Posts Tagged ‘Nautel’

Does Your Transmitter Run on 66 Vac?

October 23, 2016 Leave a comment

Friday and my family was in L.A. I was planning on taking the train up to meet with them as it as Grandma’s birthday, but it was contingent on how the week was heading. South, that is where it was heading!
Sitting at the my desk doing a couple of things the the silence alarm goes off.  Not just one, but two stations collocated.  For that to happen their are only two things that will cause that, main STL to the site or power.  I quickly switch one to the our Aux site, the other I poke at and switch STLs.  Back on.  Off to the site I go.  Mind you I get a low power warning, and both transmitters were on at about 3kW each.  Each transmitter is a Nautel NV20, the very ones that I have posted about before.  In addition a get an high room temperature alarm, so HVAC is down.

I get to the site.  Sure enough the TV station’s generator is running.  I open my door and greeted with hot air.  My lights work, but two of 3 UPSs are beeping away running on battery.  Looking at my surge suppressors, two phases are missing!  Yes, two, and one NV20 was on.  I had turned one off earlier when I switched that station to an Aux site.  Out comes the Fluke and I start measuring the phases.  One is running fine at 120V, the other two are running 66V.  One rack is powered while the other two are on battery.  I make provisions to route power to equipment in a backed up rack preparing for the batteries to die.  I look at the transmitter running.  3.6kW TPO and the status tells me 2 phases are missing.  All I can say is, “wow.”  I had a similar incident years ago with a single phase loss, but this time 2!

Once I had my stuff stable, I noticed the power company, SDG&E, was already outside on the street.  Ah, they were doing something and it went wrong.  Of course the guy in the truck had no update nor did he know where the issue was.  The guys at the fire station, following protocol, had moved their trucks out and were talking with another SDG&E person.  Eventually 3 trucks were up the street.  Within about 45 minutes of being on site, power was restored.

Chalk another one up to Nautel.  The power distribution and fold-back on the NV20s worked flawless.  Needless to say, my HVAC recovered and all other equipment survived the trauma.  Let’s see if the rest of the weekend remains quiet.



Categories: Equipment, Nautel, NV20 Tags: , , ,

Fixin’ Things: Week’s Update

Figured I would try and and get back into the swing of things and update a bit more often.  Mostly boring stuff, but, hey, someone has to do it! This week I have a bit of F.O.R.D. action to mention along with plans to  repair a Nautel NV20.  Also a little fun with NexGen and Sage communications.  A little bit of everything.

F.O.R.D. = Fix Or Repair Daily.  Harris Z10.  This box just sits there and is used on occasion when I do a Nautel update.  As it sits, it fails.  No, it doesn’t need to be turned on, it just fails.  I should clarify, it shows Faults.  Currently 4 when I look at the logs, used to be 5.  Let me remind you, it gets these just sitting idle.  Apparently 2 of the 4, was 3 of 5, are PA modules showing the PS#_OT, or over temperature fault.  Again, it isn’t running.  A little research and some interaction with tech support a couple months ago, I finally ordered the parts through Mouser and did a test repair.  This repair entails the replacement of a capacitor and thermistor.  Easy enough except they are surface mount, so I finally got a chance to experience this type of repair first hand.  All I can say is it takes patience.  Needless to say, the test PA module installed and fault is cleared.  I have 2 more to do.  The other faults I will act on when I get these obvious ones out of the way.  Unfortunately it looks like one of these pending faults corresponds to a dead PA.

But, wait, did I say a Nautel repair is imminent?  Yeah, I guess I pushed the old beast a bit too hard as I prepare for an HD carrier increase.  I began to adjust the HD PA voltage to accommodate the new power increase and two PA modules said they did not like that, and Poof!  I just finished doing some research and I have all the parts to replace them.  I even have the tools!  What did I find out today?  I have version A of the modules and all the latest documents show they are up to C, and they look more modular!  The old ones require de-soldering and then replacement.  At least it doesn’t look to bad.  I also get to perform the modifications that the modules required a few years back to improve efficiency.  All in all, I call this fun.

