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Posts Tagged ‘NexGen’

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!

 

Cheers.

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: , , ,

Break-Through, Breaking, Broke, Fixed

December 14, 2012 Leave a comment

That sums up this week.  Break a few things, get good news on an old issue, and fixing stuff.  That’s my life.

Cleaning up is my number one To-Do this week and I can walk into my office now.  Hall cleared, office cleaned up, and Station Logs files for 2013 are made.  (year, really.)  As we progress I got to cleaning up my remote control situation even more and creating automated tasks with macros.  This turned into a 2 day exercise as I had a chat with my pals at Burk Technology with some questions when I find out they posted updates for the ARC Plus firmware, now at 3.0.0.37, and AutoPilot 2010, officially 2.8.4.  Not resisting something “new” I had to update.  All went well except for 2 ARC Plus units.  The configurations I saved prior to the update messed them up when loaded back in!  Doh!  To quote Homer.  I figured that out and loaded configurations I had saved last week when I made a couple of macro changes.  Lesson learned:  Save that configuration as soon as you make a change!  Now I can proceed with some more macro building and some JET flowchart learning.  Yeah, I’m lagging on that.

The break-through is from RCS and our on-going NexGen v. Sage Endec IP control issue.  WE CAPTURED AN EVENT!  I received and email and RCS is working on code to install within NexGen to more closely evaluate why NexGen did not respond to the incoming alert.  We await this little update to the A-serves.  I ask again, anyone else out there doing IP control between NexGen and Sage?  I wish I knew a bit more of the inner workings of this system.  On the other hand I would not want to see that internal road map as the software in its basic form has been around for years!

Broke:  AT&T.  Nuff said?  We’ve had a series of T1 failures.  Some responded to quickly, others just lie in wait to annoy us.  I would suspect our Moseley equipment, but history proofs otherwise.  I do wish Moseley had a better self monitoring system, but the equipment is older and we are looking at upgrading to newer systems.  Bottom line is it sucks to not have line-of-site to transmitter sites so I can use a reliable microwave STL, I want a new 11GHz system so bad with a large bandwidth!  I can dream, can’t I?

As things settle down, other than AT&T, I am now going to sweep the studios and clean up some dust bunnies.  I think I have a battery replacement on an UPS due, too.  Love the holidays!

Cheers!

PS: Glossary for those new to this stuff:

STL = Studio Transmitter Link.  Conversely TSL = Transmitter Studio Link, the opposite path.  In radio we are mostly concerned with getting audio to the transmitter site.  In this modern world with data, along with monitoring/metering, the return path is for this information.

11GHz = 11 Giga Hertz microwave systems, is the band that carries audio, data.  “Classic” STLs are in the 950MHz band with limited bandwidth.  For comparison, 802.11 WiFi routers run in the 2.4GHz band with wireless N also in the 5GHz band.  Wireless mice and keyboards are also in the 2.4GHz band.

 

NexGen and Sage Endec Control

December 5, 2012 3 comments

We installed the RCS NexGen a year ago.  As of today we still have issues with the NexGen – Sage Endec communications.

Our NexGen system is installed with no GPIO, or opto-relay, equipment.  We are 100% IP control with the system at this time.  We run EAS Required Weekly Tests, generated from the NexGen, without any issues.  It is pretty simple once set up.  NexGen is configured to look at the IP address and Port  of the Sage Endec, monitoring for any Sage originated activity.  If an alert or Required Monthly Test (RMT) comes in, NexGen is supposed to “see” it and act accordingly.  It works sporadically at best.  Today we had 2 of 3 stations run properly.

What could be the problem?  No one seems to know or ask the proper questions.  We have tested time and again the Sage Endec for the information it sends out.  It exists.  It’s there.  It just needs to be acted upon.  The NexGen will not “see” the information.  It does not acknowledge that an alert or test has come in.  If  it does, it works just fine.  If it doesn’t, then manual intervention is required or the Sage takes over and runs the alert or test on the air, interrupting programming.

I ask the question: Why does the NexGen machines not see the information consistently?  It is there to be acted upon, so why does it not see it?  NexGen is installed on Windows 7 server class computers.  NexGen runs on layers of older code.  I conclude one of two things:  1) the older IP stack on which NexGen is build stops responding, or 2) the Windows 7 computer “shuts down” something such that the information is ignored.  Anyone have experience with Windows 7 boxes acting odd like this?  Could there be a miscue between the application and the physical NIC?

