CONTENTS

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Broadcast Auxiliary News

California Fires Affect Broadcasters

Certificaton Exam Session Dates

Random Radio Thoughts

Clay's Corner

FCC Rulemakings

RBDS Standard Up For Review

Renewed Interest In Transatlantic Telegraph Cable

SoftWright News

The End User

The YXZ Report

Conelrad Lives On!

ISP Woes

Etc.

 

November, 2003

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Broadcast Auxiliary News

By Cris Alexander CSRE
Crawford Broadcasting Company

The FCC, in an action that is almost incomprehensible, has denied the SBE-requested stay in the PCN coordination rules set to go into effect October 16.

"By this Order, we deny a Request for Extension of Temporary Stay (Request) filed by the Society of Broadcast Engineers, Inc., (SBE) to delay, by an additional six months, the effective date of coordination procedures adopted by the Report and Order in the above-captioned proceeding for most fixed point-to-point Aural and TV Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) stations. As a result of this action, the coordination rules become effective on October 16, 2003." - FCC

You can read all about this mess in the MO&O at:

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-03-246A1.doc

In short, this means that PCN coordination is now in effect for all fixed stations in the broadcast auxiliary service, including the 944-952 MHz aural STL band. This means that licensees wishing to file for new or modified Part 74 fixed stations must undergo Part 101.103(c)-type prior coordination notification (PCN) coordination. The problem with this is that much of the information needed to accurately perform this coordination, such as receive site coordinates and antenna height, are missing from the FCC's BAS database. This is a legacy of the FCC's old Form 313 BAS application form, which did not request nor require this information.

The FCC also denied a request by the SBE to suspend filing fees for Part 74 applications that correct or supply missing information in the BAS database for a period of time. As a result, licensees must pony up the $120 filing fee for each record that they correct. While some may be inclined to ignore the issue and forego making the corrections (after all, this is an FCC problem, not ours, right?), it is in your best interests to pay the fee and make sure your database records are correct. Otherwise, other licensees performing PCN coordinations will be relying on incomplete or inaccurate information and your BAS stations may receive interference as a result.

Thankfully, you do have some options for PCN coordination. There is always the rather pricey Comsearch, which has been doing Part 101 coordinations for many years (who of us has not received a notification from Comsearch about some link or pager in the 930 MHz band going in near one of our STLs?). Terrestrial RF Licensing, a start-up coordination firm, is reportedly getting into the PCN business. As soon as I get their phone number and/or URL, I will pass it along to you. RF Studies, Ltd. is also offering PCN coordination. Visit them online at (http://www.rfstudiesltd.com). Both these firms will reportedly offer broadcast auxiliary PCN coordination services at a rate considerably below the Comsearch rate.

While it is somewhat arduous, licensees can do their own PCN coordination.

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California Fires Affect Broadcasters

Among the many stories of interest coming out of the California fires this week is the impact on radio stations.

http://www.rwonline.com/dailynews/one.php?id=4087

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Certificaton Exam Session Dates

Exam Dates

Location

Application Deadline

December 31, 2003

Local Chapters

February 6-16, 2004

March 2, 2004

NAB - Las Vegas

April 20, 2004

April 23, 2004

Local Chapters

June 4-14, 2004

The Society of Broadcast Engineers offers a program of certification for broadcast engineers ranging from the entry-level Broadcast Technologist to the 20-plus-years-of-experience-needed Professional Broadcast Engineer. The program includes certification for Audio and Video Engineers, and Broadcast Network Technologist which does not include any RF related questions.

SBE Certification provides recognition of your experience and knowledge in the field of broadcast engineering. It also shows others that you have made a serious commitment to stay current with new technology, regulations, and practices. Application and test dates are listed below in the calendar section of this newsletter.

For more information about SBE Certification, contact the National SBE office or the Chapter 48 Certification Chairman Fred Baumgartner.

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Random Radio Thoughts

Cris Alexander, CSRE
Crawford Broadcasting Company

NAB Radio Show
This year's NAB Radio Show in Philadelphia (Oct. 1-3) was worth attending, with a number technical sessions dealing with antennas, digital audio and HD radio. One of the more interesting sessions was the AM/FM Antenna Certification Workshop. Tom Silliman (ERI),Bob Surrette (Shively) and Charles Cooper (duTreil, Lundein & Rackley) provided some excellent insights on FM antennas and their use for both analog and digital applications. Ben Dawson, Tom King and Ron Rackley provided a good discussion of AM antennas, networks and components, including the new low-profile Kinstar antenna (one is reportedly being considered locally for Estes Park).

Technical workshops were also offered on digital radio certification and AM/FM transmitter certification. Broadcast Electronics hosted a very informative off-site session on HD Radio implementation.

The iBiquity Digital booth was a focal point on the exhibit floor. Live, over-the-air demos of both AM and FM HD Radio broadcasts were available using production and prototype receivers. While in the iBiquity booth, I tuned in the local Philly stations and even WOR in New York. No doubt about it, the new HDC coder is a huge improvement over PAC.

