30 Apr 2016

Another UK rally

Tavistock College, Crowndale Road, Tavistock, Devon. PL19 8DD. The venue has free car parking as well as disabled facilities but please note there is no talk-in station. Doors open at 10.15/10.30am and admission is £2. There will be trade stands, a Bring & Buy and special interest groups. Catering is available on site. Contact Roger Hann, 2E0RPH on 01822 840 723, or by email to 2E0RPH@gmail.com.

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

Being in the west of England this may be of interest to readers in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset especially.

472kHz WSPR overnight

No great DX. I did spot one Norwegian station, but he did not spot me. My best DX on TX was only the Netherlands. I shall soon stop TXing on MF until the autumn.

Sunspots and 10m - Sat April 30th 2016

Solar flux 92 today. Sunspot number is 82 (K=1) and forecast for 10m propagation remains "poor".

29 Apr 2016

Facebook - NOT amateur radio

For some reason Facebook is very very slow here today. All else seems normal. Have they been attacked?

No luck on 10m WSPR today

Perhaps surprisingly, no spots at all today of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon. Certainly here there was no Es propagation evident. I shall be on the band for a few more hours so things might change before dark.

On 630m WSPR with far less ERP (about 27dB less!) I have been regularly been copied at 223km in IO93 square.

On 10m, if there is no propagation that is it - no reports unless there are some Gs spotted by aircraft reflection.  On 630m WSPR there seems to be inter-G propagation all the time.

UPDATE 1912z:  Still no spots at all on 10m WSPR here all day. I shall be going QRT on 10m very shortly.

UPDATE 1945z:  QRT on 10m. Copying G0MRF (103km=64miles) well on 472kHz WSPR. Sadly it looks like G0MRF is only on TX WSPR and not RX at all. If he was looking on RX too, this would be a new one for me on TX.

Bury St Edmunds - NOT amateur radio

Bury St Edmunds is our favourite place to shop. It is a bit further than Cambridge but easier to get to. It is a classic Suffolk market town with charming shops and a good market twice a week. Most of the people you see are true locals from the area with Suffolk accents. In Cambridge it seems that a good proportion of the people are from China!

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bury_St_Edmunds .

OFCOM consultation

See http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/talk-talk-licence-variation/?utm_source=updates&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=talk-talk-licence-variation .

OFCOM are consulting our views. You may want to respond.


I have been reminded of these rallies in the UK:

Thorpe Camp Museum, Tattershall Thorpe, near Coningsby, Lincolnshire LN4 4PE. The venue is all on one level and doors open at 10am. Admission is £3 and includes entry into the museum. Hot food will be available in addition to the NAFFI. This is mainly an outdoor rally but some limited space is available indoors with a small charge for tables. More information by email to tony.nightingale@yahoo.co.uk

Shanes Castle, Randalstown Rd, Antrim BT41 4NE. Including a CASHOTA station operated by Ballymena ARG. Family attractions, catering, disabled facilities, car parking, accessible by public transport. Contact Hugh Kernohan, GI0JEV, 028 2587 1481.

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

Spot the PW?

Have you noticed how few radio magazines there are nowadays on the shelves of magazine shops?  The photo shows part of the magazine racks in W.H.Smith's in Bury St Edmunds. There are lots of mags on trains and transport, quite a few on PCs and smart phones, but it took me ages to find any mags on radio. It is as if our hobby no longer exists.

Out of interest, Practical Wireless was eventually found! Can you spot it?

Sunspots and 10m - Fri April 29th 2016

Solar flux is 93 today and the sunspot number 84 (K=1). Sadly the propagation forecast for 10m remains "poor" although Es may yet again liven up the band.

630m and 10m WSPR daytime today

For a change I shall remain on 630m (472kHz) WSPR all day today as well as TXing 100%  with my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon. I shall not go on 6m today.

Although I do not expect to copy many (any?) stations on 472kHz WSPR, it will be interesting to see who spots me in the daytime on this MF band.
Recent 472kHz spots (by day)
Yesterday there was Es on 10m with 3 unique stations spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR signal.

UPDATE 1440z:  Plenty of spots received on 472kHz but none so far on 10m today.

UPDATE 1450z:  M0LMH (223km) seems to copy me all the time as does G0MQW (123km).

To Norway (yet again) on 472kHz TX (5mW ERP)

Last night I was again spotted by LA8AV (1035km) on 472kHz WSPR.  I run 5mW ERP from the earth-electrode "antenna".

There are fewer active stations on the band now (getting too noisy?) than earlier in the year. I only spotted 2 French stations last night. For the first time in a long time more stations copied me than I copied! This is rarely the case.

28 Apr 2016

472kHz WSPR this evening

Several reports of my 5mW ERP this evening, but I am suspicious that I am not reporting stations I am copying to WSPRnet! Have I forgotten to tick a box (again) or is this a bug? I am sure I ticked the upload spots button (checked - it was ticked). I shall close and reopen the V1.6.0 program. According to my local screen, I spotted no stations at all. This is most unusual, so I have restarted the program and resynced time. We will soon see if I spot others now!

Labour Party - NOT amateur radio

So the UK Labour Party has suspended Ken Livingstone (ex Mayor of London) for being anti-Semitic! Like many, he is appalled by how badly the state of Israel has treated the Palestinians. No, let these people speak out about wrong in this world, where ever it comes from. Sorry, but the UK Labour Party is tearing itself apart. This will let the UK Conservative Party back into power in 2020.

In the last 70 years the state of Israel has done much wrong, as have several Arab nations. Let's try for some real peace. Up to now we have seen very little real effort to forge a lasting peace in the Middle East. Arab blames Jew and vice versa.

On an individual level I know many Jewish people who are kind and generous. I wish well for every human being. We all need tolerance and understanding. All human beings have a right to peace and justice. We all need to be tolerant of our neighbours, whatever their creed or colour. We may not agree with them on many things but they share this small rocky planet with us.


All is very quiet on 6m WSPR with not even spots from G stations by aircraft reflections. There has been no evidence here of 6m Es. Either everyone is on SSB/CW or Es has yet to reach this band. On 10m WSPR there was a brief Es opening at lunchtime but this has now gone. There is a further chance of Es peaking around teatime.

Swallow outside - NOT amateur radio

It is several weeks late, but a swallow has just flown by the window. Summer will soon be here with the return of these migrant birds from South Africa.

As I said before, swallows have been making this journey for thousands of years and will be doing so long after I have gone I hope.

All is well. It gladdens my heart to see them.

See www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/discoverandlearn/birdguide/name/s/swallow/ .

Sepura shares rebounding? - NOT amateur radio

Although basically a very sound and profitable company, shares in my old company, Sepura (SEPU), fell this last week after a profits warning. Since then, the shares have rebounded a bit. I hope it is sustained. Sepura makes and sells secure TETRA digital radios and DPMR radios. It is now 8 years since I retired. It is a long time now.

See http://www.lse.co.uk/ShareChart.asp?chart=intraday&sharechart=SEPU&share=sepura.

Weather - NOT amateur radio

Hail in the back garden
The  weather this year has been strange indeed. We started off here in East Anglia, UK with a mild, wet winter followed by a cold spell in February and March. We are now at the end of April and there have been hail storms and thunder. It has been very cold for late April.  Only yesterday did I definitely see a swallow in Cambridgeshire whereas I usually see these by April 7th and they are common by now. It is as if spring is late. Very odd.

Sunspots and 10m - Thurs April 28th 2016

Solar flux is 91 today (up a little) and sunspot number 86 (which is way up). K=2. The forecast for 10m propagation remains "poor".

10m and 6m WSPR today

As yesterday, I am on 10m WSPR TX (500mW,100%, randomised TX frequency) and 6m (1W ERP, vertical, 20%, RX 80%) but I will switch to 630m tonight.

UPDATE 1112z:  No spots yet.

UPDATE 1226z:  A couple of Es spots of my 500mW 10m WSPR this lunchtime. OZ9QV (864km) was the station who spotted me twice.

