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.


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.

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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. 


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.

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A Lifetime Warranty

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.


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Technical Terms

Be-certainWhile I was recently in Amsterdam, the home of IBC, the European version of NAB, someone handed me one of our European competitor’s catalogs. It showed the distance their cables can go at HD and 3G (2K). Funny thing though, they didn’t mention anywhere about the SMPTE formula (-20 dB at half the clock) which is the formula by which we at Belden determine the recommended distance of our cables. In fact, we can generate these numbers before we even make the cable. These are “safe distances” and are about half way to the digital cliff. I say “about” because, as chips improve, the effective distance keeps getting longer and longer. It is a common complaint we get, that you can go twice (even close to three times) the distances we show. Yes, those “recommended” distances are intended to keep you safe. Slap on connectors with the same bandwidth and return loss and you’re good to go.

We constantly hear stories about other manufacturers saying they go “much farther than the Belden cable”. Are those numbers based on the SMPTE formula? If not, then they better be at least twice as far as our numbers. Then there are those manufacturers who simply add 2 meters (meters in Europe) to each of the numbers in our chart that just proves they didn’t know where those numbers came from.

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See Belden at IBC 2013 – and be amazed by our scope


Preparations are well underway for our booth at IBC 2013.  I have always enjoyed being at the show, focusing on Belden’s cable and connectivity products (“the most trusted brand for Broadcast cables”).

This year, however, we have so much more to offer. Since Belden’s acquisition of Miranda Technologies, we are now also able to provide hardware and software solutions for television broadcast, cable, satellite and IPTV.

Our booth will reflect our expanded capability to deliver world-class solutions for immediate and uninterrupted transmission, flawless HD, 3G and 4K audio and video streams. We will also be introducing some new products.

To highlight just two of them, our new Duobond® Plus HD Digital Video Cables with bonded foil over the dielectric will make the termination of Belden’s 1-Piece HD BNC very easy and much faster than traditional methods with 3-Piece BNCs. It is the absolute reliable combination to deliver the needed performance!

Moreover we will be launching our extremely rugged and flexible Belden CatSnake® Tactical Heavy Duty Category 6A shielded data cables, which are designed for use in high traffic areas in a broadcast studio or for use out of doors, in broadcast truck applications, and for portable, professional audio/video use.

And if that is not enough, visitors to our booth have the opportunity to meet Steve Lampen, Belden’s Manager for Multimedia Technology and Product Line – Entertainment Products. Steve is a prolific blogger, public speaker and writer, and was named “Educator of the Year” by the Society of Broadcast Engineers in 2011.

So if you are looking for maximum reliability and performance in your broadcasts, be sure to visit our booth and see for yourself what Belden has to offer.  My team and I will be delighted to see you at the show.

The Mystical Art of MPO Testing

ANSI/TIA 568-C standards require Method B (also known as 1 Jumper) for fiber testing, which uses a single jumper for setting a reference.


But when it comes to testing 12-fiber multifiber push-on (MPO) trunk cables commonly used for 10 and 40 gigabit permanent links in today’s data center, testing can become rather bewildering–especially with legacy testing equipment that does not have an MPO interface. Enter the 3 Jumper method.

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There Are So Many Cable Choices!

I swear, I can empathize that Belden doesn’t make it easy for you to choose a cable for a specific application. A week doesn’t go by that someone isn’t complaining to me that we have too many choices. I tell most people that we make “6,000 different kinds of wire and cable”. What’s the actual number? I don’t really know, and I don’t know if anyone knows. As the introduction of new technologies speeds up, we bring out more and more new products, so that “total” is a moving target.


It’s no wonder that often, when I suggest a cable to a customer, they get angry. You see, this cable may have been in our catalog for 20 years and they didn’t know about it. They’ve been struggling with some old cable from the Dark Ages, wishing there was a better way, and it has been sitting there waiting for them. I would be angry too. Read more »

Steve Lampen Talks About New Cable Products at Recent NAB

At NAB our Corporate Communications Director, Eric Ehlers, shot a little video of me discussing some of our latest cable innovations. We posted it on LinkedIn but I thought I’d like to share it with you all in my blog as well. Let me know if you have any questions or ideas for new products you’d like to see by dropping a note in the comment box below.

Steve Lampen and Belden’s Popular Cables at NAB 2013

New Audio Cables on Display at AES

AES - Audio Engineering Society

The first AES (Audio Engineering Society) convention I ever attended was 1968 in Los Angeles. At the AES that year were a dozen or so exhibitors. One was a guy named Ray Dolby who was showing his revolutionary “Type A” noise reduction, one channel of which took maybe 7 rack units?! Across from him was Paul Klipsch showing his “Heresy” bookshelf speaker (since he only believed in horn loaded speaker designs). Of course, I didn’t know that I was seeing history in the making, that these people were the icons of audio. How little we know when we are young and foolish. (Now I am old and foolish.) I snuck in to the AES show in 1968. I joined AES in 1969. Read more »

We’ve Got Mail!

We recently received a letter from Jim Schultz in Warren, CT and thought we’d share:

Morning Steve,

I have been meaning to write for almost a year now to extol the virtues of this excellent microphone cable.

30+ years ago, when I was doing broadcast and remote work aside from my “regular” job of air personality, production director and assistant CE for an AM/FM combo here in Western CT, I decided to bite the bullet, spend some money, and make up some microphone cables that would last for a while. I bought a 500 foot roll of 8412, a bunch of Switchcraft XLRs, and went to work making up 10 fifty footers. Read more »

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