24 Oct 2020

SAQ transmission

Earlier today there were transmissions from the historic 17.2kHz CW VLF alternator TX in Sweden. Several people tested their VLF receive capability. 

Oscar 100 activity

Every few weeks I take a peek at the narrowband transponder of this geosynchronous satellite. Although activity was higher than the last time I looked, it is still quieter than I expected at this time. When I looked it was Saturday evening in Europe. Most activity still seems to be from Europe.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

Touch me - NOT amateur radio

This tree at Anglesey Abbey gets touched often. It is near the end of the Winter Walk and has very inviting bark. 

I think they polish it!

472kHz WSPR RX

For about 15 minutes (it is now 1918z) I have been on 472kHz WSPR RX using the FT817ND and the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. No spots yet.

UPDATE 1940z: 5 different stations spotted so far this evening. Furthermost was LA8AV (1012km). Next was SM6BGP (994km).

10m FT8 RX (indoor loop)

The sharper, and more efficient, indoor loop in very hard to tune on 10m.  My eyesight is not as good and I find it harder to get it spot on tune than I did. At the moment I am using the loop with thinner wire which is less efficient, but easier to peak. In the past, I cut coax cable to tune. Maybe I should consider than again. Once the length is established in does not need to be adjusted as long as I stick with FT8.

Just one station in the Canary Is spotted so far today on the poorer loop on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1610z: The plug was intermittent on the sharper link. Now fixed.  Just a single spot of my 2.5W TX from G0VQH (13km).  On 10m FT8 RX 77 spots with best DX spotted PU5BOY (9961km).

Things getting worse? - NOT amateur radio

Recently I replaced my electric lawnmower. The battery does not last as long. Our kettle switch is temperamental after 7 years. My wife was going to replace her National Trust bag, but the new one has fewer pockets. My underpants are now thinner. My wife's coat has fewer pockets and is thinner.

Get the picture? We seem to make goods poorer so we are encouraged to throw the old ones away and buy new instead. This is a model of existence that cannot continue.

Sunspots - Saturday October 24th 2020

 Solar flux is 72 and the SSN 11. A=12 and K=4.

23 Oct 2020

Old friends - NOT amateur radio

This afternoon we met up with some old university friends at nearby Anglesey Abbey. We have known them for over 50 years. 

Mending that 472kHz transverter

At the moment, I think the IRF510 PA in my transverter has been damaged. Before I change this, which is no easy task for me these days, I shall connect everything up and check it  is not something else! It would be daft to change the PA only to find the problem is still there! 

Assuming it is the PA, that is a job for later today. I have taken a photo so that I know what was there and don't forget to connect something. Years ago this would have been trivial for me.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/mflf/472khz_tvtr

UPDATE 1021z:   PA changed and still no antenna current! Oscillator running OK, so something else must be wrong. Further investigation needed when I am less exhausted. I guess the first thing to try is running the transverter into a dummy load to check there is output on 472kHz. Another thing I can try is using the FT817ND with the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground on 160m. This measured some antenna current on the antenna current meter. If this is zero, it gives me some clues. It was so much easier when my brain was not foggy and I had a clear head. The best way I can describe it is like trying to fault-find after drinking 8 pints of beer.

UPDATE 1130z:  No antenna current on 160m suggesting something else is amiss.

Wisdom? - NOT amateur radio

This may be an artifact of getting older, or a strange after-effect of my 2013 stroke, but I seem wiser.  Often I seem to be able to "read" situations better. Now, this could just be how I see things! Quite often I say to myself phrases like, "you shouldn't have said that" or "you should not have done that". Quite often my hunches turn out to be right.

10m FT8

At about 0805z, I turned on the 10m FT8 QRP gear. At the moment (0845z) I am RX only. I understand that VK6 was worked from the UK on 10m FT8 yesterday. I am still just using 2.5W to the poorer indoor loop.

UPDATE 0901z: Nothing spotted so far today.

UPDATE 1133z:  Swapped to the better 10m indoor loop. 27 stations so far spotted today on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1811z:  287 stations spotted on 10m FT8 with the tiny indoor loop antenna today. Sunspot minimum year!

UPDATE 2147z: 318 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today on the tiny indoor loop antenna. Now QRT. 

Sunspots - October 23rd 2020

 Solar flux is 75 and the SSN 11. A=6 and K=1.

22 Oct 2020

With some of the grandchildren - NOT amateur radio

One of our sons came for a night with his children. This autumn scene was this morning in our back garden.  Another week or so and all these leaves will be gone.

