Radio Amateurs (et al!)

Lazarus

Lazarus

Tout Rond Bon Oeuf
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My Satellite Setup
80cm Motorised.
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Some chat in one of the mainstream Topics reminds us that there are many amongst us with other hats: Radio Amateurs, SWLs, CB ers, Pirates even.


So here's a dedicated Thread for you to tell us who who are!


I took my RAE in the early 70s, having had to get special permission from my Headmaster to do an RAE evening class.

Upon passing, i took the Callsign G8HGU and I acquired a simple Crystal Controlled Heathkit 2W Tranceiver for 144-146 MHz, met on air some local buddies who taught me Morse. After a few weeks, I went to Mablethorpe Post Office Radio Station and took (and passed!) my 12wpm Morse Test.

Converted to G4CNG and bought a second hand FL50B/FR50B Tx/Rx ensemble.

Early (and effective) black boxes.

I still maintain the Licence, but no longer indulge.


But that interest guided my Professional life and I became an Apprentice with Marconi, leading to a Degree and participation in the Design of early (Maritime) Sat Comms systems.



So, what are your stories?
 
Analoguesat

Analoguesat

Administrator
Staff member
Messages
48,240
Location
Scottish Borders
My Satellite Setup
TM 5402HD
Skybox F3
Sky+ UK.
My Location
Scottish Borders
I supplied cassette tape music shows to a pirate radio station for a few months 20+ years ago.

Radio Ability on short wave was the station :D
 
Vipersan

Vipersan

Emmett Browns Ghost
Staff member
Messages
10,918
My Satellite Setup
IP9000HD +
TD110 Dish and TD88 Dish in Tandem
66°East to 60°West.
AZbox PrmHD + OpnbxS9HD + Skybox + DrHD F15
2x VboxII AZ-EL
2 m+ Alcoa PF + BSC421 C-Band lnbf...
+SS2/TwHnS2-3200 pci/TBS6925 pci
1.5 Fortec Star -Gbox - HtoH Ku/Ka/C
My Location
UK
Oh ..boy ..
This will dredge up a few memories.
Took the RAE exam whilst still at school ..and eventually passed ...night school classes with many others ..but I was the only kid...
I even began to learn Morse ...and got my send speed up to about 20 WPM ..but never managed to read at more than 8 or 10 ..
All wasted though ..as I was heavily involved with a group of Pirates ..
We numbered over 24 at the peak ...and I'll never forget being on my homebrew rig chatting to a guy in scandinavia below medium wave ..
and just a bit higher than the marine distress frequency ..when my bedroom door opened ..and in came 2 guys and a policeman ...whereupon they charged me under the official secrets act ..
Back then it was the GPO that did this tracking and charging.
I was sh!tting myself ..when my dad lightened the mood and made the policeman laugh by saying ..'there you go son ..your first brush with British Democracy'..
Well ..I never did get my licence/callsign...as somehow it lost it's allure after that ..
I went to court ..where I was up in front of the beak ..and terrified ..
Yes I cried ...more for all the gear I'd bought or constructed ..and thought never to see again..
Some of it I did actually get back ..
My R209 ex military reciver ahem ..classed as portable ..if you were built like Geoff Capes ..that is ..
..and my Ex Navy WW2 Cr100 ..which was refurbished fully about 10 years ago ..and still works perfectly.
I was fined £5 for the first offence ..and £10 for the second ..plus court costs.
My dad made me pay it back ..all of it ...and twas a helluva lot of money back then ..
I hadn't started work yet ..and my first weeks wages was only £12
Half of which I had to 'tip up' for my keep.
So ..I never got a licence ..and migrated to CB ..
I wanted and eventually got a Colt210 ..imported from the USA in somebodies suitacase ...
I invested in a DV27 Twig and a SWR meter ..
..and I was back on air..
I spent many hours up at night ..chatting ..and turning up for school with my eyes propped open with matchsticks..
Falling asleep in class etc..
Of course these Early days of CB used AM rigs ..and again ..totally illegal in the UK ..but eventually enough pressure was put on the govt of the day ..and we got our own CB band (27mghz) ..BUT ..FM not AM..
The reason ...less interferance to TV and radio users ..so ..I had to save up again ..and get an FM rig..
...Later in life I discovered Satellite ..which in the early days was resticted to the wealthy wadded ...as equipment cost in the £1000s ..but Rallies provided access to much sought after gear at prices even I could afford ...
Tech has been my life ...and still is ..
Once hooked ...you spend the rest of your life dangling on that wire.
From repairing TV's as a saturday job aged 11...and still doing it at 57 ..and all the years in between ..
For me it's a passion ...a hobby ...and a living .
One things for sure ..it keeps the grey matter ticking over ..cos there's ALWAYS something new to grab you by the neurons ..and squeeze your creative juices.
rgds
VS
 
