MATV Systems and the Digital Transition - Page 4 - AVS Forum
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post #91 of 251 Old 07-07-2007, 01:55 PM - Thread Starter
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You think you could get them to post it on their website, so we can all see it?

Ken English, Sr. Engineer, KSL-TV.
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post #92 of 251 Old 07-07-2007, 03:31 PM
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PM sent

You CAN put antennas on your owned and/or controlled property...
http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/otard.html

Being A Beacon of Knowledge in the darkness of FUD
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post #93 of 251 Old 07-10-2007, 12:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Their CE says he will have them post it to their website, so we can all copy it,....I mean SEE it .

Ken English, Sr. Engineer, KSL-TV.
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post #94 of 251 Old 07-10-2007, 12:28 PM
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It's a PSA - there SHOULDN'T be a copyright issue ?

You CAN put antennas on your owned and/or controlled property...
http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/otard.html

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post #95 of 251 Old 07-11-2007, 09:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenglish View Post

Talked to someone from the University of Utah's "UTV" campus cable system last week.

DTV-to-NTSC converter box and NTSC modulator for each channel, is what they are seriously considering. So, no DTV, no HDTV, no widescreen TV, no EPG, no DD.

"The Digital Television Revolution will NOT be televised" .

Ken,

Northern IL University, where I work, just yanked 7 of their analog channels and put on a straight 8vsb signal on those channels from Chicago stations broadcasting in HD. The problem is that older boxes, like the one I have, couldn't see them, because it assumes CADTV is QAM-256 or similar, and not 8VSB.

Oh well, at least they are trying, and a good first try at that.

Gilbert
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post #96 of 251 Old 07-11-2007, 10:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sebenste View Post

Northern IL University... just yanked 7 of their analog channels and put on a straight 8vsb signal on those channels from Chicago stations broadcasting in HD. The problem is that older boxes, like the one I have, couldn't see them, because it assumes CADTV is QAM-256 or similar, and not 8VSB.

Oh well, at least they are trying, and a good first try at that.

It isn't just old TVs. Yesterday, I set up a brand spanking new 32" HDTV in which the user could only choose between cable and off-air as his two channel plans, whereas most ATSV-tuner TVs I've programmed, even cheap ones, allow for separate selectionsfor digital and analog.

The solution for him was to set the TV on off-air, so it would see the UHF, 8VSB broadcast channels, and to use his VCR as his analog tuner, setting the TV on A/V input.

While this was an 80 year old retiree, he and his wife are extremely sharp and had no problem digesting the complex regimen of switching from digital to analog, but at that retirement home, many of the residents would not be able to figure out how to do that, or remember once I had shown them.
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post #97 of 251 Old 07-18-2007, 04:40 PM
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I just attended a vendors conference held by a large highrise condominium's television committee at which we inspected the off-air headend and loop wiring distribution system that is presently providing the residents with about a dozen local broadcast channels, and then talked with the board members about what they might be looking for to use it to provide digital television signals.

This building has pretty good Blonder Tongue, cut-to-channel antennas for its seven local (Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD) VHF channels, and adequate channel processing equipment, but it distributes those signals through RG-59 braid shielded loop wiring with unshielded walltaps. This building is within a couple of miles of many of the transmitters and because of that, local channels 4, 5, 7 and 9 had to be converted to midband channels just to avoid the double images.

I have been told that the distribution breaks into half a dozen zones and that house amps have been installed at some of those points to boost the system power, but initially, the high powered, MCA-b, 69dBmV strip amps were supposed to drive the entire building without additional inline amplification. The highest frequency of any channel presently carried in this system is 216 Mhz (broadcast channel 13).

The riser wiring is in 1/2" conduits and readily pullable if someone wanted to rewire the building. In fact, with such conduits, you don't really "pull" the wire, you just yank out each 10' long jumper and push in a new one to replace it. One contractor there who was familiar with the building said he thought that his company might bid around $30 per plate to replace the unshielded taps and wallplates with new ones. I don't think that off-the-top-of-the-head quote included pushing new coax, but it might have. Anyway, if the typical condo has three such wallplates, then it would cost about $90 per apartment, or nearly $45,000, to upgrade these walltaps, and there might be additional charges for coax and for the likely few dozen instances in which it is discovered that some unit owners have irreparably butchered their riser wiring during prior renovations.

Back in 2001, I had sent a sales letter to a couple hundred highrise condos in this market, including this one, proposing adding UHF broadcast HDTV to their MATV systems. All together, I wound up installing about a dozen such systems, with more than half of that business coming from new customers who were first introduced to my company through that sales letter, but around that time, one of my retirement home customers started giving me so much steady SMATV work that I stopped pursuing the HDTV MATV business and concentrated exclusively on taking care of my existing customers. Now that this retirement home has switched most of its properties over to cable TV, I will be revising my 2001 sales letter and sending it out again soon.

I came to this vendors meeting expecting to see representatives from at least three or four of the companies who I know to still provide MATV service to highrise buildings, as well as the Johnnie-come-latelys. I was quite surprised to see that only one of MATV competitors sent a representative, and that there were no Johnnie come latelys. The only other vendors were DirecTV dealers who wanted to use the same pipeline for bulk, analog SMATV.

