Hi from Allan (G1JXI) and Zina (Station Manager) and Dodge (Supervisor).
The present station is located in Cullompton, Mid Devon, UK. More locators etc to follow.
WAB Square: ST00
WAB Book Number: 19972
There are many restrictions at this QTH regarding antenna's, power output etc, so we are up against those issues that I have not had to be concerned about before. So that's challenging. But it also opens up potential for experimentation. It also makes me mindful of good friends that are in even more restricted situations.
(RSGB Centenary Photogragh). High resolution available online from the RSGB website.
I am in the second row back between the Major of Milton Keynes and the High Sheriff of Buckingham. Fairly central to the main door.
Jon (our son, RS 213738) is third row back, from the third lady on the left in the front row. Jacket and Tie.
Rich my bruv is the face to his right, slightly behind.
Shaun, to my right. Get in touch if you see this mate. It was a pleasure to meet you.
Yaesu FT102 (HF all band Multimode with FM board), Yaesu FT290R (2m Multimode), 2 x Tama T-1510-S, Icom IC-2E, Icom IC-4E, Various Beofeng and TYT Dual Band Handies, Major M360 (Multimode), Radiomobile 202 (FM), Wood and Douglas ATV-1 (70cm ATV Transmitter), Sony Camera, JVC Camera
Toa Base Microphone with new capsule adaptation and circuitry, Heil PR Base Microphone with injection shield, Sennheiser MD421 Microphone, Beyer Dynamic DT Headset / Mic
Soundcraft Spirit Folio Notepad Mixer, Drawmer LX20 Dual Expander Compressor, Fostex FD-4 Digital Recorder (for live pause) so to speak, Thatched Cottage Audio Patch Bays
Radio Shack Pro-2022, Radio Shack DX-394, Radio Shack Pro-43, Microwave Modules 23cm Converter
Watson Super Searcher
20/40m Loaded Dipole (Home Brew), End Fed (not so) Long Wire, 24 radials buried under the grass in the garden (no idea what the neighbours thought when I was on my hands and knees with a bread knife digging 24 x 6 inch channels into the lawn), 2m Slim Jim (Home Brew), 2m Co-linear, 10m Vertical (Home Brew), Top Band 160m Magnetic Loop 2m Diameter (Home Brew) not fully completed yet,
Various Barrells of (Home Brew)
100w Dummy Load Dry Air Cooled (Home Brew)
MFJ-948 Antenna Tuner, Joymatch wire tuner (Rx only)
Zetagi BV 130-P, CTE 737
Eagle 20A Power Supply, Skytronic 12A Power Supply, AS 11643 Bench Variable Power Supply, EP-603 Bench Variable Power Supply
Test / Service Equipment: Scope, Signal Generator, 2 x Hewlett Packard Universal Counters, Marconi, Marconi
Latest additions (June 2014): D-Star. Icom ID51-E, 70cms DVap Access Point,
I found myself developing an interest in radio communications at about the age of 8 like so many other people of that time, so I discovered later.
My first radio was an old style CB which came back from America, by lucky chance. I snapped it up. Took me a few weeks to save my pocket money and pay for it, mind.
Power Supply i.e. car battery came from a friends elder brother, (my mate over the road and I, eventually jointly bought his Ford Anglia, (probably where the battery came from), at about 14). The antenna was a length of wire hanging out of my bedroom window. No ground plane at this point. I had no idea what that was.
There was a lot of activity on CB at this time. Especially being in Watford Hertfordshire. But being 8 years old, I suppose we just took that for granted. It's more difficult now for newly licensed Operators around where we live. Rural ish Devon.
After demonstrating my lovely radio (Viking) to my best mate over the road, he managed to get hold of another CB, from another elder brother situation, and we used to talk before and after school every day. Much to the disapproval of my Dad. And the neighbour next door. Bless.
Some years later, I remember being on air and hearing her (the next door neighbour) out the back garden which was right below my bedroom window shouting (she always shouted anyway), "he's coming out the TV, he's coming out of the radio, he'll be coming out the taps soon".
