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Presentation_ID

2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

Downstream RF
Troubleshooting
Ron Hranac
Technical Leader, Broadband Network Engineering

Session Number
Presentation_ID

2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

CMTS Configuration

Check this firstincorrect CMTS


configuration is a very common problem!

Presentation_ID

2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

Digitally Modulated Carrier Amplitude


When measuring the
amplitude of a digitally
modulated carrier, make
certain you are
measuring its average
power level
Use test equipment that
performs automated
measurements, rather
than trying to make errorprone manual
measurements that
require bandwidth, IF
filter, log amplifier and
detection corrections
Presentation_ID

2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

Upconverter Setup

CMTS
44 MHz IF input to
upconverter
(typ. +25 dBmV to +35
dBmV)

44 MHz downstream
IF output
(e.g., +42 dBmV +/-2 dB)

Presentation_ID

Attenuator

2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

88-860 MHz downstream


RF output to CATV network
(+50 dBmV to +61 dBmV)

RF upconverter

CMTS Downstream IF Output

Measure the CMTSs downstream


intermediate frequency (IF) output level
Verify that the level meets the CMTS
manufacturers spec (e.g., +42 dBmV, +/-2
dB)

Presentation_ID

2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

Upconverter IF Input
Measure the IF input level to the external
upconverter
Refer to the upconverter manufacturers
specifications for the correct IF input level
Typically in the range of +25 dBmV to +35
dBmV
In most cases an in-line attenuator (pad) will
be required between the CMTS IF output and
upconverter IF input

Presentation_ID

2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

Upconverter Operating Parameters

Refer to the upconverter manufacturers


specifications for correct setup guidelines
IF and RF operating levels
IF AGC
Digital modulation versus analog modulation
Output frequency

Presentation_ID

2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

Upconverter Output Frequency


Digitally modulated carrier frequency is
usually defined by the channels center
frequency
For example, EIA channel 71 (504-510
MHz) has a center frequency of 507.0 MHz
Most upconverters display the desired
channels center frequency
An exception is the GI/Motorola C6Uits
frequency readout displays the equivalent
analog TV channel visual carrier frequency.
For example, Ch. 71 would be displayed as
505.25 MHz rather than 507.0 MHz.
Presentation_ID

2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

Upconverter RF Output

Measure the upconverters radio


frequency (RF) output level
DOCSIS specifies +50 dBmV to +61 dBmV
capability
Typical operation is in the +55 dBmV to
+58 dBmV range, just like a processor or
modulator

Presentation_ID

2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

10

Digitally Modulated Carrier Amplitude


Verify that the digitally modulated carriers
average power level is 6 dB to 10 dB below
the amplitude of what an analog TV
channel on the same frequency would be

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2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

11

QAM Analyzer

A QAM analyzer is a
good troubleshooting
tool
Most provide pre- and
post-FEC BER
measurements
MER also is available

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2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

12

QAM Analyzer
The constellation display
is perhaps a QAM
analyzers most useful
function
This is an example of a
good 256-QAM
constellation. The dot
clusters are tight and
well-defined, and are
located away from
decision boundaries. The
overall shape of the 256
dot clusters forms a
square.
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2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

13

QAM Analyzer
Use the QAM analyzer to check the CMTS
IF output, upconverter IF input, and
upconverter RF output: MER, pre- and
post-FEC BER and constellation
CMTS

Attenuator

Presentation_ID

2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

RF upconverter

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Modulation Error Ratio

Modulation error ratio (MER) is analogous


to baseband signal-to-noise ratio
The recommended minimum MER for
64-QAM is 27 dB
The recommended minimum MER for
256-QAM is 31 dB

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2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

15

Modulation Error Ratio


MER in the headendCMTS output,
upconverter input and output, and
downstream laser inputshould be in the
34 dB to 36 dB or greater range.