Online BATV Convention (amateur TV)

The BATC convention this Saturday October 24th will be online and on Zoom. What follows is as I received it and may be hard to read on some screens.


BATC CONVENTION FOR AMATEUR TV 2020 (CAT 20). BATC CAT 20 will go ahead as an online and on-air event. The interactive parts of the meeting will use Zoom, and all lectures will be streamed on the BATC Streamer with the opportunity for questions. More details at https://forum.batc.org.uk/viewforum.php?f=128.

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

10m FT8 QRP again

Once again I am on 10m FT8 with the FT817ND and the poorer indoor loop. It is currently 0910z and I am RX only. No spots yet.

UPDATE 1012z:   Just spots of 9A6R (1542km) and G0PQO (50km).

UPDATE 1050z:   Now on TX at 2.5W. No spots of me yet. 4 stations spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1425z: 1 person spotted me on 10m QRP FT8 TX and I have spotted 11 so far, all in Europe. Now gone back to RX only.

UPDATE 2050z:  10 S.American stations spotted. QRT. 

Cactus Day - NOT amateur radio

For the last few years we have celebrated Cactus Day invented by one of our grandchildren. The photo shows one of our grandchildren working on the Cactus Day cake. 

Sunspots - Thursday October 22nd 2020

Solar flux is 74 and the SSN 11. A=10 and K=3.

21 Oct 2020

Great grandmother - NOT amateur radio

This is a photo of my great grandmother. It must date from the early 1900s. 

Baojie mobile photos inside

A few days ago I was told about a low cost dual band mobile by Steve G1KQH. This Russian site has some internal photos.

See https://www.qrz.ru/catalog/reviews/bj-218_971

SAQ (17.2kHz CW) reminder

On October 24th there will be a transmission from the historic SAQ in Sweden. Quite a few test their VLF systems with this. I have a QSL card from them from a transmission several years ago. It is on my shack wall.

See https://alexander.n.se/category/news/?lang=en

10m FT8 RX

At the moment I am on the poorer indoor loop, which is the one used on 20m, 17m and 15m. It sits on the shack windowsill. I reckon it is about 6dB inferior to the dedicated 10m loop made with copper thin bore pipe. Although I think my chances are low, I have left the kit running on 10m FT8 RX "just in case". It would be good to spot something!

UPDATE 0840z:  Not surprisingly, nothing spotted.

UPDATE 0855z:  Amazingly, EI9JF (488km) spotted.

UPDATE 0821z:  Now G0PQO (50km) and G0FWX (160km) also spotted. No real DX yet, but I am pleasantly surprised to spot these stations already on 10m FT8.

UPDATE 1358z: 18 stations have spotted me today on 10m FT8 RX. 

UPDATE 2035z: 5 people spotted my 2.5W 10m FT8 to the poorer indoor loop antenna and I have spotted stations in the USA and South America as well as all over Europe. 

Earth-electrode "antennas" in the ground

Quite often I hear people tell me they have no space for LF or MF antennas. Rubbish!  

For many years I have used my earth electrode "antenna" on VLF, LF and MF. It won't be as good as a big antenna, but it works remarkably well.  Even my wife does not know it is there!  Neither do the neighbours. 

On 472kHz WSPR I get copied in Norway most nights with less than 10mW ERP with mine.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/earth-electrode-antennas

Sunspots - Wednesday October 21st 2020

 Solar flux is 75 and the SSN 11. A=4 and K=2.

Overnight on 630m WSPR RX

Overnight, I left my 630m WSPR kit running. Many more spots from the stations copied in the evening although no-one new. My conclusion is the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground appears fine. Next job is mending that PA in the transverter. Stations logged in Norway, Poland, Italy and Spain plus many other European nations.

20 Oct 2020

Shoe boxes - NOT amateur radio

Every year my wife fills a shoe box with gifts for disadvantaged children in Eastern Europe. The photo shows a friend knitting hats and scarves to go in the boxes.

630m WSPR RX

There may be 2 issues with my 472kHz (630m) QRPP setup. 

As mentioned in the last post, I suspect the IRF510 PA device is damaged.  My transverter gives 12W into a 50 ohm load, but the measured ERP is less than 10mW. Despite this, I was able to get to Norway most nights last winter.

There may also be a break in my earth-electrode "antenna". 

As a first step, I am on 472kHz WSPR RX overnight. If this works, it probably means the earth-electrode "antenna" is intact. If this is the case, I may be able get on TX again just by mending the PA device. If this fails, I shall replace both the IRF510 and the wire in the garden.

