2 Jul 2020

OFCOM cooperation

Gosh!! Get back in your seats and try to contain your excitement and joy. OFCOM has announced it is to cooperate with the Competition and Markets Authority and the Information Commissioner's Office in a joint forum. More details on the OFCOM website. I bet you are as thrilled as I am!

Sunspots - Thursday July 2nd 2020

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN 0. A=6 and K=1.

1 Jul 2020

Angry sky - NOT amateur radio

This evening the sky was very dark and it rained heavily. This is the windmill next to our house.

6m FT8

Apart from a few minutes calling CQ, I have mostly been on 6m FT8 RX for the last hour or so. The brief CQ was widely spotted by Es and 63 stations spotted so far on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1803z:  Mostly on 6m FT8 RX, although I did have a QSO just now with an SP. In all 277 stations spotted today on 6m FT8 RX.

10m WSPR TX (500mW to the indoor loop)

Since shortly after breakfast, I have been on 10m WSPR TX. Several spots from Scandinavia already received.

UPDATE 1807z: 18 unique stations have spotted my 10m WSPR so far today.

UPDATE 2037z: 23 unique station spors of me today.

Narrow boats - NOT amateur radio

We saw these narrow boats on our walk yesterday.

Sunspots - Wednesday July 1st 2020

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN 0. A=4 and K=1.

30 Jun 2020

Wicken Fen walk - NOT amateur radio

Our walk today was around the outskirts of Wicken Fen and Wicken village. The photo shows some of what we saw.

2m FT8

Since 0655z my 2m FT8 (10W and the big-wheel omni) has been turned on. 8 spots in the first 15 minutes.

10m WSPR TX beacon

My 500mW 10m WSPR beacon to the indoor loop antenna has been on since 0655z. No spots yet.

ICOM IC-705 details

The spec and other details of this new QRP radio are on the ICOM UK pages.

See https://icomuk.co.uk/IC-705/Mobile_Amateur_Radio_Ham

Sunspots - Tuesday June 30th 2020

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 0.  A=3 and K=2.

29 Jun 2020

Oscar 100 and SOTA

Southgate News has a piece about a recent SOTA activation using Oscar 100, the geosynchronous satellite between 2 G stations.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/june/qo-100-s2s-in-sota.htm#.XvoFkYjYq00

Walk collage - NOT amateur radio

Most days, we try to do a walk. The collage, by my wife, shows the things we saw on our walk yesterday. We try to vary where we walk.

It is surprising how many good walks there are quite close to home.

Skyscape - NOT amateur radio

East Anglia, UK, can be quite flat, but we do get some great skies as the photo shows. This was on our walk yesterday down to the River Cam, near Cambridge.

2m FT8 (1W and 10W)

At about 0845z, my 1W to the big-wheel omni was turned on. So far, 6 spots on TWX with the best being M0NPT (125km) in Nottingham. On RX 6 stations spotted so far with the best being PD4HW (294km) in Holland.

UPDATE 1118z:  So far today my 1W has been spotted by 8 stations with the best being G4RRA (333km)  in Devon. On 2m FT8 RX, 10 stations in 3 countries spotted so far today.

UPDATE 1351z:  So far today, my 1W FT8 has been spotted by 11 stations. G8VHI (127km) in the Birmingham area is showing up on the "all bands" PSKreporter map, but not on the 2m one. I have no idea why this is so. It happened briefly yesterday, but went.

UPDATE 1512z:  Increasing the power by 10dB has resulted in 23 spots of me in 6 countries. Best DX spot of me is GI6ATZ (479km).

UPDATE 2002z:  28 stations spotted me today. Now QRT.

10m WSPR TX

At about 0845z, my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon (into the indoor loop) was turned on. Already loads of spots from 4 unique stations. A promising start. No spots outside Europe on 10m WSPR this year.

Spots to 1250z today
UPDATE 1250z: 12 spots of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon so far today. Best spot is by SM0FKI (1332km).

UPDATE 1337z:  No spots since 1056z.

UPDATE 1602z:    A spot from GM at 1526z.

UPDATE 2006z:   QRT.

FT991A

The Yaesu FT991A, which covers all HF, 6m, 2m and 70cm has served me well. It has been used on 20m, 17m, 10m, 6m, 2m and 70cm. Most times it is used at 10W.

At this power I am tempted by the IC-705, but not by the price!

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/ft991a

Sunspots - Monday June 29th 2020

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 0. A=4 and K=1.

28 Jun 2020

So when is/was the solar minimum?

My favourite site for solar predictions still thinks we have just passed the solar minimum. This is despite the very low solar flux readings seen in the last few days. I think he calculates the minimum looking at things like polarisation changes. Pages and forecasts are due to be updated later this week.

