31 May 2020

Internet time and Windows 10?

For years I have used an internet time server to synchronise to internet time so I know my PC clock is accurate for modes like WSPR and FT8. I have used the one at https://www.worldtimeserver.com/atomic-clock/ successfully. I changed the  frequency of syncs so it does it quite often. I have never had a problem before.

In the last few days 2 different people have told me my timing is way off. Luckily, I still seem to get loads of QSOs and spots on FT8 and WSPR.

Anyone else had this problem recently?

It is almost like it no longer syncs to internet time or now does it very infrequently. Any comments most welcome.

Muntjacs - NOT amateur radio

On one of our village walks we regularly see Muntjac Deer, as the photo shows. We have seen them on 3 occasions in the last 5 walks on this route.

I think these were introduced into the UK in the 1900s. They are very common now. At night you can hear them barking. It sounds like a dog and goes on and on with the same note.

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

Seen on our walk - NOT amateur radio

These flowers were seen on a recent walk.

10m WSPR

My 10m 500mW TX WSPR beacon is already working at 0530z. No spots yet.

UPDATE 1105z:  12 unique stations have spotted me so far today on 10m WSPR TX. Quite amazing.

UPDATE 1230z: Now spotted by EI7GL (594km) making the 13th unique station to spot me today.

UPDATE 1810z: Amazingly 65 unique stations have spotted me on 10m WSPR in the last few days. See table. I was clearly totally wrong thinking most people had stopped using 10m WSPR!  Not forgetting all these spots were on the tiny indoor loop in the shack!

Early start on 6m FT8 (real DX later)

6m spots of my
10W at 0611z
As I was awake early, I am already on 6m FT8. It is now 0550z. Some in Eastern Europe are working Japanese stations on 6m. Already there is plenty of Es.

UPDATE 1108z: Plenty of European and Asian spots of my 10W 6m FT8, but nothing from the Far East.

UPDATE 1307z: Just had 4 QSOs in quick succession with German stations. Lots are calling and working North Americans, so I guess the band must be open "across the pond". No sign of the Americas here yet.

UPDATE 1349z: 788 spots of my 10W so far and 509 stations spotted here so far today.

UPDATE 1930z:  In the last day, my 10W on 6m FT8 to the V2000 omni vertical has been spotted by 1128 stations with the best being UN3M (3553km) in Kazakhstan. Nothing transatlantic here sadly.

New version of WSJT-X

At the moment there is a release candidate for a new version. I think the full release of this version is very close, so I'll wait for this.

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

Lockdown restrictions - NOT amateur radio

In the UK, we have had lockdown requirements for some months now. Basically, people can go out of the home for essential shopping and exercise.  On Monday, the English government is planning to ease some of the restrictions so that at least some primary children can get back to school, whilst observing social distancing measures.

Quite a few UK scientists who brief the government are unhappy and think we should wait a bit longer so infection rates are lower and a proper "track and trace" system is in place. It is a delicate balance and no-one really knows. I think the main message is "go very carefully".

In the end this is a political decision. Personally, I think another few weeks would be better.

UPDATE 1330z: In my view we are taking a great risk by unlocking some lockdown rules tomorrow. I hope the government has the guts to really "follow the science" and not just listen and ignore.

Sunspots - Sunday May 31st 2020

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 0.  A=14 and K=1.

30 May 2020


On all bands I am now QRT (it is now 2055z).

10m WSPR TX has surprised me with 63 spots in recent days with 500mW and the indoor loop antenna.

On 6m FT8, plenty of Es, although today my 10W and V2000 vertical only got me QSOs and spots from Europe, near Asia and Africa today.

Back on 6m FT8 (10W and V2000 vertical)

After a few fruitless hours on 2m FT8 (no Es spotted here, although lots of stations were copying me, as usual, but not by Es) I have now returned to 6m FT8.

Lots of European Es from Iberia, Scandinavia and Sicily. Already being spotted by 44 stations within  15 minutes!

UPDATE 1500z:  Yesterday, I was spotted in Kuwait, Gabon and the Caribbean on 6m FT8 with 10W and the omni vertical. Will today be as good?

No 4m on European IC-705

Last night ICOM announced that the European IC-705 will not have 4m. See their website.

Maybe later with a firmware upgrade? Perhaps they ran out of time and wanted to capture market share before the competition? I cannot see other players not wanting this market. Without 4m this could dent European sales, especially at the price. It would be good if they could say it will be available later as a firmware upgrade.

2m Es?

Just after 1000z I turned on 2m FT8. I am hoping to catch some 2m Es.

UPDATE 1404z: Plenty of stations have spotted me, but no Es noted.

6m FT8 DX

Several Gs and others in western Europe are working Japanese stations on 6m. This is regular at this time of year. Sadly I am not copying these. I guess my simple system is not good enough. This is where a few more dBs would make all the difference. Imagine what difference 10dB could make.

Lots of Es to Europe and the Gulf states.

10m WSPR TX using 500mW

Overnight I stayed on 10m WSPR TX. I was surprised by how many spots there were even in the middle of the night. Even using just the indoor loop some reports were incredibly strong.

UPDATE 1402z: No less than 63 unique stations have recently spotted my 10m WSPR.

Sunspots - Saturday May 30th 2020

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 0. A=3 and K=1.

29 May 2020

Bury St Edmunds - NOT amateur radio

Bury St Edmunds is a lovely East Anglian place. Unlike many places, it's not "up itself". The main people you're likely to see are locals. It has fine Abbey Gardens and the remains of an abbey.

Covid-19 hope? - NOT amateur radio

Today is the first time I can remember when Covid-19 cases in this county have gone down not up. This may be a blip, but it is a hopeful sign.


As yesterday, I am on 10m WSPR TX with 500mW to the indoor loop. TX is 100%, but the frequency is randomised every 2 minutes. No spots yet.

UPDATE 2120z:  Amazing! 29 different stations have spotted my 10m 500mW WSPR today. And I thought 10m WSPR was passe!

6m today

Already (last 6 hours) 607 spots of my 6m FT8 10W to the vertical V2000 omni antenna. Most spots are for EU stations by Es. Over 300 stations spotted on RX.

Spots of my 10W FT8 6m today
UPDATE 2115z: 1251 stations have spotted me today so far. For the second evening in a row I was spotted in the Caribbean. Also spotted in Gabon and Kuwait.

6m transatlantic finally

Spots of my 10W FT8 6m yesterday
For the first time since 2007 my 6m signal has crossed the Atlantic. Last evening my 10W FT8 to the V2000 vertical omni was spotted by FG5GH (6691km) in the Caribbean.

I am perfectly sure better equipped stations with more power and better antennas are capable of far more.

Sunspots - Friday May 29th 2020

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

28 May 2020

TUI rubbish - NOT amateur radio

Yes, I know things are tough, but all we get are computer generated general answers saying how sorry they are.

