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8VSB Seminar Coming in May

The February 2006 Meeting Report

Random Radio Thoughts

SBE Spring Membership Meeting

Candidates Sought For National Board

Cert Chat

Certification News

Over 1500 DTV Stations Are On The Air

Senate Bills Threaten TV Reception

Clay's Corner

Amateur Radio News

"Hello" Campaign To Put Friendly, Inviting Face On Amateur Radio

News From Softwright

The Closed Captioning Handbook Is All-Inclusive




April, 2006

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8VSB Seminar Coming in May

Friday, May 19, 2006
8:00 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.
University of Denver
Sturm Hall Room 251
2000 E. Asbury Avenue
Denver, CO 80208

For details download the event flyer and registration form: SBE48_Seminar_Flyer051906_v1.pdf
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The February 2006 Meeting Report

Rome Chelsi
Rocky Mtn. Section Chairman

Presenter: Mike Richardson - Director of Product Technologies for the Videotek Products/Leitch Technology Corporation Attendees: 125 Location: Starz Entertainment Group Denver

We wish to thank Ray Milius and Lonnie Scheele of the Starz Entertainment Group for hosting the Rocky Mtn. Section's February meeting:.

Testing High Definition Video Signals

Over 125 broadast professionals from the Rocky Mtn. Region attended our February meeting. Mike Richardson, Director of Product Development for Harris - Leitch Corporation provided an all day session on testing and monitoring high definition video. Mike discussed the basics of uncompressed high definition video signals, as well as the considerations and methods required to properly test and monitor them. Embedded data monitoring (such as embedded audio) was also covered as well as ways of monitoring various video signal parameters. Thanks to Harris-Leitch for their authoritative presentation.

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Random Radio Thoughts

Cris Alexander, CSRE
Crawford Broadcasting Company

Sirius Trouble
Over the past few months, I've heard from a number of folks around the country who have been surprised when their favorite FM station has been suddenly supplanted by Howard Stern. Sometimes the problem is there and gone within a few seconds, but other times it's there for the whole ride to work.

The source of this problem is certain Sirius auto receivers with built-in FM converters. These mini-FM mobile transmitters may not be Part 15 compliant, as they radiate for several hundred feet. In talking this issue over with other engineers, I have speculated that perhaps these devices couple into the car's external antenna when they connect into the antenna line, thus providing an external antenna that radiates pretty well. The Sportster and Starmate are the models that seem to be causing trouble.

If you pass a vehicle equipped with one of these units tuned to the frequency of the station you are listening to, the interruption should be momentary. Hopefully Stern won't be in the middle of a profanity-laced rant when your wife observes this phenomenon while taking the kids to school. But if you're unlucky enough to end up driving the morning rush on I-25 in the same pack as a vehicle equipped with one of these mobile transmitters, you will likely have to switch stations to get rid of the unwanted programming.

This problem is capturing the attention of engineers all over, and some are complaining to the FCC. One of the people I heard from is a Washington communications attorney whose client is complaining of interference to his non-comm station. If any of you observe interference to your stations, it might well be worthwhile for you to contact the FCC with a formal complaint.

Boston Acoustics
We waited for months and months for the Boston Acoustics Recepter Radio® HD to hit the shelves, and when it finally did late last year, the early reports were not too good. With a retail price of $500, the reported problems were especially ominous. I predicted that this radio would utterly fail and would disappear from the market entirely in a short time. Thankfully, I was wrong.

Boston Acoustics evidently listened to consumer complaints and got it right. Sensitivity problems were addressed as were the reported frequent "lock-ups" that required a power-cycle "reboot" to fix. And the latest news is that BA is now shipping the radios with a dipole FM antenna rather than the wire antenna that had been included.

I got my first BA about a month ago and so far, I am pleased with its performance. At $279 from Crutchfield, the price is about right in my opinion, below that of a Bose Wave radio and with similar acoustic performance (I have one of each, which makes the comparison easy).

The radio comes with a detached right channel speaker that can be separated from the main unit/left speaker for better stereo separation (try that with your Bose!). Like the Bose, it includes a credit card-size remote control that could probably use a little work (or maybe my fingers are just too big for its tiny bubble controls. The front panel includes volume/tuning knobs that also have push-to-select, allowing them to be used for other functions and menu selections. The tuning knob can be pushed in, for example, to select sources between AM, FM, presets and aux. This same knob is used to navigate the setup menu and select tonal quality, stereo mode and the like. The radio can be set up as a mono unit, with both channels routed to the integral left channel speaker if it is desired to use it as a bedside clock-radio, for example.

