A Brief History of the UKSMG

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Constitution of the UKSMG

UKSMG Strategy for
2002-2007

'Six News'...

Committee members and Country managers


 

 

Steve, G4JCC and Chris, G3WOS

 


It was autumn 1979 that enormous signals were heard on six metres in the UK from stations in North America and the Caribbean that fired the interest in the six metre band once again. Questions began to be asked in the UK about the possibility of obtaining permits for operation two-way on the band. At the peak of solar cycle18 permits had been issued to a number of leading UK amateurs allowing operation two-way on 6 metres and many successful contacts had taken place with other continents, in particular the first two-way contacts with North America. Similar permits had been issued for cycle 19 for the International Geophysical Year (IGY) resulting in other notable contacts. R. F. Stevens, G2BVN, undertook to negotiate with the Radio Regulatory Division of the Home Office (at that time the licensing authority) on behalf of the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) for a small number of permits that would allow two-way operation on the 6 metre band. Unfortunately G2BVN became a silent key before the negotiations reached any material conclusion and the matter was allowed to lapse into obscurity.

Steve, G4JCC, had been a SWL on the 5 metre band and had met and talked to some of the amateurs who had been involved in the tests during cycle 18, although he had been unable to hear any transatlantic signals at that time. Steve became concerned because although there was great enthusiasm and much activity around the peak of solar cycles, other interests took people away during the trough of the cycles and there was no organisation which collected and circulated information about the 6 metre band. He discussed this with the late Harold Rose, G4JLH, and he encouraged him to carry out further inquiries amongst those UK radio amateurs who were still actively working cross-band between the 6 and 10 metre bands. Steve then wrote to G6DH who had made the first two-way trans-Atlantic contact with W1HDQ during solar cycle 18 and he encouraged Steve to go further although W1HDQ was no longer active on VHF. Steve met and talked to Al Slater, G3FXB, who had been working cross-band in cycle 21. Al gave him much valuable advice, but was himself pessimistic about obtaining a permanent 6 metre allocation in the UK. Best of all, Steve met and talked to Ken Ellis, G5KW, who had a great wealth of experience and knowledge of VHF both at home and abroad. He agreed to support the embryo idea and Steve felt that his influence in those early days was of the greatest importance to getting the group off the ground.

It was during these discussions with many people that Steve found out that it was probable that the UK television transmissions on bands 1 and 3 were to be discontinued but that the future of those frequencies could not be ascertained. More discussions with G4JLH coined the name ‘UK Six Metre Group’ and it was decided that the aim of the group was to collect and disseminate information about the 6 metre band and press for a permanent allocation of frequencies. A temporary committee was formed to guide the new group with G4JLH as chairman and Steve as treasurer, secretary and editor. They made arrangements to have their first Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the 1982 VHF convention at Sandown Park, at which the temporary committee resigned to allow proper appointment of committee and officers.

The UKSMG as it was now known had some early success with a license for a beacon on the north west coast of Anglesey beaming out across the Atlantic, on air as GB3SIX. They continued to press for permits to be issued for the 6 metre band and soon some 40 permits were issued, this was later increased to 100. Steve’s information about television transmissions was correct and the UKSMG were able to make representations both as a group and individually to the Home Office committee formed to consider the future of these frequencies. The result was that the committee recommended that a permanent allocation of an amateur band at 50 MHz should be made. This lead in 1986 to 50MHz being available to amateurs in the UK!

There is no doubt that the formation of the UK Six Metre Group, with it’s newsletter keeping amateurs informed of all matters relating to the 6 metre band, had considerable influence upon the changes that took place at this critical period. This influence has continued with the UKSMG’s support for amateurs in other countries seeking a 6 metre allocation.

Over the last ten years the main aim of the Group has been to encourage 6m activity in all countries throughout the world, with an especial focus on Europe. In the early days the UK was virtually alone with most European countries not being allowed on the band. But, using the UK as the example, many European amateurs were writing letters to their regulatory bodies in an attempt to persuade them to give them have access to 6m. A common request from these lobbyists was for material to help them with their cases and work was done by the UKSMG to help them in their endeavours by sending letters and statistics to many European regulators supporting local applications for licenses. Indeed, this is still going on but more rarely now that there are over sixty countries in Europe licensed for 6m!

Another area of major activity for the Group has been the supply of beacons and equipment. Many beacons have been constructed by enthusiastic amateurs like G3JVL and GJ4ICD and shipped to many parts of the world. Many of these beacons are still active today although some have been deactivated for more reason or another. Some countries that spring to mind that have accepted UKSMG beacons are Gibraltar, Iceland, Zambia, South Africa, and Jordan. Over the last ten years the Group has supplied many transverters, tranceivers, and antennas to amateurs who the Group felt would really use such donations to come on the band. Most times this has worked out well but there has been the occasional amateur who took the gifts and were hardly ever heard on the band much to our disappointment. These days a lot of questions are asked before equipment is shipped off to an amateur pleading for donations of equipment. However, the most impact the UKSMG has had has not come from equipment donations at all but from the many ‘evangelistic’ members of the Group doggedly encouraging amateurs in rare countries to get 6m equipment and get active on the band. Here the list is endless and it is impossible to thank all those that have contributed. Some of the countries that come up on 6m as a result of this persistent propaganda are Poland, Belarus, Khazakstan, Western Sahara, Lebanon, and Andorra.

A more recent activity for the Group and an increasingly important one is the provision of financial donations to 6m enthusiasts activating new countries for 6m through the mechanism of a DXpedition. Several members of the UKSMG activated Jordan for the first time in 1994 and the UKSMG helped with a donation of 1,500. In 1996 the UKSMG committee voted to provide a donation of 800 to the Canadian group who plan to activate Sable Island, CY0, for the benefit of European 6m amateurs. It is beneficial for the Group to be seen to be encouraging DXpeditions.

The annual Sporadic E contest held in early June has proven to be THE main contest of the year on 6m in 1990s. The contest is open to members and non-members alike and has been a spectacular success when the contest has coincided with massive sporadic-E as it has done several times in the last few years.

Of course, last but not least, is Six News the Group’s quarterly newsletter. This has been the backbone of the Group and is the main reason most members join the Group. There have been many editors over the years but in the 1990s it has developed into a singularly impressive magazine. It always comes as a surprise that there is sufficient material to fill it each quarter but given the nature of the addiction of most members to 6m I doubt whether the flow of material will ever drop. Let’s hope not.

There have been many 6m enthusiasts involved in running the Group over the years so it is difficult to thank everyone individually who has either contributed to Six News or has taken an official position in running the Group. Without this commitment and enthusiasm the Group would not now be in its fourtenth year and everyone predicts that it will achieve its twentieth in due course after yet another sun spot cycle in the late 1990s.

The End

UKSMG 16 February 2003