UPDATE 1552z: OE6PWD (1232km) has spotted me on 10m WSPR a couple of times this afternoon.

472kHz WSPR overnight

Guess who forgot to press the "enable TX" button? Yes, me. Overnight the usual suspects were copied: EA5DOM, LA8AV, LA3EQ, F6GEX and F1AFJ, but no Germans. As I was not transmitting I was (unsurprisingly!) copied by no-one at all.

27 Apr 2016

QSY to 472kHz WSPR

Just after 1900z I went QRT on 6m and 10m and moved down to 630m (472kHz) WSPR.  It would be good to reach Norway again, as last night on 472kHz, although I think this is unlikely. I shall stay on MF until after breakfast.

UPDATE 2102z:  LA8AV (1035km) has been spotted several times already, but no-one has yet spotted me. I get the feeling signals are not as good?  Maybe the noise levels are creeping up?

Witchford Walk - NOT amateur radio

This morning the sun shone. As I write this, we have hail again!
On the walk we saw baby moorhens, swallows, house martins, a blackcap, a chiffchaff and a buzzard among the many. It was a shortish walk. It is years since I was last in this village near Ely.

The name "Witchford" comes from witches. Not far away is the village of "Coveney", which must also have past connections with the dark side.

Lots of 10m Es this lunchtime

There was a lot of Es around on 10m WSPR today. Some of the signal reports are very strong.  I think I need to switch to my TX only 500mW W0LF 10m WSPR beacon so I can use the FT817 and PC for 6m WSPR.
UPDATE 1325z:  It is hailing again here. Quite heavy too!

UPDATE 1406z:  I have now switched to 1W ERP on 6m WSPR and 500mW (TX only) on 10m WSPR. No spots yet on either band since switching over.

UPDATE 1648z: Spots from EA7 and OZ of my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon, but nothing on 6m either given or received.

Sunspots and 10m - Wed April 27th 2016

Solar flux is 86 but the sunspot number has jumped to 65 (K=2). The 10m propagation forecast remains "poor".

UPDATE 0909z:  No 10m spots given or received, as yet.

Over 1000km again on 472kHz WSPR TX (5mW ERP)

Although there are fewer stations active now as the DX season ends, I was spotted in Norway again last night on 472kHz WPSR by LA8AV (1035km) at 0242z.  I think this is the third time I have been spotted this year in Norway on 472kHz WSPR using my earth-electrode "antenna". Not my best DX on TX but pleasing nonetheless.

26 Apr 2016

Return to 472kHz WSPR

Since finishing in the 6m UKAC contest after 30 minutes because of my poor voice, I returned to 472kHz WSPR. As yet, no spots given or received.

UPDATE 2045z:   M0LMH (223km) and G0MQW (123km) now spotting my 5mW ERP 472kHz WSPR.

UPDATE 2206z:  Now G8LCO (58km) is also spotting me. M0LMH has spotted 9 times so far this evening. As yet I have spotted no-one, which is unusual.

50MHz (6m) UKAC tonight

Although I only have only a vertical V2000 for 6m and can only run 5W pep, I shall give this contest a go this evening.  Usually I stop on for less than an hour because of my poor voice.

See www.rsgbcc.org/cgi-bin/contest_rules.pl?year=2016&contest=6mukac&seq= .

UPDATE 1950z:  Just 3 local QSOs tonight, although I was only using 5W pep, omni-vertical (V2000) and only on for 30 minutes.

Sepura shares? Time to buy? - NOT amateur radio

See http://www.lse.co.uk/ShareChart.asp?chart=intraday&sharechart=SEPU&share=sepura . Sepura (my old Company) shares fell recently.

They make TETRA and DMR (terminals and base stations) and sell these all over the world. In troubled times people will always need secure communications. Maybe now is a good time to buy shares before go up again?

They have been in profit since they were first listed.


Storms - gone QRT for now

We have just had a second hail storm and thunder, so I have disconnected all my amateur radio gear for now. The photo was taken through the window. It feels more like February than nearly May! According to the map, the storms are passing right over us.

See https://www.lightningmaps.org/realtime?lang=en .

UPDATE 1513z: The storms seem to be moving away, but I shall probably stay off the air for a few hours, then return to 472kHz WSPR.

UPDATE 1534z:  An internet friend has reported 5cm of snow in Vermont, USA.  I should stop moaning about the UK weather. :-)

Spring late? - NOT amateur radio

Hail on our front lawn
We had a very mild and wet winter followed by a cold spell in February and March. Here we are at the end of April with a wind from the north, 7 deg C, hail, and now thunder! We have had daffodils in flower since the end of November. The weather is crazy! Because of the storm risks, I have disconnected all my amateur radio gear.

There has just been another hail storm and the grass is white!

10m WSPR so far today

Just G stations spotting me and being spotted here.  

G4WSZ (11km) has copied me several times and G8VDQ (93km) has been spotted once, presumably with the aid of aircraft reflection.

Mount Athos (Greece)

Southgate News reports that there is now a second amateur operating from Mount Athos.

See https://www.qrz.com/db/sv2rsg .

Sunspots and 10m - Tues April 26th 2016

Solar flux is 81 today. This is gradually declining as we slide down the solar cycle. Sunspot number is 38 (K=1) and the forecast for 10m propagation  remains "poor". As if to prove a point FR1GZ (9724km) in the south Indian Ocean was spotted yesterday on 10m WSPR. Yes, the band does open up on N-S paths briefly. Regular WSPR use proves it. We are also seeing the start of the Es season.

I have been on 10m WSPR (TX and RX) since before breakfast.

April 70cm UKAC results

In the AL section, I'm ranked 107th out of 122 entries this year even though I only submitted results for April alone.  Seeing how little time I was active (because of my poor voice), 5W QRP and a 2m halo antenna, I am quite pleased. If you look at just April I am ranked even higher. A far from a serious contester, I do like these VHF/UHF contests on Tuesday evenings as they do encourage SSB activity.

25 Apr 2016

10m Short Skip

At last there was some short skip on 10m today with EA5CYA (1376km) copied here on 10m WSPR. I presume this was Es at teatime.

Alibris UK (what a surprise, NOT) - NOT amateur radio

Well, this must be a bargain! Yet again, they are offering "up to £20 off".

I must get at least 3 a week. Never, ever pay the full price as there is always a "never to be repeated" special deal. What a shower! They surely can't expect the world to be taken in?

See http://www.alibris.co.uk/ .

10m WSPR only from 1325z

At 1325z I switched from my 500mW W0LF TX only WSPR beacon to the FT817ND so I can run 2W and listen for 80% of the time.

So far today, no spots at all on 10m or 6m WSPR. There was no evidence here of short-skip on 10m.

At the moment I am only active on 10m WSPR. I shall return to 630m (472kHz) WSPR tonight.

UPDATE 1336z:   FR1GZ (9724km) has already been spotted here on 10m. This is F2 propagation.

Police and Crime Commissioner - NOT amateur radio

On May 5th we have elections locally for a new Police and Crime Commissioner. I have received no postal correspondence, haven't a clue who holds the post currently, and frankly don't care. I shall not vote as I feel I have no data on which to base my choice. What a shambles! The sad thing is this probably cost us all millions which could have been better spent.

Sunspots and 10m - Mon April 25th 2016

Solar flux is just 82 today although the sunspot number has risen to 46 (K=2). The forecast for 10m propagation (F2) remains "poor", although Es might bring some life to the band.

We can already see the progression down the solar cycle. Next year will be much tougher by F2 on 10m. Luckily Es tends to be good in spring and summer whatever the state of the solar cycle, so we can depend on this mode on 10m, 6m and 4m. Es openings on Band II (VHF FM radio) and 2m are much rarer. They do occur but catching an Es opening on the higher bands is far less common than on 10m and 6m. May, June, July and August will see 10m and 6m open by Es almost daily.

UPDATE 1012z:  No spots given or received yet on 6m or 10m WSPR.

