30 Nov 2017

136kHz WSPR RX

For the last few minutes I am looking on 136kHz WSPR with my very poor antenna and deaf RX. So far 2E0ILY (209km) spotted.

UPDATED 1955z: 2E0ILY (209km) has now been spotted 4 times this evening, but no-one else.

BREXIT - NOT amateur radio

We are currently in negotiations with the EU about our trading relationship once we leave. Personally, I think the main concern was over who we let in to live and work in the UK and not about trade. If the referendum was repeated making this clearer, I think we might have remained. It seems a pity that the EU did not understand this and make some exceptions for the UK.  In a few years I think the EU will regret this. I think the EU is in denial and more worried about how it will finance its budgets once we leave.

UK Rally

Bickershaw Village Community Club, Bickershaw Lane, Bickershaw, Wigan WN2 5TE. There are a limited number of pitches available. Stall holders entrance from 7.30am, public gain entrance is from 9am. There will be a Bring & Buy, special interest groups and trade stands. Catering is available on site. Entry £2.50. Jason, G0IZR on 01942 735828

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

10m FT8 RX

Although I have been on 10m FT8 RX since before breakfast, nothing yet spotted.

UPDATE 1112z:  Just one spot so far - G0OYQ (177km), which could be aircraft reflection.

UPDATE 1308z:  PD1DL (324km) near Alkmaar has been spotted. Aircraft?

UPDATE 1600z: No further spots today.

UPDATE 1655z: G8YPE (153km) spotted.

Overnight on 630m WSPR

Yesterday, for various reasons I did not venture on to 10m FT8. Overnight on 630m WSPR my 10mW ERP was spotted by 9 unique stations and I spotted 10 uniques. Not the best of nights.

This evening I may try 137kHz WSPR RX with my crap antenna and deaf RX to see if anyone at all can be spotted overnight. The trouble is there are few stations TXing on 2200m. Most are RX only.  It is like operating with no hands and legs, HI.  If I do go on 137kHz, this will be the first time at this QTH. We have lived here for 4 years.

I suspect my earth-electrode "antenna" will be better than my vertical on 137kHz. At 137kHz the earth-electrode "antenna" is probably quite an effective loop.

Sunspots - Thursday November 30th 2017

Solar flux is 74 and the sunspot number 14. A=8 and K=0.

29 Nov 2017

The US president: is he stupid? - NOT amateur radio

To become president of the USA you have to be rich and clever. Mr Trump is obviously the former and, arguably, the latter. So what on earth possessed him, allegedly, to repost some far right stuff on Twitter?  My advice, although I doubt he reads my blog (that would be something!) would be to check sources carefully before tweeting and consider whether the tweet sent is worthy of being sent or not. Maybe he employs people to check what others say about him? Silly me, bad things said are just "fake news" of course.

"Make America great again".

In this case I agree with the UK Prime Minister - Trump was WRONG to retweet these far-right videos. Doing so make him seem stupid, in my eyes. Others are quite entitled to think him wonderful.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-42166663 .
See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-42172032 .
See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-42176507 .

I have reached my personal conclusions, although in a free world others are fully entitled to have theirs, even if radically different from mine.

Brother's visit - NOT amateur radio

My brother has been staying for a few days. He left this morning. It was good to see him.  The next time we see each other will probably be in March. We he is here, my wife always manages to find "little jobs" for him to do. This time we visited a local charity shop and the dump. Luckily he is quite happy being busy.

OFCOM and 5.8GHz

OFCOM has made an announcement about 5.8GHz spectrum.

See http://ofcom.cmail20.com/t/ViewEmail/i/FA5636C938F705722540EF23F30FEDED/59D1BD3EA2F08127C67FD2F38AC4859C

630m WSPR overnight

My 10mW ERP WSPR was spotted by 7 unique stations and I spotted 6 uniques. Not a great night.

Sunspots - Wednesday November 29th 2017

Solar flux is 71 today. Sunspot number is 14. A=8 and K=1.

28 Nov 2017

Allocation of amateur callsigns

Southgate News reports on another Freedom of Information request to OFCOM.

See https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/unallocated_uk_amateur_radio_cal_4#incoming-1071737  .

Yet again, I think OFCOM has provided the data on a minimalist basis.

Granddaughter - NOT amateur radio

We know that childhood is transitory. Already our 2 grandson's are changing, whereas one they were very close. Already we can see signs of innocence lost.

Our 2 granddaughters are still little, but we know this cannot last. For now, we are making the most of them being very little. In the photo, one of the 2 grandchildren is reading a comic.

630m WSPR

So far this evening just G0VQH (15km) spotted. I have been spotted, so far, by 6 unique stations (all in England) when using my 10mW ERP. So far, not a good night.

Overnight on 630m WSPR

Quite a poor night really with 9 unique spots of my 10mW ERP. These were all Gs, which is quite  unusual. Best DX spotted on RX was DH5RAE (995km).

10m FT8 RX

Nothing spotted yet, although it was late (for me) getting on the band. I made the switch at about 1030z.

UPDATE 1140z: Still no spots on 10m FT8 RX here today.

UPDATE 1352z: Just G4CJC (73km) spotted.

UPDATE 1852z: No further spots. Time to QSY to 630m WSPR.

Sunspots - Tuesday November 28th 2017

Solar flux is 74 today and the sunspot number 15. A=5 and K=2.

27 Nov 2017

MLS offers

MLS is offering some winter savings. For example, the ICOM IC7300 ships with a free PSU worth £89.95. Price drop soon? It should be much less by now.

See https://www.hamradio.co.uk/amateur-radio-base-station-radio-icom-base-station-radio-pc-309.php

Low cost UHF portables?

Gearbest is advertising 2pcs (which I take to mean 2 transceivers) for about £24 on eBay. The last time (the only time) I bought from them I ordered 2 pcs, but only got sent one transceiver. Despite lots of communications with them including copies of my order, they insisted I only ordered one. When I threatened to tell PayPal, I got a full refund.

Basically I concluded that they do not understand English. If you order 2pcs, you may end up with just one.  Good prices, but their customer service is lacking. Caveat emptor.

See https://www.gearbest.com/walkie-talkies/pp_775271.html

630m WSPR

For the last hour or so I have been on 630m WSPR TX (10mW ERP, 20%) and RX. So far, 9 unique station spots of my QRPP with best DX a spot by G0LUJ (278km) in the north of England. No international reports as yet.

137kHz WSPR RX

At some point I intend to take a look at 137kHz WSPR. At present I can only receive and not transmit. Also, my RX is deaf and my antenna poor. Still, "nothing ventured, nothing gained" as they say. In other words, it is worth a go. If I copy anything on LF, that would be a bonus! I might copy the stronger  stations. Maybe later this week?

I should also try my coax outer, used as my antenna on 630m, on other bands.  I can TX on any HF band.

17kHz VLF tests (amateur)

Stefan DK7FC who is well known for his sub-9kHz tests recently applied for special permission to test around 17kHz with a low ERP.

"Hi VLF,

Since 23 UTC a 700 mA carrier is running on 17.4701 kHz!
It is a little surprise to the VLF community i think ;-)

Legal? Yes: http://www.iup.uni-heidelberg.de/schaefer_vlf/VLF/17,47kHz_Sonderlizenz.jpg
Actually the document has 3 pages but the other ones are no so relevant.
My ERP is limited to 5 mW. I did not request more because more isn't possible anyway with this antenna.

I wound a big single layer coil with 0.5 mm enameled wire on a PVC tube with 315 mm outher diameter.
0.7 A is just a first careful step. The coil is designed to hold 1.5 A 'key down'.
The carrier will run the whole night and even tomorrow at daytime.

