31 Mar 2018

630m WSPR RX

As there was clearly no "real" DX on 10m FT8, I have now moved to MF WSPR RX. So far this evening, 3 uniques: 1 Spanish and 2 Norwegians.

UPDATE 2101z: Now 8 uniques spotted.

70cm FT8?

Does anyone know if there is any FT8 activity on 70cm in the EU? On the face of it, it should be similar to 2m, but I don't know if anyone is active.

See https://www.essexham.co.uk/ft8-basics-explained

6m DX in the Es season - which mode?

We are in the run-up to the Es season in the Northern Hemisphere. The best months are May-July although Es can occur at other times too.

Last Es season I kept a watching brief using JT65 and spotted some amazing 6m DX including a whole string of Japanese stations early one morning on 6m. Of course, this was before FT8 appeared on the scene.

This season I am not sure of the mode to try. Probably FT8 as the take-up on this mode has been so great.

Considering I just use a vertical V2000 omni antenna, I was very excited with the results last year.

Our local church - NOT amateur radio

This church dates back over 1000 years to Saxon times although most of the "modern" church dates from the mid 1400s. Whatever you believe, or not, this is a fine building.

It never fails to amaze me how so many fine churches were built long ago when the population was a small fraction of what it is now. These people must have had strong beliefs then or lived in constant fear of evil.

What did they expect? - NOT amateur radio

Everyone is entitled to justice, but these people deserve what? If you live by the sword do you die by the sword? They, allegedly, committed some heinous acts. Now they are asking, allegedly, for UK citizenship.

I thought UK citizenship was for people who agreed with, and lived in accordance with, UK values.

Why should the UK tax payer keep certain criminals in gaol at our expense if they, clearly, don't want to be party to the way we live?

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43601925

GB3PI logic update

As mentioned before, my antenna was used in the early days of GB3PI in the 1970s. GB3PI was the very first UK repeater. In the early days I was a regular user. I don't think I have used a repeater in the last year!

According to Southgate News the logic of this repeater is being updated early in April. Sorry, but repeaters don't "float my boat". To some, especially with internet linking, they are an important part of our hobby.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/march/new-revolutionary-logic-for-gb3pi.htm#.Wr9nDExFzIU

Return to 10m FT8 RX

This morning I returned to 10m FT8. So far, just a couple of Gs spotted. May, June, July and August should be much better with Es.

UPDATE 1134z: No further 10m FT8 spots here so far.

UPDATE 1353z: DK9WI (505km) spotted.

Sunspots - Saturday March 31st 2018

Solar flux is 68 today and the sunspot number 11. A=5 and K=2.

HF predictions

There is an online HF prediction program that allows you to input details of the TX gear/location and the RX gear/location and gives you a likelihood the path will be open or not. I have not used this before.

See www.voacap.com

Better amateur radio prices?

Every month I get a newsletter from a French company XBS Telecom. As far as I can see, they sell amateur gear, with guarantees and VAT at far below the UK prices. Certainly worth a look. With Yaesu cashback offers, these are very attractive prices.

See https://www.xbstelecom.eu/shop/en/12-ham-radio

Spectrum pollution

There is little doubt that the noise floor is increasing at LF, MF, HF and VHF. This is especially acute in towns, but even in my village you can see it is getting progressively worse. With the likelihood that electric cars will become more commonplace, things could get even worse with wireless charging.

Southgate News has a link to Don Beattie's paper all about this.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/march/the-threats-to-radiocommunication.htm#.Wr5g0ExFzIU

30 Mar 2018

QSY to 472kHz WSPR RX

About 10 minutes ago I went QRT on 28MHz and QSYed to 472kHz WSPR RX. As yet, nothing spotted.

UPDATE 2050z: 6 uniques on this band so far this evening. I shall stay on until bedtime. Still using the earth-electrode "antenna".

Eating out - NOT amateur radio

For the second time this month we ate out at a local Italian restaurant which has excellent service and a good fixed price menu. Honestly, I could not fault anything. Both my wife and I had the 3 course set menu and the photo shows her dessert (panna cotta).

Painted stones - NOT amateur radio

I have mentioned these before.

All around our village, people hide painted stones of all shapes, sizes and patterns.

We found one earlier this week (shown in the photo) and it has since been re-hidden in a new spot. Kids love it. My wife and I are just overgrown kids! The idea is to send a photo to a dedicated group and re-hide.

10m FT8 RX again today

OK, I am a sucker! Today I am again monitoring 10m FT8 RX. So far, just G4HZW (210km) spotted. Yesterday, 3 stations were spotted, all Europeans.

