25 Feb 2021

Dubai princesses - NOT amateur radio

I am suspicious of the UK's motives. 

Dubai is an important trade partner of the UK and the sheikh in charge there is friend of the Queen. In the UK race industry he is high up and he is reported, by the BBC, to be a big UK landowner. 

It rather looks like we are choosing to look away.

Recently it was reported that the sheikh's daughter Latifa was kidnapped. 20 years ago his daughter Shamsa was reportedly kidnapped in Cambridge and returned to Dubai.

Now, I have no way of knowing the truth in all this. What I will say is this: nobody should be above the law and I hope the UK government and Queen will not want trade done with any country that does not have basic human rights. If we have to lose valuable contracts, so be it.

In the case of Dubai, all the ruler has to do is allow his daughters to chose their own futures. If he is not prepared to do this all trade should stop.

I hope the UK government does not put trade above people. We seem to like to trade with Saudi Arabia and have proxi wars fought on our behalf. We like to export our "dirty" industries to places like China.

Need I go on?

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-56188745

The UK spring budget - NOT amateur radio

Although interest rates are at historical lows - basically you earn nothing now by saving - the UK is in huge debt as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The focus in the short term is economic recovery and this will no doubt be the focus of the UK budget next week.

In the longer term, debts have to be repaid and interest rates will go up. The UK chancellor has a difficult job now and in the years ahead. I hope he can come up with a fair way.

60m FT8 RX

Using the information supplied by Keith, I am looking on 5.357MHz FT8 RX using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. I have been looking since 1205z. Nothing spotted yet.

UPDATE 1426z:  8 stations in 5 countries spotted.

UPDATE 1528z:  22 stations in 7 countries spotted.  So far, all Europeans.

40m FT8 overnight

 Using the earth-electrode "antenna" I stayed on 40m FT8 RX overnight. In all, 601 stations were spotted here. 

Decay - NOT amateur radio

These were bought on the same day last week 

Sunspots - Thursday February 25th 2021

Solar flux is 81 and the SSN 33. A=21 and K=1.

24 Feb 2021

40m FT8 RX (Wednesday)

 As WSJT-X does not list the 60m FT8 frequency, I decided to give 40m FT8 a go with the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.  At this high a frequency, I think my theory of a "loop in the ground" is unlikely to hold. The SWR is quite high, but I am still copying loads of stations. Already, within just a few minutes, 104 stations spotted.

UPDATE 1945z:  So far this evening, 210 stations spotted on 40m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 2220z:  364 stations in 4 continents spotted so far on 40m FT8 RX. I am amazed this "antenna" works at all at 40m.

Winter flowering primroses - NOT amateur radio

Over winter, we plant primroses to give us winter colour. This year, we bought the plants from the nursery in the village rather than from the nursery in the next village. They were less expensive and are very healthy plants. We are very pleased and will use them again.

Change of fortunes - NOT amateur radio

Ghislaine Maxwell is accused of helping sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who died in a prison cell in 2019, with procuring under-age girls for sex. She denies this and is trying to get bail. 

Her lifestyle in prison must be a million miles from the lifestyle she was used to. She is the daughter of media mogul Robert Maxwell. Epstein was well connected.

If convicted, she could spend 35 years in jail according to the BBC.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-56181754

15m FT8 QRP (Wednesday)

At about 1013z, I turned on 15m FT8 using 2.5W and the indoor loop on the shack windowsill. No spots yet at 1022z. To be honest, it sounds very quiet. Either HF is poor or the band has not yet "woken up".

UPDATE 1328z: 7 stations have been spotted on RX and 3 stations have spotted me on 15m FT8 QRP TX with the furthermost now in Brazil on RX.

UPDATE 1424z: 11 stations spotted on RX with the furthermost YC1JEL (11777km). In QRP TX, still 3 stations spotting me.

UPDATE 1812z:  Today has been quite poor on 15m. There were no USA stations spotted and just 1 in S.America. Soon be time to go QRT.