We us IP to control most everything these days, and this includes how the RCS NexGen communicates with the Sage Endec.  Sure enough, this week I noticed that the RWT did not fire properly.  This is normally caused by the old architecture of NexGen where it just decides to not talk.  After a couple of tests I had to do the old CTRL+Alt+Shift+F4 on the A-server so it would load a fresh database.  Why it decided to start doing this is beyond me.  The other two stations do not have this issue.  I know we will be moving off this system some day, so whatever we use better be IP savvy in running all tests and alerts.

Interspersed among all this fun is Microsoft and Windows 10.  Thanks.  Apparently there is an issue with Win 10 and USB 3.0.  At least with some of our stuff, more specifically Digigram and the UAX-220v2.  Thought he device uses generic Windows drivers, the system will throw a fault and reboot spontaneously.  When trying to track it down, the Event Logs show nothing except the “previous shutdown was unexpected” error.  I finally caught a memory dump and analysed it.  A reference to a USB device was there.  As a test I removed the UAX and that machine has settled down.  I think I will need to experiment with a couple of other USB sound devices and see if it is isolated to Digigram or it is more universal issue.  Sad if it is the UAX as the beauty of it was plug and play with no special drivers.

If you get a long weekend, enjoy!  If not, take advantage of the time you have!



NAB 2016

It’s that time of year again. I’m headed to the NAB convention. It will be quite a quick trip as I’m lined up to see a bunch of folks, but I do not know when! Also learning the nuances of the new company is interesting. Key points for me is some AoIP stuff which I already have, just needing supplemental items, staring down transmitters with HD (Nautel), and getting a look a Tieline’s new Via. Wonder where they got some ideas from?

I will say I’m not impressed by the credential world. I signed up in December. Decided to check and make a minor update and discovered they want so much more personal information now then when they first had me sign up! So after signing my 1st born away, I have the “proper” email confirmation as they have a new system to pick up badges. As the saying goes, Oh, boy, this is gonna be great! I understand they have had abuse of badges, but at least be consistent and don’t change registration in the middle of the window, or at least notify those that did register they need to “update” some information. Here’s the kicker: A colleague went to update his information and he was charged $25! Bad customer service, IMHO.

Anyways, I’m looking forward to seeing folks I have not seen since last year, and to meet new people, some who actually work for the company. I’ll be posting during my short stay, so check in and get my field reports!


Categories: Equipment, IT, Management Tags: , ,

Engineering Week Successes

Motivation has been lacking.  Been waiting a while for the sale to go through, so now we are a new company.  Very cool and it looks to be quite fruitful with the resources that appear to be had.  Many little/minor repairs have been done since my last post.  If you read the trades much in terms of streaming and connected media.  While all that goes on there is still radio and still needs to be met.  As a broadcast engineer the main deed is to keep our stations on the air!

Granted I had no off air time this week, I did have to deal with a couple of issues.  One is an auxiliary exciter that decided not to produce power.  This bad boy is an old Harris Superciter.  I believe it to be a post-Digit exciter and dates back to 2006.  As I had a spare Digit I was able to bring the Superciter to the shop for work.  Acquiring the schematics and manual was fun, and I dug up a schematic set, but no manual.  GatesAir was able to forward me a manual and another set of schematics.  After poking around I got frustrated as I did not know what readings I needed to see as certain points to determine what direction to go.  A few more emails and a better understanding led me to testing each stage.  Eventually I got really curious, so when I got to the Power Amp (PA), I began static testing the transistors which began to look good.  As this exciter is an Aux and just sits there with a quarterly turn on and run I figure it was time to really look for dirty contacts everywhere.  Anything I saw I cleaned.  I reconnected everything and had forward power!  Crossing my fingers, I put the box back together thinking it won’t turn on when I do.  Luck on my side, it came on again.  Ran it for over an hour into a load without issue.  I’ll fire it up again Monday to verify and plan on taking it back to the site.