UPDATE 1442z: So far today 5 different G stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX, but no EU stations and no "real" DX.

UPDATE 1716z:  EA1AKS (1037km) spotted.

Sunspots - Friday March 30th 2018

Solar flux is 68 today and the sunspot number 0. A=4 and K=1

MLS Easter deals

Martin Lynch (MLS) has some deals for Easter.

See https://www.hamradio.co.uk/

SDR (Software Defined Radio) book

This is fairly recent book by Andrew Barron ZL3DW. I got my copy recently from the RSGB book shop. Having no experience with SDRs I find the book fascinating. Clearly SDRs are the future.

QRP News from Oleg

Oleg RX3G reports:

"Dear Club 72 members and friends,

600 kB of 3 pages, download -
enjoy reading # 5 issue of the "Vestnik" (March, 2018). Use Google or
other translator to read Russian texts. In the issue:
- QRP Rendez-Vous results
- QRP-X results list
- Sofa regen RX
- 455 kHz oscillator on ceres
- QRP Marathon "Look I the Horizon"
Thanks Igor R2AJA and Sergey RW3DF for assistance!

72! Oleg RX3G / KH6OB "Mr. 72"

This is a periodic Newsletter of the Club 72. Don't reply to Newsletter address! Send any requests or news to mr72@club72.su please."

29 Mar 2018

Return to 472kHz WSPR RX

After a day on 10m FT8 RX I have now returned to 630m (472kHz) WSPR RX. On 10m I also spotted an OZ early afternoon that did not get uploaded to PSKreporter.

So far, G4GIR, G8GPO and DH5RAE (995km) spotted on 472kHz WSPR this evening.

UPDATE 2106z:  6 uniques with best DX LA2XPA (1310km).

Ickworth (N.T.) lambs - NOT amateur radio

Most years around now, we visit nearby Ickworth to see the new lambs. This year, things are later, but this morning we went. Daffodils there are largely not out, but there were plenty of lambs.

Banks - NOT amateur radio

Allegedly, Barclays Bank is to pay $2billion to settle a US fraud case.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-43585546 .

Now, I am no financial expert, but I get sickened by tales of banks not behaving. I am sure Barclays is no worse than many others, but at the height of the financial crisis we bailed out many banks and probably saved the financial sector from total melt-down with taxpayers money. The least we can expect is that our banks are "whiter than white". Meanwhile, the rich get richer and nurses get no pay rises for years. To quote a famous UK politician, " we are all in this together". Oh yes? Oh no we are definitely not.

33 minutes and 3 people (2 overseas) later, I managed to contact Barclays over a query that should have been made clear in a letter I got sent. As far as I am concerned, banks have got worse in the last 40 years. Their customer service is generally crap.

OFCOM and diversity

OFCOM has just published its diversity plan until 2022.

I quote (the words are their's):

These are to:
  • 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.
Whilst diversity and inclusivity are important, I don't need OFCOM to write a darn plan!!! Instead just employ more one-legged green people to get on with enforcement, PLEASE.

10m FT8

For a change I am trying 10m FT8. Although I am not expecting much I shall be on RX all day living in hope!

UPDATE 1300z: G4HZW (210km) spotted.

UPDATE 1706z: No further 10m FT8 spots.

UPDATE 1720z: F5RD (681km) spotted.


When I was first interested in amateur radio and shortwave listening the International Shortwave League (ISWL) was a strong and important organisation. I left at the end of the 1960s when I was a poor student but re-joined years later. I wrote quite a few articles for their monthly journal "Monitor" and submitted reports most months.  Some years ago I left again as it was no longer for me.

At the end, when I left, I think there was just a core membership of a few hundred. When I left, I heard nothing - no sadness I was leaving, no thanks for being an active member - nothing. This surprised me.

I wonder how the ISWL is today? Unless they have managed to attract and keep a lot of new, younger, members I suspect this is now, mainly, an OAP club of dying old men. This would be sad as it was once vibrant and very international.

Snow - NOT amateur radio

Unlike most recent winters, this has been quite a cold one, for us. Until a few weeks ago we had some snow as the photo shows. Although it is sunny and bright at the moment, rain is expected later.

My main website

A reminder that there is a lot of information on my main website at www.g3xbm.co.uk . This includes quite a few building projects as well as details of past and present experiments. These pages get updated periodically. Most projects are not complex as I don't do "difficult".

Sunspots - Thursday March 29th 2018

Solar flux is 68 today and the sunspot number 0. A=3 and K=0.

28 Mar 2018

LF/MF chat mode?

