Radio World 1150 - October 23, 2019

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Go on the Road With a Nomad Engineering firm aims for a faster, simpler way to measure FM/HDR antenna performance BY JAMES CARELESS

Field-measuring an FM or HD Radio propagation pattern is a time-consuming, mind-numbing task. It’s not quite up there with watching paint dry but it can be close. The reason: Even with the latest in computerized data collection equipment, conventional measurements require an engineer to drive inside the antenna’s expected coverage area to collect realtime signal strength readings. This is a task that is repetitive, and can take hours to execute. The collected FM/HDR measurements are then taken back to the station to create an accurate propagation/coverage map. If this map shows certain areas where signal strength is lower than expected — or that the antenna itself is not performing to specifications — then surprise! It’s time to send the engineer back out to take more measurements to verify the anomalies. (Only afterwards, when an accurate coverage map has been compiled, can work

be done at the antenna/transmission site to remedy the problem.) A piece of equipment called the HDR/FM Nomad Analyze promises to substantially reduce the amount of time associated with measuring and tuning HDR/ FM antenna performance. It is made by Octave Communications,

October 23, 2019

a Canadian engineering consulting firm that specializes in radio broadcasting, telecommunications and RF analysis measurement software. Octave says the Nomad speeds up the field measurement process by having engineers create a “pre-simulation” model of the coverage site before conducting field readings using Nomad’s computer-based measurement system. READY-TO-USE MAPS “The presimulation incorporates the expected signal strength across the antenna’s coverage area, creating a predictive model ready to be tested before you hit the road,” said Francois Gauthier, Octave’s president. “Once you are driving through the coverage area, Nomad compares actual signal reception points using its onboard radio receivers, and compares that data against the pre-simulation. If there are problems, the unit tells you, allowing you to take extra measurements right then,” he said. “In this way, your field time is spent verifying the pre-simulation — including detecting and investigating (continued on page 12)

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