The International Consumer Electronics Show has started to serve as a launching pad for radio products for both the high-end consumer and commercial/government sectors. This year's show highlighted a GPS-enabled scanner, an award-winning low-profile satellite antenna for vehicles with an integrated Wi-Fi hotspot in the supporting electronics, a hot-swappable hydrogen fuel cell, and a low-cost cellular phone signal extender for homes and small businesses.

Uniden's BearCat BCT15 scanner uses GPS to provide automatic scanning selection based upon a user's location. Users also can customize the scanner display to show location-based information. “Say I'm driving from Fort Worth to Dallas,” said Paul Optiz, Uniden's product manager. “As I get closer to Dallas, it starts monitoring the frequencies associated with Dallas, and it drops monitoring frequencies around Fort Worth.”

The scanner is pre-programmed with state and local public-safety frequencies. It also can be programmed to deliver GPS-triggered alerts at areas of special interest, such as dangerous intersections and school zones.

Additional features include the BearTracker warning system, Uniden's Close Call RF Capture Technology — which instantly tunes to signals from nearby transmitters — and dynamic memory management. In addition, the device has 2500 channels with a frequency range of 25 MHz to 1.3 GHz (excluding cellular and UHF TV frequencies). The BCT15 should hit retail shelves over the summer with a list price of about $380.
(www.uniden.com)

RaySat, a manufacturer of in-motion low-profile phased-array satellite antennas for vehicles, garnered substantial attention with its introduction of the StealthRay. The 5.7-inch high antenna is mounted securely on the vehicle's roof and provides on-the-move, high-speed, two-way data connections for enterprise, government, military and public-safety users.

“The unique point for StealthRay is that it is the only system available for two-way connectivity. All other systems require you get to a remote location and then set up for data connectivity,” said Lynette Henley, RaySat's director of marketing.

The system employs proprietary technology to receive a satellite signal using a unique set of phased-array panels that rotate and pivot inside a self-contained, weather-resistant housing. The panels automatically track a satellite to maintain a steady signal for clear data reception and transmission. Available now with price dependent upon service and configuration needs, StealthRay can operate with most of the Ku-band satellites worldwide and can be integrated with most VSAT terminal platforms in the market.
(www.raysat.com)

First responders also will want to take a look at Jadoo Power's NABII fuel cell.

“There's a clear need for mission-critical, off-grid reliable power,” said Jack Peterson, vice president of sales and marketing for Jadoo. “Over [a] year or two, without a trickle charge, a battery is dead. In the case of a fuel cell, you have the fuel and have 100 percent charge available.”

Initially marketed to the professional broadcast industry, the portable fuel cell power system is now being offered to first responders and other off-grid users to power laptops, radios and other portable devices. The NABII uses hydrogen gas in combination with air to generate power and has a virtually infinite shelf life when compared with batteries. It uses a hot-swap capability to avoid power interruptions and has a rapid refill/recharge time for fuel canisters. The fuel cell weighs a little less than 5 pounds and is able to generate 130 W/hr. of power at a 50 W load when combined with a 2-pound N-Store hydrogen fuel canister.
(www.jadoopower.com)

For the remote enterprise worker, Spotwave Wireless unveiled the Zen home/small office wireless coverage solution. “We see both professional installers and consumers [installing it], and we're going to support both,” said Mike Roper, chief technology officer of Spotwave. “We've had discussion with a number of people, and it seems to be a good fit with the in-building networking and satellite TV [firms].”

Zen improves the indoor signal strength of cell phones, PDAs and other mobile devices across the entire PCS band for spaces up to 2500 square feet. It supports CDMA, GSM, EV-DO and UMTS in North America. The out-of-the-box solution uses Spotwave's intelligent coverage system to constantly monitor and adjust indoor signal strength to prevent oscillation and harmful interference. Zen will be available in the second quarter of 2006 for a list price of $399.
(www.spotwave.com)

Rugged, multi-mode enterprise-level hand-held

Symbol Technologies bills its MC70 mobile computer as the first rugged “enterprise digital assistant” to combine cellular voice and data communications, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It is designed for indoor and outdoor use and performs a variety of applications including asset management, fleet management and mobile point of sale. The device can withstand “the rigors of everyday use in a variety of environments, including frequent 4-foot drops to concrete and exposure to water and dust,” the company said in a news release.

In addition, Symbol announced the development of a rugged mobile computer designed to operate on Sprint Nextel's iDEN push-to-talk network. The MC9097 also offers GPS capabilities and wireless connectivity via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the company said.
www.symbol.com

‘Plug-and-play’ equipment rack for SMR radios

Radio Frequency Systems' integrated equipment rack for base stations offers “plug-and-play” capability for 900 MHz specialized mobile radio carriers. The rack bundles tailored components — including a high-performance RF duplexer section and all wiring — into a space-efficient 19-inch footprint. The result is faster installation and ultimate convenience, the company said. The pre-configured rack accommodates up to six radios.

