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A monthly newsletter by Society of Broadcast Engineers Chapter 48

May 1998

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The April Meeting
Upcoming Events
Clay's Corner
Television Technicians - Are We Keeping Up?
Meet the New Clark Wire & Cable Sales Rep
What They Really Meant
Got Batteries?
SMPTE Publications
Job Postings


The April Meeting

The April 1998 meeting of Denver SBE Chapter 48 and Rocky Mountain SMPTE section was held on Wednesday, April 22 at the National Digital Television Center.

Following lunch and a brief business meeting chaired by SBE chapter chair Andre' Smith, the program got underway. Lots of conversation about high definition TV went on among the attendees, as everyone tried to figure out how and when "hi-def" will become a reality on a widespread scale.

Don't miss the May 20th gathering at Itelco. Complete information on how to get there is listed in the upcoming meeting summary. Hope to see you there!

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Wednesday - 20 May -- Itelco USA -- 4:00P 7575 West 103rd Ave. Suite 110, Westminster (North on 36, exit left 104th/Church Ranch, 1st street South of 36 past Amoco Station, turn right (West), first set of red brick buildings. Entertainment, education and food comes with tour. This is going to be a really good one, don't miss it!

Thursday - 21 May - SCTE "Return Path" Seminar at NCTI, 801 W. Mineral, Littleton. Tom Prichard of Hewlett Packard presents... Session repeated Morning and Afternoon, Lunch in between. $15.00 Preregistration desired... Pat Kear 303-662-2256

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

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!

16 July -- SCTE TBA

Wednesday - 22 July -- Lookout Mountain Picnic - 4th 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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Clay's Corner

Chapter 16, Seattle

The big story in this last month is the great personnel shuffle...

The Headline Story has to be the departure of Jim Stevens from KLSY and Co. on the Eastside. Jim had become a fixture at the Sandusky operation in Bellevue with about 23+ years. The official word is that Jim has retired. With his famous stealth camper and his boat I'm sure that we might not be seeing much of Mr. Stevens for a while. An ad was noted recently in a national publication for a chief engineer for the five station cluster. I wish them the best of luck in their quest to find someone to fill Jim's shoes.

With all this shuffling we have not solved the shortage of people problem in this industry. As I was searching for someone to fill one of the openings at Entercom I posted a message on the list server, Broadcast Net. I received a lot of e-mail from around the country on the subject. A few weeks later I received a call from Radio World asking me if I minded if they ran this in their publication. I said yes, and the phone has not stopped ringing. Some calls have been from people wanting to apply, and some from folks that have found themselves in the same boat -- no people. The major problem is finding people that actually know how things work and are able to repair them. I've received a number of calls from people that have no formal training in electronics... they have just "picked it up" along the way. These are people that know how to buy equipment and hook it up, but beyond buzz-words they are over their head. As we Grey Beards retire there are going to be a number of openings created. These openings are going to require not just buzz-word- experts but people who have the schooling that will enable them to understand the equipment of today and tomorrow.

Is pirate radio getting the message? Could be. And it could be that the FCC is starting to act like its old self telling the pirates to knock it off or they will. It's about time that the Commish took the gloves off before this cancer spreads to an extent that it cannot be controlled. This pirate problem has focused a lot of attention toward trying to get some sort of low Powered radio service going. One petition is asking for "Microradio" FM stations with one watt of power at fifty feet, others want more power, some want to operate stand-alone stations with rules similar to that for today's translators. The problem with all of this is that technical considerations are compromised or ignored.

The announcement that some of the major phone companies and other communications and computer biggies are going to jump headlong into the DSL business (Digital Subscriber Line) is enough to make one ponder. If DSL does what the proponents say it will the through-put of that old twisted pair is about to make a quantum leap.

WBZT in West Palm beach recently had their transmitter site vandalized. Not only did the bozos tear up some equipment, they tried to burn the building down. Some years ago someone broke into the transmitter at a station I was chief of. I went to the site and found that they had pulled the door, jamb and all, right out of the building. From that time forward my "typical" transmitter site construction was a bit beefier.

