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April 4, 2009

 

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April 2009 Newsletter

SBE Chapter 48 / SMPTE Rocky Mountain Section

March 2009 Meeting Report: Meeting Canceled

Chris Pannell of Statmon Technologies was to have spoken on the topic of
"Remote Monitoring Technologies for Radio and Television."
Unfortunately, our speaker had to cancel due to a skiing injury.

 

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Random Radio Thoughts


Cris Alexander, CPBE, AMD
Crawford Broadcasting Company

Where Are the Towers?
One of the requirements of the new FCC AM “modeling” rules is that stations submit an as-built survey showing the tower locations. We have done several of these now in preparation for modeling and relicensing some of our arrays, and so far so good. But that has not universally been the case.

Those of you who have had a new directional array built know how it works. First, the surveyor comes out and does his thing, carefully staking all the tower base locations per the array specifications. Then the tower contractor comes along and adds four or more stakes at a fixed radius around the tower base stake so that he can run a string between opposite stakes and have the strings intersect over the originally-marked base location. Next comes the backhoe. The original stake disappears into a pile of dirt, and if you’re lucky, all of the others remain in place. The hole is dug and the rebar cage is constructed with the base pier center directly under those intersecting strings. When the concrete is poured and cures, that tower base will be in exactly the right spot, right?

In my experience, there is a lot of room for stuff to go wrong in this process. First, surveyors range from extremely competent to barely competent. It’s not unheard of for a surveyor to set up an array layout with respect to magnetic north rather than True north, and unless he first establishes True north with a sun or Polaris shot, you’re likely to get something other that True bearings. Like many of us, some surveyors tend to be lazy. Many times, such surveyors will simply work from the reference pins set by others, assuming that they were positioned correctly. Maybe they were, and maybe they weren’t. If they weren’t, it’s most likely that the tower lines won’t be right.

The 27th Law of Thermodynamics (or maybe it’s some other law of physics, probably penned by a guy named Murphy) says, “Anytime a backhoe is involved, with respect to positional measurements all bets are off.” It’s pretty easy for one or more of the perimeter stakes to be knocked over by the backhoe bucket or a load of dirt. At that point, the tower contractor may just guess at where it belongs, or he may try to properly reposition it himself. If this happens with the first tower in an array of three or more towers, it’s no big deal – he can simply set up a transit over one of the other tower bases, shoot a bearing to one of the other tower stakes and then reset the position of the tower with the missing stake. But if it happens later in the process (or with a two-tower array), we’re back to guessing.

Finally, the Sonotube and rebar cage can shift when the wet concrete comes down the chute and hits it. It may not shift much, but if one tower shifts six or eight inches in one direction and another shifts six or eight in another, pretty soon you’re dealing with a positional error approaching one electrical degree on the high end of the band.

I think that improper tower geometry accounts for at least some of the difficulties that engineers have had over the years in tuning up directional arrays. As we move farther into the model-licensing process, I think that more and more of these will show up. As we fix them (mostly by redesigning the patterns to work with the as-built array geometry), we’re bound to clean up some interference issues on the AM band.

Digital Host Interference
Many of you probably read the Doug Vernier feature in the February 18, 2009 issue of Radio World Engineering Extra about digital host interference. I found the piece interesting, but not because I am alarmed about the possibility of such interference on any of our digital FM stations.

The case cited was a Minnesota Public Radio station (KNOW) that used a 10-bay antenna for its analog signal and a collocated one-bay for its digital. The tower is evidently located in a populated or traveled area. I can perhaps understand why MPR took this approach – it was (relatively) cheap. They used their licensed auxiliary antenna for the digital and didn’t mess with their analog at all. My company has done this in a couple of markets, but not with antennas so different from one another.

The key here is both the disparity in the antenna apertures and the proximity to the service area. The ten-bay antenna has some deep nulls in the vertical plane that intersect the ground within a short distance of the tower. The one-bay has no nulls. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that there will be rings around the site where there will be very little analog signal and a great deal of digital signal. Interference is all about ratios, specifically the undesired-to-desired (U/D) ratio. When that ratio exceeds the rejection capability of the receiver being employed, you have audible, objectionable interference. So it should have been no surprise when it happened in the KNOW case.

I’m reminded of the old comedy routine where the doctor asks the patient, “What’s the matter?” “It hurts when I do this,” says the patient. “So don’t do that,” quips the doctor.

