CHAPTER 24 DECEMBER 1996 NEWSLETTER


Newsletter edited on Pagemaker 5.0 by: Mike Norton

Chapter 24 World Wide Web Site http://www.broadcast.net/~sbe24
Leonard Charles is the editor for the Electronic Version of this Newsletter uploaded monthly onto SBE Chapter 24's web page.
Thanks to Chris Cain for his work on the Chapter 24 WWW page and electronic newsletter

© 1996 by SBE Chapter 24. Views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the official positions of the Society, its officers, or its members. SBE Chapter 24 regrets, but is not liable for, any omissions or errors. The Chapter 24 Newsletter is published twelve times per year. Other SBE Chapters are permitted to use excerpts if attributed to the original author, sources, and SBE Chapter 24.

Contributors this month:
Mike Norton
Paul Stoffel
Tom Weeden
Neal McLain



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NEWSLETTER EDITOR'S STATS


The Chapter 24 Newsletter is published monthly by Chapter 24 of the Society of Broadcast Engineers; Madison, Wisconsin. Submissions of interest to the broadcast technical community are welcome. You can make your submissions by e-mail to: Mike_Norton@went.pbs.org

Information and/or articles are also accepted by US Mail. Please address them to:

SBE Chapter 24 Newsletter Editor
46 Trillium Court
Madison, WI 53719-2308

Please submit text file on DOS or Windows 3.5" floppy diskette if possible.


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MEETING ANNOUNCEMENT

December 17, 1996

CHAPTER 24 HOLIDAY DINNER PARTY

Concourse Hotel


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UPCOMING MEETINGS

Tentative Program Subjects

Wed, Jan 22, 1997
Part 1 - Digital Tape Options

Thu, Feb 20, 1997
Part 2 - Interfacing To Broadcast

Tue, Mar 18, 1997
Radio Automation

Wed, Apr 16, 1997
Elections and NAB Review

Thu, May 22, 1997
ATM Technology

Tue, Jun 17, 1997
Facility Tour - TBA

Sat, Jul 26, 1997
Annual Family Picnic


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NOVEMBER BUSINESS MEETING MINUTES

Submitted by Neal McLain, Secretary

Chapter 24 of the Society of Broadcast Engineers met on Wednesday, November 20, 1996, at the J.T. Whitney’s Restaurant in Madison. There were 19 persons in attendance, 14 of whom were certified. The meeting was chaired by Chapter 24 Chairman Paul Stoffel.

Call to order: approximately 6:45 pm. The minutes of the October meeting were approved as published in the November Newsletter.

Treasurer’s Report (reported by Paul Stoffel in Stan Scharch’s absence): the chapter balance is in the black.

Newsletter Editor’s Report (reported by Mike Norton): The deadline for the December Newsletter is midnight 11/29/96; the folding party is 5:30 pm 12/4/96 at WKOW-TV.

Sustaining Membership Report (reported by Paul Stoffel in Fred Sperry’s absence): One renewal has been received, from Panasonic Broadcast, and one new sustaining membership has been received, from Niall Enterprises.
[Secretary’s Note: later in the meeting, one additional sustaining membership was received, from Tektronix, Inc.]

Frequency Coordination Report (reported by Tom Smith): No activity.

Certification and Education (reported by Jim Hermanson): Two members sat for examinations during the recent examination period. There is one recertification pending.

Programming Committee (reported by Denise Maney): The December meeting, a holiday party, will take place on the 17th at the Concourse Hotel. Interested members are urged to advise Denise as soon as possible. Chairman Stoffel thanked Denise for her work in organizing the party

National Liaison Report (reported by Leonard Charles and Paul Stoffel): (1) Another EAS-equipment manufacturer has received FCC type acceptance: Burk Technology, 800-255-8090. (2) The American Society of Civil Engineers is conducting a survey of tower owners; for SBE members, this is a significant survey, and all members involved with tower work are urged to participate.

