Saturday, July 31, 2010

KCUR audio link down

Apologies for the lack of updates lately, Dear Readers. I'll make up for it with a bunch of posts all in a row. :)

Two weeks ago (18 July) our T-1 audio link between the transmitter and the studio went down. Robin got a call from the monitoring hardware at 0345, then switched over to our backup link. Robin called me the following Monday to say he'd had "an eventful weekend", and rather than meeting him at the transmitter, I ought to meet him at the station. When I got there, he was calmly updating the EAS logs. This may strike you, Dear Reader, as odd, so allow me to explain Robin's philosophy of "important" vs. "pressing".

When I first met Robin, he explained that a given engineering issue can be thought of in two dimensions, "important" and "pressing". An "important" issue directly affects the running of the station - in this case, the audio link between the station and the transmitter going down. A "pressing" issue is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately. The audio link falls into this category as well. However, once Robin had switched to the backup link, the issue continued to be important - after all, with the primary link down, the station was running "without a net", if you will - but the backup link would serve well enough through the weekend, so it was no longer pressing.

Anyway, after he was done with the EAS logs, Robin decided to call AT&T and register a trouble ticket as he was pretty sure it was a telco issue. He got an ETA for the AT&T technician of "soon" and we headed out to the TX to meet the tech. When we got there, the tech hadn't arrived yet, so I set about taking the readings as usual. Everything looked normal on the readings except (of course) the T-1, which was showing an alarm.

When the AT&T guy finally got there, he determined that the problem was a bad pair, and set about finding a good one. It's curious to me, Dear Reader, how much trouble two little copper wires can cause. Somebody can break them with a backhoe. Water can (conceivably) get in and corrode the wires and/or cause a short. Or, as the AT&T tech surmised in our case, lightning can strike and fry the wires and the card attached to those wires.

Once the AT&T guy had found a good pair and replaced the T-1 card, we were good to go again. If we'd had a microwave STL, this wouldn't have happened. However, microwave STL's have their own set of potential problems, I'm certain.

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