1 Dec 2020

2m activity contest - December

Every month, the RSGB organises an activity contest on 2m (UKAC). Most activity is SSB. As usual, I ran 10W for under an hour to the big-wheel omni antenna. The map shows the contacts tonight.

Solar forecast update

There is an update showing the latest solar updates.

See https://www.solen.info/solar/

OFCOM updates

As usual, OFCOM has updated its statistics in its Communications Monthly. See the OFCOM website. 

QSY to 2m FT8 QRP (Tuesday)

At 1850z, I QSYed to 2m FT8 QRP with 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna. So far, 3 stations have spotted me with the furthermost G4HGI (244km).

UPDATE 1941z:  7 stations have spotted me so far on TX. Nothing spotted on RX yet.

UPDATE 2155z:   9 stations have spotted me on 2m FT8 QRP TX in 4 countries with the furthermost being GI6ATZ (479km).

SAQ Christmas VLF CW transmission cancelled

There was a posting on the SAQ website saying that their Christmas Eve transmission on 17.2kHz CW has been cancelled. See their website. Hopefully better next year. This is often a good time to test your VLF system.

See https://alexander.n.se/the-radio-station-saq-grimeton/saq-transmissions/?lang=en

A very simple PC based receiver for SAQ and VLF is available from SM6LKM. This is simple to install and works very well. I installed it years ago. There may be even better ones around now. You now have more time!

See https://sites.google.com/site/sm6lkm/saqrx/

Looks like there are even better RXs! I have not yet tried this one.

See http://www.dl1dbc.net/SAQ/

10m antenna: Homebase-10

With 10m returning to life, this antenna may "fit the bill" for some people. It featured in Practical Wireless magazine some years ago and there is a page with files about it on my main website. 

For most, the explanations are clear, but if not please let me know so I can make them clearer. It was used for many years at my old QTH.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/homebase .

10m FT8 QRP (Tuesday)

In a few moments (it is now 0914z) I hope to go on 10m FT8 QRP with my 2.5W to the indoor loop. For this time in the sunspot cycle conditions are quite promising.

UPDATE 0924z:  10m FT8 gear turned on.

UPDATE 1027z:  Just one spot of a Polish station SP8BZX (1078km) so far on 10m FT8 RX today.

UPDATE 1258z:  As our Internet has been off some of my spots will not have got to PSKreporter. 

UPDATE 1438z: Just 4 stations spotted today with the furthermost NR1DX (7107km) in Florida.

Covid-19 humour - NOT amateur radio

This appeared on WhatsApp earlier. I have no idea where it came from. 

Sunspots - Tuesday December 1st 2020

Solar flux is 109 and the SSN 62. A=8 and K=0.

30 Nov 2020

QSY to 2m FT8 QRP (Monday)

At about 1716z, I QSYed to 2m FT8 using 2.5W and the big-wheel omni. There have been no new spots on 10m FT8 now for some while. Just a 2 spots of me so far - G3ZSS (178km) and nothing spotted yet on RX.

UPDATE 1824z:  Just 3 spots of me so far today. On RX, just 3 stations spotted here so far.

UPDATE 2300z:  QRT. Generally a fairly quiet day with spots of me by 8 stations in 2 countries.

Christmas card alternative? - NOT amateur radio

This Christmas, especially with Covid, many people are choosing not to send Christmas cards. Some are instead donating to a charity. Some look forward to a card, I know, but cards are expensive as is the postage. Maybe you can send some people this alternative? It is an animated GIF.

Direct Conversion RXs

There is no doubt that direct conversion receivers can be both low cost and effective. This page (linked from Hot Iron 110) has some interesting discussion. In the past, I have used direct conversion receivers in many designs.

See https://www.raynetrepair.us/circuit-design/some-practical-design-approaches.htm  .

Hot Iron 110

Peter Thornton G6NGR has just sent me the latest PDF copy of "Hot Iron".  One topic (amongst many good ones) is receivers on a chip. Things have moved on quite a lot since we got excited by the ZN414 in the 1970s! The one linked below is an example. There must be many more.

See https://www.silabs.com/audio-and-radio/multiband-radios .

