Clay’s Corner for February 2019

Clay’s Corner

Providing news and views from a broadcast engineers perspective since September 1986

Thus far, except for a couple dandy wind-storms, we have been having a pretty mild winter.  From what some say…It’s because of the Polar Vortex that’s giving much of the country something to shiver about.  The wind storm on January 6th was, thankfully, short in duration…Had it lasted longer there would have been a lot of damage.  Because my power was out…I decided to break out my ‘fiber and carbon based’ computer system (Paper and Pencil) and make some notes –

The Great January 6th Windstorm of 2019

A few, random, thoughts about this ‘big-blow’

  • NWS was ‘right-on’ with their predictions.  Kudo’s to the crew at Sand Point!
  • Winds hit my place, in Auburn, about 1 a.m. as if a switch was thrown.
  • About 1:30 a.m. – My power was out and I could watch flashes of Green, Blue, Amber etc. in the skyline to the South and West (quite the light show)
  • About 2 a.m. my first phone call from a Board Operator at a ‘certain radio station’ telling me there were alarms going off all over! (He may have quoted from ‘Chicken Little’)
  • At 2:29 a.m. received my first message from PSE on my Cellphone

We’re on it! Work will be underway soon to restore power at your location, estimated restoration 4 a.m.

  • At 3:35 a.m. – Another message –

It’s taking longer than expected to restore your power

  • About as quickly as it started, the winds died down, as did the phone calls, and I got some sleep.
  • About 6, I woke wanting information….So I dug out my trusty wind-up Radio and went to the station that bills itself as a ‘news station’….I quickly learned a few things.

1-    They apparently did not plan on this event, or staff up for it.

2-    Information was very sketchy and lacked much detail.

3-    Apparently I was alone in thinking that after a major wind-storm radio would have tons of information about damage, power outages, roads blocked etc.

4-    Soon afterward, the station starting running some canned talk-show (No help).

5-    I decided to tune into another radio station in the area that used to do a lot of news…No help there either as they too were running ‘canned’ talk shows.

6-    I concluded that these radio stations bill themselves as places for news, so long as it fits with their programming.

7-    Sunday mornings, apparently, bad times for bad events.  Had this storm come 24 hours later, they’d probably would have been all over it.

8-    Interesting how the Engineering Department is ‘expected’ to be all over storm related events, but the news department is not?

9-    Not having a Generator, or a wind-up TV Set, I have no idea of what local TV was doing.

  • So I spent the day doing what I usually do after an event like this – Gather Data, make phone calls, visit sites, damage assessments etc.
  • My truck ‘display’ shows signal strength of cell sites (taken from my phone) could not help but notice, as I drove along, there were a number of locations with zero cell signal.  Apparently not all cell-sites have auxiliary power!
  • By about 4 p.m. – I called my wife to see if power had come back on at home…She said no, so I told her to get ready as I was going to stop and pick her up and go out for dinner.
  • At about 735 PM – My power came back on.  Only about an 18-hour outage, but it seemed like days.  We were ready to settle down around our wood-stove for another night.
  • At 739PM I received a text message from PSE  – Power should be back on in your area.

So what’s it like when you are a broadcast engineer and, after the storm, you have to go out and fix it….and your location is on a local mountain?  Often you are called to deal with things that have fallen down.

This from Doug Fisher as he was trying to get up South Mountain:

Of course….Broadcast Engineers are supposed to carry chain-saws!

And this from Arthur Willets as he was trying to go up West Tiger

Further up the road you get into snow.   Here you can see a couple “Broadcast Engineers’ sawing up a downed tree.   This view is looking ‘down’ the road as indicated by the vehicles in the background waiting to get ‘up’ the road.  (Thanks Alex Brewster)

Meanwhile, in the low-lands and big city – The wind had its way with things too.

Gotta love this one – From Mike Brooks of a Porta-Potty he found in the middle of Western Ave. on his way to work at KING-FM.   Hope it was not in use at the time!

From PSE comes this one ..What are the odds that a falling tree would do this?…UGH!

Here’s a great picture of one of the towers at West Tiger-2 taken by ATC’s Site Manager Joe Taylor….Note the ice covering everything.

The amount of ice on the West Tiger Tower is nothing compared to the following.    From the looks of the antennas, I suspect Europe.   Note the poor guy trying to make it up the climbing ladder.

According to NWS….We have indeed been having some rather warm weather…In fact, on January 11th it broke a record for the warmest on that date – 61 Degrees.  This beat the old record, set back in 1987, of 59.  Guess I should have known…buy new MT’s for the Pickup and – No-Snow!  Guess we have some winter left.

Here’s a nice shot, from the AccelNet camera on West Tiger.  Towers on the right are what we call – West Tiger-2.

In the next picture you can see the top of the easterly tower at WM-2.

At the top, side mounted on the pole that used to be used by KUNS-(TV) prior to their move to Queen Ann Hill, is the temporary KZOK/102.5 Antenna.

Below that is the 4 foot face square tower that housed the FM Master Antenna that burned.

On the left, or West Side, is the new – Temporary- Antenna that will be used until summer when the Master Antenna is replaced.  If you look closely, you can see a man in yellow sitting on the 3rd bay from the bottom.

This antenna is also made by ERI and is what they call an Axiom, consisting of 4-half-wave space, 2 bay antennas.

This temporary antenna is not capable of handling the power of all 6 of the stations at the site, therefore, KBKS/106.1 will continue to operate at the other (West Tiger-1) site until the Master Antenna is restored.

I asked one of the Engineers working at the site recently how the temporary antenna was working, noting that I had not heard any reports…He said he guessed that everyone was just happy to again be able to operate their main transmitter.

This will all happen over again this summer when the Master Antenna is installed.  The temporary antenna will come down and these stations will again be operating from Auxiliary facilities.  There is some consideration being given to installing the present temporary antenna on the other tower at the site providing FM users with an auxiliary antenna should something cause the new/replacement master to fail.

 

How about a complete change to something pretty?

This from old-friend, Dwight Small taken from his home on the Lake – Hard to imagine having to wake up to this view in the morning.

So what’s happening elsewhere –

  • Sirius XM wound up 2018 with 34 Million Subscribers.  Not too bad for a system that many said was doomed to fail when it started.
  • Do you have a Smart Speaker?  Some 8% of Americans received or bought one over the holidays.  It’s estimated that 21% or 53 million Americans now have one.
  • The Federal Government shut-down was impacting the FCC and its relationship with broadcasters.  At least for now, the situation has eased.  At this stage, all the crystal-balls used to forecast things in W.D.C. are out of commission.
  • One of my daily activities is to check the FCC’s Daily Releases…Wow, not much there these days.
  • The recently completed CES in Vegas created a lot of interest in new/fancy electronics for vehicles…From 5G to Voice Commands.
  • Lawmakers, with apparently some time on their hands, have been persuaded to urge the FCC to take what they are calling a ‘balanced approach’ to changes in the ‘C-Band’.  Perhaps as a result of the pressure being brought by broadcasters.
  • I understand that CBS Sports is going to use 4K and 8K cameras for Super Bowel LIII.

In one of those ‘Click-Bait’ items I looked at recently was a list of items that put out to pasture.  Among them was the Rolodex.

I have you know I have one of these just to my left as I type this….I am happy to report that it continues to be used on a regular basis to contain a lot of information I need for my activities.

Anyone else still using a Rolodex?

We recently lost a giant in the world of broadcast engineering with the passing of Warren Shulz, WA9GZX on December 31st.  Warren not only was an EAS Leader in Illinois, but long known as Chief Engineer of WLS.

I first met Warren a number of years ago, when he invited me to Chicago to talk about EAS.  In the last couple of years he and I would be exchanging emails on a regular basis talking about a variety of broadcasting issues.  Warren was an engineer’s engineer, after retirement building amateur radio projects…He loved antennas!

Did you ever wonder where they test those rovers that are on Mars?  Apparently Morocco.

Here’s a picture of Doug Fisher.   He and I were involved in the removal of the Antenna Tuning Units at the 1210 Site East of Auburn recently.  Doug owns Comtech Service.

On the subject of the disassembly of the 1210 night site….here are a coupleof  pictures of that process.  This shows the inside of the 4-Tower ‘Phasor’.  There is some interesting history here.  Notice the 3 holes on the left side of the left cabinet.  This equipment, as supplied by Kintronic back in 1990, was originally a 3 cabinet system designed for a 50 kW Day/10 kW night operation.  That cabinet was disconnected and moved to the other 1210 site on the west side of Auburn where it became part of the 27.5 kW ‘Day Site’.  For many years 1210 operated via this equipment at night.

Whereas AM Directional Antenna equipment is pretty much all custom-built, it was taken apart so that its components (Coils and Capacitors) could be used with some other AM station making changes and/or upgrades.

The Antenna Tuning Units (more Coils and Capacitors etc.) were housed in cabinets at the base of each tower.  Those have been moved from the site where they too will be harvested for component needs.

In taking this apart, I was constantly impressed by the amount of planning and labor it took to create this device.  It’s no wonder that Kintronic has the reputation they do.

I will have to admit that it’s hard to dismantle something that you worked so hard on 30 years ago to construct.

After removal of everything of value….We are left with this.  All the parts are gone and only the skeleton remains that will soon see the scrap dealer.

The facilities equipment racks, shown behind in this picture, are going to move on to become devices to house components for another station.

 

1210 is just one of many AM Stations that are contracting.  In this case, choosing to operate from their Day-Site, at night, with substantially less power.  Some AM’s are also choosing to reduce expenses and operate with less power…while others are throwing in the towel all together.

I’ve read stories about AM’s that have gained an FM Frequency via what’s known as an AM Translator, who have asked the regulators if they can keep the FM Frequency and forever turn off the AM.

Perhaps related to this issue are the tests that are being conducted using all-digital AM.  My guess is that there are many that feel that perhaps the lack of digital AM receivers could be overcome by the potential advantages that an all-digital system could provide.  I guess time will tell.

In the meantime we are likely to see the AM Band begin to resemble what it looked like 50 years ago.  Certainly the Station/Listener ratio is out of balance.  Broadcasting is not exempt from the laws of ‘Supply and Demand’.

Here’s a gem I just had to share – Another example of technology changes:

Remember when you had the cassette deck in your car radio do this?

Geography is something that challenges many – I recently read this one:

‘Nothing is built in America any more…I just bought a TV and it said –  BUILT IN ANTENNA’

I have little time to browse on-line…But once in a while I come across a face I recognize.

In this case, a very serious Ben Dawson.

 

From the look of the items on the workbench and the equipment behind him, I’d say he was deep into a Directional AM Station somewhere.

I was looking through my recent emails to find a chuckle to leave you with this month –

How about what happens when you ask a younger person to use a Dial Telephone?

https://www.facebook.com/DidThatJustHappenDM/videos/243318273233282/

Short on time this month.  Lord willing, I will do it again in a month.

Thanks for the read!

As they say in Amateur Radio, 73

Clay Freinwald, CPBE, K7CR
SBE Member # 714  (2-5-68)

Clay’s Corner for January 2019

Clay’s Corner for January 2019

Clay’s Corner

Providing news and views from a broadcast engineers perspective since September 1986

Let’s start the year with a pretty picture!     The following was taken by fellow NWPB engineer, Jason Royals.  He stopped to put chains on all 4 wheels of his truck on his way to a transmitter site on Paradise Ridge which, in this scene, lies under a blanket of clouds in the distance.   Normally you try and avoid the lens artifacts caused by the sun…but in this case…I think the effect is spectacular.

Congratulations to Russ Mundschenk, who is the 15th recipient of the Radio World Excellence in Engineering Award.  Russ is a senior manager of broadcast engineering for Xperi, which owns and promotes HD Radio digital technology.    I’m proud to be among that group of 15.    Like previous years, he will be honored in Las Vegas, in April, during the NAB Show.

 

One of the recipients of this award, back in 2011 was Barry Thomas who, on December 6th passed losing his long fight with Cancer.   I was on the SBE Board with him when Barry found out what he was dealing with in 2008.  He came back with, after major surgery unable to turn his head…but, despite it all …He continued to serve the Society as President and do the work he was called to do for 35 years.  Barry was 56.

 

Jim Liefer, President of SBE issued this statement

 

We are deeply saddened by the passing of Barry Thomas, CPBE, DRB, CBNE, who died on Dec. 6, 2018. Barry devoted a great deal of his time and talents to the Society of Broadcast Engineers. He joined the SBE in 1986 and served the SBE with involvement in several local SBE chapters and on the national level. His national involvement included two terms on the SBE Board of Directors from 2002 to 2005, and two terms as treasurer from 2005 to 2007. He served as the society’s 25th president from 2007 to 2009 and immediate past president from 2009 to 2011. In 2017 he was elected to serve on the board again, but decided to step down early in his term. In 2011, Barry was elevated to the membership grade of Fellow.

On Barry’s passing, SBE President Jim Leifer, CPBE, said, “Barry served the SBE in many capacities and has been a voice for many engineers in our industry for decades. After hearing this news, I remembered so many occasions where Barry spent time developing younger engineers and being that mentor so many of us talk about. He was a devoted father, son, brother and fellow engineer who will be sorely missed by all.”

After one of the driest Novembers ever….Winter got going in December with some wild weather.  The headline was a, short-lived, but destructive F2 Tornado in Port Orchard on December 18th.    These are pretty rare in this neck of the woods.   Perhaps you recall the F3 in the Vancouver/Portland area back in 1972?   Then, on the 20th we had a nasty windstorm that saw over 300,000 loose power.   Mt Baker got hit with a 117 mph gust.

Apparently things are moving along with the Chapter 11 Reorganization at iHeart Media with over 90% of the creditors and shareholders approving the most recent plan.     This is certainly good news for all concerned.

If you are like me – You have been receiving reminders that the annual trek to the desert is only a couple of months away.   The 2019 NAB Show will be held April 6-11 in Las Vegas.   Whereas I received an award last year…I get free registration for the whole event for the rest of my life…All I have to do is show up.   Pretty cool.   However looking in the mirror, I can tell that they got a bargain.

Periodically someone makes a statement that needs to be repeated.   In this care, Gray Haertig wrote –

 “Never assume a conspiracy when incompetence is sufficient to explain the facts.”

 

One of the blessings of my work is being able to getting away from freeways and traffic congestion and be able to enjoy this wonderful part of country.    Generally, when you see a picture of our scenery it’s taken with clear blue skies and sunshine.  The one I want to share with you today was taken on my way down from Striped Peak (west of Port Angeles)  Below me is thick fog in the valley of SR-112.   Above is typical winter overcast.   In the distance you can see snow on top of the peaks on the northern edge of the Olympics.

 

Thanks to Ralph Sims and the crew at Accel Net, we now have a 24 hour Web Camera at West Tiger.  The camera is always generally pointed east.   I captured this picture just after sunrise (hence the yellows in the picture)  In the foreground you can see construction of the foundation for what will be a new tower (at this writing the concrete has been poured) In the distance you can see the twin-towers at which has become known at West Tiger-2.   The furthest of those towers held the FM Antenna that recently caught fire.     All of us that travel to West Tiger now rely on this camera to tell us what conditions to expect.  This road continues to the West to the Summit of West Tiger where the other broadcast site is located.

