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HDR - About GATR

Frequently Asked Questions

Who uses the GATR / What are its applications?

Principally, our customers include U.S. and foreign military (especially Special Operations forces due to their rapid, light deployment requirements), emergency relief personnel (including federal, state, local, and international disaster response agencies, NGO's, and private relief companies), and companies that require rapidly deployable, high-bandwidth satellite communications, including TV broadcasters.

Our customers use the antenna for first-in communications (in the one hour to several months timeframe), as well as contingency communications and other short-to-medium term deployments where both high bandwidth AND portability are needed.

How is the dish shape achieved?

The dish is actually a flexible reflective fabric (a big misconception for almost everyone).

The ball simply acts as a pressure vessel to help us achieve the parabolic shape of the dish. The inflation system inflates the ball to the correct pressure, keeping the upper hemisphere pressure, above the dish, slightly higher thereby pushing the dish down into the parabolic shape.

The ball also acts as a feed arm, supporting the feed at the proper focal length.

Click here to view the GATR Setup Animation

Does the blower have to stay on?

It does or else the dish would collapse when the pressure above and below the dish equalized. Of course, whatever components you're supplying the satellite signal to will also need power and the blower requires very little power to keep the dish inflated. So it can be maintained for long periods on a battery or solar power if desired, though we typically use a generator or "wall" power.

How high does it go?

It actually doesn’t leave the ground. While some antennas are “aerostats,” the GATR is a traditional, ground-mounted antenna like the ones you see in people’s backyards or on the roofs of buildings.

How well does it perform?

Our antennas perform comparably to rigid dish technology.

How stable is the GATR in wind?

The GATR is actually more stable in winds than a rigid dish, due to the spherical shape of the ball (which deflects wind efficiently around the antenna) and the four cables which attach at eight separate points on the ball, gripping it and holding it tightly even in high winds.

The GATR is operational to winds of 40+ mph (higher than most every rigid antenna) and can survive 60+ mph.

Can the GATR withstand harsh environmental conditions?

The GATR antenna system is built using a strong material and webbing to increase the durability of the radome. The GATR system can be used in places with extreme heat and cold, as well as in rugged landscapes. The GATR system is currently in use throughout the world, including in areas with harsh environmental conditions.

How is it pointed?

The GATR is a manual point antenna. To point, you simply set the azimuth (east/west direction) when you set out the four hold-down plates on the four corners. When the square formed by the four plates is oriented toward the satellite, the antenna will then inflate pointing toward the satellite. The cables then leave you 10 degrees of mobility to either side to help you find the satellite.

The elevation is set using an analog level (or inclinometer) sewn into the side of the GATR and the cable eyelets on the four plates. This allows you to slide the entire ball up or down from 0 to 90 degrees.

The polarity is adjusted manually by turning the feed horn, just as on any other antenna.

Click here to view the animated setup video.

How EASY is it to point?

After one or two set-ups, operators find the GATR is easier to point than a rigid dish, because it can be moved in more than one axis at a time. Normally a dish is moved in azimuth (east/west) then elevation, then azimuth again, and so on until the satellite is acquired. Since the GATR can be moved in any direction, one can usually find the satellite much more quickly.

What happens if it’s shot/punctured?

Our automatic inflation unit will adjust blower speed to compensate for small caliber holes, and the antenna will stay inflated. Since the blower is always on, air constantly flows out of the ball. The size of the hole is limited by the rip-stop material, and the durable construction of the radome. While accidental tears are extremely rare, a special tape is provided for sealing any leaking that might occur.

Click here to view the video demonstration

Is there another system like this?

No – this design is patented and is a unique solution in the industry.

What sizes do you make?

We make several sizes, including a 1.2 meter, a 1.8 meter, and a 2.4 meter. In all cases, the antenna itself can be packaged in ONE airline checkable case.

The benefits of making a much smaller inflatable dish are limited, because the dish is actually among the smallest components in the GATR terminal, and a larger dish gives you more bandwidth and reliability in poor conditions.

Is this technology something that can be used by consumers?

Its high-bandwidth and data communication attributes makes our solution more applicable to both Government and Commercial uses.

At what bands does the GATR operate?

We currently have the Ku-, C-, and X-band systems. Ka-band is planned for 2013. These products use the same antenna structure but a separate feed mount for the alternate bands.

What is your hope for the long term or future impact?

We hope to revolutionize remote satellite communications.

