In Croatia in June, the World Broadcasting Unions’ Technical Committee supported the completion of standards associated with the European Broadcasting Union’s Technology Pyramid for Media Nodes.
“Broadcasters planning the move to new IP production facilities for television or radio should engage manufacturers with the Technology Pyramid for Media Nodes and ascertain their degree of compliance,” said Michael McEwen, head of the WBU Secretariat. “Further, the missing standards need to be completed as soon as possible so that broadcasters can make the important migration to IP with the required assurance.”
While the pyramid has clear relevance to the television industry, we share it because of the interest radio broadcasters have in the ongoing development of media IP. Radio World invited John C. Lee, P. Eng., chairman of the North American Broadcasters Association and World Broadcasting Union Technical Committees, to provide the background.Click to Enlarge
In order to achieve the speeds and bandwidths of next-generation television systems, broadcasters are migrating from HD-SDI to IP-based technologies. In December 2017, SMPTE published the ST-2110 set of standards addressing “Professional Media over Managed IP Networks” to support this migration. This set of standards addresses precision system timing (PTP), video essence, audio, ancillary data, etc., in an IP environment.
In December 2018, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) published the “Technology Pyramid for Media Nodes” (EBU Tech 3371). This pyramid includes all the necessary elements to design, build and operate a fully operational, interoperable, fully plug-and-play SMPTE ST-2110-based, live IP production facility. The EBU Pyramid includes all the needed protocols for timing and synchronization, configuration and monitoring, discovery and connection, media transport and security. It can be viewed as a broadcaster’s set of user requirements for a fully functional live IP production facility.
Along with SMPTE, other organizations have worked diligently to complete the various required protocols — namely the Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA) and the Joint Task Force on Networked Media (JT-NM). AMWA first produced Networked Media Open Specification (NMOS) IS-04 addressing “Discovery and Registration.” IS-04 systems are intended to enable “zero-configuration” deployments, reducing the necessity to spend time manually configuring equipment before connection to the network. AMWA’s IS-05 addresses “Device Connection Management” which permits a control device to tell a receiver the stream it is supposed to take at any given time, a function analogous to routing.
JT-NM was tasked with addressing how all these standards and protocols (ST-2110, IS-04, IS-05, PTP, etc.) could fit together to build a complete live IP production system. TR-1001-1, entitled “System Environment and Device Behaviors for SMPTE ST-2100 Devices in Engineered Networks — Networks, Registration and Connection Management,” is the JT-NM’s first such technical recommendation and it aims to simplify the installation and configuration of SMPTE ST 2110-based facilities.
As more and more broadcasters begin to implement IP technologies in their production facilities, it is critically important that vendors address and implement all published standards and specifications in their shipped products. This will greatly alleviate the implementation challenges broadcasters will face. To this end, in April of this year, the EBU published R152 entitled “Strategy for the Adoption of an NMOS Open Discovery and Connection Protocol” to accelerate market adoption of these protocols.
In short, the EBU “Technology Pyramid for Media Nodes” describes a comprehensive IP ecosystem of protocols that empowers the design, implementation and operation of fully-IP production facilities.
The World Broadcasting Unions is the coordinating body for broadcasting unions that represent broadcaster networks across the globe. It was established in 1992. The North American Broadcasters Association acts as secretariat for the WBU. The unions that belong are the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, the Arab States Broadcasting Union, the African Union of Broadcasting, the Caribbean Broadcasting Union, the European Broadcasting Union, the International Association of Broadcasting and the North American Broadcasters Association.
Gospell’s IBC2019 is focused on unveiling five new products that all include DRM technology.
During a presentation at stand 3.C67 called “The Gospell Receiver—End to End Solution for Your Needs,” hosted by the DRM Consortium, Gospell debuted the products that are designed to be applicable to both the consumer and industry markets.
