MLinkPlanner 2.0

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

User Manual

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From the Developers

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

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 tree 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 building data from OpenStreetMap project database. Data source: Our buildings database, which synchronizes with the global OpenStreetMap database.

All of these types of geodata are automatically downloaded to the required 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 2.0 can perform the calculation and optimization of PtP and PtMP microwave link parameters, including:

  • Path profile analysis (evaluate different clearance criteria, obstruction loss, reflection geometry)

  • Multipath fade probability calculation (Rec. ITU-R P.530-17 method; Vigants-Barnett method)

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

  • 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.526-15 Complete Bullington method or Diffraction over multiple cylinders method; Deygout principle method with correction ITU-R-P.526-11; Epstein-Peterson method)

  • Gaseous attenuation (Rec. ITU-R P.676-11)

  • Attenuation in vegetation (Rec. ITU-R P.833-9)

 

MLinkPlanner 2.0 can perform coverage calculations for PtMP systems with the different area study methods:

  • Received Power Studies at subscriber stations (downlink)

  • Best Server

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

 

MLinkPlanner 2.0 allows you to do:

  • Use the large set of radio equipment specifications that come with the software.

  • Save the result of the coverage calculation as an interactive web page, as a raster image, or as a KMZ file.

  • Compare the coverage calculation results performed for different conditions.

  • Flexibly adjust the layers on the base map and show custom vector layers

  • Use metric or English measurement systems.

Installation, Activation and Registration of MLinkPlanner

MLinkPlanner 2.0 supports Windows 7/8/8.1/10.

The minimum computer configuration is 32-bit Windows, Core i3 CPU, 4GB RAM, 200GB HDD, video card, and monitor with support for 1366x768, although the program can be installed on a less productive computer.

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 license.

Run the installation file and follow the instructions that appear on your screen. When the installation is complete, run the application; enter the Activation ID provided to you in the order email, and click Activate.

Once you have done that, you have activated the fully functional version.

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 versions. You can download the update from the link and install it manually. Exit the MLinkPlanner software before installing the update.

User Interface

After the program starts, the main panel will appear with the main menu on the left side and the base map on the right side. You can change the size of the panels as needed using the separator. At the top is the main toolbar. When you hover over each of the icons, a hint appears.

Figure 1. MLinkPlanner 2.0 interface

-  Standard tools for working with files: Create, Open, Save.

-  Save the project.

-  Collapse all PtMP base stations in the main menu.

-  Expand PtMP base stations to the sector level in the main menu.

-  Expand PtMP base stations in the main menu to the subscriber station level.

-  Show / Hide the left panel for subscriber stations and links. By default, this tool is deactivated, but it can be activated in Settings.

-  Show / Hide the panel with a path profile. By default, this tool is deactivated, but it can be activated in Settings.

- The current base map zoom

- The current base map

- Antenna height optimization

- Diffraction analysis

- Reflection analysis

- Perform coverage calculation for PtMP base stations.

- Add the coverage to compare

- The tool "ruler," which allows measuring the distance and azimuth between any two points. To perform a measurement, click on the ruler, then click on any two points of the map and you will see the distance between the points and the azimuth from first to second. To exit, right-click anywhere on the map.

- Save PtMP base station coverage as a webpage.

- Save PtMP base station coverage as an image in *.png format.

- Save PtMP base station coverage in *.kmz format.

- Equipment Editor

- Search for base stations, subscriber stations, and links by name.

- Help

More information about each of the tools is described later in the relevant sections of the manual.


As in the main user menu, the program uses a multi-level tree interface. When you select one of the menu items, the corresponding panel opens next to it.


MLinkPlanner also has a context menu on the base map. You can use them to quickly perform various actions. The options for this context menu directly depends on selected main menu items.


Different layers can be displayed on the base map — sites, microwave PtP links, PtMP base and subscriber stations, PtMP coverage, various additional custom vector layers, etc. You can choose to display one of the pre-installed base maps or customize your base map, as described in the Base map Settings section.


