Rocky Mountain Section Meeting Report
Date: May 12, 2004
A May rain/snow storm kept our attendance down, however 20 members made it through Denver's traffic for our meeting held at KRMA PBS in Denver. Jim Schoedler, Director of Engineering hosted the session. Gomer Thomas, Senior Member of the Technical Staff ... Trivini Digital, provided an overview of datacasting technology describing encoding schemes, transmission, and reception. Gomer also discussed various market possibilities which segued to a business discussion from Peter Cresse, VP of Sales for Spectra Rep.
Peter described involvement of various successful commercial projects by Spectra Rep. Several projects were tailored for government emergency services and homeland security agencies. The technology is being used for both secured and non-secured data services.
Jim Schoedler has been actively involved in project consisting of protype tranmission of content to Denver Public Schools. Jim provided us with a video of the material presented in the successful pilot transmission. The datacast was part of a pilot project co-produced by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and Rocky Mountain PBS, reaching four schools in the Denver metro area and featuring live video and audio from a USGS lab at the Federal Center in Lakewood. Paleontologist Kirk Johnson displayed core samples, fossils and other results of the Museum's Denver Basin project, and answered questions that students phoned in to an audio conference bridge.
We thank Trivini Digital, Spectra Rep, and especially the fine folks at KRMA for their kindness and assistance in putting on this valuable program.
Not Too Late To Renew Membership
SBE members who did not renew their membership by the April 1 deadline may still do so and avoid having their membership dropped from the rolls .Renewal information was mailed in February. If you did not receive yours, if you've misplaced it, contact Angel Bates at the SBE National Office at (317) 846-9000 or email@example.com.
Education Committee Formed
SBE President Ray Benedict has announced the establishment of a new committee to address educational needs of members and others involved in the technical side of broadcasting. Benedict appointed former member of the Board, Fred Baumgartner, CPBE, CBNT to chair the new Education Committee. Baumgartner is Senior Systems Applications Engineer for Leitch Corporation and has held engineering positions at a number of television and radio stations during his career. He also is a Trustee of the Ennes Educational Foundation Trust. The Committee held its first meeting on April 18 during the NAB convention in Las Vegas. If you are interested in serving on the Education Committee, please contact Fred at KG0KI@arrl.net (kg zero ki).
Certification exam session dates for the rest of 2004 are listed below. Check the list for the exam period that is best for you. For more information about SBE Certification, contact Linda Baun, Certification Director at the SBE National Office at (317) 846-9000 or LBaun@sbe.org.
New fees are as follows:
New Certification Sample Test
New SBE designed certification sample test software is now available. The new software is Microsoft Windows-based and will replace the current DOS-based software. There is a new sample test available for Broadcast Technologist, Audio Engineer, Video Engineer and Broadcast Networking Technologist. New sample tests are also available for Broadcast Engineer and Senior Broadcast Engineer in both radio and television. Sample tests include 50 to 100 questions and indicate when an incorrect answer has been given as well as resources to learn more about a subject. The cost for each SBE CERTpreview practice test is $27 plus $3 shipping. Contact the National Office to order a copy.
Special Certification Presentations Coming
The SBE Certification Committee is encouraging each chapter to hold a Certification Night (or Day) as part of an upcoming chapter meeting. The objective is to encourage more members and others to become certified by removing any the perceived mysteries they may have. Though membership in SBE is always encouraged, you don't have to be a member of SBE to become certified.
A special Power Point presentation has been developed that explains the SBE Certification Program in an informative and comprehensive way. The Committee hopes that each chapter will schedule their special Certification Night between June 1 and December 31 of this year. A packet which contains the Power Point presentation, other helpful information and Certification applications is available to each chapter. Local Chapter Certification chairmen may contact the Certification Department at the National Office to request a packet.
Random Radio Thoughts
All that has changed in the wake of Janet Jackson's Superbowl bomb. The awareness has been raised, and added to the outcry from viewers/listeners who thought over-the-air broadcasts were "safe" is a certain political element. Congress has gotten involved in a big way, and it seems inevitable that sooner or later (most likely later, almost certainly not before the August recess), much tougher indecency penalties will be in place.
The challenge for broadcasters is maintaining that margin of "safety" in their on-air material. The obvious stuff ... on-air talent that walks right up to and then crosses over the line and telephone callers that let loose with a stream of profanity ... is fairly easy to predict and guard against. But what about the not-so-obvious stuff? For example, who would have thought that the funeral of American hero Pat Tillman would contain a fair amount of profanity? Believe it or not, Tillman's brother, during the eulogy, let loose with a number of profanities, including the "F-bomb". Perhaps this is understandable under the circumstances, but were the radio and television stations that carried the event live prepared? Evidently not.
