Wednesday, 16 July 2014

HD DVB-T HiDes HV-202E ATEM TV Studio DVB-T DATV all working

HD DVB-T HiDes HV-202E ATEM TV Studio DVB-T DATV all working

Finally, I have all the pieces connected for a high-quality, live DVB-T TV studio and TX. My interest has been in establishing a high quality, video and audio, DATV system. This post covers the full working system, albeit small-signal. The details of each of the components are covered in earlier posts.

The main components of the system are:

The front of the operator console. The ATEM TV Studio is PC-based and is mounted in a small stand, just viable behind the laptop screen. The ATEM uses up to eight live video and recorded video sources via HDMI or HD-SDI. The recorded video is via a WD TV Live network media player via HDMI (white dot behind remotes), streaming content via network from main media server. The system is connected direct to a TV via an attenuator, hence the media. The stand is made from square section aluminium, plastic joiners and plywood, making the system semi-portable. The source screen for the ATEM is a cheap 16" TV with HDMI input is attached via VESA mount. I intend to add a very small monitoring screen of the final transmitted signal, just to check for gremlins.


 
The back view shows the components more clearly. The ATEM TV Studio and the WD TV Live are network devices, connected via a switch or router/switch. Only the HD-CCTV camera is being used in this shot. The DSLRs connect via HDMI. The HV-202E is bottom right, with its lid off. The whole thing is on our camping table in the spare lounge; very tolerant of my wife.

 
 
What a rats' nest of cables and wall-warts! Everything runs on 12V so I may use one power supply and individual switching.
 
 
 The final product, a view outside the lounge window. Trivia: The 240V socket used in Australia is only used in New Zealand and apparently China, but originally patented in the USA in 1922.
 
 
The on-screen info is just to show sources.
 
So, a basic, semi-professional TV studio and modulator/TX for around $2000. ATEM TV Studio ~$1000, a bit expensive but much better than HDMI capture cards. HV-202E 4-Band professional DVB-T modulator/TX ~$660, again a lot simpler than USB devices. HD-CCTV cameras ~$130 each plus lenses, but even good ones are cheap. Audio deck and microphones, not shown, but starting around $200. DSLR cameras can be used, but they start to blow the budget, however, a Canon M series running Magic Lantern firmware for a clean HDMI video feed ~$350.
 
To go on-air, a Darko 70cm 10W amplifier (~200 Euro) and possibly a pre-amp (~$100) then cabling, antenna etc. As per any DATV DVB-T system.
 
As a footnote, the system originally was set to use H.264, but the six year old TV couldn't decode it. Setting the system back to MPEG2 fixed the problem. The newer TV in our main lounge could receive H.264.  

BladeRF transverter with SDR# on Windows

BladeRF XB-200 transverter working with SDR# on Windows

Software to support the BladeRF XB-200 transverter is beginning to emerge, however, the information is spread across a number of sources. In this post I have amalgamated the various bits of information to get the devices working on Windows 8.1.

Connecting the cables

It is not entirely obvious how the various connectors are used. The information is provided in the BladeRF GitHub:   https://github.com/Nuand/bladeRF/wiki/Getting-Started:-XB200-Transverter-Board

For RX only:


Windows SDR# software for BladeRF 

SDR# software to support the BladeRF and Transverter is available at the time of writing at: http://www.scan-ne.net/bladerf/sdrsharp.zip, per http://nuand.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=3600. However to create the latest version of SDR# and the BladeRF plugin from Jean-Michel at https://github.com/jmichelp/sdrsharp-bladerf and install as described. Download the latest version of SDR# at http://sdrsharp.com/ It is worth following the discussion at  https://uk.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/SDRSharp/conversations/topics/14986 .

The software currently only supports USB2. It is ok to use the blue USB3 connector for USB2. Plug in BladeRF, with transverter, and run NUAND installer: http://nuand.com/downloads/bladerf_win_installer.exe.

Start SDR#, there should be no error messages and BladeRF should be the selected SDR. The setup allows the loading of the FPGA. The sampling rate needs to be restricted due to USB2; it stutters otherwise. 5 MSPS seems to work ok. The transverter filters can be used, although "auto" seems to use the appropriate filter for the set frequency. The transverter can be bypassed to allow the BladeRF to access its native frequency range.

The setup panel in front of SDR# and BladeRF on a portion of the local FM band.

The future

Very good to see the BladeRF working with its transverter on SDR#. It is early days for SDR software to support the full capabilities. Simon Brown, the author of SDR-Console, anticipates a beta for RX in the coming weeks; and TX a little further. It is worth following the NUAND forum, the Yahoo SDRSharp group and the BladeRF GitHub.

Edited 17 July 2014 re SDR# and BladeRF plugin per help from Scott on Nuand forum.




Tuesday, 8 July 2014

HiDes HV-202E DVB-T self-contained transmitter: Quality all digital live DATV from DSLR camera at last!

HiDes HV-202E DVB-T self-contained transmitter: Quality all digital live DATV from DSLR camera at last!


The HiDes HV-102E DVB-T self-contained transmitter has arrived at US$660 delivered. I ordered the USB version of this professional HDMI/HD-SDI 4 band (100 MHz - 2.5GHz) DVB-T TX originally, but upgraded to the stand-alone box instead. (see why latter). It works perfectly out of the box and is easily configurable for any modulation or media parameters.

