31 May 2018

Missed again

It looks like the heavy storms of thunder and lightning have missed us again. At the moment the worst storms are tracking westwards and well to the south of us. I can't say I am sorry.

See https://www.lightningmaps.org/blitzortung/europe/index.php?lang=en

Red kite - NOT amateur radio

A sight I thought I would never see - a red kite (bird) flying over our home in East Anglia. At one time this would have been extremely rare, but in the last few months I have seen a little egret and a red kite overhead. 

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

Flowers - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday an old friend was 70. When we called, we had to take a photo of the clematis and roses by her front door. They always have great roses in their front garden.

Solar cycle 25

All the predictions that I have seen point to a peak not better than the last one, and possibly lower. In recent weeks we have seen a slight improvement in solar flux and sunspot numbers. However, do not get your hopes up. The minimum is probably 2019 or 2020 and this may just be a small "blip". On average, expect things to get worse for a few years yet. Of course, the 11 years for a solar cycle is just an average, so we might start the next solar cycle sooner or later.


Since just before breakfast, my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon has been on (100% TX, randomised frequencies). Already several spots by EA8BFK (2880km) in the Canary Is.. My current 10m antenna is not brilliant. EA6GF (1428km) spotted me this afternoon.

Sunspots - Thursday May 31st 2018

Solar flux is 74 and the sunspot number 18. A=4 and K=2.

Early 6m success

D41CV (4518km) in the Cape Verde Islands and lots of others have already been spotted this morning on 6m FT8 RX. It is only 0858z!   Could this be the day I spot some transatlantic DX on 6m?

A very early brief CQ call was spotted by 3 Gs. This was before breakfast.

Already 24 stations in 6 countries spotted on 6m FT8.

UPDATE 1732z: So far today on 6m FT8 RX, 88 stations in 16 countries.

30 May 2018

82Hz (yes Hertz!) signal received in Tasmania

Edgar, in Moonah, Tasmania, Australia has received the Russian station, located on the Kola Peninsula on 82Hz. I believe this station sends coded messages to submerged Russian nuclear subs. It is a very long way. Mind you, Edgar is not lurking on the sea bed!

Building kit

Only this lunchtime my XYL asked when I was going to build something in my shack. Since my 2013 stroke, I managed to build a Chinese Pixie kit (worked first time) and repair my 472kHz transverter (changed the MOSFET), although things are much harder for me these days.

Actually, I think I need to try to build more: it is good therapy and probably will help me. I have to come to terms with how I am now, but still battle to make the best of things.

I fancy trying a mcHF or uBITX kit, but will this be beyond me now?

Any suggestions for what I should try?

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

Friedrichshafen reminder


Messe, Friedrichshafen, Germany. Trade stands, special interest groups and IARU Member Societies all have stands in the main hall. Large flea market. Lectures take place each day, some in English. There will be a large RSGB book stall. www.hamradio-friedrichshafen.de.

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


Yet again I am on 10m WSPR TX (500mW, 100% TX, randomised frequencies). As yet, no spots received today.

Optical DXing

Since my 2013 stroke I have not felt fit enough to do field work. I really miss my 481THz over the horizon NLOS (non line of sight) optical work.

Testing the optical kit
The results back in 2013 suggested much further would have been possible NLOS. All the gear was home made and the experiments were fun. Sadly I am just too wobbly these days.

It would be good to try infra-red frequencies. What amazed me was the total lack of a visible signal, yet perfect decode using QRSS3 on the PC on a very non line of sight path over the horizon.

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

6m FT8 RX

Since just before breakfast, I have been on 6m FT8 RX. Some people hate this mode and I can quite understand why.

It is not a mode for chatting (unlike SSB, FM and AM) with "quick fire" formulaic QSOs.  But it works with quite weak signals and in my condition it means I can monitor what I am spotting whilst doing other things.

On 2m FT8 I can spot DX every day which I just wouldn't believe possible a few months ago. Who needs lifts? With FT8 I can spot DX anyway. Most times when I go on 2m FT8 TX with 2.5W and a big-wheel omni I get spotted over 300km.

So far today (it is now 0844z) just 5 Gs spotted and no sign here yet of 6m Es.

UPDATE 1052z:  10 Gs and one ON spotted so far today. No Es here yet on 6m FT8.

UPDATE 1309z: Now 15 stations in 4 countries. Best DX is SP2DDV (1177km) probably Es.

UPDATE 1923z: As yet, no DX outside Europe and North Africa on 6m FT8 RX here today. Best DX is (again) S01WS (3043km) in Western Sahara. 54 stations in 10 countries so far today on 6m FT8 RX.

Storm Gazing - NOT amateur radio

This weekend we had some of our grandchildren here. One was particularly Interested in the maps showing where storms are currently.

See https://www.lightningmaps.org/blitzortung/europe/index.php?lang=en

Sunspots - Wednesday May 30th 2018

Solar flux is 73 again and the sunspot number 22. A=4 and K=1.

