CONTENTS

Return to Archives

HD Boot Camp A Success

Random Radio Thoughts

Where Is Your Value

Alignment At 450/455 MHz Is Puzzling

Certification Exam Session Dates Announced For 2005

Life With HD Radio (FM At Least)

Preventing Fire Damage At Sites

Clay's Corner

The End User

Now There Is Something You Can Do! - To Protect Yourself And Loved Ones From Deadly RF Radiation.

Amateur Radio News

FCC Launches HDTV Web Site

Free Radio Guide Subscriptions

PDX Radio Waves

From Fred's Travels...

Kaiser Wins Again

What's Your Dielectric?

A TAP Tip From Softwright

Humor

Etc.

 

December, 2004

Return to table of contents

HD Boot Camp A Success

The most successful event in our section history was held Nov. 9, 2005 at our host facility: Starz-Encore Group in Englewood, Colorado. Starz provided not only the facilities but also a generous raffle donation of a HD television reciever won by Tim Timura of KKTV. Lyni McLaughlin of Motorola provided a donation of the firm's DCP501 Motorola Home Entertainment Center and an additional HD receiver. These were won by Kevin Yao, Echostar; Tony Roccanova, Burst Communications; and Dave Hensley, Echostar.

HD Boot Camp Raffle Winners
HD Boot Camp Raffle Winners

Speaker presentations included: Scott Barella, VP Engineering – Burst Group on ASI; Joe Roncon, Evertz on HD closed captioning; Tod Roth of Leitch on MPEG developments; Tom James of Panasonic on HD workflow; Gary Mandle of Sony Corp. discussed display technologies.

Chris Fisher of Regal Cinemedia and Michael Lauter of GW Hannaway associates provided in-depth discussions of HD for cinematic release. Glen Valenta, Director of Engineering for HD Net discussed preparation of content for HD distribution. Al Kovalick, Senior Strategist for Pinnacle Systems provided an overview of HDV as an budget alternative to HD production.

HD Boot Camp Session
HD Boot Camp Session

Covering consumer premise technology: Joe Ross of Motorola presented information on set-top products while Alan Brown of Cinemaquest gave us perspective of how the consumer views the confusion in the marketplace.

HD Transmission & Delivery: Jim Schoedler – CTO of Rocky Mtn. PBS discussed the PBS delivery methodology and Robert Poletiek of Intelsat cave us an overview of Long Haul delivery technologies.

Paul Swedberg with EMC corporation closed our sessions with an informative discussion of storage solutions and life cycle management.

Attendees were treated to a post session social gathering. We wish to thank our sponsors for the event whose generosity made this possible: Starz Encore, Rocky Mtn. PBS, Quantel Corp, Sony Corp, Pinnacle Systems, Burst Group, 360 Systems, Motorola Corp., Image Audio-Visuals, Digital Projection, and Ross Video.

HD Boot Camp Banquet
HD Boot Camp Banquet

black line

Return to table of contents

Random Radio Thoughts


Cris Alexander, CSRE
Crawford Broadcasting Company

BASE Jumpers Security is something that should be on the minds of all broadcast CEs and tower owners these days. The last two months, we have reported on tower arson fires in the northwest and tower site vandalism in the south.

In November, a couple of adrenaline-junkie BASE jumpers climbed the 1,000-foot WXPT tower outside Minneapolis and jumped off. Unfortunately, the parachute of one of the jumpers failed to open and he was killed. From that height, you can forget about a reserve chute - there simply isn't time.

Years ago, when I was an FM CE in Dallas, I was responsible for a 1,549-foot monster tower out on Cedar Hill, the big antenna farm south of the D/FW metroplex. The tower was new in those days, and it was the biggest on the hill with two elevator cars, three eight-foot two-way/paging platforms and a huge "candelabra" on top supporting three UHF TV antennas. Some BASE jumpers found this stick irresistible and soon, jumps were a weekly affair. Despite our best efforts at keeping jumpers off the tower, they still somehow got in.

The straw that broke the camel's back was a feature on PM Magazine showing jumps from our tower! We had as much passive security as we could at the site, including a ten-foot fence around the tower base topped with razor wire, but these jumpers were determined. After the PM Magazine feature aired, we hired a full-time caretaker/security guard and posted him at the site. One evening while he was in his office with the door open, he heard a "pop" and went outside in time to see a couple of parachutists floating to a landing on the back side of the property. He called the sheriff, and the jumpers were arrested and charged. Word must have spread quickly, because the jumps stopped after that.

I mention all this to say that radio towers do present an "attractive nuisance," something recognized in civil case law as a form of negligence on the part of property owners who do not take adequate security precautions. It falls in the same category as leaving the keys in the ignition. While stealing the car is still a crime, the owner may share some civil liability if someone is hurt in the ensuing police chase.

Let this serve as a reminder to take some time and check your towers for security. Can someone easily gain access to the tower structure? Is the base fence adequate? Should an anti-climbing device be installed? The time to look at these things is before someone gets hurt.

AM Nighttime IBOC Have you seen some of the letters and guest commentaries in the radio trade press about AM nighttime IBOC of late? There has been a good back-and-forth between Buckley's Tom Ray and Leonard Kahn in Radio World. Unfortunately, some folks have evidently bought into Mr. Kahn's allegations that first-adjacent channel IBOC skywave signals will produce massive amounts of nighttime interference.

