In designing a wireless system, certain assumptions about the propagation path are generally made. Idealized models are often used as a baseline to model the path even if they don’t necessarily represent the real world. Seasoned engineers understand that the real world is more complex than that. When the ideal world meets the real world in the field, the sleepless nights start to pile up searching for solutions to problems you didn’t know you had.
Know Thy Enemy
Propagation conditions vary depending on common factors like temperature, atmospheric moisture, and time of day. It’s also well known that seasonal variations like foliage and wind can have a significant impact on the channel. Beyond that, there are also more esoteric variables to consider. Human activity can have a surprising and unpredictable impact, as well.
History is full of surprising anecdotes like steam releases from a factory creating a temperature inversion layer. A more modern example is wind turbines which frequently cause RF signal flutter. When it’s particularly windy and a certain bank of turbines are active, the path will generate high-frequency flutter. That flutter can be problematic only when the turbines are pointed at a certain direction or the turbines rotate at a particular speed. Either way, it’s never predictable and it’s not the kind of thing that’s included in typical idealized propagation models.
Unfortunately, it’s not until after you’ve invested time and resources in the field that these problems are discovered. When they do present themselves, you’ll want to be ready to capture the impaired signal to better understand their nature, impact, and frequency.
Launch a Counterattack
RF recorders are powerful weapons in the battle against these elusive propagation phenomena. Identifying and understanding their nature with RF recorders is often the quickest route to developing a countermeasure. And the surest way to understand the anomaly is to capture it with as much fidelity as possible.
Capture fleeting propagation anomalies. It’s imperative that fleeting anomalies are captured even when your team is not around to witness them firsthand. Spectrum Monitors can be configured to run continuously in the field and make RF Recordings autonomously when the RF transmitter or receiver encounters interference, unusual propagation conditions, or errored packets. When something goes wrong at 2 a.m., a high fidelity RF recording will be made automatically, capturing the full event for future analysis—on your schedule.