The February Meeting
The Denver Chapters of SBE and SMPTE met up above the city lights and bustle for tours, talks and a barbecue dinner hosted by @Contact (http://www.contact-meo.com), just West of Sedalia, Colorado.
@Contact has a series of businesses including: a tower site home of LPTV Ch 67 and other teleport/transmission services; and a new building for additional transmission equipment and uplinking. @Contact originates a religious channel "Health & Healing" - carried by EchoStar on SkyAngel, and is provided via live streaming in both Real Real Player and Windows to the world at various bit rates. Likewise, they provide streaming on demand.
As interesting as all that is, Erwin Hudson stole the show. Mr. Hudson is the President of WildBlue, an alive and healthy start-up internet service provider via Ka satellite. Edwin covered the details of their system; getting around the LNB's DRO drift, modulation schemes to get around rain fade at Ka Band, spot beams, gateways, advanced IP spoofing, dynamic bi-directional bandwidth management and more.
Everyone was fascinated by the process that went into the design; the choice of chip sets; the use of DOCSIS technology for an unexpected purpose; and the manufacturing decisions made to produce what will certainly be an attractive internet access option. Wild Blue is slated for launch inside the year with the first of two birds.
Our hosts, David Jackson, Paul Garber, JD Simpson, Keith Lewis, David Drucker , Tom Ortolf etc., were more than gracious, and even offered a tower slot for a ham repeater. Not many meetings where as much was learned, the food was so good, the site so relaxing, and the hosts so accommodating. @Contact offers a lot of services that those of us in the broadcast businesses can use to help us achieve our goals.
EAS Rules Amended
By Leonard Charles
The FCC has released the long awaited Report and Order to amend Part 11 EAS rules. With this release comes the following changes in the way broadcasters and cable operators will comply with EAS rules:
To help EAS participants manage the financial consequences of these changes, the FCC will not require an immediate upgrade of existing EAS equipment. Rather, broadcast stations and cable systems will be permitted to upgrade their existing EAS equipment to add the new event and location codes on a voluntary basis until the equipment is replaced. All existing and new models of EAS equipment manufactured after August 1, 2003 will be required to be capable of receiving and transmitting the new codes. After February 1, 2004, broadcast stations and cable systems may not replace their existing EAS equipment with used equipment or older models of equipment that has not been upgraded to incorporate the new codes. In addition the FCC will not require recertification by manufacturers following modification of equipment to accommodate the changes of this Report and Order.
In their petition to change the EAS rules, the National Weather Service asked that all event codes be changed so that the third letter would be limited to one of four letters: "W" for warnings, "A" for watches, "E" for emergencies, and "S" for statements. This would make it easier, and thus cheaper, for consumer receivers to decode and react to messages based only on that letter. The FCC concurred but did not think the benefit of this change to existing codes would outweigh the risk of lost and confusing messages during the transition. They did agree, however, to adopt this format for all future event codes.
There will be 21 new event codes intended to aid in the dissemination of local and regional emergencies:
In addition to the new event codes, the FCC added new marine location codes suggested by NWS:
Further, the wording of the County subdivision code within the location code will be revised to drop the "central" from the North Central, West Central, East Central and South Central codes so that each of these codes simply states its root compass direction.
There were many requests by petitioners that did not make the cut. The FCC disagreed with and declined the following changes:
A Tribute to KOA
Yes... the brick building, on the corner of Colfax and Tower... I think they do road work out of there (Hwy Dept.), on the SE corner is the old KOA xmtr building.
I ventured out there yesterday (Saturday) and found that the old KOA transmitter building not only still exists, it has been designated as an historical site by the City of Aurora. The exterior has many indications of what this building once held. I have added much to my KOA tribute page. Please check it out at http://community.webtv.net/N0NNK/KOA850/
Now if I could only get that tour of the present KOA studio and transmitter facilities (hint hint).
Ennes Workshop Set For Saturday Of NAB Convention
A special broadcast networking tutorial will be the feature program for this year's Ennes Workshop during the NAB Broadcast Engineering Conference/NAB Spring Convention in Las Vegas. The Workshop will be presented on Saturday, April 6 in Room N261 of the Las Vegas Convention Center from 9:00 am to 2:15 pm. Following the Workshop, participants have the option of earning the SBE Certified Broadcast Networking Technologist (CBNT) certification by taking and passing an exam. The exam will be given at 2:30 pm in the same room. Participants will have up to three hours to complete the exam.
Terrence M. Baun, CPBE of Criterion Broadcast Services will be the workshop instructor. Baun is a past national president of SBE and past chairman of the SBE Certification Committee. The workshop will provide a thorough overview of the technologies and protocols involved in broadcast networking today. The subject matter is not software-specific and is designed to place special emphasis on the hardware and installation issues common to all network platforms as typically used in media support. Among the topics covered will be: Network topologies and layouts, common network protocols, wiring and connector types, system standards and installation practices, maintenance, troubleshooting and connectivity issues, challenges unique to media-based network platforms and an overview of digital compression technologies and related storage techniques. Moderating the Ennes Workshop will be Jerry C. Whitaker, CPBE.
Participants in the Workshop must be full NAB Convention registrants. To register for the convention, go to the NAB web site, www.nab.org. Members of SBE are eligible for the special NAB Partner registration rate, a savings of $230 off the non-member rate.
