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An important department maintaining the BBC lines network
© Bev Marks



The Audio and Telecomms Area in Broadcasting House, London had a number of responsibilities. It was a specialist department for the testing of permanent and temporary audio lines for the BBC. Also looked after the BBC's teleprinter services and in later years data circuits.

Bev's Story

I was on duty in ATA in LBH Ext one evening at about 17:40 when London Control Room reported an intermittant PW circuit from Bristol, to be used for a live insert into the 18:00 Home Service News bulletin.

I was a 'green-behind-the-ears' TA, just a few months out of Wood Norton, TA19 course. Colin Seabright, ATA Supervisor, initially diagnosed an equaliser problem and sent me with "ATA wired cans" (U-Link & Jack) and equaliser patch leads to go to Control Room and have a look. The ATOM showed me where the equaliser was among the 30 odd bays and beat a hasty retreat...

With time short, I had a listen across the circuit and it seemed OK, then someone walked by me to do an unconnected thing when I heard the intermittent drop outs... So now it was a question of equaliser or GPA/4A Amplifier problem? I had already learnt that GPAs were quite dodgy - their valves were being used at their limit and frequently failed, so first thing was to change the GPA, pretty easily done by unplugging and grabbing a spare for the circuit - done, but no improvement! I then decided to pull the equaliser out of its tray and have a look. The chassis inside had an upper and lower layer - nothing obvious on upper layer, nothing obvious on lower layer, so plug back-in. Aha, that was when I saw a large capacitor (about 6 x 4 x 2 cm) ever so slightly move. It turned out a single solder joint was not only a dry joint, but also broken.

Now what to do? No time to go and fetch a soldering iron. So using the Bay 'phone I called ATA and Colin said words to the effect: "Simple, get the equaliser back in circuit, using the equaliser patch cords and hold the joint together with your fingers." So I did that and listened very intently to 10 minutes of the 18:00 Home Service News bulletin until the Bristol contribution was over - with not one glitch!

I was bit late leaving that night; I then had to resolder the equaliser before departure because the circuit was booked again for use later that evening.

cc BY-NC-ND © 2014 Bev Marks


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