Vipersan

Vipersan

Emmett Browns Ghost
Staff member
Messages
10,918
My Satellite Setup
IP9000HD +
TD110 Dish and TD88 Dish in Tandem
66°East to 60°West.
AZbox PrmHD + OpnbxS9HD + Skybox + DrHD F15
2x VboxII AZ-EL
2 m+ Alcoa PF + BSC421 C-Band lnbf...
+SS2/TwHnS2-3200 pci/TBS6925 pci
1.5 Fortec Star -Gbox - HtoH Ku/Ka/C
My Location
UK
..Another reason for not getting my HAM licence ..is the Tangent I went off on around age 20 ...when I discovered computers ..
I saved up and bought a VIC20 ..this changed my life and for the next few years took it apart mentally ..and wrote games for Comodore and Mr Micro ..
I also wrote games for the C64 ..the C16 and plus4 computers ..
I was in love the the intricacies of Machine language programming ..and bought every book I could on the subject ..and taught myself ..
The 6502 to me had beautiful structure ..and was my early cpu of choice ..
I never got rich ..and continued to repair TVs ..run my own business ...but wrote software in my own time ...
Basically worked in the shop 8 hours ...1 hour for tea ...upstairs to program till 3 or 4 in the morning ..up again at 7 or 8 ..and get a couple more hours programming in before starting work again..
I had a nervous breakdown which lasted about 12 months..
I became withdrawn and isolated ..and it took a long time to return from that dark place ...but eventually I did ...with no lasting damage ..or at least I hope not.
What I did get was a dose of aversion therapy ..and merely touching a keyboard made me physically sick for quite a few years after.
At least I got my house out of the money I made ...and was the only person I knew who owned a house outright at age 26.
and ..a few of my games are still out there in webland ..now converted by others to flash format.
So I guess I'll always be around ..even when this body gives out.
Not spectacular by todays standard ..but we were pioneers back then ..
No one taught us ..cos no one really knew how.
and to squeeze a 16 level/screen platform game with graphics into 3 kilobytes ...well ..I calls that an acheivement..
Thanks for reading ..
You almost have my life story..
LOL
 
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Huevos

Huevos

Satellite Freak
Messages
5,994
My Satellite Setup
57E to 58W, C-band and Ku, DVB-S2, 4:2:2 and blindscan.
My Location
38.5ºN, 0.5ºW
Well no Morse test anymore, it was scrapped years ago. Tivu, what do you mean "maintain a license"? A license is now for life, at least that's what the papers that came with my last renewal said several years ago.
 
Lazarus

Lazarus

Tout Rond Bon Oeuf
Staff member
Messages
26,020
My Satellite Setup
80cm Motorised.
Several small Dishes.
Much else.
My Location
North York Moors
@Huevos: Even though it's now a "Lifetime Licence", it still requires re-Validation every five years. Failure to do so causes it to lapse. And, of course, you can relinquish it anyway, if you wish. I thought about the latter, but chose to keep it "just in case".


BTW, do you have a Spanish Licence too?
 
