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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Filecasting: Waves of the Future

On December 24th, 1906, the first known wireless radio broadcast in the world’s history was made by Reginald Aubrey Fessenden and was heard by the crew members of several ships out in the Atlantic Ocean. Accustomed to hearing only the dots and dashes of Morse code, radio operators on these ships were astonished to hear a human voice speaking to them through their headsets that Christmas Eve. This was the broadcast schedule of that evening in Fessenden’s own words: "The program on Christmas Eve was as follows: first a short speech by me saying what we were going to do, then some phonograph music.--The music on the phonograph being Handel's 'Largo'. Then came a violin solo by me, being a composition of Gounod called 'O, Holy Night', and ending up with the words 'Adore and be still' of which I sang one verse, in addition to playing on the violin, though the singing of course was not very good. Then came the Bible text, 'Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will', and finally we wound up by wishing them a Merry Christmas and then saying that we proposed to broadcast again New Year's Eve."

FCBH representatives coordinating with their
colleagues in Chang Mai over the phone
On June 8th, 2016, nearly 110 years to date after this first wireless audio broadcast, the gospel was once again used to make history in the world of radio. Through a partnership with Faith Comes By Hearing (FCBH), we had the enormous privilege here at KTWR on Guam to take part in this historic moment when representatives from FCBH used one of TWR’s antennas to send a digital data file 3,000 miles to their colleagues in Thailand. This type of transmission is known as filecasting, and by God’s grace and through the genius of several men and women, this technology will be used to reach many with the gospel.

Filecasting is possible because of DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) technology.  In 2010, the delivery of the two Thomson transmitters to our site on Guam was so exciting because these transmitters possess DRM capabilities. This technology allows us to broadcast material through shortwave frequencies but with digital sound quality. To hear the difference between the sound quality of analogue versus digital broadcasts, visit the official DRM webpage. Additionally, DRM transmissions are cost-effective because they require the use of less power. And now the fact that we have DRM transmitters is even more exciting because it allows us to partner with FCBH to get digital copies of Scripture into the hands of people who would not have had access to it otherwise.

A DRM radio picking up the Bible.is app
filecasting signal
During the filecasting tests that were conducted on Guam the week of June 8th this year, one of TWR’s antennas was basically turned into a giant Wi-Fi router. The antenna was then used to send a data file through the atmosphere, without the use of wires or satellites, to Chang Mai, Thailand. This type of transmission will make it possible in the near future for those who do not have access to the Internet to receive and download to their devices the FCBH Bible.is app, which contains the dramatized audio Bible, the JESUS film and more. The Bible.is app is part of their Global Bible Network initiative. Watch the FCBH video describing this initiative here. Please pray with us that God would bless this initiative and would use this technology to reach many for His kingdom and glory.

TWR staff members, Mike and George, monitoring the transmitter
performance during the filecasting tests
TWR's antennas from a distance, one of which was essentially turned
into a giant Wi-Fi router for the filecasting tests

To read TWR’s announcement regarding the success of these tests, click here.

To read more about the details of these tests and the hope for the use of this technology, click here.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Interns on Guam

On June 4th, three college students from the States stepped off a plane and walked out of the airport into the humid Guam air to begin two-month long engineering internships with TWR. Drew, Eric, and Michael are gaining invaluable practical experience for potential engineering jobs in the future, but they aren’t the only ones who have something to gain during these two months. According to Dale Philyaw, one of KTWR’s engineers and the staff member overseeing the interns, these young men have proven themselves to be willing helpers during a very busy season for our staff on Guam. Here’s a look at what brought each of them here this summer and the tasks they’re helping to accomplish:

Drew Swearingen is a senior at Purdue University majoring in Mechanical Engineering Technology. Last summer, Drew spent time in Africa doing mission work through his church, but before leaving, he had learned about TWR and its internship opportunities. He decided to apply for one of those opportunities this year in order to experience what it’s like to use his technical skills for missions. Drew desires to be open to serving the Lord in ministry someday with his degree if that’s where the Lord leads him.