One of the drawbacks of WSPR is that it is really a weak signal beaconing mode not really suited to chatting. Southgate News has details of a mode created in New Zealand that is aimed at LF/MF chats. It is said to be almost as good as WSPR in terms of its weak signal capability. As yet, I have not tried it.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/march/lf-mf-mode-with-synchronous-decoder.htm#.Wru5JUxFzIU

OFCOM publishes its annual plan

OFCOM has publicised its annual plan.

See https://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations-and-statements/category-1/proposed-annual-plan-2018-19

Sunspots - Wednesday March 28th 2018

Solar flux is 67 today and the sunspot number 0. A=9 and K=1.

2m FT8

After a very brief period on TX calling CQ (3 spots with best DX G4RRA (334km) in Devon) on 2m FT8, I have returned to RX only. As usual, I am using 2.5W to an omnidirectional horizontal big-wheel antenna. No spots yet on RX. I have only been on for a few minutes so far.

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

UPDATE 0940z: So far just one spot on RX ON8NT (252km).

UPDATE 1145z: 12 uniques in 3 countries so far today on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1604z: Now 33 uniques in 5 countries om 2m FT8 RX today.

UPDATE 2108z: In the end, 47 uniques spotted in 5 countries. Time to go QRT now.  I definitely get the impression that people now know what can be done under flat conditions on 2m FT8 and are moving away. I suspect 6m FT8 activity will increase during the Es season. I suspect FT8 will supersede JT65.

Free range breakfast - NOT amateur radio

In the last few days we had a short visit from our son and family in Kent.

Our grandson brought some of the free range eggs from the chickens they keep.

The photo shows me enjoying one for breakfast.

South Devon - NOT amateur radio

Where I originate from in South Devon is a beautiful, unspoilt part. There are some great cliff walks. We have an unbroken family tree hereabouts back to the mid 1500s and one record of land ownership here in 1428. In all probability my ancestors were here thousands of years ago.

UK Weather - NOT amateur radio

At my recent U3AC course in Cambridge on "Weather and Climate" we always started the sessions with the Met Office surface pressure charts. These can be animated so you can see the pressure map and fronts coming our way over the following few days.

See https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/surface-pressure/#?tab=surfacePressureColour&fcTime=1522108800

Actually there is a lot more data on the Met Office site, which is worth exploring.

472kHz - getting started

I have had a great deal of fun on 472kHz even with a very low ERP (10mW ERP). Most nights I run my shack PC on batteries as the SMPSU charging the laptop battery produces an S7 noise floor. Most nights I am spotted in Norway on WSPR. On RX, the PC is good for most of the night on batteries. I use my simple 472kHz transverter (10-15W into 50 ohms) that has been in QST and the RSGB book "LF Today". It is a very interesting band even if your antennas are, like mine, really useless for MF. Compromise antennas really do work!

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/mflf/472khz_tvtr

27 Mar 2018

2m FT8 RX yet again

Yet again, I am on 2m FT8 RX. Although only 0804z I have spotted 6 unique stations in 3 countries already.

UPDATE 1108z: I suspect something is wrong with PSKreporter or my shack PC has not been connecting to the internet as it is now showing fewer stations than before!

UPDATE 1200z: Well I turned off the shack PCB and reset the clock and all seems to be well, now at least. Now 7 uniques spotted in 4 countries in the last 6 hours.

UPDATE 1532z: Every time I put out a CQ call on 2m FT8 I get spotted by G4RRA (334km) in Devon.  Every time, despite 2.5W and my big-wheel omni antenna. 2m FT8 really gets me unimaginable distances.

UPDATE 1820z: Now 35 uniques in 6 countries.

UPDATE 2025z: 45 uniques in 6 countries with best DX spotted DK0IZ (642km) north of Hamburg. I am beginning to wonder if 2m FT8 has peaked. There were fewer stations spotted today, so perhaps people now know what is possible and are looking elsewhere?

Sunspots - Tuesday March 27th 2018

Solar flux is 67 today and the sunspot number zero still. A=12 and K=3.

Stroke update - NOT amateur radio

Not much seems to have changed recently, so this update still applies.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/stroke

Painted rocks - NOT amateur radio

I may have mentioned this before, but there is a craze for finding painted pebbles in our village. They may be found anywhere. The idea is to find one, post a photo on a Facebook, then re-hide it.

My grandson found one yesterday as the photo shows. It has been re-hidden in a different place. It is especially popular with children.

26 Mar 2018

Virtual Amateur Radio

This has never really "floated my boat", but it may appeal to some especially when HF conditions are poor.  Also, if you just want to chat this may appeal. Unlike "real" radio, this does not need real transceivers or HF propagation. Instead the "bearer" is the internet.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/virtual .

