End of an era...

After 22 years, we have now exited the lease at our Hursley Park site. IBM will be repurposing it for a new non-EMC business in 2020.

Many of our customers are still with us from 1997 and will have tested at F Block. The building was unique at the time and represented a huge investment of $1,000,000 by IBM in the 1980s.

The plastic, above ground section was designed by York University (now Eurofins E&E York) with a mix of fiberglass inner and outer skins and a lightweight foam core to give it rigidity but maximum transparency to radio waves. The steep roof angle was needed in case of snow, to ensure a build-up didn't cause it to collapse.

With 3, 10 and 30m ranges, it was designed for global EMC testing from the start. The 30m site was only used a handful of times over the years, and always required a big set-up in advance to get the extended groundplane rolled out and the 30m mast configured.

Two similar EMC buildings were later designed based on F Block, one in Greenock and one in Birmingham. Neither of these exist now.

Two floors below ground, in a sub-basement, was the 3m chamber and all of the control equipment that was needed to run the facility. When it was initially considered as an EMC Open Area Test Site (OATS), IBM had anticipated its use being limited to 1 or 2 hours a few days a week. Prior to Europe introducing the CE Mark, this was about right. Once the CE Mark was visible on the horizon, various global IBM labs were on site 24/7 to get products tested, fixed and compliant. We can remember IBM Yamato EMC engineers sleeping in the lift on cardboard sheets in between shifts!

When we became independent from IBM in 1997, we added an immunity lab in the sub-basement; which allowed for full emissions and immunity testing on one site. With a unique lift, it allowed large products to be moved easily between the chamber below ground up to the OATS. Part of the groundplane being fixed to the top of the lift ensured continuity when the lift was in the down position.

The 10m measuring distance was critical for Taiwan and South Korea testing as these countries made no allowance for 3m Semi Anechoic Chambers (SAC); which, of course, are the norm these days. With the general radio spectrum becoming more polluted and congested with various new allocated bands, the OATS method has become increasingly harder to use.

We will be sad to leave this historic and pioneering facility, but we have a plan in place for any future 10m testing requirements. We will be utilising the OATS at Eurofins E&E ETC in Devon and a 10m SAC within the Eurofins E&E group of EMC laboratories.

Tags: EMC Testing

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