July 2016 Meeting: 25th Annual Lookout Mountain Picnic Luncheon

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Date: Friday, July 8, 2016
Time: 11:30AM to 1:00PM
Location: Lookout Mountain Park
Lunch: Catering by Bennett’s: BBQ Beef, Pork, Turkey, Coleslaw, Potato Salad, Brownies, Sodas
Cost: $12 suggested donation

_6006074This year, as always, we enjoyed another well attended and wonderful day atop good old Lookout Mountain. Rocky Mountain Front Range professional television, radio, broadcast, and film community members gathered again for our annual picnic. Some quibble about the exact number of years this has been going on, but but we figure this was the 25th year in a row we’ve enjoyed the event marking a quarter century! Originally, in the day when every station had their own antenna on Lookout, the picnic was held at transmitter sites.  We’ve been gathering under the pavilion at Lookout Mountain Park near Denver’s supertower to enjoy the fine barbecue catered by Bennett’s and to catch up with old friends and associates for at least a decade since we stopped baking on the roof of KWGN’s transmitter building.

_6006084This year’s picnic marked the start of our new SMPTE Chairman, Tom Craig of Rocky Mountain PBS, replacing the much appreciated and long serving leadership of Jim Schoedler. Along with SBE Chair, Shane Toven, announcements were made, sponsors thanked and door prizes raffled.

The gathering took a few moments to note the sad passing of John Switzer, former chairman of this organization, long-time video professional in the region and good friend of many of the attendees.

The Rocky Mountain SMPTE Chapter and SBE Chapter 48 would like to thank our sponsors for this year:
SAM, Quantum, Burst, 5280 and RMPBS.
Company sponsorships help offset the cost of this event and are much appreciated. This year along with the always appreciated t-shirts, coffee mugs and notepads, Quantum provided a grand prize of an Apple Watch which was embarrassingly won by this author.

The KEØVH Hamshack for June 2016

 

 

Hamshack March 2016

Hamshack Photo March 2016

 

The current layout of the KEØVH Hamshack November 2015 till now!

Greetings all, and Happy June to you! Happy summer to you!

I actually got a few projects going in the Hamshack this past month! Felt it was about time! And my last PET scan on May 19th which showed NO CANCER! PRAISE GOD! Thank you for all of your kindness, support and prayers. I am VERY grateful to all of you for your friendship and prayers for sure.

Here is a project I wanted to do for a while and now in an evening I got it done! My APRS box was getting worn and needed to be replaced. So I took this old Dewalt drill case and modified it to hold the APRS radio and Opentracker. Placing a cooling fan was easier on this one too, and so the radio inside will stay cooler on warm days. Look me up in my travels at either APRS.FI (enter KE0VH-2 in the “track call sign” box. Or go to: map.findu.com/ke0vh-2. The APRS.FI site will automatically update my track, you have to refresh the findu site to get updates.

 

 

 

Radio in Console

Dewalt

The new APRS box under the center console in the Ford F-250

radio cables

The radio, Opentracker and wiring. Note the fan right above the handle. Vents are on the front

And back of the box. All the wiring tucks neatly into the foam when the box is closed.

 

The KEØVH 75 meter and 5BTV vertical antenna’s with a beautiful thunderstorm on May 30th. This storm later produced tornadoes NE of Denver.

Storm

My 6 meter, dual band J-Pole, and ADS-B receive antenna and the storm

ham beam

6 meters has been open a lot lately, figuring on that of course during the summer months. There has been a lot of sporadic E as our sunspot cycle seems to be on the downswing. Pretty soon I will be doing a lot more with some of the digital modes including JT65 HF. I am already as of this writing have some fun with that on the low bands too. I am setting up my 75 meter antenna to work down in the digital/CW bands on 80 and 160 meters. I will write about that for next month’s article. I came up with a solution that I am rather proud of to make a “switchable” 75/80/160 meter antenna out of my current 75 meter dipole.

 

Speaking of 6 meters, I found this site that has current to the moment openings on the band and area of the world of your choice. I have been using this frequently to check on especially 6 meters openings and it works very well. 6 has been open a lot of evenings lately and as some of you may know, I really love 6 meters. This month is the June VHF contest, the second full weekend in June. Begins 1800 UTC Saturday, runs through 0259 UTC Monday (June 11-13, 2016). I am going to try to have a REALLY great time during this weekend.

 

Check out this site for all of the information. It is a lot of fun to play with!

http://www.dxmaps.com/spots/map.php

 map

I am using my Yaesu FT-857D in the work truck for communications as I drive around the state. I spend a lot of time of course while around the Denver Metro area on the Rocky Mountain Radio Leagues (http://rmrl.org/rl/) 449.650 repeater. This repeater is on top of Sqauw Mountain 30 miles west of downtown Denver at an elevation of 11,440 feet and has TREMENDOUS coverage. While out of town I am on the Colorado Connection a lot and also will be on various IRLP machines such as the KBØYNA machines on the western slope, Grand Junction to Ouray and across that whole valley. At home I have a Yaesu FT-897D and the Flex 3000 radio’s as you can see in the header picture of the article here. One thing I had been wanting since obtaining the 897 was a “FT Meter” which you can buy for $70 or so from HRO or even get it on Amazon. I started thinking though how about home brewing one? SURE ENOUGH, a lot of other people prior had the idea, and there are many sites dedicated to this, (http://mds975.co.uk/Content/amateur_radio_projects.html) even making a printable meter scale and face downloadable and scalable to your meter size, easily done with PowerPoint. So, here in these pictures you see my finished “homebrew” version 1. I am going to redo it with a smaller box and clean up the meter face.

FT

The FT-897 on the left, and the homebrew “FT-Meter” in action in the shack

Meter

usb gizmo

 

AND, now operating in the shack, the latest version of the RTL-SDR USB stick, this is the “version 2” available now. The latest version is more sensitive and has some other features. Here you see it in action in the Hamshack showing the spectrum around our KLDV 91.1 in Denver. It decodes RDS and to the left you can see the signal from Colorado Public Radio.   Now I have this one for the shack and one to carry with me in the laptop bag to see the spectrum at different sites. VERY COOL!

spectrum display

Plus it receives ADS-B signals so you can track aircraft. All of the software is free to operate these modes. All from one little 10-20 to More $$ USB dongles available thru Amazon. And with my homebrew collinear receive antenna I can receive signals from as far away as Nebraska!

planes map

Don’t forget the Monday Night Broadcast Engineering

IRLP (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

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

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio. The first and

3rd Mondays are also SBE NET nights. Details on how to

Join 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’ & God be with you. See you next time! De KEØVH

Clay’s Corner for July 2016

 

Clay's Heading

At the outset – A big welcome to Seattle to our newest Chief Engineer – Matt Green (pictured below)

Matt is now in the seat once occupied by now retired Dwight Small.

Guyatdesk

Lowell Smith photo

Then there was this announcement from Marvin Marcelo, GM of Northwest Public Radio and TV at the Murrow College of Communications at WSU –

It is my pleasure to announce that Jeff Snell has accepted the position of Director of Engineering and Technology, starting today.

Jeff started working for us back in December 2000 with the Washington Higher Education Telecommunications System (WHETS) program as a Computer Operator III and worked his way up to Systems Administrator for Northwest Public Media and The Murrow College. Jeff also obtained his master’s degree in Engineering and Technology Management from WSU while working full time.

From helping with the analog to digital transition in WHETS/AMS/NWPTV-NWPR, building out of all the new computer labs in Murrow and Goertzen Halls, the new radio control system with Colorado Public Radio, and the current TV joint master control move from KSPS to Central Cast in New York, Jeff has been an integral part of the many technological changes in our organization.

There are some big challenges ahead for radio, TV and The Murrow College, but I know that we’ll make great strides with Jeff’s leadership, technological background and passion for innovation.

The other big headline in Seattle broadcasting this month is the fact that the listeners of KPLU were successful in raising some 7 Million dollars to purchase the station from Pacific Lutheran University.   They accomplished this with a month to spare (In 5 rather than the allotted 6 Month) .   PLU has indicated that they will indeed sell the station to the new group and, apparently the folks at KUOW have agree as well. It is my understanding that the sale agreement was to be completed the last week in June leaving one more hurdle, application to and approval of the FCC. Once that is accomplished It’s likely the station will change call letters to further distance themselves from the University that owned it for some 50 years.   Consolidation of studio operations is quite possible in the future as the new operation attempts to keep operating costs in check.   Rumors are that a location in downtown Tacoma might be considered. Certainly costs there would be less than in Seattle where costs are rising to historic levels.     88.5 will be joining KING-FM in becoming the latest listener supported radio station in the Seattle area.   Interestingly both stations transmit from West Tiger Mountain using the same antenna.

Seattle is an interesting place.   For those visiting here the first time they are often struck by the number of homeless….and news of the, now famous – ‘Jungle’ under various portions of I-5 in the city.   I get asked – How could a city like booming Seattle have such a homeless problem?   I’ll admit it seems counter intuitive.   A lot of it boils down to the fact that many on the lower end of incomes have found themselves priced out of a place they can afford to live in the City due to the rapid increase in rental amounts.   There have been calls for rent-controls, however the fact is that rental prices are based on supply and demand.   Like a lot of things, prices will continue to rise until the either the supply exceeds demand or they are priced too high and the demand drops off. Meanwhile – Rental prices continue to climb and we see more tent-dwellers as well as more freeway congestion as people are forced further away from the city to locations they can afford proving that it’s often still more economical to put money in your gas tank than into where you live.

On the bad news front, KPLU engineer Nick Winter was in an auto accident in Tacoma recently totaling his 2004 Toyota Pickup .   Thankfully no one was hurt in the crash.   Considering that it had some 325,000 miles on it – perhaps it was time for a new ride…and that’s exactly what he has coming. Looking very similar to what I’ve been driving since late last year.

Last month I wrote about the little station in Forks upgrading their FM by moving to much higher terrain. Mike Gilbert reports the owners are very pleased with the results with the stations move to Ellis Mountain reporting the station is able to be heard all the way east to Port Townsend.   This is a huge improvement from the former location on their AM tower in town. The new site is at 2,654 ft. Considering the population density in this area, this a great move for the little station.

The owners of boats have historically given their craft interesting if not funny names.   I spotted this one the other day and just had to share it with you.   I’m guessing that the owner is into computers !

C Drive

 

KLSW (Very close to KISW) is now operational with their new Single Bay antenna at Cougar Mountain. Prior to this time 104.5 was using the Master Antenna at the site that was designed for use by a number of stations at the site for Aux’s backing up main transmitters on West Tiger.    According to Steve Flyte the new installation is performing very well.

Retired KIRO pronouncer, Central Puget LECC Chair and retired Coast Guard ossifer, Phil Johnson was recently suffering thru the weather on Kauai where he got to have a tour of WWVH.   Documenting the visit he sent me the below picture of himself standing in front of a 10 MHz transmitter (Phil on the left)

If it were me, I have a new sign made for the front of that transmitter – It would read

“10.00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 MHZ’

Wonder how accurate the clock is on top?

10 mhz

Another survey to report – This time the top –ten with the lowest risk from natural disaster.

Here are those mentioned in our area –

  1. Corvallis, OR
  2. Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA
  3. Bellingham, WA
  4. Wenatchee, WA
  5. Spokane, WA
  6. Salem, OR
  7. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA
  8. Yakima, WA
  9. Olympia, WA

Apparently those that did this research did not consider the potential for a major earthquake or volcanic event.   During my travels around the country I’ve found many that said they would not consider living in this area….Not, as you would first suspect, because of our wet weather, but because of their fear of quakes and mountains blowing up!