The Broadcast Networking Technologist Certification program is designed to demonstrate the certification holder's basic familiarity with network hardware and operations within the broadcast station environment. This type of certification helps bridge the gap between the role of "traditional" broadcast engineering and the increasingly important information technology and network hardware support. Pre-registration for the certification exam is required, though "walk-in" registration will be available. To pre-register for the CBNT exam, contact Linda Godby at email@example.com or (317) 846-9000.
The 2002 Consumer Electronics Show: A Broadcast Perspective - Part 2
From Chapter 24 - Madison
Last month we took a look at some observations from the January Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas as they related to television and video. This month we will explore the area of radio and receive antennas.
By far the most visible technology at CES was satellite radio. The two satellite radio players, XM and Sirius, made a point of making their presence known. XM had two large displays outside the convention center and Sirius had displays scattered throughout the lobby. Both XM (See FigureS 1 & 2) and Sirius had impressive exhibits along with celebrity guests lined up through the week . Both also broadcast live from the show (although Sirius was only available on the Internet at the time of the show).
Both Sirius and XM have exclusive agreements with different mobile radio manufacturers, and both displayed new offerings in this area. Although most of what was being shown were receive units that will allow satellite radio reception with your current car radio, there are numerous mobile radios becoming available with built-in satellite radio tuners. Even though the target market for satellite radio is in the mobile environment, radios are or will be available for in-home use. For XM, Sony has a plug and play model available that can be moved between the car and home stereo. Once the Sirius service is launched, Kenwood is planning to introduce a home-based system for their service.
XM was touting the fact that at the time of CES they had 30,000 subscribers since they launched service on November 12th of 2001. They pointed out that this makes satellite radio one of the fastest-selling consumer electronics products in history. Sirius launched service in Denver, Houston, Jackson and Phoenix back in February. Nationwide start-up is planned for August 1st of this year. This next year will be an interesting and telling one for the future of satellite radio. There has been talk that there may not be a large enough market for two satellite radio providers and rumors have circulated that Sirius could be bought out, possibly by XM. However, there were no signs of this at the show and Sirius appears ready to head out on their own.
IBOC DIGITAL RADIO
Just across from the XM Satellite Radio exhibit was another form of digital radio. iBiquity had an exhibit promoting their in-band on-channel (IBOC) digital radio technology. This technology allows an IBOC equipped radio station to broadcast a high-quality digital audio signal on the same frequency as their current analog broadcasts. For those receiving the digital signal on an IBOC receiver, FM audio is said to have "CD-like quality" and AM audio is comparable to current analog FM. Reception problems with current analog transmissions (such as multi-path on FM and noise on AM) are said to no longer be an issue with digital broadcasting. Current analog AM/FM service won't be affected by the IBOC digital service, so existing radios will not become obsolete until stations have converted over to all digital at a future date.
I had an opportunity to listen to audio through both an AM and FM IBOC system. Despite the less than ideal listening environment at the show, I could hear some sonic improvements between the analog and digital FM signal, but the real notable improvement is on the AM side. I'm not sure it sounded as good as current analog FM as has been said (again the listening environment was less than ideal), but it was certainly impressive with a much improved frequency response.
It appeared to me that the area of most interest to visitors to the iBiquity exhibit was the data services that will be possible with IBOC technology (see Figure 3). This tells me that the consumer industry sees this as one of the hot selling points of this technology. With advertising as one of the possible data services, broadcasters could find revenue potential with this service.
According to Scott Stull, Director of Broadcast Business Development for iBiquity, they plan to show broadcast equipment at NAB this year. Following NAB, iBiquity plans to go on the air in 11 test markets, including Chicago. Receivers should be ready to show next year at CES.
Antenna manufacturer Terk had an exhibit at CES displaying their line of innovative antennas. In addition to their array of indoor AM, FM and TV antennas, Terk has introduced two TV antennas said to be engineered for reception of HDTV broadcasts by using an impedance-matched amplifier calibrated for the requirements of DTV. The TV55 antenna has a design that allows it to be located virtually anywhere (Figure 4). It can be located indoors (on a windowsill for example) or can be mounted outdoors under the eaves of a roof, or as a rooftop antenna. It addresses the need for those living in apartments or condominiums that want or need more than a set of rabbit ears for off-air reception. The HDTV60 antenna is a compact antenna meant for rooftop mounting. As you can see from Figure 5, this antenna is nothing like the traditional yagi antenna we're all used to.
Jensen introduced a new indoor set-top antenna (the TV940) with an interesting concept. This antenna is motorized and comes with a remote control. This allows you to adjust the antenna from your sofa. Besides the convenience factor, it avoids the problems of adjusting a set of rabbit ears for a good receive signal only to have the signal degrade as soon as you take your hands off the antenna elements. In addition, once you find the optimum position for the antenna for a given channel, you can save the setting in the remote control so you don't have to adjust the antenna each time you tune to that station.
I have to admit that prior to my attending CES, as a broadcaster I had some reservations about how much I would get out of this show. However, I did find it beneficial to be able to observe the "consumer end" of our industry by seeing what is currently being offered to consumers and noting future trends. Attending this show also made me realize that it is important for those of us in the broadcast industry to be aware of the state of over-the-air broadcasting within the consumer electronics industry. For example from my observations at this year's show, there didn't appear to be much talk about receiving HD content over-the-air from a broadcast station. Instead it seemed most of the focus was on watching HD over DBS, cable or HD DVDs when they become available. As the broadcast industry experiences even greater competition from satellite and cable providers, it is going to become necessary for the broadcast industry to watch these trends.
