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Mr. P

General info for new lighters

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I was a new lighter years ago and knowing where I could find information would have been a big help. There is a ton of info on this site but these will get you started.

LOR store - http://store.lightorama.com/

LOR license comparison - http://www1.lightorama.com/sequencing-suite-levels/

LOR software download - http://www1.lightorama.com/sequencing-software-download/

LOR equipment manuals - http://www1.lightorama.com/documentation/

LOR Firmware updates - http://www1.lightorama.com/firmware-updates/

LOR network speeds - http://www1.lightorama.com/network-speeds/

LOR tutorials - http://www1.lightorama.com/tutorials/

LOR Help Desk - http://helpdesk.lightorama.com/

Edited by Mr. P
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Great Advice and Links for the newcomers  Mr. P. And even for some of us Old Geezers too{like me} ? that sometimes forget things or we thought we marked them and didn't.

 

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And here's another one for Newbies that are considering or have purchased an FM Transmitter to broadcast their show, along with or without outdoor speakers. {I use both}

Radio Frequency Locator

This will be a major tool in making sure you are using an UNUSED frequency for your show.   I am also attaching a screen shot of the details you use to search for criteria on the site.

There are numerous options and I use just about every one of them to check for open/unused frequencies in my area, once I find one that looks good, I'll also check for "Fringe" stations, these are low power stations, usually no more than 100 watts, but they are still considered in use by the FCC and can not be used if one is in your range.

I will usually also look for other stations on the frequency I'll be using, and I use a minimum of 15 miles, with a maximum of 150 miles to see just how many stations are actually using the frequency, just in case it is able to be received normally within my range of transmission.   Fortunately the frequency I use doesn't have ANY stations for  up to 1,000 miles in any direction.  I use 87.9 FM in my area, so far so good for years.

But if you have open/unused frequencies in your area, try and find one that is at least 2 above and 2 below the frequencies in use by other stations.  For example my Frequency, 87.9, there are 87.1, 87.3, 87.3, 87.5, 87.7 below it, the next highest frequency above it is 88.1, then 88.3 which is a valid commercial station.  So therefore, it could be possible to use all those below my frequency of 87.9, but in the US, most car radios usually don't go lower than around 87.9, possibly 87.7, there are some, but not common in the US that will go all the way down to 87.1.  Then on the higher side, I could use up to 88.1, since it is 2 below the 88.3 active frequency.

Always thoroughly investigate ANY frequency you're going to use via, all options on the Radio-Locator site, it will keep you out of hot water with the FCC, because if you happen to interfere with or transmit over an active commercial or even low power station that is LICENSED, the fines can be very steep, you may or may not get a warning.  So check and be sure, you sure don't need the fines or imprisonment that can come with using an active frequency that is licensed!

Screen shot below shows all the options available and I really recommend you use all of them for verification purposes of the frequency you wish to use.

 

Radio-Locator Screen Capture.JPG

Good Luck!

Edited by Orville

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Just an FYI, 87.9 is not used by a FM broadcast station because it is not in the FM broadcast band.  It is the very top of TV channel 6.  It is also NOT legal for FCC part 15 operation (the rules section that we are operating under).  That does not mean that it’s not commonly used.  Will you get cited for it?  Very unlikely, but flat out - it’s NOT legal in the USA.

Now with said, the other recommendation about picking an FM frequency, dial up the frequency throughout the year at different times of the day and listen to see if it REALLY is clear.  Do this in your car while driving around your area.  With some repetition, you will get a fairly good idea of what gets heard where and when.  This is more of an issue in radio congested areas.  I’m in the Los Angeles area and there are exactly zero unused channels in the FM band.  So no matter what channel you use, you are sharing with somebody.  All you can do is minimize issues.

 

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As far as I am aware Jim, I would think 87.9 would now be legal to use since TV no longer uses analog signals and is now strictly digital.   So I would think this would have been deregulated since no TV stations broadcast over radio, at least no longer in my area they don't, not unless you have a special radio that picks up the TV stations. 

And since the Radio Locator identifies all those frequencies in the 87.1-87.9 band as FM and UNUSED, they should be usable now.  

I've never had issues with using it since TV 6 quit using 87.7 years ago now.   And if it's NOT FM band, then why is it on every FM band on radios in the US?  

Even when I was in my CB days, it's always been called FM band for those frequencies.   Never really heard it called anything else.   Even my friend that works in radio says it's free to use for FM home transmitter devices now.   Not saying it has been deregulated, just that I think, keyword being "think," it should have been deregulated for TV use since the coming of the "digital age" of things.

