Problems with the Carhampton relay

Since mid July I’ve been getting more and more reports of problems receiving the Carhampton relay. My first thought was that the relay had a fault and I reassured my customers that it would be up and running again in a couple of days…but it wasn’t. I had first been contacted by three of my customers in Old Cleeve and one in West Quantoxhead reporting a loss of local channels and it soon became clear that the fault probably wasn’t with the relay. I was also confused that none of my customers in Carhampton itself had contacted me, so I set off with an aerial and my signal strength meter. Firstly taking a reading at the junction of Vicarage Rd and Eastbury Hill, this was perfect, it was still good in Blue Anchor so I took the road from the foot of Cleeve Hill towards Old Cleeve. Stopping at Binham Farm all was well but 200 yards up the road, although the signal strength remained good, there was next to no signal quality, this persisted through Old Cleeve and Bilbrook and only started to get better around Withycombe.

So back I went to one of my customers in the affected area and sat on the roof with my aerial, the relay was only a couple of miles away and could be seen clearly but still no signal quality. I found that by panning the aerial to the south the quality started to improve, even reaching 100%, was this a reflection off the hills? I wasn’t sure.

Well after a bit of research I disregarded the Carmel transmitter which had retuned on the 17th of July, moving it’s frequencies adjacent to the Carhampton relay, this wouldn’t cause the problem, but then I noticed that Kilvey Hill near Port Talbot had retuned, also on the 17th, which is precisely when the problems started. It had retuned to the same frequencies as Carhampton, it’s also vertically polarised like Carhampton. So now it seems that in that one corridor to the East of Carhampton it’s having enough influence to cause interference, sitting on the roof panning the aerial South was enough to reduce the influence of Kilvey Hill and allow the Quality to return to the signal from Carhampton.

The answer? I’m not entirely sure yet, pointing the aerial to the south of the relay is not a good or reliable option, maybe a more directional aerial or siting the aerial where the signal from Kilvey Hill is blocked. I’m thinking this will be a permanent problem as when Old Cleeve is entered into the Digital UK coverage checker it says no reception is possible from Carhampton, this suggests to me that they knew there would be a problem even before the Kilvey Hill retune

As soon as I have an answer I will post it here…if all else fails there is always Freesat.