User Report: ARC Plus Provides Remote Control From … Mozambique
     

The ARC Plus iPhone App
PANAMA CITY, Fla. — For many years, the stations that comprise the Panama City, Fla., market cluster for Clear Channel had a variety of remote control systems. Some of these systems eventually were discontinued and not supported by the vendors anymore.

In 2002, capital was approved to replace these aging systems with a common platform. Burk Technology had introduced the ARC Plus; the system was selected to be that platform. Before the ARC Plus units were delivered, it was determined that there were some problems with the new product and Burk decided to delay deployment.

Burk offered to send new ARC-16 systems and equip them with all of the capabilities we needed at the three FM and one AM transmitter sites until the ARC Plus was “ready for prime time.” We agreed, ARC-16s were installed and it was agreed we could keep these and return them for full credit when the ARC Plus systems were delivered.

HAPPY RETURNS

In 2009, the UPS man delivered a stack of Burk boxes containing the newly revised ARC Plus systems for all of my sites. As promised, Burk took back the ARC-16 systems for full credit and I installed the ARC Plus units in their place.

Installation was easy after the first site was finished and the learning curve for installing the systems and programming the alarms, status, command and metering was fast. Initially, some of my sites did not have high-speed Internet connectivity so I could not take advantage of the IP connectivity and I used the telephone interface at those sites. My WDIZ(AM) site and the WEBZ(FM) transmitter site had DSL with static IPs so I was able to have both IP and telephone connectivity with the new ARC Plus units immediately.

Version 1 and 2 of the firmware utilized Java and could be a little testy at times according to the speed and other factors; however, now that the new Version 3 firmware is loaded, I am also able to access the ARC Plus units at my other sites, WPAP(FM)/WFSY(FM) and WFLF(FM), using the low-speed connectivity of the Clear Channel SATL satellite system … something I could not do successfully with the earlier versions using Java.

The new Version 3 firmware is rock-solid via both IP and telephone. I should note that telephone connectivity was fine with Versions 1 and 2.

Software

Another advantage of the Version 3 software is that I can monitor and control my sites through my iPhone’s browser. The ARC Plus has a built-in Web server and it allows me to read all meters, check status channels and control the transmitters at all of my sites. It also automatically changes my AM site’s daytime and nighttime pattern and power.

I might add that I do some international travel related to ham radio DX contests and DXpeditions and I have sat in my hotel in Croatia, the island of St. Martin and on Midway Island (literally in the middle of Pacific Ocean) and checked my transmitters using the Web interface.

It is likely that by the time you read this, I will have already been to Mozambique on another DXpedition in October, and I am confident that I will have been able to check on my sites from there as well.

If you have an ARC Plus and you haven’t upgraded to the Version 3 firmware, I would strongly recommend it. It will make things even simpler with the ARC Plus.

I have found the ARC Plus system to be very reliable. I have UPS power at each of my sites so that it may call out in the event of a power failure to let me know that the power has failed and that the generator is online and the transmitters returned to the air.

Setting up the ARC Plus is simple and requires no scripts, drawing diagrams or special programs except for a simple self-explanatory program to do the initial setup for the site. One can have a site up and running in less than an hour.

If you are considering a replacement for your current remote control system for the transmission facilities, I would strongly recommend that you take a hard look at the Burk ARC Plus. I think you will like it.

For information, contact Matt Leland at Burk Technology in Massachusetts at (978)486-0086 x703 or visit www.burk.com.


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