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Be Nice to the Soda Machine Man

If you want to move big rectangular devices with care, consider people who do it all the time: the folks who transport vending machines.

Professional Engineer Charles S. Fitch, a fellow contributor to Radio World, writes, “Always love your column, as it is one of the most continually helpful contributions to broadcast engineering that we have. Also appreciate your high stress on safety.”

Thanks, Buc, glad we are of help.

He continues: “With consolidation and the incumbent consolidation of studio and transmitters, there are a lot of racks and rigs to move around.”

We’ve all been there, that’s for sure. Usually moving a transmitter involves a big rigging or hauling company. But Buc offers another choice.

If you want to move big rectangular devices with care, consider people who do it all the time: the folks who transport vending machines.

The vending company that has done business with your station for years probably can arrange to send over a couple of stalwarts with the specialized dollies, appliance movers, truck with lift gate and roller skates to get your gear carefully from where it is to where it needs to be. These folks definitely know how to do it and they are flexible.

Buc raises the important issue of liability insurance. Make sure they, and you, are covered.

In a case study, Buc saw one single vending guy move a 2 kW FM transmitter and terminal rack, complete with gear, out of a transmitter building, drive it 10 miles and reposition the two exactly in their new location on a second floor in about an hour. I guess one knows how to do it after moving 1,000 juice machines.

Fitch can be reached at [email protected].

. . .

Jess Meyer, chief at the Clear Channel Minneapolis cluster, writes, “I don’t know what all the groaning is about. I was taught how to put on RCA connectors a long time ago and I haven’t had a problem since.”

I guess that’s the problem, Jess; too many people weren’t taught how to attach RCA connectors properly.

To help those struggling with these plugs, Jess offers first-rate suggestions. He begins by insisting on using a quality RCA connector such as the Switchcraft 3502. This may be part of the problem: cheap connectors.

Jess generally only uses Belden 8451, Gepco 61801 or the equivalent with these connectors. Perhaps this is how he lucks out? Quality wire is just as important.

Now to the process.

(click thumbnail)Fig. 1: With patience, you too can enjoy neatly soldered RCA plugs.
Strip the outer jacket about an inch and a half, removing the foil shield. Strip the black wire of its insulation right down to the jacket that you just stripped off. Twist the drain wire and the now-stripped black wire together. Now strip approximately a half-inch of the red wire’s insulation and tin it.

Making sure the backshell is on, shove the red wire up through the center pin and solder it, making sure the cable’s outer jacket is in the clamp portion of the plug. Trim off excess solder and wire that may be sticking out the barrel end. See Fig. 1.

Going back to the shield and black wire, wrap them around and through the cable clamp, soldering to the middle portion between the bulk of the connector and the clamp, then trim the excess.

Bend the clamp if needed to get the backshell to fit, but it shouldn’t take much adjustment.

Tinning the wires is important. If you heat the connector and the wires to the point solder will flow, you’ll have melted wires. By pre-tinning the wires, the solder flows easier, securing the wires without so much heat as to melt the insulation.

Reach Jess at [email protected].

. . .

Even though Fire Prevention Week is several months away, now is a good time to check smoke alarms at the transmitter and studios, given prevalent summer storms. Even though these devices are the most effective early fire warnings available, they’re useless if not operating.

The National Fire Prevention Association offers tips on maintaining smoke alarms. Test the detector monthly; change the batteries every year or when the device “chirps.” Many people change them twice a year, using the change of clocks as a reminder.

If you’re installing new alarms, remember that smoke rises; mount the alarms on ceilings or high on walls.

Here’s news: Smoke alarms won’t last forever, so replace any that are older than 10 years.

NFPA offers a range of fire safety information on the official Fire Prevention Week Web site,

For 80 years the NFPA has been providing and advocating scientifically-based standards, research, training and education. Its Web site is

. . .

(click thumbnail)Fig. 2: Cloth-coated vertical blinds like those in the rear of this photo help reduce window sound reflections.
Are studio window reflections giving you grief? Stop by a Next Day Blinds store or other outlet and consider woven or wool-covered vertical blinds for your next studio project, as seen in the background of Fig. 2 at Clear Channel Salisbury’s cluster in Maryland.

(click thumbnail)Fig. 3: Jumper cables help you bridge and test lines in a high-density punch block.
Market Chief Chris Kelley says the blinds not only prevent glare and offer some privacy, they also provide sound absorption. Best of all, these vertical blinds are inexpensive and easy to install.

. . .

If you’re using high-density “digital” terminal blocks as shown in Fig. 3, make sure you invest in several plugs that allow you to bridge onto the terminals.

Constructing several pigtail jumpers can help you test or jumper around terminals in a high-density block.

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