31 Aug 2018

Cambridge - NOT amateur radio

We are quite lucky living just outside Cambridge. This is a famous university town with some fine old buildings. We went shopping in Cambridge earlier.

In recent years it has become a hi-tech centre. I think I am correct in saying it has the highest number of Nobel prize winners in the world.

10m WSPR (TX)

All day, my 10m WSPR TX beacon (500mW) has been on. As yet, not a single spot! Dire. It will stay on for a few more hours, but the main Es season has definitely passed now.

UPDATE 2000z:  No spots all day. Soon be time to go QRT.

Amateur Television

Amateur TV has never been of interest to me. Actually this is not true: I am interested, but there are too few hours in the day! There are only so many things one can do.

If, like me, you are a fireside fusilier (I am gunner do this and I am gunner do that - joke!) you may like to read CQ-DATV63, which can be downloaded free. I saw this on Southgate News.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/august/free-magazine-download.htm#.W4lJtPZFzIU

2m FT8

Yet again, I am on 2m FT8. So far, this is just RX, although I shall probably call CQ (2.5W) later. So far, in the last half day, 25 stations in 9 countries spotted on 2m FT8 RX with the big-wheel omni. Best DX is DD7DAC (518km) in JO31 square.
UPDATE 2015z: A brief CQ at around 1600z was spotted by G7RAU (461km) in IN79 on the Lizard in Cornwall. On 2m FT8 RX today 51 stations in 9 countries spotted. QRT soon.
UPDATE 2038z: Just before going QRT I called CQ (2.5W).  I also worked G4RRA (298km) in Devon by FT8 when I was using 2.5W to my big-wheel omni. With FT8 anything seems possible!   In all, 5 stations spotted my callsign including G7RAU again. This must be normal everyday tropo and not aircraft reflection. It seems that well over 400km is possible with 2.5W and my big-wheel omni at any time via FT8. Amazing. At one time I would be telling my XYL about these contacts, but they are now so commonplace that I don't bother.

Sunspots - Friday August 31st 2018

Solar flux is 68 today and the SSN remains zero. A=4 and K=1

Club 72 (QRP)

The latest edition of Vestnik, the Club 72 newsletter, is available for download.

See http://club72.su/

30 Aug 2018

2m FT8 RX

As 6m FT8 was distinctly poor today, I have QSYed to 2m FT8. Within about 40 minutes 12 stations in 5 countries spotted with best DX DF9QT (506km).
UPDATE 2030z: Now 19 stations spotted this evening on 2m FT8 RX with best DX DK1MG (544km).

UPDATE 2144z: Now 22 stations in 6 countries. Amazing.

IC7300 question about fan

Can anybody tell me if the IC7300 fan can be programmed OFF when running QRP? I had an IC706 and the fan annoyed me as it was far noisier than I expected. The IC703 (10W) had no fan.

Also, if not running full power, can you use a lower rated PSU? If I ever bought an IC7300, it is doubtful high power would ever be used. I think my linear PSU is rated at 20A.

My main website

My main website, which has pages and pages of projects is at www.g3xbm.co.uk . Now it appears that Google want this to move to the new Google Sites. They offer a preview. I tried this. Yet again, it seems a step backwards.

I have, for now, dismissed it. Certainly it would require a lot of edits before switching. Why, oh why, do corporations make things worse? If it ain't broke, don't fix it. 

Sorry Google, but why? Who gains?

Amateur paging

Years ago, I was involved in wide area paging development professionally. With the advent of small mobile phones, paging went out of fashion. I used to enjoy getting news updates and other services on my tiny pager. We made pagers for the UK market as well as for the USA and other countries. We manufactured the USA ones in California and Mexico.

According to Southgate News the first amateur POCSAG paging gateway has been authorised in Bognor Regis.  It will be interesting to see how popular amateur paging becomes. One issue will be pagers. I don't know how common these will be on the surplus market. No-one wants them, but is there a source?

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/august/mb7pbr-dapnet-pocsag-pager-gateway-licensed.htm#.W4evK_ZFzIU

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

Since before breakfast I have been on 10m WSPR TX. Not surprisingly, no spots received. If I get any spots today, this will be a bonus.

UPDATE 1652z:  Still no spots all day today.

6m FT8

For the last few hours I have been on 6m FT8. My CQ call (2.5W) was spotted by no-one and, so far, I have only spotted G0PQO (50km). It is still quite early, but it looks like people are now deserting 6m.

UPDATE 1050z: 4 stations in 3 countries spotted so far on 6m FT8 today. Best DX is LB6D (1030km). Disappointing.

UPDATE 1237z: Nothing further.

UPDATE  1810z: 9 stations in 4 countries spotted. Non of these, I think, were Es.

More grumpy old man - NOT amateur radio

A few weeks ago I had to ring up my car insurance firm to ask for a premium reduction. Reluctantly, they reduced the premium by just a little, despite being with them for years and never making a claim.

What infuriated me was the "could not care less" attitude by the person (English) in the UK call centre. Surely I am just the sort of customer they should want to keep? No, they make bigger profits by creeping up the premiums each year and assuming many just renew automatically. Personally, I find this totally immoral. Sadly, this seems to be the model all insurance companies work with. Needless to say I told them to get stuffed. This is business they lost and good riddance. No doubt as a new customer next year they will offer me a great deal to hook me in.

