Useful Tools for Testing Plasma Panels

Useful Tools for Testing Plasma Panels

To run a full battery of signals through these plasma panels (not to mention to take measurements with any accuracy), I requested and received the assistance of several companies whose products made my job easier:

PTV Technologies (Mahwah, NJ) is the successor company to Philips TV Test Equipment and distributor of Philips’ Model 5639 Color Analyzer. This handheld measurement tool is a must when calibrating and measuring the performance of any monitor — CRT, LCD, or plasma. The analyzer head is nestled in a suction cup that sticks to the monitor face, and you can measure brightness in foot-Lamberts (ft/L), nits, and candelas per square meter (cd/m2). Color temperature readings are based on the CIE system and use x, y, z coordinates. With this instrument and access to a monitor’s drive controls, you can set the desired white balance in short order. You also can set the instrument to read out standard color temperature values, such as 6500K or 9300K. Model 5639 Color Analyzer price: $6,175.

Sencore Technologies (Sioux Falls, SD) makes the DTV995 and DTV996 HDTV servers, which can be found in various booths at some of the major trade shows. These products are actually small computers with HDTV program content stored on a hard drive. The output signal on the DTV995 is 1080i, 8VSB, while the DTV996 supports 1080i and 720p, 8VSB. Connect the RF-output connector to a set-top decoder and you’ve got an HDTV source for testing monitors and projectors. The program content varies but consists of several nature and scenic programs produced by HD Vision in Dallas. The DTV995 price: $5,495; and the DTV996 price: $6,995.

Extron Electronics (Anaheim, CA) provided the 128VHA 12-by-8 CrossPoint switcher. This box, which looks like a maze of BNC connectors, actually contains independent buffer amplifiers for each of five channels (Red, Green, Blue, Horizontal Sync, and Vertical Sync), and you can assign a connector on any input to any output, or pair them as needed. In addition, each BNC is a full-bandwidth channel that can be used for switching composite, Y/C, or YUV video plus Y/Pb/Pr/RGsB HDTV. I used this device as my switchboard to distribute signals to the six plasma panels from a DVD player, three scalars, the Sencore server, an Extron VTG200 test pattern generator, and my desktop PC. The 128VHA price: $7,295.

RGB Spectrum (Alameda, CA) sent the Variable Line Interpolator (VLI-200), a device that converts composite or S-Video signals to RGBHV output. It offers several preprogrammed output scan rates (VGA, SVGA, XGA, and SXGA), and you can program your own horizontal and vertical refresh rates, which is a big helping hand when you are driving 16:9 plasma screens. Other available adjustments include a digital zoom and position control, full contrast/brightness/color/sharpness adjustments, and full RS-232 control of all functions and programming. The VLI-200 price: $13,495.

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