All posts by Gary Stigall

March Meeting: Jampro Antennas and Design Considerations of TV Spectrum Repacking

Broadcast TV antenna manufacturers should make some good sales numbers in the next couple of years as the FCC forces broadcasters to shuffle channels again. This time around, the emphasis will be on broadband designs. Jampro has been working to make their antennas work on multiple channels with minimal wind loading. Many broadcasters will be looking at designs that make the best use of ATSC 3.0 as well. There are things to keep in mind you as broadcast engineers may not have considered, like OFDM Crest Factor and circular polarization for mobile coverage. Jampro logo

As a bonus, they plan to talk about their experience in Singapore with DVB-T2 and Single Frequency Networks.

Join us March 15 at 12 noon at KGTV, 4600 Air Way near I-805 and CA-94 in San Diego for the Chapter 36 regular monthly meeting. Jampro is buying lunch in the cafeteria.

Come on by, and bring a friend.

 

FCC Proposes Permissive Use of ATSC 3.0

The FCC last week issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would give TV stations the right to use ATSC 3.0. This was made in response to a petition made in April 2016 by a consortium of Public Television, NAB, the Consumer Technology Association, and the AWARN Alliance.FCC Logo

There are several catches, however. One would require stations to continue broadcasting in ATSC 1.0 as they do now. The other is that manufacturers would not be required to produce equipment that could be used to decode the signals. The likelihood that broadcasters would use the technology is near zero, especially due to upcoming TV spectrum repacking that will use all available bandwidth in just about every market. A third hurdle is that consumers would have to bear the cost of converting the ATSC 3.0 signals to something usable with present TV sets.

Broadcasters and manufacturers will have an opportunity in the coming months to comment on the NPRM.

What Bob Gonsett Says About Loss of Bay City Television

Bob Gonsett, a well-known broadcast engineering consultant who counted among his clients XETV Tijuana, said this about the announced closure of their San Diego office:

Early XETV screen logo

XETV not only had the best channel to cover San Diego from a propagation standpoint, it also had a rich history of being technologically first in a number of important areas including the use of circular polarization which significantly improved indoor “rabbit ear” reception.  Station management in the U.S. was constantly striving to make XETV Number One and they made the funds available to do so. The Tijuana transmitter plant, run by Felipe Fernandez, was a meticulous operation in full compliance with SCT/FCC mandates and from a labor perspective,

Phil always advocated the very best for his engineers. He was a true father to many. It was an honor and privilege for me to work with XETV for decades as their FCC engineering consultant.

January 18 Meeting: LTE for Broadcast by Moseley

Sumit Singh of Moseley discusses LTE technology for broadcast microwave news at KFMB-TV.
Sumit Singh of Moseley discusses LTE technology for broadcast microwave news at KFMB-TV.

An attentive crowd at the KFMB studios heard Sumnit Singh make a case for using the technology developed for consumer mobile devices to relay news audio and video to broadcast outlets over private networks. It should be interesting to see if stations step up to the plate to capitalize this evolution, or if an organization will step up to finance the movement and then resell to broadcasters, or if the technology will die on the vine before being rolled out.

Many thanks to Sumit Singh for traveling to San Diego and for buying our lunch. Continue reading January 18 Meeting: LTE for Broadcast by Moseley

New Engineers Join KFMB

KFMB hired two Broadcast Maintenance Engineers in November.

Julio Ramirez, KFMB Staff Engineer
Julio Ramirez, KFMB Broadcast Engineer

The AM/FM/TV combo hired Julio Ramirez, previously with the Signal Wiz contract engineering company assisting with maintenance at KPRI (FM), KSDY-LD, and other clients. More recently, he had done IT work at XETV for Paul Redfield’s Orbdot contracting services company, and tech support for ESET security software. Julio enjoys music and photography after hours.

Joseph Pandolfo, KFMB Broadcast Engineer
Joseph Pandolfo, KFMB Broadcast Engineer

KFMB also hired Joseph Pandolfo, past Chief Engineer at each KMIR Palm Springs, WTXL Tallahassee and WDBD Jackson. He had also served with Harris Broadcast as server product field support engineer. He’s been a member of SBE since 1984 and has a CBNT certification.

FCC Catches Up to LA Area Radio Pirates

In early December, 2016, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability, proposing a $25,000 fine for Iglesia el Remanente Fraternidad Elim in Panorama City in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. That church has operated a radio station on 93.7 MHz while repeatedly ignoring FCC requests to shut down since 2013. In fact, the website continues to publicize the FM pirate station.

