Happy Lunar New Year!

February 11, 2021 Leave a comment

Wishing those a happy and prosperous new year. This is the Year of the OX!!!

(Doh! I put goat by mistake in original post.)

Let’s hope the attack on Covid-19 continues to progress and we can get things back to semi-normal sooner than later.

Cheers!

Categories: Uncategorized

HD Radio = Headache

January 27, 2021 Leave a comment

What is up with HD Radio? Why is it so complex when normal networking protocols have been in place for years? Ever asked yourself these questions? The end user does care how it is received, but if you have to install and configure such a beast you could go bald pulling your hair out. (Assuming you started with hair.)

Since the inception, we have managed to run the E2X, Exporter to Exgine, stream over our MPLS network. We have all the equipment at the studio end for simplicity. More on this in a bit. My 3 stations were humming along without issue until it was time to replace old, aging, or even failed equipment. Now all of a sudden where this stuff is located becomes an issue.

Manufacturers tend to do things differently. This is to be expected. Each radio facility is expected to do things differently. Again, expected. My issue is that those who design and provide this stuff think that radio facilities do everything the same. Guess what, folks. Each facility is build with some basics “standard”, but customized to fit the need of the format, personality, and mentality of those that build it. For my installation I look toward simplicity. I like to keep things simple, so why cannot I install my Exporter or now combo box at my studio location? I’ve done so in the past, but now your new box won’t work this way? Does it not make more sense to install this at the studio especially if it is a combination Importer & Exporter?

Let’s evaluate this. If a combination unit is installed at the studio, then I can have my metadata, my other HD channel audio, and my control locally with a SINGLE data stream to the transmitter site. If this unit is installed at the transmitter site, then I must send a data stream with metadata AND multiple audio streams to the transmitter site. Bandwidth becomes a real issue, especially since we, here, are a full IP based STL distribution system. It is just more convenient and efficient if this is located locally at the studio end. All I need to send to the transmitter is a single data stream for HD and my main audio.

Right now Nautel makes this happen just fine even with their new HDMC+. As I write I have discovered that Gates requires the E2X to be on its own subnet. Nautel I just drop the data on the network at it goes. To make the Gates work on one station an extra box is required, called the IPLink. This encapsulates the E2X on the pipe that connects to the site. Why do I need another box? Save money they say. How? You have to buy another box or redesign your whole audio chain. Seems crazy.

Whatever happened to standard networking protocols? Why does HD data have to be so special? How different does it have to really be? We can squeeze Zoom meetings with video and audio on fairly conservative network, but we cannot send a simple, supposedly, UDP data stream from point A to point B on a different subnet? A private one at that?

If we did everything the same, then we may as well have automatons do our work. Thanks radio for spending so much time eliminating the people that make the medium unique.

Cheers!

Categories: Equipment Tags: ,

WideOrbit and Dante

January 14, 2021 Leave a comment

This year started off well. Learning something new everyday and applying what has already been packed away in my little brain cell.
Though not 100% resolved, I discovered an interesting thing with WideOrbit in the last couple weeks. After a certain version of their Audio Server, you must specify within WO the sample rate of your recordings, explicitly. I found this out after another staff updated the audio server on a workstation that has been acting a bit odd. After this installation, the workstation would not record at all. Only thing that changed was the audio server. Now what?

Scouring the logs, from audio server to automation and back there was a missing piece of the puzzle. Tech support was a bit baffled by this, too. Finally a key phrase popped up in the automation log; an error. Sample rate error. Not very specific, but interesting enough to test. Dante is native 48kHz sample, and our house/facility is clocked at 48k. We do background recordings throughout the morning in WO using workflows. So, we decided to specify in the workflow the sample rate. It worked. We, this is me and WO support, decided to do some other quick record tests to put it through its paces. Each worked when the sample rate was explicitly set to 48k.

We took the test further and we got on a workstation with an older version of the audio server. No issues recording by touching nothing. The tech was floored. A new “feature”. Definitely a difference in the newer audio server. Needless to say, all workflows were updated and recordings have been just fine.

A radio station really does not need to clock at 48k, and 44.1k is pretty much standard. When the facilities were built, I made the decision to change the system to 48k to adapt to Dante AoIP. Dante runs at 48k by default. One main reason for this is to be compatible with AES67. If you wish to interface with an AES67 device, you must run 48k. Another item of note when running Dante is you cannot change the sample rate of a device to 44.1k and have it communicate with other Dante devices set at 48k. All Dante devices which need to communicate on the network must have the same rate. I confirmed this with Audinate support.

Make sure if you plan to install an AoIP network using Dante that you choose your house sample rate carefully. I think flexibility, so 48k was the obvious choice. This time it caught us, but at least it was an easy fix. Consider this when working with other AoIP solutions. If you wish to be compatible with AES67 in its basic form, your sample rate will need to be 48k.

Cheers!

Update: 27-01-2021.

So we come to discover that the version of WO we run is not fully compatible with the “new audio server” (NAS). Had to drop back and punt. We reinstalled the legacy audio server for this workstation. I mention to the tech that I should test a more recent NAS install on another workstation and see if I can break it. Strongly suggested I should let it be. Nice.

Categories: Equipment

Happy New Year!

December 31, 2020 Leave a comment

Greetings my fellow techies. I hope each and everyone is safe and healthy. Let’s hope 2021 brings us closer to normalcy as we start getting vaccinated.

Cheers!

Categories: Equipment

Happy Friday

December 4, 2020 Leave a comment

Awaiting HVAC tech. How about a picture?

Categories: Equipment

Quick Check In

December 3, 2020 Leave a comment

Why we need HVAC all year round? This would be the sunset tax. Tomorrow I meet the tech for an ailing HVAC unit.

