September 2010
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DigiKey mobile app

Ever need to cross reference something? Or find a part fast? Get it ordered and on the way? No longer satisfied with the meager Radio Shack parts selection? Don’t have time to run to Radio Shack?

DigiKey has a mobile app for you.  Its not that I like Digikey better than any of the other major parts dealers like Mouser, Newark, Allied, etc.  They seem to be the first ones with a searchable mobile app and it seems to work well and it saves time.  One of the things that I do not have very much of these days is time so anything that can move a project or repair along is welcome.

I also don’t have anything against Radio Shack, either, they have simply moved away from the parts business.

The surreal trip to the WICC transmitter site

What could be so bad about going to an AM transmitter site on an peninsula off of the Long Island Sound.  Sounds pretty nice, right?  It began just so, driving through the town of Stratford Beach parking lot to the construction gate, the towers were visible off in the distance.  A nice crushed gravel road across the barrier island, I have certainly been to worse places.

WICC towers pleasure beach island

WICC towers Pleasure Beach Island, CT

And then, things begin to look a little bit different.  It is really hard to put into words, seems like some other country.

Pleasure Beach Bungalows

The beginning of the Pleasure Beach Bungalow Colony

It turns out this is not quite the nice trip after all.

Pleasure beach lawless zone

Pleasure Beach Lawless Zone

I’ve been to several so called “developing areas” like Port Au Prince, Hatti for example.  Nothing ever looked this bad.

Pleasure Beach ocean side bungalow

Pleasure Beach Ocean Side Bungalow

I can imagine some family coming here every summer to spend time at the beach.

Burned out bungalows

Burned out bungalows

What anarchy looks like.

Pleasure beach burned out cottage

Pleasure Beach burned out cottage

The back story is this:  From the 1920’s up until 1996, Pleasure Beach was a nice seasonal oceanside bungalow colony, complete with an amusement park.  These cottages (but not the land they were on) were owned by people from the surrounding cities and towns and the entire area appeared to be quite nice in it’s day.  Then, in 1996, the wooden bridge that connected Pleasure Beach to Bridgeport burned.  There are several theories; crack heads, radical environmentalist, etc.  The city of Bridgeport did not rebuild the bridge, which meant the only access was by walking from the Town of Stratford beach parking lot, at trek of at least a mile or longer.  In 2007, the town of Stratford decided not to renew these land leases and the building owners were forced to remove any remaining items they wanted by barge.  Soon thereafter vandals began walking down the peninsula from Stratford.  Slowly, most of the bungalows were broken into and several were burned.  This is mostly the work of “kids,” who, because they are under the age of 18, get a slap on the wrist and returned to their parents.  Oh, those wacky kids, what will they do next?

Truth be told, they should be the ones out here cleaning this up, for free.

Finally, this year, the city began tearing down and cleaning up the remaining buildings, trying to put the former bungalow colony “back to nature.”

WICC transmitter building

WICC transmitter building

The transmitter site for WICC moved here in 1932.  This building contained a night time operating studio, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom.  I can imagine hanging out here some summer night, spinning tunes and having a good time.  The former amusement part is just out of the picture to the left.  At the amusement park, there was a carousel, a big snack bar, a dance hall and an area for portable rides like Ferris Wheals and such.

Now the building is full of disused gear, old carts, transmitter and tower parts, the water has been shut off and I’d not want to be out here at night under any circumstances.

WICC south tower

WICC north tower

The antenna array consists of two 300 foot Milliken towers, originally from WNAC.  Many people mistakenly think these are Blaw-Knox towers.  Milliken preceded Blaw-Knox by several years.  They built and designed towers around the world for radio and electric transmission.  In the late 1930’s they were bought out by Blaw-Knox, which kept the design.  I love these tapered self supporters, they have survived several major Hurricanes since 1932.  The south tower is about 150 yards from the Long Island Sound.  Salt air seems to do them no harm, either.

WICC Milliken tower, south looking up

WICC Milliken south Tower, looking up

The station operates at 1 KW day, 500 watts night, DA2.  The towers are 60 degrees tall, space 149 degrees.  That is a little short, however, they are surrounded by salt water, so the signal goes like gangbusters.  Because they are short, the impedances are low, about 10 ohms for night time and 30 ohms for daytime.  Since the towers  are so wide, the impedances are flat far beyond 50 KHz either side of the carrier, which makes it a nice broad banded antenna system.  The 1932 phasors and ATUs were redone in 1972.  All of the common point impedance measurements are still posted on the wall.