As if this exciter thing was a pain, one of my main transmitters started doing something odd: It began having power fluctuations.  This is an “old” Nautel NV20.  Yeah, remember, I have the oldest ones out there at 6 1/2 years old now, so I get to experience the aging process.  No faults were showing except for PA module foldbacks and, sitting down, “Module # not responding.”  If a PA module is not responding there must be some fault somewhere.  I looked at everything.  I ran it into the load and watched it.  It didn’t matter which module it just randomly picked on as not responding, or two, three….  What else can I do?

I did what anyone would do.  Shut it down.  Remove each PA module and reset it.  While I did that I also checked the fans on each, though not showing failures, I’ve had a couple fail from old age already.  Found 2 that showed signs of failing and replaced them.  I check the connections to the exciter.  All good and tight.  Flipped the disconnect back on and let the AUI boot up.  I took it slow and selected a low power preset.  I stepped to to a low power with HD preset.  I went for the gold to full TPO of 10 kW.  I watched it with eagle eyes.  I dared it to do something.  Rock solid.  Heated that room up good running it into the load for 20+ minutes.  Time to put it back on the air, and it came right up.  Again I eyed it.  Both via front monitor AUI and via remote web browser, one on the main screen and the other on the status screen just waiting for it to mess up.  Rock solid.  Absolutely no power wavering.  I watched that thing for an hour, and then called it good.  The conclusion:  Even 20 kW Linux computers need to be rebooted, from a cold boot, on occasion.

Hope all your repairs turn out to be as simple and successful as mine have.  Look for the signposts while troubleshooting and take the proper path.  The repair becomes easy.  (Oooh, a Zen moment there.)


Categories: Equipment Tags: , , , ,

Thoughts While NexGen Updates

February 4, 2014 Leave a comment

How’s that for a generic title? And, WOW, it’s February already!
Anyhow, I’m still working on my Future of Radio series, but it has been tough concentrating on that while doing the daily grind, and I must admit keeping the motivation up. Now that we are in the midst of a NexGen update, going to version 2.13, I am relaying general items that have popped up in the last couple of weeks.

My first interesting conversation was from Burk. I placed a “feature request” in. Not really a feature, but I figured I would ask since I’m dabbling in Linux. The answer is no, they are not working on a Linus version of AutoPilot. Would you believe of all you engineers out there, they claim to have received NO requests for this? My reasoning: Running a monitoring critical operations with a Windows-based system seems a bit disturbing. One would think that having a strong, stable platform running software would be high on the list of requirements. So, I hope I get a call to test out a new package, but something tells me until more of you make the request, no move will happen in the short term.

As I type this, I’m working on my Linux VM. I had to fight, actually learn how to install a plug-in that was not automatic as I am used to. I have a lot to learn on this stuff. Once I get a handle on it, watch out Nautel, I know you guys use Linux for the AUI!

How many of you have MPLS “private” networks across your city, region, or at all? We are in a valley, so our primary STL is T1. AT&T is just the worst now at maintenance and reliability. Seems to me they are taking the same route with point to point T1 circuits as they are with ISDN; slowly letting them die. I figure we would research MPLS and the response from manufacturers like WorldCast is that is the best way to get quality IP connections for audio. Of course this is true if the provider can guarantee bandwidth. This bothers me as many of they companies must lease line segments from the such as AT&T. If I can’t get reliable service from them direct, how can a third party provider? So, if you have something like this, please feel free to chime in with your thoughts.

A couple of years ago I started research for a licensed, high bandwidth data microwave using a combination of 11Gb, 18Gb, and possible 22Gb links. That fell flat when money was shut off. Now I wonder if I can even get a licensed link. I guess it may be time to start that research again. Hopefully the economy improves a bit to make things happen.