 

Every once in a while I run across an example of someone playing with electricity that probably should not be.   I have no way of knowing if this is for-real or was staged…Regardless, I got a chuckle out of it.

redneck

 

I just got my monthly newsletter from my power provider….urging me to save energy by replacing my power hungry lights with new energy efficient LED’s.   Then the idea struck me – All those big broadcast transmitters out there could save a ton of wasted power if they would just come out with vacuum tubes that, instead having filaments like light bulbs, would use LED’s   – (going into hiding now)

Consider the example of poor wiring that is for real ! BTW this is in South America.

wiring

 

The HD Radio bug has caught on with our neighbors to the north with now 3 Vancouver stations operating with the mode – 96.9, 101.1 and 103.5.   Programming for these stations new HD2 channels follows what’s been taking place in other US markets – a new voice for co-owned AM operations.

An interesting side effect of BC broadcasters (finally) installing HD Radio equipment is the impact on those markets between Seattle and Vancouver.   In markets like Bellingham, co-channel operation on a frequency used in Seattle is not possible, despite the shielding of the Chuckanut Mountains South of Bellingham. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuckanut_Mountains) However adjacent channels of Vancouver stations have historically been used for translators and other low power operations…..that is until those adjacent channels became occupied with HD Radio digital carriers.   This was the situation with a NWPR Translator on 101.3.   (First adjacent to a Vancouver station) all was well until the time that the BC station turned on its HD.   Suddenly the little FM operation in Bellingham was being covered by the strong HD digital carriers from the North.     Another factor here is terrain.   Bellingham is situated on what could be considered the southern end of the Frazier River Valley, on the other side of the ‘valley’ are the mountains just north of Vancouver, site of the markets FM station transmitters.     From the standpoint of the high power/high elevation FM station…Perhaps HD Radio has another, rarely-discussed, benefit ….It’s helps keep those pesky adjacent channels in check J

 

There are many waiting for more ‘shoes to drop’ in the process of re-packing the TV channels.   In some markets this is going to be impacting multiple use towers in ways that station and tower owners can only guess about.   As an example – Picture a big tall tower with a couple of TV’s and a couple of FM’s all sharing the structure.     Along comes the need to change channels for the TV’s.   Unless the TV stations antennas will work on the new channel – It will have to change. …and this is not an overnight operation. Structural and construction issues will come into play here and these could well negatively impact those radio stations that are, traditionally, mounted lower on the tower.   They could be faced with making decisions that they have never even dreamed about.   Going to get interesting.   Perhaps thankfully, this will not likely impact Seattle broadcasters due to the rather unique way our markets stations and towers are situated.

Another big story in the world to towers is the number of cases where a broadcaster has sold towers to those whose business is selling tower space.   Many of the major radio broadcasters have been selling towers, Alpha alone sold 200 of theirs to a firm call Vertical Bridge.     Looking back (I can do a lot of that) If a person had walked into the door of a station I was working at expressing a desire to purchase the stations tower they would have been openly laughed at.     Wow how times have changed.     A nice big positive hit to the stations bottom line is being viewed as a whole lot easier than a station trying to market tower space, an industry that most broadcasters know nothing about.

For years the FCC would slap the knuckles of a broadcast station for putting on the air a caller without first advising them of the action.   Now comes the story of a new variation.   iHeartMedia has agreed to pay $8.5 million to resolve an issue involving the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by -unsolicited – sending text messages to its radio listeners. Oops.

One of our markets FM stations has cellular equipment on their tower that recently was being modified to accommodate some new (G-Whiz) equipment.   I’m used to contractors posting some caution signs that are required by regulators.   In this case, the contractor did not just post a sign – He erected a banner to cover all the bases ! Frankly I found this moderately funny.

no trespass

 

From time to time I participate in conversations on remailers that are related to broadcast engineering. A recent thread dealt with the relationship between management and engineering in many smaller radio stations.

Ø         Those that manage radio facilities often have no clue as to what the engineer does -especially – if they stay on the air. Only when a station goes off the air, and management knows, or see’s that their engineer working to resolve the issue does his ‘value’ go up.

Ø         A lot of management is under intense pressure to better the bottom line, they knows that their survival is at stake. They are more likely to resist increased expenses unless they can actually ‘see’ how this benefits that bottom line.

Ø         In many case Engineering is looked upon like insurance.   A large percentage of management would stop buying insurance if they thought they’d get away with it.

Ø         The graying of our industry is viewed by many as an opportunity to cut engineering expenses based on the simple notion that younger people will cost less….at least initially.

Ø            Management is often not going to invest in a full time engineer any more than they are going to hire a full-time copy machine technician who will sit around waiting for the machine to break.

Ø         They are a whole lot more willing to pay for something that is broken to be repaired than to pay for someone who ‘ Fixes things’ to be sitting at a desk etc.

Ø         There is this universal feeling that it they can’t see you working, and understand what you are doing is benefiting the bottom line – you are wasting time and their money.   An example of this is the engineer that is working on a transmitter project and out of the studio/office for a few days…Often the manager equates this with being taken advantage of.

Ø         Some of this is the engineers own fault and is based on – How they dress – How they interact with the rest of the management team- how they present to others what they do . This is often a lack of willingness to ‘sell’ what we they etc.

Ø            Willingness to work-cheap is often a contributing problem.

Ø         In many ways this mistrust is like a spreading disease.   Either you work to regain their trust and turn your own ship around or you will suffer the consequences.   Yes, I place a lot of blame on the Engineer that may be technically sharp but also quite stupid when it comes to the politics involved.

Ø         Many have made the decision to stop working for one company and move into contracting or working for people part time.   Often this works better for both parties. Management is happier paying for specific work (no desk-sitting) and Engineers often enjoy a higher rate of compensation. With that comes increase levels of mutual respect.

Ø         Times have changed for sure – either you embrace change and figure out how to make it work FOR YOU…or you suffer the consequences

Of course there are likely to be other points of view on this topic – If you would like to express yours…I’d be interested…and I might even make it a part of next month’s column.

In this day and age of battery powered everything – Did you know that 90% of us panic about losing power on our smart phone.   LG had named this condition – Low Battery Anxiety.   Which reminds me –

How many of you are still using NiCad battery powered tools? I notice that the major tool makers are selling these relicts at steep discounts.   Meanwhile work is rushing ahead to develop more impressive batteries.

Ready for another survey ?   This time the question is – Which States have the best economy? This one conducted by WalletHub where the findings were – 1, Utah; 2. Washington; 3. California; 4. Massachusetts; 5. Colorado; 6. Delaware; 7. District of Columbia; 8. New York; 9. Texas, and 10, Oregon.

Washington has the highest value of exports per capita, $12,517, which is nine times higher than in Hawaii, the state with the lowest, $1,361 Suspect Boeing has a lot to do with this.

Here’s another one, this time from Forbes – Which are the fastest growing cities in the U.S.?

1-         Austin, TX

2-         San Francisco

3-         Dallas

4-         Seattle

5-         Salt Lake City

6-         Ogden Utah

7-            Orlando

8-         San Jose

9-         Raleigh

10-       Cape Coral, Fla

11-       Denver

If you been to Seattle lately – You can see it happening all around you.   The news around here is full of stories of how the price of housing is going out of site for those that want to rent or buy. With higher prices comes higher valuations and with that higher property taxes.   This hurts many at many levels.   Many are being force to move out of town for the simple reason that they are not paid enough to afford it. Then there are those that are retired and living on a fixed income – (this is where it gets ugly) .   All of this is a recipe for more urban sprawl fueled by those seeking prices for housing they can afford.   We’ve come a long way since the days of that famous billboard at Sea-Tac asking that the last person leaving Seattle to please turn out the lights.

For those of you that are science-heads – are you ready for the new elements ?   Apparently 4 more are being added.   Gee all those big wall hangings in science classrooms are going to be out of date.

For those of you that just have to know more – Go here – http://www.miningweekly.com/article/four-new-periodic-elements-named-including-asias-first-discovery-2016-06-09/rep_id:3650

With all the worry about health issues ….Why would you want to go to Rio to watch the Olympics when you can sit in downtown Seattle and see them to the West ?   (Ducking again)

We’ve all seen the pitch from the wireless providers for the latest ‘G’ – 3G, 4G, LTE etc. …Well fasten your seatbelt…Here comes 5G which is, according to its proponents, will give us network speeds 10 to 100 times faster than we have now. More G-whiz gizmos are in the pipe.

If you are presently working in the field of Radio Broadcasting…or are thinking about doing so… consider the fact that the number of radio broadcasting jobs has fallen over 25% since 1990.   Is it any wonder why schools in this area no longer off courses on the subject?.   Consolidation of station ownership has meant an across the board reduction in the number of jobs.   Helping to fuel this trend has been a significant increase in the use of computer technology.   Back in 1990 it was common place to have a radio station manned 24/7…today that mode of operation is increasingly rare.   On the technical side, consolidation has meant a large reduction in the number of engineers.   I recall when we were building out the facility at West Tiger Mountain. The first multiple station operation in the area with, at its peak, 11 stations under one roof.   We’d have periodic meetings of all of the engineers to go over matters of common interest.   Today such a meeting would only have a hand-full of engineers representing all licensees.   Just like a lot of other industries – Less people are doing more with less.   Generally consolidation has worked well for most owners (With a couple of very high-profile exceptions)   I could add AM Radio to this, but I think you all know what’s happening there.   Perhaps one could state that AM is broadcastings equivalent to newspapers?

On the TV Side there have been major changes as well.   Today we have technologies like robotic cameras and centralized and computer controlled master control operations replacing many. The idea of a TV station with only a couple of employee’s and no local studio cameras back in 1990 would be far-fetched.   Overall jobs in Television, unlike Radio, are actually up by less than stellar amounts.

Compared to the Print Media – Broadcasting is flying high.   In the Seattle-Tacoma area we have witnessed the demise of several daily newspapers and the dramatic reduction in size of others.   Compared to 1990 this segment has had a 60% drop.

Predictably the segment were we have seen the biggest increases in employment are those industries that rely on the Internet for distribution.

Want more information?   Check out – http://www.radioworld.com/article/radio-jobs-down–over–years/279004#sthash.5AO7N73F.dpuf

Bottom line – If you have a good steady job in OTA Broadcasting – Be thankful and consider taking a cue from those that bicycle to work by installing a rear view mirror on your glasses.   Personally, I consider myself to be a very lucky person having been employed in this industry, full time, since August 1, 1961. Hopefully I will be able to work a couple more years before hanging up my spurs – voluntarily !

Perhaps related to the reduction in the number of those employed in this industry is the matter of finding those that are willing to serve on the local. Chapter SBE Boards.     I recently posted that question to the Chapter 16 remailer and got this response from Bob Trimble –

Hi Clay.

In my discussions with engineers around the N.W. there is a lack of engineers who have the time or energy to add an unpaid part-time job that also requires travel to meetings. Most engineers work well over 40 hours working up to a seven day week. Many do not even attend NAB anymore.

The engineers in Salt Lake City do not even have a local chapter anymore because they won’t even take the time to attend a lunch or dinner meeting once a month (which is usually free).

Montana and Wyoming each did have a small chapter last time I checked, but the attendance is very small because the few engineers there are spread out roving around the state. Yet Oregon has three chapters that have good attendance because we can attract presenters who will do all three cities in three days making it worth their while to come to Oregon and that attracts attendees from the few engineers we have left.

Thanks!

