31 May 2015

10m F2

EA8BVP (2986km) was spotting me on 10m WSPR yet again at 1552z.  He has spotted me now for months on end, sometimes until very late in the evening.  So far, this is the only longish distance DX to be heard. With the poor sunspot conditions I suspect this will be the best DX on 10m today.

UPDATE 1936z:  At 1916z SA0CAM (1352km) was spotting my 500mW WSPR beacon on 10m by Es. This was the first Es report since this morning here on 10m.

No real voice

Although I (just about) get onto the East Cambs 2m FM net most Mondays on 144.575MHz for about 20 minutes and I get on for about 1 hour in the 2m and 70cm legs of the RSGB's Tuesday evening UKAC contests, I find using my voice hard work, so I avoid talking on the radio too much currently.  CW is not easy either. 

I certainly hope my (stroke affected) voice improves this year.  In the meantime I tend to use WSPR a lot, currently on 10m and 6m as this gives me a good indication about propagation and can be monitored elsewhere in our home via WSPRnet.

Tenner - a 500mW CW transceiver for 10m

This was a rig I built and used a few years ago for 10m CW.  As you can see, the design is simple but it worked across the Atlantic many times. Pull the crystal too much and the RX-TX offset becomes too great. Ideal as a simple rig for 10m CW.

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

Sunspots and 10m/6m - Sun May 31st 2015

Sunspot number is little changed from yesterday at 27 (K=1) and 10m is expected to remain "poor". Apart from local G4IKZ (18km) spotting me there was a little Es evident mid morning with my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon being spotted in France and Sweden.

UPDATE 1145z:  On 6m this morning no F2 or Es seen here but plenty of G stations spotting me or being spotted.

30 May 2015

East Anglian Churches blog updated - NOT amateur radio

We actually visited Wiveton Church in North Norfolk a couple of weeks ago,  but I have only today updated the blog to reflect our visit.

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

MOSFET crystal sets

Some years ago, QST had an article on a crystal set based on a zero bias MOSFET.  Although I have yet to try this sort of design I have no doubt they will work well.  Crystal sets derive all their power from the TX and in the past I have achieved some remarkable (well for me!) results.  Best was receiving Radio Australia (from Australia) as well as some amateur Gs on 80m and 160m at a considerable distance. In the USA some 75m AM amateur stations are regularly heard at great distances.

See http://makearadio.com/visitorsprojects/ralf-mosfet.php .

GQRP Club and SPRAT magazine

Several times in the past I have said that, if all other magazines had to be cancelled I'd keep GQRP Club's SPRAT magazine. This small format magazine comes out quarterly and is excellent value for money. You don't get the endless adverts by the few remaining national radio companies in the UK, just a few adverts from companies selling bits.  Every quarter there are articles showing things to build or ideas on which to base your own projects.

SPRAT really is first class and all produced by unpaid volunteers who love our hobby. As much as I enjoy browsing PW and RadCom, I look forward to getting SPRAT far more.

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

10m Es, no Es on 6m today so far

There was Es propagation on 10m WSPR with spots from Sweden and Portugal starting before lunch, but, so far at least, no signs of any F2 propagation. Quiet on 6m WSPR so far with just G stations up to 134km (G4BRK) and no signs of any Es on 6m so far today here.

UPDATE 1625z: EA8BVP (2986km) has been spotting me several times this (late) afternoon. This is single hop F2.

CCS - NOT amateur radio

My wife sings in a local choir and I do their website. You do not want to hear me sing, believe me!

See www.cambschoral.org.uk  for details of the choir. If local you may want to join the choir and sing? Otherwise you may want to attend the next concert?

6m WSPR this morning

On 6m WSPR this morning I have only seen GDX spots and no sign, yet, of any Es propagation. It is early days and Es later is entirely possible.  Best DX so far is G0OQK at 98km. Some of this GDX may only be possible via aircraft reflections, evidenced by lots of Doppler traces on the received traces.
6m WSPR this morning so far (overnight spots not included)

Sunspots and 10m - May 30th 2015

Sunspot number has risen to 23 (K=1) and 10m propagation is expected to remain "poor".

UPDATE 0925z:  Only local G4IKZ (18km) spotting me overnight and this morning so far on 10m WSPR.  I reset the 10m beacon clock to internet time just before breakfast time.  No F2 or Es spots seen yet on 10m WSPR here.

UPDATE 1835z:    EA8BVP (2986km) has spotted me 32 times so far today by F2, but no further DX.

29 May 2015

Es on 10m and 6m WSPR

I noticed Es propagation on 10m and on 6m WSPR today as well as single-hop F2 to EA8BVP (2986km) on 10m.  Conditions otherwise on 10m have not been good.

UPDATE 2015z:   EA8BVP (2986km) has spotted me (single hop F2) no less than 77 times so far today. Getting further is proving impossible, but this path seems to be open daily.

Stroke update - NOT amateur radio

Not sure if the cranial osteopathy is the reason, but I do seem to be less tired than I was.  This week we have had all our little grandchildren staying (2 lots of 2 and they are all less than 7.5 years old) yet I am coping better.

Overall, I still have a poor voice and poor thin liquid swallow and I still feel drunk when walking, but feeling less tired is a positive step on a long road. Small steps.

Return to 6m WSPR

Last night I had to use my FT817 and PC to check the frequency and DT of my 10m WSPR beacon. Since about 1000z I have returned to 6m WSPR as well as 10m WSPR.  So far, no Es seen on 6m WSPR but I did get spotted by G3ZJO (79km).

I received a weak 6m WSPR direct signal with lots of aircraft reflection signals, but this did not decode. The signals reflected off aircraft were much stronger but with lots of Doppler shift., sadly too much to allow the WSPR software to decode. This is often the case. Aircraft reflection only works on WSPR if the Doppler is sufficiently low.

UPDATE 2022z:  A little Es on 6m WSPR but most spots were GDX.
6m unique WSPR spots today.

Big wheel antenna

Big Wheel for 2m
A good 2m antenna for horizontal polarisation is the big wheel. Quite a few beacons use these as they require no rotator and a couple of these stacked give about 5dBd gain horizontally. So, these would be ideal for fixed station use. They would suit me well for UKAC 2m contests and general 2m SSB/CW use. I know that my 3 el, hand rotated, beam has about the same gain.  One big wheel alone is better than a halo, but two suitably phased would be better than a small beam.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/bigwheel .

Sunspots and 10m - Friday March 29th 2015

Sunspot number has dropped to 11 (K=1) and 10m is expected to remain "poor" today. These are figures more typical of a good day in the sunspot minimum  years.

At least my DT was good on my 10m beacon overnight. Still unsure why it was so high before doing a frequency change and long hard reset by turning off the beacon's DC power supply.   My WSPR signals on 10m should all be in-band now, whereas before some fell outside the lower WSPR sub-band limit so most people would not have noticed these.

UPDATE 0822z:   Most spots overnight were by Nick G4IKZ (18km) but there was one spot from Italy by Es at 0730z.