Well, better go back and check on that update, and after that check on an air duct to see if it has any dampers or diversions in it. Ah, the life of a radio engineer.

Categories: Equipment, Management Tags: , , ,

Nautel NVLT and Burk Technology Config

December 13, 2013 Leave a comment

One thing I do like to do is help fellow engineers get to a solution to a problem.  It does not matter how small or large.  Even if I can help in the smallest way it feels good.  I’m also feel honored that engineers, companies, and tech support folks actually recommend me to others for help.  In this case, I was able to at least steer a fellow engineer in the right direction.  What we learned, and it may sound surprising, is the Nautel NVLT is DIFFERENT than the NV so much so that Burk has a different PlusConnect-NV for that box.

The rub is the PlusConnect is so new that one of Burk’s own tech support was not aware of it, or made an assumption that was incorrect.  I was not aware of how different the NVLT was until this contact.  After a few email exchanges that stated the Link was there and the ARCPlus was talking with the PlusConnect, there were no readings and the configuration did not take.  I slept on it after giving some Burk pointers.  I began to feel that something was different and directed the engineer to contact Burk and ask for more details.  A couple days later I received a call from him and did I get an eye opener:  Yes, Burk has a different PlusConnect for the NVLT, yes the MIBs are different, yes the firmware is different, and yes the AutoLoad definitions are different.  Well, that explains it all.  Burk shipped the wrong PlusConnect.  Mistakes do happen, but….

I find it interesting that my engineer friend did not learn this from the first tech support person.  Whether he was too new or did not know, a simple “I do not know, let me get back to you” would have sufficed.  It took multiple calls.  There are most likely many reasons for this, so I give them the benefit of the doubt, but still a courtesy call to make sure the proper information was conveyed goes a long way.  After the calls the Burk website (here) has been updated with NVLT firmware and AutoLoad definitions.

Now back to business.


NAB Show from the Field

April 11, 2013 4 comments

I am  back at work and recounting what my feelings are about the NAB show.  Of course all of this is from the floor perspective as I do not have the money to attend all the fancy talks or events.  I usually get all that stuff later, so maybe I can read something interesting and relay my thoughts on them later.  As for the show, for me it was mediocre in a good way.

Let’s talk first of the show itself as this is the mediocre aspect.  As I am in radio, yes I admit it, the much to do about nothing TV and video is not high on my list.  Don’t get me wrong as there are really cool things going on in the video and TV, it is not my main focus.  With that in mind all the hype is on video and TV with very little on radio, and all of it is the SAME propaganda.  Does anyone ask if it is really relevant?  Do I care about 4k TV and video?  No.  I wear glasses and much of it is wasted on me.  I’m not even a 3D fan as it is far from realistic and plain lame.  Personally I would rather see more pertinent, realistic things on both sides, radio and TV like IP technology (which was there) and transport.  How to make it happen.  The sessions cover the details of these things, but it would be nice to see and talk in a booth on how it works.  I’m an hands on guy, so “feeling” it gives me a better idea of how well it may work in the real world.  On that note, what did I find cool?

