FCC Goes After Kit Manufacturer
By Tom Smith
The FCC has issued a Notice of Apparent Liability For Forfeiture against electronic kit manufacturer Ramsey Electronics Inc. for the manufacture and sale of unauthorized FM broadcast transmitters and RF amplifiers in the United States. Ramsey is a long time manufacturer and marketer of electronic kits. Their ads are normally found in the electronic hobby magazines.
The FCC obtained information that Ramsey was offering for sale FM broadcast equipment. They then obtained a copy of their catalog and searched their website (www.ramseyelectronics.com) and found that Ramsey did indeed offer equipment to broadcast on the FM Band. The FCC then checked their equipment certification database and found that the items in question were not listed as certified. The FCC requires all equipment for FM transmission along with all other transmission equipment, including RF power amplifiers, to be certified with the FCC so that they meet the FCC rules concerning RF emission standards to prevent in and out of band interference.
The FCC sent a letter to Ramsey asking if they did indeed manufacture and sell the units in question. They replied that they did. The units in question and the number sold are FM transmitter FM35LT (254 made, 101 sold), FM transmitter FM100BWT (1,457 made, 1,441 sold), amplifier LPA1WT (358 made, 343 sold) and PA100 (145 made, 131 sold). Both FM transmitters operate with up to one-watt output, the LPA1WT operates with one watt out over a bandwidth of 300 KHz to 1,000 MHz and the PA100 operates with 2-100 watts out in the FM band.
Ramsey claimed that they did not need certification because the units were for export and they required that the purchaser sign a form before the equipment is shipped, to state that they are for export. Ramsey stated in the form that the units exceed power limits allowed in the United States for such equipment and may exceed power levels for its use in other nations. The form also stated that the user would certify that they would operate the units in accordance with the laws of the nation that the equipment would operate in.
The FCC ruled that because Ramsey did in fact sell the FM transmitters to persons in the United States and not in direct export, the FM transmitter did need to be certified. In the case of the amplifiers, the FCC requires all RF amplifiers that operate on frequencies under 144 MHz to be certified. In the case of the LPA1WT, it had a second issue against it. It is illegal to make or sell an RF amplifier in the 24-35 MHz band. This was to prevent the use of linear amplifiers for CB radios.
The FCC issued the Notice of Forfeiture for the amount of $7,000, which is the base amount for each of the questioned items for a total $28,000. Because of Ramsey's history of overall compliance the total was reduced to $25,000.
The FCC took this action on January 23, 2006 and released it on January 25th. This action could be considered another step in the FCC's enforcement against FM pirate broadcasters along with the FCCs regular shutting down of pirate stations.
From FCC Release (www.fcc.gov)
Random Radio Thoughts
And speaking of exams, I've signed up for the Directional Antenna Specialist certification exam at the NAB test session. It seems to me that I should have that certification. It will be a real embarrassment if I bomb the test! If that happens, I'm not going to tell anyone!
Conversions Here at CBC, we are on an aggressive track to convert our remaining stations for HD Radio nationwide. We already have all our FM stations done, and now we're left with the AMs. We really intend to get those all done by the end of the summer. So far, things are more or less on schedule, but some things are taking longer than we expected. Several factors have contributed to this, and I share these with you to assist in your own planning.
AM HD Radio exciters are deep. By that I mean that if you intend to put them into a standard equipment rack with 18-inch depth, you're going to have to remove the back door and let things hang out. But that doesn't look very good and it certainly falls outside the definition of "good engineering practice," so we have made step-one in our conversion process replacement of the transmitter site equipment racks with new 32-inch deep Middle Atlantic racks, complete with rear rails. These deep racks and rear rails also work great for the rack-mount UPS units that we have been installing at the transmitter sites to keep the digital exciter, processor and all running.
