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SCTE 1998 Cable-Tec Expo

Tue, 06/30/1998 - 8:00pm
Michael Lafferty, Associate Editor
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Denver may be the "cable TV capital," but until now, it had not hosted a major industry trade show. All that changed last month when thousands of technical folks arrived in the Mile High City for the annual SCTE Cable-Tec Expo.

Among its business in Denver, the Society bestowed a number of honors on industry luminaries, and also elected a new chairman at the Expo. Cox Communications engineer Hugh McCarley was elected chairman of the SCTE during a meeting of the board of directors. McCarley has been active in the SCTE for years and was the 1995 recipient of the prestigious Polaris Award, given annually for excellence in fiber optic innovation.

Also elected as officers on the board were: Jim Kuhns of Comcast Cablevision, eastern vice chairman; Larry Stiffelman of CommScope, western vice chairman; Bob Schaeffer of Technology Planners, secretary; John Vartanian of Viewer's Choice, treasurer; and Andy Scott of NCTA, who was named executive committee member.

Outgoing SCTE President William Riker was also honored, concurrent with a new award that will be given in his name annually. Digitrans hosted the fete in its booth.

Going forward, the award will be presented each year at the Expo to recognize an SCTE member for his "undiminished contributions to the Society," said Clayton Dore, VP of sales at Digitrans. The company will also donate $1,000 to the SCTE Scholar-ship Committee.

Member of the year

Keith Hayes received the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers' top honor, the Member of the Year award, for his contributions to the Society's certification program and for his dedication and service to the SCTE.

Hayes, director of operations for Bell South Entertainment, and other professionals were recognized by the SCTE at an awards ceremony, while outgoing President Bill Riker was recognized for his 13 years of service to the organization.

In addition, two new members were inducted into the SCTE's Hall of Fame — Tom Elliot and Richard Covell — and Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI) was awarded the 1998 Service in Technology Award for its commitment to the advancement of telecommunications technology.

SCTE's Penn-Ohio and New England chapters were selected as 1998 Chapters of the Year, while the Society's first gold safety awards went to Jones Intercable and Erie County Cablevision. The 1998 Field Operations Award went to Gregory Williams. Tim Lent and Carroll Childress won second and third place, respectively.

Brent Lutz won the 1998 Milton J. Shapp Memorial Scholarship Fund, which totals up to $20,000 for a four-year college term.

As part of the SCTE's "partnership" program, James Fronk and Gary Wilson received the Society's Leadership Circle Award, which honors local SCTE leaders who have demonstrated leadership, innovation, and commitment to the Society's mission.

Steve Johnson was honored for his work as past Chairman during his 1997–'98 term, and Robert Nunn and Charles Harper were elevated to senior member status in the Society.

Of course, the centerpiece of Expo was technology. There was a June blizzard of new product announcements and new technologies at the show. What follows is a roundup of new equipment, from the headend, all the way to the subscriber premises. And be sure to check out this month's "New Products" section (pages 90 to 94) for more coverage of new products featured at Expo.

Headend equipment

C-COR Electronics Inc. has introduced its Navicor Headend System, a 5RU AM headend system which is compact, and incorporates network management capability. The system consists of a rack and several components, including forward and return path transmitters and receivers, power supplies and a network management agent.

The rack holds up to seven transmitters and up to 14 receivers, and has the option of redundant powering to reduce the chance of downtime. The 862 MHz forward transmitters are available with several optical output power levels of 6, 8, 10, 13 and 16 mW; the return path transmitters are available at 1, 2 or 3 mW optical output power options.

The 862 MHz forward and return path receivers operate at both 1310 nm and 1550 nm optical wavelengths.

Scientific-Atlanta has announced the Series 9900 RF Signal Manager, a family of products designed to simplify the complex RF networks that support narrowcasting, network management, reverse path signal routing and a variety of interactive services. The product family, which should be available for shipping in December, provides a means of sorting and routing reverse path signals from the home to their appropriate destinations within the headend or hub.

S-A has also announced two additional headend products: the Model 6385 stereo encoder to provide subscribers with superior audio fidelity for home theater applications, and the Series 6320 subcarrier demodulator to streamline an operator's ability to manage audio signals in the headend.

Thomas & Betts Corp. debuted a new, integrated approach to headend RF signal management, dubbed CableFlex, at Expo. The new system fully integrates splitting, combining, balancing, equalization, amplification, isolation, local insertion, and physical cable management in a single platform.

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Drake's new switching modules

The R.L. Drake Company is offering a series of professional quality audio and video switching modules: the VSM4 video switching module, VSM4/OSD video switching module with on-screen display and the ASM4 audio switching module. The Drake VSM4 allows up to four video inputs to be scanned in sequence for a fixed amount of time. The VSM4/OSD offers the same features as the VSM4, but incorporates an on-screen display allowing a source identifier, date and time, and the opportunity to add a custom message to the screen. When used with the VSM4 or the VSM4/OSD, Drake's ASM4 allows synchronized audio to each video source. A common application is using these switching modules ahead of a video modulator in a complete video distribution system.

Quintech Electronics & Communications Inc. released its Narrow-Q Active Narrowcast Combiner, which solves the complexities of combining narrowcast carriers such as those used for cable telephony, cable modems, VOD, and localized video programming such as PEG channels or targeted ad insertion. The system's performance allows even analog NTSC channels to be frequency reused without co-channel problems.

