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Turksat's Next Gen: Going Modular with ETL Frequency Converters

“ETL Systems has an exceptional research and development team, which we have worked with for years and on multiple key projects. In this instance not only were we recommending ETL’s modular frequency converters, but they were also requested by Türksat for this project. The reputation for excellent performance and reliability is now available at an even better cost point, thanks to new modular Genus technology,” Sinan Yildiz, System Integration Engineer at Pals Electronics.
Sinan Yildiz, System Integration Engineer at PALS Electronics.

The Situation

Türksat; the primary satellite communications and cable TV operations company in Turkey, is expanding its constellation with the addition of two new satellites, 5A and 5B. 

Launching in late 2020 and early 2021, the payload of a SpaceX Falcon rocket from Cape Canaveral, Turkey’s only satellite operator had a need to build new ground infrastructure that would match the technological advancements in the sky with future-proofed reliability and cost effectiveness.

The new generation communication satellites will operate in Ku- and Ka- band, and once launched will sit in geostationary orbit, with beams able to cover Turkey, the Middle East, Europe, North Africa and South Africa.

Türksat 5A is a Ku-Band satellite set to be in orbit in the 31⁰ East longitude slot, while 5B is a Ka-Band HTS satellite with over50 Gbps throughput capacity set to be positioned in the 42⁰ East longitude slot.

With a planned 15 year service lifetime, Türksat brought in trusted partner and turnkey system integrator Pals Electronics to design, procure and project manage the ground infrastructure development for the project. Cabling, installation and all required acceptance tests have been recently finalised by PALS.

Türksat; the primary satellite communications and cable TV operations company in Turkey, is expanding its constellation with the addition of two new satellites, 5A and 5B. 
Türksat expanded their satellite constellation and brought in trusted partner Pals Electronics to design and manage the ground infrastructure development. ETL's new Genus modular chassis was chosen for its future proof and scalable design.

The Task

Both satellites have been designed and built by Airbus Defense and Space, based on the successful Eurostar E3000 platform, featuring on-board electric propulsion for orbit raising and in-orbit manoeuvring.

With such advanced technology in the sky, Pals and Türksat knew they needed the very best frequency converters and matrices in place to deliver a robust Telemetry, Control and Ranging (TCR) system.

New ground infrastructure would replace legacy systems, and would be required for TCR  not just for 5A and 5B, but also for the remaining satellites in the Türksat constellation.

These vital links cannot go down, even for a moment, with system-critical data monitoring the health of the satellites with key metrics reported back from the spacecraft’s systems. 

These links are also key to pinpointing the exact location of the satellites, and when required, taking control to direct their propulsion systems from the ground, to adjust exact location and ensure their continued operability.

With broadcasters relying on 5A to be fully operational at all times and data customers from Turkey to South Africa requiring an always-on high throughput link; the TCR systems are mission critical to meeting service level agreements without compromise, which lie at the heart of the satellite sector’s value proposition.  

ETL's RF distribution solutions in operation at Turksat teleport expansion
ETL's RF distribution solutions including the Genus Falcon Frequency Converters and Enigma 32 x 32 Distributive RF Matrix in operation at Turksat's teleport

“When we include ETL products in our systems, we knew that there will be no problems and there’s no need to price in technical support as their equipment is as reliable as it gets.

ETL Systems has an exceptional research and development team, which we have worked with for years and on multiple key projects. In this instance not only were we recommending ETL’s modular frequency converters, but they were also requested by Türksat for this project. The reputation for excellent performance and reliability is now available at an even better cost point, thanks to new modular Genus technology,”

Sinan Yildiz, System Integration Engineer at Pals Electronics. 

ETL Systems RF distribution equipment being used by Turksat
Above: Multiple Genus Chassis' with Falcon Frequency converters, ETL's flagship Enigma 32 x 32 RF Matrix and Victor 16x16 RF Matrix. ETL Systems RF distribution equipment was requested by Turksat for the reliability and modularity

The Design

“Pals is a key partner for us and it's great to hear that both they and Turksat actively requested our new frequency converter range and our tried and tested matrices for this project. As always, gold standard redundancy, reliability and performance are key, but with our new modular designs the team is able to save a lot of rack space and expense while also future-proofing and ensuring against the need for potentially expensive configuration changes in the years to come as the satellite constellation adapts and grows,”

Mohamad Barada. RF Systems Architect & International Sales Manager. ETL Systems.

Each of the four Earth stations, located in Ankara and the system has been designed to require relatively few antennas thanks to some smart engineering.

A four-port VSAT antenna with two uplinks and two downlinks is all that’s required, when combined with ETL’s Falcon L-Band to IF Agile Frequency Downconverter modules and Falcon IF to L-band Agile Frequency Upconverters.

Each of the converter modules has been populated in ETL’s new Genus smart chassis, a major step forward in ground-segment technology, enabling RF equipment, frequency converters, amplifiers, switch matrices and RF over fibre technologies to be hot-swapped in and out of a single chassis in a modular way.

At the end of life, modules can be renewed without the need to replace an entire unit. This is especially important where low cost units such as power supplies and fans can be easily replaced, becoming serviceable parts whilst the RF system modules remain operational and software upgradeable.

The chassis itself is also smarter, forming a habitat which tracks which modules are installed and records the operational history of the unit alongside other factors like heat, humidity, operational cycles and other important environmental and functional data.

Most importantly for Türksat and Pals, the Genus chassis has enabled the project team to combine five frequency converters in a single 1U chassis.

In addition, various matrices have also been custom-made in size for the project, including one Enigma distributive matrix, one Victor distributive matrix, and two Victor combining matrices.

The Result

Using ETL’s new smart modular Genus chassis, Pals and Türksat have been able to reduce costs without compromising on reliability, performance or redundancy.

The cost savings on frequency conversion systems is driven by ETL’s Genus redesign - no other manufacturer can fit as many frequency converters within comparable chassis space.

Each of the RF system modules can also be hot-swapped, meaning there can be common spares provisioning and significant rack space saving all housed in a robust habitat configured to suit high resilience applications.

In-field upgrades are also much easier and more flexible by adding additional modules to an existing chassis if it’s later required. Up-converters can be combined with down-converters as required and hot-swapped in and out with ease.