FCC OK's Separate Antennas For IBOC-FM
By Tom Smith
On March 17th, the FCC issued a notice allowing FM stations to use a separate antenna for their IBOC digital transmitters. The FCC placed a number of limitations on the use of a separate antenna. A station must used a licensed auxiliary antenna, the antenna must be at 70 to 100% of the height of the main antenna and it must be located within 3 seconds of longitude or latitude of the main antenna.
The FCC also ruled that interleaved antennas were allowable as long as the digital section of the antenna was licensed as an auxiliary antenna. An FM station could get Special Temporary Authority as long it met FCC criteria and has filed 10 days in advance of the beginning of digital operation.
The STA application would have to list the date the operation is to begin, ensure that the system meets Ibiquity's specifications, and list transmitter output for both analog and digital transmitters. They would also have to meet RF radiation exposure guidelines, state that the analog radiated power is not changed, that the antenna systems do not create any increase in spurious emissions, and give coordinates, elevations, and station file number for auxiliary antennas.
In a final ruling, the FCC said that dual feed antennas were legal and the dual input was considered another combining method.
From FCC Releases (www.fcc.gov)
Random Radio Thoughts
That is no longer the case. HD Radio™ is here and, at least to some degree, it works. At last count, over 280 radio stations encompassing more than 100 markets have licensed HD technology and have begun broadcasting in the hybrid digital mode or are in the process of converting. This represents more than 145 million listeners or almost two-thirds of the listening public. Production receivers, while expensive, are available on retailers' shelves. New, feature-rich models are being introduced regularly. Broadcasters are excited about HD Radio™, and broadcast equipment manufacturers are responding with products and technologies specifically designed to accommodate it. That seemed to be the overriding theme with the big exhibitors and speakers at this year's NAB Convention and Broadcast Engineering Conference.
One of the most exciting locales in the radio hall was the Broadcast Electronics booth, which arguably had the best location, right at the main entrance. The eye-catching display at the front corner of the BE booth featured the most exciting new products, all of which targeted HD Radio™. Taking a system-wide approach rather than the usual (wherein different divisions of the company develop products largely in a vacuum), BE has come up with a whole group of products that addresses the needs of the digital broadcaster from the source through the STL to the transmitter. The company has adapted its FSi10/ASi10 HD Radio™ generator into the XPi10, an HD Radio™ generator that is installed at the studio rather than at the transmitter. This allows all the various inputs - main and auxiliary stereo audio programs and numerous data streams (collectively called Advanced Application Services - AAS) - to be fed to the unit from the source right at the studio. The output is then sent to the transmitter site over a single, bidirectional wideband STL. To address this part of the equation, BE has developed the "Big Pipe", a 5.3 GHz STL system that offers a bidirectional pipe of up to 45 Mb/s. Stations operating boosters or synchronous sites can take the single output of the XPi10 and feed multiple sites, eliminating the need for HD signal generation at each individual site. My hat is off to BE for its forward thinking approach.
Nautel, at long last, has developed a line of linearized FM transmitters for HD Radio™. The model on display at the show was the "Virtuoso" V10, a 10 kW unit as its name implies. In combination with the "Maestro" M50 exciter and the NE HD generator, Nautel offers a great self-contained package that will allow FM stations to get on the air in the digital mode. The V10 (and soon the V5) can also be used in high-level combining situations.
Harris was showing its line of "eXtreme digital radio" products, including the Dexstar HD generator, its line of DAX AM transmitters and Z-HD FM transmitters.
One aspect of HD Radio™ that seems to be generating a lot of interest is Dolby® Digital 5.1 surround. HD has the capability of transmitting 5.1 surround, and this seems to be the "next level" for terrestrial broadcasters. Manufacturers responded by offering 5.1 broadcast mixers and other products.
A number of really excellent engineering papers were presented at the Broadcast Engineering Conference. One paper, presented by Phil Schmitt of Harris, described use of the old SSB "two-tone" test long used by ham operators to test the linearity of their transmitters to evaluate the linearity and bandwidth of AM transmitters for HD. A paper presented by David Maxson of Broadcast Signal Lab discussed the interference potential of hybrid HD transmissions. Ron Rackley, a well-known member of the AM "brain trust", presented an excellent paper on evaluating AM antennas for HD use.
In addition to papers on the various aspects of HD Radio™, there were some good regulatory sessions as well, including one that dealt with Broadcast Auxiliary Service issues. All the sessions that I sat in on were well attended. Some of the HD-related sessions were standing room only.
FCC HD News Last month, the FCC issued a Public Notice requesting comments on the use of digital AM transmissions during nighttime hours. The Public Notice is available online at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-04-1007A1.doc.
The NAB is behind this, its board having sent a letter to the FCC in early March requesting a lifting of the nighttime freeze. The NAB letter had some interesting things to say: "...some additional interference outside a station's protected contour is an acceptable tradeoff given the larger public interest benefits at stake"; "The tests and studies conducted by iBiquity demonstrated that the IBOC system can be expected to provide digital service at night to the core market served by existing analog AM broadcasts"; "...any interference... will occur at the edge of the coverage and is not expected to impact a station's core listenership"; and "...any impact from IBOC is restricted to the fringe area outside a station's Nighttime Interference Free Contour." The gist of the letter is that while the board recognizes there will most certainly be some interference caused to adjacent-channel stations, the dramatically improved audio quality from HD Radio™ service at night is well worth the resulting reductions in analog service. Further, they ask that the FCC deal with interference complaints on a case-by-case basis.
