January 2014
M T W T F S S
« Dec   Feb »
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Archives

Categories

An open message to Linux

Tux, courtesy of  Larry Ewing and Linux

Tux, courtesy of Larry Ewing and Linux

Linux, oh Linux! Where have you been all my (adult) life? I know, I know, you have been right there all long, just waiting for me to get out of my Microsoft phase. Day after day, year after year, you have been sitting there thinking; when? When? When will he pay attention to me?  Well, I tell you I am through with that old, expensive habit. Sure, Microsoft has Windows and all that, but you have GUI’s too. Not to mention the wonderful open office suit.  Then there is the back end, I have always been a sucker for back ends. Yours is wide open, no inhibitions, no problems, no hangups. Microsoft? You can’t even look at their back end without an army of lawyers descending upon you with malice and litigation on their mind.

Up front, you seem complicated and high maintenance.  But once I got to know you, I found it is just the opposite; so simple and easy to get along with.

No, my Microsoft days are over, over I tell you.  I feel secure with you Linux, like you will adapt to my needs and communicate with me when troubles arise.  You won’t let malicious code get in the way of what could be a wonderful relationship.  What’s more, there are so many different versions of you, I feel like I can pick and choose operating systems based on what my needs are.  Finally, a computer that does what I want it to.

Sincerely,

Paul Thurst

CES 2014 and the Digital Radio question

I have been busy of late, however, still keeping abreast of the news of the day.  Along with that, CES 2014 wrapped up recently.  No huge developments, especially when it comes to Broadcasting.  However, there was one item of interest; the updated technical specifications of IEEE 802.11ac.

It is of interest here because of the implications of the mobile/portable data developments and their impact on traditional AM and FM broadcasting. The new specification calls for 1.2 Gbp/s per device in the initial release, increasing that throughput to 6 Gbp/s in later releases.  These data rates are for overall transmission, including the WiFi overhead.  Actual usable application data (layer 5-7) would be about 20 to 30 percent less.  Even so, 900 Mbp/s is a phenomenal data rate.  Truely I say to you; this is the future of digital broadcasting.  HD Radio™; it may well prove that the “HD” stood for “Huge Distraction.”

The new 802.11ac specification uses MU-MIMO, high density modulation, larger channel bandwidths, and beamforming technology in the 5 GHz WiFi spectrum.  Of course, the question is, at what distances will this system work?  If it is like conventional WiFi, then 100-200 feet is about all that can be expected.  However, there are also many people interested in wireless broadband (WiMAX) service as an alternative to traditional wired ISPs. For that application, having many outdoor 802.11ac nodes connected by a backbone could potentially blanket a city or campus with free high speed wireless data.

Example of cjdns network

Example of cjdns network

Along the same lines, there are many people involved in creating mesh networks of various types; be they ad-hoc mobile networks, darknets, bitclouds, etc. Mesh networking is a very interesting topic, for me at least.  The network protocols are getting better and more secure.  WiFi hardware is becoming less expensive and more reliable.  As more and more people put effort into developing protocols like cjdns, local mesh networks will become wide spread, unless they are outlawed.  You know; because of teh terrorism!!1!!

As it stands today, I can drive for two hours in mostly rural upstate NY and CT streaming my favorite radio programs and have nearly seamless hand offs and very few dropouts.  This is on my three year old, beat up 3G HTC android phone sitting in the passenger seat of my car.

Digital Radio is here, it is simply not the In Band On Channel system that legacy broadcaster’s have chosen.

I will read my copy, no matter what

Via youtube, the source of many unusual videos. It appears that this radio announcer will finish reading his copy, in spite of the smoke and fire:

Because being a professional is important above all other things.

Apparently, it is better to die than to look bad.