Given that this is a small world, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that I actually had business relations with each of these companies, as I service non-competitive antenna systems in the same buildings that they do. In fact, I had once begun negotiating with one of them on possibly installing broadcast HDTV systems in the same buildings where they install rather elaborate SMATV/L-band overlay DirecTV systems. For them, having a multimarket broadcast HDTV antenna system available to augment their satellite-based HDTV offerings would blow away Comcast in buildings in which they compete with Comcast, since Comcast will never import the out-of-market HTDV programming that I can bring in through an off-air headend.

I am probably going to advise this condo that at present, they can stuff about 40 channels of DirecTV analog bulk between VHF broadcast channels 13 and UHF broadcast channel 14 (their digital assignment is 15), that if they need another dozen channels of analog, I can clear the UHF band up to about cable channel 75 by filtering off 14/15 and heterodyne-converting it to a vacant, higher frequency, and if they really need another twenty channels, then on February 17, 2009, we can also shift the four remaining broadcast VHF channels (7, 9, 11, and 13) up to vacant UHF channels, but I just don't see this working out financially. I figure that 60% of the building is on Comcast now and maybe another 10 to 15% has balcony satellite dishes, and probably most of those DBS subscribers are DISH Network customers who want ethnic programming. (The immigrants in this community came in through their embassies, not through Ellis Island). Even if someone can deliver 50 to 60 channels of Basic in Bulk for $8 to $10 per unit, but if only one-fourth of the residents want that, then it really costs the building $30 per SMATV user to subsidize their television subscription price.

I have designed and installed other multichannel broadcast HDTV headends in this market. I see no problem in developing a headend that receives seventeen or eighteen local broadcast channels, all which are presently on UHF, and processes them for distribution. I will have no problem developing all nine Washington, DC signals, two of the Baltimore signals, and one each from four other nearby cities, to roughly the same signal power, and no trouble maintaining their adequacy to the ends of the RG-59 riser wires. I may encounter a little difficulty boosting three of the Baltimore signals to the desired power level, however, because one Washington transmitter is on channel 39, while the Baltimore transmitters are on channels 38, 40 and 41. While I will probably propose shifting the Washington channel 39 to another UHF channel, that will not make its on-channel signal power go away, so if I really had to boost 38, 40 and 41 to level power with the others, I'd probably have to use $600 channel converters on all three. Until I further test the wiring for losses, I really cannot say whether it would adequately sustain channels 38, 40 and 41 to the extremes of the distribution tree if they started out, say, 10 dB or so below the other signals. Fortunately, even if I did have to heterodyne convert them, this condo has nearly 500 units, so adding $2,000 to the cost of the job would only work out to about $4 per unit owner. It's nice building headends that serve a lot of units, because the per unit apportioned share is so small.

Like so many large buildings, a building this size would really benefit from owning its own home run wiring. DBS companies could then run vertical trunklines through the stacked communications closets, and the residents would be able to mix and match Cable TV, broadcast HDTV, and DBS satellite. Unfortunately, post wiring it with redundant home run cable would cost a bundle and even then, post-wiring usually results in the new home-runs going into a closet or cabinet near the hallway, and if the apartment has finished walls, distribution within each apartment would be expensive or ugly.

Anyway, it seems that even though I haven't bothered to ferret out any new broadcast HDTV customers over the last few years, no one else in my market has, either.
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post #98 of 251 Old 07-21-2007, 02:40 PM - Thread Starter
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When you say "loop wiring", are you talking about the kind where a tap is placed behind each wall plate? If so, I have to agree, 100%, that it is a PITA.

But, I wired our building with taps (fed by a "big pipe" semiflex trunk) out in the common-area hallways and ceilings. So, it's more like a distributed home-run system. Just that, all the home runs are about 25-50 feet long, and there are 8 of them at each tap.

I'd hate to have to manage a true "home run" head-end, with several hundred lines leaving it. And, with everybody wanting multiple outlets in each unit, it could add up to lots of cables pretty easily.

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post #99 of 251 Old 07-22-2007, 01:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Here's a copy of what I'm sending out to various entities, especially the elderly/handicapped/subsidized-housing units' managements:


(Text File of DTV/MATV info for e-mails)

Essentially, what is happening is, for the last eight years or so, all broadcast TV stations in the United States have been in the process of adding a second channel which broadcasts only in Digital TV mode, or preparing their facilities to flash cut their transmissions to all-Digital in 2009. Most of the major (full-power) Salt Lake City area stations have been operating a Digital TV channel since 1999 or 2000, with the first (KSL and KTVX) going on-line on October 28, 1999.

Currently, there are ten full-power DTV (Digital Television) stations in Salt Lake, offering 20+ channels of TV programming. Additional stations, mostly the LPTV (Low-Power TV) ones, are in the process of licensing their "Digital Companion Channels", and should begin construction in the near future. The remaining full-power stations, like 20, 24, and 32, may have to "flash-cut" to Digital at some future date, since they (their analog stations) were initially licensed too late to get a second-channel allocation for Digital TV.

