June 2011
M T W T F S S
« May   Jul »
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930  

Archives

Categories

Night of Nights, 2011

RCA coastal radio station KPH, Pt Reyes National Park

RCA coastal radio station KPH, Pt Reyes National Park

Being a former CW operator and feeling nostalgic from time to time, I subscribe to the Radiomarine Yahoo group.  Each year, on July 12th, they commemorate the end of commercial Morse Code (CW) in the US by activating several of the former Coastal Stations.  This year is no different:

Each year the MRHS commemorates 12 July 1999, the date on which the supposed last commercial message was sent in the US. On that date we pick up the thread, keep the faith and maintain the traditions of maritime radio communications so that the skills and traditions of all the radiotelegraphers who came before us will be maintained.

While MRHS station KSM is on the air every Saturday, on Night of Nights we originate stations KPH and KFS in addition to KSM. We hope that other stations will join us on the air this year including KLB and WLO.

You can participate by listening or by visiting the ex-RCA receive site to see the action in person. If you’d like to operate K6KPH just bring your key. No license required! If you have a commercial radiotelegraph license bring it along. You can sit the circuit at KSM and have your license endorsed for coast station service.

Here are the details of the event:

Date: 12 July 2010 Pacific time, 13 July gmt

Doors open: 3:00pm Pacific time

On air time: 5:01pm Pacific time, 0001 gmt

Station and frequency information (subject to change):

—–

KPH

KPH will transmit on 426, 500, 4247.0, 6477.5, 8642.0, 12808.5, 17016.8 and 22477.5kc.

MF and 22Mc will be on Henry transmitters, rest of KPH HF on 1950s vintage RCA K and L sets.

KPH operators will listen for calls from ships on ITU Channel 3 in all bands. The Channel 3 frequencies are 4184.0, 6276.0, 8368.0, 12552.0, 16736.0 and 22280.5kc on HF and 500kc on MF.

Reception reports may be sent to:

Ms. DA Stoops
P.O. Box 381
Bolinas CA 94924-0381
USA

—–

KFS

KFS will transmit on 12695.5 and 17026.0 –

12695.5 will be on a 1940s vintage Press Wireless PW-15, formerly at the KFS transmitter site in Palo Alto, CA and one of the transmitters on the air on 12 July 1999. 17026.0 will be on a Henry transmitter.

KFS will listen for calls from ships on HF Channel 3 (see KPH listing for frequencies) .

Reception reports may be sent to:

Ms. DA Stoops
P.O. Box 381
Bolinas CA 94924-0381
USA

—–

KSM

KSM will transmit on 426, 500, 6474, 8438.3 and 12993kc.

We don’t have enough antennas to accommodate the other KSM frequencies when KPH and KFS are on the air. A failure of any of the RCAt ransmitters may cause a KSM transmitter to be diverted to cover KPH.

KSM will listen for calls from ships on 500kc and HF Channel 3 (see KPH listing for frequencies) .

Reception reports may be sent to:

Ms. DA Stoops
P.O. Box 381
Bolinas CA 94924-0381
USA

—–

To be confirmed

WLO

WLO will transmit on 2055.5, 4343.0, 8658.0, 12992.0 and 16968.5kc

WLO will listen for calls from HF Channel 3(see KPH listing for frequencies) .

Reception reports may be sent to:

WLO Radio
7700 RINLA AVENUE
MOBILE, ALABAMA 36619
USA

—–

To be confirmed

KLB

KLB will transmit on 488, 500 (A1 & A2), 8582.5kc

KLB will listen for calls from ships on 500kc and 8368.0kc.

Reception reports may be sent to:

WLO Radio
7700 RINLA AVENUE
MOBILE, ALABAMA 36619
USA

—–

K6KPH

K6KPH, the MRHS amateur station, will transmit and listen on 3550, 7050 14050 and 21050kc for KPH, KFS and KSM reception reports.

Professional operators will be at the key and commercial procedures will be used. But please don’t hesitate to call, no matter what your code speed or experience level may be.