But you know what. They never officially complained, just shouted about it.
Back to 1971. Next came the first upgrade. Found out about my poor radio getting hot under the collar because of my not so long wire and lack of ground plane / counterpoise. The answer. A DV27 mobile antenna. But with that came some good advise from the shop (Truck King, Watford) and my first antenna considerations. Ground Plane. Soon found a solution for that.
Untill my Mum asked me "where has the biscuit tin lid gone"? I couldn't just take the magmount off (couldn't afford one of those), we had to disassemble the hard work I'd done and return it , jagged edges included free of charge.
It was returned swiftly to me and I was back on the air. Also Mum got her new biscuit barrell, if I remember correctly. All positive stuff.
Was active on CB for a number of years, spoke to lots of people but apart from going along to some DF Hunts and some social stuff and encouraging as many as we could to get on air I'll have to think more about this era, and fill in the gaps later. I had a break from radio for a few years.
I remember doing lots of experiments with electricity. Not sure what my parents were more bothered about. The electricity or the Chemistry. Another great love and era.
When we bought the Ford Anglia, I remember fitting the CB and my mate and I sitting in the car up the garages talking to people on it. Couldn't drive the car on the road so we used to drive it up and down the garages to charge the battery. Another friend rented us the garage. It also became the camp. The garage was sub let to us from another friends elder brother. Handy things those, didnt have any brothers or sisters myself but I seemed to get on very well with my friends sibblings.
Big gap here involving lots of buying of stuff including Pye Cambridge, Westminster, Pocket Phones, and my fascination with "Junk" ie bits and pieces. Fill this bit in later. I'm on a run here. Forgive the editing or lack of it please.
Around 15 or 16 after a number of Saturday morning jobs and helping the milk man, I was thinking seriously about business and money. Somehow I managed to get a Lowe Electronics Card (they were based in Matlock, Derbyshire). I remember going up to visit my first Amateur Radio Emporium. This was a result of scanning the adverts over and over after buying my first copy of Practical Wireless. Great to see the magazine still going, they have been a great inspiration.
I bought a brand new Trio / Kenwood TR7800 FM only 2m radio, a Kenwood PS30 30A Power Supply which I thought would cope with future requirements along with all the mobile attachments, 7/8ths whip and gutter mount etc. I was driving then more or less properly.
Learnt something about directivity and beams, and acquired an 8 element X beam second hand from someone. Also bought my first "mast", 10ft steel scaffold pole from the back of the rag and bone man's wagon who used to come around regularly trading. Proper Horse and Cart. I strapped this to Mum's washing line post. It had two feeds for Vertical and Horizontal polarization and I rigged up a pully system so I could turn it from my bedroom window.
Dad wasn't too impressed but he preferred me on the radio rather than out on the motor bikes down the woods. It worked okay and I managed to get better signals from the London repeaters. GB3NL in Enfield, WL, and SL at Crystal Palace. It became obvious that the weakness in my system was the antenna setup. So back to the magazine and Lowe Electronics.
So shortly after this, arrived the 6 element Quad for 2m, AR40 Rotator, plenty of coax, aly pole, and up it went in the back garden strapped to the concrete washing line pole like the 8 ele which was passed on to someone else just getting going, but this time it was on an aly pole (didn't fancy the steel poles going through one of Dad's greenhouses). Or the neighbours.
This was at about 20 or so feet above ground.
Don't remember using guy lines for quite some time. I got complacent with the steel pole, and didn't appreciate just how much the aly 20 footer would sway around in the wind. Especially with the rotator and other bits attached. So guy lines were the next job.
I still did'nt have a license and I knew very little about amateur radio licensing procedure etc. It was like I hadn't filled in the dots. I was reading Practical Wireless but only the bits I was already interested in and talking to people of like mind.
Then portable operation became important. So back up to Lowe and bought a Trio TR2400 FM handheld. These two FM radios opened my mind with their potential. Pre Internet as such, I read some articles about expanding their functions. Carried out the procedures and it worked. Got me thinking about the CB's and trying to do more with those.I discovered the Motorola MC145109 etc PLL processors used in some of them.
