Field Report: Belar FMCS-1

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Using the WizWin software to interact with the unit remotely is intuitive and straightforward. Operating the unit directly isn't difficult either but I may have chosen to add enter, menu, and back keys to the front panel rather than limiting all user input to the jog wheel; but that's a minor issue. The full color display is well laid out and super sharp. All available data is divided into 12 pages with access and interaction via the jog wheel. Rotating the jog wheel steps through pages or menu selections, pressing or holding the wheel in makes a selection or invokes a menu display; it's responsive but takes a bit of time to get familiar with.

software screens

Naturally the best part of the FMCS-1 is the very accurate and detailed information it provides about what's being broadcast. In fact, the unit provides nearly every bit of essential modulation data and more. Information about RF modulation and stereo multiplex are provided in both summary and detail views with bargraph meters. A surprisingly good and very handy three-page spectrum analyzer allows for close inspection of the composite spectrum and gives the user ability to confirm radiated energy is within limits. The unit incorporates two SCA monitors and an RDS monitor with a full page dedicated to basic RDS data, too.

Six balanced and two unbalanced analog outputs as well as four AES unbalanced digital outputs are provided. All are user assignable to output any combination of audio from each demod as well as the pilot tone, stereo matrix, and a test tone. Alarms can be setup to close one of four user-configurable contacts, send an email, display on the front panel, or any combination of the three. Thresholds and timeouts are fully user adjustable. All network I/O is handled by the Lantronix XPort AR embedded device server that now supports SMTP mail relays. Analog and LVDS digital composite outputs round out the rear panel.


Normally I prefer discrete components to an all-in-one box because rarely do combo units make a positive impression on me. The combination AM/FM/cassette recorder/turntable I had as a teenager did everything I wanted it to do; just none of it well. This Belar and its sibling, the FMHD-1, are notable exceptions and are more than worthy of a few rack units in your transmitter room rack.

Kernen is chief engineer of Greater Media Detroit.

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