||Quite often I'm asked, (usually
by foreign or UK foundation licensees) why I've got an M5 callsign. People
are usually aware of the G, 2*0, 2*1, M0, M1, M3 and M6 prefixes, but not
The story begins when I was first licensed in 1979, I took, and passed
the City and Guilds 765 Radio Amateurs Exam parts 1 and 2 (the RAE). At the
time there was only one examination unlike the three of today, the two parts
were licensing conditions and radio theory, and you had to pass both to get
a license. Following an exam pass there were two options, you could apply
for a "B" license (G8*** callsign) which permitted operation on the VHF
bands upwards (note; 70Mhz was the lowest available band as 50Mhz was not
allowed in the UK then). Alternatively you could take a Post Office 12wpm
Morse Test at a Coastal radio station, then apply for your "A" license
(G4*** callsign) which gave access to all bands.
Apart from access to new bands, 10Mhz, 18Mhz, 24Mhz and 50Mhz not much
changed for a few years until the introduction of the Novice License (later
to be re-named Intermediate). A
simpler exam but with the practical addition of some radio based
construction gained the novice licensee with 50 watts, again with "A" and
"B" variants depending on success in a 5wpm Morse test.
In pre-empting the international requirement of a Morse test pass to allow
access to the HF bands being abolished, the Radio Licensing Agency decided
in the late 1990's to introduce a class "AB" license, which gave those who
had passed the RAE, and successfully completed a 5wpm Morse test access to
the HF bands with a power limit of 100 watts rather than the 400 watts of
the "A" license. In 2000 I took the 5wpm Morse test at York Amateur Radio
Rally and was then able to apply for my "AB" license getting the callsign
M5TXJ. Not long later the international Morse requirement was dropped so "A"
and "B" licensees gained HF access with their original calls and new
licensees got M0 callsigns issued as all were effectively "A"'s. With this,
M5's were discontinued, I believe there are approximately 240 of us, a
number slowly reducing. All M5's were given the option of swapping for an M0
callsign, I prefer to keep my exclusivity!