Mobile setup was also going on at this time with the TR7800. Can't remember what the car was at this time. Had quite a few. Maybe someone will recognise the steering wheel. Perhaps the Hillman Avenger.
Thats Tiger, Mum's cat. Who later turned out to be very happy with heights and climbing DOWN as well as up. Proving that the old story is a myth.
My next Rig after money started coming in was again from Lowe Electronics (they were extremely helpful). It was a Trio TR-9150, or was it 9130?, which was a multimode 2m radio that came out after the TR-9000.
I bought my first decent soldering iron. I wanted to solder everything. After practicing a lot on my "junk" beautiful bits and pieces, I took on a few jobs with friends CB radios. The word got out and there was more arriving almost daily to have their k tones, base and power mic's wired and different freq' mod's done.
More importantly, apart from the formalities, the shack was coming together. The power supply was a great investment and made me realise the kind of power that I could be dealing with later.
I think it was then that I started taking this interest more seriously. Before it was fun and a very important social experience in my life, meeting interesting people.
I had been taking things apart for years. Getting them back together working was a challenge that came with the years I guess.
I started building things that I learnt about. Simple wave meters and radio sets as one does and started getting interested in building antennas, not least because they weren't cheap and yet made of simple materials.
I made a Slim Jim for 2m and by now I was aware of the other amateur bands. 70cms and Amateur TV was on the horizon. As well as 23cms and even perhaps Amateur Satelite. Is there no end to this interest. A serious re-think of the antenna installation was required. And I was going to have to move up to the roof and the end of the house. They were waiting for me not being used. What a waste.
The folks were renting a TV at the time and I got to know the engineer that worked for Redifusion. Peter Slade, lovely chap.
He was interested in what I was doing and had lots of experience with antenna erecting, although never done a job like I had in mind.
So the 6 ele quad was taken down from the garden and the Slim Jim went up in its place.
I'd bought a Pye Cambridge and Westminster so I made a simple 1/4 wave vertical for 4m (70mhz).
Also bought a 48 element beam for 70cm which was intended for Amateur TV, and while I was at it, some high gain TV and FM Radio antennas. Also a co-linear for 2m.
Installations moved around a bit but settled in a configuration that seemed to work well.
The roof and end of house installation got underway.
Near the end of the installation, I wentin doors for a break and a cup of tea. There was a knock on the door a short time afterwards. It was one of the neighbours.
I thought "hear we go, this was inevitable". They beconed me outside pointing up at the roof, further convincing me that a complaint was to ensue.
But no. They were pointing at the roof of a house 6 or 7 doors away. Then I saw what they were pointing at. Mum's cat Tiger. He had obviously climbed the ladder and was walking along the top of the roof of the row of houses. Great!
The antennas weren't exactly stealth, but I didn't need the extra attention. Enough people had already stopped on their way past and shouted comments. You can see by the pics that it was quite a built up area.
Tiger the cat, quite a bit later on, after exploring the whole length of roof, calmly walked back to our house, down the roof and back down the ladder.
He did this several times over the period. Taking pleasure in teasing us when it came to coming back down.
So the roof and end of house ended up in this configuration. With two rotators.
The Quad and Co-Linear went back into the garden. This time with guys and higher up on aly poles.
I considered putting this on the roof but decided against the idea.
The First Radio Shacks: Bedroom, Shed and then Loft at Parents.
At 16, other interests were happening in my life. Apart from Motor Bikes and Radios.
Girls, or rather a girl. This was when the radio shack moved from my bedroom to the shed.
The Shed Shack.
Creed 54E Teletype.
Got this working, decoding and printing.
The shed shack was great and made things a lot easier. People could come round at any time of day or night (mostly night) and spend time in the shack without disturbing the folks.
It got so busy at times with other radio operators and customers that the kitchen directly opposite the shed shack was sometimes used as a waiting room for people waiting to be seen. The shed wasn't that big.