Categories: Equipment

Logs

August 10, 2020 2 comments

Now that is a boring title, eh? Why logs? Why write about logs? No, there will be no examples of logs, but if you do any sort of troubleshooting it is good to read them logs. I know many of us do not really read these things to deeply, but over the years I have solved many issues just by reading the logs.

Today is a good example of the “win” when it comes to logs. The traffic department had shown discrepancies and missed spots during a portion of the day. Everyone gets up in arms when spots are missed. I also notice that fingers get pointed. Long story short, I first checked the logs to verify the report of a system restart. Found that. The next confusion was why did the spots not run. Using the logs I verified contact closures being recorded proving the system was working just fine. Back to the logs and I found that someone left the system in manual mode. No more finger pointing now, eh?

This sound simple, but it can be tedious work. As you know details are always lacking when people report a problem. Doing the detective work means really reading and finding the clues within the logs. Today was WideOrbit. If you ever looked at their radio automation log you know how much detail (and fluff) is in there. With a little patience and time you learn what is important to you and what is not. From there you use what you find to get to the solution, and in my case it was not technical issue. Someone decided to restart the system and forgot to change to automatic mode.

I comb through many different logs based on what I am working on. SAS, Dante, WideOrbit, NexGen, Nautel, and the list goes on. All have logs, and many are very useful. Granted some are not as useful as others, but for the most part they are good to getting the job done. Take the time to read the logs when you troubleshoot. It may take time to decipher, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. After which you can then tell the manufacturer they have an issue, provide a copy of the log as supporting evidence, and see how fast they respond to your support request.

Cheers!

Remote Remote Remote

April 29, 2020 Comments off

All we hear about is remote this, remote that. This Covid-19 pandemic has really changed the way we look at life and how we adapt. Humans adapt. That is what we do, just like a virus. So, as I know I should be working on my next Audinate Dante post that I keep promising, I’ve been busy at work adapting. Remote control of…Everything!

We all in the broadcast world is working on some sort of remote access to everything. Our facility has been built with remote access in mind, at least for troubleshooting. I’ve had IP control of my transmitter sites for years using Burk Technology equipment. I’ve worked with Tieline Technology with codecs and using their new Cloud Codec Controller giving me remote access to codecs, like the Via, for support and fine tuning during live broadcasts. Now working with corporate IT and VPN access, we have proven that we can run a radio station with no one in the studio.

Today I put the pieces together and today was remotely connected to one of our stations through a VPN connection. I had full access and control of the automation playback workstation, WideOribit. I installed a remote console application on the workstation giving me full control of my SAS Rubicon console which includes a button panel to control the profanity delay. With another application, I showed I can control, answer, and put on air phone calls, including conferencing multiple calls on our AVT studio phone system. All this with codec control and mix minus. With these tools, a talent can run their show as if they were in the studio.

Innovation and working with awesome manufacturers like SAS has made this possible. Working out the nuances is always the fun and frustrating part, but the time and effort pays off. The next step is to work out the caller detail while screening calls and database access. I think this will fall into place as the rest has. This innovation and thinking will bring new ways to look at live remote broadcasts. The future will be interesting for sure, and I have been working and wanting this type of control from way back. This world situation has brought it to the forefront, and now we can make it a realization. Progress.

Categories: Equipment

Dante Certified! Level 3

April 9, 2020 Comments off

Just wanted to give a quick update. I just completed and passed the level 3 test online for Dante Level 3! Yeah!

I will admit it was not as “easy” as I would have thought with the amount of work done in our facility. I am happy that I did it! Confirms that I maybe possibly really know something, though may not be an expert yet!

If you are out there working your way through any cert or achievement, keep at it. It is well worth it and quite satisfying.

Cheers!

Categories: Equipment, IT, Management Tags: , ,

Catch Up!

April 8, 2020 Comments off

Phew! Here I was expecting to already have my next Dante post by now. With this Covid-19 virus thing going on it has been much busier than one would expect. First I do not condone the media scaring people every 10 minutes. Yes, this virus is serious, but I think people have become numb to your fake expertise or reporting. And I work in the media!

OK, that’s off my chest. Now what have we done to keep you informed and entertained. Mostly the latter as we have 4 music formats and a sports format, and we all know that sports is not information and more of a distraction. We have done our part in clearing the building. Remote voice tracking is the norm for all music stations with the exception of morning shows. Sports “talk” and morning so far have a producer in house while the talent are remote. Tieline is our #1 go to on that front with Comrex filling in the blanks. We have deployed our old Tieline Field Units and iMix-G3 units. We also have the Report-IT app in use for other sites. Basically we are saving our 2 Via units for the extreme cases if and when that may happen.

Remote voice tracking is via the WideOrbit (WO) system. It works. I built 16 PCs just for deployment. I think we only have 5 spares of the bunch. We are in the process of figuring out how to remove all personnel from the facility, so I have beta the Remote Console app from Sierra Automated Systems (SAS) with the Rio Bravo and Rubicon consoles. It works. It is configurable. For now, no bells and whistles, but a remote operator can turn sources on and off, and remote sources like codecs get their proper mix minus. Level, or fader control is available, too. The only hitch now is how to get “the powers that be” to provide a decent remote access to the WO workstations on which I can install this app. When we can do this the operator can control WO and the console with a single remote access point.

And that is what has kept me busy the last couple weeks. I am studying up for my Dante Level 3 certification, too. That is in the “free” time. So, in conjunction with that, I hope to have my next installment of Dante posted soon. In the meantime stay save, stay healthy, stay home if you can. Keep that chin up, we will get through this.

Cheers!

Categories: Equipment
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