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A monthly newsletter by Society of Broadcast Engineers Chapter 48

April 1998

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The March Meeting
Chapter 48's Next Meeting
1998 SBE / SMPTE / SCTE Meeting Schedule
SBE/SMPTE Job Listings
Ice Wreaks Havoc In Portland
FCC Rules Against Telecom Companies
Airline Humor
Storms In Northwest Plague Broadcasters
SMPTE Publications
DTV Station Crashes Hospital Systems

The March Meeting

Our very brief meeting notes for this month come to us from the keyboard of Chapter 48 Vice/Program Chairman and Rocky Mountain SMPTE section Chairman Fred Baumgartner.

Five intrepid members of SBE/SMPTE in Denver made it to the March meeting despite the snow storm raging outside. Our speaker, however, barely made it out of Colorado Springs and in any case would never have made it over legendary snow trap Monument Pass. Given that, some discussion was had about rescheduling Barry Watts of Techniche next month. April, the NAB month, is traditionally a meeting free month. However, in this case it was determined to reschedule for Wednesday 22 April 1998.

And so we have. Be sure to join us on Wednesday, April 22 at the National Digital Television Center at 4100 East Dry Creek Road for lunch at 12:00 noon and business meeting and program from Barry Watts immediately following.

See you then and there!

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Chapter 48's Next Meeting...

...will be held on Wednesday, April 22, 1998. Note: this is the fourth Wednesday in April! Meeting location will be the Natinal Digital Television Center located at 4100 E. Dry Creek Road in Littleton. Lunch will start at 12:00 noon with the business and program segments starting around 12:30.

Mr. Barry Watts of Tekniche will join us to discuss "Studio Design for HDTV."

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FOURTH WEDNESDAY!! 22 April - Tekniche - Barry Watts, 12:00 Noon at NDTC. Studio Design for HDTV. Tekniche has a history of making some of the more advanced format converters, D/As, A/Ds and other digital interface and support products. Find out what is different between an SDTV and an HDTV studio. Business: SMPTE Nomination Committee formed, need SMPTE Volunteers.

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

10-13 June - Cable Tech Expo, SCTE show downtown draws 3000-5000 cable guys.

Wednesday - 17 June - Continental Transmitter Clinic -- Brett Brewer will present a lunch time program on transmitter maintenance and technology. It's been a while since we had a good old-fashioned RF program! 12:00 Noon at NDTC. Be there or be digital!

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

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

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SBE/SMPTE Job Postings

KUSA-TV in Denver is looking for an experienced maintenance technician. RF experience preferable. Please send resumes to David Boettcher, KUSA-TV 500 Speer Blvd., Denver 80203. No telephone calls please.

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

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

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

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Ed Williams, Chief Engineer, Fox 49 KPDX / Chapter 124

During the ice storm that struck Portland on the 11th and 12th of January, the KPDX tower site suffered the greatest damage in its history from falling ice. The ice storm, which brought the Portland area to a virtual standstill, deposited very thick ice on the upper reaches of the tower. Chunks measured after hitting the ground were up to five inches thick. During the evening of Monday, January 12th, the wind shifted around from the east to the south, blowing with gusts up to 30 mph, and the temperature at the site rose some 10 degrees in less than four hours. The combination of the wind and the warmth caused ice-shedding of unparalleled proportions.

Serious damage was done to KPDX's main eastbound 7 GHz microwave antenna. This antenna feeds the KPDX translators in Eastern and Central Oregon. Amazingly, even after the dish had been turned into what one engineer described as a "fortune cookie" the link was still active, and Eastern Oregon continued to receive a less than perfect, but fully watchable picture. It was discovered, however, that the fade margin of the link had been reduced somewhat.

Heavy damage also affected one of the building's large rooftop ice guards covering our transmitter's heat exchangers and some HVAC units. Lesser damage was also done to OPB's experimental DTV satellite receive antenna, several small ice guards, KPDX's main Fox satellite receive antenna, a tower side light, several small antennas, and several dozen feedline hangers, ice guard U-bolts, etc. The engineers on-site that evening, though a bit spooked, escaped without any dents or dings. A good thing, considering that even some of the smaller falling ice pieces would have had fatal effect upon impact with a human being.

Eyewitness descriptions of the falling ice pieces, however, read like 1940's war serials. Chunks the size of small cars were dropping from heights of nearly 1000 feet. Impacts could be felt through one's feet via the solid concrete floor on the ground level. One engineer on-site earlier in the day, before the ice shedding began, reported hearing "very unnatural" sounds coming from the tower itself.