Return to 10m and 6m WSPR

After another night on 5MHz (60m) WSPR where the best TX DX was again KK1D (5409km), I have returned to WSPR on 10m (100% TX, 500mW, randomised TX frequency) and 6m WSPR (1W ERP TX 20%, RX 80%). Later I may switch to the FT817ND on 10m so I can listen 80% of the time as well.

24 Apr 2016

QRP Club

From Oleg:

Dear Club 72 members and friends,
See weekly QRP Rendez-Vous reportand comments here -
Welcome all QRP stations on the next week "rendezvous", schedule -
Also  remind  about  last week of the April QRP Marathon "Look In the
Horizon".  Before  May 1'st you have enough time to take apart in the
Marathon. Visit Club 72 web page anf click Marathon in the menu.

72! Oleg RV3GM / KH6OB "Mr. 72"

Dyson hand driers - NOT amateur radio

In recent days, these have had a bad press. These are the blade driers found in loos. The bad press claims they circulate germs in the air far more than paper towels. I am surprised by this as I thought most air was contained and they are very efficient and fast.

Staying on 5MHz WSPR

In the end, the "London" grandchildren have only just left for home, so I have decided it is too late in the day to QSY to 10m. Instead, I'll remain on 5MHz (60m) WSPR until tomorrow, hoping for some DX tonight.

5MHz WSPR overnight

Well, I stayed on 5MHz (60m) WSPR overnight. Best DX on TX was KK1D (5409km). In all, 40 different stations in 12 countries have copied me on 5MHz WSPR.  I think others are copying me better than I am copying them as my noise floor is quite high here. So far I have heard just 7 unique stations, all in the UK.  If I am going to use 5MHz (60m) in future years I need to reduce my noise floor on RX.

Later today, I shall probably go back on 10m WSPR.
We have our "London" grandchildren staying here this weekend with their mum and dad. They take priority.

Sunspots and 10m - Sun April 24th 2016

Solar flux is 79 and sunspot number just 11 (K=2). The forecast for 10m remains "poor".

23 Apr 2016

5MHz WSPR overnight

WSPRnet sprang back to life this afternoon (I think). It disappeared sometime overnight after 0250z I believe. This eventually allowed me to see the best 5MHz DX last night on WSPR TX. This turned out to be a spot from AB4DF (6436km). There may have been others, but WSPRnet fell over, so I shall never know. I hope to be on 5MHz overnight, so let us hope WSPRnet works! My antenna is very poor and very low for 5MHz. I am amazed how far I got last night with 2W and this low, inefficient antenna.

UPDATE 2135z:  37 unique stations have spotted my 5MHz WSPR in just over a day. Probably more as WSPRnet was not working for much of the time. 5MHz is proving to be a very useful band.

New portable SDR transceiver

Amateur Radio Weekly reports on a new portable SDR transceiver due out in August this year. Price is expected to be less than $500.

See http://www.qrpblog.com/2016/04/esdr-new-portable-sdr-hf-transceiver.html?utm_source=amateur-radio-weekly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter

Chernobyl pollution map - NOT amateur radio

See http://www.lemonde.fr/planete/video/2016/04/20/la-progression-du-nuage-de-tchernobyl-en-une-minute_4905544_3244.html

A very interesting map showing the extent of radio active pollution in Europe after the Chernobyl nuclear accident in the 1980s.

5MHz WSPR - am I wasting my time?

With WSPRnet still not working I have no idea if last night's efforts were worthwhile or not on 5MHz. The chances are that no spots are/were reaching WSPRnet, so the last 12 hours or so were probably all in vain. If this continues I shall be forced to abandon WSPR, which would be a great shame as we enter the Es season, which benefits the higher HF bands, 6m, 4m and 2m.

Obama in the UK - NOT amateur radio

In the UK referendum I am likely to vote "IN" to remain in the EU but I get saddened by all the negativity and "spin" on both sides in this debate. The intervention by the current US president Obama does little good. We have not had a trade deal with the US before and who is likely to benefit? Well, the USA of course. Mr Obama, your intervention, although possibly well meant, is probably going to encourage people to vote "OUT".  It is fine to have an opinion (like I am amazed by the support in the USA for Trump) but if you were in the EU you would not want the centralism in Brussels.

The EU needs to change and the UK is better in there shaping it in my view. Your intervention is likely to backfire Mr Obama and is not helpful I am afraid.

Miracle Whip Yahoo Group

It is some while since I last used my Miracle Whip antenna, although I still moderate the Miracle Whip Yahoo Group which has nearly 1500 members.

Some of the SPAM I intercept is amusing.   More often than not these are to the group owner and promise me all sorts of sexual favours. I think they think the group is another sort!  How wrong they are. Most messages are filtered so it is rare for these to get to the group. As soon as seen, they are deleted. The group has a low tolerance of SPAM.

For those who don't know the Miracle Whip and its derivatives is a small, self contained QRP antenna. On the higher HF bands with a counterpoise it works quite well. My best DX using it indoors was with the FT817 to Argentina over 11000kms on QRP SSB. This was on 10m. It works as well as a 56 inch whip will do if well matched. Do not expect miracles!

See https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/miraclewhip/info .

See http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/hamantht/miracle.jpg. The image is theirs and is linked here. The image is not on this site.

Sunspots and 10m - Sat April 23rd 2016

Solar flux is 77 today and sunspot number 22 (K=2). The forecast for 10m propagation remains "poor".

WSPRnet - down again

In the last few hours I have tried (in vain) to visit WSPRnet to see where my 5MHz WSPR reached. It was down yet again. Many many times regular WSPR users have offered to pay for a reliable service. When WSPRnet is down WSPR is far less useful. I am still waiting!

At the moment the WSPRnet service goes for weeks working fine, then it collapses in a heap. Sometimes it is a long time before service is restored. I am unsure where the problem is but I hope it is soon repaired.

UPDATE 0912z:  WSPRnet is still down, after very many hours.

UPDATE 1236z:  WSPRnet is still down!  This is bad. I do wish the server owners and maintainers would get help.

22 Apr 2016

5MHz through the night

Through the night I shall stay on 5MHz WSPR to see what happens. I am not familiar with the band so have no real idea what I should expect. I was quite surprised that my Par matched so well with the ATU.  So far the Icelandic spot remains my best DX on TX. I should try 10MHz sometime.

5MHz to Iceland and Finland

TF3HZ (1837km) and OH3TAM (1737km) have spotted my 5MHz WSPR. At the moment the former is my best DX on the 60m band. My antenna is still my 40/20/10m end-fed Par antenna via an ATU.  It is far from ideal on 60m.

UPDATE  2200z:   21 unique 5MHz stations spotting me on 5MHz WSPR in 8 different countries so far.  Don't you just love WSPR?

Britain and the EU - NOT amateur radio

Just watched the second Nick Robinson BBC2 programme about Britain and the EU. Some decent information in this series. If you are looking for real information,and NOT spin, I suggest you watch this on iPlayer or Catch-up if you can.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b078cwf7/europe-them-or-us-2-voice-of-the-people .

Pure commercialism - NOT amateur radio

Alibris UK makes me sick. Their latest "offer" is yet again offering a discount.

Oh yes. Pull the other one.


Later today I may give 5MHz WSPR a go, although I need to check what frequency to use. I see that Romania has been granted access to a narrow part of the band. I hope CEPT (including OFCOM) allocate a contiguous 100kHz band at 5MHz rather than just the 15kHz worldwide allocation allocated at WRC-15. This band will be important in the quiet years to come. 15kHz is very narrow.

UPDATE 1020z:  I have just switched to 5MHz WSPR (both TX and RX).  I have had to go QRT on 10m WSPR and 6m WSPR because of rigs and antenna.

UPDATE 1100z:  These are the initial spots on 60m. 
UPDATE 1310z:  G8VDQ (93km) has been spotted on 5MHz. He must be active on many bands. My best DX on 5MHz WSPR TX remains 448km to Germany and The Netherlands.

Sunspots and 10m - Fri April 22nd 2016

Solar flux has reached a new low at 76 today. Sunspot number is 35 (K=2) and the forecast for 10m propagation remains "poor".

