The KEØVH Hamshack For July 2014

                    Jack Roland

 

By Jack Roland, CBRE, AMD and CBNT

KLove /Air 1 EMF Colorado Engineering.

KRKA SiteView 

Storm brewing above our KRKA (Air 1) Site NW of Ft. Collins.

We have had quite an active severe thunderstorm season in NE Colorado this year. Quite a few tornadoes, large hail, much lightning, etc have been pretty common most afternoons this season.  As of this writing the weather has quieted down and sunny  hot skies seem to be in place in NE CO.  This picture was pretty spectacular as I was heading up to KRKA to reset a set of overloads on the Armstrong transmitter (lightning strike).  This particular storm moved out onto the eastern plains and had some pretty torrential downpours and hail associated with it.  I ran back into it on my way down along I-25 to Denver.  There was no rotation associated with this cloud, but it sure looked vicious. 

 Our good friend Chris, WXØPIX, who lives in College Station Texas has a really great looking mobile installation for his commute each day.  He uses an Icom IC-706Mark2G as I do in the truck here in Colorado.  Nicely Done Chris!

 WX0PIX 01

WX0PIX 03

Chris and I have worked each other on 40 meters from Texas to Colorado.  Lots of fun!

Traveling around for EMF/KLove  gives me frequent opportunities for adventures and many ham radio contacts using my Icom 706 MK2G mobile rig.  During a trip to Gunnison 40 meters was a lot of fun.  I kept in touch with Greg, WB7AHO back in Denver, and I also participated in the OMISS Net on 7.185 in the evening.  (Check out the OMISS net website, the “Old Man International Sideband Society”at http://www.omiss.net/Facelift/).   This net is a traffic and worked all states net, full of friendly operators and lots of different states checking in.  During the evening I was driving home I checked into the net and as it turned out since I was a ‘newcomer”, there were a lot of stations who wanted to work a mobile in Colorado.  Plus you get to see some outstanding views of God’s creation.  

MonarchPass

Talking to WB7AHO on 40 meters from Monarch Pass CO, elevation 11,312 feet

DXLab is a freeware suite of eight interoperating applications that can be installed independently in any order. When multiple applications are running, they sense each other’s presence and automatically interoperate to support your Amateur Radio DXing activities.  Dave, AA6YQ writes and distributes this software mainly out of a love for ham radio and computer software coding.  I have been using this for several months now and it evens controls my older Yaesu FT757GX2 rig.  You can spot dx, do your logging, see where the station is in the world you are trying to talk to, make your own dx spots, have a direct interaction with Logbook Of The World and EQSL, and just tons more of features.  And all for FREE!  One of the nice features too is that when you log a callsign it will automatically lookup the call and give you all the hams information, either via a callbook you have on your computer, or via the internet to a couple of different sites if you are a member, OR for free via Hamqth.com. 

Speaking of HAMQTH.com, I really like this website for finding other amateurs QSL information and other news about Ham Radio.  You can also upload your logs to the site for others to see, plus it is great backup storage.  Saved me a few weeks ago when I lost a hard drive and 700 plus contacts in a log.  The website is free to use but accepts donations. 

And, please check out this very important information for amateurs, especially those who live in CC&R neighborhoods:

From EMF Engineer/Ham Dan Ethan, WA6CRB

“Many hams across the country live in new developments which are governed by CC&Rs. CC&Rs are Codes, Covenants, and Restrictions and they are killers for ham radio. Most CC&Rs prohibit the installation of ham antennas and as you all are aware, you can’t operate HF without a good antenna. The FCC determined that states, counties, and cities can’t prohibit the erection of antennas but did not carry their edict to cover CC&Rs, leaving that change for guidance from the U.S. Congress. There is currently a bill in the House of Representatives to allow a reasonable accommodation for a ham antenna for someone who is governed by CC&Rs. We all know someone who is affected by the restrictions but now we can do something to help. There is a petition at change.org that requests that the House pass the bill and we need every ham in the country to sign it. Please forward this link to all your ham friends (or anyone else you think might sign it). You can sign the petition at: “

http://www.change.org/petitions/u-s-house-of-representatives-co-sponsor-hr-4969-the-amateur-radio-parity-act-of-2014

I am working on setting up Linux Ubuntu on my computer at home, running it side by side at this time with Windows XP.  It is my intention to make Ubuntu my primary operating system for all my Hamshack needs and activities.  I will be writing more about this as time goes by here in the KEØVH Hamshack. 

Don’t forget the SBE IRLP (and Echolink) Hamnet, the first Saturday of the month.  AND the EMF Hamnet now is the same manner on every Monday evening at 7pm Mountain time for radio discussions, both broadcast engineering and Amateur radio.  Details on how to join are at  http://www.qsl.net/ke0vh/sbehamnet.  I hope you will be able to join us and share your engineering and ham exploits!

73’, God be with you, & see you next time!  KEØVH

 

Clay’s Corner for July 2014

 

 

 

Clay’s Corner for July 2014

 

Finally – July has arrived and this means , if all goes well, it’s time for summer – Our shortest Season…So with that in mind  – It’s time for outdoor activities….For example – Picnics !   The Seattle Chapter of SBE will hold its annual picnic on Vashon Island in the backyard of KOMO-AM .

 

This month the Seattle Chapter of SBE  – and friends – will gather at the KOMO –AM facility on Vashon Island for its annual picnic.   This year, a week earlier than in the past – July 19.      While you are out there enjoying the food and fellowship, be sure and take a look at the beautiful 50 Kw, BTA50F RCA transmitter.   You can load-up on facts before you get there by going to this site which is full of memories for us old-timers.    The KOMO Transmitter info starts on page 230.

http://americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Catalogs/RCA/RCA-Broadcasst-Equipment-1950.pdf

Word is we will have a special guest to this event – I’ve invited Barry Mishkind to join us.   Barry is known by many in our industry for his tireless support of what we do.   More recently he has been publishing the BDR.   If you are not a subscriber to that service – You should be – and should go here –

http://lists.thebdr.net/mailman/listinfo/bdr

 

Two weeks later Engineers and their families in the Portland area will gather at the home of Tom Cauthers  on the Sandy River east of Portland .

 

A lot of passages and changes of late in our business, here is a quick summary –

Ø      Ken Schram – Long time member of the KOMO team – Passed away on May 29th.

Ø      Jean Enerson – Who gave up her anchor seat but will continue on doing other things at KING-TV and who continues on even though she turned 70 (Love to see younger people still working)

Ø      Dan Lewis – Retired from the Anchor Desk at KOMO-TV

Ø      Casey Kasem – Legendary voice of American Top 40 and countless other things – Passed away in nearby Gig Harbor.

 

Another Seattle statistic –

According to Tom Tom Traffic’s new results we have some pretty bad traffic in our area.  According to these new results, Seattle is ranked 8th worst.    Just to be fair – Our neighbor to the North, Vancouver is worse off than we are with a ranking of #4 …But then again that region is short on freeways.    What ab out our neighbor to the South ?   Portland comes in at #16.    Not sure if that means the traffic mess in PDX is only have as bad as Seattle.    Denver – You guys have it easy with a traffic mess rating of #32.  Worst place to be stuck in a vehicle – Yup – Las Angeles.   Best place ? ….Kansas City

 

Lots of computer changes at the local Entercom radio factory.  Out goes BE’s Audiovault and in in comes

Wide Orbit.   Apparently this is just part of a companywide shift.

 

 

How do you remove a top mounted TV Antenna that has to be taken apart in pieces when it’s mounted above an FM Master Antenna being used by 6 Stations owned by 3 different companies?    That has been the issue at West Tiger during the KUNS de-installation.    It also underscores the viability of FM’s having back-up facilities that can be used anytime without causing significant reductions in coverage.   There is a huge difference between a station having an Auxiliary Transmitter facility and having an ‘Emergency Backup’.   Over time I have seen this issue come back to bite a number of times.     To major league broadcasters this is the, perhaps, a question of how you define redundancy.   In smaller markets, FM stations are happy if they can have a little antenna and low powered transmitter somewhere in the event of failure of their main transmitter and/or antenna.   In major markets – the goal of many, but not all, stations is to have a high level of redundancy.    In Seattle there are clearly those that look at this issue differently.    Some stations have all their eggs in one basket, at one location, should something really bad happen at their main transmitter site, they are off the air – period…And this includes just about all of our local TV Stations    Some stations in this market are at the other end of the spectrum with full powered mains at West Tiger and relatively high powered auxiliaries at Cougar.    This is sort of like insurance ….Do you insure for full replacement cost, or, something deemed adequate?

Now you again know why I am not in station management. J

 

I recently had a very enjoyable time flying over to Helena, Montana to participate in an EAS workshop.   That state is considerably behind Washington in terms of its EAS system and planning, hopefully they will be able to learn from what we have done here so as to now have to re-invent the wheel.   While there I re-confirmed my love for Western Montana…What beautiful country…If only one could make a decent living there.

 

We achieved a bit of a milestone with the moving of the Washington State EAS Plan from the WSAB Web Site (where it has been for many years) to the Washington State Emergency Management Division’s Web Site…You can find it here – - http://www.emd.wa.gov/telcom/telecom_eas_plan.shtml.

A huge thank you to Mark Allen of the WSAB for his contribution to the EAS Effort in our State and an equally huge thank you to WSEM team for their contribution to this cause.

 

Another news item in the world of EAS is the release of an NPRM by the FCC.

http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2014/db0626/FCC-14-93A1.pdf

This action by the Commish again proves that EAS is not a static situation but rather a system that continues to evolve with repeated changes.

 

A reminder – We are always looking for volunteers to work at various levels of the EAS in our State.

The local (Operational Area) committees (LECC’s) as well as the State EAS Committee (SECC) is always looking for volunteers.   If you would like to do some ‘Giving-Back’ – Please consider EAS as a great way to do just that.    If you’re interested- – Please contact me for more information.

 

Oh yes, our next State EAS Committee will be meeting on July 9th at 930 AM at the WEMD facility at Camp Murray.    Additional information about the meeting as well, as call in information, will be posted on the Washington State EAS Remailer.   If you are not a subscriber – You can join us by going to –

http://sea.sbe16.org/mailman/listinfo/eas-wa.    A huge – Thank you – to Hatfield and Dawson for their contribution to our State EAS system by providing this system.

 

If you are like me, you have been following the changes in the world of motor vehicles and the growth of hybrids and the introduction of all electrics.   Recently the legendary maker of motorcycles, Harley Davidson announced that they are going to start making electric bikes.    If you look at what made all this possible you come to understand that advancements in batteries has changed everything.   It was not that long ago when we were thrilled with NiCads.    Driving this (no pun) is likely the explosion of hand-held electronic gizmo’s.

