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.

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