My interest in radio is life long. Starting as a youngster with the home valve shortwave domestic radio so large that we kept it in a cupboard under the stairs and used an extension speaker in the ‘living room’ – Two Way Family Favorites is one of my earliest radio memories. Sunday mornings before lunch if my memory is correct. A programme that connected far flung military bases [BFPO ‘British Forces Posted Overseas’] back to families in the United Kingdom. All these mysterious and exotic sounding places are now just a cheap flight or free internet call away.
Living in the east end of London in a small terraced house the scope for a good SWL antenna was limited. However, I was rather lucky that we had a disused cable radio (Rediffusion) set-up with the wiring still in place. The cable passed between the terraces at roof top height and I pressed this into service as a more than adequate long-wire via a small home made radio (transistor) which was one of the projects in the ‘Philips Electronic Engineer’ kit.
(Images from HERE)
This was to lead to a bit of a ‘eureka moment’ in my life. I always (then) kept a bit of a written log of amateur radio stations heard and often would write with a SWL report to stations heard in the hopes of getting a QSL card – I did not know of the existence of the RSGB bureau so it was always via direct mail. One day I did not receive a QSL card but an actual in person visit from a real life radio amateur who lived a few miles away from me. His call G3PGI (this is probably around 40 years ago….) I will always remember. With him he brought the largest, heaviest radio I have ever seen for me to use! What a fantastic gesture. If I recall correctly it was a Marconi CR100 and when connected to my ‘Rediffusion’ antenna opened up a whole new radio world.
(Image from HERE)
With savings, from a paper round, I then bought (I think from G. W. Smith of Lisle Street, London) a UNICA UNR-30 valve radio with BFO with which I discovered ‘numbers stations’.
(Images from HERE)
I spent hours listening to the melodious but monotone series of numbers being read at all times of day and night. My little radio was by then installed in my bedroom and was often on all night as I spent the nighttime hours listening to these ‘spy stations’ in the cold war era pre-internet connected world. The ‘Conet Project’ is a great place to find out more about this fascinating and mysterious subject – In particular I recall the ‘theme music’ from recording #17 on this site.
With that radio, in 1968, I was the first in the house to hear of the disastrous explosion at Ronan Point, a residential high rise tower block close by. A gas explosion caused partial collapse of one corner of the building. I woke my parents to tell them about the news from my radio – long before 24 hour rolling news.
Time passed and school became history but my interest in radio and electronics took me to college to study radio and electronics eventually leading to a life long career in the telecommunications industry – so a big thank you to G3PGI!
Eventually I found the time to get back into the amateur radio world after a very long gap. The then UK Novice scheme was brought to my attention by a work colleague who was luckily also an instructor. Not long after that pub (whre else….) conversation I did the training, did the practicals, took the exam and became 2E1CIR on 5th November 1993. My first QSO with that call, running just 3W, was with G0PIA on the 14th January 1994 – Thanks Mr John Brown! The next step to a full license was not out of reach and I soon became G7RVH on the 19th February 1994. My first contact with that call, still on 3W, was with Frank 2E1CIL (now G7TAX).
Many great contacts and friendships ensued. What a fantastic hobby and community amateur radio is!
It is with some pride that I can state that we are a fully licensed family. Number one son Ben became 2E1DLO in 1994 first followed by XYL Jackie as 2E1DWM (1995) and then Nick as M3BEO in 2002.
A bit of a gap in activity (too many hours working across time zones as a project manager) now finds me back in the amateur radio scene with the same wonder and fascination now as all those decades ago.
I enjoy the the UHF side of radio life and particularly 70cm simplex contacts in any mode. Although my recent (June 2016) simplex 70cm contact in to the Netherlands, using DMR, has been quite a highlight.
In common with most operators my home location has a very high noise floor despite being quite rural. So, I’ve now also been operating a /P station whilst camping using a mix of end fed long wires and vertical antennas. The station is run from a golf cart battery which provides for many hours of operation when using modest power levels. I particularly enjoy the inter G contacts on 80M and have checked into the WAB net and love listening to the stations transmitting as part of the Vintage & Military Amateur Radio Society (VMARS) nets.
Page last updated 26th July 2017