What could be more important to a group of television broadcast stations than signal integrity?
Every decision regarding video distribution is mission-critical. Meanwhile, those decisions aren’t immune to budget scrutiny by the accounting department.
Such is the life for Bob Blauvelt, senior broadcast engineer for the City Clear Broadcast Group. The broadcast veteran is responsible for a campus in West Palm Beach, plus programs local stations and controls some hub channels.
“We originate the SYFY Network in two time zones (East Coast and West Coast), we originate the Market Sports Network 24/7, and up to six ad-hoc sports networks as needed for weekend college sports for the American Sports Network,” Blauvelt said. “We also control the switching of WPEC CBS TV in West Palm Beach and originate all the programing for WTVX [The CW] in South Florida.”
Earlier this year, Blauvelt was faced with a quandary. He needed high definition capable modulators for HD signals for its in-house campus’s distribution system, and needed to find a solution, and one that wasn’t going to cost $100,000 or more.
“It started out as an old NTSC system with analog modulators, which we gradually upgraded and replaced with high-def stuff, but this was 2016 and it was time to move along,” he said. “I needed something at a reasonably attractive price so I could do piecemeal. We weren’t ready to put in a lot of money for equipment.”
To solve the problem, Blauvelt brought in four QMOD SDI 2 HDTV Modulators/IPTV Encoders from Contemporary Research, and the dual inputs are utilized for its in-house cable system to create feeds from various master control hub outposts that can be seen around the building — all in HD.
“They have worked really great, and undoubtedly there will be more as time moves on as we identify the need and get money to buy them,” he said.
The in-house cable system has close to 60 channels and the new modulators keep everything operating in perfect quality.
“We probably have 200-plus in our campus here and every one of them has a TV that’s either on their desk or on the wall, so they can watch whatever it is they choose to watch,” Blauvelt said.
“This particular system had some channels that we needed to get on digital, so I figured I would buy some more of these boxes, so I could distribute what people want, not necessarily what they need.”
Arriving at a Solution
Contemporary Research was recommended to Blauvelt by his favorite box sales channel — Heartland Video Systems — so he knew it was the right move to go in.
“They have never steered me wrong, so I called and asked them what they were using for this kind of a function and they told me, and that’s usually how it goes,” he says. “There’s not a whole lot of research that goes into it. You just go with those who you trust who have helped in the past. That’s how this particular project came about.”
According to Tony DeMarco, regional sales manager for Heartland Video Systems, Inc., CR QMOD technology is opening the door to new HDTV applications, as the QMOD SDI 2 modulators enable cost-effective distribution of digital signage and HD subscriber sources using existing broadband coax cabling.
The modulators employ pro-grade HD encoding by NTT that minimizes artifacts for motion video and signage “tickers,” and merges audio with video from stereo, digital optical and coax inputs. The component can be fed from HD15 switches via GPI inputs to present EAS AV broadcasts and amplifies for distribution over an on-site broadband cable system with adjustable output level to 29 dBmV.
DeMarco sent the products to Blauvelt for his in-house cable system without going on site, because both parties knew exactly what would work.
“This was a situation where Bob knew what he needed and we work with him on a lot of things, so there really wasn’t much more to it than that,” DeMarco said. “We provide first-line support on everything we sell, so if he has issues, we would certainly talk with him, but to my knowledge everything is working as it should.”
Blauvelt did need to add a booster to bring the modulators up to his current system, but that’s understandable because of the high level of mixing done at the station.
“I’m very happy with the way they produce. The learning curve wasn’t too tough,” he said. “I like to hook it up and walk away from it and not have to think about it until two years down the road. I know I don’t need to reboot these every other day like some other stuff, and reliability is really high on my list. That’s why I am a fan.”