May 2008 Newsletter
SBE Chapter 48 / SMPTE Rocky Mountain Section
June 2007 Meeting Report
Audio over IP - Technology takes the next step
June 12, 2008
Location: Park Hill Golf Club, 4141 E. 35th Avenue, Denver, CO 80207
Time: 11:30AM to 1PM
Presenter: Michael Uhl, Western Director of Sales at Telos Omnia Axia
Topic: Audio over IP - Technology takes the next step
The June meeting was in a new format - lunch and a technical presentation at the Park Hill Golf Club, the location of our last two annual holiday luncheons.
This talk addressed the next standard, an IP based audio codec called Zephyr/IP that can connect over any LAN having wired or wireless Internet access. Thirteen years ago, Telos introduced the original Zephyr ISDN codec. Since then, broadcasters and other audio professionals have bought nearly 20,000 of them making the product and its successor, Xstream, world standards. Mike Uhl described how to use the public Internet to do remotes and the technology involved in this open-standard interface device.
Sponsor - With the generous support of Buck Waters and Broadcaster's General Store we were able to reduce the cost of Park Hill deli buffet lunch at the June meeting to $5!
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Random Radio Thoughts
Cris Alexander, CPBE, AMD
Crawford Broadcasting Company
Last month, Tim Cutforth invited me to participate in some experimental antenna testing at his “range” northeast of Pueblo. Dr. Maurice Hately, one of the inventors of the “Crossed Field Antenna,” had sent him a prototype of a new design. This antenna was a variation on the E-H antenna that perhaps you’ve seen in print or discussed on the ham radio message lists.
Instead of a cylindrical dipole as most E-H designs are, this one consisted of two concentric loops, one for the E-field and one for the H-field. The two loops are fed out of phase for the purpose of forcing the magnetic and electric fields into the same plane. This antenna was supposed to produce isotropic radiation in line with that of a quarter-wavelength vertical radiator. Tim had FCC experimental authority to test it on 890 kHz at the KJME site.
The plan was to set up the antenna, tune it and feed it with 250 watts or so, make some spot measurements, check E x D to see if things were in the ballpark, and then run six radials in from 3 km to scientifically prove the efficiency. But like a lot of plans, this one fell apart in a hurry.
Tim constructed an antenna out of low-loss materials, including a vacuum cap and plated coil. But we had trouble getting it matched. We could get the R to a reasonable value, but the X was always too high. After much fiddling, we fed it with 50 watts or so, measured with a thermocouple RF ammeter, and made the spot measurements. Scaled up for 1 kW, the IDF of the antenna was about 4.5 mV/m, a far cry from the 282 mV/m FCC minimum we would expect from even a very short vertical radiator.
Thinking that perhaps there was something odd about Tim’s “low loss” antenna, we assembled and fired up the “working prototype” that Dr. Hately sent. We gave it a “C” for consistency; it, too, proofed out at about 4.5 mV/m/kW.
So… Dr. Hately’s loop E-H antenna appears to be a better dummy load than antenna. We’ll no doubt revisit the concept at some point in the future.
And speaking of Tim’s tower site, I mentioned last month that he found two of the tower bases would be right on a cross-country high-cap fiber trunk. Tim has since done a slight redesign of the array and filed a modification with the FCC. The bulldozer was delivered early in June, so I suspect the foundations and anchors are going in.
I told you last month about Ed Dulaney’s “tractor travails.” Where we left our hero and his 1974 Massey Ferguson tractor, it was running great but wouldn’t move under its own power. Ed, with the help from the guys at GRB construction, got it winched up onto a trailer and hauled to the implement shop up in Greeley.
The good news is that the problem that paralyzed the old girl was an assembly error made by that same shop when they put it back together after replacing the hydraulic pump. They are making it good. The bad news is, now a check valve in the hydraulic system is bad and the three-point hitch won’t work. That part is back ordered, so we wait. And while we wait, the weeds and grass grows. And Weld County calls occasionally asking why we haven’t cut the Canada Thistle at our Ft. Lupton property.
If you have news to share with the Rocky Mountain radio engineering community, drop me an email at email@example.com.
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The KE0VH Hamshack
It was a pretty exciting month for the HF and VHF bands as hopefully we are heading towards better and better HF conditions. I finally moved my 5 band HF vertical into a better spot in our backyard and now the RF problem I was having in the house is gone! I have posted pictures of the move on my tech ham website, along with some pictures of the new KCNC HD TV transmitter building, where Jim Langsted, KCØRPS and I, were fortunate to get to visit and present Paul with a gift from the group of guys on the repeater to thank him for his efforts! You can see the pictures at www.qsl.net/ke0vh/techham.html.
