A monthly newsletter by Society of Broadcast Engineers Chapter 48

January 2000


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Contents

The December Meeting
Chapter 48's Next Meeting
Upcoming Meetings And Happenings
New Spectrum Management Policy
Job Postings
SBE Members Get Discount On NAB Spring Convention
Chairman's Corner - Local Broadcasting and EAS
FCC Rulemakings
APRS Tracks Down Stolen Van
Amateur Radio News
Arbitron Web Ratings
The 1999 Darwin Award Winner
Trivia
Clay Freinwald's Impressions
Characteristics Of An Engineer
Life Before The Computer
Carl Sagan's Twelve Rules To Live By
Things Your Mother Didn't Tell You
Fire Humor
Etc.

The December Meeting

By Rome Chelsi

Howard McClure and the fine folks at Itelco provided us with a comprehensive overview of 8VSB characteristics and Itelco's approach to exciters. Howard additionally provided us with insight into the ATSC/53 & ATSC/54 specifications.

The highlight was a view of a DTV transmitter being readied for shipment from Itelco's Westminster facility. Chris Noland of Tektronix was on hand to provide us with a demonstration of the latest 8VSB and MPEG test gear. Chris will be our presenter at the January meeting at KUSA - make sure you attend this one.

Howard has been very active in the IEEE Broadcast section and provided insight into the IEEE activities. As you may well know, IEEE is a Standards Development Organization, whose members work on developing technologies, and promulgates many of the standards affecting our industry. We may try to put together a joint session some time next year.

If you would like to reach Howard, the phone number at Itelco is 303.464.8000 SMPTE/SBE Looking for Volunteers:

The chapters have openings for volunteers to assist with planning and organizing chapter activities and helping out with some of the administrative efforts. The SMPTE chapter is in need of board members to help out with finance and other duties. And we can always use help with putting on meetings. Please contact either Fred Baumgartner at 303-486-3946, baumgartner.fred.m@tci.com , or Rome Chelsi at 303.428.8300, romec@compuserve.com .

Be sure to join us on Wednesday, January 19, 2000 for a visit with Chris Noland of Tektronix. He'll be demonstrating DTV test equipment. We'll meet at the KUSA, Channel 9, studios at Speer and Logan at 6:30 pm.

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Chapter 48's Next Meeting...

...will be held January 19th at KUSA at 6:30pm.

Chris Noland, Account Manager and Michael H. Waidson, Video Application Engineer with Tektronix will be presenting at KUSA on January 19th at 6:30pm on digital video. The deployment of digital TV is full of new issues and new ways to test have to be developed. Mike and Chris will cover the new concepts that will be required to ensure your success and help you create the future of television.

The evolution of digital processing allows for the compression of video signals which involves new test procedures to be developed. There are fundamentally two test methodologies for MPEG-2 Transport Stream: a) Protocol Analysis which involves checking bits of information which carry sync, program clocks, packet identifiers, etc. which are created by the encoder and used by the decoder to extract the appropriate information for a particular channel. If these bits are encoded incorrectly the decoder may not be able to assemble the output video channel and will produce MPEG defects or the infamous blue screen. During the seminar we will show the MTS200 MPEG-2 protocol analyzer which can be used to monitor the MPEG-2 transport stream for errors. b) Picture Quality of the compressed picture can no longer be established by color bars or other static test signals since redundant information is removed by the compression algorithm. Therefore moving images have to be used to assess the picture quality of the MPEG2 encoder/decoder system. However picture quality is a subjective matter dependent on your eye brain relationship to viewing an image. We will investigate the possibility of doing real-time picture quality analysis on moving pictures.

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Upcoming Meetings And Happenings

January 19, 2000 DTV Test Equipment, Chris Noland, Tektronix- 6:30PM, KUSA

February 16, 2000 Kelly Hannig, Gentner Remote Control - 6:30PM, KCNC

March 5, 2000 (Sunday) Deadline to apply to take a certification exam at the NAB Convention in Las Vegas on April 11.

March 16, 2000 TBA

April 8-13, 2000 NAB Convention, Las Vegas, Nevada

April 21, 2000 (Friday) Deadline to apply to take an SBE Certification Exam during the June 9-19 local window.

