30 Sep 2018

472kHz WSPR

I have now QSYed to 472kHz (630m) WSPR transceive with 10mW from the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.

My 10m WSPR beacon is (for now) still TXing.

PSK Reporter

Personally I find PSK reporter maps very useful. Calling CQ on 2m FT8 QRP I often get no QSOs, but a look at the map shows that actually I was reaching many stations in several countries.

See https://www.pskreporter.info/pskmap.html

5G spectrum

Our high microwave allocations are under threat as possible spectrum is allocated for 5G. According to Southgate News the FCC is to auction 24GHz and 47GHz spectrum. The RSGB has made complaints already about UK 5G allocations.

If 5G is to use 47GHz, they will need masts on every street!! At least microwave parts should be cheap.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/september/fcc-24-and-47-ghz-5g-spectrum-auction.htm#.W7CJdfZFzIU

10m WSPR

As the antenna is free I am on 10m WSPR TX (500mW) again, but no spots so far.

UPDATE 1050z: Just a spot by DK6UG (633km) so far today on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 1357z: Two spots received today. In addition to DK6UG, IZ3LCH (1149km) has spotted me.

Sunspots - Sunday September 30th 2018

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN 13 (yes spots!!). A=10 and K=3

Early morning mist - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday morning we were up early to travel from Ely to Canterbury by train to see our son and family. There was a mist over the fields and frost on our car window! The photo shows the view from the railway station shortly before our train left. Ely Cathedral looked amazing rising over the mist.

One of our grandaughters - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday we went to Kent to see our son and family. They live east of Canterbury in a cottage dating from the 1700s.

Our granddaughter likes dancing and has a fine voice when she sings. The photo shows her in her front garden.

2m FT8

As I was away most of yesterday l stayed on 2m FT8 overnight. Currently 37 different stations spotted in the last 12 hours with a couple of stations  in northernmost Spain.

UPDATE 1044z: Well, I was copied with my 2.5W to an omni in NW Spain on 2m! So far today, 44 stations in 6 countries spotted on 2m FT8 RX. EA1UR (1192km) is my best DX on RX and TX.  After replying to my CQ he was lost in QSB.
Note the station in NW Spain who copied my QRP 2m signal
UPDATE 1425z: Now 57 stations in 7 countries spotted on 2m FT8 RX today so far.

UPDATE 1452z: A recent 2m FT8 CQ (2.5W to the omni) resulted in no QSOs, but I was spotted (again) by G7RAU (461km) and GI6ATZ (479km), as well as others. On FT8 it seems the impossible is possible.

29 Sep 2018

2m FT8

We have just got back from seeing our son's family in Kent and I decided to try 2m FT8.

Best DX spot for my 2.5W CQ to my big-wheel was M0MST (162km). On 2m FT8 RX the best DX so far is DJ6AG (689km). So far, 6 stations in 3 countries spotted.

UPDATE 2016z:  Now 28 stations in 8 countries with best DX on 2m FT8 RX EA1UR (1195km) in north west Spain.

Sunspots - Saturday September 29th 2018

Solar flux is 66 (very low) and the sunspot number zero. A=8 and K=2.

28 Sep 2018

QRT on all bands

At about 2015z I pulled the big switch and went QRT on all bands. I should be back on later tomorrow. 2m FT8 was great and there was even some activity on 10m FT8.

National Hamfest (Newark)

Friday and Saturday is the National Hamfest in Newark. This is the biggest rally in the UK.  The main dealers will be there with some bargains. Among them is MLS. If you are after a deal, now is probably a good time.

See https://www.hamradio.co.uk/

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

Although active for several hours, no spots as yet.

UPDATE 1624z: Six spots this morning by EA8BFK (2880km). I guess this is F2.

2m FT8

A CQ call (2.5W to the omni) just before breakfast was spotted by 5 stations in 2 countries. Yet again G7RAU (461km) in IN79 square copied me. This never seems to fail. Currently I am RX only.

UPDATE 1158z: At present 16 stations in 4 countries spotted so far on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1600z: 22 stations in 5 countries now on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1830z: 29 stations in 7 countries today on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1915z: 32 stations in 7 countries today with best DX DJ6AG (689km).

Last swallow (bird)? - NOT amateur radio

Swallows migrate to us for the summer to breed and fly off deep into southern Africa for the winter. I guess food is easier to find but it is a very long way.

At breakfast I saw one solitary swallow and that may be the last here now until next April. There were 40000 seen at Slapton, Devon a few days ago presumably as they gathered to feed prior to migrating south.

Safe trip and hopefully see you next spring.

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

Sunspots - Friday September 28th 2018

Solar flux is 67 today and the SSN still zero. A=7 and K=3.

27 Sep 2018

US Supreme Court Judge - NOT amateur radio

In the USA, Brett Kavanaugh is being grilled by the senate. Now, I am no fan of President Trump or his style of leadership and I do not think sexual predators should be in high office.

However, people change and we all did stupid things in our teenage years. What matters is how we are as adults. Things that happened way back should not count against us today. My view, others may disagree.

If people were groped years and years ago, should this count against people today? I know it is sometimes hard for those assaulted to come forward sooner, but is such cases a long time is indeed a long time.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-us-canada-45673888/brett-kavanaugh-i-am-innocent-of-this-charge

472kHz WSPR

After a great day on 2m FT8, I have QSYed to 630m (472kHz) WSPR with 10mW ERP using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. Comparing what I spot with G4KPX, I know I am several dBs down in sensitivity. However, my set-up is small and invisible! Only spotted by a couple of Gs so far this evening.
Stations received so far this evening

Expanding - NOT amateur radio

We moved to our village in 1975 when there were about 4000 people. Nowadays there are over 6000, many of whom work in Cambridge. Our local village museum has some very old maps showing how the village has developed, particularly in the last 200 years.