UPDATE 1830z:  With F and DL already spotted, initial results are encouraging.

UPDATE 2130z:   I think the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground is fine, judging by results this evening. I shall leave the RX on overnight, although I have spotted far more than I expected.

Mending 472kHz transverter

Late last winter I think I managed to destroy the PA MOSFET in my 472kHz transverter. I must have had a very poor match for a very long time! Mending this is a job for the weeks ahead. In the past this has been mainly used for WSPR. 

Son and children - NOT amateur radio

The recent photo shows one of our sons with his children. 

Sunspots -Tuesday October 20th 2020

 Solar flux is 75 and the SSN 12.  A=6 and K=2.

Tuesday on 2m FT8 (2.5W and big-wheel omni antenna)

It is now 0750z.  About 10 minutes ago, the 2m FT8 gear was turned on. Already 4 stations have spotted me today.

19 Oct 2020

Primroses - NOT amateur radio

About now we plant primroses to give us winter colour in the garden. These were bought from a nursery in the village. They look healthy. 

2m FT8 QRP - Monday

At 0822z, my 2m FT8 was turned on. Once again I am using 2.5W to the big-wheel omni antenna. 1 station in Germany spotted on RX and at 0950z, my signal had been spotted by 10 stations in 3 countries with the furthermost being G7RAU (461km) in Cornwall. No QSOs yet.

UPDATE 1250z:   12 stations have spotted me today.

Stations spotting
me to 1550z

UPDATE 1550z:   18 stations have spotted me today so far.

UPDATE 2145z: QRT. In all 25 stations spotted my 2m FT8 QRP. Furtermost was GI6ATZ. 

Lesotho - NOT amateur radio

Ten years ago we were in South Africa and went to Lesotho. It was an eye opener. 

Sunspots - Monday October 19th 2020.

 Solar flux is 76 and the SSN 28. A=3 and K=1

18 Oct 2020

Dad's seat - NOT amateur radio

My dad died in 1987. In his last years he ran a job creation scheme for the National Trust and in his memory they erected 2 seats on Bolberry Down in South Devon. The photo shows my brother on one today before lunch. 

Front garden in autumn - NOT amateur radio

It seems the long summer days and warmth are over as we move into autumn. In the front garden, one of our rowan trees has lost lots of leaves and in the back garden the trees will soon be bare again.

Things seem to have suddenly changed.

2m FT8 Sunday (2.5W and the big-wheel omni)

Stations spotting my 2.5W 2m FT8 in first 20 minutes

Since about 0850z, I have been on 2m FT8.   Already spotted by a 5 stations of which one gave me an incredible +4dB S/N. This was G8TIC (170km). I suspect this was aircraft reflection. Best DX spot was by DF0MU (475km). The photo shows the stations spotting me in the first 20 minutes.

UPDATE 1218z:  16 spots of my 2m QRP FT8 so far today. It never fails.

Stations spotting my 2.5W to the big-wheel
on 2m FT8 today so far to 1440z

UPDATE 1440z:
   23 stations in 4 countries have spotted me so far today and I have spotted 19 stations and I have had 1 QSO. Who needs high power, towers and big beams? Certainly not me! Just an FT817ND and a simple big-wheel seem enough.

UPDATE 1945z:   2 QSOs, 39 stations spotted on RX and 30 stations in 5 countries have spotted me today on 2m FT8.
Stations spotted on 2m FT8 RX today

Senhaix portables

RSGB RadCom had an article on Senhaix dual band portables recently. I think these are Chinese. If the article said this I missed it. 

At the price stated, these look quite good value. They are not the cheapest, but I hope the quality control is better. My main worry with Chinese manufactured amateur products is still quality control and guarantees. 

As long as the products work, fine. What happens if they fail? My experience with Chinese manufacturers is mixed. Some seem able to answer questions, whereas others cannot understand! 

I am sure that the Chinese products will get better and that the Japanese manufacturers will get a real fright. This could happen within the next couple of years. 

It would not surprise me if some Japanese companies survive by designing in Japan, but making in China or some other low cost country. It is possible that China goes like Japan did years ago and labour costs make it no longer a low cost country.

The manuals often give you a clue: Chinese English can be pathetic! Ask yourself, if the manual is that poor how do you think they will fix your radio? Would they be interested? Some would say they are so cheap just buy a few and throw away any that fail. I much prefer not to do this.

