Although this new Technical Note covering how to test/screen an arrestor to ensure that it is working and operating properly was specifically created in reference to our FPL series of units designed to protect GPS and other Global Navigation equipment…the input here also applies to the majority of the NexTek FPL and FPN series units. Most of the FPL and FPN series, including the FPL GPS arrestors, use multiple stages of protection circuitry inside.
This relative complexity makes the FPL and FPN series Fine Protectors a bit more complex to test properly, when compared to other common types such as Gas Discharge Tube or Quarter Wavelength Shorted Stub arrestors.
Operational/Protection Voltage Testing
Without an actual lightning tester (such as the common 1.2×50µs / 8×20µs Induced Lightning waveform testers,) it is difficult to completely verify Transient Response and Performance.
The lowest-voltage component is usually the only one that can be tested using a Diode Tester or Slow Rising DC Power Supply & Multimeter combination. For NexTek FPL and FPN series devices, this usually means a fast-acting semiconductor Protection Diode that is responsible for final energy cleanup. However, this component is usually the least robust in terms of Transient Current Handling so if it remains intact and operating within specs…the entire unit should be working OK.
Test Voltage Levels – Units may have +1V, +3.3V, +5V, +12V, +24, or other common Protection Voltage ratings
Continuity and Insulation Testing
Any FPL or FPN series units that are rated to pass DC Power through the unit will test positive for continuity between center pins, when using a Multimeter tool.
RF Thru-Performance / Proper Radio Operation
One of the simplest ways to test the basic functionality of any arrestor, not just the FPL and FPN series units, is to test the unit in a radio installation and verify proper system operation. This alone is a positive indicator that the unit is operating properly and is probably not damaged.
Our FPL Series of GPS Lightning Arrestors have been providing security and confidence to users of GPS Positioning and Timing Synchronization Systems around the world for over 10 years! These multi-stage protectors provide the fastest-acting surge protection available for DC Pass GPS and Global Navigation Band applications operating between 1.15 and 1.61 GHz.
The special multi-stage design incorporates a Gas Discharge Tube first stage, similar to what is used in NexTek’s PTC and PTR series GDT arrestors. However, as most GPS Receivers are quite sensitive to OverVoltage and Surge Related Damage…a Gas Discharge Tube alone is often not enough to provide adequate clamping by itself. Because of this, there are additional protection elements inside every FPL series arrestor including a Metal Oxide Varistor and a fast-acting Clamping Diode.
In addition to the enhanced protection provided by the multistage “Fine Protector” circuit inside, the FPL series provides a compact form factor that is easy to integrate into any design and impressive environmental ratings, including being waterproof to IP68 levels!
FPL Series Arrestor Highlights:
Low Cost at OEM Quantities
Best Protection Level Available
Compact Form Factor
For the best surge and lightning protection for any GPS Radio, Antenna, or Receiver setup…The NexTek FPL series will provide long-lasting protection in any environment and will give you the confidence in knowing that your system is protected!
NexTek surge protectors are currently in-use all around the world…and we mean it when we say ALL AROUND THE WORLD!
Two interesting examples involve hyper-accurate GPS Sensors that are installed all around the earth in order to track tectonic plate movement of the earth’s crust. In order to get geological and geographical data from all around the planet, these GPS sensors are installed everywhere.
However, as with any type of equipment or installation where a coaxial cable or an antenna is installed outside…Surge protection may be required, and it is not always because of Lightning…Static, EMP, and other types of Transient Threats can be just as damaging!
HOTTEST PLACES ON EARTH: One such example is where the GPS Sensor is actually installed within an active volcanic crater, in order to measure sub-surface lava shifts [deformation] and better understand what is happening to a given volcano underneath the earth’s surface. However, the GPS sensor uses a coaxial cable and a powered GPS antenna…and during delivery by helicopter into the volcano’s crater, a static charge was created by the downdraft of the helicopter’s blades which ended up destroying the attached GPS Receivers on more than one occasion!
When the USGS contacted NexTek for assistance with the problem, we worked through the application details and recommended an FPLNFNFBP05 as a solution which would provide the best-available protection for a DC Pass GPS Receiver application. This type of NexTek protector has been used on this application for >5 Years and the static-related problems have disappeared!
COLDEST PLACES ON EARTH: The second example involves a similar type of sensor, highly accurate GPS receivers meant for tracking tectonic plate movement. In this case, sensors were being installed in Antarctica during the summer and then left unattended for close to a year each winter. In this case, the collected data was then remotely transmitted back to the United States via Iridium Satellite phone on a regular basis. However, the dry and relentless wind of an Antarctic winter caused a buildup of excessive static charge which was ultimately causing failures of the Iridium Satellite Phone modems. This led to a loss of remote communications with that GPS base station, and a decrease in the real-time functionality of UNAVCO’s network of sensors.
When UNAVCO approached NexTek for help in solving this problem with static energy, we ended up recommending a couple of protection options (QSSTFTFAU00 and QSSTFTFAD00) to install on the cable run between the external antenna and the internal radios (Satellite Phone and Local 900MHz communication.) These arrestors have helped to ensure maximum uptime/availability of every GPS base station and prevent any further damage from Static/ESD build-up in the dry environment.
A good example of an application where coaxial lightning protection is recommended or required are permanently-installed GPS Timing & Synchronization systems. Used across more and more types of industrial and commercial applications every day, GPS Clock systems provide ultra-accurate time by utilizing signals from GPS satellites. The resulting timing reference signal is used to coordinate actions across a large network (Cellular, Electrical Grid) or to provide accurate synchronization of multiple electronic systems in disparate parts of the world.
However, with the installation of a permanent antenna and cable run that are required for GPS receiver operation…There comes the threat of lightning & surge damage occurring if surge energy finds its way onto the antenna or coaxial cable. This is where NexTek’s coaxial surge protectors come into the picture!
When NexTek lightning protectors are installed on the coaxial cable run and properly grounded, any GPS System can be protected! This includes providing protection for GPS Receiver itself, but also any people or equipment nearby. High quality arrestors such as those available from NexTek will not degrade or affect the GPS signal during normal operation, are extremely robust in terms of how much Lightning energy they are rated to handle, and use only high quality construction materials built to exacting design specifications in order to last in any environment!
For more information on NexTek’s range of arrestors that are suitable for GPS systems, information on how and where to install these protection solutions, click through to find the Application Note in .PDF format.