Dielectric Reorganizes RF Team for the Post-Repack World
- 30 March, 2021
USA: With the spectrum repack fully in the rearview mirror, Dielectric has promoted Mike Spugnardi to Director of RF Systems and Components as the company shifts its strategy to better serve broadcasters in the post-repack world. As TV Antenna Manufacturing Manager, Spugnardi applied his extensive Dielectric experience to lead all strategic repack initiatives around inventory control, production planning and maximizing capacity. His successful strategy ensured that more than 1000 repack customers were transitioned to new channel assignments within very tight timelines.
In his new role, Spugnardi will bring that same strategic focus to the company’s RF Systems and Components division. This includes new product designs that reflect changing customer needs in today’s reduced UHF spectrum in the United States, as well as making products more efficient for international TV and radio customers.
“Mike’s emphasis on the finer details was a primary reason we were so well-prepared for repack, which was arguably the busiest period of Dielectric’s nearly 80 years of existence,” said Cory Edwards, Director of OEM, Distributor and Southeast Asia Sales. “He is now leading the charge with an emphasis on new products and existing product redesigns, particularly around our UHF TV filters.”
Edwards explains that many of these changes optimize Dielectric’s bandpass filters for Channels 14 to 36, which represent the post-repack UHF band in the United States and much of the Global Broadcast market. In addition to redesigning existing filters, the company is adding models to serve increasingly common power levels. This includes 5kW and 22kW (pictured) models that will allow Dielectric to provide more efficient single-filter designs for these power level requirements, while providing additional headroom to accommodate the higher peak powers of ATSC 3.0. Such ATSC 3.0 requirements have been at the forefront of Dielectric’s designs for many years, and continues to be a key design criteria.
Spugnardi explains that even minor filter design changes can make a big impact. One such change has led to a significant improvement in the company’s medium-power, eight-pole filter designs. The new design is now manufactured as a single-piece with an increased power rating of 22kW. The single-piece design will be far more robust during handling in shipment and installation, easily retaining all factory-achieved tuning settings. For Spugnardi, it’s all about better serving their customers.
“Over the repack period, we discovered that more of our customers opted for eight-pole filters in an effort to reduce spectral overflow in newly congested markets.” said Spugnardi. “Our previous 20 kW eight pole-design had slightly more insertion loss than the new design, and often required small tweaks after shipping and installation. This was not desirable given the rapid pace at which repack progressed. The new 22kW filter cavities are optimized to improve performance, efficiency and footprint. Our customers now have a rock-solid filter with lower insertion loss that is more efficient to install and maintain.”
Other design changes include a common wiring approach for the different voltage requirements of air-cooled systems. Dielectric has also added strategic tie points and broader support for integration into custom frames, which Spugnardi says will provide customers with “flexible installation options on floors, on walls, and in ceilings.” Dielectric is also developing a “star-point Tee-junction combiner”, based on the new filters, for more effective multi-channel combining. The star point design will provide on-site channel change capability with minor tuning adjustments.
Spugnardi will lead a newly expanded team of senior RF engineers and mechanical designers, which Edwards says will “strengthen our bench for a new RF era.” He is also leading the charge on developing new internal technical resources. A striking example of Spugnardi’s experience and emphasis on the “finer details”, the initiative has already delivered a complete revision and update of Dielectric’s RF specification sheets, now accessible here.