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Posts Tagged ‘Nautel’

GatesAir FMXi 4g Metadata

March 19, 2021 Comments off

Metadata. Title, Artist, Album information. Artist Experience. PSD. Data. All data. Different names for data. What can be so difficult about that? Everything. Format, type, destination, were it comes from. The FMXi says you don’t have to do much to get it working. Well, I beg to differ.

I will start with the easiest form of data used in HD, program data. This is known to some, all, few, as PSD, Program Service Data. Basically it is Title, Artist, and Album information. Nothing special, though different devices accept different formats. Today, the formatting is pretty much standard. According to GatesAir one can send PSD data to any of the three NICs on the FMXi. The network interfaces are labeled as Management, E2X, and PSD/IMP. Each is separate and the device is its own switch and router. Easy enough. To keep things simple and create a standard I chose to send the data to the PSD/IMP interface. Gosh, PSD is in its name, so why not use it.

First be aware that none of the three network interfaces can live on the same subnet. I tried to configure the PSD/IMP NIC to reside on the same subnet as the E2X. Before this device I had my Importer and Exporter living on the same network. Flat network. Simple. To make this installation a bit easier, our IT made a subnet which is basically the metadata subnet. Arctic Palm and JumpGate reside on this network and worked prior to the advent of the FMXi, so logic dictates to send this data to an interface on this same subnet. Guess what. Did not work. Some digging to do and from the Arctic Palm computer I can ping this new port. Yeah. Double checked port assignments. HD1 PSD data default is 11000. Easy enough, we are using the defaults. Nothing. Hold up. What?

Shoot, let’s try to send it the data to the Management NIC. By the way, this is also known as the WAN interface within the FMXi, so it creates a bit of confusion. I call it the house network, or management port. I know the interface works for the Web GUI or how else would I be able to configure the device? Send data there, I say. Nope. Not. Or as I like to say, Nicht, Nein. OK, remember my last post about routing tables and ARP? Let’s check them out! And, of course, all checks out. Arctic Palm and the JumpGate IP addresses show up in the table and references the proper subnet. Routing? Should not be an issue. Devices and interfaces configured to be on same subnet. Devices show in ARP table.

Let’s try the E2X interface. OK. A simple change again to the devices delivering the data. PSD shows! As my daughter likes to say, and I guess many teens these day do, wait, what? The routing table doesn’t show any “new” gateway. IP resides on same network. It works. Hold on a moment. The PSD/IMP interface is configured to be on same subnet as the devices delivering the data. Said devices show in ARP table. Not data. E2X interface works? Same with the management interface. I now conclude the claim that PSD can be sent to any of the three ports is false. Unless there is some firewall thing talking place on our network, there should not be an issue here. Side note, our network is so complex that only 1 person in our building knows at least part of it, but will not share with the rest of us. I prefer to keep things simple.

Time to move onto Artist Experience. Believe it or not, we got this one working before the PSD! At the start we did not get the data to flow properly, but after a little poking around we tried something that is not suggested at in the FMXi manual. Though the JumpGate which aggregates this information is on the “metadata” subnet and has access to the outside world to retrieve the artwork, etc, as we found out with PSD it did not get to the FMXi. This one was a bit different, and since we knew it had something to do with the outside world, it was back to the routing table. The decision was made to add a “catch all” default route. In the table it was time to add a destination address of 0.0.0.0, a netmask of 0.0.0.0, the gateway to the outside world which happens to be on the management interface and subnet. Once this was done, Artist Experience was on the radio. Simple fix, but not the most intuitive.

BTW, based on the FMXi interface configuration, the unit will define a “system” route based on IP configured. If you have the management interface configured for 10.10.10.10, the netmask will be 255.255.0.0. Or if you configured it static and chose a mask of 255.255.255.0 to keep it manageable, then that would show. The gateway for all these would be 0.0.0.0. By doing our “fix” we created a default type route which seemed to make the unit happy with Artist Experience. Maybe if more digging is done the route table could be manipulated such that PSD could be used on any interface. The issue is the manual does not say that. It does not suggest that. We make the notes so we know how to put the next one in.