There has been a good bit of press on the requirements that HD Radio puts on AM antenna systems. From what we have experienced so far, I'm not at all sure we have completely grasped what is required, what will work and what won't. But clearly, the better the load, the lower the VSWR at the sideband frequencies (out to 15 kHz) and the better the symmetry, the better the digital system will perform.
Another important factor - perhaps more important than absolute VSWR values - is the shape and orientation of the impedance plot. The proper shape is the classic "U" or "horseshoe." As for the orientation? Well, that's a different matter entirely. You'll have to check with your transmitter manufacturer to find out, and chances are, they don't know. What they do usually know is what the orientation should be at the power amplifier output. For our Nautel ND- and XL-series transmitters, we have had to measure the phase shift through the combiner and output filter using a pair of 100X probes and an oscilloscope. With that information in hand, we can translate it into what the orientation should be at the transmitter output. In some cases, the load is close enough to optimum to begin with; in other cases, we have to either modify the input tee network in the phasor or ND ATU or else add a "line stretcher" network between transmitter and phasor.
If the 15 kHz VSWR is 1.2:1 or below and reasonably symmetrical, it doesn't seem to matter what the shape and orientation of the plot are. And in at least one case, we had a diplexer input that plotted as a diagonal line with no curve to speak of. That system seems to work just fine in the digital mode.
In the case of directional arrays, it may be necessary to check and adjust the line match at each of the antenna tuning unit inputs. Mismatches there produce all sorts of unwanted reactances back at the phasor which are often translated into really lousy impedance and pattern bandwidths.
The bottom line is that all this takes awhile, but you can get a leg up if you plan early for your rack space, replacing shallow racks before the HD Radio project starts, and you can deal with antenna issues long before the digital exciter arrives. With those issues taken care of, the rest, really, is a snap.
The Next Generation Do you ever wonder where the next generation of radio broadcast engineers will come from? Our ranks are increasingly populated with gray-haired folks like me with very few young up-and-comers looking over our shoulders. That is a real contrast to the days when I got into the business. It seems that in those days there were always several young people hanging around the local station and watching the grizzled old CE's every move with awe and wonder.
Those of you who get Radio World and saw the February 15 issue might have noticed the attractive young lady on the front cover, FIM in one hand and GPS unit in the other. That young lady is my daughter, Amanda, and she is moving into the engineering department at CBC-Denver. She's finished her AA program and is now going through the CIE Broadcast Engineering course, as far as I know one of the last dedicated broadcast engineering programs available in the nation. I'm very proud of her and hope that she finds as much personal satisfaction in this business as I have.
As for the rest of you, let me encourage you to look for a young person to introduce to our business and mentor. If we don't actively recruit and bring up the next generation of radio engineers, the ranks will someday be very thin indeed.
Sundown Somehow, Salem Media of Colorado has managed to convince the FCC that it is entitled to both its regular (KRKS) and expanded band (KBJD) facilities. Salem applied for and received Special Temporary Authority for both KRKS and KBJD to remain on the air beyond the February 20 "sundown" date. Their argument was "...if one of the licenses were to be surrendered today, it would be the expanded band station, KBJD," and "...KBJD provides a unique programming service to the Denver area and... silencing this station will not eliminate any interference to other stations." That the FCC bought the argument is amazing! It will be interesting to see if the FCC renews the STAs when they expire on August 16. If that happens, it could well be that Salem has managed to secure for itself another station in the market without going through the auction or comparative process that everyone else has to go through. It will be interesting to see if other expanded band entities follow suit. So much for "migration"!
If you have news you would like to share with the Rocky Mountain radio engineering community, email me at email@example.com.
Discount On NAB2006 Registration For SBE Members
SBE members are eligible for the special NAB Partner rate when registering for NAB2006, to be held April 22-27 in Las Vegas. If your station or employer is not a member of NAB (and therefore not eligible for the NAB member rate), you can use your SBE membership to your advantage and save $200 off the NAB Non-member rate.
To register, go to https://registration.expoexchange.com/ShowNAB061/DefaultPartner.aspx. Use the special partner code, "SBE".
