This is a replacement dish for the Comtech dish destroyed in a downburst event a few weeks ago. The first part of the job entailed the placement of the new dish on the ground. The town code enforcement officer was much happier with this idea than mounting it up above roof level along the back of the building as the old one was. Of course, this is possible due to the shift in satellites last year to AMC-18.
Finding a good spot on the radio station property was fairly easy. The studio is located in a business district, thus the sideyard requirements were zero feet, which is great. The building inspector required that we dig a test hole to see what type of soil was there. It turned out to be fill. That required the footing design to be changed somewhat and stamped by a licensed engineer. Not a major problem.
The footing is 36 inches wide by 7 feet deep.
The mounting pipe has flanges welded to the side of it to prevent it from spinning in the concrete.
After the pour, we let the concrete set up over the weekend.
The dish is assembled and waiting for lift. We used a backhoe to lift the dish onto the mounting pole, unfortunately, I was not able to take a picture as I was on a ladder attaching the dish to the pedestal with U-bolts.
Here it is installed and aimed at AMC-18. I used the Satellite Buddy, which makes the aiming job much easier. Once the signal is acquired, I like to peak the Eb/No on the West Wood One carrier, which seems to be the most sensitive to any type of change.
This satellite dish nearly broke off of its mount during a “macroburst” event. According to the National Weather Service:
A macroburst is a thunderstorm downdraft affecting an area at least 2.5 miles wide with peak winds lasting 5 to 20 minutes. The macroburst is a straight-line wind phenomena not associated with rotation…used to differentiate from tornadic
winds. Macrobursts can produce as much if not more damage as tornadoes due to the size and scope of a macroburst.
On May 15th a large group of severe thunderstorms triggered at least three tornadoes and one macroburst event in eastern New York and Western Connecticut. Winds in the macroburst area were estimated to be in the 85 to 105 MPH range.
The next morning, it took a long time to get the the clients studio. Trees where down everywhere, roads were closed, traffic lights not working, etc. This created numerous detours and traffic jams. When I finally arrived at a clients studio facility, this was the first thing I noticed:
That is an older 3.8 meter comtech dish hanging on by one 3/8 inch stainless steel U bolt. The funny thing is, they did not complain about this or the lack of satellite service. The main complaint was that the studios were on generator and some of the lights and air conditioners were not working.
This dish had originally been put up when AMC-8 was the main commercial radio network bird in the US. The dish elevation was only 9 degrees above the horizon, so this had to be put up next to the building at roof top level to clear the trees and see 139W.
I was attempting to secure the dish but in the end, the 650 pound dish was too tenuous and the weather was still unstable. There was other damage to the dish thus we decided to take it down instead. Even that took a bit of doing. We were trying find a crane or bucket truck, but all that type of equipment had been pressed into service with recovery efforts. We finally undid all the bolts and bracing and fell it like a tree.
The dish was then cut up and put in the dumpster.
The new satellite dish will be installed next to building in a lower position.
After a bit of reflection and a few good conversations over the New Year’s Holiday, I decided that I should continue my work on this blog. I would like to thank all those that have stuck by and waited. I have received numerous emails and messages offline, all of which have been read and appreciated.
Since the abrupt stoppage last July, which was absolutely necessary for me, many things have happened within the business. Fortunately, during the hiatus, I was still taking pictures. After sorting through them, here are a few interesting things that happened:
This project required many steel mounting posts to be driven into the ground around the AM towers. I don’t even know how many, but I would hazard a guess of over three hundred. Each one of those mounting posts was hand-dug down a depth of 6-10 inches to look for ground wires. Where ever a ground wire was found, it was moved out of the way before the post was set.
Basically, the solar array covers about 1/2 of the antenna array field. All of the steel mounting hardware is tied into the ground system, making, what I am sure is a pretty large above-ground counterpoise.
View from the south looking north:
View from the north, outside of the transmitter building, looking south:
Power company interface and disconnect:
The utility company had to upgrade the transmission lines to the nearest substation to handle the additional power produced by the solar system. All in all, it was a fun project to watch happen.
