Random Radio Thoughts
Cris Alexander, CSRE
Thankfully, hurricanes aren't something we spend a lot of time worrying about along the Front Range. As I watched the images of the waves pounding well inland and reporters leaning into the incredible winds as Isabelle came ashore, I thought about what east coast radio engineers were facing. It seems that in times like these, radio engineers really show their stuff. Perhaps it is then that they are most appreciated by management.
Last year, I visited a transmitter site in the Florida Everglades. The tour was conducted by the chief engineer, and as I was watching for alligators, he was showing me the evidence that hurricanes had left at the site over the years. The site had a full garage where the generator was located. The CE told me that during the last big storm, he put his car inside the garage and rode out the storm at the site (what dedication!). As he described the scene, one could almost drown standing up because the wind-driven rain was so heavy. Somehow, he managed to keep the generator online and the 50 kW transmitter running into who knows what kind of load for the duration.
While we don't have to worry about hurricanes, tropical storms and the like here in Colorado, we face our own set of unique challenges. The Blizzard of 2003 was one such time when we were all stretched. I haven't heard of any local engineers that rode out the storm at a transmitter site, but it was the preparations made beforehand that kept most of the stations in the area on the air and operating more-or-less normally through the storm and cleanup. That didn't happen by itself; it was careful planning and good maintenance that kept things running while power, telephones and other parts of the infrastructure were out and travel - especially to remote transmitter sites - was impossible.
The next time your station or market manager makes an issue of some maintenance dollars you are spending or argues an R&M budget line item amount, remind him that it was because of those expenditures last year that the station managed to stay on the air during the big storm. Perhaps he will get the picture and gain some new insight into what it takes to achieve that kind of reliability. Perhaps, too, he will realize more than ever before the value of what you do, in both the quiet times and the storms.
Once again, there hasn't been a lot of news from the local radio engineering community. No news is good news, I suppose. Just north of Denver, however, KHNC (1360 kHz) in Johnstown just finished constructing its daytime upgrade. The station went from 500-watt three-tower directional to 10 kW ND. The nighttime remains at 450 watts using a two-tower directional array. A Nautel ND-10 was installed as the main transmitter. The signal is much improved and is listenable throughout most of Denver metro. The upgrade was part of an allocations shuffle that involved moving Paul Montoya's KJJL in Cheyenne from 1370 kHz to 1380 and turning off KTMG on 1370 kHz in Deer Trail. Tim Cutforth was the consulting engineer on the project.
Here at Crawford Broadcasting Company, we continue to learn from our HD Radio experience. You might recall that we implemented HD Radio on our Chicago class B, WPWX (Power92) back in July. Since then, we have struggled with transmitter issues, exciter issues, AES routing issues, IBOC generator problems, injector/reject load problems and adjacent-channel interference. As each problem has been solved, we have learned a little bit more about HD Radio.
One of the more significant things we have dealt with, and one that many here in Colorado will likely have to face, is adjacent-channel interference. Three "rim-shot" adjacent-channel stations to the west had for years enjoyed some Chicagoland coverage outside their protected contours. When we fired up the digital transmitter on Power92, however, much of this coverage was evidently wiped out. Needless to say, the licensee (in this case, all three of the rim-shots were commonly owned) was upset. His CE contacted our CE with the interference complaint supported by some spectrum shots made very close to the Power92 transmitter site. Those spectrum shots were immediately suspect because the carrier was flat-topped, indicating analyzer front-end overload.
We immediately asked Broadcast Electronics, the manufacturer of the Power92 digital transmitter, exciter and IBOC generator, to make some supplemental spectrum measurements. We backed those up with some occupied bandwidth measurements of our own. The measurements clearly showed that Power92 with its digital carriers on was well within the FCC-prescribed RF mask. We reported that to the other CE and offered to cooperate by installing mask filtering (at the other licensee's expense, of course). He responded by calling the FCC with a complaint. The FCC came out with two spectrum analyzers and found the same thing we had already proven - that Power92 was in full compliance.
