Forum Forums Memories from the Labs Outstanding in his field – My days as a radio pager test dummy.

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    James Bird

    You probably don’t know me, but you may have seen me – Standing in the sports field, rain or shine, sometimes in wellies, sometimes in shorts,
    some times in both wellies and shorts, pager clipped in my top pocket doing a strange dance as I waited for 4 out of 5 calls, rotate 90 degrees, another 5 beebs, and on till the end.
    I by a quirk of fate happened to measure up as a stable and good body to test pager sensitivity on. I still remember the day it started –
    Down at the ERA test ground in Leatherhead one rainy cold day in the early days of BT’s acceptance trials of the Zero IF POCSAG Pager.
    We all had a go, standing there having the pager sensitivity measured but it seemed devices strapped to me were constantly best part of a dB more sensitive.
    We struggled meeting specification over the years, 1/2 a dB was a luxury, so my added dB seemed welcome.
    Still don’t know what my chums in the wooden hut next the car park did, if they really were winding the signal level up and down, or just playing cards.
    But there I was merrily doing my dance, waiting for beep code 4 to arrive. Over the years we tried other people, tried tripods, even a perspex cylinder full of salt water, but yours truly – Dipole Man – seemed to be the only way we met spec. All those years of being irradiated at -105.4dBm, I still glow in the dark, but it does cut down on the heating bills.
    James Bird

    • This topic was modified 1 year, 5 months ago by James Bird.

    Hi James,

    I worked in that Group! I was supposed to be working on DSP radio receivers, and they were working on the production of that very receiver when I joined!

    However they redeployed me to integrated optics as there was more need there.


    David Wright

    Ah, I remember POCSAG; in about 1980 we wrote the software for BT’s POCSAG encoder, which would live deep under the streets of London for many years thereafter, coding up the messages sent to doctors and salesmen across the land at 512 bits/second.  It ran on an Intel 8085 and was one of the first applications for my MIRTOS real time operating system.  I should write more about that when I have time.

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