28 May 2015

DT puzzle

As you may recall, I use (very successfully) on 10m a WSPR-AXE-CW beacon by W5OLF.  In the last 6 months this has served me well.  However I was puzzled by a second report last night that both DT was way out (around 4.7) and the frequency was sometimes outside of the lower end of the WSPR sub-band. I decided to check DT locally using my FT817/PC as a receiver. Sure enough, DT was very high. Setting the clock to internet time -4 seconds made almost no difference. This evening I set my beacon TX frequency about 150Hz higher (adjusted the multi-turn pot) and, for reasons I do not understand, my DT has dropped to - 1.4 setting to internet time exactly on an even minute. It seems resetting the frequency has also fixed the DT issue. Perhaps this is something to do with Wolf's software? Anyway, I am now waiting for local Nick G4IKZ to confirm my DT findings.

UPDATE 2216z:  For reasons I do not claim to understand, I needed a long hard reset (mains power off for 20 secs) to get modulation to appear after a small frequency adjustment. All seems to be working now but the beacon will be on overnight to see if the modulation remains on.

Sunspots and 10m - Thursday May 28th 2015

Sunspot number has dropped like a stone to just 24 (K=1) and 10m propagation is "poor". No F2 DX seen today.  Only Es seen here has livened up the 10m band.

27 May 2015

Birthday - NOT amateur radio

A few days ago, one of our grandchildren was 4. Here she is with her dad and her brother opening her present from us in our back garden this afternoon.

Back on 6m WSPR

The "Kent" grandchildren have returned home, so I have my shack back. The "London" grandchildren are due soon.

As well as my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon, I have now returned to 20% TX on 6m WSPR since 1052z. The very first TX burst resulted in 3 spots by G stations with best DX 114km from G4AYT in Kent. The double spot by G3ZJO is interesting. I don't think it is my end, so it suggests a direct path (tropo) and one off aircraft with suitably low Doppler? I'd need to see the trace received by Eddie to be sure, but that is what it looks like.

Initial results on 6m WSPR this morning
UPDATE 1112z:  No 6m Es seen yet.

UPDATE 1844z:   EA117URE (1177km) - SWL or special call? -  was spotting me by Es at 1742 this evening on 6m WSPR.

Sunspots and 10m - Wed May 27th 2015

Sunspot number has fallen to 48 today (K=1), lower than recent weeks, and 10m is again forecast to be "poor".  Es may, of course, liven up 10m and 6m.

UPDATE  1042z:  OE6PWD (1232km) and IZ6QZB (1475km) recently spotted my 500mW WSPR beacon on 10m Es.

UPDATE 2006z:  According to local G4IKZ my dT (ever after a spot-on resync to internet time) is way off (greater than 4 seconds off) . I sync to internet time every 5 minutes on 6m and use this clock to sync my WSPR-AXE-CW beacon, normally once a day.  I'd be interested to know the dT that others measure on my 10m signal.

Early 10m Es

As early as 0550z my 500mW 10m WSPR was being spotted in Italy. This is very early for Es. I shall get back on 6m WSPR later.

VLF upconverter

VLF upconverter
Some years ago I was looking for a simpłe VLF upconverter (to receive SAQ) and came up with the simple circuit shown in the link. This was later improved by HB9DAO. The improved design is also shown.

If you want a simple introduction to VLF or LF listening these circuits may give you some ideas. It would not be suitable for serious amateur VLF use over any distance when high dynamic range, long integration periods, and very narrow bandwidths are pretty essential.  It is ideal for reception of commercial VLF signals and time standard transmissions.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vlf/vlfconv .

26 May 2015

Cranial Osteopathy for Stroke - NOT amateur radio

I still have several stroke related issues (feel drunk when walking, tire easily, poor thin liquid swallow, poor voice), so today I started a series of cranial osteopathy sessions with someone recommended to me in Cambridge. The first session went well and I have fixed up a couple more sessions.  Some people swear that this works, whereas others say it is "quack medicine".  I go open-minded.

Time will tell if these sessions help with my symptoms. Although I am improving, the pace has slowed considerably so I am game to try anything that may help. After all this time I still do not feel right. I just want to get my old self back!

Back on 6m WSPR tomorrow

As our "Kent" grandchildren return home tomorrow and our "London" grandchildren arrive until Saturday, I should be back on 6m WSPR tomorrow. I get my shack back tomorrow as our "London" grandchildren are old enough for beds. This means that from around lunchtime I shall be active on both 10m and 6m WSPR.

UPDATE 1818z:   10m WSPR has been quiet today.  EA8BVP (2986km) has spotted me several times again by F2 and DK6UG (633km) by Es, but otherwise just locals. So far, at least, a very quiet day on 10m. As yet, on WSPR this has been a subdued season on both 6m and 10m. I don't think I've missed much on 6m these last few days.

Sunspots and 10m propagation - Tues May 26th 2015

Sunspot number is little changed at 66 (K=1) and 10m propagation is again expected to be "poor".

Apart from locals G4IKZ and G4KPX only early F2 spots from EA8BVP (2986km). No, what I would call , "real" DX  yet on 10m despite the undisturbed conditions. No Es seen here on 10m. I am not currently on 6m as I cannot access the shack PC easily.

25 May 2015

10m BitX transceiver

I notice that someone has created a 10m (28MHz) version of the BitX transceiver. Yes, all would like more details but we don't know who you are!

Anonymous said:  "I have successfully designed and built a 28MHz version of the BITX transceiver. The main reason for this project was to drive homebrew transverters for 6, 4 and 2Metres. Contact me if you would like details."

Fourbox transceiver

G7CKF's Fourbox
Jenny, G7CKF  has now taken the 2m Fredbox design and created a 4m version called the "Fourbox".
Hi Roger,
    I feel I should drop you a line with my thanks and the link below, I've used your QRP AM transceivers as the basis for a 4M transceiver and published it on my blog. I've come back to amateur radio after a 20 year absence and since construction was always my main interest in the hobby I reached for the soldering iron.
There is no sparkling new insight to be had from it as it's pretty much your fredbox with slightly bigger coils. There is no crystal because I am cheating and using a Raspberry Pi clock generator to make my 70.260MHz.

My QTH is IO91lw, between Bicester and Buckingham and rather low lying. Very little 4M activity hereabouts, sadly, so the chances of my actually working anyone with it are slim. But that's not really the point of building, is it.

Anyway, hope you find it of interest, and thanks again for sharing your designs.

Jenny, G7CKF

Optical communications over the horizon

I have been too unwell to do this recently, but not long before my brain bleed (Sept 2013) I was amazed at optical communications over the horizon, non line of sight (NLOS) using clear air scattering.

The inspiration for all my optical experiments came from Stuart Wisher G8CYW who did a great series in RadCom a few years ago.

Testing optics
My home made transmitter only consumed about 0.7W from a red LED bought on the internet. My homemade RX and TX used homemade optics based around cheap drain pipes and cheap magnifying glasses. The whole RX and TX were simple and low cost. Only simple test gear was needed too. It is a bit like microwaves, but easier to build and test.

There was no sign at all of the TX beam in the sky.  All alignment used dead reckoning with some panning at the RX end to find the TX.

Using free PC software and QRSS3 helped as bandwidths as low as 0.37Hz were possible.

When fitter I want to try infra-red LEDs instead.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/optical/481thz-nlos.

Sunspots and 10m propagation - Monday May 25th 2015

Sunspot count is 74 today (K=1) but 10m propagation is again expected to be "poor".

UPDATE 1253z:   So far today, apart from a couple of locals on 10m, only CT1JTQ (1843km) by Es. No DX seen, well not yet, on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 1834z:  A little Es and single hop F2 spots from EA8BVP (2986km) but no "real" DX on 10m so far today.