May 17, 2000 DirecTV Tour 6:30PM

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New Spectrum Management Policy

By Tom Smith

On November 18th, the FCC issued a policy statement on the guiding principles for managing spectrum. They stated that the principles would enhance competition and encourage the development of new communications technologies. Much of the discussion in this notice concerned the proposed reallocation and auction of 202 MHz of spectrum as required by Congress under the 1993 and 1997 Budget Acts. There is also discussion of other potential spectrum that could be reallocated and auctioned. The spectrum that the FCC will be auctioning in the next three to five years includes 216-220 MHz, 698-746 MHz (TV channel 52- 59), 1390-1395 MHz, 1427-1429 MHz, 1432-1435 MHz. 1670-1675 MHz, 1710-1755 MHz, 2160-2165 MHz, 2300-2305MHz, 2385-2390 MHz, and 4635-4660 MHz. The FCC has proposed to license a number of mobile services in these bands, including new land mobile channels in the three bands between 1390 and 1435 MHz. The National Telecommunications and Information Agency has identified four bands to substitute for 15 megahertz that was required to be reallocated from the 1990-2110 MHz band. These frequencies include 944-960 MHz, 1390-1400 MHz, 1427-1432 MHz, 1670-1675 MHz, unauctioned parts from 2500-2690 MHz and 3650- 3700 MHz. Note the proposed reallocation of the 944-960 MHz band. This is the band that the aural STL frequencies (944-952 MHz) are located in. Of the bands the NTIA has identified, all of them have already been auctioned or will be auctioned under existing law except for the 944-960 band and the unauctioned parts of the 2500-2690 band. An auction was held in 1996 for 66 MHz of the 2500-2690 MHz band which is used for wireless cable TV. In this policy statement, the FCC proposed the use of a number of new technologies and allocation methods. The FCC would like to promote technologies such as spread spectrum and ultra-wideband digital. They would also like to use different auction methods, allow for licenses to negotiate among themselves to control interference and auction spectrum to "band managers," who would resale the spectrum to small users such as land mobile users. They also proposed to make it easier to transfer licenses so that the spectrum would be used "by the highest value end users." The would also like to clear spectrum for new users by providing incentives to existing users to move to different frequencies, which are normally located in higher frequency bands, or to non-wireless systems like wired or fiber-optic cable. Fees for the use of spectrum were suggested as one method to discourage unneeded spectrum usage. This policy statement and the FCC strategic planning paper titled A New FCC for the 21st Century give spectrum users a look into the future and their place in it.
From FCC Release (www.fcc.gov)

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Job Postings

As a service to SBE/SMPTE membership, technology positions in the Rocky Mtn. region are posted at no charge. Please send your posting to:

Rome Chelsi
ROMEC@compuserve.com

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SBE Members Get Discount On NAB Spring Convention

Once again, SBE members will be able to register for the NAB Spring Convention in Las Vegas at the NAB Member rate, a savings of $330. NAB will be sending registration materials for the April 2000 event soon. They already have on- line registration available at their web site: www.nab.org. If your station is not a member of NAB, be sure to take advantage of this great SBE member benefit. The savings are equal to SIX times the cost of ONE year of SBE membership!

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Chairman's Corner - Local Broadcasting and EAS

by Ron Schacht, Chapter 2

I am sure some of our members remember the CONELRAD days. The plan was that every participating station would go to 640 or 1240 kHz (kilocycles in those days) and broadcast the same information. The idea was that the enemy could not zero in on a radio transmitter in a major city, rather the huge number of carriers on the same frequencies would confuse the "bomb" that was flying towards New York or where ever. It was a nightmare for participating stations not on 640 or 1240 because you had to keep a crystal for whichever frequency you are closest to, not to mention prearranged taps on coils in the transmitter and in the ATU. FM had to just go away.

Then, in the 60's we went with EBS. This was the 5-second carrier break, make, break, then on with a 15-second tone. Most stations tripped a plate breaker during this escapade and stayed off until someone made a trip to the transmitter to reset it. This system, like CONELRAD never really worked either. Next came the dual tone EBS. That system had the potential to work but was used very infrequently when called upon mostly by local governments for weather alerts.

Now we have EAS. The system has the potential to work and in some parts of the country actually does. I know of areas where school systems have decoders installed and with the responsible radio stations have saved numerous lives. So, we have a good system for EAS. Now, in addition to local radio using EAS, just about all of the television stations around the country besides EAS have direct connections with weather service alerts. The tones and the crawl across the bottom of the screen are great tools to alert the public to impending doom and in most cases it is faster than the EAS system. In addition to this, the cable television people are using EAS on the satellite channels so even if you are watching the History Channel on your cable system, you will get the alert via the EAS decoder at the cable headend.

As always, however, people not listening to radio or watching television will not know. In some areas of the country, tornado sirens are used which work very well so this situation can be addressed. The main concern though is a relatively new one, DSS service. Many of the people who have DSS systems are in rural areas where serious weather problems can pop up and cause a good deal of damage. The technology is available for the DSS people to transmit the NOAA alerts to select receivers; it would seem a wise decision for the FCC to look into making this a requirement as the dishes slowly supplement and replace cable.