Regardless of power levels, if you want to avoid digital host interference, don’t exceed whatever that U/D ratio is. Presumably it is somewhere around -10 dB. Employ common amplification or an interleaved antenna designed for digital hybrid broadcasting. Use sufficient isolation in transmitter output circuits to prevent IM products from being generated and transmitted. If you do that, you can keep the self-interference monster at bay.

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 first week of March I was at our KEZW transmitter site wiring up audio out of a Starguide 3 receiver for a special audio feed being broadcast by KALC and KQMT when I all of a sudden noticed dying receiver signal strength indicators on not one or two but all 6 of my sat receivers, and one of them on a different dish (pointed at the AMC-8 Satellite).  What the heck I thought, now, it was a windy day, very windy in fact but all 6 receivers?  It didn’t make any sense at all.  I went out to the dishes behind the building and they certainly seemed steady enough.  What the heck again?  I went back in the building and went, “WAIT A MINUTE”, where is the SUN?  Sure enough, I went back out to the dishes (this around 2:55pm) or so, and sure enough, the dishes seemed to be pointing RIGHT AT THE SUN.  Good ole SunFade got me.  10 minutes or so later, all receivers were back at full signal strength, and so , Ole Sol had a “gotcha” on me.  Glad I figured that one out before I called a bunch of people wondering what the heck……….

The first week of March as well there was and still is as of this writing a big power pole replacement job going on up on Lookout Mountain.  On Tuesday of that week a BIG power hit took out some fuses on the Continental 817R analog transmitter, so as soon as I got the call I switched to the back FM+IBOC capabilities of the BE FMi-1405.  That worked, got the AM show back on the air, and proceeded to go up to Lookout Mountain.  Jeff and I spent some time since it was down and the BE seemed stable to clean the PA cavity, dust out the transmitter, and put the tube back in and put er’ back on the air.  THE MINUTE we were ready to turn on the plates on the Continental, another power bump hit and the BE went down, so on with the Continental and we turned our attention to the BE.  Now to make a really long story short, (believe me a really LONG 3 day story), after not being able to get any readings via hyperterminal into the transmitter, the displays being totally crazy, and STUMPING tech support at BE,
We finally found a weird reading on the temperature sensor readout, reading 726 degrees even though the transmitter had not been running for awhile.  We disconnected the temp sensor, buried way down in the bottom of the transmitter, and the thing finally displayed on the front and came back up on the air.  I wished we could have found this sooner, but all’s well that ends well.  When we installed the new temp sensor,

Finally to some amateur radio news, the big ARRL DX contest weekend was March 7 & 8, and was really exciting as I worked the Azore Islands, Portugal, Spain, Jamaica and more stations in the eastern Carribean, Argentina, and even Italy on 20 meters, and some on 15 meters.  I didn’t have time to really concentrate on working the whole weekend, but still managed to work 15-20 different DX stations including Hawaii on both bands.  Kenny, K4KR, reported that he worked more that 100 stations before he even realized it.  Great way to work your way toward DXCC, and it is a lot of fun.  I even managed my success on 100 watts and a vertical.  The best way I have found to get to the DX station thru the pileups with antenna situation is to wait until they have worked all the big stations calling, letting the radio sit for awhile and going to do something else, then coming back and working the guy.  That is how I bagged CU2A in the Azore Island.  And a couple of weeks ago, I heard the SMARTEST DX station operation I have ever heard.  He was working stations by saying QRZ, this is (his call, a French station, I don’t remember the call) Q R Zed.  Then, he would listen for a minute or so as a pileup called him, then he would come back on and ask for, “ok, the Whiskey Zulu, work that station, then go to another for about 8 stations or so, then call Q R Zed again and listen for another 8 calls or so.  I got him as the last call of a series after about 3 rounds.  I was really impressed with this instead of the usual trying to work one station after another singularly with a blasting pileup that takes forever. 

And, actually I had intended to do a review of the Satscape satellite tracking software this issue, but time didn’t permit me to give the information all the attention that I wanted to write about, so I will save that for a later issue.  There is a lot of fun to be had tracking and communicating via the amateur satellites, so I will cover that one later.  This month I have monitored several passes of the ARISS (amateur radio on board the International space station) and used Satscape to not only track for the radio passes but we also had the opportunity this month to see the ISS as it orbited overhead just after nightfall here in Denver earlier this month.  Check the www.spaceweather.com for lots of information on when these orbiting objects are visible, and Satscape even has a provision for tracking visible satellites.  My kids got a big kick out of seeing the ISS as it orbited over very brightly.