GE BT-25 Mystery transmitter site

Update: Thank you, Jim.  The mystery site is KFIG (formerly KFRE) in Fresno, CA.  This is what the transmitter building looks like from the outside today:

KFIG transmitter, circa 2011

KFIG transmitter, circa 2011

In the previously mentioned the rescued file cabinet and along with the WFLY transmitter site construction information, I also found these interesting photographs:

Mystery AM transmitter site

Mystery AM transmitter site, plate 9296

I do not know what transmitter site this is. From the photo, it has a two tower (guyed) directional antenna. It looks to me to be somewhere out west. The transmitter is a General Electric BTA-25 or BT-25, same as the former WPTR and WCKY transmitter. I know this back hallway well:

Mystery AM transmitter site, back hallway of GE BT-25.  Plate 9300

Mystery AM transmitter site, back hallway of GE BT-25. Plate 9300

This is the transformer vault:

Mystery AM transmitter site, transformer vault.  Plate 9297

Mystery AM transmitter site, transformer vault. Plate 9297

Modulation transformer and three pot plate transformer:

BT-25 modulation transformer.  Plate 9299

Mystery AM transmitter site, GE BT-25 modulation transformer. Plate 9299

I would say that these may be promotional photos, because of the spotlessly clean installation and the plate numbers on each print.  Unfortunately, there are no pictures of the front of the transmitter, including the operator console.

Does anybody know where this is?

Satellite Dish Maintenance

Periodic attention is required for most satellite receive only earth stations. This particular dish sticks up above the roof line of a two story building. It acts as a big sail and sometimes, after a particular wind event, it gets slight off of it’s intended satellite, AMC-8.

Comtech 3.7 meter dish

Comtech 3.7 meter dish

The real issue is doing anything with the feed horn assembly, as it hangs way up in the air right over the edge of the roof. An extension ladder does not work, nor does a step ladder on the roof. Thus, we had to call a bucket truck to come and replace the LNB.  Naturally, this work is being done on one of the coldest days of the year (so far).  Temperatures at the start were 4° F or -15° C, which made the hydraulics in the bucket truck a bit reluctant to work.

When the dish was installed in 2000 or so, I swung it so the feed horn assembly was over the roof to work on it. This did not allow me to effectively check the feed horn polarization. With the bucket truck and a good satellite aiming device, I was able to find the correct polarization for the transponders in use by this station.

Bucket truck satellite dish maintenance

Bucket truck satellite dish maintenance

The old LNB was an original California Amplifiers PLL LNB from the mid 1990’s. The temperature was 35° K, which is kind of high these days. It was replaced by a Norsat C band PLL LNB with a 20° K temperature.

The satellite aiming tool used is an AI Turbo S2 by Dawn Satellite.  This unit has software profiles for each satellite which can be updated over the internet.  The 139° W satellite neighborhood is pretty crowded and it is easy to find yourself looking at the wrong bird.  Using the aiming tool prevents that from happening, as it tells the user exactly which satellite it is receiving.

Satellite aiming tool

Satellite aiming tool

If this is a new installation, using Satellite Finder makes the rough aiming much easier.

Dish pointer, AMC-8 aiming information

Dish pointer, AMC-8 aiming information

Also, it one were interested in being very through, consulting the SES center of box page will give the best aiming window times.  To be honest, I have never found this to make much difference.

XDS Eb/No after re-aiming

XDS Eb/No after re-aiming

The end result, Eb/No is 17.5 with the AG of 54.  All in all, a happy satellite receiver.

The Kintronic Isocoupler

Had a problem with this Kintronic FMC-0.1 isocoupler the other morning.

Kintronic FMC-1.0 STL ioscoupler

Kintronic FMC-1.0 STL isocoupler

After an overnight drenching heavy rain and very high wind, the STL transmitter associated with this unit was having high VSWR faults.  This isocoupler crosses a base insulator of an AM 50 KW directional antenna.  This particular tower has negative impedance, which is to say, it sucks power out of the pattern and feeds it back to the phasor. An interesting discussion for another time, perhaps.

Using a dummy load, we isolated the problem to the isocoupler by first connecting the load to the output on top of the unit (problem still exists) then to the transmission line prior the unit (problem went away).  Of course, the AM station had to be taken off the air to do this work.

