SBE 24 December 1996 Newsletter


Newsletter edited on Pagemaker 5.0 by: Mike Norton

Chapter 24 World Wide Web Site
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

Contents for this Newsletter

About this Newsletter
Meeting Announcement
Upcoming Meeting Schedule
November Meeting Minutes
EAS News
Computer Maintenance
Telecom Industry News
Amateur Radio News
SBE National News
Sustaining Members

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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:

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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December 17, 1996


Concourse Hotel

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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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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:
(1) Stoffel welcomed new member Kurt Schini of Louth Automation
(2) Steve Olson, of Tektronix, announced Tektronix’ desire to become a sustaining member
(3) Olson suggested that the four SBE chapters in Wisconsin consider a joint sustaining-membership category

The business meeting was adjourned at 6:59 pm.
The program featured:
(1) A slide presentation by Steve Olson, of Tektronix, Inc., about Tek’s “EditStar” video editing equipment.
(2) A demonstration of the EditStar equipment now installed at WKOW-TV.
(3) An impromptu inspection of WKOW-TV’s new Comark transmitter, currently being installed.

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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:

  • input #1 (mandated) SR station WERN

  • input #2 LP-1 Stations WIBA-FM/AM

  • input #3 (optional) WX Radio

  • input #4 (optional) 45.12 Mhz statewide EAS frequency

  • input #5 (optional) LP-2 WOLX-FM

  • input #6 (optional) (WTMJ/WRN satellite or a different local channel)
  • 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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    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.

    •Regular cleaning - As with all electronic equipment, one of the major causes of failure is heat build-up. Removing the cover and using a vacuum or compressed air should dislodge most dust and dirt accumulation. Most computers have self-enclosed power supplies, and this is one of the most important areas to clean. If you don't have an air compressor available, many electronics stores carry cans of compressed air that work well for this use.

    • Proper ventilation - As new equipment is added to a facility, it's environment should be taken into consideration. If it has top or bottom vents, or generates significant heat, leave an empty rack unit above and below it. Make sure that air vents and fans are unobstructed and have adequate air flow. When additional equipment is added to an area over time, check that room air handling capacity is adequate.

    • AC power regulation - To avoid damage due to voltage spikes, a surge suppressor should be utilized. For critical systems, an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) will keep systems operating through short duration commercial power outages. For computers with modems connected, surge suppressors should be placed on the telephone line to prevent transients from entering the computer through that path.

    • Hard drive defragmentation - Data fragmentation occurs when there is not enough contiguous space to hold an entire file. The file must be split into parts and written to available smaller areas. When the file is accessed, the operating system puts the multiple parts back together, but this increases the time to retrieve files from the drive. There are several programs which will optimize hard drives by moving file fragments to contiguous spaces, and the latest version of DOS includes a defrag program. By running a defrag program regularly, systems can avoid file access induced slow-down.

    • Data Backup - Although not usually thought of as maintenance, backing up the data on you computer should be done on a regular schedule. Think of it as cheap insurance that can make the difference between having a short amount of down time, or losing irreplaceable data.

    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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    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.


    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:

  • DoIT’s computer network. DoIT provides data and internet access to all university buildings, as well as to the state government and the state-wide WiscNET
  • network. This network includes a campus-wide fiber backbone connected to twisted-pair wiring within buildings.
  • Cable television signals provided by TCI. TCI delivers the signal over its fiber-optic network to DoIT’s offices on West Dayton Street. From that point, DoIT
  • distributes it over UW-owned fiber to 13 optical nodes. Coaxial cable from each node extends the signal to a total of 34 buildings.
  • Telephone service provided by Ameritech. Although twisted-pair telephone wiring existed before the ResNet project began, much of it was replaced as part of the project.

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


    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:

  • Under FCC cross-ownership rules which existed in 1994, a single entity could not simultaneously own a “cable television system” and also hold the license to a television broadcast station. The University’s Board of Regents is, of course, the licensee of a television broadcast station, WHA-TV. Therefore, under the cross-ownership rule, it would not have been permitted to own a cable television system.

  • The university campus is not a single parcel of land; it is comprised of several parcels separated by public streets owned by the City of Madison. Thus, if the University wished to interconnect the entire campus, it would have to install cables crossing city streets.

  • Under FCC rules, the definition of a “cable television system” includes any video distribution facility which uses “any public right-of-way.”(1) Under this definition, if the University installed a cable crossing a city street, the entire video distribution system would be deemed to be a “cable television system,” thereby triggering a violation of the cross-ownership rule. By extension of this argument, even a cable installed in a century-old steam tunnel passing under a city street would have triggered a violation.

  • To further complicate the situation, the City of Madison requires that the owner of any “broadband telecommunications network” which crosses city-owned streets must obtain a franchise from the city. Such a franchise would have imposed many regulatory requirements, including a requirement that the franchisee provide service to the entire city, not just the campus.(2)

  • 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 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:

    The successful bidder must provide video programming at 12 demarcation points.

