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October 6, 2008

 

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September 2008 Newsletter

SBE Chapter 48 / SMPTE Rocky Mountain Section

August 2008 Meeting Report

The Arbitron Portable People Meter System

Date:            Thursday, August 7, 2008
Time:            11:45AM to 1PM
Location:      Park Hill Golf Club, 4141 E. 35th Avenue, Denver, CO 80207
Presenter:    Sam Brown, Manager, Broadcast Encoding Installations, Arbitron
Topic:           The Arbitron Portable People Meter System
Lunch:          Park Hill deli buffet lunch, $5 per person

This month we had another lunch and technical presentation at the Park Hill Golf Club. This meeting discussed Arbitron's plans to start the roll-out of their new PPM system of audience measurement in the Denver region. The Arbitron Portable People Meter(TM) system uses a passive audience measurement device - about the size of a small cell phone - to track media exposure. Carried throughout the day by randomly selected survey participants, the PPM(TM) device can track when and where they listen to radio as well as how they interact with other forms of media and entertainment. 

The purpose of this presentation was to inform engineers in the market about PPM encoding. The presentation included a demo of the system, examples of the equipment, Q&A, etc. which made for an informative and entertaining meeting. 

Presenter Biography: If you know my name, "Sam Brown", it's probably from my days as Operations Manager/Chief Engineer of UPI Radio Network. Maybe you know me from upstate New York, where I did engineering work for numerous stations, as well as being a successful PD in the Syracuse market, and an owner of a full-service suburban station. Then again, it may just sound familiar becuase it's a very common name! :-)

 

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Random Radio Thoughts


Cris Alexander, CPBE, AMD
Crawford Broadcasting Company

Copper Thieves on the Hill
Over the weekend of August 23-24, copper thieves hit the Ruby Hill tower site at 1601 W. Jewell, home of KCFR (1340) and KLDC (1220) in addition to serving as an auxiliary site for two of Entercom’s FM stations.

They really didn’t get too much, but it doesn’t take a lot to really cause problems for AM stations and create a lot of work in fixing things back. They cut the strap between the two ATU/filter cabinets and the ground ring at the tower base, essentially floating those two boxes (after the cut, the cabinets and networks were “grounded” only through the transmission line outer conductors to the KCFR and KLDC transmitters). They also cut and removed the part of the ground ring, essentially a strap buried about the tower base pier, and pulled up part of about a quarter of the radials near the tower base. The bottom section of the tower base spark gap (made out of two pieces of large-gauge solid copper wire bent to form a horn gap) was also taken.

KLDC was knocked off the air for a few minutes that Saturday afternoon, which we believe is when the theft occurred. KCFR also began tripping off with an elevated VSWR. Once the thieves left (probably in response to the outdoor siren sounding when they got too close to the building, tripping the proximity motion sensor on the side of the building), things settled down and KLDC returned to the air. KCFR had to reduce power to stay on until repairs were made on the following Monday.

The really scary thing about this incident is that the cuts were made in such a way as to leave the tower no discharge path for static and lightning except through the ATU/filter networks and transmitters. The horn gap at the tower base was taken, and the ground connection was removed from the pre-match cabinet, which contains the static drain choke and the only other spark gap in the system. I found this out the hard way when I touched the normally ground-potential cabinet and got an RF burn! With all the convective activity we had around over that weekend – there were several tornados sighted around the metro area – we could have sustained a lot of damage from a lightning hit.

Things are back to normal now, and the folks at Colorado Public Radio have taken some measures to… um… discourage would-be thieves from coming back for more.

The Ruby Hill site is no stranger to copper thieves. Last year, one of the ground-mounted air conditioner condenser units was stripped of its copper, and thieves got into the building on another occasion, tripping the alarm. On that last occasion, the would-be thieves dropped their tools and ran. Al Stewart added the abandoned tools to his own collection, and rightly so!

The Anti-Graffiti Barn
Was it in the movie Judge Dread where taggers in a futuristic Los Angeles found themselves being sprayed by the very wall they were attempting to tag? I remember seeing that many years ago and thinking what a great thing it would be if such a thing really existed.

Well… it doesn’t spray back, but Crawford has spent a small fortune to create our version of the “anti-graffiti barn” at the KLZ transmitter site. It remains to be seen whether the measures will be effective long-term, but so far, so good.

And now… the rest of the story. In last month’s Random Radio Thoughts, I related the story of the longstanding graffiti problem at the site, the ineffectiveness of the Adams County Sheriff’s Department in dealing with the issue and the citation we got from county code enforcement for having graffiti on the KLZ barn. The whole thing was infuriating enough as it was, but it got worse. Get this…

Even as the barn was being fenced (it took awhile to get the permit – you guessed it – from Adams County!), I got a call from the receptionist downstairs that “A policeman is here to see you.” The policeman was a Denver deputy sheriff here to serve me personally with a summons to Adams County Court to answer the misdemeanor charges of having graffiti on the barn. I accepted service and immediately called the code enforcement people and talked to a supervisor. Keep in mind that I had kept those folks 100% informed every step of the way so that they knew the problem was being addressed in a way that would produce a permanent solution.

The supervisor told me that our efforts to fence the barn before painting it were immaterial – we should have painted it immediately when we got the initial complaint. I told her that we have done this in the past only to find the painted-over area tagged by the next morning. It would be a waste of time and money to paint over the graffiti before the barn exterior could be secured. She told me, “If you come back in the morning and there is more graffiti, you paint it again.” I said that we could well come back every morning and find fresh graffiti, which has been our experience in the past. She responded, and I kid you not folks, “Then you paint the barn every morning!” Unbelievable!! Your tax dollars at work. Yes, they walk among us.

