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Simple Methods for Securing Signs

Scott Todd of Salem's Twin Cities KKMS(AM) in Eagan, Minn., offers a tip that can save your department some money.

Scott Todd of Salem’s Twin Cities KKMS(AM) in Eagan, Minn., offers a tip that can save your department some money.

(click thumbnail)Fig. 1: A clear plastic sleeve protects florescent bulbs.
When Scott replaces florescent lamps, he writes the installation date on one of the end caps. When he discovers a premature lamp failure, he gets a free replacement from his supplier.

Recently, he had a U-bend bulb fail 30 months into a 36-month warrantee. Now that he’s upgrading to Triten 50 full-spectrum lamps, it’ll be even more critical, as they’re more expensive.

This is just another way to show management that you are saving the station money. It only takes a few seconds to jot the date on the end cap. Thanks, Scott, for another demonstration that engineers aren’t always spending money.

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Speaking of florescent tubes, Paul Shulins, market engineer for Greater Media’s Boston cluster, showed me a neat find to protect those florescent lamp tubes.

Fig. 1 is a clear plastic sleeve that has been slipped over the tube prior to installation. As you can see from the brightness of the photo, the clear plastic tube does not affect lighting, but serves to protect you – and the surroundings – should the tube break.

The sleeve offers some protection against dings, but its main purpose is to contain the broken glass and dust should the bulb break. An inexpensive safety device, these sleeves are available from any electrical supplier.

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When he’s not sending us tips, Scott Todd utilizes the resources of the Radio-Tech listserv of Dave Biondi’s B-Net to get engineering feedback. A recent query is a case in point.

(click thumbnail)Fig. 2: Heavy wire, in addition to securing signs, can be used as coax tie downs on towers.
Scott asked the brain trust what’s the most secure way to fasten a metal sign to a chain link fence? He realizes nothing is foolproof but is searching for something a bit tougher than plastic tie wraps to keep souvenir hunters from walking off with his new RF warning signs.

And the suggestions poured in. Mark Ness said go to the fence department at Lowes and pick up some of their fence ties. These are 1/8-inch diameter aluminum wires, used to secure fencing material to the support posts. You can twist them pretty tight with side cutters. The best thing is that these ties will not rust.

Bobby Gray suggests cutting two pieces of plywood to the exact size of the sign. Paint both pieces. Drill 4 holes through both pieces of wood and the sign at the same time. Mount the sign and one piece of wood to the front of fence, and the second piece to the back of the fence (making a chain-link sandwich) using threaded bolts, nuts and washers. After tightening, mangle the threads below the nut. They’ll have to take the whole fence to get the sign off.

Bobby’s been doing this for years, and his signs are right where they belong.

Dave Fortenberry at KTKZ(AM/FM) has never had a theft problem, but writes that he uses #14 gauge insulated black house wire for his ties. The wire can double as coax tie-downs on towers, too, and there’s no sun-rot problem.

Fig. 2 shows insulated black house wire doubling as coax tie-down on towers. However, watch how you support coaxial line with this wire. Fig. 3 shows how strong coax tie-down wire can be, to the point that the transmission line has made a nasty bend!

Mike McCarthy uses #11 or #9 gauge tie wire, which is as tough as the fence mesh itself. Mike adds: Good luck twisting; this is heavy-duty wire! The tie wire is available at hardware or farm supply houses.

If you use the tie wire, mount the sign behind the chain link fence. It makes retrieving the sign a bit more difficult for the souvenir hunter, should they clip the fastening wire.

And then there was a comment from Steve Shaffer of Minds Eye Information Service in Belleville, Ill. Steve writes that when he was stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, they had no theft issues; their towers were in a mine field!

Probably something every one of us has dreamed about when we encounter vandalism at our sites.

For more information on Radio-Tech and Broadcast Net, go to

(click thumbnail)Fig. 3: Use caution when flexing coaxial cable.
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This is the time of year for outdoor measurements; however, not every station has the budget to own test instrumentation.

Whether it’s impedance, field intensity or NRSC compliance measurements you have planned, Mike Phelps at SCMS sends a reminder that the company has an assortment of this test equipment for weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly rental. Here’s a link to their rental gear:

I’ll add my own 2 cents here: Use caution when renting test equipment. Not all rental companies are as ethical as SCMS. Some will keep your deposit for months after the equipment is returned, or rent broken or out-of-calibration equipment, and try to charge you for the repairs when it’s returned! This is not the case with SCMS, but do rent from an established and reputable company.