With WheatNet-IP, Anything's Possible

Joe Schloss

It has been our experience that some of the best ideas come from small-market engineers like Joe Schloss, who has racked up an impressive list of useful purposes for his WheatNet-IP Intelligent Network.

In the two months since Saga Communications acquired 15 WheatNet-IP BLADEs to network stations KICD-AM/FM and KIGL-FM in Spencer, Iowa, Chief Engineer Schloss has engineered a way to isolate station equipment from 200 feet of copper and all the hum and lightning associated with having an adjacent AM tower.

He also plugged a BLADE into an emergency studio downstairs, where station staff were able to simply hit the console’s “OMG” (Oh My Gosh!) button to send a weather feed to all three stations at once as they ran for cover during a tornado. And, of course, he has BLADEs in every major access point in the facility in order to instantly send emergency feeds throughout, something that would have taken some time to set up before.

Next, we understand that Schloss will be heading to the local fairgrounds, where he will install a BLADE as a backup there should the studios at 2600 North Highway Blvd burn to the ground, which they have, once. In 1948, the studios were entirely rebuilt after a fire all but destroyed the existing infrastructure. At the time, patchbays were installed as the state-of-the-art routing system, and Schloss and two other engineers before him have nursed the system along ever since. Currently, Saga sets up operation at the Clay County Fairgrounds for the nine days of the county fair. By adding a BLADE to the fairgrounds studio, the group will have full backup. One BLADE can carry the DNA of the entire studio and operate the station from any remote location with a link, should disaster strike again.

Meanwhile, back at the studios, Schloss integrated a 15-BLADE WheatNet-IP Intelligent Network into the stations’ existing multichannel boards. The Wheatstone BLADE plugged right into the boards, which are analog/digital hybrids but still have some life left in them. Schloss was able to network the boards using the BLADEs, each of which has mixing, silence sensing and GPI/O logic. Should he want to send a play-by-play sports feed to all the stations in the building, for example, all Schloss has to do is route the Marti RPU to the BLADEs to make it happen.

He also made good use of the BLADE’s intelligence for setting up a bidirectional feed to the studios’ adjacent AM tower, effectively isolating expensive equipment from 200 feet of copper and all the hum and lightning associated with that much copper. He added two media changers which take Ethernet traffic from the BLADEs and convert it to optical, and vice versa, for bidirectional fiber transport between the studio and the RF site. “What this does is protect the facility from a lightning strike because lightning can’t come up the fiber,” says Schloss. “We couldn’t do that without the BLADEs.”

Schloss tells us he plans to add a few more BLADEs to the Spencer, Iowa, facility next year. We can’t wait to hear what he comes up with next.

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