At a certain studio building, which is over 150 years old, the roof needed to be replaced. This required that the 3.2-meter satellite dish and non-penetrating roof mount be moved out of the way while that section of the roof was worked on.
Dish was ready to move, and all of the concrete ballast was removed and taken down from the roof. The roofing contractors constructed a caddy and the entire dish and mount were slid forward onto the area in front of it. Since the front part of the roof was not reinforced to hold up the satellite dish, we did not ballast the mount and the XDS receivers ran off of the streaming audio for a couple of days until the dish was put back in its original position.
A couple of other studio projects have been underway in various places. Pictures to follow…
One of our clients sold their radio stations to another one of our clients.
There has also been a bankruptcy of a major radio company here in the good ol’ US of A. Something that was not unexpected, however, the ramifications of which are still being decided on in various board rooms. One of the issues as contractors is whether or not we will get paid for our work. All things considered, it could be much worse.
Learned a valuable lesson about mice chewed wires on generator battery chargers. I noticed that the battery charger seemed to be dead, therefore, I reached down to make sure the AC plug was in all the way. A loud pop and flash followed and this was the result:
My hand felt a bit warm for a while. The fourth digit suffered some minor burns. There is at least one guy I know that would be threatening a lawsuit right now. Me, not so much… All of the high voltage stuff we work on; power supplies that can go to 25 KV, and a simple 120 VAC plug is the thing that gets me.
The return of the rotary phase maker.
Mechanically derived 3rd phase used when the old tube type transmitter cannot be converted to single phase service.
Those are just a few of the things I have been working on. I will generate some posts on current projects underway. Those projects include a 2 KW FM transmitter installation, another studio project, repair work on a Harris Z16HD transmitter, etc
Westwood One, Premiere, Skyview Networks, et al. will be changing their satellite from AMC-8 at 139° W to AMC-18/SES-11 at 105° W longitude. More from AMC8transition.com. There are several considerations for this move:
Dish design and two-degree compliance
Two degree compliance is going to be an issue for many stations. Those old 2.4 and 2.8 meter mesh dishes are going to have issues with 105º West because that is a very crowed part of the sky. From New York, it looks something like this:
TELSTAR 12 (ORION 2)
TELSTAR 12 (ORION 2)
Generally speaking, dishes need to be 3.7 meters (12.14 feet) or larger to meet the two-degree compliance specification. For many, this means replacing the current dish. This is especially true for those old 10-foot aluminum mesh dishes that were very popular in the 90s because of the TVRO satellite craze.
If the existing dish is acceptable, then the next issue may be obstacle clearance. Generally speaking, the 105-degree west slot (south of Denver) will be easier to see that the 139-degree west slot (south of Honolulu) for much of the United States. Still, there may be trees, buildings, hills, etc in the way. Site surveys can be made using online tools (dishpointer.com) or smartphone apps (dishalign (iOS) or dishaligner (Android)). I have found that I need to stand in front of the dish to get the best idea of any obstacles. While you are there, spray all the dish-holding hardware with penetrating oil like WD-40, Rostoff, or something similar. Most of these dishes have not moved since they were installed, many years or decades ago.
Transponder frequencies will not be the same, so when the dish is aligned to the new satellite, those frequencies will need to be changed. The network satellite provider will furnish this information when it becomes available. This generally requires navigating around various menu trees in the satellite receiver. Most are fairly intuitive, but it never hurts to be prepared.
The window of opportunity is from February 1, 2017 (first day of AMC-18) until June 30, 2017 (last day of AMC-8). Of course, in the northern parts of the country, it may not be possible to install a new dish in the middle of winter. It may also be very difficult to align an existing dish depending on how bad the winter is. Therefore, the planning process should begin now. A quick site evaluation should include the following:
Network Satellite Receive Location Evaluation
Dish is 2°compliant? (Y/N)
Distance to receiver location:
Dish Azimuth (T):
Dish Azimuth (M)
Dish Height AGL:
(permanent or removable? Owned or not owned?)
A .pdf version is available here. Based on that information, a decision can be made on whether or not to keep the old dish or install a new one. We service about 25 studio locations and I am already aware of three in need of dish replacement and two that have obstructive trees which will need to be cut. This work cannot start too soon.