We continue to send logs to RCS for evaluation.  No one seems to have answer.  One year later.  Any Windows 7 insight is greatly appreciated, and if you have an RCS NexGen running IP control, let me know what experiences you have.

 

Cheers!

 

Categories: Equipment, IT Tags: , ,

Hell Week or Just Plain Busy

January 21, 2012 Leave a comment

As promised a recap of a busy week.  If you follow my tweets, your sure already know we had a busy week.  Harris, RCS, AT&T, and the regular stuff just piled on.

My Harris Flexstar RF mute issues sprung up on me this week.  It has been on hiatus for a couple of months and then an outage on Monday and two within 15 minutes on Tuesday.  So, in answer to a phone call today, no there is nothing really to do but make sure the latest and greatest in software/firmware release is installed.  If you do not have that, you will not get much in return from tech support.  I updated the Flexstar to Exgine 4.40 and DSP to 8.33.  Since this had to be done, I had to upgrade the Exporter to 4.3.1 and the Importer to 4.3.2.  This now sets the clock on if I continue to have issues, and knock on wood I have not had an issue since the update.  On that note I still need a good answer to why HD data should be able to knock me off the air?  So if you have issues with your Flexstar, update it.  Then document exactly what the issue is.  Once you have all that ammunition, give tech support a shot and see what answers you get.  Do not be surprised if you feel a bit helpless.  The HTHD+ as an RF amplifier is great, they just need to fix the most critical piece, the exciter.

While transmitter issues were occurring we were hit with an RCS NexGen crash.  All 3 station decided to play the game.  Console control stopped, database communications became sketchy, and the whole system was just sluggish.  No apparent reason.  We noted it had to do with network traffic, so some box is flooding the network or we have a physical device that has an issue.  On that assumption we changed out the brand new Cisco switch purchased from RCS with an old 1GB Dell switch used on the old DAD network.  Everything began to run much more smoothly.  IT and RCS check the switch and all seems good.  We still have yet to switch back.

If this was not enough, concurrent failure of a T1 to a transmitter site happened.  I was on the phone with AT&T when the Flexstar decided to drop off.  It must have been a funny picture having me on the phone with AT&T while I was poking the remote control switching us to our Aux transmitter.  Multitasking at its best.  AT&T replaced a repeater and a snap-jack in the CO.  No dispatch to the site.  This particular CO seems to be having many issue of late.  We seem to cycle through which T1 goes down.  Annoying, but they were on it and problem is solved for now.

In addition to running around dealing with this, I still am working details on the Burk remote control system.  I have the sites up and in theory they should all see each other.  Reality is a different story.  I can see one site from the shop, but not another.  While at the “offending” transmitter site, I was unable to see the other sites from the ARC Plus.  Here is the odd part.  With AutoPilot I can see all the sites.  I get readings and all the good stuff.  With AutoLoad I can see all the sites.  Even at the transmitter site I had to visit I was able to see all the sites.  Why the ARC Plus does not see the others, and the site list is in it, is beyond me.  I have an inquiry to Burk on that one.  I am also going to contact Moseley to delve into a potential issue with the LanLink.  I need something a bit more robust.  A 6 mile shot should not be that difficult.

I can say at least I was busy and not bored.  Mix this with home life and it was quite a week.  I’m glad to be able to sit down and spew this out.  If you have experience with any of the items discussed or have any items you wish to see a discussion, please drop a line, leave a comment, or give a call.  Now let’s see what next week brings!

Cheers!

One Busy Year and a Happy New Year!

December 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Sitting here on the last working day of the year for me and reflecting on the busy year that just occurred and the upcoming year.  I hope the economy improves a bit for the radio industry.  Though we did good by corporate in terms of being able to clear some much needed projects, the operating side needs a bit of economic help as I suspect many of my peers may agree.  Anyways, let’s see what we did this year.

Recently Tweeted events was the RCS NexGen installation.  Not a huge installation, nor a small one.  Let’s say moderate in size at 18 computers and all the fun that goes with installing them.  We met our deadlines having all our stations on the system before the end of the year.  We will continue to work out the little bugs as they pop up.  The most recent bug, as that is the only term I can reference at this moment, is the Export data can only be assigned to a single network.  Our audio servers have 2 NICs (Network Interface Card) to keep NexGen traffic separate from other data and external sources.  Exported data such as RDS, HD PSD, and streaming must be sent out.  We happen to keep our transmitter network separate from house and streaming, and we keep streaming off the house and transmitter networks.  While configuring Export data for a station we are lead to believe you fill in the appropriate information and if TCP/IP one types in the port and IP address of the receive machines.  Well, this works pretty good for the data we send to the transmitter network (RDS and HD PSD), but not so good with the streaming network.  We find that the export data can only feed one NIC.  Ouch!  Next week we decide if we install a basic router or we press the issue with RCS.  Other than little things like this the system appears to be working as advertised.  Now if Programming and Traffic departments can play nice.  The last accomplishment of the RCS install is we are connected for console control and EAS (Sage ENDEC) control via IP.  No GPIO devices are used (for the time being).  Now that is cool.

