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SWS Security's TRACKnet Networked Radio Direction Finder System

Basic Description:

TRACKnet is an integrated hardware and software system designed to allow efficient tracking and locating via radio direction finding, of RF transmitters of all sorts. The network is intended for government or military applications where multiple equipped direction finding stations operate over a large geographical area. With TRACKnet, direction finding networks operating over a community, city or even an entire country easily can be implemented, and expanded as needed.

Applications:

TRACKnet is used for stolen vehicle locating and recovery, covert vehicle tracking for surveillance, tracking hostage victims or ransom payments, tagged narcotics shipments, tagged hazardous waste shipments, tracking munitions shipments, pirate radios, clandestine transmitters, stolen transmitters, malicious or inadvertent co channel interference, and similar applications.

System Details:

There are two components in a TRACKnet system: the TRACKnet software and the TRACKER hardware radio direction finder. The TRACKER hardware Radio Direction Finder is detailed on a separate sheet.

TheTRACKnet network consists of at least two SWS Security TRACKER equipped radio direction finding (RDF) stations. These stations can be any combination of fixed, mobile, marine, portable or airborne.

Each station uses a computer running SWS Security's TRACKnet software, a local GPS receiver, and is a node of a packet data link connecting all the stations. The TRACKnet software displays on each computer a local map and a unique icon/tactical callsign representing each station on the net. GPS coordinates place each station accurately on the map. DF bearings are displayed on all screens showing the vectors from every station to the emitter (emitter = transmitter being tracked/located). The intersection point of the bearings on the map is the location of the emitter. The target's precise location easily may be determined simply by reading that information from the map display.

Dynamic DF bearings, the movements of network tracking stations, as well as movement of the target are shown in realtime throughout the net. Any number of passive stations also may monitor the net with nothing more than the software, a computer and a data channel receiver. The target need be nothing more than a simple beacon transmitter.

Types of TRACKnet Stations:

A TRACKnet station can be either ACTIVE or PASSIVE.

An ACTIVE station is one who obtains an RDF (Radio Direction Finding) bearing to the target, displays the bearing on his own mapped screen, and telemeters his bearings via the packet data link to other stations on the net. At the same time, he is receiving RDF bearings over the data link from other stations in the net, all of which display on his screen also. At any given time, all ACTIVE stations in the net are displaying all bearings and vectors from all stations in the net, to the target. Where these bearings intersect is the location of the target. Bearings are updated in realtime. A GPS receiver at each station determines that station's location, so the icon representing each station can be placed properly on the map for all to see.

Every station on the net sees all information from all stations at all times.

A typical ACTIVE station would consist of the following components:

  • TRACKnet software (each copy licensed and registered)
  • Map database for local area of operation
  • Appropriate Windows 95/98/ME/2000/X computer
  • Terminal Node Controller (TNC) with internal modem
  • 12 channel parallel GPS receiver (may be internal to TNC)
  • Active GPS antenna, magnetically affixed
  • Data transceiver, VHF or UHF as required
  • Antenna for data transceiver (mobile, portable, fixed)
  • Receiver for RDF processor
  • TRACKER radio direction finder
  • RDF antenna array
  • Multi Port Adapter (MPA) for computer to TNC/GPS/RDF
  • Suitable mains supply or 12 VDC battery power for all equipment
  • Carrying case

SWS Security supplies all hardware above, programmed and ready to operate. SWS Security is the single and primary point of contact for any questions or problems pertaining to TRACKnet maintenance or operation. Questions also may be addressed to your local dealer.

An ACTIVE station will revert to independent operation, in the event of equipment failure or other emergency. An independent station may do single site triangulating, with all derived bearings logged to the computer for later review. Thus, ACTIVE stations may operate in standalone mode at any time, or as part of the network when large area coverage is needed.

Any ACTIVE station may join the net during an operation in progress. All TRACKER equipped stations will retransmit their bearings either on request or periodically according to system parameters. By requesting retransmissions via a voice channel, a newly joined station can obtain and display the most recent network RDF bearings in just a few minutes.

Stations may join or leave the net seamlessly, at any time. No interaction on the part of other network stations is required in order for a new station to join and participate.

A PASSIVE TRACKnet station can watch the activity of others in the net, but is not equipped with its own radio direction finder. PASSIVE stations may be suitable for command, interested but nonparticipating agencies, training, etc.

A PASSIVE station does not contribute any information to the net, and in fact is not even equipped with a data transmitter. A PASSIVE station observes, in real time, all activities of the ACTIVE stations on the net and displays realtime network RDF activity on its local computer screen.

