Field Report: Sage Alerting Systems Digital Endec

May 1, 2010

With the imminent approval of the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), our Olean, NY, and Elmira/Corning, NY, markets decided to take advantage of the newer EAS/CAP hardware available and be ready when CAP is approved. We chose the Sage Digital Endec. The stations in these markets already used the original Sage Endecs and felt very comfortable with the look and feel of the new Digital Endec. The Digital Endec touts downward compatibility by using all the interfaces the original Endec had along with the ability to use legacy external accessories such as the Multi Station Relay Panels and remote control units. This spells ease of installation. Sage will also provide a free software update to allow users to download and field-install support for the final FEMA/FCC approved version of CAP 1.2, expected in September 2010. The software will support CAP 1.1 and 1.2.

What's new?

Other than the shiny new blue color, one glaring and very welcome change to the front of the Digital Endec is that there is no thermal printer. The thermal printer was fine in its time, and to say nothing less, it was a way of logging sent and received alerts. However, saving all those cash-register-type receipts was starting to get old. Although the original Endec could connect to an RS-232 serial printer in lieu of the thermal printer (and many opted for this when their thermal printers burned their last receipts), serial printers are scarce today. Sage has provided for either a USB or network-attached printer. Support has been built into the unit for HP printers. However, a serial printer can still be connected to one of the available com ports.

Performance at a glance
Ethernet, USB, and GPIO connections
AES3 digital audio interrupt
64MB onboard log storage
Accepts USB memory sticks for alert audio storage
Supports CAP

Other notable updates: The mic-in jack in the front of the unit has been changed to a 3.5mm connector and a Digital Audio Lock indicator for AES audio has been added.

On the back, all the usual connections found on the 1822 Endec exist: The analog audio XLR connectors, five com ports and the 20-pin connector to monitor audio, relay connections, line/speaker out/in, encoder in audio and ground. The 20-pin connector is pin-for-pin the same as the model 1822, which makes it easy to insert a Digital Endec in place of an analog unit.

There are some good additions: Four additional GPIO connections for controlling different aspects of the Digital Endec with closures, a fourth relay connection, AES audio in and out, 10/100 LAN Ethernet connector, and two USB connectors.

The magic inside

If you currently use the EndecSet program, download the new EndecSetD software to program the device from a PC. Sage plans to provide the ability to update the settings file from the old EnedcSet to the new EndecSetD. E-mail notifications of occurred events such as sent and received alerts, loss of audio on a monitor input, or an Endec restart are created in the EndecSetD software. The e-mail events option can be configured for standard or encrypted mail servers. One important item worth mentioning about the e-mail option is that if your e-mail server requires the from e-mail address to be authenticated, an e-mail account for the Digital Endec must be created on the e-mail server. The Digital Endec creates the from e-mail address using the call sign or group ID field, and adds an -ENDEC to the end of it. The resulting field will look like this:

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If e-mail is not your thing, you can create status files sent to an FTP server for automatic logging, or the option is available to do e-mail and FTP for that added secure feeling. The EndecSetD software is also used to configure the IP address of a network-attached printer. If a network printer is used, be sure that the Digital Endec is configured for no printer, otherwise it will try to print to a USB printer regardless. The Sage website has a list of compatible HP printers that can be used with the Digital Endec.

Boasting a Web-based interface with HTTPS/SSL encryption, all settings and functions can be performed using this internal Web server. Alerts can be initiated or forwarded, and configurations of the unit can be changed remotely. From the Web server, text send and received logs can be accessed and printed and audio logs can be listened to. Checking the six monitor audio sources is no problem from a remote location as it has a built-in audio stream encoder. One other handy option is the visual indication of monitor audio level via the Web server. You must download the SetupVU.exe software and run it to install the ActiveX control for a Web browser. Audio levels can also be viewed and monitored from the device's front-panel display.

Common Alerting Protocol

When CAP is approved, the Digital Endec will use the LAN connection to receive CAP alerts. CAP support includes the ability to generate an EAS alert based on the data in the CAP message. It will also receive audio or generate audio utilizing its internal text-speech software from the CAP message and then send an EAS alert based on the received data. As previously mentioned, Sage will provide a free software update to allow users to download and field-install support for the final FEMA/FCC approved version of CAP 1.2.

Sage Alerting

All in all, the changes from the legacy Endec to the Digital Endec are most welcomed. Given the advent of the Internet, the internal Web server makes managing EAS a snap. And the direct plug-in replacement makes upgrading from an original Endec to a Digital Endec simple.

Atkins is vice president/director of engineering for Backyard Broadcasting, Buffalo, NY.

Editor's note: Field Reports are an exclusive Radio magazine feature for radio broadcasters. Each report is prepared by well-qualified staff at a radio station, production facility or consulting company.

These reports are performed by the industry, for the industry. Manufacturer support is limited to providing loan equipment and to aiding the author if requested.

It is the responsibility of Radio magazine to publish the results of any device tested, positive or negative. No report should be considered an endorsement or disapproval by Radio magazine.

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