31 Jan 2015

Another G1KQH bargain

This came in from Steve, G1KQH, today. It is often cheaper to buy the completed, built modules from China than to buy the parts in the UK! What is the world coming to?
I bought 5 LM317s on PCB with heatsinks for a fiver:
Why bother building it any longer, that used to be half the fun! The heatsinks would of cost a Quid each over here, never mind the LM317 and the PCB with connectors..
Happy days 
73 Steve G1KQH

Not amateur radio - new blog

Today I started a new blog to keep a record of our visits to churches in East Anglia. We hope to visit quite a few through the year.Although the new blog is public it is primarily a record for our own use, so any inappropriate comments will be removed.

At one time we planned a full website on this subject when we retired but a blog seems more appropriate

See http://eachurches.blogspot.co.uk/ .

10m USA WSPR spots

The first spot of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon was by KC1AWS (5308km) at 1250z.

UPDATE 2225z:   The last USA spot of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon was KC1AWS at 1836z. I went QRT on 10m WSPR a little later, so it is just possible there might have been others later, but unlikely.

Sunspots and 10m - Jan 31st 2015

Sunspot number today was 193 (high) and 10m propagation was forecast to be "good".

How do they make a profit?

On eBay I have just seen a complete LM386 amplifier kit on a PCB for $2 with free shipping.  G1KQH has spotted Pixie transceiver kits for £5 with free shipping.  How do they make any money?

30 Jan 2015

472kHz - same stations again?

I am beginning to get tired of 472kHz WSPR as the same stations are being spotted and are spotting me. It is some time since new stations have been spotted or have been spotting me.

Starting tomorrow, I think I may try a totally new band for me on WSPR. Unsure which band to try as yet. I'll stay on 472kHz overnight in case some new stations appear.

On 10m WSPR it is a similar story, although I find watching the changing conditions of interest and the DX is real DX.  The little WSPR-AXE-CW WSPR 10m beacon is also so tiny. I find it amazing that something so small and just 500mW can be heard all over the world.

10m USA WSPR spots

The first USA station to spot my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon today was KC1AWS (5308km) at 1404z. At least the band was open to the USA.
Recent 10m WSPR spots of my 500mW beacon
In a few years the best chance of copying the USA, or the USA copying me on 10m, will be on the rarer summer days with transatlantic Es.  F2 across the Atlantic will become very rare sadly, although WSPR should help to "winkle" out such openings as long as up to 2 minutes in length. The danger is people will desert the band as conditions dive. We've already seen this happen on 6m, which is a pity.

UPDATE 2024z:  The last spot of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon was K9AN (6505km) at 1746z.  Now going QRT on 10m. Went QRT on 10m at 2034z. Still active TX and RX on 630m (472kHz) WSPR.

ET/G8DYK on 10m WSPR

I have just seen that ET/G8DYK (5931km) was spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon this morning a few times. This my best DX so far today on the 10m band.

Low cost kits

See http://www.aliexpress.com/store/331885 .   This website has some very low cost rigs for sale. An example is a 40m Pixie at around $10 post free. You'd be hard pressed to buy the individual parts for less!

UPDATE 1430z:   I have just ordered a 40m Pixie kit from them.  Should be here in 2 to 3 weeks time. I hope I can manage to build it with my clumsy soldering currently.

UPDATE 2000z: G1KQH has found the same Pixie at an even better price:
Greetings Roger
I could of saved you a fiver out of your pension but you had to rush in:
73 Steve

Sunspots and 10m

Sunspot number today has climbed to 181.  10m is forecast to be "good".

UPDATE 1125z:  So far this morning my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon has been copied by UR/SWL56 (2283km), 4X1RF (3519km) and local G4IKZ (18km). The usual reporters! I expect the 10m band will open to the USA after lunch.

UPDATE 1447z:   The 10m band opened to the USA for me here after 1404z.

29 Jan 2015

472kHz WSPR

I have been using 5mW ERP and the earth-electrode "antenna" all day.  Best spots of me today have been from stations that have copied me before such as G3WCB (101km) and G8HUH (250km). It will soon be time to change antennas.

10m USA WSPR spots today

KE6BID (5295km) was the first USA station to spot my 500mW WSPR beacon today at 1300z. As I write this at 1624z, there are plenty of USA stations spotting me still.

UPDATE 1920z:   It looks like W9ZOC (6259km) was the last USA station to spot my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon at 1818z. It is over an hour since the last USA 10m spot so it is unlikely that there will be others now.

Fredbox derivatives

Since my original Fredbox 2m AM design, a number of derivatives have been designed and built around the world. This is what our hobby is all about. Although the original Fredbox worked well and its results surprised me, it was always ripe for further developments, which is healthy. My Sixbox was a 6m version and at some point, when fitter, I'd like to make a simple 10m AM version for local natters.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/fredbox for the original Fredbox. Click on the schematic to enlarge. Other derivative ideas are on my website www.g3xbm.co.uk.   By the way, it got its name from Fred G8BWI who was a disabled local in the Cambridge area back in the 1970s. Fred was a regular contact and he could talk for hours and hours and hours and hours zzzzzzzzzzz. RIP Fred.

Stroke update

Last year I was expecting to be fully back to my old self well before now. As it is, I am still some way from that position.

Overall, I think I am still improving, but the big leaps I was expecting don't seem to be happening. Perhaps I should be satisfied with slow, small, moderate steps?  

I still feel as if I am living in a bit of a dream world, I still feel drunk when walking (feel giddy), still tire easily, and drinking thin liquids is still not easy.

Overall, I am getting slowly better, but perhaps I should expect to be left with a level of disability and will be pleasantly surprised when I get fully fit again. Perhaps my expectations were unrealistic? Whatever, I am not giving up: I want my "old self" back again this year.

At the moment I still feel unable to do field work, climb ladders (for antenna work)  or use a soldering iron. With time, this will improve.

Sunspots up again

Sunspot number today has risen yet again. It is 140 today. 10m is expected to be "good".

4X1RF (3519km) was copying my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon at 0924z. I remain hopeful of greater DX this morning. 10m should certainly open to North America after lunch. This happens on most days.

28 Jan 2015

433MHz AM modules - G6ALB progress

G6ALB has reported some progress in his tests using 433MHz AM modules, although it looks like an external linear audio transistor stage may be necessary to get best AM (voice) sensitivity from the super-regen detector. On TX he is getting 10dBm from the TX module at 5V (more with higher supply voltages) although the mod seems to be a mix of AM and FM. Our first "DX" test will probably be from G6ALB to me using the voice modulated TX module. I'll receive Andrew on my FT817ND initially. When the super-regen RX is sensitive with speech I'll try to receive him with that. Super-regens should be sensitive on AM, but are usually poor NBFM detectors.  We are about 3km apart and both have V2000 verticals externally mounted. At 70cms these have gain.

Andrew has ordered 5  pairs of 433MHz AM modules (TX as well as RX) for not much more than £2 total from China. This makes each TX/RX pair very inexpensive. It amazes me that they can make these so inexpensively. I hope G6ALB succeeds in this venture. It would be good to be able to communicate with him using a really low cost 70cm transceiver. I expect Andrew will write up his results in an article for a UK magazine later.

It seems entirely possible that a complete 70cm AM transceiver can be made for just a few pounds based on these low cost 433MHz AM modules.

10m USA WSPR spots

The first USA spot of my 10m 500mW WSPR was K9AN (6505km) at 1352z. The last USA spot was W3CSW (5886km) at 1804z. It is still possible later USA spots may happen, but it is now over an hour, so unlikely.

UPDATE 2056z:   Only local spots since W3CSW at 1804z on 10m WSPR.  Now going QRT on 10m WSPR.

29MHz AM

The 29-29.1MHz sub-band continues to be the best place to find HF AM. This is the HF band with most space, although there are AM enthusiasts on 160m and other bands. When these bands are not busy AM has its place.

When 10m goes "off the boil" 29MHz AM will be ideal for local nets with very simple gear. Ranges are fine for local nets. Also there is a ready supply of ex-CB kit around, although making a wholly homebrew QRP rig for 29MHz AM is a nice group project. There are some ideas for starters on my main website.

