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The Outdoor Channel

Since its creation in 1991, The Outdoor Channel has grown to providing family-oriented adventure programming to nearly 27 million viewers.

When the broadcaster launched a separate HD channel from its new technical operations center located north of San Diego, it needed a cost-efficient way to monitor its East Coast and West Coast HD feeds from the Panamsat G10R satellite downlink on its in-house screens.

The goal was to cherry-pick the ASI stream of the broadcaster's HD signal from the satellite receiver and convert it into an 8-VSB format that the technical operation center's consumer HDTV monitors could display. The HD feed also needed to be available to executive offices and in the facility's lobby.

The contractor, Technical Innovations Broadcast Solutions Group, recommended equipment from DVEO, a division of Computer Modules.

Part one: Filtering HD

The solution came in two parts. First, The Outdoor Channel selected DVEO's QuadMux demultiplexer to pull the HD programming out of the download signal. The system is a 1RU unit with DVB-ASI in and out.

Its primary function is to filter out any desired HD transport stream from a larger multiprogram transport stream and output a transport stream with a bit rate that fits the requirement of the ATSC display system. The unit can be managed remotely over IP through a Web-oriented console that provides control over start, stop and packet ID selection.

The broadcaster needed to select the output from any of four feeds it uploads to viewers via satellite. In order to feed the desired signal to its HD display system, it was important that the system could groom the HD content from 43Mb/s down to 18Mb/s, which is a requirement for the broadcaster's ATSC-compatible display monitors.

Part two: Modulating the HD stream

For the second part of the solution, The Outdoor Channel modulated the digital HD stream into RF by sending the transport stream through DVEO's T-Streamer. The system is a real-time, ATSC-frequency agile 8-VSB modulator that can take in DVB-ASI or SMPTE 310M input from the QuadMux or other similar devices through a BNC connector. It supports all ATSC HD formats, including 720p, 1080i and 1080p, and offers an easy-to-use Windows XP-based GUI with on-screen keyboard.

The unit's RF output is selectable from channels 2 to 69. It supports multiplexed transport streams up to 19.3Mb/s, so it is able to provide live feeds of 18Mb/s to all the HD televisions with LCD and plasma screens.

HD programming reaches consumers

Today, in The Outdoor Channel's technical operations center, the T-Streamer is being fed an ATSC-compatible stream from the QuadMux and converted to an 8-VSB HD feed that can be seen on channel 2. This RF signal carrying the desired HD feed is combined with the output of several other analog video modulators, amplified to improve its signal strength and sent via RF trunks throughout the building to both SD analog and HD digital screens for confidence and content monitoring.

The combination of these two systems has provided a cost-efficient method of sending HD programming to any consumer-level digital display in the facility.

Tom Robinson is the technical operations manager for The Outdoor Channel.