31 Aug 2015

Sputnik commemoration days

Every year a few hams come on HF to commemorate the launching of the very first satellite, Sputnik 1.  Many try to use identical valve rigs as used in the original. I came on a few years ago with G6ALB and G4NUA on 15m CW and our QRPp TX  CQ was answered by a stateside station.
Dear Space Friends,

> After my calls I will always tune my receiver +/- 10 kHz for any answer,
> so no need to be "spot on". Peter - PA0PJE

I do the same so using my vxo 50 mW a-la "Vanguard" TX on Ge pnp
transistors GT320B (ex USSR type) and my RX is DC on 4 Ge pnp
transistors (two diodes mixer by RA3AAE Vlad Poliakov). So even my
QRPppp TX blocked receiver and I can't to check my TX frequency
exactly. Therefore after my CQ I tune RX some kHz around of 14060
looking for reply. So, don't worry to be out of zero-beat calling me.
Usually I QRV in the QRP "rendezvous" Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9.00
UTC at 14060 +/- Each QSO appreciate for my milliwatts!
P.S. Just visited ON6WJ blog page and enjoyed very much - excellent!

72! beep-beep-beep...
Deep Space Communications Center
operator on duty -
Oleg ("Mr. 72") RV3GM / KH6OB 

Dear Friends,

just  inform  you about Sputnik activity days in October 4 to 18. See
details at the Club 72 web - www.club72.su - "Sputnik Days" in menu.
Three categories:
- Sputniks - TX with old type valves (1950'th preferably), ID is series
of beep-beep-beep... in transmission
-  Vanguard  -  TX on old Ge transistors (pnp 50'th preferably), ID is
series of "V" in transmission
- SWL - copy Sputniks and Vanguards CQs or QSOs
All  operators may take a part in 2 or 3 categories at once (separate
Remind  the  output  power  of  the  1'st  Sputnik was 0,7 watts, but
Vanguard's TX was only 10 mW. I strongly recommend to limit power less
than  1 watt for Sputnik category and less than 100 mW for Vanguards.
That's not contest. Just for fun!
There  are  audio  of  Sputnik-1  and  Vanguard-1 beacons on the page
Sputnik Days. Enjoy milliwatting, homebrewing, Space radio spirit.

If  you'd like to join the Sputnik reflector (by English) send e-mail
request  to  the  "Center  of  Space  Communications" :-) means to my
e-address "mr72".
P.S.  Many  thanks Jos ON6WJ for announce and assistance. Sputnik and
Vanguard ideas by Michael AA1TJ and Oleg RV3GM

Wish you all the best, 72!
Oleg "Mr. 72" RV3GM / KH6OB
See http://on6wj-sputnik.blogspot.be/2011/10/sputnik-made-in-belgium.html for some ideas.

CCS, singing for the UK Prime Minister - NOT amateur radio

CCS recent concert
This evening we are off to a Cambridge Voices concert in Ely Cathedral and this reminded me of the occasion many years ago when my wife was singing a choral concert in the same venue when the Prime Minister of the day, John Major, turned up!  He was surrounded by bodyguards and wanted to be "ordinary" but the committee insisted he got front row seats! His daughter was playing in the orchestra. I think he enjoyed the concert, but would have been happier without people trying to make him even more noticeable!

The Cambridgeshire Choral Society starts rehearsals for the new season later this month. You are welcome to join. Men are especially welcome.

Sunspots and 10m - Mon Aug 31st 2015

Sunspot number today is 50 (K=2) but 10m propagation is expected to remain "poor" today. We are now at the crossover from summertime conditions (mainly Es) on the higher HF bands and autumnal conditions which will see Es all but go, apart from the brief fleeting openings, to be replaced by F2 propagation. As I have said many times, I expect this autumn and winter we will have one more decent 10m "season" before the band takes a nosedive to behave more like a VHF band. Es is usually productive at any point in the solar cycle in the spring and summer months. The CQWW SSB contest (late October) should be good on 10m for this season. I must try not to miss it this year! Last year I just forgot and the autumn before I was in hospital.

UPDATE 1412z:  Es on 10m (Italy and Germany) but no signs at all of Es on 6m WSPR.

Regular GDX on 6m WSPR.

One thing regular WSPRing on 6m has shown is that the path between G0OQK (98km) and I seems to be open regularly. It would be good to try this with a 2-way digital mode like JT65 or JT9-1. Even with low power by tropo and plane reflection this path seems workable.

30 Aug 2015

Earth-mode VLF communications

Today I received a nice email from a station in The Netherlands on the subject of earth-mode communications. Apparently he had been inspired by my work and was still hoping to achieve better results. Earth-mode requires simple gear and simple test gear, but results can be unpredictable. It is an area where true experimentation is still possible. From my limited tests when I was fit (before my stroke) I am convinced there is a lot more to learn.
"Hello Roger,
How are you doing? I hope you are doing fine.
Since this is my first mail adressed to you, please let me first introduce myself.
My name Is Jan ( PE1AXM ) and I am a radio amateur since 1977 and live in the south-west part of the Netherlands, my age is 59.
My radio interests are mainly: making home made equipment.
About 1 year ago I discovered one of your articles that triggered my interest in 9kHz earth mode communication. So I started building. For Tx I use 2 earth rods, 2 meters long and separated 20 meters.Resistance between these rods is 16 Ohms.
A home made amplifier is capable of delivering 1 Amp into these earth rods.
For reception I use a small loop antenne that resonates at 9 kHz, followed by a low noise pre-amp and a PC with Spectran Plus software.
To be honest, I thought that a range of 4 km's would be an easy job, but I soon found out that this was not true.
My best dx so far is just over 1 km, but I realise that still a lot can be improved on my system.
Roger, I thank you for your stimulating articles and I hope that you will make further recovery."

Es on 10m and 6m WSPR

So far just a single spot by DK6UG (633km) in mid-afternoon on 10m WSPR. No Es DX seen at all today on 6m WSPR. Definitely at the end of the Es season now with Es still there but less frequent.

Sunspots and 10m - Sun Aug 30th 2015

Sunspot number is 50 today (K=2) and 10m propagation is yet again "poor".

UPDATE 1054z:  Although the forecasts show 6m Es, I certainly have seen no evidence here as yet. Likewise on 10m where the best DX was G4CUI (172km) around breakfast time. I assume this was tropo and aircraft. I see this quite a bit of tropo and aircraft reflection on 6m but less on 10m for some reason. So far, no Es on either 10m or 6m WSPR, although it is still quite early.

29 Aug 2015

More on the ICOM IC7300

See http://www.icomuk.co.uk/News_Article/3508/18526/ .

The 100W unit covers 70MHz (at 50W) in the European version. I have asked ICOM UK if they intend to sell the 10W version  (IC7300S) in the UK. This would make a fine QRP radio. I will update the blog later.

As Fred G4BWP said, you may chose to buy from a European dealer if they offer a better deal.


For years I have received notification of upcoming radio rallies , although I go to very few. Years ago I attended the Huntingdon Rally and very nearly bought a Heathkit HW7 QRP transceiver which was new at the time. This was in the early 1970s. If my memory serves me right they were about £42 new then which was almost half a month's salary. In the end I did not but one. I cannot remember how I got there.
Dear Roger,
The following Radio Rallies are coming soon:

Ernulf Academy, Barford Road, St Neots Cambridgeshire PE19 2SH. OT 10am (traders 8am). CP, CBS, FM, C, TS. Malcolm Hirst, M0OLG, 01480 214 282, henry_hirst@hotmail.com www.radioclubs.net/huntsars.

Distance from Cambridge : 19 miles
Estimated Journey Time  : 40 mins

A list of rallies can be found at http://rsgb.org/main/news/rallies/

Es - 10m and 6m WSPR

On 10m just a couple of Es spot by DK6UG (633km) around lunchtime. Otherwise just spots by G4IKZ (18km).

On 6m WSPR plenty of spots again exchanged with G0OQK (98km) but no Es all day.

Sunspots and 10m - Sat Aug 29th 2015

Sunspot number is 52(K=2) but 10m propagation is "poor". Another disappointing day on 10m.

28 Aug 2015

Government cuts feed-in tariff for solar energy - NOT amateur radio

From Steve G1KQH:
Less feed in tariff = less interference on our bands..

73 Steve
Yet again, more policies that go against the grain WRT converting to renewables. I think this government is going backwards. I cannot understand its policies WRT energy. Are they in the pockets of the petro-chemical companies? You could be forgiven for thinking this.

Daddy-long-legs - NOT amateur radio

It is that season again with lots of spiders in the house and plenty of daddy-long-legs. Luckily neither worry me. In fact, I quite like both.

One year we had 15 daddy-long-legs in our bedroom! I love the way these creatures just bumble around bumping into everything. They are about 2 inches (5cm) long.

Es on 10m and 6m WSPR

Today, so far, has been encouraging on both 10m and 6m WSPR.  Plenty of 10m WSPR and even a spot from SP8SN (1521km) at lunchtime on 6m WSPR.

No F2 DX seen here on 10m or 6m WSPR. By now I was expecting to start getting the occasional F2 DX on 10m.

Sunspots and 10m - Fri Aug 28th 2015

Sunspot number was 46 today (K=5) and 10m remained "poor".

27 Aug 2015

Stroke : yet more after-effects? - NOT amateur radio

This morning my XYL was talking about a road in our village. I could not remember at all where this road was. Most things I remember well, but it was as if this part of my memory has been erased. I am pretty sure this is yet another artifact of my stroke and nothing else. Of course, I wonder what else is missing! I need triggers to jolt my memory. Oddly, since the jolt this morning I have had no problem at all remembering where this road is. It is as if I needed the jolt to recall the memory.  Another thing: I seem to be far more emotional than before. Things that would not have made me tearful can bring on the tears nowadays. I am sure this is my stroke. Overall, I still feel giddy, still have problems with thin drinks and certain things still exhaust me. To others I look perfectly well, whereas inside I still feel very poorly. In many ways if I looked less well I might be better understood.

