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Last updated:
May 7, 2009

 

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May 2009 Newsletter

SBE Chapter 48 / SMPTE Rocky Mountain Section

April 2009 Meeting Report:

NAB Month - no meeting

 

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Random Radio Thoughts


Cris Alexander, CPBE, AMD
Crawford Broadcasting Company

NAB 2009
It’s hard to believe, but another NAB spring convention is now in the record books. I’ve lost count of how many of these I have attended over the years.

If you asked me to describe this year’s convention in a word, it would be quiet.

In sharp contrast to years past wherein there were 100,000+ in attendance, this year’s gate was a lot closer to 80,000 according to the NAB. I don’t think there were that many there. The NAB probably counts pre- and on-site registrations to come up with their number (how else could they do it?), and my guess is that a lot of those who pre-registered – especially those who had free pre-registrations for exhibits only – didn’t come.

There was one point on Monday afternoon where I found myself in a conversation with several other folks in the middle of the main east-west aisle in the north hall. We probably stood there and chatted for ten minutes and not once were we crowded, jostled or did we feel like we were impeding traffic – there simply was none! And such conversations were easy to have because it was… well… quiet in there.

Several folks asked me what the hit of the show was. I couldn’t really come up with anything. There were certainly new products on the floor, but nothing really got my attention in a big way. It will be interesting to see what Radio World identifies as its “Cool Stuff” award winners.

Sessions
There were some good engineering sessions at the Broadcast Engineering Conference. I had the privilege of moderating one of the best attended, a session on AM antenna modeling and the new FCC technical rules. I had an all-star panel: Ron Rackley, Ben Dawson, John Warner and Glynn Walden. Ron, Ben and John made presentations on modeling and then we all participated in a discussion panel with audience participation. The audience was also a “Who’s Who” collection of the best and brightest in our industry. Things were cooking along really well right up until the NAB came in and ran us out because the room was scheduled for another session following ours.

So did I learn anything? You bet. I got some good information on a number of topics. But I think I learned the most the way I always do at these get-togethers – by simply sitting and talking with those in the know.

It was good to see many of you in the sessions and on the exhibit floor. Seems like that’s about the only time I see some of you (other than the Lookout Mountain picnic!).

KCKK
After several years of battling the new four-tower KCKK array, at long last the station got to crank up its nighttime with some meaningful power last month. KCKK filed a 302-AM under the FCC’s new antenna modeling rules and simultaneously filed for an STA to operate the station with the model-indicated parameters. That STA was granted. The station’s owners and the LMA holder are reportedly happy with the coverage.

There is no indication of when the station will receive official “program test authority” with the model parameters. The FCC is reportedly not granting any licenses filed under the new rules until it has a few months to see if any interference complaints are filed.

KLVZ
This month, Amanda Alexander and the CBC-Denver engineering crew, assisted by Mark Smith and the crew at NRC Broadcasting, plan to move into the new transmitter building at the KLVZ daytime site north of Brighton. The new building has been in place and ready to go for some time now. Beginning May 18, the general contractor will dig the trench to the new building. Amanda and her crew will then run the transmission line, sample line, power and control cable extensions to the new building.

The real trick will be moving the equipment from the old building to the new. The doorway on the new building is about 1-1/2 inches too narrow for the Kintronics phasor, so the GC will have to remove the doorframe to get it in. We’ve certainly been there and done that before!

After the move, the old “building,” really a 1980-vintage construction trailer, will be hauled away from the site. Anyone need a transmitter or storage building? It’s free to the first taker!

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

We have had now two major snowstorms to hit the Denver area, the first hitting about 3 weeks before this latest one as of this writing, the weekend of April 17th and 18th. This caused us a lot of problems with a T-1 line which is our backup for KOSI and KQMT going down due to the storm. I called in a trouble ticket to Qwest on Friday night the 17th, and as of this writing the following Monday it is still down. This is a problem not only due to it being our backup link to the transmitter site but it also carries the network connection which feeds the two HD2’s and KOSI’s RDS and Navteq connection. I am really glad we have a solid radio STL to the site for primary linkage. There was a really strong power hit of some sort Sunday night but by then the roads had been cleared of more than two feet of snow, although just getting thru the gate at the site and on into the building was a real chore at 10:30pm at night. The KOSI transmitter had reduced power due to a couple of fuses blowing in a couple of PA module power supplies. But, keepin’ at it and gettin’ er done was the order of the night!


