forecast introduction expeditions components kites antennas

magnetic loop skywire loop inverted vee variable vertical

kites: kite-portable

components: lightweight feeder lightweight inductor

expeditions: long mynd 2000 oban 2001


I became interested in radio communication in the late 1980s, when I would tune around the shortwave radio of my Sharp cassette deck. In those days, it was ‘Radio Moscow’, not ‘The Voice of Russia’. I later used a Selena Vega 215, which my parents had given me on some occasion.

In the autumn of 1989, I joined the Signals section of my school CCF (Combined Cadet Force). A year later, I became second in charge and was bitten by radio like Peter Parker by the spider: not knowing how the HF set worked, I plugged a counterpoise into the antenna socket and, as I was laying it out, a boy called Prodip pressed the transmit button; the tip of one of the legs gave me a painful RF burn which smelled of a lit match for weeks. Not long after that, I was active on HF and participating in my first radio competition on the ACF/CCF National Radio Network (NRN). (Our detachment had coincidentally received its letter of readmittance to the NRN on my birthday.)

More competitions followed, including one victory, before I left school in 1993. I had learned some knots and antenna theory. Morse code I had learned on the air, aided by the old geezer at Haberdashers’ Aske’s School. (I had not learned it well, sending before I could receive.) But the main thing I had learned was the mysterious thrill of throwing a wire into a tree and tuning in to the universe, not knowing what signal would come through next.

I passed the RAE (Radio Amateurs Examination) with a lad called Hywel Rees in the summer of 1994. That autumn, I returned to school to use the HF set for my first weekend of licensed amateur activity. A year later, I bought an Icom IC-706.

Sadly, much of amateur radio leaves me cold these days, as does modern life in general.

I still love HF radio at its simplest and most natural. My favourite signals are those that sound funky, for example local skywave signals arriving by groundwave or backscatter. The more mystery the better.