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SNMP Is a Helpful Diagnostic Tool

Also, here’s a new use for that old dish hardware on the roof

Fig. 1: A satellite dish mount is repurposed to hold a yagi antenna. After a recent SBE meeting, discussion turned to setting up an SNMP graphing system.

SNMP is Simple Network Management Protocol; it collects information from network devices such as printers, switches and servers that are operating on an Internet protocol network.

With so much of the newer broadcast equipment offering SNMP capability, this is a useful skill for a broadcast engineer. The historical display and trending of parameters about critical systems — such as nearly everything you’d want to know about Nautel transmitters — can be invaluable. Furthermore, if you set up graphs for everything on a common server, you can look at the whole environment from any browser.

Consider SNMP a diagnostic tool that gives you a bird’s eye view of your facility in a hurry. A variety of limited-use and free SNMP software is available.

Just Google “free SNMP graphing tool.” You’ll find both Windows and Linux versions, as well as educational white papers to get you started.

One of the best things about writing the Workbench column is learning how engineers repurpose broadcast gear.

Jim Davies is with WSUI(AM) and KSUI(FM) in Iowa City, Iowa. When he was doing contract work for Grinnell College, he had to look for an alternative way to mount a Scala CL7 yagi antenna because the college was not open to installing a roof-penetrating mount.

Jim discovered an old nonpenetrating Associated Press dish mount. AP abandoned these a few years ago, and this one, shown in Fig. 1, was on the roof of another station Jim services. Taking it down was a breeze, he says. Just toss the cement blocks off of the roof and onto the grass.

Installing it on the new building meant Jim had to lug the eight blocks up a narrow roof-access ladder. The work wasn’t too bad because, for once, this spring the day was a bit warm. The mount has a 2-3/8-inch diameter pipe sticking up, which is exactly what the antenna needed for mounting. Even though it’s a bit low — only 2 feet off the top of the roof — the mount worked just fine for this application.

Fig. 2: The m!ka copy stand is made by Yellowtec. Thanks, Jim, for sharing the idea.

These unused dishes have other uses too. We’ve shared previously that one engineer used the dish for miking ball games. The circular aluminum mount makes a great handhold to aim the dish toward the action.

Do you own a m!ka copy stand? It’s a versatile script holder. The folks at Yellowtec want to make sure you get long life from the copy stand, so they’ve offered a few hints for the proper care of acrylic glass.

First, the “dos.” Do use cleaner designed for synthetic material or lukewarm water with a squirt of dishwashing detergent for stubborn stains. Be sure to use a clean, soft 100 percent cotton cloth.

As for “don’ts,” don’t use abrasive detergents when cleaning the copy stand. Don’t use alcoholic cleaners, household towels or similar paper products. Don’t dry-wipe the copy stand, as dust particles may cause scratches. Finally, avoid exposing your m!ka copy stand to extreme temperature fluctuation.

If you don’t have a m!ka copy stand, you can find out more by visiting

I was at Lowes the other day and noticed that the prices of LED light bulbs are coming down. These bulbs will not only save energy but offer long life — perfect for fixtures at transmitter sites or other locations where the access to bulbs are difficult. Start with a few and see how they work for you.

Contribute to Workbench. You’ll help your fellow engineers, and qualify for SBE recertification credit. Send Workbench tips to [email protected]. Fax to (603) 472-4944.

Author John Bisset has spent 44 years in the broadcasting industry and is still learning. He handles West Coast sales for the Telos Alliance. He is SBE certified and is a past recipient of the SBE’s Educator of the Year Award.