28 Feb 2018

630m WSPR RX this evening

For most of the evening I have been on 630m WSPR RX. So far, 15 unique stations have been spotted, which is quite good for this time. As the shack PC battery is almost fully charged, I shall be looking almost until breakfast. I am surprised not to have spotted a single USA station when most EU stations are being copied on the earth-electrode "antenna".

Snow showers - NOT amateur radio

Most winters these days are mild. This has been the exception with quite a few frosts. Today we have about 3 inches of snow (6-8cms). It has been snowing on and off much of the day. At the moment it looks nice.

The EU and BREXIT - NOT amateur radio

So the EU has published its draft bill on the UK leaving the EU. Since it was published, the UK pound has lost value against all major currencies. No doubt it will recover, but at the moment the UK seems to be fumbling around over what it really wants once we leave.

Why did we not say the referendum would not be binding unless the majority was x %? As it is the margin of "leave" over "remain" was a small 4%, with almost a half not wishing to leave the EU. I suspect fewer would vote leave now. Many want controls over immigration but still want the tariff-free trade with the EU.

UPDATE 2152z: At the end of the day, the UK pound was 0.76% weaker against the euro

Maplin administration

Allegedly, Maplin has gone into administration.

I was in a company that went into administration many years ago. It is very unpleasant as it means your pensions and severance deals can count for nothing. I expect the administrators are trying to find a buyer for, at least some of, the stores.

Sadly, Maplin is another example of the way we shop now. Fewer go into stores and more and more of us buy online at lower prices, often from the Far East with free postage.

As I have said many times, those that adapt have some chance, whereas those that do not adapt will fail. I suspect those that will survive have a good online store and a high street chain to allow browsing. John Lewis comes to mind.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-43223175 .

Amazon failure - NOT amateur radio

As part of my wife's Christmas presents I ordered a CD from Amazon on Nov 11th 2017. Despite many new dates it has still not arrived.

If this was a rare CD of Mongolian folk music I could understand this, but this is a very simple CD of common music. I am still struggling to understand why this should take so long.

In this time (nearly 4 months) this could have been handmade in China! At the very least "a human" (these seem in short supply) could have said they cannot get it, sorry. As it is, they are still trying to get it.

Maybe Christmas 2019?

OFCOM and short range devices

Today, OFCOM published a new document about short range devices.

I have no idea if this affects the access by amateurs to different parts of the radio spectrum, but I think not. OFCOM would have to think, and make decisions. Surely not possible!

Like many OFCOM documents it looks like it was written by a 1st year Law student who hides behind the law as he/she knows nothing about RF. If I am being grossly unfair, I am sorry, but that is how I read it.

See https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0023/111677/Implementing-the-Commission-Decision-on-Short-Range-Devices.pdf

Still snowing - NOT amateur radio

As I write, it is still snowing here. This is the heaviest snow we have had for several years. Definitely a day to stay at home and keep warm!

WRC-19 and amateur radio

The next World Radio Conference is next year (2019). At it, spectrum will be discussed. I have to admit that I have not been following preparations too closely, but I expect the amateur service will be way down the list of priorities. Much more important to the national administrations will be spectrum for satellite services and for 5G. Basically, if it generates money they will be interested. If not, it will play second fiddle.

For the amateur service what would I like to see?
  • Extension of the 5MHz allocation made at WRC-15.
  • A 4m band throughout region 1 (possibly elsewhere too).
  • A 6m band everywhere 50-52MHz minimum (50-54MHz ideally).
  • Clarification that spectrum below 8.3kHz can be used by anyone anywhere on a non-interference basis.
  • Access to 40MHz and 60MHz for Es research. Even a very small allocation would be useful.
Now, probably most of these will not happen!

10m FT8 RX

At the moment, I am monitoring 28.074MHz FT8 RX. Realistically, I am not expecting great things, but I have been surprised in the past.

UPDATE 1025z: No spots as yet.

UPDATE 1347z: Just spots of G4CJC (73km) in north London so far.

UPDATE 1654z: SQ4OJD (1359km) spotted earlier this afternoon. So far the only no-G spotted.

UPDATE 1735z: Now CT1GFQ (1684km) being spotted.

UPDATE 1826z: ZP5FIA (10287km) in Paraguay copied. There is still DX on 10m.

630m WSPR RX overnight

In all, 17 unique stations spotted on 630m WSPR in the last day. Nothing outside of EU, but a couple of new countries for me in the form of 9A3KB (1290km) and HF7A (1294km).

Snow - NOT amateur radio

This is a photo of our grandson enjoying the snow on his birthday. It is still snowing now and this winter has been the coldest for several years.

Sunspots - Wednesday February 28th 2018

Solar flux is 69 and the sunspot number 15. A=19 and K=2.

27 Feb 2018

More on WSJT-X V1.9.0

Southgate News has more information on the latest version of WSPR-X, free software available for download. The FT8 weak signal, narrowband, mode has really "taken off" and has amazed me. The software for this is in WSJT-X and is totally free. All you have to do is sit on a given USB dial frequency and watch the DX appear. QSOs are formulaic, but the mode allows low power to reach great distances. Yesterday for example my 2m 4W ERP was spotted in north Devon quite easily.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/february/wsjt-x-version-1-9-0.htm#.WpXVPkx2vIU

Joining the dots - NOT amateur radio

This may be because I am getting older or an artefact following my 2013 stroke.

