Saturday, February 14, 2009

For our Readers in Rochester

Live in the Rochester, Minnesota area? Then you should check out another blog of mine. I co-edit Tech 55901, a blog about local over the air digital TV, radio, cable and Internet. In addition, we may post about other stuff, too. We'll see. Anyway, if you live in the Rochester area please check us out!

RT Article: The OS Wars

Computers are seemingly everywhere these days. They are a staple of our daily lives; a necessity for life in the 21st century. All personal computers run some form of operating system – a type of program that allows you to run software code on top of it.

Today, there are three dominate operating systems in the PC world. We will take a look at each of them and where they are going.


Linux was developed by Linus Toravaldes, a Finnish computer student, in 1991. The OS is based upon UNIX, an OS developed in the 1960's. Both systems can run the same programs, but their design is very different. Linux is almost in-arguably better. UNIX works in exactly the same way that Linux does. Thus, the following applies to both operating systems.

Linux is actually comprised of a few different “layers.” First, there's the kernel, which is the actual code known as “Linux.” This takes care of managing system resources, etc... If you ran the kernel by it self, you would be in a command line environment.

The next “layer” is the Graphical User Interface (GUI) engine. This layer renders all of the graphics, handles the input from your mouse, etc. On 99% of Linux installs, the GUI engine is the X Window System (better known simply as X). A few very specialized installs, such as iPod Linux, use a different engine.

After the X Window System comes the window manager (WM). This layer generates the actual desktop environment (window edges, taskbar, wallpaper, etc...). There are many different Window Managers, the two dominant ones being KDE and Gnome. There are dozens and dozens of others, some are designed to be very lightweight (simple), some integrate 3-D effects, and one WM, appropriately named Ratpoison, allows users to do everything with their keyboard, eliminating the need for a mouse.

In a Linux installation, you can install different Window Managers, so you can simply log into one, use it, log out, and use another.

Another prominent component of Linux and Unix systems are a thing called libraries. Libraries are collections of code that do a specific set of tasks. This makes it easy for developers to write programs, and many programs can use the same library (thus eliminating bloat). Most Linux programs depend on multiple libraries.

No one group manages all these projects and project releases are almost always on their own schedule.

While one could build his/her own Linux install, it is far easier to get a pre-built installation. There are many different choices, each has a specific use in mind or a particular design philosophy, or is designed for a particular platform. These pre-built installations are called distributions, or "distros". Almost all of them are free, or have a free version. Many distro groups have a “Live” CD that allows you to load Linux into the RAM, rather than installing it onto the hard drive.

Most all Linux and Unix software is open source – that means, the code is free to modify, use in other open source programs, etc. This means a lot. First, most open source code is very solid and bug free. Why? Because those involved in the project take plenty of time to de-bug it before final release. This is a result of not having set deadlines and other factors which tend to "rush" the production of commercial software. Secondly, passionate volunteers work on the project –
this could be computer science students, programmers who help in their spare time, or companies who have a vested interest in keeping the project going. (Government computer security experts have contributed to the Linux kernel, as they run Linux in many military and security applications.) Large tech corporations also often support open source projects, because they have an interest in seeing a project succeed, especially if it is integrated into their products.


Let's take a very typical Linux install – Ubuntu Linux running KDE 3.5.

Installation is usually easy and takes 20 minutes to ½ hr. This is significantly faster and easier than Windows (which can take an hour or longer).

The desktop environment is not that different from Windows (and certainly prettier). There's a start menu, a dock for programs, a notification area, clock, etc.. The desktop has icons not unlike those found in Windows or Mac. You'll find many useful programs pre-installed, many of which are part of the KDE suite. The pre-installed apps are much more complete that what you find on Windows or Mac. For example, Ubuntu includes two office suites, a full CD/DVD burning utility, a few different media players, a photo album application, an audio editor and plenty of cool games. Ubuntu has a software manager (Adept) that allows you to download and install multiple applications with one click. When you open the software manager, you can view an online list of programs – you simply select the ones you want, then click install, and they are installed! This manager will also automatically check and update all your programs. This is something that Mac and Windows can't do.

Linux has rock solid stability and security, and there's enough free software to fulfill most needs. However, there are certainly things it can't do. This is almost all due to the lack of commercial software written for it. Most Games, professional image editors, audio and video editing applications only run on Windows and Mac. The good news is, one can install a software eimulator or paralell processing application that allows one to run Windows applications in the Linux environment.

The best part about Linux, it's free, and just about every distribution is freely available to download off the Internet.

Mac OS

Believe it or not, Mac OS X is actually a fancy version of UNIX. A really fancy version of UNIX. But, Mac programs can only run on Mac OS, not other versions of UNIX or Linux. However, standard Linux/UNIX programs can run on a Mac (provided it has all the appropriate libraries). That being said, OS X is very tightly integrated. There are no “swappable components” like Linux. All the same, OS X's file manager (Finder) is actually a highly modified version of Konqueror, the KDE file browser. In return, Apple contributes a lot of bug fixes and performance improvement to the Konqueror project.


Mac OS is by far the “slickest” user experience of the three. Macs are extremely intuitive and easy to use. The Mac OS includes a number of basic applications (all written by Apple), which handle tasks such as playing music, organizing photos, editing audio and video, etc... Because the operating system and hardware are managed by the same company, Macs rarely, if ever have driver issues or stability problems related to hardware configurations. Apple has always had a dedicated following of users, primarily artists and musicians. As a result, many multimedia, video, audio, and image manipulation tools are written for this platform. Apple recently switched to PC based hardware, which allows users to install and run Windows on their Mac. As a result of this and lower hardware prices, Apple's sales figures have increased significantly in recent months. With the amount of commercial software available for the Mac, the platform has become a serious threat to Windows.


The first GUI based OS for the PC, Windows has become the defacto standard PC OS. It became extremely popular with the release of Windows 95, and is still the dominate OS on PCs. The OS itself has evolved to a very usable product. Apart from it's immense popularity, the OS it self is not all that great, notoriously unstable (resulting in many crashes), and prone to many security vulnerabilities. Microsoft had also gotten itself into a vicious cycle of releasing version after version of Windows with more features, but little improvement in security or stability (a major problem). After the release of Windows XP in 2001, the Windows development team undertook what became a five year development cycle re-writing much of the operating system. The result – Windows Vista. The result of all this work is surprisingly underwhelming. While Vista is certainly an improvement over XP, I see no compelling reason for XP users to upgrade.