Recently, before a holiday, we tried to buy a couple of PO bonds. They promised to call us when everything was in place and money transferred from other PO accounts. Yesterday we checked on-line as we had not heard. The money was still in the original accounts! So, all money is being withdrawn and bonds set up with someone else. Their loss. Yet again, no-one seems to care, which is sad. In my working life this would have resulted in the sack. You don't treat customers like dirt, never ever. Golden rule: the customer is always right. What is needed is accountability and responsibility.  Sadly this seems lacking almost everywhere. People are just numbers and those who deal with them (if not just a computer) headless morons.

What happened to the personal touch?

Sunspots - Thursday August 30th 2018

Solar flux is 69 today and the sunspot number has returned to zero. A=6 and K=2.

29 Aug 2018

QRT time

After another great day on 2m FT8 RX it is time to go QRT.  At the end of the day 43 stations in 8 countries spotted.

A late (brief) CQ call was spotted by GI6ATZ (479km). Not bad for 2.5W and a big-wheel omni antenna. In all, 5 spots received.

Swifts gone? - NOT amateur radio

Not seen swifts (birds) now for a while. Most have probably flown south. The odd straggler may still be around. Swallows can be around for a while yet here in the UK. Swifts leave quite early.

See https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/swift/

Too easy?

Today, I am on 2m FT8 RX. It is amazing what comes through. I am pretty sure what I am spotting on my big-wheel omni antenna is there every day. I suspect most stations come in via aircraft reflection although some are via tropo.

Getting worse? - NOT amateur radio

Perhaps it is me becoming more of a grumpy old man, but in many ways things seem to be going backwards. In our village our only bank has closed. About a year ago our local building society branch in the village closed. Years ago you could ring your local bank manager. Now you are just an anonymous number in an Indian call centre! I tried to contact a train company but was connected to an Indian call centre who really did not have a clue. In fact they were totally useless. Many shops have closed.

Some things are better, but I think that god "profit" is gradually making life harder for us all.

Somehow we have lost that personal touch. I am sure this is a worldwide issue and not just here in the UK. Slowly but surely, life is getting harder, when it should be getting easier.

5MHz newsletter

Southgate News has details on how to get the latest 5MHz Newsletter as a free PDF file.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/august/the-5-mhz-newsletter.htm#.W4aMw_ZFzIU

Sunspots - Wednesday August 29th 2018

Solar flux is 70 today and the sunspot number 11. A=10 and K=2.

2m FT8 (mainly RX)

Overnight I remained on 2m FT8. Already this morning GM4FVM (428km) has been copied, presumably by aircraft reflection. I think I'll stick with 2m FT8 today with the occasional CQ.

UPDATE 0945z: Best DX on 2m FT8 RX today so far is MI6XZZ (495km).

UPDATE 1200z: 14 stations in 5 countries spotted so far on 2m FT8 today.

UPDATE 1810z: Best DX spotted on 2m FT8 RX is now F1DRN (1003km) with a huge signal. Now 36 different stations spotted in 8 countries today on 2m FT8 RX (GI, GM,GW, G, F, PA, ON, DK).

28 Aug 2018

2m FT8

2m FT8 seems almost like 20m with DX from all over the place. The map shows just the last 30 minutes!
A recent 2m FT8 QSO with M0BEW (194km) was spotted by 10 stations with best DX being G4KUX (302km). And remember this is just 2.5W to a big-wheel omni antenna.

UPDATE 2003z: So far, 10 countries spotted in well under an hour!

President Trump and Google - NOT amateur radio

It must be great to be ruled by a true genius showing sincerity, modesty, integrity and statesmanship.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-45331210

St Paul Island DXpedition 2019

Now, I have to confess I don't have a clue where this is! It was mentioned in a post on the Southgate News page today. Judging by the callsign I guess off mainland Canada, but I shall have to consult my atlas! Apparently it is off Nova Scotia.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/august/st-paul-island-dxpedition.htm#.W4VVYfZFzIU

QSX rig and the G1KQH blog

There is more data and a video link on Steve G1KQH's blog about the QSX HF rig from Hans Summers.

See http://g1kqh.blogspot.com/

Dreams and giddiness - NOT amateur radio

Twice recently I dreamed that my giddiness had gone. For about 5 years since my stroke, I have felt giddy. Outwardly I look well with a healthy tan. Most people think I am fully recovered. How wrong they are! Inside I am always giddy on my feet, frequently exhausted, and living in a sort of confused fog. I feel a shadow of how I was. My voice is poor and some drinks are very hard.

Sadly, after these dreams I awake and realise these were just dreams and nothing has changed.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/stroke

Sunspots - Tuesday August 28th 2018

Solar flux is 68 today and the SSN 12. A=26 and K=3.

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

Although I have been on 10m WSPR TX since well before breakfast, not a single spot so far. I know this is early. Tomorrow I might try 10m FT8. Yesterday was excellent.

UPDATE 0946z: Still no spots on 10m WSPR TX.

UPDATE 1249z: Just a couple of spots by IU1DZZ (973km) today so far.

What a difference - 6m FT8 today

As if to confirm that the days when 6m is open daily by Es are over, today has started off very quietly. Yesterday was excellent but, so far today, just a couple of G spots on 6m FT8. An earlier CQ call (2.5W) was seen by just G0OQK (99km).