HD performance is very good. When tuned to an HD station, the HD symbol flashes in the display until a digital lock is obtained; at that point the symbol stops flashing and the station name is displayed. If PAD data is transmitted by the station, title and artist are displayed and scrolled on the three-line display. If a station is transmitting a multicast, a bracketed numeral flashes to the right of the callsign until a digital lock is obtained. At that point, the display shows the callsign-dash-number, e.g. "KBCO-FM-1" or "KBCO-FM-2." Multicasts are initially tuned by first dialing up the frequency and waiting for a digital lock, then turning the tuning encoder knob one click clockwise to select the multicast. The multicast can then be programmed as a preset and selected directly.

The only complaints I have about the unit are the blue fluorescent display, which is hard to see in bright light (an amber or white display would be better), and the intermittent remote control operation (which may just be my fat fingers). Overall, this is an excellent product that should go a long ways toward making HD Radio a success. Incidentally, we were able to open a commercial account with Crutchfield and obtain these units at a price about $20 below what the public can purchase them at. Contact John Scott at Crutchfield for more information. His email is Crutchfield has intermittent stock, but we've never had to wait longer than a week.

We're still waiting on the Radiosophy tabletops that are supposed to be roughly equivalent to the BA Recepter Radio® HDs. The last report we got was that they should be ready to ship in May.

That Time Again...
Yes, indeed, it's almost showtime again in Las Vegas! The 2006 NAB Convention and Broadcast Engineering Conference promises to be bigger than ever. This year's theme is "Immediate Future," evidently a reference to the here-and-now nature of HD Radio, HDTV and other emerging digital media. The conference schedule is filled with digital conversion topics, and I've just about got my dance card filled out.

I hope to see many of you on the show floor. You'll no doubt recognize me. I'll be the one limping around with sore feet after several days of wandering around the Las Vegas Convention Center. And if I don't tell you how I think I did on the AM DA Specialist exam, don't ask!

If you have news you would like to share with the Rocky Mountain radio engineering community, email me at

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SBE Spring Membership Meeting

The annual spring SBE Membership Meeting will be held Tuesday, April 25 from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm in S228 of the Las Vegas Convention Center. SBE will present its Lifetime Achievement Award to a deserving member. We'll also be recognizing the 30th anniversary of the SBE Program of Certification which will include a special token given to the first 250 SBE certified individuals attending, sponsored in part by Middle Atlantic Products. We will also recognize a number of our local chapter certification chairs and the National Certification Committee. There wil also be a special Membership Meeting memento for the first 100 members in attendance and a nice "bigger" prize that a lucky winner will take home. The Spring SBE Membership Meeting is sponsored by Microwave Radio Communications. We thank them for their support. Be sure to include the SBE Membership Meeting on your NAB convention schedule.

SBE will hold several other meetings during NAB2006 that may be of interest to you. (Located at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel unless otherwise indicated)

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Candidates Sought For National Board

The Nominations Committee of the Society of Broadcast Engineers is seeking qualified members to run for the national Board of Directors. Six of the twelve director positions on the Board, in addition to all four officer positions will be up for election this summer. All of the director positions are at-large positions.

To be eligible, candidates for national office must be Regular, Senior or Life members of SBE, or be the designated representative of a SBE Sustaining Member, in good standing and hold a current SBE engineering-level certification.

Directors serve terms of two years and are expected to attend two full meetings of the Board each year. Terms of officers are one year. Officers are expected to attend the two full meetings of the board plus two Executive Committee meetings.

Eligible members of the Society interested in running for office should contact any member of the Nominations Committee to express his or her interest:

Chairman: Ted Hand, CPBE
Jon Bennett, CPBE CBNT
Jeff Halapin, CTO
Denise Mastrullo

The deadline to contact the Nominations Committee is April 28. Those elected will be inducted into office during the SBE National Meetingon September 27, 2006.

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Cert Chat

SBE mailing list

At what point do the certifications start to address the other technologies we ALL cover now? AM, FM, RF, IBOC, audio and networking are great. What about streaming technologies, automation technologies and the host of other things we all deal with on a daily basis? We're all doing it all and doing more, is there a way to put a certification on the job we are doing today? Do the current certification levels adequately "certify" us in our whole job or just our specialties mentioned above? Should we look to the current certification levels to keep up with the technology of the job as a whole or specific portions of the job?

SBE President Chriss Scherer, CPBE CBNT responds:

The Program of Certification was set up so that the experience and knowledge that it covers can and will change as the technology changes. While Specialist Certifications have been added to address niche elements (AM directional, 8-VSB), the core four cover the broad elements that someone working at a station should know. For a radio guy, this include audio, RF, computers and other aspects. For TV, add video.