One of the show's highlights was Rush Limbaugh's keynote address. This came on the heels of Rush's controversial comments on ESPN regarding Philadelphia Eagles QB Donovan McNabb and subsequent resignation. The keynote became a media event, with both local and national news media covering the event (maybe the Enquirer was there, too). Still, Rush had a lot to offer broadcasters, including words of inspiration and wisdom about programming and sales strategies. He encouraged broadcasters not to sell themselves short, to raise rates rather than lowering them and to hire "professional" talk hosts rather than some of the first-timers that seem to find themselves on the air these days. Rush also had some critical words to say about the PrimeImage Cash time-compression device which has been used to squeeze additional commercial time into his program.

LPFM News
Last month, the FCC extended to October 14 the public comment deadline on the Mitre report, which makes a case for eliminating third-adjacent channel protections for full-power FM stations. If adopted, this could result in a flood of new LPFM applications and licenses, with a number right here in Denver metro. The NAB has, of course, opposed this proposal and argued the validity of the report. NPR also says that the Mitre report has "significant flaws", but it recommended in its comments that the FCC begin authorizing a limited number of third-adjacent 100-watt LPFMs on a trial basis in the top 20 markets (that means Denver). The proposal recommends that the FCC collect listener complaints during the one-year test instead of doing more field testing. This could get interesting.

eBay?
Would eBay be a place you would look for a transmitter? Maybe it should be. Crawford had a Harris MW-50A that we needed to sell and I briefly thought about listing it on eBay. I didn't, though, and we eventually sold it through a broker. KLOK in San Jose did list an MW-50 on eBay, however, and it sold... for $10,100! The winning bidder was Judy Ellis, COO of Citadel.

FCC Enforcement
It seems the FCC's Compliance and Information Bureau has been busy checking up on broadcast towers. An AM station in Pennsylvania was fined $20,000 for failure to register, light and enclose a tower. A Cumulus station in Wisconsin was hammered to the tune of $7,000 for an unlocked base fence. Denver-based NextMedia was hit for $7,000 for a tower lighting violation in its Erie, Pennsylvania market. The FCC later backed off the NextMedia fine.

With the CIB making the rounds, it would be a good thing for each of us to take a hard look at our towers and make sure they are registered, that the registration number is properly posted, that the marking and lighting are as specified on the registration, and that the base is fenced and locked. One battle that I have fought with the CIB on a number of occasions has to do with the placement of registration signage at the gate or entrance to the property. The FCC's policy manual says that ASRN signage should be posted at the gate or property entrance, but the rules say that the sign must be located "...in a conspicuous place so that it is readily visible near the base of the antenna structure." While we have received a Notice of Apparent Liability for not having signage at the gate on a number of occasions, we have never been fined.

If you have news you would like to share with the Denver radio engineering community, email me at crisa@crawfordbroadcasting.com.

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Clay's Corner

Featuring News, Rumors and Views
From Usually Reliable and Irrefutable Sources

By Clay Freinwald
Seattle Chapter 16

As I sit here and etch out this column in mid-September, our record breaking summer is becoming a distant and fond memory. For those of us that work up on Tiger Mt. it means the return of 'normal' driving conditions. When the fire danger in that zone reaches Level 3 they do not want us on the road between 1 and 8 PM, thereby creating some interesting changes of work hours. When the danger reaches Level 4 (as it did recently) the woods are officially closed and they do not want us in there at all. Now with things nice and wet again we have a couple of months before the onset of 'white.'

Yours truly has been working up there pretty much full time for the past few months installing all the stuff necessary to turn on a bunch of IBOC systems. ERI, the maker of our Master Antenna system was supposed to have delivered the modification hardware the last week in July with the first weekend in August set aside for installation. Great plans based on statistical weather info. As 'Murphy' would have it, we were not able to get the hardware and do the installation until the 6th of September... the Rains returned the next day. We just barely made it, thanks in great part to John and the crew from Seacomm that turned out in large numbers. ERI sent out a 'field-tech' to perform a couple of days of measurements... again, with "Murphy" in firm control, those planned two days turned out to be nine with over 100 hours spent measuring and tweaking, etc. The good news is that the Master Antenna is now modified for IBOC or HD Radio. Now we wait for ERI to tell us when they are ready for PhaseTwo, the installation of the equipment on the Combiner that will give us something to connect all those new digital transmitters to. Radio is now going through what TV did a while back with HD. We are all on a very steep learning curve, discovering and resolving problems-on the fly. Stay tuned, I will tell you how it's going as we move along.

As you know, the NRSC threw a monkey-wrench into the Ibiquity HD Radio works a while back over the quality of audio produced by their compression scheme at a lot of bit rates. Looks like this is turning out to be very good news as Ibiquity has gone back to the drawing-board and reworked the system to the point that everyone is raving about the improvement. This is very good news for those eight local stations that have already made a considerable investment in hardware for the new radio system. From what I understand we may have all received the new software by the time you read this.

