It was probably 10 years ago that I received a fax that was too good to be true.
Coming into the office early one morning, I found the fax on official letterhead from a government official in Nigeria. It seems there had been some large profits realized on a transaction, and this official was willing to "share" some of the profits with me – if I would launder his money!
Well, he didn’t say "launder," but as I read on, I could read between the lines. Nonetheless, for a small businessman, the thought of filling my bank account with hundreds of thousands of dollars seemed too good to be true. All I had to do was send him my bank account information, and the funds would be transferred! How simple, how rich!
Knowing that Stevan Dana, founder of Radio World, had experience in the international marketplace, I showed him the fax. After a few moments of laughter, Steve explained how these groups prey on small businesses, and once they get your bank information, begin transferring money out of – not into – your account.
Turns out the Nigerian scheme is a classic. RW Editor Paul McLane recalled receiving the exact same solicitation years ago at a former job. I sent the fax off to the country’s embassy, along with a letter suggesting they investigate the individuals who were tarnishing their country’s name. I never got another fax again.
Perusing Dave Biondi’s Broadcast.Net list server recently, I see that the crooks are at it again, this time using the Internet.
Broadcast Consulting Engineer John Battison reported getting an e-mail version of the letter, which he forwarded to the Attorney General. Alan Kilgore of Moody Broadcasting Network’s WMBV/WMBU reported his message to the FBI. Alan says the FBI is aware of these groups, and has been tracking them for several years. There now appear to be copy-cats of the originators, and Alan recommends reporting the messages to the originator’s e-mail service.
If you receive a message or a fax, don’t get taken. There is no free lunch, no matter how good the offer sounds. Unfortunately, it seems these offers arrive when you just lost a contract client, or receivables are low – the temptation is high. But the chaos that replying to such offers can create is indescribable. Remember, the rules outside of the United States are very different. Be careful!
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(click thumbnail)Fig. 1: Rain can erode soil and expose ground radials.
We’ve had a few good gully-washers in our area this spring. If your area has experienced heavy rains, it’s a good time to check your AM ground system.
Figure 1 shows the effect of rain eroding the soil on a hill, exposing the ground radials. Not only will this earn you a fine from the FCC when they inspect, if animals or kids run over the radials and break them, your AM signal suffers.
Walk around your site and check the soil. Even if your ground field is on a level plot of land, inspect for evidence of off-road vehicles digging in the dirt.
If your site is newly acquired, gently dig with a trowel and inspect your ground radials. The wires should not be corroded, nor brittle.
It’s OK for the radial wires to be tarnished green. Most radial wires are buried 6 to 10 inches deep. Check your AM license as to how many radials were buried, and their length. Many of the older original licenses contained this information.
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With the migration of satellite services to all-digital systems, stations with older dishes are encountering problems. The new Starguide receivers must have a 2-degree-compliant dish for effective reception.
In talking to Mr. Satellite, Harris’ Jerry Weddle, if you have an older dish – 10 to 15 years old – it may not be 2 degree-compliant. The result will be interfering signals from adjacent satellites.
Lowell Kiesow of KPLU(FM), Pacific Lutheran University’s station in Tacoma, Wash., suggests tweaking the feedhorn polarization to reduce interference , if the problem still exists on a 2 degree-compliant dish. Lowell believes that polarization of the feedhorn is the first line of defense against adjacent satellite interference.
The process is simple but can take some patience. The method is easiest using a spectrum analyzer, adjusting the polarization to null the garbage from cross-polarized adjacent birds. You tweak the polarization for the cleanest desired spectrum.
If you don’t have a spectrum analyzer, Lowell says the same effect can be achieved using the Eb/No reading on the receiver. The display is a slow average reading, which misses a lot of the transient junk that causes reception problems.
However, if you are patient, you will succeed. You’ll need a couple of handi-talkies and a partner to watch the Eb/No number as you adjust the polarity. It’s a job that will try your patience, because you’ll need to wait at least 30 seconds for the Eb/No average to change after each adjustment.
The trick is to take it slow, and be patient. Make small changes followed by long averages. As you adjust, you will find a range where no obvious change in the Eb/No number will occur. Keep moving until you get to the outside limits, the point where you observe deterioration, and mark those points with a pencil. Then center the feedhorn between these two marks for best rejection of interference.
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(click thumbnail)Fig. 2: The result of placing a static mat on shag or deep pile carpeting.
For most of the country, static mat season is over. Now many of us need to endure days of endless humidity! Using static mats in the studio can be a challenge. Their 24-hour use means they wear quickly.
Figure 2 shows the result of placing the mat on shag or deep pile carpeting. You can eliminate the ruts if you glue the mat to a piece of 1/4-inch plywood, cut for the size of the mat.
RW Technical Advisor Tom McGinley goes a step further. Instead of buying plastic mats, Tom suggests you purchase a stiff sheet of polished aluminum, 1/8-inch thick.
An added benefit is that the sheet can be connected to the master ground. A sheet metal outfit should be able to make one with tapered edges at a reasonable cost. It’s been Tom’s experience that when the air is really dry, you need the "real deal" – cheaper plastic mats can’t compete with the aluminum equivalent.
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