engineer's http://ripr.org en TheEC: 88.1 Studio/Transmitter Link http://ripr.org/post/theec-881-studiotransmitter-link <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">In light of ongoing issues with the Studio/Transmitter Link (</span>STL<span style="line-height: 1.5;">) for </span>WELH<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> 88.1, we have implemented a new </span>STL<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp; schema. &nbsp; If you heard a lot of </span><a href="http://ripr.org/post/theec-digital-chirps-881" style="line-height: 1.5;">odd audio dropouts on 88.1 today</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;">, that was the reason.</span></p><p>The good news is that we should have a pretty good temporary solution in place, and a solid path for a permanent solution is on the horizon (tentatively scheduled for mid-March). &nbsp; Best of all, I was able to put in a new(er)&nbsp;<a href="http://www.optimod.fm/">Orban Optimod 8100A</a>&nbsp;audio processor to replace the less-capable&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bswusa.com/Broadcast-On-Air-Processing-Inovonics-718-David-III-FM-Broadcast-Processor-P2989.aspx">Inovonics DAVID-III</a>. &nbsp;There's a little&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sibilant">sibilance</a>&nbsp;still, so I need to tweak the settings. &nbsp;But overall the sound should be much louder, fuller, and more consistent.</p><p>Read on for more details...</p><p> Tue, 28 Jan 2014 03:08:11 +0000 Aaron Read 28255 at http://ripr.org TheEC: 88.1 Studio/Transmitter Link TheEC: Browser Extensions that Spy on You http://ripr.org/post/theec-browser-extensions-spy-you <p>Taking a break from broadcast engineering this time on TheEC, and instead we'll look at the other side of my job: computers. &nbsp; In particular, here's a heads-up to a recent story that's lit-up the geekier&nbsp;realms of the internet, but may not have percolated to your inbox just yet. &nbsp;It has to do with BROWSER EXTENSIONS and how they might or might not...probably might...be spying on you.</p><p> Tue, 21 Jan 2014 16:49:01 +0000 Aaron Read 27944 at http://ripr.org TheEC: Browser Extensions that Spy on You TheEC: 1290AM Heard in Norway http://ripr.org/post/theec-1290am-heard-norway <p>We've talked in the past about <a href="http://ripr.org/post/theec-skywave-propagation">skywave propagation</a>, but it's cool when you heard about real-world examples of it. &nbsp; Recently I've gotten several emails from "DX'ers" (Distant Reception enthusiasts) in Europe saying they've been able to hear <a href="http://www.lprri.org">Latino Public Radio</a> on 1290AM all the way across the Atlantic! &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> Thu, 21 Nov 2013 21:50:53 +0000 Aaron Read 25177 at http://ripr.org TheEC: 1290AM Heard in Norway TheEC: 91.5 is Back On the Air http://ripr.org/post/theec-915-back-air <p>As of Tuesday November 12th, WCVY is back on the air in limited fashion.&nbsp;&nbsp; As you know, WCVY <a href="http://ripr.org/post/why-wcvy-was-air-few-days">suffered catastrophic damage to its equipment and facility from a roof leak during a thunderstorm in August</a>.&nbsp;&nbsp; The entire space had to be gutted to the concrete walls, and new electrical wiring and drywall installed.&nbsp; Much of the transmitter gear either took direct water damage (e.g. electricity shorting out) or took indirect water damage (e.g. rust and other corrosion), and eventually a lot of it failed completely.</p><p></p><p>We have put a temporary setup in place with a donated 30 watt transmitter on loan (with the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antenna_gain">antenna array's gain</a> factor of 2.1, it's really more like <strong>63 watts</strong> of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effective_radiated_power#FM_example">Effective Radiated Power</a>), and a special radio that's tuned to 102.7FM (there's a high-gain FM antenna on the rooftop tower) and puts out the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:RDS_vs_DirectBand_FM-spectrum2.svg">composite signal</a> directly into the new transmitter.&nbsp;&nbsp; This effectively makes 91.5 into a "repeater" of 102.7FM.</p><p> Tue, 12 Nov 2013 18:43:01 +0000 Aaron Read 24695 at http://ripr.org TheEC: 91.5 is Back On the Air TheEC: More Fiber in RIPR's Diet http://ripr.org/post/theec-more-fiber-riprs-diet <p>As all RIPR fans know, we are an <a href="http://www.npr.org">NPR member station</a>.