Another source of objectionable material against which stations may need to guard is satellite-delivered syndicated programming. One would think that the syndicator would keep its own house clean and take care of any objectionable material before it hits the bird. In at least some cases, however, that isn't the case. I was listening to a Denver talk station last month and heard a caller let loose with a barrage of profanity, including the "F-bomb" (in this case, a hyphenated variation), during a nationally syndicated program. That really surprised me. Why wasn't that taken care of at the source? Good question. And does that mean that stations that air such programming need to have someone sitting at the switch all the time, listening to the live feed and ready to hit the "dump" button? Maybe so. At the very least, those who carry such programming should have a good understanding with the syndicator as to what will and won't be allowed.
Whatever the case, the station licensee is ultimately responsible for what goes out over the air on his station. If Congress does act on some variation of the $500,000-per-incident fine and three-strikes-you're-out policy, can we afford not to have someone sitting at the switch all the time? I think a lot of us will have to answer that question in the coming months.
As for me any my house… we're installing eight-second delays across the board nationally in all Crawford's talk stations or stations that air talk segments. We have also instituted a "no live caller" policy on our music stations. This will take some getting used to, but this is the world we live in.
One good thing about moving into the delay world is that propagation latency is no longer a factor. Once you've got an eight-second delay in the line, who cares if the processing and STL adds a few hundred milliseconds of additional latency? For that matter, who cares about the added seven or so seconds of delay in the analog signal introduced by the IBOC system? For us at CBC, those are no longer factors.
Up the Dial
The new daytime will be at the existing site, which is located on the banks of the South Platte River just off Weld County Road 6 north of Brighton. The three-tower DA will use the existing towers with no changes to their locations. The parameters and pattern will be considerably different, and this will allow us a good bit more punch toward metro Denver, the equivalent of almost 10 kW. For the nighttime facility, we will have to build two new 200-foot towers at the KLZ site to create a three-tower "dogleg" array (using KLZ's east tower as the center tower). The resulting pattern will put an interference-free contour over all of Brighton and over most of metro Denver as well. The RMS is in excess of 141 mV/m, so it is a fully-protected class B station.
The construction at the KLZ site will require a zoning change or variance ... the current operation is a "non-conforming existing use" ... so we're in the middle of that. While we would love to get this project done before the short days of December are upon us, that is unlikely. More likely is a spring 2005 completion. And I was wondering what Ed Dulaney and his crew were going to do to keep busy next year.
I haven't noticed any interference on 560 here in Denver in some time. We got word back in April that XEKTT reduced power to 4 kW at night. Whether or not this is true is anyone's guess. We will continue to monitor this situation closely.
The most recent was a trio of translator applications first-adjacent to one of our class C FMs in a community where we have a substantial audience. We were able to enlist our audience and put together some Arbitron data and file petitions to deny based on interference to our existing listeners, even though the translator would produce no interference within our 1 mV/m protected contour. All this is to say that each of your stations is subject to encroachment all the time. The only way you can protect them is to know what is being proposed and evaluate the proposals yourselves. The greatest threats are translators and LPFMs. I would encourage each of you to subscribe to a flag service and keep an eye on things.
If you have news you would like to share with the Denver radio engineering community, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Clay Freinwald
NOAA PERMITS EAS INTERCONNECT
E-Waste…The New Buzz In Our Landfill Problems
Mike Wenglar, Director of Engineering, KVUE TV
What happened to all of your old broadcast equipment? Now think back. "We gave it to a church, a school etc." How about this one, we threw it into the dumpster. Think about all of the stuff that we have discarded over the years that is now living in some landfill. There has to be megatons of it buried out there somewhere. Guess we were a small part of this but we are guilty of some small scale polluting. Now we are a big part of the digital revolution with equipment that needs to be replace about every 3-5 years. The modern radio or television station will discard more technology now then they ever did before. Much of the stuff we use in our stations are also in the hands of the consumer as well, and now you got a heap of garbage! Technology companies are trying to stay ahead of changing environmental regulations by getting serious about recycling electronics equipment. Computer and electronics manufacturers are now reaching out to consumers and revving up their own recycling efforts to reduce the tonnage that ends up decaying in landfills. The rate of replacing mobile phones and computers is increasing every year, resulting in the mounting problem of how to get rid the old stuff after upgrading. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, two million tons of electronic waste is put into landfills every year, and in 2005, more than 130 million cell phones will be discarded.
