30 Sep 2019

QSY to 160m FT8 RX with the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground

In the end I gave up with the HF bands and QSYed to 160m FT8 RX. Although I am spotting loads of stations locally, nothing is appearing on PSKreporter. I need to investigate! Timing was resynced just a few minutes ago so it is not that.

UPDATE  1934z: Suddenly they are appearing. Either PSKreporter was not working or my internet connection was not working. 28 stations spotted so far all over Europe with the best DX spotted on 160m FT8 RX being RV6FT (3093km).

Compact 160m loft antenna

This has appeared before but may spark some ideas in some people. At the old QTH (we moved 6 years ago, which seems incredible) I had a need for a simple antenna for 160m. At that time, I had easy access to the loft, so this antenna resulted. It was quite effective.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/160m_loft_ant

East Cambridgeshire Net

A reminder that the East Cambs net reverted to Mondays at 8pm on 144.575MHz FM vertical in the "all modes" part of 2m.  We had moved to Weds at 7.30pm, but quite a few forgot!

FT8 - what band?

We returned home earlier, so I shall probably go on FT8 shortly, but I am unsure on what band. As 15m is a band I have never tried on FT8, I may try this on FT8 RX using the indoor loop.

UPDATE 1428z: I decided on 15m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1520z: Spots from 5B4 and OD5 (eastern Med) which were not reported to PSKreporter maps. Not sure if this was a problem at my end or theirs. I have just restarted WSJT-X in case it was my end.

UPDATE 1540z: It is quite surprising than nothing has appeared on 15m PSKreporter maps. The impression is either no-one bothers TXing on 15m FT8, or conditions are very bad now, or PSKreporter is faulty. I don't think it s the latter.

UPDATE  1615z: Our internet connection has been off (wi-fi OK), so this may explain the lack of uploads to PSKreporter maps. Still no spots.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness - NOT amateur radio

I think this photo sums up autumn quite well. Ripe fruit and nuts.

Ready - NOT amateur radio

It's a Monday morning so school beckons. One of our grandchildren is ready!

Sunspots - Monday September 30th 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the SSN 0. A=13 and K=4.

29 Sep 2019

Sputnik Days

Some years ago G6ALB and I made a simple valve TX based on Sputnik valves. As I recall it was about 400mW output. Our CQ was answered by a station in the USA. This was on 15m. The 72 Club is organising a similar series of events.

Eating parkin - NOT amateur radio

Our younger grandson loves his parkin, so Granny made him some especially. Here he is today enjoying it.

Entertainment - NOT amateur radio

Whenever we see our younger granddaughter she likes to dance for us.

G3XBM history

On my www.g3xbm.co.uk website is a page about history. Some people may be interested.

Yew Tree Pub - NOT amateur radio

Last night our son took us out with his family to a pub in a nearby village for a meal. It was a delightful place.

Sunspots - Sunday September 29th 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the SSN 0. A=27 and K=2.

28 Sep 2019

Kent - NOT amateur radio

We are in Kent for a couple of nights staying with my son and his family. This is a photo of my wife and I with 2 of our grandchildren.

With a grandson

This is my wife with one of our grandchildren.

HW8

Years ago I used an HW8 QRP CW rig and had much fun with it. These days there are more effective QRP modes.

DX soundbites

One of the links on my website is to a page with soundbites of DX stations. These were made in 2013.

See http://hamgallery.com/dx2013/

Sunspots - Saturday September 28th 2019

Solar flux is 66 and the SSN 0. A=21 and K=3.

27 Sep 2019

30m FT8 RX

Continuing my experiments with the tiny indoor loop antenna, I have QSYed to 10.136MHz (30m) FT8 RX. Immediately 48 stations spotted.

30m FT8 RX on the 
tiny indoor loop as of 2100z
UPDATE 2013z: Now 162 stations spotted today on 30m FT8 RX with the tiny indoor loop. The first USA station has been spotted here on 30m FT8 RX - N0FW (6352km).

365 Project - NOT amateur radio

For several years now, my wife and I have done something called the 365 project. This is totally free, but you can pay $19.99 a year to gain total privacy and extra albums.

The idea is to take a photo every day.  It make a good visual diary. Some photos are very creative, whereas others are boring and blurred.

If you want to, you can see the photos taken by others around the world. It has been a good exercise. We try to stick to very recent photos when we can, unless there is good reason.

My own photos are at http://365project.org/g3xbm/365 . Don't get too excited!

17m FT8 RX

Continuing my tests with the tiny indoor loop, I have QSYed to 17m FT8 RX. Already 12 stations spotted with best DX PY2VA (9584km) in Brazil. Already 3 continents spotted!

UPDATE 1416z: As well as loads of Europeans, 5 USA and one South American spotted.

Stations spotted on 17m FT8 RX 
with the tiny indoor loop to 1715z.
UPDATE 1715z: Now 111 stations spotted today with the tiny indoor loop with best DX spotted LU3DI (11229km).

BREXIT deal? - NOT amateur radio

Like most in the UK and the rest of Europe, I am fed up with BREXIT. Whether you voted "remain" or "leave" in the 2016 UK referendum, agreeing a deal seems illusive.

Both the UK and the rest of the EU want a deal, but no-one seems to want to compromise or lose face. Certainly most in the UK parliament and in the country seem angrier than even a few years ago. I do hope a deal in which no-one loses face can be agreed in the next few weeks. Whilst there is a lot of brinkmanship, time is rapidly running out.

I'd have more faith if the current Prime Minister was not a liar. Quite recently, he had an encounter with a man in a hospital. The PM claimed the press were not there when they clearly were! It looked like a press event to me. Sometimes I fear he believes what he wants to believe. Does this remind you of anyone?

