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Bargains You’ll Find on the Web

Just as the Web offers reference data for engineers, it has also provided links to some great products.

Thank you readers for telling Radio World how useful our online archived Workbench articles have been to you.

If you want a quick reference from a previous column, check what our editor has archived here. We’ve had several DOEs supplement their monthly newsletters to their chiefs with tips they’ve found here. RW is glad to provide this resource.

Thanks again for your positive comments.
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Just as the Web offers reference data for engineers, it has also provided links to some great products.

Southern Broadcasting Engineering Manager Randy Kerbawy sent in such a link to share. It’s a desoldering tool manufactured by Tenma ( and sold by MCM Electronics ( ).

(click thumbnail)Fig. 1: A reader found this handy desoldering tool for under $15.
The tool is MCM part 21-8240. The best part is that it costs just $14.95.

Randy has used this solder sucker for some time and says it works well. It also does a decent job on double-sided boards.

The only drawback he’s found is that the plunger tends to get fairly warm after the tool has been on for a while. But despite the heat, it just keeps on working.

Years ago, I convinced a GM to let me buy a $375 desoldering tool, the cheapest I could find at the time. We were modifying a bunch of PC boards; given the work at hand, the expense was justified. But at the price of the Tenma model, it’s worth having these desoldering tools both in the shop and the toolbox. Thanks, Randy, for sharing this budget-conscious timesaver.

If you’re still using solder wick or a manual plunger-type desoldering tool, it’s time to upgrade. You’ll be amazed at the improvement in your efficiency.

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Randy also found an interesting item at the local electrical supply shop in Beckley, W.Va. Take a look at the web site for Elk Products, You’ll find several items of interest to the broadcast engineer; one that will really catch your attention is a six-pack of relays, part number 912B-6.

The circuit board holds six 12 or 24 volt relays, complete with LED indicators. The relays have Form C contacts, rated at 10 amps. Randy suggests this board will make a good relay interface between a remote control and a transmitter, when interfacing to older rigs.

Elk Products also supplies phone-line surge protectors, power supplies, sirens, and phone-line monitors that could find their way into a radio station.

Randy Kerbawy can be reached at [email protected].

. . .

At the BGS Expo in Dayton, held a couple of days before the Dayton Hamfest, I had the opportunity to talk to 80 engineers about transmitter site maintenance issues.

A points brought up by one of the attendees was the use of digital cameras in the world of transmitter sites.

(click thumbnail)Fig. 3: A gift idea for that co-worker who eats nails for breakfast.
Tim Guentz, a regional engineer with NRG Media, expanded on this. He uses his digital camera to take a look at things in places his head won’t go, like up the tube chimney of an Continental 816R transmitter (to look at the doorknob cap and HV cable that live up there).

Another advantage to the digital camera is that if he can’t aim the camera, Tim just snaps pictures until he gets the one with a good image. It sure beats taking a tube cavity apart.

(click thumbnail)Fig. 2: Ken Sleeman uses a digital camera to help get inside the transmitter.
Another use is in taking pictures to send to the transmitter field service department. Fig. 2 shows a shot used by Ken Sleeman, transmitter site supervisor for Bonneville in Washington. The photos also help paint a picture for management as to what went wrong. Thanks to Tim Guentz, who is at [email protected], and Ken Sleeman, at [email protected].

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We’ll wrap up this issue with a photo of a great gift for that special person in your life.

We’ve all worked with them. You know; the one who’s never satisfied with the audio, or who doesn’t understand that tubes do eventually need to be replaced, or the deadbeat contract client who won’t pay his bill. No Web address where you can order this – yet. Stay tuned.

Submissions for this column are encouraged, and qualify for SBE recertification credit.