UPDATE 1328z: So far today 20 different stations in 10 countries on 6m FT8 with best DX EA8BFK (2883km).

UPDATE 1512z: Now 25 stations in 10 countries so far.

27 Aug 2018

East Cambridgeshire 2m FM Net

Surprisingly, considering it was a Bank Holiday, there was a good turn-out this evening for the East Cambridgeshire FM net on 144.575MHz. After the net closed G3TFX/A joined us. The net meets Mondays at 1900z.

Later still, I had a G QSO on 50MHz FT8.

Grandsons - NOT amateur radio

Our two grandsons playing outside our house this weekend.

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

Already I have received 20 unique spots on 10m WSPR TX. One report was an excellent +4dB S/N. Unless I am mistaken, this is the best day this year so far, proving that Es is far from over!

As far as I came tell Es varies (see comment below) from day to day. As we move further from the peak months (May, June, July in northern hemisphere) it will get more infrequent.

6m FT8

Today is already excellent with lots of 6m FT8 Es spots. At this stage it seems at least as good as any day earlier in the season. Earlier I had a very solid FT8 QSO with G1IDZ (182km) when running 2.5W to the V2000 vertical omni antenna.

Sunspots - Monday August 27th 2018

Solar flux is 69 today and the sunspot number 26. A=76 and K=2.

26 Aug 2018

Ely - NOT amateur radio

Today it rained. The weather is so different from a few weeks ago when it was very hot.

This afternoon we went to Ely to Oliver Cromwell's house and to the Almonry Tea Rooms which has been serving refreshments since the 1200s! Thankfully the scones were not that old.

This is my wife and 2 of our grandchildren looking bright on a dull day. In the background is Ely Cathedral.

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

Although I have been on 10m WSPR TX since mid-morning, not a single spot all day. I get the feeling the main Es season has ended. Although we can expect some Es still, it is likely to be less common now until next spring.

UPDATE 1915z: Still no spots today.

6m FT8 RX

At long last I am back on 6m FT8 RX. So far just UK spots and no real DX.

UPDATE 1645z: Just UK spots today including some North Sea /MM spots from "wet" squares.

UPDATE 1807z: DX at last! TF3ML (1785km) in Iceland.

Sunspots - Sunday August 26th 2018

Solar flux 70 and the SSN 31. A=11 and K=7.

25 Aug 2018

NOT on 6m and 10m

As we have grandchildren staying I have not been on 6m and 10m.  I may get a chance later.

UPDATE 1852z: No chance!

WWWB shutdown?

Amateur Radio Weekly reports that President Trump has announced the possible shutdown of WWWB next year. Perhaps he doesn't realise that about 50 million devices in the USA use this to synchronise time.

Another decision by a genius?

See https://swling.com/blog/2018/08/synchronizing-atomic-clocks-final-tock-time-may-no-longer-be-synchronous/?utm_source=amateur-radio-weekly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter

Picking blackberries - NOT amateur radio

We have all four grandchildren with us at the moment. Next door's blackberries didn't stand a chance!

More UK Rallies


Ernulf Academy, Barford Rd, St Neots, PE19 2SH. Talk-in with GX0HSR on 145.550MHz, free parking, admission £3, doors open 9am (traders 7am), hot meals and drinks on site, ice cream van, RSGB Bookstall, Bring and Buy, fine weather booked! M0OLG, 01480 214 282, events@hunts-hams.co.uk.


The Racecourse, Newton Road, Newton Abbot, Devon TQ12 3AF. Indoor event, free parking, disabled facilities, accessible by public transport. Bring-and-buy sale, catering, RSGB Book Stall, special interest groups, trade stands, prize draw/raffle. Contact Mike, G1TUU, 01803 557 941, rally@tars.org.uk.


Irish Centre, Manor Field, Bletchley, Milton Keynes MK2 2HZ. Doors open at 9.30am, admission £3. Hot & cold food available. Contact Francis Hennigan, 2E0FMK, rally@mkars.org.uk. www.mkars.org.uk/rally.

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

Sunspots - Saturday August 25th 2018

Solar flux is 71 and the sunspot number 26. A=5 and K=1.

24 Aug 2018

Eating out - NOT amateur radio

Last night , the last night with our friend on the Wirral, we treated our good old friend to a meal out. Here he is tucking into his main course. He still found space for a dessert.

Back home

As we are home again, tomorrow I hope to be back on 10m and 6m. My usual pattern is 10m WSPR TX (500mW) and 6m FT8 (mainly RX). I occasionally call CQ on 6m FT8 but usually just for a few minutes.

Salcombe from the air - NOT amateur radio

When I was a child, I grew up in Salcombe, South Devon. These days it is an exclusive, and expensive, yachting centre for the well heeled. Most houses there are too expensive for most local people to afford.

In 1959 we moved 4 miles north to Kingsbridge. Although still a market town, this is also of morphing into a yuppy place.

Sunspots - Friday August 24th 2018

Solar flux is 69 today and the SSN 15. A=5 and K=3.

23 Aug 2018

Milton Keynes Rally

I have received some advanced warning of this rally on August 26th. This was not my usual source of data.

See https://www.mkars.org.uk/mkars/rally

Erddig House - NOT amateur radio

Our host for the week drove us to Erddig House near Wrexham. This is a fine National Trust place free to visit if you are members. As is often the case, I find stairs hard work these days, especially in old places.

Escalators are hard work these days too. Although manageable, they always need extra care.