Sunspots - Monday March 26th 2018

Solar flux is 68 and the sunspot number zero still. A=16 and K=3.

On 2m FT8 again

This mode/band never fails. Although only 0934z I have already spotted 16 unique stations in 4 countries. A recent TX period (2.5W) resulted in a couple of spots with the best being in Devon.

UPDATE 1910z: 62 uniques in 7 countries so far today on 2m FT8.

UPDATE 2112z: 71 uniques in 7 countries currently on 2m FT8 today.

25 Mar 2018

BST and GMT - NOT amateur radio

It will take me a while to realise GMT is 1 hour different from BST. Already I have had to correct a posting on this blog!

Philosophical questions - NOT amateur radio

These sort of questions have been mentioned here before.  As one get older, I guess thoughts turn to our finiteness more and more.

Those with a religious belief probably believe in some sort of continuity after death in a form we cannot understand. Some believe we just cease to exist: we were not aware of life before we were born, so why worry about death?

I guess the truth is we just do not know. With quantum physics and multiverses, it is a brave person who says he/she knows. My own view is all religions are struggles to come to terms with our finiteness.  None is probably right, but all hint at a deeper meaning.

If we have a faith at all, what we believe is largely an accident of where we were born. If in the UK or USA were probably more likely to be Christian, whereas if we were born in India we are more likely to be Hindu. There are 1.03 billion Hindus in the world!

It probably hinges on whether or not we believe existence "exists" beyond our own minds. One thing is certain: we all die and we all struggle with our finiteness.

The rise and rise of FT8

There is no doubt in my mind that FT8 has been phenomenal. 

Every day this new digital mode seems to attract more and more people. It works with the briefest of openings and the software needed is free. It takes up about 60Hz only and works with weak signals. On a recent (rare for me) visit to 20m, DX from all over the world was spotted.

Even on 2m VHF, most days I spot signals from all over western Europe under flat conditions even with my omni antenna.

What will the Es season bring on 6m this year with this mode?

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/hf-ft8

Slow decline?

It has been my view for some time that amateur radio is in a slow decline.

Recent figures of licenced amateurs in India on Southgate News paints a mixed picture. Although there quite a few new licences, the number of renewals indicates a gradual decline, on average. In the UK most radio amateurs are older men. Yes, there are exceptions, but unless more young people are attracted and retained, the hobby will be in terminal decline. As the market shrinks there will be fewer products, fewer magazines and fewer adverts. The future is in our hands.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/march/india-releases-ham-radio-license-figures.htm#.WrdqxUxFzIU

Sunspots - Sunday March 25th 2018

Solar flux is 68 today and the sunspot number still zero. A=9 and K=4.

Auction of Promises - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday our local WI held an "Auction of Promises". They must have made thousands for local defibrillators. The auctioneer was David Palmer who is a famous UK TV personality on the programme "Bargain Hunt". He was good and funny. The place was really really packed. It was a good village event.

2m FT8

Same pattern as yesterday. After a brief TX period (2.5W, omni antenna). 4 spots, but no QSOs. Best DX on TX was GW6TEO (371km).  On RX 14 uniques in 6 countries already at 0945z.

Most days at least one person has their QTH locator showing them in the middle of the sea. Today we have someone who thinks he is in the middle of the English Channel! I expect he will soon realise his mistake.

UPDATE 0937z: 23 uniques in 6 countries currently.

UPDATE 1035z: 40 uniques in 6 countries.

UPDATE 1230z: Well we still have 2 stations on 2m FT8 with webbed feet. One is in the North Sea and one in the English Channel 😕. Now 46 uniques in 6 countries in last 6 hours on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1938z: Now 92 uniques in 8 countries in just the last 12 hours on 2m FT8. And these are flat conditions. Best DX on 2m FT8 RX is DK2DTF (644km). Unbelievable.

UPDATE 2017z: Now 94 uniques in 9 countries in last 12 hours. Incredible.

24 Mar 2018

ICOM D-star portable

Southgate News has links to the new ICOM portable that comes loaded with digital D-Star and analogue repeaters. It has GPS built-in and a micro-SD card. Perhaps I am odd, but repeaters and D-star have never really appealed to me. With D-star you can talk to others across the globe with internet linking, but to me this is no great fun. It appeals to some. Years ago I was a regular user on GB3PI, which was the very first UK repeater. I even donated an antenna!

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/march/icom-id-31e-plus.htm#.WrbLokx2vIU

Village Cafe - NOT amateur radio

This café opened in our village a few months ago. It is well located and appears to be doing well.