In most of the U.S., there are no laws preventing consumers from placing cell phones, computers, monitors and printers curbside for disposal, and for many, that's the path of least resistance. For example, according to the EPA, only 11% of the PCs discarded in 2001 were recycled. However, three states ... Maine, Minnesota and Massachusetts ... have passed legislation in the past year that bans mingling computer monitors, containing what is known as cathode ray tubes (CRTs) with ev eryday refuse. Beginning in July, Californians will pay a fee of between $6 and $10, depending on the size of the display, when they purchase a computer screen to pay for the cost of recycling. CRTs have been targeted because they contain leaded glass, which according to the EPA is hazardous waste.
Realizing that legislators are becoming increasingly interested in regulating electronic waste, a consortium of consumer electronics companies is drafting rules for proposed legislation that would fund recycling programs. The National Electronics Product Stewardship Initiative (NEPSI) has 15 member companies, including Dell, Epson, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Nokia, Panasonic, Sharp and Sony. David Isaacs, director of government and public policy at Hewlett-Packard said that NEPSI has been meeting for two years to build consensus on a recycling policy that would meet the approval of the states, federal government and environmentalists. Isaacs said Hewlett Packard favors shared responsibility between consumers, manufacturers and government agencies, and believes that rule changes are needed. "Voluntary initiatives to promote recycling won't likely solve the problem without legislative help," said Isaacs. "For some people bundling newspapers is too much of a hassle."
"We think that mandates should keep electronics equipment out of landfills and redirect them towards the recycling stream," he said. However, Isaacs warned that achieving consensus in the group might not be possible. "The industry is not of one mind." Isaacs said Hewlett-Packard would rather absorb the cost of recycling, and does not favor placing recycling fees on new equipment. Hewlett-Packard is one of the few industry players that operate its own recycling centers. The company accepts computer products from any manufacturer and recycles them at facilities in California and Tennessee.
In addition to helping the environment, recycling can be good business for electronics manufacturers. According to the International Association of Electronics Recyclers, the electronics recycling industry in the U.S. includes more than 400 companies and employs more than 7000 workers. The $700 million industry processes over 1.5 billion pounds of electronic equipment annually, yielding approximately 900 million pounds of recyclable materials.
Manufacturers themselves can turn a profit by participating in recycling. Kyocera Wireless made $1.14 million in 2003 by accepting old cell phones and sending them off to be recycled, according to Kyocera Wireless director of quality standards John Knudsen. Knudsen said the company's goal is "zero percent industrial waste." Kyocera Wireless recycles the cell phone batteries; plastic housings, circuit card assemblies, and trace metals. Kyocera Wireless won two awards in 2004 for the recycling practices used at its San Diego headquarters from the city, according to Knudsen. He said the company conducts two recycling awareness weeks each year to encourage community members to participate.
Kyocera ships the cell phones designated for recycling to Metech of Mapleville, RI. Metech tests the cell phones it receives to evaluate the composition of metals, and then sends them to smelting plants in Japan and Europe, according to Metech marketing manager Jim Gardner. Gardner said that no smelting is done in the U.S. because the cost of meeting environmental regulations are too high and the profit margin too low. Gardner said that governments in Asia and Europe subsidize the recycling process, which helps to create jobs. "It's a philosophical difference," in governments supporting recycling, Gardner said.
Dell Computer is in the process of handing out $120,000 to community groups that sponsor local recycling events, said Tod Arbogast, Dell's senior manager of asset recovery services. Dell sponsored three events during Earth Day week this year as part of the Dell Recycling Grant Program that attempts to keep computers and related equipment out of landfills. Dell conducted 17 recycling events during 2003 that helped divert more than 100 tons of equipment from going into landfills, Arbogast said. "One day events aren't the answer, but they are a great way to make consumers aware of recycling programs," said Arbogast. Arbogast said that each Dell printer includes a coupon that enables customers to recycle their old units for free. Dell, like Hewlett-Packard and other computer manufacturers, will pick up computer equipment for recycling for a small fee. Arbogast said the fees are not "huge contributors to the bottom line,"but they do defray some of the cost of recycling.
