KYFR AM tower light monitor

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mbrockm
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KYFR AM tower light monitor

Post by mbrockm » Wed Nov 14, 2018 8:44 am

Started working with KYFR 4 tower directional. Currently there is no tower light monitoring system. Manually done nightly. The flasher and photocell are on each tower for 2 OB and 1 Beacon. The lighting choke only brings across a single phase circuit with combined current for both beacon and side markers. Looking for a simple (cheap) way to monitor each tower. Two methods I can think of. Monitor the total current using a circuit with a long charge / discharge to give average current to account for beacon flash. Or use some kind of optical link across the base. Wondered if anyone had any design ideas for monitoring.
Mark Brockmeyer
KMA Engineering

rfn
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Re: KYFR AM tower light monitor

Post by rfn » Wed Nov 14, 2018 9:54 am

Slatercom has a couple of methods but they're not cheap. One uses a fiber optic cable from each tower to a central readout. The other uses RF. Fortunately the AM I work with has a folded unipole (no base insulator) so we just ran separate OB and Beacon wiring and monitor the whole thing inside the transmitter building. I did work with a nearby (3 tower) station that uses the fiber system and after a lot of initial pains it works well. I'm sure others make similar systems and prices may vary pretty widly. But "ccheap" - I haven't seen it.

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Deep Thought
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Re: KYFR AM tower light monitor

Post by Deep Thought » Wed Nov 14, 2018 9:56 am

I've done it with current transformers and a comparator circuit set to trigger on an alarm condition based on overall current draw. I used a LM3914 which gave me multiple "taps" to show the beacon and sidelights, and as a bonus showed the beacon flash as well. The remote display had two LEDs per tower...top for beacon and bottom for sidelight. If I lost a sidelight both would flash with the beacon. If I lost a beacon bulb the bottom LED would stay on but the top one would stay off. If neither was on either the lights weren't on or both a beacon and sidelight were out. Worked pretty well and was easy to connect to the remote control, and if you feed power to each tower separately you can pick off the current sample at the breaker box instead of outside.
Mark Mueller • Mueller Broadcast Design • La Grange, IL • http://www.muellerbroadcastdesign.com

wb9fhr
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Re: KYFR AM tower light monitor

Post by wb9fhr » Wed Nov 14, 2018 10:12 am

I've used SSAC (Littelfuse) ECS series current sensors. Use the timing ckt to mask the flash rate. Works as go/no go. You can also add another sensor to supply just the current sample. You need to be a bit creative with the remote control, and not letter of the law for flash stuck failure but it works. Inexpensive in the big picture. Place to start the thinking process.

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kkiddkkidd
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Re: KYFR AM tower light monitor

Post by kkiddkkidd » Wed Nov 14, 2018 10:15 am

A Sine Systems ACM2 will do what you want. I have several sites using them in exactly the configuration that you note. Depending on the accuracy and granularity of the remote A-D, I can tell when they lose one OB lamp but it would be hard to alarm for just one lamp. The output voltage will vary with temperature about the same as a single OB lamp current.

I am in the process of rebuilding an old mechanical flash controller with SSAC flashers and current monitors. I am going to use a ControlByWeb WebRelay for monitoring and alarming with a UBNT nanostation as a link back to the TX building. All of this on an FM tower (former AM tower) with incandescent lighting that is located about 300ft away from the tx building with no aux wiring.
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ChuckG
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Re: KYFR AM tower light monitor

Post by ChuckG » Wed Nov 14, 2018 8:52 pm

I use the ACM's too. One for each tower on the cold side of the choke. Set the remote reading for total watts with all bulbs lit and a little math will tell you which has failed.
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kkiddkkidd
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Re: KYFR AM tower light monitor

Post by kkiddkkidd » Sat Nov 17, 2018 1:09 pm

A bit off topic but something odd that I found associated with an ACM.

I just finished rebuilding a TWR controller that was constantly suffering wierd, strange lightning damage constantly.. By weird I mean, loosing a flasher or slave SSR to often but almost constantly losing one or more of the frigging monitor modules. When I say losing I mean pieces of the module laying in the bottom of the controller box. Every cloud that went over blew up something in the tower light controller. None of the modules were connected to the remote control... The box had been retrofitted with a ACM2 for remote monitoring which seemed strange when I first took over engineering a year ago.

After working my way thru a plethora of other tx and studio issues, I got around to the controller and noticed that the ACM was monitoring the NEUTRAL wire. In some situations I suppose that might not be unusual but after digging thru the rats nest of wiring found that the neutral was the ONLY ground connected to the controller. It also appeared that the electrical neutral was the ONLY ground connected to the tower light wiring in any way.

I also noticed that every conduit connection to every piece of equipment and breaker panel had arced enough to burn paint off around the conduit nuts.

