30 Nov 2014


Today, during the day, a couple of GDX stations have been copied around 170km range, but these are no longer being seen. To me, this suggests I am copying these stations on back-scatter as once good F-layer goes, so does the GDX. Of course, it could be that these stations are no longer on 10m as the DX seems to have now gone.

UPDATE 2212z:    Only real locals spotting me or spotted by me. No GDX seen this evening, supporting to F-layer back-scatter as the most probable means of the GDX spots earlier in the day. I'll leave 10m WSPR running overnight to see if any GDX is copied. This, of course, requires others to be active too and currently there are very few active UK stations.

UPDATE 2252z:  Just re-synced the PC clock to internet time, so the WSPR should be spot on overnight. However, I am not really expecting to see other than locals until breakfast time, but any DX or GDX in the night would be very good. TX is on about 20% and RX (looking for others) about 80%.  Running 500mW, on the FT817 currently, so I can both TX and RX.

Last stateside 10m WSPR spot of my 500mW

WA4WW (6969km) was the last stateside station to spot me today at 1622z, quite early, at -22dB S/N. The last USA station spotted on 10m WSPR here was WB1FIG around 20 minutes later. He was also -22dB S/N. As I mentioned before, more power really does not seem to matter much. What is more important is that the path is open e.g to the USA. What I'm saying is running 5W, 50W or even 100W would make little difference if the path is closed and the MUF was not high enough. Maybe a few minutes?

First 10m stateside reception of my 500mW WSPR

My first report on 10m WSPR today was at 1150z by KE6BID (5295km) who spotted me at -21dB S/N. This station is located west of Boston, -23dB S/N.  New England, USA.   This is early, boding well for the day on 10m.

Apart from the USA, most stations spotting me are in Russia and nearer Asia. G8KNN (local) is also spotting me.

UPDATE 1241z:   Several other stations (the usual suspects!) spotting my 10m 500mW WSPR now in the eastern USA.

UPDATE 1245z:   M0ITF (170km) is being spotted here on 10m WSPR. Good to see some GDX. I did not check the waterfall in time to see if this was pure tropo or maybe aircraft reflections or F-layer backscatter. Nonetheless -19dB S/N was a decent report for 5W on 10m at this distance. In years go by I'd regularly work this sort of range on 10W with 10m SSB, so pure tropo is quite possible.

UPDATE 1450z:   Spotted CX2ABP (11127km) at 1442z on 10m WSPR at -23dB S/N. He was running 5W, so I am probably still too weak to copy at his end in South America.

UPDATE 1630z:   CX2ABP (Montevideo, Uruguay) has now been spotted here 9 times today already at up to -19dB S/N.  He has not copied my 500mW yet.

Sunspot number and 10m conditions - Sunday Nov 30th

Sunspot number today is 156 and 10m daytime conditions are expected to be "good" again.  As yet, my 10m 500mW WSPR has not been spotted at very great distance although the 10m band opened to the USA earlier than yesterday.


I have many times said that if all radio magazines had to go, then GQRP Club's SPRAT would be the very last to go. This quarterly magazine is low in cost, very high in simple projects to build and the back page always has GQRP Club sales items.

Of ALL the magazines I see, SPRAT is without doubt the best. Back numbers of this excellent magazine are available on a DVD.

This is a little (sized) magazine but it is excellent value. The best in fact.

29 Nov 2014

Last stateside 10m WSPR spots today

W3CSW (5886km) was the last USA station to spot my 10m 500mW WSPR this evening at 1802z. The last 10m WSPR USA station I copied was also W3CSW at 1808z. He was using 10dB more than I was! It seems that 500mW is quite enough usually if the band is open.

G0LRD (25km) - his 50mW is being consistently copied here.
G4IKZ (18km) - is copying me consistently all evening.

10m WSPR - stateside today

W3CSW (5886km) was the first stateside 10m WSPR station spotted here today at 1230z. My 500mW was first spotted in the USA also by W3CSW at 1246z. Yet again, the USA and Canada are coming through pretty well on 10m WSPR.

Special prefix for Cornwall?

I need some clarification. OFCOM are suggesting the use of GK and similar prefixes for Cornwall a county in south west England. The K stands for Kernow the ancient name for Cornwall. Is this actually happening?


Sunspot number is 166 and 10m propagation is again forecast to be "good".

UPDATE 1632z:   Although, yet again. the 10m band was open to the USA and Canada, my 500mW has not (yet) been copied in South America or further afield today.

10m overnight

Overnight on 10m WSPR just local spots with DX spots only starting after 0730z with spots of Russian stations over 5100km from NO square. More recently, LZ1OI is now spotting my 500mW.

28 Nov 2014

Last stateside reports on 10m WSPR

My 500mW 10m signal was last spotted by KJ4SPG (6328km) KB9AMG (6300km) and KD6RF (7547km) at 1744z. I was spotting USA stations over one hour after this. G0LRD (25km) running just 50mW has been a weak, but consistent, signal since the band closed for DX. G4IKZ (18km) has been spotting me consistently in recent minutes.

Stroke update

In the last few weeks, I seem to have made little progress. I still find many liquids hard to drink, I still get giddy when walking and most physical activities exhaust me, although on many days my level of stamina may be a little better. I do so want to be back to my old self again.

Soldering and experiments out in the field are still off the agenda for now as I am too clumsy.

Nevada bargain on 10m Multi-mode radios

See http://www.nevadaradio.co.uk/amateur-radio/transceivers/mobile-transceivers/alinco-dr-135dx-uk .

Nevada is selling Alinco multi-mode 28-29.7MHz radios on special deal at £99.95. For "export only" they can be expanded to also cover CB frequencies. Such expansion is not legal in the UK. At less than £100, this is a very good price for a 10m multi-mode rig.

I admit I "lifted" the original image from the Nevada website. As it was Javascript, I was unable to link, as I had wished, to the original images. If using this image on this blog is a problem, it will be immediately removed, although I hope Nevada see this as free publicity.

CX2ABP on 10m WSPR

Although I have copied CX2ABP (11127km)very many times here today, he has not managed (well yet) to copy my 500mW. In the log are lots of reports from across the USA but no-one further has spotted me today. Time is running out, although I suppose someone in South America might copy me yet? North America is likely to close quite soon now on 10m.

500mW on 10m WSPR

Today I am again on 10m WSPR running 500mW on TX. Currently I am using the FT817 at 20% TX, 80% RX so that I am looking for others far more than TXing. I am assuming the propagation is F layer although some of the spots e.g. Italy, seem too close, so these could be F-layer backscatter or even Es? I am still hoping to be spotted well outside of Europe.

Sunspots - Friday Nov 28th 2014

Sunspot number has dropped back a little to 155, but 10m conditions remain "good". Already this morning, my 500mW WSPR has been copied widely across Europe.

27 Nov 2014

500mW on 10m. Going QRT shortly.

For a lot of today I have been on 10m WSPR with the FT817 on TX at 20% TX time and on RX for the remainder of time. With the WSPR-AXE beacon, I am on TX for 100% of the time, but the frequency randomly moves around over 100Hz of the 200Hz wide WSPR allocation to minimise the chance of being clobbered by other higher powered stations.

I shall be going QRT very shortly on 10m, but will be on 10m WSPR again in the morning. For several hours now I have only been copied by local G4IKZ and have copied no stations at all.

UPDATE 2305z:  Now gone QRT.  There was a weak station that did not decode copyable just before I closed. There was no Doppler, suggesting this might have been a non-G station, but I shall never know.

Solar data and 60m

As we move off the peak of sunspot cycle 24, it is useful to look at how things are progressing. It will be a few years still before conditions really hit rock bottom, but the progression to a solar minimum is usually faster than the climb from the minimum up to the next maximum.

I have not checked the very recent opinions of experts, but they were predicting that solar cycle 25 would be a dismal affair. This is one reason why a world-wide contiguous 60m band would be so useful. It would be a mix of 80m and 40m propagation - VERY useful in the quieter years to come.This will be discussed at WRC2015 late next year but we have no idea what the outcome will be. Even if allocated to the Amateur Service, it could be several years before it is made available to us. So, even if allocated, it could be 2018 or 2019 before we could use this new contiguous allocation. Of course, we may never get it at all!

In the meantime see http://www.solen.info/solar/ for solar data.

Last USA stations on 10m WSPR

The last spot of my 500mW WSPR signal was by N1FF (5327km) at 1754z. I was spotting KZ8C (6290km) at 1902z. No stateside since then.  Presumably the band has closed in that direction now.  Since then, just local G4IKZ (18km) spotting me.