No Es on 10m WSPR or 6m WSPR here today, so far

Both the higher bands have been without Es here today on WSPR. Others, in different locations and using busier modes, may have been luckier.  Still no F2 propagation seen yet on 10m WSPR although I expect this will change in September. In September 2014 we were seeing F2 propagation to the USA. With falling solar conditions it may be later this autumn. I think it very unlikely we'll see any 6m transatlantic openings this autumn and winter, but a sudden burst of solar activity could suddenly change that.

FTSE 100 - NOT amateur radio

OK, it is early morning still, but the FTSE 100 share index here in the UK is staging a bit of a recovery, presumably based on better short-term news out of China.

UPDATE 1345z:  The FTSE 100 share index is up 2.93% still. Encouraging in the short-term. Things could rapidly change though.

UPDATE 2004z:  The FTSE 100 ended the day well up climbing 3.56% on the day.  People seem to think the crisis in China is over. Think again.  As they say, "we ain't seen anything yet". Batten down the hatches we are all in for a very rough ride. This will make 1929 look like a walk in the park.

Sunspots and 10m - Thurs Aug 27th 2015

Sunspot number has slipped to 45 (K=6) and 10m propagation is expected to be "poor" today. This is unlikely to be a good day on 6m and 10m WSPR with low sunspots and disturbed conditions. Es may liven up both 10m and 6m. We live in hope!

UPDATE 0840z:  So far on 10m WSPR just local G4IKZ (18km) and on 6m just G0OQK (98km). No, expect the worst and we may get a pleasant surprise. It is still very early in the day for Es.

Another new Yaesu - FT410

News via G1KQH (font of all knowledge) of yet another new Yaesu transceiver this also looks like "catch up" as it is very similar to the ICOM IC718 transceiver. You have to look twice! There is a front mounted LS just like the IC718 and no 6m coverage. This is obviously an entry level HF radio.

I wonder if they realise (rather too late) that their prices are too high? With a recent devaluation of the Chinese currency they must be waking up to the increasing threat from China. The Japanese "big three" must see the threat building. Most western goods (amateur and non-amateur) are now made in China, often in sweat shops where labour costs are rock bottom. This is not good. At the moment, I agree there is no direct equivalent to ICOM, Yaesu and Kenwod coming out of China, but surely the Chinese will wake up and make radios with a worldwide market and volumes around 500000? My recent President Lincoln Mk II was made in China. I can see a Chinese FT817 replacement equivalent (with decent quality) could be a game changer.

The new 100W radio from Yaesu covers 50MHz RX but not TX. With an IF near 4m, 4m coverage is very unlikely. It looks like the FT991 will spawn several "catch-up" transceivers. It is sad to see Yaesu in "catch up" mode. At one time they led the field. Are their days numbered? As a Yaesu fan for over 40 years, I hope not.

See  http://radioaficion.com/cms/ft-410-yaesu/

26 Aug 2015

Sunspots and 10m - Wed Aug 26th 2015

All last night and today I was in London (see previous post) so all my rigs have been "off air". Sunspot number has fallen back a bit and conditions are disturbed. SN today is 61 (K=4) although 10m conditions are still "fair" There is even a chance of some mid-latitude aurora. I have no idea how conditions were today on 10m and 6m, but as I was not on they were probably very good!

London Theatre - NOT amateur radio

Today we went with our village theatre group by coach from Burwell to see "Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games" at the Dominion Theatre in London. The dancing was very good but, if I am honest, I preferred other productions I have seen. I think the women enjoyed this more than the men. If I say what I really think, I'll be called tactless. OK so I am tactless so let me say it!  I found it pretentious crap. Definitely not my cup of tea.

25 Aug 2015

10m Es

There was Es on 10m WSPR this afternoon (Italy and Hungary), but no Es seen here on 6m WSPR all day.  We are definitely at the back end of the Es season.

472kHz preamp

As mentioned some days ago, I received a 472kHz preamp from a very kind, anonymous, person recently. In the next few days I need to check FT817 sensitivity with and without the preamp. Assuming it makes a very useful difference, I'll try 472kHz WSPR receive to see what I can copy using the earth-electrode antenna at this time of year when the LF and MF bands are still quite noisy.

UK FTSE 100 share index - NOT amateur radio

It is too early in the day to be sure, but at the moment the UK's FTSE 100 index is well up on the dramatic falls seen yesterday.

China is still spooking the stock markets around the world. Investors are worried by the slower growth in China and are wondering if its engine is losing steam and the impact this will have on the world. Lots of us are dependent on China as big pension funds may have invested heavily in China.

At one time we were all worried by Japan. Then the Japanese ran out of steam and everyone saw China as the new engine of growth (and low costs) in the Far East.

For too long we have lived off low cost imports from China. Perhaps that era is drawing to a close? Not quite yet, but at least the prospect is now real. Maybe we'll see European manufacturing again in ascendance? The sooner we all live within our means the better. The last few years were a blip.

UPDATE 1712z:   In the end the FTSE 100 index ended up over 3% higher. This crisis is far from over.  The Chinese government has reduced interest rates. This will encourage companies and individuals to become even more indebted. When the crash finally comes, and it will,  these investors will lose big time. This will make the Wall Street Crash of 1929 look tame. No, we should be seriously concerned by developments in China. We in the west will be affected.

IC7300, FT991 or wait for the FT817 replacement?

At the moment I am looking for a new rig, but I am prepared to wait some time. I have never been keen on running high power and 5-10W would serve me well. I like that the new IC7300 is SDR based, but I like that the FT991 includes 2m and 70cm.

At the moment I think I'll just wait for the FT817 replacement. I hope this includes 4m, but it sounds like it uses the same IF as the FT991, so I guess 4m is unlikely. Ideally I think the IC7300s (10W version) would be a good bet, especially if this comes out with 4m too.

I dislike fans, so I assume the IC7300S and FT817 replacement will not have these? Lets hope ICOM market the IC7300S as a QRP radio in Europe. 10W pep is a decent power. Certainly enough power for most occasions.

UPDATE 0934z:   It would not surprise me if the FT817 replacement stayed at 5W but they also had a companion booster amplifier, maybe 20-50W. As we will be on the way down in the solar cycle next year (2016) this may be a reasonable compromise. What would they do about the auto ATU? I guess any bolt-on amp would have to have its own. I still think Yaesu seriously misjudged the market for this rig and the timing. There are so many FT817s out there and people have been gagging for a replacement/enhanced version for years. Now Yaesu is playing catch-up rather than leading. As I said yesterday, this new radio will need some seriously good features if it is to sell as well as the FT817 has done. Oh, expect some very good deals on the FT817ND early next year. The dealers will want to clear shelves in readiness of the new one.

Sunspots and 10m - Tues Aug 25th 2015

Sunspot number has dropped a little to 71 (K=2) and 10m propagation is expected to remain "fair". Certainly here, there was no sign, on 10m WSPR, of any F2 propagation. Es seems to have died down on 6m WSPR although there is still Es on 10m WSPR. I am still awaiting some nice F2 openings on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 0906z:   No Es today on either 10m or 6m WSPR so far this morning.

UPDATE 1216z:   Still no Es seen here on either 10m or 6m WSPR today.

24 Aug 2015

East Anglian Churches blog updated - NOT amateur radio

Last week we called at delightful Aylsham in north Norfolk on our way to Blickling (National Trust). We visited the church there and I have updated our East Anglian Churches blog.

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

More on the IC7300 and the FT817 replacement

See http://yo9irf.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/icom-reveals-first-sdr-ic-7300.html .

YO9IRF has been collecting data on the ICOM IC7300. Although no 2m or 70cm it looks like the first true SDR radio from the big players in Japan.

He also tells me the Yaesu personnel dropped a hint that the long awaited FT817 replacement would be launched at Dayton next year. Personally, I think Yaesu badly misjudged the market and should have launched this when the peak of cycle 24 was still building. They are 3-4 years too late! What a sales opportunity wasted. Now, with waning solar activity that could last for 30-40 years, who will buy it? They had a ready market for half a million units worldwide. It had better have some really strong features if it is to sell in 2016 onwards.

Stroke "truth drug" - NOT amateur radio

Another after-effect of my stroke seems to be a degree of lack of inhibition. Sometimes this is seen as being tactless, but maybe I see things "as they are" more clearly now and am prepared to express this? There is no doubt this gets me in to trouble at times.  In many social situations it is better to say nothing than the wrong thing.

BTW, I am on no medication for my stroke, just statins which I have taken for years which keeps my cholesterol in good limits with no side effects.

Sunspots and 10m - looking better - Mon Aug 24th 2015

Sunspot number is 93 today (K=2) and for the first time in weeks 10m propagation is "fair" rather than "poor". Are things looking up?

UPDATE 0852z:  On 10m WSPR just spots by M0MVB (30km) and no 10m Es yet.

UPDATE 0900z:  Just the usual spots by G0OQK (98km) on 6m WSPR and no 6m Es yet. On both 6m and 10m WSPR I am seeing no sign yet of any F2 propagation on WSPR, but of course activity is way down on last year. 10m and 6m are just to hard work for many. There are currently about 1/3rd of stations active on 10m and 6m compared with last year.

23 Aug 2015

Met Office and the BBC - NOT amateur radio

Next year, the BBC will no longer use the Met Office for its weather forecasts. I have no idea who they will use instead. I very much doubt the forecasts will be any better, but at least they will be able to buy better seaweed, HI.