The lesson here, I think, is that we can expect some HD Radio impact on first- and second-adjacent channel signals. The impact will be dependent on the signal strength of those signals. Here in Denver, the Brush and Ft, Morgan rim shots on 101.5 and 107.1 come to mind. Considerable investment has been made to get Denver market signals from those two stations. I can imagine the licensees will be rather upset if the HD rollout in Denver, if and when it occurs, wipes out a good bit of that coverage. Mask filtering may be of some value. Testing is going on right now in Boston, where similar adjacent-channel problems have occurred. Fortunately for the Denver market, we are far enough down the list in the HD rollout schedule that we can benefit from the experiences in a number of markets higher on the list.
New ownership rules and the freeze is on... then the freeze is off but new applications must be filed and pending applications amended on revised 301, 314 and 315 forms. Then the court orders a stay of the new rules and a new freeze is on... then the freeze is off and we're back to the old forms once again. Fortunately, this time around, the freeze was lifted on the date the FCC announcement was published in the Federal Register, so we're not sitting on our hands for 30 days. You can read all about it at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-03-2867A1.doc.
The 16th of this month is when the new prior coordination notification (PCN) rules go into effect for all fixed broadcast auxiliary stations. If you have a modification or other Part 74 application to file, I strongly suggest that you get it done before the 16th. Otherwise, you will have to shell out up to $1,400 for coordination (although lower cost alternatives are becoming available).
Howard Fine, the southern California SBE coordinator, was in Washington last month meeting with Wireless and Mass Media staff on the PCN issue. He went armed with a stack of database runs in all the BAS bands showing that only 40% of the records in the FCC database are complete (i.e. with receive site coordinates and antenna height). That makes it very difficult to do any kind of automated search and coordination. Hopefully we will hear that reason prevailed at the FCC and that there will be a stay on the October 16 deadline (the SBE originally asked for a one-year stay and was granted six months). If we get word of this, we will immediately post it to the Chapter.
If you have news you would like to share with the Denver radio engineering community, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The September 2003 Meeting
Location: Starz Encore Group
Starz Encore Group hosted the Rocky Mountain Section's September, 2003 meeting with a presentation by Ken Fuhrman, President of Interact TV (www.interact-tv.com) of the Telly video appliance. Telly is engineered to serve the home entertainment market with powerful features designed specifically for the enjoyment of digital media. Ken described the rich feature set of the device that serves as a Home Entertainment Server.
The device provides: an on-screen electronic program guide, a DVD recorder, on-screen media management capabilities to access media libraries, an internal disk recorder, and networking capabilities to move media between devices.
We thank Starz Encore group for their generosity in hosting the meeting.
Riddle Me This? When Is An Antenna Not An Antenna?
-- Fred Baumgartner
Where did all the towers go? Long time standing?
Gone to camo, everyone…
When will they ever learn? Oh when will they ever learn?
In my daily commute, I go by a series of camouflage towers. As radio guys we all recognize these, and considering that they are often, if not always, more obtrusive than the towers they replace, and more often than not, out of place, sore-thumb, counterfeits…
So I offer this unreal photo essay.
Out Back of KWHD on hilltop road is an old Western Union tower (FM antenna on top for that 93 MHz on the left)… To the right is a very tall (150-foot) "windmill." Actually this is a wireless Internet antenna. Yes, the wind is better that high I'm sure. This guy is a boomer. I have a shot at it, and I live 10 miles South of here. Lesson; windmill warm fuzzy good thing. In fact, the windmill is the Elbert County, Colorado logo, and featured on all official correspondence. You can put one of these on a waterless, livestock free, barren hilltop as a matter of right. However, a low profile wireless antenna is not warm and fuzzy, and thus not approvable.
Patriotism is another antenna avenue. The really fat flagpoles are… antennas! This is a good shot, as the flag isn't wrapped around the pylon in a tangle as it is on most days. By the way, this got approved because the water tower pictured later had already been taken by the competition. We have lots of really big fat flagpoles around town these days. God bless America… land of the free… where you can build an antenna if you wrap it in the flag.
Out West, one doesn't see many silos. Not much in the farming environment here that supports or requires that kind of storage. Nonetheless, rather than a tower, the much more acceptable silo, albeit out of place silo can be built in the very unnatural top of the hill location with the adjacent backyard-sized micro barn. This is as useful as a lighthouse to a prairie schooner. This antenna is outside of Franktown. I'm thinking lighthouse for the next one.