K6KPH verification reports may be sent to:

Ms. DA Stoops
P.O. Box 381
Bolinas CA 94924-0381
USA

—–

Remember, this is a public event. If you are in the area you are invited to join us at the RCA receive site, 17000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd in thePoint Reyes National Seashore north of San Francisco. If using a computer mapping program add “Inverness” after the address above even though the station is well beyond that town.

Doors open at 3:00pm Pacific time. Snacks will be served. Tours of the transmitting station may be arranged for “true believers” by appointment only.

This year, MHRS is looking for volunteer CW operators to man the circuits. Those with a commercial telegrapher’s license can sit at the operating position for KSM, KPH, KFS. Those without a license or with an amateur radio license can sit the K6KPH position.

Oh, how I wish I could be in San Francisco this July 12th!  Unfortunately, that is also the date of my wedding anniversary.  Perhaps one of these years I can convince my lovely wife to take a trip.

Things that make you go hmmm, part III

Continuing the series, this is a picture of an ice bridge installation I recently saw:

Ground wires on an ice bridge

Ground wires on an ice bridge

On an otherwise neat installation, it appears there is something wrong with the way these ground wires are connected to the support poles of an ice bridge.  I am not sure how effective that connection will be if lightning hits anything nearby.  Generally speaking, those wires are CAD welded (exothermic welding) to the support poles or whatever else is supposed to be grounded.  I’d bet that whoever packed the truck for the job simply forgot to throw the CAD weld shots on the truck.

Now they have to come back.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes whatever tower company to return to the site and finish the job.

So, you call this work?

A trip to the WSPK transmitter site on a pleasant day, or, one could say, another day at the “office.”  Tower painting season is here, I’ll post some more about that later.  This is a nice set of pictures from the top of Mt. Beacon, in Beacon, NY.

Hudson Valley looking north from Mt. Beacon

Hudson Valley looking north from Mt. Beacon

South Mount  Beacon with the old fire tower:

Mount Beacon looking south at the old fire tower

Mount Beacon looking south at the old fire tower

Tower farm; two TV stations, Media Flow, one radio station, three translators, several cell carriers, one paging company, some government two way gear, and a few microwave relays.  The 320 foot guyed tower in the center holds the main (top) and backup (bottom) antennas for WSPK:

Mount Beacon Tower Farm

Mount Beacon Tower Farm

Tower climbers ascending a 320 foot tower.  This picture (and all the others as well) was taken with my HTC smartphone camera, proving the old adage, sometimes it is better to be lucky than good:

Tower workers on 320 foot guyed tower

Tower workers on 320 foot guyed tower

View from the ATC site at the very top of North Mount Beacon of the tower workers painting the top of the tower:

Tower workers painting torque arms on 320 foot guyed tower

Tower workers painting torque arms on 320 foot guyed tower

Another view from the ground:

Tower workers on Mt Beacon tower

Tower workers on Mt Beacon tower

All in all, not a bad day.

New York State passes Anti Pirate Radio law (S-5739, A-326)

I wrote about this before, garnering several negative comments, both from the cost and effectiveness perspectives. Prompted by the New York State Broadcasters Association, the Senate and Assembly passed the legislation on Wednesday. It was refined somewhat, with frequencies specified in the AM broadcast and FM broadcast band.  The revised writing softens the criminality somewhat, making the first offense a class A misdemeanor and subsequent offenses class D felonies.

It also broadens the enforcement actions to allow seizure and destruction of radio transmission equipment, antennas, computers, and studio equipment used during the act. The law provides no provision for part 15 broadcasting, which is defined as license free operation under FCC rules.

