Marilyn Monroooooe.

Or, “Why I wanna replace the Carlson LongHaul radios”.

I’m basing the name of this post off incorrectly remembering this glorious scene from the Pop Team Epic anime and thinking it said long strokes, not  longs for good strokes, but whatever – I’m keeping it:

Ever just work with a piece of load-bearing hardware that is just asking for the sweet release of the e-waste bin? Yeah, that’s what half the entries on this page are about, but here’s one that, uh, yeah. The Carlson Wireless LongHaul… It’s still on their website as if it were a current product but upon calling their support engineer for assistance he told me what I had already come to suspect, it was abandonware from over a decade ago. The unit is a long range microwave radio designed to carry telephone traffic and look like a TDM (T1?) link, but also IP traffic, which is what we’re using it for.

So let’s check off the Boxes Of Decay:

  • Flash user interface
  • User interface via https with REVOKED SECURITY CERTIFICATE
  • Best I can tell— based on 802.11A wifi hardware
  • Cursed
  • Did I mention cursed

The only way to keep these things in service is to have an old version of Flash that hasn’t been expired via logic bomb – Ruffle won’t cut it as it doesn’t support Actionscript 3, though it handles http://aktiv-schaum.kg4cyx.net/ just fine. I’m sure you all missed those goofy Flash shitposts, right? I sure did. It also seems to play my old Fanimutations just fine.
If you have the Ruffle extension loaded:
Aligator (unfinished!)

Guava Paste

Onsokumaru’s Great Adventure

I wish to state here that there are some dumb jokes in there that were very much a bad product of the time and I feel like they don’t age well, but not that I’d want to bury this entirely.

Anyway— on to the weird old hardware.

The board says “Avlia Networking Platform” on it and it looks like maybe an older version of this guy

The wifi card slotted into it is a Wistron-Neweb dual band radio, interestingly.. this unit only supports the 5.8 ghz side but some of the other ones we have in service, inexplicably, support both 2.4 and 5.8, consult your pineal gland

The serial and USB connections are unpopulated and I found no other way into the device…

Well, you can telnet in, but the user/password are unknown. It says it runs FreeBSD.

Finally by some sheer luck I found I had one old system with Flash on it and was able to set these creaky old things up. In the user interface (I can’t be arsed to take a screenshot) it has signal level readings which… uh, it’ll say it’s seeing -38dBm when the radio it’s connected to is unplugged and disconnected, and everything takes like four tries to get it to save and take effect and the Reboot button doesn’t work and

I’m so tired. I’m just so tired. can I just have a couple of Ubiquiti bullets and a nap? Please? Thank you. GAAAAAAABORAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

FOUR LEAKS THIS TIME! Cha-cha real smooth.

TO THE LEFT!

Take it back now y’all.

With the assistance of Jack Davis (Jackpot Engineering), we got in there and changed out the tube body cooler ring, and the whole thing lived to tell about it…

I didn’t get pictures of the process because my hands were two of the six hoisting parts on and off of the thing, but here was the process:
Remove tube cart, place under chain hoist.
Pluck out tube.
Unbolt input cavity/socket assembly from below, drop it down and remove.
Remove bolts holding secondary cavity to cart legs and remove screws from underneath that hold those four round black vertical standoffs to the top plate of the cart. Hoist the top of the cart up a few inches.
Unbolt and remove grid ring cooler.
Admire the corroded mess.

Korrosion Krispies.

This looks as if water may have been slowly getting out INSIDE the ring in addition to the externally visible leaks down on the lines feeding it, it was DONE. Please note the heavy coating of black silver oxide. This continued to make itself known throughout the procedure.

This was leak #1 down…….

“Does anyone know the last time the ceramics of the tube were cleaned?”
*dead silence*

“Ew.”

WELLLLLLLTHEN

So, good cleaning of the tube is vital as there’s a BIG voltage gradient across the large white ceramic cylinder, as well as between the filament (innermost two rings) and the next ring up, assuming that’s the ion pump (3.5 KV!)….

