V-Soft Communications Propagation & FCC Allocation Software Broadcast/RF

Professional Broadcast Engineering Software

V-Soft Communications Propagation & FCC Allocation Software Broadcast/RF

FMCommander

FMCommander

With Expanded LPFM Features
Click here for FM Allocations Software Introduction and demonstration Videos
Now with the 2020 US Census
Feature Rich!
(New Features List)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is WS-FMCommander-main-screen.png

FMCommander combines the resource tools of contour-to-contour and FCC separations studies with instantaneous interactive maps. Find new ways to upgrade stations or to move transmitter sites under short space.  The program’s contour-to-contour search procedure is designed to be used for non-commercial and commercial FM station allocation studies, boosters, translator studies and low power FM.

This professional level computer program offers a mapping engine that uses the same polygon mapping database as our Probe and AM-Pro programs.  FMCommander produces detailed atlas-like FCC coverage, contour overlap and minimum separations maps.  Users will find drag and drop labeling with the ability to assign colors to the labels, automatic text boxing, arrow and line drawing tools and multiple undo.FMCommander combines the resource tools of contour-to-contour and FCC separations studies with instantaneous interactive maps. Find new ways to upgrade stations or to move transmitter sites under short space.  The program’s contour-to-contour search procedure is designed to be used for non-commercial and commercial FM station allocation studies, boosters, translator studies and low power FM.

An antenna pattern editor automatically designs directional antenna patterns. The editor also has, user friendly, drag and drop pattern point editing.

FMCommander contains a handy profiler tool that will quickly produce a terrain profile graph between any two points clicked on the map.

When using the the minimum separations screen, the user can model the 70 dBu principal city service contour (or other contours of choice) at any point, simply clicking by the mouse. For a YouTube video about FMCommander’s minimum separations study click here.

Using the included U.S. Census population databases, the program will automatically calculate the population within the modeled station’s contour.

All mapping layers, including county lines, political divisions, city names, lakes, rivers, AM towers and FM zone boundaries are included in the price of the program. Additional optional overlays include population scatter-grams, FCC tower database plotting that includes the FCC registration numbers, airports and railroads.

The following is a contour-to-contour screen showing that there is incoming contour overlap to KUNY (call sign now changed) from KZSE . Years ago, this overlap was waived by the FCC, so don’t plan to do this now, things are tougher.

FMCommander Separations

FMCommander provides fully customizable screens, map backgrounds, font selections and colors. (Click here to see the Main Screen using a dark background with multi-colored text fonts.)

The coverage map below is a “graphics only” capture from the program’s “Find Information” screen.

FMCommander Map

FMCommander will also produce standard FM-channel, minimum spacing, section 73.207 and 73.215, tabular and map based separation studies for all station classes including the proposed C4 class.

FMCommander Map

The Separations Mapping screen is shown above. This is an interactive screen.  If you click a given location with your mouse, the program will recalculate the study using the coordinates of your point as the reference station’s location. The minimum spacing circles are plotted at each relevant transmitter location and they define areas where another transmitter cannot be located when using the studied channel.  While the location selected above shows no channel availability, drop-in channels are easily identified. The minimum separation circles can also be filled with a color which makes drop-in channels pop-out to the eye of the user.

For contour to contour studies, FMCommander’s display screen and print-out shows the amount of prohibited contour overlap or clear space in two, easy to read, columns labeled “In” for incoming overlap and “Out” for the overlap your reference station causes to other stations. The amount of Contour Overlap is represented by the distance between the appropriate interference contours and protected contours. Lack of contour overlap, received or caused, can be confirmed when the display shows no negative figures (overlaps) in the “In”, incoming column and no negative figures in the “Out” column. Negative distances, colored in red, indicate the intrusion of an interference contour over a protected contour of another station.

When placed in the “Detailed” overlap mode, FMCommander will automatically check 180 degrees of arc of the interference and protected contours of the reference station.  If overlap is found ‘along any azimuth’, the call letters of the affected station will turn red in the listing and the greatest amount of contour overlap will be shown in the table.

