Field Report: Belar FMCS-1

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Since 1964 Belar has produced professional broadcast equipment and today, broadcast engineers are universally familiar with Belar. From the moment I started in broadcasting I used Belar modulation monitors to evaluate my stations' modulation and other important parameters. As rudimentary as those old units now seem, I knew I could trust and rely on them. Our FMM-1 and the FMS-1 units were directly wired to the studio monitors and I'd make many a DJ panic when I'd fail to remember this and press one of the CAL buttons -- ppfff!!!!

Belar FMCS-1

My high expectation for Belar products was certainly upheld when its Wizard line was introduced. These are professional quality monitors with extremely high reliability and accuracy. No longer did we have to send the units in for calibration, DSP did that job right from the front panel. Usually using the auto-cal function wasn't even necessary because the Wizards don't really ever drift. So solid are these, that in the 15 or so years I've been using them, I can count only two failures. Both on FMSA-1 stereo monitors and both were quickly and economically repaired by Belar factory service.

Ultimately, the time comes when one looks for improvement and even the most dependable instrument gets cast aside for whatever the next generation brings. The Belar FMCS-1 is that next generation tool. Beautifully engineered, well executed, and solid as any that Belar have placed before it.

The FMCS-1 is more than just the next generation in modulation monitoring. Along with improving on what the Wizard system does, it combines several Wizard boxes into one DSP based component. Along with the obvious FM modulation and stereo monitoring and demod capability, the FMCS-1 incorporates an RDS monitor, two SCA monitors, and a spectrum analyzer. This obviously saves space and installation time, but also allows an engineer to have on hand monitoring devices he'd not necessarily have bought separately. Where the Wizard system required options such as the DC4 or OPT2 down converter for direct connection to a transmission line sample or the RFA-4 RF amplifier for off-the-air measurements, the FMCS-1 does not. All of these inputs are supported directly.

The FMCS-1 is HDRadio aware and includes filtering options to improve analog measurement accuracy when used in the company of HD carriers - a feature that will be of increasing importance as we move to higher power HD signals. Add the FMHD-1 for detailed HD Radio monitoring and measurement.

  Performance at a glance  
  ■ RF filtering improves HD Radio measurements
■ Frequency agile
■ Spectrum analyzer
■ Email and hardwire alarms
■ FM and two SCA demods, RDS analyzer

Where the Wizard system features a respectable software and RS-232 remote control interface it only has a few simple contact closures for peak indicators and a "general" alarm. The FMCS-1 adds full IP connectivity but can also be used with a modem or direct connected via RS-232 if needed. Discrete alarms are reported by email via an SMTP mail service and a complete replication of the front panel is by way of Belar's WizWin software. There are also four user-assignable relay-isolated outputs for direct connection to virtually any facility remote control system.

The WizWin software included with the unit can support up to eight devices including the legacy Wizard system and the CSA-1 spectrum analyzer. I have Belar equipment spread around throughout my cluster so I simply have a nicely labeled tab assigned to each device on the connections page of the software. Data logging can be configured too.

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