29 May 2018

6m FT8 thought why I'm not spotting NA

Perhaps the lack of North Americans being spotted on 6m FT8 is in part due to them being on different frequencies? Most days I monitor 50.313MHz FT8, but I believe different frequencies may be favoured "across the pond". FT8 is less good (I think) than JT65, so maybe that is not helping too. For now, I'll carry on looking at 50.313MHz FT8 RX.

NOTE May 30th 2018: Someone has told me today that 50.313MHz is still the preferred FT8 frequency in the USA.

IARU and threats to VHF and up

Southgate News has an article about the threat to our higher bands written by the IARU Region 1. Personally, I think the threat in the UK and Europe is mainly to our microwave bands. Recently great swathes of lower VHF has been made available to amateurs in Eire and in the UK OFCOM has released 2MHz total at 4m and 2m.

See http://www.iaru-r1.org/index.php/vhfuhsshf/newsletters .

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral - NOT amateur radio

My wife told me to watch a TV programme called "Flog It" as it included a piece on Liverpool's catholic cathedral.

When I was at university this had just been finished. Inside it is a sea of colour. Outside it is (perhaps) uninspiring and some call it "Paddy's Wigwam". Inside it feels very calming. I like it.

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

Human Consciousness - NOT amateur radio

Opinions differ about what happens when we die.

Some say human consciousness just ceases and we know nothing. Those of several religious persuasions say "something" lives on. Perhaps all religions are attempts to make sense of our lives? Honestly, I am not sure.

What I am sure about is our attempts to understand are futile.  We are human and fallible.

Logic says we just cease to exist. Maybe.

Several events in the last year have made me less religious: all the evidence points to human cruelty and randomness.

And yet.....

6m FT8 RX only

For a while now, I have been on 6m FT8 RX. Quite a few Es spots around Europe, but nothing further afield as yet apart from a 7X2 on the North African coast.

UPDATE 1324z: 29 unique stations in 7 countries and 2 continents so far today spotted on 6m FT8 RX.

Stations spotted on 6m FT8 
RX to 1415z today
UPDATE 1410z: Now 10 countries spotted.

UPDATE 1900z: Now 27 countries spotted today on 6m FT8 RX.


For the last few hours, I have had my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon on. Quite a few spots fron Germany.

UPDATE 1716z: FY5KE (7110km) is the best DX today. This station spotted my 10m 500mW at 1650z. 8 different stations have spotted my little 10m WSPR beacon today so far.

Catching - NOT amateur radio

This was our younger grandson yesterday. He has good hand-eye co-ordination and is already a good cricketer. He is now nine years old.

Sunspots - Tuesday May 29th 2018

Solar flux is 77 and the sunspot number 20. A=4 and K=2.

In recent days the solar flux and sunspot number have been higher than expected.  We are on the slow descent to the next minimum and such "blips" are to be expected. We are likely to be "on the way down" until 2020 or later.

28 May 2018

Selfless heroism - NOT amateur radio

How good to see how someone showing selfless heroism gets in the news and how he is justly rewarded. Well done that man!

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-44275776 .

Is the Yaesu FT818 just a stop-gap?

Recently Yaesu introduced the successor to the hugely successful FT817. Like many, I was seriously underwhelmed: this was a huge disappointment. One could be forgiven for thinking this was more about Yaesu dealing with component obsolescence than meeting market needs.

Being charitable, perhaps Yaesu is working on a real FT817 successor with the features people really want. Less charitably, Yaesu is broke and trying to do developments on the cheap. I sincerely hope the former!

In recent times Yaesu seems to be drifting. I have owned lots of Yaesu rigs and it they are going to fail this would be a great pity.


Well I have been active of about an hour (500mW, 100% TX, randomised frequencies) with just EA8BFK (2880km) spotting me so far.

UPDATE 2005z: So far, 22 unique stations spotted me today. QRT soon.

6m FT8

Yet again, I am on 6m FT8, starting at about 0845z. After  a few CQ calls at 2.5W (2 G spots received) I have been RX only. So far, 9 stations in 3 countries.

UPDATE 1406z: 50 unique stations, 9 countries, 2 continents so far today on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 2110z: I have lost count of the different stations spotted on 6m FT8 today, but 31 countries in 3 continents on 6m FT8 RX today.

Sunspots - Monday May 28th 2018

Solar flux is 75 today and the sunspot number 27. A=4 and K=1

27 May 2018

Weather forecasts - NOT amateur radio

So, if you do not like "grumpy old man" rants look away.

Yesterday, the BBC weather forecast had heavy clouds and a 70% chance of rain. The Met Office forecast said dry, sunny and light clouds. In the end I cut my front lawn and hedge yesterday afternoon.

OK, I know the UK weather is hard to predict, but honestly, you simply could not use the forecasts as they were so different.

This morning it was supposed to be dark clouds and thunder. We had light cloud, sun and warm!

It bugs me that we simply do not know. I reckon they have a phone call and say, "you say this and we'll say that. One of us is bound to be right".😀

60m in South Africa

Southgate News reports that South Africa has allocated 100kHz to amateurs at 5MHz. This is excellent and enlightened spectrum allocation.  Of course this is secondary and strictly on a non-interference basis. Wouldn't it be good if CEPT followed suit? OFCOM?

