WILQ rebuilds transmitter site

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A joy ride becomes a prolonged project for WILQ.

The new building

With WILQ operating at full power from the temporary shed, and everything except the Onan power generator removed from the remaining concrete pad, construction of the new building was ready to take place. We discussed, at length, the best way to proceed. There were precast buildings available, which I am a big fan of, however, we ran into a couple of obstacles for a precast. One was the winding road leading up to our mountain site and two, our site sits on land that is owned by the Forestry Department, from whom we lease. The winding road bore tales of other communication companies trying to maneuver a flat bed truck carrying a precast building and dumping its load. Taking a look at the paved road and a couple of the hairpin curves on it, I thought a skilled driver may be able to make it, but we really didn't have the time nor the stomach to risk losing a precast building. Doing this in November in Pennsylvania only added to the fire. Or should I say snow? Besides, if we did actually get a precast building to our site, we would have to renegotiate our lease with the Forestry Department as we would be making a major change. We made the decision to build a cinder block building on the remaining concrete pad exactly the same size as the old one.

Near completion, the new building sat empty for several weeks before equipment could be moved in.

Near completion, the new building sat empty for several weeks before equipment could be moved in.

The opportunity to build a fresh building has some advantages. Considering the old one was built in the late 1940s, we had the pleasure of constructing something a little more modern. We did not need four small rooms on the footprint of the building, but rather a small room to house the power generator and one large room for the equipment and workbench. The plans were drawn to accommodate the new design. Working with a local architect, we also decided to insulate the building and put a pitched roof on it with concrete pavers lining the top for ice protection. We also agreed to not install any windows.

A long time ago, a wise old engineer once told me that if you keep the transmitters cool and clean they work forever. Keeping with that tradition, cooling and cleanliness were of top priority. Because the site is on top of a mountain subjected to the Northeastern climate and being only a 5kW TPO, air conditioning was really not needed. The transmitters would vent into the room and a thermostatically controlled 36" exhaust fan would remove any additional heat. The fan would also have gravity-controlled louvers that would close when not running. Clean air intake from the outside was accomplished through a 36" opening on the opposite end of the building. The air intake would have two special requirements. It needed to have a filter box to filter incoming air from any dust, dirt or small insects. It also required a motorized damper that would open when the exhaust fan would turn on. One very important aspect of the motorized louvers is the ability for them to open upon removal of control voltage. The theory behind this is simple: If for some reason the motor or the electric controlling the damper motor fails, the louvers would open and not starve the building for fresh air. Even if a failure happens in the winter months, the heat from the transmitters would be sufficient to keep the building above freezing.

Everything installed and back on the air

Everything installed and back on the air

The construction of the new building lasted until the second week of December 2008. When completed, mother nature decided to do what she normally does in winter in the Northeast. There the building sat with its walls and roof built protecting it from the elements. It did not have electricity or transmitting equipment. It would stay in that condition until February 2009 when we would start populating the building.

Moving in

In building the actual RF facility, we decided to lay out the footprint of the equipment with the future in mind. We did not want to box ourselves in with regards to future tenants or technological advances beckoning at our door. The facility would consist of the Harris Z 5CD, Harris HT-5 and an equipment rack. A wire ladder-rack system was installed above the transmitters and rack making a 90 degree turn toward the back wall of the building where the transmission line bulk head was installed. We were able to populate the RF facility with the Harris HT-5 and equipment rack while still operating from the temporary shed with the Harris Z 5CD. My assistant, Dan Gurzynski, would then proceed to plumb in the HT-5 and dummy load to the Dielectric antenna switch. He would also install the ground system consisting of 2" copper strap.

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