Monday night, August 8, smoke was observed over an equipment shelter near KOLU’s studio at Riverview Baptist Church.  This shelter is a “nerve center” of sorts for KOLU, relaying the broadcast signal to our main transmitter on Beck Mountain as well as handling all network traffic in and out of the offices.

By the time the fire department arrived, flames were just starting to appear.  The fire was promptly extinguished and damage was minimal, but equipment had to be taken off line quickly to avoid water damage.  Things were left to be sorted out Tuesday morning.

Thankfully, most of the equipment was in good shape except for one file server that contained all the information used to run the automation equipment that keeps programming going on at the station.  Complicating this, Chief Engineer Martin Gibbs was visiting relatives in Nebraska at the time of the fire.

Once network access was restored, Martin consulted with assistant John Probasco and a plan was worked out to restore Christian Family Radio to the air without automation, meaning that someone had to be at the station 24 hours a day until the file server could be restored.  John was able to repair the server, but all the data and programs had to be restored, which was done by Martin remotely from Nebraska (sitting at a dining room table in his brother’s house, no less!).

By Thursday afternoon, most of the operations for the station were restored to normal, although several minor functions are, as of this writing, still being worked on.

Many thanks to Martin, John and all those that put in extra effort to restore Christian Family Radio to full operation.  This could have been much more catastrophic for KOLU and Riverview Baptist Church, but the Lord protected these operations with a bit of a reminder that we always need to remain vigilant and that we should always be looking at ways to make our operation more reliable.

Please accept our apologies for not providing this update on our web site at an earlier time.  At first, we could not access the web site since it requires going through the equipment that was shut down, then we focused our attention on getting the operation back up again.

Update – The air conditioner was repaired Wednesday, June 8 and we were able to turn the main transmitter back on at 5pm.  KOLU is once again transmitting at full power.  Thank you for your patience and prayers!

Original post -Our main transmitter at KOLU had to go off line yesterday (Sunday) afternoon when the large air conditioner that keeps it running cool failed.  Without the air conditioner, the transmitter quickly overheats and shuts off.

At this time, we are running our backup transmitter, which is our former main transmitter, and are broadcasting at 4,100 watts rather than our usual 39,000 watts.  This will affect indoor listening and fringe area reception.  Our translators in Yakima on 88.9 and Prosser on 92.3 will continue to operate normally.  Fringe area listeners are encouraged to listen on kolu.com during this time.

We hope to have the air conditioner repaired and be back to full power in a couple of days.  Your patience and prayers are appreciated.

At 10:20 Saturday, June 6, Dr. John Paisley, Station Manager for Christian Family Radio, turned on the massive disconnect switch that powered up KOLU’s new transmitter.  Then, Chief Engineer Martin Gibbs had Pastor Paisley start the transmitter to warm up the tubes before applying radio frequency power.

While the transmitter warmed up, Bro Gibbs disconnected the old transmitter from KOLU’s antenna, and installed the large jumper that would route nearly 20,000 watts of power to the antenna.

As soon as the antenna connection was ready, Pastor Paisley pressed the button to apply nearly 5,000 watts in “low power configuration” to start broadcasting from the antenna.  Then, after Bro Gibbs confirmed all was well, Pastor Paisley pressed the final button that engaged full power from the new transmitter and KOLU was on the air at 39,000* watts effective power!

Words cannot express our gratitude for all that you, our listeners have done to make this event possible.  We ask your continued prayers as we work to get the Gospel message of hope along with encouragement to Christians through the ministry of Christian Family Radio.

Although this is a tremendous milestone, we still have much work to do to really complete the upgrade.  We are planning to modify the transmitter in the next couple of months to eliminate one of the two tubes in it, saving over a thousand dollars per year.  We’d also like to get our old transmitter set up as a “live backup”, keeping KOLU and the translators on the air as much as possible.

*As we’ve mentioned before, FM power is rated by how much energy goes “sideways” from the antenna, which is the only power that counts.  Thus, an antenna gives “gain” to the transmitter output.  Depending on the configuration (and expense) of the antenna a wide variety of transmitter outputs can be used.

KOLU’s new transmitter has passed it’s final test, which means we will be applying for our license to operate at 39,000 watts as soon as we receive the test report.

Testing of “Radio Frequency Radiation”, or “RFR”, was required by the Construction Permit authorizing us to increase power.  This was due to concerns by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) that people near the tower could be subject to levels of radio signals that exceed standards that have been set for safety.