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/may/south-africa-gets-100-khz-at-5-mhz.htm#.Wwp0-vZFzIU .


Yet again, I am TXing with my 10m WSPR beacon (100% TX, 500mW, randomised frequencies). So far, just a couple of spots from CT1CAK (1438km). Apart from synchronising the time at the start of the day this tiny beacon is totally stand alone. If the antenna is available I go on 10m WSPR TX.

UPDATE 2112z: Lots of Es spots of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon. OZ1IT (864km) was copying me at +8dB at times. Time to go QRT soon.

6m FT8 again

At the moment this is my favourite band and mode. As usual, I have been on since before breakfast. So far (0859z), 28 unique stations spotted in 7 countries and 2 continents. Quite a bit of Es.

UPDATE 0914z: Best DX on 6m FT8 RX is currently EA8DBM (3016km). 31 uniques in 8 countries already on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 2118z: Lots of Es today on 6m. I have lost count of the number of stations. Soon be time to go QRT.

Sunspots - Sunday May 27th 2018

Solar flux is 73 today. Sunspot number is 26. A=4 and K=2.

26 May 2018

Abortion in Eire - NOT amateur radio

The people of Eire have voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to overturn the law so abortion in the early weeks of pregnancy will become legal. To me this seems sensible and returns the rights to the mother. The people voted almost 2 to 1 in favour of the change. It is likely to become law later this year.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-44256152.

Weekend MLS deals

As usual, MLS has some deals for the weekend. They have some deals for this weekend, which is a public holiday in the UK on Monday.

See https://www.hamradio.co.uk/

Well, I am sick to death of GDPR - NOT amateur radio

It seems that every other email is about GDPR and even some of these are "dodgy". Yes, we all know data privacy is important, but this is taking political correctness to new heights, or is it depths?

Surely we want just a simple rule that says each person has to give express, clear, permission for any data held about them to be passed on. If data is currently held people cannot pass it on. Simple. No doubt some Brussels bureaucrats have to translate this into 27 languages at our expense too. Jobs for the boys.

GDPR = Great Deal of PRoper crap!


As I have had an antenna free, I have been on 10m WSPR TX in the last few days with some success. Today is no exception. Yet again I am on 10m WSPR TX (500mW, 100%, randomised frequencies).

Most, if not all, spots seem to have been Es. Activity levels seem lower than previous years on WSPR. Perhaps more are using 10m FT8?

UPDATE 1540z: Just a single SWL spot from Italy early this morning so far.

UPDATE 1805z: Now 22 unique spots on 10m WSPR of my 500mW beacon. Suddenly the band came alive!

UPDATE  1845: DK6UG was copying me as strong as +14dB  S/N. Classic Es. 23 unique stations copying my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon.

UPDATE 2110z: QRT.

UK pound against the Euro - NOT amateur radio

We still await a Brexit deal that respectful of both the UK and the EU. It is in everyone's interest to split amicably.

In the meantime the UK Pound and the Euro are just bumbling along. The exchange rate has hardly changed in some months. Although it fell quite a bit following the Brexit referendum it has been around 1.14 Euros to the UK Pound for some time. It dipped to around 1.12 but seems to have climbed a bit.

Last year I was expecting the Euro to fall in value, but this does not appear to be happening any time soon. Fundamentally, I still think the Euro is under threat.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/cx250jmk4e7t/pound-sterling-gbp

6m FT8 and "super DX"

It is now almost the end of May and I have still to catch "super DX" on 6m FT8. My system allowed me to catch a lot of great 6m DX on JT65 last year. I continue to watch in hope.

The system was turned on before breakfast. A quick 6m FT8 CQ (2.5W) brought spots from as far as Italy by Es, as well as Gs. Since then, I have been on 6m FT8 RX only.

UPDATE 0840z: So far 12 different stations spotted today in 3 countries.

UPDATE 1028z: 21 stations in 5 countries so far on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1540z: Now 30 stations in 5 countries on 6m FT8 RX today so far.

UPDATE 1814: Best DX on 6m FT8 RX is now 4X4DK (3580km). 5B4AIF (3193km) is the first station I have ever spotted on Cyprus on 6m. Also on again is S01WS (3043km) in Western Sahara.

UPDATE 1855z: Now 28 countries (I think) spotted in 3 continents so far today on 6m FT8. I have lost count of the number of stations, but there have been lots!

UPDATE 2110z:  QRT.

Friedrichshafen, Germany

This big European rally is fast approaching. Outside of the USA, I think this is the biggest amateur radio showcase in the world. Dates are June 1st-3rd 2018. Like Dayton, this is a chance for the big players to showcase new radios.

Sunspots - Saturday May 26th 2018

Solar flux is 75 today and the sunspot number is 32. A=3 and K=1.

25 May 2018

FT8 versus JT65

In the last few months the usage of FT8 is phenomenal. It uses about a third the bandwidth (about 50Hz) of JT65 and a much shorter TX period. In many ways it is an ideal QRP mode, especially in Es conditions.