This antenna sat outside of Parker for a long time before it was disguised by hiding it behind a cutout of a windmill fan blade and rudder. Even in a 60-mile an hour wind, its blades just wiggles weirdly. The fake blade draws you attention as you try to figure out if it really is flat. This is a good spot for accidents on Parker road. I suspect its curiousity slowing. I wonder what they'll disguise the power lines with?
The pride of Elizabeth Colorado High School is the water tower converted to cellular antenna that afforded the officials at the school free cell phones in trade for antenna space… only the contract wasn't what they thought and that added to the financial problems and the state is in pursuit of the e-officials on various charges. Nonetheless, an effective antenna installation on existing structure. How stealth it is, is a matter of taste.
This is my favorite "make it more so obvious no one can see it" antenna. Actually there are two antennas… the one you can barely see is the old timer when open frame towers were considered fairly benign, even in Winter Park. The one on the right is of the giant artificial Christmas tree design.
Sentinel trees, the lone pine standing out above the others, the one tree the lumber barrens didn't cut in the 1800s for reseeding purposes and now a century old, is not an uncommon sight in the woods of Northern Wisconsin, but the mountains of Colorado?
There is a good one on 25 headed for the springs and one over by Park Meadows mall. Actually, the phony tree is kind of in keeping with the Mall.
Finally, When is an antenna not an antenna? When it's a two-story outhouse, or maybe a pump house? Definitely some sort of industrial building anyway. While you probably would not notice an antenna here on C-470, you can't miss this little taste of peculiar suburbia in the foothills West of Denver. Thank goodness no one knows what these really are!
Raymond Benedict Elected SBE President
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - September 12, 2003
Votes were tabulated September 11 for the 2003 election of officers and the Board of Directors of the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE).
Elected president of the Society is Raymond C. Benedict, CPBE. Benedict is Director of Spectrum Management for Viacom, Inc. in Washington, D.C. Benedict has served the Society as Vice President, Secretary and Board member.
As SBE President, Benedict will lead the 5,300 plus member national organization for the coming year and will chair its Board of Directors. The Board is responsible for Society governance and determines the policies and programs for the organization. As SBE President, Benedict is official spokesman for the Society and represents SBE before other organizations and government agencies.
Other officers elected for one year terms include:
Vice President - Samuel E. Garfield, CPBE CBNT, Vice President, Dilicast, LLC./Technical Broadcast Consultants, Raleigh, N. Car.
Secretary - Ralph Hogan, CPBE CBNT, Assistant General Manager-Engineering Services: Northwest Public Radio and Television and Washington Higher Education Telecommunications System, Pullman, Wash.
Treasurer - Robert J. Russell, CSTE CBNT, Operations & Engineering Manager, KYMA-TV, Yuma, Ariz.
Elected to two-year terms on the national Board of Directors were:
Andrea Cummis, CBT, Senior Vice President, Engineering & Operations, Oxygen Media, New York, N.Y.
Dane E. Ericksen, P.E., CSRTE, Senior Engineer, Hammett & Edison Inc., Consulting Engineers, San Francisco, Calif.
Clay Freinwald, CPBE, Senior Facilities Engineer, Entercom, Seattle, Wash.
David Hultsman, CSRE, Broadcast Channel Manager, Continental Electronics Corp., Birmingham, Ala.
Mark S. Olkowski, CPBE, Engineering Manager, Infinity Broadcasting, New York, N.Y.
Henry B. Ruhwiedel, CPBE, Chief Engineer, WYIN TV, Gary, IN/Chicago, Ill.
Those elected will join six other members of the Board who will begin the second year of their two-year terms. They include:
Ted D, Hand, CPBE, Director of Engineering, WTKR-TV, Norfolk, Vir.
Mark D. Humphrey, CPBE, Chief Engineer, WPLY-FM/Radio One, Media, Penn.
Keith M. Kintner, CPBE CBNT, Urbana, Ill.
Vincent A. Lopez, CEV CBNT, Systems Technician, WSYT/WNYS-TV, Syracuse, N.Y.
Thomas R. Ray, III, CSRE, Corporate Director of Engineering, Buckley Broadcasting/WOR Radio, New York, N.Y.
Barry L. Thomas, CPBE, CBNT, Vice President of Engineering, Westwood One, Inc., New York, N.Y.