The products are the GR-22 portable DRM/AM/FM receiver; GR-227 DRM car adapter; GR-301 DRM/AM/FM monitoring receiver; GR-310 audio broadcasting monitoring platform; and the GR-AT3 high performance active HF antenna.
Gospell also discussed developments of digital radio in China during the presentation.
IBC Stand: 3.C67
The post From IBC: Gospell Unveils New Products Featuring DRM appeared first on Radio World.
Making its debut at IBC, Axia Audio’s new Quasar console/control surface takes advantage of the flexibility afforded by IP networking and touchscreens.
Like many cutting edge consoles, Quasar relies upon an IP link, in this case Livewire, to an engine — acting more as a control surface. Much of this surface is occupied by an embedded central touchscreen. Physical faders flanking the screen are themselves surrounded by color OLEDs providing information and customizable functionality.
It will be available in sizes from 4 to 28 touch-sensitive, motorized faders per frame, with support for up to 64 faders in multiple linked frames. Frames can be flush-mounted.
Quasar can access and control inputs, hybrids, codecs and processing, etc., via Livewire, In addition it can be remote controlled via HTML5-compatible devices.
Quasar is powered by the all-new Quasar Engine, with 64 stereo channels, four-band fully parametric EQ, powerful dynamics processing and automixer on every channel, four program buses and eight auxiliary buses.
Axia says that Quasar was “designed based on extensive global customer feedback and ergonomic studies.”
IBC Stand: 8.D47
While in San Diego for a conference this summer, I visited a handful of college radio stations. My tour reports launched this week with a visit to Griffin Radio at Grossmont College. Stay tuned for more and peruse our archive of 159 station tours and counting.
In other news, College Radio Day is coming up in just a few weeks on October 4. Does your station have big plans?More College Radio News Station Profiles
- Radio Station Visit #159: Griffin Radio at Grossmont College (Radio Survivor)
- At 40, WMUC-FM Outlives the Staples of Pop Culture’s Past (The Diamondback)
- Decoding Student Fees at University of Alaska Anchorage (The Northern Light)
- Frome FM Live from Cheese Show (Frome Times)
- Elmhurst College Radio’s “Bands N Brews” (Daily Herald)
- College Radio Day is October 4 (College Radio Day)
- KBVR Podcast Honored by College Media Association (Gazette Times)
- KTUH Honored by Honolulu City Council for 50 Years (University of Hawai’i System News)
- Kevin, Galvin: Sports Nut, Living His Dream (Munster Express Online)
- DMU Grad Lands Role in National Radio (De Montfort University)
- Union JACK Introduces Live Breakfast Show with Adam English (RadioToday)
The post College Radio Watch: San Diego Tours and More News appeared first on Radio Survivor.
Wheatstone is showing its newly developed X5 FM audio processor front and center, which offers a slew of new technologies to help with dynamics control, pre-emphasis management and more.
These new technologies include the Limitless FM peak control that reconstructs audio after pre-emphasis has been applied for a cleaner and clearer high end. There’s also the X5’s Unified Processing technology that allows the processor to share critical information between all processing stages; it also features a redesigned limiter that works directly with the unit’s Limitless Clipper.
Additional features include the Live Logger to document X5 settings and activities; a redesigned bass processor and enhancement controls in the iAGC to safely equalize audio; an optional MPX SyncLink receiver that can work away from the studio and manage multiple HD and FM audio streams; and AES insert ports via a PPMport, allows users to insert ratings encoders into the processing system instead of placing it in front of the processor.
Previous features that have been updated in the new X5 model, like the Multipath Mitigation algorithm, composite processing system with selectable look ahead limiting or clipping, baseband192 composite AES connectivity and a full set of analysis displays.
IBC Stand: 8.C91
As part of its ongoing efforts to update its own application filing system, the Federal Communications Commission has transitioned a series of online applications from one database to another.
