My Ham Shack - Your Shack. Pictures. Blogs. Projects.


2E0DRW - Kenneth Winton G. Wightman


2E0DRW
Kenneth Winton G. Wightman
Standard Class
2E0DRW Ham Since 2011
United Kingdom

View Profile
Viewed 4789 times

Pictures

View All 14 Pictures

Connections

View All 0 Connections

Request Connection

Information

Other Callsigns
M6KWG

My Ham Radio Interests
*Hi Folks!... I am based in England, and am new to Amateur Radio, so bear with me if the content of this page wanders off topic! I'd love to connect with other amateurs, so feel free comment or message me through the "add comment" link in the Station Blog section...

I wanted to get into electronics, Amateur Radio in particular, as a boy.

When I was nine, my father gave me a "Philips Electronic Engineer Model EE-8" kit as a Christmas present, enabling me to build simple electronic projects. I constructed a two transistor radio and would listen to Radio Luxembourg and the off-shore pirate station Radio Caroline, for hours on end, or until the large hard plastic ear phone became too uncomfortable to wear any longer...

Unfortunately the set got damaged a year or so later and family circumstances did not allow me to take my hobby any further...

Many years later (1989-1990) as a Shipboard Scientist aboard the Ocean Drilling Program ship "Joides Resolution", I found myself in the Marianas Basin, a few days sail out of Guam. Back then the internet was in it's infancy, and Radio was the primary means of communication from the ship. So it was while I was at sea that I first experienced Amateur Radio, and I talked on a ham radio to family in the UK, under supervision, through a "ham patch" in Portland, Oregon. I thought that was pretty neat the time, and I thought it would be interesting to take up the hobby one day....

Last summer I enquired about local courses, and in September 2011 I passed the "Foundation exam", and two months later the "Intermediate Exam". I plan to take the "Advanced exam" later this year.

I intend to operate across as many Amateur bands as possible, to get a "feel" for the hobby before spending any serious money on equipment. To get me started I purchased a Chinese VHF/UHF 4/5w handie, but found that it was not really adequate in my location in a village in Surrey. I have recently purchased a VHF/UHF mobile that offers 35/25w power output. I plan to construct a tri-band collinear antenna for base use.

I would like to own a vintage transceiver as I believe it would require more user input than a "works straight out of the box" unit... I would like to try morse code too...

Equipment
I am completely new to Amateur Radio, so I don't have much equipment - just enough to "get me on the air". As I slowly feel my way around the Vhf/Uhf bands I'll be keeping my eyes open for appropriate equipment to allow me to sample all the bands. So here is my small list: Wouxun kg-udv-1p; Alinco DR-605E; Philips PMR conversion to 2m; an old Icom 2m mobile, which does not appear to work. I have a couple of 2/70 mobile antenna and a 6/2/70 mobile, but am still trying to get the best advice on where and how to locate this on the aluminium hardtop of my old Land Rover...

The Alinco DR-605E was purchased last December to use as a base/mobile and I am gathering bits to construct a col-linear tri-band antenna (designed by Rick Frazier W7LPN), which I plan to mount high in a large oak tree next to my "shack" - so some time soon I should be able to get on the air more effectively...

I mentioned my Alinco purchase to another member at my local club, and his response reminded me of the "brand loyalties" we have all come across at some point in our lives...

In my former home across "The Pond" (the Atlantic) in Canada, my next door neighbour, Earl, drove a Chevrolet pick-up.

Earl swore by that truck, and one day when talking about trucks he said to me: "...No, I'd never buy a Ford!... They're a pile junk!!...".

Now the guy who lived on the other side of me, Roy, drove an old Ford Ranger truck, which he loved to bits:

"...Man!, I just love that truck!.." he said. "..I love it more than my missus, an' almost as much as my dog!".

"What about Chevies?" I asked.

"Nah!... I'd never buy a Chevy - they're rust heaps!" he exclaimed.

Anyway there I was, living in between these two characters, each loyal to their own brand of truck, and me driving around in a battered old Volkswagen. And here I am now, living in Surrey, England, and driving around in a scruffy 42 year-old Land Rover!

Getting back to the point, when I mentioned to that other club member that I had recently acquired an Alinco mobile, he said to me:

"...An Alinco!"
"...What did you go and buy one of those for?..." he continued.
"...You should have got yourself a Yaesu, I've had loads of Yaesus, and I'd never buy an Alinco! ...they're a pile of.."...

Sound familiar anyone?

Burst my bubble?

No. I've heard it all before.

Other Interests
I have a range of other interests and pastimes, from classic car and motorcycle restoration, to woodwork, geology, natural history and even public speaking! I have added a few anecdotes explaining how I became interested in these seemingly unrelated topics, which I have arranged into the following groups: "Practical, hands-on hobbies", "Professional and Academic", "Business" and "Other"....

PRACTICAL, HANDS-ON HOBBIES:

As a child I was witness to my father's domestic "DIY", and he didn't always take the time to consider issues of safety... consequently, when I was around three years old, I recall finding a box of electrical fittings in a spare bedroom, and thinking that the length of cable with the plug at the end was meant to go into the outlet in the wall under the bed, I pushed the plug into the socket...

BANG!!

I don't recall if I felt anything, but I was a little puzzled to find myself on the other side of the room when I opened my eyes!

On another occasion I found my father's brace and bit along with some wooden boards in the room where my mother played her piano. Now I knew that the brace and bit was supposed to make holes in bits of wood, and since the "Black and Decker Workmate" had not been invented, the obvious place to support the wooden board while I worked on it was the top of my Mother's piano stool.

Not only did I manage to successfully bore through the board, but I also went all the way through the piano stool. A pretty good job for a four year old I thought. I was finally given my own tool set when I was seven, although I was not overly impressed with the plastic hammer...

Despite my early mishaps, my childhood DIY adventures gave me the confidence to use my hands and provided me with a foundation for my later "hands-on" pastimes and hobbies...

MOTORCYCLES...

I have to confess that I am addicted to motorcycles, and can't get enough of them...