I suggest if/when you install the FMXi 4g you brush up on the networking skills. If you have a simple network, the better. Unfortunately you cannot configure the three interfaces to live on the same subnet, so if you do keep a simple network, you will not have to configure all three, but you will want to configure the management interface as that is your Web GUI, and you will need your E2X interface configured to ship that stream to your Exgine. I do like the built in diversity delay and it seems to be holding, so that is nice. Good luck. I hope this information helps you install and troubleshoot the FMXi. Maybe in some firmware update GatesAir will include simple diagnostics, like Ping, to help verify network settings and routes.

Cheers!

Categories: Equipment Tags: ,

GatesAir FMXi 4g Importer/Exporter

March 15, 2021 Comments off

Corporate mandate: Install this on your station. Reason: Old Importer runs Windows XP, security reasons.

I accept the reason, but I do not understand the mandate for a specific manufacturer’s equipment, especially when my transmitter is a different manufacturer. Making a GatesAir FMXi 4g work with a Nautel NV20. Well, I do, but money should not always be the answer to everything.

This can be done. What I did discover is quite interesting, and is not a very good way to determine proper operation. To make this whole picture come together imagine your choices of installation location for a combination Importer/Exporter. If you put it at the transmitter site, the Exporter sits on its own subnet with the Exgine. Now you need to get your audio for your HD2s and 3s to the site, in addition to metadata. If you install the combination at the studios, then you have your Exporter and Exgine on different subnets, or you are forced into VLAN fun. I have been running Exporters from the studio site successfully for years, so it can be done, but the FMXi gave me quite a start.

Per the manual, I configured the management NIC and the E2X NIC on the FMXi. I saved the PSD/IMP NIC as the last thing to worry about. When configuring the device GatesAir wants you to configure a routing table so traffic knows where to go. E2X is a simple UDP stream, so this should be simple enough. No HD. Head scratch. Example: E2X NIC given the 192.168.10.10 address. Exgine is on 192.168.20.X network, so the routing table is configured to send data to the 20.x network, use 192.168.10.1 gateway. Simple enough. No work. Discussion time #1.

Take the unit to the transmitter site. Basic troubleshooting principles. Drop it on the same subnet. After a quick configuration still nothing. Poked at the Exgine and verify ports are correct. Sheesh, haven’t changed those in so long, but verification away. After about 10 minutes of this, I noticed the FMXi was now happy, Exgine was detected. So, it can talk with the Nautel Exciter and Exgine. Cool. Back to the studios to contemplate why. Discussion #2.

Discussion #2 with Gates revealed a very important, yet minor detail about the Exgine being “detected”. I was curious about how a UDP connection got confirmation that “presence”, as Gates calls it, is determined. The surprising answer was the ARP table. The FMXi creates an ARP table just like any computer or switch. If the Exgine IP address is in the ARP table, then the Exgine is considered present. Guess what? If you are on a different subnet, you will NEVER get that “presence” indication, and your FMXi will report visually that the Exgine is not present.

As I had the FMXi working, as in creating an E2X stream at the site on the local subnet, I knew I could get this to work from the studios, so back to configuration and poking. Again, I made sure the routing table had the route required to get the E2X stream to the site. This time, I kept refreshing the ARP table until I saw with my own two eyes that the gateway configured showed up. Bam, HD was on. Here’s the kicker. The FMXi still reported that the Exgine was not present. So, now I have a box that is working, but reports that it is not. Here’s the proof:

Exgine Fault but HD Carriers on Transmitter

Apparently GatesAir will have to come up with a “better” way to inform the end user that the E2X stream is being sent to where it is designated to go. In all this, I also discovered that the FMXi has no built in diagnostics such as ping or trace route. If I was able to ping from this device I would have confirmation that my route was correct and that the ARP table had correct entries without having to go through these extra hoops hoping to see the HD carriers and hear audio.

