Radio Society of Great Britain

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Radio Society of Great Britain
RSGB headquarters in Bedford, UK, July 2009.
Formation1913 [1]
Type Company Limited by Guarantee, registered in England and Wales
PurposeAdvocacy, Education
Headquarters3 Abbey Court, Fraser Road, Priory Business Park, Bedford MK44 3WH
Region served
22,600 [2]
Dave Wilson, M0OBW
Main organ
board of directors
Affiliations International Amateur Radio Union

The Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB), first founded in 1913 as the London Wireless Club, [1] is the United Kingdom's recognised national society for amateur radio operators. The society's patron is Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and it claims to represent the interests of the UK's 80,000 licensed radio amateurs. A long recognised amateur radio organisation, the society is the national member society representing the United Kingdom and certain dependent territories of the United Kingdom in the International Amateur Radio Union. It also acts as a medium for communication between the licensed operators and the UK government.

Amateur radio operator

An amateur radio operator is someone who uses equipment at an amateur radio station to engage in two-way personal communications with other amateur operators on radio frequencies assigned to the amateur radio service. Amateur radio operators have been granted an amateur radio license by a governmental regulatory authority after passing an examination on applicable regulations, electronics, radio theory, and radio operation. As a component of their license, amateur radio operators are assigned a call sign that they use to identify themselves during communication. There are about three million amateur radio operators worldwide.

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh Member of the British Royal Family, consort to Queen Elizabeth II

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is the husband of Queen Elizabeth II.

A dependent territory, dependent area or dependency is a territory that does not possess full political independence or sovereignty as a sovereign state yet remains politically outside the controlling state's integral area.



The RSGB has traditionally acted as the organisation through which its members interact with the telecommunications regulatory authority of the United Kingdom, Ofcom. Although Ofcom has used its web site to solicit opinions directly from all amateur radio enthusiasts and other interested parties, the RSGB continues to advise and to seek to influence Ofcom on the likely impact of proposed changes in many areas – from decisions on licensing and bandwidth controls through to the use of broadband over power lines PLT (which it is thought would cause large amounts of electromagnetic noise).

Ofcom government agency

The Office of Communications, commonly known as Ofcom, is the UK government-approved regulatory and competition authority for the broadcasting, telecommunications and postal industries of the United Kingdom.

Electromagnetic interference

Electromagnetic interference (EMI), also called radio-frequency interference (RFI) when in the radio frequency spectrum, is a disturbance generated by an external source that affects an electrical circuit by electromagnetic induction, electrostatic coupling, or conduction. The disturbance may degrade the performance of the circuit or even stop it from functioning. In the case of a data path, these effects can range from an increase in error rate to a total loss of the data. Both man-made and natural sources generate changing electrical currents and voltages that can cause EMI: ignition systems, cellular network of mobile phones, lightning, solar flares, and auroras. EMI frequently affects AM radios. It can also affect mobile phones, FM radios, and televisions, as well as observations for radio astronomy.

RSGB also acts as a parent organisation to oversee and govern many smaller groups and societies. Some of these societies unite local areas (such as repeater groups) or groups of individuals (such as Forces service groups, or old timer groups) or even people interested in a particular amateur radio band (such as 2-metre band groups).

Amateur radio repeater

An amateur radio repeater is an electronic device that receives a weak or low-level amateur radio signal and retransmits it at a higher level or higher power, so that the signal can cover longer distances without degradation. Many repeaters are located on hilltops or on tall buildings as the higher location increases their coverage area, sometimes referred to as the radio horizon, or "footprint". Amateur radio repeaters are similar in concept to those used by public safety entities, businesses, government, military, and more. Amateur radio repeaters may even use commercially packaged repeater systems that have been adjusted to operate within amateur radio frequency bands, but more often amateur repeaters are assembled from receivers, transmitters, controllers, power supplies, antennas, and other components, from various sources.

The society publishes a monthly magazine called RadCom , along with a range of technical books.


RadCom is the monthly magazine published by the Radio Society of Great Britain and is provided to all corporate members of the society. Typically 100 pages, it includes a mixture of news, theory, construction and technical articles of interest to the amateur radio community. RadCom is the largest circulation amateur radio-related magazine in the United Kingdom.