WICC Harris SX-1A, Phasor and Harris BC1H

WICC Harris SX-1A, Phasor and Harris HC1H

The main transmitter is a 1990 Harris model SX-1A.  It seems to be reliable enough, my experience with the SX-1 is it has an overly complicated control system.  The back up is a Harris BC1H, a sort of hybrid solid state tube unit, which is also reliable.

Frequency voltage meter

WICC frequency and voltage meter

This high tech test and measurement center is attached to the incoming electrical service.  Over the years, there has been some quality control issues with the incoming electrical service, mostly due to Osprey’s building nests on the cross arms.  During rain storms, these nests catch on fire and kill the power to the site.  The power company is in the process of redoing the electrical service to the building.

This is a video of the former amusement part and cottages shot two years ago, when the cottages were more or less intact. It is a bunch of stills set to Pink Floyd music:

Looks like they all just got up and left.

Simulcasting: The sound of broadcasters running out of ideas

There seems to be a growing trend lately;  Stations that had previously separate programming being simulcast. There are two big ones around here: WGY and WHRL and WPLJ and WXLM.

Lets begin with the first one: WGY, now WGY AM/FM.

WGY (Clear Channel Communications) has been the regional power house since it’s inception in 1922.  It consistently ranks in the top 5 arbitron ratings for Albany/Schenectady/Troy NY and is well received in the community.  It carries the standardized Clear Channel talk radio format of Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, etc.  As of September 20th, WHRL 103.1, class A licensed to Albany changed it’s call sign to WGY-FM and began simulcasting WGY 100%.  103.1’s 60 dBU contour is entirely within WGY 2.5 MV/M contour.

It would seem that radios, even bad radios, would have no problems picking up WGY’s signal within the 103.1 listening area.  According to Clear Channel Management:

The decision to simulcast our 24-hour news/talk format on the FM will open up our content to an even wider audience. Despite the huge audience we currently enjoy, the fact is a significant portion of the Capital Region audience never thinks to visit the AM dial.

There is some small amount of truth to that statement; the younger segment of the population generally never listens to AM. Yes.  The reasons, however, are not just because it is AM and they are prejudice.  More likely, there is nothing on the AM dial that interests them.  Satellite syndicated talk is not everyone’s cup of tea, so to speak.

The other side of the coin is the former WHRL had an alternative rock format, which never did all that great (I have a theory on why Alternative Rock, AAA and other such formats never get good ratings, but not right now).  They also had a station staff, which by the time they pulled the switch, was down to one person.   The Capital District Business Review notes:

According to BIA/Kelsey, a media research firm in Chantilly, Va., WGY did about $2.8 million in revenue in 2009. WHRL took in about $875,000.

Which is really not bad for a class A FM in market #63, during a recession.  Apparently, not good enough however.

The second example in our little story is that of WPLJ and WXLM.  WPLJ 95.5 (Citadel Broadcasting) is of course one of the heritage FM stations in Market #1. WXLM 104.7, now known as WELJ broadcast from the far eastern end of Long Island (Market #18), so the respective coverage areas do not over lap.  Prior to September 24th, that station was doing a News/Talk format.

That end of Long Island is pretty affluent, a local (unique) station might even prosper.  In fact, up until 2003 it did quite well for itself, then known as “The Beach.”  However, nothing lasts forever and in 2003 Citadel Broadcasting purchased the station.

It has gone through a number of changes since then, most recently a syndicated news talk format.  Unless I am missing it completely, the last ratings period, this station did not even show up in the book.  As of September 21, it began to simulcast the co-owned out of market AC station, likely for the drive by PPM listeners in it.  Again, no word on the fate of the former radio station’s staff (if there was one).

So what gives?  Consolidators have already cut staff levels to the bone with voice tracking, syndication and automation.  Even a voice tracked syndicated station still need some staff members; the occasional morning show, somebody to do promotions, some form of program direction do to things like music logs and other such behind the scenes work.  Staff require salaries and salaries are expensive.  Anyone that has ever looked at a companies P&L can tell you, salaries are the number one expense.  If, however, the entire format is blown out, and something can be plugged in to fill the void that costs nothing and has no overhead and no staffing, well, now they are really saving money.  That money from reduced expense is much better (far easier) than actually earning more money and it goes right to the bottom line.

This never ending drive to reduce expenses at the expense of everything else drives programming quality and thus entertainment value down.  Who wants to listen to radio and be bored?  Not I.  This continuing trend is what will ultimately spell the end of terrestrial radio.