FREQUENCY COORDINATION & OTHER STUFF
by Everett E. Helm W7EEH CPBE
Speaking of competition, a Federal court has vacated the broadcast cross-ownership rules, including the 35% audience cap. This could unleash a wave of mergers and acquisitions among television station-owners groups this year. The television networks and their parent conglomerates already are mapping out strategies to bolster their station holdings in anticipation of a relaxing or outright repeal of FCC rules that currently bar companies from owning stations that reach more than 35% of U.S. TV households. If the cap is eliminated, it could set off a wave of consolidation in the TV station business, and leave far fewer "Mom & Pop" broadcast companies a year from now. Comparatively tiny, often family-owned broadcasters might hold on to their independence on principle, but midsize firms will be under pressure to decide whether to buy or sell stations, get gobbled up by larger rivals, or risk sitting on the sidelines. Easing of FCC regulations has sparked other waves of consolidation, as with reforms of the 1996 Telecom Act, which eliminated rules limiting companies to owning no more than 12 stations and raised the limit on national audience reach to 35% from 25%.
The YXZ Report
By Kent Randles K7YXZ CBRE
LAST MONTH'S MEETING
Chuck Barrows K7BVT of Hillsboro's Magni Systems presented their new cost-effective Automated Video Monitor for NTSC, PAL, S-Video, and Component (EBU, Beta, M-II, GBR): the Magni AVM-510A-T. Its a rasterizing waveform monitor and vectorscope with 4-channel audio level metering and automated measurement screens. Its features include monitoring ICPM, differential phase and gain, waveform & vector monitoring, automated monitoring, and remote control. Its display outputs are provided in standard Composite and S-video, and in TIFF format through the RS- 232 port. Waveform monitors NEVER looked like this! See http://www.magnisystems.com/products/newproductindex.htm
FROM VICE CHAIR PHIL KANE:
Jim Higgins of the FCC's Columbia/Laurel operation pointed me to the following URL about the evolution of three-letter and four-letter broadcast call signs: http://www.ipass.net/~whitetho/3myst.htm.
Tne interesting thing that I learned was that the call letters KGOV are not available for assignment because they were assigned to the ill-fated vessel "Morro Castle" which burned and sank in a famous and well-reported disaster in 1934 and the call letters were never deleted from the FCC's ship register.
Former San Francisco Bay Area 3-letter assignments are prominently discussed. Do some of you remember that there was a four-day break in the assignment of KYA in recent times? Check it out - have fun.
Finally, this from the New Zealand Herald: "Telecom has ordered an investigation after a customer received an account charging him a 'penalty for being an arrogant bastard.'" Auckland businessman James Storrie discovered the $337.50 charge, printed under "product or service," when he opened his mobile phone bill on Monday. (Burt Weiner via Tech-Note #097)
From Madison Chapter 24
The FCC has started a pilot project to use LPTV stations for the transmission of data such as the Internet. These stations will operate under a waiver and not an experimental license. Twelve stations are specified to be included in the project, with Congress requiring that one of the stations and repeaters be located in Alaska. A number of stations that are eligible for the project are owned by Accelernet which currently operates a LPTV station in Houston that is providing one way data transmission.
The stations would operate with a digital signal that is 10% of its analog signal power, and may not exceed 15 KW ERP in digital in the UHF band and 300 W in the VHF band. Response stations cannot operate with more than 10 watts for a fixed station and 3 watts for a portable station. The stations are allowed to use repeaters for better coverage. The rules became effective on February 14, 2002 and the notice was published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on March 4, 2002, pages 9617-9621.
From the FEDERAL REGISTER (www.access.gpo.gov)
Ownership Limits Fall
By Tom Smith
A court of appeals has voided two FCC rules concerning ownership limits of TV stations and cable systems. They completely overturned the TV-cable cross ownership rule. This rule forbid the ownership of both a TV station and a cable system in the same market. With this ruling, it is now allowable to own both in the same market. Some are already looking for more media mergers, with the possibility of cable giant AOL-Time Warner buying stations affiliated with it's WB Network. AOL-Time Warner already owns cable systems in most of the major markets, but has been unable to purchase stations in those markets to anchor it's broadcast network.
The court also ruled that the 35% ownership cap for TV stations was arbitrary and required the FCC to justify the limit. The ownership cap says that the number of homes in all the markets where a group owns TV stations cannot exceed 35% of the total homes in the nation. The FCC is expected to allow broadcast groups to increase the percentage of homes reached.
From The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, and Broadcasting And Cable.
Amateur Radio News
By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
Wisconsin Section Manager Don Michalski, W9IXG, is calling on amateurs in his section to urge Governor Scott McCallum to sign AB368, the Amateur Radio FCC PRB-1 Amateur Radio Antenna Protection Act. Michalski said McCallum's recent comments on emergency preparedness and public safety offer an opportunity to remind the governor that amateurs "are in concert with the governor's efforts to back our emergency services, and that we amateurs provide a valuable, free service" in supporting emergency response efforts. Once the measure reaches the governor's desk, he'll have until the end of April to sign the legislation.
