This was installed new in a Broadcast Electronics FM20T transmitter which was placed on line on June 6, 2001. It lasted until May 28th, 2019 with almost no down time. Towards the end, the emissions started dropping off and we increased the filament voltage up to 10 volts. When you have to increase the filament voltage, that really is the end for a tube.
The new tube was put in and I carefully marked out the date in the maintenance log. The hour meter on the transmitter stopped working several years ago.
Prior to this, the longest tube life I’d experienced was an EEV 4CX35000C from an MW-50B transmitter RF section. When that tube came out, it looked like it have been on fire.
Another install, this time a new BE product. I am familiar with the BE FM “C” series transmitter. Those are pretty solid units and we take care of many of them.
This new version of transmitter looks like it has a little bit of Elenos in its DNA. Perhaps I am wrong about that.
The STXe exciter is an all purpose analog/digital unit that will do standard FM stereo, hybrid FM +HD radio, HD radio only, DRM+, or FM and DRM+. I like that. It gives the owner lots of options with regards to future planning. Frankly, I would love to see some DRM+ testing done in the US.
We have actually installed a couple of “C” series transmitter with the STXe exciter as well.
The rest of the transmitter consists of four RF amps and an output combiner all in a short rack. Frankly, if I were ordering one of these units, I’d order the taller rack. Not that I am getting old or anything like that, but stooping over to program the date/time, frequency and power output introduced a slight discomfort in my lower back.
Running into the antenna. At 4.1 KW, 18 watts reflected power is slightly high. This antenna has always had a little bit of reflected power.
The building I installed this in is nick named “The Chicken Coop,” likely because it used to be an actual chicken coop. I am not kidding. The site was originally just the AM station (WHUC). That station had a different transmitter building located some distance away which was fed with open transmission line. This building was put in place sometime around 1969 when the FM station signed on as WHUC-FM (now WZCR). It has seen better days, but we are working on fixing some of the issues with air conditioning and cleanliness.
The transmitter fired up without any issues and sounds much, much better than the QEI which it replaced.
The QEI transmitter had problems over the years, mostly burned out resistors in the RF combiner network. It has since been scrapped.
At the risk of becoming redundant, here are a few pictures of a GatesAir FAX-5 install recently completed in Westerly, RI. This was installed in a recently vacated Verizon cell site next to the old transmitter building. The old transmitter building and the equipment contained therein had seen better days, to be sure.
As requested, the only pre-installation photo I can find:
That photo was taken back in October 2018, when we first looked at the Verizon shelter as a viable alternative to the current transmitter site.
Overall, the transmitter sounds great. Much better than the old unit which had an AM noise problem.
If it wasn’t so far away, this would have been a pretty easy project. There were minor miscues along the way that added up. I will say that I learned a few good life lessons about the reliability and responsibility of people.