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Photos by Dan Glover Page last updated: 2016-02-24

February 2016: DAB and some dishes...

As long ago as late 2011 Dunkirk appeared on a list of potential DAB sites. It has taken over four years for this to reach at least a partial conclusion...

The real story begins in June 2014 with a planning application for DAB dipoles together with the usual ground-level equipment and two SHF links. The application was at that stage primarily for BBC DAB. During the initial consultation period various objections emerged but the most surprising was from the company which now owns the site - they indicated that they were unable to give consent pending a report on the condition of the structure. To shorten the tale somewhat the plans were revised during 2015 to include strengthening work but somewhere along the line the SHF links were dropped from the plans. Another change was the use of an existing building and different position for the ground-mounted satellite dish. This version of the plan was finally approved in November 2015. Almost immediately a further planning application was submitted seeking the addition of two small SHF links which were said to be required "for SDL". This added further intrigue since at that stage the list of launch sites for SDL was at best vague and the date of launch was unknown

A drive-by visit in January showed no sign of work in progress. Meanwhile the approval process for the SHF links made its way through the Borough and Parish Council channels with the latter intending to object and the former considering the matter at a meeting on 11 February 2016. It took a few days for the decision to be confirmed: application refused!

Despite the "for SDL" links being rejected reports started to come in of test transmissions being received at good strength in north and east Kent, indeed by 16 February SDL was received nearby in places which were not particularly well served for BBC and D1. Within a few days the other national multiplexes had magically increased in signal strength

Other commitments meant Dan was unable to visit Dunkirk until a week later, but it now seems the installation work was in the first couple of weeks of February with the SDL test transmissions being the first on-air

Oh, the other bit of background is that clearly a number of large SHF dishes have been added since 2011. These are for "High Frequency Trading" and went through the planning process during 2013 and 2014. At this stage it's probably worth pointing out that the largest dish is 2.4 m in diameter (and at 47 m from ground level)...

A similar perspective to the main November 2011 view. The DAB installation is "round the back" but we see a small number of large and large number of small dishes and panels have appeared

Looking at the north east face of the tower - the "big" SHF links run north west and south east with the DAB array just below the top of the structure and with maximum ERP believed to be on bearing 320

No change to the Band II array - if the original it is now over 30 years old. This arrangement of DAB dipoles with a triangular mesh screen is apparently known as "Screened dipoles ver G"

We can just see the main feeders at the bottom left and power dividers mounted inside the tower and it would seem the dipoles are fed independently as two pairs

Here's the new array seen from the opposite side

On the ground, the DAB installation has used this existing building rather than the new cabin originally requested. The Band II yagi on the roof probably goes back to the initial days of Invicta

This time we have three GPS cones. The satellite dish casts a shadow on the wall...'s close to the fence but clearly the mesh isn't thought to be a problem. May be a good idea not to let things get completely overgrown though?

This seems to be the proposed location for two SHF links (the 6-element 150 MHz yagis are a relic from when the site was used for police and fire communications). The extra dishes are to be 200 mm and 300 mm, apparently facing Chartham and Wye respectively. For some reason the local objectors did not seem to understand that these small dishes would be relatively unobtrusive. One wonders if they are actually required before the local multiplex can be added - SDL is satellite fed along with BBC and D1

SHF link dishes, of course, come in different sizes - as do birds!

The large antenna is 2.4 m diameter - which I think means the small one is around 300 mm or so. Not much bigger than the tower leg really

A sign of former times

Dunkirk index

Planning history for site (Swale Borough Council)

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