Smart Savings with Used Uplink TWTAs (Travelling Wave Tube Amplifiers)

August 1, 2013 | By More

TWTAs are typically the most cost-effective and reliable solution compared to other earth station HPA (high power amplifier) technologies such as SSPAs and klystrons for applications requiring medium to high power level requirements across a wide bandwidth. Used earth station TWTAs (Travelling Wave Tube Amplifiers) can offer very large capital savings (e.g. 50%-plus discount) compared to new units.

New Era Systems 2

Big Savings and Big Benefits

Buying a fully-tested pre-owned system from a reliable source is often an excellent way to meet your needs, while saving you a considerable amount of money.

Above and beyond the fact that used TWTAs can function well as the primary amplifiers in a facility for many years, pre-owned HPAs can also work for a variety of business cases, including:

  • Temporary services
  • Low-budget services
  • Test services
  • Occasional use or ad-hoc services
  • Backup systems
  • Short-term contracts (e.g. the increasingly common 1-3 year service)
  • Emergency services
  • Urgent interim services needing fast turn-up

Case Study

Consider the following typical, and actual, example where a buyer saved over 50%. New Era Systems was asked to quote a redundant set of amplifiers for a customer in South America.

The requirement:  a KU Band solution of at least 400 watts with a fully automatic switch-over in case of a failure of the operating amplifier.  The customer had no preference for either a TWTA or SSPA and invited us to quote the most reliable and cost effective solution. The quoted price quotes for new KU and extended frequency amplifiers are shown.  The customer saved $50,000 while gaining an additional 300 Watts of power in each of two amplifiers in the 1:1 system, with years of service remaining.

New Era Systems 3Source: New Era Systems

Key Points and Conclusions

  • TWTAs are typically the most cost-effective and reliable solution compared to other earth station HPA (high power amplifier) technologies for applications requiring medium to high power level requirements across a wide bandwidth over commercial satcoms bands and less commonly used frequency bands.
  • Used earth station TWTAs  (travelling wave tube amplifiers) can offer very large capital savings (e.g. 50%-plus discount) compared to new units.
  • Used TWTAs can be delivered within days of placing an order, compared with months from the manufacturer.
  • Pre-owned HPAs can work for a variety of business cases such as permanent services, low-budget services, test and trial services, Occasional use or ad-hoc services, backup systems, short-term contracts (e.g. 1-3 years), Emergency services, urgent interim services needing fast turn-up.
  • Helix current is a key health indicator of travelling wave tubes, while total hours of operation, and beam on hours are other indicators.
  • Typical manufacturer’s guidelines 45,000 hours (over 5 years), but with good bill of health it can last much longer, over 11 years.
  • Follow manufacturers guidelines for turn-one, warm-up, storage, and temperature.
  • Ask your pre-owned satellite equipment supplier about testing, packaging and delivery guarantees.

When satellite service providers stand to save over 50%, taking a quick look at options with pre-owned TWTAs can make a lot of sense.  Even in today’s world of eBay deals on used equipment, when it comes to something as specialized as earth station HPAs, your best bet for acquiring used TWTAs is to work with experienced, reputable suppliers that follow test procedures, and provide delivery and performance assurances.

Risk and Rewards: It’s in the Tube… In the next issue, Part 2 of this Series, we’ll look at how you asses the risks in buying a used TWTA, and considerations such as the tube expiration data, replacement tubes, considerations for successful delivery and installation.

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Category: COLUMNS

Phil Thomas

About the Author ()

Phil Thomas is President of New Era Systems. New Era Systems sells and stocks new & used equipment, offering deep discounts and faster worldwide delivery of large and small satellite antennas, modems VSATs, BUCs, transceivers, amplifiers and more. The company helps earth stations turn their surplus equipment into cash, with gear refurbishing, resale, and antenna system de-install/install services. New Era Systems is also a full service satellite communications provider to Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

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