Network radios away from home

When away from home is a classic case when network radios are useful, especially with a low cost data SIM. Not only does it allow access to things like Echolink, but also access to emails and the internet.


OFCOM today has published its grant scheme for programme makers and special events equipment owners  (PMSE) operating at 700MHz. This spectrum is to be freed up sooner than originally planned.

See https://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations-and-statements/category-1/support-pmse-equipment-owners

American puzzle - NOT amateur radio

It is not an exaggeration to say that every American I have met has been kind, generous and caring. Really. Yet America, as a nation, come across as brash, arrogant and possibly stupid. Why?

Please don't misunderstand me. I have great deal of time for Americans. As said before, every single American I have met or dealt with has been kind and generous. Also, I have found American drivers perhaps the most polite in the whole world. Watching TV movies with car chases I could hardly believe how good the driving was in the USA. First class!

Sunspots - Thursday August 19th 2018

Solar flux is 67 today and the SSN 11.  A=13 and K=3.

22 Aug 2018

Terracotta Warriors - NOT amateur radio

There is a major exhibition on in Liverpool at the moment of the Chinese Terracotta Warriors. These were immense statues created over 2000 years ago. We went to a similar exhibition in London in 2007. It was very good.

Sunspots - Wednesday August 22nd 2018

Solar flux is 68 today and the SSN 15. A=7 and K=3.

21 Aug 2018

More VLF experiments

Stefan DK7FC is planning more VLF tests at 17.47kHz:

"Hi VLF,

For this week, i'm planning to start with new experiments on 17.47 kHz,
where i have a (renewed) special permission to transmit.

So far the best results were a prooved carrier detection as well as a 1
character EbNaut decode by Edgar from Tasmania (VK7).

The first goal will be to determine the best time (start time and
length) on the path for this season. We have a usable path for about 2
months centered on our autun/spring time (21st SEP).

The Signal will be exported by SpecLab to simple txt files containing
the FFT data. This allows stacking, which will be required to get some
S/N at all. A reasonable stable path is essential during the
transmission time. All this will be determined by running some carrier
transmissions, a few hours per day, starting about 16 UTC.

When knowing the time to try we will attempt to transfer a 2 character
message and then even longer messages. 5 characters would be realistic i
think, with some luck and good propagation and low QRN on the RX site...

More soon.

73, Stefan"

New Monster Antenna

Southgate News has a piece today about a new dual-band monster antenna from Innovantennas for 4m and 2m. I think if I tried to erect this I would incur the wrath of the neighbours. Perhaps you live on a remote hillside and the nearest neighbour lives 2 miles away!

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/august/new-2m-4m-dual-band-yagis-from-innovantennas.htm#.W3w-ZfZFzIU

Llangollen Aqueduct - NOT amateur radio

This is an amazing piece of architecture designed by Thomas Telford centuries ago to take a canal high across a valley. Although there is a narrow path on one side the other side has a sheer drop! We were taken here today by our wedding "best man". That was 47 years ago! He lives on the Wirral near Liverpool. I was too giddy to walk across.

Catch 22 - NOT amateur radio

This book is always rated highly but I have yet to speak with anyone who has enjoyed it. I managed to get through it, but found it boring as hell. My wife has tried several times, but always given up! We gave away our copy (keep it PLEASE) and were only too glad to get rid of it. Maybe it means more if you are American and it was read years ago?

If you read it, I'd like to know how you got on.

I still find it hard to see why it is so highly rated.

Sunspots - Tuesday August 21st 2018

Solar flux is 68 today and the SSN 15. A= 14 and K=2.

20 Aug 2018

Last month's 2m activity contest

Despite a logging error, I see my position in the AL section is unchanged. My error was stupid and cost me points, not that I take any contests seriously.  My main aim is fun, to work a few stations and exercise my voice.

Sunspots - Monday August 20th 2018

Solar flux is 66 today and the SSN 15. A=8 and K=2.

19 Aug 2018

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

As usual, I am on 10m WSPR TX with my beacon. As yet, no spots.

UPDATE  1110z: Several Es spots. Best DX is CS7AOL (1457km).

Yet more on 60m band

The 60m WRC 15kHz allocation is being widely allocated now, with Finland (OH) joining the growing list. Sadly, the Finns are losing some other slots at 60m.

6m FT8

For about 5 minutes I have been on 6m FT8 both RX and TX (2.5W). So far, just G1IDZ (182km) spotted.

UPDATE 1120z: Lots of Es spots. I am convinced FT8 is extending the Es "season". Best DX spot is of IT9QPF (1867km)

Margaret, are you greaving.... - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday there was a young blackbird in the garden when I was cutting the grass. At first I thought it was with its parents being fed. Hours later it was still there. This morning it was dead.

Now, I know this is the rhythm of life. I know it was probably very sick and bound to die. Nonetheless it saddened me. I hid the body in the bushes so my wife would not see it. She will think it just few off.  Perhaps it is just a reminder than what happened to this little bird happens to us all. Perhaps that is why I am saddened.

Margaret, are you greaving over Goldengrove unleaving?

See https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44400/spring-and-fall

Sunspots - Sunday August 19th 2018

Solar flux is 67 today and the SSN 11. A=13 and K=3.

A statesman gone - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday the world lost one of its great statesmen: Kofi Annan who for several years was head of the UN. There are sadly very few great statesmen and women in this world.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-45235800 .