Companies may not have the option of whether or not to recycle for long. A recent study being reviewed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that computers, monitors and cell phones under certain conditions would release lead in sufficient quantities to have them classified as hazardous waste, which would require special handling for disposal. The laboratory study, which was completed by the Solid and Hazardous Waste Studies department of the University of Florida, "found that lead leached at high enough concentrations under the EPA regulatory test to be classified as hazardous waste," according to University of Florida professor Timothy Townsend, who oversaw the test. Townsend said the EPA test uses extreme conditions to determine how much lead could potentially seep into a landfill. He said that the test, which has been maligned by some scientists, simulates "not necessarily normal conditions." However, Townsend said the test is useful in showing that lead that is bound into materials, such as CRTs and lead solder used in manufacturing computers, could decompose and enter the ecosystem. Townsend will finish his report next month, and is conducting a new round of tests using a small-scale landfill. The EPA is peer reviewing the University of Florida report, but will wait until it is in a final form before deciding on taking any action, according to Marilyn Goode, environmental protection specialist at the EPA. Goode said that in 2002 the EPA proposed classifying CRTs as hazardous waste, and drafted a final rule that will likely go into effect in 2005.
Goode said that "computer manufacturers have been working hard on rules and voluntary procedures for taking back electronics components. They have been very cooperative in defining standards and practices."
I think the broadcast industry needs to be proactive in this arena and begin their own equipment recycling program locally (with some expert advice) or maybe set up by someone E-Waste knowledgeable person at your corporate headquarters. It might be interesting if you find your station as part of your competitor's news story as they reveal you in the back parking lot discarding your old computer junk in the dumpster! I think that state broadcast organization should get involved and work with their membership to make sure all broadcasters do their part in protecting our environment. I know the Texas Association of Broadcaster will.
Power Over Ethernet
By Steve Paugh
By now we should all be pretty comfortable dealing with networks in the broadcast plant. We have seen networks move from the front office to the back office. We have seen LAN speeds progress form 10 Mb/s to 100 Mb/s to Gigabit rates. Now comes the next step in network evolution— power over Ethernet.
LAN enabled devices have transitioned from the familiar CPU NIC cards to LAN enabled embedded devices. Some examples of LAN enabled embedded devices are data acquisition modules and web cameras. Using highly integrated circuitry, all of the functionality of a computer and NIC card can be put into a signal integrated circuit. You only need to add a peripheral device to this single IC solution to produce a LAN enabled device. What this means is that you can create a network friendly camera, control system or anything your imagination can conceive. All you need is a "power cube" to power it and a LAN connection.
Suppose you could power your nifty little device over the LAN cable eliminating the power cube. The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) has a new specification to allow just that. IEEE standard 802.3af (802 is a registered trademark) describes a method to carry data and power over the Ethernet network. The key to making this work is backward compatibility with the existing installed base of Ethernet connectivity.
Linear Technology (on the web at linear.com) has produced a chip set to simplify the designer's task of implementing power over Ethernet. I will not describe how to design such an interface, but rather describe the reasoning behind it. The first rule of power over Ethernet is not to apply power to a device that is not expecting to see power at it's input terminals. To do this we use a challenge and response technique. We ask the device "can you receive power?" There are only two answers ... yes, or no response at all. A LAN power enabled device will reply with a yes, legacy equipment will provide no reply at all, in fact, legacy equipment will not even know that a question has been asked. How can we ask a question without disrupting legacy devices? The data voltages present on a standard LAN connection are in the range of 5 to 10 volts peak-to-peak. All Ethernet power enabled devices (PD) are defined to present an impedance of 25K-ohms to the power sourcing equipment (PSE). Legacy devices have much lower character impedance due to the transformer present on all NIC devices.
The PSE device probes the port with a voltage of 2.7 to 10.1 volts and calculates the device impedance from the current drawn. If the device proves to be PD, an optional second probe voltage of 15 to 20 volts is used to determine how much power the PD requires. During this second test, a power classification resistor is switched into the PD circuitry. The current drawn will tell the PSE how much current the device needs. If sufficient power is available in the PSE, the full operating voltage of 48 volts DC is applied to the PD. The PSE can deny power to a device if it determines that the new device will exceed the total power available from the PSE. The PSE will also sense when the PD has been disconnected, removing the power to prevent damage if a legacy device is then connected to the port.
How much power can a PSE port supply? There are currently 5 classes of power capability defined by the power classification resistor test, ranging from 4 to 13 watts. This is enough power to supply most LAN enabled devices. This would be an ideal solution for powering remote control panels. With the proliferation of broadcast devices using virtual private network topologies, it is my hope that we will soon be dealing with many IP enabled control devices that will be using power over Ethernet technology.
