31 Oct 2017

QSY to 630m WSPR

As of a few minutes ago, I have QSYed to 630m WSPR transceive (10mW ERP, 20%).

UPDATE 2118z: So far an average evening on 630m WSPR with my QRPP being spotted by 4 unique stations. I have managed to spot 4 uniques too.

UPDATE 2300z: Best RX DX on 630m WSPR this evening is IW4DXW (1190km).

A good God? - NOT amateur radio

As I write, my son's brother-in-law is clinging to life after suffering horrific injuries in Australia whilst a pedestrian crossing a road on green. A car struck him with the driver going through a red light whilst fiddling with her phone. He is dying.

It is hard to believe in a just God at these times. The sisters and parents are living in limbo and clearly are in a living hell. In history, the past is littered with cruelty such as the mass extermination of Jews in Europe not that long ago.

Can someone please explain to me how God is good? All the evidence is life is random and at times deeply cruel.

10m FT8 RX

Since breakfast, I have been on 10m FT8 RX. A few Europeans spotted with the best DX being UN7AB (3825km) near the Caspian Sea in Kazakhstan, presumably by F2.

UPDATE 1938z: For the first time in many weeks, 10m FT8 resulted in just Europeans and Russians - no ""real" DX. Shortly, I shall QSY to 630m WSPR.

630m WSPR overnight

Overnight I was again on 630m WSPR (10mW ERP, 20%). In all, I was spotted by 14 unique stations with best DX LA3EQ (769km) in Norway. In turn, I spotted 12 unique stations.

Sunspots - Tuesday October 31st 2017

Solar flux is 75 today and the sunspot number is 22. A=3 and K=0.

30 Oct 2017

630m WSPR

As usual, I have QSYed to MF WSPR (10mW, 20%). So far, 4 spots of my QRPP with best DX spot of my signal by PA0RDT (243km).

UPDATE 2017z: For a brief period after 2000z I tried calling CQ on 630m FT8 hoping for a 2-way QSO.  Sadly no-one heard me! Just before, I did see the trace of a weak FT8 signal. Obviously I was just too weak. I have since gone back to WSPR.

In the field

Southgate News links to a very informative video from OH8STN on operating in the field i.e. out portable away from the home QTH.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2017/october/getting-started-in-amateur-radio-field-communications.htm#.WfdYILp2vIU .

Lack of 10m DX?

Today, there has been a distinct lack of real DX on 10m FT8. Although I saw plenty of Russians and Israelis this morning, I have not (yet) seen any Africans or South Americans on 10m FT8. There is still time for this to change.

UPDATE 1640z:  Just one South American, so far: LU6HWT (11346km) in Cordoba, Argentina.

UPDATE 1652z: Maybe conditions or post CQWW blues, but definitely less activity on 10m FT8 today.

Who can you trust? - NOT amateur radio

Quite a lot of politicians and their associates across the world it seems cannot be trusted. They are in high office and should be "whiter than white". Time and again we find out they are "dodgy". I am sure some seek high office for the right reasons, but sadly not all.

I am a great believer in "innocent until proved guilty". Too many have had their good names ruined even before any offence is proven. As they say, "mud sticks".

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41804740 .

Autumn leaves - NOT amateur radio

"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" and all that. Today we went for a stroll at Brandon Country Park, Suffolk, UK. It was quiet and there were definite signs of autumn, as the photo shows.

Overnight on 630m WSPR

As usual, I went on 630m WSPR (10mW ERP, 20%) overnight. My own QRPP signal was spotted by 11 unique stations and I spotted 15 unique stations on RX. There seem to be a few more active stations on 630m WSPR.

Sunspots - Monday October 30th 2017

Solar flux is 76 and the sunspot number 23. A=4 and K=1.

10m FT8 RX

As usual, I am on 10m FT8 RX for the day. So far, 8 Russians with best DX R9CU (3878km). I presume these were F2 propagation. In addition some Gs and a PA which were either tropo or aircraft reflection. I am using the latest released version of WSPR-X V1.8.

29 Oct 2017

QSY to 630m WSPR

I've left 10m FT8 and am now on 630m WSPR transceive (10mW ERP) until breakfast tomorrow.

CQWW SSB contest

There were a few South Americans coming through on 10m SSB earlier and I worked EF8R in the Canary Is whilst using my 5W on 10m SSB. To be honest, these days my voice is not up to SSB contests, so I returned to 10m FT8 digital .

10m FT8 RX

I have been using the latest formal release of WSJT-X (v1.8) in the last few minutes. Best DX is EA3KU (1265km).

UPDATE 1254z: VK6XN (14463km) is currently the best 10m FT8 RX DX. So far, 4 continents spotted on 10m FT8 today.

UPDATE 1605z: 5 South Americans now spotted on 10m FT8. 5 continents spotted on 10m FT8 today so far.

Sunspots - Sunday October 29th 2017

Solar flux is 76 today and the sunspot number 23.  A=6 and K=1.

WSJT-X V1.8 now properly released

For some time various release candidate versions have crept out, but V1.8 is now formally released. I have just got this for my Windows 10 shack PC.

See http://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/wsjtx.html

Be sure to get V1.8 and not V1.7.

28 Oct 2017

4m (70MHz) allocations

It is some years since I last tried 4m using my homebrew transverter and a wire dipole in the loft. Since those days many more countries are on the band. I imagine working Es DX in the summer is quite fun on the band.  The IC7300 even has 4m coverage.

I am not up to date with which countries have 4m, but I seem to recall a CEPT move to allow national organisations like OFCOM to allocate (part of) 4m to amateurs.

With the lower VHF bands being less popular with commercial users (big antennas on portables and Es interference), the chances of more countries allocating 4m to amateurs must increase.

In the USA the FCC might even allocate the band - well, by the 22nd century!

See http://www.70mhz.org/ .

QSY to 630m WSPR transceive (10mW ERP)

A few moments ago I QSYed from 10m FT8 RX to 630m WSPR transceive. My first transmission got spots from 4 unique stations even though the transverter crystal was still drifting. Encouraging. Best DX was F5WK (364km).

UPDATE 1954z: LA3EQ is active and has spotted me before this autumn. Let's hope he stops on until the middle of the night and spots me again. With the earth-electrode "antenna" my best DX on TX was over 1000km. It would be good to better this this season.

UPDATE 2045z: Now 6 unique stations have spotted me and I have spotted 12 unique stations so far this evening on 630m WSPR. EA5DOM was regularly spotted here on 630m WSPR earlier this season and was always a good signal with me, although I have not spotted him recently. Either he is using a different mode or a different band.

Parkin making - NOT amateur radio

The picture shows our younger grandson (8) in our kitchen making parkin with my wife. He was really keen, eating much of the first lot.

See https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1940684/parkin .

CQWW Contest and 10m FT8

Looking this afternoon on 10m SSB, I heard nothing at all, whereas 20m was very busy with contest stations. I'll look again tomorrow.

Sorry, but I have no interest in contest exchanges on 20m SSB. In the meantime, I have gone back to 10m FT8 RX.  Perhaps all the keen 10m operators have moved to FT8?

UPDATE 1534z: So, most think 10m is dead and have moved to lower bands for the CQWW SSB contest. Meanwhile, plenty of DX on 10m FT8 as the photo shows.

UPDATE 1558z: More South Americans and best 10m FT8 DX (currently) LU7DAF (11197km).

