No Hands for 4K

Last week I was in Hollywood at the SMPTE yearly shindig. I gave my ultimate paper (so far) on 4K Video over Coax. With 500 people in the room, it occurred to me as I began that I had the perfect group to find out some things. So I began by asking my audience a question. “If I could make a single coax that would run 4K video as far as you want, how many people would put that in?” I waited for a couple of seconds. Nothing happened. No hands went up. None! An article in the TV Technology website by Deborah McAdams the next day said there were hands that were ‘tentatively’ going up, but I couldn’t see them.

Tentative-Hand-Raising

I pointed out to my audience that I could save Belden a lot of money right here, and not bring out any 4K single-link coax, and save us a bundle in connectors as well. I suppose I broke a cardinal rule about public speaking, “Never ask the audience a question to which you do not already know the answer.” Well, clearly there was something I didn’t know. It was left up to me to interpret my audience’s answer. What did it mean? Read more »

Cinema

Movie, Motion Picture, Flickers…which is it?

Coming-SoonI really have a problem with the word MOVIE. It sounds so juvenile. Pictures that move! Sounds like something from 1900s, back when the frame rate was really low, like 16 frames a second. No wonder they called them “flickers”.

I still occasionally hear someone say, “I’m going to the flicks.” Don’t you? I guess some things just stay with us. So, instead, we call it “motion pictures” which doesn’t sound a whole lot better. Last February at the HPA (Hollywood Post Alliance) the final speaker was an industry guru, John Watkinson (with his long hair and long beard, he LOOKS like a guru.) He got up and the first thing he said was a real epiphany. “I have never seen a movie or a motion picture.” The audience couldn’t figure out just what he was saying. “All I’ve ever seen is a series of still images, run rapidly in front of my eyes.” And because of ‘persistence of vision’ which we humans share with only a few other creatures on earth, it looks like a moving picture.

So where is the REAL moving picture? Read more »

Understanding Moisture Damage

Moisture-DamageWe all know that water in an electrical system is bad news. And we do our best to keep it out by specifying waterproof cable and connectors, and following industry best practices for installation and maintenance.

So, what if water does get into a coaxial radio frequency (RF) network? Unfortunately, its presence is not always obvious and its impact can be elusive and difficult to manage. Here are some tips to help you trouble-shoot a persistent moisture problem:

Know your risks

Water doesn’t often enter your cable or connector in the ways you may expect. Read more »

Lose Weight Now

I get 200 emails a day, sometimes more. If I am on an airplane, or otherwise beyond reach, I will have 400 or more the next day. I’ve had a few days in the last couple of years where I got 1,000 emails in one day. Part of my problem is that I am not good at prioritizing, and I often start the day with those emails. If I am really in a hurry, I might scan down the list and quickly read emails from real customers, co-workers and, of course, my boss.

Email

I have only myself to blame for these huge numbers. I pass out around 1,000 business cards per month and encourage my audience to send me an email if they have questions or comments. I often tell them “Just don’t put ‘LOSE WEIGHT NOW’ in the subject line.” If you’ve ever seen me, I am not a small guy. I always get a laugh. Read more »

Why Distributors?

Belden, as you know, is a manufacturer. We make stuff. For the first 100 years, it was wire and cable. Then we started to buy other companies, first other wire and cable manufacturers. Then we bought connector manufacturers. Then we bought Ethernet switch manufacturers. Now we’re into broadcast and audio-video equipment. But, you will note, these are all manufacturers. They all make stuff. Some of it is fancy stuff. Some not so fancy. And then we have to sell it to you, our customers.

Warehouse

 

Read more »

A Look at New Coaxial Cable Design for “True” 4K

Multi-cable formats (dual and quad links) can be used today because the bandwidth on each cable is the same as HD or 3G bandwidths currently used.  This is possible because recent video cards contain chips that will separate the video data misc. sign 9_Original_22638into two or four signals. The signals then run over separate coax cables at a maximum speed of 3GHz (3GHz for 3G and 1.5 GHz for HD) and at the receiver, they will be transformed back to 6GHz or 12 GHz. Belden believes that its current line of cables will work to 6 GHz, but 12 GHz will require re-design and new cables.