MLS weekend offers

As usual, MLS is offering some deals for the weekend. This is to attract buyers at the UK Hamfest, but these apply to other sales as well. I don't know if these are good deals or not, but if you are going to buy one of the sale items it is worth taking a look.

See https://www.hamradio.co.uk/

Weather forecasts - NOT amateur radio

As a matter of habit, I check the weather forecasts. Usually I look on the BBC weather forecast and the Met Office weather forecast. Rarely do these agree.

As an example, the Met Office forecast shows the risk of thunder at tea time. The BBC forecast has no mention of this.

Now, I know forecasting the weather in the UK is not a precise science, but I would have expected more agreement just a few hours ahead!

10m FT8

Today I am trying 10m FT8 using the tiny indoor loop. A quick couple of (5W) 10m FT8 CQs was spotted by a couple of Gs, but nothing further yet. Earlier I spotted a G0 finishing a QSO with a YO station, but this did not get reported to PSKreporter maps. I am monitoring 28.074MHz FT8. Like 6m, I think many have migrated to lower frequencies thinking the band is dead.

UPDATE 1030z: DK9CX (937km) and S55OO (1233km) spotted on 10m FT8 RX. G0PQO (50km) also spotted. This was the station I spotted earlier.

UPDATE 1113z: DK9CX replied to my 5W 10m FT8 CQ, but in the end I lost him sadly before completing. In all, 5 stations spotted my 5W FT8 10m CQ with the best being a spot by 9A4ZM (1289km). My regret now is not trying this indoor tiny loop back in the Es season! On 10m FT8 RX 9 spots so far with best DX spotted being IK7XLU (1708km).

UPDATE 1225z: 18 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX so far.

UPDATE 1314z: A recent 5W 10m FT8 CQ (using the tiny indoor loop) was spotted by 3 stations with the best being HB9CRE (795km). Now 19 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today so far. There are probably fewer people monitoring and TXing on 10m FT8 compared with 20m.

15m FT8 RX

On the tiny indoor loop, I am trying 15m FT8 RX. Although I have not been on long, no spots so far this morning. I am looking on 21.074MHz, which I think is the 15m FT8 frequency.

UPDATED 1022z: Although I have QSYed to 10m FT8, there were plenty of Europeans being spotted on 15m FT8. Yes 21.074MHz seems to be the 15m FT8 frequency.

Ferrite rod transmitting antennas

This has been posted before, but results may surprise many.

Perhaps I should repeat these tests with FT8 from this QTH. FT8 is not as good as WSPR with weak signals but it is better than CW.

These tests were done at least 6 years ago and I have not tried since.  It must be used with QRP or the ferrite may saturate.

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

Sunspots - Friday September 27th 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the SSN 0. A=4 and K=1.

20m FT8

On the tiny indoor loop 614 stations spotted in the last day on 20m FT8 RX, well exceeding all expectations.  Already on 20m FT8 RX with the loop lots of stations spotted. This is far from a great loop as the wire is not exactly thick. Quite amazing.

Today I might try a higher HF band.

26 Sep 2019

Trump Impeachment - NOT amateur radio

Whilst I fully accept that the good people of the USA are free to elect whoever they wish as their president, I personally have problems with President Trump and PM Johnson.

Both men seem to me (personal view and others are free to hold different views) to be right wing and rather poor in their roles. President Trump seems to me to be out of step with many e.g. over climate change and Iran to name just 2. His actions seem to fall short of what I'd expect from a true statesman. PM Johnson seems to be in a similar vein.

We'll see what the impeachment enquiry into the activities of President Trump reveal.

All I ever wish is that leaders of the western nations act as true statesmen, thinking long-term and not about their own careers. I struggle to think of any leaders who are more focussed on the long-term good of the planet rather than their own short-term well beings.

20m FT8 RX

As I have no antennas outside for 20m I am using the tiny loop on the back of the rig indoors. At a guess this is about 0.5m across. In the first 2 hours no less than 97 stations spotted with best DX EA8AT (2843km) in the Canaries. This antenna is so small and indoors.

UPDATE 1533z: Quite amazing. 373 stations in 4 continents spotted today on 20m FT8 RX with the tiny indoor loop. Best DX spotted is JF8QNF (8763km).

UPDATE 1542z: As an experiment, I tried a quick 20m FT8 CQ (10W) using the indoor loop, but was spotted by no-one. I may try again as there is a high chance I was being clobbered by another station on the same frequency.

UPDATE 1727z: For some reason, my 20m dial had moved to 14.000 rather than 14.074MHz. I called FT8 CQ again (this time on the correct frequency) and was spotted in southern Italy by 3 stations and 1 in France. On RX 465 stations spotted on 20m FT8 with the tiny indoor loop today.

UPDATE 2140z:  584 stations spotted today on 20m FT8 RX with the tiny indoor loop. I have to say that results with this tiny antenna have far exceeded my expectations.
20m FT8 RX - stations spotted to 
1717z today with the tiny indoor loop

PSKreporter issue?

All morning nothing I received was being reported to PSKreporter maps. I restarted the PC and checked WSJT-X was working on 20m RX. Locally lots of EU stations are being received, but nothing is appearing on the maps. Time was just resynced and as far as I can tell my internet connection is working. I am beginning to wonder if there is a problem with PSKreporter getting reports.

UPDATE 1011z: All now working. Mystery.

2m FT8

Although I called CQ (10W) on 2m FT8 earlier, just a couple of people spotted me (EI and G) and no QSOs resulted.

On RX it was a similar story with no spots yet. It appears that many stations get active with FT8, find out the ranges are incredible, then give up having worked those stations that are active.