Geostationary amateur satellite

If the Es'Hail 2 satellite works as planned, it could be revolutionary. It has a 250kHz wide linear transponder for narrowband modes as well as an ATV transponder. Uplink is 2.4GHz and downlink 10GHz. Once aimed, dishes are fixed. A possible issue will be stations using too much power resulting in desense.

See https://amsat-uk.org/satellites/geosynchronous/eshail-2/

2m FT8

An early CQ (2.5W to the omni) resulted in another QSO with G8ALS and a QSO with an M/EA1 on 2m FT8. As usual, I was spotted again by G7RAU (461km) in Cornwall. This never seems to fail.

This morning 23 stations spotted on 2m FT8 RX in 4 countries. Best DX, so far, is DL5EBS (479km).

UPDATE  1130z: Now 48 stations spotted on 2m FT8 RX, so far today, in 7 countries. Incredible.

UPDATE 1517z:  Now 53 different stations in 8 countries spotted on 2m FT8 RX today.

Little egret - NOT amateur radio

Until the late 1980s, the little egret was rare in the UK. Now they are everywhere. Yesterday we went to Lakenheath Fen and saw this one on one of the lakes. We also saw a hobby as well as many other birds, but no cranes that breed here.

Sunspots - Thursday September 27th 2018

Solar flux is 68 today and the sunspot number 0. A=8 and K=2.

26 Sep 2018

472kHz WSPR

After a dismal day on 10m FT8 (no spots), I decided to QSY to MF WSPR. For about 5 minutes I have been on 630m (472kHz) WSPR with 10mW ERP from the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. Only spot so far is from M0XDK (80km).



Newark & Nottinghamshire Showground, Lincoln Road, Winthorpe, Newark, Nottinghamshire NG24 2NY. Brought to you by the RSGB in association with the Lincoln Short Wave Club. The venue has free car parking and has disabled facilities. There will be trade stands, a Bring & Buy, car boot area, flea market, special interest groups and RSGB bookstall. There will also be representatives from the RSGB Services and committees. Morse proficiency test will be available. The venue has catering outlets and a seating area. www.nationalhamfest.org.uk.

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

Electric cars - NOT amateur radio

At the moment, people are pushing electric cars (Tesla, Nissan, etc). To me, who would be keen to buy one, they are expensive, limited range and a technology that is not quite there yet.

My main gripe is range. Other than local journeys a charge (or more than one) is required. Published range figures probably assume summer, no lights on, no air con, fresh batteries etc. i.e. not realistic conditions. As the batteries age, capacity is likely to decrease. I could do without the stress of finding a charging point that is available.

When batteries get cheaper and the range is much better on a single charge they will take off. Until then, they will remain a niche product.

I suspect they are like digital cameras and flat screen TVs: at some point they will be the ubiquitous mode of transport. We are not there yet.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_car

FCC gets tough

Not sure if this is all part of President Trump getting tough on China, but Southgate News reports that the FCC in the USA is getting tougher on cheap Chinese transceivers entering the USA. I also heard this from Steve G1KQH.

At this stage I am not sure what effect this will have on rigs like the uBITX,  Baofengs,  Pixies and the like.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/september/fcc-enforcement-advisory-on-two-way-vhf-uhf-radios.htm#.W6tCqfZFzIU

10m FT8

For a change, I decided to try 10m FT8.

Earlier I called CQ, but got no spots. So far today after a couple of  hours no spots at all on RX or TX. Dire.

UPDATE 0910z: No spots still.

Sunspots - Wednesday September 26tht 2018

Solar flux is 68 today and the SSN still zero. A=11 and K=1

25 Sep 2018

472kHz WSPR

At 1950z I went QRT on 2m and 10m and switched to 630m (472kHz) WSPR. As previously, I am using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground with 10mW ERP.

On RX first spot was F6GEX (590km) in IN97 square. I'll probably stay on overnight.

Swedish changes to amateur licences

According to Southgate News some new regulations come into force for amateurs in Sweden on November 1st. Apparently the free licence will drop the maximum power from 1000W to 200W, although higher power permits are possible, presumably for money!

As a confirmed QRPer who sees 200W as an awful lot of power, this seems fine to me. If you cannot work the world with 200W you should give up amateur radio and play golf or go fishing instead.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/september/swedish-amateur-radio-regulation-changes.htm#.W6pMUPZFzIU

Beluga whale in River Thames - NOT amateur radio

Photo by Greg Hume from Wikipedia
According to the BBC, there has been a beluga whale spotted feeding off Gravesend.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-45642590 .
See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beluga_whale .

The photo is from Wikipedia and is by Greg Hume.

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

About 30 minutes ago, I turned on my 10m WSPR beacon. No spots of me yet.

Everything needed is here. No PC needed and it is about the size of a pack of cards yet has been spotted in every continent including Australasia and Antarctica on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 1458z: Still no 10m WSPR spots today.

UPDATE 1938z: No spots all day!

How do they do it?

Today, in the post, I received this package from China containing all these capacitive "pens" for tablets. 

The price? £1.10 total including airmail delivery!! This price is unbelievable and they make a profit!

UPDATE 1326z: I have tried these on a couple of tablets and they work well. I have yet to try these with my Inrico network radio. This has a small touch screen, so they should prove very useful.

