The March, 2004 Meeting
From Rome Chelsi
Dean Schneider of Film Equipment and Video Services graciously provided facilities for the Rocky Mountain Section's March Meeting.
Sony Media Group's Bret Shisler, Acquisition Engineer and Jim Maiers Senior Engineering Specialist provided us with an in depth technical presentation of Blue-Laser Optical Recording Technology and the XD Cam system. Members were provided with the system's interoperability, blue laser recording technology, and a discussion of IP networking for file transfer.
Date: Wednesday, March 24th, 6:30 PM
Film Video Equipment Service Co.
Host: Dean Schneider, FVESCO
Random Radio Thoughts
AM HD Along the Front Range
Early KPOF listener reports are very encouraging. The decoded audio quality is said to be as good as FM. SoundTrack in Denver is now stocking HD-capable radios for automobiles, but they're not cheap. Prices should come down as more units come on the market.
Colorado Public Radio's KCFR is set to go on the air with an HD signal sometime this month using Broadcast Electronics equipment. This will be an interesting test, as KCFR is running into a diplexer (with Crawford's KLVZ). The load impedance is pretty good, but any diplexed situation is bound to be somewhat of a challenge.
KNRC (1150 kHz), which is listed on the latest HD Radio Scorecard (Radio World, March 28) as having purchased an "early adopter" HD license from iBiquity, evidently fired up its digital carriers for awhile. KNRC CE Rodger Tighe indicates that the station has since turned off its HD encoding equipment in response to listener complaints of interference to KJJD (1170 kHz) in Windsor. KJJD is a 1 kW daytimer. The HD encoding equipment is still in the rack at KNRC. Presumably, once HD-capable receivers begin to proliferate, the digital carriers will come back on. Until then, the interference is probably unwarranted. On the other hand, if all AMs in the market who would otherwise consider conversion to HD hold off for receiver proliferation, we're back to the "chicken-or-the-egg" problem that killed AM Stereo. Why would retailers stock "dead end" merchandise for which there is no market?
The KNRC-KJJD situation begs the question: Was KNRC's HD Radio™ operation producing "real" interference to KJJD under the commonly accepted definition of the word? Was the interference occurring within the KJJD protected contour, or was there prohibited overlap occurring? I find that pretty hard to believe. The prohibited overlap for second-adjacent channel stations is 5 mV/m, and §73.44(b) says that emissions must be below -25 dBc below 20 kHz and below -35 dBc above 20 kHz. There is a "white space" of almost ten miles between KNRC and KJJD. Assuming that KNRC was staying within the mask, I can't believe that any "real" interference was produced.
So what "interference" are we talking about here? My guess is that we're talking about outside-the-protected-contour interference, and if that is "real" interference, then is the FCC definition wrong, or is the RF mask in §73.44 inadequate to protect first- and second-adjacent channel stations? I think we're going to have to answer these questions pretty soon.
Earlier, I mentioned the Radio World HD Radio Scorecard. Interestingly, there are no Colorado FM stations on the scorecard. Does that mean that the AMs will break trail for the FMs here in Colorado?
BE has announced the development of a new product, the XPi10, an HD Radio signal generator that is installed at the studio. This would presumably work similarly to the way many stations currently operate with their stereo generator at the studio along with a composite STL. There's no word yet on what form the output will take and what STL modifications will be needed to carry the "composite" HD signal. Still, it is an intriguing concept, particularly when you consider all the auxiliary data applications that the HD architecture can accommodate. It would be a lot easier to insert those data streams at the studio than to carry them to the transmitter site for injection there. I plan to look at the XPi10 at the NAB convention later this month. Stay tuned.
Colorado Window Filings
Of particular interest along the Front Range are two apps for 1370 in the Springs and a whole slew of apps for 1550 including one in Pueblo, one in Parker, one in Brighton, one in Englewood and two in Golden. All those are mutually exclusive, and I suspect it will take a long time for all the MX apps to sort out. Other apps of note were filed for Grand Junction (730 and 790); Snowmass (730); Lamar (1100 and 1340); Walsenburg (1180 and 1320); Keystone (1320); Steamboat (1340 and 1440); Cripple Creek (1370); Craig (1450); Vail, Durango and Cortez (1450); and Glenwood (1450). Don't look for more than a few of those to be eventually granted.
Those 1550 apps around the area are interesting in that each proposes a new station on a channel that was recently vacated by KQXI in an expanded-band migration. Some have commented that it doesn't seem right to allow a new station on a channel that was vacated for the express purpose of eliminating interference. To those people I would say that any applications for the frequency have to comply with the current standards of allocation. KQXI produced a lot of nighttime interference, and that interference was grandfathered. Any new grantable applications must fully protect all co- and first-adjacent-channel stations to their calculated 25% RSS night limits. Daytime, licensed facilities out to the third-adjacent channel, including CPs and applications, must be fully protected.