Worldwide reports are welcome ;-)
It is not sub-9-kHz but still VLF, the 17 km band!! So give it chance :-)

The tree has still some solar power to stream the signal from the EW loop down to the city, so there is a feedback spectrogram at http://www.iup.uni-heidelberg.de/schaefer_vlf/DK7FC_VLF_Grabber2.html

73, Stefan

PS: I still can hear that tone of the coil. It is terrible! Be happy when you are older than me!"

UK amateur licences

Southgate News has a report on the number of UK amateur licences according to data released under a Freedom of Information request by OFCOM. The data (not in a clear form) shows the numbers from 2010 to now. I think it shows a peak in 2014 in full licences, but numbers rising for the foundation licences, but I found it not easy to extract. It looks like a dump of data held on a database with no attempt to be very helpful.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2017/november/uk-ham-radio-license-statistics-released.htm#.Whvd4bp2tMs .

Sunspots - Monday November 27th 2017

Solar flux is 76 and the sunspot number 16. A=3 and K=1.

10m FT8

Not a promising start. I have been on 10m FT8 RX since before breakfast, but nothing so far. Things may change.

UPDATE 1012z: Nothing.

UPDATE 1400z: Just a couple of UK stations spotted so far, probably aircraft reflections.

UPDATE 1732z: A couple of Italians spotted on 10m FT8 RX. I have now QSYed to 630m.

Quiet MF overnight

With my 10mW ERP 630m WSPR only copied by 6 unique UK stations last night and only 10 unique spots of others, last night was not great.

26 Nov 2017

6m band

Many countries in Region 1 have allocated the 6m band, but this is at the discretion of individual administrations. At WRC19, according to Southgate News, the amateur service may get a Region 1 "real" allocation.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2017/november/iaru-notes-progress-toward-50-mhz-region-1-allocation.htm#.WhsYELp2tMs  .

Volcanic Ash? - NOT amateur radio

A few years ago we had severe airline disruption as a result of volcanic ash over Iceland. Now it seems we may have a problem brewing near Bali from Mount Agung which last erupted in 1963.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-42126284 .

PSK Reporter Maps - a problem?

Earlier this morning PSK Reporter Maps showed I had copied a German station on 10m FT8. Now this is not shown and it shows me copying just a G station. I tried refreshing the page and altering the time over which I was looking (right out to 24 hours). I also looked in the log. Still no sign of the German. 

All I can conclude is PSK Reporter Maps are less reliable than I thought. This is a pity, as I have found PSK Reporter Maps  much more reliable than WSPRnet.

Last night on 630m WSPR

Overnight, 12 unique stations spotted my 10mW ERP QRP. Best spot was again by LA2XPA (1310km). I am amazed that anyone copies me, let alone way up the coast of Norway!

Sunspots - Sunday November 26th 2017

Sunspots! Solar flux is 74 today and the sunspot number 13. A=7 and K=1.

10m FT8 RX

Since mid-morning I have been on 10m FT8 RX. Only station so far copied is DG1RUG (557km). I guess this could have been aircraft reflection?

25 Nov 2017

Edging - NOT amateur radio

Birds in our garden love to scrape the soil for creatures to eat. I can't tell you how many times I have had to sweep up! So, this autumn, I am adding edging stones in an attempt to reduce the summer workload. I have done one bit, but have still to do along the path, which is about twice as long.

Commercial optical communications

Many years ago, before my stroke, I did some work at 481THz, red light. I used LEDs as the TX element, but I see that there are some commercial optical links using LASERS. Light has the advantage of being very secure. I expect these commercial units are expensive. My own optical kit was very inexpensive and great fun.

At some point I hope to get back to this work. Amateur optical work is both fun and inexpensive. It is certainly at the frontier of experimentation.

See http://www.lightpointe.com/laser-radios.html .
See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/optical .

Trump and faking it - NOT amateur radio

Allegedly  President Trump tweeted that he was "probably" going to be named TIME magazine's Person of the Year, but he apparently declined. TIME has disputed this. It is also reported that the president has a fake TIME cover showing his golf clubs and him.

TIME has also disputed a claim, allegedly, that Trump has appeared on its front cover more than anyone. I am reporting this, I hope, as it appears on the BBC website, which I believe is NOT fake news.

The media portrays the present president as a fool. "I could not possibly comment", to use a phrase from Yes Minister.

The good people of the USA elected President Trump to run their nation and "make America great again".  Let us hope the next president represents the people well and has them at heart.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-42121402 .

10m FT8 RX since breakfast

Since just before breakfast, I have been monitoring 10m FT8 RX. Already, quite widespread European activity, which is encouraging so early.

Sunspots - Saturday November 25th 2017

Solar flux is 74 and the sunspot number still zero. A=10 and K=2

Another good night on 630m WSPR

Last night, my 10mW ERP WSPR was spotted by 9 unique stations with the best being LA2XPA (1310km) way up in Norway. He must have a nice low noise floor!

I spotted 9 uniques here too, with my best DX spotted DH5RAE (995km) in Germany.

24 Nov 2017

OFCOM and programme makers

PMSE users will still have access to 700MHz spectrum after 2020 here in the UK according to OFCOM.

"We believe that continued use by PMSE services is likely to secure the optimal use of this spectrum and maximise the benefits to UK citizens and consumers."

Well, they have to earn a crust at OFCOM. Darn quangos!!

See http://ofcom.createsend1.com/t/ViewEmail/i/FE70F7F0AE1D1BFE2540EF23F30FEDED/59D1BD3EA2F08127C67FD2F38AC4859C

Black Friday emails - NOT amateur radio

When I woke up, there were 10 emails in my inbox. All were about Black Friday deals. They made me sick. Every one was immediately deleted.

This is pure commercialism imported from the USA. It is designed to make us spend more over the thanksgiving weekend. Thankfully, this vomit-inducing commercialism is losing favour here in the UK.

If you good folks in the "land of the free" like it, fine. My personal view is I hate it. Thanksgiving is not celebrated here in the UK. In my view Black Friday has no place either.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42093624 .
See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42106850 .

The future of our hobby

As always, Southgate News is providing links to some interesting stuff. One such story was about the future of our hobby. Personally, I have grave doubts about the future, as I have voiced before. One thing is certain: the thing that got us interested in radio is unlikely to be the same today. What "turns on" youngsters today is very, very different.

Some would call me a fireside fusilier in that I am "gunner do this and gunner do that". What is certain is that our hobby has to evolve or die out. The future is in our hands.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2017/november/millennials-are-killing-ham-radio.htm#.Whgjjbp2vIU

10m FT8 RX

Since breakfast, I have been on 10m FT8 RX. So far today 2 stations spotted:  MI0RRE (495km) and IW4EGP (1284km). Nothing outside Europe today.


Spennymoor Leisure Centre, 32 High Street, SPENNYMOOR, County Durham, DL16 6DB Venue is ideally suited for both trader and disabled as it has good parking and access to a large ground floor hall. There will be the usual radio, computer, electronics stands and a Bring & Buy. Catering facilities and a bar are on site. Doors open at 10.30am (10.15am for disabled visitors). Admission is £2, under 14 free of charge with adult. More details from John, G4LRG on 01388 606 396

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

Sunspots - Friday November 24th 2017

Solar flux is 72 today and the sunspot number zero yet again. A=9 and K=2.