Before:

I didn’t even realize the very bottom there had a ridged porcelain bushing around it – it looked to me like some kind of dull finish aluminum alloy piece from all the mess stuck on it.

Note the spot where I wiped it with my finger which came away black. I guess this also illustrates where all the air gets sucked out at time of manufacturing – it’s got a center exhaust like a light bulb!

After scrubdown:

Well mostly.

The unglazed part of the bushing appears to just be permanently stained. I even tried Scotch-Brite pads on it. The glazed outside cleaned up perfectly.

And now, time for some massive, ugly cleaning.

Ever had a faux leather case on something or a piece of clothing where the outermost texturized layer of the material started shedding, forming an evil sticky glitter-like flaky substance that sticks to everything and spreads everywhere like the DISEASE of craft supplies itself?! Yeah— imagine that, but made of silver oxide, CONDUCTIVE, and coating most surfaces of the output cavities. Gee, no wonder I was getting cavity arcs in the log every day or so. YAAACK.

Brush, vacuum, brush, vacuum, bleeech.

Finally it was time to put it all back together, at which time I experienced leak number 2 — one of the Hansen couplers blew its o-ring and started spraying water down the back of the tube cart. These things work just like pneumatic line couplers you may be familiar with from air tools, just, big and angry and stuff. You can’t see it well at this angle but there’s a hard nylon ring up inside there followed by a rubber gasket. The rubber gasket had ceased to be, just like any of the Barnstead filter gaskets every time you look at them wrong.

So I left the amplifier running into the combiner load overnight, came back the next day and found a nice puddle of red splooey on the floor below the external glycol piping behind the cabinets. LEAK #3!!!

The source was the mid-body seal of a ball valve that literally would never have been touched since the day the transmitter cooling system was filled up and made ready for the rig to go on air. It’s a valve that’d let you bypass the outdoor heat exchangers and just circulate the Dowtherm glycol solution through the pump/tank unit and the amplifier cabinets. I’ve never seen a ball valve fail this way before. have you? Probably not. IT’S JUST POWERFULLY CURSED OK


COVER WITH J-B WELD, FULL SEND, BYE

Finally, Leak #4 happened on some of the blue hoses at the Barnstead filters, I was so done with this thing I didn’t take a picture, just cut the hose a little shorter and smashed it back onto the fittings, BYESIES

So that’s the tale of FOUR LEAKS on the Harris PisserCD.

Stay tuned for when I attempt a grid scrub / outgassing procedure on this stupid thing which has been last performed probably about when the tube ceramics were last cleaned, which is to say, oh, half a decade ago. -29mA grid current? Ok yeah sure thanks for that. What else is even left on this thing to leak??

I wonder what this sounded like

So, reportedly there is good CCTV footage of this, and it’ll get posted online once the insurance company is done with it. The user at the time kept repeatedly slamming their car back and forth under the machine until they caught it with the top brush down and backed into it hard, tipping the whole wash gantry over and crushing the roof of the car as it came to rest. Amazingly, the Istobal machine looks pretty much unscathed other than the wire/hose guide getting torn off the wall.

Istobal car wash taking a nap
Stick your brushes in the air like you just don’t care
Judging from the top brush position when this went down, it was caught by what was formerly a fairly tall SUV.

Wanna bet this was a GMC Yukon or a Land Rover? Those seem to be the peak derpcastle vehicles around here.

escaped the javapocalypse

Thankfully, nothing on this server uses log4j… or Java… at all.
Pour one out for the stinky turd yet sometimes necessary evil* that is Java.

poured with a whooshing, pattering sound, and a scent of cherry bubblegum

* and I mean ‘necessary evil’ in the sense of “oh gods this vendor implemented their whole-ass user interface in Java so we’re forced to use it as a customer”, that means you, Harris Broadcast, Triveni, Burk,

Oops it’s shitposting time

Why thank you wise old dummy load
I feel like this is how my technical directors shade the cameras: sprinkle catnip on the controls and let a cat do it
For a station whose motto is Getting Answers, we sure just don’t know who keeps taking the tea
More transmitter site mushrooms
Glorious woodie wagon!

