27 / 2 / 2015
The cockatoo's natural inquisitiveness and powerful beak mean that it can easily damage cables in its native country of Australia. In collaboration with Walter Zoo in Gossau, Switzerland, HUBER+SUHNER has developed a solution to provide better protection from these intelligent birds.
The MASTERLINE Extreme Hybrid cable system is used exclusively in mobile phone applications to transfer data and power from the base station to the antennae. Cockatoos like to attack the antenna cables because they enjoy sharpening their beaks on them. These naturally bright birds also like to play with the rubber seals on cars, leaving behind a trail of damaged cars and antenna cables. With this in mind, HUBER+SUHNER was looking to provide improved protection for antenna cables from birds to supply its customers with the best possible solution. This was particularly the case in Australia and New Zealand where keas and cockatoos are often regarded as a pest.
The hybrid cable system transports both data and power from the base station to the splitter. Single fibre optic and power cables (breakouts) lead from this splitter to the remote radio heads.
Search for solutions to protect cables from cockatoos
To protect cables from birds, HUBER+SUHNER initially developed a special outer sheath material for the hybrid cable from the base station to the splitter, which is even more robust and impenetrable. Tests at HUBER+SUHNER's laboratory confirmed these improved properties.
However, the greater problem was with fiber optic and power breakouts - the cables which lead from the splitter to the remote radio heads. Compared to the hybrid cable (diameter of around 40 mm), the breakouts have a smaller diameter (fiber optic version is around 5.8 mm and power version around 12 mm) and are therefore easier for the cockatoos to penetrate.
Collaboration with Walter Zoo
To find out which solutions were suitable to prevent bird damage, the developers went right to the root of the problem. HUBER+SUHNER staff talked to Walter Zoo about the animals' behaviour and discussed possible solutions. These were then tested with the keas in Walter Zoo. Based on these findings, HUBER+SUHNER was able to develop a suitable solution. This took the form of a hose with a metal inner layer and plastic outer layer, and a plastic container for the transition between the splitter and the breakouts. As a result, the entire cable system is now bird-proof. “The collaboration with Walter Zoo was very valuable for us. We learned a great deal about the animals' behaviour and were able to use this in the development of our products,” said Aleksandar Lazic, Fiber Optics Product Manager at HUBER+SUHNER.
Food trough for keas
The collaboration was also positive for Walter Zoo. As cockatoos and keas are naturally very intelligent, they must be kept occupied at all times. Keepers usually do this by hiding the parrot food each day, for example in wooden tubes. To show its gratitude for the successful collaboration, HUBER+SUHNER has sponsored two plastic containers at Walter Zoo which will be used as food troughs. The keepers hide the food in the plastic container, which is then placed in the cage. “The plastic containers are ideal for us because we can give the inquisitive keas their food in a different way every day. Sometimes we put it on the floor, other times we hang it from a tree,” said Dominik Kast, kea keeper at Walter Zoo.
Bird-proofing for other cable systems
Fiber optic cable systems such as the MASTERLINE Ultimate and the newly developed MASTERLINE Extreme Hybrid cable system 10/24 with 10 fibers for power and 24 fibers for data are now available in a bird-proof version. This cable system allows even more remote radio heads to be supplied simultaneously.