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Old 9th Jun 2021, 7:44 am   #1
stevehertz
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Default Cooling towers down, better FM reception now!

The four nearby power station cooling towers at Rugeley were finally brought down at the weekend, and as I have suspected for decades, FM reception has improved as a result. Previously, certain stations suffered from tuning problems (indistinct and multiple tuning peaks) and particularly on R4, 'thuthiness' on spoken voice was a big problem. When you think about it, the shape of a cooling tower is about as bad as it can be to provide a receiver with all manner of confusing, phase differentiated signals. And surprisingly, I found that some of the much hallowed, high end tuners suffered more than others.

Anyway, sad though their demise has been for the thousands of local and not so local people who found employment there, for radio enthusiasts their disappearance has been a godsend. No more head scratching, questioning my tuners, aerials or distribution equipment!
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Old 9th Jun 2021, 10:11 am   #2
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Default Re: Cooling towers down, better FM reception now!

Interesting development Steve! I find I’m getting very noticeable sibilance on speech (particularly with female voices on R4) on several of my FM sets (but not on digital FM sets). It’s easy to get drawn into esoteric circuit-problem investigation (unbalanced FM detectors, etc) without considering external propogation effects. I don’t have any tall structures around me, but I do have several R4 transmitters/relays in easy range where the carrier-frequency separation is only 0.6 Mc/s. I don’t know if that separation could cause problems.
Mike
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Old 9th Jun 2021, 11:52 am   #3
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Default Re: Cooling towers down, better FM reception now!

I'm glad your radio reception has improved, but I couldn't help but feel a small pang of sadness on reading the news.

When I was a child, the sight of Rugeley's cooling towers meant that we were approaching the last leg of our journey to stay with my godparents, who lived in Alton (the one with the Towers).

Another bit of my childhood gone - *sigh*
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Old 9th Jun 2021, 11:54 am   #4
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Default Re: Cooling towers down, better FM reception now!

On reflection....they might build a wind farm or a devils leap roller coaster there.

Lawrence.
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Old 9th Jun 2021, 12:20 pm   #5
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Default Re: Cooling towers down, better FM reception now!

Hi Steve,
I saw the towers demise and was wondering if reception for you had improved.
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Old 9th Jun 2021, 12:35 pm   #6
stevehertz
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Default Re: Cooling towers down, better FM reception now!

Thanks for the input guys.

Lawrence, yes, the mind boggles at the thought of an FM signal being 'batted' off the three wings of the generator, all (again) displaced in phase..

Seriously, is there any evidence of them causing issues?
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Old 9th Jun 2021, 12:40 pm   #7
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Default Re: Cooling towers down, better FM reception now!

Here's just one of the many videos of the demolition:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wx-V2buLp5s
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Old 9th Jun 2021, 12:44 pm   #8
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Default Re: Cooling towers down, better FM reception now!

Yes there is evidence of wind farm effects see here https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/asse...arm_report.pdf
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Old 9th Jun 2021, 1:55 pm   #9
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Default Re: Cooling towers down, better FM reception now!

Lots of things have changed at Rugeley. Itís been a while since I was in the minersí social club...

No cooling towers have gone up near me but other things have and I have given up using FM.

When I used to be active on 144MHz SSB I found that bouncing a signal off a nearby electricity pylon was quite effective for working stations that were otherwise shielded by a rise in ground.
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Old 9th Jun 2021, 2:19 pm   #10
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Default Re: Cooling towers down, better FM reception now!

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevehertz View Post

Anyway, sad though their demise has been for the thousands of local and not so local people who found employment there, for radio enthusiasts their disappearance has been a godsend.
I said on the day it was going to be weird next time I drive round the bypass. I think we are too far North of you to have had any effect on our reception.
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Old 9th Jun 2021, 2:25 pm   #11
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Default Re: Cooling towers down, better FM reception now!

At one stage we lived in St Neots (Cambs). It had an old and unused power station. One weekend old friends were due to visit, and to get the right exit off the A1, I told them to look for the cooling towers. They accidentally missed the turn, so did a U turn when they could and came back in the opposite direction.

I'd missed that the cooling towers were due for demolition that day, and by the time they came back in the opposite direction - the cooling towers had vanished.

Took them a while to arrive, very confused by the mysteriously disappearing landmark
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Old 9th Jun 2021, 3:31 pm   #12
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Default Re: Cooling towers down, better FM reception now!

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Originally Posted by Beobloke View Post
I'm glad your radio reception has improved, but I couldn't help but feel a small pang of sadness on reading the news.

When I was a child, the sight of Rugeley's cooling towers meant that we were approaching the last leg of our journey to stay with my godparents, who lived in Alton (the one with the Towers).

