Weekly Tech Reminders: Cold, 5G and More

An excerpt from this week’s Monday Morning Coffee and Technical Notes
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The following is from the�Alabama Broadcasters Association�s�weekly e-newsletter, Monday Morning Coffee and Technical Notes. Thanks to ABA�s Larry Wilkins. To subscribe to the newsletter, email�lwilkins@al-ba.com.


It doesn't take a meteorologist to tell you it is cold outside. Temperatures have been well below freezing around the country for the last several weeks. But remember those temps are at ground level.....what about your antenna which is much higher, sometimes 1000 feet or more in the air!

FM antennas have a habit of turning into a giant Popsicle on these cold nights. Stations up north most often have ice protection on their antennas, but folks in the south (where it has been below freezing lately) have no protection. Make sure you watch the VSWR on the transmission line and antenna. In addition all overload settings and interlocks should be in proper operation. The picture above could be very costly in repairs.


AT&T and Verizon's pre-5G is coming this year, with broad deployment in 2019. The schedule was previously set for 2019-2020, but carriers and equipment manufacturers figured out an accelerated schedule earlier this year.

This is in line with Qualcomm's 5G modem family announcements. The big chipmaker said that its Snapdragon mobile platform will support 5G in 2019. Snapdragon chips are the most popular platform for US smartphones, so you're likely to see 5G, VR-capable smartphones in 2019.


We encourage engineers to add to their routine maintenance schedule, checking the audio quality and level of the two required monitor sources on their EAS equipment. Just because the EAS log indicates that it received a test or alert from a source does not mean it was of re-broadcast quality.

Listen to the audio on your EAS unit and checked the level. Check your equipment manual for the correct level requirements. If the quality is not acceptable then go the monitor source device and make any necessary adjustments. If you find that you are unable to receive an assigned source correctly, you should contact your SECC or State Broadcast Association for an alternate source.


We are all aware that because of the television system re-pack, over half of the frequencies now available for wireless devices (microphones, IFB, etc.) will no longer be usable when the repack is completed. Even now as broadband users begin to activate new systems around the country; these frequencies are no longer usable. Not only are broadcasters effected but schools, churches, theaters and other users will be impacted by the loss of the upper UHF band.

Now is the time to take an inventory of all your wireless gear and see which ones will be affected. Simply put, the top end of the usable UHF band for wireless system is now at 608 mHz.

Also because of the move of television stations from the upper channels to below channel 37, the available spectrum is getting crowded. Contact your wireless equipment dealers for more complete information about frequencies in your area.


Don't forget that all radio stations are required to transistion their public files to the FCC hosted web site no later than March 1, 2018. This is a rather "painless," procedure if you plan ahead.

A special program will be presented at the Montgomery SBE meeting Thursday January 11th with a live demonstration of the procedure. The meeting is held at Country BBQ on Atlanta Highway starting at 11:45 a.m.

Plans are underway to produce a webinar that will be posted on the ABA YouTube channel shortly. Stay tuned for more information.


Engineers that worked in radio during the �70s and �80s (especially with pop formats) remember the synthesized sounds under vocals. Most notable like Phil Collins� �In the Air Tonight.� This effect was created by a Vocoder, which oddly enough was developed by Bell Labs as a method of reducing the bandwidth of a vocal signal, as a way to reduce cost for expensive transatlantic copper cables.

Over the years the Vocoder has found its way into the mix studio. It is a most interesting technical operation. Ian Vargo an audio professor in Los Angeles wrote an interesting article about how it works.