We have until the middle of next month to respond to this Public Notice with our comments, and I have been wrestling with what our position should be. While we generally want to see nighttime AM HD Radio™ authorized, we have some stations - particularly those on or adjacent to local channels - that might sustain some degree of harm from the adjacent-channel "hash" that will come with nighttime HD. Perhaps the best position to take is that of the NAB, recognizing that sooner or later, this thing is going to happen and to consider the improvements in audio quality to be the "greater good", for our stations and for others.
One thing that's unknown is what digital nighttime coverage areas will look like when AM HD proliferates. Will the digital nighttime coverage be less than, equal to or greater than the current nighttime interference-free coverage? I haven't heard any realistic answers to this question, because nobody really knows. The AM system is fairly robust, able to deal with adjacent-channel interference on one side or the other, but what happens on local channels like 1340 kHz where there is sure to be a high level of co-channel interference plus interference from strong regionals on either side? I suppose we will find out.
Late last month, the FCC released a "Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry" regarding Digital Audio Broadcasting Systems And Their Impact on the Terrestrial Radio Broadcast Service. In addition to resolving the nighttime issue, the FCC is looking to firm up the technical and operational rules as they pertain to or would be affected by digital transmissions. A whole host of issues is raised, from EAS and minimum operating schedule to power levels in the all-digital mode. It's a lot to think about, and again, we have until the middle of June to draft and submit our comments. This is a rare opportunity, as the rules drafted at this stage will affect us for decades to come. The entire release is available online at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-246150A1.doc
The station has a surprisingly good signal in the Denver metro area. It is full-quieting in stereo on my Bose Wave Radio in my office near downtown. The station is being identified as "Denver's newest radio station, Jack-FM".
One thing is clear... none of the three stations were coordinated with the U.S. as required by the 1986 U.S. - Mexican Agreement. A Copps aid said, "We want those stations to power down while we figure this out." I'm wondering, along with a lot of other people who have been adversely affected by the interference, what the FCC will do if the Mexican stations don't go away. I vote that we eliminate protections to all Mexican class As and let U.S. stations operating on Mexican clear channels to crank up their nighttime power to whatever level will fully protect all domestic stations without regard to Mexican As. Crawford owns two AMs in Denver that operate on Mexican clears. I'd love to crank them up at night.
If you have news you would like to share with the Denver radio engineering community, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ka-Band Satellite Technology
Ka-Band satellites are the next generation of satellite technology that will compete for cable operator's subscribers in the next coming years. Ka-Band technologies will be able to provide 2-way broadband and TV interactive services, including both pay-per-view and video on demand more efficiently and economically than today's satellite technologies. Later this year, Wildblue Communications will begin to operate its broadband service via Ka-Band satellite, leveraging the cable industry based DOCSIS technology. Also SES Global has recently announced its plans to launch a Ka-Band interactive service called Satmode. Although Ka-Band is more susceptible to rain fade and other atmosphere interference, its high frequencies allow for smaller, more economical antennas to be used. Small antennas provide better usage of spot-beam antennas on the satellite and thus better frequency re-utilization than current C/Ku Band technologies. In addition, high order channel coding techniques, such as 8PSK or 16PSK could be used on a new Ka-Band service, providing greater information throughput per bandwidth. There has even been discussion from Cisco Systems regarding implementation of a Layer 2/3 switch or router within the satellite payload to provide packet base switching or routing from space. In other words, this would mean better bandwidth utilization and capacity at a lower cost than today's satellite technologies - imagine having a CMTS in space! I believe that Ka-Band satellite will become vital technology for both cable and DTH industries. These Ka-Band providers will work to erode the telephone, cable, and DTH subscriber bases by providing customers with yet another source of broadband and interactive service in the next few years.
Broadcast Auxiliary Service FCC Form 601 Tutorial
By Mike Wenglar, KVUE-TV Austin
I get a lot of questions regarding completion of FCC Form 601 as well as the FCC changes to the frequency coordination process for the Broadcast Auxiliary Services (BAS). I hope I can clear some things up and make life a little simpler for you when dealing with new or modifications of licenses which fall in the BAS. Much of the discussion fall under Part 74 of the FCC rules which applies to BAS. Much of this information is available at www.fcc.gov, but what I have written here is a synopsis of what they say, so you don't have to spend hours like I did researching this so I had the correct facts!
FCC Form 601
The main form which is used when starting from scratch is 26 pages and you have to decide which schedule you will need, i.e. Schedule D, "Station Locations and Antenna Structures" (7 pages), Schedule H, "Private land Mobile and Land Mobile Broadcast Auxiliary Radio Service", (9pages) or Schedule I, "Fixed Microwave and Microwave Broadcast Auxiliary Services." (23 pages). A variance of these would be needed if you are merely modifying a service.
The instructions for the FCC Form 601 is 102 pages of good reading! Many brave operators fill out these forms themselves and the larger broadcast groups pay attorneys to complete and even file the form. I like the latter....less painful!
All you have to do is provide the attorneys some technical data, and they do the rest. Don't forget to check that wireless filing fee for the service you applying for or modifying.
Broadcast Auxiliary Services
Broadcast Auxiliary Microwave Service is governed by Part 74 of Title 47 CFR.
Broadcast Auxiliary information for AM, FM or TV broadcast stations may be retrieved from ULS via the AM Query, FM Query, or the TV Query.
In the Report & Order to ET Docket 01-75, released November 13, 2002, the Commission adopted coordination procedures for fixed Aural Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) stations above 944 MHz and Television BAS stations above 2110 MHz under Part 74 of the rules. The rules adopted require all fixed stations in these bands to use the frequency coordination procedures of Section 101.103(d). Part 101 procedures require parties to coordinate their planned spectrum use with potentially affected parties prior to filing a license application for a new station, a major modification to an existing station, or a major amendment to a pending application.
Mobile BAS stations, fixed Aural BAS stations below 944 MHz and fixed Television BAS stations below 2110 MHz can utilize local coordination procedures which are administered by the Society of Broadcast Engineers.
