Me and Amateur Radio (part two)
(If you missed part one you can read it here.)
In July 2005 we moved to the UK for some time as you probably already know :) Quite naturally it wasn’t possible for me to take the rig with me straight away (and we originally planned to stay here just for 2 months anyway…), but upon returning from our first visit back home in September I brought my rig with me. I installed a 40 metre dipole sloping from our flat on 11th floor to a nearby tree. I was able to make a couple of contacts on this aerial until the house manager noticed the aerial, made it a big issue and I had to take it down immediately. I was operating as M/OK1THA (M/ prefix meaning operation from a different country, M stands for England in this case).
Fortunately, we moved to a much nicer place soon – to a small bungalow near the riverside in Stourport-on-Severn. It has a small garden (and even a small pond :-), so there is some space for experimenting. It is actually on the same land as our lady boss’ house (she generously offered the rental to us), but fortunately she’s been very understanding to my antenna-building experiments so far.
The first reasonable aerial I put up was G5RV, a simple multi-band wire antenna designed by Louis Varney, G5RV who first described it in the November 1966 issue of RSGB Bulletin. Today, after more than 40 years, it is still very popular due to its simplicity and decent performance on multiple bands. The full size (102′, ie. 31.1 m) version works pretty well on all bands from 80 to 10 metres. I installed it on a glass fibre telescopic pole attached to a metal TV mast on the roof with the centre at about 10 metres over the roof. I attached the legs to a nearby tree and a wooden phone mast opposite to it. At this height, I was quite happy with its performance. I made a couple of hundreds of contacts mainly on lower bands (simply because I didn’t have much time to operate during the day and in winter, the higher bands are closed at night). One night the propagation on the 80 metre band (3.5 MHz) was so good that I was able to call CQ (general call) even with my 100 W and had about 20 North American stations come back to my call in an hour. What an incredible experience for me back then! :-)
As I become more active on the bands, I started thinking about applying for a UK call sign. Czech Republic takes part in the CEPT/HAREC agreement, so it is simply possible to get the local amateur radio license and call sign issued on the basis of HAREC certificate in many European countries. However, I needed to apply for a new Czech license first as it expired in September 2005. When the new one arrived, I immediately applied for a UK license and was issued a call sign MØWTF.
Shortly after receiving my new call sign I took part in my first big contest. Contests are amateur radio competitions taking place either locally or worldwide and are on for anything from couple of hours to two full days (48 hours). I took part in CQ World Wide DX Contest, SSB part, which belongs to one of the biggest events. Last year’s CQWW SSB started on Saturday 28 October at 0:00 GMT and ended on Sunday 29 October at 23:59. It is a world wide contest, so amateurs from around the globe take part in the contest at the same time. The goal is to make as many contacts (or QSOs as hams say) with other amateurs from as many different countries as possible. Anyway, I wasn’t taking the contest too seriously, I just wanted to try it so I spent only a couple of hours at my rig. I made 336 contacts with amateurs from 56 countries. It was a great fun, the bands were incredibly crowded all the time! Next time I’m going to take it more seriously and see how many contacts am I able to make.
This concludes the second part of the introduction – and there is still more to come :-)