Today we passed a minor milestone in the Upgrade 2011 project. The biggest part of the investment is a digital audio network within the station that connects all the studios together. Audio moves from place to place under the control of the on-air hosts and recording engineers in each studio. All the audio moves as packets of addressable digital data on a really really fast Ethernet network.
Audio gets in and out of the network through boxes called “blades.” When the audio starts as a digital signal (our satellite feeds from NPR or BBC, for example) the blades convert the digital signal to a format compatible with everything else, wraps it up in the packets, puts an address on it, and sends it off to its destination. All these same steps happen to our analog signals too (from the studio microphones or turntables, for example) — with the additional step of an analog-to-digital conversion in the blade.
We got our first two blades to experiment with a couple of days ago, and today we propped them up in one of our equipment rooms and connected them to our network to see if we could make them work. Here’s a look at one of the blades:
And this is a close-up of part of the front panel. I haven’t worked with equipment that has a “snake mode” before!
While we’ve been familiarizing ourselves with some of the new equipment we’ve been working on renovating the physical studios too. First to get overhauled is Production Studio 2, primarily used by KUSP news reporters and our program operations staff (people who check to see that the right show is on at the right time, that kind of thing). In this first shot Bruce Larsen, co-host of “It Takes All Kinds” on Sunday afternoon, is peeling off the old wall covering and trim:
Once we got the old gray carpet off the walls, we discovered that when the room was built, the drywall had just been nailed in place (kind of randomly) and there were huge gaps and uneven seams (like 1/2″ of difference in height from one piece to the next). This wasn’t going to work with what we had in mind for the room. Consequently, we had to bring in someone who knew about hanging drywall to nail things properly, then patch the gaps and tape the seams.
Once we got the drywall cleaned up the room looked like this:
Then we brought in more folks to hang our new sisal wall covering, furnished by Greenspace in Santa Cruz. Much more attractive than the old gray carpet, and the lighter color makes the room much less cave-like.
Next we will put the countertops back in, followed by the equipment — and then we can get back to work in here! (and move on to Production Room 1)…