A typical PASSIVE station would consist of the following components:

 

  • TRACKnet software (each copy licensed and registered)
  • Map database for local area of operation
  • Appropriate Windows 95/98/ME/2000/X computer
  • Terminal Node Controller (TNC) with internal modem
  • Data channel receiver, VHF or UHF as required
  • Antenna for data receiver (mobile, portable, fixed)
  • Suitable mains supply or 12 VDC battery power for all equipment
  • Carrying case

SWS Security supplies all hardware above, programmed and ready to operate. SWS Security is the single and primary point of contact for any questions or problems pertaining to TRACKnet maintenance or operation. Questions also may be addressed to your local dealer.

PASSIVE stations are, of course, cheaper to implement compared to ACTIVE stations. This is because of the fewer hardware items in a PASSIVE station.

PASSIVE stations may be used in any number, without impacting the operation of the net in any way. Whether one or fifty, PASSIVE stations will not slow the operation of nor add any complexity to the ACTIVE portion of the net.

In addition to the critical performance of the TRACKER radio direction finder portion of the system, the data link is an important part of the network. The data link is evolved from a mature, reliable link using largely COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) TNCs (Terminal Node Controllers, another name for the microprocessor based data controller coupled with appropriate firmware and a modem. The TNC connects to the mic line, speaker line and push-to-talk line of the data transceiver. Its output is an RS-232 serial bit stream to the computer running SWS TRACKnet software).

The range of the data link is not limited to the simplex (direct, radio to radio) range of the data transceivers. Elaborate and powerful data transceivers generally are not used. Frequently, handheld radios can be used in applications where space and power is at a premium, such as a manportable RDF node.

To extend the range, digital repeaters (digipeaters) are used. A digipeater consists of a data transceiver coupled to a TNC. A complete functioning digipeater literally can be pocket sized, battery operated and camouflaged in any number of common items found in the field. Digipeaters can and have been pulled up into trees, set in upper floor hotel room windows overlooking the city, and even airborne. Digipeaters can be high powered, long range devices but more frequently are smaller, shorter range devices deployed and positioned when and where needed. Virtually any voice grade transceiver on a suitable band can be used as a digipeater. The TNC and data transceiver are critical parts of the network and cannot be implemented casually.

A node in the network need be in range only of the closest digipeater. A digipeater basically repeats every data packet heard, from a location with superior height, transmit power, line of sight, or proximity to other stations in the network.

Additionally, any station in the network can act as a digipeater for any other station.

Digipeaters may or may not be required in any particular network. This depends on the engineering of the system to your requirements as performed by SWS Security. We will supply a suitable number and configuration of digipeaters to accomplish your objective.

Each node (station) in the network requires an appropriate computer running Windows 95/98/ME/2000/X and SWS Security's TRACKnet software. Typically this computer will be a laptop, however, desktop computers driving large displays can be used for command centers or "war rooms". A map database of the theater of operations also is required. The map database is generated by SWS Security and installed into each station in the network. With large capacity, reliable and inexpensive hard disk storage capability, it easily is practical to store an entire country's mapping on a laptop. Detail down to street level may be available depending on the area of the world. SWS can generate maps of any region of the world within hours, and transmit these maps to the end user via FTP on Internet or by sending magnetic media via courier. The end user follows simple instructions to install the maps in his computer.

As an example, the entire United States down to street level detail, and showing airports, waterways, etc. all fits easily on a single partition of a hard drive occupying less than 600 megabytes.

The system has many other features not discussed here. We also are willing to include, where practical, user requested special features or capabilities.

A TRACKnet network can be permanently installed, or maintained in tactical readiness in portable or mobile configurations, ready to respond anywhere in the world as needed.

Use TRACKnet to locate and follow transmitters in all types of applications:

 

  • Beacon transmitter hidden in vehicles likely to be stolen
  • Beacon transmitter hidden in dangerous drug shipments
  • Beacon transmitter hidden in smuggled goods
  • Beacon transmitter hidden in ransom payments
  • Beacon transmitter hidden in bank money packs
  • Radio transmissions of narco traffickers
  • Emergency Locating Transmitters (aircraft distress)
  • Stuck transmitters causing interference
  • Pirate transmitters or other clandestine stations
  • Body wire transmissions from undercover officers
  • Tagged animals
  • Hazardous waste shipments
  • Munitions shipments

Beacon transmitters also are manufactured by SWS Security. Call SWS Security today to discuss implementing a TRACKnet radio  direction finding network for your agency or government.


Phone 1+ 410 879-4035
   Fax 1+410 836-1190