A monthly newsletter by Society of Broadcast Engineers Chapter 48

December 1996

Return to Chapter 48 Newsletter Page


Upcoming Chapter 48 Meetings and Events
The November Meeting
SBE National Update
EAS, Colorado May Do EBS One Better
Computer Related Acronyms - Part 3 of 3
Clay's Corner
1997 SBE Certification Dates
RFR Exposure Report
Digital TV Information

Upcoming Chapter 48 Meetings and Events

Wednesday, January 1, 1997 First day you MUST have a new EAS encoder/decoder operating at your station and monitoring at least two sources.

Wednesday, January 15, 1997 Field trip! The group will take a tour of the Titan Uplink Facility. Everyone meet at the Sedalia Grill first for chapter business. Watch January's newsletter for more information and a detailed map for directions.

Return To Table of Contents

The November Meeting

Our second to last meeting for 1996 was on Wednesday, November 20 at the Coco's Restaurant at South Havana and Parker Road at 12:00 noon.

It was a well attended meeting, no doubt due to the presentation by the folks from the FCC regarding the upcoming EAS system startup in January, 1997. On hand from the Denver regional office were Rebecca Willman, recently relocated to Denver from Grand Island, Nebraska, and Nikki Shears. More on their program in a moment.

Following lunch, outgoing Chapter 48 chair Jack E. McKain asked for nominations for the upcoming year. When the electoral dust settled, the following folks had been elected or appointed: Chairman, Andr‚ Smith from University of Denver; Secretary/Treasurer, Bill Harris, KXKL/KVOD/KRRF and Fred Baumgartner, Certification Chairman. Unfortunately, the individual selected as Vice Chair will not be able to serve. Therefore, it will be necessary to find someone to serve as program chairman for the coming year.

Following the elections, Jack introduced our guests from the FCC, Rebecca and Nikki. The subject was the new Emergency Alert System. Rebecca provided a bit of history on the EBS and then she had two videotapes to show regarding the structure of the new system. Questions and answers followed the tapes and then Jack adjourned the meeting.

Our December meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, the 11th. Hope you could make it!

Return To Table of Contents

SBE National Update

Chapter 28, Milwaukee WI

Terry Baun, SBE National President, reported on events discussed by the SBE Board at WME, and said the SBE was looking into associating with a fall regional convention for 1997. Candidates included Syracuse, El Paso, Madison, and Seattle. He also sold that a resolution had been approved for adding two additional SBE Certification levels, one for audio production and one for video production. The feeling was that these new levels would open the SBE to new membership. Terry also mentioned that the FCC was considering privatizing frequency coordination and suggested that there might be some opportunity in that for SBE.

Return To Table of Contents

EAS, Colorado May Do EBS One Better

Fred Baumgartner - Chapter 48

This is the first of a two-part article which originally appeared in the Denver SBE newsletter in July and August, 1990. On the eve of the official new EAS system, we thought it would be interesting to take a look back at Fred's original vision for this system.

Almost no one will deny that the EBS (emergency broadcast system) is without serious limitations. Is 50s' technology, slow pace, "cry wolf" mandatory testing, repeated and required operator intervention at all levels, and poor penetration into today's communications mediums virtually assures that if needed, it will reach only a fraction of the population, and it will be late, and likely inaccurate.

A number of piecemeal proposals have attempted to repair parts of the EBS system. SBE members in Michigan are quite successfully reducing the "cry wolf" testing irritation and speeding up the system by shortening the tones (the long tone length is a hold-over from 50's technology). Oklahoma and San Francisco are implementing alternative communications channels and signaling to support EBS's single point distribution (the CPCS-1 is not always receivable in all of the area served, and what happens if the CPCS-1 fails in is duties?). San Francisco is also moving to serve the deaf with its updated EBS.

EAS is a cost effective tool capable of taking some of the improvements from these and other EBS updates and bringing it to the country as a whole.


Colorado's rough terrain and high-tech emergencies (everything from Rocky Flats and torpedoes dropped at the intersection of I-25 and I-70 to Doppler detected tornadoes), mixture of major, medium and super-small stations, and wide variety of electronic media, make it an ideal location to develop and test an EBS supercharger. Colorado does not now have an approved EBS plan, but not for lack of trying. The terrain and the inherent limitations of the EBS system make a working state system impractical. Colorado is a practical state, if the old technology doesn't work, then find a fix.


The EAS (emergency announcement system) is built around a very common and simple piece of equipment. The heart is the DTMF tone encoders and decoders, with one important difference, the EAS tones are 12% higher in frequency. The ordinary $2.50 CMOS encoder/decoder can be shifted up in frequency (most often all this requires is changing the 3.58 MHz crystal to 4.00 MHz) and works perfectly well (the frequency shifted EAS becomes blind to and will not talk to standard DTMF devices).

