Ukraine

I have been watching and listening to the news from Ukraine. It is somewhat horrifying to see the wanton disregard for human life. It is especially concerning when combatants begin shelling a nuclear power plant. A breach of one of those reactor containment buildings might have contaminated a wide swath of eastern Europe. Such an act demonstrates that the Russians no longer seem to care about anyone, themselves included. A man can be very dangerous when he has nothing left to lose.

I have known many Russians over the years through email exchanges, video chats, and meeting in person. People seem to be celebrating with glee over the sanctions but it just makes me sad. Obviously, the war of aggression is wrong. However, you cannot conflate ordinary citizens with the terrible acts of their government, whether in Russia or anyplace else.

Roskomnadzor is has removed almost all outside sources of information from the Russian internet. As of this writing; CNN, BBC, Facebook, Twitter, Google (YouTube) have all been band. Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty still exist, however, they are either on FM or use the internet for distribution.

Close up curtain array

I have to wonder if the VOA is going to step up with some shortwave broadcasts to the region. I know that the BBC as restored two frequencies so far. I believe that the European VOA relay sites have been shut down. That means either leasing time with someone or using Greenville. That is a long way away from eastern Europe, however, HF propagation is currently good and those old Continental 420As could use a little workout. Looks like they still have a row of curtain arrays aligned along 30-40 degrees true North.

Continental Electronics 420A 500 KW Shortwave transmitter

As the Chief Engineer of Radio Australia once said, HF will get through when nothing else will.

In the mean time, it might be a wise idea to dust off those old cold war contingency plans and review them. At appears a new iron curtain has arisen, stretching from St. Petersburg to Odessa.

Radio Guide; The Magazine

As some of you may have noticed, recently I have been writing some articles for Radio Guide. There are several good reasons for this, but the most important one is education. I believe that terrestrial radio will be around for a few more years. As others have noted, there are fewer and fewer broadcast engineers. Those that understand high power RF and all its intricacies are fewer still. It is important that a cadre of knowledgeable broadcast engineers carry on.

The internet is a great thing. However, it depends on cables of some type to exist. As we know, cables can be damaged. In addition to cables there are routers, core switches, servers and so on. All of that equipment can fail for various reasons. People have been working hard to improve the resiliency of the internet. That is a good cause, to be sure. However small it may be, there is still a chance that the internet can fail. Worse still, this can happen during some type of natural disaster or other emergency. Thus, during such an emergency, Radio can and will function as a vital information source provided that the station is on the air and has a program feed. That is also a good reason to keep the current RF STL paths in place as much as possible.

The Radio Guide articles are a great way to pass along some of that hard earned experience to others. I also want to put supplemental information here for those interested to download. Things like charts, forms, pictures, videos, etc.

What I am planning on is to list the articles here, then put links to any supplemental information provided below that sub heading.

A bit of good news?

We were doing some overnight maintenance on one of the class A AM’s in New York the other night. The aged Automatic Transfer Switch on the electrical service entrance needed to be replaced, thus the power to the entire facility needed to be cut while the old switch was removed and the new switch installed.

During this period, we took the opportunity to do some maintenance on the main and aux towers. All went well. We also notified the National Radio Club that the station was going to be off the air so that their members could log some rare DX. My thought process here was that we might also find a few daytimers who were still on the air or a DA night who was operating with their daytime facilities. A quick look at MW list shows that there are several such stations on 770 KHz:

MW list, North American 770 KHz

Alas, the answer was no, nobody was on the air who should not have been. Reports from Cape Cod, Massachusetts; New Foundland, Canada; Manassas, Virginia; West Union, South Carolina; and south west, Ohio have Cuban and South American stations on the air (Radio Artemisa, Radio Rebelde, Radio Oriental) but all of the east coast daytimers are off.

The 180 degree main mast for WABC is in good shape. You can deride AM and say it is outdated. However, it still gets out and covers vast distances.

The BE STX 10

We just finished installing one of these units on Mount Beacon for WSPK. Mount Beacon is around 1,500 feet high and is accessed by a road which is a little bit rough. After the snow flies, the only way to get there is a snow machine or perhaps a helicopter. Thus, whatever is installed there needs to be reliable.

BE STX 10 mounted in Middle Atlantic Rack, WSPK, Mount Beacon, NY

My first comment, I recall 10 KW FM transmitters being much larger. This unit is pretty compact and we probably could have fit two of them in this Mid Atlantic rack had we wanted to.

BE STX 10 FM transmitter

The transmitter itself is pretty simple, four RF modules powered by seven OEM switching power supplies with two fan power supplies, one for each fan unit. This is driven and controlled by a STXe 500 watt exciter.

The back has a 1 5/8 inch EIA flange output, some power connections, remote control interface, etc. Pretty simple overall.

I can also say, there was a noticeable improvement in the audio quality when this was placed in service.