30 Apr 2015

2200m and 630m in the USA a step closer?

Southgate News reports that the FCC is, at last, supporting USA amateurs being given access to the 2200m and 630m bands. I sometimes complain that OFCOM here in the UK needs a kick up the backside, but the FCC seem an order of magnitude worse. I do hope that the USA gets these bands. I've had an article of mine on 472kHz approved by the ARRL now for nearly 2 years, awaiting the release of the 472kHz band over there! I am amazed just how slow the FCC seems to be. In many ways the USA takes a far more "grown up" attitude to the use of the radio spectrum, but the unbelievable slowness over the release of these 2 bands just beggars belief.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2015/april/fcc_proposes_to_permit_amateur_access_to_2200_and_630_meters.htm#.VUKSWpNQqPc

UK General election - NOT amateur radio

The UK General Election next week still looks far too close to call. Some opinion polls show the Conservatives ahead and others show Labour.  UKIP seem to be gradually losing support.

At the moment my intention is to vote Lib Dem as they do have a chance of winning here in East Cambs. Labour really have no chance at all having won just 6.5% of the vote last time. UKIP could well split the Conservative vote, so the Lib Dems have a decent chance.

Personally, I think the moderating influence of the Lib Dems on either the Conservatives or Labour would be a good thing. I supported the Greens in the European elections but in a "first past the post" General Election they (sadly) have no chance here. Elsewhere, who knows?

I believe in living within our means both personally and nationally, but austerity measures should be toughest on those who caused the problems in the first place and NOT those who really have very little. Bank bonuses should be stopped or very heavily taxed until we live within our means. In almost 40 years of work I never got a bonus for working hard and neither do most workers. Why should a few "wide boys" get millions in bonuses for gambling with OUR money?

So, I was amused "11 element stealth antennas"

Maybe I have the definition wrong, but I thought "stealth antennas" meant antennas that were somehow hidden or disguised so you could not easily tell they were there?

So imagine my amazement to see an 11 element HF beam listed as a "stealth antenna". Maybe every house but mine has one to hang their washing on? No surely not!

In my book an 11 element (compact?) HF beam is in no way a stealth antenna. By all means sell these - no doubt they sell well to some at over £1090, but not as a "stealth antenna".

As I have said before, a simple wire antenna and 500mW is enough for my signal to reach the far corners of the planet and I see no need whatsoever for such a big and, in my personal view, ugly antenna in my garden. My HF antenna is practically invisible: I am sure most are unaware it is even there! This is a hobby to be enjoyed in many different ways. All are valid.

Big, expensive beams are not for me.  Of course if you have this antenna you need a big, strong rotator and a big mast. Then you probably need a big rig.  Sorry, not amateur radio in my definition.

See http://www.force12inc.com/categories/applications/stealth-ham-radio.html?sort=pricedesc

No 10m USA WSPR spots, well not yet (1512z)

So far, apart from quite a bit of Es on 10m WSPR, EA8BVP (2986km) has been there spotting me a lot this afternoon presumably by single-hop F2.  As yet, no signs of 10m WSPR spots by any USA stations, but if the band opens at all in that direction, it is likely to be later. Sunspot number is lower than the last few days but we are seeing relatively undisturbed conditions, so a very brief opening is not out of the question.

UPDATE 2055z:  No USA 10m WSPR spots today, and it seems unlikely now.  However, last night one station did not copy me until after 2200z, so who can tell?

UPDATE 2155z:  We I'll be  .........(expletives go here).  KA4M (6916km) spotted me at 2132z. So far, this is the only spot today from the USA of my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon but I was amazed to be copied at all.

Kanga Products

See http://www.kanga-products.co.uk/.  Although I have to admit that I have not used this supplier or its sister site in the USA, they seem to have a useful range of kits and products in stock.  If you are after QRP or QRSS frequency crystals, then these are at a decent price.  I have no idea how well priced their other items like solder are compared with other suppliers.

As I have said before, these suppliers could soon disappear if they do not get enough trade. The competition from China is fierce indeed and many very good bargains may be had on eBay.  I wish Kanga well.

Sunspots and 10m - Thursday April 30th 2015

With the sunspot number even lower at 26 (K=1) and 10m expected to be "poor" today, one should expect 10m to be marginal, but this band is full of surprises and anything is possible. With 10m having allowed my 500mW WSPR to be spotted in the USA for the last few days, I am not ruling out a brief USA opening later.

Certainly Es is livening up things on 10m at last, although I have not yet been spotted by Es on 6m, and neither have I spotted others on 6m by Es.

UPDATE 1334z:  The Es season is definitely here now with 10m WPSR spots received from across Europe.  EA8BVP was probably single hop F2, but the rest (apart from local G4IKZ) so far today look like spots of me by Es.
Unique 10m WSPR spots received today so far.

Yesterday on 10m WSPR - 3 USA stations spotting me

With a very late spot by KA4M (6916km) at 2202z, the total of USA stations spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR rose to 3 different stations. KA4M, at this late hour was a total surprise. I had just about given up for the day. As always, 10m is filled with surprises!

This morning the 10m band has lots of Es in evidence with OE, HA and I stations spotting me. We are now definitely in the Es season.

6m WSPR analysis by PA1B

Bert PA1B has done some analysis of my recent aircraft scatter WSPR spots on 6m.

As is usually the case, clicking the image will bring up a larger chart.
PA1B's analysis on my 6m WSPR spots
Hello Roger,
At the moment I am very busy with all sort of things.
I am making a new website in Wordpress, which is taking a lot of time.
We did some house improvement, for about two more weeks.
And today we went to the opening of the outdoor swimming pool with my grand children.
(great fun)

This evening I took some time to make an analysis of a number of spots on 6 meter.
I took the most interesting spots for airplane scatter.
I hope you like it and can place it in your blog.

I left in M0EMM to show the difference. hi
Positive drift means the path is becoming shorter.

It's my pleasure.

73, Bert PA1B
Hello Roger,

The spots of M0MVB shows spots where the path is becoming shorter (+3Hz per minute)
and spots where the path is becoming longer.   (-2 Hz per minute)

I just saw that the spots of M0YOU with scatter, are much stronger than the spot without scatter.  The lower the lowest possible power, the stronger the signal.  A lowest possible power of 1 mW is 17 dB stronger than 50 mW. hi.

I left in the spots of M0EMM, to show that there is no Doppler andthe signals are not that strong.

Good luck in further analysis,

73, Bert PA1B

29 Apr 2015

Windmill - NOT amateur radio

We live right next door to this 200 year old windmill that has recently been fully restored. This photo was taken just after the rain. It has 4 sails although you cannot tell in this view.

At the moment, the sails are facing in the direction of our bungalow, although they change direction quite often with the wind. The sails have flaps that can be closed or open. The sails usually go around (flaps closed) on Thursdays and Sundays when the museum is open.

10m WSPR - USA yet again today!

So far just a single (very early) spot from the USA today: K9AN (6505km) at 1140z . No other 10m WSPR spots from the USA today.  Signal report was weak at -26dB S/N.

I just wonder if this was F2 or multi-hop Es?  I guess it could even have been F2 backscatter? Anyway, yet another day, quite late in the season, when a USA station has spotted my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon. Will there be others later I wonder?

UPDATE 1735z:   At the moment, it looks like th(e single spot by K9AN this morning was a "one off".  Things could get better later?

UPDATE 1804z:    WB2TQE (7097km) has been spotting me a few times recently.

UPDATE 2004z:    The last USA spot was WB2TQE at 1828z. I am wondering if that is it for the USA  today (2 unique stations) or whether there will be surprises later.

Shack tidy-up: exhausted!

This afternoon I attempted to do, what in the past, would have been totally trivial: tidy up my shack a bit. After trying to sort just a couple of boxes I was totally exhausted. This is still an after-effect of my cerebellum brain bleed in September 2013.  Although, on the whole, I get less tired than I did, I still find that almost any burst of physical or mental activity leaves me exhausted.  I just have to relax, then I feel better. About 10-15 minutes and I am "done in". Oddly just walking or driving don't have the same effect. I have been able to walk about a mile OK for a year or more.

