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A monthly newsletter by Society of Broadcast Engineers Chapter 48

March 1998

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The February Meeting
Chapter 48's Next Meeting
Upcoming Events
Introduction to DTV RF
Acrodyne to Supply Transmitter in Las Vegas
30th Leader Skills Seminar Scheduled For June 8 - 12, 1998
Job Postings
SBE Bookstore
News and Views
The End User
Amateur Radio News

The February Meeting

Our February meeting was held on Wednesday, February 18, 1998 at 12:00 noon at the National Digital Television Center.

Our meeting summary was prepared by SBE member Craig Roberts this month.

Have you noticed that every time you look at an oscilloscope the edges on the waveforms look sharper than the last time? Well, unless you are viewing a particularly bad analog circuit, it's more likely you are looking at a digital signal as there are more and more of them every day.

And the most recent meeting of the Denver chapter of SBE/SMPTE was further evidence of this. Things started at noon on the 18th in the cafeteria of the National Digital Television Center with the usual chit-chat. Once the meal was over, we moved to studio E-2 where SBE Chairman Andre' Smith opened up the meeting.

With business out of the way, Craig Roberts introduced Bob Brandt, President of Knight's Communications, Inc. of Ft. Worth. Although his firm specializes in mobile communications and telephone cell sites, Bob's appearance was to inform us of a relatively new fiber-optic transmission product called Fibox.

Fibox is designed for dedicated fiber links and offers all the regular attributes of such transmission such as transparency, ground isolation, RFI proof, etc. Currently, the product emphasizes audio transmission but it also supports data and SDDI video transmission (analog video capability is in the design phase as of this time). Other key specifications include 20 bit uncompressed A/D & D/A conversion, analog or digital (AES/EBU or S/PDIF) audio I/O which can be mixed and matched as required, and multi-mode or single-mode transmission (the former is good for 4 km while the latter is rated around 10 km).

Andre Smith observed that such a system would work well to tie buildings together or in a remote audio broadcast situation where the truck is a good distance from the talent setup. At under $2000 for the transmitter/receiver combo the price seemed reasonable and the audio response specs were ruler flat!

Although an installation can be as simple as a master input unit and a master output unit with a piece of glass in between, slave units can be cascaded to either end to create the desired configuration. Fibox is enjoying success at venues ranging all the way from China to applications on the "Tonight Show". So it might be worth considering if you face the challenge of shipping signals to a nearby building or as part of remote coverage from, say, a golf tournament. Bob indicated that he would be happy to provide units for evaluation.

As with all of our guest speakers, we thank Bob for taking the time to travel from Ft. Worth - or was it directly from a recent trip to China?! -- to explain another of the never-ending developments in today's world of digital communications."

Be sure to join us for our March 18 meeting at 12:00 noon at the National Digital Television Center at 4100 East Dry Creek Road.

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Chapter 48's Next Meeting...

...will be held on Wednesday, March 18, 1998. Meeting location will be the National Digital Televsion Center located at 4100 E. Dry Creek Road in Littleton. Plan on finishing lunch by 12:30 PM so we can begin the program shortly thereafter.

This month will feature Mr. Barry Watts from "Tekniche". Tekniche is known for making some of the most advanced format converters, D/A's, A/D's and other digital interface and support products. Barry's topic will be "Studio Design for HDTV"/

Also on the agenda is the formation of a new SMPTE Nomination Committee.

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Upcoming Meetings of SBE Chapter 48/Rocky Mountain SMPTE And Other Area Happenings

Wednesday 18 March -- 12:00 noon - National Digital Television Center at 4100 East Dry Creek Road - SMPTE Nomination Committee formation.

April -- To Be Announced

Wednesday - 20 May -- NOTE TIME 4:00 pm -- Itelco USA, Inc. 7575 West 103rd Ave Suite 110 Westminster (North on 36 to 104th/Church Ranch exit left, first street south of Hwy 36 past Amoco Station, turn right west, first set of red brick buildings) Tour of assembly and test area for high-power digital transmitter area. They do Solid State and IOT transmitters.

*10-13 June -- Cable Tech Expo, SCTE show downtown Denver.

22 July -- Lookout Mountain Picnic -- 3rd Annual

19 August -- William Zou of GI will present an encoder for ATSC DTV application, and explain how they handle HDTV, and SDTV, including modulating the DTV 8VSB signal.

