25 Sep 2020

2m FT8

At about 1900z I QSYed to 2m FT8. Already a QSO with a station in Brittany and my 10W to the big-wheel omni spotted by 15 stations in 4 countries.

Solar farm - NOT amateur radio

A UK company wants to build a large solar farm with back-up batteries around villages in the area. I have replied to their questionnaire on line. If eventually approved building will start in 2022 and the farm will be operational in 2025. 

Although I have few concerns overall, I have raised the issue of RF pollution if they design and fit power converters "on the cheap". This unlikely to affect me, but could make life tough for those trying to detect weak signals nearer these sites.

That wind - NOT amateur radio

Today has been very windy in East Anglia. A local friend took this picture from a bus that was delayed 45 minutes because of a fallen tree across the road.  He had to direct the driver on an alternative route.

Our tree - NOT amateur radio

For several years now we have watched a nearby tree though the seasons. It is starting to turn autumnal. In a few weeks most leaves will have gone until the spring.

Another Zoom meeting

The Cambridge radio club (CDARC) is holding another Zoom talk tonight at 8pm. This is a talk about noise cancelling by ex RSGB president Bob Whelan G3PJT. Details are on the CDARC website. Zoom meetings suit me well. Last time we had a very large number of people.

Autumn cyclamen - NOT amateur radio

We saw these yesterday on our walk at Anglesey Abbey.

IC-705 in the UK

From reports I am seeing, it looks as if UK customers are getting IC-705 transceivers from UK dealers at last.  Most seem pleased. The first review has appeared on eHam.

See https://www.eham.net/reviews/view-product?id=14776

6m FT8

 At about 0800z, I turned on my 10W 6m FT8 to the V2000 vertical. So far, just 1 G spot of me - G0PQO (50km) and nothing on RX.

UPDATE 1105z:  9 stations have spotted me so far with the best being EI2FG (565km) in southern Eire. This could be aircraft scatter. 3 stations (all G) spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1550z:  Now 16 spots of me with the best DX spot being by CN8LI in Morocco (2114km). 

UPDATE 1800z: 
20 stations spotted my 10W today. Several were probably Es.

Old workshop

I came across this photo of my old workshop at the back of the garage at the old QTH. Although I have a workbench in my current shack, my health precludes much building. 

Sunspots - Friday September 25th th 2020

Solar flux is 74 and the SSN 0 again. A=19 and K=4.

24 Sep 2020

Wireless charging and noise

 It occurs to me that the HF noise issue is going to get far worse.

At the moment I am lucky having a fairly low noise floor, but more people will, rightly, be getting cars that don't depend on fossil fuels. Wireless charging of these could raise local noise levels still further. There is a danger that HF bands and down could become unusable with weak signals. Narrow-band modes could be better. In the future there could be a big market for noise cancellers to help reduce noise from certain sources. Noise nullers usually work with one noise source and not white noise.

Oscar 100 activity (or lack of it)

As regular blog readers may know, I take a very unscientific peek at the Goonhilly web SDR to judge activity on the narrowband transponder of this geosynchronous satellite. Activity levels remain low with plenty of space for new users. When I looked just now, there were only 2 QSOs going on! OK, some are at work, especially in Europe, but in many places people are not.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

Get together - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday my wife had a few friends around (socially distanced!) to help celebrate a couple of birthdays. Here they are by the windmill next door to us.

6m FT8

or about the last hour (it is now 1012z) I have been on 6m FT8. Nothing has been spotted on RX and on TX just 2 Gs have spotted me so far.

UPDATE 1055z:  2 Gs spotted on RX here and just 2 spots by Gs of my 10W to the V2000 vertical omni.  No Es seen.

UPDATE 1813z:  Just the 2 G spots of me today and just 7 Gs spotted on RX. No signs here of Es.

2012 shack

This photo appeared as a FB memory today and shows the shack at the old QTH in 2012. 

Sunspots (at last) - Thursday September 24th 2020

Solar flux is 73 and the SSN 13!! A=11 and K=4.