More aircraft reflections on 6m WSPR

M0YOU (116km) has been spotted again on 6m WSPR at a strong -9dB S/N. What is interesting is that all his recent signals have shown multiple reflections off planes (up to 5 at one time in the 2 minute TX window) but, so far, just one successful decode. Clearly these planes need to be flying in the right direction for a successful WSPR decode to take place. The reflected signals are strong but the WSPR TX burst is too long. A shorter TX burst would be better for this propagation mode.
M0YOU - catching reflections off planes in the Heathrow stack?
I suppose the Doppler would be less of an issue on 10m but far more of an issue on 2m. G3WKW (134km) and I managed to exchange 2-way WSPR on 2m last year, but it took a whole day to catch that right moment as I recall. Also as you go higher in frequency, rig drift becomes far more of an issue, so it can be more difficult again. For 70cms WSPR this becomes super-critical and an external reference frequency is all but essential so that you can know your frequency precisely.

G4FGJ (44km) has spotted me this afternoon but I think this was plain simple tropo as no Doppler was apparent. He was very strong with me at -2dB S/N.


G3WKW (134km) was spotted yesterday on 6m WSPR.  I am pretty sure I can only get a path to Bob via aircraft reflections and I think it was aircraft approaching London Heathrow. Although I copied Bob's 5W I did not get spotted by him, although I am using a lower ERP and my signal was probably in the noise at his end, if indeed he was listening/looking.  Bob's 5W was around -24dB S/N with low Doppler. Of course, with aircraft, the WSPR software may not have decoded a stronger signal with more Doppler or more multi-path. It is not uncommon to see reflections from many aircraft in a single WSPR burst. Often decodes are impossible unless aircraft flight patterns result in low Doppler.

In this regard, WSPR may not be the best mode. Also WSPR TX bursts are nearly 2 minutes long and this is a long time with passing planes. Other digital modes with shorter TX bursts are probably better. In this regard, passing planes are more like MS bursts so modes well suited to MS would be better.

Sunspots and 10m - Wed April 29th 2015

Sunspot number has fallen yet again to just 36 (K=0) and 10m daytime propagation is expected to be "poor".  With quiet conditions, I am not ruling out a late, short USA 10m opening. Yesterday 10m did open to the USA but only a single station spotted my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon and that was late in the evening.

UPDATE 1038z:   On 10m WSPR EA8BVP (2986km) was spotting me early again and IZ6QZB (1475km) has spotted me once.  I think this is a mix of single hop F2 (EA8) and Es (IZ6).

28 Apr 2015

USA on 10m WSPR after all

Well I'll be damned! AC2EG (5610km) has spotted me several times on 10m WSPR in the last half an hour.   So, despite my dire expectations, 10m WSPR has opened to the USA for the fourth day running! This despite forecasts for 10m being "poor" today. Amazing.

6m WSPR - spots by G3ZJO

So far this afternoon, G3ZJO (79km) has spotted me lots of times on 6m WSPR this afternoon. No great DX but this looks like pure tropo. So far, I have not seen any Es on 6m.

No USA (yet) on 10m but some good N-S DX

As yet (1525z) no sign of spots from the USA but FR1GZ (9724km) has spotted my 500mW 10m WSPR several times this afternoon. If this is another "poor" day, then I am happy.

UPDATE 1934z:  Still no sign of any USA 10m WSPR spots of my 500mW WSPR beacon today. Plenty of spots from EA8BVP and FR1GZ but absolutely nothing from the USA. I think we were lucky having propagation across the North Atlantic for the last 3 days. I guess the band could still open to the USA but  this is pretty unlikely now.

EA8BVP early

EA8BVP (2986km) has already spotted my 10m WSPR many times starting at 0640z. This is very early.

UPDATE 1527z:  As yet, no USA spots but FR1GZ has spotted me several times.

Sunspots and 10m - April 28th 2015

Sunspot number has fallen again to 42 (K=1) and the forecast for 10m is "poor".

27 Apr 2015

At last - a 6m WSPR spot!

The last few days have been very quiet on 6m, but this evening, at last, I was spotted by a relatively local station M0MVB (30km) at a decent -10dB S/N.   Still no Es reports on 6m as yet.

UPDATE 1842z:  3 further reports received from M0MVB. All suggest some influence from aircraft reflections as there was Doppler shift on all reports or it could be M0MVB's rig drift? On one spot (later than those shown) the drift was 4Hz, which definitely looks like a plane.
6m WSPR spots this evening from M0MVB

A bad NEVADA warranty day

Sometimes major dealers do themselves no good at all. I feel compelled to blog this as this dealer should know better.  I have been very patient but after waiting so long my patience is running thin.

Today I had to chase NEVADA as they had neither answered my email or first class mail.  All I was doing was following instructions in the box that said I needed the dealer to add his stamp for the warranty to be valid. No email reply yet received. I am patiently waiting after about 6 weeks.
"Lincoln President Mk 2 - Warranty
(bought from Nevada on Feb 25th 2015 on invoice 275xxx)
Since posting this (copied my original email here) in early March by email and first class post I have heard ABSOLUTELY NOTHING at all. I need confirmation this rig is covered by warranty. Frankly I am appalled - you could forgive me for thinking Nevada is only interested in the initial sale and not the warranty.
Please do me a favour and contact me!  No excuses please - just action. All I am asking for is decent customer support. This is not too much to ask of a major UK dealer, is it?"
I hope they will reply tomorrow.

I have also had very poor customer service from a local carpets supplier, Glasswells, having been waiting about 6 months to have a stained carpet replaced free under warranty. It took a month (last October) to wake them up from their slumber (2 emails before any action) and here I am in April 2015 still waiting! Apparently the carpet is now to be replaced on Friday this week.

This is not my day!

10m Es?

SA5SDR (1358km) has spotted me several times today. I suspect, at this distance, this is Es propagation. Although I have been spotted in the USA today on 10m WSPR, conditions seem "on the edge" - this is not the best of days, although I am grateful the band opened at all.

10m USA WSPR spots - yet again

For the 3rd day in row,10m has opened to the USA with N4ZQ (7125km) spotting my 10m 500mW WSPR at 1420z. This despite a relatively low sunspot number and a forecast of "poor" 10m propagation. I think I can expect further USA 10m WSPR spots later.

10m WSPR - quiet so far

It is currently 1250z.  So far today, 10m WSPR has been very quiet with G4IKZ (18km) and EA8BVP (2986km) being the only stations to spot me so far today. It certainly feels much quieter than the previous 2 days.

Sunspots and 10m - Mon April 27th 2015

With a sunspot number of 55 (K=1) and a 10m propagation forecast of "poor" I guess we cannot expect great things on 10m today?  It is surprising though how often I am proved wrong and a "dead" 10m band just springs into life. So far this morning, just local G4IKZ (18km) has spotted me on 10m WSPR, but it is still very early.

Of course, a SN of 55 will be considered "high" in a few years' time. We should be grateful. With the Es season now here there is an increasing chance of Europeans (and further) by this mode too. Es is there at all times of the year but it is best late April- September in northern latitudes, the reverse in Australia/NZ.

26 Apr 2015

North and South America on 10m WSPR

Around teatime 10m opened to the USA with K9AN (6505km) spotting me several times from 1624z. Not only that but  LU8WAG (12283km) was also spotting my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon (WSPR-AXE-CW by W5OLF) at 1646z.

Despite the "fair" 10m forecast, my 500mW WSPR beacon has been spotted in 5 continents today. In all, a very good day on 10m WSPR.
Unique station spots today - 500mW 10m WSPR
Big antennas? Lots of power? Don't need them thank you!

UPDATE 1704z: WD4ELG (6211km) has just spotted me at an INCREDIBLE +2dB S/N.  VP8ALJ (12724km) has just spotted me in the Falkland Is.