Jack Roland passes along this photo for our amusement:

We think the problem is in the red, white or blue striped wire! 

73’ for this month
De KEØVH

 

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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

Welcome to Spring…………Things here in the low-lands are starting to turn green and bud, but up in the mountains, it’s another story.  I am writing this on March 23nd having just returned from yet another snowshoe hike at West Tiger.  Thankfully DNR had the road plowed so we were able to drive up there.   Had they not done so, we would be having to rely on snowmobiles or a snow cat.   I recall last year, when we also had a lot of snow at West Tiger, there was a lot of talk that it was a freak winter…Uh huh !

Big news around these parts is that the FCC has approved of the sale of KBKS (106.1) to Clear Channel.  The actual transfer is April 1.    With the economic situation these events are few and far between these days.

Sad to hear of the passing of Bill O’Mara.   Oldsters remember watching him on KING-5 doing sports and, of course, the hydro’s on Lake Washington.  I had my chance to work with Bill, many years ago, doing broadcasts of ‘limited’ boat races.   Understand he was 92.   For those of us that are beyond what most call retirement age, he was quite an inspiration.

Lets not forget the passing of a broadcasting legend this past month, Paul Harvey and
Bill Lane, part owner of RF Specialties also left us in late February.

Another passing is KIRO 710 AM as they change to ESPN Sports Radio.  After all these years, who would have thought that KIRO would not be doing morning news?   And who would have thought that they’d shift their news-talk to a Tacoma licensed FM station?

Andy Skotdol continues to make news in the Snoqualmie Valley now that he has turned up the power on KRKO.   I even got to see Andy on TV as one of the local stations did a story about telephone RFI.   Gee no news crew every showed up when I was doing telephone interference mitigation.   The fact that Andy wants to install a couple more towers has also been a factor.  Here’s a link to one of the TV reports -
http://www.king5.com/video/index.html?nvid=342515&shu=1

Years of wondering have come to an end and Seattle has become a one-newspaper town.   With the passing of he PI, and a couple of years ago, the King County Journal, we are left with the Tribune from Tacoma and the Times in Seattle….for a while.   There
Is certainly talk about the possible demise of these.  McClatchy, owner of the Tribune, is cutting about 1600 jobs nationwide or about 15%.   Perhaps my age is showing, but
I really enjoy a newspaper.    I recall many years ago when newspapers were the thing to be feared in the world of advertising with Radio and TV way down the list.   Today,
we are all hanging on –  The PI is charting new territory with what will reportedly be an on-line only product.  All eyes are on this experiment.  Will the PI, on line, work?..Time will tell.   Certainly Newspapers as well as broadcasters are frantically trying to figure out how to create new financial model that will permit them to continue and this certainly involves everything on-line.   The fate of the PI may well be the canary in the coal mine here.

 

On that topic – Here is a collection of items about how the economic situation is impacting our biz - 

Morris Communications, who owns stations in the PNW, has announced they are reducing salaries by 5 to 10%.

Our states economic woes have impacted the Clover Park Technical College as they have announced they shutting down of programs, among them – Their class in Video Production.

A recent issue of Radio World has a rather long list of radio stations that are now dark. Of the over 85 AM’s listed, none are in Washington State….on the list of over 100 FM’s, 4 of them are in our state. One of them is a LPFM in Yakima.  

Salem Communications, which operates a number of AM stations in this area, announced the their Q4 revenues were down 8.6 %

Fisher has announced that their radio revenues fell by 18.3% in Q4, however overall revenue was up 7.2%

The economy is hitting those at the top also – According to published reports, CBS Chairman Sumner Redstone has lost 80% of his net worth. 

According to Moody, the outfit that rates businesses etc, there are several  radio ownerships that may end up defaulting, including big names like  – Emmis, Citadel and Salem.   They also list several TV and newspaper ownerships.   Citadel is an example of how bad things can get.   Their final day on the big-board saw their stock priced at 1-cent.

Entercom, operator of 4 FM’s in Seattle, reported Q4 revenue down 14%.

