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Strip & Squeeze - Audio Connectors

By Kirk Harnack [TWiRT] on Oct 18, 2013 10:30:00 PM

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TWiRT 187

We test RJ-45 connectors on this episode of "This Week in Radio Tech."

Network troubles? It could be your RJ-45 connectors. Kirk and Chris attach three RJ-45 connectors to a CAT5e cable and test it. We also show you how not to do it. Plus, Andrew Zarian reports on his IP-audio console at GFQ after one year and hundreds of shows.




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[Announcer: This week In Radio Tech episode 187 is brought to you by the Axia Radius IP Audio Console. Perfect for busy control rooms and production booths and it plugs right into live wire. On the web at

And now, our feature presentation TWIRT. RJ45 connectors are truly important these days and you've got to put them on right. See how to do it and how not to do it.

All right, calm down. He says that to everyone. This calls for immediate discussion. What's up Doc? All you data belongs to us.

From his palatial office of important business or in a choice hotel in a distant land, this is Kurt Harnack.

Andrew Zarian joins Chris Tobin and me for an instructional show plus a look at the GFQ Audio Console one year later.

Your dialed in to This Week in Radio Tech.]

Kirk: Welcome in. This is "This Week in Radio Tech." I'm Kirk Harnack, your host. Glad to be with you and to come into your home or your automobile or your Google Nexus 7 or your iPad or just your earbud, whatever it may be and talk about radio technology.

We get letters, literally, from all around the world, e-mails and responses on our website and tweets. We just really appreciate the kind of response that you, as engineers and maybe some junior engineers or retired engineers, or people just interested in radio technology and audio technology.

So glad that you feedback to us what you're thinking and your appreciation of the show and maybe some clarification questions.

We ought to do a show where we go through the mailbag. I keep saying we'll do that and someday, we actually will. So, I'm the host of the show and I work for the folks at the Telos Alliance, who, quite thankfully, are also a sponsor in "This Week in Radio Tech."

Also with me are co-host, he's with us almost every show. It is the best-dressed engineer in radio. From Manhattan, New York, ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Chris Tobin. Hey, Chris, how are you?

Chris: Thank you, everyone. What a night it's been, what a day. Today, I took the tie off, so, it's good. Before I forget, when we start off, here in the New York City market, we had an engineer pass away. Actually, he was retired and living in Plano, Texas.

I just wanted to bring it to everyone's attention, those who knew him, who knew how nice a person he was, Doc Masoomian. Doc was former chief engineer at WQXR Radio here in New York City, the classical station, the New York Times back in the day.

He retired and went on to rep with Northeast Broadcast Labs with Bill Bingham and Chris Onan [sounds like] and the gang back in the day. And then he did some stuff with Harris and a few others.

But those of us who knew Doc, let me just put it this way. For his age, he was quite sprightly. And you could go out to a convention with him and guaranteed to be in trouble by 3:00 a.m. in the morning with him.

And those who know him know exactly what I'm talking about. St. Louis SBE many years ago, we had a good time. All I remember is my boss was two tables away and saw us leaving the restaurant.

Next morning, he said to me "So, that was your table making the noise and the manager and the waitresses dancing." I said "Well, they were dancing at a table. I don't know about us. But, yeah, we were near it."

That's the kind of guy Doc was. Excellent person, always thought about the human element in broadcasting. Was a genius when it came to engineering stuff and was always a quick wit.

One thing I will impart on everyone. He was at WQXR AM and FM. The AM station, the towers are still in Maspeth, Queens, which is smack in the residential area of Queens, New York. And needless to say, 50,000 watt AM station smack in the middle of a densely populated community.

From time to time, you'll get phone calls from people saying "Hey, I can hear your radio station on my telephone." His response would be "We only charge for music on hold, so you should be happy."

People would hang up and never call back. I kid you not. I used that line, I think, twice in my career when I worked at an AM station where we had a similar situation. I told the person on the phone "We normally charge for music on hold, you should be happy." And the woman goes "Oh." Click. That was it.

That's the kind of guy he was. So, October 11th, this past Friday, he passed away in Plano, Texas. I just wanted to put that out there. Because today, while I was at the AS show, a lot of folks were coming up to me and asked me if I had heard what happened and what was going on, does anybody know anything? So, I just wanted to put that out there.

Not to start this off on a somber note. But anyone who knew Doc, trust me. This is the way he'd want it.

Kirk: Pardon me if this wasn't Doc Masoomian. But I'm associating his name, was it him or someone else who did the Kodak Cascading experiments?

Chris: That would be his assistant at the time, Herb Squire [SP].

Kirk: Oh, Herb Squire did that. Okay.

Chris: Doc was part of the motivation behind that. And let's just say, if he was in the audience, he was definitely the heckler that would get Herb going. That's how it works. But, yes. It's Herb Squire.

Kirk: And "Masoomian" is such an unusual name. You hear that name a couple of times and you don't forget it. So, I never got to meet Doc, but I sure have heard his name for, my goodness, 25 or 30 years now.

Chris: Doc was the kind of guy, when he was selling broadcast equipment, the funny thing was his region was the Southwest. He lived in Plano, he retired there. But all the New Yorkers and Boston and folks up in north in New York state, would only deal with Doc.

So, he had only one region that was outside of his area, that was the New York Metro area. And nobody every challenged it. When he worked for Harris, the same way. It was like "Well so and so covers that area." No, it's okay. Give it to Doc. You can apply through Doc. That's the kind of guy he was.

Kirk: Godspeed to Doc Masoomian. And wherever he is, I hope he's well and looking down upon us.

Chris: Good man.

Kirk: I'm afraid I never met him, but boy, it'd be good, too. So, Chris, several things going on. AES, the convention in New York, is just starting. I want to hear a bit about that. Also, I thought we'd take a few minutes today to do a little tutorial on the show.

Some folks may think this is boring. Other folks, hopefully you'll say "I'm not sure how that actually is done right." I'm not saying I'd necessarily do it right, but however I do it seems to work every time.

And that is putting RJ45 connectors like this onto a Cat 5 cable and doing it correctly so that it works and stays working and it keeps working. And thank goodness, to my knowledge, I've never had to redo one. Except when this little thing here, the clip, breaks off, and to solve that, we have these little backs that you put on like this and they kind of cover the end of the clip.

A friend of mine always calls that little clip right there, right on the top, the "titty." He'll say "The little titty broke off." And if the little titty breaks off, then the plug won't stay in the socket.

So, we're going to put two of these on tonight and test them with a tester that I have right here behind me. So, yes, it's a "How to" episode, how to Cat 5, how to Cat 6. And we'll do that.

We'll also talk to Andrew Zarian, the producer of the show, about his, basically 1-year-old Axia Radius Audio Console. See how that's going and what he's experienced with it. There you go, that's what we'll talk about.

Our show is brought to you by the folks at Axia and coincidentally, the Radius Audio Console. If you need a console, well, check it out if you would.

Folks have been asking in the IAIB forums, this is the International Association of Internet Broadcasters, asking about "Hey, what's this IP audio? Does it work? Is it cheap enough yet?"

Well, as far as we know, the Radius console is the lowest price IP audio console out there. So, we'll talk more about that during our break.

Chris, why don't you fill us in briefly on AES. What are you anticipating and who did you see today? And then, we're going to jump right into the tutorial after that.

Chris: Okay. AES this year has a lot of great stuff. So, in the realm of broadcasting, the sessions are broadcast streaming media. And today, there was loudness for radio and Internet streaming, which was actually pretty cool.

