Monday, September 29, 2008

Late night at the cable company

Tonight/Early Morning I'm working the late shift. Some people call it the third shift. Some call it the Graveyard shift. In our biz we call it "the maintenance window." When there is work to be done that will take down customers we try to schedule that work from the hours of 12:00 midnight to 5:00AM. In other systems that I've worked in, the headends (communications downlink center) have been manned 24/7. That is not the case here in Sun Valley. There are two of us here that run the headend and we both work M-F. Any work that needs to be done in the maintenance window requires one of us to get out of our cozy beds and head into work.

That's me tonight.

Simulated Cable Television Bucket Truck

Tonight's work requires the help of the Network Technician. These are guys that drive around in cool bucket trucks and work on the hard line. We are setting up return in several of our nodes so that customers will have a better experience with their High Speed Internet. The Network Technician booms up to the node, injects a signal that travels through the fiber optic cable back to my office that looks something like the picture below.

Simulated Cable Headend operations center.

I inspect the signal that the Network technician is sending back with a piece of equipment called a "Spectrum Analyzer." With this device I can measure the amplitude of the signal required by these devices below.

Simulated Return Receivers.

Once these levels are set up correctly for a given node the Network technician moves on to another node and the process starts again. Tonight we are doing 16 nodes. That's a lot of driving for the Network tech.

The picture above represents a typical HFC plant drawing. In the picture you will see everything originating at the Headend with homes being the end user.

Like I said before. This process means a lot of driving for the Network technician. This gives me time to look up cool pictures on the Internet like this one below.

Interesting to me is that I wound up in the communications field. I graduated from the University of Utah (Go Utes) with a teaching degree. Life's crossroads took me to this industry. I enjoy this biz very much having been in it now for nearly 20 years. I wonder from time to time about teaching and coaching in high school and if I would have been successful. Even without teaching for a living I benefited immensely from the education. I really don't dwell on it much though. I've always enjoyed the cable industry.

Well, Network guy is calling me on the phone again so I've got to get back to work!


Jeremy said...

Ah yes, the late shift.

I've always thought your headend job was intriguing...and confusing to us civilians.

Jessumca said...

you are so smart dad. plus also i loved that not so fun picture.