Engineer James Boyd "waving his wand"

Engineer James Boyd “waving his wand”

We appreciate the work of James Boyd of Boyd Broadcast Technical Services, who drove up from Portland to conduct the tests.  Tuesday morning we placed the transmitter on the air at 39,000 watts and James conducted measurements near our tower and was able to confirm that the signals were within safe levels.  James will send us a report this week that will be part of our license application.  After a short review of the report, the FCC will authorize us to begin “Program Testing”, which simply means we can start broadcasting at nearly 10 times the power!

We’re hoping to have the application in to the FCC by Monday, June 1, with approval later in the week.

Once again, our heartfelt thanks to all our listeners for your prayers and financial support of this major project.  We all are about to enjoy the fruits of those efforts!

On Thursday, May 7, we successfully tested KOLU at 39,000 watts! The test started around 3pm and the transmitter ran flawlessly until we returned to our current 4,100 watts at around 7pm. A couple of quick drives around town and to nearby areas confirmed the increase in signal with less “drop outs”. Fringe area listeners reported a much stronger signal as well.

This test is part of our required “equipment testing” to insure that all is working well before placing the transmitter on the air. We are required by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to have a measurement made of the strength of our signal on the ground near the antenna before we can apply for the license that authorizes us to broadcast at 39,000 watts. We are scheduling this test and expect to have it completed and receive the report within a couple of weeks.

In the meantime we have lots of work remaining to prepare the transmitter for full-time duty. Our remote control system needs to be set up to monitor the “health” of the transmitter and give us the ability to control it from our studio and other locations. We also want it to turn off automatically if something is wrong well before major repairs would be required. A robust grounding system that will protect the transmitter and other equipment during thunderstorms is being finished. We have a list of fixes and improvements for our used transmitter to make it as reliable as possible, and will try to have them completed before going on the air.

Once again, your prayers and financial support are a very important part of this project, and we are praising the Lord for each success. Our heart is to see Christian Family Radio used to bring glory to the Lord!

2015-05-02 CCA Full Power

Our “new” 20kW transmitter at full power!

We have crossed another milestone in the upgrade of KOLU to 39,000 watts.  The 20,000 watt transmitter has been tested at full power and is working well!

Along the way, we have installed a wire tray that will carry wiring that sends signals to control and monitor the transmitter.  Although we had completed re-wiring of the high voltage section, we weren’t entirely satisfied since some wire was brittle and there was many wires that had extra length, so we dove back into it and “cleaned up” that wiring.

The transmitter came up well although there were a couple of “hitches” along the way.  Some was due to our unfamiliarity with the control system and a couple of indicator lights that were burnt out.  Together with a wiring error in the smaller “driver” tube circuit, we had a couple of challenges yet all was figured out and fixed.  The transmitter engineer that is helping us commented that this used transmitter is in excellent condition, with only a few minor problems that we have easily corrected.

As of this writing, the transmitter is still tuned to the frequency of its former owners.  All power that the transmitter generated was directed into our “dummy load”, making for a lot of heat in the building!

Our next step in the upgrade will be to tune the transmitter to 90.1 MHz.  After this, we will run full power through the antenna for a couple of hours to make sure all is well.  This is what the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) describes as “equipment testing”, which we are authorized to do.  We are not authorized to leave it on the air, as testing for safety from strong radio frequency fields must be done before we can apply for the license that will authorize us to transmit at the higher power.

We will schedule the testing shortly.  While this is being arranged, we will complete the wiring to remotely control and monitor the transmitter.  The completion of the test report and an electronically-filed application for license will allow us to immediately broadcast at 39,000 watts, which is known as “program testing”.

In case you are wondering how a 20,000 watt transmitter produces 39,000 watts in coverage, it has to do with what is known as “antenna gain”.  Our antenna has a gain of about 2, which enables us to “multiply” our power compared to an antenna without as much gain.

Praise the Lord, we believe we are a few short weeks from broadcasting on KOLU at 39,000 watts!

 

As we continue to work on upgrading KOLU’s power to 39,000 watts, we now have electrical power connected.  We have also re-connected the wiring inside the transmitter in preparation for initial testing.