The FCC has redesigned its Amateur Radio Service Web site and changed the URL to http://wireless.fcc.gov/services/amateur/. The new layout makes it easier to find information on topics most requested by amateurs, including licensing, amateur exams, filing an application, changing an address or using the Universal Licensing System (ULS). The refurbished site also provides links to recent amateur radio-related news from the FCC. "The new design is a part of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau's continuing effort to meet the needs of the Amateur Radio Service operators as identified in focus groups, letters, phone calls, and e-mails," the FCC said in a news release. The site, launched on February 20, includes a search engine for the entire FCC Web site http://www.fcc.gov.
The Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance-WECA, an industry coalition-has petitioned the FCC for additional 5-GHz spectrum to make more room for radio local area network (RLAN) systems and other unlicensed Part 15 devices. The FCC put the WECA petition on public notice in late January, not long after it was filed. WECA seeks to extend the available spectrum to include 5.470 to 5.725 GHz. The Amateur Service now shares 5.650 to 5.925 GHz on a secondary basis with government and non-government radars and non-government fixed satellite uplinks. In 1997, the FCC allocated 5.150 to 5.350 GHz and 5.725 to 5.825 GHz for so-called Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) wireless local area network devices.
(Excerpts from "The ARRL Letter" and the web site www.arrl.org)
5th Edition Of Tv Operators Handbook, Certification Practice Tests Now Available
The new 5th edition of the SBE TV Operator Handbook, by Frederick Baumgartner and Douglas Garlinger is now available from the SBE National Office. Also, updated SBE Practice Test computer discs, used to prepare for the SBE Certification Exams are now available. To order either item, call the SBE National Office at (317) 846-9000 or e-mail Linda Godby at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sun To Shine On SBE Membership Drive
The SBE Membership Committee has rolled out the 2002 Membership Drive with increased incentives for each member participating. The Drive began on March 1 and continues through May 31. The Grand Prize will be a trip for one to the SBE National Meeting in sunny Phoenix this fall AND a Panasonic TV, compliments of SBE and Panasonic! 1st prize is an entertainment package that consists of an RCA 27" Stereo Monitor-Receiver TV, compliments of Thomson Multimedia Broadcast & Network Solutions, a DVD Player, compliments of Acrodyne and a Freeplay, Freepower Radio, compliments of Broadcast Richardson. Other great prizes will be awarded and all recruiters will receive $5 off their 2002 SBE membership renewal for each new member they recruit, up to $25. Full details on the Membership Drive were mailed to each SBE member in February.
Salt Lake 2002: From Outside The Outside Fence
By Neal McLain, CSBE
Our esteemed Newsletter editor, Mike Norton, has asked me to write a story about media facilities at the 2002 Olympic Games here in Utah. Since I don't have any official connection with the Olympics or with any media organization, I don't have any insider information to report. But I did attend a brief tour of the media facilities with our local SBE Chapter, and I had a few encounters with the security guys. So here's a report from outside the outside fence.
Chapter 62 normally holds its meetings at noon on the first Friday of each month, at the Wyndham Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City. The January meeting included a tour of the Olympics Main Media Center (MMC), located in the Salt Palace Convention Center, which the Salt Lake Organizing Committee had taken over for administrative offices, security operations, and media facilities. According to the meeting announcement, we were to meet at the hotel for lunch, then walk to the Convention Center for a 45-minute tour.
For security reasons, we were told that we had to enter the Convention Center at the south entrance. Even though the Wyndham Hotel and the Convention Center are both in the same city block, this was still quite a hike -- about half a mile:
So off we went, about 75 of us -- far more people than normally attend Chapter 62 meetings. As we passed Abravanel Hall (home of the Utah Symphony), I noticed a big construction platform in the courtyard. More about this later.
We soon discovered that the entire Convention Center was surrounded by two chain-link fences:
Once we got inside the building, we had to sign in with security guards, leave our drivers' licenses, and get visitor badges. By the time we all got through security, half of the allotted 45 minutes was already gone, so it was a very quick tour.
The MMC includes offices for official-sponsor media personnel, a television production facility, and a big bullpen area for non-official-sponsor media personnel. Everything was still under construction, but it was interesting nevertheless.
The official-sponsor offices looked like plain old generic office space: beige drywall walls and hollow-core doors. Except that there were no ceilings: just free-standing walls with an open view to the roof of the convention center, maybe 50 feet overhead.
The television production facilities were still under construction, so we had to peek through a window. We were told that it would be the largest television production facility in the world, larger than No. 1 (NBC New York) and No. 2 (CNN Atlanta) combined. But all I could see was a bunch of guys pulling cables through racks.
The non-sponsor bullpen turned out to be the most interesting thing we saw. There were a couple hundred workstations arranged around huge TV screens. Each workstation was fitted with a Gateway PC, a telephone, and an internet connection. We were told that reporters could use the PCs to access all sorts of information about athletes, athletes' home countries, Olympic venues, Olympics history, Utah, Salt Lake City, the LDS Church, even local restaurants. At the time of our visit, most of the PCs were still in boxes, but even that was an impressive sight: an entire wall of black-and-white Holstein spots.
Unfortunately, no cameras were permitted inside the building, so the only photos I could take were outside.
