Another radio station, how hard can it be?!

A hot early June day and even hotter the play pen.

In preparation for a radio station about to go live on FM, some setting up of the equipment was needed. Now, in normal state of affairs, it should have been a nice straight forward couple of hours work. Oh no.

The secondhand 1 kW Elenos transmitter supplied was a bit of an unknown quantity. The seller having promised it was all working of course… Then we find that the transmitter has no stereo or RDS encoders. So a nice little Cybermax7000 RDS and stereo encoder was obtained from PCS. This enables the main transmitter to be fed with a MUX signal.

So we make up some interconnecting leads and managed to download some destructions for the big transmitter. Set up the frequency and bits and pieces and set the output power to a dribble of angry pixies to start with. Download the programming application for the PCS encoder, which of course from PCS is never as straight forward as you would like. Scrabble around trying to find USB drivers etc….

With dummy load connected and a signal source squirting in some nice happy tunes into the encoder, a radio tuned in to the right frequency, we applied some cycling volts obtained from the mains supply. Lots of fan activity, nice displays, bar graphs, oh joy of joys. Selected the power output of the transmitter and wound it up to about 50 Watts. Music from the wireless set in the corner of the workshop, followed by some crackles and the FAILURE LED coming on. The happy tunes then turned into the Death March. Lots of heated discussions with the seller of the transmitter in Italy who basically said I had broken it. Bull and red rag came to mind and Google translate working hard in converting every swear word I know into Italian. Eventually seemed to have tamed the transmitter , which will hopefully last long enough to get installed at the top of the mountain.

Then we came to the dear little PCS encoder. The equipment is quite good for what you pay. But, quite often settings are out and the support from PCS in Slovakia is very abrupt one liners, stating the f’ing obvious. The programming applications, all different for different versions and said to be compatible. Then throw in some odd USB drivers which you have to sniff around for. The app I am sure is a sort of bridge GUI between on older terminal interface, as the box also has a RS232 connector, for those of you that are over 80, you’ll remember that. Eventually got the laptop talking to the box and set up the RDS, station ID and adverts etc… The laptop assured my faithfully that it had sent the data. Or did it???  Grabbed a passing car who got it’s wheels stuck in the new tarmac outside the workshop and had to look on the radio. All we had was what looked like a dump of an inside wall of a great pyramid. Strange characters that I have never seen before.  No matter what I did, could not get this to work. So spent ages trying all combinations of application versions. Eventually found one that did communicate correctly and got that sorted. Sent a rather blunt email to PCS. The reply came back, “check Baud rate my need change”. Give up.

Frustrating day, wasted time, all down to third parties being well…….. All to make a peanut of a living. Then the customer says, Why did it take so long……

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