IC-705 videos

Now this is on sale in Japan there are quite a few videos appearing including one of a teardown that looks inside.

Breezy walk - NOT amateur radio

River Cam
We have just got back from a walk towards the R. Cam. It was very breezy.

10m WSPR TX beacon

Already on 10m WSPR TX using 500mW to the tiny indoor loop antenna. Already spotted in Germany.

10m WSPR spots so far today
UPDATE 1158z:   Already 9 unique stations spotting me.

UPDATE 1400z: 16 unique stations have spotted my 500mW 10m WSPR so far today. At some point OZ7IT was getting me at an incredible +10dB S/N. Considering my 500mW to my indoor loop, this is amazing.

UPDATE 2146z:  QRT.

2m FT8 (1W)

As yesterday, I am on 2m FT8 using 1W to the big-wheel omni antenna. Plenty of stations spotting me.

Stations spotting my
2m FT8 1W so far today
UPDATE 1748z:  After a break of several hours I am again TXing (1W) on 2m FT8. The maps shows where my 1W to the big-wheel has reached today so far.

UPDATE 2040z:  QRT on 2m now.

Salcombe, South Devon, UK - NOT amateur radio

As a young child, I was brought up and lived in Salcombe, Devon. These days it is a playground for rich second home owners. It has been a holiday destination for centuries, although it is still very beautiful, In 1959 my parents sold our terraced house for £1.8k. These now sell for £500-600k to second home owners.

Sunspots - Sunday June 28th 2020

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 0.  A=7 and K=2.

27 Jun 2020

Wind and rain - NOT amateur radio

A few days ago it was very hot and sunny. Today is very different with strong winds, showers and dark clouds. The garden needs it, but I prefer warmer (not hot) settled sunny days.

2m FT8 (1W)

A few moments ago I QSYed from 6m to 2m FT8, using 1W from the FT817ND into the big-wheel omni. My signal is still between +7 and +9dB S/N on the grabber at G0LRD. So far, 9 spots with the best being by GI6ATZ (479km).

It is amazing how well 1W to the big-wheel omni does on FT8.

Clearly I am having no issues with DIG on the FT817ND on 2m.

UPDATE 1340z: 7 stations spotted so far on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1428z:  13 stations in 3 countries have spotted me so far today on 2m FT8 TX with 1W. On 2m FT8 RX  still 7 stations spotted.

Stations spotting my
2m FT8 1W to 1916z
UPDATE 1916z:  18 stations have spotted my 2m FT8 1W to the big-wheel omni today. Amazing.

60m and WRC15

I rarely use the 60m band.

WRC15 (5 years ago!) allocated a 15kHz band at 60m to radio amateurs on a secondary basis. Some countries have allocated this, but as far as I know the UK has not.  The WRC allocation is low power and the argument is the UK allocations are more generous and partly cover the WRC band. Personally, I would prefer a harmonised band at lower power to the split UK allocations which I find confusing.

See https://rsgb.org/main/operating/band-plans/hf/5mhz/

Buying new radios

When I buy radios, they usually last me for many years. Last year I bought an FT991A, which is a great radio from Yaesu, even though I usually run it at only 10W. With a suitable PSU, it can run 100W.

As a QRP man, I am quite tempted by the new IC-705 which covers all HF, 6m, 2m and 70cm, but am put off by the high price here in the UK. It also supports D-STAR, Bluetooth and wi-fi. It also has its own battery and GPS. Nice radio, but a shame about the price!

At one time it was meant to include 4m, but this has been dropped. It is not clear if this will be available in a later firmware upgrade. An auto ATU has never been offered.

I don't think it will be available in the UK until later in the year. It has just gone on sale in Japan.

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

6m FT8 RX

At the moment, I am concentrating on 6m FT8 RX with the V2000 vertical omni.  So far, mostly EU stations spotted plus 4Z5AV (3633km).

UPDATE 0958z:   186 stations spotted so far this morning on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1245z:  365 6m FT8 stations spotted so far today on RX. Although I get full power on FM, for some reason there is no output on DIG with the FT817ND. On the FT991A all is fine. It worked fine before. I suspect finger trouble, so I shall again later.

UPDATE 1635z: Mystery solved! It appears the FT817ND produces no output above 2.4kHz audio (this may be 2.7kHz) whereas the FT991A produces output to audio frequencies to almost 3kHz. When I set the audio to a much lower frequency it produced plenty of output on 6m.  I found this be accident.

10m WSPR beacon

As usual, I have turned on the 500mW 10m WSPR beacon with the indoor loop antenna. Amazingly, already a spot from Switzerland.