All existing "-TV" stations are required by law to cease operation by midnight of Tuesday, February 17, 2009.

Beginning February 18, 2009, all over-the-air transmission of television in the U.S. and its territories will be via Digital means.....this is the ATSC (Advanced Television Standards Committee) format that you may have heard about. All stations will then identify as "-DT" (Digital Television) or "-LD" (Low-Power Digital Television). Anyone who relies on an over the air signal, and does not have a suitable ATSC receiver, will see only "snow" on their analog TV sets, VCRs, DVRs, etc.

Viewers who receive Cable TV, or Satellite TV (from DISH Network or DirecTV), may continue to receive the same programming as before, but this will depend on the level of service they purchase (i.e.: they might continue to receive a standard definition, 4:3 ratio picture and stereo sound, rather than the high definition widescreen picture and surround/multi-channel/multi-language audio). Those who purchase "local" stations via satellite will still receive local stations, although those who use an antenna for the "locals" may need a Digital ATSC receiver....unless their TV set is already equipped with one, or they have an "HD Satellite" receiver, which usually has the ATSC receiver built-in.

Since the end of March, 2007, all TV devices being manufactured with any tuner at-all, must include an ATSC Digital tuner. This only excludes "monitors", or "standalone" video recorders, that do not receive any signals at all.

There is a federal program, with details currently being finalized, to subsidize the purchase of converter boxes for those who need them. The "subsidized converter" program would provide one or two coupons per-household, to be worth $40.00 off the cost of each converter. These converters, which are currently being tested as prototype units, are expected to cost about $50-60 each, so the final cost to each household would be about $20 per unit.

Those converters are designed to be a "bootstrap" measure, to prevent anyone from having to go without television after the cutoff date. They will not provide a High-Definition picture, or full surround-sound, since they are only designed to keep the existing analog set working....just with the ability to receive the digital over-the-air (not Cable or satellite) signal, presenting it in normal analog-like definition.

These converters are expected to be available beginning in January, 2008. Viewers who wish to receive the subsidy coupons will need to apply for them by phone, mail or internet. The coupons, which must be used within ninety days of receipt, can then be used to help purchase converters from participating traditional retail outlets.

My concerns are directed toward those facilities that provide television to their residents via MATV (Master Antenna TV) systems, which receive an over-the-air signal via antenna, then distribute the signals to the individual living quarters. Most Digital TV stations will be broadcasting in the UHF frequency bands (470-806 MHz), and many, especially older, systems may not be capable of these higher frequencies. This would preclude tenants from receiving over-the-air Digital TV, unless they were located where an indoor antenna would work. Indoor antennas do work in many cases, but their usefulness might be limited by blockage from other buildings, by interference, or by their location within the building.

Also, the design of the MATV system is of concern. Many larger systems use processors on each existing channel, so that for instance, UHF channels (14-69) can be carried on lower-numbered channels, or so certain additional (non-broadcast) channels may be added. These processor-based systems might need additional equipment in order to pass the new Digital channels through to viewers.

I'm afraid that many facilities and institutions may just consider eliminating their MATV systems altogether, and purchasing Basic Cable TV service for their tenants. However, the Cable industry will convert their channel lineups, entirely, to Digital at some future date...in some cases, even before the 2-17-09 broadcast deadline. At that time, there are no guarantees that local TV will continue to be available on Cable systems without the necessity of leased cable boxes (or, Digital TV sets with QAM-capable Digital tuners, which might receive the local stations only), nor are there any guarantees that all of the broadcaster-provided sub-channels and ancillary services will be carried. Satellite TV would be another expensive option in the long run, and may not be required to carry all local channels, either. The subsidized converter boxes, by law, will not work on the commonly-used Digital Cable QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) system, since they were designed only to be a replacement for over-the-air tuners.

No matter what route is taken, there will probably be technical issues, and some redesign and rewiring will be needed in many facilities.

What I would like, is to develop some data on:

1. What facilities are currently supplying MATV to their tenants, as opposed to those with (exclusively) Cable or satellite service?

2. In facilities with MATV, how many tenants are receiving the local stations via the MATV system, and how many tenants have their own subscriptions to Cable or satellite service?

3. How many MATV systems would need upgrades of their wiring, amplifiers, and distribution equipment, in order to even pass the UHF channels? Also, do these systems even have proper UHF antennas that can receive the Digital channels?

4. What systems currently use individual-channel processing in their systems? These are commonly considered essential in systems that add non-broadcast programming, or place channels consecutively (adjacent-channel systems, with no gaps between stations). Those would be systems that might need major upgrades.

Please feel free to pass this info along to anyone who is interested. We really need the feedback.

Thanks,

Ken English, Sr. Engineer, KSL-TV.
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post #100 of 251 Old 07-29-2007, 06:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenglish View Post

When you say "loop wiring", are you talking about the kind where a tap is placed behind each wall plate?.

Yes.

Quote:


I'd hate to have to manage a true "home run" head-end, with several hundred lines leaving it. And, with everybody wanting multiple outlets in each unit, it could add up to lots of cables pretty easily.