Lazarus

Lazarus

Tout Rond Bon Oeuf
Staff member
Messages
26,020
My Satellite Setup
80cm Motorised.
Several small Dishes.
Much else.
My Location
North York Moors
And a copy of Tony1A 's contribution from elsewhere:

BTW, my callsign is 2E0DXV. Don't use HF, but I like VHF/UHF. Still got CB, too and I started off with a Midland 3001 AM in September 1981. Got the new Technomate box through yesterday but it will have to go back due to on screen menus looking smeared (intermittent). Oh well! Just have to to get the HD version instead! :)
 
PaulR

PaulR

Dazed and Confused Admin
Staff member
Messages
16,788
My Satellite Setup
-----------See sig-----------
My Location
Wirral, NW UK and Vaucluse, France.
Oh gosh, this will bring a number of people out of the woodwoork.

I have been interested in things electronic and electric since a very young lad when I experiemented to see what happened when I put a short length of wire across the bar of an electric fire; (a story I have told here before so search to find the result if you're interested).

Although interested at school in the sixties I never progressed even though I did go along to a meeting of the local radio club. This was stuffed with seeming nonagenerians so that didn't go anywhere. I had a brief fling of interest in the seventies but I got waylaid into motorsport which took up all my spare time and money - rallying is expensive and i reckon I could have bought a house with what I expended!

It was the early eighties when I became interested again following the CB craze. I decided that I would enter the RAE exams as an intellectual exercise for myself. I did this without any night school studying as I reckoned that I knew enough about the technical side of things and it would only be the rules and regs that I would have to swot up on. I took the exams and passed but then did nothing the pass slip for six months or more until I was persuaded by my wife-to-be to apply for a licence. I had also been along to a different, newer, radio club in the area which was full of young people my own age who had splintered away from the other club.

So I got a G6 licence, became more interested in radio and started VHF contesting. I had also joined RAYNET as I reckoned that it would be all to easy to be a solitary person stuck up in the attic talking to people elsewhere - and anyway it was a way of putting something into the community.

It was about the mid eigthies when I decided to take my morse test. Much hard work involved and I got myself up to about 20wpm. I still have the RSGB morse generator I assembled somewhere. This got me my G0 which I have kept ever since although lack of CW use has caused my morse to atrophy almost completely. Nowadays I am only active with RAYNET.

As a side note my wife decided that she would like to join my interest and tried several times to pass the old two part licence exams. She got the licensing conditions but just couldn't get her head around the technical exam so that went into abeyance until the new three stage licence came into being. All on her own, well using the the club's tutoring system, she gained first her M6 beginner and then her 2E0 intermediate licences. I was very proud of her as it wasn't easy for her at all.

However, her target has always been to take up my old G6 callsign so she is now taking a distance learning course for the full licence. She knew it would be difficult but it really has been a strain. The course notes said that most students hit a "brick wall" at about week 6 - she hit hers at week 3 she says! She's up to about week 6 or 7 on the course and this is the reason that we didn't go for a two week tour round Europe again this year as she needed all the time to work on the course. I help her when I can but, of course, it's like teaching your wife to drive - you shoujldn't!. There has been many a hot word spoken over this...

As far as equipment goes, mine is very limited as I haven't really got into HF, preferring VHF and above even when I gained my class A licence. I've had a Trio TS9000 2m transciever for years which I still use. There was a 70cm convertor that came with it but that broke years ago and I've done nothing to fix it. I'm not even sure I know where it is! I also have a Trio TS430 which I used with a 2m convertor for contest use. It has been used for HF into a half G5RV when on holiday over 20 years ago. Disgracefully, it hasn't been out of its box practically since then.

I bought a pair of Icom IC02e and IC04e handies when they first came out and, when they just stopped working a few years ago, replaced that with a dual band handy that I can't remember the name or model of and can't fully control anyway. There are usual failed projects and constructional items together with a couple that actually worked but that just about sums me up.
 
