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G4BKI Biography page

 

This is my story.
My pet "likes" are Ann, Amateur Radio and German Cars:
Porsche Cayman (3 door, 2 seat, coupé, video) Acknowleged as the "Best Car in the World",  Audi A3 TDI (5 door, 5 seat, Diesel video) & Audi TT (3 door, 4 seat, coupé, video). Won't ever own anything from VAG again, after "Dieselgate". Mercedes, also, are not something I'd own either. I suppose that leaves BMW, Jaguar and Land Rover.

I was born in Nottingham, England in 1958. To be more precise, near Beeston. I was baptised at Holy Trinity Church, Lenton, Notts.
My father was Peter Evans, G3DLH, who owned University Radio in Nottingham. Many radio amateurs-to-be came into his shop during this time, including later operators, G3GRL, G3SJJ, G3OZF - G3BJ.
We moved from Nottingham to Cornwall in 1959 and my parents ran Ann's Pantry a general shop (has been an opticians, amongst other things) in Carbis Bay.
In 1961 they had a new house called Chylowen built in Carbis Bay on a road called Wheal Whidden (meaning Whidden Mine in Cornish - a tin mine, that is). We lived there until 1968. I very often went down into the basement and watched my Dad work VKs using CW. He used an AR-88D receiver and a KW Viceroy III transmitter and a Telegraph Apparatus Co. 'Hole in the Wall' bug. He also helped with and built 'The Cornishman' which was a local Cornish Radio Amateur Club project.

In 1968 my parents visited Bermuda, going to see my mother's old friend
Marian Holland (RIP, 2016). My mother had worked in Nottingham with Marian in the accounts department of Players Cigarettes after WWII. Shortly afterwards, we moved to Bermuda. Selling our house in Carbis Bay and (hopefully) going forever. Even the massively heavy amateur gear went along. Dad very soon got the callsign VP9GG. I very quickly settled in, going to Whitney Institute for schooling (at that time it was a Primary & Secondary school). I adored this school and our class teacher Ollie Mc Kittrick.

Unfortunately, my mother didn't settle in well. After just less than a year we left Bermuda. I can remember very well the Friday afternoon that this was decided and I cried (silently) for hours.

After being in Bermuda we moved back to Carbis Bay in Cornwall, to Sunlea. This was a couple of weeks after Apollo 11.

1971-2:

Through hard work and the teaching of David, G3NPB. I joined the RAE class at the St. Ives School late - one term late - joining it one third into the way of the teaching. In a frank comment, David said I had "no chance of passing this year, but maybe next year"........ I started the course in January 1972, finished it in May 1972 and passed in June 1972.
In memory of G3NPB, 13th July, 2015. Annoucement.

During many years, David was responsible for the best teaching of the RAE (Radio Amateurs' Examine) in Cornwall. He taught many of the best radio amateurs in Cornwall. These included G3YZY, G3YZX, G4AMJ, G4AMT, G4AGZ, G4BHC, G4BHD, G4BKI, G4BPJ and many others.

After 10 years or so [1982], our paths crossed again in the design of GB3SI, a 2m repeater for St. Ives. I made the main chassis, RF deck and one of the first uProcessor controllers in the world. David helped in the site clearance (along with me). After adding seriously good duplex filters, we had one of the best range repeaters in the country/continent/world.

This had been one of the most reliable 2m repeaters in the world, staying on the air except for less than 2 minutes in 20 years!


We were visited by
VP9GE in 1972. This was just before I got my licence, G4BKI, which was on 29th August, 1972. I was just 14 and was one of the youngest ever hams in the UK (there was an age limit of 14 on the licence back then). My brother had got his licence (G4AMJ, NQ0I, now N7DR) the year before and was 15 at the time. My Dad gave up smoking and threw his savings into a pot for a while and bought an SB-102 , External VFO, speaker and PSU. This was only after he had massively helped Doc and I with 2 HW-101s. Just before my licence was on the way, Dad and I built my first rig. A Heathkit HW-101. Soon after a 400Hz CW filter was added. Imagine. Three stations, lots of antennas and all on the air at the same time. There's no way that modern transistor rigs would handle the RF power around.

