Sunday, 13 October 2013

Where It All Began, Pt 1

I dont really know why i'm doing this post, but for some odd reason I feel the need to relate my history, my amateur radio journey, so to speak.  Its im sure nothing exceptional or remarkable, but its been part of my life since school and its whats ultimately led me to the career im now in. So for what its worth, while im not actually able to do any decent radio work due to shifts for the next couple of weeks, i'll tell my tale here,

Somewhere back in the dim and distant past, around the age of thirteenish, i'd got interested a bit in computers, back then these were 8 bit machines like the Electron and Commadore. I myself had a Sinclair Spectrum +3, 8bit and a whopping 128k of RAM, plus a mental 3inch 'floppy' drive that Sir Clive must have found being given away with far eastern cereals. I was introduced by a friends dad to a local computer club. This was held in a back room of the old Corporation Brewery Taps, in Doncaster. I didnt find it that enthralling to be honest. I'd already realised it was the nuts and bolts rather than the software that interested me.

Somehow, when trying to find electronic components, it had been suggested to me to go on a coach trip with a local amateur radio club to the big radio rally at Drayton Manor. I got permission to go on the trip, and pitched up at the appointed time  at a pick up spot near the supermarket in Edenthorpe. There were a few other people waiting. Particularly, there was a bearded chap and his wife and daughter. This was Eric, G0PAQ, his wife Janet, and daughter Samantha. Being a hormonal adolescent I of course instantly fancied Samantha, who was several years older than me, but it was her dad Eric that who was to start me on my journey into amateur radio.

The trip to Drayton was a real eye opener for me. All the components I could ever imagine, flea market stalls selling anything and everything radio. I bought a huge keyboard that I was convinced was full of goodies (it was just a load of scrap steel!), and half a £5 bag of LEDs for £2 (all I had left), which proved to be about a thousand 3mm LEDs! I also saw the big name stalls like Martin Lynch and Nevada,a dn the shiney new radios.

Now, I have to confess to not being entirely devoid of any hint of radio knowledge. I had a Saisho world band receiver, and listened late in the evening to all manor of stations of shortwave. I sent reception reports in, and got back QSL cards and schedules from the likes of Radio Helsinki, Radio Sofia etc. And there was always, from my bedroom window, the tantalising glimpse of the bizarre aerial at the end of the road! A huge, spider web of wires on a lattice tower, stood in someones back garden...

Following Drayton, Eric suggested I came to the club. This was Mexborough and District Amateur Radio Society. They met on friday evenings, and I could get a lift, along with Eric, from John Dennis, who was Erics fellow plant electrician at International Harvesters. I was told to be at Erics at about half six, if I remember, the following friday...

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