Once the issue was confirmed as the isocoupler, I opened the unit up and found that water had entered and pooled in the top of the bottom half of the isolation transformer.

Kintronic isocoupler transformer

Kintronic isocoupler transformer

The isolation transformer consists of two loops to ground capacitively coupled through air dielectric. The issue is with the opening around the top of the unit, under the lip of metal lid. Apparently, this allowed water in.

Kintronic isocoupler isolation transformer

Kintronic isocoupler isolation transformer

It is difficult to tell with the lighting in this photograph, however, the bottom part of this isolation transformer has water pooled around the center insulator.  Using a rag, I cleaned out the water and dirt from the center insulator.  After reconnecting the antenna and transmitter transmission line, a quick check revealed the problem was much better, but still not completely gone.  I suspect water seeped further down into the bottom half of this unit.  The repair work was good enough, however, to return both stations to the air.

Glad to get that bit of work done while it was still relatively warm out.

Cable Porn

On occasion, the company I currently work for does installation work. Thus, I am always keeping my eyes open for new equipment and tools to make that job easier. The cable comb seems like it is just such a thing:

ACOM tools cable comb

ACOM tools cable comb

Instructional video from youtube:

Then there is this:

Which is simply amazing. It is described as “1320 Category 6 cables, dressed and terminated.”

Incidentally, there is an entire sub-reddit: reddit.com/r/cableporn for all those cable geeks that like to look at neat cabling work.

AM stations being donated

WGHQ was donated by Pamal Broadcasting to Tri-State media over the New Years Holiday.  Originally signed on in 1955 as WSKN in Saugerties, NY, WGHQ had been struggling to hang on over the last few years.  The station had been on a syndicated satallator automation format with the only local show being Kingston Community Radio, airing weekday mornings from 6-9 am.  In the end, it was either go dark or donate the station.

Tri-State Media is the owner/operator of WHDD AM/FM and WLHV, which are NPR affiliates.  They also simulcast on WBSL-FM, owned by Berkshire High School, when the students and faculty are not on the air.  A look at the program schedule shows a variety of music, local and national news and talk.

Over the last five years or so, several AM stations have been donated to community oriented groups and organizations, most notably the MMTC.  Often, these stations are in rough to very rough technical condition and many are silent.  It is noted that WDTW no longer has a transmitter site and KWHN was suffered severe damage due to flooding.  Those stations donated to the MMTC often find themselves LMA’d to a local group to run for a while before ownership is transferred.

Call Letters City of License From To Frequency Power D/N
KWOD Salem, OR Entercom MMTC 1390 5,000/690
WGHQ Kingston, NY Pamal Tri-State 920 5,000/78
WSHU Westport, CT Graham Sacred Heart 1260 1,000/9
WKRT Cortland, NY Saga Bible Broadcasting 920 1,000/500
WDTW Dearborn, MI Clear Channel MMTC 1310 5,000/5,000
KFXN Minneapois, MN Clear Channel MMTC 690 500/4
WMNY McKeesport, PA Renda Pentecostal Temple dev 1360 5,000/1000
WGBN New Kensington, PA Salem Pentecostal Temple dev 1150 1,000/70
WNRR North Augustsa, GA Clear Channel MMTC 1380 4,000/70
WHJA Laural, MS Clear Channel MMTC 890 10,000/-
KWHN Ft. Smith, AR Clear Channel MMTC 1650 10,000/1,000
WTOC Newton, NJ Clear Channel MMTC 1360 2,000/320
WBHA Wabash, MN Clear Channel MMTC 1190 1,000/-

There may be other stations that were donated to various other groups, but this is all I could find using Google.  I notice several of them are on the current list of silent stations.  I wonder how many are currently on the air and successful.  Are they being locally programmed?  If so, how has the reception been in there respective communities?  What remediation was required for the technical facilities and how much did it cost?

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!