I remember one of many times when Mum came into the kitchen to find someone she had never seen before sitting drinking tea waiting to be seen.
"Hello, you must be Mrs Thompson, Allan's Mum, nice to meet you, I'm the Vampire, I'm doing my RAE".
The Loft Shack
As a young lad, I had explored my parents loft with a torch many times and even slept up there on occassions. There was no light or boarding. Just your average semi detached loft. Good size though. And another positive was that the roof beams didn't go across the width. Just down diagonally in a V shape.
This was more wasted space at the folks house that had tremendous potential. Just calling to me to be utilized. But convincing my Dad was going to be another thing.
Cheap conversion for a mid teenager - (not recommended unless you know what you are doing)
Another thing I took for granted as a lad growing up where I did, was the fact that one could put the word out that something was required, and within a relatively short space of time, it would arrive on the doorstep. And now with radio, it expanded this principle many fold.
It started with when we changed a door in the house. It happened to be in the garden waiting for my Dad, who was extremely resourceful, to use it for something else. One of his projects. Normally garden and growing related. Or train sets. He had a massive train set mostly hand made buildings etc in one of the rooms. With the centre area free to walk around and get down and see the action. Hard to explain unless its seen and experienced. Scale was something I was brought up with.
There was an abundance of people that didn't feel comfortable with fiddling with their radios. Or Cordless Phones a bit later. With technology moving on, the world seemed like it was opening up, and we were at the forefront. Even
Starting Geno Electronics
Sue and Crystal Palace
Janet (RAE and The Trumpet)
YMCA Charity Fundraiser
Working at Dymar Electronics
John (G4IET) and the White Van
The Eyeball Cafe London
The Royal Wedding (Charles and Diana)
The Hole Northwood
Working at Assman Electron.
It became obvious that there was a need for a local meeting point. A club so people could get together and do the necessary.
There was already a couple of clubs running at the time. There was the Verulam Club (St Albans) and the Harrow Club. Both of which were active. There might have been more so forgive me and I wil fill in the details, as my memories come back.
Trouble was, various.Go into that later.
What people (and a lot of them) wanted, was something local that was open minded, fresh and open to new ideas. Something that someone could make their own stamp on as such.
Believe me, at the time, I was exposed to many amazing minds that were so intelligent and creative.
My mum made many many pots of tea. Believe me, she was glad to be rid of us, although she enjoyed the company of some amazing people. But it kept growing.
Finding the people necessary to make it happen..
(This was actually quite easy because it was obvious)
Having spent so much time talking to very qualified people on so many levels.
Getting the WRC committee together
Starting The Watford Radio Club (GB2WRC)
Affiliation to the RSGB and Ronald Broadbent (G3AAJ) Lots of respect there
Watford Show (Special event GB2WRC)
(Get in touch if you were one of the amzing people that took part in this and the Watford Radio Club)
Black and Whites of Watford Show
Losing Ken Blandchford (G6BKZ)
Full Disclosure (Tudor Arms) Sad Time but exciting
License High Wycombe (Culminating in G1JXI)
Break with Radio / Electronics (1987) ?
Radio Rally's Tiverton
Radio Rally Exeter (First new Rig for years)
Newly licensed friends
RSGB and Centenary Year
This was very significant. Made me pull things together.
Other Matters: Post and waiting for things to arrive. Ordering bits and where from.
Friends and their frustrations:
Training and getting a license. Something that is close to my heart. For me, and for those that I know well, and those I don't know yet, but I know you are out there.
The Future / Plans
Get involved with a local club.
Explore Data Modes more.
Get the workshop organised and get back into homebrew. Inc' Rasp Pi, Arduino etc.
Combining Radio with another interest camping, hammocks and hiking. Kite antennas.
Encourage repeater use and development. We need a local one badly.
Gallery - (to be organised)
20/40m loaded dipole construction (with Jon's help with the coils)
Our Dodge helped by supervising
He is particularly good at supervising portable expeditions
RSGB 100 Year Centenary
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