Some people you may be familiar with. Names like Foti, Keane [SP] and Lund and Orban were there. That's Frank Foti and Thomas Lund from TC Electronics and Bob Orban.

And it was an interesting conversation, talking about basic loudness wars. Those of us who have been involved in that all know how well that goes. And also today was listener fatigue and retention. And we had Greg Ogonowski, also a guest on the show, from Orban speak. As well as Frank Foti again.

And it was good, it was good stuff. So, the topics today and tomorrow and throughout the weekend. Let's see, "Audio for 4K Television" was on today. That was actually interesting. Tim Carroll was on the panel there along with Bob Orban again. Notice there's a pattern here when it comes to audio and who's the experts they call on, or at least the high-profile people.

And also, let's see, throughout the weekend, you have "Modern Audio Transportation Techniques for Remote Broadcasts." I'm on that panel with Chris Crump from Comrex. I believe we have him scheduled some point later in the month, right?

Kirk: Yes. Chris Crump is going to be on on Halloween. By the way, program note. On Halloween, which is not next week, but the next Thursday, our show is going to be earlier in the day. I forget exactly what time. It's 2:00 or 3:00 Eastern time.

Anyway, it will be an afternoon show, so we can all get ready to go be spooks outside. And Chris Crump from Comrex has agreed to be our guest. And I'm looking forward to having him. We've never had Chris on before. So, he's a pretty cool guy and we're going to enjoy having him on.

Chris: Yeah. It'll be fun. And over the weekend, you have

”Maintenance Repair in Troubleshooting." That will be chaired by John Bisset from the Telos Alliance. He has Bill Sacks and Kimberly Sacks and Michael Mazerov from CBS. Bill and Kimberly are from Optimod.

And they're talking about audio equipment and the consumer throwaway gear that we're all familiar with these days. They'll be talking about the secrets of finding problems and fixing them. And working to ensure that things will work happily as you go throughout the day with your equipment.

That's just to name a few things. That's in the broadcast streaming media sessions. There are plenty of other topics you can choose, sessions. Let's see, "Recording and "Production, "Applications in Audio," "Audio Processing," to name a few.

And there's a few that were just doozies. Let's see. "End of Line Test Concepts to Achieve and Maintain Yield and Quality and High-Volume Loudspeaker Production."

Kirk: Okay.

Chris: You know what, there's "Advances in [inaudible at 00:10:52] Measurement of Loudspeakers and Headphones." Not many of us have to worry about those things.

Kirk: I thought when they built a speaker and they're going to go to final test, I thought that it's plugged into a honking amplifier and play some Led Zeppelin through it and make sure it blows the hair. Isn't that what that is?

Chris: That's it. That's the way it goes. I was at a [inaudible at 00:11:09] session today and two or three doors down, there was definitely music being played very loud to demonstrate something. It's good music, but I didn't know what the topic was.

Kirk: The final test tech, the speaker company. "Hey, dude, man. I just tested all 20 speakers, man. They're all just rocking." Isn't that the guy that tests the speakers?

Chris: And for some of the esoteric topics and technologies and things that go on in the audio realm. Remember, this is audio for all spectrums. Not just broadcast. It's professional audio, it's post-production, recording studios, you name it.

So, they have on "Reverberation, De-reverberation Effects on Byzantine Chants." That's right. Byzantine is typically monophonic. And it's characterized by prolonged music phrases. So, they have a whole topic on Byzantine chants and reverberation and de-reverberation.

Kirk: De-reverberation, wow.

Chris: Not that I've ever heard the phrase or the word "De-

reverberation" used in audio applications, but this looks like a really cool...


Kirk: I can't give anything away, but I've got to tell you there are audio scientists working on de-reverberation. Including some who I know personally. De-reverberation, there's been a lot of work done on it. And I don't know that there's been any enormous breakthroughs that are ready to make a life-changing product yet.

But, believe me, there's research on it. It's cool, it's difficult and there's more work to be done on de-reverb.

Chris: Okay, I'll look into that. And in that particular topic, they have some folks from Greece who will be talking about these things. So, it's going to be interesting. It's pretty cool.

Let's see, that's one of them. And there's "Artificial Stereo Extension Based on Hidden Markov Model for Incorporation of Non- Stationery Energy Trajectory." It sounds like something at a Defense Department meeting, but I could be wrong.

Kirk: It does, doesn't it?

Chris: But those are just some of the topics that are off out of left field that are actually pretty cool and I've gone to a couple of them today. You sit there going "Okay, that stretches the memory a bit." It gets you thinking.

And let's see "Measuring Speech Intelligibility in Noisy Environments Produced Parametrics [SP] Spatial Audio." That's pretty cool, actually.

Kirk: That would be cool. So, there's a lot of noisy environments in our world today. And it seems like my wife's cell phone is always in one of them.

Chris: Yes, exactly. And there's "Dealing with Noise Pollution in Theaters." I don't know if that just means if the movie was bad or the movie was good, I don't know.

Kirk: I didn't know that was a problem, noise pollution in theaters.

Chris: Yeah, let's see. It says "Video projection, moving lights and automated scenery have become common in Broadway productions."

Kirk: That kind of theater?

Chris: We're thinking a theater. We're talking a Broadway play.

Kirk: Yeah.

Chris: Noise can become a problem for sound design.

Kirk: My wife and I were in New York a few weeks ago and we saw a Broadway production of "Cinderella." And despite all the set changes and things moving on and off, I'm telling you, I didn't hear any noise pollution in there. Maybe the kids screaming a couple of rows in front of me.

But other than that...I really didn't know that was a problem. They had that thing down really well. You could hear the actors fine.

Chris: Also there's a "Creative Dimension of Immersive Sound."

The big topic this weekend is immersive sound. In this case, the sound in 3D. But it's all about creating that, I guess, the cinema effect. When you're in a theater and you're totally immersed in that movie, are now trying to bring that out to the home.

And I think MPEG-H is where some of that is going, from the folks at Fraunhofer. There's a whole new term, let me see if I got this right, "audio objects." Audio objects are actually soft points in the audio stream that can be used that tell the end device where to place this sound field.

Kirk: Okay.

Chris: It's pretty cool. I was at a session of that today. It was pretty wild. There's a lot of good stuff. If you're in town and you can make it, hop on the subway or railroad and come on over or drive through.

If you haven't made time for it this year, next year, it's in L.A., the Audio Engineering Society [inaudible at 00:15:37]. Some good stuff, it's going to be a busy weekend.

Kirk: I sure plan to attend next year. I was there last year in San Francisco, just missed it this year. All right. What else? You want to jump to the tutorial?

Chris: Let's do that.

Kirk: I'm itching to get this stuff off my desk. Andrew, can you bring up this wiring diagram I have I'm sending you on the other feed? Yes, there we go. There's the ever-popular wiring pattern that, if you're in IT. And more and more, if you're in radio engineering, that's the kind of cable you have to make if you're making cables.

Now, I'll explain and we'll come back to that in a minute. Right now, let me show you something. All right, here is a pre-made cable, we're all familiar with pre-made cables. Throw that away, they almost always have a little twist top.

I always wonder if real Chinese people put these little twist ties on or if a machine did that? I don't know.

So, here's a typical patch cable. This one happens to be a 1- meter patch cable. I love these things. I use pre-made patch cables whenever I can to hook things up.

This one's a Cat 6 cable. You can pretty easily tell the difference between Cat 5 and Cat 6 when you get to know what it feels like on the outside. A Cat 6 cable is usually a bit thicker and it says "Cat 6" on the side of it.