Featuring News, Rumors and Views
By the time you read this NAB will have come and gone and we will all be again dreaming of what they will come up with next. The manufacturers of broadcast equipment just love to work in secret throughout the year with the goal of dazzling us every year in 'Vegas with the latest in technology. Doesn't matter whether it's TV or Radio… the method is the same.
For Radio this year the name of the game is HD (much like it has been for several years for TV). This time radio can actually claim some serious numbers of stations that are transmitting ones and zeros and with that will signal the games have begun to introduce new products and to, in short order, outdate the stuff we bought last year.
Here in this area several groups, Entercom, KPLU and KING have been installing equipment to bring HD Radio to the market. I am happy to report that the first week in April another three stations joined Infinity's 106.1 in actually getting HD Radio on the air. They are Entercom's 97.3, 99.9 and 103.7. The remaining four stations in this project (88.5, 98.1, 100.7 and 107.7) will (hopefully) be on the air from the West Tiger site by the end of May.
The big hold-up in getting many of these stations on the air here has been the availability of high-powered circulators. Now that these are starting to become available, we are able to move forward. Circulators have long been used in RF products, but not at this power level. To put this into perspective, we recently installed a circulator at West Tiger that weighed in at over 350 pounds.
Pretty good for something about 18 by 18 by 6 inches. I'm not sure it would have weighed less if it had been solid lead! The other factor here is that our facility here is one of a handful in the country doing it this way (there are sure to be others that follow) so this is pretty much cutting edge… and, as someone told me, on the cutting edge… someone gets cut… ouch!
When the concept of adding digital carriers within the emission mask of an existing station reached the makers of FM antennas the first method of doing it was what's called 'high-level-injection' or simply adding a 10dB coupler at the output of the analog FM station and (wastefully) injecting the digital signal there. Later came the method that we are using on the big combiner at West Tiger that requires the installation of a 'dual-feed' system on the antenna and circulators on the combiner inputs. Still later, as a result of the efforts of our own Marty Hadfield and others, the FCC began permitting the use of existing licensed Aux. Antennas for transmitting HD-R.
At West Tiger we now have three methods in use. 106.1 is high level injection, 97.3 is a separate antenna while the others are all multiplexing the existing combiner/master antenna.
With very few radios in use, likely most of them installed in Engineers' vehicles, we are just now beginning to develop a picture of how this stuff is going to actually work. I have to admit that the only thing that I had to go on prior to all this was based on drive-around tests conducted by Ibiquity, as reported by Arne Skoog, WA7WKT. Now that I have had a week or so to listen to all four in town and on the fringes, I have concluded that it's a 'keeper'. Frankly I am very impressed… to the point that I find myself not wanting to listen to FM any more. The problem with FM is there are so many areas where reception is marginal or where you hear swish-swish or multi-path distortion. These things are all gone and are replaced with a rather complete lack of background noise. In fact now dead air is REALLY dead! Due to our topography there are certain locations where even the high powered FM stations have really bad signals. In those locations the HD Radio will blend to analog where you will hear the really bad FM signal again. But as soon as you are out of that area it fades back to a sound that is very much like having a CD player in your car.
Are you going to want a HD Radio for your vehicle? My quick answer is an emphatic yes! I already want one for my car. You can get them now, here in Seattle, at the audio stereo places. At this writing my understanding is the only thing out there is the Kenwood that we all have, but there are many others in the pipe.
In the next month or so we will have eight HD stations on the FM band here in Seattle with more in the works. Based on what I have been experiencing, It won't be long until all our major FMs are on-board. According to the latest numbers I have, there are over 300 stations on the air with HD in 36 markets. In L.A. and Miami there are 18 HD signals in each market. End of the year totals I am hearing are in the 600 something range. The big concern I have is that the Broadcasters will not work together to really promote this and that it will languish, as did AM Stereo. Time will tell. I certainly hope not.
Now for some other stuff -
If you can remember the days when there was no rock and roll on the radio you are indeed an OLD-timer. R&R is 50! Another birthday, or two, of note: On March 25th of 1954 RCA began making color TV sets. It was not until 1967 that color sets outsold B&W; by 1973 half of all households had color. Last year there were 18 million color sets sold, and about 150,000 B&W. And the Audio Cart Machine is 40. Not likely to see many more celebrations for this technology as very few continue to use it thanks to computers/audio cards and big hard-drives. A media publication generated a lot of smiles recently showing off a new use for these old tape-machines. A lamp base. Insert a cart, press the Start-button and the lamp comes on. Talk about a conversation piece. There is likely to be a number of these under construction right now… it's a must -have for the engineering office.
