“The ND-5 came on at low power. It had not been cleaned out but just allowed to dry in the sun… [it] came on at high power too without complaint.”

-Don Payne, Chief Engineer
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Nautel still services every model of transmitter it’s ever manufactured. Spanning over 40 years, this visibly demonstrates our commitment to our customers. A portion of Nautel engineering time is spent re-engineering assemblies where parts are no longer available, to keep these older transmitters up and running.
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Nautel ND-5 Transmitter Survives Major Flooding at WTLC


The early summer weather of June 2008 was interrupted on Wednesday June 4th when it started to rain in central Indiana. It kept raining for three days, producing the worst flooding since 1913. As the rain continued, Don Payne, chief engineer for WTLC, watched the level of the White River rising as it flowed through Indianapolis.

The WTLC two tower transmitter site is in Frog Hollow, a part of the flood plain of the White River. The water kept rising and finally completely surrounded the transmitter building and the towers. Don says, “There was nothing we could do but just watch and hope the water stopped before it caused any damage.”



WTLC site as the flood waters recede

On Saturday, June 7, the transmitter went off the air at about 10 AM and the site lost utility power. The site was completely under water that was laced with fine brown silt. The rain stopped about the time the station went off the air but the flood water kept Don out until Monday morning.

What Don found at the site was not pretty. The water level inside the transmitter building had reached 31 inches, easily indicated by the level of the brown muck on everything. Cleaning up all the muck was going to prove difficult since there was no fresh water at the site. Don headed for the hardware store to pick up cleaning supplies and a vacuum and then picked up containers of water.


Typical view of muck and silt inside the equipment

The first task was to clear out the old office furniture, boxes and old equipment that had been stored in the building. Then Don looked around at the damage. The generator had been under water to a level that it did not start when power was cut off. The Kintronics phasor, new HD transmitter and equipment racks had the silt line up to 31 inches. Don found that his site’s new transmitter had burned out its power supplies and other parts (and later he determined that it was beyond repair).

With some help from John Takach, CE from sister stations in Cincinnati, the Nautel ND-5 transmitter was slid out of the building into the sun to dry out while other cleaning continued.

Once the Nautel was mostly dry, they pushed it back into the building, hooked up the AC and day tower, and pushed ‘RF On’. The ND-5 came on at low power. It had not been cleaned out but just allowed to dry in the sun. Don left it on at low power for a while to make sure it was completely dry inside before turning on 5 kilowatts. The Nautel came on at high power, too, without complaint. Cleanup continued while the Nautel hummed along.


CE John Takach drying out the Nautel ND-5

The cleanup process was time consuming since everything in the building was under nearly three feet of water at one time and the silt/muck was in and on everything. The station operated in non-direct mode for several days with very low power at night until the phasor and tower LTUs could be cleaned up.


Nautel ND-5 transmitter back on the air at low power — note the brown color of the floor and the brown debris inside the transmitter at far right

Some of the rack equipment got washed out. Although pouring water on electronic equipment is counter-intuitive, Don says, “Since it had been under water, just wash it out. What have you got to lose?”

Cleanup continued and finally Don got the station back on normal day and night operation. Through all the cleanup the Nautel ND-5 was a reliable workhorse for WTLC.

In early 2010 the Nautel ND-5 is still on the air just like it was on that Monday after the flood. Don is now looking to Nautel for a quote to replace the HD transmitter that was ‘fried’ in the flood of 2008.

Don Payne
Chief Engineer
Indianapolis, IN

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