Frequently Asked Questions

Why do my messages to the group not appear?

What is the best schematic drawing program?

How can I avoid paying duty on USA imports?

A good many time this will be because you are posting via the Yahoo Groups web interface and you are replying to a previous message. In all likelihood, your reply will have gone only to the original sender rather than the group.
This is the default setting and it isn't that clear when you use the yahoo web interface to reply that you can over ride this and reply to group.
From the emails I've had recently from people wondering why their post doesn't appear, the present yahoo interface is even more confusing than the old version. The answer is either to take care to change to "reply to group" or don't use the interface at all and use an email client. The group default is not going to change. Yahoo "is what it is" - and it is free - but we maybe need to take account of its "eccentricities".

John G8JMB provided the following description of the correct steps to use, and although any changes to the Yahoo web interface may render this out of date, it is very useful for now.

The following may help with yahoo eccentricities (to use Tony's well chosen euphemism):
To reply to group do this:
1 click [REPLY]
2 expand the header; click the double down arrow to the left  of
    'Subject: [________________________]
3 click the single down arrow to the right of     
     'To: [________________________]
4 select the 2nd line ""
5 click in the message box and write your message
6 click [SEND] below the message box.


While you cannot avoid paying VAT, there are some items of amateur radio gear that need not attract duty if properly marked. Here are a few messages in the archive that may help...

There is also a useful article in Radcom July 2001 and here is a link to Customs & Excise with useful information.

1/3/2006 - updated information from Peter Dl2FI

July 2016 - a couple of links that may be useful:-
From Martin G8JNJ
and here is his post

From Andy G0FTD
and lots more ........

From Patrick G0JED
Here is his post.

October 2017 - Terry VK5TM reports that the commodity code for the importation of Amateur Radio equipment and electronic kits into the UK with 0% duty is 8525600000.


Best schematic drawing software

Mike G8NXD
There are a few, a really good free one that is well worth the effort in learning but it is a long uphill struggle and easily forgotten after not using it for a while is EAGLE from CadSoft, also supported by Farnell / Element14 and IIRC RadioSpares UK the other is ExpressPCB and ExpressSCH, personally I hate it but its easier to use after an hour or so. I wont give a URL 'cos I don't want to encourage its use :-)
Slim G4IPZ
I still find Expresspcb a very useable program . It has two parts. ExpressSCH for drawing schematics and ExpressPCB for board layouts. The download can be found at It will do standard transistor/ic diagrams although if you need specialist devices you may have to make them up yourself although there is a yahoo group with downloads at
Try Designspark from RS - its free!
Bob F Burns G3OOU
I use Visio version 4 (circa 1995) for circuit and mechanical drawing for my technical web site. This is very old software and was purchased in a sealed package on the well known auction site for about £5 some while ago. It is extremely easy to use, has libraries that can be extendedand drawings can be copied to the clipboard and pasted into wordprocessor or webfiles. The installation routine would not run under Windows 7 64 bit but it can be manually installed and the executables run with no problems under WinXP and Win7. Later versions of Visio are very expensive. Diagram Designer, TinyCAD and KiCad arefree circuit packages that have versions for Windows.
John G3UGY
Circuitmaker 2000 is pretty good. It has the advantage that once you've drawn your circuit you can (if you want to) use the built in analogue and digital circuit simulator to test your circuits and probe it. Bundled with it is Traxmaker for designing / laying out printed circuit boards. It was once an expensive software package used commercially but the developers no longer support it preferring instead to continue development of an alternative package. It is very easy to learn and use. It seems to work ok on Windows 7 x64 (not tried 8) Search for it. There is also a Yahoo group for it The files section of the group may contain a copy.
Robin G7VKQ
For what it's worth I've found DipTrace ( a pretty good and relatively easy to use package. They have a free version that has some limitations on size of project / number of layers - but probably suitable for most smaller projects, and it's not tied to one particular PCB house either. They have versions available for WIndows, OSX and Linux as well.
Steve N6QBQ
I have used Visio not only for schematics, but also making full sized templates for drilling and planning component layout. Visio lacks proper vacuum tube (sorry, VALVE) symbols, but you can make up your own as I have, and any other schematic bits and pieces you desire. I found Visio intuitive and very easy to use

Useful Links:
Video Tutorial for Eagle Software (on Youtube)
and files on Github - and Author's website.