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U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 76-374

Test of the Standard (30 Hz) NCER FM Multiplex Telemetry System, Augmented by Two Timing Channels and a Compensation Reference Signal, Used to Record Multiplexed Seismic Network Data on Magnetic Tape

By Jerry P. Eaton


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The application of subtractive compensation to USGS seismic magnetic tape recording and playback systems was examined in a recent USGS Open-file report (1). It was found, for the standard (30 Hz) NCER multiplex system, that subtractive compensation utilizing a 4688 Hz reference signal multiplexed onto each data track was more effective than that utilizing a 3125 Hz reference signal recorded separately on a different track. Moreover, it was found that the portion of the spectrum between the uppermost data channel (3060 Hz ±125 Hz) and the compensation reference signal (4688 Hz) could be used to record an additional timing signal, with a center frequency of 3700 Hz and a broader playback bandwidth (ca 0 to 100 Hz) than that of the standard data channels. Accordingly, for the tests described in that report, the standard 8-datachannel multiplex system was augmented by one additional timing channel with a center frequency of 3700 Hz. The 3700 Hz discriminator used in those tests was not successfully set up to utilize subtractive compensation; so its output from a tape playback was quite noisy.

Subsequently, further tests have been carried out on the application of subtractive compensation to a 4-channel broad-band multiplex system and to the standard multiplex system, both recorded on field tape recorders with relatively poor tape speed control (2), (3). In the course of these experiments, it was discovered that two separate timing channe1s, not just one, can be inserted between the uppermost data channel and the compensation reference signal, Furthermore, it was possible to adjust the discriminators used to playback these timing channels so that they profited significantly from subtractive compensation even though the playback bandwidth was 0 to 100 Hz (for short rise times of square wave timing signals). The advantages of recording two timing signals on each data track include:

1) one standard time signal to be used for critical timing, e.g. IRIG E, can be recorded with the data on each track, eliminating any problem that might arise from tape head misalignment if the timing base were recorded on a separate track from the data signals being timed,

2) other essential timing signals e.g. WWVB and IRIG C, can each be recorded on several tracks, to insure more reliable recording through redundancy, without displacing data from standard data channels,

3) the broader playback bandwidth of the special timing channels reproduces the sharp-edged timing codes with much less distortion than is obtained from the standard data channels.

In order to implement subtractive compensation with the 4688 Hz multiplexed signal and to record timing signals on the proposed special timing channels, it was necessary to design and build a signal generator/multiplexer unit. The functions of this unit are:

1) generate a stable (x-tal controlled) compensation reference frequency (4688 Hz),

2) generate two timing channel subcarriers (3500 Hz and 3950 Hz) and provide for their modulation by appropriate timing signals,

3) separately, for each of th~14 tape tracks, adjust the relative levels of the timing and compensation subcarriers and multiplex them, at the appropriate level, with the incoming multiplexed data signals for introduction to the tape system direct record amplifiers. These units will be described in detail by Gray Jensen, who designed and built them, as well as being shown diagrammatically in this report.

This report continues the work described in reference (1), and it should be read as a supplement to that report rather than as an independent effort. It introduces changes in the multiplex system and test circuits employed in the tests and then repeats the tests from the earlier report that are required to illustrate the characteristics of the modified system.

Last modified October 27, 2010
First released in paper form 1976

  • This report is available only on the Web.

For additional information:
Contact Information, Earthquake Science Center, Menlo Park Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
345 Middlefield Road, MS 977
Menlo Park, California 94025

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Suggested citation:

Eaton, J.P., 1976, Test of the standard (30 Hz) NCER FM multiplex telemetry system, augmented by two timing channels and a compensation reference signal, used to record multiplexed seismic network data on magnetic tape: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 76-374, 61 p.


I Introduction

II Multiplex system format and equipment modifications

III Tests with the test modulator bank

IV Tests with the hybrid test modulator bank: test modulator bank combined with the compensation and timing multiplexer unit

V Tests on playbacks from the Sony model TC-126 cassette tape recorder

VI Tests on playbacks from the Bell and Howell model 3700 B recorder


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