 

Just about everyone knows that a ‘HAM’ is – right?    It’s something that you eat, or a term used to describe someone that’s involved in Amateur Radio, i.e., HAM Radio.    Time to learn a new definition…A HAM is now – also short for a ‘ Hog Annihilation Machine”.   From the way understand it…Feral Hogs are a big problem in some areas of the country causing millions of dollars’ worth of damage.   The challenge has been how to deal with the Hogs and not, in the process, kill other animals.   Enter the HAM …A solar powered machine that is triggered by the sounds made by the wild hogs that provides access to bait that will kill the hogs and yet not respond  to animals that you don’t wish to kill….Things I learn by reading the paper !

 

Speaking of reading the paper – Did you see the picture in the Seattle Times on the 22nd of the big vacuum tube guitar amplifier?

Verellen

Boy did that ever catch my eye – I instantly recognized the familiar shape of 6550’s.   Now a bit of back ground….My first encounter with the 6550 tube was in an Ampex Video Tape Machine where they were used in what was called Motor Power Amplifiers to drive some of the motors in that big 2 inch, Quad, VTR.  (Yes I know this is back in the early 60’s)  Over the years I would occasionally run across these tubes in high powered amplifiers.     This tube was a high powered cousin of the legendary  6L6, EL34/6CA7, KT88 family that was used for years in high powered PA systems before the advent of transistors.     In this day and age tubes like these, that can produce 100 watts of audio per pair, are still in demand for guitar amplifiers for those musicians that find that the sounds produced by solid-state devices to be inferior.    Interestingly a small company, based here in Seattle, Verellen, still builds tube amplifiers with lots of demand.   The one in the picture uses 6 of these bottles, which go for about $35 each, produces 300 Watts for those guitar players that have learned they can use their amps to peal paint at a ¼ mile and make ears bleed (Kidding of course).     Another Seattle success story indeed.

 

So what comes out of a broadcast station belongs to a broadcast station and you cannot take it and use it for business purposes unless you pay the broadcaster a fee?   Well something like this was decided in the recent court ruling regarding Aereo.     Perhaps another example is a retail business that plays a radio station for their customers and does not pay the music licensing organizations?    The court siding with broadcasters in this case is going to have an interesting impact going forward.  I get the feeling that this ruling will have impacts not yet imagined by many.  The term ‘public airwaves’ has, perhaps, been re-defined for years to come?    The question is – now what?    I have to think that the wheels are turning in the minds of many that will figure a way around this one.     At least, in this case, the court is on the side of broadcast television, even if another branch of the Federal Government appears not to be.   Meanwhile – Aereo announced that it was shutting down.

 

On June 6, 7 and 8 of June many of use made the trek to Seaside Oregon for the annual Amateur Radio activity there.     According to reports just received there were nearly 3000 in attendance.    Sitting through the prize drawing on Sunday we were amazed at the number of winners that were of the female gender and young too.   As the MC kept noting …This is the future of Amateur Radio.    Seems like the corner has been turned on what was once viewed as an old-man’s hobby.

 

Here’s an item for you old-timers –

 

The following is a picture of an AM Station here in Western Washington

 

Tower with D - R

 

Zooming in to the top of the tower you can see a ‘device’ mounted on the top of the tower

 

Device on Top - R

 

As you can see this tubular ‘device’ is mounted on the top of the tower with the beacon

Mounted on top of it.  Note that the device is made of screen, you can see the blue sky through it.

 

Can anyone identify this ‘device’ – For extra credit, name the location in Eastern Washington where

A similar device is located.   J

 

Copper theft continues to make news – In a recent case a number of PSE’s customers power went out about 430 AM at the same time many in the vicinity of a sub-station heard an explosion.    Apparently the fact that the copper wire that a thief saw was not coupled with the knowledge that the ‘wire’ had sufficient energy to transport him to the hereafter.   Firefighters took the thief to Harborview in critical condition with 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 60% of his body.    Electric utilities all over the country are increasing their security …But you can only go just so far trying to prevent stupidity.        Then there is Seattle City Light caper where the only ‘shock’ that took place was when the utility discovered that they had been ripped off by a fast talking pair who claimed they needed scrap copper wire for an Indian charity.   This was not just a small con-job…But rather turned out to be a 20 Ton Heist.    The good news is the dudes were caught and the folks at City Light that should have known better have been exposed.   Perhaps the bottom line to this one is that stupidity can be found everywhere.

 

For years many of us have thought about the names given the little range of mountains to the East of Seattle often called the Issaquah Alps.    Cougar Mt works as there have certainly been cougars sited there.  Squak Mt is a tough one , apparently coming from a Native American word.   Then there is Tiger Mt.   I think we all understand that there are no tigers in this area….Then to the east is Rattlesnake Mt…and (thankfully) there are no snakes of that type in this area.    The other day, while at East Tiger Mt – I had my first – Tiger Sighting ….  If you look close at the following picture, just above the elevation sign you will find him –  CUTE !

P1060505 - R

 

 

The FCC has been at work in Bay Shore New York where they have proposed a $25,000 fine against a Drew Buckley for interfering with local fire communications with chants and heavy-breathing.  Geesh!

Then there is the $12,000 fine against WWCS-AM in Canonsburg, Pa for failing to have effective fences around their AM towers.  The biggie of the month is the planned fine against a Chinese retailer for signal jamming devices CTS Technology… This is the biggest fine in the FCC’s history – $34,912,500 – That just short of 35 Million Dollars !!!  Signal jammers or devices that jam or block any FCC authorized system are strictly forbidden.    I’ve heard of devices like this in the past where building owners and organizations don’t want to hear any phone ringing etc.,  in fact, I just did a Google Search for Jammers and found that plenty are available – Some from Seattle’s own Amazon….However after this FCC action, likely not for long.  That same search turned up FCC statements on their legality and their enforcement.   Just for drill I looked to see if you could still purchase high powered CB amplifiers – Yep – Still can.    It appears the desire to make a buck and satisfy the demand for these items is strong, despite the action of the Feds…However a few 34 Megabuck fines will – perhaps- help.

 

Ever wonder why folks head for the beach, or sunny locations instead of staying here and enjoying our legendary weather?    A new study has turned up the fact that the sun has a similar effect on the human body as heroin and is highly addictive.   Technically UV Rays from the Sun stimulate the production of endorphins (feel good stuff).   Doctors, armed with this info, will now be better able to help those that are driven to excessive sun exposure that leads to skin cancer risk.   Another related item was in the news recently that cautioned people living in the area of gray skies that they too can get over-exposed and thereby increase their skin cancer risk.   In the event you wonder where I get this stuff…I am referencing the Harvard Medical School.   Just to be fair – another study out of the University of Rochester Medical School in N.Y. has found an interesting relationship between Air Pollution and mental disorders such as autism and Schizophrenia.   Perhaps this would explain some of the mysteries of Southern California?

 

Phil Johnson- Retired from the USCG and KIRO Radio – and Chair of the Central Puget LECC contributed this item about a little known ship that played a role during the cold war.   Those of you that are broadcast engineers will find the power levels they operated interesting.

http://www.uscg.mil/tcyorktown/info/History/Cutters/courier.asp

 

The Swiss have chosen 2024 as the date when that country will officially switch from analog to digital radio.    I still find it amazing that in our country we still are trying to find solutions to the demise of AM Radio and have a number that are strong opposed to any digital radio system.   Why are these other countries looking forward while we continue to look backward?   Can someone explain this to me ?

I received a nice note from John Franz recently.  He is working in Billings Montana and stated that he would love to come back this way.

Before I close this edition  – a pretty sunset picture I took from West Tiger – That’s the sun reflecting off of Lake-Washington.

P1060501 - R

 

As usual, I like to leave you with something to bring a smile – This month – some terms that will expand your necessary knowledge base –

 

Administrivia   (noun) : trivial and mundane administrative tasks conducted by managers designed to increase the overall ineffectiveness of an organization.  Useless paperwork generated by a bureaucracy

Adminisphere  (noun) : the levels of management, where big, impractical and counterproductive decisions are made.  The administration thought it’d be a good idea to replace all 700 of our servers with three mainframes as a way of speeding things up. I’m telling you, their brains don’t get enough air in that adminisphere.

Adobify(verb) : to transform an electronic document into an Adobe PDF document.  Let’s adobify those documents so that everyone can read them.

 

Till next month –

 

Hope to see you at the Picnic !    Have a great summer.

 

 

Clay, K7CR, CPBE etc.

The KEØVH Hamshack For June 2014

 

 

                        Jack Roland

 

 

The KEØVH Hamshack For June 2014

By Jack Roland, CBRE, AMD and CBNT

KLove /Air 1 EMF Colorado Engineering.

 

Well summer is here,  we have a full slate of things to do here in Colorado and EMF.  We are hopefully going to get KIQN in Rye CO up and running at 100 kw ERP to cover most of SE CO including Pueblo and Colorado Springs. 

DXLab is a freeware suite of eight interoperating applications that can be installed independently in any order. When multiple applications are running, they sense each other’s presence and automatically interoperate to support your Amateur Radio DXing activities.  Dave, AA6YQ writes and distributes this software mainly out of a love for ham radio and computer software coding.  I have been using this for several months now and it evens controls my older Yaesu FT757GX2 rig.  You can spot dx, do your logging, see where the station is in the world you are trying to talk to, make your own dx spots, have a direct interaction with Logbook Of The World and EQSL, and just tons more of features.  And all for FREE!  One of the nice features too is that when you log a callsign it will automatically lookup the call and give you all the hams information, either via a callbook you have on your computer, or via the internet to a couple of different sites if you are a member, OR for free via Hamqth.com which I am writing about down the page.

Have you heard about Hamqth the website (http://www.hamqth.com/) ?  I really like this one for ham information, call lookups, and even logging and storage.  It also interfaces with my DXLabs Suite Ham lookups when you enter a callsign in the logpage. 

My lovely wife Mai and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary on May 25th!  Thanks be to God for giving me the Love of my life, 8 children, and more blessings than a man can ask for.  I am more grateful than can be expressed on page.  Thank you Lord and Mai!  We took a long awaited vacation in June thru New Mexico, 4 corners, and Mesa Verde.  Many projects kept me from writing a longer “Hamshack” article this month, I will follow up next month.

Don’t forget the SBE IRLP (and Echolink) Hamnet, the first Saturday of the month.  AND the EMF Hamnet now is the same manner on every Monday evening at 7pm Mountain time for radio discussions, both broadcast engineering and Amateur radio.  Details on how to join are at  http://www.qsl.net/ke0vh/sbehamnet.  I hope you will be able to join us and share your engineering and ham exploits!

73’, God be with you, & see you next time!  KEØVH

The KEØVH Hamshack For MAY 2014

 

                      Jack Roland

 

The KEØVH Hamshack For MAY 2014

By Jack Roland, CBRE, AMD and CBNT

KLove /Air 1 EMF Colorado Engineering.

 

Greetings all, well at long last the KEØVH-4 Digipeater is up and operating now just west of Akron CO at our KLZV transmitter site.  The owner was kind enough to allow me to put it there (in our KLZV rack) and is feeding a homemade dipole antenna oriented vertically at about 100 feet or so up the tower.  The coverage really is amazing  up in that area, and it has digipeated signals from as far away as souther Oklahoma.  However the programming of the KPC+ TNC needs some adjustment as far as its beacon goes, and I will do that on a subsequent trip.  It doesn’t seem to pass along its locational and status beacons as often as it should, so I will be looking at that as well.  But man, what a great site!