Sometimes I mishear things or simply misunderstand and my brain tries to make sense of it by subconsciously "joining up the dots". Sometimes I completely get the "wrong end of the stick". Today, I misunderstood my wife saying an old friend was coming tomorrow afternoon when in fact he was coming this morning. I guess this happens several times a week.

The moral is to make sure I heard correctly and don't interpret things incorrectly. At times my brain plays tricks.

Cambridge bikes - NOT amateur radio

When crossing roads in Cambridge you have to be careful: there are lots of bikes and often cycles are allowed to go down roads against the traffic flow. It is all too easy to walk into bikes. I have the dubious distinction of causing a cyclist to crash off his bike when I was a pedestrian buckling his front wheel. That was in 1971, but the nickname "crash" was still with me well into the 2000s! Cambridge is synonymous with bikes.

630m (472kHz) WSPR RX

If I can successfully download the latest version of WSPR-X (V1.9) I may give 472kHz WSPR a go this evening and overnight.

UPDATE 1422z: Well, it looks like WSJT-X V1.9 rc2 has successfully downloaded and installed. Currently, I am on 472kHz WSPR RX, but no spots yet.

UPDATE 2115z: 10 unique stations spotted so far this evening including 9A3KB (1290km) which is a new country for me on this band. Best DX so far is LA2XPA (1310km). The shack PC is on battery power.

UPDATE 2155z: The shack PC battery is charging until about 2300z. Thereafter, I shall be on 472kHz WSPR RX through the night with the shack PC on battery power. The PC usually stays working until about 0600z.

UPDATE 2310z: Everything is now set up for an overnight look on 472kHz WSPR. Yet again, I am hoping for some USA spots. Well, I can hope. After about 10 minutes, 5 uniques spotted.

2m FT8 RX

Yet again, I am monitoring 2m FT8 RX. I was on overnight. In the last 12 hours 15 unique stations in 4 countries with the best DX being DK0IZ (643km) north of Hamburg.
The map shows the stations spotted on 2m FT8 in the last day.

Sunspots - Tuesday February 27th 2018

Solar flux is 71 today and the sunspot number is 16. A=7 and K=2.

OFCOM announce bidders

Today, OFCOM announced the people who will be allowed to bid for 3.4GHz spectrum in their forthcoming auction.

See http://ofcom.cmail20.com/t/ViewEmail/i/FAF3B1CF960D46302540EF23F30FEDED/59D1BD3EA2F08127C67FD2F38AC4859C

26 Feb 2018

New version of WSPR-X released (V1.9)

According to the Princeton site, a new improved version of WSPR-X has been made available. Better LF and MF WSPR decodes are supposed to be possible.

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

When I looked this was this was a release candidate, so there might still be some bugs?

Beast from the East - NOT amateur radio

Today, we had a few snow showers. During the week it is likely to get worse. I like the look of snow for the first day or so. After that it normally turns brown and slushy.

10m WSPR TX beacon

My 10m WSPR TX beacon (500mW) has been active all day, but as yet no spots.

UPDATE 1556z: Still no spots. I suspect this is going to be another day without WSPR spots.

UPDATE 2210z: The beacon went QRT at 2000z.

365project - NOT amateur radio

As many will know, both my wife and I do the 365project and take a photo each day. Most of these photos would not win prizes, but it is fun to look back on several years day by day. There is no connection with Microsoft Word365.

Battery technology

Although hard to admit, I am behind in battery technology. When I left commercial industry some 10 years ago, lithium polymer batteries were new.

What I do know is that electric cars still have insufficient range to allow "normal" people to be interested. Electric cars are still expensive and the ranges generally insufficient for a long journey, although probably fine for most domestic journeys such as shopping and local travel.  I note the "new" FT818 portable from Yaesu still talks about a NiMH battery pack.

There is no doubt that a breakthrough is needed still, especially for electric cars. Until the price of batteries comes down a long way, charging times are slashed and capacity dramatically increased, we are going to struggle.

Batteries need to improve on many fronts. I am sure technology has moved on, there is lots of research, but what is needed is a real breakthrough. I am pretty sure I have not missed this.

See https://www.ft.com/content/46adb98c-d8ef-11e7-9504-59efdb70e12f .

2m FT8 RX

Overnight I remained on 2m FT8 RX. Just this morning in the last few hours, I have spotted 7 unique stations in 4 countries. Best DX currently is F8COD (424km) east of Paris. Sync to internet time was checked about 50 minutes ago.

UPDATE 1215z: Currently 18 uniques in 5 countries spotted here in last 3 hours on 2m FT8 RX. Best DX is currently DF8JO (535km).

