Oceanic Air Traffic Control on 5600 LSB

OATC1

On January 26th of 2013 I came across some HF ATC (Air Traffic Control) traffic on 5600 LSB.  It was interesting to listen to and it sounded like the ATC controller was in or around New York from what I could tell of her accent.   I did a little research and could not find the frequency but I did find out what the tones that accompanied the transmission were.  According to “RonR” at LiveATC.net the tones are called “Sel Call.” That set of tones are used to call a specific aircraft operating in the HF bands in oceanic airspace.  The tones are specific for each aircraft.  The communication system on the aircraft records the tones to memory and then if ATC is calling using their tones they are alerted to the call.  If they did not have the tones then the pilots would have to constantly monitor the frequency.  I have included in this post about five minutes of the audio I recorded.  It is interesting to listen to.  I have also included some links HF ATC frequencies.

 

HF (Shortwave) Oceanic ATC Feeds – From LiveATC.net

TRANS OCEAN AIRCRAFT FREQUENCIES – World Wide HF and VHF/UHF Aircraft Communications Listening

Aviation Week Article on Oceanic ATC

Statistics recorded with Counterize - Version 3.1.4

Tagged with: , , ,

The Importance of Backing Up – Review of Backblaze Offsite Backup

 

logo-backblaze-big

I ask this question more often than I like when I am meeting new clients. “Did you back up your data?”  Often I meet people for the first time after they have a technology disaster and lose their data.  With so many people taking digital pictures and saving them on their PC the potential for lost memories and other important data increases every day.  You purchase an external hard drive and back your computer that way.  However you run into the problem.  If something bad happens to your home or office and you lose not only your computer but your back up hard drive as well!  That is why it is important to have an offsite back up of your data.

There are is a growing number of services out there that provide offsite back up.  Of those services I recommend using Backblaze.  I have used their services for over three years now and I have recommended them to my family and my clients.  One service that Backblaze provides its customers is the ability to restore individual files wherever you are.  If your computer is off and you are across the country and need a file from your PC you can log in to Backblaze and retrieve the file you need!  Backblaze is safe and secure and they are who I trust to handle my off site backups.  They even offer an iPhone application.  Backblaze works great on your MAC or Windows PC.  To find out more about Backblaze and their service go to their website, www.backblaze.com.  You will be glad you did.

protect-your-past-728x90

 

Statistics recorded with Counterize - Version 3.1.4

Tagged with: , ,

Comcast Kills ClearQAM in the Metro Richmond, VA Market

comcast-xfinity

It was last year when Comcast said they would eliminate their ClearQAM offerings of basic and OTA channels.  (See this article HERE for example.) It looks like that has come to pass in the Metro Richmond area.  Not too long ago you could get the History Channel and other staple basic cable offerings as well as the local OTA channels in the Metro Richmond market from Comcast over ClearQAM.  The basic cable offerings have disappeared within the last six months on their ClearQAM service leaving only the local OTA channels.  Now within the last two weeks the local OTA channels have disappeared from Comcast’s Metro Richmond ClearQAM offerings.  (See the images below)   Now if you don’t get a box or CableCARD from Comcast you can’t use their TV service at all!

Required equipment rental fees for cable boxes and CableCARD’s along with the fee for subscribed channels make cable TV from Comcast and other providers less of a value to the consumer.  The pay TV sphere seems to have more junk then useful content.  All the more reason to cut the cord.

 

Before

Before Comcast Removed ClearQAM OTA in Metro Richmond – Scanned around 7-1-2014

After Comcast Removed ClearQAM OTA in Metro Richmond - Scanned 7-16-2014

After Comcast Removed ClearQAM OTA in Metro Richmond – Scanned 7-16-2014

 

 

Statistics recorded with Counterize - Version 3.1.4

 

Tagged with: , , , ,

My Cat Transfixed By The Google World Cup 2014 Doodle

Kitten Digs The Google Doodle

The US is doing well in the World Cup 2014 tournament from what I hear.  We beat Ghana yesterday.  But Soccer is not my sport of choice.  However my cat seems to be transfixed by the Google Doodle for The 2014 World Cup tournament.  As sad as this may sound this is the most enjoyment I have ever gotten out of soccer.  The cat looks about as excited as I get about soccer.  See the video below.