As an example of how effective 10m AM can be see http://www.macnaughtonart.com/10metlog-ss24.htm .

Sunspots and 10m - Jan 28th 2015

Sunspot number continues to climb and is 119 at present. For the first time in some while, 10m propagation is forecast to be "good". LZ1OI (2153km) has spotted my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon 10 times this morning already. As I write this it is 1046z.

Today could be a good 10m day.

UPDATE 2215z:   Now QRT on 10m WSPR  Although the band did open to the USA after lunch, it was a rather disappointing day on 10m WSPR for me.

27 Jan 2015

50MHz UKAC session this evening

Tuesday nights are the nights for the RSGB's UKAC sessions. Tonight it is the 50MHz (6m) leg. As I only have a vertical omni-directional antenna (a V2000) it is very unlikely I'll work very much.  Add to that my poor voice and it is not a great recipe for too much success! I'll give it a brief try. The contest starts at 2000z and officially ends at 2230z. If I last 1 hour I shall be doing well.

UPDATE 2135z:   3 QSOs managed before I had to go QRT because of my poor voice - all locals. Best DX heard was G3MEH (IO91QS). Of course my antenna was the wrong polarisation.

6m QRP rigs

In many ways, 6m (50MHz) is an ideal band for experiments. Short RF leads are always good, but 6m is a forgiving band and you can get away with HF constructional techniques. It is 2MHz wide here in the UK and this means all speech modes can be fitted and used. The page below shows a number of links to 50MHz projects.

See http://www.pg1n.nl/articles.php?lng=en&pg=145 .

See also my Sixbox 6m AM transceiver .

10m WSPR - USA spots today

Although the band did not open to the USA until very late (1454z), plenty of different USA stations have been copying my 500mW WSPR beacon all afternoon. This is much better than yesterday.

The first spot of me was KZ8C (6290km). At the moment (it is 1805z) I am still being spotted by several stations in the USA.

UPDATE 1945z: The last USA spot of my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon was by K9AN (6505km) at 1902z.

Sunspots and 10m

After a miserable 10m day yesterday sunspot number today is 110 but 10m propagation is still only forecast to be "fair".

26 Jan 2015

472kHz WSPR

This last 2 weeks I have been spotted by 15 unique stations on 472kHz WSPR. I am still using 5mW ERP and the earth-electrode "antenna". Several stations who have not been on WSPR so often have reappeared today.
472kHz unique reports of my 5mW ERP to earth-electrodes in last 2 weeks

70cms AM using data modules

That font of all knowledge Steve G1KQH has found a useful YouTube video:
"They are all at it now Smile

73 Steve

10m WSPR USA spots

It is now 1232z and, as yet, no USA stations have spotted my 500mW WSPR beacon. 4X1RF (3519m) and UR/SWL56 (2283km) have spotted me many times this morning. I think the band will open to the USA and I may be a little early.

UPDATE 1336z:  Still no spots from USA stations as yet.

UPDATE 1421z:  Still no spots from USA stations as yet. I have my doubts 10m is going to open to the USA at all today.

UPDATE 1445z:  First stateside spot of my 500mW WSPR was AB4QS (7087km) at 1426z - very late indeed today.  Conditions to the USA seem poor today.

UPDATE 1545z:  Today the only USA station to have spotted me on 10m WSPR is AB4QS and he has only spotted me twice. This is definitely a very poor day on 10m compared with recent months. Usually by now I have been spotted by loads of USA stations, despite running just 500mW on WSPR.

UPDATED 1858z:  AB4QS was the last station in the USA who spotted me at a very very early 1500z. This makes today one of the worst days on 10m in months.

Poppet 160m AM transceiver

This little top band AM transmitter and a companion receiver were first published in the GQRP club SPRAT magazine. This TX version was built by M0DAD. Where the noise floor allows, 160m AM is quite popular for local nets.  There is something nice about "rolling your own" builds and getting satisfying results without spending a fortune. For daytime local use 160m AM is a great mode and rigs are simple. I am still surprised that more is not made of AM on 10m at night for local nets here in the UK.

See http://www.delboyonline.co.uk/m0dad/construcion/poppet_top_band_am_transmitter.htm.

QRP 5W CW transmitter from SM0VPO

Many years ago Harry SM0VPO worked at Pye Telecom. I had no idea back then that he was such a prolific and good designer.  This is his design for a simple HF 5W CW transmitter. His website has loads of great ideas.

See http://www.qsl.net/qrp/tx/5wtx.htm .

472kHz WSPR overnight

G0MGM (101km) has spotted my 472kHz WSPR (5mW ERP or less) several times. I think he is a new reporter and very welcome too. Tonight I may go back on the HF and 6m wire antennas (with loading coil) to see how results compare with the earth-electrode "antenna" currently in use.  
G8HUH (250km) always seems to copy me.  He has a good system on RX.  He even copied me on 136kHz WSPR from the old QTH, before I had my cerebellum bleed. I have yet to try 136kHz WSPR from this QTH.

Sunspots and 10m - Jan 26th 2015

Sunspot number has climbed a little to 65 and 10m propagation is forecast to be "fair" again today.

UPDATE 0925z:  4X1RF (3519km) has already spotted my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon 4 times,which is a hopeful sign on 10m.

25 Jan 2015

Not amateur radio.

This weekend was the Big Garden Birdwatch. People in the UK were asked to observe a garden, park etc. for 1 hour and record the highest number of each species seen, then submit results online to the RSPB. It has become an annual event now. I did a record yesterday in our back garden and, just for fun, I did another 1 hour today at the same time but overlooking the local museum and windmill at the front of our bungalow.

More species were seen yesterday but far more starlings were seen today as they roost on the sails of our windmill next door.

I am still active on 630m and 10m, but will be going QRT on 10m quite shortly.

Interest in AM

I note that my most popular blog posts recently relate to Amplitude Modulation (AM). Who said this was a dying mode? Clearly it is not judging by the interest levels shown. RSGB and ARRL please take note.

USA 10m WSPR spots today

The first USA station to copy my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon today was WG2Z (5600km) at 1312z. Most of the morning 4X1RF (3519km) has been copying me.

UPDATE 1924z:  CX2ABP/D (11080km) has been copying me several times this afternoon. The last USA station to spot my 500mW WSPR beacon was K1OF (5500km) at 1718z. This indeed proved to be the last spot of me from the USA.

Sunspots and 10m - Sun Jan 25th 2015

Sunspot number today is 57 and 10m propagation expected to be "fair". I definitely think solar activity is starting to fall away (on average).

24 Jan 2015

Micro 40 - 40m DSB transceiver

See http://home.alphalink.com.au/~parkerp/projects/projmicro40.htm .

Also: https://aa7ee.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/the-vk3ye-micro-40-dsb-transceiver/ .

Well designed DSB transceivers are much simpler than SSB rigs as no SSB filters and mixing to final frequency is needed. They must not be over-driven to avoid a spreading signal. The PA needs to be linear too. These issues being carefully considered, you end up with a rig that has the same bandwidth as an AM rig but with a suppressed carrier. DSB transmitters are usually received as an SSB signal. The downside is that if a simple direct-conversion receiver is used then there is no rejection of stations sitting on the other sideband. So, they are best on quieter bands, rather than busy HF bands. Bands like 10m, 6m and 4m are probably good candidates.

Although not impossible, it is quite difficult to demodulate a DSB signal on a simple direct-conversion receiver. DSB rigs are ideal as simple transceivers to communicate with SSB rigs.

10m USA WSPR spots of my 500mW beacon today

WG2Z (5600km) was the first USA station to spot my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon today at 1302z. I see that FR1GZ (9724km) on Reunion Is, South Indian Ocean, has already spotted me a couple of times already on 10m WSPR today!

UPDATE 1728z:    KU4QI (6406km) was the last to spot my 500mW 10m WSPR-AXE-CW WSPR beacon at 1708z. There is still a chance others will spot me later.