The term "home run system" commonly means that each apartment has its own direct connection to the trunkline, not to the headend.

I have only seen one large building that is set up for home runs to a single closet. There is a 160 unit hotel in Baltimore in which I maintain the SMATV headend for the rooms, with screwy horizontal loop wiring, such that six or seven rooms on each floor are serviced by one coax with taps on it.

But then, there is a function room on each floor that gets its signals from Comcast, to have access to more programming, so they support a total of eight TVs in the building. Well, when they upgraded their system from 550 Mhz to 860 Mhz, some build-up decisions were made by people who were clueless as far as the future needs of their customers were concerned, so in one communications closet, on the top floor of this building, they installed 160 hardline taps, so if someone ever rents a room anywhere in the building long term and wants Comcast and if the management permits the additional wiring, Comcast will be able to snake a two or three hundred foot wire from that junction node to their room. But it hasn't happened yet. No one has connected any TVs to that monstrosity.
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post #101 of 251 Old 07-29-2007, 06:14 PM
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Didn't know where to put this post, but since this thread hasn't been moving lately, I figured I'd put it here.

The digital tuner in my Dynex, 13" round tube TV that I bought a couple of months ago for $99.99 just bit the dust. The analog tuner works fine, but the digital tuner says I am receiving no signal, even though my spectrum analyzer says otherwise.

Unfortunately for me, I immediately void the warranty on any 13" test TV I buy when I drill a couple of holes in it to add a convenient carry handle.

I went to Walmart, Best Buy and Circuit City looking for another test TV. What I really need is a TV that allows me to store analog cable and digital broadcast channels at the same time. Not all TVs do.

At Walmart, there were four digital, ATSC equipped TVs that had the consumer alert tags in front of them, saying that they did NOT have such a tuner in them. I tracked down an employee who had been assigned to the electronics section. I told him that there were some TVs in his TV department that had labels in front of them that said that they didn't have a digital tuner in them and he said "O.K." I told him I was telling him this because unless those labels were removed, they could never sell those TVs. He said "OK. I asked him if he knew what a digital TV tuner was. He said "O.K." I then said, "You don't have any idea what I just said, do you?" He nodded forward a little, but I couldn't even tell if he understood that I had just asked him if he understood something.

This reminded me of a time a friend of mine who didn't see the benefit in doing something once said, "I don't see the vantage point in it", which prompted another friend to say, "If you don't see the vantage point, then you don't even see the place you'd have to stand on to see what you're trying to see. That means you're really, really far away." This salesman surely didn't, "see the vantage point" in removing those warnings.

Anyway, I hoped to find a 13" TV that also had a signal strength or quality indicator in it, which this Dynex does not, so I went to Circuit City, but all they had for smallish TVs with digital tuners was a DVD combo model for $179, and then I went back to Best Buy, only to discover that this TV had been discontinued, they had no boxed unit for sale and couldn't sell me their demo, and the nearest Best Buy with any in stock was ten miles away. I embarked for that store, but before I got within six miles of it, I ran into traffic backup from that afternoon's scheduled game between the Orioles and the Yankees, so I turned around and went home empty handed.

I saw both a small and larger "Durabrand" TV, that were the same as one I had programmed for a woman a day earlier. It allowed me to store analog cable and broadcast digital signals in it but it took about three seconds to change digital channels and it wouldn't even let me direct-enter DTV subchannels. Here is what appears as selections on its tuner setup screen:

auto preset: CH(TV)
auto preset: CH(CATV)
auto preset: CH(TV-DTV)
auto preset: CH(CATV)

Notice that the second and fourth selections are identically worded. I was able to store analog CATV and digital broadcast TV using the second and third choices. I suspect that the fourth choice might have been for QAM, but I had no way to test it and insufficient motivation to start reading the instruction manual at 10:00 PM.

There was also a kluge-job Insignia 7" LCD screen hinged to the underside of a full sized tuner box that was being marketed as a "counter-top" TV, when it should have been called a "cabinet underside" TV. I suspect that a lot of people will not be able to attach this to the underside of their kitchen cabinets.

It was model NS-7VTCTV and sold for $199.99. While it had an ATSC tuner and could read five formats of disk, it did not mention having an NTSC tuner in it. I'll have to check on that and see. Has anyone seen any TVs with ATSC tuners that do not have NTSC tuners in them?

In MATV systems, TVs will have to be able to simultaneously store CATV analog and ATSC off-air in the same memory. I think we should start a sticky thread in which we list which TVs definitely can do so and which ones can't. We might also post a warning list for any devices that have just an ATSC tuner but not an NTSC one.
.
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post #102 of 251 Old 07-30-2007, 04:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Now you know why I tell the retail clerks, "I won't buy an HDTV set until I can see it work".

They all give me this strange look, and say "But, look at that huge picture".

I just wanna see the darn thing on an OTA signal. I wanna see if it has an NTSC tuner, an ATSC tuner, or a QAM tuner. I wanna see how it programs itself. I wanna see if the EPG looks good....if it even has one. I wanna see if it does a good job of digital closed captioning. I wanna see if it works on multi-channel audios. I wanna see if it's one of those bastard-format software pigs that can't understand widescreen SDTV.