I was reading with some interest one such guest commentary in Radio World last month. The author was making the case that his station, a 1 kW daytimer in Omaha on 660 kHz with a 54-watt secondary nighttime authorization, would be wiped out at night by first-adjacent-channel class A stations running IBOC. He said, "Isn't having 50 kW signals running IBOC sidebands at night the equivalent of having a 5,000-watt jammer on adjacent frequencies?" I thought about that a bit and calculated the net effect that the two adjacent class As would have on his station.

First, AM stations, IBOC or not, must comply with 47 C.F.R. §73.44, which says that emissions 10.2 to 20 kHz removed from carrier must be at least 25 dB below the level of the unmodulated carrier. In reality, AM IBOC transmissions in that spectrum are more like -35 dBc as documented by some spectrum measurements provided by a transmitter manufacturer of an operating IBOC station. By my calculations, that means that the power radiated by a 50 kW AM station in the first-adjacent-channel region is on the order of 16 watts, not 5 kW as stated in the commentary.

With that in mind, I ran some RSS night limit calculations on the author's station. His current 50% exclusion RSS night limit calculates to be 7.96 mV/m (assuming that a co-channel CP is or will actually be constructed). If the class A stations on either side of the author's station operate IBOC, assuming typical levels of radiated energy in the 10-20 kHz spectrum, the limit produced at the site of the author's station would be 0.635 mV/m from one station and 0.807 mV/m from the other. Neither of these would enter or raise the RSS night limit of the author's station or cause him significant interference.

All of which is to say, don't believe everything you read about AM IBOC.

Auction #37 It was truly amazing to watch the bidding in the recent FM auction. Some of the CPs went for much more than what an operating station of the same class could be bought for in that market. Rye was one such example of that. For Walden, population 734, there were no bidders The Colorado results are as follows:

Community

Winning Bidder

Net Winning Bid

Bayfield

College Creek Broadcasting

$228,000

Carbondale

Marcos Rodriguez

$553,150

Center

College Creek Broadcasting

$98,000

Del Norte

College Creek Broadcasting

$156,000

Dinosaur

Cumulus Licensing

$178,000

Dove Creek

College Creek Broadcasting

$172,000

Eckley

Track 1 Media of Sterling

$84,000

El Jabel

Simon T

$608,400

Idalia

World Radio Link, Inc.

$45,750

La Jara

Lina Jones

$140,400

La Veta

Steven R. Bartholomew

$79,300

Las Animas

Alleycat Communications

$49,400

New Castle

Wildcat Communications

$736,000

Palisade

Todd DeNeui

$482,950

Poncha Springs

William C. Doleman

$191,000

Rye

United States CP, LLC

$859,300

Walden

- - -

- - -

Walsenburg

Edward Magnus

$181,350

Westcliffe

United States CP, LLC

$102,700

Yuma

World Radio Link, Inc.

$66,750

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

black line

Return to table of contents

Where Is Your Value

By Steve Epstein, CPBE, CBNT

Over the last few weeks I have been reminded several times about the exodus of good engineers from the broadcast ranks. Reflecting on this it is no surprise. Long hours, being on call 24/7, seemingly endless new technology to learn and shrinking station budgets are just a few of the reasons, not to mention the lack of that supposedly existed in years gone by. As one who has worked in several different professions, I have to admit that being a broadcast engineer is different than most jobs out there. Few jobs allow and expect you to know a little bit about everything. Within the walls of corporate America, specialists rule the day. As the type of specialist needed changes, so to do the faces. Unlike a salesperson, an engineer's revenue goals cannot be raised. The better we do our jobs, the fewer problems there are. Unfortunately, as the problems go away, the bean counters wonder what we are doing, and some even wonder if we are needed.

Automation may offer us a solution. Take a look and see how many automation events occur daily. Determine how many of those went wrong because of engineering-related problems. 1 out of 1,000 is 99.9 percent reliability. If you start tracking your numbers, you can demonstrate the results of your work. I suggest you start tracking at least four numbers: Total number of unscheduled off-air minutes per month, number of engineering-related problem events per 1,000 events, the total number of events per day, and the revenue impact of the above.

If you have been at the station for a while and have most things under control, it may be hard to show much improvement. However, if problems are occurring, the numbers above will give you information you can take to management about the cost vs. benefit of fixing them. It is very likely that as time goes on, the number of events/day will increase. When that happens, if you can keep the number of errors constant you can show improvement. In other words, in January we were running 2,500 events/day with an error rate of 5 events/1000; six months later we are running 2,750 events/day and the error rate is still 5 events/1000, or an improvement of 10 percent.

Whether you share your numbers with management is up to you, but I was once told you can't improve something unless you can measure it. As engineers, we constantly measure things and work with numbers. It is time that we apply some of that to the numbers associated with business. That is one of the best ways to ensure our future in this unique profession, and ensure the paycheck truly reflects our value.

Steve Epstein is the Chair of SBE Chapter 59, Kansas City. (http://www.broadcast.net/~sbe59/)

black line

Return to table of contents

Alignment At 450/455 MHz Is Puzzling

by David Otey
The author is the SBE frequency coordination director.
Thanks to Chapter 124 in Portland

There was a puzzle I recall seeing many years ago. It was a picture of a dozen or so colorful elves printed across four separate cards. When you arranged the cards in a different order, at first glance it looked like the same elves in different positions. Upon closer inspection, though, you discovered there was now one less elf than when you started! Where did the extra elf go? It turned out to be a clever optical illusion, relying on the viewer's natural tendency to perceive complete figures where the artist had in fact given you only selected pieces.