During the VHF contest held the weekend of June 7th the 6 meter band was hopping like 20 meters on a dx contest weekend! I have never heard so many signals on 6 meters! With my 7 watt MFJ-9406, and coaxial bazooka antenna, I worked 2 stations in Alabama, North Carolina, Illinois, Idaho, and a rare grid square in Montana with a guy who was roving for the contest! Really a huge amount of fun that weekend! And our friend Scott, WØKU, and John, NØWBW, and their Rocky Mountain Ham group guys with their portable station worked more than 600 contacts on 6 meters and even South Florida on 2 meter SSB! Truly amazing openings that weekend for sure, and I hope there are more to come during this summer, so get a radio on 6 and be ready to have a great time! 10 meters is also opening up frequently now, a lot of sporadic E type propagation. On the morning of June 24, I worked a couple of stations in Arkansas with my Realistic HTX-10 and 25 watts to my mobile antenna. And later that morning at station in Central Missouri. Kenny, K4KR in Chickamauga Georgia worked several stations the day before too on 10 meter FM. So with summertime propagation and improving solar conditions, I believe things are looking up!
One of my projects to complete as quickly as possible was to move my Huster 5BTV vertical away from the proximity to my house and get it out into the yard. Now I am married to the most beautiful wonderful woman in the world, and the only flaw that she has is that she does NOT think antennas are things of beauty as I do. So the antenna was not originally mounted further away out in the yard. But after promising that the RF would be eliminated by moving the antenna, she gave her blessing! The pictures of the project are on my techham website: www.qsl.net/ke0vh/techham.html.
Now that I have RF out of the house, I am beginning to get active again on PSK31, a digital keyboard to keyboard mode with free software available on the net of course. My favorite and software of choice is Hamscope, free on the internet by Glen, KD5HIO, and operates many modes such as not only PSK31 but RTTY, CW, ASCII, and MFSK16. Another popular software option is Digipan, but it only operates PSK31, so Hamscope is very versatile. If you would like to check out Hamscope, you can go to http://www.qsl.net/hamscope/ . I will also have full SSTV capabilities with, once again, free software from http://mmhamsoft.amateur-radio.ca/mmsstv/ , Makoto Mori, a Japanese amateur, has written some fantastic FREE software for amateur use. I encourage you to take a look and explore the different software he has available. His main site is http://mmhamsoft.amateur-radio.ca/.
Speaking of digital modes, there are many now operating HF digital voice, and the FDMDV software, free again, is the most popular at this time. I have it on my computer but have not really dived into it yet, although I plan on it during the month of July and into August. There is also a FDMDV digital voice net takes place every Saturday and Sunday at 1800z on 14236.0 KHz. Mel, K0PFX is net control. The net usually lasts a few hours. There's DV activity after 00:00z as well so look for them on the same frequency.
Also, we are back into the “Live at 5” season for the KALC afternoon show. I have also included pictures of the latest setup on my www.qsl.net/ke0vh/techham.html website. It goes together in less than an hour and features full Audiovault control via gotomy pc and full control of the phone system back in the control room via Telos Assistant producer software via an internet connection. The afternoon guys can do a full up show now from anywhere we have an internet connection. We are still though using ISDN for the main audio feed back and forth. I am sure that this will change before too much longer with the IP systems that many manufacturers have in place, and I foresee the time when we will abandon the ISDN and POTS codecs in favor of VoIP technologies. Many stations are now running remote broadcasts in that manner. The Comrex Access unit is available for loan out from Comrex according to one of my sources, so I may be giving that a try here in the near future and will report here on its operation.
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DNC Frequency Coordination
Denver SBE/SMPTE Members:
The Denver Chapter of SBE/SMPTE has been actively involved in preparations for RF uses at the Democratic National Convention in August. The process started early this year and meetings between Denver broadcasters, the networks, representatives of public safety, local FCC, the DNC and our SBE frequency coordinators have been held at regular intervals.
As reported by the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post, 15,000 members of the media are expected to attend the convention. The job of coordinating and enforcing guidelines for RF communications is huge. Many of those involved in the planning effort to date will be part of the working media and therefore not available to help in August.
Therefore we are looking for volunteers to assist during the week of the convention (and just before) with the Pepsi Center wireless enforcement effort. The qualifications are knowledge of RF and broadcasting. Here is an outline of the commitment:
- The convention dates are Monday, August 25 through Thursday Aug 28.
- We don't yet have a schedule of events, but it's likely we will need help from mid-day well into the evening hours. We will break this down into multiple time periods; no one is being asked to be available the entire time.
- There will be two RF test events, one on Friday, August 22 and another on Sunday August 24 that we also need to cover.
- We will hold a briefing for volunteers the afternoon or evening of Wednesday, August 20 at a place TBA.
- Volunteer tasks will include meeting TV and radio crews and checking in their wireless equipment, monitoring the frequency spectrum for interference and evidence of non-coordinated equipment, and resolving problems that may arise.