Another version of Windows?:

While I doubt that Microsoft will shut its doors next week, one has to ask the obligatory question: What are their future plans? As of this writing, they have not announced their future plans as far as their operating system or Microsoft Office. Sales of Mac computers have skyrocketed to an all time high, and the number of computers running Linux are also increasing at surprising rates. The dominance of Microsoft Office is also slowly dying. With the introduction of Apple's iWork, free programs like, and web-based Google Documents, many people are discovering that these programs work just as well, and work flawlessly with Microsoft formats.


My personal feeling is that within 5 to 10 years, Windows will be just a distant memory. Dell's decision to pre-install Linux on desktop machines is just the beginning of a revolution. One day, in the none-too-distant future, you'll be able to walk into any electronics retailer and purchase a computer pre-installed with Linux. The result: computers will be less costly, more stable, more secure, and most of all.... they'll come pre-loaded with all the basic applications, instead of the junk/demoware that is pre-loaded on most Windows machines. As for Macs, they will certainly become more commonplace. Time will tell which of the two will become the standard, but one thing is for certain- Windows will be history.

RT Articles: Tubes and vinyl: two utterly obsolete technologies that refuse to die

All of my previous articles in this magazine have been about relatively cutting edge technologies. Now, I'm going to talk about something a little older.

People often ask me, "I've heard audiophiles say that vinyl records sound better than CDs" or "Why do some guitar amplifiers use tubes?" I want to explain this to you.

Vinyl records are still alive and kicking for reasons mostly other than sound quality. DJs in the rap and hip hop music genres rely on record scratching, the art of manipulating records, which is enhanced by the use of direct-drive (motor built into the platter) turntables with a special felt "slip" mat, pitch control (for "beat matching") and a little mixer known as a fader box between the two tables. Most of the time, sound quality isn't a huge factor, and most gear is made specifically for DJing, although the Technics SL-1200, the industry standard DJ table was originally intended for Hi-Fi use.

Audiophiles and collectors
There's another little niche group that's after something else: the sound. Audiophiles have been claiming vinyl's superiority since the CD was introduced in the early 80s. The argument, at first was valid. The first generation of CD players produced incredibly brittle and irritating sound, due to the fact that they didn't dither, or smooth the output after it was converted to analog. Basically, a sine wave (which sould look perfectly "round") would look like a stair case. After the 2nd and 3rd generations, most CD players fixed this problem for good, and the audio coming out of a CD player is almost identical to the master recording.

CDs have flat (even) frequency response from 0hz-22.05 KHZ (below and above the limits of human hearing), immeasurable amounts of speed deviation (wow & flutter), infinite separation from left to right channels (no bleedthrough onto the other channel), etc. Basically, it's the ideal music medium, so why do some people insist on vinyl?

The process of cutting and playing back a record induces various types of distortion into the audio, namely harmonic distortion - faint multiples of the fundamental frequencies, giving a kind of "warm" sound. This is why audiophiles like it so much. A record sounds more "alive" than the master recording. Mind you, this comes from added distortion, rather than scientific superiority. There are two other sound factors which contribute to vinyl's sound. The first is crosstalk. A cartridge (stylus and pickup), because of it's inherent physical limitations, will pick up, say the left channel in the right channel, only it's quieter and out of phase (electrically opposite of the original). This actually creates a kind of "3-D" sound which is also more pleasing to the ear. The second is how they mastered the record compared to the CD version. In the early 80s, a lot of masters used the LP master tapes, which were intentionally very bright (treble heavy) to compensate for elements in the LP cutting process. An LP master played straight (or on a CD) sounds terrible, but usually sounded "just right" on an LP. Another factor is compression. In today's world of iPods and on the go music, popular music often has a small dynamic range (loud to soft ratio), while music from 30 years ago had a considerably higher dynamic range. Some times, when an album is re-mastered onto CD, the engineers use compression, which some people (like me) don't like. I want to hear the album the way it was originally intended, not a modern interpretation of what it should sound like.

Side note: there's only one area where an LP is scientifically superior. Frequency response. LPs (with a really good cartridge) can hold frequencies from ~20HZ-76KHZ (more than 3x the limit of human hearing [20KHZ]). In the 1970s, the industry tried to promote a quadraphonic system called CD-4, which put information for left and right rear channels into ultrasonic frequencies, and could be played back by a special decoder box and special stylus.

The Vacuum Tube was outmoded in most applications by the transistor in the 50s and 60s, and for good reason. Tubes were large, inefficient, required high voltages and large transformers, had to be replaced (sometimes frequently) and generated lots of heat.

For audio applications, solid state amplifiers are far superior (technically, anyway). The first few generations of solid state amps had problems, but most gear from the 70s onwards is pretty problem free. Tubes, however have a quality, kind of like vinyl records, that keeps them alive: harmonic distortion. Tubes create considerable amounts of odd order harmonic distortion, creating a "warm" sound, and also "soft clip." Clipping is a phenomena which happens when too much signal is applied to an amplifier. A transistor amplifier simply hits it's peak output and can't go any further, creating a hard, gritty and irritating sound. A tube amplifier on the other hand, has a little give, and will create a rounder clips (see figure). This has a warmer, less harsh sound.

Knowing these two things, it's pretty easy to see why guitarists like tubes. Back in the 1950s, some blues musicians started cranking up their tube amps until they started clipping. The result was a kind of crunchy, edgy sound. We know it today as "overdrive," "fuzz" or "distortion." Eventually, companies started making guitar amps with a gain circuit you could intentionally overdrive, then adjust the output of the overdrive, so you didn't have to run the amp full blast. Tube amps became a staple of blues and rock guitar. Solid state amplifiers were really pushed by the industry in the 70s, to the rejection of many. While some styles in the 80s and beyond relied on solid state hard clipping sound, many mid to high end amps are still tube based, and lower end amps with Digital Signal Processing (DSP) tube eimulation are common. Some mostly solid state amps have a tube circut, and tube stage pedals are also common.

Some groups of audiophiles are also into tubed gear. Most like the added "warm" sound, and are certainly willing to pay for it. Some people are also into high efficiency systems, running only run 1 watt amplifiers and using giant horn style speakers, while most tube lovers have moderate power systems). Often, these tube people use vintage 50s and 60s gear, such as early McIntosh and Marantz equipment.