A quick look at the GatesAir UHF TV transmitter

This one is shaped like a big rectangular friend. It’s a GatesAir ULXTE-30, which can give you 19.2 kilowatts out of its 30 amplifier modules.

This one’s practically brand new and is pretty much an illustration of how densely you can build a LDMOS based solid state linear amplifier! Gates says it can give you up to 45% efficiency which is pretty dang good for linear amplification – a necessary evil with transmission modes that use amplitude keying such as 8VSB, QAM, and COFDM. All the major heat sources on this unit are cooled by a standard 50% mix automotive grade antifreeze solution circulated through tubes in the modules.

From top to bottom:

I forgot to annotate this but the harmonic filter is that ridged black tube up top above the cabinet. It doesn’t get dissipate much energy at all and requires no active cooling.

The exciters are responsible for generating the RF carrier, modulating it with data input from the broadcast encoders (back at the studio in our case), and applying precorrection for frequency and group delay response of the amplifier and filter system. GatesAir calls the latter their RTAC System, for Real-time Active Correction. Only one is actually on air at a time, but you can switch exciter in case of one failing, or to allow you to do things like update the software on one while the other is on air.

The controller provides local and remote (web interface) control and metering of the transmitter’s functioning as well as controlling the power and cooling systems. It has canbus communications to the rest of the system.

You can see that the modules below are in three distinct groups. This is because the whole thing is of a modular design; lower wattage units may have only one or two of those ten-pack units and can even have the cooling pump station built right into the bottom of the cabinet! This one’s just packed with power, though. The power supplies are slide out modules with air cooling – they’re pretty high efficiency so they don’t need a lot of airflow. The weird little pick on the door is used to lift the latch that holds them in if you have to remove one.

In each group of modules, the upper two are a preamp and driver stage, and the rest are final power amplifiers. The output of each goes to a backplane with a combiner that feeds into the large black combiner seen in the back of the cabinet. The two glycol cooled reject loads absorb any reflected power caused by imbalances in the system.

Look carefully and you’ll see I placed a pink asterisk at the top. This is indicating a small yellow wifi router. If you don’t use this I’d recommend unplugging the power lead to it. It’s not vital for anything, it’s basically just used if you have a wireless tablet used to get into the web interface instead of a device on wired Ethernet.

The pumps are external on this system. They’re the unit on the right here. To the left is a combiner and filter unit that’s combining this and the output of another transmitter to a common transmission line and antenna. There are four variable frequency drives on it, two control the pumps and two control the fans outside on the radiator.

The heat yeeter:

To date the only thing I’ve had to do with this transmitter was replace one power supply module that tanked under warranty and top up the cooling system. It’s a good tall beige friend.

What’s in a module, as pictured in the brochure.

Yes, I’m glad they resigned this…

So you know how GatesAir has that cool little integrated pump station for their liquid cooled transmitters nowadays? Yeah uh it was not always that nice. Presenting…. the older one circa 2009. It’s interesting.

This poor thing was running on EMPTY, time to juice it up! Let’s see, uh…. wait. You can’t just let it draw the solution in out of a bucket, you must use an external pump to force it in there! The expansion tank is very much on the wrong side of the pump to make pressurizing the system the same way you do with the newer systems possible.

Oh and it’s all on the outdoor side and the pumps get all nasty due to weather exposure. Both of these units have one bad pump each. Yaaaackkkk.

HhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

REALLY? The possum focus group reacts.
Blurpppblbblllbllblbthhhh

I unfortunately didn’t get pictures of the mess that occurred when the charging pump blechhhhh’d all over the floor or when that main vent pictured above inexplicably yacked on the wall behind it but suffice to say mess was made here.

Does this say crap! because in my mind it does.