SBE Chapter 36

Society of Broadcast Engineers, San Diego

SBE Chapter 36 - Society of Broadcast Engineers, San Diego

Making Waves Commentary: One Engineer’s Return from the Edge of Insanity

This week I’m starting a new job, serving as Assistant Chief Engineer at KGTV, with Bob Vaillancourt at the helm.

When systems integrator TV Magic started winding down in 2012, leaving me at the curb, I knew getting a good-fitting job wasn’t going to be easy if my family was going to stay in San Diego. Jobs in broadcast management here don’t open up every day, and I probably wasn’t going to go back to staff engineer. “He’ll just leave when a management job opens up.” “He’ll want too much money.” Without a EE or CS degree from a renowned university, high tech companies like Qualcomm and ViaSat would not even acknowledge my submissions.

So I dug right in to start my own consulting business, taking Small Business Administration classes, creating a website, and following up on referrals. (By the way, a big thank you to friends who sent potential customers my way. I believe we held up our part of the deal by treating these new clients well.)

What a great ride it’s been. I started helping Bext on their repair bench, taking small A/V jobs and then helping LPTV station KSDY-LD at their new studios in Chula Vista. I picked up an assistant with a bright young college student, Julio Ramirez, who helped with makeovers at KSDY-LD and KPRI (FM). At KPRI, we’ve done everything from fine tuning the IT systems, replacing the automation with Wide Orbit for Radio, completely rewiring the air chain for AES/EBU, retiring the old San Marcos aux site, and bringing in some redundancies that were never put in place. There were fun little projects like a weekend carrier-grade microwave STL/TSL sales and installation in Tijuana with Jeff Latimer.

A couple of days ago I looked at the huge list of equipment manual PDFs on my laptop hard drive. Holy cow, did Julio and I learn a lot in the last three years!

A truly successful business must scale itself properly, big enough that you can comfortably delegate much of your daily labor, take vacations, and afford a draw for yourself that is at least comparable to a staff engineering position, and that’s where I fell short. We’ve enjoyed the challenges and certainly the appreciation expressed, but you realize from time to time that you are to at least some extent servicing your own obsession with perfection, and that can seem a little…eerie at times. My wife Cheryl at one point after a number of overnight visits to the transmitter site seriously questioned my sanity, and if you look objectively at costs and risks vs. benefits, she was making a reasonable, if painful, point.

I don’t even want to get into the whole insurance and taxes thing about running your own business, except to say that there are very few days that go by without one or the other coming back with its beak open to feed.

The folly of any technical services business is that it’s one person producing work for one customer at a time, unlike software or sales of popular devices, where your business to serve multiple clients simultaneously, greatly increasing your income potential. Broadcasters are simply never going to pay you rates that a physician can demand, especially not the smaller broadcasters who can’t even afford their own full-time staff.

So I’m closing the business. Julio will carry on at KPRI.

Bob V. is a talented teacher and an experienced technical manager, so it’s back to being part of a corporate team. There’s much to be done, and with realistic budgets, daytime hours, and benefits like vacation, I’m looking forward to a new period of sanity.

Don’t laugh, Bob.

August Chapter Meeting: Al Salci’s Straight Talk About AVB

It’s a AVB and AES-67 Technology Update. With a focus on the Transport mechanism of various AoIP layer 3 and AoE layer 2 technologies, a basic overview of each topology will be described. We will highlight the architecture of IEEE 802.1 AVB (Audio Video Bridging) as well as AES-67 (Audio only over IP, AoIP) and the key differences between them. IEEE 802.1 is a layer 2 transport designed to replace HDMI point to point connections, and AES-67 is a layer 3 transport most commonly seen in radio broadcast facilities. We will outline important features, architecture and key differences for each followed by a summary of applications and application notes along with available products for each topology.

Join us Wednesday, August 19th at 12pm noon at KFMB Stations, 7677 Engineer Road in Kearny Mesa, San Diego. SAS will provide a lunch. Open to all.