UPDATE 2152z: Earlier this evening I was briefly on 2m FT8 TX. I was copied in Devon by G4RRA (334km) as my best DX. Not bad for 2.5W and an omni antenna

Sunspots - Monday February 26th 2018

Solar flux is 69 and the sunspot number zero. A=4 and K=2.

25 Feb 2018

Painted Pebbles

This was the painted pebble my granddaughter found this morning. It will be re-hidden. Finding these painted pebbles has become a craze, especially with youngsters.

Getting colder - NOT amateur radio

It is a bright and sunny day, but it is cold. This was the ice from the bird bath at noon.

2m FT8 RX

It is still good this morning. I am amazed by the stations I am spotting. It is loads and loads. Already today 20 unique stations spotted in 4 countries. Best DX is currently PD0HCV (420km).

UPDATE 1235z:  33 uniques in 6 countries so far today on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1517z: 40 uniques in 6 countries in the last 12 hours. 12 uniques in 3 countries spotted in the last hour. 144.174MHz USB dial is the spot.

UPDATE 1830z: DF7DX (564km) is the  best DX currently on 2m FT8 RX.

At Chippenham Hall - NOT amateur radio

This could almost be a Greek vase, but we saw it last week at Chippenham Hall, near Cambridge. The grounds were filled with snowdrops.

Sunspots - Sunday February 25th 2018

Solar flux is 70 today. Sunspot number is still zero.  A=9 and K=1.

24 Feb 2018

Cold snap - NOT amateur radio

OK, I know our friends in the USA and Canada will be having a laugh, but apparently we are in for a cold snap in the UK with a good chance of snow in the east. This is all due to a big high pressure system out east feeding Siberian cold winds in the direction of the UK.

We seem to get few really cold snaps these days with little snow. Although this winter has been colder than for a while, it is nothing like 1947 and 1963 when it was very cold and snowy for months.

There is little doubt that the climate is changing and generally things are getting warmer, even if we do get a cold spell now for a while.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43167583 .

Growing - NOT amateur radio

Our amaryllis from last winter continues to thrive.

This picture was taken a few minutes ago. Barring any disasters (like the grandchildren tipping it over) it should flower in the next few weeks.

And to think we nearly gave up on it!


There are rumours going around that Maplin is in trouble. Over the years I have bought the odd things from their Cambridge store including coax.

These days you can buy many things directly from China at lower cost, often with free postage. In the last week I bought 3 lens caps for a camera from Hong Kong for a total price of £2.97 with free airmail postage. They fit perfectly and I cannot fault the service. A while back, I bought a 40m CW Pixie transceiver from China for less than the price of just the crystal here in the UK.

If Maplin goes it will be a sad day. However, the retail market is changing. If we don't use these shops they will close, like bookshops, Woolworths, BHS, banks and other stores. Those that adapt have some chance. Those that do not, or cannot, will fail.


For the last few nights I have given this band a miss. I seem to spot the same stations again and again. Someone pointed me towards 2m FT8 and that is where I have been looking lately. There is no doubt I shall return to 136kHz and 472kHz, but I think I need to sort out a better antenna on these bands!

2m FT8 RX

Overnight, I stayed on 2m FT8 RX. Even in the last hour I have copied 13 unique stations in 6 countries with best DX DK2DTF (644km).
The map shows the stations copied on 2m FT8 RX in the last day.

UPDATE 1212z: 26 unique stations in the last 6 hours!

UPDATE 1325z: Now 30 uniques in last 6 hours..

UPDATE 2100z: Just checked clock is sync'd to internet time, so I can remain monitoring overnight on 2m FT8. Still spotting lots of stations.

Sunspots - Saturday February 24th 2018

Solar flux is 70 today and the sunspot number remains zero. I expect it will be zero, or close to zero, for years now until we start cycle 25.  A=16 and K=3.

23 Feb 2018

FT818 MLS Price

The first indications of price are out. MLS says deliveries are expected April and their price £599.95.  From the specs provided by MLS it uses a NiMH battery pack, 6W RF (big deal), superhet RX and no mention of DSP or speech compression. Either MLS don't know much or these features are absent.

Are Yaesu getting desperate? Reading what is published, this a seriously unimpressive radio. I very much hope there is more - a lot more or this will bomb and Yaesu too.

There is so much riding on this and all Yaesu can do is provide a minor upgrade to a transceiver that is 18 years old? Yaesu, please get real! Look at your competitors!

Honestly, I am seriously under-whelmed.

See https://www.hamradio.co.uk/ .
See also: http://qrznow.com/yaesu-ft-818-6w-hfvhfuhf-all-mode-portable-transceiver/

Treat time - NOT amateur radio

Last week we treated our grandchildren to meals at our local farm shop. This is 2 of them enjoying a rather special drink.

Declining solar activity

We are heading downwards to the next solar minimum with plenty of spotless days ahead. What the next peak will bring is not clearly known, but don't hold your breath!

According to Southgate News we were grazed by a solar outburst which caused some unusual activity in the Earth's magnetic field.

See http://spaceweather.com/ .
See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/february/unusual-oscillations-in-earths-magnetic-field.htm#.WpBGv0x2vIU .