Belo, operator of channels 5 and 16 here, has dropped their 401K match and laid off 150 across the country.  The axe reportedly fell here in Seattle also.  I have no report of just how many were impacted.
.
If it makes you feel any better, Paul Allen has lost some 7 Billion with his investment in struggling cable company, Charter.

You have to wonder if a lot of what we have grown up with will become, just like us, extinct….A friend of mine recently sent me a list of things that are about to become extinct in America –

– The Yellow Pages – Don’t you look for numbers  on-line now?

- Classified Ads – Remember when those made up a large part of the daily
- Movie Rental Stores – More fall out from every increasing on-line speeds.
- Dial-up Internet Access – Gee there are still some that hang on to slow speed.
– Landline telephones – I wrote about this recently.   I guess the fact that I have DSL is a factor for me keeping my land-line.  Even if it only gets a fraction of the calls these days.
- VCR’s – For about 30 years they were king – How come I still hear the word tape on TV these days…and when they play back a recording of a 911 call – they show an old video of an old Ampex reel to reel – (come on TV – time to show the viewers a picture of a server with blinking LED’s !
-  Answering Machines – Yikes – Another age related issue, I still have one !
-  Film Cameras – Even the file die-hards have gone digital
-  Incandescent Bulbs – Looking at the local big-box retailer, they are still stocking them. Hard to believe that CFL’s  and LED’s will replace every size of light-bulb…but maybe.
-  Bowling Alleys – Hard to find them these days…but I have not been looking.
-  The Milkman – Back in 1950 over half of the milk was delivered to a home, not anymore.  
- Hand-Written Letters – Can you remember the last time you wrote a letter –with a pen or pencil?
-  Personal Checks – Another age related issue – today its plastic everything.
- Drive-in Theaters – Gee I thought they were gone
 -  News Magazines– News stands are not what they used to be and those magazines that hang on are getting pretty skinny. 
- Analog TV – Certainly the over the air kind.  But what about all those analog sets that are fed by cable?   Will the cable outfits, someday, pull the plug on analog?

Guess what else is going away?..... Last month, the US Coast Guard www.uscg.mil announced that due to economic conditions, they would be closing down the 24 LORAN-C (Long Range Aid to Navigation) www.navcen.uscg.gov/loran/default.htm stations operated under the auspices of the USCG.    Guess this means those big towers over at George will be coming down?
If you are not a boater you may have missed the fact that NOAA has stopped using it’s satellites to monitor 121.5 MHz for analog distress beacons.  Replacing them is new digital devices operating on 406 MHz.
The FCC was not amused as Mt Spokane high school decided to install a cellular jamming transmitter to deal with students using texting and calling on their wireless devices.  
High winds took down a tower in South Carolina belonging to WSPA-TV in early March.   A good load of ice helped with the disaster.
I attended the annual Mike and Key Amateur Radio Club electronic flea market this past month with Dwight Small and Marty Hadfield.  Was good to see old friends.   Was good to see Walt Jamison holding fort at a table selling some good-ole-stuff.   If you enjoy this type of activity…Mark your calendar for the following events –
The annual Seaside Hamfest, SeaPac at Seaside, Oregon, June 6 and 7th
Radio Club of Tacoma Hamfest – August 8th in Spanaway.
Despite all the rumors that the FCC can only work on DTV Conversion…the good news is that they did take down a pirate operator in Milwaukee and fined him 10 Grand.  They also nailed some stations in North Dakota for Public File violations.
Can you say - here we go again?  Apparently a California representative is annoyed by loud TV spots and had introduced ‘the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act’  in Congress.   Perhaps it’s time to look in the attic for that trusty CBS Loudness Controller (remember those?)
Sure was happy to see Costco now selling HD Radios.  They have a display set up that demonstrates a $99 Teac, has a list of stations that are running HD and multicasting an by pushing a button a recording explains what HD Radio is all about.   I was impressed that the receiver, without an outside antenna, was able to receive all the major area HD Radio stations as well as their multicast channels.   An atta-boy to Costco.
On the subject of HD – I see where Larcan is joining others and will offer an HD-Radio translator.   Now what are we going to do about all those analog TV translators out there?
No more delays, so said the President.   Does this mean that we can count on the date in June to say goodbye to analog TV? 

What’s happening with the FM move-in, KMCQ, to Covington.   According to what I’ve heard they are still trying to figure out how to shift the frequency of KAFE in Bellingham that would permit KMCQ to move to Cougar Mt.   Albeit at considerably lower power than the others on that mountain that range from 50 to 100 Kw ERP.  Reportedly the stations owners are trying to sell the property….Problem is, with the economy the way it is now, no one is buying.