UPDATE 2110z:   The last USA station to spot me was K9AN (6505km) over an hour later at 1838z. It all depends who stays around and who is active! I was surprised.

UPDATE 2140z:  I went QRT on 10m WSPR at 2112z.  I have now QSYed to MF for the night.

G8HUH - multiple spots of my 5mW ERP on 472kHz WSPR

G8HUH (250km) in IO81 square has spotted me on 472kHz WSPR 16 times so far today since the middle of the night.


Sunspot number is up to 70 today and 10m propagation forecast to be "fair".

UPDATE 1346z:  So far, the 10m band is behaving predictably.

23 Jan 2015

70cms AM

As you may recall, I am quite a fan of super-regen receivers. Nothing as simple is able to match their AM sensitivity, but they tend to have poor selectivity.

With the availability of very low cost 433MHz modules (TX and super-regen RX) designed for AM data, these modules could be ripe for conversion to ultra-simple 70cm AM voice transceivers. One local friend, Andrew G6ALB, is currently carrying out experiments to see if this is feasible. I hope to work him on 70cm AM using such a rig in the months ahead. Sadly, I am still too clumsy to do any building work - very frustrating.

I am wondering if anyone else has tried these modules in such a circuit? With a simple MMIC PA (50 ohms in and out) the power output could be lifted to around 25mW carrier or more. With V2000 verticals this should be good for local ranges. Even at the low milliwatt level from these QRPp modules several km range should be possible with co-linear antennas.

UPDATE 2310z:   I wonder what sort of power the TX modules typically produce with linear (speech) modulation rather than 5V square wave data modulation? Presumably much less than their rated power, so an add-on PA may be essential?

South Indian Ocean on 10m WSPR

Best DX today on 10m, despite the "poor" forecast was FR1GZ (9724km) on Reunion Is who has spotted my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon 17 times this afternoon so far.  Quite a few times recently I have had very good reports on 10m from distant stations when the forecast has been "sub-optimum". It goes to prove that 10m and 6m are fickle bands: don't take propagation expectations as gospel.

10m USA WSPR spots today

KF4GKY (6406km) was the first USA station to spot my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon today at 1322z. After the dire forecasts this morning I was wondering if 10m would open to the USA at all. So far (it is now 1350z) KF4GKY is the only USA station spotting me.

UPDATE 1815z:   W3GXT (5840km) was the last to spot me from the USA today at 1702z. As this was over an hour ago it was probably the last today.

4X1RF now spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon

At last, I am now being spotted on 10m outside the local area. 4X1RF (3519km) has spotted me a couple of times starting at 1056z this morning. Reports are weaker than usual.

Maybe I shall be spotted in the USA on 10m WSPR after lunch after all?4
UPDATE 1124z:  So far, just a couple of weak spots by 4X1RF. Conditions on 10m do seem down on the last few months.

UPDATE 1210z:  Better reports now from 4X1RF (-13dB S/N). Looks like 10m is coming to life.

5MHz world wide contiguous 60m amateur band?

Around the world, several administrations allow some access to 5MHz for amateurs.  Mostly, these are channelised allocations, which are far from ideal. What is needed is a continuous 60m band, say 200kHz wide. There was/is some hope of this being allocated to the amateur service at WRC2015 which is due to take place late this year.

I wonder what the chances of radio amateurs getting this band are? I have rather lost touch with the news on this. Certainly it was to be an agenda item. With decreasing solar activity, this would be ideal for the amateur community. I do hope it happens. Even if allocated at WRC2015, it could be a few years before administrations can make the necessary changes. If anyone has any further news I'd appreciate being updated.

Sunspots and "poor" 10m

Sunspot number is 63 today. 10m conditions are expected to be "poor". This is the first time in a long while I've seen this. Been on 10m WSPR for 45 minutes but only being spotted by G4IKZ (18km).

UPDATE 1048z:   Still just local G4IKZ spotting my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon. No Europeans even. Conditions do feel poor today. I wonder if we'll have our usual USA 10m opening after lunch?

UPDATE 1056z:  4X1RF (3519km) spotting me at last.

22 Jan 2015

472kHz WSPR results - 5mW ERP earth electrode "antenna"

472kHz 5mW ERP - result on WSPR in last 2 weeks
In the last 2 weeks I have been spotted by 13 unique stations with the best DX still F1JBB (722km) when using (at most) 5mW ERP and the short baseline earth-electrode "antenna". I think G1GKN is a new reporter, but I need to check.

UPDATE 2212z:  G1GKN has only reported me today.

On receive on 472kHz WSPR I have spotted 18 unique stations in the last 2 weeks. Best DX was LA3EQ (769km).
472kHz WSPR - stations spotted here in last 2 weeks

USA 10m WSPR spots of my 500mW beacon today

KE6BID (5295km) was the first USA station to spot my 10m 500mW beacon at 1244z today. Since then, plenty of USA stations have been spotting me on 10m WSPR.

I am also active on 630m (472kHz) WSPR where I run 5mW ERP and I am on 20% TX and 80% RX. Best 472kHz WSPR DX on RX here was F1AFJ (607km). On 472kHz TX my best daylight DX today is G3THQ (8km) and M0ELS (81km).

UPDATE 1742z:   Currently KB9AMG (6300km) was the last USA station to spot my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon at 1722z. This may be it for the day, but we'll see.

UPDATE 2154z:   KB9AMG was the last spotter on 10m of my 500mW WSPR beacon at 1722z..

Sunspots - Jan 22nd 2015

Sunspot number today is 50 (gradually sliding downwards now on average) and 10m propagation forecast to be "fair". Certainly, my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon has not been spotted beyond Israel so far today.

Early morning on 10m WSPR

As early as 0856z, I was getting EU spots of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon. 4X1RF (3519km) was not much later.    Some of these spots were very strong, suggesting either single hop Es or F2 propagation.   Local G4IKZ (18km) was spotting me all through the night.

21 Jan 2015

AM and UK Band Plans

Because of my poor voice (as a result of my cerebellum brain bleed) I tend to use digital techniques, like WSPR and JT65, but I still enjoy AM.  Like many, I've worked transatlantic AMers on 29-29.1MHz with real QRP and simple antennas using AM. It makes a great change from SSB.

One could be forgiven for thinking AM is a dirty word at the RSGB.  In UK Band Plans published in the February 2015 edition of RadCom, AM gets no mention on 28MHz and 50MHz and gets a (begrudging) comment as a footnote only in the 144MHz Band Plan when other modes get "centres of activity" mentions. AM is alive and well in the 29-29.1MHz sub-band. AM on the 144MHz (2m) band here in the UK can be found on and around 144.550MHz. There has been AM on 29-29.1MHz for years and years and years - in fact almost as long as I've been active on the air. Yes, this is in the all-mode section, but why not say this is the 28MHz (10m) AM sub-band? Also, why are 144MHz AM users asked to "consider adjacent channel activity"? AM should easily fit in 6kHz!!

Yet again, AM is being treated as a dirty and outdated mode. Here in the UK, ex-PMR AM rigs ripe for use on VHF can be picked up for virtually nothing and there is certainly room for AM on all bands from 28MHz upwards. AM has its enthusiasts on other bands too, but yet again the RSGB seems keen to kill off this mode. Why I wonder?

Allegedly, a RadCom article on digital TV in the 146-147MHz band was pulled last month at the last minute because "someone at the RSGB" thought it would not fit in the new band! Sometimes one wonders. Maybe the day when I only get SPRAT is closer than I thought? Thankfully, there are many good articles in RadCom.

10m USA WSPR spots

The first USA spot of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon was at 1240z today by WG2Z (5600km). All morning I was being spotted by EU stations and 4X1RF (3519km) but no further.

Apart from one day, the 10m band has been open here to the USA every day since the early autumn.

UPDATE 2040z:  My last USA 10m WSPR spot today was by K9AN (6505km) at 1858z.

10m 3 transistor DSB transceiver

In case you missed this:


This gives the schematic and lots of data in Japanese.

All RF circuit inductors could be replaced by small  (T50-6 or T37-6) yellow toroids and variable caps.