I think FT8 is not as good as JT65 in terms of very weak signals, but I am no expert. So far, I have not spotted what I would call real DX on 6m, whereas last season I copied lots on 6m JT65. Now, this may be just conditions, so I need a few more months to decide.

It would be interesting to know how serious DXers find FT8. I only use a V2000 vertical, so others probably do better than me. As you know I'm a fair weather DXer. I do not chase DX, but I observe 6m FT8 most days.

FT8 is not a mode for chats. Without auto-sequencing enabled there is very little reaction time. It is a good mode for quick, formulaic exchanges.

See http://www.dx.nl/?p=860
This seems to show FT8 is some 6dB worse than JT65 on weak signals. Maybe this accounts for why I am spotting less real DX? Now, since then FT8 has been improved. Certainly, I shall stick with 6m FT8 this season to see what is spotted.

Our local museum - NOT amateur radio

This was our granddaughter at our local museum recently.

YouTube posts - NOT all amateur radio!

A reminder that not all videos on my YouTube channel are amateur radio related.

Hamnet growing

According to a report on Southgate News, the Hamnet amateur network, mostly in Germany, is growing.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/may/hamnet-amateur-radio-network-is-growing.htm#.WwggIvZFzIU

Old Cars - NOT amateur radio

Just over a week ago we attended a funeral in Nottingham and stayed in nearby Southwell.

The owners of these old cars were also staying in our hotel.

Lightning in Europe

At the moment, the lightning is in mainland Europe with nothing shown here in the UK on the lightning maps. I guess the storms over northern France could be an issue in southern counties of the UK later.  Definitely worth a look in a few hours time.

Another rally


Bowburn Community Centre, Durham road, Bowburn , Co. Durham DH6 5AT. Doors open from 10.10am to 2.30pm with disabled visitors gaining access at 10am. Admittance is £2. There will be a Bring & Buy Sale, trade stands, special interest groups and an RSGB bookstall. Catering and licensed bar on site. Michael Wright , G7TWX, 07826 924 192, dadars@gmx.com.

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


Although I have been on since before breakfast (500mW, randomised frequencies, 100% TX) no spots yet today on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 1155z: CT2IWW (1383km) is the best DX spot of my little beacon so far today.

UPDATE 1246z:  Best DX spot now was from EA8BFK (2880km) in the Canary Is.

6m FT8 - very quiet so far

Although I have been on 6m FT8 since before breakfast, all is very quiet so far with just a couple of Gs spotted and no Es here yet. I did go on TX very early (just one spot with 2.5W to my V2000 vertical stick).

UPDATE 1327z: Plenty of spots now. Best DX on 6m FT8 RX today is D41CV (4518km) in the Cape Verde Is.

UPDATE 1640z: So far today, 30 different stations in 5 countries and 2 continents spotted on 6m FT8.

UPDATE 1950z: 43 different stations in 6 countries and 2 continents today on 6m FT8 RX.

Remarkable sunspots - Friday May 25th 2018

Solar flux is 73 and the sunspot number a remarkable 39 so late in the solar cycle, A=4 and K=2.

24 May 2018

Rally (well actually a flea market)


St Vincent de Paul's, Caldershaw Road, off Edenfield Road (A680), Norden, Rochdale, OL12 7QR. Doors open to the public at 10:30am with disabled visitors gaining access 15 minutes earlier. Admission is £2.50 with those under 12 years free. £5 per pitch (for traders with own tables) or £10 for a pitch with table provided. Bring & Buy as well as commercial traders and amateur radio sellers. Refreshments available including bacon and sausage butties. Robert, M0NVQ rally@radars.me.uk or m0nvq@outlook.com, 0777 811 3333.

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

Back on 6m FT8 RX

As the threat from storms is not a concern this evening, I have returned to 6m FT8 RX. There are lots of stations from Spain and Portugal. Best DX on 6m FT8 RX is EA8EE (3014km).

UPDATE 1856z: So far, 27 unique stations in 7 countries spotted on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 2014z: Not that many new stations and the storms could hit us overnight, so time to go QRT I think. Maybe on tomorrow, but this will depend how close the storms get.

Thunderstorm risk

As I was out for much of the day (see previous post) I turned off the rigs and disconnected things. After tea, I checked the lightning map and decided the storms were too far away to be a worry.

UPDATE 2125z: It looks like those thunderstorms are moving this way. At this rate, they will be hereabouts in the early hours. Rigs, PSU, PC and antennas are disconnected "just in case".

Best ever - NOT amateur radio

Today we visited a garden in north Norfolk. It was, without doubt, the best collection of azaleas and rhododendrons I have ever seen.


After the very encouraging results yesterday, I am again on 10m WSPR (100% TX, randomised frequency, 500mW). I have been on since before breakfast, but no spots received as yet.

6m FT8

After a brief CQ call (2.5W) before breakfast (3 G spots) I have been RX ever since.  So far, 4 Gs spotted plus one Lithuanian which was my best DX - LY8O (1686km).

Sunspots (lots!) - Thursday May 24th 2018

Solar flux is 72 today and the sunspot number 30, which is the highest in a long while. A=9 and K=2.