I had a good experience with the HiDes DVB-T HD CCTV camera transmitter; see earlier post. As such I thought I would try their HDMI input DVB-T TX. Surprising similar, as will be explained.

The impressive specifications per HiDes:








There isn't much this box can't do! Any frequency (up to 2.5 GHz!), any band-width, any media modulation parameter. There isn't anything that comes close, at any cost.

I set it up on a channel my little 16" TV could receive (by cable with an attenuator) and connected up a Cannon 70D SDLR camera via HDMI and turned it all on. Tuned the TV and there was the picture of my very-messy study in all its digital video glory. See picture of box in action. I will discuss the hardware latter.



However it was not in Full HD, just SD. I had to fix that. The HV-202E connects to a PC via USB for configuration. Perhaps, not surprisingly it was the same procedure as the DVB-T HD CCTV camera. It seems so old-fashioned, but the interface is via a virtual com port. The modulation and media boxes are shown.




Australian amateurs can use a 7 MHz band-width with the same modulation parameters as our free-to-air TV, so that is what I wanted; and got. Similarly, with all that bandwidth, I wanted Full-HD 1080i at 30 fps. With a bit of fiddling, I had it: the TV and camera, although in poor light at night.


The white rectangle is an artefact of the 70D camera's auto-focussing. I discussed the problems of getting live clean video from a DSLR in an earlier post. Eventually Magic Lantern will release firmware to fix the problem; the 70D is not long released and a very popular DSLR for video as it has a very effective new auto-focus system.


TX box hardware

Not being backward at opening up new equipment to see how it works, see earlier posts, and noting there was a new version of firmware, the lid was off pretty quick.

The internals were initially a surprise, there was the HiDes USB version of the TX (the brown rectangular board complete with USB connector), as a daughter board to a box made for another purpose. The main box seems to be designed to input HDMI or HD-SDI sources, plus audio and output it as HD-SDI; consistent with a device for HD CCTV. The HiDes board takes what was the SDI output and converts it to DVB-T instead, just as it does with the HiDes HD-CCTV box camera via a daughter board. Very neat. Why design everything from scratch when a modification can be made to existing sophisticated hardware?

There is not much documentation on the HiDes board's chips. The key ones are made by ITE Tech, another Taiwanese company specialising in HD-CCTV and digital multimedia chips: http://www.ite.com.tw/EN/company.aspx. The main chip that can be seen is a IT9518, a member of the IT9500 series of transmitters for CCHDTV cameras via DVB-T, not surprisingly. The other chip has a cover or heat-sink obscuring its details.

The main box has a awesome array of very powerful, highly integrated, digital media chips (Google each for details):
  • ITE IT9507 transmitter for CCHDTV camera, presumably SDI,
  • ITE IT6604 HDMI receiver for HDMI input
  • GENNUM/SEMTEC GV7601 Serial Digital Video Receiver for SDI input
  • TI DM368ZCE ARM SOC Digital Media Processor
  • TI AC31061 Stereo CODEC for audio input 
  • Micron D9MTJ 2Gb DDR2 SDRAM
I was staggered by the capabilities of these devices; it used to take racks of equipment to do what this little box does. Intel CPUs have only incrementally improved over the last 5 years or so, whereas devices based around the ARM CPU imbedded SOC leap forward, as do the dedicated function chips.

The British ARM company http://www.arm.com/index.php is a story in itself that I won't go into here; eventually it fill be a case study in my other (neglected) blogs (see via profile)

Incidentally, there is a SD card socket under the daughter board for firmware updates.

Why not USB?

As noted at the start, I originally ordered the USB version of this HiDes TX, about $270, but changed my mind and spent the extra on the stand-alone box I describe here. The reason? Live capture of HDMI on a PC is a major hassle and is more expensive. HDMI is very complex, as is most things to do with digital video (and audio) in any form, including HDMI, HD-SDI and DVB. The capture cards or USB boxes are not cheap, around $250, and are not easy to use. Further, a fairly powerful PC is needed as much of the processing is done in software. To compound the problem, Windows 8.1 makes life difficult for small volume devices due to its improved and more secure device driver requirements, a necessity given the problems with cyber security. The live HDMI feed from DSLRs further complicates matters, as noted in earlier blogs.

I started with a HiDes UT-100C USB dongle, see earlier post. It works fine with a webcam, but I spent ages and money trying to get it to work with HDMI capture cards.

The stand-alone HiDes HV-202E TX works with no dramas. It is physically simpler to have a little box that does everything, than a collection of PC-based gear to do the same thing.

Where to next?

To a point, the HiDes HV-202E allows me to achieve my original goal of high quality digital video and audio, via a DSLR camera, to a DVB-T TX on 70cm. For that, I am very happy.

Next? I have spent more time writing this post than using the HV-202E; I still have much to learn.

My plan is to use the Black Magic Design ATEM TV Studio as the HDMI input, to allow the use of multiple cameras and media sources, as discussed in an earlier post. This will give me a very usable TV studio and DVB-T modulator in a very small package, maybe portable.

1 mW isn't going to get me very far. I have a 10W DVB-T amplifier from Darko in Austria. Using my improvised instrumentation, particularly the BladeRF as a spectrum analyser, I hope to get a clean, usable signal. I have the bits to make up an antenna and a mast to mount it, although still needing work to get the rotator operational.

Then there is the HiDes DVB-T repeater that has been gather dust... And a 4W 23cm amplifier, also from Darko. Then to get a RTL DVB-T dongle to work as a 23cm receiver.