Map navigation performs with a mouse. Use the mouse wheel to zoom the map in or out. You can also select the required zoom from the drop-down list in the toolbar.


When the map zooms into level 12 or higher, the application begins to download SRTM elevation data and tree cover data. The status bar displays the pointer’s geographic coordinates and the information about the elevation above sea level and the height of the tree canopy. Usually, loading of the necessary data sets (terrain, elevation, and tree cover) takes place in a few seconds.

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

  2. Using the Add a new product family button in the Point-to-Multipoint menu, connect the product family with the PtMP equipment you need to the project (see the PtMP base stations section). If such equipment was not in the set of specifications supplied with the program, then first create the equipment specification (see Section Equipment Editor).

  3. Using the one of the previously created sites, in the Point-to-Multipoint menu, create a new base station (see the PtMP base stations section). When creating a BS, its first sector is created automatically.

  4. In the created BS sector, from the drop-down lists, select the family and product (equipment model), bandwidth, carrier frequency, and also specify the antenna and feeder parameters, also choose the antenna pattern file (see the PtMP base stations section).

  5. In the created BS sector, click on the button Add a new subscriber station and select the site on the basis of which this subscriber station will be created.

  6. In the panel of the created subscriber station, click the Generate path profile button to automatically create the path profile (see Creating the Path Profile with GIS section). From the drop-down list, select the product (equipment model), and specify the antenna and feeder parameters.

  7. In the panel of the subscriber station, сlick Report icon to display the link availability report.

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

  2. Using the Add a new product family button in the Point-to-Point menu, connect the product family with the PtP equipment you need to the project (see the PtP links section). If such equipment was not in the set of specifications supplied with the program, then first create the equipment specification (see Equipment Editor).

  3. Using the previously created sites, in the Point-to-Point menu, create a new microwave PtP link (see the Creating PtP link section).

  4. In the panel of the created PtP link, click the Generate path profile button to automatically create the path profile (see Creating the Path Profile with GIS section).

  5. From the drop-down list, select the family and product (equipment model), bandwidth, and carrier frequency.

  6. In the table that appears, mark the types of modulations and coding for which the calculation will be performed. Next, specify the required configuration of the microwave link, redundancy and diversity reception, parameters of antennas and feeders, as well as antenna heights (antenna heights can also be changed directly on the path profile diagram).

  7. Click Report icon to display the link performance and availability report.

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

  2. Using the Add a new product family button in the Point-to-Multipoint menu, connect the product family with the PtMP equipment you need to the project (see the PtMP base stations section). If such equipment was not in the set of specifications supplied with the program, then first create the equipment specification (see Section Equipment Editor).

  3. Using the one of the previously created sites, in the Point-to-Multipoint menu, create a new base station (see the PtMP base stations section). When creating a BS, its first sector is created automatically.

  4. In the created BS sector, from the drop-down lists, select the family and product (equipment model), bandwidth, carrier frequency, the antenna and feeder parameters, and also choose the antenna pattern file (see the PtMP base stations section).

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

  6. Click Calculate Coverage on the top toolbar to display a coverage map.

Projects

MLinkPlanner project files have a *.mlp2 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.

The import of projects from the previous version is also provided.

The installation file comes with several test projects from which you can start working in MLinkPlanner.

Sites

Before creating microwave point-to-point links, point-to-multipoint base stations or subscriber stations links, you must first create sites. Sites are locations that can be connected via point-to-point or point-to-multipoint links. A site has only three characteristics - name, latitude, longitude.

Creating Sites

To work with sites, go to the Sites menu item in the left menu.

Figure 2. Sites menu

- Move this site up.

- Move this site down.

- Import sites from *.csv or *.kml files.

- Export sites to Microsoft Excel.

- Sort sites in alphabetical order.

- Add sites from the clipboard.

- Delete all sites.

- Position the map with the site at the center of the screen.

- Find and select a site in the table.

MLinkPlanner provides several ways to create sites:

1. Enter the name and coordinates of the site in the table.

2. Use the context menu when clicking on the base map.

3. Import sites from a CSV or KML file.

4. Copy from spreadsheets via the clipboard.

Table Entry

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 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 base map. If you do not specify a hemisphere, then the northern hemisphere will be set by default.

