The Story Behind the card #28 – The First RSGB National Field Day

Early in 1933 the Society President H. Bevan Swift G2TI suggested an annual Field Day event which it was hoped would stimulate a little competition between Affiliated Clubs and Societies and which might also prove useful as training in case they were needed to assist in any future emergency.   His vision was of truly portable battery powered stations that could be carried in a couple of suitcases.   Council warmed to G2TIs idea and right away planned for a Field Day event to take place over the first weekend in June of that year.   The few rules were hurriedly framed thus leaving inevitable ‘loopholes’ that waited to be exploited by contestants.

A power limit of 50 watts was agreed, a generous power limit at that time and each club was allowed two stations, an ‘A’ station to operate only on 1.7 and 3.5 mHz and a second ‘B’ station on 7 and 14 mHz.   The country was divided into 18 RSGB Districts and working portables in them would gain extra contest points.   There were no aerial restrictions and the portable stations could be set up well in advance of the Contest date.   All transmissions were to be in Morse Code and no equipment could be powered from a mains supply.

The winners were the West London Group in District 15 which made a total of 364 points and second place was Glasgow with 357 points.  Edinburgh only had an ‘A’ station but came third with 209 points.   The West London team included a gaggle of leading and well known amateurs including G6WZ, G6YK, G5CV (Doug Walters the 5 metre DX man) G2UV (Uncle Vic reputed to have invented the QSL card) G6CJ (Dud Charman) and G6JP (George Jessop the airborne 5 metre chap).   The West London gang sent their ‘A’ station miles away into the hills but their ‘B’ station was craftily sited at Northolt where the Post Office had just closed down its station GKB and had left in situ a couple of lattice masts that had been reduced in height to 150 feet and also a row of 75 ft poles with insulators at their tops.

The RAF was going to take over the site for its ‘Met’ station (Call sign GFV) but G6JP managed to get permission to use the lattice masts and poles that remained.   The ‘Antenna Wizard’ Dud Charman G6CJ A Professional Aerial engineer supervised the erection of two dipoles each fed with 600 ohm impedance open wire ‘ladder line’.

The 40 metre antenna was up at 150 feet and the 20 metre dipole hung at a mere 75 feet.   The ‘B’ station had plenty of spares including a stock of LS5B transmitting valves (thank you Mr. Mullard)  numerous car batteries, 1000 yards of telephone wire, a rotary converter for the HT supply ad even an employee from G6JPs work place to do the cooking and other domestic chores.   On both bands some fantastic (for that time) DX was worked and ZL marvelled at the strength of the West Londoner’s signals.

As was expected, when the dust settled and the entrant’s scores, were published there were groans and complaints from disgruntled clubs highly critical of what they called the ‘unethical aerials’.   This loophole was securely closed when the rules for the 1934 and later NFDs were framed and a maximum antenna height of 45 feet was mandatory.

The Field Day in 1934 gave clubs enough time to get special QSL cards printed for the event one of which is illustrated.   I have never seen a card confirming a contact in the 1933 NFD. Today’s NFD entrants work more stations during the first twenty minutes of the contest than the total number worked by the West London Group 73 years ago.

John Heys (G3BDQ) – February 2006.

Return to the index of Vital Spark articles.


g3bdq-signature john-heys-g6gz-g2nh


G3MGQ’s Month on the Air

Prepared by the clubs RSGB trainer, G3MGQ, you will find the latest DX contests including the ones to shoot for as well as ones to give a wide berth. Why not download the latest edition of Month on the Air and enjoy your DX just that little bit more.

Become a member of HERC

Join the Hastings Electronics and Radio Club.

Why not join one of the largest and most established Radio clubs in the South East of England? Very low joining cost, and free for a year to new licencees.

Vital Spark Archive

Vital Spark newsletter articles

Take a look through a large selection of articles written by club members over the years which have been published in the monthly Vital Spark newsletter .

Used Ham Radio Equipment

View HERC's Used Ham Radio Equipment for sale list..

Every four weeks, HERC's Used Ham Radio Equipment for sale list is updated on the site. Bookmark the gear for sale page to re-visit easily and take advantage of the used equipment on sale through the club.

Club Photographs

HERC Image Galleries.

Here is the official HERC photograph archive which contains multiple image galleries spanning several decades since the club was formed many years ago. Enjoy the images!

UK Amateur Radio Repeaters

UK repeaters

Click button above for full list, or a local repeater callsign below for info.

GB3EB 2m in Uckfield- Active
MB6EB 2m DStar Node in Eastbourne - Active
MB6RY Wires-X DigiGate in Broad Oak - Active
GB3HE 70cm in Hastings - Active
GB7HE 70cm DStar in Hastings - Coming soon
GB3ZX 70cm in Eastbourne - Low Power
GB3JT 23cm ATV in Hastings - NoV cleared
GB7RY 70cm X-Wires Repeater Rye - Active
GB7ES Eastbourne - DSTAR Rpt. - Active
GB3ES 2m in Hastings - Active

For a complete list of repeaters, head over to
the UK Amateur Radio repeaters list.

Popular pages

Get your amateur radio licence - Find out more about amateur radio licence training.
Month on the Air - G3MGQ's popular monthly DX contest/expedition list.
Wilf Gaye Memorial Cup - The clubs annual operating event in the memory of Wilf Gaye M0GYE.
St. Richard's College Buildathon/STEM/ARISS - HERC attends St. Richard's Catholic College for their various events surrounding the Tim Peake ARISS contact.
G3BDQ - John Hey's Rare QSL Cards.
Sussex Electronics Radio Fair - SERF Sussex Electronics Radio Fair 2016.
Vital Spark - A selection of articles re-published from the Vital Spark.
RSGB News - Find out how to get RSGB news on your mobile or PC.
Experimenters Corner - A selection of Proteus projects by Bob Gornal (G7DME)
BBADL - Bath Based Distance Learning Course.
Conquest Hospital Radio - Presented by HERC member Antony (G4CUS).
Radio Rallies 2016 - An up to date list of radio rallies scheduled for 2016.
Club QSL Cards - A selection of QSL cards the club has received over the years.
Other Newsletters - Excellent newsletters and magazines from other clubs.
TX Factor episodes - Take a look at the TX Factors YouTube videos.
John Taplin - A bio of the late John Taplin.

Amateur Radio Resources

Other Radio Clubs & RAYNET

BSARS - Brede Steam Amateur Radio Society

RAYNET - The Hastings and Rother RAYNET Group.

HERC members sites

Sigord - Gordon Sweet
Hastings Radio Comms - Andrew Haas-Campbell
Hoofbags - Liz Costa