Satellite Link Budget Training on the Personal Computer – GEO and non-GEO, L through Q/V bands

Course length:

3 Days



Course dates

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Exciting additions and updates with new material on Non-GEO and Q/V bands. Previously titled: Satellite Link Budget Training Using SatMaster Software.


Link budgets are the standard tool for designing and assessing satellite communications transmissions at all orbits and frequencies, considering radio-wave propagation, satellite performance, terminal equipment, radio frequency interference (RFI), and other physical layer aspects of fixed and mobile satellite systems. Our principal software tool for this course is SatMaster Pro, a low cost application for Microsoft Windows. The format and content of the link budget must be understood by many engineers and managers with design and operation responsibilities. SatMaster is a highly-recognized yet simple to use PC-based software tool offered through the web by Arrowe Technical Services of the UK. This three-day course reviews the principles and use of the link budget along with hands-on training in SatMaster 10, the latest version, for one- and two-way transmission of digital television; two-way interactive services using very small aperture terminals (VSATs); point-to-point transmission at a wide range of data rates; and interactive communications with mobile terminals. Services at UHF, L, S, C, X, Ku, Ka, Q and V bands to fixed and mobile terminals are considered. The course includes several computer workshop examples to enhance participants’ confidence in using SatMaster and to improve their understanding of the link budgeting process. Participants should gain confidence in their ability to prepare link budgets and their facility with SatMaster. Examples from the class are employed as time allows.

The course notes are provided. 

A Windows OS laptop is required in class with SatMaster 10 software purchased and installed prior to the start of the class. SatMaster can be purchased directly from (a discount is available to registered attendees.)


Course Outline:

Day 1 Principles of Satellite Links and Applicability of SatMaster

  • Standard ground rules for satellite link budgets
  • Frequency band selection:, L, S, C, X, Ku, Ka, Q and V bands
  • Satellite footprints (EIRP, G/T, and SFD) and transponder plans; application of on-board processors (channelizers and regenerative repeaters)
  • Propagation considerations: the isotropic source, line of sight, antenna principles
  • Atmospheric effects: troposphere (clear air and rain) and ionosphere (Faraday and scintillation)
  • Rain effects and rainfall regions; use of the built-in ITU-DAH and Crane rain models
  • Modulation systems (QPSK, OQPSK, MSK, GMSK, 8PSK, 16 QAM, 32 APSK and higher)
  • Forward error correction techniques (Viterbi, Reed-Solomon, BCH, Turbo, and LDPC, turbo and concatenated codes)
  • Transmission equation and its relationship to the link budget
  • Introduction to the user interface of SatMaster
  • File formats: antenna pointing, database, digital link budget, non-GEO, and digital processing/regenerative repeater link budget
  • Built-in reference data and calculators
  • Example of a digital GEO one-way link budget (DVB-S2) using equations and SatMaster

Day 2 Detailed Link Design in Practice: Computer Workshop

  • Earth station block diagram and characteristics
  • Antenna characteristics (main beam, sidelobe, X-pol considerations, mobile antennas)
  • HPA characteristics, intermodulation and sizing, uplink power control
  • Link budget workshop example using SatMaster: GEO Single Channel Per Carrier (SCPC) with multi-carrier backoff
  • Transponder loading and optimum multi-carrier backoff; power equivalent bandwidth
  • Review of link budget optimization techniques using the program’s built-in features
  • Computing the uplink EIRP and transmit power; uplink power control (UPC)
  • Interference sources (X-pol, adjacent satellite interference, adjacent channel interference, co-channel interference from other beams)
  • Earth station power flux density limits and the use of spread spectrum for disadvantaged antennas

Day 3 Consideration of Interference, Non-GEO, and Workshop in Digital Link Budgets

  • C/I estimation and trade studies
  • Performance estimation for carrier-in-carrier (Paired Carrier Multiple Access) transmission
  • Non-GEO systems and how SatMaster can be used for “snapshot” analysis
  • Example: LEO link budget based on OneWeb system. Use of batch location files to prepare link budgets for a large table of locations
  • Case study from the class using the above elements and SatMaster



Christopher F. Hoeber, MSEE, Cornell University. Mr. Hoeber’s career in the communications satellite industry has spanned 52 years, since his start at Hughes Aircraft Company as the communications systems engineer on the first generation of commercial domestic satellites. He held a variety of executive positions at the industry leader Space Systems Loral (SSL), where he served as the engineering lead for the development of the long lived 1300 product line, and the program manager for Superbird A&B, the first 1300 spacecraft and led engineering efforts for the first direct broadcast TV services, the first digital radio broadcast services, and the first high throughput communications services. He retired as the SSL CTO in 2015, and has continued his career as an industry consultant through today’s NewSpace revolution, serving as the CTO on several startup programs – LEO, GEO and hybrid. He is the winner of 2016 AIAA Communications Award.  He was mentored by the first winner of the award, Harold Rosen, and inspired by the second winner, Arthur C. Clark, 50 years ago. He is well known in the industry not only for his knowledge of current satellite systems, but for his vision of the future of the industry,  both in spacecraft technology and the services provided and his goal is to provide the same education in fundamentals and inspiration to the men and women who will be responsible for the growth of the industry for the next 50 years.

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Special Notes:

Technical Advisor

Bruce R. Elbert, MS (EE), MBA, Adjunct Professor (ret), College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Mr. Elbert is a recognized satellite communications expert and has been involved in the satellite and telecommunications industries for over 40 years. He founded Application Technology Strategy, LLC, to assist major private and public sector organizations that develop and operate cutting-edge networks using satellite and other wireless technologies During 25 years with Hughes Electronics, he directed the design of several major satellite projects, including Palapa A, Indonesia’s original satellite system; the Galaxy follow-on; and the development of the first GEO mobile satellite system capable of serving handheld user terminals. Mr. Elbert was also ground segment manager for the Hughes system, which included eight teleports and 3 VSAT hubs. He served in the US Army Signal Corps as a radio communications officer and instructor. By considering the technical, business, and operational aspects of satellite systems, Mr. Elbert has contributed to the operational and economic success of leading organizations in the field. He has written nine books on telecommunications and IT.


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