Gove - NOT amateur radio

He is a satirist's dream. This UK politician has (allegedly) put his foot in it again.

For some reason, I always think of him with a school cap and school satchel. I am sure he is really an astute politician.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41787710

Dad's seat - NOT amateur radio

My dad died in 1987. In his last years, he worked for the National Trust running a job creation scheme with young people maintaining the South West Coastal Path.

He loved this part of Devon and when he died they erected a couple of seats in his honour.

This picture was taken a few years ago and shows me sitting on one of them on Bolberry Down.

10m FT8 RX

Although I am on 10m FT8 RX at present with best DX RA6HN (3245km), I intend to go on 10m SSB later in the CQWW contest. As my voice is poor, this will probably just be short periods today and tomorrow.

UPDATE 1348z:  Best DX on 10m FT8 RX today is ZS2I (9845km) in South Africa. A 5 minute TX period by me at 2.5W got no spots!

Sunspots - Saturday October 28th 2017

Solar flux is 75 today and the sunspot number 23. A=5 and K=2.

27 Oct 2017

QSY to 10m FT8 RX

After a day on 6m, I have switched to 10m FT8 and will be on overnight. If there is any early 10m FT8 DX, I have a chance of spotting it.

6m produced just a single DX spot from northern Spain, although several Gs were spotted on 6m FT8 at quite decent ranges.


Just in case you missed my earlier reminder, this weekend is the CQWW SSB contest. Although I am unable to join in as I once could, this is always a chance to work some new countries, even if you do not submit a score - I never have. Funny how bands which seemed "dead" come alive.

Catalans declare independence from Spain - NOT amateur radio

Although I have not yet checked the Euro, the declaration of independence from Spain of Catalonia is likely to spark a crisis. Catalonia now, Basques later?

Spain is in deep trouble.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-41780116 .

FT8 - the "new" digital mode?

So far, I have used FT8 on 630m, 10m and 6m. It is very quickly becoming the de facto digital mode allowing quick exchanges of basic QSO data whilst still using very little spectrum. It is not really a mode for chatting.  It seems to have transformed 10m. Spots on 10m have amazed me.

Complete QSOs can be completed in a very short time. As far as I know, unless things have changed in the last few days, it is still a "release candidate" rather than a formal release. At the moment I am still using rc2 although rc3 is available.

See https://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/wsjtx.html .

Proper food (pasties) - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday we went to Norwich with our son and grandson. We went by train. I was pleased to see real food (pasties) on sale in the station!

6m FT8 RX

After a period on 10m FT8, I have switched to 6m FT8 for a change this morning. As yet, no spots.

UPDATE 1312z: Best DX today on 6m FT8 is EA2DLX (1025km) in northern Spain.

Sunspots - Friday October 27th 2017

Solar flux is 76 today. Sunspot number is 23. A=20 and K=1.

26 Oct 2017

Sunspots - Thursday October 26th 2017

Solar flux is 77 today and the sunspot number 24. A=24 and K=4.

10m FT8 RX - Thursday, October 26th 2017

Well, there is little doubt that FT8 has transformed 10m. Looking at the map of spots for today on 10m, you could be excused for thinking this was sunspot maximum rather than way on the downward slope to the next minimum. Best DX today was VK8NSB (13800km) in Northern Territory, Australia.

OFCOM and spectrum at 3.6GHz

OFCOM has issued a statement about 3.6GHz spectrum.

See http://ofcom.cmail20.com/t/ViewEmail/i/C2AD8437ED18A39A2540EF23F30FEDED/59D1BD3EA2F08127C67FD2F38AC4859C

25 Oct 2017

Trinity College, Cambridge - NOT amateur radio

Living very close to Cambridge, it is very easy to take some wonderful places for granted. This is a picture of the entrance to Trinity College. There is a proctor in the photo complete with bowler hat (bottom left in the shadows). As a local we get free entry into the colleges, which some cross the world to see. With bus passes these are totally free. What a privilege.

630m transformer

When I moved to the "new" QTH 4 years ago I found I needed a step-up transformer to match my 630m transverter to the earth-electrode "antenna". For this I used my traditional method - try it and see what works.

An auto-transformer was wound on a 3C90 42mm toroid core (at least I think that is what it was). It worked and seems to give a decent match.

Of late, I have used the coax up to my 2m big-wheel antenna as a Marconi, tuned against ground with a ferrite rod ATU. So far, best DX is Norway (769km) with 31 unique spots of my 10mW ERP.

10m FT8

Amazing again!  Already loads of Europeans copied and 5 continents spotted on 10m FT8 RX when the sunspot count is low. FT8 - pure magic! This proves it is often a lack of activity rather than conditions on 10m. With FT8 all users are in a narrow slot, which helps.

UPDATE 1746z: 65 countries spotted in the last week on 10m FT8. No North Americans today so far.
10m FT8 RX today - dead?
UPDATE 2138z:  I've been on 630m WSPR for some hours now. When I left 10m FT8, there were still loads of South Americans coming through. And to think 10m is meant to be "dead".

Sunspots - Wednesday October 25th 2017

Solar flux is 77 today and the sunspot number is 23. A=18 and K=4.

24 Oct 2017

Late night on 10m FT8 RX

For a change, I decided not to switch to 630m WSPR, but stick instead on 10m FT8 RX. I shall be on overnight, so that I am on very early in the morning. XE1XJB (8919km) in Mexico was spotted quite late.

OFCOM and mobile radio repeaters

See http://ofcom.cmail19.com/t/ViewEmail/i/76988C81CE021D152540EF23F30FEDED/59D1BD3EA2F08127C67FD2F38AC4859C

10m FT8

So far today only 3 continents on 10m FT8. Best 10m FT8 DX, so far, is F5MYK/MM (9767km) near Mauritius.

UPDATE 1712z: With 16 unique stations spotted in North America today and loads in South America, today is again a great day on 10m FT8, proving that a lack of activity on 10m is often the problem rather than poor conditions.

Sunspots - Tuesday October 24th 2017

Solar flux is 77 today and the sunspot number is 23. A=6 and K=2.

Overnight on 630m WSPR

In the last day my 10mW ERP was spotted by 12 unique stations and I spotted 12 unique stations.  In all, 31 unique stations have spotted my QRPP over the last two weeks.

CQWW SSB Contest

A reminder that the BIG one is next weekend. Before my stroke I used to fill pages of my logbooks with 10m SSB contest exchanges. Nowadays my voice is not too good, so I tend to be on far less. This is a good chance to work new countries. I have yet to send in an entry!

Best days for QRP tends to be Sunday as most "big guns" have worked lots by then and are scraping around for points.

See https://www.cqww.com/

23 Oct 2017

630m WSPR transceive

Currently, I am on 630m WSPR transceive. I shall be on this evening and overnight with 10mW ERP.

UPDATE 1846z:  A new one tonight: M0NKA (154km) in IO92ak spotted my QRPP signal.

SAQ VLF transmission tomorrow?

It looks like there is a VLF CW transmission on 17.2kHz tomorrow.