Statistics recorded with Counterize - Version 3.1.4

Tagged with: , , , ,

Deploying RDS on a Budget – Review of the Inovonics 703 INOmini RDS Encoder

703 Front

Inovonics 703 INOmini RDS Encoder

 

It is hard in the independent non-profit radio spear to keep current with technology.  Even staying current with technology that has been around for a while.  RDS is one of those technologies that many of those stations do without due to cost and the ability to afford the technical expertise to deploy it.  Inovonics has made things a little easier for broadcasters on a budget.  You can now purchase their 703 INOmini RDS Encoder for less than $500.  Inovonics list the 703 INOmini at around $590.  However you can find it at broadcast supply outlets like BSW for around $489 with free shipping.

When our Inovonics 703 INOmini RDS Encoder arrived at the station it didn’t come with much.  Essentially just the unit, power supply, basic instruction manual, and the PC software.  I loaded the software and USB driver on a pc and plugged in the USB cable to the 703 and powered it  on.  It was very easy to program.  Everything is laid out in a clear straight forward manner that leaves no question in your mind as to what is what.  This inexpensive RDS encoder also supports the Alternative Frequencies function of the RDS format.  I was able to select our translator frequencies without any issue what so ever.  It can actually support as many as 25 alternative frequencies.  This unit does not support input from automation systems.  It is designed to identify your station by format, display the “street name” or “imaging name” of the station, and with the radio text it will transmit whatever marketing or promo message you want.

RDS

Live view of the RDS software.

Not all RDS enabled radios are created equal.  Some will just show the scrolling-PS message.  Some will show the PS and the radio text.  You have to keep that in mind when programming it.  That way you can get the most information out there that all radios with RDS can see.  It took a little experimentation on my part to get it just right so the message displayed was complete and coherent regardless of the configuration of the RDS enabled receiver.  All RDS enabled radios display the scrolling-PS message.  You have up to 128 charters to use there.  If you use the 128th character space that will scroll right into the 1st character space and may distort your message.  Sometimes with radio text the RDS enabled radio may just show the first part of the 64 characters or it may scroll the whole message.  You will need to keep that in mind when you are laying out your text.

(Sample Results Using Gif Files.  Click on the image thumbnail to see the active gif. )

JVC_RDS

JVC Aftermarket Radio w/RDS (PS-Scrolling Text Only)

703_gif

Gif of the 703 Showing the text going out.

Fusion_RDS_Factory Radio

Ford Fusion Factory Radio w/RDS (PS-Scrolling Text and Radio Text)

 

Often with small stations the engineer is not always available because he/she is a contractor more than likely.  However, installing the unit is fairly easy.  If you are not comfortable doing it without an engineer present I would recommend you get your engineer involved.  If you have the expertise to do it then you are good to go and it will take no time to get it deployed.  You can’t put this unit in line with your exciter or stereo generator.  It does not pass the 19kHZ SYNC or MPX sample through the unit to the RDS output.  However you can get a sample from a secondary output on your OPTIMOD or similar unit.  You can also pull it from the sample output on most transmitters.  That is what I had to do in my installation.  The unit itself uses standard BNC connections.

The station I deployed this unit on uses a QEI Quantum E Series FM Transmitter.  I was able to get a sample for the RDS unit by splitting the J2 audio output on the back of the transmitter.  I returned the RDS output to the J3 SCA input on the transmitter.  I then used my Grundig G3 radio to check the RDS output and see if it was making its way out of the transmitter.  And I was glad to see that it was.  At that point I was sitting maybe 40 feet below the transmitting antenna.  (The tower sits atop a six story building and the transmitter is on the sixth floor in a secured area of the building.)  At this point I had made no adjustments to the RDS injection levels.  And with the current configuration I did not have a way to get an accurate read of them.