Sunspots - Sunday October 18th 2020

Solar flux is 73 and the SSN 15. A=5 and K=1. 

Last evening on 2m FT8

Last evening I decided to go on 2m FT8. Apart from the first few minutes in which my 2.5W was spotted by 5 stations, I was on RX only spotting 13 stations in 2 countries. 

17 Oct 2020

Grandson success - NOT amateur radio

He claims he doesn't really like running, but he still wins a medal for winning his cross-country run. He must take after his granddad - not!  It is many years since I have been able to run!

Last of the dahlias? - NOT amateur radio

On our visit to nearby Anglesey Abbey this week we saw these dahlias. I expect they will soon die. 

They have been in bloom for several months.

Tenner 10m QRP Transceiver

Before the last sunspot maximum I designed and made the Tenner 500mW 10m CW QRP transceiver. Especially in Es openings this is capable of plenty of contacts. It has crossed the Atlantic Ocean several times.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/10m_tenner

New Zealand elections - NOT amateur radio

New Zealand has led the way in fighting Covid-19. Essentially it has been largely free of the pandemic that has crippled much if the world. 

They have just had a general election and Jacinda Ardern's (the NZ PM) Labour Party is in line for a massive majority. We may differ over political policies, but we have to agree she did a good job in the fight against Covid-19.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-54519628

20m FT8 (2.5W and the indoor loop)

A few moments ago I turned on 20m FT8 QRP using 2.5W to the tiny indoor loop. It is 0840z. 

Yet again, I had a problem with decoding signals and the waterfall being smeary. After turning WSJT-X and the SignaLink interface off and on, it is now decoding. I am running Windows 10.

No spots of me yet and 4 stations spotted so far today.

UPDATE 1258z:  So far today, 3 stations have spotted my QRP 20m FT8 signal. On RX 84 stations have been spotted in 3 continents.

UPDATE 1412z:  5 stations have spotted me so far and I have spotted 108 stations in 4 continents.

UPDATE 1710z:  5 stations have spotted me today on 20m FT8 QRP and I have spotted 157.

RSGB Convention online

Southgate News reports that the RSGB Convention talks are available online.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2020/october/rsgb-convention-videos-on-youtube.htm#.X4qS7LfTVkw

Rear garden 2015 - NOT amateur radio


The photo shows our rear garden in 2015,

Fungi - NOT amateur radio

It must be all the rain we have had, but we saw several patches of fungi on our walk yesterday at Anglesey Abbey. 

OFCOM and spectrum trading

OFCOM is talking about spectrum trading at 2.6GHz. See the OFCOM website for more information. 

Sunspots - Saturday October 17th 2020

Solar flux is 75 and the SSN 14. A=4 and K=1.

16 Oct 2020

20m FT8

For about 30 minutes I have been on 20m FT8 running 2.5W to the indoor loop antenna. 

WSJT-X oddity

Sometimes when I use WSJT-X even on RX the signals on the waterfall appear smeared and I get no decodes. I have selected the default audio device. Most times this is fine and I see many decodes. When I select USB Codec all is fine. The photo shows the effect. 

I use a SignaLink USB interface with the FT817ND as I have done for many years. I am using the latest fully released version on FT8. I was not aware of issues with earlier versions. 

Autumn - NOT amateur radio

Autumn is here and the colours are changing. 

October snowdrops - NOT amateur radio

I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw these snowdrops at Anglesey Abbey this morning. This is October isn't it? 

BREXIT - NOT amateur radio

If you turn on the news on the UK TV or radio, you will almost certainly hear something about Covid-19. It is almost like BREXIT is not happening. 

Behind the scenes, both sides actually want a deal, despite this actually not looking like this. Those in the EU are holding out for the best deal. 

In the very end we can expect some face-saving deal that will be appear good for both sides. A no deal outcome would not be good for either the UK or EU nations.

2m FT8 (2.5W to the big-wheel omni antenna)

Since about 0820z I have been on 2m FT8. So far (it is now 0830z) 8 stations have already spotted me with the furthermost being G4RRA (333km).  2 stations spotted on RX. No QSOs.

UPDATE 1927z:  After a period on 20m FT8, I have returned to 2m FT8 with QRP.  So far, 5 stations have spotted me - all Gs. Nothing spotted yet this evening on 2m FT8. 18 stations in 4 countries have spotted me so far today. The furthermost was GD3YEO (384km).

Sunspots - Friday October 16th 2020

Solar flux is 74 and the SSN 12. A=3 and K=1. 