UPDATE 1711z:  This must count as a pretty incredible 10m day.  Despite falling sunspots and an only "fair" 10m propagation forecast my TINY WSPR-AXE-CW beacon is reaching all over the planet. If there were stations on Mars I could almost imagine being copied there too!

UPDATE 1713z:    6m is still very very quiet, with not even a G to liven things up.

UPDATE 1925z:  VP8ALJ  (Falkland Is) has spotted my 10m 500mW WSPR 33 times so far this evening.

Reunion Island but no USA yet on 10m WSPR

FR1GZ (9724km) on Reunion Island in the south Indian Ocean has spotted me many times this afternoon, but not a single spot, well not yet, by a station in the USA.  By this time yesterday a lot of USA stations had spotted me. This is the magic of 10m - you can never be quite sure. Although FR1GZ was probably just F2 , it is possible this was a combination of Es and F2?

MLS video

Fellow amateur G1KQH has pointed me to the YouTube video by Martin Lynch at their new premises:
73 Steve

10m WSPR - a good start this Sunday

There seems to be both Es and F2 propagation on 10m this morning. VK2KRR (16789km) is the best DX spot, so far, at 1004z. By Es I have been spotted by IZ6QZB (I assume this is not F2 backscatter, but it could be?) and by EA8BVP (2986km) by F2.  Of course, I am also being spotted by the locals.

Sunspots and 10m - Sun April 26th 2015

Sunspot number has dropped to 77 (K=1) and 10m propagation is expected to be "fair". Yesterday was excellent with some Europeans reporting long path 10m propagation to Australia. I had loads of USA stations spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon (WSPR-AXE-CW by W5OLF - excellent). Today so far I have just had 10m WSPR spots from local G4IKZ (18km) - much quieter, so far at least.

UPDATE 1935z:   See later post. Today has turned out to be one of my best ever days on 10m WSPR.

25 Apr 2015

10m WSPR - an excellent day

Well, 10m is full of surprises! Today was an excellent day, with loads of unique 10m USA WSPR stations spotting me. There were actually more reporters as W5OLF spotted me but was reporting the wrong band.
Unique 10m WSPR spots of my 500mW WSPR-AXE-CW beacon today

USA already today on 10m WSPR

KK4LNS (6724km) was spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR as early as 1256z today. I assume this is F2 but it could be a mix of F2, F2 backscatter and Es. He has copied me 3 times already and it is only 1310z. Reports are not too bad either at up to -20dB S/N.

UPDATE 1330z:   Several other USA stations now spotting my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon.  This is early and it was unexpected.
Unique 10m WSPR spots today
UPDATE 1335z:   Still no spots at all today on 6m WSPR.

Spanning the Atlantic on 160m - with 10mW!

K3KQV has been copied in France when running just 10mW on Top Band WSPR. OK signals were weak at -29dB S/N, but he made it. Distance was 6214km to F59706 in the early morning.  Not sure of their antennas. I'd be pleased with this on 10m, let alone on Top Band! Here, the main RX limitation is man-made noise. F59706 must have a quiet RX set up or a quiet rural location.

Yet again it shows how good WSPR can be.

Definite Es on 10m WSPR

Withe the reception of OK2RO (1282km) several times so far today, I can be pretty confident we are now in the 10m European Es season. Several spots in the last few days might have been Es, but I was not totally sure. It means we can be pretty confident of Es most days until September. Just occasionally this may give us paths further afield than Europe, but these will be much rarer.

So far, no Es yet seen on 6m WSPR.

UPDATE 1233z:  With the weekend and better 10m prospects I see there are more people active on 10m WSPR today.  Last time I looked there were 70 users on 10m WSPR according to WSPRnet.  By contrast there are only 19 WSPR users worldwide on 6m WSPR.

PCs at bargain prices

Steve G1KQH has done it yet again! This time he has found some bargain price PCs.
I think we should get one for a spare Roger, £169 after cash back..
73 Steve

Good start on 10m today

As well as locals G4IKZ and G4KPX, I see that my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon was being spotted by EA8BVP (2986km) yet again, and by SA5, SM and CT1 stations today. This is probably F2 propagation, and some Es I guess.

UPDATE 1005z:  No Es on 6m, so far.

Sunspots and 10m - Sat April 25th 2015

Sunspot number has dropped back to 79 (K=0) and 10m propagation is expected to remain "fair".

UPDATE 0630z:  I notice that KZ8C also spotted my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon last evening. So there were actually 2 USA 10m WSPR stations who spotted me, not 1 as I had previously thought.

24 Apr 2015

10m USA WSPR spots - horrah!

K9AN (6505km) was the first 10m USA station to spot my 500mW WSPR beacon today at 1504z.  I guess the undisturbed conditions today really helped.
UPDATE 1850z:    Certainly up to now, the 2 spots this afternoon by K9AN appear to be "it", with no further USA spots since then.

UPDATE 1906z:   EA8BVP (2986km) has spotted me several times again today.

UPDATE 2030z:   Late opening to Italy suggests Es.

UPDATE 2120z:    As late as 2116z K9AN (6505km) was still spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon. K9AN must have a very good station (low angle antenna?) but I am surprised only K9AN was copying me in the USA. I would have expected other spots from other USA stations once the band opened. I shall leave the gear running to see how late this opening lasts.

UPDATE 2204z:  Tbe last USA spot seems to have been by K9AN about 30 minutes ago. Only the one USA station spotting me lots of times - odd.

East Anglian Churches blog updated - NOT amateur radio

Today we visited Sutton, near Ely and I have updated the East Anglian Churches Blog.

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

6m WSPR and aircraft

M0YOU (116km) has been spotted on 6m again this morning. He has also spotted me. On his signals are very clear signs of aircraft reflections with multiple traces visible. I think much of the GDX I am seeing on 10m upwards is due to aircraft. This mode seems good for at least 200km, but is transitory. Sometimes a badly Doppler shifted signal can be very strong but not decode. There are software programs to predict when aircraft will help. Many microwave DXers use such software.

Sunspots and 10m propagation - Fri April 24th 2015

Sunspot number has dropped back to 110 (K=1) and 10m propagation is forecast to be "fair". With undisturbed conditions even "fair" 10m conditions could result in some decent 10m DX.

UPDATE 1105z:  So far on 10m WSPR, my 500mW has only been spotted by local G4IKZ (18km)  and G4CUI (172km) , the latter presumably by tropo and aircraft reflections. No DX yet, but it is still early in the day.

23 Apr 2015

Inter-G DX (GDX)

When there are stations active both 6m and 10m seem to support GDX by a combination of tropo and aircraft reflection out to about 200km. It needs planes in the right places but today's results bear testimony to this. This evening G4CUI (172km) has spotted me many times on 10m. I am using just 500mW on 10m WSPR and 1W on 6m. Sometimes the RX traces show multiple paths and Doppler suggesting that aircraft reflection is involved.

Looking at new PCs

No, I don't really need one! This was me killing time waiting for the XYL in our local Cambridge branch of John Lewis. It is a very nice store and they always have long guarantees on TVs and PCs.

Concert reminder (Saturday evening) - NOT amateur radio

A reminder that the concert shown on the attached poster will be held this Saturday evening (April 25th) starting at 7.30pm.  Tickets may be bought on the door.  It is excellent music in a great venue (West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge).

Click image to enlarge.

6m WSPR yesterday (and today)

It seems I was only using an ERP of around 250mW on 6m WSPR yesterday as I had forgotten to reset the power on my FT817. I wonder if this is why I had so few spots? Today it is set correctly.

6m WSPR spots so far this morning
UPDATE 0922z:   Being spotted quite well by G8XWR (150km) this morning on 6m WSPR and also spotting him.  Not sure if this is pure tropo or there is some help from aircraft reflections. Probably the latter.

UPDATE 1202z:   Still plenty of spots from G8XWR (I have spotted him twice too) but no spots of anyone else on 6m.  Maybe, just maybe, things will live up with some 6m Es, although there has been no sign as yet of this on 10m. Normally Es is seen first on 10m, then 6m.