- There will be test equipment made available; we also hope to have a 450 MHz channel for communication.
- Volunteers will work mostly in the concourse of the Pepsi Center near the three entrances that will be open. We will have a limited number of passes to the convention floor that will be time shared.
- There will be real work to do and few rewards other than the opportunity to be present at this once-every-century event.
I have a list of about 10 members who have already volunteered. If you would like to be added to this list, please contact me over the next few weeks so I can add you to our email distribution list.
SBE Chapter 48 Chairman, member POLCOMM 2008
On behalf of Louis Libin - POLCOMM 2008 Chairman
N.B. Louis is the overall frequency coordinator for both the DNC and RNC conventions and POLCOMM stands for Policital Conventions Communications Committee.
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Featuring News, Rumors and Views
From Usually Reliable and Irrefutable Sources
By Clay Freinwald
SBE Seattle Chapter 16
For those of us in the PNW….I think (hope) that summer has actually arrived. Hard to believe that we have had a very cool and yet comparatively dry spring. According to NWS we are about 5 inches behind in Precip. Meanwhile, the Midwest is flooding and the rest of the country is baking. Something wonderful about cool and green.
The floods in the Midwest have been ugly with the bad news continuing down-river. Several radio stations have been knocked off the air (those AM sites are typically in low areas near the rivers)…and those that have been on the air have been lifesavers to
residents that rely on their information.
Something new this time – Whereas many of you read this column – on line – I thought I’d give you some links to be used for further reading. Let me know what you think.
It’s repair time in the mountains. Entercom will be replacing a bunch of fence around it’s West Tiger tower that got hammered by heavy snow and falling ice. Over at South Mountain conditions were worse with considerable damage to the FM antennas and tower lighting, not to mention what the falling ice did on the ground. After sending close up pictures of the antenna damage to ERI, they proclaimed that this may be the worst site (in terms of weather) they’ve seen. Wow !...another first for the PNW.
How’s the rapid increase in fuel prices impacting you? I got to thinking the other day about KBRD that used to set up on the mountain and run on Diesel. Even at that, filling those Aux. power fuel tanks is going to be a budget bender. I heard the term ‘ liquid gold’ the other day to describe what’s in those tanks. That reminds me…time to make sure that those tank alarms are working correctly.
I did enjoy my annual trip to Seaside, Oregon for the Amateur Radio gathering there. Nice to see all my old friends. Most surprising was seeing Bill Watt. I remember when Bill was the Chief at KBRO in Bremerton. (now that was a long time ago) I made the big plunged ordering a Elecraft K3 transceiver that will replace my trusty old Icom 761. Also got a new badge that states – CLAY K7CR – NOT A VANITY CALL.
This next weekend will bring back a lot of memories of when I would be rabidly preparing for Field Day. For those of you that are not Hams, check out www.arrl.org/fieldday. This year I will again be working with old friend Nick Winter, K7MO with the Radio Club of Tacoma operating ’20-Phone’. The good news is that I will be operating Nicks new Elecraft K3. The bad news is that the band conditions are likely to be pretty poor. Something unusual is going on with the Sun. By now our local star was supposed to be increasing it’s number of spots. Some are wondering if this means an event called the Maunder Minimum may be getting underway. For those of you that just have to know about these things… solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/SunspotCycle.shtml
As were are told over and over, the economy is bad and in this, advertiser supported, industry …It’s bad news. Radio and TV stations are laying off people and tightening their belts. For newspapers, the term doom and gloom are being heard. McClatchy, which has considerable interest in our area recently announced that they are cutting payroll. Meanwhile (there is always another side) Online ad spending is increasing. In the UK, it’s projected to overtake TV this year.
Changes in our area. It’s been announced that Carl Gardner will assume the reins at Bonneville’s radio factory on Eastlake Ave. Carl has been senior VP of Journal Broadcast Group. In this case, it’s a homecoming as he is from this area. Welcome back Carl.
As they say…History repeats itself – Rep Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., is sponsoring legislation that would require the FCC to impose limits on the volume of TV advertising. Seems to me that I recall CBS Labs made a box to deal with that issue many years ago….Probably before the Congresswoman was born.
It’s looking more likely that XM and Sirius will become one. The big question in my mind is what conditions will the Feds place on the deal.
On the EAS front, there really is something going on. Most notably is a working group made up of manufacturers and members of the SBE EAS Committee. Their task is to develop what’s called a CAP Profile. CAP can be, roughly, described as something like a data-base with some of the fields pre-assigned and some not. This group is working on how to make CAP (Common Alerting Protocol) function in a world where the present
EAS system is based on SAME. This effort is to help insure that the NextGen EAS units will all speak to each other. For more info on CAP, see the following
I would advise you all to take the time to check out these links as the time is getting closer when you will need to know.