More in hope than expectation, I turned on my 10m WSPR beacon (500mW) at just before 1530z. I wonder if anyone will spot me today?

UPDATE 1658z: No spots today on 10m WSPR TX.

UPDATE 222oz: No spots at all today. Soon be time to turn the beacon off.

2m FT8 RX

As previous days, I am again on 144.174MHz FT8 RX. So far today 17 unique stations in 6 countries. Best DX is DK1VC (503km).

UPDATE 1405z: Now 21 uniques.

UPDATE 1515z: Now 23 uniques in the last 12 hours. I am totally impressed that my ultra-simple set up can spot stations so easily and so well on 2m VHF. I am also surprised how many 2m stations are using FT8.

UPDATE 1532z: I tried calling a few 2m FT8 stations, but without success, so I have gone back to RX only. Now 24 uniques today in last 12 hours.

UPDATE 1602z: Best DX now DK0IZ (643km) in JO43 square north of Hamburg at -16dB S/N. Now 29 uniques in last 12 hours.

UPDATE 1833z:  Best DX now DK2DTF (644km) near, or in, Frankfurt. Now 35 uniques in last 12 hours.

UPDATE 2230z: Best DX is now DJ6AG (689km) in Lower Saxony, Germany.



The Victory Academy, Magpie Hall Road, Chatham, Kent ME4 5JB. Doors open 10am-2pm (with disabled visitors gaining access at 9.30am). Admittance is £2.50. There is free parking and talk in on 145.550 using GB4RRR. There will be trade stands and an RSGB bookstall. Catering is available on site. Details from Hugh H, G0BRC on 0782 583 8877 or by email to Secretary@bratsqth.org.


Pencoed Rugby Football Club, The Verlands, Felindre Road, Pencoed CF35 5PB. Doors open at 8am for sellers and 10am for buyers, entry is £2. Tables are £10 each on a first come first served basis. Refreshments available on site. To book contact Madeline Roberts on 0773 837 5775.

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

Sunspots - Friday February 23rd 2018

Solar flux is 70 today. Sunspot number remains zero. A=11 and K=2.

22 Feb 2018

Anglesey Abbey - NOT amateur radio

This afternoon, as it was sunny, we did a walk at nearby Anglesey Abbey. We did the winter walk which is just over a mile. There were lots of snowdrops and hellebores out, but very few daffodils. Half way around, the National Trust had placed a coffee van. Next week could be very cold.

Guns for teachers - NOT amateur radio

So the ever modest President has met pupils from Florida who managed to escape the latest mass school shooting. That is good of him.  We seem to hear about these shootings every week in the USA.

His answer? Allegedly, arm the teachers. Why not ask the basic questions about USA gun crimes instead? The USA seems to have more school mass killings by far than anywhere else. Does no-one want to understand why this is? Could it be something to do with the ease of obtaining deadly weapons perhaps? Better checks, yes. Why sell automatic weapons in the first place? Why sell guns?

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-43149694

DXpedition to the Spraty Islands now March

According to the ARRL, the DXpedition to the Spratly Islands is to go ahead in March. You may recall the sovereignty of these was disputed by China. More than likely this is about oil, mineral or fishing rights.

See http://www.arrl.org/news/postponed-dxpedition-to-disputed-spratlys-reset-for-march

10m WSPR TX again

As the antenna is available, my 10m WSPR TX beacon (100% TX, randomised TX frequency, 500mW) is active.  This does not need the PC.

It is not much of a surprise that no spots received! If I get spotted even once I'll be pleased.

UPDATE 1328z: Still no 10m WSPR spots today.

UPDATE 2244z: No 10m WSPR spots all day.

2m FT8 RX

OK, I am amazed.

I stayed on 2m FT8 (144.174MHz) overnight and checked internet time was in sync earlier.

Just in the last 6 hours 13 unique stations in 4 countries spotted with best DX GW6TEO (371km) in west Wales in IO71 square. All this with just a big-wheel omni antenna.

UPDATE 1030z: 14 uniques in 5 countries spotted in the last 6 hours alone!

UPDATE 1310z: Now 20 unique stations spotted in the last 6 hours. Incredible.

UPDATE 1322z: Best DX currently is PD0HCV (420km).

UPDATE 2058z: Well the last day has been extremely good on 2m FT8 (see below).

Sunspots - Thursday February 22nd 2018

Solar flux is 67 (very low) and the sunspot number zero. A=4 and K=2.

21 Feb 2018

144MHz FT8 RX

Someone suggested I try this, so I have! Impressive. 3 countries spotted in first few minutes. 144.174MHz seems to be the place to set your USB dial. The GW spotted did not get uploaded to PSK Reporter Maps. All I have is a big-wheel omni.

UPDATE 1821z: Currently 8 unique stations in 4 countries on 2m FT8 so far.  My thanks to Mike G8ALS for suggesting I try 2m FT8. Best DX is G4ALY (376km).

UPDATE 1907z: Now 9 uniques in 5 countries with best DX DF1JC (486km).

UPDATE 2224z: Now 22 unique stations in 6 countries spotted on 2m FT8 with best DX DJ6AG (689km) in central Germany. Quite amazing.

