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.”

Fires Disrupt San Diego Broadcasts

The record-breaking fires in San Diego County are serving to bring us both opportunity to prove itself worthy of its slice of the public spectrum, and the challenge to cover all the breaking news with limited resources and without any income whatsoever.

Fire safety officers warned late the previous week that it might be a tough weekend when extremely low humidity and desert “Santa Ana” winds combined to prepare the dry underbrush for burning.

Sunday, October 21

Fire breaks out at 9:00 AM in the relatively unpopulated area of Protrero and Harris Ranch Road along state highway 94 southeast of San Diego. Fire later starts east of Romona northeast of San Diego in the Witch Creek draw.

In the evening, as the fires head toward Romona with its 30,000 residents, stations begin going live wall-to-wall with neither commercials nor the usual primetime programming. Notably, all seven Clear Channel radio stations start simulcasting, mostly using KOGO radio news crews, with veteran newsman Cliff Albert anchoring. Independent KUSI goes full-time with an ENG crew in Romona, then NBC’s KNSD hit the air after their NFL broadcast. ABC affilate KGTV, Fox affiliate XETV, and CBS affiliate KFMB each go live.

Stations use their existing alliances to simulcast, with the BCA stations XEPRS (AM) 1090, XEBCE (FM) 105.7, and XEPE (AM) 1700 rebroadcasting KUSI’s audio.{mosimage}

Monday, October 22

Lincoln Financial Media’s KSOQ-FM 92.1 satellite station becomes the first casualty as the Witch Fire crossed Mt. Whitney, burns electrical power lines feeding the station. It goes silent.

The Harris Fire on Monday night burns over the top of Mt. San Miguel, home to San Diego UHF TV stations KNSD, KPBS, KSWB, and KUSI and radio station KPBS-FM. Low power Spanish TV station KSDX 29 is completely destroyed, with photos showing the heat seemingly coming from the inside, out. Live video from KNSD’s tower camera shows the fire approaching, then cracking the lens from excessive heat. San Diego Gas & Electric’s 230 kV line to the area fails as over 20 transmission poles burn, and telephone service goes out. Most TV & FM stations on top are able to continue broadcasting using generators. KPBS-FM and -TV go off the air for lack of generator power. Telephone line outages causes failures of remote ENG microwave antenna controllers there for KGTV, KFMB, and XETV.

While less publicized, enormous fires also break out in Baja California, Mexico. One such fire, a few miles south of the Harris Ranch Fire, burns the electrical transmission lines feeding broadcast facilities on Cerro Bola near Tecate. XEBCE (FM) is off the air until the line is prepared.

Tuesday, October 23

The Witch Fire far to the north in Valley Center causes phone outages at Palomar Mountain, where ENG relays no longer take remote commands for TV outlets.

After KPBS-FM goes off the air, Lincoln Financial Media’s KBZT (FM) (94.9, alternative rock) begins broadcasting fire information from the KPBS studios on a ISDN link, and continues to do so through Wednesday.

Tuesday night, KPBS crews bring a spare 1000 watt transmitter from their desert station in Calexico back to the San Diego State University studio site. Bext supplies a two-bay antenna from their shelf stock downtown, and KPBS staff mounts it overnight on their STL tower. By morning, KPBS-FM 89.5 is back on the air from Gateway Center at about 400-ft elevation AMSL.

Meanwhile, XETV FOX6 takes a portable ENG receiver to its transmitter site in Tijuana and begins relaying live news from the Harris Fire near Chula Vista, using a recent FCC ENG license endorsement that allows the station to beam over the border on 6.5 GHz.

Wednesday, October 24

SDG&E crews quickly installs new poles, restoring power at Mt. Whitney, and KSOQ (FM) resumes rebroadcasting KSON-FM.

The Witch fire climbs Palomar Mountain, threatening homes near the top, as well as radio sites and the famous telescope. News crews report that firefighters make a particularly risky stand at the South Grade Road and stop the fire before it gets to those homes.

By late afternoon, the Santa Ana winds subside, temperatures cool somewhat, and humidity begins to increase, slowing the spread of flames, but bringing the very real possibility of easterly spread on the north on south fingers of the fires.

Thursday, October 25

A motorcade of fuel trucks and broadcast engineers drives up Mt. San Miguel, refueling the generator storage tanks. Utility representatives forecast having all the replacement poles serving the mountaintop in place within two weeks.

Late in the afternoon, AT&T restores phone service to Palomar Mountain, once again allowing for the control of microwave relays there, but the fire rages on the southwest slopes of the long ridge.

Friday, October 26

KPBS puts a temporary generator in place, by late afternoon powering its FM and DT transmitters to the legal limit, and its analog transmitter at half power.

Epilogue

To date, the Harris Fire burned 90,750 acres. There were 34 injuries to firefighters, 21 civilians burned and 5 civilian fatalities.

The Witch Fire burned 197,990 acres. There were 38 injuries to firefighters, and two civilian fatalities.

The Rice Fire burned 9,472 acres. Full containment was obtained on October 28th. There have been five injuries to firefighters.

The Poomacha Fire burned 49,150 acres. There were 20 injuries to firefighters.

In total, 346,890 acres burned, 1,588 residences destroyed, 320 residences damaged, 2 commercial properties destroyed. 640,000 citizens were evacuated. Suppression costs so far are estimated at $93-million.

Rockley Curless, KPBS transmitter engineer, took a series of photographs of the site and posted them on Flickr.

KOGO Begins Nighttime IBOC AM

KOGO (AM) 600 kHz began nighttime digital broadcasts on the first legal night, September 14, 2007, confirms Clear Channel San Diego Market Director of Engineering John Rigg. They haven’t experienced any problems or heard any complaints to date. John said tuning around the dial, he was surprised to receive a steady HD-radio signal from KFBK at 1530 kHz. He was also able to clearly receive from El Cajon the analog-only KTAR Phoenix at 620 kHz, alternate channel from the KOGO carrier.

Other digital outlets picked up locally include KNX Los Angeles at 1070 and KSL Salt Lake at 1160. No other local AM stations have yet installed IBOC equipment.

October 2007 Meeting – Telos Brings the ZIP

Among the most memorable San Diego SBE meetings were in the late 1980s when Steve Church of Telos Systems introduced us to the DSP phone hybrid, and later when he brought the Zephyr ISDN transceiver and described its new underlying MPEG compression scheme. At this month’s meeting, Michael Uhl of Telos-Systems shows off the Zephyr IP, or Z/IP.

The Zephyr IP uses wired or wireless internet links to pass audio from location to location, the theory being that IP connections are now easier to find than the ISDN lines required for the previous Zephyr models. Inside the box, the Session Initiation Protocol (SIO) assures that the best codec for the conditions presented get used so that the connection uses minimum bandwidth for highest fidelity with lowest latency. The Z/IP was designed to work with existing boxes, as well.

Mike will also bring a sample Axia audio router and Omnia audio processor and answer questions about any or all of those sister products.

This month’s noon meeting takes place at Lincoln Financial Media, home to KSON, KBZT, and KIFM. Members and guests are welcome to join us October 17 at 12:00 PM on the 7th floor at 1615 Murray Canyon Road. Lunch is provided by Telos. Park on the street outside the tall building and proceed up the elevator.

Society of Broadcast Engineers, San Diego