I tried to visit the Convention Center after the Olympics were officially under way, but I couldn't get near it. The entire place was surrounded by police arrayed along the outside fence.
I also tried to check out the University of Utah Stadium, where the opening and closing ceremonies took place. Again, I had to stay outside the outside fence because of all the security guys. But I did manage to get a couple of pictures:
After the Olympics ended, security measures seemed to evaporate. The day after the closing ceremony, I drove by the Ogden Ice Sheet (the curling venue) to see what was going on. Construction trucks were everywhere, taking down signs, dismantling fences, hauling concrete barriers. There were several police cars around, but they didn't seem to care about what I was doing. While I was parked illegally to take the picture shown below, two cops drove by. They gave me a blank look and kept on driving.
And finally, a cultural note: once that big construction platform was cleared away from the Abravanel Hall courtyard, a gigantic glass sculpture appeared. It should look familiar to Chapter 24 members: the artist was Dale Chihuly, the same artist who created the glass installation at the Kohl Center in Madison
Certificaton Exam Session Dates Announced For 2002
The SBE National Certification Committee has announced exam session dates for 2002. 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 Linda Godby, Certification Director at the SBE National Office at (317) 846-9000 or email@example.com.
Website of the Month
From Kansas City Chapter #3
Here's a very neat web site that has information about radio and TV stations from across the nation. It is very accurate and may be a useful tool to other broadcasters." The URL for the site is: www.100000watts.com.
Featuring News, Rumors and Views
March is here, can spring be close behind? As I look back at the past couple of months winter has certainly been around these parts in full form... at least at West Tiger Mt. where access has been extremely limited many times. Snowmobiles, Snow-cats and Snow Shoes have been the order of the day. Terry Spring posted a note on the West Tiger Remailer stating that he was only able to drive about 2 miles up the road... he snow-shoed the remaining 5 miles to the site (and back) . Guess Terry is in shape!! Arne Skoog (Infinity) reported that a big chunk of frozen stuff fell off one of the ATC towers and smashed an ice shield and that smashed one of infinity's STL antennas shearing off the coax on the back of the dish. Ice chunks raining from the big towers damaged many of the ice-shields, the things that are supposed to prevent damage to the dishes... other falling frozen stuff damaged the heat exchanger of the Daystar TV transmitter; that station, off the air, caused AT&T Cable to put up a message that the station would be back ASAP... the kind of fun stuff that low-landers miss out on. The Weather seers are now talking about El Niņo again... we will see.
Changes are taking place in Port Angeles as Salem Communications is buying one of the two AMs in that town. The station, on 1290, will be running the same programming at KKOL in Seattle. I learned this in talking with one of the Salem Engineers that called me the other day asking about how this impacts their EAS requirements. This is likely to be a temporary situation cause if you check out FCC file # BP20011130AAS, you will find that KKOL has applied for a new transmitter site that will have 4 towers, 3 for daytime and 4 for night and the former 5kW operation will be 50 kW full time (DA-2) it could be that the Port Angeles operation might have to 'go away' if the new 1300 operation needs the additional space to the north. I gotta think that they will find that even with 50 kW 1300 will not put much of a signal into P.A.... perhaps 1290 will continue? This would not be the first time, nor the last, that a station has been purchased by an owner so they could improve the signal of another. A couple of years ago a Midwest station was purchased and its power reduced so a major East Coast market station (owned by the same party) could increase power. The number of AM 'upgrades' in this market is interesting. KJR has gone from 5 to 50 kW, KOL (Now KKOL) as well as KRKO may well end up 50 kW as well. Who would have ever thought we'd have so many 50 kW AM's in this market? When all this is said and done the 50kW list will look like this: 710-770-820-880-950-1000-1090-1300 and 1380.... Yep, NINE of them!
Meanwhile - Was the move of KJR to Tacoma and the big investment in that new diplexed 850/950 AM plant a mistake? You have to wonder. Apparently some are none too happy with the performance of the 950 Signal. Guess the fact that KJR has applied to the FCC for permission to Diplex the 820 array on Vashon Island kinda tells the story. From the FCC data base, this looks like KJR will operate with 50kW DA-2. Let's see now... KJR built a new site up the Duwamish that they did not use... then moved to Tacoma... and now are looking to move to Vashon? I wonder if Harris has a 'caster option' for their DX50 transmitters? If indeed they do move to Vashon, this would give the island the distinction of having two diplexed 50kW arrays when you include the existing 770/1090 system... and about six 50kW AMs.
From the amount of money being spent on AM's around here it makes a pretty good argument that AM is NOT dead!
We all know that there are more cellphones in use now than ever, right? Consider these stats - in 1990 there were about 5 million subscribers, in 2000 that number increased to 110 million. Makes a nice graph!
On the subject of cell phones.... Motorola has come out with a low tech solution that deserves more than a snicker... perhaps a serious look. It's a WIND-UP charger for cell phones. Consider this.... In this day and age of emergency preparedness, we have been advised that the 'freeplay' windup radio is a good idea to have at home... (no-run-down-batteries-when-you-need-them problem), then there is the wind up flashlight (for the same reasons); in this context the idea has merit. This just might be a good addition to the emergency collection, at home or at the transmitter.
The FCC has an idea that would involve allowing unlicensed transient RF identification devices between 425 and 435 MHz. The ARRL, the organization of Amateur Radio operators is vowing to 'go to the mat' with the FCC over this idea. This is with the very popular 70 cm band.