Who should license the broadcast auxiliary relay? Generally, the end user should be the licensee. The broadcaster, LPTV or translator licensee should apply and become the licensee for the relay, even if the relay transmitter is at the station of another broadcaster. Cable systems, however are not permitted to be a broadcast auxiliary licensee, so if the relay will feed a cable system, the broadcaster of the originating signal should license the relay.
Microwave frequency coordinators
For more information on how the certified frequency coordinator earns their money, see below for the section that explains the coordination process which is found under 101.103(d).
CFR 101.103 coordination process
To help you understand how the "certified" frequency coordinator earns their money, here is the section that explains the coordination process which is found under CFR 101.103(d).
(i) Coordination involves two separate elements: notification and response. Both or either may be oral or in written form. To be acceptable for filing, all applications and major technical amendments must certify that coordination, including response, has been completed. The names of the licensees, permittees and applicants with which coordination was accomplished must be specified. If such notice and/or response is oral, the party providing such notice or response must supply written documentation of the communication upon request; (ii) Notification must include relevant technical details of the proposal. At minimum, this should include, as applicable, the following: Applicant's name and address. Transmitting station name. Transmitting station coordinates. Frequencies and polarizations to be added, changed or deleted. Transmitting equipment type, its stability, actual output power, emission designator, and type of modulation (loading). Transmitting antenna type(s), model, gain and, if required, a radiation pattern provided or certified by the manufacturer. Transmitting antenna center line height(s) above ground level and ground elevation above mean sea level. Receiving station name. Receiving station coordinates. Receiving antenna type(s), model, gain, and, if required, a radiation pattern provided or certified by the manufacturer. Receiving antenna center line height(s) above ground level and ground elevation above mean sea level. Path azimuth and distance. Estimated transmitter transmission line loss expressed in dB. Estimated receiver transmission line loss expressed in dB. For a system utilizing ATPC, maximum transmit power, coordinated transmit power, and nominal transmit power.
(ii) NOTE: The position location of antenna sites shall be determined to an accuracy of no less than 1-second in the horizontal dimensions (latitude and longitude) and ?1-meter in the vertical dimension (ground elevation) with respect to the National Spacial Reference System.
(iii) For transmitters employing digital modulation techniques, the notification should clearly identify the type of modulation. Upon request, additional details of the operating characteristics of the equipment must also be furnished;
(iv) Response to notification should be made as quickly as possible, even if no technical problems are anticipated. Any response to notification indicating potential interference must specify the technical details and must be provided to the applicant, in writing, within the 30-day notification period. Every reasonable effort should be made by all applicants, permittees and licensees to eliminate all problems and conflicts. If no response to notification is received within 30 days, the applicant will be deemed to have made reasonable efforts to coordinate and may file its application without a response;
(v) The 30-day notification period is calculated from the date of receipt by the applicant, permittee, or licensee being notified. If notification is by mail, this date may be ascertained by: (A) The return receipt on certified mail;
(B) The enclosure of a card to be dated and returned by the recipient; or
(C) A conservative estimate of the time required for the mail to reach its destination. In the last case, the estimated date when the 30-day period would expire should be stated in the notification.
(vi) An expedited prior coordination period (less than 30 days) may be requested when deemed necessary by a notifying party. The coordination notice should be identified as ''expedited'' and the requested response date should be clearly indicated. However, circumstances preventing a timely response from the receiving party should be accommodated accordingly. It is the responsibility of the notifying party to receive written concurrence (or verbal, with written to follow) from affected parties or their coordination representatives. (vii) All technical problems that come to light during coordination must be resolved unless a statement is included with the application to the effect that the applicant is unable or unwilling to resolve the conflict and briefly the reason therefore;
(viii) Where a number of technical changes become necessary for a system during the course of coordination, an attempt should be made to minimize the number of separate notifications for these changes. Where the changes are incorporated into a completely revised notice, the items that were changed from the previous notice should be identified. When changes are not numerous or complex, the party receiving the changed notification should make an effort to respond in less than 30 days. When the notifying party believes a shorter response time is reasonable and appropriate, it may be helpful for that party to so indicate in the notice and perhaps suggest a response date;
(ix) If, after coordination is successfully completed, it is determined that a subsequent change could have no impact on some parties receiving the original notification, these parties must be notified of the change and of the coordinator's opinion that no response is required;
(x) Applicants, permittees and licensees should supply to all other applicants, permittees and licensees within their areas of operations, the name, address and telephone number of their coordination representatives. Upon request from coordinating applicants, permittees and licensees, data and information concerning existing or proposed facilities and future growth plans in the area of interest should be furnished unless such request is unreasonable or would impose a significant burden in compilation;
(xi) Parties should keep other parties with whom they are coordinating advised of changes in plans for facilities previously coordinated. If applications have not been filed 6 months after coordination was initiated, parties may assume that such frequency use is no longer desired unless a second notification has been received within 10 days of the end of the 6 month period. Renewal notifications are to be sent to all originally notified parties, even if coordination has not been successfully completed with those parties; and
(xii) Any frequency reserved by a licensee for future use in the bands subject to this part must be released for use by another licensee, permittee or applicant upon a showing by the latter that it requires an additional frequency and cannot coordinate one that is not reserved for future use. (e) Where frequency conflicts arise between co-pending applications in the Private Operational Fixed Point-to-Point Microwave, Common Carrier Fixed Point-to-Point Microwave and Local Television Transmission Services, it is the obligation of the later filing applicant to amend his application to remove the conflict, unless it can make a showing that the conflict cannot be reasonably eliminated. Where a frequency conflict is not resolved and no showing is submitted as to why the conflict cannot be resolved, the Commission may grant the first filed application and dismiss the later filed application(s) after giving the later filing applicant(s) 30 days to respond to the proposed action.