See http://alexander.n.se/seek-you-for-peace/?lang=en

OFCOM and licence exempt wideband devices

OFCOM and licence exempt shot range wideband devices:

See http://ofcom.cmail20.com/t/ViewEmail/i/1EF53AF183CB51C82540EF23F30FEDED/59D1BD3EA2F08127C67FD2F38AC4859C

Overnight on 630m WSPR transceive

Overnight I was again on 630m (10mW ERP, 20%). In all, I was spotted by 11 unique stations and I spotted 15 uniques with IW4DXW (1190km) my best DX and G3KEV the strongest.

Sunspots - Monday October 23rd 2017

Solar flux is 76 and sunspot number 13. A=6 and K=2.

10m FT8 RX - Monday Oct 23rd 2017

I have been on 10m FT8 RX most of the morning and, yet again, it is good with best DX being VK9VKL (11970km) on Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean. Other spots this morning include all over Europe and 3B8CW (9751km) on Mauritius. I expect we will see South Africa and South America later.

UPDATE 1044z: ZS2ZA (9895km) now being spotted here. FT8 really is magic.

UPDATE 1625z: Yet again, 6 continents spotted on 10m FT8 today, with hardly any sunspots.

UPDATE 1658z: About 5 minutes ago, I went QRT on 10m. Now I am on 630m WSPR transceive (10mW ERP, 20% TX).

22 Oct 2017

Grandchildren - NOT amateur radio

As mentioned yesterday, at the moment, amateur radio is having to take a back seat as we have 3 (of our 4) grandchildren staying together with one of our sons. We love having them, but these days I get tired.

10m conditions - don't believe what others say!

Someone once said, "10m is absolutely dead!", to which I reply, "really?" These were the stations spotted so far on 10m FT8 today. The sunspot count is 11. Previous days have been even better and the sunspot number zero. Never give up on 10m. My recommendation is try FT8 instead.

UPDATE 2046z:  Quite a few hours ago I switched to 630m WSPR transceive (10mW ERP, 20% TX) but after another very successful day on 10m FT8 RX.  Another day with 6 continents spotted including loads of South Americas, but just one 1 North American. I  am convinced FT8 is doing great things: many stations are active in a small window, so chances of being spotted go up.

Mugabe loses WHO role - NOT amateur radio

Unsurprisingly, there was widespread condemnation of the World Health Organisation making Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe their goodwill ambassador. This appointment has now been revoked.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-41713919 .

Terahertz bands

Southgate News reports on a SARL report about terahertz amateur radio. Whilst a dedicated bunch have explored optical and infra-red frequencies few have tried the bands above 100GHz. I guess the reason is gear and test-gear are difficult. At optical frequencies, I found gear and test-gear easy. Apparently terahertz spectrum is being allocated at the 2019 WRC. This was news to me.

My apologies for referring to tetrahertz frequencies earlier. Now corrected. Shades of my work life long ago!

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2017/october/the-terahertz-spectrum.htm#.Wex7krpFzIU .

10m FT8 (late!)

Rather later than usual, I have switched to 10m FT8 RX. My first impression is that there is a lot of activity on 10m FT8.

UPDATE 1036z: Lots of activity again on 10m FT8. Best DX so far on 10m FT8 RX is YB0MWM (11711km) in Western Java, Indonesia.

UPDATE 1100z: Best 10m FT8 RX DX spotted now VK9VKL (11970km) on Christmas Island.

UPDATE 1508z: Several stations in South Africa and South America and one in Canada this afternoon. Best DX spotted her this afternoon on 10m FT8 is LU3HTS (11258km) to the west of Cordoba.

Devon - NOT amateur radio

Whilst looking through some old photos, I cam across this one of South Devon where I was born and brought up. God's own country!

630m WSPR overnight

Last night I was on 630m WSPR (10mW ERP, 20%). I was spotted by 12 unique stations with best DX a spot by LA3EQ (769km) and I spotted 13 unique stations.

Sunspots - Sunday October 22nd 2017

Solar flux is 78 and there are sunspots! Sunspot number is 11. A=10 and K=3.

21 Oct 2017

FCC and outmoded regulations

Southgate News reports that the FCC is continuing with the removal of outmoded regulations.

"eliminating unnecessary rule provisions, and making the agency as efficient and effective as possible"

Well, that should be pretty easy.

Does this mean they might be quicker in future releasing LF and MF amateur bands? You have to admit that they are definitely not fast! They are the laughing stock of the rest of the world.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2017/october/fcc-scraps-telegraph-regulations.htm#.WeuujbpFzIU

Grandchildren - NOT amateur radio

For the next few days we have 3 of our 4 grandchildren staying with us. The picture shows them having tea together in our kitchen.  The wine is not theirs!

Now on 630m WSPR

For the last 20 minutes or so, I have been on 630m WSPR (10mW ERP, 20%)   Quite decent conditions.

Driving and mobile phones - NOT amateur radio

Whilst driving along yesterday I narrowly missed being hit by a car driven by a young girl who seemed to be texting.

My son's 28 year old brother-in-law was struck by a car several weeks ago. He has a brain injury, many broken bones and is still unconscious in an Australian hospital. He is fighting for his life. At the time he was a pedestrian crossing on green. The driver (busy on her phone I think) went through a red light and just ploughed him down. His family, his girlfriend and her will be affected for life.

So, PUT YOUR MOBILE PHONE AWAY WHEN DRIVING. People can wait. Concentrate on driving!!

630m WSPR overnight

Overnight, my 10mW ERP was copied by 8 unique stations. In turn, I copied 9 unique 630m WSPR stations here with best DX DH5RAE (995km). No LAs last night sadly.

10m FT8 RX

Well I thought yesterday was good on 10m FT8 RX, but today has started even better. Already, Indonesia, Namibia, Thailand and lots besides copied. Amazing. Again the sunspot number is zero.

UPDATE 0948z:  Best 10m FT8 RX DX today is VK6HV (13600km) in Australia. No sunspots!

UPDATE 1152z: Yes today 10m FT8 is even better than yesterday! PV8DC (7830km) in the north of Brazil was spotted at 1132z.

Sunspots - Saturday October 21st 2017

Solar flux is 75 today and the sunspot number still zero. A=8 and K=2.

20 Oct 2017

630m this evening

After a great day on 10m FT8 RX, I returned to 630m WSPR transceive earlier this evening.

As on previous nights more people are spotting me than I am spotting. Either this tells me my RX is deaf (true) or my TX ERP is competing with many others transmitting on 630m WSPR.

Sadly, it is the former as I know my FT817 RX is deaf on 630m and I could do more to reduce the noise floor. Signals need to be quite reasonable to "beat" my noise floor. Last year the noise floor was much lower - I was lucky.

ICOM IC9700 (VHF/UHF/23cms)

This rig was announced in Japan in September. It will replace the IC910 and cover 2m, 70cm and 23cm. I have no idea about price. It looks like the same architecture as the IC7300. At the right price this looks an attractive radio, but I expect it will be too expensive. MLS is already taking £100 deposits.

How to look a total ..... - NOT amateur radio

It pays to arm yourself with facts before tweeting.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41695667

Another rally in the UK

The Volunteer Hall, Galashiels TD1 3JX

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

630m WSPR overnight

You may remember that I found the 2 radials across the lawn and an additional local ground made no difference and may have made my ERP lower. This surprised me.

Last night my 10mW ERP was spotted by 11 unique stations on 630m WSPR with best DX a spot from LA3EQ/MW (769km) and I spotted 10 unique stations on 630m WSPR.  This is, I think, the first time more stations spotted me than I spotted others.

