By supporting the Punch Powertrain Solar Team in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, Barrett Communications are demonstrating the benefits that high frequency (HF) radio communications can offer in remote communications.

Typically HF is seen as only long distance communications, but can offer other benefits.

The Punch Powertrain Solar Team have called on Barrett to assist them with communications between ‘Brains’ and ‘Eagle’ which is a distance of 100km. HF communications is also suited to long distance emergency communications such as the distance between Eagle and a base station in Alice Springs, which may be up to 1,500km away.

To achieve both distances of communication effectively, both the Barrett 2019 auto tuning antenna and the Barrett 2018 magnetic loop HF antenna have been installed on Eagle.

Both antennas are capable of these distances. However, the 2018 is more ideal for shorter distances where the skip zone is more evident due to its NVIS propagation characteristics.

All calls taken and received via HF in Brains and Eagle are free of charge as HF technology uses the ionosphere to bounce waves from the transmitting and receiving antennas.

Unfortunately ‘Punch One’ suffered a tire issue on day one but still finished in 5th place

The Barrett 2019 auto tuning antenna is suited to achieve the long distance requirements between the team and Alice Springs.

This typical whip based antenna may transmit and receive signals 3,000km away, depending on frequency selection and environmental conditions, much greater distances may be achieved.

The 2019 has the option for an internal fit GPS receiver, which when connected to the Barrett 2020 email, fax and data system and vehicle tracking allows for data to also be transmitted to Alice Springs.

During the challenge, Eagle is transmitting GPS coordinates for vehicle tracking and sending emails with image attachments via HF to Alice Springs. These messages are relayed to the Barrett Communications head office in Perth, 2,505km away, via the internet.

To achieve medium distance communications between Brains and Eagle of 100km, the Barrett 2019 may not be suitable due to the skip zones typical with whip-based antennas.

To overcome this, the Barrett 2018 magnetic loop HF antenna is near vertical incidence skywave (NVIS) in design and is ideal for distances between 30km and 150 km.

The NVIS design of the 2018 antenna and its narrow band width (high-Q) exhibit high immunity to background noise from the engines of the two moving vehicles.

As a result, the voice quality over this distance is clear. This type of antenna is also successfully used in mountainous or obstructed terrain.

As our customers have recognised the benefits of having both antennas mounted on their vehicles, Barrett recently released the 2065 dual antenna switch, which allows the operator to switch between the two antennas, while remaining in the moving vehicle.

The Eagle vehicle for the challenge is a Barrett training vehicle and has the 2050 HF transceiver, 2019 auto tuning HF antenna, 2018 Mobile magnetic loop HF antenna and the 2065 dual antenna switch.

The Brains vehicle is a short-term hire vehicle and a temporary installation of the 2050 HF transceiver and the 2018 mobile magnetic loop HF antenna has been undertaken for this event.