Things that make you go, Hmmmm part II

I am not sure what the purpose of this is for, or who put it there:

mystery 66 block

Mystery 66 block

The mystery type 66 punch block mounted high up on the wall in the hallway.  The contractors are removing the carpeting on the wall and drywalling over it, when they reached this, they just cut around the block and kept going.  On one side is a teflon jacketed 25 pair category 3 phone wire, which goes back to the rack room, somewhere.  The rack room is a little disorganized and it is difficult to mess around with the various bundles of wire without knocking a station off the air.

On the other side is a bunch of 1N1004 diodes punched down.  Perhaps some sort of door light circuit?  Or maybe a remote channel selector for one of those old Scientific Atlanta 7300 series satellite receivers?  I don’t know.

I used my big wire loppers and cut the cable.  There were no sparks and everyone stayed on the air.  I pulled the whole thing down and removed it, so the drywall contractor can finish patching the holes.

The entire facility is getting gutted and redone soon.

Vintage Texar Audio Prisms

I give to you, the original Texar Audio Prism:

Texar Audio Prism

Texar Audio Prism

I love the sound of these units when coupled with an Optimod 8100A.  Many people have (or rather, had) difficulty setting these things up.  I found them to be very easy to deal with, just follow the instruction manual.  If that doesn’t sound good, then there is something wrong with the unit.  Over the years, there are only a few consistent problems.  The first thing is with the voltage regulators.  They have heat sinks attached with nylon screws.  The screws get brittle and fall apart, making the regulator overheat and go bad.  I have taken to replacing the nylon screws, and if the heat sink has fallen off, the entire regulator.  There are also a few electrolytic capacitors in the power supply and on the audio board, it is always a good practice to replace those.  Otherwise, unless the unit has been blown up by lightning, it should work.

As for set up, follow the directions in the manual:

  1. Bypass the units using bypass switch
  2. Turn on on board pink noise generator
  3. Using the test ports on the front of the unit, plug a Simpson 260 VOM set on 2.5 VAC  important: use the ground port on the front of unit, not the case
  4. For use with an Optimod 8100A, using the dB scale on the Simpson 260, set all the bands for a 4.0 reading.  Set the density to 3/4.
  5. Turn off pink noise generator and switch out of bypass mode.
  6. Make sure the levels in the studio are where they should be.
  7. Adjust the input gain so the “Buffer Active” light does not come on during normal level programming.
  8. Adjust the output levels so that the input buffer on the Optimod reads between -7 and -3 vu.

The rest of the settings are on the Optimod:

  1. Clipping = 0
  2. HF limiting = 5
  3. Release time = 2
  4. Bass coupling = 2
  5. Gate = 0
  6. Set the input attenuators for about 10 dB total gain reduction, with peaks around 15 dB or so.

Then set the L-R null.  To do this, make sure the program material is in mono, then adjust the L or R input attenuator for minimum reading.  Also, if the Audio Prism has PR-1 (phase rotators) installed, bypass the phase rotator in the Optimod.  There is also a replacement card 5 made by Gentner called the RFC-1  for the Optimod 8100A.  I notice little difference between a stock Optimod and on RFC-1 Optimod.

That is a good starting point.  Most people are quite happy with this, but if needed, the high and low settings on the Prism can be adjusted slightly to suit the station equipment.  When properly adjusted, this equipment rides gain, adds a certain amount of loudness, while keeping the programming material natural sounding.  Further, unlike some “modern” air chain processors, it does not boot up and it does not occasionally loose its mind, requiring a reboot.

The best paragraph in the manual, or any broadcast equipment manual is this:

There is a wealth of information available in the LED display.  A few minutes of watching them in reduced light (emphasis added) while listening to a familiar program input will greatly help in understanding their action.

It will also greatly enhance your buzz, dude.  It was the 70’s.

Incredible Radio Tales

Richard Dillman, who is the driving force behind the Maritime Radio Historical Society (MRHS) has produced a show on KWMR called “Incredible Radio Tales.”  This is a show that talks about the the various sounds heard on the radio, both natural and man made.  Many of the shortwave frequencies are used for “utility” uses.

He does a great job explaining things like Skyking, numbers stations and so forth.  It is a great show, I can imagine this story being told on Halloween.

You can listen to the first episode here, its about an hour long:

This is a great example of local radio doing local things. I have no idea if the other episodes are going to be put up on line.