18 Aug 2018


At 2030z I went QRT on all bands. The last Es here was at 1950z on 10m WSPR. In all quite a decent Es day. I shall probably be on 6m FT8 mainly RX tomorrow.

Grass mowing - NOT amateur radio

In the UK we have had a hot, dry summer. For just the second time since May, I have cut our grass.  Although parts are still brown, it is slowly recovering as we have had some rain.

Perhaps President Trump can be persuaded that global warming is a reality and not a Chinese plot.

FT8 and Es

This summer I have not used JT65 at all. Instead, I have been mostly on 6m FT8 RX with just the occasional TX period. Once in a while I tried 2m and 10m FT8. I have also been on 10m WSPR TX, although WSPR seems much less active than FT8.

FT8 is supposed to be not quite as good as JT65 on weak signals. However, the take-up of FT8 is phenomenal.

I am wondering if one of the reasons we are still seeing Es on 6m so much this late in the season is that users are in just one place and even very short openings get detected? Most FT8 is between 50.313 and 50.315MHz.  In the past, a CQ on SSB or CW might well have been missed. Also, FT8 works with signals that are more marginal than SSB or CW.

Let us hope a few remain on 6m so we can see if 6m Es is much commoner than we previously thought. In an average "out of season" day it would not surprise me to see brief openings. Remember, you only need 15 seconds to be spotted with FT8, probably even less.
6m FT8 RX spots today

ARRL numbers falling

There is a gradual downward trend in ARRL membership. This does not surprise me. However, it is worrying.

Around the world, generally, the amateur radio population is getting progressively older and it is getting harder to attract and keep younger people. We come over as an old man's hobby. I know this is not so, but we have to "connect".

As the demographic gets generally older, membership of national societies and radio clubs is likely to suffer. When I was fitter, I gave quite a few talks at radio clubs in East Anglia, UK.  By and large, the audiences were male and older men with very few women and young people. Unless we attract and keep younger people our hobby will die.

Monkey Dust - NOT amateur radio

In all my life I have never taken drugs. Even smoking cigarettes at school made me sick and after a few I stopped.

At university many were taking LSD. In later years you find people taking cocaine and marijuana.

Now there is a new menace called "magic dust". It looks like a real problem for police.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45186581 .

New FRS rules in the USA

This applies in the USA and NOT in Europe!

The ARRL reports on some rule changes by the FCC which come into effect next year.

See http://www.arrl.org/news/view/new-fcc-part-95-personal-radio-services-rules-published-in-the-federal-register?utm_source=amateur-radio-weekly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

More in hope than expectation, I am again on 10m WSPR TX with my little beacon. As yet, no spots of me.

UPDATE 1220z: Several Es spots received from Italy and Denmark.

UPDATE 1422z: 6 unique stations have spotted my 10m WSPR today.

UPDATE 1600z: 10 unique spots today so far with 96 spots. Still seems to be plenty of Es.

Patio flowers - NOT amateur radio

For weeks, our lawns have been brown and parched, but they are at last recovering after some rain.  They may get a trim later, although it looks like more rain!

Surprisingly, the flowers in pots on our patio have done quite well as the photo shows.

6m FT8 and PSKreporter maps issues?

Since before breakfast I have been on 6m FT8 (RX and briefly TX) but nothing appears on PSKreporter. At first I suspected my internet connection but everything else seems fine. I even disconnected and reconnected yet still nothing. I stopped and restarted WSJT-X. I have spotted EA7 and I so I know 6m FT8 is good. Anyone else having issues?

UPDATE 1203z:  Up to now I was using WSJT-X V1.9 rc3. I have upgraded to the latest fully released version (v1.9.1) and all seems to be well. See comment from John below that my spots were appearing as 2m spots when I had selected 6m (50.313MHz FT8). Moral seems to be close the software and re-open if you change bands! Now getting Es spots from all over.

UPDATE 1424z: Everything is working now. My brief CQ calls (2.5W to the V2000 vertical omni) were copied widely in southern Europe and I worked several Balkan stations. A call to S01WS was not received, sadly.

Sunspots - Saturday August 18th 2018

Solar flux is 67 today and the sunspot number 11. A=13 and K=3.

17 Aug 2018



Princethorpe College, Princethorpe, Rugby CV23 9PY. Doors open from 10am to 4pm (8.30am for sellers). Admission is £3. There is a car boot sale and catering is available on site. Steve, G8LYB, 0795 685 5816, rally@rugbyats.co.uk www.rugbyats.co.uk.

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

Old friends - NOT amateur radio

Since university days back in the 1960s, we have known this couple. They live about 40 miles away and we usually meet up a few times each year. We went to their house for lunch today. When we meet it seems like just yesterday when we last met. In his working life he was a project manager responsible for putting a probe on a comet. He is very modest and talking to him you'd never guess. My wife is on the left.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosetta_(spacecraft)

Visitor Map - NOT amateur radio

Usually I can see where visitors to my blog are from. This was very useful to see where hackers were located. This is a map visible only to me. For several days now, this has not been working. It looks like a Google issue, which I hope is soon resolved.

Lately, several things seem to be getting worse. Several of our famous high street shops have closed as we buy more and more online. Our only bank in the village has closed (similar reason). Picasa no longer allows me to send photos, etc. It almost seems we are going backwards!