It was also through my Dad's (G3DLH) determined teaching of CW to me over the space of 6 weeks to 12wpm+. It wasn't easy and I wasn't a natural. I'm afraid I also swore that I wouldn't ever use CW after I passed the test. This was true for the first 6 months on the air.

Then, slowly, very slowly, I started to use it. After we built a home brew keyer with Barry, G3YCZ, in Hayle, Cornwall. I have to thank Barry for his help in this. He helped with the case and the paddle movement, while Dad and I built the TTL keyer circuit on Veroboard. I can see it now - grey paddle, metallic green box, silvered plastic knobs (On/Off and Speed). It ran off 240VAC. Mostly made from RS parts (that's Radiospares, NOT Radio Shack!). Gradually, it took over my radio life. If it wasn't for Morse I wouldn't bother with amateur radio. The other modes are just too boring.
I actually got news of my licence arriving and what my callsign was, while I was in the Isles of Scilly, on holiday.
The minimum age to hold a licence in those days was 14 years. For the record, I got mine at 14 years and 115 days, the youngest radio amateur to do so at that time.

My brother, G4AMJ (NQ0I, then N7DR) let me know that the "I" at the end was horrible on CW......... My family went to the QTH of Mike Goody, G3RPC. We went out to his garden shed and I actually worked a W6 on SSB (GASP!) as my first QSO. Being pushed on the mic was terrifying!

It didn't take me long to work CW every day on 21MHz, even with the solar cycle at a low......... In fact, I went out of my way to work AT LEAST 10 Ws per night - at 19:00z. After I had done my school homework. I worked a number of stations at gathering speed, including W1TW, my best friend. I think I must have worked him just about every night.

I started to chase DX on CW and soon reached 230+DXCC countries. Not easy in those days. No cluster. Just EARS. I was using the HW-101, 100W and a long wire with a KW E-zee Match.

As my speed increased, I still went back into the 21MHz Novice band to work and work and work my friends and help them speed up into their next step. One of them [WN1NNC] turned out to be Jim, later K4OJ.

At age 16, we moved back to Bermuda and I went to Bermuda College (Sixth Form centre in Prospect) to take A levels. I used the callsign G4BKI/VP9. That was about 300-500 QSOs per NIGHT on CW. It was easy. It was using an FT-101 which we modified to switch in a CW filter, borrowed from Van VP9GK. At this time I also joined the 'gang' for CQWW SSB and CW at VP9IB; operating with VP9IB, VP9IX, etc. for a record couple of contest scores. We had SIX FT-101s and by the time we finshed the contests we had broken five of them!

Bermuda attracts a lot of well known people - Nick Faldo, Arnold Parmer, etc. Dad was fortunate to work with customers such as Jose M. Bosch (owner of Bacardi International!) and George de Mestral (inventor of Velcro).

After making WAC, DXCC and other stuff in quick order, it was time to leave the nest and go to the University of Warwick. At University I studied Physical Electronics (Physics and Electronics). In between terms I went back to Bermuda to take time off. During my final visit of that time (age 21), I not only wrote my Finals Practical Project Thesis, but also passed my local radio exam.  I won the local CW contest and the next day I took the RAE (Radio Amateurs Examination). I passed the theory exam and the CW and got VP9KF. My local CW score was a record which still stands to this day (and I still have the Winners Tankard). Unfortunately, the Bermuda Contest used to be the top one in the World, but is now no more.

After University life, I moved on to a job at Plessey Microwave in Towcester, Northants, UK. Actually, it was called Plessey Optoelectronics and Microwave, but the two units were being split apart shortly before I arrived there. 'Opto' went on to become a part of Plessey 3-5, which was founded to exploit MMIC technology having been invented at Plessey Caswell by Jim Turner et al.

