Volume:     1        No.   1                                       March 1992





A Welcome to Friends of Orkney Wireless Museum           - P M MacDonald

The Friends                                              -AW Flett

Developments                                             - A J Firth

The Birth of GB2OWM                                      -AW Wright

GB2OWM Activity Period(20 - 26 September 1991)           -AW Wright
Membership List


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A Welcome to Friends of Orkney Wireless Museum



Hello, and thank you for taking an interest in joining "The Friends of Orkney Wireless Museum".   I hope that you find your association with the Museum interesting and rewarding; indeed many of you have already been involved with electronics during your lives or have kindly donated exhibits to the Museum.

This first issue of our Bulletin is to let you know that we are now alive and kicking and to inform you of some news on the Museum.

The last few years have been a watershed in the development of the Museum.

When the Founder died in 1988 the family took up the reins of running the Museum for two years.   Then in June 1990 a Charitable Trust was set up to preserve the Museum for Orkney's posterity, changing the ownership from private to public domain, managed by Trustees.


Now in 1992, the Trustees are busy preparing an Application for Registration of the Museum.   This basically means that we become universally recognised as an official Museum, setting minimum standards for running the Museum.   This brings with it such responsibilities as proper cataloguing of exhibits, Budgeting for the future, and preparing a Collections Management Policy (i.e.   a proper foresight into what avenues the collecting will go).


Going back to 1983, when my father founded the Museum, I believe he unwittingly struck a rich vein of potential.   It was started against the odds with many doubters (myself included).   I remember casually mentioning to some fellow students in Edinburgh that my father was opening a Wireless Museum in Orkney.   This was greeted with much amusement.   (If I'd said that he was opening a factory to produce tartan paint, I would probably have been taken seriously !).   All the more satisfying that each year it seems to grow in stature.   A true memorial to someone's complete faith in an idea.


Now the Museum exists as an example to all future generations in Orkney of the skills and endeavours of the early pioneers and dealers brining the Science to our Islands.   The collection also reflects the history of Wireless throughout the UK,-giving it a a broader appeal.   I can see no reason why it could not become one of the finest collections in Scotland, but hopefully always keeping its friendly character and approachability.

For statistics, we have approximately 600 domestic receivers from 1922 onwards, 15-20 Televisions from about 1950 onwards, small collections of Gramophones and Transistors, an assortment of RAF, Navy, Army, CAA and marine equipment, and a variety of associated valves, batteries, test equipment and parts (Its going to be fun cataloguing that lot!).   This proud collection became very frustrating recently when I could not find a small working set for my kitchen which would receive Radio Orkney !!

The Friends organisation give an opportunity for people in all walks of life to have a little share in the future of the Museum, as well as keeping them informed of developments each year, and who knows maybe your children will be the Trustees of the future.


P M MacDonald



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The Friends


It's good to have friends: and since our support group "Friends of Orkney Wireless Museum" was instituted at the Orkney Science Festival in September 1991, we have acquired over 30 Friends.   Ages range from 20's to 80's, located extensively in Orkney, while there is a healthy following in the North of Scotland, plus good Friends based in Birmingham and as far away as Bristol. Thanks to you all for your interest and support.


Current Office Bearers are -

Chairman:      Mr A W Wright

Vice-chairman: Mr Michael MacDonald

Secretary:     Mr Peter M MacDonald

Treasurer:     Mr Arthur W Flett

These appointments expire at the Society's first Annual General Meeting to be held after the end of the financial year (30 April), whem the Friends can elect its own office bearers to serve for the next 12 months.


The annual subscription of 3 entitles the Friend to free entry for himself and one other to the Museum during the period of membership and copies of the Bulletin as often as they are issued.

There are opportunities for the members of the Friends to contribute articles, news items - technical, retrospective, nostalgic or otherwise -artwork, illustrations or cartoons for the Bulletin or to assist by sundry means in the expanding operation of the Museum during the busy summer months.


A.W. Flett

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The 1992 season Is now upon us, and we wonder what changes it will bring? 1991 which was the first year or the Museum as a Trust,  saw the purchase of much needed extra storage space in the form of an insulated container being sited between the museum building and the garden wall. We were very fortunate with the help given us by our good friend Murray Sinclair in obtaining the necessary temporary planning permission, and the loan of P.F.Thomsons trailer to transport the container to the "Hope".

As you are probably all aware,  the greatest need,  at the moment,  is for space to store,sort, maintain, and (most important) catalogue the collection,  The latter move is essential as we are awaiting recognition from the National Museums Council.  Once we are registered with the Council,  we will be eligible for all sorts of professional advice,, and help,  in the running and maintaining of the collection. Up until now the collection is housed in several places, all over Orkney, relying on good will,  and a keen memory on what is where! The container,  with its close proximity to the museum,   is in an ideal situation for the storage of new aquisitions,  and donations,  as they come in.

This storage problem is so acute that the Trustees made an approach to the Orkney Islands council seeking the lease of part of the former St,Margaret's Hope Primary School building.  We obtained support from the Community Council, and were offered three roams with their own entrance on a short term, one year,  lease.  The rent, although commercially reasonable, was beyond our means.  Meetings have been held with various bodies, and "O.I.C." are currently deliberating the situation. We hope that there will be a satisfactory outcome.  The whole collection, as I have already said, needs to be assembled,  catalogued,and indexed, so that the displays can be altered,  or varied, to create interest, and encourage visitors to return to see what is new,

The aid school building will be almost ideal.   It is bright, spacious and airy, with off peak heating.  It has its own car park, and entrance. It includes the former staff-roam, which will make an excellent workshop. The wirelesses etc. should not be subjected to heat,  and should be stored with plenty of air circulating round them.  This is where the old building is so suitable.

The sketch plans of the old school show the area under consideration, so that you can follow progress as it develops.














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The Birth of GB2OWM


As most members will know,the licensing of amateur radio stations in the UK is at present controlled by the Department of Trade and Industry via the Radiocommunications Agency.   Amateur Licenses are issued to individuals who have passed the requisite examinations and are of two types.   The "A" licence allows operation on any amateur waveband, whilst the "B" licence is restricted to frequencies higher than 30 MHz ie VHF only.


There is provision for Club Licences but these require a certain number of holders of Amateur Licences as members.


For special occasions a "Special Event" callsign can be obtained, issued as a variation on the licence of an existing holder.   These special callsigns all start with the prefix GB, and are available with a duration of 4 weeks.


On two occasions in the past the Museum has been activated as a Special Event Station using the Callsign GB2OWM ("OWM" standing for Orkney Wireless Museum), obtained as a variation on the licence of Bill, GM3IBU. Considerable interest was shown in these activities, and the Royal Naval Amateur Radio Society were sufficiently interested that they authorised these activities to use the Membership Number which had been held by the Museum founder.


It seemed to the Trustees that it would be a good idea to try and get the Callsign GB2OWM on a permanent basis and in July 1990 enquiries started, leading to correspondence with the Radio Society of Great Britain and with the Society's backing with the Radiocommunications Agency.   The Agency proved to be very helpful and indicated that if the Museum were to obtain a Club licence then the special call could be issued as a permanent variation.. Furthermore, the Agency were prepared to waive many of the requirements for a Club licence, so that an application by one A licence holder would be sufficient. Accordingly a Club Licence was sought for the Museum, the application being in the the name of GM3IBU.


Amateur licences are issued with callsigns in strict alphabetical order. At the time of the application (October 1990) calls were being issued in the 'ON series, and an enquiry was made to see if the call GM0OWM could be issued.   This request was approved provided that the application was held until the appropriate 'letters had been reached in the course of normal issue. Thus it was that on 26 March 1991 the callsign GM0OWM was issued to the Museum.   The Permanent Variation GB2OWM was issued on 20 June 1991.   So the Museum has two callsigns - a Club Call GM0OWM and a special call GB2OWM. It is intended that all activity from the Museum will use the special call. In addition the Royal Naval Amateur Radio Society has authorised the use of the number 0468 (the Founder's membership number) by the Museum as a permanent arrangement.


The Trustees would like to place on record their thanks to the Radio Society of Great Britain, the Radiocommunications Agency of the Department of Trade and Industry, the Radio Amateur Licensing Unit at Chesterfield, and the Committee of the Royal Naval Amateur Radio Society for all their help in attaining this happy result.


A W Wright





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GB2OWM ACTIVITY PERIOD (20 - 26 September 1991)



Having recently obtained the callsign GB2OWM for the Museum on a permanent basis it was decided that it should be activated for a week in September, at the close of the usual opening period, and to coincide with the Orkney Science Festival.

Experience had been gained with past activity at the Museum in April 1989 and September 1990, and it was decided that what had become almost a standard set up be employed. This consists of an FT101ZD Transceiver running about 100 watts, an ATU, and an inverted V arrangement of a G5RV aerial.   The mast used is about 25 feet high and was sited in the vacant ground lying to the East of the Museum.   The equipment was sited to the right of the door as one enters -this entailed moving out the Juke Box and borrowing a table and some chairs. This position of the station gives access to a window, which can be partly removed to allow the coaxial cable to enter and to a convenient power socket.

It was envisaged that operation would be in the afternoons and evenings of weekdays with all day on the Saturday and Sunday.   A rota was drawn up from all those willing to operate namely; Terry GM0AOY, Reg GM0CUY, George GM0HQG, David GM0MHS, Robert GM1MWK, Richard GM1PWS, Bill GM3IBU, Andy GM3MTS, Alan GM4IOB, Kim GM4LNN, David GM4TYU, Hilda GM4ZZH, Sandy GM6WOF, Anne GM6WPA, George GM7GMC and John GM8NFG.   Operation started on Friday 20th, and the station ran as planned until Thursday 26th, EXCEPT for Tuesday 24th when there was no operation because of a gale which made crossing the Barriers a hazardous operation.


Over the period there were 293 contacts with 35 countries.   It was interesting to note that the Russian stations were stressing the particular Republic when giving their location.   All contacts were by SSB telephony except for short spells on Wednesday the 25th and Thursday the 26th when David GM0MHS, and Terry GM0AOY used Morse.


All stations contacted were sent QSL cards, the Cards being a reprint funded by Orkney Tourist Board.


Apart from normal visitors, the station was visited by an excursion organised as part of the Science Festival, and a party from Holm School, who had originally planned to come on the day of the gale.



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Copy thanks to A W Wright


Friends of Orkney Wireless Museum


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