The questions used on any Certification exam are regularly reviewed by the National Certification Committee. This review ensures that new technologies are added, and old technologies are removed. For instance, 10 years ago there many question relating to tape machines. There are still some tape machine questions in use, but not as many as there were. Likewise, digital storage and networking questions are more common.

To answer your question, the Core Four certify you on your job, taking into account the various time experience of the individual. The Specialist Certifications were added to recognize skill in a particular area regardless of a time experience.

There are a few other levels that fall in between. The CBNT cover the computer and networking side. It is something of a Specialist, but because it stands alone (Specialist Certifications are attached to a host Certification), it is not considered a Specialist. The information covered by the CBNT is also being rolled into the Core Four.

The CEA and CEV (Certified Audio Engineer, Certified Video Engineer) also stand-alone, but they are the equivalent of the CBRE and CBTE without the RF or FCC elements. These are typically held by people involved in the production side.

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Certification News

Dates to Remember:
2006 Certification Application & Testing Deadlines



Test Date

March 3, 2006

NAB Las Vegas

March 3, 2006

April 21, 2006

Local Chapters

June 2-12, 2006

June 9, 2006

Local Chapters

August 11-21, 2006

September 22, 2006

Local Chapters

November 10-20, 2006

To raise the professional status of broadcast engineers by providing standards of professional competence in the practice of broadcasting engineering. To recognize those individuals who, by fulfilling the requirements of knowledge, experience, responsibility, and conduct, meet those standards of professional competence. To encourage broadcast engineers to continue their professional development.

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Over 1500 DTV Stations Are On The Air

As of March 4th, there were 1550 DTV stations in 211 markets providing programming. Over 99.98% of all US homes are in markets with at least one DTV signal on the air.

The National Association of Broadcasters maintains a list of DTV stations that are in operation. This can be found at the NAB web site (

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Senate Bills Threaten TV Reception

By Tom Smith
Madison Chapter 24

Two bills have been introduced in the U.S. Senate that could cause interference to off-the-air TV reception. Both these bills would require the FCC to allow unlicensed RF devices on open TV channels. Sen. George Allen (R-VA.) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) have introduced bill S-2327 with co-sponsors Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calf.). Their bill would require that the FCC complete its rulemaking proceeding of ET Docket No. 04-186 and issue a final order regarding white space in the matter of Unlicensed Operation in the TV broadcast Band within 180 days of the passage of the bill.

The bill would require the FCC to adopt the following conditions in the final order.

(1)Permit unlicensed, non-exclusive use of unassigned, non-licensed television broadcast channels between 54 MHz and 698 MHz.

(2)Establish technical guidelines and requirements for the offering of unlicensed service in such a band to protect incumbent licensed services and licensed services and licensees from harmful interference.

(3)Require unlicensed devices operating in such band to comply with existing certification processes.

The second bill was introduced by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and is bill S-2332. This bill is an amendment to the Communications Act of 1934 and is somewhat more detailed. The bill would make TV spectrum between 72 and 698 MHZ except channel 37 (608-614 MHz) available for use by unlicensed devices including wireless broadband devices.

The bill would require the FCC within 180 days after the bill's passage to "adopt minimal technical and device rules in ET Docket Nos. 02-380 and 04-186 to facilitate the robust and efficient use of the spectrum made available under section 342 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 342) by unlicensed devices, including wireless broadband devices."

The devices the FCC has proposed would allow fixed stations to operate with a transmitter power of one watt and a radiated power of four watts. Mobile units would operate with a power of 100 milliwatts.

The bill would require the FCC to establish rules and procedures to protect incumbent licensed services from interference from unlicensed devices, address complaints from licensed broadcast stations including verification in the field of actual harmful interference, and require manufactures of unlicensed devices that operate in the TV band to submit a plan to correct harmful interference "to the extent that harmful interference is found by the Commission which may include disabling or modifying the unlicensed devices remotely."

The unlicensed devices would have to be certified that they meet minimum technical criteria and that they can perform the requirements for remedying the interference, including remote disabling or modification.

Bill S-2327 is named the "Wireless Innovation Act of 2006" and bill S-2332 is called the "American Broadband Act For Communities".

These bills were endorsed in letters to Senators Allen and Steven by the Consumers Union. Also endorsing the FCC's rulemaking is the Technology CEO Council.