Early April Blizzard in Denver!
Thank the good Lord nothing went down during this time at the stations!

I am now beaconing where I am again on APRS. This system for amateur radio was invented by Bob Bruninga, WB4APR to further packet radio use and vehicle or other positioning visible on the internet was one by product of the operating mode. Bicycle and runners icons are showing up on APRS maps now from people beaconing their positions out. These packet radio location beacons are sent out from the operators radio via a TNC or many are using a Tiny Tracker (www.byonics.com) or open tracker (www.argentdata.com/products/otplus.html) module type interface, which encodes the NMEA data from a GPS into a packet line transmitted by a radio on 144.39 mhz (the national APRS frequency) that in turn gets picked up by an I-gate station connected to the internet or received via direct RF and displayed on a map.


A map of the Denver area from aprs.fi with my beacon (KEØVH-2) showing up parked at the Entercom building.

This can be really useful for many applications, but as Bob writes on his website www.APRS.org, “APRS is not a vehicle tracking system. It is a two-way tactical real-time digital communications system between all assets in a network sharing information about everything going on in the local area. On ham radio, this means if something is happening now, or there is information that could be valuable to you, then it should show up on your APRS radio in your mobile. APRS also supports global callsign-to-callsign messaging, bulletins, objects email and Voice because every local area is seen by the Internet System (APRS-IS)! APRS should enable local and global amateur radio operator contact at anytime-anywhere and using any device.” So there are many more uses for the communications capability of APRS, it will even send email messages between APRS stations or others over the internet. Among others too, the local EOSS group (www.eoss.org) uses APRS for real time tracking of their high altitude balloon flights, tracking the devices flown via RDF and APRS units in a payload. There are many websites and free software associated with this subject, such as a great program called UI View which can be connected to the internet or a radio with any computer and TNC or a free program for turning your soundcard into a TNC emulator called AGWPE (www.sv2agw.com/) which can be used for many applications.


KPC 3+ TNC with Icom VHF radio/ KE0VH mobile / Garmin Streetpilot GPS and Dual band radio.

The GPS feeds the TNC (will replace with a Open Tracker or Tiny Track 4 unit this month, more on that next month) and then the ICOM radio feeds the center antenna on the car. The antenna on the left is for the 10-meter mobile, and the dual band Yaesu FT-8100 uses the dual band antenna on the right.

I joke with my kids now that they can find dad anytime by clicking on the “wheres dad now” icon on the home computer. You can see too if interested at www.findu.com/cgi-bin/find.cgi?ke0vh-2 or a new site that Derek, KCØLCD told me about, aprs.fi where you can put in the call letters of the station you want to see and it will do live updates as beacons come in so you can see the object being tracked as it moves. I encourage you to check out www.APRS.org for more information and interesting reading.

As I have written about testing it in past columns, we are now using the Comrex Access IP Codec for remote broadcasts for our stations as a primary link. I am really impressed with the ease of setup and use of the units. Chris Crump and Kelly at Comrex were extremely helpful and dedicated to get us up and running real quick for some broadcasts we needed to do. In intial testing of the audio over a WiFi link from my house to the stations we were amazed at the audio quality and lack of much latency using the AAC encoding. I have an audio file that I would be glad to send you of the test recorded back at the studios from my home over my WiFi link there. And it is very versatile, having on on board POTS codec connection for a line coming in and how about this, it is also completely compatible with their older Matrix POTS codecs, so backup is easily accomplished if you were to have a failure of some sort over the internet connection. We will be using the unit for several remotes coming up and I will report on those later.

And please, as always, if you are a ham operator, be sure to join us for the SBE/IRLP hamnet each 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month. Details on how to do so are at www.qsl.net/ke0vh/SBEhamnet.html. We would love to hear from you and share SBE and amateur radio information.

73’ for this month
De KEØVH

 

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So Long and Best of Luck, John!

An open letter from John Switzer:

To My Friends and Acquaintances:

After much consideration, I have elected to accept an early retirement offer from Sony. My last day will be June 1st.

