1964 to 1975QTH Guildford IO91RF
was always interested in electrical things, perhaps I inherited it from
my father, who built a very early broadcast receiver for his family in
about 1929. He related how they were all stunned by hearing voices
coming out of the "box"! I started with a crystal set (of
course!) and my father then bought me a HAC 2 valve short wave kit.
It was a regen design and I had to use headphones. I recall
building a valve audio amp from a design in Practical Wireless so I
could drive a loudspeaker. This was a success although it tended
to pick up the police (who were using the 98-108MHz band).
I well remember listening to the broadcast bands and hearing (for
example) the Voice of America relay at Thessaloniki, Moscow Radio,
Vatican radio and its interval signal
, and RAI Italy with its evocative bird chirping interval signal
. [Mechanically generated canary - unless you know different!]
And of course the BBC World Service
. Hear more interval signals at http://www.intervalsignals.net/
parents encouraged me to join the Guildford ARS. The members there were
very helpful and told me "you want to transmit, not just receive"!
I remember taking the RAE on
Friday 13 December 1963 with Phil, who became G3TCU. We had been close friends for
a while having both joined the Guildford club, and we both passed
despite the date! I was
licensed in April 1964 and started on 160m. I made my first
contact on 4m on 9 August 1964 (on
Some notable contacts on 4m from the past:-
|ZB2VHF||3 Jun 1968||cw|
|TF3EA||17 Jul 1971||cw|
|DK1PZ||7 Jul 1980||cross-band 4m cw to 10m ssb |
|OE8NTK||11 Jul 1980||cross-band 4m to 10m, 2 way ssb|
of the shack in about 1969 is shown here (photo from G3WBQ). Going
left to right there's a 300v PSU (EZ81 rectifier), a valve converter
for the 50MHz band, a homebrew 4m AM portable receiver sitting on top
of an ex PMR set (BCC or Pye?), a 450v PSU, and a LM14 wavemeter with what
looks like another PSU on top.
The lower photo shows my second 4m mixer-VFO rig and a National
NC200 receiver (a relation of the HRO but with all the coils on a
carriage that ran on rails inside).
On top of the log book is my first homebrew FET converter for 4m.
Before 1970 the rigs were crystal controlled, and the modes available were AM
and CW. QSOs were achieved by calling CQ and and tuning the band
then working cross-frequency. Everyone had crystals on different
frequencies to avoid QRM. I still have crystals for 70.26 and
70.65 - the band edge was 70.7 at that time. Here's a
recording taken on 10 April 1966 of Philip G3NEO
in Yorkshire calling CQ prior to working
me (in Guildford) on cw and you can hear him use the "QHL" code,
meaning tuning from the high end to the low end of the band. It's surprising that
we managed to work anyone at all! (Philip sadly passed away at the age of 95 on Thursday 29 June 2017.)
limitations at the time included a severe noise environment. Everyone
complains about noise from wall warts, computers and the like now, but
back then it was often car ignition interference (very little
suppression), boiler thermostats and plastic welding machines - and we had no noise blankers!
I was determined to overcome the
limitation of crystal control and built two mixer-VFO rigs, both using valves. The first
mixed a crystal oscillator on about 13.5MHz with a 4MHz VFO to
give 17.5 which was then multiplied by 4 to get to 70MHz. Perhaps
luckily, no-one got too bothered about spurious outputs, and I never
measured them! My second rig used a 33.33MHz crystal doubled to 66.66 and
mixed with a 3.4 to 4 MHz VFO. Once again I don't recall measuring the spectral
purity but there were several stations nearby who could receive me at
S9+40 and didn't complain. Part of the explanation might be that the rig only ran about 10W out.
My interest in propagation modes was partly triggered by the sporadic E
and partly by the aurora. Here's G3RLE
in Yorkshire as heard in
Guildford via the aurora on 1 November 1968, complete with plastic
welding QRM in two places (a very rough sounding signal which swept
through the band on a more or less regular basis).
On the same day here's GI3RXV
calling CQ and ending with "TLM" - ie tuning low to middle of the band. And GI3HCG
in Antrim working me in Guildford via the aurora.
We had some tropo contacts as well, and here's a snatch of GI3VPK/P
in County Down on 19 July 1968 working G3WBQ in Surrey.
Here's an edited recording (4MB file) of Pat G3TEY
(sadly now SK) operating the station of Roger G3OHH with an impressive
AM signal from Mow Cop in Staffordshire (237km, 148miles). The recording is of Pat talking to Brian G3THQ/M
in Chinnor, as received at Guildford on the 3 ele yagi at 30ft.
The date is unknown but probably 1967-1969 period. Received using
a homebrew valve converter (E88CC rf, EF95 mixer, osc on 34MHz x2, IF
2-3MHz) into a National NC200 receiver. Note the use of crystal
controlled rigs and separate transmit and receive frequencies.
