Squelch

Squelch

In telecommunications, squelch is a circuit function that acts to suppress the audio (or video) output of a receiver in the absence of a sufficiently strong desired input signal.

Contents

Carrier squelch

A carrier squelch or noise squelch is the most simple variant of all. It operates strictly on the signal strength, such as when a television mutes the audio or blanks the video on "empty" channels, or when a walkie talkie mutes the audio when no signal is present. In some designs, the squelch threshold is preset. For example, television squelch settings are usually preset. Receivers in base stations at remote mountain top sites are usually not adjustable remotely from the control point.

In devices such as two-way radios (also known as radiotelephones), the squelch can be adjusted with a knob, others have push buttons or a sequence of button presses. This setting adjusts the threshold at which signals will open (un-mute) the audio channel. Backing off the control will turn on the audio, and the operator will hear white noise (also called squelch noise) if there is no signal present. The usual operation is to adjust the control until the channel just shuts off - then only a small threshold signal is needed to turn on the speaker. However, if a weak signal is annoying, the operator can adjust the squelch to open only when stronger signals are received. If you hold the squelch open you will also get a lot of noise.

A typical FM two-way radio carrier squelch circuit takes out the voice components of the receive audio by passing the detected audio through a high-pass filter. A typical filter might pass frequencies over 4,000 Hz (4 kHz). The squelch control adjusts the gain of an amplifier which varies the level of noise coming out of the filter. The audio output of the filter and amplifier is rectified and produces a DC voltage when noise is present. The presence of noise creates a DC voltage which turns the receiver audio off. When a signal with little or no noise is received, the voltage goes away and the receiver audio is unmuted. Some applications have the receiver tied to other equipment that uses the audio muting control voltage as a "signal present" indication.

Tone squelch and selective calling

Tone squelch, or other forms of selective calling, is sometimes used to solve interference problems. Where more than one user is on the same channel (co-channel users), selective calling addresses a subset of all receivers. Instead of turning on the receive audio for any signal, the audio turns on only in the presence of the correct selective calling code. This is akin to the use of a lock on a door. A carrier squelch is unlocked and will let any signal in. Selective calling locks out all signals except ones with the correct code.

In non-critical uses, selective calling can also be used to hide the presence of interfering signals such as receiver-produced intermodulation. Receivers with poor specifications—such as scanners or low-cost mobile radios—cannot reject the strong signals present in urban environments. The interference will still be present. It will still degrade system performance but by using selective calling the user will not have to hear the noises produced by receiving the interference.

Four different techniques are commonly used. Selective calling can be regarded as a form of in-band signalling.

CTCSS

CTCSS (Continuous Tone-Coded Squelch System) continuously superimposes any one of about 50 low-pitch audio tones on the transmitted signal, ranging from 67 to 254 Hz. The original tone set was 32 tones, and has been expanded over the years. CTCSS is often called PL tone (for Private Line, a trademark of Motorola), or simply tone squelch. General Electric's implementation of CTCSS is called Channel Guard (or CG). RCA Corporation used the name Quiet Channel, or QC. There are many other company-specific names used by radio vendors to describe compatible options. Any CTCSS system that has compatible tones is interchangeable. Old and new radios with CTCSS and radios across manufacturers are compatible.

SelCall

Selcall (Selective Calling) transmits a burst of five inband audio tones at the beginning of each transmission. This feature (sometimes called "tone burst") is common in European systems. In the same way that a single CTCSS tone would be used on an entire group of radios, a single five-tone sequence is used in a group of radios.

DCS

DCS (Digital-Coded Squelch) superimposes a continuous stream of FSK digital data, at 134.4 bits per second, on the transmitted signal. In the same way that a single CTCSS tone would be used on an entire group of radios, the same DCS code is used in a group of radios. DCS is also referred to as Digital Private Line (or DPL), another trademark of Motorola, and likewise, General Electric's implementation of DCS is referred to a Digital Channel Guard (or DCG). DCS is also called DTCS (Digital Tone Code Squelch) by Icom, and other names by other manufacturers. Radios with DCS options are generally compatible provided the radio's encoder-decoder will use the same code as radios in the existing system. Be aware that the same 23-bit DCS word can, for example, produce three different valid DCS codes due to the encoding architecture.

