Age concern!

Amateur Radio has been struggling to attract and retain younger enthusiasts for years...why?
  • For kids, it seems like a longwinded alternative to cellphones, WhatsApp and Skype
  • Competition for attention from computer games
  • Competition for attention from social media
  • License exam requires (some) commitment  - and an attention span
  • Suggestions? Please email your ideas, thoughts and observations to )
And if you are already licensed...
  • Space and planning problems locating antennas
  • Not enough political value in AmRad
  • for politicians to sort out noise from DSL, SMPS etc
  • Politicians will always trade RFI for broadband
  • Clusters, bad manners, pileups 
  • "Compelling content": what do you talk about once you have covered the equipment and antenna in use?


If you are typical "50-70 something" radio amateur, the future is not your kids...

You probably failed to get your kids interested in the face of  distractions from computing and online, so we now have to skip a generation and get to the grandchildren before they get addicted to pointless games.

I started giving my 5 y/o grandson "proper" tools the moment he showed any aptitude. Taking stuff apart to see how stuff worked (and almost putting it back together again...) was what got me started.

There is none of the fascination  listening to SW Radio that drew many into the hobby up to the 90s; YouTube is impossible competition.

The "maker" route is probably now the best way in - and a radio is an essential, so one of the many RTL SDR kits (from £20 ish) is probably next, with a refurbished laptop or Minix NEO w10.

Yes, it ain't cheap, but if we want to kept in our dotage, then enthusing, engaging and training the next generation of engineers and techs is a vital investment.

The first antenna noise reports - please use these examples as a guide when collecting data...


Please email via the address on my QRZ entry



Quick ref resources

RSGB Check list:

I am experiencing interference


The growing menace of RFI:

If we don't tackle it, politicians and Ofcom won't.

This must become another eco-campaign alongside climate change and plastic pollution. One BIG difference is that we can show "ordinary" people the indisputable effects of this pollution menace on their lives - very simply in their own homes.


Radio spectrum NOISE! A serious and growing issue afflicting all radio... EVERYWHERE

* Check out yb1ibm's Jakata noise challenge
* Be alarmed at
G8JNJ's evidence of an ADSL noise cover up
* Be alarmed at G4AMT's further evidence
 of ADSL cabinet noise
* IARU watches wireless charging technology

* METECC reveals more LED lamp horrors
* The menace of Power Line Internet adapters is covered here
* Jingcheng HBC-03 battery charger - named and shamed

* Various EU reports from the JOINT CROSS-BORDER EMC MARKET
* Report on the 7th Joint Cross-Border EMC/LVD Market Surveillance Campaign on LED floodlights (2017)

Man-made noise on HF and increasingly VHF is a major problem facing all radio reception; but Ofcom and the government appear to think it's OK to abandon analogue (mw-lw-sw-fm) radio as the task of tackling RFI has got out of control. And don 't imagine it does not afflict digital radio and TV as well - it does, but it in different less obvious ways.

Noise from bad SMPS and DSL overhead cables are the biggies, and I am looking to gather as much information as possible here. Please let me have anything that you think might help. My own recent experiences are covered in this nearly unbelievable tale of BT and Openreach dishonesty and stupidity.

There is also a very useful site "sigidwiki" that documents and describes (with spectrum photos  and recordings) a large number (335) of different types of digital signal - many of which probably sound like interference at first encounter - here are just 3.... OTH Russian "Kontayner" ...  STANAG 4415 ... and a Hyundai Mobis RKE-4F16 Wireless Key Fob!

One of the most improbable yet tricky manifestations of rogue RF interference is when a car remote alarm won't work unless you place the alarm fob right up against the window. And occasionally even that might not work. Which could be a real pain....

And already this very issue has touched a nerve with kj6vcm: "It's funny [you] mention that - the key fob to lock/unlock my car won't work at night! I found out that the Sodium Vapor lamp above my garage causes this very problem. I wish I could put up a different lighting system, but I am not the owner"

You would not put up with it if your neighbour called round and defecated on your doorstep, so why do you allow them to pollute your spectrum space?  RF Noise is a big and antisocial menace that we all need to tackle before it gets completely out of control. Watch this site for more info..!!


 This is a video of the PowerPoint presentation
on the subject of noise, and what can be done to combat it.



 DL9KCE demonstrates LED light bulb noise (2011)

Some are innocuous, many are not...


Ham Radio stuff
Work in Progress - 0v8- Apr 2019
I am sorry it's mostly one long page - I will get around to a better layout eventually.

