January 2009 Newsletter
SBE Chapter 48 / SMPTE Rocky Mountain Section
December 2008 Meeting Report
SBE Chapter 48 Honors Dr. Byron St. Clair with
Lifetime Achievement Award
Date: Friday, December 12, 2008
Time: 11:30AM to 1:00PM
Location: Park Hill Golf Club, 4141 E. 35th Avenue, Denver, CO 80207
Topic: Annual Holiday Luncheon / SBE48 Lifetime Award
Few people have achieved the rank of "legend" in the Broadcast Industry. Folks who have, in no small part, been instrumental in bringing us technology that shaped the way in which programming is created or brought to our homes. On December 12th, 2008 at the annual Holiday Luncheon,. SBE Chapter 48 recognized one those legends: Dr. Byron St. Clair, by presenting him the annual Chapter Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is the Chapter‚s recognition to those in the Rocky Mountain Region who have made significant contributions to the Broadcast Industry and our community.
Dr. St. Clair was instrumental in developing FCC‚s Part 74 rules regarding Translators, LPTV and Class A for Analog Transmission and continues his work in the rules regarding digital transmission. He is founder and current President of N.T.A .ˆ National Translator Association. Dr St. Clair is also the founder of T.T.C., Television Technology Corporation. The firm was later sold it to its current owner: Larcan Corporation. He continues as a consultant for Larcan and works as a consulting engineer providing filing and engineering studies for high power and low power stations.
Our sincere thanks to Dr. St. Clair for his diligence and efforts throughout his distinguished career.
Award presented to Dr. Byron St. Clair by Scott Barella SBE Chapter 48 Chair
Report by Rome Chelsi
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Random Radio Thoughts
Cris Alexander, CPBE, AMD
Crawford Broadcasting Company
The “Qwest” for a Stable T1
Last month, our Denver engineering crew began to have trouble with the point-to-point T1 line between the studios and the KLTT transmitter site out near Barr Lake (144th & Piccadilly). This is a long circuit with several spans and a lot of equipment. It has been in service as the KLTT STL since January of 1996 or so and is usually very reliable, so this was something new. The problem was in the outbound part of the circuit, and it was evidently tied to outside air temperature. When the temp dropped into the 20s and it was dark outside, the trouble would come like clockwork.
Amanda would call Qwest, and they would test the circuit… but not usually before 8:00 AM. By then, even if it was still cold, the sun would be shining and the problem would be gone. “The circuit tests okay. The problem must be in your equipment.” Amanda did that frustrating dance time and time again over a two-week period. She tried to tell them the relationship between outside air temperature, light condition and the trouble, but they wouldn’t listen.
One cold evening, just a few minutes after sunset, the problem came back. Amanda called Qwest and somehow got them to test at that hour (5:00 PM or thereabouts). There was a problem, they said, so they dispatched a tech. I went with Amanda to the KLTT transmitter site where we sat around until nearly 10:00 PM before the tech finally arrived. I had my EZ Tester (T1 test set) plugged in and showing errors. He plugged his in and saw the same errors. He then looped up the last repeater in the span and the line went clean. The problem was upstream of there.
Over the next few hours, the tech and folks in the test center continued troubleshooting and finally located a splice in a manhole near downtown Denver where mice had gotten in and chewed up the cable. They fixed that and called the T1 repaired. Great, we thought! It’s about time. Amanda switched KLTT back onto the T1 from the ISDN backup and all was well… until just after sunset.
That was when the problem came back again. Using our T1 tester, we were able to loop up various parts of the span and determine that the problem was still out on the other end, near Brighton. By now, we had Qwest’s attention and they had assigned someone from their chronic trouble department (I didn’t know Qwest had a chronic trouble department!), so we had an inside person that we could contact at will and get a quick test and, if necessary, dispatch. I was personally involved at this point because we had lost a good bit of billing because of the audio dropouts. So I called our contact and convinced her of the relationship of the problem to cold and light conditions.
We were “blessed” with a couple of days of very cold (sub-zero) temperatures, so the problem came and stayed. With it so cold, it didn’t take the Qwest tech all that long to find the problem, an intermittent card in the Brighton slick, where the fiber optic cable changes to copper. That card was changed and the problem disappeared. It has not troubled us since.
Evidently, this card was in an outdoor enclosure. When it got cold, it would fail. When the sun shone on the cabinet, even if it was still cold outside, it elevated the internal temperature enough that it would start working again. On cold days, as soon as the sun began to set, it would fail again.
The reality is, had Qwest listened to Amanda in the first place, the trouble would likely have been located and fixed long before it was.
KLVZ Ground System
Last month, the crew of GRB Construction wrapped up the new ground system at the KLVZ daytime site just north of Brighton. You might recall that the ground system had been stolen from the site, from the radial ends all the way back to the tower bases, back in October. New radials were plowed in deep (12 inches), and new screens were laid and blacktopped over. There is very little exposed copper – just the straps at the tower bases – left to steal. This month, we hope to get the electric fence wires installed inside the base fences and to get the alarm system on the base fences installed.