Bob Trimble N7IYI

Andy Skotdal submitted this-

It would be interesting to compare the number of engineers in the area 20 years ago to now. My sense is it’s a function of fewer numbers overall, that creates more work for those who do participate, and then the workday responsibilities for those still around have grown exponentially over the same time. Thankless volunteer positions, no matter how noble or worthy, are suffering, and not just with the SBE. Look at SARA/PSRBA going away, and look at the WSAB evolution to Keith working out of his home with no assistant and also serving the OAB. But it isn’t just broadcasting. It’s also happening in banking. Two banking trade groups in Washington State are on the precipice because the number of local banks have dropped so dramatically. There is no good answer right now

Perhaps bucking the trend a bit – Google this item – National Radio Talent System

And – http://www.radioworld.com/article/hubbard-radio-talent-institute- starts/279024#sthash.FOnxpTKl.dpuf

Kudos to those behind this effort.

For those of us that used to go to the NAB Convention in Vegas every year…The Riviera hotel across the street from the             LVCC was a landmark – As you know the place has been closed to make room for more convention center – In the middle to this past month the demolition got underway with the implosion of the Monaco Tower.   All together there were 13 buildings in the complex.   $42 million is the price tag to make it all go away.

When you install an FM antenna on a ‘hot’ AM broadcast tower you have to deal with how to isolate the process from the AM Antenna…This is an application for what’s known as an Isocoupler.   Occasionally things go wrong…Like when the FM Antenna gets struck by lightning…In case of KWSU in Pullman this is what took place with, as you can see, considerable damage. Note how the top part of the enclosure is blackened in addition to the melted items….Things were very nasty inside!   The Isocoupler was replaced.

burned iso

West Tiger Mountain is scheduled for tower work on July 2-4 as KIRO-FM changes out their main antenna.   This will involve replacing the antenna that was installed at the site back in 1987. At that time, 97.3 was the first FM broadcast station on the mountain.   12 more have followed since.

In addition to narrow audio bandwidth, lack of stereo operation and less than inspirational programming, AM Radio is suffering with the fact that the average AM receiver cannot distinguish between the emissions of a stations transmitter and those of thousands of devices we have today that emit what is commonly called ‘noise’.   You often hear stories about –back when – you could pick up AM stations at great distances but it is no longer possible.   A common reason cited for this is poor receivers. Granted there is not a lot of incentive for the makers of consumer radios to produce super sensitive receivers…one of the reasons for this is the fact that what engineers calla the –Signal to Noise Ratio – is getting worse by the day. AM radio uses a system called Amplitude Modulation …Unfortunately sources of noise generate signals with the same characteristics .   A radio with greater sensitivity would only be better able to produce more noise for the user!.   If you would like to check this out for yourself – Here’s what you do – (Based on living the Seattle area)

Ø         Go out to where you park your vehicle and tune around the AM band noting just how many AM stations from Vancouver or Portland you can receive.   (You can down-load a list of stations in those cities from Radio-Locator.com)

Ø         Wait until we have a large scale power outage and repeat the test.

Ø         Drive out in the country and down a road as that has no power lines or electric fences (Goal is to be as far away from anything with a power line as possible) ….Repeat the test.

What you are going to discover might surprise you.   Chances are, without devices that are connected to the electric grid near your receiver, your receiver is going to perform a whole lot better. So what’s the problem?   The issue is that we have an ever increasing number of electrical devices that emit, or transmit, noise.   That noise directly impacts how well you are able to receive AM radio signals/stations.

This is not a new situation….In fact, devices that emit what engineers call RF Noise, used to interfere with receiving TV stations back in the days when the video portion of things was also using Amplitude Modulation.   Then, there was a lot of pressure to find those noise sources and deal with them.   Today, just about the only place where AM is used is the AM Broadcast band….and the pressure to resolve sources of noise is considerably less.

Then we add a couple more factors to the equation.

Ø         The number of devices that generate noise has exploded in recent years.

Ø         The FCC, who historically has dealt with this matter, no longer goes – in part because the Commission has changed from one that enforces rules to one that enforces rules only when someone complains.

Ø         The number complaints about noise on the AM Broadcast band is almost nil- and very likely limited to organizations that recognize the impact of it.

Ø         The average consumer likely fails to understand the source of the problem and simply chooses another means to receive their desired product (FM/HD Radio – Streaming services etc.) and never thinks to complain to the FCC.

Knowing all of this- the makers of all manner of electrical devices have been able to ignore any existing regulations that would limit the amount of radio frequency energy (aka noise) that these devices create.   Remove any enforcement of regulations and you have the wild-wild west.

Now comes this –

The FCC’s Technological Advisory Council (TAC), an advisory group to the FCC operating under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, is investigating changes and trends to the radio spectrum noise floor to determine if there is an increasing noise problem, and if so, the scope and quantitative evidence of such problem(s), and how a noise study should be performed. In this public notice, the Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) announces the TAC’s public inquiry, seeking comments and answers to questions below for the TAC about radio spectrum noise

I’m thinking that this is too little, too late.   Not only has the horse gotten out of the barn but he has been joined by a herd of millions of other horses.   Remember too that regulators are driven by complaints these days, i.e., No-complains – No problems.   Who is likely to put up a fuss because they can no longer receive an AM station without a lot of buzz, crackle and bizzaps?   I submit that those listeners have been chased away never to return…..But maybe I’m wrong about this.   Maybe the Feds will actually determine that enforcement of their own rules has merit.     I’m not holding my breath.

In the meantime – Several organization are weighing in – I wish them the very best!   For those that would like more information – go here – http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2016/db0615/DA-16-676A1.pdf

A TV station in North Dakota recently got into a dispute with DirecTV .   One of the ways the tackled the problem was by offering their viewers free TV Antennas.   Viewers had to go to the station and present poof they were a DirecTV subscriber.   The station ordered 1000 Antennas for the purpose.   This leads me to ask the question – How many TV Viewers today would be able to install an OTA TV Antenna if you gave them one?

In the world of EAS there is no shortage of ‘stuff’ going on….Here are the headlines- –

Ø         Our recent regional NPT came and went with a number of stations ‘discovering’ issues in their endec programming that needed to be corrected.   Hopefully all will be ready for the big nation-wide test coming this fall.

Ø         Don’t forget to keep your ears to the ground for news about the new electronic test reporting system called ETRS.   My understanding is that the FCC will be wanting us all to use this new system for the fall NPT.

Ø         Looks like we may not be having new Event Codes as suspected, at least in the near term

Ø         Happy to report that we have two new parties stepping up to lead local EAS committees (LECC’s). In Mason-Thurston long time local broadcast engineer, John Price, who recently retired to the Rochester area.   In North Puget, Jeannie Gilbert.   Jeannie is the wife of Mike Gilbert and former Editor of the Chapter 16 Waveguide.

Ø         Other volunteers working with our SECC include – Jon Kasprick dealing with Tab 10/Monitoring Assignment and new-comer Arlene Hand working on our Tab2 Data Bases of LECC’s and associated Emergency Managers.

Ø         The recent Cascadia Rising exercise revealed a potential communications gap between emergency management and citizens based on the assumption that broadcast facilities would not be negatively impacted by such an event.   Phil Johnson (Retired KIRO) as well as others are working on solutions to this problem. One possible solution is a means for emergency management to be able to turn on and broadcast through a local broadcast station.   Such a system has been installed in Port Townsend.

Ø         The next State EAS meeting (SECC) will be July 21st at Camp Murray.

Ø         Don’t forget you can stay connected to what’s happening with EAS in Washington State by subscribing to the State EAS Remailer – http://sea.sbe16.org/mailman/listinfo/eas-wa

This is now we distribute Plan updates, meeting notices, EAS news and more.

They say – One picture is worth a thousand words – I love this one of a monster generator at a big server farm.   For those of you into really big engines – Note that this is a V-20!

big genset

Well, my friends, that’s about it for this month- Thanks for taking time to read my stuff J

Hopefully, I’ll be back next month for another edition on most of these same computers.

Have a great summer !!!!!   See you on the 30th on Vashon for the annual SBE Picnic

 

Clay, K7CR –

 

 

 

The KEØVH Hamshack for May 2016

Hamshack March 2016

 

Hamshack Photo March 2016

The current layout of the KEØVH Hamshack November 2015 till now!

Greetings all, and Happy May to you! Can’t wait for summer this year! All kinds of good things are going on, projects, and by golly just plain living! Mostly just work stuff to report on this month, been too busy for a lot of hamming! Getting back into the swing of things!

Our Argo had a drive Chain Break in April going up Mt. Chief in Denver. Barry Thomas and Mark Smith of KXKL Denver, after yet another snowstorm in Denver the weekend of April 15th left lots of snow by Tuesday after snowing all weekend. And we needed to access the site for KLDV and KXKL thru 14 to 20 inches on Mt. Chief SW of Denver. So we hiked up the rest of the way and took the Argo back down with no left turn! That WAS TRICKY. But we made it and got the stations back on at full power, all I had to do was replace a filament fuse in the Continental 816-R 5C main K-LOVE transmitter. Barry had quite a few more issues, such as a dead rectifier stack in the power supply, but we got them done all in one day. Then had to hike down. I then took the Argo to the repair shop in Fort Collins to replace and repair the damage. Now she is as good as new, or almost ☺!

Broken tracks

The broken right side                                       The way it should be on the left side

As it turns out but not quite visible in the pictures above was the broken sprocket that had been damaged. If you drive an Argo with the “homebrew” “aftermarket” 24 inch snow tracks the manufacturer advises only make turns in low gear. That will reduce the stress on the chains and sprockets during a turn. Many in Colorado have these modified chains and evidently this is a common (and expensive) repair to be made. So I will be quite careful with this in the future.

 

See the Video of the trip at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sh5q3Dh7i64

 

Our friend Cris Alexander, W5WCA, has been working on a lot of translator setups here in Denver and around the Crawford Broadcasting Company around the country. Here’s a peek at the KBRT Los Angeles translator installation. Wow is it pretty! Thanks Cris for sharing!

Rack on Wll

The above is the weatherproof, temperature-controlled cabinet, bolted to the concrete block wall at the base of tower #1. Note the Cisco switch at the bottom. The two rightmost ports are the fiberports

– the one on the far right goes up the tower and the one to the left of that goes back to the transmitter building some 400 feet away.

Isocoupler on Tower

Here’s a peek at the isocoupler. We couldn’t find our supply of strap at the site so I used a piece of AWG4 ground wire to ground the bottom to the strap. (Strap is on the way to replace this)

All stuff on tower

Finally the day has come, and thankfully gone…….SUCCESSFULY now! The new GV-40 Nautel HD transmitter has moved into the Mt. Chief facility for K-LOVE! Much and many thanks to Alex Arpin’s MOST EXCELLENT crew from Colorado’s Galvanized Endeavours. These guys moved the old transmitter out and the new one in during one beautiful picture postcard Colorado day as seen in these pictures!

Trailer work

Loading up at the Denver storage garage            On the trailer ready for transport

Moving Transmitters

Getting the old Rockwell Collins 831-G 2a moved out of the building. Kinda tight past the Continental main and the KRMT Channel 41 TV transmitter. Note the side panel is off on the Continental on the right.

More Moving

Squeezing thru!            The new home of the GV-40!

 

At this point I was starting the doubt my measurements and really started to sweat out a bit on whether the Nautel would fit in between the Continental and the KRMT TV Transmitter. So while the guys were moving the old transmitter further out the door, I got out the tape measure again and sure enough, the measurements were still what the calculations showed they should be.

Old Box on Porch

The old transmitter on the “porch”.            And here comes the new one up the hill!

New xmtr coming up

 

Coming around the last switchback, and you can see 14240 ft Mt. Evans in the background!

First 2 coming up

Almost there!            WHEW!