Congrats to Kelly Alford on his new job as CE of the Fisher Seattle Radio stations KVI (570), KOMO-AM(1000) and KPLZ-FM (101.5). Good news also for Fisher as they reported a profit for the 4th quarter last year. Let's hope this trend continues. Per Walt's fine publication - George Bisso has installed a new Nautel XL-12 transmitter at the 1150 plant in the Bellevue Swamp. Speaking of Nautel, they recently launched a users-group. A great idea that I hope others will do as well.
91.7 is now playing KEXP in the Tacoma area as KXOT. KGHO, long time call letter in Grays Harbor is becoming KGTK. The Washington State Public Affairs Network will be operating a new FM in Olympia with the call KWGV.
Got a note from John Schnieder the other day. BE has an opening in their RF Service Department. If you are interested - Contact Stuart Peters at email@example.com.
In closing this month I have to tell you about how some Oklahoma City Broadcasters helped shut down an un-licensed station. First they tracked down where it was coming from, then they began streaming the station on-line so the FCC's field office in Dallas could hear it. Resulting in an FCC visit. Cute!
Till next month --
End Of Nextwave Saga?
By Tom Smith
On April 20th, the FCC announced an agreement with Nextwave Communications, Inc. regarding Nextwave’s PCS licenses which have been in dispute since 1996. These licenses have been tied up in court since Nextwave filed for bankruptcy in 1998. At that time the FCC declared Nextwave in default of its auction payments, having paid only $.5 billion; the FCC then reauctioned the spectrum for $17 billion. The original Nextwave bid was over $4.8 billion for the spectrum. Nextwave sought protection in Bankruptcy Court and the Court ruled in their favor. Nextwave sold some of the spectrum to Cingular for $714 million after the Court ruling.
The new agreement calls for Nextwave to return 90% of their spectrum which is left after the Cingular sale. The spectrum return and the cash recovery to the FCC totals $4 billion, of which Nextwave pays the FCC $1.6 billion cash from the down payment and proceeds from the Cingular sale. The FCC will also require Nextwave to pay additional cash if any of the spectrum it retains is sold at a dramatic increase in value. The agreement also restricts further claims by Nextwave, ensures timely payments from Nextwave, and avoids the use of debt instruments by Nextwave that could result in further default.
From FCC Releases (www.fcc.gov)
Madison Video Repair Still Going Strong
By Vicki W. Kipp
Long after most electronics repair shops have closed their doors, Madison Video Repair on Madison’s South side still manages to earn a living.
From 1976 ... 1980, Lynne Smith worked in the Madison office for Avonix, a Milwaukee based video sales company. Challenged by inflation and a recession, Avonix decided to close its Madison branch. Smith and a technician co-worker negotiated a deal with Avonix to open their own business, Madison Video Repair, in the existing Avonix building. Avonix maintained a salesperson in Madison and eventually re-opened a Madison office. Avonix was eventually sold to Video Images/ MCSI.
The very same week that Madison Video Repair opened for business, a consumer home video rental store called The Video Station came to town. The Video Station rented and sold videotapes and VCRs. Sony introduced consumer Betamax in 1976. When home video rental was pioneered in the early 1980s, it was common for customers to rent both a video and a VCR from the video store. The owner of the Video Station contacted Madison Video Repair because he needed someone to repair his rental equipment. Madison Video got off to a great start because they had their existing clients plus a big new account: The Video Station.
After five years in business, the workload at Madison Video Repair was growing so fast that Smith was having difficulty keeping up. Her husband, Frank Smith, quit his job as a carpenter at the University of Wisconsin to become Lynne’s business partner at Madison Video Repair. Frank and Lynne liked the idea of being their own boss. The Smiths bought out the technician’s share of the business, and have enjoyed being in business together for 23 years now.
When Madison Video Repair (Figure 1, 2) opened in 1981, they fixed 1/2-inch format video reel-to-reel machines and Betamax VCRs. The 1/2-inch reel-to-reel videotape machines, which followed the EIAJ standard, were manufactured by several Japanese companies beginning in 1969. Manufacture of 1/2-inch format gear ended soon after 3/4-inch cassettes were introduced. After a few years, Madison Videos’ clients began bringing in VHS VCRs and 8-mm video cameras. Next, there was CCTV and later digital surveillance installations and repairs. Now, they repair DVCPRO, DV format equipment, LCD projectors, and DVD players.