Costa Rica on 10m WSPR (500mW)

500mW was enough to exchange WSPR spots with TI3/AB4AW (8752km) in Costa Rica earlier this afternoon on 10m WSPR.  Much further has been achieved, but this is very satisfying as spots were exchanged both ways.

Rapidly rising sunspots

Today's sunspot number is 170, way up on even yesterday.  10m propagation is "good". Long distance F2 propagation is certainly confirming very good 10m conditions.

Enjoy these excellent times on 10m as things will be getting much tougher in the quieter years ahead.

500mW 10m - 16 spots off just a single transmit burst

My 1406z 10m WSPR transmission with 500mW resulted in 16 reports!  These came from the USA, all over Europe and the Canary Is off W.Africa. 500mW seems plenty. Earlier today, VK5MR (16144km) was again copying my 500mW on 10m WSPR.

26 Nov 2014

Hendricks QRP Kits BitX20A

See http://www.qrpkits.com/bitx20a.html .

If I was looking for a simple, reliable QRP SSB rig for HF use in the coming years then the Hendricks QRP Kits version of Ashlan Farhan's BitX transceiver for 20m would be in the frame. They also do a version for 17m, but there is more chance of QSOs on 20m.  The rig has a useful 5W pep output and looks straightforward to build for most people. The Ashlan Farhan design is well proven. Going from 100W down to 5W is only just over a couple of S-points. 5W will get you plenty of QSOs on 20m SSB. 5W is fun.

A 10m version would be fun, but sadly is not available, but likely to be less useful in the years to come, apart from summertime Es. A 10m design would need better MOSFET PA devices anyway I think.

Last North American on 10m WSPR today

K9AN (6505km) was the last USA station to spot my 500mW WSPR beacon at 1724z today. Since then, just local G4IKZ (18km) spotting me.

South America

I see CX2ABP (11127km) was spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon this afternoon. I will have to check my records to see if this is the first time he has copied the WSPR-AXE beacon. I know I've already been copied in South America by a station in southern Brazil.

Climbing sunspots

Sunspot number has climbed back to 120 and 10m propagation is again expected to be "good". So far, what looks like single hop F2 stations (or maybe back-scatter?) spotting my 500mW WSPR-AXE beacon (EA8, OH, LZ, CT and UR). No exceptionally long DX reports on 10m as yet here, but these are quite likely.

At the moment I am QRV on 10m WSPR TX (500mW) only and monitoring dT (timing errors) by receiving locally on the FT817 tuned to 10m WSPR.  So far, dT errors are a maximum of 1.2 seconds.

25 Nov 2014

QRT on 630m and 10m WSPR

This evening and overnight I decided not to go on WSPR at all.  Both my 10m WSPR-AXE beacon (500mW) and my 630m (472kHz - 5mW ERP) WSPR stations have been turned off and antennas disconnected. 

I shall probably resume on 10m WSPR in the morning after breakfast.

50MHz UKAC contest - Nov 25th TONIGHT

Even though my voice is still very bad I may try for a few points in the 50MHz UKAC contest 2000-2230z tonight. The only 50MHz antenna I have is my V2000 vertical, so I am unlikely to work much.  I'll probably not be on for too long.
Just 2 stations worked in 50MHz UKAC this evening with 5W to vertical V2000
UPDATE 2122z:   I was on for about 50 minutes and had to stop as my voice was suffering badly.   Being crossed polarised with most stations did not help. I managed just 2 QSOs with 5W to the V2000 vertical with best DX being G3WIR/A at 116km. With, for example. a 6m halo, horizontally polarised antenna, I'd probably have worked many more stations than I did. Still, it was worth a go.

My brain

I am still puzzled by my brain functioning.

Most mental functions seem fine, but when I do an email or blog post I seem slow to spot errors like spelling mistakes or missing full stops. Usually, I try to correct errors before sending, but looking back I still spot mistakes that I've missed. It is as if my brain needs far more time to actually see the mistake. This must be yet another stroke related thing. Driving seems absolutely fine: I am not giddy and I feel in good control.

If you see blog errors please tell me. I want to correct the errors and know when my brain is not doing its job right.

Last 10m USA spot tonight

K3ZV (5692km) was the last to spot my 500mW 10m WSPR-AXE beacon tonight at a very early 1650z. Since then just local G4IKZ (18km) copying me.

Spark transmitters and modern simple rigs

In the early days of wireless, spark transmitters were all they had. Selectivity and bandwidths were not major concerns.  These days it is all so different with sometimes very crowded bands and the bandwidth of both transmitter and receiver being of major importance.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spark-gap_transmitter for some interesting reading. I recommend you do not try a spark transmitter as you would be very unpopular because of the wide signal and interference caused.   By all means read about them though.

A modern challenge is to see just how simple rigs can be made yet still function credibly on the amateur bands today.  Rigs like the Pixie are fun, but such ultra-simple transceivers are let down by deaf or easily overloaded receivers. To my mind, the receivers have to be selective, sensitive, have netting, and not be easily overloaded. The challenge is to overcome these issues! Often TX power is not the deal breaker.

UPDATE 1740z:  W5OLF has just shown me a photo of his tiny 1 inch ferrite rod antenna on which he has had some success with on 10m WSPR.  I tried some WSPR experiments with ferrite antennas some years ago on 40m, 30m and 20m. As long as the ferrite does not saturate they do work. See www.g3xbm.co.uk .

Sunspots and 10m conditions - Nov 25th 2014

The sunspot number has climbed to 111 today and 10m daytime conditions are again "good". I missed out on 10m this morning until about 1412z, when the band was wide open to the USA, yet again.

472kHz receive here last evening

I receive 472kHz via my transverter but on RX it is totally passive i.e. I receive directly on 472kHz on the FT817 through a series tuned circuit at 472kHz.  Last night, mid evening, 472kHz WSPR was quite busy (see below):
If anything, the FT817 is marginally deaf on 472kHz. This does not seem to be issue though as I seem to hear most of what's going. The "antenna" for the above was the short baseline earth-electrodes: one end is grounded in the flower bed with a 1m long earth rod, about 15m away, whilst in the shack the other connection is to the mains earth. The link back from the far electrode to the shack is 32 x 0.2mm PVC covered wire at a height of about 2m. I am lucky that my RX noise floor is low at this QTH.

On TX last night I was copied by 8 different stations with best DX last night G8HUH (250km). Best DX on the earth-electrode system (on TX with 5mW ERP) is DL-SWL (701km).

24 Nov 2014

10m WSPR-AXE summary

 Just some of the 91 unique spots on 10m WSPR in the last 2 weeks.
My little W5OLF designed "all on one tiny PCB" 500mW 10m WSPR beacon has been spotted by 91 different stations in every continent in the last 2 weeks.

This is the probably the smallest 10m WSPR beacon possible (it fits in a tiny Altoids mint tin), need no PC, and it works remarkably well. It "fits the bill" perfectly on 10m WSPR beaconing for me.

Perhaps I should improve my 10m antenna, but having reached every continent I probably will stick with the 3-band antenna as it gives me so much flexibility. The PAR tri-band antenna covers 10m, 20m and 40m without an ATU.

10m stateside

The first spot in North America of my little 500mW WSPR beacon was by W3CSW (5886km) at 1206z today. My report was -14dB S/N suggesting 10dB weaker (or even less) would still have been enough. Since then, several USA stations have spotted me. I have lost count now of the weeks and weeks the 10m band has opened to the USA and Canada after lunch.

In years to come, we'll look back on these days with envy! In the quieter years it can be a very long time indeed between good E-W openings. At such times multi-hop summertime Es can be the best/only chance of getting to the USA.

UPDATE 1824z:   The last USA 10m WSPR spot today was at 1716z by K9AN (6505km).

472kHz WSPR this morning

As I can now use the FT817 with PC totally separate from my WSPR-AXE beacon for 10m (this needs no PC or separate rig), this morning I continued use of the FT817 on 472kHz WSPR.

G8VDQ (93km) is still being spotted and locals G0LRD and G4KPX are still spotting me. I need to check clock sync.

10m WSPR this morning so far

Using the 500mW WSPR-AXE beacon on 10m, it has just been Europeans spotting me so far. Spots have been from France, Norway, UK and Ukraine. I expect the 10m band will open to the USA for me shortly. The USA is already open for some Europeans.

UPDATE 1216z:   Still no stateside 10m spots as yet.

Bang good portables

There is some confusion over these radios. Although some are limited in the number of channels and some may come pre-programmed, for example, for the  European licence free 446MHz band, several models (such as the ones shown yesterday) say they can be re-programmed in the 400-470MHz range. If so, they would make very low cost 70cms portables.