In the audio production realm, microphones and pre-amp/compressors will sometimes use a tube stage, if desirable. Microphones with tube stages are often used for pianos and sound really good on male vocals.

There are also some UHF TV transmitters, microwave ovens and other specialized applications where tubes are still in use today, mostly where transistor amps don't work well. The Most common type of tube of all is the Cathode Ray Tube (CRT), which are still commonly used in TVs and computer monitors everywhere, although they are being replaced by LCD and other thin display technologies.

RT Article: Connections. What's What

Connections, what's what. Home Entertainment

This is a little guide to figuring out what connection goes to what, and what to use, etc...

In today's world of Home Theater systems, there are a gazillion different types of connectors, each with a unique purpose and design, and for some of us... it's hard to keep them all straight. That's why I wrote this little guide to decipher which is which.


RCA connectors
These are by far the most common standard for audio interconnects. They are all analog, and usually stereo (left is white, red is right), although some early DVD players and receivers had 5.1 RCA connections (using six cables). You might also run into a mono audio connection, which can be plugged into stereo inputs via a y adapter cable.
Most RCA connectors are "line level," a standard output voltage, meaning that if you plug a CD player into the CD input, it work just as well as if you plugged it into the Tape or Aux input
There are two exceptions to this. The first are turntables. The output of a phono cartridge is much weaker than line level, and is also equalized differently. For this reason, you should only plug the phonograph into the phono input. If your stereo does not have phono preamp, you can buy a small, external amp. The second are speaker connections. Back in the 70s and 80s, it was common to use RCA connectors for the speaker outputs. These should NEVER be plugged into line level jacks.

Coaxial and Optical Digital Audio (Sony/Phillips Digital Interface or S/PDIF. pronounced "spid-iff")
The digital audio connections are found on most modern equipment, such as DVD player, satellite/cable boxes and game consoles. S/PDIF can do anything from CD audio, to the latest high definition surround sound formats found on Blu-Ray discs. Definitely use S/PDIF over analog RCA if the option is available.

Video connectors

Video connections are definitely more complicated than Analog. However, once you understand the differences, choosing the right cable is fairly simple.

RF Modulated Video (Coax). These were the first type of connectors found such devices as VCRs, and for good reason. Most TVs in the 70s and 80s didn't have a direct video input. Instead, they had a tuner to tune in different channels. When VCRs and other video source components were introduced, they used RF modulators to put the video on a channel (3 or 4). The TV viewed it just like any other TV channel. Most of the time, RF modulated outputs only have mono audio and a less than optimal picture. Use RF Modulated ONLY if you have to.

Composite Video (Coax with an RCA end, yellow). Composite video is identical to RF modulated, except for the fact that it isn't modulated to a channel. This yields a noticeably sharper picture, and reduces the electronics (and distortion) in the signal path. As an additional benefit, most Composite connections use stereo audio, too.

S-Video (a mini-din connector). This is a step up from Composite and is often found on laptop computers. S-Video is usually the best connector on older gear. S-Video separates the Chrominance and Luminance signals for an even sharper picture.

Component Video (Three coax cables with RCA ends, usually Red Green and Blue). The best analog video connector there is. Component separates the Red Green and Blue for an exceptional picture. Component supports Standard Definition (480i) as well as High Definition (480p, 720p and 1080i) resolutions.

Digital Video Interface (DVI. Usually a white connector with a large number of pins). This digital video connector (primarily found on computer monitors) is found on older High Def equipment. It is forwards compatible with High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI), and adapter cables are easy to find.

High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI). This cable, a little bigger than a USB cable, can carry both digital video and digital audio, and is currently (and for the foreseeable future) the industry standard for connecting HD sources. Use it whenever you can.

Don't get ripped off by cables.

Many people think they need to buy some super fancy Monster Cable to get the most out of their audio/video gear. This is simply un-true. Monster Cable and other high priced cables like it are simply a waste of money and should simply be avoided. Here's a quick guide to finding good cables at affordable prices.

Composite Video, Component Video and Coaxial digital audio connectors all use standard coaxial cable and RCA ends. At the distances found in most home setups (usually 12ft or less), there is no discernible difference between cables. If you need custom lengths, they are very easy to make (all you need is coax cable, RCA connectors and soldering equipment.)

RCA and S-Video cables use twisted pairs of wire with a little shielding around the edges. Get the cheapest stuff available. These are also practical to make custom lengths if needed.

DVI and HDMI. These cables use shielding around a number of twisted pairs of wires. Because of the complex connectors, it's impractical to make these cables. Since these are all digital, practically, they either work or they don't, so don't bother with the fancy stuff.

Optical digital audio. While it might sound really fancy, optical digital connectors are just a small piece of fiber with plastic ends. Since there is no electrical connection, there's no need for gold plated ends or what not.

Speaker cable. Don't ever buy stuff off a spool, especially if it has a name brand. Your probably paying 50% or more markup. Instead, measure how much you need (add a few feet to that), then run out to your local Home Depot and get good ol' #14 zip cord (if your feeling extreme, get #12). No need for fancy gold plated ends, either. Whip out (or borrow your neighbor's) soldering gun, grab a roll of solder and tin the ends your self.

Good places to buy cables. In general, I'd HIGHLY recommend you never buy cables at Best Buy or other big box electronics stores, or for that matter, most other local retail outlets. Why? Because they sell name brands (like Monster Cable) at a lage markup. If you must get a cable locally, go to Wal-Mart or other discount store and get the cheapest one you can find. Phillips/Magnavox makes a pretty complete line of cables, which are fairly affordable. Also, zip cord at most hardware, home improvement and electrical stores is fairly affordable.

There are a couple online stores that offer really good selection and prices. offers a large selection and rock bottom prices. In addition to home theater cables, they also offer computer cables, etc... The site is widely respected and a favorite among Home Theater enthusiasts.

Cable losses: taking the mystery out of amplifiers and cables.
On a semi-related note, I'd like to tackle the subject of TV cable loss and how to properly design the TV distribution system in your house. Coax cable has a certain amount of loss (attenuation of signal). This is usually measured in db per 100ft. The better the cable, the less loss. There are three basic types of coax: RG-59, RG-6 (and RG-6 dual and quad shield) and RG-11. RG-59 having the highest loss and RG-11 having the lowest loss. Most houses are wired with RG-59 or RG-6. RG-11 is mostly used in cable TV or more industrial applications, where low loss over long distances is needed. In addition, there are few other things in a system that can decrease the signal. Wall plates (barrel splices) usually have a .5db loss. Two way splitters have 3.5db loss, etc... (see side panel). Using this information, it pretty easy to draw a diagram of your house's system, and with a few rough measurements, you can figure out approximately how much loss the system has.

