Studio Buildout, Part I

We are in the process of building a couple of new studios for one of our clients. This one involves a small market combo of one AM and four FM stations.  These stations were formerly located at one of the transmitter sites, two miles outside of town on top of a large hill.  That site could be difficult to get to during the winter and the building itself was not in the best of shape.  Thus, plans were made to move the studios to a better location.  Fortunately, we discovered that right in the village there are several suitable office buildings.

Any worthwhile project needs to be planned for.  The first consideration is the Studio to Transmitter Link (STL) paths.  Since this is a radio studio, it makes sense to located it where viable RF STL paths exist.  One might be surprised by the number times the issue of bad or non-existent RF STL paths has come up during these types of projects.

Studio to transmitter site LAN extension
Studio to transmitter site LAN extension

The next thing to check is the satellite path.  The plan right now is to keep the satellite dishes at the transmitter site, however, at some point in the future we can relocated the satellite dish to the roof of the studio building if desired.

AMC-8 satellite path
AMC-9 satellite path

The floor space was measured out and I drew out a floor plan:

Walton Studio floor plan
Walton Studio floor plan

Before we started work, all of the walls were painted and new carpeting installed.

Almost nothing at the old studio is worth keeping. Thus, all of the furniture, consoles, racks, STLs, and other equipment needed to be ordered.  A local kitchen company traded out the counter tops, which we picked up at their facility and delivered to the studio ourselves.

Studio counter top
Studio counter top

We will build risers for these on site then mount the consoles and such.

New Studio Equipment
New Studio Equipment

In the mean time, most of the new studio equipment has been ordered and delivered. There are still some outstanding items that have not arrived, but I am assured that those are in process and should be showing up shortly.

Used equipment racks
Used equipment racks

These equipment racks came from another market, but are in good shape.

I had a good meeting with the building owner regarding roof access, a sub panel for the racks and studios and other issues.

The Isolated Ground

We get requests to install Isolated Ground outlets from time to time, especially with sensitive equipment. The TELCO likes to have isolated grounds on their fiber MUX’s.  It can become an issue with branch circuits in split phase or three phase services that share the same ground and neutral conductor.  This can lead to a ground loop between neutral and ground, which will create all sorts of havoc in a broadcast facility.

20 amp, 120 volt Isolated Ground Outlet
20 amp, 120 volt, Isolated Ground Outlet

The National Electrical Code covers Isolated Grounds (IG) and sensitive equipment in several sections.  The first is section 250.146(D), which states that installation of isolated ground receptacles is permitted.   The grounding conductor connected to such receptacles is permitted to pass through one or more panel boards, boxes, conduit bodies, etc without being bonded to them.  However, said panel boards, metallic boxes, conduit bodies, raceway, etc must also be grounded separately.  That means running two ground conductors, usually the isolated ground conductor is green with a yellow stripe or spiral.

Studio electrical diagram isolated ground
Studio electrical diagram isolated ground

The second is section 640.9(A), which refers to separately derived power systems.  This section deals specifically with balanced power; 60 volts AC to ground.  In such cases, a separate ground conductor is allowed as outlined in section 250.146(D) and in 647.6(B), which states that the grounding buss should be connected to the grounded conductor on the line side of the separately derived systems disconnecting means.

Other sections of the NEC that may apply to broadcast radio and television facilities:

  • Article 455, Phase converters (rotary phase converters)
  • Article 480, Storage batteries (UPS)
  • Article 520, Theaters, Audience Areas of Motion picture and Television studios, Performance areas and similar locations
  • Article 640, Audio signal processing, Amplification and Reproduction Equipment (Audio wiring)
  • Article 645, Information Technology Equipment (computer equipment and network wiring)
  • Article 647, Sensitive Electronics Equipment (balanced power 60 volts to ground)
  • Article 702, Optional Standby systems (generators)
  • Article 770, Fiber optic cables
  • Article 810, Radio and Television Equipment (antennas, towers and grounding)
  • Article 820, Cable TV (CATV)
  • Article 830, Network-powered broadband communications systems (power over ethernet)

If interested, I can do articles on these sections as well.

New Studio Project, Part II

The finished product:

SAS Rubicon console, WAJZ Albany, NY
SAS Rubicon console, WAJZ Albany, NY

This is the finished product from an earlier post.  Currently, it it the studio for WAJZ in Albany, but that is not permanent.  The SAS studio goes together fairly quickly, as most of the trunking between the TOC and studio is done over the SAS data channel.

The studio monitors (Tanoy Reveal) are set on little posts under the computer screens. I like this set up as the DJ’s are less likely to rock the house if they decide to crank up the volume on their favorite tune.  I am also kind of digging the lack of a table top equipment pod.  That takes up a lot of counter top space and always seems to be in the way.  There are two CD players rack mounted below the counter (lower left), which are almost never used.

New Studio project

It is time, once again, to replace some very old Pacific Recorders BMXII consoles. The Pacific Recorders consoles were very expensive when new, but after 30 years of continuous use, have more than paid for themselves.  The replacement console of choice for this installation is a SAS Rubicon.  I have installed these units elsewhere and they are the modern equivalent of the PRE BMX.

The heart of the Rubicon system is the 32KD router.  Routed audio systems can save a lot of time and effort in a large studio facility installation.  Not having to run and terminate multiple analog and digital trunk cables between rack room and studio is a huge deal in a six or ten studio installation project.

The SAS 32KD router and Rubicon console system uses a serial TDM buss to communicate and transport audio around.  This is a simpler system than packet switched IP data.  Basically, the console surface is a very large, fancy computer control interface.  Here are some pictures of the start of the project:

New Studio room, furniture installed
New Studio room, furniture installed

This is the view from the entry door. The furniture was placed last week and the counter top cut in for the console. The furniture is made by Studio Technology.  The pile of yet to be installed equipment:

New studio equipment to be installed
New studio equipment to be installed

For monitors, we are using the Tanoy 602p near field monitor placed on the table top above the computer screens.  This studio will not have a turret.  Turrets used to be necessary to hold things like cart machines and CD players.  These days the CD players are used so infrequently that it was decided to put them in the side rack under the counter top.  Turrets also take up a lot of counter top space that can be put to better use.

New studio punch blocks
New studio punch blocks

Punch blocks and power connections.  The red outlets are isolated ground UPS type, the back outlets are feed by the emergency generator power panel.  All electric wiring is inside of metal conduit.  The punch blocks are the inputs to the SAS RIO link unit, one 16 pair analog audio cable and ten category 5e shielded cables.  The cat 5e is used for computer and TDM data buss to the router.

New Studio Rubicon console
New Studio Rubicon console

The SAS Rubicon console cut into the counter top and protected by plastic sheets.

Rack room
Rack room

Rack room with 32KD routers.  This facility has 9 studios total plus a news room with three work areas.

SAS 32KD router on line
SAS 32KD router on line

The SAS 32KD router.  All audio from the automation systems, satellite feeds and other sources is connected directly to these units.  This unit is on line for other studios that have already been converted to the SAS gear.