Have you ever accidently taken yourself off the air?

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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Have you ever accidently taken yourself off the air?

Post by NECRAT » Thu Mar 27, 2008 6:18 pm

Have you ever taken your self off the air? and what is the worst thing you did, in doing so...

About three weeks ago, I moved our HD switcher in the rack to another piece of equipment. Unfortunatley for me, I missed the fact the switcher is vented on top. Because I "sandwich" mounted it, the switcher overheated and froze. At 11pm, we aired color bars on our HD (and then Letterman timings) instead of the local newscast. By the time the switcher cooled enough to be back in operation, it was well past when Letterman began so we lost an entire newscast.
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Re: Have you ever accidently taken yourself off the air?

Post by Muadeeb » Thu Mar 27, 2008 7:38 pm

Once, when working on the remote control of an active ND-5, interfacing it into a new RC. All the controls were brought out with shielded wire, and everything was punched on a 66 block, except the shield. It wound up dangling across the PWM-Kill contact. It took a couple of moments before I realized I couldn't hear the transmitter modulating any more. I dunno how long it was off, but the PWM terminal in the transmitter was lifted and taped until the new logic was activated.
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Re: Have you ever accidently taken yourself off the air?

Post by BroadcastDoc » Thu Mar 27, 2008 7:41 pm

Oh yeah...

Back when my AM was brokered religious programming.

I was working in the rack with the processor, and inadvertently unplugged it. The station was silent for 40 minutes before I noticed that it was unplugged.

The sad part is that it was the middle of a weekday afternoon, and nobody noticed. Nobody called the station, and no-one in the studio knew.
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Re: Have you ever accidently taken yourself off the air?

Post by awsherrill » Thu Mar 27, 2008 11:53 pm

I've been at my current job a bit over two years and I'm discovering lots of the "land mines" that the previous guys left.

A few months ago, I was at the transmitter site for our big-dog, million-a-month billing FM station. I was overseeing the tech people from the SCA tenant who were switching around some of their subcarrier gear in one of our racks.

This is a really impressive site with three co-located analog TV signals along with our FM. Our FM is in a large room with one of the TV transmitters.

So the subcarrier people are pulling a chassis out of the rack, and it drags across a relay that was lying on top of a pile of wire in the bottom of the rack. An open frame relay with a 120-VAC coil. BAM! Down goes the FM. Down goes the TV. Phone starts ringing off the hook.

I'm thinking the momentary AC short popped a breaker somewhere, so I'm running around like mad looking in all the panels and not finding anything. It takes about five minutes before I realize that the thing that's beeping over in the corner is a big honkin' UPS, and it's not happy. All it needs is a reset. The dead racks come back to life, the FM exciter starts working again, and the TV transmitter starts going kerchunk...kerchunk...kerchunk as the visual and aural cabinets come back on.

The subcarrier techs felt bad about things, so I got a nice lunch out of it. The relay was somebody's way of bypassing the EAS box at the site (we are a Primary Entry Point station). It was removed posthaste.

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Re: Have you ever accidently taken yourself off the air?

Post by NECRAT » Fri Mar 28, 2008 7:27 am

My old station's analog transmitter was "backwards" wired. In this style of transmitter (A Comark S series IOT), the modulators are fed power via the converter/low wattage amplifier combo. They are supposed to be discreetly wired, (1 feeds 1 feeds 1, etc). Well one of the two converters was down due to an RF issue, so we were on converter #2. All of a sudden our forward power started fluctuating from 100-60%.
I talked to our chief who was at this big convention that's held in April in Las Vegas.. (hmm..). He said to switch over to converter 1 (physically move the cable). OK done. Then to remove converter #2 to look at the attenuator which was probably arcing inside. So we power down converter #2... Bam, off the air. Turns out, the power for BOTH modulators came from Converter #2. It was decided from that point, we need to take a required momentary off air time to fix the issue inside converter 2. So me and another tech, in the middle of the Saturday today show, took the station off the air for 20 minutes to attempt a fix. (It didn't work. I ended up working on it overnight and partially fixing it).

The station I am at now, had a mis-adjusted AGC. (Those of you who use Thales IOX transmitters will know what I am talking about). So when I changed "pattern" to put one tube on the air, the one tube's arc detectors fired. (The AGC wasn't reducing the RF before pattern change, and started INCREASING the RF instead!). There we go, off the air, until I was able to normaize the pattern. I guess they had had this issue for a couple of years. After adjusting it, I can now change patterns without any issues. =)
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Re: Have you ever accidently taken yourself off the air?

Post by K9EZ » Fri Mar 28, 2008 7:29 am

You guys should see this transmitting "Campus"! And specifically this site Allen talks about. When you drive up to it, it looks like a shrine... or more like the pyramids. Oh and it doesnt hurt that there are a few 2000' towers kicking around.
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Re: Have you ever accidently taken yourself off the air?

Post by rockmanac » Fri Mar 28, 2008 9:05 am

NECRAT wrote:Have you ever taken your self off the air? and what is the worst thing you did, in doing so...

About three weeks ago, I moved our HD switcher in the rack to another piece of equipment. Unfortunatley for me, I missed the fact the switcher is vented on top. Because I "sandwich" mounted it, the switcher overheated and froze. At 11pm, we aired color bars on our HD (and then Letterman timings) instead of the local newscast. By the time the switcher cooled enough to be back in operation, it was well past when Letterman began so we lost an entire newscast.
At my old station the switch from NBCHD to upconvert was done through a GPI trigger on the automation system. A few times it refused to fire or was inadvertently left off the newscast and we'd be airing NBC bars / tone on the DT (prior to them feeding Leno) instead of our 10pm news. I also walked in a few times when I was doing the morning show to find Early Today on the DT instead of Access Hollywood because something didn't correctly trigger overnight. We were not staffed from midnight to 4:30AM in Master Control, so if things didn't correctly fire on the end of Conan, we would not know until the next person walked in.