Use the Context Menu

You can also create a site by right-clicking on a location on the base map. Being in the main menu item Sites, right-click on a location within the basemap and select Create a new site from the context menu; you can rename it later. The new site will be added to the map and appended to the bottom of the site table.


Please note that the context menu with the line "Create new site" appears on the base map only when you are in the Sites main menu.

Import Sites from a CSV 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

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

The program also allows you to import sites from KML files that can be prepared using the Google Earth application. To import sites, click the Import sites from *.CSV, *.KML button and select the * .KML file, while all point features from the KML file will be imported as sites.
Imported sites are added to existing ones.

Copy from Spreadsheets via Clipboard

Copy the cells with the names of the sites and their coordinates in the Excel or Word spreadsheet to the clipboard and then click  Add sites from the clipboard on the toolbar, after which the corresponding sites will appear in the table.

Working with Sites

To delete one or several sites, select the corresponding rows in the table and press the Delete key. Deleting a site will not lead to the deletion of PtP microwave links already created on the basis of this site, as well as the base or subscriber station PtMP.


By double-clicking on the row with the site in the table, this site will be shown on the base map in the center of the screen.


You can move the site using the right mouse button - select the site in the Sites table, then right-click on the location on the base map, and select Move site in the context menu.


You can quickly find a site in a table using the Find and select a site in the table tool

Equipment Editor

MLinkPlanner 2.0 uses special format equipment files with the extension * .eqt.  These files contain specifications of different types of Point-to-Point and Point-to-Multipoint equipment.


The software comes with a set of such files for a wide range of modern Point-to-Point and Point-to-Multipoint equipment. Therefore, in most cases, the user does not need to search for detailed specifications for the main radio equipment. It is enough to choose equipment from the supplied set. One such file may contain specifications for a whole family of products. The common parameters for this Family are modulation and coding parameters, as well as a set of bandwidths.


An example of such a family for Point-to-Multipoint equipment is the popular airMax family by Ubiquiti Networks, which includes many products of base stations and subscriber stations that are compatible with each other. Equipment for Point-to-Point example family is FibeAir IP-20N by Ceragon, which includes a set of external placement of different modules (RFU) on different frequency bands.


We are constantly updating the files with equipment parameters, the current set can be downloaded from our website https://www.wireless-planning.com/equipment. These specifications are taken from open sources and are supplied "as is;" we carefully check it, but we do not guarantee the reliability.


If the file with the necessary equipment was not included in the supplied set, the program provides a tool, Equipment Editor, with which the user can prepare the specification file.


To start the equipment editor, click on the Equipment Editor icon on the top toolbar.

Standard File Tools:

- New


- Open


- Save


- Save as

Family Name

Family Name

Family Info

General information about the equipment family; information text field

Family Parameters

Products

The list of products (equipment models) included in the family

Bandwidth, MHz

List of all bandwidths supported by the equipment family

Modulation @ Coding

A list of all types of modulations and coding supported by the equipment family

Point-to-Multipoint Radio

Select for the PtMP family 

Point-to-Point Radio

Select for the PtP family

Maximum Available Branching Configuration

The maximum number of main and standby trunks available in the equipment family (PtP only)

Available Branching Types

Available branching types: Hot Standby (HSB) / Co-channel (XPIC)/ MIMO 2x2/MIMO 4x4. PtP only.

Available Diversity Options

Diversity reception methods available for the equipment family (PtP only)

Adaptive Equalizer Parameters

Choosing the type of adaptive equalizer parameters: signature parameters or DFM (Dispersive Fade Margin) PtP only

Product

Selected product (equipment model)

Product Info

General product information (equipment models);  information text field

External Antenna

Select if an external antenna is used with this product.

Integrated Antenna

Select if only an integrated antenna is used with this product.

Antenna Gain, dBi

Integrated antenna Gain, dBi

Antenna Pattern (in MSI format)

Antenna pattern of the integrated antenna. To download the antenna pattern file in MSI format, click the icon in the upper left corner.

