During the digital TV conversion in the US, all broadcast television stations installed new transmitting equipment and antennas. Most stations ended up on a different frequency than their original analog channel. In Albany, New York, all of the TV stations moved to a common transmitter site and installed their antennas on a single tower.
So, what happened to the old Analog TV sites in Albany?
For the most part, after the analog turn off on June 12, 2009, the sites have sat empty. Such is the case with the former WMHT site.
This old sign about sums up the end of analog television.
The former transmitter operator desk. Maintenance log is still open. From the looks of things, they opened the circuit breakers and walked away. Everything remains intact from the antenna to the klystrons and exciters. It does appear that the coolant has been drained from the system. Other than that, it seems like the whole thing could be restarted with minimal effort.
There were two Onan DFN 350 backup generators. With a TV transmitters, it is vitally important to run the cooling system after shutdown. The idea here is that both generators in parallel could run the whole station, if one generator failed, then the cooling system would still run and cool the klystrons.
The former WMHT tower, which currently holds the WVCR-FM, WXL-34 (NOAA weather radio), and W44CT-D (Three Angles Broadcasting) Low power TV transmitter.
These equipment racks and the NOAA weather radio transmitter in the other room are the only active equipment at this site.
WMHT-TV Chanel 17 (488-494 MHz) signed on 1962 from this site. The Comark transmitter was installed in 1984. The station’s analog ERP was 2000 KW visual, 200 KW aural.
As alluded to in the previous post, I spent a fair amount of time at Mt. Mansfield last month. It is the highest point in the state of Vermont, topping out at 4,393 feet (1,339 M). At the top, there is a large transmission facility that is home to WCAX-TV, WPTZ-TV, WVPS, WEZF, and several low power TV’s, NOAA weather radio, etc. Next door, Vermont Public TV is housed in a separate building. Here are a few pictures and descriptions. First off all, Mount Mansfield is the home of Stowe Ski area. They own the access road to the top of the mountain and are quite proud of it. In the summer time, the toll for a car load of people is $26.00.
The transmitter building is below the actual peak. This is one of the few transmitter sites that is manned 24/7, as such there is a working kitchen, bathroom, bunk rooms and so on. I’d imagine it gets pretty deary up there in the wintertime, but perhaps not.
The transmitters are located along a long hallway. WEZF and WVPS share a room, WCAX and WPTZ are in open bays as are the low power TVs. NOAA weather radio and some other government transmitters are located over the garage.
All of the TV transmitters are new because of the recent conversion from analog to digital transmission. WCAX is noted as channel three, which was their analog channel, they actually transmit on channel 22 with a power of 443 KW ERP.
Like WCAX, WPTZ was on channel five, it is now transmitting on channel 14 with 650 KW ERP.
The site is backed up by two 1.2 MW diesel generators, which can be paralleled with the commercial power grid, if needed, during peak demand times. These generators also provide backup power for Stowe Ski area. There is a 50 KW back up back up generator that runs all of the emergency transmitter cooling equipment if the two main backup generators fail.
All of this generating equipment requires a lot of fuel.
The TV and FM broadcast antennas are located just below the peak
I don’t recall which TV station belongs to which antenna. The FMs are combined into the four bay, three around panel antenna, this includes WVPS’s HD radio signal.
From the very top looking west into the aperture of the TV antennas. I only stood there for as long as it took to get a good picture, then departed. Off to the left of this view is the antenna for Vermont Public TV.
The transmission lines go down the hill on a large ice bridge. An absolute necessity as the rime ice can sometimes accumulate several inches.
Tower base, which is the location of the highest RF concentration, according to the TV engineers. I only lingered here to snap a few quick photos.
All of the STL antennas are mounted to the side of the transmitter building next to the living quarters.
On top of all that, as if that weren’t enough, there is the view. I would also comment a bit on the weather. In some cases, the site can be completely engulfed in a grey dull fog bank one minute, then the wind changes direction, the sun comes out and you see this:
I can think of worse things.
I regret that I didn’t have a better camera with me as several of the pertinent pictures came out blurry. All of these pictures were taken with my cellphone camera, which works well, when it works. It is also very convenient because it is almost always with me and I don’t have to remember to bring another gadget. However, it this is going to be a semi-serious endeavor, I will have to take some of my earnings from these scribblings and buy a good camera.