Monthly Archives: January 2019

Clay’s Corner for February 2019

January 31, 2019
By

Clay’s Corner

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

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

The Great January 6th Windstorm of 2019

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

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

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

  • At 3:35 a.m. – Another message –

It’s taking longer than expected to restore your power

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

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

2-    Information was very sketchy and lacked much detail.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

How about a complete change to something pretty?

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

So what’s happening elsewhere –

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

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

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

Anyone else still using a Rolodex?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In this case, a very serious Ben Dawson.

 

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for the read!

As they say in Amateur Radio, 73

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

Clay’s Corner for January 2019

January 30, 2019
By

Clay’s Corner for January 2019

Clay’s Corner

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

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

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

 

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

 

Jim Liefer, President of SBE issued this statement

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

Putting things in perspective –

Note how big these are compared to the worker.

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Misinformation

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

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

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

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

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

Has this ever happened to you?

 

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

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

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

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

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

dabble in fixing archaic electronics.  That time will be

when us legacy engineers with considerable knowledge

in detailed circuitry workings eventually perish and give

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

plug-n+IBk–play commercial modules purchased from

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

part – if it is even replaceable.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

you now have the world by the tail.

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

transistors+ICY-.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then there is this –

Media Contact:

Brian Hart, (202) 418-0505

brian.hart@fcc.gov

For Immediate Release

FCC PLAN FOR THE PARTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

From the ‘something to ponder’ department

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

This all leads me to ask –

  • is dead air Zero?

 

  • Can there be degrees of nothing?

 

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

 

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

 

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

And from the Questions with few answers department

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Ø Wonder why the word funeral starts with FUN?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Ø How come Noses run and Feet smell?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Until then – May you have a wonderful new year !

 

Clay, K7CR, CPBE

SBE Member for over 50 years, #714.

 

The KE0VH Hamshack for January 2019

January 30, 2019
By

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE OLD and………….

THE NEW!

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

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

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

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

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

To All DMR-Obsessed HAMs,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Respectfully Submitted,

Matt

KE0LNU

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

And this from Jim KCØRPS:

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

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

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

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

AND, lets end the newsletter with some SUPERCUTENESS!

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

3 YEARS AGO:

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

4 YEARS AGO

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

5 Years AGO:

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

6 Years AGO:

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

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

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

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

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio.

Details on how to join us are at

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

 

I hope

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

Ham exploits!

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

The KE0VH Hamshack for December 2018

January 30, 2019
By

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

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

 

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

 

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

The Zumspot on my simplex frequency of 446.075 MHz

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Check out their line of amateur and professional products at:

http://www.connectsystems.com/

APPLICATION NOTE: UNDERSTANDING KEY PARAMETERS (of DMR)

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

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

Frequency                              Generic name    Generic Band

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://youtu.be/0CbWkfCA9tc

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

See past editions of the newsletter at:

                                                                    2 YEARS AGO:

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

3 YEARS AGO:

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

4 YEARS AGO

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

 5 Years AGO:

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

 6 Years AGO:

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

 

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

AllStar (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

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

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio.

Details on how to join us are at 

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

 

 I hope

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

Ham exploits! 

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