24 May 2015

Flotta Island IOTA

Southgate Amateur Radio Club News reports that the Orkney Amateur Radio Club is activating Flotta Island in the Orkneys mid July. I am not a great DX chaser, but I can understand the motivation behind IOTA. Of all the DXing activities, this is the one I could imagine doing.

See http://eu009.webplus.net/ .

Grandchildren this week

Over the next week, we have both sets of grandchildren staying with us. For the first half of the week, my shack houses a travel cot so I have far less access to the amateur radio gear and PC.  I hope to remain on 10m around the clock ( PC only needed to sync the clock) but my access to 6m will be much more restricted. Although tiring, the grandchildren take priority.

UPDATE 1945z:   Es (and EA8BVP via F2) on 10m WSPR during the day, but no Es evidence here on 6m WSPR where only G stations have been spotted and spotting me.

UPDATE 2052z:   EA8BVP (2986km) spotted my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon 21 times today, so far.  I presume these were all single-hop F2.

6m WSPR this morning

So far today, only G stations spotting me and being spotted on 6m WSPR.  No Es seen yet on the band. G3ZJO (79km), G0LRD (25km), G8EPQ (77km), G0OQK (98km) and G4APB (88km) so far in the 6m WSPR logs.

W5OLF WSPR beacon

W5OLF - WSPR-AXE-CW beacon
There are other solutions around for WSPR (like the Ultimate 3 kit from Hans Summers - excellent I am told) but I have had Wolf's 10m 500mW,  fully stand-alone, WSPR beacon (WSPR-AXE-CW) running more or less continuously for 6 months now. This fits in a small Altoids sized box and needs no PC at all. The frequency is randomised but always on TX. My antenna is a 3 band low wire and certainly not the best for 10m. Despite this, it has been copied in the USA most days for months and has been spotted in every continent on the planet including Antarctica and Australia. If I am around, the 10m WSPR beacon is usually on. If you are after a fully stand-alone WSPR beacon for 30m, 20m or 10m these beacons are on a single PCB and work well. As the photo shows, the board is simple and the kit comes with a pre-programmed chip with your callsign, locator and power ready for use.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/w5olf .

Sunspots and 10m - Sunday May 24th 2015

Sunspot number today is 69 (K=2) and 10m propagation expected to be "poor".

UPDATE 0905z:   EA8BVP (2986km) was again spotting me very early on 10m WSPR. I presume this is F2. Otherwise just local G4IKZ (18km) spotting me. No real DX spotting me, well as yet!  Always hopeful, even though the 10m forecast is "poor" today again.

UPDATE 1038z:  CT1JTQ (1843km) spotted me a couple of times recently by Es, which appeared about 20 minutes ago here on 10m WSPR.

Overnight surprise on 10m

At 0132z I was spotted by CT1JTQ (1843km) on 10m WSPR. I assume this was an isolated Es opening, but was surprised by the time, which was the middle of the night. The beauty of WSPR! Leaving WSPR running whilst getting on with other things is certainly a good idea. How else would such a fleeting 10m opening,  in the middle of the night, be noticed? 

This is especially true on 6m where WSPR should allow short openings, often at odd times, to be noticed and recorded. Often short openings can be missed.

23 May 2015

How simple?

Some years ago I attempted to see how few components were needed to communicate on 10m. The Lesser Chirpy was the best I could manage. This was a derivative of The Chirpy, which worked, but had far too much chirp!

Looking at the circuit I see I could save 1 component by replacing C1 and C2 by preset C's and shorting out C3. This would allow the TX-RX offset to be set. If one was made a variable rather than a preset the RX-TX offset could be adjustable.

Since being ill I have not tried the rig. A limitation was the limited RX sensitivity, meaning only stronger stations would be workable.  However, the rig does work and is very simple. Another possibility is to switch to an external RX but allow the internal RX to be used when signals are strong enough. The TX power is certainly enough to span the Atlantic and work all over Europe.

The secret to low chirp on 10m is the use of FSK rather than CW. Essentially the TX changes frequency rather than go from RX to TX every time. This means full break-in is not possible in such a simple circuit. Can you do better? If so, I'd love to see the schematic please. I make no great claims for my circuit, which is an amalgam of ideas. Pure fun!

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

6m Es

EA1KV (1304km) has spotted me twice, so far, on 6m by Es.  I am sure there many be other Es stations this lunchtime and teatime on 6m WSPR.   Apart from this Es opening, all spots (given and received) have been G stations - G3ZJO (79km), G8EPQ (77km) and G6IMT (65km).

UPDATE 1600z:  Teatime and the Es is back again on 6m.  EA1KV (1304km) is again spotting my 1W ERP on 6m WSPR.

UPDATE 2002z:   No further 6m Es WSPR spots seen here this evening.

Sunspots and 10m - Sat May 23rd 2015

Sunspot number has risen to 81 today (K=1) but forecasts for 10m remain "poor".  It is too early really to judge here but apart from EA8BVP (2986km - single hop F2) there is no evidence yet here at 0920z of any long distance spots of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon. Others running more power may get spots from further afield?

UPDATE 0947z:   CT1JTQ (1843km) now spotting me several times, I assume by Es.

UPDATE 2200z:  EA8BVP (2986km) was spotting me as late as 2120z this evening, but no USA spots again.

EA8BVP (2986km) - early 10m WSPR spots today

EA8BVP (2986km) was spotting me by F2 as early as 0724z this morning on 10m WSPR.  No other spots apart from G4IKZ (18km) and G4KPX who I think is reporting the wrong QTH locator unless he is on holiday somewhere.

22 May 2015

Pixie kit prices - truly incredible prices

Since my post earlier on this blog about low cost 40m Pixie kits from the Far East, I have been told that Bangood was selling these kits today for a staggeringly low price! This information is thanks to Spence M0STO. Earlier they were for sale at an incredible £2.67. 

At this price you might just buy the crystal here in the UK!  The kit comes with ALL parts (apart from battery, key and headphones) and a very nice silk-screened PCB. Don't forget this is with FREE shipping.  Unbelievable.

My kit from them worked first time. It was the first time I'd built anything in a LONG time because of my stroke. At this price it is an offer too good to turn down. AM breakthrough was perfectly usable (i.e. low) and RX sensitivity fine. I got over 400mW out too. Don't forget, this is a complete 40m CW transceiver.
Sorry for the double post but the kits are here and the Customer Service is second to none. Beware the prices change daily inline with currency. http://www.banggood.com/DIY-Radio-40M-CW-Shortwave-Transmitter-Kit-Receiver-7_023-7_026MHz-p-973111.html

6m WSPR update

A few people have noticed that 6m WSPR is quiet when the band is open and there is Es about. This is understandable as working all over Europe is possible with QRP SSB in a decent Es opening. I still hope there will be more DX (USA, Canada, South America, Africa, Caribbean, etc) on 6m WSPR this spring/summer. It requires people to stick with the 6m band and the WSPR mode.

Today on 6m my best DX (spots exchanged in both directions) is G4BRK (134km). I suspect this is tropo enhanced by the presence of aircraft in favorable positions. This was certainly the case with G8EPQ earlier. Eddie G3ZJO was tracking where planes would be to give enhancements. No sign of Es today on 6m WSPR, well not so far.