My next call was to the Adams County D.A. He was much more reasonable and somewhat chagrined and irritated by the whole thing. I emailed him photos of the freshly fenced and painted barn and he sent me a letter dismissing the charges. His time and resources as well as those of the Denver deputy sheriff who served me were completely wasted. Again, your tax dollars at work.

So… be warned!! If your transmitter site is in Adams County and you find graffiti scrawled on a wall, you’d better get to painting. Maybe you’d just better go ahead and paint the whole thing about once a week just in case. That might keep those code enforcement people happy. Or better yet, maybe we should get together and invent a real, working anti-graffiti wall. We are, after all, engineers.

E-H Antenna Revisited
At long last, I finished the E-H scale model antenna I had been working on. This antenna, built for 3.8 MHz or thereabouts, was actually completed a couple of months ago but I had some trouble getting it tuned. In late August, I finally got it done and fed it some power. Disappointingly (but not surprisingly), close-in spot field intensity measurements showed the inverse distance field to be about 25 mV/m. That’s less than 10% of the FCC minimum efficiency of 282 mV/m.

So why didn’t the antenna perform better, and why do so many hams swear that the design does work? A couple of thoughts… First, the cylindrical E-H antenna is essentially a short, fat dipole. The elements are about 24 inches long for the 3.8 MHz model with a 2-inch diameter. The radiation resistance of such a short dipole is close to zero, probably on the order of a tenth of an ohm. Simple mathematics will tell you that with such a low load resistance, the I2R losses in the matching network will be very high. Most of the power is dissipated as heat in the network.

As to over-the-air performance (“I worked so-and-so with an S9+20 signal report!”), hams have a huge advantage in that most of their HF communications take place via ionospheric “skip,” a relatively low-loss path (compared to lossy groundwave propagation). Any QRP (low-power) enthusiast will tell you stories of successfully working distant stations with just a few milliwatts. I can see 25 mV/m at 1 km for a kW (about 8 mV for 100 watts) going a long way via ionospheric skip.

So… I’m closing the book on this one. It is what I thought it would be, even though I was hoping for something more, all of which is confirmed by the words of the Preacher of old: “There is nothing new under the sun…”

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

 

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The KE0VH Hamshack


Jack Roland
jroland@entercom.com
Entercom Denver

The Colorado 14er event occurs every August and is a great way to combine 2 hobbies, amateur radio and enjoying the great outdoors that is offered here in the state.   This was the first one that I had participated in by hiking a fourteener (14,000 feet plus of elevation).  I had contacted stations from my home and/or mobile for a few years, but had never operated from one of the 52 peaks in Colorado that were above 14,000 feet.  So, early on the morning of August 10th, I awoke at 3:30 to a very rude alarm, got up, got my gear, and drove over to the Morrison exit where there is a large parking area that many people who are going into the mountains for a day use.  There I was meeting my friend Jim KCØRPS, whom accompanied me up Mount Bierstadt last month.  So we loaded my gear into Jims vehicle, and headed up I-70.  We drove to the Frisco exit and headed south into Breckenridge.  You could tell even in the pre dawn light that the day could be a little cool and possibly raining later.  We headed up Hoosier pass, and then the great peaks became visible, and we sighted Quandary Peak first as we headed up to the pass, and when we went over, Mount Lincoln and Mount Bross came into view.  There are some great pictures of this on the 14er website (www.14er.com).  I didn't take this picture because all I had with me was a recyclable "fun" camera, and I wanted to wait until the light came up to take any pictures.

We drove into the little village of Alma on Colorado 9, and found the entrance thru a little residential/business area to the forest road and proceeded another 6 miles to the Kite Lake campground.  We were thinking that we would meet up with Jeff, NØXDW and Tom, who had camped out there the night before.  Jeff and Tom were going to hike up Mount Democrat just to the west of Mount Cameron and Mount Lincoln to operate from there.  Sure enough, there was Jeff’s truck with a big quad antenna strapped to the top, but no sign of them yet.  So it was now about 7:15am, and Jim and I started getting ready to start the hike.  It was around 42 degrees, and the morning at that time looked fairly clear, but some clouds were already forming off the bowl top to the west.  There were a lot of hikers already forming up to make the trip, including a large group of VOC's (Volunteers of Colorado) getting ready to go up the slopes to do work on the trail.  Now, technically the trails are not open at this point we found out, due to private land owners and the city of Alma in talks to lease the trails to the city.  This is occurring because the landowners do not want to be sued by someone who might get injured on or off the trail and because of the numerous mining shafts and holes in the area.  But as long as you stay on the trail, there was no problem.  So, Jim and I started up the trail behind the large group of VOC's.  We got about 1/4 mile up the trail thru the valley by Kite Lake when Jim realized he forgot all his paperwork, maps, and log sheets back in the vehicle, so back he went, and followed slowly just kind of enjoying the morning.  Then I heard Jeff, N0XDW give his call out on 146.52 simplex, and he said that his alarm had gone off almost an hour late.  So, they were behind us on the trail back down the hill.  The valley here with mountains on all sides except for the southern entrance was just beautiful in the early morning light.


The trail up to Mount Cameron.