 On the Bang good website there are even lower cost units for the USA market.

Sunspots - Nov 24th 2014

The sunspot number has slipped a little lower to 66 but 10m daytime conditions remain "good". Some F2 propagation should be expected.

23 Nov 2014

Unbelievable prices!

See http://www.banggood.com/T-688-0_5W-UHF-Auto-Channels-Mini-Radios-Walkie-Talkie-Pair-Black-p-920432.html .

I cannot believe these prices. £13.91 for a pair covering 400-470MHz, 500mW, with free shipping to the UK. That is under £7 each for a 70cm transceiver from Bang good.  Just how do they make any profit? Buy 3 sets and it is even cheaper.  Quite remarkable!

The link says T688 but the photo T668. Not sure which is the correct number but the link works.

The rigs run from 3 x AAA batteries (each) and the price does not include a charger.

ARRL propagation forecasts

For those of you who subscribe to the ARRL (not everyone does and I have no plans to renew my subs next year),  the weekly propagation forecasts make interesting reading.  Even more interesting are the archived old forecasts, so we can see just how good conditions are compared, for example, with the same time in 2007.  As I mentioned before, if you are not an ARRL member you will not be able to follow the link, I believe.

ARRL members see http://www.arrlrg/w1aw-bulletins-archive/ARLP054/2007 .

Why am I not renewing my digital subscription with ARRL? 
Earlier in the year I could not use my password and it took a week to sort it out. The online help was no help at all. It took several emails before anyone actually helped me. Most of QST seems to be ads similar to those in UK magazines. I cannot see the value in continuing ARRL membership. In summary, the ARRL seemed a pretty useless organisation. I was NOT impressed.

GQRP Club membership is much better value in my view.

472kHz WSPR - 5mW ERP

As well as TX beaconing on 10m, I have again been on MF (472kHz) but so far no great DX either spotting me or being spotted here using the short baseline earth-electrode "antenna".   Best DX, so far, in daylight, is PA3ABK/2 (306km) being copied here. Things may be better later?
Unique WSPR spots with the earth-electrode "antenna" and 5mW ERP on 472kHz 
UPDATE 1642z:   G3WCB (101km) is now spotting me (1618z) at -22dB S/N. Darkness has just fallen here.  It is a miserable day with lots of rain.

UPDATE 1720z:   DK7FC (669km) is now being spotted here.

UPDATE 1758z:   Several 472kHz DX stations now being spotted including LA3EQ (769km) and F1AFJ (607km).

10m spots of the WSPR-AXE 500mW beacon so far today

The tiny little W5OLF designed WSPR-AXE beacon continues to do a great job with lots of spots again today. Although things were a little slow towards the USA and Canada earlier, there are plenty of stations over there spotting me now. This is a list of the unique 10m spotters so far (to 1600z).  In most cases, stations have reported me multiple times.
Unique 10m WSPR spots with WSPR-AXE 500mW beacon so far today.
UPDATE 2022z:  The last USA station to spot me was AB4QS at 1736z.

MST SSB transceiver kits

See http://www.ozqrp.com/index.html .

A nice line of SSB QRP transceivers for 80, 40 or 20m with power up to 5W.  These kits come from Australia and payment is by PayPal. I have no experience of these kits so have no idea how they perform when bands are busy as in Europe.

It looks like these are easy to build kits.

More 10m USA spots

As the afternoon has progressed. quite a few more USA stations have been spotting me.  As usual, it is the same old stations that have spotted me before like K9AN, W3CSW, KB9AMG plus others. WSPR tends to be like this with similar stations spotting one. I think there is more variety on JT65 and JT9-1 modes.

Sunspots and 10m conditions - Sunday Nov 23rd 2014

Sunspot number today is 64 (a further small fall) but 10m daytime conditions in the forecast remain "good". So far today, my 10m 500mW WSPR-AXE beacon has only been copied in Europe. I expect the band will open to the USA shortly.

UPDATE 1210z:   So far, no spots from the USA yet, although it is a little early still.

UPDATE 1232z:   The first USA station to spot me today was WG2Z (5600km) at 1228z at -21dB S/N. This station is frequently the first and last to spot me on 10m. He must have a good system and antenna.

UPDATE 1338z:   So far, there seem to be fewer USA spotters than recently, suggesting 10m conditions are not quite as good as they have been? Early days still. I'll tell you at 1800z.

Back on MF and 10m WSPR

For one night my shack was being used as a nursery bedroom, so I was unable to use it for radio work. As my son, his wife and their 2 little ones have now returned home, until the week before Christmas, I now have the shack back and have restarted WSPR on 472kHz (using the earth-electrode "antenna") and 28MHz (10m) using the 500mW WSPR-AXE beacon.  On 472kHz I am using WSPR4 software and 5mW ERP.

On 472kHz I am spotting G8VDQ, and G3ZJO.   G3XDV, G0LRD and G8LCO are spotting me so far.

UPDATE 1228z:   On 10m I am being spotted around Europe with best DX (so far) R2AEW (2439km). OH3LMN (1747km) is the person spotting the beacon most (12 times already).

22 Nov 2014

More on the Rosetta mission

John Mullins G0TEV has kindly sent me these links:
Hi Roger

I saw your comments on your blog regarding the Rosetta mission and the subsequent landing of Philae. Personally I thought that it was an amazing achievement. I just hope that the lander can be illuminated sufficiently to recharge it’s batteries and carry out further science.

The following URLs may be of interest.


All continents with the 500mW 10m WSPR-AXE beacon

In the last couple of weeks my TINY little WSPR beacon has now been copied on every continent including Antarctica. I am totally impressed as my antenna is not the best. I can probably gain 6-10dB with a properly optimised 10m antenna. Having been copied so well I will soon need a new challenge!

Sunspots and 10m conditions - Nov 22nd 2014

Sunspot number slipped to 68 today but 10m daytime conditions remained "good".  My best DX with the tiny 10m 500mW WSPR-AXE beacon was PY2FF (10440km) who spotted me just before lunch.   The 10m band was open to North America yet again today.

21 Nov 2014


I have been a member of the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) for 52 years now. When I first joined I was an SWL associate member - A3554 - as a young teenager.   In those days you had to be proposed and seconded. Joining is much easier today.  When I started there was just one licence. I took my RAE exam in 1966. It was on Friday 13th May as I recall.  I attended RAE classes at Plymouth Tech every Monday night, catching the bus to Plymouth after school. Long gone days!

Over the years I have not always agreed with the RSGB's decisions. In fact, quite recently, I did not like the decision worked up with OFCOM to allocate the 146-147MHz band to some UK amateurs by NoV.  I think the RSGB could have got a much better deal for UK amateurs, but that is my personal view.

Despite this, the RSGB is our national society and deserves our support. Over the years they have supported UK amateurs very well and have a much better relationship with OFCOM than the ARRL has with the FCC in the USA where bands we have had access to for years are still not available! The monthly RadCom magazine is a good read with a mix of technical and non-technical articles.

So, if you are not an RSGB member and you live in the UK, may I encourage you to join?

See www.rsgb.org .

10m WSPR unique spots today so far

So far today, 24 unique spots of my 10m WSPR-AXE 500mW "all in one" beacon, mostly from the USA and Canada. The little beacon has not been re-synchronized to internet time for several days.
Unique 10m WSPR spots received so far today of the 500mW beacon
UPDATE 1910z:   The last USA station to spot me tonight was WG2Z (5600km) at 1742z.

Stroke update

I had my cerebellum brain bleed (stroke) in Sept 2013 and in all honesty I was expecting to be fully fit again by now. I think my wife and I had no idea how serious this was and just how long recovery was going to take. Nearly 15 months on it is a mixed picture.

All my limbs, my eyes and ears and my cognitive functions seem to work OK. But I still have poor liquid swallow, poor speech, giddiness when walking and I tire on the least physical exertion such as washing dishes or gardening. My stamina is better than it was but it is still far from right.

I am still clumsy and amateur radio construction is still out of the question, which I find very hard to accept. This, and my speaking problem, is why I currently use WSPR so much.

I am told a full recovery is probable, but this will take time. This last year as been very hard. I sincerely hope 2015 will be a better year.

In summary, I have felt old suddenly. Until last year I felt as if I would last forever. Now I feel far more vulnerable.

Sunspots - Friday Nov 21st 2014

Sunspot number today is 83, almost the same as yesterday, but 10m daytime propagation is again expected to remain "good".

So far, no exotic DX with the little 500mW WSPR-AXE 10m beacon with best spot so far from 4X1RF (3519km) plus LZ1OI and UR/SWL56.  No Australians spotting me, well yet anyway.