I then traveled down to the parking lot and got in my car.  The radio in the car was showing the PS-Scrolling Text and the first portion of the Radio Text.  I began to travel away from the station and transmitter.  When I got about ½ mile away I started losing the RDS.  I increased the injection level.  I was able to receive the RDS for a few miles from the transmitter and then lost it.  I adjusted it some more and was able to get it to match the contour of the station for the most part.  So near the edge of the contour of the stations pattern at the point where you lose stereo lock is about the same point you lose RDS.  Essentially it should work within the same range as a station’s HD sub carrier would.  I still need to borrow a frequency analyzer and check my work.  However, the RDS is performing as if it is properly configured but still it is best to check it out.

For a station on a budget RDS is a good thing to have.  RDS helps get your message out there.  RDS is great especially for a listener with a short attention span.  If they see the RDS text on their radio during a break they are more likely to stick around and listen to the music because they have a better understanding about where they landed.  In the market I am in we have a high influx of tourists during the summer.  We have our website as part of the PS-scrolling text and the Radio Text.  We have picked up many web listeners from their summer visits.  It is our hope that visitors will see our website on the RDS and steer their smart phones and home PC’s to our stream as well.  Every listener counts.

 

Statistics recorded with Counterize - Version 3.1.4

Tagged with: , , , , , ,

It’s time to Reset The Net

Click on the picture below to find out more information.

RESET THE NET

 

Statistics recorded with Counterize - Version 3.1.4

Help Fund Reading Rainbow for the Next Generation

Reading Rainbow Kickstarter - LeVar Burton

Reading Rainbow Kickstarter – LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton, the host of the PBS program Reading Rainbow, has started a Kickstarter campaign. He has ambitious and noble goals in mind as well. Burton wants to “bring Reading Rainbow back for every child, everywhere. And “you don’t have to take my word for it!!!” In a video that lasts just over six minuets Burton lays out his vision for the project with a little humor in it as well. Star Trek: The Next Generation fans will get a kick out of the last part of the video for sure. In a nutshell he accurately states that the 30-min educational TV show format for kids is essentially dead. For programs like Reading Rainbow to work today it needs to be delivered in such a way that kids can access and enjoy it. Mainly through the internet on the PC and Tablet. Also the program can reach many through the classroom in such a way that it strengthens the classroom curriculum with resources for teachers to use along with it. Burton wants that to be free for every classroom with this project.

In this day and age there does not seem to be many things that are worth getting behind. I think this is and I plan on supporting it. Turns out I am not alone. As of this writing the goal has been exceeded by over 1.4 million dollars. I think that is fantastic. I also believe that if something like this had 10 million or even 50 millions dollars invested in that so many great things could be achieved. Imagine if someone like former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer invested five million dollars into the project. Ballmer can afford it. He just purchased the LA Clippers NBA basketball team for 2 billion dollars.

I believe that as a people we should invest in what would be good for all…even if you don’t receive a direct benefit. I guess in truth things like Reading Rainbow make this world a better place and that is a direct benefit for all. I enjoyed watching it when I was a kid in the eighties. I am sure there were kids who learned to love to read because of it. I think kids should put down the video game controller and read more books. I certainly don’t think that is old fashioned. One of LeVar Burton’s earliest roles that brought him great critical acclaim was as Kunta Kinte.  He played this character in the mini-series “Roots” based on the book by Alex Haley called “Roots: The Saga of an American Family.” A good book helped start LeVar Burton’s career. In part a book is what helped propel him to be the host of Reading Rainbow where he could share the joy of reading with others. I encourage you to support this Kickstarter campaign and help make the world a more enlightened and better place.

View the Kickstarter Page and Video By Clicking Here

Statistics recorded with Counterize - Version 3.1.4

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Product Review: Ambient Weather WS-10 Wireless Indoor/Outdoor 8-Channel Thermo-Hygrometer with Min/Max and Alarm

Ambient Weather’s WS-10 8-channel Wireless Thermo-Hygrometer packs in a lot of features for a very affordable price. The display console comes with three indoor/outdoor thermo-hygrometer transmitters (F007TH) that work with other Ambient Weather products as well. The included instructions made it very easy to set everything up. The wireless thermo-hygrometers have dip switches in the battery compartment that allow you to set the channel for each sensor. There is a simple to use chart in the manual that clearly shows you the dip switch positions for each channel. The display unit syncs up quickly and it is easy to read. I also found the build quality to be a little better than most units available at this price.

