A brief introduction
To the ramblings of G7SYW. My name is Roger, often abbreviated to Rod, I currently live near to the town of Braintree, in the county of Essex which is in the South-East of the UK.
This is in Locator square IO81. The website is based around my hobby of amateur radio.
So, (Don’t you just hate it when people start a sentence with so?) I was born in North Essex in the early 1960’s. To some people that makes me ancient, to others, I’m still a spring chicken.
You make up your own mind where I fit between those two!
I’ve had a keen interest in amateur radio and most things electrical and electronic in general since about the age of four or five.
Even as far back as primary school I was playing with batteries, bulbs & bits of wire. I was also reading books about electricity and anything electrical.
My first real memory of radio was hearing the original Radio Caroline pirate station broadcasting from the ship just off the Essex coast.
Of course, as a child at the time I had no idea it was coming from aboard a ship, all I knew was it was something I liked.
I vividly remember the day Radio Caroline fell silent, being outside in the garden with my parents holding a bright red transistor radio, turning the tuning knob, desperately trying to find my favourite radio station, to no avail.
From those early times, I was always fascinated by listening to the different transmissions on radio.
I learnt a lot about the technical side of radio from watching a friend of my father.
He had a hobby of repairing radio and TV sets, fiddling about with various valves and components to bring “dead” items back into service.
I would often visit and watch in awe as he would nurse the equipment back to life. He realised my burning desire to learn this magic that he performed.
The gentleman gave me a complete set of books with all manner of information regarding valves and the circuits that they were built into.
I read the books and tried my hand at repairing valve radios.
It’s regrettable that I mislaid these books many years ago.
I didn’t touch the TV’s at first due to my lack of confidence around the very high voltages used for the picture tube.
Another, later, memory milestone was getting a picture on a TV after finding and replacing a failed valve.
As a teenager I would spend hours in my fathers shed just tuning around the bands, listening to the radio. In the evenings I could receive the foreign stations on a valve shortwave radio that I got working.
Hearing all those foreign stations really fascinated me, and I have fond memories of hearing the famous Radio Tirana Ident.
Hear it here:
My first antenna was just a simple length of wire strung from the shed up to the house guttering. I knew nothing of the relationship between radio frequencies and antenna lengths.
Nor did I know anything about propagation and the reasons why I could only hear those distant stations at night.
Along comes CB…
My first venture into the world of transmission, SWR and antenna resonance came in 1980. It was then I purchased an AM CB radio, all very illegal in the UK at the time.
In late 1981 the UK was given a legal CB system. This used FM and slightly different frequencies to the AM CB’s to prevent conversion of existing AM radios and reduce possibility of RF interference.
The use of CB in the UK became a bit of a “craze”. With this came users with low technical skills resulting in lots of radios having blown finals.
Blown reverse polarity protection diodes, these gained the nickname of wally diode, were a common fault also.
With the outlawing of the “old” AM and SSB radios CB shops wouldn’t repair them. With my interest in electronics this led me nicely into being the local “rig doctor”.
Repairing these “blown” radios for the local users encouraged me to learn more about the various circuits, how they worked and how they were interconnected and interacted with each other.
The biggest request was to modify them to give them extra channels to cover more of the 11M band.
Of course I used to use one myself along with Bremi BRL200 linear amp and an Avanti Sigma IV antenna.
I now have two Superstar 3900’s in the shack to “play” on the CB bands once again.
Read more about my thoughts on the 3900 here.
My introduction to amateur radio
In the early 90’s I had a Yaesu FT-290R to repair, it was after repairing it that I used it to listen to the local amateur radio users which inspired me to sit the exam to gain my licence.
I decided that my knowledge of radio circuits was sufficient but definitely lacked knowledge of operating procedures.
After a few weeks of home study of the operating procedures, I applied to a local college for a candidate number to sit the examinations.
After sitting and successfully passing the Radio Amateur Examinations (RAE) set by City & Guilds, OFCOM issued me with an amateur radio operating licence.
When the licence was issued I was allocated the callsign of G7SYW. I also currently hold the callsign of G7H for use in contests.
After losing interest in amateur radio and other commitments taking over I took a break from the hobby and sold most of the equipment.
New interest in ham radio
It was by pure chance that my QSL manager made contact to inform me that he had some QSL cards awaiting collection.
Upon receiving the cards, all from many years ago, my passion in the hobby began to re-ignite.
My interest in amateur radio has now been rekindled and I’m playing with my toys once again.
Because I had sold the majority of the equipment I previously owned, I’ve had to build the station up once again.
Having returned to the ham radio hobby just a few months ago, I now also find myself at a new QTH.
For the non-ham, QTH means location, this being the spare room for a shack.
QSL, QTH, QSO, Q-what?? – Q codes are used by radio amateurs as a shorthand method of conveying information – read about them here.
Here are my most recent QSO’s – every contact is added to the log at the end of the QSO.
Mobile and portable contacts are added as soon as practicable.