New Cable Design

There are a number of things that can be done to improve performance of the 4K versions listed above. First is to increase Velocity of Propagation (Vp) by means of nitrogen gas injection. The limits of this technique are closely guarded secrets for most manufacturers. So can we get much higher? The problem is, as more nitrogen gas is added, dimensional stability suffers. This leads to impedance variations or “return loss”, which negatively affects performance. The solution is to reduce the size of the bubbles in the foam. Belden already offers better Vp in its well-known RF cable line with a Velocity of Propagation of 86% – 1694A has currently 82%. Unfortunately these RF cables are 50 ohm and not 75 ohm as needed in the broadcast world. So, there is still some work to be done. Thankfully Belden has both the technology and the experience, so we will be able to develop the correct cable for this new 12 GHz requirement. Improvements in shield design, such as multi-layer shielding, are also possible, although these improvements are not tied to the raw performance, such as attenuation. But shielding is certainly tied to noise immunity, which speaks to signal integrity in longer runs or noisy environments.

What About Connectors?

We see a trend towards DIN 1.0/2.3 connectors instead of BNC connectors at those high frequencies needed for “true” 4K. The outer diameter of a DIN 1.0/2.3 connector is much smaller compared to traditional BNC types. The smaller DIN 1.0/2.3 connectors (secure locking with push/pull) are less stressed than traditional BNCs, and they do not require a tight bending radius. This contributes to a better RF launch profile, and a better return loss. The smaller dimension of a DIN connector is an advantage: because of their specific design, DIN connectors for such high frequencies (up to 12 GHz) are easier to manufacture than traditional BNC connectors. Which design will ultimately take the lead? The future will tell.

Conclusion

If the revised distance formula, -40 dB at ½ the clock, is adopted, and if performance improvements are made, such as higher Velocity of Propagation, single-link coaxial cable for 4K formats will be able to provide the right performance for future video transmission.

If you need more details about our solutions let me know and Email me at werner.eich@belden.com

4K: How to Meet the Single Link Challenge?

One of the greatest challenges presented by the arrival of 4K video is in the ability of this signal to be carried by a single copper coaxial cable, commonly called “single link”.

Proposed Change in Distance Calculations

It is most important for a broadcaster to know how far he can transmit a signal over a single coax cable. In recent years Belden has proven that the recommended SMPTE distance calculation for HD signals can be outperformed. The original distance formula, -20 dB at ½ clock, was a reasonable “safe” value for 1990 and the technology then available. However, we believe that more than 20 years of improvements in chip design and active equipment has enabled us to surpass this calculation. Therefore, we think that a new formula, -40 dB at ½ clock, is an appropriate “safe” distance. And in the ‘real world’, Belden can go considerably further than that.

                    Chart

Let’s have a look at the green squares in the chart: Belden’s 1694A for example can run a minimum 113 meter with HD. With 2K signals 1694A runs a minimum of 78 meters, or 35 meters less when compared to HD. In general, all these lengths can be improved on by using our HD coaxial cables and BNC connectors. See for example the 140 meter at HD with 1694A.

If you remember that the bandwidth of 4K is 8 times HD and 4 times 2K, everyone would expect the minimum distance of a 4K signal to be less than HD or 2K. But look at the red squares. The chart clearly shows how Belden’s 1694A runs 106 meter with QuadFull-HD on a single-link! In other words: 28 meters further than 2K.

Read more »

Free Cable

They did some studies a while back about the cost (in dollars and in labor) for various parts of a data network install.

wired-with-belden

First they found that the cost of the wire and cable amounted to only 3% of the cost of an install. On the other hand, the wire and cable accounted for 70% of the labor. Now this begs the question, can you buy cable that takes less time to install? You know the answer! You’ve put in that OTHER cable. The stuff that was super-cheap and looked OK, or maybe it’s all you had available on the shop floor. And when the install time started to stretch out to days or weeks more than you had allocated, you know what you did wrong. Funny thing is your boss patted you on the back for all that money you saved him when you bought the cable. Bet you didn’t mention how much it cost him to install it. And what if the cable doesn’t work? Then you’re pulling it out and reinstalling it. Now how much money did you save?

Of course, if someone came to you and said, this cable is twice as fast to install, but costs twice as much, you will probably shake the salesman’s hand and send him on his way. But, wait a minute, twice as expensive means 6% of the install. And half the labor is 35% savings. This would be a huge WIN for everyone. If they actually looked at the big picture cost of the install, they would erect a gold statue to you in the parking lot.

And this is one of the secrets about Belden. We’re not cheap. Oh, we do sometimes try and compete in the marketplace. But many designers, installers or system integrators know that cheap cable only gets you a headache. I’m not saying ignore the price of the cable. I’m saying put it in perspective. Look at the big picture. And if you’re in new territory, doing something you’ve never done before, then ask for a sample. We give away samples all the time. We have a Sample Room for Belden in Richmond, Indiana which stocks thousands of different part numbers. Now it doesn’t have every part number. (We make over 6000 different kinds of wire and cable.) But we do typically have the most popular codes.