For a long time I have been critical of our weather forecasts. Yes, I know UK weather is complicated but as a minimum they should give a level of confidence in any forecast. Sometimes they are useless with even the forecast for a few hours hence being wrong. Often it is as good to look out the window.

Es today on 10m WSPR, but not 6m WSPR

There has been plentiful Es around on 10m WSPR today, especially from northern Europe, but no signs of Es - well not yet - on 6m WSPR. It feels like the end of the main Es season now.

UPDATE 1900z:  Still no signs at all of any Es on 6m WSPR.  In fact all day I have just been exchanging spots on 6m WSPR with G0OQK (98km).

My main website

Although I write a couple of blogs most days (one amateur radio related and a more general one), my main website with far more details about the projects and things that interest me is at http://www.g3xbm.co.uk . It has not been properly revised for some time as my health has not been too good for a while now. As I have said several times on my blogs, I hope to get back to field work as soon as I can.

Buying an antenna pole

About 2 weeks ago I filled in an online request form for our local TV/antenna erection Company called Fenway. No reply, nothing.

So I tried emailing the contact name given - again nothing back.

So, they have lost my business for this and anything else. They deserve to go bust.

I will get my antenna pole from someone else. Rubbish service.

Sunspots and 10m - Sun Aug 23rd 2015

Sunspot number is 72 today (K=3) and 10m propagation remains "poor". Es will again be the main hope on 10m and possibly 6m WSPR.  We are still in summertime conditions and at the back end of the Es season in the northern hemisphere.

22 Aug 2015

10m Es but no Es here on 6m WSPR

10m WSPR has been humming with spots from central Europe, but nothing on 6m WSPR by Es. Spots exchanged on 6m WSPR (again) with G0OQK (98km) but no sign of Es on that band. 

I have not correlated spots exchanges on 6m WSPR with G0OQK and aircraft movements, but I am sure there is a correlation.


At this stage I don't yet have any details, but ICOM launched the IC-7300 at the Japanese Ham Fair. It looks a bit like a Yaesu FT991 on steroids!

At this stage I don't know price, power, bands or availability outside of Japan, but I expect these will soon be known. I wonder why this was released so soon after the IC7100? Perhaps people did not like it? Maybe this will force a price cut for the FT991?

In Japan there will be 50W and 10W versions. I hope the 10W version is available in Europe as this might be a good replacement for the IC703.  10W pep SSB is a useful power level.

And we are STILL awaiting the FT817 replacement or a competitive offering from Kenwood or ICOM. After all these years I find this barely credible.

See http://qrznow.com/new-icom-ic-7300-toyko-hamfair-2015/

Sunspots and 10m - Sat Aug 22nd 2015

Sunspot number has risen to 78 (K=3) but 10m is again "poor". So far we have had lunchtime Es on 10m WSPR but nothing yet spottedon 6m WSPR Es.

21 Aug 2015

Chinese radio imports

With the devaluation of the Chinese currency this week, all Chinese radios and imports should be less expensive. I wonder if our nice UK dealers will simply pass this saving on to the end customer? That would be honest and nice.

Watch this space!

Sunspots and 10m - Fri Aug 21st 2015

Sunspot numbers are rising again. Today it stands at 68 (K=2) but 10m is expected to remain "poor". K=2 is quite low disturbance and in the past "poor" 10m conditions have surprised me with some good DX. This is another "magic band" so go for it and expect to be surprised!

Overnight on 10m and 630m

I went on 10m WSPR late last night and see that a couple of Italians were spotting me around midnight local time by Es. No other spots received since on 10m. On 630m (472kHz) WSPR overnight on the earth-electrode "antenna" was a total blank with no stations spotted or spotting me. I think the band is too noisy still?

UPDATE 0834z:  At the present time I am on 10m and 6m WSPR. On 10m 100% TX 500mW (frequency randomised) and on 6m 20% TX (1W ERP) and 80% RX using the V2000 vertical. As usual, G0OQK (98km) is being spotted on 6m WSPR (he has spotted me once so far) by a combination of tropo and aircraft reflection.

UPDATE 0940z:  I wonder if G0OQK spots me less on 6m WSPR (than I spot him) because he has a noisier RX set-up or because my ERP is lower than his?

20 Aug 2015

472kHz WSPR

Overnight I am on 472kHz WSPR. I have not been on 10m or 6m for some time.  I hope the PC does not close down to install updates! This is rare but happened last time I was on MF. Yes I know I can change the PC settings so that the uploads are downloaded but not actually installed.

Thank you David

A near local has very kindly offered to erect my 2m big wheel.  I hate having to ask for help, as a few years ago this would have been trivial. These days I am just so grateful. It should mean I'll be back on 2m sometime in September.

Autumn/winter priorities

My overriding priority is to get back to full health again with my poor speech,swallow and giddiness being the largest remaining issues. I am now eating most foods and drinking more liquids of different sorts. Although I still get tired I seem to recover more quickly.

My priorities for the coming autumn and winter centre on operation from home rather than field work. This autumn/winter I want to have a few more SSB QSOs if my voice improves. I want to use 2-way digital modes like JT65 and JT9 more and possibly PSK31. I'd like to keep a regular log of all the 2m beacons I can copy and of course take part in the 2m UKAC sessions each month.

Overall, all I really want is good health. Until you don't have it, you don't realise how important this is to so much that one does. I do so miss my good health.

Autumn projects

I am afraid my still poor health is still getting in the way of experiments in the field.  At the moment then, my main aims for this autumn (all depend on help of others sadly) are:
  • Erect my 2m big wheel on the side of the house as high as I can.
  • Erect a long-wire for LF/MF use.
This autumn I'd like to put out a decent 2m SSB signal and a decent signal on 472kHz WSPR. My earth-electrode "antenna" on MF is very much a compromise and another 10dB ERP would be great. This would still be low ERP, but I'd be in with a better chance.

472kHz WSPR overnight

A disappointing night on MF last night with just spots by G6AVK (78km) received last night before the PC decided to close down sometime in the early hours. I think the band is still rather noisy and it is a bit early for my weak 5mW ERP signal to be copied easily. I was surprised not to spot others though.

Sunspots and 10m - Thurs Aug 20th 2015

Sunspot number is 36 today, marginally up on yesterday (K=3) and 10m propagation is yet again expected to remain "poor". The consensus seems to be that this has been a below average Es season too. Roll on the autumn and winter and (I hope) some decent 10m F2 propagation.  At the moment we are seeing a gradual decline, on average, in sunspot numbers but I think 10m will still be useful for one more autumn/winter period before life gets tough on 10m. The moral is never give up. I am sure 10m remains open far more often than people realise. How often have you heard 27MHz CB humming yet the 28MHz (10m) amateur band is quiet?

UPDATE 0945z:  A promising start on 10m Es today with a couple of spots by IU1DZZ (973km) quite early on 10m WSPR. On 6m WSPR I am exchanging WSPR spots yet again with G0OQK (98km) but no Es seen yet on 6m WSPR.

UPDATE 1312z:   ON7KB (299km) presumably by tropo is the only non-G spotted on 6m WSPR. I have seen no evidence of Es on 6m today and, so far, just IU1DZZ on 10m.

UPDATE 1855z:  We seem to be in "in-between" conditions at the moment with fewer Es openings and not that many F2 openings on 10m. As for 6m, there was zero Es evident here on WSPR today.

19 Aug 2015

10m Es but nothing seen on 6m WSPR

In the end, 10m WSPR sprang to life later in the day, but only Gs seen on 6m WSPR. This was not the great Es opening I was (half) hoping for today.

UPDATE 2050z:   I think I might QSY from 6m to 630m (472kHz) overnight with my earth-electrode "antenna".

UPDATE 2106z:  QSYed from 6m to 630m and did a hard reset of the 10m beacon. Will be on 10m and 630m WSPR overnight. 6m was a dead loss today, so hoping for better luck on 630m despite the lower ERP on MF.


Although I enjoyed WSPR long before my stroke, I have used this mode a lot in recent times.  My voice is still poor and I find speech modes tiring. WSPR is a one-way beaconing tool. It is ideal for antenna work and propagation experiments. I enjoy using it especially on 6m, 10m and 630m although I have used it on other bands too. You only need very low power. Even with just 5mW ERP from my earth-electrode "antenna" on 630m it has spanned over 1000km. On 10m my 500mW WSPR has been copied on every continent. WSPR is a good test of receiving systems too, especially on MF and LF.  If you have not tried WSPR, I can recommend it. Start by looking for WSPR signals and be sure to upload what you copy to WSPRnet.

UPDATE 1105z:   So far a very quiet morning on 10m and 6m WSPR.

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

FTSE 100 - NOT amateur radio

At the moment, the FTSE 100 UK share index is down 0.89% so far today and well down on its peak of over 7100 earlier in the year. The stock market is spooked by Greece, China and the concerns over rising interest rates. I can see this uncertainty being around for some time to come.

UPDATE 2048z:  In the end, the FTSE 100 ended the day well down by 1.88%. Somehow I think we have worse to come.

Still no Es on 10m and 6m WSPR here

It is now 0955z and, as yet, no Es at all seen on 10m or 6m WSPR. Steve VE7SL (see comments on an earlier post) reports that there was 6m propagation across the Atlantic from CT1 to K0 (Kansas) a few days ago. This was further south than the UK, but I have missed all the 6m transatlantic openings this summer. I think that WSPR (because of low activity) is not the best mode to catch fleeting openings , even though it should be.

Sunspots and 10m - Wed Aug 19th 2015

Sunspot number has risen a bit to 44 (K=4) but 10m propagation is again "poor" .

18 Aug 2015

Es on the way out?