Now, what do you do about the loss. Simple. First, optimize your system. For example, if you have a four-way splitter, but your only using two outputs, get a two way splitter instead. Also, make sure you don't have large coils of cable laying around (just cut off the extra). Next, Install an amplifier to compensate for loss (if necessary).

With cable TV, your provider is usually pumping more than enough signal into your house to compensate for a small setup. Unless your analog picture is fuzzy, digital picture freezes, or your internet is intermittent, I would leave it alone. If you have digital cable or cable internet, make sure to get a two-way amplifier (normal amps won't pass the signal coming from your modem or cable box). A quality amplifier is also key here. I'd recommend buying a quality unit from a place like, rather than the one at Wal-Mart.

With an over the air antenna, especially fringe setup, compensating for loss is critical. If you live more than 30 miles from available stations, a quality mast mounted pre-amplifier is a must. For areas with high signal levels (less than 20 miles), a Winegard HDP-269 is ideal (this unit has 12db of gain on both VHF and UHF and is designed for high-input levels). Out on the fringe, a dual input Channel Master 7777 pre-amp (with 23db on VHF and 26db on UHF) is a good solution.

With Satellite TV, you shouldn't need to do anything unless the cables are extremely long. In which case, a satellite inline amplifier should be used.

If you need help or have questions, I recommend asking on

RT Article: Open Office 3

Open, a popular open source office application is becoming a great alternative the Microsoft's Office suite. Here's why.

When the Mozilla foundation introduced Mozilla Firefox, the fire-breathing, website loading beast of a web browser, Microsoft was shaking in their boots, and rightly so: Internet Explorer's reign was over. One product was five years outdated and full of security holes, the other was cutting edge in every respect and super secure to boot.

Firefox's real secret sauce is not really the built in features, the security, but rather, it's the ability to easily add whatever feature or enhancement one can think of through extensions. Mozilla created not just a browser, but a platform that's extremely easy to customize and add onto. I can make it work just the way I work.

Another thing Firefox did was break the stronghold of pages that could only be rendered in Internet Explorer, opening up the internet to any browser, thus paving the way for further innovation.

Open Office is doing to Office what Firefox did to browsers: their creating a platform that works great out of the box, but can be customized to work just the way you want it through extensions.

In a sense, it's the same formula as Mozilla Firefox: an easy to use product with tons of features, the ability to add features through extensions and the support for the OpenDocument format (usable by a number of office suites) and Microsoft Office (not to mention direct PDF exportation).

The project is developing OpenOffice 3 (now in Beta), which has an interface reminiscent of MS Office 2003. The new version adds features, such as a start center, multiple page views, a zoom slider, margin notes, support for MS Office 2007 format and a re-designed (yet still lean) user interface.

The bottom line: Open Office, especially the new version, does just about everything you can do in MS Office, supports extensions to extend functionality and ease of use, plus it runs on just about any platform. Before you go out and spend $$ on a commercial program, give it a try!

RT Article: Clock Syncing

Have you ever been frustrated that all the clocks in your house show a different time? Are you scratching your head trying to figure out what time it really is? In this article, I'll show you how to get the real time, and get all your clocks in sync.

The first thing you need to do is to get the accurate time. The first logical question one asks is: where does the official time come from, anyway? The accurate time comes from an atomic clock located at the National Institute Of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colorado. Most modern computer operating systems will synchronize to a time server, which in turn syncs to the atomic clock. In Windows XP, right click on the time (in the bottom right corner of your screen), select adjust date/time, click the "Internet Time" tab, then update now. Another method is to use a shortwave radio. Tune into WWV at 2.5, 5, 10, 15 or 20MHZ. You'll hear a series of beeping noises, then "at the tone, the current time is...". I recommend you sync a digital watch to the computer or WWV. Set the hour, then set the minute one ahead (if it's 2:41, set it for 2:42), then keep resetting the seconds, until it is in sync with the time.

After you sync your watch, go around and do all the clocks in the house. For digital clocks without second indicators, I'd recommend you set it to the current minute, then move it up right as the minute changes. The method involved in setting the digital clock may vary, but you get the idea. For analog clocks, pull the battery out right when the second hand hits zero. Set the hands for a minute or two ahead, then put the battery in right when the actual time catches up to where the clock is set.

How Atomic/Radio Controlled Clocks Work:

While I'm writing an article on keeping accurate time, I should tell you about radio controlled/atomic clocks. These devices, as you can guess, sync to the NIST atomic clock in Boulder, CO, but how? By all the little images of a satellite on the packaging of most units, you'd think it's some kind of satellite, or something new and really high tech, right? Wrong. First of all, the radio signal that these clocks rely on is nothing new. The signal is WWVB broadcasting on 60KHZ from a site in Fort Collonns, CO (along with WWV). The station broadcasts a 1 bit per second data stream which provides the seconds, minutes, hours, day of year, year, as well as leap year and leap second information. Daylight Savings Time data is also included. Because of the low frequency of the station (which is well below AM radio [530-1710KHZ]), and high output power (50KW), it consistently covers the continental United States and southern Canada, while Central America, northern South America at night.

WWVB started broadcasting in 1962, and has been broadcasting in the exact same format since 1965. The transmitting facilities were upgraded in 1997 and completed in 1999, so atomic clock receivers have been around for over 45 years (mostly rackmount industrial units). So, why, you ask, have radio-controlled clocks only become available in the last few years? It's because the higher power of the transmitter, building a receiver that fits into a watch or small clock is now practical. Often times, the receiver can be fitted on a single chip, and a small antenna. After years of creating chipsets, atomic clocks are becoming a standard feature. I surveyed the clock selection at my local Wal-Mart and found $10 models with atomic clock reception. I opted for a $20 Sharp alarm clock that also includes dual alarms, indoor and outdoor temperature sensors, day, date, year and moon phase displays. Oh, and it relies on batteries, so I never have to worry about a power glitch again.

RT Article: HD Radio

HD Radio

Last issue, I told you about Digital TV and the DTV transition. This month, I'm going to talk about another kind of HD: HD Radio, and how it applies to you.