Some good news is that the “Ft. Lupton Copper Thief” has been caught. Fox31 reported that another nearby business who had been having trouble with copper wire theft installed a camouflage “game trail” camera and caught images of the thieves. The Weld Co. Sheriff’s Department released the photos on a “wanted” poster and within a few days, the thief turned himself in and ratted out his partner. We can’t prove that this was our guy (he denies involvement with the KLVZ thefts – surprise!), but we think it’s him. In any event, the word has got to be out that copper theft in that particular area is not the free ride that it once was. With all our cameras, signage, alarms and other security measures, we hope to send copper thieves on down the road to lower hanging fruit.
Moment method modeling for AM directional antenna performance verification has been incorporated into the FCC rules and these will go into effect next month. A “petition for partial reconsideration” has been filed by a Washington consulting firm, but this is unlikely to gain any traction because it addresses issues that are part of the construction permit process, not the performance verification (“proof”) process to which the new rules apply.
The SBE Education Committee has published an online AM antenna modeling course, and that course if now available on the SBE website. Click Education, Seminars and then click the link for the AM Antenna Modeling Course.
This month, at least two other courses will be released: FM Transmission Systems, and Matching Networks and Phasing. We also have in the works courses on DTV, Broadcast Telephony, and Broadcast IT. Keep an eye on the SBE website for more releases.
If you have news to share with the Rocky Mountain radio engineering community, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The KE0VH Hamshack
Greetings to all, Happy New Year, and I hope you had a wonderful and blessed Christmas holiday time!
My ham radio adventures have been limited over the past couple of months with the holidays and all going on at work. And, I have been doing a lot of flight simming with my MS Flight Simulator 2004 software that my sweet wife bought for me! It is lots of fun flying the airplanes around the different scenery available online and by order. I have the Denver Megascenery software that looks so real it is like flying around Denver and into the mountains. I will have more to say on this later, even though it is not really ham radio related.
We are getting ready to implement the Personal People Meter system over the next couple of months and are putting together the plans for this system to integrate to our audio paths and systems here at Entercom Denver. I will report on it as time progresses.
Another adventure that I could do without though, is during my hikes up Mount Bierstadt and Mount Lincoln that I reported on earlier here in the newsletter, I have evidently severely sprained my right ankle, and it is in a support even as we type here. As I hiked Mount Bierstadt back in July, I must have strained it even though there were no indications at the time. Then a couple of weeks before the hike up Mount Lincoln and the operation of ham radio from the mountain top for the Colorado 14’er event, I had a pop in my ankle and had some soreness, but it abated before the hike up Mount Lincoln, and I continued on with those plans. Probably shouldn’t have done that. A couple of weeks later, I was walking in my house and my ankle went out, and I had some pretty rough swelling. So now, I have not one, but 2 very severe sprains and injuries to my ankle that will probably curtail any hiking for a year. My doctor, himself completing the last of the 52 14’ers this year, is looking after me and certainly wants to help me get the ankle totally well. But, the big and main issue is of course that I not permanently damage my ankle so bad that it gives me trouble for life. With that, I wonder what my hiking future looks like. And I certainly don’t want to impair mobility later in life. After the ankle is healed, it will be on to physical therapy to get the ankle back to full strength before I even ask the doctor about total healing.
With the help of my friend and boss Jeff, KEØMT, we were able to restore my old Zenith Transoceanic H-500 back to full operation. Turns out the silicon rectifier went bad, and took out a couple of tubes with it. So we checked those tubes on his tube tester which I am really glad he has available and sure enough, I needed to replace the audio amp tube and IF tube. Jeff restores old radios and ham transmitters for fun and it sure is fun to watch him take clip leads and a meter and start troubleshooting these fine old rigs. But now, I have a beautiful old 1950’s vintage TO back in operation and sounding wonderful. The next project in this line is an even older model TO from the 1940’s that needs some new tubes and TLC.
In December, I had a couple of really great long QSO’s with our friend Kenny, K4KR, back in the Chattanooga Tennessee area. Now, what makes this great is that 20 meters has been very dead lately as we all are aware of on HF. But the path from my house to Kenny in Chickamauga Georgia was great on a couple of middays when I had time off and Kenny was around his shack. We even exchanged some SSTV pictures using the MMSSTV software (free at mmhamsoft.amateur-radio.ca/mmsstv/) using the computers soundcard and quickly set up software. I have been wanting to do this for a long time and Kenny and I had good paths from here to there, so we had a lot of fun!
