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
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.
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 (http://220.127.116.11:8080/cap/) 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.
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.
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.
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!
26 Nov 2020
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.
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.
25 Nov 2020
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.
Transnistria is a breakaway state between Moldova and Ukraine. Until today, I had never heard of it!
24 Nov 2020
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.
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.
There were lots of long tail tits flitting about too. These were too fast for me.
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.
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.
23 Nov 2020
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
22 Nov 2020
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.
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.