Fig. 1: A laptop with Wi-Fi permits easy access to the entire station documentation package.
Reginald Swedberg works at KJNP(AM/FM), a missionary radio operation near Fairbanks, Alaska. There is no paid staff; all personnel are volunteers who raise financial support like the other missionaries.
Redgy has been at KJNP since 1991, and he is the only radio technician. Like a lot of small-market engineers, he also helps with a little bit of everything around the station, from programming to bookkeeping. That level of responsibility has taught Redgy to work efficiently.
To this end, he is trying a new form of station documentation. As the staff updates equipment and works on various items, new documentation is being done on Google Sites, a Web application intended to make information accessible to groups of people who need quick, current access. (Find info at the Radio World links page for this issue, radioworld.com/Apr-11-2012.)
Each piece of equipment gets it own page. These are set up with a base page of the individual station buildings, linked to each room, linked to each rack, then linked to each piece of equipment.
Fig. 2: Details of Redgy’s documentation via Google Sites.
Pertinent information is entered on that page as well. There are links to each connection to the equipment, both ins and outs, to bring you to where things are coming from or going to.
Redgy has grown to like the system even more as he uses it. As pictured in Fig. 1, he can use a laptop on Wi-Fi to access the information from whatever location he is working. Use the links to track wires, instead of looking up wire numbers. He finds it easy to update by editing the page whenever needed. Redgy uses the “file cabinet” feature to keep PDFs of manuals, drawings or charts. Screen shots, pictured in Figs. 2 and 3, give you an idea of how versatile this application can be.
Because it’s cloud-based, Redgy can access the documentation at home. He can look something up on his smartphone, if need be. Another plus: If Redgy is out of town and someone else needs to come in and do some work, that person has a resource that is easy to use and navigate.
In concern for security, Redgy does not put passwords or secure information online; he keeps that information “in-house” so that if someone would hack into the page they would not get any sensitive information.
Fig. 3: Details of Redgy’s documentation via Google Sites.
A unique way to utilize Google Sites.
* * *
Logging recorders — dedicated units or automation software add-ons — are handy for policing air talent, verifying that spots aired on schedule and archiving material for assembling “best of” programs for weekends and vacations.
But they can be cumbersome, expensive and, in the case of tape-based systems, easy to forget to load. Low-power and community stations especially are in need of inexpensive, dedicated, set-and-forget recorders.
Al Peterson, engineer at the Arlington, Va.-based Radio America Network, tells us about a free Linux broadcast audio logging program called Rotter that runs 24/7 on as little as a P3 Celeron computer from the junk closet.
Rotter is a command-line-only program that writes and date-stamps a new file every hour to a hard disk in MP2, MP3, WAV, FLAC, AIFF or OGG formats. It cleans out files after a predetermined time period; set it for 500 hours and you’ll save nearly three weeks of audio. You can then offload from your hard disk to other drives or archival DVDs as needed.
Put a Rotter computer on your LAN, and you can open and review saved files almost immediately at any machine on the network.
Rotter should be synced to an external NTP timeserver on the Internet to avoid clock drift, and the program requires a few dependencies in order to run properly.
Visit radioworld.com/Apr-11-2012 for a link to the download. You can also find instructions on command line syntax and the dependencies necessary to run Rotter. The program was written by Nicholas J. Humfrey of BBC Radio.
Contribute to Workbench. You’ll help your fellow engineers and qualify for SBE recertification credit. Send Workbench tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Fax to (603) 472-4944.
Author John Bisset has spent 43 years in the broadcasting industry, and is still learning. He is SBE Certified and is a past recipient of the SBE’s Educator of the Year Award.