FM Jammer Taken Down

A call from a listener Friday, February 15, led Clear Channel’s local Director of Engineering, John Rigg, to go on a treasure hunt.

He was told that when listening to KHTS 93.3 MHz in a car on interstate 805 east of the University City neighborhood in San Diego, they heard a loud fluttering noise. The noise, also taking out 93.1, could be heard jamming 93.3 as far away as Kearny Mesa.

John and RF specialist Stephen Frick grabbed their spectrum analyzer and a yagi and headed out to track down the interference. It didn’t take Steve and his directional antenna long to find a possible source of the signal off Whipple Avenue just three blocks away from the freeway. A tall mast and suspicious antenna loomed some 70 feet above a home in the neighborhood.  John knocked on the door there and was loudly told from inside that no one was home.

John called the FCC’s local office Monday. As early as Wednesday, an inspector told him that the owner of the antenna was known from previous contact, and after conducting a home visit, the jamming noise disappeared.

KGTV Gets New CE

New York native Andrew Lombard joined McGraw-Hill’s KGTV as the new Chief Engineer. He follows Ron Eden, who has been out on disability lately due to health problems.

For the past 8 years, Andrew served as Director of Engineering at WPTZ and WNNE in Burlington, VT-Plattsburgh, NY, a Hearst-Argyle Television company.

When pried for personal information, he listed his accomplishments: "Bringing two HDTV stations on line; regionalizing 2 stations and five remote locations into one control, monitoring, and programming location; being among the first to adopt compressed ASI streams over microwave; progressing stations out of tape-based to server-based video editing and transfer; and turning a small town TV station into a first-rate facility.

Andrew says he started 24 years ago in satellite electronics in the Air Force in Sunnyvale CA. After four years, he landed his first TV job back home in upstate New York at WCFE-PBS. And he’s done everything from mobile teleproduction, to cable origination, to DTH satellite ops.

He says he loves sailing, motorcycling, and country music. He has a family back in New York that will join him this spring.

Andrew also said he looks forward to joining the SBE chapter this year since he didn’t have a local chapter in the neighborhood back east.

KFMB-DT to Move to Channel 7

Midwest Television announced this week to enthusiasts on the HDTV.forSanDiego.com forum that KFMB-DT will broadcast digital TV on channel 7 beginning in March. The station will give up channel 55, the spectrum it has used since 2001, to MediaFLO, a Qualcomm division that transmits mobile multichannel television and has purchased from the FCC the rights to use channel 55 nationwide.

In order to temporarily occupy channel 7 VHF, Qualcomm worked with KFMB, incumbent NTSC channel user KABC in Los Angeles, and the FCC. They were able to obtain an experimental license for a period that will expire February 17, 2009, when KFMB-DT will occupy only its elected channel 8 with an ATSC signal. The experimental license will require two renewals since they are granted on a 6-month basis.

According to Rick Bosscher, KFMB RF Supervisor, the complicated agreement between these parties includes some protection for KABC. The KFMB VHF 16-panel Delta Wing array antenna made by Dielectric beams in a cardioid pattern with a sharp null in the direction of KABC’s line-of-sight Mt. Wilson transmission antenna. KFMB-DT 7 will initially sign on with only 47 kW ERP from a new Harris CD Platinum VHF transmitter. After they retire the Comark channel 55 transmitter, they will install additional PA cabinets to bring the ERP to 140 kW maximum from the easterly lobe. When they move to channel 8 next year, the antenna will be rotated to place the null toward the ocean, and used only as a standby. They will use the older top-mounted omni-directional slot antenna as primary. At that time, power will settle at 14.9 kW ERP.

In order to support the VHF panels, the 1954 vintage tower had to be substantially reinforced, and new one-inch guy wires installed to the top. Travis Donahue of Wireless Infrastructure says their company may have “put up more steel than made up the original tower.”

As part of the deal, KFMB Stations Director of Engineering Rich Lochmann says they will provide space for MediaFLO channel 55 transmissions on a neighboring tower at their Mt. Soledad  site.

Additionally, Rich says, LG/Zenith will use the new VHF ATSC station to test their new set-top boxes in the San Diego County terrain.

When the February Nielsen ratings sweep is finished February 28, the station will publicize the transition for digital viewers, then, if all goes well, the switch will take place March 6.

