I grew up in England in a place called Four Oaks, Sutton Coldfield which is in the Midlands but I have been living and working in Southern French speaking Belgium for over 20 years now. My wife is German and comes from a town called Siegen, which is between Cologne and Frankfurt and our three boys were all born here in Belgium. We actually met in Antwerp in 1993. This is where we call home, so we decided to take the plunge and become Belgian some years ago now which simplified our lives a lot.
When we arrived in Belgium one of the first things that I wanted to do was to find some new friends and not just people connected to my work.
I had always had an interest in radio when I was living in England from my early teens onwards and did attend the Sutton Coldfield Radio Society many years ago with a friend. I followed the radio amateurs course and later tried for my licence but unfortunately I didn’t pass the exam, though I was only 14 or 15 at the time. My radio interests switched to CB which was really big where I lived at the time and I constructed my own antennas and HF receivers. Though this came to an end after a few years when I started college, work and later went back to college and finally got married.
So when we arrived in Belgium I decided to go out and find a radio club. It was at the “Radio Club de Bruxelles” where (along with my new fiends) I followed the radio licence course again but in French this time. I passed my technical licence (ON1) and couple of years afterwards I took my Morse exam and obtained the full licence (We were some of the last to take the Morse exam in Belgium). Things have changed a lot with the licences here since then. My first call was ON1MGM (which was then the technical licence VHF/UHF), after this I became ON4XN (full licence) but after sometime I decided to choose a new more personalised call, ON5REV…
I took short break from the hobby a few years back as I got quite bored with SSB and digital. It was always the same thing. However after a couple of years of looking at my unused shack I decided it was time to get things in order. First starting with my antennas and then getting the shack back together.
I had become interested in WWII code breaking and radio during this time and it seemed like a good idea to once and for all learn CW properly. After starting to learn with various files and web sites and getting increasingly frustrated, I found a book called, ‘Zen and the Art of Radio Telegraphy’ on the FISTS web site. I don’t know much about the Zen part (though I’m sure it’s very beneficial) but the structured daily lessons were really helpful and I made progress at a steady rate. It has been said to me that this is a very old way of learning but I made good progress when other ways of learning the code left me frustrated. In the shack I have a Yaesu ft920 and an Icom 706mkII and run about 50w into a G5RV, nothing special but for cw it works fine for me.
My interest in CW led to an interest in portable qrp and kit building. A while back now I got myself a You Kits HB-1B and at the radio rally in La Louvère I was just too tempted by the Yaesu FT817. I also built a couple of MFJ Cubs, for 40m and 80m which I regularly use in from shack. I would also like to build the 30m and 20m versions but that’s a future project. I go out and activate SOTA quite often here on a Monday and always in CW, it works every time when SSB can be quite frustrating. I’m working through all the summits that are relatively close to me before moving on to other more difficult sites. Belgium does not have any really difficult mountains now does it?
The REV part of my call gives away my job. I work in the Reformed Church over here in Belgium and I have been working in various positions in churches for the last 20 years. I’m a member of the World Association of Christian Radio Amateurs and Listeners (WACRAL) membership number : 1461.
Other hobbies include motorbikes, photography, music and reading… oh, and beer, why do you think I love Belgium? 🙂
73s de Stephen ON5REV