Earth Station Engineering

This course lasts 5 days and is written for Engineers and Technicians who are actively involved in the satellite communications industry and wish to gain an “in-depth” understanding of the engineering aspects of a hub earth station and the satellite link budget.

The course commences with an overview of the satellite orbits, frequency allocations and applications and proceeds to introduce the typical architecture of a satellite and a ground station.

The various items of equipment present in the earth station are introduced and their parameters are discussed; enabling the engineer to understand the relevance of each specification to the system design.

A section on optimisation introduces methods demonstrating how efficient utilisation of the available space segment can lead to a better return on investment and simultaneously keep antenna sizes small.

The (optional) fifth day is spent on the link budget which commences with the theory and finishes with an explanation of the use of the proprietary software package SatmasterPro (from Arrowe technical services).

The entire earth station system is explained, based on the parameters discussed earlier and this logically leads to planning, installation and commissioning.

The course completes with a section on operation and maintenance with emphasis on safety and the reduction of outage times.

Practical demonstrations throughout course show the physical effects of the theory.



  • Frequency bands and propagation
  • Satellite orbits
  • Satellite block diagram
  • Traffic types
  • Regulatory matters
  • Earth station block diagram
  • Typical signal levels
  • Service Level Availability
  • Responsibilities
  • Industry trends

Satellite Basics

  • Footprints
  • Transponders
  • Full transponder and partial leases

RF Basics

  • dB notation
  • Power and Gain
  • VSWR
  • Coaxial cable
  • Connectors
  • Waveguide components
  • Filters
  • Amplifiers
  • Oscillators
  • Mixers
  • Power dividers
  • Couplers
  • L-Band amplification and distribution
  • Routing / switching matrices
  • RF over fibre

Modem and IRD

  • Terrestrial interfaces
  • Drop and Insert
  • Clocking and Doppler compensation
  • Overheads
  • Forward Error Correction
  • Modulation
  • DVB-S, DVB-S2 and DVB-S2X
  • Carrier ID
  • Compatibility settings

Frequency conversion

  • Single vs dual conversion
  • Spectral inversion
  • Phase noise
  • Filtering


  • Linear vs Circular polarisation
  • Radiation patterns
  • Gain
  • Beamwidth
  • Optics
  • Antenna types
  • Multi-band feeds
  • 2, 4 & 6 port feed systems
  • Antenna alignment
  • Az/El, Polar &Turning head mounts
  • Motorisation and tracking
  • G/T

Power amplifiers

  • TWTA, Klystron and SSPA
  • Linearization
  • Power combining
  • Equipment protection
  • Harmonic filtering
  • Cooling

System considerations

  • Level setting
  • Noise density
  • Slope equalisation
  • Group delay
  • Uplink power control
  • System impairments
  • Acquisition optimisation
  • Signal levels
  • IRD configuration
  • Antenna location
  • System redundancy
  • Waveguide pressurisation
  • Interference
  • Demodulator acquisition range
  • Monitor and control


  • Network architecture and access
  • IP over satellite


  • Site survey
  • Diversity (geographical and frequency)
  • Site access
  • Safety
  • RFI issues
  • Electrical requirements
  • Grounding
  • Power protection
  • Air-conditioning requirements
  • Documentation
  • Specifying equipment and services
  • Project demarcation


  • Typical rollout plan
  • Installation tools and plant
  • Antenna installation
  • Lightning protection
  • Cabling and Waveguide
  • Antenna assembly


  • Pre-distortion
  • Group delay equalisation

The link budget (optional)

  • How the satellite link budget is formed
  • The magnitude and importance of each variable
  • Interpretation of satellite operators and modem manufacturers datasheets
  • Effect of external variables (weather, interference, scintillation, satellite settings etc.)
  • Availability trade-offs
  • The use of SatmasterPro
  • Optimisation of space segment
  • Link budgets using ACM
  • Link budgets using frequency re0use techniques (e.g. CinC and paired carrier)

Operational procedures

  • Staff competences
  • Antenna commissioning
  • Circuit activation
  • Emergency shutdown
  • Decommissioning

Test equipment

  • Spectrum analyser
  • Power meter
  • TLT
  • Sat finder
  • Carrier monitoring
  • Constellation monitor
  • Scalar analyser
  • Noise figure meter


  • Maintenance
  • Non-intrusive monitoring
  • Ground / Satellite link fault isolation
  • Safety and hazards
  • Measurements precautions
  • Antenna alignment
  • G/T
  • Transmit cross pol
  • EIRP stability
  • Spectral regrowth
  • Carrier mask
  • Spurious
  • BER performance
  • Interference
  • Phase noise
  • Clocking
  • Carrier distortion


Preparation details

Duration             5 days

Participants       The minimum number of participants is typically 5

Location             We often hold this course in a conference room in a hotel or at the customer site

Materials            A course handbook is provided for each participant to use and then afterwards keep

Experience         Each participant should have a background in electronic engineering