There are other things that need to be done to get NextGen EAS into your station and SBE has been in the middle of it all. In May, at the FCC in WDC, I mentioned work that SBE had been doing to help everyone understand what’s involved in getting us from here to there. This document, commonly called the SBE Roadmap is available on-line for all to see at the SBE Web Site – www.sbe.org or click on the following
It’s quite apparent that the only mechanism that we presently have that can be used to distribute much of these NextGen EAS messages will be the internet. In terms of features, it’s a natural for performing point- multi-point distribution. But it’s also subject to what’s termed ‘backhoe fade’ and that’s troubling to anyone that’s been in wireless for many years. This is the reason why the SBE has filed for 700 MHz spectrum that can be used for the distribution of EAS messages. You can read more details on the SBE Web Site.
Several have been suggesting that TV Channel 6, immediately adjacent to the existing FM band, would be a natural for expansion of the latter. However the FCC and NAB are not biting.
Ken Broeffle is now the DOE of Clear Channel Seattle as Kelly Lictenwald resigned to reportedly to take a job with Microsoft. This creates an opening at CCR. Ken says he is looking for a person with strong IT skills. You can contact Ken at 206-494-2128.
You have all heard about Monster Cable….Now even the famous wire maker is going wireless with a new offering that will – wirelessly – connect your HDTV to a DVD or other HD device…Apparently marketed under the name Monster Digital Express.
According to a piece in the Wall Street Journal – The FCC is considering a plan that would require the winner of a new spectrum to offer fee internet service….Wonder if they will have trouble finding bidders, there must be a catch somewhere.
Remember the now famous video-billboard at the King/Pierce county line? Welll just down the road, on Indian Land (of course) is another eye catcher. The new Emerald Queen Casino side on the South Side of I-5 is 140 feet tall with a display containing 290,000 pixels, more the two miles of wire. They claim the all LED mega-sign can display 281 trillion colors. I’m sure no one counted.
Scott Fybush, the famous media reporter from Rochester, NY. Explained to all the situation with the station move in to Covington from The Dalles Oregon. At one time the proponents of the shuffle had hoped to upgrade and move the station from its site in Enumclaw to Cougar Mt. This would have required KAFE to change frequency in Bellingham. In the mean time, the Canadians had another idea and allocated 104.1 to Vancouver. This effectively killed the upgrade plans. Certainly the potential value of the station went down. I’ve not heard whether or when 104.5 Covington will go on the air from Radio Hill, east of Enumclaw. This site was named many years ago as it was the site of the 2-way radio system that used to serve the old Weyerhaeuser Mill near there.
If you have Cable TV and have noted their price rises…you are right. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says they’ve gone up 77% since 1996.
An almost local maker of broadcast equipment, Danagger Audio Works in Vancouver has closed it’s doors. Danagger manufactured a device calls a Plan-B that would serve as a back up audio source for radio stations. The downturn in the US economy was cited as the main reason for the firms failure.
Engineers at Los Alamos apparently have come up with the worlds fastest computer. The $100 million machine can do 1,000 trillion calculations per second. To put this into perspective, this machine as the computing power of 100,000 lap tops or a stack of them 1.5 miles high…Or, if each of the worlds 6 billion people work on hand-held computers 24 hours a day it would take them 46 years to do what this machine will do in one day.
They say it will help resolve complex issues. I wonder what that might be?
One way to determine whether or not your company is doing well….Someone wants to buy it. In this case…Our locally owned Fisher. News is they turned down a bid for in the vicinity of $44 per share.
Here’s something that will not come as a surprise. The era of cursive penmanship is coming to an end. The only thing today’s children can write, using cursive, is their signature. Then again there are a lot of adults that learned cursive in school, write their names so that no one can read it…I left out the doctors on purpose. The argument is there is not much purpose for cursive any more. Email, computers, and texting gizmo’s have replaced hand writing. Then there are the folks in the middle. They never learned how to type or use a keyboard. You see them everywhere. We used to call them ‘hunt and peck’ typists. I suspect that there are many that are a whiz with texting using a mini-keyboard that can’t type and likely those can’t write. I read a piece a while back about a lot of today’s kids that have extreme difficulty talking on the phone or in person due to their reliance on texting. Makes us tempted to use a term that those have come before us used….What’s this world coming to?
Enjoy Summer !....Remember it’s our shortest season…AND – The folks at the National Weather Dart Board (NWDB) are forecasting more La Nina to come.
