Accidents, mistakes, mishaps and other tales

Let’s get started:

Results of a deer vs automobile accident
Results of a deer vs automobile accident

It does not look like much, however, that is about $5,500.00 worth of damage. What you don’t see is the mashed oil cooler and radiator. This happened on my way from one place to another during the early morning hours. I was traveling at about 55 MPH when a deer bolted from the woods and entered the roadway from the right. I did not have time to a break.

In a ditch
In a ditch

A momentary lapse of attention causes a loss of $80.00. I think I was adjusting the defroster as I was driving down the road when suddenly, I felt the car tilt over to an alarming degree. You can see the tow truck getting ready to pull it out. Fortunately, there was no damage to the vehicle.

Troubles with the neighbor
Troubles with the neighbor

This is on the access road to one of our transmitter sites. The station has a legal right of way through this property, however, the neighbor seems to object. I spoke with him and showed him a copy of our deed, he has since changed plans.

One side of a balanced audio connection disconnected
One side of a balanced audio connection disconnected

This is the downside of using category cable to make audio connections. The wires are not as rugged as say Belden 8451. This was causing problems because it is at an AM studio/transmitter site.

Burned 30 amp three phase contactor
Burned 30 amp three-phase contactor

Three-phase, 30 amp, 240-volt contactor installed in a 480-volt system. Lasted a few years, anyway.

White face hornets nest
White face hornet’s nest

New tenants on one of our towers. This is a white-faced (or bald-faced) hornet’s nest. They are really paper wasps, but that difference aside, these beasts are nasty, aggressive, and have a painful sting. Normally, I am a live-and-let-live kind of person, but in this case, they gotta go.

Dummy load attached to plywood
Dummy load attached to plywood

This is at one of our AM client’s site. Somebody, quite some time ago it seems, made this test load for a 1 KW AM transmitter. It is very nice, with carbon ceramic resistors, 50 ohms, and surprisingly little reactance. Then they attached it to this piece of plywood. As one can surmise, the load gets quite hot under full power and full modulation conditions. We remounted this in a cage-type enclosure and bolted it to the cinder block wall.

Scala PR-950U cross polarized
Scala PR-950U cross-polarized

The client at this station is complaining of intermittent STL dropouts and low signal strength at the receiving end. Found this Scala PR-950U antenna mounted for vertical polarization, but the antenna element is horizontally mounted. We’ll call it “vorizontal.”

Ribbon cable from a Cummins 135 KW generator
Ribbon cable from a Cummins 135 KW generator

This was discovered during routine maintenance and thankfully not during a power outage. Mice got into the control box of a newish Cummins 135 KW generator and chewed through what looked like a data buss cable. The generator would not run and the cable and control board needed to be replaced.

Bulging capacitors
Bulging capacitors

There are more bulging capacitors removed from flat panel monitors.

And so on…

MPX over IP

In the progression from Circuit Switched Data to Packet Switched Data, I can think of many different applications for something like this:


The FMC01 MPX to IP encoder can be used for multi-point distribution (multi-frequency or same-frequency network) of FM Composite audio, or as a backup solution over a LAN bridge, LAN extension, or public network.  I can think of several advantages of using this for a backup when composite analog STLs are in use.  There are many compelling reasons to extend the LAN to the transmitter site these days; Transmitter control and monitoring, security cameras, office phone system extensions, internet access, backup audio, etc.  I would think, any type of critical infrastructure (e.g. STL) over a wireless IP LAN extension should be over a licensed system.  In the United States, the 3.6 GHz WLAN (802.11y) requires coordination and licensing, however, the way the rules are set up, the licensing process is greatly simplified over FCC Part 74 or 101 applications.

Another similar CODEC is the Sigmacom Broadcast EtherMPX.

Sigmacom Broadcast EtherMPX CODEC
Sigmacom Broadcast EtherMPX CODEC

Features include:
• Transparent Analog or Digital MPX (MPX over AES), or two discrete L/R channels (analog or AES).
• Built-in MPX SFN support with PTP sync (up to 6.000km in the basic version). No GPS receivers!
• Unicast or Multicast operation to feed an unlimited number of FM transmitters with MPX from one encoder.
• Linear uncompressed PCM 24-bit audio.
• Very low audio latency: 2,5mS in MPX mode.
• Perfect match with Sigmacom DDS-30 Exciter with Digital MPX input.
• Can be used with high-quality 802.11a/n Ethernet links.
• DC coupled, balanced Analog inputs & outputs with -130dBc noise floor.
• No modulation overshoots due to compression or AC capacitor coupling.
• Decoder provides simultaneous Analog & Digital output for transmitter redundancy.
• Aux RS232 serial transparent link, Studio to Transmitter.
• Auto switchover to Analog input when Digital signal is lost.
• Centralized remote control & management software

One last thought; separating the CODEC from the radio seems to be a good idea. It allows for greater flexibility and redundancy. Using an MPX-type STL allows sensitive air chain processing equipment to be installed at the studio instead of the transmitter site.

What bitrate is needed to sound like analog FM?

As it turns out, 300 kbp/s or greater.  At least in critical listening environments according to the paper titled Perceived Audio Quality of Realistic FM and DAB+ Radio Broadcasting Systems (.pdf) published by the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society. This work was done by a group in Sweden that made various observations with different program material and listening subjects. Each person was given a sample of analog FM audio to listen to, then they listened to various audio selections which were using bit reduction algorithms (AKA CODEC or Compression) and graded each one.  The methodology is very thorough and there is little left for subjective interpretation.

In less critical listening environments, bit rates of 160-192 kbp/s will work.

I made a chart and added HD Radio’s proprietary CODEC HDC, which is similar to, but not compatible with AAC:

SystemCodecBit Rate (kbp/s)
HD Radio FM; HD1 channel*HDC (similar to AAC)96 – 144
HD Radio FM; HD2 channel*HDC24-48
HD Radio FM; HD3 channel*HDC24-48
HD Radio AM*HDC20-60
DAB+AAC/HE-AAC32 – 128
DABMPEG II, Dolby Digital192 – 256
Blu-rayPCM**≥6 Mbp/s
DVDPCM, DTS, Dolby Digital>800
Web StreamingMPEG I,II,III, WMA, AAC, etc32-320, 128 typical
iTunesAAC128 – 256
SpotifyOgg Vorbis96 – 320
WimpAAC/HE-AAC64 – 256

*Hybrid mode
**PCM: uncompressed data

This is the composite Mean Basic Audio Quality and 95% confidence intervals for the system across all excerpts:


Over the years, we have simply become accustomed to and now accept low-quality audio from mp3 files being played over cheap computer speakers or through cheap ear buds.  Does this make it right?  In our drive to take something good and make it better, perhaps it should be, you know: Better.

Special thanks to Trevor from Surrey Electronics Limited.

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 is 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 setup as the DJs 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 tabletop equipment pod.  That takes up a lot of countertop space and always seems to be in the way.  There are two CD players racks mounted below the counter (lower left), which are almost never used.