The first part of the hike is thru the valley, but pretty much uphill from the beginning. It traverses thru tundra and bush growth up to a level where there were ruins of a mine house and several mine shafts in the hillside.  There was even an abandoned stove down the hill a ways, but the signs all said to stay on the trail, so you didn't want to go off exploring.  Soon after this we came to the rocky area of the climb, and soon had a great view back down the trail where we could see also the parking area and Kite Lake, yes, shaped like a kite with the tail of the kite being the stream feeding down the hill.  On up for quite a while up the pretty steep trail to the saddle area between the left branch of the trail up Mount Democrat, to the right branch up Mount Cameron.  The view into the valley north of the Democrat/Cameron/Lincoln complex was beautiful.


KCØRPS taking a break!

So, after a brief rest, Jim and I continued up the trail to the east up Mount Cameron. We could see the VOC folks up near the summit working on the very steep trail. The way was steeper here, but we made good time up to the VOC folks.  They were working on building up and making sure the trail was in good shape.   I noted that they had carried up shovels, picks, and other implements. Carried all that, and now were working at above 13,000 feet!  I was impressed, and Jim and I were sure to thank them for their hard work and hopefully give them a word of encouragement.

As we progressed, not only did the trail up Mount Cameron get steeper, but there was a considerable drop off to the left into the valley below.  If you stopped and listened, you could here the water running in the valley.  Very relaxing to listen to.  Then finally we emerged on top of Mount Cameron, and had our first view of Mount Lincoln just off to the north east.  Mount Cameron has a very broad and rounded summit, with a steep slope of about 100 feet or so down to the saddle between it and another hill on the way to the Mount Lincoln summit.  Within another half hour we stood along with a few others on the summit of Mount Lincoln at about 9:30am. 

We wasted no time setting up gear to get on the air.  Jim assembled his 2 meter tape measure beam, and I found some loose stones right next to the summit marker.  I inserted my combination antenna mast/walking stick (actually a collapsible painter’s pole!) and put up the 6 meter inverted V.  I then took out the MFJ-9406 and UPS battery I had lugged up the mountain, and put it on the air.  While doing this I made a contact or 2 on the VX-6 on 2 meters, including Jeff, N0XDW back on Mount Democrat off to the west.  I continued to set up the 6 meter station and soon was tuning the MFJ and hearing signals on 6!

 I was really hopeful we would have a band opening as the weather conditions were about the same as the day before, when I had heard stations back east from my QTH.  So sure enough, I heard a station sign from Chattanooga Tennessee!  So I started calling CQ from the Colorado 14er event from the top of Mount Lincoln at 14,286 feet! Then, after tuning around, worked stations in eastern Tennessee (W2OO), Jackson Mississippi (W4UDH), and AB4EJ, 50 miles south east of Birmingham, Alabama.  I also worked Dennis, NØSP who was on Mount Thorodin close to Denver.  He and I had talked the day before on 6 meters and he told me that he would look for us on Mount Lincoln.  All this time, Jim was working a bunch of stations on 2 meters, a lot of the other peaks were on the air.  Also we could see Quandary Peak off to the north, but hadn't heard anyone yet.  We continued to work more stations on both 2 and 6 meters, although during break in the action on 6 meters I made one contact on 223.500 MHz on the VX-6 with KQ6EE on Pikes Peak.  This guy comes in just about every year from California and operates, so I was really glad to be able to make a 220 contact with him.  And as it turns out,
We were operating from Grid Square DM69wi, which is a much rarer square than most.  So that will be a benefit to the guys who were interested in what Grid Square we were in, which I didn’t know at the time.

More hikers were coming up to the summit during this whole time of about 2 hours we were operating.  We asked one to take our picture for our QSL above.  We will be sending this out to our contacts. Then, the weather started deteriorating, getting colder and rain clouds definitely were moving in.  So, we started wrapping up, but then heard a guy bring Quandary Peak on the air on 2 meters, so we were glad to work him.  His partner evidently hadn't been able to make it to the summit and had turned back, but he came on up.  Quandary at this point was not visible, neither was Democrat off to the south.  We could still see the guy on Mount Bross just to our south, although he had a vehicle on top!  There is a forest road that leads all the way to the top of Bross, and I had to laugh thinking that he was warm and dry and a lightweight!!!  (Just joking here!)  During the time up on the summit we also had the opportunity to show amateur radio to an interested few that wanted to know what we were doing.

On our way down from Mount Lincoln, we looked off over to the west and saw that someone had tried     to drive their little Toyota (told to us by a hiker on the way up) up to Mount Bross, and the car was literally hanging at a precarious angle over the edge of the "road".  More a 2 rut 4 wheel drive track than anything.  What can you say about that except you sure hope they can get it down all right. 

We went back over Mount Cameron and the wind was picking up and we got a rain drop or two.  Now, the slope we so easily went down to the saddle between Cameron and Lincoln had to be traveled back up.  Pretty steep loose soil and rock here, but we made it back up to head down the west side of Cameron to the saddle between it and Democrat. During the descent to the saddle Jim was talking to a young operator on Pikes Peak who was up with his dad and you could tell he was having a great time.  Then I heard him actually call for me, which was surprising, and so I answered him and he relayed a message from Rich, W9BNO who had hoped to work Jim and I but couldn't find us.  So we sent a 73 back his way via the station on Pikes Peak, so I guess we also activated Mount Cameron for a bit as well.  During this time, we could see the summit of Mount Democrat, and we could see Jeff, N0XDW and his partner packing up and heading down. As we descended towards the saddle we watched the two small dark figures heading down to the same spot we were.  This was Jeff and his partner on the way to the saddle and we met up at about the same time.  At this time too it began to rain some so I had to put on a poncho to keep dry and about an hour later we were at the parking lot, ready to go home. I highly recommend a trip up a 14er, and be sure to take your radio with you!