2m scatter using QRP FT8

My recent article in RSGB RadCom postulates that FT8 is opening up scatter for QRP set ups.

This becomes possible at any time with really low ERPs. Unlike aircraft scatter, this seems possible whenever I go on suggesting it is troposcatter.  DX is possible without lifts!

My ERP is probably less than 5W. I use the FT817ND and a big-wheel omni. Ranges over 450km are possible every day, even with my set up! It has totally transformed 2m possibilities for me: no towers, no beams, QRP ..... and DX!  GI and EI are possible every day from JO02 (East Anglia) even with my QRP.

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

Rotten - NOT amateur radio

We saw this rotten tree on our walk yesterday at Wicken Fen. 

When? - NOT amateur radio

There is a guided busway from Cambridge to St Ives which runs out along special tracks on the route of the old railway. The bus can travel fast and traffic free. It is a very good route past lakes.

We are looking forward to doing this again soon. 

Sunspots - Wednesday February 24th 2021

 Solar flux is 78 and the SSN 31. A=12 and K=3.

23 Feb 2021

472kHz WSPR RX

At about 1930z, I turned on 472kHz WSPR RX using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. So far, no spots. It is now 1952z. 

I notice the noise floor on 472kHz with the PC charger on was S8, whereas with the charger off it is S2. As WSPR bandwidth is only about 6Hz, I wonder what difference this makes? I am no theory man, so I do not know the answer.

UPDATE 2210z:  5 different stations spotted this evening with the furthermost LA8AV (1012km). I shall shortly be turning off the gear.

Cat problems - NOT amateur radio

Last night, my wife had a video chat with one of our grandchildren. During the chat his cat decided to jump to his mother's highest shelf with her most valuable pottery.  
I think things ended without disaster. 

Walk - NOT amateur radio

We have just got back from a walk around Wicken Fen. Windy and sunny. 

ICOM - IC-705: still tempted

The price of this rig, like the IC-7300 and IC-9700, is not going to fall any time soon. 

Clearly, if you want one from a UK dealer in the next few years it is very unlikely that prices will fall. It is definitely my kind of radio, but I do not like the price.  I like the connectivity options and the GPS.

The feeling you are left with is that this radio is market priced. Prices will not drop if we are prepared to pay the current price. Clearly many are.

If I get a decent trade on my FT991A, I might be tempted...

Several dealers are selling them ex-stock now.

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

After being spotted by 31 stations with my 2.5W 160m FT8 last evening, I was RX only on 160m FT8 overnight. Over 400 stations spotted (see map). Fewer than a few days ago, but still plenty.

I am amazed how well this "antenna" works on 160m and 80m QRP. Why go to all the trouble of a big eyesore antenna if something this simple works?  

I may give this setup a test on 80m SSB next Sunday in the CDARC net.

New windmill path - NOT amateur radio

In the last few days they have been making a new path to the local windmill and museum, as the photo shows. This is designed to make access better in all weathers. We live next door.

As of yesterday, they had put hardcore down. I am not sure what goes on top.

Sunspots - Tuesday February 23rd 2021

 Solar flux is 76 and the SSN 26. A=17 and K=3.

22 Feb 2021

136kHz experiments

Before moving to the current QTH about 7.5 years ago, I did some tests on 136kHz QRSS. I used the E-field probe for 136kHz on a mag-mount on the car and drove around to see where the beacon could be copied. The beacon produced 8W into 50 ohms, but the beacon ERP was only low milliwatts or even less. The antenna was the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. After successfully receiving the beacon on the far side of Cambridge (20+ km?), I just stopped as it was obviously working well both on TX and RX. The E-field probe is shown in the photo.

Other than a brief test with the earth-electrode "antenna" on RX, I have never yet tried 136kHz at this QTH.

My old site (links may not work as this old site is not maintained) has a description of the E-field probe RX antenna and other tests at 136/7kHz.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp/Home/136k .

