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GB1AO - A Capital Advertisement for Amateur Radio

 GB1AO - A Capital Advertisement for Amateur Radio

Between 4-5pm on Friday 25th September, Music Publisher and Amateur radio enthusiast, Martin Maynard took his place on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. In front of an audience in the square and transmitting to a global Internet audience Martin promoted the hobby of Amateur Radio. Martin was taking part in an arts project created by sculptor Antony Gormley.

Martin was allocated a one hour slot on the plinth during which he operated and talked about many facets of Amateur radio. For the occasion, Ofcom issued a special callsign GB1AO (Gulf Bravo One And Other).

The event which runs every hour, 24 hours a day, for 100 days without a break was streamed live on the event website and on the Sky website, courtesy of SkyArts. The project has been choosing people from all over the UK to occupy the empty Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in London, a space normally reserved for statues of Kings and Generals.

Martin talked about his earliest recollections of the hobby, how he started in 1968 and how things have changed since the days of valves and second world war army surplus kit to today's highly complex. Due to the limited space on the plinth for equipment, Martin's station comprised of an Icom IC-756 HF Base station and desk microphone, IC-E2820 D-Star dual band mobile and the IC-E92D D-Star dual band Handheld. The mini station also had a selection of antennas to give the audience a glimpse of what Amateur would use.

Martin had contacts with a number of radio amateurs using the Icom IC-E2820 and IC-E92D radios. Martin first called Giles Read, G1MFG, the technical editor of Radcom, the magazine of the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) for his view on what amateur radio is today. Giles made the point that Amateur Radio was one of only two hobbies that require you to pass an exam before you can do it. The other is piloting an aeroplane. He also talked about the important work the RSGB was doing in getting youngsters into the hobby and the educational work done in schools.

Martin then went on to speak to Dennis Pibworth G4KWT about the Radio Amateur Emergency Network (RAYNET), how it was formed and the important work it plays in supporting Emergency services and Council Emergency planning. Nigel McFetridge G8FIE then talked about how Amateurs could get involved with satellite communication. Ian Lockyer (M3INL) Marketing Manager of Icom UK finished off talking about D-STAR where it originally started and the types of radios that are available.

The station finished at 5pm when Martin was removed from the plinth the way he had arrived… on a JCB. Martin applied to take part because he said, ' I wanted to be a part of the project as I am an admirer of Anthony Gormley's work. I was therefore keen to take part and it seemed like a good idea to use the slot to promote something I am keen on. In terms of achievement if the outcome is to turn a few heads towards Amateur radio as a hobby, that would be good.'

I asked Martin about his plinth experience, he said, ' The first 30 minutes took a lifetime and the last 30 minutes flew by. Waiting to go up in the JCB transporter was quite fun, I asked the 'most asked question', "does anyone bail out at this point" the answer was no.' So what did he think the reaction was in the audience in Trafalgar Square? ' I think they were quite amused. I got a lot of positive comments when I came down and many emails from those who watched it on the web.'

Overall, how did he think the hour went? I think it went very well. We made contact with other amateurs, talked through the benefits, of the hobby and the spin-offs into other areas of education. It proved D-STAR to be a very stable communication mode in a built up area.'

Martin lives in Pangbourne, Berkshire and was originally licensed in 1969 with an operating callsign G8CIX. Martin is a successful businessman. He has worked in the fast pace end of the music business. His company Sounds Good Ltd makes CDs and DVDs and is involved in event management and radio hire. Martin's Amateur radio interests include Narrow Band Television, supporting RAYNET and chatting to friends on 80 metres.

Icom UK Marketing -


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