I will be posting pictures for the entire trip on my website, www.qsl.net/ke0vh/techham.html, so take a look when you can.

The month of September the SBE IRLP Hamnet returns, regular schedule, please join us.  Details are at www.qsl.net/ke0vh/SBEhamnet.html

73’
De KEØVH

 

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Clay’s Corner

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

By Clay Freinwald
SBE Seattle Chapter 16

As I write this we are still in the midst of summer with high temps predicted to be in the 90’s…As we get into September summer, our shortest season, will be winding down and the Wet won’t be far behind.

We had a great picnic on Vashon with some folks up from PDX for the event.   The time was now to make the trek down to PDX for their annual summer event- the BBQ at Tom Cauthers place on the Sandy River east of Portland.  Carrying the flag from Chapter 16 was Walt Lowery, Jim Dalke and myself with help from Ken (of CCR-Seattle).   This event has been going on for several years and is well attended.  The venue is the back yard at Tom’s place which is set in a thick forest of towering Doug Firs.  There was a ton of great food (Pot luck style), beverages and, of course, great conversation.   I noted that I know about half of the folks there.   It was great to see Tom Cauthers.  Tom was a sales rep for Collins and later Continental Electronics.  In fact, the transmitters presently in use by 97.3 and 106.1 here were purchased from him, back in 1982.

I can only speak for myself, but I feel that the time has come for us to ramp up these summer events and use them as an opportunity for us to visit our fellow, neighboring, engineers. A number of the folks in Portland, hearing of our Vashon venue, indicated to me that they would love to come to our area and picnic with us.  Jim Dalke made a suggestion to me that I think should be discussed…and that is inviting the Broadcast Engineers from our neighboring cities to the North, Victoria and Vancouver to our event.  Let us know how you feel about this as we think about what to do next summer.

Radio continues to change in ways the defy the predictors…First it was the FCC rule change permitting 8 station clusters.   Now, even though it’s still permitted, the idea has lost it’s luster as the markets biggest cluster (Entercom) has shrunk to half of its former 8 station size.    Simulcasting used to be in with many stations running common programming on AM and FM…Then that became ‘out’…Then came August when KIRO’s owners terminated the staff at their FM (KBSG/97.3) and made it known that KIRO-AM was going to was going to simulcast.  

On August 12th 97.3 ended their 20 year run with Oldies music and became KIRO-FM.   Many of the reasons given for this change are technical in nature –

  • FM does not fade out under bridges and in tunnels like AM does
  • FM penetrates buildings, especially those steel framed ones which act as effective shield to AM signals.
  • Some of the reasons are non-technical –
  • Statistically many more people listen to FM than AM
  • The FM band is full of music stations, of which KBSG was just one of many.
  • Bonneville, the stations owners, have had success in other markets, Washington DC and Salt Lake City, for example with simulcasting.
  • Perhaps the success of KPLU, KUOW and KXOT (all FM stations with HD-R) with their NPR and local news programming, was a factor in the decision to make the change?
  • KIRO has announced that they will be airing the Mariners next year, only on their AM, indicating that separate programming options are in the mix.
  • The economy may have been a factor, reportedly 19 positions were eliminated.

Interesting technical wrinkles –

  • KIRO-FM began their simulcast operation in Mono.   Just about every FM station operates in Stereo.
  • KIRO-FM’s HD Radio signal (one of the best in the market) is also in Mono which is, if you stop and think about it perhaps one of very few stations operating in this new mode that is not in Stereo.
  • Some of their production elements sound pretty bad in HD.  Even Dave Ross admitted that a lot of his work is going to have to be re-recorded now that they have all this new audio band-width.

From the department of wondering
I have to think that the folks in the Green-Glass-Palace are watching this with keen interest.   If KIRO’s ratings, composed of their combined AM and FM audiences produces convincing results….Could we see a KOMO AM & FM combination?  
The great thing about Radio is there is never a dull moment and change is almost constant.

If you have been following the news, you have no doubt heard about the issue of thieves steeling copper wire from highway lighting and, of course, broadcast stations.   Down in Portland this has been a big problem.   Well it’s happened here.   Thieves broke into the transmitter building on South Mountain recently and carted off a considerable amount of copper strap etc.   Thankfully they did not take the transmission line that was in use.   Early reports indicated that other sites on the mountain were also hit, possibly some of them government…hopefully this will encourage the investigator to find the bum’s.  I hate to say it, but  if your station has not been hit by copper thieves, it’s only a matter of time- or – possibly because you have a great security system.

Despite all the arguments and bluster, the FCC has approved the merger of Sirius and XM the two satellite radio systems.

