In light of this issue, companies are installing audio bridging solutions that enable personnel with different radio equipment to speak with one another without disruption. As opposed to procuring new equipment to synchronize communications, professionals can simply install the technology at remote sites, enabling them to communicate across the different sections of their system.
This functionality, while helpful, is just the tip of the iceberg in regard to audio bridging’s functionality. In this article, we’ll detail how the technology works and the manner in which it can support your business.
What is an Audio Bridge?
An Audio Bridge is a piece of hardware that allows multiple audio inputs to be mixed together and sent to multiple audio outputs.
In simple terms, they provide a uniform way of interconnecting radio equipment from different manufacturers and/or different frequency bands.
Typically, this is done at the repeater remote site to provide multiple paths within a single radio network.
How an Audio Bridge Works
Audio bridges use signal processing and controls that enable radios using different frequencies to operate cohesively.
Radios depend on repeaters to relay signals over long distances. The audio bridges connect to these devices and switch the audio according to which radios users are trying to communicate with.
Why you Need Audio Bridges
Audio Bridges enable you to get more out of your radio network.
First, you have the power to connect multiple technologies – meaning you get more from your existing equipment.
You also increase the power of your network by adding in dynamic configurations or features that improve speed.
Key benefits of Audio Bridges include:
- Saving considerable time and effort in interfacing disparate radio equipment
- Significant reductions in cost of adding additional hardware
- Added system flexibility at any repeater site
- Improved organizational effectiveness by allowing networks to be re-configured to meet operational needs
- Reduction in maintenance costs by enabling remote diagnosis and configuration of repeater equipment.
Ultimately, Audio Bridges enable you to adapt your radio network to your operational demands, not the other way around.
How are Audio Bridges used?
Nowadays, people are using a variety of technologies to share information. The same movement also applies to radio and networking. Accommodating environments comprised of myriad systems has compelled us to manufacture audio bridges enhance operations in multiple ways.
Cross-Banding Disparate Radios
The simplest and most common application of an Audio Bridge is to cross-band disparate radios – across both radio manufacturers and radio frequency bands such as VHF, UHF and more.
A USA Air Force base in Florida did just this – combining Air-band, VHF Marine-band and UHF with audio bridges. Learn more here.
Rebanding and Narrowbanding
When your organization opts to replace outdated radios, the audio bridges enable you to do so with little-to-no disruption. You can connect the new radios to the audio bridge while allowing the old ones to access the network.
This is just what one Central Maryland Public Safety works used to re-band their radios to meet the FCC mandate. Read more.
Some industries still use pagers to notify employees. Audio bridges support conventional paging gates, allowing radios utilizing different frequencies to connect to the devices. One of our customers used this technology to provide links between P25 frequencies and employee pagers.
On-Demand Network Re-Configuration
Authorized users can activate several link paths via radio frequencies. For instance, you could allow two regional links to communicate with each other at night, but discontinue the connection during daytime operations.
See how one Oil Rig has used Audio Bridges to automatically switch between UHF, VHF Marineband and Airband here.
Audio bridges can reroute communications along different connections if one should fail.
As an example, a gold mine created a back-up link via a fiber-optic cable, which the audio bridges could access in the event the facility’s Ethernet link shut down unexpectedly. See how here.
Fast Link Keying
CTCSS (Continuous Tone-Coded Squelch System) controlled multi-hop links can cause long delays. The 619DSRI Audio Bridge removes this hurdle by incorporating a fast CTCSS mode for input signals.
There are numerous ways your organization can take advantage of these functions. Government, maritime, public safety, utilities and supply chain management and other industries have eliminated conventional communication costs after installing audio bridges.
Learn more about each of these applications in the free white paper: Audio Bridging Real-World Applications. Download here.
What are the Different Types of Audio Bridges?
There are two main types of audio bridges: those with basic DIP switch configuration and more advanced firmware configuration.
Each has its benefits.
For example, a system configured by front panel DIP switches (such as the 619EI), are much simpler to use while providing operational flexibility. Technicians in the field can quickly make changes to suit the current requirements.
On the other hand, firmware configuration (such as in the 619DSRI) provides system integrators with advanced ways to establish de-centralized, interoperable networks that do not require intervention from central control rooms. This is what will give you the more advanced features such as network re-configuration on demand.
How many Ports do I need in my Audio Bridge?
The number of repeaters across your operation dictates the number of ports your audio bridge must possess. For example, if your business owns four repeaters, each of which supports a particular communication standard, the audio bridge must have four ports. The connections are known as a bridging matrix, which users can establish either through front-panel DIP switches or via software.
The 619EI has six ports, while the 619DSRI is equipped with eight ports.