I leave you in the good hands of Cheryl Arment, who lives in the Denver area. Her contact info is:
Cheryl Arment
Ph: (720) 379-8603
Cell: (214) 783-0159
E-mail: Cheryl.Arment@am.sony.com

She works for the same Regional Manager that I have worked for, JoAnn Wolfe. Her contact info is:
JoAnn Wolfe
Ph: (503) 224-9887
Cell: (503) 381-5604
E-mail: JoAnn.Wolfe@am.sony.com

It has been a great honor & pleasure to represent Sony these past 20 years.
If you are inclined to stay in touch post June 1, here is my email address: johnswitzer.358@gmail.com

Best regards,
John

 

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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

Just returned from the NAB Convention in Las Vegas.   Here are some random thoughts….

  • Attendance was, for sure, down.  I understand to about 83,000 this year or about 20%...not bad considering.
  • A lot of mentions of the economy and how it was a big factor
  • A lot of international attendees, reportedly about 25%
  • Vendors I spoke with said they were pleased, noted more interest from smaller market broadcasters (perhaps they were attracted to the lower hotel costs.
  • From Seattle I saw…Jim Dalke, Tom McGinley, Terry Denbrook, Greg Ristau and a large number of the Hatfield and Dawson crew.
  • Jim Dalke (Mr Lucky) won a prize at the Amateur Radio reception (I’ll let him tell you about it)
  • Lots of new information came forth about the new EAS.
  • There is, finally, an HD Radio portable.  Ex-Seattle-guy, John Schnieder was showing it off.
  • Harris introduced a new FM radio transmitter, it’s back to tubes for them.
  • The big buzz was all about TV’s in cell phones.
  • Not to be out done, NAB is pushing FM Radios in cell phones.

At our up-coming meeting, we will all be reporting on a what we saw and learned at NAB, my contribution will be to explain the latest scoop on changes coming to EAS.   We were very fortunate to have Wade Witmer from FEMA speak to the SBE-EAS Session and we learned a bunch.  Bring your questions!  Jim Dalke informed me today that we will be back across the street at our old haunt, formally known as the Black Bear – New menu and owners, great location.
 
One thing you notice about going to Las Vegas is how fast they can build buildings.  Not only are there a lot of workers, but they work on these projects – all hours.  An example of this is the new Fontainebleau.   Located across the street and to the north of the Riviera on the Strip….This place is huge.  To start with is the blue glass tower, some 63 stories high.   Vegas has a lot of tall buildings, this one is a standout.  Reportedly the project will cost 3 Billion.

 

The good news is that the ‘melt’ is well underway.   The ski areas are now closed and I don’t have to snow-shoe to the Entercom facility on West Tiger anymore this year.   What a winter!

On the topic of winter – Have you been following what’s happening with our closest star?  One has to wonder what’s going on.  We were supposed to be well under way with cycle 24 and another increase in sun-spots and with that improved propagation on HF.   For Hams, it’s been a long dry spell and it just keeps going.   Those that track the number of sunspots are telling us that this is much like a situation back in 1913.  20 to 30 days with out sunspots is very unusual.  If you go back further to 1661-1671 the sun went about without spots for a long time… this period, called the Maunder Minimum, has been linked to what they call the little ice-age.   For everyone presently on this planet, what we are experiencing now is a first.

I have been writing about the economy of late for the simple reason that it’s a very popular topic these days.   While in L.V. I heard it referred to in a new way…The ‘great’ recession.   I recall the use of the term ‘great’ to describe the depression of the 30’s.  Seems like a contradiction in terms….How can something bad be great?   Per previous columns, here are some economic tidbits –

Broadcasters are hurting due to advertisers pulling back, but yet a recent survey shows that about 45% report they are not going to movies as much, 36% report they are spending less on newspapers (and we know what happened to newspapers in our town) meanwhile 43% report they are watching more TV news.   Looks like an opportunity to me.

Then there is Sam Zell, when asked about his purchase of the Tribune Company (owners of Ch 13 and 22 – Old analog numbers) here in this area.    His response – 'I made a mistake, I was too optimistic'…adding that he did not anticipate the huge decline in the print media business.  Seems to me that this has been in the news for a long time?

The bad news has reached the Clover Park Technical College and their radio station KVTI.   There are now a number of reasons to suspect that the station might not survive the cuts coming from Olympia.   At one time, Tacoma had two schools training tomorrows radio station operators…..tomorrow ??