UPDATE 1504z:  No sign, so far, of any other stations on 6m.

Sunspots and 10m - Thurs April 23rd 2015

Sunspot number has dropped back to 134 (K=4) and 10m propagation is expected to be "fair". I am not expecting great things on 10m WSPR today although I have often been surprised.

UPDATE 0916z:   Local G4IKZ (18km) is the only station spotting my 500mW so far this morning on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 1053z:   Still just the spots from local G4IKZ on 10m, with nothing resembling DX spotting me. Ho hum. I hope the band livens up later.

UPDATE 1434z:   EA8BVP (2986km) has spotted me several times in the last hour but nothing further afield, so far, today.

UPDATE 1730z:  We may have had some 10m Es propagation as CT1 and EA1 stations have been spotting me over teatime.  It is possible that Es in this direction can link up with higher MUFs further south.

22 Apr 2015

No USA on 10m WSPR yet again

EA8BVP (2986km) has been regularly spotting me, but again a day with no spots from the USA on 10m, despite good conditions. I guess conditions have changed with the season.

Falkland Is spot on 10m WSPR

Although there have, so far, been no 10m WSPR USA spots, I was spotted by VP8ALJ (12724km) at 1612z at -25dB S/N. This is my best DX spot for several days. This station is in GD18 square which is the Falkland Is. At this time of the year N-S paths tend to be better on 10m than E-W. I am still using 500mW from my WSPR-AXE-CW WSPR beacon to my Par end fed antenna.

UPDATE 2152z:  Time to go QRT on 6m and 10m. A better day on 6m (all G's), but again no USA spots on 10m.

6m spots - M0YOU and 2E0BMG

At 0952z this morning I was able to spot M0YOU (116km) at a massive -8dB S/N on 6m WSPR. At this distance I suspect there must have been some aircraft reflections involved as the signals look too strong for pure tropo.

UPDATE 1750z:   I noticed that I spotted 2E0BMG (62km) oon 6m WSPR mid afternoon. At -23dB S/N not too strong but copied. This was probably tropo.

UPDATE 2100z:   M0MVB (30km) has been exchanging 6m WSPR spots with me for hours this evening.

Others - NOT amateur radio

Time and again I have to remind myself that we have very little idea what really goes on in the lives of other people.  On the outside all may appear fine, but inside they are living a real hell.

One of our neighbours, we found out only last week, has breast cancer and her daughter had post natal depression badly.  Both are so worrying.   We sometimes have to pinch ourselves and remind ourselves not to judge other people as we really cannot know all their inner worries. We must never, ever judge anyone. Accept them as humans like us with weaknesses and worries, as well as joy.

I so wish that everyone could be happy, but the human condition is we have joy and sadness. Overall, we have to love everyone as ourselves and be kind to everyone.  Everyone is a mixture of happiness and sadness: they are all vulnerable, just like us.

Sunspots and 10m - April 22nd 2015

Things look promising with a sunspot number of 153 (K=2) and 10m propagation expected to be "good". So far just G4IKZ (18km) but it is very early.

UPDATE 0912z:  Still just G4IKZ (18km) spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR. No DX yet but I am hopeful.

UPDATE 1100z:  Still just Nick G4IKZ spotting me on 10m WSPR.  Another disappointing day so far.  Maybe there will be some Es to liven thing up?  I now have grave doubts there will be any USA spots later.

21 Apr 2015

Optical testing - too easy?

Before dark, I tried TXing from one side of the house to the other reflecting my 481THz optical beacon off the windmill. Even by ear in 600 ohm phones the signal was very clear and very easy to find. This was only about 100m path length, but I wanted to check the gear still worked as it is a long time since I used it. Not sure what to try next as I still feel very wobbly on my feet and tire easily. At least I know my homebrew optical gear all works still.

10m USA - none today again?

Although I have again had plenty of reports from G4IKZ and EA8BVP (2986km) to my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon, it looks like there will be no DX reports and no USA reports again today on 10m WSPR. We seem to be moving more towards summertime 10m conditions.

UPDATE 1734z:  So far EA8BVP (2986km) has spotted me 25 times today since 1400z but a total absence of spots from stations in the USA.

UPDATE 1852z:  So far EA8BVP (2986km) has spotted me 31 times this afternoon, but still no spots from across the Atlantic.

UPDATE 1906z:  WSPRnet is currently showing 51 stations active on 10m WSPR.  There are probably more who have not spotted or been spotted in the last 10 minutes.   I guess it is just propagation that is against us.

UPDATE 1914z:   I see 10m propagation has been downgraded from "good" to "fair". Well, here it has been poor!

Next field test - optical?

After my very disappointing results on VLF earth-mode yesterday - I must get to the bottom of why results were quite so bad - I think my next test will be at the other end of the spectrum. We have a windmill very close so I may try bouncing optical signals off this to test my optical gear is working still.   It is a long time since I have done any optical experiments.This will not be too far initially, more a test of the gear before venturing any distance.

Sunspots and 10m - Tues April 21st 2015

Sunspot number is still high at 125 (K=3) today. 10m propagation is expected to be "good" although I have not been spotted by really DX stations for some days. Up to now (it is currently 1042z) I have been spotted on 10m by G4IKZ (18km) only with no DX reports at all on 10m, using my 500mW WSPR beacon.

UPDATE 1052z:  Only 42 stations shown as active worldwide on 10m WSPR according to WSPRnet. 10m activity is lower than it was and this is not helping.

20 Apr 2015

USA - no luck on 10m today

10m WSPR was a dead loss today with not a single spot on 10m WSPR all day from stations in the USA. EA8BVP (2986km) has spotted me very many times.

UPDATE 2125z:  Time to go QRT.  Tomorrow remind me to switch on the mains lead to the PSU!

VLF field test - a total failure!

Well, I did my first VLF earth-mode field test today since my brain bleed in Sept 2013. Sadly, it was a total failure. I am at a loss to explain the results.
Tuned VLF loop
I put the 5W, 8.976kHz, beacon on into the same earth electrodes used successfully on 472kHz (best DX on TX over 1000km) and went about 1.6km to a car park where I always had strong signals using a tuned loop on RX and earth-electrodes on TX from the old QTH in the same village. Nothing at all copied today - absolutely nothing. I waited in case I was in a pause between QRSS3 callsign transmissions, but no absolutely nothing at all. Not even the tiniest hint of a signal.
Deploying the VLF loop (Burwell in the background)
So I parked in the road about 0.3km from the home QTH and again nothing at all. At this point we drove home. What a dismal failure this was turning out to be. I am sure it is telling me something but I cannot work it out.  Sure enough, everything was still working at the TX end.  I am using one remote ground and the mains ground at the shack end, exactly as for 472kHz.  I did check this mains ground was grounded to real ground.
Checking Spectran on the PC - nothing !
Whatever utilities assistance I was getting before at the old QTH is not the same at this newer QTH. All very very odd. I was expecting to see something. In the past I received transmissions from the old QTH at the new QTH (about 0.3km away) using just an E-field probe on the car. From the old QTH I spanned 6km!

In summary, this VLF test was a total failure. I am at loss to explain things. Not only that, but the work has left me very exhausted. My brain is still foggy, but the results today were not due to any mistakes with the HW gear or PC Spectran settings.

I am not having much success today.

Confirmed - yes I am stupid!

After receiving no spots at all on 10m since yesterday afternoon I just realised one possible reason: although my 10m WSPR beacon was on, the mains switch (on the wall) was OFF!! So since sometime yesterday afternoon I had been syncing to internet time with no power at all on the WSPR beacon! I have now turned the PSU on (at the mains) and resync'ed to internet time. Hopefully I might be spotted now.

Talk about stupid.  Sometimes I amaze myself.  How could I be quite so daft?

UPDATE 1304z:   Now receiving spots from G4IKZ (18km) again. It will take about 15-20 minutes to stabilise as the PA warms.   I wonder what I missed this morning?   I shall never know.  Just been spotted by EA8BVP (2986km). Both EA8BVP and G4IKZ gave me good reports.