Till next month – CUL –
Clay, CPBE, K7CR et al
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The YXZ Report
by Kent Randles K7YXZ CBRE
Co-Chair, Portland/Vancouver ECC
Chapter 124 Secretary
water-cooled at sbe124 dot org
NEW PORTLAND MARKET FM
Metro East Community Media in Gresham, that has eight Comcast cable channels, has been awarded a CP for a new non-commercial FM station licensed to Brightwood. It will be at 91.1, with 380 Watts ERP, directional with several nulls:
Pattern from http://www.fccinfo.com
Transmitter at 6068 feet above sea level, 1663 feet above average terrain, on the side of Mt. Hood near Timberline Lodge. This will put them on the dial between 90.7 KBOO and 91.5 KOPB-FM. See the app here. Read the short version of the Oregonian article here.
LIFE WITH HD RADIO
Holding at 12 FM HD signals (nine with HD2) and three AM HD signals on the air in the Portland market. Go here for a complete list.
The 10 dB power increase for HD FM seems to be gaining traction. Transmitter manufacturers are scrambling to come up with boxes that will put out that much digital power without breaking the bank.
HDTV WITH A SET TOP BOX
Our gift-card-like TV Converter Box coupons arrived in the mail, with the return address of a PO Box in Portland! On the first piece of paper with the cards is a list of the locations of eight participating local retailers, including Radio Shack, Sears, Vern L. Wenger Video & Audio Company, Standard TV & Appliance, and Wal-Mart. On the front of the second page is a list of thirteen more online and telephone retailers, and a list of sixty-three coupon eligible converter boxes, six of which are capable of pass through. The current list is at http://www.ntiadtv.gov/cecb_list.cfm
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AMATEUR RADIO NEWS
Compiled By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
Thanks to Madison Chapter 24
Hams provide vital links
As disaster recovery efforts continue following the earthquake in the Wenchuan area of China’s Sichuan province on May 12, China’s Information Office of the State Council reports that the death toll has reached more than 67,000 persons as of May 27. Communications in some of the surrounding areas were cut off, and communications in some other areas experienced network congestion due to drastically increased traffic. According to the Chinese Radio Sports Association (CRSA), Chinese government officials and the news media have recognized that when communications failed after the earthquake, Amateur Radio operators stepped in to provide vital links.
U.S. amateurs have also been in the news recently, assisting with emergency communications after tornadoes in Windsor, Colorado, and wildfires in Brevard County, Florida.
ARRL files 2 comments
The American Radio Relay League has filed comments concerning two matters that the FCC has under consideration. The first set of comments concerns a company that filed a request for a waiver of Part 90 of the FCC rules; ReconRobotics, an electronics manufacturer, wishes to sell to public safety customers a robotic device that operates in the 430-448 MHz band. The primary allocation in that portion of the spectrum is United States government radiolocation (military radars). The Amateur Service has an allocation on a secondary basis. The second matter deals with GE Healthcare and their request for allocation of spectrum (as a secondary user) in the 2300 MHz band; the Amateur Service has a primary allocation in a portion of the requested band.
ARRL’s comments regarding ReconRobotics stated, "The Amateur Service, which has a heavily occupied, secondary allocation in the 420-450 MHz band...would be potentially substantially impacted by grant of these waivers...Repeaters in this band are routinely used for emergency communications via amateur Radio for numerous served agencies including FEMA, and so at times when [ReconRobotic’s] device may be expected to be used, the repeaters may be expected to be in operation in the same areas."
In response to a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) in a pending "MedRadio" proceeding, GE Healthcare proposed that the band 2360-2400 MHz be allocated on a secondary basis for "Body Sensor Networks" (BSNs). These systems are apparently to be used for wireless patient monitoring. They are very short-range networks consisting of multiple body-worn sensors and nodes, connected via wireless to nearby hub stations at medical facilities and in homes. The Amateur Radio Service is currently allocated 2390-2400 MHZ on a primary basis.
ARRL said, "The ramifications of radiofrequency interference (RFI) to these systems in terms of danger to medical patients are obvious, and potentially severe." The ARRL contends "that the potential for interference from Amateur Radio operations, which are in this band occasionally itinerant and mobile, but most often fixed in residential areas, to BSNs operated at a patient’s residence would be...a problem." In light of the possibilities of harmful interference, the ARRL requested that the FCC "not proceed with the proposal of GE Healthcare as proposed in the 2390-2400 MHz band."
Excerpts from the American Radio Relay League’s Web site, arrl.org
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Document, Change Control, Document
Transition Date to March 5, 2009
By Steve Epstein
Kansas Chapter 59
If there is one consistent theme over all my years of experience, it is facilities and projects that fail to document and manage changes. In the days before computers, documentation required considerable resources. Today, however, the tools are readily available, and the time required is minimal.