 

 KE0VH-4 01       

 

 

 

 

 

KE0VH-4 02

The KLZV Site just west of Akron showing the vertical dipole position on the tower.

I am really hoping that this Digipeater, in conjunction with KEØVH-5 which will hopefully by next month be placed just east of Sterling will then fill in a long existing hole in coverage by APRS especially along the I-76 corridor to Nebraska.  This will be useful as well by the EOSS (Edge of Space Sciences) group that flies high altitude balloons in NE CO for tracking their ground based mobiles chasing the balloons.  See all about that at www.EOSS.org.

 KE0VH-4 03

The KEØVH-4 Digipeater, a KPC3+ TNC, Icom commercial radio programmed for 144.39, and a converted computer power supply.

 

KE0VH-4 04 The KEØVH Digipeater locational beacon as seen on APRS.fi.

 There is a really great APRS server site that I discovered here recently at http://www.db0anf.de/app/aprs that will tell you all the information being sent to the internet from ANY aprs station.  It is especially useful for tracking digipeaters and IGates and the like for how well it may be operating.  I am tracking the usage and effectiveness of KEØVH-4 at this time via this site, and will be doing so with dash 5 here soon too. The picture below is of the stations heard via KEØVH-4 from a 5 day period prior to May 15 from the db0anf server.

 KE0VH-4 05

 

 

I am especially proud and happy that as of this writing, we have installed our new Nautel VS-2.5 transmitter on Storm Peak at 11,000 feet plus in Steamboat Springs.  Again, as of this writing, we have been operating for 2 days now without any of the foldback anomalies we were getting with the prior Crown FM-2k’s.  We swept the antenna line several times and couldn’t find any problems, changed the bandpass filter, checked the lines, grounds, even the electrical and couldn’t get the transmitter to stop folding back on itself.  This happened with 2 different transmitters and even a power module change, but yet the problem persisted without abating.  We were however able to run a Crown FM500 with no problems whatsoever.  Considering though the TPO of the station is 1792 watts, we had to run on a STA at that power level while we were determining what to do.  And considering that even now in May there is still 8 to 12 feet of snow at the site and we had to use the Argo to get there it isn’t necessarily an easy trip.  So due to the obtaining of the brand new Nautel, we traveled up to the site on May 13th, and our crack engineers back in the tech lab at EMF Headquarters in Rocklin had pre-set up the transmitter, put in a custom (and tested) wiring harness, and other accessories, we headed up on a sunny morning, the first in quite a while.  It literally only took about 25 minutes from unboxing the rig, installing, hooking up the remote control and getting the computer to see the GUI, and we had her ON THE AIR!!!!  What an amazing machine!  Thanks to our Director of Engineering David Shantz and the great guys back in the support broadcast techs area for helping so much on this project.  Now, we just pray that the site will be solid and non-problematic for years to come!

 Nautel

The KLBV Nautel and computer interface IN THE RACK ON THE AIR!

 The Screen shot of the GUI interface seen over our EMF network

AND, congratulations to Nick NOW KEØAJZ!  He leaves behind the KK6GSJ call  as he upgraded from a Tech to General Class Amateur Radio Operator.  Nick and our friend Greg, WB7AHO are working on getting a National NCX-3 HF rig on the air from Nicks apartment using a MFJ apartment antenna.  More on this to come next month!  Have FUN Nick!

Don’t forget the SBE IRLP (and Echolink) Hamnet, the first Saturday of the month.  AND the EMF Hamnet now is the same manner on every Monday evening at 7pm Mountain time for radio discussions, both broadcast engineering and Amateur radio.  Details on how to join are at  http://www.qsl.net/ke0vh/sbehamnet.  I hope you will be able to join us and share your engineering and ham exploits!

73’, God be with you, & see you next time!  KEØVH

 

 

Clay’s Corner for May 2014

 

 

Clay’s Corner for May 2014

Under the heading of – Why don’t people listen to scientists and engineers  – - -

The SR530 or Oso slide has been a tragic event to be sure.   The good news is that our industry really covered the event very well.    Interestingly the first news of this tragedy came from the National Weather Service via the EAS.     As the media dug a bit deeper into this situation it became clear that Engineers and Geologists knew about the risks of people living in that area and the local government did little to stop issuing building permits as property owners were eager to sell their land and builders eager to build houses.  Could it be that the profit motive caused warnings to be ignored?      The May issue of Discover Magazine has a piece worth reading  on how there have long been warnings about what would happen should a big hurricane strike NYC…Yet no one wanted to hear about it.  Seems to me there was even a TV program produced that foretold what would happen …..It got in the way of making profits while building in harm’s way was approved.   Interestingly Geologists have been trying to warn us in the Puget Sound basin about the ‘big one’. …Yet how many continue to ignore these warnings?     I have been voicing concern that all too few broadcasters will have a functional station after this, certain to take place, quake.     It’s my belief that our post-quake area will likely have only a hand-full of stations on the air and those will likely be those that do not have news departments or the structure to be able to get emergency information to the public.     Why do you think that this is the case?    I suspect a couple of things are in play here – 1) Spending money on being able to survive a huge earthquake takes money away from the bottom line and this is something that stockholders would never understand.  2) The reaction that a large percentage of our population has when you mention – Science, math, geological warnings, engineers etc. causes a sever case of ‘Deer in the headlights’.  This is serious stuff – and most folks don’t want to be concerned with it.    History is full of stories where people ignore those that they should pay attention to….and end up paying a high price for it.

The recent cluster of quakes off the northern coast of Vancouver Island should send a wakeup call to everyone that the earth is active in these parts and this 6.6 is just a little one compared to what is predicted.   Perhaps the most interesting aspect of these predictions is the fact that they are based on history.   They say history repeats itself…and so do major quakes.

I have been having discussions with folks at WSEM about what to do after- a major quake hits this area.  In a previous column I listed the services that would be out of commission and for how long.   Let’s take a look at what our world will be like after a major quake – Just about all utilities will be out…Massive power outages will force citizens to turn on their car radios or, if they are smart enough, to start cranking on that wind-up radio to try and find out just how bad it is….Then again few likely own them because this would require paying attention to warnings and spending money as a result.  (How many battery powered radios are there around these days anyway?).   Cellular and land-line phone systems will be either not working or will be so overtaxed as to be useless.    Once they are able to locate a functioning radio station the question will be how to get official information to their listeners.    With all convention communications system knocked out, quite possibly this will once again be Ham Radio to the rescue.  I can see those emergency management facilities becoming a bee-hive of coordination and disaster recovery and the Hams proving the communications circuits to the broadcasters who will be informing the public.    You noticed I did not mention TV.   There are a couple of problems here – 1) TV stations are generally not very hardened and 2) There are very few portable, battery powered or crank up TV sets.

The bottom line is we have a lot of work to do to prepare for our ‘big-one’.   The first step is to try and find out how to get those with the power and authority to listen to those scientists and engineers that have been sounding the warning for year.  Let’s hope we don’t witness a massive scale Oso within this highly populated area.

Another item for this category is Climate Change.   Why is it that this issue has become a political issue?   Is it because a former elected official came out on one side of the issue that our highly polarized society feels that if ‘he feels that way’  then I am obligated to feel another?    This is another story for another time ….Unless you operate KKMO or KVI whose antenna systems are just above sea-level (Most of the time)  J

I was recently up at South Mountain dealing with some other issues.   A number other folks were there for other purposes…Among them, Bill Wolfenbarger.    Bill figured that we got acquainted back in 1969 when he was at ‘Colorful’ KOL .    Bill is one of the very few that has made the transition from Engineer to owner in this business.

BillW

One area where there will be a number of openings in on the technical side of this industry.    The average age of broadcast engineers is increasing at a steady rate.    I am not sure that those in management positions are prepared for what’s coming.    Likely most of them will want to hire another IT guy figuring that the old guy that retired or expired was not necessary anyway.

Those of us that work in the Broadcast Industry, and especially at transmitter locations, have a lot of words and terms that are used for something completely different on the ‘outside’….Here are some examples that come to mind –

Drive – Something that goes into an Amplifier – vs. That letter ‘D’ on your cars shift lever

Bias – A voltage used in RF Amplifiers – vs. Something to do with equality.

Hybrid – A device used to split or combine RF energy – vs. A vehicle that uses gas and batteries

Cavity – A type of filter used with RF energy – vs. Something you pay your dentist to repair

Filter – A device that passes certain frequencies- vs. Something you put in your coffee maker

Dehydrator – A device for creating dry compressed air – vs. Something used to dry out food.

Manometer – A device for measuring pressure difference – vs ….(Not sure I want to go there)

Racks – Device for holding equipment – vs……(More slippery slope)

Transmission Line – A device for moving radio frequency energy to various locations within a

transmitter plant – vs …The device that moves coolant from your cars transmission to the radiator.

UPS – Uninterruptable power supply – vs. A competitor to FedEx

Coax – Short for Coaxial Cable – vs. to urge

Tuning – Adjusting a transmitters performance – vs. Something you do to a musical instrument

Propagation – Radio waves in space – vs. making more creatures

Level – The amplitude of a signal – vs.  Something to determine whether something is the same

distance from the earth at both ends.

For those of you that still work with, or remember, Vacuum Tubes –

Plate – Anode of a vacuum tube – vs. Something you eat off of.

Grid – Control device in a vacuum tube – vs. Something that goes wrong when the lights go out.

Screen – An element within a Tube – vs. Something to keep out insects

And the list goes on – (Got an addition – let me know)

How about some memories ?   Take a look at this old Test Pattern – Complete with Dumont on the lower right.    When I first got into school to learn about this stuff – The school had a bunch of old Dumont field equipment (lucky we never fired it up).   Thing I recall most about that old stuff was how they switched video sources – (It was before fader-bars)    One of the cases contained the ‘switcher’ which consisted of an A-Scope and a row of pots.  In those days video source changes were handled in much the same way as audio.

Old TP

For the first time the Washington State EAS Committee ( The SECC ) will be meeting in Eastern Washington.  Historically the majority of our meetings have been at the Washington State Emergency Management facility at Camp Murray with occasional gatherings at the NWS facility at Sand Point.   On May 13th the SECC will be meeting in Ellensburg at Kittcom.    The highlight of this meeting will be the voting on our proposed new State EAS Plan.   There will be many other items on the agenda, for sure. If you would like to attend,  I’m sure there will be car-pooling from North Bend.  If you would like to participate by phone you will be able to do that too, just as usual.   Details and a meeting agenda will be distributed on the State EAS Remailer May 10th or 11th.