Sunspots - Friday October 20th 2017

Solar flux is 74 today. Sunspot number is again zero. A=12  and K=2.

10m FT8 RX

After overnight on 630m WSPR transceive, I am again on 10m FT8 RX. Best DX spotted is 4Z5ML (3571km) in Israel. I assume this is F2 propagation. F1DLZ (362km) also copied in northern France which might be aircraft reflection.

I am still using WSJT-X V1.8.0 rc2. I really must upgrade later.

UPDATE 1105z: Lots of 10m Europeans and lots of DX on 10m FT8 today, despite a sunspot count of zero again. As they say, "FT8 cuts the mustard". Very impressive.

UPDATE 1312z:  Now spotting Mauritius - 3B8CW (9751km). Today has been a very good day on 10m FT8. I expect South Africa next, then South America.

UPDATE 1428z: There is no doubt that today is the very best day on 10m FT8 this autumn. So far, 9 North Americans spotted here as well as every continent except Antarctica.

UPDATE 1716z: Best DX today on 10m FT8 was LU8XAF (13413km) in southern Argentina.

19 Oct 2017

Moved to 630m WSPR

In the last 30 minutes I have moved from 10m FT8 RX to 630m WSPR transceive (10mW ERP). Quite a few spots of my signal on each transmission.

10m FT8 today

Already, I have spotted stations in 5 continents on 10m FT8 today: Australasia, Asia, Africa, Europe and South America. This with a low end-fed wire antenna - no big towers and beams here, HI.  I suspect there will be a few more South Americans in the next few hours. And all this is on a day with zero sunspots and when 10m is supposed to be "dead".

At the moment I am still using WSJT-X V1.8.0 rc2. There is a later version (rc3) too that I must download and use.

Many desert 10m. Stick with it, as you may be very surprised.

This autumn, 6 continents have been spotted on 10m FT8. A great band and FT8 is proving to be a great mode.

Catalonia - NOT amateur radio

Catalonia is quite a rich part of Spain. Spain cannot afford for it to break-away. It is hard to see how the EU would handle this. If Catalonia goes, surely the Basques will want to follow? This would leave Spain in a right mess. By comparison, BREXIT is quite simple and clear. Personally, I think this will grow into the EU crisis of 2018.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-41678086 .

My memory - NOT amateur radio

I mentioned earlier that I go to a series of lectures on Samuel Pepys in Cambridge each Wednesday. So far, there have been 2. Let me recount an odd story.

The first talk was Wednesday last week. I travelled into Cambridge on the service bus that leaves at 9.49am. This should arrive at about 10.43am. It is a 10 minute walk from where the bus stops to where they hold the lectures. The lectures are from 11am -12noon.

In my mind I have a very clear picture of being the very first there and helping to set out chairs and the main table. I sat at the same spot yesterday, furthermost from the door. This memory is very, very, clear. However, to get in very early would have been impossible using this bus. I would have arrived shortly before the lecture started. I have absolutely no memory of arriving "just in time". I am still deeply puzzled: was this a dream? Only if I suddenly have a flash-back will this mystery be solved. In the meantime, I cannot be sure what is a dream and what is reality!

Some would say, "old age". Others might say, "your stroke". The truth is I just do not know what happened a week ago.

Rallies this Sunday

Downshire Community School, Downshire Rd, Carrickfergus BT38 7DA. Doors open 11am and admission is £3. Light refreshments will be available. All will be welcome. Details from Elizabeth Forde, elizabethforde64@yahoo.com

Sparkford Village Hall, Sparkford, Nr Yeovil, Somerset BA22 7ED Free admission and light refreshments. Displays, computer controlled radio, SDR, Morse, Spy sets. Ex Members welcome. Bob on 01963 440 167

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

Autumn - NOT amateur radio

You can tell it's autumn! This was our nearest garden centre this morning.

At the other garden centre they had lots of Christmas things on sale. Well, it is October and profits are profits. Personally I think Christmas things should only be allowed for sale in December, but I am a grumpy old man!

Rain - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday it rained.

This is a view of Rose Crescent, Cambridge, looking towards the Market Square. If it rains in Cambridge, we are quite unlucky as rainy days are quite rare. We get them, but it rains far less in the SE of the UK than in the west.

10m FT8

Since breakfast, I have been on 10m FT8. As yet, no spots.

UPDATE 1124z: Several DX stations to the east spotted on 10m FT8 including VK9VKL (11970km) on Christmas Island. He appears to have been widely spotted, so he looks genuine. This is my first VK this autumn.

Food - NOT amateur radio

Every Tuesday and Wednesday I travel into Cambridge for University of the Third Age lectures.

On Tuesdays it is, "Weather and Climate" and on Wednesdays, "Samuel Pepys". We are very lucky in Cambridge having a huge variety of courses.

Afterwards, my wife joined me for lunch.

630m WSPR overnight

Spots of my 10mW 630m WSPR overnight
For last night's test I removed the radials across the lawn (2) and a local ground quite close to the shack. If anything results were better! On TX I was spotted by 9 unique stations (10mW ERP) and on RX I spotted 12 unique stations. I was spotted in Wales for the first time this autumn on 630m and G0KTN was another new one this season. My conclusion is, in my case, the radials made no difference and actually may have made things worse. I guess this says my ground is actually more effective than I thought. The actual antenna needs improving if I am to up my ERP.

Sunspots - Thursday October 19th 2017

Solar flux is 72 today and the sunspot number zero.  A=5 and K=3.

18 Oct 2017

Now on 630m WSPR (no radials)

At 1750z, I switched to 630m without my radials and additional ground outside of the shack. Antenna current is the same.

UPDATE 1804z: Initial indications are that the radials made no difference at all. This suggests my ground connection was already pretty good and that only a better antenna would make a real difference to my ERP.

Switched to 10m FT8 RX

A few minutes ago, I switched from 10m WSPR TX to 10m FT8 RX. As yet, no spots. Later, I shall go onto 630m WSPR having removed the radials and additional ground, that were of questionable benefit.

UPDATE 1750z:  No spots. Now switched to 630m WSPR.

UK pound versus euro exchange rate - NOT amateur radio

Some time ago I predicted that the pound would appreciate against the euro before the year end. Well, it is mid October and, if anything, it is losing value! I guess BREXIT uncertainty is the main reason. Fundamentally, the euro still has issues, although I think my end of year may be out.

10m WSPR

As the 10m antenna was not being used, I have been on 10m WSPR TX (500mW) since just after breakfast. OZ9QV (864km) is the only spot so far. This was at 1322z.

630m WSPR - not convinced of improvements

Overnight, I was on 630m WSPR (10mW ERP). In all, I gave out spots to 12 unique stations and received spots from 6 unique stations. I am not convinced that adding my 2 radials across the lawn and an additional earth near the shack has made any improvements. This suggests my mains ground is actually quite good.

6m FT8 RX

Since breakfast, I have been in 6m FT8 RX again. No spots as yet. Yesterday surprised me with several UK spots plus a German on 6m.

UPDATE 1542z: No 6m spots all day.

Sunspots - Wednesday October 18th 2017

Solar flux is 72 today and the sunspot number again zero. A=6 and K=2.

17 Oct 2017

Back on 630m WSPR

About 5 minutes ago I returned to 630m WSPR. My ERP is about 10mW. I am interested to know if my extra earth and radials help. Last night was inconclusive.