No storms?

Looking at the lightning maps, it looks like we are in for a quiet day. The nearest storms are miles away. It is not too hot, but likely to remain dry.

See https://www.lightningmaps.org/blitzortung/europe/index.php?bo_page=map&bo_showmap=6
See https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/forecast/u121rkr90#?date=2018-08-17

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

Although active since breakfast, no spots as yet. It is still early.

UPDATE 0905z: Still no spots.

UPDATE 1944z: EA8BFK (2880km) in the Canary Islands spotted me 4 times this afternoon. Otherwise no spots at all. Soon be QRT time.

Sunspots - Friday August 17th 2018

Solar flux is 68 today and the SSN remains 12 (low but not zero!). A=11 and K=2.

6m FT8 RX

Although on since breakfast, not much doing. Just EA1SI (1071km) in northern Spain spotted so far on 6m FT8. This could be Es or could be aircraft reflection.

UPDATE 0912z: Es I think. Now 5 stations spotted in 4 countries with best DX EA7HG (1644km) in southern Spain.

UPDATE 1935z: It definitely feels like the end of the Es season. 8 different in  5 countries spotted today on 6m FT8 RX today with best DX S01WS (3043km). Soon be QRT time.

16 Aug 2018

QRT on all bands

The big switch has been pulled and I am now QRT on all bands until tomorrow.

Not sure what bands to try tomorrow. Maybe 6m FT8 RX and 10m WSPR TX.

There is still Es about, but not as much as a few months ago. The main problem now will be fewer stations on as they think the Es season has ended. With FT8, even short openings will be uncovered. Es might still be productive outside of the traditional Es season.

Surprises - NOT amateur radio

In many ways this has been a hard year with several people no longer with us or now living with terrible conditions.

At the same time, we have had the joy of some total surprises! There is little doubt that receiving a total surprise is a great joy. In past years, I have received things through the post. To this day, I have absolutely no idea who sent them. Grateful? You bet. It brings joy to the heart that there are some really kind people around. These are the unsung heroes who take pleasure in seeing other people happy. Thank you. Really, thank you.

If you want to bring joy into someone's life, send them a surprise!

New projects

Someone recently asked me if I had any plans for new projects. Well, at the moment, I have not given this too much thought.

I fancy trying 136 and 472kHz RX with a decent antenna in the form of an E-field probe in the garden in a quiet spot. Up to now I have only tried these bands with compromise antennas and it would be good to find out what I can copy with an EFP in a quiet spot in the garden. Maybe I shall not transmit on MF/LF this autumn and winter?

I also fancy a better try on 4m. This means erecting an antenna for the band as presently I have none. At this QTH I have never been on 4m. 4m FT8 and WSPR could be good.

It is years since I tried 23cm reception.

In the end it will probably be none of these!

Disappearing swifts (birds) - NOT amateur radio

About this time of year, swifts start to fly south. For a few months they are part of the British summer. They sleep and feed on the wing. The screaming swifts are a common summer sound.

Then you realise they are not here. I am sure we'll see more still, but they are moving south. By early September most will have gone. They winter south of the Sahara in Africa.

Funny how I treasure the day when the first swift of the year is seen. To me, it is a sign that life goes on. This year we seem to have had fewer swallows and house martins. Luckily here swift numbers have held up. Several people have erected swift nest boxes.

See https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/swift/


Since just before breakfast, I have been on 10m WSPR TX (500mW) with my stand alone WSPR beacon. Just one spot all morning in the form of IU1DZZ (973km). There is still Es, but it is now less common.

In the last hour OY1OF (1164km) in the Faroe Is last been spotting me.

UPDATE 1640z: No spots received since 1228z. What Es there was seems short-lived? In the past I had a theory that later in the season more northerly stations become more commonplace by Es. Not sure if this is true.

UPDATE 1947z: Soon be time to go QRT. In all, 4 different stations spotted my 10m WSPR today.

Dahlias - NOT amateur radio

Every year they have a great show of dahlias at nearby Anglesey Abbey. This is just one of them this year.

Big VHF beams?

Well, I can just imagine the reaction of my neighbours if I erected this monster in my garden! Southgate News reports on a new dual band 10el beam for 50/70MHz. If towers and big beams are your "thing", then I guess you may be interested.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/august/worlds-longest-50mhz-70mhz-dual-bander.htm#.W3U92fZFzIU

Of course, these monster stations are frequently at the far end of some QRP QSOs, so I have to watch what I say! All I can say is these are not of interest to me. Personally I prefer smaller antennas as do my neighbours.

My other websites - NOT amateur radio

On my main website are links to some of the other websites I maintain. One of these is the Cambridgeshire Choral Group in which my wife sings. They are always on the lookout for new singers, especially male. No auditions are needed and they sing in some great venues in the Cambridge, UK area with a professional orchestra and soloists.

See www.g3xbm.co.uk .

Sunspots - Thursday August 16th 2018

Solar flux is again 69 and the SSN 12. A=14 and K=4.

2m FT8 again

Yet again I am on 2m FT8. An earlier CQ call (2.5W) this morning was spotted by G7RAU (461km) in Cornwall. He seems to spot me every time!

Already this morning I have spotted a couple of stations in Brittany. Yesterday was typical with DX previously unheard of on my simple system within reach.

The map shows what I spotted in the last day on 2m FT8. Antenna is just the big-wheel omni.