Solar Cycle 25

Let me start by saying I have not seen any very recent predictions.

The last I saw suggested the next minimum would be next year (2019) and cycle 25 would be similar to cycle 24. If you are aware of later, credible forecasts, please let us know.

Predicting how the sun will behave in the future is getting better, but the truth is no-one really knows. At best, these are educated guesses. For example, see the link below, which is full of journalistic hyperbolae and even managed to mix up the minimum between the last 2 cycles! Written by a student?

See https://www.universetoday.com/139833/are-we-witnessing-the-start-of-solar-cycle-25/

UK Pound versus Euro - NOT amateur radio

We live in uncertain times in the UK. I guess the markets are waiting to see how BREXIT pans out.

If we end with a reasonable "divorce" I guess the UK Pound could appreciate in value. If we leave on bad terms, the Pound could fall.

At the moment the EU and UK are both playing hard, although expect last minute bargaining: it is in nobody's interest to part badly.

If only the EU had detected the signs that little UK is full up and did not want freedom of movement I expect we would still be in the club.

2m FT8

So far 7 unique stations in 2 countries spotted so far on 2m FT8 RX.

Yet again my 2.5W QRP to my big-wheel omni CQ was widely spotted including by G7RAU (461km) on the Lizard in Cornwall. Just a QSO with G8ALS again.

UPDATE 1045z: Now 16 different stations in 4 countries on 2m FT8 RX with best DX DF7IW (612km). Omni antenna still.

UPDATE 1245z: 19 different stations in 4 countries today so far on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1509z: Now 28 different stations in 4 countries spotted here today so far on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1920z: EA1UR (1195km) in  the north of Spain is currently the best DX on 2m FT8 RX. Pretty sure he is genuine as he is getting strong reports from relatively near Spanish stations. He is being widely received. Not sure if this is tropo, aircraft reflection, or a combination of both. Anyway, I am pretty sure this is among the best DX on 2m ever, excluding Es.
Today's stations spotted on 2m FT8 RX

472kHz WSPR last night

Using my 10mW ERP from the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground I was spotted by 8 different stations with the furthermost being PA0EHG (296km).

Sunspots - Tuesday September 25th 2018

Solar flux is 67 today and the sunspot number remains 0. A=7 and K=3.

24 Sep 2018

472kHz WSPR

As a test, I am trying 472kHz WSPR using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground with WSJT-X V2.0 rc1 and 10mW ERP. On TX it seems to work with a spot from G8LCO (58km), although I have yet to spot anyone on RX.

UPDATE 2100z: F1AFJ (607km) now spotted on RX. G4ZFQ (203km) also spotting me on TX.

UPDATE 2124z: Several spots now.

WSJT-X V2.0 rc1

This is new software which I downloaded this evening. A brief CQ on 2m FT8 (2.5W to my omni antenna) resulted in no QSOs but was spotted in Devon and Cornwall, yet again, amongst other places. It seems to work, although nothing seen, as yet, on RX.

So far, no issues here with Windows 10.

UPDATE 2010z: First station spotted on RX with the new software - M0CDL (168km) NW Birmingham.

OFCOM - new board (bored?) members

Gosh! I get so excited reading this!

OFCOM has 2 new board members. Such thrilling news that I just had to share.

As far as I can tell, neither knows anything about radio technology. If I am wrong I'll happily eat humble pie. As I have said many times before, these days OFCOM seems only interested in money. Look at the attributes and career history of these two ladies.

See https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/latest/media/media-releases/2018/two-board-members-appointed

Bring back real enforcement and stop messing around!

Country house window - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows a window at nearby Anglesey Abbey, near Cambridge, UK.

It is a very English scene, complete with creepers, roses and leaded windows. We are lucky to have this National Trust property and extensive grounds just a few miles away.

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

As the antenna is available, I am again on 10m WSPR TX (500mW,) although no-one has spotted me yet. I have been on for about 2 hours. This time last year I was widely spotted around Europe.

UPDATE 1652z: No spots of my 500mW WSPR beacon yet today.

Sunspots - Monday September 24th 2018

Solar flux is 67 and the SSN zero. A=12 and K=2.

2m FT8

A CQ call a few minutes ago was spotted by 5 stations in 2 countries again including 2 Cornish stations when I was again running just 2.5W to the omni. It seems that with FT8 anything is possible at any time with flat conditions. BTW I had a QSO with G8ALS again.

UPDATE 0900z:  Best DX on RX is F4TTR (477km).

UPDATE 1142z: 10 stations in 2 countries spotted so far on 2m FT8 RX today.

UPDATE 1653z: Now 16 stations in 3 countries spotted today on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 2135z: When I went QRT about an hour ago I was up to 19 stations in 4 countries spotted today.

23 Sep 2018

OFCOM rubbish?

As many will know I am highly unimpressed with OFCOM who come over as a bunch of impotent wimps.  A bunch of infants could probably do better. This impression was based on personal, direct contact some years ago.

This weekend this impression was re-enforced by their apparent lack of interest in CB operators using far higher power than allowed. A "freedom of information" request about this was reported on Southgate News. If this is correct, and I have little doubt it probably is, it further re-enforces my view that OFCOM is only interested in money. Anything that does not generate money is unimportant.  At least that is my impression.

As for illegal SMPSUs on the market, forget it.

Bring back the GPO and real enforcement!!

Jackdaws (birds) - NOT amateur radio

At the moment there are 5 jackdaws on the roof next door. Usually we see one or two together.