We have now been awaiting our 70% refund for 12 weeks. To be honest, they have treated previously happy customers dreadfully. It is very unlikely I shall ever book with them ever again.

Wouldn't it be good to get an apology, not from a computer for regular customers? Our refund way before the lockdown was promised in under 5 days!! Basically my recent experience of TUI is inexcusably bad.

I also heard they had a bailout from the German government as well!

70cm activity contest

Regular blog readers will know that I have no real antennas for 70cm horizontal SSB, so I just use my 2m big-wheel that seems to match OK on that band. I have no idea what the polar plot looks like!

Usually (if I remember!) I go on for the monthly activity contest (UKAC) organised by the RSGB. Using 10W I am rarely on for an hour because of my poor voice and antenna. Although I copy far fewer stations than in the 2m activity contests, I do my best.

Despite everything, I am 53rd out of 142 stations in the AL (low power) section.

More cancelled rallies

The Durham District ARS Rally has been cancelled.

6m FT8

At about 1030z, I turned on my 10W 6m FT8 to the V2000 omni vertical antenna. At the moment (1036z) 16 G spots only with zero Es. Just one G spotted so far on 6m RX.

UPDATE 1100z: Es now evident with 37 spots of my 10W in 5 EU countries.

Part of BX6ABV logbook 
UPDATE 1322z:  About 5 hours ago I was supposedly spotted strongly by BX6ABV (9828km) in Taiwan.  Although he was spotted widely in the Far East, I am suspicious he could be a pirate. If genuine, this would be great for 6m. Parts of this station's logbook is attached.

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

As it does not use the PC, I am again on 10m WSPR TX using

500mW to the indoor loop. Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised by the level of 10m WSPR activity.

UPDATE 1101z: No spots so far.

UPDATE 1922z: Time to go QRT. 5 stations spotted me today as the photo shows.

SpaceX launch postponed - NOT amateur radio

The SpaceX mission from Cape Canaveral to the International Space station, a commercial venture, had to be postponed due to bad weather. They are trying again on Saturday. This will be the first manned launch from the USA since 2011.

Japan on 6m?

In the first few weeks of June the 6m path from western Europe to Japan opens up regularly. This is a very long way. I recall a few years ago copying several JAs on 6m JT65. Personally I think this is indeed E layer propagation but not Es. I think it has something to do with E layer ionisation due to noctilucent clouds which form about now. Signals are usually weak and there in the early morning. This is a regular thing.

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

Overnight on 6m FT8 with 10W and the V2000 vertical omni

As central Europeans were calling Caribbean stations, I turned off auto sequencing to see if I could get any transatlantic spots on 6m FT8. The last time I got "across the pond" on 6m was 2007 with 1W ERP of CW. I worked a K1 and have the QSL card to prove it. FT8 should be some dBs better than CW so with more power and FT8 I thought I had some chance last night.  Sadly no DX.

Sunspots - Thursday May 28th 2020

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN 0. A=3 and K=1.

27 May 2020

The future of amateur radio

Southgate News has a piece from the South African Radio League (SARL) saying that amateur radio is as relevant now as it was 95 years ago. I'd like to believe this, but I don't.

When I was young, radio and whole idea of talking across the planet was pure magic. One had to become a radio amateur to be able to do this.

These days we can video with anyone on Earth using the internet for free. Communicating around the world is no longer magic. As much as we dress this up, this is the reality.

If our hobby is to survive and grow we have to engage people with what is magic for them today. If we do not, I can see our hobby just disappearing within 20 years as many get old and die.

I can see fewer amateurs, a declining market, fewer and thinner mags and fewer manufacturers.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/may/amateur-radio-today-is-as-relevant-as-it-was-95-years-ago.htm#.Xs5S-yjYq00

6m FT8 again

A few moments ago, I turned on 6m FT8 again with 10W and the V2000 vertical omni antenna. Already spotted by 25 stations. On RX 20 stations spotted so far. One QSO so far.

These stations are a mix of Es and G stations.

UPDATE 1046z:   62 spots of me so far today. 2 Es QSOs so far.

UPDATE 1257z: 141 spots of my 10W so far today on 10m FT8 TX.

UPDATE 2050z: 436 spots of my 10W in the last day so far. I see that several stations in middle Europe are calling Caribbean stations on 6m FT8.  Nothing here yet. 

Dry - NOT amateur radio

This month looks like being the driest May on record. Already our lawns are turning brown and the footpaths are cracked.

24 hours on 6m FT8

In the last 24 hours my 10W 6m FT8 has been spotted by 552 stations. Most of them were Europeans by Es. Although l spotted a Brazilian, my 10W to the V2000 vertical omni antenna was not spotted across the Atlantic. Plenty of QSOs too.

10m WSPR surprise

This last few days on 10m WSPR TX have surprised me. I was spotted by 14 stations despite the fact that I was just using the indoor loop antenna and 500mW. I had assumed that most people had moved over to FT8.

Pink Roses - NOT amateur radio

The pink rose in the photo looked like it was "stuck": there were buds, but we feared these were not going to come out.

In the last few days the flowers have started to bloom thank goodness.

Once again our grass is turning brown.

Sunspots - Wednesday May 27th 2020

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN=0.  A=4 and K=1.

It still looks like we are running along the bottom of the solar cycle with little improvement yet.

26 May 2020

Roses - NOT amateur radio

The roses in the photo were in our garden earlier. At the moment, they look a picture.

Most people with roses seem to have them in flower now.

6m FT8

Although there were no transatlantic stations spotted here overnight, I see the better stations were calling Caribbeans.  I am active again now with my own 10W to the V2000 vertical omni. This has been spotted by 52 stations already and I have only been on for a short while. It is now 0950z. 30 EUs spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1250z: Several QSOs (all EU) and spotted by 107 stations so far today on 6m FT8.

UPDATE 2115z: Up to now 542 spots of my 10W 6m FT8 signals. Although PV8DX (7830km) has been spotted on 6m FT8 RX, no transatlantic spots of my 10W.


As for a few days ago, I am on 10m WSPR TX using the 500mW stand-alone beacon using the indoor loop antenna. This does not use the PC. No spots yet.

UPDATE 1249z: Several spots from Scandnavia.

Sunspots - Tuesday May 26th 2020

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 0. A=5 and K=2.

25 May 2020

What is DX?

Just now, a relatively local M0NKR was calling CQ DX on 6m FT8. He was very strong here even though we are probably crossed polarised. I have no idea what power he runs or what antenna and tower he has. He must always spot and work far more than me! Good luck to him. I hope he works plenty of DX.

For me with my 10W and V2000 omni antenna I can never hope to work the stations he does. At 1250z he was trying to work a ZF that I cannot even see!

DX is relative and hopefully we can all enjoy the hobby in the ways that give us fun.