So far today I have seen no evidence at all of Es (yet) on 10m and 6m WSPR. Things could soon change but so far it is very quiet on these bands on WSPR. On 6m I am seeing GDX by tropo out to 156km, but no Es.

I am beginning to think we are now coming to the end of the Es season. There may still be Es openings but not as frequent. Having said this, I have now made Es on 10m and 6m (a huge opening!) a racing certainty tomorrow. It is called "Sod's Law", HI.

UPDATE 2142z:   No Es seen here on WSPR all day and this evening on 10m and 6m.

Shack photo

This was me on the 2m FM net in East Cambridgeshire last night. There were only 3 of us on last night. These days I tend to use WSPR quite a bit as my voice is still pretty poor. We meet on 144.575MHz FM at 8pm local time most Mondays. Note, this is in the all-mode section. Newcomers are always welcome to join us. QSOs are never more than 1 hour and frequently much less.

Sunspots and 10m - Wed Aug 18th 2015

Sunspot number has fallen even further to 20 today (K=3) and 10m is expected to remain "poor".

UPDATE 0845z:  No breakfast time Es on 10m WSPR or 6m WSPR today.  I have the feeling today will be quiet.

17 Aug 2015

Stroke update

My cerebellum brain bleed was in September 2013.  This is nearly 2 years ago.

I am so fed up with my stroke symptoms, although I know I came off better than many. One person my wife knows was a teacher and only 49. He has been left very disabled. Likewise Michael Schumacher who, I understand, is a shadow of his former self since his head injury whilst skiing.

Me? Well I can still only take liquids in small sips, my voice is still very poor and I feel giddy all the time when on my feet. I still get exhausted doing physical or mental tasks taking over 15-20 minutes. My wife tells me I am far less tactful than I was: in the past I would have been more careful, whereas I tend to say it "as it is" nowadays and often regret it later. I blame this on my brain. Honestly, I have no wish at all to hurt anyone, but I know some of the things I have written have hurt others, which has never been my intention.

On the positive side I seem to be less tired than I was, but I still have a way to go. I now enjoy cheese again and I can drink (and taste) most liquids, albeit drink very slowly. I can eat most foods. The occasional beer is nice. I enjoy eating out again and can drive, although I find this tiring and needs lots of concentration.

I am not someone who gives up without a fight, but maybe some of these symptoms will always be with me?  I do hope not and so much want to be as I once was. I miss being fit.

It is no use complaining. Whatever happens, I intend to milk life for all I can manage whatever my state is.

Violence - NOT amateur radio

Violence must be carried out by very desperate people who feel they have no options left. In my mind, violence achieves lots of heartache and no lasting good.

In Bangkok there are lots of dead from a bomb at a central shrine and for what good? In Syria and Gaza, lots of people have been made homeless and are deeply saddened.  No, I am sure all the problems of this world could have peaceful solutions if only all sides were honest and open minded. It seems many don't want peaceful outcomes.

Media reports suggest as many as 27 people have been killed in Bangkok and many badly injured.

Just a quiet day on 10m and 6m WSPR

DK0SC (827km) was spotted on 10m WSPR this afternoon by Es, but still only Gs by tropo and aircraft on 6m. So far, this has turned out to be a pretty disappointing day.

If my theories are right, I expect to spot, and be spotted by, more northerly/Scandinavians this evening on 10m. Classical theory says this is Es, but I am less sure. E-layer yes, but Es?

UPDATE 1455z:  So far, a couple of afternoon Es spots by DK0SC on 10m WSPR, but still quiet on 6m WSPR. On 6m, I am 80% RX ,with 20% TX. We are definitely seeing less Es than earlier in the summer. The Es season is far from over though, although I am looking forward to some real F2 DX again on 10m as autumn approaches. As I said before, I expect one more good autumn and winter on 10m before 10m starts to behave more like a VHF band again. Even then there will be some good days.We just have to catch them! Of course, Es livens up 10m from late April to September at any point in the sunspot cycle. Some even think Es is better in the quiet sun years. 10m requires a great deal more patience in those quiet years. That is why a fully dedicated 10m WSPR beacon makes sense allowing you to get on with other things on other bands, whilst still keeping a watch on 10m by looking at WSPRnet.

UPDATE 1848z:  ON7KB (299km) was spotted on 6m WSPR late-afternoon. This was tropo and aircraft and not Es. So, it looks like a day without 6m Es, at least on WSPR.

Overnight on 20m WSPR

Last evening and overnight I went on 20m WSPR for a change. 36 unique spots. Several transatlantic spots including Greenland, but 20m WSPR is just too easy. On 10m and 6m, and even more so on LF and MF, there is more challenge and interest.

Sunspots and 10m - Mon August 17th 2015

Sunspot number has fallen further to 32. K=4, so conditions are just a little less disturbed. 10m propagation is still "poor". We are still in summer conditions, so I have seen no E-W 10m openings to the USA by F2 in months on WSPR. Things were probably better on SSB where activity levels are much higher. My feeling is this has been less good an Es season, but  I am judging my results on WSPR.

UPDATE 0932z:  Local G4IKZ (18km) seems to have deserted 10m WSPR now, so unless there is Es or F2 propagation I tend to draw a blank on 10m WSPR. I still seem to copy G0OQK (98km) regularly on 6m WSPR.

UPDATE 0937z:  WSPRnet shows only 23 active stations on 10m WSPR in the entire world. Of course, this does not include all those trying unsuccessfully, like me (!) who are active but not been recently spotted.

UPDATE 1150z:   As yet, still no Es seen here on 10m or 6m WSPR. All very quiet so far.

UPDATE 1253z:  At last some Es on 10m. HA9AL (1455km) has spotted me 3 times over lunchtime. Still no Es seen on 6m WSPR.

Return to 10m and 6m WSPR

Since about 0650z I have left 20m and returned to 10m and 6m WSPR. Although I am exchanging 6m spots with G0OQK (98km), 10m WSPR is quiet so far. No Es seen on either band as yet.

UPDATE 0916z:   Still no Es on either band.

16 Aug 2015

20m WSPR

For a total change, I am on 20m WSPR at the moment. Best DX copied so far is YC0MLC (11676km). My own signal has been spotted by VE1VDM (4563km). I am on 19% TX and 81% RX. As before, I am using my Par antenna that covers 10m, 20m and 40m. It is hardly high enough on 10m, let alone on 20m and 40m. I am using just over 2W from the rig. It is a lot easier than 136kHz, but no real challenge!

Failed 136kHz QRSS3 test

Well, I optimised my 136kHz QRSS3 beacon match into my earth electrode "antenna" used on 472kHz and tested it in the house and right outside. All looked promising, so I headed for my local car-park about 1.8km  away. I was quite confident that with an E-field probe on the car I'd get a decent result. From the old QTH I got to the far side of Cambridge before I gave up as copy was so good!

Not a dicky bird - nothing at all, indeed I only got copy again when I entered our close at a range of a few hundred metres. As at VLF, the earth electrode "antenna" at this QTH is useless.

Not only that but at the end of the test I realise how poorly I still must be as I was totally exhausted. In my fitter days this test would have been totally trivial, but not any more. I think my trees and short baseline make this "antenna" totally out of the question at this QTH at LF. I need a better antenna for LF and MF use.

So, 136kHz was bad. A poor result and quite a lot worse than I was expecting. I was hoping for an encouraging result, but none was to be had.

Quiet on 10m and 6m WSPR via Es so far today

Apart from IZ8NVV (1683km) spotting me this morning on 6m WSPR, I have seen zero evidence of Es on 10m and 6m all day so far. Of course, things could well change later.

Tact (or lack of it) - NOT amateur radio

Nearly 2 years after my cerebellum brain bleed and I am still coming to terms with some of the subtler after-effects. My XYL tells me I lack tact now whereas before I was far more sensitive to others.  If I have ever offended you in the past (or do so in the future) I certainly do not intend this. Please accept my most humble apologies and blame it on my brain!

Sunspots and 10m - Sun Aug 16th 2015

Sunspot number has fallen again to 33 (K=6) and 10m is expected to remain "poor" today.

15 Aug 2015

Blickling Hall (National Trust) - NOT amateur radio

Today we did a 135 mile round-trip to Aylesham and Blickling in north Norfolk. We ate a light lunch in The Old Tearoom in Aylesham (this is our 3rd time here) before visiting the market square and church where they were celebrating VJ Day later.

Archetypal English scenery - Blickling
Blickling has fine grounds and gardens and was where Prime Minister Baldwin first heard about Edward VIII's affair with American divorcee Mrs Simpson. These days no-one would bat an eyelid but in the 1930s things were different. On the lake was a great crested grebe with 3 chicks. Blickling has fine yew hedges on the approach to the house. If I was fit, there are lots of decent walks around the grounds. Sadly, just a walk around part of the formal gardens had me exhausted.

Es on 10m and 6m WSPR today

There as been Es on both 10m and 6m WSPR today.  More on 10m (unsurprisingly) with just OH5RM (1860km) at 1000z this morning spotting my 1W ERP on 6m WSPR by Es. Apart from G0OQK I have not spotted anyone on 6m WSPR so far today.

UPDATE 1848z:  I see that OZ7IT (853km) has spotted me at 1830z on 6m WSPR.  There is still Es around. There have been more 10m WSPR spots this eveing on 10m too.

Early morning on 10m and 6m WSPR

The first 10m Es on WSPR was a spot by HB9CQK (819km) at 0846z this morning. So far on 6m, just spots exchanged with G0OQK (98km) and no Es seen as yet on 6m WSPR. On 6m WSPR I remain (as always) 20% TX and 80% RX.

Sunspots and 10m - Sat Aug 15th 2015

Sunspot number as fallen again to 46 (K=2) and 10m propagation is yet again expected to be "poor". Es remains the main hope on 10m and 6m.