UPDATE 2122z: Well, things are still inconclusive! I am getting a similar number of spots of my 630m WSPR signal as I am giving out. What does that tell me?

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

About 30 minutes ago I turned on the 500mW 10m WSPR beacon. As yet, no spots.

UPDATE 1304z: Still no spots.

6m FT8

A few minutes ago, I switched to 6m FT8. As the 10m antenna is unused, I may go on 10m WSPR TX at the same time.

UPDATE 1002z: No spots.

UPDATE 1300z: 3 UK spots so far on 6m FT8.  Best DX is MW0LGE (229km) in South Wales. By the way, this is with WSJT-X V1.8.0 rc2 and a V2000 vertical omni.

UPDATE 1750z: Best 6m FT8 DX today is DK1QG (645km) near the Danish border.

Sunspots - Tuesday October 17th 2017

Solar flux is 70 today and the sunspot number remains 12.  A=9 and K=2.

10m FT8 RX and FT8 rc3

As usual, I switched to 10m FT8 RX at breakfast. No spots as yet. Apparently WSJT-X v1.8.0 rc2 has been out for a month and now rc3 is available. There may be a proper release of V1.8 as early as next week. K1JT has been busy with neutron stars!

I may try 6m FT8 RX later. 10m FT8 seems to work a dream.

Last night on 630m WSPR

Overnight I was keen to see if the addition of 2 radials and an additional ground outside the shack improved my results on 630m WSPR. Well, I am not sure. Overall I got spots from 10 unique stations (my highest yet) and I spotted 10 unique stations. Clearly some new stations copied me, but I am not sure if this is my system or just that they have recently returned to 630m. Certainly my reports of "regulars" on RX seem no better. At the moment, I am doubtful of any improvement, although it needs a few more nights to get a better picture.

16 Oct 2017

630m "improvements"

My 630m radiating system has been altered with a couple of radials across the grass and an additional ground outside the shack. Measured antenna current is no higher, which surprised me. This evening and overnight we'll see if there are any improvements in reality.

USA on 10m FT8

Not long ago, WB2REM (7017km) in Florida was spotted on 10m FT8. There are South Americans and the Falkland Is coming through. Earlier Burkina Faso and South Africa were spotted on 10m FT8.

630m WSPR overnight

The big question for me was, "did the additional earth make any difference?". Well, with 6 spots of my QRPP 630m WSPR I think the answer is, " yes probably". It may have only raised the ERP a dB or so, but this could be the difference between being detected and not.

The next thing to try is some better grounds near the shack and some radials down the garden that can be rolled up when grass cutting.

UPDATE 1220z: 13 unique stations spotted on 630m WSPR last night.

10m FT8

Since breakfast, I have been on 10m FT8 RX. So far, the only spot was of PA0O (440km) near Groningen about 30 minutes ago. Aircraft reflection?

UPDATE 1210z: Lots of Europeans spotted on 10m FT8 rc2. I am told that WSJT-X V1.8.0 rc3 will be available soon.

UPDATE 1246z:  At the last count, 20 unique Europeans spotted on 10m FT8. This mode really is good.

UPDATE 1327z: XT2AW (4446km) in Burkina Faso (W.Africa) is currently the most distant station spotted today on 10m FT8. I have lost count of the Europeans! Maybe tomorrow I should give 6m a go on FT8?

UPDATE 1356z: Now the best DX is ZS2CR (9893km) in S.Africa.

Sunspots - Monday October 16th 2017

At last some sunspots!

Solar flux is 70 and the sunspot number 12. A=26 and K=3.

15 Oct 2017

Switched to 630m WSPR

Even though 10m FT8 is still good, I have switched to 630m WSPR. So far just G4GIR (53km) spotted at -14dB S/N. I am keen to see if I can see any differences since I changed the grounding.

UPDATE  1838z:  Initial indications are things are better. Already I have had 4 unique spots of my QRPP 630m WSPR signal.

630m ground improvements

Just before lunch I made a "temporary" fix to my earth-electrode "antenna". I have still to solder the joints. My secondary antenna current went from 17uA to 22uA. It remains to be seen if this makes any difference in real use. I'll try it tonight.

UPDATE 1304z:  I have now soldered the joints, so the repair is permanent.

UPDATE  1530z: Any slight improvement might be seen tonight. I am not expecting much.

North America (and more) on 10m FT8

A few minutes ago VO1NE (3898km) was spotted on 10m FT8. This is my first North American spotted on 10m this autumn. WSJT-X V1.8.0 rc2 was loaded this morning.

UPDATE 1238z: Not sure if WSJT-X V1.8.0 rc2 made a difference, but lots of 10m FT8 spots from Europe. It is supposed to be more sensitive.

UPDATE 1305z: I notice a spot from an FR5 that was not uploaded to PSK Reporter Maps.

UPDAT.E 1358z: First South American on 10m FT8 today was PY5JAP (9903km) a few minutes ago.

UPDATE 1532z: 14 South Americans spotted on 10m FT8 so far.

UPDATE 1712z: Now over 30 unique 10m FT8 spots of South Americans.

UPDATE 1830z: 41 unique 10m FT8 spots of South Americans today when I went QRT on 10m.

630m WSPR overnight

In all 3 unique stations copied my QRPP WSPR signal (about 10mW ERP) overnight.

I managed to spot 10 unique stations including a couple of LAs. Best DX spotted overnight on 630m WSPR was IW4DXW (1190km).

Sunspots - Sunday October 15th 2017

Solar flux is 68 today and the sunspot number remains zero. A= 31 and K=5.

14 Oct 2017

Back on 630m WSPR

Even though 10m FT8 was still in great shape, I decided to QSY to 60m WSPR transceive for the evening and overnight (20%TX. 10mW ERP).

UPDATE 2044z: So far this evening, 6 unique stations spotted on 630m WSPR, but no spots of my signal yet.

UPDATE 2112z: Still 6 unique stations spotted on 630m WSPR, but no spots of my signal yet. Best DX on 630m WSPR RX remains LA8AV (1035km). I am wondering if the rising noise floor is becoming a real issue copying weaker signals in the UK and rest of Europe for many stations? Perhaps those that manage to spot my QRRP signal only do so when the noise floor drops or if they are fortunate to live in a very quiet area?

UPDATE 2156z: Now spotted 8 unique stations so far this evening on 630m WSPR, but still no spots of my signal. I shall be on overnight.

Mending my 630m earth-electrode "antenna"

630m transverter
Back in the spring, my brother managed to cut my 630m earth-electrode "antenna" whilst staking a tree for me. I have not got around to repairing it. If the weather is good tomorrow, I might get the extension lead and soldering iron out in the garden and try to mend it. I could use it as an "antenna" or as a ground for my current vertical Marconi (very poor!) to see if it raises the ERP a bit.

I noticed that the coax to my 2m big-wheel (used as a Marconi via an ATU on 630m) is barely 0.5m above the ground for half its length, so I am surprised it radiates anything, especially with just a mains plug earth.

630m ATU
If you want to see 630m on a shoestring, look at this setup! There should be 2 pictures attached showing (1) my transverter and (2) ferrite rod ATU.

South America (again) on 10m FT8

10m FT8 is still good, despite the sunspot number again being zero. A few minutes ago, the first South American today was spotted in the form of LU5DF (11508km) in Argentina. I expect there will soon be others. Today, I have spotted stations in Europe, Africa and South America on 10m FT8. Some say the band is "dead". Dig! FT8 seems to be showing openings that in the past would have been missed.

