What is it all about and why do I enjoy it: goes back a long way to the first radio receiver I actually owned which was a Russian made Medium Wave broadcast receiver made from that horribly-delicate grey polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride, but it was amazing the things I could receive! It was purchased with an offer from one of Kelloggs breakfast cereals and I wonder if any readers remember this offer? Anyway I soon found out how to position it in my room to optimise reception as it only had a handful of Germanium transistors inside and a ferrite rod aerial.
I was always listening to Radio Luxembourg as was the rage and I must confess by now I had added an external 50 feet wire end fed to the “ext ae” socket, and at certain times towards dusk I used to hear strong interference from a Morse Code station, but I still could not decode the transmission! My grandmother used to bring her ancient school friend to stay each week and this lady used to work on the railway signalling systems at a time when they used Morse Code, so I asked “Aunt Mabel” to teach me the code! Her enormously infectious enthusiasm remains with me to this very day…..oh and the code transmission: it was shipping and weather information which was exciting then!
During school days I was a member of the CCF and had to lug around huge lead acid batteries, 19 and 62 sets with all the paraphernalia which was necessary to communicate. It was not long before I discovered the ACF/CCF Inter Command Radio Network where I could use the Morse I had learned. The hf tx was a WS Sender No 12 which was a four-man lift job, gave out 20 watts on a good day, and the VFO, if you moved your cup of tea it changed frequency! The matching R107 was not much better but at least we all had great fun and made many friends with whom we remain in contact to this day: some of my old pals Mike GD4BEG, Geoff G3XGC, Dave G3YXM, Alan G3WUW and many more.
Next came along a huge building session where I built most of the kit I used especially transmitters and amplifiers 🙂 I also found time to start what became the Northumbria Amateur Radio Club G4AAX which recently celebrated a 40th anniversary. Bill G4ADD, Jacques G4DGW, Ken G0KNW, Mike G3WTA. Sadly Roy G3UMJ another founder member is no longer with us.
Around this time I joined the BBC engineering department in London, and this is how I had the chance to operate G3GDT Ariel Radio Group station in NFD at Motspur Park. During my stay in London I met up with many fellow ex-CCF and amateur radio operators and we all helped set up a CCF section radio field day.
For a while after I returned to Newcastle I experimented with various end feds on 160 metres whilst still operating on all bands up to 10 metres. Someone introduced me to the system of radial earthing and wow did that get me into loads of bother. At the time we lived next door to a disused airfield which was fenced off with miles of wire: perfect to hook onto the end of my radial system. There was only one problem I had to get the “earth-wire” from the shack across a prized piece of grass aka lawn! I found the old phosphor-bronze door draught excluder was brilliant for earthing systems as it was one inch wide, very strong, and soldered like a dream. It was not easy cutting a 50 foot slice in that lawn without being found-out: I think it seriously strained the parent-son relationship forever!! When I eventually connected up to all that length of wire around the airfield, and after soldering up and proofing all the fence joints, my signal on Top Band became “useful”.
Whilst my main interest now was 160 Metres, at a G4AAX SSB Field Day event on top of Beacon Hill just outside LongHorsley I met David Beale G8DXB (later he got the call G4AXB) who introduced me to operation on 2 Metres: he used a Morse key as a foot switch for transmit which amused him enormously considering my liking for the code and he was somewhat lukewarm 🙂 I built up a couple of stations one base and one mobile for 2M: once again David’s enormously infectious enthusiasm for things VHF has remained with me and to this day my favourite bands are still 160M and 2M. Sadly David passed away in September 1989 at the age of 33: indeed I lost my very best friend.
After a few years at our local independent television station in Newcastle I moved to Aberdeen and joined Grampian Television. I lived in a couple of really magic places on farms way out in the wilds. First off was Womblehill where I ran initially Drake C line then I moved over to Icom series with homebrew amplifier (force cooled 813’s): dipole for 160M, beam for 20/15/10. I also tried experimenting with a helical vertical for 160M which consisted of an electrical half wave of 30 amp coated multi wound onto three lengths of 4 inch plastic drain pipe with a huge capacity hat on top. During erection I had a group of pals helping and I remember the assembly bent over into a complete U shape before becoming vertical but it didn’t break!! I had interesting transmit results: after burying a very large number of radials I managed to “torch” several versions of matching unit situated at the base! When it worked it seemed good on tx but hopeless on rx.
Next I moved to Tillybin only two miles away from my former cottage, but this time right on top of a hill with very nearly clear take-off so I installed Versatower, Inverted Vee (160M), Triband beam (20/15/10), 6 element Quad (2M), and 18 element Yagi (70cms).
I negotiated permission with the farmer to have access to the field next door where I built up a twin wire 1000 feet long 6 feet high steerable Beverage with remote tuning and this was my magic tool for 160M all the time…..of course there was other assistance…..kit was now Icom 751A with transverters for vhf/uhf and TenTec Titan Amplifier which was lethal for several reasons, but that is a story for a beer some time….and yes I also set fire to quite a number of things on that hill…..accidentally of course 😉
…..and that is a story to be continued
Why not listen to some of your favourite stations here
Important announcement April 2011: it seems our friends at shoutcast.com have altered their embedding widget which means until we find a good patch it is not possible to show the interface skin which we used until a few weeks ago……
Just type in the name of the station you want such as Caroline, Jazzfm, Magic, hit enter, click on tune in then enjoy…..no surprises I have set the default to “208″…..oh and I just found this announcement from an online archive:
“The legend is back ! RTL Group is using the DRM technology to re-launch Radio Luxembourg on 7145 kHz. New generation digital radio receivers featuring DRM/DAB/FM/AM now available from various manufacturers for a perfect tune in to Radio Luxembourg. RTL Group is actively supporting the digitalradioDR initiative.”
Has anyone heard them yet??