The result is a device that is much faster and considerably cheaper than the EBS two-tone system. But there are two other very major advantages with the EAS technology. First, while the EBS has only one message carried by the tones (that is "activation"), the EAS carries priority and location information. Second, while the EBS decoder can listen to only one source (the CPCS-1 or a relay station) a single EAS decoder can scan eight sources, looking for an EAS activation.

Let's look at what that means in the real world.


Each step of the EBS requires that a 23 second tone sequence is sent, an operator then determines if it is in fact a real activation or just another weekly test, then send another 23 second tone sequence, which may be repeated again. At each step the message may be lost through technical fault or operator error. In any case, time is lost. Even when the Weather service is allowed direct entry, the NWS (national weather service) tone, and the EBS tone and wait period still require at least one minute.

The EAS system will activate a chain of stations up to eight deep in eight stations. The announcement can begin immediately, so most EAS announcements would be completed before the old EBS could have been activated.

Each station or channel carrying the EAS message, passes the original encoding (it is not regenerated). Stations themselves do not have encoders. In practical terms, the message will pass as long as the total path provides better than 30 db signal to noise (which is getting close to where the spoken message is garbled). While the system will support eight hand-offs, the intention is to have a system no more than four deep, giving each step two chances to decode the EAS call.

With potentially lifesaving tornado information, now so quickly available, it seems a shame to waste the technology by waiting typically two minutes before notifying the public.

In January: Part 2 The Old EBS System versus the New

Return To Table of Contents

Computer Related Acronyms - Part 3 of 3

Eric Schultz - Chapter 48

It seems like every day another TLA emerges from the computer industry. What's a TLA? It's a Three Letter Acronym. It seems like every piece of computer software or hardware can only be described by an acronym. Even the language of the internet is being reduced to abbreviations. In the first of three, this month's article will define a number of the more common and more confusing computer acronyms. This is, by no means, a complete list.

SVGA - Super VGA - An extension of the Video Graphics Array display adapter standard. SVGA is not as standardized as VGA, and different SVGA adapters offer different configurations of color depth and resolution.

TCP/IP - Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol - A set of communication protocols that allows dissimilar computers to share information over a network. The internet relies on TCP/IP for its connectivity.

TSR - Terminate and Stay Resident - A DOS program that stops running, but remains in memory so it can be called again, usually via a hotkey combination or some other interrupt.

TTYL - Talk To You Later - An abbreviation used in internet chat and email.

UART - Universal Asynchronous Receiver Transmitter - A chip that converts serial data steams to and from parallel data.

URL - Uniform, or Universal, Resource Locator - An address used to locate a resource on the Internet. URLs are usually used to describe the location of World Wide Web documents.

UUCP - Unix-to-Unix Copy - A networking system that copies files between Unix systems.

VESA - Video Electronics Standards Association) - A group of computer manufacturers that standardized improvements to PC compatible components. VESA can be credited with the VLB bus architecture as well as the Super VGA video standard.

VGA - Video Graphics Array - A common video graphics adapter, supporting 16 colors in a 640x480 pixel display.

VLB - VESA Local Bus - A bus architecture found in some PC compatibles. VLB is able to move data at a faster rate than the ISA bus.

VRML - Virtual Reality Modeling Language - An open standard for 3-D imaging on the World Wide Web. VRML can be used in conjunction with web browsers or as independent applications.

WAIS - Wide Area Information Server - A database query system. WAIS is used to search databases throughout the internet.

WAN - Wide Area Network - A group of LANs connected over long distances. WANs are generally connected via leased phone lines.

WWW - World Wide Web - A collection of sites across the internet offering hypertext documents and other files.

Return To Table of Contents

Clay's Corner

Clay Freinwald - Chapter 16, Seattle

How about this? The first copper painted shielded transmitter building. Maybe you will be able to use your VOM in there. A room where you can go to talk on the phone and hear yourself think. KPLZ may have been the first with this. An impressive fire alarm and suppression system. Concrete construction (no Lincoln Logs here). More unistrut on the ceiling than anyone. The first Directional Antenna. Other Cougar FM's are using Directional antennas, of a different kind.

Seiko, the folks that brought us the message watch, are at it again with a couple of new watches that have some interesting technology inside. One model has a pendulum mechanism that is connected to a micro-generator. The generator's output is stored in a capacitor that, in turn, runs the watch. And what happens when the capacitor runs low on electrons? The display signals you to move your arm. Another model runs on solar power. Apparently, only three hours of sunlight will give the thing enough energy to keep it running for six months (must have been designed for Seattle).

