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Small-scale DAB in Glasgow

By Art Grainger
Posted 13 December 2015, 1.50am est

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I was out and about yesterday, doing some birdwatching whilst getting my very first opportunity to play with my new 600mm lens that I bought a month ago (the weather has been that bad for so long). At the same time I decided to see how well the signal for the new small-scale MUX service is around its service area and more especially out in the fringes.

Up until now I've been very used to rock-solid DAB reception in the car almost everywhere. It's only when I get very far beyond a DAB station's service area that I experience any drop-out and eventually the loss of a signal. In the case of the Dundee multiplex, I can still get rock solid reception through the streets of Edinburgh and across the Lothians, even up to the boundary of West Lothian and Lanarkshire (which is a good 50 miles or more beyond the area it's supposed to serve.

I didn't have such high hopes for the small-scale MUX that's using two transmitters (at 50 watts) as a mini-SFN to serve most of Greater Glasgow. Whilst I wasn't right inside its area (I don't suspect that there are any reception problems there, except for deep in amongst the buildings of the city centre), I was driving around the North side of Glasgow then onwards through Stepps, towards Cumbernauld, back along the M73 and then up the M8 to the Newhouse interchange and then through some towns on the outer edges of North Lanarkshire.

Despite the low power, it really surprised me how well the signal actually gets out. It does drop out - for a second in some places, even in Stepps. However, during the rest of my journey the signal was fairly stable with no bubbling mud. Drop outs were few along the motorways and trunk roads and they only lasted a second or two. Even when driving through Newmains, although the signal strength meter was flitting between one and two bars, the signal was still very good, with few drop-outs.

So the signal is getting out quite well beyond its service area, albeit in anorak quality. Even for me, I would find the drop-outs irritating because I am so used to rock-solid reception.

It is therefore quite possible that DAB listeners inside dwellings could get adequate reception if they have sensitive DAB radios that are suitably placed in a spot in the room that can pick up the new MUX, even though they may be 20 miles or so beyond the intended service area.

As for the North side of Glasgow, I reckon a third transmitter would have improved coverage in that part.

The test transmissions for Go Radio are quite amusing. Fancy a Macaroon bar?

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