Monday, October 10, 2011

Long wave goodbye

I never did get the Spectrum Communications Off-Air Frequency Standard kit working. Now it is looking as though it would be a waste of time anyway as the BBC will be closing down the Radio 4 long wave transmitter that is used as a frequency standard.

An article published yesterday in the Guardian Online explains that the Radio 4 long wave transmitter uses valves (tubes) that are no longer obtainable. The BBC has the only ones still in existence. The transmitter uses a pair and they can last as little as one year. When the last valve blows, Radio 4 on long wave will become a thing of the past.

Building a new long wave  transmitter using up to date technology would cost millions which the BBC can no longer afford due to the need to cut costs as a result of the government's decision to freeze the licence fee.

There are many other ways to receive the Radio 4 programming if the long wave transmitter closes down. But none of them involve a powerful 500kW transmitter whose frequency is maintained accurately enough to be used as a frequency standard.

10 comments:

BX2ABT / PA2BX said...

It's silly, of course, but I can't help feeling sad when seeing news like this. It is as if all the "beacons" in my life are slowly disappearing, but there are no replacements in sight.

skids said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
skids said...

Radio 4 on LW, was the first station I heard on a crystal set I’d built back in the late 1960’s MW next I reckon! Sadly the end of an era.

Chris G0BHX

Paul PC4T said...

Hi Julian, everything changes and passes. All beacons of our time are slowly fading away. The nowadays radio's don't have LW anymore. Soon SW will vanish. Only internet radio via mobile phones. Radio, what's that? Ask my future grandchildren. 73 Paul

Richard said...

I listened to Radio 4..at least I think it was Radio 4, in France back in the early 60's. Did that service carry the Archers? I know that is when I first heard them.

73 Dick

Julian Moss said...

Yes, Dick. The Archers was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 which in the early 60s was called the BBC Home Service.

Anonymous said...

I grew up 7 - 8 miles from the Droitwich transmitter. I've been listening to Radio 4 here on the west coast over the internet recently, and hearing those shipping forecasts brought the memories flooding back.

It makes me sad to think that the BBC will cease broadcasting on Long Wave.

Fenris said...

It wouldn't cost millions to re-engineer the output devices and have some more built, after all they're only vacuum tubes, but the BBC seems devoid of the engineering teams that created their high standards in the first place.

Paul Stoetzer said...

Hopefully they tell the British ballistic missile submarine commanders before they shut it down. Supposedly the signal from Radio 4 is one of the things they monitor to ensure that the UK hasn't been obliterated in a nuclear attack.

Ones and Zeros on the Interweb said...

Anyone would think that the BBC might stop barging ahead with its plan to drop all analogue broadcasting in favour of DAB and actually LISTEN to the users of its services. I heard the network services manager chortling away on the Radio 4 PM programme the other evening, and more or less laughing off the archaic kit they were using. The next evening there was a barrage of complaint and an interview with the station manager of the Danish Long Wave national service. He sounded incredulous and spoke about his modern, efficient, high power LOng Wave transmitter. Some people at the BBC have become so full of themselves that they don't think they need to be responsive to the users desires.