Engineer's Corner

Credit Credit: Ryan T Conaty

The Engineer's Corner is an occasional series penned by RIPR's IT & Engineering Director, Aaron Read.  

Any time he thinks there's something useful, important, amusing, or otherwise interesting enough to write about?  This is where you'll find it.  The highest compliment he gets, and frequently, is from readers who assure him that even though they have no idea what he's writing about, they love that he's writing it.

RIPR all stations coverage map
Aaron Read

It's been a long time coming, and there's still quite a bit of work to be done, but our new 89.3FM signal is ON THE AIR from Tiverton!   WOOOOT!!  :)   You should now be able to hear 89.3 over most of Rhode Island and the South Coast of Massachusetts.   Read on for some details and a handy guide to any questions you might've had!

EAS Emergency Alert System

So apparently people are completely freaking out over the upcoming EAS/WEA test on October 3rd.  (note: it was scheduled for 9/20, but was postponed to the pre-planned backup date due to the ongoing emergency efforts in the Carolinas from Hurricane Florence

Specifically, they seem to think it'll mean President Trump can personally send them text messages to their cellphone.

To say this is a massive failure of emergency communications messaging is raging understatement.  Fear not, your Intrepid Engineer is here to put you at ease.

Here's some pics of our project moving 89.3FM to the Tiverton tower!

Google Home Mini
Aaron Read RIPR


If you're having trouble playing RIPR's webcast through your Google Home, try alternative vocal triggers - one of these may work for you.

893 signal map
Aaron Read RIPR

Last year, RIPR purchased 89.3FM and began broadcasting on it in July 2017 from its current location in North Dartmouth.  But while 89.3 is a pretty good signal right now, we bought it because we knew we could improve the signal quite a bit, too.  There are three main components to this:

SNMP relay panel back
Aaron Read RIPR

This post is intended primarily as a reference for my fellow engineers.  It's heavy on the nitty-gritty and light on narrative.  But if that's okay for you, it'll give you a guide for how to do the following:

  • How to use a Burk ARC Plus Touch w/SNMP PLUS to poll a PRSS SFX4104's C/N reading.
  • How to use that data to trigger a Denkovi DAEnetIP2 relay via SNMP to control a dish heater.

Dish cover
Aaron Read RIPR

They say sequels must always be bigger, flashier, and MORE than the original.  But in this case, technically it's LESS: less of a kludge!   Read on to learn why less is more with RIPR's Custom SatDish Heater ver2.0!

WXNI 89.3 tower
Aaron Read RIPR

Weather permitting, on Thursday Feb.15, beginning around 9:30am, our 89.3FM signal will be off-the-air for about 20-30 minutes. 

Omnia 9 Processor
Aaron Read RIPR

Today (Oct.11) I modified the settings on our Omnia 9 audio processors on 102.7FM (WRNI-FM) and 89.3FM (WXNI) to add both a high-pass filter and a low-pass filter.

...I'm sorry, whenever I say that I always picture this scene from Austin Powers in my head.  Moving on...

Buffer queue
Aaron Read RIPR

If you follow RIPR on Twitter...and if you don't I highly recommend it; even if you're not really a Twitter fan, we post all sorts of cool stuff on there....then doubtless you've noticed that not long ago we created a system that automatically tweets links to the audio of our local newscasts.  

Our Intrepid Engineer is a little intimidated by Alexa
James Baumgartner RIPR

Rhode Island Public Radio, in conjunction with our webcast provider, StreamGuys, has created a new Alexa Skill just for RIPR!  To activate it for your Echo or Echo Dot, just go to this address:

Your intrepid engineer can be a bit, err, intimidated by how much Alexa can do...especially how much it can insert itself into your personal life...but even he can't deny that it's pretty cool.  Just say:

"Alexa, open Rhode Island Public Radio."

Tonight during Marketplace (6:30-7pm) there will be about 10-15 minutes of dead air on RIPR.  All our FM signals will be off, and the webcast will be down.

Astute listeners probably noticed at 8pm on Friday night (Jan.20th) that RIPR was airing our new "Double Content Delivery System."   It's still technically in the prototype stage, so there's some bugs to work out, but overall we were very happy with its ability to put out twice as much content at once.  Soon we'll roll it out across our schedule, and you'll barely be able to make sense of all the content we'll be throwing at you!

Okay, so, yeah, that's a joke. :)

RIPR's Intrepid Engineer sips cocoa during the storm
Lisa Read / RIPR

With the forecast being for 10 to 15 inches of snow (!!!) across the Providence region today, why is your Intrepid Engineer smugly sipping hot cocoa in his kitchen, instead of frantically sweeping mounds of snow from the satellite dish?

Tower crane
Aaron Read

UPDATE 03/06/17: AT&T reports they are   FINISHED!  WOOOOOT!!!  :)  No more reduced power days on 102.7FM!

UPDATE 03/03/17: Unfortunately, if not unsurprisingly, AT&T was unable to finish today.  They'll be back on the tower Monday 3/6 at 9am so reduced power on 102.7 again.