UK controversy - NOT amateur radio

In my view the UK Prime Minister has shot himself in the foot.

Yesterday, I reported that his most senior advisor had been accused of breaching the spirit, if not the law, over UK lockdown. At every press conference the UK ministers have tried to defend this man. Most questions are about this issue. It is my view that this advisor will resign this week.

Boris Johnson has done much damage to his "stay at home" message. Even the paper that strongly supports him is asking what planet the PM and his advisor live on!

The cartoon came to me on WhatsApp.

No, in my personal view this is deeply damaging.

Wars by proxy - NOT amateur radio

The UK seems to sell arms to dubious regimes who then fight wars "by proxy". I guess the arms sales are deemed more important than the suffering. I am ashamed.

6m FT8

Overnight I did what I rarely do. I put my 6m FT8 gear on with auto sequencing off in the hope of being spotted transatlantic. You may recall that I use 10W to the V2000 vertical omni antenna.

Although PV8ABC (7832km) in northern Brazil was spotted on 6m FT8 RX, I was not spotted sadly. At 0520z I am QRT.

UPDATE 0755z:  6m FT8 was switched back on a few minutes ago.

UPDATE 1258z: 121 stations have spotted me so far.

UPDATE 2035z:  341 spots of my 10W so far today., Mostly EU Es.

Old photo - NOT amateur radio

This photo must be very old!! I still have hair and our 2 sons are still in their buggies.

At a guess I reckon this must be 41 years ago.

Sunspots - Monday May 25th 2020

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

24 May 2020


4m transverter 
One of the (many) things I promise to do is get active again on 4m. Now that there are many European countries on the band and it has become more popular with some commercial rigs covering the band this makes sense.

Some years ago I got active on the band with a home designed and made transverter, I had a few G contacts, but this was way out of the Es season and I just had a wire dipole. Power was just over 1W.

Years ago I recall working ZB2VHF with 4W of AM from university. I guess that was 1969.

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

Moulton Church - NOT amateur radio

On our walk earlier, we went past Moulton church with its famous fish weathervane.  Like many churches in East Anglia, this dates back almost 1000 years.

See https://eachurches.blogspot.com/2015/11/moulton-st-peters.html

Moulton - NOT amateur radio

This morning we did a nice walk around the village of Moulton near Newmarket. It is one of our favourite villages. This collage shows some of the lovely cottages.  Sadly the pub where we normally eat is closed at the moment.

Dominic Cummings - NOT amateur radio

The facts in this case are hard to make out in this political storm. Basically the UK Prime Minister's special adviser is being accused of going against the spirit of the lockdown rules by driving 250 miles to ensure his 4 year old child could be cared for. This may be legally OK but seems stupid in the circumstances at that time.

Personally I think he should resign as he is doing the UK government little good by diverting attention from the core issue at the present time, which is controlling the Covid-19 virus. If you cannot trust people close to the heart of government who can you trust? It is imperative that people in whom we trust are following the spirit of the law. Many of us have not seen our grandchildren in the flesh for many months. If he had been ill, he of all people would have found people close by who could have cared for his 4 year old. It smacks of one rule for you, but not for those in power.

6m FT8

This morning I decided to go on 6m FT8 again with 10W and V2000 omni antenna. Although no QSOs, my signal has been widely spotted. On 6m FT8 RX best DX are a couple of stations in Kazakhstan with best being UN3GX (5535km) near the Chinese border.

UPDATE 1347z:  395 stations have, so far, spotted my 6m 10W FT8 TX and I have spotted 322 stations. At the moment this is shaping up to be the best Es day this season here on 6m.  Still hoping for some transatlantic spots, although nothing yet.

Stations spotting my
10W TX to 1927z today 
UPDATE 1928z:  461 stations have spotted me today but nothing from the Caribbean or Americas.

Sunspots - Sunday May 24th 2020

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

23 May 2020

Table restoration - NOT amateur radio

Today, I worked on the last of three small tables sanding the tops down, cleaning and rubbing Danish wood oil in to feed it.

The photo shows me working on the third table earlier. I think this was after the first sanding. I am cleaning it with white spirit.

"So" - NOT amateur radio

Have you noticed how many people say, "so" at the start of sentences? It seems this is quite common these days. As for "like" it would seem this is the new, "um".

AM operation

These days many on the air have never used AM (amplitude modulation). Many prefer FM or SSB for chats.

Certainly, I get the impression that our national society, the RSGB, is anti-AM. They have continued not to put 144.55 as the AM frequency of choice in 2m bandplans. They continue to have the fatuous remark about AM users being mindful of bandwidth, when well set-up AM often occupies less bandwidth than FM. I also found out that one RSGB official had no idea there was a preferred slot for AM on 10m! I get the impression that they haven't a clue!

AM has its place on less busy bands. It also lends itself to easy homebrewing. To me, it seems a shame that AM is hidden away. It is not the best mode for many reasons, but well modulated AM on 10m is a real joy to hear.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/2am

10m FT8

Trying to compare 10m WSPR with 10m FT8 is difficult. On WSPR I can use my stand-alone 500mW WSPR beacon without the PC, whereas for FT8 I have to use the FT871ND and the PC. In both cases the antenna is the indoor loop.

Today, I am on 10m FT8 using the FT817ND and the indoor loop. Power is 2.5W. So far (0820z) I have been spotted by no-one at all. On 10m FT8 RX a couple of Spanish stations have been spotted.

UPDATE 0840z:  One QSO so far and 1 spot of me from northern Spain. On 10m FT8 RX, 8 stations spotted with best DX being UA9CAW (3817km).

Stations spotting me on
10m FT8 TX today with 2.5W 
UPDATE  1922z: So far today, 60 stations have spotted my 2.5W 10m FT8 to the indoor loop. With already nearly 5 times more stations spotting me on FT8, I conclude that FT8 seems to have largely replaced WSPR as a weak signal mode.  WSPR is about 10dB better than FT8, and the power level I use of FT8 is less than 10dB more.

UPDATE 2038z:   Now 70 stations have spotted me.

UPDATE 2130z:   73 stations have spotted me. On 10m FT8 RX 6 South Americans spotted with best DX spotted CE4WJK (11814km). In total, 373 stations spotted. Soon be time to go QRT.

Sunspots - Saturday May 23rd 2020

Solar flux is 71 and the SSN 0. A=6 and K=2.

22 May 2020

Covid-19 hope? - NOT amateur radio

It would appear that many of the most seriously ill patients with Covid-19 have low T-cell counts. A trial has started to see if giving a drug treatment to counter this can help recovery.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-52754280

More updates on ICOM IC-705 availability

On the MLS webpage they announce that the ICOM factory in Japan is to start full production of the IC-705 transceiver in June. This is earlier than I was expecting. Often there can be teething troubles with early production models. Those that have placed deposits will get theirs first. Should I buy one, I would wait until these teething troubles with the hardware and software are eliminated. This could be several months.