Second 2 coming up

Lifting the old one out over the generator fuel tank from the “porch” and on out

Last 2 coming up

The “purdy” new Nautel GV-40 uncrated and ready to be loaded into the building!

As you will see in the next series of pictures, the process is reversed handling the new transmitter up and over the generator fuel tank. Boy this forklift machine was sure worth it for this trip. Daniel from Galvanized Endeavours did a masterfull job of handling the rig and RJ, Rafael, and the other guys with the crew were just outstanding! The old transmitter we figured weighed in at about 12 – 1600 pounds, the new one around 1900. The forklift had a 4000 pound capacity.

Here She Comes

Here she comes! A little to the right!

After Here She comes

Ready to go in the door. See the space between the TV transmitter and the Continental? 31 inches. With the Continental side panel removed. The Nautel manual says to remove the front doors and the rear air filters and it will fit.!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? This is where I started to sweat!

I Was So Happy

I WAS SO HAPPY! Man it worked, my measurements were all right, there was NO ROOM to spare either side, and we still had to take the door hinges off the GV-40! No, we didn’t have to use a shoe horn, but it was CLOSE!

View from the top

The view from the top, the Continental on the right, the GV-40 being maneuvered down the space, and the TV station racks on the left.

GV40 in place

 

And as of this writing, next week to be plumbed in and wired up!

Next month, more on the setup, and I am also working on a homebrew FT Meter (look that one up) for my Yaesu FT-897 and 857 rigs. Have a great month!

Don’t forget the Monday Night Broadcast Engineering

IRLP (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

At 7pm Mountain time (9pm Eastern) for radio discussions, both Broadcast engineering and amateur radio. The first and

3rd Mondays are also SBE NET nights. Details on how to Join 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’ & God be with you. See you next time! de KEØVH

May Meeting Tour of Infinity Park Stadium and Video Facilities

May_2016_SMPTE-SBE48_Meeting

Date:  Thursday, May 19, 2016 
Time:  6:15PM Refreshments, 6:45 PM Meeting
Location:  Infinity Park, 4500 E. Kentucky Ave. Glendale, CO 80246
Speaker:  Wayne Brenengen 
Refreshments:  Sandwiches, chips, sodas and cookies provided 
Topic:  Tour of Stadium and Video Production Facilities

Established in 2007, Infinity Park is a municipally-owned multi-use sports and events complex. A world-class rugby stadium lies at the center, serving as the home field of the Glendale Raptors Rugby Football Club. Infinity Park is also the home of the Serevi Rugbytown Sevens Tournament which takes place in August each year and attracts teams from around the world to compete for a winner-take-all $10,000 cash prize.

The May meeting started with refreshments followed by an introduction to the facility with seating in the stands. Wayne Brenengen provided the introduction and then conducted tours of the video production facilities built around two NewTek Tricasters and a NewTek 3 Play replay server. He also discussed the method of streaming rugby matches to a worldwide network.

Clay’s Corner for May 2016

 

 

Clay’s Corner Providing news and views from a broadcast engineers perspective since September 1986

Looks like continued donations for KPLU as they strive to become community owned radio station.   Helping with the process was a listener that said they would donate $500,000 if the listeners would do the same – It took them only 9 days to raise the million.   One has to wonder if some big contributors are in the wings until deep in the process?

Last month I noted that we just experienced one of the wettest winters in history…One record we did not break was the number of days in a row with precipitation….That record, set back in 1950-51 of 125 days still remains.   In April we often have what I call – teaser weather- i.e., a blast of warm/dry days. Mother nature did not let me down as we hit 89 degrees on one day setting a record for the warmest April day in history. (Meantime Denver was getting snow). There is no doubt about it –

So I was sitting at the Starbucks in Chehalis recently and this guy comes in wearing a bright yellow rain jacket….I glanced at it and did a double-take . Fortunately my cellphone has a camera – Thought you’d enjoy this one.

Dont Shoot Tech

 

In last month’s column I mentioned that Alaska, the airline, was based in Seattle… Had no clue that they would go out and purchase another airline.   It will take a while for all of this to come together….over the coming months we will find out whether those Virgin America vertical stabilizers will be sporting an Eskimo or not.   Then there is the issue of all of those foreign (Non USA) built aircraft recent news has Alaska buying a number of new smaller jets built elsewhere.Recently the radio biz was all abuzz over the thought that the CBS Radio group would be sold off setting off waves of speculation as to who might buy what.   Then the news that CBS may keep their Radio division and spin it off to a new division etc.   Oh well. Likely one of their goals was met ….helping to establish value for their radio operations.Meanwhile the financial woes of Cumulus and iHeart continue to be making news with both firms doing the fast shuffle with those that deal with really big numbers.   Still hard to fathom how big companies can avoid being sold off by their lenders for penny’s on the dollar.   Apparently size does matter providing that not all things are treated equally.There is a bright side that many in broadcasting are thankful for…Political advertising.   Not so much for the spots that are purchase by the candidates and parties (they are usually low) but in terms of ratings that help drive rates.   In Radio….News talk stations are seeing their numbers go up, in TV the news channels are too.The FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, continues to speak out on behalf of AM Radio citing its long history etc. etc.   This may all be well and good, but all this ‘talk’ is not going to generate listeners for the medium that many feel is ancient technology on a par with Morse Code.   My crystal ball says that the AM will survive and will, perhaps, end up looking more like it did in the late 40’s or early 50’s.     Certainly the value of AM properties is falling making it attractive to those that simply can’t afford an FM station.   Foreign languages are loving it.As perhaps a canary in the AM mine indicator….one of the west coasts legendary stations, KGO in San Francisco has just gone through a huge staff reduction and programming re-alignment thus ending 30 years of domination.As a person that’s been in this business for over 50 years, I can tell you that un-certainty seems to come with the territory. Of late, perhaps all due to the pressure for additional spectrum for more wireless gizmo’s, we are now on the cusp of the biggest change in TV broadcasting I’ve ever witnessed.   Who would have ever thought that we’d see broadcasters be paid to go off the air…or be facing a channel change – downward in frequency (UHF to VHF) or, in some cases, sharing a channel with another broadcaster.   20 years ago if anyone had suggest that this was going to come to pass….You would have been openly laughed at.   Then there is the other option – Your station may not be impacted at all.   Now put yourself in the position of those that are presently working at a TV station where you have this looming over your head. Perhaps some talented people will see this as a sign to exit the business for something that has less uncertainty? Someone, long ago, said that there is nothing more constant than change….Indeed!   Radio has had its share with consolidation….Now TV is getting it with both barrels.   Looking at the winners and losers in this process – The winners will be the wireless carriers and users of this new, above 600 MHz spectrum as well as those that are able to cash-in on the changes required (Transmission systems makers and installers)…..The losers will be those that are displaced in the process. Guess one could say that this is the price of progress.   Certainly there will be books written about this transition….Perhaps not hard-bound, but rather the kind you down-load via some wireless device using spectrum that used to be used by a broadcast station ?Speaking of changes…What about all the retirements at the ‘home team’. Just like baseball, you need a program to keep track.   Understand a couple Engineers also were involved. At least the old folks got to experience the new digs.A good example of a winner is the satellite radio provider, Sirius/XM who recently announced they now have over 30 million Subscribers.   Perhaps we should think of them as an OTA Broadcaster?On the technician side – I recently was asked to label the coax cables for a new installation for NWPR.   I thought about this for a while and ended up walking the isles at a local office supply. My solution was a heavy, flexible, device used for holding badges etc. at gatherings. You have likely had one of these attached to your shirt many times.   You can purchase these for cheap (without the safety pin).   To start with I composed a message on my computer, cut out the text and slipped it inside and attached it with a ty-rap. In the field, you could do this – on the fly- by having the right size pieces of paper that you could attach text generated by a label maker.   Wished I’d thought of this years ago.   Nothing more frustrating in an RF plan like not knowing which cable belongs to whom.

Cable Tags

 

How many times have you heard an Apple computer user brag about how much more secure and immune to attacks that the PC?     Time for a bit of rain on that parade as a new study recently discovered that this is no longer true.   Apple’s I-Phone however is still much harder to hack than an Android device.     Now if I could figure out how to stop getting calls telling me I have won a trip to the Bahama’s or that my credit-card is – – – – – – Hacking is one thing, spam (of any flavor) is another.

 

Speaking of hacking ….A couple of radio stations became the targets of hackers recently. In one case, a hacker got into the stations IP connection between their studio and transmitter site and took over the stations programming with some ‘naughty stuff’ …and in the process prohibited the station from turning off their transmitter because it used the same internet based system. (Talk about putting all your eggs in one basket!).   The availability of modestly priced codecs coupled with the fact that internet service is available almost everywhere has been a marriage made in heaven for those wishing to do more with less.   Apparently there are some that install these things for connecting their studios to the transmitter either are given strict financial limits, or, they don’t fully grasp the fact that these devices are like hanging out a sign ‘Hackers Welcome’.   This reminds me of the Zombie attacks were hackers were able to get into EAS equipment and create a mess for some stations.   Indeed there are a number of lessons in common here.   Not installing –open to the whole world – equipment using the manufacturers default password is a good start…followed shortly by a short course in why and how to use firewalls.   But the fact is – Some lessons are best (and at times only) learned via the school of hard knocks.   Betcha these stations that were taken over by hackers have been on a quick learning curve and have opened the mind of the party controlling the purse strings! Unfortunately there are those that view insurance – in any form – as waste of money.

Perhaps some FCC action will help with the ‘lesson plan’ ( :-o)

 

On the topic of hacking….What’s to be done when radio spectrum is hacked?   What I’m talking about is – Pirate Radio – or, simply put, un-licensed operation of a radio station.   Unfortunately the FCC (remember them when they were an enforcement entity?) appears to be largely toothless these days.   They are dealing with this issue (a major problem in some cities) similar with trying to stop a groundhog or mole from tearing up your lawn by stomping on that mound of freshly mined soil.   Stomp here, and it comes up there.   Add to this the fact that many of the fines they hand out are never paid you have recipe for encouraging the behavior.   Even the FCC recognizes the problem and is asking congress for help. Perhaps I am beginning to understand why the FCC closed all those offices …Perhaps it’s because of the fact that too many are ignoring their actions anyway?   A technique they are exploring is being able to go after the property owner where the pirate has his station.   Remains to be see if this idea will prove effective.   This all seems to boil down to whether or not the Feds will have a means of actually collecting their penalties.   Some states have passed laws making pirate radio operation a criminal act…but compared to much more serious crimes, it’s hard to find a prosecutor that will find this type of infraction worthy of his time.

Congrats to Hubbard (Owner of several stations in the Seattle market) on re-claiming it’s position of owning the top billing radio station in the country with their WTOP in WDC…Their $65 Million in billing for 2015 edged out KIIS-FM in LA who only billed 64.7.   Stop and think about it – That’s an average of $178,082 per day.   Not bad for a radio station !! Market size has a lot to do with the amount a station bills, for example – Half of the top 10 billing stations are located in NYC while 3 are in Los Angeles.

There are those that are claiming that we are turning the FM radio band into an overcrowded mess….These folks have some numbers to support their contention too. As of March 31 there was a 31% increase in low powered stations (LPFM’s) many of which are operating in major markets contributing to the fact there is likely a station on every channel.   FM translators and boosters are increasing in numbers too with over 6500 of them now on the air, some of which are related to AM stations.   The mainstays of FM, commercial and NCE’s were pretty much static.   Meanwhile, on the AM side there are 22 less stations compared to last year…a total that is certain to increase

SBE is out with a new publication – The SBE Broadcast Engineering Handbook.”   Perhaps the most expensive publication yet in the SBE Library at $199.   I’ve not had my hands on one yet…Those that have –Let me know your impressions.