As of September 30, eleven more states have been added to the FCC's toll free information service, including Washington state. So now if you want information about telecommunications issues, including broadcasting, cable, new technologies, telephone rates, long distance carriers, how to obtain a license or form or how to file a complaint you simply call 1-888-CALL FCC. For those of you that don't have letters on your telephone DTMF encoder that's 1- 888-225-5322. Oh, by the way, they are open 8:00 to 4:30 Eastern Time.

If you're into audio, Pro Audio Review is a very interesting publication. The October issue features (are you ready for this?) A SPECIAL TUBE SECTION. Folks are making tube type Power Amps, preamps, EQ boxes, etc, etc. Articles speak of where the tubes are coming from: collectors of US made 'fire FETS' and Russia. If you recall, the Russians were still making good use of tube type equipment. Most of their tube types were the same as ours (funny how that happened). Now with tubes 'catching on' again, the Russians are ahead of us. But how do you know if you have a good tube? Ya gotta have a tube tester. On Page 62 of this issue is a review of a new tube tester!. If I told you 10 years ago that this was going to happen you would have thought me nuts (don't touch that). Guess I was smart to hang on to that old Hickock 800, huh?

Have you been sucked into the great 809 number scam? Let's hope you don't get hit with this one. You get an E-Mail addressed to you, you are to call an 809 area code number (in some cases you are paged the number). Like a good person, you call the number. How are you able to keep track of all the new area codes these days, anyway? Guess what? You are making a call that will be charged to you at the rate of 25 BUCKS PER MINUTE!! You get some dude that pretends to not be able to understand you, you spend four minutes on the phone and you have just dropped a HUNDRED BUCKS! You see, 809 is in the BAHAMAS and works like those 900 numbers where you get billed a bundle just for calling (thank you very much). It's a good idea of warn everyone you work with to be on the lookout for this latest ripoff. If you can program your phone system to avoid certain prefixes, enter 809 along with 900.

Return To Table of Contents

1997 SBE Certification Dates

The schedule of SBE certification exams and deadlines for the first half of 1997 is listed below. Planning to become certified or upgrade this year or next? Check these out and plan the time that's best for you.

April 8 Las Vegas (NAB Convention)
(application deadline February 21)

June 13-23 Local Chapters
(application deadline April 25)

Incidentally, it is hoped that the arrangements for the two new levels of non- broadcast certification (audio production engineer and video production engineer) will be completed by the Las Vegas Convention. First exams for the new levels will probably be given in June at the local chapter level.

Return To Table of Contents

RFR Exposure Report

Chapter 9 - Phoenix

The FCC has, as you probably know, released its Report and Order concerning human exposure to radio frequencies. The text is available from many sources, including the http://www.fcc.gov web page on the WWW. It appears there in word 6 format, ready for downloading.

Return To Table of Contents

Digital TV Information

Chapter 28

With the November 22nd comment due date now past on the Sixth Notice of Inquiry on DTV, now is the time to review the possibilities. Everyone in the TV industry should continue to gather up as much information as possible, as the FCC's decision on this docket will determine the future of television.

There are a number of good resources, with the Internet having the greatest amount of information. The FCC web site (www.fcc.gov) has a DTV page which has links to download the text for the 4th, 5th, and the current 6th Notice of Inquiries. There is also the text of the En Banc hearings on DTV held last December. Speeches of the Chairman and various commissioners of the FCC are also available.

Another good resource is Doug Lung's RF web page (www.transmitter.com). Doug Lung writes a weekly column on his web page (RF Currents) along with a number of other features pertaining to TV and RF subjects. Many of his web pages contain links to other websites containing DTV information. Doug also writes a column for TV TECHNOLOGY, of which he has back issues available on his web page.

Also TV TECHNOLOGY has been running a series of articles by Charles Rhodes on DTV allocation and interference issues. These articles give a good background on how the proposed FCC table for DTV allocations will work. .

Another good resource is Broadcast Net (www.broadcast.net) which has links to the FCC, broadcast organizations and manufacturers. Having and keeping up with all the information concerning the changes in technology and politics will help you understand, anticipate, and survive the transition to DTV.

(by Tom Smith, From Chapter 24 (Madison) Newsletter 10/96)

Return To Table of Contents

Newsletter Committee

Bill Harris.......(303)756-4843 email: BHarris4@IX.netcom.com
Garneth M. Harris..(303)756-4843
Andre' Smith.......(303)871-4204 email: ansmith@du.edu

Views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the official positions of the Society, its officers, or its members. We regret, but are not liable for, any omissions or errors. The Denver SBE Newsletter is published approximately twelve times per year. It is prepared with a combination of text and graphic data. Submission deadline is 10 days before the last day of each month. Other SBE chapters are permitted to use excerpts if attributed to the original authors, sources, and/or the Denver SBE Newsletter.