When Tom Long, Jr., director of engineering at WHKY, began planning for the station's transition to digital broadcasting, he wanted a solution that utilized the existing broadcast tower, and he needed to replace WHKY's older NTSC antenna. He'd thought about a pair of side-mount antennas but was concerned about the weight and exceeding the tower's windload. He contacted Andrew's broadcast division about their TRASAR traveling wave antenna.
Fortunately, Andrew was developing a lighter weight, lower windload TRASAR model, the TRASAR LT, which offered the same high performance and advanced design technology as the original. When Long called, the TRASAR LT was still on the drawing board, but Andrew worked with WHKY-TV to deliver a swift solution, and the new antenna was installed in July 2001.
The TRASAR LT antenna solved the problem of poor reception and limited coverage of households in the densely populated Charlotte broadcast area. Combining over-air and cable, WHKY-TV now reaches 715,000 households and 1.7 million people.
Along with the TRASAR LT, Andrew also installed a second antenna for WHKY-TV, a side-mount ALP antenna for high-definition broadcasting on digital Channel 40, WHKY-DT. Long said that installing both antennas at the same time enabled them to minimize downtime and take their first step in the transition from analog to digital broadcasting. WHKY-DT's digital antenna went on-air on April 6, 2002.
Long noted that despite optimistic estimations, all-digital broadcasting isn't likely to be the norm until 2020 or 2030, so it was important for WHKY-TV to have an upgrade solution to meet both analog and digital requirements in the future. He said that he anticipated WHKY-TV would still be operating their analog facility for many years to come, which is why they invested in the TRASAR LT antenna.
The antennas were installed back-to-back, so WHKY-TV was able to realize significant cost savings by using its existing tower without compromising weight and windload restrictions. Andrew engineers used proprietary modeling software to create a peanut-shaped pattern for each antenna with built-in nulls to prevent interference between antennas and the mast. In addition, the use of Andrew HELIAX high-performance coaxial transmission line to feed the ALP digital antenna proved to be a cost-effective solution. According to Long, the decision to use HELIAX cable reduced the cost of installation by 50 percent. With its expanded bandwidth, WHKY-TV is now well positioned to respond to future broadcasting requirements and the programming needs of its viewers.
Tom Long, Jr., director of engineering
Tom Long, Sr., general manager
Jeff Long, station manager
Scott Martin, senior product line manager
Jim Heard, account manager, broadcast/satellite systems
TRASAR LT antenna
HELIAX transmission line