(click thumbnail)Fig. 2: What's wrong in this picture? Let's have a "can you spot what's wrong" photo. See Fig. 2.
See what you can find wrong. Look closely. You'll find answers at the end of this article.
Has it been a while since you've been to the transmitter site? That out-of-sight, out-of-mind attitude is easy to fall into, especially with the reliability of transmission systems.
Fig. 1 demonstrates a good reason to drop by and walk completely around your site. Severe winter can create major problems out of minor issues.
(click thumbnail)Fig. 1: Don't let severe weather of the past winter lead to major site problems. Do a thorough inspection.
In addition to permitting water to enter the building, these rotted boards present an invitation to vermin and vandals.
Don't fix the site yourself. Yes, I know you can do it. The question is whether such a repair is a prudent use of your time. At today's engineering salaries, turning the job over to a handy man actually saves the station money - at least it should.
. . .
The mark of a good broadcast engineer is his or her commitment to education. This industry is changing so quickly that continuing education is a must.
For quite some time, it was primarily only the transmitter manufacturers, the SBE and NAB who sponsored the bulk of continuing education and training courses for broadcast engineers.
Bird Technologies Group has announced a business unit titled Global Educational Services, in Solon, Ohio. GES will develop and deliver educational services across a variety of vehicles including classroom training, interactive CD-ROM and online.
The first series of classes made its debut at the end of February and centered around the Bird Site Analyzer and related products, which are used to diagnose problems with RF cables/transmission lines and antenna systems. But the training will not be limited to Bird Electronic and TXRX Products. The company says a spectrum of courses will be offered, including market-specific applications, certifications, radio frequency theory/fundamentals and complimentary technologies.
For more information on the Bird courses, contact Peggy Volker at (440) 519-2050 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
. . .
For as long as I can remember, the name "Enco" has been associated with a hard-drive automation system and related products.
There's another Enco, however. Enco Manufacturing, founded in 1940, is a supplier of machinery, machine tools and shop supplies.
If you head to the Internet and enter www.use-enco.com , you'll find 40,000 items in a catalog offering what's perhaps the largest selection of metalworking machinery, tools and shop supplies.
The latest catalog is impressive, but the most noticeable change is on the Web. Visitors to the site can find, view and compare products with real-time pricing and availability. Customers can create accounts online, check order status and track shipments.
Of particular interest to broadcast engineers is Enco's "lowest price" guarantee, a claimed 99-percent-in-stock inventory and a quick-ship program that ensures orders placed by 4 p.m. ship the same day.
. . .
(click thumbnail)Fig. 3: Keep a container of waterless wipes at your site.While on the subject of shop supplies, take a look at Fig. 3. Klein, the rugged pliers and electrician's tool company, makes this container of Klein Kleaners, great for transmitter sites that have no water supply.
Chris Kelley, market chief at Clear Channel's Salisbury, Md., cluster of stations, shares this tip. Chris points out that the wipes are impregnated with a cleaning compound that does a great job of getting grease and grime off your hands (and tools). No rinsing is required, and the wipes leave your hands clean of any residue.
Most electrical supply stores sell Klein Kleaners. The resealable container ensures the wipes won't dry out. Pick up a pail for each transmitter site.
. . .
Have you studied Fig. 2? See how many of these you got right.
Foremost is the crack in the line's outer jacket. Water ingress into the line is never good. A rubber or silicon sealant should be used to "repair" the jacket.
If you mentioned tower paint, give yourself another point. Blistering and peeling paint will earn you a citation. And you can be certain that if the paint is going bad on the ground, it's not much better a couple hundred feet up. Make sure your tower inspections include a rigger with a paint chart.
Did your eagle eye spot the white tie wrap? The sun's ultraviolet rays deteriorate the white ties over time. A better choice for outside use would be black ties, which are more resistant to the ultraviolet rays. A bit more expensive, but the best long-term solution, is stainless steel wrap lock.
Among the things that are right: The coaxial cable is mounted with the appropriate tower hanger kits; and you can see an ice bridge, inexpensive insurance to protect lines from falling ice.
The ground kits aren't in view, but each line was grounded properly as it comes off the tower.
So how does your tower site measure up? A cursory inspection doesn't take long, may save you a fine and could avert a castastrophe. Grab a bag lunch and plan to spend an hour at the site this week.