23 Sep 2020

IC-705 in the UK?

Just wondering if anyone in the UK has received one yet?  ICOM UK were expecting them "mid September", but I have not heard of any with customers yet. I haven't ordered one as they often fix early life issues with hardware or firmware updates. It is also far too expensive. I can wait. Although I have a few videos on my site, new ones are appearing most days now.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/ic705

Rear garden - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows our rear garden on September 23rd. Most trees are still in leaf. Another month? 

Sometime in October we'll have a lot of dead leaves to collect. We had 2 trees pruned nearly 2 years ago. They need doing again.


Thanks to Martin, G8JNJ, my attention has been brought to a small spectrum analyser that is well within amateur budgets. It also acts as a signal generator. Amazing. In Europe the TinySA may be obtained from  the Danish Amateur Shop.

See https://shop.edr.dk/vare/tinysa-spectrum-analyzer/

See https://www.tinysa.org/wiki/

6m FT8

Today, I decided to go on 6m FT8 (0830z). Already 1 station has spotted me - G0DYW (77km). So far, he is the only station spotted on 6m FT8 .

UPDATE 1257z:  6 stations have spotted my 10W to the V2000 vertical omni today so far. 4 stations spotted so far with the furthermost being F6HGB (985km).

UPDATE 1430z:  Now spotted by 7 stations with the best being DJ8RZ (881km) on TX and I have spotted 5 stations on RX.

UPDATE 1925z: 12 stations have spotted me with the furthermost being SM7CAD (1140km). Gone are the days of big Es openings for this year, but even with my small system there is still some occasional DX.

Covid-19 Joke - NOT amateur radio

 This was on Facebook earlier. 

Sunspots - Wednesday September 22nd 2020

Solar flux is 72 and the SSN 0. A=6 and K=2.

NanoVNA spectrum analyser?

For about $50 you can buy a NanoVNA. This is excellent value. I have never used one, but I believe it can be used as a spectrum analyser. If so, this brings spectrum analysers well into amateur budgets. I am half tempted. There are several YouTube videos on the NanoVNA, although I have not yet watched any.

If you have one, please tell us how you found it.

22 Sep 2020


In what is probably the best value around, you can buy every issue of SPRAT on DVD from 1-174 for just £5 plus postage for members of GQRP club. It is more if you are not a member. It is worth joining just for the DVD. 

Many times I have said that SPRAT is brilliant. The latest version, 184, has just come out.

See http://www.gqrp.com/

Walk collage - NOT amateur radio


The photo is a collage of our walk early this morning.

Hepburn tropo forecast

A useful resource (although I rarely use it!) is the Hepburn tropo forecast. I think this is done for all areas on the planet, although the link is for western Europe. This could be useful if you are a keen VHF/UHF DXer. Click the main map to get forecasts for future dates.

See http://www.dxinfocentre.com/tropo_eur.html

2m FT8 (10W to the big-wheel omni antenna)

Since arriving home from our walk and doing some gardening, I have been on 2m FT8. So far (at 1050z)  40 spots of me in 3 countries and 1 QSO.

UPDATE 1947z:  Now 78 spots of me in 9 countries today on 2m. 5 QSOs. I am convinced that these sort of 2m results are possible with 10W and a big-wheel at any time.  It seems far too common to be due to aircraft. A more probable hypothesis is that this is some other scatter mode that FT8 allows simple stations to access. Somewhere I read that FT8 is about 18dB better than SSB. That is like changing a dipole to a huge beam! Nearly every time I go on 2m FT8 I get spotted in N.Ireland. This is far too random for aircraft surely!

Marsh harrier - NOT amateur radio

We went for a walk around the village of Reach earlier. On the way we picked blackberries and saw a marsh harrier and a few house martins. 

Sunspots - Tuesday September 22nd 2020

Solar flux is 71 and the SSN 0. A=3 and K=2.

East Cambs Net

Last night we had a record number of people on our East Cambs net on 2m FM. There were so many I forgot the order! When I left the net I returned to 2m FT8.

