Tower slowdowns

We’re experiencing an issue with some of our towers in which the speed to subscribers degrades as equipment uptime increases. Towers identified so far have included Skip-In Ranch Tower, Downtown Tower, and all three APs on Morristown Tower.  In all cases, power-cycling the radio unit restores full performance.

Our equipment manufacturer, MikroTik, suspects a memory leak in their OS, and has asked us to provide them with diagnostic dumps from the affected equipment, which we are in the process of assembling for them today.

While we wait for a response from MikroTik, we’ll be setting up an automatic powercycle schedule on the affected towers. This will result in an approximately four-minute interruption of service between 2:00-4:00 AM several times each week at these towers. We hope to have this periodic refresh cycle operational by Monday.

Cutover still pending

This morning’s trunk cutover failed to take place, with CenturyLink making the attempt to switch circuits but ultimately delivering no traffic. Next-tier engineers at CenturyLink are scheduled to be diagnosing the issue, and we’ll be setting up a new cutover time once they inform us they have the problem figured out.

Trunk cutover Thursday AM

Tomorrow morning (Thursday, August 23), between 6:00 and 7:30 AM, CenturyLink will be moving our gateway service (our trunk connection to the greater Internet) onto a different fiber link. We expect an outage blip of about 15-30 seconds during that time period, barring complications. If complications occur, we will revert to the original fiber link as expeditiously as possible and reschedule the cutover. We regret the short notice, but we received this scheduling information only this morning.

A great week,
 and a great 11 years

This week our tower bandwidth improvement project is for all practical purposes complete. Read on to learn about the improvements we’ve made to our performance in Wickenburg and Morristown… plus a little bit of nostalgia in celebration of our 11th anniversary. Continue reading

Morristown Tower East maintenance Wednesday

We’ve determined from subscriber feedback and subsequent testing that the east sector of Morristown Tower is not functioning properly and is delivering insufficient bandwidth. We’ll be replacing that unit Wednesday morning sometime between 9:15 and 10:30.  This will involve an outage of 10-15 minutes, that should affect only Morristown Tower subscribers east of the 267th Avenue alignment.

A Red Queen Marathon

After two nights of record windstorms, today (Sunday) was devoted to an impromptu “tower tour,” driving around our service area and checking for visual confirmation of proper aim on the majority of our towers.

The Easy Street input feed dish had been blown clockwise about 70°. (The Easy Street neighborhood itself was pretty slammed, with roads strewn with wash silt and downed trees; our host’s flagpole was actually bent in half by the winds!) Without a roof man, given that the dish was far above my reach, I attempted a rough re-aim job by “pokin’ a stick at it” (our 16′ telescoping pole) from a ladder, with surprisingly satisfactory results.

The output feed from the NOC to 251st Avenue had also been blown off kilter, and was re-aimed in the same manner. The mast has gone a bit wobbly over time, which will be addressed when we can schedule Dave, our roof man, to fine tune and lock in all of today’s crude readjustments.

One thing these storms made quite apparent is a need for more UPS power capability than we currently enjoy. Although the NOC, Constellation Tower, and our Wickenburg gateway are hardened by indoor UPS systems that provide them about 90 minutes of emergency power, most of our towers have no UPS. During the last two nights of power outages in central Morristown and Castle Hot Springs, all our Morristown tower subscribers were taken offline immediately because no power was available to our windmill tower—even though the NOC continued operating (and serving 251st Avenue, which suffered no extended power outage either night).

As funding allows, we plan to begin introducing indoor UPS systems at host-based towers, which is technically simple—weatherproof UPS units for the standalone towers (Morristown, Mockingbird, and Rio Vista) are expected to be more problematic, but a search for suitable equipment is on our immediate agenda.

In addition, it’s clear that the sheer amount of equipment installed at the NOC and the gateway locations deserves beefier UPS units that can provide more than 90 minutes of outage protection, since when these locations go dark, many or all towers lose service.

There’s nothing like weather problems to trigger a Red Queen Marathon: a situation where you must run as fast as you can just to stay in the same place. We’re going to be running one of our own over the next few months, to better prepare ourselves for future monsoon devilry.

(And the weatherman says there is 45% chance of a third record windstorm tonight.)  ?

 

Morristown: Brief outage today (Wed 4/19)

We’ve determined that the radio card on Morristown Tower West is souring, delivering unacceptable performance to subscribers, and requires replacement. We expect a replacement unit to arrive today, and the replacement activity to occur between 3-5 PM, requiring a brief service outage of around 15 minutes. The West AP serves Morristown subscribers west of the ADOT traffic sign on eastbound US 60 out to the end of Quiet Hills Road (except for subscribers in that area served by Skip-In Ranch Tower). Subscribers served by Morristown South and East APs will not be interrupted.

Brief outage Friday midnight

This announcement affects only subscribers of our towers located in Morristown and Wittmann. Subscribers of towers located in Wickenburg (including “postal Wickenburg”) will not be affected.

We are replacing the Network Operations Center router in Morristown with a faster and more powerful model. There will be a brief network interruption on the order of 10-30 minutes just after midnight Friday night (i.e., Saturday morning) to cut over power and cabling to the new router.

Ill Wind

bent-wmSubscribers homed to our central Morristown Tower may experience some slowdowns, dropouts, or other unusual behavior over the next day or two, due to interference from the windmill atop our transmitter tower, whose entire head canted over last night such that the tail intermittently swings into the path of one or the other of our three sector antennas.

Last week, after the tail itself (though not the entire head) had bent down into a similar position, we called windmill specialists out to dismount, repair, and remount the entire head assembly. The repair obviously didn’t last, and we have put in an order for an urgent followup service call.

We hope you’ll bear with us in the interim, and we thank you for your patience as we get this issue resolved.

Skip-In Ranch: Unscheduled outages

Our Skip-In Ranch tower host is having major residential renovation performed. This has led to a half dozen or so outages to Skip-In Ranch tower subscribers over the past several weeks, as workmen turn off circuit breakers, work on the roof in the vicinity of our mast, or remove and replace our indoor equipment for framing, drywall, and painting work. (Subscribers of our Morristown towers may experience micro-outages when any existing sessions through the Skip-In Ranch long link reroute through the Mockingbird long link.)

We’ve successfully educated the foreman about what breakers and components interrupt our service, to the point where at least the workmen no longer disable us indefinitely. Although we still don’t get advance notification of these outages, they do take pains to keep them as brief as possible. We’re all hoping that this renovation progresses quickly and completes soon.