The machine shop is filled with a wide variety of shop equipment. Complex machinery such as a CNC mill and lathe facilitates production of equipment, helping us meet increased demand from partner ministries. Operated and maintained by only a handful of personnel, these machines free up time for other tasks while simultaneously boosting precision, reliability and minimizing production costs.
The machine shop enables production of specialized FM antennas, mechanical parts for in-house low-power shortwave transmitter production, and parts assembly for clean water projects. In addition, it allows us to design, create and test different versions of water pumps to produce the most cost-effective model for our clean water ministry partners. The shop even allows SonSet Solutions to fulfill unique requests such as building a high-power Radio Frequency (RF) switch for shortwave gospel broadcasting in Guam.
Manufacturing Manager Stephen Peacock notes that his greatest joy is seeing FM antennas go out to numerous ministry partners, equipping them with the tools they need to reach their people with the gospel.
Lightning strikes and unstable power can damage and destroy expensive equipment. Though commercial devices are available, their cost and ongoing maintenance makes them prohibitive, and they often lack the ability to shut down fast enough to protect even sensitive medical equipment. Whether it’s a radio station, school, or hospital, ministries need something cost effective, easy to use, and reliable for the most rudimentary conditions.
The Equipment Power Protection (EPP) device, now in the prototype stage, has been designed to fill that need. Begun in 2008, EPP development has combined electrical, mechanical and computer programming from both seasoned engineers and summer interns alike. Housed in a simple weather-proof metal box, the device can be easily mounted on a wall. Its user-friendly front panel enables simple operation and feedback, enabling operation by most anyone. Shutting down within three-hundredths of a second of erratic electrical power, its design ensures that all connected equipment is safeguarded from damage.
Now ready for field-testing in real-world conditions, three units are planned for this next phase to ensure it operates as smoothly and efficiently as its design calls for.
Ministries are using technology to increase their effectiveness all over the world. However, technology needs power and power can be unreliable or non-existent in many developing countries. SonSet Solutions has solved this problem for our solar-powered SonSet® radio receivers, but what if we could also power a remote transmitter site or a mission hospital using energy from the sun?
SonSet Solutions is developing a training unit that will help our engineers learn about these larger-scale solar power systems. This unit will support hands-on experimentation, give practical instruction on the basics of solar energy components, and prepare our staff for making effective decisions in the selection, design and installation of alternative energy sources for our partners. The test station will be about the size of an office desk, and will include not only a solar panel and batteries, but options for testing the power output of the system using devices like a fan or a computer. Coupled with a properly-sized battery bank, a well-designed solar power system provides predictably available, economical, and reliable electrical power, with little variation in voltage, current or frequency. A properly-installed solar power system requires very little maintenance and can last for decades, enabling our partners to focus on other aspects of ministry.
What has thousands of components, is the size of a small kitchen, and weighs approximately four tons? SonSet Solutions’ 100,000-watt radio transmitter called the HC100! HC100 serial #2 was built by our engineers in the early 1990s and served faithfully in Ecuador for many years carrying programs to many parts of the world. In 2009, HCJB Ecuador closed its transmitter site, and three HC100s were returned to our facility for refurbishment. HC100 serial #2 was shipped to our partner Reach Beyond Australia at the end of February 2016 where it joined serial #6 and #8 increasing broadcasts into Southeast Asia.
The primary refurbishing effort over the last couple of years was to upgrade this transmitter to enable digital broadcasting. Last fall, however, Reach Beyond Australia communicated the urgent need for a third transmitter. Digital technology did not progress as quickly as they had hoped, and digital receivers throughout Asia were still scarce. Derek Kickbush, Reach Beyond Australia’s Media Manager, expressed, “We’re not dismissing a move to digital shortwave. It just means it will be later rather than sooner. What is evident is the need for our third transmitter … now!” Serial #2 was added to the broadcast schedule during the last week of June, and now three HC100s are broadcasting in 29 languages into India, Nepal, Myanmar, and Southeast Asia.
Many older radio station partners of SonSet Solutions still use CDs, cassette tapes, LP records and even reel-to-reel tapes for storing musical content and archiving radio programs. Preparing a radio show or an entire programming day using these methods can be cumbersome at best. Computer automation systems are now available, but it can still be a time-consuming process to create an attractive program without key information like song tempo, theme, genre or a sermon series title.