Marlin Jackson (KXLY), Tim Schall (Now with Townsquare Media) Don Eckis (WSU/NWPR) and I met in Ellensburg recently to deal with EAS Monitoring Assignments.    A great deal was learned about the FCC’s role in EAS via my participation in a recent CSRIC Committee….As a result, we have revised Tabs 5, 6 and 14, our meeting was to deal with those issues.   Afterward we had an enjoyable lunch where Don wanted us to know that KEYG in Grand Coulee was the best radio station by a ‘Dam Site’.

After skipping the last couple of years….I managed to make it to the big show in the desert this year and attended the NAB Convention.  The principle reason I was there was to participate in a number of EAS related events.    Both of the Federal agencies involved with the EAS where there in force – FEMA as well as the FCC.   I am very pleased with the leadership in the other Washington these days.

Having not been to Las Vegas in a couple of years….Here are some impressions – I flew Alaska and landed at a brand new terminal (very nice) was met by Richard Rudman whom I spent most of the time with during my stay (he was my ground transportation).  We stated at a hotel south of the strip that was not served by convention busses etc…Perhaps we were the only broadcasters in the place?.   The strip has changed with a huge increase in the use of glitzy electronic signs.    You think the video billboards around here are impressive – they are toys compared to what they have there now…You almost need sun-glasses at night to view them.    Seattle has their waterfront ‘Wheel’ …Las Vegas has a new one too, theirs is, as you would suspect, huge.   I attended the Nautel NUG meeting where they showed off their new GV series of transmitters ….They certainly raised the bar again (Understand Hubbard is buying one for installation on West Tiger Mt).  One name was missing at this year’s show – Harris.   One the transmission side they are now known as Gates-Air as the name Gates is re-cycled.   I only had part of Monday and Tuesday to look at the ‘toys’…and, as usual, just about all of the LV Convention Center was filled.  Attended the SBE Frequency Coordination meeting…As usual someone is trying to mess with the 2-Gig TV Eng Band.   I stopped by the Magnum Tower booth where I learned that indeed it was the Ron Smith that worked on towers in this area for many years that died in a fall from a tower in Texas earlier this year.   Attendance was reported to be just under 100,000 with over 1700 vendors showing their wares.   I was constantly reminded just how many people I know.   After spending 10 years on the SBE National Board,  and attending a great many of these events, you get to know a lot of people…frankly, more recognized me than the  other way around…Which is good because at this point in life it’s nice that my face somewhat looks the same.   The SBE had their 50year celebration meeting where they showed a video telescoping the history of the society.   I made it in one frame being presented an Engineer of the Year Award a few years ago.     Dinners in Las Vegas are always a treat as there are a large number of wonderful places to eat.  The highlight of one dinner was Al Kenyon explaining undersea cables.    The good news is all the walking equalized all the calories I consumed and I came back weighing the same.   The weather was decent too – No blistering heat or sand storms.  On Wednesday night I attended the Amateur Radio reception.  Am happy to note that our own BSW was one of the sponsors.   As usual, I did not win anything…however Betty Dalke did…. That was close as we were at the same table.    I’m part of the EAS group called the BWWG (You can look it up) and already plans are being made by our leader, Richard Rudman, for next years event….So, perhaps, I will return – One more time.

Some people In the news  – Nick Winter was laid off from his position in the Engineering Dept. at KPLU…He is now looking for opportunities.    Doug Fisher, who has lived in Longview for many years is moving to Olympia.    Working with Doug’s ComTek service is Alex, Jim Dalke’s Grandson.  Doug is looking to hire a Tech.    Tim Schall is now getting settled in with Townsquare media with radio responsibilities in Yakima and Tri-Cites (he has recently been very helpful with our State EAS program) Understand Channel 9 is still looking to fill the position he left.    Buzz Anderson is doing some work with Bill Wolfenbarger in SW Washington.  WSU still has an opening in Pullman.

The following is a picture of the KIRO-FM transmitters at West Tiger Mt.   A lot of history here – These rigs were first installed at KNBQ at Indian Hill near Tacoma.   In 1987 Nick Winter and I moved them to the present location where they were the first FM station on that mountain.  Later, under Viacom, the station became KBSG.   These two venerable Continentals were part of the first production run at the Dallas Continental factory, hence the mixture of Collins Gray and Continental beige.   In  the present mode the transmitters operate in parallel.  The station is hoping to purchase a new transmitter this coming year.

973WTM

Another passing to write about this month – I’m sad to report that Jon Marcinko passed away on April 25th.    Jon did not work in Broadcasting,  however,  he managed to touch many who did.    I first met Jon via Amateur Radio back in the early 70’s.    He and I went on to become friends and together formed the WWARA …The organization that handles frequency coordination for Amateur Radio VHF and UHF repeater systems.     Jon worked mainly in the area of 2-way radio spending many years with Radio Systems on South Weller St (Where he worked with the late Arne Skoog)…later working with State DNR and DOT.   Jon was a wealth of knowledge and, for those that knew him, a lot of fun.   One of the most memorable times I recall was when we had made the change in channel spacing on 2-meters to 20 KHz and the folks in Texas were considering doing the same and asked us to come down and attend their meeting.   The next day he and I drove to Austin Texas.    Jon was a member of our 6 meter repeater group that we called Channel 1 (because the spectrum used was TV Channel 1).   Thanks to the efforts of Nick Winter, the call letters for our little club have become W7FHZ, Jon’s original call from which he earned the nick-name – Fuzzy.

Working for the Murrow College at WSU the last 4+ years I have become more aware of the Murrow Awards that are handed out each year.   Some winners need mentioning – In Region 1 which includes Washington, Oregon and Idaho – Overall Excellence in the large market category:  Seattle– KIRO-FM and KOMO-TV.    In Region 3, which includes Colorado – Denver – KOA-AM and KCNC-TV.   There are many more winners  in various categories .    Another award given to radio stations is the annual Crystal Awards.  The winners were honored at the annual NAB Show Radio Luncheon.   Interesting to note that no station in this area was named….In fact, the only station on the ‘Left-Coast’ to pick up a Crystal was KHHT-FM in L.A.

Sure sounded funny seeing this on ABC News….On April 16th they ran a story about the worst jobs in America….Coming in at #196 was – Broadcaster.      Considering the turmoil in this business in the last few years, I wonder how many of you that work in this industry would recommend your kids follow your footsteps?   Unfortunately, Broadcasting has lost it’s luster – Not only are jobs in broadcasting on the low end of the list…but when the Feds are looking for someone to blame – Guess who is charged?   Yep, tis us.   Take the matter of the killing of birds.   Likely due to objections over the way towers look, broadcasters became the bad guys on the block because those awful towers were killing our feathered friends.    If you dig a bit deeper into this picture you find that towers may account for a dead bird once in a while (Frankly I’ve rarely seen a dead bird at the base of a tower after over 50 years of looking).  So who are the REAL criminals in this caper?   The biggest serial killers are buildings and windows.   I think we have all experienced a poor bird crashing into a window.   Next on the list are High Tension Power Lines, followed by Cats and then Moving Vehicles (yes, I have killed a number of birds, perhaps because I was driving the wrong direction?)..Then comes Pesticides…And …Then….Communications towers.   Below towers, surprise surprise, comes Wind Turbines.     Is it not interesting, and telling, that those Towers and Turbines kill less birds but get all the blame for their deaths?   Oh yes, whose survey is this ? None other than the US Forest Service.

Always interesting when any radio or TV program hits a landmark.   Can you believe that SNL is about to celebrate 40 years?   Then there is Meet the Press which goes back to 1945.  Nothing however comes close to the Grand Old Opry that goes back to 1925, but that was slightly before TV.

Time to look again at things we in this area can brag about ….A survey was recently released on the 9 best states for retirement.   The writers considered factors like income potential, taxes, cost of living etc.    Scoring 7 out of 10 was Washington State.     What they did not elaborate on was – where – in Washington.  I have to think that the cost of living in many Eastern Washington towns is considerably lower than the Seattle area.   Scoring even higher was Wyoming for their low taxes and housing costs.

Another measure of how our area stacks up comes from Gallup.   A measurement called the ‘Economic Confidence Index.    Using that ‘yard-stick’ WDC and San Jose are tied for #1…Followed by metro San Francisco, Minneapolis-St Paul and then – (Fanfare please) at #4 – Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue.

Another survey looked at the least obese US cities – Sorry Seattle – We must be consuming too many high octane/calorie coffee drinks – However, Bellingham did make the list, as did Boulder, Co.  Let me know if someone shows up at an SBE Chapter Meeting to measure BMI’s….I’d better skip that meeting.

Here’s something you don’t hear about very often …US Marshals shutting down a pirate (unlicensed) radio station.   Took place in Boston.    Interestingly you can look on the Internet for the best frequency for an un-licensed station in the Seattle area and quickly see that 101.9 is your best bet.   Apparently others do just that.   Recently when driving thru North Bend I heard one running what sound like audio from old TV programs.    In the Kent area there is one on that frequency running some sort of Latino program.     I have to wonder where the pirates will go when all the LPFM’s get on the air…Hmmmm seems to me there a quiet frequency on the AM Band….At least in Kirkland.  What do you want to bet………………….

Finally some overdue recognition for the inventor of FM Radio Major Armstrong near the famous Alpine tower near Yonkers, N.Y. where the major demonstrated to the world FM on 42.8 a very nice plaque.    Wonder what Armstrong would think today with AM rapidly falling to FM ?    Speaking of which the FCC has received a number of comments in its effort to revitalize the historic band.   In my view there is little the Commish can do, from a regulatory standpoint, that will increase the business viability of the band.    There are a number of reasons why AM stations are dying, to some extent I submit that this is a natural process that should be left to play out.    My guess is that in 20 years we will see a considerable reduction in the number of AM stations.    Perhaps what the FCC should do is let this process play-out and, in the process, permit upgrades (more power less directional antennas etc.) for those that survive.   I am certainly old enough to remember when the number of AM’s was much less than it is now. In those days I recall spending many an enjoyable evening listening to stations from all over the country…The FCC responded to applications for more stations to the point that the band, in many cases, became over crowded.   Perhaps, In years ahead, the FM band will go through something similar?

A new radio talk format?    Perhaps.   Word is an AM Station in WDC has changed to ‘Libertarian Talk’.     With our areas apparent acceptance of Conservative Talk  Radio …Perhaps we will see it here too?

Read something recently about how utilities are facing a ‘brain-drain’.  A recent piece in Forbes points out how utility companies are faced with half their engineers becoming retirement eligible this year.  Hmm – That sounds familiar, does it not?     Not all is rosy in the world of Engineering in this area, especially if you work for Boeing who has apparently figured that they can save a lot of money by hiring engineers in states where wages are not as high.    Boeing has been teaching us all to not be complacent and to better understand that a company will go wherever to lower their costs.   The bottom line will always trump history and labor unions.

KING-TV surprised more than a few when they recently announced that their home-team-home was up for sale.   Apparently the new owners of the station(s), Gannett, have determined that they don’t need that much room.   The question now is – Where would they go?    If they are like others that have changed locations…they will come up with a place where there is no microwave path between the studio and transmitter.  Apparently the move is being fast tracked so we should find out soon.