The roots of the Radio Society of Great Britain can traced back to the formation of the London Wireless Club, inaugurated in West Hampstead on 5 July 1913. [3] The first President was Alan Archibald Campbell-Swinton who was succeeded in 1920 by James Robert Erskine-Murray. [4]

Alan Archibald Campbell-Swinton Scottish electrical engineer

Alan Archibald Campbell-SwintonFRS was a Scottish consulting electrical engineer, who provided the theoretical basis for the electronic television, two decades before the technology existed to implement it. He began experimenting around 1903 with the use of cathode ray tubes for the electronic transmission and reception of images. Campbell described the theoretical basis for an all electronic method of producing television in a 1908 letter to Nature. Campbell-Swinton's concept was central to the cathode ray television because of his proposed modification of the cathode ray tube that allowed its use as both a transmitter and receiver of light. The cathode-ray tube was the system of electronic television that was subsequently developed in later years, as technology caught up with Campbell-Swinton's initial ideas. Other inventors would use Campbell-Swinton's ideas, as a starting-point to realise the cathode ray tube television as the standard, workable form of all electronic television that it became for decades after his death. It is generally considered that the original credit for the successful theoretical conception of using a cathode ray tube device for imaging should belong to Campbell-Swinton.

Dr James Robert Erskine-Murray FRSE MIEE (1868-1927) was a Scottish electrical engineer and inventor. A protege of Lord Kelvin ha also worked with Marconi and was a pioneer in the development of the telegraph. He wrote extensively on telegraphy and wireless communication.

At its first meeting in September 1913, it was decided that the name should change from the London Wireless Club to the Wireless Society of London. [5] In November 1922, the name of the Society was changed to that it holds to this day, the substitution of the term 'Great Britain' for 'London' being made with the view to extend the perceived scope of the Society's work. [6]

The RSGB made the first radio transmission across to the United States, but failed to have any receiving equipment. Many members were slightly annoyed by this fact and so formed other sections of the RSGB which were later absorbed into the RSGB itself.[ citation needed ]

During World War II, the entire RSGB Council and many of its members were recruited into MI8, also known as the Radio Security Service. Its mission was to intercept clandestine enemy transmissions. [7] [8]

In 2006, the RSGB cooperated with Ofcom to revise the amateur radio licence in the United Kingdom; following the formal consultation process, from 8 February 2007 the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949 was replaced by the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006. [9] Changes included removing the annual licence fee and removing the requirement to log all transmissions. Amateur radio operators gained permission to operate one's amateur radio station remotely, and the changes increased the spectrum available to the lower classes of licensees. [10] [11]

National Radio Centre

Exhibition at RSGB National Radio Centre, informing, how radio portion of electromagnetic spectrum is currently allocated and utilised on specific frequency bands Bletchley Park, RSGB National Radio Centre, Nov 2016.jpg
Exhibition at RSGB National Radio Centre, informing, how radio portion of electromagnetic spectrum is currently allocated and utilised on specific frequency bands

The National Radio Centre at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire opened in 2012. [12] It has a library, radio station, museum and bookshop in a newly constructed building close to the main Bletchley Park entrance. [13] [14]

2011 Expenses Scandal

On 28 March 2011, the Board announced that the RSGB's general manager, Peter Kirby G0TWW, had left the Society's employment after the discovery of financial irregularities, allegedly to the tune of £41,000. [15] RSGB Director, Don Beattie G3BJ, acted as general manager until the appointment of a new general manager, Graham Coomber G0NBI, in May 2012.

The following notice appeared on the RSGB website on 16 October 2013: “The Board is pleased to be able to report to Members that the debt owed to the Society by its previous General Manager, who left the Society in early 2011, has been repaid in full, together with statutory interest and the Society’s court fees. This will be reflected in the 2013 accounts as a write-back of the provision taken against the debt in the 2011 accounts. Details will be in the annual report and accounts which will be published in time for the AGM in 2014. The Board expresses its thanks to the Society team which has brought about the recovery of this debt and now regards the matter as closed. No further comment will be made.”

RSGB Centenary 2013

In 2013 the RSGB celebrated its centenary with a programme of events including a special callsign G100RSGB, the RSGB Centenary Award 2013 and a construction competition. The special callsign G100RSGB travelled around the 13 RSGB regions and was operated by groups in each area. [16]


There are competing demands from more and more non-amateur uses of radio (for example mobile operators and wireless devices). Despite this, the RSGB has been able to maintain existing amateur radio allocations and negotiate some new ones.

With the formation of the Youth Committee the society is catering for the demands of the younger licensees. In 2014, The society took part in the International Amateur Radio Union's Youngsters on the Air event in Finland. The RSGB will be hosting YOTA in 2017. The Youth Committee is chaired by Milo Noblet, M0ILO, who acts as Youth Coordinator for the UK for the International Amateur Radio Union [ citation needed ]


The RSGB publishes many books on amateur radio and related matters, including:


RadCom is the official journal of the Radio Society of Great Britain, and is posted free monthly to all RSGB members. There are two other online publications:

See also

Related Research Articles

Guglielmo Marconi Italian inventor and radio pioneer

Guglielmo Marconi, 1st Marquis of Marconi was an Italian inventor and electrical engineer, known for his pioneering work on long-distance radio transmission, development of Marconi's law, and a radio telegraph system. He is credited as the inventor of radio, and he shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Ferdinand Braun "in recognition of their contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy".


Radioteletype (RTTY) is a telecommunications system consisting originally of two or more electromechanical teleprinters in different locations connected by radio rather than a wired link. These machines were superseded by personal computers (PCs) running software to emulate teleprinters. Radioteletype evolved from earlier landline teleprinter operations that began in the mid-1800s. The US Navy Department successfully tested printing telegraphy between an airplane and ground radio station in 1922. Later that year, the Radio Corporation of America successfully tested printing telegraphy via their Chatham, Massachusetts, radio station to the R.M.S. Majestic. Commercial RTTY systems were in active service between San Francisco and Honolulu as early as April 1932 and between San Francisco and New York City by 1934. The US military used radioteletype in the 1930s and expanded this usage during World War II. From the 1980s, teleprinters were replaced by computers running teleprinter emulation software.

LPD433 is a UHF band in which license free communication devices are allowed to operate in some regions. The frequencies correspond with the ITU region 1 ISM band of 433.050 MHz to 434.790 MHz, and operation is limited to CEPT countries. The frequencies used are within the 70-centimeter band, which is currently reserved for government and amateur radio operations in the United States and most nations worldwide.

MI8, or Military Intelligence, Section 8 was a British Military Intelligence group responsible for signals intelligence and was created in 1914. It originally consisted of four sections: MI8(a), which dealt with wireless policy; MI8(b), based at the General Post Office, dealt with commercial and trade cables; MI8(c) dealt with the distribution of intelligence derived from censorship; and MI8(d), which liaised with the cable companies. During World War I MI8 officers were posted to the cable terminals at Poldhu Point and Mullion in Cornwall and Clifden in County Galway, continued until 1917 when the work was taken over by the Admiralty. In WW2, MI8 was responsible for the extensive War Office Y Group and briefly, for the Radio Security Service.

Low frequency or LF is the ITU designation for radio frequencies (RF) in the range of 30 kilohertz (kHz) to 300 kHz. As its wavelengths range from ten kilometres to one kilometre, respectively, it is also known as the kilometre band or kilometre wave.

Telecommunications towers in the United Kingdom are operated mainly by Arqiva. Arqiva operates the transmitters for UK terrestrial TV and most radio broadcasting, both analogue and digital. BT also operates a number of telecommunications towers in the UK.

CQ is a code used by wireless operators, particularly those communicating in Morse code, (— · — · — — · —), but also by voice operators, to make a general call. Transmitting the letters CQ on a particular radio frequency is an invitation for any operators listening on that frequency to respond. It is still widely used in amateur radio.

Wireless Telegraphy Act is a stock short title used for legislation in the Republic of Ireland, South Africa and the United Kingdom relating to wireless telegraphy.

Arqiva is a British telecommunications company which provides infrastructure and broadcast transmission facilities in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, along with commercial WiFi and smart meter facilities for Scotland and the north of England. The company headquarters is located at Crawley Court in the village of Crawley, Hampshire, just outside Winchester. Its main customers are broadcasters and mobile phone network operators, and its main asset is a network of over 1,000 radio and television transmission sites. It is owned by a consortium of investors led by CPP and the Australian investment house Macquarie Bank. Arqiva is a patron of The Radio Academy.

Near vertical incidence skywave, or NVIS, is a skywave radio-wave propagation path that provides usable signals in the range between groundwave and conventional skywave distances—usually 30–400 miles (50–650 km). It is used for military and paramilitary communications, broadcasting, especially in the tropics, and by radio amateurs for nearby contacts circumventing line-of-sight barriers. The radio waves travel near-vertically upwards into the ionosphere, where they are refracted back down and can be received within a circular region up to 650 km from the transmitter. If the frequency is too high, refraction fails to occur and if it is too low, absorption in the ionospheric D layer may reduce the signal strength.

Amateur radio station

An amateur radio station is a radio station designed to provide radiocommunications in the amateur radio service for an amateur radio operator. Radio amateurs build and operate several types of amateur radio stations, including fixed ground stations, mobile stations, space stations, and temporary field stations. A slang term often used for an amateur station's location is the shack, named after the small enclosures added to the upperworks of naval ships to hold early radio equipment and batteries.

Invention of radio aspect of history relating to the invention of radio

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A cellular repeater is a type of bi-directional amplifier used to improve cell phone reception. A cellular repeater system commonly consists of a donor antenna that receives and transmits signal from nearby cell towers, coaxial cables, a signal amplifier, and an indoor rebroadcast antenna.

The 2200 meter or 136 kHz band is the lowest frequency band in which amateur radio operators are allowed to transmit. It was formally allocated to amateurs at the 2007 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-07). The band is available on a secondary basis in all ITU regions with the limitation that amateur stations have maximum radiated power of 1 Watt effective isotropic radiated power.

Throughout the history of amateur radio, amateur radio enthusiasts have made significant contributions to science, engineering, industry, and social services. Research by amateur radio operators has founded new industries, built economies, empowered nations, and saved lives in times of emergency.

Moxon antenna

The Moxon antenna or Moxon Rectangle is a simple and mechanically robust two-element parasitic array antenna. It takes its name from the amateur radio operator Les Moxon .The design is rectangular, with roughly half the rectangle being the driven element and the other half being the reflector. It is electrically equivalent to a two element Yagi antenna with bent elements and without directors.

Call signs in Europe are codes consisting of a three letter country code and a series of letters and numbers, used as unique identifiers for broadcasting and telecommunications. These are not designated formally to all broadcast stations in Europe like they are in other parts of the world, but some broadcasters have developed their own makeshift call signs. It is quite common that instead of regular call signs abbreviations of the stations' names are used. In most of Europe, TV and radio stations have unique names, such as ProSieben in Germany, France 2 in France, Nova Television in Bulgaria, Antena 3 in Spain, etc.

Call signs in United Kingdom include a three letter country code, and a series of letters and numbers.


  1. 1 2 Clarricoats, John. World at their fingertips. ISBN   0-900612-09-6.
  2. "RSGB Annual Report – 1 January to 31 December 2008" (PDF). RSGB.
  3. "Amateur Notes", Wireless World, The Marconi Press Agency, Limited., 1 (5): 340, August 1913
  5. Clarricoats 1967, p.26
  6. Clarricoats 1967, p.77
  7. West, Nigel. GCHQ: The Secret Wireless War 1900–1986. ISBN   0-340-41197-X.
  8. "Radio Security Service". CLUTCH Club.
  9. "Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006". UK Government.
  10. "Amateur Radio License Guidance for Licensees" (PDF). OFCOM.
  11. "UK Amateur Radio License Section 2 Terms, conditions and limitations" (PDF). OFCOM.
  12. "National Radio Centre Official Opening", RadCom, Radio Society of Great Britain, 88 (8): 12, August 2012
  13. "National Radio Centre Official Opening", RadCom, Radio Society of Great Britain, 88 (8): 12, August 2012
  14. David Summer, K1ZZ (October 2012). "RSGB opens showcase for amateur radio at Bletchley Park". QST. The American Radio Relay League. 96 (10): 96.
  15. "Ham radio society chief leaves after 'financial irregularities'". Bedfordshire on Sunday . 17 April 2011. Archived from the original on 4 January 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  16. RSGB Centenary 2013

Further reading