For a band that is "dead", there sure seems to be a lot of interest in AM these days!
The MPEG Gargle
I first heard this on one of Crawford's stations back in 2000. The cause was found to be one too many trips through the MPEG grinder. The audio on this particular station started in Dallas where it resided in a native MP2 format on a digital media system. From there it was decoded to analog and mixed, then sent through another MPEG codec and beamed via satellite to the KLZ transmitter site in Denver. The analog output of the satellite receiver was fed to a stereo channel on an Intraplex, which fed it to the studio. The analog output of the Intraplex was mixed, processed and then fed (you guessed it) back into the Intraplex for the return trip to the transmitter site. Counting the initial MP2 rip, that was... let's see... four passes through the MPEG grinder. No wonder it sounded so bad! Forget about competing algorithms. Enough trips through any one grinder will eventually make sausage! The fix? We eliminated the problem by simply increasing the data rate on the inbound and return Intraplex channels.
Of late, I have been hearing that same sound on more and more stations around Denver and other major markets. The worst of it seems to be on stations carrying satellite-delivered programming, at least some of which is delivered via StarGuide. In most cases, the problem clears up during local breaks.
Interestingly, while demoing a Sirius receiver recently, Ed Dulaney, Keith Peterson and I observed the same effect on a number of the channels. It was markedly worse on the news/sports (talk) channels.
I suspect that stations will be dealing with this rather unpleasant effect more and more, particularly where program providers operate their satellite channels at reduced data rates to conserve bandwidth (and thus reduce program delivery costs). That means that engineers will have to provide much more transparent signal paths in their STLs and elsewhere.
Perhaps with increased use of the Internet and online streams by consumers, people have come to tolerate and even somewhat expect artifacts in audio. On the other hand, maybe some of them are irritated by them. It used to be that the term "broadcast quality" meant something. It's something to think about.
If you have news you would like to share with the Denver radio engineering community, email me at email@example.com.
Certificaton Exam Session Dates Announced For 2004
The SBE Certification Committee has established exam dates for 2004. 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 Baun, Certification Director at the SBE National Office at (317) 846-9000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Steve Epstein, CPBE CBNT
Last month, Kirk Chestnut mentioned in the Chairman's Chat his goal of obtaining his CBNT this year. As I was one of the first to take the CBNT test, I thought that this column would be a good place to cover the information in a tutorial. I welcome your feedback; send it to me via email at email@example.com.
Reviewing the sample material for the test, several areas of knowledge are covered: general electronics, x86 PCs, the DOS/Windows OS and networking. Rather than jump right into networking we will start with the basics and move quickly into the other areas over the next few months.
Starting with the PC, let's look at some basics. First, PCs in a broadcast or mission-critical environment need to be protected from surges, spikes, brownouts and complete power failures. The best way to do this is with a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) that offers surge and spike protection. At a minimum, UPSs need to be sized so that upon complete loss of power the PC can be properly shutdown. Better yet, size the UPS such that you have about five minutes before shutdown is required. That way, if the power returns in a few minutes, you can avoid the shutdown completely. UPS capacity is measured in volt-amps. A 500VA unit might keep a small PC going for 10 minutes or so. Don't try to keep two small computers going for 5 minutes, as you will likely overload the UPS. When sizing a UPS look carefully at all the specifications. For maximum reliability, ensure that you are within specs on all parameters. As mentioned in a previous column, include UPSs in your PM routines-it is easy to forget about them.
A basic PC consists of a power supply, motherboard, memory and one or more disk drives. Most also include a monitor, keyboard and mouse. Power supplies are straightforward. As they are usually switching supplies, replacement is often more cost-effective than repair. Test them with an oscilloscope or digital meter. Newer units may require connection to a motherboard before they will power up.
One item that can easily be replaced is the cooling fan. Fan quality varies, but I have found it best to use only high quality (ball bearing) replacement fans, and put the installation date on the outside of the power supply where it is easily read. Often the replacement fan will outlive the supply. If you know its age, you can make a determination on whether the fan is worth keeping. The same holds true for the other fans found in cases and on CPUs. New and clean fans normally run quieter. Clean fans with compressed air. Avoid "spinning them" with the air by sticking your finger in the blade area (while the blade is stationary). It is not as much fun, but much easier on the bearings. Better still are cases that provide filters.
Once you are sure the power supply is operational, you can test the motherboard. With nothing more than a single stick of RAM and a CPU, most motherboards will offer a series of beeps to let you know they are functional. One short beep usually means everything in the POST (power on self test) is OK. Check your motherboard documentation for additional info. Adding a monitor card and monitor will provide visual details.