Before I forget it, I want to thank all of you that voted for me in the recent SBE national election. I will now be beginning my 3rd and final term on the SBE national BOD. I should note that our state is well represented with Ralph Hogan (from WSU) being elected Secretary. I will discover whether or not I will continue to lead the SBE EAS Committee at the upcoming BOD meeting in Madison, Wisconsin on Oct 14th.

In other news -

According to published reports, our local broadcast company, Fisher, continues to struggle financially.

Looks like Sun is attempting to challenge Microsoft in the desktop world. This will be interesting.

A recent medical study has confirmed what most Engineers have known for a long time...a tight necktie is bad for you. The test showed that those with neckties have an increase in blood pressure in the head as well as an increase in intraocular pressure that increases the risk of glaucoma. I'm sure that you may find this tidbit useful one day.

The FCC's effort at easing media ownership rules has resulted in a big stink in WDC with the Senate recently voting with those that have been opposing the new rules. Wonder if the FCC will now be a bit more cautious? Perhaps the new method will be to issue an NPRM to Congress for new changes? The FCC is already reacting with proposals on how it plans to increase localism and has fired back asking Congress to draft new media rules. Interesting times?

Qwest, our very own local phone company, is reportedly going to start offering Satellite TV... in partnership with the two satellite TV providers. Perhaps a reaction to the cable companies offering Internet and Dial-tone services. Reminds me that I have a good friend that has Comcast cable into his house for the single purpose of their Internet connection...and NOT for watching TV. He uses an outside antenna and actually watches Broadcast TV! If a local station wants to do a story on this very unusual person, give me a call for his name.

On the subject of Comcast... I assume that you have all seen the big newspaper ads that Comcast has run whereby they tell all that they are now transporting KOMO's HD offerings. The unfortunate part is that it's on their Digital Cable Channel 104 which means that you must pay for more than just basic cable to receive it. But at least it's a start in the right direction. The FCC is helping with this transition with new rules that will enable consumers to plug their CATV cables directly into their DT Sets without the need for set-top boxes. Now what we need is DT TV Sets. Seems that everyone is selling 'Monitors' but when you ask about receivers you still get the 'deer in the headlights' expression. Kinda like buying a computer... with the fine print telling you that the monitor is extra.

The battle between the French and Yanks continues.... Now we learn that the French are banning the term 'e-mail'. The French General Commission on Terminology and Neology of the Ministry of Culture hath spoken. It's now 'COURRIEL'...which in French is a contraction of their words for courier and electronic. Would it have not been easier to just add an 'le' in front, making it 'le-email' ? Meanwhile, enjoy your "Freedom Fries."

Entercom, my paycheck provider, has announced that they will be providing Automated External Defibrillators for all markets. A great move on Entercom's part. Wonder how many other Broadcasters are doing the same?

Three tower workers were recently killed in Huntsville, Alabama, when the WAAY tower collapsed. According to reports, the tower was owned by SpectraSite.

If you have been following the FCC's actions in the world of FM, you know that a whole lot of what's going on involves LPFM's and translators with a huge number of applications being filed. It will be interesting to see which of the boat-load of applications for these things actually gets granted around these parts.

Radio and perhaps EAS will have to again be the provider of much needed news and official information with the hurricane that is slated to strike the east coast this week. These big storms often result in extensive power failures, but just like the recent NE Blackout, Radio has come to the rescue. In these cases, TWO kinds of Radio. Commercial AM and FM and Amateur. The Hams again proved their valuable contribution to the good of the order in the NE Blackout. The NE Blackout started another round of 'should EAS have been activated' discussions much like the post 9-11 debate. If the blackout uncovered a lot of things that were wrong with emergency communications and public warning systems.

We should all be asking ourselves, what would we do if it happened here. I trust that the vast majority of citizens would be scrambling to find a radio and then they would go searching for answers to their questions, in the meantime clogging up the phone lines and cell systems calling their friends and relatives to find out if their power was out also. TV viewing would be reduced to a handful of folks that have generators. Radio broadcasters would be faced with the decision of whether or not to continue with their established format or drop it all and go for news and information. Entercom and Fisher would have the advantage here with their established news departments; the others would be longing for an emergency procedure....which brings me to my point. Does your station have an established (I mean in writing) procedure for dealing with issues like these? If not, might be a good time to get the job done.

I recently wrote about RBDS. This generated ONE comment (as you can see RBDS is REALLY a popular subject) from Walt Lowery. Walt is now working with local RBDS guru, Allen Hartle, on selling new offerings for this mode. Walt noted that he has an RBDS radio in his BMW. (You are right, Walt, I now know THREE people with RBDS Radios. Anyone else?)