Did you hear the news? They are finally going to put the missing letters (Q and Z) on the Touch Tone dials. Apparently enough interest in spelling words for phone numbers has forced the change. This is really going to mess up those miniature DTMF encoders.

I received a call the other day from a fellow that had just installed a phone system in a new motel. He was picking up a radio station on all the phones, it was an AM station, he installed FM filters on all the stations and could not figure out what was wrong. Then he wanted me to come "repair" the problem.

What kind of business has been growing at 50% per year since 1994? That industry is the manufacture of VACUUM TUBES. According to Svetlanta, the US market for tubes are is over $100,000,000.00 per year... and growing! What's driving all of this? Is it the market for big ceramic tetrodes? Nope. It's the AUDIO market.

My friends, there is a message in this. In this day and age of digital everything, are we CREATING a sound that may not be what the listeners really want to hear? In our quest to increase the bandwidth, lower the distortion, better the rise time, and have a complete Ones and Zeros station we may be overlooking something very fundamental: what people like to listen to. I have often wondered just why it is that KBSG has been so very popular. Perhaps it's not just playing the music of the 60's. Perhaps it's because it was just about all recorded on analog tape recorders using studios that were 100% vacuum tubes.

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Television Technicians - Are We Keeping Up?

Mike Wenglar, VP/Engineering - KVUE TV

Remember those days when you could repair a piece of equipment with the most common of tools? Big circuit boards, a lot of point-to-point wiring. Most board and chassis components in the past had a little meat on the bone. You could get in there and dig around, attach a scope probe, unsolder a component with a 35 to 100 watt soldering iron, install the new component and you were a hero.

Today's equipment, however, is more sophisticated and compact. Tomorrow's equipment, if we look at the transformation of equipment over the years, will be even moreso. The circuits and designs are and will be more complicated. Most of the newer equipment, no matter what it is, uses some form of microprocessor or microcontroller to make all the equipment's decisions and other computations. The circuit boards are packed with surface mount components on both sides of the board and the board may contain many layers and can be just about any size or shape. The board I/O connectors are getting denser. Some of the SMT chip components are no larger than a fire ant. You would be amazed at the stuff you need to make repairs to this new breed of equipment.

Each component is a different size or shape, so you need a different tool or tip for each component. You must have tweezers, vacuum pick up devices, hot air devices and even if you have the most perfect vision, you are still going to need a magnifying hood or a light with a built-in magnifying glass to even see some of these tiny components. You need special solder and liquid flux, solder paste, a steady hand and a lot of patience.

There are a number of manufacturers that make this type of soldering/ desoldering equipment, including OK Industries, Weller and PACE Inc. They are not cheap if you need to address the many different types of components. Costs for a system that can do what we are faced with today can start at about $2,500 and go upward from there. Most of these companies offer training videotapes and sample boards to practice on before you attempt repairs on that $40,000 camera! PACE has been around the longest making soldering and de- soldering tools and probably has a better assortment of tools and accessories. Look to OK Industries and Weller for the smaller jobs where you don't need a lot of different solder and de-soldering accessories.

You will also need a certain amount of test equipment capable of troubleshooting the equipment before you start ripping off components (hopefully leaving the traces behind). You will probably need some form of digital scope with the proper bandwidth and sampling rate to look at some of those fast signals. Future equipment development is only going to get faster, so plan ahead when purchasing digital scopes. Most likely, a dual channel digital scope with a 400 MHz bandwidth and a 2gb/s sampling should hold you for a while. When purchasing scope accessories, don't forget special probes or "grabbers" you will need in connecting to those "fire ant" sized components. These little jewels are expensive, but are just about the only way to grasp a contact point and make a good connection to the tiny components.