April 2019 Notes

A brief  update -

My energy is now focused on the NewsScape project and the hamradio.newsscape channel - initially on the Facebook platform.

I would like to remind you all that BT/Openreach is not our friend - there is a nice summary of some more recent Openreach nonsense and dishonesty:

BT & Openreach - the grisliest double act since Burke and Hare


April 2018 Notes

Age concern remains a frequent topic, but one that won't go away. I arrived back in the hobby in 2016 after a 35 years absence - just when everyone is saying conditions are dead, a Maunder Minimum is coming, the hobby is fading away along with the ham population - as it is impossible to get any kids interested. Ergo Ham Radio is facing extinction.

Alarmingly, I find the average age of an active operator seems to be 50-60, and there are NO members under 30 in the local clubs. And barely any under 50. The changes in the past 35 years are summed up easily: morse became optional; the tech qualification is less academic but more drawn out, we have more digital modes; more bands; less construction; same lack of things to talk about (which is fine for ft8...), "sport radio", clusters and pile ups.

The hobby seems reluctant to accept that the prime motivator to keep participants actively engaged has always been and remains gathering contacts (QSL) and ticking off lists (WAB) - so let's focus on making thataspect more accessible, less of a chore and less arcane. And that seems to be what the combination of FT8 and has done.

This looks like the single most significant motivator to turn up in a long time.

Notwithstanding, the arrival of a rare DX call can drag all manner of slumbering hams out of the SSB woodwork to shout at each other for hours on end. But then most disappear back into the woodwork until the next DXped.

Operational issues are not quite the same: TVI is more difficult for neighbours to spot - interference from their CRTs has gone. But Interference from nasty cheap SMPS devices (especially mains LED bulbs) is a growing menace. Ofcom now flogs off spectrum to a dodgy cabal of cellular network operators who have made fortunes from reaming their confused customers (£500/Mbyte for SMS data not so long ago) in order to pay silly prices for spectrum - mostly so that Facebook and Google can invade your privacy more comprehensively and rapidly when hoovering personal data and privacy.

Protect and Survive

Our politicians are trying to shut down analogue radio, since the analogue TV switchover went OK, and they got to flog the spectrum. But there are other considerations! Especially now we appear to have a new cold war to deal with. But there is no evidence of a basic civil defence strategy for a resilient broadcast/comms infrastructure in the event of mass disruption. A nerve agent like Novachok fed into the aircon of a very few buildings would completely cripple the UK's communications fro months.

If HMG goes ahead with the current emergency service comms plan using the consumer cell "network", the ham population could well be the only group in the country (other than our fast vanishing army) able to set up and communicate nationally and internationally at the drop of a hat.

Keep those batteries charged, chaps. And maybe disconnect antennas each session, in case of EMP....

The DCMS and Home Office should now be telling local councils to assist local hams to get their antennas up with no planning hassle.



Some tales of how we got started in ham radio ...

...and also
Many Happy Returners!
tales of hams coming back after "doing life"


Then and now....

Amateur radio has lost all the “entry points” that got kids like me interested back in the day.

Many of us (aged 50+) were given a radio as a present, and got fascinated and sucked in by the “magic” of listening to things going on in far away places – and hearing hams talking normally – not as broadcasters.

But if you give a modern 10 year old a short wave radio, it's quite likely that he/she will sell it on eBay to buy a new Xbox game or cell phone.

Most kids think we are just doing Skype the hard way – so the first thing I feel we have to do is establish that ham radio is a hobby – not an alternative communication system (except "off grid" in emergencies) and it also is a collector hobby like so many others. We might also go on about ham radio being an original social network..?

The recordings here are nearly all edits of off-air impromptu sessions, where the "communication" quality and various accompanying noises and distortions are authentic. They can sound very thin on a cellphone speaker, but this site is relatively phone and tablet friendly.

My thanks to all those who are taking part.


Some early "take aways" from this survey are listed here : "How we got going...."


I began this project with the observation that "Amateur Radio is the same hobby as fishing...” and I will now modify that: it is also nearly the same hobby as mountain climbing... we (hams) do things that most outside the hobby would regards as pointless, simply for the challenge - and the pursuit of achievement and fulfilment; and sometimes we even do it when roped together in teams. 

I explore the mountaineer analogy here - but I still maintain fishing has perfect parallels...