Another item involving Amateur Radio caught my eye. A fellow in Michigan has proclaimed that his efforts at resolving an interference complaint are at an impasse. The gizmo that's getting nailed by the transmission from the Ham Station is one of those 'touch-lamps'. Apparently the FCC field office in Detroit is attempting to work the problem. I can relate to this one. My wife found one of those at a garage sale a few years ago. She thought it was cute until I turned on one of my several transmitters. We shortly found out that just about any radio transmission, even from the car in the driveway, would turn the thing on and off. Thankfully I won, and the lamp is gone.
What's in a name.... I love the unique names that I have encountered in this business... Bill Watt (you remember Bill) Ben Ringer of the Forks telephone company, etc. More recently I learned that we have a relatively new member of SBE. She works for Fisher here in Seattle and has a wonderful name... should be working with RF and antennas, etc. Kathleen Morgain. Great name!
The FCC, not wanting to leave well enough alone, has shuffled the deck again. This time the Cable Bureau and the Mass Media Bureau have become the Media Bureau, the new division is now handling Radio, TV and Cable. Other changes back there include the naming of Edmond Thomas to be Chief of the OET.
CRL which a while back purchased Orban has now purchased another firm, this time Dialog4 System Engineering, a German firm that makes things for Satellite transmission, networking and storage productions.
Also on the business side, Moseley has purchased Adaptive Broadband Corporation which makes point to multipoint equipment.
The FCC (SURPRISE) has a new form 337. Application for extension of time to construct a DTV station. Now why in the world would anyone want to delay getting their DTV station on the air???? Hmmmm.
Things are moving ahead with DTV on Capital Hill with Channel 22's UHF version under construction. It won't be long before we will have DOUBLE the number of TV transmitters operating in Seattle. Back in the days when RF was in the press and a source of protests and nasty-grams we would have NEVER thought that this would come to pass..... guess that time DOES heal wounds.
Yet another study on the health effects of RF. This time from the Health Council of the Netherlands. The Dutch have concluded... "The electromagnetic field of a mobile telephone does not constitute a health hazard, according to the present state of scientific knowledge, therefore, there are no reasons for a revision of the exposure limits." They added, however, that fields emitted by mobile phones can cause interference in electronic equipment and that if this is medical equipment there could be a problem and recommended that phones should not be used near this equipment. This report, dated Jan 28th, is certain to do nothing to discourage those that are convinced that NIER is just another expression for 'death ray'.
ATM (not the banking type) is being recommended by the AES for use in delivering audio across local and wide area networks and are drawing up standards for it. For more information checkout - www.aes.org/standards/ . The FCC has been keeping up their FINE work. KYCX in Mexia, Texas was fined $3000 for failing to register its tower. You'd think that they would have heard about this process by now. And if you think that this was a biggie... The Commish has fined Alaska's Peninsula Communications $140,000 for apparent translator violations and is moving toward revoking all their broadcast licenses. That's pretty heavy. On the other side of the FCC's ledger, the President has submitted to Congress a proposal for a 13.5% increase over the previous year. Some of this is related to homeland security issues. I should tell you that the FCC has also stopped accepting applications for the expanded AM Band, only pending applications will be processed. If you want more info on some of this FCC stuff, check the Commission's Web Site.
The FCC did NOT get their way recently as the DC Court of Appeals held that the FCC's ban on letting former pirate radio operators hold LPFM licenses was un-constitutional. The court noted that the FCC did not bar these folks from holding other kinds of licenses and that the ban did not address other types of conduct... so.... The Commish lost.
The magazine Auto World has named XM Satellite Radio as one of the best new car options for 2002. I have not heard it, but there are plenty of user reports out there that appear to all say pretty much the same thing... it works great. It's going to be very interesting to see how well the Sirius system works with its flying birds and how well the two firms will do against each other. Many have predicted that one will shortly buy out the other... only time will tell. Meanwhile, to me, the business side of this looks very similar to early-day Cellular. Spend lots of money, make no money. Ever wonder how some businesses can operate on that model while others cannot?
A recently launched Amateur Radio satellite made the local print media. With pretty much off-the-shelf parts the overhead packet repeater was the 44th Amateur bird to fly. A lot of attention has been paid to the type of antennas used. They needed something that would automatically 'deploy' when launched. The solution was found, reportedly, at Home Depot. A metal TAPE MEASURE. Amateurs have always prided themselves in the use of innovative antennas. I can recall many non-conventional antennas being used with great delight. Back in the old days, before the inter-spring mattress, many a ham would 'load up' bed springs and talk to a distant country.... so why not a tape measure?
Anyone around here replaced their tower LAMPS with LEDs? I am noticing an increasing number of the new gizmos out there. In South King County, at the site of the new Valley Comm facility, the new tower there is using LEDs at night. The thing that you notice is that there is no decay time... when they go off, they go OFF.
Recently a station in Roswell, New Mexico,. had their facility broken into and a number of items stolen. But in a place with the reputation of Roswell ya gotta think that E.T. simply needed some more parts for his return trip. I heard of one station that found a way to cure the stolen/walked away equipment issue. They installed special rack screws that required a hard to find special tool to remove. Their problem was resolved....