Starting Sept. 25, several applications will be transferred by the Media Bureau from the CDBS database to the LMS online electronic filing system. Seven application forms in total will be moved over, such as the construction permit application for commercial FM radio stations and the application requesting authority to construct/make changes to an FM translator station. See the complete list here.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to log into LMS using an FCC Registration Number (FRN) and associated FRN password because — unlike the CDBS system — all filings in LMS are tied to a facility’s FRN. Also keep in mind that if a facility had multiple FRNs in the old CDBS system, a licensee will be asked to formally select one and only one of those FRNs the very first time they log into LMS.
The CDBS database will also no longer be the home for those looking to create a pleading or leave a comment. Instead, comments concerning applications filed using LMS must be filed using the LMS system.
The Media Bureau plans to transition more applications from LMS on an ongoing basis, the FCC said.
For assistance, contact the commission at 877-480-3201 (Option 2) or submit a request online here.
If you were to name a piece of broadcast equipment that is neglected, forgotten or taken for granted, the transmitter remote control would probably be high on the list. Nevertheless, remote controls have their own history, technological breakthroughs, pioneers and industry leaders.The Moseley PBR-30 manual included this image detailing the lubrication points of stepping relays. Blended oil, watch oil and graphite oil were used at different points.
From the earliest days of broadcasting, many stations had a remote transmitter site, and FCC regulations of the day stipulated that an engineer with a First Class license be on duty at the transmitter during hours of operation. Their duties were to keep the transmitter log, taking required meter readings every 30 minutes, as well as maintaining the transmitter parameters within FCC regulations. That meant keeping power output within in a plus 5 and minus 10% window, carrier frequency +/- 20 cycles, and modulation between 85 and 100%. These are things we take for granted today, but they required continuous scrutiny in the early days of broadcasting.
Those early transmitters were prone to frequent breakdowns. Electronic components of the day were not that reliable, particularly when high voltage and RF were involved. An engineer had to be on site to make timely repairs.
With advances in technology, transmitters became more reliable. The FCC regulations remained in place, however, and the transmitter engineer’s unofficial duties often were extended to include bench repairs and maintenance of equipment, rewinding carts and dubbing agency spots.
Gradually, the driving forces for remote control of broadcast transmitters mounted, and change was in the air. But it didn’t happen overnight.
Harold Hallikainen, engineer for manufacturer QSC LLC, said the FCC’s rollout of remote control authorization spread slowly across the broadcast spectrum.
“In 1950, the FCC proposed authorizing remote control of Class D NCE FM stations, which had a power output of 10 watts or less. The foundations of subsequent rules can be seen in this first proposal,” he said. “Control circuit faults could not activate the transmitter, and any faults causing loss of on/off control would shut down the transmitter. No telemetry was specified. Since all comments were in favor, the rules were adopted.
“In 1952, the FCC discussed the possibility of remote control of non-directional AM stations and FM stations, both at or below 10 kW,” he continued. “The complicating factor of emergency frequency changes to comply with Conelrad requirements was also debated.”
In 1953, this authorization was granted. “Following a prolonged comment period, the commission authorized remote control of high-power and directional radio station in 1957. Television had to wait even longer. UHF stations were authorized in 1963, VHF in 1971.”
Radio broadcasting has long borrowed hardware and technology from the phone company. When engineers began to envision how a transmitter remote control would work, stepping relays were the logical choice. As the foundation of the rotary-dial telephone system, a stepping relay was basically a pulse-driven, multiple pole 1 x 10 switching matrix.
As manufacturers designed the first remote controls in the mid-1950s, basic elements began to emerge: a studio and transmitter unit, each with a four-pole stepping relay. One pole was for metering +, one for metering –, a third for raise functions and the fourth for lower functions.
Connection between the studio and transmitter units was by two phone lines, each with DC continuity. One was for metering, the other control. Both wires in the control pair worked against ground in a “simplex” arrangement, providing two independent control circuits. A DC voltage generated at the studio usually held in a relay at the transmitter side that controlled plate on/off, fulfilling the FCC requirement for fail safe.
