Acrodyne Team Keeps 'D-Day' on Track

They worked closely with our chief engineer and quickly started dismantling the old analog configuration, while making sure that we remained on the air.
Author:
Updated:
Original:
Image placeholder title

David Woods MONTGOMERY, ALA.
I'm a second generation broadcaster, as my father, Charles Woods, owned and operated several radio and television stations. WCOV-TV here in Montgomery is one of the properties that I now own and converting it from analog to digital television has been a learning experience.

We have a Harris transmitter with three IOT high power amplifier units, and our plan was to convert this into a two-IOT digital transmitter, while using the remaining IOT to keep an analog signal on the air. After entertaining proposals from several vendors, we selected Acrodyne's XD system for the conversion. Their sales rep, Dan Traynor, convinced us that he wanted our business and would make sure that the installation of the XD cabinet and the DTV RF components would go as planned.

The equipment reached us on schedule, and a few weeks later Acrodyne's installation crew, consisting of Bill Soreth, Gary Fornek and Stu Boughton, arrived to help us make the digital conversion. They worked closely with our chief engineer, Mike Hunsberger, and quickly started dismantling the old analog configuration, while making sure that we remained on the air.

TWO INCHES MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE

Everyone expected that the installation would take three days, and it would have, if it hadn't been for an error in measurement of two inches.

On the third day, and after installing the filter, the crew realized that the RF lines were two inches shorter than the vendor's specification. It appeared that the measurement was taken from the outside flange, not the inside.

The easiest thing would have been to order new parts, travel home, wait for delivery and return later to finish the job. However, this presented a problem, as we were trying to complete the installation before the original DTV transition deadline on Feb 17. The other choice was an on-site modification, which is what they elected to do.

The entire filter system was unbolted from the floor and then mounted from the ceiling to gain the two inches. This required two 14-hour days and a lot of physically demanding work, as the filter weighed 1,400 pounds.

After the filter relocation, the team performed the necessary testing and then shut down our analog transmitter for the last time, concluding what amounted to nearly 56 years of continuous NTSC broadcasting on Channel 20.

EXTRA EFFORT PAYS DIVIDENDS

A few hours later, we signed on with our digital signal. Our cable partners were standing by for the event and immediately started calling to let us know that they were receiving our digital was coming in crisp and clear. Previously many of the cable headends near the DMA's fringes had received a grainy signal. Today their subscribers are enjoying a beautiful picture from WCOV-TV.

We've received countless phone calls and e-mails from viewers, with many saying that they had not been able to receive our signal prior to the startup of digital, but now they receive a strong and clear picture.

We feel that Acrodyne delivered as promised. In fact, they over-delivered. They spent almost an entire week providing training during the installation, and remained in town two extra days to fine tune, clean up and monitor our signal to make sure there were no problems.

David Woods is the owner of Woods Communications, which owns WCOV-TV in Montgomery, Ala. and KLCW-TV in Lubbock, Texas. He may be contacted atdavidwcov@gmil.com.

For additional information, contact Acrodyne Industries at 800-523-2596 or visitwww.acrodyne.com.