I suppose that you heard about the defective solar cells on some satellites that are causing Boeing major grief? This is apparently impacting Satellite Radio with XM announcing that they are going to have to replace their two birds, Rock and Roll, sooner than expected. This is gonna hurt as this industry tries to get up and running. Reportedly XM now has about 3/4 Million subscribers with Sirius having only a fraction of that. I was interested to note that the rental vehicle driven by Jeff Taylor of ERI, while here working on the Tiger Mt Antenna, had a Sirius system installed. It was from Hertz.

I recently wrote about TV channel 1. This created a response from Charlie, K7NW, who wanted me to know that he worked for WUFT in Gainesville, Florida, back in 1966 and they had an old GE rig that was originally built for Channel 1 right before it was deleted. This rig was converted, in the field, to Ch 5 where it was used until the early 70s. Thanks Charley.

How about WUFF in Eastman, Ga.? Seems that their transmitter's coordinates and actual location are about a mile off. The FCC figured that this was worth about 4-Grand. The owner argued that they had been using the same coordinates for 30 years; and further that three (what they called highly qualified) engineers gave them the wrong information. The argument did not help much; the FCC stated that it has long held that licensees are responsible for the acts of its agents... but the fine was reduced to 3-Grand. This brings to mind the question: If an engineer gives inaccurate coordinates to an owner and that owner gets fined, can the owner seek relief from the engineer? Perhaps this would be like the question, if a DJ says something really wrong on the air, and the FCC fines the station... can the owner of the station in turn sue the DJ for damages?

If you want to see what the FCC is up to in the wonderful world of enforcement - Check out www.fcc.gov/eb/FieldNotices.

Will we see BPL (Broadband over Power Line)? Not if the ARRL has anything to say about it. The Amateur Radio organization is battling the idea based on their concern that it will create lots of interference. The NTIA has also weighed in on this one expressing their concerns. I found it amusing that a recent Dilbert cartoon dealt with the issue, and suggested that the next frontier would be transporting data via the sewers.

Seems like every month I have to report on the passing of a familiar name in our industry. This time it's Roy Neal, K6DUE. Roy was long-time science reporter for NBC and often reported on NASA events. He was 82 and underwent heart surgery on August 12th.

This past month I found out the origin of the term 'computer bug'. According to the U.S. Naval Historical Center, the first computer bug was indeed an insect. In this case a moth between some relay contacts of an old Aiken Relay Calculator being tested at Harvard University on Sept 9th of 1945. The log showed that they had 'debugged' the machine. And all the time we thought that the term 'bug' had nothing to do with insects at all! Armed with this historic data we now are free to use the term 'bug' when describing the impact of insects in other systems around the plant...

Seattle is become a wireless Internet hot spot with WiFi cropping up everywhere you look. The feature is no longer limited to just high-end coffee shops as McDonalds joins the revolution. On the subject, advancements are being made to 802.11 with 'g' rolling out. Have to wonder what will happen when a high-power ENG unit 'lights up' right outside?

Here's one that sounds too good to be true - The Senate Appropriations Committee recently-approved funding for the FCC includes 2.6 megabucks to hire 20 more Engineers. More Engineers!!!! Let's wait and see what really happens when Congress finishes with it.

As usual I will close this column with some 'educational material' Titled - 'Understanding Engineers'. Those of you who read this column and are NOT Engineers, this will be of great help to you!

LESSON ONE

  • To the optimist, the glass is half full.
  • To the pessimist, the glass is half empty.
  • To the salesman, both contents and container are for sale.
  • To the manager, why did we pay so much for this and was it really needed?
  • To the accounting department, are you sure you filled out a PO for it?
  • To the promotion department, can't we get these in a better color?
  • To the Engineer - The glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

LESSON TWO
You show a piece of equipment to a co-worker

  • The grad with a science degree asks, "Why does it work?"
  • The grad with an accounting degree asks, "How much will it cost?"
  • The grad with an ENGINEERING degree asks, "How does it work?"
  • The grad with an Arts degree asks, "Would you like fries with that?"

LESSON THREE
Normal people believe that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.

LESSON FOUR
If it is broken - Engineers know that someone other than an Engineer has 'messed' with it.

That's it for this month. Next month I will report on my trip to the National Board Meeting and other things vital for your survival. Until then, avoid smiling when working on something; it will make others think that you are really into your work.

Clay, K7CR, CPBE
clayscorner@sbe16.org

The above comments and opinions are those of Clay Freinwald. They are not the opinion of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, Inc., or Seattle Chapter 16, Inc.

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FCC Rulemakings

Thanks to Tom Smith
Chapter 24

FINAL RULEMAKING
CS Docket No. 97-80; PP Docket No. 00-67
Implementation of Section 304 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996; Commercial Availability of Navigation Devices; Compatibility Between Cable Systems and Consumer Electronics Equipment, Second Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

The FCC has adopted rules that will allow TV set and set-top box manufacturers to make equipment that is plug and play to digital cable. The FCC will require all sets that are equipped to receive digital cable transmissions must also be able to receiver digital over-the-air broadcast signals. The rules are for one-way reception of services for TV sets and set-top boxes only. Cable companies will still supply two-way and interactive units.

