VYLs On The Air

Anyone listening to the GB3DA repeater from 7pm this evening would have heard a rather unusual conversation – two young female voices chatting comfortably on-air.

Helena M6HLM was calling for a contact on GB3DA, and after no-one responded to her initial call, I responded to her second call. Helena recently obtained her Foundation licence with the team at the Thames Amateur Radio Group, and is a natural on-air. After a couple of short overs, my daughter Kathryn stuck her head round the shack door and surprised me by asking “for a go”.

The Full licence allows for messages to be sent by someone without a licence, provided the equipment is operated by the licensee. This allowed Kathryn (aged 7) to exchange messages (under my control) with Helena (aged 10) using her own callsign. As Kathryn and I promised Helena, here is a picture of Kathryn talking to her this evening:

Kathryn in QSO with Helena M6HLM
Kathryn in QSO with Helena M6HLM

Subjects included Christmas presents, cats-vs-dogs, Minecraft, and most surprisingly, Kathryn asking how Helena got her licence. Helena told Kathryn that she attended TARG’s two-day weekend course, and passed on the first go. Her operating practice was faultless, including leaving a pause in case anyone had more important traffic to pass through the repeater.

Whilst Helena was explaining how the new-style exams are conducted (using the optical marking sheets), I dug out some of the Essex Ham training material to show Kathryn, who then decided, rather unfairly, to test Helena with a mock question – Anyone listening, and hearing Kathryn talking about the RSGB EMC Committee, giving callsigns every fifteen minutes and ceramic insulators could not have helped but smiled.

Kathryn then suggested that Helena gets involved with some radio events, highlighting that she’s enjoyed talking part in the Danbury DF hunt, as well as the scouting event in Basildon where two High Altitude Balloons were released. Helena and Kathryn are both Brownies, we discovered.

Kathryn running through some mock questions
Kathryn running through some mock questions

Thanks to Helena M6HLM and dad Pete M3ZCP for the great exchange. We were also joined by Uncle Paul G0HWI too – clearly a family very into amateur radio. If the family’s reading, let me know if you’d mind me putting a short audio recording of one or two of the overs on this page – a nice souvenir of the exchange.

After the QSO and the exchanges of season’s greetings, the impromptu net came to an end. Helena has listened in to our Essex Ham Monday Night Net, but not yet joined in, so hopefully if Helena can join us, the regulars will be able to give her a good welcome. There’s also some interest in arranging a sked for the girls in the future.

In a nice finale to the experience, Kathryn’s now fired up about radio. Rather than reading a bedtime story, she wanted a flick through the Foundation Now book, which resulted in her wanting to try a multimeter, followed by lots of questions about conductors and volts.

Kathryn getting to grips with a multimeter
Kathryn getting to grips with a multimeter

Great to be part of a QSO that has fired up some interest in the hobby. Kathryn’s seen me using amateur radio, but hasn’t really engaged until now. It could be that by encouraging more youngsters in the family to try guest messages with the younger members of our hobby, we can stimulate the next generation of hams.

Pete M0PSX

Related Links


  1. 2E0NCE 19 December 2014 Reply
  2. george. a. lee. G2ARY. 20 December 2014 Reply

Leave a Reply to george. a. lee. G2ARY. Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.