More "Grumpy Old Man" - NOT amateur radio

Today, I continued my very unscientific survey of mobile device usage by young people in Cambridge. I did 2 very unscientific surveys about 90 minutes apart counting the usage of mobile devices by unattached young people in Cambridge.

All users, I guess, are under 30 years of age. Firstly, by a considerable number, young users outnumber older users and young, single women outnumber men. In the first survey I counted 13 female users and 11 male. In the second survey I counted 9 female users and 4 male. My conclusion is still that mobile devices are used more by young women (leave me alone) than men, although the ratios are much lower than I'd previously seen. I would guess that mobile devices were used by less than 20% of young people. Although "face to face" talking is down, perhaps I should be charitable as at least some of these people were texting their friends, like.

Now for a moan: seen in the T.K.Maxx window "Always up to 60% less". What the heck does that mean? Nothing! It could mean a 1% reduction compared with the most expensive shop in 2000 or 60% reductions on John Lewis prices today. Basically it is marketing drivel and meaningless.

Moaning over.

Overnight on 630m WSPR RX

Last night I was on 630m WSPR RX. In all, 14 unique stations spotted, all European. Not brilliant.

6m MSK144 RX

Since before breakfast, I have been on 6m MSK144 RX on 50.280MHz. As yet, no spots.


All day, I am on 10m WSPR TX (500mW). If I get any reports I will be pleasantly surprised. I am only on 10m as the antenna is free.

UPDATE 1412z: No spots so far. I rechecked the PC clock is sync'd to internet time.

Sunspots - Wednesday February 21st 2018

Solar flux is 70 today and the sunspot number zero. A=5 and K=0.

20 Feb 2018

472kHz WSPR RX

This evening I am back on 472kHz WSPR RX using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. So far 10 unique spots with best DX EA5DOM (1525km).

UPDATE 2252z: Shack PC battery now charged, so PC on battery power for the night. 6 stations spotted at 2248z and 10 uniques in the last 8 minutes!

Never give up! - NOT amateur radio

This amaryllis was given up as past it. After glorious flowers last winter it was consigned to the garden.

Then there was a hint of growth, so it was re-potted and brought inside the house. Every week it gets fed and watered. It is thriving now and there is even a bud. Another 2 weeks and it could, barring disasters, be in flower.

FT818 (the real one)

Some weeks ago we heard that the FT817 was to be replaced by the FT818 and that the new model had been tested by the FCC in the USA. Since then, I have heard nothing. I was hoping for some leaks about what it will be, but nothing so far. From the FCC report it looked nothing special, although I hope I am wrong.

As I have said many times, this product should have been brought to the market years ago on the way up to the last sunspot maximum. In my view not launching it then was a marketing disaster.  If I was a Yaesu director heads would have rolled. Is their marketing department filled with kids or others who really don't know the market? No, this was total incompetence of the highest order. And that is said as a loyal Yaesu purchaser since the 1970s. I have owned the FT7, FT77, FT747 and many other Yeasu products over the years.

A lot hangs on the success of this.  They now face serious competition from SDR products, plus they will have a harder job selling it on the way to the quietest solar conditions for years. It will have to have some truly knock-out features. If I was ICOM I think seriously about launching the QRP version of the IC7300 outside of Japan. This could make a serious dent in the market of the FT818. It could even kill Yaesu for good.

Would I buy one? If you'd asked me in 2012 the answer would probably have been "yes". In 2019? Probably not, unless it really is a killer product. I suspect a lot of people are of the same mind.

I fear for the future of Yaesu. For years it was a leader, whereas now it just follows. It almost seems they have lost their way.  So, Yaesu may well be struggling. I cannot see the FT818 as the ubiquitous piece of kit the FT817 was, and still is.  If I am wrong, so be it. For the sake of Yaesu I hope I am very wrong.

If you know any more details about the real FT818, please let me know.

Chinese transceivers

These are coming thick and fast now and I suspect the Japanese are very worried.

It may still be a few years before they are a really good match, but they are coming and at prices that will undercut the big Japanese companies by some way.  Finally, the Japanese will have met their match.

Either the Japanese will leave the market altogether or they will design in Japan and make in China. Some will exit stage left, never to return, or some will decide on the latter course. My bets are on ICOM being the one company to adapt and survive. I am no expert though. Yaesu? Kenwood?  We'll soon see.

One example is the Xiegu-108G which retails well below 500 Euros. Not bad for a 20W HF portable transceiver. It already has quite good reviews. Give the Chinese a couple of years and their products will be as good as any Japanese radio, but at much lower cost.

Most things you buy say "Made in China" whatever it is, simply because their labour costs and parts costs are so low. The best we can hope for is a price war (for survival) amongst the Japanese in the short-term. The writing is on the wall for them. Either they find some way to reduce their prices or bye bye.

5 years hence? Goodness only knows.

10m FT8 RX

Yet again, I am monitoring 10m FT8, but no spots as yet today. I have been active since 0720z.

UPDATE 1356z: No spots yet.

