Went into work at 1:30 yesterday morning because a major provider was moving to a new satellite -- well, moving a satellite right on top of the one they'd been using, with the antennas tilted about 25 degrees to, it is hoped, reduce signal fading due to rain.
With a lot of end-users, hundreds of us, the process was managed with a phone bridge, largely one-way, and quickly developed into a bit of a goat-rope, with all us users on standby while the provide checked different uplink sites and gain modes for the satellite transponders and, finally, had us push the button at our downlinks.
That's when the wheels fell off. Not for me, I was lucky and despite my dire forebodings about spending hours inside the central drum of a six-meter earth station with wrenches and a crowbar, it all worked out okay. Not so much for some of the others; a few found the feed assembly in their dishes had turned the wrong way! Many discovered that when they followed the instruction, "make sure the emergency stop button at the dish is released," they had instead engaged the emergency stop, preventing all dish motion. Wires and waveguides tore loose at other sites and even with talkback carefully controlled, it was apparent that some people were in for a very long night.
As things wound down, we had to call another number to report signal strength and fade margin. The same number the worse-off were calling for detailed technical support. Of course the people on the phone bridge assured us that the two sets of calls were sorted right out and "plenty of techs are available." Yeah -- so many that on my first call, after a half-hour of music on hold, the fancy VOIP phone system at work dropped the call! My next call in was answered after a mere twenty minutes.
But I shouldn't complain. It could have been worse. And I was home in time for a nice breakfast at Taste!
T. R. MCELROY'S STREAMLINED TELEGRAPH KEYS
9 months ago