The club, the mobile tour and Tommy – John Heys G3BDQ

The ‘disjointed notes’ supplied in the July issue of VS by ‘Jakey’ G3JKY stirred a few memories for me. I was one of the seven Founder Members of the Post-War Hastings Amateur Radio Club. Today I am the sole survivor…. I was the Treasurer for all its 14 years life so know something of what the amateur radio scene in Hastings looked like in those days. It became moribund in the 1960’s by which time the Committee had tired  and none of the members would agree to take office.

A small Expedition Group of four decided to put the club ‘on the map’ and activate some of the rarer counties on Top Band.  In those days there was great kudos in working all counties of the UK on 160 metres so I was recruited into the planning, and later the actual expedition. I built a compact crystal controlled transmitter (valved of course) which could push out 40 watts of RF on 160, 80 and 40 metres AM phone and CW. My HRO was the main receiver and Bill Thomson G3MQT took along a multi-band KW AM/CW transmitter. G3HRI John Taplin and an SWL (later a licensed amateur – I forget the name) made up the rest of the party. We used a Standard saloon car and a 15 cwt van and set off one cold spring morning in the late 1950’s from where the fountain roundabout now lies just past Woolworths.

I did a full write up of the trip for Short Wave Magazine and I understand it was the very first DXpedition following the granting of British Mobile Licences. First stop was Rutland, then to Wolverhampton Club and Solihul Club on the way to Wales. I was the CW operator and from about 7 p.m. each evening faced the ‘pile-ups’. We also worked phone for the non-CW types. I kept a sked each night with G6QB ‘Tommy’ then living in the outskirts of Bexhill. One night we could not find a suitable common or field so a 130 ft. wire was slung over telephone lines by the roadside. This gave us S7 in Bexhill. On the return route we were entertained by the Cardiff Club and after leaving maintained a phone QSO with one of their members until we passed Gloucester.

On the way out at the start we also held a phone QSO (daylight) with G6QB as far as Lewisham. I used a 4 ft. loaded whip made from Fibre-glass which I had made which sat on the car roof. The output valve of the TX used a 12 volt heater version of the 807 and other valves were wired series parallel to suit a 12 volt supply. 300 ft. wires slung into 50 ft. trees allowed big signals from G6HH/P

I must correct John Ridd G6BQX regarding ‘Tommy’ G6QB. I was a close friend of Tommy from the 1940’s up to his untimely death in 1966 and inherited his gear and paperwork. I have the articles published in the News Chronicle (May 4th 1933) and the Daily Herald (22nd July 1933). I can assure John that Tommy operated from the top of the old Crystal Palace Tower before the destructive fire that destroyed the Palace not long after. I have a photo of him adjusting the TX  on top of the North Tower and a large photo of him typically pipe in mouth holding the actual 5 metre TX used ( push pull LS5’s as self excited power oscillator). Tommy was never a true VHF man and soon reverted to his beloved DX bands. The success of the Crystal Palace/aeroplane contacts and reports of the signals resulted in the BBC choosing 7 metres for their Alexander Palace TV transmissions in 1936.

One of Tommy’s ‘characters’ in his regular SWM Dx Commentary columns was Arabackle Oblifork. I resurrected this gentleman for my published story about his plan to overload and break down the ionosphere to combat Hitler. Another character was the twit with the callsign G9BF. He ran 1KW with raw AC (2KV) on the anode of his power oscillator on 20 metres.

Finally I have some real treasure – QSL cards from Tommy for a contact with Dud Charman G6CJ from Crystal Palace Tower on 21st May 1933. The TX ran 10 watts input to a Windom (vertical) antenna. G6CJ was QSA4 R4 and T8. The second card is from G5CV to G6CJ and is endorsed ‘SPECIAL PLANE RECEPTION TEST’ on 56 MHz (then Mc). This was on May 21st 1933 between 1120 and 1230. There was a QSO and G6CJ received QSA5 R9 Tone I.C.W. with FB mod. G5CV wrote -“Ur sigs wr hrd up to distance of about 60 miles from London whilst I was flying in a plane in NE direction – easy to read thru ignition QRM”.

John G3BDQ – September 1995.

Return to the index of Vital Spark articles or you may like to look at a selection of John Hey’s interesting and quite rare QSL cards.

G3MGQ’s Month on the Air

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Vital Spark Archive

Vital Spark newsletter articles

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Used Ham Radio Equipment

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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
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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