WPIG Makes a Huge Technological Leap

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Facility Showcase, Feb 2010

The good folks at Logitek provide pre-wired cables to most flavors of termination blocks at different lengths. The option here was to terminate all the analog audio ins and outs into 66 blocks from the Logitek audio engine. The Logitek Audio Engine has the option for AES/EBU in and out. However, in this particular installation, the majority of our sources and destinations in the market were analog and the need for AES/EBU was small to none. Thus the Audio Engine was purchased without any AES/EBU cards in it. Though if need be, we can add AES/EBU functionality by the addition of an audio card in the Audio Engine.

Also added were 66 block terminations to the newly run cables to and from the three studios. While on the subject of the studio cable runs, traditional multi-pair shielded cables were used for the analog audio runs. Also included were CAT-5e 25-pair cables for computer network connectivity to the rooms and the RS-422 communication lines necessary for the Remora Consoles to communicate with the audio engine. These 25-pair cables were also terminated in 66 blocks that are CAT-5e compliant. The only computer network connectivity that did not take advantage of the cables was the automation network, which was set up for gigabit speed. Most of the automation network connections to the switch were kept in the rack room since many of the automation workstations were physically installed there. So the CAT-6 cables were kept short. For the workstations located in the studios for production, a commercially made CAT-6 cable was purchased and run into the rooms directly from the automation switch.

Punchin' and grinnin'

Relics in the rack: WPIG's carousel.

Relics in the rack: WPIG's carousel.

As a very good friend once said, “If you have all your terminations, it is time to be punchin' and a grinin'.” Yes, cross connecting was next on the agenda. Since most of the audio sources and destinations would remain in the rack room, cross connecting was short and to the point. On the automation side, the keyboards, video for the monitors, and the mice connections were remoted to the air studios with Avocent KVM extenders. Connectivity from the local to the remote KVM was accomplished through CAT-5e cables. In this instance, we utilized the 25-pair runs into the rooms. The only workstations that did not have KVM extenders on them were workstations designated for production. Here it was deemed better to have the workstations in the rooms so access to CD/DVD drives were available.

With everything in place, and all the cross connections made, it was time to cut over to the new systems. To accomplish this task without losing any air time, we had to run the on-air for each studio out of the production room one at a time for an evening each. The old equipment of each room was removed along with the old wiring. As I mentioned earlier, there was a heroic amount of legacy cables in the studios. They were all cut and pulled out to make room under the counter tops. Once the room was cleared, the new equipment was brought in and connected. Each room took approximately six to eight hours to strip down and then re-populate with the new equipment. Having everything pre-wired ahead of time also helped in this venture. For those of you keeping count, the production room was last in the upgrade scheme.

With WPIG and WHDL comfortably using the new consoles and automation system, the decision to go with an audio router-based console system definitely made the job go easier considering everything that had to be danced around. It gave us the ability to pre-wire 80 percent of the connections without affecting the legacy operation as most were kept localized to the rack room. The hard part was doing a dance with legacy equipment that had their dance cards all filled over the 20-plus years of operation.

Atkins is VP, director of engineering of Backyard Broadcasting, Buffalo, NY.

-- continued on page 4

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