Sunspot number - Jan 21st 2015

Sunspot number today has risen slightly to 57.  10m propagation is expected to be "fair". Already being spotted by 4X1RF (3519km) on 10m WSPR with my 500mW 10m beacon.

20 Jan 2015

10m 3 transistor DSB rig video, and more on the Minima

Stephen G7BFY sent me a link to a video on YouTube of the Japanese 3 transistor DSB transceiver featured in this blog some years ago. It is being tested by some Italian stations over a 10km path. Sorry this video is in Italian.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqpfLSqtVgs

Minima Video
The video below is of the Minima SSB/CW transceiver. The transceiver is towards the end of the (rather noisy) video. This is the creator, Ashaar Farhan, in the (Indian?) video.


472kHz WSPR

All day and overnight I have been on 472kHz WSPR using 5mW ERP from my earth-electrode "antenna". Although I have been copied by no new users in recent weeks, I have been spotted by G4JVF (151km) and G8HUH (250km) amongst others today. My best DX on TX with the earth-electrodes is 722km.

On RX I am consistently copying PA stations at over 400km. Although people tell me there is less WSPR activity on the band lately, I never fail to spot, or be spotted, on this MF band even with my compromise antenna and very low ERP.

160m/80m DC transceiver

These are bands I rarely use, but some readers may be interested in the Hendricks Kits dual band transceiver. 5.5W sounds enough to work plenty.

These days, the main issue on these bands can be man-made noise from TVs, SMPUs and similar. At my old QTH I had an S7-8 noise floor on 160m and 80m. At the new QTH the noise floor on these bands is low currently, but this could change overnight. Some people use loops and nullers on RX to minimise problems. If you have a quiet noise environment then this transceiver may fit your needs. Don't forget you will need a reasonably big antenna to get decent results. A half wave 160m dipole antenna is around 240 feet long.

In my youth we had rigs like the Codar AT5 12W AM/CW 160m/80m transmitter and companion T28 RX. I had the RX but not the TX although I did use an AT5 from the QTH of the late G4PJ. The T28 was mainly used as a tunable IF for my 2m converter. I heard my first 2m satellite signals via Oscar 6 and 7 using the T28 as a tunable IF. I remember being very thrilled hearing my first transatlantic stations on the top end of 2m.

See http://www.qrpkits.com/mbdc.html .

Last 10m WSPR spot today

W3CSW (5886km) was the last USA station to spot my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon today at 1658z. I guess the last 10m spot depends on several factors: propagation/conditions, daylight on the path, active stations etc. Last night the I was getting spots later.

First 10m WSPR spot today (500mW beacon) from the USA

N1NCO (5283km) was the first USA station to spot my 500mW WSPR beacon on 10m today at 1238z. Several EU spot this morning plus 4X1RF (3519km) who often spots me. This is Asia.


Sunspot number today is 62 and 10m propagation is expected to be "fair" . Just turned on the 500mW 10m WSPR beacon at 0945z.Already LZ1OI (2153km) is spotting me well.

19 Jan 2015

Lighter evenings

Since the shortest day, the evenings continue to lighten. In the evening it is now light some 30 minutes later than it was at the shortest day.  Even the mornings are starting to get a bit lighter earlier at last. The days are lengthening about 2.5 minutes a day and the rate of change speeds up as we approach the equinox. I much prefer lighter days! Already it is just about light still at 5pm.

See http://www.timeanddate.com/sun/uk/cambridge .

Last USA 10m WSPR spot tonight

The last spot of my 500mW WSPR beacon on 10m was at 1714z by KK4MIP (6704km).  It is still possible other spots may yet come in but this is now unlikely.

First 10m WSPR spot from the USA today

N1NCO (5283km) was the first USA station to spot my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon at 1236z. There have been plenty of spots by USA stations since that time.

More EU spots of my 10m 500mW beacon

LZ1UBO (2039km) and UR/SWL56 (2283km) have been spotting me this morning. I think LZ1UBO is a new station reporting me who has not been in the log before. I think propagation is F2 judging by the distances.

More on the Minima transceiver

My mention of this Ashaar Farhen design yesterday seems to have been very popular, so I have dug out a bit more information. As it stands it produces 1W pep but it is easy to add a further PA.

See http://www.sarfata.org/ham/minima/ .

Although a kit of parts is available, I am not aware of a full kit with enclosure and a PCB being available as is the case with the BitX from Hendricks Kits.

Daytime 472kHz WSPR 5mW ERP and earth-electrode "antenna"

Nothing exceptional overnight.

This morning, I see I am being spotted by G4JVF (151km), M0ELS (81km) and G8HUH (250km).   I am spotting PA0O (440km) and PA3ABK/2 (306km). All not bad for full daylight propagation.

Sunspots up today

Sunspot number is climbing again and stands at 78 today (was 49 yesterday). 10m propagation is again expected to be "fair".  So far just local G4IKZ (18km) and LZ1OI (2153km) copying my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon but it is still very early.

18 Jan 2015

The Minima transceiver

See http://www.phonestack.com/farhan/minima.html

This is the latest project from Ashaar Farhan. Component cost is said to be less than $100. This is based around a Si570 sythesiser and a programmed Arduino micro-controller IC. It looks a simple to duplicate rig covering up to 30MHz. It is the successor to the BITX rig I think. The IF is 20MHz. If you only want 0-15MHz or 15-30MHz (i.e. not both) the rig get even simpler.

Crystal alternative?

Buying crystals for specific frequencies is now getting very expensive. There may be a newer alternative.

See https://aa7ee.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/a-crowdfunded-si5351-breakout-board-from-jason-nt7s/ .

This synthesised solution allows any frequency from 8kHz to 160MHz to be generated.

Solar activity

See http://www.solen.info/solar/.

It is easy to overlook the peaks and troughs of solar activity when looking at averages. When solar activity has brief peaks, conditions can often be way above average. Some have even caught brief 6m F2 openings by remaining alert.

That is why 10m is such a fascinating band . Even in years with almost zero or no sunspots I have worked South Americans with QRP SSB with simple wire antennas. Never give up just because the average sunspot number is low.

10m USA today?

It is now 1240z and there are no spots of my 500mW 10m beacon from the USA yet.  I see that the band is open between the USA and Germany so maybe I am being impatient. However, with much lower sunspot numbers it is possible I'll not be heard in  the USA on 10m today at all with my low power beacon.

UPDATE 1330z:   I spoke too soon!  WA2PJI (5550km) spotted me first at 1242z and there have been others since.

UPDATE 1752z:   At the moment KC1AWS (5308km) is the last USA station to have spotted my 500mW WSPR beacon on 10m at 1750z. This could change. 

UPDATE 1835z:   KC1AWS does appear to be the last USA station to spot me at 1750z. Since then, just local G4IKZ (18km).

Sunspot number and 10m

At just 49, the sunspot number is lower than for some time.   10m propagation is only expected to be "fair".

17 Jan 2015

Last 10m USA WSPR spot today

QTH next to the windmill (LHS)
KB1VXY (5308km) was the last to spot my 10m 500mW WSPR-AXE-CW beacon today at 1802z. Since then, just local G4IKZ (18km) spotting me. Time to go QRT on 10m but I'll remain on 630m WSPR now and through the night. I have just resync'd the PC to internet time.

My 10m antenna is not the world's best.  At some point, when fitter, I hope to re-erect  a single band antenna for 10m use, possibly my Homebase-10 design on my main website.

472kHz - WSPR spots on TX (5mW ERP) in last 2 weeks

Using the short baseline earth-electrode "antenna" on 472kHz WSPR in the last 2 weeks I see my best DX on 5mW ERP was F1JBB (722km) in IN95 square. I still need to count the unique stations, squares and countries with 5mW ERP from this QTH.
472kHz TX results (5mW ERP WSPR) on earth-electrode "antenna" in last 2 weeks

USA WSPR spots

You could almost set your watch by it!  KC1AWS (5308km) was the first USA station to spot my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon today. This was at 1210z, just 2 minutes earlier than yesterday, reflecting the change in daylight hours. It will be interesting to see at what time spots from the USA stop tonight.


