Report light outages with tower site monitor A dial-up monitor fulfills FCC requirements for monitoring proper tower light operation and reporting outages, along with providing some additional monitoring and remote control functions.
Unreported tower light outages can cost a tower owner a lot of money in federal fines if they result in a fine levied by the FCC. Non-tower owners with FCC licenses who rent space at tower sites for communications antennas have been relieved by the FCC of primary responsibility, but in the event the tower owner fails to act, tenants might still incur a liability.
Aside from monetary forfeitures, reducing the potential for a serious aviation accident is enough motivation for reputable tower owners and communications system licensees to maintain tower lighting in good working order.
Some people with the responsibility for tower lights rely on someone else to make a daily observation of those tower lights and to report any outages that may be observed. The method is as unsophisticated as having someone look at the tower each evening to see whether the lights are working. If for one reason or another the observer fails to perform that duty, outages may go unreported.
Early automated light-checking and monitoring systems were expensive and were subject to failures caused by utility power outages and lightning damage. Today, many good automated systems are available. Systems can be installed to use leased telephone lines, the public switched telephone network (PSTN or dial telephone) or radio links.
One of the most reliable ways to monitor tower light operations uses the dial-up telephone to report outages. When this system has a battery backup, a report can be made even during a power failure.
A tower light monitor actually can become a site management reporter, reporting not only light outages but multiple light outages, illegal entry and water on the floor, to name a few events. One such monitor plays as many as four voice messages to whoever answers the phone telling what the problem is. The unit calls three numbers, rotationally or once through, to give one of the four messages.
Setting the monitor to call three telephone numbers in sequence works well when at least one of the numbers always is answered. If sometimes none of those numbers can be expected to answer, then rotational calling should be used. Rotational calling dials each of the numbers, over and over, until someone answers and stops the calling action by dialing a “stop” code.
Also, the monitor itself can be dialed from another telephone and can be tested from any dual-tone, multiple-frequency (DTMF or Touch-Tone) telephone.The unit is programmed with a built-in telephone keypad. Voice messages are recorded using a built-in microphone. The program memory is non-volatile, so telephone numbers and voice messages remain in memory for a minimum of six weeks with no power applied and no battery backup.
A current sensor can be used with lighting systems that do not provide a contact closure for a “light out” condition. The current sensor is adjustable so that one bulb failure out of many bulbs on one line can be sensed to initiate an outage report.
The tower light monitor can be used for remote control purposes, too. A DTMF telephone can be used to enter various control codes for as many as eight functions. Outputs include latching or momentary contact relays that can be programmed for latch, momentary contact, toggle or multiple resets.
A dial-up tower light monitor can offer an inexpensive yet reliable way to fulfill FCC requirements for monitoring proper tower light operation and reporting outages, along with providing some additional monitoring and remote control functions.