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

"Sapiens: a Brief History of Mankind" - NOT amateur radio

I have just finished this book and have started its sequel "Homo Deus". "Sapiens" is a thought provoking book. It looks at the evolution of homo sapiens as a species. It argues that all religions are illusions and looks why our species has dominated all others. It certainly provides food for thought. The second book is, I believe, a look into the future.

I bought my copy of "Sapiens" from a second hand bookshop at a National Trust property. At well over 400 pages, this non-fiction book was good value.

Not quite sure why I had not come across this before.

Burwell Museum Talk - NOT amateur radio

Our local Burwell museum has a talk this Thursday. Honor Ridout on “I can’t stoop either” : Victorian fashions and Punch Talks are from 14.00-15.00 followed by tea and biscuits. Free with museum admission. No admission charge for season ticket holders and current museum volunteers. Drop in. Booking recommended for a large group. Museum admission applies.  

Another lizard - NOT amateur radio

This was another lizard seen last week in Corfu. As soon as it saw me it scarpered - must be camera shy!

New version of WSJT-X available (V2.0 rc1)

There is a new beta version of WSJT-X available. This is WSJT-X V2.0 rc1. I have yet to download it.  Apparently the decode sensitivity on FT8 is slightly better by about 1dB.

It may be worth waiting as I have been told there are some issues with this beta release (PCs freezing). When I tried to install it aborted saying it was missing a .dll .

See https://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/wsjtx.html .

10m WSPR (500mW)

Although I have been on 10m WSPR TX since breakfast, no spots as yet today.

UPDATE 1537z: Still no spots today.

UPDATE  1728z: Several spots from a couple of Germans. Best DX DK7FT (898km).

2m FT8

Once again, I am on 2m FT8 with 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna. After a brief CQ I worked G8ALS (127km) but was spotted yet again by 2 stations in Cornwall and one in France.

Best DX on RX is DJ6GK (607km). So far 12 stations in 5 countries spotted today.

UPDATE 1503z: So far, 24 stations in 5 countries spotted on 2m FT8 RX today.
2m FT8 RX today so far
UPDATE 1730z: 32 stations in 5 countries spotted on 2m FT8 RX so far today.

UPDATE 1902z:  33 stations in 6 countries spotted today on 2m FT8 RX today. Soon be time to go QRT.

UPDATE 1918z: Just before going QRT I called CQ at 2.5W. No QSOs, but yet again I was spotted by 2 Cornish stations. Every time I call CQ, this range seems possible. Amazing. This must be "normal" flat band tropo and not aircraft.

Sunspots - Sunday September 23rd 2018

Solar flux is 67 and the SSN zero still. A=8 and K=4.

22 Sep 2018

Japanese rovers on an asteroid - NOT amateur radio

Apparently the Japanese have successfully landed probes on an asteroid. One of our friends was Project Manager for a similar European project.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-45598156

MLS Deals

Every weekend MLS has a "something for the weekend" deal. Each week it is something different. The cynical amongst us will say it is just a way of offloading surplus stock, but if you are in the market for the goods on offer it is worth checking out.

See www.hamradio.co.uk/

Paxos - NOT amateur radio

Earlier in the week we went by boat to Paxos, an island not far from Corfu.

Sunspots - Saturday September 22nd 2018

Solar flux is 67 and the sunspot number zero. A=8 and K=3.

Back home - NOT amateur radio

We had a great holiday in Corfu but are back home again now. In Corfu it was hot with temperatures in the low 30s deg C every day. The weather could not have been better. When we got back it was cold!

The photo shows our plane on the ground in Norwich just after we landed.

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

As I am back home, I am TXing on 10m WSPR. Although on all morning, no spots so far. The main Es season is over so I am dependent on F2, TEP and random Es spots now.

UPDATE 1502z: Surprise, surprise! A couple of spots received on 10m WSPR - one from Germany and one from Italy. Best spot was from IZ3LCH (1149km).

UPDATE 2107z: Now QRT on 10m WSPR. 3 unique stations spotted my 500mW beacon today.

2m FT8

As I am home again I am on 2m FT8. No stations spotted yet, but a CQ at 2.5W to my big-wheel omni was copied by a couple of stations in Cornwall. Best DX was G7RAU (461km).

UPDATE 1057z:  So far today 13 stations spotted in 4 countries with best DX DK2DTF (644km).

UPDATE 1227z:  Now 17 stations in 6 countries.

UPDATE 1448z:  Plenty spotted!

UPDATE 2046z: G7RAU (461km) worked on 2m FT8 with 2.5W QRP and a big-wheel omni.
Stations spotted on 2m FT8 today

21 Sep 2018

Pre-meal drink - NOT amateur radio

Last night we had a Greek meal at our hotel in Corfu. This is me enjoying a pre-meal drink.

Back to the post at home later today!

Sunspots - Friday September 21st 2018

Solar flux is 66 (lowest this cycle?) and the SSN 0. A=2 and K=0.

20 Sep 2018

Greek Fruit - NOT amateur radio

Fruit for sale on a street in Corfu, Greece.

Our Corfu hotel - NOT amateur radio

This is our hotel in Corfu. Great setting and views!

Sunspots - Thursday September 20th 2018

Solar flux is 67 and the SSN 0. A=5 and K=0.

19 Sep 2018

Our Corfu hotel - NOT amateur radio

Our hotel here is wonderful and an ideal place to "chill", although most days it has been in the low 30 deg C. The Wi-Fi here seems OK, but the onward connection to the internet is bad. It is slow, flaky and, well, Greek. It is the worst I have ever experienced! Getting home may be wet and windy, but the internet should be heaps better. I was going to add a photo, but even a 25k file refused to upload, so I gave up!