FMCommander interfaces transparently with V-Soft Communication’s FCC based, 30 arc-second and 30 meter digital terrain databases.  For maximum agreement, these are the actual databases in daily use at the FCC Media Branch. Other terrain elevation databases that can be used by the program include the V-Soft U.S.G.S. 3 arc-second,  the National Elevation Datum (NED) 3 second or 30 meter terrain elevation databases, our cloud corrected satellite based Shuttle 3 arc-second Radar Topography Mission database and the GLOBE 30 arc-second terrain database. The program quickly calculates the maximum power allowable in any direction. The effect of terrain attenuation and directional antennas is automatically applied using FCC methods.

FMCommander Map

In the example above, KUNY has a 3.2 km incoming overlap with KZSE. The map screen above maps out the actual overlap.  Click here to see a complete allocation study for KUNY created with one click of the “Allocation” icon.

FMCommander opens up the page that displays the station’s operating parameters when you click on the call letters (either from the “Main Screen” table or the station list on the “Find Station Information Screen.”)  You can resize this screen or any of the FMCommander map screen windows to your liking by dragging one of the corners.

The screen shown above will also display the station’s operating parameters and its relationship with the reference station. FMCommander’s “hot-spot” screens give you the ability to model a given station’s operating parameter with just the click of the mouse and thereby instantly determine the effect of a change in channel, power, antenna height, frequency or geographic coordinates.  For example, clicking the assigned power in the power or antenna height in a text box will quickly show how the protected contour will “Change”. 

FMCommander’s powerful, interactive antenna pattern editor let the user change the fields values along various azimuths by draging and dropping from the azimuth pattern screen. All patterns can be save to file for future use or sent to the printer.  If FMCommander sees a station in the FCC database that uses a directional antenna, it will apply that pattern to its contours. For stations that are not your reference, FMCommander accesses the FCC’s LMS database, as processed and enhanced by V-Soft, to acquire all 36 of the standard effective field azimuth values, and extra azimuths, if they  have been included. 

FMCommander prevents you from making a mistake, such as producing a station that exceeds the maximum distance service contour for its class.  An example of one of the helpful pop-ups is shown below:

warning

An extensive help-screen pops up to remind you of the operating instructions as well as provide tables for, maximum power and antenna heights for classes. These tables also provide such information as the maximum distances of allowable protected service contours for all classes ,and the minimum distance allowed for section 73.215 short-spacing between classes.

If you are working with a translator, either fill-in or non-fill-in, FMCommander has some special routines that will tell you whether your power on a given radial azimuth is over the maximum according to the rules. For the non-fill-in translator studies, a pop-up reports the azimuth of the bad radials and what the maximum power should be. The program always knows which zone the translator is in.

In addition to contour-to-contour interference checks for non-commercial educational FM studies, FMCommander features an array of convenient routines to determine if interference is caused to full-service channel-six TV, as spelled out in Sec 73.525 of the Commission’s rules. The program will map the channel-six interference area and the protected grade B contour of channel-six TV station. As a part of this process, FMCommander searches the television database for channel-six television stations within the cut-off distance. The protected grade B (and grade A) contour for all such TV-6 stations is automatically calculated as is the allowable signal of the FM station at such contours.  The program will determine maximum power when the FM station is co-located with a channel-six television station. For a video on a few of the Find Information Mapping Screen’s features click here.

FMCommander features an automatic “tracking” routine for searching for open channels. Simply place the program it in the “Seek” mode and let it do the searching for you.

The “C0 downgrade” feature will automatically downgrade all class C stations with an HAAT below 450 meters to the C0 class. This allows the user to find drop-ins and upgrades that require C0 downgrades to fit. All stations capable of being downgraded to C0 are suitably labeled with an underline of the call signs or the light blue color separation circle for maps.

At the click of your mouse, FMCommander will perform a “Protected Zones” report.