All high definition set-top boxes supplied by cable operators must have 1394 firewire connections after April 1, 2004 and digital visual interface (DVI) or high definition multimedia interface (HDMI) after July 1, 2005. All cable companies must operate their digital systems in conformity to specific technical standards. The sets will have a slot for a security card for the receiver to get premium programming services. The slot will have to meet the DFAST license standard. Sets that are labeled "Digital Cable Ready" must meet certain technical standards, have DVI or HDMI interfaces using high-bandwidth digital content protection (HDCP). The standards for content protection will be set in the near future. Manufacturers must include information in the instruction manual on the need to obtain a security card from their cable company to receive digital services.

In addressing other copyright considerations and their effect on the viewer, the FCC prohibited the use of selectable output controls by multichannel video programming distributors (MVPD) and down-resolution (reducing hi-definition video to standard definition) for all broadcast programming by MVPDs. The FCC limited copy protection encoding over cable to no restrictions for copying broadcast programming, copy once for basic and extended basic cable services, and never copy for pay-per-view and video-on demand. The Commission will introduce further rules pertaining to copy protection in conjunction with broadcast copy protection rules.

This action was adopted on September 10, 2003. The FCC issued a Consumer fact sheet on "Cable Plug and Play" on its web site along with the press release.

From FCC Releases (www.fcc.gov)

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RBDS Standard Up For Review

The National Radio Standards Committee is reconvening the subcommittee on the Radio Broadcast Data System. Members say it's been five years since the RBDS standard has been reviewed, hitting the timeframe in which the NRSC needs to review all of its standards periodically.

The group would have three options regarding the American RBDS standard: leave it as is, retire it or change it.

Entercom Vice President of Engineering Marty Hadfield and Allen Hartle, president of The Radio Experience, have agreed to co-chair the committee. Former chair Scott Wright, who worked for Delphi when he held that position, is no longer in the consumer electronics industry, sources said.

A growing number of companies including Microsoft, Clear Channel, and Entercom have invested in the FM subcarrier technology. RBDS is also available in more car radios now, adding to increased interest among broadcasters, sources said.

The reconvening of the RBDS subcommittee (the group was never de- activated) was expected to be on the agenda at the NRSC meeting at the NAB Radio Show in Philadelphia, said NAB's David Layer.

Several companies and broadcasters are members of the subcommittee; to learn more about joining, go to: www.nrscstandards.org.

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Renewed Interest In Transatlantic Telegraph Cable

By Vicki W. Kipp Chapter 24

Have you noticed the topic of the laying of the transatlantic telegraph cable keeps coming up? After sinking into obscurity after the transatlantic telephone cable was run in 1956, the undersea telegraph cable is once again a trendy topic. I was curious why people are talking about the cable now, after all this time. I think that the 150th anniversary of underwater telegraph communications has spawned curiosity about the cable.

Beginning with an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., the transatlantic cable has enjoyed a bit of celebrity. To celebrate the 150 years of communication under the sea since the Brett brothers successfully joined England and France by laying an underwater telegraph cable in 1851, the Smithsonian hosted an 18-month exhibit. Opening on March 23, 2001, "The Underwater Web: Cabling the Seas" was created by guest Curator Bernard S. Finn. The exhibit was sponsored by TyCom, an American company that manufactures components for and builds global fiber optic cable networks. Although the Smithsonian exhibit has ended, you can still view the display at http://www.sil.si.edu/Exhibitions/Underwater-Web/.

Author and engineer Steve Lampen from Belden Cable shared the history of the transatlantic cable with broadcast engineers when he presented "Broadcast Engineering on the Lite Side" at the 2002 WBA/SBE Broadcaster's Clinic. Lampen provided an overview of the installation of the transatlantic cable in his November 2002 and January 2003 "Wired for Sound" columns in Radio World magazine.

Esteemed business writer John Steele Gordon published a non-fiction account of the great cable in May 2002 called A Thread Across the Ocean: The Heroic Story of the Transatlantic Cable. Much slimmer than the novel reviewed next, this narrative gives you the straight facts along with some stories of interest. Most of the initiative to lay the cable came from the U.S.'s desire to end America's isolation, but much of the funding came from England. A Thread Across the Ocean contains clear illustrations of equipment, people, and cable route maps. This book is available for checkout as a hardcover book or book-on-cassette from the South Central Library System at http://www.linkcat.info/.

