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Security Camera System

The security camera system at WICC has been installed for a month or so. The greatest feature of this system is the Blue Iris monitoring software. Two weeks ago while I was out there, we calibrated the motion detection on all four cameras. The results are astounding; there are least two red foxes, six to seven white tailed deer, and on the weekends, the place is busier than Grand Central station.

The night time images are interesting, people with flash lights walking down the beach at 1 am and a naked guy causally strolling by the front gate at midnight.  I will never go to this site at night without the police.  Never, so don’t even ask.   This is a video of a fence hopper with a can of spray paint in his hand:

Likely he was intending on some site beautification.  His friend is out of the frame to the left when the cameras are spotted. A few seconds later both can be seen running away on the North facing camera. I find that rather funny. This is a still picture:

Blue Iris screen shot

Blue Iris screen shot

On the right hand side of the screen, one can see all of the triggered events from all of the cameras.  The Blue Iris software is great, it can handle up to 64 IP cameras and has all sorts neat features; color coding cameras, record on motion, night time sensitivity settings, ability to NAT the camera interface to the public network, etc.  The Blue Iris also has an iPhone and Android client which will allow remote access to the Blue Iris server and the server can be set up to push events to the mobile device.  At $9.99, the app is a little pricey, but for high security situations, it might be just the ticket.

We also need to get some signage warning of trespassing and video surveillance and post them on the fences and buildings.

End of the day, time to go home

I took a few shots during the boat ride back from the WICC transmitter site today.  This has to be one of the more unique transmitter sites to access in the country.  Most of the time, the boat ride takes about five to ten minutes, depending on other vessels in the channel.  The dock at the island is in rough shape due to last month’s storm, but it is generally passable.

We are still working on repairing damage from Sandy.  Today was patching up the roof and trouble shooting the tower lights.  The tower light wiring, junction boxes and splices were all soaked by sea water, and there are several issues malfunctioning side markers and beacon lights.  We will be rewiring everything next week.

Departing Pleasure Beach Island, Bridgeport, CT

Departing Pleasure Beach Island, Bridgeport, CT

Shot over the stern looking at the two 1926 vintage Miliken towers. The square, self supporting towers are nearly ninety years old, most of which was spent in a salt air environment, as such these towers are in excellent shape. They knew how to make things back then.

The Port Jefferson Ferry, Bridgeport Harbor, CT

The Port Jefferson Ferry, Bridgeport Harbor, CT

The Ferry runs between Port Jefferson, NY (Long Island) and Bridgeport, CT carrying cars and pedestrians. There are no cars on this particular boat, so it must be out of service.

The pilot house on the Harbor Master boat

The pilot house on the Harbor Master boat

Looking into the pilot house of the Harbor Master boat. Looks a little crowded in there, I’ll just stay out on deck and enjoy the ride.  Sometimes it is the small things.

A day in Pictures

The aftermath:

Long beach

Long beach, this used to be an isthums, now it is a sand bar

A set of old stairs

A set of old stairs on the beach where the cottages used to be located.

Surf

Surf

100 lb propane tanks

Found the reason why the generator is not running

Propane tanks adrift

Propane tanks adrift from storm surge. There was a strong propane smell around these tanks, I secured all the valves.

WICC propane tank pad

Where the propane tanks should be

debris washed ashore during storm surge

Debris washed ashore during storm surge around north tower, including a section of dock

Second high tide after Hurricane Sandy, noon on Tuesday

Second high tide after Hurricane Sandy, noon on Tuesday, flooding ground system

three phase power line down

Three phase power line down due to wind

Three phase power line down

More wind damaged power lines

Telco wires taken down by trees

Telco wires taken down by trees

Generator room water level, as seen on the side of the battery

Generator room water level, as seen on the side of the battery

More work here tomorrow.

Update: Took longer than anticipated, but the station is back on the air with generator power as of 8:15 am, Thursday (11/1).  Commercial power restoration is not expected until Monday or Tuesday at the earliest.

Update: Commercial power restored on Thursday, 11/8 for a total outage of 10 days.  One good thing about incidents like this, I now have a fresh set of contacts for all the important people connected to servicing this site.

