Telecom’s Humble Beginnings
Microwave’s Humble Start
The AN/UPN-1 was a radar Pathfinder radio beacon used by the United States Army Air Forces and Airborne forces during World War II.
The Radar beacon AN/UPN-1&2, also known as “BUPS” (Beacon, Ultra Portable, S-band), was an ultra-portable radio beacon for ground, paratroop or shipboard use having a range of 35 to 50 miles.
A Bit Of History
In 1931 an Anglo-French consortium headed by Andre C. Clavier demonstrated an experimental microwave relay link across the English Channel using 10 foot (3 m) dishes. Telephony, telegraph and facsimile data was transmitted over the bidirectional 1.7 GHz beams 64 km (40 miles) between Dover, UK and Calais, France. The radiated power, produced by a miniature Barkhausen-Kurz tube located at the dish’s focus, was one-half watt. A 1933 military microwave link between airports at St. Inglevert, UK and Lympne, France, a distance of 56 km (35 miles) was followed in 1935 by a 300 MHz telecommunication link, the first commercial microwave relay system.
The development of radar during World War 2 provided much of the microwave technology which made practical microwave communication links possible, particularly the klystron oscillator and techniques of designing parabolic antennas.
During the 1950s the AT&T Long Lines system of microwave relay links grew to carry the majority of US long distance telephone traffic, as well as intercontinental television network signals. The prototype was called TDX and was tested with a connection between New York City and Murray Hill, the location of Bell Laboratories in 1946. The TDX system was set up between New York and Boston in 1947. The TDX was improved to the TD2, which still used klystron tubes in the transmitters, and then later to the TD3 that used solid state electronics. The main motivation in 1946 to use microwave radio instead of cable was that a large capacity could be installed quickly and at less cost. It was expected at that time that the annual operating costs for microwave radio would be greater than for cable. There were two main reasons that a large capacity had to be introduced suddenly: Pent up demand for long distance telephone service, because of the hiatus during the war years, and the new medium of television, which needed more bandwidth than radio.
Though not commonly known, the US Military used both portable and fixed-station microwave communications in the European Theater during WWII. Starting in the late 1940s, this continued to some degree into the 1960s, when many of these links were supplanted with tropospheric scatter or satellite systems. When the NATO military arm was formed, much of this existing equipment was transferred to communications groups. The typical communications systems used by NATO during that time period consisted of the technologies which had been developed for use by the telephone carrier entities in host countries. One example from the USA is the RCA CW-20A 1–2 GHz microwave relay system which utilized flexible UHF cable rather than the rigid waveguide required by higher frequency systems, making it ideal for tactical applications. The typical microwave relay installation or portable van had two radio systems (plus backup) connecting two LOS sites. These radios would often provide communication for 24 telephone channels of frequency division multiplexed signal (i.e. Lenkurt 33C FDM), though any channel could be designated to carry up to 18 teletype communications instead. Similar systems from Germany and other member nations were also in use.
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