Presentation_ID

2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

16

Bit Error Rate


Ideally there should be no bit errors in the
downstream digitally modulated carrier
DOCSIS specifies the cable modem postFEC BER to be 1x10-8 or less

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2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

17

Sweep Transmitter Operation


Many cable operators use
broadband sweep equipment
for network maintenance.
Sweep transmitter interference to
downstream digitally modulated carriers is
a common problem. When it happens,
degraded BER performance occurs.
To avoid sweep interference problems,
make sure the sweep transmitter has
appropriate guard bands programmed
around each downstream digitally
modulated carrier.
Presentation_ID

2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

18

One More Thing to Check


Measure RF levels, MER and BER at the
downstream laser input, to make sure
other headend equipment such as
combining amplifiers havent impaired the
digitally modulated carrier
Verify that downstream laser transmitter
RF input levels are within spec
Excessive levels can cause downstream laser
clipping, which may not be visible in the
analog TV pictures. However, clipping will
degrade the downstream digitally modulated
carriers BER performance.
Presentation_ID

2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Still Having Problems?

If everything appears to check out OK in


the headend but cable modem operational
problems still exist in the field, it may be a
cable network problem
This can be verified by connecting the
CMTS to a six-foot plant

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2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Six-Foot Plant
CMTS

Upconverter

10 dB to
15 dB
atten.

+55 to +58 dBmV


RF output

30 dB
atten.

High

Low

30 dB
atten.

Diplex filter

Downstream

Upstream

+25 to +35 dBmV


I.F. input

Common

8-way splitter

10 dB
atten.

Cable modems
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2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

21

Still Having Problems?

If CMTS configuration
is correct and headend
problems have been
ruled out, its time to
move to the outside
plant.

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2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

22

Out in the Field


Go to the fiber node that
serves the affected area
and measure RF levels,
MER and BER, and look
for constellation
impairments. Problems
herebut not in the
headendsuggest
something may be amiss
in the downstream fiber
link.
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2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

23

Out in the Field


If everything checks out OK at the node,
go to an affected subscribers premises.
Measure RF levels, MER and BER, and
evaluate the constellation for impairments.

Presentation_ID

2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

24

Out in the Field

Verify that the amplitude (average power


level!) of the downstream digitally
modulated carrier at the cable modem
input is in the 15 dBmV to +15 dBmV
range.
The total RF powerthat is, the
contribution of the entire downstream RF
spectrumat the cable modem input must
be less than +30 dBmV .
Presentation_ID

2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

25

A Few Potential Problems


Improper RF levels
Poor carrier-to-noise ratio (the DOCSIS minimum
spec is 35 dB for both 64- and 256-QAM)
Loose or intermittent connections
Hum modulation (the DOCSIS maximum spec is
5%, or 26 dBc)
Ingress, impulse noise, spurious interference,
distortions
Microreflections (analogous to multipath or
ghosting in analog TV pictures)
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2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Something Else to Check


Poor in-channel
frequency response may
cause excessive group
delay, which will degrade
BER performance.
Set the spectrum
analyzer to 3 dB/division
and place the top of the
carrier in an upper
graticule. Set RBW to 30
kHz, VBW to 1 kHz, and
turn on video averaging.
The analyzer will display
approximate in-channel
frequency response.
Presentation_ID

2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

The DOCSIS 1.1 spec for in-channel


frequency response (amplitude ripple)
is 3 dB. This is an example of good
frequency response.
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DOCSIS 1.0 Downstream RF Channel


Transmission Characteristics
Parameter

Value

Frequency range

Cable system normal downstream operating


range is from 50 MHz to as high as 860 MHz.
However, the values in this table apply only at
frequencies >= 88 MHz.
6 MHz
<=0.800 msec (typically much less)

RF channel spacing (design bandwidth)


Transit delay from headend to most distant
customer
Carrier-to-noise ratio in a 6 MHz band (analog
video level)
Carrier-to-interference ratio for total power
(discrete and broadband ingress signals)
Composite triple beat distortion for analog
modulated carriers
Composite second order distortion for analog
modulated carriers
Cross-modulation level
Amplitude ripple
Group delay ripple in the spectrum occupied by
the CMTS
Micro-reflections bound for dominant echo