When I started looking carefully at the new channel plan for the 450/455 MHz RPU band, I thought I was seeing a new version of that old puzzle. Something seemed to be missing, as you can verify from the accompanying figure. The figure shows how channels are allocated in the 1.0 Megahertz of spectrum between 450 and 451 MHz; the same plan is repeated from 455 to 456 MHz. If you add up the spectrum occupied by a total of 102 channels of 6.25 kHz each, 10 channels of 25 kHz each, and two of 50 kHz each, you get 987.5 kHz, not 1000 kHz.

Does the figure omit any channels? No, these are taken straight out of Part 74 the FCC Rules (as modified Nov. 13, 2002, by the Report and Order in ET Docket No. 01-75), as the citations show. Yet, somehow there is 12.5 kHz unaccounted for. Can you see where the 12.5 kHz elf went?

STACKING QUESTION
Lest you think I have too much time on my hands, I should say that I discovered this in the course of helping an SBE member figure out how to solve a somewhat more relevant (if less amusing) problem. He wished to license a narrow-band telemetry link, using channels at the edge of the band that are reserved for this purpose. Like most such systems, his hardware requires 10 kHz of bandwidth, necessitating the use of two stacked channels. The rules permit this, stating that when "an even number of channels are stacked, channel assignments may be made for the frequency halfway between those listed."

So, for example, to stack the channels at 450.01875 and 450.0250, one would simply enter a center frequency of 450.021875. No problem, right? Except that when my correspondent tried to enter that frequency into the online Form 601 application, he found that only five decimal places were accepted. Oops! A call to the helpful Steve Buenzow at the FCC in Gettysburg, Pa. - where the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau handles BAS license applications, among other things - shed light on the problem.

It should come as no surprise to learn that it is "simply" a computer programming error. The underlying database has no problem tracking those last five Hertz, but whoever created the data-entry interface did not anticipate the need to enter a frequency to that resolution. If the problem is not fixed by the time you read this, it should be corrected soon. Until it is, Buenzow says applicants who run into this problem should enter as many decimal places as the form allows, then attach an exhibit showing the actual desired center frequency and explain channel-stacking as the reason. The application processors have been alerted to this situation, and applications handled in this way should not run afoul of the system.

READ THOSE RULES
As for the practice of requesting stacked channels in an application, that process is designed to be automatic, based on the requested center frequency and bandwidth (as defined in the emission designator). That explains why there is no place to indicate channel stacking in Form 601. Given that most channels are now defined in 6.25 kHz increments, and no known equipment actually operates in such a narrow channel, channel stacking will take place more often than not.

Buenzow cautions that applicants unfamiliar with the recent revisions to Part 74 rules would do well to read carefully sections 74.402 and 74.462 before applying for new licenses or major modifications in the 450/455 MHz band. I would add: Be sure to check your emission designator for consistency with both your equipment and the bandwidth of the channel(s) for which you are applying.

Now, what about the missing 12.5 kHz? There actually are four unassigned slivers of 3.125 kHz each, which an astute reader can find by careful scrutiny of the figure shown. Start by observing that the first center frequency is 450.00625, or 6.25 kHz away from the edge of the band. Spectral efficiency would seem to require that the center of a 6.25-kHz-wide channel should be only 3.125 kHz from the band edge. This same anomaly occurs at the top edge of the band. Two similar anomalies occur where the narrow channels abut the wider ones. Together, four wasted half-channels add up to 12.5 kHz - more than enough for another signaling channel.

One wonders whether the center frequencies were chosen this way to keep the number of decimal places to a minimum: 450.00625 MHz as opposed to 450.003125 MHz, for example. If so, the plan must have backfired on the FCC as soon as someone (like my correspondent) tried to stack two channels and arrived at a center frequency the Web form would not accept!

Send your comments or questions to David Otey, CSTE, at dotey@sbe.org

black line

Return to table of contents

Certification Exam Session Dates Announced For 2005

The SBE National Certification Committee has announced exam session dates for 2005. Check the list below for the exam period that is best for you. For more information about SBE Certification, see your Chapter Certification Chair or contact Linda Baun, Certification Director at the SBE National Office at (317) 846-9000 or lbaun@sbe.org.

2005 Exam DatesLocation

Application Deadline

February 4 - 14

Local Chapters

December 27, 2004

April 19

NAB - Las Vegas

March 1, 2005

June 3-13

Local Chapters

April 22, 2005

August 12-22

Local Chapters

June 10, 2005

November 11-21

Local Chapters

September 23, 2005

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
9247 N. Meridian Street, Suite 305
Indianapolis, IN 46260
Office: (317) 846-9000
Fax: (317) 846-9120

black line

Return to table of contents

Life With HD Radio (FM At Least)

Kent Randles
Chapter 124 - Portland

As I write this, 92.3 KGON's 1 kW ERP HD transmitter has been on fulltime for about a week and a half into the aux antenna. As soon as we get the PAD (program associated data) going, I'll put pictures on the website. So far, we only know of three local listeners, Gary Hilliard, James Boyd, and me, and none of us have had the time to drive far enough out of town to test the limits of the signal.

