MLinkPlanner 1.2

Point-to-Point and Point-to-Multipoint Microwave Link Planning Software

Microwave link planning software user interface

User Manual

Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4
From the Developers

We made every effort to create a user-friendly and intuitive application. However, we recommend you spend some time reading this User Manual to get the most out of the MLinkPlanner application.

About MLinkPlanner

MLinkPlanner is a powerful and user-friendly tool for designing microwave point-to-point (PtP) and point-to-multipoint (PtMP) links. MLinkPlanner was created by engineers with many years of experience in designing microwave links, from single hop access links to high-power long-haul trunk lines.


MLinkPlanner has demonstrated its effectiveness in designing many links that are operating successfully, in various climate zones and topographical conditions, from plains and marshlands to highlands.


Special focus was placed on devising a convenient user interface, the incorporation of adaptable and easy to use link path profiles in the design process and the automation of all key calculations.

Main Features

Fully automatic generation of path profile with terrain elevation, tree height, and height of buildings based on:

  • Global terrain elevation 1 arc sec (about 30 m) resolution SRTM (Shuttle Radar Topography Mission) data. Data sources: USGS EarthExplorer site https://earthexplorer.usgs.gov

  • Global tree cover 1 arc sec (about 30 m) resolution data with information about trees height. Data sources: High-Resolution Global Maps of 21st-Century Forest Cover Change Published by Hansen, Potapov, Moore, Hancher et al. Department of Geographical Sciences University of Maryland https://earthenginepartners.appspot.com and Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology https://landscape.jpl.nasa.gov

  • Global 3D buildings data from OpenStreetMap project database. Data sources: Our buildings database, which synchronizes every minute with the global OpenStreetMap database

 

All these types of geodata are automatically downloaded to the desired area as needed; there is no need to worry about preloading the geodata.

 

Moreover, you can edit an existing path profile or create a new one manually.

 

The application allows you to use standard basemaps (such as OpenStreetMap, OpenTopoMap, etc.) and custom ones.

 

MLinkPlanner can perform the calculation and optimization of PtP and PtMP microwave link parameters, including:

  • Path profile analysis (evaluate clearance criteria according to Rec. ITU-R P.530-17, obstruction loss, reflection geometry)

  • Multipath fade probability calculation (Rec. ITU-R P.530-17)

  • Rain fade calculation (Rec. ITU-R P.530-17)

  • Diversity improvement calculation (frequency, space and quad diversity)

  • Co-channel operation link calculation

  • Error performance and availability calculation (Rec. ITU-R F.1668, Rec. ITU-R F.1703)

  • Reflection analysis (Rec. ITU-R P.530-17)

  • Diffraction loss analysis (Rec. ITU-R P.526-13)

 

MLinkPlanner can perform radio coverage calculations for PtMP systems with the different area study methods:

  • Received Power Studies at subscriber stations (downlink)

  • Strongest (Most Likely) Server

  • Carrier-to-interference + noise ratio C/(I+N) at subscriber stations

Installation, Activation and Registration of MLinkPlanner

MLinkPlanner supports Windows 7/8/8.1/10.

To use the full version of MLinkPlanner, you should purchase a license.

Once you have successfully purchased MLinkPlanner, you will receive an automated email within a few seconds containing a link to download the installation file and the Activation ID for the single-user license of MLinkPlanner.

Run the installation file and follow the instructions that appear on your screen. When the installation is complete, run the application and enter the Activation ID provided to you in the order email, and click Activate. You have now activated the fully functioning version of MLinkPlanner.

Software Update

Periodically, we release free current updates in which we improve the functionality and stability of the software.

MLinkPlanner supports both manual and automatic checking for updates. The software will check for available updates every time it starts. To check for updates manually, click “Help - Check for updates.” If there is an available update, a window will open with information about the current and available version. You can download the update from the link and install it manually. Exit the MLinkPlanner software before installing the update.

Quick Start
Point-to-Point Link Performance and Availability Calculation
  1. Create at least two sites (see Creating Sites).

  2. Click on the Point-to-Point tab to create a hop using the previously created sites (see Hops).

  3. Click the Generate profile to automatically create a path profile of the hop based on terrain constraints, building data and tree cover.

  4. On tabs Site A and Site B, specify equipment configuration and parameters, as well as antenna heights.

  5. Click Report to display a link performance report.

 
Coverage Study for Point-to-Multipoint
  1. Create at least one site (see Creating Sites).

  2. In the Point-to-Multipoint tab create a Base Stations using the previously created sites (see Base Station) and click on the check box on the left of the Base Station name.

  3. Fill in the form Coverage Study Details with the calculation parameters (see Coverage Study).

  4. Click Calculate Coverage to display a coverage map.

 
Point-to-Multipoint Link Availability Calculation
  1. Create at least two sites (see Creating Sites).

  2. In the Point-to-Multipoint tab create a Base Station and a Subscriber Station using the previously created sites (see Base Station and Subscriber Station).

  3. Click the Generate profile to automatically create a path profile of the hop based on terrain constraints, building data and tree cover.

  4. On the Base Station and Subscriber Station tabs, specify equipment configuration and parameters, as well as antenna heights.

  5. Click Report to display the summary link performance and availability report.

User Interface

Once the program has started, the site table will be displayed on the upper left panel. On the right panel, the basemap will be displayed. You can resize each panel as needed by dragging the separator.

