Edenaire refurbs Goonhilly Antennae
Despite adverse weather conditions and stringent criteria, Edenaire has successfully refurbished air conditioning systems at three antennae at the world's largest satellite earth station at the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall.
BT's Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station which dominates the horizon with an impressive array of satellite antennae, some measuring up to 100 feet in diameter, is home to a vast network of communications equipment that is operational all year round.
Goonhilly provides an essential service and in addition to handling 10-million telephone calls every day the site is also responsible for handling the transmission of live TV news, current affairs and international sporting events such as the Olympics or the World Cup.
The site has 25 dishes in operational use and for development. The first, named Arthur or Antenna 1, went live in 1962 and was used for tracking America's satellite, Telstar. Each antenna is mounted on special frames with the equipment room below which houses a variety of computer based equipment used for relaying and receiving the signals from the dishes.
The heat generated could impair the operational efficiency of the equipment and the traffic handled. Air conditioning is vital to ensure that communications at Goonhilly are not disrupted. Edenaire had to recover and replace a number of existing units whilst ensuring that Antenna 1 could still function without degradation of service. Two Series 600 units with 30 kW capacity were installed under Antenna 1 and two BTX 15 units under Antenna 3. Two more BTX 30 units were housed under Antenna 6 otherwise known as Merlin (and unofficially know as Blue Peter after the BBC's popular childrens' programme).
Merlin is the largest antenna and carried the Live-Aid Concert in 1985 to over two-billion people in 100 countries. Because of the strategic importance of Goonhilly the work had to be completed in tandem over a six week period. Stringent safety precautions had to be observed to protect the antennae. The AHUs were craned into position to avoid coming into contact and upsetting the finely balances positions of each antenna.
Weather played an important part in Edenaire's designs. The Lizard is exposed and close to the coast and although subject to a mild climate is vulnerable to salt-laden winds. The units casings were constructed from stainless steel and copper coils and special fans were fitted to prevent rusting. Rob Jones, Edenaire's National Sales Manager, said "Goonhilly is a spectacular site. Apparently the aperture in the centre of the antennae is wide enough for a car to be driven through which gives an idea of their enormity."
"Although each project is unique, the Goonhilly project required skilful designing to manufacture units that could handle the air vo lumes, fit into the space provided and contend with an unpredictable climate."