Arbitron, the radio ratings outfit, has just announced they are cutting 10% of their staff.  Perhaps PPM requires less work than figuring out diaries?  

Charter Communications whose majority shareholder is none other than Paul Allen has entered into a prearranged Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding in Federal Bankruptcy Court in New York. 21.7 Billion in debt is a pretty big hole.

Recently I wrote about the big 3 media vehicles when I started in this business, almost 50 years ago – Radio, TV and Newspaper.   Now the choices for the advertiser are multiplied.  In this process, radio has been replaced in the #3 slot behind TV and print. Last year the Internets revenue was almost 4 billion more than Radio.

One news item underscoring the severity of this recession – for the first time since their IPO, Microsoft is reporting a quarter where revenues have fallen.

A funny wrinkle is the fact that General Motors is buying TV time with tax payers money via their bail-out funds.  GM, once the biggest company on the planet may, if they are lucky, end up being a small car maker owned by a partnership consisting of their labor unions and us tax payers.  .Who woulda thunk ?

Something we have heard a lot about in residential is foreclosure…we may well see more of it in commercial and that could include broadcast operations.

On the plus side – WBZ (Radio) managed to pull in almost 32 million bucks last year…despite being down almost 3 million from the year before.  That’s 2.6 million per month…..not too bad for a radio station!

And…There are those that are now predicting that the worst is over.
From the  - I stand corrected department.    Reader Donna Briggie straightened me out with the fact that there are – not – just two newspapers in this area, but rather THREE.
She made it clear that the Everett Herald is very much alive and well.   Thanks Donna.

Will there be a power boost for HD Radio ?  The folks at the Ibiquity booth at NAB think so and predicted that perhaps it will happen by this fall.   Meanwhile NPR is doing more work on the impact of the change.   Predictions are that the Commish will wait until the NPR results are in before making the announcement.   My crystal ball says that the FCC will indeed approve a boost, but not likely the 10db one that some have been pushing for.  Likely with something similar to AM where if there are problems, you get to turn the power down.

Looking for a job?  Just learned that Broadcast Electronics is looking for a bilingual tech to work out of their Quincy, Ill office   Interested?  Contact Breg Wheelan at BE.

Big congrats to the crew at our locally owned broadcast company, Fisher, as they recently collected some 9 Murrow’s !

The FCC has  proposed to allocate some space in the region of our Part 74 spectrum and the utilization of new implanted medical devices. The Notice seeks comment on the feasibility of allowing up to 20 megahertz of spectrum in the 413-457 MHz band to be used under the Medical Device Radiocommunication Service (MedRadio Service) in Part 95 of the Commission’s rules, and seeks comment on the allocation of four specific segments for this purpose: 413-419 MHz, 426-432 MHz, 438-444 MHz, and
451-457 MHz..   SBE  - is – responding.    This whole thing underscores the fact that no spectrum is sacred and immune from some new co-channel operation.

One of our state’s US Senators was recently in the news….Senator Maria Cantwell has introduced a bill that would remove third-adjacent signal protection allowing as many as 3,000 new LPFMs. Her bill would also put LPFMs on equal footing with translators, which have had preference in the past.   

Looks like the move of 104.5 from Radio Hill east of Enumclaw to Cougar Mt is back on with the news that there was some juggling of frequencies north of the border.   Reports are that the station is trying to get on the air at Cougar to better attract a buyer.

I am still wondering about the push to get TV into hand-held devices.   Right on the heels of everyone being pushed to buy a giant monster flat screen we are now being told that the future is small…..very small.  Some are predicting that many future wireless devices will have TV’s in them.   One thing helping with this effort is the spectrum, UHF stations have a better chance of being received on these little creatures than would a low-V.   No one has mentioned the issue of operating them in vehicles. 

David Rehr, NAB President said at the convention -   "By 2012, we expect 130 million phones and 25 million media players will be able to receive mobile television.  An NAB study concluded that TV broadcasters could see incremental revenue of more than $2 billion after 2012 with mobile DTV.  I believe the revenue upside is probably greater than we can even imagine."

 You think that the jerk in front of you should hang-up and drive…what’s going to happen when they have live TV.  Not that women would watch a soap while driving ……………never.

