I first became interested in radio at about the time I started work in the mid '70's. I started with a Tandy (Radio Shack in the USA) DX-160 receiver. This introduced me to the world of Amateur Radio (also known as Ham Radio) and in 1979 I became a member of the North Bristol Amateur Radio Club. The club helped me prepare for the Radio Amateurs Examination (RAE) which I took and passed in December 1979. By March 1980 I obtained my license and became the owner of the class B callsign G8WAX. This allowed me to operate on the VHF bands of 144MHz and above. To operate on the HF (short wave) bands for long distance communication I needed a Class A license which required a Morse code test at 12 words per minute.

By 1982/83 interest in Amateur Radio throughout the UK was high. This was possibly due to many people that had become attracted to radio communication following the introduction of Citizens Band radio to the UK in 1981.

In 1983 the South Bristol Amateur Radio Club (SBARC) started up at the Whitchurch Folk House to cater for radio enthusiasts in the South Bristol area as the existing radio clubs in Bristol were becoming overcrowded. It was about this time I started learning the Morse code. By 1985 I had passed the Morse code test at 12 wpm and I obtained my Class A license, call sign G0DRX.

Since that time the UK amateur radio license structure has changed. There are now three classes of license:

Foundation: This is the basic license that allows access to all frequeny bands from 1.8 MHz to 433 MHz (except 28MHz) with an output power up to 10 Watts. The SBARC run courses for the Foundation license.

Intermediate: This allows higher power with more privileges.

Full: This allows maximum power and all privileges.

It is also likely that the requirement for the Morse code test will be removed shortly.

A regular avtivity by members of the SBARC is the annual holiday on Lundy Island where we operate our radio equipment using a special callsign GB2BLE.

G0DRX QSL cardOne aspect of amateur radio is the exchange of cards between stations to confirm the contact. These cards are known as QSL cards. An example of my QSL card is shown here.

At the moment I am not very active on Amateur Radio, but when I am on, it's usually on the 70 cm, 2 metre or 6 metre bands. The main problem with HF is the larger antenna size required.

For further information about Amateur Radio, visit the web site of the Radio Society of Great Britain.

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