"My old set gets a PICTURE. Why is this one a thousand dollars?"

One of our receptionists asked me about the new TVs her husband bought last month. They are remodelling their condo, so he bought four new sets at WalMart. One was analog, the other three were small HD sets....all on sale/closeout. They have Comcast cable.

Depending on whether I went to W's website, or downloaded the instruction manual, I could not tell for sure what was what. Finally, I gave her the crash-course in NTSC vs ATSC vs QAM, and sent her home to play with the remote.
............................

I have seen plenty of STBs that do ATSC-only, but I haven't seen any TV sets yet that have no NTSC tuner. Of course, it's hit-and-miss in the stores (see above) .

I worked on tech specs for "Store TV", a group that planned to put commercials on TV screens in grocery stores, a few years ago. We, somehow, managed to get test samples of about ten different model TV sets to evaluate. I wonder what kind of response I'd get, nowadays?

Why did the "big boys" eliminate the ATSC Test Center lab? Did they think the job was all finished?

And, is there any technical group representing the MATV folks anymore? I saw something a while back, but they seemed to, mostly, just be there to sell DirecTV. I remember B-T having stickers on some of their older stuff....National Association of Master TV System Contractors, or something.

I've asked about borrowing some Digital MATV products to test, but most distributors say the factories won't do that anymore.

Ken English, Sr. Engineer, KSL-TV.
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post #103 of 251 Old 07-30-2007, 07:10 AM
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If you really want to keep the locals on their analog channels (as analog), why not just buy an inexpensive 8vsb STB and a single channel modulator for each channel. Not the boxes that do HD, but the ones that have composite and S-Video outputs. While we do get our locals from D*, I added the locals off-air in their native digital format. I am thinking of getting a couple of STBs to add some of the additional programming available, such as WeatherPlus & PBS HD to the analog channel lineup.

CIAO!

Ed N.
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post #104 of 251 Old 07-30-2007, 11:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Blonder-Tongue makes a unit that does that. It's called the AQD. It sells for about $725, and some dealers throw in an MICM-45B Mini-modulator with each one.
Most consumer STBs are too flakey to use, since they drop out and change channels with power bumps.

It's OK to do that in some instances, especially as a "transitional" measure, but I hope that most people don't do it that way permanently. It sure makes us wonder why we are spending so much on HDTV and all that stuff. I think property managers need to look at what the end users will need. Will they all have new DTV sets? Will they all get "subsidized" converters? Will they all keep their old sets for a while? Doing both Digital and an NTSC simulcast can get expensive, both monetarily as well as in bandwidth.

BTW, Ed, what's your feeling on the number of people who can handle these systems? Do we really have enough qualified MATV designers and techs to switch all the schools, condos, apartments, prisons, convalesent homes, etc in 18 months? One guy I talked to said there might be about 5 people in Utah that could do it.

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post #105 of 251 Old 07-31-2007, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by kenglish View Post

Blonder-Tongue makes a unit that does that. It's called the AQD. It sells for about $725, and some dealers throw in an MICM-45B Mini-modulator with each one.
Most consumer STBs are too flakey to use, since they drop out and change channels with power bumps.

It's OK to do that in some instances, especially as a "transitional" measure, but I hope that most people don't do it that way permanently. It sure makes us wonder why we are spending so much on HDTV and all that stuff. I think property managers need to look at what the end users will need. Will they all have new DTV sets? Will they all get "subsidized" converters? Will they all keep their old sets for a while? Doing both Digital and an NTSC simulcast can get expensive, both monetarily as well as in bandwidth.

BTW, Ed, what's your feeling on the number of people who can handle these systems? Do we really have enough qualified MATV designers and techs to switch all the schools, condos, apartments, prisons, convalescent homes, etc in 18 months? One guy I talked to said there might be about 5 people in Utah that could do it.

The Holland HDTV-ST2, http://www.cencom94.com/gpage5.html, is supposed to be pretty solid, which includes coming back up where last set prior to losing power. Some broadcasters use it for monitoring their DTV signals out in the field, and it's ~200$.

I have been in some convalescent homes where they do have a D*headend, but get the locals off-air and merely combine the antenna with the headend. No processing of the locals whatsoever. (Just want to pull my hair out when I see that!) I would be surprised if places like that, or where the property owns the TV sets, goes ATSC at all.

In the '90s, TCI was quite busy with post-wiring around here, and, as a result, many of the apartment buildings downtown are with them. Many of the MDUs that were SMATV were bought by the local franchise (TCI or Insight, then AT&T Broadband, then Comcast). Every motel I have been in around the state has been with the local cable company. Granted, that has been awhile, and some of them may very well have since gone SMATV or SATV.