At the moment, there are also only three after-market manufacturers of HD Radio car receivers: Kenwood, JVC, and Panasonic. There is only one home unit so far, the $2000 Harman-Kardon AVR7300, and it only has an "HD Radio Upgrade Slot." Gary & James have Kenwood radios, and because I don't have room in my vehicle for Kenwood's HD "adapter," I got the JVC KD-SHX900 radio. The Kenwoods show the elementary data the B.E. FSi 10 Signal Generator puts out, which is just the call letters. The JVC doesn't show this, however it has an "HD" button on the front panel, which switches the display to a page where you can choose Auto, Digital, or Analog listening modes. The radio will stay in the mode chosen until you change frequencies.

My first impression of the sound of FM HD Radio is how nice the high frequencies sound without pre- and de-emphasis and the associated high frequency limiting. I have yet to hear any data-reduction artifacts. I also have yet to hear any AM HD signals, although the analog AM section of the JVC radio appears to be excellent, although not "wideband." At http://www.ibiquity.com/hdradio/hdradio_hdstations.htm is Ibiquity's list of stations that have licensed HD Radio. The closest AM's that I could probably hear in Portland appear to be 740 KCBS in San Francisco, followed by 640 KFI in Los Angeles. Of course they can't do HD at night yet, so I'll have to catch them pre-sunset.

black line

Return to table of contents

Preventing Fire Damage At Sites

From Chapter 124 - Portland

An article by Crawford Broadcasting Chief Engineer John White K7RUN about preventing fire damage at communications sites starts on page 8 of the October issue of Radio Guide. We have posted a PDF version of it at http://www.sbe124.org/Fire at the tower.pdf

black line

Return to table of contents

Clay's Corner

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

By Clay Freinwald

Thanks to Chapter 16 - Seattle

At this writing I just got back from attending the NAB Radio Convention in San Diego. This year's event was held in the rather plush Manchester Hyatt between downtown and the bay. I will have to admit, sitting outside at 7:30 a.m. and eating breakfast in my short sleeve shirt does have some appeal. This year's event was, on the technical side, wall-to-wall HD Radio with three days of tech sessions devoted to the subject. One session was unique in that I was the one doing it... telling the tale of the HD installation at West Tiger. If you had wondered if this was going to catch on... the time to believe is now!... but only for FM. The AM issue is clouded in the fact that the FCC is not likely to tell AM Broadcasters what and how they will be allowed to operate at night until sometime next year. The issue is how to deal with those new skywave signals that are radiated on an AM station's adjacent channels. I've gotta think that in some cases, AMs may have to add directional antennas to their night operation to run HD.

Got a chance to see what some of the new consumer HD receivers will look like. Boston Acoustics showed a little clock radio that receives the new mode. Funny thing is that the little critter has about a four-inch speaker and produces only mono. Some of the new car radios coming out will be full of gee-whiz with big displays, etc. According to what I heard, some of these could be in car radios in the 2005 model year. One application I thought was interesting. This was a blending of the Nav. Displays that many car makers have come out with... in this case traffic information is being transmitted by a local HD station in its data stream and the display shows on its display map where the congestion is. With this system you could have a car radio that displays this area's WDOT map on your dash. Those folks that we used to call 'inventors' are busy cooking up applications for those extra ones and zeros that the 'new radio' will be transmitting.

For FM stations the number of options of how to put what amounts to three adjacent channel stations into one antenna are growing with several options talked about. Who would have thought that a radio station would be installing digital anything, much less circulators and 4.77dB hybrids?

The exhibits were rather typical for what you see at a smaller show. One item caught my eye. BE was showing a prototype of a new 50kW transmitter that they are going to be rolling out. Shucks, I can remember when 1kW units were that big! Apparently they have come up with yet another new and novel method of generating AM and put it in a box with no big transformers that's only about three by four feet in size. Pretty amazing. I will try and make it to the November meeting to tell you more... but it depends on an external factor... I have Jury duty that week.

On the programming side the place was abuzz with the announcement by Howard Stern that he is jumping to the Sat-Radio provider, Sirius. Sirius and XM have been behaving increasingly like conventional radio with their program offerings. Their latest addition is shock-jocks. Mr. Stern was issuing comments about how his move will be the beginning of the end of terrestrial radio. The interesting thing is that I caught someone on CNBC saying something similar. A good number of stations that presently air Howard are pondering what to do now that he has announced his move... wondering if they are going to have to be airing daily three-hour commercials for Sirius coupled with local station bashing. One rumor had Viacom buying Sirius. XM has put Opie and Anthony on the air. The concept of radio without FCC rules is certainly appealing to these folks. But wait. Some congressman is already looking into what can be done. The concept is just like cable TV. Where the FCC issues no licenses, they have no authority to censor. HOLD THE PHONE. What about those translators or signal boosters that XM and Sirius use; they are licensed by the FCC. Hmmmm. Meanwhile, good old radio is fighting back with a new less-is-more campaign. Less commercial time and more something else. Apparently the light has gone on in the upper rooms that radio listeners would like to hear less commercials. Whereas Spots are where our paychecks come from this is going to be an interesting balancing act.

Not often do we have something that attracts lots of media. Usually it's some kind of meeting downtown that results in lots of Sat-Trucks and protesters. This time it's a volcano. Mt. St. Helens re-awakening caused those trucks to roll once again. Did you see the picture of them all lined up? It was interesting chatting with friends from around the country and hearing them express their concern about my safety. We have to remember that most of the other coast is so populated that they cannot imagine how you could fit a volcano into the area. Most don't have a clue what a 'Sizmocam' is!