UPDATE 0934z: Already spots received from 5 different stations across Europe.

UPDATE 1935z: 11 unique stations have spotted me today on 10m WSPR.

VERY old photo - NOT amateur radio

This photo first appeared on my blog in 2010. It shows a man who is supposed to have been been born in 1746!

If correct, this must be one of the earliest photos of a human being ever. This is well before the French Revolution, when the USA colonies were still "owned"  by Great Britain and more than a century before the American Civil War.

I have no idea where this first appeared. As I recall, the first photos were taken in the late 1830s or early 1840s.

Sunspots - Saturday June 27th 2020

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN 0. A=6 and K=1.

26 Jun 2020

2m FT8

At about 1235z I turned on 2m FT8. I am using 10W to the big-wheel omni antenna. So far, 8 stations have spotted me and no others have been spotted. A local, G0LRD has a very useful 2m FT8 screen grab so locals can check their signals.


UPDATE 1352z:   21 stations in 5 countries have spotted me already on 2m FT8 TX.  Not a single yet spotted on RX, despite my noise floor being vert low. No QSOs. Best spot was GI4SNA (491km) in N.Ireland. These sort of ranges seem always possible even though I only use 10W and the big wheel omni.

UPDATE 1548z:  QRT - thunder all around.


6m FT8

At 1130z my 6m FT8 gear was turned on.

UPDATE 1229z:  8 stations have spotted my 10W to the V2000 vertical omni.

10m WSPR TX

At about 1130z the 500mW 10m WSPR beacon was turned on dodging the thunder risk. It should be OK for the next hour or so.

UPDATE 1550z:  QRT thunder risk.

Storm risk?

Tree at Anglesey Abbey 
We booked on-line to visit a local National Trust property this morning as the weather forecast was good. In the last 6 hours it has changed twice, at one point predicting thunderstorms! Honestly they have no idea. Now it looks quite good. All my radio gear is disconnected, just in case!

UPDATE 1112z: In the end it was dry and hot. If you want to know the weather look out of the window!

2020 - NOT amateur radio

This photo summarises most countries in the world in 2020 with few if any expecting the impact of Covid-19 to be as it is.

Valve site

G8ALB has a site that is mostly about valves. I arrived on the scene just after transistors came in and I never got to build anything with valves. The nearest I got was a stroboscope.  A VHF RX based on the 955 acorn valve, was on the drawing board, but was never made.

See http://www.tetrode.co.uk/

Folk club - NOT amateur radio

Last night, our local folk club held an outdoor meeting outside the windmill next door. The weather was perfect - warm and sunny. I guess they cannot hold indoor meetings at the moment.

eHam.net

This site is very useful, especially if you are after a review. Seeing how others got on with a piece of kit can be very informative.

See https://www.eham.net/

RSGB

The Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) is the UK's national amateur radio society.  Like all national societies, they are far from perfect. Nonetheless, they represent our hobby in the UK. They produce a monthly journal called RadCom.

See https://rsgb.org/

Sunspots - Friday June 26th 2020

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 0.  A=3 and K=1.

25 Jun 2020

OFCOM updates

OFCOM is planning to update the fees paid for some licences. See the OFCOM website.

More rally news

This came to me earlier. As before, this is as I received it so the background may make it hard to read on some screens.

Saturday 27 JUNE : CANCELLED

HOUGHTON RADIO CLUB FREE RALLY. The Dubmire Royal British Legion Club, Britannia Terrace, Fencehouses, DH4 6LJ. Doors open at 10.15am (10am for disabled) and close at 3pm. The rally is open to trade, clubs and private sellers/exhibitors. Table space is limited so it will be allocated on a first come first served basis. There is no charge for tables and it is also free entry. Donations to the British Legion Club would be welcome. Hot drinks will be available and a licenced bar will be open from 11am. Anyone wishing to book tables please contact Amanda Weston M6LXK by email at: info@cannycomponents.net or call: 07787155745.


Sunday 28 JUNE : POSTPONED until 27 June 2021


33rd NEWBURY RADIO RALLY Newbury Showground, next to M4 J13, RG18 9QZ. There is free car parking. Traders can gain access as 8am and visitors at 9am. Admissions will be £2.50. Car boot sale pitches are £12.50. The show will have a huge selling area with a display area of an amateur radio station, exhibits, special interest groups, clubs and societies. NADARS training instruction will be available to discuss courses for Foundation and Intermediate exams. Catering is available on site. Advance bookings (with discount) at www.nadars.org.uk/rally.asp. Contact by email to NewburyRally@nadars.org.uk www.nadars.org.uk.

IC-705 on sale now in Japan

Apparently the IC-705 is now on sale in Japan although I have no information about it being available in the rest of the world.