Old Business: Stoffel thanked members who helped make the October meeting a success.

New Business:

The business meeting was adjourned at 6:59 pm.
The program featured:


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EAS NEWS

Wisconsin State Emergency Communications Committee chair Gary Timm is making available the initial release of the Wisconsin State EAS Plan. This preliminary verson will allow Wisconsin stations to program their new EAS equipment so as to be compliant with the rules by the December 31 deadline. The State Plan includes Local Area boundaries, a list of Local Area Chairs and a list of monitoring assignments, which show the two mandated inputs, as well as four optional inputs for each county. If you haven't yet received a copy, contact Gary at 414-967-5232.

As an example, the State Plan's monitoring assignments for Dane, Rock, Green, Columbia and Sauk counties' Participanting, Non-Participating and Cable TV operators are:

A statewide Local EAS frequency of 45.12 mHz has been established. Broadcasters are encouraged to purchase a low-band receiver for this frequency, or whatever other channel your county will be sending its EAS alerts on.

On November 14, the State Emergency Response Board approved 80% state funding in 1997 for counties to purchase both the EAS Encoder/Decoder and the associated low-band two-way radio. An information packet has been sent to county sheriffs and emergency management directors.

NOAA officals agreed to changes in their policies to allow Weather Radios to particiapte more fully in the EAS at a local level by using the EAS Test codes for their test. Begin including NOAA Weather Radio in your Local EAS planning. For the Madison area, the NOAA contact is Rusty Kapela from the Sulivan office.

(Compiled by Paul Stoffel with information from the EAS State Plan and WI SECC Chair Gary Timm


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COMPUTER PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE BASICS

By Mike Norton

Most broadcast facilities have several personal computers in use for critical daily operations. Whether these computers are used for scheduling music, producing traffic/commercial logs, operating critical production systems, or directly controlling on-air automation, any down-time could cause problems. Although computer failures can not be completely avoided, some simple preventative maintenance activities can delay many problems.

None of the suggestions mentioned are difficult, and regular computer maintenance need not be brain surgery. Make a point to take time and regularly complete some of these basic tasks. Scheduled maintenance of computer equipment can help systems run longer, and prevent many headaches.


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TELECOM INDUSTRY NEWS

By Neal McLain

PSC SPLITS 414

Just before this edition of the Newsletter went to press, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission voted to split Area Code 414. The final split boundary follows the line recommended by the PSC staff. The new code hasn’t been announced yet.

Few other details were available at press time. We’ll have a full report next month.

DoIT and TCI PROVIDE CABLE TELEVISION SERVICE ON UW-MADISON CAMPUS

After a two-year bidding and construction process, the University’s Division of Information Technology (DoIT), assisted by several other University departments, has completed the construction of a video, voice, and data network called “ResNet.” ResNet consists of three physical networks, each providing access to a different service:

This article relates the story of how TCI came to be the supplier of cable television signals.

THE PROJECT’S BEGINNINGS

The project began in 1994 when the Division of Housing began investigating the possibility of providing cable television service to the residence halls. At the time, TCI was already providing service to a number of campus buildings under agreements negotiated back in the `70s and `80s. On the central campus, TCI’s service was available in the floor lounges (but not student rooms) in Barnard, Chadbourne, Ogg, Sellery, and Witte Halls. At Eagle Heights, service was available to any resident who wished to sign up as a direct TCI subscriber.

Housing wished to provide cable television service to all student rooms, not just the lounges, and it wished to include all residential buildings on campus, not just those on the central campus. Moreover, other University units, such as the unions and Extension, wished to obtain service for their residential facilities. However, the university administration wanted to own and operate the system itself, rather than extending the current agreements with TCI.