Outgoing President, Troy D. Pennington, CSRE CBNT, Chief Engineer, Cumulus Broadcasting in Mobile, Ala. will continue to serve on the Board of Directors as Immediate Past President.
The newly elected Officers and Directors will assume their offices on Wednesday, October 15 during the SBE Annual Membership Meeting in Madison, Wisc. The meeting is part of the SBE National Meeting, held in conjunction with the Broadcasters Clinic presented by SBE Chapter 24 and the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.
Certificaton Exam Session Dates Announced For 2003
Please note: SBE Certification exams are administered only by SBE and are proctored in-person by qualified and approved representatives of SBE. No other organization is authorized to administer SBE exams.
Society of Broadcast Engineers, Inc.
FCC Seeks To Move LPFM Along
By Tom Smith
The FCC announced a plan to speed up the settlement on conflicting application for new Low Power FM stations. The FCC will allow major change amendments for frequency changes and minor change amendments for other conflicts. The FCC will allow for consideration to be paid in excess of legitimate and prudent expenses, and encourages time-share agreements. The settlement period is to end on October 31, 2003.
In the Madison area, there are a number of applicants who have conflicts over three frequencies. They are Kettle Moraine Community Radio, Mukwonago; Come Pray With Us Radio Association, Whitewater; and St. Jerome Educational Association, Beloit, asking for FM Channel 225 (92.9 MHz). Channel 246 (97.1 MHz) is being sought by Wisconsin Polka Appreciation Society, Dane; Lake City Church, Inc., Madison; and St. Raphael Educational Association, Sun Prairie. In Madison, nine groups are after Channel 256 (99.1 MHz). They are Health Writers, Inc.; Boys and Girls Club of Dane County; Center for the Prevention and Intervention; Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin; Cornerstone Church; St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church; Youth with a Mission, Inc.; Sun Prairie Community Church; and Common Ground Church.
From FCC Release (www.fcc.gov)
New Handbook For Radio Operators Now In Stock
The new SBE Handbook for Radio Operators is now available from the SBE National Office.
This new handbook is designed to help radio board operators learn more about the broadcasting business from both the technical and business side. The handbook covers such topics as FCC rules, technical layout of a typical station and the general responsibilities of a radio operator. An overview of station management and professional etiquette is included along with chapters on station logs, the Emergency Alert System, safety requirements and operational procedures for trouble situations. It will be helpful to anyone, those brand new to radio or the seasoned veteran, who pulls a shift behind the console.
SBE has developed a new certification program and exam, which will be available when the book is released at the end of March. The Handbook will include sample questions to help users prepare for the optional test.
To order, call, fax or e-mail your order information to the SBE National Office. Phone orders to: (317) 846-9000. Fax: (317) 846-9120. E-mail: LBaun@sbe.org. Purchase may be made with your check, VISA, MasterCard or American Express. For orders of five or more copies, call the Certification Department at the SBE National Office for special pricing.
WBA/SBE Broadcasters Clinic 2003
Plus New This Year
DIGITAL VIDEO PRODUCTION CLINIC
And Welcome Back the
National SBE Events Schedule
Amateur Radio News
By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
o A new educational amateur radio project for the International Space Station has been scheduled for 2004. The Manned Amateur Radio Experiment of North America, Inc. (MAREX-MG) announced the new Slow Scan TV imaging project known as "SpaceCam1," which will be an entry-level PC based Slow Scan Television (SSTV) imaging system. It will use a common amateur frequency to send and receive images from the International Space Station. Anyone with a simple UHF receiver and antenna system will be able to decode and display still JPEG images, plus hams will also be allowed to transmit images to the SpaceCam1 system. The onboard image repeater will retransmit those images from the spacecraft over a 1500 mile radius.
