The Last Word, October 2019

| September 17, 2019

These letters were received for publication in the October 2019 RadCom but pressure of space meant they could not be included in the printed edition.


Roger Kendall, G8BNE

We are told that the cost of taking action against the cause of some local HF interference which is rendering the 40m and 80m bands almost unusable for some amateurs is out of the question because the Society could not afford to lose! Some decades ago the sport of angling was faced with a similar situation – lots of small clubs being damaged by pollution incidents. The solution found was to establish a completely separate organisation, at that time called ‘Angler’s Cooperative Association’ (now ‘Fish Legal’). That organisation funded by the anglers themselves then pursued the polluters and to this day obtains redress for such pollution even from large companies such as water utilities and other commercial companies. Is it not time that amateurs behaved similarly and established an organisation totally separate form RSGB to defend our frequencies from noise pollution? Fish Legal employs a legally qualified person to advise and direct operations, which has resulted in environmental and fisheries improvement and defence over many years, a course that no individual club could have considered on its own.

This appears to be exactly the situation in which amateurs now find themselves, ie powerless against those with almost unlimited finance to resist such action.


Karl Fischer, DJ5IL

RadCom in August published a letter by Bob Harry, G3NRT, who wrote “amateur radio is not a protected service”. As I had already pointed out to the RSGB 15 years ago, this assertion is definitely false: see RadCom June 2004.

The ITU Radio Regulations are a binding treaty for all member states, they define “…amateur service: A radiocommunication service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, by duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest…” and stipulate: “Administrations shall take all practicable and necessary steps to ensure that the operation of electrical apparatus or installations of any kind, including power and telecommunication distribution networks, but excluding equipment used for industrial, scientific and medical applications, does not cause harmful interference to a radiocommunication service and, in particular, to a radionavigation or any other safety service operating in accordance with the provisions of these Regulations.”

The EMC-Directive 2014/30/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council directly refers to the Radio Regulations, by considering that…

“Member States should be responsible for ensuring that radiocommunications, including radio broadcast reception and the amateur radio service operating in accordance with International Telecommunication Union (ITU) radio regulations, electrical supply networks and telecommunications networks, as well as equipment connected thereto, are protected against electromagnetic disturbance.”

… it stipulates:

“1. General requirements

Equipment shall be so designed and manufactured, having regard to the state of the art, as to ensure that:

(a) the electromagnetic disturbance generated does not exceed the level above which radio and telecommunications equipment or other equipment cannot operate as intended;

(b) it has a level of immunity to the electromagnetic disturbance to be expected in its intended use which allows it to operate without unacceptable degradation of its intended use.”

It follows that amateur radio without doubt is a protected service. And it is high time to enlighten radio amateurs about their legal rights, to show our authorities that we are aware of them and, if necessary, take legal action. To fail to do so is to doom amateur radio to the status of a lost art.

The authorities usually want to make us believe that conformity with harmonised standards does prove conformity with the general requirements of the EMC Directive, which is definitely false. It is important to know that according to the directive the conformity of equipment with harmonised standards merely results in the refutable “presumption” of conformity with the general requirements, which allows it to bear the “CE” marking and to be placed on the market. However, if it turns out that its operation causes interference to a radio service it does in fact not comply with the general requirements, which means that it is electromagnetically incompatible and therefore its operation is illegal.

One final note: with the advent of digital technologies and the internet, many broadcasters shut down their short wave transmitters. However, there are compelling reasons to believe that short wave broadcasting will remain an important guarantor of free and universal information and many stations are still on the air. In my understanding a really dedicated short wave amateur should also regularly listen to the short wave broadcasting bands. Why? Not only because it can be quite interesting and sometimes even thrilling, but because it can also be extremely beneficial for amateur radio…

PLT (Power Line Technology) is one of the worst polluters of the short waves with broadband electromagnetic disturbances, but because the amateur radio bands are usually notched out with typical notch depths of some 30dB, one or two PLT installations in the neighbourhood often go unnoticed by a radio amateur. However, with the increasing distribution and density of PLT installations eventually he will notice interference to the amateur radio bands caused by the combined disturbances of a plethora of PLT devices. But then it is too late, because that interference can not be attributed to a particular PLT installation and hence it is most likely that the authorities will be unable and/or unwilling to resolve the problem. That’s why it is most important to monitor also the broadcasting bands, to report any electromagnetic disturbance to the broadcasting service immediately and to urge the authorities to take action and to resolve the problem. By the way: interference to the broadcasting service is usually handled with much higher priority than interference to the amateur service, so it really pays off to be a radio amateur and a broadcasting listener…


Carl Langley, G3XGK

The last issue of RadCom contained two interesting letters on Interference by Stephen Cape, M0LDX and Bob Harry, G3NRT, and I would like comment on some points raised.