It seems like it's bumpier. The wires are maybe twisted a tad more. I don't know.

Chris: Yeah, it's twisted differently. There's a different twist.

Kirk: Twisted differently? Okay. Cat 6, it's supposed to be good to what, 350 Megahertz? And definitely will work for Gigabit connections?

Chris: Yes.

Kirk: So, this is molded on. This is a great way for the connection to be on. It's molded, it's done for you. I'm sorry that's not focusing entirely on the connector. But this is the kind of connector that just seems to sit there and run and last. And I don't think I've ever bought one of these that was bad.

I don't know how thoroughly they test these when they cost $1.50 apiece from a shop in China. But I've had really good luck with this kind of cable.

Now, it's worth pointing out that a patch cable like this typically is made with Cat 5e or Cat 6 wire that is stranded. And so, it's flexible.

And so, if you're going to run cable in any kind of a way where it needs to be flexed, it's not a permanent installation, then this is the kind of cable that you'd want to use. You'd want to use this cable to hook up to a piece of equipment that may come in or out of a rack. Any place where you're going to have to be moving it a bit, you want to use stranded cable.

And there actually is a difference. The RJ connectors for Cat 6, they're different than for Cat 5. They should also include a little block of material in there. I don't know if it's ferrite material or if it's just a black plastic to keep the wires aligned.

I'm going to show you how to terminate a cable. And I'm sure that what I'm showing you is not Cat 6-compliant completely. But it does seem to work for gigabits situations.

So, anyway, there's your patch cable. Use the flexible cable, which patch cable should be, for anything that you're going to be moving around.

Now, here I have some cable. I bought this for the house to install some security cameras and run stuff around. This is actually this Cat 5 or Cat 6? I forgot to take a look here, I thought it was Cat 6. Let's see if my old eyes can determine what that is.

Can I read this? Sorry to take up your time, it's Cat 5e. Okay, so this is Cat 5e rated for outdoor. I was wondering, what makes it rated for outdoor? Well, it feels heavy like Cat 6 cable.

By the way, all I need usually to get this done. You know what? I forgot, no I didn't. I think I've got enough here. These two tools. I use a stripper like this. And there's all different kinds of wire strippers; I just happen to like this kind right here. I tend to be able to manipulate it pretty well.

And an RJ crimper. This does cost some money, an RJ crimper like this, but you don't want to get the plastic kind that they sell at Radio Shack for $7. You really want to get a metal one that this one ratchets in, let's see if you can hear that. There you go.

And it won't release until you've latched it all the way in, til you've crimped it all the way down. And it has sizes for the smaller RJ, whatever that is. 11 or 14 or whatever.

Chris: RJ11.

Kirk: Okay. Then the RJ45 size. It also has a couple of cutters down here. It has two blades that come together that will strip the wire if you need that. That will strip the individual wires, if you need that, which I typically don't. And then it has a block cutter right below that that will actually cut the wires.

And then it has a little ratcheting mechanism down here. If you get stuck, you can un-stick it with that somehow. There you go. Anyway, so we're going to use that tool right there.

Now, let me show you the most important thing. And the thing that I always forget. Do you know what that is, Chris?

Chris: Would that be the hood?

Kirk: Yes, that's the hood.

Chris: Or the equivalent of an XLR connector sleeve?

Kirk: Yes, back of the XLR. That's what you want right there, that little plastic hood. Is that what it's called, a hood?

Chris: I'm calling it a hood. Given the names of things you've said so far in the show, I'm not going to go anywhere.

Kirk: You want to put that in first because if you forget it, you can't put it on later. There you go. Just do that and get it on there. And you can pop it way back, if you want to, to have some more room to play with.

Chris: Bear in mind, I know folks who ignore putting the hood on there. They say "Eh, you don't need it." That hood is what permits you to pull the cable through a bunch of other cables and obstructions. And the little tip, as you point out, doesn't get caught on things as you're pulling the cable.

Kirk: Actually, I was just doing some reading online. The thing that my friend was calling a titty? That's a tab.

Chris: Yes, it's a tab. A lot of people call it what it's not.

Kirk: I couldn't think of the word "tab." Okay, so, now, the next question is "How much wire do you strip off?" Well, how many times have you come to an RJ connector where the jacket was hanging way back here?

And there's strandly little wires going up into the RJ. I've seen that so many times. It drives me nuts.

Chris: Walk around the Javits center, you'll see that a lot today.

Kirk: Okay, yeah. But the other thing is, you do have to strip off enough to where you can actually physically work with the wire. Because you're going to have to arrange these wires in a very difficult way. So, you've got to have enough out there to deal with it.

I strip off a couple of inches of this stuff, 2-1/2 inches or so. So, what I do is I take my stripper like this. And I don't close it all the way down. I don't have the right size here to be doing that. There's actually strippers made to do this and I don't have one of them. So, what I do--

Chris: Score the outer jacket.

Kirk: I score it like that, see. And now, you just break it open and voila. And what are we left with? Not the wires because this is outdoor cable. It has an extra lining for protection. So, it has this extra white rubber lining in it.

So, guess what? I've got to strip that one off, too. Just score it a little bit and it's actually kind of tough. That's what makes this outdoor cable, I suppose. The squirrels and the chipmunks can't see--

Chris: That's for a moisture back barrier and what else? There's a few things.

Kirk: Yeah, it is a moisture barrier. I should point out that, typically, the insulation that's on the conductors, on the wires themselves, is typically pretty soft. It's easy to nick. And so, you want to try hard not to nick those pieces of insulation.

There's also this little fiber here. What is that, Chris? This thing that comes along for the ride?

Chris: That one, you can pull that back. That opens up the cables, so you can strip it open, a jacket.

Kirk: Really? I thought it was there for pulling strength.

Chris: No. As far as I know, that's what I was told by several people at a couple of Belden seminars.

Kirk: Oh. Well, I've never--

Chris: There are some cables you can buy, there will be a plastic piece in the center that's actually designed to keep the twists in the proper place. But I believe that's--

Kirk: Yes. Kind of a cross-shaped in the cross-section. And it will hold the four--

Chris: I think that's Cat 6. That's that new Belden twist, they call it. Data twist, I think it's called.

Kirk: MediaTwist.

Chris: MediaTwist, that's it.

Kirk: So, what we end up here is four pairs. Now, this is interesting. These four pairs, I hope you can see that well enough. Maybe I should supply a dark background for you to see those one. There we go.

Chris: Excellent.

Kirk: So, these wires, these pairs, each have a different twist per inch to them. They're not the same. It's a different twist per inch on each pair. And that is to help reduce cross tuck between and among the pairs.

Now, they're twisted to try to simulate, over distance, that they have the same axis. And that way, the electrical fields, generated by the electricity going through them, cancel each other out pretty well.

So, they each have a different twist. They're each twisted very well. And there you go.

Now, in a 100 megabit connection, it's my understanding that only two of these pairs are used. I think, isn't it the orange- white pair and the green-white pair?

Chris: I think that's correct. But you have to remember, the Ethernet is an RF signal. And all the cables actually interact with each other. If you choose just to use two pairs of the four, yes, it may work. But if you try to do high data rates, you'll start to have issues.

If you do a true test on the line with--

Kirk: Near and crosstalking.

Chris: Near crosstalk/far crosstalk, it will probably fail.