MAREX-MG believes the project will help stimulate a student's interest in the space program by putting part of the ISS project within reach of the common student or school system. Their final task is in finishing the approval process for Space Flight Certification. The package will tentatively be delivered to the ISS on board a Russian Progress cargo rocket scheduled for launch in early 2004.
o The Baraboo-based Badgerland Amateur Television Society has scheduled a high-altitude balloon flight to carry an experimental amateur radio and TV payload over southern Wisconsin on September 27th. The balloon will be launched northwest of Madison and will include a camera and 2.4 GHz transmitter for video, a UHF/2.4 GHz audio repeater, and GPS tracking telemetry on VHF. The University of Wisconsin's Space Place "ham shack" (N9UW) on South Park Street in Madison will serve as communications center between the launch site and chase teams, and will downlink video and telemetry. More information on the experiment can be found at www.shopstop.net/bats.
o The FCC has invited public comments on seven separate Morse code-related petitions for rule making, some of which would altogether eliminate Element 1, the 5 WPM Morse test, from the Amateur Service rules (Part 97). World Radiocommunication Conference 2003 (WRC-03) made optional the requirement to prove the ability to send and receive Morse signals to operate below 30 MHz. Comments have been pouring from members of the amateur community on all seven petitions. Clearly ahead in the comment-collection race is the petition filed by the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators, RM-10787, which had collected more than 350 comments by September 5th. The other petitions each have garnered more than 100 comments apiece. Several countries-including Switzerland, Belgium, the UK, Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands-already have moved to drop their Morse requirements. Austria, New Zealand, and Australia are expected to do so soon.
(Excerpts from the American Radio Relay League's "The ARRL Letter")
A Reminder About Backup Power
Thanks to Chapter 124
I'm sure you have seen/heard this list before, but here are a few items you may want to check on before the 'real winter' moves in:
UPS's on "mission critical" equipment, which besides PC's (at least for radio stations) includes microphone processors, consoles, audio processing, STL's, and anything else that would interrupt on-air operations. If your studios don't have a generator, be sure to put plug a light fixture that goes on when the power goes off into a control room UPS, or buy an emergency light fixture.
UPS and emergency-light batteries - Gel cells are only good for 3 or 4 years.
Generators - Serviced within the last 2 years, load-tested within the last 4 years, and fuel tanks topped off? Do you know what is actually wired to the emergency side of your generator's transfer switch? Do you know how long your generator will run before its crankcase runs out of oil?
Disaster Preparedness - You need a Disaster Supplies Kit to keep you alive for at least 3 days: at home, in your vehicle, and at any work location where you might be stuck. Items include water, food, tools, prescriptions, a pillow and sleeping bag, some money, some things with which to pass the time, and the much-made-fun-of duct tape and plastic sheeting (for sheltering in place). Check out the Red Cross's recommendations for what to have AT HAND. See http://www.redcross.org/services/disaster/beprepared/supplies.htm
Featuring News, Rumors and Views
Certainly the big news story of this past month was the big NE blackout. Seems that they have one of these from time to time. This time all thoughts were on terrorism as the cause, that is for a while....
Some Claythots -
I. Appears that the power grid is a 'house-of-cards'.
II. It can happen anywhere, here too.
III. Even though the major market TV stations were still on the air ( thanks to Aux-Gens) very few were watching due to the size of the blackout.
IV. Radio was once again king of the information distribution systems... with several stories in the media about crowds around radios listening to find out what happened.
V. The terrorists are likely not to now target the electrical grid; it's proved to not to be much of a challenge.
VI. I recall all the trouble we have had in this area from environmentalists re. the installation of a new power line in East King County... (hope that the next power failure we have only impacts them).
In late August the hot/dry weather impacted broadcasting as the Tiger Mt State Forest was included in what's called a 'level-four' fire danger. Under this condition the state DNR issued very restrictive conditions dealing with access to the mountain's Radio and TV sites... Emergencies only... 10PM to 8AM... and, you had to carry specific fire fighting equipment. I have been involved with this area since the first station went up there back in 1987 (KBSG) and this is the third time the place has been shut down due to fire danger.
Perhaps you noticed the stories about Paul Allen swinging the axe at some of his companies...The Blazers, for example. Well, Rose City Radio, Paul's radio stations in PDX, were on the receiving end about the First of August. Out is Kent Randles their CE. This put Kent in job search mode. He tells me that, for a while, he is going to be helping James Boyd with some of his projects. Interestingly, one of them is doing the installation of an FM station for Entercom in Portland. Another job loss in PDX was Mike Everhart who lost his job in the Fisher/Entercom deal there. According to the Water Cooled Newsletter from Chapter 124, the Entercom cluster in PDX will be operating with a two-man Engineering department... for 10 stations. Not sure how long that will last.
