Documentation

Documentation

You all document your station don’t you? I’m not speaking of a logbook, but rather particulars about your station. They could range from settings on your tuner or amplifier to RF radiation exposure tests you have conducted to meet FCC requirements. I know you all have met those requirements.

One area that became important to me was: How did I construct something? You never know…you may wish to go back one day and recall that info and if it is written or drawn, it can be quite handy. I’m not sure I started with such lofty goals. It was more likely that I started by designing things on paper until the the designs became practical. One day I found I had much paperwork that showed just how things had been accomplished around here and I decided to bind and catalog them. That’s probably the true sequence of events.

Most assuredly, I have gone back and consulted those files many times. I am very glad I have those files. Of course, you have to remember to keep up with the task. At this point I am getting close to 200 drawings and other files. Some of the files (as opposed to drawings) contain information like when a item was purchased, when something was placed into service, what filters are installed in a particular device, what the frequency limits of a particular radio are, what hardlines go where and so forth. You could probably get carried away with such an effort, but my strong belief is that you will profit from the extra effort it takes to create these records.

Let us do a ‘for instance’. Say, a bolt breaks up high and needs replacement. You find parts on the ground. Maybe you can tell the bolt diameter and thread pitch, but what about the length? What about the bolt grade? What extra effort will be necessary to actually replace it? If you have a drawing to consult, you may have all the answers in hand and not have to make a climb just to get those answers. Alright, maybe that’s not such a good example, but I have definitely saved myself a few climbs by going to the books first.

Now let’s expand the concept to LABELING. Here I have not as good a job and sure wish I had. When originally installed, many of my feedlines had specific purposes and were labeled accordingly. But, as the years roll by, things change. Antennas fail, your desires change, etc, etc. Now I am running into the problem of looking at a hardline on the tower and wondering just where this hardline goes. It’s very frustrating and wastes tower time. I do not like wasting tower time.

Indoor labeling is one thing but outdoor labeling is not so easy. At one point I decided to create a cable labeling system. One set of numbers would indicate if it was and RF line, data line or control line. There was of course, a sequence number too. I think I added some other number, but heck, I’ve forgotten what it was for. Maybe it was for a frequency band or something. Oh well, it was a good idea while it lasted! Outdoor labeling is difficult simply because the elements tend to degrade or destroy your labels.

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