Graffiti

I wonder about such things. I wonder who would walk a couple of miles, climb over a chain link fence with some spray paint cans just to do this:

Spray Painted Graffiti, WICC transmitter building

Spray Painted Graffiti, WICC transmitter building

Why are they not doing something else?

Graffiti WICC transmitter site, Bridgeport, CT

Graffiti WICC transmitter site, Bridgeport, CT

Can’t even read what it says, what does it say?

E135D?  I've got my eye on you

E135D? I've got my eye on you

On the roll up door. What does that mean?

On an unrelated note, I wonder what Hurricane Irene thought of the Piping Plover nesting areas? Last year we were able to drive down the temporary road on the sandbar and deliver fuel, a new generator and remove stuff.  This was an issue because the Piping Plovers nest on the ground in the sand dunes.  Before we could use the road we were given a briefing by Connecticut Fish and Wild life where we were told that destroying a nest would result in a $75,000 fine.

Long Beach, Connecticut

Long Beach, Connecticut

As this area was completely washed over by the Long Island sound, the answer is “Not much.”

WEBE WICC studio build out

You know those fancy new facilities pictures with the accompanying article you can normally find in the trades?  The article usually expounds on how this guy made the decisions on purchase then these guys worked hard and pulled it all together.  Here is the works hard and pulling it all together story.

WEBE and WICC have been in the same studio building for several decades.  The Pacific Recorders and Engineering equipment, while great, is tired and worn out.  On top of that, an F1 tornado ripped the AC units off the roof last June, ripping the membrane and doing extensive water damage to the facility.

The cleanup/water damage mitigation took some time.  All of the carpet and ceiling tiles needed to be replaced.  The walls needed to be resurfaced with new drywall.  In some cases, modifications such as removing a storage closet from the engineering room, moving a door, building a new talk studio and WICC control room needed to take place.  In short, lots of dust, dirt and disruption to the station equipment and staff.  It has not been trouble free, as several times computers and consoles failed due to age and dirt.

Sometime about the beginning of December, new equipment and furniture began to show up and the project was underway.

Cumulus Bridgeport new equipment

Cumulus Bridgeport new equipment

All of the new equipment was stored in the program directors office.  Heh, the program directors office.

Cumulus Bridgeport new rack room

Cumulus Bridgeport new rack room

A new rack room was designed around the old one.  The old racks are out of the picture to the left.  The original rack room had a door into the hall, that has been replaced by viewing windows, the door has been moved to the engineering office, next door.  I kind of like the windows, it lets visitors see the fancy computers but keeps them out of the room itself.

Cumulus Bridgeport Op-X servers

Cumulus Bridgeport Op-X servers

The existing automation system is being replaced by Op-X.  This is the business end of the Op-X audio servers.  All of the network connections are Gigabit using Belden Mediatwist (1872A) Category 6 cable.

Cumulus Bridgeport wire wall

Cumulus Bridgeport wire wall

All the wiring from the studios and racks are brought to this wall.  The terminations are Krone LSA-PLUS blocks.  AES/EBU digital and analog audio is run on Category 5e cable.

Cumulus bridgeport wire wall Krone block

Cumulus bridgeport wire wall Krone block

Krone LSA-PLUS termination block with Belden Mediatwist cable.  All rack and studio wire runs are terminated on this style block.  Notice the wire labels, every run is labeled with both termination ends and use.  Mediatwist cable is fairly easy to work with, the pairs are bonded, so a special tool is recommended to quickly separate the wires.

Cumulus Bridgeport wire tray

Cumulus Bridgeport wire tray

Wire tray between the racks and wire wall.

WICC new Axia console installation

WICC new Axia console installation

The new WICC control room and talk studio.  The Axia consoles are pretty slick.  They are not a true mixing console in the traditional sense, they are more like a control surface.   Most all of the audio inputs are in the rack room, however, the microphones are digitized in the studio and sent over an IP network to the rack room.   All input and output channels are computer configurable and remote controllable.  Console inputs also have onboard mic preamps and full processing.