23 Nov 2017

QSYed to 630m WSPR

Rather later than usual at about 2000z, I QSYed to 630m WSPR. So far, just 5 unique Gs have spotted my 10mW ERP 630m WSPR and I have spotted 4 unique stations on 630m WSPR this evening. 

So far, this has been an average evening.

Cambridge autumn - NOT amateur radio

This is very similar to a photo I uploaded yesterday. This time, you can see the punt more clearly. Autumn, so fewer people about.

More from OFCOM

More stuff.

See http://ofcom.cmail20.com/t/ViewEmail/i/6B7694F0B002CACC2540EF23F30FEDED/59D1BD3EA2F08127C67FD2F38AC4859C

Little Egret at breakfast - NOT amateur radio

Back in the 1980s, seeing a little egret in the UK would have be rare. Today, whilst sitting in the kitchen at breakfast, one flew overhead. I could tell it was a type of heron, but as it got closer I could see it clearly. Nowadays they are all over the UK.

Next it will be cattle egrets. These are now widely seen in Devon. Another 20 years and they will be common in the UK. Climate change?

Yesterday they were expecting 18 deg C in some parts of the UK - in November!

See https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/l/littleegret/ .

10m FT8 RX

Rather later than normally, I have QSYed from 630m WSPR to 10m FT8 RX. As yet, no spots.

UPDATE 1048z: No spots as yet.

UPDATE 1428z: 3 stations in 3 countries spotted so far today on 10m FT8.

UPDATE 2210z: So the day ended with just 3 stations in 3 countries spotted on 10m FT8. At least I tried. Disappointing.

Quiet Kings - NOT amateur radio

King's College Chapel looks quiet. The high number of visitors in the summer has reduced now autumn is here.

630m WSPR last night

My 10mW ERP was spotted by 10 unique stations and I spotted 8 uniques with the best DX EA5DOM (1525km). No great DX on TX.

Sunspots - Thursday November 23rd 2017

Solar flux is 74 today, Sunspot number is again zero. A=10 and K=1.

22 Nov 2017

Quiet River Cam - NOT amateur radio

Usually, the River Cam behind the colleges is busy with punts. This stretch is known as "The Backs" as many world famous colleges back on to the River Cam. This stretch is just outside King's College. At this time of year, there are a lot fewer visitors.

Average night on 630m WSPR

Only 6 unique stations spotted my 10mW ERP WSPR last night. EA5DOM (1525km) was spotted several times here last night. Apparently his LF TX is broken so he decided to come on 630m WSPR. He is always a good signal here.

10m FT8

It is only early, but already OZ and SP stations have been spotted on 10m FT8. These could be aircraft reflections, although I am unsure. It seems too close for F2.

UPDATE 1324z: ZS6ZP (9121km) as well as quite a few Europeans spotted today on 10m FT8.

Useful radio magazine archive

Steve G3ILO has pointed out this online archive that contains some useful radio magazines - mainly USA, but some big UK one too.

See http://americanradiohistory.com/ .

Sunspots - Wednesday November 22nd 2017

Solar flux is 74 today and the sunspot number remains zero. A=28 and K=3.

21 Nov 2017


Something must be wrong.

I had a couple of goes on 630m OPERA TX in beacon mode, but got no reports. I switched to WSPR and immediately was spotted and spotted others. Not sure what I was doing wrong.

Blog visits - NOT amateur radio

It never fails to amaze me how many people read this blog every day. It is humbling. I usually write about the things I do or take an interest in.  You will already have noticed that I enjoy WSPR and FT8!

Being a bit disabled these days (although most who see me tell me how good I look - inside it is not quite the same), I probably spend too much time on the PC. As my voice is poor, it is a way of expressing myself.  If you think I should cover other things, let me know.  Doing this blog is now part of my routine. It is quite good fun to record what I've been up to.

Halloween: well gone - NOT amateur radio

These rotting pumpkins are a reminder that Halloween is long passed now. Mind you, the next Halloween will be here soon enough! Also, Easter starts Dec 26th right? Well, it will in the shops!

A better database?

A couple of people have recommended a different database to see my OPERA spots on MF.

See http://spots.microwavers.es/index.php

10m FT8 RX

The band seems only good for Gs here so far. Just a couple of Gs spotted and nothing else as yet. Mind you, it is only 1000z, which is quite early.

UPDATE 1100z: Quite promising on 10m FT8 today. Best DX so far is ZS6ZP (9121km). It continues to amaze me that so much can still be spotted on 10m FT8. In previous years, these openings might well have been missed - lot of Europeans, 3 Israelis and South Africa already, and the sunspot number is zero!

UPDATE 1200z: I see that there are two South Africans in the Johannesburg area in the 10m FT8 RX log today.


Last evening and overnight, I tried 630m OPERA RX. It is supposed to spot weaker stations even than WSPR, which is pretty good. For the first time ever at this QTH I spotted "across the pond" on 630m: VO1NA was spotted twice on "deep search". Activity is lower than 630m WSPR, but LA3EQ was spotted and a few others.

Tonight, I may well try 630m OPERA TX, although I shall also try 630m WSPR as EA5DOM is reported back on the band and mode. He is usually a very good WSPR signal here.

Sunspots - Tuesday November 21st 2017

Solar flux is 73 today and the sunspot number still zero. A=8 and K=4.

20 Nov 2017

Mugabe - NOT amateur radio

Many years ago, just after WW2, my dad was in S.Rhodesia, later Zimbabwe, posted there by the RAF.  Whilst there he met King George VI and our future queen.

What has happened to that country in recent times is saddening. What will happen to Robert Mugabe is anyone's guess. He appears as an old man clinging to power. Whatever happens, I hope it benefits the people of that country.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-42048412 .


OK, I may give this a try tonight. The software needs downloading and I  have to find the right frequencies, but it is more sensitive than WSPR, so seems worth a try. My noise floor (S7) may limit what I can decode.

UPDATE 2040z: So I downloaded OPERA software, set the AGC to "off", set the frequency to 477kHz DIG (i.e. USB), set the RX to "wide", but so far nothing received!

UPDATE 2220z: 3 stations copied on 630m OPERA with best DX so far being LA3EQ (768km). I might give OPERA TX a try tomorrow evening. Others with a lower noise floor might be able to spot me on OPERA but not on WSPR?

630m WSPR overnight

In all, 12 unique stations spotted my 10mW 630m WSPR in the last day. In turn, I spotted 8 uniques.

Amateur licences - rising or falling?

This probably depends on which country you are in.  Southgate News picked up a WIA story that reported roughly static numbers in Australia. In the UK, unless a trend is reversed, we are likely to see numbers rapidly fall in the next 20 years. People are getting older and die. Sadly there are too few young people and women in the hobby here in the UK.

Call me sad but every month I look in RadCom to see how many G3s are now SK. It averages about 5 a month. At this rate we'll soon all be dead!

What is it like in your country?

10m FT8

Since breakfast, I have been on 10m FT8 RX. The last few days have been disappointing with little or no DX copied here. So far this morning just MM0HVU (479km) spotted. Aircraft reflection ?

UPDATE 1045z: Best DX on 10m FT8 RX is currently 4Z4DX (3544km) in Israel. I assume this is F2.

UPDATE 1624z: Two South Americans on 10m FT8 RX! Things are looking up. Best DX is LU4VZ (12459km).

How much better is WSPR compared with 12wpm CW?

It is very hard to calculate this as you have to compare "apples with apples". A calculation by PA3FWM suggests this could be 17dB!!

See http://www.pa3fwm.nl/technotes/tn09b.html .

Sunspots - Monday November 20th 2017

Solar flux is 74 today and the sunspot number zero again. It seems to be zero quite often now.  A=5 and K=1.

