I was thinking about the gateways and wondering what they look like. Would it be one small dish nobody notices? A really big dish like a radio telescope? A row of dishes all aimed the same way? Or would it be a dish antenna version of a late 19th century French battleship with guns of all sizes aimed in every imaginable direction? Do the gateways have to be a minimum distance from airports? Do they have to be in walking distance of a Taco Bell?
Why multiple dish antenna? Multiple antenna might give the ability to send/receive signals in different frequency bands. Why a big dish antennae? A big dish should give better reception. I have noticed that bad weather over the gateway has to be worse than the weather I have to block the signal just by using WunderMap. Anyway, in the universal language of science and mathematics a big dish means one thing: "Your flying saucer must be at least this big to attack the earth gateway station!"
So rather than playing 'Where's Waldo?' looking for surface to air missile sites and submarines in North Korea, I figured I would look around to see what I could spot that might be a HughesNet Earth Gateway.
Wow! Yes, the Jeune École fad is over! Looks like those dishes are aimed toward at least 3 satellites, just guessing by the shadows and angles on the dish antennae! From some very old government "red tape" docs, it appears that not all gateways have the same size dishes as one has or had a really big dish. Might be neat to look at that one. I guess the sizes are determined by the frequency and weather conditions/humidity typical of the location. I think higher frequencies require a bigger dish with bad weather--so if the site can only get high frequencies to use, then they may need a bigger dish if the location is more humid. Perhaps somebody familiar with all this can chime in and answer the age old question "Do really big dish antenna attract big flying saucers?"
I always assumed the spot beams were combined in space into a single bidirectional path to the ground station. Kind of like a large addressable router for up to 8 or 9 different beams. If that's true, the ground station would only need one large dish (yes, larger diameter usually means more gain) per active satellite that it services, depending upon how redundant the systems are. I say 'assumed' but always based this on the number of hops you see in a traceroute before you got to the gateway provider.
Having said all this, I just checked: Where there used to be three direcway hops, now there are only two for my gateway, which used to service both Exchostar 17 and 19 (J1 and J2). Not sure that matters for your question. Just thought it to be an interesting change. Curious how this factors into what used to be a pretty secure double-NAT architecture.
I see in that old gov application for licenses that there are several frequency bands for both upload and download -- perhaps they have so many dishes not just for redundancy, but to split based on frequency band as well as upload/download? I suspect this gateway shown here is serving not just J2, but also some older satellites -- anyway, I can see the aim is different on the dishes, but many dishes of different sizes appear to be aimed at the same thing. I found some other gateways that had fewer dishes.
Having redundancy is good -- getting a little water in a cable without redundancy would cause havoc for a lot of folks on several beams if everything went through a single dish, although I think I saw something about there being a backup gateway setup for each beam should a disaster take out a gateway.
Do you remember when the last time you saw three hops? Maybe it is connected with a gateway upgrade they did at some point? The gateway upgrades earlier this year were fairly noticeable, so I was wondering if maybe what you saw was related to that? I had not thought of logging a traceroute result every week or so to watch for things changing like that.
By the way, what number for your IPGW do you see? I was wondering if other customers see numbers outside of the ranges that I have been seeing since earlier this year -- of course you are a different beam and gateway, but I was curious if the number ranges differ by customer/plan etc.
It's quite possible the 2 vs. 3 hop thing took place during the upgrade. Can't remember the last time I did a traceroute.
As far as the numbers go, I used to only see 1200 thru about 1205 or so. Since the upgrade I've been seeing 13xx and 14xx. I don't see many 13xx, but have noticed up to around 1412. I assume the code is abcc, but what a, b, or c mean could be anything. At one time that code used to be just three digits that we used to assume was somehow related to the outroute path.
The ranges on your IPGW seem the same as mine then 1201-1204, 1305-1308, 1409-1412
I was hoping to hear from someone that sees different ranges -- I thought maybe they stuck in several banks of 12 IPGW, but gave each customer access to only 12, but so far nobody has said they have seen any number other than the above. I saw a picture online in a HughesNet brochure of some sort that showed rack servers with a pair of network cards(?) apiece as hardware that might represent what is behind an IPGW number.