Sunspots - Wednesday September 19th 2018

Solar flux is 67 and the sunspot number 0. A=6 and K=1.

18 Sep 2018

Sunspots - Tuesday September 18th 2018

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

17 Sep 2018

Odd fruit? - NOT amateur radio

On a walk yesterday we saw this odd fruit (?) under a tree. It was about the size of a tennis ball and looked like green brain. I shall try to find out what it is.

Found it!  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maclura_pomifera

Sunspots - Monday September 17th 2018

Solar flux is 67 today and the SSN zero. A=6 and K=2.

16 Sep 2018

BBQ - NOT amateur radio

Last night's barbeque at our Corfu hotel. We were accompanied by my wife's brother and his wife.

Corfu - NOT amateur radio

This is the view from our Corfu hotel room. Hot! Yesterday it was about 31 deg C.

Sunspots - Sunday September 16th 2018

Solar flux is 68 and the sunspot number 0. A=8 and K=2.

15 Sep 2018


OFCOM has published some technical advice on improving mobile phone coverage.

See https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?tab=wm#inbox/FMfcgxvzKbPxvbjhMSlrqKqxhcTBZHxC

Sunspots - Saturday September 15th 2018

Solar flux is 68 and the sunspot number 0. A=16 and K=3.

14 Sep 2018



There are 58 tables with many of the well-known traders in attendance. It is open from 10am until 3pm and tickets are £3 with accompanied under 16s free. Details from mjones129@btinternet.com.

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

Visitor - NOT amateur radio

This was sitting on our kitchen windowsill at breakfast time. It was alive.

Sunspots - Friday September 14th 2018

Solar flux is 68 today and the SSN 11. A=8 and K=3.

13 Sep 2018

Local talk - NOT amateur radio

Our local village museum has talks for an hour followed by free tea and biscuits. Today's talk was by a person in charge of the Cambridge University Zoology Museum in Cambridge. It was mainly about finds locally which included bears, wolves and beavers, all long gone from these parts.

The talk was very well attended.

See http://www.burwellmuseum.org.uk/

BATC convention this weekend


Midlands Air Museum. https://forum.batc.org.uk/viewforum.php?f=115.

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

472kHz WSPR last night

Fewer stations reporting my 10mW ERP and fewer stations spotted here than the night before on 472kHz WSPR. I'll try again tonight.

Sunspots - Thursday Sept 13th 2018

Solar flux is 68 and the sunspot number 11. A=8 and K=3.

10m FT8 again

Well, you could say I am a glutton for punishment!

Yet again I am on 10m FT8. An earlier CQ at 2.5W was spotted by no-one and so far just a couple of Gs spotted with the best DX on 10m FT8 RX being G0OYU (177km).

10m FT8 RX today
UPDATE 1506z: 11 stations in 5 countries spotted today so far on 10m FT8 RX. All EU. Best DX on RX was IZ0WRS (1532km).

UPDATE 2152z: QRT time. Best DX today on 10m FT8 RX was LU1DX (11410km).

12 Sep 2018

Personal touch? - NOT amateur radio

Call me a "grumpy old git", but in the last few weeks I have had total, disinterested contacts with the following:
  • My bank
  • My car insurer
  • A train company
  • Someone selling bonds
  • The Post Office
  • My utilities company.
     and others.

It would appear that I am just a meaningless number and I do not really matter. The overall impression is that no-one really cares.  If I am lucky, I might get a computer generated letter.  All that matters is that god "profit".

What happened to the days when people mattered?

10m FT8

My earlier CQ call was unspotted. So far today (1022z) 4 stations on 10m FT8 RX spotted in 3 countries so far with best DX EA7GOJ (1768km).

UPDATE 1958z: In the end 6 stations in 3 countries spotted. Time to QSY to MF WSPR.

Sunspots - Wednesday September 12th 2018

Solar flux is 69 today and the SSN 14. A=35 and K=2.

Overnight on 472kHz WSPR

Quite a decent night with 10 stations spotting my 10mW ERP from the earth electrode "antenna" in the ground. My best spot was by PA3ABK (306km) in JO21 square. On RX I copied 8 different stations including LA8AV (1035km).

11 Sep 2018

472kHz this evening

A couple of stations were spotted on 472kHz FT8. Although both were called, neither spotted me. I guess my ERP is just too low. On 472kHz WSPR best DX on TX is G4ZFQ (203km). On RX the best is LA8AV (1035km). Still using the earth electrode "antenna" in the ground with 10mW ERP.
472kHz this evening - some RX and some TX

70cm activity contest

Every month the RSGB organises a 70cm activity contest (UKAC) on the second Tuesday each month. I can only run 5W and 2m halo antenna. This evening I was much later getting on than usual. G4CLA (105km) was the best DX worked.

10m FT8

An earlier CQ (2.5W) got no spots. So far, on 10m FT8 RX just one station spotted - G0FWX (160km).

UPDATE 0958z: G4AYU (256km) spotted.

UPDATE 1548z: 5 stations in 2 countries so far today on 10m FT8 RX. All UK. Best DX is MM0HVU (480km).

472kHz WSPR last night

In the end 6 stations spotted me and I spotted 4 stations with my best spot on 472kHz RX being PA0A (417km). As usual, I have about 10mW ERP with the earth electrode "antenna" in the ground.

