Philips PM5544

Summary

The Philips PM5544 is a television pattern generator,[1] most commonly used to provide a television station with a complex test card commonly referred to as a Philips Pattern or PTV Circle pattern. The content and layout of the pattern was designed by Danish engineer Finn Hendil (da; 1939–2011) in the Philips TV & Test Equipment laboratory in Brøndby Municipality near Copenhagen under supervision of chief engineer Erik Helmer Nielsen in 1966–67. The equipment, the PM5544 Test Pattern Generator,[2] which generates the pattern, was made by engineer Finn Hendil and his group in 1968–69.[3] The same team would also develop the Spanish TVE colour test card in 1973.[4][5]

Philips PM5544 generator used to display test pattern on a CRT television set, connected to an oscilloscope
Recreation of Philips PM5544 television test pattern

Since the widespread introduction of the PM5544 from the early-1970s, the Philips Pattern has become one of the most commonly used test cards, with only the SMPTE and EBU colour bars as well as the BBC's Test Card F coming close to its usage.

The Philips PM5544 pattern was later incorporated into other test pattern generators from Philips itself, as well as test pattern generators from various other manufacturers. Various configurations and modifications exist.[6] Other related test card generators and patterns by Philips are the PM5400 family (with support for widescreen and PALplus),[7][8] PM5515/16/18,[9] PM5519,[10] PM5520 (monochrome),[11][12][13] PM5522 (PAL),[11] PM5534,[14][15] PM5538[16] (see section below), PM5540 (monochrome), PM5543, PM5547,[17] PM5552, PM5643, PM5644 (widescreen, see section below) and PM5572/73/74.[18][1]

OperationEdit

 
Components of the PM5544 pattern

Rather than previous test card approaches that worked by a camera or monoscope filming a printed card, the Philips PM5544 generates the test patterns fully using electronic circuits, with separate paths for Y, R-Y and B-Y colour components[2] (Y′UV), allowing engineers to reliably test and adjust transmitters and receivers for signal disturbances and colour separation, for instance for PAL broadcasts.

In simple terms, the displayed pattern provides reference levels of black, white and colour saturation, to which a receiver can be set. Displayed image geometry (image centering, correct proportions of the circle, etc.) can also be corrected. More technical adjustments are also possible.

Main technical features of the test card:[1]

  • Circle with b/w and colour information
    • Square wave - Repeating black and white (75% amplitude) blocks (same amplitude as the color bar);
    • Colour bar - Yellow, cyan, green, magenta, red and blue with 100% saturation and 75% amplitude (EBU colour bars);
    • Crossed lines - at the center of the circle, they allow to check for proper interlace;
    • Definition lines - sine wave gratings with TV line frequencies corresponding to 0.8, 1.8, 2.8, 3.8 and 4.8 MHz;
    • Stair case - grayscale with 6 levels (can display up to 10);
    • White black step with needle pulse;
    • Colour step - Red on yellow background colours, 75% amplitude;
  • To the left of the Circle:
    • Vertical bar - line alternating positive and negative R-Y signal;
    • Vertical bars - positive and negative R-Y signal;
    • Two rectangles - G-Y signal;
  • To the right of the Circle:
    • Vertical bar - line alternating positive and negative B-Y signal;
    • Vertical bars - positive and negative B-Y signal;
    • Two rectangles - G-Y signal;
  • Background:
    • Grid - made from 14 horizontal x 19 vertical lines;
    • Background Level - adjustable between 0 to 80% amplitude;
    • B/W border castellations;

VariationsEdit

While the basic specifications of PM5544 normally remain consistent, there are often small variations to the Philips Pattern depending on the brand and type of generator used to produce it, as well as how the broadcaster has chosen to configure it. Some television stations have included a digital clock and/or date, as well as the station logo or ID, inside the "circle" of the PM5544 test card. This practice is common in Asia and in some parts of Europe, as well as in South Africa.

SECAMEdit

The Philips PM5544 pattern is geared towards the PAL colour-coding system, but SECAM versions exist (for example, it was used by TVP in Poland and TDF in France, without side bars, and by ERT in Greece, with side bars). The most obvious difference is the absence of PAL specific test features (to two normally invisible outmost vertical bars). Less noticeable is the change to the multiburst gratings, due to the different TV system.

NTSCEdit

Likewise, there are 512-lines NTSC versions of the pattern. One of the NTSC variants, used in Philippines, Taiwan, Haiti and Japan (by NHK, with the multiburst portion slightly modified for NTSC-J), has the checkerboard pattern near the top of the circle at 300 kHz and the multiburst gratings at 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0 MHz. (WNYW's configuration simply removed the side colour bars.) A second variation, used by CBC Montreal in Canada, had different gratings and added extra colour bars.