Iris Technologies Inc. has announced that its Video Commander System has been deployed, installed and is operating in more than 100 super headends throughout the country. The Video Commander System allows operators to make channel lineup changes, schedule syndicated events, and allows all of the FCC Proof of Performance testing with the click of a button.

Meanwhile, Viewsonics Inc. has introduced its Headend Driver Amplifier, designed to help cable operators save space in crowded headends. The amp is housed in a compact, 5.5-inch wide by 3.5-inch high x 3.5-inch deep module, and can be attached to a pre-drilled panel for mounting up to three amplifiers in a standard headend rack.

The optional pre-drilled panel gives operators greater maneuverability in tight headends by allowing access to test points from the front of the headend rack; and the power doubler hybrid provides optimal distortion performance at operational output levels.

And Viewsonics has also launched "Tech Talk," an on-line information forum where telecom engineers can gather to exchange ideas. By visiting the company's Web site at www.viewsonics.com, engineers and techs can discuss the challenges they face.

Finally, the company showcased its VS-OSC7-42 and VS-OSC-2-42 oscillators at Expo. Both models are crystal-controlled signal sources that provide stable, reliable, and long-lasting output levels for testing, troubleshooting and balancing the return path.

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Exhibits showed off a bonanza of new products and technologies.

Leaming Industries' AGC-100 audio Automatic Gain Control stops drastic program-to-program and channel-to-channel level changes. It automatically corrects audio levels; reduces customer audio level complaints; and corrects two mono channels.

Leaming Industries also introduced its new SG-100 BTSC TV Stereo Generator to make BTSC stereo more affordable for smaller systems. The generator offers dbx licensed companding; cable-broadcast-quality; typical separation greater than 26 dB; and 14 kHz frequency response.

And, the R.L. Drake Co. has announced its VMM600 Video Modulator, a fixed channel heterodyne modulator having a frequency range of 54–600 MHz. Individual modulators can be ordered factory-set to cable channels 1-86, 95-99, or UHF-TV channels 14-35.

When used with the Drake PSM120 power supply and the RMM12 rack mount, up to 12 modulators can be rack-mounted in the space typically required for two standard units, say Drake officials. Applications for the new modulator include private cable systems, hotel/motel systems, institutions, hospitals and security systems.

The modulator uses SAW filtering to ensure optimal vestigial selectivity for adjacent channel headends, and is designed to accept any standard audio/video baseband signals from a satellite receiver, TV camera, videotape recorder, TV demodulator or similar signal source.

The company has also made new additions to its line of commercial cable headend equipment: the Dracom 1201PC and 1601PC passive combiners. With the new passive combiners, operators can combine outputs of up to 12 or 16 audio/video modulators and/or channel processors onto a single coaxial cable. Both units feature directional coupler design, which ensures high port-to-port isolation and low insertion loss.

Standard Communications Corp. has announced a BTSC stereo encoder which uses digital signal processing (DSP) techniques. The DSG2000BD digitizes the incoming audio signals, then uses DSP to generate the BTSC signal. As a result, the output signal is clean and clear, with good separation, low harmonic distortion and tight frequency response, according to the company. In addition, the encoder offers features and options including selectable input/output impedance, Bessel Null Test Signal, and front panel audio test jacks.

FM Systems Inc. has introduced its FMR534S BTSC stereo decoder, which converts stereo TV sound at 4.5 MHz to left and right audio channels so that digital transmission systems can transmit BTSC stereo-encoded sound. The decoder demodulates the 4.5 MHz subcarrier, then decodes the BTSC signal into professional-grade 15- kHz left and right channels. The user may also decode SAP signals using the card.

Up to three BTSC stereo decoders may be installed in one PMS500 mainframe occupying one rack space (1.75 inches). Or, two left, right and SAP channels will also fit into one mainframe.

Frequency response, signal-to-noise ratio and stereo separation all exceed professional broadcast specifications, say company officials.

New from Monroe Electronics Inc. is a multi-purpose, multi-switch controller, suited for complex headends which are being built and rebuilt. An Intel-based PC system, the Series 3000, Model R-167 multi-switch controller can control up to 256 individual control points, both contact closure to ground and TTL logic.

Dovetail Surveys Inc. has released the CPC-130 Headend Proof-of-Performance Controller. The controller is installed in the headend to facilitate field performance measurements without the need for headend personnel, according to Dovetail. Modulator video inputs and test equipment circuits are permanently wired to allow automatic repetitive test signal insertion on demand. The timing of the test modes is programmable over a wide range.

NII Norsat International Inc. has announced its "micromod," a high-performance, fixed-channel modulator series. The new series of compact modulators provides up to 12 channels of video/audio modulation in a three-rack-unit chassis. To meet varying customer requirements, three micromod modules, offering three channel capabilities and various frequency ranges (a low band, medium band and a high band) are currently available. A modular design to permit convenient front panel tuning and replacement also make the micromod a flexible product for use in SMATV systems.

Antec Network Technologies launched two new RF Link products at Expo. The company's RF Management System uses a passive platform in the headend or hub so that operators can quickly reconfigure their systems for reverse path services and troubleshoot signal levels at designated test points. It includes shelf-mounted RF splitters, combiners and directional couplers.

The RF Link Data Blanker blocks unauthorized data from transmitting on the vertical blanking interval (VBI) between lines 10 and 20 of both fields. The unit can stand alone or mount in one rack space. It features a selectable switch for easy configuration of VBI lines and eliminates noise on the VBI.