Vipersan

Vipersan

Emmett Browns Ghost
Staff member
Messages
10,918
My Satellite Setup
IP9000HD +
TD110 Dish and TD88 Dish in Tandem
66°East to 60°West.
AZbox PrmHD + OpnbxS9HD + Skybox + DrHD F15
2x VboxII AZ-EL
2 m+ Alcoa PF + BSC421 C-Band lnbf...
+SS2/TwHnS2-3200 pci/TBS6925 pci
1.5 Fortec Star -Gbox - HtoH Ku/Ka/C
My Location
UK
Oh gosh, this will bring a number of people out of the woodwoork.

I have been interested in things electronic and electric since a very young lad when I experiemented to see what happened when I put a short length of wire across the bar of an electric fire; (a story I have told here before so search to find the result if you're interested).

Although interested at school in the sixties I never progressed even though I did go along to a meeting of the local radio club. This was stuffed with seeming nonagenerians so that didn't go anywhere. I had a brief fling of interest in the seventies but I got waylaid into motorsport which took up all my spare time and money - rallying is expensive and i reckon I could have bought a house with what I expended!

It was the early eighties when I became interested again following the CB craze. I decided that I would enter the RAE exams as an intellectual exercise for myself. I did this without any night school studying as I reckoned that I knew enough about the technical side of things and it would only be the rules and regs that I would have to swot up on. I took the exams and passed but then did nothing the pass slip for six months or more until I was persuaded by my wife-to-be to apply for a licence. I had also been along to a different, newer, radio club in the area which was full of young people my own age who had splintered away from the other club.

So I got a G6 licence, became more interested in radio and started VHF contesting. I had also joined RAYNET as I reckoned that it would be all to easy to be a solitary person stuck up in the attic talking to people elsewhere - and anyway it was a way of putting something into the community.

It was about the mid eigthies when I decided to take my morse test. Much hard work involved and I got myself up to about 20wpm. I still have the RSGB morse generator I assembled somewhere. This got me my G0 which I have kept ever since although lack of CW use has caused my morse to atrophy almost completely. Nowadays I am only active with RAYNET.

As a side note my wife decided that she would like to join my interest and tried several times to pass the old two part licence exams. She got the licensing conditions but just couldn't get her head around the technical exam so that went into abeyance until the new three stage licence came into being. All on her own, well using the the club's tutoring system, she gained first her M6 beginner and then her 2E0 intermediate licences. I was very proud of her as it wasn't easy for her at all.

However, her target has always been to take up my old G6 callsign so she is now taking a distance learning course for the full licence. She knew it would be difficult but it really has been a strain. The course notes said that most students hit a "brick wall" at about week 6 - she hit hers at week 3 she says! She's up to about week 6 or 7 on the course and this is the reason that we didn't go for a two week tour round Europe again this year as she needed all the time to work on the course. I help her when I can but, of course, it's like teaching your wife to drive - you shoujldn't!. There has been many a hot word spoken over this...

As far as equipment goes, mine is very limited as I haven't really got into HF, preferring VHF and above even when I gained my class A licence. I've had a Trio TS9000 2m transciever for years which I still use. There was a 70cm convertor that came with it but that broke years ago and I've done nothing to fix it. I'm not even sure I know where it is! I also have a Trio TS430 which I used with a 2m convertor for contest use. It has been used for HF into a half G5RV when on holiday over 20 years ago. Disgracefully, it hasn't been out of its box practically since then.

I bought a pair of Icom IC02e and IC04e handies when they first came out and, when they just stopped working a few years ago, replaced that with a dual band handy that I can't remember the name or model of and can't fully control anyway. There are usual failed projects and constructional items together with a couple that actually worked but that just about sums me up.
Nice resume Paul..
& Much Kudos to both of you ...
Sad I never took a callsign..
I often regret it ..and wonder how easy or hard it would be these days..
I suspect I'd have to it all over again ..and certainly morse is out of the question ..
This bloody MS makes intricate hand manoevers difficult at best..
Maybe one day I'll see you guys on the flip side..
Till then my QTH remains a receive only zone.
cest la vie

Really don't fancy going back to school to learn my ._ /_.../_._. /...
 