UPDATE 1000z:  Although I have been active on 10m WSPR TX for several hours, no spots as yet. I am also on 6m WSP where G8VDQ (93km) is regularly being spotted here.

Cambridge rally

Foxton Village Hall, Hardman Road, Foxton, Cambridge, Cambs, CB22 6RN.

Car parking is free at the venue, which also has disabled facilities. The doors open at 9.30am with traders gaining access from 7am. Admission is £2. A talk-in station will be on air to assist visitors. There will be trade stands, a car boot area, a Bring & Buy and an RSGB bookstall. Catering will be available on site and this year sees new caterers booked.

Contact Lawrence, M0LCM on 0794 197 2724 for more information or email rally2016@cambridgerepeaters.net.

21 Apr 2016

Railway Talk - NOT amateur radio

Just been to an excellent talk at Burwell Museum on "Railways in Burwell" by Steve Crane. It was well attended.

More talks - see the Museum's website at http://www.burwellmuseum.org.uk/ .

RSGB AGM - in Glasgow

Saturday 23 APRIL : RSGB AGM

Glasgow City Hotel, 36 Cambridge St, Glasgow G2 3HN.

A number of Board and Regional positions will be voted and announced. Various trophies and awards will be presented. www.rsgb.org.

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

10m and 6m WSPR overnight

Yours truly remained active on these bands overnight for a change. OK, I admit it - I forgot to turn them off and did not QSY to MF! There were no spots on 10m, but on 6m WSPR G8VDQ (93km) was spotted lots of times through the evening and night.

UPDATE 1024z: Still no spots on 10m WSPR.

Sunspots and 10m - Thurs April 21st 2016

Solar flux has fallen further to 82 today. Sunspot number is 24 (K=2) and the 10m propagation forecast again is "poor". We are now entering the Es season so short-skip may liven up 10m and 6m fro time to time. Es tends to peak around lunchtime and teatime, but can occur at any time and in any month.

Talk today - NOT amateur radio

A final reminder for a talk at our local museum today....

Thursday 21 April 2.00 Steve Crane, Burwell Museum’s Collection Manager "Railways in Burwell", near Cambridge.

Talks are followed by tea and biscuits. Free with museum admission. No admission charge for season ticket holders, Friends and museum volunteers.

See http://www.burwellmuseum.org.uk/ .

20 Apr 2016

2m UKAC results so far

Out of 125 entrants in the AL section of the 2m UKAC I see I am 83rd so far. This is not bad considering my 5W, omni antenna and very limited operating time in each session. I shall enter most months if I am around.

RadCom arrived today

The May 2016 RadCom arrived in the post today.

On the outside rear cover was an advert by MLS showing a £223000 Rolls Royce and a Yaesu FTdx9000NP for £8399. Do people really need their egos stroking so badly that they fork out this sort of money on what is supposed to be a hobby? Each to their own, but I could never spend this sort of money. Add a linear, HF beam and a big rotator and you are talking really serious silly money.

All I can say is I think this is very very sad. It is not for me to say how others spend their money, but I think this is about egos and not about amateur radio. I don't recognise this "cheque book radio" as being my hobby any more.

Swallows - NOT amateur radio

Only yesterday I was that I'd seen no swallows (birds) in East Anglia. Today I saw two! I still think they are less numerous but at least I have now seen some this season.

Oxborough Hall - NOT amateur radio

Today we visited Oxborough Hall in Norfolk. This is a splendid moated Tudor house owned by the National Trust. The Bedingfield family has lived here for 500 years.

We ate at Hingham in a small cafe where we had been before.  This is my XYL tucking into her "healthy" meal.

Hingham is where Abraham Lincoln's ancestors came from. It is between Norwich and Watton. It is a lovely place.

See http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/oxburgh-hall

See http://www.lincolns-of-hingham.co.uk/

Active on 10m and 6m WSPR

Since about 0630z I have been active on 10m WSPR (100% TX 500mW) and 6m WSPR (20% 1W ERP TX, 80% RX, vertical).

So far just G8VDQ (93km) and G8AXA (103km) spotted several times on 6m WSPR and nobody spotting me yet on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 1600z:  No spots at all on 10m WSPR and just G8VDQ and G8AXA still on 6m WSPR. I shall leave both running in case there is some Es at teatime.

Sunspots and 10m - Wed April 20th 2016

Solar flux has fallen again to 28. Sunspot number is also down at 28 (K=2). The forecast for 10m propagation remains "poor", although 10m has been livened up by sporadic-E (Es) in recent days. Yet again, I am not expecting great F2 propagation on 10m today.

19 Apr 2016

481THz experiment - abject failure

Well, I am sorry to report that my 481THz lightbeam experiment was a total failure.

Although I could detect my QRSS3 signal strongly across the house bouncing off the windmill I was unable to detect any sign of the signal at my remote site. I had problems with aiming which did not help, but I was not expecting the total exhaustion this test brought on. In days gone by this would have been easy, but even soldering a headphone jack tired me. Doing the actual test left me totally "done in".  I really should repeat the test with better aiming, but I am not ready in my body.

If one thing this has taught me it is that I am still too feeble for field work. It was a great disappointment, but there will be other opportunities.

In past years I loved doing this sort of experiment. Sadly, my body is telling me, "not yet".

Fewer swallows? - NOT amateur radio

Usually by this time I have seen quite a few swallows here in East Anglia, UK. They migrate from deep in Africa (often South Africa) and I usually see them here in East Anglia, UK from April 7th. In South Devon they are usually arriving by the beginning of April. Sand Martins arrive sooner. I remember my dad telling me when he first saw them. He died in 1987 and many is the time since when I have missed talking with him.

I know there are swallows around in Devon - they appear every day in the reports - but I am surprised not to have seen any up here yet. I may have seen one last week at Felixstowe Ferry but I was not certain. I definitely saw a house martin.

So, I am beginning to wonder if there are fewer swallows about this year, as by now I would be seeing them quite commonly on telegraph wires. Of course, it could just be that I have been unlucky. It is not as if I have not been looking.

See http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/discoverandlearn/birdguide/name/s/swallow/ .

All India Radio going?

Southgate News reports that All India Radio's external service may close due to high costs. Soon HF will sound quite different as more and more broadcasters cut back or close services.

Noise levels are creeping up.  More space for amateur bands?

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2016/april/air_short_wave_may_shut_down.htm .

BBC accents - NOT amateur radio

At 1200-1215pm local time BBC Radio 4 has a series looking back 100 years to ordinary people in WW1. Call me a grumpy old man, but I get appalled by the BBC's weak attempts at local accents. It is not just the BBC. Why can't they get rural accents right? You can always tell a BBC Radio 4 drama a mile off!

I watched the film "Warhorse" . It was appalling: a Dartmoor, Devon village was actually filmed in Wiltshire I think. It looked nothing like Devon. The Devon accents were very very bad. No excuses: they spend millions making these films and need to get the basics right. 

No, get the accents right please!

481THz test

The wind is soon to be light and from the north and east. This means our windmill sails will be out of the way if I manage to do some optical tests in the next few evenings. I want to see if I can detect my 481THz red light reflected off the windmill using QRSS3 at a moderate distance.

To do this test I shall need to aim my QRSS3 optical beacon at the windmill and use a PC with Spectran software and sensitive detector and optics at the remote site. I have tripods but they are not the world's best.

As it is some time since I used the gear, I need to do some local tests first to check all is well.

Optical work is fun as all the gear is homemade and test gear is simple. In my view this is more fun than microwaves. It is accessible to all. All you need are a weak light source, a scope, free software and a multimeter.

In my healthier days I had a lot of fun detecting my QRSS3 optícal signal over the horizon  There was no sign of the signal visible by eye, but on the PC screen it was very clearly visible.

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

Sunspots and 10m - Tues April 19th 2016

Solar flux has dropped to 95. Sunspot number is 28, which is lower. K=1. The forecast for 10m propagation remains "poor". We can hope that Es livens up this band and 6m, as the chances of real long distance DX are not good. Both 10m and 6m often surprise, so South Ameríca is not out of the question, especially on 10m.