DL-SWL on 472kHz

Overnight DL-SWL (701km) spotted me no less than 7 times on 472kHz. I was using my short baseline earth-electrode "antenna" with a maximum 5mW ERP. Not my best DX but very pleasing. With no real antenna, no loading coils, ANYONE could join the fun on 472kHz!

20 Nov 2014


As regular readers of this blog will know, I just love WSPR. It amazes me that such weak signals can be detected so well at such great distances using this mode. I am even more impressed that such a simple "stand alone" (no PC needed) beacon can be constructed.  My very simple, TINY little 10m W5OLF WSPR-AXE beacon has been copied all over the world now. It is truly TINY.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WSPR_%28amateur_radio_software%29 .

Landing on a comet

One cannot help but be impressed by the space probe Rosetta to a comet and the subsequent landing of the Philae probe on the comet's surface.

This week I learned that one our friends was the Project Manager for this at Astrium back in the late 1990s. He is now retired but he was invited back for the landing. I hope they manage to get the lander moved to a better illuminated spot.

I was very impressed.

Arizona on 10m

Best 10m DX today,well so far, with the little 500mW WSPR-AXE beacon was WA7HL (8508km).  There is still a chance that I might get spotted in South America later, but somehow I doubt it.

Sunspots - Thursday Nov 20th 2014

Sunspot number has dropped back to 72 today. 10m propagation is forecast to be "good".  The 10m band has been open to the USA yet again this afternoon, but no great DX seen on the band for my little 500mW WSPR-AXE beacon today.

19 Nov 2014

10m WSPR analysis by Bert PA1B

Bert PA1B has analysed my 500mW WSPR spots today, ignoring the many spots by local G4IKZ.   It shows the signal strengths (uV/m) implied by the S/N figures.  In many cases, much lower powers would have been enough to get "spotted".  Thank you Bert.  Of course, for some people, the noise floor limits the minimum signal that can be detected.
UPDATE 2200z:  The last USA spot of my 500mW was WG2Z (5600km) at 1724z. Just local G4IKZ (18km) since then.  Now QRT on 10m until after breakfast, but will stay on 472kHz overnight.

G4HUP kits

See http://g4hup.com/Orders.html.

John Mullin, G0TEV has pointed me to these kits, which include an add-on panoramic adaptor kit, suitable to tap into the IF output of many popular rigs like the FT817, IC706 and IC703. I had not seen these kits before John pointed me in their direction.

Sunspots - Nov 19th 2014

Conditions on 10m remain good here.

Sunspot number today had dropped back a bit to 92, but 10m conditions remain "good". Certainly the 10m DX WSPR spots from Australia confirm this. I am already being spotted in the USA very early today.

472kHz WSPR overnight - spotted in Germany

Overnight, I ran the MF WSPR station on 472kHz to the (short baseline) earth-electrode antenna. In all, 7 unique spots were received with my best DX (5mW ERP) being a -29dB S/N report from DL-SWL (701km) in JO52hp square. This is not my best DX ever on the band from this QTH, but I think it is the best DX with the very simple earth-electrode antenna system.

Australia on 10m 500mW

My TINY little "all in one" WSPR-AXE beacon was spotted at 1010z  by VK5MR (16144km) for my best DX report yet. At -23dB S/N this suggests I still had power in hand too.

I knew this would happen, and today it did. I remain very impressed that this TINY little WSPR beacon works so well. It seems incredible that such a TINY little unit works so well. Well done Jay W5OLF.

18 Nov 2014

472kHz WSPR with the earth-electrode antenna

It is now 2050z. 10m has been dead for "real DX" since 1840z. I am still TXing on  10m but only being spotted by G4IKZ (18km).

At the same time I am on 472kHz WSPR both TX (5mW ERP) and RX. So far, 4 different stations have spotted me on 472kHz and I have spotted 7 different stations on RX. Best RX DX is DK7FC (669km). So far this evening the best spot of my 472kHz 5mW ERP is from G3WCB (101km).

Last USA spot on 10m?

WG2Z (5600km) was spotting me at 1736z.   I am wondering if this will be the last 10m North American spot, or if the band will remain open longer.

When I go QRT on 10m later this evening I shall leave MF still running.

UPDATE 1935z:   Well WG2Z was the last spot but at 1840z, almost an hour after the above spot.

WSPRing MF and 10m simultaneously

Late this afternoon, I decided to try 472kHz WSPR (using the FT817, transverter and earth-electrode antenna (5mW ERP) and 28MHz WSPR (using the 500mW WSPR-AXE 500mW TX beacon) . All seems to be working with USA reports on 10m still, as well as G0LRD spotting me on LF and I am spotting G,PA and DL on 472kHz WSPR. Certainly MF is a great deal more productive than 6m was over 6 days of trying.

UPDATE 1710z:   a 472kHz report of -12dB S/N from G3XDV (61km) suggests he might just copy me on the same (short) earth-electrode antenna on 136kHz especially if I used QRSS30. I really must try a longer baseline earth-electrode antenna. The earth-electrode antenna definitely has directionality like a loop.

Unique 10m WSPR spots to 1450z today

The little 500mW beacon has been on since last evening. LZ1OI (2153km) and 4X1RF (3519km) were  both spotting me very early and there have been plenty of stations spotting me already. This is the list of unique stations spotting me so far:
Unique station 10m WSPR reports today to 1450z.
In many cases, stations have copied me many times and this is not shown. 500mW seems quite enough to "blast a hole".   More power might help at times, but if the path is open 500mW is very often plenty with WSPR.

Sunspots - Tuesday Nov 18th 2014

Sunspot number today is 95 and 10m propagation is expected to be "good". Although my little WSPR-AXE beacon is being copied widely, nothing out of the ordinary so far.

Antarctica on 10m WSPR (500mW)

This morning, my tiny little 500mW WSPR-AXE beacon, designed by Jay (W5OLF), was copied in Antarctica by RI1ABR (13676km) in JB59mm square. This is the best DX so far with it.  Australia has, so far, eluded me. There are loads of USA stations spotting me.

See http://rt.com/news/russia-antarctic-stations-exploration-541/ .

17 Nov 2014

Sunspots today - Nov 17th 2014

Sunspot number has fallen to 91 yet 10m daytime propagation is supposed to be "good".  Although 10m has yet again opened to the USA (weeks and weeks this has happened now) I would not describe conditions on 10m as particularly "good".  I am still waiting for my first Australian report when using the little beacon for example.  When the band is really "good" VK reports with the 500mW WSPR beacon should be no problem.

Dual band WSPRing

Since mid-afternoon I've been WSPRing on 2 bands at the same time. My little WSPR-AXE beacon (from W5OLF) puts out 27dBm on 10m and I used my FT817 to put out 30dBm ERP from my V2000 on 6m. Although 10m is resulting in plenty of reports, 6m is, yet again, DEAD with no stations received and no reports received. I'll leave both 6m and 10m WSPR running until after dark. Tomorrow I may try my earth-electrode antenna on MF (472kHz WSPR) at the same as 10m. As I use the Par antenna on 10m, I shall have to use the earth-electrode antenna on 472kHz.

UPDATE 1624z:   6m WSPR is still utterly DEAD. I keep plugging away on 6m to no avail. Not sure why I even bother!  10m, with half the power is far more productive: every day I get DX reports with the little WSPR-AXE 10m WSPR beacon at 500mW.
UPDATE 1925z:   6m WSPR again proved to be totally useless with not a single station copied here or copying me. Having tried so hard out of the Es season, I am now giving up on 6m until spring 2015.

UPDATE 1945z:    Just gone QRT on 6m, but left the 10m WSPR-AXE 500mW beacon still running.

UPDATE 1950z:   The last USA station appears to have been KB9AMG (6300km) at 1844z.

16 Nov 2014

Last USA spot of the day?

It looks as if N2NOM (5581km) was the last USA spot of my little 500mW beacon today at 1812z. Since then, just local G4IKZ (18km) spotting me now.

UPDATE 2004z:  N2NOM was the last spot from the USA this evening.

UPDATE 2046z:  Now gone QRT - just G4IKZ now spotting me since 1812z.

146-147MHz allocated to UK full licencees under NoV - why?

My original post on this seems to have magically vanished. Don't know how this happened.

Basically, I totally fail to understand why OFCOM has allocated this band to some UK amateurs. It is only ad interim, by NoV to full licence holders, is only for a limited time, and only in a limited geographical area.

The 144-146MHz (2m band) is generally under-used in the UK and the rest of Europe and white noise is the most common thing to hear. Take a listen. It NEVER sounds busy here in Cambridgeshire, even in contests.