From experience, the place to start is with the wiring, and the time to start is now. There is nothing that gets out of hand quicker than wiring, and the longer it goes, the harder it is to go back and recapture the information. There are numerous printers and labels available today, including laser-printable wraparound labels in a variety of sizes. Recently, I have had good luck with the LSL series from Zip Tape. These labels are on a sheet that can be run through the printer repeatedly, making it easy to print a small set without wasting a full sheet. However, one issue is the opacity of the white portion of the wrap-around label. It is a little thin, and on dark cable, the labels can be difficult to read. I have also have luck with a small Kroy labeler (K3000-PC) that can handle plastic wrap-around labels and heat shrink. Heat shrink is excellent for use during cable assembly, but near useless once the connectors have been installed. The wraparounds work both pre- and post-assembly.
There are numerous numbering schemes, but one of the simplest is plain English. List the cable source and destination on both ends of the cable. This makes it simple to determine where the other end of the cable is connected. In large facilities, a rack or room location is also helpful. For those who like to type, handheld labelers work fine. I prefer to let the computer automate the task and have a database that handles the equipment connections and interconnections. After that it is easy to print the labels by running the appropriate query. This keeps all labels consistent and saves me from retyping similar names over and over. Each piece of equipment should also be labeled. It does little good to know the cable goes to Satellite dish 1 when there are 4 dishes that are not numbered. Labels on the front and rear make it easy to find a specific device in racks that are heavily loaded with identical equipment.
Block diagrams or simple schematics can go a long way to document signal flows. It is much easier to look at one or two pages than to crawl through a facility tracing a cable. Simple templates make it easy to build new diagrams. For those on a budget, fancy CAD software is expensive and not needed. Microsoft Office includes Excel, Power Point and even Access. These programs are sufficient to do the job. Visio simplifies some of the drawing tasks. If you cannot afford MS Office, you can obtain Open Office free of charge.
As important as the initial documentation is, ongoing upkeep is required. During a project, change control must be implemented to ensure changes that occur during the buildout are folded back into the project’s documentation. If done daily, it is a small task, however, if left too long, it can be nearly impossible to capture all of the incremental changes. In summary, develop a cable and equipment labeling scheme, find a way to document it through drawings and/or spreadsheets and regularly update documents to capture changes. Doing this will save you considerable time once you have accurate documentation as your reference.
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Static Line – Noise from All Over
Thanks to Kansas Chapter 3
Newsletter Editor: R.W. Abraham
Gary Krohe sends a link with information on a new type of component to throw in the mix in designing circuits. HP Labs Researchers have built the first working prototypes of an important new electronic component named the memristor. that may lead to instant-on PCs, Cell Phones, and other program based electronic devices, as well as analog computers that process information the way the human brain does.
The new component is described as a memory resistor. The circuit element had been described in in 1971 by a series of mathematical equations written by Leon Chua, an engineering student studying non-linear circuits. Thirty-seven years later, a group of scientists from HP Labs has finally built real working memristors, adding a fourth basic circuit element to electrical circuit theory to join the capacitor, resistor and inductor. The most interesting characteristic of a memristor device is that it remembers the amount of charge that flows through it. If you flow the charge in one direction, the resistance will increase; a flow in the opposite direction will decrease it. The memristor can be used as either a digital switch or to build a new breed of analog devices, which might even be capable of simulating neuron activity of the human brain. Consider an analog computer in which you don't use 1s and 0s but instead use shades of gray. Such computers could do the types of things that digital computers aren't very good at today, like making decisions, determining that one thing is larger than another, or even learning.
Present digital computer code that simulates brain function requires huge machines with enormous processing power to simulate only tiny portions of the brain. Rather than writing computer code to simulate a brain or some brain function, scientists are looking to build hardware based upon memristors that emulate brain-like functions, which could be used to improve functions such as facial recognition technology, or enable an appliance to learn from experience. In principle, it should be thousands or millions of times more efficient than running a program on a digital computer.
Oh yes, did I mention these things can be built individually for RAM use to a dimension of about 50 microns thick! HP stock should benefit if they can put a memristor product on the market in the not too distant future. You can read more on this interesting subject at: http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2008/04/scientists-prov.html. Thanks Gary!
Having been camping west of Halstead for the last ten or so days prior to Memorial Day, and trying out the digital converter box on the TV for the first time in this location, I have discovered some interesting things. Of course, I am connected to an amplified rotating dipole "wing" antenna. I have been able to receive ten programs from seven different stations in this location, however, reception has been reminiscent of a digital cell phone on the edge! Video is fairly robust, weathering micro-fades easily and progressing on with a disturbed pixel or two, that is easy to ignore, and any ghosts are gone if the picture works at all. Audio is another, matter with anything from lightning or electrical transients on the line which are rife in rural areas, to cars on the highway a quarter mile away which seem to reflect out of phase waves back to the antenna, causing drops in continuity of audio lasting from syllables to seconds at a time.
