From M7JHR to G5LUX via 2E0LXQ
I’m Jonathan & I started my radio journey back in the 1980s with a CB radio – like many others back then. My first rig (and only) was a Major 3000 that was £69 when it was released in 1981 – the equivalent of around £250 in today’s prices; I must have been crazy. But the rig was legal, using the CB27/81 bands available with a £10 licence from the Post Office. My handle was ‘Space Rat’ and I talked all over the Upminster/Cranham area using a simple dipole attached to the front of our house, or taking the rig mobile in my Mk1 Ford Escort (very Essex) with a mag mount antenna on the boot lid.
When CB fell out of fashion in the late 80s, I got rid of my CB equipment when I moved out of home for University. I still regret that (mainly because old rigs in good condition are saleable items on eBay).
I rekindled my interest in radio during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, when I discovered the RSGB radio exams had all moved online. I took my Foundation licence after studying with the EssexHam online course (highly recommended) in January of 2021, and then moved onto Intermediate with the Online Amateur Radio Community, who have an excellent study group system to support self-study. I passed that exam at the end of March 2021 then started on the full course in August. This is a big step up from Intermediate: the first two levels of the exams expect a fair amount of recall of basic principles; when you get to the Full licence, the emphasis is on understanding those principles and the questions reflect that. I passed that exam at the end of December 2021, so have now reached the limit of the theory: everything from this point will be practice.
In my day job, I am a lighting designer, which gives me an excuse to experiment with all sorts of wiring, electronics and control systems. You can see my design work at DHA Designs, the company I co-own with four other lighting designers.
My amateur radio interests are low-powered devices – handhelds and QRP: I don’t have room for complex & permanent antenna arrays and no properly adaptable space in the house for a radio shack. I need to be inventive & keep things portable/packable for the time being. To help in this, I have joined the low-power radio society, GQRP, which is a great way to learn about squeezing every gram of radio usage out of a tiny output power (low power is defined as 5W or less, or 10W if using single side band – SSB) .
The website is named after my first amateur callsign at Foundation level; in the UK, much like the US, an amateur passes through three levels of exams: Foundation, Intermediate & Full. The idea is that each builds on the previous stage, requiring more study to unlock greater privileges like output power, or more frequencies to experiment with. It’s a good system, but there’s already a move for a single exam (direct-to-full) for those who have the requisite technical knowledge to make it possible.