A monthly newsletter by Society of Broadcast Engineers Chapter 48

February 1997

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The January 1997 Meeting
Chapter 48's Next Meeting
Schedule of Upcoming Meetings and Events
"Captain, We're Entering a Temporal Anomaly"
Get Ready for Las Vegas
RFR Rules Delayed by FCC
From Chapter 16
Chapter Organizes in Wyoming
Clay's Corner
DTV Creates Problems for Broadcasters
Amateur Radio News

The January 1997 Meeting

Some of Denver's best engineers were seen behind massive servings of Mexican food at the Sedalia Grill for Chapter 48's January meeting. (Of course, other fine engineers were found behind hamburgers, etc!) Our Vice Chairman, Eric Schultz, lead the gathering which was well attended given the distance from the city.

One piece of new business concerned the numerous problems in recent months with our "default" meeting location. A motion was made and seconded to hold upcoming ones in a special section of the cafeteria at the National Digital Television Center in Littleton. (Please look for more information about this elsewhere in this newsletter.)

Conversion from EBS to EAS was a hot topic and testimony indicated that obtaining FCC documentation on the matter has been rather frustrating. However, several other members offered that the most current Commission EAS publications could be found on the Internet. Now might be the time to visit that site before the FCC visits your site!

From the grill, a caravan drove to TCI's Starport facility off Titan Road where John Gleason, Manager of Uplinks, gave us a private tour of one of the world's largest earth stations. It is from here that PrimeStar, Netlink, the "Denver 5" (it's really more than 5), and many other services are beamed to a myriad of geostationary satellites. Some of the more impressive aspects include (A) over 30 large aperture dishes, some of which exceed 13 meters and require auto-tracking, (B) fully redundant, leading-edge (i.e., digital) equipment throughout, (C) its own water supply, (D) a mile heated driveway, and (E) two, soon to be three, 1.25 megawatt generators. As but one example of the level of sophistication, John demonstrated the automatic frequency tuning of a transmitter which took less than 4 seconds! We thank him for giving us time from his busy schedule.

As fate would have it, TCI also had their brand new production truck in town for the day for an open house; so, several members continued the caravan to NDTC. This truck is said to be among the most advanced in the world right now and it sure looked like it. Once it's on location, one whole side of the 3 axle trailer extends out 5 feet as does the rear. It's advanced gear includes 12 Ikegami cameras, 14 VTRs, 2 video file servers, 2 audio consoles (96 inputs), multiple channels of digital video production effects, and 15 tons of air conditioning. A 31 foot custom tractor will be delivered soon to replace the temporary one now in use. And to show how the times have changed, the 96 audio inputs can be hauled from the venue to the truck on one 6000 foot fiber optic cable about the diameter of thin-net. This time, thanks go to Jerry Parkins for the tour.

Be sure to join us at the National Digital Television Center on Wednesday, February 19 at 12:00 noon for lunch and a look at S-VHS Technology with Patrick Connolly from Burst Communications.

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Chapter 48's Next Meeting...

... will be held in Wednesday, February 19, 1997 with a starting time scheduled at 12:00 PM.

Meeting location will be in the cafeteria of the National Digital Television Center, locted at 4100 E. Dry Creek Road, Littleton, Colorado.

Mr. Pat Connolly from Burst Communications will be giving the group a look into the latest in SVHS video technology.

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Schedule of Upcoming Meetings and Events

Unless noted, all meetings will begin at 12:00 noon for lunch in the cafeteria of the National Digital Television Center at 4100 Dry Creek Road. Programs follow a bried business meeting.

Wednesday - February 19th - 12:00 noon - S-VHS Technology Patrick Connolly, Burst Communications

Wednesday - March 19th Acoustic Treatment Methods Steve Johnson, HP Marketing Dr. Peter DeAntonio, Accoustitools

Wednesday - April 16th (during NAB), luncheon only

Wednesday - May 21st New digital audio technology (Consoles & Routers) Rick Strage, RCS Inc. - Digital Console Division

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"Captain, We're Entering a Temporal Anomaly"

Eric Schultz - Chapter 48

With the new year, we are all reminded that the next century will soon be upon us. There is much folklore regarding the new millennium. But Michel de Nostredame himself did not foresee the fortunes that await the computer industry in the year 2000. In fact, many computer software and hardware designers can not predict the events that will take place at the turn of the century. The computer industry is not quite ready to come to grips with the next millennium. My computer is reluctant to face the year 2000. Is yours? You may want to perform this test at home:

Before starting, make sure all of your data is backed up. Now, by either using the Windows Control Panel or the DOS TIME and DATE commands, set your computer's clock to 23:58:00 1999. Next, exit Windows and turn off your computer. Wait three or four minutes and turn your computer back on. Use the DATE command again, or use the Windows CLOCK accessory. What date does your computer tell you? If your lucky, it's January 1st, 2000, just after Midnight. If you're like most PC users, you've just entered a time warp. My home PC woke up in the year 1984. The machine I use for work woke up in the year 1994. Interesting little bug, isn't it? It's about as interesting as six hundred billion dollars, the estimated cost to the computer industry for fixing this problem.