Next, a drive can be used to boot an operating system. In the past all systems had a floppy drive that could be used for this, but today CD drives are often used for this role. Floppy drives can be plugged into the floppy controller found on most motherboards, and CD drives can be attached to either the primary or secondary hard drive controller. Needless to say, maintain a bootable disk in every format (3.5" floppy, CD, etc.) required in your facility. They are indispensable for troubleshooting. Even with this small amount of hardware, configuration is required.
The computer's CMOS can usually be accessed using the F1 or delete key at startup. If you are using the onboard drive controllers, ensure they are enabled. Disable them if you have a card-mounted controller plugged into the motherboard. Floppies are normally selected by the cable, The A floppy is connected with the connector after the twist. Hard drives and CDs are set as either master or slave using drive-mounted jumpers. The first or only drive is set as the master, with the second drive set as the slave. Most CMOS settings today can be left in auto, as the drives provide the necessary information to the motherboard.
The information above should be sufficient to determine the basic condition of any PC. Often a completely dead PC is the result of either a power supply or motherboard failure. However, I have seen card failures as well as RAM failures that have left a system in a seemingly dead state. Although I dislike disturbing multiple components during troubleshooting, I have found that after a few cursory checks of basic connections and the power supply, taking a dead system down to the minimum is often the quickest way to determine the failed component. Next we will cover what is needed to get a system booted up and on a network.
New SBE Designed Certification Sample Test Software
New SBE designed certification sample test software is now available and will also be available at the NAB Convention. The new software is Microsoft Windows-based and will replace the current DOS-based software. There will be a new sample test available for Broadcast Technologist, Audio Engineer, Video Engineer and Broadcast Networking Technologist. It will also be available for Broadcast Engineer and Senior Broadcast Engineer in both radio and television. Sample tests will include 50 to 100 questions and will indicate when an incorrect answer has been given and indicate resources to learn more about a subject. The cost for each SBE CERTpreview practice test is $27 plus $3 shipping.
Membership Drive Continues Through May
The annual SBE Membership Drive, "Invite Your Friends to the Party," continues through the month of May. Though new members may join at any time of the year, during the Membership Drive, special prizes are available for recruiters. There is even a prize for one of the lucky new members as well as recognition for chapters which have a high level of involvement in membership recruitment.
Nominate Your Chapter Or An Individual For National Recognition
SBE's annual National Awards recognize the achievements of chapters and individual members. For chapters, awards are presented for best chapter newsletter, web site, frequency coordination effort, regional convention and inter-active chapter. For individual members, awards are presented for Broadcast Engineer of the Year, Educator of the Year, Technology Award (individual or company), technical article and article by a Student member. A nomination form can be found in the February Issue of the SBE Signal, on-line at the SBE web site or from the National Office. Deadline for nominations is May 31, 2004. Awards will be presented at the SBE National Awards Dinner, held during the SBE National Meeting, October 26-27 in Marlborough, Massachusetts in conjunction with the Bos-Con SBE Regional Convention.
Leader-Skills Set For June And August
The SBE Leader Skills Seminars, Courses I and II, are planned for June 2-4 and August 11-13 respectively. These are outstanding opportunities for broadcast engineers to receive training in people and management skills at an affordable price. Both will be held at the Marten House Hotel and Lilly Conference Center in Indianapolis. Course II participants must have already attended Course I this year or in the past. We are pleased to have Dick Cupka as our seminar leader, who has led Leader Skills Seminars for broadcast engineers form more than 35 years. More than 1,000 broadcast engi-neers have taken part in this program since its inception. A registration form is available in the April issue of the SBE Signal. Please register by April 30 to assure a spot.
Incredible Arc Story
REPOSTED here by permission from Larry Hendry at http://www.wiseguysynth.com/ My day gig - New Updated 2/16/04 (updates in blue)
When I am not messing around with modular synths or shipping parts for synth builders around the world, I have a regular job. Like most musicians, I call it my day gig. I have worked for an electric utility company in the Midwest, USA for over 27 years. I am what is called a "high-voltage specialist." So, while my synth circuit abilities are somewhat limited, I am well versed in the operation of high voltage AC circuits.
The photo to the left will link you to an amazing video (~1.5 Mb) of a 1/2 million volt switch failing to interrupt the arc when operating. Special thanks to Old Crow for hosting this popular video. If you are interested in some light technical analysis of what you are looking at, see the text below this photo. I was not given the details of this clip when it was sent to me. However, a couple of days ago, I received an e-mail from the person actually running the video camera. He basically confirmed my analysis of the switch operation and a few other details.
