NEWS AND VIEWS
          July 20, 2008

Mike and Laurel Kohl
S-9141 State Road 23
Plain, Wisconsin   53577-9612



July 20, 2008

Can I apologize one more time for a late News & Views update?  Lots of distractions around here, and I thought that the report on my May trip to Russia could stay front and center for a few more days.  It's still in the archive for anyone that has missed it, or wants to revisit that adventure;  just look for the June 10, 2008 edition.

This year's Calgary Stampede was an incredible event to watch, occurring from July 4th to July 13th.  Let's say that I may have lost some sleep, watching the excellent updates provided by CBC's BOLD network, which had live rodeo events from 2:30 to 5:30 pm Central time every afternoon, and the Rangeland Derby towards mid-evening.  A replay of the rodeo coverage ran from 10:30pm to 1:30am.  This volume of coverage was much better than the CBC main network coverage, which was confined to weekends.  Look for a similar partnership to continue starting August 8th, when the Olympics from Beijing commence.  Lots of coverage on the main CBC network, and overflow on BOLD, which is the new name for the former CBC Country Canada cable network.  SRC (Radio-Canada) will have coverage in French, and we will also have our American network coverage.

It's not too late to add some satellite gear to take advantage of the Olympics coverage, which will be available from a variety of sources.  While you may find that fiber optic connections may be used for some coverage, and therefore unavailable to satellite viewers...there should be a number of live feeds, especially for those equipped with motorized C and C/Ku band antennas and MPEG-2 digital receivers.  Please let us know if you might be considering the STAR CHOICE subscription service, which physically gets signals out past southern Mexico.  MPEG-2 enthusiasts might consider the Pansat 9200HD, with its new optional DVB-S2 add-on board.  That combination should allow access to more channels than the average MPEG-2 receiver, especially any in-the-clear High Definition signals.  For blind scanning, you might consider having a new Traxis DBS-3500 receiver as a separate utility device.  We just received a shipment from the latest batch that arrived in Atlanta the last week of June, and must report some improvements in this already great receiver.  It has a faster processor circuit, which makes blind scanning and channel changing even quicker.  So much of a different circuit that they created a special Channel Editor and Loader for this updated model, indicated with the letter P in the serial number.

Four dollar plus gasoline and surging commodities prices have had an immediate effect on the cost of some manufactured goods.  SAMI (also known as Superior Antenna) was forced to raise prices on their mesh antennas, with an increase of 150 dollars on the 8.5 foot model.  The 10-footer took a 200 dollar hit, and the 12-foot model will now cost 300 dollars more than last month.  This is starting to make solid commercial antennas such as those from Patriot and True Focus look not so expensive.  We will suggest that it is not going to get any cheaper in our lifetimes, so if you have the funds to upgrade to a new C-band antenna, consider it this year before prices rise even further.

We were getting ready to get back into the swing of Sunday night talk shows with Blair Alper, when he had a personal disaster.  Driving to Pennsylvania for the summer, with a trailer full of gear, he experienced transmission failure near Hammond, Indiana.  Trailer was left at an AAMCO transmission shop for a couple of days while the car was repaired, and when Blair returned two days later, he found that the trailer had been robbed and stripped clean of all contents.  All of his audio-video gear was in there, so it will be a long time before he is in a position to get back on the air.  We are now temporarily back on the air with a guest host (Steve from Fresno called us last week), so please check and see if things continue.  9pm Central time Sunday evenings, on 97 West Ku-band.  Coordinates are on our main web page.

Still cleaning up around here after repeated heavy rains that started in early June.  Water is standing in places that it has never been in the past, and it seems to continue.  The village of Spring Green, ten miles to our south, has a drainage problem that will not go away, causing an entire subdivision to remain under water over a month after the original rain event.  Five more inches a week ago did not help matters, and the situation is complicated by the fact that FEMA cannot inspect those houses until the water goes down, leaving about 40 families as literal refugees.  The entire neighborhood will likely have to be torn down in a buyout, much like what happened in Grand Forks, ND after their big flood in 1997.  Then there's Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which has endured much greater flooding in their downtown area than anywhere I can imagine.  

My eyes were fortunate enough to see a new prototype high rise TV distribution system in downtown Chicago a few days ago.  A 42-story condo complex right on Lake Michigan.  Existing off air and DirecTV standard definition channels are modulated via conventional RG-6 cabling to the complex.  A separate telephone wire is used to transmit up to 100 HD channels from DirecTV to each unit wanting high def service.  Not 100 channels at a time, but a single channel circuit feeding a modem in the customer's unit, which controls channel changing from the master connection at the headend above the 42nd floor.  Perhaps 15 MHz of bandwidth is used, and connected from headend to the customer's floor via either Cat-3 or Fiber cable.  Splice is made to existing telephone line on customer's floor, and the modem is inserted just before the DirecTV HD receiver.  It works very well, and the addition of high speed Internet service on the same wire is quite doable.  This may be one of the preferred future solutions for television distribution in large complexes.

Until next month,