Gates BC-1E and Collins 20V Transmitters


Although I work full time at a university I have a couple part time jobs, they involve working on radio and television broadcast transmitters. There is a link on the web page that will take you to the CC Radio sites that I maintain in Salisbury and Ocean City Maryland:

 Transmitter Site Tour Active AM & FM Broadcast sites

Hope to soon put together something on the two television transmitter sites and maybe something on the death of analog television, it's amazing to go from operating a couple IOT 30 kW liquid cooled transmitters to easily operated 5 kW solid state digital transmitters but thatís a different story. What this page is about is what happens to the old broadcast transmitters. Myself I have to say that by the time they go I am usually glad to see the last of them. Most old transmitters become secondary or standby transmitters and then after the primary transmitter gets replaced the oldest transmitter gets the boot. Sometimes we have given old transmitters to sister stations for parts to maintain their backup transmitter and other times we disassembled them and keep choice parts and dispose of the rest. Some particular nasty pieces of work like this MW-5B that were always trouble got special treatment, squashed this one up with a backhoe.

Interesting thing is after we knocked the building down and squashed the transmitter this 5U4 survived the carnage.


But some of the oldest transmitters find a new life; Ham radio operators inherit them and restore them to like new condition. This Gates BC-1 belonged to WDOV in Dover Delaware and back when I was in high school in the seventies I worked on this very transmitter. At that time it was a backup or standby transmitter but it was still maintained and used when the main was off the air.

My memories of this were in a dimly lit room with layers of dust and dirt and that was thirty years ago. Couple year's back it was given away and I had seen it again at that time and at that point the years had not been good to it. Much hacking and poor quality work had been done to it and it was far from working condition. Now this transmitter has been fully restored and looks in new condition, quite a bit of work for something almost sixty years old.


If you ask me if I would ever be working on a BC-1 again I would have thought no way would anyone be crazy enough to try to keep something that old in operation or have something that old and in that bad of shape and expect to use it but instead here is a BC-1 in perfect condition and a pleasure to work on. In this picture I am running up the RF output stages without the modulator tubes to check the overall output.

I am fortunate that I am only doing testing, tuning and conversion of the RF stages to the Ham bands.

 All the hard work of restoration has been done by its new owner Bob Rickards WA3GGM.

Collins 20V-2 Transmitter


Although  have never worked on a Collins 20V before I have work on several Gates/Harris and RCA vacuum tube transmitters before so this one is not so different. Again you can see the quality work that had been carried out in its restoration.

A close up of the exciter deck, all shiny and new looking!           Plate voltage and current meters, little different then the old DX-60!


Once Again, all the hard work of cleaning and restoration was done by the owner Al Waller K3TKJ

I just had to show up and check it before he applied plate power. An advantage to almost all the old broadcast transmitters is they have plenty of windows so you can watch the tubes glow. You can see the modulators that always have a red tint to them along with the rectifiers and their blue mercury glow. I used to replace all the mercury rectifiers as soon as I came across them but now like to see them in service, also find its better for the old transmitters to use the tubes then shocking them with the solid state replacements.



Have to put in at least a couple pictures of myself and Megan. No, she wasn't driving the backhoe but itís a neat picture.


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