So what happened with the FM Antenna that burned?    Well it’s been removed.    The following pictures show some of that process.

Here you can see the big antenna is starting to be taken apart. (Note ropes and cables on the right)

Here 4 of the 32 ‘Bays’ or ‘elements’ have been removed.

 

Here you can see one of the Antenna Bays on the way down.  If you look close you can see that this one is partially burned.

Putting things in perspective –

Note how big these are compared to the worker.

 

With all of the antenna elements on the ground – Quite a collection

 

Looking up the tower now – You see the 4 foot face tower, covered with screen, where the antenna pieces were mounted

Above this is the pole that used to hold the antenna for KUNS-TV .   That was removed a couple of years ago when the station moved its transmitting equipment to the KOMO-TV Tower on Queen Ann Hill.    This pole was put to good use as a means of supporting a temporary antenna for KZOK

This area of the tower where the burned antenna will be used to mount a temporary antenna that all stations can use to get back to broadcasting from the site.   The antenna, an 8-bay ERI Axiom,    Because the temporary antenna will be side mounted, it will not be Omni-directional and will, reportedly, not be able to handle the same amount of power.

Installing the Temporary Antenna, this time of year, is problematic, due to the sites elevation (very close to that of Snoqualmie Pass) and, of course, the weather.   Everyone is now hoping for what we call a ‘Weather Window’ so the job can be done.

ATC’s announced plans are for replacing the damaged Master Antenna…Sometime in the Spring when the weather is conducive for this kind of work – Usually late April at the earliest.  They are considering mounting the Temporary Antenna on the other tower at the site providing the site with a permanent auxiliary antenna.

In the following  picture you can see the tower crew putting together the temporary KZOK/102.5 Bext Antenna.

Here is a close-up of the above antenna mounted on that pole.

The Beacon Light, seen here on the top of the pole, has not worked since the fire due to damage to its wiring

Meanwhile, Entercom installed a new antenna for 94.1 on the West Tiger-1 Tower (Red Arrow) along with a transmitter that will function as a back up to their, presently in use auxiliary facilities on Cougar Mountain.

 

Many moons ago I helped a fellow get started in broadcasting.    In chatting with Lowell Kiesow recently, he said that Nick Winter has officially retired.   In my last conversation with Nick, he said he may continue to do some contract work, but is now looking forward to doing what he wants to do going forward.    Congratulations Nick on achieving this milestone.

For those of us that live in northern latitudes, we have come to expect short days this time of year.  I found the following to be quite interesting –

The winter solstice is the shortest day. It offers the shortest period of daylight. But, unless you live close to the Arctic Circle or Antarctic Circle, your earliest sunsets aren’t on or even near the solstice itself. Instead, your earliest sunsets will come before the winter solstice. The exact date of earliest sunset depends on your latitude. If you live in the southernmost U.S., or a comparable latitude (say, around 25 or 26 degrees N. latitude), your earliest sunsets are in late November. If you’re farther north – say, around 40 degrees N. latitude – your earliest sunsets are around December 7.

After what seems like a very long wait – Locally based T-Mobile has announced they hope to close the deal with Spring in the 2nd Quarter of 2019.   I have to give T-Mobile credit for one aspect of their marketing effort ….Adopting the color Magenta.    As I was driving by one of their locations recently, at night, their location was known, some distance away.   Can’t think of another brand or product that has achieved this – Note the following –

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2014/02/10/court-says-t-mobile-owns-the-color-magenta/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.9e3d6cd5a777

It happens this time of year – Dictionary.com is out with their 2018 ‘word of the year’

Misinformation

Dictionary.com defines misconception as “false information that is spread, regardless of whether there is intent to mislead.    If they had rated the 2018 Phrase….Wonder if it would have been ‘Fake News’?

Another one for the record books for 2018 has to be the epidemic of Robo-Calls.   Recently my home phone rang with a Robo-call…and within a minute my Cellphone received the same call –Same message, same voice.

In the past month I have received a number of emails that appear to come from me.   One is a message telling me how my computer has been hacked with a request to send money using Bit-Coins.   They go on and on telling me how they have been watching what I do while on-line using a web-camera.   This is funny, because I don’t have one.   I carefully scan my computer on a regular basis using a variety of tools…Nope, they have not gotten into my system, what they have done is spoofed my email address.   Just like they spoof phone numbers when they call your cell.

Here’s an interesting one – I was driving along when my vehicles display lit up announcing I was receiving a call from ‘Clay Freinwald’.   Knowing that I am unlikely to call myself on the phone while driving I did not answer.   What was interesting is the displayed Phone Number (see below).  In this case they are able to send a string of Zero’s for the number and Spoof my name

Later I took this picture of my phone to share with you –

Has this ever happened to you?

 

Staying ahead of us, just bit – NHK has announced that it will launch its 8K channel in Japan with a broadcast of “2001: A Space Odyssey.”    Over there they are calling 8K ‘Super Hi Vision’.  A lot of their source material are films that were shot in 70mm which they claim is close to 8K quality.

Recent news shows that house prices (finally) are dropping in the Seattle area…In fact, faster than anywhere else in the country.   Reports show they went down 1.3% in September.   Unfortunately, for those of us that own our homes, this will not mean an immediate drop in property taxes.      It’s nice not having a mortgage and no debt, however, I like to say that we ‘lease’ our lot from the County.   A comment like that often results in some push-back.   I go on to explain that our lease payments are made twice a year to the County.    If you think you own the land your house is on…Think again!   Stop making those ‘lease payments’ and you will quickly find out who owns that property.

Got this picture of some old gray-bearded broadcast engineers recently – That Terry Spring (ION Media) on the left and Rob Purdy (Hubbard) on the right.

 The following are comments recently posted on a national broadcast engineers remailer by Greg Muir of Great Falls Montana who writes about how so much of today’s electronic equipment is no longer repairable in the field.

Oh, there will be a time when people will no longer

dabble in fixing archaic electronics.  That time will be

when us legacy engineers with considerable knowledge

in detailed circuitry workings eventually perish and give

way to those who only have the need to know how to

plug-n+IBk–play commercial modules purchased from

a manufacturer.  The need to learn circuit theory will be no

more since nearly piece of equipment will only be serviceable on a modular

basis or by sending the entire unit back to the manufacturer who only uses

proprietary components and holds all circuit details closely to their chest.

If it breaks, put it in a box with postage.  It’s not your problem.

 

We are now faced with broadcast management having to cough up large sums of

money to replace an entire assembly or unit since the manufacturer no longer

will provide detailed support but, instead will gladly sell you a rebuilt

subassembly for thousands of dollars instead of letting you replace that +ACQ-10

part – if it is even replaceable.

 

We now see consumers (i.e. our listeners and viewers) facing the age of

+IBw-disposable electronics+IB0- since repairability is virtually no more.  It is

cheaper to throw things away and purchase new sending the broken item over

to a foreign country to pollute their land instead of ours.  And, besides

that, why try to fix anything since it is better to get instant

gratification by buying the latest and greatest (I often refer to those

users as being constantly +IBw-technologically optimistic+IB0-), plugging it in and

making it work.  Heck, if you can fight problems by only having to sit

behind a keyboard or sliding your finger over the face of a phone or tablet,

you now have the world by the tail.

 

Aside from gritting my teeth and having to occasionally purchase a new piece

of very expensive test equipment for the lab, a portion of our inventory

still consists of 20-30 year-old equipment that still functions and is as

accurate as new equipment that is purchased today.  And it is fixable+ACEAIQAh-

 

End of rant.  It+IBk-s time to get back to working with my vacuum tubes and

transistors+ICY-.

 

I think about this topic often as I drive by a, now vacant, TV repair shop in my home town…’Colortronics’  how TV Sets and much of consumer electronics are no longer repaired but are simply thrown away when they no longer function.    Just for drill, I Googled Colortronics in Auburn, WA. ….Yes their Web Site is still there as if they were up and running.

Proving yet another point…Don’t trust Web Sites to be taken down when a business goes away.

I’m much like Greg, I went to school to learn how to repair electronic devices down to the smallest part.   And, to support this effort, I collected a large number of electronic parts and pieces which, only recently, I have been (reluctantly) throwing away.    Today I will, if the opportunity comes along, actually build something using a lot of those parts.   Repurposing a piece of equipment that I ‘rescued’ from the dumpster is in my blood I guess.   In today’s world the attitude seems to be if you can’t buy something ‘off the shelf’ from someone to resolve an issue – It can’t be done.    Being from the old-school, we looked at these needs as a challenge to design something, build it, install it and admire our handy-work.     Have to hand it to guys like Don Winget who was able to escape being a broadcast engineer in Seattle for Skagit County where his love of creating solutions was turned into a business.  Today you find Broadcast Tools equipment everywhere.    Don is one of the lucky ones!

I recently got into a discussion about the use of the term Translator in Radio – Translators that ‘translate’ or re-broadcast FM Stations are called ‘FM-Translators while translators that translate AM Stations on FM are called ‘AM-Translators.

Here’s an item that only an Engineer could appreciate.   At the end of pieces of Flanged Rigid RF Transmission line are often found plastic covers.    Not wishing this item to be thrown away..

I waited for a better use to come up.    It took a while, but finally happened one day as I was waiting for a returned phone call.   3-Transmisson line bolts and PRESTO!  I had the perfect container for paper clips on my desk.   Something that perhaps only broadcast engineers that deal with transmitting equipment could appreciate!  🙂

 

Once again bidding wars are the name of the game for some TV assets….In this case-  regional sports networks belonging to Fox, Tribune and WGN.    Look for some big-names and big-money in this one.   Some of those seeking these properties are names that are not normally associated with Broadcasting.

Other big deals to be announced are for the Tribune  and  Cox Stations.    All of which will have a certain impact on operations in the Seattle area.

Other deals in the works are a reported sale of Nielsen (The firm that provides media ratings)

Another picture to share .   I was recently joined by, now retired from WSU, Don Eckis as I inspected the operation of the NWPB Radio Translator on Green Mountain east of Kalama.   Don is now back living in Vancouver

 

Another local AM on the decline story – In this case, the AM Station licensed to Auburn, WA.

This station started life in 1958 as KASY running 250 watts, day-time only on 1220.   The station was started by Ed Garre and his wife June operating out of a little house in downtown Auburn (Torn down a few years ago to make way for a large apartment building)  The call letters were a natural as Auburn was, and to a degree, still is, at Railroad town. (Casey was the legendary railroad engineer).  At some point the station increased power to 2500 Watts Daytime only on 1220 using a directional pattern and two towers.    The station later increased power to 10kw Day and 1Kw night Non-Directional and moved to 1210 when the Clear Channels were opened up.  Later, they received a construction permit to increase power to 50kw Day and 10Kw night at a new location.    About that time, in the late 80’s,  Viacom had purchased 97.3 FM (then KNBQ) and was changing formats to oldies and figured having a simulcast AM would be a good idea.  They purchased the station (and this is where I came in).   The late Arne Skoog and I embarked on building the transmitter site on the east side of Auburn.   After initial testing it was determined that this was not a good location.   So the station continued to operate for a while with its transmitter operating 10Kw Day and 1Kw night.    It was eventually determined that the towers (once used for the 1220 directional system near the Valley Freeway on the west side of Auburn) would work for 1210 during the day with 27,500 watts.     Viacom made the decision to operate during the day at the old West Auburn location and operate, at night, with 10,000 watts at the newly constructed site on East Side of Auburn as KBSG-AM.    The station was purchase with 97.3 by Entercom and continued to operate using various formats and call letters.   Entercom sold the station to Bustos Media where the format was changed to Latino using, again, various call letters.  This two-site operation continued until just a couple of weeks ago as KMIA.

The present owner of the station, Amador Bustos, wanting to reduce expenses, decided to abandon the 10,000 watt 4-Tower directional night site in favor of operating with a fraction of that power, using the same antennas and location as used for Daytime.     Whereas the property for the night site was leased, it made a great deal of economic sense.

In looking at the files I pulled a copy of the Viacom purchase order for the towers that I signed back in 1989…..A flood of memories overtook me for a moment as I was involved in the birth and death of a transmitter site.    By the first week in January all the equipment will have been removed and the towers made ready for removal .

Unlike many AM Stations the site did not become too valuable to continue to be used for broadcasting…It was a simple matter of economics where AM stations don’t produced the revenue they once did and retraction is a viable option. Prior to being a AM transmitter site the property was used for a 3-hole golf course – Now it will be used for who knows what.   The property remains in the Garre family who have reportedly put it up for sale.  For me it means less work – and, as Martha would say….That’s a good thing.

I have this feeling that I will, again in this coming year, write about another AM that is either downsizing or is throwing in the towel.    Like a lot of things, they have life-cycles…just never thought that AM Radio would be one of them, as viewed from 50 years ago.

Then there is this –

Media Contact:

Brian Hart, (202) 418-0505

brian.hart@fcc.gov

For Immediate Release

FCC PLAN FOR THE PARTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

WASHINGTON, December 22, 2018—Brian Hart, Director of the FCC’s Office of Media Relations, issued the following statement regarding the FCC’s plan for the partial government shutdown:

“Because of available funding, the Federal Communications Commission plans to remain open and pay staff at least through the close of business on Wednesday, January 2, 2019, despite the partial government shutdown.”

 

My old friend, Dwight Small sent me the following picture –

How many of you that work in TV remember the name CONRAC ?    Long before flat-screen and Multiview displays where TV Monitors made by this firm.   Whereas I worked in TV stations where a lot of equipment was purchased from RCA – They were always painted Dark Umber.

I wonder how many remember Conrac? A 6080 with a code date of 68-09.

https://picclick.com/RCA-6CG7-6FQ7-for-Conrac-Vacuum-Tubes-Used-182983184173.html

Sad to report on the passing of another in our business.    Jeff Nordstrom left us around Christmas.    For those of you that have been working in Broadcasting in the Seattle area for a long time that name might sound familiar.   Jeff worked at 1590/102.5 back in the 60’s.    I recall, at the time, I would buy tubes from him that would no longer work in the 1590 transmitter that would work just fine in my modified transmitter at KMO.    Jeff left the area to work in Satellite Distribution and later Harris Allied when they were selling equipment.    I would, occasionally, run into him at NAB.    He had an infectious personality, and a big smile and always a story to tell.   In recent years, Jeff was living in Wisconsin.   When I got the news, I let Marty Hadfield and Dwight Small know…They both remember him …Perhaps you did too?

And then, thanks to Century Link  – We all received a variation of this one –

 

EAS and WEA went nuts trying to let us know that calling 911 was not going to work etc. etc.  In the end, on the 31st….We all heard that the problem was traced to a gizmo in Denver that was reportedly sending out bad data.    Just how a problem in Denver would cause our local 911 system to crash is creepy.     One would think that these systems would be geographically isolated and not be inter-dependent.   I was always taught to avoid SPOF’s (Single Points of Failure).    It appears that Century Link does not subscribe to this ‘old school’ thinking.   One of the local TV Stations ran a story on how one county in this area chose another vendor the last time this happened and how C-Link got fined.    I suspect that this time, it could be worse for them as interest has risen to very high levels.

