Visiting Iba Shortwave Transmission Site

What are the prettiest places we have lived? One is certainly Iba, Philippines. Guy paid our former home a visit during his first of two trips to the Philippines he makes each year. It wasn’t a good day for pictures, but below, in a picture taken from the roof of the transmitter building, you can see the beautiful colors of the sunrise and just make out the West Philippine Sea behind the trees and brush. When we lived in Iba we managed the project to renovate the building and to construct the switch bay in the foreground and the transmission line support structures leading off into the middle distance.Here is where the picture was taken from:

Looking the other way from this photo are the rugged and beautiful Zambales mountains. Guy stayed at the FEBC Iba Compound guest house for his overnight trip which was our residence during the year we spent on the project. It wasn’t fancy living but it was inexpensive, functional and close to the office. We have fond memories of our stay. Below Mang Julie cleans up after cooking for the staff dinner fellowship in “our” kitchen. He makes great grilled fish as a sideline to his normal work at FEBC.

The Iba site broadcasts FEBC short wave programming in many languages to target areas in SE Asia and China. There are two transmitters in operation and two antennas aimed at the target areas.

The antennas are special “log periodic array” designs that work over many frequency bands and focus the radio signals into a beam that ensures good coverage with strong signals in our target countries. Each antenna is composed of 4 zig-zag sets of wires, two above and two below. It’s hard to see, but the upper and lower pairs are easy to id in the photo below. You can almost see the zig-zag elements as they get smaller and smaller from right to left

All of the above wires are part of a single antenna. Below is a view of both antennas FEBC uses at Iba. One is in the foreground and one in the background. These structures are notoriously hard to get good pictures of, but here at sunset you can almost see the details of the antennas. The towers are around 275ft tall.

Inside the transmitter building are our two Continental model 418 series F 100 kilowatt shortwave transmitters. They put out a signal exactly like your local AM station except at a much higher frequency so we can bounce it off the ionosphere and back down into countries 1000-3000 km away. Below our Iba technical staff tune up one of the Continentals at the start of an evening broadcast.

The transmitter hall is a big open factory like space to allow clean, dry and cool air to be circulated around the transmitters. The cage in the back with the “Danger” sign encloses the digital modulator for the transmitter. This actually where most of the power for the signal comes from. It is a 150kw monophonic audio amplifier that drives the large power vacuum tube inside the transmitter with program audio for broadcast.

The programs to be broadcast are stored on a computer at the site and special software controls the scheduling of the play out so that the right program is broadcast at the right time. The Iba staff have to be sure the right frequency, transmitter and antenna are selected manually.

Besides checking out all the facilities at the Iba site, Guy’s trip was to keep up close relationships with our staff who handle the short wave broadcasts. The photo below shows Guy speaking to honor the retiring staff, all with over 30 years of service and some with almost 40.

As Alex’s shirt says, “a job well done” and lives of service to Jesus worthy of emulation.

A great visit and a joy to see old friends again.