About Al Salci

Al Salci is a veteran analog and digital designer, and software engineer with over 30 years experience in broadcast communications. Originally from Toronto Ontario, Canada, Al holds a Bachelor of Science from Mohawk College of Electrical Engineering & Technology.  Al started his career in Television broadcast designing vertical interval time code (VITC) editing systems for the then new helical scan VTR machines. Al moved into radio in 1983 as Director of Engineering for McCurdy Radio Industries where he developed a wide range of products ranging from Audio Consoles, Large Scale Switchers, Intercoms, DAs and the original ATS-100 Audio Test Set. Originally designed for ABC Networks, Al worked on the very first system utilizing large scaled switchers and RTOS automation for National programming syndication via Satellite to different time zones by sending control closures to trigger national or local breaks, ID’s liners, etc, many of which are still in use today known as NETCUE control.

Later, Al joined RTS systems in Burbank California as Senior Digital Design Engineer and developed Digital Intercom systems and 2-wire TV camera communications networks. Al Salci joined up with Ed Fritz, another veteran design engineer in Burbank California and started Sierra Automated Systems & Eng. Corp. that specializes in high-density distribution, Radio Intercom systems, and Digital Audio Control console surfaces. SAS is celebrating over 29 years of supplying high end, large scaled integrated digital audio distribution and console-networked systems.

San Diego FCC Field Office to Close in Compromise Plan

The FCC Enforcement Bureau July 16th adopted a plan to keep more field offices open than originally proposed, but San Diego still did not make the cut, instead relying on services from the Los Angeles office. The FCC came under fire for its planned reduction in force from Greg Walden of the House of Representatives and from the SBE and broadcast industry lobbyists concerned about piracy and RF noise sources. The FCC responded to Congressional inquiries with a letter and Q & A document outlining their reasoning for the cutbacks.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler responded to concerns about staffing in May, defending their plans to close offices, citing analysis that showed poor efficiency of services. SBE President Joe Snelson, in a Radio World interview, said their own input regarding field services indicated critically overworked staff, though he said they could not analyze the input  from consultants regarding their recommendations because they were not made public.

Precise closure dates have not been announced.

 

Importance of Proper Grounding Webinar

The “Importance of Proper Grounding” SBE webinar will be presented on Thursday, July 23 at 2 p.m. ET. The one-hour program will review the elements of a building’s wiring and grounding systems (including lightning protection) that pertain to power quality at communications facilities and improve up-time. Proper wiring and grounding, beyond those minimal requirements of the NEC, can greatly alleviate power quality problems in broadcast and public service communications facilities. These improvements can be very cost-effective, usually simple in description, and help prevent costly downtime and equipment damage. The presentation concentrates on actual experiences at broadcast facilities where grounding and lightning protection were of paramount importance in maintaining system availability.

Continue reading

SBE 36 Welcomes “Blue”

Chapter 36 welcomes new member LaDarien LaBlue. He’s a broadcast engineer at KGTV 10 and word has it he’s fast learner and a strong contributor to the team.

“I come from a pure HR and IT background working at illumina for past seven years as Senior Executive IT Technician. I played baseball at LSU and Northwestern State University. I’m from Louisiana and have 4 older brothers and a beautiful daughter named Jordyn. I love what I do here at KGTV.

“It’s really no different, other than things move very fast in broadcast. What I’m learning is that most broadcast equipment is going IP-based and I’m really excited about that.”

Transfer of San Diego’s Lincoln Financial Stations to Entercom Complete

The FCC today announced the approval of transferring ownership of Lincoln Financial radio stations to Entercom. In San Diego, this includes rocker KBZT 94.9 MHz, country KSON 97.3 MHz, and soft rock KIFM 98.1 MHz, In Escondido, this includes the KSON repeater Class A KSOQ 92.1 MHz.The Department of Justice still has to approve the buy-out from an antitrust perspective.If approved, Entercom will own over 110 stations in 26 markets. Entercom took over management of Lincoln Financial stations early this year with a limited marketing agreement (LMA).

Bill Eisenhamer continues to lead the local engineering effort and reports no major changes yet.