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(L to R) Marty de Alminana, AM Communications; Tom Jokerst, Charter Communications; and Steve Burrows, TCS Communications, get down and get funky with The Hazel Miller Band at CED's party during Expo.

Barco has introduced TITAN, a DVB-compliant satellite receiver for broadcast stations, cable TV headends and MMDS sites. The receiver is modular, which allows the integration of an MPEG-2 decoder, or even an MPEG-2 transport stream processor into the satellite receiver's housing. Full remote control and monitoring of the unit is possible by interfacing it to ROSA, Barco's cable TV management system.

Equipment enclosures

Channell Commercial Corp. has announced the availability of its new 300 Series Self-Lock broadband enclosure security system, which is now included as a standard feature in the company's SPH Series pedestal enclosures.

The 300 Series is the latest generation of the company's Self-Lock, self-latching system, which provides a range of security lock styles and the associated tools required for technician use. Factory-installed in Channell's line of SPH enclosures for both active and passive network applications, the Self-Lock system enhances network security.

Fiber optics

Scientific-Atlanta Inc. has introduced the new Prisma Optical Networks Model 6940 and 6920 Node products, which enable two-way services to be sent over the fiber optic network connected to the network operator's serving office and the coax cable connected to the consumer's location.

The Prisma 6940 Node employs four RF output ports, supports up to eight optical modules, and is capable of providing dedicated forward and reverse bandwidth to each RF port. And the new Prisma 6920 Node products build on the platform of the company's SAIII RF amplifier, adding a new laser transmitter and robust current-carrying capability.

Also new from S-A is a ytterbium/erbium co-doped fiber amplifier (YEDFA), which will give operators the ability to efficiently reach more customers from each hub site, and lower the cost per milliwatt, as compared to previous technologies, says the company. It will also enable operators to extend fiber deeper into the network, which will provide the additional bandwidth necessary for offering multimedia services and expanding channel lineups.

Meanwhile, Thomas & Betts has unveiled its new, high output power, 1550 nm optical transmission platform. The LT-4000 platform is available in a 200 mW, 23 dBm output version to compliment the company's existing transmitters and optical amplifiers available with 20 to 100 mW outputs.

C-COR Electronics says it now has specifications and pricing available on its recently-announced Navicor FlexNet Node. The node is a solution to deploying modular optics with flexbility — customers may either purchase a complete node, or simply upgrade existing FlexNet amplifiers with the optic lid.

Antec Network Technologies, the manufacturing division of Antec Corp., has launched a block convertor specifically designed to expand upstream bandwidth capabilities and minimize return fiber requirements. The company introduced its Laser Link Block Convertor system at Expo.

In an HFC network, operators can increase bandwidth with the company's Laser Link LLRX 400 Optical Node, which provides the scalability to migrate from a single upstream transmitter for each node. By adding another transmitter, operators can double bandwidth, say Antec officials, by routing the signals to two distinct transmitters. With the addition of the block convertor, operators can quadruple their available bandwidth on a single fiber, while providing redundancy in the optical plant.

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Force's DTV Linx series

Features of the block convertor include: four times the available bandwidth per node over a single optical return link, phase noise performance which makes the system transparent to any form of modulation, and a high performance dynamic range which exceeds the performance of the optical system, thereby adding little or no system noise and distortion.

Otronics has introduced FiberMo, a central fiber management rack system designed for high-density fiber management. The system centralizes all access to the fiber terminations within the MC, improving the overall management of the fiber infrastructure. The modular design provides a centralized point for terminating, cross-connecting, splicing and servicing fiber optic circuits. It also effectively manages, routes, protects and distributes optical fiber, while maintaining the proper bend radius for TIA/EIA-568A standards compliance.

Force Incorporated has announced the availability of its new DTV Linx Series HDTV and D1/D2/D3/D5 SDI fiber optic transmission links. The units (Models 2853, 2822 and 2653) are designed to offer direct SMPTE 259M, SMPTE 292M and SMPTE 305M compatible interfaces. Suited for the cable TV, broadcast and telco industries, the links are a reliable means of transporting digitized video, audio and control signals over singlemode or multimode optical fiber.

Force has also introduced its fourth-generation family of cable TV broadband fiber optic transmission products which provide an interchangeable, robust system for transferring multiple channels of VSB-AM modulated video, audio and/or high-speed data signals over multimode or singlemode optical fiber.

The CATVLinx Model 2804T VSB-AM DFB, laser-based 860 MHz transmitter allows for full 110 channel loading and consistently excellent signal performance over tranmission paths exceeding 20 km of singlemode fiber, says the company. Also new are the CATVLinx Model 2802 VSB-AM link, and the CATVLite Model 2801 VSB-AM link.

Silicon Valley Communications is announcing its new line of fiber optic transmission equipment. A principal application of the new line is for hybrid fiber/coax cable TV networks, where video, voice and data may be transmitted over a single optical fiber.

The new SVC product line includes 1310 nm forward and return path transmitters; 1550 nm externally modulated transmitters; Erbium-doped fiber amplifiers; indoor forward and return path receivers; single-output outdoor receivers with an optional return path transmitter; and four-output, outdoor optical receivers with optional return path transmitters.