PM5644 (widescreen)Edit

A widescreen-capable Philips Pattern generator, the PM5644 PALplus test pattern generator,[19] was introduced by Philips in the 1990s and featured support for the emerging PALplus widescreen standard. This version of the test card retains the signals present in the original, and features additional signals to test signal and picture quality, including Television lines resolution and correct overscan and image centering. As with PM5544, the widescreen Philips Pattern was adopted by various other manufacturers of test pattern generators (ex: Fluke PM5420).[20]

It was used by broadcasters such as RAI (Italy),[21] BRT (Belgium),[22][21] RTL-TVI (Belgium/Luxembourg),[23] Ned3 (Netherlands),[24] TVE (Spain), 2RN (Ireland)[25] and KNR TV (Greenland).[26]

PM5538Edit

A squared version of the Philips PM5544 test pattern, called PM5538, was used by some stations in some parts of the Middle East like Dubai 33[27] and Jordan Radio and Television Corporation (JRTV) in Jordan.[citation needed]

GB2097 inspection chartEdit

China Central Television and some provincial broadcasters used a heavily modified version of the PM5544 called the GB2097 inspection chart.[28][29]

Variation galleryEdit

Worldwide usageEdit

PAL broadcastsEdit

Many broadcasters that adopted the 625-line PAL system used some form of the Philips PM5544 pattern.

AfricaEdit

In South Africa, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)[30][31] made use of the PM5544 pattern since they started testing their first television system in 1975, but independent broadcasters M-Net, which launched in 1986, and e.tv, which launched in 1998, opted to use Telefunken FuBK instead.

In Zimbabwe, the PM5544 was used by Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC)[32] from the start of its regular colour broadcasts in the early-1980s, replacing the Indian-head test pattern.

In Niger, the PM5544 was used by Télé Sahel.[33]

In Western Sahara, the PM5544 was used by RASD TV.

The PM5544 was also used in Algeria,[34] and Kuwait.[35]

AsiaEdit

The PM5544 test card was first introduced by Radio Television Singapore (RTS; now Mediacorp) (in conjunction with a modified version of Test Card F) upon the start of regular colour broadcasts in Singapore in 1974.[36][37][38]

The PM5544 was later introduced in Malaysia by its public broadcaster Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM)[39][40] during its introduction of regular colour broadcasts in 1978–1980, replacing the monochrome Pye Test Card G, and was also used by said country's first commercial station TV3 from the launch of its television service in 1984 until it switched to a 24/7 schedule in 2014.[41]

The PM5544 was also used by the Indonesian national TV broadcaster TVRI, replacing its previous Telefunken FuBK test card, from the mid-1980s until it switched to a 24/7 schedule in 2021.[42]

In the People's Republic of China, the PM5544 was used by its national broadcaster CCTV[43] as well as some provincial/regional broadcasters such as Shenzhen Media Group[44] and Television Southern[45] in Guangdong Province, Xizang STV[46] in Tibet Autonomous Region, Yuyao TV in Zhejiang Province and Ningxia Television[47] in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. CCTV also later used a heavily modified version of the PM5544 called the GB2097 inspection chart.[28][29] Nowadays, many modern Mainland Chinese test card designs, like in Hong Kong, incorporate elements of the PM5544, PM5644 and Snell & Wilcox test card designs. In Hong Kong, the PM5544 was used by RTV/ATV[48][49] and TVB[50][51][52] from the 1970s (replacing the RMA 1946 Resolution Chart and EIA 1956 resolution chart) until approximately 2007–2009. TVB then switched to its own test card designs incorporating elements of the PM5544, PM5644 and Snell & Wilcox SW2 designs.

In Israel, the PM5544 was used by Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA)[53] and Israeli Educational Television (IETV) from their launch of colour broadcasts in the early-1980s, replacing its previous monochrome Philips PM5540 test card after a nearly decade-long delay in introducing colour television to said country for various sociopolitical reasons.

In Qatar, the PM5544 was used by Qatar TV.[54][55]

Saudi Broadcasting Authority (SBA) in Saudi Arabia used a heavily modified version of the Philips PM5544 pattern from 1982 until 2009, with the side "brackets" removed and 1/4 of the top half of the PM5544 "circle" replaced with a white and black background and colour bars.[56]

OceaniaEdit

The PM5544 was also in widespread use in Australia for many years, most notably with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)[57] from its launch of colour broadcasts in 1974–75 and Special Broadcasting Service (SBS)[58] from its launch of television services in 1980. Some commercial stations also used it.[59][60]

In New Zealand, it was used by TVNZ[61] from its launch of colour broadcasting in 1973.[62]