After 18 months working on Oscillator products, I became responsible for the following product lines, including the material growth (Epitaxy), device manufacture/testing/bonding/QA of:

Gunn Diodes: 5mW to 500mW, 8GHz to 40GHz; CW and pulsed [GaAs]
Broadband detector diodes, varactor diodes [Si and GaAs]
IMPATT diodes: 2mW to 200mW, 45GHz to 240GHz; CW [Si]
TRAPATT diodes: 25W, S band; pulsed [Si]

During 1985 we were moved away from shared facilities with 3-5 and I played a major part in the design and build of new cleanroom and production facilities in an older building that had been used for ferrite production in WWII(!). This took nearly six months of working 7 days a week and at least 12 hours per day. This continued as a very risky re-location of epitaxy production moved a few miles from Caswell research to our 'new' building almost as soon as we had device and system assembly back on stream.

Then, in Spring 1988
Plessey Microwave and Plessey 3-5 were rejoined at the hip and became solely Plessey 3-5 Group, although I don't think we ever ran out of 'Microwave' product labels and stationery!

On Monday 8th May, 1989, Plessey 3-5 was closed deliberately (by the Plessey Board after a meeting in our engineering office [yes, yours Brian Mazonas]) in a particularly nasty takeover of the whole Plessey Group by GEC-Marconi. Very soon there wasn't much left of the ex-Plessey units (~58,000 jobs) and within 4 years parts of GEC were closing rapidly too. On Friday 3rd November, 1989, the skeleton group of 8 remaining engineers [I was one of them] left Plessey 3-5 for the last time after having produced 400,000 250nm FETs on a remaining order for the first DBS receivers.

What followed then was a year as a separate design group being formed at GEC-Ferranti in Milton Keynes (from about 10 of us who had been inherited from Plessey 3-5). This was formed by Mike Tench, who was really my first line boss at Plessey, above Helen Duncan. During this time we were "kept in mind" as engineers of repute. This group was then split up with Mike Tench going into managership and just two of us going into engineering for the main GEC-Ferranti Airbourne Radar group [myself and Jeremy Binley]. For nearly a year we were given absolutely nothing to do but show up and get paid. Then we were brought into the radar group and did a few interesting things. The whole site was moved from horrible 'huts' to a big new flashy building. Within a few months I knew it couldn't go on and made my escape. 4 months after leaving, all of the staff (600+) were let go and the brand new site was empty.


To distract myself I spent a lot of time and money adding to the GW8GT Red Dragon Contest Group, setting many contest records. This included my friends G3OAY, G4IFB (now ZL2IFB), G4VXE, GW5NF, GW3NWS, G3SQX, GW4LXO, GW4TTU/now F4VPC, GW0MAW, GW4JBQ, GW6ZUQ, GW3KYA (SK), G3LNS (SK) and many, many others.

In 1989, 1990 and 1991 I toured the Caribbean. Going from Barbados (8P9FT) to St. Vincent (J8/VP9KF) and other places. Around this time I joined FOC, member number 1578.

After the utter break-up of the UK electronics and Engineering industry (or, slightly before, if it is to be told truthfully!), I emigrated to the USA in October 1993. To Florida to be exact. I did, at the last minute, look for jobs in Bermuda, I must admit. However, in those days it was only through the Sunday Telegraph that jobs of that type were ever advertised. I was in the forefront of IT jobs at that time (long before the term IT was recognised!).. Unfortunately the Bank of Bermuda (now HSBC) never answered. Probably because of very specific IBM mainframe requirements. These are probably laughable today!

In October 1993, I came to Florida to PacComm and took them, in 3 years, from $750k to $2m+ turnover per-year and from 8 employees to 23 employees. After being completely ignored for this progress as their Senior Technical Sales executive, I resigned and went on to form my own business. In the first instance this was dunedinsystems.com, then stcgrenada.com, then sciencetechnologyconsultants.com and now hintlink.com.

However, in December 1993, just 2 months after arriving in the USA, I went to the FOC function in Orlando. I ended up talking at great length with Jim K4OJ about forming an FL Contest Group, whcih we initially called the FCCG (Florida CW Contest Group). He, I and Jeff WC4E got this thing started. A short time afterwards it became the Florida Contest Group. Something which I know we were proud of. Unfortunately, Jim died in 2004. RIP my friend. You can see the resulting site at FCG.