6m WSPR and 10m WSPR soon

Very shortly I shall be turning on the WSPR station. I plan to be on 10m (TX 100%, randomised TX frequency, 500mW) and on 6m WSPR (1W ERP 20%, 80% RX, V2000 vertical). With the Es season here, there is a chance of catching some European short skip on both bands.

UPDATE 0918z:  Now active on 6m WSPR and 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 0942z:  No spots yet on 10m WSPR, but G8VDQ (93km) spotted on 6m WSPR at -16dB S/N.

UPDATE 1530z: On 6m WSPR just G8VDQ (93km) spotted many times. On 10m WSPR my  500mW WSPR beacon has been spotted in Germany and Italy with the best DX I4ZTO (1185km). Not a bad Es day.

18 Apr 2016


Since about 1830z I have been on 472kHz WSPR. No spots yet. Tomorrow, during the day, I shall probably be on 6m and 10m WSPR. What I do in the evening tomorrow is still to be decided. I really should try a different band.  472kHz is now past its best this season I think. For the last few nights my best DX on TX (5mW ERP, earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground) has been Holland. Best 472kHz WSPR TX DX this season remains Norway.

Stroke update - NOT amateur radio

Not a lot of change really.

My biggest issues are not being able to speak easily, drinking liquids and feeling so profoundly tired so often, even though I sleep well. The fact that I feel wobbly when on my feet I have learned to live with. The tiredness is debilitating.  I feel as if I have drunk 8 pints of beer most of my waking life. I can assure you it is no fun. Sitting down is OK. No-one, and I do mean no-one,  seems to understand what a struggle it is. The comment I get is, "you do look well". If only they understood just how difficult life really is on the inside.

Garden in Spring - NOT amateur radio

This is a photo of our front garden yesterday. The windmill is in view on the right. Spring has nearly sprung: all the trees are now starting to look green or are in bud. Mind you, we still had a frost on Sunday morning.

Exclusive 24-hour Sale! Up to £18 off - NOT amateur radio

Alibris UK of course!  I'm sorry but this sort of marketing ploy does not impress me one bit. Every week there is an offer. It is stupid.

10m WSPR so far today

Just G stations being spotted and spotting me so far. G0VUH (157km) is a new one for me. G4CUI (172km) is best DX so far.

UPDATE 1140z:  HA9AL (1455km), OZ9QV (864km) and OZ7IT spotted me and I spotted OZ7IT (853km). It looks like we are now seeing Es on 10m WSPR.  It will soon be time to return to 6m WSPR.

UPDATE 1235z:  Now OK2SAM (1283km) has been spotted on 10m WSPR.  Lots of Es I think.

UPDATE 1615z:  HA9AL (1455km) is being spotted again. This is classic Es with a second peak around teatime. I may start 6m WSPR from tomorrow and revert to my 500mW 100% TX only beacon on 10m at the same time on a different antenna. 

481THz lightbeam experiment?

Our local windmill. Me seated. XYL on RHS.
It is getting close to the time when I fancy some field work! My first experiment will be to detect QRSS 481THz (red light) at some distance by reflection off our local windmill. It will need my XYL to accompany me as it will involve night driving but it will either work or not. This will be my first field test in a long long time.

This picture was taken in 2014 and the laurel hedge has grown quite a bit since. Look at a later post to see how it looks now.
Small steps...

Sunspots and 10m - Mon April 18th 2016

Solar flux is 103 today and the sunspot number 35 (K=1). The forecast for 10m propagation remains "poor". Yesterday there was some short-skip (Es?) on the band and we can expect more of this during the coming months.I have been on 10m WSPR since 0630z this morning.

17 Apr 2016

Return to 472kHz WSPR

Well, as I think the opportunity for 10m DX has now gone for the day, I have again QSYed down to 472kHz WSPR. I hope WSPRnet is working this evening and overnight.

It will soon be time to fire up the 6m WSPR station as the Es season approaches. There have already been hints of Es on 10m and soon it will be 6m. In the last two Es seasons 4X1RF (3519km) has copied my 1W ERP 6m WSPR signal several times, although I dispute the conventional multi-hop theory. I personally think this is (maybe) some sort of E layer tilt without an intermediate hop on the ground. I may be wrong.

Back on 10m WSPR

WSPRnet seems to be working again. I have been on 10m WSPR for about 20 minutes so far but I am only being spotted by local Jenny G0VQH who is 15km south of me. No DX yet.
QRP station. Currently on 10m WSPR
UPDATE 1615z:  Apart from a single spot this afternoon by OZ9QV (864km) nobody else at any range has copied me on 10m WSPR today. I have copied Norway and Sweden on 10m WSPR today so there is short-skip (Es?) around.  I'll leave the rig running a bit longer on 10m WSPR in case there are any S.Americans. In the coming months you sometimes get mixed modes on 10m with Es joining with F2 further south and some remarkable distances are possible.   USA DX by multi-hop Es on 10m and 6m is usually later in the summer. In past Es seasons I have copied USA, Caribbean and S.Americans by Es on 6m. I have only worked the USA once on 6m CW QRP but that was by Es. At the time 6m sounded like 20m!

WSPRnet - still broken?

Several times I have tried to enter the WSPRnet database, but without success. It looks like it is broken again. Without WSPRnet WSPR is no good, in my view.

EU referendum - NOT amateur radio

There is a poor quality debate on this matter. We vote on whether or not to remain in the EU in less than 10 weeks but the quality of the arguments is very poor.

The UK has looked towards the EU as a common market and never with a view to a political union. Many in Europe see it as a way to keep peace in Europe. At the moment I am still inclined to vote "IN" but the politicians here are certainly not winning hearts and minds on either side.

The debate needs to be more positive! All I hear are fear and uncertainty.

Late spring? - NOT amateur radio

A few months ago everything seemed to be early. We have seen daffodils in flower right through from late November. Some places have loads of daffodils in flower and even some snowdrops still. Yet, if anything, spring is late here. It is now way in to April but I have yet to see a swallow in this area. My laurel hedge is hardly growing. The grass has only been cut a few times. Odd. Yes there buds coming out, but spring is definitely not early here.

Sunspots and 10m - Sun April 17th 2016

Solar flux has dropped back a bit to 108. Sunspot number has fallen a bit to 51 (K=4). The forecast for 10m propagation remains "poor".

Conditions are not as good as yesterday when I managed to copy an LU briefly.

On the face of it, I should not expect much on 10m today. Of course, this assumes WSPRnet works today! Without it I cannot see where I am being spotted and others will not be able to see me spotting them.

16 Apr 2016

Back on 472kHz WSPR

As the storm risk seems to have passed, I have resumed 472kHz WSPR (5mW ERP 20% TX, 80% RX, earth-electrode "antenna") using the FT817 and homebrew transverter.

UPDATE 1922z:  So far only M0LMH (223km) has spotted me twice. He regularly spots me.

UPDATE 2000z:  Not for the first time, I find myself, yet again, the only UK station transmitting 472kHz WSPR.  I just don't understand why this is when transverters are easy and big antennas are not needed for WSPR.

UPDATE 2220z:  Now WSPRnet is playing up and won't load the database with me!  "Problem loading page". Wonderful. I'll stay on 472kHz overnight but without WSPRnet WSPR is not good. WSPR benefits from the internet feedback/reports that WSPRnet provides. One cannot be sure if reports up to WSPRnet are getting through. As many users have said, we'd be happy to pay towards a reliable service. Clearly the database and its maintainers are struggling currently

QRT - hail!

As there is a hailstorm currently, I decided to go QRT on all bands and disconnect antennas and PSUs. I am probably being over-cautious, but I can go on 10m WSPR another day. In the last few hours it has just been locals and no DX on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 1700z: See http://www.lightningmaps.org/realtime?lang=en. At the moment the maps show thunderstorms to the north of here. I may go on MF later.

UPDATE 1848z:  As the nearest storm is in the Leicester area, I think it is safe to resume MF WSPR transmissions.


LU8EX (11208km) was spotted here on 10m WSPR this afternoon. Apart from this, spots were local apart from G8VDQ (93km). 