I am pretty sure some paths are only possible when planes are near the path and the reflections off the aircraft result in favorably low Doppler shift. It is quite common to see strong aircraft reflections but no WSPR decodes. I have seen this on both 6m and 2m. There is some drift as my rig goes from TX to RX, so often the Doppler I report is not Doppler, but drift in my rig. With aircraft reflection it is quite common to see multiple reflections with different amounts of Doppler. On some transmissions I have seen up to 6 different signals from a single TX as a result, presumably, of planes in a stack.
6m WSPR unique spots so far today.

UK Earthquakes - NOT amateur radio

Earthquakes are far less common in the UK than in some other countries, but they do occur.  Last night one occurred in Kent shaking homes and waking people in the middle of the night. This one was 4.2 on the Richter scale. This one was felt by my son near Canterbury and they think some tiles came off their cottage roof.  They live in Sturry, which is just a few miles east of Canterbury.

Some UK earthquakes have caused real disruption and damage. This one must have been quite a shock to those that were aware of it. Being in the middle of the night, many may have been totally unaware that it happened at all.   Even though this one lasted several seconds it was nowhere near the force of the recent ones in Nepal which were many orders of magnitude stronger.

The strongest earthquake in the UK in recent times was in Colchester in 1884. It measured 4.6 on the Richter scale. Some reports claim up to 5 people died.

FT817 replacement at last?

It may be on its way, late, but on its way at last:

K3NG reported on www.amateurradio.com on his visit to Dayton:
"Yaesu did not announce an FT-817 replacement, which salespeople in the booth sheepishly acknowledged."
I wonder if they plan to launch this by Christmas? I expect it will push C4FM. As Yaesu has missed the last solar peak, I wonder if this one will include 1296MHz and omit the lower HF bands? One covering all bands from 12m-23cms with auto-ATU on HF would be good. I have already said the features I'd expect in earlier blog posts.

Sunspots and 10m - May 22nd 2015

Sunspot number has dropped to 36 (K=1) and 10m propagation is expected to be "poor". I am not expecting great things on 10m today.

UPDATE 1757z:  Same old culprits on 10m WSPR today!  CT1JTQ (1843km) via Es,  EA8BVP (2986km)  via F2 and G4IKZ (18km) local.  No real DX seen, well not so far. I shall be on the band probably all night, so should catch any late opening to the USA although I am not expecting the band to open, but I am often wrong!

UPDATE 2017z:  Still no stateside DX on 10m this evening.

21 May 2015

10m - disappointing today

With the best of the day now gone, it was a disappointing day on 10m WSPR.  In all, just 4 stations spotted my 500mW WSPR beacon. EA8BVP was again the best DX spot at 2986km. He has spotted me most days now for months by single-hop F2. Other Europeans were probably Es.

I am still on the lookout for a really big Es opening to places outside Europe, maybe South America or Japan.
Unique station spots on 10m WSPR today.

DST 100 receiver

My very first communications receiver weighed a ton (it took 2 people to move it!) and was a DST100. I believe it was made by Murphy during WW2. This receiver, I have since learnt, was designed for intercept listening. It was built like a tank with a huge rotary turret tuning unit. The radio cost £7 from a local garage and it was overhauled (new valves?) by (the now late) G3CHN. It covered from around 50kHz to over 30MHz and heard some impressive DX. I was always puzzled why signals were so broad on the lowest range, not realising at the time that it covered 50 to about 150 kilohertz!  This was in 1962.

At that time there was little amateur band gear available (none from Japan) and lots of us used WW2 surplus gear which was available at low cost from many suppliers. Popular receivers were the AR88 and CR100. Transmitter-receivers included the WS19, WS38 and 52 sets.

Amateur radio in the 1950s and 1960s was quite different with lots of HF AM still and most people building their own transmitters. SSB was in its infancy. In many ways it was the high point of the hobby, although today we are blessed with low cost gear, free software,  more modes and more bands. The hobby means different things to different people. Long may it continue.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/dst100 .

6m WSPR update

So far on 6m, just the usual spots exchange with G8EPQ (77km). No Es seen here on 6m today yet. I shall stay on the band all day to check though.

UPDATE 1818z:  G4AYT (114km) has been spotting me this teatime on 6m WSPR. Very low Doppler, so I am wondering if this is pure tropo?

Sunspots and 10m - May 21st 2015

Sunspot number has fallen to 61 today, but the K index is down to 1 indicating more stable conditions. 10m propagation is expected to be "poor" again today, although Es may well help liven up the band. I have already had lots of 10m spots by EA8BVP (2986km) by F2 and CT1JTQ (1843km) by Es. Just hoping for further afield, but this is probably less than likely. We'll have to wait and see.

20 May 2015

160m indoor loft antenna

Some years ago G6ALB and I wanted a simple talkback link that we could use when co-operating on experiments. We were 3km apart with Andrew being in the next village. We immediately thought about simple AM rigs for topband (160m).

As I had no 160m antenna, I built the design linked here. This antenna works well with best WSPR spots being over 1000km.

We decided that topband was too noisy for our simple AM rigs for our intended purpose. The noise floor at both our locations is very high on 160m.  I have since moved QTH but we are still thinking about this link. We are now 3.3km apart. Probably 6m would be a better choice as less noisy and we both have vertical antennas.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/160m_loft_ant .

10m WSPR - early spots by EA8BVP

EA8BVP (2986km) was spotting me early today, I presume this is F2 propagation. This is promising for the rest of the day, even though the 10m forecast is "poor". Otherwise just local G4IKZ (18km). No Es or GDX by tropo or aircraft seen yet, but it is very early.

UPDATE 1020z:   Apart from EA8BVP and G4IKZ, 10m WSPR is very quiet so far this morning.

UPDATE 1735z:  CT1JTQ (1843km) has been spotting me a lot of the afternoon. I think this was Es.

UPDATE  1940z:  F and OE spotting me on 10m WSPR. More Es.

6m WSPR this morning

I have been spotted by G8EPQ (77km) and have spotted G8EPQ as well and spotted G0OQK (98km) this morning on 6m WSPR.  As yet, no Es seen here but it is still very early. Both G8EPQ and G0OQK may have been aircraft reflection assisted I think.

UPDATE 1732z:   2E0BMG (62km) was spotted at 1600z.

UPDATE 2034z:  M0YOU (116km) was spotted at 2010z. The Doppler suggests aircraft involvement.

472kHz (630m) WSPR overnight

Late yesterday evening I changed from my "strapped feeders and loading coil" 630m antenna to the earth-electrode antenna that I'd been using all winter on MF. Spots on 472kHz (630m) WSPR  by G7NKS (46km) immediately jumped upwards by 6dB. This may be directionality, but results were definitely better.  I know my RX is deaf on 472kHz.  It tells me the "strapped feeder" antenna is not that brilliant!

Overnight the best DX was reception of DK7FC (669km) who is always a good signal and a spot by PE1RKT (285km). When I went back to the earth-electrode on 472kHz I resumed 10m WSPR beaconing but I was only copied by G4IKZ (18km) during the overnight period.

Now I am back on 6m (rather than 630m (472kHz)) and 10m WSPR.

Sunspots and 10m - May 20th 2015

Sunspot number is virtually unchanged at 84 (K=3) and 10m propagation is expected to be "poor". So far just local spots on 10m.

