The Wrexham, Chester and Liverpool multiplex is the first launch for MuxCo and we’re using a variety of new systems to bring the stations to your radios. That’s the good thing about test transmissions – they let you try some different things without it interrupting listeners’ enjoyment when the multiplex is properly live. It’s why, in this test phase, you should be aware that services/barkers may stop, be reconfigured and do strange things!
Our current outlined plan is to to test some more services on Monday. I wanted to flag up, though, that this definitely won’t be happening at midnight tonight – so no need to wait up auto-tuning! Whilst we’re still looking to do something on Monday, some of the things we’ve been doing over the weekend may mean that the next bundle of changes may happen a little later – please don’t be too disappointed – this is just what happens with tests!
Wrexham Rhos has passed Ofcom’s tests this morning so now joins Moel-y-Parc in becoming passed and on the air.
If you’re in the area, we would love to hear your transmission reports. Please send your postcode/location and the signal level/quality to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also guess who our Test Transmission announcers are too…
If your DAB Digital Radio has, er, a few years on the clock, make sure you do a full scan rather than just a UK scan to pick us up.
I’ve just got back from Chairing a brilliant Radio Academy session on RAJAR. I’m sure it’ll be online soon, definitely well worth having a listen.
Whilst I was there, I got an update from our transmission contractors on how today went and I wanted to share it with you.
So… Moel-y-Parc was tested and approved by Ofcom. We had it on for much of the day, but powered it down early this evening. Ofcom will test Wrexham Rhos tomorrow and, should all be fine, it should be on by late morning. The team will then re-activate MYP, meaning both should be on by around 2pm.
If I don’t see transmission reports on Digital Spy, before I hear from the engineers, I’ll be disappointed.
Hopefully, it’s going to be a busy week for our Wrexham, Chester and Liverpool multiplex.
At the beginning of the week Ofcom will be working with us to do the testing on our initial two transmitters. They should be working on Moel-y-Parc on Monday and Wrexham Rhos on Tuesday. When this has been completed we expect test transmissions to begin from these two sites.
In the test transmissions we’ll be broadcasting six ‘barker’ channels. These are pre-recorded loops that explain that six new channels will be launching soon. These barkers will often be interrupted with gaps and also live feeds of the stations that will replace them.
We’ve got six different presenters to read our announcements – but can you name them all?
If all goes to plan, our tests continue on Friday when we’ll replace one of the barker’s with Dee on DAB and then the following Monday (18th) when we test with live output of Nation Radio, Real Radio, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru.
Juice FM (and the official launch) will be when we add the St. John’s Beacon transmitter in the coming weeks.
This weekend our transmission team and Microwave Link supplier successfully completed the next part of the work necessary for the launch of the WCL mutiplex. They have one more piece of work to do later this week and then we are expecting some commissioning work with Ofcom at the beginning of next week.
Should all of this go to plan, our intention is to start test transmissions from Moel-Y-Parc and Wrexham Rhos on the 13th March.
There is some more work to do on our St John’s Beacon installation, before it (and Juice FM) join the network. We will hopefully be able to update the blog on firmer dates in the coming weeks.
Apologies for the radio silence, the status of the multiplex build has been changing quite frequently over the past few weeks and we haven’t wanted to put up lots of conflicting messages.
We’re very close to launch but have a very basic technical problem to overcome before we do that. Sadly it’s not very exicting, it’s very dull. What we need to do is install a microwave link between two sites to get the ETI feed (that’s all the radio stations) to the transmitters.
The sites that we’re broadcasting from have lots of other users on them and there’s special agreements needed to send our guys up them. The team we’re using for this are specialist riggers who, as they’re great, are very busy (oddly doing lots of 4G installations at the moment).
We’ve had a couple of bumps with getting everyone’s timings to work together – ours, our riggers, our transmission contractors, the site owners and the site’s users – which means we haven’t been confident to talk about launch dates.
I know this is incredibly frustrating for you and it is to us and our service providers as well. When we’ve got some firmer information – and dates – we’ll share them here.
Here’s another update on the progress for our Wrexham, Chester and Liverpool multiplex.
We’re pleased to announce that we now have transmitters installed and powered at two of our three sites – Wrexham Rhos and Moel-y-Parc. In addition, the steel work for the mast to support the antenna has been delivered to St John’s Beacon and is awaiting fitting. We’re pushing to get as much done as possible on masts before the seasonal “freeze” on planned work around the Christmas period.
This week also sees multiplexer bay and equipment delivered to our transmission HQ in London and we’re finalising the configuration details. This includes kbit/s, labels, links to FM (where needed) and several other variables to ensure stations present in the way they and their listeners would like.
We’ve also started hooking up service providers to the network, with three down and three more to go.
The transmitter builds are progressing but telecoms delays continue to hamper our ability to currently announce a launch date.
More positively, we’re excited to see our multiplexers commissioned and installed into the rack. Here are a couple of pictures. You can see that there are two IPCs – one is the main and one is the backup; they’re otherwise identical. The multiplexing software is loaded up and all the information on the services is programmed in. The other things in the rack are GPS clocks and routers. This is the heart of our multiplex and we can’t wait to bring the whole thing to life as soon as we can.
Work continues for the launch, here’s a quick update of where things stand.
Our transmitters are arriving in the UK this week and installation will commence immediately. Given the time of the year, weather issues will always remain a variable in the build timetable. The multiplexer (the software that multiplexes the audio) is built and expected to be in place in the next two weeks.
It’s disappointing that delays to some telecoms provision mean that we can’t yet provide a firm date for our launch. We do, however continue to push forwards and hope to be able to provide more information soon.
The summer saw a flurry of orders – for everything; antennas, filters, transmitters, telecom circuits, encoders, routers and a LOT of cable ties. Now we move into the delivery phase with the work being scheduled to install all this stuff; from our transmitters on the masts to delivery of all this encoding equipment and circuits to each radio station. It’s actually a lot less equipment in station’s racks rooms than used to be the case – now it’s about 4U in total, it used to be 16U back in the day.
The line-up stands the same it was at the start of the launch process, no changes there, in case you were curious.
Something we’re offering that’s a bit new is that we will be transmitting a small station logo via the multiplex data on the DAB Carousel. This means that where devices have the functionality they can display this alongside the station’s name.
Our transmission subcontractor advises us that we are on track for our launch this Autumn and we can’t wait. Given the time of year weather is a factor that may impact on transmitter work especially given the very exposed nature of Moel Y Parc so we’re holding off on circulating a definite date at the moment but that’s where we are.