I know I have said something similar here before...

Almost every time I do a blog post, write an email, or post on Facebook, I seem to make at least one error that I have to go back later to correct. This may be a simple typo or perhaps my stroke leaves me unable to spot errors quickly?   Either way, I try to correct the mistake as soon as I do spot it. This seems to be nearly every time I post.  Let me know if you see any I've missed please.

The most common errors are "i" and "o" interposed, extraneous full stops, commas instead of full stops, missing full stops and "m" and "n" interposed. These could be my poor keyboard skills and nothing more, but I'm sure I'm more error-prone than I was before my brain bleed.

10m WSPR this morning

No great DX as yet on 10m. My best spot of my 500mW beacon is 4X1RF (3519km) with no DX from further afield spotting me. Even with the falling sunspots (still pretty reasonable) I expect to be spotted in the USA after lunch.

Sunspots and 10m - Jan 17th 2015

Sunspot number today is 75 and 10m propagation is forecast to be "fair". I only turned the 10m 500mW WSPR beacon on quite recently and I am still not quite stably on frequency, but so far only local G4IKZ (18km) is spotting me on 10m.

16 Jan 2015

A video to enjoy (Salcombe, Devon) - not amateur radio

As a child, I was brought up in Salcombe, Devon. This remains a most beautiful area and I am still drawn to it. I know of no better place on the planet and I have been to many countries for work and pleasure. This splendid video was created using drones by Birds Eye View Productions.

First and last 10m spots by USA stations today - Jan 16th 2015

The first USA station to spot my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon was N1NCO (5283km) at 1212z and the last was K9AN (6505km) at 1712z. Considering the falling sunspots and only "fair" 10m conditions predicted, it seems to have been quite good "across the pond" today.

472kHz WSPR overnight

No great DX overnight on MF.  My best DX on RX was PA0O at 440km and on TX (5mW ERP) I was spotted by G8HUH (250km). No totally new stations spotted.

472kHz always has activity whereas the other band I sometimes use, 6m, is bad at this time of the year. So, currently I tend to use 10m (500mW, 100% TX) and 630m (472kHz with 5mW ERP 20% TX and 80%, the latter using earth-electrodes in the ground).

Falling sunspots

The sunspot number has fallen again to 62 and 10m propagation is forecast to be "fair". Nonetheless, 10m opened to the USA yet again with N1NCO (5283km) spotting my 500mW WSPR beacon at 1212z.

15 Jan 2015

USA 10m WSPR spots today

My 500mW 10m WSPR beacon has again been spotted many times in the USA today. My first spot was by  KC1AWS (5308km) at 1158z. The last spot was by K9AN (6505km) at 1734z. This is the first time for a while I have been spotted in the USA on 10m before lunch.

Even lower cost TCXOs

This information comes again from Steve (font of all knowledge) G1KQH:

Getting cheaper!!
73 Steve

Sunspots and 10m - Jan 17th 2015

Sunspot number today is 89 and 10m propagation forecast to be " good". SN seems to be falling in recent days. Maybe, on average, we are seeing the start of the slide?

14 Jan 2015

Various modes compared

Comparisons were recently posted on the RSGB LF reflector. I am sorry but I cannot recall the author, although I think it was by a Dutch station.  Basically it showed (using 2500Hz bandwidth) that WSPR2 (2 minute WSPR) is some 29dB better than SSB and 12wpm CW some 15dB better than SSB. Of course there are all sorts of provisos and caveats, but it goes to show why WSPR is so very good with very weak signals although only basic data is usually exchanged with WSPR.

472kHz WSPR

Again, I stayed on MF rather than going on 6m today. The PC turned off in the early hours to load Windows updates so I rebooted the PC and reset the PC clock to internet time after breakfast. Only spots by G7NKS (46km) and G8LCO (58km) so far today. PA0O (440km) is my best spot today on MF on receive.

10m WSPR spots by USA stations

The first USA spot of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon today was by KC1AWS (5308km) at 1316z. At the moment, the last WSPR spot by a USA station was KU4PY (6991km) at 1748z.

Best DX today was AE7YQ (8533km) late afternoon. No DX further than the USA today.

Sunspots and 10m WSPR

Sunspot number today has fallen to 93 but 10m propagation is again forecast to be "good".

So far, my 500mW 10m WSPR-AXE-CW beacon has been spotted by the usual scatter of Europeans, but no further. The band may open to the Indian Ocean, Africa and South America. I confidently predict it will open to North America this afternoon.

13 Jan 2015

Time to go QRT on 10m WSPR but leave 630m (472kHz) on

As it is just local G4IKZ (18km) spotting me now, I shall go QRT on 10m WSPR.

I'll leave 630m (472kHz) WSPR running to see what tonight and overnight brings. Last night my best MF DX on receive was LA (Norway) on the earth-electrode "antenna". Spots have been exchanged both ways this evening with G3WCB (101km) but not further so far on MF today. Best DX on 630m (472kHz) RX today is PA0O at 440km.

UPDATE 2238z:  On 472kHz WSPR the best DX received here this evening is F1AFJ (607km). My best DX on TX, again using the earth-electrode "antenna" with 5mW ERP is currently G8HUH (250km).

UKAC contest - 70cms

This evening being the second Tuesday of the month is the first 70cm leg of the monthly UKAC activity contests. The contest runs from 2000z to 2230z   However, I have a problem. My antenna  (5 el) is stuck aiming SW. I'll give the contest a brief go, but with 5W, being unable turn the antenna and my poor voice I don't think I shall be on too long!
70cm QSOs this evening
UPDATE 2130z:   I was on for only 1 hour (poor voice!) but, at this time of year, most activity was from fixed stations. Even with a beam fixed in a SW direction, I managed to work 5 stations with 5W on 70cms. Best DX this evening was G3MEH (84km) in IO91QS although I was copying further. By next month the beam should be rotatable again and there may be more /P activity I hope. One of the stations heard (but not worked) was my old university colleague G3XBY who was giving a JO02 locator, so I am wondering if Dale has retired not too far from here?

10m USA spots today

The days are getting slightly longer now.  The very first USA spot of my 10m 500mW beacon today was KC1AWS (5308km) at 1204z. The openings seem to be getting slightly longer? Several spots by 4X1RF (3519km) in the 10m log too today.

UPDATE 1835z: at the moment, the last spot from the USA was WG2Z (5600km) at 1824z.

UPDATE 1925z: WG2Z does seem to have been the last USA station to spot me today. Only local spots since 1824z.

Sunspots and 10m

Sunspot number has fallen back a little to 111 (still respectable) but 10m propagation is forecast to be "good" today. Getting spotted by the usual Europeans (LZ,OH, UR).

10m WSPR-AXE-CW beacon, no PA

I turned on my 10m WSPR-AXE-CW beacon and resync'd the clock at 1007z this morning. Up to that time the PA had been off since yesterday. Imagine my surprise to see 3 spots in the log before that time from CT1JTQ (1843km). These were about 16-18dB down on normal levels but would have been at the low milliwatt level - whatever the beacon power is with the PA off. Even though reporting I was running 500mW (this is hard programmed in) I was using very low power indeed. Seasoned WSPR users will not be amazed.

I have now turned the PA on again, so am using close to 500mW again on 10m WSPR. This now seems like high power!

12 Jan 2015

Eclipse in UK in March

 This was posted on the RSGB's LF reflector a few hours ago:

Alan Melia

15:37 (2 hours ago)

To rsgb_lf_group, rsgb_lf_group
Hi all, it may not have registered with many yet as it has not made the National TV news but there is a partial eclipse of the sun due on March 20th 2015.

As part of my involvement with the RSGB Propagation Studies Committee it occurs to me that this is a fine opportunity to roll out the capabilities of Opera, and WSPR and the monitoring network on 136 and 477kHz.

