12 Apr 2021

40m FT8 RX with the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground

 Even though the SWR was too high to TX, I decided to take a look at 40m FT8 with the earth-electrode "antenna" on RX. It is now 1849z and already 117 stations have been spotted with the furthermost UA9MA (4598km) in Omsk. This was after just a few minutes.

UPDATE 1930z: 276 stations have been spotted so far on 40m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 2107z:   505 stations spotted so far on 40m.

20m FT8 RX

At 1450z, I QSYed to 20m FT8 RX with the indoor loop. So far, after a few minutes, 41 stations spotted. There is little doubt that most daytime FT8 DX is to be found on 20m.

UPDATE 1517z:  94 stations spotted.

UPDATE 1825z:  317 stations spotted in 5 continents on 20m FT8 with the indoor loop.

1.095kHz earth-mode 10 years ago

One of my Facebook memories today was this photo of my VLF experiments with earth-mode communications. I was using a 5W beacon and was a very solid signal at 4.5km as the photo shows. As I recall signals tended to be better as frequency was reduced. 

17m FT8 RX

At 1335z I QSYed to 17m FT8 RX using the FT817ND and the improved indoor loop.

UPDATE 1431z:  23 stations in 4 continents spotted so far.

Muntjac deer - NOT amateur radio

This young one had its nose against our garden room door. 

If open, I am sure it would have come in out of curiosity. It disappeared into the bushes.

Mars helicopter - NOT amateur radio

Southgate News has a report about the helicopter on the latest NASA Mars lander.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2021/april/mars-helicopter-flight-delayed-to-no-earlier-than-april-14.htm#.YHQk6SjYrrc

See https://mars.nasa.gov/technology/helicopter .

Snow! - NOT amateur radio

Our back lawn earlier
Last week it was mid 20s C and "shirt sleeve" weather.  

What did we get this morning? Snow! April can certainly be changeable! Most had gone within a few hours.

160m FT8 QRP

Stations spotting my
QRP on 160m FT8
In the last half day my 160m FT8 QRP with 2.5W to the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground has been spotted by 36 stations across Europe with the greatest on TX a spot by IK8FJW (1653km). 

On RX both North and South America spotted on 160m FT8 as well as Asiatic Russia.

10m FT8 RX

With the improved loop, I am on 10m FT8 RX at the moment. I must like punishment! It would not surprise me if I get no spots all day. Certainly, the morning was poor with not a single spot.

UPDATE 1333z:  No spots.

Think I shall QSY to 17m FT8 RX.

Sunspots - Monday April 12th 2021

 Solar flux is 73 and the SSN 0. A=6 and K=1.

11 Apr 2021

160m FT8 QRP (Sunday)

At about 1915z, I QSYed to 160m FT8 QRP with 2.5W and the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.

UPDATE 1923z:  Already my QRP has been spotted by 3 stations on TX and I have spotted 14 stations on RX.

Stations spotting
my 160m FT8
QRP this evening
UPDATE 2132z:  23 stations have spotted my QRP on 160m FT8 TX this evening.  on 160m FT8 QRP with the furthermost DL0PF-RP (1016km).

20m FT8 RX

I have just switched to 20m FT8 QRP with 2.5W QRP and the (improved) indoor loop. I was very briefly on TX, but mostly on 20m FT8 RX. 

Furthermost on 20m FT8 RX was W7RIS (7963km) on the west coast of the USA in Oregon.  In all, 107 stations spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1904z: 251 stations spotted. Furthermost is ZS6LKF (9089km).

Ely Cathedral earlier - NOT amateur radio

As it was sunny this morning, we did a walk around Ely. The cathedral is very very old and stands on a hill and can be seen for miles, a bit like Chartres in France. Centuries back the central tower collapsed and they replaced it with the wooden octagon.

Flags are at half mast as the Duke of Edinburgh died last week.  All the flags we saw were at half mast.

Last weekend the university boat race was held at Ely for the first time since 1944.

