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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Today, we mark another monumental day in our history. The Grass Valley acquisition is complete. We have extended our investment in the broadcast market by combining Grass Valley and Miranda into a single entity: Grass Valley, A Belden Brand.
For over 50 years, Grass Valley has built its reputation as an innovative leader in the broadcast industry. The new, future-ready Grass Valley’s product portfolio has unprecedented breadth and depth of technology. With production switchers, servers, production automation and editing, cameras and systems, routing and infrastructure, playout, multi-viewers and monitoring and graphics/branding, Grass Valley shows clear leadership in broadcast technology.
We’re excited to welcome such an innovative company with a mission to expand creativity and over 50 years of on-air innovation. When you combine that with Miranda’s world class television facility solutions, the benefits and value to customers is clear.
If you’re headed to Las Vegas for NAB on April 7-10, be sure to check out both of Belden and Grass Valley’s booths – SL206 and N2513. We look forward to seeing you there!
They did some studies a while back about the cost (in dollars and in labor) for various parts of a data network install.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My wife and I collect stuff, and every so often, we start filling a big garbage bag with things for Goodwill. I think they do good work in the community. I even shop there sometimes. (You’d be surprised what you can pick up in speakers, amps, turntables and CD players or other gear from “yesterday”). In one of our Goodwill bags we threw in a Mickey Mouse stuffed toy. We soon found that they only accept brand new unused toys, so Mickey was returned. Mickey knocked around the back of my wife’s car for the better part of a year. During Christmas, I attached some plastic Poinsettia to the front of this PT Cruiser with a few wire ties. Looks festive. After Christmas was over, we took off the Poinsettia. As I drove around, I thought about what we could put in the front of the car that wasn’t seasonal. And then it hit me – how about Mickey?
A customer was asking me today about our warranty. Well, on the back of our Bill of Sale (which covers everything) it says 10 years. But there are a lot of other products with a 25 year warranty, especially in our data line. We even have some products, like Belden 1872A “MediaTwist”, with a lifetime warranty. “You mean FOREVER ???” said an incredulous European Belden salesperson. Well, sure. That warranty says we made the cable the way we agree to make it. And if it turns out that we made it wrong and it fails, we’ll replace it for free. It’s definitely something that motivates us to make it right the first time. Of course, sometimes we make it even better than that, or a customer just assumes that our cables are the best (thank you very much) but then does things that the cable was never designed for. And this leads to my story.
“There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.”
This quote from Sir Joshua Reynolds was Thomas Edison’s favorite quote. And it is true of everyone, including you and me. We go through life expecting things to stay the same, expecting things to be predictable. That way we don’t have to think, we don’t have to have “Plan B”. And this was never presented to me in such a blatant way as a list of the top ten shows on tour that appeared in a recent magazine. All of them were major names: country artists, pop stars, rock groups, Latin artists. These shows were designed by the top names in the roadshow industry. And each company included an extensive list of what they used; microphones, mixers, amplifiers, and speakers, pretty much everything.