Certification exam session dates for 2006 are listed below. Check the list for the exam period that is best for you. For more information about SBE Certification, contact Linda Baun, Certification Director at the SBE National Office at (317) 846-9000 or LBaun@sbe.org.
Fees are as follows:
SBE Files Comments Regarding The EAS FNPRM - 04-296
On January 24, 2006 the Society of Broadcast Engineers filed comprehensive comments related to the FCC's EAS Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making (FNPRM). Among the many recommendations for changes and improvement to the EAS, the Society called for the creation of point-multipoint distribution systems for the distribution of EAS messages from their sources to those systems that transmit emergency messages to the public and for the elimination of the EBS era 'daisy-chain' system. Due to the critical need for providing text messages to existing television based systems and a growing array of other, non-broadcast EAS participants, the SBE also called for the adoption of the Common Alerting Protocol as the vehicle for the distribution of emergency messages from their sources.
The complete text of SBE's response to this FNPRM can be found under Regulatory/Gov't Relations.
Nominations Now Being Accepted For 2005 SBE Natonal Awards
Some SBE Members go above and beyond the call of duty to do their jobs and serve SBE and the broadcast industry, and some local SBE chapters do an excellent job of serving their members. But often these efforts can go unrecognized. Don't let that happen this year. Make your nominations now for the 2005 SBE Chapter and Individual Awards.
There are five chapter and five individual award categories from which to choose when making a nomination. Three chapter awards are determined by using statistical information on record at the SBE National Office. In addition, five of the chapter awards are divided into two classes so that chapters with vastly different membership sizes are not competing with each other. This means that up to 18 awards could be presented.
Award winners will be notified in July and invited to attend the 2006 SBE National Meeting, which will be held September 26-27 in conjunction with the 34th Annual SBE22 Broadcast & Technology Expo sponsored by Central New York Chapter 22 in Verona, N.Y. Winners will be presented with either a certificate or a plaque at the SBE National Awards Dinner held Wednesday, September 27.
Nominations are due to the SBE National Office no later than May 31, 2006. For additional information, please contact Angel Bates at firstname.lastname@example.org or (317) 846-9000 or Larry Wilkins, Awards Committee Chair, at email@example.com or (334) 303-2525.
The new SBE CertPreview sample certification test software is now available. It's Microsoft Windows-based and replaces the previous DOS-based software. New sample tests are available for Broadcast Technologist, Audio Engineer, Video Engineer, Broadcast Networking Technologist, Broadcast Engineer and Senior Broadcast Engineer in both radio and television. Sample tests include 50 to 100 questions and indicate when an incorrect answer has been given. It provides a list of resources from which to learn more about a subject. Cost for each SBE CERTpreview practice test is $27 plus $3 shipping. Contact the National Office to order a copy.
A Better Mousetrap EAS Encoder/Decoder?
By Mike Wenglar, Director of Technology, Broadcast Media, KVUE TV/DT
I had a visit from a company that is beefing up their sales force and stock to better address the broadcaster. VSA Inc. with offices now in Austin, represents an EAS encoder/decoder manufacturer that may have a better box for today's technologies. The company is Digital Alert Systems located in Oracle, Arizona. They manufacture an EAS encoder/decoder called the DASDEC. The DASDEC is an IP based, Linux controlled, browser operated EAS encoder/decoder. According to their literature, the unit was certified by the FCC in 2004, making it the latest EAS design and compatible with today's communications technologies. The unit is a 2 rack unit chassis and contains three internal receivers with each having their own "F" connector on the rear of the unit. The receivers can be configured with the browser for any combination of AM, FM or NOAA frequencies. Additionally the monitoring inputs are expandable to six. An optional NTSC video output provides the EAS text message needed in several applications. GPI and GPO office EAS hold-off for commercials and other external controls such as station automation. Audio switching and routing are included. It interfaces with several character generators. An SDI option is being tested at this time.