19 Nov 2017

Driverless Cars - NOT amateur radio

It seems we are going to see driverless cars on our roads in the UK sooner rather than later. The UK budget is this week and rumours suggest the go-ahead will be given for more on-road tests. Already the collision avoidance software is very good, but the main issue is consumer (driver) confidence. Somehow we find it hard not to still want to drive, even though the software driven car is probably safer!

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42040856  .

Return to 630m WSPR (10mW ERP, 20%)

As 10m FT8 seemed quiet, I have QSYed to 630m WSPR for the evening and overnight. As yet, no spots but it usually takes several minutes for the transverter crystal to warm up and stop drifting. This affects TX.

UPDATE 1840z:
  No less than 5 unique stations spotted my very first 630m WSPR transmit period this evening. My drift was high (up to 3Hz), but this soon drops to 0Hz.

UPDATE 1850z:  My noise floor (S7) is surely limiting what I can copy on 630m. As an example, not a single station has been decoded here so far this evening on that band. My slightly deaf FT817 does not seem to be much of a problem.

UPDATE 2104z: Quite a decent haul in the last 2 weeks. These are the unique stations who spotted me in the last 2 weeks and this with a poor antenna and just 10mW ERP. Just think what a decent antenna could do! In the same period, I spotted 27 unique stations despite my S7 noise floor. I am sure this is limiting what I can spot.
UPDATE 2202z: G0LUJ (278km) is currently the best DX spot of my 10mW this evening.

WLN Portables

Several people have bought these portables under various names at very low cost. Steve G1KQH pointed this out and a search under one of these names resulted in this Russian YouTube video which shows how disassemble the transceiver. There is a lot of radio here. Expect to see a lot more of this transceiver in future.

Solar conditions

Gradually, the sun is going to sleep. Sunspot numbers and solar flux are declining and this will be the case until around 2019. Of course, these are averages and sometimes conditions are much better. The forecasts for the next sunspot maximum are not great. The best I've seen is a peak about the size of the last maximum. It could be much worse!

See http://www.solen.info/solar/ .

Old friends - NOT amateur radio

They say, "there's no friends like old friends".

This morning, we had a visit from old friends who moved away from our village several years ago. We picked like we'd seen them only yesterday. My wife is in the middle.

The photo was taken in our front garden with "our" windmill in the background.

10m FT8 RX

Although I've been on 10m FT8 RX since early morning, just EA6 and OZ spotted so far.

UPDATE 1646z: No more spots seen here today on 10m FT8. Disappointing.

630m WSPR overnight

In all, 11 unique stations spotted my 10mW ERP 630m WSPR last night and I spotted 11 uniques here. An average night.

New cubesat - Oscar 91

Southgate News reports that a new cubesat is "up there".

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2017/november/radfxsat-launched.htm#.WhFcpbp2vIU

Sunspots - Sunday November 19th 2017

Solar flux is 75 today and the sunspot number 14. A=6 and K=3.

18 Nov 2017

630m WSPR

For the last few hours I have been on 630m WSPR (10mW ERP, 20%). So far just spots from Gs although (as usual) I am spotting DH5RAE (995km).

UPDATE 2108z: So far this evening, 9 unique spots of my 10mW ERP WSPR on 630m. These were all G stations.

Takeaway Tax? - NOT amateur radio

To my mind, this is a no brainer. Takeaway boxes that are not environmentally friendly should be heavily taxed. These are a major source of litter and such a tax would make suppliers switch to better materials that are better for everyone.  Switching is easy and they just need a nudge.

I also get annoyed with supermarkets: these days all packaging should be environmentally friendly. The big supermarkets should be blazing the trail and telling their suppliers. Waitrose is bad, with lots of their packaging unclear about whether or not it can be recycled. I find this totally not excusable in this day and age. They should lead the way.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42033760 .

Closed Bank - NOT amateur radio

The only bank in our village closed last week. It now looks very sad. A couple walked up to the cash machine. They were in for a rude surprise as this has gone, replaced with a hole covered with brown wood!

Southgate News - exploding meteor in Finland

Southgate News reports on a video on Spaceweather about an exploding meteor in Finland that turned the night sky blue.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2017/november/exploding-arctic-meteor-turns-night-into-day.htm#.WhAXf7p2vIU .

Now 10m (not 6m) FT8 RX

As of breakfast time, I have switched from 6m FT8 RX to 10m FT8 RX. No spots as yet.

UPDATE 1120z: Spots of quite a wide spread of Europeans on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1240z: Nothing beyond Europe as yet on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1522z: Nothing outside Europe spotted on 10m FT8 today. Probably telling me to QSY to 630m WSPR sooner rather than later!

Sunspots - Saturday November 18th 2017

Solar flux is 74 today and the sunspot number has risen to 26. A=6 and K=2.

17 Nov 2017

People power - NOT amateur radio

We often have more power than we think as individuals. As an example, a private company slipped in an application for a large gas power station on unused land on the edge of the village. The village council "quietly" nodded it through. It was about a month before most of us found out. Locals were up in arms and very many letters were sent to the district planners. We also found out that some of the data used in support of the application were wrong.

Since the protest, the applicant has reportedly withdrawn the application. The applicant was out to make a quick buck (allegedly) but this was thwarted by people power.

Power to the people!

Glitter ban - NOT amateur radio

When I first saw this I thought it was "Health and Safety" gone mad. Deeper reading and I see they have a good point about environmental damage.

Incidentally, our grand-daughter sprinkled some gold glitter in our home at the start of the year and I am still finding bits despite sweeping floors every day!

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-42023245 .

More UK rallies

Here was me thinking the rally season had ended!

Harewood House, Ridgeway, Plympton, Plymouth PL7 2AS. There is car parking available and the venue has disabled facilities. Doors open from 10am to 2.30pm with disabled visitors gaining access from 9.50am. Admittance is £2. There will be trade stands, special interest groups, a Bring & Buy and RSGB bookstand. A raffle will take place on the day. Catering is available on site. Information from David Beck, 2E0DTC on 0777 766 4822 or by email to d.beck123@outlook.com.

Oasis Academy Coulsdon, Homefield Road, Old Coulsdon CR5 1ES. Doors open 10am to 1pm and admittance is £1.50. Car parking and disabled facilities are available. There will be a Bring & Buy and flea market. Catering will be available on site. Details from Andy Briers, G0KZT on 0772 986 6600 or email bazaar@catsradio.org.

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

Roses - NOT amateur radio

We have a pot of roses out on our patio. The colour is lovely. I am not sure how long they will look good.

630m WSPR overnight

Overnight my 10mW ERP WSPR was spotted by 11 unique stations with best DX LA3EQ (769km) in Norway and I spotted 11 uniques here.

Orchids - NOT amateur radio

Orchids can be difficult house plants, but my wife seems to have a way. We usually have 6 or more in the house with quite a few in flower at the same time.

Over-watering can be fatal, so just a thimbleful a week seems to keep them healthy. This one is in the lounge. At night this is hot as my wife likes to be cosy!

We have an enclosed wood-effect gas fire, which works well and looks totally convincing and leaves no mess. Someone even asked if we kept snakes in it in summer!

6m FT8 RX

Since breakfast, I have been on 6m FT8 RX.

As the antenna is free, I am on 10m WSPR TX (500mW) at the same time.

UPDATE 0902z: No spots on either band.

UPDATE 1600z: No spots on 10m. Just G6ZRV (79km) in the Reepham area near Norwich spotted on 6m FT8 RX - tropo?

