Periodically we’ve been known to send EDMs (electronic direct mail) to tell our members and others what’s happening.
If you missed one, maybe it’s here in the repository.
Check it out.
Periodically we’ve been known to send EDMs (electronic direct mail) to tell our members and others what’s happening.
If you missed one, maybe it’s here in the repository.
Check it out.
At the December Committee meeting, the Technorama Board appointed Hannah Murray to a casual vacancy on the Board. Many of you will know Hannah from her current role at the CMTO, and her previous role at the CBAA. As well as being steeped in technology, she comes with a wealth of experience in radio, music and event management, and is a passionate devotee of Klezmer. You can read about Hannah in her bio entry on the Board page.
For Technorama, Hannah will take on management of the highly successful Technorama Tuesdays webinar program for 2020, and is busy already mapping out next year’s series of events.
Hannah also joins the TR20 Local Arrangements Committee, working with Josh Pearson and the team to select the venue and then deliver the TR20 event.
We also bid a temporary adieu to Julie Spencer who is taking a sabbatical. Julie will return to active service with Technorama next year.
This month’s Technorama Tuesdays Webinar is another geek-mode episode. We talk detail and answer your tough questions. This time: links, and how to get the best out of them. Whether you’re connecting an OB, or feeding program to the transmitter, we have some interesting answers.
This one is for technologists and people who want to get into the weeds or ask the super-technical questions. As always, we also welcome managers, programmers, presenters, and anyone who is responsible for keeping the automation system sounding good.
What will we cover?
In this free 1-hr online learning experience you’ll:
This Technorama Training Tuesday webinar will be presented by Mike Tobin and will be moderated by John Maizels. Plus a team of experts waiting in the wings.
Tuesday 30 April 2019 at 18:30 (that’s 6:30PM) Australian Eastern Standard Time.
Nothing more than an hour of your time on a Tuesday night.
Check out this story here on the truth about changes to the 850MHz SOB blocks.
Read this article about the 850MHz Restack.
Technorama Tuesdays is an initiative of Technorama Incorporated, and is supported by the Community Media Training Organisation.
The rumours persist, and keep coming round. Let’s do our best to unmuddy the waters.
Let’s start by dispelling the rumours. FM link technology is not dead in Australia, and won’t go away any time soon. There is spectrum available for Studio-Transmitter Links (STLs) and Sound Outside Broadcast (SOB) links, and licences are being issued. To correctly quote Mark Twain, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”
Most of our community is aware that some segments of the UHF band have been repurposed. Some of this, notably 809-824 MHz paired with 854-869 MHz, has been allocated to mobile broadband.
Also repurposed was the block from 849-852 MHz, traditionally used for STLs and SOBs. This spectrum was made available for two-frequency fixed links and land mobile services, and many of these services have been moved in from other parts of the band.
Taking a high-wide view, it’s hard to argue with these reallocations. Anyone who has applied for a two-way handheld service, or who is reading this page on a phone, might well be benefiting from the changes. It might even be you, right now.
Consolidation of services previously using the STL/SOB block has advantages. It’s like Spectrum Tetris: after the dust has settled, the remaining spectrum will be able to be managed more effectively. In most cases (especially where there were empty channels) existing licensees have been moved into the lower segment of the band transparently. Some stations took the opportunity to move from analogue FM links to class-licensed digital links. Other stations opted to stay in the STL/SOB block.
Despite some very good messaging from the regulator (and notwithstanding open publication of a clear long-term view, which is worth a read), many of our members are still confused about what they might do, what they must do, and whether they need to do anything at all.
So let’s answer a few questions, like: what’s the current status of the 850MHz restack? Are licenses still being issued? Is it sensible to replace an existing FM link with another one? Do all stations have to go digital?
The ACMA has been very helpful, and gave Technorama an update on 23 April 2019. Quotes from this document are in red-violet.
TR comment: this applies to existing users of the upper part of the band, the part that was sold to Telcos. It doesn’t apply to the lower segment of the band (845-849 MHz). If you’re operating there, you are protected. You can expect an existing licence to be renewable, and you may replace your equipment.
