Doing It Right!

Longtime friend John Francioni with Capitol Broadcasting in Raleigh, N.C., loves all the "how it's done wrong" pictures that have appeared in this column over the years. But, he says, how about some photos where the engineer has done it right?
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(click thumbnail)Fig. 1: 'Mr. FCC Inspector, my manager wanted me to investigate how we could increase revenues by starting a Christmas tree farm.'Longtime friend John Francioni with Capitol Broadcasting in Raleigh, N.C., loves all the "how it's done wrong" pictures that have appeared in this column over the years. But, he says, how about some photos where the engineer has done it right?

John's thinking is that for the entry-level engineer, or someone new to our profession, the pictures would be a useful reference. Good point, John.

(click thumbnail)Fig. 1: 'Mr. FCC Inspector, my manager wanted me to investigate how we could increase revenues by starting a Christmas tree farm.'
But before I do, I'm sorry, I just can't resist: Fig. 1 shows how RF radiation (RFR) caused explosive growth in a pine tree that just "sprung up" overnight, next to the guy anchor for this AM tower.

And how about this for a way to keep your transmitter room air clean? Stick a console in there to attract dust. Most engineers will recognize the Auditronics console in Fig. 2 - although perhaps not its dust layer.

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O.K., John, that's out of my system. Now for "how it's done right."

Fig. 3 shows a new transmitter building for WWZZ(FM), a Bonneville facility in Washington, D.C. They used a VFP pre-fab concrete building (, but instead of a concrete step or stoop in front of the door, they added this nice ramp.

(click thumbnail)Fig. 3: WWZZ(FM) used a VFP prefab concrete building and added this ramp to make access easier.
Not that transmitters are moved in and out on a regular basis, but the ramp makes life easier if the staff must bring in tubes, a big tool case or a filament regulator on a hand truck.

Inside, Fig. 4 shows the transmitter filament regulator professionally mounted on the wall, with a nice, neat run of conduit linking it to the transmitter. Note also the 4-inch copper ground strap that runs along the perimeter. Take time, and budget for the work to be done properly. It will be money well-spent.

Got a photo of your studio or transmitter site where you've "done it right"? Share it with Workbench readers by e-mailing it to using image resolution of at least 300 dots per inch.

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(click thumbnail)Fig. 4Make life easier for your air staff. It usually will pay off in spades. They'll see you as being on "their" side, and a lot of nuisance calls are eliminated.

RW Technical Adviser Alan Peterson sent the following tip. It doesn't cost a lot, but will make your staff smile.

It's been his observation that jocks finally are warming up to using PC AT-style keyboards in the studio to perform the necessary tasks to get audio on the air. Still, some would rather enjoy a dedicated button-box for simple "press-and-play" operation, like we used to have for turntable, cart and reel remote starts.

One application screaming for such a button box is the now-classic SAW line of workstation software, with its arcane collection of tough-to-remember shorthand keystrokes.

The problem is how to interface such a button box with the keyboard. The cheapest solution is to gut a $9 keyboard and parallel some switches across the desired key contacts. But membrane-style keyboards will not allow you to do that.

A better solution is a PC keyboard encoder, a circuit card that converts contact closures from a you-build-it control box to the PC keyboard codes your machine needs to see. One such company that builds this device is Vetra Systems Corp. of Hauppage, N.Y.

Its VIP line of keyboard converters begins at $35. The company Web site includes output tables showing what codes are sent to the PC when particular closures are made. The company also has a line of KVM (keyboard/video/mouse) switchers and extenders for controlling multiple PCs remotely from one location.

You can reach the company at (800) 537-9296 or online at

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One of the designers of the Scientific Atlanta DSR-3610 and AD4595 satellite receivers was shocked when he found out how useless this equipment is in today's typical radio station.

He suggested that Dave Biondi's readers find alternate uses, to save the equipment from the dumpster.

With warmer weather coming, one of the more humorous suggestions was to flip down the front hinged panel of the old Comtech Dart receiver, remove all the modules and line the interior with Styrofoam. This adapted the carcass to an in-the-rack cooler!

Bill Frahm of the Citadel stations in Boise, Idaho, is using his AD4595 as an LNB power supply. An advantage is the front-panel indication that tells you if the LNB is pulling too little or too much current. As for the other fault lights, Bill just covered them with gray tape so the staff wouldn't be confused.

Greg Manfroi of Western Illinios University's public stations saved the socketed chips from the 7300 receiver modules. Greg found the older digital cards had nice audio transformers that he saved as well. Ditto for the power supplies.

All Greg saved from the Encore receivers were the socketed relays. Greg didn't want to toss the receivers, but then he didn't want to toss out perfectly good cart machines a few years ago, either. We've all been there!

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If you've already got the LNB power supply covered, Ed Bukont of Commstruction Services here in Washington suggests you rack up your old satellite receivers, such as the S/A, Fairchild and IDC models, tie them all to ground, plug them in, and use them as a really nifty active lightning arrestor.

They worked great for that purpose at every station where Ed had the pleasure of replacing them.

John Bisset has worked as a chief engineer and contract engineer for more than 30 years. He is a district sales manager for Harris Corp. Reach him at (703) 323-8011.


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Starting the New Year Off Right

I've been fortunate during the past year to receive and share a number of pictures of problem sites with readers of this column. To be fair, these sites are in the minority. So to give balance, I'd like to focus this column on things that were done right.

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Lightning Strikes; So Do Thieves

John Stortz of the Moody stations in Florida protects his VRC-2000 remote control from the southern lightning by using an Optilator from Stormin' Products, available through most broadcast equipment vendors.

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What to Do When You Inherit a Dump

Some good news to report. The station that allowed tower tenants to share their transmitter building, and installed a "haywire" rat’s nest of wiring in connecting their equipment, was "shamed" into cleaning up the mess, after seeing the picture in Radio World!

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Tips on Punching the Right-Sized Hole

RW contributor Buc Fitch had an e-mail discussion with an engineer who wanted to make holes in some electrical project boxes. Despite searching the Web and various hardware and supply stores like Lowes, TrueValue and Tractor Supply, he came up empty-handed.

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It's a Bird, It's a Plane ...

Pulling cable? Make sure you place two labels on the cable runs, as shown by Brian Edwards, technical director for New World Radio in Fig. 1. If one label gets ripped off or damaged, identification is still easy.