We all now have cellphones for day-to-day communication. Although once a considerable pioneering force for radio development, much amateur radio now has rather less to do with innovation in communication than leisure - except in an emergency, when the robust amateur radio service may well be the only viable communication option available - for anything from emergency local nets (RAENET) to intercontinental communications. The delicate support infrastructure of cellphone and modern broadcasting has an unnerving reliance on internet and datacomm link services being available 24x7x365 - so modern broadcast and communication systems are very easily compromised by any outage along the chain of dependence by "situations" natural and man made, including flood, earthquake, storms, meteor strike (it is going to happen sometime!) and acts of terrorism... including hacking and errant N Korean missiles...

This report from Southgate illustrates the point well: Hurricanes shine light on emergency communications

When not saving the world from the foolishness of its dependence on a fragile communication system that is now a series of easily disrupted dependencies, radio enthusiasts sharpen their skills by testing and proving the extremes of their (private) communication capabilities - and several million (worldwide) qualified and licensed operators "cast their lines",  looking to hook and land contacts from around the world, in much the same way that most hobby fisherman fish for fun, and still buy their cod at the fishmonger; so we also tend to have cellphones and use the internet. So now please consider:--

  • Fishing has 8% global participation (~500m) – and is 2nd in lists of the most popular participant pastimes - after reading and ahead of sewing.

  • Many different types of fish to go after: Country prefixes, islands, special event callsigns etc.

  • Different fishing grounds – the different frequency bands.

  • Size matters!  DX contact distance varies with frequency - on shortwave or "HF", generally over 3000 miles, on VHF, over 60 miles is generally considered an achievement - but always the bigger/further the better! 

  • Different tackle for different fish - everything from home made lashups to wildly expensive commercial rigs.

  • Exploring experimental techniques (jt9 etc) that commercial operators might overlook.

  • Different fishing seasons, and not just the 11year sunspot cycle. eg Reliable daily 20m longpath to VK and ZL in June/July/August

  • Feeding frenzies - clusters when a DX station is spotted and flagged on the internet.

  • The conditions are everything, and when they are biting hard, a monkey can reel them in. But when they are playing hard to get, experience, skill and perseverance are required.

  • FT8 is simply fly fishing. You cast a call into the stream, and watch for a bite. Sometimes the channel gets crowded and then you need to recast into a clear spot. You can end up chasing an incomplete contact up and down the band - and just like the challenging fish you have to play to land, eventually gaffing an elusive ft8 QSO is extremely satisfying.

  • Skilled operators can use a bootlace, bent pin and worm - greedy and impatient types go fishing with dynamite.

  • There is far more satisfaction from playing and landing a tough catch then having them jump in the boat. (Although that's nice, occasionally...)

  • Listen to G3RJV hold forth on using low power (QRP), his arguments are very compelling.

  • Radio enthusiasts also hold ferociously competitive events ("sport radio"), and bending the rules in order to get an unfair advantage is not unknown. "We thought you said 200kW maximum power, not 200W..."

  • Plus of course, the hobby is full of all those stories of the ones that got away! Which you can now record and share ...


How did you get started in the radio hobby?

I am collecting stories from around the world to get enthusiasts to say - in their own words - how they became interested in the hobby. The stories are fascinating and there are many common themes emerging.

Amateur radio has lost nearly all the “entry points” that got kids like me interested back in the day..

Many of us (aged 50+) were given a radio as a present, and got fascinated and sucked in by the “magic” of listening to things going on in far away places – and hearing hams talking normally – not as broadcasters.

But iIf you give a modern 10 year old a short wave radio, he/she will sell it on eBay to buy a new Xbox game or cell phone.

Most of them think we are just doing Skype the hard way – so the first thing I feel we have to do is establish that ham radio is a hobby – not a communication system (except off grid in emergency, but that’s for later) and it is a collector hobby like so many others. We can go on about ham radio being the first leisure social network, but that’s a distraction in this context..

How I got started...

G3VCG, Don, tells his tale of early radio experimentation and enthusiasm which continues - see

Glen Holt, G8NOF... another one of us "mature" G8s making the most of being let loose on the spectrum and also rediscovering the joy of experimenting and construction

The Commonwealth flag is used in this list to indicate Commonwealth contacts - whatever your take on Brexit, it's now up to all of us in the Commonwealth of Nations to make it work - and what better way to start than than to revitalise Commonwealth links the EU forced the UK to abandon as a condition of entry.