We've had a pretty steady stream of calls from customers on the East Coast and in Canada with weather related antenna questions. Many lost antennas, and we've also been working with a couple that had their whole towers come down. Many have asked about additional radomes, or heating schemes for the driven elements for many antenna types, like our Paraflector, which many of you use for STL service. Mechanically, they can take a lot. Some detuning will occur, however, if the driven element is sufficiently iced up, especially in the 950 MHz band. We don't recommend heat tapes and such, because of their effect on the electrical properties. The one solution, especially as something you can do in the field, is a "Superhydrophobic" paint coating compound called Vellox. This material can be applied to almost any surface, such as satellite dish reflectors and conventional antennas. What it does is to prevent the water from clinging to the base material by breaking the surface tension. In effect, water just rolls off before it has a chance to freeze. It's a two coat application available in gallon cans. For more information contact Vellox in Lake Worth, FL, at 561-967-3011.

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FCC Rules Against Telcom Companies

Chapter 67

The FCC agreed to rules requiring telecommunications companies to obtain permission, either written, oral or electronic, before they can use customer records, calling patterns or other personal information to market new services to them. The rules will apply to telephone, cellular and paging companies and provides fines for violations. Although the industry was pushing for `negative permission' (which means the information could be used unless and until the customer told them no), but instead, the FCC put the burden on the companies, citing that customers should not have the burden of protecting their privacy. The long distance companies are complaining that the `Baby Bells' will have an unfair advantage because the information can be used (without permission) to market ancillary services such as Caller ID or additional phone lines.

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Airline Humor

Real stories from Flight Attendants apologizing for rough transport on the airlines.....

Upon landing hard, the pilot gets on the PA system, "Sorry folks for the hard landing. It wasn't the pilot's fault, and it wasn't the plane's fault. It was the asphalt."

An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers exited, give a smile, and a "Thanks for flying XYZ airline." He said that in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally everyone had gotten off except for this little old lady walking with a cane. She said, "Sonny, mind if I ask you a question?" "Why no Ma'am," said the pilot, "what is it?" The little old lady said, "Did we land or were we shot down?"

From a disgruntled Southwest Airlines employee.... "Welcome aboard Southwest Flight XXX, to YYY. To operate your seatbelt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seatbelt, and if you don't know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised. In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with two small children, decide now which one you love more. Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but they'll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, noboby loves you, or your money, more than Southwest Airlines."

United Airlines FA: "Ladies and Gentlemen, as you are all now painfully aware, our Captain has landed in Seattle. From all of us at United Airlines we'd like to thank you for flying with us today and please be very careful as you open the overhead bins as you may be killed by falling luggage that shifted during our so called "touch down."

About 5 or 6 years ago I was on an American Airlines flight into Amarillo, Texas, on a particularly windy and bumpy day. I could tell during the final that the Captain was really having to fight it, and after an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant came on the PA and announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Amarillo. Please remain in your seats with your seatbelts fastened while the Captain taxis what's left of our airplane to the gate!"

Another flight Attendant's comment on a less than perfect landing: "We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal."

Landing: a controlled mid-air collision with a planet.

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Chapter 124

In an opinion written by Leo Duguay, titled Reevaluating IBOC, Leo makes some very interesting points in relation to Canada's decision to choose the L-Band Eureka 147 system for its national DAB. The point is well made that at the time that our neighbors up north were evaluating the competing systems in 1994, the U.S.-led, "In Band On Channel" (IBOC) system was clearly inferior to the European-born Eureka 147. Times change, and things change. The IBOC consortium has scheduled an aggressive series of field testing this year that will hopefully lead to a roll out of a new service in the U.S. in 1999. The new revised system is reported to be clearly superior to the earlier version. While Eureka 147 may still be technically better, the practicality of IBOC may prove more acceptable. Much like Beta was reported to be better than VHS, but where are all the consumer Beta machines today?

IBOC's strength is its ability to be implemented by any existing AM or FM station using their present frequency spectrum to deliver CD quality sound, and without disrupting existing listening patterns. Broadcasters in small markets, or rural areas, are prime candidates for the relatively inexpensive transition to IBOC, which applies to most of Canada outside of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, where the first Eureka 147 DAB broadcasts will be rolled out. IBOC receivers are reported to be less expensive than L-Band Eureka units. The bottom line to Leo's comments is a clear second guessing of the direction that Canada is heading, and the suggestion that they may end up with a dual digital system. After all, what happens to your car radio at the border?