Stephen Cape mentioned that “Ofcom is funded by industry with a grant from the government”, however Ofcom does not receive any government grant now, ie the taxpayer does not pay them.

This was stopped with the arrival of the Digital Economies Act 2017. It was stated at the time “Following the passage of the Digital Economy Act in April 2017, Ofcom is now funded entirely through charges, and takes no grant-in-aid from Government. Ofcom says this helps underline its independence.”

I will leave others to ponder what that could mean in reality.

Some others may consider that because we don’t pay for a licence any more we don’t get any EMC protection.

Before removing the amateur radio annual licence payment, Ofcom consulted with the public in 2005, including of course radio amateurs. Some amateurs did state in their consultation reply that they believed radio amateurs would not be able to request EMC/RFI assistance from Ofcom if they did not pay a yearly licence fee. In its reply to the consultation answers Ofcom mentioned that Ofcom’s spectrum management and enforcement activities are not determined according to the level of the licence fee.

Bob Harry, G3NRT mentions that he believes the Amateur Radio Service is not a protected service.

In EU Directive 2014/30/EU (which forms the EMC Regs 2006 in the UK) states the following in the recitals

“(4) Member States should be responsible for ensuring that radiocommunications, including radio broadcast reception and the amateur radio service operating in accordance with International Telecommunication Union (ITU) radio regulations, electrical supply networks and telecommunications networks, as well as equipment connected thereto, are protected from electromagnetic disturbance.” If that does not indicate we should have EMC protection then why was it written?

The last time I looked I think we were still in the EU, but even if we do leave, this is unlikely to be repealed because we need to follow the EMC regs for trade in the EU.



Martin, G5FM

With reference to recent comments on club recruitment, the Isle of Avalon ARC has found one of the local area freebie magazines to be a regular and useful source of new members. With ‘persistent’ advertising (month after month) from a freebie entry simply advertising when and where we meet, we have found that on average we are attracting half-a-dozen new members per year. We have also found that word-of-mouth amongst the local CB community (many of whom are friends of members) brings in stragglers gradually moving from one community to the other.


Tom Morgan G0CAJ/ZS1AFS/ZT1T

I don’t think we need a ‘Different kind of Radio Club’ (RadCom, July 2019).

What we need is a radio club that is welcoming and has enthusiastic members. My wife and I have come over to the UK once a year for quite a few years. We have made a point of visiting radio clubs in Wiltshire and in the area around Southampton.

Last year my wife Sue, G0EZN/ZS1AFR visited Chippenham Radio Club because we were still looking for that club that was welcoming and had enthusiastic members. The welcome was great and the members’ enthusiasm for their particular main radio-related activity was obvious. We have just returned from the UK after visiting the Chippenham Radio Club twice. We joined the club to keep in touch with happenings and will be corresponding with a few members whose interest coincides with ours.

We have just received their newsletter. It confirms our thoughts. We noticed that three other amateurs have joined the club recently. So, it is growing. How many clubs can match that?

I would say I am still a paid-up member of Edgware & District Radio Society. The newsletter has articles, including reports on events, computing, and the occasional humorous shortie. It’s just a pity I don’t get a chance to visit London when I’m in the UK. But like all clubs should – they reach out. Do I want to be associated with a different club? No.

Out in South Africa there are so few amateurs that clubs are few and far between outside of cities. And amateur radio is dying. So are the ageing members. Our town had seven amateurs but we are now down to two on a permanent basis, and one who comes home for Christmas.



Michael Toia, K3MT

Re the insight into my ‘balun’ by G3PLX (RadCom July 2019). He is, of course, quite correct, and as I read his words, ‘folded monopole’, I saw what I had not earlier, in a flash. I thank him for that insight. I say, however, that my article intended to introduce one to the simple beauty of the Smith Chart, how to draw it from memory, and I have presented a few illustrations of its use, the ‘balun’ being only one of some simple examples – all with no more maths than simple fractions. I make no assertion that it is superior to, or more useful, than any other, but likely far less so, as we have found not historical reference to it at all!

On my initial submission, the editors did kick back a critical review about the balun, to be sure. We exchanged concerns. I offered to delete it from the article. However, the editors thought it useful not to do so. We both agreed its inclusion should muddy the waters and hopefully lead to some thoughtful exchange. They warned of possible brickbats to come. Surprisingly, it took months for the first. We expect more. It is G3PLX who has tossed the first! It is appreciated as it stirs further study into the matter.