15 Oct 2020

2m FT8 (2.5W to the big-wheel omni)

At about 1840z, I tried a few CQ calls on 2m FT8. Not a single station was spotted in the first 15 minutes, which is very unusual. My own QRP signal was spotted by 4 stations with the furthermost being G8TIC (170km). At the moment I am RX only.

UPDATE 1900z:  Going back on TX.

UPDATE 1910z: 5 spots of me and 2 spots on RX. No QSOs. G0LRD is copying a few more stations than me, possibly as his antenna is further above ground than mine. He is 26km from me on the other side of Cambridge.   See

Angry sky - NOT amateur radio

This was the sky behind our windmill a few minutes ago. Angry. 

QRP VLF earth-mode

8 years ago I was experimenting at VLF with earth-mode signals through the ground getting 6km with 5W as the photo shows. 

Another cancelled rally

I have just heard about another cancelled rally. Let us hope next year is better! This time next year we should have a vaccine and things should feel more normal. This year has been odd for most. 

The Hornsea Amateur Radio Rally was due to be held Oct 18th in Driffield, but this is now cancelled.

2m AM QSO - 100 miles - 10mW - halfwave whip

My  XYL was looking in our loft for some pictures and came across my mobile logbook that I had not seen for over 7 years. I have never managed to get in our loft since my 2013 stroke. 

In the logbook is my Fredbox QSO across the Channel with 10mW and a halfwave whip on 2m AM in 1976. This was one of my all-time best ever QSOs. See logbook page photo below.

Years later the Fredbox was revived and used for some local QSOs again.

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

6m FT8 (2.5W and the V2000 vertical omni)

In a few minutes I hope to turn on 6m FT8.  It is now 0647z.  If I spot anyone or anyone spots me, I shall be pleased and amazed. 

However, they do call it the "magic band" as from time to time strange things happen. 

The most probable outcome is white noise, followed by the odd G spot (from dedicated people who like punishment) and possibly the odd European by aircraft or Es.

UPDATE 0723z:  6m FT8 now turned on. No spots given or received.

UPDATE 1025z: Just a spot from G0PQO (50km). No spots on RX and no QSOs.

UPDATE 1806z:  Now QRT. With no spots at all on RX and just 1 spot of me on TX, today has been a poor day.

Interesting kits

Steve G1KQH has brought these interesting kits to my attention. 

See https://044640f.netsolhost.com/

Sunspots - Thursday October 15th 2020

Solar flux is 75 (higher than for some time) and the SSN 12. A=2 and K=0. There is definitely evidence building that we are on the up-slope of cycle 25.

14 Oct 2020

2m FT8 (2.5W and the big-wheel omni)

At the moment I am again on 2m FT8 QRP. It is now 0907z. 6 stations have spotted me with G4RRA (333km) in Devon the furthermost,and I have spotted 2 stations so far.

UPDATE 1423z: 11 stations have already copied me (no QSOs yet) with the furthermost being EI2FG (565km). Also copied multiple times in Northern Ireland. 17 stations in 5 countries spotted here.

UPDATE 1530z: After a period on RX only, I am back on 2m FT8 TX. 4 stations have spotted me in the last 10 minutes including G4RRA (333km) in Devon again. On RX 22 stations spotted today.

70cm activity contest

As usual, I entered this competition organised by the RSGB last night entering the low power section with 10W and the 2m big-wheel omni antenna. I was on for about 45 minutes making 4 QSOs as shown on the map.

Sunspots - Wednesday October 13th 2020

 Solar flux is 72 and the SSN back to 0. A=3 and K=0.

13 Oct 2020

QRP on YouTube

A recent visit to YouTube suggested there were lots of videos about QRP operating. As you know, a lot of fun can be had with low power.

See https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=qrp

Free video editing software for Windows PCs?

At one time Windows came with a free package (Moviemaker?) that allowed quite a lot of video editing. I do not think this is available free any more. What do people recommend? 

Like many, I want to send videos and video clips by email, so the main requirement is to make the videos smaller, possibly also adding titles and shortening.

The package needs to be free and easy to use on Windows 10.

Sunspots rising?

 A year from now we will look back on 2020 as a bad year. We have all been put out of sorts by the Covid-19 pandemic and solar activity has been poor. 

At last there are hints of better days ahead. This time next year the Covid-19 situation should be better and sunspot numbers should be climbing. We are in for a rough period, but thing will be better. Hang on in there and stay positive as the "sunlit slopes" await us! 

