My Twitter profile says I’m a “Radio Amateur, Aviation Enthusiast, Real Ale fan, supporter of Stockport County and Cheadle Town Football Clubs.”
I can pin down my route in to amateur radio to 3 people, my cousin Alan Williams G6FGR, Uncle Jack Gratton G6ZEE (both sadly no longer with us) and long term friend & drinking partner Gary Bleads G0HJQ.
Alan was the first to introduce me to the delights of short wave listening spending many a pleasant evening listening to the HF bands with his now rather ancient Trio receiver. Stations such as Shannon Air Radio, Portishead Radio, Radio Moscow and Radio Tirana were all on an evenings schedule as were a host of amateurs on the 80 & 160 Metre bands. Alot of it being AM too as in those days SSB was a relatively new thing. Alan can also be held up as my route into VHF as later on, he acquired a very old, Trio again, crystal controlled (rock bound) 2 metre mobile rig. Again many an evening, well actually early morning was spent listening to Alan conversing with local amateurs fixed and mobile.
Next on the scene was my “Uncle Jack” who unbeknown to me was studying at a local college for his RAE which he passed. Whilst not an HF operator, he did spend many a happy hour or so on the VHF bands whilst at the same monitoring the HF bands with a Yaesu FT7700 receiver which later became mine when he passed away.
Then there came Gary. Not a school friend but we met around the bar of a local hostelry, The Arden Arms in Stockport I recall. Already licenced and after having many a conversation about radio, Gary challenged me to take the RAE (Radio Amateurs Exam) the deal being if I took the course and passed he would join CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) which I already was a member of. So, that was sealed then, a pass and new callsign G7IOR secured Gary fulfilled his part of the bargain.
Little did I know that Gary was also a member of Stockport Radio Society and soon he had me involved with some of their activities including a number of field day contests. The HF bug bit and I was enrolled on the next Morse course @ Avondale school led by Rik Whittaker G4WAU who was also my tutor for the RAE. After what seemed an age, I was ready for the test which was overseen by local amateurs Neville Paul G3AUB and Harold Froggatt G3HQH. Again a pass and papers confirming new callsign G0RXA dropped through the door shortly afterwards.
It was a while before I obtained suitable HF gear, but when I did it was a Yaesu FT890AT which attached to a W3DZZ trapped dipole has served me well over the years. Indeed it is still in use today although the antenna is now an “off centre fed dipole” for 10 through 40 metres cunningly fitted into an available space in the back garden.
Returning to the club theme, I don’t know how it happened but Gary managed to persuade me onto the committee of the society and not just that but Chairman. That was in 1996 and is a position I still hold to this day.
Whilst having a station at home, I do like portable operating and for a time took part in the RSGB series of Backpackers contests from various spots around the area, mostly Bowstones near Disley with a group of friends. The Barpackers Contest Group using the callsign M1BAR was made up of Gary G0HJQ, Dave M1ANT, Christine, M1SIM, Christopher M1WEB, Tony SWL and myself. Operating al fresco then laterly from Dave’s van we had a very interesting and successful time. The kit used varied from an FT290 Mk1 and 2 through a number of Trio (Kenwood) rigs finally using a Yaesu FT817.
More recently, operating for the club has been number 1 on the agenda and for a while was part of the G5O Contest Group formed from members of SRS interested in contesting. The club has a tradition of entering the various field day contests but there are members who wanted to progress and develop their skills by taking part in some of the world’s major contests. The group formed in 2006 and since then have been very successful with the station continually being developed and winning awards.