WXHC in Homer, New York will never be listed on the NY Stock Exchange. Is that bad?
WXHC, Homer, New York
They don’t think so. A small class A FM station, one of many that signed on in the early 1990’s as part of the 80-90 drop ins (FCC docket 80-90, for those unfamiliar). Many of these stations did not fair too well and ended up being absorbed by larger stations and groups starting with the first wave of ownership deregulation in 1993.
WHXC has remained under the same ownership since it signed on in 1991. Eves Broadcasting is a family operation, employing maybe half a dozen people. Their studios and offices are on the third floor of the Bank of Niagara right in the center of town. The facility is very nice. Like any successful radio station, their focus is the community they serve. The format is “Oldies” but they also broadcast high school football, Syracuse sports and so on. They host a yearly Blue Grass festival on the village green.
WXHC air studio
The air studio has an Arrakis console and uses BSI Simian automation software. They have live DJ’s from 6am to 6pm, local news, weather, sports, etc.
WXHC production room console
The production room has a BE Spotmaster 8S200A console from 1978. Aside from needing some power supply capacitors, it still works relatively well. However, as the owner’s son said; that thing belongs in a museum.
BE Spotmaster line input card
BE Spotmaster line input card. Probably can still get all these parts if we wanted to.
I forgot to take pictures of the transmitter site when I was there. Next time.
We will be working on several projects for these folks, so I will keep you posted on the progress.
Political Warning! Turn away now if you wish to remain blissfuly ignorent.
На сей раз Путин прав.
Who do you think you’re foolin’ with?
For those of you who don’t govoroo pa Rooski (speak in Russian), it says: Na sey raz Putin prav.
What, specifically, is he right about? Syria: Who caused it, the resulting humanitarian crisis, the refugees in Europe, and so on. Also, the question: What is the difference between a moderate rebel and an immoderate one? Well… Starting with the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the US involvement in the region has been either grossly incompetent or blatantly evil or perhaps a combination of the two. Remember the humanitarian bombs in Libya? The opening salvo of 138 tomahawk missiles ($1.2M each)? To be sure, Muammar Gaddafi was no saint, but compared to the people who are running Libya now, he was Ma Teresa.
The US has spent approximately $500M training these “moderate rebels,” but according to the CENTCOM commander, number only “four or five.” They are just pissing away money and our kids are going to have to pay it back. When will somebody stand up and ask: What the hell is going on around here?
By the way; Путин не мой герой, which makes it even sadder still.
UPDATE:Turns out it was nothing…
National Weather Service, Hurricane Joaquin, October 3, 1800 UTC
Could be something. It might be nothing. Better top of the fuel tanks just in case…
National Weather Service, Hurricane Joaquin, September 30, 1800 UTC
On top of all the other scheduled projects taking place, we have a bad generator fuel transfer pump at one of the E911 sites that should be replaced before Monday, apparently.
To sort of offset the previous post; not all is bad. We have been able to install some backup power solutions before winter. The best part, we got this work done before the temperatures moved to the negative digits.
The 18 KVA UPS:
Eaton Powerware 9170+ 18 KVA UPS
I like this unit. It is completely modular, with removable battery packs and hot plugable power modules, this thing looks pretty bullet proof. Here it is with the covers off:
Eaton Powerware 9170+ 18 KVA UPS covers off
The top six positions are power modules, each one handles 3 KVA. The bottom are the battery packs. Right now the load is about 6.5 KW and the run time is 18 minutes. Mounted on the wall to the right, a make before break bypass switch and a 25 KVA dry core isolation transformer.
Another generator replacement:
The old and slightly long at the tooth Generac genset being hauled away.
Old generator, off to generator heaven
New Cummins Power GGHE-1515890 60 KW propane genset, test under load:
Cummins power generator, test with 35% load
With gas powered generators, it is fine to break them in with fairly light loads. I think the maximum load this unit will see with current transmitter equipment is 60%, and that is if all AC units are running, the main transmitter, the HD transmitter and the backup transmitter being tested into the load.