I am sure that most everyone is aware of the power companies ability to send data over their lines to turn water heaters, electric heat or whatever on and off to control peak demand. It seems to me that it is possible to also send data down the lines and geographically divide the data within the substations. With this it seems everyone could have a receiver plugged into the AC line similar to a CO alarm which could display alerts on a LCD screen or what have you. Maybe we as broadcast engineers can think this one out as a practical solution to the problem of alerting everyone at home by supplying data from our facilities.

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FCC Rulemakings

Compiled By Tom Smith, Chapter 24

PROPOSED MM Docket 99-325; FCC 99-327

Digital Audio Broadcasting Systems and Their Impact On the Terrestrial Radio Broadcast Service The FCC has released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking asking for comments on how the Commission should approach the introduction of Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB). The aim of this notice is not to select any system for DAB, but to set up the criteria and methods for the selection of a new DAB system. Like Digital TV, there will be a series of rulemakings to determine the final system and its introduction. The FCC has listed the following criteria, including enhanced audio fidelity, robustness to interference and other signal impairments, compatibility with existing analog service, spectrum efficiency, flexibility and ability to provide auxiliary services, potential for updating, accommodation for existing broadcasters, coverage and costs. The FCC is asking if the In-Band On-Carrier system is preferable or if a system that requires additional spectrum in another band be used, such as the Eureka 147 system which is used in Europe and Canada. One proposal is to use TV channel six after the transition to DTV is made. There is only one DTV station assigned to channel six, but there are 57 analog stations, some which may want to move their digital operations to channel six. One question raised if new spectrum is selected is if a multi-class system of allotment should be use as in the current FM system, or if all stations should be given the same service area. Another issue raised is the occupied bandwidth of an IBOC system, and how it would affect current analog stations and particularly the proposed low power FM stations.

In the FM band, the FCC is considering reducing or eliminating the third and possibly the second adjacent channel restrictions. In both the AM and the FM IBOC systems, the occupied bandwidth will double as the digital signal is located below and above the current analog signal. As part of this discussion, the FCC is asking about sunsetting the current analog system and whether the digital signals could be moved into the analog spectrum or if the IBOC systems will require the digital signal to remain in its original configuration. The analog information could be replace with digital information such as data. USA Digital Radio, one of the IBOC proponents, is proposing that analog transmissions end twelve years after the start of digital. Finally the FCC is asking if a committee should be created similar to the one that selected the DTV standard. This notice was adopted and released on November 1, 1999 and published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on November 9, 1999 on pages 61,054-61,056. Comments are due on January 24, 2000 and replies on February 22, 2000.

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APRS Tracks Down Stolen Van

For most of us, having a car stolen is a traumatic experience. But for one Canadian ham it was more the thrill of the chase. When Bill Guthrie, VE6OLD, of Bentley, Alberta, Canada woke up to find his van missing from his driveway, he did one thing before he called the police. Bill ran down to the computer, and had a quick peek. Almost instantly, the APRS beacon in his van told Bill's computer that his vehicle was enjoying a leisurely drive around the town of Red Deer.

Then, calmly, Bill picked up the phone and called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He reported the stolen van, adding that they could recover it and catch the thieves if they sent someone to the Red Deer location. They did, and the arresting officers got even more than they were looking for.

It seems some young teens needed a vehicle to haul their loot from a recent spate of break and enter robberies. Not only did the alleged thieves get caught red handed for grand theft auto, but the stolen goodies in the van tied them to those other crime scenes as well. But that's not all.

Obviously, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police wanted to know how the owner of a stolen vehicle could possibly know where it was located. That was the opening for VE6OLD to begin explaining the magic of Amateur Radio's Automatic Position Reporting System (APRS). He also invited some of the officers to his house to demonstrate how APRS works. The Mounties were impressed. (www.bext.com/cgc)

(From NEWSLINE #1163, via the CGC Communicator)

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Amateur Radio News

By Tom Weeden, WJ9H, Chapter 24, Madison

The amateur license restructuring issue has reportedly moved to the front burner at the FCC, and a Report and Order could be released before the end of 1999. On August 10, 1998, the FCC proposed to phase out the Novice and Technician Plus licenses, leaving just four amateur license classes in place—Technician, General, Advanced, and Extra. The Commission also asked the amateur community to express its opinions on Morse code requirements for licensing and testing, but offered no specific recommendations. The American Radio Relay League proposed Morse code requirements of 5 words per minute for General and 12 WPM for Advanced and Extra class. The restructuring debate generated more than 2200 comments to the FCC, many of them from individual amateurs. Reports from several FCC sources suggest that the R&O draft is in its final stages and could be complete within a month or so.