Of the remaining properties that do still have their own systems, many of them are SATV and get their locals from their satellite service provider. In MDUs, simulcast of NTSC and ATSC is going to have to happen and be in existence for quite some time to come. In our South Jordan property, out of 160 homes (and let's say 2 TV sets per home), only about 6% of the homes are digital ready. Actually, I should say fewer than that. Of all the homes I've visited since our upgrade, only 2 have had ATSC tuners. Sure, as time goes by, that number will increase, but the analogs are not going to go away anytime soon. People are still going to want to watch TV in bed, and we have no interest in getting into the STB rental scenario. We recently added 8 of the locals in 8VSB to our Woods Cross property at a cost of ~$5.5k.

Schools usually get cable free, and the 2 prisons have their own satellite systems. County jails may be a different story, but I'd be willing to bet that many of them use 1 of the satellite service providers if they are not with their local cable company.

In summary, I think the scope is not really as large as one might at first think. While there may be only 5 or so companies that are qualified, they could each have, say 4 or 5 crews doing the work. Twenty or more crews, I think, could get it done by 2/2009.

CIAO!

Ed N.
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post #106 of 251 Old 07-31-2007, 09:22 AM - Thread Starter
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When we surveyed the two hotels, Marriott and Hilton in SLC, for election night coverage, we found that they both got locals via D* and re-mod'ed them in to the system...I think on VHF Mid-band channels.

Both had bad looking signals, although the Hilton was useable. Marriott, which is scheduled for a re-wire during the next election (November 2008), had to bring in help from Denver, with a bunch of amps. The other stations in town used the hotel analog feeds on their big screen TVs. At the Hilton, we used an OTA antenna of our own feeding an HDTV set. At the Marriott, we took an SD return-feed via Ku Band satellite, and modulated it ("stretch-o-logue"), because the sat truck guys got frustrated with waiting for the antenna to be plugged in.

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post #107 of 251 Old 07-31-2007, 09:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by egnlsn View Post

The Holland HDTV-ST2, http://www.cencom94.com/gpage5.html, is supposed to be pretty solid, which includes coming back up where last set prior to losing power. Some broadcasters use it for monitoring their DTV signals out in the field, and it's ~200$.

I just Googled HDTV-ST2 to compare price and availability and found, 1) that other vendors were selling iot for $300 to $350, but, 2) Holland Electronics itself had it
on special for just $150
. It is not like Holland Electronics to offer catalog items for less than their master distributors are. I have to wonder if they are already in the process of discontinuing it for whatever reason.
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post #108 of 251 Old 07-31-2007, 12:07 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm wondering how to handle "Big-Switch Night" (midnight on 2-17-09), when several channels will have to go from analog to digital, on-channel.

I've seen some European-made gear that can be re-programmed via computer or even by cell-phone. Wonder if anyone makes a direct Internet Protocol interface? That would be slick....just send to every site during the night.

Another possibility might be...I've noticed some euro companies are making DTV processors that include an analog modulator right on the card. I wonder if it would be possible to get something like that, but have it capable of "sitting silent", until it detects an 8VSB signal, then switching off the old analog proc and passing the digital signal. Of course, you'd have to be putting the simulcast analog signal on some other channel than the active DTV. The nice thing with ATSC, there's a Pilot signal at 310 KHz above the lower edge of the channel, which would be easy to detect.

I've been writing some specs on my "dream" system....I'd like something that converted everything to a UHF-range (maybe about 1 GHz) I.F., then had an RF routing matrix within it. (The original FCC Planning specs used a dual-conveersion receiver with a 1.2 GHz IF, to eliminate IF-beat protections, so it should be feasible).

Then, you could have different input converters, modulators, satellite transcoders, etc, all freely routable to any output converter channels. I think that RF channels will be pretty-much "fixed" in a given market, so fixed-frequency filtering on inputs and outputs might be OK. If the whole thing could be controlled via internet or phone-modem, or pre-programmed via computer (with an internal clock, like setting up a VCR), it would be really slick....think of future "service upgrades" that could take place at night, while you are home, in bed!

Now, all I'm trying to figure out is, how something could be built to sell for a few thousand dollars, not the hundred thousand that a full "Cable TV Headend" sort of system would be .

Here's one of the companies I'm thinking about:
http://www.fracarro.com/NR/rdonlyres...0/SerieKGB.pdf

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At smallish SMATV systems, technicians are going to move some jumper cables between midnight and early morning.

I haven't done any headend work for franchised cable companies for about six or seven years, but based on some of the error messages that their channels display when they are temporarily inoperative, I'd say that they have a lot of routing and matrixing equipment in place that they didn't have when I used to occasionally do work for them, and that nailing the last nail in the NTSC broadcast coffin will be a piece of cake for them.

About three years ago, I visited the headend of Muslim Television of America and they actually had Ku feedhorns with two LNBs of the same polarity such that, if one failed, a computer would sense the signal loss and mechanically flip a deflector in the waveguide tube to direct in the signal to the back-up LNB, so for operations with large budgets, there are devices to assure signal continuity with which those of us working on more austere systems are unfamiliar.
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post #110 of 251 Old 08-01-2007, 06:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AntAltMike View Post

I just Googled HDTV-ST2 to compare price and availability and found, 1) that other vendors were selling iot for $300 to $350, but, 2) Holland Electronics itself had it
on special for just $150
. It is not like Holland Electronics to offer catalog items for less than their master distributors are. I have to wonder if they are already in the process of discontinuing it for whatever reason.

