Engineer's Corner

Engineer's Corner
6:10 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

TheEC: New STL at 88.1FM

Your Intrepid "Engneah" poses with the new 950MHz Microwave STL transmit antenna on the roof of WELH's studios on the Wheeler School campus.
Credit David Schiano

UPDATE 7/22: After a weekend of solid operation, we've moved out of "beta" and into "gold", meaning when you listen to 88.1, you're hearing audio that's coming across the new microwave STL.

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Good news everyone!

Longtime Engineer's Corner readers know that we've had, well, "issues" with the STL or "Studio/Transmitter Link" for our 88.1FM signal in Providence.   The STL is what carries the audio from our studios in downtown Providence to the transmitter/tower at the Wheeler Farm in Seekonk.

Now a couple weeks ago we revealed that half of a new wireless microwave STL was installed, and that the other half would be installed soon.  Today, we fired it up for the first time and the results were gratifyingly positive!

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Engineer's Corner
6:26 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

TheEC: Zapped in Narragansett

Not nearly as romantic as "Lost in Austen", but the hefty thunderstorms that roared through Wednesday morning dumped a lot of rain and dropped a lot of lightning, both of which conspired to take RIPR's 102.7FM (and MVYradio's HD2) off the air for an hour or two.

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Engineer's Corner
7:25 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

TheEC: New STL Dish at 88.1 - INSTALLED!

New 950MHz microwave STL dish being installed on WELH tower in Seekonk.
Credit Aaron Read RIPR

UPDATE @ 1pm : 88.1FM is back at normal power!  Pics are available on our Twitter feed here, here, here and here.   By the way, many of these pics were taken with a stock iPhone 5S using this telephoto lens attachment.  Pretty good for $45!

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On Wednesday June 18th, beginning around 9:30 or 10am, 88.1FM will be running on the backup transmitter & antenna for a few hours to install new equipment on the top of the tower.   We must run on the lower-power backup for the health & safety of our tower climber.

The backup operates using a one-bay vertically-polarized omnidirectional antenna and about one-tenth our normal power.   

THIS WILL NOT IMPACT OUR 91.5 OR 102.7FM SIGNALS, NOR OUR WEBCAST.

Keep watching our Twitter feed for updates.

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Engineer's Corner
2:36 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

TheEC: Logitek Audio's Mosiac Mix Board

Logitek MOSIAC mixer demo in the RIPR studio.
Credit Susan Greenhalgh RIPR

This week Frank from Logitek Audio was in town to provide RIPR with a demo of their MOSAIC mix board.  To turn a phrase, this is not your father's mix board!

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Engineer's Corner
10:17 am
Thu May 22, 2014

TheEC: Air Conditioning at 88.1FM

New portable A/C. Note the pink foam insulation along the walls.
Credit Aaron Read RIPR

Regular readers of the ENGINEER'S CORNER might recall my story about air conditioning at our 102.7FM transmitter in Narragansett Pier.   Well now I'm pleased to report that we have air conditioning at 88.1FM WELH in Seekonk as well!

In many ways, this is an even bigger deal; 102.7 had a hefty vent fan system that could move a lot of air.  Sure, if the air outside was hot, it means the air inside was hot, too.  Usually you can't cool a room using outside air below about +10F degrees above outside air temps.   So if it's 90F outside, it's 100 to 105F inside...ugh!  

And at 88.1, we didn't really have even that.  The transmitter site is an 8x10ft shed with a single 12 inch desk fan blowing air out one of the wall vents, and no insulation whatsoever on the walls or ceiling.  Temps routinely broke 120F inside, even when it was only 70 to 80F outside.

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Engineer's Corner
2:24 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

TheEC: NAB2014 in Vegas

Your intrepid engineer presents at PREC.
Andrea Toven

As promised, here are some pics of my six days and seven nights in Las Vegas for the 2014 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show, one of the biggest conferences in the USA, with over 98,000 engineers, managers, vendors and content creators all crammed into the truly massive Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC).

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Engineer's Corner
12:42 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

TheEC: Audio Dropouts on 88.1FM

Can you hear me now?

UPDATED 5/8/2014.

The morning of April 30th saw several odd "dropouts" in the audio on 88.1FM, usually lasting 5 to 8 seconds each, happening as often as 2 or 3 times a minute, but more commonly once every 10 to 15 minutes.

There was also an odd "repeating audio" effect some people noticed, when the audio came back.

Read on for the explanation of both!

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Engineer's Corner
6:10 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

WCVY 91.5 update Apr.22

BW Broadcast TX300 v2 transmitter
Credit BW Broadcast

UPDATE 3:30PM​  Taking advantage of the downtime, we swapped in the new BW Broadcast TX300v2 transmitter to replace the aging BE FX50 & QEI/LPB FM150SS combo.   The 91.5FM signal should be a little better than usual now.

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Engineer's Corner
1:11 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

TheEC: Heartbleed and Donations to RIPR

The big news in computing this week is Heartbleed, a serious security problem with secure websites.   Specifically, it's a two-year-old bug in the near-ubitiquous OpenSSL (Secure Socket Layer) protocol...most commonly recognized when there's a "https" (instead of "http") at the beginning of a website address.

It's a big problem, and I'll explain why in a second, but first I wanted to let everyone know that the RIPR donations website is secure and never was vulnerable to Heartbleed.   They use a hardware-based implementation of SSL, not OpenSSL.

So if you have donated or plan to donate to RIPR, you have nothing to worry about in regards to Heartbleed and that donation.  Whew!

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Engineer's Corner
10:41 am
Mon March 31, 2014

TheEC: West River Runs High Through 1290

The West River runs high through the 1290AM tower site. Water levels are a good two feet above normal.
Credit Aaron Read

As many of you know, RIPR owns and maintains the 1290AM site on the Providence/North Providence town line.  Our NPR satellite downlink is there, and we lease the frequency to our friends at Latino Public Radio.

In the past, the site was largely a pond (Whipple Pond) with Douglas Ave forming part of a dam in the eastern corner.   After the torrential rains of 2010, the dam broke and the pond drained.  Now the West River flows freely through the site.

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