A Tale of Two Tielines
A Tale of Two Tielines
By Adrian Hook, 96.5 Inner FM
Here at 96.5 Inner FM (3INR) we have much to be thankful for - generally, but most particularly to Tieline and it's incredible Commander G3 and i-Mix G3 mixer/codec. Here's why:
For years, we had dreamed of owning Tieline G3 equipment for use on the over 40 Remote Outside Broadcasts we conduct annually, the majority being for our VAFA football broadcasts. The cost was always prohibitive so we soldiered on as best we could with our venerable McCubbin RTL analogue equipment, aided and abetted by some technical gizmos dreamed up by our brilliant techie, Tim Armstrong to get the best possible sound quality over a POTS line.
In 2008, however, salvation came to Inner FM in the form of our local East Ivanhoe Community Bank Branch of the Bendigo Bank who provided the station with a Community Grant - thus enabling the station to find the remaining sheckles to finally get our hands on our much coveted Tieline G3 equipment. We used it almost from the day it arrived for Street Festivals, Community events and all last year's VAFA Football broadcasts over POTS and the sound was just great - at long last, we could play music from the remote OB site without it sounding like being stuck "On Hold" on the telephone.
A cloud was forming on the horizon, however, which at the time, we didn't realise just how potentially damaging it could be to the station. Since gaining our fulltime licence in December 1990 we had used the Telstra Analogue Audio Network for our studio to transmitter link. Early in 2009, Telstra announced that the service would be withdrawn in November 2009. In it's place, Telstra offered the station what was, in effect, a broadband link over the internet at almost four times the cost of our current monthly rental! Over time, it would send the station broke so we declined the offer and went looking for an alternative - a UHF radio STL.
|Our STL POTS Line - yes it worked!||
The i-Mix G3 in situ - saving our bacon 24/7!
The studios of Inner FM have been located in Warringal Shopping Centre in Heidelberg, Melbourne since 1988, when we were test broadcasting prior to being granted a licence. We are still there thanks to the generosity of successive owners. Our transmitter is located at the Austin Hospital complex about a kilometre away, as the crow flies and despite the construction of the "New" Austin Hospital on the site a couple of years ago, we still retained line-of-site, just! We approached Centre Management at the shopping centre and they gave us in principle approval to mount a yagi-type antenna (which we thought would do the job) on the roof, as did the hospital, but upon applying to the ACMA for a licence for the proposed STL we were informed that due to the proximity to the Melbourne CBD we would have to use much larger and heavier Grid Parabolic antennas instead, raising a whole lot of engineering questions along the way.
So, we had to go back to the shopping centre management which had just changed due to the Centre being sold and put an amended proposal taking into consideration the now much larger antennae specified by the ACMA. It was now November - just a matter of days before Telstra switched off the Analogue Audio Network and we had no alternative means of getting our signal from the studio to transmitter. Things looked very grim indeed...... until, that is, our techie, Tim Armstrong mentioned that there was a telephone located a matter of metres away from the transmitter at the top of the boiler house at the Austin Hospital. We approached hospital management and without actually begging, we asked if we could "borrow" their emergency phone line till such time as the radio STL was installed. To their eternal credit, Austin management agreed and our Tieline equipment was adapted to provide the station with a broadcast service for a few days.........
Our brilliant technician, Tim Armstrong (on the right) along with his two helpers, Daniele Magarelli (on the left) and Struan McGregor in the middle.
Well, a few days turned into almost FIVE MONTHS!! We finally switched over to the radio STL last Friday (which sounds great, incidentally). For almost five months our brilliant Tieline Commander G3 Studio Rack unit and i-Mix G3 Mixer worked 24/7 using a humble internal phone extension and it never let us down. When the hospital phone system reset itself every morning around 3a.m., the Tieline codec would just re-dial and re-establish the link - for five months!! Over the summer, that transmitter room at the Austin Boiler House gets very, very hot (over 40 degrees C sometimes), but it was nothing the i-Mix G3 mixer couldn't handle. Truly, this was service above and beyond the call of duty and we thought that credit should be given where credit is due: without our Tieline equipment (and the conveniently placed phone line, of course), we would have been up the proverbial Swanee without the proverbial paddle, so we have a lot to thank all you clever people at Tieline for producing such brilliant, hardy, reliable equipment not only for our remote outside broadcasts, but for simply keeping us on air. Thank you.
Thanks again to everyone at Tieline for producing such fabulous kit and we wish you continued success taking Aussie knowhow and technology to the world.
Yours in radio (and eternally gratefully)
Treasurer, 96.5 Inner FM
To find out more about the i-Mix G3 click http://www.tieline.com/products/The-Tieline-G3-Range/i-Mix-G3-MixerCodec