FAIRBANKS, Alaska — Since our beginnings as a small local broadcaster, Tanana Valley Television and Radio has experienced significant growth over the past several years. This includes the addition of three radio stations, including KNLT(FM), a 10 kW station located approximately 300 miles south in the town of Palmer.
KNLT was a greenfield site, and we aimed to procure as much equipment as possible from a single supplier. Given the transmitter site’s remote location, we required a reliable and efficient transmitter that would minimize maintenance, operating costs and site visits. Upon evaluation, all signs pointed to GatesAir as the ideal option for KNLT.
Initially, KNLT launched as a 1 kW station. Faced with a tight timeline, GatesAir delivered a fully equipped, weather-insulated outdoor enclosure that eliminated the need to engage an integrator. The preassembled enclosure was outfitted with a Flexiva transmitter, antenna and all required RF, EAS, cooling, electrical and support gear. The system was ready for air in a day, with a GatesAir IP Link codec feeding program audio to the transmitter from Fairbanks.
We were later approved for a power increase to 10 kW, and engaged with GatesAir for delivery of a higher-power Flexiva FAX air-cooled transmitter. Again, GatesAir delivered a turnkey RF system with a Shively antenna, transmission line, hard line and transmission support gear. We additionally purchased a GatesAir Oasis analog console and a second IP Link for a new local studio. With an IP Link at both the local studio and in Fairbanks, we have incredible flexibility in switching program feeds for delivery to the Flexiva as needed.
Installation was simple and efficient. Beyond cutting the hard line and installing a new transmission enclosure to accommodate the larger transmitter, there was little work to do. We slid the power supplies and amplifiers into position, and had a local electrician run power to the new enclosure and transmitter. We hooked up the transmitter to a dummy load for testing, and everything worked great right off the bat.
The interior design is modular, which means minimal labor. Hot-swappable amplifiers and power supplies make the Flexiva simple to maintain. As an experiment, I pulled an amplifier and power supply shortly after putting the transmitter on the air. The Flexiva responded as advertised, maintaining most of its power. The power is reduced proportionally with each module failure, instead of being reduced to half or less of its power.
The benefit of this modularity is that I can dispatch a local contractor to quickly replace a power amplifier or supply, instead of traveling to the site myself. That reliability and maintenance efficiency significantly lowers our operating costs over the life of the transmitter. Our goal is to replace our one remaining tube transmitter eventually with a Flexiva to eliminate the extensive labor and cooling costs associated with tubes.
The Flexiva design includes the GatesAir FAX exciter and a built-in Orban Optimod for audio processing. The Optimod makes excellent use of all available modulation and the exciter is stable, which means I am rarely concerned about signal performance. Using its built-in IP features, we use Burk remote control gear to monitor via SNMP, and connect to the built-in GUI via IP when a closer look is needed. This provides complete transparency, allowing me to drill down to a variety of readings from any location; and providing the freedom to reconfigure settings as needed.
GatesAir has turned into one our preferred suppliers. In addition to supplying most of the key transmission, STL and studio gear to power KNLT, we have additionally installed Maxiva VAX VHF digital TV transmitters for two of our TV stations. With a similar design to Flexiva, the Maxivas provide the same modularity and operational efficiencies. And while power savings are less pronounced with the Flexiva due to KNLT’s analog-only status, the Maxiva DTV transmitters have slashed our power consumption by nearly 66 percent to approximately one-third the cost of our older transmitters of another brand, drastically lowering our monthly electric bill. We are very pleased with both the performance and anticipated ROI of our GatesAir transmitters.
For information, contact Keith Adams at GatesAir in Ohio at (513) 459-3447 or visit www.gatesair.com.