14 Aug 2015

2m big wheel arrives

My 2m big wheel antenna has arrived. I now need to find a kind local to help erect it. It needs 2 brackets fixing and the coax attaching.

In the past this would have been trivial for me, but sadly not in my present state of health. Anything above head height and I feel giddy. Work on ladders is impossible. I hate being like this.

Back on the air

In the last 30 minutes I have reconnected the rigs, antennas and PC and am back on 10m and 6m WSPR. So far only G4KPX (14km) spotting me on 10m and 3 spots on 6m WSPR of G0OQK (98km). No signs yet of Es on either band. Of course, this is on WSPR where activity tends to be low on 10m and 6m. You may have better luck on SSB or CW.  On 6m I am on RX 80% of the time.

At the moment the storms are well to the east but I'll continue to monitor the situation and go QRT if necessary again.

UPDATE 1245z:   A couple of Es spots on 10m WSPR from LA3JJ (1020km) this lunchtime, but otherwise quiet.  On 6m just G0OQK (98km) spotted so far. He has yet to spot me and I suspect he is RX only at present.

UPDATE 1630z:  EA6GF (1428km) spotting my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon this teatime. The definitely is some evidence that Es peaks around lunch and teatime. Sadly, no Es to report here (yet) on 6m WSPR.

UPDATE 1738z: ON7KO (295km) has spotted me on 10m WSPR. I think this was tropo rather than Es as the distance is too near. If this was Es I'd expect Es on 2m or even higher.

Sunspots and 10m - Fri Aug 14th 2015

Sunspot number has dropped back to 51 (K=1) and 10m is expected to remain "poor" again. Once again, I suspect Es will be our best hope on 10m and 6m. Before long though we might start to get F2 openings again to the USA. I suspect we'll have one more decent autumn and winter on 10m before we lose the good conditions for very many years.

13 Aug 2015

Mobile phone coverage checker - NOT amateur radio

OFCOM have just released a mobile phone coverage checker tool that helps you see what sort of coverage you can expect.

See http://ofcom.cmail1.com/t/i-l-jdurlyd-ptjmldl-k/ .

On 10m and 6m - for a few hours this evening

As the thunderstorm risk seems low enough for now, I am returning to WSPR on 10m and 6m for a few hours. In all likelihood I shall disconnect rigs, antennas and the PC later this evening so I shall not be on in the overnight period.

UPDATE 1806z:  So far no reports on 10m WSPR, but spots exchanged both ways (TX and RX) with G0OQK (98km) again on 6m WSPR. This is usually tropo and aircraft reflection.

UPDATE 1830z:   EA6ZL (1485km) spotted me on 10m WSPR at 1808z by Es.

UPDATE 1857z:  As the storms are getting ever closer I shall soon have to go QRT and disconnect things!

UPDATE 1900z:  All rigs, antennas and the PC now disconnected, unplugged and off. No thunder audible yet, but the storms are getting closer.  The operating session was shorter than I had intended.

For thunderstorm tracking see http://www.blitzortung.org/Webpages/index.php?lang=en&page_0=12  . At the moment, the storms are to the south of us but moving north.

136kHz test?

Between tomorrow and Sunday I have 2 major aims.

Firstly I need to test my 40,30,20 and 15m K1 rig as someone wants to buy it. It should be fine. I have not used it at this QTH but has worked some good DX on all bands in the past. As "surplus to requirements" I shall be really pleased that someone else will enjoy using it.

Secondly, I want to try my QRSS3 136kHz beacon using my E-field probe on the car on RX. I have managed to get the E-field probe back together again and will test things on RX in the lounge first using the EFP, FT817 and PC.  I have still to match my beacon to the earth-electrode "antenna" on TX but this should be easy.

Sunspots and 10m - Thursday August 13th 2015

Sunspot number is 68 today (K=2) and 10m is still expected to be "poor". Currently I have been off the air on both 10m and 6m because of nearby thunderstorms.

"Web price is best or call"

FT991 from Yaesu
The ongoing saga of the FT991 price fall continues. The phrase in the title is from the latest advert by MLS in Radcom.  It looks like they know the price is too high but are looking to see who drops the price first - a kind of game of "chicken". The best price advertised is £1139. Meanwhile the FT450D (HF and 6m) is just £499 from Waters and Stanton.  I confidently predict the price of the FT991 from the major retailers will drop to £999, or even less, soon.

12 Aug 2015

Thunderstorms coming?

We have a forecast of thunderstorms in the next few days. I shall be watching the weather carefully and only connecting the rigs, antennas and PC if there is no risk at all. The next few days may be quiet ones here!

6m today

These are the results today on 6m WSPR. No super-DX but spots exchanged with CN8LI yet again, presumably by Es.

China: should we worry? - NOT amateur radio

In a word yes.  China is changing. Many are getting richer and are expecting a better life. Exports have struggled more lately and soon China may become too expensive, just like Japan became many years ago.

Many of the investors in China are the Chinese people themselves. The Chinese government is trying to manipulate the market but the stock markets in China are in turmoil. If China catches a cold we will all know about it.

Yes, we should be worried, but I am not sure what we can do. It may not be too long before the words "Made in China" are a thing of the past. We have grown used to low cost products made in China, but for how much longer?

The Chinese have devalued their currency twice in 2 days to help exports, but are they fighting a losing battle?

Es today on 10m and 6m WSPR

There has been a decent quantity of Es on 10m WSPR today. However, on 6m WSPR I have only spotted, and been spotted, by G stations so far today.

I am definitely coming to the conclusion that WSPR is, sadly, not the best mode on 6m to spot fleeting openings as activity levels are far too low. Many transatlantic openings have happened on 6m this summer, but you would never guess from WSPR. This is a great pity. Next summer I think I shall stick to CW and SSB in the main on 6m.

Overnight JT6M RX on 6m

Disappointing. In the end I stayed on 50.230MHz overnight but copied only G stations. Last evening I copied a couple of EAs on JT6M, but I suspect these were Es rather than MS.

At the moment I am back on 6m WSPR (20% TX and 80% RX).

Sunspots and 10m - Wed Aug 12th 2015

Sunspot number is 87 today (K=3) and 10m propagation is expected to remain "poor".

11 Aug 2015

6m JT6M

Since about an hour ago I have been looking on 50.230MHz JT6M. EA3LL was recently copied working an EI station. I think this was Es rather than a Perseid shower reflection as the signal was there at good strength for the whole 30sec TX period.

Most JT6M activity seems to be on 50.230MHz which is used as a calling frequency to arrange skeds on other frequencies. I've decided that I shall look through the night on 50.230MHz rather than try the newer JT6M frequency of 50.320MHz.

70cm UKAC tonight

I have just received a contest reminder from the RSGB contest committee:
This contest takes place on Tue 11-Aug-2015 19:00 UTC
The rules for the contest can be found here
As I really have no suitable horizontally polarised antennas now on 70cm, I shall try with my 2m halo and V2000 triband vertical. I am only expecting to hear and work locals on 70cm tonight. I shall not stop on too long. It will be interesting to see how these "compromise" antennas perform on 70cm.

UPDATE 1945z:  In the end I only stopped on 70cms for just over 30 minutes but worked 3 of the locals on the 2m halo, which matched well on 70cm SSB. My 2m halo and V2000 are fed with lossy RG58 coax. I decided I had enough with my poor voice and poor antennas. I have now returned to 6m JT6M RX only.

10m Es

So the kit was working after all. IU1DZZ (973km) has been spotting me over lunchtime quite well by Es. No other Es spots received yet on 10m WSPR.

On 10m WSPR I am 100% TX (frequency randomised every 2 mins) but on 6m WSPR I am looking 80% of the time on RX and sending all spots to WSPRnet.

UPDATE 1315z:   F1TZG (876km) is also spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon. 10m is livening up now. He was also spotted on 6m WSPR much earlier in the day.

UPDATE 2140z:   Well there has been 10m Es on WSPR just about all day. This must rank as one of the best days for 10m Es all summer.

CN8LI again on 6m WSPR

This lunchtime I have again been exchanging 6m WSPR spots with CN8LI (2113km) in Morocco.He must be the most consistent DX signal on 6m this summer and last. Still no Es seen on 10m WSPR. I will need to recheck the kit as I am surprised to get no 10m spots at all, but see later post.

UPDATE 1318z: I am now spotting IK1WVQ (1076km) on 6m WSPR very well. He is running 2W.

Google restructuring - NOT amateur radio

Google s doing a major restructuring according to the BBC. Apparently this was a surprise move creating a new parent company called Alphabet Inc..

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-33857412 .

Sunspots and 10m - Tues Aug 11th 2015

Sunspot number is falling again and now stands at 67 (K=2). 10m propagation is again expected to be "poor". Es will be the main hope on 10m and 6m.

I have done a hard reset of my 10m WSPR-AXE-CW beacon and a resync to internet time. Hopefully this will see it through the day now. The 6m WSPR kit uses the FT817 and the PC and is locked to internet time every 5 minutes.

6m JT6M

In the end I looked on 50.230MHz last night, but only copied G4BAO who was working an OZ. I suspect I was copying John directly and not off MS pings. Tonight I'll try the newer JT6M frequency further up the band. Now back on 6m WSPR during the day and early evening.

UPDATE 0915z:  Plenty of 6m WSPR spots of G0OQK (98km) by tropo and aircraft reflection. He has also spotted me lots of times again.

UPDATE 0938z:  There were no overnight 10m WSPR spots. I thought I might have been spotted in Europe via the Perseids by MS but guess the 2 minute TX period, low power and Doppler were all against me. MS pings are much longer on 10m. In the past I have worked QRP SSB DX by 10m aurora but never tried 10m MS. Maybe I should. It is a pity there is not a 30sec WSPR mode!

