R.L. Drake is a privately held company located in Franklin, Ohio. The company was founded in 1943 by Robert L. Drake, a young engineer with a significant background in radio design for major industry concerns. The company began as a manufacturer of low pass and high pass filters for the government and amateur radio market. After World War II, the company applied its engineering expertise to the consumer market and started producing amateur or "ham" radio transmitters and receivers.
The preferred product of many amateur radio buffs and celebrities, the company's amateur products soon became known as the "Cadillacs" of the ham radio field. Many of the Drake receivers, transmitters, and transceivers manufactured in the fifties, sixties, and seventies are still in active use today. Several of the products, built in "limited" quantities, are considered very "rare". Collectors and Drake aficionados will often pay twice the original market price to add such an item to their "Ham Shack".
Drake continued to search for new areas to apply its engineering expertise, even as they expanded their product line with marine radios and other reception hardware. In 1981, Drake investigated the then semi-hobbyist field of home satellite reception equipment. Drake engineers, under the leadership of founder's son Peter Drake, completed a prototype satellite receiver in just four months.
The demand for satellite receivers in the 1980's was overwhelming, convincing Drake to concentrate primarily on the development and manufacture of satellite communications equipment. This development led to the manufacture of commercial satellite receivers and distribution equipment, as well as reception equipment for the international marketplace.
In 1997 Drake brought its expertise in the RF communications field to the assistive listening market. The transmitter/personal receiver system was put into production to help the hearing impaired participate in venues where traditional hearing aids amplify all sounds, causing distortion or reverberation of the source audio.
In 1998 Drake introduced video modulators in miniature. Having produced 19 inch rack equipment for the CATV industry for several years, Drake sensed the need for smaller equipment, as cable "head-ends" are typically remote buildings where space is a commodity. The VMM-600, one of the video mini-modulators, is a high quality fixed channel heterodyne audio/video modulator that allows one to twelve units to be mounted in the same amount of rack space required by two standard size units.
In 2001, Drake took the mini-modular system one step further and introduced a complete line of digital head-end products. The mini-modular approach offers the ability to QAM modulate digital signals onto a cable system using MPEG video, QPSK satellite signals, or off-air ATSC transmissions. Mini-modules are offered that can translate off-air ATSC signals to cable in either ATSC or QAM format.
2002, marked the introduction of the SCT860 transcoder. The SCT860, satellite to cable transcoder, places the digital satellite receiver, QAM remodulator, and channel upconverter in a single convenient modular package for QAM delivery of HITS™-QT or DISH Network programming. An RS232 data connection allows the entire system to be remotely controlled by a personal computer.
In 2004, several new and innovative products were added to the digital transcoder product line. The DQT860 provides a means of multiplexing two off air 8VSB signals or QAM signals into a single CATV channel for a CATV system. The MQM860 will multiplex two ATSC ASI transport streams in the same manner as the DQT860. The QQP860 is essentially a single input DQT860 and is used for DOCSIS data applications where no change in data rate or timing is desired.
In 2005, the SCT860 digital transcoder was expanded to the SCT1860, SCT2860, SCT3860, SCT4860. These four models allow transcoding of QPSK or 8PSK satellite signals, from 16 QAM to 1024 QAM output. The SCTeci, introduced in 2007, provides Internet access to control up to 70 digital transcoders, mounted in RMT150 trays.
Presently, Drake manufactures a wide range of video distribution equipment and cable television equipment in both the standard rack size and the mini-modules. Drake also builds complete CATV head-ends, equipment racks of digital and analog equipment cabled, and tested, ready to connect to a power source and a satellite signal.