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Posts Tagged ‘Tieline’

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!

Cheers!

Categories: Equipment, IT, Management Tags: , ,

Remote, Live Broadcast, or Tech Fun?

November 16, 2014 Leave a comment

I should start by saying it has been way too long since a post.  Truth be told, it has not been the most exciting, eventful few months for me in the biz.  A lot of little things, but nothing to write home about!  OK, that was pretty bad.  There is one area that received some attention and that was remote broadcast delivery and call ins.  The main equipment are iPads with built-in wireless 4G and docks along with the Tieline Report-IT app.  We deployed three new road cases, each with its own challenge.

As posted in July, the first case built utilized the Alesis I/O Dock.  Designed, or should I say intended, to be used as a personal I/O (input/output) device for the home recording artist using an iPad.  After setup and testing we discovered that the inputs, mic and mic/guitar, were channel independent, i.e. one fed the left channel, the other the right channel.  This is all fine and well if recording on the iPad, but the Report-IT app only recognized the left channel.  Not a big surprise as it was designed to accept a single input, a microphone, which is a mono source.  In development I bet no one said, “No “blank” is going to need anything else.”  To correct this issue, I modified the Alesis, oh no warranty busted, such that the second channel fed the first channel right before the A/D converter that feeds the iPad.  Problem solved and it did not affect the headphone or monitoring feeds.

With the success of number one, the search continued for other alternatives within reason, or lack of budget.  Lo and behold the discovery of the Behringer iStudio iPad dock.  This puppy is less expensive that the Alesis, so what do we have to lose, or gain?  Testing it out I discovered the same problem as the Alesis, only one channel fed the Report-IT app.  Indeed, the Behringer is designed the same way as the Alesis; home recording of two sources to feed independent tracks in a recording app.  Normally vocal and guitar.  Warranty busting again to discover that they use the same A/D chip as Alesis!  I know what to do, and one jumper later, we had another case ready for action.

We were intrigued by the Mackie DL806, so with a little shoveling into the budget, we purchased one.  The Mackie is designed to be a live sound mixer and takes after their VLZ series mixers.  It also requires a bit more configuring for your setup.  If you are familiar with using a Mackie for broadcasts, you will find it is not much different.  Everything gets configured on the iPad, and once configured the hardware will remember the settings.  The added bonus, but adds complexity, is each channel has a gate and compressor setting.  I am still working out the details of how these settings are saved for different shows and environments, so a more in-depth write-up will follow.  Overall it has worked well for us.

The culmination of all this is the installation of two Teline Merlin Plus codecs.  With these we are now capable of handling up to 12 IP broadcasts.  We already had one day which all our stations were out at various times with overlaps.  We are now looking into hardening the IP streams.

All of this was not all without some humps in the road.  I have had a Merlin Plus get into a state where it rejected any connections, yet I was able to connect with the Toolbox and reboot it remotely.  My last use of the Mackie had a hiccup where noise poured out of the headphones and monitor on site.  This looked to be the dock connection with the iPad or the iPad itself.  This is currently under investigation.  In another situation the iPad is setup to use either the wireless or the WiFi connection at the venue.  Apparently something changed something there making the iPad want to connect to the WiFi, but not passing the stream.  The talent was instructed to turn off the WiFi on the iPad.  Well, it looks like training on how to use tablets may be necessary.

Overall we have been quite happy with our arsenal of remote gear.  From traditional codecs to running apps only we have the bases covered.  More training and fine tuning is necessary, but in the long run the PDs are happy as are the air talent.  Now if I can get my hands on a DL1608 or DL32R…..

Our New Remote Broadcast Case

Having worked many live broadcasts for radio I have seen many setups. Our setups have ranged from the complex to the most simple. A wide range for sure. We have broadcasts which require four or more mics down to simple “call-in” type hits using the Tieline Report-IT application. Now we put together something for the simple end such that any air talent can set it up.