10 Aug 2015

JT6M on 6m in Perseid MS shower?

I may take a look on 6m JT6M mode for the next few nights but I am confused about what frequency to look on here in Europe. This will be strictly RX only as my ERP will be too low.

What frequency is best for 6m JT6M in Europe please?

Distant distant memories - NOT amateur radio

It is funny what lurks deep in the crevices of the mind.

This afternoon we visited some old friends, who live quite near us, for afternoon tea. On their hearth was a brass object of globular shape. Seeing it I remembered an old bell owned by Jack White and his wife who lived in Slapton, Devon. The Whites had an outside toilet.

I swear I had not thought of that little bell in nearly 60 years but in my mind it was crystal clear again. This very very distant memory was there waiting to be triggered.

They were a lovely couple. I remember us playing the card game "Newmarket" at their table. One wonders what other memories are buried which will one day surface again.

6m Es on WSPR

CT1PT (1685km) was spotted here at lunchtime on 6m WSPR. There is not much 6m Es about, at least not here yet!

UPDATE 1845z:  I see that CN8LI (2113km) and I exchanged spots on 6m WSPR at teatime and that 10m WSPR is thick with Es stations this evening.

136kHz QRSS3 test

Well, I have found most of the bits needed for my 136kHz QRSS3 test including the E-field probe (EFP) to mount on the car roof. I need to solder 1 short BNC to free end coax in the E-field probe and charge up a PP3 battery (for the EFP) and the FT817.  I also need to match the beacon to the earth electrode "antenna" at 136kHz.  I shall start copying the beacon in the lounge first before venturing out in the field.

Although I now have a preamp for the (deaf) FT817 thanks to a very very kind person, I'll not use this as I did not use one on the last test 2 years ago from the old QTH.

A few years ago this would have been so easy to do. Now it is a major exercise! Life is so much harder now since the stroke, but I remain determined to get better. Given time (maybe a lot more time) I hope things get back to more as they once were.

Sunspots and 10m - Mon Aug 10th 2015

Sunspot number today is 87 (K=3) but 10m propagation is expected to be "poor". It was "fair" yesterday. Most DX on 10m will be by Es rather than F2, although the better stations may catch a N-S F2 opening on 10m.

UPDATE 1000z:  No Es seen here on 10m or 6m WSPR yet. Just G0OQK (98km) by tropo on 6m WSPR and ON7KB (299km) spotted here in the very early hours on 6m WSPR, again I assume by tropo.

9 Aug 2015

Coax losses

If you are like me, then you always want to know the loss of your coax at 6m,2m and 70cm, possibly higher I found this very useful table to compare various coax cables at different frequencies. You may have your own favorite table! If not, I hope you find this one useful.

See http://www.w4rp.com/ref/coax.html .

Brother gone home - NOT amateur radio

My brother, who is 4 years older than me, has been very good especially since my stroke. He has travelled up to see me from Devon on many occasions. He has been staying for a few days, but left today. I shall miss him.

I want to get to Devon again before too long but the journey is too far by car at present. Maybe I'll go down by train? In the picture he is the one on the RHS with me on the LHS.

136kHz QRSS3

My big project for the week (this would have been trivial a few years ago) will be to rebuild my E-field probe for 136kHz and do a fairly local test with it on the car roof on QRSS3. I have the TX beacon, although it has not been used for over 2 years and never from this QTH. I think I have the RX bits somewhere but need to find these first!  For the TX antenna I am going to use my earth-electrodes which will need rematching for 136kHz.

10m and 6m Es

No 10m Es has been noticed since lunchtime when OZ7IT (843km) was spotting my 500mW WSPR. On 6m things were better with SM0FUS (1383km) spotted at 1416z and earlier. Both the 10m and 6m WSPR stations will be active this evening and maybe overnight.

UPDATE 1600z:   I see that CN8LI (2113km) just spotted me on 6m WSPR, so maybe Es is returning this teatime?

UPDATE 1604z:  M0EMM is being spotted on 6m, I presume by tropo and aircraft reflections

2m big wheel

Well, I have ordered one (yes I know I could have made one although not in my present state) so I hope this can be erected in the next few weeks, although I shall need help to do this as I am no good on ladders in my current poor state of health. It would be good if I could get a long wire erected at the same time for LF/MF use, although this could wait. At this time I am going for a single big-wheel rather than a stack.

I have decided against buying a 70cm big wheel at the same time as this would require a new length of low loss cable too. I also checked my existing low loss cable and this seems in good condition, so it will be reused. I may make my combined 2m/70cm antenna into a portable antenna when I have found out why the VSWR is poor.

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

Sunspots and 10m - Sun Aug 9th 2015

Sunspot number is 93 today (K=3) and 10m propagation remains "fair". We are still in summertime conditions so 10m propagation will mainly be by Es around Europe.

8 Aug 2015

Yaesu FT991

As I have said several times before, there is only one commercial rig that I fancy currently and that is the Yaesu FT991 that covers all of HF plus 6m, 2m and 70cm. However the UK price is still too high so I can wait and wait until the price drops. At £999 it will get serious consideration, but not at any higher price. The only other rig I fancy is an FT817 replacement, which may come later this year. Most of my operating is QRP and a 5-10W rig would suit my needs well.

So just how sporadic is sporadic E (Es)?

Time and again I have been struck by just how unsporadic Es is. OK, good days are random but there seems to be a pattern that more northerly and Scandinavian stations on 10m and 6m are better later in the day and later in the season. I actually wonder if these more northerly reports really are Es at all. There is every chance I am totally wrong, but I have noticed this over several summers and I question that Es is truly "sporadic". I'd be interested to hear the views of others on this.

One thing is certain: we still have a great deal to learn about E-layer DX propagation. Es is certainly a fact on many summertime EU QSOs on the higher HF bands and 6m, but I am sure the multi-hop explanation for some very long distance QSOs is not right.

Stroke after effects - NOT amateur radio

Even nearly 2 years after my brain bleed I am still discovering after effects. One of these is a slowness with written errors. It is rare for me to write an error-free blog post but I seem much slower at spotting the errors that I make. In the end, I usually get it right, but I apologise if you read the blogs before I have found and corrected the mistakes. At one time, typos or spelling mistakes were easy to spot, but I am finding these much harder to spot than I did. I am pretty sure this is a result of my stroke, although it could be old age!

UPDATE 2100z:  Of all my stroke symptoms my poor voice is the most disabling. Some people cannot hear what I say and I get very frustrated. Some treat me as simple, but really it is just that I find speech hard work. My intellect is still sharp and I still feel like my "old me". Many say how well I look. In many ways this is a bad thing as they expect me to be fine totally. No, in some ways life would be easier with a more visible disability. I just want to be better. Being less than fully human has gone on far too long now.

136kHz QRSS3 field test maybe?

If I can manage it (health worries) I want to try a test with my 136kHz QRSS3 beacon and earth-electrode antenna from my current QTH. Last time, several years ago, from the old QTH, I managed to copy my signals quite well on the far side of Cambridge using an E-field probe on the car roof. This time my aims are far more modest: I just want to see if I can copy the signal at all in my usual carpark test site about 1.8km away. If I can copy the signal, I might ask others to take a look. It is so long since I used this kit I have forgotten what is inside the box!

My biggest challenge will be reassembling the RX kit as I am still very wobbly. 15-20 minutes and I am normally "done in", especially if this involves physical or mental effort. I wish so much I was fit and well again.

I know I have to be patient, but at the same time I need to get the most from my body as it is now. Although I still get tired, I seem to regain a more normal  state more quickly than I did, which is hopeful.

Although I am hopeful of a full recovery, given more time, I am beginning to think I shall always have some level of disability. I need to know my absolute limits. If this is the end of field work it will be a very sad day.

6m rather than 630m WSPR

You may have noticed that I am back on 6m rather than 630m WSPR, for now. I am still using 1W ERP on 6m from my V2000 vertical omni antenna and I am on TX about 20% and RX for about 80% of the time.

As before, all spots of others are uploaded to WSPRnet. Of late, 10m and 6m WSPR seems to have livened up a bit so I'll stick around 6m WSPR a bit longer. The day after I leave 6m you can be sure of the biggest 6m openings in years. No doubt I'll then get loads of stations telling me then, "you should have stayed on 6m". Well, for now at least I am sticking around on 6m.

New versions K1JT weak signal digital modes

Bob, G3WKW, has passed on this information from Joe Taylor K1JT:
"Date: Fri, 07 Aug 2015 16:28:19 -0400

Several people have asked for an update on development of the "Fast modes" in WSJT and WSJT-X.  So here's a brief summary.

First, a review of some relevant terms and motivations.  It's convenient to think of the various WSJT protocols ("modes") in two groups:

*Slow modes* -- JT4, JT9, JT65, and WSPR.  These modes are designed for communication with extremely weak signals -- often too weak to be heard. Target propagation modes include EME and long-distance troposcatter on HF-and-up bands, and QRP Dxing on the LF, MF, and HF  bands.  Relevant signal amplitudes are approximately constant over a minute and more, aside from so-called "libration fading" for EME. Transmit/receive sequences are 1 minute for JT4, JT9, and JT65, and 2 minutes for WSPR.

*Fast modes* -- JTMS, FSK441, ISCAT, and JT6M -- and now also *FSK315* (implemented in WSJT) and *JT9E* through *JT9H* (implemented in WSJT-X. These modes are made for communication with rapidly varying signals:for example, meteor scatter, ionospheric scatter, airplane scatter, and scatter off the International Space Station.  The decoders are designed take advantage of short enhancements of signal strength.  T/R sequences are 30 seconds (or sometimes even shorter).

