30 Jun 2018

Storms getting closer to the UK

It looks more likely that the storms from Iberia will hit the UK tonight or tomorrow. As a precaution, everything has been disconnected: rigs, PSUs and antennas.

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

Not a great day

All day, I have been on 10m WSPR TX and 6m FT8 RX. It was a poor day here. Yes, there was Es on both bands but it was way down on the days before. All being well, I shall try again tomorrow. Some days will be average. I have still to copy the USA and Japan on 6m FT8 RX this summer.

More stroke - NOT amateur radio

Many are not interested, and this I can understand, but I feel the need to express to others just how I feel inside. Life is tough.

Giddy, exhausted, fog is how I'd best describe how I feel most of the time, especially when on my feet. My voice is also poor. Outwardly I look well with a heathy tan. However, inside I feel awful. However hard I try, I am unable to convey just how I feel.

On a recent holiday, someone else who had had a stroke said, "others just don't understand". How right he was. These are exactly my feelings and this precisely expresses my frustration. Others cannot possibly understand.

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


Status quo - NOT amateur radio

Life has a nasty habit of surprising us. We go along with certainties we have known for years, then suddenly something happens to remind us that change always happens. It can be someone dying or getting gravely ill, a different house or something far more trivial.

Change is part of life and the future holds all sorts of shocks. Those best able to accept are people who are not phased by changes or endings: people who can say, that is the end of a chapter and the start of a new one.

Today, we had my wife's cousin-in-law and his granddaughter for lunch and tea. My wife was very close to her cousin when she was little. A few months ago she died.

Sadly, I find endings hard. Perhaps we all do in our own way.

UK Thunder?

We have had (for us) a long warm (hot) spell of weather with temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius. At some point we are likely to have some thunderstorms in parts of the UK. Currently there are storms in Spain moving north. These could result in storms in south west England later.

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

10m WSPR TX

Yet again, I am trying with my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon. So far, just spots earlier from local G4KPX (14km) and no Es. Things may change.

UPDATE 0912z: EA8FBK (2880km) is again the best spot.

UPDATE 1911z: Just 5 different stations spotted my little 500mW 10m WSPR beacon today so far.

6m today

After the excitement yesterday with Japan being worked from the UK and others in Western Europe on 6m FT8, today has started quietly with just G spots and one German spotted on 6m FT8 so far. A brief TX period (2.5W to my V2000 vertical omni) netted 6 G spots, but no QSOs.

UPDATE 1138z: Far less Es today. 21 stations in 6 countries here so far.

Sunspots - Saturday June 30th 2018

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

29 Jun 2018

OV140 German SDR project

This started from the mcHF project and is an open source software and hardware project from Germany. When it is ready, it should be a very interesting SDR transceiver covering up to 2m with 75W. It is expected to be low cost.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tdi0wjO1UwM&feature=youtu.be&t=11282

Another UK Rally

1 JULY 2018 : Barford Norfolk Radio Rally

Barford Village Hall & Green, Barford, Norwich NR9 4AB. Doors open 9am (traders from 8am) with talk in on S22. Car parking is free. There will be trade stands, car boot sales, Bring & Buy, raffle and repeater groups. Catering is available on site. Entry £2 per person / under 16s free. Pitches £8, indoor tables £10. Contact radio@dcpmicro.com www.norfolkamateurradio.org.

10m FT8 good so far

My 10m (500mW) WSPR beacon seems to be doing a good job so far today. Yet again EA8BFK (2880km) is the best DX.

Sunspots - Friday June 29th 2018

Back to normal?

Solar flux is 69 and the sunspot number 0.  A=6 and K=2.

Japan-UK on 6m FT8

Although I have not spotted one yet, G stations were working Japan on 6m FT8 earlier. This very long path opens on 6m most seasons in June.

Personally, I think this is due to ionisation of the E layer due to noctilucent clouds and not multi-hop Es. If it was multi-hop it would happen at any time in the Es season. It only happens when noctilucent clouds are about.

