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

Audio Over IP (AoIP)-Dante

March 19, 2020 Comments off

To Audio Over IP or not to Audio Over IP. That should not be the question. The answer is a definitive yes. This should be a decision of adding another layer to the arsenal of audio options toolkit. We all still need analog and digital audio. Just add IP to that kit. Of the options available, from proprietary LiveWire and Wheatnet, to what may be considered standard, the choice is yours. Do not be fooled by AES67 claims. Think about what you want to do and why. I chose Audinate Dante. It compliments what I have and moves us into the future. And for my system it is integrated with Sierra Automated Systems (SAS) 32KD and Bravo. (It even supports AES67.) Choose wisely.

I know you have read about AoIP. I know you know about AoIP. I know you use AoIP. Any modern codec is using AoIP as we all use the Internet to feed audio remotely. The basics of creating an AoIP network is simple. You need a network. The main part of this network is your switch. Do not use a hub. Make it a good switch. Design your network for at least 1 GB. Depending what you decide on a platform, you may need a DHCP server, and possibly some high-end switches. Some will want to Subnet and use VLANs on existing networks. I am of the belief of making things simple, so I chose to create a completely independent and isolated network. I chose Dante.

What makes Dante “simple?” Many things, but the main is the fact it does not require any special hardware. No special switches. No special configurations. In addition to that it does not require DHCP. The IP addresses are automatically assigned by Dante just like the automatic addressing Windows does when a DHCP server is not available. I chose to manually, or statically, assign the IP addresses. To manage Dante, the machine that has the Dante Controller has two NICs (Network Interface Card), so one is assigned an IP address for the Dante network. As the audio in the broadcast facility is contained here alone, there is not need for a gateway. I have 59 devices, so the assignment and manually configuring of the Dante portion may take time, but once it is done, it is done.

You ask about automation and playback computers. Two NICs. Ask me how many times I have been off air with this configuration. I dare you. Zero. Keep that in mind. Each machine has 1GB NICs. All studios have CAT6 cable home runs to the switch. Avoid multiple switches if you can. This is in line with keeping things simple.

And that is the basic framework that I use. Keep it simple. Don’t try and do too much at once. Get used to what you are doing.

Next post will be the basics of Dante. I will cover the Dante Controller basics.

In the meantime, check some Audinate links while you plan your system:
So You’re Adding Dante to Your Network?
Broadcast: Radio

Cheers!

Happy Lunar New Year

January 25, 2020 Comments off

Wishing all my friends a Happy New Year.

May the year bring peace, happiness, and prosperity!

Cheer!

Categories: Equipment

Happy New Year!!!

January 1, 2020 Comments off

Welcome to the year 2020.

The last few years were hectic, but I hope to get back on track. I have many things juggling both at work and in my personal life. I plan on posting more and catch up on those “promises.” I have a draft of my first Dante post working. I am actually learning a new responsive design program for the web site. And if interested, I can post some personal life experience as a USA Swim official.

Let’s have a good year.

Cheers!

Categories: Equipment

Happy Holidays!

December 19, 2019 Comments off

Wishing all of you a Happy Holiday Season for 2019.

We end 2019 and begin our plans for 2020 which looks to be an interesting year brewing. I hope to get off my duff and post more for you. Maybe impart some opinions of life, but definitely finish what I started on Dante!

Thanks for following!

Categories: Equipment

Why Dante by Audinate?

December 3, 2019 Comments off

I have mentioned Audio over IP (AoIP) in posts and on my site. I have been using AoIP for years to do remote broadcasts, normally using Tieline codecs, but have used others. I was one of the early adopters. I also decided years ago to run our studio to transmitter audio over IP. Due to space constraints and other factors I decided on the Worldcast/APT codecs. All have worked very well. When the stations had to move I wanted my AoIP platform to be Dante. I am glad I did.

There are three notable choices for AoIP on the broadcast industry: Dante, LiveWire, and WheatNet. Two of these are proprietary and do not have to pointed out. Only one, Dante, is an industry standard most notably in the audio/video industry and live sound. It is used worldwide in major venues. The list goes on and on. Just visit the Audinate Project Gallery. If you need devices and interfaces, why there are a whole slew of choices. Any time you need to interface, just check out their Product Catalog where you can research what you want, but do not pass over Audinate’s own devices, the AVIO adapters. Though I have not needed one, I think next year I will pick up a couple to have for the rainy day emergency! How could I pass on choosing Dante for my platform of choice?

Overall, the installation was a breeze. In my next post I will detail our basic installation, but for now just an overview. Though Audinate is designed to run on your existing Ethernet network, I am a strong believer in keeping mission critical separate, so I installed a completely separate network just for Dante. This makes life super easy as all you need to install is a good core switch and home run all your connections. At this point, as Dante will automatically configure its own IP addresses you can just let it happen. I actually manually assigned all IP addresses. Once you have a couple devices installed, you will see them populate in the Device Manager software. Using the Device Manager, make your audio connections and you are off to the races.

I am a Sierra Automated Systems (SAS) plant. With the new KDL modules and Rio Bravos, interfacing Dante to the routing system is quite easy. Again, you need to make your routes in the Dante Controller first, but once you have them available, that audio is not available in the SAS routers just like any other audio. SAS is working with Audinate such that they can control Dante routing through their system from my understanding. Seems like a complex challenge, but if anyone can do it, SAS can.

Stay tuned from my next post about the details of installing Dante, the devices, and configuration. Being an industry standard makes for easy integration with many devices. Mackie comes to mind. As for up-time, I have not had any issues with our AoIP setup. It works, and that is what counts.

Categories: Equipment, Management Tags: , , ,

Headaches of the Week!

November 1, 2019 Comments off

So, what were you headaches this week? We all get them! I had one when the weather went from dry, to almost normal, back to dry again. That was a one day actual headache. The daily grind headaches were power supplies and WideOrbit configurations.

The easy fix was the power supplies for my Nautel NV20s. Yes, these are those two which were installed Dec. 2008. Still running strong, but as it ages, those power supplies tire out. What is awesome is they are easy to swap out. Pull one out, put one in. Done. Like taking Advil, pain gone.

WideOrbit on the other hand is a different story. This is combined with the fact that Jelli/Katz shipped new hardware to replace the aging appliances. I changed from 5 separate servers to 2 servers. I got them babies installed and audio plugged in. I changed the ports configured for the WO Device Server. I give Traffic the go ahead to schedule them tests. ALL OF THEM FAILED.

Well, they worked before, so I checked the configurations again. Dug into the actual WO Device Server configuration file on each workstation and what do I find? Instead of changing the “entry” for the configured port, it appended a new one! WTF I say. Check with a colleague and sure enough that is what he has been fighting for months while the pair were nailing down the metadata feeds. Every time you make a change, it doesn’t change anything, it appends the damn thing. Argh.

Last night I thought I had it, and I only received dead air on one station. Sure enough, appended change. Then Jelli and I agreed to move/swap two stations so everyone’s docs matched up. I did a test. Nothing. Wait, I checked and cleaned up the file. Oh, no, there is another line in there which referred to the OLD entry! Things like this makes you want to bash your head against a wall to fix the headache. I corrected those, so we will see how these two stations run tomorrow morning.

I’m saving the last as it has the most complex configuration file as the station uses GPIO along with metadata and Jelli. Best to pick on it separately.

I hope your headaches are easy to resolve and treat. Speaking of treats, Halloween was pretty quiet last night. Remember that next year it will be the weekend, so all Hell will break loose!

Cheers!

Categories: Equipment
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