View - NOT amateur radio

This is the view from our lounge. The 200 year old windmill is on the left. The buildings behind it are our local museum.

2m FT8

Once again, I am on 2m FT8. After a brief period on TX calling CQ (no replies, but spotted by a couple of Gs), I am now RX again. At the moment (0952z) I have received 24 unique stations in 6 countries already.

UPDATE 1242z: Currently 43 uniques in 6 countries in the last 6 hours.

UPDATE 1550z: Now 63 uniques in 7 countries today alone on 2m FT8. This mode is getting more popular daily. It is good to see so much activity in flat conditions.

UPDATE 1742z: Now an amazing 76 uniques in 7 countries already.

UPDATE 2146z: Currently 81 unique stations in 7 countries. Remember these are flat conditions and with just an omni antenna!!

British Summer Time - NOT amateur radio

British Summer Time (BST) starts tonight. This seems hard to believe after (what for us) has been a hardish winter. Some parts may even see snow over Easter. As far as I am concerned this news about BST is great. Evenings get 1 hour lighter and I do not care about the mornings.

We lose 1 hour of sleep tonight when the clocks go forward.

Sunspots - Saturday March 24th 2018

Solar flux is 67 today and the sunspot number zero. A=16 and K=2.

23 Mar 2018

472kHz WSPR RX

For about an hour now, I have been on 472kHz WSPR RX.  So far 6 unique stations spotted with best DX EA3AER (1142km).

UPDATE 2218z: So far this evening 8 unique stations spotted on 472kHz WSPR using the earth-electrode "antenna".

QRP Marathon in April

This came in from Oleg today:

Dear QRPers,
after a week, from 1'st to 30'th April annually QRP Marathon "Look In
the Horizon" have a place. Remind rules on the Club 72 (club72.su) web
page, please. Registration form will be open in 00.01 UTC April 1'st.
Check-in and add your QSOs on the on-line form daily.
Have enjoy and wish you all good "Luk" collection!

72! Oleg RX3G / KH6OB "Mr. 72"

More rallies


Callington Town Hall, Callington, Cornwall PL17 7BD. Doors open at 10am and admittance is £2.00. There will be a Bring & Buy and trade stands. Catering available on-site. Ample free parking in the adjacent carpark. Rally organised jointly by the Devon & Cornwall Repeater Group and Callington Amateur Radio Society (CARS). More information and bookings from Roger on 07854 088882 or email 2e0rph@gmail.com.

The Callington rally was the first rally I ever attended back in the 1960s. I went with a fellow SWL called Derek Wilson.  At the time I coveted a Heathkit Twoer. Must have been 1966?


Wythall House, Silver Street, Wythall B47 6LZ. Doors open at 10am with access for disabled visitors from approximately 9:30am. Free on-site parking is available. Admission £4.50 with 4 separate halls of traders including club stands and a Bring & Buy. Information from Ian Reeve on 01386 839655 or by e-mail to wrc4hallsradio@outlook.com [http://www.wythallradioclub.co.uk].


Bushmills Community Centre, 14 Dunluce Road BT57 8QG. Doors open from 11am to 4pm with disabled guests gaining access at 10.45am. Admittance is £3. There is on-site parking and on-site disabled parking. Light refreshments available ie tea, coffee, sausage rolls sandwiches, etc. There will be a Bring & Buy, RSGB Book Stall and trade stands. Stevie Morrow, MI0ULK, 07544 923 956, CausewayCoast_GlensARC@yahoo.co.uk.

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

Trade war? - NOT amateur radio

Although I understand President Trump's wish to impose heavy tariffs on steel imported at knock-down prices from China, he must know the Chinese will likely retaliate against the USA. A trade war could follow.

As many in the USA could lose jobs as are gained in the steel industry. He is treading a very dangerous path. Those "adding value" in the USA (such as car manufacturers) will have to bear higher costs with steel costing more.

There is no guarantee that the republicans will come out on top in the mid term elections in the USA later in the year. We have to be very careful and realise we live in a very interconnected world these days. The USA does not, and cannot, live in splendid isolation.

We cannot turn clocks back to the 1950s in the USA or the UK. This is 2018 and not 1952.

2m FT8

Since just before breakfast, I have been on 2m FT8. After a very brief TX period (2.5W to my omni) in which I was copied in Devon, I have been mainly on RX. So far 16 unique stations spotted in 6 countries and it is only 1005z.

UPDATE 1310z:  Currently 32 unique stations in 7 countries spotted today on 2m FT8.

UPDATE 1455z: The score is currently 35 uniques in 7 countries. A few minutes ago I called CQ but got no replies, although I was spotted by 3 Gs (best DX 334km - not bad for 2.5W and an omni!).