He notes that the folded monopole’s radiation resistance would shunt the balun and degrade its performance. This is a clue as to possibly improving the thing. Options come to mind: use the radiation to good effect; offer counter-radiation; shield the thing to prevent radiation and thereby increase its monopole shunt impedance.

As a counter-argument; a ¾” PVC pipe tee supported a 34”, centre-fed, thin wire dipole six feet above the shop floor. A 38”, “U” shaped RG-6, taped to the PVC at right angles to the dipole, ran horizontally. The dimensions are a tad short of free-space values, likely owing to the presence of PVC dielectric.

More RG-6 dropped from the balun’s end to a table where antenna Z was measured at 89 ohms, nonreactive, on 148MHz. Touching the drop cable at any point from the antenna to the table produced less than a 5% change in measurements, suggesting proper balun operation.

The antenna, oriented vertically with drop line held horizontally for a few feet, was connected to a five-watt H/T, which easily keyed several local repeaters with good signal strength. I offer that the balun performs as first proposed.



John Adams, G3ZSE

I was very interested to read the article by Roger, G3XBM  on the earth electrode antenna in the August RadCom. Quite by chance I had set up a similar ‘antenna’ a few days before RadCom arrived. I primarily wanted to see how it compared with my doublet with strapped feeders fed against an earth stake via a homebrew tuner on 630m (472kHz). I found that receive was comparable, but my transmissions only reached local stations, compared to well in excess of 1,000km for the wire antenna. In each case my estimate of ERP was around 10mW. I subsequently found that by adding a second earth stake to the doublet set up I could achieve a much better antenna current, due to lower earth losses. By the way, in my case, with the earth electrode experiment, the ‘antenna’ impedance was quite close to 50 ohms. However, the radiation resistance is probably only a fraction of one ohm – the bulk of the impedance being earth losses. I am not keen on using the mains earth as part of any antenna system, especially with other earth electrodes connected, as there are safety issues to consider. I would be interested to hear how other 630m operators have got on with an electrode system. I am contactable via email – see



Dave Hobro, G4IDF

The QSL bureau item in February’s RadCom highlights a perennial problem. The QSL card is the ‘final courtesy of the QSO’ and has been for many years. It is often a requirement when claiming awards that the claimant is in receipt of the QSL card for that particular contact, actually getting the card for a contact is not an easy task even with the QSL Bureau.

Having worked over 150 squares on 6m and over 100 squares on 2m I recently embarked on a QSLing fest to try to get some of the contacts confirmed to progress both an RSGB and VUCC award – easier said than done. In an effort to target the outgoing QSL cards I used to see what the other stations QSL policy was. Whilst some stations had taken the time to put QSL information down be it buro, eQSL, LoTW, direct or no QSLs, others listed little more than address or locator, which for QSLing was not much help. So, for the stations with no stated QSL policy do I forget about these contacts or send via the Bureau and risk compounding the problem of unwanted cards building up somewhere?

I have probably inadvertently added to the problem of unwanted QSL cards going to the bureau with my last QSL fest through lack of QSL information. If we all updated our QRZ or similar pages, it would save a lot of wasted time and resources all round.



Geoffrey Stainton, G1MQQ

I recall as a youngster in the early 1950s when the country was awash with military surplus, my father and late grandfather purchased a canary yellow mobile antenna of some sort about the size of a knitting needle. It was claimed to dramatically improve broadcast reception.

My grandfather carefully crafted a base out of an old Bakelite ashtray, positioned the antenna and switched on his radio. The improvement was so dramatic that my father immediately went out and bought one for our old Cossor. The big mystery was that neither were connected to their respective receivers!

When I tried it out on my Ivalek crystal set nothing happened even when it was.

The power of suggestion.



Dave, G3YMC

In the May RadCom you have an article from OM1II about the OM2015TITANIC call and claim it is probably the longest callsign in the world.

For many years this claim has been held by PA0GAM/OH0/OJ0 which I worked in 1983. At 14 characters this is longer than OM2015TITANIC at 13 so still holds the claim as far as I know. See pa0gam-oh0-oj0/. At the time I loaded my logs to eQSL and LOTW it was rejected since although the callsign field in ADIF has no length limit the authors of those software set it to 12 characters.

Perhaps the distinction being drawn was that OM2015TITANIC is a ‘one-word’ callsign, ie without /anything – Ed. 



