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Frequency choice for radio telemetry : HF-vs-VHF-Conundrum

Frequency choice for radio telemetry : HF-vs-VHF-Conundrum

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Hydrobiologia3711377.:
53-59.1998.
L~P.
Lagarder«
M.·L
Be~~oUl
"ras
&
G_Clnireaa.:c
(eds).
Advancesin
invertebrates
andFish
Telemetry.
©
1998
Ktuwer
Academic
Puidishers:
Pri,l1edinBelgiam.
53
Frequencychoiceforradiotelemetry:theHF
vs..
VHFconundrum
MitchellM.Sisak
&
JamesS.Lotirner
LorekEngineeringInc.,Newmarket,Ontario,CanadaCorrespondenceshouldbesenttoMitchellM.Sisak(e-mail:mitch.sisak/islotek.com)Keywords:
biotelemetry,radiofrequency,highfrequency,veryhighfrequencyAbstractThechoiceofoperatingfrequencyhasalwaysbeenthesubjectofconsiderablecontroversyamongstresearchers.Manyselecttheradiofrequency-a!whichtheyconducttheir-studiesbasedsolelyupontheavailabilityofequipmentathandorsimplyontradition.Researchersareoftennotful!yawareoftheproximalimpactoffrequencychoiceonoverall
system
performanceanditsultimateimpactuponthequalityofthedatathatthestudygenerates.Inanattempttoprovideresearcherswiththetools
necessary
tomakeinformedchoicesregardingradiotelemetrysystemconfigurationingeneral,andfrequencychoiceinparticular,thispaperwillpresentanoverviewofthe
7
individualcomponentsofaradiotelemetrysystem,examiningtheroleplayedbyeachconstituentinsystemoptimization.IntroductionWhiledirectobservationaltechniqueshave
long
beenavailabletoresearchersstudying[hemovementpat-ternsofterrestrialanimals,themonitoringofaquaticorganismshasalwaysposedachallenge
to
thetech-nologyoftheday.In!heaquaticmilieu,directob-servationwasanoptionforonlyalimitednumberofspeciesandenvironments.Statisticallysignificantre-sultscouldonlyberealisticallyamassedthroughtheuseofremotemonitoringtechniques.Oneof[hemostwidelyemployedtechniquesfortheremotereception
ofdatafrom
aquatic
organismsisthrough
the
detec-
tionoftheactiveradiation
from
atransmitterwhichhasbeenattached
[0
the
animal
under
study.Thisradio
arion
can
be
inseveralforms.withradioandacoustictransmittersbeingamongstthemosteffective.Bothacousticandradiotelemetryaresuitable
for
useinaquaticenvironments,butthereareattendantcostsandbenefitsassociatedwitheach.Suchfactors
as
waterdepthanditsphysico-chemicalpropertiesactinconcerttomaximizetheutilityofoneortheotherofthesemethodsandthishasbeendiscussedatlengthinanumberofsurveypapersbysuchauthorsasWin-ter(1983)andPriede(1992).Forthepurposesofthispresentationwewill
limit
ourselves
to
a
discussionof
radio
telemetrysystems.
Radio
telemetryForthemajorityoffreshwaterstudies,radiotelemetryisthemethodofchoice.Thewiderangeofsophisti-catedtransmitting,receivinganddataloggingsystemsavailabletoresearcherscoupledwiththerelativeeasewin!which
radio
telemetryequipmentcanbedeployedandthestudiesconducted.hasresultedinitswide-spreaduseinstudiesthroughoutNorthAmericaandEurope.Whilethesuitabilityofradiooveracousticteleme-tryinmanystudiesisratherclear-cut.thechoiceofop-eratingfrequencyhasalwaysbeenthesubjectofcon-siderablecontroversyamongstresearchers.Throughthecourseofdealingwithresearchersconductingra-diotelemetrystudiestheworldover,ithascometoourattentionthatmanyselecttheradiofrequencyatwhichtheyconducttheirstudiesbasedsolelyupontheavail-abilityofequipmentathandorsimply
on
tradition.Theyareoftennotfullyawareoftheproximalimpactoffrequencychoiceonoverallsystemperformanceanditsultimateimpactuponthequalityofthedatathatthestudygenerates.Whilethisapproachyieldsacceptableresultsinmanycases,thefar-rangingef-
fecrson[hepertormance
oftheentiretelemetrysystemposedbyfrequencychoicedeservesmorecarefuleval-
 