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The SBE Introduction to DTV RF is a practical guide intended to assist the Broadcast Engineer in understanding some of the technical issues faced by all television stations in the transition to DTV. After reading this 100-page book, you will be armed with the basic knowledge you need to prepare for television in the twenty-first century. Within the pages of this single booklet are the essential principles that will allow you to speak with confidence on the subject of DTV RF.

If you are a radio engineer, you may be surprised to learn that the DTV RF waveform has more in common with the complex speech waveform of a Ham SSB transmitter than it does an NTSC Visual RF envelope. It may be time to add DTV RF to the list of transmitters you can install and maintain.

The SBE Introduction to DTV RF focuses specifically on the 8-VSB transmission system selected by the FCC. It provides an overview of the 188-byte MPEG-2 digital transport system used to carry the compressed video, audio and data bitstreams to the transmitter. The Dolby AC-3 system capable of 5.1 audio channels per bitstream is covered along with the eight types of audio services which will be available with DTV. There is actually nothing digital about the transmission of the DTV RF signal!

Each section of a typical DTV transmitter block diagram is explained. The text examines the relationship between NTSC peak visual power and DTV average power, as well as test measurement displays. Basic DTV receiver circuitry is also examined. You would have to spend many hours sifting through dozens of articles and a mountain of government documents to obtain the concise and practical information found in this booklet.

The price is $49 for SBE Members and $65 for Non-members, plus $2.00 per copy for shipping (Residents of Indiana, please add 5% sales tax).

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Acrodyne To Supply Transmitter in Las Vegas

The Acrodyne Corporation has been awarded the contract to supply an Adjacent Channel Transmitter (ACT) System to KBLR-TV in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The ACT transmitter will enable KBLR to transmit NTSC Channel 39 at 1330kW ERP and DTV Channel 38 at 94.10kW ERP through the same transmitter and antenna system.

This ACT Transmitter System is scheduled to be on the air by the beginning of April, 1998, and can be viewed during the NAB Convention April 6 - 9, 1998.

Contact Chapter 48 Sustaining Member Russ Erickson at 800-523-2596 or 970-535- 0208 fur further information or to schedule a personal demonstration.

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SBE will sponsor the 30th Leader Skills Seminar, presented by Richard Cupka, June 8-12, 1998 in Indianapolis. This will be the second consecutive year SBE has sponsored this program, designed to teach leadership and management skills to broadcast engineers. The course was presented by NAB for 28 years, before being dropped around 1991. The Seminar will be held at the Indianapolis Quality Inn South. The hotel provides a comfortable setting for the week-long program, offering free airport shuttle, full service restaurant, recreational facilities and convenient location along Indianapolis’ beltway. The cost for this intensive program is just $650, far below similar programs. The fee includes all instruction materials and refreshment breaks each day. Food, lodging and transportation are additional. The nightly rate at the Quality Inn South is just $69 plus 11% tax. To register, call the SBE National Office at (317) 253-1640 or request a registration form by e-mail to John Poray at

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Job Postings

KSL has positions available in the Salt Lake City area, contact the KSL's job line at 801-575-5780.

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

Rome Chelsi
IHS Communications Prod.
15 Inverness Way East
Englewood, CO 80112-5776

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SBE Bookstore

8445 Keystone Crossing #140
Indianapolis, IN 46240-2454

The Society of Broadcast Engineers, in conjunction with CRC Press, Inc., McGraw-Hill Professional Book Group, Focal Press, Prentice Hall, and other publishers have made it possible for SBE members to purchase the best industry resources at up to 20% off the retail price. This collection of books is authored by the most outstanding group of experts in the industry. Following is a partial list with descriptions of the resources SBE has put at your fingertips.

A Handbook of Circuit Mathematics for Technical Engineers by Libbey
Interconnecting Electronic Systems by Whitaker/Desantis/Paulson
AC Power Systems Handbook by Whitaker
Pocket Book of Integrals and Mathematical Formulas, 2nd Edition by Tallarida
Maintaining Electronic Systems by Whitaker
Fiber Optic Communications By Green
The Mobile Communications Handbook by Gibson
The Electronics Handbook by Whitaker
The Electrical Engineering Handbook, 2nd Edition by Dorf - 1997
The Engineering Handbook on CD-ROM by Dorf
To order by credit card (Visa, MasterCard or American Express), call SBE Services 317-253-1640 or fax your order to (317) 253-0418.

