Pepro LLC

Report from the Field - Wyoming

Jul 01, 2013 | Posted in -- The Pepro Blog

Over the past six years, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has been evaluating its radio sites to find and fix the specific risks that compromise the reliability of our communications infrastructure. The audit phase is due to be completed at the end of this year, at which point all BLM owned and leased radio sites, nationwide, will be inspected by specialists in condition assessment, but that doesn’t mean all sites can wait that long for attention.

In Wyoming, 13 sites were determined to need immediate attention. Steven Strate, telecommunications manager for the BLM, defined the needs for keeping communications online while each site was under construction. A mobile site would be brought in to provide temporary communications support during each upgrade. It would be self-contained and require minimal maintenance, so bureau resources could be focused on the upgrades as much as possible.

Strate discussed his needs with Pepro, and determined the Hybrid Scout, announced at IWCE, would perfectly fit the bill. The Hybrid Scout is a highly configurable mobile radio tower site including a trailer, a fully equipped enclosure including 54 rack units, a 45-foot tower, three solar panels, batteries, a generator and a shore power connection. The enclosure itself was built as a Faraday cage, making it inherently resistant to threats like lightning and interference, which means there is no need for additional grounding. One person without specialized training could deploy the site in under an hour, and leave it to run for more than month – more than enough time to complete a site upgrade and move on to the next location.

“The trailer is pulled to the site, the mast is raised with the antennas mounted using a winch that is built in, power is turned on, and then the radios come alive,” said Marcus Brinkerhoff, a radio technician for the Bureau of Land Management. “The old site can then be decommissioned without any worries and the best thing is that the whole changeover is transparent to the users.”

The timing of the product launch was fortuitous in more ways than one. Strate and Pepro would meet in Las Vegas in early spring, where the company was showing the first – fully functional – Hybrid Scout to potential buyers. The site was equipped with almost exactly the equipment he needed for the site upgrade project.

“We added additional Midland radio equipment to support all the sites in Wyoming, making it ready to support all of the sites to be upgraded, and added a 24 volt DC to 120 volt AC inverter so we could support AC service from the 24 Volt DC battery system,” added Strate. “We needed AC so we didn't have to run the generator or extension cord to plug the scout into for AC support, which generally was not available with having temporary power installed. This supported any AC powered equipment at the site, making the Scout 100 percent self-sufficient without attaching to grid power.”

“The Hybrid Scout has solar power and a backup diesel generator if needed, all on the same unit. With the 24VDC, 420Ah battery bank and the 765 Watts of solar power, we have not even come close to using the generator yet,” added Brinkerhoff. “We have had nice sunny days in Wyoming and it has run flawlessly.”