My first motorcycle as a teenager was a BSA. I had that Beesa’s engine in bits on a tray on my bedroom carpet at least twice! Ah yes, those were the days! They don't build 'em like that anymore! Do you know that the biggest selling motorcycle of all time was the Honda C90 (or "Cub" as it is called in some places)? They are said to be "bullet proof"...

I read somewhere that someone took a C90 to the roof of a six storey building and pushed it off. The tiny Honda's assailant then went out of the building, picked the C90 up, started it up and all but rode it away... Imagine doing that with a Harley - you'd need a ladder to get down into the crater...

When I was a teenager, as the Japanese motorcycles began to dominate the streets and racing circuits, the British motorcycle industry was in decline, and old British bikes ended up rotting in peoples’ back yards, or were thrown into canals (throw a Honda Cub into a canal, come back in 10 years and you can still ride it to work, according to Daily Telegraph columnist James May). Today, old British motorcycles are highly desired by collectors, with classic bikes such as the BSA Gold Star changing hands for considerable sums. It is rare to come across genuine “barn finds” for restoration, so when an 1952 BSA Star Twin “restoration project” was advertised locally, I just had to have it…

When I lived in Canada I had a 1981 Yamaha XV750SE, the first Japanese V twin. This model, apparently, stirred things up in the USA as it was seen as a potential threat to the domestic motorcycle industry - Harley Davidson. The result was legislation that saw higher import duties on machines over 700cc. Yamaha responded by producing 699cc and smaller V twins, and were soon followed by Honda and the other Japanese manufacturers. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it is said.

Motorcycling in Canada is strongly seasonal, limited to 4 or 5 months of the year, and most machines are purely recreational toys, so I could not justify having more than one machine. Insurance premiums on motorcycles in Canada are relatively high compared to the UK, another limiting factor on owning multiple bikes.

Anyway, I shipped my old Yamaha to the UK when I moved back in 2006, and still have it, but have never got around to registering it. Shortly after I arrived, and itching for a ride, I bought a Harley Davidson Sportster. I did not like the idea of using it on the salty UK roads in the winter, so bought a tiny Honda as a "winter hack".

I was lucky to have a good sized workshop on my property, so started buying older bikes to restore and sell to fund my biking hobby. The result is that I now have a number of bikes (mostly Japanese) from the 60s and 70s, ranging from a humble Honda C90 step-through, to a classic Suzuki GS850G tourer. I also have an East German MZ, it is sinfully ugly and smokey, but perfect for the Dragon Rally held in north Wales every winter!...

I recently bought a Honda Pan European for a tour to northern Norway (Nordkapp) I am planning to do with my daughter. Until recently my daughter too scared to get on the back of a bike with me, and I toyed with the idea of fitting a sidecar to the old GS850, but following a trip along the Dorset coast on the back of my Sportster, she is keen to do Scandinavia on a solo. The Sportster is too small to comfortably manage the 5,000 mile round trip 2-up with luggage, hence the Pan European...

AUTOMOBILIA - SIDECARS...

I grew up at a time when motorcycle and sidecar combinations were still considered to be a viable form of family transportation. My cub-scout leader and his missus had one. No helmet intercoms back then - just put the passenger in the sidecar and listen to the sweet burble of the engine...

It is quite rare to see sidecars on the road these days!... Pop along to the Ace Cafe (NW London on the A406) on one of their "Sidecar Saturdays" to see some weird and wonderful 3-wheeled creations - next one is May 31st 2012 - maybe I'll see you there!

Anyway, I have a 1938 Swallow coach-built double adult sidecar that I plan to mount on my 1952 BSA. The Swallow Sidecar Company had also ventured into manufacturing sports cars in 1932 which were marketed under the name "SS", an abbreviation of "Standard Swallow". In 1945 SS cars changed their name to Jaguar Cars Ltd. because of the negative connotations associated with the use of the letters SS in Nazi Germany...

Swallow Sidecars were taken over by the long established Watsonian Sidecar Company in 1956, and the company still manufactures sidecars today. I also have an early 1960s Watsonian Monza sidecar that In plan to mount on my Suzuki GS850G... I recently acquired a Czechoslovakian "Velorex" sidecar which would be an appropriate addition to my Eastern Bloc MZ motorcycle...

AUTOMOBILIA - OLD CARS...

I have always loved old cars, the smell, the rituals, the keys hanging from the ignition switch in the dash board. When I lived in Canada I shipped two old Austin FX4 London Taxis over from the UK, and hired them out at weekends for weddings – a lot of fun. I am currently restoring a 1966 Austin A35 ("Wallace and Grommit") van and have a 1956 Wolseley 4/44 and a 1955 Austin A30 for restoration.

My current run around is a 1970 Land Rover 109” Series 2A. It is noisy, smelly, slow, draughty, uncomfortable and it gets wet inside when it rains. It has everything that you would NOT want in a vehicle. But it has character and is fun to drive, especially in London and Surrey where every other vehicle on the road seems to be either a German saloon or a Japanese SUV piloted by some young mother driving her little darlings the 500 yards to school...

When the sun shines I either ride my Harley Davidson Sportster or drive my MGTF convertible...

PETROLIANA - VINTAGE GAS/PETROL PUMPS…

When I was an infant in my push chair, my mother wheeled me to a parade of shops to get some groceries. After she’d finished at the butcher’s and green-grocer’s, she pushed me across the road, and parked the stroller, with me in it, outside the baker's while she went into buy some bread. Back then Mothers often left their infants outside shops, unattended, and little children often walked to school on their own. A safer, simpler time...

After a few moments I turned my head to one side and that is when I first noticed it. A huge yellow monster was staring down at me. Below the yellow monster was an army of metal monsters with glowing heads. I was terrified and bawled my eyes out.

We didn’t have a car when I was an infant, so I had never seen the petrol station, the blazing yellow Shell sign, or the Avery-Hardoll army of petrol pumps and their illuminated globes before….