In a second Panorama City church pirate radio case, field agents traced a signal at 95.1 FM back to an antenna atop the Ministerio Internacional Luz A Las Naciones church after they received complaints about the station in March 2015. They warned the property tenant, Nelson Quintanilla, that his continued unlicensed operations could lead to more than a warning. But the station remained on the air despite repeated warnings to Quintanilla—who at one point admitted to agents he was responsible for the station. The Enforcement Bureau says when agents returned to the church in October 2016, the station was broadcasting again. They are also proposing a $25,000 fine for this case.

SBE 36 Holiday Luncheon a Roaring Good Time

SBE 36 Holiday Luncheon at Mimi's Cafe in Mission Valley, December 2016.
SBE 36 Holiday Luncheon at Mimi’s Cafe in Mission Valley, December 2016.

The SBE gang held its annual holiday luncheon this year at Mimi’s Cafe in Mission Valley and had a great time of it. Congratulations to those who walked out with prizes. Nigel Worrall received a ham radio handi-talkie from RF Specialties. Bob Gonsett, Steve Frick, and Barbara Lange walked off with chocolates or wine from Piper Digital and Utah Scientific. Everyone got great food and conversation.

KURS Sold to El Sembrador Ministries

KURS 1040 kHz AM San Diego
KURS 1040 kHz AM San Diego

RadioInsight.com reported last week: “El Sembrador Ministries is exercising its option to purchase silent 1040 KURS San Diego CA from Quetzal Bilingual Communications for $900,000. El Sembrador is being credited half of its time brokerage fees paid since July 2014 subtracting $310,000 from the money owed. KURS went silent in early October after failing to pay tower owner Multicultural Broadcasting due rent. $10,816 from the deposit paid to Quetzal will go to Multicultural to restore the station’s use of the tower.”

In June this year, the FCC issued a $12,000 monetary forfeiture and short-term renewal for KURS(AM) for failure to prepare issues and program’s lists in the Station’s public file and to file biennial ownership reports.

The same station was issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for violating output power limits in June 1999.

Jaime Bonilla, associated with Quetzal Bilingual Communications, also owns group Media Sports de Mexico stations XHPRS Tecate (operated by Broadcasting Corporation of America as Max 105.7), XEPE 1700 kHz (also operated by BCA), XESDD 1030 kHz Tijuana, and XESS 620 kHz Rosarito, Mexico. XESDD was noted by local engineers for its dial position only 10 kHz away from co-owned KURS, less than 20 miles away.

San Diego to Get Franken-FM

The FCC awarded Venture Technologies Group of Los Angeles a Construction Permit to build an analog channel 6 VHF “Franken-FM” transmitter on Mt. Palomar. KRPE-LP is to be licensed for 3kW Visual Power with a two-element Scala yagi antenna, a move from Murrieta. Neither their FCC CP nor database query record specify antenna polarization nor whether they are in the Mexican border zone. XETV held channel 6 from 1953 until they left the air with all other Tijuana stations in June of 2015.

If you’re not familiar with the term, Franken-FM refers to TV stations built on channel 6 analog with the purpose of using only their aural carrier on 87.75 MHz since it’s tunable on just about any FM receiver. Venture currently owns Franken-FM units in Los Angeles, San Jose, Chico, and Redding. Some VTG stations have LMA’s allowing other broadcasters to rent them.

Venture is also installing a new channel 17 low power digital outlet, KRPE-LD, on Red Mountain above Fallbrook. Curiously, the city of license is listed as South Park, CA.

Mexican TV Stations Introduce New Virtual Channel Numbers

On October 27th, Mexican TV stations aligned their virtual channel numbers with their network identifications. After re-scanning channels, you’ll find, for example, XHTJB Tijuana, physical channel 21, identifies now as 11-1 since it broadcasts Canal Once from Mexico City, replacing its most recent virtual channel number as 3-1. That last number had been its analog channel. XHJK, Azteca 13, physical channel 28, now identifies as 1-1.

Not all stations along the border are following this protocol. Tijuana’s Canal Las Estrellas, slated to be 2-1 throughout most of Mexico, was still 57-1 when last scanned. Stations were not re-identified if it was believed their virtual channel number would conflict with a US virtual channel ID.

US TV stations in major O&O markets at one time aligned their TV channel allocations with their mother networks. CBS stations signed on channel 2, NBC channel 4, DuMont channel 5, and ABC channel 7 wherever they could.