 

 

Well now, as we start a new year – Some items that will, hopefully, bring a smile –

From the ‘something to ponder’ department

Did you every give the number ‘Zero’ much thought?    Many have not – https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/7/5/17500782/zero-number-math-explained

This all leads me to ask –

  • is dead air Zero?

 

  • Can there be degrees of nothing?

 

  • What about the difference between – aught, naught and nought?

 

  • When in TV you ‘fade to black’ how can you state there is no picture when black is simply a dark color?

 

  • If you were to assign numbers to colors – if White is Zero would Black be infinite?

And from the Questions with few answers department

Ø If poison expires, is it more poisonous or is it no longer poisonous?

 

Ø Which letter is silent in the word “Scent,” the S or the C?

 

Ø Why is the letter W, in English, called double U? Shouldn’t it be called double V?

 

Ø Every time you clean something, you just make something else dirty.

 

Ø 100 years ago everyone owned a horse and only the rich had cars. Today everyone has cars and only the rich own horses.

 

Ø If you replace “W” with “T” in “What, Where and When”, you get the answer to each of them.

 

Ø Why is there a ‘D’ in fridge, but not in refrigerator?

 

Ø Who knew what time it was when the first clock was made?

 

Ø Wonder why the word funeral starts with FUN?

 

Ø Why isn’t a Fireman called a Water-man?

 

Ø If money doesn’t grow on trees, how come Banks have Branches?

 

Ø How do you get off a non-stop Flight?

 

Ø Why are goods sent by ship called CARGO and those sent by truck SHIPMENT?

 

Ø Why is it called ‘Rush Hour’ when traffic moves at its slowest then?

 

Ø How come Noses run and Feet smell?

 

Ø Why do they call it a TV ‘set’ when there is only one?

 

Ø What are you vacating when you go on a vacation?

 

With that….It’s clearly time to end this column for this month.

 

Lord willing, I will be back to most of the same locations next month at this time.

Until then – May you have a wonderful new year !

 

Clay, K7CR, CPBE

SBE Member for over 50 years, #714.

 

The KE0VH Hamshack for January 2019

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019!

Last month I wrote about the new Yaesu rigs and using them in conjunction with the Zumspot hotspot to communicate in the YaesuFusion to DMR mode and we are having a great deal of fun with that system.  As of this writing myself, Shane KØSDT, Cris W5WCA, Matt KEØLNU, Kenny K4KR, Tim KAØAAI, Bill WØBX (and on his repeater in Grand Junction)  and others are on DMR TalkGroup 310847 connected to the Rocky Mountain Radio Leagues KI0GO DMR repeater in Denver.  Some of us are using straight DMR.  Others using Yaesu Fusion.  The local (DMR) on air frequency is 449.750, time slot 1 on the repeater.  Last month as the pictures below show Shane was in Rocklin CA while I was in my office in Denver and we were communicating via this system.  Shane and I both since the last newsletter have obtained new HT’s from Yaesu and our friends at the Denver Ham Radio Outlet.  Shane bought the latest full featured true dual band HT from Yaesu, the FT2RDR, which is essentially a FTM-400 in handheld form.  I bought the C4FM & WiresX capable FT70DR, very similar to a VX-6 yet will do all the latest modes.  In the pictures below we are having a QSO on DMR TalkGroup 310847, while using our respective radio’s and hotspots.

Shanes FT2D on the top, my FT70D on the bottom while we were is QSO from California to Colorado!

Also in the picture on the left is Shane’s Zumspot.  Below is a shot of my FTM-100 during the contact.

You can see on the bottom half of Shane’s FT2D the APRS frequency of 144.39 as he was beaconing his position while there.  Below is a screenshot of his location at the time.

Anytime you want to see where I am, you can go here:

https://aprs.fi/#!mt=roadmap&z=12&call=a%2FKE0VH-2&timerange=3600&tail=3600

Also anytime you want to simply monitor the DMR TalkGroup 310847 you can go to this website:

https://hose.brandmeister.network/group/310847/

By changing the number in the above site you can also monitor any other DMR TalkGroup you want.  For instance, to listen to the nationwide group known as TAC 310, simply change the 310847 to 310.  The Emergency Talkgroup for the USA is 9911.  The Tennessee statewide TG for instance is 3147.  Colorado statewide is 3108 .  California statewide is 3106.  NorCal has two for instance, 31068 and 31069.  SoCal 31066 and 31067.   Worldwide it is a HUGE list.  Lots of information and a good jumping into point can be found at: https://wiki.brandmeister.network/index.php/Main_Page

Those radios seen above and so many more can communicate world wide via the Brandmeister system.  Not near a repeater?  A hotspot device puts you on the air across the internet.

So what is the difference between the DMR system and the AllStar system that I have written about (and still use BTW)?

In my opinion, DMR for the first thing is digital, so when the signals are there the audio is great and clean.  AllStar though being analog of course isn’t as susceptible to digital drops and “maxheadroom” noise.  DMR is much easier to use though with Windows GUI’s and interfaces and plenty of ready made software, much of it free, to manipulate radios’s and hotspots.  AllStar still has software that must be manipulated with command lines in linux and can be quite complicated.  The information so far that I have found on the internet is not easy to contend with.  Works great if you know what you are doing.  Or have an expert like Skyler KGØSKY to help you (read “do it all for you”)………  One thing that I really like about using the hotspot aspect of things is that the Zumspot that I am using is so easy to deal with in the software manipulation and GUI!  AllStar is not.  The Zumspot also has several different modes.  It will do the DMR mode, plus Yaesu Fusion, D-Star, and several other modes.  PLUS, and I like this since I LOVE my Yaesu radio’s I wrote about above and last month, the Zumspot will cross the Yaesu mode to DMR!  So I can use those radio’s while having my DMR TYT MD380 handheld for carrying around easily when traveling.  Those are the primary  differences as I see them.

My good friend, Chris Kirby WXØPIX writes a byline in the “Hamshack” this month about his ham radio adventures at no less than W1AW in Newington Connecticut ARRL Headquarters!  What a great time he had, here, let me let him tell you about it!

***********************************************************************************************

Recently, my job took me to Hartford, Ct., for a week to support a very busy go-live project.

Every hour of the day on these work trips just seems to be packed with group activities leaving little or no time for much else.

The local purchasing manager for our Ct stores overhead me mention how I wish I could have had time to visit the ARRL headquarters in Newington – the same place he took a school tour as a child.  Little did I know he had a surprise in the works.

Wednesday morning, Dec 12th, he surprised me with one of my Ham Radio bucket list items.

Dave, WA1OUI, led the manager and I on a full tour of the facilities.

We saw the infamous Faraday cage where extensive radio testing is conducted, we saw the library and QSO sorting room, and we saw the many different departments that support our hobby.

As any red blooded ham can imagine, the moment of excitement came when we were led across the parking lot to W1AW.

Walking in was almost magical in itself. Our tour guide pointed out the various antennas and beams as well as taking time to fire up the spark gap generator.

I was honestly caught off guard when our guide turned to me and asked on what band I would like to transmit.  I felt like an overly excited kid inside.

20m has always been my favorite, so he walked over to a huge wall panel to set the jumpers to the beam out on the tower.  He then asked where to point it.

Had I had any sense of being in my body, I would have quickly texted KE0VH, but …. with slim minutes away from work, I sat down to put out a call.

Before I made my call, I told my non-ham friend…”watch how fast we get a reply.”

The moment my foot touched the foot switch, the realization of it all – almost a form of sacrament hit me. I quickly thought about all of the hams who had graced that chair and the golden Heil microphone.  It was moving.

On my third call of CQ, I was working KK5NO in Arkansas with a 5/9 20+ report.

I called QRZ, worked another and a final third to KS0TD as he was mobiling across Kansas.

GREAT JOB CHRIS!  WHAT FUN AND A HAM RADIO DREAM COME TRUE!

So another project for this month was replacing the old incandescent lamps in my MFJ antenna tuner with LED’s for better and sharper visibility for my eyes!  Although I really liked the “nostalgia” of the older style and color, the LED is MUCH better!

THE OLD and………….

THE NEW!

Yes, I left the old in for a bit of an incandescent “tint”

And another DMR radio and hotspot, these belong to Chris WX0PIX.  His Raspberry Pi with Hotspot board, yet another incarnation of the linking tech we can use these days.

Check out this Flight Simulator rig for 3d motion.  https://mobile.twitter.com/boredpanda/status/1035263503748288512?lang=en

My friend Matt KEØLNU had some really interesting problems with his TYT MD-380 handheld that we want to report on here.  Seems his radio would “go to sleep” on receive after loading the MD-380 Tools software that has become very

popular for changing frequencies and other parameters on the fly from the front panel menu system.  Matt reports here:

To All DMR-Obsessed HAMs,

I took delivery of a TYT MD-380 70cm handheld in November 2018, to pair with a Zumspot DMR hotspot. Out of the box it functioned fine, with no issues found.

I installed MD-380 Tools using a virtual machine software with code from GitHub. After installing MD-380 Tools, the radio would receive DMR transmissions as long as those transmissions were within 5 to 6 seconds of each other. If there was greater than 5 to 6 seconds between transmissions, the radio would not receive the transmission. The behavior is illustrated in this video.

Transmitting was not affected. Other stations could hear transmission, but if there was a delay greater than 5 to 6 seconds, the return transmission could not be heard. To continue receiving transmissions, the radio could be “re-awakened” by briefly switching to another channel and then back to the desired channel.

Research found the issue described in this google group post. A solution was found in the form of a tweak available in the virtual machine software. Including the nosleep.enable tweak when installing MD-380 tools was reported to remedy the problem. Code for the nosleep.enable tweak is available here.

Upon using the radio after installing the nosleep.enable workaround, DMR functionality was fine, and a problem appeared in the analog functionality. I did not notice this problem previously, though I was using analog repeaters prior to installing MD-380 tools. I did not try to make contacts on analog repeaters during the short time when I had MD-380 Tools installed without the nosleep.enable tweak applied. The radio would not receive analog transmissions. Period. I could transmit and stations could hear me, but transmissions could not be received.

Research revealed this discussion, which included this statement from Dale Farnsworth on 8/2/18, “The md380s produced in the past couple of months do have a new version of firmware (version D14.04) and md380tools doesn’t yet support this model. The current version of editcp makes it easy to restore the original version. Just select ‘Menu->Radio->md380tools->Write original firmware to radio.’  Then select the version of the original firmware you need.”

I downloaded editcp software, flashed the firmware to D14.04, and the radio is now working fine. It no longer has MD-380 Tools, but it is working fine. Basically I returned the radio to factory settings. I appears the most recent versions of MD-380 Tools available are not compatible with the new version (Version 5 apparently) of the MD-380 radio.

The editcp software is windows-based, which avoids the need to structure a virtual machine as required by software available on GitHub. Editcp is a code plug editor, and includes functionality to write factory firmware, install MD-380 Tools, and write the user database to the radio. The latest version of MD-380 factory firmware listed as compatible with MD-380 Tools is D13.20. I tried to write the D13.20 version of firmware to my radio, and was greeted by an inverted front screen of the radio, which indicates an incompatible firmware version was written to the radio. I must use firmware version D14.04, which is not compatible with MD-380 Tools.

One open item of investigation is determining where the cut off point is between compatible and incompatible radios. Of five MD-380 radios with MD-380 Tools installed, mine was the only one exhibiting the behaviors described above. Mine was the most recently purchased (November 2018), and it was also the only one with a serial number beginning 18. All other serial numbers began 16. The other four radios functioned fine with MD-380 Tools installed.

The bottom line appears to be radios shipped with firmware versions newer than D13.20 are not compatible with available versions of MD-380 tools. The firmware version of the radio can be found at Menu…Utilities…Radio Info…Versions (Firmware Version can be viewed on that screen).

Respectfully Submitted,

Matt

KE0LNU

For more information you can look at: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/md380tools/58G8Lo4Vq6E

And this from Jim KCØRPS:

If you want to beef up the next revision of this email (which is really good), https://github.com/KD4Z/md380tools-vm is the link with the instructions for installing the virtual machine and the vm MD380Tools installer.

Ever had a package stolen off your porch?  This engineer takes revenge to a “glittery” new level!                       https://youtu.be/xoxhDk-hwuo

FCC Rules Updated Daily at http://www.hallikainen.com

As you may know by now, we lost our dear friend and colleague Barry Thomas, the Chief Engineer for KOOL-105 and the Kroenke stations here in Denver after a long battle with Cancer.  We will miss Barry more than can be told.  He was past National SBE President, KSE Director of Engineering, Father and Friend to the broadcast industry.  He helped me and MANY others out with his friendship and expertise.  He will be missed greatly.

AND, lets end the newsletter with some SUPERCUTENESS!

Our little Liu Liu and Jinki!  CHRISTMAS PUPPIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3 YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2016/01/   

4 YEARS AGO

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2015/01/  

5 Years AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2014/01/

6 Years AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2013/01/

Don’t forget the SBE Chapter 73’ Of the Air

AllStar, Echolink, and DMR (Talkgroup 310847) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

At 7pm Mountain time (9pm Eastern) for radio discussions, both

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio.

Details on how to join us are at

http://www.ke0vh.com/net/net.html.

 

I hope

You will be able to join us and share your engineering and

Ham exploits!

73’ from “the Shack” & God Be With You!

The KE0VH Hamshack for December 2018

Well November was really busy all the way around for me with travel, new puppies at home, getting back into DMR radio, still with AllStar ham radio connections, 3 new rigs, and more to write about here at the end of 2018 than I expected.  Still keeping up on Flight Simulator stuff as I can, AND I did live shows on WFLI “The Big Jet Fli” in Chattanooga Tennessee during my visit to the scenic city in the month.  That was a HUGE highlight for me and a literal adult dream come true!  And thanks to John Bisset of TelosAlliance for publishing my article about my home made tilt over mast mount in one of the issues of RadioWorld Magazine.  You can see that here online if you haven’t yet:

https://www.radioworld.com/columns-and-views/build-this-inexpensive-and-versatile-lazy-susan-mast-mount

 

There are two new rigs now in the KEØVH fleet of radios, I wrote about the Yaesu FTM-100 and 400 in last month’s article, along with the Zumspot hotspot that does DMR, D-Star, Yaesu Fusion C4FM, and has the bridge from Fusion to DMR ability.  That is what I am mainly using with those radios (along with analog to 449.450, my AllStar nodes and other repeaters of course) as the C4FM digital is really great too.  The crossover to DMR is done in the Zumspot and works extremely well.  SO when mobile, or in my office I can scan all the frequencies and modes I use with the FTM-100 and the same with the FTM-400 in the truck PLUS beacon my APRS location as KE0VH-2.