21 Sep 2020

Chromebook update - NOT amateur radio

In all, I have owned a Chromebook for about 10 months. I wondered if this decision would be regretted, but the complete opposite is the case. The battery lasts all day (it was used several times yesterday and still has over 8 hours battery life left), it boots up in seconds and I have yet to find anything it cannot do. It is brilliant and far better than my Windows laptop. My wife needed a new laptop, so she too has a Chromebook.

Covid-19 in the UK - NOT amateur radio

There is no doubt that Covid-19 is on the rise, with more cases in western Europe than for several months. We are getting smarter at treating it, but it remains a real threat to the elderly especially. I just hope that the UK government can do enough to stop the exponential rise of this disease. They are trying to balance public health with economic damage. It is not easy.

2m FT8

Since 1219z I have QSYed to 2m FT8 (10W to the big-wheel omni). Within a few minutes I have been spotted by 41 stations in 4 countries.

UPDATE 1314z: Already 2 QSOs and spotted by 64 stations in 8 countries.

UPDATE 1837z: 106 stations in 8 countries have spotted me today on 2m FT8.

Stations spotting me
today on 2m FT8

UPDATE 2042z: 120 stations have spotted my 10W FT8 on 2m today with my 10W to the big-wheel omni. On 2m FT8 RX 109 stations spotted with the best DX a couple of Swedish stations including SF6F (1029km).

6m FT8 Monday

Continuing my "playing" with 6m FT8, I turned on the 6m gear (10W to the V2000 vertical) at about 0833z. Already spotted by 5 G stations plus OV3T (732km) in Denmark (Es?) and I have spotted G3PXT (80km).

UPDATE 0850z: Now my 10W is being spotted by 7 stations, mostly Gs.

UPDATE 1217z: Now 9 stations spotting me and G3PXT is calling "CQ SM" on 6m. Is he after 6m tropo QSOs? I may QSY to 2m FT8  later as apparently there is lots of tropo DX from Scandinavia on 2m FT8.

Pompey in better times - NOT amateur radio

A few years ago we went to Pompey. It rained! What struck me was just how similar life was really even all those years ago 

6m operation

In really good sunspot maximums the F2 MUF exceeds 50MHz at times and world wide DX is possible on 6m. Even with a low wire dipole I recall ZS (South African) stations chatting on SSB and Ws (USA) chatting as if they were locals. These days the F2 layer rarely gets that high. Luckily some impressive DX is possible via E layer, especially in the summer months.

I think it is fair to say I "play" at 6m using 10W and a V2000 omni antenna. Serious operators have big towers, big beams and maximum legal power. This extra "station gain" could be worth some 30-40dB. There is little doubt that this will make a difference.

Most Junes, Japan is worked from western Europe on 6m. With weak signal modes this is possible with more modest stations, although big stations are better equipped to work such long paths. Last year some even worked Australia from western Europe on 6m through a combination of propagation modes. It is not for nothing that some call it "the magic band".

Often people leave the band thinking it is just "white noise" outside of the summer months. Even at unusual times and months the band can open, which is why FT8 can be so useful: it works with weaker signals than SSB or CW, activity is concentrated in a few kilohertz, and there are lots of monitors. WSPR would be even better, but the longer TX slots could mean some fleeting openings are missed even though WSPR can detect even weaker signals.

Encouraging news (I think)

Southgate News has a piece on the report of the Examinations Standards Committee about recent amateur exams. It shows increases in those taking the exams in the UK, although most are men.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/september/uk-amateur-radio-exam-report-released.htm#.X2czhmjYq00

Sunspots - Monday September 21st 2020

 Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 0. A=4 and K=1.

20 Sep 2020

200 years old - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows the windmill next door which is 200 years old this year. The museum had a special day today in the warm sunshine. 

Thistle - NOT amateur radio


This was seen at Blicking Hall during our recent visit to north Norfolk. Even wild things can be very beautiful.