July Meeting: What’s New at Nautel

For several decades, the technological, bandwidth, and cost differences between television and radio made them two different electronic media. Information technology erases many of those differences. For example, IBOC has provisions for video while ATSC has provisions for radio, and IP has provisions for both. If broadcast engineering was separated into TV and radio in the past, this generation of engineers is divided between the over-the-air and content technologists. Broadcasting’s future is always bright and the nature of its creators, transmission, content and business plans constantly changing. There are practical things broadcast engineers can do for their stations and themselves, and some things broadcast engineers at some level already mostly know we can expect of the future.

Nautel has been working on both TV and radio transmitters of late, and are especially known for their products’ condition reporting that leads to predictive servicing and a tight design loop.

Join us Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at 12 noon at KFMB, 7677 Engineer Road in Kearny Mesa, San Diego. Nautel buys lunch.

About Our Guest Speaker

Fred Baumgartner, CPBE, is a fellow in the Society of Broadcast Engineers, a trustee of the Ennes Foundation, Fellow of the Radio Club of America and Nautel’s TV product manager. Fred was Director of Broadcast Engineering for Qualcomm’s MediaFLO project. Previously, he directed Leitch/Harris’ Systems Engineering group. Up to that time, he served as Director of Engineering for the Comcast Media Center in Denver. Before joining the satellite and cable origination world, he held the positions of Chief Engineer in Denver, Indianapolis, and Madison. Fred was also heavily involved with the development of EAS, and has authored several hundred articles on radio and TV engineering.

Matthew Anderson Gets CBRE Certification

Matthew Anderson, the latest addition to iHeartMedia’s engineering crew, passed his SBE Certified Broadcast Radio Engineering exam earlier in June.

Congratulations Matt!

If you would like to get an SBE certification, they’re easier than ever to study for with the study guide CD. Tests are given periodically in San Diego. For more information check out our information page.

KHHS to Stay Silent

After years of non-operation, Horizon Christian Fellowship’s low power station, KHHS-LP at 107.5 in La Jolla (near the intersection of Genesee and La Jolla Village Dr.), finally met its end. The FCC announced this week that it was pulling its license and deleting the callsign. An attorney for Horizon wrote the FCC stating that the station could not return to the air by the June 25, 2015, the date of an the expiration of their last Special Temporary Authority to remain silent.

The station has filed since 2007 for STAs to allow it to remain off-the-air, complaining in FCC STA filings about nagging co-channel interference from KLVE 107.5 MHz in Los Angeles.

The station had filed for a move to 103.3 MHz, but that application became moot when they chose not to return to the air by the June deadline.

June 10 Meeting: Dialight for Your Tower

What do you know about current practices in tower lighting? Are the latest LED arrays always legal? Can you just have tower crews unscrew your old incandescent bulbs and replace them with LEDs? If so, what about your flasher? Are there better ways to power your lamps on an AM tower? What do you know about the trend to lamp fewer towers? Will LEDs really save money?

Whether or not you know all of the answers to these questions, why not join us at the June 10, 2015 SBE Chapter 36 meeting at 12 noon? It’s at KFMB, 7677 Engineer Road, in Kearny Mesa. Parking on the street. Dialight buys lunch.

About Presenter Craig Franck

Craig lives in Littleton, Colorado and manages sales in 19 western states. He worked in the telecom field for 25 years in the area of analog and digital voice and data, microwave radios, and power systems with companies such as Tellabs, Motorola, Eltec/Valere. He has electronics and business degrees.

Check Out This Component Tester

Sometimes it seems like we broadcast engineers now live in a black box era, when we tend to just retire and recycle a failed piece of equipment instead of repairing it. This can be due to the faster obsolescence cycle as devices are marketed with vast improvements in performance and storage. Besides, what devices now come with schematics? And even if they did, you would have to contend with multilayer boards and tiny surface-mount components. Continue reading

UT-TV Lays Off Remaining Employees

After its sale to Tribune Corporation, publishers of the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union Tribune management immediately laid off 178 employees, including all printing press and UT-TV staff. Manny Cervantes, SBE Chapter 36 Vice Chairman and the last engineer at UT-TV. He had been the facility’s Chief Engineer during its three-year attempt to bring live and recorded news video to the utsandiego.com website and cable TV. Manny said yesterday that the UT-TV staff recently numbered only 12 until the May final layoff. Manny had been a systems engineer for TV Magic until the company failed in 2012.