Occasionally, I get to go for a nice walk in a snowstorm. No, I am not being sarcastic. It is the middle of March and winter has decided to make an appearance. One of the FM stations we take care of went off the air and the remote control was not able to get the transmitter to come back on, so a stroll through the woods was necessary. This station is located at Sam’s Point Preserve, in Craigsmore NY.
The site is owned by Vertical Bridge. There are a few tenants on the tower and fortunately, somebody left the gate open before it snowed. I was somewhat dreading trying to wrestle with it when I got to the site.
The problem itself seems to be due to a power hit; the main transmitter was off and the remote control, a wheezing Genter VRC-2000, was not able to control either the main or the backup. Those should be replaced at some point.
There are several other towers up here for various cell carriers, 911 dispatch, etc.
My SO decided to come along.
My phone said we walked 2.7 miles round trip, which sounds about right. The station is back on the air. When I can get up there with a vehicle in a few weeks, I will look into the remote control problem.
Greetings from the Roxborough tower farm, a place with roots. It is slightly northwest of Philadelphia, PA, and is home to many TV and FM stations. The public road that cuts through the tower farm is called Domino Lane because if one tower falls, they all fall. A comforting thought to those that live in the vicinity I am sure.
The reason for the visit; this rather nice GatesAir FLX20 transmitter:
I must admit, I am growing rather fond of these transmitters. This unit is being installed because the station had to move from its old site, just down the hill. The tower owner is taking down the tower and building due to the age of the tower. Thus, it was moved into the KYW-TV building. If Wikipedia is to be believed, KYW-TV is the oldest TV station in Philadelphia, signing on in 1932.
The site is still being built as we were installing this transmitter. These days, the electricians are having supply chain problems like everyone else. There were delays getting the large electrical panel board and other necessary things for the build-out.
Overall, the installation went well. This system is using flexible hoses for the coolant loop. We have installed two of these liquid-cooled transmitters with 1 1/2 copper pipe. These days, copper pipe is expensive, so most are opting for flexible hose installation.
Topping off the pump station after 50/50 fillup. After the initial system fillup, it takes a while for all of the dissolved air to come out of the Heat Transfer Fluid (HTF). The extra steps with a liquid-cooled system are worth it, especially if the station is running HD. With the HD carrier on, the transmitter efficiency is 54% AC to RF. With a TPO of around 15 KW, that is a whole lot of heat that needs to be dissipated during operation. It is much cheaper to pipe the heat outside to a heat exchanger than to use several tons of AC to remove it from the room.
Putting the finishing touches on another transmitter site rebuild, this time in central NY. This station for many years used this rambling white residential-looking structure for both the studio and transmitter site:
Unfortunately, over the years, the building has deteriorated beyond economical repair. A few years ago, the studio facility was moved to a new location in town. Now the transmitters are being moved to this repurposed cellular building:
This was purchased used from a local crane company, which had dozens of them on their lot after NEXTEL was absorbed by Sprint. During the permitting process with the town, they referred to it as a “Circular Use.”
They are actually nice buildings, coming prewired with a 200 amp single phase service, two working Bard HVAC units, ready-made coax entry ports, etc. My only complaint (so far), is the light switch timer. I like the idea, the lights get switched off automatically and are not left on for months at a time when nobody is at the site. However, the timer only goes up to 2 hours. Thus, when we were doing the installation work, periodically there would be an audible click, then everything would go dark. Not terrible.
There are also two other FM stations that have an STL transmitter here.
Recently, while working at a transmitter site built in the early 1940’s I noticed some fluorescent lights were out. Upon closer examination, I noticed that the bi-pin holder on one side of the bulb was damaged. This led to the removal of the fixture for repair, discovering these devices:
As this was made in Schenectady, NY, it is almost certainly original to the building. According to the EPA website, each one of these ballasts contains a capacitor with 3-4 ounces of PCB. There were 16 total fixtures, each with one ballast. The ballasts were removed and the fluorescent lamps were replaced with T8 120 Volt LED units. Any defective bi-pin lamp holders were replaced at the same time.
The danger posed by PCBs is minimal unless they leak or there is a fire. Partially burned PCB results in the production of dioxins, which are really bad. The old GE ballasts were properly disposed of.
The PCB capacitors and transformers were removed from the site many years ago. Other things that might have PCBs; are caulking and window glazing compounds.
That made me think; what else is around here? Several things came to mind.
The fluorescent bulbs themselves contain a small amount of mercury. This is not a problem unless the bulb breaks. If the bulb does break, the EPA recommends leaving the room for 15-20 minutes. Then carefully clean up the broken glass and place it in a plastic bag. Smaller particles can be cleaned up with the sticky side of masking tape or duct tape. Do not use a regular vacuum to clean up the broken glass, this will spray mercury around the room.
The fluorescent bulbs should be disposed of as hazardous waste.
Asbestos lagging on the hot water/heating pipes. As long as the lagging is intact, there is no problem. All of the pipe lagging in this building is intact and in good shape. With asbestos, the problems start when things are disturbed. Any type of work on those pipes will require a mitigation plan. Something to keep in mind if there are any building modifications being planned.
If old-style pipe lagging like this is falling off or has been partially removed, it is best to have an asbestos survey done. Newer style lagging will be either closed cell foam, open cell foam, or fiberglass insulation with a cardboard cover.
Other things that can have asbestos are floor tiles and siding.
The halon fire suppression system can be hazardous if one is in the building when it discharges. Of course, fire itself is also a hazard. It is something to be aware of if the alarm goes off.
Since this building was constructed way before 1978, lead paint is likely on the walls. Not a huge problem unless it is chipping off and you accidentally eat the lead paint chips or inhale pulverized lead paint dust. To clean these up, use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. Alternatively, wear a HEPA filter and use a dustpan and brush. Do not use a regular vacuum cleaner.
If building modification work is being done in areas that may contain lead paint, a properly certified lead paint mitigation contractor should be hired to remove the hazardous material.
None of these situations pose a direct safety threat, however, one should be aware of these potential issues in their work environment.