By the end of the day, there are usually plenty of stations and countries logged on 2m FT8 RX and TX, but I get the sense that 2m FT8 is beginning to go "off the boil" and activity levels are now dropping.

Perhaps those that get on FT8 go to work, so only get on in the evenings mainly? Certainly early mornings are not that productive.

The Outer Hebrides - NOT amateur radio

One of the places I have never been to is the Outer Hebrides in western Scotland. Having read about  these quite a bit,  it is now unlikely I'll get there.  There are miles of white sand in the Hebrides, but few trees because of the winds. Much of the coast has wild flowers.

Barra in particular takes my fancy. This is one of the southernmost islands and the plane lands on the sand twice a day.

Heathkits

Like many of my generation, I loved Heathkits. The very first thing that got me into the hobby back in 1961 was an Electronics Workshop. In the late 1960s, I wanted a 2m HW30 Twoer AM transceiver.

According to their website Heathkit was making a comeback. Their website exists, but their product range is very limited and very overpriced. If it still survives, it must depend on a very loyal customer base. Certainly, I would not buy these. If the comeback was successful, I'd be surprised.

See https://shop.heathkit.com/shop .

G6ALB's (mainly valve) website

For years I had regular QSOs each week with G6ALB in the next village. It looks like his website has not been updated since 2009! If you are "into" valves, you may find some ideas here.

See http://www.tetrode.co.uk/

ISWL

Way back in the 1960s, and again much later, I was a member of the International Short Wave League (ISWL). In the 1960s it was quite a large international organisation producing a monthly magazine called "Monitor".  At that time, years before I was a licenced amateur, it had a tapesponding section and I exchanged tapes with an SWL in N.W. USA near Seattle. This continued for several years. I do not know what happened to him.

I think the ISWL still exists (just) but when I left for the second time many years ago it was down to a few hundred members. The ISWL was unique in that it catered for broadcast listeners as well as amateurs.

If it still exists, I would expect it has very few members left. If anyone knows how it is today, please let me now. I left for the second time as it ceased to meet my needs. The website still exists, but it looks the same as it did many years ago.

See http://www.iswl.org.uk/

Sunspots - Thursday September 26th 2019

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN 0. A=4 and K=3.

25 Sep 2019

Another IC-705 video

This YouTube video was found this evening. I hope you enjoy watching it.

Wasted spectrum?

In the UK, great swathes of spectrum are reserved for the military. I have long argued that some of this should be made available for the amateur service on a strictly non-interference basis. Even a very low ERP level could be set and stations closed if there is any hint of interference. It seems this falls on deaf ears.

In the meantime, much of the spectrum remains unavailable for serious experimental work. In no way am I saying such spectrum should not be available for the UK military as the primary user. But surely, under NoVs, parts of the spectrum could be opened up for serious "radio science" work? A phrase like "p***sing in the wind" come to mind. As commercial gear is not available at many of these frequencies, only serious experimenters are likely to apply for NoVs. Numbers would be small and all addresses known. We could even be asked to notify someone before experiments start.

Autumn leaves - NOT amateur radio

For several years now my wife has taken a photo of a certain tree at nearby Anglesey Abbey. We went this morning to catch it in its autumn colours.

After a few more weeks and with a decent blow, the leaves will have fallen until new buds appear in the spring. When we went last week, it was mostly green.

Although it was a dull morning, it looked better last year.

Trump: please read the facts!!! - NOT amateur radio

"The scientists are "virtually certain" that the global ocean has now warmed without pause since 1970."

The BBC reports on the latest news from climate scientists at the UN. Oh, sorry, this is all rubbish and just a Chinese hoax, says Trump allegedly. The world needs the USA and China fully engaged for the good of our children and grandchildren. For some nations, rising sea levels are a threat to their very existence.

Reading means you stop watching soaps on TV, tweet less, forget lobbyists from the gun and oil people and actually read reports. A true statesman does this and listens to knowledgeable and wise advisers.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-49817804 .

National Hamfest

This weekend is the UK's National Hamfest in Newark.

27-28 SEPTEMBER : NATIONAL HAMFEST

Newark & Nottinghamshire Showground, Lincoln Road, Winthorpe, Newark, Nottinghamshire NG24 2NY.

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

2m FT8

Although I have been on 2m FT8 RX overnight, just 2 spots (1G and one DL).

I may try a 10W FT8 CQ call shortly. It seems few transmit overnight. Some start at breakfast time. I think these were both normal "flat band" conditions with the DL (who is regularly on FT8) via flat band tropo judging by the signal level.

UPDATE 1242z: So far today 13 stations in 7 countries spotted with best DX on 2m FT8 RX being EB1DJ (1279km) in northern Spain. On TX (10W to the big-wheel omni) an earlier CQ on 2m FT8 was spotted by 7 stations in 3 countries with my best DX DF6PW (562km).

UPDATE 1917z: A recent 10W FT8 2m CQ was copied by 11 stations in 4 countries. One QSO with PA1BVM (367km) resulted. On 2m FT8 RX 32 stations in 9 countries spotted in the last day.

Sunspots - Tuesday September 25th 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the SSN 0. A=13 and K=1 .

CME triggered auroras?

Southgate News reports that there is a risk of a coronal mass ejection causing auroras this week. In the past I have worked stations via auroras with QRP on 6m CW and 10m SSB. A geomagnetic storm is likely even if the CME debris misses Earth.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2019/september/minor-cme-impact-could-spark-auroras-this-week.htm

Rybakov antennas

The basic idea of Rybakov antennas is to feed these at the high impedance end via a transformer so the impedance is brought down to the range (usually VSWR better than 3:1) that can be matched with the auto ATUs in many modern HF rigs.