Last edited:
Vipersan

Vipersan

Emmett Browns Ghost
Staff member
Messages
10,918
My Satellite Setup
IP9000HD +
TD110 Dish and TD88 Dish in Tandem
66°East to 60°West.
AZbox PrmHD + OpnbxS9HD + Skybox + DrHD F15
2x VboxII AZ-EL
2 m+ Alcoa PF + BSC421 C-Band lnbf...
+SS2/TwHnS2-3200 pci/TBS6925 pci
1.5 Fortec Star -Gbox - HtoH Ku/Ka/C
My Location
UK
..A nice refresher ..or basic learning aid for morse ..on you tube ..
I tried to pre-empt the letters as they came up ..having not listened to morse in over 20 years ..and only got 4 letters wrong..
I guess it's the 'riding a bike thing'.....
 
Lazarus

Lazarus

Tout Rond Bon Oeuf
Staff member
Messages
26,020
My Satellite Setup
80cm Motorised.
Several small Dishes.
Much else.
My Location
North York Moors
Shame it has long since been abandoned for Class A Licencing purposes. Stood me in good stead when I did my RN Officer Training, though, as we had to learn it for "Flashing".

Using Lamps is still a reasonably secure means of short-range Comms!
 
PaulR

PaulR

Dazed and Confused Admin
Staff member
Messages
16,788
My Satellite Setup
-----------See sig-----------
My Location
Wirral, NW UK and Vaucluse, France.
Sadly, it took me more than just a few moments to decipher your morse VS! But you're right when I hear morse in old films or the like my mind starts trying (emphasis on the trying!) to decipher what's being said.
 
Vipersan

Vipersan

Emmett Browns Ghost
Staff member
Messages
10,918
My Satellite Setup
IP9000HD +
TD110 Dish and TD88 Dish in Tandem
66°East to 60°West.
AZbox PrmHD + OpnbxS9HD + Skybox + DrHD F15
2x VboxII AZ-EL
2 m+ Alcoa PF + BSC421 C-Band lnbf...
+SS2/TwHnS2-3200 pci/TBS6925 pci
1.5 Fortec Star -Gbox - HtoH Ku/Ka/C
My Location
UK
Shame it has long since been abandoned for Class A Licencing purposes. Stood me in good stead when I did my RN Officer Training, though, as we had to learn it for "Flashing".

Using Lamps is still a reasonably secure means of short-range Comms!
Ohhhh so sorely tempted G ...but you really need an impressive dongle for that ..not a lamp..
;)
 
Huevos

Huevos

Satellite Freak
Messages
5,994
My Satellite Setup
57E to 58W, C-band and Ku, DVB-S2, 4:2:2 and blindscan.
My Location
38.5ºN, 0.5ºW
Even though it's now a "Lifetime Licence", it still requires re-Validation every five years.
I didn't know that. In the document that came with the license it just says "you just need to revalidate your license on a timely basis", so it had timed out (2006). But it has let me validate online. And, no I don't have a reciprocal license.

Oh, and by the way, I might have a license but I'm not a wrinkly; I'm probably the youngest in this thread.
 
PaulR

PaulR

Dazed and Confused Admin
Staff member
Messages
16,788
My Satellite Setup
-----------See sig-----------
My Location
Wirral, NW UK and Vaucluse, France.
You don't have to be old to be wrinkly!
 
Vipersan

Vipersan

Emmett Browns Ghost
Staff member
Messages
10,918
My Satellite Setup
IP9000HD +
TD110 Dish and TD88 Dish in Tandem
66°East to 60°West.
AZbox PrmHD + OpnbxS9HD + Skybox + DrHD F15
2x VboxII AZ-EL
2 m+ Alcoa PF + BSC421 C-Band lnbf...
+SS2/TwHnS2-3200 pci/TBS6925 pci
1.5 Fortec Star -Gbox - HtoH Ku/Ka/C
My Location
UK
Oh well ..close but no cigar ..
Just took the RAE with an old online test.. ..
got 69% ..so looks like I failed ..
passmark unlike gcse ..is 75% ..
Not bad after 40 years I guess ..and no prep.
Got ALL the technical questions correct ..and failed on abbreviations ..and questions like
>>How many persons are required to be members of a club for a club station license to be issued by the FCC?
and
>>North American amateur stations are located in which ITU region?
>>Which of the following establishes grounding requirements for an amateur radio tower or antenna?

