The BDR

The
Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

... edited by Barry Mishkind - the Eclectic Engineer    

Trilithic


2016 National EAS Test
Everything you need to know but were afraid to ask
...updated to 10/1/16

          October 1- Are you ready for Form Two and/or Form Three, but forgot the URL? Go here.

          The 2016 NPT went off as scheduled, Wednesday the 28th at 2:20PM EDT. Within minutes reports from around the country rolled in. A sample log entry is here. The high points:
               1. The vast majority of sites successfully received the test with clear audio, and relayed it as
                   anticipated. This was especially true for those stations which polled the IPAWS server before
                   the LP stations relay. A sample test is located here (KDOA). (Courtesy: Michael Brown)
               2. A small number of stations reported failure in one or more aspects:
                      a) Some stations did not receive the test. In many cases, they had not updated firmware.
                                   In a few cases, it appears the firmware update "did not take" and needed to be
                                   reloaded.
                      b) Some stations did not relay the test. In most cases, this was because the station
                                   may have the right firmware, but did not ensure the filters told the machine
                                   to relay the test.
                      c) A few stations reported poor audio - this was largely the case where an LP was picked up
                                   first, but the received analog signal was not clean.
                      d) A small number of stations reported no audio - silence - during the NPT. As of this moment,
                                   suspicion is focused on the upstream station which might have had an update
                                   fail to load properly, setting up a situation where the CAP text was not received, while
                                   the analog file went missing. (This will be updated as more answers appear.)
                          UPDATE: At least one TFT converter owner has noted a menu config issue: look
                          for "enable TTS."
                      e) Unknown, as yet, are the number of stations that simply have been ignoring EAS. This will
                                   likely be better known after the Forms Two and Three are filed.
                3. The multi-lingual aspect of the test came off well, for those receiving the audio from IPAWS. An
                    example of the Spanish NPT is located here (WDDW-FM - Thanks Gary Timm). 
                4. A few of the older HollyAnne and other out of production models did receive the NPT, a pleasant
                    surprise. Nevertheless, these models cannot be upgraded from this point and may need to be
                    retired from service.

          All of the above items are part of a successful test because - as noted, perfection would be nice, but not really expected. This gives stations the opportunity to ensure their systems will react properly. The key will be not waiting five years for the next NPT

          A couple of low points:
                 1. Stations trying to do Form Two early had few problems, but as the day progressed, more and more
                     reported being unable to access the ETRS site or being unable to get the site to respond to them.
                     The FCC suddenly came up with a "take your turn" schedule for reports a day or so ahead of the
                     NPT, but regardless, many folks had trouble filling out the form on Test Day. (In fact, more than
                     a few folks noted that trying to get all the reports in by midnight was a lost cause before they
                     started. A few actually stayed up and finally were able to access the server past 10 PM. Others
                     reported they could not get in until well past midnight - so much for the FCC demanding "instant"
                     reports!)
                 2. The FCC issued an updated Handbook with errors and typos, and left no time to correct it.
                 3. The FCC did not answer the request made by Gorman-Redlich for a wavier on older EAS boxes
                     until the very last day.
                 4. Similarly, the FCC failed totally to assist stations to understand the wording inserted in Part 11 to
                     deal with NPTs. Specifically, "immediate" and "live" were left hanging for stations to try to
                     comply - with expensive upgrades in some cases.

          Stations are advised to file the Form Three - as well as Forms One and Two, if still not filed - before November 14th. As noted below, the FCC has set up an email box for questions, hoping for stations to give more input as the quality of the reception. In case you have lost the URL, it is here (remember to have the user name and password handy, as it is a "secure" site.

           The hope is that the FCC and the FEMA will shortly announce the next NPT, to see if bugs are worked out of the system. Perhaps it will be soon. Even better, perhaps the next one should be unannounced, like the one two weeks ago on a Wednesday. Fired off to check on the 000000 capabilities of EAS boxes, a lot of folks appreciated the unannounced (until the very last minute) test, both in terms of checking operation, and knowing another test was coming soon.

            Do you have any questions?  Let us know and we will seek input from the experts.


The following in more information on the NPT, the Forms - register and reporting - and the

          The purpose of the test is to both follow up on the 2011 National EAS Test, and to ensure
          stations have EAS boxes that can:
                          1. recognize the "national geo code" 000000
                          2. Respond to the new NPT (National Periodic Test) code
                          3. As with the EAS, the FEMA and the FCC desire stations "immediately" relay
 
          Additionally, stations must have the new EAS Handbook at the operating position.

         THE ETRS (Electronic Test Reporting System) AND REPORTING

      1. The initial FCC ETRS page is here.

      2. All EAS Participants are required to register with ETRS and were supposed to
                  complete the filing of Form One on or before August 26, 2016.
                 (Not have your Form One done? Do it now anyway. The FCC just wants it done!)
      3. The "day of test" information sought by ETRS Form Two
                  must be filed at or before 11:59 PM EDT on September 28, 2016. Go here.
      4. The detailed post-test data ETRS Form Three must be filed on or before November 14, 2016.