A bit of news this past month in the area of what’s called White Space.   In this case we are talking about spectrum adjacent to TV channels, or more specifically, channels that don’t happen to be assigned or in use in a particular area.   This represents a huge amount of spectrum that has been protected to avoid causing TVI.   Users of this spectrum include medical devices and wireless mic’s.   One of the mission of the GDC frequency coordination program for NFL games is to prevent interference to existing TV stations.   The pressure for more wireless spectrum is huge!   The names of the firms that would like to find a way to open this spectrum up for use for wireless devices of all kinds reads like a who’s –who.  Microsoft, Google, Motorola, HP, Dell etc.   We need to face the fact that our historic ability to protect this spectrum from intrusion is being reduced by the pressure for WiFi etc.   If you ask the average person, my guess is that they put a higher priority on getting a wireless internet connection than on interference free television.  Wireless mic’s are another issue.   Everyone uses these things today and the amount of spectrum where they can operate is being reduced all the time.  Meanwhile the battle lines are being drawn, testing is on-going.  Again, as I have warned you in the past…..Time to fasten your seat-belt.  

The sale of Clear Channel appears to be concluded and, right off the bat, the new owners announced that they are selling off some of the once giant.  What makes this interesting is that, not long ago, critics were quick to point out how Clear Channel had become the big-bad-monster.   CBS too has jointed the ranks of those companies that are selling off some 50  less profitable stations.  As these once large operations down-size they join the list of changes that were not predicted.

Remember the KFI tower issue in LA.   First it was hit by a plane and knocked down…Then after a few years of litigation it’s replacement was starting up, just to have a guy component fail creating another pile of scrap.  The end of July the 2nd attempt to get KFI’s tower up was underway.   The new tower, assuming this time all goes well, will not be as tall as the one that was knocked down, however it will have a 50 foot diameter top-hat (top loading to make it electrically longer)

The September Washington State EAS Meeting will be held at the NOAA Facility at Sand Point on Sept 10th.   This is a change from the originally scheduled location at the Washington Emergency Management offices at Camp Murray.  Details will be posted on – BOTH – of the State EAS Remailers.

In the event you have not been following this change, SBE Chapter 16 working with  Hatfield and Dawson Consulting Engineers are supporting a new email list-serve or remailer for EAS operations in our state.  Here is a copy of the message that I have been sending out on the existing EAS Remailer –

OUR GOAL IS TO MIGRATE FROM THE EXISTING
(eas-wa@broadcast.net) system to the new
(eas-wa@sea.sbe16.org) as soon as possible.

Here is what you need to do -

Go to - http://sea.sbe16.org/mailman/listinfo/eas-wa
and fill out the form.   The system will email you back
with a confirmation procedure.

Please - DO NOT - contact me, or someone else, asking that they subscribe you to the new system.  This is something that you do yourself.

We will be discussing this issue at the next SECC Meeting
on September 10th.

In the mean time-

1 - I encourage you to post your items to BOTH Remailer
2 - Remain subscribed to BOTH systems
3-  I will attempt to cross-post important items that you have
missed to try and not leave anyone out.

If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact me – Once again, a great big THANK YOU to Hatfield and Dawson for their contribution.

Related to EAS – FEMA has announced that they are going to announce the adoption of the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) after the first of the year,   It’s too early to tell you exactly what that will mean.  There is a lot going on behind the scenes all related to the new EAS system that is in the works.   I will keep you posted.

KONP in Port Angeles is operating one of our areas first AM translators on 102.1.  This is likely a welcome addition to the long time PA Radio station as the only FM signals in that area come from BC or the Bellingham area.

KVOS TV has raised a number of eyebrows with the filing of an application to locate their DTV transmitter at a location NE of Seattle instead of the present location of Channel 12 on Orcas Island.   The proposed site is quite a bit lower than Mt Constitution, but, according to their application, will put the require contour over not only Bellingham, but Seattle as well.   In the process they loose their coverage of the Vancouver area, but have a huge gain in population.

On the financial front the news is pretty much the same for Radio and TV- Ad revenue is down.  Some of the major historic advertisers have announced huge cuts in their advertising budgets, for example, troubled automaker Ford is cutting theirs by 2/3.   The results – very tight budgets at stations and some layoffs.  Newspapers are getting hit very hard with the size of local papers shrinking dramatically, a sure sign that times are bad.    A potential bright spot is the elections, many, but not all, stations will enjoy what that brings to the bottom line.

Manufactures of broadcast equipment are being hit hard also by the down-turn.  Harris reportedly laid off some 100, including Chris Pannel who we saw a lot of in this area.

A couple of celebrations to note
Dave Ross recently celebrated 30 years at KIRO Radio and Jean Enersen celebrate 40 years at KING-TV.  See there are exceptions to the notion that Broadcasting is a revolving door.  I will be unable to claim much as my start date at 97.3 FM of May 82 is pretty much meaningless now.

Congress has passed a bill extending the life of analog TV near the Mexican border….Nothing said about our northern border however….

The FCC recently tracked down a pirate radio station in Brooklyn, NY.  To help get the operators attention, they fined him $10,000.

Before I close – A selfish, Ham Radio related plug.   I have ordered a new HF Transceiver to replace my trusty Icom IC-761.   If you know of someone that would be interested in giving this piece of equipment a new home – contact me.

That’s it for this month –
Clay, CPBE, K7CR et al


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AMATEUR RADIO NEWS

Compiled By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
Thanks to Madison Chapter 24

Digital voice programs yanked from Web, put back up
Citing codec (coding/decoding) licensing issues, three free Windows programs for sound card-based HF digital voice were yanked from their download site for a short time recently, surprising hams who are interested in HF digital voice operation; several online groups that supported the software were also closed for a short time.

WinDRM, DRMDV and FDMDV, all written by Cesco Lanza, HB9TLK, used a codec that was developed for the U.S. Department of Defense and NATO. Rights to various forms of the codec are held by several companies. According to Gary Pearce, KN4AQ, the companies have "winked" at ham radio use for several years, but a recent complaint caused the programs to be pulled from the download site.

