Snell Router Connects Community Broadcaster

BROOKLYN PARK, MINN.—Northwest Community Television is an independent, non-profit community broadcaster, delivering programming in cooperation with Comcast. We’re located northwest of Minneapolis and serve a 27 square-mile area, providing three public access channels and nine city channels. Our main service is “Channel 12,” which provides news, civic information, high school sports, and more, 24-hours a day.

In connection with our franchise agreement with Comcast, we needed to update our infrastructure which was constructed around an analog routing switcher that was showing its age. This revamping project— which also included replacing our automation system—got into full swing during the last quarter of 2013, with everything coming together earlier this year.

We looked at products from several manufacturers, but based on the experience with a Snell Pyxis router purchased last year for our remote truck, we decided to install a Snell Vega router in our facility. Since we’re a non-profit community broadcaster, funds were limited; however the Snell router fit nicely within our budget.

Installing the Vega router was easy and allowed us to transition rather seamlessly from analog to digital. The Snell Vega’s small 4RU form factor allowed us to install it alongside the existing analog router without having to add more racks. The close proximity of the two switchers also allowed us to re-use some of the existing cabling as we replaced analog sources and destinations with digital equivalents.

We ordered the Vega supplied with 96 ports divided into 48 sources and 48 destinations, and as it can accommodate up to 192 ports, we have plenty of room for expansion. Our Vega is controlled by Snell’s Morpheus automation system, as well as several XY hard panels and soft panels customized with Snell’s Centra Workbench software.

Since the installation was completed our signal quality has improved dramatically as we’re now providing a digital path all the way from the camera to the cable box.

Our experience so far has shown that the Vega is extremely reliable, and our installation includes a good degree of built-in redundancy to make sure that we stay on air. Our master control area is not staffed at night or on weekends, and with the Vega as the key part of the infrastructure I really have few worries about the system crashing when no one is there.

The Snell team that worked with us on the Vega installation was tenacious and dedicated. Each of their technicians worked long and hard to get us up and running quickly and also provided lots of extra support.

The installation of the Vega allowed us to meet our goals—we now have a digital hardware platform that is very reliable and we’re operating with a more cost-effective and modern platform.

Our next project will involve the installation of Snell’s Hyperion automated monitoring and quality control system. We’re excited about bringing this on line, as it will give us another level of assurance that our systems are running perfectly and delivering top-quality signals.

James Anderson is currently technical services manager for Northwest Community Television and has more than 30 years of broadcast experience. He may be contacted

For additional information, contact Snell at 818-556-2616 or visit