    Demarcation Points

    Chadbourne Hall
    Davis Hall (Susan B. Davis House)
    Kronshage Hall
    Merit House
    Ogg Hall
    Rust/Schreiner Hall
    Witte Hall
    Union South
    Memorial Union
    Center for Health Sciences
    Lowell Hall
    Computer Science

    The video programming must include a minimum level of programming.

    Residential Programming

    WMTV-TV Madison
    WISC-TV Madison
    WKOW-TV Madison
    WMSN-TV Madison
    WHA-TV Madison
    WGN-TV Chicago
    WTBS-TV Atlanta
    WHA Cable Services
    Black Entertainment Television
    Cable News Network
    American Movie Classics
    USA Network (Optional)
    Arts and Entertainment
    Turner Network TV
    CNN Headline News
    Nickelodeon (Optional)
    The Nashville Network
    Music Television (MTV)
    Discovery Channel
    The Weather Channel

  • At each demarcation point, signal quality must meet certain technical specifications.

  • In residence halls, two outlets must be installed in each double room.

  • The total number of outlets to be connected was estimated at approximately 7466.

  • Bidders would be ranked according to the price for one month’s service to the estimated total number of outlets.

  • Payment would be based on a per-month per-outlet basis for the total number of outlets actually activated.

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

  • Franchised cable television operators (i.e., TCI).

  • Telephone companies (i.e., Ameritech), bidding pursuant to FCC “video dialtone” rules then in force. Under those rules, a telephone company could provide video distribution service, without a local municipal franchise, on a common-carrier basis, provided that it did not exercise editorial control over the programming. The actual programing would be provided by an unrelated third-party entity.

  • MMDS operators (i.e., SkyCable TV). MMDS (multichannel multipoint distribution service) operators utilize channels in the 2500-MHz band (including ITFS channels) to distribute video programming.

  • Unidentified independent companies who would propose to provide video programming over a dedicated microwave network constructed specifically for the project.

  • Unidentified independent companies who would operate as franchised cable television operators, and would agree to obtain franchises from the City of Madison.


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

    Bids Received

    BidderTotal BidPer Outlet
    Campus TeleVideo


  • Campus TeleVideo, Greenwich, Connecticut, represented by Ned Lamont, President. Campus TeleVideo is a systems integrator serving the educational communications market. Its administrative office, in Greenwich, Connecticut, provides communications consulting services to clients throughout the country. Its Engineering Division, based in Newark, Delaware, designs, installs, and maintains educational communications facilities at educational institutions nationwide. It has been particularly active in two areas: satellite communication systems and campus video distribution networks. (3)

  • Cyberstar, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, represented by Robert Schaeffer, Vice President. Cyberstar’s principal is Donald G. Jones, of Fond du Lac. Jones had previously been the principal of several other communications properties including KFIZ (AM), Fond du Lac; WLIP (FM), Kenosha; and Star Cablevision Group, a cable television operator. Starting in 1979 with the franchise for the City of Fond du Lac, Star grew rapidly throughout the `80s, primarily through acquisitions. By 1990, it owned 375 cable systems in Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, serving almost 230,000 basic subscribers.(4) In the early `90s, Jones began selling off his cable properties; most of them were acquired by Marcus Cable, which still owns them. (5)

  • TCI Cablevision of Wisconsin, Inc., Madison, Wisconsin, represented by Maury Lee, System Manager. TCI Cablevision of Wisconsin is a subsidiary of Tele-Communications, Inc., of Denver, Colorado, a publicly-held corporation and the world’s largest cable television operator. TCI proposed to extend service from its existing system in Madison. The Madison system was originally constructed in 1973-75, by Complete Channel TV, Inc., then owned by several investors including TCI, Mid-Continent Cable Systems (an affiliate of Mid-Continent Broadcasting, licensee of WTSO and WZEE), James Fitzgerald (at the time, owner of the Milwaukee Bucks and of Total TV, franchised cable television operator in City of Janesville), and Carley Capital Group. Over the years, TCI bought out the other investors, eventually acquiring 100% ownership in 1986. (6)

  • Neither Ameritech nor SkyCable submitted a bid.


    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.


    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).

    Coaxially Connected

    Adams Hall
    Barnard Hall
    Zoe Bayless House
    Bradley Hall
    Chadbourne Hall
    Chamberlain House
    Cole Hall
    Conover House
    Susan B. Davis House
    Elizabeth Waters Hall
    J.F. Friedrick Center
    Gilman House
    Gordon Commons
    Carson Gulley Commons
    Holt Commons
    Humphrey Hall
    Burr Jones House
    Jornes Hall
    Kronshage Hall
    Mack House
    Merit House
    Ogg Hall
    Rust/Schreiner Hall
    Sellery Hall
    Showerman House
    Schlichter Hall
    Sullivan Hall
    Swenson House
    Tripp Hall
    Turner House
    Witte Hall
    Memorial Union
    Union South
    Lowell Hall


    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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    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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    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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    Welcome to our new sustaining member:

    Thanks to all our
    Sustaining Members:

    Broadcast Communications
    CCA Electronics
    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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