The law amends the NY State Penal code, by adding section 190:

S 190.72 UNAUTHORIZED RADIO TRANSMISSION IN THE SECOND DEGREE.
 A PERSON IS GUILTY OF AN UNAUTHORIZED RADIO TRANSMISSION IN THE SECOND
 DEGREE WHEN SUCH PERSON:
 1.  KNOWINGLY  MAKES OR CAUSES TO BE MADE A RADIO TRANSMISSION IN THIS
 STATE, ON RADIO FREQUENCIES ASSIGNED AND LICENSED BY THE FEDERAL  COMMU
 NICATIONS  COMMISSION  FOR USE BY AM RADIO STATIONS BETWEEN THE FREQUEN
 CIES OF 530 KHZ TO 1700 KHZ, OR FM RADIO STATIONS BETWEEN  THE  FREQUEN
 CIES  OF  88  MHZ TO 108 MHZ, WITHOUT FIRST HAVING OBTAINED A LICENSE OR
 OTHER AUTHORIZATION FROM THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION, OR  DULY
 AUTHORIZED FEDERAL AGENCY; OR
 2.  KNOWINGLY  CAUSES,  EITHER DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, INTERFERENCE TO
 ANY AM RADIO STATIONS BETWEEN THE FREQUENCIES OF 530 KHZ TO 1700 KHZ, OR
 FM RADIO STATIONS BETWEEN THE FREQUENCIES OF 88 MHZ TO 108  MHZ  WITHOUT
 AUTHORIZATION  BY  THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION OR DULY AUTHOR
 IZED FEDERAL AGENCY.
 ANY EQUIPMENT, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE TRANSMITTING  ANTENNA,
 TRANSMITTER, MASTER CONTROL, SERVERS AND COMPUTERS, USED TO PROVIDE SUCH
 ILLEGAL  RADIO  TRANSMISSIONS  SHALL  BE  SUBJECT  TO  SEIZURE AND, UPON
 CONVICTION, SUBJECT TO DESTRUCTION  PURSUANT  TO  ARTICLE  FOUR  HUNDRED
 SEVENTEEN OF THIS CHAPTER.
 UNAUTHORIZED  RADIO  TRANSMISSION  IN  THE  SECOND DEGREE IS A CLASS A
 MISDEMEANOR.

S 2. The penal law is amended by adding a new section 190.73  to  read
 as follows:

S 190.73 UNAUTHORIZED RADIO TRANSMISSION IN THE FIRST DEGREE.
 A  PERSON  IS  GUILTY  OF UNAUTHORIZED RADIO TRANSMISSION IN THE FIRST
 DEGREE WHEN HE OR SHE COMMITS THE CRIME  OF  UNAUTHORIZED  RADIO  TRANS
 MISSION  IN THE SECOND DEGREE PURSUANT TO SECTION 190.72 OF THIS ARTICLE
 AND HAS PREVIOUSLY BEEN CONVICTED WITHIN  THE  PRECEDING  TEN  YEARS  OF
 UNAUTHORIZED  RADIO  TRANSMISSION  IN  THE SECOND DEGREE. ANY EQUIPMENT,
 INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED  TO  THE  TRANSMITTING  ANTENNA,  TRANSMITTER,
 MASTER  CONTROL,  SERVERS  AND  COMPUTERS,  USED TO PROVIDE SUCH ILLEGAL
 RADIO TRANSMISSIONS SHALL BE SUBJECT TO SEIZURE  AND,  UPON  CONVICTION,
 SUBJECT  TO  DESTRUCTION  PURSUANT  TO ARTICLE FOUR HUNDRED SEVENTEEN OF
 THIS CHAPTER.  UNAUTHORIZED RADIO TRANSMISSION IN THE FIRST DEGREE IS A CLASS D
 FELONY.

S 3. The penal law is amended by adding a new article 417 to  read  as
 follows:
 ARTICLE 417
 SEIZURE AND DESTRUCTION OF TRANSMITTING ANTENNA, TRANSMITTER,
 MASTER CONTROL, SERVERS AND COMPUTERS, USED TO PROVIDE ILLEGAL
 RADIO TRANSMISSIONS
 SECTION 417.00 SEIZURE  AND  DESTRUCTION OF TRANSMITTING ANTENNA, TRANS
 MITTER, MASTER CONTROL, SERVERS AND COMPUTERS, USED  TO
 PROVIDE ILLEGAL RADIO TRANSMISSIONS.

