Two months before the completion of a new district office building for California’s Manteca Unified School District (MUSD) in the summer of 2008, a decision was made to install TVs for key administrators to stay informed on important matters affecting the 36 schools in the district. Making the project all the more challenging, the three-story building did not include an infrastructure for a TV system.
Enter Eric J. Marshall of E.R.I.C. Consulting from nearby Modesto, who specializes in designing technology structures for buildings and has provided consulting and design services for 12 MUSD school projects. One of those was the Mossdale K-8 School, which served as an example for the district office. Both facilities are in nearby Lathrop.
Like the district office project, Marshall was contracted after construction of Mossdale was well underway. In fact, three of the buildings on the school’s campus were already partially built and had a three-quarter-inch conduit infrastructure already installed.
Bottom line: Marshall was able to make significant upgrades to Mossdale’s technology infrastructure before the school’s completion in spring 2007. Two key elements of his solution were Sc/FTP cable from Siemon Cable and RF baluns from Lynx Broadband.
“The tools that helped my company get creative with both projects were hubs and baluns from Lynx Broadband,” Marshall said. “I used them before and found them to be extremely reliable because they’re well-designed and have no moving parts. They’re also easy to install on a rack in a wiring closet, where they convert television on coax to television on Cat 6A.”
The biggest difference between Mossdale and district office projects was how they each receive TV signals. The school uses Comcast cable TV that delivers 72 channels and requires a tuner at each teacher station for channel selection. However, cable is not available in the area of town where the new district office is located, so it uses satellite TV from DISH Network, which needs a receiver to unscramble channels and convert them to baseband video.
Delivering TV signals over data cable
The original plan at Mossdale, which was designed by an electrical engineer, called for Cat 5E cable to each room. The plan also included coaxial cable to a TV outlet for a wall-mounted TV monitor next to a whiteboard.
However, long after construction had begun, the district wanted to upgrade the video infrastructure plan and deliver TV signals through a computer at a teaching station in each classroom to the room’s A/V system. In addition, the district wanted to upgrade the data infrastructure to support 40 GB capability at a later date.
E.R.I.C. Consulting’s recommendation to use Cat 6A and Sc/FTP cabling allowed faster transmission speeds and the flexibility to modify teacher stations as technology changes. But the solution appeared to create another a major problem, namely pulling those two cables through the conduit that had already been installed left no room for coax cable to deliver TV signals.