Well that about covers it for this month. I hope you all have a prosperous and great 2009! I sure hope the sunspot cycle heads up here soon so that more HF contacts can be made. Sure has been quiet on the bands lately. And, I am really looking forward to some summertime 6 meter propagation and operating 6 meters with a direction antenna this year. I am getting ready to build a 6 meter moxon antenna and get the rotor up for that. I will report more on that later too here.
73’ es Happy New Year!
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Featuring News, Rumors and Views
From Usually Reliable and Irrefutable Sources
By Clay Freinwald
SBE Seattle Chapter 16
Well we made it, perhaps by the skin of our teeth, but 2008 is behind us. As we look ahead into this new year the majority of us have one thing on our mind …Borrowing the often heard phrase - – The economy stupid. It’s a scary time for a lot of folks these days. Newspapers are really hurting, so are TV and Radio stations – Here are some snippets from this past month –
Locally the owners of TV Channels 13 and 22, Tribune, have filed chapter 11. Working there has got to be filled with apprehension. It just so happens that the station’s owners also are in the newspaper business…Not a good time.
Fisher has announced what they call ‘aggressive steps’ to deal with the issue, including, a 10% reduction in work-force, wage freeze, suspended 401K match, no bonuses to upper management etc. In the meantime, Fisher and the Dish Network are involved with a law suit. Whereas this is a sensitive local issue, I will let you read about this item elsewhere.
In order to become more lean, Cox, owner of KIRO-TV here, announced that they are combining their Radio, TV and Newspaper operations. Rumors are that they may sell selected stations.
CBS experienced a layoff leaving them with just two Engineers, Tom McGinley and Arne Skoog. The axe fell in programming with the elimination of long time announcer, Steve Slaton.
A really good, well written, piece about the state of the Radio industry can be found in the latest Radio World Engineering Extra authored by the famous Guy Wire. I came away wondering just what Radio will look like in the not to distant future. Will radio become just a collection of computers generating programming with a sales department selling spots with accounting and engineering contracted out? Just how much can an industry be cut back before it loses the elements that have made it successful for all these years? Some predictors are saying that Radio revenues are going to be down about 25 % or at levels not seen in years.
The Washington State budget crisis has caused the axe to swing in the direction of KVTI at Clover Park Technical College. Slashed is their hope to put HD Radio on the air, instead they are looking at using their already purchased transmitter as an FM Auxiliary. Station manager and instructor, John Mangan, is clearly worried about the future of the station and its related instructional program.
At the national level….NPR has cut its staff by 7%
I’ve recently read reports that some stations have asked the FCC to remain dark due to the bad economy. No word on what the FCC said to that.
On the TV side, will stations eliminate all live programming except for news (not that this has not already happened) and will they simply become program generation entities that feed distribution systems eliminating the need for those transmitters, towers and antenna…and will they, like Radio, simply contract for repair services in the same manner as they do now for printers and copy machines?
Would Sumner Redstone sell CBS? That’s the question being raised from time to time as the media head is impacted by the financial turmoil. Rumors are that he would first try and sell his theatre chain. He did get some relief from selling his interest in a game maker.
For newspapers the situation appears to be just as bad, if not worse. Our local papers have seen large layoffs and reductions in paper size. In one case, this in Detroit, the newspaper there is reducing their home delivery to just 3 days a week, of course, Detroit has some significant other issues, namely the near collapse of the auto industry.
Another looser in all of this is reported to be Comcast as they loose customers whose homes are being foreclosed.
Belden, the maker of wire and cable has reportedly laid off some 1,800.
SBE is here to help those that have been stung by this Recession in a number of ways with their-
SBE Jobs Online – Where you can find out who is looking for help, typically there are more than 100 jobs on this list.
SBE Resume Service – A place you can post yours.
SBE Contract Engineer Directory - If you do contract work, here is a great place to let others know what you do.
If you are interested, or just have a question, contact the SBE office in Indianapolis. Check out the SBE Web Site at www.sbe.org for more information, go ahead, tell them Clay sent you.
Speaking of SBE, this is my final year on the SBE Board of Directors, with this fall’s annual meeting in Verona, NY, I will have completed 9 years on the BOD. A wonderful experience and something that I hope you will seriously consider. I know that the Nominating Committee is always looking for Engineers who would like to contribute to our organization.
Whereas I am now officially into retirement age, perhaps I should feel fortunate looking back on what has been a great ride? Then again, perhaps the economy will do as it has in the past and rebound with our industry finding new and exciting ways to rise from the ashes and re-invent itself. As they say, only time will tell. In the mean time there is always Walmart and McDonalds, they appear to be doing just fine.
Here’s a glimpse at a couple of bright sides of all of this –
> Gas prices have really come down
> Retailers are having sales with prices unheard of 6 months ago.
> And the best news – The prices for scrap metal have tanked. This means that it’s likely that your station’s ground system and transmission lines are safer now than they have been in some time.
