Better is the end of a thing than the beginning of it; Ecc. 7:8
Sometimes it is not the destination but the journey that matters. The journey of the WMLK Radio transmitter project provides a very interesting story. WMLK Radio had very humble beginnings. We acquired a 50,000 watt AM transmitter from a broker in 1981. The cost was low so we embarked on the task of converting this unit to Short Wave use. Wow! Were we in for a surprise! The work of conversion was very challenging to say the least! We soon found out that going from AM to Short Wave required obtaining exotic parts of enormous cost! The transition required in going from operating at the lower frequency range to the higher frequencies required by Show Wave was going to be costly to say the least. Observe the following picture of this AM set before rebuild.
This unit had to be completely disassembled, all parts checked for relevance, and then repaired if broken. Many of the parts were not frequency agile. In other words, not useful for frequencies at Short Wave levels. The finals and the sockets had to be replaced with new tube sockets and new tubes. The set came with RCA 5671 tubes which could only operate up to 10 Megahertz under Lab conditions. (See picture below.)
These fell short of our needs so we replaced them with Machlett 6697A tubes. These tubes could accommodate both the frequency and power requirements necessary to obtain our objective.
As the rebuild progressed we found the materials required were exotic (to say the least) and very expensive. As the costs for this adventure relied on contributions from members and co-workers the money was not always readily available. The members and co-workers on the average are poor people rich in faith! We had to rely on miracles from Almighty Yahweh to make any progress many, many times. The effort was steady but slow. Progress came slowly because Satan does not give ground easily! his obstacles were many and difficult.
The following is a picture of the RCA BTA 50G that was obtained for this rebuild purpose. Looking at this now makes me wonder how we did it!
The above shows the transmitter cabinets, the High Power transformers, the Low Power transformer (for the 4CX5000A Driver tubes) and the High-Voltage Reactor.
The RCA BTA 50G Assembled prior to renovation. The tube sockets were found to be useless for our application. The HV 6894 rectification tubes had to be replaced by Solid State rectifiers. The Exciter/Modulator had to be replaced. So what we initially did was to completely strip the cabinets and start our rebuild from the ground up! This proved to be extremely challenging! Not being one to run from a challenge (even one of this magnitude) we proceeded onward!
This is the converted 50,000 watt RCA BTA 50G as it looks today. We have been broadcasting with this unit almost 20 years if you include the initial test broadcasts that started in 1983. Truly it was an adventure worthy of a Pioneer!
Well! What is WMLK Radio doing today? Good question! Thanks for asking! A new adventure for WMLK Radio began when we were instructed by the FCC that our signal strength to our target area had to be at a certain level to assure protection of our assigned frequency. We soon found out that 50KW transmitters were just not keeping up with the larger units being used by Short Wave broadcasters, the smallest being 100KW. Only a couple of stations here in the USA were using 50 KW units. (Ours being one!) You must have no less than 50KW to even broadcast in the Short Wave broadcast spectrum. So we decided to up our power to 100KW. We then found and purchased another 50KW set to renovate and rebuild. This time it was a RCA BTA 50F. A newer version of our first set. Another adventure was about to begin!
Here is the RCA BTA 50F with me!
However, this time things would be different! We would begin with the knowledge acquired from the first set and apply it to this one! We were in for a financial surprise! With new technological advancements since the initial undertaking, we leaned towards using a stepping modulator configuration. The surprise came when the cost inquiry was made. It was around $150,000 give or take a thousand! Wow! Directing Elder Jacob O. Meyer said! Where are we going to get that kind of money he asked? However, this was the most cost effective way to go overall I informed him. It would take a miracle from Almighty Yahweh we thought! Little did we know the surprise Almighty Yahweh had in store for us!
Other alternatives were pursued! Perhaps I could find a used 100 KW unit somewhere I thought! This would be less expensive perhaps! So we began making a diligent inquiry into the possibility of finding a used unit. This was a very difficult we soon found out. The 100 KW units on the market were limited and usually taken very quickly by Foreign broadcasters. They usually are financially limited and these units are cost effective for them. The search was not proving lucrative for us at this time.
WMLK Radio has a very good reputation with a lot of people in the broadcast industry. We have been attending the NASB meetings almost from the beginning. (Elder Jacob O. Meyer was installed recently on the NASBs' Board of Directors.) It was at one of these meetings that inquiry was made as to the availability of used TX units. One of the FCC representatives said he might be able to help. We left and returned to our location here in Bethel, PA. The following week an e-mail arrived at my in box. There was a lead to a European Broker listed in this electronic missive. I followed up on the information provided and found it to be viable. It has been a long standing personal policy of mine since working under Elder Jacob O. Meyer to provide him with as much information as possible so he can make an informed decision on every matter dealing with WMLK Radio.
I presented the facts to Elder Meyer and related the cost of this unit in the hands of the European Broker. I compared the cost of the stepping modulator to the cost of this TX and let him ponder the evidence for consideration. The decision was made to get in direct contact with this broker and put everything on the table. This included the best negotiable cost. The accessories attached. The location of said unit and transportation costs to Bethel, PA USA
Elder Meyer then decided that we must go and view this unit personally. This was in July 2000. The ticket arrangements were made and viola! we were on our way to Italy! Yes! Italy! That was where the 250,000 Watt BBC unit was being stored.
Here the 250 KW unit is being prepared in Italy for shipping to our location in Bethel, PA USA
Notice the huge lifting apparatus required to raise this large wonderful unit! This unit is one accentual piece. It weighs over 10 Tons! That's over 20,000'#. It is almost twenty feet long! Almost eight feet high! Wow! What a piece of craftsmanship overall!
Here is Elder Meyer in front of the TX in Italy! Was he ever excited! He said this was like a small house! He called it Beth Shaliach! House of outreach!
I want to bring you up to date. This unit has been completely reassembled here at the radio station in Bethel, PA USA We are in the stage known as the shake down stage. This is where you test each stage for viability. It was at the Feast of Tabernacles 2003 that Elder Jacob O. Meyer (with his wife Ruth at his side) was able to realize an accomplishment of over three years( if you include all the preparations) in the making. He was able to dedicate this magnificent unit into the service of Almighty Yahweh and Yahshua the Messiah our King! HalleluYah! Elder Meyer then turned on the switch, pushed a few sequential buttons and the unit was powered up! Wow! Was everyone in attendance excited!
You will be able to view some of these TX dedication photos on our web site at:
P.S. It is with sadness that I noted while writing this page, the passing of one of WMLKs' co-workers who was of considerable help to me personally in the initial project. Tadd Bueb died in 1997 of cancer, he was only 46 years old!
In Yahshua's Service Gary A. McAvin