Folks looking for an alternative to broadcast and satellite radio always have their computer with a number of stations still streaming their programming. Joining the latter may be Microsoft. Our local software creator is thinking about jumping into the biz with something like satellite radio.... Hmmm.

I see where Boeing just got a contract for building three satellites for DirecTV that will be used to deliver HD nationwide.

The FCC has launched a campaign to educate the public about DTV, trying to get us to switch. Looming ahead is the end of 2006... the promised date for us all to have made the switch. Why do I have doubts that this date will be met? The Commission also gave the green light to BPL, angering many Hams in the process. This system is supposed to use the power grid to distribute on-line data to the masses. A lot of folks feel that it's the best way to deal with rural areas that do not have the infrastructure. Hams and some Broadcasters have argued against the idea for the fear that the RFI generated will cause trouble.

The FCC recently shut down one of the legendary pirate stations in Santa Cruz, CA, with the help of US Marshals. As they hauled away the station's equipment protesters were yelling at the agents and marshals. Meanwhile, in our area, at last check, 93.7 was alive and well. The Commish also fined SpectraSitre 30 grand over tower lighting issues.

On a rather serious note an arsonist is attacking communications facilities in the Portland-Vancouver area. The common thread in all of this is towers. Hams, Broadcasters, common carrier, etc. have all been hit. I highly recommend that you read a piece written by John White re. how coax burns in the most recent issue of Radio Guide. (Article is at: www.radio-guide.com/Shack.pdf) It's a grim warning of how vulnerable our transmitter sites are to this kind of thing.

Apparently the folks South of the border are testing Ibiquity's HD Radio system. North of the border the government there is expressing concern about the impact of our proposed AM-HD system in the area of skywave interference. One thing that presents some problems to the use of this system in other countries is their channel spacing which affords less spectrum for each station.

Till next month -

Clay, CPBE, K7CR

black line

Return to table of contents

The End User


by Rich Petschke
Chapter 16, Seattle

The "hot item" for the 2004 holiday season is the fourth generation iPod, equipped with a 60Gb hard drive, a 2-inch color screen, and Apple's iPhoto software, which will enable photo viewing on the iPod. List price on the new 60Gb iPod will be $500, and it's expected to be a grand-slam for Apple.

The plan was to have the new iPod ready for early-holiday shoppers, but there were shipment delays on the 60Gb drives from its supplier (Toshiba). They've now been delivered and many Apple rumor Internet sites are saying the new iPod should be out by Thanksgiving. (UPDATE: Apple announced the introduction of the new iPods in late October; we'll have the details next month.)

Speaking of iPods, it looks like the platform is becoming a "de facto" standard for interfacing with other products. First, BMW integrated iPod controls in its cars, and now Bose offers an iPod dock with speakers and a remote control that commands basic iPod functions. In a way, this iPod platform licensing seems tantamount to Apple's stance of remaining proprietary when it released the Mac back in the '80s. Maybe they've learned a lesson from that.

Other than the new iPod, there's nothing else in the tech goodies that really stands out this year. Microsoft is hoping "the third time's the charm" with its Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005. The twice-revamped OS now sports an integrated remote control which allows you to run your TV set and PC without the traditional mouse/keyboard interface. As with the other versions of XP Media Center, the 2005 version is only available pre-installed on a new computer-you can't buy it for a computer already owned.

Last month we discussed cuts on DVD burners and LCD monitors, and prices continue to fall. I wouldn't be surprised to see a sub-$100 15-inch LCD special or a $150 17-inch LCD on "Black Friday" (the day after Thanksgiving, which is the busiest shopping day of the year). PC prices, on the other hand, have been quite stable and in some cases rising a bit over the year, so there may not be as many bargains out there this holiday season.

Finally, I've been playing with the preview release of the Mozilla Firefox web browser for the last couple months, and I have to say the Mozilla team has really come a long way with the browser. Firefox is quite nimble, has no issues with pages designed for IE only, and doesn't hog resources like previous versions of Mozilla and the Mozilla-based Netscape browser (remember them?) did. There's an integrated pop-up blocker that works as well or better than the one IE adds with XP Service Pack 2. Plus, Firefox's Password Manager is more useful than the password-memory features in IE.

I especially recommend Firefox if you're using any Microsoft OS other than Windows XP, as Microsoft won't be making the IE security fixes for XP available for other operating systems (including Windows 2000, which XP is based on). You can download Firefox at http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/.

black line

Return to table of contents

Now There Is Something You Can Do! - To Protect Yourself And Loved Ones From Deadly RF Radiation.

(Submitted fully tongue-in-cheek by a well known, local broadcast engineer)

Something You Can Do!

Radio Engineers have known of the dangers of Radio Frequency (RF) Radiation for decades. Their professional organizations often cite transmitter safety as one of, if not their main concern. Transmitter systems, often with radiated power of up to five million watts, kill, on average, three transmitter engineers a year, and no one knows how many are injured or how many lives are shortened by their constant contact with RF radiation equipment. The suspected health issues of RF Radiation outnumber the discomforts that the patent medicines of the last century offered to cure. Amateur radio operators, exposed constantly to RF Radiation, have a lower than average life expectancy. Just check the "Silent Keys" section (a sick twist on obituary) of their official magazine "QST." Each month, QST magazine lists more "hams" that have "passed on" than there are new amateur licenses issued. While "hams" and their love of RF Radiation might be a self-resolving situation, it is no solace for those of us that don't wish to bath ourselves, our families, or our pets in potentially deadly RF Radiation. To anyone who says RF Radiation is safe, show them a hotdog in a microwave oven. The very same RF Radiation that cooks the hotdog in seconds is cooking anyone close to large RF transmitters... just slower. That is simple and undeniable physics.

