28 Nov 2020

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.

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!

10m FT8 QRP (Friday)

It is now 0916z. Since 0900z, I have been on 10m FT8 with 2.5W and the indoor loop. No spots yet.

UPDATE 1107z:   20 stations spotted so far today on 10m FT8 RX with the furthermost being OD5YA (3466km). Nobody has yet spotted me. 10m is coming back to life!

UPDATE 1211z: 24 stations spotted on RX and 2 spots of me on TX from Eastern Europe.  No QSOs.

UPDATE 1332z:  So far, 3 stations have spotted me with the furthermost being EA8BFK (2881km).  25 stations spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1522z: 
26 stations spotted so far on 10m FT8 RX today. Best DX so far spotted is K3QH (7050km).

UPDATE 1600z: Mostly quiet now so may QSY. 

Sunspots - Friday November 27th 2020

Solar flux is 106 and the SSN 43. A=7 and K=3.

26 Nov 2020

2m FT8 QRP (Thursday)

As 10m is now quiet, I have QSYed to 2m FT8.  Nothing yet spotted on RX, but 3 stations have spotted me so far. No QSOs. As usual, 2.5W to the big-wheel omni antenna.

UPDATE 1840z:  So far this evening 5 stations spotted on RX with best DX G1BHM (355km) in IO70. On TX 6 stations have spotted me with the best DX G7RAU (461km).

UPDATE 1933z: Now 7 stations have spotted me and I have spotted 8 stations on RX. So far this evening all have been G, which is unusual.

UPDATE 2238z: QRT. 2 QSOs this evening. 

Another cancelled rally

The Rochdale and District ARS summer rally, due to take place on Saturday, has been cancelled. Let us hope they have better luck in 2021.  2020 has been an odd year for all of us.

10m FT8 QRP (Thursday)

It is now 1117z and I have been on 10m FT8 with the tiny indoor loop antenna and 2.5W for about 30 minutes. So far, just EA8CZL (2987km) spotted on RX and no spots of me on TX.  I wonder how far down my tiny indoor loop is on a full sized dipole?

UPDATE 1254z:  Nothing further.

UPDATE 1545z:  The USA and Caribbean spotted on 10m FT8 Rx this afternoon, but no spots of me! OK, just a handful spotted, but better than nothing. Who knows what a year will bring. Next autumn we could be spotting far more on 10m FT8.

Village walk - NOT amateur radio

We have just got back from a walk around the village. It is cold and frosty. The photo shows the church and trees in the churchyard. 

The birds are having a socially distanced chat in the trees on the left. 😁

Sunspots - Thursday November 26th 2020

Solar flux is 104 and the SSN 40. A=4 and K=1.

25 Nov 2020

2m FT8 QRP (Wednesday)

At about 2030z I QSYed to 2m FT8 with 2.5W to the big-wheel omni antenna.  7 stations have spotted me on TX and I have spotted 5 stations on RX at 2106z.

UPDATE 2303z: QRT. 

Laugh? - NOT amateur radio

This came from a friend earlier. It made me laugh! We certainly are living in odd times. 

Big sunspot maximum?

People have remarked that the upward slope from sunspot minimum looks faster than we were expecting. It is still far too early to tell, but this is a promising. Many thought this would be a slow climb. It will be interesting to see new forecasts for the next maximum.

Amaryllis - NOT amateur radio

At the moment, we have 2 of these plants in flower. The more correct name is hippeastrum, but as I have always called them amaryliss I am unlikely to change now! 

Transnistria - NOT amateur radio

Transnistria is a breakaway state between Moldova and Ukraine. Until today, I had never heard of it!

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transnistria_(region) 

10m FT8 QRP

At 1115z I QSYed to 10m FT8. So far, (at 1148z) no spots. With the high solar flux, I am hopeful of some 10m FT8 activity.

UPDATE 1523z: Still no 10m spots.

UPDATE 1650z:  3 spots all day: 2 Gs plus IS0DDL (1427km) on 10m FT8 RX. Nobody spotted me.

15m FT8 QRP (Wednesday)

At 0910z, I turned on my 15m FT8 QRP gear with 2.5W to the indoor loop on the shack windowsill. It is now 1006z.  So far today, 25 stations spotted on RX with the best being PU2KRL (9578km) . 

Sunspots - Wednesday November 25th 2020

Solar flux is 100 and the SSN 37. A=4 and K=3.

24 Nov 2020

QSY to 2m FT8 QRP (Tuesday)

As 15m was quiet, I have QSYed to 2m FT8 QRP (2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna) for the evening. That was at 1738z. It is now 1820z. So far, 7 stations in 3 countries have spotted me already and I have spotted 3 countries on RX. No QSOs.

UPDATE 2220z: 33 stations in 6 countries spotted and on TX 18 stations in 3 countries. Now QRT. The map shows the stations spotting my 2.5W FT8 on 2m this evening. To say  FT8 has totally transformed 2m for me is an understatement!  Every day I get spotted in Eire or N.Ireland with my FT817ND and the big-wheel omni antenna. Quite mind blowing. These ranges are staggering. If I worked these with this power on SSB I would be amazed.

2m FT8

The drawback of FT8 is the very "rubber stamp" nature of the QSOs, with just the bare essentials exchanged. As specialist software is needed (free), newcomers cannot just chance upon it. 

The advantages are it only takes 50Hz of bandwidth and is far more sensitive than SSB or CW. A second advantage is most activity is concentrated in a few kHz, making DX easier to spot. In my case, not having to use my poor voice is another benefit. 