The Senators Allen, Kerry and Stevens stated in their press releases that these bills would expand the reach of broadband to areas were it is not presently available, such as rural areas. Senator Stevens quoted studies stating that there could be 150 MHz of spectrum available in Anchorage and Honolulu and up to 50 MHz available in Chicago and Boston. Senator Sununu, who holds a mechanical engineering degree, stated "Thankfully, advances in technology have eliminated any real claims of harmful interference by existing licenses in this spectrum band."

The FCC adopted ET Docket No. 04-189 on May 13, 2004 and released it on May 25, 2005. Nearly 400 comments were filed with the commentators falling in two camps, broadcasters stating potential interference problems and members of the computer industry and community which were looking for new spectrum for their latest wireless systems. There were mixed reactions by manufacturers that the use of unlicensed devices would work on the TV band. Manufacturers of RF equipment and their trade groups had mixed thoughts about unlicensed equipment in the TV broadcast band. They were for the approval of the use of unlicensed equipment, but had concerns about interference to TV reception and asked that the final rules provide for sufficient protection to broadcast reception.

Two FCC Commissioners also express concerns about TV reception interference. Commissioner and now FCC Chairman Kevin Martin express concern in both this docket and the earlier Docket No.02-380, which was an earlier inquiry in this matter. Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein also expressed concerns in his statement on Docket No. 04-186. Both Commissioners voted for the action to continue through the rulemaking process.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking can be found on the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technologies 2004 news archive on May 25, 2004. Information on this docket was also written up in the June 2004 SBE Chapter 24 Newsletter in the FCC Rulemaking column. Comments are available on the FCC Comments site. To find comments, just type in 04-186 in the upper left box of the comment search form and hit the search button. Charles Rhodes also covered the subject of unlicensed devices in the TV band in this column in the February 22nd issue of TV Technology.

From (U.S Congress Website) with additional information from Doug Lung's RF Report.

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Clay's Corner

Featuring News, Rumors and Views
From Usually Reliable and Irrefutable Sources

By Clay Freinwald
Chapter 16 - Seattle

On Jan 7 th I attended the SBE Executive Board meeting in Las Vegas ...Not a lot of earth shattering news to report here. I can tell you that the Society is solvent and doing well and moving forward on a number of fronts.

The next meeting of the BOD will be in Las Vegas , the Sunday during NAB. After that July 8 and 9 will be a Strategic Planning and Executive Board meeting in K.C. The planning meeting is going to be very interesting. I will have more on that later.

My major area of interest was the, about to be filed, comments with the FCC re: 04-296 and EAS. The FCC issued an R&O that brings into the EAS Satellite radio and TV and a number of other publicly-connected communications systems. The biggest change that impacts - us - is that EAS messages must be transmitted on all streams. This impacts HD Radio and TV. At least we now know what to do in this area. Along with the R&O the Commish issued a FNPRM asking a number of questions about where EAS should go from here....In response, SBE is telling them a lot - about 30 pages and 12,000 words worth. The formation of this response was handled by the SBE EAS Committee - all via email (quite a chore). After we got this all together I passed it on to Dane Ericksen, whose FCC Liaison Committee finetuned it for filing. BTW - You will find a copy of this work on the SBE website

Here are some of the highlights of SBE's EAS proposal -

  • Increased Federal coordination of the EAS effort
  • Bring warning originators into the EAS warning family
  • Federal level support for training and education and funding for it
  • Changing to a system of RF links between sources of EAS messages and those that provide the warnings to the public, expanded State and Local relay systems
  • Implement the CAP or Common Alert Protocol as the standard for distribution of EAS messages to public providers
  • Eliminate the Daisy Chain or the requirement that Broadcast Stations be relay devices
  • Require government entities to transmit to broadcasters a CAP-encoded text representation of the voice message that will ensure automatic accurate crawls
  • Require that receivers and set top boxes and certain other electronic receiving devices become warning appliances

The SBE is asking that the FCC take some bold steps to upgrade and make more viable our public warning system.

The next phase of SBE's work will be to carefully examine all the comments that are filed in this proceeding by others to see where there is common ground or differing opinions. From this will come our reply comments. There is a lot of work involved in this activity and if you'd like to be a part of the SBE EAS Committee, please do contact me directly.

Before I forget it - Feb 25 is the date set for the second EAS summit in Washington DC . I will likely be in attendance along with Don Miller of WSEM and Mark Allen of WSAB.

In the world of Radio there is no shortage of news. HD Radio is starting to make its move on a number of fronts. The announcement that a group of major broadcast owners have come together to promote the new mode was followed shortly after with an announcement that a considerable number of stations will rather quickly begin to broadcast a 2 nd channel of programming, effectively doubling the number of FM stations in many markets. These new HD2 channels will provide program choices generally not now available. Now that some 600 stations across the country are broadcasting HD and many more are on the way, the attention is focusing on the consumer. Around the Seattle area there are a few places you can purchase an HD car radio...but reports are that no one is buying. The Radio industry has one of its biggest challenges facing it in history.