Somewhere in the garage I have an x80 antenna which was a commercial version. I think this antenna is no longer available, but I guess similar antennas are available. The one I have was criticised for blowing wildly in winds. If I can erect it on our bungalow, it should give me access to several bands.

If you buy the toroid formers and wind the transformers, Rybakovs are quite easy to make. There are several examples on YouTube and elsewhere on the internet.


24 Sep 2019

Back on air

The storm risk seems to have passed with both the BBC and Met Office weather forecasts showing no thunder and lightning this evening, so I have reconnected the rig, PC, PSU and antenna and have returned to 2m FT8.

Distant thunder

OK, I only heard this twice but I have gone QRT and disconnected everything once again. At the moment they are not forecasting storms here, but I have done this "just in case".

RSGB's RadCom Basics

This is, as its name implies, a more basic version of RadCom that is available for members online. The latest version is now available. This is more aimed at beginners.

See https://rsgb.org/main/publications-archives/radcom-basics/

Prorogation of parliament is illegal Supreme Court rules - NOT amateur radio

The highest court in the UK has unanimously voted that the Prime Minister acted illegally by suspending the UK parliament. These are historic days. It is anyone's guess what happens next.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness - NOT amateur radio

Autumn is the season when leaves fall and the fruit trees are filled with ripe fruit. Our next door neighbour has well laden apple and plum trees. My own crab apple tree has more fruit than ever. A friend makes crab apple jelly, which is delicious with some meats. The photo shows a conker still in its shell.

It never fails! - 2m FT8

As the risk of storms has disappeared until lunchtime on 2 forecasts I use, I have reconnected the rig, PSU, antenna and PC for now.

Although it is raining heavily (the first decent rain here for months) I still get spotted in Eire, Cornwall and Germany with a 10W CQ call on 2m FT8 TX, even with the big-wheel omni antenna. In all, 8 stations spotted me, although no QSOs resulted.

Yesterday G4BAO (8km) was +18dB S/N despite running 20mW. I am sure we would have worked each other if he had run 100uW. On 2m FT8 RX no stations spotted here yet, but I expect this will change.

UPDATE 0854z: Just 1 spot on 2m FT8 RX so far G4VQZ (175km).

Spots from my latest 
2m FT8 CQ as of 1027z 
(10W to the big-wheel omni antenna)
UPDATE 0830z: Just a couple of Gs spotted so far on 2m FT8 RX. A very recent 10W FT8 2m CQ was spotted by 9 stations as shown in the map.

UPDATE 1027z:  Now 4 stations spotted this morning on 2m FT8 RX with best DX PE1ISS (409km).

UPDATE 1402z: A recent 10W FT8 2m CQ was spotted by 12 stations with the best DX being a spot by DF6PW (562km). On 2m FT8 RX I have spotted 15 stations in 4 countries so far.

UPDATE 1840z:  A 10W 2m FT8 CQ was spotted by 10 stations with a QSO with DL6YBF (471km). He called me!

UPDATE 2031z:  In the last few hours 20 stations in 4 countries spotted on 2m FT8 RX. On 2m FT8 TX (10W CQ) I received 8 spots in 3 countries.

Alibris sale - NOT amateur radio

At one time I used to get emails telling me about Alibris sales every week. Yesterday I had one offering £20 off for one day only. It was deleted. I have a filter to get rid of these.

Honest to God - NOT amateur radio

This was the title of a book that I read when I was younger. At the time it caused quite a stir, but I quite liked it. By many traditionalists it was considered heresy.

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

4m transverter

Although this has been on the blog before, it is worth repeating it as it may spark ideas in some people. I have to confess it is some years since I tried this in a 4m contest with a hastily erected wire dipole.

Before that, my last 4m operation was working ZB2VHF from the shack of G3OUL (Liverpool University club station) with 4W AM on 70.26MHz. I think that was 1969, so quite a while ago!

The transverter certainly works, although I am sure it can be improved. These days I am too feeble and wobbly to try to make it better. It appeared in GQRP SPRAT, although I cannot remember which one. I guess it would have been in a 2012 or 2013 edition.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/4m_tvtr

Sunspots - Tuesday September 24th 2019

Solar flux is 66 and the sunspot number still 0. A=3 and K=3.

23 Sep 2019

Storm risk?

At the moment we have some heavy, thundery, downpours forecast for Tuesday. As a precaution, I have disconnected all antennas, the PSU and the PC. Only if things improve will I reconnect things tomorrow. Tomorrow might be a quiet radio day!

See https://www.lightningmaps.org/blitzortung/europe/index.php?lang=en

2m FT8

Stations spotted so far today on 2m FT8 RX 
with the big-wheel omni antenna (to 1350z)
All day I have been on 2m FT8. On RX, 30 stations in 6 countries spotted so far.

A recent 10W FT8 CQ with the big-wheel omni was spotted by 11 stations in 4 countries with DG1KDD (472km) as the best DX spotting me. Sadly, no QSOs resulted. I did call a French station without success.

ICOM IC-9700 book

Southgate News reports that there is a new book out about this popular VHF/UHF transceiver that covers 2m, 70cm and 23cm. In many ways it is similar to the IC-7300.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2019/september/new-book-on-the-icom-ic-9700.htm

Rather them than me! - NOT amateur radio

Today, "our" windmill next door looks rather different.

In the photo you may be able to see someone who has climbed the ladder and a sail to do some work where the sails meet. At one point there were 2 people up there. All I can say is, "rather them than me".

Windmill 1931 - NOT amateur radio

We think this photo of the windmill next door was taken in about 1931. I have no idea who took it. Our bungalow was built about 40 years later and is behind the shed on the right.

