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September Last revision Sept 10, 2022

Next Meeting: We meet in Topeka at the State Capitol Building on Tuesday September 13 at 4:00 PM, for a guided tour of the building and a peek at John Langer's area of responsibility there. See map for parking. Pizza and water will be provided with soft drinks available to purchase, if you prefer those. Please RSVP to John at the e-mail listed below ASAP. If we have enough people attending, we might get a professional tour, if not, John has the script, but he does need to know ASAP.

Last Meeting: Eleven of us met Monday August 8 in the studios of KTWU. Tim Annett hosted the event in lieu of Gary Krohe, who was absent for health reasons. Chairman Dick Abraham opened the meeting at 7:00 PM and requested a motion to accept the meeting notes posted in the August newsletter as official minutes of the July 12 SBE-3 meeting. John Langer moved, seconded by Duane Loyd to make it so, and the motion passed on vote of those in attendance.  SBE-3's Robert Nelson gave the Treasurer's report. It was accepted on motion of Rod Rogers, seconded by John Langer, and passed with an affirmative vote of those present.  Robert also introduced a new SBE-3 member, Jacob Cummins, who graduated from KSU and is still doing work for the college FM station, KSDB. Robert also said there may be another student ready to join our chapter, Nick Homburg. Welcome to them both! 

John Langer reviewed the next few programs for our chapter. September 13 will be a tour of the Kansas State Capitol Building. John requested and RSVP of those planning to attend. If we get enough people for the tour, we stand a good chance of getting a professional guided tour. If we don't, John still has the script, and will give tour himself, but he would rather have a professional guide do it since they know more of the back stories that go with any tour. Chairman Dick Abraham also stated that all incumbent officers are eligible for another term in their present offices and have agreed to do so, but encouraged for additional names to be added to the ballot, but had no takers from those attending.  There being no other business, Tracy Gibson moved to adjourn the business meeting to the program for the evening. Ron Jones seconded the motion and we stood adjourned following a vote by those present at 7:14 PM.

Our program was given by Jeff Wilson who had brought Jeff Welton with him. Both are Regional Sales Managers for Nautel, Wilson has the Western half of the US, and Welton the Central US. Jeff Welton gave a Power Point program of 50 tips and tricks for those servicing transmitters, developed for Nautel's fiftieth anniversary. He has been with Nautel for 32 years, and has accumulated a wealth of knowledge and stories of interest to broadcast engineers during those years. The Nautel guys also brought a frequency agile transmitter contained in a 3 rack unit package for our inspection. He said he could completely disassemble and reassemble all parts of it with a small screwdriver. They recommended it as a spare part for engineers that are responsible for several transmitters, and pointed out the advantage of being able to get back on the air, even if it is at a lower power than that for which you are licensed. You must notify you FCC, of course, but you should also talk with your GM, letting him know that you were the one that kept their programming intact. He recommended regular coordination with your managers to keep them advised of your activities.

Doing so often turns your job from a questionably necessary expense to an asset for the company. He encouraged regular activity reports be given to management even if you don't meet face to face on a weekly basis. Jeff also told of a rare manager who, when he was called out for maintenance on some equipment for that station, was met by the manager who took him to the site, showed him the gear to be worked on, then stayed in the background, but always seemed to have the next tool needed in his hand. He took him to lunch after the job was finished, or at least filled up his truck before sending him on his way. Jeff said that was a rarity, and I believe him, but such action made you ready to go back there on short notice, if need be. Jeff told in his tips presentation, how important it is to maintain a log of maintenance and how easy it is to add regular meter readings to that log. So doing allows comparison of readings to determine a piece of gear that is beginning to fail, and lets you fix a problem before it takes you off the air. Making your manger aware that you saved him down time by curing a problem before it cost him outage time makes you more valuable to the company. Jeff gave us some Nautel resources that you can use to make you better at what you do. They are a Nautel Newsletter, Nautel Webinars, and Nautel user tips on You Tube, and may be found at:https://www.nautel.com for each item, followed by /newsletters/ ; /webinars/ ; or: /user/NautelLtd; respectively.  A great evening filled with informative conversations! Our thanks to Jeff Wilson and to Jeff Welton for their time in sharing with us.

This is amazing in its miniaturization alone, comparing it to an FM transmitter of not many years ago. It is frequency
agile, fully remote controlled, and with the addition of another 3 rack unit amplifier, can replace most US FM stations.

Most of those attending our SBE-3 meet are pictured here on this fine August evening.

Jeff Wilson, Left, and Jeff Weldon on the Right. Our program presenters for the August SBE-3 meeting. Good tips & great conversation at this gathering.

