In the context of the TV repack operation in the United States, two WorldCast Group companies, WorldCast Systems and CONNECT, have been selected to develop and supply an Antenna Switch Controller System along with a unified monitoring platform for the RF operations (DTV and FM) of Sutro Tower. Overlooking San Francisco from its 977-foot-high steel tower, Sutro Tower is a major broadcast site delivering clear signals for television and radio stations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
The TV repack, ongoing for the next few years, is impacting TV stations and sites across the US with many broadcasters changing frequencies and acquiring new hardware. Sutro Tower is replacing several antennas, adding additional RF feeds on the tower and replacing its existing antenna control system. Following a tender launched in 2017, WorldCast Systems was selected for its highly reliable and flexible solution which will incorporate hardware and software from both the Ecreso (RF) division and CONNECT, WorldCast Systems sister-company specifically focused on management and monitoring software.
The system is based on a new product called the Ecreso Switch Controller (ESC), under development specifically for the needs of Sutro Tower, which will be responsible for moving the RF switches as commanded by the customers. The ESC brings flexibility in addition to maintaining safety in all operations and monitoring/recording data for real time display and detailed analysis. Rather than a one-off design, the ESC can be easily configured to manage different types of sites and configurations, and will be a powerful option for future customers seeking small- or large-scale RF monitoring and control systems.
Each Ecreso Switch Controller is capable of managing 5 motorized RF switches, with all the necessary capabilities (interlock management, measuring RF levels to ensure safe operation, etc.). Built on ‘bullet proof” FPGA hardware, the controllers will link to form a network that can manage which connections are possible, based on safety requirements and the needs of Sutro and their tenants. One controller unit will be installed in the ‘suite’ for each broadcast customer at Sutro Tower. The initial order of Ecreso Switch Controllers is 10 for TV, 5 for FM, controlling approximately 35 motorized RF switches.
The Ecreso Switch Controller is not the first WorldCast solution deployed by Sutro, who is already a customer of the Audemat Control Silver and the WorldCast Manager for the monitoring and control of various connected devices and switches. The WorldCast Manager, developed by CONNECT, is now extended to be able to interconnect with the new Ecreso Switch Controller, providing a data archive and supporting public displays of antenna system status and data throughout the building.
Product development has begun early this year with project delivery is expected in 2019.