Amateur Radio Bits & Bobs

A brief introduction

Welcome…

To the ramblings of G7SYW. My name is Roger, I currently live near to the town of Honiton, in the county of Devon which is in the South-West of the UK. This is in Locator square IO80. The website is based around my hobby of amateur radio.

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.

After losing interest in amateur radio and other commitments taking over I took a break from the hobby and sold most of the equipment. My interest in ham radio has now been rekindled and I’m playing with my toys once again.

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.

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) with room for a purpose built shack in the garden.

About me

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 radio and most things electrical and electronic in general since about the age of nine or ten. I was always fascinated by listening to the foreign stations on a shortwave radio. I learnt a lot from watching a friend of my fathers’ fiddling about with various valves and components to bring “dead” radios back to life.

How I became interested in radio

It all began many years ago as I’ve always had a fascination for anything electrical and electronic.

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.

A friend of my fathers had a hobby of repairing radio and TV sets. I would often visit and watch in awe as he would replace valves and components nursing the equipment back to life.

He realised my burning desire to learn this magic that he performed. I was given a complete set of books with all manner of information regarding valves and the circuits that they were built into.

It’s regrettable that I mislaid these books many years ago as I’m sure they would have increased in value today. I read the books and tried my hand at repairing valve radios.

I didn’t touch the TV’s at first due to my lack of confidence around the very high voltage used for the picture tube.

When I was about 10 or 12 years old I would spend hours in my fathers shed just listening to the radio. In the evenings I could receive the foreign stations on a valve shortwave radio that I got working.

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 lead 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.

Cobra 148 with BRL200 linear ampQuite a lot of my work was with SSB radios as these were quite popular at the time, mostly the Cobra 148 GTL-DX. 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.

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 amateurs 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 I attended the local college and sat the exams.

Upon receiving the results I was pleased to learn I had passed both exams and was then able to apply for my licence.