I spent a day bonding everything metal to everything else as well as the station ground. At that point, the ACM stopped indicating any current on the neutral and I had to move it to one of the hot wires (220vac into the controller). I replaced all of the bad SSAC monitor modules and am waiting to see if they get scattered again before hooking them up to the new remote control. It has been 2 weeks and we have had a few storms and it appears that the new monitor modules are all still in 1 piece. Hopefully they will stay that way.

I'm not sure if I will leave the ACM there for a confidence monitor or move it to another associated tower with no remote monitoring capability.
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Kevin C. Kidd CSRE/AMD
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Deep Thought
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Re: KYFR AM tower light monitor

Post by Deep Thought » Sun Nov 18, 2018 12:11 am

Sounds like the tower I "discovered" was 120 VAC above ground when I connected my OIB-3. I think I scared the cows that night. :shock:
Mark Mueller • Mueller Broadcast Design • La Grange, IL • http://www.muellerbroadcastdesign.com

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kkiddkkidd
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Re: KYFR AM tower light monitor

Post by kkiddkkidd » Sun Nov 18, 2018 6:54 am

Deep Thought wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 12:11 am
Sounds like the tower I "discovered" was 120 VAC above ground when I connected my OIB-3. I think I scared the cows that night. :shock:
I don't recall ever finding a tower with hard 120v on it but have found several that had enough leakage to light you up if the static drain was disconnected.
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Kevin C. Kidd CSRE/AMD
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RGORJANCE
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Re: KYFR AM tower light monitor

Post by RGORJANCE » Sun Nov 18, 2018 8:35 am

Slightly off topic learning experience!

Worked out in SW Iowa on a directional and was sent out to the North tower to hook up the bridge. Got it hooked up and they powered up. Smoke, plasma, smell and me screaming on the radio.........kill it, kill it, kill it!

Turned out to be a grossly negative tower. I thought I'd royally screwed up. Got back to the xmttr bldg and noticed that there were several sets of really smoked OIB leads hanging on the wall belonging to the station that were totally toasted. Ours survived to "bridge another day".

Haven't run into the AC problem however.

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Deep Thought
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Re: KYFR AM tower light monitor

Post by Deep Thought » Sun Nov 18, 2018 11:07 am

kkiddkkidd wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 6:54 am
Deep Thought wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 12:11 am
Sounds like the tower I "discovered" was 120 VAC above ground when I connected my OIB-3. I think I scared the cows that night. :shock:
I don't recall ever finding a tower with hard 120v on it but have found several that had enough leakage to light you up if the static drain was disconnected.
After the light show I found a burn mark on the back of the lighting choke...in the neutral winding. The ATU also had a DC path to ground through the tower end of the tee network which was doing the heavy AC return lifting until I pulled the J-plug. The lighting neutral was also shorted to the tower. They later told me they had been "hearing tower lights" on the air for a few months. Fun times.
Mark Mueller • Mueller Broadcast Design • La Grange, IL • http://www.muellerbroadcastdesign.com

grich
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Re: KYFR AM tower light monitor

Post by grich » Mon Nov 19, 2018 11:17 am

RGORJANCE wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 8:35 am
Worked out in SW Iowa on a directional...
There are only a couple of directionals in SW Iowa that I'm aware of...KMA and KYFR. Found any burned-up OIB leads in your TX buildings, Mr. Brockmeyer? :D

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Re: KYFR AM tower light monitor

Post by ChuckG » Mon Nov 19, 2018 10:57 pm

Deep Thought wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 11:07 am
They later told me they had been "hearing tower lights" on the air for a few months. Fun times.
When you ask how they monitor the tower lights and they show you the swing in the phase monitor corresponding to the beacons...... :lol:
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kkiddkkidd
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Re: KYFR AM tower light monitor

Post by kkiddkkidd » Tue Nov 20, 2018 6:24 pm

ChuckG wrote:
Mon Nov 19, 2018 10:57 pm


When you ask how they monitor the tower lights and they show you the swing in the phase monitor corresponding to the beacons...... :lol:
Now that's funny right there...
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Kevin C. Kidd CSRE/AMD
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http://www.amgroundsystems.com
KK Broadcast Engineering
http://www.kkbc.com

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Deep Thought
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Re: KYFR AM tower light monitor

Post by Deep Thought » Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:09 pm

kkiddkkidd wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 6:24 pm
ChuckG wrote:
Mon Nov 19, 2018 10:57 pm


When you ask how they monitor the tower lights and they show you the swing in the phase monitor corresponding to the beacons...... :lol:
Now that's funny right there...
Funny and far too common. :mrgreen:
Mark Mueller • Mueller Broadcast Design • La Grange, IL • http://www.muellerbroadcastdesign.com

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