Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Microwave Radio

Having just caught up with my old mate John Wardle, after 27 years from my time studying at Leeds Poly (now Leeds Beckett) and driving past Tinshill Radio Station at Cookridge the other day and seeing that it has had all its old Microwave Dishes removed (well almost all of them) set me thinking I should note down some ramblings of that time in my life.

I worked at the BT Tower at Tinshill for 15 years leaving in Jan of 1994 in a move to Cable TV, bit what am experience in learning!  I need to point out that this was before the world of Broadband as we know it now, but in those days we used the term Broadband (and Narrow band) to describe the size of signals we could transmit from site to site. TV signals, telephone traffic and data both via the Microwave Radio, Coaxial cables, Fibre Optic cables, Satellite Receive Systems,  Two Way Vehicle Radio and Mobile Phones before Cellphones as we know them now were in common use. It was during my last couple of years at Tinshill that we had a mobile phone, (Motorola) which looked like a handset fastened on top of a house brick.

It was during this time that I spent a few weeks at the BT Training School in Leafield, nr.Oxford, as an instructor on the 18/19Gig Short Haul Microwave systems (many still used today), these are the small dishes which you see dotted around and also the ones still on Tinshill Tower.

It was BT who sent me to University on the BEng Electrical Engineering Course and the work on Satellite Systems was the inspiration for my final year project: Design and create a Satellite Receive level Measurement System. A great project and very relevant. For the radio readers amongst you, the signal 'sniffer' or splitter was made from SAGE 'Wireline' a think brass tube containing 2 thin copper wires. 

Coaxial cable is used to prevent excessive propagation of radio signals from wires, this used this principal to capture propagated signals to 'snifff' out and replicate the signal information. It was in fact the first time this principal was used with in the college itself. A picture of the final device layout is below.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

BEng at Leeds Poly

It was in 1986, that I started the long haul of 4 years on the Electrical Engineering, Bachelor of Engineering Honours only Course at the then Leeds Polytechnic (now LMU). A tough decision, as this was 4 years of day release from my job at BT. Day release meant, 12 hours days...9am to 9pm. This was the first course of its kind to be run here, it had replaced a BSc course which had been running for years. New modules and new ways of learning. However, the long struggle was worth it, I ended up with a 2nd class Hons degree. Here we are at Graduation Day in November 1990.

Banger Racing at Sunnyvale Garden, Hipperholm (circa 1978-1981)

All you do is go to your local scrap yard,pick up an old banger, take it to a track and race it...........actually it is not as simple as that,a few jobs need to be done first.

Initially all the trim (inside & out) and the passenger seats are removed, the radiator and battery are re-sited inside the car, a roll cage is fitted using scaffolding poles, the doors are welded up and a two gallon petrol tank is fitted (the original is punctured to ensure that no fumes remain during racing, or filled with water to give the car some ballast). Sometimes all the wiring is taken out and only the ignition and charging circuits are replaced. Some drivers do away with the charging system, they run on a fully charged battery the few extra bhp obtained is supposed to give them the edge. Luxury items such as electric fans are fitted, to prevent the car from boiling up whist stood on the starting grid.
At Sunnyvale no amour, is allowed on banger cars (or bomber cars as they are called), the exception being a small distributor guard on transverse englned cars- imagine what a small bump on the front of a mini can do. A special license is required to drive, this costs £ 1 per year, it acts as insurance for any injuries received.

On race day the competitors begin to arrive about noon and their cars are lined up in the pits. As only twenty-four cars are allowed in one race, then the first in line are in heat one, the rest in heat two, with the  numbers being made up to twenty-four with cars still running after heat one. Once on the track the cars are arranged according to roof colour, ie,white at the front,
blue next with red at the back, the gold top (last seasons champion) is placed at the very back. The colours indicate how many points the drivers have won at previous race meetings.

After the the usual half a lap rolling start the racing begins. The idea is to win with money and championship points as the rewards, but on the way to the finish line, cars, breakdown, boil up, have punctures, roll over, become written-off and burst into flames. when off the track all the drivers are mates, but when on....well....anything goes, but if the spectators enjoy the entertainment then they may cone again. 

This is taken direct from a magazine article written in 1982

Friday, 9 March 2012

Bewerley Street

Not his actual car
In the good old days, it was a three tier school system and from about 7 years old to 11 yrs old, I went to Bewerley Street Junior School until I left to go to 'Matthew Muck' and I thinking back these were the happier times of my school days. 

I do remember My Llewellyn, Mrs Rhodes (see the class pics) and Mr Blakeborough the Headmaster who had a love for the outdoors, and drove a Morris Minor Traveller, (a type of moggy 1000 estate car with wood trim around the windows). It was in this car that a few of us went to the school holiday in the Lake District. Staying at the Newlands Valley Holiday Fellowship (coincidentally, Newlands Valley Farm was where we camped with my parents each year (another blog entry later I think).

Other memories of this school was the 'Old Time Dancing', we used to have a lesson each week, and believe it or not, (and those who know me will not believe it)  I was in the 'demonstration team'. 

Of course (don't be shocked), I was also in the Cricket Team and we did quite well, in our first game in the Junior League, we beat Cottingley, we bowled them all out for a duck. 

We had a star bowler Gary Reynolds (I think), then later in the Cup, they beat us on their home ground. (I remember going for a catch and falling down the grass banking- base over apex.....missed the ball as well.

