Tieline Genie STL Unites Communities

Solid connections keep signals alive in remote North Dakota reservations
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SOLEN, N.D. — During my U.S. military service I trained and worked extensively in RF and then supplemented that with IT education. I established Lookingelk Broadcast Engineering, a contract engineering firm, in 1990.

These days I contract independent RF engineering services to several rural and remote Native American Indian FM radio stations in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. My primary role is to upgrade and transition aging infrastructure into IP technologies. These states each have Indian reservations that range in size from 0.5 to 2 million acres and target audiences of approximately 5,000 to 40,000 listeners respectively.

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I recently upgraded the aging studio-to-transmitter link for KLND(FM) in Little Eagle, S.D., mainly because of the deteriorating state of the infrastructure and wiring at the FM transmitter facility. In particular, the weather had taken its toll on the physical wires between the studio and FM transmitter site.

I spoke to Tieline America’s representative, John Lackness, and he introduced me to the Genie STL codecs. These seemed fit for purpose and he informed me that Tieline offered a trial period during which I could install a pair of codecs at our station, to demonstrate how they performed.

John shipped two Genie STL units, which we installed, configured and tested between the studio and transmitter sites. I found the front panel controls allow for easy setup and/or access while on-air, and a Web-GUI browser interface is available for control and configuration via a LAN.

The codecs were used to establish a 128 kpbs stereo STL link using Tieline’s MusicPlus algorithm. John also strongly suggested and made arrangements to ship a Ubiquiti airMax fixed wireless STL setup. To avoid any cabling I installed the Ubiquiti airMax M series links. These act as a carrier between the studio and transmitter sites with the Genie codecs interfacing via the Ubiquiti PoE units. The codec output at the transmitter is fed into an Orban Optimod audio processor and this is then fed into a 100 kW transmitter.

Testing proved successful and we subsequently purchased the two Genie STL units that had been sent to us. They have performed flawlessly over many months and the best part about broadcasting over IP is the sound quality; it’s always noise-free.

Reliability and robustness of the equipment are paramount because I face numerous challenges on a daily basis. Broadcast facilities are often in extremely remote locations and utility service troubles can wreak havoc at times, e.g. electric power, telecommunications and tech support may be delayed for hours if not days. At this site a UPS battery backup is installed, so only major electrical power- outages have contributed to rare broadcast interruptions.

Everyone is happy with the Tieline Genie STL codecs and we still do POTS remotes from cultural and sporting events using Tieline Commander G3 codecs. In fact our listeners describe how we stand out from other regional stations because of our remote broadcast quality. “It’s like being in the crowd” onsite. That says it all.

I have also recently designed a new FM radio facility incorporating Wheatstone products for each studio. The on-air control room has a Wheatstone LX-24 control surface and associated WheatNet-IP Blades. A Tieline Merlin Plus will be used for remote broadcasts from up to six nodes and was selected as it is “WheatNet-ready” out of the box.

For information, contact Tieline USA in Indiana at (317) 845-8000 or visit www.tieline.com.

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