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

UPDATE 1225z: WP4G (6803km) spotted on 6m FT8.

UPDATE  1331z: No 6m Es here currently - just Gs and near Europeans.

28 Jun 2018

X80 vertical antenna

In the garage I have an SRC X80 multi-band HF vertical. I used this briefly (before my stroke) at the old QTH. It blows around in the wind, but worked quite well as I remember. With my LDG QRP ATU it might serve me well next winter on WSPR on several HF bands.

Verticals tend to be noisier than horizontal antennas. This is a Rybakov antenna fed via a transformer so they can be matched with an ATU more easily. If erected it would replace my horizontal antenna that only covers 3 HF bands.

This is now on my main website at www.g3xbm.co.uk . This was a "cut and paste" job ร nd needs attention on the other PC in the morning as I see some words are not visible.

See reviews at https://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/8727?page=1

Rally

30 JUNE 2018 : Houghton Le Spring Amateur Radio Club Rally

Houghton Le Spring Amateur Radio Club are holding their Rally on Saturday June 30th 2018. Doors open to the public at 10.30am and vacation by 3pm The Rally is open to trade, Clubs and private sellers/exhibiters. Table space is limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis. The Rally will be held in The Dubmire Royal British Legion Club, Britannia Terrace, Fencehouses DH4 6LJ which is located between Durham and Sunderland. Chairman of the Club Ken M6ELL and members of HARC wish to invite you all to their completely fee free rally. There will be NO CHARGE for sellers and of course free entrance tea & coffee will be available and a licensed bar from 11:00 AM, Donations would be welcomed and donated in their entirety to The Dubmire Royal British Legion Club. Would anyone wishing to book selling/exhibiting space please contact myself Ian M0RZE by email ianlaidler1956@gmail.com or by telephone on 0797 731 0928 or our Chairman Ken M6ELL ONLY AFTER 6pm on 07547 690 844 or facebook inbox houghton amateur radio club events page We look forward to your support and seeing you all there.

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

SSTV from the ISS Friday June 29th - July 1st

Southgate News reports that there will be SSTV from the International Space Station starting tomorrow, June 29th.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/june/receive-sstv-from-space.htm#.WzS9ovZFzIU

6m FT8 RX

Apparently Japan was being spotted and called on 6m FT8 earlier from southern Europe, although on my basic V2000 vertical omni system nothing was spotted here in the UK. Lots of Es received already. 45 countries spotted on 6m FT8 in the last day! 59 countries spotted in the last few days on 6m FT8 RX.
UPDATE 1354z: A brief CQ call on 6m FT8 QRP (2.5W) a few moments ago brought 2 QSOs (SP6 and EA3) as well as spots from stations all over Europe. I have gone back to 6m FT8 RX only.

10m WSPR TX

10m WSPR is good today. Already I have received 283 spots of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon with the best DX being EA8BFK (2880km) and it is only 1036z.
UPDATE 1130z: Spotted by 11 different stations so far today on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 1816z: My little WSPR beacon has been spotted by 23 different stations today.

Sunspots - Thursday June 28th 2018

Solar flux is 70 today and the sunspot number12. A=7 and K=3.

27 Jun 2018

60m WRC band in China

According to Southgate News, China is soon to get the 60m WRC allocation.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/june/china-soon-on-60m.htm#.WzPrNPZFzIU

OFCOM

Now, do not wet your pants with excitement. Well, OK I know you find this earth shattering. OFCOM has been asked to alter its licence for broadband at 3.6GHz.

See http://ofcom.createsend1.com/t/ViewEmail/i/6657CBCCC95E5E022540EF23F30FEDED/59D1BD3EA2F08127C67FD2F38AC4859C

10m WSPR TX

Off to a good start with 7 spots of my 500mW WSPR beacon from Denmark. Es seems good today and early. No reports outside Europe yet though on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 1827z: So far today, 11 different stations spotted my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon.

