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Came as a stock item

So, I wore out another car and it was time to get a new one. Unexpectedly, the new car came with one of these fancy gizmos:

HD Radio as a stock item

HD Radio as a stock item

This is not the first HD radio I have owned, the Jeep Cherokee had one that I install myself. This is the first time it came with the car and I didn’t even mention it to the sales guy.

A few observations:

  • Many stations’ HD1 channels don’t sound very good, they are either shrill and tinny, or not synced with their analog counterpart.
  • There still aren’t very many station transmitting HD Radio; FM stations are either NPR affiliates or belong to a few larger corporate owners.  The AM stations are few and far between.
  • AM HD Radio still has numerous problems in the mobile listening environment.
  • Many of the HD 2/3 don’t sound very good; low audio levels, muffled modulation, low bit rate audio, etc.  The only exception that I have found so far is Vermont Public Radio’s classical format, transmitted on the HD2 of WVPS, Burlington.
  • HD2/3 channels mainly serve as “translator loophole” stations, AKA “Metro Stations”

As far as the new ownership by DTS goes; I will reserve judgement until they do something with it.

Common’ Baby

Who is that old guy standing next to Chubby Checker?

Chubby Checker and yours truly

Chubby Checker and yours truly

Hey, that’s me!

And never will you meet a nicer gentleman than Chubby Checker.

Comacho 2016

I know who I am voting for:

President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho

President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho

If you have not watched Idiocracy yet, Netflix it (or youtube it).

Seriously, I can’t see anyone worth voting for, I suppose I will have to Johnson it again.

The Gates Air Flexiva 1

We just finished installing one of these units for one of our clients. This is the third one that I have dealt with in the last two years. I have to say, these transmitters are pretty cool.

Gate Air, Flexiva 1 running at 990 watts

Gate Air, Flexiva 1 running at 990 watts

We also installed a 7/8 transfer switch and a 1.5 KW test load:

New installation of transmitter, transfer switch and test load

New installation of transmitter, transfer switch and test load

Another view:

Transmitter installation

Transmitter installation

New transmitter rack, processor and remote control:

New transmitter installation

New transmitter installation

The former main transmitter, the venerable BE FM1B:

Broadcast Electronics FM1B transmitter

Broadcast Electronics FM1B transmitter

View of the 7/8 inch coax going out of the transmitter room to the tower:

Coax out to tower

Coax out to tower

Rarely, if ever, have I worked with 7/8 rigid transmission line. Usually, it is 1 5/8 or 3 inch line, which require some amount of patience when installing.

Nice little transmitter site upgrade project.

Out storming castles and what not

Sorry for not posting more, it just seems that most of what I am doing these days has already been covered here before. I don’t like repeating myself.  I certainly have been busy with all things related to radio engineering, including a few cool project in the works.  More details on those as they come to fruition; a couple of more transmitter installations, a cool studio installation with AOIP hardware, etc.

Even though I have not mentioned it, certain things have not escaped my attention:

  • The on going financial problems/stock crash of Cumulus Broadcasting.  TL,DR; bad decisions made, lots of people left, content still matters.
  • AM revitalization:  Band aides (no pun intended) at best, far too late for band aides.
  • HD Radio: Crickets chirping…
  • Nielsen: PPM software upgrades have arrived and been installed.  Goodbye, Voltair?

When I have the chance, there is also a cool story about an LPFM going on the air in Rochester.  Stay tuned.

Microsoft: I am so done with you…

Except for the two applications that only run in Windows…

I lost use of my Windows 7 partition on my laptop last week after a Windows update.  They have been pushing Windows 10 for a while now, but I have ignored it because Windows 7 is just fine for me. I tried to ignore the latest nagging update and: Oh, joy! Computer stuck in an endless reboot loop. Fortunately, I had a dual boot system and the Linux OS booted right up. Go figure! I was able to mount the the Windows partition from Linux and recover all of my files.  This is a good reason to have a dual boot system, or keep a bootable thumb drive handy.  At first, I thought I might be loosing sectors on my hard drive, but no.  It turns out, one of the files changed during the update was corrupted.  No big deal, I can reload windows and be back in business.

It will only take an hour or so.  An hour that could be better used for something else, something akin to billable hours, which is how the mortgage gets paid. My computer is not a hobby, it is a tool. I don’t have time to play around with things for fun.

Then I thought, why bother?  I am using Linux with no serious disruptions.  In fact, it boots faster, runs faster, is more secure, and generally has fewer hangups. LibreOffice has all of the applications I need for general correspondence and business administration.  I can run Win 7 as a virtual machine in VirtualBox as long as I can get the USB device I need to be recognized by Linux then passed through to the virtual Win 7 OS.

So, to hell with Windows and all its nonsense. Goodbye you inferior, expensive and buggy piece of garbage. I will not miss you.

Radio is dead? Don’t tell these guys then…

WXHC in Homer, New York will never be listed on the NY Stock Exchange. Is that bad?

WXHC, Homer, New York

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

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

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

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.

Dun Dun DUN!

UPDATE:Turns out it was nothing…

Hurricane Joaquin, 1800 UTC, October 3, 2015

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

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.

Winter is coming…

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

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

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

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

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.

I accidentally the whole transmitter site

Oh jeez, make it stop:

Somebody got busy...

Somebody got busy…

Station has been “flickering on and off…” for the last three days…

Another mouse nest

Wonder why?

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?

Stuff

Great idea

No matter what you do, save everything. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever throw anything away ever.

You never know when you will need a leaking capacitor with a hole in the side of it...

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.

Indeed…

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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

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