What causes this anomaly, known as the Year 2000 or Y2K bug to occur? The CMOS Real Time Clock (RTC) inside AT type PCs (286 though Pentium clones) keeps track of a two-digit number that represents the current year. When this number exceeds 99, it rolls over to 00. The result is a RTC with 1900-01-01 00:00:00. DOS, which calculates the date in terms of days since 1980-01-01, sees 1900-01-01 as invalid and, in most cases, determines that the date is 1980-01-01.

The RTC is not the only problem. Operating systems and application software will also exhibit Y2K bugs. Any software that uses only two digits to store the year will not be able to determine the new millennium.

There are other factors that compound the Y2K problem. To begin, January 1st, 1900 was a Monday. Some software programs use this fact to calculate the day of the week. January 1st, 2000 will be a Saturday. It may be a problem if your accounting software decided to conduct Friday's business on Wednesday.

Secondly, not all software is aware that the year 2000 is a leap year. There are three rules that determine which years are leap years. First, years divisible by four are leap years. Second, years divisible by one hundred are NOT leap years. Finally, years divisible by four hundred ARE leap years. Software that is not aware of the third rule will skip the last day in February.

A third compounding factor is that many systems store dates in six-digit form. For example, 671125 represents November 25th, 1967. Using this representation, it's easy to determine if a certain date has passed. However, does the date 001225 come before or after 760704? Your computer would probably guess that 001225 comes first.

What can you do to remedy the Y2K bug? Some computer manufacturers have Y2K- compliant BIOS upgrades available. There is also a free software patch called Year2000.exe, available at www.rightime.com, that can be used with DOS or Windows and will keep your system happy until the year 2049. These fixes will at least supply the correct date to the computer. As far as fixing any software that is not Y2K-compliant; that's probably going to involve a software upgrade.

If you decide to perform the test shown above, you may be surprised at the quirks you'll encounter if you try running software with a system clock set in the 1980's. If you think these quirks are minor, consider this: perhaps you work at a broadcast facility that utilizes traffic software, accounting and billing software or even playback automation software. Food for thought, isn't it? And keep in mind that problems associated with the year 2000 are not restricted to PC compatibles. The Y2K problem is something that you should address before it's too late.

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Get Ready For Las Vegas

SBE will once again be the co-presenter of the NAB Engineering Conference at the NAB Spring Convention. This will be the third year that SBE and NAB have worked together to plan the conference educational sessions. The NAB Spring Convention is the largest exhibition and conference for broadcasting professionals and those in related fields. The NAB Broadcast Engineering Conference is one of the many conferences held during the NAB Spring Convention, each specializing in a segment of the broadcasting and communications industries. Held in Las Vegas, the conference will be April 6- 10, with exhibits opening on Monday, April 7. Special pre-conference educational programs, including for the first time, Ennes Workshops, will be held on Saturday, April 5. Registration for the Conference will include admission to the Saturday Workshops. Again this year, current SBE Members will be able to register for the Las Vegas NAB Engineering Conference at NAB member rates, a savings of $300 or more. Registration and hotel information will be available di-rectly from NAB.

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RFR Rules Delayed by FCC

Chapter 28

Those new FCC RF exposure limits which were slated to go into effect on January 1st have been delayed until later this year. That means that broadcast stations will have some additional time to investigate how the changes will affect station operations and antenna site protection. In the meantime, the existing ANSI C95.1-1982 regulations remain in full effect for all broadcast stations.

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From Chapter 16

FCC -- Dennis Anderson reported that the FCC has a new public information line 888-CALL-FCC. This line will take the load off local offices.

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Chapter Organizes in Wyoming

The newest SBE chapter is also the first SBE chapter in Wyoming. Chapter 129 has thirteen members and has elected their offi-cers. They are: Chairman, Robert Connely, KCWC-TV, Riverton; Vice Chairman, Chris Heck, KUWR Radio, Laramie and Secretary/ Treasurer, Scott Barella, KTWO-TV, Casper. Roger Hicks of KGWC-TV, was appointed Frequency Coordinator and three members were appointed to the chapter Certification Committee. We welcome Chapter 129 and congratulate them on their start.

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Clay's Corner

Clay Freinwald - Chapter 16

In last month's edition I wrote about the growing crop of Pirate stations that are on the air on 87.9 mhz. Apparently the trend continues with even more Pirate activity taking place on the FM band. My sources tell me that the local FCC office knows a lot about this situation; let's hope that they will be given the Green light to give these folks the Red.

If you operate a Directional AM station or have C-band equipment WATCH OUT FOR PCS. This industry is about to hit our area with a frenzy of tower building to support their new systems. Remember, that just like cellular, it is the responsibility of these firms to make sure that they don't mess up your DA, and if they do, they have to fix it. Another thing to be aware of is the potential for interference from these new PCS sites on existing C-band equipment, there is a harmonic relationship.