See the MLS IC-705 webpage for more details.

10m WSPR (500mW)

Once again I am giving 10m WSPR TX a go using the stand alone WSPR beacon and the indoor loop antenna. This leaves the PC free for 6m FT8.

Theoretically, WSPR should be about 10dB better with weak signals than FT8. However, it takes 120 seconds (nearly) for a transmission burst whereas FT8 is only 15 seconds (nearly). I am not sure how little of each is needed for a successful decode.

UPDATE 0930z:  Spotted twice by OZ7IT (853km).

UPDATE 1037z: Now spotted by HB9TMC (905km).

UPDATE 1300z: Now getting spots by OE9GHV (871km). I notice the HB9 is giving me up to -4dB S/N, which is massive for 500mW to the indoor loop. Also being spotted by OE9HLH and DL4TOM/RX. I am getting 10m WSPR spots from more stations than I expected.

Unique stations spotting my 
10m WSPR today. Quite a 
few have copied me multiple times.
UPDATE 1354z: So far today, my 500mW WSPR beacon on 10m to the tiny indoor loop in the shack has been spotted by 9 different stations. Definitely more 10m WSPR activity than I was expecting.

UPDATE 1436z: Just after 1400z OZ7IT was getting my 500mW at 0dB S/N. On a quiet band with no man-made noise, this suggests he might have copied me on the indoor loop if I was running 0.5uW!! (yes half a microwatt!).  Incredible.

6m FT8

Just after breakfast I turned on 6m FT8. So far, spots of my 10W from 14 stations with some Es. It is now 0800z.

UPDATE 1245z:  170 spots of me so far today.  Best DX is by EA8AKN (2985km). 2 QSOs so far this morning.

UPDATE 1510z:  254 stations have spotted me in the last 12 hours on 6m FT8. I have lost count of the number of QSOs!

UPDATE 1557z: 274 stations have spotted my 10W to the V2000 vertical omni antenna today so far. Nothing copied from the Americas or Caribbean here yet. Better equipped stations may have been more fortunate. I guess beams and height could be worth 10dB more. In the past though, real DX signals on SSB and CW have been quite good. If the path opens, I don't usually miss much.

UPDATE 1843z:  305 stations have spotted me so far today on 6m FT8 TX.

UPDATE 2140z:   No signs here of "real DX" so QRT.

Sunspots - Friday May 22nd 2020

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 0. A=5 and K=2.

21 May 2020


At about 2045z I went QRT on all bands. Not bad on 6m FT8, but useless on 10m WSPR TX using 500mW to the tiny indoor loop antenna.

TUI - NOT amateur radio

In the past we have had some great holidays in Corfu with TUI (now part of Thompson).  Sadly, we had to cancel our latest planned trip as holidays to Greece were likely to be axed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. We were promised a 70% refund within 5 working days.

10 weeks later we are still waiting for our refund!

On the BBC TUI is consistently mentioned as being one of the worst companies in this crisis. We have emailed several times and these bounced. We waited for 2 hours on the phone to be given an email that immediately bounced. They seem to be hopeless at communicating with their customers.

Based on their recent performance, they have lost a valued customer.

ICOM IC-705 latest news

On the ICOM website they just say this has been delayed until "later in the year".  As reported some days ago MLS is saying July, but I think it will be much later.  They may be having technical issues and they have the Covid-19 pandemic to deal with.

Although the price is too high, it covers multiple bands and has some novel features such as Bluetooth and GPS.

For the latest news check the ICOM website or sign up for their newsletter.

See https://icomuk.co.uk/IC-705-HF-VHF-UHF-Mobile-Transceiver/3977/1338/14/

Amateur VLF experiments

One of the great things about our hobby is that it can be enjoyed in so many ways. Some get excited by amateur TV, some just enjoy a good chat, others like DXing, others EME and so on.

When I was fitter, I enjoyed experimenting with VLF. Several European amateurs were detected around 8kHz. My own thing was "earth-mode" VLF which involved injecting a signal at home (5W) then going out in the car to see where it could be detected. 6km was possible and far further was probably possible, but my stroke got in the way sadly.

To this day, I still host the Sub-9kHz Amateur Radio page and you may get some useful pointers from my old blogs. It would be great if someone carried this forwards as it is an area ripe for simple experiments.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vlf/8-97khz-earth-mode-transmitter

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

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp/Home/earthmode. This is on my old website which is not maintained, so do not follow the links on the left that may not work!

10m WSPR

Just remembered that I could be on 10m WSPR TX 100%  (500mW) using my stand-alone WSPR beacon, whilst being on 6m FT8 transceive. Now, there is not as much WSPR activity as there was, as most people prefer FT8, but it is still worth having a go. I am on the indoor loop on 10m WSPR. Although the beacon is on 100% TX, frequency is changed randomly every 2 minute slot. As of 1400z (after about 10 minutes) nobody had spotted me on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 1448z: The last time I checked the WSPRnet database it was very slow. I seem to recall this was an issue last year. Other pages seem OK, so I don't think it is my internet connection.

UPDATE 1818z: So far, not a single spot of my 10m 500mW WSPR. Either there are few people or not much Es. I suspect the former, but it might be both. On previous occasions local G4KPX (13km) has always spotted me so I know the loop works.  Even if it is a few dB down, with Es I'd expect to get some spots.

UPDATE 2008z:  No spots of my 10m WSPR. Looking on the WSPRnet database, there was not much Es activity in Europe. Either this means most WSPR users have moved to FT8 or this was just a bad day. I'll try again tomorrow.

6m FT8

A few moments ago, I went on 6m FT8.  Everything had been disconnected because there was a risk of thunder. Within a few minutes I was spotted by 12 stations including some in Portugal by Es.  After about 10 minutes I had been spotted by no less than 27 stations despite  just 10W to the V2000 vertical omni antenna. On RX just 2 stations spotted so far.

UPDATE 1251z:  So far today, 83 spots of me and plenty of 2-way QSOs via Es. On 6m FT8 RX 57 stations spotted so fa

UPDATE 1451z:  Now 122 spots of my 6m FT8 10W today so far.

Sunspots - Thursday May 21st 2020

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 0. A=3 and K=0.

20 May 2020

OFCOM consultation

OFCOM is consulting on the use of spectrum between 100GHz and 200GHz. See their website.

2m FT8

6m is humming with Es. For a change, I am on 2m FT8 hoping for some Es. It is currently 1030z. So far, no Es evident.

UPDATE 1142z:  16 stations have spotted my 10W to the big-wheel omni antenna on 2m FT8 today. 3 QSOs on 2m so far. No Es.

UPDATE 1856z:  IT9GSF worked on 2m FT8 using 10W and the big-wheel omni antenna. 2 Maltese stations spotted. 2m Es.

