December 2018

Spend a day with Matt Maddox, Senior Project Engineer at dB Broadcast.

08:30 Although I spend a fair amount of time at client sites, today I’m based at dB’s offices in Cambridgeshire, working on system testing on a major project for a UK broadcaster. The client is relocating to a new site, so everything has to be built from scratch. At the same time, they will move to a full IP-based system, so I can use a lot of my experience from a similar large scale implementation completed last year. To an extent, designing for a ‘green field’ site makes things easier than dealing with legacy systems, but everything must be specified to be as future proof as possible for the next generation of IP network, capable of 100G per port, compatible with emerging technologies.

09:00 One of our key vendors has recently installed their equipment in a test broadcast system in our Integration Lab. After brief initial training, my task now is to really get to grips with the equipment, and to put it through its paces using a dB test schedule, especially the interfaces with other kit.

For the last four or so years, the majority of my work has involved uncompressed video over IP, and as a relatively new field, with developing standards, it’s a challenge to ensure that equipment from different suppliers works efficiently together – a key role for an SI like dB Broadcast.

12:15 I find just a few issues of concern that will need to be communicated, but I decide that these don’t warrant a meeting or a conference call, so I log them for the vendor who will need to make some software changes. One of the benefits of IP systems is that hardware changes are rarely required, and simple code changes can even be carried out remotely.

13:00 Lunch time, so I go out to grab a sandwich with one of my colleagues. It’s important to get some fresh air when focusing hard on complex tasks.

14:00 This afternoon, I’ll be at my workstation, designing a sub-system on AutoCAD. In this case, the client already has a high level design, and I need to work up the low level design down to fibre type, switch type etc.. I ensure there’s a resilient pair of ports in each instance to accommodate a range of failure scenarios.

15:30 An engineer colleague drops by my desk to ask for a bit of advice on another IP system we’re designing; it’s great to be able to help, and the team at dB is always on hand to share experiences; so important as we’re operating at the leading edge of design much of the time.

16:30 My thoughts turn to a client delegation arriving for a demonstration next week, and I mentally run through the things that need to be prepared for then. Happily, I think we’re in good shape, with four work streams ready to show.

17:30 The Lab is locked at 18:00 sharp, so before leaving for the evening, I put some equipment on overnight soak test; this can sometimes show up faults that are not evident in routine procedures.