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Measuring DVB-T Signals with the MSK200

In the following text the Hard Keys are coloured [BLUE] and the Soft Keys [RED]!
The transmission standard for DVB-T is COFDM (Coded Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplex)
this is a digital modulation process with forwards error correcture.
The MSK200 is standardly equipped to measure DVB-T signals, as delivered.

In order to measure a DVB-T signal one must first of all select the required reception channel.
[SOURCE] [DIG TERR] [Channel]
In the Measurement example the UHF channel 34 is being transmitted (direct line-of-sight to
transmitter, Yagi antenna with 10dB gain connection cable -1,5dB).

[ANALYZE] [SPECTRUM] Signal display in frequency spectrum.

As we have a digital signal, the signal level is automatically measured with the effective value
(RMS). Recognizable due to the displayed red, horizontal line. Pre-requisite is that the Softkey
[FULL/CHAN.] is set to CHAN!
DVB-T signals in the UHF range are standardly transmitted with a bandwidth of [Bandwidth] 8MHz.
One can though also set the channel bandwidth to either a 6MHz plan (Standard M), or to a 7MHz
channel plan (VHF, or standard B in UHF).

Constellation Diagramme

This measurement is available after entering [ANALYZE]


diagramme of a
directly received
DVB-T signal.
Under optimale
conditions an
MER of >38 dB
can be achieved.

Explanation of the parameter displayed at the top of the screen:

fully locked
packet locked
BER post
Code Rate


What do these parameter signify? - Some DVB-T basics.

Effective value of the reception level (RMS). The MSK 200 measures the correct signal value relative
to the signal bandwidth.
The minimal level on the input of the DVB-T tuner is dependant on the type of modulation used,
the code rate, the signal bandwidth and on tuner charcteristics.
Standard values are:
Fixed antenna > 32dBV
Portable in-door antennas >38dBV
Mobile reception outdoor >48dBV
Mobile reception indoor >55dBV

Fully locked:
With a standard correct DVB-T signal, the de-multiplexer in the MSK200 locks onto the transmitters
multiplexer: yes - if locking errors occur, then: no

Packet locked:
The modulation OFDM is locked: yes - if locking errors occur, then: no

Modulation Error Ratio is a value for disurbances in the received signal. The higher the MER value,
the better the transmission quality!
The MER portrays all the occuring disturbing signal values and indicates the deviation of the I/Q
values from an ideal signal and is therefore a value depicting the total signal quality.
The MER value can be compared to the SNR value (Signal-to-Noise-Ratio) in analogue systems.
It is dependant on the type of modulation and the code rate!
Recommended minimal values are:

BER (Bit Error Rate):

Bit Error Rate before the FEC (Forward Error Correction). Noticeable disturbances occur with
values < 2e-002.
BER = the number of error bits in a specific time span / total number of bits transmitted in this time

BER Post:
Bit Error Rate after the FEC. Noticeable disturbances occur with values < 2e-004.

Modulation types:
Available are the modulation settings: QPSK / 16QAM / 64QAM
The difference lies mostly in how robust these modulation types are and in the number of TV channels
to be transmitted. QPSK is more robust than QAM, but has a much lower transmission capacity

Code Rate:
Is the ratio between the number of bits used and the total bit rate.
Possible rates are: 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, 5/6, 7/8 - 1/2 = a strong error protection, 7/8 = a weak error

Carrier mode:
Standard are the modes: 2k, 8k
2k mode with 1705 (1512 for useful data) carriers - requires for single frequency nets smaller
distances between the transmitters. Symbol time span = 224s
8k mode with 6817 (6048 for useful data) carriers - used in single frequency nets with larger
distances between the transmitters. Symbol time span = 896s.