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Storms in Northwest Plaque Broadcasters

Portland Chapter 124

Kudos go out to Ken Broeffle and Stan Mak of ARS for allowing 89.9 KBPS-FM to use the spare input to their panel-antenna combiner, after falling ice put about 45 degrees of unwanted "beamtilt" into KBPS's horizontally polarized one-bay antenna during the mid-January ice storm. KOIN Channel 6 also loaned a length of 7/8" Heliax to the cause. KBPS-FM should be up with a new replacement antenna shortly after press-time. Some of the proudest moments of being a radio engineer can be when you can help out your fellow engineer-in-need. While not causing as widespread damage as some previous ice storms in recent years, this one had its share of excitement. Many area streets had the thickest and slickest coat of glare ice that I've ever witnessed.

Meanwhile, just a few miles north in Vancouver, the precipitation fell mostly as snow, piling up to a foot or more. Wisely, some 80 percent of Portland- area commuters stayed home. Even the mailman stayed away in many neighborhoods. If only we were so lucky! In Southwest Portland, a high voltage line dropped onto a 220 volt feeder, which apparently fried dozens of appliances and computers, and reportedly even shot flames from outlets. This was fairly close to the Ackerley tower, which experienced numerous outages, single phasing, and severe line surges. The master telephone system was toasted, and one low-power tenant lost about a dozen RF amplifiers.

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SMPTE Publications

How to Order: Credit card orders may be phoned or faxed. Phone: (914) 761-1100. Fax: (914) 761-3115. Libraries and booksellers may order at the member price. The discount per title for 5-49 copies is 25%; for 50 or more copies, 33.3%.

An important function of the SMPTE is to provide the industry with engineering documentation reflecting the significant changes taking place.

Standards for Advanced Television and High Definition Production with Supplemental Standards Including Ancillary Data Published 1996.

A 188-page volume of standards for advanced television and high-definition production parameters with supplemental standards including AES/EBU Audio and Auxiliary Data is now available from the Society.

The series of 13 documents includes:

Section 1: 1125/60 and digital representation, 1920x1080 both 60 and 50Hz, 720x483 active line with digital representation, 1280x720 scanning and interface.

Section 2: (Supplemental) Ancillary Data and Space Formatting, AES/EBU Audio & Auxiliary data, 10-Bit 4:2:2 Component, and ITU 601-4 Encoding Parameters.

If purchased individually, these documents would cost $220.00. Here they are available for $55.00 (members) and $65.00 (nonmembers). 188 pp., 8 1/2 x 11, Softbound Member Price: $55.00; Nonmember Price: $65.00

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DTV Station Crashes Hospital Systems

Chapter 67

Dallas' WFAA-TV 6 got the jump on the market by signing on with its DTV station on Channel 9 at 2:17 pm on February 27. They signed off the next Monday, however, when technicians at Baylor University Medical Center figured out that the new signal shutting was down their wireless telemetry units in the cardiac care section. By mid-March, WFAA-DT was still off the air waiting for the telemetry system to be re-crystalled. The system was using TV Channel 9 on a secondary license basis.

WFAA-DT went on the air with their 10Kw Harris Digital Platinum transmitter running at half its 10Kw rating into a temporary antenna side-mounted at the 900 foot level at approximately half the final ERP. They expected to resume broadcasting a high-definition signal originated from a tape playback at the transmitter building on March 13.

The Dallas Hospital Association called a meeting at their offices on March 11 to discuss what could be done to prevent future problems of the type Baylor, and other hospitals as it turns out, face as new DTV stations begin operating on previously unused channels. Attending were representatives of the FCC, the Food and Drug Administration, several area hospitals and three leading manufacturers of medical telemetry equipment, including Hewlett Packard. Hospitals requested a better alerting system for giving them warning far enough in advance so that they could convert their equipment before any lives were placed in danger. The FCC pointed out that the new construction permits are listed in the public notice section of their web page as they are issued. TV stations said that, because of their competitive environment, they are not usually eager to publicize their plans. It was finally agreed that a smaller working group would be set up to develop a mechanism for alerting users of vacant TV channels.

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Society of Broadcast Engineers
Chapter 48

2950 South Birch Street
Denver, Colorado 80222

SBE Officers

Andre' Smith (303) 871-4204

Fred Baumgartner (303) 486-3946

Bill Harris (303) 756-4843

Certification Chairman
Fred Baumgartner (303) 486-3946

SMPTE Officers

Fred Baumgartner (303) 486-3946

Rick Craddock (719) 634-2844

Myron Olinger
Dick Phannenstiel
George Sollenberger

SMPTE Govenor (National Liason)
Rome Chelsi

Newsletter Committee

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

Views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the official positions of the Society, its officers, or its members. We regret, but are not liable for, any omissions or errors. The Denver SBE & SMPTE Newsletter is published approximately twelve times per year. It is prepared with a combination of text and graphic data. Submission deadline is 10 days before the last day of each month. Other SBE chapters are permitted to use excerpts if attributed to the original authors, sources, and/or the Denver SBE Newsletter.