Kirk: Now, sometimes, I've bought some cheap Linksys routers. And sometimes, they'll actually come with a cable that actually only has two pairs in it. And if you look at the RJ connector, you can see only two of the four pairs actually go into the RJ connector and are hooked up.

But they're intended for 10 megabit or 100 megabit. This is Cat 5e cable. It'll do gigabit. I don't know if it always works on full-length runs like 100-meters, but I've always had good luck with Cat 5e for gigabit connections. Cat 6, I'm sure is what's called for and what's better.

Let's see. What was I going to point out about this? I can't remember now, okay. The first thing I do is untwist these. I untwist them all the way back to the jacket. Now, you're supposed to leave them twisted as far as possible until they have to straighten out for the connector.

I have really poor luck if I try to leave much, at all twisted. Chris, have you ever thought about un-twisting them back to the jacket?

Chris: No, I have not. What I typically will do is about an eighth of an inch above the jacket, I put my thumb and index finger there. And then I pull the others straight, straight out, line them up flat. And then I measure the distance that I want to cut and then I just slide it into the connector.

That's an outdoor cable. Is that RJ connector designed for outdoor cable?

Kirk: Actually, it does work. The jacket is a little bit thicker. But when you crimp it, there's a rear thing inside that...

Chris: The inside fits inside that.

Kirk: Yeah, it'll all fit inside there. Now, the next thing you've got to do is line this up. Andrew, can you go back to that diagram that I'm sending you on the other system? There you go.

So, we've got to line these wires up to look like that. And that ain't necessarily easy to do. It's like anything that's very dexterous. You end up learning where do you need to apply a lot of pressure and pull? And where do you need to use a gentle touch?

We'll switch back to me real quick. Right now, I find it easiest if I really flatten these things out. They still have a lot of twist in them. And you can use all kinds of techniques to straighten them out, do this kind of thing, too. But you really want them straight. And you might want the temperature of the insulation to be up a little bit by getting some friction there.

So, I kind of straighten them out. Now, I've got to put them in order. So, the first one is the white orange pair. And I go from top to bottom on that diagram, this is how I memorized it.

So, first is the white orange pair with the white being first. Then, the white green pair is split. So, the next wire to go next to the orange white is the white green. So, I got those two; I'll stop in second and show you what I got when I get to a good stopping point. Actually, why don't we stop right here?

So, I know this is probably backwards to the camera. But I've got three wires put together here now. The white orange, the orange white and the white green wires.


Remember the white green pair was split. Next is the blue white pair. And it's the only pair that's in the opposite order with regard to white as the others. So, the solid blue, or the blue with the white stripe goes next. And then the white with the blue stripe goes after that.

And then comes that solid green or green with the white stripe after that. And then comes the white brown pair.

Now, if you do this a few hundred times, you start to remember the sequence. But it seems like every time before I start a project, I've got to go find that diagram. I go to and type in "RJ45" and find me a diagram.

So, now, let me show this. I know that's backwards, because I'm holding it up to where I can see it. But it is in order here. White orange, orange white, white green, blue white, white blue, green white, white brown and brown white.

Now, I've got them all flattened out really good here, as good as I can. Now, these wires are way too long. The mistake that so many people make is "They put the RJ connector on right now. They just put it right on there" and have all these wires. Well, we're going to cut those off.

And we're going to cut them off. For me, it's about the thickness, if I grab my thumb right there, it's just about that. That's what's left over and that's about right. So, I'm just going to cut these off. They're going to go flying here.

Chris: One of the blades on that cutter, I believe, at least what I have, is for flat Cat 5.

Kirk: Yes. Where the two blades meet, but almost meet?

Chris: Yes. Almost meet, that's correct.

Kirk: That's for stripping satin cable.

Chris: Satin cable, yeah.

Kirk: Like, for phone connections.

Chris: They actually, for a time, were making Cat 5 cables that you could do that were flat that were [inaudible at 00:31:17] compliant.

Kirk: Yeah, you're right. Okay, so I just cut all those little ends off. And by the way, once you cut it down to this level, they're too short for you to go reorder, to get them in the right order. You need to have them in the right order at this moment.

Once you've cut these down to where they're, at the most, a little over half an inch long, you can't go fix the order of those. So, I'm holding them really firmly in place, in the correct order.

Visually check them one more time. White-orange, orange-white, white-green and then blue-white. White-blue, green-white, white- brown and brown-white.

Now, I'm going to shove them in here. And I'm going to just let go and shove them in. And there are guides in the RJ connector that help guide each wire. So, as long as you're holding them flat, they all make their way in the right place.

Now, it's certainly a good idea to visually look in there. And if you have to use your old man reading glasses to make sure they're right, do so.

And then you see how the jacket, I've got the jacket partially pushed in there? I give it a good push. Get the jacket up in there.

Now, this is outdoor cable, it doesn't push as easily. On indoor cable, that jacket will slide up in there another maybe three- sixteenths of an inch.

Now, I'm holding the RJ tightly, tightly up against the cable. Now, I'm going to put it into the crimper. I'm holding the jacket of the cable, really shoving it in there and give it a good crimp. And there we go. It's done.

I have crimped the jacket. The clamp there is coming down on the jacket, so the jacket is being held in there, captivated. And when I crimped it, little blades on each of the eight copper contacts went into the insulation of the eight individual conductors.

Now, we can take the hood and put it on there. And we have a snag-free cable that we can pull backwards through a mess of wires and it would not snag. It's snagless.

So, what do you think? Did we do good?

Chris: It looks good.

Kirk: All right. Now, here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to do the other one a little faster and then we're going to put it in my cable tester. Where did my cable tester go? Here it is.

Just to show the cable tester works, this is not an RF cable tester. This doesn't qualify the cable to be fabulous or not fabulous. This checks to make sure that the conductors are all lined up correctly.

But it costs $8. I think I got this from eBay. It's made by Pyle. And it's okay. What's kind of neat about it, you plug the cable into this guy. And then you plug the other end into this guy. And you turn it on and this incredibly, stupidly bright light comes on and then it just starts scanning through.

You see the green, green, green, green, green, green, green. You should see eight greens in a row. Now, what this is indicating, on this particular model, it means that the connections at the other end are proper when it scans eight green lights all in a row.

Chris: Now, what if you had a crossover cable and testing it?

What would the display be?

Kirk: If you had a proper crossover, I'm not sure. I know that the green lights would not be in order. They would jump around some different order. In fact, here's the other end. And it's also scanning; it shows them.

I actually made a cable here at the house a couple of days ago and I did mis-wire it. I flipped around the blue and the green white. And so, I had a split pair.

Well, this thing found it. But it found it by showing me, it jumped one, two, four, three, five, six, seven, eight. So, the green lights did not flash in order. And they only did it at one end. It only showed it at the end of this thing and that meant that it was the other end that was mis-wired.

So, typically, I didn't read the directions for this thing before I started using it. And so, I had to figure out what that meant. Indeed, it meant that it was mis-wired at the other end, farther away from here. There you go. For $8, goodness gracious, that's a perfectly good deal.

All right, so let's make the other end of this. Hey, Andrew, could you watch the chatroom in case there's a question? Or maybe everybody's gone to sleep. So, I'm going to strip off the outer conductor here, it just breaks right off.

And if we were using regular indoor cable, that's all the stripping we'd have to do. And the outer jacket usually does break off pretty easily there. They score it and then break it and it breaks off. So, there's the inner one gone.

Here's this thing that Chris calls a ripcord and now it's gone. And so, there we are with our conductors. And I'm going to real quickly put them, oh, yeah. Got to un-twist them first. This is the part that hurts my fingers, all this un-twisting. So, there's the green-white pair, un-twisted.