The little station in Forks has applied to move their FM (KBDB) off their AM tower to a higher elevation site.    That’s a great move for the Twilight Town station as there is little population density in that corner of the world and greater coverage will be an asset.

The new World Trade Center building in NYC has become a magnet for those that want to climb it…or jump from it…This has resulted in the head of security resigning (or so they say).  We’ve long heard of the term ‘attractive nuisance’ …When it’s in the biggest city in the country and 1776 feet tall…it’s bound to happen.

Another loyal member of the Octothorpe Society,  Dwight Small,  contributed the following link.   Now you too can become additionally ‘enlightened’  – http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-oct1.htm

Did you ever wonder where the word ‘Engineer’ comes from ?     The origin is from a Latin word meaning ‘cleverness’. … Wikipedia defines it this way –

An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics, and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical, societal and commercial problems. Engineers design materials, structures, and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality, regulation, safety, and cost.  The word engineer is derived from the Latin roots ingeniare (“to contrive, devise”) and ingenium (“cleverness”).

Perhaps we need to temper this a bit and reflect on other occupations where the work engineer is used -   Sanitation – Locomotive- Flight etc.    Then there are questions about those that are P.E.’s.   Can you be a Professional Engineer if you are not employed?

Time to close this edition …I leave you with this contribution from Alan Lentz –
I thought you would want to know about this e-mail virus. Even the most advanced programs from Norton or McAfee cannot take care of this one. It appears to affect those who were born prior to 1965

Symptoms:

1.. Causes you to send the same e-mail twice. Done that!

2. Causes you to send a blank e-mail! That too!

3. Causes you to send e-mail to the wrong person. yep!

4. Causes you to send it back to the person who sent it to you. Aha!

5. Causes you to forget to attach the attachment. Well darn!

6. Causes you to hit “SEND” before you’ve finished. Oh , no not again!

7. Causes you to hit “DELETE” instead of “SEND..” And I just hate that!

8. Causes you to hit “SEND” when you should “DELETE.” Oh No!

IT IS CALLED THE “C-NILE VIRUS.”

Catch  you next month, Lord willing, in most of these same locations.   Think Summer !!!!

Clay, K7CR, CPBE.

 

 

The KEØVH Hamshack For April 2014

 

                                                                                                                    Jack Roland

By Jack Roland, CBRE, AMD and CBNT

KLove /Air 1 EMF Colorado Engineering.

My friend Jeremy, N6JER, (and EMF Western Region Manager Engineer) was able to get his 5BTV vertical in the air and ON THE AIR here in March.  He lives in an area that has a lot of clay and hard soil, so driving the mounting pipe into the ground was just nearly impossible, until the southern California area received a lot of rain in the latter part of February early March.  So now, N6JER is on the air from SoCal on HF!

 N6JER Vertical                                                                                            5BTV Vertical at N6JER

We have regularly been talking on 40 meters later in the evening.  Great signals quite frequently from SoCal to Denver have made it a lot of fun.  Let me know if you are interested in joining us one night, and I will text you when we are on.

As I wrote last month, the Vintage Voltage show was a lot of fun and sure enough, I found another restoration project to work on.  I picked up a Zenith G-503 “Companion” radio from around 1953 as far as I can tell.  The radio is AM band only, and was built to be a “companion” to the Transoceanic series G500 shortwave tube receivers.  It sold for around 40 dollars or so back then.   I found it for 10 dollars at the show.  Beautiful AM only radio.  5 tubes in this radio,  a 1S5, 3V4, 2 1U4’s,  and the converter 1L6 tube.  All my tubes in this radio tested good and strong, except for one of the 1U4’s.  I will be replacing that one, and all the of old wax-paper caps, plus several resistors that were burnt along with some wiring when what looks like was a burn up of the original silicon rectifier.  It has been replaced by a glass diode and a 5 watt 150 resistor for the supply voltage input.  I need to make sure that those values are going to be correct for the tube filament supply and other voltages needed in the radio.

 

 G503 1

The unrestored radio, just dirty and needs some cleaning and electronic work

 G503 2

 

Underneath the chassis

 G503 3

A closeup of the mid chassis, showing the melted wiring and where the old selenium rectifier was originally positioned

 G503 4

The VERY interesting pulley system for the dial cord going into the “flip up” dial face.

The reason for this innovative system came about because of the tendency to leave the radio on, thereby running down the batteries, which was REALLY expensive back then.  Design engineers of the day had used several different ideas to remind people to turn the radios off when done listening.  When the dial face is up and forward, rig on.  In the down position, radio off.  Worked really well and as you can see was quite intricate with the system of pulleys.  VERY cool!

 

G503 5 

The Project laid out, ready to go

                                 I will be keeping you up to date on how this project goes.  “Stay Tuned”

AND, be sure to catch the latest episodes of Bob Heils “Hamnation” every week on TWIT.TV.  You will catch all kinds of interesting features and ham talk every week, just put in “Hamnation” in Google and it will take you right there. You can watch the show live on Wednesday nights or catch back episodes off the website or download for later playback.

Hamnation 

Bob Heil, K9EID, Gordon West, WB6NOA,

George, W5JDX, and Joe Walsh, WB6ACU

 This month, I had to show these QSL’s!

BB QSL 

KH6BB, the Battleship Missouri ARC at Pearl Harbor, worked 8/26/13

NJ2BB, Battlehip New Jersey ARC, worked 10/23/01

NI6BB, Battleship Iowa ARC, worked 2/22/14

 I just received the Iowa QSL card right before this writing!  I especially love special event stations on the air!  The next “officially scheduled time” to work these ships other than the club stations being on the air will be the “Museum Ships Weekend 2014”, to be held 0000Z June 7 thru 2359Z June 8th.  I will definitely be trying to add BB64, The U.S.S. Wisconsin (N4WIS)  to my QSL collection, completing my collection of Iowa Class BB QSL cards!  Look up the club websites to see when they might be operating!  I am also adding to my collection of Aircraft Carriers, Destroyers, Submarines and the like as often as possible.  There is a big list of Museum Ships on the air at www.N4WIS.org/Museum_ships.html.

From EMF VP of Engineering Sam, KG6BZU:

I ran across these today… some require a bit of thinking, but are fun!

1.            Entropy isn’t what it used to be.

2.            Q.                How can you tell the difference between a chemist and a plumber? 

                A.                Ask them to pronounce “unionized”

3.            Q.                Why do engineers confuse Halloween and Christmas?

                A.                Because Oct 31 = Dec 25

4.            Helium walks into a restaurant and orders a beer.  The bartender says, “Sorry, we don’t serve noble gases here.”  He doesn’t react.

5.            A Higgs Boson walks into a church and the priest says, “We don’t allow Higgs Bosons in here.”  The Higgs Boson replies, “But without me, how could you have mass?”

6.            The programmer’s wife tells him, “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread.  If they have eggs, get a dozen.”  The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.

7.            There’s a band called 1023MB.  They haven’t had any gigs yet.

:)

Sam

 

How about this “QUEEN” of an audio processor

 Processor 2

 

Look carefully!

Don’t forget the SBE IRLP (and Echolink) Hamnet, the first Saturday of the month.  AND the EMF Hamnet now is the same manner on every Monday evening at 7pm Mountain time for radio discussions, both broadcast engineering and Amateur radio.  Details on how to join are at  http://www.qsl.net/ke0vh/sbehamnet.  I hope you will be able to join us and share your engineering and ham exploits!

73’, God be with you, & see you next time!  KEØVH

 

March 2014 Meeting Report

SBE Chapter 48/SMPTE Rocky Mountain Section Annual Banquet

Date: Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM No Host Cash Bar, 7:00 PM Dinner, Reservations Required
Cost is $35 per person. Guests welcome.
Location: Lakewood Country Club, 6800 West 10th Avenue, Lakewood, CO 80214
Speaker: Jim Schoedler
Topic: Game Day Coordinator: the road to Super Bowl XLVIII

Each year the Rocky Mountain Sections of SMPTE and SBE have the pleasure of recognizing our industry peers for their efforts in our Broadcast Community. The recognition is our way of thanking the individuals for their efforts not only for their Broadcast Engineering accomplishments but for their time, efforts, and dedication to our SMPTE and SBE programs.

 

Speaker:
This year the speaker was our own Jim Schoedler, SMPTE Chair, who gave a great talk on “The Game Day Coordinator’s Road to Super Bowl XLVIII” replete with stories about the trials and tribulations he experienced with Andre Smith and other GDC volunteers during the lead up to and execution of the game.

This year’s banquet recognized Kate Landow, Gary Pasicznyk, and Andre’ Smith for their efforts as SBE and then NFL Game Day Coordinators. For the past 7 years they have supported local broadcasters by keeping the RF spectrum free of interference at Broncos games and other venues. We all joined in recognizing their accomplishments and hearing about the recent GDC trip to Super Bowl XLVIII.  Congratulations and many thanks to our honorees.

 

Sponsorship:
We would like to mention the corporate sponsors of this year’s banquet. These companies provide valuable service to the local broadcast community and are consistently willing to help with the costs of our events. A big thank you to:

5280 Broadcast
Burst Communications
BTX
Chosun Group
RF Specialties of Texas – Denver Office

The banquet presents a sponsorship opportunity for our vendors and friends and we appreciate your support.

The generosity of our sustaining members and sponsors helps offset the cost of our technical presentations and educational efforts throughout the year. The objective is to minimize the cost to our membership for attending these highly regarded seminars and presentations. Your money is well spent - click here do download a pledge pdf or make a PayPal donation from ourSustaining Member page or contact Rome Chelsi our membership chair.

Clay’s Corner for April 2014

 

                                                                                                                           

Providing news and views from a broadcast engineer’s perspective since September 1986

There are times that I sit down to write this column and have little to write about…This month is not one of those!     I almost don’t know where to begin.

Probably the biggest news was the tragic helicopter accident at Fisher Plaza that took the lives of the pilot and a KOMO-TV news photographer.     I’m not going to try and tell the story again, as you have all seen the pictures and read what happened.   Some things do come to mind however that I’d like to share.    1) Preliminary findings appear to show something wrong with the tail-rotor system as the chopper spun around and, according to some witnesses, made strange noises.  2) I keep thinking if they had been at ground level, and not on top and edge of a building, perhaps they would have survived?  3) Granted there are other stations that fly off their roofs, in addition to a number of flights to and from Harborview Hospital, however I can’t help but think that there will be calls to review the regulations that permit this.  4) I was very pleased to see how the other stations pulled together to carry this story as if it were their own crew that was involved.   A lot of class was shown!

The other big story of this past month is the Oso landslide.   Another tragic event that is still un-folding as I write this column.    This too has brought together a lot of people from a large number of agencies as they deal with the aftermath of this event.   Many have ranked this event up there with Mt St Helens and other natural disasters.    I have to hand it to Sno-County, they have their hands full, but from what I see, they have some very talented folks in Emergency Management.     Just like the other major events of this past month, those stations with news operations jumped in with significant coverage on both radio and TV.   It was heart-warming to see some of our major stations and groups work on fund-raising etc.    I did note in several of the press conferences officials were thanking the media.

