New Hampshire Public Radio’s Steven Donnell replied to our recent site inspection column by suggesting that before you go inside the transmitter building, you should inspect your towers.
As soon as the snow is gone, one of the first things that Steven does is “take a walk.” He goes out to the guy wire anchor points and makes an inspection. Check for loose ground jumper connections, and visually inspect the condition of the anchors and ground rods. Steven tries to do this in the short period after the snow melts and before the ticks arrive.
If you have an old lawnmower, you can reduce the tick issue by mowing a path through the brush to the anchor points. Be sure to check any other station grounds around the building.
The list of less glamorous tasks that Steven performs each spring includes clearing drainage culverts and checking for dead trees/limbs that could damage phone or electrical lines.
Spring is also a good time to replace air conditioning filters, so that things inside stay cool. If you’re not using pleated air filters (Fig. 1), pay the extra money and watch how clean they keep your site!
Inside, Steven suggests you check the electrical panels. As we described last issue, put multiple senses to work. Feel the outside of the panel cover and the breakers themselves for any unusually warm breakers. Just like the rigid transmission line, warm is usually OK, hot is not.
Steven also suggests a quick visual scan. Not only may the visual inspection identify a breaker that may have tripped on seldom used equipment, but a tripped breaker may not always be evident.
Breakers that feed GFI (ground fault) outlets are a good example, seen in Fig. 2. Steven noticed that one of the HVAC units at a remote side was off. But since it was early spring in northern New Hampshire, the second HVAC unit kept the equipment room cool.
Steven found the circuit breaker for one of the HVACs had tripped. After resetting it and checking the HVAC unit, he determined the breaker itself was bad. Steven de-energized the entire panel, and though the transmitter was off for about 20 minutes, he replaced the breaker safely. After re-energizing the panel, the transmitter came back up, as did the HVAC unit. There were no further issues.
At several recent SBE programs sponsored by my employer Telos, we’ve discussed electrical boxes. At least once a year, it’s good insurance to bring in an electrician to tighten all wiring connections in your disconnects. Loose wires generate heat and eventually will burn and fail. The yearly electrical maintenance will more than pay for itself, should you have a burnout.
As you make a list of tasks for your transmitter sites, don’t forget to include copies of FCC licenses. Yes, even though Chairman Pai is proposing the elimination of the rule requiring the display of broadcast licenses, it’s not a bad idea to have copies of this information at the transmitter site — just make sure the information is correct.
Also laminate a page that shows typical operating parameters. Not only is this useful for you, but it can help your fill-in when you are on vacation.
You are taking a vacation now and then, right?
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Author John Bisset has spent 48 years in the broadcasting industry and is still learning. He handles western U.S. radio sales for the Telos Alliance. He is SBE certified and is a past recipient of the SBE’s Educator of the Year Award.