But RF specialists also know there is a solution... A simple shield that blocks the harmful effects of RF radiation. Some RF technicians even work inside an RF tight Faraday Cage. Any two-way radio shop either has, or wishes they had an RF cage; and any caring, professional, company provides these to its workers. Ask any radio technician if their delicate work isn't better done in a room that has been RF-proofed, and they will tell you an RF shielded room makes all the difference. This same simple technology, which has been in use since the last century, can be designed into your home. Even a century ago, when scientists were just beginning to understand RF Radiation, the dangers were clear. Dr. Faraday developed his Faraday Shield, sometimes called a Faraday Cage to stop RF Radiation in its tracks.

The Threat!

Is this a conspiracy in the United States? RF Radiation limits set by OSHA allow ten times the potentially lethal RF Radiation that is permitted in Russia. Many countries have tighter RF Radiation limits than America. There may be a good reason. The FCC, which regulates all transmitters, makes billions from the sale of RF Radiation Spectrum.

In fact, the very reason that Lookout Mountain, Colorado broadcasters are adding a new "super" tower is because the FCC has ordered them to build additional transmitters so that one day they can turn off the old "analog" transmitters and sell the channels. What does that mean? Even more RF Radiation for you as the new spectrum owners use the spectrum to make billions to feed the FCC money machine.

Money is a powerful motivator, especially to a government that needs funds to fund a war. Whether killed or injured in war, or by the increasing RF Radiation, the government has little motivation to protect the safety of a few people, especially when they believe this serves the larger good.

There is a lot of RF Radiation spectrum out there, but the FCC makes very, very little of it available for citizens to use for garage door openers, wireless computers, family radio services, and the like. These very tiny slices of "non-revenue producing spectrum," while they provide average citizens most of the so called benefits they enjoy from RF Radiation devices, represent far less than 1% of the total spectrum. Military and commercial users, in particular broadcasters, use up and directly or indirectly through taxation, pay for the bulk of RF Radiation spectrum.

Another thing! These new digital transmitters send out signals with "sharp edges," as opposed to the rounded signals that analogue transmitter emit. There has been no health studies of what those new digital "square waves" will do.

Remember the "Wave Scrambler?" These devices were sold to protect the users of cellular telephones from the tiny RF Radiation they produced. Usually just fractions of a Watt, nonetheless, gas stations won't let you use one while pumping gas because they can cause gas stations to explode. The government forced the Wave Scrambler technology off the market not because RF Radiation protection wasn't needed, but because they felt the particular product didn't work well enough.

Even those tiny cellular telephones seem to be dangerous. Chief Executive Officers, all avid cell phone users, seemed to be dying from brain cancer all over the country... and the cancer forms right where the cell phone was held. Coincidence? It takes years to complete a medical study. Is there a comprehensive study being done to determine if cell phones are safe or can be made safe?

But cell phones aren't the big danger. Lookout Mountain hosts towers and transmitters that effectively radiate tens of millions of Watts of radiation... constantly. Residents who bought homes in the area weren't informed of the RF Radiation levels any more than the residents of Love Canal were told that their environment was poisoned.

One has to ask... How can people live and raise their children near Love Canal or Lookout Mountain? Go to any hearing concerning towers and you will hear of cancer cells, lives shortened and distorted, computers, TVs and other electronic equipment rendered useless or intermittent. Obviously, there is something going on up on Look Out Mountain.

But there is an Answer!

Why so much RF Radiation? Simply because the FCC requires that broadcast transmitters transmit enough power to blast through walls and buildings even 50-miles away to reach "rabbit ear" antennas. If a broadcasters fails to transmit enough power, the FCC will give their license to another who will. The FCC rules actually prohibit broadcasters from operating at less than 90% of their required power with fines and other penalties for failing to operate at licensed power! Likewise regulations in any nice neighborhood discourage outside antennas, virtually requiring residents to purchase cable, or that broadcasters keep the RF Radiation levels be so extraordinarily high. Most countries in the world use many smaller transmitters, located away from neighborhoods rather than the millions of Watts that American TV stations use. More than that, American broadcasters put their transmitters not on the open plains, far from concentrations of population, but right in the middle of residential mountain neighborhoods.

But there are walls that prevent RF Radiation from penetrating!

Farady Cage

Your home can be made RF Radiation proof by installing a Faraday Shield. Inside your walls, a thin steel and copper mesh blocks out both magnetic and electrostatic RF Radiation. Wearing an aluminum suit is a good idea, but aluminum only blocks electrostatic energy. The magnetic Radiation passes right through. You can prove this by wrapping a magnet in aluminum foil and see that it still picks up metal objects. Special suits (the kind that radio technicians wear for protection from RF Radiation) are expensive, and very uncomfortable. So much so that RF technicians avoid wearing these suits, risking their own health.

The only practical solution is protecting your home, your children and pets, from the intense, maybe even deadly RF Radiation, that is being forced into you home. Homes on Look Out Mountain were very sought after and valuable before the awareness of the RF Radiation problem made selling a home difficult and sometimes impossible. If you fail to disclose the potential RF Radiation danger to a potential buyer, you may become liable. Isn't it far better to offer your home for resale as RF Radiation proof following our time-proven system of RF Radiation mitigation?