Speaking of Sites, the FCC has a new one and this one has AUDIO. You will now be able to Hear what the FCC is saying.

We had a near miss at Cougar Mountain as the fuel company that keeps the tanks up there full was unable to make it up to the site due to the snow. A couple of FM stations there were very, very close to being off. Had the power remained off, a number of stations would have been off the air. Over at West Tiger that big Gen-Set ran for about 30 hours. Not near enough to set off a panic, but enough to want to replace the some 400 gallons of fuel used. To be sure this situation was a wake up call to many. Permit me to share some of the lessons learned:

1. Keep your tanks full at all times.
2. Know EXACTLY what your fuel consumption is.
3. Know EXACTLY how long you can operate your auxillary generator at full power.
4. Know EXACTLY how long you can run at reduced power, and be ready to use this mode.
5. Do not assume that you will be able to get fuel delivered when you need it.
6. Seriously look at installing a larger fuel tank.
7. Make sure that your auxillary generator is maintained on a regular basis by a trusted and knowledgeable firm. Make sure they check the coolant, oil, etc. as well as check for contamination in all liquids, including your fuel.
8. Exercising the generator once a week only proves that it started that time.

From the Business Trivia file...

If you think that NAB fills up Las Vegas, it's not even close in size to Comdex. This year some 225,000 turned out. All together there were 2,000 companies from 30 countries showing off over 10,000 new goodies.

Nagra for years has made a field portable tape recorder. It's interesting to note the Nagra completely bypassed the newer moveable media systems, Cassette, DAT, Floppy, MD, etc., and have gone directly from reel to reel to Flash Cards. Now you can carry (for a price) all your recordings in your wallet or pocket. The machine is not cheap, but it's the first time that I've seen flash card technology applied to field audio recording. A 24 Mb flash card will set you back about 850 bucks.

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DTV Creates Problems for Broadcasters

Roy Trumbull - Chapter 40, San Francisco

The allocation table for DTV has created quite a fuss. A rival table has been generated by the Broadcast Caucus. Both contain unattainable super powers for VHF channels which are intended to replicate their present coverage. The 8 VSB system creates signal peaks that are 7 dB higher than the average operating power. Antenna gains much above 30 tend to warm the clouds. The largest UHF transmitter is 280 KW. It must be derated by a factor of 5 to allow for the peaks mentioned above. That would be only 56 KW. Even with no transmission line loss with a gain of 30 antenna it would only give 1.68 megawatts. Yet some of the average powers in the allotment table run to 2, 3, 4, and 5 megawatts.

The power required to replicate coverage for an existing UHF station is 12 dB below their current NTSC peak power. There is concern that may drastically change must-carry status.

Another problem is that some stations are assigned an adjacent channel to operate on. Initially it was felt they could share a common antenna.The stations can't have overlapping signals without creating problems, yet we have no square filters. Using real world filters with skirts, a DTV below an NTSC would result in a portion of the NTSC vestigial sideband being clipped. A DTV above an NTSC would play mischief with the NTSC aural carrier.

There is the need to be frequency locked to adjacent channels especially when the lower channel is an NTSC channel. The pilot in the DTV signal will produce a rainbow stripe in the NTSC picture. Loran-C and GPS have been suggested.

Local stations, which may serve out to 80 or 100 miles, will find they're only able to cover from 37 to 55 miles when operating on UHF due to the nature of UHF propagation.

Anyone attempting to receive a DTV signal without an outdoor antenna and a lo- noise amplifier will probably get nothing. If there is any reception with set top antennas it will only be for the first 10 or 15 miles.

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Tom Weeden - WJ9H, Chapter 24

The 104th Congress has directed the FCC to put 30 MHz of microwave spectrum up for competitive auction. The directive was part of a massive appropriations act which was signed into law by President Clinton. The frequencies of 2305- 2320 and 2345-2360 MHz will be reallocated to so-called "wireless services." Amateur radio is currently allocated 5 MHz of the 30 about to be reallocated, at 2305-2310 MHz. Impact on amateur radio operations is not known yet. The spectrum is to be put up for bid no later than next April.

Amateur radio's most ambitious satellite project to date, "Phase 3D," has been tentatively scheduled for launch for mid-April 1997. The satellite will feature repeaters and linear translators from 21 MHz up to the microwave bands. It will also include onboard cameras and digital modems for experimentation. Phase 3D is a project of AMSAT, a non-profit corporation, which has budgeted about $4.5 million toward the construction and launch of the satellite. It will piggyback on an Ariane 502 rocket with other payloads.

(Excerpts from December 1996 "QST" Magazine)

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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)871-4204 email: ansmith@du.edu

Views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the official positions of the Society, its officers, or its members. We regret, but are not liable for, any omissions or errors. The Denver SBE 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 chapters are permitted to use excerpts if attributed to the original authors, sources, and/or the Denver SBE Newsletter.