Chris Clarke, G3SQU

CWops# 3494, from Newcastle upon Tyne , Type and Wear , U.K..---->View on Google maps

I first became interested in radio at age 10 through twiddling around on a friend’s family radio that tuned LW through to SW, whilst my family received only BBC radio programmes by cable. Subsequently I was given a crystal set for Christmas and began twiddling at home on MW with a long wire antenna from my bedroom window and cold water pipe earth.

My interest in Morse Code was kindled in 1960 by the Sunday afternoon TV series “Counter-Attack”, which followed the Enid Blyton-esque escapades of a small group of children during the WW2 occupation of the Channel Islands in June 1940. The children had obtained a CW transmitter which enabled them to communicate with London by Morse code and to pass messages to the Islands resistance movement. Four years later, at age 14, I had discovered ham radio, joined Isle of Thanet Radio Society and made the ham friends, in particular G3PNI, who would help me to build radios, learn Morse code (mandatory for the only licence then issued) and gained my ham licence. I operated CW for 4 years, beginning on 160m with a homebuilt 807 PA transmitter into a long-wire, and various war surplus receivers.

A move from my home in Kent led me to a career with the UK Meteorological Office in a variety of roles including met observer, computer programmer, instrument scientist and, latterly, quality assurance manager. During this period I married and had 3 sons, sadly none of whom have displayed a scientific bent, and was inactive as a ham until 1996 when I constructed a 40m DC solid state kit receiver and using an old Star ST-700 valve transmitter operated with 70W into a mobile whip antenna. But in 1998 my operations stalled once more and it wasn’t until 2012, in retirement and having moved from SE England to the NE city of Newcastle upon Tyne, that I turned to ham radio and to CW again, a skill comparable to that of riding a bike: once learned, never lost. Initially, I operated 40m and 20m QRP with Ten-Tec TT-1340 and MFJ-9020 rigs using mobile whip antennas, then graduated to a Ten-Tec Century 22 giving up to 25W on 40-10m into a home-brew doublet following the NorCal portable design. A move into the ‘big time’ followed and I am now running an IC-746 running 100W into an end-fed 10m vertical antenna supported by a fishing pole (clinging to a tree), with radials and a 9-1 balun allowing operation from 80-10m and varying degrees of efficiency and efficacy! Until 2024 my operation had been almost completely CW, 99.9% using a straight key right out of the 1950s but with 0.1% employing my ability to send my callsign at ‘contest speed’ using a recently acquired Hi-Mound dual-lever paddle.

A desire to improve my CW conversational reading and sending speeds next led me to be accepted into the CW Academy Advanced Course, during which I treated myself to the luxury purchase of a shiny new single-lever paddle key from UR5CDX. And so today I face an new, emboldened life in CW accompanied by my new class-mates from the CW Academy.

I wish to extend my gratitude to G3PNI, without whom I wouldn’t have made the first step into CW, and to the CW Academy, in the persons of my Advisor Buzz (AC6AC) and his Co-Advisors Rich (N4DPM) and Shirley (M0WXG), for bringing me to the honour of election to CWOPS. I would also like to thank Buzz for nominating me and to Bud (AA3B), Chris (G7BED) and Shirley for their sponsorship.

This biography is what appeared in Solid Copy when the member joined CWops.

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