A recent addition to the station is this Racal RA17 receiver, which was made in February 1959 and was acquired recently from Ivor, G0PCQ.
It was a little deaf to start with and within a few days had died completely. So I took it to the G3YHV hospital for sick radios, where Doctor Colin (who has two of these receivers) made it better again. It is now sitting on my desk awaiting a time when I can rearrange the station opposite to accommodate it. it is particularly lively on 40M.
It's amazing how 30 metres can sometimes be dead then all of a sudden a lone piece of DX calls me. That happened recently when I put out a call on a dead band and a 9M6 in Malaysia came straight back. I've been having fun running 5 watts and getting reports back from South America too. So, 30M gets my thumbs up as a good band for DX.
For most of my amateur radio years, I ignored forty metres as a band where nothing interesting happens. However, over the past few years, I have become more friendly toward the band. I also operate CW on 40M but occasionally I plug the microphone in. This weekend, for example, 16-17th August 2014, I abandoned the Morse key and worked a few of the lighthouses on the air, which made a change. However, the best fun came when the band opened up in the early hours of 18th, when stateside starts coming in at 59+20Db. So I had a few QSO's running about 200 watts into my piece of wire. Then, I was lucky enough to be first on the scene when LU5FC came on (also 59+) so I grabbed him as well. I felt rather pleased with that.
Some forty-seven years ago, as a schoolboy, I was introduced to the wonderful hobby of amateur radio, which has brought me so much pleasure and lasting friendships over the years. After a silence of twenty years, I re-emerged in 2007, as sort of ‘Born Again’ amateur in the guise of 9V1RA. There is something magical about this hobby that I just can’t grow out of.
SWL ROBERT ANDREWS 1967 QEH BOARDING SCHOOL BRISTOL
In 1967, my physics teacher, Richard Pavey, G3PXM, sat me down and introduced me to an Admiralty B40 receiver. Dr. Dick, as Pavey was known, had set up a radio room in order to engage pupils in a healthy extra- curricular interest and as a welcome escape from the daily Dickensian awfulness of boarding school. From the initial whistles, buzzes, static crashes and other cacophony emerging from the B40 came voices I can still recall today - G3VUC, and G3KNE, amongst others. A few days later, Dr. Dick arranged for a man called Mr. Harold Leonard to give a talk to us about amateur radio. On my next release home, it transpired that Harold and his wife were old friends of my mum and dad. That sealed the deal and from that moment I became terribly interested in radio. Harold Leonard was the sort of jovial uncle everyone would want and was the source of great encouragement to youngsters eager to find out more about radio. He was known to all as “Uncle Len”, G4UZ.
Another great source of encouragement came in the rotund pipe-smoking form of Maurice Wilkins G3YOH, who warmly greeted me into the fairly newly formed Shirehampton Amateur Radio Club, in 1971. Maurice was just the best front-of-house man any radio club would need to welcome newcomers. I have had an association with Shirehampton ARC ever since. I’d also like to posthumously thank Maurice for introducing me to beer and Italian Opera.
By this time, I had enrolled on the MPT Radio Officers course at Brunel Technical College. I had applied to become a domestic TV engineer, just like Colin G3YHV, but I walked into the wrong interview room! So radio was now firmly part of my life. On 15th February 1973, I became licensed as G4BWB. My great joy from this event was crushed on 13th March 1973, when train enthusiast and station inspector, Dennis Hedges, condemned my state-of-the-art F.G. Rayer designed top-band transmitter as a device that promoted stronger harmonic radiation than the frequency it was designed for. Yet, two weeks later, over a cup of tea and a conversation about trains, Dennis relented and allowed me back on the air. I had done nothing about the harmonic issue!
EARLY G4BWB (1973?)
During the years up until 1985, radio was an all-consuming interest. I was very active on 160M, as well as HF. I was also very engrossed in the running of Shirehampton ARC. However, on the 20th April 1987, I had a QSO with Clive, G4NAQ. At 10.30 AM, I switched off and remained off the air for the next twenty years. These were the wilderness years dealing with ailing parents, marrying and bringing up a family and trying to earn a living.
