Sweet sound of ham radio

ROGER THAT: George Boorer at home in his transmitter filled room.
ROGER THAT: George Boorer at home in his transmitter filled room.

Timaru radio enthusiast George Boorer is thrilled with the national switchover to digital television.

It means after 40 years he can head back out to his "radio shack" and tap into the six-metre international amateur band, otherwise known as "the magic band".

"We were off that when they started up the TV2 channel there at Studholme, [so] all the New Zealand radio amateurs that used that frequency were closed down," he said yesterday.

But with the whole of the South Island switching to digital television on April 28, Mr Boorer was ready and waiting to jump back on.

He was prepared, making sure he got his special permit.

Early on Sunday morning Mr Boorer had his gear on "full steam", and tuned in. At first it was the "horrendous noise from channel one" which had blocked the band.

"At 2am the ruddy noise is still going, then three minutes past the hour the noise all stopped. Nothing but the sweet sound of silence," Mr Boorer said.

He switched on the ham transmitter, and "back came a fellow old timer reliving our young days".

Mr Boorer has been a radio amateur for around 60 years, studying it at the former Timaru Technical College. His gear was "fairly ancient" but worked fine. He was thrilled at the return of the six-metre band.

"It means a lot to me. We've got it back again and it belongs to the amateurs again."

He had been furious at the time it was blocked by television, and said the government of the day should never have let it happen. He tried to stop it at the time, making his protestations known through letters to the editor.

Asked what amateurs discuss while on the radio, he said "technical-type talk", such as signal strength and radio building. He has made contact with people as far away as England.

There are around three million radio amateurs around the world.

The Timaru Herald