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RDA Systems Specs Gepco Digital Cables
for its Radio Design Projects

One of the most important aspects of designing a facility is making sure it's ready for the future, especially when incorporating digital technologies, which is one of RDA Systems' main goals for its projects. The St. Louis-based systems integrator primarily designs and builds radio facilities, and the company has worked on a variety of large-scale projects, including sites for Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation in Miami and Clear Channel Communications in Denver. A big part of RDA's job is making clients realize the importance and benefits of digital, as well as designing a facility that is cost-efficient, and will meet the needs of changing technology in the future.

"Even though digital audio has been around for a while, when it comes to building radio stations, it's something which has only recently been incorporated," says Joe Raftery, project supervisor for RDA Systems.

A regular component of RDA's installations is Gepco digital cables. It's been important for several projects, perhaps most notably the Clear Channel project in Denver, which is one of the world's largest all-digital radio facilities. The project involved seven separate radio stations, 28 studios and four rack rooms all occupying an entire five-floor building. The entire facility was wired with Gepco digital audio cable.

With Clear Channel, RDA Systems used a new type of termination block, which, Raftery notes, worked well with digital cables, particularly Gepco's 5526 Series of cables. "Digital cable just doesn't terminate on the blocks traditionally used in radio," he says. "With the blocks we wanted to use in Denver, the Gepco cable worked really well because of the gage of the wire. Other cable companies don't give you a lot of choices with digital cable; you may only get 24-gage. But, with the 5526, Gepco offers a 26-gage digital cable, and we found it punched down very nicely onto our block."

Another feature of Gepco cables that appeals to RDA Systems is their flexibility. "With most digital cables, simply because of how the wires are grouped together, the jacket on the multi-pair cable ends up being very thick," Raftery says. "As a result, the jacket ends up being not very flexible and difficult to move, a challenge considering the bends we have to make getting it down to where we need to terminate it. We found that Gepco was the most flexible."

These days, many consoles now are either digital or some sort of digital hybrid," Raftery adds. "When you're wiring consoles, you don't always have the easiest access, with connectors often in hard-to-reach spots so the cable has to bend quite a lot. The flexibility of Gepco cables make that job much easier."

Gepco digital cables also help when wiring facilities that are half-analog and half-digital. "Rather than use half-digital and half analog cable," Raftery says, "we end up using all Gepco digital cable, because the 110-ohm digital cable really works fine for analog signals and, in fact, if anything it actually works better. So we'll wire the whole facility for digital cable and just send the analog signals on the digital cable."

One application in which RDA Systems used Gepco cable in a unique way was a recent project for Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation in Miami. Typically, radio stations occupy one or more of several stories in an office building. The actual broadcast facility will be on a certain floor, with a "Penthouse Suite" several floors higher, which houses the equipment necessary to get the signal out to the transmitter site and on air.

Most cable runs for a radio station are 200 or 300 feet at most. A common rule of thumb when using 110-ohm cable is any distance beyond 300 feet significantly increases the risk of signal attenuation or aliasing. However, this project required an unusual cable run, and Gepco's 5596 Series of digital cable, literally, was able to go to great lengths to get the job done.

"The 5596 Series cable is flexible, ultra-low attenuation cable with oxygen-free copper conductors, allowing it greater bandwidth [96 kHz] and capable of withstanding longer distances," says Joe Carollo, RDA's supervisor on the HBC-Miami projet. "In Miami, we had the Master Control Room on the first floor of one office building, with the 'Penthouse Suite' located on the 13th floor of an adjacent bulding. This required a nearly 700-foot cable run, and was the perfect situation in which to use the 5596 Series cable."

Gepco® International, with headquarters in Des Plaines, IL, and a branch location in Burbank, CA, has been a leading provider of studio and broadcast audio and video cables for more than 18 years. The company also specializes in manufacturing custom cable assemblies, panels, patch bay harnesses and breakout boxes. In addition, Gepco stocks and distributes connectors, patchbays and other cable-related products. For more information about Gepco, visit our Company Profile.


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