Anyway, I eventually overcame my fear and now collect and restore vintage gas/petrol pumps from the 1940s-1960s; I also have an early Godwin hand-crank pump (1920s)…

REGISTRATION NUMBERS - LICENCE PLATES:

When I was nineteen I bought my first car - a 1966 Triumph Herald convertible. A previous owner had put a "cherished" number (license) plate on the car - RWC 18. Unfortunately I wrecked the car in an accident and lost entitlement to the number, but had I managed to retain that number it would be worth about £3000 today. Registration numbers are big business in the UK where highly desirable numbers can fetch large sums. The number "JB 1", if it were to come onto the market, might sell for upwards of £40,000.

The history of British vehicle registration numbers is not particularly straightforward, but the main point I will make is that post-1963 numbers in the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) contain an age-identifying letter or pair of numbers, whereas pre-1963 number do not.

Registration numbers issued in Northern Ireland differ from the rest of the UK by their use of the letters "I" or "Z". For whatever reason, these plates can often be purchased inexpensively, sometimes for as little as £19.95 on ebay.

I have a couple of dateless UK registration numbers, but they are not especially valuable. As I write I am waiting for a new number plate to arrive for my Harley. It is a plate that I am transferring off and old moped, and it spells the word HOG. I will post a picture when it is on my bike...

When I lived in Nova Scotia I spent a lot of time in the Wilderness, so I had a personal plate made up for my truck, it read "WLDRNSS". You'll notice the vowels have been omitted because Nova Scotia licence plates have a maximum of seven characters... I still have that plate and it is attached to the back of my Land Rover...

My Austin "Black Cab" London taxis were once featured in a local newspaper. It was Victoria Day, a national holiday celebrating Queen Victoria's birthday. The journalist and I drove one of the taxis to Citadel Hill National Historic Site in Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia. I was asked if either of my Austins had a name. I thought for a minute, and said "...until today, no, but as we are celebrating Queen Victoria's birthday, I shall name the taxis Victoria, and Albert".

And so that is the story of how my pair of old Austin taxis acquired their names. I of course went and had a vanity plate made up for each of them: VCTORIA and ALBRT...

Obtaining a personal registration number or "Vanity Plate" in North America seems to be a little easier. As far as I am aware you simply apply to your Department of Motor Vehicles, pay a reasonable fee of maybe $100 give or take, tell them the numbers and letters you want, and assuming they are available, the plate is yours. In Nova Scotia you had to pay an extra $20 on your annual licence fee. Simples.

METALWORKING...

I mostly fabricate repair sections for my old cars - bulkheads, floor pans and other structural components, plus repair sections for outer body panels. I have arc and mig welding equipment, and have done a little wrought iron work. I also have an old American metal/engineering lathe that I am still learning to use. One day I would like to try my hand at metal casting...

WOODWORKING...

I have a reasonably well equipped woodworking workshop and have built lots of cabinets. I have done a little steam bending and inlay work. I have also built a few workshops/shacks/studios, mostly hiding places for men. No, seriously, a man needs his own space...

STAINED GLASS...

When I lived in Canada I took a course in American copper-foil (Tiffany style) stained glass under the instruction of Terry Smith-Lamothe, a Cajun ex-pat from Louisiana who lived in Nova Scotia. I have not done any in a while, but plan to resume the hobby with my older sister who works in the traditional European "lead came" method... I have to finish constructing her new studio beforehand!

PROFESSIONAL AND ACADEMIC INTERESTS:

Mention fossils, especially ones from the Jurassic and Cretaceous, and most people think of Dinosaurs, or maybe ammonites. Sure, you can see them in museums, perhaps even find some, and there have been some great movies made about dinosaurs, but the fossils I am interested in are barely visible, to the naked eye, if at all – microfossils. The study of tiny fossils is called micropalaeontology, and such fossils are used to date and correlate certain types of rock, and to determine the environmental and ecological conditions that existed when those rocks began to form…

As a student, I undertook geological mapping in the French Pyrenees, North Africa and much of Scotland and Wales as part of my B.Sc. (hons) in Geology, and did a stint in Cyprus where I undertook fieldwork for my M.Sc. in Micropalaeontology at University College London. Lured by the possibility of a career in petroleum and partially funded by Amoco Oil, I ended up at Dalhousie University, Canada, where I studied rocks from the Hibernia Oil Field for my Ph.D.

Millions of years ago before the Atlantic Ocean formed, the parts of the earth that were to become eastern Canada and western Europe were adjacent to one another. In simple terms, as the Atlantic Ocean began to "un-zip", conditions became right for the formation of oil-bearing rocks. The Atlantic widened as the continents drifted apart to where they are today, and rocks of oil-bearing potential are thus found in on both side of the North Atlantic in what are termed the North Atlantic "basins" - Canada's Hibernia Oil Field and the North Sea Oil Field are the classic examples.

The Canadian Government had an an obvious interest in rocks of a certain age and type in the Atlantic Basins of a number of European countries. And while a number of those countries were willing to share some of the geological information contained within those rocks, others were not.

To cut another long story short, the Canadian Government employed me to pose as a "tourist" and collect samples of rock from a certain country, and smuggle them back to Canada. So for two summers of my life I was an International Rock Smuggler. Perhaps not as glamorous as smuggling diamonds, certainly not as seedy as smuggling drugs, but maybe something in between...

I spent a lot of time shuffling around in a white lab coat, gazing down microscopes and publishing papers mostly about groups of microfossils referred to as "ostracoda" and “foraminifera”. I have also worked with fossil pollen, "nannofossils" (tiny plankton best seen with a scanning electron microscope) and fossilized fish ear-bones which are called "otoliths". I have been involved in various research projects in different places and through a broad range of the geological time:

Jurassic-Eocene: Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Leg 129 Western Pacific, Guam and Mariannas Basin http://www-odp.tamu.edu/publications/129_SR/VOLUME/CHAPTERS/sr129_12.pdf

Miocene-Pliocene: The Messinian Salinity Crisis "The Day The Mediterranean Dried Up".

Jurassic-Cretaceous of Atlantic Basins - Canada's Hibernia oil wells and Portugal.

Carboniferous (Westphalian) of the Gulf of St Lawrence basins.