6m FT8 again

After a brief TX period with 2.5W (9 spots of my QRP with best DX 205km), I have been on 6m FT8 RX. Lots of EU Es.

UPDATE 1200z: Lots of Es spotted this morning on 6m FT8 RX.
UPDATE 2022z: LA9VFA (2460km) is the best DX on 6m FT8 RX today.

UPDATE 2137z: I was about to switch everything off when I noticed Es on 6m FT8. So I had 2 G QSOs, 9 Gs spotted my QRP as did LA7DFA (1311km)

Sunspots - Wednesday June 27th 2018

Solar flux is 71 and the sunspot number 12. A=20 and K=2.

26 Jun 2018

Probability - NOT amateur radio

Sometimes it is wise to think how lucky we are to be here.

We were just one sperm of countless numbers that fertilised that egg. We made it through to birth and beyond. We happened to be born on this planet at this time. Against all the odds we are here, now. It is possible, although unlikely, we are totally alone in the universe as sensate beings, capable of contemplating our existence and the universe(s).

Of course, we could say the same were we born at a different time on a different planet.

Nonetheless, life is a precious gift and wonder.

Plane views - NOT amateur radio

We flew back from Finland yesterday. The weather, and views from the plane, were perfect.
Before leaving, we visited medieval Porvoo about 55km from Helsinki.

70cm RSGB UKAC contest

Despite having just a single contact this month (I did not stay on very long at all) I still stand 108th out of 147 in the AL section. I must try harder next month! I only use 5W and a 2m halo.

10m WSPR TX

As the antenna is free, I am running my little 10m WSPR beacon (500mW, 100% TX, randomised frequencies). Best report so far is from EA1FAQ (1249km). There is a lot of Es evident today on 10m and 6m. 16 different stations spotting my 10m WSPR TX today.

UPDATE 1442z: Only 2 spots so far from DK6UG (633km) but one was an incredible +13dB S/N. Es at its best!

UPDATE 1958z: FY5KE (7110km) has spotted me 31 times today, with the best being at -11dB S/N. 24 different stations spotted so far today on 10m WSPR.

6m FT8

After a brief 6m FT8 TX period very early (9 G spots and 1 QSO) with QRP, I have been RX only all morning. Best spot is EK7DX (3590km) in Armenia. All his reports have been northern Europe, so this could be a pirate in southern Europe. Sadly, these days you just cannot be sure.

UPDATE 1915z: Best DX on 6m FT8 RX today is A92AA (5069km). Again, I hope he is genuine and not a pirate. He has been widely copied in Europe, but not the Middle East, so I am suspicious. Must be my age making me cynical!

Back home - NOT amateur radio

After our travels in the Baltic, we are now back home again. It was a good trip, but too many short stays in hotels, so we seemed always to be living out of cases!

See https://baltichol18.blogspot.com/

Sunspots - Tuesday June 26th 2018

Solar flux is 72 and the sunspot number 14. A=12 and K=3.

25 Jun 2018

Sunspots - Monday June 25th 2018

Solar flux is 75 and the sunspot number 34.  A=16 and K=1.

24 Jun 2018

6m FT8 "super DX"

Although I have been away, 6m FT8 super DX has not been brilliant so far. GM3POI has been copied in the USA, but I am not aware of any Japanese stations being copied in the UK on 6m FT8 this season.

Turkey elections - NOT amateur radio

Apparently Turkey is holding key elections today. The current president survived a coup attempt in 2016.

See https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-44590956.

The main website

From time to time I like to remind people about my main website that is updated less often than the blog, but that contains much more detail about my various projects and interests.

See www.g3xbm.co.uk .

Off to the opera? - NOT amateur radio

Seen outside Helsinki's Opera House last night. 

