M1BWT History

I qualified as an Amateur Operator in 1997, after studying at the C&DARS Radio Club with a fellow operator and good friend Matt, M1BTF. We studied for what was the UK B class license, then allowing just VHF transmissions and above. Prior to this I'd had an ongoing interest in radio for many years, after getting a taster of CB at the age of 14. UK licensing changes have since upgraded my license to full class, allowing full HF operations.

Until recently I'd not been active on the air since 2000, but have recently rekindled my interest (and moved somewhere where I can erect an antenna!). Below is a bit of history of my operating to dateā€¦

Citizen Band

Often snubbed by amateurs, CB was the first step I took through to qualifying as a Ham radio operator. As a teenager before the Internet had spread, the possibility of chatting for free from my bedroom to my mates was great. What started off with mag-mounts on a tin tray wedged in the gutter soon spread to 20 foot verticals mounted to the side of the house.

I had started off with a new handheld (a brick by today's measures), and was instantly hooked by chances of global communication! Many second hand rigs followed, plus all those CB bells and whistles such as reverb units, excessively long K-Tones and TVI inducing linears.

We'd also routinely ran fox hunts for the local Scout group (within which I was a PL), which was a great source of amusement.

Early Amateur Years

In parallel to our GCSE's (age 16), a local friend (Matt, M1BTF) and I studied for our UK B class Amateur Radio License, with the help of the Chesham & District Amateur Radio Club. We both passed and I soon purchased a new Alinco DJG5 2m/70cms handheld.

My interest grew from here, upgrading to an Alinco DR-150 mobile 2M rig (left).

VHF Contesting

What's left of the 13-ele

2M contesting station

During these early years of my ham operating career I'd concentrated on 2M, participating in various contests with M1BTF. I was very lucky to have some forgiving parents and neighbours, allowing us to erect any number of VHF aerials at that time, where I would take part in various 2M contests.

Our typical contest station (left) consisted of two stacked 11 element 2m Yagis, mounted to a 20ft scaffold pole attached to some heavy duty T+K brackets mounted to the side of my parents house. We guyed this to our neighbours caravan and some fence post!

M1BTF owned a 2m SSB rig and a heavy duty rotator, and we participated in 24 hour contests from the extension of my parents house. We did fairly well, aided by having a good elevation up in the Chiltern Hills about 40 miles west of London.

We had much fun playing aerials, and managed to destroy a few too (and almost M1BTF's car when using it to pull up a 13 ele 2m antenna on a 40ft pole)! We used to run JOTA (Jamboree on the Air Waves) for the local Scout group, where we managed to destroy the antenna above right by dropping it from a height!

Logging Software

My other big passion (and what is now my career) was software development, and I was keen to merge the two. I spent a lot of time over my A-Level years developing the 'Amateur Radio Logging Utility (AMV1)' - software for Windows designed to aid contact logging for the home station.

This was a great way for me to hone my software development skills whilst making something actually useful to others - I released the software for free download back in 1999, and I still get people registering it 12 years later!

Full details and downloads of this product can be found here.

Southampton University RC (G3KMI)

Home-made external access point

At Southampton University, UK, I was the president of their Amateur Radio Society (G3KMI/G8KMI). Unfortunately it had been suffering from lack of interest for a number of years and there were only a few members during my time there.

I was barely active on Amateur Radio at the time, as due to my Software Engineering degree, I was much more interested in Wireless LAN communications.

I'm glad to see that recently the club has been reborn and the new members are bringing it back to life - more details on their new Club Website.

Whilst at University I was one of the founding members of the Southampton Open Wireless Network (SOWN), where we custom built intelligent access points mounted to antennas and bolted to the side of students houses.

I additionally wrote some software, named Transparent Mobile IP (TMip), to help routing traffic across the network without having any logic built into the devices themselves.

The software provided a very nifty way to route data by building intelligence into the network itself - full details and downloads of the code can be found here.

Recent Years

After leaving University I moved to London to embark on my Software Engineering career. Due to living in shared houses in central London, this put a halt to my Amateur Radio hobby for many years.

However, I've recently rekindled my interest in this hobby and set myself up with a HF station. I'm also learning Morse code and hope to be much more active over the years to come!

m1bwt/history.txt · Last modified: 2012/01/20 18:51 by simon
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