Contract Engineer Ihor Slabicky has
been gathering supplies for his “outpost,” better known as the remote
transmitter site. He sends a few items to add to your own list, which we
discussed a while back.
First is toilet paper, preferably in a
Ziploc brand or similar sealable bag to keep the paper dry.
I’ve seen engineers go further and create
a portable potty by heading to Lowes and picking up a plastic contractor bucket.
Add a cheap toilet seat, a few rolls of TP and a box of kitchen-sized garbage
bags. If you’re stuck at your site for a while, you may be grateful for this
rudimentary solution. (Feel free to add a can of air sanitizer.) Fig. 2 shows a
bucket with screw-on lid.
Fig. 1: Sealable bags are
great not only for holding parts but for keeping things dry.
Fig. 2: A plastic bucket
with lid can help store your survival items; or use one to create a rudimentary
In his survival kit, Ihor also includes
matches, a disposable butane lighter and candles.
Here’s an item you probably forgot: a
two- to three-day supply of your prescription drugs. Don’t want to use
prescription bottles? Place them in a plastic film container (if you can find
Be sure periodically to use up these
medications and refresh your supply, since they do lose potency over time. Don’t
get stuck with medicines that are years old.
Fig. 3: Keep a few days
of your prescription drugs on hand, just in case.
As a non-smoker I wouldn’t have thought
of this, but Ihor reminds smokers to add some extra smokes. The alternative is
quitting cold turkey.
A couple of items that don’t require
batteries are a wind-up flashlight and a wind-up radio. Both are useful.
When we compiled our list last
year, bottled water topped it, even if you have water service at the site.
Pumps require electricity, and if electrical service and your generator quit,
you still need water to survive. Ihor suggests scouring the supermarket for a
great buy on its own brand. Water in bulk is cheap.
Just as you keep your supply of
prescription meds fresh, Ihor suggests doing the same for water and food. You
don’t want to get stuck with really old food. (Maybe make this part of your
scheduled battery replacement regime.)
Ihor once explored the contents of a
civil defense bomb shelter and discovered some canned crackers. His first
thought was, “I’d rather be bombed than have to eat those!”
Some instant coffee in a small
jar, some tea bags, sugar packets and creamer, all sealed in a Tupperware-type
container, round out your consumables.
Mylar “space” blankets are cheap, as
we’ve mentioned before (and if you run marathons, they are sometimes given out
there). Pick up a couple.
Speaking of blankets, keep at least one
old one in the trunk of your car.
Gather your site supplies and place them
in a large clear plastic storage bin.
Other ideas? Email them to me at email@example.com.
* * *
With regard to our recent tips about
cleaning corroded battery terminals, Ihor is a firm believer in petroleum
He has found that a light coating on
electrical contacts diminishes or even eliminates corrosion. It also increases
For example, he coated the bases of
light bulbs used in outdoor fixtures. This extended service life to a more
reasonable 9+ months, probably closer to the life expectancy of the bulbs.
Ihor coats the contacts by placing some
petroleum jelly on a swab, swiping it all over the base and then using a napkin
to wipe it around. Then he wipes off the excess. For batteries, Ihor puts a
light film of petroleum jelly on both battery terminal ends rather than on the
springy metallic contacts.
Also in the Dec. 1 issue we discussed
using vinegar for cleaning terminals. Ihor has tried ketchup. This sounds
funny; but ketchup contains quite a bit of vinegar, and its thick consistency
means it will stick to corroded contacts. Its consistency also eliminates a
splash area, required for applying vinegar. When the contacts are cleaned, wipe
off the ketchup and wash well with distilled water.
Fig. 4: Heed the warning.
* * *
Contract Engineer Bill Betlej, who also
works for Mary Baldwin College, recalls a label that the Bogen Amplifier Co. affixed
to its amplifiers (Fig. 4).
The warning “do not assume anything” probably
is just as applicable today as when it appeared 30 years ago on the amplifier
Bill was now repairing.
Even old-salt engineers would do well
to abide by this warning. With that in mind, make a resolution not to work on
high-voltage/high-current transmitter equipment alone. Bring the PD, if you
“I will not work when I am tired.” “I
will stay away from tower sites during ice storms (falling ice) or lightning
storms (electric shock).” Simple resolutions like this, if kept, help ensure that
you’ll be around to read this column next year.
Contribute to Workbench. You’ll help your fellow engineers, and qualify
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Author John Bisset has spent 43 years in the broadcasting industry, and
is still learning. He is SBE certified and is a past recipient of the SBE’s
Educator of the Year Award.