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One Big Battery Unit to Power Them All

Rolland Trowbridge with UPS unit

Here’s a quick update on our ongoing digital studios project.

Even though the Tom and Florence Busch Digital Studios themselves are still under-construction, their uninterruptible power supply (UPS) battery unit — an impressive apparatus that will provide backup power for the entire studio — has just come online.

KNOM has used UPS units for years, but like the digital studios themselves, our new UPS will be more energy-efficient and technologically advanced. Rather than relatively small units (about a third the size of a record player) placed alongside essential computers and other hardware throughout the building, the UPS we’ve just installed (pictured above with volunteer engineer Rolland Trowbridge) is a large, single unit capable of providing continuous power for the entire station in the event of an outage. Contrast the photo of the new unit with the stack of smaller batteries Rolland replaced from KNOM’s smaller, older UPS units during 2013 (readers may recognize this photo from our January 2014 Static).

Rolland Trowbridge with batteries

In December 2013, engineer Rolland Trowbridge poses with the many UPS batteries we replaced during 2013.

Like the small UPS units it’s replacing, our new UPS is designed not for long-term use but, rather, as an interim power solution: to keep our computers, sound equipment, and broadcasting hardware functioning without interruption while our diesel power generator has time to switch on.

Pat Knodel with electrical wiring in digital studios

In early April, contractor Pat Knodel works on electrical wiring in our new digital studios. Photo: David Dodman, KNOM.

Considering the challenges of providing power to Nome and environs — among them, the difficulty of working with a small, isolated power grid — it’s no surprise that KNOM’s facilities experience at least a handful of power outages every year. As our contractors head into the final construction steps of the digital studios, we’re excited to be able to incorporate technologies like our new UPS that will help our station function at its best even amid the challenges of life in the sub-Arctic.

As always, we’re so grateful for the generosity of individual donors and organizations in making possible each step of this crucial construction project. Most immediately, we’re grateful, too, for the work of volunteer engineer Rolland Trowbridge and contractor Pat Knodel. Thanks, all!