VE3A0 @ G8CYK 2017-03-21T15-52-24Z
A61FK @ G8CYK   2017-03-21T21-27-01Z
yi3whr @ G8CYK   2017-03-23T15-59-22Z_
ea3/g8pl @ G8CYK   2017-03-23T19-35-51Z
pr7aa @ G8CYK   2017-03-26T19-40-45Z
s01ws @ G8CYK   2017-03-28T09-38-03Z
hq3c @ G8CYK   2017-03-28T21-33-51Z
5t2ai @ G8CYK   2017-03-29T17-40-15Z
w1zy @ G8CYK   2017-03-29T20-55-47Z
w2re @ G8CYK   2017-03-29T22-02-34Z
yb0js @ G8CYK   017-03-30T14-46-02Z
kb1hy @ G8CYK   2017-03-31T21-09-15Z
vk4fw @ G8CYK 2017-04-01T13-49-54Z
5b4ahl @ G8CYK 2017-04-02T12-36-16Z
yb0ibm @ G8CYK   2017-04-02T15-30-53Z
zl1rq @ G8CYK 2017-04-06T11-01-28Z
fm1hn @ G8CYK   2017-04-08T00-00-24Z
kp2xx @ G8CYK   017-04-09T00-57-06Z
ke5ee @ G8CYK   2017-04-10T13-49-55Z
n4gnr @ G8CYK   2017-04-11T18-58-04Z
9y4d @ G8CYK 2017-04-11T22-05-56Z
py2dy @ G8CYK   2017-04-14T12-48-44Z_
8p6nw @ G8CYK 2017-04-16T21-51-03Z
d1dx @ G8CYK   2017-04-17T20-57-53Z
a92gr @ G8CYK   2017-04-23T10-22-30Z
jy4ci @ G8CYK   2017-04-23T18-57-20Z
v51ww @ G8CYK 2017-04-25T18-40-09Z
cr20mdc @ G8CYK   2017-04-25T19-39-18Z
9k2od @ G8CYK   2017-04-25T22-48-58Z
ny2po @ G8CYK   2017-04-26T19-51-54Z
yv5eni @ G8CYK   2017-04-26T20-18-58Z
zs6bns @ G8CYK 2017-04-27T16-15-58Z
7z1tt @ G8CYK   2017-04-27T18-38-11Z
v51dm @ G8CYK 2017-05-01T16-35-43Z
vk3mo @ G8CYK 2017-05-01T18-30-04Z
7l4vyk @ G8CYK   2017-05-04T13-02-36Z
pz1el @ G8CYK   2017-05-04T23-34-15Z
jh3ngd @ G8CYK   2017-05-04T23-34-15Z
vy2bm @ G8CYK 2017-05-07T01-03-39Z
jh1ajt @ G8CYK   2017-05-07T12-13-09Z
vu2mje @ G8CYK 2017-05-07T16-34-04Z
co6hlp @ G8CYK   2017-05-09T23-44-24Z
3b9fr @ G8CYK   2017-05-10T15-30-41Z
kp3ze @ G8CYK   2017-05-10T21-46-01Z
cs8abj @ G8CYK   2017-05-10T21-46-01Z
9q6bb@ G8CYK   2017-05-12T18-31-30Z
ji1hac@ G8CYK   2017-05-14T10-03-42Z
co6lc@ G8CYK   2017-05-16T23-07-13Z
e31a @ G8CYK   2017-05-19T20-28-22Z
yv1kk @ G8CYK   2017-05-23T22-41-54Z
v53dx @ G8CYK 2017-05-24T18-41-20Z
pj4dx @ G8CYK   2017-05-24T22-31-37Z
d44two @ G8CYK   2017-05-27T17-35-33Z
fg4nn @ G8CYK   2017-05-27T21-42-51Z
e44we @ G8CYK   2017-05-28T19-20-53Z
4z5pg @ G8CYK   2017-06-02T19-16-54Z
lu5fc @ G8CYK   2017-06-02T21-13-54Z
fm5dn @ G8CYK   2017-06-05T22-32-39Z
zl3oz @ G8CYK 2017-06-08T21-32-57Z
JR7TKG @ G8CYK   2017-06-09T22-21-12Z
jh1occ @ G8CYK   22017-06-10T14-48-32Z
a41nn @ G8CYK   2017-04-08T16-58-40Z
w3pr @ G8CYK   2017-04-08T16-58-40Z
vp8lp @ G8CYK 2017-06-16T18-50-15Z
zd7ft &zd7vc @ G8CYK 2017-06-16T18-50-15Z
8p6fx @ G8CYK 2017-06-29T21-00-00Z
b9hq@ G8CYK   2017-07-08T17-41-43Z
zp5bvk@ G8CYK   2017-07-08T20-43-38Z
zf1a@ G8CYK 2017-07-09T00-58-45Z
vk4-g1rnb @ G8CYK 2017-07-16T16-01-56Z
tz4pr @ G8CYK   2017-07-24T21-14-25Z
hi3k @ G8CYK   2017-07-24T22-20-03Z
w6lg @ G8CYK   2017-07-31T18-22-23Z
p40x @ G8CYK   2017-08-05T17-32-56Z
zs6djd @ G8CYK 2017-08-09T17-25-18Z