54
Table
1.Radiofrequency
classification
BandClassification
FrequencyRange
VLF
Ve.ryLowFrequency
!0[030
~Hz
LF
LowFrequency
30
to
300
kHz
MF
Medium
Frequency
300
to
3000klfz
HF
HighFrequency
3'030
101Hz
VHF
Very
High
Frequency
3010300
MHz
UHf
UltraHighFrequency
300
to
3000MHz
uationifsystemsaretobeoptimizedforparticularstudies.Onanotherfront,choiceofequipmentfortelemetrystudiesimpliesnon-trivialcapitalcostsasso-ciatedwithequipmentacquisitionaswellasattendanttrainingcosts.Theselectionoftelemetryfrequencies
resultsina'locking
in'
offutureresearchto
these
fre-
quencies.asequipmentsuchasreceiversandantennasaregenerallyfrequencyspecific.Inanattempttoprovideresearcherswiththetoolsnecessarytomakeinformedchoicesregardingradiotelemetrysystemconfigurationingeneral,andfre-quencychoiceinparticular.thispaperwillpresentanoverviewofthe7individualcomponentsofaradiotelemetrysystem,examiningtheroleplayedbyeachconstituentinsystemoptimization.Eachcomponentwillbeaddressedinturntoaffordnewcomerstoradiotelemetryanappreciationfromasystemperspective.Thisexercisewillalsohopefullyserveasarefreshercourseforthoseofyouwhoareexperiencedradiotelemetryusers.Theoretical,practicalandpreliminaryexperimentaldatawillbepresentedinadiscussionwhoseaimwillnotbetorecommendtheoptimalfrequencyofoperationforallaquatictelemetryre-search,butrathertoprovidethetoolsnecessaryforresearcherstoselecttheoptimaloperatingfrequencyfortheirparticularstudy.Wewillconcludewithareal-worldexample,permittingsystemperformancetobeevaluated.
Radiofrequencybands
Threedivisionsorbandswithintheradiofrequencyportionoftheelectromagneticspectrumhavebeentraditionallyemployedbyfisheriesresearchers.thesebeingdesignatedasthe
HE
VHFandUHFbands.Table1demonstratestherelationshipbetweenthesebands.Thecharacteristicsofthesefrequencies.whichwillbeexaminedinmoredetailbelow,makethemmostsuitableforaquaticapplications.TheradiotelemetrysystemInordertomaximizethequalityofthedatacol-lectedinaradiotelemetry-basedfisheriesmonitoringprogram,r..i-,eprincipalinvestigatormustmakewisesystemchoices.Averysignificantvariableinoptimiz-ingsystemperformanceisthechoiceofpropagatingfrequency.Unfortunately,there
is
noonefrequencythatprovesoptimalinallcases.Asiscommoninanyscience,anunderstandingofthesystemparametersandthetrade-offsbetweenthemwillultimatelyleadtheusertothebestsystemforhisapplication.Sevensystemvariablesaffectthechoiceoffre-que;ncy.Thesystem,asdepictedinTable2iscom-posedofthefollowingvariables:
TransmitterRadiatedPower(ERP
j
Theamountofradioenergythatwecanradiatefromatransmitterisdependentupontwofactors,thesebeing:
EnergySupply(battery)-
theamountofenergyavail-ablefromthebattery.Regardlessofthefrequencychosenthisvariablewillremainconstantandcanzherefore
be
ignoredinanyfrequencycomparison.
Antenna
Radiating
Efficiency-
theamountofradio
energythetransmitter'santenna
win
transfertothe
waterrelativetotheinputpower.Forfisheriestrans-mitters.wehavefoundthatan'efficientantenna'isoneinwhich(heantennalengthisatleas,25%ofthefrequency'swavelength
(A)
asmeasuredinfreespace;wavelengthequalsthespeedoflight(300000000mC
l)
dividedbythefrequency
(Hertz),
Forexample:atafrequencyof50MHzonewavelength
=
300000000/50000000
=6m
andanefficient
antenna:::::::
.25~:~
=
1.5
m
whereas
arafrequencyof150MHzA
=
300000OOOj[50000000
=2m
andanefficientantenna
=
0.25
*
2
=
0.5
m.
Itisimportanttonotethatantennaefficienciesinfreespacedroprapidlywhentheirlengthisbelowonequarterwavelength.
 