Although the technicians would like to repair every piece of broken equipment that is brought in to Madison Video Repair, this isn’t always financially feasible. Frank Smith notes, "We’ve never had a decent technician that can accept that a broken item is not worth fixing. They can’t just walk away from a broken item. That’s not the way that they think." Lynne adds, "Not only do the technicians want to fix the broken item, but they want to understand how it is engineered. Meanwhile, I have figure out how to pay the rent. I may have to encourage them to install the replacement component and move along."
An independent commercial video repair shop such as Madison Video Repair is a rarity. The next closest independent video repair shop is in Chicago. Most repair shops are part of a sales company and almost all of these only service the products that they sell. Their primary goal is sales, not repair work. Madison Video Repair, on the other hand, exists to repair video equipment whenever possible to the extent that repairs are cost effective for the client and supported by the product manufacturer. Some manufacturers find it is not workable for them to do component level repair and redirect clients to Madison Video Repair for service.
Madison Video Repair considers it an advantage to be an independent shop not tied to just one manufacturer. Manufacturers repair facilities that constantly repair the same equipment can get in a rut. Since Madison Video Repair sees a diverse selection of equipment and problems, they are open-minded when troubleshooting the cause of a problem.
Finding an electronic technician who is able to repair video equipment to the component level is difficult. Most technical schools don’t train students in component level electronics repair. When Madison Video finds people with the desired skill set, many of these applicants lose interest in the position once they learn that they would be working with video equipment instead of computers. Having an existing technician train less experienced new hires is not a workable solution for Madison Video Repair. Madison Video Repair’s customers demand fast and accurate service and techs do not have time to teach a new tech and still meet the customer demands.
Based on their great track record with repairs, Madison Video Repair gives a 6-month warranty on their repairs. If a repaired item requires service within 6 months of the repair, Madison Video Repair will pay for shipping and fix the item at no cost. "This warranty is unheard of in the industry," explains Lynne Smith, "We’re very confident. We can only do that because our technicians are good. They put a lot of effort into looking at the boards."
Madison Video Repair occasionally repairs video monitors, but finds that industrial monitors don’t often fail and that most companies don’t want to pay to ship old monitors out for repair. Although Madison Video Repair has done consumer television repair in the past, they now redirect this business to a local independent TV repair shop specializing in consumer TV sets.
The End User
A follow-up to last month’s review of the Lindows operating system: Lindows.com founder Michael Robertson has decided to rename the OS to "Linspire". The stated reason for the name change was to stop Microsoft from pursuing overseas lawsuits against the company. However, Robertson’s company is still gearing up for the US litigation, so we may soon know whether the name "Windows" is truly generic or not.
And soon, you may be able to own a piece of Linspire: As this column was going to press, the company filed with the SEC for its initial public offering of stock. According to the filing, over one-fifth of the $57.5 million IPO will go to Robertson to repay his investment in developing the operating system.
Could spyware be legislated out of existence? We’ll soon find out. The House of Representatives convened a hearing targeting applications that are installed on a computer without a user’s consent. A bill has been introduced in the House which would give the FTC the power to ban spyware installed without explicit consent.
Would you pay $35 to $75 a month for unlimited wireless broadband internet? Last month, Nextel began test-marketing its new broadband service in North Carolina. Download speeds can run up to 3 Mb/sec, and uploads would max out at 750kb/sec. This service does not use the Nextel "walkie-talkie" phone for connectivity; it employs a wireless modem interface card that can also connect to 802.11b systems. There’s no word on when Nextel plans to roll out the service in other markets.
Finally, this month, here’s a story that I found scary: A recent survey by the BBC revealed that 77% of users would surrender passwords to their online accounts if they were given a chocolate bar. That’s right. A chocolate bar. And 34% willingly gave up their passwords without being offered *anything*. No wonder we have security problems.
That’s it for May. Send those questions and comments to enduser "at" sbe16.org.* Till June, all the best!
Amateur Radio News
By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
o The first phase of a long-awaited broadband over power line (BPL) study the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released in April suggests it’s possible to accommodate BPL technology while managing the interference risk. Now part of the US Department of Commerce, the NTIA manages spectrum allocated to federal government users and advises the White House on telecommunications issues. In a cover letter to FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell, Acting NTIA Administrator Michael D. Gallagher pledged that the NTIA would "work with the Commission to establish a firm technical foundation for responsible deployment of BPL to protect critical federal communications systems." But, Gallagher said, while BPL systems may present a valuable economic opportunity, "technical rules governing their deployment must address potential harmful interference to critical systems." Released April 27, NTIA Report 04-413 analyzes 10 million BPL system measurements and "provides a roadmap" to deploying BPL systems while managing interference, Gallagher’s letter said.