After graduating from Dalhousie University I did a spell of teaching/lecturing at one of Nova Scotia's universities, and then went on to do a Post Doctoral-Fellowship, again at Dalhousie, funded in part by the Canadian Program for Energy Research and Development. That particular project involved fieldwork around the rugged shoreline of Cape Breton Island, and it was there that I came across the four abandoned antenna bases of the Marconi Station at Table Head, Glace Bay, Nova Scotia.

The Table Head Marconi station was built in 1902 and established trans-Atlantic communication between Nova Scotia and Poldhu in Cornwall. The 60kw transmitter was hooked up to four antenna that were mounted on 210-foot (64 m) towers. All that remains of the original station are the concrete bases, although it is now a Canadian National Historic Site, with a museum and short interpretive trail commemorating the importance of the site.

Inspired by what I had seen and learned at the Marconi site, I 'phoned the local amateur radio club in Halifax, NS, to enquire about courses - I left my details on their answering machine, but nobody got back to me. Shame - I could have had a "VE" call sign and perhaps even a "vanity" number (license) plate to match!

BUSINESS INTERESTS:

One summer, while between contracts, I did a bit of gold prospecting in the wilds of Nova Scotia. It was here that made the acquaintance of a number of other gold prospectors, most notably a colourful old character by the name of Edgar Horne.

Now Edgar was an "old school" prospector (I hate to use this term because it’s usage has become somewhat fashionable). Edgar knew nothing about the geological science behind the gold he mined, but he knew everything about how, and where, to find it. In contrast, I knew the geological science (well, some of it) behind the gold, but had little practical experience in finding it. Combining our resources seemed to have the potential for a successful joint venture, and to cut a long story short we developed a partnership - of sorts.

Without going into details, I set up a Limited Company specializing in educational ecological expeditions, and began to take adventurous travellers out to Edgar’s gold mine to learn the story behind the natural, geological and human history of gold prospecting and mining. Edgar devised a method by which he could get three times the market value per ounce of gold, I established a market for my knowledge and experience in natural history and earth science, and visitors went away with any gold they found - and a great time was had by all!...

In subsequent years I expanded the market for educational, experiential travel. Through my university connections, I assembled a team of earth scientists, biologists, botanists, ornithologists and historians and developed a series of programs that explored the landscapes, geology, natural and human history of Eastern Canada.

These programs, led by me and my associates, explored the coastal and inland wilderness by hiking, canoeing, kayaking and sailing, and pioneered the development of what became known as “Ecotourism” in Eastern Canada...

OTHER:

PUBLIC SPEAKING...

Yes it is true. I actually enjoy Public Speaking, but this was not always the case.

As a Graduate Student at Dalhousie University, Canada, I had to make a presentation about my planned field of research, a "Thesis Proposal", to the entire Department of Earth Sciences - professors, students, and anyone else who cared to watch someone squirm and suffer in front of an audience. My situation was not helped by the fact that my principle Thesis Advisor, a Dutchman, was a scientist attached to the Bedford Institute of Oceanography and only served as an "adjunct" professor at the university.

Unfortunately there was a deep-rooted and very unhealthy rivalry between my Thesis Advisor and a tenured professor in my department. This was compounded by the fact that when I had applied to undertake my Ph.D. at the university, both the adjunct and the tenured professor had made me tempting offers to be their graduate student. Of course I knew nothing of the bitter rivalry until a few days after I arrived in Canada, fresh from the UK...

The day of the Thesis proposal arrived and I stood behind the lectern, slides in the projector, ready to make my presentation. A sea of faces watched my every move. At one end of the front row of professors sat my thesis advisor, at the other end was his nemesis, and by virtue of my association with The Dutchman, he was my nemesis too...

After the longest forty minutes of my life I was subjected to an interrogation akin to the Spanish Inquisition - and this was only my thesis proposal!...

Anything and everything that could be bad about a public talk was evident in mine, but in retrospect I have seen many dreadful presentation made by some of the most eminent people in their fields, and the bottom line is that I got through it.

Determined to improve my presentation skills, I enrolled in an evening course in public speaking. I also listened carefully to what was probably the only sound piece of advice ever given to me by my thesis advisor, who said to me, "...listen, public speaking is simple... all you've got to do is tell 'em what you're going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them!". Wise words.

Three years later I had to present my Doctoral Thesis to a much larger audience that included an examining committee of four or five professors, including one who was flown in from England specifically for the task. The actual thesis presentation was timed to 45 minutes, and if you hadn't presented your research and results within that time frame then "tough", as they say.

Following the presentation was the actual "thesis defence" when each of the examiners would pose specific questions in turn. There were three or four rounds of questions, and the whole process took three or four hours. After the questions everyone except the examiners had to leave the auditorium - the examiners staying behind to debate and decide my fate...

To cut a long story short, I passed, was awarded my Doctorate, and went on to make many presentations on a variety of topics, not just science, to audiences of all sizes and backgrounds, from the ordinary to the specialist through my professional and business career...

So if you are looking for a speaker to fill in a date in your Club calendar, and you want that speaker to talk about some technical aspect of Amateur Radio, then do NOT ask me as I am just a beginner...

However, if you would like an entertaining, informative and at times passionate talk about earth science, geology, palaeontology, natural history or a maritime disaster that perhaps you've never of heard of before, then feel free to contact me...

GREEK LANGUAGE...

I have a cousin who lives on a Greek island, and she converts derelict buildings into lovely villas. She seems to like my work and would like me to work with her on a number of properties, so I am learning to speak Greek language in an adult education class...

NATURAL HISTORY AND ECOLOGY...

I'll complete this section in due course, so watch this space! -

NATURAL RESOURCES, HUMAN HISTORY AND CULTURE...

I will come back to this section at a later time...

VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE...

Nova Scotia, first colonized by the French in 1605, has some of the oldest surviving examples of wooden houses,churches and other buildings in North America. My interest in...to be continued!...