But the University faced a legal dilemma:

In an attempt to get past this dilemma, the University decided to seek outside help. Specifically, it sought a party which would construct a “television distribution network” to provide programming to a number of “demarcation points” on campus. Each demarcation point was located within one parcel of land, called a “cluster.” The points were selected so that the University would be able extend the signal throughout the campus without having to cross any city street.

THE BIDDING PROCESS

The University’s Purchasing Services Department released a Request for Bid to potential bidders on September 27, 1994. During the following month, four amendments were issued.

The Request for Bid, as amended, specified:

This decision to solicit bids was based on the expectation that bids would be received from the following types of entities:

THE BIDDERS

Bids were opened at a public meeting on November 1, 1994. Bids were received from three firms. The bidders were:

CONSTRUCTION BEGINS

Cyberstar was the apparent low bidder. After extensive negotiations, the University awarded a contract to Cyberstar.

During the negotiating process, Cyberstar revealed its intention to obtain a franchise from the City of Madison, and, ultimately, to construct a second cable television system throughout the city to operate in competition with TCI.

After receiving the contract, Cyberstar began constructing the system it had promised. It built a headend at the Computer Science and Statistics Center, and constructed a fiber-optic network to provide signal to the designated demarcation points.

Meanwhile, DoIt proceeded to install the necessary wiring within each cluster. A contract valued at approximately $3.5 million was awarded to Staff Electric Co., Inc., of Monona, for the installation of conduit and coaxial cable. In addition to coaxial cable, this contract also included the telephone and computer network wiring which would eventually become part of ResNet.

Construction proceeded throughout 1995 and 1996. Bradley Hall was first to receive service, in September 1995. The project was completed one year later, in September 1996, when Barnard, Chadbourne, and Sellery Halls were connected.

CYBERSTAR BACKS OUT

Once its contract with the University was finalized, Cyberstar approached the City of Madison to discuss the possibility of obtaining a franchise from the City. In spite of published reports to the contrary, Cyberstar apparently sought a “partial franchise” which would allow it to provide signals to the University, but which would not require it to extend service throughout the city.

Cyberstar was not able to obtain a partial franchise from the City. In March, 1996, Cyberstar notified the University that it wished to renegotiate its agreement: if the University would release it from its contract, Cyberstar would donate to the University the headend and the fiber network it had constructed.

Meanwhile, in February, 1996, the U.S. Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996. In the opinion of the University’s Legal Affairs office, this act removed the cross-ownership rule which originally prevented the University from owning video-distribution facilities on public right-of-way. As David Devereaux-Weber, a DoIT engineer, explains it, “In our collective opinion, that cleared the way for the University to own the cables which cross rights of way.”

At that point, the University faced two options: it could either operate the system it had inherited from Cyberstar, or it could reopen negotiations with the original bidders. Devereaux-Weber explains the decision: “Our next action was to compare the costs of purchasing satellite programming directly from cable television program providers, or through program distributors, or through cable television companies. We also approached the other bidders in the 10/25/94 Request for Bid. TCI expressed interest in pursuing an agreement based on their 10/25/94 bid. TCI’s costs were lower than any other options before us, so we pursued an agreement with them. UW Legal Affairs drafted new contract language, and an agreement was reached.”

Under this agreement, TCI delivers programming to a single point on campus: DoIT’s offices in the Computer Science and Statistics Center at 1210 on West Dayton Street. From that point, DoIT distributes it over the former Cyberstar fiber network (now owned by the University) to 13 optical nodes. Coaxial cable from each node extends the signal to a total of 34 buildings (see Figure 4).

WHY THREE NETWORKS?

This fiber/coaxial network carries only video programming from TCI. In spite of the fact that fiber/coax networks are capable of carrying data signals, a separate twisted-pair network was installed for the ResNet computer network. Why wasn’t the computer network integrated into the fiber/coax network?

