Mighty Modules

New signal-processing equipment is designed to save money and space
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A TV facility is only as good as its ability to distribute quality signals, and not just to viewers. The move to digital has brought broadcasters a wealth of new challenges, whether synching the audio and video signals or converting analog to digital. To meet those challenges, suppliers offer modular systems that provide a wide variety of signal-processing functions.

The goal is to enable signals to move reliably and be processed without quality degradation. Says Hiro Tanoue, sales manager, Eastern region and Central and South America, at For-A Corp., "We're now offering a clear migration path from analog to SD and then to HD. It allows customers a transition that is cost-effective."

In fact, For-A's Universal Frame Series can accommodate HD and SD modules in the same frame, an option that saves money and space. New modules this year include the UFH-70HS HD/SD frame synchronizer; UFM-1450DFS, a cost-effective analog composite-to-serial digital frame synchronizer; and the standalone FA-145 frame synchronizer/time-base corrector.

The UFH-70HS, Tanoue says, includes high-quality synchronization processing for SD (525 lines/60 frames per second) and HD (1080i/59.94) signals. Users can also choose to operate the module in bypass mode or by relay. It can control video, chroma, chroma phase, and setup levels.

Despite For-A's impressive quantity, the winner for offering the most new modules this year will be Miranda with 23 for its Densité Series. Vice President of Marketing Neil Sharpe says the lineup provides a wide range of interfacing functions, including incoming- and outgoing-feed processing, HD downconversion, analog to digital conversion, embedding and de-embedding, multiformat distribution, fiber interfacing, and telemetry probes for monitoring using Internet Protocol (IP).

The Densité Series frame is two rack units in size and can hold up to 20 multiformat modules per frame. Densité frames can also be stacked without cooling spaces, making them more space-efficient. And they can also be connected to each other via the optional Monitoring Switching Bridge, which eliminates the need for additional routing switchers.

Sharpe says integration of IP technology will allow operators to see the signals they are adjusting from a desktop computer using Miranda's iControl QC over IP software. For users looking for more in-depth diagnostics, Densité control probes, which combine distribution amplifier and telemetry functions, are one solution. The probes operate with digital/analog video and audio, measuring a large number of signal-quality parameters and triggering alarms in the event of failure conditions. An optional IP scope feature provides waveform and vector-scope signal analysis.

From Snell & Wilcox come improvements on its existing IQ module. Says Joe Zaller, vice president, strategic marketing, "IQ has been re-engineered to be better, faster, and cheaper."

The goal is to help broadcasters better connect "islands" of disparate equipment: HD, analog, even file-based IT gear. The new additions bring Snell's IQ module count to more than 300. One of the most important modules is the IQSDA0 intelligent reclocking HD/SD-SDI distribution amplifier, which provides up to seven outputs. "We can drive cables up to 140 meters when building a system up and around the IQSDA0," says Zaller. "Broadcasters don't have to buy repeaters, and that helps save a lot of money in a facility."

Another new module is the IQMUX40 HD-SDI remultiplexer, which can embed or de-embed up to 16 audio channels as eight AES/EBU streams with a video stream (it can also do both at the same time). Also new: the IQSYN20 HD/SD-SDI frame synchronizer and IQSYN00 synchronizer with embedded audio processing. Two HD/SD-SDI routers, the ISRT00 5x2 and the IQSRT10 8x2, are also available, along with the IQMDA00 distribution amplifier for HD-SDI monitoring.

In addition, Snell is introducing improvements to its RollCall system, which helps broadcasters monitor their facilities (Turner Broadcasting, for example, uses it to monitor more than 7,000 pieces of equipment). New this year is RollSNMP, a feature that allows it to monitor Simple Network Management Protocol (or SNMP) status information. SNMP transmits device-management information, making it easier to monitor network performance and solve problems.

Cost is about $3,500 per RollCall installation, with an additional $2,000 per installation for SNMP functionality. A scalable charge per number of devices monitored runs about $1,500 per 20 devices.

RollMap also has new features, allowing a global view of the entire broadcast infrastructure, whether in a single building or around the globe. Traditionally, network views are shown on a PC screen as a physical representation of the network topology. RollMap now goes beyond that, allowing the customer to arrange views by channel or physical location or to even create virtual networks; this makes it easier to locate and manage the correct equipment.

And the new RollPod hardware remote control gives operators access to the RollCall network from any location. "If the user is in a remote location and sees two frames out of sync," explains Snell & Wilcox Principal R&I Engineer Bruce Devlin, "he or she can dial the knobs on the RollPod to introduce frames of delay and synchronize the images."

Leitch, another player in the modular-product area, will roll out new modules for its NEO and 6800+ processing platforms. The two platforms can be used together, says Paul Eisner, vice president, VP&D product marketing, simplifying operations and reducing upfront capital expenditures. "All of Leitch's control and monitoring applications and infrastructure products," he notes, "work across the 6800+ and NEO lines, providing an integrated content environment."

Leitch wants to move its customers beyond modular core processing, Eisner says, by bringing such functions as logo branding (with NEO LogoMotion II), content storage (with NEO VR), and multisource display processing (with NEO SuiteView) to the platforms.

New Leitch modules will be shown for HD and fiber demands. They include HD LogoMotion II, HD frame synchronizers, HD digital/analog converters, HD-mux and de-mux, SD and HD fiber connectivity, and HD upconversion and downconversion. "The HD modules are at a price point customers are asking for," says Eisner, noting that all of them provide DejaVu intelligent recovery.

NEO SuiteView, another new module, is scalable from four to 44 multiple formats, including HD inputs in a three-rack-unit NEO frame. NEO SuiteView Solo has much of the same functionality, Eisner says, with up to 12 inputs in a more compact one-rack-unit NEO frame. "The complete line of SuiteView multi-source display processors is also fully integrated with Leitch's Command Control System," he adds. "It allows users to create a customized, system-wide monitoring solution for 24-hour operation."

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