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Your 2018 Resolution: Document Everything (for Free!)

Also, you’ll never get locked out of your tower site, if you try this easy idea

Many of the radio and TV stations where Dan Slentz has found himself were seriously lacking in the area of documentation. When you have the “pleasure” of being at a small station, one you get to “play with,” you do a little better job at documenting. Dan does everything with Visio — like CAD, but cheaper and easier to work with for dummies. Fig. 1 demonstrates the network and new wiring layout at WDNP(LP).

The LPFM has outgrown a single studio, so Dan will be adding two workstations. Documentation is easier using CAD-like software.

If Visio is still too costly for you, Dan suggests looking at DRAW. The price is right — it’s free and lets you do basic documentation.


Jim Arcaro, CPBE, sent us a comment about heating locks with flame. Be aware that some of the newer gate locks are touchless. This means they have a programmable key fob that you touch to the bottom of the lock to open it.

There are no “teeth” on this electronic fob — inside both are a lithium battery or capacitor and a circuit board and plastic parts. If you heat one of these new-style locks, it will be damaged. — and that means you can only get in by cutting the lock off.

This happened to Jim a while back when a tower owner’s lock was frozen solid. They first tried heating the lock with their hands, then a cigarette lighter, and finally, a small torch. Even though they didn’t heat it too much, the little heat damaged the lock nonetheless. Jim and his crew never got in that night. Fortunately it wasn’t an emergency.

The tower owner replaced the lock. When Jim returned, he brought a small plastic bag, wrapped it around the lock, and taped it shut to keep the water out. No further problems occurred that winter!

Jim adds that he and his staff made it a habit to check the site every week or so, bringing extra plastic bags, in case someone else didn’t rewrap the lock after entering and leaving.

Jim says they used common grocery store vegetable bags, always in plentiful supply. Plastic bags used for transporting groceries would work just as well.


Broadcast IP networks are an integral part of the engineer’s life, including internet security. For the engineer with IT responsibilities, network security is of paramount importance.

The Society of Broadcast Engineers is presenting a four-part series of webinars by IT maven Wayne Pecena. Wayne is the assistant director of educational broadcast services in the office of information technology at Texas A&M University, and a past recipient of the Radio World Excellence in Engineering Award.

The first module will be presented on Tuesday, Jan. 30. The four sessions cost only $57 for SBE members, $87 for non-members.

Beginning with an “Introduction to Network Security Principals,” courses also will cover understanding the firewall, secure remote access and security verification through penetration testing.


Speaking of networks, Platinum Tools of California has a neat product to test and verify the data-carrying capabilities of Ethernet network cables, up to 1 GHz.

Shown in Fig. 3, the Net Chaser Ethernet Speed Certifier and network tester evaluates cabling by testing for noise in the network. Cable installers have asked for a tester that validates data cables by evaluating all the parameters and not just the cable termination, and this tester meets that request.

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John Bisset has spent 48 years in broadcasting and is still learning. He handles West Coast sales for the Telos Alliance. He is SBE-certified and a past recipient of the SBE’s Educator of the Year Award.