Phabrix Provides Multiple Capabilities In a Small Package
May 2, 2012
LONDON—Galaxy Light & Power LLC was launched in 2001 and provides specialized cutting-edge equipment, resources and expert services to broadcast, film and music industries worldwide.
We purchased our first Phabrix handheld test instrument in 2009 after intensive evaluation of comparable available equipment.
BE WARY OF PORTABLE CLOCKS
In our experience, we've found one of the major issues associated with battery-powered test signal generators is their lack of clock accuracy and poor stability in the HD-SDI outputs. This is particularly noticeable when operating with 23.98 and 59.94 frame rate signals. If the clock frequencies are fast, signals can be incorrectly recognized as 24 or 60 fps. I was extremely pleased to find that the Phabrix SxA's output was well within SMPTE/EBU specifications and did not drift as the battery discharged.
The Phabrix unit provides a comprehensive range of high-definition video test signals for use with 720p, 1080i and 1080p standards. Also available are 1.5G, 3G A/B and 3G dual stream signals, as well as 270 Mbps standard-definition video signals. The generator can also be locked to an external synchronizing reference, which is invaluable when introducing a test signal into a system locked to station sync.
AUDIO SIGNALS TOO
Audio test signals produced by the device are embedded within the video stream or avaliable as an AES output. High quality waveform and vector displays with all of the expected parameter adjustments, together with the ability to display the picture itself, are included in the feature set.
We recently added the new Dolby-E generation and analysis option to the unit for checking audio routing through standards converters or third-party signal switching and distribution. The device can now generate Dolby-E multiplex in several modes (5.1, 5.1+2, 7.1), with tones on each channel ramped in ascending levels, which when viewed on the Dolby E analyzer function, provides a clear visual indication of all channels available, and in the right order. Prior to this technology becoming available, I had to resort to using an HD videotape recorder playing a Dolby test tape and a rack-mounted audio monitor—not a very portable test package to say the least.
I designed a set of specific test signals including crosshatch and geometric patterns for lining up our remaining grade 1 CRT monitors, and for checking the positioning, geometry and aspect ratio of feeds to video walls at live events. The Phabrix unit allows user-generated test signals to be added, so we only have to carry just a single test generator.
Recently I purchased a Phabrix SxE, which provides additional physical layer automated measurements, saving valuable time when we're out in the field and need to verify the physical integrity of a signal.
Free software updates from Phabrix make it very easy to apply new options with software license—it takes only a few seconds to enter the new code.
We've found the Sx instruments to be versatile, reliable and robust. Nothing else comes close for the toolset and the price point, and the form factor makes the units a dream to carry around.
Andy Grant is the chief executive at London's Galaxy Light & Power. He may be contacted at
For additional information, contact Phabrix at 44-01635-276-302 or visit phabrix.com.
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