And I broadcast on that frequency almost 24 hours a day during show seasons.  

When I did Halloween, all through the entire month of October and then again, for Christmas starting on Thanksgiving Day through January 6th.   Usually operating off hours music from 7am-7pm in October, thanks to Daylight Saving Time and 7am to 5pm Thanksgiving - Jan 6th.Then in the evening during the show in October from 7:30pm-10pm Sunday-Thursday, 7:30pm-11pm Friday/Saturday.  Christmas show from 5:30pm-10pm Sunday-Thursday, 5:30pm-11:00pm Friday/Saturday.

Have never had any complaints or visits from anyone using it.   I doubt I ever will since the Radio-Locator now shows it as an UNUSED FM frequency.  Which by F.C.C. standpoint, again, UI would think should make it available for use to a light show enthusiast.  

I've even used the FM transmitter on this same frequency in my car {when I used to drive and owned one} to broadcast my scanner transmissions from railroad frequencies when I used to railfan and needed to leave the scanner in the car and use a small pocket portable FM radio to listen in for when a train was coming, that was so I could set up my camera to get clean video and clear sound of the trains horn and rail sounds.

Been doing it for many years now, ever since the demise of analog TV no longer being broadcast {since it's all digital now} over the radio in that frequency area.

 

Edited by Orville

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1 hour ago, Orville said:

As far as I am aware Jim, I would think 87.9 would now be legal to use since TV no longer uses analog signals and is now strictly digital.   So I would think this would have been deregulated since no TV stations broadcast over radio, at least no longer in my area they don't, not unless you have a special radio that picks up the TV stations. 

Nope.  It's still TV channel 6.  Yes, with the switch to digital, LOTS of TV stations changed the actual channel that they transmit on (which frequently is NOT the channel they call it and you dial up on your TV receiver - I can explain that more if desired).  However there are still TV stations transmitting on the bottom five channels (2 - 6) that are between the top of the 6 meter ham band at 54.0 MHz and the bottom of the FM broadcast band at 88.0 MHz.  A quick check shows 15 stations broadcasting to the Orlando service area.  So yes, they are transmitting over radio.

1 hour ago, Orville said:

And since the Radio Locator identifies all those frequencies in the 87.1-87.9 band as FM and UNUSED, they should be usable now.  

I've never had issues with using it since TV 6 quit using 87.7 years ago now.   And if it's NOT FM band, then why is it on every FM band on radios in the US?  

WKMG-TV actually switched from channel 6 to channel 26 when they went digital.  As to why many (not all) FM band receivers extend coverage to a little above and / or below the actual FM band, I can't answer.

1 hour ago, Orville said:

  I doubt I ever will since the Radio-Locator now shows it as an UNUSED FM frequency.  Which by F.C.C. standpoint, again, UI would think should make it available for use to a light show enthusiast.  

What Radio locator says is irrelevant.  The rules say something else, and that is what matters.  Part 15 is about 120 pages long, but the relevant part is:

47 CFR Part 15.209:

(a) Except as provided elsewhere in this subpart, the emissions from an intentional radiator shall not exceed the field strength levels specified in the following table:

47CFR_Part_15.209.png

Note the ** detail:  ...shall not be located in the frequency bands 54-72 MHz, 76-88 MHz...

Neither 15.231 (deals with periodic transmissions such as car alarm remotes, etc) nor 15.241 (operation between 174-216 MHz) apply.

As I said earlier, will you get cited for it?  Very unlikely, but it is NOT legal.

Edited by k6ccc

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Thanks for the additional info Jim. 

Well I guess I'll just have to swap that out to 91.9 FM, since it's between 91.5 and 92.3, so I shouldn't have any issue there.  Closest station to me on that Frequency is 57.7 miles away.  So I should be good with that. {I hope!}

I'd rather be safe, if at all possible.

 

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So how you mark this? I am not seeing it at the top of the page?

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Now this has me thinking... For the last 3 years I ended up broadcasting on 92.7 because that was the only thing in the area that didn't have any station activity within a mile radius of me when I drove around scanning each frequency. so this 2 up 2 down thing you guys are talking about can somebody explain that a little more? Just curious about that. I never really gave the FM broadcast thing much thought I just found a station that didn't come in in our neighborhood and went with it. Obviously there's a lot more information out there to consider judging by these posts.