Now, somebody in the chatroom may point out "Kirk's doing this wrong."

Chris: There are several ways you can do it. As we all know, if you are not aware of the name Steve Lampen [SP], he will tell you that the closest you keep the twist to the connector, the better off you'll be.

You can manage the twist and the jacket to the edge of the connector, you'll be in good shape.

Kirk: And if I pull this hood back, you'd see that they don't come un-twisted. I've shoved the jacket in so far up in there, which is where it should be, actually. That, for all intents and purposes, I might could have gotten half a twist out of each of those. It's just not worth it.

I really think I've done it as well as it can be done, with regard to that.

Chris: No, that's good. Somebody in the chatroom was talking about gel-flooded cables. I don't think that cable you have has got gel in it, by chance.

Kirk: You know, that'd be pretty cool and I have seen those. But no, this doesn't have any gel in it. But an underwater or a waterproof cable would have that.

Chris: The gel cable is typically used in moisture environments. Phone companies used to use them a lot for underground purposes. So, they wouldn't have to evacuate with nitrogen.

Kirk: That gel tastes terrible, by the way.

Chris: Oh, yes.

Kirk: It's no fun to eat. Okay, I know this is hard to see, but I'm trying to align these wires. I need to go do this to it, so I get them all nice and straight. If one of them has got a good curve in it somewhere, then it doesn't want to behave with the others and it's hard to get them straight again...

Chris: It takes practice.

Kirk: The solid brown one has gone and moved in here, so I've got to move this guy out. The solid brown is the last one on the right hand side, or on the bottom; whichever way you're looking at it. And almost done here, let's see. The solid green is being ornery, so I've got to move the solid green around.

This would be a whole lot easier if my eyes weren't 51 years old. You young guys have it made. All right, let's put the solid green there.

Chris: I've seen some of the cable connectors the young guys make, so I don't know.

Kirk: The thing is, this does matter. As you said earlier, there's RF. There's radio- frequency energy going through these wires. It's a high frequency. It's in the 100 megahertz to 350 megahertz range. And these have to be right. Otherwise, absolutely, the performance won't be good.

Chris: And I will tell you and I will not name the location this was done at, but I will tell you that I worked at a facility that was rebuilt and it was all based on Cat 5 cabling for a lot of the servers and audio and everything else.

And because of some of the, I guess the junctions, maybe the cross-connects, that were being employed, were not properly terminated with the twists in place. Believe it or not, the standing waves on the length on Ethernet cables earned the switch ports.

You opened up the switch and you can see burn marks at the bottom of the Ethernet switches. Because of the standing wave, the high-speed data. I was taken aback. I was like "What?"

Because we were talking to a company regarding one of the data issues. And the guy said "Look, the problem has to be at your cabling. Because according to what we can see on the data stream, the measurements we're making, something is wrong with your cabling." And we're like "No, it's all Cat 5 certified. Blah, blah, blah."

Sure enough, we had somebody come in to do a qualifier. And about 50 percent of the cables failed and it turned out that there was these little couplings that were designed, some kind of printed circuit board coupling that did not maintain the twists between the two connectors on the PC board.

Kirk: And when you said "qualified," they weren't using a cheap conductive-only tester, like this?

Chris: No, it was a Fluke tester. One I've used in the past that will actually display the wiring path, the far end, the near/end, cable length. And it will do the complete test and tell you if it's pass or fail.

You can do 1,000 megabit, the whole bit. One gig, the whole nine yards. And we were like "What?" And sure enough, one of the Ethernet switches, we opened up and you can see the discoloration at the connector.

Kirk: Wow.

Chris: I talked to a guy. At the time, this was Nortel. So, it was Nortel switches, which was formerly Bay Networks. And talked to one of the application engineers and he said "Oh, yeah. You've got a really bad insulation. You've got standing waves on that wire and the data is running. Eventually, it just burns the bottom. It just can't handle it."

So, I talked to Steve Lampen about it and he laughed. He's like "Oh, yeah. People have no idea what they're doing to their switches when they don't do the cabling right."

Kirk: Wow, that's good to know.

Chris: And you know how Steve is when he says these things?

Kirk: Yeah. If we were running little radio transmitters and we knew the [inaudible at 00:41:28] weren't right and they were standing waves, that's what would happen. We'd have nodes of high voltage and we could break down the insulation of the wire carrying it.

Chris: In the early days of experimenting, working with FM transmitters and low- power transmitters and antenna design, a friend of mine and I built a small directional antenna for an FM. We were just trying out some ideas.

And we discovered that we had a mismatch, the impedance mismatch of the antenna base that was not properly matching the cable length. It was about 150 feet of cable. It was [inaudible at 00:42:02]. It was that 9913 or something, double-shield [inaudible at 00:42:06].

And we observed. And we're running about 250 watts. It was at 98 Megahertz, so it was about dead center of the dial. And the cable, every wavelength was hot/cold, hot/cold because of the mismatch.

And we sat there and we were like "This is so cool." Granted, this was the worst thing you could have. But actually, you read theory and then we're actually finding this out in practice. And by using the heat, we tuned the [inaudible at 00:42:35] to get rid of the standing waves.

As a goof. We had a [inaudible from 00:42:39 to 00:42:42] everything else. But we said "You know what? Let's get real crazy with this experiment." And sure enough, as we tuned close to a proper match, the heat dissipated and the cable just was warm.

The Ethernet is the same way, I've been told and you read about it. So, those connectors have to be treated like an RF connection, like a BNC or an end connector.

Kirk: So, working with this cable, I was really having trouble with the solid green connector, wire. It needs to go between the whit-blue and the white-brown. But I had to really fiddle with it for a while to get it to behave. It kept wanting to encroach in-between the blue-white and the white-blue pair. But I've got--

Chris: [inaudible at 00:43:17]

Kirk: Sorry, what?

Chris: I was just going to say, what I sometimes do, when you have it that way or you're trying to get them to be flatter, I will take my index finger and my thumb and just up and down twisting them and pushing them. And that sort of flattens them out a little more and you can manage that.

The brown and the green are the ones that always were nasty. They always flip in the wrong place.

Kirk: By the way, I'll bet you. People who do this for a living, I bet they got tools to make this much easier. But this is what we broadcast engineers are doing. I bet there's tools out there that I don't know about.

All right, here we go. We're going to cut this one off. Now, they're cut off. And without letting go of this, because it will surely mess up if I do, I'm going to dump it right here into the connector, push them on home and there we go.

Now, I've got to crimp that; I wish that camera would focus closer. All right, so I put it in the crimper. And I'm pushing the outer in really hard so it gets in there and it gets crimped.

And guess what we forgot to do?

Chris: The hood.

Kirk: The hood. We didn't put the back on.

Chris: This is not a snag-free cable now.

Kirk: Are there people in the chatroom who are saying "I knew it. I've been telling you." Andrew is supposed to be watching the chatroom for us. I don't know if he is or not.

Chris: I'm looking at it. No, nobody's talking about the hood at the moment.

Kirk: You can't put this on now. You can't do it. So, just in case such a thing happened...

Chris: Somebody did put in the word "boot."

Kirk: Boot. That's the right word, isn't it? Put the boot in there.

Chris: Das Boot.

Kirk: Okay, so I'm going to do the right thing. I'm not going to let that lay around. I'm going to cut it off and start over again. And this time, I'm going to do it a little more quickly so we don't have to sit all the way through it.