UPDATE 1404z:   Just EA8BVP and G4IKZ spotting so far. At least I know the beacon is now actually ON and working!  Oh I am so stupid at times!

UPDATE 1650z:  Still just G4IKZ and EA8BVP spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR so far this afternoon. No "real DX" DX as yet.

UK General Election - NOT amateur radio

A reminder than the UK General Election, which is only a few weeks away, is "first past the post" so if you are just one vote behind you lose everything. In the European elections I voted Green, but fear this will be a wasted vote in a "first past the post" contest.  Tactical voting will be needed.

For example, in my constituency Labour really have no chance of winning as they only got 6.5% of the vote last time. The Lib Dems (currently in coalition with the majority Conservative government) have a real chance of winning - they came a good second last time - especially as we have UKIP nowadays and the Conservatives could lose some votes to them. The most probable outcome is a Conservative win again in this constituency.

Nationally, the outcome is almost certainly another coalition government as the polls show Labour and Conservatives neck and neck nationally. UKIP support nationally is fading, although I always suspected this would be the case.

Sunspots and 10m propagation - Mon April 20th 2015

Sunspot number climbed further to 142 today (K=3) and 10m propagation is again forecast  to be "good". Results yesterday on 10m were very disappointing with no DX spots at all. Today, sunspot number is higher still but conditions are a little more disturbed. I am not expecting much, if any, DX on 10m today, but hope to be nicely surprised.

UPDATE 0844z:  So far today on 10m WSPR my 500mW beacon has been spotted by no-one at all! Even G4IKZ (18km) who regularly spots me must be beaming away from me and is not spotting me, assuming he is on. It is early yet though and there might be some single hop F2 stations in range active later.

UPDATE 1050z:   Still no spots at all on 10m so far today. I am quite disappointed as, with a decent sunspot number and a decent 10m propagation forecast, better things were expected. I guess it is still early though. G4IKZ (18km) is not shown as being active according to WSPRnet, although he could be on but has not spotted anyone in the last 10 minutes. When I last looked there were 41 active 10m WSPR stations worldwide - fewer than a few months ago, but not too bad. Some of these would be single hop F2 away from me. I guess the propagation is just not there.

19 Apr 2015

Brain dead or just stupid? - NOT amateur radio

See Remove Katie Hopkins as a Sun newspaper columnist.

This woman is writing total rubbish about poor and very desperate people trying to reach Europe in flimsy boats from Libya.  Many are fleeing wars or strife. Many have payed thousands for the trip and thousands have drowned.  The sooner this woman is stopped the better, press freedom or not.  If she reported the facts, all well and good. As it is, she is writing  to make money on the back of these poor desperate people. This is so very wrong.

The petition is being signed by very many people - in fact I have never seen one signed so fast!

The Sun is a popular UK daily newspaper. Some recommend it to wrap fish and chips.

Please sign and share on your social media.

No 10m USA spots of me today

I was both surprised and disappointed that, as of now at least, I have received no USA 10m WSPR spots today.  With high sunspot numbers, not very disturbed conditions and a "good" forecast for 10m, I thought I might have some success today. Although using a better antenna, G4IKZ was spotting Brazilians on 10m WSPR earlier. At present I need a separate RX to listen on 10m as I tend to TX 100% but randomise TX frequency.

UPDATE 1926z:  Still no USA stations, so I think I may have lost their reports until the autumn, although some might be able to spot my 500mW WSPR beacon by multi-hop Es over the summer. If the USA stations were going to spot me (as they did daily for months and months) today was probably the best chance in several weeks. It is several hours since G4IKZ has spotted me. I think Nick must be pointing his Moxon beam south?

UPDATE 2018z:  Still no spots by USA 10m stations. In fact no DX at all all day long on 10m! Soon be time to go QRT on 10m . I have already gone QRT on 630m (472kHz) as I have connected the earth-electrodes to my VLF beacon in readiness for the test tomorrow.

UPDATE 2155z:  I decided to leave my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon running through the night.  Judging by results today, I am only likely to get G spots off aircraft or locally.

VLF field test tomorrow

Today I adjusted the turns ratio on my 8.976kHz VLF QRSS3 and 10wpm CW 5W beacon to better match my earth electrodes. At this QTH they look much greater than 50 ohms, which I measured at the "old" QTH and optimised for.

On the way I managed to blow up a TDA2003 IC, which I had to replace. The whole exercise was far more exhausting than I was expecting. It seems that after about 10-15 minutes of physical or mental effort I am done in. Before my cerebellum brain bleed everything today would have been trivial. Now trivial tasks feel like climbing mountains! Although I can see progress in my recovery there is still a long way to go. One of my aims (among many) is to be able to resume field tests as before, but time will tell if I am really up to this: it is quite hard when your brain is still foggy a lot of the time. Oddly, when sitting down at home or when driving things are fine. It is when I do something requiring real physical or mental effort that I get tired. I guess the radio work today was hard as I had not done this sort of thing for some time.

Anyway, the good news is that I hope to do a VLF field test tomorrow.  Everything is ready and tested. It will not be until late afternoon as both my wife and I are busy before then. The XYL will be there at the test site if I get really tired.  Setting up the gear will be especially tiring in my current state. The test site is not too far from home. I have soak tested the TX and it should be fine on QRSS3 using my loop and Spectran at the RX end. I shall report results tomorrow. This will be my first VLF field test in over 18 months. How I have looked forward to this. If the loop is successful I may try the E-field probe.


My first introduction to radio was an "Electronics Workshop" kit by Heathkit. If memory serves me correctly this was my Christmas present in Dec 1961. It used a few transistors and othttps://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/hw8her parts with spring contacts and wires to configure each circuit.   No soldering was needed.

That Christmas I did my first Medium Wave DXing with one of the circuits and I was very exited to receive stations in the Middle East and Russia.   Other circuits included a very low power transmitter for MW. This used the crystal earpiece as the microphone. As I recall, it got to the next room in the house. This was the kick-off I needed.

Years later I owned a Heathkit HW8 QRP HF CW rig. It worked very well indeed and I worked some decent DX with it. It is such a pity Heathkit is no more as they made some really good kits.

I guess the nearest these days is Elecraft. Sadly Elecraft products are expensive in the UK:  good radios, but far too much. As an example for the price of one KX3 kit (better RX I know, but covering fewer bands) one can buy 2 FT817NDs ready built with a 2 year warranty. And I think we are paying too much for the FT817ND here in the UK!  If the KX3 is fully loaded with mic, ATU, 2m etc, then it is very expensive. The prices are as they are because punters are prepared to pay.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heathkit .
See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/hw8 .

Sunspots and 10m propagation - Sunday April 19th 2015

Sunspot number has climbed to 114 (K=2) and 10m propagation is expected to be "good" which is the first time for weeks.

This morning my 500mW 10m WSPR is being copied by locals G4IKZ (18km) and G4KPX (14km) but no DX stations yet. I am very hopeful that USA stations will spot me later on 10m WSPR and was hopeful of some decent 10m DX reports this morning too.

UPDATE  1227z:  I was surprised and disappointed to get no DX spots at all on 10m WSPR this morning. Although I still hope for some USA spot later, I am beginning to doubt this. Is it just getting too late in the spring, or have people gone down a few bands?

UPDATE 1320z:  Still only locals spotting me on 10m WSPR - very disappointing

18 Apr 2015

Churches blog - NOT amateur radio

A few weeks ago we visited St Botolph's church in Cambridge. I have just updated the East Anglian Church blog.

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

USA 10m WSPR spots

As I write this at 1835z, there is still no sign of any USA spots.  

EA8BVP (2986km) has spotted me 34 times so far today but, so far at least, very quiet across the Atlantic.

The band may still open briefly allowing my 500mW WSPR to be spotted over there, but the later it gets the less the chances are of my signal being heard.

UPDATE 2024z:  Well, yet again, I was wrong!  No USA stations spotted me on 10m WSPR today.