I didn't describe the converter box. It is a Zenith model DTT900. One of the nice features it has is a dual signal indicator of a horizontal bar graph and an audible beeping tone that increases to steady tone as you get into the "very good" area of indication. It is especially handy since the TV is in the main room of the RV and the antenna is rotated for best reception in the bedroom! The bar graph of course, works much like a digital voltmeter, which can not indicate continuous voltage as the old analog meters might. It is interesting to mute the audio and sit, watching the bar graph fluctuate vs. breakup in the picture, if the signal is marginal and the antenna needs re-peaked. The picture in this case may break up at what appears to be about 60% on the bar graph, but that is only a sampling of what might be called an average of the signal level. I may have to convert to a five element antenna on a pole strapped to the ladder of the RV, if I can rebuild an old rotator I have at home. The dipole affords no protection from the back. Anyway, it may not bode well for those folks using rabbit ear or monopole antennae in town.
That being said however, one must remember that the length of my wing dipole is fixed, whereas the set tops are adjustable. If one looks at the pattern of a dipole when used above its intended frequency, that might also explain some of my plight. The situation might improve for my RV experience after February 17, 2009, when several of the stations will abandon UHF and and return to Hi-band VHF. Time will tell.
Vince Hancock sends a link to an article telling of Best Buy's reply to the FCC re: the proposed $280K Notice of Liability assessed by the FCC to Best Buy for selling analog television receivers without warning labels indicating the NTSC sets would no longer work after February 17, 2009. Best Buy is refuting the charge on five points, three of which are listed in the article listed on page two of http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/. I purposely deleted the specific reference to the article because the general site has many articles of technical interest you may want to peruse.
One point challenged the specific models numbers listed by the FCC, some of which did not exist in the Best Buy inventory. BB said the inaccuracy of the listed charge proves their point that it is nearly impossible for them to determine quickly and remedy the specific sets indicated from among the thousands of models they stock. Another interesting point made by BB was that the FCC had no authority to regulate retailers, that the Communications Act specifically limited FCC authority to matters regarding communication by wire or radio. A third point made by BB states that concedes that while the FCC did find unlabeled analog only sets in Best Buy stores, the company did not deliberately put them there, that the listed conduct is accidental, or not known to the organization, therefore not willful. Therefore they say, the Commission bears the burden of proof that the conduct complained of was not accidental or unintentional. Challenges have also been made by K-Mart and CompUSA. This might be fun watching! Our thanks to Vince for this lead.
Clear Channel Communications Inc., Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital Partners have resolved the financing problem holding up the buyout of Clear Channel's radio and outdoor advertising companies to the latter two. The radio and outdoor advertising company agreed to the buyout in November 2006. The situation was complicated by the credit crunch and a lowering of Clear Channel stock price, but earlier this month, the parties agreed to a lower stock price and slightly higher lending rates to settle a dispute with financiers who include Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia. It was agreed to place all financing in an escrow account, pending the deal's closing, Clear Channel said Friday. The final $36 per-share deal price was 8 percent below the previous offer of $39.20, and even below the original price of $37.60 that major shareholders had opposed as being too low.
It has been noted in recent medical studies that carbon nanotubes have produced the same response in mice as that produced by asbestos. Not that nanotube technology has been developed that would manufacture it as insulation in our homes and businesses, at least not yet; but this subject is one that could bear watching.
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Broadcast Engineering Education
by Cris Alexander, CPBE AMD DRB
SBE Education Committee Chair
One of my jobs as director of engineering for a medium-size radio group is to identify and hire engineers. That hasn’t been easy in recent years. There is a real shortage of entry-level engineering talent that we can hire and train to eventually become our senior people.
The underlying reason for this is, in my view, twofold. First, interest in the broadcast engineering field isn’t what it once was. The “iPod Generation” doesn’t listen to broadcast radio as prior generations did, so both awareness and interest is relatively low. There’s not much we as a professional society can do about that.
The other reason is the lack of a widely-accessible education path into our industry. How does one train to become a broadcast engineer these days, anyway? Certainly an up-and-comer can get a good college or trade school education, learning basic electronics and IT. But that will only get a person so far. How does he or she get all the broadcast-specific training that is needed to begin a career in this industry?
When many of us in the senior ranks of broadcast engineering got into the business, a number of schools did offer broadcast engineering specific curricula. An employer could hire a graduate from one of these programs with some comfort level that the graduate would have a certain amount of trade-specific knowledge, a starting point for real-world training. A lot of folks built their careers that way, starting off with some educational credentials and an FCC First Phone and building their knowledge and skills on the job.
Things are a lot different today. Even the definition of “broadcast engineer” is nothing like it was in years past. What does a broadcast engineer do? What skills are required? If anything, the scope of knowledge a broadcast engineer is required to have has gotten broader, encompassing everything from analog audio/video to digital audio/video, IT, networks, microwave/satellite communications, all things RF, towers, HVAC, plumbing, electrical… the list goes on and on.
