934MHz Memories

Back in 1981 the British Government legalised CB in the UK.  They released two sets of FM frequencies on the 27MHz band and on 934MHz. 27MHz quickly became popular due to the low cost and easy availability of equipment. I had always been interested in radio and purchased a York JCB 861 27MHz set. Using this radio I spoke to Brian (G2WI) who was president of the Darenth Valley Radio Society, a radio club that welcomed both amateur and CB operators. I went along to one of the club meetings and quickly learned that a number of the members were active on the 934MHz band. I splashed out over £300 on a new Cybernet Delta 1 transceiver and quickly joined the others on the band. 934 was a complete contrast to 27MHz and was often called the gentleman's band. It was totally different to the overcrowded frequencies on 27MHz and had a real community spirit. You soon got to know all the operators in your locality, who due to the financial commitment of setting up a station made sure that they were on the air frequently, well behaved and supported events arranged by the users of the band.

                                                                  Photograph from www.odin.org

I joined the 934MHz Club UK and was given the callsign UK1243. The club arranged rallies and a national radio contest. I decided to take part in 1987 and surprisingly won the comp etition. Here is the story of what happened on that day.

At that time I wa s working as a radio engineer for the London Metropolitan Police and managed to persuade my boss to let me borrow a Clark pump up mast for the weekend. I had two antennas, a vertical colinear and a 16 element yagi. I decided to check the set up in my back garden before the contest but manged to break the colinear in half during the process. I patched it up and was ready to go the next day.

You may recall that hurricane hit Kent in 1987 and this occured a couple of weeks before the contest. Many of the roads around my proposed transmitter site were blocked by fallen trees, so several detours were needed to reach my destination. I had scouted out a wide grass verge in Tatsfield a few weeks earlier to rig the mast and operate my station. During the rigging process I was approached by a curious traffic policeman wanting to find out what I was up to. I explained what I was doing and he let me carry on. He even popped back later to see how I was getting on.   

The nearby Vodafone base station made it impossible to to use a preamp and the noise also affected reception on the colinear. Most of my contacts were therefore made using the beam linked to the rig by some relatively lossy URM67 cable. This probably explains why I was a fair way down the distance worked table but had good line of sight to the stations in London and Essex. This gave me a good QSO count which  provided sufficient points to take first place. All the QSOs were quite leisurely with plenty of time to have a conversation in addition to swapping reports and callsigns.

The 934MHz band was lost to the mobile phone companies in the 1990's, but I will always remember the fun I had on the band. I gained my amateur class B license in 1988 together with many of the 934 operators from the Darenth Valley Club. I had to sell my Delta 1 to fund my new amateur equipment and my first impression of 2m was that it was quite unruly compared to the gentlemanly conduct of 934.    

934 MHz Contest site

The 934MHz Club UK produced a magazine and the attached PDF will give you a taste of the clubs activities back in the 1980s. This particular edition contains the 1987 contest results together with a (not very good) photograph of my contest station (on page 9). There is also a reference to the Darenth Valley Radio Society on Page 29.

Neil McGrath,
5 Jun 2012, 09:37