UPDATE 1604z: Now 39 uniques in 7 countries. A brief TX period was disappointing with just 2 people spotting me, with the best DX just 80km.

UPDATE 1704z: Now 45 uniques in 7 countries spotted on 2m FT8 RX today.

Sunspots - Friday March 23rd 2018

Solar flux is 67 today and the sunspot number still zero. A=7 and K=3. Not promising!

22 Mar 2018

Indoor 160m antenna

At the old QTH I was looking for a 160m antenna so I made this one in the loft. It worked very well. This was several years ago.

Sadly, since then, the local noise level has gradually crept upwards.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/160m_loft_ant  .

Home QTH

This is a view of the QTH. The orchard is in a neighbour's garden. Most years, these trees are laden with apples and plums. All my antennas are not visible. My earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground is in the back garden.

Bank incompetence - NOT amateur radio

My father-in-law would have turned in his grave.

Yesterday, because a bank letter was unclear, I needed to contact my bank. 33 minutes later and 3 people later, I got my answer. 2 of these people were overseas. Not one knew who I was. A clearer letter would have made this call totally unnecessary.  Could they write this basic data in the letter? No -  idiots.

This week, also, we went into a different bank to close 2 accounts that managed to lose money! Then they wrote a letter to say they could not verify the bank details into which funds should be paid. Thankfully, they enclosed a first class stamped envelope. Whilst in the branch all details could have been verified. Again, idiots.

Why would my father-in-law turn in his grave? Because, years ago, banks were personal, you could ring your local branch and bank officials were respected. Now you are just a number in a call centre overseas. I suspect most bank staff have, maybe, a training in domestic studies or football. Most appear to know nothing about banking. Most seem stupid and incompetent.

Maybe I am just a grumpy old man, but is it really too much to ask for a decent, competent and personal service? Every bank, it seems, makes billions in profits. Maybe they should try harder at making customers feeling more valued. They could start with their staff.



Millennium Memorial Hall, Clifton Street, Laugharne SA33 4QG. Doors open 10am with disabled visitors gaining access at 9.45am. Entry is £3. Matthew, 07936 152 846, Matthew.twyman63@btinternet.com.

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

Laugharne is in Wales.

OFCOM and mobile phone repeaters

Some mobile phone repeaters will be licence free in future.

See http://ofcom.cmail20.com/t/ViewEmail/i/5543AFE536DFD1E52540EF23F30FEDED/59D1BD3EA2F08127C67FD2F38AC4859C

Hacking? - NOT amateur radio

For a while now, my own blogs appear to have not been the targets of hackers.

Meanwhile, far more important systems are vulnerable to cyber attacks such as the NHS, banks and our fuel infrastructure. No doubt our "back room boys" in MI5 and GCHQ and the like are keeping a more watchful eye after the nerve gas attacks in Salisbury on an ex Russian spy and his daughter.

There is little doubt that cyber warfare is a real danger to any nation these days.

2m FT8

After yesterday's success with in excess of 77 stations spotted in 10 countries, I am again active on 2m FT8. A couple of brief TX periods (2.5W to my omnidirectional antenna) resulted in spots from as far away as Pembrokeshire and Devon. On RX, I have (so far) spotted 15 unique stations in 5 countries.

UPDATE 1041z:  For the first time I used the "auto sequence" feature in WSJT-X V1.9 to have a QSO with G8ALS (127km). Still 2.5W to the omni antenna here. In all,7 stations have spotted me today on TX.  My "score" today is 22 uniques in 6 countries on 2m FT8. Of course, to spot a station only needs 15 seconds of opening (maybe less as I am no expert!), so even the briefest opening gets spotted.

UPDATE 1230z: Now 25 uniques in 6 countries spotted today on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1600z: Now 44 uniques in 8 countries today, so far, on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1632z: Now 45 uniques today. A couple of stations seem unable to get their QTH locators right - either that or they like swimming in the North Sea. I suspect it is the former!

UPDATE 1720z: A very easy QSO with G8NRY (158km) in IO93 square. He answered my CQ call. 2.5W to my omni antenna on 2m FT8.

UPDATE 2050z:   The map shows where my 2.5W (into an omnidirectional antenna) was copied in the last few hours on 2m FT8.

Sunspots - Thursday March 22nd 2018

Solar flux is 68 today and the sunspot number remains zero. A=4 and K=1.