It is a nice city.

Dalham stream - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows the view over the stream at Dalham, near Newmarket. 

This is a delightful village with lots of thatched cottages next to the stream.

160m FT8 RX overnight

Stations spotted
overnight on
160m FT8 RX
Overnight I remained on 160m FT8 RX. 246 stations including several in the USA. Furthermost was K4ODL (6722km) in Georgia.  

Stations spotting
my 2.5W QRP FT8
on 160m last evening
Last evening, I was on TX too and my 2.5W was spotted by 22 stations in western Europe.  1 QSO with a French station.  The stations spotting my QRP TX last evening are shown in the map.My TX technique is to call CQ and work anyone that calls me. I am sure more QSOs could be had if I "went looking".

As usual, using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground which works so well. 

17m QRP FT8 (Sunday)

At the moment I am on 17m FT8 with 2.5W and the tiny indoor loop antenna.  At 0725z, no spots on RX or TX. It is very early.

UPDATE 0805z:  No spots.

UPDATE 1122z: 42 stations spotted on RX.  I may try TX again later.

Stations spotted on
17m FT8 RX
UPDATE 1415z
:  Replaced the wire used on the loop with copper central heating pipe (see photo). Q is higher suggesting better efficiency. Hope the higher RF voltage will be OK.  Since making the change one Italian has spotted my QRP TX. 100 stations spotted on 17m FT8 RX today. Mostly on RX currently. See map of stations spotted on RX.

HF beacons

Thanks to the blog at EI7GL, this is a list of HF amateur beacons which is regularly updated. 

See http://dl8wx.de/BAKE_KW.HTM .

Sunspots - Sunday April 11th 2021

 Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 0.  A=4 and K=2.

10 Apr 2021

160m FT8 QRP (Saturday)

At 1942z, I turned on 160m FT8 using 2.5W and the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. Immediately, 13 stations across Europe were spotted on RX and my own QRP was spotted by 10 stations on TX.  All this within about 5 minutes! By contrast, I was on 10m FT8 all day without spotting anyone. 

UPDATE 1951z:  Amazing! 22 stations spotted on RX and 12 stations have spotted my QRP on TX.

UPDATE 2041z:  66 stations spotted on RX and 18 stations have spotted my 160m FT8 QRP on TX.

Pheasant breakfast - NOT amateur radio

My brother has tame pheasants in his garden in Devon as the photo shows. 

Here they are eating breakfast. They eat from his hand.

EI7GL on 10m

At the moment, 10m has not "got going" . The Es season has not properly started and the F2 openings are few. 

Better equipped stations are copying more than me. John in Eire is certainly doing a bit better than me! I am not sure what gear and antenna he uses. It certainly must be better than my indoor loop made with thin wire, HI.

See https://ei7gl.blogspot.com/ .

Sixbox - simple 6m AM rig

It was way back in 2009 that I designed and built the Sixbox rig. Unlike the Fredbox for 2m, the Sixbox did not use a PCB. 

It is not suitable for DX, but could be useful for local natters.

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

Cambridge quiet - NOT amateur radio

Don't think this has been on before (as I post on 365project and FaceBook too), but make no apologies if it has. 

Cambridge is usually busy with overseas visitors, but these are absent this year. Hopefully they will be back in 2022. 

The compensation is we have all these sights to enjoy!

10m FT8 RX

As yesterday (ever hopeful!), I am on 10m FT8 RX with the tiny indoor loop on the windowsill. Yesterday I only copied 2 Gs on 10m. Maybe today will be better? 

On 10m, I get RF feedback on the indoor loop even when on QRP TX. I have tried ferrite beads, but without success, so RX only at the moment. This is with the FT817ND. It works fine on 20m, 17m and 15m TX.

UPDATE 1701z:  No spots. So far today quite dreadful on 10m FT8 RX here. 

UPDATE 1925z:  No Spots!! Even worse than yesterday.