Slavery - NOT amateur radio

In recent weeks there has been a lot of focus on how coloured people are treated. This all started with the death of a man in Minneapolis at the hands of policemen. Since then, the "Black Lives Matter" campaign has gathered momentum globally.

A little while ago, I heard that only quite recently has the British government finished debt repayments for a huge loan taken out centuries ago to compensate land owners who lost out when slavery was abolished. If this is true it means many of the wealthiest people in the UK are still living off this centuries later!  Frankly, this is immoral. 

Slavery was/is evil. If injustices still exist today as a result of skin colour this is abhorrent. Until all human beings are treated equally I can understand the festering resentment felt.

Now, I am sure many people today are quite different from their ancestors centuries back. However, it does make you question the human justice in all this.

At school, we hear of the valiant efforts of our brave leaders, but rarely do we get a balanced view showing their darker sides too. We all have darker sides I am sure, but it is wrong surely to put some people on pedestals as good and virtuous people when they have dark sides we never hear about.

I am not in favour of statues being angrily toppled,  but we need to venerate those who strove for a better world and not those who had a much darker side we never knew about. Quite a few we venerate had a very questionable darker side hidden from view. Some endowed great institutions so history would judge them differently. Some of these statues belong in museums with a plaque making clear why these people were seen as great, but also their other sides.

Teach us about the past, good and bad. We need to face up to our history in every nation. Some of our past was good.  Some of our past was not. What we all need is balance and fairness.

10m WSPR TX

10m WSPR TX spots in last day
Since way before breakfast I have been on 10m WSPR with my 500mW and the indoor loop. No spots yet.

Yesterday I had 20 10m WSPR spots

Sunspots - Thursday June 25th 2020

Solar flux is 67 (even worse tban yesterday!) and the SSN 0. A=4 and K=1.

24 Jun 2020

W5OLF 10m WSPR beacon

Many years ago I bought a WSPR TX beacon for 10m from Jay W5OLF. It is still in almost daily use. I am not sure if it is still available. It produces 500mW on 10m.

In better years it has been spotted all over the world. It is about the same size as a pack of cards and is totally self contained. No PC is needed.

The only antennas here are simple end fed wire antennas. More recently, the only 10m antenna is my indoor loop.

6m FT8

At 0630z the 6m FT8 kit was turned on. A very brief TX period resulted in two UK spots, but no DX. Currently I am RX only.

UPDATE 1948z:  Today, I have mainly been on 6m FT8 RX. Just for a few minutes I was on TX. On RX  best DX were Saudi Arabia and Gulf states.

10m WSPR TX

Today I made an early start. At 0630z the 500mW WSPR beacon on 10m using the indoor loop antenna was turned on.
Stations spotting my 10m WSPR 500mW to 1825z
UPDATE 1825z: 19 different stations have spotted me today so far. And here was me thinking nobody used 10m WSPR!!

Simple pleasures - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday our son came. The photo shows our granddaughter enjoying an ice-cream in the shade in the garden.

Sunspots - Wednesday June 24th 2020

Solar flux is just 67 (poor) and the SSN 0. A=4 and K=2.

23 Jun 2020

Alstromeria - NOT amateur radio

The colourful flowers were a gift from a friend. I think you will agree they are very bright.

8m and 5m news

EI7GL's blog has some news about the 8m and 5m bands. I do hope more countries get access to these bands in the near future. In my view the Eire government has been very far sighted.

See https://ei7gl.blogspot.com/

6m FT8

Once again, I am on 6m FT8 with 10W to the V2000 vertical omni antenna. So far 1 QSO and spotted by 53 stations. On RX, 110 stations spotted with the best so far being OD5KU (3468km). It is now 1020z.

UPDATE 1245z: So far today, 104 stations have spotted my 6m FT8 10W.

10m WSPR TX (500mW and the indoor loop)

Since breakfast, I have been on 10m WSPR TX with the indoor loop and 500mW from the small beacon. So far, several spots by HB9TMC (905km) and one from DL5SFB (762km).

UPDATE 1250z:  So far today, 8 stations have spotted me on 10m WSPR TX.

Granddaughter - NOT amateur radio

This photo, of one of our granddaughters with her French grandma, was taken in a London park in 2013. Since then she has grown up a lot.

Internet linking

Quite a few (otherwise very quiet) repeaters have gone to internet linking. Locals can be quite surprised to hear people on the other side of the planet working portables close to home or to others in distant lands. I know of a few locals who have had lots of fun with Echolink and similar. For me this is not "real radio", but to some it is great fun and who am I to judge? The only difference is the internet carries the signal over most of the path, but the final hop can be by conventional radio, sometimes to a hand portable on 2m or 70cm.

