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It is kind of tragic, in a way

Working on another AM directional station (WGDJ) which was damaged by lightning recently. In this case, the antenna array controller ceased working and one of the towers in the daytime pattern was out tolerance. Before we stared working, I told the owner to have all the vegetation cut down around the towers. This is what we ended up with:

WGDJ catwalk, East Greenbush, NY

WGDJ catwalk, East Greenbush, NY

I can’t really fault them for this, but it does make work more difficult.  That strip of tall green grass; that is the catwalk. The grass itself is called Phragmites, which is tall, tough, reedy stuff that can scratch and cut person unaware. The array is in a low swampy area next to the Hudson River in East Greenbush, NY. Stepping off of the catwalk, one can sometimes find solid ground, or find ones feet six inches under water.

WGDJ tower one ATU cleanout

WGDJ tower one ATU clean out

This is Mike cleaning out the mice and bees nests out of the tower #1 ATU. Notice the can of bee spray in his back pocket.  This was after he was stung in the forehead.

Mouse nest, WGDJ daytime ATU coil

Mouse nest, WGDJ tower #5 daytime ATU coil

This mouse nest, at the attendant dead body in it, was responsible for a -10 degree phase shift in the daytime pattern for that tower. I hate cleaning this stuff out, it is a dirty, nasty job but necessary nonetheless. While doing this work, I wore gloves and a dust mask. The entrance hole where the AC power and control cables come into the bottom of the ATU was plugged up with some steel wool.  There is still a bad capacitor in this ATU for the daytime array, that damage was likely caused by lightning.

At the end of the day, we repaired the antenna array/phasor controller; bad AC transformer and rectifier bridge and several bad logic steering diodes for tower 4 and 5, cleaned out all the vermin nests and isolated the remaining problem with the daytime antenna system.  Parts should be in next week to finalize repairs.

All in all, not a bad day’s worth of work.

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8 comments to It is kind of tragic, in a way

  • That’s a lot of towers, and a fascinating daytime pattern.

    I wish I knew more about AM tower array design.

  • Paul, be careful of the mouse nests and droppings especially dried urine, just saw a story on Hantavirus, it is now being spread in NY, PA, and Massachusetts and Ontario by the white tail mouse. Always something new to worry about, nice work on WGDJ.

  • Bill Frahm

    We also wear eye protection along with rubber gloves and masks. I’m sure there’s an OSHA rule somewhere (like everything else) regarding cleaning out a mouse infested (ATU) buildings. Maybe using one of those full-face respirators masks and full body hazardous materials suits.

    Use stainless steel scrubbing pads with spray foam to fill up holes. Doesn’t rust quite as fast.

  • Bob M.

    It’s almost worth spending $100 to buy a small shop vac that you use only for the particularly nasty task of cleaning mouse and nest remnants, and either leave it in the dog house or put it into a plastic bag and throw it away when you’ve finished. I made the mistake of using my personal 12 gallon wet/dry shop vac and even after two or three washes it still smells. The damp material leaves little traces inside the corrugated hose, the vacuum blades get small bits that pass through the filter, the filter is obviously toast, etc.

    I sealed the holes as best I could with several layers of aluminum duct tape, inside and out. The only holes I couldn’t get to were several feet off the floor on the rear and sides of the ATU. If the mice can climb the completely vertical painted metal panels, then more power to them!

  • Elliot

    Bob,they do and will!
    If there’s a hole,they will find their way to warmth for winter.

  • Elliot

    Paul, we just had our computer floors cleaned out for the first time since the build 20 years ago.
    It was a nasty job,to say the least.The layers of video and old audio cables made this a daunting task for the team.
    I told one worker that it’s not a picnick,no flip-flops or open sandles.
    This is a city,in the country,different issues as have been discussed here.
    Always Be Carefull.Animals leave some nasty calling cards that you may not discover for months or even years after exposure.

  • Bob M.

    Elliot: there’s no warmth to be found. The doghouse is maybe 6×8, the ATU is maybe 3x3x3 (it’s got room for 5kw parts), and nothing gets hot enough to be considered a warm spot. The tower is unlit, there’s no AC there except to switch the day/night contactors. Maybe the ATU offers one more layer to guard against the wind. All of the previous mouse nests were on the bottom of the ATU, complete with dead critters. I haven’t been out to the site in over two years but I sealed every opening larger than 1/4 inch that I could get to, especially where the cables entered through the bottom. I figured those were the highways being used, but hopefully the traffic stopped.

    I noticed at another site with an electric gate opener that DID offer some warmth, placing a D-Con bait box inside just provided food for the mice. Their nest thrived right next to it. Sealing the holes should have taken care of things.

  • Elliot

    Hi Bob,No critcisim intended,pest abatement is not only a science but,a game of cat and mouse!
    The exterminator’s job is safe,to say the least.It sounds like you’ve collected some very good techniques like the D-Con bate outside the container,brillient!

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