My Elmers


An "Elmer" is an Amateur Radio term used in America. It means somebody who has tutored and encouraged you within amateur radio. Although not everybody mentioned here could be considered an Elmer, I'd like to use this page to acknowledge and thank those who have influenced and helped me in my amateur radio "career".

Harold Sydney "Bob" King, G3ASE.

The first person I need to thank is Bob King, G3ASE. Back in 1972/73 I was a teenage student at the St Ivo comprehensive school, in St Ives, Cambridge. My science teacher was Mr. King. I wanted to join the Royal Air Force, and the RAF required recruits to have "O" level Physics. Unfortunately, St Ivo only taught General Science. Well, Mr. King was kind enough to give me extra physics lessons during our lunch breaks. While I was studying he would operate his radio. I recall he had a Heathkit single band radio. It was either a HW-12 or an HW-32, I'm not sure which.

It was through his enthusiasm that I became interested in electronics and Amateur Radio. Indeed, this led to both my employment and hobby ever since. How could I ever repay him for that?

I have since learned that Bob king was a Volunteer Interceptor (VI) during the Second World War. In 1939, after British amateurs were ordered off the air and their transmitting equipment was confiscated, about 1700 amateurs put their skills to work as civilian VIs. Originally; they were enlisted to help hunt for spies in the British Isles, listening for strong signals and key clicks that would indicate proximity. When it appeared that the enemy did not have a cadre of underground agents sending messages to the fatherland, the talents of the VIs were turned to monitoring communications from enemy field units. Although the British military services set up a number of full-time listening posts around the country, the work of the VIs was invaluable in providing additional data for analysis at Bletchley Park, the top secret decoding center established by the British in 1939. What the VIs heard and reported were thousands of seemingly random five-letter Morse code transmissions. Messages copied by VIs and others also came from the eastern front (Russia, Poland and Eastern Europe), U-boat traffic from the North Atlantic, diplomatic and espionage activities in North Africa, and other outposts. 

"Pop" Seymour, G3GNS.

I joined the Royal Air Force in 1973 and was sent for 18 months technical training at #1 Radio School, RAF Locking, near Weston-Super-Mare. On the camp was the Headquarters station of RAFARS, the RAF Amateur Radio Society. Out of curiosity, I went to the club shack and was able to learn a lot more about Amateur Radio from Pop. Also, every day he would fire up a transmitter, and a paper tape reader, and send the G3RAF slow Morse transmissions. This is how I learned Morse code.
I remember the Class "B" operators at the club. They would call CQ on 2Mtrs using a crystal controlled AM transmitter. They would have a 2Mtr converter which converted 144-148MHz down to 28-30MHz into a Racal RA17 receiver. Then they would state they would "Tune the band from low to high" looking for replies. I decided then I would learn CW and get started with a class A license.
The club has the calls G8FC, G3RAF and G8RAF, but has relocated away from Locking.

Phil Reville, G3ZZR.

At the end of 1974 I was posted to RAF Bampton Castle in Oxfordshire where I met Phil. I was able to take my Morse Test and the Radio Amateur's Exam (RAE) at the end of this year, and got my G4DVP license early in 1975. Phil and his XYL, Gwen, were fantastic and took this young single guy under their belts. I remember having dinners at their house, and getting to play with his radios. He was a big CW enthusiast, and I'm sure his encouragement kept me from actually throwing my Morse key away. When I met Phil he had a Yaesu FT101. I was able to get the newer FT101B as my first ever radio.

Bert Newman, G2FIX.

Bert was the net controller of the RAFARS nets on 3710KHz every evening. He would also control the RAFARS CW net on 3520KHz one night each week. He also encouraged me to use CW and was a fantastic role model. We also used to talk quite a bit on CW off the nets. He encouraged good CW operating and was a member of the "First Class CW Operators Club", FOC. I thought it was a great way to honour to him when I was invited to join FOC in 2006.

In 1976 I was posted to RAF Greatworth, which was an HF transmitter station near Banbury in Oxfordshire. I remember Bert coming here. I was able to show him the RF coming down my antenna was enough to fully light a 60 Watt bulb. (True - Honestly). This stopped most of my SSB operation but permitted narrow CW operation at the bottom of 80Mtrs. This is when my CW really improved.

Role Models.

From then on I was pretty much self driven to be a good CW DX'er, even if it was only with a vertical and a piece of wet string. On the personal front I always admired the shacks and operating ability of G3PDL and G3LHJ. Derrick, G3LHJ is also keen on homebrew QRP rigs, and I did build an 80Mtr QRP transmitter he had suggested as a club project. On air people like G3FXB, G3MXJ, G3TXF & G3SXW were the operators I aspire to be like. I'm still struggling to be that good.

Jack McElwain, W5SVZ.

I met Jack in about 1999. I was a reasonable CW operator, but a struggling DXer. I had reached about 250 countries with my vertical (having moved to Texas in 1994) and was pushing the limits of what could be done with so many "Big Guns" in America. Jack really pushed me to get a beam. I was reluctant, but knew I really needed something better to progress. Jack did all the research of Antenna models and he suggested the force12 C3 that I'm using. I found a roof tower, and Jack did all the stress calculations for the system. He even helped me to put it on the roof. So, he was a great "Elmer" in terms of encouragement.
Jack had DXCC honor roll using CW only, and that gave me a personal goal to strive for. I made the necessary QSO's for that during 2007.
Jack became well known at the LSDXA booth at Hamcom as the DX wizard. See him HERE.

So, there we go. THANK YOU ALL