Here’s an item that really grabbed my attention.   Kudo’s to the folks at Sears for coming up with a wonderful spoof:

Kitchen Chainsaw Part1

Kitchen Chainsaw Part2

Entercom has still not filled the slot once filled by now retired Dwight Small.   While they search for his replacement they have been rotating folks from other Entercom markets into the station. One of those folks (Name withheld) had never been in this neck of the wood before and asked me an interesting question – ‘How do you folks prepare for Earthquake and Volcano’s?” Whereas he is from the other corner of the country…I guess I can understand that he might be apprehensive about what we live with.   I sent him the link to the Mt St Helens Camera as well as to the USGS Earthquake site.For some time we have been writing about the plight of Tribune Publishing (owner of 2 TV Stations in Seattle) Recently it was reported that Gannett has offered $815 million to buy Tribune.Many people with Amateur Radio (HAM) Licenses have their call letters on their license plates (Technically not a vanity plate). From time to time you have someone ask about it.   Recently I had a most un-usual question from a fellow – He asked if the K7 had something to do with KIRO-7 and wondered what the CR meant. I like to tell people that the license plates are my email address (sort of true).Here’s an interesting statistic – Today people are spending more money on electronics than they do their clothing.

Climate forecasters are again at work releasing projections on the impact of climate-change and sea-levels….This time they are warning us what the world will look like in 2100 at the present rate due to melting ice in Antarctica – IF – nothing is done to curb the generation of greenhouse gases etc.   The big issue is, of course, rising sea-levels. Some projections have sea-level rising by more than 6 feet by 2100 and perhaps as much as 50 feet by 2500.

Just for fun – I looked at the impact on broadcast operations in the Seattle area – the following facilities would be underwater.

VASHON ISLAND –

Ø            Transmitter sites for 570/710/770/1090

o            820/950/1000 would survive

TACOMA –

Ø         850/1300 and 1360

SEATTLE –

Ø         The new KING5 Studios (as well as the stadiums in Sodo)

o          333 Dexter would look attractive

Ø         Queen Ann and Capital Hills would become islands

 

Portland Oregon, several miles up the Columbia River from the Ocean, experiences tidal variations…Likely many facilities there, in low lying areas, would be impacted.

The good news – Folks in Denver have nothing to worry about (at least from rising sea-levels)

As usual, I light to write about the Seattle area …Finding most interesting results of surveys etc. A recent survey for the best cities for Coffee fanatics got my attention… No surprises here. Seattle is known for being a coffee town and the survey confirmed our reputation with our city ranking #1.   So who are the others?

#2 – (surprised) New Orleans

#3 – Our neighbor to the south – Portland Oregon

#4 – San Francisco

#5 – Oakland (across the bay from S.F.)

#6-   San Diego

#7 – Austin, TX

#8 – Denver

#9 – Honolulu

10 – Washington D.C.

 

What they said about Seattle was interesting – Here are the highlights-

Ø         Long, gloomy winters

Ø            Glorious coffee culture

Ø            Birthplace of Tully’s and Starbucks

Ø         1,600 cafes and coffee shops

Ø         3rd highest concentration of coffee sellers of any U.S. City

Major events taking place in the world of EAS –

Ø         NPT and ETRS coming soon (is your station ready?)

Ø         Major changes proposed in the new NPRM

If you are the person designated to make sure you are EAS Compliant – You have been warned.

In the good EAS news department…I’ve been working with a CSRIC group on overhauling the EAS Handbook (you know, that thing that is required by the FCC to hang on the hook at your control point). I think you will appreciate the new one.   Can’t tell you more as the CSRIC group only makes a recommendation to the Commish and then they do what they want J

Reminder – The next SECC (State EAS Committee) will be on May 11th…This time in Ellensburg. If you are interested in attending, we will be car-pooling from North Bend, as always, you can listen in on the conference bridge. Full details on the Washington State EAS Remailer.

The FAA has opened a web-based registry for drone users.   One of the engineers at WSU’s NWPR, Martin Gibbs has one of these and has been using it for tower site projects.   Very cool. Question for my readers – Who in your area is using drones for TV News and/or spots?

Great to see one of the areas IT engineers get interested in Ham Radio.   As reported last month Lowell Smith at Entercom recently passed his Tech exam and has received his license…Additionally he now is sporting a vanity call – N0LCS.   What a Zero call I asked.

He explained that he is from Kansas, so guess that’s OK J

Congratulations to KPLU on winning 4 Murrow’s.   Speaking of which, at this writing, they have raised over 4 million on their way to 7 so the station can be purchased from Pacific Lutheran University rather than becoming part of KUOW. Interestingly KUOW, upon announcing the agreement to purchase KPLU, said that they would not need their news department. Many of those that objected to the sale citing KPLU’s news as one of their reasons for opposing the sale. winning the Murrow’s re-enforces these comments.

An ownership shuffle at long-time broadcast equipment maker, Broadcast Electronics, usually referred to as B.E.  Instead of yet another in a string of venture capital groups buying the firm, this time the new ownership is headed up by their VP of Engineering, Brian Lindeman.   There are a lot of people that have openly expressed concern about the viability of B.E. as a company. This time the ownership change appears to be bringing smiles. B.E. started out in 1959, then known as Spotmaster known for their audio cartridge tape equipment. Certainly having an Engineer at the top is not that common.   Then again the big-office at Nautel is occupied by their former service manager that is also an engineer.   We wish them well.

Recently spotted this sign at Cougar Mountain – Hmmm guess it’s meant to protect the croakers in the nearby stream.

No Spray Zone

 

I did not make it to NAB this year due to a very full plate here at home.   I have, however been looking at what’s new in the world of TV. Perhaps there is still some TV blood in my veins from many years ago.   Here are a couple of thoughts to share –

Ø         Lots of activity regarding ATSC 3.0.   Repacking etc.

Ø         The evolution of TV continues as TV evolves into something more like a fusion of IP and OTA distribution systems.

Ø         Yet to come are the consumer products that will dazzle everyone and make todays systems look crude.

Ø         Like everything else, TV is rapidly moving away from the concept of racks full of devices having a specific purpose toward a system whereby everything is IP based and that data is stored and moved around using systems that could be found in plants dealing with the movement of a large amount of data.

Ø         Radio and TV are both moving in this direction. Audio consoles and Video Switchers are now just control surfaces that happen to have the right kind of knobs and switches to get the job done where a display and mouse would work too.   XLR and BNC connectors are being replaced with RJ45’s with most of the wiring being done via CAT___ cable.

Ø            Thankfully storage is advancing at a rapid rate as tons of that is required.   I could not help but notice that one firm was talking about the fact that they can have 504 TB of memory in only 5 RU of space.   (Try and convert this number to reels of tape)

Ø         Let us not forget those that are very resistant to change that view change as a threat rather an opportunity. I suspect some old-timers (I understand them well) will want to get out before the tidal-wave of changes hits.   For the rest of us – These are very exciting times.

 

A blizzard of changes. to be sure.   What’s amazing is the rate of change in the last couple of years and the rapid adoption of IP everything.   The days of a computer controlling a dedicated piece of hardware is going away with the computer now doing all the work.   It does not seem all that long ago that I got my first 286 !

The totals are in from the Big Show in the desert – NAB has announced that just over 103,000 were in registered. (More than that attended via exhibit only passes etc.) 26,000 were from 187 other countries looking at exhibits from 1,874 companies.   If you work in this industry and have never attended this event – It should be very near the top of your bucket list.

The following item was posted on a popular Remailer by Adrienne Abbot.   She is the Nevada SECC (EAS)Chair as well as the states ABIP inspector – I read it and ask her for permission to reprint it here.   It has to do with her walking into a (in this case TV) station to do an inspection – I will this speak for itself.

Autopilot or not, somebody better be there when I arrive or the station doesn’t receive a certificate!

True story…ABIP Certificates are renewed every three years. You and I know that a lot can change in three years. The engineer for a station I inspected recently met me in the lobby, explaining that when she retired the long-time receptionist was replaced with security cameras and microphones. As we walked through the silent hallways the engineer noted the empty offices where jobs had been eliminated, automated, consolidated, transferred to corporate or “hubbed” to a central location serving multiple sister stations since my last visit.

My inspections include a tour of the station news facilities. In this case, there was a brand new news studio, full of bright and flashy technology–new robot cameras, LED lights, green walls that could put the weatherman in any part of town the producers wanted, a morning news set, a set for the noon news, a set for the evening news, an interview set, all with sleek desks in front of massive city scapes. The producer’s booth had a wall of HD TV screens and computers on desks, no boards to punch, no tape machines to load, no Teleprompter to run. The engineer shook his head as he told me how many news positions had been eliminated by these latest whiz-bang gadgets.

I expected to find the newsroom as empty as the rest of the station. Instead, we stepped into a large, open room that was humming with the voices of dozens of people, many on headsets and cell phones, editing video and writing stories. Waves of people washed around the raised island of The Desk, rolling out the back door or to a row of glassed-in edit bays. Before I could ask, the engineer answered: “Social Media. Social Media is a big part of our news department now. They’re 24/7, just like our news folks.” I asked how many Social Media staff they had. The answer was a number very close the running total I was keeping of jobs that had been eliminated by the switch to automation-consolidation-corporation–hubbing. The new Social Media department had even absorbed a few of the employees whose jobs were lost in the all the changes.

Out in the garage, it was a little sad to see the old consoles, mixers and tape players piled around empty file cabinets, broken chairs and bundles of wire. The equipment that was once state of the art and dearly purchased had done its job, told its stories and was now set aside, silent, next stop the recycling center. Our generation struggled to learn that equipment, making the transition from one inch tape to Beta and VHS, from cameras with decks and mic booms to cameras with cassettes and shotguns, from analog to digital.

The current generation, our kids and grandkids, were born digital. They learned to shoot and edit right after they learned to talk and text on their cell phones. It seems to me like they haven’t had the challenges of trying to coax a cold transmitter to life at 5:00 AM, load a 12-inch tape reel from a pancake or untangle a cassette with a pencil or edit with a razor and block or build a crawl from a roll of black paper and sheets of white rub-on letters.

Where am I going with this? Maybe we made it too easy for them. Maybe in all this automation and computerization we should have provided the Next Generation with a struggle to learn something. Maybe we went from Ohm’s Law to Windows 10 too quickly. We used to build boards, now we grow black boxes.

Maybe we’ve forgotten that there’s a place for responsibility, that someone has to take charge of the machines and not depend on them to do everything and that there’s no such thing as a perfect computer program. We forgot to show them how to turn off the equipment. We certainly had a lot of warning. Remember those old Sci-Fi B movies we watched on Saturday afternoons?…Now the alien monster isn’t some oversize scaly reptile from the back side of the moon or militant automatons from Mars, it’s the enormous lack of passion and dedication to future of the business of entertaining and informing the community.

I think I have laundry to do…

Adrienne

 

And in keeping with my tradition – I want to leave you with someone to smile about – In this case – Some signs –

Sign in a shoe shop in Vancouver:

“We will heel you

We will save your sole

We will even dye for you.”