      FORM ONE QUESTIONS:

  1. The form must be submitted as soon as possible.

  2. A guide to answering many of your questions is at "Meet the ETRS"

  3. The FCC has assigned Austin Randazzo to answer any ETRS questions via email:
                                  
    Austin.Randazzo@fcc.gov
     

FORM TWO QUESTIONS:

       This form is designed to simply have stations answer- by midnight EDT of the test day:
             1.  if they received the NPT and
             2.  did they relay it.
       The form was shown in the Public Notice, but some changes may be made before the test date.

       FORM THREE QUESTIONS:

       The FCC will ask more detailed questions, requiring more time to answer, but provided 45 days
       to do so. The form is said to be undergoing some changes before the test date. But we understand
       stations will be asked to provide information as to:
             1. Was the NPT received?
             2. the source from which they received the NPT
             3. The time and date of the receipt of the NPT
             4. which time zone they are in
             5. Were there are complications in receiving the NPT, and
             6. provide any explanation necessary to help the FCC understand any of the answers.
             7. Did the station retransmit the NPT?
             8. Retransmission date and time.
             9. Any complications in retransmission?
            10. Any necessary explanations and comments.

      QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

      1. How can I tell if my EAS box is "ready" for the NPT in September?
      A. If you have not recently updated your firmware, you should contact your manufacturer and
                   ensure you have the right version. DASDEC is V2.6 or 3.0, Sage is V89-30,
                   Trilithic is V8.09 or V2.17, depending upon model. TFT is V.69 
                   Gorman-Redlich is V9.8 or V20.9

      2. What if my manufacturer is out of business?
      A. The recent demise of TFT (and previous companies' EAS products) have left many questions.
                   Darryl Parker has noted that TFT's unit does meet the July 2016 requirements. He has
                   kindly offered to help TFT customers with questions. You can email him here.

      3. What about my HollyAnne?
      A. Sorry. If you cannot determine whether you can handle the NPT, 000000, and immediate relay,
                  you may need to upgrade to a new EAS box.

      4. Hey! What is this "immediate" business? Do I comply?
      A. At this time, the FCC has not been very clear. They did change section 11.54 to make the NPT
                  the functional equivalent of the EAN. However, several sources have conflicting views of
                  whether "immediate" means "as soon as the EOM is received, relay the NPT" or "as
                  soon as you get an NPT Header, start relaying."  There are some differences between models
                  and firmware versions.

                  For example DASDEC 2.6 holds for the EOM, 3.0 relays as soon as the NPT header is received.

                  At Trilithic, the EASyCAP can be configured just like an EAN - and runs after the headers.
                  The EASyPlus/EASyCAST wait for the EOM before relaying.

                  The Sage treats NPT the same as EAN, except the NPT is limited to two minutes.

                  Gorman-Redlich says the NPT is sent "immediately" upon NPT headers reception. The TFT 911
                  holds for the EOM.

          While some people hope the FCC will fully clarify the term, at this point they have not. Some
          observers, however, have been told to keep their eyes peeled for a notice from the FCC on the
          NPT and "immediately."

     5. So you are saying I might be fined if I have the wrong firmware?
     A. While the FCC says they will not use the ETRS to cite/find anyone, the EB may act differently.

     6. OK, so I will upgrade. Why does DASDEC require $500 for the upgrade?
     A. This goes back to the matter of "immediate."  Version 2.6 will relay on the EOM. But to make a
                 whole new software version, 3.0, DASDEC has had to rewrite a lot of code. According to the
                 manufacturer, the fundamental changes to how the NPT is handled ("immediately") could not
                 be handled with Version 2.6.  However, due to the major changes already implemented in
                 their long-planned Version 3.0, an NPT that transmits "immediately" could be handed there. 
                 (Version 3.0 was planned long before the FCC made any decisions about the NPT.)
 
     7. Does that mean all upgrades cost money?
     A. Not necessarily. While DASDEC has seen the need to recoup some of their programming and
                 support costs, other are not yet doing so. But, given size of the EAS universe,
                 manufacturers cannot support EAS boxes free indefinitely. If the FCC makes more
                 changes after the NPT, other manufacturers may see the need to add upgrade fees.

     8. The New EAS Handbook has some strange errors. What should we do?
     A. The FCC is now aware of the typos and other errors. While there are some areas where local
                information should be added, the FCC prefers that wholesale changes not be done - they
                plan to issue a corrected Handbook, but may not have it before the NPT.

     9. We got an "invalid certificate" message in our logs. What do we do?
     A. Not to worry. The FEMA has now renewed its certificate through 2019.  (The FEMA advises that
                users should have "ignore invalid certificates" set on your receiver. This will prevent most
                Zombie Alerts, etc.)

    10. I got an email from the FCC that our Form One was not received. I know I filled it out. What
                do I do?
     A. There was a major email blast from the FCC. They could have - and should have - specified what
                stations were involved. If you ask them they will tell you. However, there are three things to
                consider: (1) it appears they used the CDBS database to send out, (2) hence many got the
                messages, even though they no longer were involved with the station, and (3) there were
                some Form One's that did not get saved ... so it is worth taking a moment to double-check
                that what you filed is still on line.

 

 

 

 

 

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