Tauranga’s Village Radio Station, 1XT, will be making history this weekend by transmitting on equipment designed and built almost 80 years ago.
After gathering dust and out of action for 13 years with a burnt out high voltage transformer, the old Collins one kilowatt transmitter has been repaired and tested.
A look inside the radio transmitter. Below is a picture of the old cabinet designed to house the radio transmitter.
George Stewart is one of three former radio technicians who repaired the transmitter.
Russ Bain and Neil Walsh work with George to get the transmitter up and running.
“It was originally one of four transmitters purchased in 1937 by the National - Commercial Broadcasting Service for use by the four ZB Stations,” says George.
“This one was the original 1ZB for Auckland.”
When more modern transmitters were installed, the little Collins was installed at Paengaroa Transmitting station, near Te Puke, as an emergency back-up for 1ZD Tauranga, which began broadcasts in 1961.
It was then installed at Village Radio in 1984.
“At the time, in 1937, these Collins Transmitters were regarded by radio engineers as the ‘Rolls Royce’ of broadcasting, with very low distortion and a near perfect flat frequency response.
“They were considered superior to equipment made in Australia. Considering its age, it is in quite remarkable condition and still puts out 900 watts of aerial power, as designed.”
George says it is thanks to a grant from the Lotteries Commission and the expertise of a team from a Judea transformer rewinding business that the transmitter has been able to get back in operation.
“The Collins will be preserved as a back-up to the more modern 1KW Toshiba transmitter, which is run seven days a week at the Village, on the frequency of 1368 kilohertz on the AM band.”
George says the transmitter is the only one its kind known to be working in the world.
"We haven’t be able to tracked down any others still in operation.
"The We don’t know what happened to the other three transmitters installed in New Zealand."