19 May 2015

630m this evening?

In view of the dire conditions today on 6m and 10m, I am slightly tempted to try my QRP ERP on 472kHz WSPR (630m) this evening and overnight. Noise levels will be higher but it would be interesting to see if anyone copies me or if I copy anyone. I'll decide after tea.

At some point I want to try 136kHz again. I can run my QRP QRSS3 beacon into my earth-electrodes and go looking locally with my mag-mounted E-field probe. At the moment I don't feel fit enough though. From the old QTH I managed 250km on 137.5kHz WSPR. I need to make a better antenna for LF/MF at this QTH. I have space for a long wire with some vertical loading. Maybe in the autumn?

UPDATE 1852z:    Just returned to 472kHz (630m) WSPR using the strapped feeder of my Par 10/20/40m wire antenna tuned against ground with a loading coil. As yet, no reports given or received. Will stay on 630m late tonight and possibly overnight. QRT on 10m and 6m as I need the antenna (for 10m) and the PC and FT817.

UPDATE 1940z:  Still no spots given or received on 472kHz.  Since the winter there are fewer active stations it would appear.

UPDATE 1942z:  With only 10 active 472kHzWSPR stations shown as active in the entire world, I think I shall be pleased to get any spots in the log today.

UPDATE 2015z:  4 spots received from G7NKS (46km) are the only spots so far on 472kHz. Reports are within 1dB, so very consistent, if weak.
472kHz band WSPR spots by G7NKS this evening

Amateur VLF DXing

Operating an amateur station at VLF is a very specialised area of experimentation. There are basically 2 different threads (1) earth-mode or utilities assisted earth-mode with propagation mainly along or close to roads and (2) radiated DXing in which a VLF signal is actually radiated and propagated to great distances. With (1) I have managed 6km with QRSS3 with 5W from a TDA2003 audio IC at 8.97kHz. Earth-mode gear can be low powered and simple to build.
VLF amateur signals
With (2) the Atlantic Ocean has now been crossed, i.e. quite remarkable distances with amateur powers and antennas. Usually very large loading coils are needed and making these can be "challenging". As high voltages are likely, great care is needed. Of course, most DXing is done with very long stable transmissions in very narrow bandwidths. Most amateur VLF gear is home made with free PC software to allow signals to be seen. Casual listening is not effective.  Most operation is now around 8.300kHz as this is unallocated in many countries.

News of VLF activity may be found at https://sites.google.com/site/sub9khz/ .

6m tropo?

G8EPQ (77km) and I continue to exchange 6m WSPR spots today. Although there is evidence of aircraft reflection, this is probably mainly tropo at this range.   About 1Hz of the drift is due to my rig. When there is a large drift I suspect this is aircraft Doppler shift, so the dominant signal then (that being decoded) is via aircraft. So, probably tropo, but also via planes.

G4BRK (134km) was spotted on 6m WSPR yesterday but not seen him yet today.

Sunspots and 10m - Tuesday May 19th 2015

Sunspot number has dropped back to single figures standing at 83 today.  K=4 suggesting reasonably disturbed conditions. 10m is expected to be "poor" today. I am not expecting great things of 10m today, although some single hop F2 is possible and Es across Europe is always possible at this time of year.

UPDATE 0910z:  So far, the only 10m spots have been from local G4IKZ (18km). No 10m Es and no 10m F2 yet.

UPDATE 1046z:  Still just being spotted by local G4IKZ (18km) and nobody else on 10m.  I see the Southgate News is reporting a moderate geomagnetic storm.   See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2015/may/geomagnetic_storm_on_may_19th.htm#.VVsVTkZQqPc .

UPDATE 1535z:  Still only G4IKZ (18km) spotting my 10m WSPR beacon. This is a bad day. Otherwise a total blank!

UPDATE 1600z:   K has reduced to 2 (was 4) suggesting conditions are improving. I wonder if we will see any DX this evening on 10m?

UPDATE 1755z:   Indeed a totally dire day, so far, on 10m WSPR with just local spots: no F2, no Es, nothing DXwise at all.

18 May 2015

Miracle Whips and derivatives/copies

A 56 inch long whip can only behave like a 56 inch whip. This is a basic law of physics. What the Miracle Whip (MW) and its derivatives do is match this whip on the HF and VHF bands. With a decent ground or counterpoise wire the MW may be only a couple of S-points down on a "decent" antenna on the higher HF bands. They work reasonably well and, in the past, I used my MW quite a bit, even from indoors.  They are definitely NOT a miracle antenna, although they are not too bad.  Since the owner, a Canadian called Robert, died there have been a few newcomers in the market.

Would I buy one today? Probably not. I have had better results with small loops.  As a simply deployed mainly RX antenna they make an ideal companion for an FT817 or similar. Their beauty is their simplicity. If you want optimum performance in a small antenna there are better solutions.  Small loops seem to work better, but then bandwidth becomes very narrow although loops don't need grounds or counterpoises to work well. Personally, at QRP levels I'd use a loop every time.

As Wheeler showed years ago, efficient small antennas are reactive and unless losses are minimised, efficiency suffers. This is a fundamental limitation. Although high permeability ferrites and high permittivity ceramics can help to alter the size of space near an antenna and "magnify" the effective size of small antennas, the effect is small unless there is a lot of ferrite with high permeability or a lot of ceramic with a high permittivity. In theory, a tiny antenna can be very efficient but you'd need superconductors and lossless capacitors!  At the moment, sadly, neither are practical for mortals!

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/mwhip .

10m Es this teatime, but no luck on 6m WSPR Es

It is currently 4.35pm local time and I see that my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon has already been spotted 3 times by IK3JBR (1146km) by Es. I expect several more Es reports on 10m over teatime. Around lunch and teatimes are often good times for Es.

As yet today, no sign of 6m Es, here at least, although I continue to be on both 10m (500mW, 100% TX) and 6m (1W, 20% TX, 80% RX).  At this time of year, arguably, 6m is the more interesting band.  Both are good fun though and filled with surprises.

UPDATE 1800z:  Plenty of 10m Es about and EA8BVP (2986km) has spotted me 26 times today so far by F2 on 10m WSPR, but so far today just G stations spotting me and being spotted on 6m WSPR.

UPDATE 2128z:  Late 10m Es in the form of CT1JTQ (1843km) at 2108z and EA8BVP (2986km) has been copying me all day by F2. However, no sign at all of 10m WSPR spots by USA stations either by F2 or multi-hop Es.  I think it is getting too late, although I shall be on 10m and 6m all night again.

Wallflowers - NOT amateur radio

Wallflowers at Cley, North Norfolk
Last week we were in North Norfolk visiting various churches and the rhododendrons at Sheringham Park. We ate at a pub called "The Three Swallows" in Cley-next-the-Sea. These wallflowers were just outside a house between the pub and the church. At the right temperature these smell wonderful.

Yaesu FT7 HF transceiver

Yaesu FT7 - a true classic
Way back in about 1979 I owned a Yaesu FT7. This was a 10W HF rig using a modular construction.  It was a beautiful radio with a lovely, quiet receiver.  It is probably the best radio I have ever owned and used. It predates WARC bands and only covered one 500kHz part of the 10m band and the non-WARC bands from 80m-10m. Today, it looks large. It was an analogue radio - no memories, no synthesisers - just a very good HF radio transceiver.  I worked all over the world with mine using QRP SSB and simple, low, wire antennas and no beams, mainly on 10m. In those days, most (all?) USA SSB was above 28.5MHz. Canadians were mainly below 28.5MHz.