I once was running prime time and a button popped off our MC switcher after I rolled a break. Trying to put it back on, I accidentally popped up the weather camera and the meteorologist sitting at the desk, with his feet on the desk, watching one of the other stations for like 5 seconds. In hindsight, I probably should have bypassed the MC switcher before trying to put the button back on.

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Re: Have you ever accidently taken yourself off the air?

Post by Sam Buca » Fri Mar 28, 2008 10:36 am

Doing routine maintenance at the AM during PM drive and when the pull out drawer of the SX-5 locked open, the vibration was enough to send the bad wiper on the loading coil into a hissy fit. Arced for a few seconds and then clunked off. Bringing it back up would just cause more arcing. Had to deoxit the thing and fiddle with it.

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Re: Have you ever accidently taken yourself off the air?

Post by countrykev » Fri Mar 28, 2008 11:19 am

This one may sound too simple:

How many of us have accidentally hit the "down" button instead of "channel" on a Burk that just so happened to be set on the channel that is "Plates off"
What the heck am I supposed to write here?

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Re: Have you ever accidently taken yourself off the air?

Post by BroadcastDoc » Fri Mar 28, 2008 11:43 am

Oh hell yes! :D

I do that on a frequent basis, actually!
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Re: Have you ever accidently taken yourself off the air?

Post by KPJL FM » Fri Mar 28, 2008 11:46 am

countrykev wrote:This one may sound too simple:

How many of us have accidentally hit the "down" button instead of "channel" on a Burk that just so happened to be set on the channel that is "Plates off"
that's normal procedure, and, I think it's in Burk's instruction manual. Required operation at least 2x per year. :oops: :lol:

Then again, removing some of the wiring on the IP8 panel while changing xmtrs, then the large CRACK, flash of light, smoke, etc., because previous engineer wired 120 or 240 remotes from older xmtr directly to the Burk.
Trim to fit, paint to match, tune for minimum smoke.

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Re: Have you ever accidently taken yourself off the air?

Post by Muadeeb » Fri Mar 28, 2008 11:48 am

Did that last week!

Luckily, I needed that transmitter off in a couple of minutes anyway, I just sped up my time table was all. :)
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Re: Have you ever accidently taken yourself off the air?

Post by antennaclimber » Fri Mar 28, 2008 6:20 pm

I went to an older AM station a few years back just to change light bulbs on the tower. Went out to the transmitter building found the tower mounted light controller and found the tower light breaker in the panel. Flipped the breaker (for safety reasons) proceeded outside to gather materials, climb and change the lamps. The owner comes out (to turn off the AM tx) and asked why his FM station went off the air. I explained to him all I did was flip the breaker to the light controller thats on the AM tower. Went back inside and flipped the tower light breaker back on and the FM station (15 miles away ) came back on.
Breaker off = FM off, breaker on = FM on. Hmmm. I had to flip the breaker a few times to see that this was really happening. Traced out the AC wires and found that the STL to the FM tower was wired to the tower light controller feed.
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Re: Have you ever accidently taken yourself off the air?

Post by K9EZ » Thu Apr 03, 2008 4:16 am

Hi, my name is Kent, and I have turned off my station too..

HI KENT

When I worked at WISN, during the BELLING SHOW (for those of you outside of Milwaukee, it would be like turning off the Rush studios), I learned how the previous engineer wired the Burk. For the power level reading, if you push UP it would turn off the station (not turn up the power) :idea: :?: :idea: :?:

Of course you needed to go to the Voltage Phase B reading to really adjust the transmitter power level :?: :idea: :shock: :?: :?: :evil: Logic does not equate.......

There were a lot of little surprises like that.
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Re: Have you ever accidently taken yourself off the air?

Post by PaulBWalkerJr » Mon May 12, 2008 11:15 pm

countrykev wrote:This one may sound too simple:

How many of us have accidentally hit the "down" button instead of "channel" on a Burk that just so happened to be set on the channel that is "Plates off"
I had a somewhat kinda similar event with a Remote Control.

I spent the day at a local fair, doin a live broadcast and manning the station booth

I had spent the day at a fair doing a live broadcast & maning the fair booth. Afterwards, my coworkers from our Sidney station invited me over to the Budweiser beer tent, telling me they aren't in town often and wanna hang out.. so I begrudingly agree.

Between the beer tent and local titty bar I had like 6 drinks in a period of 2 or 3 hours. Which amounts too more drinks in 3 hours then I've had in the last year combined!

They drive me back to the station at 1:15 am so I can pick up my stuff and walk home.. I get in to find our 100KW FM off the air. And at this point I'm 4 1/2 sheets to the wind.

Our remote control was operated via a subcarrier of our Microwave STL as our transmitter was on a mounaintop with no phone service. There were printed instructions on a 8 1/2 x 11" sheet of paper telling the operator how to raise the power, turn it on and off... i stood there for 15 minutes trying to get my hand to make the connection to what my brain was thinking.

Later the following week, all 3 of the area 100KW FMs were knocked off the air for about an hour at 1030am due to a power outage, it happened in the middle of a song for me.

Of all my mishaps, I don't think I've ever, personally, taken myself off the air through my own mistake!

And for you tower geeks, both our 100KW FM's were on the same tower, didn't share any bays and as I understand it, there were 20 bays on the totwer total, with another 100KW "across the street" and 8 bays on that tower.

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