Soldering iron mended - and NON amateur radio DIY

I am quite pleased with myself, for once.

Although I still get tired, I seem to be less profoundly tired than I was. Today I managed to remove the plug on a spare 24V Weller soldering iron tool that I found and attach it to the base/24V supply. I checked it works  - it does. So I currently have 2 working soldering irons.

Also, I managed my first (minor) DIY job by repairing a trellis support on our bungalow front wall. I also raked out some dead moss from the front lawn ready to re-seed the patches. In the past, these would have been trivial tasks, but now they are major steps on my oh so slow road to recovery.

Recovery from my cerebellum brain bleed (Sept 2013) is very slow, but I am slowly getting a little better.

Hendricks Kits

These days, with dirt cheap kits from China often with free airmail, it is sometimes a wonder that any USA or UK kit companies exit at all. One of these I have mentioned before is Hendrick Kits, which always has a good selection on their website. These are best value if you live in the USA. Several kits are shown as "retired" which I guess means they did not sell well or they had problems with reproducibility. One favourite is the derivative of the BitX SSB design from Ashlan Farhan in India. This uses easily obtainable parts and has been a well proven design. Hendricks sell versions for 20m or 17m.

See http://www.qrpkits.com/bitx20a.html .

It looks like they have just moved so there might we a little delay until early May.

The power out, around 10W, should ensure plenty of contacts. These 2 bands are usually good even when the sun is quiet, so make a good choice. You have to choose either 20m or 17m SSB. I am sure Western kit companies would really value our business. "Use it or lose it", is a phrase often used about bands. In this case it apples to amateur radio kit suppliers. If we don't buy from them they will close their doors and cease trading. I am as guilty as anyone having recently bought a 40m Pixie kit from China.

From the Hendricks Kit website:
"The BitX20A and BitX17A are complete SSB kits with board, all parts, digital display and custom powder coated and punched case that is based on the BitX20 that was designed by Ashlan Farhan. The original version was built ugly construction, and you had to source all the parts. I discovered the BitX20 site on Yahoo in 2007, and decided that the BitX20 would be a neat kit for Hendricks QRP Kits. The problem was that it did not have a pcb. A team of Dan Tayloe, Jim Kortge and Arv Evans have worked countless hours making sure that the pcb version was stable and would meet United States F.C.C. Specs. We had to go through several revisions to get it right, and we are happy with the result, even though it took a long time. Some things just take time. The kit includes a commercial quality plated through, silkscreened, solder masked board, and all board mounted parts, plus the polyvaricon tuning capacitor, digital dial, custom powder coated and punched case, knobs and controls. Everything you need to build the kit is provided.
I encourage you to check out the BitX20 users group on Yahoo. They have agreed to provide support for the kits. There are hundreds of messages on there about the history and development of this kit. Our kit puts out about 10 watts, features dual IRF510's as finals in a push-pull arrangement. The schematic is available at the Bitx20 site on Yahoo. Cost of the kit is $180.00 plus shipping and handling."
The BitX looks a nice, useful radio. For a beginner it is just about all you need to get started.

472kHz daytime

G3WCB (101km) has been spotting my 5mW ERP from the earth-electrodes most of the morning. My last spot from The Netherlands was at 0528z by PA0RDT although I was spotting PA3ABK/2 at 0552z. When conditions are better I can usually be copied by Dutch stations at almost at any time night or day.

Sunspots and 10m - Sat April 18th 2015

Sunspot number has risen to a very respectable 92 (K=2), but 10m propagation remains "fair" only. I have the feeling I could get spots from the USA later this afternoon. So far this morning, lots of spots from locals G4IKZ (18km) and G4KPX (14km)  and a few spots from UA4UK (2814km). No other DX yet spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 1256z:  This morning it was mainly locals spotting me, but RA6WF (3628km) spotting me a few time was, like UA4UK (2814km), most probably single hop F2 propagation. I am still expecting a brief 10m USA opening later.  No earth shattering 10m DX this morning on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 1500z:  16 spots (so far) on 10m WSPR spots this afternoon by EA8BVP (2986km) and at lunchtime by EA1FAQ (1249km). The EA1 is almost certainly Es judging by the time and distance, although I suspect the EA8 is single hop F2 propagation. I am still hopeful of a few USA spots later.

17 Apr 2015

Sporadic-E (Es)

We are now on the verge of the summer Es season in Europe and the USA, so 50MHz should be good out to about 2000km. Occasionally much further is possible, allowing Asian, South American, Caribbean and North American stations to work Europe.

There is a good explanation of sporadic-E on the UKSMG website.  See http://www.uksmg.org/content/sporade.htm . If you are not familiar with this mode then I suggest you read it.

Es is great fun and just 1W ERP of SSB is enough to work most of Europe, and even beyond, from the UK.  Openings on 70MHz are less common and even less so on 144MHz. There are even more Es openings on 28MHz. If you have a big, high beam and high power it will help, but Es signals are often strong and I have not found QRP is much of a handicap on 50MHz Es. Yes, if you are after tropo or MS DX then I am sure the bigger ERP would be useful, but far less so with Es.

Personally I hope there is far more use made of WSPR this Es season. WSPR allows short openings to be seen: it requires plenty of active stations though. The temptation is to abandon the quieter bands and move downwards.  Before leaving 50MHz, think just how much your presence on WSPR could mean. By staying around and sending or looking for WSPR signals you would be really contributing to radio research.

Field work?

My tiredness is still a problem but I am getting closer to restarting field work at VLF.  I bought a new soldering iron and have found a replacement bit for my old Weller iron (it needs a plug removing before I can use it though) so I should be able to match my 5W earth-mode VLF beacon to the earth-electrodes at this QTH. This will then allow me to do a trip to my first location to see if I can copy the signal. I hope to do all this in the next few days. It may need my XYL to help, but I am sure she will not mind! You may recall, I tested the RX side with Spectran in the lounge a few weeks ago and could copy the earth-electrode VLF beacon (running QRSS3 into a dummy load) using an E-field probe.

10m USA spots

Only local spots by G4IKZ (18km) all day, apart from one spot by 4X4TAU (3564km) at 1018z.   No sign at all of spots from the USA, and I feel this is unlikely to happen.

UPDATE 1556z:  Still no sign of USA spots here on 10m.  Still transmitting, ever hopeful.  Only 39 stations are shown on WSPRnet as being active in the world. We need a few more!

UPDATE 1955z:  This is another day without any spots from stations in the USA. No USA spots at all and only one station other than locals all day. Will be going QRT on 10m WSPR quite soon.

472kHz WSPR

Very quiet since breakfast time. PA0RDT (243km) has spotted me several times, but nothing since breakfast.

Sunspots and 10m - Friday April 17th 2015

Sunspot number is 85 (K=4) today and 10m propagation is expected to be "fair". Based on yesterday, I am not expecting my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon to be spotted by USA stations today. But, as always, 10m may surprise us!

So far this morning local G4IKZ (18km) and just one spot of my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon from 4X4TAU (3564km) not long ago. No further DX spots reported.

16 Apr 2015

472kHz (630m) WSPR rather than 6m

Overnight and today I have stayed on MF rather than QSY to 6m.  Another few weeks and I shall definitely turn my attention to 6m. I think I was rather too early (time of year) to catch any 6m Es.

On 472kHz, the best spot of me was by G3XKR (347km) in North Devon several times overnight.   My best spot was of DK7FC (669km) several times last evening. His report would have been much better with an optimised RX. I know my 472kHz RX system is deaf.   It has been very quiet all morning on MF.

UPDATE 2000z:   G4JVF (151km) has spotted me several times this evening on 472kHz WSPR.

10m WSPR - quiet

EA8BVP (2986km) has just spotted my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon, but apart from this only local G4IKZ (18km) copying me this morning.  In summary, 10m WSPR has been very quiet with no sign of what I'd call real DX. I think EA8BVP was F2 single-hop, but this could have been Es

UPDATE 1300z:  a few spots from EA8BVP, quite a lot from G4IKZ and nothing else, well so afra at least.