EuropeEdit

In Denmark, where the PM5544 was invented, it was used by its national broadcaster Danmarks Radio (DR) from its launch of regular colour broadcasts in 1970,[63] immediately replacing Test Card F and Philips PM5552,[64] and later on the monochrome Pye Test Card G and Philips PM5540; as well as its first nationwide commercial channel TV 2 during its pre-launch tests and its downtime hours and subsequently also on most of the latter's regional and themed channels.[65] DR, TV 2 and TV 2 Film also later used the widescreen PM5644 for widescreen broadcasts from the 1990s. In Greenland, the PM5544 are used by its public broadcaster Kalaallit Nunaata Radioa (KNR) since its launch of television services in 1982. A modified variant of the PM5644 is used by the Faroese public broadcaster Kringvarp Føroya (KvF) alongside the EBU colour bars during off-air hours.[66]

The BBC in the United Kingdom occasionally used a slightly modified version called Test Card G[67] from 1971 until the late-1990s, in conjunction with Test Card F. The Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) initially used this card in the 1970s, also in conjunction with Test Card F, but eventually abandoned Test Card G and developed a unique test card called the ETP-1, which was brought into use on ITV from 1979 onwards.[68] However, London Weekend Television (LWT)[69] and ITV Channel Television[citation needed], two constituent franchisee companies in the ITV network structure, continued to use Test Card G well into the 1980s and 1990s.

The PM5544 was also used by Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ)[70] in the Republic of Ireland (in conjunction with the EBU colour bars shown after the Irish national anthem was played at closedown) from the start of its regular colour broadcasts in 1972.[71]

In the DACH countries, the PM5544 test card was used by the German commercial terrestrial channel RTL[72] and the German public-service channel Phoenix.[73][74] The Austrian public broadcaster ORF used a slightly modified version of the PM5544.[75] Use of the PM5544 in the DACH was solely confined to these broadcasters, as most TV stations in these areas instead preferred to use the Telefunken FuBK test card when they adopted colour television.

In Italy, its national broadcaster RAI[76] introduced the PM5544 test card in 1977 at the same time as it launched its first regular colour broadcasts, replacing heavily modified versions of the Indian-head test pattern. Later on, RAI then used the PM5644 widescreen variation for PALplus broadcasts. Telefriuli also used a heavily modified version of the PM5544 in the 1980s.[77]

In Spain, the PM5544 was introduced by the various autonomous and private channels[26] in the early-1980s notably by TV3, El 33, Telemadrid, Antena 3, EITB and Canal+ Spain, as well as on point-to-point terrestrial and satellite links operated by Retevisión and Telefónica Sistemas de Satélites. Spain's national public broadcaster TVE however instead primarily used its own TVE colour test card from 1975 until the mid-2000s, although in the 1990s it did also briefly used the widescreen PM5644 pattern.

In Iceland, the PM5544 was used by its national broadcaster RÚV[78][79] from its launch of colour broadcasts in 1973–76, only fully replacing its heavily modified monochrome Philips PM5540 test card after 1982. RÚV subsequently replaced its PM5544 with a widescreen PM5644 in 2009, then discontinued all their on-air test card broadcasts in 2011. However, the privately owned subscription channels Stöð 2, launched in 1986, and Sjónvarp Símans, launched in 1999, opted not to use the PM5544.

In the former SFR Yugoslavia, the PM5544 was used by its national broadcaster Yugoslav Radio Television (JRT)[80] in conjunction with the Telefunken FuBK test card. Use of the PM5544 continued for some time afterwards in some of its constituent successor countries.

The PM5544 was also used in Hungary,[81] Belgium,[82][83] Netherlands,[84][85][86][87] Norway,[88][89] and Sweden.[90]

South AmericaEdit

In Argentina, the PM5544 was used by América TV,[91] El Nueve[92] and El Trece.

SECAM broadcastsEdit

SECAM users of the Philips PM5544 test card included TDF (TF1, Antenne 2, FR3,[93] Canal+,[94] La Cinquième and M6[95]) in France, Iraqi TV[96] in Iraq, VTV[97] in Vietnam, bTV[98] in Bulgaria and SNRT[99] in Morocco. ERT[100] in Greece and TVP[101] in Poland started using the PM5544 for SECAM transmissions since the 1970s and continued using it after switching to PAL in the 1990s.[102]

NTSC broadcastsEdit

NTSC users of the Philips PM5544 test card included CBFT[103] and CBMT[104][105] in Quebec, Canada, WBOY-TV and WNYW[106] in the United States, DZBB-TV in the Philippines, Myawaddy TV in Myanmar, KBS and MBC[107] in South Korea, TTV,[108] CTV,[109] CTS[110] and FTV[111] in Taiwan and RTNH in Haiti.[112][113] The Japanese national broadcaster, NHK, also used a 525-line version of the test card, albeit with slight technical differences as compared to those used by the American and Canadian broadcasters so as to conform with the NTSC-J system.[114]

Usage galleryEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit

  • Philips TV Measuring Equipment, 1980
  • Technical information on the PM5544 test card
  • Jerome Glick : Test Cards & Signals