In a Podiatrist’s office:

“Time wounds all heels.”;

At an Optometrist’s Office:

“If you don’t see what you’re looking for,

You’ve come to the right place.”;

On a Plumber’s truck :

“We repair what your husband fixed.”;

On another Plumber’s truck:

“Don’t sleep with a drip. Call your plumber.”;

At a Tire Shop in Milwaukee :

“Invite us to your next blowout.”;

On an Electrician’s truck:

“Let us remove your shorts.”;

On a Maternity Room door:

“Push. Push. Push.”;

At a Car Dealership:

“The best way to get back on your feet – miss

a car payment.”;

Outside a Muffler Shop:

“No appointment necessary. We hear you coming.”;

In a Veterinarian’s waiting room:

“Be back in 5 minutes. Sit! Stay!”;

At the Electric Company:

“We would be delighted if you send in your payment

on time. However, if you don’t, YOU will be de-lighted.”

In a Restaurant window:

“Don’t stand there and be hungry; come on in and get fed up.”;

In the front yard of a Funeral Home:

“Drive carefully. We’ll wait.”;

At a Propane Filling Station:

“Thank Heaven for little grills.”;

That’s it for this month – Keep your fingers crossed that summer returns (that week of it we had in April was a cruel trick).   Till next month on most of these same computers –

Clay, CPBE, K7CR, OM

 

 

 

 

 

The KEØVH Hamshack for April 2016

Hamshack March 2016

Hamshack Photo March 2016

The KEØVH Hamshack for April 2016

The latest layout of the KEØVH Hamshack November 2015 till now!

Greetings all and Happy April, man am I glad spring is just beginning. We are getting stuff done in Colorado, and I say “we” as I have had great help from my contractors and others who are so great in their skills. Special thanks to Rich W9BNO, Greg WB7AHO, Ray AAØL, Mike in Rye CO, (of course I am working on him to get his ham license, you know me!) Jon Banks in Glenwood Springs, and Bill, WØBX in Grand Junction. Couldn’t get it all done without these fine gentlemen! Thanks Guys!

Guthrie

 

Speaking of thanks and so much more, the K-LOVE/Air1 Satellite uplink facility has now been officially dedicated to Alan Guthrie, one of the most incredible men I have been blessed to know and get to learn from in my entire career. He was as I called him “our satellite guru” who knew more about anything satellite than anyone I ever knew, and was of of the most instrumental and dynamic people to work at K-LOVE. His love for the Lord and getting the message out was second to none, and Alan was responsible for most of the satellite capabilities, infrastructure, and day to day operations of the entire network. He suddenly went to be with Jesus last year, and I had been meaning to include a piece about him here in the “Hamshack”. If you ever get the chance to visit EMF headquarters in Rocklin CA, be sure to ask to see the uplink facility that Alan helped to design and build. I bet he is having a great time “walkin’ the streets of gold” and telling some wonderful stories

Ham Rig

W5WCA Operating position Grand Lake CO area

By the way, many of you know Cris Alexander W5WCA, the DOE for Crawford Broadcasting.   Cris sent me this picture of his well appointed operating position (next to his recliner J) in his cabin up near Grand Lake CO in the mountains NW of Denver. Cris is very active talking to a lot of friends on 40 and 80 meters from here on the weekends and whenever he gets up to their mountain getaway. You can catch Cris on 7.166 talking to Harvey WØHLC and Mark K5IR in the mornings and another group of us on 3.700 around 7pm mountain time. His 30 over S9 signal blankets CO quite well with his setup!

And keeping in the family, Cris daughter Amanda KDØCIC (Amanda is the Chief Engineer for all the Crawford stations in the Denver area) and her husband Jordon KDØSSK operate this very fine station from their home in Aurora CO. I really like the way they have it laid out. Good job guys. Amanda is now Extra class so congratulations to her, and Jordon isn’t too far behind with his General. I understand he is getting ready to upgrade now, so all that is left for these two is who gets to use the radio shack first! J J J. I bet I know who will win that one LOL!!!!

Amanda Ham 2

Amanda Ham 1

Amanda Ham 3

Amanda working the DX from Aurora CO

Big Storm

In March we had an honest to God full up blizzard in Denver! We lost power at the KEØVH QTH for an entire day, some areas of Denver for 3 days. Phone service was uninterrupted, and yes I had ham radio ready to go via UPS plus charged HT’s. However the power company here in Denver is really pretty good and had crews out all day in this mess. Amazing!

Guy at Site in Snow

KLDV and co-located KXKL suffered power bumps all that day. I had to run K-LOVE on the backup transmitter since my main lost a filament fuse due to on off on off conditions all day. KXKL lost a rectifier stack in the high voltage power supply. In the above picture is Barry Thomas, CE for KXKL after he and I rode up in the Argo Avenger 750 to the site the next day. Yes, the roads in Denver were pretty clear by the second day. We had plenty of spares on hand so the mains were back up on both stations in a couple of hours after reaching the site. Tough job huh?!?!?! J

Jack at Mt Chief

NICE DAY! KLDV, KXKL, and KRMT TV tower in view

Easter weekend was the big CQ WW SSB contest. Before and after church that weekend I managed to get some operating in as DX was coming in from all over of course. Here is a shot of part of my log from that weekend! It actually gained me a few new countries in the Logbook of the World counts. The Flex 3000 was the rig I used this weekend. It was lots of fun as I wasn’t really interested in running up a big contest score but just working stations that I wanted to in a “hunt & peck” mode of operating. Very relaxed and a lot of fun.

Ham Log

Part of the Ham Radio Deluxe log for the weekend!

STL on Roof

 

A STL antenna raising party at Cumulus Broadcasting in Colorado Springs

In the above picture (taken by Rich W9BNO) you can see the STL dish move as the roof had been redone at the Cumulus stations building in Colorado Springs. Ray Uberecken AAØL (2nd from left in the picture) was leading the crew in the move to a better location of the roof. Rich was along that day helping Ray too.   The crew had to move the dishes and re-aim them. The transmitter sites on Cheyenne Mountain are off to the left in this picture, but you can see Pikes Peak there to the right. Honestly I think the scenery where we work out here just can’t be beat!

Lots of Locks

I haven’t quite figured this one out yet. On a gate west of Fort Collins. Not enough locks!

Lots of Locks

One of our kitty cats, Celestia, helping out during the contest!

Funny kitty, she comes in meowing at me and wants up in the chair quite frequently wanting me to pet her, and she gets annoyed when I don’t pay attention to her. Maybe she wants a ham license?

 

Don’t forget the Monday Night Broadcast Engineering

IRLP (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

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

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio. The first and

3rd Mondays are also SBE NET nights. Details on how to

Join 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’ & God be with you. See you next time! de KEØVH

John Switzer 1947 – 2016

John Switzer

John L. Switzer died Friday, March 25, 2016, at Denver Hospice. He was 68.

He was born in Boone, Iowa to LeRoy J. and S. Evelyn Bygness Switzer, April 12, 1947.  Later, John and his family moved to Tama and then Chariton before moving to Des Moines.  John attended All Saints Catholic School there.

John’s family moved to Lakewood, Colorado in 1960. He graduated from Alameda High School in 1965.  John received a B.A. in Technical Theatre from the University of Denver in 1970. While attending D.U., John began his career in television broadcasting at KOA-TV (now KCNC-TV).

In 1973, John joined the Rocky Mountain Broadcast Center, where he spent the next decade as Director of Engineering. In 1983, he joined Z-Axis Corporation as Vice President of Production.

Most of John’s broadcasting career was with Sony Business and Professional Group as Senior Account Executive.  During his 20-year career (1989 to 2009) at Sony, he was honored twice as a Sony Samurai and received their Top Sales Achiever award.   He was instrumental in converting regional broadcasters to high-definition television.

In 2009, he joined Burst Communications as Vice President of System Sales. At Burst, he designed high-definition control rooms for many organizations, including the University of Denver and University of Colorado, Boulder.

John was honored in 2007 by SMPTE, The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. As an active member of the University of Denver Alumni Association, he volunteered to shoot and edit video for a variety of events.

John was a member of Broadcast Pioneers of Colorado.  He was on the committee that formed the Denver School of the Arts Video/Cinema Arts program.

Additionally, John was an Assistant Scout Master for Boy Scout Troop 309, while his two sons participated in the Scouting program.  Both became Eagle Scouts. He served on the Vestry at St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church in Aurora.

John also enjoyed spending time with his family and traveled to Europe, Japan and throughout the U.S.  For several summers, he enjoyed getaways to Aspen and Santa Fe. He taught his sons to fish in Maroon Bells Lake and the Roaring Fork River.

Clay’s Corner for April 2016

 

Clay’s Corner – Providing news and views from a broadcast engineers perspective since September 1986

Over the many years I have been working in this business, and writing this column, I run across the name of a person that I have worked with in the past. In this case Andy Laird.   First met Andy at West Tiger Mt when he was involved with one of the stations there.     Much later I looked him up at WTMJ in Milwaukee.   Happy to report that Andy will be receiving the NAB Radio Engineering Achievement Award at the big show in the desert (NAB) on April 20th.     Congrats Andy !

 Andy LairdAndy is another one of those people who are much smarter than I ….He retired J

The ‘Rumor Mill’ is in full production with the announcement that CBS – might- sell off their Radio stations.   This group consists of 117 stations in 26 markets that produced some 1.28 Billion in revenue in 2014.   Based on an often used equation, the group could be priced in the vicinity of 3 Billion Bucks.   This matter is of obvious interest to those that would be potential buyers.     Just who that might be is a matter of considerable debate. ….Then again would CBS do, as it has been doing, selling off chunks…or would they be looking for someone to buy the whole thing.   Parting out appears to be the most likely due to the amount of money involved….This also expands the list of possible buyers considerably. Here in Seattle CBS owns 94.1, 96.5, 102.5 FM and 1090 AM.   Perhaps, due to their already heavy debt load, we can rule out Cumulus and iHeart Media.   Selective markets might well interest Alpha, Entercom and Hubbard.   Then again…Perhaps they ran this up the ‘flagpole’ to increase investor awareness and help elevate the stock price?     This will be a matter that will we watched by many.

The recent retirement ‘gathering’ for Dwight Small was well attended by present and previous Entercom employees.   Here is Dwight’s reaction to being presented a plaque by Market Manager Jack Hutchison and HR director Noreen McCormick.

Dwight Small

No word yet on Dwight’s replacement – I will continue to ‘mother’ the stations transmitting equipment at West Tiger and Cougar, as a contractor, as I have been for the last 6 years since leaving Entercom as a full time employee

Just as predicted – The plan, by Crescent Heights, to build a 101 story building downtown has been down-sized to 94 stories due to FAA concerns.   I will believe that Seattle will have something higher 1049 feet AMSL when I see it.   Meanwhile, on the Eastside – Bellevue’s skyline continues upward with the recent announcement that a cluster of 4 -40 story buildings will be built.   Downtown Bellevue is something that any major city would be proud of and is remarkable when you consider the population of Seattle’s across the lake neighbor.

It’s official –This has been the wettest winter in history.   If you are new to the Seattle area and have known, all your life, that it rains all the time…. and have heard natives poo-poo it as an urban legend…you are now on solid (or soggy) ground.   Now, let us pray that we have a summer like the last one.   In this area a week of warm and wonderful weather is enough to forget a month of rainfall.     The following picture of the tower at South Mountain (Home of KDDS, KOMO and KLSY-FM) clearly shows how winter at the higher elevations is still a factor in mid-March.   The tower was due for some lighting maintenance but their efforts were cut short as this picture, supplied by Doug Fisher, shows why.   If you look close the top half of the tower is solid ice !

Icy Tower

Always like to see where the markets that this column appears in stack up compared to others …

This month I note a survey of 20 good places to live from the magazine US News – Here are some selected results – City and Ranking –

Portland, OR- #20

Seattle, WA – #7

Boise, ID – #6

Colorado Springs – #5

Denver, CO – #1

 

I have to admit that I like Denver – Even though it has the reputation of being a location where you may need a lawnmower and snow-blower on the same day !   They proved this saying with a nasty snow storm near the end of the month that was so bad it closed the airport.

