Getting Started: Equipment

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New stations interested in becoming interconnected as part of the PRSS® will need to purchase downlink and PRSS ContentDepot® equipment.

Each station's equipment requirements will be different due to local conditions and the amount of satellite-delivered programming the station expects to use. The following technical specifications and approximate costs for earth terminal equipment and services are provided for the benefit of stations intending to join the PRSS. Descriptions are intentionally brief. The "Installation" item below provides only general guidelines in recognition of widely varying regional pricing and of regular fluctuations in such pricing. Stations are encouraged to obtain competitive local prices.

If you need additional assistance, you may contact PRSS Engineering at 202.513.2632.

  1. Frequency Coordination (Optional) $600-$1,700
    Note: The price range varies between the minimum amount required for a location with low microwave interference and the maximum required for analysis of a site with multiple interference cases.
    The process consists of two steps: 1) the prediction of possible interference at the desired site location; and 2) the coordination with other users of the 4 GHz spectrum in the area to assure continuous interference-free operation. The resulting report, which is required for FCC registration of the downlink, is provided by the coordinator and serves as the basis for ongoing protection from potential future sources of interference. NPR contracts with a frequency coordination firm that provides a group-buy, discounted price. The lower end of the above price range is possible, but not guaranteed.

  2. Antenna $2,000-$3,500
    Minimum diameter of main reflector: 3.7 meters. Minimum gain at 4 GHz: 41 dB. Priority should be placed on sidelobe rejection performance to reduce signal ingress from adjacent satellites at 2" and 4" spacing. The antenna should conform to the FCC's 2" antenna performance envelope. Reflectors utilizing perforated metal are not recommended.

  3. Installation $2,500 (and up)
    The total installation cost of a downlink antenna will include some or all of the following: civil works, foundation preparation, trenching, conduit, cabling, antenna mounting, aiming, and fencing. The antenna is typically located on the ground, mounted on a concrete pad, and surrounded by a fence. Buried cabling between the studio and antenna should be installed in three-inch or larger PVC conduit and buried at a depth of at least 18 inches. The cable route design should minimize turns, which should be accomplished by sweeps, not by elbows. Stations must be sure that the route and depth of the trench for the conduit will not interfere with existing cables, pipes, conduits or any utility. Since the costs for installation-related items vary widely by region, local quotations should be sought.

  4. Antenna Shipping $300 (and up)
    This cost is based solely on the mileage between the proposed downlink and the antenna manufacturer.

  5. Ground Rod $50
    The antenna mount and any conducting materials on the antenna should be grounded for lightning protection of station equipment.

  6. Phase Locked Loop/Low Noise Block Downconverter (PLL/LNB) $250 (and up)
    The block downconverter mounts on the antenna feed port in place of a Low Noise Amplifier (LNA) and converts the C-band satellite signal to L-band for delivery indoors to the receiving equipment. The converter should convert 3.7-4.2 GHz to 950-1450 MHz, with frequency inversion, with as low a noise temperature as is available at a reasonable price. Local oscillator frequency stability should be no greater than ±12 kHz. The PLL/LNB is powered through the center conductor of the coaxial cable by the indoor downconverter. California Amplifier model 140194 or equivalent.

  7. Coaxial Cable, 75 Ohm, L-band Approx. $0.25/feet
    RG-11 type cable with a foam dielectric will work for all but very long runs (over 500 feet). The attenuation at L-band frequencies should be 8 dB/100 feet or less. The total cable attenuation between the antenna and the receiver rack should not exceed 30 dB at 1500 MHz. The cable must be terminated with a male type F connector at each end. The outdoor end must be weatherproof. Commscope type 5916 or equivalent is recommended.

  8. L-band Signal Splitter (four-way) $35
    The studio end of the cable from the antenna is split four ways to feed the two downconverters, with two additional outputs for future expansion. The input and output connectors are female type F. Note: four-way L-Band splitters should be specified as having all ports diode steered for passing DC voltage.

  9. Basic Automation System (Quantity 1) $6,750.00 (and up)
    An automation system takes in audio files from a storage receiver via a network connection, then prepares and plays those audio files at the times specified by station staff. Commercially available systems vary greatly in cost and complexity. ContentDepot receivers can communicate with most systems on the market; be sure to ask potential vendors if their system is compliant with ContentDepot standards.

  10. Satellite Receivers (Quantity 2) $9,626.00 ($4,813.00 each) IDC SFX 4104 Pro Audio
    The Pro Audio receiver captures both streams and audio files in a single unit. The Pro Audio's stream decoders play live satellite-delivered audio, and each unit has four independently tuned stereo outputs/ports to stream live programming.  A significant amount of audio traffic in the ContentDepot is delivered exclusively as audio files. The Pro Audio's storage receiver connects to the station downlink, receives flies from a satellite channel, and then exports those files to a station automation system. Only one Pro Audio receiver is required for normal operations, but two are recommended to provide a "shelf spare" in case of failure.

  11. Network Cable (Quantity 1) $8.00 each
    CAT5E or equivalent network cables are used to connect the station automation system to the storage receiver.

  12. L-band Jumper Cables (Quantity 3) $15.00 ($5.00 each)
    The jumpers are used to carry the L-band signal from the three open ports in the 4-way splitter to the two audio decoders and the file transfer receiver. Note: All L-Band jumpers should be constructed of RG-6 type cable terminated with F-Type male connectors.