What is nice about this unit, it is a computer with a stable Linux operating system. You can use it standalone, (one button weekly tests) or with a keyboard, monitor and mouse. It also has a parallel printer port. You will see that it is really a computer when you look at the back of the unit. What I really like is the ability to look at the system anywhere through the browser feature. This is really handy, for you can check the parameters, adjust them, or look at the logs anywhere you have a desktop computer in your facility. No more serial cables or complicated setup screens!
Because it is a computer, it can be synchronized to an NTP time server or provide internet access for troubleshooting and assistance; regional access to monitor EAS operations; upgrades and FCC changes are downloaded from the web; email notification; expansion ports and programming to address today's communications technologies. I think this box has the potential of a possible solution to a web-based alerting system through some software changes. Their software developer and design engineer, Tom Wood and I have discussed many possibilities and some of my wants and needs. He is very responsive to making the changes that the broadcaster will need now and for the future. With the FCC looking for a better EAS system throughout the country, I think these guys may be on the right technology track.
I evaluated the unit for a few days and I was up and running in no time even without any experience with their unit because of their browser interface. If you understand the EAS jargon, you will know how to program this box. I have used and operated two other EAS units, and by far, this one is the easiest to understand and operate. Bill Kalenda at KAKW (Univision) here in Austin also evaluated the unit and was also impressed with the unit and also discussed some changes to the unit with the designer, which was well received. It is refreshing to have a manufacture respond to a customer like these DASDEC guys!
If you want to know more about what this unit can do, check their website at www.digitalalertsystems.com. If you have questions, check their contact section and ask and you will be surprised at how fast you get a response.
I like the rate of continual development and enhancement of this unit and because of that and other factors, the DASDEC will be my next EAS encoder/decoder when it comes time to replacing "brand"..well I can't tell you that.
Regarding last month's article on the GSM phone buzz. Thanks to the many who have contacted me regarding the discussion. It's good to see that others are also concerned or annoyed with this "noise" and that someone is reading these articles!
Featuring News, Rumors and Views
Lets see what's happened since we last met - I was in Indy during the week of Dec 12; had a chance to stop by and visit with the crew at the SBE headquarters. By the way, they are moving down the street about a block later this month. Seems that the other tenant on the floor of the building they are on wanted the whole floor. After that, off to Greensboro , NC .... Just in time to experience a dandy ice-storm. You think that Seattle has trouble driving in winter weather?? You ought to see how these folks deal with it! Sure was nice to get back to the warmth of the PNW.
One of the major players in our business has decided to split itself in two pieces. Viacom will become New-Viacom and CBS Corp. Along with this change will be the elimination of the name Infinity....meaning that KSTW, KMPS, KZOK etc in our area will be under the CBS umbrella.
December 18 th a fire destroyed a good part of the Rose Hill transmitter building in Kirkland , taking with it the transmitting equipment for 1250 and 1460 who are diplexed there. Also lost in the blaze was equipment belonging to our own Jim Dalke who is sure to have quite a story to tell at the next meeting of our chapter.
The HD Radio train appears to be picking up speed with a number of the major players coming together to promote the new system and to provide programming for additional audio channels as radio begins their version of Multicasting. For those that have or are about to purchase new HD radios, they can look forward to a lot of choices in what to listen to. Think of it this way, in this area the number of FM stations is about to double.
With the model being tested by KUOW that number could triple! Snooping around with my Kenwood HD Radio is a real treat as I discovered that our local 94.9 outlet has programming on HD1, HD2 - and- HD3. Granted they are all pretty much talk-streams...but none the less...KUOW has 3 program streams on the air. Pretty cool!
Lots of rumors floating about as to the sale of ABC radio. Some of the trades, at this writing, have Entercom being the party that gets to add some legendary call letters to their stable of stations. WLS, WABC, KABC, KGO to name a few. But again this is just rumor...but let's face it...Rumors are kinda fun. (Ed: The ABC stations were sold to Citadel Broadcasting.)