Reach walk - NOT amateur radio

This morning we did a nice walk around the village of Reach. On the way we saw the flowers in the photo.

6m FT8

Last night I took the unusual step for me of being on 6m FT8 with the auto sequence feature turned off. Usually I work everyone that calls me. In the Es season this means QSOs with stations all across Europe. Last night I was hoping that the band would open across the Atlantic, but if there was any I missed it! At the moment I am NOT on any band (0600z).

UPDATE 1034z:  6m FT8 is buzzing with Es. Several QSOs already too.

UPDATE 2052z: At about 1905z I returned to 6m FT8 and worked some stations in southern Spain.

ICOM IC-705 price

MLS has announced the price of the IC-705 as £1299.95. The release date is now shown as July 2020. Personally, I suspect this will be later. As far as I know it has not yet been released in Japan, although I stand to be corrected.

For a QRP radio this seems very high, although it is a 10W radio with HF, VHF and UHF bands. Like the IC-7300 I cannot see a rush to drop the price.

The FT818 is far less than half price. In my view the IC-705 is market priced as the punters will pay. As an SDR, the receiver should be less expensive than a superhet architecture.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/ic705

Sunspots - Wednesday May 20th 2020

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

19 May 2020

Sheep dressing - NOT amateur radio

One of our local shops has a competition to dress a sheep. The sheep is a toy in the shop window as the photo shows. I think the money raised is for the NHS.

Brain malfunction? - NOT amateur radio

It is nearly 7 years since I suffered a stroke, but a few things have happened recently that have puzzled me. These may be artifacts of my stroke, old age, or not my problem at all.

On a couple of occasions I have heard people say things that I have corrected. My wife is certain that the right words were used. Short of recording the incidents, there is no way of knowing if it was me or not.

One of these was on BBC Breakfast TV earlier, when I thought Nagga had said 8pm by mistake when it should have been 7pm. The other event was a person's name that I corrected only to be told that the correct name was what my wife had said. My hearing is very good, so it is very unlikely that I simply misheard.

I am wondering if what I hear inside my head is sometimes wrong? I am now doubting what I hear. 

Lockdown fun - NOT amateur radio

One of our neighbours is having fun during the lockdown with this creature in the windows!

If you look carefully at the photo (you may need to see it full sized) there is a monster downstairs, with its head upstairs!

6m FT8

Overnight I stayed on 6m FT8. After a QSO late yesterday evening I was RX most of the time. Sadly I saw no transatlantic stations. This morning I am on 6m FT8 TX again still usingy 18 10W and the V2000 vertical omni.

UPDATE 0835z: 39 stations have spotted me so far today on 6m FT8 with my 10W to the omni. Most of these are Es. Not as promising as yesterday, that was exceptional. Only 18 stations spotted here today so far. My noise floor is low, so if they are active, I would copy them.

UPDATE 0922z: Now 42 stations spotting me today.

UPDATE 1314z: 273 stations have spotted me so far today with best DX being OD5KU (3463km). On RX 346 stations spotted here on 6m FT8 RX with the best DX being A45XR (5843km) in Oman.

UPDATE 2012z:  443 stations have spotted me today.  As yet, no transatlantic signals spotted here or spots of my signal. Today seems  even better on 6m  FT8 than yesterday. I am still waiting that elusive transatlantic DX spot.

UPDATE 2112z:  455 stations have spotted me in the last 12 hours. In the hope of being spotted across the Atlantic, I have turned off auto sequencing. With this enabled I work plenty of stations daily, but the WSJT-X reverts to RX only. Overnight this is less ideal. Usually I can be in the shack within seconds to reset WSJT-X. Today, I have lost count of the number of QSOs on 6m FT8.

Sunspots - Tuesday May 19th 2020

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 0. A=4 and K=1.

18 May 2020

OFCOM appointment

I am sure you have fallen off your chair hearing the latest news from OFCOM. Alison Marsden has been appointed Director of Content, Licensing and Enforcement.

See the OFCOM website for the details.

Wild flowers - NOT amateur radio

Today is housework day and a trip to the local farm shop for some shopping. On the way to the shop are lots of wild flowers as in the photo. The shop was very quiet.

Living in the moment - NOT amateur radio

In these odd times for most of us it is hard not to be experiencing some sort of stress or anxiety. One thing that I have found helps is living in the moment. We can spend our lives worrying or just enjoy the little things all around us now that make us happy. Luckily, for most of us in the northern hemisphere, it is spring, so any walk brings us blossom and new green. It is surprising what you can see or hear on a short walk.

Strangely, I have noticed more things locally that have given me pleasure than before the lockdown! All I can advise is keep your eyes and ears open and say to yourself, "that is lovely" or similar. You may be surprised.

Antenna ideas

With lockdowns and sunny weather, many people are thinking about outdoor work and antennas. There are several books on this, some of which are online I think. You may get some ideas from my web pages.

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

Wireless power transfer (WPT) - NOT amateur radio

As more and more people convert to electric cars, charging them may become more of an issue. WPT may become widely adopted in the years ahead. How this is done could result in the LF and HF bands becoming widely polluted.

Southgate News has a piece on the IEC rejection of proposals to some ideas. Over time, I can see this becoming more of an issue, especially if cheaper solutions are obtained from abroad and policing of what is imported is poor. You have only to think of switched mode power supplies with inadequate filters to cut costs.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/may/wireless-power-transfer-cis-b-737-cdv-rejected.htm#.XsI-PijYq00

6m FT8

Yesterday was a good day on 6m FT8. I went QRT at bedtime so missed the chances of any transatlantic DX overnight. As yet I have not turned things on (0604z).

UPDATE 0748z:  Turned on 6m gear a little while ago (10W, V2000 omni). Loads of Es already. Already spotted by 16 stations, many in southern Europe.  27 stations spotted here. Mostly Es.

UPDATE 0904z:  This is the best day yet this Es season with 126 stations already spotting me with the best being 4Z5AV (3622km). Several Asian stations spotting me today. On 6m FT8 RX 177 stations spotted here with best so far being 9K2OW (4639km). Something tells there will be transatlantic propagation later: I can feel it in my bones. People keep calling or working me!

UPDATE 0924z: Now 158 stations have spotted my 10W to the omni vertical antenna on 6m FT8 with the best being 9K2OD (4637km) in Kuwait. 223 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX. Several QSOs.

Spots of my 10W FT8 on
6m this morning to 1002z
UPDATE 1002z: Now 202 stations spotting me today on 6m FT8.  On RX 343 stations so far spotted with the best being A71EM (5190km) in Qatar.

UPDATE 1148z: So far today I have been spotted by 309 stations and I have spotted 610 stations this morning. Quite incredible for a VHF band. Quite a few QSOs already today.