My little FT817 has more bands and modes and is about 1/10th of the size.

I can thoroughly recommend the FT7, but they are very hard to find.  A later version was 50W pep and had full 10m coverage in 4 x 500kHz sections. The FT7 was a "real" radio - no gimmicks, just a truly amazing rig. Many who owned them and sold them (like me) later regretted selling them. As they say, these rigs are "keepers".  If you find one you are unlikely to be disappointed.  Also, the handbook was complete so you could service it and not an SMA component in sight!

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/ft7 .

Jackdaws - NOT amateur radio

At the QTH we moved to a couple of years back, just before I was taken seriously ill, we see far fewer smaller birds. They are around but don't seem to be attracted to the bird table or nut feeders. We get a reasonable number of small birds in the garden and nearby such as dunnocks (hedge sparrows), great tits and blue tits, robins etc. Maybe they visit other bird tables or find food naturally very locally?

Our nut feeders seem to attract larger birds in the main like pigeons and collared doves. We have lots of trees and other cover. Every morning at much the same time we get jackdaws on the bird table. We have red legged partridges in the road most days and we have even had mallard ducks in the garden.

See http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/discoverandlearn/birdguide/name/j/jackdaw/ .

Sunspots and 10m - May 18th 2015

Sunspot number has fallen again to 75 (K=2) and 10m propagation is expected to be "poor". I think a 10m USA opening is less probable today.

UPDATE 0748z:   Early Es on 10m this morning with a spots from OE (Austria) and I (Italy) before breakfastEA8BVP has already spotted me many times today. I think this is single hop F2.

6m WSPR and aircraft

Just checked my early spots of G8EPQ (77km) and notice 3 Doppler shifted traces suggesting the involvement of aircraft reflection in the path between us. The path is so regular that pure tropo may support propagation but signals may well be enhanced by well positioned planes on the path with sufficiently low Doppler to allow WSPR decodes.

UPDATE 1058z:  G0OQK (98km) was spotted at 1028z, presumably helped by aircraft.

17 May 2015

10m this evening - USA again

K9AN (6505km) was the first USA station to spot me on 10m WSPR this evening at 1928z. This is much earlier than last night.  

W1VR (6965km) was the next USA station to spot my 500mW 10m WSPR at 2012z. This would be F2 propagation I guess, although there is 10m Es from across Europe this evening. It is just possible both these were multi-hop Es, although I think this unlikely.

WG2Z (5600km) was just spotting me 4 times already. This looks a better USA opening than last night!

UPDATE 2035z:  No signs here of any 6m Es on WSPR.

Microvert antennas and similar

See http://t54979899.blogspot.co.uk/?view=classic .

It looks like the Microvert antenna may have originated in Japan? The Microvert is a very compact antenna. Some believe the coax is a major part of the radiating system. Having never tried this sort of antenna I am unable to comment.  This was posted to the Microvert Yahoo group earlier:
Whether you believe it's the coax radiating or not, this is still interesting:

The Super Rad Antenna (Induced Secondary Radiation Antenna)

The Super Rad Antenna (Induced Secondary Radiation Antenna)
The Super Rad Antenna (The Induced Secondary Radiation Antenna) was thought up in 2006. It has high performance although small size.

Preview by Yahoo

There are other websites about SRA (secondary radiation antenna), but unfortunately all in Japanese. Its definetly a Japanese thing!

I have all the parts required here to make one of these. Whether you believe its the coax radiating or not the results will be interesting.

PS. My old 10m/12m modified microvert gives a good SWR.

Pedestrian portable DXing

In the past, when fitter, I had a lot of casual fun working real HF DX with simple rig mounted antennas and batteries. In fact I have worked some impressive DX with QRP SSB using just the whip on the rig, mainly on 15m and 10m SSB.  Best DX includes South America from my late mother's back garden on 15m SSB with the FT817 at 2.5W setting

One advantage is you can move the rig and antenna of optimum signal on receive. A small counterpoise wire is pretty essential to get best results. When fit again I'd like to do more of this, but currently my poor health is getting in the way.

Others, far more dedicated than me, have worked far better DX. Some get up early to work Australia from beaches with QRP on 20m. I have also worked a long way into Europe on 2m FM with QRP. 6m SSB Es is certainly workable with small rig mounted antennas.

I think you have to believe than this is possible (HF DX) and it will happen. Think how strong some signals are. On the higher HF bands a base loaded, or better still a centre loaded, whip is not that far down on a full sized vertical.

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

6m update

As of now (1100z) only Gs being spotted, or spotting me, on 6m WSPR. Still hopeful of catching some 6m Es later.  Best DX currently is G8EPQ (77km) who has been spotted and has spotted me several times. G4KPX (14km) has been spotting me well.

UPDATE 1135z:   G4AYT (114km) in Kent is currently the best 6m DX spot of me today. He spotted me at 1118z and again a little later.In the past be has spotted my QRSS3 on 136kHz too from the old QTH I seem to recall. Not sure of his QTH but it is either in or near Whitstable, which is not too far from my son who lives and works in Sturry, near Canterbury.   No 6m Es seen here yet. 

UPDATE 1750z:  Still no 6m Es today, but G4IOG (106km) is a new G reporter I believe.

Sunspots and 10m - May 17th 2015

Sunspot number is 103 (K=2) and 10m propagation is expected to be "fair" today.  I was surprised that 10m briefly opened to the USA last evening, but this is where WSPR proves its worth catching very brief openings.
UPDATE 1055z:  10m Es in evidence with spots this morning from CT, SM and EA.  No DX outside of Europe seen on 10m so far today.

UPDATE 1815z:   Plenty of Es around and lots of spots by EA8BVP (2986km) presumably by F2. He has spotted  me 21 times today far. The K index has dropped to 1 and I am hopeful of a brief USA 10m opening later this evening.  We will have to wait and see. In the meantime, I am also on 6m WSPR hoping for some Es outside Europe.

16 May 2015

10m USA spots again this evening

Quite late this evening 10m opened to the USA. W1VR (6985km) was the first to spot my 500mW WSPR at 2112z followed by others. This is the first time in several days that I have been spotted in the USA on 10m. I think this was F2 rather than Es.

I am still looking for those elusive 6m WSPR openings to the USA. As yet, I have not seen any sign of transatlantic 6m DX on WSPR.

Ferrite rod transmitting antennas?

OK, I only tried this with WSPR and with low power, but at my old QTH I had a good deal of success using a small ferrite rod as a TX antenna on some HF bands. As long as the ferrite is not in saturation there is no good reason why it should not work. Most problems will occur if the antenna is driven with too much power.

See the link for more details. I have no idea about this ferrite rod's properties but I think it was a fairly standard piece of ferrite rod and nothing too special at all.

Since being in hospital for 3.5 months and moving QTH I have not been able to find the ferrite rod to repeat the tests. My wife moved most of my stuff and it is probably deep in a box somewhere! At some point I guess it will just turn up.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/ferrite_tx .

6m WSPR - quiet so far

On 6m, no evidence here yet of any Es or F2 DX.  G4BRK (134km), G4NRG (58km) and G8EPQ (77km) in the logs this morning.  Early in the morning still, so plenty of time to catch those fleeting Es openings on 6m WSPR.

