RF Takes Center Stage at Ennes Workshop


SBE's Ennes Educational Foundation Trust, along with PBS and NAB, will once again present a full-day intensive tutorial--actually two programs--on Saturday April 22 in Room S226, in the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The key word is tutorial. Each year, the industry's leading broadcast engineers put together a program addressing an area of broadcasting technology which is seen as particularly timely and of value to fellow engineers. Once again, a series of presenters who design and implement the technology being addressed will gather to share information and ideas.


This year, the topic is "Everything RF" and it starts bright and early with Dana Myer's two-hour RF brush-up. The full day's set of presentations concludes with Doug Lung's take on RF matters. Everyone on the program has spent at least a night or two "at the transmitter," and most also answer to their amateur radio call signs.

For those less RF inclined and more interested in display, video acquisition technology and the user experience, PBS is presenting a program entitled "Connecting with the Consumer."

The sessions kick off at 8 a.m. with "RF 101: A Brush Up for Broadcast Engineers" conducted by Dana Myers, principal engineer in the television transmission systems division of Harris Corp. Meyers will review the basics, from couplers and hybrids to Smith charts and pulsed reflection analysis.

Radio is not ignored, as Gary Liebisch, applications and product line engineer for radio transmission products at Harris Corp. will host a session on the intricacies of HD radio.

Aiming slightly up in the RF spectrum, Scott D. Nelson, director of product management and business development for Alcatel, will discuss the world of digital microwave. Nelson will explore differences between FM and digital BAS and will examine problems unique to digital and how to successfully deal with them.

Scott Fybush, free-lance author, contributor to TV Technology's sister publication Radio World, and publisher of the yearly "Tower Site Calendar" will provide a brief look at historical, technically unusual and special antenna systems that he has documented in the course of visits to thousands of transmitter sites in the United States, Canada and other countries.

In the afternoon, Greg Best, principal of Greg Best Consulting, Inc. and by John D. Freberg, president of Freberg Communications Corp. will give a tutorial on making DTV measurements. Since DTV depends on error-free transmission, precise measurement techniques and accurate measurements are essential for determining the overall health of the transmission system. This tutorial explores information provided by constellation diagrams and eye patterns and the clues they provide in determining the extent of inter-symbol interference. Other measurements associated with digital transmission impairments are error vector magnitude, modulation error ratio and signal-to-noise ratio. These will all be examined. RF noise bandwidth and amplitude measurements provide indications of spectral compliance. Making these measurements accurately and repeatedly requires knowledge of the characteristics of the measured system, the instruments used and careful attention to measurement procedures and conditions. The session will illustrate some important details of 8-VSB measurements that members of the IEEE G2.2 have encountered during the development of DTV mask measurement draft standards.


Other scheduled afternoon events include a look at the MediaFLO transmission system by Tom Mikkelsen, senior director of production for Qualcomm MediaFLO.

The MediaFLO mobile video system relies on satellite transmission and what was previously UHF-TV channel 55. Deployed nationwide, MediaFLO distributes a complex RF waveform to deliver both live and pre-positioned video and audio content to cell phones. MediaFLO is one of several emerging broadcast methodologies targeted at multichannel mobile television and audio distribution.

James E. O'Neal, technology editor for TV Technology, and retired broadcast engineer, will provide a brief look at some historical and specialized transmitters from around the world that he has encountered in his 40 years in broadcasting.

The best transmitter in the world is not going to perform properly if it's installed in a makeshift manner. Scott Barella, director of systems at Burst Video will provide insight into the planning and design that needs to go into a good transmitter facility. The physical transmitter building, electrical infrastructure, tower structure, transmission lines, antenna parameters, transmitter systems, passive RF components, grounding, monitoring, test and measurement, as well as safety, are all a part of the equation. The aim of the session is to provide the fundamentals for those who want to construct a sound DTV transmission plant or might want to shore up an existing facility.


Another element in the RF chain is the receiving antenna. Kerry W. Cozad, senior vice president for market development at Dielectric Communications will discuss off-air digital television reception, emphasizing the design and performance of consumer receiving antennas for DTV. Several common design types, as well as newly introduced models, will be evaluated through the use of design software, test range measurements and field experience. The session is aimed at providing an in-depth understanding of what happens when the signal eventually reaches the viewer's home and what can be done to improve reception for viewers who may be new to off-air television.

Doug Lung, Telemundo Group vice president of engineering and TV Technology columnist, will wrap up the day's RF sessions. Doug handles RF and transmission issues and projects for both Telemundo and NBC and will examine some accepted RF engineering practices and offer information as to why they don't match reality, including tips on avoiding common problems. Some of the common fallacies include the belief that increasing power increases multipath; that FCC DTV coverage numbers accurately reflect station coverage; that adjacent channel stations create a major interference problem; and that distributed transmission is an easy solution to coverage problems. Doug will offer input in all of these areas and more.


Running concurrently with the RF sessions is a separate series of presentations addressing delivery of content to consumers, consumer display devices, media players, antennas for digital television and more.

These sessions start at 10:00 a.m. and feature industry panel discussions moderated by Pete Putnam, president of ROAM Consulting, Inc., as well as papers by Greg Doyle, AZCAR senior systems engineer, and Ken Morse, Scientific-Atlanta vice president of client architecture. In addition, an HDMI tutorial presentation is featured, along with information on Blu-Ray and HD DVD developments.

Full NAB Broadcast Conference registration is required to attend the Ennes Workshop. The full conference package includes the Broadcast Engineering Conference, exhibit floor and a ticket to one of the three industry lunches. Members of SBE, whose stations or employers are not NAB members are eligible for the special NAB Partner registration rate of $695, $200 less than the non-member rate. Registration is available at the NAB2006 Web site, www.nabshow.com

More than 500 broadcast engineers attended the Ennes Workshop at NAB2005.