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Cary and Jerry’s Not-So-Excellent Adventure

Doug Nadvornick called Cary Boyce and me at about 4 AM last Friday to report that there was no audio on the KPBX analog but that KPBX-HD was fine. That was a real poser, since all the program audio passes through the same processor on Mica Peak. The digital output feeds the HD transmitter and the time-delayed analog output feeds the two analog transmitters.

So, fortified with a breakfast sandwich and coffee, we took off in Cary’s 4WD Jeep for Mica Peak. We got through the gate about 7 AM and started up the hill. I’m guessing we got about halfway up when the snow won out.

Plan B. I called another engineer to see if they had a snow machine available. They didn’t have it ready to go yet. A second call reached an engineer whose machine was in the shop but he knew where he could rent a side-by-side. So, we headed back to the station to get my car and I drove out to the second engineer’s place.

We took off for Coeur d’Alene in his 4WD pickup. We got to the rental place just as they opened at 10:30. It took a while to sign all the papers and get the trailer loaded and hooked up to the truck. Then, we went south on US 95 to approach Mica Peak from the Idaho side. We got back to the gate a bit before noon and deployed the side-by-side, which had no problem with the snow. Our new problem was being able to make out the road in white-out conditions.

We arrived at the transmitter site about 1 PM and found everything encrusted in rime ice (frozen fog). The receive indicator on the primary microwave radio showed no signal getting through. The secondary microwave was still working but no audio was getting to the analog transmitter.

We did a bit of signal tracing and found a stuck relay that was part of a prior analog backup system. By-passing that relay brought back the music to the analog side. That also solved the mystery of the HD signal being good while the analog was gone.

An extension ladder and a broomstick cleared the primary microwave receive antenna of its icy tomb. The microwave signal returned to normal, and displayed audio being received.

We packed up about 4 PM and headed back to Coeur d’Alene to drop off the snow toy.

Jerry Olson is a native of Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from the University of Cincinnati. In addition to his technical career, he is also a musician who has played tuba and bass trombone with the Berkeley (CA) Symphony and numerous other groups, including the Spokane Symphony. In a previous life, Jerry was a semiconductor engineer in Silicon Valley but in 1989, he and his family moved to Cheney in order to pursue a saner lifestyle. Results have been mixed ...