The added transmitter required substantial electrical power planning and rework, and Bosscher says Juice Electric did a great job supplying the power while everything stayed on the air.

The experimental permit for the project raised some eyebrows among technical observers. It’s not publicly known whether the permit was coordinated with Mexico. Temporary, scheduled use of spectrum operating outside parameters of standard FCC rules traditionally involves a Special Temporary Authority permit issued by the FCC’s Media Bureau rather than an  Experimental Permit issued by the Office of Engineering and Technology (OET). Details of the permit were not published on the internet but were available by visiting the OET in person. MediaFLO has obtained numerous experimental permits to broadcast its mobile television in the San Diego area during its product development phase.

The author of this article, Gary Stigall, is Director of Engineering for Bay City Television, dba XETV FOX6, owned by Mexican broadcaster Televisa Corporation. He previously worked for KFMB Stations for 13 years.

January 2008 – WireCAD Drawing Software

Documenting your broadcast facility may seem like a chore better put off till next week when you have more time, but you and I know it’s as important as collision insurance or fixing the boss’s laptop. When an emergency happens and you need to trace a signal path, you’re going to save some time if you have good docs.

If you resolve to better document in 2008, we’ve got a presentation for you.  WireCAD is coming to town. If you’ve ever tried climbing the steep learning curve of a conventional computer-aided design software package, you can appreciate WireCAD and its specialization in the broadcast, A/V, and computer networking industries. Find out how you can create rack elevations and wiring diagrams from equipment and wire lists, or vice versa.

WireCAD buys us lunch at TV Magic, Friday, January 11, 2008 at noon. TV Magic is at 8112 Engineer Road in Kearny Mesa. Members and guests welcome.

WireCAD will conduct a drawing, giving away the key for a WireCAD XLT package for a year of use. Bring your business card to drop in the hat to win.

FCC Posts New NCE FM Applicants

In its Daily Digest for Wednesday, November 14, the FCC published a list of non-commercial and educational (NCE) FM new station applicants that exceeded 700 pages in PDF format. The text only version exceeded a half megabyte. Those new applications represent the floodgate opened when the FCC recently issued a filing window for new NCE stations. It’s especially remarkable when you consider that each applicant was limited to 10 filings.

In San Diego County, applications were for facilities outside the city. The FCC summarily dismissed a Valley Center filing on 88.1 MHz for violating service contours of existing stations. An application by the European Cultural Association for a station in National City on 88.9 MHz seems to ignore the presence of adjacent channel XHITT 88.7 in Tijuana, a public station run by the  Instituto Tecnologico de Tijuana less than 10 miles away.  San Diego State University, licensees of KPBS and KQVO, applied for three stations in Borrego Springs and Calipatria (Imperial County).

An application for the Rincon on 89.5 MHz turns out not to be for Rincon, California as the FCC lists it, but for Rincon, New Mexico. Consultant Bob Gonsett took the time to look at the engineering data to discover the intended community of service.

Here’s a summary of San Diego County new NCE applications found. Note that Calipatria is in Imperial County.

LOCATION MHz APPLICANT FCC FILE NO. 
National City 88.9 European Cultural Association BNPED-20071018AQS
Romona 89.9 Activist San Diego BNPED-20071022AEZ
Descanso 89.1 Activist San Diego BNPED-20071022AFB
Pine Valley 89.1 Centro Cristano Cosecha Final BNPED-20071022ABP
Valley Center  88.1 Centro Cristano Vida Abundante BNPED-20071018ABK
Pala 91.3 Pala Band of Mission Indians BNPED-20071016AFG
Borrego Springs  91.3 Borrego Springs Christian Center BNPED-20071012ASL
Borrego Springs  91.3 San Diego State University BNPED-20071018AVI
Borrego Springs  88.1 San Diego State University BNPED-20071018AVJ
 Borrego Springs  88.1 Centro de Intercesion y Adoracion Internacional BNPED-20071022AIR
Calipatria 88.1 San Diego State University BNPED-20071018AVL

John Rigg, who provides contract engineering services for Finest City Broadcasting, operators of XETRA-FM on 91.1, said of the new applications, “These are going to be more fun than a box of snakes.”

Society of Broadcast Engineers, San Diego