Oh jeez, make it stop:
Somebody got busy…
Station has been “flickering on and off…” for the last three days…
Hey, you know that stuff that has been laying around the shop for the last three years? Why don’t you store it at the transmitter site?
No matter what you do, save everything. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever throw anything away ever.
You never know when you might need a leaking capacitor with a hole in the side of it…
The company I work for is taking over engineering for more and more radio stations. That is good for business, and good for us as contract engineers, but Great Caesar’s Ghost, some of these places are downright dangerous. Why, just the other day, while I was working at a transmitter site at which both the main and backup transmitters were fed with one fused disconnect, the contact fingers severely overheated to the point of crumbling and I was standing on an aluminum ladder, inside of a steel box (shipping container) using a wooden broom handle to push the contact arms back into place because the station was off the air all the while thinking to myself; there has to be an easier way to earn a living.
DTS, Inc (NQ:DTSI) is to acquire iBiquity for $172M USD. This was the headline about the middle of last week. With that announcement, we get to see some of iBiquity’s financials; revenue of $40-50 million this year with a margin of 30-36%.
My question is, who or what is DTS? DTS was initially known as Digital Theater Systems, Inc. They specialize in digital surround sound technology, by developing or acquiring companies that created various CODECs and surround sound technology.
An image of 35 mm film showing four audio formats, from left to right: SDDS (blue area to the left of the sprocket holes), Dolby Digital (grey area between the sprocket holes with the Dolby “Double-D”), analog optical sound (the two white lines to the right of the sprocket holes), and the DTS time code (the dashed line to the far right). The DTS time code syncs picture to a CD-ROM that contains the surround sound sound track.
DTS continues to develop surround sound technology and makes money by licensing that technology to consumer and professional audio clients. According to their 2015 Q2 financials, they are on track to make $140-145 million this year with a 25-30% margin.
My next question is, what does this mean for HD Radio? It is much harder to answer this question, but here are some general observations:
- DTS is a publicly traded company. Financials and other information are a matter of public record. It seems likely that the operation will be more transparent.
- DTS operates with higher revenue and lower margins.
- DTS has a high interest in mobile markets; devices and dashboards.
- DTS has a history of continued development and marketing of technology it owns.
There are a couple of different scenarios possible; the first is business as usual. I think this is the least likely situation. IBiquity as a company and HD Radio as a technology basically flat lined ten years ago. A successful company like DTS would not likely purchase something that does not have growth potential.
Second possibility, DTS will keep the same licensing structure, but upgrade the HD Radio technology. From a audiophile’s perspective; HD-1 sounds good, HD-2, 3, and 4 channels not so much. This is especially true as more channels are added and the same size pie (aggregate digital bandwidth) gets divvied up into smaller and smaller pieces. One area where HD Radio could shine is to get rid of the HD2-4 channels and create an IP multicast system. IPv6 has greatly improved multicast performance which might enable a free data stream download, minimal data back haul via mobile data for an interactive, low data usage digital experience. That would free up a lot of translators.
Third possibility, DTS will reduce the licensing fees for broadcasters and consumers and accept a lower margin on existing technology. DTS will use HD Radio as a route to get their technology into dashboards, which is where they see their future profits. Remember, the self driving car is only a few years away and mobile entertainment will be all the next rage.
As far as AM HD Radio goes, I don’t see anything happening with that. Medium wave broadcast channels do not offer enough bandwidth to facilitate reliable digital transmission.
In any case, for better or for worse, change is coming to terrestrial radio.
It has been hot out around here the last week or so. Somebody’s office server needed a little extra help:
Office server fan
I am not a fan (pun intended) of this type of thing. Too often, we make do with things that are simply substandard. In an emergency, I get it; you do what you have to to get things going again. However, after the system is recovered comes the remedial phase, which includes making permanent repairs, replacing outdated equipment, installing things properly, making sure that wiring meets electrical code, documentation, labeling, etc.
The remedial phase is often neglected or forgotten altogether. There are two reasons for this; the “saving money” reason, or the too busy to deal with it reason. However, later on, we or the person that follow us, will have to deal with this again after some sort of catastrophic failure. Then there will be the questions: How did this happen? How long has it been like that? and so on.
