DALLAS — With both a domestic and international client base, Cesium Communications, our engineering, project and consulting firm, has seen and worked with just about every type of remote control deployed in broadcasting.
We also own and operate a small group of profitable radio stations in a portion of the Dallas DMA, the nation’s fifth-largest broadcast market. With a commitment to total excellence, those stations provide a trusted proving ground for cutting-edge equipment and technologies. Cesium Communications tests many devices, software and methods there prior to recommending them to our demanding customer base. Over the last 18 months we have been studying remote control systems.
We have purchased, installed and tested new remote control units from several manufacturers. After this extensive process, and discarding units that failed real-world testing and use, we have found “nirvana” in Burk Technology’s newest offering, the ARC Solo 16-Channel Remote Control.
16 OF EVERYTHING
The form factor of the Burk ARC Solo is 2 RU-high and requires only 12 inches of depth into the rack. All connections are on the back; with “16 of everything you need:” 16 relays, 16 status monitors and 16 metering inputs. With the increasing demands and complexity of today’s sites, the “16 of everything” approach is particularly helpful.
For those of us who have worked on a myriad of previous Burk remote control systems, the ARC Solo has the comfortable software we know, and the cleanest and most direct mechanical layout to date. The unit is controllable by traditional telco (including a comprehensive preloaded voice library) as well as Internet. The ARC Solo can be utilized exclusively via Internet or telco; however, within a few minutes I suspect that most users with Internet site connections will favor the Internet method, with telco serving as a backup.
Accessories such as the Burk BTU-4 remote temperature sensing and the Burk TS-1 transient suppression are plug-and-play and recommended. The temperature measurement system is so sensitive and accurate that the BTU-4 temperature metering alone informs us when with the maintenance engineer opens the transmitter door for a few moments while performing normal duties.
The ARC Solo has been the easiest, quickest and cleanest install for a remote site. The connectors are the larger Phoenix-style, which makes it fast. The ARC Solo can power cycle without sending pulses to remote equipment, so the unit can be taken off-line for software updates and regular maintenance without disrupting station/site operations. A lighted safety remote/local lock-out button on the front provides additional security for site staff.
Geographically, we are prone to lightning strikes in Texas, and the specific site in question is on a large cattle ranch where the tower is the tallest object for many miles. Even with careful attention to proper grounding, other manufacturers’ remote control units were blown within a few weeks. The Burk ARC Solo has never had such issues. Our investigation of the new Burk system has led us to understand that Burk moved the telco speech interface card off of the motherboard, to better separate and protect the ARC Solo from tower- or telco-sourced lightning and voltage spikes. In our case, that advancement has paid off — particularly when compared to other units tested which failed in the same environment.
It seems that every site in the world has something that makes it unique or requires special monitoring. In our case, the main site is grandfathered just off the end of a private airport in the final approach path. Because of the airport liabilities, our stations are particular about FAA/FCC compliance with paint and lighting. Tower lighting for the site is much more extensive than that of most stations, with many more monitoring points and methods. The Burk ARC Solo accommodated our special requirements. Burk’s Jet active flowchart software allows monitoring and outbound alarm notification unique to various hours of the day and night.
Finally, the Burk ARC Solo has been a dream to set up for Internet interface. By contrast, other units tested were abysmal to configure, and worse to run. The security methods on the Burk ARC Solo appear to be robust. Once the interface is configured via laptop, every function, calibration, notification and change can be accomplished from the comfort of a computer in the home office or anywhere. We have monitored, modified and tweaked the programming on Burk ARC Solo on every platform from freestanding Windows-based machines to laptops to Apple products, including iPads.
With the simplicity and comfort of making changes with the ARC Solo, we have found ourselves advancing the sophistication of our initial programing every few weeks as we take advantage of additional reporting features and monitoring. The Burk ARC Solo gets an A+ from our real-world broadcast test laboratory in a highly competitive market.
For information, contact Matt Leland at Burk Systems in Massachusetts (978) 486-0086 x703 or visit www.burk.com.