Based on what I do know about the equipment in the video, what I see, and now what has been reported to me first hand, I offer the following info:
The video was taken at Eldorado Substation in Boulder City, NV. The file is called Lugo because this switch and shunt reactor are on the line that goes to Lugo. This one is clearly a 500KV (I can tell by the size) three-phase switch, probably rated at about 2000 amps of normal current carrying capability. 500 KV refers to the phase-to-phase voltage. Divide by 1.732 to get the phase-to-ground voltage (289 KV).
This type of switch typically is used at one end of a transmission line, in some cases in conjunction with or instead of a circuit breaker for a variety of different configuration reasons that vary greatly from one utility to the other. Or, it may be used to connect a large transformer to the system.
In this case, the switch is being used to connect a special kind of transformer. The 3 single-phase transformers can be seen behind the truck. I say transformer, but as you can see, they have leads going in, but not coming out. These are actually single winding inductors connected from phase to ground and are commonly called "shunt reactors." These inductors are installed to offset the capacitive effects of un-loaded transmission lines, When a long 500 KV or 765 KV line is energized from one end, its inherent capacitance causes an unacceptable voltage rise on the open end of the line. The "shunt reactor" is installed to control that open-circuit voltage. Where current into the capacitor component of the line impedance leads voltage by 90 degrees, current into the shunt reactor lags voltage by 90 degrees. I have since learned that these shunt reactors are rated at 33.3 MVAR each to make up a 100 MVAR bank.
The switch being opened is called a "circuit switcher." It consists of two series SF6 gas puffer interrupters (similar to a circuit breaker) and an integrated center-break disconnect. The interrupters are to the right of the switch blades. They just look like gray porcelain insulators. At 345 and 500 KV these types of switches typically have two interrupters per phase in series in order to withstand the open circuit voltage encountered when de-energizing a line or transformer. They rely on synchronized opening of the two interrupters and voltage even distributed across the two interrupters by "grading" devices (typically lots of series capacitors or resistors).
The way they are supposed to work is the interrupters both trip, grading capacitors or resistors cause the open circuit voltage to split evenly across the two interrupters, the switch blades open with no current flow, and the interrupters close as the switch reaches the full open position. I originally titled this very BIG capacitor because that is what unloaded transmission line looks like. The parallel wires have a huge capacitive effect between ground and each other. On a 500KV line like this the current (leading the voltage by 90 degrees) required to energize this capacitor is approximately 1.8 amps per-mile of line per phase. That's 1.8 amps per phase at 289KV, or about 1.56 Mega Vars (million volt amps reactive) per mile. However, we are actually looking at the shunt reactor current which is inductive and lags the voltage by 90 degrees. So, I should have said "very big inductor."
The switch operation you see in this video in my opinion is a failed attempt to interrupt that inductive current. The failure appears to be that the far right interrupter does not open or the grading device has failed. The voltage across the remaining open interrupter exceeds the rating and it flashes over (you can see the first arc develop across one interrupter). Therefore, the switch blades are left to interrupt the current (not designed to do that) as they open. As the interrupter closes you can see the arc across it go out. However, the arc across the switch gets as tall as a 3 story building. The arc is extinguished only when the circuit breaker energizing the line, circuit switcher, and reactor is opened by the operator. Because some trouble was expected on the switch, arrangements had been made ahead of time to trip open the circuit breaker if necessary. This is the only failure I have ever seen where the arc lasted so long and grew so large without first going phase-to-phase or phase-to-ground taking the circuit out of service. It just keeps growing straight up where it contacts nothing.
Since I have seen many people speculate as to the amount of current in the arc, I will offer the actual calculations that are based on the assumption that the switch is only interrupting the current into the shunt reactor and the second hand report I received that this is a 100 MVAR reactor bank. Let's look at only one phase:
33,300 KVAR divided by 289 K Volt = 115.2 amps. I was told by the person who took the video that the current was "about 100 amps."
I hope you enjoyed the show.
Drop me some mail at Larry Hendry.
Chairman's Notes - Chapter 67 Dallas
I've been rereading "Sparks from the Plowed Ground" by Bob Doll, long time editor of the "Small Market Radio Newsletter". He researched many stations from their inceptions in the 1930's, 40's, 50's, 60's to today. Many have grown and prospered, some have shrunk and their manufacturing, mining, or military operations have declined. These small town stations have been mightily affected by the changes in technology (and just life in general) that we see here in our large market perch.
The mailed letter gave way to the overnight package, at least on weekdays. Then we developed e-mail which was instant (more or less) and then someone developed PDF files that can be attached to e-mail. So signatures, and security verifications can all be sent without undue delay. It didn't really change the process of work, but it sure truncated the waiting time between useful parts.