Did you see the story about the guys that jumped from the Crista tower in Edmonds in early August? One of them got hung up on a guy wire and had to be rescued at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. I found it interesting that this fellow was a college prof. from Madison, Wisconsin. Apparently these folks got together to jump from the tower via some web site devoted to these things. Sure would be interesting to see if any of our other towers in this area are targeted. I fully expected to see Brian Hubert in front of the news cameras... but did not see him. A couple of items from the 'I-wonder-dept': Is a station liable when a person base-jumps from their tower? What is expected by insurance companies and legal-beagles to prevent this from happening?
Did you note the change? EAS is now part of Homeland Security...well sorta. The FCC has created an Office of Homeland Security, the new home for EAS within... all part of the Enforcement Bureau (in the event you thought that there would be less EAS inspections). A bit early to say what this will all mean. For those of us involved in EAS leadership, we sincerely hope it means more leadership at higher levels.
Al Jason, who has been repping ERI via his company RF Only has taken a job with Dielectric. Max Brown is now the ERI sales person for this area.
Now here's something that we should be doing here in the Seattle area. For several years Tom Cauthers (ex Collins/Continental salesman and more recently retired from KBPS) has been hosting a Broadcast Engineers' BarBQ at his place east of Portland. Had it not been for a conflict I would have attended the event this year. Now what do you say that our SBE Chapter host something like this in our area? Let me know what you think.
Got a very nice email from Dick Pust (GM of KGY in Olympia ). He told me that he had quite a time getting the AM section of the radio in his new car to work. Interesting that the radio was an AM-FM-XM model. Apparently they had to special-order a connector to make the AM antenna work. Hmmmm. Dick went on to relate how the quality of sound is a little better (but not much) than broadcast FM. He said that the number of dropouts is greater than expected. I still find it amazing, in the scheme of things, that any radio is able to pick up signals from a transmitter 25,000 miles away...when we know that even a good radio can have trouble with receiving a 100,000 watter at 30 miles. I rather think that the market for XM (or Sirius) is not so much those that live in urban areas...but rather those that travel a lot or live out in the wide open spaces. You have to wonder if the makers of after-market car radios will be putting out AM-FM-XM and HD Radio units in the future...or will one or more of the four be left out. In Dick's case, working in Olympia, HD Radio is not likely to have much to counter XM for some time. Even when the Seattle stations all fire up their HD transmitters, Olympia is likely to be on the fringe. Will stations like KGY, KXXO, KFMY, etc., install IBOC/HDR equipment on their transmitters so as to provide local HD? Certainly not in the short term. Down the road, even with HD-equipped radios on the market...locations like Olympia will see XM and Sirius with a very large headstart in the battle to sell Ones and Zeros to consumers.
Here's a local success story. VoxPro has interesting roots. As I understand it, long time local morning DJ Charlie Brown wanted a way to rapidly edit phone calls for his long time running KUBE morning show. He got together with some friends and before long the VoxPro was born. Before you knew it, the little Mac based editors were showing up in radio studios around the country. More recently they have come up with PC based systems (for those that did not want Apples in their house)...today the Bainbridge Island company's product is sold in 125 countries. Pretty cool, I'd say. I love to tell this story when I am traveling around the country and spot a Seattle based product out there.
Still nothing new on the Ibiquity/NRSC issue; therefore a lot of HD Radio is on hold. Meanwhile Motorola is jumping into the AM fray with their new Symphony chip. Looks like not only will this DSP gizmo result in better performing radio reception but they are looking to tie it into interactive radios. Seems to be a lot of enthusiasm for having radios connected to cellphones (the latter provides the return path) This would enable listeners to push a button or two on their radio in response to something they hear on the air...or is transmitted to them via RBDS. Certainly Ibiquity has the same thing in mind...the major difference here is that with Ibiquity and their HD Radio, the signal to the consumer would be a data-stream.
The FCC continues to find folks that have not installed EAS equipment. In this case, perhaps being in Puerto Rico has something to do with it. But even in P.R. the FCC sets policy. In this case the licensee of WENA will fork out 8 Grand for violating Section 11.35.
I love it when someone with minimal mathematical skills uses the term Billion. Here are 'billion-stats'....A billion seconds ago, it was 1959. A billion minutes ago, Jesus was alive. A billion hours ago...it was the stone age...and a billion dollars ago, it was about 8 hours ago...the way the Feds spend it.
