Hams of Bletchley Park

I've always loved amateur radio enthusiasts, and many's the time I wished I had a Ham license and a set of my own. But as cool as Ham is as a hobby, it is infinitely cooler for the Hams of Milton Keynes, UK, who are within spitting distance of the legendary Bletchley Park, the site of the famous WWII codebreaking effort that decoded the Nazi messages captured by intrepid Hams from across the UK using giant, beautiful computers. The Milton Keynes Amateur Radio Society actually meets at Bletchley Park on Mondays, and volunteers from the society staff a booth in the museum, surrounded by postcards and certificates from other Hams around the world.
In 1993, Radio Club Members Warren Backhouse, John James, Eric Simpson and David White, who had been meeting every Wednesday at the Bletchley Park Social Club for many years, decided to assist in a recently set-up project to save the Bletchley Park code breaking centre from demolition. Their (unspoken) objective was to secure a toe-hold on the Bletchley Park site, with the intention of obtaining premises which would be suitable for use by the Radio Club.

Warren Backhouse became the Chairman of this unofficial group, which attended many meetings for volunteers, held between mid 1993 and 5th February 1994 when Bletchley Park opened to the Public for the first time. The group constructed a working replica of a Middle-East “Y“ Station[1], which at the time was the only operational exhibit on the site.



  1. On seeing the headline in my RSS reader, it took me just a few seconds to click from the image of a room full of smoked pigs’ legs in an aging Victorian mansion back to that of a rack of large boxy things with lots of knobs and dials making strange whistling and hissing noises interspersed with human voices.

  2. Cory,
    If you test in the US (not sure if you have some sort of residence there you can use) it is quite easy for anyone with a tech backround, and no morse code required. I have fun with HF data and low power earth-moon-earth operations. Build a QRP radio with sometimes hundreds of miles range for $10 the size of a match box.

  3. Cory:

    As a citizen of Canada, as I believe you are, testing in the US is not going to happen. But the requirements for a license up there are similar to the US, and the Canadian Basic class license is similar to the US license class Technician. No morse code requirement in either case, and the questions you’ll get on the test are all posted on the web, along with the answers. Anyone that can memorize 4 multiple guess answers each for 65 or so questions, along with which one is the RIGHT answer, can pass this test. If you have some slight exposure to basic physics or/and electronics, you would probably already know the answers to some of the questions. Others are rules-n-regs and just have to be memorized.

    It’s not hard. My wife has problems with remote controls for the TV/DVD player, and she’s licensed.

    Also: The 11-year sunspot cycle is at it’s low point now, with evidence that it’s on the upswing. In a few years, the 6-meter band (the Magic Band) will be jumping and continent-hopping conversations on a Technician-class license will become much more common.



  4. hey, corey…

    these days, the test is REALLY easy.. and it’s amazing how many people are on there…

    some neat stuff going on..

    let me know if you are interested in learning more.

    73 de kb8qpt


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