UPDATE 1541z: Now 6 South Americans spotted on 10m FT8 this afternoon.

UPDATE 1630z: Now 12 South Americans spotted on 10m FT8 today.

UPDATE 1717z: Now 18 different South Americans spotted today on 10m FT8. Great band, great mode.

UPDATE 1910z: With 30 unique South American stations spotted today on 10m FT8, this feels like the best day on 10m this autumn.

Squirrel at Ickworth - NOT amateur radio

We are due to get the remnants of a hurricane early next week, but at the moment it is dragging up very warm air from the Azores and Spain. This squirrel was making the most of the mild, warm air.

630m WSPR overnight

Last night was disappointing with just 1 station spotting me. Thank you to M0DSZ (232km) for spotting me. In all, 9 unique stations were spotted here on 630m WSPR.

Trying to get you to buy new? - NOT amateur radio

For some years I have owned an Apple iPod Touch 4g. It runs iOS V6.1.6 and this software is fully up to date for this particular device. I checked only a few hours ago.

Recently, FaceBook is even slower to connect than normal, even though it is almost instant on the PC. It is almost as if Apple is forcing an upgrade. Now, I am not saying this is the case, although that is how it makes me feel.  If software only works properly with a newer OS, which I can only get for newer devices, I think this is wrong.

It seems bizarre that I can no longer get reliable connection (if at all) on my device that has given me good service for years. And, yes, I have tried the old trick of turning the device fully off, then on.

10m FT8 RX

It is very early, but nothing spotted here on 10m FT8, even though I have been on for over an hour.

UPDATE 1308z: Lots of spots of stations on 10m FT8 RX.  Best DX currently is XT2AW (4446km) in Burkina Faso.

UPDATE 1422z: Now V51B (9125km) in Namibia is the best DX copied today.

Sunspots - Saturday October 14th 2017

Solar flux is 68 today and the sunspot number zero. A=42 and K=4.

13 Oct 2017

US President: anyone know his IQ?? - NOT amateur radio

Just wondering - does anyone know President Donald Trump's IQ? To  become president of the USA takes some doing, so he can't be stupid.

QSY to 630m WSPR

At 1920z I QSYed from 10m FT8 RX to 630m WSPR transceive (20% TX, 10mW ERP). No spots given or received as yet. Probably be on 630m overnight. So far this season, 8 unique stations have spotted my QRPP signal on 630m WSPR.

UPDATE 1950z:  G0MRF (103km) and DH5RAE (995km) copied so far. No spots of me yet!

UPDATE 2050z:  Stations spotted so far tonight on 630m WSPR. For several nights now LA3EQ (769km) has spotted me later. LA8AV is a consistent signal with me.

Windmill at sunset - NOT amateur radio

As I have said many times, we live next door to a 200 year old, fully restored, 4 sail windmill. It always looks good, but last night it was spectacular bathed in the dying rays of the sun. The scene was darker than the photo suggests.

Shield bug - NOT amateur radio

When the frosts and winds come we'll soon forget that it is mid-October and it was so warm that we had a cup of tea in the garden in our shirt sleeves.

This weekend some places in the UK could reach 24 deg C, which is very high for mid-October. Strangely, many trees are losing their leaves, which is early.

Whilst cutting the grass I came across this beetle. I think it is a shield bug. It was about 1cm long and mainly green. It flew off shortly after this photo.

See https://www.britishbugs.org.uk/gallery/heteroptera/Pentatomoidea/pentatomoidea.html

630m WSPR again overnight

Last evening and overnight I was on 630m WSPR again, transmitting 20% of the time. Yet again my unbelievably poor set-up got spots in several Western European nations with the best again being LA3EQ (769km) up in Norway. I will repair my earth-electrode "antenna" and try this as an extra ground in the hope of raising my ERP. At present my ERP is about 10mW.

10m FT8 RX

Having been on 10m FT8 RX since breakfast, I have spotted 3 countries (4 stations) so far, namely G, DL and SP. Best DX is currently SP6BPY (1159km).

UPDATE 1625z: Quite a few South Americans being spotted here now on 10m FT8.

UPDATE 1704z: Even more South Americans spotted  on 10m FT8 including VP8LP (12720km) in the Falkland Islands.

Rallies this weekend

Holsworthy ARC Holsworthy Community College, Victoria Hill, Holsworthy, Devon EX22 6JD Free car parking on site with disabled access. there will be trade stands and a Bring & Buy.
Catering is available on site. Howard, M0MYB by email to holsworthyarc@gmail.com

Floral Hall, 7 The Esplanade, Hornsea HU18 1NQ There is car parking at the venue. Doors open at 10am and admission is £2 with under 14s free. There will be trade stands, a Bring & Buy, special interest groups and an RSGB bookstand. A raffle will take place. There is catering on site. Details from Rick, M0CZR, 01964 533712 or by email to R106221@aol.com

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

Sunspots - Friday October 13th 2017

Solar flux is 69 today and the sunspot number still zero. A=29 and K=5.

12 Oct 2017

630m WSPR TX

Well, it helps TX if you enable TX!! I did not have this enabled, so was wondering why I was getting no spots!

First 630m WSPR spot was by PA0EHG (296km). I'll leave the TX at 20% through the night. ERP is around 10mW.

Quite a few of the regulars spotted on 630m WSPR RX.

MLS blunder?

The latest RadCom has an MLS advert for a 5W HF SDR transceiver from MyDel. If you read the ad (scroll down) it looks like MLS may have made a booby! The price looked very good. I suspect this was a Chinese transceiver judging by the price. It looks like the Chinese copied the design, which was not copyrighted, allegedly. I hope this ends in a good outcome for all parties.

See https://www.hamradio.co.uk/sdr-mydel/mydel/mydel-rs-918-compact-sdr-transceiver-pd-8208.php

10m FT8 RX

Spots of stations in England, Italy and Solvenia so far on 10m FT8. This is still with the rc1 WSJT-x software.

UPDATE 1120z: So far this morning I have spotted 15 different stations, right across Europe plus Israel on 10m FT8. This is making me wonder. Are there lots of short 10m openings that we'd miss on SSB or CW? Certainly FT8 seems to find them. It is mid-October, yet there is plenty on 10m FT8. And the sunspot number has been zero for days! All this goes to prove that 10m is often much better than a casual look might lead you to believe. FT8 does seem to be magic, and just what we need!

UPDATE 1555z: 10m FT8 RX has been good today.
UPDATE 2115z: Well I have just got in and switched to 630m WSPR transceive. 10m FT8 was good today with 4 continents spotted and the sunspot number is still zero!

Sunspots - Thursday October 12th 2017

Solar flux is 70 today and the sunspot number is still zero. A=30 and K=4.

630m WSPR overnight (again)

ATU for 630m
I was again transmitting on 630m WSPR yesterday evening and overnight. As well as spots by  G3KEV (232km) I was also spotted by LA3EQ (769km) up in Norway 6 times.

Yesterday, I calculated my ERP based on certain assumptions about effective antenna height and the measured antenna current. I'll post this separately. It is certainly low milliwatts!

The second photo shows the transverter used on 630m. Although it puts out about 12W into a 50 ohm load, the actual ERP is very low. The PA is an IRF510 MOSFET. This was replaced.