Hierarchy ():
Is at the moment not used in any national network, as the software of most DVB-T receivers does not
support this option!
Function: Two transport streams are transmitted at the same time. The transport stream with the
higher priority is QPSK modulated (= more robust modulation, lower data rate, higher error protection).
The 2nd. Transport stream is QAM modulated (= higher data rate, lower error protection). This
ensures that a secure transmission is ensured even when reception conditions are not optimal.
Possible are 4 stages: 0, 1, 2, 4
= 0: Signal is not hierarchically modulated.
= 1: Signal is hierarchically modulated.
Two transport streams are simultaneously transmitted, the higher priority signal in QPSK, the other in
QAM. The transmission quality of both modulation types is identical.
= 2: Signal is hierarchically modulated.
The QPSK modulation is one stage more secure than the QAM modulation.
= 4: Signal is hierarchically modulated.
The QPSK modulation is two stages more secure than the QAM modulation.

Guard Interval:
Is the ratio between the guard interval and the symbol time span. Possible are: 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32
In order to effectively use alll single frequency signals and reflections, which are not received by the
receiver at the same time, the first part of the transmitted signal is not used for data transmission.
This first section is the guard interval and can be set to different lengths, such as 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 or
1/32 of the total symbol time span.
A longer guard interval means that even relatively late received signals can be effectively used but
the useful data rate is though much lower.
In this fashion e.g. in 8k mode (Symbol time span 896s) with an Echo of 224 s (Guard 1/4),
signal path differences of up to 67 km are tolerated.

Net types:
SFN (Single Frequency Network): Several transmitters transmit the same multiplex signal on the same
frequency so that a broadcast cell is optimally covered.
The receiver can receive and process signals from several transmitters at the same time.
MFN (Multi Frequency Network): The transmitters use different frequencies. With this technique one
uses the advantages of relay transmission for all relay transmitters working under the main transmitter.

Impulse Response Measurement.

This function can be called up from the Constellation menu using [IMPULS], or over [ANALYZE]

This measurement was carried out from a reception point in line-of-sight to the transmitter (as
above). This Tx is part of a Multi Frequency Networks (MFN) with only one Tx on any specific
In the figure the signal reflections (Echos), beginning from the received wanted signal (vertical red
line on the left 0s/0km/0miles = red marker), are depicted over the complete Guard Interval
(range depicted by the light brown bar at the top = 0 - 224s).
This display is possible if the horizontal spacing [Zoom] is set to 1.
Signal reflections (Echos), which arrive at the receiving antenna indirectly arrive later than the
main useful signal.
If these echos are inside the Guard Interval (with Guard 1/4 this is 0-224s), then these may
possibly be used to improve the reception quality!
One should though try and reduce echos as much as possible (antenna reception technology) they
should never be higher than the main carrier (0s)!
If this is the case, then one should adjust the reception antenna accordingly (horizontal alignment and
ichange the installation height above ground!).
Reflections which are outside of the guard interval (here 1/4 = 224s) shold in any case be avoided!
In the measurement example above one echo <54dB at approx. 261s can be seen. The difference in
the signal level to the main signal is so large that here no problem can be expected.
In bad reception situations one may need to use [New Sync] to synchronise the MSK200 anew.

The following measurements were carried out at a site with no direct line-ofsight to the transmitter Reflection reception.
The reception antenna was aligned for optimal signal levels.
The reception signal level on the antenna was approx. 43dBV a 20 dB antenna amplifier was
installed, with 5 dB losses in the downlead afterwards.

The frequency spectrum display shows strong ripples on the signal indicating strong
The level difference between the useful signal and the noise floor, due to the low input signal level on
the antenna amplifier is much lower than the spectrum display on page 1 with direct line-of-sight to the

As can be well seen in the constellation diagramme, the reception quality is much lower than in
the example for direct reception.
A very noisy constellation diagramme with clearly lower MER and BER values confirm the evaluation
of the previous frequency spectrum display.
All the same the MSK 200 cana decode this signal without any problems.
The main problem is that this type of reception is never long-term stable.
That means that with any change in the weather situation, inverse weather conditions, snow,
rain aso. interruptions can occur!

The impulse diagramme of the signal without line-of-sight reception.

The right hand side of the display after the Guard Interval cann be extended, if the [x-Position]
is set to a negative setting - here -10.
By changing the level range [Lev.Range] to 60dB even smaller and far-off echos can be displayed.