If you call Belden Customer Service, they will send you three feet of anything we have in the Sample Room. If you want a longer piece, to do some testing for instance, then you would need to move up the food chain. If it’s audio or video cable (or networking or broadband), you might end up with me. My email address is below. We have Product Line Managers for everything we make. We have Engineers who design them, and Specialists in the field (and in the factory) that you could talk to. All we need is a good reason.

Read more »

Wire is Worst

Broadcast-Van_1

Maybe you read one of my recent blogs about how wire and cable are never mentioned in magazine articles or reviews of touring groups. In permanent installs, 70% of the install time, and the labor cost, revolves around wire, cable and connectors. I’ll bet it’s close to that for those non-permanent installs such as touring companies or mobile trucks (OB Vans, as my European friends like to call them).

At least in data networks, wire, cable and connectors are also the #1 source of network failure. This is one reason why Belden has resisted those constant requests to allow you (the installer or end user) to put on your own RJ-45 data connectors. Unfortunately, it’s a little too late to say that to our audio, video and broadcast friends. You’ve been putting on BNC and XLR connectors since they were invented. So how old are you? Do you remember the Canon P connector?

It looked like a giant XLR. Those pins would easily handle 20 amps. If you were wiring up an RCA 44 or 77, you could use a 100-watt soldering iron and do a great job. Times have changed. In the data cable world, we have moved from Category 5e (100 MHz) to Category 6 (250 MHz) and now Category 6a (500 MHz). Have you put an RJ-45 on any of these? Did it work?

I have a friend, Kurt Denke of Blue Jeans Cable, whom recently bought a Fluke DTX-1800. This tests data cables up to 10GbaseT (10 gigabits) or Category 6a. Just for fun, he went shopping and picked up patch cables from your standard vendors (office supply stores, electronic parts stores, etc.) He then tested them on his Fluke meter. Not a single one passed! Worse than that, some of the Category 6 cables didn’t even pass 5e! So just because it says “Category 6” (or anything else) on the bag, well, I would take that with a grain of salt.

Kurt also wired up his home with Belden 1700A, our top-of-the-line Category 5e. His wife wanted to watch a program that was only available in Europe so they were streaming it. The freeze-frames and pixilation made it hard to watch. But now he had his trusty tester! He tested the Belden cable. It was well beyond the Cat 5e spec. (There are some places that do their own testing, such as Los Angeles County, where they call this cable Category 6.) So then he tested the two patch cords at each end. Fail! Just like the others he had bought. He replaced them with patch cords that his company is now making (and testing every one with his Fluke tester) and bingo, perfect streaming, no frozen frames, no pixilation. So, if you’ve said to yourself “These cables are too short to have any real effect. As long as the right wire goes into the right hole, they’ll work just fine,” well, think again.

Read more »

All You Need to Know About 4K Ultra HD

 Although in my last blog I mentioned the different spec work currently underway at SMPTE, it’s time once more to take another look at 4K. 

4K

Current situation: HD is the new standard

High definition (HD) has reached European broadcast TV. It is now the new standard definition and considered to be mainstream. Having said that, at Belden we take into account that our professional broadcast customers may be managing two different HD formats.

The first of these is interlaced scanning with 720 to 1080 horizontal lines (e.g. 1080i). Each scan displays alternate lines in the image raster, and two complete scans are therefore required to display the entire image – also known as HD/1.5Gbps.

The other one is progressive scanning with 1080 horizontal lines (1080p). Each scan displays every line in the image raster sequentially from top to bottom – and is also known as HD/3Gbps. This format offers less jitter, with more stable and flicker-free video quality and sharpness. Because of the new 4K format, Belden uses the term 2K/3Gbps instead of HD/3Gbps.

Both HD formats are specified 2006 in the standards of SMPTE (the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) under ST 292 for interlaced scanning and ST 424 for progressive scanning. These specifications are defined for 75 ohm coaxial cables and 75 ohm BNC connectors. By the way, ST 297 covers all SDI rates from 143Mbps to 3Gbps with optical fiber cabling infrastructure.

Most important for the broadcaster is to know how far he can transmit the signal over a single coax cable. Belden’s 1694A, for example, can have a minimum run of 113 meters with HD and 78 meters with 2K signals. These lengths can be improved when using our HD BNC connectors – for example 140 meter at HD or even further.  A Gennum chip produced by Semtech can extend this to 230 meters.

Read more »

On Twitter