We installed a new remote control system.  We decided on the Burk ARC Plus system along with various peripherals they provide.  I will say the overall project was a success.  I will also have to say I may want to rethink some of the work I did.  I also must say that 2 ARC Plus units had to be returned for factory repair due to memory corruption of which I updated 3 units to a new firmware version that should take care of this.  I am also going to help Nautel and Burk troubleshoot a SNMP error that is occurring with, between, or something the PlusConnect-NV and the Nautel AUI.  The PlusConnect-NV talks with the AUI (Advanced User Interface) via IP, so I have no more physical relay closures to the remote control, it is all done via IP.  These errors are not causing trouble, but it fills my Burk Event Logs, so it is annoying.  Also, no occasion I will receive a false alarm of an NV output power is below lower limit which is most likely due to the error and time-out of the SNMP request.  This will be interesting to troubleshoot because it is an area I do not normally get to play: SNMP, Agents and Traps.  Another fun time is the network between studio and transmitter sites.  All are slow connections in some way or another.  Part of two sites depend on the Moseley LanLink which I have noticed is not the most reliable, but works.

On the line of Burk and the remote controls, the series of devices help connect many items.  One site has the IIU (Integrated Input Unit) and ICRU (Integrated Command Relay Unit), all sites have at least one Plus-X 300 which is an input/metering/relay box, and a site with 2 PlusConnect-NVs and 2 PlusConnect-HZs.  The PlusConnect-HZ box connects to the Harris Z10 controller board via a serial connection and then talks to the ARC Plus via IP.  Pretty cool on both accounts.  In a way you may say that we are nearly all IP connected in some way or another.

We ran a firmware update of our SAS 32KD and RioLinks before the RCS installation.  We updated all the RioLinks to work via IP.  We also added the capability to change show configuration on the Rubicon consoles.  If that was not enough, the firmware allows us to add silence sense to outputs. With this I plan to wire some alarm statuses to the remote control for various silence events.  Another micro-management and troubleshooting tool.

Early in the year we upgraded our old Nortel PBX phone system to a new Avaya.  This phone system is capable of using digital phones (which made our transition easier) and VOIP.  We will be testing and implementing a bit of this here in the future.  We also took advantage of the Avaya and integrated it with our Telos 2101 Hub.  Now we have in-house extensions in the studios.

We continued to study and test various ways of doing live remote broadcasts.  Verizon 4G LTE has been a live saver in some cases and has been a defacto go-to for other broadcasts.  In all cases we had at least, if not better, a 98% success rate using this method.  We use Tieline Technology codecs and an external 4G router and 4G LTE USB modem.  I won’t mention that Tieline has developed an USB module which we plan on testing for them in the near future.  Speaking of Tieline we decided to purchase the Report-IT application for iPhones and iPads.  We have done a couple of successful long form broadcasts using just an iPad on WiFi.  We plan on future testing of the Mic Adapter and Genie.  Speaking of iPhones, we are using the iPush to get surf reports to our NexGen system.  No more calling in and recording.  Audio quality is much better and the reports are seamlessly inserted in the logs along with beds.

Lastly I want to mention that my Nautel NV20’s were delivered 12/24/2008.  They are 3 years old!

As we wrap up this year, I wish my readers a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

 

 

Wow, We’ve Been Busy

December 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Real quick to catch up. If you have been following my tweets, when I remember to tweet, we have changed automation systems at our facilities. Per corporate request we installed the RCS NexGen (formerly Prophet) system. It was an interesting ordeal from the initial planning to the final results. The bottom line, and to quote the RCS installer, “That was smooth.” It is great to have an awesome staff (only 3 of us) to make this happen. One quick pat on the back here: No GPIO in the installation; we run console control via IP and we also have IP control of our Sage Digital Endec. With IT there (thanks JR) we are sucking in our traffic and surf reports. Shoot the surf report is pushed from the guy’s iPhone! All automatically. We had fun making this stuff up! I will make an effort to blog some details here shortly.

I know, promises, promises. I can only try! Cheers!

Categories: Equipment Tags: , , ,
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