G4BWB IN 1974
G4BWB IN 1985
In 2007, having lived for many years in Singapore, the chap who ran a business next door to mine asked me to watch a film he was editing, which he told me would not make a lot of sense to me. When, I realised that this was a film about a DX-pedition to the Antarctic we were both amazed that we had been next door to each other for years, without realising we were both licensed. James, 9V1YC, is well known around the world for challenging DX-peditions and as a great CW man. Then, about a year or so later, I was out buying a part for my bathroom tap when I sought shelter in a shop door way as the heavens opened with great ferocity. When I turned around, I discovered that the shop was full of ancient amateur radio equipment, so I invited myself in for a cup of tea. Frank Aw’s shop literally creaks under the weight of old radio gear. He ordered me to attend the next meeting of the Singapore Amateur Radio Transmitting Society (there doesn’t appear to be a receiving society). The late Peter Cook 9V1PC (G4NCA) lent me a TS830 and helped me put up an aerial and in January 2007, after my government station inspection, I came back on the air as 9V1RA - creator of pile-ups.
For twenty years I had drifted away from amateur radio. In the beginning, it had been the amateur radio community who had welcomed me and encouraged my interest. Now, in 2007, it was the Singapore amateur community who had encouraged me back into the hobby. But it is more than the wonderful friends I have made that’s been the binding force that has kept my interest even during the dormant hibernation years. And that’s really what the point of all this garbage I have written is about is coming to.
It’s hard to explain to a generation of internet communicators, what the draw of amateur radio is. I’m not sure I have the answers. More than ever, though, we need people like Len G4UZ, and Maurice G3YOH, and my Singapore friends to welcome newcomers in order to secure a future for what may well become a fading hobby. So what draws me to this hobby? Well it’s the magical element I mentioned at the beginning. I make no other comparison between myself and Marconi other than the belief that we have both shared something quite wonderful. In Degna Marconi’s book, ‘My father Marconi’, she tells the story of how Marconi’s mother was summoned upstairs to the attic room in the Villa Grifone, which Marconi had secured as a laboratory, despite protestations from his father. What she witnessed must have been a truly magical moment. When Marconi pressed the telegraph key a bell quietly tinkled at the other end of the room. Between the key and the bell was nothing but air. It must have been similar to the kind of moment that I still feel whenever I transmit the equivalent power of a 100 watt light bulb (or much less) into the air and get a reply from the other side of the world.
I have received a number of supportive e-mails relating to my letter which was published in the June Edition of Radcom. The RSGB entered into a full discussion article as a result. 'Our Fading Hobby' discusses the urgent need to encourage youth into the hobby and in particular the need for youth representation on the board of the RSGB and other national and international organisations. They are the future of our hobby. The RSGB issued two a staggering and shocking statistics. Firstly that out of 80,000+ licensed amateurs in the UK, the RSGB have only 21,000 members (some of which are overseas members and listeners) and secondly out of this membership only 295 are below the age of 25.
We really need to change our focus toward youth in order to prolong what may become a fading hobby.
I would like to thank all those who wrote to me by e-mail G4BWB@mail.com I have written a follow-up response which I hope they will publish.
Contests, both national and international are enjoyed by thousands of amateurs across the world. They help keep the hobby vibrant, alive and the bands active even though, in my view, a lot of fun has been taken out of them by the use of skimmers and other devices which detract from the hunting aspect and need for 'old-time' operator skill.
My real concern is that there are also many amateurs who are not contest operators and who can only get on the air at weekends. Yet every weekend it seems the bands are saturated by wall to wall (band to band) contests which means that it's hard to go on the air for a normal QSO without having to fight through contest stations or be called by them, particularly on the HF bands.
I'm all for contests but I think that there is a need for some international regulation to be fair to all - contest operators and non contest operators.
I suggest either of the following.
Contests be restricted to two weekends in a month internationally either say weekend one and weekend three,
Contests should be restricted to certain areas of the band plan (appropriate to mode of operation), leaving part of the band plan (appropriate to mode of operation) free for normal operating.