 

Honestly, I really like using the Zumspot even better than AllStar, and it will become my traveling radio companion both in the truck on work journeys and traveling around the country.  I use my TYT MD-380 handheld to access it and the Rocky Mountain Radio League KI0GO DMR Brandmeister repeater here in Denver.   The Zumspot is much smaller, no Linux software and its complications you have to deal with as it is easily accessible thru a Windows GUI.  EASY with its own WiFi to configure to whatever internet WiFi you happen to use in a hotel, (the AllStar Linux system IS NOT!) your cellphone hotspot or other, plus it is its own node radio with the raspberry PI-0 in a much smaller package.  There are ways to cross over from DMR to AllStar and more.  I will be exploring those possibilities and write about them in future articles.

The Zumspot on my simplex frequency of 446.075 MHz

The control head of the Yaesu FTM-100DR monitoring DMR Talk Group 310847 thru the YSF (Yaesu Fusion) to DMR settings in the Zumspot

During my recent trip to Chattanooga Tennessee while on the drive from the Nashville airport to Chattanooga I used the FTM-100 to beacon my APRS position as KE0VH-9, while using the MD-380 and the Zumspot accessing the internet thru my cell phone hotspot and using Brandmeister DMR TalkGroup 318047 setup in the Zumspot was able to talk to the guys back in Denver, Kenny in the Chattanooga area, and Shane KØSDT in Montana (he was using the same setup as me while on the road up there).  Communications were solid and worked better than expected really.  Then, when I got to my mom’s house in the Chattanooga area, I accessed the talkgroup utilizing her WiFi, and stayed in touch with above mentioned folks and more including Glen, WNØEHE in the Phoenix AZ area, and Joe W0TX in Denver on the Bransmeister DMR repeater.  I am SOLD!  And the funny thing is I had all but given up on DMR radio as the other repeaters in the area I had tried just didn’t seem to work that well.  The Rocky Mountain Radio League DMR repeater is really solid with a large coverage area, plus it just plain works.  The Rocky Mountain Ham group has a really great working system, but it doesn’t connect to the Brandmeister network so there isn’t country and worldwide coverage at this point.

BTW, these hotspots are ON SALE at Ham Radio Outlet during the Holiday Season.  HMMMMMMMM……………….

The documentation on the Zumspots is getting better on the ‘net, but if you get one and need some help drop me an email at ke0vh@outlook.com and I will be glad to talk you thru it quicker than trying to decipher some of the internet instructions.  We can set up a time and get on the phone.  Shane KØSDT helped me, I helped Cris W5WCA and Matt KEØLNU get theirs going.  Once you understand the setup then making adjustments and/or changing DMR TalkGroups will be easy depending on your situation and who you would like to communicate with.

For more on the Zumspot using the Pi-Star software see this website:

https://amateurradionotes.com/pi-star.htm

 

However, and this is important, when you buy the Zumspot you get both the radio and PI-0 with a mini SD card ALREADY LOADED with the PI-Star operating system!  So no flashing of a card and all that goes along with the setup on the webpage above.

Tell Clayton at Ham Radio Outlet DENVER I told you to call!  J

Understanding DMR can be complicated and not easy if you are a beginner.  I am still understanding more and more as time goes on.  Jerry Wanger at Connect Systems INC, manufacturer of some fine DMR rigs (I’ve owned one) put together this explanation and permitted me to include it in this month’s article.  Thanks Jerry!

Check out their line of amateur and professional products at:

http://www.connectsystems.com/

APPLICATION NOTE: UNDERSTANDING KEY PARAMETERS (of DMR)

General
There are only a few key parameters that needs to be understood if a DMR radios. The key parameters are as follows:

Frequency
Time Slot
Color Code
Tx Contact
Rx Group List
Radio ID/Digital ID
Frequency
Frequency is the part of the Electromagnetic Spectrum that you are licensed to operate your radio. Each country has their own government entity that grants a license for you to use a specific frequency or a range of frequencies. If you are a Ham, then you are allowed to use in the United States the frequencies shown below. There are also some frequencies above 1 GHz that amateurs are allowed to use but not shown here.

Frequency                              Generic name    Generic Band

1.800 MHz     to        2.000  MHz        160 Meter           HF
3.500 MHz     to        4.000  MHz           80 Meter           HF
7.000 MHz     to        7.300  MHz           40 Meter           HF
10.100 MHz     to      10.150 MHz           30 Meter           HF
14.000 MHz     to      14.350 MHz           20 Meter           HF
18.068 MHz     to      18.168 MHz           17 Meter           HF
21.000 MHz     to      21.450 MHz           15 Meter           HF
24.890 MHz     to      24.990 MHz           12 Meter           HF
28.000 MHz     to      29.700 MHz           10 Meter           HF
50.000 MHz     to      54.000 MHz             6 Meter          VHF
144.000 MHz     to    148.000 MHz             2 Meter          VHF
219.000 MHz     to    225.000 MHz        1.25 Meter         VHF
420.000 MHz     to    450.000 MHz           70 cm                UHF
902.000 MHz     to    928.000 MHz           33 cm                UHF

By common (gentleman’s) agreement, each band is subdivided with each sub band designated for certain functions.

Time Slot
A DMR radio is based on Time Division Multiple Access technology (TDMA). The DMR is designed as a two slot TDMA with each slot being 30 millisecond long. They are designated as Slot 1 and Slot 2.

The advantage of the DMR radio is the ability to have two voice channels in a 12.5 KHz wide band, lower power dissipation because the transmitter is only transmitting half the time, and no need for additional hardware to make a two channel repeater system.

It is best to visualize the two slots as two different frequencies. Therefore if you listen to a repeater, do not expect to hear both channels at the same time.

Color Code
The color code is a way of allowing multiple repeaters in a given area to share the same frequency without being keyed by the wrong radio. That does not mean that both repeaters can transmit at the same time without interfering with each other but it prevents multiple repeaters from being keyed by the same radio. A better approach would be to separate the repeaters by a large distance but that is not always possible.

Radio ID
Each radio is programmed with its own individual ID. For the Amateurs, the DMR Marc Group assigns the ID. For commercial users, the ID is assigned by the owner of the repeater. Connect Systems has a unique feature that allows the ID to be assigned on a per channel basis if desired. This allows the radio to be assigned the DMR Marc ID for the Ham channels and a different ID for the Commercial Radios. To apply for a DMR Marc ID, go to the following Internet address: http://dmr-marc.net/contact.html.

Tx Contact
The Tx Contact is what defines who you transmit to and who you receive from. The Tx Contact can take on three forms.

  1. Private Call
  2. Group Call
  3. All Call

Private calls allows you to transmit between two radios. To work both radios have to be set for the complementary private call number. That means Radio A has to have the Tx Contact set to Radio’s B ID number and Radio B has to have the Tx Contact set to Radio’s A ID number. A private call cannot be put in the Rx Group to allow you to monitor multiple private calls.

Group calls allows an individual radio to speak to multiple radios at the same time and can be put in the Rx Group list to allow you to monitor multiple groups at the same time. Note that you can only transmit to one Group per Channel so hearing the Group on the channel does not mean you can press the PTT and speak back to the person unless you change the channel. Group calls ignore the individual ID’s in each radio.

All Calls allow you to transmit to all radios on your repeater time slot and should not normally be used for amateur applications. An all call cannot be put in the Rx Group to allow you to monitor all calls. For that you need to use the Digital Monitor Mode.

 

Here are some examples of programming with the CSI software available for their radios.  FREE SOFTWARE by the way.

Thanks again to Jerry Wanger at Connect Systems INC for allowing me to share this information in the “Hamshack”!

 

Here is another find that I think you may enjoy.  In the September 2018 edition of the QST from the ARRL on page 58 at the bottom they wrote an article on the MFJ 1708 B RF Sense SDR Receiver TR Switch.  It will allow you to use an SDR receiver connected to your ham antenna’s on one connection while using your regular rig for transmit on the second connection using a RF sense switch to switch between the two.  If you remember back in May I wrote about a panadapter board for my Kenwood TS-2000.  See that at: http://www.ke0vh.com/hamshack/archives/TheKE0VHHamshack201805May.pdf

This eliminates the need for any board additions or rig modifications to give ANY RIG you want to use SDR receive capabilities!  WOW!  Wish I had known about this back when I was doing that project.  The MFJ unit is right at $100 so not that bad!  Think about it, now you can use ANY current or OLDER HF rig, even up to 440 and above.  And with the grounding of the SDR receive and switching out during transmit the SDR is protected.  I like the fact that it also has the TX indicator light on the front.

Yep, I may have to try this out.  I am using SDR Sharp with this SDR

  • RTL-SDR Blog R820T2 RTL2832U 1PPM TCXO SMA Software Defined Radio (Dongle Only) for about $21 on Amazon. It has a a 1 PPM temperature compensated oscillator (TCXO), SMA F connector, aluminum case with thermal pad for passive cooling, software activatable bias tee circuit.
  • Can tune from 500 kHz to 1.7 GHz and has up to 3.2 MHz (2.4 MHz stable) of instantaneous bandwidth. (HF reception below 24 MHz runs in direct sampling mode)

Well back to the Zumspot and how it works, here are some pics of me talking to Kenny K4KR in Chickamauga Georgia (SE of Chattanooga TN) and the display as he using DMR comes thru the system to my Zumspot then transmitted to the Yaesu FTM-100DR.

As these pictures show the ID of the ham you are contacting is shown and in the pic below the DMR Talkgroup is ID’d.

On my aforementioned trip to Chattanooga while using the FTM-100DR for APRS I used my TYT MD-380 and Zumspot for DMR mode communications and while in the rental car (and my worktruck) I use the USB port to run the Zumspot.  While at home, office or hotel room I have a USB PS wallwart that provides 5 volts at about an amp.  While away from AC power or having to be portable I use a USB battery charger that I carry with me.  The pictures below show me talking to Shane KØSDT while he was in Wyoming and I was in the Nashville airport.

I don’t know how long the Zumspot will run on that USB Charger device, but I talked to Shane for 20 minutes or so at the airport anyway without killing the battery.  More experimentation is needed to determine its runtime.  One website states:  Current needs peak at <400mA for the Pi 3 Model B and <300mA for the Pi Zero W with steady state being about 100ma less than peak.

Wow, bad day to be at a tower site! From the recent fires in LA/Thousand Oaks.

https://youtu.be/0CbWkfCA9tc

How’s this for a ground connection!?!?!?!?!?!? NO NO NO NOT on my watch!!!!  From a Facebook post! L

See past editions of the newsletter at:

                                                                    2 YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2016/12/

3 YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2015/12/   

4 YEARS AGO

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2014/12/  

 5 Years AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2013/12/

 6 Years AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2012/12/

 

                 Don’t forget the SBE Chapter 73’ Of the Air

AllStar (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

At 7pm Mountain time (9pm Eastern) for radio discussions, both

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio.

Details on how to join us are at 

http://www.ke0vh.com/net/net.html.

 

 I hope

You will be able to join us and share your engineering and

Ham exploits! 

73’ from “the Shack” & God Be With You!

The KE0VH Hamshack for November

November 2018                     

BUSY Fall SO FAR!  The weather turned wintry in Denver the week of October 8th!   An ice storm above 6500 feet, which of course effected Denver area broadcasters, then a 60 plus degree day, then a Sunday not out of the 20’s, then a week of clear sunny skies and 50’s to 60’s.  I LOVE COLORADO on the front range!

Now for the Monday Night SBE Chapter 73’ Of The Air, we are on the web with the live stream of the Rocky Mountain Radio League repeaters at: https://www.broadcastify.com/listen/feed/25448/web. If you can’t check into the NET please listen in there and then email me that you are listening over the internet, and I will count that as a check in!

Details on how to join us on the NET are at 

http://www.ke0vh.com/net/net.html.

As many may or may not know, I am doing a radio show on WFLI Chattanooga Tennessee as they have gone back to their 60’s and 70’s Top 40 roots.  I am loving doing it for fun as an almost screaming Top 40 DJ really up tempo delivery like back in the day.  I’m on from 10-1a Eastern, 8-11 mountain with the same kind of fun we had back then!  With the setup in the Hamshack voice tracking is easy and pretty quick.  I was asked to show how I am doing it.  I get the logs from the FLI guys, then cold track them as the automation system they have at this time doesn’t have remote tracking capability.  I remember the music and can even preview a song thru my collection or hear it off YouTube these days J.

I am using Audacity as the recorder, Radio DJ for playing bits and drops, and the 3rd computer on the left for internet information and such.  A pretty functional radio studio as well as hamshack and flight simulator setup!  See this edition for the Flight Sim Setup:  http://www.ke0vh.com/hamshack/archives/TheKE0VHHamshack201804April.pdf .

The voicetracking setup with the Heil Classic Pro microphone, Radio DJ computer using the “Instant Player” feature for playing drops and bits, essentially as a “cart” machine!

The log for the midnight hour and a voice track below in Audacity

Check it out the station when you can at:

www.WFLIOnline.com

And this is really cool!  The week of 11/14-17 I will be doing my show live from the WFLI control room in Chattanooga as I am taking time to visit my mom in the area and stopping in to have some fun ON AIR LIVE! 

Now the cool thing about this is that this is the very first Control Room I EVER WORKED in radio!  The station itself is largely unchanged over the years, and so it will be very nostalgic and fun!  I will post pictures here in a newsletter article soon, and even a video aircheck on my YouTube channel (I hope!)

MANY MANY things are going on in amateur radio in the KEØVH base and mobile hamshacks.  I am back into operating some DMR with the addition of the Zumspot DMR Hotspot.  Lots of activity with these very small and compact, plus easy to operate units when you can’t hit a DMR repeater or you are mobile using the hotspot thru the cell phone hotspots.

It sounds a bit complicated but really isn’t.  The little Zumspot is available thru HRO, and of course it isn’t the only offering available.  DMR to me had been troublesome and not really very effective with operating around Denver, with the exception of the RMHam (Rocky Mountain Ham) groups linked repeater systems around the state, but they are not hooked into the Brandmeister world wide networks to facilitate for instance talking to Kenny K4KR in the Chattanooga Tennessee area.

SO with the sale of several pieces of gear and a couple of radios, I was able to get some new gear for the KEØVH Mobile hamshack.  The first is the Yaesu FTM-400 true dual band Yaesu Fusion rig with built in GPS and APRS.  I absolutely love this radio with the 3.5 inch touch screen.  Menus are easy to navigate, something I have found that almost all Yaesu radios have in common.  50 watts out makes it a mobile with punch on both UHF and VHF.  APRS is fully operational in one band while monitoring on another frequency on the other.  This includes the digital Fusion C4FM system that is operational in many repeaters around the country.  You can also do DMR with this rig and a hotspot that translates the Fusion system to DMR.  With the screen size too it makes viewing during mobile operation really easy.  There are so many features available with this rig you need to check it out for yourself.  The faceplate is totally mountable to your dash in many configurations, or however you may want to do so.  It comes with a separation cable I have mounted my radio under the seat with the control head on a dash mount easily viewable.  The microphone plugs into the main radio, and not the control head, so that was one possible negative as you don’t have a lot of standard cable length to play with.  However, you may obtain a Yaesu factory microphone extension, but it is kind of pricey.  HRO actually has an aftermarket extension cable that they offer for much much less.  I bought one of these and am really pleased with the length and quality.  Works great in my installation.