In 2003, novelist John Griesemer released a fictional account of the laying of the transatlantic telegraph cable called Signal & Noise. This ambitious book covers the project from the launching of the Great Eastern steam ship in 1857 through the successful installation of a transatlantic cable in 1866. This 593-page epic saga was described as the "beach read of the summer" in a Wisconsin State Journal review. I'm not sure what the reviewer uses as criteria for a "beach read", but personally I expect a "beach read" to be a light, entertaining, page-turner of a book.

While I found Signal & Noise interesting when it discussed the technical problems associated with the cable, the book was bogged down with too much non-technical drama for my taste. The characters were fraught with serious personal problems. This book is fictional, but it included real-life folks such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Dr. Edward Orange Wildman Whitehouse, Professor William Thomson, and Cyrus Field. Signal & Noise contains a historic plot involving President Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. Although the Civil war occurred from 1860 - 1865, right in the middle of the laying of the transatlantic Cable, reading about both historical events in one book demanded a wide focus. I found the mix of history and fiction confusing because it was challenging to distinguish the factual information from the fictional plots.

I credit the author, John Griesemer, for the creativity he demonstrated in inventing the many dramatic issues in this novel. He appears to have researched the people, times, and places in his novel exhaustively. The story is rich with vivid, believable descriptions. The value of this book is in the way that Griesemer describes the characters in such detail that they become three-dimensional. Reading this book, I almost felt like I knew Brunel, Whitehouse, Thomson, and Field, or at least could imagine these real people as they were represented. I did not experience this same sense of getting inside the character's thoughts when I read a non-fiction account of the transatlantic cable project. Signal & Noise is available for checkout from the South Central Library System. If you're interested in learning more about the laying of the transatlantic cable, please browse the related articles about the people and timeline of the development of the transatlantic cable. Don't be shy about bringing up the timely topic of the transatlantic cable in conversation-if you're talking with engineering-types, that is!

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SoftWright News

High-Resolution Three-Second Terrain Data Available for South and Central America!

SoftWright is now selling new high-resolution 3-second SRTM terrain data for South and Central America. This means that you will now be able to use high-end RF design tools like the Terrain Analysis Package (TAP) software to do more meaningful path and propagation studies. We have incorporated the ability to read this new data format in our software.

December TAP/OverSite Engineering Seminars

December 1-3, 2003 are the dates for our upcoming TAP/OverSite Engineering Seminars. The actual seminars will be at our new conference center in our offices. For details see http://www.softwright.com/seminar.html.

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The End User


by Rich Petschke
Radio Technology Manager,
Fisher Radio Seattle

Spam.

We hate it. In Washington, we hate it so much that we even have a law against it. And you may have heard about the Redmond, WA individual who recently won a $250,000 judgment against an Ohio couple for flooding him with over 58,000 e-mail messages.

So maybe you're thinking about following this man's lead? Well, you may not have known that there's a website for Washington residents to register their e-mail addresses. Think of it as a "do-not-spam" list - but unlike the "do-not-call" list, e-mailers are not required to check this e-mail registry. According to the site, however, "your rights to take individual action under the (WA anti-spam) law and the state's right to jurisdiction are protected when you register your E-mail address. So it's definitely worth the few minutes to register your e-mail addresses - even if you're not planning litigation. The site is at http://registry.waisp.org.

And here's another suggestion for reducing "spam:" If you post to a message board or list yourself in an e-mail directory, get a "disposable" e-mail account (from Yahoo, MyRealBox or any other free e-mail provider) and post that e-mail address instead. Most free e-mail providers have sophisticated spam controls so you can filter out the "good" messages from the junk.

Comcast broadband users got great news last month: The company plans to double download speeds by the end of the year. That means downloads of up to 3Mb/sec - almost as much bandwidth as two T1s provide - in your home. Upload speed will remain at 256 kb/sec. And - for now, anyway - no service price increases are planned.

DVD Burners should hit the sub-$100 price point by the time this month's column hits your mailbox - or Inbox, as the case may be...

Have you hit the new Fry's store in Renton yet? I haven't been able to get there yet due to my surgery recovery, but I plan to sometime this month. I've shopped at other Fry's locations in California, and I don't expect this one will be much different. Great deals can be had at Fry's - but you have to do your homework first before heading to the store.

Hard to believe, but it's almost time to get ready for another holiday season. Last month, the major computer manufacturers rolled out their offerings for the biggest shopping season of the year, with starter systems including a 2.5GHz Celeron and a CD burner for just over $450 - without the monitor, of course.

If a gaming system is on your shopping list this year, don't expect to see many price cuts from manufacturers - instead, they are creating new "bundles" to keep prices the same. Microsoft, for example, is rolling out a new $180 bundle including a two-month trial for its "Xbox live" online service.

That's it for October. Send your questions and comments to enduser@sbe16.org. Happy Trick-or-Treating - see you next month!