Today the windmill is fully restored and has 4 sails which occasionally rotate, usually on special occasions. The tail wheel turns regularly and we can tell the wind direction by the way the main sails are orientated. The windmill is part of Burwell Museum, which is very extensive and one of the best local museums in the UK.

In the video below, the hedge is in our garden.

See http://burwellmuseum.org.uk/

Yet more houses - NOT amateur radio

We moved to this village in 1975 when the population was just over 4000. It is now over 6000.

Wherever there is a gap more houses get built. These cater for the well healed and rarely for ordinary workers. For example, the space in the photo has recently been built on. At one time it was a pub carpark.

XBM80-2 transceiver

This was a very simple 80m CW transceiver that I designed and built many years ago, apparently in 2010.

Like all my designs please take this as a starting point as you may very well be able to do much better. As you can see this was just experimental. At the time it was fun. These days, such experimental work is probably beyond me since the 2013 stroke.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/80m_xbm80


Sunspots - Monday September 23rd 2019

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN 0. A=4 and K=0.

22 Sep 2019

2m FT8 again

It is getting dark and I have switched to 2m FT8. On RX 3 stations spotted including 2 in Germany. On 2m FT8 TX (10W to the big-wheel omni) 14 spots so far with the best DX report coming from G4LOH (455km) in Cornwall.

UPDATE 2009z: A recent 10W 2m FT8 CQ was again copied by GI6ATZ (479km). The antenna was still the big-wheel omni so the ERP was maybe 20W? FT8 is pretty remarkable.

Climate change facts - NOT amateur radio

Unlike President Trump of the USA who allegedly thinks climate change is a Chinese hoax, I prefer to believe in evidence as presented by people that have studied the real data. Sorry that means reading, which President Trump allegedly does not do that often.  A true statesman looks at the facts.

People of the USA, when you vote next year look at the evidence, please. This is a global emergency which requires us to think beyond the votes and lobby groups active in the next few years. The whole future of our planet is at stake, not who is US president in 2020 November.

Just look at the fiercer hurricanes and the Bahamas. It is happening now!!

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-49773869

Time flies - NOT amateur radio

It seems hard to remember that we were abroad on holiday just a few weeks ago. We seem to have packed in a lot since. On the whole the weather here has been mild and sunny. Yet again we went on a Saga holiday, which was very good. The holiday rep who looked after everything was local and very good. I kept a blog.

See https://roses2019.blogspot.com/

Inconsiderate parking - NOT amateur radio

Most times we love living next door to a restored windmill and museum. However, today is a special day with music and dance, so there are more people than normal. What I do not like is people who park without consideration for local residents, blocking driveways by parking badly. In future, if we need to go out in the car on such days, we need to park on the road and not on our driveway.

6m FT8

According to the weather forecast and the storm maps, the worst storms seem to be further west in the UK and here looks OK. So, I have reconnected everything and gone on 6m FT8 calling CQ (10W) initially. No spots received and nothing spotted yet on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 0929z: Still no spots. Many are still asleep in the UK or have deserted 6m.

UPDATE 1045z: A recent 10W FT8 6m CQ resulted in 2 G spots, but no QSOs. Still no spots on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1250z: Just 2 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX so far (G and GD).

UPDATE 1315z: 3 stations spotted so far on 6m FT8 RX (G and GD). In answer to my own 10W 6m FT8 CQ call just now, just a couple of Gs spotted me. No QSOs resulted.

UPDATE 1608z: A recent 6m 10W FT8 CQ was spotted by one G station. At first I was puzzled as it said I was spotted 6 minutes ago, but there was nothing on the 6m PSKreporter map. Switching to "all bands" revealed that G4RDC (127km) was incorrectly reporting me as on 2m. He had obviously forgotten to change his band setting. Just 4 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX with best DX being HB9DVZ (870km) in eastern Switzerland.

Early 2m FT8 RX

Overnight, I stayed on 2m FT8 RX. Around breakfast time I was again spotting lots of stations including 3 Germans. Then the weather was forecasting storms, so everything was switched off and disconnected.

70cm Moxon antenna


Many years ago, I raided my wife's cupboard to make a 70cm Moxon antenna from a coat-hanger. If I remember correctly, the whole thing took about 30 minutes to make. It was used out portable with my FT817 and worked well.

Never say you don't have a 70cm antenna!

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/70cm_moxon

Oscar 100 update

Periodically I check the web SDR at Goonhilly to see what the activity level is on the narrowband transponder of this geosynchronous satellite.

My own view is activity levels are similar to a month ago. Certainly the band is far from crowded. There is room for many more stations.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

Very simple 28MHz WSPR, FT8 or PSK RX

My trouble is I cannot remember where I've posted things!

So, if this has appeared here recently please accept my apologies. It is a simple, low cost, circuit and worth sticking on 10m WSPR when you have an antenna free. Most days you will copy something. As you can see it uses an oscillator running at half frequency and a Polyakov mixer.

I used a cheap GQRP 14.060MHz crystal, pulled. It worked well on 10m WSPR. The same idea would work on FT8 and PSK as long as you can find cheap crystals!

Our garden - NOT amateur radio

As the sun was shining, we did some work in the garden yesterday. In a month or so the leaves will fall and the garden will "sleep" over the winter. At the moment it looks tired and "late summer".

We'll blink and it will be spring.

Sunspots - Sunday September 22nd 2019

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN 0. A=7 and K=2.

21 Sep 2019

Late switch to 2m FT8

Just now, I moved to 2m FT8. Yet again, my 10W FT8 CQ was widely copied with my best being a spot by G4LOH (455km) in Cornwall. On 2m FT8 RX all very quiet so far with just one G spot so far. I shall stay on 2m FT8 overnight.