As it was a public holiday, it was closed.  They also do ballet there. I hope they weren't hoping to see Swan Lake! ๐Ÿ˜ช

These are Barnacle Geese. In the UK we see these in winter. In Helsinki they are everywhere (with young) in summer.

See https://oopperabaletti.fi/en/calendar/

Sunspots - Sunday June 24th 2018

Solar flux is 77 today and the sunspot number 41.  A=16 and K=4. Solar activity is still good for this part of the solar cycle. June averages should be quite good.

23 Jun 2018

Helsinki - NOT amateur radio

Today we left Tallinn, Estonia and caught the ferry over to Helsinki, Finland. It is 76km. On the way we had an excellent free buffet with free drinks (I had 2 red wines and a coffee). Tomorrow we do a tour of the city and a harbour cruise. This evening we had a snack by the lake (Toolonlahti) opposite our hotel. Considering this is Finland, prices were reasonable. Like all the Baltic countries, Finland is clean. I have been to Helsinki 3 times before, twice for work. Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland all use the Euro. Sweden still uses the Kroner.

Bloody MicroCRAP - NOT amateur radio

Microsoft has just popped up with a window I cannot close asking me to choose BING as my default search engine. Microsoft, I am perfectly happy with my current search engine thank you and I strongly object to this pernicious crap. Go away you bunch of scumbags!

Next week on 6m FT8 RX

Starting next week, I shall continue my monitoring of 6m FT8, hoping to catch more "super DX" outside of Europe. So far, I have spotted the Caribbean and South America on 6m FT8. My only USA spot turned out to be a pirate!

This season I have spotted much less than last year on 6m JT65. Last year, quite a few Japanese stations were spotted.  FT8 is not supposed to be as good as JT65.

My antenna is just a V2000 vertical omni fed with cheap CB coax.

UK litter - NOT amateur radio

Without exception Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland are virtually litter free. You sense civic pride. 

In the UK have we no pride at all?  Surely we can get someone to clean our mess?  But why do we drop litter in the first place?

Surely if Estonia with its tiny population (1.36M) can have no litter, we can do the same? Basically we are litter louts! The capital Tallinn sees thousands daily from cruise ships, yet the streets are spotless.

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

Baby fieldfares - NOT amateur radio

Usually in the UK we get fieldfares only in winter when they migrate across from Scandinavia chasing our "mild" weather and food, so it was a real treat to see baby fieldfares in Estonia yesterday.

Sunspots - Saturday June 23rd 2018

The extraordinary high numbers for this part of the solar cycle continue. Solar flux is 79 and the sunspot number 41. A=4 and K=1.

22 Jun 2018

New ICOM handheld scanning RX

According to Southgate News, ICOM has introduced a new handheld wideband RX, the IC-R30. which covers from 100kHz to over 3GHz with many digital modes as well as SSB, AM, FM, CW and WBFM.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/june/icom-ic-r30-digital-analogue-wideband-communications-receiver.htm#.Wy0XKPZFzIU

Free trade? - NOT amateur radio

So the EU has introduced retaliatory tariffs in response to the USA. A trade war is not the answer. Unless you believe literally in Genesis and Noah's Ark, free trade is a 21st century reality.

See https://www.bbc.com/news/business-44567636 .

CIA 1960 report on earth current signalling

An amateur in Germany, DL3IKE, found this recently:

https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP78-03424A000400090001-9.pdf

Tallinn, Estonia - NOT amateur radio

We last visited here in 2001. Apart from more tourists, it has little changed. This morning, we walked around the old town.
See https://baltichol18.blogspot.com/

Network radios abroad

I guess a network radio would be useful on holiday as long as you have a roaming SIM or wifi access.

Sunspots - Friday June 22nd 2018

Solar flux is 81 today and the sunspot count 54. A=3 and K=1. Quite remarkable figures this low in the cycle.