In July, the wife and I finally made it out camping in the 5th wheel RV. We were late this year since the RV was in the shop for several items, including the replacement of seals on the sliders. When I got it back and dewinterized it, I had a problem with the water supply to the hot water heater. Part of the winterizing process is to bypass the water heater, in case you want to go out camping again without refilling the water heater tank. When I tried to reverse the process, one of three small plastic valves stuck on me, then the plastic handle broke off and I replaced it with a slightly larger brass ball valve. The bypass harness was PEX plastic, so I had to borrow my son-in-law's PEX crimp tool. I rebuilt as much as I could outside the small confines of the cabinet, but the tool wouldn't fit inside the cabinet to finish up the last fitting, so I substituted a loop of clear plastic tubing and used standard screw clamps as are common on radiator hoses, only smaller. Finally, we could fill the hot water heater tank. It still was a couple of months before we could clear our calendar to go camping. Once there, I noticed a strong rotten egg smell in the hot water. I Googled the problem and discovered it was a common occurrence, especially when water sets for a period of time in the tank. It seems there is an anaerobic bacteria that feeds off the magnesium in the anticorrosion anode in the heater tank causing H2S, and their cures were to flood the tank with an mixture of water and vinegar. In the ratio they wanted, I would have had to obtain at least three gallons of vinegar, so I decided to simply flush the tank. I had a five gallon bucket available, so I took it outside to the shower handle and faucet located near the city water input. Removing the shower head, which got rid of one of the water flow restrictors, I let the hose fill the bucket. The first bucket was pretty gray looking from the H2S in it, and it stunk! I poured the buckets full into the park's 4" sewer connection and ran two more buckets through the ten gallon RV tank with the last bucket looking quite clear. That seemed to remedy the problem, and the hot water no longer smelled like rotten eggs, although I may have to repeat the flush process when we go out again next month. I may have to drain the hot water tank between trips to prevent the build up of the bacteria.

Jeff Welton made a very good point in his presentation. That was to not work alone when it is possible to get anyone else to go with you. He has lost three friends over the years for that very reason. They were lost because there was no one to call for help when it was needed. One friend bled out after hitting his head on an open exciter drawer, after tripping on something on the floor. Another had a heart attack. Your assistant need not be a technical person at all, but it helps if they can hold a flashlight, or be able to hand you a tool when needed. But the most important thing is that they can call for help if needed.  Barring that possibility, at least have a check in/out routine with someone when you are on a job alone. I have used this method when alone on trips to cut firewood while clearing and trimming up a hedge row for a rancher. I got the firewood, and he didn't have to take the dogs with him to chase cattle out from under the low hanging hedge trees when he wanted to work with them. I always checked in and out with his wife or with him when on their property. Once I checked out, they never had to worry if I was laying under a tree that fell the wrong way, or if I got disabled from a chain flying off my chainsaw and hitting me, and my wife didn't get that person at the door saying, "We are sorry to inform you that ........." 

Here are a few other of the tips and tricks offered by Jeff Welton:

    Label everything!
    Ground everything to one common ground to prevent ground loops.
    Periodically record all meter readings. Save those that are SMPT generated to a cloud file.
    Check all electrical connections made by screw pressure. Torque if specified.
      Scan with a thermal camera and save to file for later comparisons.
    Test your EAS units periodically and have written instructions on how to generate an event or a test.
    Use stainless steel wool on building holes to keep it critter proof.
    Do and log Visual inspections. Trim brush and trees from fences and around buildings.
    Use Ferrite toroids over pairs entering or exiting the building.
    Have spare keys available at each site, or better yet, use waterproof combination locks.
    Always use a ground stick on high voltage. Use lockouts at breaker boxes.
      Always measure before you touch, and don't work alone if possible.
    Keep an up to date maintenance log. Who, what, when, time in, time out, etc.
    Change default passwords when you install new gear. Change all passwords again when employees change status.
      Change again if someone in your organization gets hacked.
    Use a VPN, free or paid, to prevent getting hacked.
    Have spare parts on hand, or know where you can get those you don't have. Work with other engineers in the area to
      compile a list of spare parts available to anyone in the pool, but do it ahead of time, and make sure the GM's are good
      with the mutual benefit of keeping on the air.
    Carry a survival kit if you travel. A trail mix bar can help keep you sharp if you get stuck at a site with unexpected
    Have regular time scheduled with your managers. Keep them updated on what you are doing and why.
      Be familiar with the cost of operation, including non cost factors such as ease of use.
    Interface with your peers. It helps keep you current with the latest technology. SBE is a great way to do this.
    When cleaning, use a vacuum cleaner with a grounded wand rather than trying to blow dust off of equipment or its
      circuit boards.
    Carry spare batteries for your test gear.
    Do use surge protectors, but make sure they are connected to the station reference ground.
    Put a library of manuals on cloud storage. 30

Newsletter Editor: R.W. Abraham

CPBE / CBNT Regional Engineer Cox Cable Wichita Retired


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