Table
2.Majorsystem
variables
55
1.
Transmitter~
£ffcctil1e
RadiatedPower(ERP)-
theelectromagneticc::r.ergy(radio
waves)radioted
from
[he:
transmitter's
antenna.
2.PropagationLoss
in
l"ater
(,Lw~u<:r)theamount
ofradio
energylestasaresalr
of
traveling
through
water.
3.
Interface
W:iS
(Li!lt)-
the
amountof
radio
energy
lost
as.
a
resultof
travelingthrough
the
air/water
Interface.
4.PropagationLoss
i.f!
Air(Lact)
-c
theamount
or
radioenergy
lostasa
resultof
traveling
through
air.
5.Receiving
Anre:mla
Gain
(Gaill)-the;
amocnr
of
radio
e_ncrgyg.li.Qedinfocusing
theelecoomagnctic
signal
atthetcceivingantenna.
6.
Propagotio«
Loss
instre
Cable
(Lc::IbleJ-the
amount
of
radioenergy
~OSl
as
a
result
of
travelingalong
the
cable,
7.Receiver
SOlSliivjry
-~helevel
at
which
the
receiver
win
findanddecode:t:-:e
radiosignal.
Thereceiver
sensitivity
can
be
limited
by
Inc
Ambiefll
Noise
Floor-
thelevelofradio
energy
in
the
surrounding
....environment.
Propagationlossinwater
(L
water)
Propagation
loss
inwaterforagivenfrequencyispre-
dictable,
measuredindecibelspermeter
(dB
m-
I),
andvarieswiththeconductivity
of
thewater.Figure
I
showstherelationship.Standardconductivitymetersmeasuretheconductivityofwaterat
the
frequencyem-ployedbythemeasuringinstrument(approximately
1MHz).so
theconductivityvalue
must
becorrectedbeforeuseatotherfrequenciesasdiscussed
by
VelIeeral,
(l979).
Asanexample,fromthegraphinFigureI,usingwaterconductivity(measuredat
I
MHz)of
200
/.is
em-Iandatemperatureof10°C.thepropagationlossat
50
MHz
is
approximately
3.6
dBm-:whileat150
MHz
it
is
approximately4.8dB
m-
I.
1rueriaceloss(Lim)
Radiowavestransitingthewater/airinterfaceexitthewaterinaconedirectlyabovethetransmitter,the
sides
ofwhichform
an
angleofapproximately
6
degreesfromthevertical(Figure
2).
Wavesarealsooolarizedverticallyasrheyexitthewater/airinterface.Interfacelossisfrequencyindependentandthusdoesno!af-fectthechoiceoffrequency,butitseffectisimportantwhendeterminingoverallsystemperformance.
Propagationlossinair
(Lair)
Propagationlossinairispredictable,measuredindBandwhilethelossisfrequencydependentthediffer-enceisconstantoverfisheriestelemetryranges.Forexamplethedifferenceinpropagationlossbetween
150
MHzand
50
MHzis10dBregardlessofthepropagationrange.
Receiving
antenna
gain
(G
l1nl)
TI,;S
situation
has
similarconsiderationsro[hetrans-mittingantennaexample.Roughlyspeaking,
an
effi-cientreceivingantennainfisheriestelemetrystudieswillformasquarewitheachsideapproximating50%ofawavelength.Therefore,for
50
MHz
you
willneedareceivingantenna
3
mby
3
mverses
I
m
by
I
mat
150MHz.
Astotraditionallyemployedantennasformanualtracking,thediamond(orloop)antennapopularwithresearchersconductingradio
telemetryin
theHFbandis
notan
idealantennaasitrepresentsacompromisebetweenelectricalcharacteristicsandportability,andtypicallypossesses
a
gain
of
-6
dBd.
A
typical4-
element
Yagi
antennaused
in
VHFbandtrackinghasaboomlengthofliOemandagainof;-7dBd.Additionally,antennaheightabovetheground
af-
fectsantennaefficiency,Thelowertheoperatingfre-quencythehigheryourantennamustbe
to
realizeany
heightadvantage.
Propagationlossinthecable(
Lcable)
Propagationlossinthecablerunningfromthere-ceivingantennatothereceiverispredictableandcanintroducesignificantsystemlosseswhenthecablelengthexceeds50meters.Belowthislengththelossesinthecablewillnotaffectthechoiceoffrequencyin
any
significantway.Indeed,even.inasystemrequiringlongcablerunstothereceiveranddataloggertherearetechniquesthatcanbeusedtoequalizeandmiti-gateanydifferencesinthefrequencyused,suchastheinclusionofpre-amplifiers.

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