XTCSS

XTCSS is the newest signaling technique and it provides 99 codes with the added advantage of 'silent operation'. XTCSS fitted radios are purposed to enjoy more privacy and flexibility of operation. XTCSS is implemented as a combination of CTCSS and in-band signalling.

Uses

Carrier squelch was invented first and is still in wide use in two-way radio, especially in the amateur radio world. Squelch of any kind is used to indicate loss of signal, which is used to keep commercial and amateur radio repeaters from transmitting continually. Since a carrier squelch receiver cannot tell a valid carrier from a spurious signal (noise, etc.) CTCSS is often used as well, as it avoids false keyups. Use of CTCSS is especially helpful on bands prone to skip and during band openings.

Family Radio Service (FRS) and PMR446 radios often use a number of different CTCSS tones, usually erroneously called "sub-channels" (the actual number of tones depends on the manufacturer). While these do not add to the available number of conversations which can take place at once in a given area, they do reduce annoying interference experienced by users. However they do not afford any protection from eavesdropping, as the voice signal is not encrypted. The squelch system relies on the receiver to comply with the squelch signal, but if a receiver chooses to listen in, the signal is not protected.

It is a bad idea to use any coded squelch system to hide interference issues in systems with life-safety or public-safety uses such as police, fire, search and rescue or ambulance company dispatching. Adding tone or digital squelch to a radio system doesn't solve interference issues, it just covers them up. The presence of interfering signals should be corrected rather than masked. Interfering signals masked by tone squelch will produce apparently random missed messages. The intermittent nature of interfering signals will make the problem difficult to reproduce and troubleshoot. Users will not understand why they cannot hear a call, and will lose confidence in their radio system.

Professional wireless microphones use squelch to avoid reproducing noise when the receiver does not receive enough signal from the microphone. Most professional models have adjustable squelch, usually set with a screwdriver adjustment on the receiver.

See also

Noise gate

Notes



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Look at other dictionaries:

  • squelch´er — squelch «skwehlch», verb, noun. –v.t. 1. to cause to be silent; crush: »to squelch an annoying child. She squelched him with a look of contempt. 2. to strike or press on with crushing force; put down; squash; suppress: »to squelch a student… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Squelch — Squelch, n. 1. A heavy fall, as of something flat. [1913 Webster] 2. Hence: A crushing reply; as, the perfect squelch for a conceited remark. [Colloq.] Hudibras. [1913 Webster +PJC] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Squelch — (skw[e^]lch), v. i. [Perh. imitative. Cf. {Squelch}.] To make a sound like that made by the feet of one walking in mud or slush; to make a kind of swashing sound; to squish; also, to move with such a sound. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] He turned and… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Squelch —   [skweltʃ, englisch], Baugruppe eines Sende Empfangs Geräts, die als Rauschsperre den Niederfrequenzkanal automatisch abschaltet, wenn der Niederfrequenz Störabstand (Verhältnis von Nutz und Rauschsignal) unter einen Schwellenwert absinkt. * * * …   Universal-Lexikon

  • squelch — [skweltʃ] v [Date: 1600 1700; Origin: From the sound] 1.) to make a sucking sound by walking or moving in something soft and wet ▪ My hair was dripping and my shoes squelched as I walked. squelch through/along/up ▪ We squelched across the field.… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Squelch — (skw[e^]lch), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Squelched} (skw[e^]lcht); p. pr. & vb. n. {Squelching}.] [Cf. Prov. E. quelch a blow, and quell to crush, to kill.] To quell; to crush; to silence or put down. [Colloq.] [1913 Webster] Oh t was your luck and… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Squelch — [skwɛltʃ] das; , es [...tʃiz, ...tʃis] <zu engl. to squelch »unterdrücken, niederhalten«> Baugruppe eines Sende bzw. Empfangsgeräts zur Unterdrückung des Rauschens (Elektronik) …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • squelch — [ skweltʃ ] verb 1. ) transitive AMERICAN INFORMAL to stop someone or something that is causing you trouble, especially by taking firm action against them: SQUASH: The government s policy of imprisoning protesters had successfully squelched… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • squelch — squelch·er; squelch; …   English syllables

  • squelch — index abolish, counteract, defeat, extinguish, quash, refute, stifle, strangle Burton s Legal Thesaurus …   Law dictionary

  • squelch — (v.) 1620s, to fall, drop, or stomp on something (soft) with crushing force, possibly imitative of sound made. The figurative sense of suppress completely is first recorded 1864 …   Etymology dictionary

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