Efforts to replace the radio and television systems lost in the World Trade disaster with antennas atop the proposed new Freedom Tower have been called off.   In my discussions with folks at the NAB Show, apparently broadcasters are going to stay with their site on the Empire State Building.   Recently the building did some shuffling to make more room.

From the department of really cool links comes this one – www.fcc.gov/mb/engineering/maps/   A really nifty way to check the ability of a location to receive over the air HD TV stations.   Poke in a zip code or lat/long and the map will zoom to that location. If you used a zip code, you can drag the push-pin to a more specific location. Using the mouse wheel will zoom the map in to the street level.
 Once you park the push-pin for a few seconds, the program computes signal coverage from all stations and lists them according to likelihood of reception. Clicking on a station in the list shows the predicted signal strength and bearing to the transmitter site and plots same on the map. Clicking on "Map of all DTV Stations" at the bottom of the page lists each market. Clicking on a market calls up a pdf (it may take awhile to load) with coverage maps for both analog and digital, ERPs, DTV channel, etc. for each station in that market.

Entercom, the outfit that I hang with, has recently rolled out their sustainability effort with a number of company-wide efforts aimed at energy conservation.   I did note that on the day of the roll-out ….I was the only one wearing a green shirt.   The company is very dedicated to this cause, from the top down.

The NAB Television Board has some new members….Including John Lawson from ION Media and Dunis Shive from Belo.  The NAB Radio Board welcomes David Field of Entercom…All these firms have Seattle connections.

Another familiar name in our industry, Irving R. Levine has passed away at 86.   If you have been around for a while, you will recall that name and his voice.   I recall listening to him on KING-AM with reports on NBC Radio from Moscow.

Also passing was Stimson Bullitt former president of KING Broadcasting.  He was 89.

Bill Tilton, K7OKC, long time engineer with KELA in Centralia signed off for the last time at 89.   I recall Bill traveling all the way to Seattle to attend an SBE meeting…and when driving through his town and whistling up Baw Faw (who remembers that) to chat with him on 2 meters.   Bill continued to work at KELA/KMNT for 50 years, until he was 80.  A great guy with a wonderful sense of humor….We miss ya Bill.

One of the few TV shows that had a radio beginning – The Guiding Light – came to an end recently as CBS pulled the plug on the series that dated back 72 years to 1937.  For a while it was aired on radio and TV.   In this day and age of ‘short-stays’  this must be some sort of a record.

Another transition is ABC Radio is gone, after 64 years… at least in name, it’s now Citadel Media.   It is interesting how long the term – radio- has been around….One wonders if the word is getting old?

For many years now Amateurs (Hams) have been communicating with each other by bouncing their signals off the moon, a process called EME, or Earth-Moon-Earth.  Recent German Hams have communicated via Venus.  Using some 6 Kw on 2.4 Gig EVE communication was made.   The transmission delay was about 5 minutes….but, hey, no one was concerned about IFB.

In a recent column I explained uses of common tools.   A reader contributed the following to the collection –
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.
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, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.
OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects and setting off fire and smoke detectors that call the fire department who arrive to make you feel totally stupid.
TABLE SAW: A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch wood projectiles for testing wall integrity.
BAND SAW: A large stationary power saw primarily used by most shops to cut good aluminum sheet into smaller pieces that more easily fit into the trash can after you cut on the inside of the line instead of the outside edge.
PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER:  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.
TUBE CUTTER: A tool used to make rigid coax too short.
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 delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts.  Especially useful for slicing work clothes, but only while in use.
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.

Well, my friends, I am out of bandwidth…..So time to ship this edition of the ‘Corner’ to those that are brave enough to actually attach their name to it.

Clay, K7CR, CPBE

-0-


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Amateur Radio News

Compiled By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
Thanks to Madison Chapter 24

ARRL Comments on FCC’s Proposed Establishment of Rural Broadband Plan
In March, the FCC invited comments via a Public Notice concerning the establishment of a comprehensive rural broadband strategy as part of the Department of Agriculture’s Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, commonly known as the 2008 Farm Bill. Per the American Recovery andReinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), Congress required the FCC to develop a “comprehensive national broadband plan.” According to the FCC, they, Congress, and the Secretary of Agriculture “have repeatedly recognized the importance of ensuring access to advanced telecommunications and information services to all Americans, with a special focus on rural and hard-to-serve areas.” The opportunity to comment on the Public Notice provided the American Radio Relay League to express concerns about broadband over power lines (BPL) that the FCC has yet to satisfactorily address.