This evening I might try 472kHz FT8 for some QSOs, assuming there is some FT8 activity.

Some time ago I had international QSOs with JT9 on this band using the earth electrode "antenna" at the old QTH with a similar ERP.

Back on 10m FT8

About 30 minutes ago I  returned to 10m FT8. A brief CQ was spotted by no-one.

Cattle egrets - NOT amateur radio

It looks very likely these will be the next bird to extend range and establish themselves as breeding birds in the UK. Already they seem to be spreading in South Devon with a flock of 51 seen a few weeks ago. It would not surprise me to see these everywhere in a few years.

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

10 Sep 2018

E-field probe

My mini-whip E-field probe has arrived from PA0RDT. It will be some time before this RX antenna can be erected as I depend on help these days. It is tiny.

472kHz WSPR TX tonight?

If I can work out how to get split mode on my FT817ND, I may try 472kHz WSPR TX (and RX) for the first time this autumn later this evening and overnight. I shall have to read the manual!

The TX packed up on my very old FT817 earlier in the year (it was 17 years old!) and I assume this is why I was not seeing any 472kHz TX power on MF late in the last spring.

My 472kHz transverter is shown at https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/mflf/472khz_tvtr. This was published in the book "LF Today" and in QST a few years ago.

UPDATE 1719z: Well, I managed to get the FT817ND working in split mode! 4 reports in first transmission using the earth electrode "antenna" in the ground. Best DX so far is a spot by G0NNF (154km). ERP is about 10mW.

Estuary - NOT amateur radio

This is the Kingsbridge Estuary, which goes from Salcombe up to Kingsbridge. This is in the South Hams of Devon. It is where I was born and brought up.

Autumn - NOT amateur radio

This is a view up School Lane, Burwell, showing the autumn berries. The building up the lane on the left is made of clunch, a kind of chalk. It has cracked badly in our recent hot, dry weather.

Southgate Amateur Radio News

The Southgate News page I link to has not been updated for several days.

Maybe the guy who normally does this is away and I have missed an announcement to this effect on another way of entry.

Southgate News is often quite a good source of data. The last update was Friday.

Sunspots - Monday September 12th 2018

Solar flux is 68 today and the sunspot number 12. A=7 and K=1.

10m FT8

Since before breakfast I have been on 10m FT8. Nothing spotted yet but my own CQ (2.5W) was spotted in Spain.

UPDATE 0925z: Only 1 G spotted so far: G7BXU (127km). I am sure people don't realise 10m is still often "open" and just leave the band. If a short QRP CQ can be copied on 10m in Spain, that must tell you something.

UPDATE 0945z: Now 2 Gs spotted. G4AYU (256km) spotted.

UPDATE 1306z: Best DX on 10m FT8 RX is MW0CRI (341km). 4 stations in 2 UK countries so far today on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1506z: Now 5 UK stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX. No "real" DX.

9 Sep 2018

More posh houses - NOT amateur radio

It seems that every space in our village is being used to build posh houses.

Several years ago one of our pubs closed and this year they are converting it into a posh house. They are also building in what was the pub car park. Social housing for people doing needed jobs? No, posh houses to maximise builder's and land owner profits.

With nearby Cambridge Science Park in commutable range, I expect it will sell quickly.


Many years ago (1970) I did my final year project at university on whistlers. These are VLF natural emissions. I very nearly did a PhD on whistlers.

My final year university project involved trips to north Wales to record whistlers. These were later analysed in the university labs on kit we designed and made.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vlf/whistlers

Sunspots - Sunday September 9th 2018

Solar flux is 67 today and the sunspot number 16. Yes, some sunspots! A=5 and K=1.

Again on 10m FT8

Since breakfast, I have been in 10m FT8. My earlier brief CQ (2.5W) was not spotted. So far today, 3 stations in 3 countries spotted on 10m FT8 RX with the best DX being F1RAD (867km).

UPDATE 1236z: Now 6 stations in 6 countries spotted today on 10m FT8 RX with best DX 9A2HX (1281km).

UPDATE 2002z: 10 stations in 7 countries spotted today on 10m FT8 RX. All Europeans. Time to go QRT.

8 Sep 2018

E-field probe RX antenna

Years ago, I would have built my own, but these days my fine motor skills are not as good as they once were. So I have bought a PA0RDT miniwhip RX antenna. It should arrive next week.

Suitably mounted in the garden, if should be quite an effective LF and MF RX antenna. This "season" I want to concentrate on 137 and 472kHz RX. I might also try top-band.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/efp

Local shops - NOT amateur radio

We are lucky in that most things you need every day are still available in our village.

We have several supermarkets, a post office, bakers and butchers, hairdressers, paper shop, chemist, dentist and doctor. Otherwise (if you are old!) it is a free bus ride to Cambridge or Newmarket.

Gradually the smaller shops are going and they are struggling these days. I still prefer our local soft rolls, sausages and bacon.

PTT Androids

It seems the big retailers are pushing network radios hard.

MLS Image
MLS are selling a couple of new Android PTT radios as the next best thing since sliced bread. Maybe they look at the amateur radio demographics and think many of us "oldies" will end up in care homes and will need network radios to keep in touch? They can see an end to their traditional businesses unless they adapt? As I have said many times before, in 20 years time, our hobby is likely to be very different.

Network radios have certain advantages. As well as access to many repeaters by apps such as Echolink, they also support other services link Zello and the usual apps like Skype and emails. Agreed, this is not amateur radio as we knew it, but it serves a purpose. Personally, I still prefer experimentation at the frontiers, but I also see some benefits from network radios.