Looks like - THE END IS NEAR ! The end of Analog TV that is. Unless something else comes up to change what has been a rather elastic date...February 2009 will mark the end of Analog TV. I can see it now...a flood of TV transmitters for sale, cheap, on eBay. What's really going to be interesting is how 'Joe Sixpack' figures out the channel arrangement. For years we have had 4,5,7, 9, 11 &13...who knows what the final arrangement will be? Then there is the big pot of money to be paid to 'Joe' who claims that he can't afford a DTV and what's Uncle Sam to pay for a converter so he can continue to watch TV on his yellow screen Hoffman.
The FCC has been messing with the heads at the cable systems suggesting that cable should be sold on the basis of paying for just the channels you wish to watch. Knowing how this works...I'm thinking that the Commish should be careful what they wish for as this could be expensive to the consumer.
Things must be a whole lot better over at Fisher these days as our local broadcast company is investing some 20 megabucks in some Hispanic TV stations. Then again they may be a dumb as a fox with this move as the Hispanic market is growing like a weed these days.
Did you see the pictures of the tower that was hit in Southern Nebraska ? Yikes! Apparently a small single engine aircraft hit the 1065 ft structure in late November causing the tower to fall and this taking off the air TV and FM facilities for a couple of months in that area. Tragically the 3 on board the plane died in the crash. I recall several years ago when a light plane ran into one of the guy wires on Channel 13's tower on Gold Mt. The tower survived, the pilot did not.
Walt Lowery has announced that he has added Continental transmitters to his offerings. Continental has developed a way to create high power for FM and HD using a modified version of their venerable tube type transmitters. I actually had a chance to go to the Continental plant while in Dallas a couple of months back and see this rig....pretty nifty application. Of course it did my heart good to see a vacuum tube being put to work. In this day and age of solid state everything...it's still pretty hard to beat a tube as a single device with a big power gain.
Who in this business does not know the name- Scientific-Atlanta? Did you hear that Cisco Systems purchased them for just under 7 Billion bucks? Cisco felt that this move would help them as the rules for how TV is delivered to 'Joe' are being changed.
Sign of the times - A piece in the local paper about women opening up a radio station in Baghdad Iraq . Before the war there were only 4 radio stations in Iraq , now there are over 85.
From the looks of things the satellite broadcasters appear to be leading the way in terms of technology, for instance - XM is working on a system that's called Dynamic Parking Information that will display on your car's navigation system the number of spaces available in parking lots. I'm a thinking that local radio had better wake up the brain trust and start thinking outside the box.
Here's an interesting story....seems that a fellow was driving down the road and had his car radio in scan, apparently looking for something new to listen to. The radio stops on what appears to be a new station. As it turned out that new station was actually a car that was traveling in the same direction whose driver was listening to an XM satellite radio channel. The picking up the old FM modulator trick. Apparently the idea of running your I-Pod into a modulator so you can pick up the audio on your car stereo is growing in popularity. Range is limited of course....happy hunting.
Talking with Gary Hilliard down in Portland the other day. Seems that they are having guy anchor problems at one of their AM sites. The things are failing - Wow. Good reason to have a professional check not only your tower, but those guy anchors also.
I see where former Seattle Radio and TV anchor Aaron Brown is out of a job having been replaced at CNN. Is there anyone that is not thankful that they are on the technical side of Broadcasting?
That's it for this month, my friends.
Clay, K7CR, CPBE, SBE-VP etc
By Vicki W. Kipp
Biometrics - Measurable human physical characteristics are automatically checked for authentication. These characteristics include face, fingerprint, hand geometry, retina, iris, signature, vein, and voice.
Encryption - Data is translated into a secret code that requires access to a key or password in order to decrypt it. Encrypted data is called cipher text and unencrypted data is known as plain text.
Phishing - A false email is sent to a user claiming to be a legitimate business, directing the user to a web site where they are prompted to update personal information that the established organization already has. The sole purpose of this web site is to steal personal information for identity theft.