OFCOM and 700MHz

OFCOM is clearing 700MHz spectrum for other users by 2020.

See http://ofcom.cmail20.com/t/ViewEmail/i/1C4063A92E869B742540EF23F30FEDED/59D1BD3EA2F08127C67FD2F38AC4859C

11 Oct 2017

RSGB Convention

Kent's Hill Park Training and Conference Centre, Swallow House, Timbold Drive, Kent's Hill Park, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire MK7 6BZ. The Convention programme of lectures for all interests will be available on the website. Principal sponsor Martin Lynch & Sons. www.rsgbevents.org.

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

Sunspots - Wednesday October 11th 2017

Solar flux is 71 today and the sunspot number remains zero. A=4 and K=5.

630m WSPR TX

As mentioned yesterday, I managed to mend my 630m transverter and was on 630m WSPR TX last evening and overnight. This s the first time this autumn. My antenna is rubbish! It is the coax to my 2m big-wheel tuned with a ferrite rod ATU. Quite a bit of the run is les than 1m over the ground. For the earth side I am using the mains plug earth.
Much to my surprise (I thought I'd be lucky to get any spots!) I was spotted in Norway by LA3EQ (769km) amongst others. If I can get such reports then anyone can! It is a fun band and there are starting to be some FT8 contacts, which of course are 2-way.

10m FT8

Although I have been on 10m FT8 receive since breakfast, the only spot, so far, is of EA8NL (2986km) in the Canary Is. at lunch time.  I assume this was F2 propagation.

10 Oct 2017

630m WSPR TX (20%) - reports please

Having fixed my little transverter, I am back on 630m TX (and RX). All reports would be much appreciated as my ERP will be very low.

UPDATE 1942z: LA8AV (1035km) has been spotted 6 times so far, but no spots yet of my own QRPP signal, but I keep trying! Earlier, there was a strong station on 630m FT8. I presume this was G3KEV.

UPDATE 2115z: G4MEM (230km) in IO94 square was my first report on 630m TX this season. And this was on a very poor antenna and ground. ERP was low millliwatts - not yet accurately calculated. My work on the transverter worked!

70cm UKAC tonight

A reminder than being the second Tuesday of the month, tonight is the 70cm RSGB activity contest (UKAC). This runs from 1900z (8pm UK clock time) for 2.5 hours, although I manage far less!

Real 10m DX again

So far, there have been 10 South Americans and 2 South Africans on 10m FT8 RX spotted here. TEP I suspect as the sunspot number is zero.

Out with the soldering iron

Well, it was harder than it used to be and I got tired easily, but this morning I mended my 630m transverter using my soldering iron.  Assuming the mod worked, I'll try 630m TX this evening.

My antenna will have to be the coax up to my 2m big-wheel via an ATU and a mains earth as my brother managed to cut through my earth-electrode "antenna" when gardening earlier in the year! I could mend this later.

Optimism in the future of our hobby

Southgate News has a very positive video on the future of our hobby. This was a video made at a recent YOTA event.

The secret seems to be to embrace future technology.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2017/october/the-future-of-amateur-radio-video.htm#.WdyVOrpFzIU

OFCOM and Inmarsat

Today OFCOM announced it is granting Inmarsat a licence.

See http://ofcom.cmail19.com/t/ViewEmail/i/87725B5F14AB5C622540EF23F30FEDED/59D1BD3EA2F08127C67FD2F38AC4859C

"Our" windmill - NOT amateur radio

Many times I have mentioned that we live right next door to a 200 year old, fully restored, 4 sail windmill. This is an unusual shot taken looking up at the sails. The sails turn when the local museum is open.

Sunspots - Tuesday October 10th 2017

Solar flux is 72 today and the sunspot number remains zero. A=3 and K=0.

Any decent 10m conditions certainly won't be because of the "high" sunspot number, HI.

10m FT8 RX

Since breakfast I have been on 10m FT8 RX. As yet, no spots.

630m WSPR RX overnight

Probably my most successful night this autumn with several stations that are new this season. I ran the PC on battery power to reduce the noise floor to about S7. G0MRF, G0NBD and DK2DB are all new this autumn I think.

9 Oct 2017

Why did you vote for him? - NOT amateur radio

So President Trump in the USA is proving his credentials on the world stage leading with vision (NOT). Sorry, but my view is he is a menace.  He seems more interested in short-term votes than the future of the world, including the USA.  Dust bowl? I see no dust.

Others are free to disagree, but surely with all those recent strong hurricanes he must realise climate change is real and not a Chinese hoax? Sadly, many voted for him.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41556342 .

Before "Mr Anonymous" (name withheld) starts a rant, this is my view.  Others are free to agree or disagree, but please give us your name.

630m WSPR RX

This evening I QSYed to 630m WSPR RX earlier. Same stations (again) with best DX LA8AV (1035km) again.

With luck, and a steady hand, I should be back on 630m TX again quite soon, although I am not sure what "antenna" to try. See previous post.

"Get out that soldering iron"

After posting a photo on Facebook of some bread rolls I made yesterday (see photo) a friend has urged me, "to get out my soldering iron" again. Well, tomorrow or later this week, I might just try.

My 630m transverter needs some attention, so I might try this first. I am told there are more people listening than transmitting on 630m WSPR and I have not yet, this season, been on 630m TX. I might give 630m FT8 TX a go too.

See http://www.iamintothis.com/2012/02/friday-food-lust-ham-cheese-chive-bread.html .

Sunspots - Monday October 9th 2017

Solar flux is 75 and the sunspot number zero. A=4 and K=1.

10m (and 630m) FT8

This mode has still not been officially released yet, but it is already very popular. Last night I copied the tail end of what was probably the world's first 630m FT8 QSO between G6AVK and G3KEV. G3KEV was very strong.

Although I have only been on 10m for maybe 20 minutes, I have already spotted IZ8IEV (1646km) at -17dB S/N. Now he is +2dB S/N. Also spotted was a PD0. This latter one could be aircraft reflection.

UPDATE 1335z: First Brazilian spotted on 10m FT8 today was PY5IP (9888km). Sunspot number is zero today.

UPDATE 1348z: Now VP8LP (12772km) in the Falkland Is spotted on 10m FT8.

UPDATE 1804z: No further South Americans today on 10m FT8, but still plenty of DX ...and the sunspot number is zero! This mode really is good.

630m WSPR RX overnight

11 unique spots yesterday evening and overnight, but only PA0ONO (287km) a new call.

8 Oct 2017

Wicken Fen Windmill - NOT amateur radio

Today we did a 2.4 mile walk at Wicken Fen. For me, this is a long walk these days!   Sadly, I find long walks tiring these days.   Wicken feels wild.

This windmill used to pump water.

I was hoping to catch some very late swallows, but saw none. A few little egrets, but no swallows. Most swallows have now flown to warmer weather in Africa. An odd few may still be around, but most have more sense!

Spain - NOT amateur radio

As if Europe did not have enough problems!

What with BREXIT, Greece, the Euro and migrants, Europe is having a hard time.

Now Spain risks a break-up with Catalonia voting to break away. Whether this actually happens remains to be seen, but Spain is damaged. There are shades of General Franco surfacing again.

