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Test Report for SPAUN BluBox 16 PAL Head-end

SPAUN BluBox 16 PAL Head-end


Measurement technology is becoming increasingly important, as analogue satellite signals are being shut down. For this reason, SPAUN has extended its range of measuring devices to include two new professional devices.

SPAUN's new BluBox had arrived at our test centre. The new BluBox 16 PAL is an interesting solution for care homes and small guesthouses in particular. This head-end is easy to operate, offers exceptional value for money and is pre-programmed with numerous application options. The head-end is supplied with 8 QPSK in PAL TWIN modules (Master/Slave), which allows for conversion of up to 16 TV programmes.

SPAUN's BluBox 16, when compared to traditional head end equipment, is not just a technological step, it is a giant leap forward. BluBox 8 and BluBox 16 come in the same enclosure but the latter has greater possibilities. BluBox 8 has one signal module and BluBox16 (such unit was in our test) has two signal modules. BluBox16has 8 signal connectors: 4 for satellite signals (DVB-S/S2) and four for cable TV signals (DVB-C QAM). There are also 2 RJ45 Ethernet connectors and 24 status LEDs on the front panel. A power socket is placed on the bottom side of the box, which leads to two power supply units inside the box. Yes, that's right, SPAUN added redundancy here: even if the main power supply breaks, the BluBox keeps working with the spare power supply. This is what true professionalism is the very top connector is always just a satellite IF input, its lower companion can be configured as an input number 2 or a looped throughout put of input 1.To do this and all other configuration settings, you need to connect the BluBox to your computer network. After hooking up an Ethernet cable to the RJ45 connector on the front panel, you can run an Internet browser on any computer connected to the same computer network and enter its IP address: In a second or so, you can see a webpage generated by BluBox and you can set everything on the sub pages. All pages are available either in German or in English. Just below the Ethernet connector in every module, you can see two connectors dedicated for DVB-C QAM signals.

The very bottom one is just the output where the digital cable TV signal is generated and can be further fed to your cable network. The connector above is an input where you can insert a signal from another BluBox unit. In such simple way, you can sum up the outputs of two modules of BluBox 16. In the same way, you can sum up signals from separate BluBoxes units. And now, the most exciting information about SPAUN BluBox 16.

Every signal module of the Blue-Box 16 can convert not fewer but 8 different satellite transponders to 8 fully configurable DVB-C QAM channels. In other words, one BluBox 16 is able to convert16 transponders to 16 QAM channels.

The BluBox 16 design is based on special integrated circuits called FPGA (Filed Programmable Gate Array).To put it simply, they are a kind of digital signal processors in which many features are implemented in the very complex hardware rather than software. Thanks to that, they are significantly faster than traditional processors relying on programmes. But that's not all.

This sophisticated hardware made it possible to achieve such a clear output signal that you can simply connect QAM outputs in series without any filtering. SPAUN's user guide gives an example of connecting the outputs of three BluBoxes 16 and generating48 QAM channels in total (approx. 350 SD/HD programs of high quality). And all this without any combiner or filter – just 3BluBox 16 units and a few pieces of coaxial cable with F connectors on both ends. The BluBox 16 is accompanied by a single page instruction explaining how to connect it to the PC network and download a full operating manual.

The total bitrate of all TV and radio channels from the selected satellite transponder was greater than what the QAM channel modulated with 64QAM with 6.9 Ms/sec symbol rate can carry. If you are a little bit familiar with digital TV, you know what to do. You can either increase the symbolrate (but normally, you would not like to do that as this would interfere with the adjacent channels), increase the QAM to maybe 128QAM (and if this is not enough, to256QAM) or remove some TV channels from the satellite content to be included in the QAM channel.

The BluBox gives you also some possibilities to manipulate NIT, SDT and CAT tables. You can change IDs of the network, service or conditional access system. If you wish, you can replace the original network name with your own network name but you have no possibility to rename the original TV and radio channel. Some expertise is required when tinkering with theses settings especially in NIT processing. Fortunately, everything is explained in great detail in the operating manual. Using the latest microwave technology SPAUN products provide superior technical performance.




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