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Telemetry Systems and Equipment

Telemetry, derived from the Greek words, tele meaning remote, and metron meaning measure, is the technology of automatic measurement and transmission of information by wire, radio, or other means from remote sources, as from space vehicles, to receiving stations where the data may be evaluated. The primary purpose of telemetry systems is to collect data at a place that is remote or inconvenient, and to transmit the data back to a point where the data is recorded and analyzed. In general, these systems are used in the analysis of moving vehicles such as cars, aircrafts, missiles and orbiting satellites. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), European Space Agency (ESA) and other space agencies use telemetry systems to gather data from orbiting spacecraft and satellites.

Telemetry systems are a special set of communication systems possessing a wealth of applications. Biomedical telemetry is one such application. Biotelemetry provides a means for transmitting physiological or biological information from one site to another for data collection. Technically, it refers to such systems that require no mechanical connection. Biotelemetry studies in the last three decades have permitted many areas of physiological and behavioral monitoring in diverse conditions, both for humans and animals, without the encumbrance and restriction of wires connecting the transmitter and receiver. The most widespread use of biomedical telemetry is the monitoring of biological information from animals and man.

In wildlife study and management, the importance of telemetry systems cannot be overstated. Telemetry permits the tracking of animals and endangered species tagged with such instrumentation, in order to get information on their patterns of movement, dispersal and migrations, and habitat use. The daily positioning of these animals to the scientists, regulators, or other human agencies, coupled with continuous tracking gives an explicit representation of the way they utilize their environment. Telemetry systems are also used as an aid to understand and identify the natural causes that are linked to habitat conditions of wild animals, which in turn alter their behavior, and how such conditions affect their mortality rates. These systems also provide a means to examine and forecast the effects of environmental changes such as thermal, chemical pollution and other geophysical changes.


Communication channels are a major part of any telemetry system. When telemetry was relatively new, information was relayed over wires. Today it uses radio transmissions and GSM (Global System for Mobile communication) technology for data transmission. Telemeter is the apparatus used for recording the readings of an instrument and transmitting them by radio. A telemetry handler, collects, formats and stores the data in a dedicated buffer, and then relays it to the receiving station. The type of telemetry equipment required depends on the type and amount of data to be transmitted and whether remote control capability is desired. In the simplest system, the data are simply displayed on annunciator, indicator, and recorder. In larger systems, video display terminal and data logging is frequently used.

The contribution of telemetry to basic biological and medical research cannot be overstated. Discoveries made during manned space programs led to development of complex physiological monitoring and telemetry equipment, typically to gauge the health and well being of astronauts. Since early 70s, the use of these devices to provide real time physiological monitoring in hospitals has become widespread. Cardiac patients are equipped with automatic recording, measuring, and transmitting devices. Incase of an emergency, an alerting function instantaneously summons the healthcare professional in charge of the patient. Telemetry also permits the tracking of endangered land and marine species tagged with customized telemetry equipment. These devices collect data on their patterns of movement, dispersion, and migrations. The daily positioning of these animals, coupled with continuous tracking gives an explicit representation of the way they utilize their habitat.


Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is an automatic identification method, relying on storing and remotely retrieving data using devices called RFID tags or transponders. The technology requires some extent of cooperation of an RFID reader and an RFID tag. An RFID tag is an object that can be applied to or incorporated into a product, animal, or person for the purpose of identification and tracking using radio waves. Some tags can be read from several meters away and beyond the line of sight of the reader. Most RFID tags contain at least two parts. One is an integrated circuit for storing and processing information, modulating and demodulating a radio-frequency (RF) signal, and other specialized functions. The second is an antenna for receiving and transmitting the signal. There are generally two types of RFID tags: active RFID tags, which contain a battery, and passive RFID tags, which have no battery. Today, RFID is used in enterprise supply chain management to improve the efficiency of inventory tracking and management.

Guide to Telemetry Solutions 2018