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The YXZ Report

by Kent Randles K7YXZ CBRE
Co-Chair, Portland/Vancouver ECC
kent at randles.com

TWO FAMOUS GUYS GO TO RADIO HEAVEN
Gordon Jump, who played befuddled WKRP-Cincinnati Station Manager Arthur "The Big Guy" Carlson on the cult 1978-1982 CBS-TV classic "WKRP in Cincinnati" died Monday [September 22nd]. He was 71 years old and suffered from pulmonary fibrosis.

Jump began his career working at radio and TV stations in the Midwest. He worked behind the microphone and the camera, including jobs as a producer for Kansas and Ohio stations. His dramatic roles included a part in the TV movie "Ruby and Oswald," about the assassination of President Kennedy, and "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes." The Dayton native also made his mark in commercials as the [second] lonely Maytag repairman.

Sheb Wooley died Tuesday, September 16th in Nashville, according to a publicist's statement. He had leukemia. Wooley was 82. Known to TV and film viewers as an original cast member of "Hee Haw" and performer of the novelty song "Purple People Eater," he was a songwriter and actor who earlier had radio shows in Oklahoma and, later, on WLAC and WSM in Nashville in the 1940s. He also had a show on the Calumet Radio Network.

Wooley signed with Bullet Records and MGM Records. After moving to Hollywood in the 1950s, he appeared in films including "High Noon," "War Wagon," "Giant," "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," "The Outlaw Josey Wales," and "Silverado." He played Pete Nolan in the TV series "Rawhide" and had a hit song in 1958 with "Purple People Eater." He also recorded [Country] parody songs under the name Ben Colder.

BOTH ROME AND ROHN DECLARE BANKRUPTCY
When someone told me that Rome Cable Corporation had declared bankruptcy, I said "Rohn?" and they said no, Rome. Well, they have both filed for Chapter 11. Rohn being famous for towers, and Rome (actually the parent company Rome Group Inc. filed) possibly being famous for Romex brand residential electrical cable. Michael Brown says more about Rohn later in this newsletter.

IRLP AND 10 METER FM
I had the most interesting ham radio experience on September 30. After weeks of the 10 meter ham band (28-30 MHz) not being "open" (having good propagation), signals were bombing into Portland during the day on both the 29th & 30th. During my lunch hour on the 30th, taken while my vehicle was parked in front of the "new" Skyline Tower building at about 1000' elevation, I tuned around to see what I could hear, and possibly talk to.

Through a repeater on 29.68 MHz FM, I talked to a couple stations in Tennessee, but I kept hearing 10 meter FM repeaters from the New York City area. I saw in the ARRL Repeater Guide that there was a repeater on that frequency in upstate Rochester, NY that used a 123 Hz subaudible tone, so I turned the encoder on. Sure enough, I could key up the Rochester repeater and hear its ID'er. When I gave my call and mentioned that I thought I was bringing up the Rochester repeater, Bob Shewell N2HJD, who is that repeater's trustee, came back to say that indeed, I was full quieting into their repeater.

It turns out that this was no ordinary system I was talking through. Bob calls it a "Megaplex" since it has 23 receivers and 19 transmitters, run by 14 controllers for 13 repeaters at 11 sites, on 6 bands. You can see the details at http://www.frontiernet.net/~mje/n2hjd.htm. It also has IRLP node 7250. I have written in this newsletter about the Internet Repeater Linking Project before (http://www.irlp.net/), since I'm involved with Portland node 3420, which is part of a repeater at the Stonehenge site on 440.45.

Bob says "We also have an IRLP node. Is there a node near you?" I grin and tell him 3420, and he dials it up, connecting together our repeaters in the two cities. He says "If you can monitor BOTH frequencies, you can hear what your 10 meter signal sounds like in Rochester." I turn on my handheld, hold it in my left hand out the driver's window, and talk into the mic in my right hand that's for my HF radio. With the slight delay of voice-over-IP I hear my voice, which has traveled over the air by ham radio from Portland to Rochester, NY on 29.68, has returned to Portland via the internet, and is coming out of my handheld which is tuned to the IRLP repeater on 440.45. It was very bizarre.

This experience reminded me of something, which I remembered a day later. During my first-ever ham radio contact, when I was 14 and I had my novice ham license (which was Morse code only), I had the other station call me on the phone and hold the handset next to his receiver so that I could hear my signal.

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Conelrad Lives On!

From Fred Baumgartner

From: AM-DXer@webtv.net
Subject: New old receiver

I picked up a really neat 1950s Conelrad AM band receiver at the RMRL hamfest here in Denver today. I've posted some pics on my AM-DXer website (see address below) if you want to take a look. Look for the CONELRAD RECEIVER tab.

It is a Motorola DS-9660B. It seems to be in working condition. It must have been used here in the Denver area. It is crystalled for 850 to monitor KOA.

These must have been very expensive when new. I paid $5 for it! Does anyone have a schematic for these rigs?

