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Good Sound and Pictures Rely on Well-Grounded Systems


January 2015


Testing a ground at the site of the big game with a Fluke 1630 Earth Ground Clamp Meter

Quality audio begins at the source, where technicians use their skills to record rich, accurate sounds before they rock your HDTV audio system during a Super Bowl live broadcast. The same goes for the quality of the pictures captured by TV cameras and transmitted around the world.

But if you hear some annoying buzz in the audio or see noise in the picture, often such issues can be traced to how well the audio/video systems at event sites are grounded.

Earth grounding, electricians know, is a critical part of the system.

Outside University of Phoenix Stadium, host site of Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Ariz., electricians and engineers for WBL Services are testing all the grounds to make sure they're solid. They are using a Fluke 1630 Earth Ground Clamp Meter to handle the task.

“When you’re dealing with sensitive electronic equipment, we want all of the potential of the trailers to be equal,” said Shane Conner, a WBL contractor and owner of his own Lebanon, Ind., electrical systems company. “That’s the big thing about grounding. It’s all about difference of potential so this would help us monitor whatever extra grounding we might need to do to each individual trailer or individual.”

Testing a ground at the site of the big game with a Fluke 1630 Earth Ground Clamp Meter

Grounding is the reference point, a place to start when building a reliable system. WBL workers check for errant current so that the company's telecommunications and networking equipment, much of it housed in racks inside trailers outside the stadium, doesn't impact any of the broadcasts or other communications emitting from the stadium.

Even a half of volt coming from ground can make a difference.

"When we ground or rack, we want our resistance to be the same outside of the ground. We don't want any difference of potential there. We reference everything to ground. So we're referencing 120 volts to ground at the trailer."

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