Alison Kristina, M7VKV

| July 17, 2020

I guess my radio background may be different to many. As a child I wasn’t allowed to watch TV and in my early teens my dad bought me a bedside radio/clock/alarm which had MW and LW bands. It was fascinating listening to European stations at night.

As I got older I progressed to a Sony ICF-2001D SW radio, bought an antenna book and built a helix wound vertical receive 5 meter tall antenna on the roof (lots of guy lines!). Over the late 1980s and early 1990s I logged just under 150 countries on the amateur bands. They were not all actual DXCC countries as I counted islands as individual countries, so yes, that was cheating a bit!

I did try to study for my amateur licence back then but Morse code gave me massive headaches within 20 seconds that would last the rest of the day. As Morse was mandatory it meant I couldn’t get my licence. After a while I lost interest, life took over, as it often does, and that was the end of that, even though I have continued to listen to FM radio a lot. Radio is definitely my first love!

Last autumn I was doing a clear out and came across my old Sony 2001D, attached it to a long wire, turned it on and was hooked again. Sadly I couldn’t find my old log book or stack of SWL QSL confirmation cards. My favourite card was from the only Ham (at that time) on the Andaman island, off the coast of Burma.

The Sony was on its last legs so I bought an Alinco DX-R8 HF receiver, a Wellbrook Magnetic Loop receive antenna and a BHI noise reduction unit, which makes the QRM/N tolerable as it still gives me headaches. I also bought an SDRPlay SDR receiver and have found it interesting learning about the various data modes as well as exploring the VHF bands and Satellite comms for the first time.

Earlier this year I heard two oldies on the bottom band ragchewing and saying how you don’t even need to learn Morse code any more for the Foundation exam. Needless to say, my ears pricked up straight away and I looked into it and found they were correct.

My nearest club is a 60-mile round trip away on narrow country roads and I have problems driving in the dark these days, so going to evening club meetings for training is not possible. Doing the exam online from home is perfect for me, so I was very excited that the RSGB had introduced this because of the pandemic.

I bought the Foundation Manual and the “Exam secrets” book (very highly recommended) from the RSGB bookshop website. Some of the course material, for example equipment theory, antennas, band plans, propagation etc I already had a basic working knowledge of but things have progressed a lot since the 1980s!

I signed up to an online course with Essex Ham which, although I didn’t really need, helped me get back into a routine of studying. All their extra mock exams helped a lot as I don’t really like multiple-choice exams, I’m far happier writing essays!

I have put down a deposit for an Icom IC-705 which is ideal for me as I intend to work portable a lot in my local area which is the North Pennines and Scottish borders.

I am looking forward to doing my Intermediate exam from home at some point.

I suppose for me it really is a case of better late than never!

Category: GOTA2C: Licensee stories