Crosses - NOT amateur radio

Time and again I notice how hard life can be for some people and most of us are unaware.

Many people have mental health issues, or difficult parents or children, or a serious illness, yet choose not to share this with others. This may be their choice: some choose their hobbies to escape from these traumas. Many times I have said, "never judge a book by its cover".

We do not know the struggles some people have. All we can try to do is treat everyone with kindness.

Madness - NOT amateur radio

The UK is in a mess over BREXIT so what does the main opposition party (Labour) do? They hold a party conference and try to oust their deputy leader.

Personally, I think this is self-destructive and will lose them votes. Utter stupidity when all eyes are on them! This is pathetic navel gazing.

UPDATE 1105z: Apparently, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has quashed this. I expect he realised the harm it would do. Well, it is now almost inevitable I shall not be voting Labour in the near future.

6m FT8

Another promising start with 6 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX. Best DX spotted so far on 6m FT8 RX is SM0EUI (1387km) and my recent 10W 6m FT8 CQ call was spotted by G4RDC (127km).

I keep reminding people that 6m Es is there more often than people realise and FT8 is a perfect way of exploiting it.

UPDATE 1155z: Now 10 stations in 4 countries spotted so far this morning on 6m FT8 RX. A recent 10W 6m CQ call on FT8 resulted in one G QSO and 4 spots (all G).

UPDATE 1852z: 10 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX. A recent 10W FT8 CQ was spotted by 1 G station, although no QSO resulted.

UPDATE 2032z: A late 10W 6m FT8 CQ got no spots.

A better crystal set?

Some years ago QST had a circuit for a better crystal set that used a MOSFET. I have never tried this, but I should. It is supposed to be more sensitive than conventional designs, and uses no batteries.

See http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Technology/tis/info/pdf/culter.pdf

Climate strikes - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday's climate strikes around the world were supported by millions. They were largely organised by young people, but supported by many older folk.

It is my view that climate change is real, but in the end there will be a tipping point when things will change: we will mostly be driving electric cars powered by batteries that don't depend on slave labour, with ranges that match petrol cars, with plentiful fast charging points. As with digital cameras and flat screen TVs, other technologies will suddenly seem "past it". We will eat less meat and we will find ways to counteract harmful emissions. OK, I may be wrong, but the momentum is certainly there.

The question is how soon will all this come?

Sunspots - Saturday September 21st 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the SSN 0. A=3 and K=2.

2m big-wheel antenna

For many years now my main 2m antenna (and 70cms!) for SSB, CW and digital modes has been a 2m big-wheel omni, sometimes called a clover leaf. This has a little horizontal gain, but is a fixed antenna that does not need a rotator. It well suits my style of operating. I use this for 2m and 70cm UKAC sessions and casual use at other times.

Most days, irrespective of conditions, I spot at least 7 countries on FT8 RX and I am spotted at ranges of 400-500km when I call QRP CQ on FT8. For me, this antenna is perfect. For FM I use the V2000 vertical. At one time I had a hand-rotated small dual band beam, but I find the big wheel better suited.

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

20 Sep 2019

Autumn crocus - NOT amateur radio

Earlier, we came across this lone autumn crocus in the village. It demanded a quick photo.

My first photo with the smart phone was over-exposed, so I went back again with the "real" camera.

Network radios

Summer 2018, I bought a network radio, mainly to use with Echolink. These radios look like 2m handhelds, but are actually Android phones. I realise that mine has hardly been used for months. I find Echolink QSOs unsatisfying. I prefer the struggle with "real" radio!

Buying one, especially at sunspot minimum, I was expecting to feel differently.

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

Is Trump stupid? - NOT amateur radio

OK, I have to admit I am not a great fan of President Trump and admit that others clearly hold different views.

His stance on world affairs seems naïve. He stands alone on climate change, in the face of mounting evidence he is wrong, even close to home. His position on Iran seems more aimed at American rednecks than world peace. His dealings with China are very questionable. Canute?

Allegedly, he does not agree with California's efforts to reduce pollution, although the legal battles could well continue way after the next USA presidential elections.

On the world stage he is viewed as a joke, although I acknowledge his policies may find favour at home in the USA. Caveat emptor. He may be fine on "The Apprentice", but is he a true statesman?

See https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2019-09-19/hiltzik-trump-california-waiver

Sunspots - Friday September 20th 2019

Solar flux is 67 today and the sunspot number still zero. A=8 and K=1.

Times they are a changing on 6m FT8

Since about 15 minutes ago, I have been on 6m FT8. Initially I called CQ, but got no reports at all - ziltch. Not even a G spot. What this tells me is there are far fewer stations monitoring than a few months back in the Es season. I'll stick with it, but I am less hopeful of spotting much or being spotted with my 10W CQ calls.

UPDATE 0944z: 3 spots so far on 6m FT8 RX with best DX IS0AWZ (1598km) on Sardinia.

UPDATE 1012z: A10W 6m FT8 CQ was spotted by G0SYP (222km). This was 2 hours ago, so must have been my earlier CQ.

UPDATE 1145z: Well, there is still life in 6m FT8! At the moment 16 stations in 5 countries spotted including some that must be Es. Best DX spotted, so far, is CT1EUB (1814km) in southern Portugal. My own 10W 6m FT8 CQ was not spotted by anyone.

UPDATE 1600z: Although I have been monitoring 6m FT8 most of the day, no more Es seen here since lunch. At the moment 21 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX with the best DX being  IH9YMC (1943km).