The actual underlying technology in broadcast radio really hasn't changed much in the last 50 years or so. As a result, the system is quite out of date, and is literally the last medium to go digital.

A (super brief) history of radio:

AM radio, the first broadcast radio band became standardized in the 1920s. The band runs from 530 KHZ - 1710 KHZ (1.71 MHZ). At those frequencies signals travel along the earth's surface (rather than line of sight).

After years of experimentation and standardization (which took place before and during WWII), the FCC allocated the 88-108 MHZ band for FM broadcasts. While FM offered much higher quality audio than AM, it was still mono. In the early to mid 60s, the FCC reviewed and selected a standard FM Stereo system, out of 14 competitors.

Evolution of radio technology:
Failed FM systems
FM has always been a prime candidate for tweaking and improvements. Some lasted, some didn't.
In the late 60s and early 70s, a number of different systems arose to broadcast the quadraphonic sound. These quickly died out due to lack of interest. In the late 70s, the Dolby corporation released Dolby FM, a modified version the noise reduction scheme found on cassette tapes, which would allow for better FM with lower noise. It, too died. FMX, another radio noise reduction scheme came along in the early 80s. It also hit the fan.

Successful FM improvements
One lasting "improvement" was the use of subcarriers, low power signals slightly lower or higher in frequency than the main signal, which carried content such as background music services, reading for the blind, etc... In the early 1990s, stations began adopting the Radio Data System, which allowed stations to broadcast station, artist and track info to equipped receivers (found in many recent cars). Broadcasting RDS is actually fairly common in larger markets today.

AM Stereo
In the 1980s, FM radio finally became the dominant broadcast band. Work was done to improve AM radio. The improvement - AM Stereo. In the mid 1970s, the FCC started testing competing AM Stereo systems, and announced the winner in 1980: the Magnavox system. After lawsuits, accusations of bribery and general public outrage, the FCC decided to let stations use whatever system they wanted. Mayhem ensued. At first, stations chose any of the four systems, and so did receivers, confusing consumers to no end. Eventually, the industry formed a standard called AMAX, which maximized sound quality, and ensured that all AMAX receivers could decode all four standards. Eventually, Motorola's standard (C-QuAM) came out ahead, and the FCC adopted it as the official standard in 1993. In America, and most other non-third world nations, this was the end of it (AM Stereo is still in heavy use in some countries).

The dawn of HD Radio
The audio and video realm is almost completely digital now. In fact, the only major realm that isn't digital is radio. Many European nations have been broadcasting digital radio (the Digital Audio Broadcast [DAB] standard) since 1999.

In 2002, the FCC selected the iBiquity corporation's HD Radio standard for digital AM and FM broadcasts. There are two basic broadcast modes for HD Radio: hybrid (digital and analog) or all digital. Currently, all stations broadcasting HD Radio are using a hybrid mode. Currently, the system is broadcast on subcarriers at 1/100th the power of the analog counterpart. While the FCC hasn't given out information about all digital broadcasts, it's estimated that a digital broadcast 1/10th the power of the analog one will reach farther than the analog broadcast.

In Hybrid mode on FM, stations can broadcast one "CD Quality" station, or two "MP3 Quality" stations. It's even possible to add a third channel, capable of lower quality stereo, or high quality mono channel. In addition, the system is capable of broadcasting artist/album/song information, station call letters, the station's name, and the current time. In all digital mode, stations can do 6-7 stereo streams, and possibly even surround sound!

AM stations can broadcast HD Radio as well. The digital channel is capable of FM quality stereo sound, and the aforementioned text data. In all digital mode, AM stations could broadcast higher quality audio, or possibly even two lower quality channels.

Better Reception
Currently, HD Radio broadcasts can really only be received where you have a strong analog signal. In certain situations, you might have to improve reception by getting a better indoor, or outdoor antenna. However, the digital signals are a lot more resistant to multipath reception than analog. In fact, some users can get a solid HD lock where the analog sounds terrible. In the future, when stations go all digital, they'll be able to reach farther than the old analog signal.

User adoption
From 2002-2005, there were only a few stations testing the technology, and the number of receiver models could be counted on one hand. In the time since, things have really taken off.
At the time of writing, 1564 stations broadcast HD Radio, and there are 2,354 channels on those stations. In fact, most stations in large markets are broadcasting in HD Radio! If you'd like to see what stations are available in you area, check out the listings at As you can see, many stations are broadcasting other "HD-2" and "HD-3" channels. The "HD-1" channels are the same as the analog station, while the HD-2 and 3 channels broadcast.

Radios available
Basic lesson in radios: From the introduction of radio until the late 50s, most equipment used vacuum tubes and various components. From the late 50s until the 80s, most radios used transistors and various components. From the 80's until present, most radios had digital readout, used chips instead of individual components, but were still analog on the audio side. HD Radio is helping push another technological advance: Digital Signal Processing (DSP) based radios. In a nutshell, DSP receivers process the signal entirely in the digital domain, and are much more sensitive (able to pull in weak signals) and selective (able to reject adjacent stations) than ordinary radios.

While this is a huge technological advance, tuners are rather hard to come by. Their most prevalent in the car radio market. Some $70 aftermarket radios (such as those made by Dual) are equipped with HD Radio!. Table top radios, receivers with HD and component tuners are also available, but harder to come by.

HD Radio looks like it's here to stay. If your in the market for a new car radio, it's certainly something to consider, especially with the low cost of equipped models. Right now, the technology is in the early adopter stage, but should become mainstream in five years or so. For more information, check out for available radios and stations in your area.

RT Article: Quick and dirty TV calibration

No matter what kind of TV you have, chances are it could benefit from it quick little calibration. The method I'm about to show you doesn't require any special tools, just a DVD player and the THX Optimizer, a small calibration tool found on a number of movies. Odds are, you already own a DVD with it. All Pixar and Star Wars movies have the THX Optimizer. For a complete list, go to: and hit "view the entire list"

Usually, the THX optimizer is in the Setup or options section of the DVD menu. Once you find it, run through the video calibration screens, adjusting everything as they describe.

Before you begin calibration, I'd recommend you set your TV to it's factory settings or "normal" mode and keep the color temperature at "normal." Then, get the set calibrated. After calibration, write down the setting values for future reference. Note: if you have an older set with a hidden panel and knobs, get the knobs to their default position (where they kind of "click") then work from there.