Spear Phishing - This phishing attack targets a single user or department of an organization. An email that appears to come from a company employee in a position of trust requests usernames or passwords or asks employees to click on a link (which deploys data theft spyware). Hackers use login information to access company networks.
Pharming - Pharming is similar to phishing, but it seeks private information through domain spoofing rather than with malicious links in email requests. Pharming hijacks a Domain Name System (DNS) server by redirecting users from a legitimate site to a dangerous site by injecting a DNS server with false data. Pharming is difficult to detect because a browser will continue to indicate to the user that they are at the correct web site.
Shadownet - An Internet service provider for phishing and pharming web sites.
The YXZ Report
by Kent Randles K7YXZ CBRE
LIFE WITH HD RADIO Holding at 12 FM HD signals and one AM HD signal on the air in the Portland market.
The three Clear Channel FM's in Portland put their HD Digital Radio Alliance "assigned" formats on their HD-2 channels starting January 31st. 100.3 KKRZ HD-2 has "Indie Rock." (Although it displayed as "Undie Rock" in the buried data). 103.3 KKCW has "Rhythmic AC." And 105.9 KIJZ "Traditional Jazz." They all have Program Associated Data, (PAD). Clear Channel has a website where you can hear streams of all their HD-2 channels at http://www.clearchannelmusic.com/hdradio/ . So far, the HD data rate split is 48/48 kbps.
Tuning into HD-2 on the two receivers I have access to, a Day Sequerra M4 and a Boston Acoustics Receptor HD, is interesting because it takes a few seconds for the receiver to "acquire" the audio. Mobile-wise, for those who have the newest or upgraded Kenwood HD Radio adapters: since there is no analog backup for HD-2, "mute happens."
Boston Acoustics has dropped the price of their Receptor HD Radio from $499 to $299. Radiosophy is now saying "shipping 1Q06" for their radio.
TWO MORE THINGS TO DRIVE RDS The new FM adapter for iPod has RDS! And Apple has applied for a patent to broadcast ID3 data from songs on iPods via RDS on their wireless FM adapters.
BOB LINDAHL'S LIFE COMES TO THE END OF ITS REEL Robert M. Lindahl, former owner of Northwestern, Inc., died at his home January 9, 2006 from Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a congenital lung disease. He was 83. From http://www.nlm.nih.gov : "Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is a lack of a liver protein that blocks the destructive effects of certain enzymes."
He's most famous as the "engineer" for the Kingsmen's Louie Louie.
Amateur Radio News
By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
o The Amateur Radio community, students, scanner enthusiasts, space fans and others are monitoring the most novel satellite ever to orbit Earth. "SuitSat-1" consists of a surplus Russian Orlan spacesuit reconfigured to function as a free-floating Amateur Radio transmit-only satellite (see Figure 1).
On Friday, February 3rd, International Space Station Expedition 13 flight engineer Valery Tokarev released the unique and enthusiastically anticipated satellite into orbit as he and ISS Expedition 12 Commander Bill McArthur, KC5ACR, began a six-hour space walk.
Using the call sign RS0RS, SuitSat-1 will transmit its voice message "This is SuitSat-1 RS0RS!" on 145.99 MHz in several languages plus telemetry and a slow-scan TV image on an eight-minute cycle as it orbits Earth. The three batteries powering the satellite were expected to last about a week, and then SuitSat-1 would re-enter Earth's atmosphere after several weeks of circling the globe.
SuitSat-1's 500 mW transmitter was to report mission time, suit temperature and battery voltage (28 V is nominal) down to Earth. Its single SSTV image was said to be similar in resolution to a cell-phone quality picture. Initial reports were that the signal was much weaker than expected.
(Excerpts from the American Radio Relay League's <www.arrl.org> web site)
They told me I was gullible...
... and I believed them.
Garneth M. Harris
Newsletter archives are available online.
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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.