We break off the outer conductor. There's the rubber that's left. You won't have that in indoor cable, only in outdoor.

Chris: Now, the chatroom is saying "Now, you can make two shorter cables."

Kirk: You really ought to put the boot on before you even start this process. So, before I go one little bit further, there's the boot. You should put the boot on before you even start. That's the first thing you should do.

Gosh, I can't believe I did that. I did that once this past weekend. We're going to talk about that. I moved my radio station in Mississippi, well, the one in Cleveland, Mississippi this weekend. And I had to make up a few cables.

Chris: A couple of people in the chatroom are saying "Is that worth the hassle and time making Ethernet cables?" And you're absolutely right. But sometimes, you just have to do it yourself.

Kirk: You know what? It's a very good point. If you can plan ahead and buy what you need. Especially if you buy them from Monoprice or some other price where they're $1, $2, $5, affordable. Not stupid $15.95. Don't buy them at Staples or Best Buy. Goodness gracious. You pay all kinds of money there.

You buy them at a wholesale price. Then, yeah. Don't make up your own cables.

Chris: It depends on the insulation.

Kirk: Yeah. This radio station, there's no need for us to have a structured cabling system. So, we don't have RJ45 patch base. We just wire everything direct where it needs to go and it's such a small installation and that's what works out for us.

But, yeah. Just buy them whenever you possibly can. All right, there's the orange white, there's the white green. And there's the blue and the blue white. And there's the green and white. And then there's the white brown and the brown.

I put them all together preliminarily in order. Flatten them all out nice and good. I know we're spending a lot of time on this. But you know what? If you learn to do this right...if you do it wrong, stuff doesn't work. Like what I experienced.

I was hooking up a high-power access point here in the house and I had that cable split. And you know what, it didn't work. It didn't work it all.

Chris: I hope it wasn't PoE.

Kirk: Actually, it was PoE. But nothing got hurt in the process.

Chris: Oh, good.

Kirk: It's one of my first PoE devices in the house besides these phones back here.

Chris: The high-powered is 1,000 milliwatts or 500-milliwatt RF?

Kirk: It'll do like a minus 19 DBM output. I'm not sure what that is in terms of milliwatts. I will check here. White orange, orange white and then comes, indeed, there it is, white green. Blue white, white blue, green white, white brown and brown white.

And I know you can't see this, but if you just get them all in, slide them all in. They go in their right spots. Shove that outer conductor on in there, push it in hard so it'll grab right there and crimp. And put the boot on.

And now, the moment of truth. "Can Kirk make a cable as good as a pre-made cable?" Well, we'll find out. Here's one end of this, hook it in. Live TV, folks. A lot can go wrong.

There's the other end. And just for your pleasure, I'll just stick these together and turn it on. Nothing. Wait a minute, got to plug that in. There we go. We hadn't plugged it all the way in.

There we go, okay. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. I think you can put this in a slower mode; I'm not sure if it tests more thoroughly, but it certainly goes a bit more slowly. One, two, three, four, five, seven, eight. And if they were--

Chris: BNC's for thinnet?

Kirk: Yeah. I haven't tried it with that yet.

Chris: Anybody still using thinnet?

Kirk: I don't know. It says it works with 10Base-T, token ring.

Chris: Token ring, that's right.

Kirk: TPPMD. Don't know what that is. Also, EIATIA 568-A and 568-B. We've been wiring to 568-B. Andrew, if you throw that picture up again. You see, it says wiring pattern T 568-B. And that's what everybody uses nowadays.

Somebody in the chatroom probably knows why A was used for a while and then it got switched to B when they were appropriate. It had to do with old phone wiring standards?

Chris: Yes, it did.

Kirk: Yeah?

Chris: And Europe had, for a while, standardized on the 568-A, I think it was.

Kirk: Of course. It's different. So, I have made us the cable. And I don't even know how long it is. It looks like it's about 9 feet. Let's see, there's 6, that's about 8 feet long, about an 8-foot cable.

Good, very good. So, now, we know how to do that. We'll refer people back to this episode if you need to know how to make a cable. I'll bet there's videos on YouTube that show that even better than I did it. There you go, all right.

Hey folks, our show is brought to you by, "This Week in Radio Tech." Our show is brought to you by Axia and the Axia Radius Audio Console. I think Andrew Zarian is going to show us his Axia Radius Console that he's got. There's Andrew and his Axia Radius.

You know, one of the things that I like about...when a podcaster, when a radio station puts an Axia Console in, they stop having mix-minus problems. Mix-minus problems just go away because the console does automatic mix-minus.

The operator can't mess it up. There's nothing for the operator to mess up. If the engineer just programs it correctly, which is easy to do. You pick the type of source that it is and you wire up and you're always fed mix-minus.

Chris Tobin, you're not hearing yourself back over your connection, are you?

Chris: Not at all, no. Mix-minus is working very well.

Kirk: I hear everything but me over my Skype connection to the GFQ network. And same thing for you. And the same thing when Chris Tarr is on the show or when David Bialik or any other guest is on the show with us. They hear everything except themselves.

And that's what you want. Because if you hear yourself back- delayed, it's crazy, you can't deal with it. Well, that's what mix-minus does for you and all the Axia consoles do an automatic mix-minus.

Now, Andrew, that console there, how many faders is that? Is it eight I'm counting?

Andrew: I believe it's eight.

Kirk: The thing we're looking at there, the thing that everybody calls the console, is really a surface. It's a control surface with lights and buttons and faders. What does it connect to? Is there any way you can show us that?

Andrew: You mean the back of it?

Kirk: No, the thing in the rack.

Andrew: I can't reach it.

Kirk: You can't reach it? Okay. I thought earlier, you swung your camera around.

Andrew: No, it's kind of locked in if I pull this. It's going to all come apart.

Kirk: Don't worry about. So, the radius connects via a CAN Bus cable; we're using what looks like heavy-duty Cat cable.

Andrew: I don't know if you guys can see that. My mic is blocking it.

Kirk: Anyway, one cable connects it over to the engine. And the engine has all the smarts and the Ethernet switch is built in to the engine. So, it provides PoE, Power over Ethernet.

So, if you want to hook a Telos phone system to it, you plug it right in. It even powers the phones. You can hook it up to an Ethernet switch, if you need to, another one to hook several rooms together.

That engine has local audio IO. So, it's got analog inputs, analog outputs. It has a couple of AES digital inputs and outputs. It has four microphone-level inputs as well.

And then, it also has the Ethernet switch built in. So, you can tie it to other Ethernet devices. Things like in Andrew's studio, he can feed the Omnia ONE audio processor over Ethernet. It becomes a live wire source and destination, it doesn't have to run other cables to it.

Now, Andrew is using some outboard mic processors, because he likes that mic processing. So, the output of those mic processors go and feed some of the analog inputs on the engine.

The engine has all the memory in it to hold several profiles for the console. So, let's say if Andrew does some shows that are all in-studio and other shows that are all Skype people, he could, if he wants to, he can make two different profiles. One for in-studio, one for Skype.

And I think Andrew just wanted to go ahead and just do them separately, set them up manually, which is not hard to do at all. But you can have different profiles to handle different show situations.

Maybe you have a radio station and you do music most of the time. But on weekends, maybe you do a big football game. So, you can easily just hit a button, the console reconfigures itself for that football game.

So many possibilities. The meters on that thing are gorgeous, you can see how bright they are. There are these bright LED meters. There's a clock and a timer built on the console.