Sunspots - Tuesday June 23rd 2020

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN 0. A=4 and K=1.

22 Jun 2020

Garden lantern - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows a garden lantern in some flowers. I quite like the shadow.

SPRAT magazine

SPRAT is the quarterly magazine of the GQRP club. It is a small A5 sized magazine in full colour.

Of all the amateur magazines, it is the very best. It is entirely produced by volunteers. Many times in the past I have said it would be the last one to go if I fell on hard times.

Past editions are available on a DVD that is incredible value, especially if you are a GQRP club member. It is almost worth joining just for the DVD.

Every edition is packed with good ideas for simple projects and news. I love it.

See http://www.gqrp.com/sprat.htm


Exhaustion - NOT amateur radio

As many know, I had a stroke back in 2013. Despite being giddy all the time and my voice being poor, most of me recovered and I have enjoyed almost 7 years of good health.

More recently I seem to be more exhausted and more giddy. This may be age catching up with me. I am still determined to do what I can. "Onwards and upwards", as they say!

In this situation, some could give up. That is not my way.

6m FT8

53 spots of my 10W to the V2000 vertical omni antenna on 6m FT8 so far this morning and 21 stations spotted on RX. No QSOs yet. I see Spanish stations are calling Japanese stations, although nothing from the Far East spotted here and my signal is not being copied there. It is now 0832z.

UPDATE 1005z:  80 stations have spotted my 6m FT8 10W so far this morning.

UPDATE 1310z: First spot of me today in the USA on 6m FT8 TX by W6IZT (4147 miles). So far today 144 spots of me.

UPDATE  2040z:  Now QRT. In all, 151 stations have spotted me on 6m FT8 in 3 continents.

10m WSPR TX (500mW to the indoor loop)

Since just before breakfast, I have been on 10m WSPR TX with the 500mW beacon. At first I got excited thinking 2 Germans had spotted me. Then I realised this was last evening! No spots of me as yet today.

UPDATE 1006z:   Still no spots today.

UPDATE 2040z:  6 stations spotted me today (see table).

Sunspots - Monday June 22nd 2020

Solar flux is 68 and the sunspot number still 0. A=4 and K=1. Basically poor!

21 Jun 2020

Optical communications

Because of my health, it is some years since I experimented with optical communications.

Although I have had line of sight speech contacts, my special interest was weak signal "over the horizon" communication using a PC to decode the signal.

Results surprised me as signals could be decoded with no visible sign in the sky of a signal. The photo shows my RX kit and PC on a dark night.

East Anglian skies - NOT amateur radio

Compared with some parts of the UK, East Anglia is flat, but we can get some great skies. On our walk earlier it threatened rain although we missed it.

6m FT8

Transmitting in the first period on 50.313MHz I am about to start FT8 on 6m with 10W to the V2000 vertical omni. It is now 0802z.

As I am now Txing when most Europeans are calling CQ, one consequence is I spot fewer Europeans!

UPDATE 0906z: Spotted by 62 stations, but no QSOs yet today. Best DX is a spot by RA4DX (3071km).

UPDATE 1145z: Spots received from 88 stations on 6m FT8. No QSOs. On RX, 150 stations spotted here.

10m WSPR TX beacon

Just about to start the 10m WSPR beacon (500mW to the tiny indoor loop antenna). It is 0800z.

UPDATE 0905z:  3 spots of me by OZ7IT (853km) so far today.

UPDATE 1144z: 13 stations have spotted my 10m WSPR so far today. All in Europe.

Near Riga in Latvia - NOT amateur radio

A few years ago we went to the Baltic on holiday. We were pleasantly surprised by Riga and Jumala on the coast nearby. The photo shows me having a drink on the beach in Jumala.

Old photo - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows the village where I live long before I was born and before our house was built.

Thatcher's signature - NOT amateur radio

People who thatch roofs often have a signature. Sometimes this is a pheasant made of straw. The photo shows one of a cat seen on a walk yesterday.

Sunspots - Sunday June 21st 2020

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN 0. A=6 and K=1.

20 Jun 2020

SAQ (17.2kHz CW)

SAQ is an historic VLF CW transmitter on 17.2kHz that was first fully operational in 1924! The next transmission is scheduled for Sunday July 5th 2020 and they do QSL. It is a good chance to try your VLF kit. There are some ideas on my websites. One of their QSL cards is a prize possession on my wall. The transmitter is based on an alternator.

See https://sites.google.com/site/sub9khz/software
See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vlf/vlfconv
See https://alexander.n.se/the-radio-station-saq-grimeton/saq-transmissions/?lang=en
See http://www.dl1dbc.net/SAQ/

What happens when we die? - NOT amateur radio

Occasionally, I contemplate my mortality.