Even with 2.5W and an omni antenna, I get reports from over 500km away every day. I suspect this is some sort of scatter. 2m FT8 has been transformative, although I can see why some do not like it.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/2m-ft8

Bluetit on fatballs - NOT amateur radio


It was very hard to take a good photo of this bird as it kept moving! It is a bluetit eating our fatballs. Often jackdaws try to eat them too - they are as big as the feeder!

There were lots of long tail tits flitting about too. These were too fast for me.

UK aid budget cut - NOT amateur radio

Apparently, the UK aid budget is to be cut by law to help the chancellor balance the books and to help pay the enormous budget deficit as a result of Covid-19. 

If this is made permanent, some will see this as a backwards step. I hope that we still continue to provide meaningful aid (not arms) to countries that need it.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-55053719 .

15m FT8 QRP (Tuesday)

About 10 minutes ago, I turned on 15m FT8 QRP (2.5W and the indoor loop). It is now 1007z. Just 6 stations copied on RX so far with one in East Africa.

UPDATE 1235z:  4 spots of me so far from Eastern Europe, but 95 stations spotted on RX including Africa and South America.

UPDATE 1548z: 121 stations spotted so far today on 15m FT8 RX including North and South America.

Wifes' birthday

Today is my wifes' birthday. In these odd days we are having a quiet day. Here she is looking at one of her presents. 

Sunspots - Tuesday November 24th 2020

Solar flux is 96 and the SSN 38. A=8 and K=0.

23 Nov 2020

2m FT8 QRP

As there have been no spots here on 15m FT8 for several hours, I have QSYed to 2m FT8 using 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna. Although nothing spotted on RX so far, 5 stations have spotted my QRP.

UPDATE 1855z:  So far, 6 stations have spotted me with the furthermost being EI2FG (565km).

UPDATE 2216z:  QRT.

Black Friday "deals"? - NOT amateur radio

Recently (about 6 weeks ago) I bought an Echo Dot from Amazon. It even recognises my poor voice, which surprised and impressed me. In the latest Black Friday deal, Amazon are offering the latest version for about 30% more than I paid. 

Sometimes, these bargains are not what they seem!

Although there may be some good bargains, do check.

FT8/FT4 presentation

Southgate News has a link to a USA YouTube presentation on these modes. There are lots of presentations about these digital modes on YouTube. FT8 works with low power and simple antennas, but is not a mode for chatting. 

I have to admit, I have not yet tried FT4.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/november/ft8-and-ft4-lecture-video.htm#.X7ufE2iTLrc

70cm activity contest results

Most definitely I am not a contest person!  However, I usually take part in the RSGB organised activity contests each month on 2m and 70cm on Tuesday evenings. Usually most activity in these friendly contests is on SSB and after a short while I give up because of my poor voice. 

Results for the November 70cm UKAC activity contest have just been published and I remain about a third of the way down the low power section. Seeing I only use 10W and the 2m (not 70cm!) big-wheel omni and rarely stay on for more than an hour of the contest, this is fine.

15m FT8 QRP

A little while ago I turned on the gear to go on 15m FT8 QRP. As usual, 2.5W and the indoor loop on the shack windowsill. Better results expected on 15m compared with 10m. 

On 15m FT8 TX I have been spotted by 1 station in Greece and 18 stations spotted on RX. No great DX yet.

UPDATE 1204z:  2 spot of me on TX with 53 stations spootted so far on 15m FT8 RX.

Stations spotted on 15m
FT8 RX today to 1650z

UPDATE 1820z:  6 stations have spotted me today on TX and 170 stations spotted on RX in 5 continents.

Housework day - NOT amateur radio

We have a routine of doing housework on Monday's. This is a photo of our garden room with the sun streaming in. This is our second reception room and very relaxing.

I shall start housework shortly! 

Sunny, frosty day - NOT amateur radio

We have a nice, crisp and sunny day at the moment. Let's hope it is sunny all day.

Sunspots - Monday November 23rd 2020

Solar flux is 88 and the SSN 35. A=27 and K=2. 

22 Nov 2020

Trump: just what is he on? - NOT amateur radio

OK, as a non-US person I admit that I am not a great fan of President Trump. 

He still seems totally against conceding he lost the presidential election and has tried, in vain, to contest the results in courts alleging "election fraud" despite no evidence. To the rest of the world he comes across as a spoilt child. He has been noticable by his absence of late.

It would be much better for world democracy if he just conceded and went back to running his business empire and playing golf. Hanging on to power does no good for democracy and reminds me of a certain leader in 1936 at the Olympics.

The people of the USA have spoken. Just listen.

Seen on our walk - NOT amateur radio


Some kind person put this colourful hanging basket on a footbridge where we walk. 

We often see Muntjac deer on this walk. This introduced deer is now becoming very common. At night they bark (a dull monotonous bark) that can go on for ages! They eat garden plants A few years ago there was a Muntjac with young in the garden next door.

These days a walk around the village of 3.5 miles feels more like 7. All the time I am giddy and tired.

2m FT8 QRP - Sunday

Overnight, I left 2m FT8 running on RX only. Just after breakfast I resynced the time and turned on TX (2.5W to the big-wheel omni antenna).

In the last 6 hours,  5 Gs have spotted me and I have spotted 19 stations with the furthermost being DL6YBF (471km).  No QSOs yet.

UPDATE 1324z:  41 stations in 7 countries so far spotted on 2m FT8 RX today. 1 QSO. 17 stations in 4 countries spotted me on TX.

UPDATE 2230z: QRT.