See https://www.hamradio.co.uk/digital-modes-boxchip/acom/boxchip-4g-lte-android-radio-s700b-pd-8986.php?utm_source=ML%26S+Customers&utm_campaign=9e890be7cf-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_09_07_03_51&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d6e2d1bfe3-9e890be7cf-149932677

Human Consciousness - NOT amateur radio

Perhaps the biggest mystery of all is what happens when we die. Do we just cease to be and our consciousness dies with our bodies?

This has been the central question of all religions for millennia. I certainly do not have the answers. On a logical level we are only conscious because of our brains and synapses. As far as I know, no-one has explained why we are conscious beings.

And yet, there is so much we do not know. One thing is certain. This is the ultimate question.

10m FT8

Since before breakfast I have been on 10m FT8. A brief CQ (2.5W) was spotted by no-one. So far, just M0LHS (212km) spotted here so far (0820z).

UPDATE 1038z:  Several Europeans spotted. Currently 14 stations in 8 countries spotted with best DX spotted here being RX3DHR (2532km).

UPDATE 1621z: Someone tell people 10m is not dead! And remember this is with lots of people deserting the band! So far today 24 stations in 11 countries spotted on 10m FT8 RX.
10m FT8 RX so far today
UPDATE 2002z: In the end, 25 stations in 11 countries, all European, on 10m FT8 RX today. Now time to go QRT.

Sunspots - Saturday September 8th 2018

Solar flux is 67 and the SSN 0. A=5 and K=1.

7 Sep 2018

10m FT8

Since just before breakfast I have been on 10m FT8. A CQ call earlier (2.5W) was spotted by M0NPT (125km) in Nottingham. Best DX on RX is 9A7JCY (1424km) in Croatia.

UPDATE 1022z: Just called CQ again (2.5W), but no spots this time on 10m FT8.

UPDATE 1256z: So far today on 10m FT8 RX just 3 stations in 2 countries.

UPDATE 1706z: As well as more Europeans, ZS6AN (9122km) is now coming through. Now 12 stations in 8 countries.

UPDATE 1917z: A few more Europeans spotted on 10m FT8 RX, but no more real DX today.

UPDATE 2122z: QRT.

Anglesey Abbey yesterday - NOT amateur radio

This was in the rose garden yesterday at Anglesey Abbey, which is about 4 miles away from us.

Southgate News 10m Report

I have criticised this before.

The writer says this is one of the worst weeks he can remember. Whilst we are approaching sunspot minimum, I find these reports unhelpful as often the stations reporting are quite close to the DX. It says very little about how good the 10m band is for working DX.

In my view FT8 seems to cut through and find DX. If I can spot South America multiple times on 10m FT8 with my poor 10m antenna I am certain that better equipped stations can do much better.

See  http://southgatearc.org/bands/10metres/2018/september/september-05.htm#.W5GctPZFzIU

Sunspots - Friday September 7th 2018

Solar flux is 67 today and the sunspot number 0. A=6 and K=2.

6 Sep 2018

That New York Times article - NOT amateur radio

Recently there was a New York Times article about what goes on in President Trump's administration. The BBC has analysed the patterns of speech in the article and possibly identified the anonymous author. Time will tell if these clues are correct.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-45435813 .

On 2m FT8 again

As 10m FT8 has "closed" for the day, I QSYed to 2m FT8 and put out a CQ call (2.5W and omni antenna).

Yet again I was spotted in Cornwall at well over 400km. This never seems to fail. Every time I call CQ on 2m FT8 I seem to get spotted a very long way away.

What a remarkable mode! I was spotted by 2 Cornish stations as well as 4 others.


Whatever happened last weekend seems to have corrected itself with this rally announcement arriving in good time.


Tan Lane, Caister on Sea NR30 5DJ. Talk-in on S22. Doors open 9am (sellers 8am; tables indoor £10, outside £5). Raffle, onsite cafe, disabled access. Zane, 0771 121 4790, m1bfidx@ntlworld.com www.m1bfidx.wixsite.com/cl-radio-rally.

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

Dahlias - NOT amateur radio

We live a short drive from Anglesey Abbey. At this time of the year the dahlias there are usually at their best. The colours in this one are stunning.

10m FT8

Since breakfast, I have been in 10m FT8 RX. As yet, just M0LHS (212km) spotted. No DX as yet.

UPDATE 1436z: Plenty of southern Europeans spotted.

UPDATE 1954z: Nothing outside Europe spotted. 17 stations in 6 countries spotted on 10m FT8 RX.

2m FT8

Overnight, I stayed on 2m FT8 RX. G4VXE (136km) was spotted calling CQ earlier. My own CQ call (2.5W to an omni) was spotted by G0CER (205km).

Sunspots - Thursday September 6th 2018

Solar flux is 67 today and the sunspot number 0. A=11 and K=1.

5 Sep 2018

2m FT8 DX

A few moments ago I called CQ on 2m FT8 running 2.5W to my big-wheel omni antenna.

5 stations spotted me with the best DX G7RAU (461km) in Cornwall in IN79 square on the Lizard. I am now on 2m FT8 RX only. FT8 continues to amaze me.


There is little doubt in my mind that FT8 is transformative.

For several days I have been on 10m FT8 and every day South America has been spotted. Today 10m was open widely across Europe using this mode.

I think FT8 is "winkling out" short openings that hitherto would have been missed. In the past a casual CQ on SSB or CW might easily have been missed, but all FT8 activity is within a few kHz. Just a 15 second opening is spotted by an army of people across the globe. Not only that, but FT8 works with signals weaker than SSB or CW.