All these systems had calibration pots on the transmitter side for each channel. When the engineer made the FCC-required weekly calibration of the remote control, he would call the studio and the operator would give the local meter readings. The engineer would adjust the calibration pots so the remote meters agreed with the transmitter readings. There was also a single calibration control on the remote unit, which was used to compensate for changes in loop resistance of the phone line, which varied as a function of temperature and humidity.
One of the pioneers in remote control systems was the Rust Industrial Co. Inc. of Manchester, N.H. Founded in 1954 by W.F. Rust Jr., it also introduced a strip chart recorder for transmitter logging in 1958 and its advanced AUTOLOG product line in 1964. The company moved to Cambridge, Mass., and later Everett, Mass.; it appears to have gone out of business in 1974.The Gates RDC-10AC is typical of first-generation remote controls, with 10 metering/control channels accessed by stepping relays in the studio and transmitter units. Two phone lines with DC continuity were required for control and metering.
Gates also got in the game early with its popular RDC-10AC, as well as the long-forgotten RCM-20, which worked with audio tones rather than DC voltages, an innovative approach in 1955.
A 10-channel remote control was adequate to control two transmitters, but when large directional arrays were involved, or later, television transmitters, something more robust was called for. Gates introduced the RDC-200, which added three more stepping relays to provide 39 channels, and used a rotary telephone dial to access them. Other manufacturers developed similar offerings.
With some refinements to the metering and control circuits, this stepping relay infrastructure would be integral to most remote control systems for the next 20 years. These relays were not without their issues, however. The combination of rapidly turning the selector switch and a high-capacity phone line could cause the studio and transmitter steppers to get out of sync, resulting in erroneous readings. Stepping relays also required regular maintenance for reliable operation. That included lubricating wiper contacts and moving parts.
Moseley Associates was one of the first companies to embrace digital techniques in the design of remote controls. Its PBR-15 and -30, introduced in 1970, eliminated the stepping relay from the studio end. In place of the traditional 10-position rotary switch for channel selection was a ganged 16-position (on the PRB-15) push button switch. Binary numbers were generated by the push button assembly. They were then encoded to the stepper drive generator.
Control functions were handled by a 920 Hz audio signal that was briefly interrupted to send pulses to the stepping relay at the transmitter. Different tones were added to the 920 Hz for raise and lower. Metering signals were generated by applying the sample signal to a voltage controlled oscillator.Introduced in 1975, the Moseley TRC-15 used digital techniques to eliminate stepping relays.
The successor to Moseley’s PBR-15 was the TRC-15, introduced in 1975. The PBR and TRC looked identical, but the TRC performed all control functions using frequency-shift keying technology. It also eliminated the troublesome stepping relay from the transmitter end. A control demodulator with SN74154 decoders and 7404 hex inverters connected to an individual relay for each of the 15 channels.
These Moseleys and other audio-based control systems had the advantage of needing only one phone line, resulting in an immediate reduction in operating costs. But there were far more important benefits to these new systems.
Once audible or subaudible tones were used for control and metering, several options became available for interconnecting the studio and transmitter units. In addition to traditional phone lines, there was the possibility of audible control over internal 110 kHz subcarrier generator and demodulator. Usually these signals rode from the studio to transmitter piggyback on the STL link. Subaudible metering returns in the 20–30 Hz range could be accomplished on FM stations via an SCA channel, which could also be used for background music or other programming. For AM operations, the subaudible metering signal was returned on the AM carrier. Modulation of the subaudible tones was set to around 5%.
Gradually, Moseley gave remote control circuitry a complete makeover, using TTL logic circuits, voltage controlled oscillators and other digital techniques. The one remaining weak link was the analog panel meter. Offset and gain drift were constant. Checking the zero set and CAL adjustments before taking a set of readings was mandatory. The analog meter precluded using the Moseley for any of the automated control and metering systems that were beginning to emerge. Also, the numerous scales on the meter could be confusing to non-technical operators.