23 May 2018

Interesting blog

If you are like me, you are always keen to find interesting reading material on the net. Today, came across a blog I had not seen before. It is about interesting things, many of which I am sure readers will enjoy.

See http://tikalon.com/blog/blog.php .

6m FT8 RX

After a very brief CQ call before breakfast at 2.5W (yes, you guessed - a couple of Gs spotted me!) I have been of 6m FT8 RX since.

At the moment we seem to have Es to Iberia and North Africa. Best DX spot is 7X2TT (1766km).

UPDATE 1120z:  57 uniques in 7 countries so far on 6m FT8 RX today.

UPDATE 1312z: Best 6m FT8 RX DX today is currently S01WS (3043km).

UPDATE 1920z: I doubt much more will be spotted on 6m FT8 today. The map shows the spots so far today.

Early success on 10m WSPR TX today

Just before breakfast I turned on the 500mW 10m WSPR beacon and this has already been spotted by 5 different stations today. Best TX DX is EA1FAQ (1249km).

UPDATE 1123z: So far today, 6 unique spots in 4 countries of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon.

UPDATE 1317z: 147 spots today, so far, of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon. I guess most of these were Es. One report from Germany by DF4UE (758km) was +6dB S/N - i.e. remarkably strong.

UPDATE 1352z: Best spot of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon is by EA8BFK (2880km).
Unique spots of my 500mW WSPR beacon so far today.
UPDATE 1719z: 282 spots of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon today, with 15 unique stations.

UPDATE 1924z: 283 spots today of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon. Still 15 uniques. Soon be time to go QRT.

Lupins - NOT amateur radio

We planted some lupins a few years ago. Last year they got nibbled by muntjac deer. They have just come out. I hope we have better luck this year!

Sunspots - Wednesday May 23rd 2018

Solar flux is 71 today and the sunspot number 12. A=6 and K=2.

22 May 2018

"This will take a while"

They are not kidding!

After updating the shack PC this morning (90 minutes) I got a message this evening saying the main PC (Windows 10) had an important update. Nearly 2 hours later the update was complete.

Windows 10 worked fine before and, as far as I can tell, these darn updates are all to do with features I am not interested in.

Call me a cynic but just why are such changes necessary? Perhaps it is just another opportunity for Microsoft to keep an eye our every move? Maybe I am being unduly harsh, but if Windows 10 is so great just why do I have to watch paint dry for almost 2 hours as yet another update is done. This is a pretty new machine, so updates could take much longer on a older PC.

It is clear to me why some call Windows "Windoze".

Begonias - NOT amateur radio

In the warm May sunshine, we planted begonias this afternoon. These last all summer and need very little attention. They give lots of colour.

There are a few more to do tomorrow.

Last year my wife bought busy lizzies by mistake. They also looked good.

Unicorn-2A PocketQube satellite

Southgate News has a piece of a future small satellite from Scotland. It is due for launch Q3 this year.

See https://amsat-uk.org/2018/05/01/unicorn-2a-pocketqube-satellite/


As yesterday, I am on 10m WSPR TX only (500mW, 100%, frequency randomised). Already I have been spotted in Italy by IU7DZZ (973km) several times, whereas yesterday I got no spots at all! On 10m I am using my stand-alone W5OLF WSPR beacon. Apart from syncing the time, this does not need a PC at all. Even this could be done with a radio.

UPDATE 1025z: Now spotted by EA1FAQ (1249km).

UPDATE 1521z: So far today, 13 unique spots of my 500mW WSPR beacon on 10m.
UPDATE 1616z:  Now 20 different stations spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon today.

6m FT8 RX

What a difference! Already lots of 6m Es with many southern Europeans (13 countries already spotted by 0830z) on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 0922z: 60 different stations in 15 countries spotted on 6m FT8 RX so far today.

UPDATE 1100z: Now 19 countries spotted today on 6m FT8 with best DX S01WS (3043km) in Western Sahara.

UPDATE 1230z: Well over 100 unique stations spotted today on 6m FT8 RX. So many that I have lost count! 22 countries and 2 continents so far today.

UPDATE 1630z:  Apart from N.W.Africa and Israel no great DX spotted on 6m FT8 yet this season.

UPDATE 1722z:  Best 6m FT8 RX DX now 4Z1RZ (3567km). Now 29 countries in 3 continents spotted today on 6m FT8 RX.

Sunspots - Tuesday May 22nd 2018

Solar flux is 68 today and the sunspot number 12. A=3 and K=1.

Windoze - zzz - 10

Let me start by saying I have used Windows 10 for a long time with no issues.

Today, my shack PC said it needed more disk space to do an essential update, so I added an external drive when doing this. My shack PC has a 32GB SSD. It is really only used for syncing to internet time and to run OPERA and WSJT-X software.

Now, if Windows 10 is so brilliant why does it take 90 minutes to install updates?!

Thankfully, as far as I can tell, everything I use still works.

21 May 2018

"London" grandchildren - NOT amateur radio

At the weekend, we had our "London" grandchildren staying here for one night. Here they are with me.

Es (sporadic E)

Es tends to be very specific. Sometimes Es is there strongly in one place, but absent just a few miles away. Today may be such a day.