HD radio 2010 = FM radio 1950, (not)

I see this statement being made on various forums, blogs and other places.  As some would like to believe, the problem with HD radio is that people don’t like change. A Look at the early days of FM radio in the 1950’s is a good example of this.  FM radio took decades to catch on, HD Radio is no different.  Currently, HD Radio is experiencing “growing pains” and the occasional “bump in the road.”

Except; no, not really.

Here is a side by side comparison:

Problem/issue FM radio 1950 HD radio 2010
Implementation of technology A new band was created and new radios containing the old (AM) and new FM band were manufactured. During the experimental phase (1937-47), the frequencies were between 42-50 MHz. This changed to 88-108 MHz in 1947. Uptake on new radios was slow due to a frequency shift. Existing AM and FM frequencies were utilized using “Hybrid” mode.  This entailed changing existing channel bandwidths arbitrarily.  New receivers with the HD Radio chipset needed to receive broadcasts.
Funding FM radio was implemented by broadcasters who, for the most part, bore the brunt of the costs themselves. The CPB has granted millions of tax payer dollars to public radio stations to implement HD radio with most of that money going to one company, the owner of the proprietary technology.  To date, NPR stations are the single largest user segment of HD radio.
Creation of interference FM broadcasting created no interference to any other broadcasting station when it was rolled out HD radio has created many interference problems, especially on the AM band at night, where skywave propagation makes adjacent channel stations bear the brunt of exceeded bandwidths.  FM is prone to co-carrier interference from higher digital power levels created to solve poor reception issues in addition to adjacent channel interference to adjacent FM broadcasters from exceeded bandwidths.
Lack of consumer awareness or interest Consumers were generally aware of FM radio, however, the FCC created a major stir when forcing FM broadcasters to move from their original frequency band of 42-50 MHz to 88-108 MHz. This move rendered obsolete many FM radios and caused hard feelings amount early FM radio fans. Consumers generally unaware of HD.  Those that are become disappointed with the lack of additional programming choices and poor receiver performance
Technical reception problems FM stations began broadcasting with low power levels and horizontally polarized antennas.  Radio was not yet a mobile medium.  Many FM listeners needed to install outdoor antennas on their homes to get reception.  Radio listeners were willing to undertake this for good reception. HD power levels are less than needed to have reliable reception in buildings and mobile listening environments. A 6 to 10 dB increase has not effectively been implemented nor solved the problem
Audio quality FM broadcasting is markedly superior to AM broadcasting in the areas of noise reduction and fidelity. HD radio offers a slight improvement to “CD quality” which is hard for the average listener to tell apart from typical analog FM.  AM offers increased audio quality over analog, however, due to reception problems, AM receivers often loose data synchronization and return to the analog signal, creating up/down listening experience most find annoying.
Auxillary services, additional channels FM broadcasting did not have any such features in 1950 HD radio offers the choice of 2 additional channels for programming.  These channels are taken from the existing bandwidth/bit rate of the digital carrier and are a lower quality than the main channel.  In addition to that, there is a data channel that can be used to display song titles and such
Programming FM broadcasting began by offering programming unique from AM stations.  The programming often consisted of classical music networks, educational programs, news programs and other such things.  Additionally, commercial FM broadcasting often had fewer commercials than it’s AM counterpart HD radio main channel is the exact duplicate of its analog signal.  HD-2 and HD-3 channel offer a variety of programming choices including simulcasts of AM stations, retransmissions of co-owned out of market stations, syndicated satellite programs, and occasionally a niche format.
Electronic Media availability During the early FM development and implementation the only competing electronic medium was AM radio The choices of electronic media are wide and diverse.  These include TV, satellite radio, internet, 3G wireless, mp3 players, AM and FM radio
Regulatory environment The FCC staff was filled with ex or future RCA employees, who were interested in the status quo, thus keeping FM from becoming too big too fast and competing with the roll out of RCA’s television technology.   Therefore it was hobbled with low power levels and a bizarre station class structure HD radio has enjoyed a rubber stamp environment where large businesses and  the FCC work together to re-write interference regulations with no regard for technical consequences.

The FM roll out in the late forties and early fifties is vastly different from the HD Radio rollout in the zero zeros.  Due to fear of competition and patent disputes, RCA in conjunction with the FCC did all they could to squash the new technology.  That is why FM radio took so long to be accepted by the general public.  For those not versed with the history of FM development and FM broadcasting in the US, see Empire of the Air, by Tom Lewis.  See also: Edwin H. Armstrong.  It is a good read for those radio obsessed.