See also http://g3xbm-qrp.blogspot.com/2013/01/137khz-e-field-probe-mag-mount.html for more on the LF EFP.

Lockdown - NOT amateur radio

A year ago few of us were aware of the crisis ahead of us. It seems to have gone on for ever. 

With warmer weather, better treatments and Covid-19 vaccines, there is some hope in 2021.

In England, the Prime Minister usually addresses the nation when there is something important to say. Today, he is to give a "roadmap" out of lockdown. It is expected schools will return March 8th, although the path back to reality could be a long one. 

The last thing we all want is a return to lockdown after it has been eased. Mixing in cafes and pubs? Holidays? We can all hope!

Going out - NOT amateur radio

Do you remember when you could "go out"?  Yes, an odd concept, especially if you live in the UK. We use to go "abroad" on things called "planes" on things called "holidays".  😏

One of our favourite places was the National Trust place called Ickworth about 17 miles away. Usually, we walked in the grounds, but occasionally we went in the house and famous rotunda shown in the photo. 

If you book in advance you can still walk around the grounds. We enjoy walking around nearby National Trust grounds. Sadly, houses are closed at the moment.

160m QRP (Monday)

At 1103z, I decided to try 160m FT8 QRP with 2.5w and the earth-electrode "antenna".  It is now 1109z and so far no spots, although it is daylight.

 (UPDATE 1434z:  3 G spots of my 2.5W QRP 160m FT8 TX. No spots yet on RX.

UPDATE 1532z:  The first DX has started to appear with DK3UA (869km) on the Baltic coast of Germany about 70 miles north of Berlin. Still just 3 G spots of my 2.5W FT8 160m QRP.

UPDATE 1818z: 12 spots of my 160m FT8 QRP on TX and all over Europe spotted on RX as shown in the map.

UPDATE 1945z: Already 31 spots of my 160m FT8 QRP TX has been spotted in 9 countries with the furthermost OE9GNV (869km). Amazing, with just the FT817ND and the small earth-electrode "antenna" which the XYL and neighbours don't even realise is there! This "antenna" system really works for me.

UPDATE 2120z:  
37 spots this evening of my 2.5W 160m FT8 QRP on TX as shown on the second map. Quite astounding how something this poor works with such low power! It seems obvious to me that this setup is working remarkably well. I shall probably go RX only overnight.

UPDATE 2220z: 41 stations spotted this evening.

Black bears - NOT amateur radio

Several years ago we had a holiday in western Canada. One of the most beautiful roads I have ever driven on is the Icefields Parkway. It was very snowy when we were there in early summer.

We saw several black bears and black bear cubs. Coming from the UK this was really exciting. The one in the photo was only a few metres from the car.

HF conditions

We are now over a year since the end of solar cycle 24 and the start of cycle 25. 

So far, we have got off to a slow start. HF conditions are a little better, but it will be some while before we really notice a difference.  

I suspect this autumn we will see widespread openings from Europe to the USA on 10m again. 

With modes like FT8 we are finding openings more often. FT8 is not a mode for chatting. SSB and even 10m FM and AM are better for this. As much as I like FT8 because of my poor voice, I do hope people still stick with speech modes.

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

80m FT8 RX with the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground

Since connecting up the 80m FT8 RX yesterday, 1122 stations in 5 continents have been spotted on RX using the earth-electrode "antenna" as the map shows. 

Yesterday, 16 stations spotted my QRP TX too. It certainly works!! 

Oscar 100 narrowband activity

Every few weeks I check activity levels on Oscar 100 using the on-line SDR at Goonhilly Down in Cornwall.

My very unscientific look suggests activity is similar to a few weeks ago. This was the situation on Sunday PM UK time. 

See: https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

Sunspots - Monday February 22nd 2021

 Solar flux is 75 and the SSN 11.  A=20 and K=4.

21 Feb 2021

Asus EEE PC - NOT amateur radio

At one time this was my only PC, but it had not been used for many years. 