Another bit of my childhood gone - *sigh*
There was actually a local campaign to preserve the Didcot A towers before they went down. There was near universal outrage when they were built, but people had grown up with them over the ensuing 40 years and they'd become part of the landscape. They're gone now of course.

I still remember the midnight coal trains rumbling through Oxford and rattling the wardrobe doors.
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Old 9th Jun 2021, 4:06 pm   #13
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Default Re: Cooling towers down, better FM reception now!

I think Paul has summed it up, annoyed when they arrive, a protection society just before they go down.
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Old 9th Jun 2021, 5:40 pm   #14
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Default Re: Cooling towers down, better FM reception now!

Yes, it happened here in Rugeley. The Rugeley Facebook pages were packed with views for and against.
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Old 9th Jun 2021, 7:12 pm   #15
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Default Re: Cooling towers down, better FM reception now!

25 to 30 years ago, I was working in Rugeley (but 'nuff said on that).
I was doing some building at the time, so called at the Power Station to get their lightweight foam blocks. I imagine that has finished now as well. They were good, and I saved loads by having "mis-shapes", or seconds in their terminology.
But at least improved reception for you.
Les.

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Old 9th Jun 2021, 8:41 pm   #16
stevehertz
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Default Re: Cooling towers down, better FM reception now!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MotorBikeLes View Post
25 to 30 years ago, I was working in Rugeley (but 'nuff said on that).
I was doing some building at the time, so called at the Power Station to get their lightweight foam blocks. I imagine that has finished now as well. They were good, and I saved loads by having "mis-shapes", or seconds in their terminology.
But at least improved reception for you.
Les.
A company within a stone's throw of the power station called Celcon made the blocks out of the ash resulting from the firing process. They were so light they floated in water.
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Old 9th Jun 2021, 8:58 pm   #17
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Default Re: Cooling towers down, better FM reception now!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boulevardier View Post
I find Iím getting very noticeable sibilance on speech (particularly with female voices on R4) on several of my FM sets (but not on digital FM sets). I donít have any tall structures around me, but I do have several R4 transmitters/relays in easy range where the carrier-frequency separation is only 0.6 Mc/s. I donít know if that separation could cause problems.
Mike
It shouldn't under normal circumstances. There is a 200Khz 'guard band' minimum between adjacent stations. Here in London we have 105.4, 105.8 and 106.2 occupied by local stations so there is only 400Khz between them. No problem at all with reception and the only difficulty I have is trying to tune them in on the old Leak Troughline.....it has trouble with those but when they are tuned in, reception is fine.

Modern digital tuners have no trouble at all.
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Old 9th Jun 2021, 10:27 pm   #18
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Default Re: Cooling towers down, better FM reception now!

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevehertz View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by MotorBikeLes View Post
25 to 30 years ago, I was working in Rugeley (but 'nuff said on that).
I was doing some building at the time, so called at the Power Station to get their lightweight foam blocks. I imagine that has finished now as well. They were good, and I saved loads by having "mis-shapes", or seconds in their terminology.
But at least improved reception for you.
Les.
A company within a stone's throw of the power station called Celcon made the blocks out of the ash resulting from the firing process. They were so light they floated in water.
I live a mile or so away from where Agecroft colliery was. The power station was on the other side of Agecroft Road fed by a conveyer inside a concrete over-bridge. Next to the power station was the Thermalite plant that turned the ash into building blocks.

I heard the explosion when they blew up the cooling towers in May 1994, SWMBO knew it was going to happen as she heard about it in the hairdressers, but she didn't mention it to me, I would have set up my video camera!
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Old 11th Jun 2021, 6:16 am   #19
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Default Re: Cooling towers down, better FM reception now!

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I live a mile or so away from where Agecroft colliery was. The power station was on the other side of Agecroft Road fed by a conveyer inside a concrete over-bridge. Next to the power station was the Thermalite plant that turned the ash into building blocks.
Was this the power station in the valley at Kearsley? I sometimes worked in that area in the valley erecting TV aerials attempting to get good TV reception.
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Old 11th Jun 2021, 8:52 am   #20
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Default Re: Cooling towers down, better FM reception now!

My sister used to live in Clifton Nottingham & the view out of her back window was Ratcliffe on Soar power station & pylons. The ghosting on her TV signal from Waltham was terrible, she tried using Sutton Coldfield and that was no better. When the Nottingham (Kimberley) relay TX fired up that gave the best ghost free reception. The Nottingham relay was vertical polarisation and the others horizontal, wondering if that made a difference? Or was it just luck?

I always know I'm nearing home when coming up the M1 from down south when I clock the Ratcliffe cooling towers: "I'll soon be home & guzzling tea in about 20 mins" I think to myself...
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