UPDATE 1918z: In the end, 26 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX today as the map shows. There is still some Es, but it is harder to find than a few months ago. It is worth using FT8 and putting out the occasional CQ call.

UPDATE 2049z: Just now I put out a 6m 10W FT8 CQ.  I was not expecting anyone to spot me really. Then G3XGS (63km) spotted me.

19 Sep 2019

Sunday Rally

The following takes place this Sunday:

Sunday 22 SEPTEMBER : WESTON-SUPER-MARE RADIO RALLY

The Campus Highlands Lane Weston super Mare BS24 7DX (Jct 21 M5). Doors open 10am to 3pm. Entry is £3. There will be trade stands and a Bring & Buy stall. Excellent catering and a large car park. Enquiries to Dave Dyer by email to G4CXQ@btinternet.com or on 07871 034206.


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

2m FT8 RX

All day, I have been on 2m FT8 RX. As usual, lots of stations copied.

As of 1930z 74 stations in 10 countries had been spotted today. This seems usual on 2m FT8 RX.

Brother's visit - NOT amateur radio

After a few days my brother has gone back to Devon. It was good to see him. All being well I shall see him in Devon in November.

Old car - NOT amateur radio

A few days ago we went to Norwich. This car was parked outside an hotel near the cathedral. I am not sure if this car dates from just before or just after WW2. It is certainly a fine car. I think it is a Bentley.

The joys of 2m FT8

There can be little doubt that FT8 has transformed amateur radio.

Some would say this has led to a further decline in the use of CW and SSB. FT8 is definitely not a chatting mode, but it does work with weak signals and is great for short DX QSOs even with very modest stations. It also only occupies 50Hz of spectrum. All activity on any band is within a few kilohertz and there are plenty of people monitoring. I watch PSKreporter maps to see where I am being spotted. Every day I get a pleasant surprise!

In my own case on 2m, every day I get spotted by stations at double (or more) of the range I can work on SSB. Some reports are at ranges I could never even dream about.

Also, these days my voice is poor, so FT8 well suits my operating. I regret the decline in casual chats, but monitoring the FT8 watering holes on any band certainly improves the chances of being copied. Personally I like FT8.

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

The UK pound against the euro

When I looked last night, the UK pound had suddenly appreciated further against the euro. At one point it was worth little more than 1.07 euros, whereas now (last night) it was over 1.13. Before the BREXIT referendum, it was far higher. Does this suggest a big rebound if we (finally) agree a deal?

With all the uncertainty over BREXIT some were expecting it to fall close to parity. I am puzzled.

Sunspots - Thursday September 19th 2019

Solar flux is 66 and the sunspot number zero. A=9 and K=1.

18 Sep 2019

Late switch to 2m FT8

At 1848z, I switched from 6m to 2m FT8. A 10W CQ using the big-wheel omni resulted in a QSO with G3KZR (231km) in IO81 square. I was spotted by 12 stations with best DX being DF0MU (475km). Every time I call CQ on 2m with 10W on FT8 I seem to get spotted at this sort of range.

UPDATE 2040z: 24 stations in 6 countries spotted in the last few hours on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 2112z: The map shows the stations spotted on 2m FT8 RX this evening.

6m FT8

Today I am again on 6m FT8. After an initial 10W CQ to the V2000 vertical (no spots at all), I am RX only. So far, just one spot on 6m FT8 RX. This was G3TKF (221km). Nothing from the rest of Europe. I suspect many have now deserted 6m as the main Es season is over.

UPDATE 0922z: I see another G has been spotted. This is G8SGI (116km).

UPDATE 1057z: Now 4 Gs spotted on 6m FT8 RX this morning. No sign (yet) of any Europeans.

UPDATE 1012z: A recent 6m FT8 CQ (10W) was spotted by G3RED (55km).

UPDATE 1837z: On 6m FT8 RX 10 stations (all G and 1 GU) spotted. On TX during my brief 10W CQ calls just 2 spots (no QSOs) with best DX a spot by PA2CV (396km). Judging by the report, I suspect this was tropo.

Spike in visitors - NOT amateur radio

Periodically, I wake up to see that visits to this blog have shot up. Today was a point in case: looking at the blog quite early I see the visits today are already higher than the whole of yesterday. When this happens I can usually see where these come from. Often it is hackers in Eastern Europe, but there is no evidence of this on this occasion. Maybe I have a sudden interest in what I write. Somehow I doubt this!

East Anglia - NOT amateur radio

Much of East Anglia, UK, is flat. There are some small hills, but some may call these small bumps! This photo was taken out of a train window yesterday. Despite the flattish landscapes Norfolk and Suffolk have some great rolling scenery and some very old villages and very old medieval churches.

Sunspots - Wednesday September 18th 2019

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

17 Sep 2019

A rest

As we have been out most of the day, I have not been active on any bands today. As you know, I am usually on 6m or 2m FT8, mostly RX with the occasional CQ. Later in the autumn I shall return to 630m WSPR.

OFCOM update

On the OFCOM website is an update on the UK homes with fibre connections all the way into homes allowing super fast broadband. Apparently 2.5m homes have this capability now. See their website.

Lesser Chirpy 10m transceiver

Some years ago I designed a very simple transceiver for 10m CW. This was a "for fun" rig, but it does work. Looking at the circuit it could be further simplified. It is already very simple. XBM 10-2 was the original name.

Sadly health issues stopped me fully testing this in the sunspot maximum years.

Maybe I should try it in the next Es season? Got to find it first!

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

Norwich cathedral bosses NOT amateur radio

Norman Norwich cathedral has some of the finest bosses anywhere. The examples shown are in the cloisters. Most of the stones to build the cathedral came from Normandy nearly 1000 years ago, which I find amazing.