RFS also unveiled a dual-band, bi-directional amplifier to boost coverage inside buildings, including parking garages and shopping centers. The RFS 48960 BDA amplifies the signal from a donor base antenna, which is then re-distributed via an indoor service antenna system, providing coverage without the need for additional radios, the company said. It supports 800 MHz and 900 MHz specialized mobile radio services, provides signal gain of 65 dB and offers dynamic range of about 50 dB.
www.rfsworld.com

Next-gen wireless LAN solutions

Several companies announced their first products that are compliant with the IEEE 802.11n draft specification. Atheros Communications launched the XSPAN family of wireless local area network technologies, which includes the AR5008 chipset, which employs multiple input, multiple output technology to deliver data rates of up to 300 Mb/s, with a typical range of 150 Mb/s to 180 Mb/s.

In addition, Marvell said the 88W836X family of products, first announced in October 2005, now fully complies with the standard. The family includes scaleable gateway and access point solutions that provide data rates from 300 Mb/s to 600 Mb/s and Ethernet connectivity from 100 Mb/s to 1 Gb/s, according to the company.

Finally, Broadcom unveiled its Intensi-fi solution that consists of a media access controller/baseband chip and a radio chip that can be configured for a variety of high-speed wireless applications. Also available are two network processors that allow customers to optimize cost versus performance for wireless router designs, the company said.
www.atheros.com
www.marvell.com
www.broadcom.com

Wireless broadband subscriber module

Motorola added the Canopy Lite subscriber module to the MOTOwi4 Canopy wireless broadband product lineup. The module provides affordable, always-on wireless Internet connectivity for applications such as e-mail, Web browsing and voice-over-IP, the company said. The device offers initial data throughputs of up to 512 kb/s in the 5.7 GHz spectrum and has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $200. It is designed for network operators seeking to move beyond the enterprise market into the residential sector, the company said. Motorola expects to ship modules in other frequencies during the first quarter of 2006.
www.motorola.com

Taxi dispatch solution

IntelliFleet from Mentor Engineering is an automated dispatching and mobile computing system designed for taxi fleets that consists of six modules, including: IntelliFleet, a taxi dispatch system with automated trip matching; IntelliReport, which provides system reporting; IntelliPay, which offers in-vehicle credit card verification and credit and debit card transactions; IntelliClerk, for collecting driver rental fees; IntelliMap, which provides GPS-based vehicle tracking; and IntelliClaim, for insurance claim tracking.
www.mentoreng.com

Signal-and-noise voter

Raytheon JPS Communications' SNV-12 signal-and-noise voter now offers software-enabled features, including a variable onset delay timer and the ability to reduce pilot-tone-detection sensitivity. The device uses individual DSPs to continuously select the receiver with the best signal-to-noise ratio from multiple sources, then provides the best voted output to a dispatcher and/or repeater, the company said.

The onset delay timer lets users on wireless or IP-based networks link voting receiver audio with the SNV-12; the timer restrains the lock until the network sites have unsquelched their communications devices. The pilot-tone-detection sensitivity feature minimizes false squelching due to environmental noise, while letting the SNV-12 detect valid pilot tones.
www.jps.com

Automatic vehicle location server

Kelrad Software has developed the Kelrad Server System for use with Kenwood USA's Fleetsync messaging protocol. The server uses both the protocol as well as the Internet to transfer automatic vehicle location, or AVL, data and reduces AVL system start-up costs by eliminating the need for a data radio base station, the company said. The server integrates GPS tracking with standard UHF and VHF systems and provides automatic system roaming, e-mail notification of speeding units and status messaging.
www.kelrad.com

Ball mounts for large devices

Ram Mounts' E-size (3 ⅜-inch diameter) ball mounts are designed for large electronic devices weighing up to 25 pounds. The mounts guard against shock and vibration in punishing conditions and environments, the company said. Several bases and two lengths of double-socket arms are available.
www.ram-mounts.com

Compact portable radios

SLX Series VHF and UHF portable radios measure 3.93×1.33×2.2 inches and weigh 9.6 ounces with battery. The radios are rated IP-54 for water and dust intrusion, and MIL-STD 810F for shock and vibration. In addition, they offer voice-activated operation, wideband and narrowband operation, 60 channels and power output of up to 5 W (VHF) and up to 4 W (UHF). Frequency range is 126 MHz to 174 MHz (VHF) and 406 MHz to 470 MHz (UHF). Other features include scan/priority scan, voice scrambler, emergency call button, caller/group identification, 15 hours of battery life and an 8-character alphanumeric display.
www.ritron.com

