Posted 07.05.19

3 Transmitter Types and When to Use Each

Getting the right transmitter for your job is crucial. After all, it is horizontal directional drilling, so it makes sense that you’d need to know the direction of your drill head once it’s underground. Transmitters send a signal to the receiver above to identify their direction, along with depth and location. While this makes locating systems sound incredibly simple, we all know it’s not that easy.

Problems That Arise When Locating Transmitters

No matter what kind of locating system you’re using, there are issues that will come up on the job. You’ve almost certainly encountered active and passive interference before. Active interference includes anything that emits its own magnetic field or frequency that matches the frequency of your transmitter, like radio waves or power lines. Passive interference includes things like rebar that simply get in the way of a transmitter’s signal. Both types of interference can impact signal strength which will throw off your depth readings, or even make it near impossible to locate the drill head.

Different Types of Transmitters

Each brand that manufactures HDD locating systems offers products to combat key issues. Most drillers are familiar with Digital Control Inc.’s (DCI) DigiTrak System. There are also systems from Subsite and Underground Magnetics, a brand that has recently emerged in the market. The following are some of the types of transmitters available.

Transmitters with Varied Signal Strength and Frequency Options

Signal strength is one of the main differences among all types of transmitters. Higher signal strength means you’ll be able to locate the transmitter more accurately at deeper depths. Additionally, to avoid active interference, many transmitters have different frequencies to choose from, with some being able to support a wide range. For instance, the DigiTrak F-Series Transmitter has two frequency options, but some of DCI’s other lines have varied frequencies available.

Rebar Transmitters

Since rebar, or reinforced concrete, is the main source of passive interference, some transmitters offer modes to address this problem. This is especially useful if you’re on a job where the bore goes under warehouse floors, highways or railroad tracks. The DigiTrak Falcon F5 Transmitter has a rebar mode on certain models that can broadcast at Sub-k frequencies, along with hundreds of other frequency options.

Fluid Pressure Transmitters

If you have a job that requires measuring down-hole fluid pressure, consider a fluid pressure transmitter. These can measure annular fluid pressure outside the drill head to give you accurate readings. One example is the DigiTrak Falcon F5 Transmitter which has sensor ports on the front end cap on both sides of the index slot. It can monitor down-hole fluid pressure up to 250 psi, alerting you to potential problems. If you see the pressure start to rise, it could indicate that you’ve lost flow back towards the drill rig which could result in inadvertent returns or getting stuck down-hole. If you see the fluid pressure suddenly drop, it could indicate a change in soil or that you’ve dug through some sort of void — meaning all the drilling fluid is going into the void rather than back in the hole to keep it lubricated and stable.

Visit Melfred Borzall For Transmitters and More

On any HDD job, you’re going to face challenges. As a driller, you have to know how to confront each challenge. While no locating system is going to solve all your problems, the right features can have a huge impact on your production and therefore profitability. At Melfred Borzall, we want to give you the tools you need to do the job right. In addition to transmitters, you’ll find transmitter housing options to ensure the “brains” of your drilling operation are well-protected. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us — our HDD experts would love to help you.

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