Don Miller of Washington Emergency Management sent out some information recently on the new RCA Alert Guard TV set. This is very interesting. The set will have external contact points for attaching strobes, X10 devices, etc. The sets have a built-in weather radio receiver, programmable by the user and alerts scroll across the screen. Could this be the start of something? Let's hope so. You can likely find more information about this on the Thomson Web Site...or at www.NOAA.gov.
The world is still waiting for Ibiquity to resolve their bit compression scheme to the satisfaction of the NRSC. Word has it that they are working on this on several fronts and that something will be out shortly (perhaps by the time you read this???). Meanwhile there has perhaps been a degree of discord at the home of HD Radio. In late July many were stunned with the announcement that Glynn Walden was 'out'. Glynn was one of the cornerstones of the effort to get digital broadcasting off the ground in this country.
Have you been following the matter of Safety Cast? If not, let me give you a quick briefing. The scheme that Safety Cast has come up with would use very low powered FM transmitters, mounted in emergency vehicles, operating co-channel with what they refer to as 'popular' stations. The goal is to be able to override car radios with emergency messages from authorized vehicles. The firm sought an STA from the FCC to experiment with the scheme. Needless to say SBE (and many others) found a lot wrong with this proposal. Operating co-channel, for any reason, to a commercial Broadcast Station has created a number of arguments as to why the FCC should ' just say no'. Thankfully the FCC denied their application...but we are not out of the woods yet with concepts like these as there are others that are proposing broadcast channels be used for public warning systems. We should watch this activity very closely.
How many of you have over the years considered getting a Ham Radio license just to be turned off by the requirement to learn Morse Code? Well a few years ago the FCC pretty much dropped the requirement. Then came the retirement of the original digital mode by the military and marine operators...and now...we could be seeing the end of Morse at the World Radio Conference (WRC-03) leaving the matter to the individual countries.
Before I leave the subject of Ham Radio... Harry Lewis, W7JWJ, retired some years ago from our industry...but has up until this past June been very active in the political side of Amateur Radio, the ARRL, etc. Harry is finally retired! You see Harry and his wife Mary from time to time at SBE Functions...Congrats, Harry, for a very long career.
I love funny bumper stickers. This one was on the back of a Toyota Prius, the Gas/Electric hybrid. It read 'Eat My Voltage'. Apparently a variation of the old...Eat-My-Dust stickers. Also makes me wonder just how much is understood about Ohm's Law.
From time to time I see technical discreps on the company Engineering email. This one got me laughing. The operator at one of our stations wrote, "Que Speaker's freaking out" (remind me next time I run a glossary of technophobe terms to remember this one). I spoke to the engineer that was dispatched to the scene...he found that the operator had a channel in 'cue' that was producing some funny sounding noise. Obviously the term 'Freaking Out' tells the well rounded engineer exactly what's wrong.
Meanwhile in the national scene the picture is not pretty. With Congress and the White House/FCC on apparently opposite sides of the TV ownership issue. We may well see Congress want to override the FCC, with the White House talking veto. I have to wonder what this will lead to...and when will the 'other-shoe' drop. On the radio side Clear Channel, being the 'big-fish' on the pond, has drawn the most flack. It's pretty clear that being big is not an asset these days. An apparent 'fall-out' from all of this was noted near the end of July when the FCC put a hold on all new applications pending the outcome of this proceeding. Even if there are no multiple ownership issues, let's hope that this one is resolved shortly. Hopefully it has by the time you read this.
In reaction to other FCC actions...the SBE Frequency Coordination Committee is working with the Commish on how to deal with changes in how we use 2 Gig freqs. (Will this never end?)
Just for drill here are the most recent totals for stations in our land -
For TV -
For Radio -
Total stations, including translators - over 26,400 !