I was talking with Ted Buehner  (Seattle WFO WCM) recently about this and noted that this event is very much like a tornado in terms of response.  Fortunately we don’t have big tornado disasters, and the flat-lands don’t have huge landslides, however there are some parallels.   Unlike tornados where the NWS  issues a Tornado Warning , or TOR in EAS lingo,  there was no warning that the mountain was about to come down.   The NWS however did note that the river level below the slide suddenly dropped telling them that a slide had occurred.  From this data an EVI or Evacuate Immediate EAS Message was issued.  Thanks to our area not having a lot of disasters,  we don’t put the EAS to use very often for something other than Amber or an abducted child. Unfortunately,  there are some broadcasters that likely did not run the message for reasons that only they understand.    There are those that feel the main purpose of EAS is to ‘run-tests’.  However the main purpose is to Save Lives ! .  With that in mind, here are some recommendations –

1 – Make sure that your station (or cable system) has it’s EAS equipment programmed to automatically forward urgent/lifesaving messages (There are a list of these Event Codes in the State EAS Plan)

2-  Do not permit your station to ‘sit-on’ or otherwise delay the forwarding of these messages, time is critical.

3- Don’t wait for someone on your stations staff to ‘voice’ the message to make it sound better or ‘more broadcast like’ – Again time is critical…it’s the message that’s vital – not how it sounds.

4 – Remember that potential victims may well be watching your TV or listening to your Radio station.  The goal of the EAS is to broadcast these messages – BY ALL AVAILABLE MEANS.   This means everyone runs the same message at the same time.   

5- Should a lifesaving message not reach someone that is injured (or worse) because you did not follow these guidelines…..How can you justify your position?

6- There will be more disasters, this is guaranteed – Please do your part.

7- Granted the FCC expects you to participate in the EAS, however you should be eager to do so not just to be compliant with their rules, but because it’s the moral thing to do.

A closely related topic is what are you, or your station, going to do after our predicted mega-quake?  I have written about this matter in this column several times and my concerns remain the same.   In general, I feel that the too many stations under-estimate just how bad this will be and how long it will take for stations to get back on the air and have failed to plan accordingly.   Just like the Oso Slide – Earthquakes have no advance warning…As they say in the Emergency Management world, they are self-announcing.     The Seattle times ran a great story on how long  disruptions caused by this big quake would last on March 9th.  If you did not read this – I highly recommend you do so…and use this as a basis for a serious conversation with station management.    Here are some example categories from that story of how long it will be before normal conditions are restored.

Ø      WATER SUPPLIES – 1 month to 1 year – (What is your staff going to drink?)

Ø      SEWAGE TREATMENT – 1 month to 3 years

Ø      ELECTRICITY – One to three months (How many stations have made concrete plans for running their generators for 3 months?   Or have multiple sources of fuel when everyone is trying to get it too?)

Ø      PETROLEUM DISTRIBUTION – 1 to 3 months – (What are you going to do to fuel that generator when your normal supplier tells you they can’t get it? ….You’ve planned for that, right?)

Ø      TELEPHONE AND INTERNET – 1 to 3 months – (How are you going to communicate with  your staff?  Remember that 2-way radio system that was junked in favor of cellular?)

Ø      FREEWAYS – I-5,I-90, I-405 – 1 to 3 years – (How are you going to get around?  How is your staff going to get to work?)

I recently read a local broadcast stations emergency plan and It a couple of things were clear –

Ø      The writer wrote this for something other than a mega quake

Ø      They assumed that Engineering would be able to fix anything.

Ø      The writer has a serious denial problem, or simply does not grasp what they must be prepared for.

Are you, and/or your station ready ?  

One of the biggest news stories of this past month was the missing Malaysian airliner.   This story captured a huge segment of every news cast and the lion’s share of CNN’s programming.    Technology has been a huge part of this story with lots of references to Boeing.  After all that airplane was built right here in Everett.   In the end, it appears to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.   The reasons why this happened will take perhaps a long time to sort out.   

Now, as they used to say on the air …. In other news –

NAB is just about upon us in Las Vegas.  After missing the last couple of years, I will be attending this year.   I’m involved with, as you might suspect, some EAS Related activities.         If you are an SBE Member – Be sure and attend the annual Membership Meeting in Las Vegas, certain a lot of celebrating will take place with SBE turning 50 this year. Perhaps I will see you there?

From the category of only the Navy would do it — They are replacing their Prowlers with Growlers !

One area where prices have come down is video cameras….Unless the camera you are talking about went to the moon.   It’s been recently reported that a camera used on a moon landing recently fetched over ¾ megabucks.     Wonder why they brought it back?

More statistics for our region…..This time a ranking of metropolitan areas in terms of economic confidence.   Washington DC and San Jose are at the top of this list with the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area coming in in 4th place.  Pretty cool huh?

Another recent survey looked at the best places to retire in the U.S.   Coming in at #3 was Bellingham.  On the down side they cited the fact that the cost of living is 9% above the national average.  In #4 was Boise,  Idaho.

Dwight Small at Entercom wants us all to know that the word Engineer comes from a Latin word meaning ‘cleverness’.    Having a little fun with this finding…How about the Society of Broadcast Cleverness.    SBE would thereby become SBC and IEEE would be IEEC etc.   Oh well enough of that.

Not exactly the Seattle market, however, our neighbor to the North, Vancouver is about to see new owners of a cluster of stations there with the CRTC approval of 3 stations there to Newcap Radio.  Newcap already owns 90 radio stations in Canada.

Will not impact the Seattle Market , however another merger has been announced – Lin and Media General will create the 2nd biggest TV group with 74 stations in 46 markets.

In the category of you learn something new every-day …The April issue of QST has a great article about how radio amateurs were relaying messages back the beginning of radio communications .  Yes, this was prior to radio and TV, we are talking 1916 and 1917.  I always knew the Vacuum Tubes were called Valves elsewhere in the world, however I had never heard the term ‘Thermionic Valve’.     This brings up the idea of using new, or different,  terms, especially when communicating with technophobes -  Stop using the term Vacuum Tube or Tube – And start calling the devices Thermionic Valves…and while you are at it …Stop using the work ‘Antenna’ and start using the world ‘Aerial’.   And, while I’m at it…Eliminate the word ‘equipment’ from your vocabulary when ‘Apparatus’  has a much nicer ring to it.

I have been writing about how I feel our educational system is in serious need of an overhaul, especially in the area of STEM instruction.     Here is something to ponder…A new study out of Stanford found that students that studied under strong language arts teachers scored higher in mathematics.  They did not have a great explanation for the findings other than to conclude that you must read and write to do math.    Hmmmm

Another big story this past month is that the folks that purchase the broadcast division from Harris will be dropping the Harris name and be bringing back the name Gates….well, sort of .    The new Name is GatesAir.    This brought a number of comments to the minds of many.    Most agreed it sounded much like an airline.   They have split the company into two groups the other being called Imagine Communications.    It will be interested to see how this looks at NAB this year.

  

You mention the words Pigeon Point to anyone in the radio biz in Seattle and they will immediately know what you are talking about…That tower in West Seattle that is presently being diplexed by 1050 and 1250 AM.     When I first encountered this site was back in the middle 60’s when I worked at KTW.  Pigeon Point was then the home of KTW AM and FM  as well as the 1590 Day-Site.    The big news is that the site is now owned by American Tower.   Perhaps making this the first AM site owned by ATC in this area?

Copper thieves struck a broadcast station in Longview where they saw the tower of KLOG, which sits just West of I-5 south to town as a source of the metal.   According to Doug Fisher, local broadcast engineer, the stations antenna is a folded unipole with its ground radials attached at the top of the tower pier. (Made they easier to see)   The thieves cut the strap away that was grounding the tower and some of the radials but then apparently touched something that was RF hot causing them to drop their tools and high-tail it away from the site.   Guess not too many drivers on the freeway are looking for copper thieves at 3 AM.    Fortunately, for them, the station is relatively low power (1kw) and not 50 Kw as the result could have been different.     As I keep preaching – It’s just a matter of time before copper thieves discover your radio or TV station.    I again ask what are you doing about security.  One technique that appears to be somewhat successful is to apply a liberal coating of asphaltic roofing product to every copper surface.  Not only will it hide the copper color they are looking for but will diminish the value should they elect to take the parts anyway.   One of on-line the discussions was joined by Kent Randles of Entercom in Portland.  In response to the suggestion that a fence with razor wire would be helpful, he responded that the bad guys simply cover the razor wire with a sleeping bag and climb over the fence…then use another sleeping bag around the tower feed (to keep from being zapped) and flex it until it breaks….(They likely understand that at some point the transmitter will shut down and then they are free to haul away their treasure).    Look at what is taking place with street light wiring being stolen – Meanwhile it keeps on….Even as copper prices have reach a four year low.

Hopefully this summer’s SBE Picnic will again be held at the KOMO AM Transmitter site on Vashon, I’ve not heard whether the sale of the station will have an impact on this annual event.   One thing has changed however, the name of the island is now better known as ‘Weed Island’ .  Apparently based on the amount of support voters there gave the initiative to change the Pot laws in our state.

Will Seattle get Googles 1-Gigabit internet fiber service?    Kansas City is one of the cities chosen for this new service.   Apparently for 70 bucks a month you get the super high-speed internet and for $120 you can get 161 TV Channels.     I can just see the battle for the consumer between Google and Comcast.   Meanwhile stories of TV viewers cutting the cord (quitting cable) are in the news frequently.   Interestingly the US is ranked 31st in terms of Internet speed in the world.   We are behind nations like Estonia, Hungary, Slovakia etc.  

I recently wrote about Aereo – Well the opposition of TV stations, networks and others have been successful in the courts with Aereo shutting down in Denver and Salt Lake.   This issue will likely be decided in the Supreme Court.

Once again WTOP – Radio- in WDC is the top billing radio station in the country with $63.5 million, KISS in L.A came in second with 61.6 and WHTZ in NTC was 3rd with 51 Megabucks.   Bet there are many TV stations that would be happy with these figures.

Congratulations to Gray Haertig and Bud Aiello on receiving the Association of Public Radio Engineers award for 2014.   They will receive their awards at the APRE/PREC awards ceremony which precedes the NAB Convention in Las Vegas.   I recall working with Bud during the early days of the West Tiger project where he was the DOE of the firm that then owned KMPS/94.1.   Gray is a legendary engineer making his home in Portland.   That home being the alternating location of the PDX engineers summer gathering.   Gray too has had a hand in things at West Tiger.

From the ‘It must be a broadcast station….but wait dept.’ comes this item –

Actually KAMG is a management company who has an office on 100th street in Lakewood, not far from the KVTI studios on the campus of Clover Park Technical College.     Looking, on-line, for KAMG I found that it is also a radio station (KAMG-LP) a low-power FM in Enid Oklahoma in addition to a number of other things.   