What does this remote broadcast case contain?  Here’s the list:

Apple iPad running Tieline Report-IT Enterprise equipped with Verizon 4G LTE wireless
Alesis I/O Dock
Fostex amplified speaker
Presonus headphone amplifier
2 Shure SM58 mics
2 headphones
associated cables and 25′ extension cord.

Remote Setup

Report-IT application running on iPad install in Alesis I/O Dock

The speaker and headphone amp are items we had in house that were either spare or used in other applications that are no longer necessary.  Mr. Bill was along to assist in the setup and make sure everything ran smoothly.  The headphone amp is used just in case of a two person setup, and noted later as an interface to mono the audio feed.  We have found in many cases if the environment is not too noisy a guest does not use, or need, headphones.  It adds additional gain for the deaf air talent, too.  If the air talent does not need the amp, just plug into the headphone output of the I/O Dock.

We did find in another broadcast test that the iPad will smoothly transition between 4G LTE  wireless and WiFi connections.  This was discovered when checking out a new site.  A little added bonus.

After doing an initial broadcast and testing, we discovered that the Alesis I/O Dock is designed around two independent channels.  Input 1 is the left channel and Input 2 is the right channel.  These channels are independent throughout the system with no mixing or mono-button capability.  The Tieline Report-IT application, being a mono or one channel application, only “saw” Channel 1, so a mic plugged into Channel 2 did not feed audio to it.  I voided the warranty.  Since the device only cost us $177, I decided to open it up and modified the I/O Dock.  This first modification, and I have others planned, was to make sure two mics fed the application.  No schematic was available, but I was able to research the chip-sets used and found the AD-DA (Analog to Digital/Digital to Analog) converter chip.  Armed with the pin-outs I used my oscilloscope to trace the signal at that point with the goal of making sure the summing occurred after the pre-amplifiers for the inputs.  I located a convenient locations, soldered in a jumper, and all was good.  An instant mono, or summed, source for the iPad.  This modification does not affect the headphone or main out feed of the I/O Dock, just the feed to the iPad, so each channel is in separate ears of the headphones if plugged directly into the headphone outputs.  The Presonus headphone amp has a mono button on it, so the device acts as a nice interface for the picky talent.  Return audio from the Report-IT application is not affected and feeds both output channels.  I do plan on modifying the modification to included a switch so at a push of a button a mono signal is produced and feeds all outputs.  Where and how to implement this switch is the tricky part as there is not a lot of space to add it to the I/O Dock, but I will find a way.

Another added benefit of this setup is to allow recording on the iPad using either a third party application like WavePad or even the Tieline application for feeds later.  Using WavePad the talent can record and do basic editing, and once complete, email the audio clip back to the studio.  If using Report-IT the talent can record a report and either feed it down the connection or, if FTP is setup, upload to the studio.  We are currently researching ways to incorporate the FTP feature in Report-IT such that we can upload clips with specific file/cart numbers and have them automatically import them into a RCS NexGen log.

Why not just use a mic adapter and Report-IT on a phone or iPad directly?  We do that, too.  In this setup the ease of incorporating two microphones was ideal.  In addition the comfort level of the air talent increases as they have that physical something in front of them.  Some of our staff has embraced this new technology, but others seem to be less forgiving.  As we easy them into it, we make it simple and functional for them.  Soon they will be able to run out with a setup on their own and not think twice of it.  Getting things done.  That ‘s what it is all about.

Alesis makes a product called the I/O Mix which is a 4 channel mixer.  We are looking into that, but this is taking things backwards.  There may be a use for such a setup in the near future.  For a more complex setup, Mackie makes the the DL608 and the DL1608, 8 and 16 channel, mixers for iPad.  These are sweet as they incorporate the features of the Mackie VLZ series of mixers.  I know of a station that uses this setup for their NFL broadcasts.

As the technology and connectivity continues to improve, applications like Tieline’s Report-IT simplifies the ability to provide for quick, live broadcasts, and news gathering.  We are always looking to simplify and utilize emerging tech to our advantage.  The package seen here does not cost that much and the flexibility makes it more desirable.  The elimination of bulky and confusing mixers appeals to air talent and promotions alike.  Improved audio quality for “call-ins” over a standard cell phone call makes us stand out over the competition.