UPDATE 1910z: Just a couple of Gs spotted all day on 10m FT8. Dire. Switching to MF RX shortly.

Sunspots - Tuesday February 20th 2018

Solar flux is 70 today and the sunspot number 0.  A=17 and K=1.

Last night on 472kHz WSPR RX

Overnight I was on 472kHz WSPR RX, this time on my compromise Marconi vertical. In all, 13 unique stations were spotted. This is fewer than on the earth-electrode "antenna" and not altogether unexpected.

19 Feb 2018

Return to 472kHz WSPR RX

As 10m was dire today, I have already QSYed to 472kHz WSPR RX. Already, quite a few stations spotted. This evening, I am using the "compromise" Marconi vertical, which really is a poor antenna for the band. The following shows the unique stations already spotted.

UPDATE 2047z: So far this evening 8 uniques spotted, although 39 unique stations spotted on 472kHz WSPR RX in the last 2 weeks.

UPDATE 2244z: At the moment I am off whilst the shack PC battery charges. It should be ready about 2300z.

Church blog updated again - NOT amateur radio

Like buses, they come along together!  It was months since the churches blog was updated and now it has been updated twice. This time I have added Chippenham (no, not the one in Wiltshire).

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

Geomagnetic storm

According to Southgate News we are experiencing a G1 geomagnetic storm, that often leads to good auroras. Maybe this is why 10m FT8 is so bad today so far.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/february/geomagnetic-storm-in-progress.htm#.Woqz1Ux2vIU

OXFAM in deep poo? - NOT amateur radio

The charity OXFAM looks like it is in deep trouble. They seem to have mishandled their operation in Haiti in 2011. It would not surprise me if they lose lots in donations.

If OXFAM people want to use prostitutes this is a private matter and OXFAM should not be involved. The negative publicity is nothing short of a disaster for them.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43107985 .

Granddaughter finding painted pebble - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday I mentioned the craze for hunting painted pebbles hidden around our village.

This is our granddaughter finding one a few days ago.

Mini-whip E-field probe

There is little doubt that I shall have to try one of these on LF and MF and possibly other bands next autumn. I have the time from now until then to find the best spot to mount one. I may buy one from PA0RDT, although I have had success in the past with my own.

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

10m FT8 RX

Since just before breakfast, I have been monitoring 10m FT8 again. No spots at all so far this morning. Mind you, this is hardly surprising looking at the solar numbers. It is also quite early. This was posted at 0940z.

UPDATE 1348z: Still no 10m FT8 spots here. Not even a G.

UPDATE 1417z: Just G4CJC (74km) so far today on 10m FT8.

Sunspots - Monday February 19th 2018

Solar flux is 69 and the sunspot number back at zero. A=14 and K=5. Yes, we are back to deteriorating solar conditions.

472kHz WSPR RX last night

17 uniques spotted last night. All EU stations and none from the USA again.

It seems I am destined not to spot USA stations with my earth-electrode "antenna" on 472kHz. This is odd, as I am hearing plenty of EU stations well off the best directions. I would have thought I'd have spotted USA stations as they are off the end of the "loop", so in the best direction.

Perhaps I should revert to my compromise Marconi, which is less good than the earth-electrode "antenna" with most stations. Mind you, the only time this season I have copied the USA on 472kHz was with the Marconi. Honestly, this is a very bad antenna!

18 Feb 2018

Back on 472kHz WSPR RX

At the moment, I am back on 472kHz WSPR RX. So far, 4 unique stations spotted.

UPDATE 1908z:  Best DX is currently LA8AV (1035km).

UPDATE 2051z: Now 5 uniques. Slow start.

UPDATE 2126z:  EA7HPM (1726km) now the best DX with 9 uniques spotted.

UPDATE 2207z: Now 11 uniques. Soon be time to go QRT temporarily whilst the shack PC battery charges.

UPDATE 2220z: Now charging the shack PC battery, so temporarily OFF. It says it will be fully charged in 47 minutes, so I'll probably go back on battery power around 2300z. My intention is to go back on battery power overnight.

Sunspot Cycle 25

Sunspots with the correct polarity for cycle 25 (the next cycle) are already starting to appear. The next minimum is likely to be 2018-2020 and the forecasts for the next maximum are not great.

See http://www.solen.info/solar/cycles1_to_present.html

Painted pebbles - NOT amateur radio

Certainly in our village, this craze has really taken off. The idea is you hide a painted stone which others search for and find. They take a photo and post it on social media (we have our own village Facebook group) and hide the stone in a different place. This is great fun for the children. We found one yesterday outside a local church.

10m FT8 RX

Since breakfast, I have been on 10m FT8 RX. So far 1 G and 2 LAs spotted.

UPDATE 1320z: 9 stations in 4 EU countries so far today. Aircraft reflections? Best DX still LA1KUA (1182km).
UPDATE 1815z:  Now 11 stations spotted on 10m FT8 today. No new spots for ages, so soon be time to QSY to 472kHz WSPR RX.

Churches blog updated - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday I updated the churches blog at https://eachurches.blogspot.co.uk/ .  Snailwell church dates from the 11th century. There are only 2 churches with round towers in Cambridgeshire , but lots in Norfolk.