Weather has certainly been the topic of conversation with a couple of weeks of snow and ice really throwing this area a curve. For those of you that read this column from out of the area, I need to explain – the Seattle area normally does not get much snow feeling, quite correctly, that snow belongs in the mountains where it belongs. This year the area got more than it’s usual 2 day snow…. Actually more like 2 weeks causing the area great pain. To the best of my knowledge the only negative impact on Broadcasting was the fact that some of our mountain top transmitter sites are – very – hard to reach. For those stations dealing with news, there was no shortage of coverage. At this writing the snow is melting in the lowlands (under 1000 feet AMSL) to the delight of the majority. At least we can say that we had a white Christmas.
Certainly one of the headlines from this past month is the announcement that KBKS/106.1 is being traded to Clear Channel as part of a multi-station and market swap between CCR and CBS. One has to conclude that in this economy swapping is better than outright purchases. Locally this will be someone interesting.
For CBS, this will mean one less FM station. They will be left with 3 – 94.1, 96.5 and 102.5 on FM and 1090 on AM.
For Clear Channel, they gain an FM adding 106.1 to their existing 93.3, 95.7 in addition to FMs in Eatonville and Olympia bringing their total FM’s to 5 in the area. Their AMs include 950 in Seattle and 850 in Tacoma.
From a technical standpoint – This will mean that one of the 4 existing CBS FM’s at the ATC Site on West Tiger will become CCR’s. They will also pick up the Auxiliary FM facility at the Entercom Site on West Tiger. This is interesting in that it will make the first time that Clear Channel has been involved with the higher site to the East. 93.3 and 95.7 are on Cougar. This will add a degree of complication to the workload of the Engineering Dept for sure, especially in winter when just getting to West Tiger is an interesting challenge (to say the least)
You will find something new in this edition – a number of pictures. As I stated last month, it’s our goal to have – YOU – send us pictures of what’s going on around your station so we can share with others. A simple jpg with a caption explaining what we are looking at would be great. Pictures of people and/or things are just fine. You can send these to my email address – email@example.com. For those of you that read my column and do not obtain it from the Seattle SBE Chapter 16 Web Site, you are welcome to go there to see the pictures I am talking about and read other interesting items.
Looks like some markets may be experiencing something new – two outfits doing radio audience measurement: Nielson and Arbitron. I have to wonder how the ‘numbers’ will turn out and how different they might be. How could you persuade a potential advertiser to accept the results of one over the other? There are those that feel that the numbers are not coming out in their favor with the change over to PPM with that battle being pushed to the FCC to investigate.
Did I report that NAB’s Kelly Williams is no longer with the organization in WDC having moved to San Diego? Good luck, big guy.
Lectrosonics is trying to help their customers who use their wireless devices in the 700 MHz band since the FCC rules that they must vacate uses of blocks 27,29 and 29. I understand that AKG and Sennheiser may be offering rebates to those that recently purchased equipment for this band. Check with your equipment maker to be sure.
Things are looking frightful at the newly merged sat-broadcaster XM and Sirius with a huge payment coming due. The severe decline in the auto industry has not helped as many of their new customers have come from the owners of new cars. Layoffs may not be enough with some predictors speaking in very dire terms openly questioning whether or not the company will be in business much longer.
As we all know, the outgoing President was not exactly into things scientific. Hope is that the new guy living in the White House will look at things differently…Early signs look good. The biggest change will likely come with new leadership at the FCC which has, for the past few years, been disappointing to many.
Can you imagine the thoughts that ran through the minds of the mobile phone companies after they laid out billions for spectrum when the hear that the present head of the FCC wanted them to reserve a portion of the spectrum for free- internet? Whew !
NAB is again looking for some great Engineers to honor at this years NAB Convention. If you have someone in mind, contact NAB. Deadline is January 15th. The presentation is in the Technology Luncheon.
For some reason I always smile when I see those trucks from – HD Supply – on the highway. If they only knew what goes through our minds.
Can you believe it – We are only days away from the end of Analog broadcast TV. Hard to believe that the day is actually coming when those big rigs will be shut off leaving zillions of analog TV’s disconnected from their RF mother….That is unless their owners are connected to cable or a sat-provider. When I stop and think about it, I remember when I was a wee lad and TV came to Portland (I was living there then). My folks and I walked a few blocks to a local furniture store that had a TV Set in the window and outside watching this new gadget was a large crowd watching what was then KPTV- Channel 27. Hard to believe I am that old…(Unless I look in a mirror)
One of the big questions is what will Cable TV do after the analog shutdown? Are they going to limit the bandwidth and sacrifice video quality in order to carry more channels?
This is going to be interesting to watch. I’ve heard reports that all their customers are going to get a ‘cable-box’ that they will have to use, perhaps thereby eliminating the so called cable-ready set.
Here’s an interesting, if not useful site – take a look at - www.tvfool.com:80/. Wonder how accurate this really is?
