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March 6, 2008

 

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March 2008 Newsletter

SBE Chapter 48 / SMPTE Rocky Mountain Section

February 2007 Meeting Report

Annual Banquet
Honoree for 2008: Mr. David Layne


Date:
           Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Location:     Green Gables Country Club, 6800 W Jewell Ave, Denver, CO 80232
Time:           No Host Cocktails Cash Bar: 6:00 pm, Dinner and Presentation: 7:00 pm

On this occasion SBE Chapter 48 was pleased to present our chapter's Lifetime Achievement Award to Mr. David Layne.


Brad Torr, Jim Schoedler, and Chris Alexander Present the award to David Layne

During his years as a television Chief Engineer Mr. Layne has made many contributions to Denver broadcasting, including his recent leadership in the engineering of new DTV transmission facilities. He has been a mentor to many in the broadcast community and a strong supporter of SMPTE and SBE. The award ceremony included a presentation by Walt DeHaven, Vice President and General Manager for CBS4 Denver, with anecdotes about David's contributions over the years. He also shared his thoughts on the current state and future of local broadcasting.

Dinner was once again, a superb meal provided by Green Gables Country Club. Dinner included a Field Green Salad w/Julienne Peppers, Candied Walnuts, Goat Cheese in a Sherry-Shallot Vinaigrette. Main courses offered were attendees choice of Chicken Marsala in a Mushroom Marsala Wine Sauce, Grilled Salmon with Lemon Caper Butter Sauce, or Grilled Ribeye with Wild Mushroom Demi with chef’s choice of potato and vegetable. Dessert was a New York Cheesecake Topped with Raspberry Sauce and Fresh Berries, Coffee and Tea. If you missed this meal, you missed a good one!

We had a great crowd and an excellent event - here is a collage of a few moments from the evening:

There were plenty more pictures from the event - if you are interested, click on this link to view the lot. If anyone out there wants high res copies, just let me know.

 

Report by Tom Goldberg

 

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Random Radio Thoughts


Cris Alexander, CPBE, AMD
Crawford Broadcasting Company

Site Protection
Copper theft continues to be on the increase nationwide. I’ve talked about it in these pages in past months. I’m going to address the issue again.

Last month, Crawford Broadcasting Company got hit at one of its AM sites, and it was hit hard. This 50 kW five-tower directional antenna in Birmingham was seriously crippled when copper thieves cleaned out – and I mean cleaned out – the ground system close to each tower. They took the copper strap, the bus plates, the (lightning) ground leads, and they even raked up the copper screen around each tower base. Needless to say, the transmitter choked without a ground reference to work against at any of the tower bases.

Our chief engineer and his crew of three got busy and made temporary repairs, running a 2-inch strap from each ATU to the identifiable radial ends. That got things back to full power… for a couple of days. The copper thieves came back and took the strap used to make temporary repairs. We had new screens on hand that we could have installed to effect permanent repairs, but those would have been gone, too; I’m glad we didn’t install them.

These scumbags came to the site well equipped. They brought an air compressor and some pneumatic tools to cut the bus plates. They even used the AC power in the antenna tuning units to power the compressor.

Interestingly, they left the compressor in the woods on our property, under some brush where it wouldn’t be easily seen, so they wouldn’t have to haul it all the way back when they came to rip us off again. Our eagle-eyed chief engineer, Stephen Poole, spotted the red compressor tank in the thick brush, hauled it out and stashed it in one of our buildings. The scumbag thieves came back, evidently looking for “their” compressor, and broke into a storage building. As it turned out, the compressor had been stolen from a neighboring business. Those folks were glad to get it back. Score one for the good guys.

We installed a sophisticated video surveillance system at the site after the first theft. Somewhat ironically, we had planned to do that all along and even had the equipment on hand, but other priorities – little things like keeping five radio stations on the air – had delayed that installation. The theft of the ground system changed the priorities a bit.

The lengths to which copper thieves go to get at the goods has forced us to implement some security measures that we have not until now considered. At the Birmingham AM site, we’re replacing the wooden tower base fences with tall, razor-wire topped chain link fences (yes, we have to ground them – what a pain!). We’ve installed a large monitored security system including zones at each tower base that alarm on gate-open conditions. We also plan to install pressure pads and trip wires inside the fence at each tower base. If we continue to get hit, we’ll put up a second security fence outside the first with razor wire suspended between the fence mesh between the inner and outer fences. This will force the scumbag thieves to use the gate for entry. We are also exploring our options for an electrified layer inside the inner fence (using a livestock-type fence charger). Our tower base surveillance cameras will also provide an alarm on motion. Stay tuned for news on the effectiveness of all this.

Even as we’re struggling to recover from the repeated blows at the AM site, others (or maybe the same copper thieves) are hitting our FM sites. They have attempted to gain entry to our transmitter buildings without success. There is very little exposed copper at the tower bases (we have replaced all the ground leads with aluminum), so they’re only left with what’s inside and the transmission lines. I shudder to think about someone hacking out a section of the 5-inch Andrew line at our big FM. But in anticipation of this, we have on hand some spare parts – line sections, connectors, reducers, adaptors and the like. It wouldn’t be much fun, but we could sustain such a loss with minimal down time.