 On the topic of  LPFM….The FCC is kicking out authorizations for them in our area.  Here are some of them – (with thanks to Gord Lansdell)

Ø      Centralia – 106.7 MHz – 100 watts @ 19.6m

Ø      Bremerton – 95.3 – 8 watts @ 107m

Ø      Vashon (Weed)  Island – 101.9 – 6.6 watts @112.3m

Ø      Tulalip (Marysville) – 96.9 – 5.4 watts @125.7m

Ø      Brinnon – 101.1 – 21 watts @46.5m

 KLMY in Long Beach has been granted a power increase from 15 to 25 kW.  The station operates on 99.7 or first adjacent to KISW in Seattle.

 The FCC has once again underscored their authority in the area of EAS with a record setting $1.9 Mega-buck fine for using EAS Tones in an ad for the movie ‘Olympus Has Fallen’.    As the old expression goes…Perhaps that will get their attention.   Apparently not all are paying attention as a spot for a barbecue charcoal was released shortly afterward with….Yup, EAS Tones.   Think this one got pulled rather quickly.   

Unfortunately there are a lot of people that still have not grasp the fact that the FCC really wants their EAS rules followed.  Check out what the FCC has been issuing fines for and you will quickly learn that the Public File and EAS are the two ‘lightning rods’ for FCC Fines.    I recently heard from a station (no names or call letters will be used) that had not been receiving a weekly test from another station they are assigned to monitor.   There are a couple of lessons to impart here –  (Caution – I am not a representative of the FCC nor am I an attorney.  The advice given here should be verified)

  ON THE RECEIVING SIDE –

Ø      Everyone is assigned two stations to Monitor by the SECC

Ø      You are to monitor those stations (you can monitor more if you wish).

Ø      You cannot change those two sources on your own, this requires SECC Approval

Ø      Yes, the FCC gives the SECC that authority.

Ø      Your log is to show the reception of an RWT from both of those sources each week (Unless that week also contains an RMT or an actual use of the EAS as was the case with the Oso slide)

Ø      If you fail to receive two RWT’s you are to log that fact and are also to log WHY you did not receive the test.

Ø      Generally the procedure would be to contact others that are monitoring the same source to find out if they are receiving the tests (This information is contained in the Washington State EAS Plan Tab 10 for your Operation Area)

Ø      If you find that others are not receiving these tests as well, it’s time to contact that source to see if they are indeed sending them.   Sending an email to that source and not receiving a response is not going to get you off the hook…You have to actually make the effort to find out why they are not sending RWT’s….Even if this means making a phone call.

Ø      In the end, you need to log the results of your research that will provide the reasons WHY you are not receiving the RWT’s.

 ON THE TRANSMITTING SIDE –

Ø      Your station MUST transmit an RWT each week (at random times in accordance with FCC Rules)

Ø      Again ‘real’ use of the EAS can be substituted here

Ø      If you find that your station has not been transmitting these tests, you need to find out why and log the results of that investigation.

 SOME RECOMMENDATIONS –

Ø      All stations should be checking the operation of their EAS Equipment, at least weekly, to avoid having a problem be repeated.   Personally, I check these units I am responsible for, no later than each Tuesday.

Ø      If your station sends the RWT’s Manually, and you find that you have an operator or personnel problem causing you to have an FCC EAS Rule compliance issue….Seriously consider having your

EAS Encoder perform this task for you.   You will likely annoy someone on your staff, however, it sure beats having the FCC issue an NOV or perhaps an NAL.

Ø      If you have any questions about EAS and what’s legal and what’s not –

1-      Check the FCC’s EAS Rules (Part 11) They are pretty easy to understand

2-      Get an opinion from your stations legal department or FCC Attorney

3-      Post your questions on the Washington State EAS Remailer.

 Finally – What is the world is all this babble about Hash-Tag?     Suddenly I am hearing and seeing references to Hash-Tag all over the place.    I had to look it up and found that they are referencing the # or upper-case 3 symbol.    This is also used for the lower right corner button on telephone DTMF Encoders (Key pads for some).   Many call this the ‘pound sign’ or perhaps the ‘tic-tac-toe’ gizmo.

As one of the charter members of the Octothorpe  Society I wish to officially object !   This is yet another example of degradation in our society that has given us a generation of people that can’t spell or write and whose thumbs are suffering from repetitive motion damage due to texting and are prone to inventing their own names for things.   Further,  I would like to voice my public condemnation of Microsoft for their refusal to accept the spelling of Octothorpe to the point of not even offering an alternative spelling in their famous Word document preparation software.

What is the world coming to?  Ma Bell, rest her soul, must be turning over in her grave.

 Well that’s it for this month -  Think Summer !!!! ….Well it might help.

 Clay Freinwald, K7CR, CPBE

 

The KEØVH Hamshack For March 2014

                                                  

                                                                                                            

 

The KEØVH Hamshack For  March 2014

By Jack Roland, CBRE, AMD and CBNT

KLove /Air 1 EMF Colorado Engineering.

 

Greetings all! When last we left our story, the KEØVH Hamshack rebuild was underway.  It has since been completed (as far as the Hamshack part goes) and is operating.  I had lots of fun the weekend of 3/1-2 operating the ARRL DX contest.  I worked 20-25 countries in one weekend, including Guam and Luxembourg which are new ones for me (yep I will send off for the QSL’s).  A couple of weeks of work has the shack in the shape I needed and wanted for ease of operations.  I will be hanging pictures and maps and such here soon, but here is the progression of the “construction” phase since last month’s article.

 

 

 

 

Constructing the framework and desktop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setting up the shelves, mounting the computer (under table left side), and setting up the racks on and under the right side.

 

 

Continuing on and almost ready to operate

 

 

 

Operating the ARLL DX Contest March 1-2,  bookshelves and setup complete

 

At this time the audio gear isn’t wired up to punch blocks underneath the table and the SB-200 amplifier AC power hasn’t been hooked up yet.  The shelves on the desk are on tracks that allow the whole assembly to come forward for access to the back of the rigs and wiring, and the ground buss is assembled on the backside of the shelves too.  Really about like I have always wanted it.  The coaxes are routed behind the paneling as is the station ground strap.  The really nice thing is that the room is open and airy, my wife has plenty of room for laundry and her storage (she has been working HARD for the past month sorting, trashing, shredding, and getting stuff ready for donations from 30 years of raising children and family accumulations). 

 

This month on March 30th if you are in the Denver area, you should check out the Vintage Voltage Expo at the Ramada Plaza at I-25 and 120th Avenue.  I will be sending out an email with all the information from last year’s show this month.  If you are interested in more information let me know!

 

The Best Amateur Radio Vintage Voltage Music market EVER!

 

I would like to say congratulations and way to go to Skyler, KDØWHB.  He is 15 years old, and has just upgraded to Extra Class!  Skyler has also taken on the reboot of the AMSAT (Amateur Satellite) net here in the Denver area.  The net had been canceled awhile back and hasn’t been on the air for quite some time.  Skyler and another young ham friend of his are spearheading the net and here is the schedule locally here in Colorado:

The net meets

-7:00PM MST on the 146.940 and 449.825 locally

-Also linked to Boone, Pueblo, Pueblo West, Canon City, Cotopaxi and Salida Through all-star nodes  28298, 28299, or 29436, which can be accessed by the all-star web transceiver

-We currently do not have IRLP capability

——-

The Colorado Amateur Satellite net meets at 7:00 PM Mountain Standard Time locally on the 146.940 and 448.825 repeaters, also connected to all-star nodes 28298, 28299, or 29436. Here, we discuss anything that has to do with amateur satellites, the international space station communication, and more. Weather you have a lot of experience working amateur satellites, or new to it, and just want to learn, anyone is welcome to join. 

FOR SALE, a trailer capable of carrying OHV’s or snowmobiles, or other purposes!  Great toolbox, ramp, spare tire.  Let me know if interested!

 

 

As always don’t forget the SBE IRLP (and Echolink) Hamnet, the first Saturday of the month.  AND the EMF Hamnet now is the same manner on every Monday evening at 7pm Mountain time for radio discussions, both broadcast engineering and Amateur radio.  Details on how to join are at  http://www.qsl.net/ke0vh/sbehamnet.  I hope you will be able to join us and share your engineering and ham exploits!

73’, God be with you, & see you next time!  KEØVH

 

Clay’s Corner for March 2014

                                                                                                                               

                        Clay’s Corner for February 2014

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

Well….Phil was right !   The famous Punxsutawney Ground Hog predicted more winter….For many in the eastern part of the US this little critter has proved his worth as record breaking winter weather has been relentless.    Here on the ‘Left-Coast’ that big blocking high finally moved on restoring our normal winter weather pattern…Lots of rain in the low-lands and lotsa snow in the Mountains.  Recently Bellingham got a quick foot of the white stuff.     For a time, there was mounting concern that our meager snowpack was going to be mean bad news for our area that relies on the melting of mountain snow for water on both sides of the Cascades.     Down in California the situation is more dire with a declared drought equaling a condition not seen in a very long time…You can imagine how our area would react if we got less than 10% of our normal rainfall.  Seattle with 3.6 inches of rain in a year!!   I recall, many years ago, there was a lot of talk about diverting some of the output of the Columbia River southward .  Would not be surprised if this idea re-surfaces.    

 

More comparisons between Seattle and Denver after the Superbowl win by the Seahawks.   This time comparing our airports….Here Denver leads by a wide margin if you measure air-traffic with 1738.   Seattle is only half that size with 862 flights per day and Portland (PDX) is even smaller with 591.

MSN recent listed the 10 best cities in the US…Interestingly Denver came in #8 while Seattle was #2 and Portland was #1

 Looking at the Denver vs. Seattle matter from other perspectives –

 57.7% of Seattle residents 25 and over have a BS or higher degree….In Denver that figure is 44.7%

 The median annual income in Seattle is $64,473 while in Denver the figure is 50,488….Perhaps related, the median home value in Seattle $415,800 while in Denver its 251,200.

 Where Denver scores is in the category of average time for commuting, Seattle is 25.9 minutes while the Mile-High city checks in at 24.6

 Using Neilson…Seattle is a much larger market at #13 with a population of 3,585,700 while Denver is #19 with over a million less, 2,486,500.

 On a personal note – I can’t help but notice that two of the organizations I belong to are celebrating how long they have been in existence.    ARRL (The Amateur Radio Organization) is 100 (I’ve been a life member for over 40) and SBE is celebrating 50 (I’ve been a member now going on 47 of those years) ….This all happens when you get old!

The age of Lower Power FM or LPFM is certainly upon us.  According to published reports almost 3000 applications have been filed and over 1000 have been granted.    This process will certainly lead to the cramming of more signals in the FM band (Apparently we are to believe that this is a great idea because is enables more people to operate radio stations).  Here in the Seattle area, unlike much of the East Coast, the FM band is relatively free of adjacent channel issues.  You only get a sense of it when you tune below 92 Mhz.     An interesting aspect of this activity is now objections are being handled.   Existing stations, if they are at all concerned, are watching this process ‘like a hawk’.   Already in the Seattle area, some stations have taken action to prevent degradation to their coverage.   One of the casualties is certain to be the areas of bonus coverage that many have enjoyed since day-one.    I could not help but think of this as I was listening to KMPS-HD2 the other day in Port Angeles.