I understand that one station may stay on the air in analog in some markets for a while just to broadcast information to those that wake up to find that their set does not work and can’t figure out why. I’ve not heard if anyone in this area is going to do that, if they are, let me know who.
This contribution comes from David Christian. If you have ever wondered how Radio works – click on this link and enjoy. www.southgatearc.org/news/october2008/on_the_air.htm
John Schneider was in town over Thanksgiving and had lunch with some of his old friends, unfortunately I was unable to make it. John, for a number of years, operated the local RF Specialties store here in Seattle later moving to Quincy, Ill to work for BE where he became their South American sales guy. I remember hearing John speak of his efforts to learn Spanish. Understand that he is now working for Ibiquity the HD Radio folks.
The Radio Ratings are out and the KIRO AM/FM combo has come in at #1. Have to wonder what the folks on Eastlake Ave think about that as they promote the fact that the two stations will stop their simulcasting in April with their 97.3 FM sounding like today’s KIRO and 710 AM sounding like a sports-talker?
We do have a new radio station on the air in the area. KSQM 91.5 is on the air in Sequim. For those of you out-of-towners, this is pronounced ‘skwim’ and is located just East of Port Angeles. The 700 watter is a true community operation with a volunteer staff. Mike Gilbert tells me that there will be a co-channel operation on the air shortly in Darrington. Talk about close spacing.
Some manufacturers of broadcast equipment are reportedly hunkering down due to slow sales, while others are apparently taking advantage of what they view as an opportunity, for example, Nautel, the Canadian based manufacturer of radio transmitters, has recently opened a sale/service office in Quincy, Ill (home of their chief competitors). They more recently have announced that they are going to be stocking parts in Memphis an obvious connection with FedEx.
The FCC extended their deadline in their request for comments on the proposed power increase for HD Radio transmission with several large groups filing comments. Now we wait and see. Perhaps an indication of the thinking at the Commish is the fact that they are allowing stations to operate, for test purposes, at higher power levels.
From the - Gee has it been that long department –
JP Patches recently celebrated the fact that he went on the air 50 years ago
And guess what’s 40 years old – The computer mouse …Boy did that one fly by.
Well, my friends, that’s it for this month. Till next month, at a computer near you.
Clay, CPBE, K7CR et al
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Amateur Radio News
Compiled By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
Thanks to Madison Chapter 24
The Global ALE High Frequency Network (HFN) -- an international Amateur Radio Service organization of ham operators dedicated to emergency/relief radio communications -- has become the first network to operate continuously for more than 500 days on all international Amateur Radio shortwave bands simultaneously. According to HFN International ALE Coordinator Bonnie Crystal, KQ6XA, the main purpose of the Network is to provide efficient emergency and disaster relief communications to remote areas of the world. "Beginning with a core group of six North American radio operators in June 2007, HFN rapidly expanded to cover large areas of the planet with 24/7 digital communications," she said."HFN was designed to be an open framework for global Amateur Radio emergency services to interoperate on HF using the Automatic Link Establishment (ALE) system." Relying on ionospheric radio communications, interconnected HFN base stations scan the radio bands every 10 seconds, from 3.5 MHz -28.0 MHz. Through this Net, Crystal said, ham operators stay connected with each other at all hours of the day or night in any mode of operation, and can send Internet email or cell phone mobile text messages from the field."
Excerpts from the American Radio Relay League’s Web site, arrl.org
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Busting the Myths about AM Modeling
by the AM Directional Antenna Performance Verification Coalition
In a long-awaited and much publicized action, the FCC recently enacted new rules that will allow AM broadcasters to use computer modeling for performance verification of many directional antenna systems. The new rules give broadcasters some new options and provide for a much lower cost means of tuning and proofing an AM antenna. This represents a new paradigm in AM antenna work. To borrow a popular advertising phrase, “This is going to change everything.”
However, since the proposed rules first hit the radar screen of the trade press and message boards, there has been a good bit of misinformation floating around. Even the release of the 2nd Report & Order back in September did not clear most of this up. As a result, there is much confusion and unnecessary worry throughout the AM broadcast community. The AM Directional Antenna Verification Coalition, which proposed the new rule, wishes to put these worries to rest by clarifying what the new rules and procedures mean for broadcast station owners, operators and engineers.
First off, antenna modeling represents an option for broadcasters. It is not mandatory for station owners to have their arrays modeled. Stations can continue operating under the terms of their existing licenses as before. But if there exists a condition, such as an out-of-tolerance monitor point or tower work above the base insulator that would otherwise require adjustment and either a full or partial proof of the array, the option now exists to instead construct a model of the array, calibrate the sample system and adjust the array to the model-indicated parameters. In these days of high gas prices, that sure beats driving a bunch of radials! But if a traditional proof is a more comfortable route, that remains an option as well.