The FTM-400 control head with dual band display.

As you see in the picture above, another great feature not selected here is a bandscope.  The radio will also with its onboard GPS will display altitude, number of GPS satellites in view, and more.

The APRS function of this radio being built in is surely a really big deal.  It will also display the information, distance to, and direction from the station being received.

HEY! It’s my buddy Robert KC8GPD with a status beacon just sent

A shot of the screen with me talking to Kenny K4KR using the radios Yaesu Fusion to DMR function of my hotspot utilizing simplex 446.075  & digital mode. More on that later!

AND, although there is a normally hefty price tag for this radio, Ham Radio Outlet has it on sale thru the beginning of the year that you simply must check out!

And, I decided to go ahead and get a companion backup rig to the 400, the Yaesu FTM-100, also on sale at HRO.  This radio is a perfect backup and addition to have in the office, and for utility carry around use.  I am actually taking this radio with me on my above mentioned trip to Chattanooga for APRS, beaconing as KE0VH-9, (look for it 11/14 thru 18) Fusion to DMR use with the hotspot (still to come in this article) and for talking on the analog AllStar W4YI repeater in Chattanooga to tie into K1DUN 449.450 in Denver.  This is going to be a fun trip with this radio along in the rental car!

The FTM-100 DR/DE front panel

This radio does basically all the 400 does except isn’t a “true” dual bander, doing only one function and band at a time, with the exception of being able to “Dual Watch”, listening on one frequency and frequently sampling another for a signal.  And, one more limitation, while beaconing APRS, you must manually turn off the APRS modem in a menu, otherwise a beacon could be sent out on the repeater frequency you are talking on.  All the menu functions of the 100 are essentially the same as the 400, without the touch screen.  Easy to get up and operating from the unboxing though.   By the way, this radio and the FTM-400 also include the Yaesu programming cable, and a separation cable for control face units.  The other difference here too is that the FTM-100 faceplate will attach to the radio unit making a single unit radio.  The FTM-400 faceplate control head does not.  It must be used separately.  They both come with control unit mounting brackets and mobile mounting brackets.

I hope that one day in a future firmware version you could program one of the Yaesu microphone buttons to turn the modem on and off.  Good idea for this radio huh?

SO finally, information on the Zumspot hotspot that I have been using with these radios and my TYT MD-380 DMR handheld.  My buddy and colleague Shane KØSDT turned me on to this really cool little unit that runs off USB power.  A wall wart power supply runs mine while in the shack or at home, and mine has a USB socket on it, so I can plug in the USB cable to a USB Battery charge, or a vehicle USB port.  The hotspot will allow you to setup your own simplex or duplex “repeater” on whatever UHF frequency you choose.  I am using a standard UHF simplex repeater frequency of 446.075.  This device will do DMR, D-Star, Yaesu Fusion, Yasue Fusion to DMR crossover mode, PX-25, and a couple of other modes I had never even heard of.   When you power up the unit for the first time, it will send out its own Wi-Fi signal that will allow you to connect to it and begin programming it for how you want it configured.  Then as with most Wi-Fi devices you can store different Wi-Fi connections in the unit so that it will automatically logon to the Wi-Fi at hand.  I have several set in mine, home, office, & cell phone hotspot at this time.  When in a new location it is easy again to get on for instance a hotel or airport Wi-Fi by simply using its on board Wi-Fi to access all configuration functions.  I am really pleased with this unit as well, and being that I had practically given up on DMR because of signal and data issues to many DMR repeaters, this has made me enthusiastic about being able to keep in touch with DMR advances in communications.

My Zumspot hotspot dashboard showing several stations that I talked to via the radio interface.  Kenny K4KR in Chattanooga TN, Shane KØSDT while in Kalispell Montana, and Glenn WN0EHE in the Phoenix Arizona area.

The unit is super compact.  Only 2.75×1.5×1 inch in size.  Note its little antenna.

The hotspot comes with the Zumspot board, a Raspberry Pi-0 board and the antenna.  The operating system and software for Pi-Star is included on a SD-Mini card that comes with the set.  The case you see it in above is extra, but really protects the two boards and is worth the extra $10 or so.  There is also as seen on the right hand side LED indicators for power, mode, receive status, and other functions.  If you would like more information, send me an email, and again these are available thru Ham Radio Outlet.  And of course there are many other hotspot systems in use and for sale you can find on the internet.  But for the price, the versatility, and the modes and ease of use available thru this unit I really like it and really look forward to using this a lot.

My good friend Matt KEØLNU and I got together on a Saturday recently and I rode the motorcycle on a beautiful Saturday to help him tune up his Alpha Delta DX-LP multiband 160 thru 10 dipole.  And of course I got to see his really nicely apportioned shack.  Tuning the antenna with the Sark 110 antenna analyzer went smoothly, and so now since Matt has upgraded to General Class and JUST barely missed the Extra exam, he is going to have a great time operating HF from his awesome home in the mountains NW of Golden Colorado!

The operating position for KEØLNU with the TS-2000. MFJ autotuner, and Heil Microphone!  It really sounds and looks GREAT!

KEØVH looking at the antenna measurements for the KEØLNU antenna via the Sark Plots software

Hey congrats to Harold W6IWI on his find at a local hamfest recently!  A Dentron Clipperton L Linear!

Harold had to replace a couple of resistors and caps, but now all is fine! 

So, I have had an old Alinco DR-570 working well dual band rig but the little incandescent light bulbs behind the display had quit working with age.  So I ordered some LED’s and lo and behold, it lit up beautifully!  Then I thought, well why not do the same with the backlighting on the buttons on the front?  Well the first one went great and the FUNCTION button lit up all pretty! Then on to the next one under the ABX button.  Should have stopped with the screen.  Did something, now the LCD display is all lit up but no numbers or indicators.  Perfectly operating true dual band rig with crossband repeat capability.  Now you just can’t tell what frequency you are on.  Robert KC8GPD decided to take on trying to repair this as I ran out of time.  A new display from a dead radio might do the trick.  So if you know of one…………

AND, seen on the Netflix show “Designated Survivor”.   Just happened to catch this in a scene from that (in my opinion) EXCELLENT SERIES!  Looks like a Baofeng to me, but can’t quite make it out.  Inexpensive prop probably huh?

 

A great article on setting up a node radio for AllStar!  Simply and inexpensively!

http://crompton.com/hamradio/baofeng888/     

 

What would happen if a DJi Drone hit a general aviation aircraft?

See it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QH0V7kp-xg0&feature=youtu.be

 

Flying a drone, please do it legally and check for TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction) areas.  THIS APPLIES TO EVERYONE.  You may be being watched as YOU watch:

https://www.krqe.com/news/balloon-fiesta/hundreds-violate-faa-s-no-drone-fly-zone-at-balloon-fiesta/1510662538

See past editions of the newsletter at:

                                                                    

                                                                     2 YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2016/08/

 

3 YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2015/08/   

 

4 YEARS AGO

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2014/08/  

 

5 Years AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2013/08/

 

6 Years AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2012/08/

 

                                            Don’t forget the SBE Chapter 73’ Of the Air

AllStar (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

At 7pm Mountain time (9pm Eastern) for radio discussions, both

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio.

Details on how to join us are at 

http://www.ke0vh.com/net/net.html.

 

 I hope

You will be able to join us and share your engineering and

Ham exploits!

 

73’ from “the Shack” & God Be With You!

Clay’s Corner for October 2018

Clay’s Corner for October 2018

Clay’s Corner

Providing news and views from a broadcast engineers perspective since September 1986

As I write this, in late September, our weather is pretty much back to normal. Much cooler temperatures, showers and breezes, noticeably shorter days and fall colors starting to show.  This past summer was indeed very dry in this area.  In fact we set a record for the driest May through August with just 1 inch of rain.  (Compare that to other places.)  Perhaps the smokiest (is that spelled right?) too with several weeks of breathing the output of BC forest fires.  The fact is, we went almost 3 months without clean air – violating federal smog standards for 87 consecutive days.  The low amount of precip took its toll on many trees.  You can see many of our evergreens that have been killed in the process.  Perhaps proving to some that it does not rain here all the time?

Other regions had their own issues – – California experienced terrible wildfires that will take years to heal.  This picture speaks volumes.  (Note the lights of an on-coming train coming around the curve.)

Hurricane Florence has made a mess of the things on the other coast with epic amounts of rainfall and flooding, power outages and, of course, failures of services and systems we depend on…Radio and TV Stations, Cable TV and Cellular telephone systems.

 

As we move into October, those of us that travel into the mountains of Western Washington are reminded that the ‘Windy Season’ is here.  The big historic October blow took place on Columbus Day in 1962…hopefully this year we won’t have any big storms to deal with.

A friend in Southern California sent me this picture of what it’s like to be heading to the transmitter site, after a wind storm, and finding a tree across the road.

I recall, a few years ago, after a big ‘Blow’ we had about 30 of these down across the road to West Tiger.  It took 3 of us a day just to get the road open.  Yes, I carry a chain saw, as do others that have to go up there this time of year.  Here’s Paul Carvalho, Chief at Bonneville/Seattle, getting in some practice at the KIRO-AM transmitter site on Vashon.

Perhaps by the time you read this, the EAS National Test, on Oct. 3rd, will have come and gone…The first scheduled date was scrubbed due to Florence.  This year’s test is the first one for both EAS and WEA alerting systems.  Will be interesting in how it turns out.  To find out, all EAS Participants are required to file an electronic report.  One wrinkle involved a great bit of Federal timing – EAS Participants had to update security certificates to all their EAS equipment shortly before the big test.  My guess is that some will not do this, meaning that their equipment won’t decode the test message.

On the topic of EAS – We have a committee of folks working on the revision and update of the Washington State EAS Plan – Several are broadcasters from this area.  The major reason for this is to bring our plan into full compliance with the most recent FCC EAS Report and Order.  If you would like to be a part of this process, please let me know.

In August we lost another whose name continues on today.  Jack Moseley passed.  Jack sold the company that we all know, back in 1977.  He was 91.  Could not help but note that his Obit mentioned that he enjoyed HAM Radio, like so many other pioneers in this industry.

It’s long been known that you could easily purchase two-way radios….for very low prices….at a number of on-line locations.  The FCC posted this item the last week in September –

  • TWO-WAY VHF/UHF RADIOS MAY NOT BE IMPORTED, ADVERTISED, OR SOLD IN THE UNITED STATES UNLESS THEY COMPLY WITH THE COMMISSION’S RULES.  Advises retailers and operators that VHF/UHF two-way radios must comply with FCC technical requirements before they may be marketed, imported or operated.  By Advisory. (DA No. 18-980). News Media Contact: Will Wiquist at (202) 418-0509, email: Wiquist@fcc.gov. EB. Contact: Jonathan Garvin at (202) 418-1130, email: Jonathan.Garvin@fcc.gov DA-18-980A1.doc  DA-18-980A1.pdf  DA-18-980A1.txt

 

I could not help but note a recent story written about legendary Seattle Top-40 DJ, Pat O’Day.  In the piece I learned that his dad was a preacher in a Tacoma Church and had a radio ministry on KMO, the station I was associated with from 1966 to 1985.  It would be interesting to know just how many people, whose names we would recognize, were associated with that station.  The piece also mentioned the Spanish Castle, one of Pat’s concert venues during the 60’s.  This was a big dance hall on the NW corner of Kent-Des Moines road and Pacific Highway.  Another path crossing, as I remember playing in a band there…way back when.

In the category of – it was bound to happen – an AM Radio station gets an FM Translator and then asks the FCC if they can turn off their AM.  The FM Translator deal was the FCC’s plan for helping struggling AM stations.  The most recent instance involves KVSL in Show Low, Arizona who proposed to do just that.  They did not propose to turn in their AM license, just turn off their AM ‘from time to time’.  In the end, the FCC said no to the proposa,l saying that it was at odds with their intended goals of AM Revitalization.  The rules are pretty simple – The FM is a translator, and like all translators, operate when the parent station is on the air.  I suspect that other AM radio broadcasters were watching this with a great deal of interest, especially an AM that has relatively poor facilities, or where they could sell the land where their AM tower is located and continue to operate their FM translator.

On the subject of Translators, did you see where a pair of FM translators in the Chicago area recently sold for 3.5 Million?  Wow!  It would not surprise me that in some circumstances the value of an FM Translator could exceed the value of a parent station, especially if that station was a small signal, or daytime only AM.

There are some job openings for Radio Techs in the New York City area that are having issues being filled.  The reason.. the cost of living in the Big Apple.  A similar situation is taking place here in the Seattle area.  Bottom line – Wages for technical workers in Broadcasting have not kept pace with those that do similar work in other technical industries.  Couple this with the number of people who are retiring or passing away…and you have a recipe for some, perhaps painful, adjustments to come for the broadcast industry.

Here’s a look at one of the openings in NYC, in this case, with EMF, that provides an interesting look at what people who do what I do are expected to know how to do (Love that sentence).

Responsibilities
As a Field Engineer, here’s what you will be doing…
•    Evaluate the overall technical operation of facilities within the New York area, and take corrective action as needed, to ensure equipment is functioning.
•    Install, maintain, and repair broadcast equipment (such as audio processors and mixers).
•    Install and maintain microwave and satellite equipment.
•    Regularly operate equipment that regulates the signal strength, clarity, and sound.
•    Maintain knowledge of applicable FCC rules and regulations and ensure all equipment within area of responsibility is operating safely and legally.
•    Analyze and fix technical faults on equipment and systems to the module level.
•    Manage and partner with contract engineers to resolve technical problems.
•    Occasionally, carry out work on non-broadcast equipment (such as electrical generators, air conditioning units, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, etc.) as conditions dictate.
•    Make trips to sites to perform installations or repairs; and EMF headquarters for training or special projects.  The length of these trips varies depending on the specific needs.
•    If assigned, serve as Chief Operator/Engineer for one or more broadcast station(s).

Qualifications
To qualify for this position, here’s what you’ll need….
•    5+ years experience troubleshooting and repairing radio broadcast electronic equipment
•    Good understanding of the components necessary in a broadcast air-chain
•    Understanding of satellite technology
•    Understanding of radio frequency emissions
•    Ability to solder and de-solder electronic components
•    Knowledge of applicable, broadcast-related FCC rules and regulations
•    Proficiency using standard broadcast test equipment, such as VOMs, oscilloscopes, and RF spectrum analyzers.
•    Being highly organized, detail oriented and thorough as very strong skills/traits
•    Personal, relational, friendly
•    SBE Certification highly desirable
•    Candidates currently residing in Central New York preferred

Employment Requirements
•    Must pass a pre-employment background & reference check.
•    Must provide proof of legal authorization to work in the US.
•    Must have a valid driver’s license and an acceptable motor vehicle report.

