Despite the overall sluggish equipment sales in the television broadcast industry, there are signs that the light at the end of the tunnel is still burning brightly.
At NAB you’ll see a bevy of new and improved high-efficiency tubes from e2v Technologies (C2518), Eimac (C2118), L3 Electron Devices (C1422), and Thales Components (C5406). While the rush had been to establish DTV compatibility, the trend now is to be certain these tubes will also handle NTSC equally well.
Most important, all promises for deliveries are now being met, pleasing transmitter manufacturers as well as station owners.
Also peaking the interest of buyers at NAB will be two new transmitters from Axcera (C9606) and Harris (C1906).
While there’s not much information on the new, from-the-ground-up Harris PowerCD high-efficiency transmitter, it’s certain to draw booth visitors. The PowerCD is a multi-stage depressed collector inductive output tube design.
The PowerCD includes Harris’ APEX exciter, with adaptive linear correction and nonlinear correction. The eCDi, the company’s remote monitoring and operation system, comes standard with this new model. Also standard is their Cool Fuel system, which promises increased power and efficiency.
Harris will also spotlight their Atlas analog transmitters, designed for broadcasters needing to replace their aging NTSC transmitters now, but wishing to upgrade to ATSC or DVB in the future.
In the Axcera booth, attendees will see the unveiling of the Innovator HX high-power VHF transmitter. According to Axcera’s industry research, broadcasters are “very interested” in VHF transmitters that utilize the latest technology available.
Axcera’s research shows that many broadcasters believe that analog will not go away in 2006. With a smaller-footprint transmitter, broadcasters will find room at the transmitter site to accommodate the rigs they’ll need. Of course, many VHF stations are limping along on older sockets, while that NTSC signal is still paying the bills. Still others on VHF believe that at some future date they may return to their original channel. What’s more, the new VHF transmitter can be upgraded to DTV by changing the modulator.
With these thoughts in mind, Axcera built an all-new solid-state VHF transmitter.
According to Axcera, one of the factors that allowed them to downsize their VHF transmitter was that they’re using newly designed heat syncs that are extremely efficient in dissipating heat.
They also will be offering switching or linear power supplies. Since they are using dual-power supplies in each amplifier cabinet, they’re ensuring that no single point of failure could cause an off-air scenario. And they’re using the latest FPGA control system design.
For simplicity’s sake and to minimize spare parts stock, the HX transmitter features high-gain broadband amplifiers that are identical for visual, aural, and digital operation. Since the PAs are high gain, a complete high-power transmitter can be driven directly by their frequency agile exciter/driver, further minimizing the spare parts stock.
Meanwhile, the newest, most efficient IOTs are now available in transmitters from Ai (C3836), Axcera, Harris, Itelco (C2032), Larcan (C3846), Rohde & Schwarz (C2532), Superior Broadcast Products (C1930), and Thales Broadcast & Multimedia (C4709).
At NAB, Ai will show their Quantum IOT line, which can transition to DTV with a simple card swap in the exciter. The transmitter uses plug-in style IOTs.
Business As (Almost) Usual
As always, Harris will have a wide lineup of transmitters, including the Atlas analog series. They’ll also unveil their plug-and-play DTV 5.1 Surround Sound System, along with their new NeuStar DTV-5.1.
Itelco, which formed DMT USA with Digital Multimedia Technologies in late 2003, will be looking to re-establish itself as a major player. Itelco brand products can be viewed at DMT’s booth at NAB (C2032).
Larcan (C3846) will be showing their TV transmitter lineup, including an externally diplexed solid-state (LDMOS) 5- to 20-kW UHF transmitter. Larcan, along with Itelco, is also on the forefront of translator designs that are compatible with DTV.
Rohde & Schwarz will show off air-cooled solid-state transmitters and liquid-cooled transmitters using LDMOS devices and advanced GUI-based diagnostics. Their liquid-cooled transmitters are capable of 18-kW DTV power (40-kW analog) with 32 solid-state amplifiers mounted in easy access drawers.
Thales Broadcast & Multimedia’s highlights will include innovations in both high- and low-power transmitters, MPEG/DTV processing, satellite and broadcast technologies, and MPEG test solutions.
Of course, their spotlight will fall on the super-efficient Paragon MSDC-IOT UHF digital transmitter. It’s available in oil- or liquid-cooled designs for both NTSC and DTV service.
Armstrong (N706), KTech (SU8831), and Superior Broadcast Products will also fill their booths with solid-state and lower-power tube transmitter designs with new and interesting innovations.
The Bottom Line
The big news in RF Alley is that SPX Corporation has announced that its Dielectric (C7806) business has acquired the assets of Kline Towers, a division of Kline Iron & Steel Co.
Commenting on the acquisition, John Capasso, president of Dielectric, said, “Kline Towers’ reputation for quality in the broadcast market will not only expand Dielectric’s market presence. It also will provide customers with a more complete systems package.” Dielectric and Kline Towers have worked together on several large projects over the years.
While some equipment manufacturers have scaled down their operations, tube and transmitter manufacturers are still bullish on the market. The advantage at the NAB show will be with the buyers. But, they’ll need to keep in mind that nagging questions about NTSC/DTV compatibility, remote monitoring/control services, and protecting their NTSC cash flow are concerns the RF equipment manufacturers are equipped to answer in 2004.
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