At one time, life seemed to stretch on for ever, but as one gets older and friends start to die, you realise that at some point you will die too. Some have a strong belief in an afterlife. Others are less sure.

As a youth I had quite a strong faith, but these days I am unsure.  The truth is not one of us can be sure. When our neurons stop firing is that it? Do we just cease to be? What is certain is how little we know. Just look back over the last 200 years and think how our understanding has changed.

Perhaps we should not worry too much about death. After all, we all share this fate and no-one honestly has any idea.

I think the big mystery is human consciousness - just what is it that makes us us? Maybe one day we will have some answers.   In the meantime, as I read somewhere, we have Covid-19 to beat and the next solar cycle to enjoy.

6m FT8

At 0850z ish, the 6m FT8 was turned on. As usual, I am running 10W to the V2000 vertical omni. So far, I have been spotted by 43 stations, mostly in Europe.

EUPDATE 1500z: See Fred's comment below! The advice in the June RadCom is to CQ in the second period, which is what I have been doing. I am totally confused! 121 spots of my 10W 6m FT8.

UPDATE 1620z: Confusion over thanks to Fred G4BWP.  On 6m, the convention is Europeans call CQ in the first period. In future 6m FT8 operation I shall try to remember and observe this convention.

UPDATE 2030z:  QRT. 163 6m FT8 spots of my 10W in the last day.

10m WSPR TX (500mW to the loop indoors)

It is now 0850z. I have turned on the 10m WSPR beacon.

UPDATE 1100z:  No spots so far today. HB9TMC was spotted last night!! I made a mistake.

UPDATE 1314z:  Now sp ots by 2 stations with the best DX being a spot by EA8BFK (2880km).

UPDATE 2035z:  QRT now with 5 spots of me today.

Social distancing - NOT amateur radio

In the UK we currently have a 2m "social distance" law because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The photo shows my wife in the garden yesterday with an old work friend.

Visit - NOT amateur radio

As mentioned yesterday, we had a visit from one of our sons and grandsons. Here is one of our grandchildren playing the piano.

4m on the IC-705

Some weeks ago ICOM Japan announced that they would not be including 4m in the European version of the IC-705 as previously stated.

Enquiring into whether or not this would be included in a future firmware upgrade, they were unable to say.

They may have just run out of time or decided that making just one export version makes more commercial sense.

Sunspots - Saturday June 20th 2020

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 0. A=5 and K=2.

19 Jun 2020

Visit - NOT amateur radio

Today we had a social distanced visit from one of our sons and grandsons. Our grandson's favourite meal is meat and potato pie (see photo).

Eire to Slovenia on 8m - a first

Another first for the 8m band is reported by Southgate News.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/june/first-contact-between-ireland-and-slovenia-made-on-the-40-mhz-band.htm#.XuyVJojYrrc

See also https://ei7gl.blogspot.com/2020/06/first-contact-between-ireland-slovenia.html

International Museums Weekends - new rules

There are new rules for the International Museums Weekends coming up.

See http://www.radio-amateur-events.org/IMW/


Possible IARU-R1 8m and 5m proposals?

Yesterday, I think on Facebook, I read about the possibility of a proposal being made to the IARU about the possibilities of allocations at 8m and 5m in Region 1.

8m especially could be really interesting sandwiched between 10m and 6m.  Even very limited access at low power would be worthwhile as this is a band where real radio science could occur especially with Es and MS.

Already, these allocations are available in Eire and a few other countries have given special permission for  some to access 8m.

It requires someone to write the paper.

10m WSPR TX (500mW to the indoor loop)

Since about 0800z, I have been on 10m WSPR. No spots of me yet.

UPDATE 0835z: Just G8NXD (447km) spotting me so far today. Odd range.

UPDATE 1945z: 12 spots of my 10m 500mW WSPR

6m FT8

For about 20 minutes (now 0816z) I have been on 6m FT8 with the usual 10W and V2000 vertical omni antenna. So far, 29 stations have spotted me all within Europe. On RX 11 stations spotted here. Although some are calling Japanese stations, none are being spotted here.

UPDATE 0930z:  2 QSOs and 63 spots of me so far (all European apart from Canary Is.). On 6m FT8 RX 76 stations spotted.

UPDATE 1134z: Now 144 spots of my 6m FT8 10W with best DX being EA8BFK (2881km).

UPDATE 2040z: Now 338 stations have spotted me today on 6m FT8 with the best DX spot being by D4VHF (4518km) in the Cape Verde Is.. QRT soon.