As I have said many times before, WSPR is the ideal mode to spot these brief 10m openings. On SSB it is unlikely anyone would have even realised the path to Argentina was open today. And don't forget, the Argentine station was only running 5W QRP.  With WSPR, only QRP is needed.

There is still a chance of further DX on 10m WSPR, so I shall remain on until after dark.

SteppIR antennas

The designer of the SteppeIR yagi is at W&S next week according to Southgate News.

I am not a great fan of big amateur antennas, but I understand they will appeal to some. As you know, my "thing" is QRP and small wire antennas, but each to their own. What appeals to me is different to what others judge important. There is room in our hobby for many different interests.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2016/april/steppir_at_w_and_s.htm

Broadband - NOT amateur radio

73.72Mbps download speed tested over wifi by Ookla on the cheapest Virgin Media package. Can't complain.

10m WSPR - just a local so far

G4KPX (14km) is the only station to spot me so far on 10m WSPR. This is disappointing as I was expecting more by now. I shall be on 10m WSPR until dark and hope to spot, and be spotted, by more stations including some DX.

UPDATE 1306z:  Still just the single local spot on 10m WSPR today.

ON4KST chat for skeds

Quite a few people us this to arrange skeds on VHF, UHF and microwaves. It is also used for some LF/MF skeds too. There are different forums for different bands.

See http://www.on4kst.com/chat/start.php .

Sunspots and 10m - Sat April 16th 2016

Solar flux is a respectable 113 today and the sunspot number higher at 69 (K=1). The forecast for 10m propagation remains "poor" but I think today will be a good 10m WSPR day.

UPDATE 0924z:  No 10m WSPR spots yet, although it is very early.

15 Apr 2016

RSGB videos

The RSGB has produced some very good videos designed to introduce the hobby to those "outside" it or to explain its vast possibilities to those already in the hobby.

For example, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SH9OtgAcV6g.

Well done!

EU referendum - NOT amateur radio

It is now 10 weeks until people in the UK hold a referendum to decide whether or not to stay in the EU. At the moment I am voting "IN" but I have been appalled by the campaigns so far. What comes across are fear and uncertainty. No-one seems to have anything positive to say! I hope this changes.

FTSE 100 - NOT amateur radio

At the moment the UK share index, the FTSE 100, is down about 0.48% today, no doubt spooked by Chinese growth slowing. The world economy is not that healthy and we could well be heading for another downturn. If the end result is a fairer world this would not be a bad thing.

Rallies in years to come?

The high streets are changing. Have you noticed that there are far more coffee shops and charity shops and far fewer bookshops? This is because of us.

I wonder what radio rallies will look like in the future. Rallies are not my scene really, but I have been to a few over the years. There seem to be fewer trade stalls nowadays and more stalls that are not amateur radio related. As the average age of radio amateurs increases, fewer people will attend and some will stop. The GQRP rally at Rishworth ends this year, no doubt because of the average age of attendees. No, radio rallies will soon be a thing of the past if we are not careful.

My concerns about radio mags and adverts have been shared before, but our hobby is likely to be very different and soon. What can be expected are fewer magazines, fewer adverts, fewer products as the market shrinks.  Our hobby has a problem on many fronts due to an ageing population. We ignore this at our peril.

Back on 10m WSPR ...and some DX

FR1GZ (9724km) has been spotted on 10m WSPR and I have been spotted in Italy. Italian stations are also being spotted here.  My return to 10m WSPR is proving worthwhile.

UPDATE 1345z: CX2ABP (11127km) in Uruguay has been spotted several times on 10m WSPR this afternoon.

UPDATE 1915z:  In all CX2ABP was copied 4 times up to 1808z. What is interesting is the large drift (Doppler?) on the signal. The most probable explanation is that the layers near the equator were moving (spread F?), hence the Doppler.
UPDATE 1920z: I have decided to go QRT on all bands to minimise the storm risk.

Sunspots and 10m. Friday April 15th 2016

Solar flux is 112 today and the sunspot number 46 (K=1). The forecast for 10m propagation remains "poor".  Despite the forecast, I have "good vibes" about 10m WSPR today.

Radio active?

In a few minutes I am going to assess the risk of nearby storms and venture onto 10m WSPR for a few hours if the danger is low. I know there is a risk later but there maybe a window of a few hours. Although I do not like storms nearby, I miss not being active on the radio. I see than I have been on JT65 and JT9-1 far less than I intended this year. Still we have only had 3.5 months, so plenty of time left this year.

UPDATE 1000z:  The risks look low with no nearby lightning shown on the map, so I shall go on 10m WSPR shortly.

UK Rallies

I've been notified about these upcoming rallies here in the UK:

Kempton Park Racecourse, Staines Road East, Sunbury on Thames, TW16 5AQ. The venue has free car parking and disabled facilities. There will be a talk-in station and doors open 9.50/10am. Other attractions include trade stands, a flea market, a Bring & Buy, special interest groups and lectures. A raffle will also be held. Catering is available on site.

Details from Paul, M0CJX on 08451 650 351 or by email to info@radiofairs.co.uk. www.radiofairs.co.uk.

Tangley Village Hall, Wildhern, Andover, Hants SP11 0JE Doors will be open from 9amto 4pm with disabled visitors gaining access from 8.30am. Admittance will be £2. Tables in the hall are £10 and p itches in the field £8. There will be a Bring & Buy, Car boot area, as well as trade stands. Catering will be available on site and there will be a raffle held on the day.

More details from Paul Phillips, G4KZY, 0777 573 8200, paul.g4kzy@gmail.com.

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

14 Apr 2016

Thunder and lightning - NOT amateur radio

For the last 20 minutes we have had thunder and lightning here. According to the time between the lightning and thunder it was about 1 mile away. My radios and PC will remain disconnected. Looking at the map linked below it seems to be tracking NW the worst may now have passed. It remains very dark outside and we can still hear thunder.

See http://www.lightningmaps.org/realtime?lang=en

UPDATE 1830z:  Although the storm risk seems to have passed today, more storms are possible tomorrow, so I may leave things disconnected. 

Innocent until proved guilty? - NOT amateur radio

A recent case has arisen in which a man found guilty of a serious crime has professed his innocence to a number further charges. Mud sticks and innocent people get tarred even when they are later proved innocent.

Personally, I think no-one should be named until they are proved guilty of any crime. The law is an arse if innocent people are found guilty by the mob. I can think of several examples where lives have been ruined, wrongly. If guilty, the courts will find this and justice will be done.

Lightning maps

See http://www.lightningmaps.org/realtime?lang=en .

I find these maps very useful as they give advanced warnings of approaching storms. Even when storms are some way away you can get surges that can damage equipment. With approaching storms I tend to disconnect radios and PCs and unplug antennas and mains connectors.

Years ago, a friend at work got struck (his house) and I have always been a bit wary since. Thunder and lightning can be very nasty.

Sunspots and 10m - Thurs April 14th 2016

Solar flux is 112 today and the sunspot number 41 (K=3). The forecast for 10m propagation is yet again "poor".  It is unlikely I'll be on the band today as there is a risk of thunder and the band will be closed for DX later. I may go straight to 630m after dark.

472kHz last night

PA0RDT (243km) was best DX on TX on 472kHz WSPR last night. In all, three different stations spotted my 5mW ERP. It was a disappointing night on the band.

I have now gone QRT on all bands as there is thunder forecast. I may resume operations later when the threat is no longer with us.

13 Apr 2016


This evening at 1900z I came on the 145.550MHz Cambridge Club net. I had a long chat with M0SND (Waterbeach) who gave me a 59+50dB report despite me running QRP to an omni-vertical. Alex is 92 years old  and was a regular on our Monday 2m net. It was good to talk with him again.

At one time (early 1970s) I was on the committee of the Cambridge club. It is some years since I last went to the club. I am not keen on driving in the dark these days.

See www.cdarc.co.uk  .

Return to 472kHz WSPR

We have been out most of the day at Felixstowe Ferry for a walk next to the sea and a lunch of fish (fresh) and chips at the old fashioned cafe that has been there since 1958.