Only series-fed (i.e. insulated-base) towers are eligible for the modeling option. This rules out skirt-fed (“folded unipole”) elements and shunt-fed towers using a slant wire. Arrays using other than insulated base series-fed towers will have to stick with the old proof method.
Unequal height towers are eligible for the modeling option, provided that they are series fed.
Top-loaded towers are also eligible for the modeling option, again provided that they are series fed.
Monitor points will be a thing of the past for stations licensed pursuant to the modeling option. Instead, some reference field strength measurements are made with the modeling option. These measurements are filed along with the model, but they do not have licensed maximum values as monitor points do.
Recertification of the sample system is required every 24 months for stations employing the modeling option. This consists of the same measurements and tests made initially during the array tune-up, namely checking the current/voltage/phase linearity of the base sample devices (TCTs) or checking of the consistency of the impedance of the sample loops, and checking the sample lines for electrical length and loss. Also once every 24 months, the reference field strength measurements must be repeated. Again, these aren’t monitor points, so a higher field strength at a point than one filed with the license application does not constitute a “violation.”
Finally, it is not necessary to file an FCC Form 301 to employ the modeling option in most cases. The station license can be modified for eligible stations with a Form 302-AM.
AM station owners and engineers should recognize the cost savings that the modeling option represents. Most if not all the variables associated with the old way of doing things can be eliminated, leaving a fast, fixed-cost means of tuning up and “proofing” a directional array. Rather than days, weeks or even months of trial and error adjustments and measurements, the modeling and adjustment process can be completed in a couple of days. Instead of days or weeks of walking and driving radials and making field measurements, and instead of countless hours documenting the measurements, with the modeling option as soon as the array is adjusted to the model parameters and three field measurements are made on each pattern minima and maxima radial, you’re done. You can file the 302-AM and go home.
With this new option, gone are most of the excuses for having an out-of-adjustment array. For a fixed sum, most arrays can be retuned using a model, eliminating the likelihood of a big fine and clearing up interference caused by the out-of-adjustment directional pattern. That, we believe, will make the AM band a decidedly friendlier place.
The AM Directional Antenna Performance Verification Coalition consists of representatives from broadcast stations, groups, networks and consultants. Ray Benedict, CPBE of CBS and a past SBE national president, chairs the group.
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FCC OK's White Space Devices
by Tom Smith
As expected on November 4th, the FCC has adopted rules allowing unlicensed broadband devices to operate on the TV broadcast bands. The vote was delayed twice during the day with the final vote being four votes in favor and one vote in favor with a partial dissent. The four Commissioners voting for the rules were Chairman Kevin Martin, Michael Copps, Jonathon Adelstein and Robert McDowell. The partial dissent was issued by Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate, who expressed concerns about the lack of a compressive interference complaint process, that licensed white space devices were not addressed and that higher power point to point operation for backhaul uses was not authorized. The report and order runs 158 pages with the actual rules that will be published in the FCC rules running 15 pages. The report and order was released on November 14th, and as of November 29th, the rules have not been published in the Federal Register. The rules will become official when published in the Federal Register.
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Directional Antenna Proofs without Field Measurements
byJim Dalke CPBE AMD
Chapter 16 Seattle
The NAB Science and Technology Department sponsored a two day seminar in November on a radically new way of proofing AM directional antenna arrays.
The new method would replace the present field work that involves making hundreds of measurements and extensive analysis. The new proofs would use computer modeling for design and then carefully and accurately sampling and monitoring the RF current in each antenna.
Ben Dawson, one of the seminar presenters and developer of the new technique, says this new method of proofing antenna performance could cost as little as ten percent of the present methods, and cut the proof time from weeks and months to a few days. The new method of proofing is called "antenna modeling" and involves computer analysis of hundreds of the physical and electrical characteristics of the antenna array and phasing system to predict the antenna current in each tower of the array and accurately predict the directional pattern.
The two-day seminar provided broadcast engineers with the basics needed to utilize computer modeling software for designing performance-optimized AM directional antenna phasing and coupling systems to improve directional antenna performance. Dawson talked about how he had used the new computer analysis on several off-shore directional systems where the traditional FCC required proof was not needed to produce excellent results and performance.
AM antenna expert Ron Rackley joined Dawson, along with antenna modeling software specialist Jerry Westberg, to lead the seminar demonstrating how moment method modeling makes analysis of actual tower current distributions possible and how the computer modeling technique is used to proof an array. The FCC is now considering a proposal to allow the use of computer modeling for the purpose of evaluating AM antenna performance. The availability of fast personal computers allow the broadcast engineer to accurately model tasks that in the past required days and weeks of tedious work.
With accurate antenna current monitoring, this new technique will not only simplify the proofing of a new directional array, but will make maintaining the array much easier by simplifying or eliminating the requirements for regular monitor point measurements.