Cumulus Axia console set up

Cumulus Axia console set up

Axia console control software.

New WICC talk studio furniture

New WICC talk studio furniture

The new talk studio set up.  This is located where the news room used to be.  In order to stay on the air and maintain the old studios, a sort of musical chairs system needs to be played.  In the end, the WEBE studio and one production room will end up where they started, everyone else will be in a new space.  The news room will end up where the current WICC control room is.

Cumulus Bridgeport network switches

Cumulus Bridgeport network switches

Network audio switches.

Cumulus Bridgeport network patch panel

Cumulus Bridgeport network patch pane

Network patch panel, notice the T568B markings.

Currently, the program directors are loading all there material in the Op-X system.  The time schedule is to transfer WEBE into a temporary studio in about two weeks.

More updates as the project progresses.

Update: The new Axia equipment and Op-X automation is on line as of 2/24.   More pictures to follow.

Update 2: For more information on how the Axia consoles are made, check out A broadcast console makers perspective.

Update 3: More pictures:

WICC new studio with Axia console

WICC new studio with Axia console

WICC studio is nearly done, just a few odds and ends here or there.   This is located where the former talk studio was located.

WICC talk studio

WICC talk studio

WICC talk studio, host and four guest positions.  This is located where the former news room is.

Former WICC air studio, gutted

Former WICC air studio, gutted

This is the former WICC control room.  It has been gutted and several walls are being removed.  This will become the permanent WEBE control room when it is finished.

WEBE temporary control room

WEBE temporary control room

WEBE temporary control room.

WEBE old control room, gutted

WEBE old control room, gutted

The former WEBE control room, gutted.  All the carpeting has been removed and 1/4 inch drywall is going over the old, glue encrusted drywall.  This room will become a production room.

WEBE WICC rack room

WEBE WICC rack room

WEBE WICC rack room viewed from the hallway, approximately where the door to the room used to be.  The old racks to the left are being stripped out and removed.  All of the stations are now on the air from the new racks.

WICC Station Operating Report

From February 8, 1940:

WICC operating report, February 8, 1940

WICC operating report, February 8, 1940

I found this in one of the file cabinets at the transmitter site.  It was apparently used as scrap paper because there is what looks like connection information for a remote control system scrawled on the back.  I thought it was interesting in as it shows a 6 am sign on and the type of programming, source and exact times each element ran.  For Origins, YN = Yankee Network, BPT = Local Studio (Bridgeport) and NBC = NBC.  Program logs for later years (1943) show the Alarm Clock Salute was received via FM from W43B (Paxon, MA) on 49.3 MHz.

Sign off was at midnight.  It must have been cold in that little house out on the island in February.

Anyway, I’ll save these in my radio station history files.

Better Times at WICC transmitter site

The WICC transmitter site, Pleasure Beach in Bridgeport, has been cut off from normal access since the bridge to the island burned in 1996.  Since that time, access has been by boat with a 0.93 mile walk from the dock to the transmitter building.

Last summer, LVI Construction, under contract from the Town of Stratford, put in a temporary road and began removing the burned out cottages.  While that road is in place, the radio station has been able to access the site and get many important things accomplished.  These include:

  • Replacing the vandal damaged top beacon on the South tower
  • Removing several decades worth of stored crap, garbage, obsolete and unused equipment
  • Repair the electrical service to the building
  • Replace the generator transfer switch
  • Repair the Sonitrol building alarm
  • Replace the old Onan Generator
  • Have the power company replace the 3 phase circuit from the point where the under water cables come ashore to the transmitter building.

All of these projects should greatly improve the reliability of the station.  This should make Bill, happy, who appears to have a WICC chip implanted in his brain because every time the carrier is interrupted he posts about it on the radio-info.com website.

The biggest issue with the site was the utility feed from the shore to the transmitter building.  The original circuit was installed in 1936 when the station moved to the island.  It was old and the poles were all rotting and had horizontal cross arms.  Ospreys especially like the horizontal cross arms as they made good nesting spots.  That is, until the nest shorts out one of the phases catches on fire and burns the top of the pole off.  This has happened several times over the years causing many hours of off air time.