UPDATE 1750z: G4PMZ (123km) was spotted this afternoon late. I shall be staying on 6m FT8 RX all night long, hoping to catch some Leonids activity, if there is any. I shall give 630m WSPR a miss tonight.

UPDATE 2200z: M0VXX (175km) now spotted on 6m FT8.

Sunspots - Friday November 17th 2017

Solar flux is 74 today and the sunspot number 15. A=14 and K=2.

16 Nov 2017

630m WSPR

As usual, I have gone on 630m WSPR (10mW ERP, 20%) for the evening and overnight. Things are pretty promising so far.

6m FT8

Starting tomorrow for a few days, I shall be leaving 10m FT8 RX and trying 6m FT8 RX instead. It will be interesting to see how much "local" inter-G traffic is now on 6m FT8.

For the rest of the afternoon, I shall be sticking with 10m FT8 RX, although I am not too hopeful.

10m FT8 - disappointing

Since breakfast I have been on 10m FT8 RX, but it has been disappointing with just one G spotted so far today. No Europeans, no "real" DX.

UPDATE 1434z: Now a couple of Gs spotted in the London area and nothing else today on 10m FT8. The latest is G4YBI (83km).

UPDATE 1612z: DL1PV (601km) spotted on 10m FT8. Aircraft?

UK Rally

St Vincent de Paul's, Caldershaw Rd, off Edenfield Rd (A680), Norden, Rochdale OL12 7QR Doors open at 10.30am with disabled visitors gaining access 15 minutes earlier. Admission is £2.50 with those under 12 years free. There will be a Bring & Buy as well as commercial traders, a junk stall and amateur radio sellers. Traders can set up from 8am. Pitches must be booked at least 2 weeks beforehand with prices starting at £5. There will be refreshments available including bacon and sausage butties. Dave, G3RIK by email to rally@radars.me.uk www.radars.me.uk
A list of rallies can be found at http://rsgb.org/main/news/rallies/

Black Friday - NOT amateur radio

I know retailers are having a hard time, but this recent import from the USA makes me want to vomit. It is purely about profits and how to encourage people to spend more. If you can, boycott it. 

In my view retailers have to adapt or go out of business. Online sales are a reality. Those that adapt will remain and those that do not will close. Maybe a good model is a mix of retail places and online? Models like John Lewis comes to mind. You often browse in the shop, but buy online then collect from a John Lewis or Waitrose store.

Like the commercialisation of Christmas, Easter and Halloween, I think Black Friday has no place in UK society. If you like this sort of thing in the USA, by all means keep it there. I for one hate it. It is retailing of the worse sort.

Leonids meteor shower

The Leonids meteor shower peaks this week. I think I'll look on 6m FT8 RX to see what I spot.

See http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/everything-you-need-to-know-leonid-meteor-shower .

More DX on 630m WSPR

Last evening and overnight, I was again on 630m WSPR (10mW ERP, 20%). Yet again LA2XPA (1310km) spotted me. Honestly, have a go with whatever you have. You will be surprised. I am sure an optimised antenna and ground system would be better, but even a totally bad system will work. You cannot get a more basic system than mine!

All change - NOT amateur radio

In the UK, the large retailer BHS has closed its doors. Many of the shops are now being occupied by other retailers. This one in the Grafton Centre, Cambridge, UK is undergoing extensive changes.

I have no idea who is coming here next. Boring to many, but a reminder to me of when these changes happened. Picture taken from a moving bus.

George GM3OXX - SK

It was saddening to read in the latest RadCom that George GM3OXX has died.

He was a stalwart of QRP and I have one of his QSL cards on my wall for a QRP contact on CW many years ago. This was either 80m or 40m. George made most of his equipment at home. Apparently he was also on the microwave bands.

Sadly, a lot of our old-timers are going to leave us in the coming years.

I think he died some time ago.

Sunspots - Thursday November 16th 2017

Solar flux is 74 today and the sunspot number 14. A=11 and K=3. Sunspot number is slowly rising. I guess this is due to the sun's rotation. Long-term, solar conditions are sliding downwards.

15 Nov 2017

Rainy Cambridge - NOT amateur radio

Most Tuesdays and Wednesdays I travel into Cambridge for my U3A courses. Today it was a typical showery November day. The photo shows Cambridge Market with the university church behind. There are few visitors.

I am studying "Weather and Climate" and "Samuel Pepys". We are lucky in Cambridge having so many things to choose from. Many on my Tuesday course are doctors, not of the medical sort! Usually the questions and discussions are interesting. It is nice to learn for fun too - no exams, no vivers.

The Pepys Library is in Cambridge along with the world expert. We visit this library in a couple of weeks.

See https://www.magd.cam.ac.uk/pepys .

10m FT8 RX

Although I have been on 10m FT8 RX from just before breakfast, nothing spotted as yet.

UPDATE 1440z: Today looks more promising with PP5JP (10026km) spotted at 1310z. This is the first South American spotted here on 10m for several days. Lots of EUs plus the Canary Is too on 10m FT8.

UPDATE 1850z: No more South Americans on 10m FT8 today and I have now QSYed to 630m WSPR.

630m WSPR overnight

In all, I was spotted by 9 unique stations with the best DX LA3EQ (769km) in Norway. As usual, my ERP is 10mW.

Sunspots at last! - Wednesday November 15th 2017

Solar flux is 74 and the sunspot number 14 (not zero!). A=11 and K=3.

14 Nov 2017

New student flats - NOT amateur radio

Years ago we bought a car from West's garage in Cambridge. They moved and now they are building new student flats on the site. This photo was taken from a bus tonight in the dark. No doubt these are "posh" with en suite facilities: not like we had!

630m WSPR

For a little while I have been active again on 630m WSPR (10mW ERP, 20%). So far,  4 unique spots of my QRPP signal, all in England. I shall remain on overnight probably.

70cm UKAC contest

This 70cm activity contest, organised by the RSGB, was tonight.

Although I worked a couple of stations and heard several more, the limitations of my system were apparent tonight (just 5W, lossy coax, 2m halo).  To take this seriously I need a 70cm beam and a rotator! Best DX this evening was only 57km. In all, I think I was active for less than 30 minutes. In past 70cm UKAC (activity sessions) I have worked a lot further.

Also, because of my poor voice I was not on very long. Disappointing.


A little while ago I ordered 2 UHF transceivers from them. A few weeks later a package arrived containing just 1 transceiver. My original order was  very, very, clear that the order was for 2pcs (transceivers). After a great many emails to them it is clear they do not understand English and insist I ordered just 1!

In the end they have agreed to a full refund. I shall not be doing business with Gearbest ever again, despite their good prices. If you order things online beware: the company may not understand!


According to Southgate News, Germany now will get access to the WRC 5MHz allocation and an extension of their 50MHz band.

I wonder when the WRC 5MHz band will become available in the UK?

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2017/november/german-radio-hams-get-5-mhz-band-and-50-mhz-extension.htm#.WgrA77p2vIU .

Copied in Scotland on 630m WSPR

Overnight, I was spotted by 12 unique stations including GM0UDL (659km). This is my first report from GM this season. I am not sure how many stations have spotted my 10mW ERP from my crap antenna, but it is probably more than 40 now in 8 countries. All I can say is that if I can do it then, honestly, anyone can.

Sunspots - Tuesday November 14th 2017

Solar flux is 72 today, but the sunspot number remains zero. We will see many days or months without spots in the years ahead. We could even see years with a sunspot number of zero! A=6 and K=3.

