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Fiber, copper, power build video network at Centennial High.

Described as "a showplace school," "an attractive technological masterpiece," and "the culmination of the dreams, plans and visions of hundreds of people," Centenial High School in Corona, Calif., incorporates virtually everything on a teacher's wish list.

One of the centerpieces of the Los Angeles-area school is its video information system (VIS). The VIS is said to be the most sophisticated education-related system of its kind in the country; a similar installation at the University of Pittsburgh is smaller.

Two of Corona's school officials were especially active in advocating that the students' communications needs be served with the most versatile, leading-edge technology available. One was Dr. David Miller, the principal of the $20-million school; the other was Tom Wilson, director-educational services, who was assigned to research equipment and technologies and create the basic system design.

Says Wilson, "The real star of Centennial's facilities is our VIS, backed by a state-of-the-art fiber-optic network. But we also have more traditional needs--for electrical power and voice communications.

"In addition to the fiber for its video and other versatile capabilities, we installed power wiring and copper twisted pair cable for voice.

"When Centennial opened in the fall of 1989, our campus was 154,000 square feet, and it's been growing ever since. That's a huge area to wire. But our contractor had the answer; he accommodated all three types of cabling in one installation, which also makes changes and expansion easy."

Corona Industrial Electric, Inc. specified a writing distribution system manufactured by The Wiremold Co. Surface raceway is installed on interior wall perimeters throughout Centennial's campus, carrying fiber, copper and power to classrooms and offices.

Wire and cable delivery

The surface raceway specified for Centennial H.S. is Wiremold two-piece metal raceway consisting of a base and cover combination. The base is mounted to walls; the snap-on cover encloses the lines once they're installed.

Such surface ducting makes wiring easily accessible for moves and changes. Metal accommodates greater capacity--such as Centennial's three systems--than plastic raceway, not to mention the importance of metal's durability in a school environment.

Made of glass, fiber-optic cable is immune to electrical interference and can live happily with power or copper wiring. But since electrical and copper voice systems will interfere with each other, the NEC requires these uses be separated. Separation is easily accomplished by using a snap-in divider designed for this purpose. G-4000 raceway was installed just above desk height in the school's computer laboratory, which is equipped with 25 Apple computers.

Video central

The heart of the VIS is the school's media center where filming studios, VCRs and videodisc players are located, as well as the computer processors used to control program transmissions. The VIS is networked to the media center's specialized equipment and to more than 100 room locations with fiber donated and installed by AT&T.

The links among the campus buildings tied to the VIS network are high-capacity Western Electric fiber-optic cables run through manhole conduits. Smaller-capacity fiber-optic cable is used within the media center and inside the other buildings in the network.

After AT&T crews joined the fiber ends to the connectors with epoxy, the cable was trimmed, and then hand polished to ensure clean, flush contacts. Inside the terminal boxes, cable slack up to two feet in length was secured on plastic ring holders, making not less than a 1.5 inch radius bend in the fibers.

The programmable classroom telephones can be limited to the local area or expanded to allow calls across the country. This means that every classroom potentially could be used for interactive satellite and microwave "distance-learning" activities.

"The application for social sciences alone is tremendous," says Dr. Miller. "Through our satellite dishes, our students can get viewpoints from Moscow, the Mideast, Britain and other parts of the world. A teacher can present various accent differences, for example, and allow students to contrast them."

Wideband transmission

The VIS incorporates a wide bandwidth switching system capable of accommodating large streams of information (up to 45 Mb per channel) and of enhancing the three major quality components of video signals: clarity of image, or resolution; color accuracy; and continuity of motion. The result is full-motion, full-color, high-quality video.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Fiber-Optic Networks; Corona, California high school's video information system
Publication:Communications News
Date:Dec 1, 1991
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