Bringing an Old Earth Station back to Life

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Sparky599

Member
Folks:
A newbie here, with experience in RF/Telecom, and working on bringing a cold war relic back to life, specifically the Jamesburg Earth Station, Near Monterey CA.
http://www.jamesburgdish.org/Portals/14/Gallery/1005/100_0897.JPG

The Station supports a 100 ft steerable
(ATT/Comsat) dish, that had its own turret/pedestal, attached to a control room, and a 20,000 square ft concrete single story Bunker building. The Station once housed about 12-15,000,000 square ft of Racks of Earth Station Telecom Gear that has been removed, but when it was there, required considerable power and air conditioning/air movement systems.
You can see a photo collection at:
http://citi.sdsu.edu/gallery/projects/jamesburgearthstation/photoalbum_view?b_start:int=0

Our new use, will use a tiny fraction of the floor space, and power formerly used. The station is almost unoccupied, and empty most of the time, but has considerable monthly power bills, which cannot at this time, review in detail. Sometimes $2k or more per month. Local Power company powered it up in 1968, and it ran till about 2003.
I am looking for guidance to minimize quiescent electrical consumption, since it is very lightly used but may have latent power suckers that I have to learn about. I cannot fathom any electrical loads that can accumulate bills in the thousands of dollars per month, so there has to be something still sucking power when the station is shut down, either by design, or by some defect. When the station was in operation by ATT there was a staff of about 40-50 that worked inside daytime, and a smaller crew Evening/Night shifts. The supply to the building is 480 3 ph. There are (somewhere) in the building, 120 v. system transformers for normal office, and room outlets. Where do I look to find currently unknown loads? Or to do an overall audit of power consumption at Jamesburg?
All the Best,
Sparky599
 

cschmid

Senior Member
very kewl and were do you begin..I would check to see how many unused power supplies still have power on them..Some of the old supplies will still consume power even if they are not powered on..in fact some of the new power supplies do that..like your cell phone chargers or your laptop chargers..so if you got lots of them that will give you some consumption..

What are you going to do with the facility..
 

HighWirey

Senior Member
Sparky599 said:
Folks:
A newbie here, with experience in RF/Telecom, and working on bringing a cold war relic back to life, specifically the Jamesburg Earth Station, Near Monterey CA.
And some potential apprentices inquire here to ask why they should go into the trade . . .

They just need witness some of the stuff to which we electricians are privy . . .
 

LawnGuyLandSparky

Senior Member
LarryFine said:
I wonder if they get HBO with that bad boy? :grin:

LOL I as thinking exactly the same thing. I can even picture the late night, clandestine meeting in the parking lot with the rogue cable guy to procure a hot box...

But to answer the OPs question, I'm thinking some kind of pumps, sump pumps in the bowels? And could there be some kind of cathodolic protection system to keep all this metal from rusting?
 

HighWirey

Senior Member
LarryFine said:
I wonder if they get HBO with that bad boy? :grin:

They received whatever they pointed that bad boy at, and very clearly.

What a magnificant structure, and my hat is off especially to its origional engineers, and to all of the crafts involved in the origional construction, and to those men now involved in it's demise . . .

The USA is a great county.
 
Vent fans, pumps, safety lights, the possibilities are almost endless. You might want to make a scratch diagram of the power system simply by noting where the incoming service is, where the pipes go, and what everything is labeled. (Don't open anything more than the door on a breaker panel when you're doing this.) Once you have this, you'll know where the panels are. I expect that the panel schedules are emostly correct, so that should tell you what sort of things are connected where (ie. "Roof fan #2").

Will you do tours? The inlaws live in Carmel.
 

cowboyjwc

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Simi Valley, CA
The Southwestern Section meeting of the IAEI will be in Monterey this year.

You could invite them out and really get some opinions.:smile:

The company that built that dish may be located here in Simi Valley. I may be able to help get you some info. If they didn't make that one they build ones just like it.
 
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Those dishes use high power tube power amps to transmit a satellite signal. If the electronics are left in a hot standby mode, you will have coolant pumps running, electronics being powered, possible dish heaters turned on, and other loads of the like.
 

growler

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta,GA
Sparky599 said:
I am looking for guidance to minimize quiescent electrical consumption, since it is very lightly used but may have latent power suckers that I have to learn about. I cannot fathom any electrical loads that can accumulate bills in the thousands of dollars per month, so there has to be something still sucking power when the station is shut down, either by design, or by some defect.
Have you thought about having the power company do a power audit. It's normally not a free service but if you are wasting lots of money it may be worth it.

I know that many of the local power companies do provide this service but not all that many people seem to know about it. Call the engineers at your POCO and they can tell you if the service is provided.
 

augie47

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Tennessee
short of hiring a contractor (who' sevices might pay for themsleves quickly), I think zbang has given you the best advice for a "layman's" attack on the problem. It's a sophisocated enough project that the panels should be fairly well labeled. Try to tun off all the breakers that you feel you don't need. I would think you would need to look closely on how the facility is cooled. For your sake, hopefully it has seperate cooling units for different areas. Discuss with POCO the elements of the bill. You could have demand charges, power factor charges, transformer rental and a number of billing components that simply reduction in load might not effect.
As stated initally, the services of an EE or EC might quickly pay for itself.
 

Rampage_Rick

Senior Member
Best trainset ever!

Best trainset ever!

LarryFine said:
I wonder if they get HBO with that bad boy? :grin:
Heck, with a camcorder and an MPEG encoder you could probably knock HBO off the air. Betcha that thing can overpower the uplinks that Dave and Charlie use (DirecTV and DishNet)

Better yet, hijack the satellite station-keeping and play pinball with billions of dollars. How about Howard Stern on every satellite radio station?

Maybe these phantom loads are in fact caused by the secret "Echelon" room that was used to intercept all the satellite traffic... :roll:
 
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quogueelectric

Senior Member
Location
new york
HighWirey said:
They received whatever they pointed that bad boy at, and very clearly.

What a magnificant structure, and my hat is off especially to its origional engineers, and to all of the crafts involved in the origional construction, and to those men now involved in it's demise . . .

The USA is a great county.
I wonder if thier engineers argued as nice as our engineers?? Somehow I think they did. Edit to say until someone closed thier link.:grin:
 
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jrannis

Senior Member
Seems like you might have some exhaust fans running. Also, you might want to consider that you are being charged for demand. If you turn on a large load, even all of your lights at the same time, you will be charged that demand amount as a factor for your entire monthly usage. This can be done accidentally or can be as simple as a momentary power outage with your loads not coordinated to come on in a controlled sequence.
Good luck.
 

Sparky599

Member
Jamesburg, Electrical stuff; Mechanical Artistry

Jamesburg, Electrical stuff; Mechanical Artistry

Seems like you might have some exhaust fans running. Also, you might want to consider that you are being charged for demand. If you turn on a large load, even all of your lights at the same time, you will be charged that demand amount as a factor for your entire monthly usage. This can be done accidentally or can be as simple as a momentary power outage with your loads not coordinated to come on in a controlled sequence.
Good luck.

You are exactly right re demand. Former employees told me that the monthly high pressure fire hose ops test had to be done in conjunction with the Site power generator test, as a single run up of the high pressure pump, (50 hp) set the metering rate for the entire month to a very high rate.

I have to get down there, and spend some time in the docs to learn the layout of the electrical power systems in more detail

FYI: We are having amazing success at Moon bounce communications. We got the dish tracking system to precisely track the moon, so that the 1/2 degree radio beam stays dead center on the moon. The efficiency and gain of the system makes for very loud and clear voice communications, passivley bounced off the moon's dirt surface.

The original HPAs, and LNAs have been removed. We custom built some ham radio amplifiers, and microwave feed horns, running about 300 watts at the feed to do moon bounce

On You tube, search for OK1DFC to get an audio video clip of one of our moon bounce contacts.

For those that appreciate welding artistry, you have to see to believe the construction and welds of the support structure of the dish, on the back. Note that there are hardly any right angle welded junctions, and some junctions have as many as 6-8 intersecting beams. All this maintains the dish parabola to an accuracy of +-.050", whether it points up, at 45 degrees or near horizontal to the horizon. That is "Old school" tolerances of 40 years ago when the dish was bult. Now, dishes have to maintain even tighter dimensional specs.

best, Sparky599
 
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