I'm trying to avoid problems being that my shows starting to get more popular each year. according to the Chart now there's actually stations that aren't within the area on radio locator on Lower digits but I can still pick up faint signals on some of those which is why I was using 92.7 because I couldn't pick anything up on that.

Here's the chart that shows my general list of radio station's coverage. Any suggestions? Looking to avoid being targeted lol

6yio9i.jpg

Edited by GriswoldStyle

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8 minutes ago, GriswoldStyle said:

Now this has me thinking... For the last 3 years I ended up broadcasting on 92.7 because that was the only thing in the area that didn't have any station activity within a mile radius of me when I drove around scanning each frequency. so this 2 up 2 down thing you guys are talking about can somebody explain that a little more? Just curious about that. I never really gave the FM broadcast thing much thought I just found a station that didn't come in in our neighborhood and went with it. Obviously there's a lot more information out there to consider judging by these posts.

I'm trying to avoid problems being that my shows starting to get more popular each year. according to the Chart now there's actually stations that aren't within the area on radio locator on Lower digits but I can still pick up faint signals on some of those which is why I was using 92.7 because I couldn't pick anything up on that.

Here's the chart that shows my general list of radio station's coverage. Any suggestions? Looking to avoid being targeted lol

6yio9i.jpg

Looks to me you could possibly use 92.3, 92.5, or 92.7.  Since all 3 of these fall between 91.9 and 92.9.   I think as long as you're at least 50 miles from any other station using the same frequency you should be good.   I check 15 miles, 25 miles, 50 miles and 100 miles when I check the frequency to see how many other stations are within those boundaries using that same frequency.  Most times I sometimes find as little as 3 or possibly and usually not more than about 15 stations depending on the distance. 

If the audio you receive is very broken, staticy and unclear on your car radio or even a home stereo with a good antenna, you should be okay to use the frequency.  Because if you can't make heads or tails out of the reception where you are {from a channel 15-50-100 miles away}, very unlikely anyone else will either.

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I will give a nice long answer when I get to a computer later...

 

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OK, here's some explanation on the FM broadcast band (at least in the USA).  The FM broadcast band covers the spectrum from 88.0 MHz to 108.0 MHz.  Below the FM band is TV channel 6 (82 - 88 MHz) and above the FM band is the VHF Aircraft band (108 - 118 for navigation and 118 - 137 for voice).  Within the FM band, channels are assigned 200 KHz (or 0.2 MHz) apart on the odd 100 KHz frequencies.  In other words, 88.1, 88.3, 88.5, 88.7, 88.9, 89.1, etc.  200 KHz adjacent frequencies are referred to a 1st adjacent, 400 KHz apart is 2nd adjacent, 600 KHz apart is 3rd adjacent, etc.  Within a given area, two stations are never assigned 200 KHz apart - or on 1st adjacent channels.  This is done to prevent poor quality receivers from being interfered with by the adjacent transmitter.  Therefore, for example here in the Los Angeles area, there are stations on 88.1, 88.5, 88.9, 89.3, etc.  If neither station is close, you MAY get away with using a frequency that has a 1st adjacent on both sides.  Note I said: MAY.  It's going to depend on how strong either 1st adjacent signal is.  Better to find a frequency that only has 2nd adjacent stations - IF POSSIBLE.  Here is the Los Angeles area, every available channel is used from top to bottom with only one (sort of) exception.  101.5 has a full power station in San Diego that puts enough signal into the Los Angeles area that they can't put a large coverage FM station in the Los Angeles area.  There are a scattering of Low Power (VERY local) stations around the LA basin.  Most of those are college or church stations that are expected to have VERY short range.  As it turns out, I am able to use 101.5 just fine.  Another LOR person a mile or so west of me also uses 101.5 MHz.  Also because the Los Angeles area is so large (it's about 120 miles across), there are a few 1st and 2nd adjacent stations that are spaced far enough apart that it works.  Therefore, there are a few odd spaced channels in a list.  That means that if you do a search for FM stations in Los Angeles, it may appear that there are some vacancies.  There really aren't.  Most of those odd spaced channels are fairly low power local stations near the bottom of the band.  The best we can do here is find a frequency that is not to strong at the location were you will operate.

A special note about 87.9.  As I said earlier, that frequency is outside the FM broadcast band.  It is right at the top of TV channel 6.  However, there is an exception:  *** Use of Channel 200 pr 87.9 MHz is restricted to existing displaced full service Class D noncommercial educational stations. See 47 CFR 73.501. Channel 200 is not available for use by other station classes and services.***  There are exactly two of those exceptions in the USA: KSFH in Mountain View, Calif (transmit power 10 watts ERP) and K200AA in Sun Valley, Nevada (transmit power 28 watts ERP).  That frequency is however NOT available for Part 15 (what we use) operation.

