Tips, tricks, hints and more

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Tips, tricks, hints and more

Jun 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By John Landry, CSRE

Big hands, big button

Live studio operations still rely on people pushing buttons, and more often than not the buttons and switches on today's equipment do not hold up well to repeated pushing (or sometimes pounding).

Industrial machine buttons can be used for stop, start, next event, delay dump and other functions buttons in a studio. McMaster-Carr number 7557K85 is a SPST contact switch rated at 10 amps, which mates to several available buttons including a 2.76" diameter mushroom (McMaster-Carr number 7544K61). Both parts of the switch can be replaced. This system is used by a well-known cable TV financial talkshow host to fire sound and video effects. These switches are the only ones that will handle his pounding without failure.

Want something even bigger? We also found the FAK switch from Klockner-Moeller. Listed as a palm or foot switch, the red or black cap, which can also be illuminated, measures 3.7" across.

Thanks for the idea

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Justin Kaiser wrote to us regarding the mic flag idea we ran in Tech Tips in the May issue. He had four old mic flags that, as he says, were, really skuzzy. He wanted nice flags for his studio but didn't want to spend the money to have them made.

Kaiser said, "Your simple quick fix was amazing. I took a razor to the old logos, cleaned them with Naptha, painted them with a high-end plastic paint that supposedly sticks to everything (these flags were very yellow from smoke and age. I couldn't find the 4" clear labels, so I picked up the 1" x 2-5/8" labels and used two per flag."

His total cost was about $20. Kaiser says he has found lots of uses for Naptha now, too.

Free tools you can use

Shortly after the PC came onto the scene, there began a steady stream of free software for the broadcast engineer. Much of it is still available, and updated to run with contemporary operating systems. Some are available at in the Engineer's Notebook. Many more can be found through online searches.

Here are some of the more useful programs I have found.

E-Slide -- From Continental Electronics, this utility includes FM contour calculator, satellite acquisition, STL design, H-pad calculators and others.

Starguide Relay Logger -- a relay logging program that can save hours of troubleshooting time with automated programs.

toolbox.exe -- A compilation of 20 different calculating routines for everything from FM power to shunt capacitance of tee networks.

Endec Remote -- A Windows utility for controlling a Sage Endec unit remotely.

Some to look for with online searches: -- Don't have a timeserver on your network? Run this. -- A utility for remotely controlling a Comstream ABR-200/220 series satellite receiver. -- A program for logging EAS activity, which can save lots of time and effort reconciling logs at the end of the month.

For the adventurous types, a GNU/Linux broadcast automation system (for playout, logging and editing) is available free from the Rivendell project at

Landry is an audio maintenance engineer at CBS Radio/Westwood One, New York.

Do you have a tech tip? Send it to us at

Top tips wanted

Earlier this year, we asked for submissions for Tech Tips. The best tip selected would receive a copy of the Pocket Ref by Thomas J. Glover. We chose the mic boom flying spring fix submitted by Kirk Chestnut at Entercom Kansas City. That tip appeared in the March 2008 issue.

Keep sending those tips to us. If we use yours, you could earn SBE recertification for it.