Sunspots - Friday June 19th 2020

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

18 Jun 2020

2m FT8

At about 1325z I switched to 2m FT8 (10W and the big-wheel omni antenna). So far, 12 stations in 4 countries have spotted me with best DX DF6PW  today on 2m FT8(562km).  It is currently 1343z.

UPDATE 1455z: Currently 16 stations in 5 countries spotting me with 1 QSO. Just 3 stations spotted here on 2m FT8 RX so far today.

UPDATE 2118z:  19 stations spotted me today on 2m FT8.  Now QRT.  2 QSOs.

Dead fox cub - NOT amateur radio

Every month my brother does part of the bird count on the Kingsbridge Estuary in Devon. On this month's count he spotted this dead fox cub.

Rallies

The following rally announcements came to me earlier. The Ballygilbert one does not say cancelled which I find odd. Definitely worth checking before travel.

As before, this is how I received the messages and the background may make these hard to read on some screens

Saturday 20 JUNE : BANGOR & DISTRICT ARS RALLY

Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church Hall, Ballyrobert, Co Down BT19 1UM. Doors open 11am to 3.30pm. Entrance fee is £3. More from Norman Newell by email to normannewellgi3ymy@hotmail.com.


Sunday 21 JUNE : CANCELLED next date 20th June 2021


17th WEST OF ENGLAND RADIO RALLY. Cheese & Grain venue, Market Yard, Bridge Street, Frome, Somerset BA11 1BE. Doors open from 10am to 2pm. Adult admission £3, accompanied children under 14 are free. There will be inside and outside trade stalls and an RSGB bookstall. A cafe serving hot & cold food will be available. Shaun, G8VPG on 01225 873 098 or by email to rallymanager@westrally.org.uk www.westrally.org.uk


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

Pixie and Micro-80 transceivers

Some years ago I built a Micro-80 transceiver for 80m CW.

More recently I got a Pixie kit for 40m, which was very inexpensive and came with free airmail from China. It went together easily and enabled me to have a QSO with a local ham. It got put away thereafter as it was really an exercise to check out my building skills after my stroke in 2013.

On all these simple, compromise, rigs it is the receiver which is often the weakest link. They often have little selectivity and can easily be overloaded. These days there is far more FT8 activity and both SSB and  CW have suffered. Typical Pixie powers are 300-500mW. This power is more than enough to work plenty assuming you can copy the other station!

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

10m WSPR TX (500mW to the indoor loop)

Since about 0800z, my 500mW WSPR beacon has been on. Nobody has spotted me yet.

UPDATE 2133z:  6 stations spotted my 10m WSPR today. Now QRT.

6m FT8

At about 0800z I turned on my 10W to the V2000 vertical omni antenna. Spotted all over Europe by 15 stations. On 6m FT8 RX, 18 stations spotted. Although several Japanese stations were being called by Europeans on 6m FT8, these were not spotted here. No QSOs yet.

UPDATE 1025z: Now 1 QSO on 6m FT8, 45 spots of me and 107 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX with best DX A45XR (5843km) in Oman.

UPDATE 1232z:  Best spot of my signal was by VE1PZ (4501km). In all, 65 stations have spotted me.  On 6m FT8 RX 130 stations have spotted me today on 6m FT8 with best DX W7JW (6805km).

Sunspots - Thursday June 18th 2020

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 0. A=4 and K=1.

17 Jun 2020

6m FT8

As the storms seem to have moved on, I have turned on 6m FT8. So far, 27 spots of my 10W to nhe V2000 omni vertical.

10m WSPR TX (500mW to the indoor loop)

At about 1335z my 10m WSPR beacon has just been turned on. I waited for the thundery weather to pass. For now, all seems quiet.

Earlier, I took a look for my friend Ted G4NUA's 20m WSPR beacon based on the Raspberry Pi.  Even though he is quite close (15km?) there was no sign of his 100mW 20m WSPR beacon, even though he has been copied far and wide. I was using my indoor loop which works pretty well on 20m.  Lots of signals copied, but not Ted.

UPDATE 1350z:  3 spots of my 10m WSPR beacon by OZ7IT (853km). My drift is still quite large as the beacon is still settling. Drift has gone down quite a lot already.

UPDATE 1525z: Thunder and lightning so all disconnected. Quite a few spots when I went QRT.

UPDATE 1735z: As the storms appear to have moved away, I have reconnected everything. No spots since reconnecting.

Gecophone 1920s crystal set

When I retired in 2008 my leaving gift was a 1920s crystal set called the Gecophone. It works well considering it is almost 100 years old. On mine, it received BBC Radio 5. It is some time since I last tried it.

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

Granddaughter - NOT amateur radio

A photo of our elder granddaughter taken last weekend.