I have been on 472kHz (630m) WSPR since 1936z. Only spots by M0LMH (223km) so far of my 5mW ERP, but the evening and night are young.

UPDATE 2100z:   LA8AV (1035km) is the best DX on RX so far tonight on 472kHz WSPR.

Steve G1KQH - NOT amateur radio

Steve did look for deals on eBay yesterday and found the Bluetooth smart watch for a little over £4. See yesterday's post. I do not understand how they do it for the price and ship it half way around the world.

Steve also sent me a link in which you can check MOT history.
See https://www.gov.uk/check-mot-history

40m WSPR overnight

No great DX last night with only European spots given and received overnight. On previous 40m WSPR outings I have been copied in North and South America and Australia. No such luck last night!

Sunspots and 10m - Wed April 13th 2016

Solar flux is 113 today. Sunspot number is 34 (K=4) and the forecast for 10m propagation is again "poor".

As there is a chance of thunder, I am not currently active on any band at present. I shall review the situation later.

12 Apr 2016

70cm UKAC

As usual, I entered the RSGB's monthly activity contest for 70cms using 5W pep and my 2m big-wheel antenna. I only stopped on for less than 1 hour because of my poor voice. 5 QSOs were made as shown on the map. Considering the QRP, poor antenna and my limited time, I was quite happy with the results.

QSY to 40m WSPR

After another disappointing day on 10m WSPR, I have QSYed to 40m WSPR for the evening and overnight.

UPDATE 1840z:  UA1ASB (2042km) is the best spot of my transmissions this evening so far. Plenty of spots given and received on 40m WSPR.

That EU referendum - NOT amateur radio

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36024492

As a "floating voter" in the coming EU referendum I am not impressed by the £9M government publication going to each home and the negativity of the "IN" campaign.

Surely if staying in is a good thing, there are positive messages, not just more negative comments, that can be shared? My instinct is to vote "IN" but I may well change my mind.  I have a brain and intend to use it. I need to hear positive reasons to stay in the EU. All this negativity is counter-productive.

UPDATE 1850z:  I got this in the last hour. Apparently, if you return the leaflet to the freepost address, the Conservative  Party gets billed for the postage:

Another stroke after-effect

At one time, I just looked at a word and knew if it was wrong. These days I really struggle. As an example, on one of my other blogs I used the word "daffodils". I have to admit that I had to look up the word to see if it was daffodils or dafoddils. I am sure that this lack of seeing spelling errors is yet another post-stroke after-effect. It is more of an inconvenience than a real handicap, but I can see that this has changed. Strokes and brain injuries are odd things. Even 2.5 years after it all happened it is still causing me real problems.

BeoFeng Dual Band Transceiver for £18.99 (or lower) with free postage!

See http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/BaoFeng-UV-5R-136-174-400-520-MHz-Dual-Band-DCS-DTMF-CTCSS-FM-Two-Way-Radio-/252233483100?hash=item3aba49835c:g:6RAAAOSwL7VWhdxu

Some of the prices for new amateur radio gear is just incredible. At these prices how can anyone make a profit? This is shipped from the UK too.

UPDATE 1235z:  OK, I give up! I have just seen it available even cheaper (£15.75) on eBay!! See http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/BAOFENG-UV-5R-Dual-Band-UHF-VHF-Two-Way-Ham-FM-Radio-Speaker-Mic-Walkie-Talkie-/262371437743?hash=item3d168e6caf:g:JXkAAOSwJQdW-zkK
 No doubt Steve G1KQH will find the lowest price ones! Once he reads this he will be "on the case".

UPDATE 1246z: Or maybe a smart watch with Bluetooth for just over £7? See http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Bluetooth-Smart-Wrist-Watch-Phone-Mate-For-Android-IOS-iPhone-Samsung-HTC-UK-/172150503333?var=&hash=item2814f837a5:m:mIJ9EQ_TPg5B29hjQ8cDS_Q

Alibris amusement - NOT amateur radio

Each and every week I get an email from Alibris with so much off for a very limited time. Do they think I really am stupid? These offers are so often and so regular that I doubt anyone buys from them at the un-discounted prices. I hate these ploys. It is years since I have used them. Their sad marketing tricks do not impress me one bit.

10m WSPR and 630m WSPR overnight

As yet, no spots on 10m WSPR, although it is still early in the day. With solar activity up a bit I am hopeful of some 10m WSPR DX later, although 10m can be fickle and the forecast is "poor".

630m WSPR, last night was disappointing with no new stations copied or copying my 5mW ERP.  It will soon be time to switch to 6m for the Es season.

It is possible some short skip will liven up 10m and 6m. The main Es season in the northern hemisphere is May, June and July but Es can occur at any time. WSPR helps find these brief openings!


Oleg sent out a reminder about the Tuesday 0900z net on 14.060MHz but I have only just got on the PC, so I was unable to send out a reminder.

Generally there is QRP on, and close to, the internationally agreed QRP frequencies on each band. If you are after QRP QSOs then these are always the best places to look first. If you call a QRO station, the chances are they will not realise you are using 5W or less. The difference is only a few "S" points, so save the Earth's resources and only use the power you need. Besides, QRP operating is real fun.

Sunspots and 10m - Tues April 12th 2016

Solar flux is 113 today. Sunspot number is rising and is 42 today (K=3). The forecast for 10m propagation remains "poor".  I have been on 10m WSPR for about 30 minutes now, having QSYed from MF, which I was on last night.

11 Apr 2016

VHF conditions up?

We normally hold an East Cambridgeshire net at 1900z Mondays on 144.575MHz FM. If the channel is busy we move down 25kHz or further.  This evening it was busy so we moved down to 144.550MHz FM. G4CPE (Luton) was a "smooth noise" signal with me working G3KKD.  Next week we will be back on 144.575MHz FM all being well.

630m WSPR this evening

So far this evening my best RX report was to spot DL6TY (629km) and the best DX on TX (5mW ERP) was a spot by PA7EY (306km). Nothing further yet.

QRP Club

More from Oleg:

Dear Club 72 members and friends,
QRP Marathon "Look In the Horizon" is active now. Everyone can take a part in any April day before May 1'st.

See full QRP "Rendez-Vous" weekly report here -
See full Visitors and Frequenters lists - www.club72.su
See  all  QRP  operators  on  "rendezvous",  see  schedule  on Club 72

72! Oleg RV3GM / KH6OB "Mr. 72"

QSYed from 630m to 10m WSPR

After a rather disappointing night on 630m (with no great DX on TX), I QSYed to 10m WSPR at around 0900z.

10m WSPR disappointment

Just spots from local G0VQH (15km) today. Jenny is south of me and was mayor of Cambridge at one time.  No DX seen at all on 10m WSPR here. In all, disappointing.

Wimpole Hall - NOT amateur radio

"It will be quiet today", said my wife. Famous last words!  Wimpole Hall (National Trust) was heaving today! It was "Lambing Day" and most schools were still on holiday. We walked to Home Farm and then had a sandwich at the cafe near the entrance.

Sunspots and 10m - Mon April 11th 2016

Solar flux is 114 today (quite decent). Sunspot number is 26 (K=0) and the forecast for 10m propagation remains "poor". As conditions are not disturbed and the solar flux is quite good today, we could see some interesting 10m conditions today.

10 Apr 2016

Alone again - NOT amateur radio

We are on our own again as the "London" grandchildren returned home late afternoon. Having had a stroke 2.5 years ago I find having them fun, but tiring. As the saying goes, "good to see them come and good to see them go".

WRC 2015 final agreements

See http://www.itu.int/pub/R-ACT-WRC.12-2015 .

I do hope that OFCOM and the whole of CEPT allocates a full 100kHz rather than the 15kHz agreed at the ITU WRC 2015 to the amateur service at 5MHz.

Of course this would mean OFCOM making a real decision, so this is unlikely.

Back on 630m WSPR after 10m WSPR today

10m WSPR was disappointing today here with just G spots. Already, 630m (472kHz) WSPR is better with lots of spots already both given and received.