I have been looking for the J2 gateways to get images of what they look like. Some are obvious and have a huge number of dishes, others might just be a single big dish sitting in some parking lot. The ones with a single smaller dish are the hardest to find -- and I am not sure they are actually a gateway.
I think I was mistaken about size -- the gateway above (CHY) seems to have as 13.2m(?) dish plus that big weird thing north of the the dishes whatever that is. Whatever that is, GIL has two of them plus a bunch of the 13.1 or 13.2m dishes. The NLV gateway also has a huge number of dish antenna all over and it is handily labeled by Google as "Hughes Network Systems" so I think it is safe to say that gateway is found.
Anybody find other sites? I am tired out searching for OMA -- I could not find a dish bigger than 4m, and it was a single dish that I suspect belongs to somebody else.
Here are the ones I saw with BIG dishes:
CHY -- sorry, in this pic I cut off the big weird thing at the top:
GIL -- scads of dish antenna willy nilly with two of those weird things -- anybody know what they are?
NLV is identified on Google maps -- that makes it easy!
Let me know if you want to see some of the pics that show only a single lonely/small dish -- not sure they are really gateways.
Not sure if it helps, but none of those are used as a groundstation for Echostar 17 (J1). Based on some old info gleaned from the installation data (may have changed), CHY handles 5 spot beams, GIL 7, and NLV only 3. All three service Echostar 19 (J2). Since all are not pointed at one azimuth, it's clear that more than just J2 is being pointed at. Makes sense to me because this can't possibly be the only thing that they do... I'm just thinking of the overhead and staffing costs for those sites, which must be incredible.
Another thought... some of those dishes that are aimed nearly horizontal can't possibly be used for geostationary satellites. Even Wyoming would have a takeoff azimuth to something at the equator. Terrestrial short-range microwave, maybe?
Yeah, these are all J2 / Echostar 19 gateways -- I could get the list readily enough from that CCF file along with the beams they cover, but the listed Echostar 17 names are more cryptic. GWalk had an image he made years ago that shows J1 / Echostar 17 gateways along with beams. I am not sure how he knew.
That satbeams site you showed is very handy for locating these by the way -- I would go to the gateway beams, find the center, then search that location on Google maps near the middle. In most cases I could find something in a few minutes. The ones shown here had obvious names on the map related to Hughes/Echostar and all had 13.2m dishes as can be seen by the distance measure. The other sites I found had fewer and smaller dishes.
For example, this may be ALB. Notice the big dish is only 8.2m (or 8.1m?) and there are fewer here.
Not sure why some gateways are so beefy -- BIL and MIS where shown on Google maps with construction by them, so maybe they are bigger now....
Maybe this is the OMA gateway? I could not find anything like many of the gateways, but here is a 13.2m (13.1m ?) dish in the middle of a parking lot 15 miles from what looked like the gateway beam center -- anybody know if this is it? It is crazy far from where I started searching.... I did not see any other big dish antenna like this around Omaha over 4m, so this is as good as I can find without going crazy. Anybody know if this is it? Is that power lines running next to it?
Lots of Air Force contractor support in Belleview for Offutt. Could be anything, really.
Edit: Thought that looked familiar. It's only a couple of blocks up from what used to be my divison HQ at Northrop.
Sure it could be something else, but it appears to be a 13.2m dish which is what was listed in the license application for the OMA gateway. I was searching for this one because I thought such a big dish would be easy to find compared to the ones with smaller dish antenna.
Of course, it occurs to me that maybe all gateways now have this size dish, just they may not be able to be located at the normal site because of restrictions like being too close to airports. The footnote in the application made it seem as if pilots might crash into them on takeoff or something based on comment about FAA notification which made me snicker a bit -- I am not sure why the wording of the footnote made me think that.
*images from Wikipedia and HughesNet advertisement page.