 

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.

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.

 

 

Why We Like Tieline

June 12, 2011 2 comments

In a nutshell: Because they work.  In the last week we had one day, last Sunday, three live broadcasts or some feed via Tieline. One was our weekly show utilizing a POTS connection, one was an extended broadcast utilizing IP through a resort, and one was feeds from a concert utilizing IP via Verizon 4G modem.  Meanwhile a fourth unit was in Mexico ready for a week of morning show broadcasts utilizing IP. Needless to say everything worked just fine with minimal issues.

If that was not enough, we helped a fellow broadcaster stay on the air while tower work occurred at their site. We provided our Aux site for use and we used a Tieline to provide audio from their studios to ours via IP. Once again, all worked just fine.

If you have not noticed, and you have read the trades, audio delivery via IP is our number one choice. We prepared for and accepted the Internet as a viable option, even international. Latency has not been an issue. Quality is quite acceptable and actually superior.  The one caveat is the occasional data hit. This is kept to a minimum with the right combination of data rate and error correction. Of the worst offenders was the resort hotel right in our backyard. Our experience is they have minimal bandwidth shared with many guests. The kicker is the broadcast from Cabo had less errors than the local resort! 

The ease of use and the flexibility of the Tielines keep us on top of our live broadcasts. We are sticklers on quality. We like to tinker with the latest (4G).  We are successful because of it. Our oldest Tieline iMix-3G is coming up to at least 5 or 6 years old now. We work them hard, and we will be working them harder.

Weekly Update: 1/14/2011

January 14, 2011 Leave a comment

I am going to attempt weekly updates with detailed posts on those things of interest.  As most weeks are pretty mundane, weekly recaps seem to be the best.  This week is no exception with the added twist of politics and a day with LTE.

The daily grind stuff is like an ATS (automatic transfer switch) service at the transmitter site.  I discovered that it was not switching back to commercial power once restored.  I sent the model number and pictures to the company that does the service; they send a tech who did not know the model number or device he was to work on until he saw it.  He determined it is a bad timing relay, and of course it needs to be ordered.  Part two of the service comes when the part comes in.

The FUN, yes capitalized, was our day with Verizon (lunch), and the USB LTE (4G to those who like buzz words and terms) device and prototype LTE router.  After we got back from lunch we jumped on the test bench and connected our Tieline Field Unit to the router.  We ran wirelessly at 192kbps!  With 3G we were only capable of 33.6 to 38kbps reliably.  Now that is an improvement.  The item I noticed right off was the latency when locked in was 60ms!  With 3G we saw a wandering latency from 500ms to over 1sec!  We saw upload speeds approaching 5Mbps and downloads at 12Mbps.  Now I must add that no one is really on the LTE network, but we were impressed.  The one thing we did notice as we were testing within the confines of the building that as I moved near the antenna of the device we experienced some data hits.  So, the speeds are there, you just need reliable reception to maintain.  I bet outside without any interfering factors will make this thing fly real well.  With a little tweaking of the pre-correction, I foresee some good times.  Tieline:  Create a way to connect this device directly to a USB port and you have a winner right now.

The political game of business is always fun.  I do not take kindly to threats; yet, the third-party company is known to play this way.  I kissed and made up with the part that is actually doing the work.  It involves and STL move/change.  I am wary of the 5dBm margin calculated by Comsearch.  If they are a true engineering company this would concern them, too, but I suspect anything that comes under 0dBm of interference passes in their book.  I do have the word that the installing party will correct any issues, so we are all playing nice.  In our crowded microwave market, and whose isn’t, we try to play as nice as possible.

Next week a little trenching and routine work.  Soon some Nautel NV modifications (with full reports) and maybe some thoughts on processing.  Have a great weekend!

Categories: Equipment, Management Tags: , , ,
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