As yet, no spots of my 10m TX 500mW WSPR beacon and only G stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX. Elsewhere it might be very different. Maybe things will be better later or tomorrow? I shall be on both bands for several hours yet .


I'd forgotten that whilst on 6m FT8 I can use a different antenna on 10m WSPR. On 10m WSPR I am 100% TX, but with randomised frequencies. I am using 500mW from my little WSPR beacon made by W5OLF.

UPDATE 1836z: No 10m WSPR spots of my beacon as yet. I have the feeling today is going to end with no spots of my little 10m WSPR beacon.

UPDATE 2030z: Well, I am about to go QRT with not a single report on 10m WSPR today!

HF Loops

This has been on before, but it is worth repeating.

HF loops are ideal in some applications. They can work surprisingly well, but are narrow band if efficient. They are ideal with QRP as quite high voltages can otherwise be created. I have used these on several bands. They can easily be made too.

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

6m FT8 today

This is becoming a habit! Just before breakfast I call CQ on 6m FT8 (2.5W, omnidirectional vertical antenna). Almost without fail, I get spotted by a couple of Gs, often quite distant, even though on TX for at most 3 minutes. The rest of the time I am RX only on 6m FT8. So far today  (0912z) just 3 G spots, no Es.

UPDATE 1548z:  Just 13 Gs spotted so far today on 6m FT8 RX. No Es evident here.

UPDATE 1612z: It pays to check. An EA1 was spotted but not shown on PSKreporter maps. More recently ON8DM (239km) has been spotted. Currently (only on PSKreporter maps) 15 different stations in 2 countries. With the EA1, that is 16 different stations in 3 countries so far today on 6m FT8.

UPDATE 1816z: Now 27 unique stations in 3 countries so far. Best DX is IT9RZR (2063km). Apart from the IT9 and the EA1 earlier, very little Es on 6m here today. QRT shortly.

May 2m UKAC activity contest results published

Although my voice prevents me being on too long, my score has risen in the AL section results. Using 5W and an omnidirectional antenna and never take contesting too seriously, I am quite pleased. although I shall probably miss June's session.

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

Stroke? - NOT amateur radio

This has probably been mentioned here before, so I apologise if I am repeating myself.

One thing I am aware of is how fast things seem to be going on the roads. When I am going 50mph it feels at least 60mph. Indeed I feel like I am going 70mph. Then I see a huge queue behind me!  I am only too aware that I drive more slowly than I did. It feels embarrassing, but cannot safely drive faster.

OK I am growing older and becoming a grumpy old man. Maybe it is an age thing, but it as if my brain operates at a slower pace. I also find watching subtitles on TV hard work. Usually I give up!

It feels like the recovery from my stroke has stalled.

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

Sunspots - Monday May 21st 2018

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

20 May 2018

More on 40MHz in EI

This came in from John EI7GL:

"Hi Roger

You might be interested in the new proposed 8m and 5m bandplans in EI. This was on the IRTS news today...

Spectrum News

Following a spectrum award by ComReg the entire 4m band (69.9 - 70.5 MHz) is now available to Irish licensees.
At the last IRTS Committee Meeting a sub-committee was convened to develop band plans and propagation beacons for additional spectrum included in the spectrum award.
IRTS is now consulting amateur licensees on two band plans covering 40 - 44 MHz and 54 - 69.9 MHz. More details including draft band plans can be downloaded from the IRTS website, www.irts.ie/downloads
Please send any comments as soon as possible to “newspectrum /at/ irts /dot/ ie” to arrive not later than 30th June 2018.

John, EI7GL"

It would be good to get a small secondary amateur band at 40MHz in the UK and more widely. As commercial gear does not cover this, it would be an ideal band for real Es propagation research. How about OFCOM allocating 50-100kHz at 40MHz to radio amateurs at, say, 10W on a strictly non-interference basis? Silly me, this requires thinking. Silly boy.

At our local museum - NOT amateur radio

Our granddaughter earlier today at our local museum playing with a hoola hoop. Years ago, these were all the rage.

Sunspots - Sunday May 20th 2018

Solar flux is 70 today and the sunspot number 0. A=3 and K=2.

6m FT8 RX today

So far today, 19 different stations in 9 countries with best DX LZ2FP (1995km).

UPDATE 1609z: 35 uniques in 13 countries so far today on 6m FT8.

UPDATE 2115z: Time to go QRT. 38 different stations in 13 countries today on 6m FT8.

19 May 2018

Es and thunderstorms

Some say there is a correlation between thunderstorms and sporadic-E, possibly sprites going upwards from thunderclouds. A good source of data on spaceweather is http://spaceweather.com/

Dunstable Downs Boot Sale Sunday

This came in by a different route from my usual rally alerts.


Summer migrant birds - NOT amateur radio

Here in East Anglia, UK, summer migrant bird numbers are definitely down. Although I have seen swallows and swifts up here, there appear to be fewer. In S.Devon there seemed to be quite a few.

Dayton disapointment

So it looks like, better late than never, Yaesu and Kenwood are joining the SDR club.