Farady Cage

Hire an Expert!

RF Radiation leaks through small openings. The higher the frequency, the easier it slips through a small leak. Most experts agree that higher frequency RF Radiation is likely the more dangerous. This is not a job for a roofer or aluminum siding company. Only a certified Broadcast Engineer can measure the danger before and verify after that the shields are functioning properly. RF Radiation, as dangerous as it might be, after all is invisible (unless the frequency is raised to the point where RF Radiation "glows" first as red, then blue, and eventually skin searing ultraviolet light).

RF Radiation Exterminators does it all. We help you with choices of RF Radiation proof window treatments, RF sealing doors, and manage the entire installation process from beginning to end.

RF Radiation Exterminators Guarantees that we will reduce RF Radiation levels by at least a factor of 100 (What RF Engineers call 10 dB). We usually achieve reductions of 1,000 and even 10,000 times!

Evaluations, estimates and the required measurements are available at reasonable prices.

Contact RF Radiation Exterminators via E-mail at rfexterminator@yahoo.com

black line

Return to table of contents

Amateur Radio News

By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
Thanks to Chapter 24, Madison

o The American Radio Relay League has reacted to the FCC's Report and Order authorizing Broadband over Power Line. In a November 1 letter to Secretary of Commerce Donald L. Evans copied to President George W. Bush, ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, recalled Evans' assurances on the administration's behalf earlier this year "that we are responsible and sensitive to valuable incumbent [radiocommunication] systems." Haynie told Evans the FCC's BPL Report and Order in ET Docket 04-37-adopted October 14 and released two weeks later-suggests otherwise.

The FCC maintained in the R&O that BPL emissions are localized and at low enough levels to preclude harmful interference in the first place, and it left the door open to possibly upping the limit in the future.

Haynie pointed out that both international treaty and US law entitle licensed radiocommunication services to protection from harmful interference that unlicensed systems like BPL might generate. "Despite this," he continued, "the FCC has shifted the burden for initiating interference mitigation from the BPL system operator to the radio licensee."

The NTIA's September 13 submission to the FCC shows that even at FCC Part 15 limits, the probability of harmful interference is essentially 100 percent within 200 to 400 meters of a power line carrying BPL signals-depending on the operating frequency. "Amateur radio stations are typically located in residential areas, nearly always well within such distances," Haynie noted. "The FCC's Report and Order provides no assurance that when interference occurs-as it unquestionably will-it will be promptly eliminated."

While extolling the purported benefits of broadband over power line technology, the 81-page Report and Order declares the FCC's intention to protect licensed services from harmful interference.

o A digital broadcast signal on 3995 kHz from Europe is capturing the attention of some US hams on the 75 meter band. The signal, from Deutsche Welle in Germany, is legal since radio amateurs share that part of the band with broadcasters in Region 1 (which includes Europe).

"Digital shortwave will revolutionize cross-border broadcasts and will initiate a worldwide renaissance of radio," Deutsche Welle Director General Erik Bettermann said last month during a panel discussion at Munich Media Days. Deutsche Welle plans to gradually shut down its analog shortwave transmissions, he said, as DRM receivers become more available globally-something not anticipated until late 2005.

Although the station has been broadcasting for some time on the same frequency in conventional AM, it's attracted more notice from hams since July, when it began testing using the digital format-also referred to as "DRM," (Digital Radio Mondiale, French for "Digital Radio Worldwide"). Of course, the vagaries of propagation will be a big factor as to the amount of interference US hams experience at any given time. [The Deutsche Welle signal on 3995 kHz was at an S-3 level at WJ9H in Madison as this story was being submitted.]

Radio amateurs meanwhile have been experimenting with programs such as HamDream <http://www.qslnet.de/member/hb9tlk/>, a DRM program adapted for amateur radio use by HB9TLK. It enables digital voice and data transmissions using bandwidths on the order of 2.3 to 2.5 kHz.

(Excerpts from the American Radio Relay League's arrl.org web site)

black line

Return to table of contents

FCC Launches HDTV Web Site

The FCC launched www.dtv.gov to explain and promote HDTV. "Digital Television (DTV) is an entirely new technology that will ultimately replace today's analog television system. Digital signals are transmitted using computer code . ones and zeroes - which means they are less susceptible to interference and provide a higher quality picture and sound than analog."

"The Association for Maximum Service Television, Inc., is the recognized industry leader in broadcasting technology and spectrum policy issues.. For the past decade we have been the leading advocate for advanced over-the-air digital television in the United States." www.mstv.org

black line

Return to table of contents

Free Radio Guide Subscriptions

Ray Topp, Publisher of Radio Guide, invites all SBE members to receive a free subscription. Radio Guide carries much practical technical information, equipment reviews, and interesting stories of radio's history. Enter your free subscription at www.radio-guide.com.

black line

Return to table of contents

PDX Radio Waves

by Michael D. Brown N7AXC CSRE
Brown Broadcast Services, Inc., Portland
mike@brownbroadcast.com

I can't help but be fascinated with the new Broadcast Electronics 4MX50 50 kW transmitter, using "Fourier Modulation." There's an onscreen Smith Chart displaying common-point network sweep functions. It's just 650 pounds in one bay, with an OVERALL efficiency of 89%. Wow. Other current top-of-the line 50 kW competitors weigh in at nearly 2 tons. It wasn't all that long ago that typical 50 killowatters (i.e.: the Continental 317 series), tipped the scales at 3+ tons with overall efficiencies closer to 60%. With such advances in solid-state transmitter technologies, high tube costs, high power costs, IBOC buildouts, and the disappearance of engineering staffs, it's no wonder that the few remaining tube AM (and lower power FM) transmitters are dropping like flies. I know of a dozen or more, at all power levels, that are sitting and waiting for someone to haul them away. WABC is STILL trying to sell its MW50A on Ebay, with a minimum bid of 7k. There were no takers at press time.

black line

Return to table of contents

From Fred's Travels...