2015-04-14 CCA Transmitter Wired

The transmitter with wiring completed. Back doors are taken off to make the work easier to do

Several listeners have wondered why it is taking so long to complete this upgrade.  There are several reasons for this, the first being that we are optimists!  In order to save a huge amount of costs (literally over $100,000), we have been searching for used material that will do the job.  The biggest item (both by cost and weight!) is our “new” transmitter, a 1995 model that did nearly 20 years of continuous service in Iowa.  Bringing used equipment and material back to operating condition is a much greater challenge and takes time, and sometimes progress is halted while necessary parts are found.

We have many volunteers working on this project and others that are working for very low rates.  Jobs and businesses must be attended to, so we have to wait for them to have time.  But, of course, we really appreciate the sacrificial giving of their “spare time”!  This is the highest powered transmitter that I have ever installed, and we are taking our time as we learn while we repair and rebuild.

The shelf that holds the huge (over 100 pounds each!) capacitors in the transmitter

The shelf that holds the huge (over 100 pounds each!) capacitors in the transmitter

We are confident in bringing this project to a fruitful close.  God has brought many into this project that have excellent skills and experience in dealing with exactly the equipment and needs we have.  Our transmitter engineer has over 40 years of experience working with this type of transmitter.  Our electrician runs a very productive industrial electrical contracting business.  Many others are lending their extensive experience to this upgrade.

We are now getting very close to seeing KOLU’s power raised to 39,000 watts in the coming weeks!  Stay tuned…

In late March, Christian Family Radio Staff visited our new Yakima translator site to replace a temporary support on the receive antenna and to set up Internet access for the equipment installed there.  Although it took a bit longer than we planned (these kinds of things seem to happen that way!), we were able to replace the “stiff arm” that keeps the antenna from turning sideways in strong winds.  This stiff arm is made of fiberglass to prevent it from interfering with the operation of the antenna.

Of course, the receive antenna is a vital part of the system that takes a very small signal from KOLU, over 66 miles away, and sends it to the receiver so that we can have a clear signal to broadcast.

Receive Antenna with "stiff arm"

Receive Antenna with new “stiff arm”

The difficulty came in working over 40 feet off the ground and reaching where the stiff arm connects to the base of the antenna.  The antenna had to be “swung” sideways to be able to work on it, which meant the translator was off the air while this was being done.

Once it was connected to the base of the antenna, the rest of the work went quickly and we were back on the air.  Since then, there have been several windstorms in the area, but the antenna continues to point the right direction, giving a clear signal to our Yakima and Upper Valley listeners.

It took another visit and the installation of a different piece of equipment than originally planned, but we now are able to access both the receiver and transmitter parts of the translator remotely.  This enables us to check up on the translator without making the long drive to the site, and will help us to keep the translator on the air as much as possible.

Thank you for your prayers and faithful support that has enabled us to extend the ministry of Christian Family Radio into the Yakima area.

2015-03 New Program Log StickersWe’re pleased to announce that we’ve updated our window stickers to make them more readable and we also have fresh program logs containing the latest program schedule, how to contact the program producers and other information about Christian Family Radio.

Program logs and window stickers are free to our listeners.  Stickers are available for our main KOLU transmitter at 90.1 FM (Tri-Cities, Hermiston and outlying areas) and 88.9 (Yakima and the Upper Valley).  You may receive yours by contacting us and letting us know how many of each you’d like (feel free to pass them out!).  You can contact us through information on our Contact page.  Don’t use the comment section below, though, unless you want your information posted for all to see!

The new 5-ton air conditioning unit that is vital to keep our 20,000 watt transmitter cool has been moved into place at KOLU’s transmitter site.

2015-03-14 Air Conditioner SetThis unit is a packaged system, which requires no space inside our building.  This is important, as our once-roomy transmitter building is becoming full with a large 2-cabinet transmitter, a couple of equipment racks, along with space necessary to keep clear of electrical panels and disconnects.

Also, we met with the highly experienced engineer that is assisting us in assembling and testing the transmitter.  Tasks necessary to complete work on the transmitter were reviewed.  The good news is that the transmitter is in excellent condition, and we only need a few additional parts to begin this phase of the work.

Our electrician will be wiring the air conditioner unit and the transmitter shortly.  After this is done, holes will be cut into the building for duct work, then final work on the air conditioner will be completed.  Along with this we will begin testing the transmitter.

It’s exciting to see this project nearing completion.  Please keep this work, along with the safety of all those that are helping us, in your prayers.