AM Radio Broadcast Uses Phasor To Let Eight Towers Spray One Big Signal

If you’re in the commercial AM radio business, you want to send your signal as far and wide as possible. More listeners means you can make more ad revenue, after all. [Jeff Geerling] recently visited a tower site for WSDZ-AM, which uses a full eight towers to broadcast its 20kW AM signal. To do that, it needs a phasor to keep everything in tune. Or, uh… phase.

The phasor uses a bunch of variable inductors and capacitors to manage the phase of the signal fed to each tower. Basically, by varying the phase of the AM signal going to each of the 8 transmitter towers, it’s possible to tune the directionality of the tower array. This allows the station to ensure it’s only broadcasting to the area it’s legally licensed to do so.

The tower array is also configured to broadcast slightly differently during the day and at night to account for the differences in propagation that occur. A certain subset of the 8 towers are used for the day propagation pattern, while a different subset is used to shape the pattern for the night shift. AM signals can go far farther at night, so it’s important for stations to vary their output to avoid swamping neighbouring stations when the sun goes down.

[Jeff’s] video is a great tour of a working AM broadcast transmitter. If you’ve ever wondered about the hardware running your local commercial station, this is the insight you’re looking for.¬†AM radio may be old-school, but it continues to fascinate us to this day. Video after the break.

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Phasors In LTSpice

[Ted] recently demonstrated the analysis of an RL circuit using a piece of paper, Octave, and LTSpice. If you prefer, the Octave code should work fine in MATLAB, as well. If you are looking to get serious about electronic theory this is a reasonably simple case and is a good chance to get a workout with some of the tools.

We like the approach because too often it is easy to just use the computer and not pick up the understanding that you get when working through a problem by hand. You do need to understand complex numbers, but, overall, the math isn’t too hairy.

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Phasor A/V PAL Demo Uses ATmega88


Above is a new demo video called Phasor developed by [Lft]. It is run from an AVR ATmega88 and a few passive components, and the result is pretty amazing. [Lft] goes into detail about the tricks he used to get this up and running. The chip is clocked at 17.73447 MHz which is exactly four times the frequency of the PAL color carrier wave which allows him to fake a smooth signal. He also uses a timer trick to get the voltages that he needs. The work done here is beyond hardcore and quite frankly we can’t believe he managed to fit all of this into 8.5 KB of program space with just 1 KB or RAM. We wonder if there’s enough room there to add sound and color to the AVR Tetris project.

[Thanks Sprite_tm]