What a sheltered life we led, back when I had just left school and gone out to work. All that discovering girls was a terrible distraction, plus actually having to go to work every day. Well, five days a week and hardly any holidays. I had no time for radio.
However, after nearly five years I started to think about amateur radio, still with top band in mind, and started back on broadcast DX listening. I bought a communications receiver, a Codar CR70A. People eulogise about that radio, but mine was not very good, and I have read about other amateurs / SWLs who were unlucky with their receiver.
I decided to get my RAE and be a thoroughly legal station on the radio. In 1974 I enrolled at Southend College for evening classes leading to the Radio Amateurs Examination, to be taken in May 1975. It was taken by G8GUO, Charlie. He was very good and I learned a lot from him. I have no idea what happened to him as he has disappeared, or changed his call sign, or something.
After a year of taking the train straight from work in London all the way to Southend Victoria, I took the RAE and passed. I have a copy of the May 1975 exam and am amazed how difficult it looks now. There was no multiple choice. We had to answer eight questions; two compulsory questions on licence conditions and six out of eight technical questions, the answers to be written with diagrams. The exam was three hours on the evening of Thursday 15th May 1975. And I passed!
I had thought I would take the Morse test, so waited for a while before applying for a licence. I did not make much progress in that direction, so in January 1976 I got the call sign G8LFJ. This was a Class B licence, two metres and up. I then got an FM rig for two metres with I think eight crystal channels, an IC21A. I put up a ten-element beam and after a while it dawned on me that I had the wrong polarisation for FM. I wanted to work more than eight channels too, so I bought a Belcom Liner 2 SSB VXO rig. This was in June 1977.
The first station I worked on 144 MHz SSB was SM7FJE. I thought this was fantastic. Of course, there was a tropo opening, I did have ten elements for my 10 watts out and (most significant) Bo, SM7FJE near Malmo had an EME array of multiple yagis. Just over an hour later I worked OZ5QF, and that is how I got the VHF DX bug.
A very interesting story, and great posting, about obtaining your ticket. I too had a ‘different’ path to getting my license because it seems I had to move to the wilderness of Alaska to motivated me.
Mine was a more circuitous route. Interested in Electronics since I was 6 years old – my great grandfather was the one who taught me how to solder connections together. He and my uncle were both engineers.
Then go into CB a few year later. But that faded. It wasn’t until 1992 that I happened to be in Radio Shack store and saw Gordon West’s book for the no-code Technician license. Bought it and studied a bit – found the testing site and took the test and passed. A very short time later I got the 5WPM Morse Code study guide – and it was a camping trip in July of that year where it rained the whole time. I had my walkman with me, along with paper and pen so I learned 5WPM Morse then and took the test for element 1A the next week. Then it was on to the General – 13WPM element 1B – had practiced on air for a bit and decided to step up the game. So took the theory and 1B exams at the same session. Passed both.
For my Advanced I went with the ARRL guide – that one dove deeper into the theory and I liked that. Really got an understanding of phase angles until a friend told me of the pattern to figure it out. Took my advanced test and passed.
And toward the end on 1992 I studied the Extra license pool plus kept upping my Morse code speed. So took the Extra theory and practice exams, and the element 1C exam. Been an Extra since 1993. Went through a few call signs – at first it was N1MPQ, then KD1NR, and I settled on KD1S.
Just caught your web page whilst browsing on the net here in the Philippines working on a project. Callsign G4YMC and the picture of the Liner 2 brought back memories of my first SSB contact into Germany on a Liner 2 and 2nd contact to G1HYG to another Liner 2. I know they had a reputation but the bands were good then and, if not played with, ran a cleaner 6 watts and I never had issues. I have 2 Liner 2’s in storage, may part with them in June this year when I come back. Both clean and one even has the matching PSU! I will test them on the air when back and relive my old shack days.