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Ennes Addresses Digital Transitions

Here's a Look at the SBE Schedule of Events During the 2009 NAB Show

Baumgartner is co-chair of the SBE Ennes Workshop. Poray is executive director of the SBE.

When planning was completed in the fall for the Ennes Workshop, the opening program at the 2009 NAB Broadcast Engineering Conference, it was full speed ahead to complete the full-power DTV transition in February.

For TV broadcasters, the recent change in transition dates to June is resulting in a variety of adjustments and some concerns. For radio broadcasters, the HD Radio power increase is a key issue.

Both of these topics and more will be covered during the Ennes Workshop at the 2009 NAB Show.

On the Saturday before the NAB convention floor opens, April 18, the Las Vegas Convention Center hosts the all-day 2009 Ennes Workshop, “Continuing the Digital Transition,” presented by the Society of Broadcast Engineers.

Every year, some 500 broadcast engineers gather for the Ennes program, designed to bring the information most needed in a compact program. As is our tradition, the workshop begins with a tutorial. Donald Vanderweit of Agilent Technologies presents a review of digital transmission technology. Don’s early-bird tutorial will cover the basics: methods of digital modulation, measurements and impairments.

Mike Starling, vice president and chief technology officer for NPR and executive director of NPR Labs, with Jeff Detweiler of iBiquity Digital Corp., will present essential information on the additional technical analyses that have been conducted by NPR Labs and iBiquity. The two will also discuss their perspectives on the industry’s work towards a consensus recommendation for FCC action on a managed HD Radio power increase authorization and the latest developments and important new features of the HD Radio system.

Are there occasions when tubes are the preferred RF amplification device? Geoff Mendenhall of Harris says while it would seem that the role of tubes in new transmitter designs would continue to diminish, in the case of FM+HD, a novel use of power tubes might best answer the needs of efficiency and cost of operation.

TV transition

Only nine months ago, Bill Meintel of Meintel, Sgrignoli & Wallace discussed a number of issues that could have come together to create the “perfect storm” leading to a TV transition catastrophe. Bill will look back and see how each of these issues played out on the first “transition day” and what has transpired since.

He will offer his perspective on the current state of the transition. Will it come to a successful conclusion or will there still be more work to be done? Finally, what comes next? For example, despite the recent fanfare over the end of full-power analog television transmission, many low-power television stations and translators will continue to transmit analog signals for the foreseeable future.

Jay Adrick of Harris and Wayne Bretl of Zenith will present an overview of the ATSC Mobile/Handheld system and describe what it will mean for those stations that choose to broadcast the service. They will cover a description of the service, the types of consumer devices that the service will reach, the business models that broadcasters might develop and the technical considerations for deployment of the service.

An in-depth look will be made at the M/H Physical Layer, the equipment necessary to broadcast ATSC M/H and the possible changes that the system will require for the transmission plant in order to optimize mobile service. Also, the current status of the ATSC Candidate Standard will be reviewed along with a view of what lies ahead as the technology rolls towards a commercial launch.

Rich Schwartz of Axcera considers that the current DTV coverage areas were allocated based on a single-transmitter architecture, which is predicted to provide minimum specified field strength to 50 percent of the locations within each coverage area, 90 percent of the time. Terrain features can produce shadowed areas, or coverage gaps, where signal strength is lower than required for reliable reception. Both the analog sunset and the desire to employ ATSC M/H mobile services have highlighted the extent of coverage gaps for many broadcasters.

Rich’s paper will describe how an on-channel DTV network functions, define the associated terminology, provide guidance in determining when this type of deployment is applicable and give an overview of the systems engineering necessary to design such networks.

Dennis Wallace of Meintel, Sgrignoli & Wallace addresses the findings of field and laboratory tests regarding DTV reception and in particular planning factors for indoor DTV reception. The “Value of Power” for DTV broadcasters will be discussed as well as important considerations for the post-transition DTV transmission facility.

Kerry Cozad from Dielectric covers the choices that a data provider — the broadcaster — and data user — the viewer — have when it comes to optimizing the performance of the antenna systems. Kerry will discuss what is available and trends for the near future in antenna designs and he will review antennas for full-power DTV transmitter installations and antenna considerations for mobile/handheld, single-frequency networks and translators.

More SBE events

The NAB Broadcast Engineering Conference continues through Thursday with dozens of sessions of interest to radio and television engineers. SBE is pleased to be NAB’s organizing partner for the BEC for the 15th consecutive year. The NAB BEC planning committee is chaired by SBE member Joseph Snelson, CPBE, 8-VSB of Meredith Broadcast Group.

To attend the NAB BEC (which includes the Ennes Workshop), you must have a full 2009 NAB Show registration.

During the week of the show, the SBE will hold a number of meetings and events open to broadcast engineers and others interested in society activities.

The regular spring meeting of the national SBE Board of Directors will take place on Sunday, April 19 from 8:30 a.m. to noon in the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel. Most of the meeting will be open to the public, subject to seating capacity.

On Monday, April 20 from 2 to 4 p.m., the SBE will host a moderated discussion for those interested in the latest developments of the Emergency Alert System, the CAP Protocol and related emergency communications issues. The event will take place in the Las Vegas Hilton and is open to anyone.

The spring SBE Membership Meeting will take place on Tuesday, April 21 from 5 to 6 p.m. in the Las Vegas Convention Center, South Hall, second floor meeting rooms. The first 100 SBE members present will receive a souvenir door prize and one person in attendance will win a camcorder. During the Membership Meeting, the SBE will recognize volunteer chapter certification chairmen who have served in that capacity for 1, 5, 10, 15, 20 years. Non-members are welcome to attend the SBE Membership Meeting. Full-conference credentials are not required for admittance.

The SBE will exhibit at the 2009 NAB Show as well, with hours on Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.; Monday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The SBE Booth number is L-27 and will be located on the second floor concourse of the LVCC South Hall, just around the corner from the NAB Broadcast Engineering Conference session rooms.