Thanks go to Roger and to Brian for permission to publish it here.
of you using various WSJT modes to work stations on meteor scatter at
negative signal to noise ratios might be a bit envious of this - it's GB3GM
in Scotland by MS and the "ping" lasts over a minute! Notice the rapid fading at 5-10Hz. Talking of MS, here's G3SKR
testing what I believe was his high speed cw system for meteor scatter working. And here
it is slowed down to half speed.
Early on the band was only available to a few countries, notably Gibraltar, often heard by sporadic E. Here's
an early example of the ZB2VHF beacon
using A1 keying but seemingly
with a non-electronic keyer, judging by the slightly irregular length
of the dots and dashes.
Peter G3PLX tells me "The ZB2VHF keyer was indeed mechanical. I helped G3JVL to build it
during lunchtimes at Plessey West Leigh (Havant in Hampshire). It
consisted of a clock motor driving a disk of printed-circuit board
material around the edge of which were a series of holes
detected by an opto-coupler made by removing the can from a
Later on the engineering improved and the mode was changed to F1 - zb2vhf
The existence of sporadic E was very evident, because we were
sharing the band with the east European FM broadcast band 65.8 to 74MHz.
Here are some early Es recordings:-
on 70.04 and 70.88 on 11 Jun 1971. Likely location is Botev
(KN22), the highest peak in Stara Planina, 60kW. Language
Bulgarian. The programme is identified as Khorizont and
Khristo Botev (the latter named after the Bulgarian poet, revolutionary and national hero
) on 70.04 and 71.2 at 1750utc on 11 Jun 1971. Likely locations are Bucuresti (KN34) and Constanta (KN44), each 4kW. Bucharest 3
) Language Romanian. Brown Sugar
by the Rolling Stones with a commentary in Polish at 1700-1830utc on 24
May 1971 on 72MHz. Likely location is Opole (JO80).
A rare example of the playing of western music on communist radio. (The Sticky Fingers LP was issued on 23 April 1971.)A news programme
in Russian (probably the All Union Radio 1st programme) announcing a
new formation of the Czech communist party after the Soviet occupation
of Czechoslovakia in 1968. (And you can hear the print-through of
the time signal on my old
reel to reel tape!)
and an announcement and a play on Polski Radio
in Polish. It refers to Lucjan Kydrynski's (well known Polish radio
personality) "Revue of the Songs" radio show and then starts with a radio
play titled "Rash - or - Lafaindre Rasputin".
am very grateful to Walter OE1WEB for identifying the languages and
providing further information on the above OIRT broadcasts. Walter built the OE3XLB beacon on 50.058MHz in JN87.
Interval signals and announcements for many broadcast stations can be found at http://www.intervalsignals.net/
Further details on the Polish broadcasts have been kindly provided by Arthur EI7GMB - many thanks!
Some more old recordings of European FM broadcasts heard on 4m:-
24 June 1968 - a Russian language program
referring to the "Egyptian Gazette" (mp3, 2min, 713kB)
? July 1968 - a Spanish TV
commercial (I think) on band 1 TV at 67.75MHz (mp3, 1min 13sec, 429kB)
? July 1968 - language unknown
maybe Spanish again, rather distorted due to large deviation, with the
music of Smetana's Vltava as background (mp3, 1min 37sec, 570kB)
13 July 1968 - Arabic-sounding music
on 70.86MHz (mp3, 1min 48sec, 848kB)
24 May 1971 - a longer recording
of the commentary in Polish about "Brown Sugar" (mp3, 1min 34sec, 743kB).
EI7GMB provides further explanation:-
This is part of a programme called
"My Tape Recorder", arranged to allow listeners to make direct
recordings, hence the announcement "seven minutes, seventeen
seconds" This was very popular because only a small amount of
western music was available on the market. The announcer says:-
"It was the
first track from a first side of a new album of The Rolling Stones. It
was released a month ago and its called "Sticky Fingers" which means
(title being translated to Polish by the program host) "Lepkie
Paluchy". This is their first recording in a year and half, not
counting a live recording of "Get Yer Ya-Yas Out!" which was recorded
during a tour of the United States but not including actually any new
songs. The current recording brings up 10 new tracks which were done at
the band's own recording studio and released by their own-brand record
company. While recording this album there were present 10 side
musicians, amongst them soloists such well-recognized as guitarist Ray
Coody, pianist Nicky Hopkins, and organist Billy Preston. Today I will
present to the audience 5 tracks which I regard as the most essential
ones, other ones you will be able to hear next Wednesday. (Here goes
program title in Polish "Mój Magnetofon) "My Tape Recorder". And in
very next moment the track called "Can't you hear me knocking?" which
means (again being translated to Polish) "Czy nie slyszysz jak pukam?".
Seven minutes, seventeen seconds."
