Known to Radio World readers for his broadcast engineering work at Greater Media and Burk Technology, and his presentations at numerous engineering conferences, Paul Shulins has struck out on his own.
Naturally he’s taking advantage of his past broadcast experience in this endeavor; and the result is Shulins Solutions, a broadcast technical consultancy.
Radio World: What is Shulins Solutions?
Paul Shulins: It has three pillars: the Stellar Eclipse platform which provides unique monitor, control and protection solutions for transmission sites; drone-based tower inspections; and a full range of consulting services based on years’ of practical experience on the ground building and operating broadcast facilities.
Stellar Eclipse broadcast site monitoring platform provides a systems approach to monitoring and protection of RF systems from simple to complex featuring exclusive VSWR Sentinel protection technology.
sUAS Drone-based tower structure visual and infrared surveys provide an indispensable tool to diagnose the health of RF systems and tower structures without the risk of climbing the towers.
Broadcast Technology Consulting meets the demands of broadcasters, specializing in remote control solutions, studio design and construction, antenna protection systems and ratings metrics.
We pride ourselves on solving problems with an attention to detail that only comes from firsthand experience in the field. All of our products and services come from the point of view of the user, and are crafted with the passion of a lifelong broadcaster.
RW: I assume it’s mostly you doing the work. Do you contract out when you need others? Do you have employees?
Shulins: We were a virtual organization before working virtually was cool.
While I wear many hats, including having the technical vision and architecture for our offerings, I have a group of talented people who provide important skills like cloud-based software, hardware layout and fabrication, installations, marketing and so forth, all needed to bring world class products and services to market.
As a longtime licensed pilot and of course a career broadcast engineer I have a pretty unique skillset to fly our drones.
Even with the help I am typically the guy who answers the phone. I like being directly in touch with customers.
RW: Many readers will know you from your tenure at Greater Media and Burk, and your work and presentations at NAB conferences. What prompted you to become an entrepreneur?
Shulins: With the amazing support of longtime DOE Milford Smith of Greater Media, I was able to think outside the box, and provide exciting new technical solutions to problems that materialized due to the growing industry and technology.
Many of these solutions came in the form of digital playout systems, multi-site remote controls, and Part 101 studio-to-transmitter links before they were popular.
I decided that thinking in this way often led to solutions that others can benefit from too. My drive to share my passion for innovation presented the perfect opportunity to start this business.
RW: How do recent trends in how broadcast companies manage engineering affect the marketplace for the services you offer?
Shulins: For sure the market is changing. We are all balancing more projects at the same time, and resources are stretched thin.
During my long tenure at Greater Media, I was fortunate to have the time and flexibility to be able to creates a number of custom software systems that really helped improve the operating efficiency of the stations, and are the foundation of many of the products and services I offer today. That being said, many very capable broadcast engineers simply don’t have the time to be able to take on these types of projects themselves.
The solutions we offer can really help engineers manage their transmission sites, and provide a level of protections and monitoring that simplifies their operation. Our drone tower inspections using thermal imagery can help find issues quickly before they cause serious down time. We strive to provide tools that help engineers make the most of their time and help simplify with an approach that is based on my experience walking in their shoes for many years.
RW: How widely are drones being used now in broadcast inspection work?
Shulins: We see it growing more and more each day. I think the TV spectrum repack really put a lot of pressure on the tower climbing resources and brought focused, alternative ways to inspect towers beyond simply climbing them. While nothing can fully replace a physical inspection, sUAS inspections bring new technology and capabilities, allowing for inspections that can be made more frequently, less expensively, and in many cases with more detail than a physical inspection often finding problems not obvious from the ground.
RW: Give an example of a project you’re working on or recently did.
Shulins: I recently had the honor of working with some very talented engineers on a 10-station FM combiner system that had very complex switching and safety requirements. The type of software and hardware solutions I deploy happened to be a perfect fit for this operation. Features like automatic power reduction in the event of line pressure loss, and integrated mode switching using multiple motorized coaxial switches. It was a lot of fun to design and deploy.
I have also recently been able to pinpoint transmission line problems with the sUAS using thermal imagery when more conventional resources like spectrum analyzers and ground based TDRs were unable to localize the issue.
RW: What else should we know?
Shulins: My strength is my experience and my passion. The old cliche holds true that if you love what you do for work, then it really isn’t work. My entire career has been about innovation and technology, but the most important part is the people. I have had the good fortune of working with some of the very best in the world, and learning from all of them. I enjoy making people’s lives easier by providing exciting ideas and solutions to help them save money and compete effectively. I approach each day with excitement and can’t wait to see what opportunities are around the corner.