UPDATE 1604z:   6m Es seen today with spots from CT and DL, although I would class the Es openings as "modest" affairs.  Certainly, the band has not been wide open here.

UPDATE 1650z:   No further 6m Es seen, so far. Maybe later?

Sunspots and 10m - May 16th 2015

Sunspot number has declined to 113 today and 10m is expected to be "fair". K=2.  Es is likely to liven up the band.

EA8BVP on 10m today - early spots

EA8BVP (2986km) was spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon very early today with the first spots received when still in bed before breakfast.

UPDATE 0948z:  Evidence of 10m Es with reports from France and Italy.

15 May 2015

6m - a good day

Today was the best day on the band this year here with some excellent spots of my 1W ERP.   So far, apart from 4X1RF, no spots yet received from outside Europe. Last Es season I was regularly seeing spots from CN8LI and others in North Africa.

For the first time this year I was copied further away on 6m than on 10m.
Unique 6m WSPR spots (arranged by distance) today.

Magnetic Loops on HF

10m band loop
A magnetic loop can be a very effective HF antenna, especially when the very sharp tuning is not an issue. They can be very efficient but there is a trade between bandwidth and efficiency. They are ideal for modes that do not need frequent retuning such as PSK31, JT65 or WSPR. Ideally the inductor should be made of copper pipe or thick coax and the capacitors need to be low loss and high voltage types. Tuning is usually very sharp. Having said all this. quite decent results have been obtained with loops made of quite thin wire.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/magloop .

6m WSPR - real VHF DX

4X1RF (3519km) has spotted my 1W ERP on 6m VHF WSPR already 6 times this morning by 0914z. This is my best DX so far on 6m this season. Probably Es?  There was plenty of European Es about on 6m WSPR very early, but this just possibly could be single hop F2? It is a long way for Es and 4X1RF often spotted me on 6m last summer. Multi-hop Es is the likely propagation although I am surprised no intermediate range stations were spotted.
6m VHF WSPR spots of my 1W ERP by 4X1RF early today
UPDATE 1148z:  As well as G stations this morning I see I have been spotted on 6m WSPR by OH1KK (1848km) and EA4ETR (1325km) both I assume via Es. Funny how both of these would be "real DX" but are nothing compared with the spots from Israel earlier.

10m conditions

Although still very early, I see my little 500mW 10m WSPR beacon is being spotted all over Europe by Es. It is soon easy to forget these summertime conditions. This autumn and winter I expect 10m F2 conditions will still remain quite good but things on 10m will be tougher later in the solar cycle which is when WSPR will be very useful indeed.
Unique 10m WSPR spots in last 12 hours - lots of Es
UPDATE 1635z:  EA8BVP (2986km) is again spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR (F2?) but no DX spots from further afield, so far today. Plenty of 10m Es about.

Sunspots and 10m - May 15th 2015

Sunspot number has dropped back to 126 (K=2) and 10m propagation expected to be "fair". With fairly undisturbed conditions anything is possible on 10m today especially if we get Es linking with F2 further south.

14 May 2015

Elecraft K3S

See  www.elecraft.com .

I see Elecraft has launched a de luxe version of its K3 transceiver. The K3 was already a pretty good rig and the S version will be even better, but sadly far too expensive. I guess Elecraft is right that this will be many times less expensive than similarly spec'd transceivers, but to me this is still far too much for an amateur radio rig. Don't forget that lots of the features cost more - like the mic and 2m!

At half the price maybe, but certainly out of the question here in the UK when shipping, import duty and VAT have to be added. I am able to get lots of fun from our hobby spending just a small fraction of the cost. There will always be people who will pay these prices and buy a tower and a big beam.  Sorry, but this is not for me. I wish Elecraft well but feel they will need to slash prices soon to compete with the Chinese. An alternative is for Elecraft kits to be shipped from China. Sorry, but this may be the only way they will be able to compete in the future.

Plenty of 10m Es today

As well as 6m, 10m WSPR has been alive with Es today. Below are the unique 10m WSPR spots today. No real DX, but plenty from around Europe spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon.
Unique 10m WSPR spots by Es today so far

6m Es - at last a decent Es opening

This lunchtime there was a significant Es opening on 6m WSPR.  Although there have been minor openings before, this was the first decent 6m Es opening I have seen here.  So far, best DX was OH5XO (1943 km). Nothing outside Europe so far.
Unique 6m WSPR spots so far today.
UPDATE 1528z:   Best DX spot on 6m WSPR is now OH7AI at exactly 2000km.

UPDATE 1552z:  6m Es has been present most of the afternoon.

UPDATE 1844z:   HB9 and I stations have also spotted me on 6m WSPR.

E-field probes

A very successful antenna for VLF, LF and MF receive only is an E-field probe. Ideally these should be mounted outside the house with some experiments to find the quietest spot. Size is not important and these are much smaller than many antennas for much higher frequencies.  The picture shows an example EFP. This is the complete antenna - no wires or loops etc are needed in addition. They can be made by just about anyone, so there is nothing stopping you having fun on 136,472 or even VLF RX.   Some people have built these inside a short length of uPVC pipe. The important thing is they are very small and work well on the lower bands.

I have also used EFPs as mag mounts on the car when looking for my signal on 136kHz QRSS3. These are very compact antennas. PA0RDT has created a good design that many people are using.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/efp .

6m PC closed down for updates

The PC I use with the FT817 closed itself down overnight and I have only just restarted it, so 6m WSPR has been off until about 5 minutes ago. It is synced to internet time and the FT817 was still on, so it should soon be reporting any spots.  When the PC closes (usually around 0300z) the WSPR program, and everything else, has to be restarted. This usually happens once a week and I am aware I could choose to install updates manually if I wanted.

UPDATE 1030z:  So far on 6m, just exchanging spots with Eddie G3ZJO (79km).  No sign of 6mWSPR signals via Es today, well not yet.

13 May 2015

70cm UKAC last night - missed

We had visitors yesterday, so I missed the May 2015 70cm leg of the UK activity contest (UKAC).  Although I only run 5W pep and a small hand-rotated 5 el beam I seem to be able to work out to about 200km on this band. Hopefully I shall be on for the next leg.

There was a new raft of 70cms beacons about to come on the band in the UK.  I must check if any of these are on the air yet.  There was a real shortage of UK beacons on this band. The last time I looked only 2 UK 70cms beacons were active but that was some months ago.

Still no 10m real DX

EA8BVP (2986km) and CT1JTQ (1843km) have spotted my 500mW on 10m WSPR several times, but no real DX so far today on this band.

East Anglian Churches blog updated - NOT amateur radio

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

Today we visited North Norfolk and called in at Cley and Wiveton churches. I have updated the churches blog with Cley church. Wiveton church will be added shortly. A few more images will also be added later.

6m WSPR update

Since yesterday evening 7 unique stations have been spotted on 6m WSPR and 6 stations have spotted me (best DX was G4AYT at 114km). Still just G stations either by tropo or helped by reflections off aircraft. No Es seen here on 6m in the last day or so. I shall be on 10m and 6m WSPR all day.

UPDATE 1900z:   Sadly, no 6m Es today, well at least not for me. However, quite a few spots given/received from G stations.