The path of the totality passes due north of the UK with only Shetland seeing a full eclipse. The majority of the UK is rated around 80%. The most interesting paths are those from the opposite side of the path of totality. Unfortunately (or otherwise :-))  ) the only LF-active area on the other side is Iceland, and I know there is a "grabber" operator active there. I suggest some interesting results could be obtained if European stations could be active into the Iceland grabber during the period of the eclipse which is 07:40 to 11:40 UTC (I think we should be on GMT still in the UK at that date :-))  ) I am not fully sure what facilities the Icelandic operator has but maybe someone who knows him better could liaise a suitable set up.

It is obviouly not as big an event as 1999 but could prove interesting.

USA 10m WSPR spots today

KC1AWS (5308km) was again the first to spot my 500mW WSPR beacon today, at 1218z. He was first yesterday too. Since then, other USA stations are spotting me.

UPDATE 1752z:  At the moment it looks like KB9AMG (6300km) was the last USA station to spot my 500mW WSPR beacon at 1706z at -17dB S/N. No other stateside station has spotted me since then. It is interesting that the report suggests 20mW would have been enough. Then the path just dies out within minutes.

ARRL membership renewal - no thanks

Living in the UK, last year I joined the ARRL so I could access the digital edition of QST. I shall not be renewing. Why? Well, the ads are the same, more or less, as those in RadCom and Practical Wireless and there are better articles in SPRAT. Most of all it took over a week to sort my access out when I mislaid my password. The online help was, for me, useless. No, I am happy to let others join their national amateur radio society but I shall not be renewing my ARRL membership. I remain an RSGB member and GQRP Club member.

MF instead of 6m WSPR

This morning, I have decided to give 6m WSPR a miss: for several days I have been trying but with very limited success at this time of the year. Instead, I am using the FT817, transverter and earth electrode "antenna" with around 5mW ERP (probably less) with success on 472kHz WSPR. G7NKS (46km) has copied me well on several occasions already. As yet, no other spots given or received on MF this morning so far.

I am also active (500mW) on 10m TX only.

UPDATE 1125z:  12 spots so far of my 5mW ERP and all from G7NKS (46km).

UPDATE 1345z:  27 spots by G7NKS (46km) so far today. Almost all his spots are within +/-1dB of -15dB S/N.

UPDATE 1633z:   Now 44 spots on 472kHz from G7NKS today so far, but no-one else spotted or spotting me, as yet.

UPDATE 1757z:  Now 52 spots of me by G7NKS.  Still no-one else.

UPDATE 1846z:   G3YXM (148km) was the first MF station to be received here this evening at -9dB S/N, i.e. strong.
Recent 472kHz WSPR results on TX and RX this evening

Sunspots and 10m propagation

Sunspot number today is a respectable 133 and 10m propagation is forecast to be "good".

Almost since I switched my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon on, I have been copied by the usual European stations and 4X1RF (3519km) in Israel.  No real DX seen on 10m WSPR as yet, but it is early in the day still. An opening to the USA after lunch on 10m is almost a certainty.  It would be good to have my 500mW WSPR beacon copied in Australia,  S.Africa and S.America today.

11 Jan 2015

QRT on 6m and 10m WSPR

At 2300z I went QRT on 6m and 10m WSPR. Will be on 10m again after breakfast. I shall probably give 6m a miss though.

Last WSPR spot from the USA

At 1746z KC1AWS (5308km) was the last USA station to copy my 500mW WSPR beacon today.

Low cost Chinese TCXO for FT817

In a recent email from Steve G1KQH he brings to our attention a very low cost TCXO for the FT817 from China:
You still standing after the winds?
Did you see that mention in PW about that Chinese TCXO for the 817 at a 1/4 of the price of the Yaesu one:
I searched TCX0-9 on ebay and quite a few came up his is the best price so far, if I find better I will let you know
Now who is going to try one first?
73 Steve G1KQH"

Australian 10m WSPR spot

This morning at 1124z, VK5MR (16144km) copied my 10m 500mW WSPR-AXE-CW beacon for what will probably be my best DX today. His report of me was -26dB S/N, i.e. not strong. No other great DX reports received on 10m. First USA WSPR spot of my 500mW was by KC1AWS (5308km) at 1220z. He was spotting me well at -16dB S/N.

So far, 6m WSPR as been a dead loss again. I sync'd to internet time twice today on the 6m kit. Not a single 6m spot given and received since I started just after breakfast. Really I am wasting effort of 6m currently.   I would be better on a totally different band for a change.

Sunspots and 10m - Jan 11th 2015

Sunspot number today is up again, to 146 and 10m propagation is expected to be "good". Yet again, the 10m band has opened to the USA after lunch, and Australia this morning.

10 Jan 2015

Time to go QRT

I am still active on both 6m and 10m WSPR but I shall close down on both bands very soon. On 6m I have seen no activity since G0LRD (25km) at 1922z, and on 10m only G4IKZ (18km) is spotting me since the band closed to the USA. I shall be back on again after breakfast.

Sunspots and 10m

Sunspot number has climbed to 125 and 10m was forecast to be "good" today.

The first 10m USA WSPR spot of my 500mW beacon today was by K3ZV (5692km) at 1242z.

UPDATE 1804z:  At the moment KB1VXY (5308km) looks like being the last USA station to spot my 500mW this evening. He was still spotting me a few minutes ago. There could still be others though.

UPDATE 1912z:   KB1VXY was the last station in the USA to spot me on 10m WSPR. Since 1748z just local G4IKZ (18km) spotting me.  Early this morning OZ1IT (853km) was spotting me at 0518z and I see CX2ABP/D (11080km) was the best DX spot of me today (mid-afternoon).

Some 6m results (1W ERP)

After resetting my PC clock (it was set this morning so not sure why it was off so badly) I have been exchanging WSPR spots with G0LRD (25km). Apart from G6AVK a week or so back, I'd had no spots at all on 6m in recent months. I am still hopeful I might catch some winter Es. I think any TEP or F2 DX is pretty unlikely.

9 Jan 2015


See http://www.gqrp.com/ .

Many times before I have said that SPRAT is the last magazine I would give up if I had to. GQRP Club membership is very reasonable indeed and I highly commend it to you. They now sell a DVD which has the first 160 copies of SPRAT on it.   If you join the club,the DVD is very inexpensive plus you get the next 4 SPRATs with the subscription. SPRAT is always filled with good stuff and always plenty of projects to build.

Go on, join!

6m - magic band, really?

Why do I bother on 6m WSPR? Apart from G6AVK (78km) with whom I exchanged spots more than a week ago I have had no success at all on 6m WSPR out of the Es season.  I get plenty of success on 10m with less power.  I go on 6m WSPR because I can do so at the same time as being on 10m. I get far more success on 630m with an ERP of just 5mW. I think I am going to give up on the "magic band" until April or May. Maybe I really do need 100W and a big yagi up high in the sky to make the band "magic" at this time of the year. My 1W ERP from a V2000 vertical omni antenna just isn't enough or maybe all the activity is on other modes?

USA 10m WSPR spots today

The first USA station to spot my 500mW WSPR-AXE-CW beacon today was KC1AWS (5308km) at 1220z.

At the moment WG2Z (5600km) was the last to spot me this evening from the USA at1722z.

UPDATE 2122z:  WG2Z was the last USA station to spot me on 10m today.

Sunspots and 10m

Sunspot number today was 101 and 10m propagation was described as "good". Best 10m DX spot with my 500mW WSPR beacon was by CX2ABP/D (11080km). There were several spots by 4X1RF (3519km) this morning on 10m. After lunch, plenty of spots from the USA.

8 Jan 2015

10m WSPR analysis by Bert PA1B

Bert, PA1B, has analysed my 500mW 10m WSPR spots over 1600km today. It makes interesting viewing. It shows the number of spots each hour from different stations.  The best times for most DX spots was around 1000-1100z and 1400-1500z. Best DX was 1400-1500z to CX2ABP/D.

Thanks again Bert.