Homemade recordings - NOT amateur radio

Some months ago I chanced upon a recording made in the 1960s. It is of my own voice recorded on the plastic lid of a coffee tin made with a school friend! This is pure analogue. My problem is I no longer have a means of playing it.

To this day, I find this fascinating, that just a large horn a piece of plastic or metal and a very loud shout is capable of recording my voice. 60 years later, my teenage voice is still imprinted.

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

Sunspots - Monday May 18th 2020

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 0. A=3 and K=0.

17 May 2020

More from our walk - NOT amateur radio

On our walk earlier we also saw these.

Poppy - NOT amateur radio

We saw this poppy on our walk earlier.

WRC-19 final outcomes

There is a publication available summarising the final outcomes of the last world radio conference in 2019 which looked at spectrum issues globally.  As you might expect quite a bit is about satellites.

It is clear that the main focus is now on microwave frequencies with far less on HF.

See https://www.itu.int/en/itunews/Documents/2019/2019-06/2019_ITUNews06-en.pdf

Yesterday's walk - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday we went on a delightful walk around the village of Dalham. The photo shows where we went.

We have done far more walks since the lockdown than we ever did and it has helped us to see the beauty all around us and to live in the moment. It has also kept us fit!

6m FT8

Overnight I stayed on 6m FT8 RX but no transatlantic DX was spotted.

A few moments ago (0620z ish) the TX was turned on but only Gs spotting my 10W so far today.

UPDATE 1315z:  111 stations have spotted my 10W FT8 so far today.  I have lost count of the QSOs today.

Stations spotting me to
1900z on 6m FT8 TX
with 10W 
UPDATE 1901z:  Now 204 stations have been spotted here on 6m FT8 RX.  My 10W 6m FT8 has been spotted by 141 stations in the last 12 hours! Quite remarkable considering the V2000 vertical omni used fed with low cost CB coax. Absolutely not a DXers station. All EU stations, most by Es.

DX Summit

You may find this helpful. Filters can be set so spots on certain modes or bands can be searched.

See: http://www.dxsummit.fi

Sunspots - Sunday May 17th 2020

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

16 May 2020

Dalham - NOT amateur radio

Dalham near Newmarket is a delightful village. We went for a good walk in this area this morning.

This pub is currently closed like all in this country. In the past we have eaten there.

6m FT8

Stations spotting me at 1156z
Yet again, I am puzzled. Despite just running 10W to a vertical V2000 omni fed with cheap CB coax, I have already been spotted today by 41 stations. In the same period, with a good sensitivity RX and a low noise floor, I have spotted just 12 stations. My only conclusion has to be there are far more RX stations than those on TX.

UPDATE 1156z:  Now 58 stations spotting my 6m FT8 10W so far today.

UPDATE 1855z: Now 88 spots of me.

UPDATE 1907z: For the first time in ages I am spotting more stations than are spotting me.

UPDATE 2124z: Now QRT for the night, but remaining on RX only, hoping for some transatlantic DX!

Young owls - NOT amateur radio

This is a photo of one of our grandchildren with three young owls. He is a natural with all sorts of animals.

JVC - Kenwood

How did I miss this? Apparently as long ago as 2008 these two companies merged. I had no idea!

Sunspots - Saturday May 16th 2020

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

15 May 2020

Sub-9kHz amateur radio

One of the websites I host is the Sub 9kHz Amateur Radio page. This tries to have recent news although many times it is better to look on the .io group in case I miss things. Most work is being done in Germany.

137kHz DX

Today one of my Facebook memories was this screenshot from 2011 of my 50uW ERP signal on 137kHz as received in Holland. I had forgotten this! As I recall it was using the wire loop in the garden.

OFCOM consulting on 5G frequencies

Apparently OFCOM is consulting on the use of some spectrum for 5G services. See the OFCOM website for more details.

As you know, far more base stations are likely for 5G. It would not surprise me to see base stations on several lampposts in every street. I wonder what will happen with 5G in rural areas?

5m (60MHz) in Australia

Southgate News has some encouraging news about possible access to the 5m band in Australia.

It would be good if more administrations allowed access to the 8m (40MHz) band. At the moment there is very limited access in just a  handful of countries to 8m. Sandwiched between 10m and 6m, it would be a great band for true experimenters.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/may/60-metres-moves-closer-in-vk.htm#.Xr6HpmjYq00

6m FT8 overnight and Friday

In the hope that there might be an opening "across the pond" I was on 6m FT8 overnight. Although there is early Es on 6m here (even at 0530z), no transatlantic signals were spotted overnight sadly. I had a funny feeling about last night, but I was wrong!

UPDATE 0740z: There must be far more people receiving 6m FT8 than transmitting. My own signal has been spotted by 23 stations yet I have only spotted 7. This is despite me only using 10W to the V2000 omni vertical antenna!

UPDATE 1200z: With 51 stations spotting me, today has been a decent day so far on 6m Es. At the moment the Es seems to be favouring northern Europe.

Sunspots - Friday May 15th 2020

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN 0. A=3 and K=1.

14 May 2020

Another rally cancelled

Earlier I had confirmation that the Dunstable Downs National Amateur Radio Car Boot Sale has been cancelled. With everything being so odd at the moment I doubt anyone is surprised!

Iris - NOT amateur radio

On our walk earlier we saw these iris. They bring joy to all of us.

They were beside Burwell Lode. There were two clumps about 100m apart.

News - NOT amateur radio

In recent weeks every time you turn on the news it seems like there is only Covid-19 and nothing else. Yes, we all know that this is important, but knife crime, BREXIT and everything else seem to have disappeared! It is worth remembering that news is the stuff they want us to know about. Often lost are good news stories. Sensational stories sell papers and make people watch certain channels. Cynical, me?

More on 8m (40MHz)

Southgate News has a bit more on the Irish 8m beacon. In the article it says there are only 2 beacons operational. I thought this made 3 adding to the ones in England and Denmark. I have since found out that the UK beacon is not operational.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/may/additional-information-on-the-new-40-mhz-beacon-in-ireland.htm#.Xr0ITmjYq00

Certainly, there has been at least 1 cross-band QSO 8m-6m between EI and OE. This looks a bit like the early days on 6m.

I do hope 8m becomes more widely available. It is ideal for Es and MS research. Maybe a few more should apply for special access even on spot frequencies and with power limits on a non-interference basis? This may be the first baby steps we have to take? There has been at least one 8m QSO between EI and LY with the LY getting special permission.

A very good resource seems to be John EI7GL's blog at  https://ei7gl.blogspot.com/p/40-mhz.html.

6m FT8 again

At 0825z, I again switched on my 6m FT8 gear. As usual, 10W to the V2000 omni vertical. Just 4 G spots so far with no evidence here of Es at this time. Best DX spot so far was by M0DEP (224km).  On 6m FT8 RX just M6KOG (48km) spotted so far.