"Lanza did a quick rewrite to use an open-source codec, and now WinDRM and FDMDV are back," Pearce said. "DRMDV, an intermediate program between the other two, has been abandoned. WinDRM could always use the open-source Speex codec, but FDMDV users will need to download the new version."

Pearce said these three programs all allow hams to transmit and receive digital voice by connecting their PC sound card to an ordinary single-sideband transceiver: "The result has been surprisingly high-quality audio, with virtually no noise — sort of like listening to FM, but in the narrow bandwidth of a sideband signal. WinDRM, the best sounding program, uses 2.5 kHz of spectrum. FDMDV sounds a little rougher, but uses only 1.1 kHz of spectrum. They both use OFDM modulation, a set of close-spaced carriers that are each modulated with a little bit of data to add up to the final digital signal. The main problem with HF digital voice is that it needs fairly strong signals. FDMDV works better with weaker signals than WinDRM."

NN3SI off air
After more than 30 years on the air from the nation’s capital, NN3SI, the Amateur Radio station at the National Museum of American History — part of the Smithsonian Institution — became silent on Thursday, July 31.

Originally located in the Nation of Nations exhibit, the station first went on the air in 1976 in celebration of the U.S. Bicentennial. The FCC caught the patriotic spirit, giving the station a temporary call sign — NN3SI — standing for Nation of Nations, Smithsonian Institution. The Commission later made the call sign allocation permanent.

NN3SI has been situated in several different exhibitions in the Museum; it was most recently housed in the former Information Age exhibit. This exhibit chronicled the birth and growth of the electronic information age — from Samuel Morse’s invention of a practical telegraph in the 1830s through the development of the telephone, radio, television and computer.

The Museum has been closed since 2006 while undergoing a major renovation and is scheduled to reopen to the public this fall.

The station participated in many special events throughout its history.

During the dedication of the World War II Memorial on the National Mall, station operators made many contacts and taught children visiting the Museum how to spell their names in Morse code. Over the years, operators at NN3SI — who hailed from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia (and the occasional guest operators from various parts of the globe) — have logged contacts with amateurs in all parts of the world and with astronauts and cosmonauts in orbit. By operating the station, NN3SI ops promoted Amateur Radio as a national resource for emergency communications, trained operators, technicians and engineers — as well as an outstanding hobby — to the more than 4 million people who visit the museum each year.

Excerpts from the American Radio Relay League’s Web site, arrl.org


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Smart Antenna Review

By Paul Stoffel
Thanks to Chapter 24 - Madison


Various DTV converter box manufacturers include the Smart Antenna interface in their products. The Smart Antenna interface is standardized as EIA/CEA-909. The actual Smart Antenna provides for automatic adjustment of antenna direction and gain electronically, with no need for the viewer to physically adjust the antenna.

Best Buy stores are now selling the Apex DT250 digital converter box with analog pass-through and a Smart Antenna interface. Available on the Web is a Smart Antenna DTA-5000 from DX ANTENNA, and also marketed by Sylvania, has directivity of 360 degrees. In a scan taken from the DX Antenna instruction manual, Figure 1 shows the connections between the Smart Antenna and the DTV converter box.

TEST SET-UP
FIGURE 1 - SMART ANTENNA HOOK-UP

The Smart Antenna is intended to be connected to one device at a time (a converter box or TV with an interface). Splitters are not allowed. A short (12-inch) antenna control cable, with unique RJ-11 plugs and offset clips, connects the converter box to the antenna control box. The antenna control box supplies 12VDC to the Smart Antenna. Figure 2 shows the outdoor VHF/UHF Smart Antenna, made of sturdy plastic, mounted on an antenna mast with a coaxial cable coming from the antenna control box.

CLOSE-UP OF A SMART ANTENNA
FIGURE 2 - A SMART ANTENNA

Once the connections are made, the converter box can be powered ON. The Apex converter box senses if a Smart Antenna control cable has been connected. A menu option for controlling the Smart Antenna is enabled. The viewer can either manually choose antenna phases or "positions" 1 through 16 or let the smart antenna technology automatically choose the best position, see Figure 3. A determined position value is unique to each DTV channel tuned, and that value can be stored in the converter box by using the menu option "Save New Position."


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Thoughts on Labor Day

By Larry Bloomfield - KA6UTC
1980 25th St. - Florence, OR 97439

As we move through and past this Labor Day weekend, it comes to mind that as labors in the broadcast industry, many of our contemporaries are retiring, leaving and/or dyeing off. The question comes to mind, where are the replacements coming from?
 
Having met and spoken with probably more SBE members during my tour with the Taste of NAB Road Show than most any other SBE member, I’ve certainly gotten a feel for some of the wants and needs of our industry as expressed by many I’ve spoken with. There is one thing that is very much implied, but isn’t discussed very much and that’s the issue of vocations into our industry. There are many schools that teach how to operate, how to edit and do the “artsy-craftsy” stuff, but the places that teach how to trouble shoot and fix gear are few and far between. There are a few that teach studio repair, but try to find someone who is able to skillfully work on transmitters, be they TV or radio, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
 
There are a few things we can do to find vocations. A natural place is within the amateur radio community. Many “hams” have a good working knowledge of electronics and some even can diagnose and repair transmitters. Don’t pooh-pooh this source as I’ve never met an electron that knew the difference between amateur and commercial communications. Two way radio guys are another possible source.
 