Aurora Instruments Inc. has introduced a new profile alignment system (PAS) fiber optic fusion splicer, the dual-mode Fusion 3500. The splicer combines both PAS and local injection/detection (LID) technologies in a single unit.

In PAS mode, the system not only detects fiber and defects, but also makes automatic low-loss splices and estimates splice loss in 14 seconds (typically). In LID mode, it achieves lower splice losses and more accurate loss estimates.

The Fusion 3500 offers two simultaneous x and y views of the fibers. The monitor is rugged and can be tilted through 270 degrees for viewing from any direction.

General Instrument Corp. demonstrated its new Starline 2000 Series Optical Mini-Bridger Node and System Power Inserter at Cable-Tec Expo. The Starline optical node supports up to 860 MHz bandwidth and incorporates either traditional power doubling technology or Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) MESFET hybrid technology for improved distortion performance and increased output levels.

The Starline Power Inserter is equipped with electronic crowbar surge protection. This product shares the same features as GI's standard inserter, and offers high-voltage surge protection to withstand voltage transients such as those caused by lightning. The electronic crowbar circuit allows the power inserter to withstand 6,000-volt surges per IEEE C62.41.

Siecor Corp. introduced its Eclipse Wall-Mount Unit, which features unique fiber routing and management concepts that will not permit the violation of fiber bend radius. The company offers both a three-panel and six-panel wall-mount unit.

Because of its compact size, the unit is suited for applications that require a small number of fibers to be terminated at businesses, schools and other premise locations. Each unit is lockable, and comes equipped with a separate provider and customer side — providers can access both sides, while customers have access only to their own side. The unit accepts Eclipse connector panels (available in 4-, 6-, 8-, 10- and 12-fiber counts; and 10- and 12-fiber panels for SC only).

Ortel has introduced Analog Wavelength Division Multiplexing (AWDM) lasers, the newest additions to its HFC optical transmission product line. According to Ortel, the Model 1750A 1550 nm forward path AWDM laser modules are designed to deliver excellent linearity for high signal quality, and are available at standard ITU wavelengths.

The Model 1702A 1550 nm cooled return path AWDM modules are designed for long distance transmission of return path signals. Like the Model 1750A, the 1720A laser meets the requirements of cable TV applications and operates at standard laser ITU wavelengths.

Models 1720A and 1721A 1550 nm source lasers are available in a 14-pin butterfly package with a thermoelectric cooler, monitor photodiode and polarization preserving fiber.

Epitaxx Optoelectronic Devices is marketing two optical receiver modules for long- and short-haul applications. The 2.5 Gbps Sonet/SDH Optical Receiver Modules APD-TIA ERM 577 (long-haul) and PIN-TIA ERM 567 (short-haul) have a unique modular design and a wide dynamic range with differential output that allow for increased signal, monitoring of signal output and reduced common-node noise.

Transmission/distribution equipment

ADC Broadband Communications, a division of ADC Telecommunications Inc., has developed a new series of RF amplifiers and line extender products. The new Pathworx amplifier includes several new advances in RF amplifier technology, says ADC, including the fact that the amps are designed specifically for advanced data, telephony and two-way services, as well as the products' good RF performance, which lowers the initial network capital investment while providing good network availability.

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ADC's new amplifiers

In addition, wireless local monitoring enhances serviceability, while lowering operating costs, and ADC's wireless local monitoring module can also be used to adjust pad and equalizer values remotely.

The Pathworx product line also includes line extenders which feature the same digital control functions found in the line's network amplifiers.

C-COR Electronics Inc. has announced its new Navicor Line Extender, which utilizes 750 MHz and 862 MHz power hybrid doubling (PHD) technology in the forward path for increased performance, says the company. The push-pull reverse amplifier provides a wide dynamic range for advanced, interactive services.

The unit can handle 15 ampere through-current for increasing power demands, while its pin-fin housing design improves heat management for cooler operation. The reversible RF module provides flexibility to operators when making network design changes as fiber is pushed deeper into the system.

Belden has introduced a cable designed to solve many of the cabling difficulties associated with headend installations for RF applications. The cable's construction includes a coaxial Series 59 with a silver-plated, solid copper conductor and bonded laminated tape, plus 95 percent tinned copper braid. Bonded to the coax are two audio pair, individually-shielded cables incorporating two, 22 awg tinned copper standard conductors. The three-cables-in-one design allows the user to realize efficiency in pulls/runs, facilitate troubleshooting, improve headend organization and enhance connectorization ensuring isolated audio pairs, says the company.

Triple Crown Electronics has introduced a series of return gain only amplifiers for application in two-way upgrades. The amplifiers include the company's MR series of outdoor amps, TRDA subscriber drop amps, RA series rack mount return and IR series return gain only amps.

Electroline Equipment Inc. has announced that its new RetroPlate, which converts existing passive taps into addressable taps, will be available this fall. With a swap of faceplates, the RetroPlate turns "popular" brands of passive taps into addressable devices, which allows cable operators to activate and terminate services on any tap port from a remote location (without a truck roll), by typing on a computer keyboard.

The unit is a security solution for hard-to-reach areas, high theft and churn areas, without the need to convert the entire cable plant. Instead, a cable operator can "spot deploy" RetroPlates wherever they are needed, leaving the rest of the plant untouched.

Electroline Equipment Inc. says that its new eight-way DropAmp, a subscriber premises signal amplifier which compensates for high signal loss encountered in whole-house installations, long drop situations or high-density housing, will be available this summer. The DropAmp also supports two-way operation, which is becoming increasingly important as operators offer interactive services such as cable modem service.

