Back in 1975, at the age of 17 and having had the callsign G8IMR for a few months, I needed to convert my 2m Pye Vanguard transmitter to FM operation. The Vanguard was a hybrid valve / transistor design dating from the 1960’s and was a favourite of Class-B amateurs producing about 20 Watts of AM
Converting to FM transmit could be done quite simply by feeding a few tens of volts of audio to the screen grid of the transmitter crystal oscillator where it would behave as a varicap diode and shift the frequency by a few kHz. I developed this transistor design which worked quite well, and decided to earn a bit of money by publishing it in Short Wave Magazine - in those days SWM was the primary magazine for radio amateurs to be found on the newsagents shelves. A friend typed up my hand-written draft (no word processors then!) and I sent it in.
Only a month or so after it was published I attended an interview in London for a training sponsorship at university by the Ministry of Defence – which would be very lucrative. For one thing, I would be on a full time salary at Uni rather than a grant (which even in the 1970’s was not great) and there would a ready made job on graduation and guaranteed holiday work and recognised training.
At the interview, quite early on, I mentioned having had an article published in a technical magazine, and knew immediately it was the right thing to have said. All three interviewers heads shot up, and talking about it and other radio and electronics related matters dominated most of the rest of the interview.
Needless to say, I won one of the 19 covetted places and still work for the MoD to this day. Whether I’d have won the sponsorship without having been published back then I don’t know, the point is moot. As far as I’m concerned it made all the difference.
So, to any young readers out there, and especially in this highly competitive employment market, give yourself an edge over the competition, earn a few pounds and see yourself in print!
And how much did it pay? I received £4.50 for the one-page article, which taking inflation into account is a bit low by today’s page-rate standards – it it probably equivalent to about £40. And I even had to pay 10% of that to the typist!
By permission of PW Publishing and Roger Hall, G4TNT, editor of ‘Radio User’ which nowadays incorporates Short Wave Magazine, here is a copy of the original article. Scroll half-way down the first page to "Frequency Modulator for FM Transmitters"
Short Wave Mag, September 1975
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