BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES! WINTER'S ON THE WAY!
At this time of year, it's always a good idea to go over the transmitter site and make sure everything's in readiness for the winter storm season. You'll sleep more soundly next time the weather report calls for high winds and miserable conditions.
First off: the genset. At the very least, this is the time of year to top off that fuel tank, while the fuel truck can get in to the site more easily. Might save you having to get the snowplow out to clear the road so you can fuel up later, and so prevent one job from turning in to two. This is also the time of year that I like to get the genset maintenance done, so that if there's any extended running time during those storms, we're as prepared for it as we can be. Even if you don't get overall genset maintenance, it's prudent to check the genset battery as well. And just because the battery will crank the genset on a warm day, that doesn't mean it will start the genset on a cold winter morning: check the installation date! Change 'em after five years!
A quick but careful look around the transmitter building can also pay you back. You want to make sure that any roof scuppers are clear, and there are no signs of water leakage. This may be your last good chance to take care of any roof problems until spring. While you're poking around, this is also an excellent time to check over the ventilation system. All belts in good shape, all bearings lubricated? If there are manual controls to recirculate transmitter heat, now is a good time to set them to their "winter" positions.
AM sites, don't forget to wander out to the tuning huts and check them out as
well. It can be a whole lot easier and
more pleasant to do this on a dry autumn day than when the field is hip-deep in
snow. While you're out there, if there's
any auxiliary heat needed to keep those contactors working in the cold, you'd
better check that out too! If the site
has security fencing, this is also a good time to examine the perimeter of the
site for signs to make sure that everything's secure. And Industry
With darkness coming sooner each day, this is also the time to make sure your yard lights are all working as well. And if you've got lights on photocells, you need to check 'em out. Scrap metal prices have jumped to all-time highs, and nowadays there are more folks that will try to remove anything metallic, particularly aluminum and copper, that they can. Keeping the property well-lit is an easy way to try to reduce this kind of casual theft, but it only works if your lighting is functioning properly. It also makes things a lot more pleasant if you do end up working at the site in pitch darkness in the months to come.
This suggestion may seem obvious, but past experience has proven that it's not: if you're lucky enough to have a landline at the site, you should check it from time to time to see that it works properly. How often we find out that a telephone circuit has failed, only when the remote control has an alarm condition and is trying in vain to call us!
This is the time of year that the fire department tells us to replace our smoke detector batteries, and it's also a good idea to check your UPS batteries. Once again, a good gel-cell will last three or four years… the cheaper ones even less. Any gel-cells older than that should be changed on sight. And more and more of the newer solid state transmitters and remote control systems have batteries buried in their logic boards as part of their memory circuits -- don't forget to freshen those as needed.