HD Radio is failing because the consumer is not buying it, I see little to change their mind.

Digital Radio Mondiale, an alternative to HD radio?

DRM logoCould be.   Digital Radio Mondiale, or DRM, is a modulation scheme that a group of broadcasters and transmitter manufactures have been working on since about 1997 or so.  There are numerous shortwave broadcasters; the BBC, the CBC, Deutsche Welle, Radio France Internationale, the VOA, and others have been using DRM on shortwave for several years now.  I can state that the shortwave DRM system works well, I have a software decoder and use the sound card input on my computer to decode and listen to DRM shortwave broadcasts.

The goal of DRM is to establish a world wide open standard for digital broadcasting in the LF, MF, HF, and VHF bands.  In the early years of development,  DRM was designed for digital broadcasting on the bands below 30 MHz.  This system is now known as DRM30.  Since then, the DRM consortium has expanded that to the VHF band (up to 174 MHz)  as well (meaning where the current FM band is located) and have called that system DRM+.

DRM uses COFDM (Coded Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplex) modulation, which is the same as IBOC HD radioTM.  This is a robust modulation system that employs multiple carriers at lower power (than an analog carrier) spread across the entire alloted bandwidth.

One of the claims is  DRM transmits less power and is more energy efficient.  In general, digital radio modulation does transmit less power, that is true.  However, transmitters have to be run more linear for digital due to the increased bandwidth.  This may not translate to greatly increased efficiency from the AC mains to RF standpoint.  Because of that, there is more waste heat, and thus more air conditioning is needed to cool the transmitter room.

Some of the advantages of DRM over Ibiquity’s HD radioTM are:

  • Open source system.  Royalties are paid by the transmitter manufactures only (and do date, most major US transmitter manufactures have already paid these).  There is no royalties paid by the broadcaster to install DRM or by the consumer when purchasing a DRM capable receiver. One company does not own the rights to the modulation system for all the broadcasters in the country.
  • Universally standard; accepted by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), International Electrotechnical Committee (IEC), and the International Telecommunications Union’s (ITU).
  • The CODEC is HE-AAC 4, which is widely used world wide.
  • DRM30 and DRM+ fits into existing band plans and will not interfere with other users on adjacent channels.  DRM30 is designed for 9 KHz channel spacing and DRM+ is designed for 100 KHZ channel spacing, all of which comply with existing FCC regulations.
  • Standardized receiver profiles, things that must be included in all DRM receivers. There are several advanced options as well, such as a media rich system that includes video.
  • DRM+ has several added features: DRM text, which is similiar to RBDS.  EPG or electronic programming guide, which shows what is coming up next and a searchable schedule of when programs may be heard out to seven days.  Some DRM+ receivers will have a TIVO like recording device that allows the user to record programs and play back later.
  • Traffic reporting and routing

In addition to that, DRM30 station have the ability to transmit low frame rate H. 264 video.  This is a distinct advantage for short wave stations that are seeking a way around fire wall blocking.  The video image is small, 176 x 144 pixels, and it is 8 frames per second, which is about as good as can be expected using a 9 KHz channel.

In some cases, DRM is capable of a hybrid mode (ed note: DRM calls this “Simulcast mode”), but what have we learned about hybrid mode digital radio:  It doesn’t work very well. In short, it would be better if DRM were employed in the digital only mode.  To many, this is a distinct disadvantage, but I don’t see it that way.  There have been many that have made the IBOC roll out/FM broadcasting roll out annology.  Frankly, those arguments don’t hold water.  When FM was introduced, no attempt was made to shoe horn it into the existing AM (Standard Broadcast) band, it was not designed to interfere with other stations or itself, power levels were sufficient for good reception using existing technology, quality over AM was markedly improved and programming was often separate (simulcasting with existing AMs did not start until later).  My point here is that any digital broadcasting should be introduced on a separate set of frequencies.  Some have proposed using TV channels 5 and 6, which makes some good sense.  Whatever the outcome is, we have learned, the hard and expensive way, that hybrid digital broadcasting does not work well.

A brief video about DRM30.

Currently, DRM30 is only allowed on shortwave broadcast frequencies in the US.  I asked a product development engineer from a major reputable broadcast transmitter manufacture about this, his response was:

  • Medium wave broadcasting in the US already has HD radio, so the FCC would be disinclined to allow a new standard
  • One might be able to apply for an experimental license to broadcast DRM, but it would likely have an expiration date
  • It is possible to operate DRM in a hybrid mode on the AM band and occupy the same bandwidth as HD radioTM (30 Khz), it might also be possible to squeeze that down to 20 KHz.
  • Most modern (read: solid state) AM broadcast transmitters should be able to transmit DRM without modification (antenna systems may be a different matter).

