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.

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Taking a Look at 4K Technology

One hot topic that was discussed all around the IBC was 4K. Let’s take a look at what this new technology means. 

4K technology, or, to give it its official name, Ultra HD or UHD-1, is being mentioned as the next High Definition.  And experts say that 2013 is the breakout year for 4K2K TVs, with a market forecast to reach 7 million sets in 2016. But will the broadcast industry really invest into a 4K workflow – and when? Though hear about a number of 4K TVs that are all direct shippable, there are still a few issues that need to be resolved – apart from the price:

  • Consumers will need set-top boxes that deliver the relatively rare 4K content which is currently available (most is upscaled from HD to 4K).
  • There are not many Live TV cameras available that are able to produce 4K – except Sony’s F55 UHD.  A few, including Ikegami, have in fact skipped 4K and intend to start with 8K in a couple of years’ time.
  • Some countries have no way of delivering 4K, because they have already sold the available bandwidth to the cellular industry or re-allocated the frequencies to digital broadcasting.

If we look at it from a cabling perspective, 4K means that the bandwidth is growing:

Bandwidth

  • HD –   1.5Gb/s (720p-1080i)
  • 2K –   3 Gb/s (1080p)
  • QFHD –   6 Gb/s (3840×2160)
  • 4K – 12Gb/s (4086×2160) – also known as UHD-1
  • 8K – 24 Gb/s (7680×4320) – also known as UHD-2

screen

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