Thursday, 30 April 2015

Dah-di-dah-dit, dah-dah-di-dah

    This morning, a big brown envelope from the postman. Inside, from the UK radio regulator OFCOM, a reissue of my amateur radio licence that I let lapse in the '90s. And there I was protesting about not regressing into my childhood!
    It's interesting, coming back to something I last looked at twenty years ago. I'm doing it for very different reasons to my teenaged radio hobby, this time it's because my local hackspace has some radio amateurs and I want to join in.
    A lot has changed in the world of amateur radio since the 1990s. Gone are morse tests to use shortwave bands, and we have a whole load of new frequencies to use. My licence is now a "full" licence and my callsign is now nearly 30 years old, enough to be considered venerable.
    And I've changed too, in more ways than the obvious. I tired of old gits yakking away at each other back then, and I'm not sure I want to venture back into that particular fray. Amateur radio can have rather an old-fashioned culture at times.
    So what am I going to do with it besides talk radio with the hackspace crowd? Probably what I always wanted to do back in the day but only achieved partial success at: build my own kit. There are still corners of amateur radio where you can push at the boundaries of what is possible, it's not all a slightly rarified version of CB for older men.
    All this has got me reaching for the soldering iron, see the picture. There's another thing that has changed since the 1990s, computerised circuit design tools that are easy to use!
    Building stuff though, it's an escape. The receiver prototype in the picture may one day emerge as a more polished design, but I don't really need it as I still have my trusty 1980s-vintage communication receiver. So why bother?
    You need something to keep yourself in touch with your worth.

14 comments:

  1. So jealous! I took my exams in 93 and only passed one of the 2 C&G's needed (taking the course during my GCSE year was, in hindsight, a bad idea!

    Have fun!
    Stace

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  2. IIRC I took mine the year after (in those days) O levels. True, exam overload might have been a bit much.

    There's nothing stopping you having another go!

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  3. Congratulations on getting licensed again. I have been at it for over 45 years and even longer if you count short and medium wave listening. Welcome back! 73 and 88,

    Stana

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    1. Thanks. A G7 isn't quite that old, but it's getting on a bit.
      IIRC your thing's data modes isn't it? Whole field in front of me, though I'm extremely interested to see we've got the 2200m band since I was last licenced. 1W erp and impractical wavelength make that a real constructor's challenge. So unless QRSS is your thing we may not work each other :)

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  4. Replies
    1. Best expressed as a statement of calling and an invitation to reply. So I might say "CQ DX", meaning "I am calling and hoping to receive a reply from a long distance away". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CQ_%28call%29

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  5. da da dit dit dit dit dit dit da da

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    1. Calie, I thought dada was an avant-garde art movement or am I in the wrong film?

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  6. Jenny, that picture reminds me of old times. I never build receivers only analogue synthesisers and other music equipment, the smell of solder would really take me back, have fun with the kit. Abi.

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    1. Blimey, I haven't touched an analogue synth in 25 years. Not a musician, see, but when I was a student I had a sideline in fixing them.

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    2. Ah Jenny I smiled at your “blimey” haven’t heard that in yonks. I only started to build synths because I couldn’t afford to buy one! I learnt lots in building them but had hardly any musical pleasure from playing because half the time I couldn’t get a peep out of them and the other half they kept drifting out of tune! Talk about frustrating! I still have my “constructions” sitting in the corner collecting dust. Now it’s all software and VST plugins. Of which I have finally the moog I always wanted. Do you know anyone with an EMS VCS3 going spare?
      Abi

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    3. 'fraid not, my analogue synth days are far behind me. Your meagre success with synths reminds me of some of my meagre successes with transmitters :)

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  7. When I saw the title I thought it was the theme tune to the Archers, I didn't realise I was entering into a different world!

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    1. Dah di-dah di-dah di-dah, dah di-dah di-dah dit. Dah, di-di-di-di-di-Dah....

      Yes, I can see how it might work :)*

      Non-Brits: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qpgr.

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