Archive for the ‘ham radio’ Category
By Allan Dodds,
What’s a "GB2SJ" ?
Well, I’m sure the radio hams among you have guessed it’s a callsign and this is one of the things I do 3 or 4 times a year to get out of the truck.
GB2SJ is a "Special Event" callsign held by my radio club, STARS, for use at Souter (pronounced "soo-ter") Lighthouse which is located a half hours drive or so down the coast from home. Normally, UK Special Event callsigns are allocated as GB2 plus 3 letters and only valid for a month at a time but, because this is an historic monument, and when in working order it held the callsign SJ for it’s own on-site radio station and later, navigation beacons, we were granted GB2SJ on a permanent basis. We "activate" it a few times each year by running a special event.
This time we commemorated "International Marconi Day", an event celebrated the world over by the radio community on the weekend closest to his birthday. All kinds of people clamor to contact our station when it’s on the air, not only other hams but also the other special event stations worldwide. There is a voluntary competitive element for participants: a certificate is available for operators and listeners who can verify that they worked (or heard, in the case of listeners) 15 or more Marconi stations with different levels of award for more stations contacted or heard, and yet more again for different types of transmission from Sideband to Morse Code and even some digital "data burst" type transmissions which need to be decoded by computer.
The lighthouse itself is quite important as lighthouses go. It was opened in 1871 in response to demands from the local sailors as 12 ships had been wrecked on the rocks along that stretch of coastline the previous year, driven on by the fierce onshore winds typical in the area. It was the first electrically powered lighthouse in the world, and still boasts radio equipment fabricated and installed a few decades later by Maconi himself and his assistants in the early years of his Wireless Telegraph Company. It’s an amazing place to visit, and very spooky at night as it’s allegedly haunted though I’ve not seen or heard anything. The light was switched off in 1998 and ownership handed over to The National Trust who maintain it exactly as it was the day it closed, with all equipment in working condition!