In December 1994 I bought "Spindrift", a Catalina 36 sailing boat. I lived on her and sailed her until 2003.

After biting the bullet, I moved into my own business and worked in the marine electronics, design and computing field. Big time. Running a business and keeping a boat afloat was a big task. But I did it. I tried to stay on the air as W4/G4BKI at this time, although I was always busy.

On 26th December 2001 I was hit, while going through a GREEN light, by another car. After being 6 days in Intensive Care, I made my way, slowly, out again. After this major car accident I was connected with Ann. Within a short time we couldn't be apart. We moved to Grenada in 2003. We sold everything, except her house and went to Grenada.

Unfortunately this didn't work out as I became very sick. I signed as J3/G4BKI (for colonnial reasons) and then as J37KF after buying land (which I bought before becoming sick)  in Grenada. After about a year we had to leave Grenada and come back to the USA. After many months of suffering, we finally moved back to FL at great expense. Leaving behind a dream and the purchased piece of property. By purchasing this land, I got the callsign J37KF. Surely the most expensive callsign of all time! (US$100,000). We subsequently sold the land in Grenada.

When we moved back to FL, we found that we could live without being beholden to anybody. I took on the callsign W4/VP9KF.

On 2005-12-25 in a fit of madness (!) I asked Ann to marry me. She said yes.

We quickly moved ahead and were married in Bermuda
on 2006-03-20. Present were our friends Donna (Matron in Honour), James (Best Man), Ann's friend Stacy and family members, including my Brother, his wife (Jenny) and Sarah (their daughter). Mostly, my Dad, VP9GG, was there, as was VP9GE.

In 2006-11-01 to 2006-11-15 we went back to VP9 on our Honeymoon.

Including our wedding we have been to Bermuda (recently) for:

Two weeks in March, 2006, Two weeks in November, 2006, Three weeks in May/June, 2007. (During which we became great friends with many new and old aquintances), Two weeks in October/November, 2007, Two weeks in April, 2008, Two weeks in November, 2008, Two weeks in April, 2009, Two weeks in November, 2009, Two weeks in April, 2010, Two weeks in November, 2010, Two weeks in April, 2011, Two weeks in November, 2011, Two weeks in April, 2012, Two weeks in November, 2012, Two weeks in November, 2013.

Our renewed aquintances are: Don  Mason (VP9HS), Jackie Bacon

I'm searching for: Mr. (Ollie) McKittrick, Ken Hubbard (unfortunately now SK) and

Pamela Spearing, Susan Bailey, Barbara Hollis, Veronica Hollis, Vivienne Hollis (now Craig?), Veronica Whiting, Jamie Tucker, Georgie Masters (RIP), Simon Nicholl-Griffith, Karl Terceira, Gina Swainson, Bruce LeSeur, Scott McKenzie, Carla Dale, Chris Cooke, J.J. Outerbridge (RIP), Andrew Stirling, Joey Mello and anybody else from J6 Whitney, 1968/1969.

Family Note and for the record: My parents are buried here. My grandparents and Uncle Fred are buried here. I really, really miss them.

Some Amateur Radio friends: G3SJJ, G4AMT, F5VHC, G0ALA (G8FCZ), G8IAM, G8MIA, G4CDW, G4BHC, G4BHD, G3UCQ, ..........................

Amateur Radio Bests (ONLY CW!):
Contest - CQWWCW 1992 - 235 QSOs per hour from GW8GT.
Contest - CQWWCW 1995 - 231 QSOs per hour from W1CW.

Contest - CQWWCW 2003 - 286 QSOs per hour as J37KF (14MHz only).
DX Pileup - 608 QSOs in 2 hours = 304 QSOs per hour as VP9KF (2011-11-11, JA pile-up).



Hmmm, did I say....  My pet hates are DOGS, cats, noisy neighbours and clumsy people!

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Callsigns: G4BKI, G4BKI/VP9, VP9KF, 8P9FT, J8/VP9KF, W4/G4BKI, G4BKI/J3, J37KF, W4/VP9KF, F/G4BKI
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