GatesAir FLX-40 one year in

I was at the WEBE transmitter site recently and took the time to look over transmitter we installed last year:

GatesAir FLX-40 transmitter, WEBE Bridgeport, CT
GatesAir FLX-40 transmitter, WEBE Bridgeport, CT

Overall, I would say that this transmitter has been very reliable.  We had to install a UPS for the exciter and HD Radio exporter, but that is not a big deal. During the first power outage, the exciter went dark first. It took longer for the transmitter controller board to lose power, in the interim the controller turned the transmitter power all the way up. When the generator came on line 10 seconds later, the transmitter returned to operation at 41.5 KW. This, in turn, caused one of the other field engineers to freak out and nearly lose his mind (stay away from the brown acid, FYI).

I installed the UPS a few days later.

WEBE TPO 35.3 KW with HD Radio carriers on
WEBE TPO 35.3 KW with HD Radio carriers on

Transmitter power output is 35.3 KW, which is getting into the semi-serious range. The reflected power goes up when it gets warm out and goes down in colder weather.  Over the winter, it was running about 50 watts.  Even at 138 watts, that represents 0.004% reflected power. The TPO forward goes to the 6 bay, 1/2 wave spaced antenna side mounted, 470 feet (143 meters) AGL. The station covers pretty well.

WEBE Pump station
WEBE Pump station, pump is running 2/3 speed and fans are running at about 1/2 speed

Overall, I would give the liquid cooling system an A grade. The transmitter still dumps a fair amount of heat into the room from the RF combiners and PA power supplies. Most of the heat, however, ends up outdoors. Previously, we had two Bard 5 ton AC units running almost full time. Now, only one AC unit cycles on and off except for the hottest days of the year. Outside temperature when this picture was taken was 81 degrees F (27.2 C).

Next year, we will have to send a sample of the coolant off to be analyzed.

Gates FLX-40, WEBE Bridgeport, CT
Gates FLX-40, WEBE Bridgeport, CT

I have had good experiences with the GatesAir FLX/FAX series transmitters. I would recommend this to a friend.

5 thoughts on “GatesAir FLX-40 one year in”

  1. I know its loud in there and tweeters might be useless, but why do both speakers have tweeters removed and alligator-clip wires running from them? What do they feed? Sorry if stupid question!

  2. A couple of quick responses.
    1) I want to see that site myself.
    2) If you haven’t done a Glycol analysis or been a long time, I had it done at Dow Chemical a few years ago, and can give you the proper contacts to make it happen.
    3) That antenna outperforms just about any I’ve ever seen. I understand it is slightly “directionalized” to offset the effects of the smoke-stack, but it is even better beyond that. That is one of the best signals in CT. Here in Southeastern Mass, I have picked up the HD during minor trop, since you guys put the new transmitter.
    4) Brown Acid. Hahaha.

  3. I go back years ago when the station was directional and from the last close-up photos I’ve seen the screen behind the antenna was still on the stack (pre Chriss Scherer, pre Ed Butler) while I was engineering the former sister AM, WMMM-AM / WCFS-AM. This shouldn’t be much of an issue as WEBE will have to vacate the site when the power plant gets razed in the next two years.

    I find it surprising that the transmitter would exhibit such a drastic operation with freewheeling up to max power and then still at a operating power exceeding what it should be set for. I would think with non-volatile memory today the settings could be programmed permanently, regardless of power failures or not.

  4. Good to see that GatesAir have produced a good TX in the FLX-40.

    I have limited experience of that lineage:- Harris FM20Ks (2) and associated kit from a turnkey FM installation.

    From that experience, and from much comment at broadcastengineering.info, I’ve had reservations re. Harris/Gates build quality, design practices and quality control.

    How would you rate GatesAir in these areas?

  5. Paul, Regarding some of the old Harris designs, I understand what you are saying. The FAX/FLX transmitter I have installed have had zero problems. Thus far, I have installed two FAX-10 units and five FAX-1 units. The set up is easy and the GUI is intuitive and stable.

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