S  417.00  SEIZURE AND DESTRUCTION OF TRANSMITTING ANTENNA, TRANSMITTER,
 MASTER CONTROL, SERVERS AND COMPUTERS, USED TO PROVIDE ILLEGAL RADIO TRANSMISSIONS.
 ANY EQUIPMENT UTILIZED IN VIOLATION OF SECTION  190.72  OR  190.73  OF
 THIS  CHAPTER MAY BE SEIZED BY ANY POLICE OFFICER UPON THE ARREST OF ANY
 INDIVIDUAL IN POSSESSION OF THE SAME. UPON FINAL  DETERMINATION  OF  THE
 CHARGES,  THE COURT SHALL, UPON NOTICE FROM THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY, ENTER
 AN  ORDER  PRESERVING  ANY  TRANSMITTING  ANTENNA,  TRANSMITTER,  MASTER
 CONTROL,  SERVERS  AND  COMPUTERS,  USED TO PROVIDE ILLEGAL RADIO TRANS
 MISSIONS FOR USE IN OTHER CASES, INCLUDING A CIVIL ACTION.  THIS  NOTICE
 MUST BE RECEIVED WITHIN THIRTY DAYS OF FINAL DETERMINATION OF THE CHARG
 ES.  THE  COST  OF STORAGE, SECURITY AND DESTRUCTION OF ITEMS SO ORDERED
 FOR PRESERVATION AND USE AS EVIDENCE IN A CIVIL  ACTION,  OTHER  THAN  A
 CIVIL  ACTION  UNDER  ARTICLE  THIRTEEN-A  OF THE CIVIL PRACTICE LAW AND
 RULES INITIATED BY THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY, SHALL BE  PAID  BY  THE  PARTY
 SEEKING  PRESERVATION  OF  THE  EVIDENCE  FOR A CIVIL ACTION. IF NO SUCH
 ORDER IS ENTERED WITHIN THE THIRTY DAY PERIOD, THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY  OR
 CUSTODIAN  OF THE SEIZED PROPERTY MUST CAUSE SUCH ITEMS TO BE DESTROYED.
 DESTRUCTION SHALL NOT INCLUDE AUCTION,  SALE,  OR  DISTRIBUTION  OF  THE
 ITEMS IN THEIR ORIGINAL FORM.

Law takes effect on November 1, 2011.

In order to gain a conviction, some amount of evidence would be needed.  Signal strength measurements and or spectrum analysis would be a minimum requirement, in addition to any equipment seized.

Discuss.

The Onan RS-15000 Generator

It is a cute little thing. This one is being installed at a mountain top transmitter site for a class A WKIP-FM in Ellenville, NY.  It is way up in the air (at least by local standards) at 2,450 feet AMSL.  As such, the TPO is only 300 watts into a one bay antenna.  Therefore, even this little generator will be loafing along.  I added all the rack equipment up, both transmitters (main and backup), and the electric resistance heater and came up with a grand total of 6,300 watts.  The working load today was 3,200 watts, which I would assume is about average.

Onan RS-15000 at transmitter site with ice shield

Onan RS-15000 at transmitter site with ice shield

Denis, my sometimes helper, build an ice shield over the top of the unit with pressure treated wood.  This unit was placed about 40 feet away from the 140 foot tower, next to the concrete block building.  Still, on a windy day, I could see some chunks of ice flying off the tower in this direction.

It has a Lister/Petter 1900 cc engine, 1800 RPM, 240 volt split phase generator.  At 25% load, it burns 1.2 gallons of propane per hour.

Onan RS-15000 gaseous generator

Onan RS-15000 gaseous generator

This is annoying. The gas installer blocked access to one of the through holes in the bottom of the enclosure frame. Actually, more than annoying, downright annoying as it blocked the exact center of the hole.  I had to move the regulator up about two inches so I could run the 1 inch flex under the gas line.  This, in turn, led to some amount of swearing.