21 Jun 2018

6m Pirate

It is a sad fact that pirates get their kicks by pretending to be someone else. A recent example was ZL2IFB who was not on 6m at the time stated, but was widely spotted on 6m FT8. All I can say is see if the time and local spots support it. Caveat emptor. Until the DX station confirms the spot or QSO you can never be sure sadly.

Last year I spotted several Japanese stations on 6m JT65 in June. There were so many, and with local spots in Japan, that I am pretty sure these were genuine.

Stroke update - NOT amateur radio

Although outwardly I look well (so people tell me) on the inside it is very different. The best way is to say I live in a giddy, exhausted, confused fog most of my waking time. My voice is poor but otherwise I cope. People talk about hidden disabilities - I really know!

Never, ever, judge a book by its cover, as they say. By the way, who are "they"? ๐Ÿ˜

Stork nest - NOT amateur radio

On our way from Riga (Latvia) to Tallinn (Estonia) we saw several white storks including this one on its nest with young.

4m transverter

Some years ago I designed a QRP 70MHz transverter as I had no gear for that band. This was featured in GQRP SPRAT.

Using just a wire dipole in the loft I managed a few QSOs in a contest.

These days, there are commercial rigs covering the 4m band including the ICOM IC7300.

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

Sunspots - Thursday June 21st 2018

Solar flux is 82 and sunspot number an incredible 54.  A=5 and K=1. For where we are in the cycle these are very good numbers, although it suggests things will get much worse before we start the climb to the next peak. The minimum is expected in 2019 or 2020. It seems very, very, unlikely we have yet reached the minimum. In the last minimum we had days and days of spotless days.

20 Jun 2018

Total Dick? - NOT amateur radio

It sounds like a few Republicans have stood up for common decency. Young children have no business being the innocent victims in this.

Why am I reminded of Jews in Europe in the 1930s and 40s?

Mr President was elected to "make America great again". Really? At the moment the USA is fast becoming the laughing stock of the rest of the world. His aims may be fine, but to many he comes across as naรฏve.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44552852

Warm Baltic - NOT amateur radio

It is hard to believe how lucky we've been with the weather. So far, I have worn a short-sleeved shirt in warm sunshine every day! This was me at Jurmala, near Riga on the coast of the Gulf of Riga. Riga is a fine city and nearby Jurmala quite classy.

6m Super DX?

ZL2IFB has again been spotted in North America and Europe on 6m FT8.  It remains to be seen if this is genuine. I have my doubts, but hope I am proved wrong.

Just mad? - NOT amateur radio

The current USA administration puzzles me. Do they really want total isolation from the rest of the world? It would appear so.

Oh, of course, the world was created in 7 days when God breathed. The UN and climate change are not real.

Palestine - is that near Bolivia?

See https://www.bbc.com/news/44537372 .

Hanseatic League - NOT amateur radio

At the moment we are in Riga, Latvia. Although under communist rule after WW2, it is fine city. It still has some communist buildings as well as modern ones.  We like it.

Many years before, it was a Hanseatic League port. There are some fine old buildings in the old town.

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

Sunspots - Wednesday June 20th 2018

Solar flux is 77 and the sunspot number a remarkable 41. This is very high for this part of the cycle and reminds us that we tend to forget that on good days the conditions can be much better. A=6 and K=1.

19 Jun 2018

Earth-electrode "antenna" at MF and LF

Several people have asked me about my somewhat unconventional "antenna" at LF and MF. Let me say from the outset, if you can erect a "proper" antenna and ground at LF and MF you will do better, but at 2 QTHs the earth-electrode "antenna" worked for me. No-one knows it is there yet it regularly gets my 5mW ERP WSPR copied over 1000km!

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/earth-electrode-antennas

Baltic Holiday Blog - NOT amateur radio

As some of you know, we are spending 10 days exploring Baltic capitals. Some we have been to some before, whereas others are for the first time. Mainly to jog our memories in years to come, I have created a blog.
See https://baltichol18.blogspot.com/

Sunspots - Tuesday June 19th 2018

Solar flux is 72 today and the sunspot number 13.  A=5 and K=2.

