Some ‘Reflections’ on SWR from K4EJQ

First, let me say that I am NOT going to dispute the theories of Maxwell, Krause, DeMaw, or any other recognized “Guru” of modern day transmission line and/or antenna theory. This incident occurred many years ago, probably 1973 or thereabouts, at a mountain top transmitter site, where I was employed by a local TV broadcast station. I was the technician “on duty” that Sunday afternoon in September. At the site with me was the caretaker of the site who lived up there most of the time. On this particular day he was outside at our picnic table whittling. I was inside, sitting at the transmitter control console probably reading and keeping a cursory watch on the program flow, etc.

The caretaker, an elderly fellow, had been a cook during WW2 and later, after the war followed the logging camps as a cook and general laborer. He knew the outdoors well, but had no interest or training in electronics. At this point in time our TV station, like most others, would stay on the air all night to cover the US space programs. He didn’t much care for that all night noise as it disturbed his sleep. I didn’t care for it much myself, as I did not have any time to do maintenance on the equipment; we normally would sign off about 1 AM so it was quiet for a few hours at our site. I had several hours “free” to do maintenance. The caretaker was skeptical of the entire US space program. He often said what was seen by the public as man landing on the moon, etc. It had been carried out in Hollywood on a sound stage. He debunked the whole “space thing”.

About mid- afternoon that transmitter I was “babysitting” suddenly and without warning went off the air. No indication of any trouble on the fault panel, no smoke, noise or anything indicating a problem. I jumped up and went around the console and tried to return the transmitter to operation. It would not return to the air and no fault was indicated. Broadcast transmitters are designed, for the most part, as being capable of diagnosing what has failed so the technician can trouble — shot it and return it to service with a minimum amount of lost airtime. I must have recycled that rig a half dozen times and with each application of a transmit command the unit would come up momentarily and then drop out. Of course the telephone was ringing off the wall with studio people telling me WE are off–the–air as if I didn’t already know!

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