Moving and upgrading a translator

Something that I eluded to in a previous post, we finalized the move of the WSBS translator, W231AK, from the Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington to the side of the AM tower.

Tower crew hanging translator antenna on AM tower
Tower crew hanging translator antenna on AM tower

The move was started by hanging a new Shively 6812B antenna from the side of the AM tower, located off of US 7, north of Great Barrington. This is a half-wave spaced circularly polarized antenna.

While this work was going on, some guy from OSHA showed up and started taking pictures without asking permission or telling anyone who he was.  We informed him that he was on private property and asked him his reasons for being there.  He got in his car and left, no doubt to a parking lot down the road so he could keep the tower climbers safe… mostly from themselves… by levying huge fines for free climbing…  Wasn’t there something in the news about the government running out of money?  Anyway…

W231AK antenna, Great Barrington, MA
W231AK antenna, Great Barrington, MA

WSBS had been using this translator for a few years. The advantages for the station from the translator move are greater power output (from 35 watts to 250 watts ERP) and less operating expenses in the form of TELCO line charges and roof top rental at the Hospital.

WSBS tower with W231AK antenna mounted
WSBS tower with W231AK antenna mounted

In addition to that, the reliability of the translator should increase, as there have been several instances in the past when TELCO line problems have taken the translator off the air for days at a time.

W231AK new transmitter
W231AK new transmitter, WSBS base current meter below

The transmitter for W231AK was changed from a Crown 35 watt unit to a BW Broadcast T600.  These units are made in the UK and it is an all in one processor/exciter/transmitter. We took the cover off to make a few configuration changes and the entire unit is very well made.

BW Broadcast T600 insides
BW Broadcast T600 insides

One of the nice features of this particular transmitter is the screw down clamping method of connecting the RF devices. Lets face it, unsoldering MOSFETS is a PITA. This screw down clamp eliminates all that.

BW Broadcast T600 power amp
BW Broadcast T600 power amp

The audio input and processing board is pretty neat too.

BW Broadcast T600 audio input board
BW Broadcast T600 audio input board

There are several different processing settings which we played around with.  All in all, it seems like a pretty solid unit and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a low to moderate power transmitter.

6 thoughts on “Moving and upgrading a translator”

  1. I installed a BW50 for WWQZ in Hampden, MA. The unit is mounted in a fairly hostile environment for broadcast equipment, and it has yet to go off the air. The owners haven’t paid for a routine maintenance visit, which they will realize will cost even more money in the long run. But the little guy keeps chugging along!

  2. Lots of great choices in low to medium power FM transmitters these days, do most external composite inputs or are you stuck with using the internal processing?

  3. Chris, this has a selectable composite input so an external processor can be used. Also, there is a composite loop through, which is handy for things like RDS generators or composite clippers and the like.

  4. I have used BW Broadcast 50, 300, and 1000 Watt exciters, and have found them all to be good units for their price. If we can’t afford a Nautel VS exciter for some site, I’ll get a BW Broadcast unit. I don’t know if getting support from across the pond will turn out to be less than convenient, since I haven’t had to use it yet. The biggest pain I’ve had with the BW Broadcast exciters is having to take off the top covers to move internal jumpers to change between internal stereo generation and MPX loopthrough. You have to take off a lot of screws off the top, and some on the sides, which will nearly always require you to disconnect all the cables connected to it and pull it out of the rack, which is not convenient when it takes your station off the air, just to make a simple change that other exciters allow you to do from the front panel menus. Still, the procedure doesn’t have to be done very often, and I can take comfort in all the money that I’ve saved in getting the BW Broadcast over some other manufacturer’s units.

  5. While I haven’t been to the site since putting up the transmit antennas, I hear that WWQZ is using a BW Broadcast DSPXmini audio processor to good effect. From what Mike has told me, it’s an excellent value, and not hard to set up.

  6. Joel, that would be my one -minor- complaint about this unit; access to the dip switches for programming the audio board. Other than that, the unit is great, sounds good, works well, very efficient, nicely built, etc.

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