Clubs
Farnborough and District Radio Society, Farnborough, UK
Broolands Trust Club Member(motor museum)
The Vintage Motorcycle Club
Land Rover Series 2 club

2E0DRW's Ham Shack

 
Callsign 2E0DRW
Name Kenneth Winton G. Wightman
Country United Kingdom
License Class Standard
Been a Ham Since 2011
Joined 11/30/2011
Viewed 4788 times

2E0DRW has 0 connections
View Connections
Build your Ham Radio Connection Network!
Request Connection with 2E0DRW
2E0DRW
2E0DRW
 
Other/Previous Callsigns
M6KWG

My Ham Radio Interests
*Hi Folks!... I am based in England, and am new to Amateur Radio, so bear with me if the content of this page wanders off topic! I'd love to connect with other amateurs, so feel free comment or message me through the "add comment" link in the Station Blog section...

I wanted to get into electronics, Amateur Radio in particular, as a boy.

When I was nine, my father gave me a "Philips Electronic Engineer Model EE-8" kit as a Christmas present, enabling me to build simple electronic projects. I constructed a two transistor radio and would listen to Radio Luxembourg and the off-shore pirate station Radio Caroline, for hours on end, or until the large hard plastic ear phone became too uncomfortable to wear any longer...

Unfortunately the set got damaged a year or so later and family circumstances did not allow me to take my hobby any further...

Many years later (1989-1990) as a Shipboard Scientist aboard the Ocean Drilling Program ship "Joides Resolution", I found myself in the Marianas Basin, a few days sail out of Guam. Back then the internet was in it's infancy, and Radio was the primary means of communication from the ship. So it was while I was at sea that I first experienced Amateur Radio, and I talked on a ham radio to family in the UK, under supervision, through a "ham patch" in Portland, Oregon. I thought that was pretty neat the time, and I thought it would be interesting to take up the hobby one day....

Last summer I enquired about local courses, and in September 2011 I passed the "Foundation exam", and two months later the "Intermediate Exam". I plan to take the "Advanced exam" later this year.

I intend to operate across as many Amateur bands as possible, to get a "feel" for the hobby before spending any serious money on equipment. To get me started I purchased a Chinese VHF/UHF 4/5w handie, but found that it was not really adequate in my location in a village in Surrey. I have recently purchased a VHF/UHF mobile that offers 35/25w power output. I plan to construct a tri-band collinear antenna for base use.

I would like to own a vintage transceiver as I believe it would require more user input than a "works straight out of the box" unit... I would like to try morse code too...


My Equipment
I am completely new to Amateur Radio, so I don't have much equipment - just enough to "get me on the air". As I slowly feel my way around the Vhf/Uhf bands I'll be keeping my eyes open for appropriate equipment to allow me to sample all the bands. So here is my small list: Wouxun kg-udv-1p; Alinco DR-605E; Philips PMR conversion to 2m; an old Icom 2m mobile, which does not appear to work. I have a couple of 2/70 mobile antenna and a 6/2/70 mobile, but am still trying to get the best advice on where and how to locate this on the aluminium hardtop of my old Land Rover...

The Alinco DR-605E was purchased last December to use as a base/mobile and I am gathering bits to construct a col-linear tri-band antenna (designed by Rick Frazier W7LPN), which I plan to mount high in a large oak tree next to my "shack" - so some time soon I should be able to get on the air more effectively...

I mentioned my Alinco purchase to another member at my local club, and his response reminded me of the "brand loyalties" we have all come across at some point in our lives...

In my former home across "The Pond" (the Atlantic) in Canada, my next door neighbour, Earl, drove a Chevrolet pick-up.

Earl swore by that truck, and one day when talking about trucks he said to me: "...No, I'd never buy a Ford!... They're a pile junk!!...".

Now the guy who lived on the other side of me, Roy, drove an old Ford Ranger truck, which he loved to bits:

"...Man!, I just love that truck!.." he said. "..I love it more than my missus, an' almost as much as my dog!".

"What about Chevies?" I asked.

"Nah!... I'd never buy a Chevy - they're rust heaps!" he exclaimed.

Anyway there I was, living in between these two characters, each loyal to their own brand of truck, and me driving around in a battered old Volkswagen. And here I am now, living in Surrey, England, and driving around in a scruffy 42 year-old Land Rover!

Getting back to the point, when I mentioned to that other club member that I had recently acquired an Alinco mobile, he said to me:

"...An Alinco!"
"...What did you go and buy one of those for?..." he continued.
"...You should have got yourself a Yaesu, I've had loads of Yaesus, and I'd never buy an Alinco! ...they're a pile of.."...

Sound familiar anyone?

Burst my bubble?

No. I've heard it all before.

Other Interests
I have a range of other interests and pastimes, from classic car and motorcycle restoration, to woodwork, geology, natural history and even public speaking! I have added a few anecdotes explaining how I became interested in these seemingly unrelated topics, which I have arranged into the following groups: "Practical, hands-on hobbies", "Professional and Academic", "Business" and "Other"....

PRACTICAL, HANDS-ON HOBBIES:

As a child I was witness to my father's domestic "DIY", and he didn't always take the time to consider issues of safety... consequently, when I was around three years old, I recall finding a box of electrical fittings in a spare bedroom, and thinking that the length of cable with the plug at the end was meant to go into the outlet in the wall under the bed, I pushed the plug into the socket...

BANG!!

I don't recall if I felt anything, but I was a little puzzled to find myself on the other side of the room when I opened my eyes!

On another occasion I found my father's brace and bit along with some wooden boards in the room where my mother played her piano. Now I knew that the brace and bit was supposed to make holes in bits of wood, and since the "Black and Decker Workmate" had not been invented, the obvious place to support the wooden board while I worked on it was the top of my Mother's piano stool.

Not only did I manage to successfully bore through the board, but I also went all the way through the piano stool. A pretty good job for a four year old I thought. I was finally given my own tool set when I was seven, although I was not overly impressed with the plastic hammer...

Despite my early mishaps, my childhood DIY adventures gave me the confidence to use my hands and provided me with a foundation for my later "hands-on" pastimes and hobbies...

MOTORCYCLES...

I have to confess that I am addicted to motorcycles, and can't get enough of them...

My first motorcycle as a teenager was a BSA. I had that Beesa’s engine in bits on a tray on my bedroom carpet at least twice! Ah yes, those were the days! They don't build 'em like that anymore! Do you know that the biggest selling motorcycle of all time was the Honda C90 (or "Cub" as it is called in some places)? They are said to be "bullet proof"...