Is the GATR available commercially now?

Yes. Since achieving FCC certification in the summer of 2008, it is now available for all sectors.
Who uses the GATR / What are its applications? Principally, our customers include U.S. and foreign military (especially Special Operations forces due to their rapid, light deployment requirements), emergency relief personnel (including federal, state, local, and international disaster response agencies, NGO’s, and private relief companies), and companies that require rapidly deployable, high-bandwidth satellite communications, including TV broadcasters. Our customers use the antenna for first-in communications (in the one hour to several months timeframe), as well as contingency communications and other short-to-medium term deployments where both high bandwidth AND portability are needed. How is the dish shape achieved? The dish is actually a flexible reflective fabric (a big misconception for almost everyone). The ball simply acts as a pressure vessel to help us achieve the parabolic shape of the dish. The inflation system inflates the ball to the correct pressure, keeping the upper hemisphere pressure, above the dish, slightly higher thereby pushing the dish down into the parabolic shape. The ball also acts as a feed arm, supporting the feed at the proper focal length. Does the blower have to stay on? It does or else the dish would collapse when the pressure above and below the dish equalized. Of course, whatever components you’re supplying the satellite signal to will also need power and the blower requires very little power to keep the dish inflated. So it can be maintained for long periods on a battery or solar power if desired, though we typically use a generator or “wall” power. How high does it go? It actually doesn’t leave the ground. While some antennas are “aerostats,” the GATR is a traditional, ground-mounted antenna like the ones you see in people’s backyards or on the roofs of buildings. How well does it perform? Our antennas perform comparably to rigid dish technology. How stable is the GATR in wind? The GATR is actually more stable in winds than a rigid dish, due to the spherical shape of the ball (which deflects wind efficiently around the antenna) and the four cables which attach at eight separate points on the ball, gripping it and holding it tightly even in high winds. The GATR is operational to winds of 45+ mph (higher than most every rigid antenna) and can survive 60+ mph. Can the GATR withstand harsh environmental conditions? The GATR antenna system is built using a strong material and webbing to increase the durability of the ball. The GATR system can be used in places with extreme heat and cold, as well as in rugged landscapes. The GATR system is currently in use throughout the world, including in areas with harsh environmental conditions. How is it pointed? The GATR is a manual point antenna. To point, you simply set the azimuth (east/west direction) when you set out the four hold-down plates on the four corners. When the square formed by the four plates is oriented toward the satellite, the antenna will then inflate pointing toward the satellite. The cables then leave you 10 degrees of mobility to either side to help you find the satellite. The elevation is set using an analog level (or inclinometer) sewn into the side of the GATR and the pulleys on the four plates. This allows you to slide the entire ball up or down from 0 to 90 degrees. The polarity is adjusted manually by turning the feed horn, just as on any other antenna. How EASY is it to point? After one or two set-ups, operators find the GATR is easier to point than a rigid dish, because it can be moved in more than one axis at a time. Normally a dish is moved in azimuth (east/west) then elevation, then azimuth again, and so on until the satellite is acquired. Since the GATR can be moved in any direction, one can usually find the satellite much more quickly. What happens if it’s shot/punctured? Our automated controller will adjust blower speed to compensate for small caliber holes, and the ball will stay inflated. Since the blower is always on, air constantly flows out of the ball. The size of the hole is limited by the rip-stop material, and the durable construction of the radome. While accidental tears are extremely rare, a special tape is provided for sealing any that might occur. Is there another system like this? No – this design is patented and is a unique solution in the industry. What sizes do you make? We make several sizes, including a 1.2 meter, a 1.8 meter, and a 2.4 meter. In all cases, the antenna itself can be packaged in ONE airline checkable case. The benefits of making a much smaller inflatable dish are limited, because the dish is actually among the smallest components in the GATR terminal, and a larger dish gives you more bandwidth and reliability in poor conditions. Is this technology something that can be used by consumers? Its high-bandwidth and data communication attributes makes our solution more applicable to both Government and Commercial uses. At what bands does the GATR operate? We currently have the Ku-, C-, and X-band systems. Ka-band is planned for 2013. These products use the same antenna structure but a separate feed mount for the alternate bands. What is your hope for the long term or future impact? We hope to revolutionize remote satellite communications. Is the GATR available commercially now? Yes. Since achieving FCC certification in the summer of 2008, it is now available for all sectors.