Much to my surprise, it still booted up when connected to a charger. My grandson enjoyed a game on it. I must admit for years it served me well.

The PC has a small screen and runs under Linux, although you need no Linux knowledge to use it. You still find them on the secondhand market.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp/Home/asuseee. As this is my old website, the links may well not work still!

80m QRP FT8 (Sunday)

For a total change, I am trying 2.5W FT8 to the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground on 80m.  So far, nobody has spotted me and just 1 G spotted on 80m FT8 RX - G6KUI (136km).

UPDATE 1600z:  G6TEL (233km) has spotted me well on TX and 17 stations spotted here on RX.

UPDATE 1751z: 221 stations spotted on RX with the furthermost R7GW (3240km). On TX spotted by 5 stations with the furthermost being F5PGT (480km). The earth-electrode "antenna" obviously has an SWR just over 3:1 so the FT991A auto ATU will not tune, but the FT817ND is OK still. This odd "antenna" still works fine on 80m. As I have said before, the XYL and neighbours do not even know it is there!

UPDATE 1922z: 433 stations spotted so far on 80m FT8 RX and 15 stations have spotted me on 80m FT8 TX with the furthermost EA1N (1076km) in northern Spain.

UPDATE 2120z:  596 stations spotted on RX in 3 continents. 18 stations have spotted me on TX.

UPDATE 2235z: 660 stations spotted on RX. Now RX only for the overnight period. 

Not quite - NOT amateur radio


Our grandson yesterday on a walk not quite in the sleepy village of Reach. 

Reach was an important inland port when the roads were poor and there were no railways. It has had an annual fair since the 1200s.

See http://www.reach-village.co.uk/index.html

472kHz WSPR overnight

By accident, I left my 472kHz (630m) WSPR RX on overnight. It was a waste of time as no further stations were spotted that I had not already spotted in the previous evening. As before, using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. 

In future nights I must remember to turn this off overnight or try RX on another band.

17m FT8 QRP (Sunday)

After a very brief period on 10m, I decided on 17m FT8 QRP with my 2.5W and tiny indoor loop today. So far, 2 stations spotted in Spain on RX and EA1ALE (1037km) has spotted me on TX.

UPDATE 1040z: So far today, 27 stations in 4 countries spotted on RX. All of these are in Europe.

UPDATE 1258z: 35 stations spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1505z:  Nothing spotted on RX from the Americas. 

UPDATE 1518z:  QRT.  In all, 2 stations spotted my QRP TX with the furthermost being EA8JK (3022km). Just 37 stations spotted on RX.

Sunspots - Sunday February 21st 2021

Solar flux is 76 and the SSN still 12. A=20 and K=4.

20 Feb 2021

472kHz (630m) RX

At about 2000z, I QSYed to 472kHz RX. At first I tried FSW4W, but so far only WSPR has been received. Just F5WK (364km) spotted. Using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.

UPDATE 2122z:  4 stations spotted on WSPR with the furthermost being F5WK in IN99.

20m FT8 QRP (Saturday)

About an hour ago I went on 20m FT8 with 2.5W and the tiny indoor loop. So far, 136 stations spotted on RX. On TX 8 stations have spotted me.

UPDATE 1900z:  11 stations have spotted me on QRP 20m FT8 TX.  On RX 232 stations spotted.

UPDATE 2052z: QRT.  QSYed to 630m RX.

Sprung? - NOT amateur radio

This winter has felt very long. This is partly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and it has been colder than it has been for some years. At last there are glimpses of spring such as the daffodils on our green in flower at last   We could still have bad weather ahead but at least we have hope. 

Illegal contracts? - NOT amateur radio

As reported by the BBC, according to the high court, Matt Hancock acted illegally by not disclosing contracts within 30 days of when these were let during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

He has an unenviable task leading the health of the nation during a pandemic. Nonetheless, it is vital that he upholds transparency at all times such as this so the public can have maximum confidence.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-56125462