The Census Bureau is out with new population info about our state – Here are a couple tid-bits about the changes over this past year –

> Washington state grew 1.5% to 6.55 Million
> The Seattle area grew 1.4%
> Olympia grew 2.9% to just over 245,000
> The fastest growing area continues to be Vancouver/Clark County.
> Since 2000, our state has grown 11% adding just over 655,000 people.

I’m always happy to report an Engineer moving up.   In this case, Dan Dickey has moved up to President of Continental Electronics, long time maker of transmitters in Dallas, Tx.  Had a chance to spend a day with Dan a few years ago, great guy – Congrats Dan!

And finally – For those of you that really know your tools – I leave you with the following, sometimes quite accurate, description of certain tools –
DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, denting the freshly-painted project which you had carefully set in the corner where nothing could get to it.
WIRE WHEEL: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprints and hard-earned calluses from fingers.
ELECTRIC HAND DRILL: Normally used for spinning pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age.
SKILL SAW: A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short.
PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in the creation of blood-blisters.
BELT SANDER: An electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs.
HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.
VISE-GRIPS: Generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available.
OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for thawing pipes while also burning surrounding materials.
TABLE SAW: A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch wood projectiles for testing wall integrity.
SKILL SAW:  A powerful electrical powered device designed to rapid cut wood into pieces that are too short.   The name has nothing to do with those that own them.
PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.
STRAIGHT SCREWDRIVER: A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws and butchering your palms.
HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent the object we are trying to hit.
UTILITY KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts,  clothes and fingers.
DANG-IT TOOL: Any handy tool that you grab and throw across the garage while yelling 'DANG-IT' at the top of your lungs. It is also, most often, the next tool that you will need.

Enjoy Spring my friends….hope to see you in the sunshine in Las Vegas
Clay, K7CR, CPBE

-0-


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Amateur Radio News

Compiled By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
Thanks to Madison Chapter 24

Even though the mandatory analog TV shutdown date has been delayed by four months, ham radio operators are still assisting the FCC and their communities by providing technical support to those who need assistance. American Radio Relay League Media and Public Relations Manager Allen Pitts, W1AGP, said he has been getting e-mails and phone calls from Amateur Radio operators concerning the digital TV conversion. “People are asking what’s happening with the DTV conversion — especially now that it’s been delayed — and wondering what we as hams can do to help,” he said. “There has been considerable confusion concerning the extension of the date, but the role of Amateur Radio is simply to be helpful to the people in our communities.”

Late last year, the FCC requested assistance from the ARRL in providing educational support to local communities regarding the digital TV conversion. “I really appreciate the willingness of the ARRL to actively participate in helping Americans with the transition to DTV and your helpful suggestions,” said George Dillon, FCC Deputy Bureau Chief for Field Operations (now retired). “Our goal is to engage the amateur community on a cooperative basis to help with the DTV outreach and to educate consumers.”

A rare winter tornado struck Oklahoma around dinnertime on Tuesday, February 10. According to various news reports, Oklahoma officials credited Amateur Radio operators with spotting the tornadoes and relaying the information to the National Weather Service. ARRL Oklahoma Section Emergency Coordinator Charles Goodson, KC5UEG, told the ARRL that the Southern Oklahoma ARES group and other Amateur Radio operators from the Ardmore area served as SKYWARN storm spotters. “It was amateur operators who had the first visual contact with the tornadoes. They started reporting the tornado to Neil Mayo, KC5AMX, the Emergency Coordinator for Murray County and our Net control for severe weather events; he in turn reports to the National Weather Service in Norman via Amateur Radio.”
On the other side of the world in the Australian state of Victoria, Amateur Radio operators were activated to provide communications links into towns that have had their normal communications destroyed by the bushfires that have decimated the state. Members of the Wireless Institute Civil Emergency Network in Victoria were activated on February 8, with members being deployed to areas with loss of power and other facilities.

(Excerpts from the American Radio Relay League’s <arrl.org> web site

 

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SBE News

The SBE serves you!

