Obituary

Posted by admin at August 2, 2015

Category: Academic, Hull Amateur Radio Society, Motorcycles, Obituary, Practical Wireless, Radio Ham

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Obituary

Graham McLeod, G8pha 11/1954 – 03/07/2015

Resident of Ryde, Isle of Weight

Eccentric, HF Technical Specialist and Motorcyclist

It was with great sadness I learned Graham had passed away. He was an old school friend and lifelong friend.
He died from organ failure in Southampton General Hospital.
He had a motorcycle-sidecar coffin and I.o.W. biker ride-past funeral organized last week by his sister Shelagh and has been interred on the I.o.W.

Calling G8pha; calling Clod!
We’re sure you will always be out there, as one faint signal buried in our static – and our earths!

We started building crystal radio sets* together after school, which turned into single stage transistor RF amplifier sets and then “superheterodyne” radios with multi-stage RF and IHF amplifier arrays**. Graham was a keen subscriber to “Practical Wireless“, “Practical Electronics” and latterly the more highbrow “Wireless World” and his older brother Alistair provided some guidance. Having a good earth was important for the faint reception – hence his nickname: “Clod of Earth” or just Clod. Having soldered everything together and sat for the first time sat wearing large ex W.O. headphones we listened with bated breath and, with “half wave” wire aerials running over the washing line the length of the garden attached to a shed roof, we just managed to receive BBC Radio and then latterly “Radio 270”, which was a pirate radio broadcasting ship anchored offshore that flooded the airwaves. Actually, 270 meters “on the dial” would have meant that our aerials would have been quarter-wavelength aerials. The “superhet” as mentioned above however allowed us to tune-out all the powerful Radio 270 signal fallout which consumed the whole Medium Wave MW Band.

*Crystals or cats whiskers were replaced with a diode and wound coil with a tuning capacitor salvaged from an old discarded valve radio.

**IHF coils were supplied from Sinclair Radionics of Clacton-on-Sea (to wind and calibrate them oneself to 1.6 MHz would have been to much of a specialist job Graham advised).

Whilst Graham helped me build LF audio valve amps for my brother who was in a rock band, Graham was progressing into VHF receivers and transmitters – and he had joined the local Hull Amateur Radio Society. He became a licensed radio ham. I on the other hand had other friends to impress and “Led Zeppelin 2” had just been released so we needed to fill garages with erm.. lots of neighbourhood noise! Back then no one in the sleepy suburb knew what had hit them!

We thought we had truly discovered the building blocks for the new age of technology and the World was at our feet. There was no technical problem we couldn’t conquer! Digital chips were only just making an appearance with “Schottky TTL ICs”. Building “NAND gates” from discrete components was over-working many problems that could be sorted-out using Analog circuits at the time. He went off to read electrical and electronic engineering at UMIST and we went our separate ways.

The maths proved to be a major stumbling block for both of us at uni, having had 5 different maths teachers at school which left gaps.
Another stumbling block was his knee injury caused by a motorcycle accident from which he never fully recovered. He latterly remarked, commenting on Stephen Hawking’s latest publication this year, I have a better idea: “The Conspiracy Theory of Everything!”

He carried on his interest in HF radio, digital Phase Locked Loop transceiver technology PLL and became a renowned technical specialist working in Oxford on aircraft radio navigation aerials with translation work eventually being offered last year from a German electronics company manufacturing RF measuring and test equipment – “the equivalent of an all-singing, all-dancing AVO-meter – but for RF” he assured me.

 

Nick

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