Personally, I would have preferred OFCOM to have given us smaller bands (100kHz wide?) at 40MHz and maybe 60MHz, renewed access to the old 73kHz band and allowed free access to 0-8.3kHz. The RSGB thinks the new 146-147MHz band will be used for digital TV experiments - this is rubbish - it is hard enough to get any DATV experiments at 432MHz and 1296MHz where most amateur TV takes place. Maybe a few very dedicated individuals will try DATV 146-147MHz, but just a handful.

Personally, I think OFCOM lost credibility allocating 146-147MHz to amateurs. This was clearly a sop to make up for messing with microwave bands. Far more radio science would have been possible with new allocations in other parts of the spectrum. There are already some beacons at 40MHz and 60MHz,which bands would have been ideal for Es experiments. 40MHz is mid-way between the 10m and 6m bands. Surely 50-100kHz could have been made available?

I hope OFCOM supports a contiguous 5MHz (60m) amateur allocation worldwide at WRC2015 next year. We'll need this in the quiet years ahead.

73kHz again?

Well I, for one, would welcome the chance to experiment on the 73kHz band. I can, I believe, legally (even without a licence) do so with earth-mode but I'd like to see how effective earth-electrode antennas work as radiating structures on this band. With modem digital techniques there are so many experiments to do.

Sadly, like much of our spectrum, this is now managed by "the military" in the UK so it is very unlikely we'll get access to this band again. When originally available in the UK, I was not active on LF.

10m - stateside

The first spot of my 500mW 10m beacon was at 1248z today by WB1FIG (5304km). Since then, several USA stations have spotted me, although I have not been spotted outside of Europe and the USA so far today.

Conditions seem "OK" on 10m, but certainly not what I'd call brilliant. For example, no spots from Asia, Africa or South America yet. I am still waiting for a first first spot of my little beacon from Australia.

UPDATE 1500z:   So far today reports of my little 500mW 10m beacon have been received from 28 different stations, so far. The majority of these are located in the USA and Canada.  Lots of hours left still today too!

UPDATE 1540z:    Best DX report today is still from K9AN (6505km).

UPDATE 1640z:   Best DX report today is from WA5NGP (7878km). Still no reports today from further afield. Time is running out today.

Sunspots - Sunday Nov 16th

Sunspot number today has declined to 100, but 10m daytime conditions are still  forecast to be "good". The forecasts suggest decent 10m F2 propagation. We'll see.

15 Nov 2014


Ever since the spring when Moonraker supplied me with rubbish patch leads that just fell apart because the crimping was so poor, and a dual band VHF/UHF yagi antenna that had to be glued to fix one of the loose elements, Moonraker has not been my favourite supplier. They clearly did zero quality checks on the goods sold. I hope they have improved.

However they have some nice 10m radios at sensible prices including a 20W FM/AM unit for under £100 and a multi-mode 10m rig for under £150.

See http://www.moonraker.eu/ .

UPDATE 2200z:  Moonraker also supply PMR446 and LPD433 dual band transceivers. The latter band is within the 70cm amateur band, which is perfectly legal at 10mW with no amateur licence, here in the UK. On UHF, 10mW goes a long way from a local high spot. See http://www.moonraker.eu/professional-radio-and-446/pmr-446 . There are several to choose from.

Last stateside 10m spot today

The last USA spot of my WSPR-AXE 500mW 10m beacon, thanks to Jay W5OLF, was W3CSW (5886km) at 1850z. Since then just local G4IKZ.

The little 10m WSPR beacon still impresses me greatly.  It is tiny yet seems to produce the magic of good reports from across the planet, and no PC is needed.

UPDATE 2053z:  The little 10m beacon was switched off just now at 2050z. Although plenty of USA stations received me, I was quite surprised not to be spotted further away today. There is no doubt in my mind that world-wide 10m spots will be achieved with this little unit. It is the best investment I have ever made in our hobby. I can't praise it highly enough. It proves size and cost do not matter!

Yaesu FT 991 - all mode, all band transceiver

This rig does look like it will be popular, although at a stated UK price of £999 I have my doubts. This seems VERY high to me when the FT840D now sells for £619 before negotiation for a cash deal. UK exchange rates with Japan (£-Yen) have greatly improved, so rig prices should be falling dramatically. At £699, rather than £999 I can see it doing very well. Far less well at £999. In the USA expect to pay $999.

See http://qrznow.com/yaesu-ft-991/ for pictures and a video.  I see the rig has now passed FCC testing .  I have no news of CE approvals in Europe. Don't expect we'll see it in Europe before spring 2015.

I do hope dealers in the UK offer it at a sensible price. Get the price right and you deserve to sell lots of these units. Personally, I'd like to see a 10W or 30W version but doubt this will come in Europe or the USA. Of course, an FT817 replacement might be on the cards? We live in eternal hope.

Unique reports with the 500mW WSPR-AXE 10m beacon today

My little W5OLF 10m WSPR beacon - it really is TINY - has been going great guns again. These were the unique 10m WSPR spots today, so far.   Of course, several stations spotted me many times.  As previously, plenty of 10m USA spots in the log.

Sunspots today

The sunspot number today has risen to 117 and 10m propagation was forecast to be "good". F2 propagation on 10m looks promising.

UPDATE 2120z:   Although the band was open (again) to the USA, my little 500mW beacon was not spotted further away. Maybe tomorrow.

14 Nov 2014

Going backwards?

After many many years of good service our HP "all in one" low cost printer, scanner and copier has finally died: it would probably cost far more to mend than replace.  So, a few days ago I bought the nearest equivalent. It was delivered today. An HP Deskjet 2540, bought as I was so impressed with the original HP machine.

Why is it that things seem to go backwards? OK, the new machine also supports wireless printing, but I found the set-up more difficult and far less intuitive.  The "easy start" guide which was purely diagrammatic was confusing.  Even installing the cartridges seemed more tricky. In one of my 2 laptops the CD failed to read.

They call it progress.

10m USA - again

Yet again, 10m is open to the USA even with my 500mW WSPR-AXE beacon. Not sure when it first opened but several USA stations were spotting me around tea time including KB9AMG, KF4FX and WA0JYF, all over 6300km.

For most of the day UR/SWL56 was spotting my 500mW beacon (76 spots!) at strengths up to an amazing +2dB S/N. For most of the afternoon, the USA stations were not spotting me. I did a re-sync at tea time and since then they have been copying me. This may be purely co-incidental and just "conditions". If I had not been spotted so consistently by UR/SWL56 I would suspect a small buglet in the WSPR-AXE software, but somehow this seems unlikely.

Anyway, now I am getting plenty of USA reports.

UPDATE 1910z:    WG2Z (5600km) was still spotting me at 1850z, but since then just local G4IKZ (18km). We'll soon see if there are later USA spots, but I suspect that is it.

UPDATE 2045z:   The last spots from the USA of my 500mW beacon were KC2GMM, N2NOM and  WG2Z all at 1850z. 10m has opened to the USA every afternoon for weeks and weeks now.

Sunspot number - Nov 14th 2014

The sunspot number is 104 today with 10m propagation forecast to be "good".    Although 10m opened to the USA yet again yesterday, it has been quite quiet here so far today.

13 Nov 2014

Ten Tec Argonauts

Many QRP enthusiasts have used the various TenTec Argonaut transceivers. I never have, so what follows is not from personal experience. The latest Argonaut VI misses 6m, 12m, and 60m and seems expensive, at least here in the UK.

The image on the LHS (above) resides on the www.eham.net site and will be removed if linking to it is an issue.

To identify the older Argonaut models, Ten Tec have a "knowledge base" page to help.  See http://www.tentec.com/pages/Identifying-the-Argonaut-transceivers.html . Although the latest version is said to be very good, I am afraid I'll not be buying one. Price needs to be £799 or less in the UK and it needs the missing bands before I'd even look.

There are 22 reviews of the Argonaut VI on eHam.net. See http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/10849 . At an average of 4.5 out of 5, the score is not that good. The FT817 scores much better. People seem to love it or hate it. It apparently has a very quiet receiver and a very simple user interface.

I see that Ten Tec have dropped the USA price of the Argonaut VI to $849 for a package that now bundles the mic and 700Hz CW filter too. I suspect this is a desperate measure to shore up sales.  It would not surprise me if they went bust. Personally, I think the latest Argonaut VI was a mistake that Ten Tec now regret. These are personal views. I hope they survive and thrive, but please reduce the Argonaut VI price outside the USA too and, for goodness sake, add those missing bands!

Their Rebel open source CW rig sounds far more likely to succeed in my personal view.