Previous Life - NOT amateur radio

In 2008, after many years in the empire that started as Pye Telecommunications, I retired. Over the years its name changed as did the products we designed and made.

I ended up in Sepura designing world beating Tetra radios that were widely used across the planet.

At one time I worked for Philips Paging where we made vast quantities every day in places like Mexico and Singapore.  For a time I worked in California for Philips Paging. My abiding memory of California is the always blue skies! In Mexico, the factory was very modern, but just outside the gates there was poverty everywhere.

There is a good website on the history of Pye Telecom.

See http://www.pyetelecomhistory.org/index.html

Sunspots - Wednesday June 17th 2020

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 0. A=5 and K=2.

16 Jun 2020

20m WSPR RX

An old friend, Ted G4NUA, built a 20m WSPR beacon using a Raspberry Pi. It produces 100mW. He has already had spots from the USA over 5400km. He is about 13km from me. Still not spotted him yet. I am using my indoor loop antenna.

UPDATE 2127z:  Overnight, I shall stay on 20m WSPR. At the moment, just a few Germans being copied. Hoping to copy G4NUA tomorrow early.

10m WSPR (500mW to the tiny indoor loop antenna)

The 10m WSPR beacon was turned on just after 0800z. Already 4 different stations spotting me at 0828z.

UPDATE 1440z: 19 stations across Europe have spotted my 10m WSPR beacon today so far.


Passed the solar minimum?

The indications are that we have passed the minimum at last. I hope this is so.

See https://solen.info/solar/images/Cycles_24_25_minimum.png

Ferrite rods as TX antennas

Something similar has been on before, but I make no apologies for this gentle reminder!

Ferrite rods will work on TX as long as the ferrite does not saturate and the material is fine for the intended frequency.

Low power usually means millwatts or low watts. Some years ago I gave it a try with a random ferrite rod (characteristics unknown) on WSPR with great success. To be honest, it was far better than I expected. I think of ferrites as distorting space with the effective size being proportional to the effective permeability of the ferrite.

I wonder what would happen on 7MHz FT8?

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/ferrite_tx
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrite_core

UPDATE 1344z: Well I had to try 40m FT8 with the ferrite rod on TX!! With no earths connected and no HF antennas here apart from the highly tuned 10m indoor loop, I have 8 spots already using the FT817ND at 2.5W. Best DX spot was  -7dB S/N from F5NK (936km). Highly impressed! This is the first time at this QTH with this antenna.

UPDATE 2003z:  12 spots of me today so far on 40m FT8 with just the tiny ferrite antenna. I guess the biggest problem is being buried by bigger stations on the same frequency without realising.

Gilbert and Sullivan - NOT amateur radio

Every year a nearby village does a G&S production and we usually go. This year they cannot sadly. The photo shows the production some years ago of the "Pirates of Penzance".

Museum visit (2017) - NOT amateur radio

Most weeks in the summer months our local museum next door gets school visits.

At the moment these are not possible. Hopefully they can happen next year. The photo shows one such visit in 2017.

Another shack view

The photo was taken yesterday and shows the operating position in the shack. The tiny WSPR beacon is on a lower shelf and probably not clear.

Sunspots - Tuesday June 16th 2020

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 11. A=4 and K=1. The sunspot number is still not zero, which may be a good sign.

15 Jun 2020

10m WSPR TX (500mW to the tiny indoor loop antenna)

At about 1300z the 10m WSPR beacon was turned on.  No spots yet.

UPDATE 1630z:  No spots.

UPDATE 1802z:   Spotted in Italy and Switzerland.

UPDATE 2020z:   QRT. In all, 4 unique stations have spotted  me.

Recent lockdown walk - NOT amateur radio

On Friday we did a nice walk around the village of Reach. The photo shows what we saw.

Hepburn tropo forecasts

This is a resource that I rarely use, but it looks useful for looking ahead at VHF tropo conditions.

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

Online 2m FT8 screen-grab


A station near Cambridge, G0LRD, has a very useful screen-grab of 2m FT8 activity as seen at his QTH. I find it useful to check my signal is clean and as expected. He gets me strongly. He seems to see very similar stations to me.

I still find 2m FT8 amazing. My low ERP signal seems to get spotted far and wide irrespective of conditions. I am convinced these are not aircraft reflections as these sort of ranges seem possible at any time even with low ERP. It is so easy that I hardly bother these days.

Soon, I think I should try harder on 70cm FT8 to see what is possible.

See http://82.71.9.63:8080/cap/

What is this? - NOT amateur radio

On our walk yesterday we saw this plant. It looks like a dandelion but is about twice as big.  Any help greatly appreciated.