10m FT8 QRP (Monday)

It is now 1129z. I have been on 10m FT8 with 2.5W and the small indoor loop for about 15 minutes. So far, nobody has spotted me and I have spotted a couple of Russians on RX. Surprisingly I am spotting less than yesterday.

UPDATE 1510z:  So far today, no-one has spotted my QRP, but I have spotted 5 stations including 1 in the USA and 1 in the Caribbean. 

Overnight on 2m FT8 RX

Overnight the 2m FT8 RX was left on. The map shows the stations spotted. 

As usual, the antenna is the big-wheel omni antenna. No beams! 

Sunspots - Monday November 30th 2020

Solar flux is an incredible 116 and the SSN 84. A=6 and K=3.

29 Nov 2020

QSY to 2m FT8 QRP (Sunday)

As 10m is quiet, I QSYed to 2m FT8 at 1834z. As usual, I am running 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna. Although I have copied some stations, for some reason these did not appear on PSKreporter. On TX, 3 stations have spotted me.

UPDATE 1935z:  So far this evening 19 stations in 5 countries have been spotted with the furthermost being F6DBI (501km) in Brittany. On TX, I have been spotted by 8 stations in 2 countries with the furthermost being F6EGD (461km) also in Brittany.

Spitting Image - NOT amateur radio

Quite a few years ago this show was on UK terrestrial TV. It has just come back (on Britbox I think). It takes off people in the news as puppets.

House plants - NOT amateur radio

My wife always has house plants to brighten up the place. This November is no exception. 

These plants (see photo) brighten up the dullest of days!

Parks on the air (POTA)

Not sure if this is popular in Europe, but I know some in the USA enjoy this. I know Summits on the Air (SOTA) has its followers. There are some YouTube videos on POTA activations.

Labels: are they used? - NOT amateur radio

Most times, when I remember, I add labels to posts so people can search previous posts for the same subject. I have no idea if these are used. 

Please would you tell me if these are helpful. If I do not hear, I shall stop, although I am happy to carry on adding these.

10m FT8 QRP (Sunday)

At about 1030z, I turned on 10m FT8 with the indoor loop and 2.5W. The band feels lively. 1 station spotted on RX: RD4D (3180km).

UPDATE 1212z: 25 stations spotted on RX. Nobody has spotted my 2.5W yet today.

UPDATE 1355z: 28 stations spotted with best DX spotted WP3PZ (6898km) in Puerto Rico. Still no-one has spotted me and no 10m FT8 QSOs.

UPDATE 1515z:  Much to my surprise, no more stations spotted on 10m FT8 this afternoon. I was expecting to spot a few North and South Americans, but spotted none. I shall give it a few more hours then QSY to 2m.

Yet more IC-705 videos

It is hard to keep up with all the videos on YouTube on the IC-705. This one may be of interest. The best thing to do is go to YouTube and search "IC-705".  

Many are Japanese where this product was first launched. At the moment MLS is offering a 5 year warranty at extra cost. I suspect they will soon be offering this in the selling price. A 5 year warranty is probably a good idea.

Sunspots - Sunday November 29th 2020

Solar flux is 110 and the SSN 67. A=10 and K=3.  For so close to the sunspot minimum, these are very high figures.

28 Nov 2020

Trump and recounts - NOT amateur radio

Assuming this is true and not "fake news",  apparently President Trump has paid $3M to have the recheck done in Wisconsin. The result? More Trump votes, but even more for Biden. 😆

2m FT8 QRP (Saturday)

At 1640z, I QSYed from 10m to 2m FT8 using 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antennna. 

Already 5 spots of me on TX including G7RAU (461km). If he is active I get spotted every time, irrespective of the time of day. Also, 1 station spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1947z:  15 stations spotted this evening on 2m FT8 with the furthermost being DD7DAC (520km). On TX 12 stations have spotted me.

UPDATE 2025z: On TX 13 stations have spotted me. On RX 18 stations spotted in 4 countries.

eHam reviews of the IC-705

The last time I looked there were just 2 reviews, whereas today there are 6 reviews. All are 5 stars, meaning the owners love them. Apart from the price, which is far too high, it has a very good feature set and coverage.

I wonder if anyone has widebanded it for 472kHz yet? There are several mods for the IC-706.

