We are extending LANs out to transmitter sites for many reasons; backup audio, control and monitoring, security systems, VOIP phones, etc.
I am casually (very casually) toying around with creating my own Linux based remote control system. The ongoing Windows 10 upgrade debacle continues to not end, I can’t help but think that there are many potential clients who could use a reliable transmitter/studio remote control and monitoring system based on a stable operating system. Hmm, sounds like a sales pitch 😉
Anyway, I have run across several Ethernet board manufactures that offer a variety of boards with 8-12 contact closures and a variety of analog and digital inputs. Most new transmitters have some sort of web GUI which are great for transmitter control and monitoring. As we all know, there is more than just a transmitter at any given transmitter site. In addition to the transmitter, I would like to control and monitor things like tower lights, interface and control of coax switches, temperature monitoring, generator status, the old non-web interface backup transmitters, STL signal strength for those old 950 MHz links, etc.
That particular PC board is made in Bulgaria, which is home to this: Mount Buzludzha
What I like about these particular boards is the DRM software (DRM has, apparently, many different meanings) which will run on Linux or Windows. There are also iOS and Andriod applications that can be used as well. It appears that the GUI can be customized for various uses. This seems like it is written in Java, so perhaps I could have some Java expert customize it for radio use. It looks like up to 32 boards can be controlled by a single instance of the DRM software. Alarm reporting would be via SNMP trap and email.
I don’t know, there is one particular cluster of stations that needs new remote control gear at almost every transmitter site. Perhaps a little alpha testing is in order? It could be fun…
It has been a year and a half since the tower collapse in North Adams, Massachusetts. Since that time, WUPE-FM (Gamma Broadcasting), WNNI and W266AW (New England Public Radio) have been operating with STAs at lower than licensed power. We have completed the installation of the combined antenna, filters and combiners and now all stations are back to full power. Here are a few pictures of the transmitter room:
WUPE-FM (left hand rack) is using a Crown FM-2000 transmitter, loafing along at 1,060 watts. WNNI (right hand rack) is using a Gates Air Flexiva 2 running at 1,650 watts. Those stations are combined with a Shively Combiner:
We are still doing some grounding and neatening work behind the racks:
The Shively versa tune antennas that were mounted to the wooden utility pole as emergency antennas will be retained as backup antennas for both stations.
We share the room with Access Plus, which is a wireless internet service provider in western Massachusetts. There stuff is in the open frame racks to the right of WNNI.
TL;DR: Tower collaspes, facility is rebuilt better than before.
So, I was working at one of our FM clients in Albany when I decided I had a few moments of spare time, I could neaten up the remote control rack. I opened the rack door and was staring intently at the remote control interface panel, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move.
Now, the top of the rack is a little bit dark and I was not sure what I was looking at. At first I though somebody had stuffed a rag in the top of the rack. But, I could not figure out why anyone would do such a thing. Then I thought it was some cardboard. I almost reached up and grabbed it, but something was amiss. Then I saw the tough flick out and smell the air:
At this point, I think I may have said something like “Oh, shit!” and took several steps back. Those colors and pattern have two possibilities; Copperhead or Grey ratsnake. Since I could not really get a good look at its head, I could not tell which it was. I went and got a work light to see better with.
A copperhead is a pit viper, which has a triangular shaped head and a small indentation or pit under each eye. This snake has neither, so it is fairly harmless. Actually, the ratsnakes are beneficial because they eat the mice and other pests around the transmitter building. There are several versions of these in the northeast, including a black ratsnake which happens to look just like a piece of 7/8 coax laying across the pathway to the door, until it moves that is…
This species can get to be about 6 feet long (1.8 meters) and the larger ones can draw blood when they bite. Even though he looked to be on the small side (approximately 30 inches or 76 cm), I decided that discretion is the better part of valor, closed the door on the rack and did something else for a while.
Whilst working in the generator room at WFLY, I found this bit of treasure stashed on an overhead shelf:
That is a very old FM broadcast antenna from 1947-48. It must have been intended as a spare antenna in case the main antenna had a problem. It was never needed, so it remains in its original shipping crate. I would think that these were rather well made, since the original main antenna was in service from 1948 until 1970 or so, when it was replaced with a Shively 6710.
The entire antenna is intact including the interbay lines, power divider T’s and tuning section. Of course, it is of little use to the radio station today, as it is horizontally polarized. Perhaps some museum somewhere? I don’t know, it would be kind of neat to put it all together and use it as an exhibit.