My shack

Shack - operating position Jan 8th 2015
As many of you know, I had a cerebellum brain bleed in Sept 2013 which was operated on. I am steadily recovering, but my voice is still poor so I much restrict operations using voice modes for now.  The picture shows the operating position in my shack. As shown, I am using 500mW on 10m WSPR (WSPR-AXE-CW beacon) and 5mW ERP on MF WSPR via a homebrew transverter (just below the clock) and the earth-electrodes in the garden.  MF uses the PC and FT817 whereas the 10m beacon is tiny and needs no PC. The loading coil (above the power meter) is not used with the earth-electrodes. It is used when on MF when loading up miscellaneous other antennas. It is not in use at all currently.

When fit again, I intend to resume field experiments.

Not shown are any of the optical, 136kHz or VLF kit or the bench used for building. The latter is currently awaiting better health again.

Stroke Update

Many of you know I had a cerebellum brain bleed in Sept 2013 (16 months ago) and was in hospital for 3.5  months. Slowly I am recovering, but it is taking much longer than I expected. 

Amateur radio field experiments and building work are on hold.  This is frustrating but I hope this will come right again in time.

Main issues are I get tired quickly,  I feel drunk when I walk, my speech is poor and drinking thin liquids is not easy. Most foods are OK now. All limbs, eyes, ears and intellect are fine.  I still feel unwell and not my old self yet.

First and last 10m spots from the USA today

N1MGO (5293km) was the first USA station to spot my 500mW 10m beacon today at 1254z. This was quite early for recent days. A  couple of other USA spotters were K3ZV (5692km) and WG2Z (5600km) at the same time. This bodes well for a decent afternoon on 10m WSPR.

At the time of writing (1758z) the last USA station to spot me was K9AN (6505km) a 1748z.

Sunspots and 10m

Sunspot number today is 106 and 10m propagation is described as "fair". Already plenty of spots of my 500mW 10m WSPR-AXE-CW from CX2ABP/D (11080km) in Montevideo on 10m over lunchtime.

7 Jan 2015

Amateur transatlantic messages on 8822Hz

See http://w4dex.com/vlf/8822hz_dec14/  .

In the last month W4DEX has successfully transmitted an amateur VLF true message across the Atlantic. Up to this only constant carriers have been copied. It seems almost anything is now possible with good equipment, hard work and patience.

Return to 472kHz WSPR

At about 1920z I gave up on 6m and returned to MF for the evening and overnight. My best DX spot was from G3WCB (101km). at -20dB S/N.   I am again using 5mW ERP from the short baseline earth electrode "antenna". Within just a few minutes on 472kHz WSPR  I am getting results whereas nearly a day on 6m drew a total blank.

Early days on 2m

My first ever RX outings on 2m were with a derivative of the CQ2 super-regen RX circuit from Practical Wireless back in the late 1960s. The very first signal I ever heard on 2m was G3VEH/P on Caradon Hill in Cornwall. I was located at Kingsbridge in South Devon. I used a small crystal earpiece and a 19 inch whip. The same receiver was later adapted with the addition of an RF amplifier in my Fredbox AM transceiver. These were the days when AM was still king on 2m. The best DX contacts with the 10mW Fredbox were impressive.

A few years ago, I rebuilt my Fredbox and had a few local QSOs on 2m AM. It still works well for something this small and simple. More details of the Fredbox are on my website. Follow the link above.

6m - another dead loss day

I've been on 6m WSPR most of the day, but no spots given or received yet again. I really am wasting my efforts on this band at this time of the year.

First and last 10m WSPR spots today

My first 10m spot by a station in the USA was K3ZV (5692km) at 1446z.  He was also the last to spot me at an early 1626z. There may yet be other spots later, although I doubt it. There have been plenty of European spots, presumably winter Es or maybe F-layer backscatter?

Trying yet again on 6m WSPR

Yet again, I am WSPRing on 6m (1W ERP vertical 20% TX, 80% RX) but so far no success at all on RX or TX.  I am still on 10m (500mW) 100% TX.

Sunspots and 10m conditions - Jan 7th 2015

Sunspot number has climbed a little to 102, but 10m propagation is forecast to be "poor".

Best DX, so far this morning, on 10m WSPR with my 500mW WSPR-AXE-CW beacon (designed by Jay W5OLF) is EA8/DL9XJ (2981km). I wonder if there will be 10m propagation to the USA this afternoon?

UPDATE 1130z:  Best DX spot is now by 4X1RF (3519km).

UPDATE 1315z:   Plenty of 10m WSPR spots from around Europe and Israel ,but nothing further as yet.

6 Jan 2015

2m UKAC this evening

Unfortunately I was unable to rotate my small (hand rotated) 2m beam this evening. I think one of the fixings has worked loose and it was dark so I did not fancy fixing it in the dark. I was active for around 70 minutes but only raised locals and then gave in to my poor voice and went QRT.  Working SSB VHF contests really does strain my voice. Usually I have had enough after an hour.

Next Tuesday is the first 70cm UKAC. I'll have a go in that, after fixing the beam supports!

6m - a dead loss today (again)

I spent most of the day on 6m WSPR (1W ERP vertical) 20% TX and 80% RX.  I was also on 10m WSPR (500mW) 100% TX.

Although 10m opened to the USA, 6m was a dead loss with no spots given or received all day long. 472kHz is much more productive even though my ERP on 472kHz is far lower than my ERP on 6m.

10m WSPR - USA spots today

My 500mW 10m WSPR-AXE-CW beacon was again being copied in the USA today by several stations. I think something odd was happening yesterday. K9AN (6505km) copied me first at 1406 and he was again the last to copy me at 1600z. The USA opening here was less than 2 hours.

UPDATE 1805z:  I spoke too soon!  At 1756z I was being copied by K4COD (6826km). The 10m band is still open to the USA.

UPDATE 1840z:  No further spots since 1756z. Often the longest distances occur just before the band closes.  K4COD gave me a report of -11dB S/N, which was very strong for 500mW.

DXCC chasing

I have never really been a DXCC chaser, or a serious contester, although I usually enter the low power section of the UKAC VHF/UHF contests on Tuesday evenings. I think this evening it is a 2m event starting at 2000z. I'll see if my voice lasts an hour! The UKAC events are 2.5 hours long but up to an hour is enough for my poor voice right now.

When I did a rough count of 10m QRP SSB DXCC countries worked over the years it was way over 100. I have worked around 50 DXCC on 6m all QRP SSB and CW.  I have never claimed any awards, but it was interesting to see just how many countries I had worked on 10m QRP SSB. Other HF bands, apart from 10m don't interest me as much.

Sunspots and 10m - Jan 6th 2015

Sunspot number has dropped back again, standing at 89. Overall, we are now on the downward slope although there will still be good days.

10m propagation is forecast to be "fair" today. Yesterday was diabolical here with no USA stations spotting my 500mW WSPR for the first time in months. Today has to be better surely?

UPDATE 1108z:  So far just Europeans spotting me on 10m WSPR.  Still, more stations than all of yesterday.

5 Jan 2015

Jack Jones - the answer is NO!!!!

"Jack Jones" - pirate, please get the message: every comment you add to my blog will be deleted. I do NOT support pirate stations.

Please get a legal licence and join our great community instead.

No USA today on 10m?

For the first time in months, not a single USA station has spotted my 500mW WSPR beacon on 10m. It is now 1610z so time is running out fast!   Others may have been more successful, but it tells me conditions are changing for the worst on 10m.

UPDATE  1630z:   Still just spots earlier from LZ1OI (2153km) and not a single spot from the USA of my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon.

UPDATE 1735z:  Still no other spots than those earlier by LZ1OI. This looks like the first day since the summer not to have been spotted in the USA.

UPDATE 1755z:  Bas, from The Netherlands, wonders if 10m conditions were poor because of a recent aurora (see his comment below). If he is right conditions might get better over the coming days.

West coast Canada to New Zealand on 6m

I heard recently of a 6m 2-way CW QSO between New Zealand (ZL3RC) and a station in Western Canada (VE7DAY). This was probably a combination of Es and transequatorial propagation. At over 12000km it is some QSO. For those prepared to invest in big antennas and high power and lots of patience, this magic band does produce some very long distance contacts, even when there is a lack of F2 propagation. My own more modest attempts on 6m WSPR have been almost a total failure but I was just using a V2000 vertical and 1W ERP. I wonder if I would have had a lot more success with 10W and a beam?