Huge flint - NOT amateur radio

This huge piece of flint was seen on a walk recently. It was probably about 30cm long. 

Sunspots - Saturday April 10th 2021

Solar flux is 78 and the SSN 0.  A=3 and K=2. 

9 Apr 2021

Counting birds - NOT amateur radio

Every month, my brother and his wife count birds on parts of the Kingsbridge Estuary in Devon. This is part of their "patch". 

Maltings/Oast House - NOT amateur radio

Originally, maltings were places where malt was made from barley and oast houses where hops were dried, both for beer making.

This one (oast house?) is at Dalham, near Newmarket. I do not know when it was last used. It is by the road and looks fascinating. I have no idea what it is used for now.

As you will see in the comment from Chris below there are  differences between maltings and oast houses. I have changed the text as a result of the feedback from Chris.

CDARC (Cambridge) Zoom talks

Every few weeks, the Cambridge club has Zoom talks. I think I have watched every one. This week the talk is about the remote station that the club has available of those with suitable licences. All talks have been excellent. 

One advantage of Zoom is both the speakers and viewers can be anywhere on the planet. A few weeks ago we had a talk from Canada.

Although clearly aimed at club members, I think others are able to watch. Who knows, you may want to join as a country member!

This week's talk is at 1900z and is by G4AWP. The link is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86735471090 .

Japan from Western Europe on 6m

As regular as clockwork, stations in western Europe make contact with Japan on 6m in June. I was reminded of this by mention of sprites in the USA on Southgate News. 

Personally I believe these Japanese openings are due to E layer ionisation as a result of noctilucent clouds.

Prince Philip dies - NOT amateur radio

Although I am not a great royalist, the death just announced today of the death of the queen's husband at 99 years of age is a sad day, especially for the queen. It is a pity he just missed his 100th birthday.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11437314 .

Oscar 100 activity

Every few weeks I take a peek at activity on the narrowband transponder of this geosynchronous satellite. My last look was the morning of Friday April 9th at 1048z. I check on the webSDR at Goonhilly. When I looked there were no stations at all active! I have never, ever seen it so quiet. 

There were a handful of stations on shortly after as the photo shows

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/ .

1st swallow seen - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday I saw my first swallow this year. My son saw one near here a week ago and they have been seen in Devon for a couple of weeks. Last year it was April 15th before I saw one. 

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

10m FT8 RX

Today I decided to go on 10m FT8 RX with the tiny indoor loop antenna. No spots yet. 

UPDATE 1610z: No spots so far.

UPDATE 1830z: Just a single G spot all day.

UPDATE 2050z:  QRT.  Just 2 Gs spotted all day.

At the moment, 10m seems a bit too high for consistent DX certainly with my loop. It opens at times, but lower bands are better. 

Sunspots - Friday April 9th 2021

 Solar flux is 74 and the SSN 0.  A=4 and K=1.

8 Apr 2021

QCX Mini

Also in Practical Wireless this month is an article about building the QCX mini 5W CW transceiver from Hans Summers G0UPL at QRP Labs. This is a tiny transceiver for HF with some very interesting features. It is very tiny.

St Helena 2m beacon

In PW today (May 2021) is report on the new St Helena 2m beacon ZD7GWM/B being copied in South Africa and Namibia. This is a sea path over water that is mostly warm, so some tropo ducts can be expected at times. It will be interesting to see if this is copied in South America or the Carribean.

Grandson at Dalham - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows one of our grandsons at Dalham near Newmarket earlier today.  

This is a fine avenue of trees leading up to the church.


10 years ago I had a QSO with my Fredbox transceiver on 2m AM as the photo shows. 

I still have the Fredbox, but sadly there is little AM still on 2m. 

In its day, AM was an effective mode on 2m. These days there is far less chatting. Apart from organised nets on FM and contests there is, sadly, less activity. Many now prefer the "rubber stamp" exchanges with FT8.

Sunspots - Thursday April 8th 2021

Solar flux is 76 and the SSN 0. A=17 and K=1.