Belden Wire & Cable Company has introduced TotalGuard, coaxial drop cable which features total corrosion protection for both the center conductor and shielding. TotalGuard is available in Series 59, 6 and 11 for all interior and exterior applications, and it meets the requirements of SCTE IPS-TP-017 test method for moisture inhibitor corrosion resistance. As a result, there is a reduction in drop replacements and reconnectorization service calls.

The product's corrosion-inhibitor is a greaseless, powderless formulation. TotalGuard also leaves the center conductor fuzz-free, for fast and easy termination, says the company.

Times Fiber Communications has introduced its new 6 Series drop cable, called Quad Shield +Plus. The cable's configuration combines an extended bandwidth performance capability, with a specially constructed outer conductor designed for RF shielding superior to standard dual tape/dual braid cables, says the company, making it suited for emerging digital transmission deployment.

The cable's physical design allows the use of currently-available connectors without the need for specialized coring or stripping tools. In addition, mechanical and electrical performance meets or exceeds all SCTE requirements, according to the company. Installation requirements are identical to traditional braided drop cables.

SilCom Technology has unveiled its new RA-90 Return Path Amplifier, a plug-in upgrade for LE-95 and LE-97 line extenders manufactured by Philips Broadband Networks.

The RA-90 is fully plug-compatible with the Philips 4-LER90 return amplifier, and provides the improved dynamic range and compression point performance required to support large numbers of subscribers using two-way applications. The Silcom amplifier features a highly optimized, single stage, push-pull design providing a lower noise figure and wider dynamic range.

CableServ Electronics Ltd. has received orders of more than 25,000 hybrid equipped reverse amplifiers from Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI). According to CableServ executives, the development of the amplifiers came about from a TCI request.

"TCI approached us to design a hybrid equipped reverse amplifier to replace the discrete versions that were available for their Jerrold and Magnavox amplifiers," said Ray Hladysh, vice president of sales and marketing at CableServ. Featuring the company's Twin Pad design, the 40 MHz amplifier is compatible with TCI's installed equipment.

"Although we didn't give them much time to respond, CableServ has provided a quality amplifier that is not only easy to set up with their Twin Pad design, but they have delivered right on schedule," said Tony Werner, executive VP of Engineering and Technical Operations for TCI Communications Inc. "Oleh Sniezko, our VP of Engineering, had worked with CableServ when he was with Rogers in Canada, so when we realized we needed a solution for our amplifiers, we gave them a call. CableServ has truly helped us in working to complete our two-way activation."

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Mason Truluck (L) and Clayton Dore (R) of Digitrans present the Riker Award to outgoing SCTE President Bill Riker.

Omega One Communications LLC has introduced Pentabond cable, a new braidless drop cable that minimizes energy leakage, eliminates the need for flooding compounds and provides extended life, says the company. Omega One's patented design provides a solution to the energy leakage that can occur through the holes in the braid of standard coax designs.

The Pentabond cable utilizes two tapes separated by an even, uniform interlayer of plastic. Because the interlayer is smooth, constant pressure is applied to the tape and overlap, thereby eliminating the quilting effect caused by the uneven pressures of the braid. In addition, the interlayer forms a wrinkle-free foundation for the second tape, greatly reducing the potential for holes to form in the tape overlap.

Omega One is a joint venture between Corning Incorporated and Elite Technology Group.

Subscriber equipment

Contec has introduced a new, two-function universal remote control that can operate a range of the industry's basic analog set-tops. The RT-U31 was developed as a result of requests from MSOs for a single, two-way model to operate popular basic analog set-tops, says Product Manager Gene Griesau.

The unit will operate all General Instrument set-tops through the CFT2000, Scientific-Atlanta models through the 8600, Z-Tac and PM convertors from Zenith, Tocom's 5503VIP, 5507 and 5508 models, and Pioneer's 4000, 6000 and 9000 series units, according to Contec.

Universal Electronics Inc. has announced two new interactive remote control systems. The first new remote control system utilizes 900 MHz RF signals, enabling the user to control electronic equipment anywhere in or around the home. The second system uses bi-directional infrared signalling to provide similar capabilities to the first unit, on a line-of-sight basis.

Outside plant products

General Machine Products Company Inc. displayed three aerial cable lashing machines during Expo. They include the parallel-pull Apollo lasher, C and J2 lashers.

The Apollo Lasher pulls parallel to the strand, permitting easy placement of all types of cables, including copper, fiber, coax and HFC across overgrown, congested and rugged terrain. The C cable lasher, used widely on cable TV cables, can be loaded with two, 1,200-ft. coils of 0.038 in. or 0.045 in. diameter wire to lash cable. The J2 lasher provides overlashing capability with the turn of a lever, and features a positive internal gear-to-gear mechanism.

Telecrafter Products' Fitting Saver is now available with a pre-inserted dielectric silicon gel to better seal the ports of the tap, says the company. The saver protects and seals out moisture from the F-fitting, and now, it also weatherproofs the port and helps prevent low-level noise ingress at the tap.

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Steve Johnson (R) presents Hugh McCarley with the chairman's gavel.

Line-Ward Corp. showed its L-2 Line Layer, designed to bury cable TV and telephone service wires. Its compact design and durability make it suited to installing buried drops. An optional boring attachment for driveways and sidewalks is also available.

