You may (or may not) have seen the nifty front-page picture of me taking a monitor point reading at KLFF, Arroyo Grande, CA in this week's (11/19/08) Radio World
. If you did, you may have also seen my comments regarding the alleged massive cost savings the proponents of this change have been hawking at the major benefit.
I still say the main reason AM proofs cost so much these days is consultant greed, but that's not why I started this topic. I have the tools necessary to model arrays and have done it when faced with cranky (no pun intended) arrays in order to find a decent starting point for tuning. However, the public domain tools are clunky and nonintuitive and the specialized broadcast-oriented pre- and post-processors for NEC-2 and MiniNEC are expensive.
So, I have been searching around for something a little more reasonable and found a what looks like an outstanding resource. It's called Basic NEC with Broadcast Applications
by J. L. Smith, published by Focal Press and the SBE. For less than a hundred bucks you get the book, a modified NEC-2 which behaves better for broadcast uses and front and back ends which translate the cryptic NEC-2 input and output files into something a tired, overworked engineer can read. I am about halfway though the 300 page book and I am very impressed. If you are at all interested in this you should investigate the book. The SBE is allegedly giving a $10 discount for members but you can get the same price with free shipping at Amazon.
And to prove that my money is where my big mouth is, I'll share whatever models I come up with among the members here and try to help explain any of the head-scratchers. I am still learning the nuances so we can work on this together.http://www.amazon.com/Basic-Broadcast-Applications-J-L-Smith/dp/0240810732/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1227334405&sr=8-1