Among items that the American Radio Relay League noted from the NTIA study: "Underestimation of the actual peak field strength is the leading contributor to high interference risks. Part 15 measurement guidelines do not address unique physical and electromagnetic characteristics of BPL radiated emissions." Also: "BPL networks reportedly can be successfully implemented under existing field strength limits. Accordingly, NTIA does not recommend that the FCC relax Part 15 field strength limits for BPL systems."
The NTIA study appeared the same day the ARRL appealed to President George W. Bush to withdraw his support for BPL and focus his administration’s attention on "more suitable technologies" such as wireless broadband access. In an April 26 speech in Minneapolis, Bush advocated changing technical standards to encourage BPL deployment in the US. ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, told Bush in a fax that while the League supports universal and affordable broadband access, BPL is the wrong direction to take.
o The FCC says minor amendments to various Amateur Radio (Part 97) rules will become effective June 1. The regulatory changes, which the FCC made on its own motion rather than in reaction to any petitions, appeared May 5 in the Federal Register. "This document makes minor amendments to various rule sections to clarify or eliminate duplicative language or conform them with other rule sections," the FCC said.
The most extensive and substantive Amateur Radio rule change involves §97.307(d), which defines spurious emissions. The updated language imposes a slightly higher standard on newer transmitters or amplifiers of any power level. Starting June 1, the rule will provide that:
... The mean power of any spurious emission from HF transmitters or external RF power amplifiers installed after January 1, 2003, must be at least 43 dB below the mean power of the fundamental emission.
... The mean power of any spurious emission from HF transmitters or external RF power amplifiers installed on or before January 1, 2003, must not exceed 50 mW and must be at least 40 dB below the mean power of the fundamental emission. If the mean power output of such as transmitter is less than 5 W, the attenuation must be at least 30 dB.
Still exempt from the provisions of §97.307(d) are transmitters built before April 15, 1977, or those first marketed before January 1, 1978.
The FCC continues to seek comments on the various Amateur Radio proposals put forth in WT Docket 04-140. Comments are due by Tuesday, June 15, and reply comments by Wednesday, June 30. Among other changes, the FCC has recommended adopting the ARRL’s "Novice refarming" plan.
(Excerpts from the American Radio Relay League’s www.arrl.org web site)
There once was a man who had worked all of his life and had saved all his money and was a real miser. He loved money more than just about anything. One day, he said to his wife, "When I die, I want you to take all my money and put it in the casket with me because I want to take my money into the afterlife."
He forced her to promise with all her heart that she’d obey his wish and put all their money in the casket with him. Well, soon after, he died.
His wife sat in the church during the funeral next to her best friend. When the ceremony was finished, just before the undertakers got ready to close the casket, the widow said, "Wait just a minute!" and she placed a small box she had with her in her husband’s lifeless hands. The undertakers then locked the casket and rolled it away.
The woman’s friend said, "I know you weren’t fool enough to put all your money in there with your husband!"
The widow replied, "I can’t go back on my word. I promised him that I was going to put our money in that casket with him and that’s what I did."
"You mean to tell me you put all of your money in that casket?!!"
"I sure did," said the widow. "How’d you fit it all in that little box?" asked her friend.
"I wrote him a check."
A bit of humor….
Two antennas met on a roof, fell in love and got married. The ceremony wasn't much, but the reception was excellent.
Two hydrogen atoms walk into a coffee bar. One says, I've lost my electron". The other says, "Are you sure?" The first replies, "Yes, I'm positive..."
A jumper cable walks into a bar. The bartender says "I'll serve you, but don't start anything."
A man walks into a coffee bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm and says: "A coffee please, and one for the road."
Two cannibals are eating a clown. One says to the other: "Does this taste funny to you?"
Two cows standing next to each other in a field, Daisy says to Dolly, "I was artificially inseminated this morning." "I don't believe you," said Dolly. "It's true, no bull!" exclaimed Daisy.
An invisible man marries an invisible woman. The kids were nothing to look at either.
I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day but I couldn't find any.
I went to the butcher's the other day and I bet him 50 bucks that he couldn't reach the meat off the top shelf. He said, "No, the steaks are too high."
I went to a seafood disco last week... and pulled a mussel.
Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly; but when they lit a fire in the craft, it sank, proving that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.
What do you call a fish with no eyes? A fsh.
How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?
Garneth M. Harris
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