One of my hobbies is Amateur Radio, more commonly known perhaps as Ham Radio. This is not CB radio, to obtain a Ham licence you need to take a series of exams and tests with different exam levels for different classes of licence. I hold a UK class A licence which is the highest UK licence level, my call sign is G0NEF. This gives me access to shortwave, VHF, UHF and microwave bands at power levels up to 400watts. From my modest home shack (radio hams call their stations “shacks”), when band conditions are right I am able to directly contact hams in almost any country using no more power than a single electric light bulb.
A lot of the fun in ham radio comes from experimentation with different modes of communication as well as designing and constructing your own equipment. I have made my own transceivers, antennas and many other accessories. Learning how to make these really helped me understand electronics which helps me in my work.
I was first licensed in the 1980’s with the call sign G6ZQR at a time when many radio hams were experimenting with wireless data networks. Sending text messages and posting bulletins on message boards via home made packet radio stations using Z80 based computers with tiny memories, 56K was a lot! A lot of this pioneering ham radio technology went in to the internet of things that we all know and use today. Today many hams still have the ability to use “packet radio”, as while nowhere near as fast as the internet it can be used to pass text messages and forms across long distances in emergency situations where the internet and telephone systems may be out.
MB6IBK – This is the call sign of a special digital voice internet gateway that I run. The gateway operates on a frequency of 434.4875 MHz and provides users of digital radios with a way to connect to other radio hams all over the world via the internet. Please see the separate dedicated page for MB6IBK for more information.
RAYNET – I am a member of Berkshire Raynet. Raynet (Radio Amateurs Emergency Network) is a voluntary organisation of radio amateurs that can provide radio communications to the user services when needed. Most of what we do is about providing communications for the Red Cross, St John’s Ambulance or other similar organisations at events where simple walkie talkies are not good enough. So we often end up supporting marathons, long distance runs and walks providing a radio safety net. We use these events to practice message handling procedures and to test our equipment so that should we be called out to assist the police, fire service or any other government agencies in a real emergency we know how to operate and we know how our equipment will work. Back in 1990 our Raynet group was called out to support the military during an ambulance strike and the great storm of January 1990. Raynet are often used to assist during flooding and periods of bad weather.