In 1977, the Moseley TRC-15 and PBR-30 remote controls finally got digital panel meters. But they didn’t come from Moseley, rather from a small startup company just down the road from the remote control manufacturer.
Harold Hallikainen’s company, Hallikainen & Friends, developed the TEL 171 to meet this need. The genesis of the TEL 171 was really an FCC inspection at a station where Hallikainen was chief engineer.Hallikainen & Friends’ TEL 171 gave the Moseley TRC-15 remote controls a digital panel meter and enabled remote control of a transmitter via the DB-25 connector.
“The inspector dropped our Bauer 707 from 1 kW to 250 W, and asked the operator for the readings,” he said. “The operator read the wrong scale and gave the 1 kW readings, since everything doubled going from 250 W to 1 kW. This incident, the difficulty of calibration and misplaced decimal points were the things that inspired me to design the TEL 171.”
He adds, “It originally did not have a display at the transmitter site. KCBS said they’d buy one if we could make that happen. There was not enough power available to run an LED display off of the floating power supply. Around that time, the DF 411 chip was introduced. That made it easy to drive an LCD, so that was used for the transmitter display.” Hallikainen doesn’t recall exact numbers but estimates that a few thousand TEL 171s were sold.
The TEL 171 could be more than a digital display option. A DB-25 connector located below the display made available binary-coded channel select lines, raise-lower functions and the multiplexed BCD reading. Bill Bordeaux of Interstellar Engineering designed the ITO-177 (Intelligent Transmitter Operator). It plugged into a Commodore 64, and made the TRC-15A/TEL-171 controllable via BASIC programming.
Other manufacturers were bringing digital to their remote controls, and had a different approach than Moseley. TFT introduced the model 7601 in 1982. It used FSK modems on each end. The Harris 9100 fully embraced the then-new FCC ATS rules enabling unattended operations. The emphasis was shifted from remote control of transmitters to facilities control. The logging software included trend analysis, enabling users to locate problems areas and anticipate failures.
Throughout the 1970s, Moseley had been the innovator in remote control technology and had the high end of the remote market to itself. When Gentner came on the scene, it changed the game with its VRC-1000.
Utilizing the DTMF tones from a phone, along with speech synthesis, Gentner eliminated the studio side of the remote control. All that was needed was to dial the site, enter the password and follow the menu options. It also meant the transmitter could be controlled from anywhere. The issue of how to accomplish the fail safe was resolved with a silence sensor. The concept of telephone access was developed by John Leonard of Moseley, who later sold the design to Gentner.
Microprocessors arrived in the early 1970s, powering the first generation of personal computers. Soon, they were being embedded in various electronic devices.
In 1980, Moseley introduced the MRC-1, the first microprocessor-based remote control, using an 8-bit Motorola 6802. It comprised one control terminal and up to nine remote terminals. Each remote site had 32 channels available. Alarm parameters could be created for each channel, and an automatic logging option enabled regular printout of transmitter logs. A CRT option duplicated all the functions of the MRC-1 control panel, and could simultaneously display data from all 32 channels at one site.The Burk Technology ARC Plus Touch is an IP-based remote control that uses a combination of distributed I/O connections and an integrated SNMP manager. Up to 256 channels of metering, status and control are possible.
The coming of the internet was another game-changer for remote control technology. But as Peter Burk, president of Burk Technologies recalls, the rollout was rather protracted.
“In the early days of the internet, it could be difficult to get a connection to a remote transmitter site. Two solutions emerged, an Intraplex connection, or alternatives such as cellular modems, licensed and unlicensed wireless and satellite.”
Burk’s first internet-based remote control was the ARC-16, which was able to control multiple transmitter sites. Even more impressively at the time, the system enabled site-to-site control.