Coaxial lightning protector

The Model EFM-30-512 coaxial lightning protector from EFM Communications will pass RF frequencies from 30 MHz to 512 MHz while attenuating lightning frequencies (DC to 1 MHz) and passing them to the ground, the company said. The device is designed to be used in systems where there is no DC voltage on the coaxial to power tower-mounted electronics.
www.efmcommunications.com

*spotlight: Antennas and base stations

Thales

The AN/PRC-148 MBITR base station operates over VHF and UHF frequencies, provides a frequency range of 30 MHz to 512 MHz, offers RF output of 20 W, supports both AC and DC power input and features a removable control head that supports remote operations. In addition, the device supports Type I- and Type III-encrypted radios, as well as unencrypted versions, the company said.
www.thalescomminc.com

Radio Frequency Systems

The Cellflex A coaxial transmission cable for wireless broadband data applications improves attenuation performance by up to 8% over conventional transmission lines, the company said. It is available in ⅞-, 1 ¼- and 1 ⅝-inch diameters in standard UV-resistant polyethylene; flame- and fire-retardant jacket options also are available. The cable is compatible with RFS's Rapid Fit two-piece connector line; this combination offers reduced return loss across the frequency range — up to a 6 dB improvement at 2.2 GHz — and exhibits consistently low and stable intermodulation levels, the company said.
www.rfsworld.com

Astron

Omnidirectional and Yagi antennas for the 700 MHz band are available with Direct Connect, which lets users determine the length of the coaxial cable and the type of connector used for the antenna's termination. This feature reduces the number of required connection points and consequently reduces decibel loss, the company said.

In addition, Astron introduced the HESA Direction Finding antenna platform, which provides a flexible platform for configuring multiple antenna elements in a small form factor. The technology increases signal capture and reduces error rates, letting users add frequencies to achieve more target bandwidth while maintaining accuracy in a miniaturized form factor, the company said.
www.astronwireless.com

PCTEL

The MAXRAD wideband VHF antenna covers frequencies from 136 MHz through 174 MHz and provides 38 MHz of bandwidth with no tuning required, eliminating the need to install multiple VHF antennas on a vehicle to compensate for the reduced bandwidth of other antennas. Designed to withstand high-vibration conditions typical in trucking applications, the antenna measures 21 inches, making it suitable for installations in trucks or other vehicles where rooftop clearance may be a concern.

In addition, the APG MEFC49005 4.9 GHz elevated feed mobile antenna features a feed point that is elevated 6 inches above its mounting surface, easily clearing the overhead light bars in police and ambulance vehicles that often obstruct and prevent true omnidirectional coverage, the company said. It operates both on and off a ground plane without degradation of VSWR performance.
http://antenna.pctel.com

Comprod

The company's VHF and UHF base station antennas now are being manufactured via a welded construction technique that results in antennas that are up to 400% stronger and 25% lighter than u-bolt and casting designs, the company said.
www.comprodcom.com

Telewave

The ANT770F2 antenna, which covers the 734-806 MHz band, measures 38 inches tall, weighs just 8 pounds and requires no external ground-plane, the company said. The antenna features a fiberglass radome that protects internal components even in adverse conditions, produces 2.5 dBd gain, and offers a 200 MPH wind rating without ice loading. The F2 Series is designed to eliminate shadowing that is prevalent in canyons near mountaintop sites and to provide better reliability than traditional fiberglass or aluminum “stick” antennas, the company said.
www.telewave.com

Tait

The TB8100 analog, continuous-duty base station now is available in UHF, VHF, 800 MHz and 900 MHz versions. Also available is the TB7100 base station, which provides up to 50 W of power output, an internal AC power supply and a duplexer in a 1U format. The device offers up to 100 channels, data rates up to 19.2 kb/s and continuous-duty operation at 40 W (UHF) or 50 W (VHF). It also can operate at ambient temperatures of up to 122° F (50° C), the company said.
www.taitworld.com

Radiall/Larsen

The SPWB Series of VHF/UHF wideband dipole antennas are designed for use with Motorola, EFJohnson and Kenwood radios, as well as other popular brands. Frequency range is 136 MHz to 174 MHz (VHF) and 380 MHz to 470 MHz (UHF).
www.radialllarsen.com

STI-CO

Interoperable antenna operates in the VHF, UHF and 800 MHz bands. The antenna attaches to the vehicle via a magnet or roof mount and is equipped with a coupler that contains ports to connect VHF, UHF and 800 MHz transmission devices.
www.stico.com

Icom

The DRB-25 offers dual transceivers, each of which can be used as a base station or repeater for general communications. Or, the second transceiver can be configured to act as a link to other base stations or repeaters. In addition, the Windows software-controlled device requires little in-the-field tuning or adjustments, and future changes require only a simple hot-swap of the appropriate module, the company said.
www.icomamerica.com