However, what I see looks like a couple of expensive transceivers aimed at those with deep pockets rather than those with more modest budgets to spend on the hobby.

Will we ever see the Japanese produce a low cost SDR (portable?) transceiver? The Chinese are coming up fast and will soon have truly competitive products in terms of performance and build quality at much lower prices. Unless they are very careful, the Japanese will be too late to the party.

6m FT8

Yet again, after a very brief TX period before breakfast (2.5W, 1 local spot), I have been RX only ever since. So far, 12 different stations in 3 countries spotted with best DX spotted F5NBQ (746km).

UPDATE 1000z: Now 17 different stations spotted in 3 countries.

UPDATE  1840z: Countless stations in 14 countries and 2 continents on 6m FT8 RX so far today.

Royal wedding - NOT amateur radio

OK, I am not a great royalist and I hate the wall to wall coverage of this event, especially the hats people will be wearing and the food to be eaten at some remote street party. This is especially galling when "real" news is relegated to insignificance.

However, the last 12 months (and more) have been difficult and people are looking for light relief. The royal wedding is a good distraction and generally makes people feel better. This I do understand.

Sunspots - Saturday May 19th 2018

Solar flux is 68 today. The sunspot number remains zero. A=4 and K=2.

18 May 2018

USA and Climate Change - NOT amateur radio

It appears that the US House Committee on Appropriations may have re-instated NASA funding for climate change research that the US president quietly withdrew.

See https://thinkprogress.org/nasa-vote-house-climate-science-97ad7bc62c01/

Scottish Rally (Glasgow)


Kings Inch Road, Glasgow G51 4BN. Doors open from10am to 5pm and entry is £4.50. There will be trade stands, a Bring & Buy, flea market, special interest groups and an RSGB bookstall. There will be lectures on the day. Catering and a licensed bar are on site. There will be a raffle. More from Andrew Hood, GM7GDE, 07825 932 488, radiorally@scotlandmail.com.

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

UK retail - NOT amateur radio

For some reason, my wife likes shopping at Waitrose, a  major UK food retailer, part of the John Lewis Partnership.

In recent years, like most high street retailers, they have found the going tough. John Lewis tends to have loyal customers, but I feel even these are going elsewhere for some of their shopping. Take our Newmarket Waitrose. I feel sure that when a local Aldi opens up they will suffer as some people will buy some of the same brands there at lower cost.

It was even reported in the newspapers that Amazon approached Waitrose last year, informally, as they want to buy a major UK food retailer.

No, the retail market is a very tough business. The companies that will survive will be those that have an attractive high street shop and an online business. Those that do not are likely to fail. Sadly, many of us now buy online. This is the reality of the 21st century. Adapt or die.

Dayton Hamvention - Ohio, USA

This weekend is the biggest event in the amateur community across the world. All the big amateur vendors are there as well as a huge flea market (I expect you could even buy fleas!).

As I have never been, I depend on press releases and individuals to provide me with news.

So far, I have heard that Yaesu will be joining the SDR club with a new HF/50MHz transceiver. From what I have seen they continue to follow rather than lead. This is not the mark of a successful company. These days they seem to have forgotten how to innovate. Yaesu, are you short of cash?

See http://hamvention.org/

6m FT8

After a very brief period calling CQ before breakfast (2 local spots with 2.5W TX), I have been RX only since. So far (0840z) 10 different stations spotted in 2 countries with best DX F6FUZ (791km).

UPDATE 1403z: So far today on 6m FT8 RX 73 different stations in 12 countries, all European. Best DX is SV9CVY (2675km) on Crete.

UPDATE 1705z: I have lost count of the number of stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX but 18 different countries spotted so far today.

UPDATE 2137z: Time to go QRT. 21 countries spotted today on 6m FT8.

UPDATE 2155z: Now QRT.

Cheese course - NOT amateur radio

We had B&B at the "Saracen's Head" in Southwell as we had to attend a funeral in Nottingham. Everyone in Southwell was great: friendly, warm and welcoming. We ate dinner at the "Saracen's Head" which was fine and served by a young local girl who really made us feel welcome and wanted. I went into a place a few months back and the service was appalling.

Sunspots - Friday May 18th 2018

Solar flux is 71 today and the sunspot number still zero. A=10 and K=2.

17 May 2018

13th Century Book - NOT amateur radio

As this book is so old and so rare it is usually rarely on show. Yesterday we were fortunate to see it on display at Southwell Minster Chapter House.

Southwell Minster is a Norman building and very peaceful. Southwell is about 12 miles east of Nottingham and was a delightful place.

6m FT8 RX

Although I have only been on 6m FT8 RX since late afternoon, 7 Gs spotted so far. No Es in evidence.

Sunspots - Thurdsday May 17th 2018

Solar flux is 68 today and the sunspot number 0. A=4 and 3.

16 May 2018

Japanese amateur allocations

Southgate News has a piece today linking the Japanese amateur allocations in English. I could see no mention of the WRC 60m allocation in Japan, although I may have missed this.