Clearly, we’re dealing with a whole new situation these days. And it’s not just happening in Alabama (although it does seem to be worse there than elsewhere). Sooner or later, we’re going to be dealing with aggressive copper thieves in Colorado as well. My suggestion would be to prepare for it now, before your $50,000 ground system turns into $150 in dope money.

March Program
Seven or eight years ago, my daughter Amanda (now an engineer at CBC-Denver) was a Middle School student with an interest in meteorology. She wrote a letter to Ed Greene, who was then doing weather at KUSA-TV as part of a class project. He called her a few days later and invited her along with her mom and me down to their studios to be his guests for the 4 o’clock newscast (we were the “studio audience”). After the news, he gave us the grand tour of the whole facility.

As a reformed television station chief engineer, I’ve seen my share of TV facilities and spent years working in, over and under them. But I was impressed with the KUSA-TV facilities and people.

This month, you’ll get your chance to see an updated version of what we saw back then. The March SBE-48/SMPTE RM Section meeting is set for Tuesday the 18th at KUSA-TV, conveniently located at 500 Speer Blvd. The technical program is on HDTV measurements, but it also includes a tour of the facility. So you radio guys, don’t let the TV technical topic keep you away. This one is worth seeing.

If you have news to share with the Rocky Mountain radio engineering community, drop me an email at crisa@crawfordbroadcasting.com.

 

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The KE0VH Hamshack


Jack Roland
jroland@entercom.com
Entercom Denver

The KEØVH Hamshack, article for March, 2008 It is amazing to me the information that we share on the WA2YZT repeater here in the Denver area. The other day, during a QSO with our good friend Randy, WAØTKO, he described an incredible idea to me about putting old pl tone-less rigs back on the air with the always now-a-days pl TONED repeaters. And he didn’t have to spend $50 or more on the commercially available pl boards that may or may not work with just about any radio. However, this will. With audio software such as Cool Edit or most of the others on the market these days, you can generate tones of many frequencies, including our standard amateur pl tones used in just about all repeaters these days. You can then save these as mp3 files, and put them on an inexpensive mp3 player, and have them loop for a constant pl tone and then feed it into your old pl tone-less radio either parallel with the mic input, or maybe insert it past the mic preamp in the radio. Randy describes here what he did and thanks to him for providing the information. WHAT A GREAT IDEA!
The procedure for attaching the mp3 player to my old Yaesu FT-720R 70cm radio is fairly simple, thanks to Yaesu's providing a 4 pin "tone input" connector on the rear panel of the rig. The required plug is the same size as one of the small flat audio connectors that were used for years to connect a PC CDROM drive's audio output to a sound card. I built a cable with a stereo 1/8" plug on one end and the CDROM connector on the other. It was necessary to break off some small ridges on one side of the flat CDROM connector to make it fit the Yaesu tone socket. See attached "connector.bmp". Looking that the FT-720R from the rear with the notched part of the tone input jack facing down, the audio would be applied to the 2nd and 4th pins, counting from left to right. Pin one is +12v and pin 3 is used for tone burst input. If the thought of frying your mp3 player bothers you it would pay to double check the pinout with a meter. The 12v will probably be there when the rig is keyed but I haven't verfied this.

My mp3 player is an Olympus ws-310m combination digital voice recorder and music player is but any inexpensive player should work as well. I downloaded the tone mp3's from Sara Communications site, http://www.saracom.com/ham/ham.html. They're named according to tone. The one I used to access the WA2YZT machine was named 186.2.mp3. You can either load all 32 or just the ones necessary to access your local repeaters. The length of each mp3 is 10 minutes so it was necessary to set the player to continuously repeat the same track.

To set the tone level, connect the flat connector to the radio and the stereo plug to the mp3 player's phone jack. Select the audio file corresponding to the PL tone necessary to access a repeater an press the play button. Gradually increase the volume on the player while keying the transmitter until a successful key-up is obtained. It might be necessary to bump the level up a little more to get consistent operation of the radio. That's all there is too it. My friend Ed, WA4OHW, suggested that naming an mp3 for the repeater that you're trying to access might solve the problem of trying to remember what tone is used by each machine.

For radios that don't have a tone input connector it will probably be necessary to find an appropriate point in the microphone preamp for injecting the tone. Coupling in the mp3 player's audio output with a small capacitor and or matching network should provide some isolation and keep nasty voltages out of your "expensive mp3 player".

This simple and inexpensive "kludge" can breath some life into those old rigs that are mouldering on shelves and in junkboxes because time and technology have moved on and tones are a "given" when using most repeaters.

Here's the link that has the PL tones in wav and mp3 format: www.saracom.com/ham/ham.html
The owner of that site, Randy Reames, WAØTKO, is actually is advocating using the PC's sound card as the tone source using the mp3 PL's but it's logical that anything that can play the sound file could be used as a substitute for a "real encoder". Hence the idea of using a cheap mp3 player to to do the job.

