My Amateur Radio life story.

My name is Alan and it's quite amazing that I survived the vagaries of the World from a young age. Apparently (according to my father) I shoved my first pair of pliers into the mains, at the age of three. I don't remember it, so there can't have been much of a bang!

I built my first crystal set when I was seven and that's probably what got me hooked on radio communications. Then there were the visits to Great Bookham where 'uncle' Ralph, G3NDF lived. He had started off with a small shack in a spare bedroom and eventually moved into a purpose built wooden outbuilding which housed home-brew transmitters and a Halicrafters communications receiver. I well remember hearing the bleeps from Sputnik 1, the first satellite in space and of course, other Radio Hams talking to each other.

Ralph built me a valve driven TRF receiver so that I could listen to 'short wave' transmissions. A long wire out of the window and there was the (radio) World. I got married and eventually moved from London to Newhaven. The 'pull' of Amateur Radio was still very strong and I soon wanted to get on the air myself, so I enrolled in evening classes to be ready for the City and Guilds Radio Amateurs Exam (RAE). I passed the (2 part) exam in 1976 and was issued with the callsign G8LGQ which entitled me to transmit on VHF and upwards. I started off with a cubical quad beam on 2 metres and graduated to a crossed 8 element Jaybeam yagi, running circular polarisation, which proved very efficient and helped me to work stations all over Europe. Of course a 4CX250B linear amplifier helped a bit as well!

I joined the Mid-Sussex Amateur Radio Society (MSARS) and met some truly dedicated hams, including the well respected Louis Varney, G5RV. In fact Louis donated me a Racal RA17 receiver, which were highly prized in those days and this helped me towards my next goal - to pass the Morse Code test, so that I could transmit on the HF bands. I took and passed the test at North Foreland (Broadstairs) radio station and was eventually issued with the callsign G4GNX in 1977. A long wire strung out across the road and attached to a neighbour's barge board and I was on the air on the HF bands. I actually rather enjoy CW and at one time was sending and receiving at over 40 WPM and had a regular weekly sked with a fellow Amateur in Australia on 20 metres. These days my CW speed isn't what it used to be, but you never forget it and I intend to get back to previous proficiency, but you gotta practice, practice, practice!

During my time at Newhaven I helped to found the Brighton & District Amateur Radio Society (BADARS) and became chairman for several years. BADARS was instrumental in running the Sussex Mobile Rally at Brighton Raceground and I was chairman of that committee.

To my shame I abandoned Amateur Radio in the 1990s, due to massive family problems and didn't return for 20 years! In the meantime I have moved to Shoreham and I bought a Yaesu FT8100 transceiver from a friend. The rig sat around for quite a while and one day it nearly fell off it's 'perch', which prompted me to connect it to an aerial and my fate was sealed - the radio bug has bitten again, with a vengeance!

I (re-)started by mounting a Diamond V50 collinear on a long pole, whilst I prepared to acquire a mast and put some metal in the sky. I was lucky to be able to buy an Altron telescopic mast from a fellow Amateur and was very pleased to have it transported home by members of the Sussex 4 x 4 Group. It took me a few weeks of hard graft to get the Altron safely erected and it now sports a 9 x 9 Tonna for 2 metres, a 19 element Tonna for 70cms and a Diamond V2000 triple band collinear. I was loaned a 1/2 size G5RV antenna for HF and I've now graduated to an OSCFD (Windom) which seems to be doing well.

I re-joined the RSGB and joined the Worthing and District Amateur Radio Club (WADARC) and I'm currently Vice-Chairman of the club. I could recount many more stories, but there just isn't the space here. My escapades with masts, poles, antenna installation and shack building are described elsewhere on these pages.

73 and good DX, Alan.