UPDATE 1647z: A quieter day so far with 10 stations in 3 countries spotted here on 2m FT8 RX. Best DX is F6DBI (501km).

UPDATE 1956z: Yet again, 2m FT8 RX has surprised me today. Time now to go QRT. The map below shows the stations spotted here in the last day. Remember I just use a  big-wheel omni, no big beams!

15 Aug 2018

Chaos - NOT amateur radio

Our son is a good cook, but he does leave a disaster area in his wake! The photo shows him in our kitchen last week. 15 minutes cooking and 30 minutes clearing up after him.

Hamsphere - float your boat?

Every once in a while I get Hamsphere newsletters.

Hamsphere is a "virtual" form of amateur radio. The ionosphere is simulated - it is not real. Some of these simulations are very good and they may be of interest to you. I have to admit that they do not "float my boat" much. Especially when HF is poor, I can understand the attraction, but to me this not real.

Network radios to me are a better alternative, as these allow contacts via distant repeaters that are real. Best of all is real amateur radio, actually advancing radio science by pushing the boundaries. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to do this.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/virtual/hamsphere

New HF SSB/CW rig coming from QRP-labs?

There are rumours on the streets about a new, single band, SSB/CW QRP transceiver from Hans Summers. Time will tell.

See https://www.qrp-labs.com/

Late start on 10m WSPR TX (500mW)

At 1028z I started up my 10m WSPR TX beacon. This is much later than usual. Normally it takes about 15-20 minutes for the crystal to stabilise, assuming there are any Es spots. So, the earliest I can reasonably expect to get any spots is 1045z. Any spots before then (unlikely) are likely to show quite a bit of drift.

UPDATE 1625z: Plenty of Es this afternoon on 10m WSPR. 6 unique stations spotting me this afternoon, either in Italy or Germany.

UPDATE 1727z: 47 spots today on 10m WSPR. The latest Es spot was over an hour ago.

2m FT8

For a change today I am on 2m FT8. An early 2-way QSO was hadt  with PA9CC (394km) in JO32 square. This was with 2.5W to the big-wheel horizontal omni. My call was copied by G7RAU (461km) in Cornwall. 2m FT8 continues to amaze me: unheard of DX is within reach even with my low ERP.

UPDATE 1030z:  5 stations in 4 countries spotted so far on 2m FT8 RX. Best DX on RX so far is DM1CG (459km).

UPDATE 1230z: I gave a brief CQ again just before lunch (2.5W to the big-wheel omni) and was again spotted by G7RAU in south Cornwall on the Lizard peninsula. So far today, 8 stations in 5 countries spotted on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1630z: So far today, I have spotted 17 different stations spotted in 6 countries. The impression is that some are by aircraft reflection and some are by tropo.

UPDATE 2145z: Time to go QRT on 2m FT8. Today 29 stations in 6 countries spotted and a QSO with a PA early this morning with just 2.5W and a big-wheel omni. And these are flat conditions on 2m. FT8 really is amazing.

Sunspots - Wednesday 15th August 2018

Sunspots at last!

Solar flux is 69 today and the sunspot number 12. Yes 12, not zero!! A=4 and K=1

14 Aug 2018

70cm actvity contest

As usual, I entered the RSGB's 70cm activity contest this evening using 5W and my 2m halo. Only 2 QSOs were made! If I want to make a serious entry, I need more power and a "real" 70cm antenna.

"Successful" HAARP WSPR test?

Well, not in my book.

Southgate News carries news of this test using WSPR around the end of July and start of August. The report mentions the hundreds of WSPR reports from all over the USA and Canada. Using 1GW ERP this is distinctly average.

OK, apparently D-layer absorption was high on 80m, but I would have expected reports from elsewhere too.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/august/successful-haarp-wspr-research-campaign.htm#.W3LXXPZFzIU

6m FT8 RX

Although I guess these could be aircraft reflections, they are probably mostly Es, certainly the more distant spots.

I have been on 6m FT8 RX since before breakfast and spotted 15 stations in 8 countries so far. Again, a promising start to the day at 0952z. Best DX on 6m FT8 RX is DM5BB (903km).

As yet, I have not tried 6m FT8 TX today.

UPDATE 1317z: Es from all over Europe. Best DX on 6m FT8 RX is IT9BCC (1889km).

UPDATE 1900z: Now going QRT, but  still plenty of Es on 6m FT8 RX today as the map shows.

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

Before breakfast, I turned in the 10m WSPR beacon. Very early on I was spotted by DK6UG (633km), but nothing since.

As I said yesterday, I think there are far more people on 10m FT8 than 10m WSPR. I use 10m WSPR as this is "stand alone" and does not tie up a PC or rig. If I want to go on 10m FT8 I need the FT817ND and PC.

Sunspots - Tuesday August 14th 2018

Firstly, an apology for a "senior moment" yesterday. I had the wrong date until this was pointed out to me by an old work colleague, Andrew. As soon as it was pointed out, it was corrected. I just wonder how many have crept through in the past unnoticed. Anyway, I hope the date today is right!

Solar flux is 66 (very low) today and the sunspot number 0. Not exactly startling!  A=5 and K=2.

