What Is Radio Telemetry?

Jason C. Chavis

Radio telemetry uses radio technology to perform remote measurements in an effort to report and analyze information. Data is transferred from point to point via radio technology to create radio telemetry systems, enabling users to gather information and use it to make a determination about a subject. Usually, this system requires external instructions in order to operate. This is done through a process known as telecommand control.

Radio telemetry can be established over short distances between remote controlled vehicles and local operators.
Radio telemetry can be established over short distances between remote controlled vehicles and local operators.

The concept uses the same basic technology as standard radios found in cars and homes. Transmitters range in size from small portable devices to large radio stations, and all emit radio waves. These waves are transferred through an antenna to a receiver. Generally, the system does not use complex information transfer such as coding, but simply signals transmitted at specific frequencies. This enables users to identify the location, direction and other data about a specific subject.

Radio telescope arrays and listening stations can determine the speed and direction of an object by measuring how the radio signals it emits shift.
Radio telescope arrays and listening stations can determine the speed and direction of an object by measuring how the radio signals it emits shift.

Many times, telemetry equipment simply uses a series of beeps, each with a different purpose. Those on the receiving end can dial through different frequencies, similar to the way people listening to the radio change the dial on a car stereo. However, the frequencies used for radio telemetry are on a higher scale than normal audio broadcasting.

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One of the most important modern forms of the technology is a remote telemetry system. Powerful radio transceivers connect to remote monitoring sites via wireless communication technology. These can contain built-in error correction features, increasing the accuracy of the data transfer and providing seamless communication with little or no interference such as cross-talk. The benefit of this system is its ability to be used across platforms. Remote systems can be utilized globally with satellite technology, while traditional mediums were limited in range.

Radio telemetry is used in a variety of different industries to facilitate more efficient tracking and control of subjects. For example, the wildlife industry uses small transmitters linked to animals to enable tracking across large distances. Scientists are able to identify migration routes and locate the animals for intervention when necessary.

Some of the most advanced forms of radio telemetry are used by the military to control robotic airplanes such as the Predator drone. Utilizing remote telemetry, drones can be controlled from anywhere around the world. Complex data streams enable pilots to accumulate and process data in real-time, enabling flight control.

Radio telemetry might be used to control drone aircraft.
Radio telemetry might be used to control drone aircraft.

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Discussion Comments

anon991485

Question 1: Could telemetry be used in cartography?

Question 2: How could an amateur radio operator be able to apply the concept of telemetry for localized map making? (For example, using transmitters to determine the elevation and distances of major land features.)

I am a ham operator, and having been studying radiolocation and recently have been intrigued on the application of telemetry in the amateur radio service.

AlannParker

Your post has lots of great information about radio telemetry. Radio telemetry runs on the same basic principles as the radio. It is based on the transmitter and receiver. Thanks for sharing such an informative post.

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