John Butcher, G3LAS, 12th September 2020

| September 29, 2020

It is with sadness that I have to report that John Butcher, G3LAS passed away on 12th September 2020. He had suffered a number of strokes over the past year and had been in a home for some months.

John served as CDXC Chairman for eight years, passing the baton to me in 2009. Those who were at the AGM/Summer Social that year may remember that when Neville presented John with  plaque honouring his tenure John spotted a misspelling. Rather than plaque it said a plague! Needless to say he took it in great humour and we arranged another plaque.

I have passed my condolences to his wife Rachael.

RIP John.

Chris Duckling, G3SVL

John lived in a small hamlet some 10k m south of Lincoln, IO93uc / WAB TF15. He moved there with his wife in 2013 after many years near Bishop’s Stortford. The following is adapted from the website of G3LAS.

Born in 1936 in Ely, Cambridgeshire, my interest in amateur radio was kindled by some iconic mentors such as Gerry, G2XV, and Sant, G2PU. My local ‘mate’ in Ely was David, later G3NHB, who lived, conveniently, just across the road from my future fiancée and wife. I was first licensed in 1956 while on National Service in the Royal Air Force. For most of my two-year stint I was teaching recruits about long range radio systems while stationed at RAF Locking in Somerset, at that time the home of the RAF Amateur Radio Society, G8FC. The gear was all home-built and it was nice to have separate 813 PAs for each band, three rhombics and a 3-ele beam on an adjacent tower. It was a very long time before I experienced anything like that kind of luxury again.

After ‘demob’ from the RAF in September 1957 I spent three years at Cambridge University, operating G6UW and occasionally studying Physics and Electronic Engineering, before having to leave in 1960 to try to make an honest living. The G6UW shack was in a basement of the Physics Department’s Cavendish Laboratory and while we were on-air, we became used to visits from irate research staff who did not appreciate 150W of RF in close proximity to their instruments, which were struggling to get 0.1°C closer to absolute zero. The fact that our beam (sadly, it was only a 3-ele for 10m) was actually lying on the flat roof of the laboratory in an attempt to be inconspicuous probably didn’t help. It didn’t help the signal either!

I did manage to pick up a decent degree from Cambridge and later completed a PhD at London University with a study of the electrical, optical and thermal properties of thin films of arsenic sulphide, one of the first photoconductive materials to be investigated.

I worked first on magnetic thin film storage devices at the British Tabulating Machine Company (later called ICT and then ICL Research Laboratories) in Stevenage. However, most of my career from 1962 was spent in University teaching and research, specialising in semiconductor physics and silicon technology as Head of the University’s Microelectronics Research Centre. My main research interests were in silicon-oxide interfaces and silicon-on-insulator technology. For 10 years I was also a consultant to the GEC Hirst Research Centre in Wembley. During this time I was very active on the VHF and UHF bands before ‘dropping out’ from radio for about 15 years. I returned to the hobby and DXing in 1995 and have been very active on the HF bands since retiring in 1997 from my position as Pro-Vice Chancellor at Middlesex University, London.

My main interests at present are chasing DXCC (339 current entities worked, missing Desecheo), IOTA (961) and US Counties (2878), operating SSB, CW and data modes on all bands from 160 to 2 metres (except 4 and 5 metres). I can’t get too excited about band slots, but my DXCC Challenge total is 2740. All-time DXCC total is 350. I have tried the new FT8 mode but it doesn’t attract me at all. It’s not the kind of amateur radio that I know and love.




Category: Silent Keys