10m FT8 RX

As is usual, I've been on 10m FT8 RX since before breakfast. Just a single spot so far - PD0HCV (422km). This could be aircraft reflection?

UPDATE 1105z: With just 2 Gs and one PD0 spotted this looks like another bad day on 10m FT8?

UPDATE 1235z: Now 4 G stations spotted plus 1 PD0. Maybe people are realising 10m FT8 will also be useful for inter-G QSOs even when it behaves more like a VHF band?

UPDATE 1925z: Another dismal day on 10m FT8. More G stations spotted plus one other from Holland. Time to QSY to 630m WSPR!

13 Nov 2017

Made in China - NOT amateur radio

In the west we have become addicted to low cost goods. It seems almost everything is made in China these days. Try it: look on the label of almost anything and the chances are it says, "made in China". I just don't understand how they make things at such low prices and still make profits.

All this come at a price and that is we are exporting our CO2 emissions! China has a high reliance still on coal and is the greatest contributor to the recent rise in global CO2 emissions. They are moving to renewables, but not fast enough it seems. The USA government policy on coal seems flawed too.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-41941265 .

2m UKAC entry - almost forgotten!

Usually, I send an entry in for this contest the very same evening, but this time I forgot. My XYL tidied up and my logbook was hidden. Luckily, I was in time. My entries never come anywhere near winning, but it is good voice training for me and I often work new squares on 2m. These are fun contests best taken not too seriously.  Usually I manage under 1 hour of operating. Then my voice says, "stop".

Tomorrow is the 70cm contest (UKAC). I usually use my 2m halo for this as  have no horizontal 70cm antennas. Start time is 2000z and the contest lasts for 2.5 hours, if you are keen. As you can tell, I am a fair weather contester who operates from home! A coffee or whisky is about 10m away!

Stained glass - NOT amateur radio

We visited the Stained Glass Museum in Ely Cathedral yesterday. It was fascinating to see a range of stained glass from the Middle Ages to more recent times.

This stained glass panel was made in 1979 by Paul San Casciani and is his interpretation of hydra tissue taken from an electron photomicrograph.

10m FT8 RX

Since breakfast, I have been on 10m FT8 RX. Just one spot so far in G4HZW (208km), probably by aircraft reflection. No real DX seen here for several days.

UPDATE 1450z:  It looks like another dire day on 10m FT8 here. So far, just a couple of Gs and no DX - not even a European - spotted today on 10m FT8.

A good night on 630m WSPR

Last night I managed my greatest distance this season (10mW ERP, 20%) to LA2XPA (1310km) and this with my really poor antenna! He copied me 3 times. In all, I was spotted by 12 unique stations and I spotted 10 unique others on 630m WSPR.

Sunspots - Monday November 13th 2017

Solar flux is 69 today. Sunspot number remains zero. A=6 and K=2.

12 Nov 2017

630m WSPR

For the last few hours or so I have been on 630m WSPR. So far, 5 spots of my 10mW ERP WSPR. This is average.

Sunset - NOT amateur radio

As we drove back from Ely we were treated to a great sunset. This photo was taken from our moving car. It is quite flat in the Fens, but we do get some great skies.

Grumpy old man - NOT amateur radio

You can tell I am getting old!

Have you noticed that most young people go up at the end of a sentence? You can almost tell how young someone is by this, not forgetting "like" liberally sprinkled throughout sentences.  It is, like, annoying like, you know what I mean?

I try hard to ignore this, but find myself counting "likes".

Grumpy old man - definitely.

10m FT8 RX

Since breakfast, I have been on 10m FT8 RX. So far, just M0SSK (75km) spotted.

UPDATE 1158z: Best DX is now IZ2MHO (996km) in northern Italy.

UPDATE 1910z: Nothing outside Europe spotted here today on 10m FT8. The last was DM1FL (495km) in the Cologne area.

630m WSPR last night

In all, 11 unique spots of my 10mW ERP with best DX again Norway. I spotted 12 uniques. Not bad.

Sunspots - Sunday November 12th 2017

Solar flux is 68 today and the sunspot number remains zero. A=8 and K=2.

11 Nov 2017

New WSPR beacon

SOTAbeams has a new product that can be used from 630m to 6m with a suitable low pass filter. This is a bit more than the original WSPRlite, but likely to be popular. A great deal of fun can be had with WSPR. The external LPF is a must.

See https://www.sotabeams.co.uk/wsprlite-flexi .

Solar cycle 25 - what will it be like?

"As of April 2017 the strength and trend of the southern polar field hints at a cycle 25 with a magnitude close to that of cycle 24. " 

This was a quote from http://www.solen.info/solar/.  It is expected to be a weak affair. If anyone knows of a better forecast please let me know. As it will probably be my last, I hope it is better than cycle 24, although I think this is unlikely.

An early QSY to 630m WSPR?

As 10m FT8 seems poor again, I am tempted to QSY early to 630m WSPR.

UPDATE 1525z: Well it is done! I've QSYed to 630m WSPR (10mW ERP, 20%). It will be interesting to see what happens in daylight.

UPDATE 1550z: Several spots already given and received on 630m WSPR. My best spot (of my 10mW ERP) is by G4CPD (232km).

UPDATE 2246z: So far, an average evening on 630m WSPR.


It must be the time of the year when few, if any, rallies take place in the UK. I guess it is too wet and too cold to attract the punters. Certainly, I have not received notification of any. Time to draw the curtains, stoke the fire and watch TV?

Autumn colours - NOT amateur radio

Anglesey Abbey is about 4 miles away by car. In every season it looks good. At the moment it is the autumn colours that delight. In a few months it will be the first snowdrops and daffodils.

See https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/anglesey-abbey-gardens-and-lode-mill .

Giddiness - NOT amateur radio

It is over 4 years since my stroke. Whenever I am on my feet I feel giddy and drunk. By now, I was hoping this would have got better, but it seems this is how I am going to be for ever.  I can manage, but I feel way below how I once was.

At the same time others say, "you do look well". That is the problem: appearances deceive. I do look fine and normal, but others do not realise what a struggle ordinary things are.

Overnight on 630m WSPR

An average session on 630m WSPR. In all, my 10mW ERP was spotted by 9 unique stations and I spotted 13 uniques. I have known better nights.

10m FT8 RX

Better than yesterday (when I spotted absolutely nothing!) but still pretty dire. Just a couple of spots so far with 1 G and 1 OZ. Best DX, so far today, is OZ1LXJ (806km). These could be aircraft reflection?

UPDATE  1520z: No further 10m FT8 spots, so I guess the ones above were probably off aircraft or even MS.

Sunspots - Saturday November 11th 2017

Solar flux is 70 and the sunspot count is still zero. A=21 and K=2.

10 Nov 2017

630m WSPR

In the end I gave up on 10m FT8 and QSYed to 630m WSPR. So far, my 10mW ERP has been spotted by 4 unique stations and I have spotted 6 uniques.

10m FT8 - another bad day?

Although I have been monitoring 10m FT8 RX all day, I have spotted absolutely no-one so far! Unless things change, this will go down as another bad day.

UPDATE 1730z: Still no 10m FT8 spots all day! Another hour and I shall QSY to 630m WSPR.

Real or Fake?

Supposedly this guy worked 2m transatlantic in 1982 on FM. I find it hard to believe this was genuine. It seems amazing that this was not well publicised at the time. Make up your minds.

Sunspots - Friday November 10th 2017

Solar flux is 65 (low) and the sunspot remains zero. A=20 and K=4. Not at all promising for the higher HF bands.