There you have it. Intermingled manufacturer devices working together. The Nautel HD Multicast+ was not this difficult to setup. I will address metadata in my next post, as another interesting discovery was made regarding PSD data. Until then!

Cheers!

Categories: Equipment Tags: , ,

Does Your Transmitter Run on 66 Vac?

October 23, 2016 Comments off

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.

 

Cheers!

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

Fixin’ Things: Week’s Update

May 27, 2016 Comments off

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!

 

Cheers.

NAB 2016

April 14, 2016 Comments off

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!

Cheers!

Categories: Equipment, IT, Management Tags: , ,

Engineering Week Successes

August 14, 2015 Comments off

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.)

Cheers!

Categories: Equipment Tags: , , , ,

Thoughts While NexGen Updates

February 4, 2014 Comments off

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 Comments off

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.

Cheers!

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!

Cheers.

An Importer Upgrade: Lesson’s Learned

February 22, 2013 Comments off

A couple of weeks ago I decided to pursue an upgrade to our Nautel Export+ and Importers.  For those not in the U.S., this is the equipment that makes our HD Radio channels work, or digital radio.  The old Exporter and the Exporter+ units upgraded just fine.  It really isn’t that difficult.  The Importers were a bit different.

My upgrade worked out well.  First I had to update from Windows XP SP2 to SP3.  Well, the boxes are so old I had to find an executable upgrade package on the TechNet site.  I found it and it worked.  Why did Windows Update not work?  As mentioned the boxes were so old and all automatic updates are disabled due to the fact that the software used for HD Radio does not get the continuing testing required to keep up with OS changes.  The Nautel version 4.4.7 update specifies  Win XP SP3.  The most time consuming part was using Windows Update to get all the current, laugh here, patches.  Done.

Importer update:  This was straight forward too.  I skipped a version, 4.2.1, past 4.3.1, to 4.4.7.  All installed well and even my BTC (Broadcast Traffic Consortium) station came up just fine.  As we were pursuing an HD2 channel, I looked closely at the Capture Client for the secondary service and discovered that the second audio card was not there!  My brain started to wonder what happened.  The OS saw it and the Orban PC Remote software saw the two audio cards.  Now what?

After a reinstall of the 4.4.7 software, the reinstall of the Orban audio card drivers, and more checks to see what I may have missed, I did not get anywhere.  I contacted Nautel and this stumped them.  I decided to contact iBiquity.  They heard of some issue with the Orban PC1100 cards, but did not have an answer.  I contacted Orban and they did not have an immediate answer.  More suggestions of removing and reinstalling drivers and software.  I decided to dig a bit more.

At no time did anyone mention the PC1100 version.  I visited the Orban website and checked the download section.  I discovered at some point the software and drivers for the PC1100 audio cards was updated.  I usually keep up on updates, but, again, with HD stuff you do not touch it unless instructed to or forced to.  I figured I had nothing to lose, so I downloaded the software and installed in on a machine where the Importer services have not been required.  It worked!  I notified all parties involved.  Everyone assumed that this update was applied.  Well, again, I do not apply any updates unless there is a confirmed reason when it comes to the iBiquity equipment.  It is mentioned in all their documentation that automated updates and any other updates be cleared first.  Well, a bulletin or something could have been issued with the latest requirements and no one would have had to worry about this update.

I updated the other two Importers and all audio cards are seen and work.  Lesson learned.  Update that audio card and drivers if you have not done so.  This applies to anyone with a box that is at least 3 years old or older.  I see that Orban now has the PC1101 audio card out.  This is 2 audio cards in one.  Anyone have experience with this one?

Lessons are learned, and we keep learning everyday.  Keep your stuff updated within reason!  Hopefully my little exercise will help others not fall into this little trap.  Have a great weekend!

Cheers!

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