I hope that this has helps you understand the FCC Form 601 just a little bit more as well as the coordination process. This article just scratches the surface, for there is a lot to it if you read the 102 pages of instructions plus all of the dockets relating to this subject.
I am, however, entrepreneurial and presently having discussions with the TurboTax people, Intuit, on a product I have already trademarked as "TurboLicense."
Choosing the proper PATH
By Steve Epstein
I am always amazed at how many users (both novice and experienced) have trouble with the path through a computer's directory structure. Before you jump to the conclusion that Windows has eliminated the need to understand this structure, remember that HTML is essentially based on command lines. Images, files and even URLs are all referenced using the path. Microsoft uses the backslash (\) to distinguish directories, while Unix uses the forward slash(/). For the most part, what follows applies to both OSs as long as the proper slash (front or back) is substituted.
The base, or root, of the directory tree is the /. Type the command "prompt $p$g" to display the current drive and path ($p) followed by the > symbol ($g) on an MS-DOS machine. The command "cd /" will take you to the root directory from anywhere on the drive. Typing "dir" will show all the directories and files in the current directory. All directories except the root will show a ".." directory, which is the parent directory of current directory. Typing "cd .." will take you one directory closer to the root (/). For instance if you were in the /shop/plans/assets/images directory and you typed "cd .." it would take you to the /shop/plans/assets directory. Typing it three more times would take you all the way to the root. If the assets directory mentioned above contained an images directory as well as a sounds directory, typing "cd ../sounds" would move you from the images directory to the sounds directory.
Commands used on the command line can vary based on where you are in the directory structure. The following commands all do the same thing; move the test.txt file from the images directory to the sounds directory. The first uses a full path and works from anywhere on the drive:
copy /shop/plans/assets/images/test.txt /shop/plans/assets/sounds
The next command will work from the images directory:
copy test.txt ../sounds
This command works from the sounds directory:
The previous command assumes the destination to be the current directory, while the second command assumes the file to be copied is in the current directory.
Although similar, *nix machines have a few "gotchas" to be aware of. With DOS, if you cd to a directory, you can start any program in that directory simply by typing the program name and "enter". With *nix, only programs found in the path will start. To start a program that is not in the path, either type the full path (starting with the "/") or type ./program name. If you have a lot of programs in a directory outside of the path, consider adding that directory to the path. For safety, never make "." (the current directory) path of the system administrator's (root's) path. Something else to be aware of on a *nix machine is the lack of drive letters. Everything is located on a single directory tree. Individual drives or partitions are mapped to directories through the "mount" command. "Mount" is too much to cover here, but will be covered in an upcoming column.
Gaining a good understanding of the drive structure and using the command line can typically make troubleshooting easier and faster on any computer-based system.
Featuring News, Rumors and Views
FINALLY. I think that Spring is actually on the way. Buds, Blossoms and grass to mow! Another sure sign of Spring was our annual trek to the Mike and Key Club Flea Market at the Puyallup Fairgrounds, the 23rd year for this event. I saw a lot of Broadcasters there this year. In fact, Ben Dawson even put in an appearance. Jack Barnes, soon to be ex-KOMO, was there with 50 some days to go. I don’t know what it is, but a lot of my friends seem to be near retirement age. Something going on here!
If you have a Ham license or not, you may well enjoy these events around the Northwest. The biggest Flea Market is certainly the Puyallup event, but the others make for an enjoyable trip and an opportunity to meet old friends and make some new ones. Here’s a list of a few in our area. (If you need address info, drop me an email.)
April 3 - Inland Northwest Hamfest and Computer Show - St Ann’s Parish Hall, Spokane
April 17 - Yakima Hamfest - Selah Civic Center, Selah
June 18-20 -SeaPac NW Division Ham Convention- Convention Center, Seaside,Ore. Aug 14 - Radio Club of Tacoma Hamfest - Bethel High School, Spanaway
Sept 25 - Spokane Hamfest - University High School, Spokane
Oct 9 - North Kitsap Hamfest and Swapmeet - Kitsap County Fairgrounds, Bremerton/Silverdale
Nov 13 - Mt Baker Amateur Radio Club Flea Market - NW Wash. Fairgrounds, Lynden.
A bit of a job change for John Price and yours-truly... with Marty Hadfield (VP of Engineering) dividing up some of his chores. In this change John and I each have a number of markets around the country that we will be working with. Result, more work, more travel and some great opportunities.
Things appear to continue to be bleak over at the Fisher store with the announcement that a number are being given the pink slip. The reason given in one of the local papers was financial restructuring. Some have laid the blame for some of this on the very high price paid for broadcast rights to the Mariners. Whatever is going on it’s not good when any local company is forced to lay off staff to make ends meet. In the meantime I understand they have hired a new radio Chief.
George Bisso wanted you to all know that someone stole the antennas from his vehicle the other day while he was watching a movie. I reminded him that I had two car radios stolen in the same manner. Thieves love movie theatre and church parking lots.
Lots of SBE related things at the NAB event in Las Vegas - Here is a quick list:
(LVCC =Las Vegas Convention Center; LVH = Las Vegas Hilton)
Sat. April 17
Sun. April 18
Mon. April 19
Tues. April 20
And don’t forget the Amateur Radio Reception, Wed evening at 6 PM in the LVH.