Ten Tec is reputable make, not Japanese or Chinese, and I wish them well for the future. The commercial world is a tough place, so take nothing for granted.

Stateside reports yet again

Yet again, 10m opened to North America this afternoon. The earliest USA spot for me was at 1212z.  In a way, I was expecting to get some real, very long distance 10m DX spots today with my 500mW WSPR-AXE beacon but "only" Europe, Middle East and USA so far. I still remain very pleased with the little beacon.
Unique 10m WSPR spots received so far today (500mW)
UPDATE 1755z:  The last 10m WSPR spot of my 500mW beacon seems to have been at 1722z by WG2Z (5600km). Since then just spots from local G4IKZ (18km).

UPDATE 1840z:  My little W5OLF 10m beacon has just been switched off.

Multi-band WSPRing?

Now I have my fully stand-alone 10m WSPR-AXE unit, I should be able to WSPR on MF (with the earth-electrode antenna) or on 6m at the same time. I have yet to try this out but this means I can WSPR on 2 bands at once should I want. 6m might be fun although I've had no success to date lately on 6m.

10m WSPR-AXE reports

So far this morning (it is now 1045z) I have received 50 separate reports using my 10m WSPR-AXE 500mW beacon (sent to me by W5OLF). The little, fully self-contained, beacon (no PC needed) works very well indeed. After about 20 minutes settling time, the drift is essentially zero. Some of the reports below show the beacon still settling. I thoroughly recommend this unit. It is such FUN to use and see all the reports coming in. Just a single small PCB and it fits in a small enclosure. With my poor voice, it is an excellent way of enjoying the hobby and checking propagation - all at very low cost too. What I like is that it is all on a single PCB. Although the Ultimate 3 kit  from Hans Summers covers more modes and is less expensive, it is on several PCBs and is slightly more complex. The W5OLF WSPR-AXE beacon matches my needs perfectly.
Unique 10m WSPR spots to 1045z today with WSPR-AXE beacon
UPDATE 1148z:   Spots this morning being received from right across Europe from Finland (OH) in the north to Italy (I) in the south and Ukraine (UR) and Bulgaria (LZ) in the east, plus Israel (4X), all with the tiny WSPR-AXE 500mW unit. Further afield later?

UPDATE 2000z:  Apart from the very many spots from the USA, no other DX was spotting me. I was hoping for a spot from Australia, but that will have to be on another day. Judging by my reports so far, I think this is just a matter of time.


Sunspot number is a little up on yesterday at 89. 10m propagation is expected to be "good" so I am very hopeful of some really long distance F2 reports of my little W5OLF WSPR-AXE 10m 500mW beacon. Already it has received 50 spots from Eastern Europe and Israel.

12 Nov 2014

QRP radios

I continue to be surprised by how few affordable QRP radios are on the market. The FT817ND continues to be the favourite, but recent exchange rate changes have not been matched by decent falls in the UK retail prices. I think we are still being ripped off by dealers in the UK. The IC703 is no longer made and the KX3 from Elecraft is very expensive over here. There are a few lower cost Chinese HF radios appearing. Overall, there remains little choice in QRP transceivers at sensible prices. I am sure the KX3 is a very good radio but for the same price I can buy 2 FT817 transceivers, and these are all mode and to 70cms.

A multi-band, all mode, 5-10W radio would be a killer in this age where people take lots of holidays and are on the move frequently. I still fail to understand why the big Japanese manufacturerers have not got a raft of low cost units on the market. It seems a gold mine opportunity is being wasted. Maybe I have misread the market?

I know if there was a new, attractively featured, QRP transceiver on the market now at a sensible price I'd be in the line to buy. I am sure very many others would be too.

10m stateside

Conditions on 10m today definitely seem poorer than yesterday. I am still using my little 500mW WSPR beacon by W5OLF.  There were spots all day from UR/SWL56 and this afternoon from 4X1RF (3519km), all afternoon. So far, 4X1RF has spotted me 20 times.

My first USA spot was WG2Z (5600km) at 1220z. Since then I have had USA spots from several USA stations, but I think fewer than yesterday.  The W5OLF WSPR-AXE 10m 500mW beacon really does work, without a PC. I am still in awe that something so small and beautiful is copyable so far away. It would fit in an Altiods tin - a real favourite with QRPers.

The beacon is still on and running, but I don't expect any magically far DX between now and switch off, which will probably be around 1830z.

UPDATE 1902z:  I am just about to turn off my little W5OLF 10m WSPR beacon. The last stateside station to spot my 500mW was KB9AMG (6300km) at 1712z - no other spots since. Definitely conditions on 10m were not as good as yesterday.  Still, yet again the 10m band was open to the USA and 500mW was quite enough. Worse report was -25dB S/N with most reports in the teens suggesting even less power would have been enough.

UPDATE 1910z:   10m WSPR beacon is now off.

Using my W5OLF beacon again on 10m WSPR (500mW)

Since about 5 minutes ago, I am again WSPR beaconing using 500mW from the tiny W5OLF 10m WSPR beacon. It is still settling, but already being spotted well in southern Ukraine by UR/SWL56 (2283km) at -14dB S/N.

UPDATE 1055z:   At the moment only UR/SWL56 has spotted me. It looks like conditions are NOT as good as yesterday?


The sunspot count today has hardly changed at 70 and 10m propagation is likely to be "fair". It looks like we can expect 10m to be rather like Tuesday.

11 Nov 2014

How do they ever make a profit?

On the internet you can buy a dual-band handheld with antenna, battery, chargers(2), earpiece and belt clip for just £25.29. At this price I find it unbelievable they can make a profit. I think it is even cheaper if you buy a batch of 3.
See http://www.banggood.com/LBaofeng-UV-5RA-Yellow-Dual-Band-Transceiver-Radio-Wakie-Talkie-p-947385.html  .

Shipping is just 29p. shipped to the UK by registered air parcel. It is available in a variety of case colours.

70cm UKAC this evening (5W QRP)

70cms 5W QSOs this evening from home  
- best DX 105km
After less than an hour I had to stop to save my poor voice from further strain.

I worked 8 stations in 3 grid squares before I HAD to stop. I heard a station in IO81 but failed to work him as my beam (5el hand rotated) was way off.  Best DX was just 105km. Had I managed to stay in the contest longer, then I am sure more QSOs would be in the log. My normal 70cms range seems to be up to about 200km.

Conditions seemed poor and activity was lower than in the summer. I guess better weather brings out more portable stations. Most stations worked were fixed i.e at home or on club premises.   At this time of the year people prefer to stay home.  I cannot blame them!

Last USA spot this evening

WG2Z (5600km) seems to have been the last station in North America to spot my 500mW W5OLF WSPR beacon at 1716z. Since then, just local G4IKZ (18km) has been spotting me. I am very impressed with Jay's little beacon - it works very well.

UPDATE 1900z:   Went QRT on 10m WSPR at about 1900z as all DX seems to have stopped now.

70cms UKAC this evening

2000z to 2230z this evening (Nov 11th) is the next 70cms UK activity contest. Although my voice is poor, I shall try to come on for about an hour this evening. Contacts out to around 200km seem to be possible from the home QTH using 5W SSB and my hand-rotated 5 element beam. As it is now cold and dark and autumn, I suspect there may be less activity?   Activity is usually good with plenty of stations to work.

This is a very friendly sort of contest: just reports, serial numbers and QTH locators exchanged.   I only enter contests for fun, never to win, especially with my low power! If you can, come on 70cm SSB this evening.  Your presence would be welcomed warmly.

See http://www.rsgbcc.org/vhf/ for dates and times of all UKAC sessions.  These are excellent sessions.

Using the W5OLF 500mW 10m WSPR beacon today

W5OLF WSPR beacon - complete - no PC needed
This WSPR-AXE really is a very impressive little rig, in my case for 10m WSPR.  Because of my current disabled state -  I find all electronics building just about impossible - Jay very kindly sold me a built unit to evaluate. Results in just a few hours of operating have been truly impressive. No PC is needed as long as the push button is pressed at the start of an even minute. Jay says it stays stable for weeks thereafter. I ran mine for 3.5 hours and got masses of decodes. After lunch it has been getting LOTS of spots from the USA. I am sure it will reach Australia soon.

The unit needs about 15 minutes to frequency stabilise and is always on (the PA can be turned off), but it randomises the slots within the WSPR transmit window. This means it is unlikely to be "clobbered" by more powerful stations or cause others co-channel issues. 500mW seems plenty. In a word - BRILLIANT.

Best DX report (so far) today is FR1GZ (9724km).
10m WSPR - unique spots with the W5OLF beacon today, arranged by distance
If you want to buy one Jay W5OLF may be contacted on w5olf@comcast.net .