Thomas & Betts' Cable Communications Division unveiled two new products at Expo. The two new products are the latest additions to the company's Diamond line of drop and pole line hardware. The "Snowbird" Ground Block has been designed to save labor and material in trailer park subscriber grounding applications. Savings are achieved through the block's one-step bonding of the coaxial drop to the trailer park power pedestal, which eliminates the need for a separate ground wire installation. Two models cover frequencies to 1 GHz for use with all "F"-connectors.

The company's new Diamond SC68-7 Mounting Plate has been designed to support three-bolt suspension clamps, thimble eyes, or active equipment on wooden, concrete and steel poles. Rated with a load capacity of 10,000 pounds, the galvanized plate boasts a service life of more than 25 years, and accommodates bands from 3/4 inches to 1-1/2 inches.

Norscan Inc. has announced CableView, an object-oriented, GUI outside plant database. CableView provides a complete database of all fiber optic cable outside plant records and displays the records as either a schematic, or overlaid onto a geographical map. The package's open, object-oriented database allows for data transfer to "any commercially available database," including Oracle, Sybase, and others, according to the company.

Connectors

Thomas & Betts Corp. has expanded its LRC connector line with new 90-degree and 180-degree adaptors, three-inch and six-inch extension adaptors, a right-angle "F" fitting, and a specialized power splice.

Gilbert Engineering Company Inc. unveiled UltraSeal, its new, all-metal compression connector. The connector, which assures 360 degrees of contact with the cable, features a three-point sealing system that passes the Bellcore water-immersion test and delivers good pull strength.

Powering

Reasoning that advanced services like high-speed data and telephony require constant and uninterrupted power, a new subsidiary of MultiLink, called "MultiPower," was on-site at the Expo with its "True UPS" power solution.

Two former Alpha Technologies Inc. execs — Bob Bridge and Larry Roper — are spearheading the new unit, based in the Cleveland area. The two conducted a press briefing to explain that existing standby and UPS systems on the market aren't adequate for today's broadband powering needs.

"When standby power (solutions) kick in during a power outage, there's a couple of frames of flicker in video, which is fine for video because it's momentary — but as we move into data and telephony, you can't drop any bits at all — so true UPS is the only acceptable method," said Bridge.

Designed from scratch purely for cable TV use, the True UPS offers 87 percent efficiency — described by Bridge as a huge improvement over other pure UPS units earmarked for cable use, which top out at 65 to 70 percent efficiency.

Triple Crown Electronics has announced its new status monitoring power inserter, the VIN-1. It is designed to interface with system power supplies and network monitoring systems.

The VIN-1 provides adjustable forward gain, passive return path, a service transfer switch, and 20 amp power passing capability. It can be installed in most power supply cabinets and removed or replaced without removal of the main cable entry.

Fast on the heels of its product rollouts in the United States and Europe, Exide Electronics Group Inc. is expanding its family of Lectro ZTT/Plus uninterruptible power systems (UPS) for cable TV applications worldwide. The company announced it has expanded distribution to South America and parts of Africa.

Exide began shipping a 220 VAC, 60 Hz version of its Lectro ZTT/Plus 60/90 VAC UPS to operators in Brazil, and a 230 VAC, 50 Hz version will be introduced to markets in South America, Asia and parts of Africa.

Also, Exide will have available a 120 VAC, 60 Hz version of the Lectro ZTT/Plus 60 VAC uninterruptible power system for U.S. customers.

Exide has also introduced an enhanced version of its Lectro Powernode centralized powering system, which now incorporates the ZTT/Plus standby power supply module. The unit offers MSOs a flexible, centralized powering solution designed around the 15 amp ZTT/Plus power supply building block and a high-performing DC generator. Benefits of the ZTT/Plus and DC generator combination include higher powering capabilities (up to 5.2 kW plus an additional N+1 module), and improved powering efficiencies.

Meanwhile, Alpha Technologies has announced a five-year power supply warranty that accompanies the introduction of its latest CableUPS power supply, the XM Series 2.

Alpha has also introduced Statusphere, a Web-based network management program for outside plant powering systems.

Statusphere enables communications service providers to use standard Web browsers to manage critical network power. This open standards approach eliminates the need for dedicated headend controllers, combiners and proprietary monitoring software.

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Exide's DC Powernode

Cable Innovations Inc. has introduced the new CLPS-3009 cable line surge suppressor, which protects trunk line and feeder line actives and passives from overvoltage-related damage.

The new surge suppressor is a major advance over the company's previous model, say company officials, in that it eliminates silicon controlled rectifiers which are used in the predecessor model, and replaces them with a single Sidactor. The Sidactor, in turn, reduces response time and increases reliability and versatility.

Digital television
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Richard Leghorn, CableLabs (2nd from left); John Malone, TCI chairman; Trygve Myhren, Myhren Media; and Dick Green, CableLabs, participate in a session moderated by Tom Southwick of Cable World magazine (far left).

Zenith Electronics Corp. detailed a plan to help cable operators pursue high-definition television with a "remodulator" module for digital set-top boxes. In demonstrations at its booth, Zenith showed what it described as an add-on module for its two-way system, which was designed as a low-cost interface between digital set-tops and ATSC-compliant digital TV and HDTV sets.