After running the THX optimizer, I'd recommend you tweak the color control a tiny bit to get the flesh tones just right. Also, if your TV is connected to a source via composite (yellow jack), it probably has some "dot crawl." I find that the effects of dot crawl can be minimized when your sharpness control is at or below the default. Sit at your normal viewing position and pull up DVD player settings menu or other static image, then tweak it. Afterwords, turn on sports or something with fast action and fine detail as a second test.

Some TVs (especially older ones) could also benefit from a tint control calibration. If your colors are off and un-natural after calibration, you probably need it. Bring up the calibration screen with the white squares and adjust until those squares are really white. Afterwords, look at flesh tones and make sure they look natural.

If you did everything right, you should now have a picture with high contrast (black is really black), natural colors (not too intense) and a sharp, bleed free picture.

Note: if your TV has a different setting for each input, get them all to your calibrated values. For VCRs, you probably want to turn up the color just a tad. For Component, S-Video and DVI/HDMI inputs, leave the sharpness at normal. For Composite and RF-modulated, turn the sharpness down a bit to minimize dot crawl (as previously stated).

RT Article: Zenith DTT-901 Review

I'd like to give you all an update on the Digital TV article I wrote in the November/December 2007 issue.

At that time of writing, Digital TV converter boxes weren't even on the market yet. A year later, there are dozens of converter boxes on the market and almost all models have been tested extensively by consumer publications and enthusiasts alike.

While there are many good choices, the clear winner seems to be a box made by LG Electronics, marketed under the Zenith and Insignia brands. It's widely accepted in the enthusiast community for having the best tuner sensitivity (ability to lock onto signals). It also has very accurate video output. One broadcast engineer found it's color output to be more accurate than an older $2,000 rackmount decoder.

Feature wise, this box is outstanding! The slick looking menus are well organized and easy to use. The remote (requires one AAA battery, included) is simple and well laid out, yet has every feature and option you'd want to access (CC, mute, zoom, guide and a signal meter) right at your fingertips. The only things you need to go into the menu for are seldom-used features like scanning channels and changing output settings.

We've had these converter boxes hooked up to our two TVs for a few months now, and it does live up to it's reputation. I'd certainly recommend it to anybody shopping for one.

The Zenith branded model, the Zenith DTT-901 is available at your local K-Mart for a mere $49.99 ($9.99 after $40 government coupon). Best Buy sells it under their store brand, Insignia, which is available for $59.99 ($19.99 after coupon).

A few quick tips setting up your box:
-If your TV has composite video (yellow jack), use that instead of the coax ch. 3/4 output.
-If you connect the TV using composite and stereo audio (red and white), go into the menu and change it from mono to stereo.
-This box, as with all other coupon eligible models have a timer that turns it off if no button has been pressed for four hours. Go into the menu and set to off in order to disable this.
-If you have an antenna on a rotor, the box probably won't find all available channels. Point your antenna toward the stations it didn't find, then go into the menu and select EZ-Add. This allows you to find new channels without erasing the ones it already found.
-Use the zoom control!!! Oftentimes, a station will broadcast in widescreen format all the time, but might have a 4:3 (standard) picture. The result is a widescreen image with black bars on either side. Displayed on a standard TV, the image will have black bars on both top and bottom, left and right (a black frame around the picture). When the program is like this, simply use the crop setting. When your watching a widescreen program, such as a movie or big nationally syndicated show, consider zooming out to get the whole picture.

RT Article: The DTV transition (from December 2007)

In this month's issue, I'm going to discuss the DTV transition, how is applies to you, and what you need to do to be prepared.

A brief history of television
TV got mass adoption in the US in the 1950s and 60s. In the mid 60s, color TV became popular. In the early days, there were 12 channels, better known as VHF (channels 2-13). After many TV stations went on the air, the FCC decided to add the UHF spectrum (channels 14-83), so that many other stations could go on their air, and translators could relay stations to rural areas where the signal was too weak to bring in a satisfactory picture. This is where the story of American TV begins.

The early days
Most households in the suburbs of a city were able to get good reception (at least on VHF channels) with the pair of rabbit ears which came built in with most TV sets in those days. If you lived out in the country, or wanted better reception than rabbit ears could provide, you installed an antenna outside. Often, people installed basic, medium range VHF antennas, and adjusted them to the best compromise of all channels. At the time, antenna rotators, pre-amplifiers, long range antennas, UHF antennas, and towers were all considered luxuries, and few people had anything better than a mediocre antenna setup which produced mediocre reception. As time went on more and more UHF stations hit the airwaves, but few people could get a good picture on these stations (because they only had a VHF antenna).

The advent of cable television
In the 50s and 60s, there were rural communities where TV reception just wasn't possible, due to the fact that the nearest stations were 150 miles away. While reception of VHF stations is possible at this distance, you would need a stack (two identical antennas pointed in the same direction) of long range antennas, a pre-amplifier and a large tower. Often, the TV & Radio shop in a town would put a tower on top of a near by hill and pipe in the signal to the community via a network of cable, and charge a nominal fee for access. This became known as community antenna television, or cable TV. By the mid 70s, cable systems were becoming popular in many cities, even those with adequate signal, because cable offered all your local channels with static free picture!! With the advent of satellite TV, cable companies started offering new networks, like CNN, MTV, etc... In the late 70s and into the 80s, most Americans made the switch to cable.

While most Americans hooked up to cable, country dwellers and TV enthusiasts alike were installing 8-12' (C-Band) satellite dishes in their back yard to get those same "cable channels." Not only did this lucky minority not have to pay for these channels (they were free at the time), but they were able to receive over 100 "cable channels" network TV feeds and a host of other assorted stuff with their $1,000+ investment. At the same time, this minority were investing in improved antenna systems. In this period, antenna designs had improved considerably, coax cable replaced twin-lead, good combination VHF/UHF antennas were readily available, rotators were cheap and reliable, and pre-amplifiers became standard equipment. Because of the better hardware, higher expectations of the consumer, and good installations, getting a crystal clear picture was the standard, not the exception for antennas. In the 80s, the FCC reallocated channels 70-83 for other uses, leaving the TV spectrum at channels 2-69.

While the large C-Band systems worked well in the early and mid 80s, most network channels start scrambling their channels, in order to charge people and cable companies to access them. While most cable companies, and some consumers bought legitimate boxes and payed for their access, there was a huge market for illegal descramblers that would decode all the channels without you ever having to pay the networks. As a result of this, and the advent of digital broadcasting, most C-Band broadcasts moved to a digital standard better known as 4-DTV. Another downside to C-Band systems is that you could only broadcast 24 channels per satellite, so one had to turn their dish constantly.

