WGEM-TV Goes Green With GatesAir

Brent Clingingsmith, WGEM-TV chief engineer, checks operation of the station’s new Maxiva VAX 3D transmitter.

QUINCY, ILL.—Broadcasters are always looking for ways to reduce their operating costs without sacrificing the on-air product. As powering and cooling DTV transmitters is one of our biggest costs, we decided to move to GatesAir’s high-efficiency air-cooled Maxiva VAX 3D at our group’s WGEM-TV operation. The station serves western Illinois, northeastern Missouri and southeastern Iowa, and is one of Quincy Broadcast’s 14 full-power U.S. operations.

The new Channel 10 6.8 kW transmitter went into service in late February this year, with GatesAir handling installation and commissioning. Since that time it has performed very reliably, tightly maintaining critical broadcast tolerances. What I like about it is that it just works; in fact, it’s really plug-and-play.

While the transmitter has only been online a short while, I expect that we will see a substantial reduction in operating costs due to its highly energy-efficient design. One encouraging indicator that costs are going in the right direction is the reduced amount of cooling that this new transmitter requires due to its high efficiency.

The Maxiva VAX 3D resides next to our long-running Harris Platinum in the transmitter building. The Platinum still works reliably and remains as a backup transmitter that we can bring online at a moment’s notice. Considering the VAX 3D’s advanced design and feature set, I’d say it amplifies all of the Platinum’s strong points—I like to think of it as Platinum on steroids.

The transmitter sports an intelligent and intuitive design. For example, if spectrum reallocation requires us to change this station’s channel assignment— provided we stay within the VHF band—this switchover will be a very quick and easy process that can be done in a matter of minutes. While this process used to require fairly sophisticated RF engineering knowhow, the Maxiva VAX’s broadband amplifier design now makes such a transition very simple from the transmitter standpoint and it also makes it easier for our staff to maintain.

The VAX 3D is roughly half the size of the Platinum, but far exceeds its capabilities. For example, it allows us to remotely monitor all aspects of its operation. By using a web-based browser, we can check transmitter settings and read power output and other operational parameters, check operating efficiencies, tolerances and more, with all of this information readily available on the easy-to-understand GUI. Not only has the new transmitter exceeded our expectations from an operational standpoint, we’re also benefitting from its very high level of remote monitoring capability.

When FCC approval is granted, we hope to use this transmitter to initiate ATSC 3.0 testing later this year, including ATSC Mobile/ Handheld (M/H) DTV and Mobile-EAS. We’re also anticipating bringing more of these new transmitters into the fold as we retire some of our older ones in our group.

When that time comes, we’ll want to have the remote monitoring capability, easy channel adaptability and other attractive features that come with the Maxiva VAX. Considering our longstanding relationship with the people at GatesAir and the outstanding products and service they provide, making such replacement decisions will be very easy.

Brady Dreasler is corporate director of engineering for Quincy Broadcast Print Interactive. He may be contacted atbdreasler@quincyinc.com

For additional information, contact GatesAir at 513-459-3678 or visitwww.gatesair.com.