The adapter works by converting QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) signals to an ATSC-compliant signal for output to a digital television. Zenith will also develop an internal ATSC demodulator for its 1999 set-top products, said executives.

Network monitoring/management

C-COR Electronics is now taking orders and scheduling field trials for the third generation CNM System 2 Cable Network Manager software. CNM System 2 is an HFC element management system which offers "seamless" integration with SNMP managers, an open database architecture, interoperability with other software applications and intelligent, standards-based agents.

Superior Electronics announced that it will be doing business under the name "Cheetah Technologies." The name change, say company officials, is based on the broad recognition of the Cheetah product line throughout the cable industry as a network management system solution.

The company has also formed into three new business units, each of which will focus product development and marketing efforts in the company's three primary business areas: HFC network management software, automated broadband test systems, and status monitoring. The new business units are: CheetahSoft, CheetahLink and CheetahTest.

Cheetah Technologies has also released a new product, its Return Path Analyst, a software-based, automated ingress management solution that optimizes users' ability to monitor, characterize and diagnose return paths.

Triple Crown Electronics has introduced a remote network control system which features automated, bi-directional level reporting. The RNC system will automatically monitor the signal path loss in both directions (forward and return) from more than 500 locations per minute. In addition, a wide range return path attenuator allows ingress and noise to be located without interrupting Internet or telephony traffic.

RNCU network elements can be installed inside active products such as amplifiers and nodes, or as self-contained standalone units throughout the cable TV system.

The system controller employs TCP/IP communications protocol and is configured as a Web site, allowing network control as well as the return path monitoring equipment (spectrum analyzer) display to be accessed via Intranet or off-site via the Internet.

The Synchronous Group has announced an expanded line of Hercules SNMP Proxy Agents, used to interface the company's Constellation, Spectrum, Lynx and other company products to network management systems operating with SNMP v1 or V2 . SNMP (simple network management protocol) is a widely-used operating system which provides virtual connections of multiple remote locations to a central processing/monitoring facility.

The Hercules Proxy Agent acts as a client server in a network management system. The unit maintains a database for Synchronous system components connected to it. The database is known as the SNMP Management Information Base (MIB). SNMP is a set of operations which acts on the information derived at the server location. The network manager makes virtual connections to the server and uses simple commands to interrogate the client server.

AM Communications Inc. has released Version 2.0 of its OmniVU software system, which includes new features such as automated standby power supply testing and pager notification of alarm conditions. Also available in the new release are enhancements such as multi-user operation, dial-in remote access, and control of AM's performance monitoring and spectrum analysis products.

Data

Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., Multimedia Systems Division, announced that it has adopted Libit Signal Processing Ltd.'s INCA (Increased Capacity, Ingress Cancellation) technology, which maximizes bandwidth of upstream cable TV channels even in incidences of high noise levels. Toshiba will implement Libit's DOCSIS-compliant INCA technology in its cable modem termination system.

In addition to improving performance, Libit's INCA technology can enable cable companies to use the noisy portions of the lower return RF channels for delivering interactive services.

Zenith Electronics Corp. showed its new cable modems at Expo, which are compatible with the new DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) standard. Zenith is using Broadcom Corp.'s chip technology as the foundation for its new system.

Cabletron Systems has introduced its new data-over-cable solutions program-an initiative designed to provide cable operators and service providers with the tools to deliver Internet access and data services.

Cabletron's new data-over-cable program addresses the critical requirements for offering quality data/Internet services within a cable environment. It includes comprehensive management services, high-speed backbone routing and switching, commercial and consumer remote data access, and technical service and support.

The company has also developed a smart networking solution for each of the four data-over-cable requirements: Spectrum Enterprise Manager, SmartSwitch Router, Commercial Cable Modem Termination System, and a company service and support program.

ADC Telecommunications Inc. demonstrated its new ACEngine Card, an asymmetrical cable data modem, during the Show. According to company executives, the card simplifies installation, reduces external cable clutter and lowers cost by allowing customers with a PCI interface to eliminate the Ethernet card that typically connects a subscriber's PC to a standalone cable modem.

Cable telephony

Philips Broadband Networks showed its new Crystal Line Indoor Subscriber Interface Unit (Indoor SIU), a locally-powered network termination unit that reduces installation, operating and maintenance costs associated with supporting an active cable telephone system, says the company. The new product is the first network termination unit available in the U.S., say Philips executives, which does not require network powering and which eliminates the need for power-passing taps, a significant savings for the operator.

The Indoor SIU, which provides two independent analog lines, features an optional internal battery backup battery that provides up to two hours of standby operation and 30 minutes of off-hook capacity. The unit is supported by the Crystal Line element management system, and it accommodates both wall-mount and desktop mounting.

Test equipment

Hewlett-Packard has introduced an option to its quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) analyzer that is designed to help cable operators roll out digital video services to their customers. The QAM analyzer makes comprehensive radio frequency and modulation quality measurements on the digital signals transmitted to consumers over cable systems.

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Philips' Crystal Line Indoor SIU

The analyzer is designed to meet the 64 and 256 QAM system requirements for operators in North America. It is based on the HP 8590E series portable spectrum analyzer, a tool for testing the interactions between analog and digital signals on a cable system, and offers a range of measurement capabilities, including channel power, adjacent channel power and modulation analysis. Channel power measurements verify signal levels from the headend to the subscriber drop, while adjacent channel power measurements help highlight channel-to-channel variations that could cause interference or performance variations.