Congratulations to David Filed, CEO of Entercom, on being named Radio Executive of the year and to Amador Bustos (Bustos Media) on being named to the NAB Radio Board.

From the 'do ya remember when' dept.....It was February of 1949 that RCA introduced the 45 rpm record. The little 7 inch gizmo's with the big hole. Suddenly everywhere you looked those little plastic changers were on display. For those of you that don't remember (or have not read about it) records back then were all either 10 or 12 inch and were revolved at 78 rpm. This started a revolution in broadcasting as well, spawning turntable changes and the necessity for those pesky little adaptors. It also started something new....The sound of a radio station starting a selection on the wrong speed.

Passing since we met last-- Lan Roberts, Legendary DJ of Seattle Radio during the rock and roll years. Lan worked on KJR and KOL. Also passing this past month was Bob Lindahl. It's likely that you did not know Bob as he was not on the air, but his contribution to our area should be noted. Bob was the engineer when the Kingsmen recorded Louie Louie!

As you all probably know, Howard Stern has moved to Sirius Satellite Radio. Apparently in some parts of the country this has moved some folks to restore Howard to the conventional air-waves by installing an unlicensed station (pirate) and feeding it with a Sat/Rx. Cost for the setup is about $1500. The FCC is not amused by this and is reportedly keeping a close watch. Thus far I've not heard of anyone doing this in the Seattle area.

Rumors continue to float about regarding the sale of ABC this writing they are only just that.

The Commish got involved with a tower fencing issue over in Ephrata at KULE. The AM facility apparently had a fence around their tower in poor repair. This ended up costing Butterfield Broadcasting some 7-Grand. Check out 73.49 of the rules to make sure that your stations towers are all in compliance.

I noted that at least one of the major retailers is now telling more in their ads about the new wide-screen sets they sell....Making it clear which ones have built-in tuners as well as stating their format. I noted in a recent print piece that they were all 720P. I get the feeling that the difference between 720P and 1080i is a mystery to most consumers.

Sorry to report that Greg Milnes, W7OZ, passed away in Mid December. Greg was the ARRL Division Director to the ARRL, the organization of Amateur Radio operators. On the subject of Ham Radio, time to mark the calendars - March 11 th is the date for the Mike and Key Club Flea Market at the Puyallup Fair Grounds.

Did I tell you that Walt Lowery is now selling Continental Transmitters in addition to Nautel?

KRWM is now using a new ERI antenna on what used to be the KUBE tower on Cougar Mt.

Sunday Jan 22 saw one of the biggest remotes in recent times in our city at Quest Field as the Seahawks got into a play-off game and Fox showed the game to the nation. The stats are interesting....200 employees, 25 cameras (including one that flies over the field), over 100 microphones, 50 miles of cable, 4 production trucks...Pretty impressive. On the radio side, KIRO was there doing their radio coverage as they do at all the games.

In closing I'm going to leave you with a geological item. In my travels around the country I am constantly being asked about Mt. St. Helens , where the common impression is that it has stopped erupting. Well not so quick. According to the USGS the eruption continues to ooze some 10 yards of fresh material into the crater every 3 seconds. That's 200 yards a minute, 12,000 yards/hour or 288,000 cubic yards per month. And all without a permit!

See ya next month..

Clay, K7CR, CPBE et al.

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Amateur Radio News

By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
Thanks to Chapter 24 - Madison

o Ham radio received positive mentions in post-Katrina reports from the US House of Representatives and the White House. References to the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS) and the HF digital e-mail system Winlink 2000 appear in "A Failure of Initiative"-the final report of the Select Bipartisan Committee to investigate the preparation for and response to Hurricane Katrina.

The report noted, "In Mississippi, FEMA dispatched Amateur Radio operators to hospitals, evacuation centers, and county EOCs to send emergency messaging 24 hours per day." Radio amateurs at airports in Texas and Louisiana "tracked evacuees and notified families of their whereabouts," while the Red Cross "deployed Amateur Radio volunteers at its 250 shelters and feeding stations, principally in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida."

The White House report, "The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned" released February 22 also cast Amateur Radio in a favorable light-in its Appendix B, "What Went Right," which cites specific reports in the general news media about Amateur Radio activities following Hurricane Katrina.

o A new American Radio Relay League public relations campaign set to launch this April will cast Amateur Radio in the light of the 21st century and focus on its universal appeal, even in today's already technology-rich society. At the same time, the "Hello" campaign will note the 100th anniversary of what many historians consider the first voice radio broadcast in 1906 by Reginald Fessenden.

