If you already know all about amateur radio you can go straight to my page on qrz.com.
If not, here’s a brief description, courtesy of the Radio Society of Great Britain:
“Amateur radio is a popular technical hobby and volunteer public service that uses designated radio frequencies for
non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communications.
Amateur Radio is the only hobby governed by international treaty.”
Nothing to do with broadcasting!
It’s an incredibly diverse hobby which can include, amongst many other things: contacting people all over the world,
competing in international competitions, technical experimentation, communication through amateur space satellites and
providing communications at times of emergencies.
Earning a licence
Licences are issued by Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, to those who take courses and pass exams. In the UK there
are three levels of licence - Foundation, Intermediate and Full. This is how I progressed:
Foundation - M6HMK - October 2016
Intermediate - 2E0VMD - October 2017
Full - M0TMD - July 2018
I was ready for a challenge. After 5+ years of a frustratingly foggy brain due
to medical treatment, I decided that learning something new was in order to
help sort out the little grey cells. My husband has been fully licensed since
his teens, and is a radio astronomy professional. Our son is also licensed, so
this, along with having been brought up not to shy away from trying new
things, made me think I might have a go too. Having passed my Foundation
exam and enjoyed the process, I very quickly got the bug for operating and
suddenly understood what the “magic” was about - sending electromagnetic
waves into the atmosphere via a bit of wire in the back garden, in a field or up a hill and making contact with other amateurs,
potentially on the other side of the world, is just amazing! And not always easy. No two days are the same.
Having found my feet with lots of operating with my Foundation Licence, I
very much enjoyed the practicality of the Intermediate course and exam,
building and testing circuits and completing a project. When I started out I
didn’t dream I would get my Full Licence. A seed was sown by another YL
(Young Lady as opposed to OM, Old Man - there aren’t that many of us!) who
asked, as soon as I gained my Intermediate Licence, whether I was going to
go for my Full Licence. It took me aback, but, with encouragement at home
and a bit of forward planning, I enrolled on the excellent Bath Based
Advanced Distance Learning Course in January 2018 and studied very hard
for six months. Although I have a captive expert at home who was extremely
helpful when I needed him (of course!), the study was very much my own - it
would be me sitting the two hour exam after all! Much more a test of my
understanding of radio and electronics theory, I’m delighted that I passed my Advanced exam with merit, exceeding the score
I was aiming for. I now have the privileges of a Full Licence for life and will be able to operate from many foreign countries in
future, this being one of my motivations.
So what do I do?
I operate (usually speaking but sometimes sending data to other amateurs) from home, mostly using frequencies for long
distance contacts. The geography of where we live is not conducive to working short distances. For that I go out portable, up
a hill, and frequently take part in friendly contests. For these contests I often use antennas that I have built myself. I am a
member of the British Young Ladies Amateur Radio Association - a great group of people to be involved with.
There are many organised ways of making contacts and gaining awards. Some of my favourites are Summits On The Air (my
husband is on the management team for this scheme and is a very active mountain operator), World Wide Flora and Fauna
where people operate from nature reserves and national parks all over the world and Worked All Britain which encourages
contacts to be made in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands. I enjoy going out portable as an activator for
all three of these schemes and more.
Who knows what I’ll get up to next, but it’s such an amazing hobby there is always something new to learn and try out!
73 (Best wishes!)