Sunspots - Nov 11th

Sunspot number has dropped to 68 and 10m daytime propagation is "fair". 10m is open to the USA again from here with my first USA spot (with 500mW) being at 1206z from WG2Z (5600km).

UPDATE 1510z:   Best DX report today (so far) is from K9AN (6505km).

10 Nov 2014


Sunspot count today is 78 and 10m daytime propagation is forecast to be "fair".  Already by F2, 4X1RF is copying my 500mW 10m WSPR well and Karen RA3APW's 100mW Moscow 10m WSPR beacon is being copied here well.

9 Nov 2014

Amateur radio on Wikipedia

For the current Wikipedia "take" on amateur radio take a look at this link below.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amateur_radio .

472kHz WSPR

Since just before 1800z I QSYed to 472kHz WSPR using my 5mW ERP from my indifferent "strapped feeder" antenna.  Best DX spot so far this evening is by PA0RDT (243km) at 1900z although I expect better later.

UPDATE 2248z: The best spot, so far, of my 5mW ERP is by G3XKR (347km) in IO70ux square in North Devon.

Australia on 10m WSPR - 500mW

Just before lunch time VK5MR (16144km) managed to copy my 10m QRP (500mW) WSPR at -21dB S/N implying he might just have copied me at 50mW ERP.

Again, the band was wide open to the USA after lunch. The first USA station to spot my 500mW 10m WSPR was W3CSW at 1206z.

Last USA spot of me looks like it was N2BJW (5262km) at 1724z. Since then just locals spotting me.   I have now moved to MF with 5mW ERP.


Sunspot number is 92 today and 10m propagation expected to be "fair" although based on recent days that seems to suggest F2 propagation should be expected.

UPDATE 1900z:   It turned out to be an excellent day on 10m with lots of USA spots and a very decent spot of my 500mW from Australia. 10m is still at its best.

10m WSPR - results overnight

G0LRD (25km) running 50mW was coming through all night. At around 0630z UA6AAK (2780km) started to come through by F2.

8 Nov 2014

10m WSPR overnight

Rather than QSY to MF I have decided to stick with 10m overnight tonight. Just G4IKZ spotting my 500mW since tea time, but it will be interesting to see who I spot first in the early hours and who spots my 500mW outsie of the UK. I have a good idea who this might be!

10m WSPR - 500mW from FT817, some good DX

KZ8C (6290km) was the first to spot my 500mW in the USA today. So far, 8 spots with 500mW from all over Europe, Asia and now the USA again. There were more at 2W this morning before I dropped down to 500mW. Some recent USA reports suggest much lower power would still have resulted in spots from the USA.
10m WSPR - unique spots to 1334z with 500mW
UPDATE 1404z: Who needs high power?  Just been spotted on 10m WSPR by CE4RWS (11974km) when I was using 500mW.

UPDATE 1623z: TI3/AB4AW (8752km) has recently been spotting my 500mW.

UPDATE 1743z:  My 500mW is now being spotted in Canada and in Nuuk in W.Greenland.  500mW seems quite enough on 10m WSPR most of the time.

UPDATE 1810z:  K1PLL (5367km) - nice call - has spotted my 500mW several times and, for now, looks like being the last to spot me today from the USA.

UPDATE 1938z:  The last spot by a USA station was indeed K1PLL at 1758z and my last spots of US stations were of K1PLL and KZ3X at 1804z. Since then, just G4IKZ (18km) spotting me now.

10m WSPR - 2W ERP

After recent total disappointments on 6m - total blanks after 5 days attempts - I have returned to 10m WSPR at 2W ERP from my Par antenna. So far, results both given and received, are encouraging.

Sunspots and 10m

Sunspot number today is 96 and 10m daytime propagation is forecast to be "fair".

I am already copying RA3APW's 100mW WSPR beacon from Moscow, HS0ZKM (9485km) is also coming through via F2 on 10m WSPR. There are lots of Europeans coming through on 10m WSPR.

7 Nov 2014

QSY down to 472kHz

At 2020z I QSYed back down to 472kHz WSPR and was immediately exchanging spots despite running just 5mW ERP from a very indifferent antenna and ground system.

472kHz is a most interesting band and I urge more people to give it a try, even if just on receive initially. Here, the FT817 is used directly on RX and certainly hears stations right across Europe.  I am able to hear from LA to I to EA and right across the continent between.

UPDATE 2045z:  M0PPP is putting in a massive -2dB S/N 472kHz WSPR signal currently. G8VDQ (93km) is a new station in the last 2 weeks copied here this evening.
472kHz spots so far this evening (to 2052z)

Trying 6m WSPR again today

Well, I must be a masochist! I am yet again trying 6m WSPR in the hope of some GDX, Europeans or even some TEP. As yet, nothing at all - dead.  I am using 30dBm ERP from my vertical V2000 VHF/UHF antenna.

UPDATE 1130z:  So far on 6m it has been totally dead with not the slightest hint of signals - no MS pings, no aircraft Doppler from possible GDX - absolutely nothing seen at a.ll.  It looks as if today will be as bad as the other recent days when I tried 6m WSPR. A pity, but I'll keep trying.

UPDATE 1404z:  Still absolutely nothing at all on 6m WSPR.  I'll keep going for this afternoon, but I really am getting nowhere on the band.  It suggests the Europeans on 10m are probably F layer backscatter otherwise I might have expected some Europeans on 6m Es too.There are no stations at all copyable on 6m.

UPDATE 1635z:  6m still absolutely DEAD here still.  Will continue to try until after tea time.

UPDATE 1715z:  I have (reluctantly) concluded, again, that out of season 6m WSPR is a total waste of time. Today is the 5th day in recent weeks I have tried and not a single station has been seen on the screen (even those not decoding ) or spotted me. I think it is time to call it a day on 6m WSPR. Tomorrow iI shal try on a different band.

UPDATE 1930z:   That's it then.  After 5 DAYS of trying on 6m WSPR I am now going QRT as I have been spotted by no-one and no-one has spotted me. It was a dead loss and total wasted effort. QSYing shortly to MF.

Kempton Park Rally

Kempton Park Racecourse, Staines Road East, Sunbury on Thames, TW16 5AQ. TI, free CP, OT 9.50/10am. TS, FM, B&B, SIG, C, DF, WIN, LEC. Paul, M0CJX, 08451 650 351, info@radiofairs.co.uk. www.radiofairs.co.uk.

Distance from Cambridge : 75 miles
Estimated Journey Time  : 1 hour 40 mins

A list of rallies can be found at http://rsgb.org/main/news/rallies/

Sunspots today

The sunspot number today is 107 and 10m daytime conditions are forecast to be "fair".  If recent days are typical, this means 10m should be good for some F2 propagation, including North America after lunch.

MLS are moving

From Steve G1KQH comes news of the up-coming move by Martin Lynch and Sons to new, and larger, premises in the New Year. I dealt with MLS earlier in the year and found them very helpful.
Martin Lynch & Sons to move premises early in the new year.
Join then at the Farewell to Chertsey party:

6 Nov 2014

Last spots of my 10m WSPR at 50mW in the USA

KU4QI (6406km) was the last to spot me today at 1648z. Since then, just local G4IKZ (18km) has been spotting me.

I think it is time to QSY to MF (472kHz) WSPR for the night.

UPDATE 2036z: have now QSYed to 472kHz WSPR.  DK7FC (669km) is, as always, putting in a very decent signal here. Just G0LRD (25km) spotting my 5mW ERP so far.

UPDATE 2200z:  8 unique stations seen so far on 472kHz WSPR this evening so far.  Several have been spotted many times.
Unique stations spotted on 472kHz WSPR so far this evening


Jay has been working on new versions of his little WSPR beacons. All being well I should receive a 10m 500mW out version in the next few weeks.

Jay is writing the manual(s) and has asked me for my feedback, which I shall, of course, provide. The new version is a single board (again) but transmits continuously, randomising the TX frequency on each TX burst to minimise interference to/from others. It needs several minutes to thermally stabilise but uses the uP to generate everything needed such as the WSPR tones, so no PC is needed. The transmission is started manually on the start of an even minute with a push button. The PA can be separately enabled.

This should be fun. I'll give more information when it arrives and I get a chance to try it on the air.

Plenty of stateside 10m WSPR spots at 50mW

I think the 10m band has now closed here for the day to the USA with 50mW on WSPR. In the end,  there were plenty of USA spots at this power level. As I said yesterday, 500mW will seem like high power! 28 spots (if I counted right) since 1150z and I was only on 20% or less TX.
Tomorrow, I may try a different band completely for a change.