"It is quite simply the largest PR campaign that ham radio has ever attempted," says ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager Allen Pitts, W1AGP. Built around the word "Hello," the coordinated campaign will set "a positive, upbeat tone that highlights the international capabilities of Amateur Radio," he explained.

The "Hello" campaign is designed to gain momentum as the year progresses. Components will include the release of public service announcements for use by radio and TV broadcasters and a video for meetings, presentations and even broadcast. Other highlights will include a "Hello" campaign Web site and special operating events. The high point of the "Hello" campaign will come in December on the centennial of Fessenden's first radio broadcast.

History recalls that the Canadian-born and educated Fessenden, using an early alternator, transmitted the first audio radio broadcast from his laboratory in Brant Rock, Massachusetts. Radio operators aboard ships at sea -tipped off in advance to be listening for something special- were astounded to hear Fessenden's broadcast that included the scientist and inventor playing "O Holy Night" on the violin and reading a Bible passage.

The campaign will show that despite the Internet and other technologies, the possibility of being able to talk with everyday people around the world and sometimes in exotic locales -coupled with the surprise, art and uncertainty of DXing- remains a major attraction for Amateur Radio. The "Hello" campaign also will take advantage of likely FCC action this year to drop the Morse code requirement at least for General class applicants.

(Excerpts from the American Radio Relay League's <> web site)

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"Hello" Campaign To Put Friendly, Inviting Face On Amateur Radio

(From The ARRL Letter, Vol. 25, No. 09, March 3, 2006)

A new ARRL public relations campaign set to launch this April will cast Amateur Radio in the light of the 21st century and focus on its universal appeal, even in today's already technology-rich society. At the same time, the "Hello" campaign will note the 100th anniversary of what many historians consider the first voice radio broadcast in 1906 by Reginald Fessenden.

"It is quite simply the largest PR campaign that ham radio has ever attempted," says ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager Allen Pitts W1AGP. Built around the word "Hello," the coordinated campaign will set "a positive, upbeat tone that highlights the international capabilities of Amateur Radio," he explained.

One aim of the "Hello" campaign will be to reframe Amateur Radio within a contemporary context. "ARRL President Joel Harrison W5ZN was correct in stating that the Main Street of today is not the same as the Main Street of yesteryear," Pitts went on to say. "To reach out today, the very first requirement is that Amateur Radio operators be perceived as friendly and trustworthy. That's a true public relations goal and the prime focus of the campaign."

Pitts says it's not helpful to lament the time in decades past when Amateur Radio grew pretty much on its own, without too much effort on the part of clubs and individuals. "Only our combined, effective action will do that today," Pitts says. "This campaign will give hams the tools they need to reach out in their communities to non-hams and influence their perception of Amateur Radio."

The national "Hello" campaign can bring curious people into contact with ham radio groups, but it will be up to local radio amateurs to make them truly welcome, Pitts maintains.

The "Hello" campaign is designed to gain momentum as the year progresses. Components will include the release of public service announcements for use by radio and TV broadcasters and a video for meetings, presentations and even broadcast. Other highlights will include a "Hello" campaign Web site and special operating events. The high point of the "Hello" campaign will come in December on the centennial of Fessenden's first radio broadcast.

History recalls that the Canadian-born and educated Fessenden, using an early alternator, transmitted the first audio radio broadcast from his laboratory in Brant Rock, Massachusetts. Radio operators aboard ships at sea--tipped off in advance to be listening for something special--were astounded to hear Fessenden's broadcast that included the scientist and inventor playing "O Holy Night" on the violin and reading a Bible passage.

The campaign will show that despite the Internet and other technologies, the possibility of being able to talk with everyday people around the world and sometimes in exotic locales--coupled with the surprise, art and uncertainty of DXing--remains a major attraction for Amateur Radio. The "Hello" campaign also will take advantage of likely FCC action this year to drop the Morse code requirement at least for General class applicants.

"We all say we want to make a change for the better for Amateur Radio and get others interested," Pitts said. "This is the time, this is the chance.

Stay tuned! More to come!"

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News From Softwright

For some time we have provided a module in TAP called the 3DDisplay Module. This allows you to plot topography in 3 dimensions. It's input file is created within the TAP Basic Mapping module and then plotted using the 3DDisplay Module. With the module you can rotate the graphic, scale the proportions and colorize the elevations. You may also download a US graphical image from the USGS website and drape that over the surface of the plot, showing the traditional topo map details. In addition, you can overlay predicted field strength calculated with one of the propagation modules in TAP.