Devereaux-Weber explains the decision this way: “Current engineering practice in the cable television industry is to keep node size between 250 and 2,000 because spectrum on the reverse portion of cable systems (5 to 30 or 40 MHz), which is necessary to provide telephone and Internet service, is limited. While the Ogg node serves more than 2,000 outlets, our studies of high density buildings (like our student housing buildings) show that it is more cost-effective to provide telephone and Internet service over dedicated, special purpose cable and electronic systems than over a cable television system.”

[Special thanks to David Devereaux-Weber (UW Division of Information Technology) and Tom Smith (WHA-TV) for information used in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individuals involved, and do not necessarily reflect the positions of their respective employers.]

----------------

(1) Code of Federal Regulations, 47 CFR 76.5(a).

(2) Madison General Ordinances, Section 36.06(1).

(3) Disclaimer: A business relationship exists between Communication Technologies, Inc. (my employer) and Campus TeleVideo. Campus TeleVideo has purchased several antenna control systems manufactured by CTI.

(4) TV & Cable Factbook. Washington, DC: Television Digest, Inc., 1990.

(5) In addition to his communications interests, Jones is also active on the political scene on behalf of the Republican Party. According to The New Yorker, he was Wisconsin’s only member of George Bush’s Team 100: a person who had, as an individual, contributed $100,000 to the Republican National Committee (“Newt’s Captain in Cyberspace,” The New Yorker, August 7, 1995, pp. 25-26).

(6) Disclaimer: I was employed by Complete Channel TV, Inc. from 1976 to 1979 and from 1983 to 1986.


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AMATEUR RADIO NEWS

By Tom Weeden, WJ9H

• In its final hours before adjournment, the 104th Congress has directed the FCC to put 30 MHz of microwave spectrum up for competitive auction. The directive was part of a massive appropriations act which was signed into law by President Clinton. The frequencies of 2305-2320 and 2345-2360 MHz will be reallocated to so-called “wireless services.” Amateur radio is currently allocated 5 MHz of the 30 about to be reallocated, at 2305-2310 MHz. Impact on amateur radio operations is not known yet. The spectrum is to be put up for bid no later than next April.

• Amateur radio’s most ambitious satellite project to date, “Phase 3D,” has been tentatively scheduled for launch for mid-April 1997. The satellite will feature repeaters and linear translators from 21 MHz up to the microwave bands. It will also include onboard cameras and digital modems for experimentation. Phase 3D is a project of AMSAT, a non-profit corporation, which has budgeted about $4.5 million toward the construction and launch of the satellite. It will piggyback on an Ariane 502 rocket with other payloads.

(Excerpts from December 1996 “QST” Magazine)


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SBE NATIONAL NEWS

From John L. Poray, SBE Executive Director

The Society of Broadcast Engineers will once again be the co-presenter of the NAB Engineering Conference at the NAB Spring Convention. Held in Las Vegas, the conference will be April 6-10, with exhibits opening on Monday, April 7.

The newest SBE chapter is also the first SBE chapter in Wyoming. Chapter 129 has thirteen members and has elected their officers.

Registration begins January 1 for the Leader Skills Course for Broadcast Engineers, presented by SBE. The course will be conducted in Indianapolis, Indiana, June 9-13, 1997.

The SBE Executive Committee will meet in Phoenix on Saturday, January 4, 1997. Members are invited to attend and/or contribute their thoughts and ideas to the meeting.


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CHAPTER 24 SUSTAINING MEMBERS

Welcome to our new sustaining member:
Tektronix

Thanks to all our
Sustaining Members:

Broadcast Communications
CCA Electronics
CTI
Clark Wire and Cable
Comark Communications
Fuji Film I&I
Harris Corporation
Maney Logic
Niall Enterprises
Norlight Telecommunications
Panasonic Broadcast
Richardson Electronics
Roscor Wisconsin
Scharch Electronics
Sony Broadcast
Skyline Communications
Teleport Minnesota
Video Images
WISC-TV 3
WKOW-TV 27
WMSN-TV 47
WMTV-TV 15


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