Carrier hum modulation


Burst noise
Seasonal and diurnal signal level variation
Maximum analog video carrier level at the CM
input, inclusive of above signal level variation
Lowest analog video carrier level at the CM
input, inclusive of above signal level variation
Presentation_ID

2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

Not less than 35 dB (Note 4)


Not less than 35 dB within the design
bandwidth
Not greater than 50 dBc within the design
bandwidth
Not greater than 50 dBc within the design
bandwidth
Not greater than 40 dBc within the design
bandwidth
0.5 dB within the design bandwidth
75 ns within the design bandwidth
-10 dBc@ <= 0.5 sec
-15 dBc@ <= 1.0 sec
-20 dBc@ <= 1.5 sec
-30 dBc@ > 1.5 sec
Not greater than 26 dBc (5%)
Not longer than 25 sec at a 10 Hz average
rate
8 dB
17 dBmV
-5 dBmV

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DOCSIS 1.0 Electrical Input to Cable


Modem

Parameter

Value

Center Frequency
Level Range (one channel)
Modulation Type
Symbol Rate (nominal)

91 to 857 MHz, 30 kHz


-15 dBmV to +15 dBmV
64-QAM and 256-QAM
5.056941 Msym/sec (64-QAM) and
5.360537 Msym/sec (256-QAM)
6 MHz (18% Square Root Raised Cosine
shaping for 64-QAM and 12% Square Root
Raised Cosine shaping for 256-QAM)
< 30 dBmV
75 ohms
> 6 dB (88-860 MHz)
F connector per [IPS-SP-406] (common with
the output)

Bandwidth

Total Input Power (40-900 MHz)


Input (load) Impedance
Input Return Loss
Connector

Presentation_ID

2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

29

DOCSIS 1.1 Downstream RF Channel


Transmission Characteristics
Parameter

Value

Frequency range

Cable system normal downstream operating range is from 50 MHz to as high


as 860 MHz. However, the values in this table apply only at frequencies >=
88 MHz.
6 MHz
<=0.800 msec (typically much less)

RF channel spacing (design bandwidth)


Transit delay from headend to most distant
customer
Carrier-to-noise ratio in a 6 MHz band
Carrier-to-Composite triple beat distortion ratio
Carrier-to-Composite second order distortion
ratio
Carrier-to-Cross modulation ratio
Carrier-to-any other discrete interference
(ingress)
Amplitude ripple
Group delay ripple in the spectrum occupied
by the CMTS
Micro-reflections bound for dominant echo

Carrier hum modulation


Burst noise
Maximum analog video carrier level at the CM
input
Maximum number of analog carriers

Presentation_ID

Not less than 35 dB


Not less than 41 dB
Not less than 41 dB
Not less than 41 dB
Not less than 41 dB
3 dB within the design bandwidth
75 ns within the design bandwidth
-10 dBc@ <= 0.5 sec
-15 dBc@ <= 1.0 sec
-20 dBc@ <= 1.5 sec
-30 dBc@ > 1.5 sec
Not greater than 26 dBc (5%)
Not longer than 25 sec at a 10 Hz average rate
17 dBmV
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2001, Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

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DOCSIS 1.1 Electrical Input to Cable


Modem

Parameter

Value

Center Frequency
Level Range (one channel)
Modulation Type
Symbol Rate (nominal)

91 to 857 MHz, 30 kHz


-15 dBmV to +15 dBmV
64-QAM and 256-QAM
5.056941 Msym/sec (64-QAM) and
5.360537 Msym/sec (256-QAM)
6 MHz (18% Square Root Raised Cosine
shaping for 64-QAM and 12% Square Root
Raised Cosine shaping for 256-QAM)
< 30 dBmV
75 ohms
> 6 dB (88-860 MHz)
F connector per [ISO-169-24] (common with
the output)

Bandwidth

Total Input Power (40-900 MHz)


Input (load) Impedance
Input Return Loss
Connector

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