USA presidential elections - NOT amateur radio

These are getting very close now. 

President Trump has been out on the campaign trail just 2 weeks after being hospitalised with Covid-19. I have no idea what the election out come will be. The people of the USA will elect the president they want to lead them.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-us-2020-54516324

2m FT8

It is now 0756z.  For about 10 minutes I have been on 2m FT8 using 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna. Already 4 Gs (best in Devon) have spotted me and I have spotted 1 F.

UPDATE 0850z:  Best DX on 2m FT8 RX is DL6YBF (471km).

UPDATE 1000z:
Spots of me at 1000z
10 spots of me so far with G7RAU (461km) as best DX spot so far.

UPDATE 1435z: My QRP 2m FT8 has yet again been spotted in N.Ireland, the Isle of Man and Cornwall. I remain open minded on the mode: aircraft, some other sort of scatter or tropo, but I consistently get spotted at great range on 2m FT8 every single day.

Sunspots - Tuesday October 13th 2020

 Solar flux is 74 and the SSN 15. A=4 and K=1.

12 Oct 2020

East Cambs net

At 8pm UK time on Mondays we hold the East Cambs net on 144.575MHz FM. This usually lasts about 30 minutes although some stay on to chat longer. At least one person cannot make Monday nights, so a change of nights is being considered. 

One possibility is to combine this with the Wednesday night net held by the Cambridge club (CDARC). All in the area are most welcome.

2m FT8 (2.5W to the big-wheel omni)


At about 1406z, I QSYed to 2m FT8. So far just 2 spots of me by G4MSA (222km) and G0LRD (26km).  The photo shows my signal on G0LRD's grabber.


UPDATE 1455z:  GI6ATZ (479km) has spotted me.  One RX just 1 spot.

UPDATE 1612z: 3 stations spotted today on 2m FT8 RX with best DX F0EYI (465km) in Brittany.

UPDATE 2005z:  QRT. 

FT8 QSOs and power

Most of my FT8 QSOs are with 2.5W and very simple antennas. Although I own an FT-991A, I was considering trading this in for an IC-705. This ICOM radio runs 5W off the battery and up to 10W with an external PSU. This would be more than adequate for me. Most of my FT8 QSOs are with 2.5W and the FT-817ND.

Most of the time I use resonant antennas, so the internal auto-ATU on the FT-991A is not essential. Some worry about the extra loss in ATUs, but this usually just a fraction of an S-point. The IC-705 was going to cover 4m but no longer does on TX. It does not have an internal auto-ATU and is very expensive. Maybe later, when the price drops and the initial bugs are resolved.

Our view - NOT amateur radio

We are lucky to live next door to a fully restored 200 year old windmill. We can see it as we have breakfast and from our lounge.  Not many can say that!

Windose - NOT amateur radio

In 2017 I bought a Windows PC. I have just waited and waited as it booted up, installed updates and did its thing. Meanwhile my Chromebook booted up within seconds.

Now, I am aware that the windows machine probably has lots of bloatware and will need a defrag. My question is why? I am totally delighted with my Chromebook. Compared with the Windows machine it is so much better. Comparing the Chromebook and the Windows 10 machine it is "chalk and cheese": the Windows PC is so slow!

If you are thinking about getting a new PC think about a Chromebook.

6m FT8 (2.5W to V2000 vertical omni)

Perhaps I am just a sucker for punishment, but I decided to try 6m FT8 again today. The gear - FT817ND and the V2000 vertical with cheap CB coax - was turned on at 0811z. 

UPDATE 1108z: Just 3 spots of me so far and 1 spot of others here today on 6m FT8. All are Gs.

UPDATE 1402z:  Nothing further on TX so far today. No Es here. Just a couple of G stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX.

Sunspots - Monday October 12th 2020

 Solar flux is 73 and the SSN 26. A=3 and K=0.

11 Oct 2020

2m FT8 (2.5W to the big-wheel omni)

At 1845z, I QSYed to 2m FT8. Already spotted by 6 G stations, but nothing yet spotted on  RX.

Stations spotting my 2.5W
to the big-wheel tonight 
UPDATE 2045z :  12 stations have spotted me and I have spotted some. 

6m FT8 (2.5W and V2000 vertical omni)

It is now 0857z and I have been on for about 15 minutes. No stations copied on RX, but G3XDV (45km) has already spotted me. No 6m FT8 QSOs yet. 

UPDATE 1845z: 7 stations spotted on RX and 6 stations today - all G.

