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User Report: Burk Gets It Done for Emmis in New York

ARC Plus provides multifaceted info on multiple installations

User Reports are unpaid testimonials by users who have already purchased gear. A Radio World Product Evaluation, by contrast, is a freelance article by a paid reviewer who typically receives a demo loaner.

NEW YORK — In a busy broadcast facility with multiple transmitter sites and a complex studio plant, a highly capable remote control system is a must to keep watch on every system. Automated alarms and centralized monitoring save time and provide an opportunity to correct problems before they cause outages.

At Emmis Communications in New York City, we depend on a large Burk Technology ARC Plus installation to monitor 12 transmitters at four sites and to provide control and alerting for the multiple levels of redundancy required in the number one market in the United States.

Our system consists of six ARC Plus chassis, 10 Plus-X IIU input units, 13 Plus-X ICRU relay units, 10 PlusConnect interfaces and one Plus-X EM32 environmental monitor.

We continually upgrade the system and have a policy of adding as much control and telemetry as possible at all sites to minimize trips to the transmitter for minor issues. We have one computer running a centralized AutoPilot installation with a master status screen giving an overview of all sites, along with drill-down pages for transmitters and other subsystems. Alarm thresholds, status alarms and email notifications are configured to keep the engineering team apprised of issues without creating nuisance alarms. Macros running on the units may alter thresholds or mute alarms based on operational conditions.

All of our sites are on our company WAN, with critical sites having redundant IP paths via microwave radio and landline connectivity. New equipment purchased is evaluated for network capability and purchased with any cards or modules needed to allow SNMP capability.

Recently we upgraded the ARC Plus and AutoPilot installation to implement the new Warp Engine polling service along with the SNMP Plus module. Warp Engine allows us to select a subset of channels that will be reported at a drastically faster polling rate. We have used this to improve the update times on critical channels such as transmitter power outputs and AM antenna parameters so we can observe if there are transient events or instability that might not be visible at a slower polling rate.

We have become heavy users of SNMP for equipment management. As our traditional broadcast systems converge with enterprise information technology, we take advantage of the rich data provided by SNMP and reduce installation complexity by eliminating discrete logic and telemetry wiring.

An example of the usefulness of SNMP is in UPS systems. Every rack at our transmitter sites has a UPS and an auto-transfer PDU that serves to bypass the UPS in the event of failure. These devices provide a full-featured SNMP MIB that includes parameters such as line voltage, current and frequency on all inputs and outputs, battery charge, temperature and age, and fault alarms and warnings. I have seen more stations taken off the air by UPS failure than by any other device. With SNMP we can proactively monitor the status of this equipment, plan battery replacements, along with tracking the last date of testing without having to log into a web interface on each unit regularly.

The broadcast equipment industry has embraced SNMP on many newly-released products. Devices such as codecs, microwave STL radios, RF wattmeters and even the new Nielsen multichannel encoding monitor provide access via SNMP. A small amount of time spent working with the MIBs for these devices can eliminate a large amount of discrete logic wiring and hardware input/output devices, and provides information far more detailed than could be obtained in the past. The Burk SNMP Plus package allows the mapping of native Burk telemetry and status channels to SNMP OID values to permit the user to set thresholds and alarms based on that value as well as to map Burk command channels to SNMP SET commands. Burk still offers the PlusConnect line to provide easily-configured connectivity to SNMP-enabled transmitters and other major devices, but the new SNMP Plus option opens up the world of SNMP management to any device.

We are pleased with the Burk Technology system and the company’s commitment to routinely improve the product and have found it to be the ideal solution for our control and monitoring needs.

For information, contact Matt Leland at Burk Technology in Massachusetts at (978) 486-0086 or visit