Dennis Baldridge/Chapter 24

The SBE provides many services which are designed to enhance the career and personal development of its members. From job searches to insurance and credit cards, the SBE offers members the benefits that one would expect from a mature supporting organization. The SBE’s personal resources section at www. sbe.org articulates a number of these opportunities. This month I would like to look at two services specifically designed to advance your career.

In the 2009 economy, some organizations are downsizing while others are adjusting assets. Sometimes either our job is in jeopardy or we realize that it is time to look for a position better suited to our abilities. On the SBE’s website, members can locate available broadcast engineering positions throughout the country. In addition, they can also participate in the SBE Resume Bank: an online posting of anonymous resume profiles comprised solely of SBE members for prospective employers to view. This is a great opportunity to detail our personal strengths: the skills that help us do our work well. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said “Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.” The online Resume Bank is an excellent place to document your abilities and certification.

Access the SBE’s member services to enhance your career – they are there to help you achieve your goals.

Television Operator’s Certification Handbook NEW for 2009!

The new 7th edition of the SBE Television Operator's Certification Handbook is now available. The 7th edition has been totally rewritten and updated to include the latest developments in digital television. It is designed for the entry level, non-technical pool of applicants that fill master control positions in today's television marketplace.

The SBE Television Operator's Certification Handbook is written by three experts in television broadcast engineering including, Dane E. Ericksen, P.E., CSRTE, 8-VSB, CBNT, senior engineer with Hammett & Edison, Inc., Consulting Engineers and is a member of the SBE national board of directors.  Douglas W. Garlinger, CPBE, 8-VSB, CBNT, of MediaFlo-USA, has been in television engineering management for more than 35 years. He earlier served as director of engineering for LeSea Broadcasting for 23 years. Joe Snelson, Jr., CPBE, 8-VSB, is vice president and director of engineering for the Meredith Broadcasting Group, a position he has held since 1998.  All three men are members of the national SBE Certification Committee.

The 7th edition includes practical information on the Emergency Alert System, FAA tower lighting, remote control operation, FCC power levels, program sources, ingesting, Children's Television time restrictions and more. It contains new and updated information on how TV facilities work, operating the station, the duties of master control operators and maintaining the station logs. It explains the digital signal path as programming passes through typical equipment found in a modern digital master control. The last chapter provides a basic introduction to the principles of 8-VSB transmission, video compression, PSIP and the DTV formats used to display the video picture on the home receiver.

Purchase of the handbook includes an optional exam that leads to certification by the SBE as a Certified Television Operator (CTO). The price for one copy is just $49.00, plus $3 for shipping and handling, and includes the cost of the certification exam.  Educational institutions will receive a 10% discount on the purchase price when ordering five or more copies. All others will receive a 5% discount on orders of five to nine copies and 10% on orders of ten or more copies. For more information, please contact the SBE National Office.

A Matter of Time

Following is an excerpt from a message thread on the SBE Mailing List:

I love to return the favor by calling folks on the 'right-coast' at about 5 PM our time....at home of course.

You'd think this would be something that everyone would learn in school... Ooooops - I forgot - Telling time by using an analog clock (the old type with 'hands' and not digits) is no longer a priority...why should I be surprised that time zone conversion would be an issue. Just how many radio jocks could back-time into a network feed these days?

The older you get the more you long for the good old days. The more technical you are, the worse it is.
=====
Folks like the ones in the east who call us here in California at 5:30 am because they think it's three hours *later* out here? Good luck!
=====
Adding to the problem is the issue of daylight time and last years changes that have required manual changes to many items.

Thanks for the interesting observation about the FCC.

I agree that getting folks to read clocks is another issue. The only fly in the ointment is operators that have to read the time.
=====
I would much rather go with UTC. It makes life much easier. In a previous job the crew I worked with finished changing all the clocks about 5 months after the time change. It was a major pain finding all of the clocks that needed to be modified.
=====
You have to wonder why this was not done long ago. Love it !
=====
I love the idea. In fact it would be a no brainer to put a clock at the control point of the station or near the EAS decoder set to UTC time. It would help train operators of the amount of shift.
=====
What do others on the list think of the idea of the FCC standardizing all times to UTC? All licensed power/pattern changes would be in UTC and EAS messaging could be standardized to UTC. We only change the operator interface to reflect local time, but the equipment would be time Zone and DST agnostic in its actual operation. Off the top of my head it seems like this could be a remedy to a number of problems.