UPDATE 1532z:  A few Italians spotting me on 10m WSPR this afternoon. I think these were by Es. It is early in the season but 10m is probably the band with a good chance of catching early openings - 6m, 4m and 2m would be progressively later I think.  2m Es openings tend to be rare, whereas they are much more common on the lower frequencies.

UPDATE 1700z:  Still no sign of spots from stations in the USA on 10m WSPR. Somehow I think I shall not be copied in the USA today. If it does open, it will be a very short opening on 10m today. It looks like the good times of daily USA F2 10m openings have ended at least this spring. I am still hopeful of 10m USA openings in the autumn. This year I must not forget the CQWW SSB contest in late October!

Loop motors

Magnetic loop antennas can be very effective, small, antennas. They work well and are ideal for modes like WSPR, JT65, JT9-1 and PSK31 where frequencies don't have to be moved much. Their main disadvantage is they are narrow-band so require retuning if moving very far in frequency and they are directional.

As ever, Steve G1KQH has been tracking down bargains - in this case motors that could be used to either tune or rotate loops.

Tune up your loop remotely, only needs a coupler and a bit of ingenuity which I know your not short of?

They also have 6 volt too

Just needs a simple adjustable Voltage regulator.

20RPM model on eBay

Sunspots and 10m propagation - Thursday April 16th 2015

Sunspot count has dropped back to 85 (K=5) and 10m propagation is expected to be "fair" today. So far, just local G4IKZ (18km) spotting my 500mW WSPR on 10m.  Things feel subdued on 10m.  I am not expecting to be spotted in the USA on 10 today.

15 Apr 2015

QSYed from 6m to 630m (WSPR)

Having got one spot on 6m all day on 6m, G6AVK (78km), I have just QSYed to 630m (472kHz) WSPR. Within minutes I was spotted, albeit weakly, by PA0RDT (243km) despite my 5mW ERP and earth-electrode "antenna".

UPDATE 2102z:  I shall stay on 472kHz WSPR overnight. Let's hope that Windows 7 does not turn the PC off at 0300z in the middle of the night to do updates or that the software does not crash. It has been known to happen.

UPDATE 2106z:  I shall also stay on 10m (28.1246MHz) WSPR overnight just in case I get spotted by any Gs off aircraft. I am not expecting any real DX.  I see I have just spotted DK7FC on 472kHz WSPR.  I must improve my MF set-up for next autumn as Stefan should be much stronger and it is my deaf receiver that is at fault.

10m USA - not today, well not yet at least

It is now 1648z and there is no sign of 10m opening to the USA and my 500mW WSPR beacon being spotted. Of course, it is possible the band may open to the USA later, briefly. Local M0MVB (30km) was spotted several times this afternoon.

UPDATE 1945z:  No sign of 10m WSPR spots today of my 500mW beacon.  It is now getting quite late so it is very unlikely my 10m WSPR beacon will be spotted across the Atlantic this evening. Just in case, I am wrong (and I frequently am wrong!) I'll leave the 10m beacon running. I may QSY from 6m to 630m though on the other rig.

The active Sun?

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=zXN-MdoGM9g .   An impressive video showing how active the Sun has been since 2010.

Activity is now declining to the next sunspot minimum. Many experts predict the next solar cycle (cycle 25) will be very weak indeed. Some are even saying we are approaching a Maunder Minimum with extreme cold on the way and virtually no sunspots for many years. Predictions are getting good these days.

See also http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/paulhudson/entries/6d50a6bd-779a-32d6-bfca-06e4484d6835 .  This dates from 2013, but still applies. The last peak was a pretty weak affair. The next could be almost a non-starter. A Maunder Minimum might help offset global warming to some extent?

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

Elections in UK - NOT amateur radio

At the moment the FTSE 100 share index is over 7100 - giddy heights! With the UK General Election not many weeks away and a very close run contest, I expect the markets to tumble with the uncertainty of the outcome.

The last poll I saw showed Conservatives and Labour neck and neck. The UKIP vote could lose Conservative votes.  I am definitely not voting UKIP who seem to want us out of Europe only. To me, they are not a credible party, more of a protest vote party.

We live in a democracy, so we vote for the party of our choosing.

I shall probably vote Lib Dem again. In a coalition government they could (again) be a good moderating influence whether the major party is Conservative or Labour.

6m WSPR - no luck today so far

6m WSPR has again been a disappointment. No spots given or received so far today on the 6m band.  F2 propagation is, so far, absent for me even on 10m, so I guess the only hope on 6m is some Es (unlikely) and tropo/aircraft reflection.  I shall probably stick on 10m and 6m for the rest of the day whatever.  Es (if it occurs at all) is normally best around lunch and teatime, so rather too early in the day for this mode I guess anyway.

Lawns need cutting, so WSPR can run in the background.

UPDATE 1022z:  With just a handful of stations shown as active worldwide on 6m WSPR, I shall be lucky to see any 6m spots today!

UPDATE 1315z:  Still no 6m spots today.

UPDATE 1950z:  At last a 6m spot! My 1W ERP was spotted weakly by G6AVK (78km) about an hour ago. As the drift was quite high, this looks like tropo with aircraft reflection.

Sunspots and 10m propagation - Wed April 15th 2015

Sunspot number has climbed to 97(K=3) but 10m propagation is forecast to remain "fair" only.

UPDATE 0823z:  So far just local G4IKZ (18km) spotting me on 10m WSPR, but it is still very early. Obviously conditions are not right yet or my 500mW is too low.

UPDATE 1015z:  Still just G4IKZ spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR. WSPRnet shows 49 active stations worldwide on 10m WSPR.  Several would normally be in single hop F2 range.

UPDATE 1100z:  CT1JTQ (1843km) and EA8BVP (2986km) now spotting me on 10m.  Could be Es but probably single hop F2?

UPDATE 1312z:   Just G4IKZ for ages now on 10m WSPR.  I suspect CT1JTQ and EA8BVP may be Es?

14 Apr 2015

432MHz UKAC tonight

Stations worked with 5W/5el tonight
I was late starting this evening and my stroke affected voice means I stay on for quite a short time. Best DX with 5W/5el (hand rotated) from home was 199km and I managed to work 4 QTH locator squares.

East Anglian Churches blog updated - NOT amateur radio

Today we visited Cavendish in Suffolk and I have added this fine place to the church blog.

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

6m disappointment

Despite being on 6m WSPR for most of the day, it was useless, with not a single spot given or received. Outside the Es season the band can be very quiet. I had to double-check all was working and that the PC had not crashed.No,everything was fine. As I write this at 1845z there are just 14 active stations in the entire world on 6m WSPR, so my chances are slim!

USA 10m WSPR spots today

Well, 10m did open to the USA, but quite late with KD6RF (7547km) spotting my 500mW WSPR at 1730z. Since then, there have been a few others too.

UPDATE 2132z:   The last USA station to spot my 500mW 10m WSPR was KZ8C (6290km) at 1902z. This turned out to be a short-lived affair. Signal report was not bad at -19dB S/N but the opening just died to the USA. G4IKZ, CT1JTQ and EA8BVP have all spotted me since.

Sunspots and 10m propagation - Tuesday April 14th 2015

Sunspot number is 68 today (K=1) and 10m propagation is expected to be "fair". Not quite sure how 10m will be today.

UPDATE 1003z:  G4IKZ (18km) and EA8BVP (2986km) are the only stations spotting me on 10m this morning. I am still using my 500mW WSPR-AXE-CW 10m beacon. I have just switched from 630m to 6m on the FT817 and PC, running 10m and 6m together but on different rigs.

13 Apr 2015

QSYed to 472kHz for the evening/night

As of about a minute ago, I have moved from 6m to 630m.  6m was very quiet today.  I am still using 5mW ERP and the earth-electrodes on TX (and RX) on 630m (472kHz) WSPR. As yet no spots on MF but the night is young.