J S Linfoot, G0CPP

As RadCom has recently carried an article on constructing the Smith Chart, you might be interested to know that there is a very good version of the chart, available free, on the internet at (and other places). This version has a detailed grid around the zero impedance point, where the lines are widely spaced, and progressively reduces the number of lines shown as you approach infinity as to reduce the cramming of lines at this point. Infinity is shown at the right of the page, but if, like me, you prefer it at the bottom, then turn the page through 90° clockwise. The way the chart is made makes it easy to read in wither case. Only a skilled draughtsman could produce as good a chart.



Peter Longhurst, G3ZVI

I enjoyed reading the PL259 article by Mike Parkin.

I try to explain to my club colleagues why the PL259 isn’t always the best choice, and Mike’s article has given me useful ammunition.

The PL259 was invented in the 1930s by Edward Clarke Quackenbush who worked for Amphenol, likewise the N type was by Paul Neill who worked for Bell Labs and the C type by Conrad Concelman who worked for Amphenol. Neil and Concelman then collaborated to produce the “Bayonet Neill Concelman” (BNC) and the “Threaded Neill Concelman” (TNC).

To bring the PL259 into line with the others and to belatedly honour its creator I would like to propose the PL259 henceforward be referred to as the “Q type”.



George Woods, G3LPT

As one who learnt Morse, way back in the Scouts, followed by the ATC (Air Training Cadets) then Wireless College and Merchant Navy, as a radio officer, with even a few months, war service. It’s a great shame, few amateurs today have had the pleasure of listening to good Morse. There are a few still, just listen on the bands. They are there.

Ditch this speed objective thing. Aim for quality, as a bespoke tailor or cook would.

I have had the pleasure of teaching Morse to many in the past, successfully!

My last candidate was a young lady, but her keying was exceptional. I only hope she kept it going, because, I am convinced, she had that magic. It’s rare but something we should aim for.

For myself, I shall still send on an old straight key, rather slowly, but have no difficulty reading ‘good Morse’ at all speeds, sent correctly.



Ron Callaghan, G6VXC

I am writing to say thank you for the help and advice you gave me. I am now on 2m, 70cm and also 10 and 12m. I cannot believe how amateur radio has advanced since I was last on the bands 22 years ago, and it is all for the best. Whenever I phone the RSGB, you always find the time to help.

Thank you, Ron. The staff at RSGB HQ try very hard to support those who call for advice, but we are of course only a small team. We also have a network of Regional and specialist volunteers who can also be contacted for help.

Steve Thomas, M1ACB,
RSGB General Manager



Andrew Jenner, G7KNA

I would like to go on record and thank the local amateur radio clubs and individuals who assisted Mid-Somerset ARC in the #Imagineering event at the Royal Bath and West Show.

By way of background, the organisers of the #Imagineering event (https://imagineering., who aim at inspiring 8-16 year olds to take up careers in engineering and technology through fun hands on activities, contacted MSARC to invite them to put on a display stand demonstrating Amateur Radio alongside other technology organisations such as Rolls Royce, Wessex Water, REME and a number of local Technical Colleges.

MSARC reached out to me as the District Representative to try to bring other local clubs into the operation to spread the burden and increase manpower. I am pleased to say that a number of local clubs, along with a few individuals, were able to provide support. The clubs were Mid Somerset ARC, Yeovil ARC, Isle of Avalon ARC and South Bristol ARC.

Although there were a number of clubs involved in the event the bulk of the organisation was undertaken by Mid Somerset mainly by David, G8BFV whose sterling organisational work produced well-manned stands displaying many aspects of amateur radio including ATV, SDR, the OSCAR 100 satellite alongside conventional SSB and VHF stations, Morse demonstrations, simple circuits, network radio and even some Direction Finding.

Handouts and information in the form of RSGB-published materials and a memory stick containing useful information and resources were available.

Overall the event was very well attended; and it was comforting to see how many of the visitors to the show and the #Imagineering event, both young and old, were interested in the display and the activities. The local clubs are now contacting those who left their details at the event.

Those of us involved in the event hope to be invited back next year and already some new ideas are being discussed. A separate account of the event by Mid Somerset ARC has been sent into RadCom and hopefully will be published shortly. It only remains to thank those involved and especially those who organised the display.

The RSGB provided Legacy Fund money to Mid-Somerset ARC to support the stand at the Royal Bath and West Show.

Steve Thomas, M1ACB
RSGB General Manager



Carl Bowen, M1BSI

I read the letter by Mike Soloman, G8DKW in September’s RadCom with great interest as I used to be an enthusiastic TV DXer back in early 1990s.

