Transmitter Buildings: Build or Pre-built?

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Most of the time when we plan to build a new transmitter site we're referring to the addition of a new transmitter, in an existing space, in an existing building. Rarely does one have the chance to build a new transmitter site from the ground up. If you were to be assigned that project, though, where would you start?

transmitter site

First, let's make the assumption that you already have a spot for the new building, and at this spot there is nothing but a patch of ground. It's a blank slate. Step one would be to make a list of requirements for the proposed structure:
■ What will the building contain?
■ What are the contents' electrical requirements?
■ How much heat do the contents generate?
■ What will the physical environment be like?
■ Will the structure be designed for future expansion of contents?

To answer the first three questions you will clearly need to have a plan for your transmitter facility -- probably a block-diagram (at minimum). Using a spreadsheet then you can easily list the space requirements, the electrical requirements, and heat generated by all of the proposed equipment.

What about the physical environment? By this I mean will the site be on a mountaintop in the desert, or in a more temperate climate (like northern California) or maybe even Alaska? The structure may have special requirements based on where it is to be located.

Perhaps the most difficult question to answer is the one on future expansion. You may only need 10' by 10' of floor space to accommodate your needs, but what about the possibility of future tenants, or your own expansion? Think about it: if the site is good enough to develop for one tenant (you) then isn't it quite likely someone else will also want to make use of it later on? In the future, expansion is always going to be more expensive (because things don't get cheaper as time moves on) so the time to invest in extra space is really at the outset of the design and construction.

Stick-built or pre-fab?

Once you have answered these questions, the next is whether or not to go with a stick-built structure (that is, built on-site) or with a pre-fabricated building.

Stick-built is going to appeal to some because there is a greater deal of control over the final result. The design can be custom; and as the customer you can be right there at the offices of the architect to provide all your input on how the building should be designed, and what it will look like. You can drop in to the offices of the MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) engineer to look over his shoulder to make sure all the electrical design is correct. You can go right to the construction site every day to visit your general contractor, adding your input on how well the process is going. His (or her) stress can become yours! And finally, you can be right there to make out the punch list yourself.

As you can probably tell, I'm not inclined to go with the stick-built route for a new transmitter building. If you still need to be convinced that a modular, prefabricated building is the better option, then let me add a few more points to do my best to change your mind.

- continued on page 2

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