TR comment: if you’re there, you’re there. However if you’re not there already, just be aware that Embargo 64 was put in place to give existing users a measure of protection from potential users who have come to the party late. It doesn’t mean you won’t be allowed to jump on board.
Some of the negative press might have come from misreading of the Embargo. For instance, there are statements in Embargo 64 which indicate very clearly that existing apparatus licences in segments of the 800MHz band will not be renewed beyond defined dates. However the Embargo also states quite specifically:
This embargo does not apply to Sound outside Broadcast (SOB) assignments in the frequency band 845-850.5 MHz
Any applications for case-by-case exemptions are to be referred to the Manager, Spectrum Planning Section for consideration.
Clear message: read the strategy document!
Exactly what it says. Administering multiple documents gets messy over time, and is simplified when all of the rules and regulations are put in the one place.
If you believe that an FM link is the way to go for your station, and you don’t have a licence currently, you may apply for one. Exceptions may be made to the Embargo on a case-by-case basis, once the request is known, understood, and assessed.
If you’d like more advice on this topic, check out the Technorama Q&A Facebook Group. There are many people there who have successfully implemented FM links, and who would be happy to provide information.
Once again we’ve been able to offer young, female, and gender non-conforming people an opportunity to apply for the Represent! Bursary, and show how inclusive a group of technologists can be. The Bursary aims to improve the age and gender diversity imbalance that exists in the typical Technologist demographic, and allows an awardee to attend Technorama 2019 by covering all the costs. The Bursary is awarded through a merit-based assessment.
TR19 is very pleased to announce this year’s eight recipients and welcome as our guests:
A Totally Women Powered Radio project run by Radio Adelaide’s student radio in 1996 got Nikki hooked on radio. Since then she’s fed her audio addiction and been on a steep learning curve by doing a bit of everything: from music, art and political programs, to OBs, training, scheduling, IT and broadcast maintenance. Now, as People and Program Manager, she is a professional multi-tasker and trouble-shooter. In her spare time Nikki works as a Trainer for the CMTO and mentor for the National Features and Documentary Series, and loves sharing her knowledge and enthusing new people into the creative world of community radio. Nikki is also Secretary for the South Australian Community Broadcasting Association supporting 32 member stations across SA.
Charlotte is a community broadcaster, trainer and researcher with over 25 years of designing radio projects alongside diverse communities, primarily focusing on prisoner radio development across Australia and the UK. She is the current President of the SA Community Broadcasters Association, presents a weekly music show on sub-metro station WOWfm, and recently began coordinating a national sector development project with the CMTO.
Roz is the Station Manager at 7TYG, which covers the Derwent Valley in regional southern Tasmania. Roz has been with the station since its inception in 2009 in various roles, including technical support, and has been station manager since March 2012. 7TYG is moving and upgrading their transmission site this year and Roz is excited to attend TR19 to get a handle on all aspects of managing the logistical and technical aspects of the move.
Gemma is an experienced radio presenter and producer, having worked on the national CBAA Award winning show “Breaking Bands” for the past 4 years. She volunteers at her local radio station, 2RRR, and has recently participated in their Tech Blitz with Technorama. Gemma studied Music Production at UNSW, and has recorded and mixed for local bands.
Nathan volunteers at Radio 1RPH Canberra to assist with their IT needs which has included migrating the primary internet connection to the NBN. By day he is an ICT Network engineer. Nathan has been working in the public service for 3 years, having completed his Bachelor of Computer Systems and the Australian Government ICT Graduate program.
Declan is a volunteer for PBS 106.7FM in Melbourne. Having formally studied Audio Engineering, Declan is now completing his Advanced Diploma in Electronics and Communications Engineering to fully round out his passion for community radio and to be able to contribute to PBS more broadly both on and off mic. Declan hopes to learn as much as possible from Technorama prior to helping PBS in its upcoming move in the new year, and is happy for any advice or suggestions in relation to this.
Hannah is the Training Coordinator and Station Coordinator at Edge Radio 99.3, Tasmania’s only youth broadcasting service. She started out at Edge four years ago as a keen volunteer and quickly developed a passion for community radio. As well as the everyday running of the station she goes into schools as part of Edge’s youth outreach program to teach kids about media. “I’m looking forward to enhancing my tech knowhow at Technorama this year and being able to share my knowledge with our local volunteers!”