UPDATE 2020z:  This evening looks good. Already spotting EA5DOM (1525km) and being spotted in The Netherlands on 472kHz WSPR with 5mW ERP. Will I be copied in Norway again overnight on 472kHz WSPR?

Church blog updated - NOT amateur radio

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

The church blog has now been updated to include the redundant St Peter's Church in Cambridge. I have still to add a photo of the font.

Sunspots and 10m - Sun April 10th 2016

Solar flux is 106 today. Sunspot number is 29, just up on yesterday, and K=3. The forecast for 10m remains "poor" today. I am not expecting great things on 10m today.

9 Apr 2016

St Peter's Church, Cambridge - NOT amateur radio

This redundant church in Cambridge was visited yesterday. It was open. It is located just north of the Folk Museum. I'll do a write-up for the church blog next week. Nice place - small but holy.

Sunspots and 10m - Sat April 9th 2016

As we have had little grandchildren staying here (on their own) , amateur radio has taken a back seat, although I have been on 10m WSPR most of the day.

Solar flux has risen to 105 today and sunspot number is 27 (K=1). The forecast for 10m propagation remains "poor".

10m WSPR today

10m WSPR was disappointing today with just spots by G stations all day. With slightly better solar conditions and a weekend I was expecting better. 10m is a band of surprises. Today the surprises were of the wrong sort!

8 Apr 2016

Grandchildren - NOT amateur radio

As we have our "London" grandchildren here for a few days, amateur radio has taken a back seat. They are still very little.

This afternoon we went into Cambridge by car and the "Park and Ride" bus.  The photo shows one of them at the Cambridge Folk Museum.

MF this evening

I have been active on 472kHz WSPR since early evening. So far results have been mediocre - see below. I shall be staying on overnight.

OFCOM Updates - NOT amateur radio

See stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/wireless-telegraphy-fees-notice-2016/?utm_source=updates&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Wireless-telegraphy-fees-notice&utm_term=Wireless Telegraphy Act Fees  DTT multiplex White space  Mobile licence products for details of some changes made by OFCOM.

UK Rallies

I have been notified of these UK rallies:

Sunday 10 APRIL : NARSA EXHIBITION (Blackpool Rally) organised by Northern Amateur Radio Societies Association, Norbreck Castle Exhibition Centre, Blackpool FY2 9AA. The venue has car parking as well as disabled facilities. There will be a talk-in station and Morse proficiency tests are also available. Highlights include trade stands, a Bring & Buy, special interest groups, and an RSGB bookstand. There is a licensed bar and catering facilities. More information from Dave, M0OBW on 01270 761 608 or by email to dwilson@btinternet.com. www.narsa.org.uk

Digby Hall, Sherborne, Dorset DT9 3AA Doors open 9.30am, admission £3. There will be traders, a Bring & Buy and club stalls, plus a programme of talks. Supported by RSGB, RAFARS & RSARS. Contact Bob Harris, by email to wjh069@gmail.com. [http://yeovil-arc.com/QRPconvention].

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

Sunspots and 10m - Fri April 8th 2016

Solar flux is 93 today (rising) and the sunspot number is 26 (K=2). The forecast for 10m propagation is again "poor". Today could be another disappointing day?

Late start on 10m WSPR today

As we have grandchildren with us, I was late starting 10m WSPR today. I eventually started just before lunchtime.

7 Apr 2016

Google changes to blog address - NOT amateur radio

To get to my blogs you may have to change the URL. See the following from Google:

Coming in late April!
All visitors will be able to view your Blogspot domain blogs over an encrypted connection by visiting https://.blogspot.com. Existing links and bookmarks to your blogs will continue to work. As part of this change, the HTTPS Availability setting will disappear, and your blogs will always have an HTTPS version.

10m short-skip

It looks like the Es season is nearly here on 10m. Today there was just one spot from OE6PWD (1232km). These are the spots so far.

RSGB and the EMC Committee

See http://rsgb.org/main/about-us/committees/electromagnetic-compatibility-committee/ .

Having just read the latest minutes, my negative views on OFCOM have been re-enforced. They seem to want to do very little about real EMC issues. I quote:

"JR reported that Ofcom had said that the WTA s54 Regulations, consulted on a year ago, would be published very soon. Although very welcome, if they only covered a narrow definition of “apparatus” in EMCD terms, that would leave a major hole in their scope. We would need to examine them carefully and consider how to respond. Ofcom were to have an article about the Regulations in RadCom. Ofcom said they were setting three conditions to act under the Regs. 

1. Harmful interference needed to be demonstrated; 
2.  All reasonable steps had to be taken to reduce/alleviate the interference at the receiver; 
3. There had to be a realistic prospect of an outcome. "

Full marks to the RSGB for continuing to challenge OFCOM.

OFCOM bureaucrats - do your jobs or go! There is zero space these days for quangos that do not add value. I have heard the arguments in support of OFCOM, but in all recent dealings with them I have not been at all impressed. Yes, they may bleat "lack of resources", but fewer bureaucrats and more engineers in the field would be a good start.

The virtues of QRP

As you know only too well, I love QRP.  No TVI, no noisy fans, low electricity bills, etc.. Yes there are times when more power helps - this I do understand. However, most contacts at QRP levels are fun, and this is something that I enjoy.

Our hobby is such that it can be enjoyed in many different ways: if you chose to run 1kW and a beam and rag-chew, that is fine by me. If you like satellites that is fine too. All I am saying is QRP is fun. Two-way QRP is even more rewarding, especially if some of the gear is home made. I like 472kHz as my transverter was designed and built by me. Details are on my website at www.g3xbm.co.uk .

Over the years I have managed well over 100 DXCC countries with QRP SSB. Others have worked far more countries than me. I hope this does not sound boastful: it is intended to encourage others.  Even in the worst years of solar cycles N--S paths are sometimes workable with QRP SSB on 10m.

If you think high power is necessary, may I invite you to turn the power down to 5W?  You may be surprised by what you can still work, even with SSB.

Sunspots and 10m - Thurs April 7th 2016

Solar flux is 88 but sunspot number is just 13 (K=1) and the forecast for 10m propagation is yet again "poor". I have been on 10m WSPR for about 30 minutes.

UPDATE 1135z:  No spots, as yet, on 10m WSPR today.

Best ever TX DX (5mW ERP) on 472kHz WSPR from this QTH

Last night, I was spotted by LA9IY (1393km) for my best ever TX DX from this QTH on 472kHz WSPR . In all, 10 different stations received me last night on 472kHz WSPR. As usual, I am still using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. Performance amazes me.

Yet again, this proves you do not need lots of power or big antennas on this band. Simple works. QRP rules!

6 Apr 2016

AM and AM Modulation

Someone suggested I put this on my blog, so here goes with a brief introduction.

My favorite method is series modulation using a transistor as the "modulation" stage. The modulated RF stage is set so the stage voltage is close to half rail. With modulation the voltage swings to close to full rail (4 times the power). This stage is followed by a linear amplifier to bring the power up to that required.  I used this in my Fredbox and Sixbox rigs without a linear. If I ever do a simple Tenbox AM rig I'd add a linear RF stage.

See Fredbox .
See Sixbox .

Don't forget that if you click on a picture or schematic on my website a larger version is usually available.

AM rigs are simple to build. I am truly surprised that these have gone out of favour in recent times. Surplus PMR AM rigs can often be found for almost nothing.  Back in the 1950s and 1960s AM was the predominant mode on HF and VHF.

There is plenty of space for AM on 10m, 6m, 4m and 2m. A decent AM rig should only occupy 6kHz or less of bandwidth.

D-star Cubesat

Southgate Amateur Radio News has a report today of a D-star transponder on a Cubesat. I ahve to admit that I am not "turned on" by these digital modes. It seems to me we are in for a standards war in the coming years. I am happy to sit this one out until the punters decide on one. System fusion, C4FM, D-star, DMR?? Others? Who cares!

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2016/april/dstar_satellite_to_launch_from_kourou.htm#.VwTc_L6LWzk.