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News and Views

Clay Freinwald / Seattle Chapter 16

Here's an item from Jim Tharp. He was talking to Arne Skoog the other day when Arne related how he uses the Electronic Reader Board with his Sage EAS unit. Rather than simply driving the sign with the RS-222 output, he has the Sage provide contact closures for certain modes and has that fire off pre- programmed messages on his sign. Jim thought this was a great idea and submitted some suggested messages that might prompt action where the standard display might be more confusing. For example..


RF Specialties' recent magazine, The RF Spectrum, had an interesting article about FM combiners --good light reading for anyone wanting to know more about these systems. The installation at West Tiger Mountain here was one of the first major combiners on the West Coast.

I ran across an interesting item on my desk the other day (as I was taking snow shovel to it). This item from last June from Dave Ziskin, a product information sheet on Breaker Spot Early Warning Indicator. It's a little yellow stick-on about 1/2 inch square. It will tell you, via color change, whether or not the device it's stuck to has exceeded a certain temperature.

In a recent light hearted discussion on Broadcast Net we were kicking around interesting names in our business. I submitted BILL WATT (first met him when he was CE of KBRO in Bremerton) Then there was BEN RINGER (telephone man in Forks). Elaine Jones explained she remembers that ADC had a regional sales manager about 15 years ago named JACK FIELDS. Years ago there was apparently an engineer at WZYQ that called himself R.F. BURNS.

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The End User

Richard Jones, CPBE

With the variety of storage devices for computers these days software writers must keep up with a multitude of ways to charge their customers for the products they write. Back in the old days of floppy disks a system was started called "shareware"--still a popular form of income for amateur software writers as well as professionals who see a simple word of mouth means of income. You try a piece of software for free for a limited time and if you like it the honor system insists that you send a few bucks to pay for your copy. This arrangement has become more sophisticated over time. Nowadays, it is common for shareware to be incomplete or limited in its capabilities until you pay for it and then you receive a complete version of the program you were using.

Another method is the automatic expiration date. A timer is built into the software keeping track of how much it is used or how long it has been operating on your computer. Only by sending money and receiving an access code will the software continue to operate.

Something relatively new is about to hit the market. A new format that some hope will replace the CD-ROM and even the DVD (digital versatile disk). It's called DIVX--Digital Video Express. It has a greater capacity than CD-ROM. So much so that it is being marketed as a means of playing movies on a home entertainment system. It is not recordable--a disadvantage according to some. But one other item of interest is the prospect that some entrepreneurs wish to encode a self-destruct mechanism into the disk so that after a couple of plays the disk will simply stop working. By transmitting credit card information the disk could be reactivated for more viewings of the movie on the disk. This scheme is not likely to succeed simply because most people are reluctant to buy something that they knowingly expect to stop working.

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Amateur Radio News

Tom Weeden, WJ9H / Chapter 24

We are now about a year into the current 11-year sunspot cycle, according to the Solar Cycle Prediction Panel. The SCPP, a panel of 12 scientists from government agencies around the world, published a revised report in October. The report states, "the Solar Cycle 23 Panel recommends that October, 1996, be used as the effective onset of Cycle 23." The panel also predicts that the level of solar activity will be strong, comparable to Cycle 22, which was the third largest cycle in the almost 250 years that sunspot numbers have been recorded. The predicted peak of Cycle 23 will lie between June 1999 and January 2001.

Hams in upstate New York are responding to the weather emergency caused by ice storms across the Northeast, where a state of emergency has been declared in at least five upstate New York counties. Albany County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) was activated January 8th to assist the American Red Cross. Hams were stationed at the Albany Red Cross Chapter House, the National Weather Service in Albany, and at the New York State Emergency Management Office, as well as at designated river level recording sites along the Mohawk River.

(Excerpts from January 1998 "QST" magazine and e-mail reports)

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Society of Broadcast Engineers
Chapter 48

2950 South Birch Street
Denver, Colorado 80222

SBE Officers


Andre' Smith (303) 871-4204


Fred Baumgartner (303) 486-3946


Bill Harris (303) 756-4843

Certification Chairman

Fred Baumgartner (303) 486-3946

SMPTE Officers


Fred Baumgartner (303) 486-3946


Rick Craddock (719) 634-2844


Myron Olinger
Dick Phannenstiel
George Sollenberger

SMPTE Govenor (National Liason)

Rome Chelsi

Newsletter Committee

Bills Harris.......(303)756-4843 email:
Garneth M. Harris..(303)756-4843
Andre' Smith.......(303)871-4204 email:

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 & 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 chapters are permitted to use excerpts if attributed to the original authors, sources, and/or the Denver SBE Newsletter.