Incidentally Southgate News is taking a 4 day break. I wonder if the complier is off to Dayton? 😊

See www.tele.soumu.go.jp/resource/e/search/share/2013/t1.pdf

6m FT8

Today, I don't have a great deal of time, but I went on 6m FT8 from before breakfast. After a very brief period on TX, with spots from a couple of Gs, I have been RX only with 7 unique stations in 2 countries spotted.

UPDATE 1025z: 8 stations in 2 countries spotted today, so far, on 6m FT8.

Dayton reminder


Greene County Fair & Exposition Center, Xenia, Dayton, Ohio, USA. Doors open at 8am. There will be trade stands and a huge flea market as well as special interest groups and an RSGB bookstall. A lecture programme will take place each day. There are multiple catering outlets and family attractions on site. US exams are available and there is a raffle. Details by email to international@hamvention.org. www.hamvention.org.

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

Sunspots - Wednesday May 16th 2018

Solar flux is 69 and the sunspot number 0. A=4 and K=0.

15 May 2018

Migrant bird numbers down - NOT amateur radio

Although we saw plenty of swallows, house martins and a few swifts in S. Devon last week, I feel numbers are lower. By now, up here in East Anglia, swifts should be everywhere and they are usually one of the most common birds seen in late spring and summer. I have only seen a handful of swallows and not one swift or house martin up here yet! I have heard quite a few chiffchaffs in Devon. I hope numbers of migrants recover.

UPDATE 2154z: As it was warm and pleasant, we enjoyed a cup of tea in the garden. In the time we were there we saw 3 swifts overhead.

6m FT8 RX again

As this is the Es season, I am sticking with 6m FT8 again today. The number of stations on FT8 is staggering.  Very early on I went on TX (2.5W) calling CQ. I was spotted by a couple of Gs. Since before breakfast I have been RX only.

Although Europe and North Africa on 6m Es are "easy", I am keeping a watchful eye for more distant E layer DX on 6m. With FT8 I am sure it is just a matter of time before the USA, Caribbean and South America are spotted on 6m FT8 even with my basic V2000 vertical antenna.

For Es, I find polarisation is unimportant. All my 6m JT65 "real" DX (well outside Europe) last spring/summer was using the V2000 omni antenna. With FT8 this year I expect results at least as good. With 15 second overs, even the briefest of openings should be copied.

So far, just 10 UK stations spotted on 6m FT8 with the best DX GS3PYE/P (576km) on Islay, Scotland.

UPDATE 0925z: More stations being spotted now. Currently 14 uniques in 3 countries with best DX CT1EKD (1644km).

UPDATE 1247z: Now 58 unique stations in 10 countries spotted on 6m FT8 today, so far. Best DX is currently IW8PQU (1940km).

Dayton Ohio Hamvention

This is the biggest amateur radio event on the planet and is often where new products are showcased. I have never been, but it is worth following to hear what new rigs are coming up. Often these are very early models.

Dandelions - NOT amateur radio

These are often considered weeds, but the yellow flowers and dandelion clocks (seeds) are actually quite beautiful.


Several times recently, I have expressed my doubts about Yaesu. Over the years I have owned many different Yaesu transceivers and they have all been good.

In the last few years Yaesu seems to have "dropped the baton" and become a follower rather than a leader. Yaesu also seems to be slow to develop new models and when it does it seriously disappoints like the rushed FT991A and the really disappointing FT818, that probably cost 2 cups of coffee to develop! Even I could have done a better job with my eyes closed! Market research? Rubbish.

Yaesu, do a lot better or fail. I, for one, want you to do well. Please, prove me wrong.


Many years ago I stopped chasing DXCC countries. I will not shout and shout to be heard in a rare place, although I fully understand this is important to some.

When I sort of stopped many years ago I had worked well over 100 countries with QRP SSB. If I work a new country, so well and good, although I refuse to buy expensive rigs, linears, towers and beams to enable this. If it happens, it happens!

Southgate News had a piece on DXCC yesterday.
See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/may/dxcc-report-1405.htm#.WvmovUxFzIU

Sunspots - Tuesday May 15th 2018

Solar flux is 70 today and the sunspot number 0. A=5 and K=1.

14 May 2018

Alibris book hunt - NOT amateur radio

After a week in South Devon, I wanted to buy a book on the village where we were staying. I read the book at our holiday place. It was printed in 1993 and is now out of print. I tried Alibris, but they could not point me to a second hand copy. I'll keep checking back.  Alibris keep telling me about special deals and can usually locate most books. I was surprised not to be able to find it.

Many years ago my uncle walked to school, rain or shine, a round-trip of about 14 miles every day. What looks like his father or grandfather is in the book cutting hair with sheep shears! There is also a photo (very old) of where we stayed when it was still a farm barn.

New QRPclub member

This just came from Oleg:

"Dear Club 72 members and friends,

new Club member SV7CUD op. Panagiotis (Panos)
certificate # 108

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."

Unknown flower - NOT amateur radio

This flower self-seeded in our front garden. We did not plant it. The flowers are about 3cms across. It is probably quite a common sort, but this is the first year we have seen it. We have been here almost 5 years now. It is May flowering. Some have died and just this one is in flower.

UPDATE 1340z: Someone told me it is "Star of Bethlehem".