Around this same time (1995), mini-dish came on the scene. Mini-Dish providers used higher power satellites and digital broadcasting to beam "cable channels" down to customers with 18" dishes. Mini-dish providers also undercut cable providers, provided more channels that was available on cable, all with better than cable quality picture. Since mini-dish systems didn't provide local channels, there was also a renewed interest in antennas.

Digital TV
In 1996, congress passed a measure, known as the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which created a plan to switch all over the air broadcasts to digital by Febuary 17th, 2009. The bill also re-allocated channels 52-69 for other uses (leaving 50 channels, or ch. 2-51 for TV use). The standard being used for over the air broadcasts (known as the ATSC standard or DTV ), allows station to broadcast a data stream of near 20 MB/sec. This allows broadcasters to air a high definition channel, and a standard definition (DVD quality) channel at the same time. It is also possible for a station to broadcast five DVD-quality stations simultaneously. The standard also allows stations to broadcast their call letters, program guide information, audio only channels, the current time, closed captioning and 5.1 surround sound. Since most DTV stations are on a different channel than their analog counterpart, the digital broadcasts include "re-map" data. Because there stations can broadcast multiple programs on the same channel, each program has a decimal prefix. For example, the main program is on the .1 channel.

A station such as KTTC (NBC) in Rochester is broadcast in analog on channel 10. Their digital station broadcasts two programs, NBC (in HD) on .1 channel, and CW (in SD) is on the .2 channel. Without remap data, these would show up on your TV as 36.1 and 36.2, but the remap data tells the receiver to display them as channels 10.1 and 10.2.

Digital signals are considerably more robust than their analog counterparts. As a result, an analog channel might look fuzzy or might have ghosting, but it's digital counterpart might lock perfectly. When the signal level gets too low for a perfect picture, the audio will cut out sporadically, and little blocks of the picture will freeze (this is called macroblocking). The intensity of macroblocking can vary significantly. Sometimes, you'll see one or two errors every few minutes, all the way to having consistent macroblocking and intermittent sound.

What do I need to do to be prepared?
If you subscribe to cable or get you locals through satellite, you don't need to do a thing. The sattelite companies are all set, and most cable providers will either convert the local stations to analog, or upgrade everybody to digital cable. If you use an antenna to get you locals, however, that's a different story.

First, you'll want to make sure that all your TVs can receive a digital signal. If you have sets that can't, you can simply go out and buy a converter box for each of them. Some DVD recorders, DVD/VCR units, and satellite boxes already have a DTV tuner built in. Before you go out and buy anything, check out your current equipment to make sure you don't already have one.

You should consider if now might the right time to purchase a new TV, or whether you want to wait. You don't necessarily have to buy a flat panel, or even an HD set, just something with a digital tuner. If you want to keep your existing TV, consider whether you want to get a DVD recorder. A number of these units are in the sub $200 range, and are just the ticket to replace that aging VCR. If you don't need anything but DTV reception, then go ahead and get a stand alone converter box.

Next comes the antenna part. There are a couple of things consumers need to know. Most VHF-LO stations (ch. 2-6) will move to a different channel, come 2009, but most VHF-HI (Ch. 7-13) stations will keep their current allocations, and some UHF stations will swap around. If you use an indoor antenna, you'll want to evaluate whether or not you get satisfactory UHF reception, or whether you'll need an outdoor antenna. If you have an outdoor antenna, you'll also need to evaluate your reception. What do your VHF-HI channels look like? What do your UHF channels look like? Does the rotator work? Is the antenna falling apart? Do I need go fix/replace stuff in order to get good reception?

The DTV Converter Box Program
As of January 1st, 2008, the government will allow each household to request 2 $40 coupons to purchase a qualifying converter box. It's been speculated that these units will cost less than $100. After the 1st of the year, check DTV.Gov for more information about this. In my research, manufacturers are planning to sell the converter boxes for as low as $60, meaning it will only cost the consumer $20 to purchase (with the coupon).

Some resources to help you:
-The Audio Video Science Forum (, a popular Home Theater message board as an entire section of threads about local reception (the "Local HDTV Info and Reception"). Here, you can find out what setups worked for others, information about local stations, and post-transition lineups and issues, and local antenna installers. The HDTV Reception Hardware section of this Forum is a great place to ask about hardware,DTV boxes, etc... and are two popular TV reception prediction engines. These are useful in determining what you can get and what you need to receive it. TVFool is much more precise, but more technical. AntennaWeb is best used a second reference. Note: On the AVSForum, it's standard practice to post your TVFool results when asking for reception advice.
-The HDTV Primer ( is a technical, but comprehensive site on all aspects of HDTV. Their "Erecting an Antenna" section ( is particularly useful.
-If you need parts, has sells a wide range of antennas and supplies at good prices.

Quick troubleshooting for antenna
Problem: I get good VHF, but no UHF.
Check your TV. Is it set to cable or antenna mode (sometimes called TV). Set it to Antenna, then try again.
Is the pre-amplifier power supply plugged in (the power supply is a little box with two connections, one marked "to pre-amp", the other "to TV"). If not, plug it in.
Does your TV have separate VHF/UHF inputs (old ones do)? If it does, get a VHF/UHF splitter or connect the antenna to the UHF input.
Problem: Stations come in, but look poor.
Make sure your pre-amp power supply is plugged in.
Examine the antenna. Is it a VHF, VHF/UHF or UHF model? (If your unsure, ask on the AVS forum and post a picture of the antenna).
Try rotating the antenna towards the desired station (get the exact direction from

RT Articles

I've been writing a bunch of tech stuff for RT Magazine on and off for a while now, so I thought I might post those articles here. Enjoy!!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

TV Fool and FM Fool

A while ago, I mentioned It's an absolutely amazing, accurate and technical reception prediction engine that will tell you everything you need to know about the TV channels you'll be able to pick up at a given location. This is really an indispensable took.

After much work, they've released FM Fool. Finally, you can get all the same technical information on FM stations that you can on TV stations. Check it out:

Monday, June 23, 2008

Some Cool DIY Audio Projects

Editor's Note:I haven't built any of these yet, but I've sure heard good things about them.