Inspecting antennas - by radio controlled quadcopter!

Some years ago I went to a BBQ where someone had a wi-fi controlled quadcopter remotely controlled from an iPad. It was very impressive with its on-board cameras for navigation and filming what was happening down below.

I see AE5X has a video showing the inspection of his antennas (from above) using one of these. My antenna farm is trivial by comparison and can be pretty well examined at ground level.

See http://www.ae5x.com/blog/various/youtube-de-ae5x/ .

First 10m WSPR 50mW stateside reports today

At 1312z, W3CSW (5886km) and WG2Z (5600km) were the first USA stations to spot my 50mW WSPR signal today, at -26dB S/N and -21dB S/N respectively.  Others are now following. KB9AMG (6300km) has spotted me twice now. At the moment there seem to be fewer USA spots with my 50mW on 10m WSPR than yesterday? Early in the day I guess. Things may change.

UPDATE 1536z: W3CSW is now copying my 50mW 10m WSPR at -19dB S/N, implying he would probably copy me on 5mW or even less if his noise floor is low.


Sunspot number today is 113 and 10m daytime propagation is forecast to be "fair". Still VK5MR (16144km) audible despite the 10dB pad in my antenna lead is OK. He runs 5W. He has already copied G0LRD's 50mW 10m WSPR beacon.

10m WSPR 50mW

VK5MR (16144km) was still being copied on 10m WSPR this morning despite the 10dB pad in my antenna lead.

So far, the first USA station copied here was W3CSW (5886km) at 1220z.

Best DX spots of my 50mW on 10m WSPR this morning came from LZ1OI (2153km), CT1JTQ (1843km) and UR/SWL56 (2283km). Generally, running very low power results in fewer reports but not really fewer reporters. The active stations get you weaker and less often.

5 Nov 2014

10 USA reports running 50mW on 10m WSPR

I think 10m has closed for me to the USA for the day.   I'll leave 10m WSPR running a little longer just in case.  At 2010z, 10 reports had been received, all at 50mW and all from stations in the USA. This was an interesting experiment as I know my antenna is not the best. 500mW seems almost like high power now!

The FT817 was set at 500mW and a good quality rotary attenuator (set to 10dB insertion loss) added as close as possible to the rig, therefore producing 50mW into the antenna lead and antenna. Because the cable will have some loss at 28MHz (1dB?) the actual radiated power will have been a little under 50mW.

UPDATE 2100z:  The 10m band has definitely closed here to the USA. Only G4IKZ (local) spotting me now. at 50mW.
10m WSPR spots running 50mW today

USA (again) on 10m WSPR and daytime MF

The first stateside station copied on 10m WSPR today was WG2Z (5600km) at a decent -10dB S/N at 1202z.  I think this is a little earlier than yesterday?

UPDATE 1210z:  I was on 472kHz until I QSYed to 10m WSPR. G3ZJO is a very decent signal now on MF. For example at 0922z he was around -15dB S/N. He has been even stronger, which for 10mW ERP is excellent.

UPDATE 1250z:  The first USA spot of my 500mW today as by WG2Z at 1218z.  Not long after I was spotted by KC2GMM at -17dB S/N at 1228z.   USA stations spotting my 500mW WSPR regularly on 10m now.

UPDATE 1504z:  Tomorrow I may try 10m WSPR with a 10dB pad in the antenna lead so ERP will be about 50mW, but RX 10dB deaf too. No I'll try it NOW! Looks like 5mW (or less) would be enough with W3CSW.
10m WSPR spots, to 1620z, with 50mW
UPDATE 1754z:   8 USA reports, so far, of my 50mW and, even with a 10dB pad in the RX lead I still copied G0LRD (25km)'s 50mW and W7CNK's 5W (7458km).


Sunspot number today has declined to 98 with daytime 10m propagation forecast to be "fair".  So far here this morning, just Europeans copied and copying me.

4 Nov 2014

54 stations on 472Hz WSPR

This evening (just now) there were 54 stations active on 472kHz WSPR. Several are shown as being on RX (including me!) but this may be because we've not been spotted on TX in the last 10 minutes.
UPDATE 2252z: IW4DXW (1190km) has just been spotted here on 472kHz WSPR.

UPDATE 2306z: Will be on 472kHz WSPR overnight.

Kanga Kits UK

See http://www.kanga-products.co.uk/ .

Kanga is one of the classic names in QRP kits both in the UK and the USA. They make some fine products at quite reasonable prices. Shown below (linked from their website) is their OpenQRP transceiver.

472kHz WSPR

Since 1900z I have been back on 472kHz WSPR using 5mW ERP.  So far, spots given and received, have been from the usual G stations. Let us hope for some new spotters tonight!

The Radio Hobbyist VE3CNU

See https://www.youtube.com/user/ve3cnu.  It is always fun to take a peek into other people's radio shacks. This YouTube channel is hosted by Canadian VE3CNU. He has a nice shack and some nice gear.

I am amazed by how much money some people seem able to spend on the hobby.  This is, of course, a very individual decision and I am not criticizing anyone. Some pay a lot more to play golf, for example.

What I would say though is the hobby can be enjoyed on a shoestring if you build simple QRP radios and/or buy good second hand rigs. My own approach has been a mix of some homebrew and a few commercial rigs.

Others prefer to buy their rigs new (often with long guarantees) and experiment with antennas and peripherals. This is a very individual hobby that can be enjoyed in a number of ways.

Others just enjoy chatting on the air.

High performance speech processor

From Pedro CT5JZX:
Here is a Portuguese project from CT4RK Carlos Mourato

High performance speech processor


ARRL 10m contest - mid December

As I have missed the CQWW SSB contest for 2 years now, I hope that I can be on for the ARRL 10m contest, Dec 13-14th. This contest lasts the full weekend and is all mode. As 10m is my favourite band of all, this should be a good one. As far as I know, we are free that weekend. I rarely enter contests to win. Rather, I enter HF contests to work new DXCC countries, or states and Canadian Provinces. I am no real DX chaser! My entry (if I remember and assuming I am free) will be strictly QRP as I have no gear capable of more than 5W pep.

See http://www.arrl.org/10-meter .

Back on 10m WSPR since 1154z

Since returning from a small hospital operation, I have been running 500mW on 10m WSPR again. Best DX on TX is 4X1RF (3519km) at -20dB S/N at 1206z. On RX VK5MR (16144km) is the best DX so far.

I was in Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, this morning, to have my stomach feed tube (PEG) removed. As I was sedated it was totally painless. My worry beforehand was totally unnecessary.  I think I fell asleep as, apart for the initial things on the op trolley (being sedated by cannula into the back of my hand and insertion of my mouth guard) I was unaware of everything until I was recovering afterwards. Another stroke milestone for me. Still get giddy when walking, tired and speaking is hard work. Unthickened drinks are not easy. But I can eat most foods, all by mouth and, gradually, things are getting better.

UPDATE 1706z:   23 unique spots of my 500mW 10m WSPR signals, the majority being by stations in the USA with best DX  KD6RF (7522km). It will so be time to QSY to a different band.

3 Nov 2014

Back on 472kHz WSPR

I QSYed down to 472kHz WSPR just after 1830z this evening again using 5mW ERP to my strapped feeders antenna. These are the initial spots given and received (as at 1935z):
UPDATE 2048z:  EA3NE (1198km) now being copied, which is very early.

CQ WW SSB Contest last weekend - who forgot?

Darn it! Yet again I forgot this most excellent contest last weekend, although I would have been very restricted as we had our little grandchildren staying. They take priority. I must try next year. Last year I missed it as I was in Addenbrookes Hospital still very ill. The last time I caught it was 2012.

Although I do not much like contests, this one is always a good test and I often fill a few logbook pages with DX contacts. Exchanges are simple and quick. CQWW is usually a good way to increase the DXCC score. I always use real QRP power.

I dislike CW contests as they are too much like hard work. On SSB you can usually work stations, even with 2-5W QRP, especially later on when the big stations have already worked loads and are glad of extra points.

Stateside on 10m

The first stateside station was NU3E (5663km) at 1204z.  My 500mW was first spotted in the USA at 1232z by KZ8C (6290km) at -28dB S/N. This is a little later than yesterday, but at least it continues a long run of stateside openings on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 1315z:  Spotted VK on 10m 3 times this morning. Best DX  VK5ST (16214km).

UPDATE 1534z:   20 unique spots today (so far) of my 500mW 10m WSPR.  Most of these are by stateside stations. Conditions on 10m are again fine.
UPDATE 1820z:  N2NOM (5581km) was spotting my 500mW at 1806z.