The History of EARS

The shack

Adrian Clark
John Woods

Amateur radio at Essex goes back to the early days of the University in the 1960s. I'm currently trying to speak to people who have memories from that time; if you read this and you're one of them, please do contact Adrian. Our honorary President, Peter, knows the history from the 1980s onward and we are working towards re-applying for one of the University's old callsigns from that period.

EARS as we know it today was set up in 2006 by Ulrich Nehmzow, M0ASF. The first Foundation course was run by Ulrich and Theo, M0TKS over a weekend, and a dozen or so people gained their licences then; those people formed the initial membership of EARS.

Thanks to some financial support from ESE, one of the precursor departments to the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (aka CSEE), EARS was able to buy (on eBay) a second-hand Icom IC-746 and power supply. This is still the main club radio. On 2nd November 2006, we built a trapped dipole antenna for the club radio (see right) and a few J-pole antennas for the 2m bands using components donated by the members.

With the gear in a shack on the top floor of the CSEE building on square 1 and the antenna slung between it and the computer science building, we had a fair number of enjoyable evenings operating. The photo to the left shows a typical session with (seated, from left to right): Tony Chung (back to the camera), Libor, Ulrich, Christine; (standing) Stelios, Theo.

Theo left to take up an academic post at Keele University late that year and Ulrich left Essex for the University of Ulster the next year. (Sadly, he became a silent key in 2010.)

Shortly after Ulrich left, we had to move the shack from the room in which it resided and the club became moribund after that. Things were happening behind the scenes though: Adrian arranged an Intermediate course in the autumn of 2009 for all those who had gained Foundation licences, and this was kindly taught by Ed Erbes and Brian Fitzsimmons, G0GGM of the Colchester club. A small but select group from the University took this: Adrian and Christine Clark, Chris and Camilla Fox, and John Woods, along with some people from outside the University (such as Kevin, now M0JVC). John and Chris went on to pass their Full licences in the spring of 2010, while Adrian and Christine delayed until the summer of 2010 before taking and passing theirs.

At the beginning of 2011, we moved the radio from a temporary home to a (lockable) cupboard in CSEE's Hardware Lab, 1NW.2.10, with a feeder to an antenna slung from the building to a nearby tree. This is far from an ideal location for the antenna but we were still able to make DX contacts with it.

Most recently, during the summer of 2018, refurbishment of the Hardware Lab meant that we had to move the shack to Adrian's research lab, on the top floor of the same building. This was fairly easy to do, though it involved extending the feeder cable — and experiments show that we are still able to reach Iceland, eastern Canada and USA, north Africa and the Balkans. The ready availability of computers in the reserach lab means that new digital modes such as FT8 are much easier to support, and contacts have been made as far away as Argentina using only 50W of power. However, traded against this is the fact that the lab is not available for access by the general public.