Remember when we thought a beeper was kind of neat? Important people had beepers. Doctors had beepers. Lawyers waiting for juries to render verdicts affecting millions had beepers. Engineers who could keep a broadcast station from going off frequency and slaughtering innocent people (alright that's a stretch: no one was actually going to die) had beepers. OK, so it turned out to be more stigma than status symbol, and more likely to be in the pocket of a bail bondsmen than a billionaire, but so what?
Then there were car phones. Not cellular or PCS, but the old works are in the trunk IMTS phones. We saw them installed in brief cases. Then the cell phones came out and we were impressed. Then everybody had one. Then it was no longer that impressive. We started fighting over the size of the phones. See any 10 or 15 year old movies? See the cell phones? Brick sized or bag phones.
Remember follow me roaming? O.K. enough with the phones. And, oh yeah we still have snail mail, perhaps more pieces than ever. That's upends the notion of a paperless office or home.
On the subject of paper...Bills are working their way through the government to somehow keep us safe from "Wardrobe Malfunctions" and "Acceptance Speech breakdowns". Fines are going to be increased for misbehavior. The FCC will look at a three strikes and you're unlicensed rule. Some of the provisions will go after performers who are not licensees.
This makes delay units all the rage. One group owner said that in addition to ordinary delays, it was developing in house, an up to 5 minute delay unit. IP'able loggers are popular, too. Your attorneys can go over what you aired from seconds ago to weeks or months ago. Although an engineer observed, that 'without intelligent users, the delay will mean only that the citation will get to the station 8 seconds later".
It's a fine line from reasonable precautions to congressional witch hunts. Some have suggested that we wouldn't hear about any of this if we were not in an election year.
So it's not always about the technology. Sometimes it's about the ubiquity of the rollout of the technology.
Demented Ramblings/Rumblings - The Staff
XM Satellite Radio and Sirius have started traffic and weather channels. XM has more than a dozen, dedicated to one large metro each and a few more will go on shortly. Sirius has been demoing a channel that alternates five minute blocks of New York and Los Angeles traffic. I've heard both. The channels are extremely low fi, but are intelligible and convenient. One broadcaster was heard to observe "We didn't want to be local, but we didn't want anyone else doing it either". NAB was all jazzed that they got these guys to agree not to use their ground repeater networks for this service. Got around that by putting it on every radio, everywhere.
The Clear Channel cluster in Waco has filed for a handful of little auxes for their stations. Each FM (they have two full Cs, a C1, and a C2) has or will share a one bay antenna on the tower at the studios and use of a small transmitter. This will keep the stations going in case of failure or routine work at the main sites, and allow RF safety when someone is climbing the tower. It's simple yet extremely effective. It can backup many failure modes (STL, transmitter site power, antenna, feed line, transmitter, exciter, remote control, commercial power, etc).
Steve Schott was named in an article in Radio Worlds about best-regarded engineers.
Featuring News, Rumors and Views
Boy, has broadcasting been in the news of late. First there was the mega-fine against Clear Channel for apparent violations of indecency and public inspection rules. The total $755,000 was made up of some 26 violations of indecency at $27,500 each in addition to 40 grand for Public File violations. Meanwile, KRON-TV in San Francisco may get fined $27.5K for a performer displaying his penis on TV....THEN, if it's not getting the previous two messages from the Commish, we have the now famous Superbowl half-time showing of Janet Jackson's breast. It's becoming clear that the FCC is not amused at this conduct, nor are several members of Congress. All of this will certainly result in investigations and from that, who knows?. One has to think that the legal departments of many Broadcast companies are carefully reviewing things. A very good time to be in Engineering.
In January I flew to Tucson to attend my first SBE Executive Board Meeting. For those of you that attended the February Ch16 Meeting, you got the whole low-down... for those of you that did not... here are some highlights. The EC consists of the Officers and two members of the Board as appointed by the President. Unfortunately our President, Ray Benedict, took sick and was unable to attend; the meeting was chaired by Sam Garfield. Dane Erickson joined the meeting via telephone to report on the activities of the FCC Committee; as usual, lots of activity there. The ADI proposal for emergency vehicles, MSS activity on our 7 Gig Band, change-over of the 2 gig band with issues in the below top 30 markets, analog vs. COFDM, etc.
I am very happy to report that the BoD voted to create a new committee. Their function will be education. Look for good things to come of this. 2003 was a very good year for SBE with a number of milestones reached; your Society is doing well. The next meetings of the Board will be 1) during NAB in Las Vegas; 2) June 26th at the Office in Indy; and 3) in conjunction with BosCom, in October in Boston. SBE Board members are not elected by district, but rather at large. Do keep in mind that I am very interested in what you think. If you have a suggestion or would just like to chat about SBE don't hesitate to give me a call.
