February 07, 2011

The life and times of Bernard Licence G4DCG

As many of you may know Bernard Licence G4DCG went Silent Key just before Christmas and I feel it only fitting that we celebrate his life and times as a radio amateur.

I know his early life involved serving in the RAF rising to the rank of pilot officer during WWII. From looking through his DVD collection his interest in aviation never wained as he explored the history of everything from the aircraft of WWII up to present day aviation. There was even a homemade copy of a movie based on Donald Campbell's life and ill fated trials with Bluebird on Conniston Water.

I was to learn that Bernard's favorite type of music included Jazz and Big Band in many forms with bands like: Stan Kenton, Count Basie, Shep Fields and his rippling rhythmn Orchestra, The famous Jazz drummer Gene Krupa, he also enjoyed listening to vocalists like Diana Shore, Ella Fitzgerald and last but not least... The Rat Pack of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.

Another of his interests was the Motorcar especially the history of MG and Jaguar.

Bernard worked for BT in a managerial position before enjoying a good lengthy retirement overlooking the Lune Estuary a very advantageous location that many radio amateurs myself included can only dream about.

But back to amateur radio:

Ian G0VGS was asked to visit Bernard a few weeks before he went Silent Key so that he could document his radio equipment, this was not the easiest of meetings because it was clear at that point that Bernard was very poorly and Ian had known Bernard for many years. Bernard was to loose his fight with cancer just a few weeks later.

Ian Linda Bob and Damien returned to dismantle and take the equipment away a few weeks after Christmas with the intention of offering it for sale to the local amateur community.

One of Bernard's solidstate radio's of choice was Yaesu's FT757GX. Developed in the 1980's the radio had an output power of 100w on SSB and CW but was limited to 25w AM/FM. Full specs below.

Type: Amateur HF transceiver
Frequency range: TX: 10-160 m + WARC
RX: 0.5-30 MHz
RF Power output: FM/SSB/CW: 100 W
AM: 25 W
Receiver system: N/A
Sensitivity: N/A
Selectivity: N/A
Image rejection: N/A
Voltage: 13.5 VDC
Current drain: RX: Max 2 A
TX: Max 20 A
Impedance: 50 ohms, SO-239
Dimensions (W*H*D): 238*93*238 mm

Although not a contact of Bernards you and see and hear an FT757 in action on the link below.

Yaesu FT757GX listening to VK4SY on 80m

Having tried the FT-757GX Bernard upgraded to the Yaesu 767GX and what a great radio this is.

This is a very versatile radio giving you 100w on HF and the added plus benefit of installing optional 6/2/70 10w modules. Having read the reviews of everyday radio amateurs on eham, I don't think I found anyone with a bad word for the set.

Once this radio was put on the market it didn't take long for a buyer to come forward with his money to buy the radio. To all intents and purposes the radio really sold itself. After getting the set home the new owner stripped it down and gave it a service and enjoys using it on a daily basis.

Here's a you tube link if you would like to see a video of set in action with 2E0HTS


Another video of a Topband QSO with G0RRL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XXBnykzq4s&feature=related

Bernard also had a number of classic valve transceivers and receivers in his collection that was nice to see.

Halicrafter SX-110

G4DCG helps to extend the range of the DX-Cluster.

Before the day when the internet was freely available access to the DX Cluster was acheived via packet radio. Ian G0VGS was very grateful to Bernard for allowing him to install a X1J node set up of 3 TNC's and 3 radios that allowed access to the cluster from the Fylde area. The callsign was GB7LA.


One of Bernard's area's of experimentation was in the field of antenna construction and whilst he had professionally made beams by people like Cushcraft he also experimented with wire antenna's, traps and baluns.

Damien G0LLG and myself took on the job of dismantling the antenna's setting off from Morecambe on a very foggy Saturday morning most of which cleared by the time we reached Bernard's home, however the frost was to stay with us all day.

Our first task was to examine the site and work out a plan that would allow us to work effectively and safely. You might see why from the picture below.

After assessing the situation It was decided that we would start by lowering the vertical sections of the mast and then slowly tilting the mast so that we could gain access to the beam sections.

Damien Lowered the mast slowly whilst I checked for any problems as each section came down. One section did give us a little trouble but this was fix by applying a little lubricant.

Once the mast was lowered vertically, I took over on the other winch and Damien helped guide the mast down and looked out for snags caused by the bushes you can see on the right side of this picture.

I secured the winch and we set to work taking each antenna section apart. Before removing the section it was marked so that we had a reference point for reassembly. Once removed each section was laid on the ground in line with its position on the boom. There were one or two sections that needed a little encouragement to come apart but a little WD40 sorted that problem.

Once all the sections were removed we reassembled them making use of the marks and marked them up that the antenna could be put back together again with ease.

Once the boom had been removed we turned our attention to the rotator and finally the coaxial feed cables to the mast. Sadly 90% of the coax was water damaged.

Damien and I returned a few days later to take down the numerous wire antenna's. This took a little longer than expected because we had to take time out for tea and biscuits followed later by some welcome Fish and Chips. With all the antenna's down and stored in a place of safety. Damien and I can take pleasure in a job well done but we never lost sight that we were dealing with the station of a well respected fellow amateur radio operator who was not just a perfect gentleman at all times, but a fellow student in the ever changing hobby of Amateur Radio. From our time taking the antenna's down we soon realised that G4DCG was a man who strived to excel to the best of his ability in all that he turned his hand too.

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog. My personal philosophy is in celebrating the life of a fellow radio amateur as we morn the loss. My glass is in perfect balance being both half empty and half full at the same time.

Brian G0RDH