The measurement example shows that with this signal any eventually existing echos in the range from
approx. 170s up to over 260s are not measurable as these are overlaid by the bad noise floor
caused by the selected reception site.
In comparison to this the depiction on page 6 shows that with optimal reception conditions the noise
floor below the useful carrier can be dropped to -60dB. Echos up to -60dB are then clearly visible.

Switching the Echo propagation time span

By changing the unit [Unit] to km, the echos path can be depicted as a distance.
In the measurement example the green marker is set on a signal echo, which arrives at the reception
antenna after a detour of 13,12 km.

The calculation base for the values for the echos in distance is the propagation speed of the signal
that is at the speed of light.
With the speed of light at 299792,458 km/s, in 1s the signal is transmitted over a distance of
around 0,2998 km. After 226s, the distance involved is therefore 67,75km


Echo List (Carrier List)

The softkey [Carr.List] enables a display of all recognised echos.

All recognised echos >-40dB, measured from the main acrrier are listed.
A selected echo (in the list with blue background) is displayed in the impulse diagramme with a violet
coloured verical line marked E (Echo).
Depending on which unit [Unit], has been selected the detour time span is displayed in s or the
path in km (or miles). The level difference to the main carrier at 0s is also listed.

If one wants to remove the vertical line for the selected echo, then this can be done by switching to the
constellation diagramme [CONST] and then by selecting [IMPULS].


Analysis of Individual Carriers

The nominal setting is the display of all carriers [all Carrier] Start: 0 Stop: 6816
Out of the total COFDM carrier packet one can select a specific carrier range by entering a carrier
number using [start Carrier] to [stop Carrier], or of an individual carrier by entering the identical
numer in start and stop.
The centre carrier in 8k mode is: 3408
Pilot carriers in 8k mode are:
34, 50, 209, 346, 413, 569, 595, 688, 790, 901, 1073, 1219, 1262, 1286, 1469, 1594, 1687, 1783,
1754, 1913, 2050, 2117, 2273, 2299, 2392, 2494, 2605, 2777, 2923, 2966, 2990, 3173, 3298, 3391,
3442, 3458, 3617, 3754, 3821, 3977, 4003, 4096, 4198, 4309, 4481, 4627, 4670, 4694, 4877, 5002,
5095, 5146, 5162, 5321, 5458, 5525, 5681, 5707, 5800, 5902, 6013, 6185, 6331, 6374, 6398, 6581,
6706, 6799
The analysis of individual carriers is not so important for reception measurements.
This is used primarily to set the modulation of DVB-T transmitters I/Q Imbalance.


Further Impulse Response Measurement Examples

The reception antenna is turned 90 away from the t ransmitter to achieve even worse reception
In order to display the near signal echo (green marker at 0,96s), which is larger than the main
carrier in a better fashion, the lowest horizontal spacing [Zoom] 20 and the lowest level range
[Lev.Range] -30dB have been selected.


When displaying the signal echo over the maximally possible range, one can now also see that
outside the guard interval the difference in the echo levels is also worse.
Compare to the display on page 6.

Possible Errors
The range of possible errors is very wide in DVB-T reception systems.
An antenna aligned for an optimal reception level does not automatically mean that the signal
will also be optimally received.
Especially in SFN nets (several transmitters with the same multiplex signal all on the same
frequency) one can encounter problems due to differences in propagation times.
In such a case one will have to align the antenna to effectively minimise the echos.

Infringing the Guard Interval

This occurs if larger echos exist outside the Guard Interval.
Such errors can occur if the noise ratio, the MER and the BER drop and in extreme cases can be seen
through such effects as stone-walled video and screen break-ups as one is at the limits of a decodable
signal. One taks here of the cliff-effect.
Guard interval infringement can also be seen when the outer points of a constellation
diagramme are larger than the inner points.

0dB Echo
When 2 or more Echos exist with the same level as the main carrier but with different
propagation times, then this will lead to synchronisation problems with some receivers. This is
particularly so when the 0dB echos are situated in the second half of the Guard Interval!
At Guard = 1/4 this is from 112s to 224s.

In an SFN net (single frequency net) reflections can also be displayed to the left of the main carrier
when one transmitter in the SFN net is nearer to the reception site than the main received transmitter.
These pre-echos should be >20dB below the main carrier.