As you can see, there is certainly a bit of travel involved with being on the SBE Board. In conjunction with the trip to Indianapolis for the summer Exc Board Meeting, I have tentatively accepted a speaking engagement at the annual meeting of the Illinois Broadcasters Association. The topic? Why EAS, of course.
While I was in Tucson I spent some time with Barry Miskind (his home town). Barry took me up to Tucson Mountain to see how other folks do it. One interesting surprise, as I walked into the local Journal stations engineering office, their local chief was talking with an old friend on the phone... Andy Laird... had a chance to visit for a few minutes via the twisted pair.
Chapter BoD meeting: a C.P. for Salem's 50 kW operation on 1300. This will potentially end the Boat-tenna south of Salty's at Alki.
Time to make those reservations for this year's NAB-a bit later than usual, April 17th thru the 22nd. On Monday the 18th, at 2 PM will be my major project for the event, the annual SBE-EAS Meeting. Special Guests will be Richard Rudman, who will talk about the changes proposed by the PPW, and our own Mark Allen of WSAB, who will speak on the new Amber Web Portal project. For those of you that cannot attend, I understand that (like last year) it will be streamed via the Internet, thanks to Dave Biondi of Broadcast.net.
I found it interesting to note that San Mateo County (California) is charging TV stations $51,000 to reserve a spot for their remote truck next to the court house so they can cover the Scott Peterson trial. No word on how many stations actually ended up paying the fee.
HD Radio continues to make news in our area. At this writing only the Infinity 106.1 is on the air. The following stations have announced they will be adding the system as soon as possible: 88.5, KPLU; 94.9, KUOW; 97.3, KBSG; 98.1, KING; 99.9, KISW; 100.7, KQBZ; 103.7, KMTT and 107.7, KNDD. With 9 stations installing the IBOC system Seattle will have more HD Radio choices than just about any other market in the country. For some time now KBKS/106.1 has been the only HD station in town... and Arne Skoog the only listener. This is all about to change as a number of engineers are now listening to HD Radio in their cars. In fact, they are now available to everyone at a couple of local popular outlets. Tell you one thing: this digital radio thing really works!
Broadcasters on the low end of the band have raised a big stink over the new Mexican station, XEKTT, broadcasting from Baja California with 20 kW Day and 10 kW Night, Non-DA on 560 kHz. This operation has impacted several US stations, all of whom have banded together demanding action. Another potential problem is brewing with the word that a couple more stations are planning on going on the air under similar circumstances. It's not clear just how or why this is taking place in apparent violation of existing treaties, etc.
Congratulations to Entercom as they celebrated their 5th anniversary as a publicly traded company. The firm's CEO, David Field, celebrated by ringing the closing bell at the NYSE on January 28th. Since the company went public its stock has increased over 200% in value and revenues have increased from $150 to over $400 million. Entercom operates KIRO radio and 7 other stations in Seattle.
Sirius continues to bleed money even though revenue is up, proving that satellite radio requires some mighty deep pockets.
Looks like un-licensed radio stations are again in the news. Free Radio Olympia on 91.3 and another on Vashon Island at 89.1. I find the web sites that these folks operate interesting. Check out the Olympia operation at www.frolympia.com and Vashon at www.voiceofvashon.org. In the case of Vashon, you just might recognize a familiar name. Denny Anderson, from the FCC, reported on this situation at the last chapter meeting.
I love to read a story about a fellow that became interested in electricity and radio at a young age, became a ham, and expanded his hobby into his vocation (you can guess why). In this case the story is about Oswald Villard, Jr. You may not know that name, but his contributions were significant. After he graduated from Stanford, he worked with a couple of fellas named Packard and Hewlett to develop the klystron tube; later during WWII he worked at Harvard on radar jamming. Perhaps his most famous development was research on stealth technology for aircraft and over-the horizon radar. Mr. Villard left us on January 7th of this year.
Remember all the flap about birds and towers? The WSAB has filed a comment with the FCC about this matter. Among their conclusions: 1) Death or injury to any birds is rare; 2) towers provide respite for migratory birds and homes for resident flocks. It seems to this writer that those that oppose towers (necessary for our industry) are just looking for another 'handle' with which they can gain leverage with government entities who issue permits for these structures. Call it what you want, but it's NIMBY with feathers.