The hobby of building one's own electronics is certainly a dwindling one. All the same, electronics is a field that just keeps getting better. Particularly, audio electronics. Their one field that can still be built by hand. Infact, some of the coolest low-distortion gear can be made by hand.

I found a wonderful resource of really cool, audiophile quality projects for just about any application. Check out:

Friday, June 6, 2008

Make Firefox 3 Even Faster

Mozilla Firefox version 3, which I mentioned in a previous post, is an incredible browser! The UI is much improved on the already slick Firefox 2. The biggest benefit of FF 3 is it's speed. Many people are reporting that benchmarks and real use confirm it's the fastest browser ever. No joke.

Now, here's the really cool thing. You can make it even faster. That's right. Basically, you need to go into the about:config (open a new tab and enter about:config into the address bar).

You can do a google on about:config tweaks, and come up a bunch of different websites all talking about different changes you can make. I looked at several different sites and condensed all the speed tweaks into a single list. Here it is. Note: The first number is the default, the second is the value which you should change it to.

Here's that list:

1. Non speed related tweaks
browser.tabs.tabMinWidth 100 to 75
layout.spellcheckDefault 1 to 2 (enables spellcheck for one line fields)
extensions.checkCompatibility (right click and create a new Boolean) false

2. Speed tweaks
network.http.pipelining false to true
network.http.pipelining.maxrequests 30 to 8
network.http.max-connections 30 to 96
network.http.max-connections-per-server 15 to 32
network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-server 6 to 8
network.http.pipelining.ssl false to true
network.http.proxy.pipelining false to true

DIY TV Antennas

Sorry it's been a while since I last posted, but I've been overloaded (to the point of clipping and distortion) with school work and studying for the SAT (I take it tomorrow).

One of my technical obsessions is TV & FM antennas, more specifically, DIY antennas.

In the last year or so, the DIY antenna scene has exploded from just a few nuts to a gazillion nuts.

What could be better? You bring home a fancy new HDTV, and within 1/2hr, for under $10, you can put together a nice down and dirty "4-bay" UHF antenna that will let you get most local stations: all in HD quality.

There are also some more advanced designs, and if built right, could be installed outside and last you a few decades.

So, here's the grandiose list of antenna plans.

First is the basic 4-bay antenna. Has a pretty good set of plans.

DIYers made a significant breakthrough sometime last year. They took an old, obscure UHF antenna, the Hooverman, patented in the late 1950s and used some computer modeling to tweak the performance. The end result: practically the best bay-type UHF antenna ever made. People have done side by side comparisons with previous top performers, the Channel Master 4221 and 4228, and it's grossly outperformed them. Plus, some modelers are working on an even better version.
Here's the main link: The Gray-Hoverman For UHF Television Reception.
The thread for the original thread is here:Generation I Gray-Hoverman Antenna (SBGH & DBGH)
The thread for the new improved design is here:Generation II Gray-Hoverman Antenna (SBGH2 & DBGH2)
There also a bunch of people trying old designs and coming up with new ones.

Here are a couple of "free for all" Antenna design threads.
Modeling Software for OTA Antenna Design & Creation
How to build a UHF antenna...
and finally:
DIY HDTV antenna Lumenlab
For this one, you'll need a user name and password. Thanks to, you have one:
username: surreydistrict36
password: surreygirls

If your looking old obscure antennas, Google Patents is you friend.

I was looking for plans for the mother of all VHF antennas, The deep fringe model of the Channel Master Crossfire, and found exactly what I was looking for:on Google Patents

As far as old designs go, this guy has some good stuff on his Photobucket.

The Worldwide TV FM DX Association also has a good collection of stuff on their site.

Monday, March 3, 2008

TV Calibration (Pt. 1)

It's a common predicament. You spend tons of money on a shiny, new HDTV set, only to get it home and find super intense colors and a blindingly bright picture. While this might look cool for about the first two weeks, it's like listing to all your music with the bass and treble controls all the way up, and the loudness switch on. It gets old after a while. You want to listen to the music the way it really sounds and see the TV picture it's supposed to look.

The reason your TV is so ridiculously intense is simple. Most stores use super bright lighting. While this is great for everything else, TVs are best viewed at normal or dim lighting to look their best. As for the intense color, manufacturers do it to catch your eye. Kinda like turning the bass up on speakers in the store.

Go into your TVs menu, find the picture mode, and set it to "normal." Sometimes the default picture mode is "demo."

Now that you've got the TV relatively on track, it's time to do some more advanced setup. Look through your DVD collection and find a disc with the THX Optimizer. Try an episode of Star Wars or a Pixar movie (I used the one on Monsters, INC.) Make sure you do the setup in the same lighting conditions you'll be watching TV and movies with.

Later, I'll get into the service menu.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Firefox Three

It's not quite out of beta yet, but Mozilla Firefox 3 beta 3 is plenty stable, and the interface will knock you socks off!!! Well, Ok.. it's not quite as drastic as going from IE 6 to Firefox 1, but it's a significant improvement, nonetheless.

Oh, and btw won't be eating all available RAM!

Check it out...

Friday, February 22, 2008

A REAL Audiophile Magazine

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm really sick and fed up with the traditional audiophile scene, because it's filled with ridiculously priced gear, irresponsible journalism, and hard line subjectivism. I'm talking about magazines like Stereophile and The Absolute Sound.

Since I'm much more of an objectivist, and don't buy into $$$$ speaker cables and all the other BS in the "audiophile" world, I've been searching high and low for a source that isn't based on subjectivism, blatently false science and all the other crap prevelent in the audiofool world today.

I have finally found that source. It is .....The Audio Critic. It's a small, low budget operation, but don't let that fool you. This publication is dynamite. They debunk audiophile BS and false science like there's no tomorrow. Oh, and their reviews of equipment are thorough, and they take LOTS of measurements. Plus, each issue has an editorial cartoon.

They stopped publishing a print version in 2005, but have 14 print issues up in PDF form (for free) on their website. From 2005 onward, the magazine has been in Blog format. It's good reading!!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Folks, I'm on the front page of Instructibles!!!!

This afternoon, I submitted my second "Instructible" (a tutorial on cleaning vinyl records). About 15 minutes later I get an e-mail:


Your Instructable "Cleaning Vinyl Records" was just featured by one of our editors!

Look for it on the Instructables homepage within the next 30 minutes. Being featured means we think you are awesome. Keep up the great work!

A minute later, I go to the front page. Here it is:
Check it out: