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Posts Categorised: RF Engineering

It’s a translation of the fourth edition of the “NATE Tower Climber Fall Protection Training Standard”


WASHINGTON — The National Association of Tower Erectors is now offering one of its primary resources in a Spanish language edition.

“Norma de Capacitación de Protección contra Caidas para Trepadores de Torres de la NATE” is the translated version of the fourth edition of the “NATE Tower Climber Fall Protection Training Standard.” The standard establishes the minimum requirements to which all tower climbers should be trained, and the NATE CTS outlines the individual standards for varying levels of tower climber expertise, as well as contains a Course Training Plan to demonstrate how to implement and utilize the NATE CTS and a Definitions section.

The Spanish edition is available online as a free resource for member companies, and the print format is available for both members and non-members to purchase.

“A Spanish language edition of the NATE CTS is crucial for the industry’s growing multicultural workforce. Making it accessible to a larger audience will help ensure all employees are adequately trained and maintain the highest level of safety standards,” Sindy Benavides, chief operating officer and acting CEO of the League of United Latin American Citizens said in a press release.

The association also said it plans to translate other resources to Spanish in the future. 

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Educational Broadcast Service spectrum to be used for LTE and 5G

The FCC voted unanimously this month to adopt a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that contemplates ways to put mostly “fallow” 2.5 GHz spectrum to use.

The 2496–2690 MHz band constitutes “the single largest band of contiguous spectrum below 3 GHz and is prime for next-generation mobile operations,” according to fiercewireless.com .

Significant portions of the Educational Broadband Service spectrum in this band currently are unused across nearly half of the United States, mostly in rural areas. The commission has limited access to the spectrum since 1995, and current licensees are subject to outdated regulations, according to the FCC.

Efforts have been underway for more than a year to get the FCC to issue an NPRM so that the EBS portion of the 2.5 GHz spectrum could be put to better use, according to the article. In 2014, the Wireless Communications Association, the National EBS Association and the Catholic Television Network got together and submitted a proposal on how to license the spectrum.

Sprint holds licensed 2.5 GHz spectrum assets, and said that adoption of new licensing opportunities for EBS licensees will further strengthen its existing 4G LTE and future 5G deployments.

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This isn’t the first time South Dakota’s Results Radio has lost a tower to the elements

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A late spring blizzard created big headaches for commuters and bigger challenges for two Results Radio —Townsquare Media stations in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The storm knocked down part of the radio tower broadcasting the signals for “Hot 104.7” KKLS(FM) and “The Mix 97.3” KMXC(FM) on April 13, Jeremy J. Fugleberg reported for the Argus Leader . He described the tower as having been “decapitated” when “the top 275 feet of the tower” succumbed to the ice buildup and wind.

According to the article, two weeks later, KKLS is still off the air but is streaming online, but KMXC is again available at a low power. They have remounted antennas for both stations on the remaining 600 foot tower.

This isn’t the first time Results Radio has lost a tower to the elements. In 1996, an ice storm followed by uneven rapid melting felled the previous tower. As a result, the new tower was “built to extreme specs,” according to Results Radio Market Manager and Vice President, quoted in the article. But even those weren’t enough to keep it intact.

Results Radio Townsquare Media also owns KYBB(FM), KSOO(AM/FM), KIKN(FM) and KXRB(AM/FM).

Check out photos of the downed tower here.

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New training initiative intended to fill in gaps for younger engineers with IT backgrounds

QUINCY, Ill. — In May, GatesAir will launch a new training program intended to help “younger, IT-educated broadcast engineers” learn to operate and maintain “next-generation TV and radio transmission sites,” the company announced.

The new training program, launching with an “Introduction to Broadcast Transmitter Technology” course, is described by GatesAir as an adjunct to the its existing “RF:101” program, which was designed for trainees with a basic understanding of RF technology. Because “RF:101” participants increasingly lacked a solid foundation in RF, the company developed a “new entry-level RF training course designed to prepare IT professionals for an RF transmission-centered career.”

[Read about GatesAir’s decision to stop selling new AM transmitters.]

“Since many new professionals entering the field have IT backgrounds, this new introductory training program responds to our customers’ pressing needs to find qualified engineers that can operate and maintain their next-generation, over-the-air content delivery systems,” GatesAir Vice President of Operations Bryant Burke said in the announcement. “We’re addressing broadcasters’ concerns regarding the shortage of broadcast engineers, and leveraging the current crop of IT-savvy engineers for ATSC 3.0 and other next-generation DTV and digital radio networks.”

The course begins with three webinars and is followed by a four-day, hands-on training workshop at GatesAir’s Quincy, Ill., campus. The first session is scheduled for May 22–25.

The program limits the workshops to groups of 8-10 trainees. It covers fundamentals, including maintenance of liquid- and air-cooled solid-state transmitters, digital modulation schemes and troubleshooting/repair of modular transmission components. After these stages, participants receive a certificate of completion.

The program is open to everyone — including non-GatesAir customers — and costs $2,150, according to the training website , where registration is also available.

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“Joint Keynote Address” featured several past winners of the NAB Engineering Achievement Award

LAS VEGAS — New to NAB Show this year is what organizers called an “unconventional keynote session.”

Sunday morning, NAB convened several past recipients of the NAB Engineering Achievement Award to participate in a panel of mini-keynotes. NAB EVP and CTO Sam Matheny acted as moderator, and participants were asked to address “the single most important challenge for the future of broadcasting.”

The participants were: E. Glynn Walden, Entercom consultant; John Turner, principal engineer, Turner Engineering Inc.; Ben Dawson, president of Hatfield & Dawson Consulting Engineers, LLC; Laurence Thorpe of Canon U.S.A.; Ronald Rackley, VP of duTreil, Lundin & Rackley; Ira Goldstone, executive engineer at FOX Studios; Thomas Silliman, president of Electronic Research Inc.; S. Merrill Weiss, president of Merrill Weiss Group; Frank Foti, executive chairman of the board for The Telos Alliance; Mark Richer, president of ATSC; Tom King, president and CEO of Kintronic Labs Inc.; Robert Seidel, vice president of CBS Engineering and Advanced Technology for CBS Television Network; Andy Laird, retired VP of engineering/CTO emeritus for Journal Broadcast Group; Richard Friedel, EVP and GM of FOX Network Engineering and Operations; John Kean, consulting engineer for Cavell Mertz & Associates; and Rich Chernock, chief science officer for Triveni Digital.

As part of the session, Rackley used his time to promote the cause of updating interference standards to reflect modern challenges.For those who could not attend the “Joint Keynote Address: Previous Engineering Award Winners,”

the following is a transcript of remarks delivered by Rackley.

I am grateful for having been able to enjoy my work every day over the past 45 years that I have been a consulting radio engineer, but there is one area of unfinished business that I would like to see receive serious attention while I am still around — revising the requirements of the FCC rules to recognize that it is not the 1930s anymore when it comes to the environment of noise and interference in which AM stations broadcast.

Fortunately, we have the AM revitalization rulemaking that is being considered by the FCC for that, and an FCC chairman who would like to see it taken seriously.

The comments that have been filed with the FCC in the rulemaking contain a lot of well thought-out scientific analysis of both the limitations on AM station coverage due to noise and man-made interference today and how proper administration of revised station-to-station interference standards could help.

But, those comments sit there on the record unheeded — with the rulemaking process at a stalemate — because of pushback from broadcasters that was inspired by the severity of some of the rule changes that were initially proposed by the FCC. Many comments prepared by expert consulting engineers support compromise standards that I think address the controversies well.

I believe the time has come for those with differing perspectives on questions having to do with how AM stations should protect each other from interference to meet together and iron out good solutions, aimed at optimizing AM radio service to the public day and night, that are acceptable to all.

I am going to be so bold as to suggest that the NAB might be able to play a pivotal role in pulling such an effort together. Thank you.

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The auction will begin May 15

WASHINGTON — On March 23, the FCC released a Public Notice announcing a new auction for the small group of mutually exclusive applications left from last year’s window for the filing of FM translator applications by Class C and D AM stations and setting the rules and procedures for that auction. The auction begins on May 15.

While only 26 applications are involved in the auction “it shows that the FCC is trying to rapidly clear its decks of all remaining translator applications,” writes David Oxenford, in broadcastlawblog.com . Also on the FCC’s schedule is an auction of mutually exclusive translators left over from its 2003 FM translator window.

“Singleton” applications (translators that are predicted to not cause interference to any other translator application or any existing station) from the window opened late last year for Class A and B AM stations are now scheduled for filing, along with long-form applications for applicants who were able to work out mutually exclusive situations in the first window so that they did not need to go to auction, according to the same post.

Still to be announced for applicants in that Class A and B window is the settlement period for applications that are mutually with other applications. “Expect that announcement soon,” Oxenford writes. 

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Pre-NAB Show PREC18 event planned for April 5–6

CHARLOTTE — Not to be lost in the maelstrom that leads up to the NAB Show, the Association of Public Radio Engineers will convene their annual get-together, April 5–6, at their new traditional haunt, the Tuscany Suites.

PREC18 , as it’s called, will feature speakers on topics ranging from hurricane recovery to program production and distribution to legal issues to broadcast IT security.

Some familiar names on hand presenting: David Layer, NAB; Keyur Parikh, GatesAir; Michael LeCalir, WBUR(FM); Jeff Holdenrid, DoubleRadius; Stu Buck, Arctic Palm; Tom Silliman, ERI; Steve Dove, Wheatstone; Rob Byers, NPR; and Wayne Pecena, Texas A&M.

[Read: APRE Hands Out Four Scholarships to Attend 2018 PREC]

APRE President Steve Johnston will address attendees and there’ll be an awards session concluding the convention.

Register here .

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The Golden State joins 17 other states with similar legislation in the works

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — New legislation supporting the “right to repair” has been introduced in the California State Assembly this week by Assemblymember Dr. Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), according to her website .

The California Right to Repair Act “would require manufacturers of electronics to make diagnostic and repair information, as well as equipment or service parts, available to product owners and to independent repair shops,” according to the press release.

California joins Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia, which have already introduced similar legislation.

“The bill is critical to protect independent repair shops and a competitive market for repair, which means better service and lower prices. It also helps preserve the right of individual device owners to understand and fix their own property. We should encourage people to take things apart and learn from them. After all, that’s how many of today’s most successful innovators got started,” Electronic Frontier Foundation Senior Staff Attorney Kit Walsh said in the announcement.

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WATCH: Engineers in Action

Broadcast engineers don’t have it easy, but the work is critical to keep listeners in the loop

PORTLAND, Ore. — Have you ever had someone ask you what you do for a living, and been at kind of at a loss for words to describe the work?

Well, with the ubiquity of smartphones, you can always play this video, produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting , about the work their transmitter engineers do. And, as a benefit, enjoy some great scenery! 

View the original article to see embedded media.

OPB broadcast engineers maintain 84 towers, translators and transmitters, which service the nearly 100,000 square miles of Oregon and parts of southwest Washington, according to the pubcaster. 

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Every radio station should have, at minimum, two ways to get program audio to the transmitter site

LOS ANGELES — An STL system is just as crucial in a radio station’s air-chain as the transmitter or antenna. After all, if there’s no audio to transmit, then even the best transmitters and antennas are of little use. No one tunes in to hear dead air.

Every radio station should have, at minimum, two ways to get program audio to the transmitter site. A radio STL at 950 MHz is a good option for one of the two means. “Wireline” of some sort is a good choice as well. (By wireline, I mean any type of connectivity provided by the local exchange carrier—whether audio circuits, T1s, or metro Ethernet.) Technology diversity is the best way build redundancy in to your STL system. Your primary and auxiliary STLs should not both be of the same type; if you use “wireline” for the main, use radio for the aux, and vice-versa.

Let’s take a look at the reasons for this assertion of mine.

PROBLEMS WITH RADIO LINKS

While private radio links make great STLs they are subject to problems, including these:

  • Outright equipment failure
  • Antenna/transmission line failure
  • Interference that just shows up one day
  • Deep fades

Let’s talk about the mitigation of these issues one at a time.

Equipment failure. This is the most likely means by which you will “lose” your STL. Clearly the best way to get around this is to have a standby transmitter, and a standby receiver, both of which can be switched ON using remote access. The receiver part is easy—derive two separate antenna feeds, drive the input of both receivers, and then put a switch on the outputs so that either can feed your air-chain. The transmit side is a bit more difficult—since they both can’t be radiating at the same time. The most practical approach is to use an RF switch to select the output of one of the two transmitters to drive the transmit antenna. Another (better) approach is to have separate transmit antennas. No RF switch is necessary then, but you’ll still need a way to turn one transmitter ON and have the other OFF, and the ability to reverse their roles.

[Related — “Best Practices: Value Engineering “]

Antenna and/or transmission line failures. Another way radio STLs fail is by way of bad connections on transmission lines and antennas. Often they sit out in the weather for years, and if they were not installed correctly to begin with, problems can show up several years down the road.

If you have two receivers, ideally they can be fed by separate antennas; that way, a failure in the receive antenna system won’t leave you with two non-working receivers. Separate feeds are best, even if one is from an inferior antenna.

Likewise, on the transmit side, having a choice of antennas provides an advantage. Even if you have two transmitters, having a bad transmit antenna will leave you with little prospects. This type of problem often shows up at the worst time as well—say for example in the winter—so getting someone out to fix it might not be as easy.

New interference. 950 MHz-band resources are typically shared amongst multiple users in a market. The unfortunate reality is that a radio system that is working fine one day can sometimes be interfered with the next, leaving you scratching your head. New systems come up (though you should know about any of them through the Prior Coordination Notification protocols) and create problems unexpectedly; a random transmitter in the field might develop spurious emissions that accidentally show up on your channel; and there’s always the possibility of newly developed intermodulation products at the receive site. If you are using a digital system, there’s also the possibility of desensitization of your receiver, because of strong, local carriers that are nowhere near your own frequency.

These types of problems are rarely solved in a day and the best way to be prepared is by having one or two other means by which program gets to the transmitter site.

[Related — “Best Practices: Krone Blocks “]

Deep fades. If a path is poorly designed, or if it has other problems, none of which had come to your attention previously, you might experience signal fades on the path that are deep enough to make your receiver “mute” causing dead air. When you first start at a station you should take note of RSSI levels on the receiver(s) and also forward and reflected power readings on the transmitter(s). Sometimes transmission line problems can make the signal weak at the far end (though still receivable) while not knocking it all the way out (i.e., fade margin is unexpectedly used up). Antennas that are not aligned properly can cause similar problems.

Radio plus wireline strategy. So, to reiterate my earlier assertion, technology diversity is the best way build redundancy in to your STL system. There’s simple logic behind this idea.

While there are four primary ways to have a radio system knocked out (see above) none of them is related to the performance of “wireline.” If you experience any of the four you can switch over the wireline and keep going while you figure out your radio problems.

Conversely, wireline problems, when they happen, will be totally unrelated to any 950 MHz system performance. Wireline issues would include fiber cuts, power outages, and other miscellaneous central office equipment failures.

One exception I will point out is the use of part 101 radio systems. It would be acceptable to use 950 MHz and 11 GHz radio systems as main and auxiliaries. 

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