?1971 - a longer version of the news programme in Russian
(see above) (mp3, 1min 35sec, 555kB)
11 June 1971 - a longer version of the Bucharest 2
programme above in Romanian (NB 10 sec gap at about 24 sec into recording) (mp3, 5min 10sec, 1.8MB)
There were also some peculiar noises to be heard, like this
one on 70.200 on 24 June 1968. It's clear that the entire sequence is a
set of polls by an interrogating transmitter and the responses from a
number of different interrogated transceivers, each of which has its
own random carrier frequency tolerance. This was probably
some kind of telemetry link, possibly similar to those still in
use today for monitoring voltages, currents, water levels, gas
flow rates, windspeeds, temperatures, etc. [Thanks to Peter
G3PLX for providing this analysis]. If you listen carefully
you can also hear G3JHM calling ZB2BO.
EI7GMB adds a recent note that he has heard exactly the same thing
whilst at locator KO13nd around 26MHz about the end of April 2011, most
likely from Russia.You can find more recordings here.
1976 to 1983QTH Fleet Hampshire IO91NG
By 1982 I had built a sideband transmitter using the digital third method -
it got a nice mention in RadCom (Technical Topics) of June 1982, but
was not exactly
Whilst at Fleet I started operating on 10, 6 and 4m participating in the 6/10m crossband activity with the USA and Canada.
3 ele for 6m, 5 ele for 4m and quarter wave ground plane for 10m, erected 21 Sept 1980.
Photo above shows the shack at Fleet with
(top, L to R) National NC200, third method transmitter, homebrew tunable IF.
(top shelf) 4m mixer VFO AM rig, various VHF converters.
(middle shelf) homebrew AM receiver, 4 channel audio mixer
(bottom shelf) LM14 wavemeter, valve linear for 4m.
(far right) Daphne's dress-making dummy!
1983 to 2006QTH Bookham Surrey IO91TG
At Bookham I took much more interest in 6m. The UK Six Metre Group
had just been formed - I joined as member number 27.
was a very exciting time exemplified by working Australia, Guam, Hong Kong and
China. I eventually reached DXCC by working Japan - a fitting number 100!
In July 1986 I had an article published in RadCom on 6m transatlantic propagation by multi-hop Es. See the bottom of this page
all came to an abrupt halt on 25 January 1990 when a hurricane (well
storm force wind anyway) left me with a radio-astronomy antenna.
The damaged antenna was a 5 ele MET for 6m, and was replaced by
antenna shown below.
In February 1999 I wrote an article on Doppler analysis of 6m signals
during the Leonids meteor shower which was published in Six News.
Six News of October 2003 published my paper on measurements of auroral doppler shifts.
Bookham shack with (L-R) Acom 1000, IC730, IC575, homebrew keyer, laptop, Yaesu FRG8800. Antenna is 5 ele M2
2006 to 2007QTH Bedchester Dorset IO80VW
move away from Surrey necessitated a change to the station and I
was encouraged to return to 4m. I
decided that my previous homebrew transverter was not up to the task
and so I built the OZ2M transverter
and 25W PA described on the
equipment page. I then designed
and built a 100W 4m PA using a D1018UK dual MOSFET
too much operating from here, but did manage a few nice QSOs on 4m and
6m by Es.
2007 to dateQTH West Lydford Somerset IO81QC
interest in 4m continued and I built a 4m PA to the
design on the 4m website by GI0GDP
. This proved to be very
straightforward and is my current setup running 160W out. More details on the equipment page
purchased a Tennamast
standard 12m mast through Vine Antennas, now closed.
Vine provided very good advice and supervised the installation in
August 2009. The mast supported a 6 element DK7ZB design yagi
generously built and supplied free by Phil G3TCU. To this I added the 5
element M2 yagi.
In 2008 I bought a K3
kit. I was interested in
diversity reception so bought the K3 with its subreceiver and stereo outputs for
recordings (see diversity
In 2010 I started work on polarisation diversity on 6m,
making recordings of signals in both polarisations, using a vertical as
well as the 5 ele yagi, described on the antennas page
. This continued until 2015.
In 2011 I started looking into 23cm operation but it was not until 2012
that I built a serious system (see 23cm page
In August 2015 I started 2m operation with a 300W linear and a 9 ele Wimo which meant I had to remove the 6m vertical so no
further diversity recordings were made after that. My use of 2m was rather
casual and in 2016 I removed the yagi from the mast to allow an
improved system on 23cm.
In 2016 I initated operation of the GB3USK beacon on 23cm - details here
Other areas dabbled in include digital modes and QO-100 where I made a
few contacts in August 2019. I have built a 13cm system that can operate on
2400MHz for QO-100 as well as terrestrial - completed in 2020, with
the idea of portable operation which has been prevented by the corona
Latest interest has been looking into research on hearing meteors and aurora with an article published in Radcom March 2021.