The Voice of America says a problem at one of its shortwave broadcast transmitters apparently was responsible for causing a spurious signal to appear in the top end of the 20-meter amateur phone band. Several hams had reported hearing a broadcast signal on 14.340 MHz in recent weeks, a second harmonic of the 7.170 fundamental. A VOA engineer said the problem apparently was related to a faulty harmonic filter at a VOA transmitter in the Philippines. The station has switched to an alternate transmitter until repairs can be made. (Excerpts from the American Radio Relay League's "The ARRL Letter")

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Arbitron Web Ratings

From Chapter 124

NEW YORK

The Arbitron Company has released its first Webcast ratings report, bringing broadcast-style audience measurement to the streaming media industry. The ratings firm determined that, in the month of October, more than 900,000 listeners tuned to 240 channels of audio programming offered by the first four streaming media servers to participate in the company's new Internet audio ratings service. This first InfoStreamT ratings report compiled total audience estimates and average time spent tuning during the month of October for listeners to 240 Internet audio channels being streamed by ABC Radio Networks, BroadcastAmerica.com, LaMusica and Magnitude Network. The InfoStream service determined that, for these four streaming content providers, Internet listeners spent over 1.3 million hours listening tuned to Internet audio during the month of October. Internet listeners logged 36,000 hours tuned to the channels streamed by La Musica; 41,000 hours to BroadcastAmerica.com channels; 440,000 hours to the Magnitude Network channels and 816,000 hours to the channels streamed by ABC Radio Networks.

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And The 1999 Darwin Award Winner Is . . .

THOMPSON, MANITOBA, CANADA

Telephone relay company night watchman Ed Baker, 31, was killed early Christmas morning by excessive microwave radiation exposure. He was apparently attempting to keep warm next to a telecommunications feed-horn. He had told co-workers that it was the only way he could stay warm during his twelve-hour shift at the station, where winter temperatures often dip to forty below zero.

For his Christmas shift, Baker reportedly brought a twelve pack of beer and a plastic lawn chair, which he positioned directly in line with the strongest microwave beam. Baker had not been told about a tenfold boost in microwave power planned that night to handle the anticipated increase in holiday long- distance calling traffic. Bakers body was discovered by the daytime watchman, John Burns, who was greeted by an odor he mistook for a Christmas roast he thought Baker must have prepared as a surprise. Burns also reported to NMSR company officials that Bakers' unfinished beers had exploded. I would not vouch for the veracity of this piece, but I have seen wasps do this on a weather radar shroud on chilly autumn days. They probably hadn't had a safety course on the hazards of radiation.

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Trivia

1. The US interstate highway system requires that one mile in every five be straight. These straight sections function as airstrips in times of war and other emergencies.

2. The Boston University Bridge is the only place in the world where a boat can sail under a train driving under a car driving under an airplane.

3. In the last 4000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.

4. If you have three quarters, four dimes and four pennies, you have $1.19. You also have the largest amount of money in coins without being able to make change for a dollar.

5. The first toilet ever seen on TV was on "Leave it to Beaver."

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Clay Freinwald's Impressions

Chapter 16

My impressions are many but I do want to share a few. First of all I was very impressed with the level of dedication by the members of the Board. These folks take this organization VERY seriously (as they should). I was given some advice from a number of folks. Let me share some of it. When it comes to making decisions: Never forget the guy in the trenches, the fellow that cannot make meetings, or does not have a chapter near him. How would he vote if he were suddenly in your chair? Don't forget the fellow that has not joined SBE for whatever reason. Could your decision or vote impact his decision to join? Don't feel that you cannot challenge what appears to be the majority or the older guys on the Board. If you feel they are going in the wrong direction let them know. Stand up for what you know is right.

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Characteristics Of An Engineer

Clay Freinwald, Chapter 16

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Life Before The Computer

From Clay Freinwald, Chapter 16, Seattle

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Carl Sagan's Twelve Rules To Live By

From Chapter 16, Seattle

Carl Sagan, the famous astronomer, left us with twelve simple rules to live by, some of which are worth repeating in this publication:

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Things Your Mother Didn't Tell You

AUTHOR

  1. You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe daylight-savings time.
  2. The most powerful force in the universe is gossip.
  3. The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe we are above-average drivers.
  4. There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make a big deal about your birthday. That time is age 11.
  5. There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."

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Fire Humor

As one of only three full time employees in my working group, I was required to attend a fire and emergency preparedness seminar, so that I could help others to leave the building in the event of trouble. I work in a federal government building called the "Narono building". The first slide went up, proudly proclaiming this to be the:

(N)arono (E)mergency (R)esponse (O)rganisation

It occured to me that, since the primary responsibility of this group is fire evacuation, not much thought had been put into the resulting acronym.

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Newsletter Committee

Bill Harris........(303)756-4843 email: bharris4@ix.netcom.com
Garneth M. Harris..(303)756-4843
Andre' Smith.......(303)556-3549 email: asmith@carbon.cudenver.edu

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/or the Denver SBE/SMPTE Newsletter.