Written by Ted Tait on August 19, 2019
For those of you who have been listening from the beginning, you may recall we got knocked off the air 3 days after we started! 3 days after that, we were back on the air with a loaner transmitter as we sent ours out to be repaired. But I would not blame you for forgetting all about it and thinking it got repaired a week later. That is far from the case! The repair turned into a bit of a saga that dragged on, but we have finally made it to the end of this particular chapter in WWER history. Want to know the rest of the story? Then read on…
We started out by shipping it to the US distributor who sells this particular brand of transmitter. They looked at it and found that it needed a new power supply. Sounds simple enough, but they also realized that it was nearly 10 years old and that the company has changed the design of the power supply in their newer transmitters, meaning the new ones would not fit our old transmitter! They offered to sell us one of the new models for a discount. This still would have amounted to thousands of dollars, so we kept looking for a better solution.
We contacted the manufacturer in the UK and through discussions with them it was decided that they should take a look, in the hope of still making some kind of repair. Off it went across the pond and they managed to modify this older unit to accept the new style of power supplies, installed one and shipped it back to us.
With much excitement, we received our transmitter back in mid July and attempted to place it back into service. But as soon as we powered it up, it shut itself down! For those interested in the technical details, it was a VSWR fault. We discovered that excessive second harmonic radiation was being generated – in addition to transmitting on 88.1FM, our little box was transmitting on some other frequencies too! It’s not supposed to do that, and protective circuitry in the unit shut it down and prevented that from happening. It took us a little while to determine what was causing the shutdown, but once we were sure, we had to ship it back to the UK again!
So another month in the shop (including the round trip across the Atlantic) and it is finally back with us again. Last week we connected it back to the antenna and flipped the switch…. and it worked! So we are finally back on the air with our regular transmitter after more than 2 months of back and forth! I am so thankful for our dedicated volunteer technical staff for sticking with this and finding the right solution that we could also afford!
Even with our keen attention to being frugal, the bill came in over $1500 for the repairs, including the rental of the loaner (we negotiated them down on those costs too). This whole incident underscored how dependent we are on this one device, which is 10 years old. If the distributor had not had a loaner available, we would have been off the air for a very long time, or had to buy a new one at great cost at a point in time when we had very little money in our coffers, having just gotten started! The lesson from this is that we should have a backup transmitter. We would like to raise enough money to buy a new unit to use as our main transmitter, and put this one into backup service.
That is likely to cost us thousands of dollars, but in the long term, it will certainly be worth it! I know all of you have been looking for another reason to give us money, so there you go! 🙂 In addition to our usual monthly expenses, we would like to do everything we can to make sure we can stay on the air in the event of a technical failure! A new transmitter is an important step in that direction.