Bill, ND0B, has implemented a trial version of FSK315 in WSJT.  Think of this mode as FSK441 slowed down to 315 baud; the bandwidth is therefore narrow enough to make the mode legal in the "CW and data" portion of the 10 meter band.  Bill and a few others have been experimenting with FSK315 and also ISCAT-A on 10 meters, under dead-band conditions, using meteors and ionospheric scatter propagation.

I have implemented experimental submodes of the JT9 protocol in the program branch WSJT-X v1.6.1.  As with JT4 and JT65, letters following the "JT9" designator indicate increased spacings between the FSK tones. Traditional JT9 (now also called JT9A) has tone spacing 1.736 Hz, so the signals used at HF and below have total bandwidth 9*1.736 = 15.6 Hz.  The widest of the new submodes, JT9H, has tone spacing 200 Hz and therefore bandwidth 9*200 = 1800 Hz.

When used with the standard 1-minute periods, the wide JT9 submodes should be useful for the same purposes as the wide JT4 submodes: microwave EME, for example, where libration fading can cause Doppler spreading of 100 Hz or more.  Used in this way, all JT9 submodes are "slow" modes; they use 1-minute T/R periods and keying rate 1.736 baud, and they send the full 85-symbol message protocol in 85/1.736 = 48.96s.

Optionally, the wide JT9 submodes can now also use "fast" keying rates equal to their tone spacing.  "Fast JT9H", for example, uses keying rate 200 baud, so the full message protocol is transmitted in 85/200 = 0.425s.  The message is sent repeatedly for the full Tx period, in the same way as done for the other fast modes.

The fast JT9 submodes should be very effective for meteors and ionoscatter propagation, especially on the 6 meter band.  Sensitivity should be similar to ISCAT, or perhaps slightly better.  Because JT9 includes strong forward error correction, decoding results are like those for all the slow modes: you should see messages exactly as they were transmitted, or nothing at all.

Tests of the fast JT9 submodes are currently under way, with excellent results.

   -- 73, Joe, K1JT"

Good Es on 6m and 10m WSPR

Es is good today on both 10m and 6m WSPR with lots of spots both given and received. On 6m CT, EA and CN8 have all been spotted and my own signals have been spotted in Morocco and Portugal on 6m. Apart from CN8, no stations spotted or spotting me on 6m outside Europe.

Sunspots and 10m - Sat Aug 8th 2015

Things are looking slightly more promising on 10m. Sunspot number has risen to 95 (K=3) and 10m propagation is expected to be "fair" rather than "poor" as it has been for weeks. Whether we see any real DX on 10m WSPR remains to be seen.

7 Aug 2015

4X1RF (3519km) again spotting me on 6m WSPR

Since lunchtime, 4X1RF (3519km) has again been spotting my 1W ERP WSPR signal on 6m. I am pretty convinced this is E layer, but remain skeptical this is multi-hop Es which is the conventional wisdom. 3519km is a long way for Es multi-hop. This path seems pretty regular so I wonder if some other E layer mechanism is going on? Possibly some E layer chordal hop?  Signal levels suggest even lower power would have been successful such as 250mW or even less. So far today he has spotted me 6 times already. He has spotted me on several days this season as well as last summer. There are a reasonable number of stations active on the 6m WSPR band.

UPDATE 1607z:  Yesterday was one of the worse days I can recall in recent months on 6m and 10m WSPR. Today has been one of the best with plenty of Es on both bands.  Both are "magic" bands and you can never be quite sure what the day will bring.

UA3ARC spotting me very early on 10m WSPR

Already before breakfast my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon has been spotted several times on Moscow by UA3ARC (2446km) . This could be F2? Most probably Es, I guess.

UPDATE 0834z:  Widespread Es on 10m WSPR early with spots from right across Europe already. On 6m WSPR no Es spotted yet.

Sunspots and 10m - Fri Aug 7th 2015

Sunspot number is 80 today (K=2) and 10m remains "poor".

6 Aug 2015

UK prices for Japanese radios

My comments on UK prices for Japanese radios was also reported on www.amateurradio.com yet not one dealer or Japanese manufacturer has said, "not so".

OK, they may not read the blogs mentioned (mine and http://www.amateurradio.com/) but I think I must have hit the nail on the head and that we are indeed paying too much for Japanese gear here in the UK. My own blog is read by thousands most days, so the silence tells me a lot.

Get those prices down please.

I want dealers and manufacturers to make fair profits and to remain in business but, please, don't rip us off.

Sunspots and 10m - Thurs August 6th 2015

Sunspot number is 87 today (K=2) and 10m is expected to remain "poor". Es today has been pathetic and I have seen no evidence of any F2 propagation on 10m.  Roll on autumn and winter conditions now!

Poor Es

Although here I am talking here of 10m and 6m WSPR, things may be better on other modes with higher levels of activity. So far today I have received just 1 spot on 10m WSPR by Es and none at all so far on 6m.  It feels like the Es season is largely over, although this may just be a blip.

UPDATE 2145z:   There was quite a bit of Es on 10m WSPR this evening, but nothing seen by Es on 6m WSPR. I am going QRT now on all bands until breakfast time tomorrow.

5 Aug 2015

2m/70cm beam down

After about a year of service, I have taken down my beam for 2m and 70cm which was not working as it did. In the near future I want to erect big-wheels instead. According to Wimo literature they have an omni pattern and a single big-wheel has a gain (horizontal) of 3dBD. Spacing between a 70cm big-wheel and a 2m big wheel needs to be 1.5m. This gain is a little down on the beam but needs no rotating. At the moment I think I'll install a single big-wheel for 2m and one for 70cm both fed with low loss coax on a single mast as high as I can. These should suit my operating fine. I monitor beacons and take part in some 2m and 70cm contests from home in a non-intensive way. A couple of big beams would be nice but these would need a rotator.

10m - dead here

This must go down (so far at least) as my worst day on 10m WSPR in years. All day I have been spotted by not a single station.  I have exchanged spots with G0OQK several times on 6m. I was wondering if my 10m WSPR beacon was working but I did several hard resets and resync'd to internet time and checked modulation and time sync with the FT817.  It is modulated and changes frequency on even minutes just as it should do.   No, I just think today has been a bad day here.

UPDATE 2037z:  G4IKZ (18km) has been spotting me from 1908z.  He has either just switched on or turned his beam my way. No Es all day though on 10m WSPR.


There are some really kind people in the world.  I have received so many kind and caring emails in the last 18 months all wishing me a speedy recovery from my stroke. Thank you.

Today, in the post, was a small package containing a professional PCB with a built preamp for 136/472kHz. There wasn't even a postmark on the stamp and no note inside. Some kind and generous person just posted me this anonymously.  I honestly can't thank you enough. This is so kind. It will definitely get used.

When you see all the hate and cruelty in our world it is easy to think that most people are unkind. They are not. My stroke has taught me that there are very very many kind and caring people in this world. This very kind person did not even want to reveal his identity. Thank you. I really really appreciate your kindness.

Time to bring down the VHF/UHF yagi antenna?

From the recent tests with G3KKD it looks like my 3el 2m and 5el 70cm beam (or the feeder?) is faulty. I may take it down to see what the issue is. I had plans to replace the hand-rotated beam with big-wheels which have a little gain (3dBD) and do not require turning. I noticed the VSWR was rather high the last few times the yagis were used. Last night, even with just a halo and a run of lossy feeder I did almost as well as with the beam on 2m, so a single big-wheel plus a run of low-loss feeder should see an improvement of 2-4dB over the halo, if not more.

Sunspots and 10m - Wed Aug 5th 2015

Sunspot number is 68 today. K=1.  10m conditions remain "poor". So far today, despite a hard reset and resync of the beacon to internet time, my 10m WSPR beacon has been copied by no-one.

Ian G3KKD visit

G3KKD came over this morning to collect his DATV kit and 2m portable antenna.  He stopped for a coffee and I showed him my 472kHz and 136kHz kit, my optical kit and WSPR kit. Although Ian has used WSPR, his main interest is ATV. Sadly there are few TV enthusiasts locally these days. Even the local ATV repeater is very quiet these days.

No, I do NOT grow flowers on my head! My XYL took the photo.

6m Es today (so far)

A rather disappointing start on 6m WSPR today.  Only 1 station spotted by Es DK8NE (755km) at 0944z. Apart from this station, only G0OQK (98km) copied by tropo.

4 Aug 2015

2m UKAC tonight

I may try the 2m leg of the UKAC this evening using my halo fed with the non-too-brilliant feeder. This is a totally different antenna and feeder to the one which may be faulty. My voice is not good, so I probably won't stop on too long.
2m UKAC Aug 4th with 5W and a halo
UPDATE 2110z:  In the end, after about 1 hour of operating I managed 8 QSOs with the halo, UR58 (lossy feeder), and 5W from the FT817. I was quite pleased with the results considering the very poor antenna and low power.

2m digital TV

At the moment I am doing a test over a 7 mile path with G3KKD who has a 1W 2m digital TV TX.  The signal is getting across the path, but too weak to decode. We are about to try a different 2m antenna at my end. G3KKD wants to try the path to Luton (he has a friend Arthur there) but wanted to try this shorter path first. There is a core of keen DATV experimenters all trying to reach each other.  I am not sure if anyone in the UK is using the 4m NoV band for digital TV tests.

UPDATE 1652z:   Success!  Using Ian's 3el 2m antenna on his portable mast we were able to see pictures well over the 7 mile path with 1W DATV on 2m. This means my antenna or feeder are not working correctly. When I swap to a big-wheel or big-wheel stack with new feeder it may well perform better than I expect.

