It seem I've been in this process for weeks, when, in reality, it has been only almost 2 months.
Just finished mounting the antenna mast and the transmitter (Procaster). Have the initial audio/power and grounding cable run. Ground rod in place. Roof sealed back in (hopefully no leaks). The next decent day (doesn't have to be perfect), I'll finish the audio/power and ground cable connections, and then climb the damned ladder to tune the transmitter. At that point, the real work begins.
I want to finally get my Procaster up too, now that it's getting close to spring I've been thinking about what to do outside. I've been lazy with it because the station is already on carrier current, satisfying the need to be broadcasting.
I've had different ideas for the install too, and too many ideas can get in the way. I've thought about solar operation, and having it stand alone, without wires to the studio, feeding by FM.
You'll have fun checking out all the places your signal goes!
After installing the cables (audio/power and ground), getting things powered on and tuning the antenna, before the rain came in, yesterday, I gave a drive around, to take a look at the possible range. I was a bit disappointed, in some directions, and quite pleased in others. Having concerns that I may have to consider another frequency, because there were some, unexpected, skip signals that crushed parts of the signal, depending on the direction, I thought I should test again on what I hope would be a nice, clear day to come.
The next day (today) was a nice, clear day. Did a driving test, in a 2004 Toyota Camry, with the car radio antenna built into the windshield - I know, probably not the best. It should be noted, that the same car was used the day before.
The map below shows my test boundaries. While not every road within the areas marked "Tested" were driven, the perimeter was driven. The range was measured from the blue dot, as seen on the map (right by the lake).
The upper right corner, where the signal was received decently and clearly listenable, is at 3.2 miles from the blue dot. The lower left corner, before the north-south turn of the line, where the signal was received clearly and listenable, is at 3.4 miles from the blue dot. Within the tested area there were a number of areas, due to crappy power-line installations, transformers and tall buildings, the signal was either not listenable, or not able to be picked.
2 items of note, for future reference to myself: 1. If the transmitter were mounted higher, or on a 2, or 3 story building towards the middle of the city, you'd likely cover it all with a listenable signal, except where those horribly installed and leaky power-lines and transformers are. 2. Quite possibly installing a 2nd transmitter, along with a Barix box, would clearly cover the area and may clear the signal in some of the problematic areas.
Let's see if I can get this map posted now... (And, Yes, I did, a short version of, the Happy Dance.)
I'm going to do some further testing, when next the weather is good, to the south this time. Just to check and see if a signal is received around all the most populated areas of the city. I have to say, though, that I'm a happy person based on the initial testing already.
I do wonder, if turning the transmitter would affect the coverage signal. Currently, I believe the cover of the Procaster, for example, is facing to the south-east. Any thoughts on that?
With my test installs of Procaster and similar transmitters over time, I've found some of those things, like noisy areas, especially on cross streets with traffic lights and lots of wires crossing above. At other times power lines help to pick up and extend signals over longer stretches of road.
There will be a noisy area and the signal seems to have faded out, but then it surprises and comes in again when you leave the noise.
Open areas are the best for distance, like the middle of a field, which compliments my carrier current system, which does its best where electrical lines run.
One thing about AM is you'll always get interference from other stations at night. It was more of a problem than I thought it would be and I was hearing stations in the background at a few hundred feet from the antenna. I tried using more audio power with compression, thinking to use it just at night, but it didn't improve the signal much. That's a reason I've thought of solar operation during daytime only.
I've had to change my frequency several times, once it was on a clear frequency at my house, but down one street it got interference from a Traveler's info station. Another frequency was good, but there was a 5 kilowatt station at about 250 miles away on it, and that would start to skip in as much as 3 hours before nightfall, and I was in the clear only from about 10 am to 2 pm.
Now I've gone back to a frequency I couldn't use originally because it had a Traveler's station on it. I used to get 5 of those stations that the road department ran, but now they're gone, with phones and real time GPS maps they must not be needed.
This has turned out to be a positive thread, and I'm happy about that, we need success stories. There was a time when the Part-15 scene was busy, a post like this would draw flies, physical adults would post their own figures about how some computer says it can't be done, for a signal to get out like this. I'm glad those days are over!
Now I have to work on my system, the weather is still fussy, windy rainy, not the best yet, but I can sit indoors and design.
Last Edit: Mar 14, 2020 3:45:00 GMT by Boomer: I'm a wimp
That's an interesting thought about turning the transmitter and how it could affect direction. You could try it, my thought is it wouldn't do much at all, because on the Procaster, the antenna is next to only about 6 inches of the metal case, so the majority of the antenna is in the clear.
Roger that. I may give it a shot, just to see what happens. I'll be sure to tune the antenna again, after turning the transmitter, to ensure that nothing has changed in that department and ensure it is set properly again.
Yes. The Procaster is mounted approximately 20 feet above ground, an 8 ft. ground rod for lightening protection and no radials.
It should be reiterated that those distances are where the signal become unheard, unlistenable and overcome with static.
Thanks. I was pleasantly surprised too. Now, if I could just get the electrical linemen in the area to properly install the power lines and transformers and some of the building owners to lower the height of their buildings...