&nbsp; That means we get a lot of our programming from NPR, the BBC, and other providers, via our <a href="http://www.prss.org">satellite dish</a>.&nbsp;&nbsp; The dish is medium-sized as dishes go, but it&rsquo;s pretty big in real terms: 3.7 meters (12ft) in diameter.&nbsp;&nbsp; There&rsquo;s quite literally nowhere to fit a dish that large at our studios in 1 Union Station, so instead it was installed out at our 1290AM transmitter site in North Providence (we still own 1290, but we lease it to <a href=" Tue, 15 Oct 2013 07:00:00 +0000 Aaron Read 23007 at http://ripr.org TheEC: More Fiber in RIPR's Diet Why WCVY was Off the Air for a Few Days http://ripr.org/post/why-wcvy-was-air-few-days <div>When you’re a broadcast engineer, you get used to receiving calls at odd hours proclaiming things that tend to fall outside the bounds of “normal.” &nbsp; It’s just the nature of the job. &nbsp; But even your intrepid engineer can be surprised sometimes. &nbsp;Friday morning, August 23rd, was one of those times.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><br><br>That morning I got a call informing me that WCVY, our 91.5FM signal for much of Kent County, was off the air.<br><br>Why was it off the air?<br><br><a href="http://www.abc6.com/story/23231541/storm-causes-damage-to-coventry-high-school-roof">The roof collapsed and rain got in</a>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><br><br>Say what?<br>&nbsp;</div><div> Wed, 04 Sep 2013 06:53:00 +0000 Aaron Read 21030 at http://ripr.org Why WCVY was Off the Air for a Few Days TheEC: Air Conditioning at 102.7FM http://ripr.org/post/theec-air-conditioning-1027fm <p><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_conditioning">Air conditioning</a>.&nbsp; Cool heaven for those who have it, blazing hell for those who don't.&nbsp; It didn't used to be terribly common in broadcast engineering, but it's become moreso in the last ten years.&nbsp; The reason is that, more and more, <a href="http://omniaaudio.com">audio processors</a>, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RBDS" target="_blank">RDS encoders</a>, <a href="http://www.comrex.com/products/briclink.html">audio encoders/decoders</a>, studio/transmitter links, <a href="http://burk.com">remote control systems</a>, and even the <a href="http://nautel.com">transmitters themselves</a>, have all become increasingly "computer-like" with <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrated_circuit" target="_blank">IC's</a>, hard disk drives, power supplies, electrolytic capacitors and the like.&nbsp;&nbsp; All things that fail quickly when operated in temperatures above 80 or so, and the warmer it gets, the faster they fail!<br> Wed, 14 Aug 2013 13:23:17 +0000 Aaron Read 20046 at http://ripr.org TheEC: Air Conditioning at 102.7FM TheEC: "Normal Accidents" http://ripr.org/post/theec-normal-accidents <p>Most people have heard of the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Mile_Island_accident">"Three Mile Island" nuclear power plant accident of 1979</a>.&nbsp; But it's famous among engineers for being a "<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normal_accident">normal accident</a>", in that there wasn't any one thing that nearly caused a meltdown of catastrophic proportions...it was a series of little things inside a highly complex system that all happened as part of "normal" operations.&nbsp;&nbsp; None of which, by themselves, was terribly problematic.&nbsp; But they all happened at once, and that <em>was</em> a problem.</p><p> Wed, 24 Jul 2013 23:56:37 +0000 Aaron Read 18972 at http://ripr.org TheEC: "Normal Accidents" TheEC: Phantom Power http://ripr.org/post/theec-phantom-power <p><strong>BOO!&nbsp;</strong> This time on the Engineer’s Corner, we’ll talk about PHANTOM POWER.&nbsp;&nbsp; Usually not as ghoulish as one might expect, phantom power has to do with microphones.&nbsp;&nbsp; Specifically, some microphones have active circuitry inside them.&nbsp;&nbsp; That means they need power to operate, but it’s unwieldy to run a separate power cord and audio microphone cable.&nbsp;&nbsp; So a phantom circuit is used to provide DC power on the same three wires (positive/hot, negative/cold, and ground) out to the microphone that the audio from the mic also uses.</p><p>A phantom circuit is one of those nifty things in electronics that looks, to the layman, like it can’t possibly work...but it does anyway.&nbsp;&nbsp; Fri, 12 Jul 2013 17:26:02 +0000 Aaron Read 18326 at http://ripr.org TheEC: Phantom Power