21 Mar 2018

MLS Open Day to demonstrate IC7610

Although well outside of my price bracket, you may be interested in this special demonstration day featuring the ICOM IC7610 transceiver. At just under £3.5k, there is no way I am ever going to get one unless Father Christmas decides I have been a very good boy and comes in April! Even the PSU is just under £500, which to me is silly money. As I have said before, each to their own when it comes to disposable income. Some spend silly money on other hobbies and I am not one to judge.

See https://www.hamradio.co.uk/amateur-radio-base-station-radio-icom-base-station-radio/icom/icom-ic-7610-now-in-stock-pd-7032.php

Hidden disabilities - NOT amateur radio

Like many, since my stroke in 2013 I have had a hidden disability. Many say, "you do look well" or similar. Indeed to most people I look just fine.

What few realise is that for over 4 years I have felt unbelievably giddy when on my feet. Looking up is dreadful for me. It is like being permanently drunk. Just walking along a pavement (sidewalk) can be troublesome. Crossing a roads is a nightmare. Rushing along is now very hard. Add to that my voice is now very poor. Just chatting is now much harder to the point that I rarely start a chat because others will probably not understand. I'll have to repeat myself, which is exhausting.

Others too may have impairments that are hidden, making people think there is nothing wrong. To coin a well known expression, "never judge a book by its cover". Other people may well be fighting a battle inside that we cannot see or experience. Never, ever, under-estimate the struggles others may have to deal with.

One thing I have learnt is never judge others. Inside they may be having a very rough time, be it physical or mental.

Overnight on 472kHz WSPR

Last night, I stayed on 472kHz WSPR RX until the battery in the shack PC "died". This happened a little after 0310z. No new stations were spotted after I went to bed. In all, 12 unique stations were spotted using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.

Sunspots - Wednesday March 21st 2018

Solar flux is 69 today and the sunspot number zero. A=8 and K=2.

2m FT8

Just before breakfast I went on 2m FT8 RX, after a few minutes on TX during which short time my 2.5W was spotted by 3 stations.

Up to now (it is only 0908z) I have spotted 16 unique stations in 5 countries. Best DX on RX is EI3KD (583km).

UPDATE 1202z: Already 35 uniques spotted in 6 countries on 2m FT8 RX since breakfast.

UPDATE 1635z: Now 42 uniques in 6 countries with best DX OZ1BEF (721km) in central Jutland, Denmark.

UPDATE 2028z: 64 uniques in 9 countries. What a day!!

20 Mar 2018

472kHz WSPR RX

For the last hour I have been charging the shack PC's battery, so that I can operate on PC battery power this evening. Unbeknown, I had the 472kHz RX connected, even though the noise floor would have been high. Remarkably, 5 unique stations were spotted with the best DX LA2XPA (1310km). I am now operating on battery power with a lower noise floor for the rest of the evening.

UPDATE 2306z: 12 uniques so far. I'll leave things running until the PC battery dies,which should be about 0300z. I doubt I'll spot much more though.

10m FT8 RX

Since just after breakfast, I have been on 28MHz (10m) FT8 RX. Only 2 stations spotted with best DX 9A7JCY (1424km).

UPDATE 1930z: As well as a few EU stations I spotted a couple of Brazilians and VP8LP (12773km) in the Falkland Is on 10m FT8 today. Oh, by the way, the sunspot number is zero!

UPDATE 2012z: Wonder what antenna other people recommend for 10m? Presently I am just using a low Par triband end fed, which is not ideal on 10m. Some have recommended the Solacon I-MAX 2000, which is a CB 5/8 vertical.

Cottage - NOT amateur radio

There are quite a few old houses in our village. The oldest dates back to the 12th century, I think. This cottage is probably much younger - maybe 100 years old. Nonetheless, it is quite fine.

OFCOM - again about auctions!

Why do they spend so much time and effort telling us this again and again?

See http://ofcom.cmail19.com/t/ViewEmail/i/05E79BE1B139A0112540EF23F30FEDED/59D1BD3EA2F08127C67FD2F38AC4859C

In my mind they should work a bit harder on actual enforcement and less on dribble.  As I have said many times, we live in a democracy and others may have totally different views. This is my personal view.

What I see is the law being flouted and little being done to make sure those who break the law are tracked down. I am thinking of dirty SMPSUs and similar.

In the days of the GPO they actually enforced the laws and were less bothered about auctions. Yes, my blood is boiling. All we seem to be driven by these days is money and how to make it. Nothing else, it would appear, matters. Meanwhile, Rome burns.

472kHz (630m) WSPR last evening

Until bedtime, I was monitoring 472kHz WSPR RX.  In all, 14 uniques spotted, although no new stations that I'd not spotted before. Once again, I was using my earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.

4m (70MHz) band

For some time now I have been after a new challenge. A band I have hardly tried is 4m.

