‘Sometimes the Best Solution Is the Simplest’
Bill Harris is the market
engineering manager for Cumulus Media in Albuquerque, N.M.
Fig. 1: An inexpensive
alternative to a project box.
Fig. 2: A burned filament
Recently Bill needed to use a 120 VAC relay to switch a low-voltage DC
circuit at a transmitter site. He didn’t have any little project boxes or other
enclosures for mounting the relay. Then he spotted a spare plastic electrical
Bill cut a hole in the top to fit the socket, then cut a couple of slots
for the wires and taped it closed. Problem solved. The finished product is
shown in Fig. 1.
Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest. Thanks for sharing, Bill.
Phillip Vaughan is with KFRG(FM). He passes on
a neat technique that he discovered.
Having a number of studio equipment racks with very poor lighting
inside, Phillip used three or four white LED strips, mounting them to the back
wall and tying them to a voltage supply with a power switch.
When you need to work in the rack cabinet, just switch on the supply.
This eliminates the need for holding a flashlight or trouble lamp; and by using
several LED strips, the interior is illuminated nicely.
Phillip found the white LED strips on the MCM Electronics website. We
posted it on the Radio World Links page, radioworld.com/links.
Mike Murrey is technical operations director for TKC Inc./Vacationland
Broadcasting. He poses a question to Workbench
readers: “So what do you do when you don’t have a spare 25 ohm, 100 W filament
voltage rheostat lying around?”
answer was to break out the surgical gear and do his best (or worst, depending
on how you look at it).
filament rheostat burned (Fig. 2), Mike disassembled it (Fig. 3) and soldered a
nice, big blob of solder to serve as a wiper contact (Fig. 4).
Don’t laugh. It worked for about a week before he got a replacement installed.
Yes, it ran kind of hot, but not hot enough to melt the solder. Ha! Mike FTW!
Broadcast engineers have a knack for temporary fixes. We sometimes need
to think out of the box, just to keep equipment on the air. But the key word here
is temporary. All too often, a temporary
fix becomes permanent, and that’s not good for the engineer’s reputation or the
long-term viability of the station.
have to do something unorthodox, make up a sign to post on the equipment noting
its impermanence. This will ensure that you won’t forget about the “fix,” and
it will alert any other engineer who may stumble upon the equipment as to the
Fig. 3: Disassemble to
repair the bad contact.
Fig. 4: The repaired
rheostat with its solder blob contact.
Consultant and fellow
Radio World contributor Tom Osenkowsky chuckled as he read in Workbench about radomes that filled with
water because they’d been mounted upside down.
Tom tells of tower riggers using a fluorescent lamp to determine whether
an antenna bay was radiating. Not a bad idea except for the RFR exposure
issues. The same is true for unclogging radome weep holes: Be sure power is off
or greatly reduced.
He passes on a related tip: Insects can clog weep holes in the base of AM
Use caution when cleaning out these weep holes. More
than once someone trying to unclog a base has been scorched by boiling water
trapped inside. Of course, the RF to the tower is switched off when this happens,
but still. Give the water some time to cool before you start the cleaning
Contribute to Workbench. You’ll help your
fellow engineers and qualify for SBE recertification credit. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Fax to (603) 472-4944.
John Bisset has spent 43 years in the broadcasting industry
and is still learning. He is SBE certified and is a past recipient of the SBE’s
Educator of the Year Award. He recently joined transmitter company Elenos USA.