All sites, PtP microwave links, PtMP Base Stations, and PtMP Subscriber Stations will be displayed on the basemap. You can select one of the preset basemaps or configure a custom basemap by specifying a tile server URL (see Basemaps Settings). Map navigation is performed with a mouse. Use the mouse wheel to zoom the map in or out. You can also change the map scale using the drop-down list next to the map name. You can show or hide sites, site names, PtP hops and PtMP links by clicking on the corresponding icons on the menu bar located on the top of the basemap.

When the map is zoomed into level 12 or higher, the application begins to cache the GIS SRTM elevation data and tree cover data. The status bar on the lower left will display the mouse pointer’s geographic coordinates, elevation above sea level and the height of trees. Usually, loading of the necessary data sets (terrain elevation and tree cover) takes place in a few seconds. If you have a bad Internet connection and data sets are loaded too slowly - contact us at admin@mlinkplanner.com, and we will give you a link to download data for the area you need. You will need to provide the path to the folder for the data files specified in the application settings. After manually downloading the data files, you will no longer need to download these datasets from the Internet.

How to Use Basemaps and How to Set Custom Basemaps

MLinkPlanner 01.png

Figure 1. User Interface

Projects

The upper left part of the application window contains the icon for the standard file menu: New, Open, Save, Save as. MLinkPlanner project files have a *.mlpx extension. Each file contains information about the project, including path profiles and parameters of microwave equipment. A new project is created automatically each time the application is run. On the lower left panel, enter the Project Information.

Sites

Sites are locations that can be connected via point-to-point or point-to-multipoint links.
Before creating microwave point-to-point links, point-to-multipoint base stations and subscriber stations links, you must first create the sites in MLinkPlanner.
You can create sites in MLinkPlanner or import sites from KML or CSV format files. You can also import sites from spreadsheets by exporting the sites in the spreadsheet to the CSV format.

How to Create Sites

Creating Sites

To create a site, click on the Sites tab on the upper left panel. Enter the site name and its geographic coordinates in the relevant fields. The geographic coordinates are specified as Point of compass, degrees, minutes and decimal seconds (e.g., N35 36 23.8). The numbers should be separated by a space. After pressing ENTER, the coordinates will be automatically converted to the format specified in the Application Settings menu. Alternatively, you can enter coordinates as Point of Compass and Decimal degrees (N12.34567). After pressing ENTER, they will also be converted to the selected format. The site icon will be displayed on the basemap.

You can also create a site by right-clicking on a location on the basemap. Right-click on the chosen location on the map and select Create new site from the context menu. The new site will be added to the map and appended to the bottom of the site table.

 

When any row on the site table is clicked, the corresponding site will be selected. The site name will be highlighted and the site location will be displayed in the center of the basemap.

You can also select a site by double-clicking on the site on the basemap.

You can move the selected site by right-clicking the point in the basemap where you want to move the site to and then selecting Move site from the context menu.

To change the order of the sites on the site table, use         and          buttons to move the selected sites up or down. To remove the selected site, click


To sort sites in alphabetical order click


You can rename a site in the table by editing its name in the Site Table; however, all links previously created using the site will be removed.

Figure 2. Creating Sites

Importing Sites from a Spreadsheet or KML file

You can import sites into MLinkPlanner from any spreadsheet by exporting the sheet as a CSV file (separator – “;”). The required fields for each site are Name, Latitude, and Longitude. Geographic coordinates should be specified as Point of compass, degrees, minutes and decimal seconds (N35 36 23.8). The numbers must be separated by a space. Point of Compass and Decimal degrees (N12.34567) is also an acceptable format.


To import from CSV: save the spreadsheet as a CSV file (separator – “;”) and then click            (Import sites from *.CSV, *.KML).

Figure 3. Example of CSV file with sites to be imported

You can also Import sites from a KML file. Imported sites are added to existing ones.

Planning point-to-point links

When sites have been created, you can create one or several microwave hops. To create a hop, go to the Point-to-point tab, specify the start and end of each hop by right-clicking on the Site A and Site B cells and select the desired sites from the list that appears.

Figure 4. Creating New Hops

To select a hop, click on the corresponding row in the hop table. When clicked, the hop will be displayed in the center of the basemap. You can also select a hop by double-clicking on it on the map.


Path profile properties and equipment parameters for the selected hop are displayed below the hop table.

 

To change the order of the hops on the hop table, use         and         buttons to move the selected hops up and down. To remove a hop, click .                Note that if a site is associated with a hop (or several hops), removing or renaming the site will remove all hops associated with this site.
 

User Interface for Working with Hops

Above the upper right panel, you can see the following buttons: 
 

Map View: the primary mode in which you can create and edit hops, create path profiles and enter equipment parameters for each hop, as well as calculate antenna installation heights.

Report: displays a link performance and availability report for a selected hop in the lower right panel. Actions in the left panels are disabled when in Report mode. To display a report for another hop, return to the Map View mode, select the desired hop and click Report.

Reflection Analysis: allows the user to identify possible specular reflection points on the hop and evaluate the application of various specular reflection reduction methods for the selected hop. Any actions in the left panels are disabled. See Reflection Analysis.

Diffraction Analysis: allows the user to estimate diffraction losses arising from clutter on the selected hop. Any actions in the left panels are disabled. See Diffraction analysis.