Note that some other countries using different channels or spacing. 

One more thing.  The FCC has far more important things to do than drive around looking for part 15 stations.  They really are only going to go looking for a station if there are complaints - from the licensed broadcasters.  Usually what happens is somebody likes to listen to some distant station and maybe even puts op a really good antenna so they can receive it.  Someone wanting to broadcast with a part 15 stations scans around and finds this "unused" station (because they can't hear the distant station).  So they put up their part 15 transmitter.  Now that person who put up the great receive antenna so they can listen to their favorite distant station, can no longer hear it.  They complain - to the station.  The complaint usually goes something like this:  "I used to listen to you and now I'm hearing some other signal on your frequency".  The station MAY follow up on it and investigate the problem.  First they check their transmitting equipment.  If that's fine they MAY drive out to the area to see what the reporting person is hearing.  Low and behold, there is another station on THEIR frequency (and they are VERY possessive about THEIR frequency).  If they deem that it is enough of a problem (generally that means it is interfering with an area that they do consider their signal to be usable), they complain to the FCC.  When they have times and depending on the nature of the interference, the FCC will go out and find the interfering station.  At that point, you may get the knock on the door.  For the most part, if you are operating at least fairly close to the power limits for part 15 operation, most likely all you will get is a request to shut down.  If your response is Gee, I'm sorry, let me kill that right now, that will likely be the end of it.  On the other hand, if you fail the attitude test, and tell them to F-Off, life will get worse.

 

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3 hours ago, k6ccc said:

OK, here's some explanation on the FM broadcast band (at least in the USA).  The FM broadcast band covers the spectrum from 88.0 MHz to 108.0 MHz.  Below the FM band is TV channel 6 (82 - 88 MHz) and above the FM band is the VHF Aircraft band (108 - 118 for navigation and 118 - 137 for voice).  Within the FM band, channels are assigned 200 KHz (or 0.2 MHz) apart on the odd 100 KHz frequencies.  In other words, 88.1, 88.3, 88.5, 88.7, 88.9, 89.1, etc.  200 KHz adjacent frequencies are referred to a 1st adjacent, 400 KHz apart is 2nd adjacent, 600 KHz apart is 3rd adjacent, etc.  Within a given area, two stations are never assigned 200 KHz apart - or on 1st adjacent channels.  This is done to prevent poor quality receivers from being interfered with by the adjacent transmitter.  Therefore, for example here in the Los Angeles area, there are stations on 88.1, 88.5, 88.9, 89.3, etc.  If neither station is close, you MAY get away with using a frequency that has a 1st adjacent on both sides.  Note I said: MAY.  It's going to depend on how strong either 1st adjacent signal is.  Better to find a frequency that only has 2nd adjacent stations - IF POSSIBLE.  Here is the Los Angeles area, every available channel is used from top to bottom with only one (sort of) exception.  101.5 has a full power station in San Diego that puts enough signal into the Los Angeles area that they can't put a large coverage FM station in the Los Angeles area.  There are a scattering of Low Power (VERY local) stations around the LA basin.  Most of those are college or church stations that are expected to have VERY short range.  As it turns out, I am able to use 101.5 just fine.  Another LOR person a mile or so west of me also uses 101.5 MHz.  Also because the Los Angeles area is so large (it's about 120 miles across), there are a few 1st and 2nd adjacent stations that are spaced far enough apart that it works.  Therefore, there are a few odd spaced channels in a list.  That means that if you do a search for FM stations in Los Angeles, it may appear that there are some vacancies.  There really aren't.  Most of those odd spaced channels are fairly low power local stations near the bottom of the band.  The best we can do here is find a frequency that is not to strong at the location were you will operate.

A special note about 87.9.  As I said earlier, that frequency is outside the FM broadcast band.  It is right at the top of TV channel 6.  However, there is an exception:  *** Use of Channel 200 pr 87.9 MHz is restricted to existing displaced full service Class D noncommercial educational stations. See 47 CFR 73.501. Channel 200 is not available for use by other station classes and services.***  There are exactly two of those exceptions in the USA: KSFH in Mountain View, Calif (transmit power 10 watts ERP) and K200AA in Sun Valley, Nevada (transmit power 28 watts ERP).  That frequency is however NOT available for Part 15 (what we use) operation.

Note that some other countries using different channels or spacing. 