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SBE Position: STL Band Use
Society of Broadcast Engineers Statement of Policy regarding
Wireless Microphones used at 944-952 MHz
By John Poray
The reallocation of television channels 52-69 (698-806 MHz, commonly known as the “700 MHz band”) for public safety and commercial broadband use has resulted in a severe reduction in available spectrum for Part 74, Subpart H Low Power Auxiliary (LPA) operation. This in turn has created a scramble for spectrum on which licensed wireless microphones (WMs) and other LPA facilities can operate.
SBE is aware that manufacturers are producing and selling WMs that operate in the 944-952 MHz Aural Broadcast Auxiliary Services (BAS) band. This is permitted pursuant to Section 74.802 of the Commission’s rules, which permits broadcast licensees and broadcast networks to operate LPA devices including WMs in the 950 MHz Aural BAS band. However, it is only broadcast licensees and broadcast network entities that can use this band. Cable television operators, motion picture producers and television program producers are not eligible to use any BAS band for LPA operation except unoccupied television channels. Retailers and dealers of equipment have actively marketed these products to ineligible entities, and their marketing has been accompanied by misrepresentations and lack of candor regarding the obligations of users of the devices.
SBE advocates the interests of licensed users of BAS spectrum and provides volunteer BAS spectrum frequency coordination. The active marketing, sale, or leasing to ineligible or unlicensed persons, or the operation by those persons of LPA WMs is wrong and unlawful, and endangers reliable broadcast and BAS operation.
WMs are mobile, itinerant and utilize variable polarization. STLs and ICRs require high reliability which is threatened by any uncoordinated operation of LPAs at 944-952 MHz.
SBE-affiliated frequency coordinators should continue to work with all eligible entities that wish to obtain LPA licenses, or to operate licensed stations, in the 950 MHz Aural BAS band where possible without disruption of aural STLs and ICRs. However, SBE will provide assistance and serve as a resource to the FCC Enforcement Bureau in locating entities who illegally operate Part 74 wireless microphones without benefit of the required FCC license, especially where interference is caused.
Wireless microphones with powers of 100 to 250 mW (20 to 24 dBm) have field strengths far too high to operate as unlicensed, Part 15 devices; these are certified by FCC for use under Part 74, not Part 15. They must be operated only by a Part 74 licensee.
Those eligible for Part 74, Subpart H Low Power Auxiliary (LPA) licenses for wireless microphones are broadcast station licensees, broadcast network entities, cable television operators, motion picture producers or television program producers. The latter three groups can operate only on TV channel frequencies, however. The 26 MHz, 162 MHz, 450/455 MHz, and 944-952 MHz Aural BAS band frequencies can be licensed to and legally used only by broadcast licensees and networks. The rest must use unoccupied television broadcast channels exclusively for LPA operation.
All LPA licensees must coordinate their use of these frequencies in advance with local SBE coordinators. Coordinators will not coordinate LPA devices for eligible, licensed users on 944-952 MHz channels where there are existing fixed Studio-to-Transmitter (STL) or Inter-City Relay (ICR) links already using these frequencies in close geographic proximity, if interference will predictably result.
Contrary to false and misleading allegations by some vendors of wireless microphones, the 944-952 MHz Aural BAS band is heavily occupied in most areas of the United States. The band offers very little capacity for the operation of wireless microphones by eligible LPA licensees, and there are normally no options for unlicensed or ineligible licensees to use this spectrum at all.
SBE will actively monitor this situation and will continue to pursue equivalent replacement spectrum for that lost in the 698-806 MHz band due to relocation, in bands other than 944-952 MHz, to facilitate licensed LPA operation.
SBE Member Survey on Regulatory and Legislative Issues
As we enter a new year here at the Society of Broadcast Engineers, we’d like to invite you to participate in our second in a series of member surveys. At the October 2008 Board of Directors meeting, the Society’s FCC Liaison Committee was re-named and re-focused as the SBE Government Relations Committee. The change serves to better reflect the changing nature of what we do and who we interact with on regulatory issues as broadcast engineers.
We have prepared a short survey to gauge member opinion about the scope and level of involvement the Society should take on regulatory and legislative issues. The survey should only take five minutes of your time to complete. We do ask for your member number to be sure that we get a member’s-only sample, but your identity will not be seen in the final results. That said, please be candid and answer the questions according to your own thoughts. The survey will close at 6:30 pm on January 16, 2009, so be sure to complete it before then.
We had a great response to our last member survey, and for that, I thank each of you who participated. To those who didn't, it’s important for us all to remember that this is our professional society. To be effective, we need to know your opinions so that we may provide the best benefits and services for your member dues. Please click here for the survey.
Thank you in advance for your participation and best wishes for a happy new year to all.
Vinny Lopez, CEV, CBNT
Vice President, SBE
Chairman, Strategic Planning Committee
SBE CAREER SERVICES CAN HELP
The state of the national (and world) economy continues to have its affect on most industries, including broadcasting. In these uncertain times, your professional association can serve as a valuable source of available broadcast engineering jobs across the U.S.
Information about all of these services can be accessed at the SBE website, www.sbe.org on the Career Services page or click the links above in this article.
Your membership in SBE gives you access to SBE’s career service tools. These services can be a big help if you need to find a new job. Employers can also make use of these services when they need to fill positions with qualified engineers. The SBE JobsOnline members-only service is free. On a typical day, more than 100 broadcast engineering jobs are listed and the list is updated almost every business day as new job postings are received by the SBE National Office.
SBE members may also post their resume for free with the SBE Resume Service. Anyone can view the resumes at the SBE website, with the names and contact information hidden from view. For a small fee, employers can request copies of the resumes they are interested in, which then includes the names and contact information.
SBE also has begun a new SBE service called SBE InternshipsOnline. Similar to the SBE JobsOnline, employers can post engineering internships for free. Anyone can view the postings (also free). The new service is intended to help match those who offer engineering internships with students looking for those opportunities.
Do you make your broadcast engineering services available on a contract basis? The SBE maintains an SBE Contract Engineer Directory. This alphabetical list, organized by state, lists the name, technical services offered, geographic area covered and the contact information for each contract engineer listed. For a small annual fee, contract engineers may be included on this list.
Excelsior College announces Certification Courses
by Rebecca Troeger
Excelsior College, in partnership with the Society of Broadcast Engineers, offers college credit to enrolled students for the completion of select SBE certifications. Apply up to 11 credits earned through SBE certifications plus any credit earned from other approved sources toward any of Excelsior College's more than 40 degree and certificate programs. Of particular interest to SBE members are the Associate Degree in Electronics Technology, Bachelor's Degree in Electronics Engineering Technology, and Associate or Bachelor's Degree in Technology with a specialty in Electronics/Instrumentation Technologies.
Complete your degree requirements with Excelsior's flexible learning options including online and CD-ROM courses. You can maximize your SBE Certifications with Excelsior College. The following SBE certifications have been evaluated toward Excelsior College credit:
Certified Broadcast Radio Engineer
Certified Broadcast Television Engineer
Certified Senior Broadcast Radio Engineer
Certified Senior Broadcast Television Engineer
Certified Professional Broadcast Engineer
For more information check out SBE's partnership page on Excelsior College's website at SBE.Excelsior.edu.
College Credit for Your SBE Certification:
The Society of Broadcast Engineers and Excelsior College have teamed up! Your current SBE Certification may qualify for credit towards a degree from Excelsior College or could help you finish that degree you’ve been working on at another institution. If you’re interested, contact Excelsior College by calling toll-free at (888) 647-2388 to learn about the details.
When you are ready to submit your SBE Certification for credit to Excelsior College,
download the SBE transcript request form at www.sbe.org or www.excelsior.edu,
or contact the SBE National Office for a copy. When you’ve completed the form,
e-mail, fax or mail it to Megan Clappe, Certification Director at the SBE National
Office, who will prepare your transcript and send it to Excelsior College.
Society of Broadcast Engineers
9102 N. Meridian Street, Suite 150
Indianapolis, IN 46260
SBE CertPreview Software
SBE CertPreview sample certification test software is now available.
It’s Microsoft Windows-based and replaces the previous DOS-based software.
New sample tests are available for Broadcast Technologist, Audio Engineer,
Video Engineer, Broadcast Networking Technologist, Broadcast Engineer and Senior
Broadcast Engineer in both radio and television. Sample tests include 50 to
100 questions and indicate when an incorrect answer has been given. It provides
a list of resources from which to learn more about a subject. Cost for each
SBE CERTpreview practice test is $27 plus $3 shipping. Contact the National
Office to order a copy.
Certification Exam Session Dates:
The SBE National Certification Committee certification exam session
dates for 2009 are listed below. Check the list below for the exam period
that is best for you. For more information about SBE Certification, see your
Chapter Certification Chair or
contact Megan Clappe,
Certification Director at the SBE National Office at (317) 846-9000, or firstname.lastname@example.org
|February 6-16 , 2009
||December 31 , 2008
|April 21, 2009
||April 1 , 2009
|June 5-15, 2009
||April 17, 2009
|August 7-17, 2009
||June 5, 2009
|November 6-16, 2009
||September 18, 2009
Fees for 2009 are as Follows:
|Broadcast Networking Technologist
|Senior Broadcast Engineer
|Professional Broadcast Engineer
|AM Directional Specialist
|Digital Radio Broadcast Specialist
| *does not include first year membership
note: SBE Certification exams are administered only by SBE and are proctored
in-person by qualified and approved representatives of SBE. No other organization
is authorized to administer SBE exams.
Click here for
more information about SBE Certification.
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Bill Harris - Editor In Chief
Garneth M. Harris
Tom Goldberg - On-Line Editor
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