1969: I went on a school trip to the Science Museum in London. Wandering around with my friend Sam we came across the Communication Exhibition that also included the amateur radio station GB2SM. We chatted to the person in charge and at that exact moment, I decided I wanted to get my license.
Jump forward a few years and I was studying for the technical exam assisted by my science teacher Tim Doe. I applied to take the exam at the local Technical College in Norwich. I was at boarding school so Tim Doe took me to the exam in his car. I assumed that he would just wait for me to do the exam then take me back to school. I was quite surprised when he too came into the room to also take the exam. As I recall questions on Superhet radio, Propagation, Linear Amplifiers, and the license and frequencies.
Some weeks later the results arrived and I had passed. Tim Doe had failed! I got my ‘B’ Licence G8IAX. The next task was to do a morse code test. This proved quite difficult, I studied for years and I just was not getting it. I discovered many years later that morse and music are linked, if you are musical then morse is easy. I am tone deaf and music is opaque to me.
In 1979 I built my first computer (Z80 and 4K RAM) and I wrote a program that sent morse code. After a whole year of practice, I considered I was in with a chance of passing the test so I went to the Radio Station at Mablethorpe and took the test. I passed but it was more of a fluke than any skill on my part.
At this point, I decided that when I got my ‘A’ class license I wanted a callsign with consecutive letters of the alphabet. I had just missed G4KLM so I applied and waited for G4LMN to be issued. Nearly a year later my license arrived. I had not really thought this through as G4LMN does not really trip nicely off the tongue. It’s fine in phonetics, Lima Mike November, and it’s not too bad in morse. The other problem is my name is a bit clumsy in morse, I did consider using my school nickname of Doc but instead chose to use an abbreviation of my middle name, so on the air I have (mostly) been Ron.
Jump forward a few more years, the late 1980s the Science Museum was looking for suitably qualified staff for the Radio Communication Exhibition. I applied and was accepted, so I worked part-time at the museum talking to visitors and operating the station GB2SM. The whole saga had come full circle.