And by the way, all the faders and the volume controls for the headphones and speakers, those are either optical in the case of the rotary ones. Or on the up and down linear faders. No audio actually goes through those. They actually just create a digital signal that controls the DSP circuitry back in the engine.

So, you don't have any crackling. You don't have noise on the faders. You never have to clean a fader. If you ever spill something in there, you can take it apart and clean it and we actually a kit to help you do that. But you're never going to get crackling on the faders.

In fact, the engineers at Axia, years ago, came up with this incredible algorithm that does away with a number of problems that other consoles have with regard to linear faders and having what we call a zipper problem. You don't have a zipper problem with Axia Consoles.

That console there, I think it's very inexpensive for a full- featured professional console. No, it's not a Mackie, no, it's not a Behringer. But I think it's on the order of about a $6,000 console for the Axia Radius Console.

Check it out on the Web at It's IP audio and connects very easily up with, literally, many dozens of other live wire-connected devices, like Telos phone systems or Omnia audio processors or other audio consoles from Axia. All right. Thanks a lot, Axia, for sponsoring "This Week in Radio Tech."

Well, guys, we've got a few minutes left. It's a quarter after the hour. And Andrew, thanks for showing off that studio. Any comments, Andrew, about the console? You've used it for almost a year now. What are your thoughts?

Andrew: I'll tell you. When you came to set it up, I was terrified of this thing. It was extremely intimidating at first, for me, not knowing how to do it because it was networking pretty much, right? You've got to kind of understand networking in order to understand this.

But you told me something that stuck with me. You said "Everything that you think you've got to do with this, you've got to throw it out the window. You're now doing old digital, this is totally different. You don't have to worry about the mix- minus not being leveled between each channel."

And that alone changed everything for me. I recently had to go and set someone's studio up. Kirk, I'll tell you, it was such a disaster to make all the mix-minuses balance where to the point that you're not overlapping.

Like, if we're doing a Skype call; even though I'm using [aux send] and technically have a mix-minus, you may be coming in hot to me and I may be going hot to you.

And the only way to do that is by playing around with each setting, sitting there for a couple of hours and fine-tuning everything. With this, you don't have to worry about that.

Kirk: You said "fine-tuning." There is no fine-tuning. You set stuff up and the levels are right and the routing is correct. And if it's not correct, it's because you didn't set something up right. And I've got to tell you, setting up that Radius console, it's like buying an airline ticket.

You select your route and what kind of seats you want and the day you want to go and the time you want to go. It's not as easy as playing solitaire, maybe, on a PC. But it's pretty intuitive. So, if you can buy an airline ticket, you can set up a Radius console.

Andrew: Kirk, also, another pro, no ground loops on the Skype lines. Before, we had awful ground loop issues with the Skype lines. And we've used the ground loop isolators and all that, but it wouldn't really fix a lot of the problem, it was still there.

I can take this up and pot it up all the way, there's no ground loop. Because we're using IP audio.

Kirk: The audio is digital and it's coming in over Ethernet. And Ethernet, we just put some connectors together here, right? Ethernet is inherently- balanced. That's what it's about. It's balanced.

And that means that if you've got a grounding problem in one room and another problem in another room, the Ethernet doesn't care. The first thing Ethernet hits when it goes into a computer or a device that has an Ethernet jack on it. The first thing that it hits is what Chris referred to as a balen [SP].

And typically, this is a transformer. It's a tiny little transformer. But the conductors, the pairs go into transformers. And that takes care of ground loops right there.

By the way, Ethernet also works well in high RF environments. Now, I'm not saying that we've experienced every possibility and you've got a high RF environment, maybe you should do shielded cable.

I've been involved with the installation and actually a live- wire network at a location that had two high-power AM transmitters. They had had RF problems out the yin-yang for years and just couldn't get rid of it.

Axia, the live-wire, just solved the problem. No RF problems anymore at all, it went away.

Andrew: I absolutely love it, Kirk. I can't ever go back. You know what they say? Once you go digital, you don't go back.

Kirk: Is that what they say?

Andrew: That is what they say.

Chris: That's what they say in Queens.

Andrew: It's a whole different saying here.

Kirk: I want to hit on one more thing before we run out of time. This past weekend, I moved to a radio station. I'm sorry I don't have pictures to be showing you. At least I don't think I do, maybe I do. Hang on just a second.

I'm sorry, I should have had this ready to go while I was yapping and I just didn't do it. How do I go get to my app here? How about we go there?

And in just a minute there, Mr. Zarian, I'm going to see if I can have you bring this up. See if any of these photos uploaded automagically, like they were supposed to. Come on. Let's see.

Well, we sure didn't get much in the way of pictures. I got a lot on the 35-millimeter camera, but not so many on this one.

Chris: The satellite issues spoke of moving. Was it C-Band or KU?

Kirk: Yeah. It was C-Band. Let me see.

Chris: Do you have a wire-mesh TVRO type of a down-link, or do you have a solid dish?

Kirk: What we had, I've got nothing here. I've got nothing helpful. All right. We had to move this C-Band dish. And look, I know plenty have a broadcasters have bigger dishes than this. This was one of those DH brand spun-aluminum dishes. It's a solid aluminum dish.

This itself, not so heavy. It is big. I want to say it was 3.2 or 3.3 meters.

Chris: It's a good C-Band, they'll get you one.

Kirk: A good 12 feet across. Here's the problem. At the old location, at the old studio we were at, the dish was on a pole that was 23 feet tall. We had no property upon which to set the dish at our old location.

The roof, we couldn't mount anything on the roof. It was a pitched roof and we would have had to do a lot of engineering to bolt something to the roof. So, the best solution was to get this freaking 8-inch Schedule 40 pipe. Five years ago, we welded a big plate to the bottom of it with gussets on it.

We put that in bolts and concrete in the ground. We ran that up the side of the building. And just at the top of the building, we put a mount there that held it to the top of the building. So, now it's held to the bottom, held to the top of the building.

And then, it extended up 4 more feet above that. It reduced to a 5-inch inside diameter, 5-1/2 OD Schedule 40 pipe. And that's where the sleeve of the satellite dish mount went over.

So, this thing is 23 feet up in the air. And we had some difficulty locating the right piece of the equipment to help us snatch it off of there.

We ended up getting what's referred to as a SkyTrac [SP] brand four-wheel drive fully articulating lift. Now, the one we got a hold of--

Chris: Sky-G in some places.

Kirk: Sky-G, yep. In some places, they're called a Pettibone. Because Pettibone is a brand name that makes this sort of thing. Ours didn't have a nice platform to stand on. It only had forks. So, we had to put a pallet on the forks and we stood on the pallet.

So, we got up there and we realized "You know what? It's not reasonable for two men to stand on this pallet and try to lift this dish off and manhandle it down." Uh-uh.

So, what we did was we went up there, 23 feet up. Loosened all the bolts, made sure that the thing would twist. And then we got a really strong strap and hooked it to the forks. Raised it on up higher. Hooked it to a good, strong point on the satellite dish mount.

Now, remember, the dish itself is kind of fragile. It's just fairly-thin aluminum. But the mount was really heavy-duty.

So, then we got off of the lift and on the roof. We kind of wiggled the dish back and forth while we were applying upward pressure from the forks and the strap. And within a few minutes, had it jiggled off of the pole and had it free. Very carefully took it down to the ground and load it on to a flatbed trailer.

At the new site, it was a lot easier. Two days before, we had dug a hole that turned out to be way too big. Two-and-a half yards of concrete didn't quite fill the hole up, it dug a big hole. And we had a big 5-inch Schedule 40 pipe already in the hole.

