banner

Transmission Lines

The page about my Ham Radio interests.

The home page of G8GJC

Amateur Radio (ham radio) is a popular hobby and service that brings people, electronics and communication together. People use ham radio to talk across town, around the world, or even into space, all without the Internet or cell phones. It's fun, social, educational, and can be a lifeline during times of need.

I obtained my first licence in 1974, and set up my 'shack' in a shed at the bottom of the gaden. I enjoyed talking to other amateurs and experimenting with machine-code transmission (using a modified Creed teleprinter). Back then we ensured we were on frequency with cristal control, and enjoyed the soft glow of valves; transistors and small-scale integration suggested the future.

Having returned to the service a few years ago I have found an entirly different landscape. Software-defined radio has usurped the old technology; digital modes allow entirely different forms of communication, and amateurs have their own satellites. The down-side is the almost uncontrolled radio-frequency interferrence from modern, badly-constructed, home products: still, just another challenge I guess!

I enjoy operating at low-power levels - seeing how far a few Watts will take me. I also enjoy the new, comuter-driven, machine-code methods of operation although I'm definitly still learning. The High Frequency (HF) bands are rather 'dead' at the moment (sunspot cycle events being the principal cause of this) so there is much to be said for the digital modes. Contacts have been made around the world with a technology called D-Star.

What is Amateur Radio?

Amateur radio is a popular technical hobby and volunteer public service that uses designated radio frequencies for non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communications. Amateur Radio is the only hobby governed by international treaty.

Once licensed, you can set up a ham radio station anywhere! In a field, at a club station, or at home.

Amateur Radio operators get involved for many reasons, but all have to demonstrate a level of competence in both the theory and practice of radio station technology and operation. In the UK licenses are issued by OFCOM and the examinations are managed by the Radio Society of Great Britain on behalf of OFCOM. The examinations are incremental in their testing of a candidate's skill set, ranging from Foundation through Intermediate to Advanced. A licence permits operation at defined maximum power ratings on radio frequencies known as the "Amateur Bands." These bands are radio frequencies allocated by International agreement for use by ham radio operators.

Band range from medium to microwave frequencies.

Radio amateurs make use of their frequencies in a number of ways: Contacting people all over the world, competing in international competitions, technical experimentation, communication through amateur space satellites, and providing communications at times of emergencies.

What sort of people become radio amateurs?

Amateur Radio is the original high technology “social network”. Today it is regarded as a “broad church” and numbers in its ranks royalty, pop stars, public figures, the retired, school children and those at work or unemployed.

Whatever your interest in radio communications, you will find others sharing that interest — from “geeky” experimenters to those just interested in communicating by radio. So as a radio amateur, you simply do not know who you might talk to “over the air”. Using call signs as identifiers, there is no status on the air, and you talk, equal to equal, to everyone you contact.

Antennas – a Primer

If you are going to a be a radio amateur you'll need an antenna, otherwise it is going to be a very quiet and lonely hobby indeed! The antenna is perhaps the most crucial element in any radio station. If your antenna isn't efficient it doesn't matter what radio you hook up to the other end. Yet antennas do not need to be large and expensive to perform well.

Typical UK gardens are not usually very large, and the visual impact of the antenna often needs to be considered. This limits the size and type of any antenna that you can erect. But don't worry, simple antennas can still be very effective and let you make good contacts around the world when conditions are right.

The Radio Shack

My Original Radio Shack

Once Upon a Time
Long, long ago, when
Time was slow:
Tea was made.
In chipped enamel pots
And lots of musty magazines
Grew into a precious pile
That made me smile.

Radio Antenna

Radio Antenna

Up against the house, so rare,
Not a horse or rat or bear,
But a friendlier array
Stays with me from day to day
And it climbs
Into the air
Sending signals
Everywhere

Amateur Radio

My current station

We are known as Hams, indeed:
Bread and ham is
All we need.
Poor of purse
And sole of manner,
Tinkering with a tiny spanner.
(C) 2013

Ho Ho Ho

Did you hear about the two antennae that got married? The wedding was nothing to write home about, but the reception was fantastic.


Question

George Washington and his father used Morse code! When young George chopped down the cherry tree his father asked "Who di-dit?" and George replied "I di-dit da-dah"