FMCommander Protected Zones Report

FMCommander’s separations tables uses the FCC’s revised I.F. separations, which include the channel 253 to channel-six TV relationship. The program automatically uses the latest Canadian treaty separations and relevant Canadian protected contour values. Minimum separations from the 1994 Mexican treaty, as revised in 1997, using international class classifications, are applied when there is a relationship with Mexico.

The program uses the same FCC database used by all our V-Soft programs. FMCommander’s clear, straight-forward printouts feature the parameters of the station being checked, (reference station) printed in the heading. The 60, 57 or 54 dBu protected contour distances are predicted from the Commission’s F(50-50) table, while the 40, 54, (80) and 100 dBu interference contours are derived from the Commission’s F(50-10) table. All contours are in kilometers and are predicted using the actual FCC TVFMINT FORTRAN algorithm as published in FCC report No. RS 76-01 by Gary C. Kalagian, so the numbers you get will match with Commission engineers see when an application is reviewed. In addition to the columns showing measures of incoming and outgoing contour overlap interference, FMCommander’s printouts feature the radiated power, antenna HAAT & COR AMSL, distance to, azimuth to, reverse bearing from and geographic coordinates of each pertinent station. Also included is the exact distance of the database station’s protected and interference signal contours. The print-outs include information on whether the station operates as an old rule directional or new rule Sec.73.215 directional. The print-outs also list information on antenna polarization, beam tilt, licensee ownership, file numbers and cut-off dates.

Click below for a PDF file example of FMCommander’s various printouts.

Contour-to-contour printout (PDF)

Standard spacings printout (with comments, PDF)

Standard spacings printout (Long form, PDF)

Spacings Printout with graphic (PDF)

Standard spacings preclusion printout. (PDF)

The integrated database screen (Station Filer) allows the user to easily access, change or correct the FCC’s database information.  Multiple key searches of the full FCC database searches can be performed allowing the user to direct the collected list to screen, to a printer or to a text file.  The “Filter” can be used to select those stations that match the query criteria within a user’s set distance. For a screen listing the user may click any of the stations listed on screen to see the entire record.  Click the “Station Filer” link (above) to see the Station Filer screen. If a station has a directional antenna pattern, the “Pattern” button will be visible.  Clicking this button will bring up an azimuth pattern display plotting the pattern along 36 or 360 points as interpolated from the FCC’s standard patterns and any extra pattern points that may be included.  The extra pattern points will also be shown in the display’s tabular field value listing.

FMCommander has a handy Internet Mapping Option Module, that allows synchronization and interactivity with the Acme Mapper (7.5′ Topographic Maps), MS Bing Maps, Google Maps (Street Views) and Google Earth where the program can plot a station’s coverage or ‘area-to-locate’ map.

The new WatchDog™ module has been completely updated. This optional module allows the user to prepare a list of addressees and stations’ call signs to be used in automated studies. Full channel-studies containing Sec. 73.207 separations reports and Sec. 73.509 contour to contour reports, for each station on the list, can be sent through automatic email attachments. The WatchDog module is fully integrated with FMCommander and it becomes one of the main menu options. The entire list of emails can be sent automatically on a recurring basis without user intervention, running as a background task. Using the interactive mode, the WatchDog model will print out reports for the entire client list or for a single addressee. The screen shots, seen below, show the module’s main and setup screens. The program is opened by a menu item on the FMCommander Mainscreen.

fmcommander_watchdog1fmcommander_watchdog2

FMCommander was created by senior engineering consultant Doug Vernier.  The newest release adds many new and powerful features.  V-Soft Communication’s programs are widely used by technical consultants and broadcast engineers throughout the U.S. The program is now packaged with the official 2020 group block US Census population data and FCC’s most recent FM database, which includes channel-five, six and LPTV television station data.

Our telephone and email technical support program provides user assistance for FMCommander and all the other V-Soft Communications programs. This includes unlimited access to program updates as they happen. Fresh database downloads are available every day from our client access web-page.

For more on FMCommander please give us a call at 319-266-8402 or contact us online.

For a price quote or more information on any of V-Soft Communications' software products please contact us by email or call (319) 266-8402 or (800) 743-3684.
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