Please don’t forget the SBE IRLP Hamnet the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month. www.qsl.net/ke0vh/SBEHamnet.html for all the information.

73’ for this month, de KEØVH

 

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AMATEUR RADIO NEWS

Compiled By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
From Chapter 24 - Madison

Read new NOAA director
Veteran meteorologist and amateur radio operator Bill Read, KB5FYA, was named the new director of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Tropical Prediction Center, which includes the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in January. Read had served as the Center’s acting deputy director since August 2007. The NHC has a dedicated amateur station on-site – W4EHW – and has worked closely with hams for decades.

In announcing Read’s appointment to head the Center, NOAA Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher cited Read’s three decades of experience with the agency and of his reputation as "a trusted consultant to emergency managers" in the Houston area.

Joint venture good for ham radio
On January 16, Motorola announced that its subsidiary, MI, Inc, has successfully completed its tender offer to acquire a controlling interest in Vertex Standard, parent company of Yaesu, a manufacturer of a wide variety of amateur and professional radio equipment.
Dennis Motschenbacher, K7BV, Yaesu’s Executive Vice President for Amateur Radio Sales in North America, told the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) that he sees the joint venture of Vertex Standard and Motorola as "a very good thing for Amateur Radio in general and Yaesu customers in particular...I am really excited to see what the joint engineering capabilities of these two huge communications companies will bring in the way of new technology advancement for the Amateur Radio Service."

Motschenbacher continued: "There is a unique aspect of business that comes with Amateur Radio. It’s not just about a radio. It’s the relationship between the ham, the radio itself and the company that makes that radio. This relationship in Amateur Radio is far different than it is, say, between a buyer of a HDTV, the TV and the TV manufacturer. The relationship in Amateur Radio is far more personal and ‘bonding,’ per se. I am certain that we will do our utmost to ensure that Motorola understands this delicate bond."

According to Motorola, "[t]he joint venture is expected to expand and develop a comprehensive suite of products to address the rapidly growing demand for 2-way radio solutions. Vertex Standard’s strength in the amateur, marine and airband (avionics) segments provides Motorola with access to new business opportunities. In addition, Vertex Standard’s solutions are highly complementary with Motorola’s products and add greater depth and breadth to Motorola’s Government and Public Safety business. The venture also provides additional engineering talent for Motorola."

Excerpts from the American Radio Relay League’s Web site at arrl.org and NASA.gov.

 

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Clay’s Corner

Featuring News, Rumors and Views
From Usually Reliable and Irrefutable Sources

By Clay Freinwald
SBE Seattle Chapter 16

The good news is spring is fully underway here in the great PNW…I had to mow the lawn in late February….Trees are full of buds…The bulbs are producing green shoots etc. But even with that, I managed to do something that I have not done in many years…I managed to get myself stuck going up to West Tiger on Feb 29th. It was a case of stupid-me as I tried to drive on a snow covered road that had been melting. It was good going for a while, then the mushy snow gave way at which point that bottom of the truck settled down leaving all four some distance from the road below. I called Terry Spring on my cellphone and asked about who he might have used to help in a situation like this as I was some distance away from anything to grab with my winch cable. Terry tried to call me back, but because cell coverage is so poor, he decided to bring me the information in person. In the mean time someone else tried to get up there to deliver an Argo Snow-Cat. He managed to get his truck and trailer stuck behind me. So I contacted Dwight Small to come up and take me home. The next day we went up to the mountain with the help of Cliff from Carks Towing out of North Bend. Cliff got the fellow out that was behind me and then he managed to get his 4X4 wrecker stuck. (and I forgot my camera) Cliff, with Dwight’s help, got the wrecker out of a really bad situation…while I continued to dig out my truck (it had snowed overnight)….They finally put a line on the little truck and gave it a little pull and it was up on the then frozen snow and easily backed out. It’s been some time since anyone has driven a conventional vehicle to the top of West Tiger. Thanks to Alan Robinson and his snow-cat we have been able to get up there when needs are critical. My mind is again wondering if I can ever talk the boss into something that will travel – over- the white stuff.

This winter has been especially harsh in the mountains with many pictures circulating showing very deep snows and antennas buried in ice. In one case, On Feb 8th, a good dose of freezing rain and/or sleet really did a number on the stations on West Tiger with an apparent heavy coat of ice. STL’s stopped working as did operation of the ATC Master Anten
na. Thankfully it was relatively short lived as temperatures moderated.
Getting to a transmitter site is normally done by road, but when the road is blocked by heavy snow, a 3rd party is usually employed as most stations don’t own their own snow-cats. I recall when KBRD (Now KMTT) had their transmitter on 3-Sisters Mountain where helicopter was the only access method for much of the year. But what about a site that has no roads and no snow? Take a look at this video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X95vJC7bExE

On the other side of the country, I recently attended the 4th EAS Summit in WDC while there representing SBE and our state. We heard that progress is being made toward the creation of an advisory committee to assist FEMA in their work toward creating our Next-Gen EAS system. Also present was Tom Beers, Bonnie Gay and Claudia Fox from the FCC that are very much involved in this process. There were 4 of us from the SBE EAS Committee present as well, Richard Rudman, Gary Timm and Adrienna Abbott.

I will be moderating a session at NAB this year on the topic of Next Generation Public Alerting on Tuesday from 430 to 530 PM at the BEC. This will be a great opportunity to learn about the new, Next-Gen, EAS equipment that will be coming our way. Hope you can be there.

I suppose you heard about the recent big power failure in Florida….Turns out the cause was a blunder by a field engineer who worked for the power company. Understand that the punishment was a suspension and a requirement to attend a refresher course for field engineers.

The FCC has been up to its – fine self – hitting some 52 ABC TV stations for their role in airing an episode of NYPD Blue before 10 PM. Ouch!

According to the Neilsen Company, over 10% of the homes in the Seattle area are not ready for the DTV conversion in Feb of next year. Really? I would have put the total higher than that. I keep remembering how many people that are amazed to learn that TV actually can come from an antenna! Meanwhile Wal-Mart is reportedly now selling DTV/Analog converter boxes.

Another end of an era news item….This time that a long time TV Repair shop in Fremont was closing it’s doors. It’s hard for us that have been in the game for years to grasp the fact that defective TV sets today are simply thrown away and not repaired.

Found it interesting to learn the Senator Cantwell is pushing a measure that would provide NOAA with a second radar system. The present system, located on Camano, Is. has a giant shadow to the SW caused by the Olympics. A quick look at certain TV stations in the area that use the NWS radar clearly shows this. The rationale is that without this shadow, their accuracy would improve. I also suspect that the fact that some TV stations have better radar visibility to the west than does the NWS might also be a factor. Talk is to put the new radar at Westport.

A former co-worker and later manager, Chuck Maylin is moving to Las Vegas to manage the Beasley group there. Chuck and I worked together at KMO and later KBSG. He has been living on Mercer Island.

Well the wondering is over….Blue-Ray wins with Toshiba throwing in the towel thereby ending the HD format war. In this day and age of wars that drag on and on …nice to see.
Congrats to KPLU as they recently broke ground (funny term) on their new studio facility in Parkland. Engineering is being handled by Chief Lowell Kiesow, assisted by Nick Winter.

Jim Dalke has taken Nick Winter’s place at Bustos media where he has been inducted into the thrill of riding a snow cat to a mountain top to repair a transmitter already.

In our business the word of the day is – pull back. Ad revenues are off and sights are being lowered. This has resulted in a number of cut-backs that have made the news, CBS, Citidel and others have been slashing expenses and in many cases those expenses are employees. Newspapers are also in this mode with reports that the NYT is cutting 100 newsroom jobs. In a couple of cases, Clear Channel opted to take a couple of AM stations dark due to their poor financial performance. This is like a brick and mortar operation shuttering their business. Have not heard how the FCC feels about this, however it’s not the first time. Here locally, over the years, we have had stations go dark during hard times. Let’s face it, advertising is one of the first things to go during lean times. Belo, owner of the KING/KONG operation in Seattle, recently spun off their newspaper assets. The only bright spots are Cable and, of course, the Internet.

Belt tightening is likely to impact NAB this year as well. The annual event, April 11th through the 17th, will see fewer faces as many stations and groups have slashed travel budgets. Not all is bad news….Harris Broadcast reported revenues were up 6 % thanks to sales for DTV hardware.

Could the sale of the Clear Channel TV stations be in question? Could be, according the media reports. Some 56 TV stations are involved. Would not want to be working there.

A good number of Amateur Radio Operators (HAMS) were not pleased with the FCC decision to eliminate the requirement for at least a basic understanding of the code as a requirement to obtain an FCC license and appealed the decision…..They lost.

Microsoft has come out on the other side of Broadcasters on the issue of use of spectrum between TV channels for new technologies. That’s going to be a really expensive fight with the money the MSFT can devote to their goals.

Yet another study has come out that finds that cellphone use may affect your health. This one states that using a cellphone more than one hour per day increases your chance of getting a brain tumor by 250%. Perhaps a good reason to use that Blue-tooth so you can have your cellphone elsewhere. Certainly that will be the case for vehicular use of these devices in our state this summer.

The Administration has whapped NPR with the announcement that they are cutting their funding in the new budget. Meanwhile the Bush budget calls for an 8.3% increase in funding for the FCC.

The battle over the desire of Sirius and XM to merge continues. Apparently lots of out of the public view meetings going on...Predictions are going both ways. Meanwhile the two Sat-Radio firms are cutting their losses with subscribers now approaching 18 million.

Will NYC get a new radio station near 87.7 using TV Channel 6? That appears to be what’s happening. Too bad the FCC does not simply allocate Channel 6 to aural broadcasting and give AMs first dibs on the channels if they will agree to shut down their AM plants after a certain time. Seems to me that this would resolve a lot of problems. Don’t think that this is only an east-coast issue.

Congratulations to Tom Silliman who is going to receive NAB’s Radio Engineering Achievement Award this year in Las Vegas. Congrats also to Jeff Mendenhall on the receipt of a Fellow award from his company, Harris.
There is a lot of conversation going on now regarding increasing the power of the HD Radio carriers. The reason for this is the concern that the coverage of HD, and particularly HD-2 signals is weak. Look for a lot of discussion on this item at NAB.

Received this email recently –
“ You need a Better Degree and we can help! Bachelors, Masters, MBA and/or Doctorate (PHD) Academic Qualifications available from prestigious NON-ACCREDDITED universities ……..(phone number) “ PRICELESS.

Just what we need our tax dollars spent on…..The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ordered the FCC to study the environmental effect of towers built in the Gulf Coast region.

As you might know, Peter Dahl is no longer in the transformer/choke business. The good news is Jeff Weinberg Harbach Electronics, has purchased the rights to the name, the original transformer and choke specifications and designs, and the design equipment thereby keeping the service going under the name of MagCap Engineering. Amateurs and Broadcasters alike will certainly find this to be good news. I can tell you that Peter’s work has saved many an engineer’s day over the years.

The FCC has a new bank. For years we’ve been dealing with Mellon Bank…it now will be U.S. Bank.

Bill Wolfenbarger reports a number of items of equipment recently stolen in Mid-January from a fenced transmitter site near Aberdeen – Scala Paraflector - 200 foot roll of _ inch Heliax – 1-5/8 inch hardline parts. If you have any info, contact the Grays Harbor Sheriffs office at 360-533-8765 or Bill at 360-533-3000.

And finally, from the corn and groaner department, some definitions –
ARBITRATOR – Someone that leaves Arby’s to work at McDonalds.
BURGLARIZE – What a crook sees with.
COUNTERFEITERS – Workers that put together kitchen cabinents.
ECLIPSE – What a barber does for a living
HEROES – What a guy in a boat does
MISTY – What golfers do with they create a divot.
PARASITES – What you see from the top of the Eiffel Tower
POLARIZE – What penguins see with
RELIEF – What trees do in the spring
RUBBERNECK – What you do to relax your wife.
SUDAFED – Litigation brought against a government official.

OK, OK ….I quit – See you at the next SBE Meeting and/or on line or between the Yellow Sheets.

Clay, CPBE, K7CR

 

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THE YXZ REPORT

by Kent Randles K7YXZ CBRE
Senior Engineer Entercom-Portland
Co-Chair, Portland/Vancouver ECC
Chapter 124 Secretary
water-cooled at sbe124 dot org

FIRST COMPUTER & ELECTRONICS SWAPMEET OF THE SEASON
It's almost spring – when a ham's thoughts turn to…hardware! It will all be for sale at the 28th annual Salem Hamfair, better known as "Rickreall," since that's where it's held (west of Salem). Saturday February 16th, doors open at 9 AM. If you stand near the back door of the main hall, you will see most of the broadcast engineers in Oregon. You can see the flyer at http://www.w7sra.com/flyer/Flyer_2008_Final.pdf .

LIFE WITH HD RADIO
Holding at 12 FM HD signals (nine with HD2, and one with HD3) and three AM HD signals on the air in the Portland market. For a complete list, click here (www.ibiquity.com/stationlist_hdradio.php).

The Winter/Spring 2008 Crutchfield catalog shows four low-priced car stereos with built-in HD Radio receivers. The new JVC KD-HDR30 for $160; the XHD6425 from Dual for $150 that has been out for a while, plus their XHD6420 without a USB input for $130; and now the Jensen HD5212 with USB, iPod adapter, and SD card reader for $160.
The NAB is supporting a 10 dB power increase for FM HD Radio. From http://www.nab.org/AM "Acting upon a recommendation from the NAB Digital Radio Committee, the Board unanimously approved a resolution to seek FCC authorization for higher-power operation of FM HD Radio stations."

A 10 dB increase would bring the analog to digital effective radiated power ratio up from 100:1 to 10:1. Poking around the websites of FM HD Radio transmitter manufacturers, the ones who make solid-state models list them up to at least 3 kW in the HD-only mode, and some with the potential to go as high as 12 kW.

Since this is still just a proposal, no one is quoting how much analog plus 10% HD they could put out. Assuming the FCC eventually approves a power increase, stations who now have separate FM HD transmitters feeding separate antennas (like KGON & KYCH) or "back feeding" combiners (like KRSK) would have to buy bigger ones. Stations using "high-level" combining (like KNRK), "mid-level" combining (like KBOO), or doing low-level combining using the new models of tube HD+FM transmitters (like KWJJ is about to) might be stuck at the original HD power level for awhile.

SKYLINE TOWER AMATEUR RADIO CLUB "EVENT"
I put event in quotes because this one usually only involves a few people. We're going to compete again in the CQ Magazine World-Wide 160 meter SSB DX contest (www.cq-amateur-radio.com/NEW160_CntRules_200810207.pdf). This year it's on February 23rd & 24th. This is the last "bottom of the sunspot cycle" 160 meter contest for years. We'll hang the center of the club's 180' B&W folded dipole from a yardarm near the bottom elevator stop on the big tower, and use it as an inverted V. If you would like to loan us a linear amplifier, we'd appreciate it. If you want to come operate, let me know.

 

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Static Line – Noise from All Over

Chapter 3

In Satellite Radio, Sirius is purchasing XM, if government approval is granted. Neither company has yet turned a profit. The industry is early in its development and really has acquired only a small market share in radio, so I suppose it should come as no great surprise that such an action has been proposed.

I have more favorable experiences to report with the Pinnacle HD USB tuner I purchased. While my wife and I were camping early in November, we parked our 5th wheel in an RV resort about two miles west of Halstead - within sight of the Hutchinson TV transmitter towers. I had not been able to acquire KPTS (PBS) ASTC channels from Wichita, but had only tried on the mono pole supplied with the Pinnacle tuner, and on my old pre-cable attic mounted NTSC antenna. Very likely, the latter was a local special antenna sold in the early 70's optimized for channels 3,8,10,12, and I can get a snowy, but readable NTSC signal with it, but not HD. Typically at that campground location, we optimize our RV roof mounted NTSC antenna for channel 3 from Wichita if we want to see programming from them, and accept the lesser quality on the other channels available in NTSC. If we decide we don't want to watch channel 3, the RV antenna can usually remain in its stowed position on the roof and we have all but about two VHF channels from Wichita, although some have minor ghosting or may be snowy.

If the ASTC shows at all, it is of good quality, as one might expect. A normal scan of the spectrum at the campground and while connected to the monopole yielded ten ASTC channels and displayed a remarkable improvement over the roof mounted RV amplified dipole shown on my NTSC set. Most of the companies broadcasting in DTV are transmitting only the main channel with whatever HD programming their networks have provided them, and if they carry news at all, transmit it in 720p. The local PBS station is running on the main channel; usually children's educational programming on the second service, and a mix of main channel program time shifted and a new satellite network which has similar content to the programming they carry on the main channel. The local CBS station carries their usual programming on the main digital channel, but does provide a weather channel with local radar, a repeat of the last weather shows, and a crawl at the bottom with and severe weather warnings, if any, or weather currents from different locations within their viewing area. So only two of the ten were utilizing their multi-channel capabilities, at least at the time of the spectrum scan I made. All in all, the experience with the Pinnacle continues to be very favorable.

Providence Equity Partners Inc. reportedly may back out of a $1.2 billion agreement to acquire Clear Channel Communications' 35 television stations because the stations aren't performing as well as projected. However, following this announcement, the FCC approved the sale. Go figure! Providence, you remember, is the financial backer for Newport Television, a company formed by former Wichita television executive Sandy DiPasquale, whose new company has been operating out of former BlueStone offices in Wichita, pending its planned move to Kansas City.

This acquisition will put Providence out of compliance for ownership limits in five markets in California, Salt Lake City, Albany,NY, Jacksonville and San Antonio. A request had been made to allow continued operation of the stations for six months while the company tries to come into compliance. The FCC granted the request in all markets but Albany. Providence also has to work out cross-ownership problems with newspapers and broadcast media in five of the markets. Although they pledged to do so when applying to purchase Clear Channels stations, the credit crunch has apparently nixed the quick sale of such high dollar establishments.

Commissioner Michael Copps was the lone dissenter to the transaction, unhappy that Providence will have attributable interests in 86 TV stations, 99 radio stations and several other media properties. He is not a fan of consolidation. It is said that plans for Clear Channel's pending $19.5 billion takeover by Thomas H. Lee Partners Inc. and Bain Capital LLC will not be affected by the outcome of the Providence backed sale.

 

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WISCONSIN STATION ASKS TO END ANALOG

By Tom Smith
Chapter 24 - Madison

Pappas Telecasting, owner of WWAZ-TV Fond du Lac, has asked the FCC for permission to end its analog TV transmissions on channel 68. WWAZ would continue operation in digital on channel 44. In their letter to the Commission, Pappas Telecasting claimed that it has loss nearly $9 million since the station’s inception in 1995. There was little or no income generated by this operation according to Pappas Telecasting. They noted that the loss of service to viewers in its service area would be minimal as the station did not meet the minimum reporting standards for Nielsen ratings and that most of the viewers had five or more viewing choices besides WWAZ-TV.

The Region 45 700 MHz planning Committee, the Region 54 700 MHz planning Committee, the Southeast Wisconsin Communications Resource/Support Group and the Dodge County Sheriff all sent in letters in support, noting that they all had urgent need of the spectrum for public safety use. The Region 45 700 MHz planning Committee serves three-fourths of Wisconsin, the Region 54 700 MHz planning Committee serves Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois including Milwaukee and Chicago and the Southeast Wisconsin Communications Resource/Support Group also serves the Southern Wisconsin area including Milwaukee. All four groups basically sent a form letter in support of Pappas Telecasting. The Commission has only issued a few public safety licenses in that band under special authority.

The FCC has allowed stations operating in the public safety bands of 700 MHz band as well as stations operating on three channels already auctioned for commercial use to cease operations and allow those winning bidders to start operations on those channels. These provisions were part of the Auction Reform Act of 2002.

From FCC Releases (www.fcc.gov)

 

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FREQUENCY COORDINATION
& OTHER STUFF

by Everett E. Helm W7EEH CPBE
Director of RF Engineering
Oregon Public Broadcasting, Portland
> 1 GHz Frequency Coordinator, Oregon and SW WA
Chapter Chair at SBE 124


NTIA DTV SET TOP CONVERTER BOX COUPON PROGRAM
Beginning on January 1st, the NTIA began accepting applications for consumers in the U.S. to receive up to two $40 coupons to be redeemed towards the purchase of a DTV converter box (Set Top Box or STB) to continue to receive over the air television after the February 17, 2009 cessation of analog transmissions from full power stations. Response has been really good with over 3 million applications. Interesting that Oregon leads the nation in per capita applications with over 180,000 to date. If you haven’t ordered your coupons yet, you can do it online at: http://www.DTV2009.gov .

While the response has been good, confusion reigns with the public about what exactly will happen on that now famous date. LPTV and Translators do not have a mandatory date set, which means that many viewers in much of rural Oregon will not see much change, but may need to take advantage of the converter box program sooner than later. Only 3 of the 34 STB’s approved by NTIA for the program have "analog pass through," which may make it difficult for viewers in areas with a mix of full service and LPTV stations if they do not buy a box with the pass through feature. NAB has recently stepped in to try to educate the manufacturers and public about the feature and its impact on LPTV stations.

DTV TRANSITION STATUS REPORTS DUE THIS MONTH
If you are involved with the full power DTV transition, be sure to make note that the FCC is requiring that all stations need to file a Form 387 DTV Status report by the middle of February. Hopefully by now, given the recent clarification of policies and procedures by the FCC, you have a clearer picture of where you will be on February 17, 2009!
At OPB, we have two stations that are on their final channels, and three that are moving back to their present "analog" channels. We’ve ordered new solid state DTV transmitters and will be installing them during this coming summer. Our FCC DTV status report will include technical modifications of the proposed facilities to adjust what was published in the Appendix table of allocations. I fully believe that the stations on high band VHF will provide excellent coverage, hopefully to more than fully replicate that of the existing analog coverage.

SPRINT / NEXTEL 2 GHZ RELOCATION UPDATE
At this point in time, all stations should be finished with their equipment inventories and most will be working with the vendors for final quotes on equipment and integration services. For those of you that may have microwave licenses on 2 GHz associated with translator or LPTV services, you have only until March 15th to get those quotes filed. You must check on this now if you have any questions.
On the current schedule the Portland, Eugene, Medford, and Bend, markets will not transition to the new band plan until August of 2009. Much of the new equipment may not be delivered until spring of that year.

WINTER ADVENTURES IN OREGON BROADCASTING
I’ve included some recent pictures of the adventures of OPB Field Engineers enjoying servicing some of the OPB sites. Remember this when you are warm and dry and can drive to your transmitter on paved roads. This HAS been an unusual winter so far!
Click on pictures for full-sized images.

The road to KTVR & KUNP, Mt Fanny, East of La Grande after the last wind storm.

       

More than a dozen trees had to be removed. This trip took an entire day to just clear the road. Most recent trip to the site took 4 1/2 hours each way by sno track vehicle.

Icing on the towers and antennas at Beaver Mtn, near Baker City. VSWR was higher than usual...

Sometimes the extreme weather comes with beauty as well. Beaver Mtn, near Baker City, home of rural TV translators, an FM station, and multiple communication facilities.

       

On the way up to Beaver Mtn. You can bet that the crew from the Qwest office in Baker City were mighty glad to see the OPB snow track coming up the road. No, snow vehicles can't go everywhere!

Sunday morning services at Basket Mtn, near Milton Freewater. The antenna had been blown off the mounts, knocking out all tv translators.

Yes, even Eugene got a good dump of snow this year. Blanton Heights, South of Eugene. Autzen Stadium at UofO in the center of picture.

All for now.
Thanks, CUL, & 73, Ev

 

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DTV Change-Over News

Be Ready for the end of Broadcast Television as we knew it...

Applying for converter box coupons:
Web: www.mydtv2009.com
Phone: 800-DTV-2009

Stations needing DTV education graphics for their Web site:
www.dtvanswers.com/graphicelements

PowerPoint presentations from NAB’s November 28 meeting:
www.dtvanswers.com/powerpoint
The NAB suggests that the best information to convey to viewers is:
1-Date of transition
2-How to get coupons
3-Costs of DTV sets
4-List of stations that will broadcast DTV
5-Where to get boxes

 

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SBE News

FROM THE CHAIR

PROFESSIONAL PROFESSIONALS
By Dennis Baldridge,
Chapter 24 Chair

" Always do right — this will gratify some and astonish the rest." —Mark Twain, 1901

Doing what is right is at the heart of the SBE’s Canon of Ethics —standards outlined in four main areas encompassing 27 sections. The first area, "Professional Life," includes:

Section 1. The Broadcast Engineer will cooperate in extending the effectiveness of the engineering profession by interchanging information and experience with other broadcast engineers and students and by contributing to the work of engineering societies, schools and the scientific and engineering press.