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Meet the New Clark Wire & Cable Sales Rep

Clark Wire & Cable has appointed Larry Smith, Jr. to the position of Sles, based at their headquarters in Mundelein, Illinois. Smith brings to Clark 15 years of experience in the sales and marketing of specialized cable and electronic components. Before joining Clark, Smith held the position of Midwest Regional Sales Manager for Mohawk/CDT, Broadcast Cable Products Division. Clark Wire & Cable supplies top quality cabling and connectors to leading broadcasters, production and post production companies, and professional audio companies. Clark's number in Illinois is (800) CABLE-IT.

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What They Really Meant

Joe Mercer / Clay Freinwald - Chapter 16, Seattle

A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT APPROACHES ARE BEING TRIED (We are still guessing at this point)

PROGRAMMING'S SATISFACTION IS ASSURED. (We are so far behind schedule, they will take anything)

PRELIMINARY TESTS WERE INCONCLUSIVE (It blew up when we threw the switch)


THE ENTIRE PROJECT HAD TO BE ABANDONED (The only guy that understood it quit)

ALL NEW (No parts from the previous model will fit)

NETWORKABLE (We were once able to communicate with it)

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Got Batteries?

By Ron Foo / Chapter 36

I got to thinking about batteries the other day. It all started when the batteries in my UPS failed...during a remote! How about your UPS batteries? When was the last time they were changed? I have a sheet from some battery manufacturer--who it is I don't know. But this company says to change out the batteries every three years. "Yeah, right," you say to yourself. "They only want to sell batteries. Besides, I only need my UPS for a few seconds until the generator kicks in!." Let me tell you a sad story.

Here I am doing a remote for KGB during the St. Patrick's Day bash in the Gaslamp Quarter and ISDN box keeps resetting. It's not the power surges, but the lack of voltage! Seems they ran the entire event on a big diesel generator. the stage lights were run by this generator and when all of the stage lights came on, the voltage sagged to about 90 volts. Guess who was plugged into that generator? Me! My poor Comrex Nexus didn't like that at all! Out came a fully charged UPS (rated at 500 VA) with a Comrex Nexus that draws about 10 watts connected to it. During the brownout time it ran for about three minutes and then proceeded to die...from lack of battery power! When I got back to the shop I put it under a calibrated load (a light bulb) and the UPS failed after two minutes. It should have lasted for at least ten minutes. Sure enough, the gel cells were four years old. New gel cells installed and--guess what?--it performs like new.

Believe the battery manufacturer and check those batteries!

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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.

4:2:2 Digital Video: Background and Implementation Revised (l995)

Published 1995. A substantially revised edition of SMPTE's popular book published in 1989. This 1995 edition features 16 additional new papers from the SMPTE Journal, including papers on digital video coding standards, sampling frequency compatibility, concepts for the digital television studio, and integrating digital audio into the serial digital video signal. "4:2:2 Revised" provides technical advances and expands on the serial digital interface with new information on technology, implementation practices, and performance measurement. It provides further insight on all we have learned since the creation and implementation of the international component coding standard," said SMPTE President Stanley N. Baron, NBC, Inc. 256 pp., 8 1/2 x 11, Softbound Member Price: $30.00; Nonmember Price: $40.00 ISBN: 0-940690-26-8

137th SMPTE Conference Proceedings: Moving Images-Meeting the Challenges

Published 1995. A selected group of papers from the 137th SMPTE Technical Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, September 1995. Carrying the theme "Moving Images-Meeting the Challenges," the collection focuses on the changes surrounding the television, film, telecommunications, and motion-imaging disciplines. 496 pp., 5 l/2 x 8 l/2, Softbound Member Price: $30.00; Nonmember Price: $40.00 ISBN: 0-940690-27-6

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Job Postings

Program Administrator for Communications Engineering:
Manage all technical aspects of DU's School of Communication video production studio/video editing facilities and the digital media computer lab.

Required duties include installation, maintenance, repair, technical guidance/planning andtechnical assistance to communication video and computer faculty and students. Applicants should have strong communication and video/computer troubleshooting skills and demonstrated ability and willingness to be a self starter/self learner.

Send cover letter, resume and references to Mike Wirth, School of Communication, University of Denver, Denver, CO, 80208. Application deadline: May 29, 1998. Salary - Competitive.

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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.