Ron's half century on the airwaves
A "Ham radio" enthusiast celebrated 50 years on the airwaves by taking part in an international competition at the weekend.
Amateur radio operator Ron Stone – radio callsign GW3YDX – operates from Four Crosses near Oswestry, just over the Shropshire/Welsh border.
He is a regular competitor in international ham radio competitions, having achieved several World and European score records using Morse code and set a world record last year.
Although Morse was used commercially for over 100 years it has now been superseded by satellite systems using voice and data transmissions. However, Ron said that amongst the world's three million ham radio enthusiasts, 80,000 of those in the UK, a good proportion of them still use Morse code to chat to each other and also in competitions.
He said that the competitions were often quite gruelling events with his favourite contest,the “CQ Worldwide International DX Contest” that took place Saturday and Sunday, lasting 48 hours.
The scoring system is based on the number of contacts achieved multiplied by the number of countries contacted.
"Last year 8121 entries were received from places as diverse as Easter Island in the Pacific, and Jan Mayen in the Arctic. There were entrants from nearly every country in the world, the only country where amateur radio is still not permitted being North Korea," he said.
"To achieve a good score one has to operate for as many of those 48 hours as possible putting out “CQ” calls, replying to answers, and searching the tuning dial for new countries," he said.
"When I was younger I could tough it out and not sleep at all, now in my 70's I am slowing down. However I find I can operate for about 40 hours and sleep for just eight."
He said copious quantities of coffee and walking around every two hours were essential to maintain concentration and stretch the legs.
Last year Ron's own entry on the 80M waveband achieved world first place, setting a new world record for that entry class, making 1943 contacts with radio amateurs in 113 countries.
"The hobby as uniquely accessible. I have several blind and mobility-limited radio ham friends who find their disabilities do not stand at all in the way of participating. Morse code particularly is perfect for blind enthusiasts who are often musically-gifted, and who enjoy the 'music' of Morse too."
He said he wanted to thank Phil and Sue Davies for permitting him to use their land at Gornal Farm for special low-noise receiving antennas during his competitions.
UK radio-hams are represented by their national society, the Radio Society of Great Britain, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2013. The RSGB website is at www.rsgb.org.
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