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Keith Hayes was named as SCTE member of the year

AVCOM of Virginia is offering its field test equipment for the communications industry. Products include portable spectrum analyzers, which can improve the speed and accuracy of satellite dish alignment. Also new is the PSA-33A portable spectrum analyzer, which covers 1 to 2100 MHz in two bands.

ComSonics Inc. has introduced a new test equipment system dubbed CyberTek. The product line will include digital signal level meters, a plant integrity maintenance system, a headend monitor, and other tools as well. The second CyberTek product, CyberTek Ingressor, made its debut at Cable-Tec Expo. The recently-patented product detects defects in system integrity on both the downstream and the upstream, and also locates the defect (with latitude/longitude coordinates), determines its signal strength and maps its location. It then transmits the processed integrity data to any designated downstream location, where it can be analyzed for work order preparation.

ComSonics Inc. has also introduced its CS-320 Precision Demodulator, which features a single, dual function control on the front panel. The unit is frequency-agile, has continuous tuning capability and is remote-capable, as well. It also has multiple status alarms that indicate a variety of signal conditions or results of self-diagnosis.

Wavetek Corp. has introduced the newest generation of its Stealth Sweep equipment, the StealthTrak Sweep Receiver, which offers new features, including greatly increased speed, says the company. The new unit helps users locate ingress via its impulse detector and spectrum displays — technicians can see and track down fast noise spikes. In addition, the unit has a built-in low-pass filter and preamp which allows the user to see the smaller signals available at amplifier test points.

Wavetek has also introduced a faster signal analysis meter (SAM) designed to help track down ingress. The new generation SAM can locate ingress with its impulse detector and spectrum displays, allowing technicians to see and track down fast noise spikes.

With additional speed and an enhanced digital measurement package, the SAM also makes modem troubleshooting easier. To help protect the user's investment, existing SAM 4040 units can be upgraded to the new level of performance, say company officials.

Finally, Wavetek featured its PathTrak Performance Monitoring system at Expo, which is designed to monitor and analyze multiple return paths in HFC networks. The system detects minor problems before major outages occur by providing a more efficient, continuous and automated form of testing RF performance.

Applied Instruments has introduced a signal level meter, Model MDU, that measures signals up to 2.15 GHz. The ability of the MDU to measure high frequency signals makes it suited for DBS, as well as cable TV, MMDS and SMATV applications.

The MDU can also power the downconvertor/LNB with either 13 or 18 V.

Hukk Engineering demonstrated its CR1200 QAM monitor, designed to help operators cope with the new world of digital. In a side-by-side demo, the effects of noise on an analog and digital signal were shown with the addition of noise to both signals simultaneously, while the CR1200 documented the results.

Return path monitoring

AM Communications Inc. demonstrated a prototype of its second generation ingress monitoring system at Expo. The SIMS II system is a major "re-invention" of the SIMS product concept, says the company — the new product offers an 8x improvement in packaging density, a 10x improvement in measurement speed, and a 100x improvement in the number of measured points per RF input. It's based on AM's new TAM 9700 modular chassis system, which is slated to be the foundation chassis for all of AM's new headend monitoring products.

Trilithic Inc. has combined its new PC software, HE Manager, and its Tricorder HE Remote Signal Level measurement meter to form a system for monitoring forward and reverse carriers and reverse path ingress at remote hubs and headends.

The Tricorder HE can be installed in any hub or headend with communications to the controlling PC via phone lines or Ethernet. HE Manager software operates the Tricoder HEs under control of a user-generated scan strategy that polls remote sites, collects level data and performs programmable alarm and data archive functions.

Cable Resources Inc. has introduced a new generation of the Return Display Unit which allows techs to verify the cable network's line loss from the subscriber's modem or convertor, back to the headend. The RDU offers status monitoring of carrier, ingress and noise levels across the full spectrum.

MDU switch

Monroe Electronics has introduced a new multi-dwelling apartment switch. The MDS 636 switch can turn off up to eight subscribers per unit, and has the ability to switch between tiers. It will also allow service calls to be handled without a truck roll. More than 250 units may be controlled in each system, with a number of protocols available for control.

IP-based services

ADC Telecommunications Inc. demonstrated Internet protocol (IP) telephony applications over its Homeworx HFC system during the show. Through this platform, cable operators are able to support an array of telephony and data services, including circuit switched (Nx64 kbps)-based telephony from the same loop access system.

Microwave

Channel Master Inc. has added low- and high-power 18 GHz AML Micro-Beam Transmitters and Repeaters that range from 100 milliwatts to 10 watts in power to its product line. The lower-powered products are suited for street-crossing applications, says Micro-Beam Sales Manager Glenn Martin, while higher-powered products are used for AML hub applications or longer path distances.

Micro-Beam's 18 GHz, 72-channel AML receiver offers a low noise figure, a maximum of 3.0 dB, and all Micro-Beam AML products exceed Intelsat IESS-308/309 specifications for all digital compression formats, say company officials. Typical SSB phase noise at 10 kHz is 100 dBc/Hz; typical group delay non-linearity in 6 MHz is 0.7 nanoseconds.

 

see also:

  • Get ready for EAS
  • Digital video deployment session stresses preparation
  • LAN/WAN basics and transporting high-speed data on cable TV networks
  • Knowledge, relationships are key to customer care evolution
  • TCI staff take top honors
  • HFC architectures

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