WICC new utility service

WICC new utility service

United Illuminating, the local utility company, was very cooperative and installed new utility poles, wires, breakers and transformers, this time with a vertical phase arrangement, which should keep the Ospreys off of them.  Additionally, the cottage removal project included installing Osprey nesting poles.

Pleasure beach cottages removed

Pleasure beach cottages removed

With almost all of the cottages now removed, the area looks much better than before.  Actually, it should be a nice nature preserve  and hopefully, the absence of the buildings might reduce the number of vandals in the area.  The work is almost done, so the road is about to be taken up. This means we need to wrap up the work out there, so the final push is on.

WICC transmitter building

WICC transmitter building

In the last three weeks, 10 truck loads of junk have been hauled out of the transmitter building and generator shack.   Over 1,500 pounds of scrap steel, 640 pounds of insulated wire, 2,000 pounds of particle board furniture, old t-shirts  and hats (something called “Taste of Bridgeport” which, if anyone knows what that was let me know), old propane tanks, batteries, etc.  We also managed to fix the fence and gate in front of the building, cut down the over grown yew bushes and bittersweet vines.

Transfer Switch

Transfer Switch

The old Kolher transfer switch was also an issue.  There was no place to mount a new switch inside and mounting one outside is out of the question, so the guts from the Kohler switch were removed and replace with an ASCO unit.  This was done in the summer of 2009.  The breaker on the right side is the main service disconnect for the building, which was installed in September.

Onan 12JC 4R air cooled generator

Onan 12 KW 12JC 4R air cooled generator, removed from service

Today, it was time to replace the Onan propane generator.  The old generator is an Onan 12JC-4R air cooled propane unit which was installed on April 4, 1969 at a cost of $1,545.00 new.  For many years, this unit gave reliable service, but it has many, many hours on it and it lacks the fault/self control circuits needed for remote (read desolate) operation.  Several times over the last few years, the generator would run out of gas or the propane tank would freeze up and the starter would crank until it burned out.

It was cold out on the island, with temperatures in the twenties and a bitter west wind blowing right into the generator shack.  All of this conspired to make  working conditions difficult.  Wind chill readings were in the single digits all day long, and in spite of long johns and extra layers, by 3 pm I was shivering and even several hours after coming inside, I still feel cold.

Using tractor to move new generator

Using tractor to move new generator

The new generator is an Cummins/Onan 20GGMA which is rated for 20 KW.  We used a John Deere bucket tractor to move the generator from the flat bed truck to the generator building, then push it inside.  The old generator wiring to the transfer switch was reused, but a piece of flex was used to connect to the generator instead of the solid conduit.  The building fan was also wired up so that it will run whenever the generator is running.

The generator load with all possible things switched on  and the transmitter running at full power is about 12,000 watts, but this would mean the air conditioner and tower lights were on during the daytime.  More likely, the transmitter will be at low power when the tower lights are on and the AC will be intermittent on/off at night.  At full load, this generator uses slightly less than 2 gallons of propane per hour.  At half load, I’d estimate that to be 1.4 or so gallons.

Cummins Onan generator in new home

100 pound propane gas tanks

100 pound propane gas tanks

HOCON gas came out and connected six 100 pound propane tanks in series, which should prevent tank icing.  Propane weights about 4.11 pounds per gallon, therefore the fuel supply should last about 100 hours, or 4.5 days, give or take.  Why 100 pound tanks?  Because we will have to shuffle them back and forth between the dock and the generator shed, a journey of about one mile, in a cart.  Anything larger would be impossible to deal with.  Even so, refilling the propane will be a 2 person job and will likely take all day.

Axiom


A pessimist sees the glass as half empty. An optimist sees the glass as half full. The engineer sees the glass as twice the size it needs to be.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
~1st amendment to the United States Constitution

Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.
~Benjamin Franklin

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is hard business. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
~Rudyard Kipling

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers
~Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, Article 19

...radio was discovered, and not invented, and that these frequencies and principles were always in existence long before man was aware of them. Therefore, no one owns them. They are there as free as sunlight, which is a higher frequency form of the same energy.
~Alan Weiner

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