According to Pew Research –
The audience for nearly every major sector of U.S. news media decreased in 2017. The sole medium that did not experience a decrease was radio. In Pew Research’s “State of the News Media 2017” the fact tank found that while local and network TV, digital-native news sites and daily newspapers saw their audience shrink last year, radio remained steady.
Citing Nielsen data, Pew notes that the overall audience reach for broadcast radio – which includes all formats, not just news – has been at around 90% for the past nine years. Local and network TV news declined 7%, while cable news fell 12%, according to comScore TV Essentials and StationView Essentials data. The audiences for digital-native news sites fell by 5% in terms of monthly unique visitors in 2017, comScore Media Metrix Multi-platform data shows. The biggest loss of audience was the circulation of U.S. daily newspapers, which fell by 11% last year, according to the Alliance for Audited Media (AAM).

Certainly a finding that should make those that own and operate radio stations quite pleased.

News circulated this past month that there were plans to shut down legacy radio signals from WWV and WWVH due to budget  cuts.  Just think – That Atomic Clock you have would be ‘free to roam’.   For more information – Check out –

http://www.arrl.org/news/nist-fy-2019-budget-would-eliminate-wwv-and-wwvh

There is a  petition to request that funding be maintained

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/maintain-funding-nist-stations-wwv-wwvh

As we all know, newspapers are failing at an alarming rate.  Pittsburgh is about to have the distinction of being the largest city in the U.S. without a daily print newspaper, as the city’s Post-Gazette recently announced they will no longer be producing a weekend paper.  This paper began publication 232 years ago.  They did add that they will be publishing a digital edition 7 days a week…..Times do change.  You do remember holding a Seattle PI don’t you?

I recently ran across a piece titled –
“24 things that are considered ‘normal’ in the US but the rest of the world finds weird.”

One of the items has bugged me for a long time – Why do people in the U.S. use the term ‘American’ as if that were an exclusive term, or think that United States and American are interchangeable terms?  The rest of the world finds this weird.  After all, the U.S. is just one country in the Americas.  In my way of thinking Canadians are American’s too.  Most folks from other countries refer to the U.S. as ‘The States’.

Sirius XM Radio says it is buying Pandora in a stock deal valued at $3.5 billion, according to the Associated Press.  The satcaster says buying the pureplay webcaster will allow it to expand its service beyond cars and into homes and other mobile areas.

The after-effects of the Sinclair/Tribune deal continue to simmer.  Perhaps good news, the Inspector General concluded that the FCC didn’t show favoritism in their decision making process.  Now the two parties, that thought they’d have an approved deal are suing each other.  I’ve heard nothing as to the ownership status of the Tribune stations, other than that others are looking at them.
Around here we don’t get a lot of days with blue skies and white puffy clouds.  As I was driving into the KVTI transmitter site recently – I saw this –

No, it’s not your imagination.  The amount of spam phone calls is getting worse.

According to new data from First Orion, a call protection company, the amount of junk calls will reach 46% by mid-year 2019.  And by the end of that year, the amount is projected to finally cross the halfway point, meaning that half of all calls will be spam.

Collecting data from 50 billion calls over the past 18 months, the company was able to shed light on a phenomenon that many people have noticed and lamented: a severe uptick in calls, many of which use “neighborhood spoofing” techniques to entice people to pick up by having a fake caller ID that resembles the caller’s number.

The numbers weren’t nearly this high even a year ago.  In 2017, mobile call scams made up just 3.7% of total call volume.  By 2018, the number had shot up to 29.2% and projections for spam calls look on track to hit half of all call volume next year.

I had a recent experience that was ‘interesting’.  I was driving along when my cellphone rang and my truck’s ‘radio’ announced I was being called by Clay Freinwald.  Knowing that I rarely call myself I instantly knew it was a Robo-Call.  What was interesting was the displayed phone number – 000 000 0000.   Apparently they are able to not only spoof the phone number they are calling from, but they are able to gain access to your address book in your phone and use one of those names to make you think you are receiving a call from someone you know.  Perhaps the good news is that my home phone now rarely gets a Robo-Call as the scammers have shifted their attention to mobile devices.  Despite all the efforts of the FCC, FTC and others…they have done little to stamp out the practice.  Perhaps the sad part is that the fuel that keeps these outfits going is victims that fall for their baloney.  If everyone just hung up they would all go away.  A sad commentary.

Did you see the story about the big transformer that was being moved through Washington?  The media picked up the story about this big piece of electrical equipment and promptly called it a ‘Windmill’ transformer.  I recall having been sternly corrected a few years ago when I called those big machines ‘Windmills’….and being educated to the fact that they don’t mill anything.  They are to be called WIND-GENERATORS.  It was truly a big one – weighing just over 1-million pounds.

KRKO in Everett has been trying to sell their old transmitter site, hoping that some Ham Operator would want the place.  Comes complete with towers and a pretty good sized building…Check out –
https://www.redfin.com/WA/Everett/7115-Larimer-Rd-98208/home/145977378

In a similar category – the 1210 AM transmitter site, east of Auburn, that’s been used for many years as the 1210 ‘Night Site’ is going away.  The owner of the station, Amador Bustos, has received a construction permit to operate Nights at the 1210 Day Site on the west-side of Auburn, with much lower power.  The property owner has put the land on the market (minus the towers that have to be removed).  I was looking through the files on that site and found a purchase order I had signed for those 4 towers back in 1989!  The 10 kW transmitter from that site will be moving to Woodburn, Oregon.  Another example of the retraction of AM radio.

Looks likes Seattle is no longer the nation’s hottest housing market – We’ve been replaced by Las Vegas.  Apparently the folks at the King County Assessor’s office are not moved by this news as my ‘Value Notice’ showed my house value increase by about 5%…In a while I will find out what the 5% means in terms of actual tax increases.  I should add that I live in Auburn, not Seattle.

With that being said – the typical single family home in Vegas goes for just under $300K, while Seattle is at over $800K.

While stopped for my favorite beverage recently I could not help but notice this license plate:

I asked the driver if this was a radio station.  He said no, it was just assigned to him.  The following explains –
https://www.oregonlive.com/cycling/index.ssf/2013/04/share_the_road_license_plates.html
https://bikeportland.org/2007/12/18/first-look-at-oregons-new-share-the-road-license-plate-6216

Just for drill – I looked up KPEB in the FCC Data Base and could not find a station with those letters.

Radio transmitter manufacturer Nautel seems to be doing well of late with the sale of two more FM transmitters for use on Cougar Mt.  Hubbard is getting a new GV10 for use as an Auxiliary for their 98.9 station (The Bull) and Crista is getting a new GV30 for their KCMS/105.3.  The only recent sale for GatesAir (that I am aware of) in this area has been to KNHC (I wrote about that recently).  GatesAir may have an edge over Nautel with their offering of Liquid Cooled FM transmitters.  Liquid cooling has been S.O.P. for TV Transmitters for years.  Thus far I’ve not heard of anyone buying one in this area, however.  Nautel is a Canadian company based in Nova Scotia.  GatesAir is in Illinois.

It’s been a year since Hurricanes Irma and Maria blew into Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, and there are still Radio and TV Stations that have not fully restored operations.  To be exact – The FCC  reports 10 AM stations, 8 FMs and 3 FM translators are currently silent.  That’s in addition to 11 full-power TV stations, 35 low-power TV stations and 3 TV translators.

Another country says goodbye to analog (or in their case, analogue) TV – This time it’s Ukraine.  One exception is the area’s bordering Russia.

Responses to what I have written

I recently posted a picture of a pickup truck tailgate that had a big RAM on the back suggesting it might be taken as an invitation to do just that.  A reader of this column reminded me that those vehicles say DODGE in the front.

Then there was the piece about the FCC Chairman climbing a tower.  A reader suggested that this was ‘Pai in the Sky’.

In response to my list of paraprosdokians, a reader suggested this one – ‘Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like an banana’.

And from John Schneider, who was active in the Seattle SBE Chapter when I started writing this thing – “Glad to see you are still doing your column, after all these years.  Who knew it would last so long when we started?“

I found this survey info to be quite interesting –

According to the 2018 Infinite Dial, 82% of respondents 18+ who have driven or ridden in a car over the past month currently tune into traditional radio in the car.  Likewise, the audio source used most often in-car is radio, at 56%.  Next in line among chosen     audio choices is a CD player, at 49%, then owned digital music (45%), online radio (28%), podcasts (23%) and satellite radio (21%).

Jacobs Media’s 2018 Techsurvey showed FM radio to be the No. 1 feature radio listeners want included in their next car purchase.
My question – Why is it that many vehicle makers want to remove the CD Player from new vehicle radios?

I often write about the radio ratings in Seattle.  This time, a look at the numbers in our neighbor to the south – Portland, Oregon.   First some market stats – Population 2.54 Million (Seattle is now just under 4 million) Market Rank – 22 (Seattle is 13).

  • The #1 Station is KOPB – Oregon Public Radio with an impressive 8.1
  • AM is not doing very well there either with the top rated station (KEX) at #18
  • Like Seattle, there are 3 Sports/Talk stations – All AM’s and 2 Country FM’s

If you recall my last column I wrote about how KNKX’s HD2 actually gathered some ratings with a minimal .1 share.  Portland is, apparently ahead of Seattle in terms of HD Channels getting ratings with THREE HD-2’s and HD-3’s showing…Each with a .8 and one with a .1.  Also ahead of Seattle is the KOPB Stream showing up with a .4.  I don’t know of any Seattle radio stream that has listed ratings.  One more thing.  Remember the call letters KMTT?  Long time letters for Entercom’s 103.7 in Seattle.  They are now ‘parked’ on an Entercom AM in Portland.

Interested in combining your IT skills with Broadcasting?

Entercom Communications is seeking an IT Manager for both Seattle and Portland Radio Markets.  The position allows living in either city.  The position requires a minimum of 3 years of experience and a strong understanding of Local Area Networking, Microsoft Outlook email administration, experience with MacOS, server maintenance and disaster recovery, Windows Server 2012, and teleconferencing and A/V systems.  For more information, go to https://entercom.avature.net/careers/JobDetail/IT-Manager-Portland-Seattle/13387

The following item was submitted by now retired NWS WCM from Seattle Ted Buehner

What’s the Forecast At My Transmitter Site?

Have you asked that question?  What source do you use to address that question?  Your smart phone weather app? A website? Your weather radio?

Some years ago, I pointed your Corner host Clay Freinwald to the site-specific National Weather Service (NWS) digital weather forecast to answer this question and he has used it ever since.  If you go to your local NWS forecast office website, you will find what Clay is using.  You can also find it on your smart phone by going to mobile.weather.gov, a mobile phone website application that you bookmark.

By using your local NWS forecast office digital weather forecast information, you get forecast information from experienced and local forecasters who live and work in your area.  Other sources like your phone weather app or other websites come from other parts of the country or in one phone app case – Russia!  Many of these resources use purely automated computer forecast output with no human input at all.  This fact helps explain why those weather forecasts ‘seem to be off’ at times.

Clay services many mountain top transmitter sites across mainly Western Washington.  One frequent site for him is West Tiger Mt. – about 20 miles east of Seattle.  The site has elevation of a little over 2500 feet with a great view of Mt. Rainier to the south. [plug in one of your Rainier photos]  So the weather at that higher elevation location is much different than in the lowlands near Puget Sound.

Over the years, Clay learned that the weather around Western Washington differs greatly from one location to another, thanks to the combination of complex terrain and the weather.  Knowing what weather to expect before ever heading to that targeted transmitter site is very important.  For example during the winter season, it can be raining in the Puget Sound area while snowing up at West Tiger.

What does he use again?  He visits http://www.weather.gov/seattle/ and has bookmarked his usual mountain top transmitter site-specific forecast locations for easy access before ever stepping into his vehicle.  It is the old slogan – know before you go, that has served him well over time.  If the weather at the site is going to be inclement, he is prepared for it.  And there have been times when it is snowing at the site, that he postpones that routine maintenance until the weather there improves.

Here is an example of his West Tiger MT 7-day weather forecast off the www.weather.gov/seattle/ web site.  In this particular case, wildfire smoke was widespread throughout much of the region.

But as they say in some television commercials, there’s more!  Upon scrolling down a bit on the page, you get the hourly forecast for that same green box (about one nm x one nm) location.

Yes, that is a hourly forecast for temperatures, wind direction and speed, cloud cover, rain or snow amounts and more!

Has this information sparked your interest?  Can you get the same kind of weather forecast information where you work?  Yes, you can!  There are 122 NWS forecast offices across the country with at least one serving your area.

Start by visiting www.weather.gov to view the whole nation and then click on your neck of the woods – that click will get you to your local forecast office – bookmark that.  Then using the provided clickable forecast map, click on the spot for your transmitter site.  The next page to appear will provide a map with a green box on it – you can zoom in and click one more time if you need to ‘fine-tune’ the location.  Now you have the forecast for that transmitter site.  Scroll down and you can get the hourly forecast for that location as well.  You can bookmark both of these.

 

This process can be done for all your transmitter sites as well as any other desired locations for business or pleasure.  I hope you find this information quite helpful.  As always, when you are weather aware, you are weather prepared.

If you have other weather-related questions that you would like addressed, let Clay know and he will share with me.

Ted Buehner
Meteorologist
Retired – National Weather Service
Washington SECC Vice-Chair

If you are like me, you are always pleased when someone you know wins an award.  In this case…I want to congratulate Jeff Welton of Nautel on being named SBE Educator of the year.  I’ve known Jeff for many years.  Our first encounter was by telephone, dealing with an issue with an AM transmitter close to 30 years ago.  At that time, he was a customer service tech with the firm.  Later he moved into sales, becoming central U.S. sales manager, but, along the way, has made it a point to reach out and teach others about how to do it better at their transmitter plants.  I was chatting with Jeff most recently and he was telling me about a day-long technical session he was involved with in the U.P. of Michigan.  They had a great turn-out with engineers that are unlikely to go to the NAB show in the spring.  The subject matter was broad ranging and I could tell that he was abundantly pleased that he could share some of his knowledge with those that are unlikely to gain it any other way.  Those of you that know Jeff will agree that SBE is honoring a person who richly deserves it.

Really….Is it that time already?  I recently received word that the 2019 NAB Show hotel block is now open.  Prices in their promotional piece range from $257 at the Aria Resort and Casino to $190 at the Westgate (formally the Hilton, next to the Convention Center) to $119 at Harrahs,  Of course, the further you go from the Contention Center the lower the price.

Tim Moore, Transmitter Engineer for Sinclair in Seattle found a file folder full of wonderful historic pictures of KOMO Radio and TV.   See it here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShToFTzMNTY

I’ve written about Smart Speakers quite a bit for the simple reason that they might be the only radio in a person’s home these days.  I know that this is the case with a young relative of mine.  So here are some of the latest news items in that world –

  • Ownership of these gizmos is rapidly growing – Now some 32% of consumers own one.  (Would be interesting to compare that growth curve to other consumer electric devices from the past)
  • Recent projections show that 48% of U.S. consumers will own one by the end of this year.
  • And as if this were not enough – 45% of consumers who presently own one, plan to buy another by the end of the year.
  • So what are people using them for?

Music – 70%
Weather forecast – 64% (So much for NOAA Weather Radio)
Fun questions – 53%
Online searches – 47%
Checking the news – 46%
Making a call – 36%
Research or information searches – 35%
Asking directions – 34%
Ordering items – 30%

  • How many people who have one are actually using them?