As usual I want to leave you with something that will expand your mental resources... this one, a story that's been around, comes from the University of Copenhagen and concerns a question on a physics degree exam. The question: Describe how to determine the height of a building with a barometer.
One student (who no doubt deserved an A) responded with the following: You tie a long piece of string to the neck of the barometer then lower the barometer from the roof of the building to the ground. The length of the string, plus the length of the barometer is equal to the height.
The examiner was not amused, so the student was called in and given a verbal exam with 6 minutes to explain that he understood the principles of physics involved, the student sat and pondered his response... and then responded as follows:
1. You take the barometer up to the roof of the building, drop it over the edge, and measure the time it takes to reach the ground. The height of the building can then be determined from the formula H=1/2gt2... but this is bad for the barometer.
2. If the sun is shining, you could measure the height of the barometer, then set it on end and measure the length of its shadow. Then you measure the length of the building's shadow, and thereafter it's a simple matter of proportional math to work out the height.
3. Or, you could tie a short piece of string to the barometer and swing it like a pendulum, first at ground level and then at roof level. The height is worked out by the difference in the gravitational restoring force (he gave the formula).
4. Or, if the building has an outside emergency staircase, it would be easier to walk up it and mark off the height of the building in barometer lengths, then add them up.
5. Or, if you merely wanted to be boring and orthodox about it, you could use the barometer to measure the air pressure in millibars on the roof and on the ground and convert the difference into feet to give the height of the building.
6. BUT - likely the best way would be to knock on the building superintendent's door, tell him that you will give him a nice new barometer if he will tell you the height of the building.
The student's name? Neils Bohr, the only Dane to win the Nobel Prize for Physics.
I don't know about you, but for a while I was starting to feel guilty about causing the 'deer in the headlights' expressions with folks that ask me simple questions... but on second thought... I now feel a whole lot better. How about you?
See ya next month between the Yellow Sheets, or on your computer screen. Keep those cards and letters and emails comin' my way.
Clay Freinwald, K7CR, CPBE
The above comments and opinions are those of Clay Freinwald. They are not the opinion of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, Inc., or Seattle Chapter 16, Inc.
The End User
Score one for the privacy advocates! Last month, Comcast backed down from its policy of tracking the Web browsing of customers connected to its cable broadband network. The company said that "the tracking of each Web page a subscriber visits was part of a technology overhaul designed to save money and improve the speed of cable Internet service to its customers and was not intended to infringe on privacy". However, Comcast rescinded the tracking after a huge outcry from its users and an inquiry from an aggressive privacy-advocate Congressman.
Although Comcast doesn't provide service in the Pacific Northwest, it does bring to light a very important point: Be sure you understand the Terms Of Service or Acceptable Use Policy for any products you subscribe to, and keep up-to-date with all changes that are made to these policies. Comcast began its user tracking after making changes to its TOS, and also banned access to VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) on its "residential" service (forcing users to upgrade to "business-class" service at a higher cost). When a company changes its TOS, usually there's an "implied acceptance" clause in the agreement - which may be worded as follows: "Your continued use of the Service constitutes acceptance of these terms". So if you don't keep current with TOS changes, you may be agreeing to something that is not acceptable to you. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of recourse if changes to a service provider's TOS are not to your liking - other than terminating that service.
Computer memory prices have been heading back up - about a 50% increase in the last three months - and are expected to further increase later this year. The increases are being blamed on memory industry consolidation and stronger-than-expected PC sales this past holiday season. Despite the increases, memory is still a whole lot cheaper than it was two years ago - but if you're considering adding more memory to your computer, now's the time to make the move.
And here's a tip on buying memory: Don't buy it online - because online merchants can adjust their prices faster than the brick-and mortar stores, who plan ads as much as two months in advance. Speaking of B&M stores - be sure to check the office-supply chains if you're looking for memory. They often have better deals (and rebates) than the computer or electronics stores. I just purchased a 256Mb PC133 SDRAM DIMM from one of the office supply chains for $20, after rebates - that's almost one-third of the current price at an online store.
It looks like this will be the year that USB 2.0 makes it to the mainstream. Microsoft has released an USB 2.0 support update for Windows XP, and it's expected that USB 2.0 ports will be standard-equipment on new computers by the end of the year. USB 2.0 has a bus speed of 480Mbps (compared to 12Mbps for USB 1.1), and is backward compatible with older USB hardware. USB 2.0 will greatly benefit high-bandwidth devices like CD recorders and video hardware, but don't look for USB 2.0 to replace IEEE 1394 (Firewire) - the DV camp has pretty much embraced Firewire as their standard.
The Consumer Electronics Show (held in Las Vegas this past January) saw the debut of several PC-enabled home-entertainment devices - the most notable (and "Best of Show" award winner) being the Moxi Media Center. Moxi is an all-in-one cable/DSL modem, broadband router, cable/DBS receiver, DVD player, personal video recorder and digital jukebox. Wow! That's a lot of product packed into one box! You can read more on the Moxi at http://www.moxi.com. CES saw Microsoft debuting its "Mira" technology - it's their code name for "Windows CE .net-Based Smart Display Device Technology". According to Microsoft, "'Mira' will do for the PC what the cordless handset did for the home telephone". Get the details on Mira at: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/embedded/default.asp.
That's it for this month. Please feel free to send your comments and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. All the best to you!