And so, then, we just had to figure out how to manhandle the thing up onto the top of this pole. Got it done and I must say, aiming the thing was pretty easy. We had an XDS satellite receiver. And pretty well-knew, we already had the elevation set.

We didn't mess with the elevation on the mount. So, we pretty much had to swing it back and forth, tweaked that up. We tweaked the elevation to make sure that was good.

Got about a 13 DB Eb/N0, a noise signal.

Chris: That's good.

Kirk: And, yeah. Locked it down, Eb/N0 stayed the same. And ran the RG-6 inside and bam. We got satellite to two different receivers.

Chris: What's the look angle at that location? Was that AMC-8 you're looking at?

Kirk: Yeah, I'm going to guess that in southern Mississippi, the look angle is not terribly low. It's probably, if I had to guess, 19, 20, 21 degrees, something like that.

Chris: That's nice.

Kirk: [inaudible at 01:05:09].

Chris: You're looking 9 degrees off the horizon. I can't tell you how many times we did rooftop installations and we're shooting across, it's like "I can't believe we're getting a signal."

For those of you who may not be familiar with this, the satellite that Kirk's radio station is looking is AMC-8. It hovers in the arc of satellites over just about between California and Hawaii. It's the second from last satellite in the arc, of satellites that go around the equator.

So, if you can picture trying to draw a line from, say, New York City to that satellite, it's about 9 degrees off the horizon. But you, Kirk. You had 19 or 20, that's even better.

Kirk: It is 22,000 miles above the surface of the earth, right? If it's happening at the orbital arc which is smaller, due to gravitation or whatever, we'd all weigh less, I suppose.

But that's where it's parked. It has to be there to be geosynchronous. So, it goes around the earth and it orbits at exactly the same rate that the earth orbits. So, it always appears to be at the same point in the sky.

Chris: You know what the funny thing is with that whole principle? That geosynchronous position is about a 150-mile square box. And the satellite actually does about a figure-8 rotation.

Kirk: I've heard that, yeah. That's perfectly [inaudible at 01:06:32].

Chris: That's where that phrase "Center of the box" comes from.

Kirk: Center of the box, yeah.

Chris: Is where the figure-8 crosses, the infinity symbol crosses. It's just when you start reading it, the science behind satellites and how they work and what they do, you start to appreciate the technology and go "Okay." It's like looking for a needle in a haystack.

But 22,000 miles is exactly what the satellite is. And if you're wondering when the satellite fails at end of life, nobody goes up and grabs it. It's actually pushed into an orbit that the earth has, a magnetic orbit that just is the graveyard. Where the satellites just sit and rotate and go nowhere.

Kirk: So, they don't even send them to burn up in the atmosphere and come on down?

Chris: Oh, no. That's like an international treaty violation, you don't do that. Because you can't guarantee that all of it will be destroyed.

Kirk: That's true.

Chris: So, it gets pushed into a graveyard. It's a dead zone of the magnetic fields. And they just push it. They push it off-orbit and then, slowly, it moves into this position. It's a natural thing. It just sits there. And that's where all the satellites just hang out. They just sit there and float.

Kirk: It's a dead satellite graveyard.

Chris: Yeah, I had a chance to sit and talk with a true rocket scientist. A guy whose job was to, what they call, fly their spacecraft from an earth station, GE Americom. And he told me how it worked and all the magnetics involved. I'm like "Whoa. This is good stuff."

So, I just thought to add that to your fun move. What appeared to be a simple metal dish on a rooftop to a new stationary position.

Kirk: The other difficult thing about the move, luckily, I didn't have to take it down. We had a spare Scala brand, I guess now [inaudible at 01:08:16] but a Scala-brand paraflector, for our 950 megahertz STL shot.

Our STL shot ends up being about three miles shorter than it used to be. I only had to get the antenna up about 38 feet above the ground, which is all I felt comfortable anyway with this particular self-supporting tower that's at the new site.

The new building that we bought happened to be a radio station 20 years ago. But we moved right in to a place that used to be a radio station, anyway.

So, the tower was already there. I personally climbed the tower, put the paraflector up. Ran the half-inch coax to it. Put new connectors on the half-inch co-ax and such. Tied it off to the tower properly.

So, that was kind of the heavy lifting. Now, I've got to tell you. This studio, you've maybe seen pictures of it before here on the show. This is an Axia studio. This is an old demo system that I bought from my employer for literally pennies on the dollar, so it was nice that I got it, but it was an old beat-up demo system.

And it's a 6 fader little element console. And it's our separate system, so it's a separate mix engine, separate power supply, separate Ethernet switch, a couple of nodes. Actually, three nodes altogether, one back in the tech center and two in the control room.

And I've got to tell you. That move was just as easy as it could be. It was probably not an hour worth of reconnecting. And I think a couple cables had bad tabs on them, so I had to go make some new cables for that.

But that was the pleasurable part. That was really easy to move. We did have to rerun cables to people's headphone amps and jacks. But, gosh. I'll tell you, moving IP-based stuff, studio gear. Such a pleasure.

Chris: It really is the way to go.

Kirk: Easier than rewiring a stereo system, honestly. It's just so easy.

Chris: I miss those days of pulling 25-pair cables and Amphenol connectors and snapping them into the side of the 66-block. And then cross- connecting those wires to the inputs and outputs of the console.

Now, come on. You don't miss those days of building a harness on a wooden backboard and placed underneath the consoles? You're on your back trying to do punch blocks?

Kirk: How about sitting on an upside-down 5-gallon bucket for three days while you use a punch-down to punch blocks on the wall?

Chris: Yes.

Kirk: No fun.

Chris: We go back to the old days of Christmas tree blocks and soldering.

Kirk: Oh, please no.

Chris: There you go. Now, the horror stories begin.

Kirk: All right, I think we're done. Should we put a fork in this episode?

Chris: Absolutely.

Kirk: All right. Hey, coming up on future episodes, we have next week, Shane Toven, who is an engineer up in Wyoming. He climbs towers, goes to all kinds of mountaintop transmitter sites. And he has stories to tell and some things to tell us, particularly.

So, Shane Toven, fantastic contract engineer. Actually, I think he works for maybe Wyoming Public Radio? I'm not sure, I don't know. Good guy.

And then, the week after that, on Halloween, our show will be at a special time, sometime in the afternoon. Andrew, do you have what time we agreed we upon? Do you know?

Andrew: 2:00 p.m. east.

Chris: 2:00, I thought?

Kirk: 2:00 Eastern.

Chris: It was 2:00 Eastern.

Kirk: 2:00 Eastern, 1:00 Central time for "This Week in Radio Tech" on Halloween, October 31st. Our guest will be Chris Crump from Comrex.

And he'll talk a bit about their audio stuff, which is cool. But he's also going to talk about their video box that shoots video over wireless gear.

Chris: That's a cool box.

Kirk: Yeah. A lot of research has gone into their implementation. I applaud them for doing all of that. So, that's coming up. Thanks to Axia for sponsoring "This Week in Radio Tech."

Go to and check out the Radius Console and be just like Andrew. Or at least have the same console he does. Nobody can be like Andrew.

Take care, folks. Chris Tobin, thanks for being with us. I appreciate it.

Chris: You're welcome, anytime. I have a good time with this. This is fun.

Kirk: All right. We'll see you next week. And we'll see you next week on "This Week in Radio Tech." Bye-bye.

Topics: Audio Technology


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