One of the big stories this past month has been the FCC’s crackdown on indecency. A parade of Broadcast Execs has been talking to members of congress. Janet’s breast, the Love Sponge, etc., have apparently been the straw that broke the camel’s back... even long-time ‘potty-mouth’ Howard Stern announced this week that he may pull the plug on his long-running morning show, acknowledging that he is losing the war. A couple of thoughts have come to mind here: 1) Will the FCC actually take the time to set out CLEAR and easy to understand rules as to what is OK and what is not? We have to remember that for some the ‘F-word’ is vulgar and for others it’s an accepted part of speech. 2) Do we really want the government to tell Broadcasting what it can and cannot program? And 3) In the event that this continues, what are Broadcasters going to do to fill the time? Certainly the call for huge fines is cause for alarm, but so are fuzzy rules.
Happy Birthday to SBE. Your Society is now 40 years old. It all started with a gathering at the Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago back in 1964. Long before I got involved with SBE, I did not join until 1968! Look for this year’s membership meeting at NAB to be very special with honors going to those that started it all.
A number of us now have HD Radio installed in our vehicles and for the first time we are able to actually drive around and see what all this talk has been about. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, we are only able to listen to one station. The Infinity 106.1. HD Radio, very much like HD TV, is a great improvement with a very defined operating area. When it works its great! When it does not, it quits. Unlike TV, however, when the flow of digits is interrupted, the receiver reverts to FM and in those cases, a pretty noisy FM at that point. At the Entercom West Tiger ‘radio-factory’ there are seven more HD Radio transmitters installed waiting for something to transmit with. One of them is waiting for an FCC STA, the others are waiting for ERI to deliver the magical high-powered circulator...and waiting and waiting and waiting! I am most anxious to hear KING and KPLU in HD for the simple reason that they don’t play pre-distorted music. I do understand that HD Radios are available to consumers now at a number of local area car stereo type outlets. So far all the hype that we have read about concerning this new system seems to be true. Where multipath has historically made FM sound like a distorted mess HD sounds like an in-the-vehicle CD player.
We ought to be very happy that we are not working in Southern California where some new Mexican AM stations have started up causing massive amounts of co- and adjacent channel interference, some of it as far away as Denver. Three new ones are reported on 560, 780 and 920. This is certain to stress the relations across the border and give the FCC some additional headaches. You have to think that there are some big broadcasters with even bigger legal departments all over this one.
The Bates Technical College radio station has been sold. The 91.7 operation, most recently called KBTC, will become a part of the KEXP family and be named KXOT, providing that station with coverage of Tacoma and Pierce County for the first time. 91.7 was, for years, known as KTOY and broadcast from a tower on top of the Tacoma Vocational School at 11th and Yakima in Tacoma... that was until a very bad storm caused the tower to fall across 11th street early one morning. The station then moved its transmitting location to the Indian Hill tower very near the Pierce/King County line. With the changing of the name to Bates came the call letter shift to BTC.
Remember all the flack over LPFM and 3rd adjacent channel operation? Well the issue has been studied and studied and the jury has come back and reported that it’s not the problem that some felt it would be. Looks to me like we will be seeing more LPFM stations on the band as a result..
Work continues on our state’s Amber Alert system. The goal is to have a state-wide system with uniform parameters and controls. This is not an easy task to accomplish considering all the parties involved. Mark Allen of the WSAB is doing a great job rounding up the herd and getting them all moving in the right direction. Hopefully an announcement will be forthcoming. We do have this matter on the agenda for the Oct SBE Show here in Seattle. Stay tuned.
In order to accommodate some unique circumstances, the FCC has agreed to let a broadcaster in Nevada move from the traditional lowest channel on the FM band ( 88.1) to 87.9. The latter has long been a favorite for pirate radio stations.
I see where KGNW has applied for direct measurement of power. A sign that the 820/950 diplexing system is moving forward. In the event you did not notice the difference, KJR has officially joined the Vashon transmitter club. If you are keeping score, Vashon now has 1090, 1000, 950, 770, 710, 820 and 570 plus something on FM from time to time... and if you are close enough... some intermod products where you can listen to more than one at a time.
Speaking of Vashon: Entercom has been busy retrofitting its Vashon towers with LED tower lights. Spoke with Tom Pierson the other day (he can see the towers from his house) and he said the increase in brightness is amazing. Another thing that gives these things away is the fact that there is no illumination decay in their flash cycle. When they go off, it’s OFF! I will be doing our Cougar Mountain tower this summer; already the side lights on that tower are LEDs making them just about as bright as the big current hogging beacon. Now what to do with all the old beacons? My guess is that they will end up as garden decorations at the homes of broadcast engineers around the country.
An application has been filed for a 740 AM station in our area. The reference city is Redmond. The proposed operation will be 50 kW non-directional Daytime and 4.5 kW nights using four relatively short (65 Deg) towers. Transmitter site shown is North of Carnation. According to the FCC’s Website, the owners are listed as Pamplin Broadcasting Inc.
A lot of Hams and a bunch of Broadcasters are not very happy with the FCC’s decision to move ahead with what is known as BPL or Broadband over Power Lines, contending that this will be a giant source of interference. I have to wonder just what kind of data rate they will be able to use and whether or not it will be valid competition for Cable or DSL systems. Perhaps in rural areas, where DSL is not possible due to distances to the nearest CO and cable is not economically feasible, it may permit on-line services to the presently un-connected.
According to a recent survey, there are more Pirate stations in South Florida than anywhere. A friend of mine said there are more pirates on the air than licensed facilities...wonder if the FCC experiences high turn-over down there? That’s it for this month - See ya in the next issue
Clay, CPBE, K7CR
Letters to Clay
[Letters to the Editor or to the authors are encouraged. The Waveguide will publish edited versions as space permits.—The Editor.]