Section 2. The Broadcast Engineer will avoid all conduct or practice likely to discredit or unfavorably reflect upon the dignity or honor of the profession.

The first section describes the ideal working relationship between engineers and the members of greater broadcast industry or related disciplines. Ethics enable. True professional engineers will interact in such a way as to strengthen others, making them better equipped and ready to succeed. Professional ethics involves not only seeing that our work is done properly but allows our own experiences to benefit others. Professional principles promote progress throughout the industry.

The second section speaks of responsibility; knowing and doing what is expected of us. When we as broadcast engineers maintain proper conduct honoring the profession, it reflects our personal character by demonstrating our respect for those in leadership and the authorities they represent.

Let us all work to practice the SBE’s Canon of Ethics, particularly in our professional life, by doing what is right.

Focus on the SBE Marketing Committee

Conrad Trautmann, CPBE, Chairman

At the 2007 SBE National Meeting in Pittsburgh, the SBE Board of Directors voted yes on the formation of a new committee called the “Marketing Committee.” I was lucky enough to be appointed the committee’s first chairman. Committee members include Tom Ray of Buckley Broadcasting, Vincent Lopez of WSYT/WNYS, Syracuse, Jim Leifer of Clear Channel Radio, Florida and Gary Kline of Cumulus Broadcasting.

The primary goal of the committee is to increase the visibility of the Society beyond the existing member base. Secondary goals include fostering better communication amongst our members, assisting with our recruiting efforts to increase membership, helping to write and review press release information and to assist the national office with our advertising efforts.

If you’re reading this now, you’re seeing the fruits of the committee’s first successful initiative.

SBE-news was a team effort in which the committee, along with help from Executive Director, John Poray and President, Barry Thomas, worked to pull together details to create and distribute this. The logistics of sending out a national email are more than you might think. We had to find a vendor to send the emails to over 4,000 email addresses. We needed someone who could send that many emails without getting caught in every spam filter. We had to come up with a schedule for the year and decide what content would go in each one. And we needed to be creative on ways to cover the distribution expenses with advertising, so there would be no additional expenses to members.

We managed to do all of that and the response has been extremely positive from our members. We’re hearing from people who don’t get to attend meetings regularly. We’re getting important information about the society into our member’s hands. We have a way now to be more timely on notifications of events like our National Meeting. And we now have a way to reach you all with time sensitive information and current events. We’re thrilled that you’re allowing us to send this information to you and encourage you to use the link below to forward this to friends of yours who are not members and encourage them to join.

Watch for future committee projects including advertisements in our industry trade publications highlighting the benefits of membership and certification. We also are planning a membership drive emphasis and special promotion for the week of the spring NAB show. If you have suggestions on things you’d like to see from the society, please let us know. Thank you to my esteemed committee members, President Barry Thomas and to John Poray at National for their help and support of the committee’s efforts.

College Credit for Your SBE Certification:

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.

Megan Clappe

Certification Director Society of Broadcast Engineers
9102 N. Meridian Street, Suite 150
Indianapolis, IN 46260
mclappe@sbe.org

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 2008 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 mclappe@sbe.org

Exam Dates Location Application Deadline
Apr 15, 2008 NAB Feb 29, 2008 (past-ref. only)
Jun 6-16, 2008 Local Chapters Apr 18, 2008
Aug 8-18, 2008 Local Chapters Jun 6, 2008
Nov 7-17, 2008 Local Chapters Sep 19, 2008

Fees for 2007 are as Follows:

Certification Level Member Non-Member
Broadcast Technologist $40 $103
Broadcast Networking Technologist $55 $118
Broadcast Engineer $55 $118
Audio/Video Engineer $55 $118
Senior Broadcast Engineer $80 $143
Professional Broadcast Engineer $105 $168
Specialist Certification    
AM Directional Specialist $50 $113
8VSB Specialist $50 $113
Digital Radio Broadcast Specialist $50 $113

Please 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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Etc.

Newsletter Committee

Bill Harris - Editor In Chief
  (505) 767-6735
  billharris@ix.netcom.com

  Garneth M. Harris

  Tom Goldberg - On-Line Editor

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Views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the official positions of the Societies, its officers, or its members. We regret, but are not liable for, any omissions or errors. The Denver SBE and SMPTE Newsletter is published approximately twelve times per year. It is prepared with a combination of text and graphic data. Submission deadline is 10 days before the last day of each month. Other SBE or SMPTE chapters are permitted to use excerpts if attributed to the original authors, sources, and the Denver SBE/SMPTE Newsletter.