Late last week I was very happy to execute the final changeover to RIPR's new PRODUCTION STUDIO. This is a big deal for us; our studios were originally designed and constructed by WBUR, way back in the late 1990's when they owned RIPR (then just "WRNI") outright, and most of the "back office" personnel were still located in Boston.
Accordingly, we only have one "studio". It's two connected rooms: a "control room" with the usual mix board, producer's station, director's station, etc...and a "mic booth" with just a trio of mics. The idea was that a lot of the day-to-day, off-air, production work was happening up in Boston, where WBUR had four main studios and seven edit booths. So the workload on RIPR's end would be pretty light.
Fast-forward to 2007 and now we're an independent news radio station with nine news staff and a ton of daily production needs. Yet only one studio to do it in! AAAAAHHHH!!! Scheduling conflicts were rampant.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!