9 Nov 2017

Bank closing - NOT amateur radio

Like many branches, the only bank in our village closes tomorrow. Our nearest bank is 4 miles away. Like many, we bank online and get money from a cash machine. It is closing because of lack of use. We are to blame.

Wireless Charging

There has been a fair bit of concern in recent weeks about the spectrum pollution that may result in future from the wireless charging of devices and vehicles. Spectrum for this may be allocated at the next WRC in 2019. Now, wireless charging is probably a "good thing" and may help with fossil fuel use reduction, but this needs to be done in ways that minimises RF spectrum pollution. Once the genie is out, there is no going back.

10m FT8 RX

Since breakfast I have been on 10m FT8 RX.  As yet (0937z), no spots on 10m.

UPDATE 1335z: Still no spots at all on 10m FT8. Very quiet.

UPDATE 1628z: Just G4YBI (83km) to the east of London. Tropo or aircraft? Quite the worst day on 10m for quite a while.

Overnight on 630m WSPR

Not the greatest of nights with 6 unique stations spotting my 10mW ERP and in turn I spotted 12 unique stations on MF. It has been much better!

Sunspots - Thursday November 9th 2017

Solar flux is 67 today and the sunspot number still zero. A=47 and K=4. On the face of it, not too promising.

8 Nov 2017

Now on 630m WSPR

As there have been no South Americans spotted here for several hours now, I have moved to 630m WSPR (10mW ERP, 20%) for the evening and overnight period.

10m to South America

FT8 seems to work well, even on 10m. Today there were stations all across Europe spotted and as far as Kuwait, plus Reunion and South Africa, so I was surprised when only 3 South Americans were spotted on 10m FT8 today. I was expecting far more.

In a short while I'll move to 630m WSPR.

Would Trump win now? - NOT amateur radio

The BBC asked a number of "experts".  I was surprised by what they said.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41839706  .

Profits - NOT amateur radio

John Lewis in Cambridge yesterday and that god "profit" is clearly visible. Frankly, it makes me sick. Why does Christmas get earlier and earlier? Profits!

Personally I'd ban all Christmas things until December.

Depth - NOT amateur radio

Most of the time we live on the surface. Then something happens to make us think. This week I have had two things that "brought me up short". 

Firstly, I attended the funeral of my old work manager (Rao) who died in his 80s, then I heard that my son's brother-in-law, in his 20s, had died in hospital after being struck many weeks ago by a woman driver who went through red lights whilst being distracted fiddling with her phone. We don't realise how fragile life is: one second and his future would have been so different.

Whatever your religion, or none, life is a precious gift too easily taken for granted. In the midst of life is death, pain and suffering. It has always been so, and always will.

Life goes on, as it should, but from time to time we all need to be reminded that we came from dust and return to dust.  Life is transitory.

Overnight on 630m WSPR

Conditions have been better. My 10mW ERP reached DL-SWL (701km) and 5 others. In all, 13 unique spots of others.

10m FT8 RX

As usual, I am keeping an eye on 10m FT8. 3 spots so far with best DX 9K2NO (4641km) in Kuwait.

UPDATE 1428z:  Best 10m FT8 DX is now FR4OO (9668km) on Reunion Is in the south Indian Ocean.

UPDATE 1510z: Now 10m FT8 propagation is moving west. ZS1TMJ (9563km) now being spotted. Later I feel sure there will be some South Americans.

UPDATE 1525z: First South American was PU2WSQ (9588km).

Sunspots - Wednesday November 8th 2017

Solar flux is 68 today and the sunspot number still zero. A=36 and K=6.

Cambridge Bus Station - NOT amateur radio

This was Cambridge Drummer Street bus station yesterday evening. The service bus did not arrive and the next bus was nearly 1.5 hours later! Notice how many people are on their "devices".

7 Nov 2017

630m WSPR

As usual, I have been on 630m WSPR a lot of this evening. So far, conditions seem typical.

My son's brother-in-law has died - NOT amateur radio

Tragically, my son's brother-in-law, who was knocked over by a careless driver busy fiddling with her mobile phone, has died. He was in hospital for over a month in Australia.  1 second and his future would have been so different. His entire family is devastated.  The woman driver will have this guilt for the rest of her life. In many ways I feel sorry for her too.

Where is the good God who allows this to happen? Right now I find it hard to fathom any good in this situation.

2m UKAC Activity Contest

This evening was the 2m leg of the RSGB's activity contest. As my bus was late getting back from Cambridge, I was not on very long this time, so worked few stations. Normally, I add a map, but this time it is not worth it.

OFCOM monthly update

OFCOM has just produced its update for October.

See http://ofcom.cmail19.com/t/ViewEmail/i/AF858CA5839176DE2540EF23F30FEDED/59D1BD3EA2F08127C67FD2F38AC4859C

Hindu funeral - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday, I attended a funeral for my old manager at Pye Telecom. He was Indian and a really good man. He always told the truth and I had a great deal of time for him. The service was at the crematorium in Cambridge and was a Hindu service. It was very moving. According to Wikipedia there are 960 million followers in India alone.

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

The last 24 hours on 630m WSPR

The last evening and night were quite productive. My 10mW ERP WSPR was spotted by 13 unique stations and I spotted 16 uniques.

10m FT8 RX

Just before breakfast I moved to 10m FT8 RX again. Despite poor solar conditions and zero sunspots, several stations are coming in via F2.

Best DX currently on 10m FT8 VU2TS (8062km) in Southern India.

UPDATE 1048z: Best 10m FT8 RX DX is VK6RK (14469km) in Western Australia. Did someone say 10m was dead? Solar flux is low and the sunspot number is zero! FT8!

UPDATE 1150z: It just get better! VK5SFA (16221km) is now the best DX spotted on 10m FT8 this morning.  FT8 is magic.

UPDATE 2052z: Well. I think today was the best yet this autumn on 10m FT8 RX. Did someone say 10m was "dead"? Well even with low solar activity and zero sunspots the photo shows the spots on 10m FT8 today! Amazing!

Sunspots - Tuesday November 7th 2017

Solar flux is just 69 today and the sunspot number still zero. A=2 and K=1.

6 Nov 2017

630m FT8

This evening I copied DL6TY (629km) calling CQ in FT8 on 630m. Although I called him, he did not copy me. This is the first time I have decoded anyone on FT8 on 630m. This will become the communications mode on most bands. I have now gone back to 630m WSPR.

QSY to 630m WSPR

At 1935z I QSYed to 630m WSPR (10mW ERP, 20%). I should be on overnight.

UPDATE 2055z: GW3UCJ (286km) was copying me 4dB stronger than usual.

Geomagnetic storm?

According to Southgate News we may well get a geomagnetic storm tomorrow (Nov 7th). This was picked up from the spaceweather website.

Cattle Egret - NOT amateur radio

Until recently, cattle egrets were rare in the UK. The latest wildlifeindevon report show no less than five in South Huish. I have the distinct impression these will be the next "big thing" with them being a common sight in the UK within a few years.

Back in the 1980s little egrets were rare in the UK. Now they are all over the place.

See https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/c/cattleegret/ .

Our village - NOT amateur radio

Burwell is about 10 miles from Cambridge. Most who live here work in Cambridge. Population is now about 6000, although it still feels like a village, with friendly people who say, "hello" in the streets.

USA and guns - NOT amateur radio

Yet again we hear about a mass shooting in the USA. This time it was a church and a kid as young as 5 was killed among the 26. The USA has a gun culture and a very high rate of killings. OK, gun ownership in Switzerland is high because of National Service, but they don't seem to have a problem.