In the comments submitted by ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, the ARRL reaffirms its support of broadband opportunities in rural areas. “ARRL is in agreement that broadband is critical to the health of agricultural and other businesses, and to the educational interests of Americans who live in rural areas,” Imlay stated. Imlay commended the FCC in looking for broadband solutions on both the short and long term, as well as identifying how Federal programs “might overcome obstacles that currently impede rural broadband development.”

Imlay reminded the Commission that the ARRL, as well as broadcast industry representatives, challenged the adequacy of the FCC’s BPL interference rules: “On appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the Court remanded the ET Docket 04-37 proceeding to the Commission with some very specific instructions, including reconsideration of assumptions relating to interferencemitigation and disclosure of studies that had previously only been released in redacted form.” Imlay pointed out that almost a year after the Court’s decision, the Commission has done “literally nothing” to comply with the mandated instructions.

Imlay reminded the Commission that President Barack Obama, on his inauguration day earlier this year, placed a series of goals on the White House Web site. “Among these,” Imlay said, “was the following,obviously laudable goal: ‘Restore Scientific Integrity to the White House: Restore the basic principle that government decisions should be based on the best-available, scientifically valid evidence and not onideological predispositions.’ The Commission has the opportunity to implement this goal in this Docket proceeding.”

North Dakota Hams Help to Head Off River Flooding
Early on Friday, March 27, the Red River– the natural boundary separating North Dakota and Minnesota– rose to 40.32 feet, more than 22 feet above flood stage and inches more than the previous high water mark of 40.10 feet set April 7, 1897. According to Mark Johnson, KC0SHM, President of the Red River Radio Amateurs (RRRA), hams are “substantially involved” with the flood operations. “This flooding event is impacting residents in both North Dakota and Minnesota” he told the ARRL. “National Weather Service forecasters are predicting that the river will crest to 41 feet, maybe even as high as 43 feet, by Saturday.”

Johnson said that on March 22, officials in North Dakota’s Cass County and Minnesota’s Clay County requested the assistance of local amateurs. Hams set up local nets on the W0ILO repeater system, using 444.875+ and 145.350-. “Initially, hams supported the area, helping out with coordinating food and water requests for the Salvation Army and Red Cross,” he said. “In addition, Clay County hams have been heavily involved with coordinating sand and sandbag logistics.” Johnson said that as the river continues to rise and sandbagging operations near completion, “ham activity is morphing from dike preparations to developing emergency communications for evacuations, in the event should that become necessary. As of Thursday, March 26, we are currently communicating between three hospitals, two county Emergency Operation Centers, volunteer centers, the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, the Coast Guard and a helipad.” Johnson said these are 24 hour operations.

“As both a ham and a resident of Fargo, I am deeply touched by the community outpouring of support for fellow man,” Johnson said. “Volunteers by the thousands have poured into churches to help with food, volunteer centers to help fill sand bags and to the front lines for sand bag placement. “


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SENATE BILL SEEKS SPECTRUM AUDIT

From the Chapter 24 (Madison) Newsletter
by: Tom Smith

Senators John Kerry (D-Mass) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) have introduced a bill they called the Radio Spectrum Inventory Act (http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-s649/text) which would require the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to inventory each radio spectrum band from 300 MHz to 3.5 GHz.. They would have 180 days to complete the inventory from when the bill becomes law. Both agencies would have to list: the licenses or the government users in each band; the number of intentional radiators in each band and the type of radiators used; the type of unlicensed intentional radiators authorized in each band and contour maps showing signal coverage and strength. The agencies must also document the location of fixed transmitters and base stations.

The bill would also require the FCC and the NTIA to have a website for making the inventory available to the public and requires that the website be updated in a near real-time fashion whenever licenses are transferred, auctioned or there is a change in allocation. Government users that require protection because of national security would not be included. The inventory is to be submitted to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and to the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives when completed.

In both Kerry’s Press Release and Snowe’s Press Release releases on their Senate websites, they mentioned the fact the recent 700 MHz auction raised nearly $20 billion and that the TV White Space rules were recently enacted, both which would open the spectrum to new uses. Kerry was a proponent of the TV White Space rules.


