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RF Shorts – Oct. 25, 2012

ADF and Port Authority Settle Dispute

Chris Dolmetsch with Broomberg News reports World Trade Center Antenna Delivery to Proceed After Pact. Quebec-based ADF,the manufacturer of the spire on top of World Trade Center 1 that will support multiple antennas, including broadcast antennas was sued by the Port Authority for holding the steel structure “hostage.”

ADF and the Port Authority released separate statements this week saying the two sides have reached an agreement that will allow delivery and erection of the structure to proceed. According to the article, Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman said in an email that “delivery of the steel for the antenna could come as soon as next month and skyscraper is scheduled for completion before the end of March 2014.

Note it is not an antenna, in spite of multiple references to it as an antenna in the article.

UK Completes Digital Transition

The Telegraph reported “The final stage of the United Kingdom's switch to digital television was completed Tuesday night, making the end of the biggest shake up of terrestrial viewing in 70 years” in the article Switching off ... analogue television comes to an end by Andrew Hough and Ben Bryant. “To mark the end of the old transmission technology last night, Dame Mary Peters, the 1972 Olympic gold medallist in pentathlon, 'flicked' the final analogue switch at the Divis transmitter, in Belfast,” according to the article. Analog TV broadcasting in the UK extends back to November 2, 1936, when the first public television broadcasting services were launched. Unlike the U.S. transition, which took place more or less simultaneously across the country, the UK analog shutdown was done region by region over several years. has coverage of the UK analog shutdown, with links to many articles, in the article UK completes transition from analog to digital TV, frees spectrum for future LTE networksby Bryan Bishop.

Weather Beacons

While not directly related to RF, I found the article In Des Moines, Turning Off Beacon Unleashes a Storm– Forecasting Lights Can't Weather Competition From Apps; White Means 'Cold in Sight' to be an interesting look into how KCCI-TV used its 500-foot backup tower on in Iowa's capital city to provide weather information to the public anywhere in its “line of sight” coverage area. No need for a smartphone, no bytes off your data plan, not even a TV was required to get the weather forecast. I also found it interesting that other TV stations were offering similar services, including WZZM channel 13 in Grand Rapids. WZZM chief meteorologist George Lessens said, “When kids come in for tours, that's their biggest thrill: Where do you control the Weatherball?” There is a photo of the WZZM weather ball in the article and it is quite impressive. KFYR radio operates the weather beacon in Bismarck. There is also a weather beacon in Salt Lake City.

If you have difficulty accessing the Wall Street Journal article, covers the weather beacon news in KCCI Weather Beacon goes dark. (opens in new tab) After reading some of the comments, KCCI may want to talk to some of the other weather beacon operators to find a way to restore the landmark.

Melissa Vorel of Des Moines said, ““The Weather Beacon is to Des Moines as Big Ben is to London.” Des Moines resident's used rhymes, such as “Weather Beacon white, colder weather is in sight” and “Weather Beacon green, no change in temperature is foreseen” to decode the lights. Louis Vaughn of Ames came up with a new one, “Weather beacon dead, no weather ahead” but he had a suggestion: “We should start fund raising for a more efficient beacon with LED lights and bring it back to the Des Moines skyline.” There may be hope – Pittsburgh's Gulf Tower weather beacon was turned back on in July after the original lights were turned off almost 40 years ago.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.