I noticed your item about Channel 13’s history. You’d mentioned Kelly Broadcasting purchased the station from Clover Park for $6.25 million in the late ’70s. I do remember the unsuccessful attempts KTVW-TV’s parent company, Blaidon Mutual Investors, had in selling the station after running it for only a little more than a year. They had purchased it from the McCaw family (remember them?;)) for about $1 million in 1972 and spent about $4 million to upgrade it to color and a competitive programming schedule. But Blaidon was woefully undercapitalized; the whole operation was highly leveraged (again, it sounds like something Craig McCaw would have approved). KTVW went bankrupt after two efforts to sell the station went unfulfilled — first Christian Broadcast Network entered into agreement for around $1 million and debt assumption, but the bankruptcy trustee disapproved it. Blaidon then attempted to sell it to a Long Island broadcaster but that, too, failed. When the company went belly-up, the station assets (essentially a small north Tacoma studio without equipment, a broadcast tower and a couple of acres of land) and license were put up for auction. Hard to believe today, but the winning bid by Clover Park School District was for $713,000. A bid by Clay Huntington and Stan Naccarato (I believe it was $673,000) came up short.
What did Channel 13 sell for a few years back when Tribune purchased it and its Sacramento sister station? In the $250 MILLION range?
Interesting stuff! I’d love to write a book about the colorful history of Channel 13 but not sure who’d buy it! It’d be fun to research and write, though.
DTV Receiver Card!
From SBE Chapter 54 – Tidewater
Saw a new PCI computer card at the MSTV meeting on 5/3, which can receive and decode both conventional NTSC and 18 formats of DTV (including HDTV). This was a prototype, but a finished, production-quality board, that is targeted for distribution this fall for about $300.00. This gives "early adopters" the opportunity to put together a HDTV receiver and monitor for less than $4000.00, at today's prices -- half the price of the conventional HDTV marketed by TV manufacturers. The computer "system" would include a 350mHz Pentium-type platform (about $800), a Compaq or Sony 16x10 format monitor (about $2.2k) and the TeraLogic DTV card (about $300). The board has a standard VGA D-connector, so it could feed any multi-scan monitor, including the larger plasma displays from Fujitsu and others!! The TeraLogic people indicated that the card would allow you to record the composite transport stream or the individual MPEG streams on your hard-drive, for later playback. See TeraLogic for more info! - (Bob)
By Tom Davis
"...We are experiencing technical difficulties...Please standby..." The last thing you want to hear is that your transmitter is creating some form of interference. Solving interference problems can be a time consuming headache. Here is a case study of a transmitter, which includes line termination and equalization test results that was causing trouble for the local Fire and Police Department communications.
KSVR is back on the air after experiencing transmitter problems, which shut down the station for a week. The station is purchasing a new transmitter, and repairing its older transmitter, so that this will never happen again. The station will now own a back-up transmitter in case of any future emergency of this kind. On Friday, January 31, KSVR went off the air (shut down) to investigate the possibility that our transmitter was somehow interfering with city and county government 2-way radio channels. After coordinating time to bring equipment and engineers to the transmitter site, and making numerous tests and adjustments, the problem was isolated to the transmitter processing board, which synthesizes the signals into a FM radio signal. Thinking the adjustments would resolve the problem, KSVR went back on the air Sunday afternoon, February 2, at 2:30pm. On Monday at 10am, KSVR recognized the interference was again occurring and again went off the air (shut down) and immediately began tests with a very sensitive monitoring and measuring instrument, a Motorola Spectrum Analyzer. Over the next few hours, KSVR was intermittently on and off the air while different tests and calculations were made. After a few hours of concentrated trouble-shooting, the transmitter was taken out of service for bench testing. KSVR did not own a back-up transmitter. Unfortunately, the manufacturer of the KSVR transmitter, Crown Broadcast, did not have a loaner unit to send while the transmitter was being repaired. They did offer to repair the transmitter in one day and return it. However, KSVR management was not convinced the repaired unit would resolve the problems that caused the transmitter to be shut down. So, the purchase of a different brand of transmitter was undertaken. The QEI Corporation, another manufacturer of transmitters, sent a loaner unit via overnight UPS delivery to help KSVR get back on the air right away. KSVR placed a purchase order for a new QEI transmitter, which will be delivered in 2-3 weeks. Until then, KSVR will use the loaner unit. Meanwhile, the Crown transmitter will be repaired and returned. Tektronix 11801A sampling oscilloscope tests equalization One of the tests performed was for equalization. In the isolated-bit waveforms pictured below display, various effects that arise from transmitter imperfections and package parasitics can be seen. The ``ripple'' in an otherwise quiet series of 0s, for example, is due to a slight mis-adjustment of On and Off clock overlap. Some overshoot is evident following an isolated bit (this overshoot contributes much of the amplitude noise in the pseudo-random bit patterns); this is caused by the LC tank circuits formed by the transmitter's output capacitance and bond-wire inductance, as confirmed by SPICE simulations. This effect is probably unavoidable in conventional packaging, but can be overcome almost entirely by terminating the transmitter as well as the receiver. Our future signaling chips will have both ends of the transmission line terminated.
A series of experiments were performed to demonstrate the effectiveness of equalization in overcoming the equalization of the transmission line. The measurements shown above (left-before equalization-right-after) were all performed with the transmitter driving a short PC-board transmission line, 1 meter of 30 gauge twisted pair, another short PC-board line, and a resistive terminator.
This first pair of waveforms on page seven results from isolated 1 and 0 bits superimposed on each other to create an ``eye'' diagram. Without the equalizer, there is no eye at all: the level of an isolated 1 bit is below that of the isolated zero bit. With equalization, the overall level signal level is reduced, but the data eye is clearly present.
The pair of waveforms (pictured below) shows a pseudorandom bit pattern, again with equalization both off (left) and on. Without equalization (left), there is no data eye at all. Equalization recovers a recognizable data eye, but attenuation in this 1m line is high enough that this probably represents the limit of the technique at its present state of development.
