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Mic Arms, Antenna Brackets and Other Workbench Tips

The latest batch of great engineering and problem-solving ideas from Radio World readers

Fig. 1:Painted arm risers identify talk-studio microphones. Robin Cross of KCUR(FM) in Kansas City, Mo., has a novel way of identifying microphones in his interview studio: Paint the mic arm riser different colors.

As shown in Fig. 1, the colored risers make it easy for a board operator to spot which mic is which.

Bright, bold colors like red, yellow or green work best and are more easily identifiable than colored windscreens or colored cable. Best of all, using spray paint, you can choose from a wide selection of colors. Add a swatch under the corresponding fader on the board, and the issue of pushing up the wrong fader is solved.


Greg Manfroi, chief at WUIS(FM)/University of Illinois at Springfield, needed to mount an omnidirectional FM receive antenna on his STL tower. Instead of buying another side-mount bracket, Greg built his own.

He started by purchasing the following: two 10-foot lengths of PVC pipes 1-1/2-inch diameter; one length of PVC pipe 1 inch in diameter; four U-bolts; and eight lock washers and nuts.

He cut the 10-foot PVC pipes down to six feet. These would attach to the tower. He measured the tower legs at the point where the antenna would be mounted; then he marked the support pieces and drilled holes for U-bolts to attach them to the steel.

He cut the narrower PVC pipe to 34 inches long. This cross-member would be his mast. To secure it to its supports, Greg made notches for the U-bolts to slip into, marking and drilling holes where the end of the notches would go. Then Greg wrapped painter’s tape around the pipe on each end of the drilled holes. Using the tape as a guide, Greg cut the notches with a hacksaw and assembled the bracket.

Fig. 2:Assemble the antenna bracket. The bracket is sturdy enough for mounting a lightweight antenna. The PVC pipes cost $12, the U-bolts $6 and the lock-washers only 80 cents. Total cost: $18.80.

Greg notes that he used electrical PVC pipe because it is sunlight-resistant. Its grey color blends in with the tower.


My co-workers in the Elenos Miami service department, Edgar Higueros and Jose Toscano, have another use for Styrofoam drink cups: Use them to hold equipment hardware.

Small pieces of hardware such as nuts, bolts and screws can get lost if you don’t keep them in one place. Pictured in Fig. 5, the cup works well because it is deep. Shaking out the hardware into your hand is easier than searching for it on a workbench top.

I’ve also seen engineers press muffin tins into service as hardware organizers. The advantage here is that you have six or 12 compartments in which to store hardware.

This can be useful when disassembling equipment with a lot of hardware, or with varying sizes. Each step of disassembly can have its own muffin tin compartment. Thanks to Edgar and Toscano for a simple but useful tip.


Fig. 3:Mount the bracket on the tower. Engineer Marc Mann writes from San Diego that he has started using the P-Touch Labeling System and marked everything in sight — especially wire leads, connectors and wall warts as suggested previously in Workbench.

Unfortunately, he says the labels started peeling off within six months or even sooner, depending on the temperature of the area and the nature of the surface.

Researching further, Marc discovered that he was not using Brother’s commercial-quality label stock.Brother (and others) makes “pro” label stock, available for various types of surfaces. For example, Marc ended up relabeling with its product called Flexible ID, which is made for wrapping or flagging wire and uses extra-strength adhesive.

Before embarking on such a project, Marc suggests you research the industrial-grade label stock available for a chosen label machine to avoid premature label failure.

Mark provided a link to Brother’s label application chart, which we’ve posted at You’ll also find a link to Brother’s industrial product line, detailing its field service labels.

Fig. 4:The completed bracket and antenna. Fig. 5: Treat yourself to a cup of nuts (and bolts). Use a Styrofoam cup to hold parts during disassembly.
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John Bisset has spent 43 years in the broadcasting industry, and is still learning. He is SBE certified and is a past recipient of the SBE’s Educator of the Year Award. He works for transmitter company Elenos USA.