6m WSPR - CN8LI again

CN8LI (2113km) is coming in pretty well on 6m WSPR again. We exchanged spots just after lunch. He is still a good signal here at nearly 1400z.

Sunspots and 10m - Tues August 4th 2015

Sunspot number is 62 (K=2) and 10m propagation is expected to remain "poor".  Es may be the saving grace on both 10m and 6m. We are still very much in summertime conditions. As yet, I have seen no evidence of transatlantic openings by Es on either 10m WSPR or 6m WSPR. There may well have been openings but with few stations active (especially on 6m WSPR) these may have gone unnoticed.

SignaLink off overnight

Overnight I spotted G0OQK (98km) several times on 6m but he did not copy me. Then I realised my interface was off so it worked on RX but not TX. Now on!

3 Aug 2015

ON7KB (299km) again spotted on 6m WSPR

There was Es today on 6m and what appears to be tropo in the form of a WSPR spot of ON7KB (299km) quite recently. I shall stick around on 10m and 6m WSPR overnight. I did a hard reset of the 10m beacon about an hour ago so it should be spot-on during the night. The 6m WSPR is directly linked to internet time, so should be fine.  I'll go back to 630m (472kHz) WSPR tomorrow evening, unless 6m is magic tonight and shows signs of transatlantic DX, which I somehow doubt.

UPDATE 2112z:  All quiet on 6m WSPR now.  I shall have to give random MS another go on 6m. I listened (looked) a few seasons back and was surprised what came through using one of the digital modes (forget which one though!).

Project "on hold" - AM Tenbox

Like many of my projects, this transceiver is "on hold" due to my stroke. I am still too unwell to do much in the way of designing and building. One day, not too far away, I hope to complete this project. If anyone else wants to do this, please use my schematic as a starting point. With a small PCB it would make a nice club project.

It will make an ideal simple rig for nattering across town, especially as 10m loses its fizz and starts to act more like a vhf band again. Such conditions may be with us for years. I fancy putting this in a box like the old Heathkit Lunchboxes with a proper LS amp and LS.

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

Windows 8.1 - NOT amateur radio

More from the font of all knowledge Steve G1KQH. Like many, I had no idea about this key and hidden menu:
Did you know about this command on Windows 8.1 ?

Subject: Windows Key + X | Windows 8 Forums

Did you know about this on Windows 8.1?


So far, 6m WSPR has been quite productive today with quite a few EU stations (and CN8LI) spotting me or being spotted by Es. As long as conditions remain like this I shall stick on 6m WSPR.

10m/6m Es - early morning Italians

They call it sporadic E or Es yet it is surprising how often my 500mW WSPR beacon on 10m is copied in Italy very early in the mornings, often before breakfast. Whatever triggers the Es must be just right for this path early in the morning. Often Scandinavians and more northern stations are more common later in the Es season and in the evenings.

UPDATE 0708z:  Now DK7UG is spotting my 10m WSPR beacon strongly. No signs here of Es on 6m WSPR.

UPDATE 0906z:  One Italian spot by Es on 6m WSPR so far - IU1DZZ (973km) at 0748z.

UPDATE 1132z:  EA1KV (1304km) spotting me on 10m WSPR but only Nick G0OQK (98km) being copied on 6m WSPR.

UPDATE 1205z:  EA1KV and I are exchanging spots on 6m WSPR and CN8LI (2113km) just spotted on 6m WSPR.

Sunspots and 10m - Mon August 3rd 2015

Sunspot number today is 51 (K=3) and 10m propagation is expected to remain "poor" today.  Es will be the main mode for EU and nearer DX.

2 Aug 2015

WSPR-AXE-CW oddity

A local, David G0LRD reported that my time sync was well adrift despite me doing a reset against internet time very recently. A hard reset (all power removed for over a minute) seems to have fixed the issue, which is possibly a bug in the software.  David suggested it could have been a very short power outage?   In future I'll do a hard reset more frequently. This little beacon has served me well for over 6 months and is often on 24/7.

East Anglian Churches blog updated - NOT amateur radio

This Friday we went by train to Norwich with our "London" grandchildren. We visited the Castle Museum and Norwich Cathedral, which is definitely one of the finest in England.

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

G4IKZ beaming south on 10m?

My local 10m WSPR reporter G4IKZ (18km) must have his Moxon beam aimed south as he has not spotted me for some hours, even though he is reporting Spanish stations by Es. My 500mW WSPR beacon has not been spotted for some hours now by anyone.  10m is definitely harder going on WSPR than it was. I hope things improve as autumn comes.

At the moment there are 31 stations worldwide shown as active on 10m WSPR. A little while back this would have been 100 or more. There may be more who have not spotted/been spotted in the last 10 minutes, but numbers are down.

UPDATE 1620z:  I QSYed from 6m down to 630m at 1600z. Still on 10m WSPR at same time. No MF WSPR spots given or received on MF as yet.

Back to 472kHz WSPR tonight

As 6m has proved predictable with little in the way of DX around, I shall be going back to 472kHz WSPR this evening. As my ERP is still very low (5mW) I do not expect many to copy me at this time of the year. I shall remain on 10m WSPR at the same time, but may decide to go QRT overnight on the 10m band.

UPDATE 1623z:  I QSYed from 6m down to 630m at 1600z. Still on 10m WSPR at same time. No MF WSPR spots given or received on MF as yet.

UPDATE 1950z:  It is still light here. So far, no spots given or received on 472kHz WSPR. Maybe things will improve after dark?  This s my worst start on 472kHz WSPR this summer.

UPDATE 2056z:  At 2038z G8HUH (250km) was spotted. He is one of the better stations on the band, so not too surprised to copy him. He has copied me on 472kHz WSPR this summer. He is my best DX on 136kHz from the old QTH. I have not tried 136kHz from this QTH with the shorter baseline earth-electrode "antenna", well not yet.

UPDATE 2100z:  I have just been spotted on 472kHz WSPR by G6AVK (78km).

Prices of Japanese radios?

I wonder when the next round of price drops will come on Japanese gear? The big Japanese players such as Yaesu, Icom and Kenwood have had an easy ride of late and been able to dictate prices. Now the competition is waking up, I expect they will be facing tougher times.

The latest exchange rates (UK pound to Japanese Yen) is £1 is worth about 193 Yen. Not many years ago it was less than 130 Yen to the pound. In real terms, Japanese goods should be much less expensive. At the moment both the UK dealers and Japanese are doing very well thank you from a customer base prepared to pay high prices. Expect big falls between now and the year end. This will be partly due exchange rates becoming much better (for those in the UK) and partly due to the increasing threat from the non-Japanese suppliers. Don't you find it amazing how low cost some Chinese hand portables are compared with similar products from Japan? Rip-off come to mind - charge high prices for Japanese goods as long as the suckers pay.

No, the age of UK amateur radio consumers being taken for a ride is ending. The next time you discuss prices with UK dealers remind them of competition and exchange rates! At the moment their margins must be very high. Japanese goods are priced too high in the UK - fact. A few years ago I was more sympathetic, but not any more. UK consumers should pay a fair price with the dealers getting a fair margin, but please don't take us all for mugs. I shall buy when the prices are fair and not before.

If I have this wrong, I shall be interested to hear the dealers viewpoint. Exchange rates have got vastly better and I do not see this reflected in end user prices here in the UK.  Someone is making very handsome profits.

Consumers - vote with your wallets and do not buy overpriced radios.  I have said before, the FT817 is classic example: all development costs were recovered years ago, so the price should be considerably lower than it is. Dealers have dropped the price somewhat, but it is nowhere near what it should be for a very mature design.

Overnight results - 6m and 10m WSPR

Apart from ON7KB (299km) presumably by tropo was spotted a few times in the early hours, it was quiet here on 6m WSPR apart from G0OQK (98km).

On 10m WSPR there was some Es to Spain and Italy around breakfast time.

Sunspots and 10m - Sun August 2nd 2015

Sunspot number is 70 today  (K=3 so more disturbed than yesterday) and 10m is expected to remain "poor" today again.

1 Aug 2015

Overnight on 10m and 6m WSPR

Although I am not expecting great things, I shall remain on 10m and 6m WSPR overnight tonight.   After this, I shall almost certainly switch to MF instead of 6m overnight. I am still hoping for transatlantic Es on 6m WSPR but I have not caught a single Es transatlantic opening in 2 years of trying! The ends just do not justify me continuing this venture as activity levels are too low on WSPR on 6m. In the last few months, apart from CN8 and 4X1, the WSPR spots have all been European.

Yaesu FT991 - first price drop

I see that MLS is selling the FT991 this weekend at around £150 discount. I think, with the favourable exchange rate, we will see further drops this year and I expect the price will be £999 or less before the year is out. This is a nice radio with lots of good features and I will almost certainly buy one when the price drops below £1000, but not before.

Sunspots and 10m - Fri July 31st 2015 (historic)

Sunspot number climbed to 83 (K=4) but 10m conditions remained "poor" yesterday. There was some Es on 10m, but not widespread.

Sunspots and 10m - Sat Aug 1st 2015

Sunspot number was 71 today (K=1) but 10m propagation is again "poor". Es is the only real hope for DX on 10m and 6m.

UPDATE 1827z:  There was some Es to Iberia earlier this morning on 10m WSPR and a brief Es opening to Scotland later, but not what I'd call spectacular.

UPDATE 1832z:  There was Es on 6m today, with SM0FUS (1383km) and EA1KV (1304km) spotted on 6m WSPR. No spectacular openings. G0OQK (98km) has been spotted very consistently through the day.

Yesterday's solar and 10m report

Although this was written it did NOT appear as I must have been distracted before pressing the  "publish" button.  My apologies.

Off air last night

Overnight I decided to go QRT on all bands.  I have now switched on 10m and 6m WSPR.