We'll start off with a simple yet effective tip from Fred Greaves Jr., director of engineering for Susquehanna Radio Corp.
Over the years, a lot of engineers have written utility time saver programs for PCs in BASIC. Under Windows 2000, a lot of these programs run with "scrunched" screens.
There is a solution.
The way around this problem is to add a first line in the program as follows:
Behold, a full screen!
Windows 2000 apparently does something weird to the screen sizing.
Thanks, Fred, you've saved a lot of us from squinting.
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(click thumbnail)Fig. 1 Radio's secret power source? No, but if you don't replace the 'memory' battery in your transmitter on a regular basis, problems can result.
If you have a newer transmitter, this is a good time to replace the "memory" battery.
As shown in Fig. 1, these batteries are usually located near or on the control card. If you let them drain completely, all sorts of weird things can happen, including powering up with zero power out.
If you don't know the effects caused by these batteries going dead, you can spend several hours of tail-chasing as you try to fix a non-existent problem.
(click thumbnail)Fig. 2 Green indicators show the status protection modules on your surge suppressor.
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While you're at the site, check your surge suppressor, if you have one.
Fig. 2 shows an LEA model that provides go/no go green indicators to show the status of each protection module. Remember, if a light is out, swap modules to make sure it's not a bulb problem (though the neon indicators seldom fail).
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Joe Portelli works for WMLP(AM) and WVLY(FM) in Milton, Pa. A picture in the May 8 Workbench of an electrical panel with a warning sticker caught Joe's eye.
He identified the panel as a Federal Pacific Electric model, with Stab-Lok breakers. Joe reports that the breakers in these panels have been shown to have a significant failure rate and should be checked regularly. The double-pole breakers common at transmitter sites have been shown to especially troublesome.
While there hasn't been an official recall notice made by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, owners of these panels may want to consider replacing them. There is some excellent information on this issue at www.inspect-ny.com/fpe/fpepanel.htm. For a sampling of what has been written on this topic, do a Web search for Federal Pacific Electric.
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Dale Tucker sells advertising for Radio World and is a lover of broadcast nostalgia. He recently passed on a neat little tidbit from Bill Brister, chief engineer of KETH(TV) in Houston.
Bill was responding to a question on a Broadcast Net listserv as to the origin of the BNC connector. No, it's not British Naval Connector. Amphenol engineer Carl Concelman and Bell Labs engineer Paul Neill co-invented the BNC connector.
BNC? Of course it's (B)ayonet (N)eill (C)oncelman connector. The threaded version, the TNC, is (T) threaded (N)eill (C)oncelman connector.
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(click thumbnail)Fig. 3 The source of backhoe fade. This trench produced broken radials and satellite coax.This time of year is great for outside construction, but the good weather also increases your chance of backhoe fade.
Fig. 3 was a shot taken at an AM site. A close look reveals broken copper radials. In the lower right of the trench is what's left of a satellite coax.
The Radio Doctor, Lyle Henry, does contract and project work in California. He has repaired short pieces of RG-17 lines using thin copper tubing from a hardware store soldered to the broken center conductor, and then some thin copper sheeting for the shield, using a hose clamp to secure the sheeting at each end.
Thick packing foam that can be cut with a knife will work to insulate the splice. Covering the splice with a big piece of heat shrink probably will hold the splice for years.
Although not a permanent fix, splices like this will get the station back up and running.
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With daylight-saving time coming to an end toward the end of October, I've encountered a few questions from engineers programming VRC-2000 systems for day and night pattern changes. Bob Newberry, the RF supervisor for WBRC(TV) in Birmingham, Ala., offers perhaps the simplest method.
Enter two extra pattern change times for April and two for October. At the appropriate time, you activate the standard time pair, and deactivate the DST pair. You'll end up with a total of 28 pattern change entries. This process also simplifies things for the air staff.
An interesting Web site about daylight-saving time is found at http://webexhibits.org. It includes a calculator so you can figure out the exact dates of DST for future years.
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We'll wrap up this issue with a neat little item from Robert Gonsett's CGC Communicator newsletter.
It's a fun online tool provided by V-Soft Communications. You can specify a five-digit Zip Code and see a list of FM stations likely to be received at that location.
The free tool uses the FCC's F(50,50) propagation algorithm; the receiver coordinates usually are those of the local U.S. Post Office. If a station is directional, its pattern is taken into account.
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