In the old days when a thief stole a piece of broadcast equipment they found themselves with a piece of unique equipment that was hard to turn into cash. Occasionally some, not too bright bulb, would come around trying to sell you something really cheap that you knew was stolen. Then came along the electronic fencing operation-E-Bay. More than one station has recovered their equipment after seeing a picture of it on the popular site, complete with the unique markings put there by the station's engineers. It's fun to scan the site looking to see what kind of Broadcast gear might turn up. A number of Hams have been looking for 1 kW AM rigs so they can turn them into very impressive 160 meter transmitters. You will even find Cart Machines for sale...in the event that you need some. Meanwhile, a Riverside, California station was offering a $10K reward for information leading to the arrest, etc., of the bad-guys that stole a TFT 'Reciter' from KWRP there.
As you all know, SBE has been involved in frequency coordination for many years. A few years ago we established a relationship with the NFL coordinating frequencies at professional football games. The process of 'event-coordination' is evolving to the point that event-coordination will likely become an increasing part of coordination. All this at a time that the FCC has effectively taken our point-to-point coordination work and given it to professional coordinators...this to become effective this October. SBE, at the national level, is now proposing that we take over the responsibility of coordinating frequencies at the next political conventions. Stay tuned!
Sorry to report that about 200 employees of Mackie Designs are losing their jobs as the company moves its manufacturing to China...apparently victims of labor costs.
My 'Corner' would not be complete without some 'educational' materials...
This month some new words that you may one day see in a dictionary:
Intaxication - That great feeling you have when you get your tax refunds, which lasts until you realize that it was YOUR money in the first place.
Bozone - The substance surrounding technophobes that stops bright ideas from penetrating. Often called the 'Bozone layer'.
Cashtration - The result of purchasing something very expensive that leaves you in debt for a long time. (Think home buying, or Lexus).
Giraffiti - Vandalism, spray-painted very high.
Sarchasm - The gulf between you and the understanding of your tone of voice.
Innoculatte - An experimental project whereby coffee lovers will be able to inject themselves.
Thanks all !.... See ya next month!
Clay, K7CR, CPBE
The End User
As this month's "End User" is going to press, your author is recovering from an outpatient surgical procedure and is working through some recently-discovered medical concerns - including a severe case of type-2 diabetes. That's one of the reasons there was no August edition of the "End User."
The following is my own opinion and in no way representative of SBE Chapter 16 or any of its management:
If you are over 35, and have not been screened for diabetes, please take my advice and get screened. Today. I had none of the "classic diabetes symptoms" (extreme thirst, cravings, etc.) and I didn't feel like I was sick at all. Diabetes is like that. Even if you feel fine, and have no history of it in your family (I didn't), you can still have the disease.
Modern medicine has made many advances in the fight on diabetes in just the past few years making it much easier to live a normal life and manage this disease. My glucose tester is an amazingly high-tech device not much larger than a belt-clip pager. And it completes its work in just 5 seconds. Incredible.
Since I'm still recovering, this month's column will be a bit shorter than usual. I expect to have a full "End User" for the next issue. I also wanted to thank those who've sent many notes of encouragement and support as I work through these medical concerns.
Now, on with the show!
You've read in this column (and elsewhere) about the multiple DVD-recordable formats and how the marketplace will most likely decide which will become the most-accepted one. Unlike the Beta/VHS format wars, the marketplace isn't showing allegiance to one DVD-recording format or the other, and is in fact responding positively to the recently-introduced multi-format DVD recorders. Pioneer introduced its multi-format DVD recorder to very positive retail reaction, and other manufacturers are readying multi-format recorders as well. This market movement could effectively end the format wars through compatibility, not format preference. (Imagine if that were the outcome in the Beta/VHS battles?)
And if you're interested, CDR-Info.com did a test on the two DVD-recorder formats, and found that the DVD-R/RW was more compatible with DVD-ROM drives and consumer DVD players. The format compatibility review is available at www.cdr-info.com.
Finally this month - it appears the newest requirement for new computers is noise reduction. Not the Dolby kind - the fan kind. Many users are complaining that faster CPUs, bigger hard drives and high-buck video cards are requiring so many fans that their PC rooms are starting to sound like the Boeing plant. Manufacturers are responding by offering liquid-cooled heat sinks for CPUs, new turbo-fan designs that move more air with less noise and the addition of noise-deadening material to the computer case interior.
That's it for this time. Be sure to send your questions and comments to email@example.com.
A Little SBE Humor
Will the owners of these two vehicles please report to the bottom of the mountain, you left your brakes off.
Garneth M. Harris
Newsletter archives are available
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.