If you live near a military base, there are any numbers of folks getting discharged who are looking to apply their technical skills in one way or another. Not sure how you’d find out who or where they’re at, but it might be worth a shot. I was a Navy electronics tech and there isn’t much that I could not work on and/or repair. Most Navy techs are very broad based in what they can work on – especially the guys who are on board ship. This isn’t to say that the other branches of service don’t have talented folks as well. If you get someone from the military, you’ll probably get someone who can take direction and follow orders. (What a novel concept!)
 
Another approach is for local SBE chapters to do some simple marketing. Marketing is a term we normally associate with the sales department, but in this case, marketing is the selling of our craft to others; a craft that has been a lot of fun for most of us. (Just read some of the fun stuff that is posted on the various list servers many of us subscribe to.) Our national SBE offices have taken the first step in that direction by setting up the “Internship on Line” program. I don’t know how they plan to promulgate this program, but I’m doing my part by sharing the program during my Taste of NAB Road Show. The concept is a great one and may well result in these interns learning about SBE and eventually becoming members.
 
Akin to this would be to invite science teachers and other instructors and even their classes to join your SBE chapter at a mutually agreeable time when the program would be of general interest. Getting programs of general interest to members and prospective members, students, etc is not a problem. Our chapters in Oregon (124, 76 and 141) are booked through the fall of next year. There’s little doubt in my mind that several of these programs would meet this criteria. To accomplish this kind of approach, chapters have to be flexible and not maintain the “we always meet on such and such a date and time and can’t change” attitude.
 
And yet another way to market our industry is by participating in job fairs and the like. Most high schools, junior colleges, some universities and even trade schools have these to help students who are undecided or wish to find out more about different carrier path opportunities. Local SBE chapters can help stimulate interest by going to these events and participating. Many chapters have retired folks who would probably be more than willing to help out in this area. If nothing else, seeing the SBE logo up on a table could well generate some interest. Hearing about the broadcast industry from an “old salt” SBE member could well lead to that person to get interested in our industry and who knows – they may eventually becoming a member of our society. These retired folks are also a resource and their stories can be very captivating, if you give them a chance to share.
 
In closing, I’d like to ask those thirty SBE chapters remaining on my itinerary to invite folks from outside the chapter – ham clubs, high schools, junior colleges, universities and even trade schools. It might help make us know in our community, which may not be a bad thing. You might even invite your GMs. Having them on your side might help you get the time off to attend your monthly SBE meetings.

 

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SBE News

From the Chair - Teamwork

By Dennis Baldridge
Chapter 24 Chair

Life would be great — if it wasn’t for people. How many of us have felt frustration when interacting with others. Yet as broadcast engineers, our success depends on our ability to perform our responsibilities as well as work together. We can maintain professional working relationships when we understand its importance to the success of our profession.

Benjamin Franklin understood this when he said "We must all hang together, or assuredly, we shall all hang separately." One work ethic, for which all employers long, is that of treating others in an appropriate way. Teamwork is realized as we properly interact with those within our own ranks.

Demonstrating respect for other engineers, as evidenced through our words and actions, is a key aspect addressed in the SBE’s "Canon of Ethics." The fourth main area of our SBE code of ethics, Relations with Engineers, encompasses nine sections.

Section 19. The Broadcast Engineer will endeavor to protect the broadcast profession collectively and individually from misrepresentation and misunderstanding.

Section 20. The Broadcast Engineer will take care that credit for work is given to those to whom credit is properly due.

Section 21. The Broadcast Engineer will uphold the principle of appropriate and adequate compensation for those engaged in broadcast work, including those in subordinate capacities, as being in the public interest and maintaining the standards of the profession.

Section 22. The Broadcast Engineer will endeavor to provide opportunity for the professional development and advancement of personnel in his or her employ.

Section 23. The Broadcast Engineer will not directly or indirectly injure the professional reputation, prospects or practice of another colleague. However, if he or she considers that an individual is guilty of unethical, illegal or unfair practice, he or she will present the information to the proper authority for action.

Section 24. The Broadcast Engineer will exercise due restraint in criticizing another colleague’s work in public, recognizing the fact that the engineering societies and engineering press provide the proper forum for technical discussion and criticism.

Section 25. The Broadcast Engineer will not try to supplant another engineer in a particular employment after becoming aware that definite steps have been taken toward the other’s employment.

Section 26. The Broadcast Engineer will not use the advantages of a salaried position to compete unfairly with another engineer.

Section 27. The Broadcast Engineer will not become associated in responsibility for work with engineers who do not conform to ethical practices John Hancock once said "The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and to influence their actions." We demonstrate this aptitude with other engineers by firm adherence to a code of moral and ethical values. Our integrity will not only enable us to be a good employee, but will benefit the entire company. Let us all work to practice the SBE’s "Canon of Ethics," particularly in our Relations with Engineers.


SBE Offers Strategy for Implementing CAP EAS

The Society of Broadcast Engineers, in an effort to aid the implementation of the “Common Alerting Protocol” (CAP) technology for a revised Emergency Alert System, has prepared and released a document titled, “A Strategy for Implementing CAP EAS.” The document has been shared with representatives of the FCC, FEMA, NAB and the National Alliance of State Broadcast Associations (NASBA).  The FCC and FEMA have the ultimate responsibility for developing the next generation of EAS.