Using it more – 76%
Using it daily – 71%
More than once a day – 44%

Amazon, our locally based giant – is fully on board with all of this with their Echo products with a recent release of a number of new products – including items for when you are on the go, in a vehicle.

I did have an interesting thought or two about all of this –

  • What happens if you already have a person in your home named Alexa?
  • Wonder how many children will end up with that name?

I love this quote –

Susie Dent – ‘The joy of dictionaries is that they provide you with dozens of answers you were never looking for’.

Here are some words to ponder –
confelicity – The joy you experience when witnessing someone else’s happiness; the near opposite of Schadenfreude
scurryfunging – Term that describes the frantic rushing around the house we perform in a crazed effort to tidy up before guests arrive
absquatulate – To leave somewhere abruptly
clinomania – The overwhelming desire to lie down
mumpsimus – Someone who rigidly sticks to their opinions despite being proved wrong
quiddle – to waste time on trivial matters in order to avoid doing more important things.

Which aptly describes what we have just done

That’s it for this month….My brain has gone from empty to something more extreme.

Lord willing – I’ll have another installment next month in most of these same locations.

In the meantime – Your comments and pictures are always appreciated.

Don’t forget to Fall-Back.

Clay, K7CR, CPBE
SBE Member for over 50 years, #714

 

 

 

 

 

The KE0VH Hamshack for October

October 2018

 

Welcome to Fall!  To start off with, I want to congratulate Matt KEØLNU for his BEAUTIFUL blue LED display Kenwood TS-2000, which he bought from a ham in Louisiana from the QTH.com classifieds section

REALLY GREAT LOOKING SCREEN!  I may do this myself for mine!

There was a lot of work done on the KEØVH QTH the past couple of months, we had new windows, siding, and a roof installed.  Then I had to paint the exterior with 2 coats, BEFORE the work on antenna’s and upgrading some of the hamshack ops were done.  Looks beautiful and ready for winter!

So with that, one beautiful late day in September, Harold W6IWI came over and we put up the Alpha-Delta DX-LB Plus 160 thru 10m dipole for the KEØVH antenna farm.  It fits my space at 100 feet long with loading coils along its length for 80 and 160 meters, in a fan dipole configuration for 40, 20, 15 and 10 meters.  I ordered mine from HRO (https://www.hamradio.com/detail.cfm?pid=H0-005123) and it arrived in a few days, then with busy weekends on the house had to wait a bit for getting set up.

W6IWI unreeling the antenna and separating the fan section elements

 

KEØVH Hoisting up!

Hoisted up to about 25 feet.  Yes is needs to be more but for now this is its home.  Is quieter than the vertical and tunes fairly well on all bands!

Plus its much quieter on receive than the vertical.  And since the work on the house was done, it was time to remount the 6 meter/dual band j-pole antenna pole (after sitting on the ground for the past couple of months, see last month’s article).  Once again Harold W6IWI came over on a Sunday afternoon with a mount that he had in his junk box and helped me get the antenna back up and properly mounted to the hardibacker siding we had installed.

Installed and it ain’t goin’ nowhere!  That Hardibacker is tuff stuff!

You may remember from a previous hamshack article the “lazy susan” rig for tilting my 5 BTV vertical antenna.  To see that go to: http://www.ke0vh.com/hamshack/archives/TheKE0VHHamshack201703Mar.pdf  .  I have been wanting to improve on that for some time so I thought and thought about it, and after looking at some commercial offerings (pretty pricey all the way around I came up with this:

A couple pieces of zinc coated angle iron (cut from 1 piece purchased at the Home Depot, some self-tapping screws and some planning resulted in a much sturdier, MUCH less expensive tilt mount for a vertical antenna!

The beauty here is that it will tilt both directions to make the coax mounting point easily accessible!  COOL and STURDY!  AND did I mention Inexpensive?  

Harold W6IWI with the antenna tilted 1 direction, then….

Tilted the other way!  Really more versatile than anything commercially I have seen!  KEØVH designed homebrew!

Also in the month of September my wife and I hiked 11,000 foot Estes Cone, seen here from the trailhead at Lily Lake just west of Estes Park CO.  14’ner Longs Peak is to the left in this pic.  Lots of fun but PAIN coming down.  The last .7 mile is very steep up the rocky slope of the summit.  Ham Radio fun here as with my TYT handheld I could hit the 449.450 repeater back in Denver and worked W9BNO, K0GPA, and KC8GPD.  Great day with my wife and ham radio!

 

KEØVH ON THE SUMMIT!

My good friend Lee NØVRD submitted this recently.  3D printing a KU Feed horn!  Will let you know how this works out.  What a cool idea!

And, seen on an episode of “Star Trek Enterprise”!

An alien version of a Heil Classic Pro?  J  Really interesting they should use this!

And, I got this “fortune” at a local Chinese Restaurant during lunch with my wife!  We HAD to LAUGH!  Only ME!

AND, FINALLY, Ham Radio across the Colorado Connection repeaters back to Rich W9BNO in Denver from 11,000 feet Castle Peak north of Eagle Colorado!  What a great Field Day site someday!

See past editions of the newsletter at:

                                   2 YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2016/08/

                                   3 YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2015/08/   

                                   4 YEARS AGO

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2014/08/  

                                   5 Years AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2013/08/

                                  6 Years AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2012/08/

Don’t forget the SBE Chapter 73’ Of the Air

AllStar (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

At 7pm Mountain time (9pm Eastern) for radio discussions, both

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio.

Details on how to join us are at 

http://www.ke0vh.com/net/net.html.

 

 I hope You will be able to join us and share your engineering and Ham exploits! 

73’ from “the Shack” & God Be With You!

 

The KE0VH Hamshack for August and September

August & September 2018

Greetings all, this has been a CRAZY couple of months so we are going to revisit in part a couple of writings from last year.  I have had a lot of questions about AllStar for ham radio, so I want to look back at a previous article and include it again for informational purposes.

As you may know now we have a new AllStar remote base that ties into the 449.450 HUGE area coverage repeater in Denver.  It has now become our main base of operations both locally and thru AllStar.  It connects on command to the 46079 AllStar Skyhub system so that other AllStar nodes can connect into the hub and come out on 449.450 locally here in Denver.  There is a web interface that I will share with you if you want to connect to use here in Denver.  We are affiliated with the Rocky Mountain Radio League and I want to thank Dunnigan, K1DUN President and repeater trustee for allowing us to set up the Remote Base connection to 449.450.

Setting up a portable AllStar node for being able to get back into the Denver K1DUN 449.450 repeater and the Denver AllStar Skyhub (Skyler, KDØWHB) is something I have had a as a project for this summer.  Skyler has been so instrumental is setting up AllStar systems for myself and other folks here in Denver and we really appreciate the time and expertise of this fine young engineer.  Skyler has spent a lot of time experimenting and perfecting the software setup and hardware to make all of this work.  So one day he and I got together after I had gathered all the parts and he helped me to get my portable simplex node going.  I gathered up a Raspberry Pi3, a Syba USB CMedia CM119 Sound adapter, and a Yaesu VX-170, to use as a portable AllStar node (46372) for connecting to the AllStar systems via WiFi.  I am planning on using this when on the road thru my iPad hotspot, or in the hotel rooms I stay in thru their WiFi or Ethernet.  There are a lot of directions on how to do this available, but Skyler has figured out how to use these ($5 on Amazon) Syba sound cards instead of buying some of the $50 or more interfaces available.  Very simply done too.  The Raspberry Pi3 has on board WiFi so it can connect to the internet.  The soundcard is the interface to the radio for the transmit and receive audio, and the PTT to the radio.  The VX-170 I had on hand had a proper 4 conductor mini plug along with the interface wiring from an earlier data project.  The same line off the radio for mic audio had a capacitor and resistor already attached for the PTT thru the resistor and passing the audio down the line.  This speaker mic cable by the way, like just about everything else can be obtained thru Amazon.  Many other radios are usable and adaptable to this system.  Here soon it will be my intention to do a full “how to” write up on how we setup my node.

This is my schematic for the pinout on the waterproof cable for the Yaesu VX-170.  As you can see in the schematic below, I had already installed a capacitor and resistor on the cable from an earlier project for data in and out of the radio, so we incorporated that into the schematic for the Syba USB soundcard interface.  Skyler showed me how he had wired up the soundcard for past projects and he did a beautiful job putting the components in and getting them to fit into the case of the Syba as the pictures will show.

The Schematic for interfacing to the VX-170.  This interface should work for most radios, the cap/resistor upper right is for the VX-170 combined mic/PTT line from the radio:

$5.00 soundcard from Amazon.  Must be the CM108 or 119 Chip

One of the connections to the Syba USB soundcard, takes a little bit of care in soldering to the pins on the chip

 

The final component layout all connected to the soundcard and plugged into the Raspberry Pi3

Another view of the soundcard and Pi3

Since the Yaesu VX-170 is a 2 meter radio only, I am using a 2 meter frequency

coordinated for using as a simplex repeater node.  This also makes powering the easy as you can put 12 volts directly into the battery charging port.  I will be including pictures of the setup into a carry case in a later edition of “The Hamshack”.

The testing setup, using a Baofeng radio to test into the VX-170

Testing the node on the network at home

Another way to connect into the AllStar system is thru your cell phone!  It is a portal that will connect into whatever AllStar node/repeater you want to dial into.  Just think of it as a remote audio link to your radio, repeater, or connection into the AllStar system.  I have used this thru my motorcycle helmet blue tooth communicator into my iPhone to connect into the local Denver repeater or Skyler’s Skyhub.  Jeremy, N5JER showed me how to set up an automated dialer contact in my phone to one button dial like a regular phone number.  When you dial into the phone portal you must tell it what node you wish to connect to, your personal PIN number (given to you when you register with AllStar) and whether or not you want to use VOX or a command to “PTT”.  You can program this into your cell phone contacts.

My cellphone dialed into the KDØWHB AllStar hub (Node 46079).  You can see part of the automated dialing process, (my pin blocked out) easily done on a cell phone.  Once again, just think of it as a “long mic cord” to a radio system!

And below you can see the AllStar connection chart with the phone connected:

To use the phone portal, you must register with AllStar (https://allstarlink.org/).  You don’t have to setup a node or do anything other than register if you want.  Then even where there is no coverage by radio, repeater, or AllStar repeater you can get into whatever node you wish.  VERY COOL SYSTEM!

Thanks again Skyler!

And another radio prop from the FX series “The Americans”, A Hallicrafters receiver used by the “Russian” consulate in the series.  COOL PROP!

 

Thanks to Rich W9BNO for spotting this in Colorado during the VHF contest weekend!  Looks like this guy is ready to mountain top for sure!

The KEØVH 6 meter beam and dual band 2m/440 J-pole down for maintenance while the QTH gets new siding and painting.  Unfortunately this occurred during the VHF contest weekend. It does provide though a good chance to maintenance the antenna as it hasn’t been down in a few years.  Maybe almost 10!  All looks good as it will go back up when the siding and painting of the house is done in September.

Take a look at this.  Robert KC8GPD, who is a low power Part 15 enthusiast, has this beautiful little AM station on the air from his home in the Denver area.  Robert is a great radio engineer and assists me in the area that I work in, and really has the understanding of the FCC rules for low power unlicenced operation according to the FCC Part 15 rules for unlicensed stations.  More hobby than anything, many regular broadcast stations would be envious of his well appointed setup!

Roberts “control room” for his Part 15 AM, WOW!

Garden House AM and KC8GPD, Robert

The transmitting antenna and transmitter, plus official rules box at bottom of the support pole.  The part 15 station SOUNDS GREAT!

As seen ONLY in Wyoming!  Or maybe Nebraska!  J

And finally, thanks to Jim KCØRPS

See past editions of the newsletter at:

 2 YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2016/08/

 

3 YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2015/08/

 

4 YEARS AGO

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2014/08/

 

5 Years AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2013/08/

 

6 Years AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2012/08/

  

Don’t forget the SBE Chapter 73’ Of the Air

AllStar (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

At 7pm Mountain time (9pm Eastern) for radio discussions, both

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio.

Details on how to join us are at 

http://www.ke0vh.com/net/net.html.

 

You will be able to join us and share your engineering and

Ham exploits! 

73’ from “the Shack” & God Be With You!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clay’s Corner for August 2018

Clay’s Corner

Providing news and views from a broadcast engineers perspective since September 1986

 

Have you been enjoying summer?  Hot enough for yah?  From what I hear, this July has been the 2nd hottest on record.  Perhaps all part of global warming….Heard someone say recently that the Pacific Northwest is the only place in the country where Climate Change is making things better.  Perhaps, frankly I’d trade some of these 90 degree days for some 70’s in October.

Well the big news has certainly got to be the action of the FCC regarding the Sinclair/Tribune deal.  Media watchers were all saying that the deal was about to be approved by the FCC when – BOOM!  The FCC honcho, Ajit Pai announced that he is recommending that the merger be reviewed by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  As a result, those same outlets did a ‘180’ saying that this move could kill the deal.  Sinclair has been scrambling to make modifications in the hope that the FCC would back down.  Thus far this does not seem to be happening.  Some have been so bold as to suggest that Sinclair has shot themselves in the foot due to the way they were handling the matter of divesting of some stations.  In other situations, sending a merger to an ALJ can mean a ‘dead-deal’.  If you recall, AT&T tried to buy local cell provider, T-Mobile – In that case the FCC just threatened to send the matter to an ALJ for review causing AT&T to give up.

Then there is the political side of this….Sinclair is known for having a very conservative position on things.  As such, many figured the FCC Chairman, being a Republican would help…Apparently it did not…Perhaps surprising a lot of media-watchers.

So what’s going to take place in the Emerald City with the two Tribune Stations?  Not sure anyone is bold enough to be making bets.

Right after this bombshell – Cox, owner of KIRO-TV, announced that they are putting their 14 TV stations up for sale!  In an interesting reversal, where we have seen Radio/TV groups shed their Radio stations (CBS for example), Cox owns 61 Radio stations.

My heart goes out to all of those that work for the Tribune and Cox stations as they deal with a special kind of ‘Limbo’.  In my career I endured several ownership changes…In the end, most of them ended up being positive….However, getting there can be very unsettling.  In all of these it was pretty cut and dried…The old owners announced they were selling and identified the new ones…Then you waited for the FCC to approve the sale followed by the introduction of new management and, with fingers crossed, the announcement came that you had a job with the new firm.  In this case, things are far from clear, which is a breeding ground for anxiety.

On a much more cheerful note….I took my camera to the transmitter site recently and captured some scenes to share.  This first one is looking north at the ridge that is West Tiger Mountain with a foreground of wild flowers.  This is not a setup…There is a ton of nature’s color up there this year.

On the left is what we call West Tiger #1 or WTM-1.  It was the first broadcast site developed on the mountain back in 1988.  On the right, the two towers are at WTM-2, a site developed some years later by American Tower.  Although it does not look like it from this angle, the tops of all three towers are at the same elevation, 3148 feet above sea-level.