Sunspots - Sunday February 18th 2018

Solar flux is 72 today and the sunspot number 12. A=12 and K=2.

472kHz WSPR RX

Last night, I was on 472kHz WSPR RX again. In all, 14 unique stations spotted, which was the same as the night before, so rather disappointing. All EU only.

February 2018 2m UKAC results published

In my very short entry I made a silly error and had points deducted. In future, I must be more careful!

See http://www.rsgbcc.org/cgi-bin/vhfresults.pl?Contest=144MHz%20UKAC&year=2018

17 Feb 2018

With the grandchildren - NOT amateur radio

Earlier today we did a trip around a few local churches.

This is me with two of our grandchildren outside Snailwell Church near Newmarket.

A promise of spring? - NOT amateur radio

There are now plenty of daffodils around now including these, which were outside Snailwell Church, near Newmarket today.

iPad App - NOT amateur radio

My wife has a new app on her iPad that makes globes and other shapes of different kinds. I think there are several different apps that will do this. You choose the pictures to use.

See http://funny.pho.to/globe/ for one example.

472kHz WSPR RX last night

With 14 unique stations (all EU) spotted on 472kHz WSPR last night, it was a slightly disappointing session. I'll try again tonight.

Sunspots - Saturday February 17th 2018

Solar flux is 71 today and the sunspot number 15.  A=11 and K=2.

10m FT8 RX

This band and mode are quite promising today. Already several EU stations spotted plus ZS6BUN (9130km).

UPDATE 1345z:  Lots of DX today on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1622z: No further DX spotted. I am beginning to think this was Es linking up with F2.

UPDATE 1907z:  No South Americans spotted. I suspect this was Es linking into F2 further south. If it was just F2, South America would have been spotted this afternoon.

16 Feb 2018

MLS bargains

Martin Lynch and Sons has some big discounts.

See  https://www.hamradio.co.uk/ .

Last night on 472kHz WSPR RX

With 20 unique stations spotted last night, it was an average night. Again, all EU stations.

UK Rally


Nantwich Civic Hall, Cheshire CW5 5DG. There is free car parking available and the doors open at 10.30am. There will be a Bring and Buy, as well as traders and an RSGB book stall. A single raffle ticket is included with the entrance programme, additional tickets can be purchased. Catering is available on site. Contact Stuart Jackson on 07880 732 534.

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

10m FT8 RX

I have been on this band and mode most of the day. A couple of Gs spotted plus 9A7JCY (1424km). Pretty quiet really.

Sunspots - Friday February 16th 2018

Solar flux is 72 today and the sunspot number 15. A-10 and K=2.

15 Feb 2018

OFCOM and Diversity

More from OFCOM on their policy on diversity.

See https://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations-and-statements/category-3/diversity-inclusion-programme-2018-2022?utm_source=updates&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dip

Some pearls:

  • build a diverse and inclusive workforce to better reflect the UK population we serve;
  • ensure diversity and inclusion are central to our work practices and culture so everyone understands, supports and is accountable for diversity; and
  • ensure the different needs and interests of all individuals are considered when carrying out our regulatory work.
Blah, blah, blah...

So, if you are black with one leg, OFCOM loves you too.

Yes, diversity is important but so is actual work and enforcement. Please, stop, twatting around and do some real work! My views. Others are quite likely to hold different views.

Chippenham Park - NOT amateur radio

We were here earlier in the week with our other grandchildren. Here is a photo of the "London" grandchildren next to 2 frog statues and one of the lakes.

Last year's - NOT amateur radio

Our amaryllis plant from last year has now really started to grow, with a bud appearing yesterday. The photo was taken this morning. Barring disasters, it should be quite big next week. This was a total surprise as we thought it wasn't going to grow! I just love watching these grow.


The BBC was forecasting aurora sightings possible in the north of Scotland tonight and Southgate News talks about a CME event hitting the earth.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/february/sunspot-explodes-hurls-cme-at-earth.htm#.WoVcdkx2vIU

10m FT8 RX

During the day today, I am monitoring 10m FT8 RX. No spots as yet, although I have not been on long.

UPDATE 1606z: Just 2 Gs spotted today so far on 10m FT8. Best DX G0OYQ (177km).

Good night on 472kHz WSPR RX

Last night was the best yet on 472kHz WSPR with 24 unique stations spotted plus one false decode. In all, 4 unique Norwegian stations spotted, but again nothing outside of Europe.

Sunspots - Thursday February 15th 2018

Solar flux is 75 today and the sunspot number is 18. A=3 and K=0.

14 Feb 2018

Now back on 472kHz WSPR RX

A few minutes ago, I returned to 472kHz WSPR RX. The shack PC is again on battery power. I'll recharge the batteries later so I can be on RX throughout the night.

UPDATE 1926z: Plenty of unique spots already this evening. Promising.
UPDATE 2005z: I seem to have got one false decode. The distance, locator, and power look all wrong.
 2018-02-14 19:46  DH1WVK  0.475672  -28  0  LR02  200  G3XBM  JO02dg  3596  228 

With the grandchildren earlier - NOT amateur radio

Today was "changeover day".  Some went home and some others arrived.