Every once in a while you hear a 'keeper'. It was just prior to the last Chapter BoD Meeting when we learned what you call a person that works at KOMO: a " Komosapien "... at least according to Entercom's Chuck Taylor. To be fair, I suppose that you could call a person that works for KIRO a 'kiromaniac'
That's it for this month. Remember smoking is bad... oh ya, for you, too. Clay, CPBE, K7CR
Good Link for Useful Information
SoftWright LLC and PerCon Corporation Announce Strategic Alliance for FCC Data Access
Aurora CO - April 1, 2004
Obtaining accurate power, geographic coordinates, antenna height, and authorized frequencies has long been a challenge for designers of radio systems. PerCon is a company that maintains a daily-updated database for all licensed and proposed facilities on file with the Federal Communication Commission. PerCon Corporation and SoftWright have formed a strategic alliance to make this process very easy for all who want to locate engineering details of these facilities and then calculate radio coverage and microwave path design.
On April 1, 2004 both companies released a new version of their software, which fully support these capabilities. This is a standardized open-architecture Facilities Exchange File format that facilitates the transfer of all FCC records of land mobile radio, microwave and other engineering details from the machine readable records of the FCC directly into a simple way to view the data and also to immediately process radio coverage maps, microwave path design and intermodulation studies.
SoftWright LLC Press Contact: Larry D. Ellis, P.E. President email: firstname.lastname@example.org voice: 303-344-5486 PerCon Press Contact: Chuck Pergrim President email: email@example.com voice: 716-386-6015
The Story of WD-40
The product began from a search for a rust preventative solvent and degreaser to protect missile parts. WD-40 was created in 1953 by three technicians at the San Diego Rocket Chemical Company. It's name comes from the project that was to find a "water displacement" compound. They were successful with the fortieth formulation, thus WD-40. The Corvair Company bought it in bulk to protect their Atlas missile parts. The workers were so pleased with the product, they began smuggling (also known as "shrinkage" or "stealing") it out to use at home. The executives decided there might be a consumer market for it and put it in aerosol cans. The rest, as they say, is history. It is a carefully guarded formula known only to four people. Only one of them is the "brew master." There are about 2.5 million gallons of the stuff manufactured each year. It gets its distinctive smell from a fragrance that is added to the brew. Ken East (one of the original founders) says there is nothing in WD-40 that would hurt you. Here are some of the uses:
WD-40 has been designated the "official multi-purpose problem -solver of NASCAR," a ringing endorsement if there ever was one. In celebration of their 50th year, the company conducted a contest to learn the favorite uses of its customers and fan club members, (Yes, there is a WD-40 Fan Club). They compiled the information to identify the favorite use in each of the 50 states. InGeorgia and Alabama, the favorite use in both states was that it "penetrates stuck bolts, lug nuts, and hose ends." Florida's favorite use was "cleans and removes love bugs from grills and bumpers." California's favorite use was penetratingthe bolts on the Golden Gate Bridge. Let me close with one final, wonderful use--the favorite use in the State of New York--WD-40 protects the Statue of Liberty from the elements. No wonder they've had 50 successful years.
1. "Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." --Mark Twain
2. "We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle." --Winston Churchill
3. "A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." --George Bernard Shaw
7. "Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys." --P.J. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian
8. "Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else." --Frederic Bastiat, French Economist (1801-1850)
9. "Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it." -- Ronald Reagan (1986)
10. I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts." --Will Rogers
Darwin Awards For 2003
When his 38-caliber revolver failed to fire at his intended victim during a holdup in Long Beach, California, would be robber James Elliot did something that can only inspire wonder. He peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it worked.....
The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked into a Burger King in Ypsilanti, Michigan, at 5 a.m., flashed a gun, and demanded cash. The clerk turned him down because he said he couldn't open the cash register without a food order. When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk said they weren't available for breakfast. The man, frustrated, walked away.
A 5-STAR STUPIDITY AWARD WINNER! When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motor home parked on a Seattle street, he got much more than he bargained for. Police arrived at the scene to find a very sick man curled up next to a motor home near spilled sewage. A police spokesman said that the man admitted to trying to steal gasoline and plugged his siphon hose into the motor home's sewage tank by mistake. The owner of the vehicle declined to press charges, saying that it was the best laugh he'd ever had
True Or False
Can you guess which of the following are true and which are false?
They are all true...now go back and think about #12.
Light And Dark
From Chapter 3
So many theories have been re-written since the advent of the computer and transmission studies of light handling in fiber optics and lasers. Have you heard about the revised theory on dark transmission? For years it was believed that electric light bulbs emitted light. Recent studies have proven otherwise. It has been proven that these devices should be renamed "dark suckers".
The dark sucker theory proves:
The basis of the dark sucker theory is that electric light bulbs suck dark. Take for example, the dark suckers in the room where you are. There is much less dark right next to them than there is elsewhere.