To think this was built all that time ago without cranes and mechanical aids we have today.

Also, where did they get the manpower? There are over 1000 medieval churches in Norfolk alone

Norwich - NOT amateur radio

My brother is visiting from Devon. He wanted to go to Norwich, so we went by train. Much of the stone for the cathedral was brought be sea and river from Normandy in France nearly 1000 years ago. They built a canal to transport the stones from the River Wensum to the cathedral. The cathedral took 49 years to build. The photo show's Pool's Ferry where the canal began.

Sunspots - Tuesday September 17th 2019

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 0. A =11 and K=4.

16 Sep 2019

Yet more yuppy pads - NOT amateur radio

No doubt the developer makes plenty of profit from these houses that ordinary people cannot afford. Social housing does not seem to really count these days. I expect these homes will be sold to young executives working in Cambridge.

Neighbour's flowers - NOT amateur radio

Quite a colourful display in a neighbour's garden this morning. It is now late summer (autumn according to the weather forecasters) and he still has a great deal of colour. In his back garden he has lots of apples.

2m FT8

As there has been a lift on 2m for the last few days I stayed on overnight. So far today 6 stations spotted.

UPDATED 1000z: A recent 2m FT8 CQ resulted in 17 spots of me including 2 spots in Germany, but no QSOs.

UPDATE 1245z: The photo shows the 2m FT8 RX spots to now.

UPDATE 1434z: A recent 10W 2m FT8 CQ was spotted by 7 stations, but no QSOs resulted. My best DX was a spot by DL3YCX (475km). 53 stations in 10 countries spotted on 2m FT8 RX today so far.

Sunspots - Monday September 16th 2019

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN 0. A=8 and K=4.

15 Sep 2019

The FETer transceiver for 80m

Inspired by W2UW (now SK) I created the FETer transceiver for 80m CW. This uses just a handful of parts, but works. It only uses 14 parts all together.

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

Lundy - NOT amateur radio

Many years ago, I was fascinated by this remote island in the Bristol Channel. It has a long and interesting history. These days it is owned by the Landmark Trust and run by the National Trust. I think it will be safe for another 50 years. I have not been there since 1961.

In recent years the puffin population has soared as a result of rat extermination. Lundy actually means "puffin island".

See https://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/Lundyisland/

Roses, Catalonia - NOT amateur radio

Roses seafront
Although we were only there earlier this week, our holiday seems an age ago! Roses, where we stayed, was a delightful place.

It seems SE Spain has had some bad floods. Luckily the weather was very good for us, as the photo shows.

So we don't forget when we get senile, I have made a blog. See https://roses2019.blogspot.com/

2m FT8

This morning I awoke at 0540z. Already 30 stations in 5 countries spotted on 2m FT8 RX in the last 6 hours.

UPDATE 0807z: Already 75 stations spotted on 2m FT8 RX this morning with best DX DK4MD (1025km) on the Austrian border. Definitely a lift. Also copied an HB9.

UPDATE 1052z: 132 stations in 9 countries spotted so far on 2m FT8 RX this morning.

UPDATE 1254z: 144 stations spotted so far today on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1623z: A recent 2m 10W FT8 CQ resulted in no QSOs but was spotted by 17 stations in 5 countries.

UPDATE 1840z: A recent 10W FT8 2m CQ resulted in no QSOs but was spotted by 31 stations with best DX being GI6ATZ (479km). He nearly always spots me despite the distance and the fact I just use the big-wheel omni antenna. Even in flat conditions I seem to reach Northern Ireland and Cornwall on 2m FT8. In the last day 217 stations in 14 countries spotted on 2m FT8 RX. Best DX on 2m FT8 RX is S58P (1247km).

UPDATE 2022z: A few moments ago I called CQ (10W) on 2m FT8. No QSOs resulted, but 19 stations n 4 countries spotted me with (again) GI6ATZ (479km) being the best. I was also spotted in NE Holland.

Sunspots - Sunday September 15th 2019

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 0. A=6 and K=2.

14 Sep 2019

Hepburn tropo forecasts

It is worth looking at the Hepburn tropo forecasts for the next few days. Looking at this, the next few days look quite promising in NW Europe.

See http://www.dxinfocentre.com/tropo_eur.html

But who would want to? - NOT amateur radio

This was a Facebook memory from 2010.

"Our" windmill - NOT amateur radio

We live right next door to a fully restored windmill. The photo shows it this morning bathed in autumn sunshine. Its sails turn occasionally.

6m FT8

More in hope than expectation, I have QSYed to 6m FT8. Just a single spot to my 10W CQ by G3VIR (138km) and nothing on 6m FT8 RX so far. At the moment no Es around here.

UPDATE 1235z: Just 2 G spots so far today on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1334z: Just 3 G spots so far today on 6m FT8 RX with best DX G1OJS (189km). Although there will be sporadic Es openings, the main Es season is now over.

UPDATE 1800z: Now 10 stations spotted in 2 countries spotted on 6m FT8 RX today. Best DX on 6m FT8 RX was PA3PM (304km).

Church carvings - NOT amateur radio

Although some parts of our local church are almost 1000 years old, most date from the 1400s. It was designed by the same man who designed the famous Kings College Chapel in Cambridge.

High above, and usually hard to see, are some wooden carvings of animals, some of which the carver had never seen! Some of these carvings are in the photo.

MLS - something for the weekend

As usual, MLS is promoting some products.

See their website for details.

Roses-Expres (sic) - NOT amateur radio


On our recent visit to Catalonia we went on the Roses-Expres. This is actually a road train up some very steep roads. At the top the mountain the views were amazing. The first picture was on several days ago. The brochure is new.