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Just Flip These Bad Boys Down

Inexpensive hardware helps engineer get at his terminal blocks easily

Faced with wiring up a remote control panel, Arkansas engineer Rolin Lintag figured there had to be a better way than mounting the terminal blocks inside the rack, where access would require a flashlight and patience to check or change wires.

Rolin headed to Wal-Mart. For less than $6 he picked up a few packs of metal “L” and angle brackets, shown in Fig. 1, and set to work.

His idea was to mount the blocks to blank rack panels, then hinge the panels so they would drop down from the front of the rack. No longer would he have to go through the rear of the rack to get to his terminal blocks.

Fig. 1: All you need to hinge rack panels is some inexpensive hardware.

Fig 2: The combination of bolts, nuts and ‘L’ and angle brackets will be used to secure the rack panels.

Certainly there are fancy panels you can buy to accomplish this, but not for $6.

Fig. 2 shows the method of interconnecting the angled steel to the rack. Fig. 3 shows the panels connected to the makeshift hinges and in the “open” position, so Rolin can gain access to the terminal blocks.

Fig 3: The terminal boards are mounted and the rack panels dropped open.

The fourth image shows the panels closed, in a neat-looking rack.

Rolin writes that he bought the inexpensive parts himself because he wanted to get the job done right. We’ve all been there and done that.

Fig. 4: Rack panels in closed position keep terminal wiring hidden.

Rolin recently was promoted to chief engineer for the Victory Television Network, a UHF TV network in Arkansas consisting of KVTN, KVTJ and KVTH. Congrats, Rolin, and thanks for sharing your ingenuity with readers of Workbench.

* * *

Rich Sweetman is principal in Rich Sweetman Contract Engineering Services in Iowa. Several years ago, the chief engineer of a Des Moines radio station group asked Rich if he could help re-install a counterpoise ground system under the main tower, to replace one that had been stolen the night before.

Rich learned that this was an ongoing problem at this AM site. Both engineers had talked to local law enforcement and requested additional patrols, which the police agreed to do. But a few weeks later the problem recurred, resulting in more stolen copper.

As the engineers were replacing the copper, a local farmer showed up, asking what was going on. The chief engineer told him about the thefts, and added, untruthfully, that the new wire was copper-coated steel. In reality it was solid copper conductor.

To their amazement, the thefts stopped.

Rich’s assessment: Sometimes a little misinformation can solve a tedious, time-consuming problem. Rich cannot call the farmer a thief; but the sequence of events does makes you wonder.

At least the bad guys did not try to steal the 4-inch hardline feeding the six DA towers. These lines are about 1,500 feet length in total.

During this period, the on-air talent was required to take meter readings of the antenna system every 30 minutes and to call local law enforcement if there were any major deviations from previous readings — all in an effort to catch the thief or thieves.

* * *

David Chenault is general manager for The Heartbeat of East Texas, KPXI(FM) and KWRD(AM/FM).

He writes to relate that when one of his networks recently switched satellite frequencies, his stations began experiencing intermittent dropouts and glitches on the received audio. David noticed significantly reduced Eb/N0 numbers, and even had problems acquiring a lock on some of his receivers.

He sent off an email and got a reply saying some stations had reported similar problems. The network guys asked him to look at filters or anything that would affect the new settings. However, every receiver on the dish was having the same issue, an important clue.

After an hour of head-scratching, David had a hunch. He took a jug of water out to the dish, climbed on a chair and dowsed the LNB. When he came back in, the Eb/N0 numbers had doubled!

The heat of the sun had been cooking the diode in the LNB on the dish, degrading its performance. The water cooled the LNB off, restoring normal operation. The recent change in frequencies apparently had been coincidental.

So now he’s got a sprinkler out and is regularly “watering” the dish.

Hope David’s tip can help someone else. We always knew it was hot in Texas!

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John Bisset has spent 43 years in the broadcasting industry, and is still learning. He works for Tieline Technology, is SBE certified and is a past recipient of the SBE’s Educator of the Year Award.