13 Aug 2018

Back on 10m WSPR TX and 6m FT8 RX

After calling on the 2m East Cambs FM net (144.575MHz, 1900z, Mondays) and getting no takers, I returned to 10m WSPR TX (500mW) and 6m FT8 RX. Still plenty of Es about on both bands. My brief 6m FT8 CQ was widely copied in southern Europe despite running 2.5W to an omni vertical.

UPDATE 2026z: QRT on all bands.

Temporary QRT

We had storms quite close (2 miles), so I went QRT on all bands.

As the storms seem to have moved on, everything is now reconnected (6m FT8 RX and 10m WSPR TX). On 6m I am getting Es from Italy although it usually takes 20 minutes for things to settle on my 10m WSPR beacon.

We need the rain, so I am not complaining.

Car insurance fiasco - NOT amateur radio

Well, I  have been with my current car insurer for ages. Most years I have to ring up to tell them it is too much and get a better quote. This morning I did this again and they dropped a very little. So I told them to let their policy lapse and I'd look around. I have got the same cover for very much less, even allowing for introductory offers.

Now, wouldn't you think they would want to keep a loyal customer who has never made a claim? No, they have lost me now, probably for ever. Crass stupidity!! Their loss - not being able to see this.

In my view, the insurance industry is mad. Surely, they should give loyal, good customers a good deal to prevent them going elsewhere. Instead I get an idiot in a call-centre who couldn't care a jot. As I said, their loss, not mine. They deserve to lose all my business in future years, and they probably will now.

Storm threat?

The Met Office has put out a yellow warning of thunderstorms in East Anglia after 11am today. Looking at the storm maps, it looks like the risk is decreasing. Nonetheless, I shall keep looking (and listening!) ready to disconnect gear if the risk is too high.

See https://www.lightningmaps.org/#m=oss;t=2;s=200;o=0;b=0.00;ts=0;d=2;dl=2;dc=0;

See https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/warnings#?date=2018-08-13&lat=52.27453&lon=0.32891

2m FT8

When the Es season is finally over (today there are still Es spots on 10m and 6m), I shall probably return to 2m FT8, which seems to be the mode of the moment. Unheard of DX (for me) seems to be spotted here almost every day, even with my simple omni antenna! Many of these signals come in via aircraft reflections. The 15 second periods help. FT8 works with signals much weaker than SSB or CW.

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

Norwegien amateur radio rules

There are rule changes in Norway according to Southgate News. It looks like they can use 1000W on their primary allocations.

See https://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&hl=en&ie=UTF8&rurl=translate.google.co.uk&sl=no&sp=nmt4&tl=en&u=https://lovdata.no/dokument/SF/forskrift/2009-11-05-1340&xid=17259,15700023,15700124,15700149,15700168,15700186,15700190,15700201&usg=ALkJrhhYzEJKBi_urMj2QBqeNoGzZxIShA

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

Yet again my only spot today so far has come from EA8BFK (2880km) in the Canary Islands. As yet, no signs of Es spots from Europe.

UPDATE 2000z: Just 4 spots in 3 countries all day. I get the impression there is far more 10m FT8 activity than 10m WSPR.

Sunspots - Monday August 13th 2018

Solar flux is 67 today and the SSN still firmly zero. A=5 and K=2.

6m FT8

Well, no Es on 6m here today yet. So far, just 1 GW and 1MM spotted. sadly my own 2.5w CQ call was not copied by anyone.

UPDATE 0837z: I spoke too soon! EA1SI (1071km) spotted.

UPDATE 1645z: Plenty of Es on 6m FT8 RX today.

UPDATE 2017z: The Es on 6m FT8 RX today made it appear like 20m! Now QRT.

12 Aug 2018


The big plug has been pulled and everything disconnected until the morning. Yet again I am "blown away " by what can be spotted on 2m by FT8.

Local museum and windmill - NOT amateur radio

About once a month, my wife and I volunteer across the road at our local museum. We live directly opposite.

It is open Easter-October on Thursdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays 11am-5pm. It really is splendid. It is open at other times for special visits  e.g. school trips and visiting groups.

We normally help in the tearoom or kiosk. In the kiosk a wide variety of gifts such as these books are stocked.

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

A few moments ago, I switched on my 10m WSPR beacon. Even on a good day, it usually takes 20 minutes  before spots appear.

UPDATE  1247z: IZ3LCH (1149km) has spotted me 18 times so far over lunch.

UPDATE 1332z: Another Italian is also spotting me in N.Italy.

2m FT8 ....and a puzzle

When I switched to 2m FT8 last night I had a horrendous noise band in the middle of the passband. It was also there on 6m. I feared this was something external (maybe a new TV in the neighbourhood), so some investigation was needed.

Although it was still there in the morning I was still receiving signals. To cut a long story short, it totally went when I turned off NAR on my FT817ND. It was not there anywhere on 2m USB (which of course uses the wide setting). It is now set with NAR turned off, as it was originally. Not quite sure how this got turned on, but WSJT-X clearly did not like it!

Best DX spotted on 2m FT8 RX is S57LM (1239km) at a cracking +5dB S/N. Not bad with my big-wheel horizontal omni antenna. Signal reports suggest a mixture of tropo and aircraft reflections.

UPDATE 0939z: 8 stations in 5 countries spotted since last night. on 2m FT8 RX.  Even my brief CQ call on 2m FT8 got a spot from 194km, despite just 2.5W to the horizontal omni antenna.

UPDATE 1305z: 17 stations in 7 countries, so far, on 2m FT8 RX today.