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The YXZ Report

by Kent Randles K7YXZ CBRE
Chapter Secretary/Newsletter Editor secretary
SBE Chapter 123

LIFE WITH PPM
Arbitron, the radio ratings service, is switching from giving folks diaries in which to record their radio listening, to issuing them "Portable People Meters" (PPM) a pager-like device that they wear while they're awake.  The device listens for an inaudible time and station specific digital code that is encoded into a station's audio.  It detects motion, and there is a headphone/earbud adapter available.  Then at night the unit gets plugged into its docking station and it "phones home" to download its data.

Arbitron supplies a main and backup encoder and an off-air monitor for each station's analog (/HD1 for FM), HD2+ (for FM) and internet stream, non-commercial stations included.  In Entercom-Portland's case, that's 40 encoders and 20 monitors!  If your encoding is not working, you might as well be off the air.  Good thing they are all single rack space chassis sized.

The code is between 1 and 3 kHz, so it works fine on AM, and can be verified over the phone.

PPM will give numbers to stream and HD Radio listening.  Already, several streams have better ratings than many stations in some markets.

Instead of quarterly ratings books, there will be 13 4-week books a year, including a Holiday Book between 12/10/09 and 1/10/10 that will include the two-week period containing Christmas and New Years that used to be a non-rated time off for everyone.

This summer will be the last "diary" survey for the Portland Market, followed by a couple months of "pre-currency" with the first book due November 6th, and the first "currency" book out on December 9th.

LIFE WITH HD RADIO
There are 12 FM HD signals (nine with HD2) and four AM HD signals on the air in the Portland market. Go here for a complete list.

There are now over 1000 multicast stations and 100 HD Radios to choose from.  See www.hdradio.com/buyers_guide.php.

SBE INTRODUCES THE SBE UNIVERSITY
The Society of Broadcast Engineers has announced the opening of the SBE University; a series of on-line, on-demand courses  designed to bring expert instruction on a variety of technical radio and television topics to broadcast engineers at an affordable price.

Beat the recession with these all-new, affordable "nuts and bolts" courses available to take anytime at your convenience. No travel, hotel or other costs to eat up your limited training budget, these courses are developed by experts for the SBE.  The first course offered by the SBE University is AM Antenna Modeling and enrollment is now open.

Two more courses, FM Transmission Systems and Matching Networks and Phasing will open for enrollment on January 9.  Courses on technical television topics and additional radio courses will be announced soon.


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Soon Parting with an Old Friend

Paul Stoffel/Chapter 24

I was working on the computer putting together the newsletter and also recording the final episode of NBC’s ER on the DTVpal DVR when the neighborhood power went out because of a car verses utility pole accident. (It was a good reminder that I really do need to purchase a UPS for the computer and DVR.) I located a flashlight that helped me locate the candles and matches. It was approaching 9:00pm and an option to pass time would be to listen to the portable, battery-powered TV-band radio tuned to Fox47’s evening newscast to listen for a news update as to when my power would be restored. It occurred to me that my friendly Radio Shack TV-band radio will be of less value to me after June 12’s analog TV shut-off. No problem... when I get a chance, I’ll buy a new radio that can tune to DTV audio. (Believe it or not, their is a minority of us who like to listen to TV on a portable device.) A quick web search revealed that there is no such thing as a portable radio with a DTV tuner. The closest thing I found was a portable ATSC LCD TV. (http://www.lcddigital.tv/7_tv_digital.html) There are also ATSC tuners that can plug into a USB slot of a laptop. Or, I could use a Slingbox and view DTV remotely through a PDA/phone with an EVDO aircard or G3 network.

But the great thing about the portable radios with the TV band meant I could listen to Bob Lindmeier give live severe weather updates and, most importantly, the batteries lasted a long time. Powering an LCD screen on a portable ATSC LCD TV is going to chew up the batteries. Besides, I do not need to watch an LCD screen while I am waiting for the power to return, or the storm to pass, or while I pulling weeds in the garden.