ty2cd @ G8CYK   2017-04-09T20-18-09Z
za_z62fb @ G8CYK   2017-08-22T19-37-05Z
cx2ra @ G8CYK   2017-08-26T19-33-41Z
vx7150 @ G8CYK 2017-08-29T17-22-05Z
e23xot @ G8CYK   2017-08-31T14-14-49Z
9j2bo @ G8CYK 2017-09-01T15-00-14Z
ds3exx @ G8CYK   2017-09-01T15-00-14Z
v85t @ G8CYK 2017-09-16T15-05-46Z
3da0tm @ G8CYK 2017-09-18T17-31-48Z
6y5ic @ G8CYK 2017-09-23T19-57-23Z
ym1kd @ G8CYK   2017-09-24T13-10-11Z
3b9fr@ G8CYK   2017-05-26T16-05-33
fr4pv@ G8CYK   2017-10-01T16-54-17Z
a5a@ G8CYK   2017-10-06T17-00-10Z
hk0rmr@ G8CYK   2017-10-07T21-38-56Z
s9yy@ G8CYK   2017-10-08T16-41-54Z_
fr4qk@ G8CYK   2017-10-09T13-35-22Z
5z4-iw5bbv @ G8CYK 2017-09-23T19-57-23Z
vk7vz@ G8CYK 2017-10-17T19-58-50Z
ey7ad@ G8CYK   2017-10-19T10-50-27Z
du1-ja3fje@ G8CYK   2017-10-19T11-04-22Z
xt2aw@ G8CYK   2017-10-24T16-02-49Z
6w1ql@ G8CYK   2017-10-25T10-18-27Z
kh7xs@ G8CYK   2017-10-25T15-56-15Z
bd7bm@ G8CYK   2017-10-26T09-15-25Z
fy5ke@ G8CYK   2017-10-27T13-39-49Z
vp2mdg@ G8CYK 2017-10-29T16-24-08Z
jr5jaq @ G8CYK   2017-11-03T21-06-58Z
vu2yvk@ G8CYK 2017-11-04T16-34-59Z
t6-iz1cck@ G8CYK   2017-11-05T12-56-05Z
ve6cmv @ G8CYK 2017-11-05T15-23-30Z
yb3rps @ G8CYK   2017-11-10T13-56-47Z
j5t @ G8CYK   2017-11-14T16-36-57Z
9u4m @ G8CYK   2017-11-14T11-55-40Z
fk4qx @ G8CYK   2017-11-16T08-28-17Z
9g5w @ G8CYK   2017-11-24T11_42-17Z
9l-kw4xj @ G8CYK   2017-12-12T09_03_56Z
su1as @ G8CYK   2017-12-12T09_03_56Z
zc4a @ G8CYK 2018-01-25T19_23_17Z
w6fdr @ G8CYK   2018-02-13T15_15_27Z
v47ja @ G8CYK 2018-02-16T17_21_47Z
9x0ta @ G8CYK   2018-02-16T17_21_47Z
s79ld @ G8CYK 2018-06-24T16-43-00Z
jh7xrz @ G8CYK   2018-10-17T08-35-00Z
vi3lwf @ G8CYK 2018-11-05T13-35-54Z


How I got started....started.....

Our thanks to Steve Reichlyn, AA4V, for
sharing his experiences - and providing proof G8CYK is a terrible DX callsign to convey!

Back on the straight and narrow...

As a young tearaway - Steve Richards, now the "voice of WAB on 80m", G4HPE - had the perfect inspirational story of his engagement with radio, including a very creative community "sentence" for over enthusiasm!


K8NY - Bob from West Virginia, tells how he got started and remains a keen operator - and looking for conversations, not just signal reports.

G8DET, John Bowen holding a picture of a moon landing - which is somewhat poignant when you hear his tale of how he got going...

G3TPWfirst of a series of tales of derring do....

We nail it. Sort of...

G0TPZ (Kev) assisted by G7HFS and G0MGA make a terrific contribution on a 60m Saturday morning encounter.


Ray, W2RE, denizen of 20m and all HF atop one of his many towers in Maine. (An "Elmer" is US parlance for a tech mentor.)


w2aat tells his story, with a big fish...



Bob Tokley, G4MDB, one of Chelmsford's many Marconi alumni