Generators and mice

Never a good mix, unfortunately, it usually turns out bad for the mice and sometimes the equipment.  This is a Onan GGMA 20 KW propane generator installed in a rural area, not that the location matters that much.  Mice will find what they perceive as a safe secure spot to hold up for the winter.

Onan GGMA20 propane generator
Onan GGMA20 propane generator

Unfortunately, the mice decided that the generator cooling fan was a good place to make a nest.  It probably was until the generator started, then the mice had a quick lesson in centripetal force.

Mice and generator
Mice and generator

This will require some additional maintenance in the spring time when I change to oil.  By that time, the carcases should be mostly dried out and easier to deal with.

Onan generator mice
Onan generator mice

The mice are generally a nuisance, getting into ATU’s, transmitters, electrical panels, spare parts boxes, etc.  Once in place, they begin to bread and reproduce.  The gestational period for a mouse is 21 days, which means populations rapidly increase creating further problems. If left alone, mice will chew through electrical insulation, control wires, cardboard boxes, packing material and so on.  They tend to carry diseases like hantavirus and bubonic plague.

I don’t usually agree to using poison to get rid of pests, it tends to linger in the environment and accumulate up the food chain.  However, judicious use of some type of poison is usually the only way to effectively get rid of a mouse infestation.

Wherever possible, make sure that all openings and holes into equipment and buildings are sealed up.  Do not kill snakes and other predators, who will assist in keeping the mice in check.  Employ traps and wear gloves when removing dead mice and mouse parts.  Beware of fleas.

WNAW North Adams

Originally signed on as WMNB in 1947, it is a Class C AM station on 1230 KHz, one of thousands in the country. Initially, it had a power of 250 watts, upgrading at various times to its current power of 1,000 watts.

WNAW-WUPE-FM, North Adams, Ma circa 2012
WNAW-WUPE-FM, North Adams, Ma circa 2012

What is different about this station is the studio building. It is located in it’s original place on Curran Highway on the south side of North Adams. The studio is a late Art deco design, complete with small glass atrium in the lobby.  Like many older radio stations, this installation was built on a raised floor.  The walls and doors are all well constructed for maximum sound attenuation.  The doors are large, heavy and solid wood.

WNAW news room, formerly the performance studio
WNAW news room, formerly the performance studio

Inside, the original studios are laid out with a control room, a broadcast studio and a live performance room.  At one time, the live performance room had a grand piano.  Several times per week, live music shows were broadcast on the station.  There was a large news room, a big corner office for the General Manager and sales managers.

WNAW studio monitor speakers
WNAW studio monitor speakers

WNAW studio, looking into the control room.  Back in the day, the announcer, who’s only concern was announcing, worked in a separate studio from the engineer on duty, who worked console in the control room.  The audio level limiting consisted of turning down the level on the console if the announcer started speaking loudly.  They often communicated with each other with hand signs through the windows.

WNAW lobby
WNAW lobby

At the time that WMNB was signed on, the Adams/North Adams Massachusetts area was in the heart of the north east manufacturing belt.  Sprauge had a capacitor plant in Adams, GE was making plastics in Pittsfield, There where many textile mills still in operation and so on.  The population was predominantly working middle class.

WNAW control room console
WNAW control room console

Obviously, the console has been changed since those days.  The current console is a Audio Arts R-60.  This serves as the control room for WNAW and WUPE-FM.  The programming for WUPE-FM comes from Pittsfield on a T-1 line.  From here, it is relayed to the transmitter site on a 950 MHz STL.   WNAW transmitter is located about 2/10 of a mile south of the studio building on Curran Highway.  It consists of a skirted self supporting tower with a Gates 1 solid state transmitter.

WNAW-WUPE-FM equipment racks
WNAW-WUPE-FM equipment racks

Equipment racks containing the T-1 equipment, modulation monitors and STLs.  Note the very old Moseley TRC-15 remote controls.  We have been unwiring these at the transmitter sites and disconnecting the TELCO lines.  The transmitter sites now have Sine Systems dial up remote controls.