At the moment I have no 4m antennas and my QRP transverter is somewhere! The transverter has not been seen since we moved shortly before my 2013 stroke. It may be somewhere in a box in the loft.

4m sounds like a good band to try as I should be able to work by Es all the EUs allowed access. Also, much of the UK should be workable under normal conditions with a halo and say, 20W SSB. I guess all the UK would be possible with just a few watts on FT8.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/4m_tvtr .

Sunspots - Tuesday March 20th 2018

Solar flux is 69 today and the sunspot number 0. A=16 and K=1

19 Mar 2018


This winter, I went on 137kHz WSPR RX for the first time at this QTH. I used my earth-electrode antenna in the ground. Really, I ought to try TXing from this QTH. One possibility is my TX transverter on my website (see schematic). I used this at the old QTH before my 2013 stroke with best DX 250km.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/mflf/137khz_tvrtr

Daytime 472kHz

For about 20 minutes now, I have been on 472kHz WSPR RX in the daylight. So far just several spots of G8GPO (36km) and one of  PA3ABK (306km).

UPDATE 1944z: LA2XPA (1340km) is the best DX spotted so far. 8 uniques so far today.

Trumped? - NOT amateur radio

Someone I know works for Qualcomm in California. Apparently President Trump was worried by a possible takeover by Broadcom of Singapore. They have now withdrawn their offer I understand according to the BBC.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-43401675 .

472kHz WSPR RX last night

Yesterday evening I was on 630m (472kHz) WSPR RX. In all, 9 unique stations spotted, although I went QRT at bedtime and did not look overnight.

King's - NOT amateur radio

Living near Cambridge, we see many famous places that people travel the world to see. We can get in free too. One such is the world famous King's College Chapel shown here.

Sunspots - Monday March 19th 2018

Solar flux is 69 today and the sunspot number 13. A=25 and K=4.

18 Mar 2018

Friedrichshafen - June 2018

Although I have never been, this "rally" in Germany is probably the biggest in Europe.  It is often the place where new products are introduced to Europe for the first time. I expect Yaesu will have the underwhelming FT818 there. WiMo will not be there sadly. Perhaps ICOM will announce a new product? The other "big one" is in the USA at Dayton, Ohio. Again, I have never been.

See http://www.hamradio-friedrichshafen.de/ham-en/

630m (472kHz) WSPR RX

A few minutes ago I went QRT on 2m FT8 RX and switched to 630m WSPR RX. To be honest, I now know what 2m FT8 can do and I need a new challenge!

UPDATE 1920z: So far this evening 6 uniques with best DX spotted here HF7A (1294km).

UPDATE 2008z: Now 9 uniques spotted.

Super 6m DX

A reminder than 6m propagation often extends far further than traditional 1 or 2 hop Es. Last summer, even with a modest V2000 vertical I spotted Japanese stations on 6m JT65 many times. I am not a great believer that many of these very long 6m paths are due to multi-hop Es. This may account for some, but not all. Personally I think some other mechanism is at work. One example is reflections due to noctilucent clouds. Maybe we are seeing some sort of chordal hop E layer propagation. There is much we do not know.

I guess next Es season the best mode will be FT8. I shall certainly be monitoring this band/mode.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/noctilucent .

That nerve agent - NOT amateur radio

Although the "considered opinion" is that Russia was behind the nerve agent attack in the UK recently, nagging doubts remain. If we could totally trust our government, I might feel differently.

As it is, we need independent proof that this was definitely Russia and not the UK out to cause mischief. One could argue that the Russians would not be stupid to use a nerve agent clearly with Russian origins. On the other hand, Russia does not exactly have a "whiter than white" record.

But, we have to remember that history often shows we are not always whiter than white. Propaganda is a murky affair: one can never be totally sure who is telling the truth. In reality both the Russians and the UK will have secret agendas and the true story is probably hard to discern.

One thing is likely: the Russians will attempt a cyber attack on the UK in the coming days. If nothing else, this is a perfect excuse. Watch out NHS, National Grid and banks.

Es Season and 10m

It seems scarcely possible, but the northern hemisphere Es (sporadic-E) season will soon be here again. Bands like 10m, 6m, and to a lesser extent 4m and 2m bring in DX from distant places.

If you don't have a suitable antenna, may I suggest my Homebase-10 antenna? 

Although designed for 10m, it can easily be scaled for other bands like 6m or 4m. It is basically a wire halo made from readily available material. It has a near omnidirectional horizontal pattern and is ideal for Es. I have worked the world with mine and all across Europe with 50mW CW, in the days before FT8 and WSPR.

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