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Field Report: Broadcast Tools Audio Sentinel
SNMP capabilities provide for multiple units to be monitored with any SMNP manager software. SMTP username and passwords are supported too.
All audio and relay connections are via the Broadcast Tools standard euro-block screw connectors. The Internet NET connector is the standard RJ-45 port, and power is provided by the included 7.5Vdc external power supply. Front panel indicators show valid audio present, while the "PWR/Heart Beat" indicator slowly flashes to indicate processor operation and power. Separate indicators show which input is selected and there is a manual select button for local operation of the Audio Sentinel that duplicates the rear-panel remote/ext connection.
No goody-box required
Because the Audio Sentinel comes with both straight-through and cross-over CAT-5 cables, you don't need to check your goody-box for these cables for programming and normal connection to the Internet. Connection to your PC and programming your Audio Sentinel is straightforward, as step-by-step instructions are provided. The necessary IP address data can be obtained from an IT manager. In my case, the Gateway, Broadcast ID, Subnet mask and specific IP address data were supplied by the IP provider prior to installation. Again, step-by-step instructions are included for customizing your Audio Sentinel as much or as little as you require. Password protection is standard and you can select the level of access for eight users; three levels include monitor only, full remote control or administration. The Audio Sentinel will also generate a show-log to display which input is active, what day and time an alarm was generated, the relative audio level for each input channel and other parameters. You can choose when or if to send show-log reports via e-mail to up to eight recipients.
The audio switcher is programmable for level detection, time delay before switching, alarm generation and automatic or manual operation. In my case, the out-of-state programmer can access the Audio Sentinel via Internet, enter the assigned security code and monitor all parameters, check the alarm show-log and manually select the alternate audio source to feed the on air processing. This is great for EAS or weather emergencies, or special programs that can originate from anywhere in the world by an external, IP-based audio codec. (That's a whole story in itself!)
Each audio source can be labeled as it will appear on the Web page for the Audio Sentinel during initial set-up, so operators can easily identify what they are monitoring. Setting up the e-mail addresses for the alarm notification and show-logs is a one-time event, but you can change data or add data anytime via the Internet once your Audio Sentinel is installed and operational.
By the way, note the warning in the manual about using the Save Settings button when you are done with the various programming entries or you will be entering those settings again!
Also note that your new IP address data will not take effect until you power-down the Audio Sentinel when you're finished with programming. You can easily make changes and enter new data once you have made the final connection to the Internet.
You can download the manual for the Audio Sentinel from the Broadcast Tools website and study it along with your own "reverse engineering" sheet prior to arrival.
Now when the STL burps during heavy fog or loss of power at the primary studio location, the switch-over to the auxiliary audio source occurs within the prescribed time and generates an immediate alarm e-mail message to me, the studio and the network headquarters in another state. If there is a live, remote broadcast anywhere, it can be routed to the auxiliary source input on the Audio Sentinel and seamlessly switched to on air ... all over the Internet. Special announcement during un-manned hours? No problem. This can easily be handled by a single operator at the main OpsCenter located in another state.
I could go on and on with the other features and site-specific programming for my Audio Sentinel, but I recommend you download the manual from www.broadcasttools.com and check it out for your specific needs. You will be pleasantly surprised.
Bradford is the owner of Broadcast/Audio Services, Jackson, MI.
Editor's note: Field Reports are an exclusive Radio magazine feature for radio broadcasters. Each report is prepared by well-qualified staff at a radio station, production facility or consulting company.
These reports are performed by the industry, for the industry. Manufacturer support is limited to providing loan equipment and to aiding the author if requested.
It is the responsibility of Radio magazine to publish the results of any device tested, positive or negative. No report should be considered an endorsement or disapproval by Radio magazine.
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