If anyone comes across a portable radio with a DTV tuner let me know. In the meantime, I will use the portable radio,


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DTV Answer Man

Paul Byers
Executive Director of Engineering, WQED
pbyers@wqed.org
Chapter 20 - Pittsburgh

Since my FCC article this month is about the FCC’s new rules on DTV Help Centers, I thought I would relate my experiences over the past few weeks as WQED’s “official” DTV answer man. Of course we do have a customer service department armed with FAQ sheets, which I prepared and reviewed with them, but any “tough” questions that came in were sent to me. As you may know, WQED shut off its analog transmitter at 6:00 AM on April 1st (We had already shut off the WQEX analog transmitter on February 17th and only received two calls). This date was significant for two reasons:

1. It was April Fool’s Day, so people weren’t sure if we were joking about shutting off or not.
2. It marked the 55th anniversary of the date that WQED signed on the air in 1954 as the nation’s first community licensed Public Broadcasting station.

Since April 1st, we have gotten approximately 150 calls, of which I have personally answered about 75. The calls have come from all over the Greater Pittsburgh area as well as Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland. I have visited nearly a dozen homes to help people (mostly senior citizens) get their converter boxes or digital TV’s connected and have spent over 30 hours on the phone talking people through channel scans. I’m happy to say that in only one case was I not able to resolve a viewer’s problem.

Several people I talked to had new televisions that were labeled “HDTV Ready”, but in fact only had NTSC tuners. Needless to say these people were disappointed when I told them they would need to buy a digital receiver to connect to the TV if they wanted to see our signal. I got five calls from people who had been listening to WQED on portable radios with TV Band receivers. I had to tell them that these radios would no longer work and that there was no replacement product that would deliver DTV audio reception. (If anyone knows of such a product, please let me know.) Nearly a third of the people who called did not know that a channel scan was necessary and many thought that channel tuning was still done through their old analog TV and not through the converter box.

By far the most common problem I found was with the use of “rabbit ears” indoor antennas. Explaining to people that they were able to pick up our analog signal with these antennas because the signal was in the VHF band and they would need a UHF antenna to pick up our digital signal was difficult. I have been recommending the Philips PHDTV1 Silver Sensor for indoor reception. The main problems with this antenna are that it is only available for purchase through the internet and it has become so popular that many on-lines sites are out of stock.

Another common misconception that I heard over and over again was that broadcasters would not have a digital signal on the air until after they shut off their analog transmitters. When I told people that all local broadcasters had been sending out a digital signal for the last seven years, they could not believe it.

In conclusion, let me say that the predictions of hundreds (or even thousands) of calls when we shut of our analog transmitter never materialized. Between myself and our two-person customer service department, we were easily able to handle (and mostly solve) all questions. I personally have found it very satisfying to get a call from a frustrated viewer and talk them through the steps of getting their converter box working. That moment where they press the channel up button and all of the digital signals appear crystal clear on their old analog TVs make all of our efforts seem worth while. I hope everyone switches back to over the air television. Who needs cable anyway!

 

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SBE News

The SBE can help you find that job!

From the Chair: Dennis Baldridge/Chapter 24

Are you looking for the right occupation? Or perhaps you are an employer looking for someone to fill that critical position in your workplace. The SBE’s personal resources section at www.sbe.org assists its members in locating available broadcast engineering positions throughout the country. Although referenced in last month’s column, I would like to further focus on two services specifically designed to enhance your employment.

SBE Jobs Online lists broadcast engineering positions across the United States. It is available to members only and is updated weekly. The SBE Resume Bank features an online posting of anonymous resume profiles (comprised solely of SBE members) for prospective employers to view. Employers can request the member resumes of their choice from the SBE National Office. Current SBE members can have their resume profiles posted at no charge. In a downsizing economy, it is important to publicize yourself where prospective employers can readily recognize your skills. It is proper and principled to promote your achievements. Norman Vincent Peale once said, “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”

Fortunately, the SBE makes the task of posting your qualifications an easy undertaking. Just download the free Resume Bank Questionnaire to begin the process. It helps gather the pertinent information about you and your skills. Additionally, it identifies the type of position you are seeking while selecting states or areas where you would be willing to work. You can also post your resume online for pertinent parties to peruse.

Our jobs are at times uncertain. What will happen later this year or next year is proctored in providence. As George Crane once said “There is no future in any job. The future lies in the man who holds the job.” When in need, utilize the SBE’s member services to locate that desired position.

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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Etc.

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.