A second phenomenon that contributes significant noise is reflection off the capacitance at the receiver. These reflections are reflected again at the (high-impedance) transmitter, causing intersymbol interference at the receiver. Simulations suggest that on-chip transmitter termination will very effectively remove these reflections. Two design ``features'' of the transmitter also contributed to signaling problems. First, the transmitter has a clocked (On-clock) current tail transistor (this circuit structure was the only one we could find at the time that would deliver the necessary switching speed). When the Off-clock turns on, well in advance of the time when the DAC cell is supposed to transmit its data bit, charge is injected into the output from the common source node. In our signaling system, this effect introduces an unintentional signal onto the line at about 15% of the amplitude of the actual signal. Second and more seriously, the gating function within the filter changes the strength by completely turning off one or two of the three drivers in a DAC. The result is that, when equalization is turned on, the output signal is not truly differential. This has the unfortunate effect of sending a common-mode signal down the line, where various non-linearities transform the common-mode signal into a differential (noise) signal. A new transmitter design will take care of both of these problems.
The waveforms pictured in this story were captured with a Tektronix 11801A sampling oscilloscope. For most of these measurements, the 'scope was set in its infinite-persistence color-grading mode; pixels representing more common data points are assigned "hotter" colors with the most common points colored yellow. The oscilloscope screen was stored in a PPM file using a serial connection and software written for the purpose.
Because of the previously described problems with package-parasitic-induced noise, we were unable to test the receiver at 4Gb/s. We were, however, able to fully test its ability to acquire the framing sequence and to operate the LFSR checker at 2.5Gb/s. Because of various problems with the data transmitter, described above, bit-error rates were unacceptably high (about 10-4). Simulation suggests that the BER can be brought to acceptable levels with a redesigned transmitter.
Thanks to Ray Young at KSVR-FM, Mount Vernon, WA 98273 and Tektronix.com for this addition to the ENGINEERS TOOL BOX.
For questions /comments/submissions write to ENGTOOLBOX@MSN.COM
Amateur Radio News
By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
The FCC is seeking comment on three plans that would reshape the Amateur Radio Service licensing structure. Each Petition for Rule Making responds to World Radiocommunication Conference 2003 actions last summer that made changes to the International Radio Regulations. While differing substantially in some other aspects, the three petitions call for modifications at amateur radio's entry level and for a three-tiered license system. One petition goes beyond licensing structure to recommend additional changes to amateur testing and HF digital privileges. A fourth petition focuses solely on the Morse requirement.
In one petition, an "unincorporated grassroots organization" calling itself the Radio Amateur Foundation (RAF) has asked the FCC to scrap existing amateur radio question pools and start over from scratch, keeping the question pools out of the public domain and requiring a 10-day waiting period before retesting. The RAF has also asked the FCC to permit digital experimentation from 29.0 to 29.3 MHz at bandwidths of up to 15 kHz. Comments are due by April 24 on all four petitions.
A Broadband over Power Line (BPL) home demonstration in the Raleigh, North Carolina, area March 5 provided an opportunity for area amateurs to take their concerns about the technology to FCC Chairman Michael Powell face to face. While Gary Pearce, KN4AQ, says he only spent about 30 seconds with Powell at the demonstration, he did tell the chairman that amateurs believe BPL's interference potential has been understated and will prove more difficult to resolve than the FCC has suggested in its February BPL Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM). "What I didn't know when I talked to him," he added, "was that a question that we had sent to the local newspaper had been posed earlier in the day at a press conference about interference."
Powell had responded to the question by saying the FCC would not let BPL interfere with critical services, the Raleigh News & Observer reported. "The question is whether it does, and to what extent, and what limits can be placed to make sure it doesn't," Powell said. "We've been fully committed to only allowing things within the range of what we're convinced won't create impermissible interference." But Powell went on to say that if BPL can provide broadband access anywhere there's a power outlet, "We're not going to be easily dissuaded from doing something that has that much potential."
(Excerpts from the American Radio Relay League's www.arrl.org web site)
Observations from Chapter 40 – San Francisco
At NAB, a friend told me of running some radials using Longley Rice and finding that the predicted field went up when the transmitting center of radiation was lowered. There were also some counterintuitive results when the receive antenna height was lowered. I once thought that the height of optimism was predicting contours using the Part 73 method. Then I tried Longley-Rice and found just how conservative Part 73 actually was. All programs of this sort have certain limits and the results are often impacted by user specified parameters. Beware Garbage In to Gospel Out.
The current chapter 48 newsletter from Denver describes an effect produced by too many Mpeg encode and decode cycles of the same radio program. The clue is that the local break sounds just fine. Check it out at http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/news.asp
And The Bandwidth Played On
I was reminded of an experience I had with a T1 line by a friend who ran into the same thing with much more bandwidth. The terminal gear that lies between point A and point B is generally out of your control and there is no reason to believe that it has been optimized for your application. A T1 can be used for 24 telephone voice channels and, as such, the distribution of usage channel to channel is fairly soft. If you send MPEG video and audio using the entire bandwidth, the stress is considerably higher than it is for voice. The result might be that a very high error rate develops because one piece of gear in the chain can't handle the stress. The test for this is to seed a random number in one channel and cycle the number. Then do it to another channel and continue adding channels with this kind of activity until the error rate goes bad. None of the classic telco data circuit tests work as well. In fact the bad circuit will likely pass them all but this test it will flunk big time. Now let's try this with a much larger bandwidth circuit and stack a bunch of 4.4 MHz Mpeg signals into it and see what happens. If it's a dedicated circuit and there is access to the equipment in each leg, we can make it work. But if it goes onto the Internet, we may find that it works part of the time and fails most of the time.