A lot of eyes are on Aereo these days.   Recently a Judge in Utah released a preliminary injunction against it.   In this case those that were against the start-up were cable and broadcast stations and companies.   This is just one round of a fight that is certain to have more…For the latest in this battle – Put Aereo into your favorite search engine and get the latest.    This is a battle that many are saying is certain to end up at the Supreme Court.

 From the looking – way back – department.

When I was a kid in Cub Scouts one of the most exciting things I got to build was a ‘Crystal-Set’ (Set was then used to describe a radio receiver).   Today if you were to attempt to do this you would go out a purchase a diode for the ‘detector’ that would be the heart of the project.   Back in those days we did not have that luxury as no one made any…Unless you wanted to use a tube and that would violate the rule of no external power.   What you did was actually purchase a crystal and use a small piece of wire called a ‘cats whisker’…with the set complete, and your headphones on, you would find the magic location on the crystal that would turn it into a detector and – viola – you had a radio!    It was not too long before enterprising folks started making crystals with an internal junction (cats whisker)   Pictured below is an example of what they looking like…way back when.  Yes this was an AM  only receiver…and that was OK because there weren’t any FM stations to receive anyway.    There are a lot of museums dedicated to the rich history on which the broadcast industry is built.   Take a few minutes and look at www.radiomuseum.org for a listing of where you can spend some time…Looking back.

 

 

The HD Radio bandwagon seems to be gaining steam with the news that, reportedly, 17.5 million HD Radios have been sold.   The safe-haven for Radio – Motor vehicles – is where the majority of these ‘sets’ are located and the numbers appear to be on their way up with frequent announcements from automakers that they too are on the ‘band-wagon’.     As I have stated, now is the time for Broadcasters to take another step and get those power increases up and running.  The last thing we need now is for tons of new HD Radio owners complaining about drop outs.  If you have any doubt about the value of increasing HD power – Go out and compare the local CBS stations that are running more than -20dbc with those that are not -  I’ve done it – Have you?   Another place where progress is needed is at the retail level.   How is it that many retailers still don’t have products for sale?    I did note a local TV spot however where a firm that installs auto-stereos was featuring an HD Radio model.  The spot clearly showed the HD Radio display on the front of the unit.

I probably had the same reaction as you did reading about the fact that 2.6 inches of snow paralyzed the city of Atlanta.     Gee, everyone know it would take at least 6 inches of snow to do the same to Seattle  J.   The impact on areas that rarely see snow and ice was certainly dramatic.   In the world of broadcasting the impact was, occasionally, severe.  Many FM and TV stations don’t have radomes or heaters on their antennas and were, as a result, forced to reduce power etc.    In some cases, the weight of the ice apparently was worse than their occasional hurricane force winds and brought down towers.   Here’s an example of a tall tower for an FM station in Augusta that ended up as a pile of scrap metal.  In this shot you can see the tower, along with its transmission lines, neatly folded and setting on top of the transmitter building, some is on the ground in the lower left.

  

Now if you want to see some serious ice accumulation….Think about what it looks like where spilled water comes out of one of our local hydroelectric dams in the mountains near here. (W7AML Picture)

Not exactly broadcasting news, however I could not help but notice Sears is pulling out of their historic location in Sodo (South of Downtown Seattle for non-locals) where it’s operated for over 100 years.   The building has been more recently thought of for Starbucks whose logo is the one that catches your eye.      We’ve seen a lot of coming and going in that area.  Gone are the Rainier Brewery (even though the big –R- is back)…Amateur Radio Supply left quite a while back.    The KAYO studio and tower used to set just north of 4th and Lander.    We had many SBE meetings at Andy’s Diner and just down the street on 6th, many a Cougar Lunch was held. Incoming have been two huge sports stadiums (Safeco and C-Link) and more recently the area has seen an influx of car dealers.

From the department of  – What took them so long –NAB recently said that Broadcasters and wireless operators should not be designated a co-primary spectrum users by the FCC…To which I say – DUH !.     Seems to me that the FCC is trying to reduce their own injuries by coming up with these sharing arrangements that have the effect of telling completing industries to duke it out themselves.     This would be like the Feds declaring they no longer want to protect certain lands for particular uses and telling preservationists and industries that would like to log or mine those lands that they will become co-primary users…..Good luck.   This is not what I call spectrum management – What do you call it?   Certainly Canada and Mexico are watching this battle wondering how these decisions will impact their spectrum users.

Here’s something you don’t hear about very often.   CBS requested permission to erect another tower on the site of WPHT-AM.   Certainly there were residents that expressed concerns about radiation etc., but in the end, the Zoning Board voted 7 to Zip to approve it.   Towers are, of course, devices designed to cause harm in the minds of many…..Just look at the battle in Everett.  I recall, many years ago, erecting a Ham Radio tower in my backyard.  Before I put any antennas on it, some neighbors stopped by to express concerns about various issues.  Gotta wonder how the wireless folks were able to erect a zillion towers across the country.   

Meanwhile, just to the North of Seattle the battle of Point Roberts continues .   What makes this interesting is that the FCC has approved the application for the multi-tower array for KRPI leaving final approval with Whatcom County.   The site is on a little finger of real estate that sticks into US territory from Canada.  In fact, the only way get there (by land) is to drive into and out of Canada.    The residents of Tsawwassen, just across the border (in B.C.) are really up-set.  As is the case with many issues involving these matters, the objectors express concerns about health.   You would think that, but now, with zillions of AM Radio towers all over the world that the health impact would have been resolved long ago.   It may have been, but to the residents near this site, it’s a focus of their concern.    Wonder if this would have been handled different if the station were owned by CBS?

 

The Seahawks participation in the Superbowl had a major impact in this areas TV viewing.  It was reported that 2.5 million local viewers tuned in and the game had a 56.7 rating and a 92 share.    That will go down in the record books for sure.    The victory parade was hugely popular too.  My #1 Son lives in Boise and is a huge Hawks fan in a city that has a lot of Bronco support.  He called me the day before to announce that he and Teresa want to come over to the parade.   He got off work at 7 PM and showed up at 315AM for a couple of hours sleep…In then took them to the Sounder Station here in Auburn.   Wow! …I’ve never seen that many people waiting for a train.   Understand ridership hit an all-time high.   Even the Washington State Ferry’s reported record breaking crowds coming from the West to witness this historic event.

One interesting aspect of this event was that the Cellphone systems crashed.   Apparently lots of people trying to send pictures to their friends etc.   Last time I recall that taking place was after the Nisqually Quake..    The reliance that the average person places on these devices to work whenever they want them is interesting.   Explaining terms like ‘Concentration Ratio’ or not using them so they would work should someone get hurt etc. does little good.  I have no idea how you could discourage people from using their phones in events like this.    Certainly radio and TV were there, albeit, with, in some cases, with not a lot of planning time.  

If you think that Radio is dead – Get your head around this item –   Neilson recently reported that 92%  of Americans over 12 years of age listen to Radio…..or 242 Million are listening each week.   No word on how many of those are listening to AM however.

It’s been some time since an AM station went dark around here…but it looks like that time has come again.    This time it will be KARR in Kirkland.   Their transmitter site, located on Kirkland’s Rose-Hill is surrounded by residential uses, and a church.  The location is the home of KARR (1460) as well as the night operation for KKDZ on 1250 all sharing some 6 towers on the site.  Apparently neither station owns the land and the land owner determined that it’s time for a change.

KARR, operated by Family Stations has announced that the end of February they will be off the air.  KKDZ has apparently filed for an STA to operate nights from their West Seattle day site.

There are a number of items to consider when you think about this story.   First is, of course, not owning the dirt under your business can be risky should the dirt owner wish to do something different when your lease runs out.  Second is having an multi-tower AM in a residential area like Kirkland where demand and prices are high is not good..   This is likely why the 3 AM’s to the South of Bellevue (near Factoria) are likely safe.  They are in a swamp that is un-likely to see any development. 

Even if the station had owned the dirt, the value of the property would have likely exceeded what they could reasonably make in this day and age of diminished returns from AM station operations.  I understand that houses in that area are selling for north of 500K.  Across the country AM’s are going dark for similar economic reasons.  

The question is now will KARR find a site and  ever return to the air?   I guess only time will tell, but it does not look good.     As for KKDZ.    I recall working there, many years ago, when it was KTW.  Back in those days, they didn’t have a night-site and the station signed off at sunset to protect KWSU in Pullman.  Likely if they do operate Non-Directionally from their Pigeon Point transmitter site, it will be with very low power and hey will essentially be a Day-Timer again.   

Every once in a while you hear about one company purchasing another and you wonder how they came together.    Similar thoughts entered the minds of many as it was announced that Belden (The maker of wire and cable) was buying Grass Valley, known for their TV broadcast equipment.    Perhaps this is no different than when a venture capital group purchased Harris?

MSN’s Healthy Living segment recent stated that watching TV for 6 or more hours per day could take 5 years off your life.     My guess is that MSN does not own any TV stations…Guess MSNBC does not count any more.

On Feb 14th the FCC issued a public notice on what they call ‘Process Reform’…Let me quote from the piece –

The Report seeks to further the goal of having the agency operate in the most effective, efficient and transparent way possible. It examines the agency’s internal operations with the aim of improving the overall functioning of the agency and its service to the public. Based on both internal and external suggestions for process reform, the Report identifies initial steps in what will be an ongoing process of reexamining, and revising, the way the Commission does its work

 The Report proposes more than 150 process reform recommendations covering a wide range of specific topics.  For more info – Check out – GN Docket No. 14-25.

 I received an interesting email from Dan, WA7HTP [mailto:ru223w@hotmail.com] He is now the new owner of the old 1 Kw transmitter from Forks which is not(w) on the Ham-Bands.   Dan is looking for broadcast type (AM) audio processor for it – If you have one laying around – Drop him a note.

Recently,  in this column, I have been writing about what I view as a problem with our educational system….Especially in the area of STEM.    Now this from Gallup -  More than one-third of business leaders are not confident that U.S. college students are graduating with the skills and competencies that their businesses need.  

The FCC has been making noises regarding what are called JSA’s or Joint Sales Agreements.  This is where one station agrees to take over the sales for another market station (for a price). Obviously there are those that are concerned about this representing a concentration of power in two-few hands.  Looks like the new FCC Honcho, Tom Wheeler, may move ahead with regulations that would make these deals harder.    Interesting how the Cable outfits can buy each other and this does not create a stink…Is it just me or are the Feds up to something when it comes to broadcasting? 

Because I am a poor speller, I usually have ‘Spellcheck’ look at what I have written.   I could not help but smile at Word 2010’s suggestion for Superbowl  – - “superb owl’…Wonder what the NFL thinks about that?

Till next month – Thanks for the read –

Clay, K7CR, CPBE

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