Sibylle wrote and produced her first radio story when she was eight years old; it was a murder crime story on the river Thames in London.
Many years and many other careers later, and by mere chance only three years ago, she came to volunteer at reception for Noosa FM 101.3 Community Radio. Being a big pet and wildlife lover she noticed there wasn’t a program on the radio station that would cater for like-minded people in the community. Co-incidentally the opportunity for presenter training came up and she decided to take the chance. In September 2017 she presented her first own program: “Pet Purri”, a music program concerned with pets and wildlife for the Noosa Shire.
In September 2018 she was elected VP and took on the coordinator position of the technical area of the station. Since April 2018 she has been President.
In 2018 Sibylle was the proud receiver of the Technorama “Rising Technical Star” Award.
The Represent! Bursary is an initiative of Technorama, and is supported by the CBF.
16 April 2019: Despite no dates on the website, Rydges really did mean 72 hours. The sale is over.
We’re still working on better deals, but word on the street is: book now. A better deal might not come, and if it does you can generally change.
14 April 2019: yesterday Rydges kicked off a 72-hour Flash Sale across their network.
During the sale, rooms are a flat rate $117/night (ie: the discount $130 rate, less 10% for Priority Guest Rewards members – and there’s no reason not to be a PGR member).
The catch is that it’s pay in full, in advance,. Not normally something that we’d recommend, but this close to the event it should be low risk. Plus you save around $50/night on the rack rate at the best and closest hotel.
Two warnings for their website:
The Rydges website cleverly avoids saying when the 72 hours starts and ends, so you might have another 48 hours… or you might have more time, or you might have less. Just assume the deal won’t last forever. Be quick.
By the way, this is really great news. If you were following Rydges website, their “Easter Sale” had two months of discount that finished THREE DAYS before TR19. Josh tried hard to get Rydges to cut us a break and extend the discount one week, to no avail. Ironically this deal is significantly better than anything we’d expected or have seen, so things have worked out.
Richard is a most experienced broadcasting engineer, with over 49 years in the industry. He looks after the technical support for many Sydney community stations, including 2SER, 2OOO, 2RPH, and smaller stations such as Radio Skid Row and 2RES, as well as extending as far as Vox-FM in Wollongong.
Richard has also worked on many innovative community broadcasting projects, such as the award winning Star Observer Digital, a queer pop-up digital radio station.
Richard Fleming is an all-rounder in radio broadcasting, and is best known for his studio build and integration work, for creating software solutions to support the stations in which he works, and for creating a mentoring/training process to encourage development of the next generation of broadcast engineer.
Richard was the winner of the 2017 Technorama Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution through Mentoring. In working with that diversity of stations, Richard has always been very generous with his time and knowledge in encouraging others in their understanding and interest in broadcasting and IT technology.
He is based in Sydney, and operates through Radio Support Services Pty Ltd.
This is very technical, but bear with us. Especially if you’re not heavily into the machinations of Social Media.
Last night we put a story on our Facebook page – the one we hardly ever update. That page is set to automatically trigger a post to our Twitter feed. The one we almost never send anything through. All things being equal, when we post news to the TR FB page, you get a tweet.
So what’s the problem? You got the tweet, didn’t you? Well, tweets are short – that’s the point. In this case Twitter truncated a long post, losing the useful part of the message in the process, and points everyone here where there was no sign of the rest of the message.
Hence, this article, created just in case you’re about to expire from FOMO.
Here’s what should have been in the Tweet:
Hey, you might be wondering what’s going on at Technorama. Well, most of what we do is announced on the webpage and through the Technorama Q&A group. But in case you’ve missed the news, here are some highlights:
Did you get all that? Good. Now you’re up to date!
Technorama is dedicated to training the next generation of technologists, and we’ve been looking for creative ways to do that. The Tech Blitz idea came from a very simple concept: it’s much easier for volunteers to achieve in a group and with a defined timeframe. The Studio Blitz aims to assist a station to spring-clean and refurbish its studio technology over a weekend, while training and skilling up a team at the same time.
