If we are obliged to power equipment sited in a machine room and/or edit suites we ask that the customer’s project manager and electrician read and sign these notes to ensure a proper configuration for the mains supply. The difference between an optimal arrangement of mains power and one that merely satisfies the requirements of safety legislation will be the difference between a smooth-running facility and one that is bedeviled by hum on signals and corrupt data streams. Attention to detail initially will save money and result in a robust system.
- Circuit breakers – Our requirement is that the customer’s electrician provides a separate spur connection for each bay and all feeds are provided via a D-rated 16A MCB. We recommend the area is protected by an Earth Leakage Breaker. For the edit rooms an MCB-protected 16A mains feed terminated in a Commando connector is required. Since most equipment used in modern television production represents inductive loads C-rates breakers found in domestic and office premises will results in unnecessary supply interruptions.
- It is important that the customer’s electrician runs the earths for the edit rooms back to the same earth bus-bar as the mains feeds to the bays thus creating a technical supply for all production/editing equipment.
- The practice of tying the domestic ‘cooking’ earth to the technical earth should be avoided as a quick and cheap way of unifying the earths between the edit suites and machine room. Although this satisfies the requirement of a safety-earth it means that the technical earth is now united with the dirty earth.
- Be aware that new projects that start after June 2008 have to conform to 17th Edition of the IEE regs (BS7671:2008). These notes are meant as additions to legal requirements and should be included in Root6’s Scope Of Works submission.
- Testing- we will regard demarcation of responsibility for the machine room cabinets and edit suite desks as being at the 16A Commando connector – we will provide a standard set of tests results (earth continuity, Insulation, run-current, leakage, and flash-test) from that point for every circuit. We ask that the electrical contractor provided us with a copy of his test results as detailed in IEE.17th.ed and Part-P.
This is a paragraph from my standard Scope of Works document that goes to customers of build where I’m not responsible for the technical power:
“Electrical requirements for all rooms part of the installation
We recommend an MCB-protected 16A mains feed terminated in a Commando connector. It is vital that the customer’s electrician runs the earths for the rooms back to the same earth bus-bar as the mains feeds to the bays thus creating a technical supply for all production/editing equipment. Failure to observe this request will cause mains hum on all video signal distribution around the new facility.”
So we’re quite explicit about the need for the need for a proper technical earth and what will probably happen if it’s neglected. One of our recent builds has been having niggling problems with corrupt video captures and despite me having twice tested the physical layer performance of all the cabling (using the eye pattern on a Tek WFM7120) the attitude from the customer has been “…it must be the cabling or the routers you provided”. After lots of haggling I was there recently and I measured a full 400mV of hum between the ‘technical'(!) earth in the suites and the power distribution in the machine room. Given that an HD/SDi signal is only a volt I’m amazed they weren’t seeing more corruption.
Now it’s the inevitable “..why didn’t you test for this and spot it earlier”? Perhaps there’s a lesson here in not splitting the job up into many parts and using the cheapest contractor for each. If they’d been my electricians I’d have briefed them and made sure they ran proper tech earths – and I’d have made sure they tested them before handing over to the customer. That’s why we’d have been a tad more expensive.