Sports Day at Colton Cricket Ground (more sports). We all looked forward to this, the only thing I ever won was the Sack Race, that's because everyone sat down in their sacks and on GO, you got up and hopped to the finish line...Well as I had done this before, I jumped up and got going, all the others started to shuffle along the ground...nobody had explained the rules......

Oh sports again.... we had a sort of Athletics competition with other schools (hosted at ours) could have been called the Schofield Trophy, all indoors, Cricket ball throwing, hop skip and jump, 2 strides and jump, long jump and high jump. It was practising the high jump where I sprained my arm (not broken), but I have cleared the target height of 3ft 6 inch. 

People I remember, Paul Thornton (re met up with Paul some years later), Gary Reynolds, John Barton, (all these are on the Cricket Pic)  We all thought John Barton's family was rich, as his mum brought him to school in the car.......

Good times....the best I think.......enough of learning here.....lets get to High School....ohh.....Comprehensive School for me, I did not pass the 11 plus...in fact I had no idea what the 11 plus was at the time...I might have done better....

Sunday, 25 December 2011

My first 11 Years in Elcho Street

For the first 11 years of my life, I lived in Elcho Street, although classed as 'Hunslet', it was just off Dewsbury Road and Hunslet Hall Road ("The road that went to Hunslet Hall", more of that in another blog entry). It was a lively street I suppose, with most of my Mother's side of the family living there, my Grandad Frank lived at the top, my Auntie Elsie and cousin Anne lived just opposite us and my Uncle Frank did live just up the street, before he moved to Cottingley. If you have not experienced the Back to Back Houses with outside lavatories, then you have never lived.
We lived at No 8, 2nd from the right
We lived at number 8, the second one up from the right, just off the picture at the RHS was the entrance to the outside loos. Not a good experience in the dark, cold and snow....not a good experience in the summer either....we also shared the loo itself with the people at no 6, fortunately, 10 and 12 Elcho St had their own stall.

It was in those days without computer games etc, we did have a Black and White TV though..we made our own fun out in the streets. 

This was 'The Gang', which one am I?
Some names I can remember, Tommy Snowball (front next to me), Philip Wiles (my best mate, behind me)), Andrew & Paul Thornton (at the back)...and they sat on my "Bogie" or soap box cart, old pram wheels and bits of wood which my dad made.

One of the highlights of the year was Bonfire Night, we always had a massive fire outside our house on the cobbled street. We always had the best party around because one of the people in out street worked at a wood yard so we did'nt have to go "Chumping" or scavenging  for wood. 

We moved from this house on Easter Saturday 1968 to a new housing estate in Holbeck, (30 Meynell Walk) as the area was destined to be pulled down under the slum clearance scheme.

Some Good Times........

Saturday, 24 December 2011

SQUASH- I'll drive the Steam Roller!!!

Going back to the late 70's, when I worked at BT, when exercise was something that others did!! (No not really I used to belong to a swimming club). One of my work mates used to always tripping off during working time playing Squash...which was very popular then. It this time, I used to swim, (more about the lunchtime swimming later)... play a little badminton, but never tried squash.  However, just near to where I worked in the village of Robin Hood, on the Leeds- Wakefield Road, was the 'Johnny Lawrence Squash and Cricket Club' and this has some indoor cricket practice nets (watched Geoff Boycot once there) and a couple of Squash Courts. So some lunchtimes, Lex (short for Alexander) used to play there every now and then.  What a great game...much better than Badminton, I got the bug I think...(the flu usually as it was so cold there in winter...brrrr). No really I really enjoyed playing and joined the club as a member. Not the fanciest place in the world, but, it had a bar which was open each evening also. 

It got to the stage with playing on a block booking twice a week at lunchtimes, plus playing socially and in the mini leagues in the evenings, I finished up playing sometime 7 times a week, twice on some days but always had a rest on a sunday....and of course drinking there usually most times.

So what about the social side of squash...a great way to get and keep fit....but also how to have a good time in the drinking stakes. Some of the guys in their middle year, not us youngsters, sort of formed a loose association of a drinking sub committee and also took on other clubs in friendly squash matches. This group was called 'F-Troop', now if you are old enough, you will remember in the early 70's a comedy TV show about the US Cavalry called 'F-Troop' and this social group was named after them.  Well to get around being beaten at all squash matches, some of us young ones, were drafted into to F-Troop. (http://www.tv.com/shows/f-troop/)  Someone in the group had created a logo and someone else had organised some sew on logo badges for our tracksuits. The Logo was a couple od racket handles in a V shape..(just see it on the photo), with words to match in Latin:
'Semperit en Vino et decorum', (hope I have spelt it right), which translated means, 'When pissed always polite'. or words to that effect.  Great times and great fun.
In those days, my fitness was very good and just being a little overweight for my height, I could move around a court pretty well and with coaching from the club 'Pro',  Lionel, I managed to get into the top mini league a couple of times and played in the Summer Metro league (just about good enough!!!)

In addition to this club I also played at the Queens Hall Squash Club, which had some courts upstairs in the attic I think (for those of us who remember the Queens Hall...it used to be an old tram shed......

As my mate Lex moved on to be the National Squash organiser for the BT Sports Clubs, I took over the running of the Local BT Sports and Social Club Squash Team, which meant taking a team during working afternoons to other areas for matches, (Sheffield, Newcastle, Bradford etc) nice afternoons out....but as life moves on, the playing became less and less, the club was closed and land sold for housing. So now, how I would so love to restart playing again, racket sports don't mix with high blood pressure!