Operating on 6m

Some call 6m "The Magic Band". This is for good reasons as at times almost every sort of propagation is possible. 

Sometimes it behaves as a good HF band, but most of the time it behaves as a VHF band. With sporadic-E (Es) one can work all of Europe from the UK with simple antennas and low power on SSB.  

FT8 has transformed operation on 6m. Most DX is worked on FT8 these days. Often all you hear is white noise.  Serious 6m operators run full power and big beams on big towers. There is no doubt these will help, but surprising fun can be had with simple gear.

Even in years of very low sunspots some remarkable DX has been worked. Some of this may be due to multi-hop Es, but I think some other form of E layer propagation is involved for some of these contacts.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/6m_op

Fungi - NOT amateur radio

This photo appeared on a Facebook group recently. It shows a toadstool that I am not familiar with. 

OK, the jokes were on Facebook!

Sunspots - Sunday October 11th 2020

 Solar flux is 74 and the SSN 26. A=2 and K=0.

10 Oct 2020

Covid-19 humour - NOT amateur radio

There are lots of jokes doing the rounds on the Internet based loosely on Covid-19. You may have seen this before.  

Certainly mask wearing with glasses can be a problem. Luckily, I am at an age where my short-sightedness has improved that glasses are less necessary.

VHF scatter?

Stations spotting my
2.5W 2m FT8 to the
big-wheel omni today

The perceived wisdom is that long distance VHF scatter communications is due to aircraft. Time and again I have questioned this as I seem to get spotted at great distances at almost any time with 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna on 2m using FT8.

FT8 works with signals that are weaker than SSB and CW and I wonder if we are able to make use of some other scatter mode? Either that or there are so many planes in the air that the time of day doesn't matter. Somehow the latter doesn't seem likely as at the beginning of lockdown I could still get as many distant spots and QSOs on QRP 2m FT8.

It would be interesting to hear the views of others.

Yet again on 2m FT8 (2.5W to the big-wheel omni)

At about 1015z, my 2m FT8 kit was turned on. So far, 2 stations are spotting me, with best DX a spot by F5APQ (180km). On RX just G3PFM (237km) so far and no QSOs.

David G0LRD, on the far side of Cambridge, has a screen grab showing what he copies on 2m FT8. This is quite useful to me as I can check all is OK. Dave kindly erected my 2m antenna some years ago.


UPDATE 1215z:  Already spotted by 7 stations with best DX spot being by GI6ATZ (479km). On RX 11 stations spotted so far.  Just 1 QSO.

Yesterday's walk - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows our walk yesterday.  Autumn coming. Nice to see milk and orange juice deliveries on the doorstep.

Family history - NOT amateur radio

I have now added a page on my family history back to the 1400s. Luckily the Lapthorns didn't move very far. 

We were probably in the South Hams thousands of years ago. At some point I shall try to get further back in time.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/history-1 

Sunspots - Saturday October 10th 2020

Solar flux is 73 and the SSN 24 (sunspots at last!).  A=2 and K=1.

9 Oct 2020

Anglesey Abbey, Wednesday - NOT amateur radio


Things are starting to change as trees start to take on their autumnal colours. Most are still green, but in a few weeks most will have their autumnal shades. Then the winds will blow and most will be leafless until the spring when the cycle starts again.

Butterfly - NOT amateur radio

This butterfly was making the most of the autumn sunshine when we went for a walk this morning in the nearby village of Reach.

2m FT8 (2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna)

Since 0816z I have again been on 2m FT8. Already spotted by 3 stations in 2 countries (at 0824z) with best DX F5APQ (180km) near Calais, France. Nothing yet on RX and no QSOs. 

UPDATE 1240z:  7 stations have spotted me and on RX 13 stations in 4 countries spotted with the best being DF6IW (612km).

UPDATE 1729z: 12 spots of my 2.5W 2m FT8 in 4 countries including Germany, France and Northern Ireland. Best DX was a spot by GI6ATZ (479km). QRP seems perfectly adequate.

"Your money or your life" - NOT amateur radio

If, like me, you were brought up on cowboy films on TV, this title will mean something. The mask was a favourite of baddies in the 1950s.  

It shows me last week in Norwich cathedral wearing a Covid-19 mask. 

I shall be glad when all this is over and we return to something more normal.

Revive Our World - NOT amateur radio

Usually, I am not a great fan of organised petitions, but I have just signed one and you may want to follow.  

