Background

First Steps

I first heard Ham Radio back in the late sixties and began listening more seriously as a SWL in the early 70s. However, as ‘O’ levels took over, my ham radio activity had to take a back seat. After exams I became more interested in general electronics as a hobby.

Since then, I dipped into the hobby by listening to the Ham bands for spells when I had the opportunity using high end domestic short radio radios. I almost took the RAE in 1998, but being self-employed at the time, that had to take a back seat too.

Early Days

For some unknown reason, in the late spring of 2006 I bought a Realistic HF receiver on eBay and threw up a long wire aerial, and started tuning around the HF bands again to see what was on the air. When I explained to my wife about Ham radio, she suggested that I should get a licence. I never thought too much more of it but after I attended a talk at the local amateur radio club here in Swindon, I decided to take the Foundation and Intermediate exams in September 2006 – on two consecutive nights. So by the end of September I found myself with a 2E0 licence and well, not really any kit..

In many ways I started off on the wrong foot as I will explain. One of the other obstacles for not getting my RAE in the early seventies was lack of funds for the hobby. I suppose like many teenagers, I gave top priority to saving to buy a car. There was little spare cash left to even contemplate building radio kit. It was quite similar in 2006, so I actually set out to get on air on a budget. Not advisable really – as it can lead to disappointment.