In recent columns I’ve written about Smart Speakers.  New reports are the sales of these devices will reach 100 million by the end of this year….and there will be 225 million of them by 2020.  Of special interest locally is the news that the Amazon Echo will account for more than 50% of sales.  Pretty impressive.  This is another classic case of a lot of people asking the question ….’Why didn’t I think of that?’

One of our area’s Non-Comms…KUOW is making use of these devices.  They’ve been chosen as a test station to receive donations from listeners who stream the station via the Alexa.  Amazon teamed up with NPR and KUOW on the project.

Time to look at the Seattle Radio (6+) Ratings in what Nielsen calls ‘Market #12’ –

  • Hubbard is at #1with their CHR formatted KQMV (92.5)
  • Close behind is KIRO-FM with News/Talk
  • Non-Comm, KUOW has dropped to a tie for 4th place with KISW
  • The top-rated AM station is KIRO/710.  Perhaps the hot Mariners having a role here?
  • The other highly rated Non-Comm, KNKX comes in at #10
  • The two Country Music stations, KKWF and KNUC (The Wolf and Bull) are tied
  • The next highest rated AM is KOMO at #16
  • Of the bottom 10 stations – 4 are AM’s with 3 of them 50 Kilowatts.

More examples of wildflowers along the road to West Tiger.  There are still some that think I’m crazy for preferring to drive up this ‘rustic’ road than drive on a freeway.

 

 

Road and Track magazine recently had a headline that read:

The 100 Worst American Cities for Driving – Adding – “You don’t want to be in the driver’s seat when visiting these cities.”

Sure, you knew where I was going with this one …Ranking #96 is Seattle…They added –

“Downtown Seattle is surrounded by a collection of lakes and peninsulas, meaning a lot of choke points for drivers trying to get places.”

We are joined at the bottom of the list of desirable places to drive by Oakland and San Francisco, Detroit and Philadelphia.  So what about Portland, Oregon?  Not much to brag about.  They came in at #60.

Meanwhile – Back to the tranquil road to West Tiger Mountain…and Foxgloves

The battle over what we call ‘C-Band’ continues to rage (3.7 to 4.2 GHz).  As time goes by, it appears that indeed wireless will end up with a portion of the band.  The question remains, where and how much.  Clearly the message that this spectrum is being used has been heard, with the FCC acknowledging that the existing users of this spectrum need to be accommodated.  I have contended that we will be looking at another ‘repack’ on this band.  That position is being echoed by others now as well.  One segment that has been very vocal has been Non-Commercial users.  Even Chairman Pai is on record that no action should be taken that threatens Public Radio.  Driving all this is the desire by the Wireless industry for spectrum for their 5G systems.  So now we wait for announcements to come from the east.

An interesting story out of NPR this past month.  They are reporting a spike in donations for Non-Comm Radio and TV Stations.  Interesting to note that this is the first time in decades that these facilities have seen increases in donors and revenue.  I wonder how much that is a result of the current battle between elected officials and news organizations?

So now that IHeart Media is Bankrupt – What’s next?  Sensing there is ‘blood in the water’, some organizations with money to spend are circling.  Already some of them have trotted out offers sparking comments of a coming bidding war.  Will the media giant be parted out…or what is the question?  Like all of these issues, only time will tell.

Just when we are getting used to the term ‘Fake News’ comes word on how ‘Fake Video’ could mess with our heads in the future.  Think of it a photo-shop for video.  I recall the term – You can’t fool a camera – Well, sorry Grandpa….Today you can using facial mapping and AI.

Received news that Kelly Alford is moving back home.  He recently wrote –

We’re in the process of packing and putting our Virginia house on the market to move back to the PNW in the coming months.  I don’t want to disclose where yet, but I start in my new position August 1st.  I’m sure there will be announcements accordingly.  Suffice it to say it will be nice to get back to my roots, with no more endless overseas work-related travel.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed getting to know the various cultures and customs in my prior gig, but at my age, 14 to 16 hour flights through numerous time zones, including dangerous places for American’s like Baghdad, was taking a toll.

Not everyday that the retirement of a local Radio General Manager makes the news.  However, a lot of attention is being given to the retirement announcement that Hubbard’s Marc Kaye is going to hang it up.  Marc’s been in the business 45 years.  He was the Cluster Manager for the Sandusky group in Bellevue and continued in that role with Hubbard.

Whereas I am one of those ‘older people’ that has elected to keep working beyond conventional retirement age (whatever that is) I found this item interesting –

The headline read – A record number of folks age 85 and older are working.

70 may be the new 60 and 80 may be the new 70…but 85 is still pretty old to work in the U.S.  Interestingly 255,000 people 85 and older are working, the highest number on record.  So what are they doing?  All kinds of things…crossing guards, farmers and ranchers and even truckers.  The number has doubled since the last depression.  There are a number of supporting reasons for all of this.  Longer life expectancies, lack of retirement plans, less physically demanding work.

What is not mentioned is doing what you like.  This is the situation in my case.  Frankly, I like what I do, perhaps because of its relationship to my hobby.  For the last eight plus years I have been working for a number of different firms…pretty much doing what I’ve done for the last 55 plus years.  The best part is I don’t have to deal with any politics and my hours are pretty flexible.  The best part is knowing that I could quit any one, or all, of these jobs any time I want and live comfortably thanks to doing some good financial planning.

Does the name Randy McCune ring a bell?  I first met Randy over eight years ago as he was leaving WSU after 15 years, in Pullman as I was coming in.  He moved on to KIRO-TV here in Seattle.  Where is he now?  Director of Engineering at Sinclair in Memphis.

A name that is very familiar with Radio Broadcast Engineers is Nautel.  There have more more new Nautel radio transmitters installed in the Seattle area made by the Canadian company than any other in recent years.  What you may not know is that Nautel has been awarded the prestigious, “Canada’s Best Managed Companies” designation.

For those of you that are members of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, SBE, you know that elections have taken place.  I have not heard any results.  One of the members of the Seattle Chapter is running for the board, Tom McGinley.  If he is elected he will be the 3rd member of our Chapter to serve at the national level.  The others were John Schnider and myself.

We lost Mike Scott, who passed away July 5th.  In recent years, you would see Mike’s picture in the Seattle SBE Chapter newletter – The Waveguide.  Mike had retired from teaching broadcast technology at Bates Technical College in Tacoma.  Prior to that, he was on the Engineering Staff at Channel 11.  Those that knew Mike, will long remember that twinkle in his eye and his wonderful sense of humor.

I recall traveling to various SBE Functions with Mike and his wife.  In fact, one of the pictures that showed him with his hair blowing in the wind was taken on one of those jaunts.  When I posted the news of his passing on the Chapter Remailer, the rapid response and volume of comments underscored how much Mike was thought of, and his incredible value to our industry.  Many of his students work in broadcasting in this area.

WSU’s Northwest Public Broadcasting deploys technical support people in various locations in the State.  One of those locations is Wenatchee.  Replacing the recently retired Don Eckis is Brady Aldrich.  I recently had the opportunity to spend a couple of days with Brady visiting some of the Western Washington sites I look after.  Brady is a familiar name in these parts, having worked for KOMO in years past, having roots on Vashon Island.  Most recently he had been working in Mississippi and was (as you might guess) anxious to return to the PNW.  I found it interesting that he happened to have relatives in Wenatchee.  I got this picture of Brady will visiting KVTI in Lakewood recently.

 

In recent years I have been receiving emails from readers of this column.  Many reach out to me, perhaps concluding that I have become a historian in this market.  One such email was from Charles Reinsch.  To be honest, the name was not familiar.  Chuck wrote –

It would be highly unlikely, but thought I would ask anyway: Could one of those old Collins on Cougar Mtn be KRAB’s?  It was a 737A that Lorenzo claimed was SN 1.  I would very much like to find some photographs.  All I have right now is a Collins sales brochure, and a pretty awful scan of a student newspaper photo of the front panels of the exciter and final.

Chuck Reinsch

I did not have the answer to his question, so I reached out to Dwight Small who worked at 107.7 with Sunbelt back on the air in 1984.  Dwight reported that the old Collins was gone by that time.

Chuck and I had several email exchanges and from this I received the following information about the type of transmitter that was used by KRAB.  Take a look –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things have changed a great deal since that old transmitter was made – For openers, there are no longer Vacuum Tubes in modern 5Kw FM Transmitters.

 

Here is a comparison of the old, circa 1948,  Collins 737A with a modern Nautel GV5

 

 

Collins 737A Nautel GV5
Width 93 ¼ inches 23 inches
Height 79 inches 72 ½ inches
Depth 37 1/3 inches 33 inches
Weight 4700 Pounds 333 Pounds

 

 

As I mentioned earlier – I receive some interesting emails – Here is one I recently received.

Hello Clay, I enjoyed your recent article about the improvements to AM….it
was mostly spot on!

However, you said “The old “Clear Channels” are not there anymore, folks.
Just turn on your AM radio at night and try and find them”

Here in Massachusetts I can get WFAN(660), WABC(770), WCBS(880),WBAL(1090),
WQEW(1560), WFED(1500), WTAM (1100), CFZM(740), WBT(1110), WPHT(1210), WWVA
(1170).

These listed above come in at night regularly….and reliably.  So, from my
standpoint…they are “still there”.

Now, is there any programming on them that anyone would be interested in?
That’s another story!  😉

He signed his email with a simple ‘D’ However his address included his Amateur Radio Call Sign, so I looked him up.  He is David Boucher, KB1USP from Methuen, Ma.

A question for you, my readers here in the Pacific Northwest – How many Clear Channel AM Stations can you receive?  David sent along this link to a fascinating site that shows all the AM Nighttime patterns:

http://www.nf8m.com/patternmaps_night.html

I’m always happy to hear from you – feel free to drop me a note – if you work in the industry.  Let me know what’s going on, and send a picture while you are at it.

Speaking of pictures – Thanks to Kent Randles of Entercom Portland for this picture of one of the big FM Station Combiners in that city.  A lot of plumbing for sure!

Before I forget it – Congratulations to Kent on his promotion.  He is now overseeing the technical operation of Entercom’s cluster of Stations in Seattle as well as Portland.  He was up here recently spending a day with me while I showed him the transmitters and systems used in Seattle.  The following is Kent taking a picture of me. J

Well that’s about it for this month.  Not a lot of news, but certainly some interesting happenings non-the-less.  We have a month or so of Summer left – make the most of it.

Lord willing I will catch you next month with more.

Clay, K7CR, CPBE
SBE Member for over 50 years, #714.

The KE0Vh Hamshack for July

SUMMER IS HERE!  Lots of projects completed and ongoing!

SO I have written a lot lately about the BIG JET FLI!  I am now voice tracking the 7p-12 midnight (Eastern Time) Top 40 of the 60’s and 70’s show on Monday and Tuesday nights, filling in other time slots when needed!  It feels AMAZING to be on the radio again having fun and playin’ the hits!  You can check it out at

https://tunein.com/radio/WFLI-1070AM-The-Legend-s28777/ or the WFLI App on the phones.

SO when you can tune in and check it out!  Jack Rockin’Roland!  (Works well huh?)

 

As of this writing, this past weekend myself,  Jim Langsted KCØRPS and Skyler Fennell KDØWHB just climbed Torreys Peak, one of the 53 mountains out here over 14,000 feet, topping out at 14,275 feet above sea level.  https://www.14ers.com/route.php?route=torr5&peak=Grays+Peak+and+Torreys+Peak

We all brought HT’s, and so worked Rich W9BNO, Cris W5WCA, and Robert KC8GPD on simplex and thru the 449.450 Rocky Mountain Radio League repeater.  GREAT WEATHER, an early start, and a great round trip hike of 8 miles and a total elevation gain (and down) of 3040 feet from the trailhead in Stevens Gulch near the “ghost town” of Bakerville on I-70 west of Denver.

Hams on the SUMMIT!

Getting started at the trailhead about 5:15am

An hour or so later! Torreys on the right.

 

KCØRPS on the trail about 11,500 feet!

 

KDØWHB heading over the snow trail to the saddle at 13,500 feet

 

Above the snowfield to the SUMMIT at the saddle between Grays and Torreys

 

ALMOST THERE!

View back down the mountain from the summit to the I-70 Exit leading to the trailhead

View off to the WSW of Mount of the Holy Cross, which I hope to SUMMIT this summer!  You can almost make out the “cross” snowfield in this picture

KCØRPS and the EOSS group (www.EOSS.org, Edge of Space Sciences) launched a 2 mylar balloon set carrying a micro solar powered 20 meter APRS transmitter this past June that had quite the adventure and actually really became lost in a circular eddy of winds the the Bermuda Triangle.  NO KIDDING!  It circled for about 3 days in a pattern of wind and finally the signal was lost as it traveled no more.  It was tracked by WSPR stations on the frequency of 14.097 mhz.  It generally remained above an altitude of 30,000 feet until its last day when it dropped to around 21,000 feet and then was finally not heard from again.  The transmitter was a super micro 20 meter unit, flea weight, and was suspended by half of a 20 meter thin wire antenna with the other half of the dipole suspended from the transmitter.  Check the prep and launch of the system here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RVhlBpa1k0

KCØRPS should have a full article up soon about the flight and I will report on that here as soon as possible.

 

Another activity I am involved with and very happy to have become a member of is the Christian Motorcycle Association, the “Riders In The Light” Lakewood Chapter.  I am looking forward to a very long association with this fine group of folks who love the Lord and motorcycles.  Look them up sometime!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

President Todd, KEØVH Jack, VP Tony giving me my RTL patch

Here is the new “remote base” AllStar Node in my shack.  We are using it to connect the AllStar Network to the 449.450 K1DUN repeater in Denver.

The 449.450 repeater covers from Cheyenne Wyoming down to Monument hill and HUGE area’s of eastern Colorado from 11,440 feet on Squaw Mountain 35 miles west of Denver.  Think almost a “clear channel” frequency repeater and it is a BLOWTORCH coverage wise.  We can control the AllStar link radio seen here with a GUI interface and are developing its use on the Rocky Mountain Radio Leagues (http://www.rmrl.org/) repeater.  More to come on this exciting development, and we hope you will join us on the Monday Night Society of Broadcast Engineers “Chapter 73’ of the Air” net at 7pm Mountain time, 9pm Eastern.  Details on how to join us are below in the newsletter article.  Thanks to Skyler again, KDØWHB for the setting up and administration of the link radio AllStar system.

 

And speaking of KDØWHB, here is his well setup APRS system using an old Motorola Radio and Raspberry Pi3 being fed by an inexpensive GPS antenna.

 

And the ham of the month!  Amanda KDØCIC in her neat hamshack here in CO

 

And FINALLY THIS MONTH, trying to learn OHMS LAW!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget the SBE Chapter 73’ Of the Air

AllStar (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

At 7pm Mountain time (9pm Eastern) for radio discussions, both

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio.

Details on how to join us are at

http://www.ke0vh.com/net/net.html.

 

I hope

You will be able to join us and share your engineering and

Ham exploits!

73’ from “the Shack” & God Be With You!

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