The result is 10m FT8 is still useful, even at this low point in the solar cycle.

Fungus - NOT amateur radio

At the weekend, this tree in Norwich was covered in this fungus. On the grass were hundreds of smaller toadstools as well.

10m FT8

This looks more promising than yesterday with already 4 stations spotted in 4 countries since breakfast. Best DX spotted so far is IZ7XWO (1682km).

UPDATE 1036z: Although this is Sept 5th, it looks more like May! Plenty of Es thanks to FT8.
UPDATE 1918z:  Best DX is PU2MMD (9581km) in South America. Sunspot minimum? Poor conditions? 10m?

Sunspots - Wednesday September 5th 2018

Solar flux is 68 today and the SSN 0.  A=9 and  K=3.

4 Sep 2018

2m FT8

After about 45 minutes this evening on SSB in the 2m UKAC, I am now on 2m FT8, saving my voice. A CQ call (2.5W) was spotted across England by 3 stations. Best DX on TX was M0JDK (135km) who is currently the best RX DX.

IC7300 fan

I did not get a clear answer to my question about this a few days ago.

Basically does the fan run at full speed all the time on TX or does it get faster only when hot?

If it is quiet at low power that is OK. What would be annoying is running 5-10W yet still having to live with a noisy fan. Any answers welcomed.

What I would really like is the low power version with CE approval and a good guarantee. Somehow I suspect this is unlikely.

Elm Hill, Norwich - NOT amateur radio

This picture (or one very like it) was in a collage yesterday. Elm Hill is a delightful cobbled street in Norwich. We went to Norwich on Saturday.

Gmail - NOT amateur radio

Gmail has changed its style.

At one time when you deleted mail, the advert mails disappeared too. Now you have to open them first before they can be deleted. I guess this is to guarantee the ads get read. Yet another "big brother" move?

10m FT8

Although I have been on 10m FT8 RX for a while, no spots as yet. Mind you, it is quite early.

UPDATE 1100z: Still no spots. An RA2 was spotted, but this did not upload to PSKreporter maps.

UPDATE 1326z: Just a couple of spots so far on 10m FT8 RX from RA2 and an I. Best DX is IK0NEP (1425km).

UPDATE 1723z: 3 stations in 3 countries spotted on 10m FT8 RX today so far. I wonder if we will see South Americans later?

2m activity contest tonight

The September leg of the RSGB's UKAC activity contest starts at 1900z and lasts for 2.5 hours. If I remember the contest is on (!), I usually come on for a part. Usually I manage about 30-60 minutes before my voice cries, "stop!". The contest is usually busy and friendly.
In the end, 9 contacts with my 5W and big-wheel omni antenna. Best DX was M0DXR/P on the Isle of Wight.

Sunspots - Tuesday September 4th 2018

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN still zero. A=5 and K=1.

3 Sep 2018

Simple Regen RXs and Transceivers

You may be wondering just how simple you can make an effective HF receiver. You may like to try this.  It works remarkably well.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/regen

If you want an ultra-simple transceiver, try this:

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/feter-80m-qrpp-cw-transceiver

Record UK Summer - NOT amateur radio

It looks like England has just had its hottest summer since records began. The UK as a whole saw temperatures matching those seen in previous hot summers.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45399134

Google Analytics - NOT amateur radio

For some weeks the map showing me where the audience for the blog comes from during the day has not been working. This particular map is only available to the blog owner.

In the past sudden increases in visitor numbers always tied up with increased interest from eastern Europe and Russia. These "blips" seemed to happen about once a month. I assumed these were probing bots rather than visits from people with a genuine interest. With the map not working I cannot tell where visits are coming from.

Already today my blog visits are way up. Already I have well exceeded the number of visits on a normal day. Now, these visits could be genuine, but they look exceedingly suspicious to me.

Norwich Collage - NOT amateur radio

My wife created this collage of our visit to Norwich on Saturday. It includes 3 of the cathedral, Elm Hill, the market, Edith Cavell's statue and the river Wensum.

Autumn? - NOT amateur radio

We have had a long hot summer here in the UK.  The Met Office classes Sept 1st as the first day of autumn.

Already, there are some signs of autumn. Nights are a bit chillier and there is early morning dew on the grass. Soon we'll see migrant birds arriving here from Scandinavia.

These lanterns were spotted on a walk yesterday in the village.


Over the years, several people have asked me about this radio. Back in the 1970s I was involved in the design team.

It was made famous in a TV series called "The Professionals".

The PF8 manual is also available as a downloadable file at the bottom of my page on my main website.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/pf8

10m FT8

As yesterday, I decided to give 10m FT8 another go. So far today, 6 stations spotted in 3 countries with best DX on FT8 RX CS7AOM (1422km).

UPDATE 1254z:  Now 7 stations in 3 countries spotted today on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1752z: VP8LP (12773km) was spotted as the best DX.

UPDATE 1840z: ZD7JC (7606km) on St Helena spotted. Sunspot minimum? 10m? No problems!

UPDATE 1953z: I had to move to 2m FM for the East Cambs net. On my return to 10m FT8  CA3JBD (11760km) in Chile was spotted. Great mode this FT8! What did I miss, I wonder?

Ferrite loaded antennas

15m antenna
Giorgio I2GSI has been experimenting with ferrite loaded and compressed antennas for 20 years and has some good success with 20W CW or less. He sent me a few photos and has written some articles. The true spirit of amateur radio!
6m antenna
20m antenna