Are you ready to be un-leashed?   If so, the big show in the desert April 16-21 this year. Yes, we are talking about the NAB show.   Not likely I will be going this year….No big EAS activity and no need to walk the floor looking for the latest toys.

Speaking of NAB…The organization is backing a request for additional time and funds allotted for station re-packing after the FCC’s incentive auction.     I wonder what some of the old timers would say if they were to come back to life and see what’s happening to broadcast TV spectrum?

Earlier in March , our own Jim Dalke was in the hospital dealing with ‘stones’.   Yeeouch !    Understand that corrective procedures went well.

Perhaps you have noticed that we have not heard much about copper thefts of late.   Not too long ago we were hearing about the theft of air-conditioners (this happened to my dentist) street light wiring and, of course, broadcast equipment.   It’s not that the bad-guys have all reformed, it’s based on the fact that the prices for, recycled just about everything, is depressed.   For instance …. A recycler used to pay 3 dollars per pound for copper.   This was just enough to make it worthwhile for the no-good-nicks of the world to rip it off .   Now the price for scrap copper is more like a buck a pound.   Couple this with greater efforts at curbing theft via security measures….Our copper items are less attractive.   The same thing is taking place for other items that were previously economical to recycle.

I’ve recently flown several times out of SeaTac Airport….You can’t help but notice that things are getting crowded.   The North Satellite used to be pretty much all United, now it’s pretty much Alaska. In the past an N-Gate was for just one plane…Now Alaska has several aircraft sharing the same gate with gate numbers now having a letter suffix.   Then there is the ever increasing presence of Delta that’s been expanding significantly.   The bottom line is little Sea-Tac airport handed some 42,000,000 passengers in 2015 and that number is going up.   This is yet another indication of how the Seattle area is growing at a rapid pace.   We are all familiar with the ‘forest’ of tall cranes putting up new buildings in Seattle and Bellevue…However we don’t think about the airport…Unless we use the facility.     Speaking of airports etc.…Last month I ran a picture of a new paint scheme for Alaska.   Did you hear that our hometown airline, Alaska, is one of several carriers that has made application to expand service to Cuba?

From the – Boy, that did not take long department – the FCC has granted a modified CP for a new FM station north of Everett on 103.3 (COL – Oak Harbor) The interesting part is the fact the call letters will be KMCQ-FM.     Up until EMF took over the operation of the Seattle area 104.5, KMCQ was that stations call, in fact, that was call used when 104.5 was in Oregon.   EMF changed it to KLSW.   There are a number of former Seattle area call letters being used by smaller stations in the State, for example – KLSY – Long time the call for 92.1/Bellevue – is now operating from South Mountain on 93.7.

Standards are great things…especially if they open the door to interoperability that was once closed.   Of late we have some progress to report –

In the world of Audio we now have AES70 that, according to its proponents, will allow Audio over IP (AoIP) devices, made by different manufacturers, to not only send their audio to and from each other but will permit the related control information to flow as well.   In the practical sense, this will mean that equipment made by Wheatstone or Axia, perhaps one day, can work together.   As we move beyond analog audio AES70 promises to be able to see this process accelerate.

 

Just about everywhere you look today – IP – is becoming the standard method which things communicate with other things.   The XLR and BNC cables being replaced with the RJ45 and Cat XXX. This is the case for Radio – and – Television.   This is especially the case for new buildouts

Recently a European operation demonstrated the power of IP with a remote broadcast consisting of 10 mic, 4 cameras, intercom, tally lights etc. all connected to their production studio some distance away all via Fiber and IP. The cool thing was they did not need a remote truck…     In the world of Radio and TV remotes and news gathering IP has become the vehicle of choice to get the picture and audio back to the station.   This has probably been the biggest revolution since we moved away from tape.

 

Ray Tomlinson is not a very familiar name…But perhaps should have been.   Ray is credited with being the inventor of modern email.   Ray died early in March at age 74..   Next time you write an email address and use the ‘@’ symbol between the users name and their address…..You can thank Ray …this was his idea.Was in Bellingham recently and took time to have lunch with Mike Gilbert. He was telling me about a fire they had at KARI in Blaine.     Apparently an old ceiling light fixture overheated resulting in a lot of damage to a couple of studio and adjacent rooms.Hubbard, owner of a cluster of 3 FM and 2 AM’s in the Seattle market recently changed formats on their 98.9 FM to what they are calling ‘Rock 98.9’.     According to those that follow these things, they are targeting a similar audience to that of KISW 99.9.     Let the games begin !

Sorry to note the passing of Anne Nelskog, wife of the late Wally Nelskog…radio broadcast legend in the Seattle area. Their daughter, Carol, continues to work in this business in Seattle.

I was recently sent this picture of a trusty old Pacific Recorders AMX Console that was the on-air board for 97.3 when they moved from Met Park East to the KIRO facility on Eastlake Ave.   The Bonneville facility there now has become an all Axia AoIP facility under the leadership of Tom Pierson. Bet this would look really cool at some LPFM station !

AMX Console

Congrats to WSAB and OSAB honcho, Murrow Professional Advisory Board member and broadcast station owner, Keith Shipman, on having one of his stations in Bend Oregon be named as OSAB Radio Station of the year.
I love looking back at advertisements for products that –

  • Ø Are not needed any more
  • Ø That many of today’s adults have no clue what they would be used for

I will let the following speak for itself –

Dial Eze

I was chatting with someone recently about this and they remarked they were at a transmitter site recently when they found a dial-phone that was still connected and working.   Am curious, will a present day central-office even respond to ‘dial-pulse’ ?

 

The FCC continues to try to breathe life into AM Radio with a number of proposals.   These proposals have certainly drawn a lot of comment, just how many have been filed with the FCC I don’t know.   Some of the more interesting thoughts that caught my attention –

 

  • Ø They are barking up the wrong tree.   One of the major reasons that AM’s are suffering is the ever rising noise level produced by all manner of un-regulated devices that have raised the noise floor, and in the process, severely reduced the coverage of all AM Stations. Many have been calling out the FCC for turning a ‘blind-eye’ toward these noise sources.
  • Ø The SBE has filed comments with the FCC regarding the ambient noise issue as well.
  • Ø Some are suggesting that the lower powered AM’s be forced out, with perhaps the government buying them thereby allowing the remaining AM’s to increase power, relax directional antenna systems etc. with the thought that AM is still valid, but only if we return to the days of much fewer stations.
  • Ø Others have proposed that AM’s be permitted a significant power increase.
  • Ø There are those that have proposed letting stations increase power at night.   Certainly there was a time when day-timers or full time stations that altered something at sunset was understood…but that day has past.   With FM these daily shifts don’t take place and many AM owners want the FCC to let them go full time, apparently ignoring the negative aspects of night time interference.
  • Ø The proposal to further restrict the coverage of major, Class 1A, stations at night has caused many of them to object.   (Think KIRO and KOMO in Seattle) KIRO-AM’s GM, Carl Gardner, has spoken out publically about this issue.
  • Ø There are EAS impacts involved here too with many of these Class A station being Primary Entry Point (PEP) facilities.
  • Ø Some Class A’s have a petition drive underway to preserve the historic sky-wave night signals.
  • Ø There seems to be a growing understanding that there will not be enough FM Translators to go around and that this effort will not, in itself, resolve all the AM issues.
  • Ø The FCC is finally getting pressure to require those that moved to the expanded AM band a few years ago to surrender one of their licenses (Like they were supposed to do way back when)
  • Ø As expected, some have proposed that the AM band be shifted to all Digital, perhaps DRM.
  • Ø One commenter suggested that the FCC should bring back AM Stereo (it did work pretty well)
  • Ø Several have recommended what I have been advocating for a long time – Provide a migration path for AM to the spectrum adjacent to the present FM band where Low-Band VHF TV was until the switch to ATCS.

The bottom line is that there is a lot of interest in this activity and the FCC appears to be asking a lot of questions.   Many reasons to keep an eye on the results as they trickle out of WDC.   Whatever happens, AM is going thru major changes and will likely continue to do so for years to come.

Once again a broadcast station group has sold off a bunch of its towers to a firm that manages these structures. In this case, some 200 towers belonging to Alpha Media have been sold to Vertical Bridge…A firm, like American Tower, that specializes in vertical real estate.   I have to admit I would have never predicted that a station would sell its tower and then lease the portion used back…again providing that there nothing more constant than change.

This old saying is being underscored in the television business with the coming of incentive auctions and re-packing the TV band.   This all brings up another thought – Fight or flight?     The broadcast landscape is being changed that no-one would have even dreamed about several years ago.

A number of us got together on the 5th of March for breakfast before heading to Puyallup for the annual flea market sponsored by the Mike and Key Amateur Radio Club. One of the attendees was Lowell Smith who handles IT chores for Entercom in Seattle.   To my surprise, he has been studying for his Ham License….and to his surprise, he took the exam at the Puyallup event and passed!   Congrats to Lowell indeed!

Here he is, in his office at Met Park West next to a historic piece of test equipment.

Lowell Smith

This past month, the media that covers the media, has been doing pieces on the debt situation at iHeart Media.   This company, formally known as Clear Channel, is faced with some huge amount of debt… Like, over 20 Billion Dollars’ worth.   The question is what is going to happen to the company?   Much of this debt is in the hands of private equity firms.   One has to wonder if no-one really knows how to handle this. Not likely the Feds will come to the rescue like they did GM.   Not likely anyone would pay off the ‘note’ and buy the company.   In other industries they would be selling for some fraction on the dollar and/or be sold for ‘parts’.     Then there is a matter of Cumulus, the #2 Radio company that is also massively in debt with declining revenues.

I was recently over in Forks, Washington…..You know, that former logging town and home of Twilight?\

I went over to perform periodic work on the transmitters for NWPR (Northwest Public Radio).   Before I go on, let me provide you a brief overview of Forks –

  • Ø It’s a former logging town situated end the west end of Clallam County which runs along the north side of the Olympic Peninsula.
  • Ø You cannot receive any broadcast station from the Seattle area due to shielding of the Olympic Mountains.
  • Ø They receive about 3 times the annual rain fall of Seattle.
  • Ø Area population is 6,240 and it’s going down.
  • Ø It’s likely that this is the smallest market in the state with a broadcast station.

Now with that being said, the only AM/FM station in town historically sounded awful.….Now for the surprise …..

 

On my recent trip I put the radio in my 2016 Toyota Tacoma pickup on scan just to see what I could hear.   The scan stopped on 96.7 and out of my speakers came great sounding audio….Shortly thereafter the big surprise surfaced…They were operating in HD….and not just HD1              , but HD2 and HD3.   I quickly grabbed my smart phone and snapped a picture of the display (Yes those ae my fingers in the reflection)

….All I can say is wow !

HD Display

If you recall, earlier in my column I mentioned that I had lunch with Mike Gilbert….Mike confessed that he set up the HD-R equipment at KBDB.   And a great job did he !

On the drive back I could not help but think about this little station in this tiny market, with a great sounding station operating in Digital !!!!   I then began to think about all the excuses I’ve heard from broadcasters in much larger markets as to why they can’t/won’t install HD Equipment or how they are waiting for some magic moment to arrive when they can convince themselves that HD Radio is here to stay??

There has been some recent antenna activity on Cougar Mt.   EMF’s KLSW (104.5) began broadcasting in this area as KMCQ, licensed to Covington, from Radio Hill east of Enumclaw.   A while later they moved to the then Entercom site on Cougar connecting their 1.5 kw transmitter to the directional master antenna where they have operated for some time.   Recently, under new owners, EMF, they decided to compare the 6 bay DA to an Omni, single bay antenna at the tower top.   The following picture should you what the tower looks like now.