I read somewhere that someone took a C90 to the roof of a six storey building and pushed it off. The tiny Honda's assailant then went out of the building, picked the C90 up, started it up and all but rode it away... Imagine doing that with a Harley - you'd need a ladder to get down into the crater...

When I was a teenager, as the Japanese motorcycles began to dominate the streets and racing circuits, the British motorcycle industry was in decline, and old British bikes ended up rotting in peoples’ back yards, or were thrown into canals (throw a Honda Cub into a canal, come back in 10 years and you can still ride it to work, according to Daily Telegraph columnist James May). Today, old British motorcycles are highly desired by collectors, with classic bikes such as the BSA Gold Star changing hands for considerable sums. It is rare to come across genuine “barn finds” for restoration, so when an 1952 BSA Star Twin “restoration project” was advertised locally, I just had to have it…

When I lived in Canada I had a 1981 Yamaha XV750SE, the first Japanese V twin. This model, apparently, stirred things up in the USA as it was seen as a potential threat to the domestic motorcycle industry - Harley Davidson. The result was legislation that saw higher import duties on machines over 700cc. Yamaha responded by producing 699cc and smaller V twins, and were soon followed by Honda and the other Japanese manufacturers. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it is said.

Motorcycling in Canada is strongly seasonal, limited to 4 or 5 months of the year, and most machines are purely recreational toys, so I could not justify having more than one machine. Insurance premiums on motorcycles in Canada are relatively high compared to the UK, another limiting factor on owning multiple bikes.

Anyway, I shipped my old Yamaha to the UK when I moved back in 2006, and still have it, but have never got around to registering it. Shortly after I arrived, and itching for a ride, I bought a Harley Davidson Sportster. I did not like the idea of using it on the salty UK roads in the winter, so bought a tiny Honda as a "winter hack".

I was lucky to have a good sized workshop on my property, so started buying older bikes to restore and sell to fund my biking hobby. The result is that I now have a number of bikes (mostly Japanese) from the 60s and 70s, ranging from a humble Honda C90 step-through, to a classic Suzuki GS850G tourer. I also have an East German MZ, it is sinfully ugly and smokey, but perfect for the Dragon Rally held in north Wales every winter!...

I recently bought a Honda Pan European for a tour to northern Norway (Nordkapp) I am planning to do with my daughter. Until recently my daughter too scared to get on the back of a bike with me, and I toyed with the idea of fitting a sidecar to the old GS850, but following a trip along the Dorset coast on the back of my Sportster, she is keen to do Scandinavia on a solo. The Sportster is too small to comfortably manage the 5,000 mile round trip 2-up with luggage, hence the Pan European...

AUTOMOBILIA - SIDECARS...

I grew up at a time when motorcycle and sidecar combinations were still considered to be a viable form of family transportation. My cub-scout leader and his missus had one. No helmet intercoms back then - just put the passenger in the sidecar and listen to the sweet burble of the engine...

It is quite rare to see sidecars on the road these days!... Pop along to the Ace Cafe (NW London on the A406) on one of their "Sidecar Saturdays" to see some weird and wonderful 3-wheeled creations - next one is May 31st 2012 - maybe I'll see you there!

Anyway, I have a 1938 Swallow coach-built double adult sidecar that I plan to mount on my 1952 BSA. The Swallow Sidecar Company had also ventured into manufacturing sports cars in 1932 which were marketed under the name "SS", an abbreviation of "Standard Swallow". In 1945 SS cars changed their name to Jaguar Cars Ltd. because of the negative connotations associated with the use of the letters SS in Nazi Germany...

Swallow Sidecars were taken over by the long established Watsonian Sidecar Company in 1956, and the company still manufactures sidecars today. I also have an early 1960s Watsonian Monza sidecar that In plan to mount on my Suzuki GS850G... I recently acquired a Czechoslovakian "Velorex" sidecar which would be an appropriate addition to my Eastern Bloc MZ motorcycle...

AUTOMOBILIA - OLD CARS...

I have always loved old cars, the smell, the rituals, the keys hanging from the ignition switch in the dash board. When I lived in Canada I shipped two old Austin FX4 London Taxis over from the UK, and hired them out at weekends for weddings – a lot of fun. I am currently restoring a 1966 Austin A35 ("Wallace and Grommit") van and have a 1956 Wolseley 4/44 and a 1955 Austin A30 for restoration.

My current run around is a 1970 Land Rover 109” Series 2A. It is noisy, smelly, slow, draughty, uncomfortable and it gets wet inside when it rains. It has everything that you would NOT want in a vehicle. But it has character and is fun to drive, especially in London and Surrey where every other vehicle on the road seems to be either a German saloon or a Japanese SUV piloted by some young mother driving her little darlings the 500 yards to school...

When the sun shines I either ride my Harley Davidson Sportster or drive my MGTF convertible...

PETROLIANA - VINTAGE GAS/PETROL PUMPS…

When I was an infant in my push chair, my mother wheeled me to a parade of shops to get some groceries. After she’d finished at the butcher’s and green-grocer’s, she pushed me across the road, and parked the stroller, with me in it, outside the baker's while she went into buy some bread. Back then Mothers often left their infants outside shops, unattended, and little children often walked to school on their own. A safer, simpler time...

After a few moments I turned my head to one side and that is when I first noticed it. A huge yellow monster was staring down at me. Below the yellow monster was an army of metal monsters with glowing heads. I was terrified and bawled my eyes out.

We didn’t have a car when I was an infant, so I had never seen the petrol station, the blazing yellow Shell sign, or the Avery-Hardoll army of petrol pumps and their illuminated globes before….

Anyway, I eventually overcame my fear and now collect and restore vintage gas/petrol pumps from the 1940s-1960s; I also have an early Godwin hand-crank pump (1920s)…

REGISTRATION NUMBERS - LICENCE PLATES:

When I was nineteen I bought my first car - a 1966 Triumph Herald convertible. A previous owner had put a "cherished" number (license) plate on the car - RWC 18. Unfortunately I wrecked the car in an accident and lost entitlement to the number, but had I managed to retain that number it would be worth about £3000 today. Registration numbers are big business in the UK where highly desirable numbers can fetch large sums. The number "JB 1", if it were to come onto the market, might sell for upwards of £40,000.