Some things are certain: 

  • Most countries across the planet are going to go into recession as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • This is a great opportunity to hit the "reset" button and build a fairer, more sustainable, cleaner, world.
  • The people of the world need to be fed.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in the UK has a petition running to make clear to the government just how we feel. In the past we have largely thought about how we can exploit the resources of our planet. In the future we will almost certainly be better off if we work with nature and not against it.  Like many, I am not a green activist, but can see the path we are on cannot be sustained.  

Think about signing it.

See also https://e-activist.com/page/67273/data/1?ea.tracking.id=Email_Share

Sunspots - Friday October 9th 2020

 Solar flux is 72 and the SSN 0. A=3 and K=0.

8 Oct 2020

Fairy toadstools - NOT amateur radio

These were seen on our walk yesterday, no doubt encouraged by the wet weather we have had over the last few days.

Draconid meteor shower

I have never heard of this and have no idea how it affects VHF radio propagation. The more common meteor showers lead to enhanced pings and some real DX being worked on the VHF bands, especially with weak signal modes. 

It peaked last night, but should still be good tonight. Often MS signals are strong, but short lived. Certain modes are optimised for this sort of signal.  Even with very simple antennas I have copied some excellent DX via meteor trails on 2m.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-54450553 .

RSGB Convention

This is online only this year - October  9th-11th. See the RSGB website for more details.

See http://rsgb.org/main/news/rallies/

Crystal sets

Some years ago I tried my hand at crystal set DXing on HF. Results surprised me. I was even able to envelope detect some SSB amateur signals on 80m. 

Broadcast stations from their originating countries (many use relays) were copied including Australia and India. The only power is that from the TX with no batteries or other source of energy at the RX.

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

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

The cycle of life - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday, we did a nice walk in the autumn sunshine at Anglesey Abbey. We mainly went there to see one particular tree that is changing colour. At the moment it is a lovely red.

On the way we saw a family (actually 2 families) with young children under school age. We were asked if we wanted 4 noisy kids!  We said, "done that, got the tee shirt". We also said enjoy them as they grow up quickly.

Each generation has its own issues, but life goes in a cycle.

Wind pump - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows the wind pump at Wicken Fen used to pump water. 

2m FT8

Since about 0737z I have been on 2m FT8 with 2.5W to the big-wheel omni. My signal has been copied by  4 stations with best DX a spot by G7RAU (461km). On RX 4 stations with best DX spotted DL6YBF (461km).

Sunspots - Thursday October 8th 2020

 Solar flux is 71 and the SSN 0. A=5 and K=0.

2m activity contest - nearly forgot!

On Tuesday evening the RSGB held its 2m activity contest. This runs for 2.5 hours from 1900z. At 2100z I checked my mail and saw I had a contest alert. I had totally forgotten! 

Luckily  I was able to go on for the last 28 minutes working the stations shown on the map with 10W and the big-wheel omni antenna.

7 Oct 2020

Covid-19 vaccines - NOT amateur radio

There is a worldwide race on to find vaccines that overcome Covid-19. In most countries of the world this disease is causing widespread issues and an effective and safe vaccine is urgently needed.  Most expect a vaccine to be widely available my mid 2021. It is possible there may be limited vaccine availability late this year. 

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51665497

USA presidents - NOT amateur radio

Although I have no intention of getting involved with the USA presidential election in a few weeks time, I feel obliged to point out a couple of things. In the last few years I have spoken with many people about US politics. The following observations have been made:

  • How come the best you can find is old men to lead you? Trump is 74 and Biden 77 I believe. Is there no-one younger who can do the job?
  • Everyone, and I mean everyone, I have spoken with thinks Trump is thick and cannot understand how he was chosen as the US president. In the rest of the world he is the butt of many jokes.

Ducks - NOT amateur radio

When we walked past yesterday there were 4 ducks sleeping on this footbridge. One flew away and I only managed a photo of the 3 that remained.

2m FT8 (2.5W to the big-wheel omni antenna)

Since 0825z I have been on 2m FT8. Nothing yet spotted on RX , but 3 G spots of me so far. No QSOs yet.

UPDATE 0920z:  4 G spots of me so far and nothing spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1022z:  Still just 4 spots of me this morning. The grabber at G0LRD (26km) is useful as it gives me an indication of my signal cleanliness and 2m FT8 activity.  See .

Stations spotted
on RX

Stations spotting
me on TX
UPDATE 1801z: Amazing. Even an FT817ND and a big-wheel omni I manage to get incredible ranges on 2m FT8.