Gas supply to generator installed by selfish gas man

Gas supply to generator installed by selfish gas man or woman

Other side of the engine:

Lister petter 4 cylinder 1900 cc engine

Lister Petter 4 cylinder 1900 cc engine

Push rods going to rocker arms over the cylinders.  Low tech, under head cam engine. That’s okay, so long as it works when it is supposed to.

Onan RS-15000 generator wired to transmitter building

Onan RS-15000 generator wired to transmitter building

PVC conduit running into the transfer switch.  The final connection is made with liquid tight flexible metal conduit (FMC).  The control wiring is run in a separate 1/2 inch conduit, as required by NEC.

Engineering Radio is Two Years Old

Happy birthday to us! I was looking through the past posts of this blog and found much of it still relevant today. There were some older video posts where the videos are no longer available on youtube, those were deleted.

I continue to look for subjects to blog about while keeping the subject matter pertinent to broadcast engineering or some aspect of radio in general.  With so many things going on, this can be hard to do.

Here are a few stats:

  • Average daily page views: 400
  • Average unique visitors, daily: 240
  • Average returning visitors, daily: 37
  • RSS subscribers: 73
  • Total posts: 323
  • Total comments: 911
  • Total $pam comments: 52,403
  • Average number of comments per post: 2.8
  • Average number of $pam comments per post: 162

Which brings me to this; I use an aggressive $pam filter.  There is no way that I would be able to keep up with the number of junk comments received otherwise.  If you have posted a legitimate comment and it doesn’t show up after a period of time, e-mail me and I’ll look into it.  Chances are very good that some legitimate comments have been deleted by the $pam filter, for which I apologize.

Many of my unique visitors come from Google searches which is strange considering it’s page rank is 0/10.

I continue to enjoy blogging about the everyday life of a broadcast engineer and thank all of my readers and subscribers for their interest.  It is entertaining and enlightening to read all of your comments and e-mails.  For as long as there is interest, the writing project will proceed.

 

AM radio sucks! It's horrible, sounds terrible and should be turned off!

This is a youtube video of a Police song from the 1980’s received via skywave and recorded off air on an AM radio.

Video Description:

The classic 1983 #1 smash hit, as received in analog C-Quam AM Stereo… in Japan… via nighttime skywave in the Tokyo area, roughly 500 miles away from Sapporo (ed: where the station is located). The audio quality is among the best I’ve ever heard from analog AM radio, thanks in large part to an excellent wideband receiver, very quiet band conditions, and the Orban Optimod-AM 9100 audio processor being used by HBC Radio to its maximum extent: 12.5 kHz audio bandwidth with stereo enhancement added (above and beyond the amount naturally provided by the matrix processing used by AM Stereo).

Absolute trash, I tell you. Just awful.

Of course, I know several FM stations around here that wished they sounded as good. Naturally, in Japan, they have sought to minimize night time interference problems by limiting the number of stations on air and enforcing the rules and regulations in place to protect those stations on the air. They also seem to allow greater bandwidth, out to 12.5 KHz in spite of the narrower channel allocations (9 KHz in ITU regions I and III, vs 10 KHz here in the US, ITU region II). One other thing to note, there is no digital buzz saw occupying several channels of broadcast spectrum. Keep in mind, this was received in Tokyo, likely a very high noise environment.

I was trying to find out the power level of the transmitter, the call sign is JOHR in Sapporo Japan, frequency is 1287 KHz. HBC is the Hokkaido Broadcasting Company, a privately held company. The state run radio outlets in Japan are NHK, which have several radio and TV stations throughout the islands.

Anyway, AM is dead. Killed by the very owners of the broadcasting companies themselves with help from the NAB. They are the ones that petitioned the FCC to loosen up the allocations and allow more and more stations to be crammed into the band. That is old news. The new news is same forces that killed AM radio are diligently working their magic on the FM band as well. More stations, translators, digital IBOC nonsense that doesn’t work, more of everything. After all, more is better. Until it is not. Then it’s too late.

Longwave Radio, Atlantic 252, Ireland

We don’t have any longwave stations in this country, other than the governments failed attempt at using long wave (WGU-20) for emergency communications in the 1970s and 80s. In Europe, Longwave continues to be used, mainly because of its excellent ground wave propagation can cover large distances without fading or interference.  Several have closed in recent years due to the expense of maintaining tall radio towers and higher quality programming sources.