It might be fun to apply for an experimental license to broadcast somewhere in the 1600-1700 KHz range with DRM30 only and no analog modulation, except for an hourly station ID in morse.  A 1/4 wave tower in the middle of that band would be 141 feet tall.  With use of a skirt, a grounded tower can be employed.  That and a few above ground radials and the system would likely be pretty efficient.  Part of the experiment would include driving around and taking signal strength readings while recording the programming material.  This would give some real world testing on how the system would perform in wide spread use.

Of course, this would require a major about face by the FCC, which is not likely unless someone there grows or somehow acquires a back bone.

Some people question the need to do any type of digital broadcasting.  I am a realist, in one way, shape, or form, digital radio broadcasting will (or already is) take(ing) place.  It would make the most sense if the best system were used, which is not necessarily the first system proposed.  The big question is, will today’s terrestrial broadcasters be involved, or out of business.

Things that make you go, Hmmm.

I was doing a weekly visit to one of our FM transmitter sites the other day when I noticed this:

Dented deadbolt lock at transmitter site

Dented deadbolt lock at transmitter site

Looks like somebody has been whacking the deadbolt lock with a hammer or a wrench or something.  Pretty sure that was not like that the last time I was here.  Time to get one of those IP cameras and set it up on the tower.

Tower Safety Equipment

The tower climbing video that has gone near viral pointed out a few things.  Climbing towers is dangerous business, best left to those who are trained for it and have the insurance.

It is true that tower climbing contractors have the responsibility to protect their own workers while working on a clients tower.  That does not completely absolve the tower owner from liability.  The it is incumbent on the tower owner to provide a safe structure to climb.  This can mean the mechanical integrity of the tower, reduction of transmitter power while workers are in high RF energy fields, and providing the proper permanently attached safety equipment on the tower itself;  Climbing ladders, ladder safety cages, rungs, elevators, and fall arresting gear.

In that tower video post, I mentioned something called a safety climb.  That is a cable, usually 3/8 inch stainless steel aircraft cable, attached, about eight inches from the climbing surface like this:

Western Electric 200 foot tower with retro fitted safety climb[

Western Electric 200 foot tower with retro fitted safety climb

The tower itself was built in 1959 and did not have this equipment when new.  This was a retro fit kit, installed in 2003, I believe.

The tower climber wears a harness with a special karabiner attached to the front and waist level.  When climbing this ladder, the karabiner slides up the cable.  If he were to fall, the karabiner has an auto locking or braking mechanism that would stop his fall.

Tower safety climb

Tower safety climb, attached to climbing ladder

Many tower climbers, especially those that have been in the business for a while, do not like these things.  When climbing, especially if one has long legs, the tendency is to bump your knees on the bottom of the next ladder rung.  This is because the belt holds the climber’s waist in making it difficult to get the rear end out, away from the ladder the way most people like to climb.  The alternative is to climb with the knees spread apart, like a frog, which is hard on the hamstrings and quite literally, a pain in the ass.  However, if a tower is so equipped, it must be used.

I have, wherever possible, retro fitted towers with these devices.  Of course, all new towers come equipped with them. In some situations, it is not possible to retro fit towers with safety climbs, either because there is no attachment point at the top of the tower that meets the OHSA spec, there is not a climbing ladder, or it would affect the tower tuning, as in an AM tower or near a TV or FM antenna.

Hundreds of gallons of ink have been spilled by Los Federals in OHSA regulations 29 CFR 1926 and 29 CFR 1910.268(g) regarding fall protection and fall protection equipment for telecommunications workers.  In this litigious world we live in, tower owners and or their on site representatives should know these rules and make sure they are followed.


A pessimist sees the glass as half empty. An optimist sees the glass as half full. The engineer sees the glass as twice the size it needs to be.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
~1st amendment to the United States Constitution

Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.
~Benjamin Franklin

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is hard business. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
~Rudyard Kipling

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers
~Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, Article 19 was discovered, and not invented, and that these frequencies and principles were always in existence long before man was aware of them. Therefore, no one owns them. They are there as free as sunlight, which is a higher frequency form of the same energy.
~Alan Weiner

Free counters!