Personally, I see no problem with the standard being the current standard time. UTC, standard time, I fail to see a significant difference in practice. DST, now THAT's a problem no matter how you slice it, and more a waste of time in my opinion.

 

What’s Happening with the Emergency Alert System?

by Clay Freinwald, CPBE Chairman, SBE EAS Committee

A great deal is going on as the process of improving our Emergency Alert System (EAS) moves along.  Here are some examples –

A working group recently completed its task of creating what’s called the, “CAP-Profile.” Their output describes how the Common Alerting Protocol can work with EAS at the same time they agreed on how the next generation EAS equipment will be able to handle the task.   This work then went to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), where they added their touches, and then on to the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), the standard setting organization for review.

FEMA, via one of their contractors, has created an IPAWS (Integrated Public Alert and Warning System) working group that is bringing together a number of the EAS stakeholders.  This group, which includes a number of SBE Members, is reviewing a number of the proposed changes that this next-generation EAS will include.   One element is the requirement that all EAS participants have CAP-capable equipment within 180 days of FEMA approving the use of CAP for EAS.   SBE, as well as other broadcast related organizations, is considering whether or not this timetable is realistic.
Another group with SBE involvement is the EAS-CAP Advisory Committee.   This organization, made up of SBE, NAB, the National Alliance of State Broadcaster Associations (NASBA) as well as emergency management and cable TV organizations, is working independently on various aspects of this transition following the “SBE EAS CAP Roadmap.”
At the end of March was the EAS Summit in Washington, D.C., where government and private entities came together to discuss and deal with the issues before us.
The upcoming NAB convention in Las Vegas will feature a two-hour session on Monday, April 20, where you will have the opportunity to learn more about the coming changes to EAS as well as ask questions.  It will be held in Conference Rooms 7 and 8 of the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

SBE encourages you to learn more about IPAWS and CAP by entering these terms in your favorite browser.   You can also learn more about EAS and the “Roadmap” on the SEB Web Site.

 

SBE RF Safety Web-Seminar for Broadcast Engineers

The Society of Broadcast Engineers will present the SBE RF Safety Course on Thursday, May 21 from 6:30 pm to 9:45 pm, EDT (3:30 pm to 6:45 pm PDT). The course is designed for broadcast station personnel such as chief and assistant chief engineers, transmitter site engineers, ENG and SNG maintenance personnel and management that need to have an understanding of RF safety issues and regulations. Instructing the course will be RF safety expert, Richard Strickland of RF Safety Solutions.

Course Description & Content
The SBE RF Safety Course provides an overview of RF radiation issues and practices for broadcasters.

  • Biological effects of RF radiation and the distinct differences between RF radiation and ionizing radiation FCC and OSHA regulations - what they are and what you need to do to comply Workplace hazards
    • Transmitter Sites
    • SNG and ENG trucks
    • Remote operations (where news personnel can find problems such as on rooftops)
    • The unique issues at AM stations
  • RF hazard protection equipment - you may not need it but your contractors probably will
  • Signs - what they mean and what you need Each participant will receive a course “hand-out” via e-mail prior to the course.

The course makes use of MS Power Point and is interactive - questions can be asked at any time during the course. Those who complete the course will receive a certificate of completion through the mail from the Society of Broadcast Engineers. It is recommended that persons taking the SBE RF Safety Course have at least a basic knowledge of electronics and understand the concept of frequency. Taking this course meets the FCC education requirement for those working in broadcast RF exposure areas. SBE recertification credit may also be earned by completing this course.

Log-in Port Reservations
To accommodate the anticipated interest in this course, we encourage SBE chapters to consider hosting the course at a suitable training site where local members can be accommodated, such as a broadcast station conference room with Internet connection and telephone line.

At each site where more than just a few will gather, an LCD projector and screen will be needed with an Internet-connected computer for the video portion of the training. The audio will be via toll-free telephone connection and should be amplified as needed for the size of the audience. Log-in ports are limited to only nine for this course.

There is no fee charged for a chapter to host a course. Each participant will register individually.

Each host-site organizer will be given a web-address and a toll-free telephone number to access the course.

The course is limited to nine log-in ports. The number of participants at each log-in port is only limited by the seating capacity of the room and the audio and video equipment used to listen to and view the course. To reserve one of the nine ports, contact the SBE National Office at RFSafetyCourse@sbe.org or (317) 846-9000. We’ll need to know your name, your chapter and email and telephone contact information for the person hosting the site. We’ll also need the name and address of the location and the number of participants the location can accommodate for the course.