UPDATE 0857z: Best spot of me is by G4AMT (485km) on the tip of Cornwall. 7 spots of me so far today.

UPDATE 1512z:  49 spots of my 10W 6m FT8 so far today. Es seems to be favouring Scandinavia so far.

UPDATE 1850z: Now spotted by 57 stations today so far. Best DX spot was by an EA8.

UPDATE 2015z:  76 spots of my 10W 6m FT8 TX today.  Every time I get my CQs answered my WSJT-X goes to RX only until I turn on "enable TX" again. Still nothing from "across the pond". More stations are spotting me than I am spotting. As most stations will be using quite a lot more ERP than me (more power, gainy yagis) I find this surprising. My 6m noise floor is low.

Sunspots - Thursday May 14th 2020

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

13 May 2020

ICOM IC-705 delayed?

OH8STN reports that the long awaited ICOM IC-705 SDR QRP transceiver has been delayed. Apparently he saw this in a post by ICOM.

Reach Port - NOT amateur radio

Most lockdown days we try to do a local walk. Today it was around sleepy Reach. The port here was made by the Romans nearly 2000 years ago (see photo).

These days Reach Lode is used mostly by pleasure boats and fishermen. As far as I know, their is no commercial traffic.

OFCOM news

Gosh, I get so excited I must watch my heart! OFCOM has announced that Jonathan Oxley is standing down. Contain yourselves. Rush to the OFCOM website for more stunning news.

6m FT8

In the hope that some transatlantic DX might be spotted, I stayed on 6m FT8 overnight. Sadly, no DX from "across the pond" was spotted.

This morning, there is already evidence of Es on 6m with 27 stations already spotting my 10W to the vertical omni as well as 1 QSO. It is 0915z.

UPDATE 1101z: 37 spots of me so far, mostly Es.

UPDATE 1450z:  Now 103 spots of my 10W FT8 so far today on 6m FT8. No signs here of DX from outside Europe.

UPDATE 2235z: I am now QRT, so 6m is likely to see the biggest transatlantic opening this century tonight!!!

HF conditions

Although there is debate about exactly when solar minimum is, we can be sure of one thing: HF conditions on the higher bands are not great.

It never fails to amaze me how some bands spring into life when there is a contest. Quite often it is people thinking conditions are poor, when the problem is often a lack of activity. How often has the CB band been busy when 10m appears dead?

It looks like the next solar peak, about 2024 or 2025 will be similar to the last one. This is far lower than the peaks in the late 1950s.  Nonetheless, 10m will once again emerge as a great DX band in daylight.

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

QRPguys DSB rigs for digital modes

Practical Wireless has a piece on a tiny, low cost, DSB rig kit that is ideal for digital modes like FT8. The article is written by Martin Peters G4EFE.

This is a QRP transceiver producing the equivalent of 500mW at least of SSB. On digital modes like FT8, this is capable of worldwide QSOs.

Being DSB, half the power is wasted, but this makes the rig very simple. On WSPR it would be even better, although there are far more people using FT8 than WSPR.

See https://qrpguys.com/

Sunspots - Wednesday May 13th 2020

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

12 May 2020

70cm activity contest

Every month there is an activity contest on 70cms. As I was using the main rig on 6m FT8, I used the FT817ND at 2.5W to the 2m big-wheel omni antenna. I stayed on for about 35 minutes as my voice was poor. No speech processor was used. In all, just 2 QSOs were had, both on SSB. A few were "got aways" which would have been worked had I stayed on longer.

Springtime - NOT amateur radio

Each of us probably has a favourite season. Mine is spring with blossom and fresh green leaves. Blossom soon goes and the green on the trees soon starts to have a summer tired look. Right now, things are at their very best. Winter is behind us and days are getting longer. This collage was from our walk earlier.

6m FT8

Today, I chose to go on 6m FT8. As usual running 10W to the V2000 vertical omni antenna. Plenty of stations spotting my 10W so far today from the Canary Islands to Iceland. Es presumably.

UPDATE 1501z: Already my 10W has been spotted by 125 stations on 6m FT8 TX today. People keep answering my CQs and the rig automatically goes RX only until I tell it to go on TX again! I just hope it opens by Es to North America or the Caribbean.  I see that Italians are calling "CQ NA", which is a hopeful sign.

UPDATE 1534z: Already loads of QSOs and spotted by 135 stations so far on 6m FT8 with 10W to the omni V2000 vertical antenna.

UPDATE 2100z: Now 151 stations have spotted me. Nothing from "across the pond" copied and no transatlantic spots of me. I keep hoping!

Shakespeare - NOT amateur radio

To many, I must seem a total heathen. Every time I hear Shakespeare, I turn off and want to sleep!  Ever since I first read any Shakespeare as a child, it has had this effect on me. The traditional view is that Shakespeare is wonderful and very deep.  To me, it is sleep inducing. Don't ask me why I feel this way. Over the years I have tried, without success, to read Shakespeare. The effect is invariably the same. At my age I guess I shall never "get it".

Am I alone?

Heathkit Lunchboxes

Back in the 1960s I coveted the HW30 Twoer transceiver. These days, they look very dated with their simple super-regen RX and 5W AM TX.

Ranges of 15km would be considered good, whereas on 2m FT8 I regularly get copied well over 400km irrespective of conditions with less power!  These Heathkit Lunchboxes can still be found on eBay, but they are really collector's items these days.

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

Sunspots - Tuesday May 12th 2020

Solar flux is 66 and the SSN 0.  A=5 and K=1.  This really is the pits! Personally, I think we are very close to, or actually at, the sunspot minimum between cycle 24 and 25

11 May 2020

Wild flower verge - NOT amateur radio

On the approach to our local farm shop there are lots of wild flowers in the verges. On the photo they are quite hard to see.

E-field probes (EFP)

It is some years since I have tried these antennas. They are RX only and can be very effective at VLF, LF and MF. Some use them on RX up to 30MHz. They are very small.

Positioning can be important to minimise man-made noise pick-up. Normally they are placed as far as possible from houses and electrical noise sources.

In the past I would have made my own but as my fine motor skills are not what they once were I have bought one from PA0RDT.

Next winter, I may erect this high up in a nearby tree and have a serious go at 137kHz and 472kHz RX. It would probably be effective on 1800kHz too.

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

10m FT8

Yet again, I have chosen to go on 10m FT8 with my 2.5W to the indoor loop. I have rotated the loop about 45 degrees. It has been on for about 30 minutes (it is now 0930z).

Quite a few southern Europeans spotted (Es) but only local G4KPX (13km) spotting me so far.

UPDATE 1000z:  Some signals are being spotted at some very odd ranges. As an example G0RQL in north Devon at 353km. This is usually far too close of Es and a good distance for tropo.

