I have been interested in radio and electronics for as long as I can remember. I used to take things apart to see how they worked, still do sometimes. I made crystal sets, simple regen receivers (valves) and then modified Pye radio telephones for 2M and 70CMS. Now it’s SDR and trying to make the perfect lightweight antenna for HF portable.

I was licensed in 1971 as G8FRA getting on 2m with the  valve TX section which had been cut from an AM Pye Cambridge radio telephone. The output was said to be around 8W but was probably nearer 5W.

The RX was a Heathkit GR78 which I built from a kit. It had a copy of a Microwave Modules 2M converter bolted to the back. The 2M band was tuned from 4Mhz to 6Mhz on the receiver. It all worked well and the photo shows /P operations with the rig in the back of a Morris 1100 on Burton Dassett hills in South Warwickshire during a 2M contest in the 1970s.

The move to channelised FM came with a Pye Continental which was much like a boot mount Cambridge but with a YL1240 valve in the TX final. It produced about 25W which was high power then! There were 6 channels each requiring a crystal for TX and RX. I worked through the first repeater in Cambridge while /M one morning on the Warwick bypass. I was told repeaters were for local contacts and not DX!

In 2000 I passed the 5WPM Morse test and was licensed as M5FRA. I went for a 12WPM test, but the examiner never arrived, and the Morse requirement was scrapped a few days later. There is still some confusion about M5 calls and I have been asked when I will get a full license.  Morse has become a bit of a passion, wish I had learned it in 1971, it would have been much easier!