As with much of broadcast technology, the cutting edge for remote controls largely has shifted away from circuit cards in rack-mounted boxes to software running on PCs. Burk’s Auto Pilot enables multi-site, PC-based facilities management for Burk remote controls. The interface is customizable, and reports can be tailored. They can be printed automatically or emailed as a PDF to station personnel. AutoPilot includes network management functionality, bridging the gap between broadcast and IT by including SNMP and ping with traditional I/O.AutoPilot with Warp Engine provides a customized real-time view of the entire broadcast plant, monitoring up to hundreds of sites at the same time from one PC, using minimal bandwidth.
The remote control segment has always been specialized. Ask an equipment dealer today and they’ll tell you about options from companies like Burk, Davicom, WorldCast Systems, Broadcast Tools, Broadcast Devices, Sine Systems and CircuitWerkes.
So what’s in the future for broadcast remote controls? Right now, the greatest force driving innovation seems to be artificial intelligence, although Peter Burk prefers the term machine learning.
“Our goal is to look at the wealth of data that is now available at a transmitter site and deliver predictive analytics. For example, assume your transmission line has developed a small leak, but the nitrogen tanks are keeping up with it. If you check the pressure, it will be OK. If the sensors are tracking the flow, however, they will see an increase. In this case, we would want the software to give you an alert to check the system before the nitrogen runs out and you have an emergency.”
Another trend is to understand that the remote control is now a part of the Internet of Things; equipment users and designers plan accordingly.
“One of the challenges is that IoT generates an enormous amount of information, and we need to find a better way to reduce this data down to actionable information,” he said.
Burk adds that human access to the IoT raises some interesting challenges. “Alexa and other smart speaker technologies bring with them the promise of the voice-activated Internet, as well as the challenge of building seamless interfaces. At the same time, accessing IoT via the screen of mobile devices is exploding, and the need for a smooth UX or user experience is paramount.”
Tom Vernon is a longtime contributor to Radio World. Comment on this or any story. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Letter to the Editor” in the subject field.
North Korea has returned to digital radio broadcasting after an absence of nearly two years.
The latest Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) shortwave transmissions began mid August. The country has had periodic DRM broadcasts for many years.A screenshot showing North Korea using a Dream DRM transmitter modulator. Credit: Hans Johnson
It appears unclear at this time however whether the current series of transmissions will soon end or be the start of a regular service.
Thus far, all of the latest test transmissions have taken place on 3560 kHz, which is actually allocated for amateur radio use.
According to radio enthusiasts in the region, the signal has been clear and very audible.
In 2012, 2016, and 2017, the country’s international service, The Voice of Korea, trialed DRM.
Those tests involved a professional grade DRM modulator, which identified itself as being from the Engineering Research Center of Digital Audio and Video (ECDAV) at the Communications University of China in Beijing.
Pyongyang Broadcasting Station, a Korean-language service for Koreans living in China, Japan, and South Korea, has been carrying out these latest broadcasts, which appear to implement two DRM modulators.The image shows North Korea using a professional DRM modulator made by BBEF. Photo credit: Hans Johnson
Based on settings and parameters, the first is the open-source, software-based Dream DRM transmitter.
Developed at Germany’s Darmstadt University some 15 years ago, technicians continue to tweak various parameters, such as bandwidth, as they test and learn about the system.
In spite of its age, the Dream DRM transmitter is compatible with any DRM receiver. North Korea could easily put on multiple DRM transmitters using this free system.
North Korean operators also appear to be using a professional grade DRM modulator, which is most likely from private Chinese manufacturer Beijing Broadcasting Equipment Factory (BBEF). BBEF is best known for selling North Korea a number of shortwave transmitters ranging in power from 20 to 150 kW in 2011.
A professional DRM modulator is more capable than Dream. But North Korea probably cannot manufacturer its own and a single modulator can easily cost many thousands of dollars.
A lot has changed since North Korea last aired DRM broadcasts two years ago. Broadcasters in China and Guam have started regular DRM services and Russia is set to begin a service for Russia Far East.
With so many DRM programs coming on air in the region, North Korea may finally decide to remain on the air for good using the digital radio standard.