For a period in this mad house they were all here. This picture captures them now - growing up all too fast.

Amaryllis - NOT amateur radio

We have several amaryllis plants this winter including one from last year which was in the garden which seems to be growing again. It is now in the kitchen. There are no buds yet.

The one in the lounge is now doing really well with plenty of flowers on it, as the photo shows.

These are amazing plants and great fun in the winter.

UPDATE 1935z: There appears to be a bud on last year's plant.

70cm UKAC last evening

For the first time in a while, I did not go on 70cms in the activity contest. We had guests and I thought it best not to disturb them. Usually I only stay on for about 30 minutes and I come way down the scores because of my QRP and totally unsuitable antenna (a 2m halo!).

10m FT8 RX

I stayed on 10m FT8 all night rather than disturbing guests. So far, no spots since yesterday. I have recently checked clock is synced to internet time.

UPDATE 1032z: No spots yet today on 10m FT8.

UPDATE 1152z: Just a couple of Gs spotted so far today on 10m FT8.

Sunspots - Wednesday February 14th 2018

Solar flux is 75 today and the sunspot number 20. A=3 and K=0.

13 Feb 2018

70cm UKAC activity contest

Although it is unlikely I'll be able to operate because of having people staying, tonight is the February 2018 leg of the 70cm activity contest. This started at 2000z and goes on until 2230z.

Going, going, gone!

Reading Southgate News today I see that Sony is getting out of shortwave radios. As far as I know, Sony is the first Japanese manufacturer to leave HF. Sadly, I am sure others will follow including some of the big players in the Amateur Radio market.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/february/sony-likely-to-cease-production-of-shortwave-radios.htm#.WoLtvUx2vIU

10m FT8

As conditions look promising today, I am on 10m FT8 RX. Of course, we need activity as well as conditions.

UPDATE 1033z: Just G4HZW (210km) spotted so far.

UPDATE 1249z: G4CJC (74km) spotted. Only G spots today so far. No F layer, No Es.

UPDATE 2100z: No further 10m spots.

QRP Club Rendezvous

As the QRP Club has its own group these days, I tend not to publicise these sessions.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018
12:00am to 1:00am
(GMT+00:00) Europe/London

14060 +/- 
12.00 UTC QRP Rendez-Vous
14060 +/-

Sunspots - Tuesday February 13th 2018

Solar flux is 78 today and the sunspot number 26.  A=4 and K=1.

Chippenham Park

Yesterday we took our son, his wife and their children to Chippenham Park, near Cambridge. There were loads of snowdrops out as well as aconites and just a few daffodils.  Our grandson was fascinated by the ice on the lakes: he spent much of his time finding sticks to throw on the frozen water.

472kHz WSPR RX overnight

The shack PC lasted on battery power until after 0500z this morning, which is impressive. In all, 21 unique stations spotted, again all EU and none from the USA.

12 Feb 2018

472kHz WSPR RX

At about 2110z, I returned to 472kHz WSPR RX from 6m. The shack PC is on battery power which should be OK until breakfast. If there are any decent USA openings overnight, I have a reasonable chance.

UPDATE 2127z:  So far 11 uniques spotted, which is encouraging.

UPDATE 2208z:  Now 13 uniques.

Bouvet Island DXpedition - back on again?

According to Southgate News the plans to visit Bouvet Island may be resurrected.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/february/bouvet-dxpedition-rebooted.htm#.WoG4aUx2vIU .

6m FT8 RX

For about 15 minutes I have been on 6m FT8 RX. As yet, no spots.

UPDATE 1550z:  No spots since switch on.

UPDATE 2037z: Just a spot of G0JSV (54km) today. Still monitoring 6m FT8.

472kHz WSPR RX last night

My best night yet this season with 21 unique stations spotted. Again, all were EU and not a single USA station. I have yet to spot a single station outside of Europe with the earth-electrode "antenna" at this QTH. The shack PC was on batteries and this stopped just after 0300z.

Sunspots - Monday February 12th 2018

Solar flux is 77 today and the sunspot number 24. A=3 and K=2.

CSG Shop

This is Latvian online shop, but I have heard some good reports of it, although I have not (yet) used it myself. They do some good GPS kit as well as 2.4 and 5.8GHz ATV modules.

See http://www.csgshop.com/

11 Feb 2018

Back to 472kHz WSPR RX

About an hour ago I returned to 472kHz WSPR RX. So far, 9 unique stations spotted. I shall remain on until the shack PC battery turns off, which should be in the early hours.

UPDATE 2115z: Now 12 uniques spotted.

They're back - NOT amateur radio

Most of my blogs have seen visits way up today. I am sure these are not people with a sudden all absorbing interest in the things I write about. Whatever, I hope they enjoy their visits and then head off to somewhere else. Most probably bots doing a regular trawl for vulnerable sites.

So far, I have had no problems, but if this or my other blogs disappear or suddenly behave oddly you will know why.