Let’s start with the Radio Magazine’s Pick Hits (in no particular order)
1.  DEVA Broadcast DB4004.  FM Radio Monitoring Receiver.  Yup, that is exactly what it is.  Too many features to write up, so visit the website.  I like the measurements with history.  WEB and FTP, so there is a NIC installed.  Web browser is embedded as is the FTP server.  Email alerts, SNMP.  Almost everything is configurable.  I talked with Todor Ivanov, GM, and he was very passionate about his products.  It shows.  Now if iBiquity will talk with him it will be HD ready.  He is prepared and ready to roll with it as soon as the love comes.2.  Nautel.  I attended the Nautel Users Group on Sunday and was introduced to the new Omnia Direct for the NV transmitters.  Yes, digital composite direct from the Omnia 11 to the NV.  All NV’s shipped with version 4.0 firmware is capable, any upgraded to version 4.0 will be ready.  Speaking of that, version 4.0 firmware will ship soon.  I talked with Kevin, customer service manager, and I expect it soon to test on “older” rigs (my 4 year old NV20’s).  I look forward to trying that out.
Did I mention they introduced a new TV transmitter?
3.  Tieline.  The latest from Tieline is the Merlin Plus IP Codec capable of doing 6 simultaneous remotes.  Place one at your studio and have up to 6 simultaneous mono remotes.  Did I mention just 1 box at the studio?  Connect with Report-IT and/or your G3 Field Units or iMixes.  Not a bad idea for facilities that do a lot of off site live stuff.
In addition to this product, Tieline is also incorporating Opus codec technology.  The standard is open source, so no licensing fee.  Great for the end user.
4.  Audion Labs VoxPro 5.  I put this here because I am a VoxPro plant.  It works.  Air talent likes it and low maintenance.  Look for version 5 to be released this summer.
5.  Arctic Palm Datacasting.  I like this product.  I want this product, but I can’t get it just yet.  Send your data to RDS, HD, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Look for the Artist Experience if/when this gets going.  It supports TagStation now.  I think this is a great product for a centralized data distribution point.  Stations that simulcast should take note.
6.  Elenos.  A new 3kW transmitter in 2RU with excellent efficiency.  Anyone else?  Though FM only, the digital modulator is ready for HD once the details with iBiquity is worked out.  As a company, Elenos is another one that shows extreme passion for what they do.  They are proud of their products and they will SHOW you.  They will also talk with you and LISTEN.

Last, and least, is what is up with the new Harris Broadcast logo?  I’ve asked this and I got many of the same response.  I’m not sure what it represents (a TV?), but my first impression was a little more reactive.  In any case, Harris does have a major presence and continues to build good product.  One drawback is they are trying to do everything, and to me that doesn’t work.  A certain “alliance” comes to mind.

Many of the products out there are good.  So, from that aspect the show was good.  I still wonder about HD radio.  As any who reads my blog or follows me on Twitter or Google+, I’m not a huge fan.  I do have 4 signals in HD and we started our HD2 with more to come.  What bothers me is I know of 3 instances where I was told point blank that they (manufacturers) are waiting for iBiquity.  Either to give approval or help to find the proper solution.  If the company that owns the standard is dragging, do you want or need to wait?
I also felt that on the floor there was a lack of passion.  I know of a few companies that are very passionate, as mentioned above, but many that are there because they need to show their wares.  I also felt as if the cold shoulder was being given out freely this year.  One booth, well know name, dismissed my presence.  No one made an effort to talk.  Come to think of it, there were a couple of booths like this.  This is so wrong for many reasons, so beware expecting business or repeat business.  Radio is so into themselves I feel that if you are the outspoken or outcast, there is not place for you.  Could this be part of the radio industry problem?

On a cool note, if you wandered back and saw the DJI booth, you saw a very cool product.  Drones!  The small Phantom is ready to fly and ready to hold your GoPro Hero camera.  The S800 is an 8-rotor job that accommodates a camera gimbal with 3-axis stability.  One may ask why  so cool?  I mentioned to two engineers what I think this would be great for an engineer:  basic tower inspection.  If you need a quick look at a tower or antenna, fly one of these things up (need to check on range) and take pictures.  Analyze on the ground and then determine if you need to hire a crew to get more details or repair an issue.  I want to test to see if one of these can fly within the RF environment or at reduced power.  In any case, cool product, and potential good use.

I do look forward to next year.  I also made notes on what I think I should or will study up on as it becomes some prevalent to the industry.  Most of the technology is IP.  I have much more to learn on that.  I’ll continue to update all I learn as I gather information.  Till next year’s NAB show, see you in the social media space and the blog!


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