Patrick Griffith, N0NNK
CBT CBNT CRO
Westminster, CO, USA

http://community.webtv.net/AM-DXer/
http://community.webtv.net/N0NNK/

Not a bad find Pat. I haven't seen one of these is years and years... I do recall that is basically an all-American-five tube design, and I suspect the only real variation is that the filaments are feed from a transformer instead of in series off the line voltage, the LO has that switch and crystal arrangement, and I'll bet the AVC circuit has an amplifier and comparator to trip a carrier loss and unmute relay. Another tube will be the latching circuit that mutes the receiver.

Gosh, this is so much easier to do with a few transistors :)...

You say it works... and I have no idea if there is a schematic (maybe a Sams) for it... but I'm old enough that I could all but look at it and know what's going on... Replace the caps... they have to be dry as a bone and humming, and collect spare tubes... that should keep it alive longer than you and I are... fmb

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ISP Woes

What follows is a superb example of British humour in A LETTER THAT WAS TRULY WITTEN AND SENT, albeit, somewhat edited for content. The piece suggests two things:

1) Americans and Canadians are not the only ones who get poor service from their ISP, cable and/or alarm companies. (The name SVR has been substituted for the real name of a cable operator in Britain).

2) The Brits probably write the world's best letters of complaint.

Dear Cretins:

I have been an SVR customer since 9th July 2001, when I signed up for your four-in-one deal for cable TV, cable modem, telephone, and alarm monitoring. During this three-month period I have encountered inadequacy of service of which I had not previously considered possible, as well as ignorance and stupidity of monolithic proportions. Please allow me to provide specific details, so that you can either pursue your professional prerogative and seek to rectify these difficulties -- or more likely (I suspect) so that you can have some entertaining reading material as you while away the working day smoking B&H and drinking vendor-coffee on the bog in your office.

My initial installation was cancelled without warning, resulting in my spending an entire Saturday sitting on my fat arse waiting for your technician to arrive. When he did not arrive, I spent a further 57 minutes listening to your infuriating hold music, and the even more annoying Scottish robot woman telling me to look at your helpful website. HOW?

I alleviated the boredom by (twiddling my thumbs) for a few minutes -- an activity at which you are no doubt both familiar and highly adept. The rescheduled installation then took place some two weeks later, although the technician did forget to bring a number of vital tools -- such as a drill-bit, and his cerebrum.

Two weeks later, my cable modem had still not arrived. After 15 telephone calls over four weeks my modem arrived, six weeks after I had requested it -- and begun to pay for it. I estimate your internet server's downtime is roughly 35% -- the hours between about 6 pm and midnight, Monday through Friday, and most of the weekend. I am still waiting for my telephone connection.

I have made nine calls on my mobile to your no-help line, and have been unhelpfully transferred to a variety of disinterested individuals who are, it seems, also highly skilled (expletive deleted) jugglers. I have been informed that a telephone line is available (and someone will call me back); that I will be transferred to someone who knows whether or not a telephone line is available (and then been cut off); that I will be transferred to someone (and then been redirected to an answering machine informing me that your office is closed); that I will be transferred to someone and then been redirected to the irritating Scottish robot woman. And several other variations on this theme.

Doubtless you are no longer reading this letter, as you have at least a thousand other dissatisfied customers to ignore, and also another one of those crucially important (personal) moments to attend to. Frankly I don't care. It's far more satisfying as a customer to voice my frustrations in print than to shout them at your unending hold music. Forgive me, therefore, if I continue.

I thought British Telecom was (awful); that they had attained the holy (expletive deleted) of awful customer relations; and that no one, anywhere, ever, could be more disinterested, less helpful or more obstructive to delivering service to their customers. That's why I chose SVR, and because, well, there isn't anyone else is there?

How surprised I therefore was, when I discovered to my considerable dissatisfaction and disappointment what a useless shower of (idiots) you truly are. You are (slime) filled pieces of incompetence of the highest order. BT - (terrible) though they are -- shine like brilliant beacons of success in the filthy mire of your seemingly limitless inadequacy.

Suffice to say that I have now given up on my futile and foolhardy quest to receive any kind of service from you. I suggest that you cease any potential future attempts to extort payment from me for the services which you have so pointedly and catastrophically failed to deliver. Any such activity will be greeted initially with hilarity and disbelief and will quickly be replaced by derision, and even perhaps bemused rage.

I enclose two small deposits, selected with great care from my cat's litter tray, as an expression of my utter and complete contempt for both you and your pointless company. I sincerely hope that they have not become desiccated during transit -- they were satisfyingly moist at the time of posting, and I would feel considerable disappointment if you did not experience both their rich aroma and delicate texture. Consider them the very embodiment of my feelings towards SVR, and its worthless employees.

Have a nice day. May it be the last in your miserable short lives, you irritatingly incompetent and infuriatingly unhelpful bunch of twits.

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Etc.

Newsletter Committee

Bill Harris
  (303)756-4843
   billharris@ix.netcom.com

Garneth M. Harris
  (303)756-4843

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