Pre-Internet Publications

Publish or perish, I always say.

This is a collection of some of my non-internet publications.  Those of you who know me well are familiar with my obsessive and compulsive interest in precise time and frequency measurement.  Many of the following items reflect that interest.  (Much more evidence of my interest in this hobby can be found on the No-Frills Technical Links Page.  I assume you are familiar with QST, TV Technology, EDN, and Broadcast Engineering.

My article about Channel 37 was published in TV Technology, September 7, 2005, and was soon quoted here in its entirety.  But you can also read it here and see the footnotes, references, illustrations and updates.

The article, as published in TV Technology, contained one serious typographical error:  Instead of "10 to 15 watts", it should say "10–15 watts", which would be .001 femtowatt.

QST, November 1983:  This was a letter to the editor of QST (a ham radio magazine) which showed up in the Technical Correspondence section.  It is a critique of an article which appeared in the August 1983 issue of QST, in which the author (NØAJY) described a frequency standard he had designed, which used the color subcarrier in a television receiver as a frequency standard.  This was a good idea for a few years in the 1970's, because the TV networks used atomic standards (rubidium clocks) for control of the subcarrier frequency.  However a technological advance — of which most people were unaware — negated the usefulness of this technique, and that advance was the widespread use of frame synchronizers at local TV stations.  Note that the term "cb" in this case is an abbreviation for "color burst", not "citizens band".

EDN, July 1985:  This article describes a BASIC program I wrote as an improvement upon a program which appeared in an article a few months earlier.  This program quickly calculates the two best standard one-percent resistor values to use in a simple voltage divider.  The other guy's program went through every possible combination of values and kept track of the best results, but since there are 96 standard one-percent resistor values, his program had to make the same calculations 96×95 times.  My program took a different approach to solve the problem more quickly.  The 96 standard values are evenly spaced powers of the 96th root of 10, so it is quicker to use the voltage ratios to arrive at the correct resistor values.

EDN, 1986:  This is another Design Idea article co-authored with Richard Kihn, who is now the Chief Engineer of KFDM-TV (not KSDM) in Beaumont, TX.  This project began in the late 1970's when inexpensive digital clocks first became available.  Unlike 21st-century digital clocks which usually have their own crystal oscillators, the first digital clocks used the 60-Hz power line frequency as a time base.  Unfortunately, Beaumont was (and is) a heavily industrial area with frequent thunderstorms and the quality of the AC power was often far from ideal, so the digital clock in use at KFDM-TV drifted unacceptably.  (Sidebar discussion:  One clever way around this problem came from the invention of the MM5369 which was a crystal-controlled source of clean 60-Hz square waves.)  Anyway, Richard wanted to use the station's very stable sync generator as a timebase for the digital clock.  Simple arithmetic revealed that the 59.94 Hz "Vertical Drive" signal in the station's sync generator needed a correction of exactly 0.1%, which was accomplished by adding one extra pulse to the clock input after every thousand Vertical Drive pulses.

EDN, 3/31/1987:  This article in the Design Ideas section describes a circuit which interprets the quadrature outputs of an optical encoder into "Up" and "Down" pulses without backlash.  This is accomplished by examining the state of one encoder output at the moment there is a transition on the other output.  Simple logic chips sort it all out.

EDN, 10/27/1988:  This Design Idea was one of the simplest and one of the most popular.  Several people have mentioned seeing this article, which is quite gratifying.  The circuit is little more than a fifteen-bit pseudorandom sequencer and a solid state relay.  The "chattering" relay makes an incandescent lamp flicker, which is useful in theatrical effects or outdoor advertising.  The schematic diagram published in EDN included the following errors which were not in the drawings I submitted:  The "0.68 pF" capacitor is of course 0.68 µF.  The pin on the 555 with no connection (NC) is pin 5.  And the Exclusive-OR gate is a 74HC86, not a 74HCB6.

EDN, 8/3/1989:  One of my favorite designs is this low-frequency rumble generator.  Random noise (from a noisy diode) is converted into a logic level producing a random bit stream.  This is used to randomly increment or decrement an eight-bit counter which is connected in such a way that it cannot overflow or underflow.  The counter staggers up and down between 0 and 255 (decimal) and this number is sent to a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) which produces a voltage that fluctuates between 0 and 2.55 volts.  The result is wide bandwidth noise that is rich in very low frequencies.  Applications for this include theatrical effects and random motion generation for "shaker tables" and other testing devices.  This design started out as an invention that would gently rock my infant son to sleep, since he didn't like going to bed but he always went right to sleep in the car.

Broadcast Engineering, December 1989:  This article, entitled "Wait Just a Second", may have been -- at that time -- the only magazine article ever written about leap seconds.

EDN, 2/15/1990:  This Design Idea article describes a simple circuit to extract the horizontal sync pulse from Field 1, Line 10 in the NTSC television system.  Line 10 was used in the late 1970's and early 1980's as a means of precisely comparing clocks which are miles apart but both within range of a television station.  For example, the Line 10 method was used to "transfer" the time of day from the NBS (now NIST) laboratories in Boulder to the WWV transmitter site in Fort Collins by measuring the timing on a Denver TV station.  My article was used many years later as a reference in U.S. Patent #5619275.

On the internet:

The Prospect of Variable Toll Collection on the Obama Highway.  License plate readers could be used to implement variable-rate toll collection on every highway.

Custom counter developed in-house

Document location
Update December 19, 2010.

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