I just hope some sensible compromise is reached. If Catalonia goes, surely the Basques will seek to break away too? That would be the end of Spain as we know it.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basque_Country_(greater_region)
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spain

10m FT8 - best day this autumn?

Today looks like it will be the best day this autumn on 10m FT8. Already most of Europe copied. Also Armenia, Israel, Qatar, Mali, South Africa, Angola, Reunion, Mauritius and Brazil. And that is just up to now.

This evening many more South American countries are likely to be copied.

UPDATE 1436z: Now 4 South Americans spotted plus Canary Is on 10m FT8. I see there is an rc2 version now, which is up to 4dB more sensitive! I'll have to try this. At the moment I am still using rc1.

See https://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/wsjtx.html

UPDATE 1645z:  Distance chart for 10m FT8 today, showing how many stations spotted at a given distance.

UPDATE 1940z: Well, there can be absolutely no doubt that today was the very best on 10m FT8 this autumn with loads of South Americans spotted this evening. Now QSYing to 630m WSPR.

10m F2?

At the moment I am on 10m FT8 RX and there is some evidence of F2 propagation with spots of Israel and Armenia. Best DX so far this morning is EK6RSC (3586km).

UPDATE 1216:  Best DX spot on 10m FT8 today is FR5FC (9743km).

UPDATE 1245z: Now South Africa and South America being spotted here on 10m FT8.

Moorhens - NOT amateur radio

We spotted a couple of moorhens on the mill leat at Anglesey Abbey last week. These are quite common. We usually see some.

Sunspots - Sunday October 8th 2017

Solar flux is 80 today and the sunspot number 11. A=5 and K=2.

630m WSPR RX last evening

Last night, I went QRT on 630m WSPR at bedtime. No greater DX than EA4GHB (1300km) spotted by the time I went QRT. 8 unique spots last evening on 630m WSPR. Average.

7 Oct 2017

QSYed to 630m WSPR RX (eventually)

After a couple of attempts to leave 10m FT8 (which has been brilliant this evening), I have now eventually QSYed to 630m WSPR. Nothing yet spotted on 630m WSPR RX tonight.

UPDATE 2008z:  DJ0ABR (983km) is the first MF station spotted this evening.

UPDATE 2120z: This evening Netherlands, Germany and Spain spotted so far with best DX EA4GHB (1300km).

10m FT8 or 630m WSPR?

Some time ago I was about to QSY to 630m WSPR RX from 10m FT8 RX. When I checked the 10m FT8 sub-band was filled with South Americans, so I stayed on 10m. When I checked a few moments ago there were still plenty of South Americans, so I stayed on 10m. Later, I will probably switch to 630m WSPR RX.

10m FT8 tonight

Well, after a very average day, 10m came into its own this evening with lots of South Americans spotted on 10m FT8. I assume this is TEP. Certainly 10m FT8 has been amazing lately.

Life "on the edge" - NOT amateur radio

Often, I find it hard to explain to others just how I feel inside having had a stroke 4 years ago. Outwardly I look well and "normal".

And yet I feel giddy when on my feet all the time and I get tired very quickly. The best way I can describe life is "on the edge". My voice is very poor and I find verbal communications hard these days.

In many ways I am lucky. Inside though I still feel well below "normal".

I am not looking for sympathy, but I do feel frustrated and quite understand how hard it must be for others with hidden disabilities. People may be suffering inside when you don't realise.

Autumn cyclamen - NOT amateur radio

Autumn cyclamen at Anglesey Abbey earlier this week. Photo taken by my wife. At every time of the year there is something to enjoy there. Dahlias are nearing their end and in a few months the first daffodils will be out.

Low cost miniature UHF handhelds

Slowly, but surely, the Chinese are conquering the world by stealth.

You can buy 2 very low cost miniature UHF transceivers from China for £22.82 with free airmail shipping to the UK. Two! These give you 400-470MHz coverage and a Band 2 FM receiver! How do they do it and make money? How can any western or Japanese supplier hope to compete? There are even lower cost transceivers if these are too expensive!

See https://www.gearbest.com/walkie-talkies/pp_775273.html?currency=GBP&vip=2674264&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIyKyzvdne1gIVa6btCh37pwkvEAEYASAEEgK2VPD_BwE

5GHz band

I gather there are low cost modules for this band that can be used in ATV and WBFM amateur links. I see from Southgate News that OFCOM wants to allocate part of this band to broadband fixed wireless access.

Although I am sure we could co-exist, is this another example of the "thin end of the wedge" in the UK?  Amateur radio has no power and no money, whereas there is money in broadband fixed wireless access. Sadly, it seems that money talks.

10m FT8 RX

Since shortly after breakfast time, I have been on 10m FT8 RX. Unlike yesterday, not a single spot so far. In fact I just checked all settings in case I had made a mistake - locked to internet time, right antenna, set to right band on rig and PC, correct mode - all look fine.

UPDATE 1150z: GM4FVM (428km) has now been spotted. Aircraft reflection?

UPDATE 1230z: Now spotted 6 countries on 10m FT8 with best DX SU7JG (3527km).

Yesterday evening on MF WSPR RX

Last night I did not stay on 630m WSPR RX overnight. Instead, I was just on last evening. Nonetheless, I spotted all the main players seen overnight previously. In all, not a bad session.
In all, 20 different stations spotted here on 630m WSPR RX over the last 2 weeks.

Sunspots - Saturday October 7th 2017

Solar flux is 81 today and the sunspot number 22.  A=9 and K=1.

6 Oct 2017

Back to the Stone Age next? - NOT amateur radio

Well, I freely admit that I do not have all the facts, but to an outsider living in the UK Donald's latest policy on birth control seems another backward step in the "land of the free". What never fails to amaze me is just how many American's supported him in the last election: to my mind this is more disturbing than Trump.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41528526 .

Something for the weekend

As usual, MLS, a major UK dealer, has some special discounts. With the cashback the FT891 is £554.95. So, why is the IC7300 so expensive? Because we pay at these silly prices. Blame us.

See https://www.hamradio.co.uk/amateur-radio-pc-302.php

Silver birch seeds - NOT amateur radio

We have a large silver birch tree in our garden. At this time of year we get seeds everywhere! Yesterday, I swept up 5 dustbins full of seeds.

Mill Leat - NOT amateur radio

A lovely spot at Anglesey Abbey yesterday with Lode Water Mill at one end and this bridge at the other.

10m FT8 RX

Since breakfast I have been on 10m FT8 RX. So far, just one G spotted G00YQ (177km) in the Hull area. No "real" DX.

UPDATE 1010z: 10 unique spots so far, with best DX Israel at 3575km.

UPDATE 1522z: 7 South Americans on 10m FT8 RX so far. Again, the best DX is LU way down south. - LU8XAF (13413km).

UPDATE 1820z: Well, I was about to QSY to 630m WSPR when I noticed that there were loads of South Americas still coming through on 10m FT8. So, I'll QSY to 630m WSPR later.

Sunspots - Friday October 6th 2017

Solar flux is 85 today and the sunspot number is 26.  A=7 and K=3.

A good MF night

Last night I was on 630m WSPR RX. After some mysteries with the charger on my PC, I was on through the night with the PC running on its internal battery. This lasted until after 0500z, so most of the session. I am now on 10m FT8 RX with the PC battery charging. Noise does not seem to be an issue on 10m.
In all. 13 unique MF spots with a couple of stations new for this season.