Product Image

Photo or graphic image of the product. You can download the image from a file or through the clipboard, using the tools above the image. If one picture is used for all products, then indicate this using the check box in the upper right corner, this will significantly reduce the size of the file with the specification.

Bandwidth, MHz

Selected bandwidth, MHz

Modulation @ Coding

A list of all types of modulations and coding supported by the equipment family

Channel Bitrate, Mbit/s

Maximum channel speed for the corresponding type of modulation and coding, Reference Information, Mbps

Tx Power, dBm

Transmitter power for the appropriate type of modulation and coding, dBm

Rx Threshold, dBm

The threshold sensitivity of the receiver for the corresponding type of modulation and coding, dBm

Signature Width, MHz

Signature width, MHz (PtP only)

Signature Depth min Phase, dB

Signature depth min phase, dB (PtP only)

Signature Depth non min Phase, dB

Signature depth non min phase, dB (PtP only)

DFM, dB

Dispersive Fade Margin, dB (PtP only)

The procedure for creating the specification file:


1. Fill in the Family field and the Family information field (if necessary; this is just an information field).


2. Go to the Family Parameters panel. Fill in all the products in the Family. Fill in all the frequency bands which are available for the Family. Fill in all the Modulation and Coding which are available for the Family. After filling in, click OK, this panel will close, and the entered information will appear in the Products, Frequency Bands, as well as in the Modulation and Coding table of the main panel of the Equipment Editor.


3. Select the type of equipment family - Point-to-Multipoint or Point-to-Point. For the Point-to-Point family, fill in the information about the maximum available branching configuration, available branching types, available diversity options, and the type of adaptive equalizer parameters. All of this information will be taken into account in the future when configuring PtP microwave links based on this product family.


4. Now you can enter information about each product:


4.1 Select your product from the drop-down list.
4.2 Fill in the Product Information Field (if necessary; this is just a text field).
4.3 If an external antenna is used with this model of equipment, select this. If an antenna is built into the equipment, as is often the case for PtMP base and subscriber stations, select the Integrated Antenna, enter its gain, and download the antenna pattern file in MSI format.
4.4 Insert a photo or graphic image of the product. You can download the image from a file or through the clipboard, using the tools above the image. If one picture is used for all products, then indicate this using the checkbox in the upper right corner; this will significantly reduce the size of the file with the specification.
4.5 From the bandwidth drop-down list, select the required product bandwidth. Fill in the columns Channel bitrate, Tx Power, and Rx threshold for each modulation type. For Point-to-Point equipment, it may be necessary to additionally fill in the adaptive equalizer parameters for each modulation type and if the equipment family supports Co-channel mode, then XPIF and Co/I parameters.
4.6 Repeat the steps in clause 4.5 for all bandwidths supported by the product


5. After filling in the information for each product, save the specification file (extension * .eqt).


For convenience and reducing time when filling out specifications, several tools are provided here, and copying and pasting groups of cells from spreadsheets are also supported.


Toolbar:

- Copy all parameters of the product modulation table to the clipboard (used to create new products based on existing ones).


- Paste modulation table parameters from the clipboard (used to create new products based on existing ones).


- Automatically fill receiver threshold sensitivity values for all bandwidths based on the values of the first bandwidth. This tool can be used for an approximate assessment of threshold sensitivity when accurate data is not available for all bandwidths. The tool is based on the fact that the threshold sensitivity of the receiver decreases in proportion to the increase in bandwidth. For example, when the bandwidth is doubled, the threshold sensitivity decreases by 3 dB.


- Rename products (replace the combination of any letters / numbers / symbols in the product name).


- Apply selected parameters in the table for all products with this bandwidth.


- Apply selected parameters in the table for all bandwidths for this product.


- Display the product specifications for the selected bandwidth in the form of a datasheet, which can be saved in PDF, Word, or Excel formats.


- Load product data from Pathloss RAF file PL50_ASCII_RADIO_SPEC_03/04 with ADMOD