EAS Equipment Update for 2011 National EAS Test

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EAS Equipment Update for 2011 National EAS Test

Sep 1, 2011 7:22 PM, By Barry Thomas, CPBE CBNT

Washington - Sep 1, 2011 - FEMA held a webinar on Sept. 1 to cover equipment operation for the national EAS test on Nov. 9, 2011. One common question relates to CAP and the national test. As it was previously announced, the national EAS test will not carry a CAP message. The message will use only the existing EAS. The message will take the following path:

White House ? FEMA ? PEP Stations ? EAS Stations

The test will use the Washington, DC, FIPS code (11001) because there is no official "all U.S." FIPS code. There are plans to add a 000000 FIPS code for this purpose, but it cannot be implemented now.

Questions have been raised if the alert will be forwarded by existing EAS equipment with the DC FIPS code. The manufacturers on the webinar provided the following replies:

  • Monroe (Digital Alert Systems): Units will forward in Automatic or Manual mode
  • Gorman Redlich: Confirmed units it will forward in Automatic mode
  • TFT: Confirmed units will forward in Auto mode but not Manual mode.
  • Sage: Confirmed units will automatically forward (auto or manual after time-out), but on older units it's easy to change the EAN filter. Sage will post a whitepaper on its site so users can confirm settings.
  • Trilithic: Confirmed that even 6.3 software will forward the DC EAN. There are, however specific menu settings that can alter how it will handle all EANs. Trilithic will post details on its website. The audio from the EAN will propagate like the audio in a required monthly test (RMT). The message will likely expire after 30 minutes.Audio will start as a live audio message at the White House. It will not be the president. The audio message will last approximately 2.5 minutes. While a real message could be any length, FEMA wasnts to get a feel for the amount of audio memory. FEMA also wants get an idea of what the station-to-station delay may be. The goal is to have all stations airing the message at the same time.Stations were cautioned to ensure that their audio memory buffers can store a full 2.5-minute message.One point that was stressed: Stations should not follow their state or local operating handbooks. It was noted that many handbooks are potentially inaccurate and/or out of date. Stations should follow the specific instructions from FEMA for this test, which will include a checklist that will be released Oct. 3, 2011.In the Puerto Rico test last week the text rolls ran across TV screens only once. There was a discussion of character generator behavior vs EAS encoder/decoder behavior. Many encoder/decoders send the text message once to the character generator and rely on the character generator to handle repeats, color, position and other parameters. Some EAS encoder/decoders (Sage, for example), repeat the message but the character generator handles everything else.Because the Nov. 9 test will be a live code EAS test, the text crawl will not show that this will be a test. Only the audio message will say that this will be a test. The organizers are trying to work on visual elements that will offset the "live code" message that will be in the crawl, for example on cable systems.NOAA/NWR will not carry the EAN. It will go to PEP stations only. FEMA is working with NPR station to be an optional source.On the webinar, manufacturers were asked what information they will have available for users of their devices.
  • Digital Alert Systems will have a National Test Application Notes and a Test Guide on its website.
  • Trilithic will post information on how to prepare.
  • Gorman Redlich says to put its units in auto and go.
  • TFT recommends temporarily putting TFT units in auto mode to avoid problems.
  • Sage will have a service bulletin section on the FAQ pages of its website. According to FEMA tests from its labs, there are no foreseen problems with these devices. FEMA is testing with Hollyanne and Burk and will provide details later.The next FEMA EAS webinars will be held Sept. 30 and Oct. 13.