Initially, I kept the display unit and wireless sensors in the same room within 6 inches of each other. I also had a fan blowing on them, so the air temperature would be consistent. I found the sensors detected the temperature within the documented +/- 1 degree Fahrenheit. Likewise, the humidity readings also fell within the documented +/- 5% deviation.
I moved one of the wireless thermo-hygrometers inside a Humidity Solar Radiation shield (Ambient Weather SRS100LX) that is outside on a 20 ft. pole. I then put the other two provided thermo-hygrometers in my attic and in my garage. The wireless thermo-hygrometer that I put outside performed on par with my Oregon Scientific THGR810 wireless thermo-hygrometer. The temperature was within +/- .4 degrees Fahrenheit between the Ambient Weather sensor and the Oregon Scientific sensor. The Ambient Weather sensor was located about 65ft away and I did not have any reception problems.

The unit I put in the garage was also used for sensor range testing. The display unit is located in the front of my home. I have roughly about 550 feet of clear line of sight down an adjacent street from my home. I took the sensor and tested at approximately 50 ft. intervals. I found that I began to have some trouble picking up the signal from the unit at around 250 ft. I pulled the unit I had placed in my attic and repeated the test. I got the same results. I got occasional readings from as far as 350 feet. If the units were in a large open space and elevated about 10 ft or so, I believe they would work consistently at a range of 300 ft and maybe distances slightly greater than that. Also, if there are sources of RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) at or near 433mhz, those RFI sources could affect the range of the units. Sometimes RFI has a big impact on devices such as wireless thermometers or anything using radio to communicate. Wireless networks and cordless phones are also greatly impacted by RFI. This is especially true in densely populated areas.

I am very impressed with this unit. It is hard to find any kind of quality electronic equipment at the WS-10‘s price point. The average home owner would find it useful in its stock configuration to monitor different environments within the home. I can see this unit being very useful in the commercial realm as well. For example, a small convenience store can easily monitor the temperatures in their coolers in one convenient place. If you had multiple buildings within close proximity, you could monitor the environmental conditions within. Overall, this a good quality unit that will prove to be useful in almost any setting.

Statistics recorded with Counterize - Version 3.1.4

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Weighted Mean Score Excel Spreadsheet

I am subjecting myself to taking statistics during the summer semester.  In truth, I have put this class off for almost 20 years.  To finish my degree I must take this class…and pass it.  Statistically speaking you have a better chance of graduating if you pass the class.  I am not an Excel wiz nor a TI-84 wiz.  Two skills I am told would greatly assist me in passing the class without having to do all the number crunching the hard way.  I have done searches for ready made templates for elementary statistics and I can’t really find any.  There are some out there.  There are some that the formulas don’t work correctly in.  So I figured if I use a spreadsheet to assist me in my studies I will create it.  I also resolved to share it with the world so I could help folks like me.  I know I am not the only one who could use an Excel spreadsheet corresponding to the section of statistics I and others are studying.   Please don’t ask me complicated Excel programming questions because I won’t be able to answer them.  If you want to share a resource with me please do so.   I will try to put everything in a single place so it will be easier for others to find those resources.

The first spreadsheet I created is a basic one.  It is for calculating the Weighted Mean Score.  You can download it from the link below.  Best of luck on your statistics quest.  Say a prayer for me.

 

Weighted Mean Score

weighted average

Statistics recorded with Counterize - Version 3.1.4

Tagged with: , , ,

The Most Obvious Place To Fly A Kite Is Around Power Lines

No Kite Flying Near Power Lines

No Kite Flying Near Power Lines

 

I was in Rockwood Park in Chesterfield Co., VA today and saw this sign as I was walking through.  I wondered to myself…”You really have to tell people that?”  Or is Chesterfield County afraid they will be sued if someone electrocuted themselves if they didn’t have a sign.  This picture will be my first post in the “Things that Make You Wonder How Dumb Society is Getting” category.  I can see a Gary Larson Far Side cartoon showing someone flying a kite by power lines.

Don't Fly Kites Near Power Lines_2

Statistics recorded with Counterize - Version 3.1.4

Top
%d bloggers like this: