Saturday Morning Curse

A case of PEBKAC (Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair)? Tell us about your war stories!
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NECRAT
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Saturday Morning Curse

Post by NECRAT » Sat Mar 05, 2016 11:30 am

Several months ago, we launched a Saturday morning newscast. Because I work dayside on Saturdays, naturally I was shifted into running engineering for this shift. Well it seems like every Saturday, some bizarre technical issue crops up, or a major failure, that doesn't happen the rest of the week. So we've started dubbing it, "The Saturday Curse".

Here are the last three weeks by example.

Two weeks ago: Switcher Automation issue. Had to reboot 10 minutes before newscast

Last week: Switcher issue. The switcher's main control unit decided to start going south, and the main config became corrupt. Fortunately a backup config was able to load, and we got the news on ok. Then a set monitor (very large touch screen)'s extension cord caught on fire. Turns out, no one actually decided to measure the current of the devices. 17 amps through a plug rated at 15 tops, worked out wonders.

This morning: Main exciter 30 minutes prior to news decided to start failing. Couldn't get remote to switch. Drove (fast) to the TX to switch to the backup. (Failed power supply).

So now I wake up on Saturday and wonder what the failure today will be!!
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"Arguing with an engineer is like mud wrestling with a pig. After a couple of hours, you realize the pig likes it"

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kkiddkkidd
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Re: Saturday Morning Curse

Post by kkiddkkidd » Sat Mar 05, 2016 12:22 pm

NECRAT wrote:
So now I wake up on Saturday and wonder what the failure today will be!!
As long as you wake up capable of wondering, you are in good shape...
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Kevin C. Kidd CSRE/AMD
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KK Broadcast Engineering
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RGORJANCE
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Re: Saturday Morning Curse

Post by RGORJANCE » Sat Mar 05, 2016 1:51 pm

I think this REALLY deserves a separate category that might simply carry a title like "CURSES-FOILED AGAIN", or maybe a a different, more appropriate title. There has to be lots of good learning experiences that could be revealed.

Fossil

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Shane
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Re: Saturday Morning Curse

Post by Shane » Sun Mar 06, 2016 1:43 am

kkiddkkidd wrote:As long as you wake up capable of wondering, you are in good shape...
We call that on the right side of the dirt.
Mike Shane, CBRE
---Omaha---

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Shane
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Re: Saturday Morning Curse

Post by Shane » Sat May 14, 2016 6:25 pm

We had a holiday curse for awhile. Every time a holiday weekend was approaching we could depend on SOMEthing getting out of whack, be it the automation, a transmitter or an STL. Sometimes there'd be a hint of trouble to come on Friday. Sometimes the trouble started on Friday.

Either way, if it was an STL issue (all on leased lines mostly nailed up ISDN) and it happened after 3pm Friday we could pretty much expect to be on some sort or other of backup facility until Monday when everything finally got put into whack - which is always better than out of whack.
Last edited by Shane on Sat May 28, 2016 11:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Saturday Morning Curse

Post by awsherrill » Sun May 15, 2016 8:06 am

For about three years running, I was getting called out on Mother's Day, usually for off-air situations at small-market stations an hour away.

One year, a T-1 circuit got fubar'ed by a phone tech at a transmitter site. The next year an isocoupler burned up at another site and took down two AMs. The third year I forgot what happened, but I let somebody else take care of it.

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KPJL FM
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Re: Saturday Morning Curse

Post by KPJL FM » Tue May 17, 2016 7:28 am

Whenever I know I'm going out of town for a few days, I stop by the transmitter the week before and tell it to behave, 'cause I'm out of town that weekend (the weekend BEFORE I'm going). All failures happen that week, and the week I'm gone is usually peaceful.

They are listening to us. Mine are pretty well trained, when they hear me say 'one more time, and I'm getting the big hammer!' the damn things start working like they should.

Just like spoiled kids, they are.
Trim to fit, paint to match, tune for minimum smoke.

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Re: Saturday Morning Curse

Post by Deep Thought » Tue May 17, 2016 8:16 am

KPJL FM wrote: 'one more time, and I'm getting the big hammer!' the damn things start working like they should.
About 38 years ago I tended a rather persnickety 100 watt EMCEE UHF translator. The station's CE mentioned that it sometimes had an issue starting up in the morning (this was back when TV stations actually signed off for the wee hours). One day I noticed that it had a rather large footprint on the side near the PA supply contactor. Evidently, that day the big hammer wasn't available... :lol:
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ChuckG
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Re: Saturday Morning Curse

Post by ChuckG » Tue May 17, 2016 5:49 pm

Deep Thought wrote:One day I noticed that it had a rather large footprint on the side near the PA supply contactor.
That's also how you got the AFC to lock back up on an AT&T microwave link.
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Re: Saturday Morning Curse

Post by kcbooboo » Wed May 18, 2016 5:55 am

I had a problem with a Continental 20kw FM that would respond to kicking its right end panel. It would trip the plate breaker for apparently no reason every once in a while, requiring a site visit to reset it of course (they didn't go so far as to mount a solenoid above it but they did replace that breaker). After replacing the SCR gating cards and one (of three) control xfmrs, they tried swapping some 28V 3PDT plug-in relays located along the right side, but that prevented the xmtr from even turning on, so they were put back where they were. That should have been a clue but it wasn't picked up at the time.

Eventually when everything else had been replaced, we started tracing the signals, which led us to the relay. As soon as the cover was removed, the problem was spotted. One of the three flexible leads from the moving armature contacts to one of the quarter-inch male terminals in the relay base had never been soldered. The wire had been placed through the hole and folded over but that's as far as it got. A quick 15 second application of the soldering gun and some solder, plus a check of the other two leads, and the relay went back into service. Problem fixed. Manufacturing quality control issue.

Turns out that the slight vibration from the fan atop the right cabinet would jostle the relay enough to cause it to open up. The relay was feeding 3-phase voltage to the SCR gating cards and when one phase was lost, the imbalance in the SCR current caused the plate breaker to trip. You can run the xmtr with one gating card or all three, but not just two.

So kicking it would eliminate the engineer's frustration but delay the inevitable intermittent loss of contact.

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Re: Saturday Morning Curse

Post by RodeoJack » Thu May 19, 2016 10:16 am

Strategic kicking can be useful. Back in my teens, doing that to the bottom of an old Collins 21B, just at the moment the interlock clock timed out, contributed to establishing me as a "useful troubleshooter" (pre "chief-engineer" days).

Swapping out a cranky oscillator box had more to do with the fix, but the kick was visually effective.

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RGORJANCE
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Re: Saturday Morning Curse

Post by RGORJANCE » Sat May 28, 2016 10:31 am

Well, after reading the responses and getting some chuckles, it was my turn in the hot seat at a relatively decent 730am today. Got a call that an FM was off the air. Dialed in with Mr. Burk, and was getting nuttin! Tried to go to the backup, nope nuttin! Got one of the local guys to go to the site (I'm 60 miles out) and we determined the 3 phase was down, and of course, the gen didn't start for some weird reason. After about 5-8 minutes of over the phone instructing, the 3 phase returns and we get the backup on the air, as the ckt breaker for the main was tripped. He reset it.

Fast fwd, I get out of my barking doggie slippers and into street clothes for the 60 mile journey. Arrive at the site to find the aux on the air and the main cruisin merrily at full power into the dummy. Got everything restored and now everyone in ownership down to the grunts are happy. Did the routine checks and got back in the car for the 60 mile trip back home for breakfast and lots more coffee.

Then the wife starts in with her emergencies.............

Fossil

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Shane
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Re: Saturday Morning Curse

Post by Shane » Sat May 28, 2016 11:21 am

And unlike Mrs. Burk you can't hang up on the wife!
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Deep Thought
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Re: Saturday Morning Curse

Post by Deep Thought » Sat May 28, 2016 12:00 pm

Shane wrote:And unlike Mrs. Burk you can't hang up on the wife!
Well you can, but the callbacks are painful. :shock:
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Re: Saturday Morning Curse

Post by RGORJANCE » Sat May 28, 2016 12:12 pm

I have learned, after 50 plus years of marriage, that I usually try to stand, or do my serpentine moves just out of reach of the rolling pin. However, the shock wave is a different matter as it varies in intensity with temp, and humidity, not to mention the other aspects of the situation.

Fossil

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