Why is the USA so violent? Does gun ownership really make you safer?

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41880511 .

Low cost Chinese handhelds

I ordered a pair of Chinese UHF portables for just over £13 a pair. One arrived. I have still to chase the company for the second unit. It seems they had got the order wording wrong.

Sorry, but I ordered a pair and that is what I expect to get - in the end.

Gearbest - remember the name. We'll see how they do in the end.

10m FT8 RX

Just before breakfast, I switched (again) to 10m FT8 RX. I am amazed by what I spot. Although solar conditions are a lot worse than a few years ago, 10m FT8 seems to work.

So far, one German and one Russian RA6WF (3628km) on the Caspian Sea spotted.

UPDATE 1248z: Best DX so far on 10m FT8 RX is A45XR (5796km) in Oman. Although several Europeans and further spotted, 10m does not look as good as yesterday.

UPDATE 1910z: Just one South American on 10m FT8 today. Not a brilliant day.

630m WSPR overnight

As is usual, I was on 630m WSPR last night with my usual 10mW ERP for 20% of the time with the remaining time on RX. In all, 7 unique stations copied me and I spotted 13 uniques.

Herman the German - NOT amateur radio

On Sunday my wife and I did a walk around part of our village. We both commented that we'd not seen "Herman the German" in quite a while. We feared he might even have died.

Quite by chance we later bumped into him walking his dog. He is now 92, frail and not in good health. He was as pleased to see us as we were to see him. He was a prisoner-of-war in WW2 who stayed and married. He is a very nice man that we saw a lot at our previous house. He came to see us a few years ago at our new home. It was so good to see him.

Sunspots - Monday November 6th 2017

Solar flux is 71 today and the sunspot number again zero. A=2 and K=0.

Starlings - NOT amateur radio

We live right next to a 200 year old restored windmill. Although this is not a starling roost, it seems to be a place where they congregate on their way to somewhere else. Their favourite spot seems to be on the sails where they gather late afternoon. At one time a few years ago we saw few starlings, although we see plenty here!

5 Nov 2017

QSYed to 630m WSPR

At 1740z I QSYed to 630m WSPR (10mW ERP, 20%) as I think 10m FT8 is "over" for today. OK, I may miss some DX on 10m FT8, but I have had a good day. There is always another day.

UPDATE 1746z: No spots given or received as yet on 630m.

UPDATE 1747z: LA8AV (1035km) has already been spotted on 630m WSPR.

Rain? - NOT amateur radio

This afternoon we went for a walk around our village. Although it threatened rain, we missed it.

OFCOM - useless?

For some time, I have had a personal view, that may not be shared by others, that OFCOM lacks technical expertise and is very weak when it comes to enforcement.  This view was based on personal experience some years ago when I needed to speak with OFCOM people about VLF. Names escape me. To be honest, the people I spoke with were useless!! Perhaps they had degrees in cooking or football? Technically, I got the impression that they had no idea what I was talking about. All they seemed to be interested in was not breaking the law. Engage brains? Think laterally? Definitely not. I got the impression at the time that all that mattered were services that generated money and keeping these "clean".

Reading Southgate News today only serves to re-enforce my personal view that OFCOM is a bunch of generally non-technical bureaucrats, who know little technical detail. Bring back the GPO inspectors who actually visited and checked! In my early days I had my station inspected several times.

I hope others have had better experiences.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2017/november/ofcom-and-ham-radio-repeater-abuse.htm#.Wf7nLbp2vIU

East Cambs Net - 144.575MHz Mondays 8pm

A small group of us normally comes on 144.575MHz FM (yes, one four FOUR) at 8pm Mondays for a chat. Discussions are generally non-technical, or easy technical, and go on for about 30 minutes. Everyone if very welcome and newcomers to the group are most welcome. Don't be shy! Most stations are located in Cambridge or East Cambridgeshire.

630m WSPR overnight

In the last day, I have been spotted by 7 unique stations and I have spotted 14 uniques. An average period. My ERP is still 10mW.

10m FT8 RX

Although I have only been looking for a few minutes, there are quite a few stations from Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, Russia and the Middle East already spotted on 10m FT8, despite poor solar numbers.

I think it is true that FT8 has transformed 10m with many more people staying on the band and finding DX that, in the past, would have been missed. Concentrating the activity in a narrow, well monitored, slot must help, as does the ability to decode weak signals.

3 cheers for FT8!

UPDATE 1248z: first South American on 10m FT8 today was PV8DC (7830km) in Roraima, northern Brazil. This was made famous by Arthur Conan Doyle in "The Lost World".

UPDATE 1408z: No further South Americans spotted on 10m FT8, but VO1NE (3931km) in Newfoundland recently spotted. It looks like 5 continents today. Still not bad with a poor antenna and no sunspots!

UPDATE 1622z: With 4 North Americans and 4 South Americans spotted, today has been quite good on 10m FT8.

UPDATE 1738z: With nothing new now for a few hours I think I'll QSY to 630m WSPR.

Sunspots - Sunday November 5th 2017

Solar flux is 71 today and the sunspot number is zero again. A=4 and K=0.

4 Nov 2017

Mr President in Asia - NOT amateur radio

So the president of the USA is on an official visit to Japan, South Korea and China. I am not sure if anywhere else is on his agenda. I hope he is presidential and not the butt of more jokes. Maybe he can stop tweeting and actually listen?

Allegedly his views on the causes of climate change are at odds with scientists who have access to facts and evidence. Oh silly me - this is all rubbish and a Chinese plot. I quite forgot. Fake news.

UPDATE 2308z:  Apparently he is also visiting Vietnam and the Philippines.  See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-41773310

What made this? - NOT amateur radio

A few days ago we went to Anglesey Abbey which is about 4 miles away. We saw this hole, but I am not sure what creature made it. Moles usually leave a pile of earth. This hole had none. My guess is a mouse or a shrew? The hole was about 3cms (just over an inch) across.

630m WSPR

Quite early for me, I have already QSYed to 630m WSPR (10mW ERP, 20%). Already I am being spotted and spotting others. Although activity is quite high, there are only a few in Europe on TX.

Rain! - NOT amateur radio

Today we have real rain. It looks to be here for the day, perhaps easing off later. Tomorrow looks more promising. The grass needs cutting, but that can wait until next week.

630m WSPR last evening and overnight.

In all, 9 unique stations spotted my 10mW ERP 630m WSPR in the last day and I spotted 11 uniques.  Not the best of nights.

10m FT8 RX

I have been on 10m FT8 RX since breakfast. Only one station spotted so far 4X1QQ (3551km). I assume this is F2 propagation. Yesterday I had spotted several Europeans including several Russians by this time.

UPDATE 1026z:  Now spotted an Italian and one UK station on 10m FT8.

UPDATE 1230z: 13 10m FT8 spots so far. Mainly Europeans.

UPDATE 1528z:  So far, nothing from Australasia, South Africa or South America but one spot from the USA N2GHR (5521km) in New York late this morning.

UPDATE 1624z: Apart from the single spot of the station in the USA, today has been a bit disappointing on 10m FT8. I'll give it a bit longer, then QSY to 630m WSPR. It would be good to try 137kHz WSPR RX, but the FT817 is very deaf on that band.

Sunspots - Saturday November 4th 2017

Solar flux is 72 and the sunspot number still zero. A=9 and K=1.

3 Nov 2017

QSY to 630m WSPR

After a great day on 10m FT8 RX again, I have QSYed to 630m WSPR transceive. I made the switch at 1910z (10mW ERP, 20%).
First 50 minutes on 630m WSPR tonight