Stations spotted today on 
10m FT8 to 2035z
UPDATE 2135z:  With 58 stations spotting my 2.5W to the indoor loop, this is without doubt my best day this Es season. On 10m FT8 RX stations spotted in the Caribbean,  South America, Europe, Africa and Asia spotted.  375 stations spotted on RX.

New 8m beacon in Eire

Southgate News reports that a new 8m (40MHz) beacon EI1KNH is active in Eire with 20W and a vertical.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/may/eight-metre-update.htm#.XrkLc2jYq00

At some point, I can see some further countries gaining limited access to this band.

LinkedIn - NOT amateur radio

Having been retired for 12 years now, I have no interest in getting another job. I use LinkedIn on occasions to see how people have aged. Some have hardly aged at all, whereas others have lost more hair or gone more grey!

I get really annoyed with connect requests from people I do not know at all! One person keeps popping up and asking me if I know him - well I do not!!!

If I was actively job hunting I can understand the need for networking. As a retired individual you would think their clever software would have a way to leave me alone.

Sunspots - Monday May 11th 2020

Solar flux is 66 and the SSN 0.  A=5 and K=0.  Very poor!

10 May 2020

This evening on 2m FT8 (2.5W)

As it was getting dark, I switched to 2m FT8 from 10m FT8. I am always amazed how far away I get spotted. This evening 2 stations in Cornwall spotted me and I had a QSO with a local. Surely this cannot be aircraft as it seems to happen at any time.

UPDATE 2100z:  2 QSOs and 8 spots so far of my 2.5W FT8.

Pye Telecom PF1

When I first started work in 1970, my very first job was to convert the RX of the PF1 to 12.5kHz channel spacing.

Looking back I think this was a sort of test. It was set by Mike Gotch who I later found was G0IMG.  Mike was a keen 6m operator. He sadly died a few years ago.

I see there is a YouTube video of the PF1. For some time, I had a 2m AM receiver in a PF1 RX case. This was a super-regen design, but it worked well. I cannot remember what I did for the antenna.

UK Foundation Licence

Southgate News reports that there has been a large increase in interest in the UK Foundation licence. For a few weeks now, the RSGB has had on-line invigilation. I guess lockdown and isolation have something to do with this.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/may/get-your-foundation-licence-faq.htm#.XrgKn2jYq00

Sunday lunch - NOT amateur radio

We have just had Sunday lunch. We like Gressingham duck which is slow cooked so it is quick to cook at home. Usually duck takes hours.

UPDATE 1355z:  Although I eat meat I could just as easily do without.  A few weeks ago I had a Quorn pasty and it was every bit as good as a beef one. In the years to come I expect we'll all eat less meat.

Swift nestbox - NOT amateur radio

Although we still see swifts (migrant birds from Africa) numbers are way down as there are fewer places to nest. A friend has erected a swift nestbox and I may do the same in time for next spring.

Today's lockdown walk - NOT amateur radio

We did a nice walk earlier today before the weather changes.

UPDATE 1522z: Yesterday was 23 deg C and sunny. Now it is 7 deg C and raining!

Swallows at last - NOT amateur radio

Fully a month late, I have eventually seen swallows. 3 were seen on a walk today.

10m FT8

10m is buzzing with Es this morning. I am TXing with 2.5W and the tiny indoor loop. Plenty of stations spotted and plenty of stations spotting me. No QSOs as yet.

UPDATE 1425z: 49 stations have been spotted on 10m FT8 (after I reset WSJT-X, which as spotting on the wrong band for some reason!) and 7 stations have spotted my 2.5W.

UPDATE 1655z:  93 stations spotted so far today and 12 stations have spotted me. 2 QSOs so far (1 CT and 1 EA).

2m FT8

This morning I am on 2m FT8 using 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna. So far today, 4 stations have spotted me.

Place-names - NOT amateur radio

When I wake up early I try to think of place-names in Devon in alphabetical order. It strikes me how few there are that start with certain letters. This implies most settlements are very old and pre-date these letters appearing in the language.

Sunspots - Sunday May 10th 2020

Solar flux is 71 and the SSN 0. A=3 and K=0.

9 May 2020

2m FT8

At about 2030z, I QSYed to 2m FT8 with 2.5W to the big-wheel omni antenna.  So far, just spots of me by M0NPT (125km). and 2 other Gs. Best DX spotting me is G4MSA (222km).

UPDATE 2050z: G0LRD (David) has a very useful screen grab of WSJT-X on 2m, so you can see how things look at his QTH. He is getting me at +6dB S/N. So far, my 2.5W is being spotted by 4 G stations. See

UPDATE 2130z: 7 spots of my 2m FT8 2.5W so far.  Best DX spot is by DF6PW (562km).

Living in the moment - NOT amateur radio

One thing our strange times have taught us all is we have to live in the moment. We are rediscovering beauty all around us. Even the smallest thing can be a source of joy. At the moment swifts.

10m FT8 again

Yet again I am on 10m FT8 with 2.5W and the tiny indoor loop antenna. Today the loop is at right angles to the direction yesterday as an experiment.

UPDATE 0852z: Just G4KPX (13km) spotting me so far today.

Stations spotting me on
10m FT8 TX to 1732z today
UPDATE 1732z: Spotted by 10 stations so far today with my 2.5W and indoor loop on 10m FT8 TX.

ICOM - IC-7300 prices

At least here in the UK the price of the IC-7300 has not dropped. It seems like the UK dealers have a cartel on prices.  I am not saying this is so, just that one could be forgiven for thinking this.

By now,  I would have expected the price to be less than £1000, possibly well less. The RX is simpler. I expect the dealers are charging what people are (still) prepared to pay. This, in my view, is still too much.  More mugs the punters.

These are personal views. Maybe when the IC-705 appears prices for the IC-7300 might drop. When the FT891 is less than half price one gets funny feelings. OK, it is not the same radio - I do understand.

Have we passed the solar minimum?

At least one forecast seems quite confident that we have now passed through the sunspot minimum and are starting the climb to the next peak in a few years' time. This forecast has been pointing to an upturn for some while now. Some forecasts point to a much later minimum.

Unless things have changed, the last forecast suggested a peak similar in magnitude to cycle 24. This was quite a weak peak, but at least a peak and not a Maunder Minimum. Back in the 1600s there were virtually no sunspots for 70 years.

At the moment, it is hard to see the signs! Maybe in 6 months we can be more confident.

See https://www.solen.info/solar/images/cycles23_24.png
See http://www.arrl.org/news/noaa-updates-solar-cycle-25-prediction

Coming together - NOT amateur radio

Last night, at 9pm UK time, quite a few of us on our close came together to sing a Vera Lynn song for VE day. It was a real binding moment, even though we all stood 2m apart!

There was an excellent turn out and it was a good chance for neighbours to meet and chat. Coronavirus is a dreadful disease, but it is bringing out the best in people.

The photo shows a small part of our gathering. Sadly the picture of the whole group was very blurred.