The larger the dark sucker, the greater is its capacity to suck dark. Dark suckers in a parking lot have a much greater capacity than the ones in this room. As with all things, dark suckers don't last forever. Once they are full of dark, they can no longer suck. This is proven by the black spot on a full dark sucker. Spent fluorescent dark suckers turn black along the bottom of the tube as well. A candle is a primitive form of a dark sucker. A new candle has a white wick. You will notice after its first use, the wick will turn black. This is caused by the dark that enters the candle through the wick. A match is another primitive form. After being struck the entire head of the match turns black as it captures the dark. Notice that if you hold a pencil next to the wick of an operating candle, the tip will turn black because it got in the way of the dark entering the candle! However, these primitive dark suckers have a very limited range. There are also portable dark suckers. The bulbs in these units can't handle all of the dark by themselves, so they are aided by a dark storage unit. When these dark storage units are full, they must either be emptied of dark, or replaced before the portable dark suckers can operate again.
We said that dark had mass. When dark goes into a dark sucker, friction from this action generates heat. Therefore, it is wise not to touch an operating dark sucker. Candles pose a special danger, since the dark must enter the candle through a solid wick rather than through clear glass. This generates a great amount of heat, making it dangerous to touch an operating candle. Dark is also heavier than light. If you swim just below the surface of a lake, you see a lot of light. If you slowly go deeper and deeper, you notice it gets slowly darker and darker. When you reach a depth of approximately fifty feet, you are in total darkness. This is because the heavier dark sinks to the bottom of the lake and the lighter light floats to the top. In addition, this process has been going on for eons, as evidenced by coal mines, where compressed dark is dug up and brought to the surface of the earth.
The immense power of dark can be used to men's advantage. We can collect the dark that has settled to the bottom of lakes and push it through turbines, which generate electricity, then helps to push the dark into the ocean where it may be safely stored. Prior to turbines, it was much more difficult to get the dark trapped in rivers and lakes safely into the ocean. The native Americans recognized this problem, and tried to solve it. When on a river in a canoe traveling the same direction as the flow of dark, they would paddle slowly, so as not to disturb the flow of dark. When they traveled against the flow of dark, they paddled quickly, to help push the dark along its way. Later, compressed dark in the form of coal, helped spark the industrial revolution. Man discovered that by mixing oxygen in the right proportions with this compressed dark, great amounts of heat were released for use in boilers to create steam power for engines and turbines! Finally, we must prove that dark is faster than light. If you were to stand in a room from which much of the dark had been removed, in front of a closed dark closet, then slowly open the closet door, you would see the light slowly enter the closet; but since dark is so fast, you would not be able to see the dark leave the closet! Many refinements have assisted in the collection of dark by dark suckers in recent years. The fluorescent tube is able to store vastly greater amounts of dark than the original dark sucker bulb, obviously from its greater volume. The quarts dark sucker (name derived from the equivalent volume ratio to the standard 40W bulb) increased the capacity of lightness in many TV studios by decreasing the resistance of dark entering the envelope of that dark sucker to less than that of Silicon Dioxide (SIO 2). The solid state laser tremendously increased the amount of dark that could be removed by such a small device, by reducing the friction of the dark entering that dark sucker and its ability to store the dark in miles and miles of fiber optic tubing. Though powerful, unfortunately it only removes dark from a very small area at a time, however, great strides in digital transmission have been made by multiplexing dark and light together in useful encoding schemes in the laser, then pushing it into fiber optics - a tremendous improvement over microwave transmission since it is protected from environmental effects.
I must also speak of the great danger that can occur from the misuse of dark and dark suckers. When dark escapes from proper containment, and combines with oxygen in an interface known as "fire" which can result from the unrestrained combination of the two. Untended candles have resulted in many homes being reduced to a pile of dark rubble. Children playing with matches is another cause of this same phenomenon. Even misuse of electric spot and quarts dark suckers, such as when they fall against combustible materials can cause enormous ruin. Spontaneous dark sucking can occur in thunder storms, in which great bolts of dark suck crash out of clouds, and attract dark with such force that trees are split asunder. Sometimes the unplanned combination with oxygen causes an uncontrolled interface of dark and light known as "wild fire", causing great ruin of prairies, forests or anything else that gets in its way.
Please speak to your children against the misuse of this powerful force, and encourage your companies to provide certifiable training to your employees in the proper handling of dark and dark suckers! However, on the whole and in conclusion, proper use of controlled dark and dark suckers have made all of our lives so much easier, I dare say that the next time you look at an electric bulb, you will never think of it in quite the same way as before!
(Revised and updated from an article originally published in April 1989 SBE Short Circuits, furnished to me by Don Hogg.)
Garneth M. Harris
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