On the weekend of 12/13 January 2019, we put that into practice at 2RRR. They put their hands up to be the test bed for the first outing of the Blitz packaged by the CMTO to be delivered as a pathways class.
RadioInfo wrote a great report on the class, which received outstanding support from the 2RRR and the participants of the first class.
You can read the RadioInfo article here. And then check out some of the great photos that came out of the day.
There are more blitzes planned for the coming year, and CMTO will shortly release details of how your station might participate.
And as RadioInfo hinted, Technorama is working on a similar approach to transmitter training. RadioInfo is right: many people talk about the need for technical training. Technorama is doing something about it, and the CMTO is making it possible for the training to be delivered. It’s practical and an example of a great ecosystem.
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”21″ gal_title=”190112_Blitz”]
A few people have asked about cleaning faders, and what was the technique that I taught at the Studio Tech Blitz. That is the subject of this article.
Console spring cleaning, signal path lineup and general studio maintenance are core topics of the two-day Technorama/CMTO Station Studio Blitz class, available via the CMTO.
Yes, I believe it is. A long time ago I had to do a major fader refurb for a Soundcraft desk. Some of the faders were audibly noisy and scratchy around the “zero” point (noticeable on-air). A few of the faders were so sticky they almost could not be moved. If your mixer hasn’t had maintenance for a while, feel all the faders and you’ll quickly conclude that some move more easily than others; if so, it’s time to do some work. Three to four years seems to be a good interval between refurbs, but your slideage may vary.
As a great believer in “phone a friend”, I first called Penny and Giles in the UK to ask them for their recommended cleaning procedure for P&G faders. I particularly wanted to know whether isopropyl alcohol was the right solvent to use on resistive tracks. It definitely is not; they put me straight, and what follows is the procedure that I developed from the advice given.
Sidebar: it turned out that the faders in that desk were Alps and not P&G. This article covers both brands of fader because the process is almost the same.
As a preamble, consider that faders are really expensive and you’re not likely to get replacements on the weekend or in the middle of the night if you ruin one. Treat faders as though they are made of unobtanium. If you want any pot (or switch) to last beyond this exercise, don’t use methylated spirits on the resistive tracks or other working parts of the pot (it contains all kinds of stuff you don’t want on faders); don’t use WD40 or RP7 (unless you want to dissolve the fader) and don’t use anything scratchy during the process.
Good question. Digital desks literally use digital faders; there’s no audio involved in the fading process, only numbers. The slider control element might be resistive or the slider might be a linear encoder. Regardless, your desk’s fader thingy is going to be followed by electronics which interprets the slider’s behaviour and does maths to produce audio. The advice here might not apply at all to a digital desk.
Pull the fader out of the module and open the fader cover. Be careful. Alps faders have a metal cover that can bend if you’re heavy handed. Some P&G faders have a plastic cover that can snap, and you don’t have to be heavy handed. Be careful!
Clean all the crap out of the fader. There will most likely be hair, fluff and skin cell buildup. That might sound disgusting, but live with it. Faders are almost always operated by fingers, and fingers are just rolling in skin. It’s natural that some skin cells will accumulate over time, and that dross needs to be cleaned off.
Use cotton buds and carefully, with no pressure, wipe around (but not on, yet) fader tracks and contaminated surfaces. Be especially careful to not cross-contaminate from the chrome slider bars, or any other messy part, to the resistive tracks.
Hint: skin cells won’t dissolve in anything you’d want to have near faders or your skin. Just clean carefully and thoroughly with buds, water, maybe some isopropyl alcohol, and possibly some carefully applied surfactant.
Put the water in a glass so you can always see how clean it is, and use that to pour some of the water into a clean lid. Dip the cotton bud from the lid. Keep the water in the lid clean. Don’t use dirty water on the next fader. Cross-contamination is your enemy, and can turn a working fader into one that no longer fades the way you want. Got it? Have I said “don’t cross-contaminate” enough times?
