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Emergency-Proofing the Tx Site

Do you work for a station ownership that understands the importance of keeping a transmitter site stocked with the necessities to enable you to do your job?

Do you work for a station ownership that understands the importance of keeping a transmitter site stocked with the necessities to enable you to do your job?

If so, you understand how much more efficient you can be. If your ownership doesn’t understand the importance of a well-stocked transmitter site, here’s your opportunity to educate them.

Although an extensive spares stock would be nice, it’s not always practical, given the economics of today’s station engineering department. There are some little items, however, that won’t break the bank, yet can save the day when problems strike.

Mike Patton of Michael Patton and Associates developed a list to help organize your transmitter site, a portion of which we shared in the last column. The list continues with spare “stuff,” and at the top of the list are fuses.

. . .

Spend a day at the transmitter site documenting every type of fuse needed. Expand beyond the little half-amp fuses used in the rack equipment, and include the large fuses used in both transmitter and air conditioning disconnects.

A thorough inspection of your fuse requirements probably will surprise you — there are a lot of fuses! Keep a written list to help you consolidate fuse types from sites and permit you to buy the “hard-to-find” types before you need them at 2 a.m.

Other inexpensive spares include replacement light bulbs. Don’t forget overhead and outside lighting requirements, as well as a few spare bulbs for the drop light.

Add to the list replacement bulbs for transmitter or control panels. Overload indicators are of no use in troubleshooting a problem if they are burned out.

Spare batteries are another low-cost item and are found in some newer transmitters. Include spare batteries for flashlights and that emergency DVM.

Next time you visit Radio Shack, pick up one of the 1/4- or 1/2-watt resistor assortments. Digi-key is an inexpensive source of these kits. A hardware assortment kit is useful, as are a few pieces of heat-shrink tubing and a roll of electrical tape. Stock a few bypass capacitors and chokes, too.

(click thumbnail)Now that’s one organized engineer.
If you maintain pressurized transmission lines, a spare bottle of nitrogen will come in handy. Make sure the metal cap is screwed in place, and the tank is secured to the wall.

A set of shelves to store things is a nice addition, as are at least one of those plastic drawer sets, for holding the small parts, as seen in Fig. 1, and organized by Dennis Sloatman in Orlando.

Next time the sales desks are replaced, grab one for the transmitter site. At the very least, a folding card table can serve as a workbench. Don’t forget the padded folding chairs — at least two.

The same holds true for the file cabinets. Having a sealed filing cabinet will prevent rodents from shredding your manuals and telephone books for nesting material. A large trashcan with a snap-on lid and a supply of heavy-duty trash bags round out the list.

. . .

Next, we move on to documentation, starting with service manuals.

In this age of downloadable equipment manuals, there is no excuse for not having a manual for every piece of equipment.

In the case of STLs or remote control systems, it’s invaluable to keep two sets, one at the studio and one at the transmitter site.

(click thumbnail)Unwieldy transmitter manuals can be kept neatly out of the way using binding clips and wall hooks.
A fine-tipped marker, a box of file folders and an afternoon at the transmitter site can yield an organized file drawer of manuals. The file folders do a good job of holding smaller manuals. Alphabetize the list of folders and it’s like icing on the cake.

Transmitter schematics are another story; they’re not so compact. Jon Bennett of the Cox cluster in Richmond, Va., uses binding clips to store his schematics on the wall of his transmitter building, as seen in Fig. 2.

Because he was constructing a new transmitter building, Mike Gilbert of the Multicultural stations in Blane, Wash., had his larger schematics laminated on foam-board, and mounted on the transmitter building walls. If wall space is at a premium, use Mike Patton’s suggested fold-up card table as a place to lay out schematics. You will have a convenient way to trace circuits.

If this is your first time organizing the manuals, you may encounter a lot of old manuals or documentation. Resist the temptation to throw these out.

If you’re short on space, use a cardboard banker’s box or empty copy paper box to store this paperwork. Necessary documentation often is trashed inadvertently by well-meaning engineers trying to “clean up the place.” This includes wiring documentation, customized control circuits, even phasor schematics.

A good rule of thumb is, “if in doubt, store it, don’t trash it.”

I realize some engineers may take umbrage at the pack-rat mentality described here. But spending 30 minutes searching through a box of old paperwork is cheaper than having to trace wires or circuits and “creating” a replacement schematic.

Besides, such schematics usually are required when an emergency has occurred, just adding further unneeded pressure.

In addition to wiring documentation, Mike expanded his list to include all AM directional antenna paperwork, phasor/ATU diagrams and a notebook on phasor adjustment.

It’s not a bad idea to keep a copy of the AM paperwork away from the site, in case of fire. In fact, about a year ago, an AM DA burned to the ground. All of the directional paperwork was destroyed.

Although situations like this are not hopeless, they require finding the original consultant, who may be retired, and hoping he has copies of the documentation in his files.

The point of Mike’s documentation requirements is that you think of all of this before you need it in an emergency. A small amount of planning now can save your hide later.

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