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Utility Speeds Communications to and from Field with Mobile-Radio Controller.

"I'd say the biggest advantage of the system to our operators is speed," observed an engineer with the company that was the first to install a newly developed mobile-radio communications controller. "Our people can handle everything about twice as fast compared to older equipment," he commented.

The company, a major power utility, reportedly has a mobile-radio network larger than any other telecommunications service user in its region, including the local telephone company. The Positron equipment it installed is used by dispatchers in the Power system Operating Center to communicate with operations, construction and customer service people in the field. A tone remote-control system, its consoles are connected by standard telephone cable to common equipment that in turn interfaces with telephone lines to base-station transmitter-receivers.

Positron's mobile-radio communications controller, the MRCC-99, uses microprocessor control. Occupying a small space on a desk, it can handle up to 99 lines, with up to eigh t base stations per line. A single system can accommodate from one to six consoles. In contrast with the tradition of combining console and common equipment in one unit, MRCC-99 is totally modular. The consoles function independently of each other. The common equipment's circuitry is all on easily replaceable plug-in cards.

"The result is a console of exceptional capacity and versatility considering its small size," notes Ian McGraw of Postron's Engineering Department and one of the designers of the system.

Alphanumeric Display

The consoles' features include LCD readouts for selected and unselected calls. These 18-character alphanumeric displays tell an operator at a glance which base station is on line and which base station is first in the cue for unanswered calls. The unselected display can be scrolled forward or backwards if the operator wishes to review it or give priority to a station other than the one at the head of the waiting list.

Each display shows the full name of the base station that it has on its screen. But when placing a call, the operator only has to key in a two-digit numeric or three-character alphabetic code (usually the first three letters of the base station's name). If he makes a mistake, the operator can see and correct it instantly. The console has a full typewriter-style keyboard. "It takes about one-half hour to learn how to operate ti," said the utility engineer. "Once you pick up all the finesse of the system you can put calls through extremely fast."

Recently, one of the utility's telecommunications supervisors had to substitute for an operator during an emergency. Familiar with remote control consoles with their multiple switches and lights, he described the new console as "heaven by comparison." A brief set of instructions printed on a single card serves as the operator's training manual.

Sound signals Emergency

To signal an emergency, field personnel use number "1" on the dial pad of their portable transmitters. Holding it for three second trips all the decoDERS. An audible alarm sounds at the operator console, the displays flash and the caller's base station jumps to the head of the cue. It is impossible for an operator to mistake an emergency and he can react immediately, knowing exactly which base station is involved.

Many established systems, including consoles and turrets, were considered before the decision to go for a new design. According to the utility engineer. "These were all rejected mainly because they needed too much space. We wanted a unit that could readily expand to 99 lines without covering a whole desktop."

Another factor was the easy operation offered by the MRCC-99 concept. "Our people have no desire to be radio operators. They just want something small and simple that will let them access our radio network," the engineer said.

The final design was a joint undertaking of Positron and utility engineers. The system went through its field trial in November 1984 and is now in regular service.

Console Features

The console offers many programmable features. Among them are station desingations, DTMF codes, function tones, operation sequences and alarms. Options include public telephone network access, cross-patching, paging a d automatic identification of individual mobile units in the field.

Champlain, New York-based Positron offers a range of telecommunications equipment: high-density key systems for trader's turrets, answering positrons and dispatch consoles; protection systems for power station communications; telco alarm systems; and 911 emergency call-enhancement systems.
COPYRIGHT 1985 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Communications News
Date:Aug 1, 1985
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