This is a video of the transmitter site for Atlantic 252 in Ireland.  Atlantic 252 went defunct in 2001, however, the frequency is still in use by RTE radio 1.

500KW is quite a bit of power. The antenna mast is 248 meters, or 813 feet tall. Interestingly, RTE discontinued service on MW (AKA AM broadcast or standard broadcast) but left this signal on the air. Reportedly, this station has less power but better coverage.

WICC WEBE damaged tower removal

Damaged in last year’s F1 tornado, this thirty foot Rohn 25-G tower needed to be removed from the roof. It actually went faster than I though it would, the worst part being moving the 4 foot tower sections down to the salvage truck via elevator. Naturally, the day we choose to do this is the same day that one of the two elevators servicing the seventh floor is out of order.

Damaged Rohn 25G STL tower on roof of studio

Damaged Rohn 25G STL tower on roof of studio

This was the same tornado that picked up a twenty ton roof top air conditioner and deposited it in the parking lot.  Luck would have it that no one was killed or injured.

Rohn 25G buckled tower section

Rohn 25G buckled tower section

Using a circular saw with a metal blade, a sawsall and a hand grinder, the tower was cut up into four foot sections.   The sections, brackets and tower base were taken to the scrap yard and disposed of.

Tower and transmission lines

Tower and transmission lines ready to be removed from roof

There were several lengths of unused 7/8 inch foam coax, broken antennas, RG-59- RG-58, RG-6, rotor cable, etc that we cleaned off of the roof and tower.

The after picture

The after picture

A good little project to have completed.

The studio build out for WEBE is also nearly done.  August will mark one year of our company’s involvement at WICC/WEBE.  I was looking around today and comparing the difference between when we started to now.  Many things have been done.

The Nationwide Coordinated EAS test

This is a test, you have been warned.  The FCC has scheduled the first nationwide mandatory EAS test for November 9th, 2011 at 2pm EST (1900 UTC).  According to James A. Barnett, Jr., Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau:

For the test, FEMA will trigger the EAS “cascade” architecture by transmitting the EAS code used for national level emergencies to the first level of broadcast stations in the national-level of the EAS, which in turn will rebroadcast the alert to the general public, as well as to the next level of EAS participants monitoring them. This should continue through all levels of the system until the alert has been distributed throughout the entire county.

Since this date is beyond the CAP deadline of September 30, 2011, it seems like CAP would be the distribution method, but there is not anything I can find to verify that.  The above paragraph makes it sound like the PEP system might be used.

This will be an interesting evolution for a number of reasons.  If the EAS system fails operate as planned after giving five months warning for a nationwide test, it would point toward a fundamental design flaw in the system.  A more realistic test of the EAS system would involve perhaps one hours notice and then trigger the event.  Notice should be given so that broadcast station personal can answer questions from the listening and viewing public.

Then there is the EAS  EAN protocol itself.  There are many that feel, rightly or wrongly, that the federal government should not be able to take control of privately owned broadcast stations and cable systems for any reason.  The way that the EAS encoder/decoder units are now required to be wired into the audio air chain means it would be very hard to override any mandatory alert, such as an EAN, if there were a reason to do that.  There have been several instances of false alerts, WGN-AM being the most recent, where programming on down stream broadcast and cable systems were disrupted for several minutes.

So, save the date.  It will no doubt be interesting to see how this all works.

Axiom


A pessimist sees the glass as half empty. An optimist sees the glass as half full. The engineer sees the glass as twice the size it needs to be.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
~1st amendment to the United States Constitution

Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.
~Benjamin Franklin

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is hard business. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
~Rudyard Kipling

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers
~Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, Article 19

...radio was discovered, and not invented, and that these frequencies and principles were always in existence long before man was aware of them. Therefore, no one owns them. They are there as free as sunlight, which is a higher frequency form of the same energy.
~Alan Weiner

Free counters!