A poorer day ahead?

Sunspot number has declined to 170, still high, (K=6) and 10m propagation is expected to be "poor" today, so unless Es livens up 10m we are unlikely to see great things. I think the disturbed conditions will be the killer.

UPDATE 0812z:  GM4SFW (662km) spotted my on 10m WSPR last evening via Es.

UPDATE 0814z:  Despite the "poor" 10m predictions I see that VK has been spotted in Germany on 10m already. There is hope yet?

12 May 2015

Nepal second earthquake - NOT amateur radio

News is just breaking that a second large earthquake has struck eastern Nepal. This was a 7.3 magnitude quake and it must have been so frightening for those poor people already struggling to come to terms with the first earthquake a few weeks ago. It must be so hard for the children.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-32701385 .

6m WSPR - early Tuesday

G4DUL (68km) has been exchanging 6m WSPR spots with me this morning as has Eddie G3ZJO (79km). No 6m Es seen yet on WSPR, but it is still very early.
Early 6m WSPR spots today
UPDATE 1104z:  G4FFC (45km) has recently been spotted. His signal has 2 distinct traces but no clear signs of any aircraft reflections. The 4Hz drift  (on both his traces) maybe his warm-up drift and some movement of my RX.

UPDATE 1500z:   As well as spots exchanged with G3ZJO, I have received G8EPQ (77km) a couple of times on 6m WSPR. This looks like pure tropo studying at the RX traces, but Bob G8EPQ tells me there are lots of Easy Jet flights going over his QTH. Certainly there was no evidence of aircraft on the traces I saw. Maybe with planes with the right amount of Doppler (i.e. low) I might see G8EPQ at other times too?

UPDATE 1522z:  Although quite a few UK stations on 6m, no Es seen so far today. I shall keep looking.

10m - I know why no WSPR spots!

I just found out why I had zero spots with my 10m WSPR beacon! The positive power lead was open circuit so the beacon, although supposedly connected to the PSU had no power! Doh! I must be so stupid. I check on a lounge PC and although 6m was fine, the stand-alone 10m beacon was not. I must have disturbed the wires when I disconnected it last week. Anyway, it is now on and I am hoping for some spots today.

UPDATE 0925z:  Almost immediately being spotted by G4IKZ (18km) and Italians via Es on 10m.

UPDATE 1055z:   OE3BUB (1229km) has spotted my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon several times in the last 1/2 hour. This is Es.

UPDATE 1510z:  Only local G4IKZ (18km) spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon so far this afternoon.   Despite the high sunspot number and the Es season, it is very quiet, so far, here.  Maybe things will liven up later? Maybe tomorrow I'll go on 10m RX for a change? It is quite a while since I looked for WSPR spots on this band. As I can only RX on one band at a time, I shall have to go QRT on 6m tomorrow.

10m yesterday

With my 500mW WSPR beacon I was on 10m TX all the time but was spotted by no-one yesterday. However I see that G4IKZ was spotting a reasonable amount on his Moxon beam. I think Nick was beaming south. He must have a useful gain in the favoured direction compared with my compromised antenna. Nick copied nothing after early evening yesterday.

UPDATE 0926z:  See later post. The problem was at my end! Doh! I am so stupid.

Better today?

Sunspot number has climbed to 188 (K=3) and 10m conditions are forecast to be "good". Just maybe things will be better on 10m today. It is hard for them to be worse than yesterday.

11 May 2015

10m - no luck today?

I only switched on my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon mid-afternoon after being off-air for several days. Unlike 6m, which has been fairly productive with G stations today, 10m has been a total blank, I think EA8BVP may be off the air on 10m as he has regularly spotted me for weeks.

Both 6m and 10m will be running overnight now I am back home, although I think the K=4 suggests conditions are rather too disturbed to support much DX at my power level on 10m WSPR. Just maybe my 500mW on 10m will be spotted by some moderately distant Gs tonight?

UPDATE 2047z:  Still absolutely zero on 10m WSPR today.  This has been the worst day on 10m for a very long time. Not even a single Es spot to liven things up and not a single G station, not even the locals!

UPDATE 2128z:  Still no luck on 10m WSPR today.

6m WSPR - aircraft reflections?

I am pretty convinced that some of my 6m and 2m WSPR spots are only possible when aircraft are in the right place at the right time with acceptably low Doppler. This evening Eddie G3ZJO was spotted several times with quite high Doppler on occasions. I am not convinced that I am copying Eddie as a result of planes - I think his signal is copied by pure tropo, but I am convinced some signals are only copied as a result of aircraft reflections, much as happens on bands like 23cms upwards. G3WKW (134km) is an example of a station I only seem to copy by aircraft reflection on 6m and 2m.

G3ZJO has analysed M0YOU's signals in his blog. See http://g3zjo-radio.blog.co.uk/2015/05/11/six-meters-aircraft-reflections-20343648/ .

UK General Election - NOT amateur radio

The Conservatives are back in UK government with a small overall majority. Unless they lose this majority in by-elections in the coming years (people do die) they will be in power for around 5 years to come. Of course, if they lose this slim majority and lose a confidence vote there could be another general election sooner.  The people of the UK voted in a "first past the post" election, so what will follow is largely due to us entrusting them with power.  We can expect more cuts to welfare benefits but, arguably, this is what the majority wanted.

The Labour party failed to explain why they should be entrusted with power and our money. Instead the nation chose a majority Conservative government.  We will have an EU referendum in 2017. I personally expect we will vote to stay in, but the UK expects more common market and less federalism in return.  A lose common market, i.e.a big free trade area, is what we joined, not a United States of Europe. I like France, Spain and Italy etc because they are unique and special in their own ways. Long may this continue.

WSPRnet issues (still sluggish at 1740z)

I am not sure if this is just a temporary blip but I am having great trouble accessing the main online database for WSPR called WSPRnet. It is taking an age to load. Although I have managed to access the database (after some minutes) I an shown as receiving no spots on either 10m or 6m.  This may just be poor conditions or others failing to upload spots. I hope it is just temporary.

UPDATE 1545z:   G6IMT (65km) is exchanging spots with me on 6m. With low Doppler, this could be pure tropo. I just checked the online traces from G6IMT and there are plenty of reflections from aircraft evident, although the traces that decoded may have been the direct tropo signal. Typically G6IMT is about -15 to -17dB S/N with me running 5W. Not sure what antenna he is using.

UPDATE 1740z:  So far nothing at all on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 1742z:  I see that I spotted G3ZJO earlier this afternoon on 6m WSPR (-21dB S/N)

Pye PF8

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/pf8 .

In my younger days I was a design engineer with Pye Telecom and one of the projects I worked on back in the 1970s was the Pye PF8.  In its day this was a very novel transceiver, with few controls to get broken, an internal antenna and a DC-DC converter so it ran on a couple of rechargeable batteries.  I was responsible for the antenna and the TX audio but was also heavily involved in debugging the many issues we had.  The product became world famous as Bodie and Doyle used the radio in the TV show "The Professionals".  Not that many were sold and on the second hand market they are very hard to find. I know some have been put to use on 70cms. They worked well in the end but they were a nightmare to work on at the time.

It was around this time I met Clive Sinclair.  He was interested in compact antennas for his little TV and was interested in co-operating  on RF ICs. Neither happened but I was flattered he had asked me for advice!