Drew helping to run a fiber optic line from the solar panels outside to the control room inside
Eric Rowe is a senior at Dordt College majoring in Mechanical Engineering. Eric was interested in exploring how missions and engineering could be integrated, and after doing a Google search for missions engineering internships, he found TWR’s webpage and decided to apply. Not only does he believe the work to be beneficial, but he also sees the opportunity to live in a different geographical and cultural setting as a valuable experience.

Eric weed eating around the radio towers
Michael (Mike) Pasti is a senior at Messiah College majoring in Electrical Engineering. Mike found out about TWR internship opportunities through a job fair at his college. After college Mike plans to get a job and gain more work experience and save money. He desires to make and keep connections on the field for potential full-time ministry prospects in the future. He also hopes to take home some local Chamorro recipes to share with others back at home.

Mike helping to create a test for one of the transmitter parts to determine where there's a fault in the part
All three of these young men could have gotten jobs during their last summer breaks of college or found internships that paid, but the Lord led each of them here, and they were obedient to His calling in their lives. We are so grateful for their willingness to work hard and to serve our staff and our listeners.


From left to right: Drew, Eric, and Mike

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Antenna Rigging

Sterling harnessed in and hoisted high
Wind and rust damage are regular occurrences on Guam, and KTWR’s radio towers and antennas are not immune to the elements here. Not only do wind and salt water damage the equipment, but radiofrequency (RF) damage—essentially burn damage from transmitting—is also an issue. These problems make regular maintenance and repair an absolute necessity.

Last week, Sterling and Tom arrived on Guam from Cary, North Carolina to help with this great need. Sterling, a TWR staff member from Cary, lived and served on Guam for ten years as an antenna rigger before moving back to the States with his wife and daughter. Tom, a volunteer, is a trained metal worker and is sacrificially offering his time and talents to make replacement parts for the transmitters. While they are here, they will clean the rusted parts throughout the antenna field, replace damaged feed lines and plates, reconnect parts of the antenna screen, check and tighten the bolts on the antennas that are electrical connections, and so on.

But why would we need someone from off-island to come and accomplish these tasks? Don’t we have the staff here necessary to maintain and repair the antennas? The short answer: No. And we need help!

Tom in the workshop
Jim McIntyre has served the Lord at KTWR on Guam since 1990. Jim does a lot to help around the transmitter site, including being our main (and only) antenna rigger. But antenna rigging and maintenance for ten towers and six curtain array antennas takes a lot more than one man and the occasional volunteer.

As Sterling and Tom work hard to help with this critical need, two members of our video department from Cary have also come to Guam to film this process. Their goal is to capture the tasks of an antenna rigger and the importance of this position, and with this footage, they will create an appeal for help using visual media.

Kate and Candace with the video team filming Jim and Sterling at work
Please pray with us as we ask the Lord to provide for this very important need on Guam. To loosely quote Paul in regard to radio ministry, “The preacher on the radio program cannot say to the transmitter engineer, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the musician whose worship music is played on the radio to the antenna rigger, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable…” (1 Corinthians 12:21-22).


To read the job description for this position, click here.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Final Dummy Load Update


In 2010, the staff at KTWR began the intricate Transmitter Replacement Project (see the post from July 13, 2010). It has taken many hours of hard labor, fundraising, and prayer, and this year the completion of the Dummy Load installation marks the end of this incredible project.

You can follow the progress of this project by reading through the blog posts from the past six years, but in summary, it has involved the retiring of one of our transmitters and the installment of two new transmitters, known as Thomson transmitters. These new transmitters are capable of broadcasting using DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) technology, which means we can transmit analog
shortwave broadcasts with digital quality. Using DRM technology allows us to reach a wider audience with better sound quality—and is there a more worthy message that deserves to be communicated as clearly as possible than the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

The Dummy Load installation began last year (see the post from July 27, 2015) and was completed this March. The Dummy Load is important because it acts as a sort of fake (or dummy) antenna, allowing our engineers to test the power of the new transmitters. Sometimes when broadcasting, the transmitters indicate that they’re using the correct amount of power when they really aren’t. We want the broadcasts to reach the right people in the right places, so transmitting with the right amount of power is crucial. If the real antennas were used to check the power output, we would risk interfering with other broadcasters. Because of the Dummy Load, we can now appropriately measure how much power the transmitters are actually putting out to ensure our listeners hear the Word of God.
Not only is this equipment used for power measurement, it also gives us a way to perform other tests that require the transmitter to be putting out a signal without the aforementioned interference issue. The Dummy Load has been tested, it works, and we praise the Lord for it!


Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!
Psalm 90:17


These are the resistors of the dummy (test) load that act as an antenna so the power from the transmitters can be tested. These resistors are situated inside a concrete enclosure for protection against the often punishing elements here on Guam.

The metal box to the far right is the chiller, which is needed because when testing the transmitters a large amount of energy is sent to the test load, creating a lot of heat. The beige structure directly to the left of the chiller is the concrete structure surrounding the dummy load. The series of metal boxes and black lines directly to the left of that is the switch matrix. This matrix connects the transmitters to the antennas and increases broadcast reliability. If a transmitter or antenna fails, it allows our operators to switch the power from a different transmitter or to a different antenna so we can continue broadcasting. It also gives us flexibility in choosing which transmitter/antenna combination is the best for reaching particular audiences. By hooking up the Dummy Load to the matrix, we are able to switch the power from the antennas to the Dummy Load so tests can be run.

The KTWR site to date. You can see the Dummy Load and matrix center-left, between the KTWR building and the antenna field.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Resurfacing

At the end of last week, KTWR staff members completed a task in the Transmitter (TX) hall that has been a long time coming—resurfacing the floor. The TX hall rehab has been in process over the last six years as it has seen the retiring of one transmitter in 2010 and the arrival of two new transmitters in 2011. Throughout the decommissioning and installation processes, the floor got a little torn up and some trenches were made where lines for previous transmitters were removed.

Now, the trenches are filled in and epoxy paint and coating have been applied to the floor of the entire TX hall to give it a smooth, clean finish. The new floor is easier to clean, more pleasing to the eye for visitors, and creates a safer work environment. The Lord has entrusted this site to TWR, and we’re grateful to those who are faithful to do these “little” things so that the greater aspects of the ministry may be carried out more effectively.

The old floor and trenches after they had been filled in.


The new floor!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Dummy Load Update

It's been a while since we've shared about the progress of installing the new antenna test load. With the plumbing and electrical hookups completed, we have been working on building an enclosure for the test load to keep it safe from the punishing elements here on Guam. We have constructed a concrete block building, fabricated louvers (vented windows) to keep the rain out, and poured a concrete roof on the building. You can see the progress below. All that remains is to complete the RF hookup that will connect the test load to the switch matrix, and make sure that all the communication links are working properly!

Mixing up the concrete.

Pouring the mixed concrete into the wheelbarrow.
Jim had the grand idea of using the forklift to raise the wheelbarrow so we could walk it out right onto the roof and pour!
Pouring the concrete onto the roof.
The finished dummy load enclosure! It just needs some finishing touches (louvers, door, etc.).

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Panels Are Online!

With all of the electrical hookups complete, an inspector from Guam Power Authority came by the office last week and gave us the go-ahead to flip the breaker to allow power to begin flowing from the solar panels into our distribution panel! So we are beginning to see the benefit of the solar panel array that we have been anxiously waiting to use. These additional 20 kW of power, combined with the 23 kW in the first phase, will allow us to generate about 300 kWh of energy on a nice, sunny Guam day. Over time, this will make a big difference in our energy budget, and will allow us to direct more funds to ministry expenses, such as more programming for the transmitters.
The inverter has a display screen showing the voltage, current, power and energy outputs of the PV system. The left side has the DC values coming into the inverter from the panels, and the right side has the AC output from the inverter to the building.

The inverter is mounted outside on the support posts for the panels.

The finished product happily chugging out power!