The resistive element in a P&G fader is a set of conductive plastic tracks, and those tend to stay pretty clean. Alps faders have carbon tracks and most likely when you wipe over you’ll get some carbon transferred to the bud. It won’t be a lot. If you think there’s a lot of carbon coming off, do a second pass. The excess carbon might be contributing to scratchy noise, although it’s also providing lube. Don’t overdo the cleaning.
The biggest danger is that you’ll accidentally scratch a track and cut it, which would be terminal for the fader. Damage is unlikely, but it’s not impossible – especially if you use force or accidentally get some abrasive crap under the bud before you wipe.
Run the damp bud along the track, and then run a dry bud along the same track. The dry pass will pull off almost all the water you’ve laid down.
In the case of a stereo Alps fader, the second track is most likely to be hidden under a chrome runner. The best way I’ve found to deal with that is to tease out a cotton bud and bend the cotton at right angles. You should then be able to hold the bud shaft vertically and wipe the damp horizontal cotton pad along the track under the runner, and without contacting the runner. Use the same process for both wet and dry pass.
Let the fader tracks dry fully. If you can see water droplets, shine, or residue when you hold the track to the light, repeat the process and allow to dry.
Don’t go near the wipers under the sled. The wipers are unlikely to be grimy, and are the other thing that you could damage in a way that might be unrecoverable. Just move the sled out of the way so you can clean all of the resistive track.
Next clean the chrome runners that the fader sled runs up and down. If the runners are generally clean and don’t have anything adhering, then you don’t need to do more than wipe over with a clean bud. If there is crap on the runners, then you will probably need to use isopropyl alcohol to clean them down.
I have a jealously guarded bottle of P&G silicone lube. It only takes the tiniest droplet of lube transferred to the runner to do the job. The lube will be distributed along the runner by moving the fader up and down enough (which you do before reassembly).
Worst outcome: you use too much silicone lube, and some ends on the track. That’s when you need to get isopropyl alcohol and clean up the mess, and it’s probably the only time that you would need to put a degreasing agent on the track. Then start again with the cleaning cycle.
Tip: put a piece of paper under the runner to protect the tracks before you put the droplet of lube on the runner.
Question: what’s a good silicone lubricant? There are many, and I can’t recommend anything other than the stuff I obtained from a P&G distributor. WD-40 is technically a silicone lubricant, but it’s not likely to be suitable for faders. “Dow Corning 510 or equivalent” is recommended by Telos Alliance. Deoxit Fader lubricator has also been mentioned. My best advice is: if you’re unfamiliar with a treatment, do exactly ONE fader and use it for a while before moving on to the rest. The worst possible refurb outcome would be where you accidentally wreck a console full of faders in one pass.
Alps faders have solder connections, generally to a plug that connects the the channel strip and to the metal cover. P&G faders might be solder terminated, or have a plug that is the other end of the wires that go to the channel strip plug. Ensure that the fader plug is pushed back firmly into the fader – I’ve seen a case where the earth pin was intermittently connecting, and that’s very confusing. Then ensure that the plug to the channel strip is pushed back firmly and correctly onto the channel PCB.
Hint: if the two channels don’t track within a fraction of a dB when you reassemble the fader, you might have a bad plug connection.
Over time the grooves in fader knobs clog up. Fastest way to clean fader knobs: water, a little surfactant (dishwashing liquid is good) and the electric toothbrush. Don’t use too much pressure because an electric toothbrush can be surprisingly abrasive. However once the in-slot garbage is softened with water, the toothbrush will do a very good job. You will most likely need surfactant to get the greasy stuff away from the knob. Oh, and clean the brush after each knob; you’ll see what I mean after you do the first knob and the toothbrush turns grey – proof that you’ve done a good job. Rinse with water and allow the knobs to dry.
Reinstall the fader, and check that all is good. Feel the fader and have a listen to audio passing through it. Listen for mechanical and electrical scratches or clicks. If you’ve done this carefully, there’s very little that can go wrong, and your fader should feel amazing.
The reference in this link might also help. It’s a slightly different technique for a slightly different P&G fader series to those used in Elan or Soundcraft desks, but the principles are the same. The article also has a good photo of a conductive plastic track.
Was this helpful? Post a note on the Community Radio Tech Q&A group to let us know.
John Maizels January 2019
[minor updates April 2022]