So a few months have passed now, since my callsign was first allocated to me on October 12th 2018. Conveniently the same day that I travelled to the RSGB Convention for a weekend. By the time I had arrived there, a question had already been sent to the RSGB, based on my callsign listing being updated on QRZ.com, and this was the start of an incredibly interesting weekend!
Initially I started out with a sticky label on my badge, covering my intermediate callsign with an outline of M5ET (outlines tend to stand out better than just thin writing). That on its own got a lot of attention – I had every comment from “Well done on passing your exam” to “Nice callsign, that’ll upset some people” to “How did you get that?” to “That’s an illegal callsign. Ofcom can’t have issued that to you” through to “I shall consider anyone with an M5+2 as a pirate, and refuse to work them”. All rather entertaining and not unexpected.
During the afternoon on the Saturday, I updated the label as I got hold of a thicker black marker. This seemed to generate even more attention, with a couple of people even asking if they could take photographs of my badge to prove they had met “the first M5+2”. More comments about how good a callsign it is, more negative comments about how it makes a mockery of the SCC NoVs etc, and more discussions around how it was even possible. It was during these discussions that a number of people decided to go home and apply for a club callsign (the application form is simple, and just requires three “club officers” to be listed) so that they too could get an M5+2.
Sunday morning I decided that there had been enough attention that I would program my green LED badge up, and use that. Initially I wasn’t sure if it would draw too much attention, but by this point it felt like everyone already knew, and that it would therefore not be a point of contention in itself. The badge is a simple dot matrix affair, battery powered and quite bright. I’ll stick a photo at the bottom of this post.
Due to the number of questions, I then decided to post on Twitter about it. There had been enough comments already that I figured it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone, but it seems this was then the start of the real discussions. My tweet was a fairly simple affair, clarifying that I’d got my callsign through legitimate means having passed my exam. Whilst in itself it didn’t exactly go viral or anything, it gained a lot of comments and responses, and was linked to from multiple websites and news articles. It even made it to other countries – an article in Australia (copied from one of the UK ones), and I had an e-mail from Amateur Radio Newsline in the US asking for an interview-type piece they could publicise. Alongside this, e-mails to many reflectors were flying around, posts on various discussion forums occurred, and the whole thing was really quite interesting in terms of how widespread it had become.
I’ve seen a lot of other people have been allocated M5+2 callsigns since then – some are clubs, such as M5SB and M5DX, and some are personal callsigns such as M5AX – and I’m pleased to see that there is so much excitement surrounding this. Perhaps it will even lead to more people attempting their full licence so that they can then apply for a shorter callsign.
There have been many comments suggesting that Ofcom no longer know their own rules, that my callsign is likely to be revoked, that I should be worried I might lose it etc etc. None of this is anything more than speculation, and Ofcom have made no attempt to contact me since my callsign was allocated, except to provide me with an NoV for an SSES callsign we are running for a year. I do not envisage any issues with keeping my callsign, and it seems that the precedent has now been set that “any valid combination which isn’t allocated and fits your licence term can now be allocated”, which will please those who wanted a G-call, an M#+2, or even a 2E1 callsign. Indeed I am aware of a short 2E1 being issued – 2E1GW – which may also be the first of its type.
So in summary, there were a lot of mixed reactions, but things now seem to be calming down. It’s only taken 5 months or so, but people are accepting it and happy to see it the way I do – it’s “just another valid callsign to work”. For me it has significance, otherwise I wouldn’t have applied for it, but for others, it’s just numbers and letters.