As any operator who works the 6m band is aware, trans-Atlantic propagation above 40MHz, although generally uncommon, it does happen, be it multi hop Sporadic-E or, when the Solar Cycle is in our favour, F2 propagation.

If anyone is interested, there is a four minute clip of BBC television reception made in New York during November 1938 ( BbcTelevisionReceivedInNewYork-1938). This would have been from Alexandra Palace on Channel A1, whose video frequency would have been 45MHz.

I would like acknowledge Andrew Emmerson, an enthusiast, who spent five years tracking down this recording and is believed to be the only surviving example of pre-war high definition British television.



David H E Coles, G7GZC

Well, which is it?

The thing is, I live in retirement housing with all the usual radio problems. Things like gossip, rumour, passing public, overlooking neighbours and hedge cutting plus, of course, Housing Association regulations.

However, it’s not all bad in terms of friendship but if a neighbour’s food blender goes on the blink then I might get the blame. Rumour says, “He’s always fiddling with electrics, you know”.

The solution seems to be super-stealth and innovation. This includes antenna camo paint-jobs, mock bird feeders and finally, just to keep quiet about it all!

So, I continue as a SWL using stray pick-up, I think, from our communal radio and television feed, FM repeaters and the FUNcube dongle. The jury is still out over DMR.

QRP/P is a favourite but… the problem is there’s nothing worth listening to or talking about. Like the parrot joke, it’s dead.

What’s the answer? Is it HF? I’m not made of money and I have no garden to speak of or a loft and the television is a turn-off.

Saying that, I’ve received and decoded NOAA weather satellites through the roof on the first floor of my former address. At least, there is some action but it’s not quite the same as an in-depth discussion.

I’m not desperate enough for network radio and, by choice, I don’t have an internet connection. The reason is it makes me get out to the public library. Okay, we’ve got a connection in our shared lounge as well.

What about a RadCom postal contact list? I can write and can afford a second class stamp. Answers on a postcard please.



Bob Houlston, G4PVB


A while back, the band I was in was late for a gig. It was all hands on deck connecting up but just before I turned my 100 watt amp on… its full output was connected directly to my wah wah pedal. Yikes! From then on, I determined to blank off unused sockets with tape to reduce connection errors. But now there are ‘jack caps’ to the rescue. Both 6·35mm jack plug socket and XLR dust plug protection sizes available. Although I have years of experience singing into a microphone, I am quite microphone shy talking on the radio. I mostly use Morse code with straight key where I can chat away happily for hours. This means my HF radio microphone and electronic key sockets are rarely used. I don’t like them sitting there vulnerable, especially the eight connector pins exposed so I shroud them with a black jack cap XLR dust cover and yellow 6.35mm socket plug. Although primarily a Tx issue it occurs to me that SWLs using a Tx/Rx may find this useful if only receiving with no microphone connected. Search eBay (or other auction sites) ‘JACKCAP 6.3mm ¼ in XLR’. Don’t mix & match your microphones. Just because they have 8 pins doesn’t mean they may be compatible. Damage may occur to the radio if you get it wrong.



Bill Kitchen, G4GHB

On 11 August I set up a QRP station outdoors with another amateur and we had a special event callsign for the day. A wet day but we managed to set up everything without us getting too wet. QRP is perfect for a few hours operating because you don’t drain the batteries so quickly. I only ever operate QRP. It was a Sunday ruined by thoughtless amateurs who think it is okay to work on the QRP frequencies that are allocated to us. Especially important when less than ideal aerials are used compared with the home station. Great places for seeking QRP-QRP contacts as they know where to find you.

It happens too often to be a coincidence that they happen to choose these frequencies by chance for their contest operating or DX. It certainly happens on CW, which is my preferred mode, as it did on Sunday. They were spot on 7.030MHz. They don’t respect the QRP frequencies and barge in knowing they can push the QRP stations into leaving.



Anthony Langton, GM4HTU

Interesting to read about earthquakes influencing propagation. T & R Bulletins from around 1931/32 mention anomalous propagation caused by earthquakes in Manchester and South America. Some animals are known to be able to predict them by a means not yet understood.



Brian Hiley, M0YBX

One Sunday, we were sat in the garden with friends and relatives. I was demonstrating the FT-891 radio connected to a small loop antenna, using CW, to my brother-in-law. Pat, an eighty-year-old lady, asked what the German station and I were saying. I explained about exchange of callsigns, names, QTH and other information, after which, she thought for a short while then responded, “So, just like an old style Facebook.”

We were very much amused by this and all laughed in unison. Radio can be full of amusement for all ages.






Category: The Last Word