Why are you here? Why is anybody here? If you’ve landed here then it’s probably because you’ve seen something I’ve written on Twitter, or perhaps we’ve just had a QSO and you’re being nosey – So, hello! I’m based in Chelmsford, Essex – just outside London and have had my “Ham” licence since 2001.
In the Shack, I use a Kenwood TS-590SG with an 80m Doublet, 20/15/10m Fan-Dipole and a 40m/30m 1/4-wave vertical. VHF/UHF is taken care of with a 6m 3ele yagi and a V-2000. On HF, I tend to use CW and datamodes such as JT/PSK/RTTY the most.
When the weather is good, the safe confines of the Shack are left as I venture outdoors to operate portable with either an Elecraft KX3 or an FT-857D. I typically use a 10m fishing-pole to support a Linked Dipole in an Inverted-V configuration. When /P, it’s a mixture of CW+SSB – either QRP with the KX3 or the full 100w with the FT-857D. I’ll usually call at 16-18wpm, which is my comfort-zone for a typical QSO – but will adjust my speed if requested. My enjoyment of CW when operating portable is improved by the KX3’s filtering which means I can zero-in on stations when there’s a lot of activity nearby.
There are a couple of locations in Chelmsford which are good for /P operation: Chignal St James (for a solo outing) is just a mile or so from me whilst Galleywood Common just to the south of Chelmsford is ideal for group activities and special-events. With zero-noise and a take-off of 85m ASL, Galleywood is a great place to try HF and VHF /P.
During the winter months, there’s an occasional Galleywood Gathering – a mostly social event but does include some radio if the WX isn’t too bad.
When not outside topping-up our tan, us Hams can be found hiding in the Shack pouring over our logs looking for the next DXCC to work. We love our logs, lists, charts and stats – and for this I have written a few logging programs: If you’re looking for an all-in-one logging and digimode application, you can download PZTLog (free) plus the more advanced PZTLog Pro. A more basic (and free) solution is uLog and there’s support for Android tablets by way of tabLog – this is used for my /P activities and can import into most other logging apps via ADIF. It even has its own Callsign/Name/QTH database (imported from PZTLog) so that information from previous QSOs can be auto-filled while you are in the field and away from the interwebs.
For some educational fun and demonstration purposes, my Morse Mouse program is a handy program to have at a club event.
It’s designed to demonstrate Morse Code to youngsters (and the young-at-heart) at events. By sending a series of letters in Morse Code, the program aims to encourage an interest in the mode through skill as well as memory.
A random letter is played in Morse Code and the user has to press the corresponding letter/key within a set time – The fun element is that each correct answer moves the Morse Mouse closer to the cheese, an incorrect guesses move it further away.
My interest in amateur radio started back in 1992 with lots of listening on HF+2m along with learning CW – and managing to catch the peak of solar-cycle 22. Originally intending to take the RAE in 1994, it wasn’t until I turned 20 that I got my “ticket” after passing what was then known as the City & Guilds RAE and the Morse test to get the old “Class A” licence.