Fred Baumgartner
Chapter 48

With this new gig, I get to occasionally visit an historical or interesting place in my travels. Usually looking for a rest room and some radio and TV history.

Hoover

In this case, West Branch, Iowa (on the Eastern side of the state… go figure) has the Herbert Hoover Library, and his final resting place.

You might recall that in the 1920's radio was an expensive novelty, and a few thousand hams (Herbert included) occupied the spectrum. By 1925, some 530 stations were on the air.

In 1921, a year after women got the right to vote, Hoover was appointed Secretary of Commerce, and if you will recall your history, The Bureau of Navigation gave up it's roll in regulating radio in favor of the Department of Commerce.

Licenses were granted for 3-months at a time (This was when the "public interest, convenience and necessity was the driving force) and there was a band plan.

My favorite story? A religious sect asked for permission to build a station to disseminate warnings of the world's imminent end. Herbert told them to spend their money for airtime on existing outlets; if the world was really going to end in a month, it would be a far wiser investment.

The Library also has a whole series of antique microphones that you have seen in the historical photos, as well as one of several (or so I've come to learn over the years) "first" TV transmission systems. This first connect the Washington Post Office to Baltimore and used a Nipkov disk.

Funny where you find Broadcasting History. Bathrooms were nice, and there are few visitors. Worth the stop. Made a 17-meter contact from the parking lot, just to honor another radio guy.

black line

Return to table of contents

Kaiser Wins Again

From Chapter 40 - San Francisco

While many medical providers are dithering about enhancements to their computer systems that would lead to a paperless scheme, Kaiser Permanente is already there. In a recent article in the New York Times (11/22/04) the example was given of Kaiser looking at the benefits of on-license statin drugs versus one that was already generic. By analyzing studies that had been done plus the treatment records of their 8.3 million members they found that a slightly higher dose of the old drug was just as effective as the new drugs. The savings amounted to $80 million dollars a year.

black line

Return to table of contents

What's Your Dielectric?

Thanks to Chapter 40 - San Francisco

I read a recent article about medical devices implanted in the body. These devices can be monitored or have their parameters modified by wireless gear operating on an unlicensed basis in the 402 - 403 MHz band. If the device is implanted in muscle, fat, or a blood vessel, each environment has a different dielectric constant and as a result the wavelength for a given frequency is different. Certain metals are a no-no. And multiple electrodes on the same device that might develop a potential difference are also problematic

black line

Return to table of contents

A TAP Tip from Softwright

Use Body Losses in Calculation of Talk-Back.

Calculation of a coverage map from a repeater site out to mobile units is considered the basic building block of radio system design. Once this process is mastered, the next level of sophistication is to study the variance of that talk-out radio coverage with the effective talk-back coverage.

This is almost never the same coverage area as the talk-out coverage. A number of factors must be taken into account. The ERP of the mobile unit will generally be considerably less than that of the repeater. The receiver threshold of the repeater is generally higher than that of the mobile units, which are used in establishing a suitable talk-out signal level. It is very common for the rf link loss to change once the mobile unit has been contacted by the repeater. At that point, if it is a hand-held unit, it is removed from contact with the user's body and the actual body losses can be much less. We can provided more assistance in properly handling these particular situations when you are calculating coverage with your TAP software.

For more information, contact SoftWright LLC · 1010 South Joliet, Suite 204 · Aurora · CO · 80012

black line

Return to table of contents

Humor

All Good Questions!

  1. Why is there a light in the fridge and not in the freezer?
  2. If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a song about him?
  3. Can a hearse carrying a corpse drive in the carpool lane?
  4. Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains on all fours? They're both dogs!
  5. Do illiterate people get the full effect of Alphabet Soup?
  6. Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog's face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him on a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?
  7. Does pushing the elevator button more than once make it arrive faster?

Some Folk's Opinions
Thanks to Mike Snyder, Albuquerque

Alex Levine: Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat.

Mark Twain: Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

I am opposed to millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the position.

Ed Furgol: My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery, people would stop dying.

Spike Milligan: Money can't buy you happiness, but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.

Henny Youngman: What's the use of happiness? It can't buy you money.

Herbert Henry Asquith: Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life.

Bob Hope: I don't feel old. I don't feel anything until noon. Then it's time for my nap.

We could certainly slow aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress. ~Unknown

Don't worry about avoiding temptation...As you grow older, it will avoid you. ~Unknown

black line

Return to table of contents

Etc.

Newsletter Committee

Bill Harris
  (505) 767-6735
   billharris@ix.netcom.com

Garneth M. Harris

Newsletter archives are available online.

Visit www.smpte-sbe48.org/oldnews for an index of newsletter back issues.
Note: Old newsletters may contain outdated information, web links or email addresses. News archives are not updated when relevant information changes.

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.