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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Power Struggles and the Challenges of a New Year

Over the last several months, it seems as if we have encountered problem after problem with our transmitters. When a transmitter goes down during the evening broadcasts or we receive feedback from listeners indicating glitches in the broadcasts, our engineers and IT personnel labor long hours to pinpoint what went wrong—a daunting task considering there are well over a thousand different parts in each transmitter and not all of them are easy to access or even to see. Because we transmit every night, when a transmitter does fail or has issues, our engineers are on a time crunch to figure out either a temporary solution to get the transmitters through the next night or (and it’s what we always hope happens) to figure out a more permanent solution that will ensure no more issues. At least for a while.

You may ask the reason for these recent technical difficulties. Most of the issues can be attributed to the old age of certain equipment, heat stress (it takes a lot of power to run these transmitters, which produces a lot of heat), and every-day mechanical wear. Sometimes these issues can be attributed to a lack of stable power, though. In the United States, we tend to take for granted stable power, but the reality is that much of the world does not have that luxury. Although Guam is by most standards a well-developed island, there are still struggles to have stable power, especially in the last couple of years. The Guam Power Authority (GPA) has had its own issues due to damage to equipment from typhoons and also mechanical failures. This lack of stable power from our power source (GPA) causes stress on our transmitters. Although we don’t always see the source of the problem right away, we serve a God who sees it all and knows it all, and by His power and grace, He keeps the transmitters running or allows our staff to find the cause of whatever issue the transmitters are meting out in that moment.

We ask as the New Year starts that you praise the Lord with us for the many who were able to listen to the broadcasts from KTWR in 2016 and hear the Good News that God has saved us from our sins through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus on the cross, and praise Him for the many Christians who live in fear and under persecution who were able to be strengthened in their faith by the messages with which we are able to provide them. We also ask you to pray that the Lord would continue to help our engineers and IT personnel to have clear minds and to find the source of individual problems with our equipment and that we would have the means to fix them so that people may continue to hear, and that by hearing they may believe, and that by believing the may call on the Lord who saves (Romans 10:13-15).

In these pictures you will see two of our engineers working to fix one of the problems we encountered in December. This is a good example of the difficulty of pinpointing the source of a transmitter failure. In the pictures they are replacing a transformer, which provides power for the main tube in the transmitter. Because the failures we were facing at the time were intermittent failures, it was hard to find the cause. Once they figured it might be the transformer, they replaced it. However, after replacing this part, the transmitter continued to fail. Later, they found two capacitors (roughly the size of ink cartridges, so they were difficult to see and difficult to reach) that had failed. These capacitors were on the transformer output, which is why it would be easy to think initially that the transformer was the source of the intermittent failures.    

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