We also introduced HDMapper as our new flexible presentation tool for coverage calculations. It uses ShapeFiles for layering of civil division, roads and many other databases.

We have released a great new feature for those of you on a current software maintenance subscription, who also have or purchase the 3DDisplay module. You can now quickly save the coverage as a ShapeFile. Then you can open the coverage file directly to display in 3D with both terrain and coverage and with the same thresholds and colors that you selected in HDMapper. The coverage is simply one additional layer that may be included on the 3D plot. This greatly facilitates the presentation of field strength maps in 3D for presentations to zoning boards and other regulatory agencies with whom you might need to work.

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The Closed Captioning Handbook Is All-Inclusive

By Vicki Kipp
Chapter 24

If you want to know just about anything and everything about closed captioning for broadcast, then the The Closed Captioning Handbook is the book for you. Author Gary D. Robson has compiled details on all areas of closed captioning in this 352-page paperback published in 2004.

Why Closed Captioning?

Robson begins by making the case for why content should be closed captioned. The first reason that comes to mind for most of us is that closed captioning makes content accessible to hearing impaired. Also, captions are a helpful tool in teaching literacy. Video can be captioned in multiple languages to broaden its reach. In addition to all of these accessibility reasons for captioning, then there is the legal requirement for broadcast television captions.


As the self-appointed captioning industry "chronicler," Gary Robson prepared a historic timeline of closed captioning development.

The Telecomm Act of 1996 called upon the FCC to mandate captions for broadcast television.

Although the FCC mandates broadcast captions and has a random audit policy, they rely mainly on consumer complaints for tracking broadcaster compliance.

Critiquing Closed Captioning: Translation and Transmission Rates

When a captioner covers an event, the incoming caption strokes are constantly tracked in a translation dictionary. A percentage is assigned to the captioning based on the number of entries that match dictionary words. Captioners with a 99% translation rate, or one translation error every 20 lines of captioning with five words to a row, are considered ready to caption on the air. Similar to a video game, the real time captioning software displays the translation rate on the screen so captioners can gage their performance. Captioners hit a milestone when they accomplish their first "hundred percent" translation.

Another factor in caption readability is the transmission rate at which captions are displayed for the viewer. According to a study by Carl Jensema called "Viewer Reaction to different Captioned Television Speeds," 145 words per minute (WMP) is a common preference for caption transmission rate.

Caption Conventions

While there is not a FCC standard for caption quality or an industry standard for caption presentation, there is a de facto reference for caption presentation. The federally-funded Caption Media Program (CMP) has reference for captioning of their own videos. CMP's "Caption Key: Guidelines and Preferred Techniques" details caption conventions. The guide is downloadable from

ALL CAPS versus Mixed Case

Captions have historically been entered in all uppercase. While capital letters may have been necessary with early character generators and caption decoders, this technology limitation disappeared long ago. People expect mixed case captioning for multimedia content. Some broadcast caption providers have recently switched to mixed case captions.

Verbatim versus Edited Captions

Is it okay to edit the dialogue when captioning in order to increase the reading speed and comprehension of the spoken word? It depends on who you ask.

The verbatim captioning crowd feels that there is no good reason to present less information to the deaf and hard of hearing viewers than hearing viewers receive. Verbatim supporters feel that captioning should provide equal access to communications, not partial access based on someone else's interpretation of what they need.

Those who support editing captions feel that paraphrasing increases accessibility without decreasing the amount of information portrayed, as long as the meaning of the captioning is preserved. On occasion, caption editing may be required for high burst speed dialogue (ex: talk shows) to accommodate the bandwidth limitations of line 21.

Broadcast Data Recovery Decoders

Broadcasters and multimedia developers who need to decode closed captions often use external decoders manufactured by EEG, Link Electronics, or Norpak. The Closed Captioning Handbook contains a list of decoder command codes that can be helpful for troubleshooting. Computer caption decoder cards include the ATI All-in-Wonder, the Adrienne PCI-21/RDR, and the Viewcast Osprey. The Osprey card has a cross-platform programming interface for custom development. For serious caption monitoring, the Norpak decoder and WHAZ-it software and line of data recovery cards can monitor dozens of channels at a time, logging the streams to an SQL database for analysis and for loss of captions, V-Chip data, XDS, station identification, and time of day packets.