Commonly referred to as SBE’s CAP EAS “roadmap,” a key element of the strategy is the recommendation to create six working groups which would address specific portions of the task. The SBE offered its volunteer member services as appropriate to work on relevant working groups that relate to the interests of our members.

The “roadmap” was prepared by members if the SBE EAS Committee, which is chaired by national board member, Clay Freinwald, CPBE and was approved by the SBE Board of Directors.

 

Hosting for Ennes Workshop

Hartford, Connecticut Will Host Ennes Workshop September 13

SBE Chapter 14 of The Connecticut Valley will host an Ennes Workshop on Saturday, September 13 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.  The Workshop is being sponsored in part by the Connecticut Broadcasters Association.

The event will take place at the Crown Plaza Hotel, 100 Berlin Road in Cromwell, CT., a suburb on Hartford’s south side.  Program details and a registration form are available on the SBE website. The low registration fee includes the Workshop, lunch and breaks! 

The cost to attend the Workshop is just $35 for SBE members and $45 for non-members. Registration is made through the SBE National Office and can be done via the Internet using VISA, MasterCard or American Express. Registration may also be done through the mail or by fax.

 

Madison Wis. to Host National Meeting

The Society of Broadcast Engineers will hold its 2008 National Meeting in Madison, Wisc. on October 14-15. The National Meeting will be held in conjunction with the annual Broadcasters Clinic,a three day event that features broadcast technical presentations for radio and television engineers and a broadcast equipment expo. There is a fee to attend the Broadcasters Clinic.
A discount applies to those who register by August 29.

Hosts for the SBE National Meeting will be SBE Chapter 24 of Madison and the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association (WBA). The event will take place at the Madison Marriott West Hotel, located in Middleton, Wisc. on Madison's west side.

Events held during the SBE National Meeting include the fall meeting of the national Board of Directors, the annual SBE Fellows Breakfast, the Annual Membership Meeting and the 2008 SBE National Awards Reception and Dinner.  Tickets to the SBE Awards Reception and Dinner are available for just $14 per person, thanks to generous support from our corporate sponsors.

The WBA is handling registration for the Broadcasters Clinic and the SBE National Awards Reception and Dinner. If you have questions about the SBE National Meeting, please contact SBE Executive Director, John Poray.

 

Student Chapters – Where Are They?

By Keith M. Kintner, CPBE/CBNT
Chair, SBE Student Chapter Subcommittee

“Why don’t we have any student chapters?” That was the question I asked during the strategic planning session for SBE in Kansas City during the summer of 2006. Chriss Scherer, who was the SBE President at that time, asked me to look into it. There has been a provision for Student Chapters in the SBE Bylaws, but none had ever been formed. Since I work on a university campus with an excellent Radio-TV-Film program at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, I discussed the question with some of our students. Chapter 80.1 was formed last year, under the leadership of some interested students, and is currently the only active student chapter.

With summer ending, classes will soon be starting at schools across the country. This is an opportune time to get in touch with schools in your area – colleges, community colleges and technical schools, to see if they might be interested in forming a chapter. The SBE has requirements for forming chapters, including student chapters. What is unique to a student chapter is meeting the requirements of both the SBE as well as the campus. The task is not difficult, but it does take a little time. Meetings need to be held with interested students to draft bylaws and begin planning. Usually, an advisor, who is an SBE member, is needed. Some of our current members are employed by universities, colleges and technical schools and would be excellent advisors. Faculty members at schools are welcome to become active in the SBE and serve as an advisor for a student chapter.

Events can include field trips to broadcast facilities, guest speakers from the local chapter or presenters at a chapter meeting that will do a second demonstration or talk at the school. Chapter 80.1 co-hosted the Taste of NAB Roadshow last year and plans to do it again in October.

If you are interested in forming an SBE Student Chapter, visit the SBE website or contact me at: kmkint3@yahoo.com and I will provide you with answers to your questions. I would like to see many more student chapters formed within the next few months and years. Perhaps we will have some new student chapters by next spring. It is up to each chapter to get involved and develop a student chapter in their area. I look forward to hearing from you and seeing the number of student chapters grow. Thank you!

SBE National Web-Conference October 13

SBE will conduct a one-hour national web-conference on Monday evening, October 13. All members and others interested in SBE are invited to tune in and participate in the program. The program will begin at 8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm PDT) and emanate from the facilities of Wisconsin Public Television in Madison. The program will feature SBE President Barry Thomas, Vice President Vinny Lopez and other national leaders of SBE.

A portion of the program will be devoted to Q&A with questions taken from viewers via telephone and e-mail. Log-in information will be available closer to the event. Plans are also in the works to have the program available via satellite.

Chapters may want to consider making this event their chapter meeting program for September. Save the date!

 

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 2008 are listed below. Check the list below for the exam period that is best for you. For more information about SBE Certification, see your Chapter Certification Chair or contact Megan Clappe, Certification Director at the SBE National Office at (317) 846-9000, or mclappe@sbe.org

Exam Dates Location Application Deadline
Aug 8-18, 2008 Local Chapters Jun 6, 2008
Nov 7-17, 2008 Local Chapters Sep 19, 2008

Fees for 2008 are as Follows:

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

Please note: SBE Certification exams are administered only by SBE and are proctored in-person by qualified and approved representatives of SBE. No other organization is authorized to administer SBE exams.
Click here for more information about SBE Certification.

 

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Etc.

Newsletter Committee

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

  Garneth M. Harris

  Tom Goldberg - On-Line Editor

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