See www.amateurradio.com  .

Sunspots and declining 10m conditions

Sunspot number today is 124 (respectable) but 10m conditions are expected to be just "fair" again. I have had my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon on for about 30 minutes but so far no sign of any USA spots.  Just a few weeks ago I could just about guarantee a USA opening on 10m by now. No doubt 10m will open to the USA, but a little later and close a little earlier. Hopefully conditions will improve as the days lengthen again.

4 Jan 2015

Digital systems and amateur radio?

At the moment there seem to be several competing digital modulation schemes First there was ICOM's D-star system, then C4FM from Yaesu, and of course DMR, which is gaining ground in the commercial PMR world.  There are even a few experimenting with TETRA, as used by the public services. Like Betamax and VHS, the best system may not win in the end.

At the moment, I am just not interested. I'll wait to see who wins in the end. My bet is DMR will win in the end as there will be a plentiful second hand market from PMR. This will never be so with any proprietary system. DMR is an open standard, so there will be plentiful radios around and at decent prices before too long.

10m WSPR analysis by Bert PA1B

Bert has kindly analysed 10m WSPR spots of my 500mW beacon as received by K9AN on several days in the last few days. Clearly mid-afternoon (1400-1500z) has been his best time with most spots.

A day NOT on 10m

2 of our grandchildren enjoying dad's cooking
Today, we went on the train to see our younger son and family who live near Canterbury. The train  ride is about 2.25 hours each way and we get about 5 hours in Canterbury, which in my current condition, is just long enough.

As I was out most of the day, I was NOT active on 10m during the day as usual.  Sunspot number was 122 today (going up) but 10m conditions were only "fair".

Since about 2000z I have been on 472kHz WSPR and spots have been exchanged with the usual suspects!

3 Jan 2015

472kHz WSPR

The best DX reception here on 472kHz last night (using the earth-electrode "antenna") was LA4ANA (1042km). The most recent 472kHz spots with 5mW ERP from the earth-electrodes are shown below.

10m USA WSPR spots today

The 10m USA openings in the afternoon are definitely getting shorter.

First USA station to spot me on 10m WSPR was K9AN (6505km) at 1426z. He was also the last station in the USA to spot me at 1632z.

This morning, we were at our neighbours for coffee and this afternoon with other friends in the close for drinks and mince pies.  Both were nice occasions. Not being able to speak easily as a result of my brain bleed is a real handicap. I do hope this recovers during 2015.

Still no USA spots on 10m WSPR

It is now 1345z and, as yet, no-one in the USA has spotted my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon.  A range of Europeans copying me. It may be just too early for the USA at this time of the 10m.

Sunspots and 10m

Sunspot number today is 113 and 10m propagation is expected to be "fair". Having only just turned on the 10m 500mW WSPR beacon, I have still to find out for myself.

2 Jan 2015

472kHz again

In the end I gave up on 6m and returned to MF (472kHz) shortly before tea. G8HUH (250km) and PA0O (440km)  have both spotted my 5mW ERP already.
Unique 472kHz spots of my 5mW ERP from earth-electrodes today.

First and last 10m USA WSPR spots today

The first spot of my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon was W3CSW (5886km) at 1320z.  The last 10m WSPR spot of my 500mW beacon was K9AN (6505km) at 1624z.  The openings are getting shorter.

The evenings are getting slightly lighter now: I was in the garden trimming branches today until nearly 1630z. Official sunset (when the sun actually goes down) is before 1600z, but afternoons are a little longer now. Next week the mornings get better too. Roll on spring!

6m - another 1 hour then QSY?

I'll give 6m WSPR another hour, then I'll probably go back to 630m (472kHz) where there seems to be activity. 6m really is (almost) a total wasteland at this time of year.10m is good.

6m activity

In the summer Es season there is usually no shortage of 6m WSPR activity, but once the main Es season has gone, activity takes a nosedive. This is a pity as it is outside of the Es season when WSPR is so useful. In the main Es months I can work all over Europe, North Africa and occasionally further with a few watts of SSB and a vertical omni on 6m. I regularly spot, and get spotted, on 6m WSPR out to 200km+ in the Es season with QRP WSPR by tropo and by aircraft reflections.   The better equipped stations can probably work real DX by scatter at most times of the year.

Please, can we have a few more on 6m WSPR at the quieter times of the year?

Giving 6m WSPR another try

Well, I must get points for effort!  Yet again, I have both 10m (500mW) and 6m (1W) WSPR running. Whilst the 500mW is getting plenty of spots on 10m, my 1W ERP on 6m is being spotted by no-one and I am spotting no-one either!

In the last few days I have exchanged 6m WSPR spots with G6AVK (78km) a few times and no-one else. I was expecting some winter Es but no luck on 6m as yet. GDX should be possible out to around 200km on 6m by tropo and aircraft reflection but there is very little activity on 6m within range at this time of the year.

Sunspots and 10m

Sunspot number today, Jan 2nd 2015, is 101.   10m propagation is expected to be "fair".   So far my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon is only being spotted around Europe.

1 Jan 2015

On 472kHz WSPR again

Since about 2010z I have been back on 472kHz WSPR using 5mW ERP from the short baseline earth-electrode "antenna".  These are the results in the first 44 minutes on the band (TX and RX).
472kHz Jan 1st 2015 - results in first 44 minutes
UPDATE 2130z:   Since this chart was created I have spotted G8HUH (250km) and PA0A (417km).

UPDATE 2212z:    Best DX (on RX) so far this evening is F1AFJ (607km). I shall leave the 472kHz system running overnight.

QSY from MF to 6m WSPR (still on 10m WSPR too)

At 1415z I QSYed my FT817 from MF (via the transverter and earth-electrodes) to 6m WSPR. On 6m WSPR I am running 1W ERP at 20% TX and 80% RX using my V2000 vertical omni-directional antenna.

I am still also on 10m WSPR 100% TX using 500mW using the Par tri-band end-fed antenna.

UPDATE 1806z:  No spots given and received on 6m today. A very disappointing day again on 6m. I'll give 6m a little longer, then QSY to 472kHz WSPR.

UPDATE 1902z:   Still no luck at all today on 6m. Time to QSY down to 472kHz within the hour.

UPDATE 1958zStill no results on 6m today so time to QSY down to 472kHz now.

No USA yet on 10m!

For the first time in months, there is no reception (yet) of my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon in the USA. Things way well change later this afternoon. Conditions certainly have started poorly on 10m this year.

I notice the path from the USA to Germany was open earlier though.

UPDATE 1356z:  I spoke a moment too soon!  W3CSW (5886km) was copying me just a few moments ago at a respectable - 19dB S/N.  Later than in previous days, but there! Since then, there are plenty of 10m WSPR spots from the USA.

UPDATE 1746z:  10m was closed to the USA very early today with K9AN (6505km) spotting me last at 1556z. This is is the earliest for months, even though the evenings (not mornings yet) are getting a bit lighter.

Sunspots and 2015 predictions

Sunspot number today is 94 and 10m propagation is forecast to be "fair". We'll soon find out just what this means.

I turned on the 10m 500mW WSPR beacon about 15 mnutes ago. Best DX so far this morning is 4L1QX (3299km). I'm still on 472kHz too, but will QSY to the 6m band soon.

In 2015 we might expect the following:
  • Declining sunspot numbers. We could see peak numbers in the 40s by the year end;
  • Possibly a new contiguous 60m band (with a favourable WRC meeting outcome);
  • The USA on 472 and 137kHz properly at last;
  • More interest in optical comms,especially IR and NLOS (non line-of-sight);
  • Possibly world-wide DX on amateur VLF frequencies below 9kHz.
I sincerely hope my health picks up too as I am keen to do field work again.

Best wishes for 2015

As I write this, it is still 2014 here in the UK but in most of Europe, Asia and Australasia it is already 2015. I wish all my blog readers the very best for 2015.

I really hope my health improves in 2015 so that I can resume field experiments!