Amateur Radio Section

My call sign is G7HZQ and I have been licenced now since August 1991. To obtain my licence I have passed the Radio Amateurs Exam (R.A.E.) which is a City and Guilds qualification. Many amateurs also go on to take a voluntary morse code test, where a speed of at least 12 words per minute is required. A pass in this allows the complete radio frequency spectrum to be used (Class A licence) whilst a Class B licence holder is restricted to frequencies of 50MHz and above. This does not mean that I am restricted to the local area by any means. I have contacted Europe on both 2m (144MHz) and 70cm (430MHz) on minimal power. My best contact to date was talking to a Belgium station on 70cm whilst I was on the way home from work one evening! It was made even more special due to the use my end of a glass mount aerial on the rear windscreen.

Packet Radio

My main interest in Ham Radio is packet radio. This is where the transmitter/reciever is connected to a computer by a special modem called a TNC (Terminal Node Controller). If you can imagine a huge computer network, but without wires connecting each computer and many users all sharing the same frequency you will then have a good idea of what it is all about.

Information is passed around by bulletin board systems, and it is possible to send the packet equivalent of an email to any where in the world. My local BBS, where I am a remote Sysop, is GB7ZPU and is 8 miles from my home location. Using a radio on 70cm (430MHz) I communicate with the BBS as if it were down the end of the telephone line. If you are also an amateur licence holder and have packet radio facilities, please send me a message at G7HZQ@GB7ZPU.#21.GBR.EU.

As well as the sysop work I run a packet based Fantasy Formula 1 motor racing League, and an FF1 Prediction Championship. If you would like to have a go in entering drop me a line either by packet or email. Note as this is really a packet based competition then preferrence will be given to those making the initial contact by packet radio, followed by those with ham licences.

I have designed quite a few Windows icons for Ham Radio over the last year and sent them out over the GBR packet network to recieve some kind favourable comments. One of them was from Roger G4IDE who has become legendary over the last year as the author of an excellent Packet Radio programme called Winpack. He asked if he could use them and if I could develope a dedicated icon for the programme, which I was honoured to do.

The general rig icons are available here along with some others for you to look at and down load for your own use if you wish.

Packet Radio Links

Tucson Amateur Packet Radio (TAPR) group
UK Packet Radio User's Home Page
G4IDE's Winpack Homepage
G0RRW's Winpack Homepage
Macquarie University Amateur-Radio/Internet Gateway Sydney, Australia

Weather Satellite Reception

The other real keen area of Ham Radio I am interested in is reception of weather satellite images direct from the satellites themselves. There are two different types of satellites sending information to the Earth.


The geostationary satellites remain in a geosynchronous orbit above the same point of the Earth, and thus give pictures of the same spot on the Earth 24 hours a day. The pictures shown here are from the European Meteosat geostationary satellite. Pictures are sent back to Earth of the same area at periodic intervals and these may then be used to create an animated sequence showing the weather patterns. It is probable that the weather reports you see on TV are generated from this type of satellite transmission.

Europe from Meteosat

The frequency which the Meteosat satellite transmits upon is around 1.8GHz and thus I use a 1m dish to recieve the signals. The feed from the dish is locally converted to 137MHz and then sent to my weather satellite receiver. The audio output is then fed into a weather fax card in my PC which runs a custom programme to decode the signals.

Europe from Meteosat

Polar Orbitting

The polar orbiter gets its name because it orbits the Earth several times a day, and thus pass over head at only certain times. This invariably requires patience or a prediction programme to determine when the next/best pass will be.

There are many different satellites in this class but the most popular are the American NOAA and the Russian Meteor. The NOAA type pass around morning and afternoon or mid day and mid night depending on which ones you monitor. The most popular frequency for monitoring these satellites is around 137MHz.

Europe from NOAA

Notice from the above picture that it is much higher resolution and clearer than the Meteosat pictures due to the satellite being much closer to the ground (serveral hundred miles rather than 22,000!). Also a geostationary satellite is viewing Europe at an angle whilst a polar orbiter sees everything perpendicular on.

Weather Satellite Links

Mike Robinsons' home page
Remote Imaging Group
Satellite Imagery FAQ
Space Monitoring Information Support (SMIS) of the Russian Space Research Institute (IKI)

For really cool Ham Radio links (that is a real conflicting statement if ever I have heard one!) try these.....


American Radio Relay League (ARRL)
Radio Society of Great Britain
United Kingdom Radio Society


Ham Radio Online

Equipment Manufacturers

Icom UK
Ten Tec


Lowe Electronics
Maplin Electronics
Martin Lynch
Siskins Electronics
Walters and Stanton

Other links of interest

Listing of UK ham radio pages

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Page last updated 28th March 1998.
Copyright © 1996/7/8 Steve Breen