3 May 2016

Dad - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday would have been my dad's birthday. He would have been 98 although sadly he died in his late 60s in 1987 from a heart attack. I can't imagine him being 98. He died young but he was otherwise healthy to his end.

I regret not speaking to him about his Pathfinder years in the RAF. There were brave young men on both sides in WW2. Dad did not like to speak about those days. Looking back he was very very brave.

The war years impacted him greatly and he was happy not to be reminded of them. The funny thing is if he walked in the door now it would seem so natural. There is so much I'd want to talk with him about.

If your parents are still alive ask them the questions before it is too late.

Sepura shares - NOT amateur radio

Although a long way below their peak, Sepura (SEPU) shares are rising again today despite a large fall in the FTSE 100 share index. At the moment they are trending upwards. You may recall that this was the company I worked for before I retired 8 years ago. How time flies!

See http://www.lse.co.uk/ShareChart.asp?chart=intraday&sharechart=SEPU&share=sepura

UPDATE 1500z:  At the moment these are 80.5p. They have been climbing for several days in a row now.

More from OFCOM

See http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/?utm_source=updates&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1st-tues-0516 for more from OFCOM.

"Ofcom is committed to a thriving telecoms sector where companies can compete fairly and businesses and customers benefit from the choice of a broad range of services."


2m UKAC tonight

A reminder that the 2m leg of the RSGB's activity contest is tonight 1900-2130z. The 2m leg is the first Tuesday of the month. With warmer weather, we can expect more portable stations active on hilltops.

As usual, I shall be on with 5W SSB QRP and my big-wheel horizontal omni antenna. 200km seems about my maximum range, although I rarely stay on for more than 60 minutes as my voice is so poor.

Not having to turn the antenna is helpful. If the station is a decent strength then it is worth calling. I usually go looking for others which I find is the best tactic with QRP. This is usually productive although I keep missing others using the same technique such as G2XV who is quite local!

UPDATE 2100z: In the end I worked 9 stations with best DX 172km. See map below of QSOs. Heard but not worked were stations in Wales, Cornwall and France. I had to give up after 60 minutes because of my poor voice.

Matching the earth-electrode "antenna" at 472kHz

I get asked how I match my earth-electrode "antenna" at 472kHz. Well, it depends on your ground resistance. At my old QTH I just connected the transverter directly to the earth electrodes as my ground looked like somewhere between 40-60 ohms resistive. I used an audio oscillator and looked for half voltage by adjusting the series resistance. At the "new" QTH the earth resistance is much higher so I added a 3C90 step-up 42mm diameter transformer and adjust the tap on the secondary for maximum antenna current. I am sure the purists will have a good laugh, but it works. Here is a photo showing the arrangement. I am sure the purists will ask how did you determine the windings? In good amateur fashion I experimented and found what worked. Incidentally, I tried the earth-electrode "antenna" on 160m and on the first night was spotted in Sweden! I think it works as a loop in the ground and would be bigger at lower frequencies. At 137kHz it should form quite a large loop in the ground, although I have not tried this band at all at this QTH. I got the 3C90 toroid from Farnell a few years ago. I assume these are still available.
3C90 matching transformer and antenna current meter for 472kHz

Sunspots and 10m - May 3rd 2016

Solar flux is 91 today. Sunspot number is a decent 75. K=4. The forecast for 10m (F2) propagation remains "poor", although we hope Es livens up 10m and maybe 6m.

UPDATE  1600z:  No spots as yet on 10m or 6m WSPR. So far, a very disappointing day here on 6m and 10m WSPR. I shall remain on until dark, ever hopeful!

Returned to 10m and 6m WSPR

Since about 0815z I have been active on 10m WSPR (500mW, 100% TX, randomised freq) and 6m WSPR (1W ERP vertical  20%, RX 80%). I went QRT on MF but may return after dark.

Overnight on MF

No great DX last night on 472kHz WSPR. EA5DOM (1525km) was the best DX on RX again (he is always a good signal when active) and the best TX DX (5mW ERP) was to Holland. There are definitely fewer stations on the band now than at the peak of the season.

2 May 2016

10m amd MF WSPRing

It was gone teatime when I noticed no spots at all on 10m. Then I saw the PC had closed the WSPR program to install updates so I had not actually been on 10m WSPR for some time! This may have been several hours! Doh!

Anyway, at 1900z I restarted the PC and did a time resync and started up on 472kHz (630m) WSPR. No great DX so far but I am being copied in the Sheffield area (IO93) and am copying a Dutch station. Nothing special but I am definitely on 472kHz WSPR! I shall remain on this band overnight and switch to 10m WSPR after breakfast.

Fewer swallows definitely - NOT amateur radio

On our recent trip to Lichfield I only saw 1 swallow, confirming what I thought that there are fewer swallows around this year.

They are around now, but I have seen far fewer than in previous years.

I hope this is just a blip, although there have been far fewer house martins than years ago. Is this global warming or an El Nino effect?