Those specials are for their distributors. They do not typically sell to the general public.

CIAO!

Ed N.
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post #111 of 251 Old 08-01-2007, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by kenglish View Post

When we surveyed the two hotels, Marriott and Hilton in SLC, for election night coverage, we found that they both got locals via D* and re-mod'ed them in to the system...I think on VHF Mid-band channels.

Both had bad looking signals, although the Hilton was useable. Marriott, which is scheduled for a re-wire during the next election (November 2008), had to bring in help from Denver, with a bunch of amps. The other stations in town used the hotel analog feeds on their big screen TVs. At the Hilton, we used an OTA antenna of our own feeding an HDTV set. At the Marriott, we took an SD return-feed via Ku Band satellite, and modulated it ("stretch-o-logue"), because the sat truck guys got frustrated with waiting for the antenna to be plugged in.

You gotta love it when systems aren't designed right. When they aren't balanced right, that is a different story -- at least that can be dealt with fairly easily.

CIAO!

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post #112 of 251 Old 08-01-2007, 06:59 AM
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But the price is way out of line for a current production item. If I buy "direct" from Holland, which I only do for special order items or when my more local master distributor is out of stock (no one in the Mid-Atlantic carries much Holland stock) I usually pay maybe 5 to 10% more than when I buy from my local master distributor, because I don't qualify for the large purchase discount. One master distributor on the west coast, with whom I once had close relations, used to occasionally let me make a large purchase through him at his cost, and the difference in price on minimods was only about 20%, or about $25 at the time, so no class of buyer is going to see specials of late model channel processing items that are half or less of the MSRP unless that product is being dropped or was just incredibly overpriced to begin with.
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post #113 of 251 Old 08-01-2007, 07:27 AM
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You gotta love it when systems aren't designed right. When they aren't balanced right, that is a different story -- at least that can be dealt with fairly easily.

Usually. There is a company in my market installing stacked L-band trunklines in highrise buildings where, last I knew, their installer didn't have a signal level meter and if he did, he wouldn't know how to use it. They put a big sucker Japanese wideband amp at the top and turn its gain all the way up, and then string together two or three -12dB, four-port taps on each floor until they run out of signal and then install another big amp. The structural difference in signal levels between the first -12dB tap port and the last one was over 30dB. I turned the power amp down by half a dozen dB, installed a two-way splitter on its output, and ran a second coax bypass to the point where they had installed the second amp which I removed and used that strong line as the source for the lower half of the riser, and while that didn't complete my system overhaul, at least it let the system work.

But the building that gave me the most fits was the Smith-Kogod building of the Hebrew Home of Washington, DC. This building has maybe 300 to 400 wallplates and was a nightmare to service. Every time I thought I had it figured out, I would make a new discovery that vitiated my theories. Then they did a major remodeling and ripped open the ceilings and walls and got to find out what a joke its distribution plan was.

The two "trunk lines" leaving the headend immediately broke into eight. Seven of them became loop wires such that, they horizontally serviced six or eight rooms, dropped down a floor, serviced six or eight more, dropped down a floor, and did that for five floors. But that much I already knew and could manage. But what threw curves into this mess was that when they built the building, not only did they run the conduit horizontally from box to box, as they were supposed to have, but they also installed empty vertical conduits to each box vertically below, so if there ever was a break in any loop, a technician would simply stuff a splitter in a box above, push a wire down the 10' conduit, and make that the new source wire for the rest of the loop instead of finding and repairing the break, making it impossible for the next technician to have any idea what was going on.

But then, there was the eighth coax that went to a wing of double-occupancy rooms where I could never explain the signal differentials. I knew that in each back-to-back room pair, a coax went to the front wallplate, then to the rear plate, then through the wall to the adjacent rear plate, then to the front plate, and then down. That much was obvious and made sense but didn't explain the signal strength differentials I observed even when I had repaired everything that was repairable.

What I discovered once the ceilings were opened was that there was a front half distribution box and a rear half box. The trunkline went into the front half distribution box where there was a four-way splitter, rather than a two-way one, so three ports serviced the rooms in that half while the fourth one went on to the rear box, which, by itself, only cheated the rear distribution box out of about 4dB, but then the rear distribution box contained a four port splitter with one port servicing two plates per floor, one servicing four plates per floor, one port terminated, and the last port connected to a four-port splitter, with each of its very weak ports supporting risers of four plates per floor. The structural signal level difference between the stronger front rooms and the weaker rear plates was around 15dB, and in a system that distributed UHF channel 26 (542-548Mhz), they just couldn't handle that extra loss.