UPDATE 2008z:   Starting to give and receive 472kHz WSPR spots.
472kHz WSPR so far - only been active about 25 mins
UPDATE 2036z:   Plenty of 472kHz WSPR spots now.
472kHz WSPR - first hour
UPDATE 2130z:   Even more spots.
472kHz WSPR - this evening so far.

6m - a total blank

I have been on 6m WSPR all day (V2000 vertical, 1W ERP 20% TX, 80% RX). As of now (1720z) I have spotted no-one and no-one has spotted me either. I shall be on 6m WSPR most of the evening, although I suspect that if there are any spots these will be locals.

UPDATE 1942z:   As I am drawing a blank today on 6m, I think I am going to go back on 630m shortly.

10m - no USA (yet) again but more Europeans by Es?

On 10m WSPR EA8BVP (2986km) has spotted me a few times.  In addition, spots from SA5 and OZ suggest more Es.  Still no sign of spots from the USA, well not as yet. I have doubts the 10m band will open to the USA at all today.

UPDATE 1926z:    Although the better stations in Europe are spotting USA stations on 10m, no-one has spotted my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon today in the USA. Time is running out.

6m - all quiet so far

It is about a day now since I was last spotted by anyone on 6m. I am still active (vertical omni V2000 and 1W ERP) but the level of activity is very low and Es has still to really get going this season on 6m. I am on 6m TX 20% and RX 80%.  I will be on 6m all day and this evening.  So far, a few days ago, I was still only being spotted by G stations by tropo and aircraft reflection.

Stroke - small steps

Recovery progress is painfully slow these days.  For the last week I have had more energy in the mornings after breakfast. Until about a week ago I'd have breakfast  and then be totally exhausted. For about a week now I have managed to do a few household tasks before resting. The progress is small, but this is progress and I am grateful for it. I still get exhausted but not quite as badly. I seem to require rest, but I am not totally "done in".

All I want is my old self back. Energy to do things I always enjoyed!  To be able to drink a cup of tea or coffee or a glass of water without choking most times - life's simple pleasures you don't realise until they are no longer possible.

Sunspots and 10m propagation - Mon April 13th 2015

Sunspot number today is a respectable 64 (K=2) and 10m propagation is expected to be "fair". So far this morning on 10m WSPR, my 500mW beacon has been spotted by local G4IKZ (18km) only, although it is still early. 

If the 10m band is in "fair" condition, I'd expect a few real DX spots, as long as there are active stations! At the moment (0934z) there are only 29 stations active on 10m WSPR in the whole world according to WSPRnet.  I really do hope people stick with 10m when the going gets tough. On 6m lack of WSPR activity has been a real killer. I am sure WSPR will be an excellent tool for finding short 10m openings.

As I have said before, even at the depths of the solar minimum I have worked South Americans (greater than 11000km away) with real QRP SSB. If there are to be 10m openings then WSPR will find them.

UPDATE 1114z:  Still only local G4IKZ (18km) spotting me on 10m WSPR this morning. I think we are seeing the effects of fewer active stations on 10m now and the end of springtime conditions. I have serious doubts we'll see any USA spots today on 10m WSPR. However this is 10m and anything is possible!

12 Apr 2015

Cambridge Concert Reminder - NOT amateur radio

A reminder that there is a very fine concert on in Cambridge, UK, on the night of April 25th 2015, 7.30pm, at the West Road Concert Hall. This is a great venue with excellent acoustics. If you can come you will not be disappointed. Details are on the attached poster (click to enlarge). You can get tickets before the day (see website www.cambschoral.org.uk for details) or on the door.

10m Es already?

This lunchtime my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon was being spotted by stations in Austria and Italy.  As this is classic Es time (around lunch and teatime) I am wondering if this is Es (sporadic-E) propagation?

UPDATE 1448z:  I see that my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon has,also been copied by F5OWL (1110km) a couple of times. This make me thing we did have some 10m Es around lunchtime. Still no reports received today from outside Europe.

UPDATE 1734z:  Still no sign at all of any spots of me by USA stations. It is getting late now so the possibility is reducing. I was expecting to be copied in the USA today, but this is 10m and anything is possible!

6m WSPR this morning

Only local spots so far today, but some excellent reports from G4KPX (14km). Still hoping for some DX outside G soon. None yet seen.
6m WSPR (1W ERP) this morning

Another quiet start on 10m WSPR

All morning it has been pretty quiet on 10m WSPR with just a single spot from 4X4TAU (3564km) at 0958z. The remainder of spots have been from a local G. Certainly quieter than I expected today.

Sunspots and 10m - Sunday April 12th 2015

Sunspot number has climbed again to 74 (K=1) and 10m propagation is expected to be "fair" today. Early 10m spots were from local G's - G4IKZ (18km) and G4KPX (14km). I have the feeling 10m will open to the USA this afternoon.

US Masters (Augusta) - NOT amateur radio

As a teenager I played golf regularly (16 handicap at best) although it is many years since I played. My brother still plays regularly. Both my parents were keen golfers. Now, with my cerebellum brain bleed, these golfing days are probably gone forever.

This does not stop me enjoying the US Masters from Augusta on the BBC each April. The course is always perfect and the flowers around the course are a real joy. As I write this Justin Rose, England,  if he holds his nerve, is in 2nd place and still in with a real chance.

The final round is tomorrow - I shall be staying up to watch it.   The US Masters is one of the TV highlights of the year. I know my younger son, currently on holiday in Australia with his in-laws, will be watching it too, but over breakfast!

See http://www.masters.com/index.html .

11 Apr 2015

6m "surprise" and 10m "no-show surprise"

First nice surprise was to be spotted on 6m WSPR by G3ZJO (79km) for what is the first time I think. He gave new -24dB S/N a few minutes ago.

Eddie has copied me on 472kHz and 500kHz. I think Eddie must have been working on his TX and RX set-up on several bands as he seems better with me on 472kHz and he is able to copy me on 472kHz despite my very low ERP. I am not sure what he is using on 6m but very pleased to be spotted by him on a new band.

UPDATE 1724z:   G3ZJO has spotted me 4 times so far on 6m but, at the moment, not a single spot received on 10m. The total absence of spots on 10m is the first time in years I have known the band so quiet.  Sadly, I suspect that outside of the Es season this could become the norm, especially if people leave the band for "richer waters" lower down the spectrum.  Today there are only about a third of 10m WSPR users compared with a few months ago.

UPDATE 1805z:  The latest spot from G3ZJO was -21dB S/N suggesting my signal is getting stronger with Eddie.

UPDATE 1924z:  Still no spots at all on 10m WSPR, so I suspect there will be none today at all.  On 6m, no further spots given or received since the 4 spots of my 1W ERP (vertical) by G3ZJO much earlier. Either Eddie has gone QRT on the 6m band or propagation has changed. I suspect the former.
6m spots by G3ZJO today

USA 10m WSPR spots??

Yet again, my 500mW 10m beacon is being copied by absolutely no-one in North America, or for that matter anywhere else at all!  Unless thinks improve I think this will be one of my worst days in months on 10m.  Of course, things could rapidly change on 10m and 6m, so definitely worthwhile sticking around longer on both bands awaiting some surprises.

Especially on 10m, I've found that whatever I forecast turns out to be rubbish!

Sunspots and 10m - April 11th 2015

Sunspot number is 34 today (K=4) and 10m propagation is expected to be "poor".

So far, on both 6m and 10m I have drawn a total blank with no-one copying me and me copying no-one too.

Late "on parade" today

Today our "London" grandchildren went home so I have only just turned on the 10m and 6m WSPR kit. It takes about 20-30 minutes for the 10m 500mW WSPR-AXE-CW beacon to fully settle from a cold start as the PA has to warm and the frequency of the reference stabilise. Both sets of WSPR kit were turned on at 1440z. The 10m beacon should have stabilised fully now. The 6m kit should also be warmed up fully now.

As said before the little ones take priority. They are still very very little and their innocence sadly will not be there to be enjoyed for ever. At the moment all our grandchildren are delightful. We are very very lucky.