Log-in port reservations by SBE chapters will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis and are being offered solely to SBE chapters through February. Beginning March 1, log-in port reservations, if still available, will be open to anyone. To hold the chapter’s log-in port reservation, at least one individual paid registration must be received within two weeks of reserving the log-in port.

How Individuals Can Register
Each individual participant must be registered for the course. Registrations must be received by 12:00 Noon EDT on Wednesday, May 20.

Course Fee:
SBE members - $85 per participant

Non-members - $125 per participant

We encourage people to register using the SBE’s on-line system. Once a chapter has reserved a log-in port, the chapter location will be listed on the SBE website. Go to the SBE website, seminars page: http://sbe.org/edu_seminars.php and click on the location you wish to attend. Complete the registration form. Payment can be accepted using VISA, MasterCard or American Express. Registration using a check for payment may be mailed to the SBE National Office at SBE, 9102 N. Meridian Street, Suite 150, Indianapolis, IN 46260. You may also fax your registration form with credit card information to SBE at (317) 846-9120.

Questions? Call SBE at (317) 846-9000

About our Instructor, Richard Strickland
Richard Strickland founded RF Safety Solutions in 2001 after ten years as Director of Business Development for Narda Safety Test Solutions, the world’s leading supplier of RF safety measurement and monitoring products. He initiated the development of RF radiation training courses at Narda and has conducted courses ranging from basic employee awareness seminars to in-depth application specific courses. Audiences have included environmental health and safety professionals, engineers, technicians, attorneys, communications industry professional consulting engineers and senior managers of major corporations, government organizations, and professional groups.

He has been both a featured speaker and a member of the radio frequency radiation panel at the National Association of Broadcasters, the Radio Club of America, and the International Wireless Conference and Exposition.

Mr. Strickland has provided consulting and training services to ABC Radio, ABC Television, British Aerospace, Cornell University, ESPN, Lockheed Martin Corporation, NBC, Raytheon Corporation, SpectraSite Communications, Trinity Broadcasting and the U.S. Coast Guard. He holds an MBA from the University of Massachusetts and a B.A. in Physics from Bridgewater College. He has had more than 35 articles on RF safety, high-power amplifiers and radomes published and has conducted more than 150 public and in-house training courses on RF safety and measurement. SBE is pleased to have Mr. Strickland serve as our instructor for this course.

Cancellation Policy
Participant cancellations will be accepted up to ten business days prior to the course and will receive a full refund, minus a $25 cancellation fee. Cancellations received less than 10 business days prior to the course will not be eligible for a refund. Substitutions are permitted. The SBE reserves the right to cancel or reschedule a course due to insufficient participant registration or other reasons beyond its control.

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.
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.

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.

Excelsior College announces Certification Courses

by Rebecca Troeger
Excelsior College

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:
• CBRE
Certified Broadcast Radio Engineer
• CBTE
Certified Broadcast Television Engineer
• CSRE
Certified Senior Broadcast Radio Engineer
• CSTE
Certified Senior Broadcast Television Engineer
• CPBE
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.

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 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 mclappe@sbe.org

Exam Dates Location Application Deadline
April 21, 2009 NAB April 1 , 2009
June 5-15, 2009 Local Chapters April 17, 2009
August 7-17, 2009 Local Chapters June 5, 2009
November 6-16, 2009 Local Chapters September 18, 2009

Fees for 2009 are as Follows:

Certification Level Member Non-Member
Broadcast Technologist $45 *$45
Broadcast Technologist $45 $111
Broadcast Networking Technologist $55 $121
Broadcast Engineer $60 $126
Audio/Video Engineer $60 $126
Senior Broadcast Engineer $85 $151
Professional Broadcast Engineer $110 $176
Specialist Certification    
AM Directional Specialist $55 $121
8VSB Specialist $55 $121
Digital Radio Broadcast Specialist $55 $121
  *does not include first year membership    

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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Newsletter Committee

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

  Garneth M. Harris

  Tom Goldberg - On-Line Editor

We encourage your feedback and submissions, please contact us through the NEWSLETTER link on our contact page.

Newsletter archives are available online. Visit our Newsletter Archive for an index of newsletter back issues. Note: Old newsletters may contain outdated information, web links or email addresses. News archives are not updated when relevant information changes.

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.