Now, as for the Days Inn where I can send signal into just any one of its four trunklines and get signal back on the other three...
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post #114 of 251 Old 08-01-2007, 08:00 AM
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But the price is way out of line for a current production item. If I buy "direct" from Holland, which I only do for special order items or when my more local master distributor is out of stock (no one in the Mid-Atlantic carries much Holland stock) I usually pay maybe 5 to 10% more than when I buy from my local master distributor, because I don't qualify for the large purchase discount. One master distributor on the west coast, with whom I once had close relations, used to occasionally let me make a large purchase through him at his cost, and the difference in price on minimods was only about 20%, or about $25 at the time, so no class of buyer is going to see specials of late model channel processing items that are half or less of the MSRP unless that product is being dropped or was just incredibly overpriced to begin with.

Depending on whether it is distributor or dealer pricing, that $300 may be overpriced or may be on par.

I have seen many MSRP listings in a few different industries that are double the distributor price.

CIAO!

Ed N.
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post #115 of 251 Old 08-01-2007, 08:05 AM
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Usually.

Now, as for the Days Inn where I can send signal into just any one of its four trunklines and get signal back on the other three...

The first one makes you shake your head and sort of laugh, while the second one causes sympathy pain.

CIAO!

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post #116 of 251 Old 08-07-2007, 03:53 PM - Thread Starter
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I've gotten in contact with a national architecture magazine, and they want to know more about this "2-17-09" thing.

What haven't we covered here, that we need people to know?

Ken English, Sr. Engineer, KSL-TV.
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post #117 of 251 Old 08-08-2007, 07:46 PM
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I've gotten in contact with a national architecture magazine, and they want to know more about this "2-17-09" thing.

What haven't we covered here, that we need people to know?

Seems to me that pretty much everything has been discussed one way or another.

CIAO!

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post #118 of 251 Old 08-19-2007, 01:40 PM
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I made some calls Friday to get price information on digital heterodyne processors and for components to remodulate 8VSB as QAM.

The salesman at one of the largest MATV products wholesalers didn't know 8VSB from QAM. He also didn't seem to know what a channel processor was. He was new, and the fact that someone would hire someone for that job with so little product knowledge leads me to believe that the MATV/SMATV headend business has gone down the tubes and they can't pay the salary necessary to retain qualified sales personnel.

He wrote down my needs and said he'd find out what they could get that could do what I wanted done. While he did call me back, the call went into voicemail and so I won't know until Monday what they have available and at what prices.

I then called Holland Electronics, and the salesperson there at least knew what 8VSB and QAM were, but when I started talking about technical distribution problems, like the fact that if I put an 8VSB converted signal on a so-called "cable TV channel", most consumer TVs won't find it, he seemed unfamiliar with that problem. He referred me to two pages in his company's current catalog, pages 63 and 65, to get the specs on the products they were offering that would likely meet my needs, but I am presently tethered to an ungodly slow and unreliable low speed internet connection and was unable to retrieve either page, so I'll download them elsewhere tomorrow.

Then I called R.L. Drake. As always, I got to speak to someone who knew his products inside and out, as well as their applications.

Drake has mini-mod size, IF downconverters and upconverters for three hundred and something each. To support those, I'd have to buy a 12-module rack frame, a power supply and a harness. I think that all together, I'd wind up paying a little over $800 per channel to process broadcast 8VSB channels that way.

As far as converting to QAM was concerned, they had one input and two input devices. The one input device put a single channel on 64 QAM, whereas the two input model squeezed two channels into 256 QAM. The approximate prices he quoted me pretty much went in one ear and out the other, since they were too big for any projects I am contemplating, but I think that a 2-to-1 transcoder would have cost me about $3,400, meaning that I would have to price it at about $5,000 to allow for the fact that I would have to inventory a couple of these for service as well as endure the nuisance of not having any expertise at definitively determining whether any reported channel reception problems were caused by their malfunction rather than by another cause (this will be the bane of servicing any resident-reported digital MATV reception problems from now to eternity, as we don't get to actually "see" interference as we now do on analog pictures).

I have to wonder what kind of leakage complaints might arise from distributing digital QAM on superband and hyperband channels from a leaky MATV system. I have heard of a couple of hotels being busted for messing up midband with analog, but in superband and hyperband, I think that the so-called "aeronautical offset" to minimize interference with aeronautical communications extends from channel 23 to about 54. But with digital signals, the signal utilizes nearly the entire bandwidth of each channel, so it could be that a lot of leaky systems that don't generate complaints when the leaks are in the TV broadcast bands might start generating leakage complaints if and when they start utilizing the superband and hyperband.
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post #119 of 251 Old 08-25-2007, 07:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Has anyone had any experiences with those companies that do MATV for Hospitals? I was at a local hospital last week, waiting for someone who was having surgery (thank goodness it wasn't MY turn again!) and noticed they have some kind of contracted system. Of course, it was all analog, it had a mix of 4:3 and 16:9 sets, and some locals looked terrible (my boss complained two years ago, when he had to spend a week there).

Do they have any plans? Or, is it another of those "we'll wait until it happens" scenarios?

This stuff is getting really frustrating.

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post #120 of 251 Old 08-25-2007, 11:55 AM
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More likely that the hospital (who owns the equipment) will wait until they decide to budget for the new equipment and installation thereof. Yes, probably close to the finish line.

Do you know of anyone who might have a need for a 450/470MHz diplexer?

CIAO!

Ed N.
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