In 1961, WMNB-FM (now WUPE-FM) signed on the air from a tower north east of down town, off of Mohawk Trail (MA route 2).  It broadcast on 100.1 MHz with an ERP of 1,000 watts using a Gates FM1B transmitter.

WNAW continues on today as a community based radio station and is well liked and supported.

The Harris Z6HD transmitter

These transmitters are good.   They seem to behave in a mostly normal manner, having a few quirks now and then. This particular unit is installed at WFAS-FM in White Plains NY.

Harrsi Z6HD transmitter, WFAS-FM, White Plains, NY
Harrsi Z6HD transmitter, WFAS-FM, White Plains, NY

I believe the reason for the installation was for the HD Radio® that was in it.  The Deathstar HD Radio® exciter is in the next rack over.  No further comment needed.

On this day, the transmitter had given up, throwing a main fan fault.  The fan (blower) motor had been replaced in the last six months (on a transmitter that is only five years old), so it was not that.  As it turns out, the stock fuses; 10 amp, slow blow, were just a little bit underrated for the job.  Harris released a service bulletin a few years ago calling for 15 amp slow blow fuses as replacement.  In any case, it was an easy fix and now there is a box of 15 amp slow blow fuses in the transmitter next to the fuse holders.

Harris Z6HD transmitter front RF modules
Harris Z6HD transmitter front RF modules

The modules are accessible by the front and rear of the transmitter.  These doors can be opened with the unit is on the air, since all of the high voltage is in the bottom of the transmitter where the blower is located.

Module in the middle is the IPA.  Each module has two RF amps, each RF amp has two devices (BLF-177).  The devices are field replaceable, however, on the HD models, one has to make sure that the amplifiers are still linear.  On the non-HD models (Z6CD), this is not a problem at all.  Shorted MOSFETS will be noted by a fault of one entire power supply.  Removing the bad RF module will allow the transmitter to run at somewhat reduced power.  Finding the bad module may take a bit of trial and error.

Harris Z6HD transmitter back
Harris Z6HD transmitter back

The back of the transmitter has the directional coupler, low pass filter,access to the back of the analog exciter, controller and remote control connection points.

The power supply in the bottom of the transmitter has multiple taps, each on with its own fuse.  These can be a bit of a chore to work on.  There is also a ribbon cable that goes from the controller to the power supply board.  This is directly in the path of the cooling fan and can flop around causing the conductors in the cable to break.  The result is the power supply may not come on, or may show an unbalanced power supply condition (in the case of a three phase transmitter).  Very difficult to diagnose.

Harris Z6HD transmitter, on air, WFAS-FM, White Plains, NY
Harris Z6HD transmitter, on air, WFAS-FM, White Plains, NY

Here it is, running again.

Leave Rush Alone

The man is an instigator, a pot stirrer, and a knave.  I find his show boring, predicable, uninformative and uninspired, a three hour long recitation of Republican talking points.  I agree with almost nothing he says.

That being said, the reaction to the latest Rush Limbaugh shock jock provocation seems irrational.   Gloria Allred, an attorney herself, declared he should be arrested.  Really?  You should know better than that, after all that fancy law schoolin’ and such.  The Los Angles City Council passed a resolution banning intolerable radio speech.  Called “largely symbolic” which is double speak, one wonders what symbols we should associate with such a measure.

The reason for the first amendment to the constitution is to prevent the very slippery slope of banned speech and censorship.

It is time to reacquaint people with some of the basic controls on a radio.  The first is called the “tuning knob” or on modern radios, the “seek” button.  You can press (or turn) this when you are not hearing something to your liking.  The other control know on the radio is the “volume” knob.  This can be used to turn the radio volume down or off.

As far as Rush Limbaugh is concerned, if enough people use the aformentioned radio controls, he will eventually end up on XM/Sirius, where all big DJ’s go to fade away, with the likes of Howard Stern and Oppie and Anthony.  It would be far better to allow the market to decide Rush Limbaugh’s fate, than to try and wage some type of questionable legal war on free speech.