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Workbench: Park It Right Here, Baby!

Rubber bumpers outlast concrete for your station parking lot

Given that engineers are responsible for pretty much everything around the broadcast facility, I share this idea from Pastor Carl Wiggins, general manager of WKCL(FM) in Charleston, S.C. 

We’ve all seen concrete parking bumpers that have cracked and fallen apart over time or because a heavy vehicle crushed them. 

After having the station’s parking lot resurfaced and painted, Pastor Carl searched for rubber parking bumpers on Google. These run between $30 and $50. Thanks for their rubber construction, they won’t fall apart or disintegrate if a wheel hits it.  

As shown in the photos, you can drive a spike through the pre-drilled holes to secure the bumper.

These are available from specialized suppliers like Uline, Traffic Safety Store and My Parking Sign, as well as from Walmart and Amazon.

Click on photo to toggle through gallery. 

Mr. Gadget says …

Steve Kruschen is known as “The One and Only Mr. Gadget.” His website offers a lot of interesting subject matter. 

Responding to Rolf Taylor’s earlier comments about lubricants, Steve tells us he was a fan of the most well-known lubricant until he came across a can of Boeshield T-9, sold by PMS Products of Holland, Mich. 

Reading the label, Steve discovered the product had been developed by Boeing, the respected and trusted aircraft manufacturer, so he thought it might be pretty good. When he asked his colleague about it, the technician enthusiastically went on and on about how the product is the best stuff to come along, a long-lasting and waterproof lubricant.  

The product is produced under license from Boeing, which developed T-9 for long-term protection of aircraft. Its research proved that Teflon, silicone and synthetic sprays didn’t hold up well when exposed to a corrosive environment.

Mr. Gadget recommends Boeshield T-9.

Boeing designed T-9 to penetrate deeply into fasteners and fixtures, displace moisture and attack existing corrosion. The compound dries to a waxy film that will lubricate and protect metals for months. It is safe to use on paints, plastics and vinyls.  

Steve uses T-9 in all sorts of contexts: on door locks and hinges around the house, on bicycle chains and shifters, on garage door hinges and the chain of the electric opener, on the wheels of suitcases and wheeled carts, on ladder hinges, on electric switches, and on tools including saws and drill bits.

He has even applied it to the rubber along which power windows travel; this saves wear and tear on the motor. 

T-9 also protects against rust; spray it on and the item is protected for months. He says other popular sprays and lubes, including the big one that we all know by name, leave an oily film that attracts dirt and debris.  

Steve recommends that every engineer keep a can of the aerosol spray of T-9 on hand (and if there is a bicycle around, also a 4-oz. drip bottle). Used sparingly, a can or bottle may last for a couple of years. 

The product sells for under $15. Look for it at retailers like REI, Bass Pro Shops, General RV Center, West Marine, Woodcraft and Performance Bicycle, or on Amazon. 

You can also learn more about T-9 online or call PMS Products in the U.S. at (800) 962-1732. Let them know Mr. Gadget sent you. Steve receives no compensation for this recommendation. We appreciate his sharing this unique lubricant with Workbench readers.

[Read Another Workbench by John Bisset]

Wireless IP 

Special projects engineer Dan Slentz dropped a line to encourage readers to consider wireless IP as a cost-effective solution for studio/transmitter links.

Dan started using Trango for wireless streaming for live news using Slingbox more than 15 year ago. He also likes Ubiquiti Networks gear, which he finds to be well-built and cost-effective. 

My Telos colleague Kirk Harnack posted a video in 2016 describing this type of installation; search YouTube for “Livewire+ and Ubiquiti airFiber5 Studio-Transmitter Link (STL) for Delta Radio.”

As you’ll see in the video, this gear could work well for IP-based STLs, or even RPUs where cell service is spotty.

Given that cell systems are first to fail when swamped in big emergencies, Dan says a heavy radio news operation may find IP-based RPUs a cheap, effective contingency.

Find relevant information at the Ubiquiti Web Store.

For remote transmitter sites, a wireless IP system might be a great backhaul for network camera security or a web backbone (and not prone to line-cutting by vandals). If the link runs on a UPS, a power loss won’t take the backhaul down immediately.

Note that many of these solutions are unlicensed, so while they are convenient, your frequencies may be shared. In the 60 GHz range, the links also are more susceptible to rain/snow interference if you push their limits.

Can you ID this mic?

We’ll wrap up with a “blast from the past,” also provided by Dan. The accompanying photo show one of the oldest pieces of broadcast equipment he has come across. This was one of the first microphones used by WHIZ(AM) in Zanesville, Ohio. 

Dan found it in a garage nearly 20 years ago but it is of course much older; his guess is it dates to the late 1920s or early 1930s. The station itself was founded in 1924 as WEBE and changed call letters in 1939.

Yes, it’s a microphone!

This was labeled “Western Electric, Iowa, USA.” Its “candelabra” base was attached to the box on top. There were four brass screws on the back of that box; of course, Dan had to open it up to figure out why it had so many pins on that Bakelite connector. It turns out that the box also housed two or three tubes and electronics for the mic, which looked like a carbon model such as used on old telephones.

Dan sent the picture to some friends to try to get more information about the mic, and immediately started getting offers to buy it (for thousands of dollars)! Instead he took it to WHIZ so they could display it.

What do you know about this mic? Email [email protected]. Also share your own fun stories and vintage equipment finds with us.

Workbench submissions are encouraged and qualify for SBE recertification credit.