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

Solar cycle 25 - latest predictions

It is some time since I saw predictions for the next solar cycle, but we have got off to a roaring start. I am no expert, but signs are promising. Who would have expected solar flux and sunspots to be this good?

The climb up from solar minimum has been dramatic and fast with sunspot numbers and solar flux levels much greater than we all expected. 

We should deal in averages and this could just be a blip, but I hope the next solar cycle is a decent one. No doubt the latest NOAA and NASA forecasts are worth a look.

Virtual radio clubs?

Many of us have been pleasantly surprised just how successful radio club meetings and talks have been over Zoom. 

It would not surprise me if several radio clubs adopt this as a permanent model to replace club meetings, especially if rooms have to be hired. 

Many like the social interaction of a physical meeting especially if they live alone. However, it means people from across the world can join a club for talks or informal meetings.

It would be interesting to hear your views.

IC-705 desk stand

One of the complaints about the IC-705 (other than the price and lack of internal auto-ATU!) is the lack of a desk stand. I expect these will soon be available as add-ons from other suppliers. One solution is to make your own with a 3D printer as shown in the video.

F2 on 10m?

Even with my tiny loop indoors, I am spotting plenty of stations in Eastern Europe and the Canaries on 10m FT8. This looks like F2 propagation. In the last few days there has been propagation to the southern USA as well on 10m.

If things continue like this, 10m could again be a really good DX band certainly by next autumn.

Online Foundation licence training

If you want to get into this hobby, you may be interested in this online training course.

See https://www.essexham.co.uk/train/foundation-online/

10m FT8 QRP (Saturday)

At the moment, I am on 10m FT8 with 2.5W and the tiny indoor loop on the shack windowsill indoors. So far (1040z) no-one has spotted me on TX, but I have spotted 3 stations already on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1135z:  So far today, 15 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1246z: 16 stations spotted on RX with the furthermost being UA4NF (3257km)  and 2 stations in the Canaries have spotted my QRP on TX.

UPDATE 1445z:  17 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX and still just the 2 spots of me on TX.

Sunspots - Saturday November 28th 2020

Solar flux is 106 and the SSN an amazing 60. A=8 and K=3. For this part of the solar cycle, these are incredible numbers. 

27 Nov 2020

Another Zoom talk

The Cambridge club (CDARC) held another Zoom talk this evening. This was on LTSpice that is available as a free download. Yet again attendance was good. I like these! 

Oscar 100 activity

Maybe it is the time of day (Friday evening in Europe), but this evening there was more SSB activity than I have ever seen. I think there were 13 stations on the screen in the narrow-band transponder. As usual, I check the web SDR at Goonhilly in Cornwall.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

2m FT8 QRP (Friday)

As 10m FT8 was quiet late afternoon, I have QSYed to 2m with my 2.5W and big-wheel omni antenna. Already spotted by G7RAU (461km) in Cornwall with 6 stations spotting me so far. Nothing yet seen on RX and no QSOs. It is now 1649z.

UPDATE 1706z: 4 stations in 2 countries spotted on RX and 9 stations in 3 countries have spotted me on TX.  No QSOs.  Monitoring my signal on G0LRD's grabber ( at 26km, I may be seeing some QSB.

UPDATE 1843z:  11 stations have spotted me on TX and I have spotted 11 stations on RX.

UPDATE 1946z:  13 stations have spotted me on TX and I have spotted 16 stations on RX.

UPDATE 2230z:   QRT.

Black Friday "deals" - NOT amateur radio

Today, I read that some very big UK retailers have decided not to offer Black Friday deals. I cannot say I blame them. 

As I have mentioned before, some may really be bargains, whereas others are not. It is basically about commercialism and extending Christmas sales. To me, it sucks.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-55093002

English placenames beginning with "J" - NOT amateur radio

Whilst trying to get to sleep earlier in the week I tried to think of placenames starting with "A", then "B" etc. It was interesting how hard "J" was. I guess this is because some names are very old and pre-date "J" being in the alphabet. In old Latin both J and W were missing.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_alphabet#Old_Latin_alphabet

Church (in distance) over ploughed field - NOT amateur radio

This photo was taken yesterday on our walk. It shows Burwell church in the distance over a ploughed field.  It was muddy!