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Houston PD Takes Flight With RF Extreme

The company is furnishing $2.5 million worth of gear for the city's helicopter fleet and microwave sites.

Nucomm and RF Central, part of The Vitec Group’s RF Extreme business unit, are shipping $2.5 million worth of equipment to the City of Houston for its helicopter fleet and microwave downlink and receive products.

It’s part of the city’s transition from analog to digital.

In addition to providing equipment, RF Central is managing the entire installation and integration of the contract, part of a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The new equipment will give the police department an advanced, helicopter-based digital microwave system designed to deliver both standard and high-definition encrypted video to fixed receive locations, such as a mobile command post and hand-held receivers and monitors.

In addition, a small number of receivers will go for trial runs in a limited number of Houston Police Department patrol vehicles to test their capability and connection, via USB cable, to each vehicle’s laptop. Only a minimal amount of operator intervention is required to achieve reliable transmission and reception through the advent of advanced diversity receivers and associated control systems.

“This is a significant contract for our military, aerospace and government [MAG] group,” said Nathan Lader, RF Extreme vice president of government programs. “By having RF Extreme provide the products and services necessary for the City of Houston’s Police Department, we are able to demonstrate our efficiency in delivering end-to-end customizable solutions for our customers.”

Among the digital microwave products being shipped to the Houston Police Department are: diversity receivers, airborne COFDM transmitters, Dzus rail-mountable transmitter remote control units, steerable antennas, flat panel sector antennas, portable receivers and USB miniature digital receivers for squad car PC laptops.

Upon receiving the contract for this project, RF Extreme surveyed the Houston Police Department’s needs and existing equipment to identify potential challenges.

“The Houston Police Department’s MD500 helicopter is a small aircraft, and its payload is an area of concern,” says Sean Drew, business development manager at RF Extreme. “However, in using Nucomm’s fully integrated, lightweight Channel Master CMTX7 6.5 GHz HD digital transmitter, we have been able to overcome this issue.”

Drew said the company also recognized that the gain within the helicopter was low due to the omni transmit antenna. “To combat this, we were able to create more link gain at the receive sites by using high-gain Ultra Scan steerable and sector antennas,” he said. “We were also able to secure a robust signal by employing Newscaster DR diversity receivers, which add stability to the digital link by utilizing maximal ratio combining.”

More than 500 hours of manpower is anticipated for the installation phase, which will be led by a team of RF Central engineers and integration specialists, along with subcontractors. All equipment, including that being built into the City of Houston’s law enforcement helicopter and mobile command unit, is expected to be delivered, installed and commissioned during the spring of 2009.


RF Central
The Vitec Group