Wednesday, June 23, 2010

And we're back!

It's a new day here at KCD, and I've decided to take this blog in a new direction. I've decided to start pursuing other career options besides IT, and more broadly I'm going to start pursuing the things that interest me. It's my goal in life to be as competent as possible in as many areas as possible.

One of those areas is radio. I've long been fascinated by radio. I can remember as a child staring at microwave towers. There was also a radio transmitter (my parents called it a booster station, I'm not sure if that was accurate or not) by my house; I always wondered what was in the little attached shack.

Having recently become unemployed, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. In an effort to fill up some of that time in pursuing interesting things, I decided to call up KCUR's chief engineer, Robin Cross, and ask him if I could help out around the station in exchange for learning about radio engineering. He said yes. :)

To start with, I've been meeting Robin on Mondays and Fridays at the KCUR transmitter. This past Monday, Robin let me take the readings for the maintenance log. He handed me the clipboard and told me to have at it, and to come to him with any questions. The maintenance log is laid out very straightforwardly, so it wasn't difficult, but it was still cool.

Like many radio stations, KCUR uses RDS to transmit information about what's currently playing. This is handled by a dedicated PC at the transmitter running software that interfaces with the RDS transmitter. If we had a dedicated data (i.e. TCP/IP) link from the station to the transmitter, we could let the on-air people edit the RDS via a computer in the studio. We do not have such a link at the moment, but I have an idea for one: set up a point-to-point 802.11g link between the station and the transmitter. This will require a specialized antenna, as the station and the transmitter are roughly 7 miles apart from one another as the crow flies, but I think we can do it. It will certainly be fun to try.

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