The solution? Audio Guardian! This system will allow stations to move all of their program content to reliable and secure computer storage without the fear of “losing” their audio files in a sea of computer bits. Audio Guardian provides a web-based interface for entering key information about each audio file while it is being imported. Radio automation and/or music rotation systems can then suggest audio files that might be included in a particular show based on selected keywords. The web interface also allows producers to work from any networked computer, freeing up valuable on-air studio computer time. Currently, there are no commercial systems with all of the features of Audio Guardian.
Audio Guardian is scheduled for installation in the fall of 2016 for partner Radio Lumiere which covers two-thirds of the country of Haiti with gospel programming. Using technology to automate program production increases the amount of time dedicated to creating quality Christian programs that touch the heart and soothe the soul.
In remote parts of the world where there is no electricity, activity stops when the sun sets. This is true for most of the country of Benin, West Africa. Most locals do not have access to the electrical grid or, if they do, they cannot afford it. Even the electricity that is available is not very reliable.
SonSet Solutions created a unit which can be a helpful resource for communities like these. The Solar Lamp Pole has a battery that is charged throughout the day and provides light after the sun goes down. The lamp provides security as well as light to areas such as the village well where people can now draw water after dark. Surprisingly, cell phones are readily available in remote parts of the world. The lamp pole is equipped with adapters which allow people to charge their cell phones. An additional Wi-Fi device allows Christian media such as the Jesus Film to be streamed or downloaded on smart mobile devices.
Our partner TWR (Trans World Radio) has a transmitter site located near a small town in Benin. They are very interested in what this unit can do for the people in this community and see the future potential for several more of these Solar Lamp Poles in the country. TWR will supply the solar panel and the battery. This solves a major shipping problem for us. We learned that Benin will not allow any lithium batteries to be imported and our lamp pole uses such a battery. We are making some modifications to allow them to use locally available lead acid batteries. Please pray that through this tool, TWR’s impact in this town will be strengthened by meeting these simple needs and through their care for the people and the messages transmitted, that hearts will be opened to the surpassing resources that God provides.
Seven million – that is how many people our partner in Nigeria hopes to reach by radio in an area a little larger than the state of Virginia.
In this multi-lingual, multi-cultural region in the northern part of the country, nationals are predominantly Muslim and African Traditional Religious worshipers (Animists). Many are confused about who Jesus is and have heard a host of distorted messages about Him. “They have many questions regarding Jesus’ deity,” says Ezekiel, our national partner heading up the project. “The radio station aims at engaging our local people that dwell in towns and villages. It will be a voice that speaks to them directly,” adds Ezekiel. Broadcasts will air in at least twelve languages. Christian symposiums, drama, music, community development programs, and preaching the message of hope will round out the broadcasts.
In a country that has been in the news for attacks by Islamist militants, terrorist propaganda is “targeted at weakening the resolve of our brave troops, instilling fears into the minds of Nigerians,” says Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture. Radio is a powerful tool in reaching the lost and those who are fearful.
Bob Springer, an FEBC missionary on loan to SonSet Solutions, is the Broadcast Services Consultant for this project. “We are hoping to give them (our partner) a voice to speak to the community.” Please pray for this project which is in its infant stage. A studio and tower will need to be constructed, a license granted, and radio equipment provided before a voice of hope can be heard.
We are eager to stack the 300 feet of steel, and add the antenna, coax, and other equipment to further the reach of gospel programming at Pioneer Christian Hospital (PCH) in Impfondo, Republic of Congo. Pioneer Christian is a 60-bed general mission hospital in the heart of the Congo River Basin rainforest. A combination of missionary volunteers and paid Congolese staff provide services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Their goal is to offer healing for the whole person by providing physical, social, and spiritual treatment. Where does the radio station fit in with this treatment plan? Broadcasts are able to reach into villages and homes providing health education as well as heart education with gospel programming going out in the heart-language of the people.
In January 2014 we helped install a temporary radio station in anticipation of erecting a more permanent station later. In November of last year, the 40-foot container with tower sections and equipment was loaded onto a flatbed trailer and shipped to the East Coast. From there, it traveled by ship to the Congo. After months of delays in customs, the container was released and continued its journey by road and water to the other side of the country. By the end of the year, four of our teammates plan to travel to Impfondo, two to get the permanent station up and running, one to help with healthcare among the medical staff, and one to capture information, photos, and interviews. Please pray for God’s blessing on our team as well as the outreach of Pioneer Christian Hospital.