As far as saving money goes; you are not. Cutting corners may save a few pennies in the short term, but long term, it only creates bigger problems which will have to be dealt with at some point. Doing things the right way will shift the engineering effort from a reactive (e.g. fire fighting) to a proactive stance and everyone will be much happier.
This is the first one of these transmitters that I have installed. This particular unit is analog only, but there is lots of room left over for an HD exciter, if need be.
GatesAir Flexiva FAX-10, 10.000 watt FM transmitter
The size of a 10 KW FM transmitter these days is pretty small, basically taking up the equivalent of one rack. This is a relatively small transmitter room, the old tube transmitter basically took up the entire room. With this unit, there is room to install a full power spare, if that was desired.
GatesAir Flexiva series RF modules.
RF modules use LDMOSFET devices, each module has a power output of approximately 1,600 watts.
GatesAir Flexiva FAX10 power amp section
There are eight power amp modules and seven switching power supplies.
GatesAir FAX10 transmitter on the air
GatesAir FAX10, licensed transmitter power output
One issue at this site, there is no reliable three phase power available. There was a three phase open delta, but man, that thing scares me a little bit. Since this is a single phase setup, I was curious to know what the current draw on each leg was at full power. I measured with my clamp on ammeter; 54.3 Amps at 120 volts, or 6516 watts per leg. Overall power draw 13,032 making the AC to RF efficiency 65.2%. VSWR calculates out to 1.21, which is not great. I think the antenna could use a little bit of tuning love.
I little bit of local awesomeness from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department:
A Patterson (NY) man was committed to the Putnam County Jail in lieu of bail in connection with three separate thefts of copper fixtures from cell communications towers in Patterson and Kent.
The rest can be read here: Man charged with stealing copper from cellphone tower sites
I once got into an argument with my boss about transmitter site security cameras. His attitude was “what difference does it make, nobody will do anything about it anyway.” Clearly, if the police have something to go on, they will take action. I know that several E911 sites in Dutchess and Ulster counties have been victims of copper theft as well.
IP security cameras are inexpensive and fairly reliable, provided you keep them out of the direct elements. We have dozens of old Windows XP computers floating around which, with the addition of a software package like Blue Iris, can be repurposed as a record and save system. The advantage of Blue Iris is the record on motion. The cameras do not need to be monitored continuously; if something happens, go back and look at the stored video.
The old Windows XP boxes do not need to be connected to the outside world unless one wants to look at the security system from the studio or home. Alternatively, if one is Linux savvy, something like Zoneminder or Xeoma look like full featured video surveillance software packages. I have not fooled around with these yet, but perhaps when I have some spare time…
The point is, for not too much money, a full featured video surveillance system can be installed at remote transmitter sites to keep track of comings and goings. If enough idiots get busted for stealing copper, perhaps it will stop (or at least slow down).
Work continues on rebuilding the North Adams tower after the collapse of March 2014. Over last winter, a new tower was erected. This is a fairly substantial tower.
New North Adams tower on ground
North Adams new tower erected
In the interim, a new Shively 6810 four bay half wave spaced antenna was ordered. This antenna will be combined for two stations, WUPE-FM and WNNI using a Shively 2630-2-06 branched combiner. The 70 foot utility pole next to the building will be retained as backup facility for both stations. The Shively Antenna went up in stages.
New WUPE-FM and WNNI Shively 6810 antenna
Tower climbers rigging tower for new antenna
Prescott Tower from Rutland Vermont was on site to do the tower work. They were the primary contractor for installing the new tower and did a really nice job of it.
New North Adams tower ice bridges to various shelters
Hanging the top two bays of new antenna
Lift of bottom two bays and first tuning section
Securing bottom section and bolting bays together
After that, there was twenty feet of rigid line, another tuning section, then the 1 5/8 inch helax into the transmitter room. The antenna was tuned and the load looks very good. We are waiting for the electrician to finish wiring up the new racks and we will move both stations into their new home.