Not a clue ...
I'm not American ..and prolly regs and abbreviations have changed in 40 years..
Still there's hope but for now it's
... ---...
 
PaulR

PaulR

Dazed and Confused Admin
Staff member
Messages
16,788
My Satellite Setup
-----------See sig-----------
My Location
Wirral, NW UK and Vaucluse, France.
You're running before you can walk under the new regs. You're not allowed to go straight to the full exam - you're obliged to progress from foundation through intermediate before you can take the advanced test.

This causes a fair bit of heated debate amongst amateurs about the enforced path. Then there's the question of the profligate use of non-recyclable call signs whereby each person will have used up two of them before getting his/her advanced call sign.

Which, of course, brings up the question of why they can't be reused. There's the very limited reuse of call signs allowed to close family members but that's it at the moment. But why should they not be reusable after, say, a twenty year moratorium.

Just a thought...
 
Analoguesat

Analoguesat

Administrator
Staff member
Messages
48,240
Location
Scottish Borders
My Satellite Setup
TM 5402HD
Skybox F3
Sky+ UK.
My Location
Scottish Borders
I was a swl'er for many years before switching over to satellite. I had a motley collection of ramshackle long wire aerials that always collapsed in the winter when they iced up!

I got a good selection of countries qsl'd, and always got a thrill when the postie bought a letter from a far distant land.

I remember writing to Saudi Arabia in the early 1980's - must have been just after the Death of a Princess diplomatic incident. Well I didnt bother with trifles like an international crisis did I? When the reply arrived it was hand delivered by some Post Office investigator wanting to know why I was getting letters from Saudi! Mum wasnt happy about this as she answered the door - I was at school.

:-rofl2

:D
 
Piltdownpaul

Piltdownpaul

No.1 Spike Milligan Fan
Messages
2,007
My Satellite Setup
Skybox F3,Icecrypt S3500HDCCI, Technomate TM3000D,TM5400Ci Super, Samsung HD HDD Freesat Box,60cm dish for freesat, TD88 dish on a Skybox F3 57E to 45W.
My Location
South Leicestershire (Fleckney)
I started in the AM cb days ,progressed onto FM cb, and then into SSB cb. I remember getting a rollicking from the next door neighbour once when i'd been messing about on AM with my thunderpole base aerial right next to his hi-fi speakers in his lounge. I still repair and modify the old multiband cbs, hygains, concordes etc. Then i got into swl with a long wire going completely round the loft twice which worked surprisingly well. Ive still got a yaesu for that and the long wire is still operational. And finally i got into Band 1 tv dx, that was probably the most exciting time watching stuff coming in on sporadic e or F2 in the winter.
 
purplemarina

purplemarina

Specialist Contributor
Messages
382
My Satellite Setup
3x 1.2m motorised channelmasters .tm6800x2,tm6900 tm 5302,tm6902, tbs 6925 pcie tv tuner. . hdsm usb plus meter.
My Location
hampshire uk.
I was introduced to cb through the haulage industry in which i worked at the time, the social life was great and that feeling of doing something naughty which not many people knew about. i remember a list of code names for meeting places usually late night burgher vans or quiet pubs, going to private garages to buy new equipment on recomendation of others usually at night. then there was the "10 codes" good buddy. i had a brush with the law and got a rig confiscated although no further action was taken. i went on a convoy/demo to central london where we clogged the roads up trying to get cb legalised. by this time cb was widely known about and some of the sparkle had worn of for me, at the time it was made legal i had lost interest and never got an fm rig. years later i got a job where i had to use a westminster mobile radio made by pye i think, my cb skills gave me a headstart over others on the course. i got into satellite when a friend gave me his old s*y analogue box and dish to play with and it went on from there.
 
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