Australian broadcaster deploys a Gateway WheatNet-IP high density codec for STL and outside broadcast applications to reduce studio hardware requirements.
By Tim Aquilina, Chief Engineer, Sunshine Coast Broadcasters
I have been the Chief Engineer for 91.9 SEA FM and 92.7 MIX FM on the Sunshine Coast in South-East Queensland since 2017. We have used Tieline codecs for years and have 3 Merlin PLUS codecs with WheatNet-IP at the studio that we use for outside broadcasts and 2 ViA codecs as well. We have always had good experiences with Tieline, so we purchased a new Tieline Gateway 8 codec to carry backup stereo STL signals for SEA FM and MIX FM from Maroochydore to Bald Knob. The Gateway has a WheatNet-IP card installed to interface directly with our studio’s Wheatnet AoIP network.
Studio audio is streamed from the Gateway 8 via Ethernet port 1 using our regular broadband provider. Ethernet port 2 connects to a local Layer 2 broadband link provided by Our Community Broadband, which is a small local business, and we like to support these types of businesses where possible. We purchase 500kpbs of bandwidth on their network which delivers diversity in our signal paths to ensure connectivity if an outage occurs. Connections are bidirectional, which means we also send audio back to the studio for confidence monitoring.
Two Merlin codecs are located at the transmitter site: one for each station. They are each connected to Our Community Broadband’s service on Ethernet port 1 and a 4G Teltonika RUT950 cellular modem is attached to Ethernet port 2. Again, this provides diversity if one IP interface is lost.
We send the primary STL link for both stations from the studio via a Wheatstone SG-192 Stereo Generator with MPX using a licensed Huawei link path from Maroochydore to Radar Hill. The signal is then bounced from Radar Hill straight into the transmitter at Bald Knob. We employ SNMP monitoring using PRTG software which sends SMS alerts if any connectivity issue are detected. I can also configure and monitor the codecs remotely using Tieline’s HTML5 web-GUI if required.
We chose Tieline codecs because they are very reliable. They do a great job and include all the features I look for in a professional broadcast codec. The codecs never fail and the only time we lose a connection is when there is a network outage, which in the past 5 years has only been 3 or 4 times, and the automated backup connections always save the day. What’s also amazing is that very often other broadcast networks come into our studios to link up from Maroochydore to other stations around Australia. This is usually very simple to organise as just about every radio station in Australia has Tielines.
We do a lot of outside broadcasts and I assembled 2 purpose-built portable rack kits on wheels. Each kit is very robust with a lockable section. It includes a ViA codec, radio mics, headsets, IEMs, and a Teltonika RUT 950 4G LTE modem to stream live IP audio. They are very easy to set up on location and my team only have to set up PA speakers, load the program in the codec and hit connect. That’s it.
In fact, the ViA saved the day on one occasion when Mix FM’s annual Easter Egg Hunt was broadcast live throughout the morning show from Sunchine Coast Stadium. All of a sudden there was a huge audible ‘bang’, which you could hear clearly on air, as the Stadium’s power transformer exploded! The ViA ran on the internal battery and didn’t miss a beat for the rest of the show.
The ViA is such a reliable product. I love using it and so do the other engineers. We have broadcasted with it underwater, above ground, and everywhere in between! I have connected using LAN connections, portable 4G modems, and USB cellular dongles. There really are so many options.
(“Sunshine Coast Broadcasters Trust Tieline” was first published in RedTech Magazine, July/August edition, 2022)