Cadet Units from around the UK took part in Exercise Blue Ham, which was run over the weekend of March 26/27th using the 5MHz (60m) shared band. Cadets who took part would have had to pass their Blue and Bronze Radio Operator Modules as a minimum and the ‘on-air’ time would also count towards their Foundation Licence. The exercise was introduced to enhance the Cadet experience of radio operation and to reach out to radio amateurs who may wish to join the Cadet Organisations as radio instructors.
Units set up and operated radio stations on the Band for the purpose of making contact with radio amateurs and exchanging specific information during their QSOs. The Exercise format was contained in a brief sent out to all of the participating Units so that planning could begin in order to maximise the use of the band by using the right antenna configuration and radio setup. With HF working conditions as they are at the moment, this was going to be a challenge for all taking part. Looking back over previous Blue Ham exercise data showed quite a variety of different and diverse antenna and radio setups with several stalwart radio amateurs even operating out in the field. This does not normally occur on this band because most operate from their home QTH.
Two weeks before the exercise Units were allocated special MRE (Exercise or Event) callsigns for the duration of the activity so that they could practice using them prior to the start. Outwith the exercise, other MR callsigns may be worked on 5MHz. However, to comply with RAFAC operating instructions no location information is given. The MRE is normally only used during the period of the exercise; this as always provided some interesting callsigns in everyone’s logbooks!
Cadets and Staff operated and logged each of the QSOs, recording the callsign, Maidenhead Locator, power, signal report and type of antenna. At times amateurs and cadets struggled to exchange information due to some non-military phonetic alphabet being used, which cadets were not used to. Examples like Baker instead of Bravo and Texas instead of Tango were used. However, both sides appeared to enjoy the phonetic exchanges and it got everyone thinking. As the exercise progressed different information was exchanged between the stations such as radio types and the weather.
The Blue Ham Team would like to thank the effort and time put in by all who participated in the Exercise. Another one is planned for later this year, so if you missed the chance to work the cadet stations and get some different callsigns in the log, then this will be your opportunity.