When it came time to finalize its plans for coping with Phase One and Phase Two of the TV spectrum repack process, an Illinois-based owner of nine TV stations was faced with a choice. Ultimately, it opted to acquire UHF and VHF antennas, filers and transmission lines customized for each of its stations. The company it went with: Dielectric.
The maker of purpose-engineered antennas and RF systems for TV and radio broadcasters will ship the first two of nine recently ordered antenna systems to Quincy Media Inc. (QMI) in the spring of 2018.
While QMI anticipates repack work with Dielectric across all nine repack phases, the initial nine-station deal was struck to quickly accommodate the tight timelines of the first two phases.
Dielectric is accelerating production and delivery through new efficient design and operational methods, in addition to expanding manufacturing capacity with a new facility in Lewiston, Maine, to produce TV antennas.
“We have all of our primary and interim antenna designs for Phase One and Two ready to go, and are now turning our attention to the later phases,” said Brady Dreasler, corporate director of engineering for Quincy Media Inc. “However, we needed to have our first two stations addressed very rapidly, and the support and high-quality engineering we have received from Dielectric over the years clearly made them the right choice.”
Dreasler worked directly with Dielectric’s Global OEM Sales Manager, Cory Edwards, to design side- and top-mounted, high-power antennas for each system using the company’s Dielectric Antenna Systems Planning DASP software program.
The first two of the nine orders include Dielectric TFU-WB UHF broadband pylon arrays for KTIV-14 in Sioux City, Iowa; and WXOW-28 in La Crosse, Wisc.
The first shipment will also include six TFU-WB UHF broadband antennas for QMI stations in need of interim repack antennas as tower crews remove old systems. Dielectric will ship rigid transmission line with the primary and interim antenna systems, which will be manufactured in the company’s Lewiston facility.
Dreasler notes that the Dielectric team’s problem-solving approach to antenna design has been helpful over the years, and, along with the longevity of its systems, was a paramount reason for working with the company through the expected 39-month repack period.
“The antenna design for KTIV is an ideal example of their professionalism and experience,” said Dreasler. “That station is moving from Channel 46 down to Channel 14, which is a remarkable difference in the RF spectrum. To achieve the same antenna gain, the design is significantly longer with added weight. Dielectric has been very helpful in achieving the right combination of size and weight to operate on the existing tower, and making adjustments along the way to help us minimize tower work.”
While the installations will address repack needs in the short run, most of the arrays ordered across all phases will incorporate elliptical polarization for enhanced reception performance in ATSC 1.0, and in preparation for new broadcast opportunities supported in the ATSC 3.0 standard.
Dielectric will also supply its compact, high-efficiency band tunable filters for several stations, including KTIV. Dreasler notes that many of these filters will be installed to operate on current, pre-transition channel assignments then, taking advantage of Dielectric’s advanced band tunable design, retuned to the new repack channel assignment once the new antenna is installed. Dielectric’s new band-tunable filter designs also remove many traditional components, including Tee junctions and elbows, freeing more space inside the transmitter facility.
“The unifying theme of Dielectric’s products come down to longevity and solid engineering,” said Dreasler. “We still have Dielectric bat wings (then RCA) in the field approaching 60 years of service. They helped our stations through the 2009 DTV transition, and supported us through a major burnout at a tower location three years ago. It’s one thing to deliver working systems, but, when we order these major, long-life expectancy systems, we’re always thinking ‘Will this company be here to help us five years from now? History tells us that Dielectric will.”