The above comments and opinions are those of Rich Petschke.They are not the opinion of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, Inc., or Seattle Chapter 16, Inc.
by Emilio Farquahr
Some of you may not be aware of the significant controversy that has raged throughout the electronics industry and the halls of academia for the last three centuries or so. The seemingly simple issue: which way does current flow?
Electronics, as the name implies, is the science - and indeed the art - of controlling and enabling electrons to do useful things. And for most of us dealing in such things (and perhaps having only a modest education), we know that current (electrons) travels from the negative terminal of a source, through a circuit, and then back into the positive terminal.
Now, if you had spent a little more on your education and matriculated at some august engineering school, you would have learned that current flow is just the opposite - it flows from positive to negative! What...? How can electronics exist today in such an advanced and sophisticated state and yet have such a widespread disagreement on such a fundamental principle?
In a March, 1747 letter to Peter Collinson, a British merchant, Benjaman Franklin detailed results of several static electricity experiments he had conducted. He correctly concluded from these experiments that some portions of his apparatus were positively charged while others were negatively charged. But then he made a tragic assumption when he stated "...the machine and man were electrified minus, i.e., had less electrical fire in them than things in common." Well, those guys talked kinda funny in those days but what Franklin concluded was that "electrical fire" (current) flowed from positive to negative. This is known today as conventional current flow. It's backwards, it's wrong, and it's stupid, but you can't get a BSEE without agreeing with it. The rest of us get along very nicely, thank you, analyzing circuits by electron flow.
This does get one thinking about other "current" imponderables. If AC (alternating current) changes direction every half cycle, how can it get anywhere and how can it get anything done? Similarly, what about current flow -in transistors? We've been introduced to the concept of minority and majority carriers; electrons can flow in one direction and, when they do, they leave holes - which travel in the opposite direction. I guess all of that made sense until we were told that holes travel much slower than electrons. Now I'm really confused.
But back to Ben: he was a scholar, inventor, artist and statesman but he really screwed things up with his current flow theory. I suspect he flew one too many kites. We might find a clue in this: Franklin lobbied diligently throughout his life to make the turkey our national bird!
(Emilio Fahrquahr, is a pseudonym for a respected Broadcast Engineer in a major metro area. His opinions do not necessarily represent those of SBE Chapter 124, nor any of it's officers.)
Subject: Interesting points
Ever wonder about those people who spend $2.00 apiece on those little bottles of Evian water? Try spelling Evian backwards. NAIVE
If 4 out of 5 people SUFFER from diarrhea ... does that mean that One enjoys it?
Why do we say something is out of whack? What's a whack?
If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?
If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn't it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked, and dry cleaners depressed?
Why do they put pictures of criminals up in the Post Office? What are we supposed to do, write to them? Why don't they just put their pictures on the postage stamps so the mailmen can look for them while they deliver the mail?
If it's true that we are here to help others, then what exactly are the others here for?
POLICE # 1
While taking a routine vandalism report at an elementary school, I was interrupted by a little girl about six years old. Looking up and down at my uniform, she asked, "Are you a cop?" "Yes," I answered and continued writing the report. "My mother said if I ever needed help I should ask the police. Is that right?" "Yes, that's right," I told her. "Well, then," she said as she extended her foot toward me, "would you please tie my shoe?"
POLICE # 2
It was the end of the day when I parked my police van in front of the station. As I gathered my equipment, my K-9 partner, Jake, was barking, and I saw a little boy staring in at me. "Is that a dog you got back there?" he asked. "It sure is," I replied. Puzzled, the boy looked at me and then towards the back of the van. Finally he said, "What'd he do?"
A little girl was watching her parents dress for a party. When she saw her dad donning his tuxedo, she warned, "Daddy, you shouldn't wear that suit." "And why not, darling?" "You know that it always gives you a headache next morning."
A little girl had just finished her first week of school. "I'm just wasting my time," she said to her mother. "I can't read, I can't write - and they won't let me talk!"
A little boy opened the big family bible. He was fascinated as he fingered through the old pages. Suddenly, something fell out of the Bible. He picked up the object and looked at it. What he saw was an old leaf that had been pressed in between the pages. "Mama, look what I found", the boy called out. "What have you got there, dear"? With astonishment in the young boy's voice, he answered, "I think it's Adam's underwear!"
Here are some actual label instructions on consumer goods.
* On a Sears hairdryer: Do not use while sleeping. (and that's the only time I have to work on my hair.)
* On a bag of Fritos: You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside.
* On a bar of Dial soap: "Directions: Use like regular soap." (and that would be how???.)
* On some Swanson frozen dinners: "Serving suggestion: Defrost." (but, it's "just" a suggestion.)
* On Tesco's Tiramisu dessert (printed on bottom): "Do not turn upside down." (well.duh, a bit late, huh!)
* On Marks & Spencer Bread Pudding: "Product will be hot after heating."
* On Boot's Children Cough Medicine: "Do not drive a car or operate machinery after taking this medication." (We could do a lot to reduce the rate of construction accidents if we could just get those 5-year-olds with head-colds off those forklifts.)
* On Nytol Sleep Aid: "Warning: May cause drowsiness." (and. I'm taking this because???)
* On most brands of Christmas lights: "For indoor or outdoor use only." (as opposed to... what?)
Garneth M. Harris
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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/or the Denver SBE/SMPTE Newsletter.