For many years, there has been no single source where such an individual could get all the piecemeal training required, and that’s still the case today. The options were/are factory schools and training on specific equipment and occasional offerings by the SBE, NAB and other entities. Virtually all of these have been worthwhile offerings – time and effort well spent in rounding out one’s pedigree and knowledge base – but finding many of these opportunities has been hit or miss.
The Education Committee of the SBE wants to change all that. We want to serve our membership and the broadcast engineering community at large by proving a single source of educational opportunities in topics/areas that radio and television engineers need. Through its Ennes Workshops, RF Safety Training, Leader Skills and other efforts (including events at national, regional and local conferences), we already have a good start and foundation. But we realize it’s not enough. There is still a great deal out there for which there is no convenient source of education and training.
We have for most of the past year been working on a new program that will offer reasonably priced on-demand online educational courses to broadcast engineers. The underlying infrastructure for this program is just about in place now, and we hope to have the first courses available this summer. Our first course offerings will be from materials we already have on hand, educational materials from committee members and others who have in the past hosted or taught educational seminars or classes. As we pick up speed, we want to broaden the field, but we need your help for that.
First, we are looking for people in our membership who would be willing to offer some of their time and efforts in creating, editing and reviewing courses in anything and everything broadcast engineering but primarily focusing on areas where working broadcast engineers need training now. Those that would be willing to help in this effort are encouraged to contact me or any committee member.
We also need you to tell us what training you want and need. The online survey we conducted last spring gave us some good direction, but we remain open to your input. Your responses and ideas will drive our educational efforts as we go forward.
One thing I have learned in my years in this job is that replenishing the ranks of broadcast engineers requires us to “grow our own.” The way to do that is through education that’s topically relevant, convenient and priced right. We intend to do our part to provide those educational opportunities.
AM Transmission Seminar Scheduled for August
For those of you who have not heard as yet, it is official: The Radio
Guide AM Transmission Seminar will be held, in conjunction with the
Texas Association of Broadcasters, in Austin, TX, from August 5-7.
And, if you are interested in certification, the SBE is arranging to
hold a certification examination right after the program.
This three-day, two-evening, seminar is chock-full of instruction and
hands-on opportunities so the attendees can actually put the material
to use and gain the most benefit from the program. In addition, the
TAB will be providing complimentary registration for seminar attendees.
The costs are being kept as low as possible, so even those who have
to pay their own way can afford it.
Details are at www.radio-guide.com/seminar
Because of the nature of the program, seating is limited. We
encourage those interested to register or reserve a seat as soon as possible.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.
College Credit for Your SBE Certification:
The Society of Broadcast Engineers and Excelsior College have teamed up! Your current SBE Certification may qualify for credit towards a degree from Excelsior College or could help you finish that degree you’ve been working on at another institution. If you’re interested, contact Excelsior College by calling toll-free at (888) 647-2388 to learn about the details.
When you are ready to submit your SBE Certification for credit to Excelsior College,
download the SBE transcript request form at www.sbe.org or www.excelsior.edu,
or contact the SBE National Office for a copy. When you’ve completed the form,
e-mail, fax or mail it to Megan Clappe, Certification Director at the SBE National
Office, who will prepare your transcript and send it to Excelsior College.
Society of Broadcast Engineers
9102 N. Meridian Street, Suite 150
Indianapolis, IN 46260
SBE CertPreview Software
SBE CertPreview sample certification test software is now available.
It’s Microsoft Windows-based and replaces the previous DOS-based software.
New sample tests are available for Broadcast Technologist, Audio Engineer,
Video Engineer, Broadcast Networking Technologist, Broadcast Engineer and Senior
Broadcast Engineer in both radio and television. Sample tests include 50 to
100 questions and indicate when an incorrect answer has been given. It provides
a list of resources from which to learn more about a subject. Cost for each
SBE CERTpreview practice test is $27 plus $3 shipping. Contact the National
Office to order a copy.
Certification Exam Session Dates:
The SBE National Certification Committee certification exam session
dates for 2008 are listed below. Check the list below for the exam period
that is best for you. For more information about SBE Certification, see your
Chapter Certification Chair or
contact Megan Clappe,
Certification Director at the SBE National Office at (317) 846-9000, or firstname.lastname@example.org
|Aug 8-18, 2008
||Jun 6, 2008
|Nov 7-17, 2008
||Sep 19, 2008
Fees for 2008 are as Follows:
|Broadcast Networking Technologist
|Senior Broadcast Engineer
|Professional Broadcast Engineer
|AM Directional Specialist
|Digital Radio Broadcast Specialist
note: SBE Certification exams are administered only by SBE and are proctored
in-person by qualified and approved representatives of SBE. No other organization
is authorized to administer SBE exams.
Click here for
more information about SBE Certification.
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Bill Harris - Editor In Chief
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Tom Goldberg - On-Line Editor
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