The Commat is Born
Thanks to Chapter 124 – Portland
In a true meeting of old- and new-world technologies, Radio Currents Online for Feb 16-22, 2004 states that the "International Morse Code... is being updated" to include a code character for the "at sign" (@). In December, the ITU voted to make the character, which will be known as a COMMAT, consist of the signals for "A" (dot-dash) and "C" (dash-dot- dash- dot), with no space between them.
(Thanks to the CGC Communicator).
The End User
April 2004 Issue
As this month’s column goes to press, Microsoft’s three-year-old lawsuit against Lindows is on indefinite hold due to an appeal of a pre-trial motion relative to when the word "windows" became closely associated with Microsoft. Although the trial is on hold, Lindows isn’t— and the company recently released version 4.5 of its Linux-based desktop operating system. I acquired a copy, mainly out of curiosity as to how it stacks up against Windows.
Installing Lindows 4.5 (the "Laptop Edition" release) on a ThinkPad R31 was simple and straightforward. If you’re installing Lindows on a PC with an existing OS, a boot manager is automatically added to easily select between it and the existing OS.
No issues were encountered while installing Lindows, but it does take a lot longer to load than Windows XP, about three minutes from power-up to desktop.
Once loaded, Lindows works quite well. The Mozilla open-source web browser/e-mail client is included, and I was surfing the ‘net within seconds of opening it. OpenOffice is also standard equipment, providing many of the functions found in Microsoft Office. A PDF file printer is also included, enabling quick creation of Acrobat Reader-compatible documents from OpenOffice. Lindows also detected my wireless networking adapter and configured it without any snags, just as Windows XP did.
One intriguing (and at the same time irritating) feature of Lindows is its "Click-n-Run" warehouse. For a $50 annual fee, you have access to a library of over 1000 programs—some freeware, some shareware— all downloadable from a single Web site. What’s intriguing about "Click-n-Run" is that it will automatically install the programs you want - no more downloading, saving to disk and then installing (which can be a huge challenge with Linux). What’s irritating about CnR is if you decide not to subscribe to it, you’ll have to manually shut it down every time you start Lindows. Removing CnR from auto-running is a pretty simple (but not really intuitive) process.
So is Lindows a worthy competitor to Windows? Let’s look at a few possible scenarios:
If you’re really interested in a Linux-based desktop OS, Lindows clearly is the best choice, whether pre-installed or purchased separately. It’s easy to use for novices, and sophisticated enough that advanced Linux users won’t be disappointed. And its "Laptop Edition" adds many tweaks for optimizing mobile performance.
For budget-minded PC buyers, Lindows-preloaded PCs are available for as little as $200. The least-expensive Windows-preloaded PCs start around $350. Considering that Lindows includes an "office suite" and CD-burner program with the OS, that’s a great value.
Finally, if you’re an experienced Windows user, Lindows will feel very familiar. The main thing you’ll miss is the faster boot up and, of course, missing applications like Word, Excel, Outlook and other Windows applications. But you may get used to not having these programs; and that’s just what Lindows would like to see happen!
That’s it for April. Send your questions and comments to enduser "at" sbe16.org.*
This is based on U.S. & CDN info, so use all lobes of your brain. This can be more difficult than it looks - it just shows how little most of us really see!
There are 27 questions about things we see every day or have known about all our lives. How many can you get right?
These little simple questions are harder than you think-- it just shows you how little we pay attention to the commonplace things of life.
Put your thinking caps on. No cheating! No looking around! No getting out of your chair! No using anything on or in your desk or computer!
Can you beat 20?? (The average is 7) Write down your answers and check answers (on the bottom) AFTER completing all the questions.
REMEMBER - NO CHEATING!!!
Then, before you pass this on to your friends, change the number on the subject line to show many you got correct.
Forward to your friends and also back to the one who sent it to you.
LET'S JUST SEE HOW OBSERVANT YOU REALLY ARE. Here we go!
Answers coming up....
Don't look at answers below until you complete all the questions.
New Words For 2004
Essential additions for the workplace
BLAMESTORMING: Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.
SEAGULL MANAGER: A manager, who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.
ASSMOSIS: The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.
SALMON DAY: The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed and die in the end.
CUBE FARM: An office filled with cubicles.
PRAIRIE DOGGING: When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people's heads pop up over the walls to see what's going on.
MOUSE POTATO: The on-line, wired generation's answer to the couch potato.
SITCOMS: Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage. What yuppies turn into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids.
STRESS PUPPY: A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiney.
SWIPEOUT: An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because the magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.
XEROX SUBSIDY: Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one's workplace.
IRRITAINMENT: Entertainment and media spectacles that are annoying but you find yourself unable to stop watching them. The O.J. trials and Michael Jackson's affairs are examples.
PERCUSSIVE MAINTENANCE: The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it to work again.
ADMINISPHERE: The rarefied organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file. Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve.
404: Someone who's clueless. From the World Wide Web error message ":404 Not Found,": meaning that the requested document could not be located.
GENERICA: Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one is, such as fast food joints, strip malls, etc.
OHNOSECOND: That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you've just made a BIG mistake.
WOOFYS: Well Off Older Folks.
CROP DUSTING: Surreptitiously passing gas while passing thru a cube farm,then enjoying the sounds of dismay and disgust.
Garneth M. Harris
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Views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the official positions of the Societies, its officers, or its members. We regret, but are not liable for, any omissions or errors. The Denver SBE and SMPTE Newsletter is published approximately twelve times per year. It is prepared with a combination of text and graphic data. Submission deadline is 10 days before the last day of each month. Other SBE or SMPTE chapters are permitted to use excerpts if attributed to the original authors, sources, and/or the Denver SBE/SMPTE Newsletter.