You can see the single bay on the top right (arrow).   Below that the 6 bay panel array used by all the Auxiliary stations installed there.   The 2 bay panel on the lower left, is KNHC, Seattle Schools.

Panel Antenna

 

Another change in the world of local AM stations- 1560/KRIZ is being sold to XL Media for $680,000.   The stations transmitter site is located south of Auburn and East of Pacific in Green River Valley.

Another addition to the South Lake Union area – Google has announced they will be moving into new buildings between Valley Ave and Mercer.   (Remember the Denny’s in that area?)

Nick Winter and I set off to deal with an issue recently on Crego Hill (West of Chehalis and South of Adna, transmitter site for KMNT, KSWS, KCKA-TV etc.) discovering that we could not access the site because someone had rammed the gate on the Access Road.     I contacted Darin Gerchak, Engineer at KCKA-TV, and he responded with the proper tool…..A hot wrench !

Gate Work

Congratulations to NAB’s David Layer, winner of this year’s Radio World Excellence in Engineering Award. David is the 12th person to be presented this award…joining a very exclusive club of which I am proud to be a member.

Received a note from Tom McGinley, former chief of the CBS cluster in Seattle.   He is now enjoying life in ‘MSO MT’.   From the sounds of things, spending a great deal more time on Ham Radio.   Wow is that ever a tempting thought.   Here I am approaching ¾ of a century and still working J

I wrote, in previous column, about KING-TV leaving 333 Dexter. One of my readers (Ash), wrote that he was old enough to recall when the KING Address was on the ‘other side’ of the building.   (on Aurora)

Time is flying – Just made reservations to attend the annual Seaside Amateur Radio gathering on the Oregon Coast – Perhaps I will see you there?

Big thanks to Jim Hatfield for the following items –

*Cocktail Lounge, Norway: * LADIES ARE REQUESTED NOT TO HAVE CHILDREN IN THE BAR.

*Doctor’s Office, Rome: * SPECIALIST IN WOMEN AND OTHER DISEASES.

*Dry Cleaners, Bangkok: * DROP YOUR TROUSERS HERE FOR THE BEST RESULTS.

*A Nairobi Restaurant: * CUSTOMERS, WHO FIND OUR WAITRESSES RUDE, OUGHT TO SEE THE MANAGER.

*On the main road to Mombasa, leaving Nairobi: * TAKE NOTICE: WHEN THIS SIGN IS UNDER WATER, THIS ROAD IS IMPASSABLE.

*On a poster: * ARE YOU AN ADULT THAT CANNOT READ? IF SO, WE CAN HELP.

*In a City restaurant: * OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK AND WEEKENDS.

*In a Cemetery: * PERSONS ARE PROHIBITED FROM PICKING FLOWERS, FROM ANY BUT THEIR OWN GRAVES.

*Tokyo hotel’s rules and regulations: * GUESTS ARE REQUESTED NOT TO SMOKE, OR DO OTHER DISGUSTING BEHAVIORS, IN BED.

*On the menu of a Swiss Restaurant: * OUR WINES LEAVE YOU NOTHING TO HOPE FOR.

*Hotel, Yugoslavia: * THE FLATTENING OF UNDERWEAR WITH PLEASURE IS THE JOB OF THE CHAMBERMAID.

*In the lobby of a Moscow Hotel, across from a Russian Orthodox Monastery: * YOU ARE WELCOME TO VISIT THE CEMETERY, WHERE FAMOUS RUSSIAN AND SOVIET COMPOSERS, ARTISTS, AND WRITERS ARE BURIED DAILY, EXCEPT THURSDAY.

*A sign posted in Germany’s Black Forest: * IT IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN ON OUR BLACK FOREST CAMPING SITE, THAT PEOPLE OF DIFFERENT SEX, FOR INSTANCE, MEN AND WOMEN, LIVE TOGETHER IN ONE TENT, UNLESS THEY ARE MARRIED WITH EACH OTHER FOR THIS PURPOSE.

*Advertisement for donkey rides, Thailand: * WOULD YOU LIKE TO RIDE ON YOUR OWN ASS?

*Airline ticket office, Copenhagen: * WE TAKE YOUR BAGS AND SEND THEM IN ALL DIRECTIONS.

*A Laundry in Rome: * LADIES, LEAVE YOUR CLOTHES HERE AND THEN SPEND THE AFTERNOON HAVING A GOOD TIME.

*And finally, the all-time classic, Seen in an Abu Dhabi Souk shop window: * IF THE FRONT IS CLOSED, PLEASE ENTER THROUGH MY BACKSIDE.

That’s it for this month – Enjoy Spring !

Clay, CPBE – aka K7CR

The KEØVH Hamshack for March 2016

Hamshack March 2016

The KEØVH Hamshack for March 2016

Hamshack Photo March 2016

     The latest layout of the KEØVH Hamshack November 2015 till now!

I am continuing to recover from the head and neck cancer treatments. My doctors say I am doing great, the cancer cells are dying and going away, and I am progressing well. I will be getting another PET scan in the next couple of months for the follow up. As of this writing (which is really late for March, sorry Bill!) I am back up to speed enough to be taking some day trips to transmitter sites and doing some work that really needs to get done. I really want to thank my contractors and all the K-LOVE staff for all their help during the time I was in treatments and was not able to travel or take care of the things I usually do. Thanks to Rich Anderson W9BNO, Bill Frost WØBX, Greg Beveridge WB7AHO, Mike Baldur, Ray Uberecken AAØL, Jon Banks in Glenwood Springs, and of course all the fine folks at EMF who supported and prayed (and still do) for me, plus other friends around the country. I have been blessed beyond ALL imagination with love, care, support and friendship. I am grateful to our Lord for it all.

 

As a matter of fact, one of the things as I mentioned previously was that my wife and I want to do some motorcycle riding around the state of Colorado. What a more beautiful place to do so I cannot imagine. So as of the weekend of 3/12 to 13, I took a beginners motorcycle course sanctioned by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation of the USA at Blue creek Motorcycle School here in the Denver area and HIGHLY recommend this school if you are in the area and ever decide you want to pursue riding a bike with great training on how to be the safest you can be on a motorcycle. (http://www.bluecreekmotorcycletraining.com/) They even test you at the end of the two day course in skills riding and the written exam then when you pass it they give you a voucher to take the Colorado DMV so you can get your license motorcycle endorsement. So that is what I did. This is REALLY COOL! So now, after paying off medical bills we will look into getting a bike of our own one day in the next year or so. In the meantime I will probably rent a bike to practice on occasionally and get more experience. Lots of fun, YOU BET!

Jack on Bike

Training on a Honda Nightwing 250

 

Listening to a podcast of “Hamnation” with Bob Heil, I heard Bob talk about the “gentlemen’s agreement” about band use specifically concerning AM mode windows on the ham bands. Now this is not an official “band plan”, or allocations, but back in the days when AM was KING and SSB was starting to become popular on the HF bands, there were certain frequencies that were generally agreed upon to continue to operate in the AM mode. The ARRL has a couple of excellent pages on operating in this nostalgic but still really useful mode, especially if you enjoy the wider bandwidth fidelity of a great sounding AM station. Check out: http://www.arrl.org/am-frequencies.   Many have not only restored old AM tube rigs but when a broadcast AM station has retired an old transmitter these enterprising amateurs have even converted the transmitters to the 160, 80 and even some 40 meter operation. Check out http://www.amwindow.org/ for even more information and some great reading.

 

Here is another old Zenith model Royal 1000 radio as seen in the Kevin Costner movie “Thirteen Days”, a movie about the Cuban Missile crisis. Way too cool man! I have a model Royal 3000 Zenith. The 1000 was the first transistorized model that the company put out after stopping production on their tube radios, finishing out with the 600 series, like my A600 Zenith Transoceanic I featured here a month or so ago.

Costner

Actor Kevin Costner in “13 Days” with the Zenith Transoceanic Royal 1000 radio on the office shelf.

 

PRAISE GOD! We are making great progress on getting KLCX Pueblo (Rye CO) on air with its “new” to me Continental 816-R 5C. After a window in the weather where my crew from Galvanized Endeavors out of Colorado Springs (Alex Arpins Tower climbing do it all guys) was able to transport the transmitter from their loading dock to the site, up a really snowy road using chains, and some great help from Rich Anderson and Mike Baldauf, we are now turning the transmitter on and going thru the tuning process. It was a great day when I was able to turn it on and begin the tuning process. We did run into a couple of snags though and will get’er done here soon. These pics tell the tale:

XmtrTrailer01

I think I can I think I can I think I can, I KNEW I COULD I KNEW I COULD!

XmtrTrailer02

Delivery at the building! GREAT JOB GUYS!

And KEØVH getting to turn it on for the first time!

JackAtXmtr

And hey, how about some antenna stuff? Here is the latest addition to the antenna farm on “Truckzilla”! As some of you may remember, the K-LOVE company truck is a big Ford F-250, and when I went to work for EMF I had been driving a Dodge Neon before as a commuting vehicle, and going into a large truck was huge difference. So hence, “Truckzilla”! JJJ On board is my APRS setup, and a Yaesu FT-857D mobile HF thru 440 rig. My HF antenna is a ham stick (I have several different ones for different bands), and APRS antenna, and of course a 2 meter/440 antenna. I just replaced a Larsen 2m/440 antennas with a higher gain Diamond SG7500 NMO antenna with a 3.5 dB gain on 2 meters and 6 dB on 70cm! This is almost double what my Larsen was capable of. And, I ordered it off of Amazon.com on a Friday. Couldn’t believe it, it was here on the following Monday! Free shipping too from HamCity.com. And in the first week it definitely performed better than the old antenna. This will improve the signal received and transmitted thru the mountains of Colorado for sure. Great buy and value. Check it out at: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AR0A2M4?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00 or http://www.diamondantenna.net/sg7500nmo.html. Or you can get even more gain with their SG7900 model, but it is taller and requires more than a magnetic mount, or a very large one. The one I use is a 5 inch diameter model and it does very well with this antenna at highway speeds.

Antennas

You can also see the Ham stick and APRS antenna in this shot too. The Diamond antenna also looks really cool too.

 

And speaking of antennas, I am really glad that my contractor Mike Baldauf turned me on to the copper J-Pole antenna’s made by KB0BVR. They make several different models for different VHF frequencies and Mike had told me that they make very tough wind resistant antennas that he has used for EAS reception at some of his other stations. This really appealed to me as the winds in Colorado can sometimes get hurricane force and above in the mountains and Front Range. I have had to deal with a few broken, bent, and de-ranged (I like that) EAS reception antenna’s at several of my sites here. They cost in the 30’s, have several different frequency bands to choose from, and are easy to mount and setup. I chose the weather “band” model as most stations don’t have a problem picking up the LP1 and LP2 broadcast stations but the weather stations are of course sometimes a lot weaker. The first one I installed out on the NE plains of Colorado at a site worked very well and since the winds get really high out there I am looking forward to seeing how durable it is at this site in particular.

The J-Pole and mounted to the building

JPole02

 

JPole01

The signal received by the antenna was full quieting on the 2 broadcast stations and the weather station received by this site. A pretty good solution price wise, and in durability. AND, it would be fairly easy to duplicate cheaper with a trip to a hardware store! J

Don’t forget the Monday Night Broadcast Engineering

IRLP (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

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

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio. The first and

3rd Mondays are also SBE NET nights. Details on how to

Join 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’ & God be with you. See you next time! de KEØVH

 

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