Movie Theater Captions

The Closed Captioning Handbook has photos of various movie theater captioning systems. Special open caption showings of new releases are occasionally available. Scrolling text LED signs with captions have been poorly received in theaters. The National Center for Accessible Media's (NCAM) Rear Window Captioning, in which captions are reversed and displayed in bright LEDs from the theater back wall sign and patrons use a transparent reflector panel to view captions, could catch on.

Cinematic Captioning Systems has developed a similar system that uses a sign at the back of the theater and a mirror that clips on to the back of theater seats. Personal Captioning Systems, Inc. (PCS) uses a transmitter and wireless PocketPC PDA receiver called the Palm Captioning Display. PCS also sells a Clip-On Captioning Display that uses the same concept, but it clips on to the patron's glasses to send text through a prism suspended in front of the wearer's eye.

DTV Loophole

The Closed Captioning Handbook discusses DTV captions in depth. After implementation of the TDCA, it seemed safe to assume that all new televisions would be able to decode closed captions.

However, when television receivers began to split from the display device, as with computer receive cards or DTV set top boxes, the receivers were exempt from the TDCA because they did not have a display bigger than 13 inches-or any display at all. The FCC closed this loophole effective July 1, 2002 with Report and Order FCC-00-059 "Closed Captioning and Video Description of Video Programming, Implementation of Section 305 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Video Programming Accessibility." As a result, all DTV tuners in the US must meet minimum caption decoder requirements, regardless of whether they include a display device.

Preserving Captions When Encoding

While there is no mandate that requires captioning of videos, DVDs, media player files, or streaming media on the Internet, unless the content is provided by the Federal Government, media accessibility should be a priority in the digital domain as well. The FCC caption mandate applies only to broadcast programs.

However, the Rehabilitation Act of 1998, Section 508 mandates that training and informational videos developed or used by a [federal] government agency are accessible, both with captions and with audio description. Distance learning programs used by or funded by the Federal Government are also subject to the Act. Section 508 could be interpreted as a mandate for captioned multimedia presentations and fully accessible web sites.

There is software available to enable captioning of digital video files for DVDs and media players. Software is more likely to support broadcast-quality external hardware encoders than encoder cards because external hardware versions don't change as often as cards do.

Captions for DVD

When Japanese anime DVDs were released in America, they often had Japanese subtitles, but not English subtitles. While creating the initial captions for a program is a labor-intensive task, modifying captions is not. Using a DVD ripper, fan subtitlers ("fansubs") ripped the DVD, translated the text track dialog, and then burned a new DVD. Web sites distributed the fansub translations in file formats compatible with various DVD burners. Subtitling capability in DVD rippers and burners for home users was improved by the fansub community. Some applications import captions as SAMI, XML-like, or HTML-like formats that spare the user the tasks of rendering and generating TIFF files for DVD captions. The fansub culture fizzled out when new Japanese anime releases began including English subtitles. However, the DVD caption modification software tools remain available.

Captioning Media Player Files

Since no industry organization came forward to set a standard for streaming synchronized captions, each media player company developed their own standard. Microsoft developed SAMI. SMIL and RealText were developed by RealNetworks. Apple's QuickText formats work with SMIL files. Adobe Flash uses XML files and often requires users to download the HiCaption Viewer plugin. The separate formats mean that separate caption files must be prepared in order to caption for each major media player. Also, variations in each player's caption handling mean that a different process must be followed to make captions accessible in the respective media players.

On the upside, captions are displayed in their own area on a media player, instead of covering the video. Also, the appearance of captions can be customized more easily in a media player. The caveat is that content providers must select a widely available font in order to ensure that the selected font should be installed on the playback computer.


If you would like to learn more about any of the topics covered here, then The Closed Captioning Handbook is for you. Signed copies are available for purchase from

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Tips for 2006.... for all of you with any money left, be aware of the next expected mergers so that you can get in on the ground floor and make some BIG bucks.

1.) Hale Business Systems, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Fuller Brush, and W. R.Grace Co. will merge and become: Hale, Mary, Fuller, Grace.

2.) Polygram Records, Warner Bros., and Zesta Crackers join forces and become: Poly, Warner Cracker.

3.) 3M will merge with Goodyear and become: MMMGood.

4. Zippo Manufacturing, Audi Motors, Dofasco, and Dakota Mining will merge and become: ZipAudiDoDa.

5. FedEx is expected to join its major competitor, UPS, and become: FedUP.

6. Fairchild Electronics and Honeywell Computers will become: Fairwell Honeychild.

7. Grey Poupon and Docker Pants are expected to become: Poupon Pants.

8. Knotts Berry Farm and the National Organization of Women will become: Knott NOW!

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Newsletter Committee

Bill Harris
  (505) 767-6735

Garneth M. Harris

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