One more thing.  The FCC has far more important things to do than drive around looking for part 15 stations.  They really are only going to go looking for a station if there are complaints - from the licensed broadcasters.  Usually what happens is somebody likes to listen to some distant station and maybe even puts op a really good antenna so they can receive it.  Someone wanting to broadcast with a part 15 stations scans around and finds this "unused" station (because they can't hear the distant station).  So they put up their part 15 transmitter.  Now that person who put up the great receive antenna so they can listen to their favorite distant station, can no longer hear it.  They complain - to the station.  The complaint usually goes something like this:  "I used to listen to you and now I'm hearing some other signal on your frequency".  The station MAY follow up on it and investigate the problem.  First they check their transmitting equipment.  If that's fine they MAY drive out to the area to see what the reporting person is hearing.  Low and behold, there is another station on THEIR frequency (and they are VERY possessive about THEIR frequency).  If they deem that it is enough of a problem (generally that means it is interfering with an area that they do consider their signal to be usable), they complain to the FCC.  When they have times and depending on the nature of the interference, the FCC will go out and find the interfering station.  At that point, you may get the knock on the door.  For the most part, if you are operating at least fairly close to the power limits for part 15 operation, most likely all you will get is a request to shut down.  If your response is Gee, I'm sorry, let me kill that right now, that will likely be the end of it.  On the other hand, if you fail the attitude test, and tell them to F-Off, life will get worse.

 

Note to self.... NEVER tell them f-off lol. Thank you for the detailed explanation :)

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NOTE to Jim: That's why I said a GOOD antenna.  Maybe I should have explained that better.  I don't mean an antenna that is usually attached or part of a receiver, but one where a person has actually mounted a longer antenna to receive those frequencies.  

Where I live outside antenna ARE NOT permitted, you can have one any size you want as long as it resides INSIDE your home.  

You can't even, or aren't even allowed to have any type of antenna outside your home by our rules and regulations here, you can have a satellite dish, but it must be mounted in an area that is as inconspicuous as it can be if on the ground, but roof mounted is okay, but usually has to be mounted near the back of your house on the roof. 

Other than that, no antenna of any kind.

And since I can no longer drive, don't own a car I can't drive all around the area to see if I can pick up anything clearly on any of the unused frequencies shown on the Radio Locator site.   All I can do is run through my digitally tuned radio, add an external antenna inside my house as long as I can make it inside and test that way.   So far I don't seem to have any reception that is viable or clear from the Frequency I'm using, nor does my transmitter set at 91.9 interfere with any other stations that I am aware of within the way I can check for that.

If I ever got a visit from the guys in the "Black Suits" {F.C.C.}, I'd just comply with them and their request, I would do nothing less if something were to ever come up.  It's why I did prefer the 87.9 setting, but didn't realize that was actually a part of the TV band since it is also on every FM radio in the states here.  And again, why I had been using it for close to 4 years, since the original frequency I had been using got assigned a new radio station in the area a few months after my first Christmas light show display and why I searched for and started using that particular frequency.

It'd be nice if the F.C.C. could, or would make at least a small band of Frequencies on the FM band that could be assigned strictly for hobbyist that use them as we do.   But we know that's probably not ever going to happen, but it'd sure solve a lot of issues with us folks trying to do the right and legal thing with using one if we had our own set of frequencies we could utilize for our displays!

Having been in C.B. Radio in my younger days {BEFORE Smokey and the Bandit caused the C.B. craze}, and that in my opinion drove C.B.radio into the dirt! Again, in my opinion.  And that also had the F.C.C. stop requiring a license for it {My old C.B. license was KMB9613}, yes I still recall it, and those days! LOL}.

But I do {and thought} I was within legal rights to use the 87.9 since it was no longer in use {or so I thought}, since I had always believed that Channel 6 was just broadcasting over an FM frequency, not actually below it!

So I appreciate all the information you've been sharing with us on this.  I want to be within the legal limits and within the law, unfortunately I thought I was, and found out I wasn't using that particular frequency.  

Again, a BIG THANK YOU to you, Jim for supplying us all with the information, it's being a big help to everybody here.

Edited by Orville

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18 hours ago, ~DOC~ said:

So how you mark this? I am not seeing it at the top of the page?

Only way I know is to add it to your browser by bookmarking it. 

I have a folder in my bookmarks called Light-O-Rama and is where I try to keep things like this bookmarked. Just in case I ever need to revisit it or just refresh my memory, if I've forgotten about something I don't recall off hand.

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