The history of British vehicle registration numbers is not particularly straightforward, but the main point I will make is that post-1963 numbers in the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) contain an age-identifying letter or pair of numbers, whereas pre-1963 number do not.

Registration numbers issued in Northern Ireland differ from the rest of the UK by their use of the letters "I" or "Z". For whatever reason, these plates can often be purchased inexpensively, sometimes for as little as £19.95 on ebay.

I have a couple of dateless UK registration numbers, but they are not especially valuable. As I write I am waiting for a new number plate to arrive for my Harley. It is a plate that I am transferring off and old moped, and it spells the word HOG. I will post a picture when it is on my bike...

When I lived in Nova Scotia I spent a lot of time in the Wilderness, so I had a personal plate made up for my truck, it read "WLDRNSS". You'll notice the vowels have been omitted because Nova Scotia licence plates have a maximum of seven characters... I still have that plate and it is attached to the back of my Land Rover...

My Austin "Black Cab" London taxis were once featured in a local newspaper. It was Victoria Day, a national holiday celebrating Queen Victoria's birthday. The journalist and I drove one of the taxis to Citadel Hill National Historic Site in Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia. I was asked if either of my Austins had a name. I thought for a minute, and said "...until today, no, but as we are celebrating Queen Victoria's birthday, I shall name the taxis Victoria, and Albert".

And so that is the story of how my pair of old Austin taxis acquired their names. I of course went and had a vanity plate made up for each of them: VCTORIA and ALBRT...

Obtaining a personal registration number or "Vanity Plate" in North America seems to be a little easier. As far as I am aware you simply apply to your Department of Motor Vehicles, pay a reasonable fee of maybe $100 give or take, tell them the numbers and letters you want, and assuming they are available, the plate is yours. In Nova Scotia you had to pay an extra $20 on your annual licence fee. Simples.

METALWORKING...

I mostly fabricate repair sections for my old cars - bulkheads, floor pans and other structural components, plus repair sections for outer body panels. I have arc and mig welding equipment, and have done a little wrought iron work. I also have an old American metal/engineering lathe that I am still learning to use. One day I would like to try my hand at metal casting...

WOODWORKING...

I have a reasonably well equipped woodworking workshop and have built lots of cabinets. I have done a little steam bending and inlay work. I have also built a few workshops/shacks/studios, mostly hiding places for men. No, seriously, a man needs his own space...

STAINED GLASS...

When I lived in Canada I took a course in American copper-foil (Tiffany style) stained glass under the instruction of Terry Smith-Lamothe, a Cajun ex-pat from Louisiana who lived in Nova Scotia. I have not done any in a while, but plan to resume the hobby with my older sister who works in the traditional European "lead came" method... I have to finish constructing her new studio beforehand!

PROFESSIONAL AND ACADEMIC INTERESTS:

Mention fossils, especially ones from the Jurassic and Cretaceous, and most people think of Dinosaurs, or maybe ammonites. Sure, you can see them in museums, perhaps even find some, and there have been some great movies made about dinosaurs, but the fossils I am interested in are barely visible, to the naked eye, if at all – microfossils. The study of tiny fossils is called micropalaeontology, and such fossils are used to date and correlate certain types of rock, and to determine the environmental and ecological conditions that existed when those rocks began to form…

As a student, I undertook geological mapping in the French Pyrenees, North Africa and much of Scotland and Wales as part of my B.Sc. (hons) in Geology, and did a stint in Cyprus where I undertook fieldwork for my M.Sc. in Micropalaeontology at University College London. Lured by the possibility of a career in petroleum and partially funded by Amoco Oil, I ended up at Dalhousie University, Canada, where I studied rocks from the Hibernia Oil Field for my Ph.D.

Millions of years ago before the Atlantic Ocean formed, the parts of the earth that were to become eastern Canada and western Europe were adjacent to one another. In simple terms, as the Atlantic Ocean began to "un-zip", conditions became right for the formation of oil-bearing rocks. The Atlantic widened as the continents drifted apart to where they are today, and rocks of oil-bearing potential are thus found in on both side of the North Atlantic in what are termed the North Atlantic "basins" - Canada's Hibernia Oil Field and the North Sea Oil Field are the classic examples.

The Canadian Government had an an obvious interest in rocks of a certain age and type in the Atlantic Basins of a number of European countries. And while a number of those countries were willing to share some of the geological information contained within those rocks, others were not.

To cut another long story short, the Canadian Government employed me to pose as a "tourist" and collect samples of rock from a certain country, and smuggle them back to Canada. So for two summers of my life I was an International Rock Smuggler. Perhaps not as glamorous as smuggling diamonds, certainly not as seedy as smuggling drugs, but maybe something in between...

I spent a lot of time shuffling around in a white lab coat, gazing down microscopes and publishing papers mostly about groups of microfossils referred to as "ostracoda" and “foraminifera”. I have also worked with fossil pollen, "nannofossils" (tiny plankton best seen with a scanning electron microscope) and fossilized fish ear-bones which are called "otoliths". I have been involved in various research projects in different places and through a broad range of the geological time:

Jurassic-Eocene: Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Leg 129 Western Pacific, Guam and Mariannas Basin http://www-odp.tamu.edu/publications/129_SR/VOLUME/CHAPTERS/sr129_12.pdf

Miocene-Pliocene: The Messinian Salinity Crisis "The Day The Mediterranean Dried Up".

Jurassic-Cretaceous of Atlantic Basins - Canada's Hibernia oil wells and Portugal.

Carboniferous (Westphalian) of the Gulf of St Lawrence basins.

After graduating from Dalhousie University I did a spell of teaching/lecturing at one of Nova Scotia's universities, and then went on to do a Post Doctoral-Fellowship, again at Dalhousie, funded in part by the Canadian Program for Energy Research and Development. That particular project involved fieldwork around the rugged shoreline of Cape Breton Island, and it was there that I came across the four abandoned antenna bases of the Marconi Station at Table Head, Glace Bay, Nova Scotia.

The Table Head Marconi station was built in 1902 and established trans-Atlantic communication between Nova Scotia and Poldhu in Cornwall. The 60kw transmitter was hooked up to four antenna that were mounted on 210-foot (64 m) towers. All that remains of the original station are the concrete bases, although it is now a Canadian National Historic Site, with a museum and short interpretive trail commemorating the importance of the site.

Inspired by what I had seen and learned at the Marconi site, I 'phoned the local amateur radio club in Halifax, NS, to enquire about courses - I left my details on their answering machine, but nobody got back to me. Shame - I could have had a "VE" call sign and perhaps even a "vanity" number (license) plate to match!

BUSINESS INTERESTS:

One summer, while between contracts, I did a bit of gold prospecting in the wilds of Nova Scotia. It was here that made the acquaintance of a number of other gold prospectors, most notably a colourful old character by the name of Edgar Horne.

Now Edgar was an "old school" prospector (I hate to use this term because it’s usage has become somewhat fashionable). Edgar knew nothing about the geological science behind the gold he mined, but he knew everything about how, and where, to find it. In contrast, I knew the geological science (well, some of it) behind the gold, but had little practical experience in finding it. Combining our resources seemed to have the potential for a successful joint venture, and to cut a long story short we developed a partnership - of sorts.

Without going into details, I set up a Limited Company specializing in educational ecological expeditions, and began to take adventurous travellers out to Edgar’s gold mine to learn the story behind the natural, geological and human history of gold prospecting and mining. Edgar devised a method by which he could get three times the market value per ounce of gold, I established a market for my knowledge and experience in natural history and earth science, and visitors went away with any gold they found - and a great time was had by all!...

In subsequent years I expanded the market for educational, experiential travel. Through my university connections, I assembled a team of earth scientists, biologists, botanists, ornithologists and historians and developed a series of programs that explored the landscapes, geology, natural and human history of Eastern Canada.

These programs, led by me and my associates, explored the coastal and inland wilderness by hiking, canoeing, kayaking and sailing, and pioneered the development of what became known as “Ecotourism” in Eastern Canada...

OTHER:

PUBLIC SPEAKING...

Yes it is true. I actually enjoy Public Speaking, but this was not always the case.

As a Graduate Student at Dalhousie University, Canada, I had to make a presentation about my planned field of research, a "Thesis Proposal", to the entire Department of Earth Sciences - professors, students, and anyone else who cared to watch someone squirm and suffer in front of an audience. My situation was not helped by the fact that my principle Thesis Advisor, a Dutchman, was a scientist attached to the Bedford Institute of Oceanography and only served as an "adjunct" professor at the university.

Unfortunately there was a deep-rooted and very unhealthy rivalry between my Thesis Advisor and a tenured professor in my department. This was compounded by the fact that when I had applied to undertake my Ph.D. at the university, both the adjunct and the tenured professor had made me tempting offers to be their graduate student. Of course I knew nothing of the bitter rivalry until a few days after I arrived in Canada, fresh from the UK...

The day of the Thesis proposal arrived and I stood behind the lectern, slides in the projector, ready to make my presentation. A sea of faces watched my every move. At one end of the front row of professors sat my thesis advisor, at the other end was his nemesis, and by virtue of my association with The Dutchman, he was my nemesis too...

After the longest forty minutes of my life I was subjected to an interrogation akin to the Spanish Inquisition - and this was only my thesis proposal!...

Anything and everything that could be bad about a public talk was evident in mine, but in retrospect I have seen many dreadful presentation made by some of the most eminent people in their fields, and the bottom line is that I got through it.

Determined to improve my presentation skills, I enrolled in an evening course in public speaking. I also listened carefully to what was probably the only sound piece of advice ever given to me by my thesis advisor, who said to me, "...listen, public speaking is simple... all you've got to do is tell 'em what you're going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them!". Wise words.

Three years later I had to present my Doctoral Thesis to a much larger audience that included an examining committee of four or five professors, including one who was flown in from England specifically for the task. The actual thesis presentation was timed to 45 minutes, and if you hadn't presented your research and results within that time frame then "tough", as they say.

Following the presentation was the actual "thesis defence" when each of the examiners would pose specific questions in turn. There were three or four rounds of questions, and the whole process took three or four hours. After the questions everyone except the examiners had to leave the auditorium - the examiners staying behind to debate and decide my fate...

To cut a long story short, I passed, was awarded my Doctorate, and went on to make many presentations on a variety of topics, not just science, to audiences of all sizes and backgrounds, from the ordinary to the specialist through my professional and business career...

So if you are looking for a speaker to fill in a date in your Club calendar, and you want that speaker to talk about some technical aspect of Amateur Radio, then do NOT ask me as I am just a beginner...

However, if you would like an entertaining, informative and at times passionate talk about earth science, geology, palaeontology, natural history or a maritime disaster that perhaps you've never of heard of before, then feel free to contact me...

GREEK LANGUAGE...

I have a cousin who lives on a Greek island, and she converts derelict buildings into lovely villas. She seems to like my work and would like me to work with her on a number of properties, so I am learning to speak Greek language in an adult education class...

NATURAL HISTORY AND ECOLOGY...

I'll complete this section in due course, so watch this space! -

NATURAL RESOURCES, HUMAN HISTORY AND CULTURE...

I will come back to this section at a later time...

VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE...

Nova Scotia, first colonized by the French in 1605, has some of the oldest surviving examples of wooden houses,churches and other buildings in North America. My interest in...to be continued!...

My Radio Clubs
Farnborough and District Radio Society, Farnborough, UK
Broolands Trust Club Member(motor museum)
The Vintage Motorcycle Club
Land Rover Series 2 club

View all pictures

Latest Station Blog

Radio Clubs in San Jose area?... 2/1/2012 1:43:47 PM (3331 views) (0 comments)

I will be in San Jose on February 27th - 29th and thought it would interesting to visit a local radio club in the area. I have had a look on-line, but have not come across any with meetings on those days... Any suggestions?

Also, are there any Amateur Radio shops in the area?

Untitled Page