18 Jun 2018

NZ spotted on 6m in the UK?

One UK station (at least) has reported spotting a ZL station on 6m FT8. My first reaction was this must be a pirate, but he has been copied in both the USA and Europe. We wait to see if this was genuine.

Old age?

Southgate News reports that attendance at Friedrichshafen was down on last year. Could this be because the amateur population is now mainly old men who find travel harder? If numbers are down next year too, it would not surprise me.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/june/attendance-dips-at-friedrichshafen-ham-radio-2018.htm#.WyfU2fZFxMs

Unfortunate name! - NOT amateur radio

I was amused to spot this in Sweden!

Sunspots - Monday June 18th 2018

Solar flux is 72 and the sunspot number 13. A=5 and K=2.

17 Jun 2018

FT8 and the Reverse Beacon Network

Quite a few use the RBN to see where their signals get even if they get no response on SSB and CW CQs. I have used it myself with QRP CW. Southgate News reports there are moves afoot to also spot FT8.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/june/the-reverse-beacon-network-and-ft8.htm#.WyaAVPZFxMs

White storks - NOT amateur radio

In Spain, white storks often build nests on pylons. Within 30 minutes of arriving in Lithuania we have seen 3!! These were all on the ground. I have yet to spot a nest.

Rarely, we see these migrating passing through the UK. The last UK one I saw was probably in the 1980s whilst I was getting dressed at the end of April. Over here, in Lithuania, they seem very common.

See https://ww2.rspb.org.uk/community/wildlife/b/wildlife/archive/2012/04/26/something-to-stork-about.aspx .

D-STAR zzzz

D-STAR is ICOM's proprietary digital modulation system. Sadly, it leaves me cold. OK, each to their own, but I just can't get exited over it or Yaesu's equivalent. I suspect this will play out like the VHS and Betamax video war in the 1980s. In the end one system will win and be adopted. Until then, thank you, I'll just watch.

Sunspots - Sunday June 17th 2018

Solar flux is 70 today and the sunspot number 13. A=3 and K=1.

16 Jun 2018

Network radios

Both PW and RadCom have articles in recent editions on network radios.

These look like conventional mobiles or portables with a PTT and an antenna (in the case of portables) but they connect to the internet, usually as the units are Android devices. They link to apps like Zello and Echolink, so can link to repeaters and amateurs elsewhere on the planet e.g. a mobile in Australia.

In reality they feel like conventional radios on 2m or 70cms. They can use 3G or 4G cellular networks or wifi. Apparently data only SIMs are very low cost. Not having used one I cannot comment.

With worsening HF conditions, these may appeal to many. Using the internet means that QSB and local noise are not problems and big antennas are not needed. Purist will ask, "is this real amateur radio?".

Stockholm, Sweden - NOT amateur radio

Stockholm in Sweden is a beautiful city built on several islands. It is one of my favourites. This morning we did a city tour and we revisited the Vasa Museum this afternoon. We ate at a Chinese buffet this evening. Wide choice and all you could eat for 451 krona (total cost for 2) including a couple of glasses of wine. Excellent value for 2 of us.

Sunspots - Saturday June 16th 2018

Solar flux is 71 today and the sunspot number 16. A=4 and K=1.

14 Jun 2018

5T2AI on 6m FT8

As well as D41CV in the Cape Verde Islands, I see that 5T2AI in Mauritania is being spotted on 6m FT8 this morning.

Bigger 6m in CEPT countries?

Apparently CEPT is discussing 6m as part of the agenda of its meeting this month in Tallinn. I cannot imagine this will be a high priority, but it would be good if CEPT had a common (and favourable) view on the 6m amateur band before WRC-19 next year.

It would also be good if all CEPT nations allocated the 4m band. The number of countries on 4m has increased in recent years.

OFCOM filing consultation

Now, don 't get too exited as it is not good for your heart, but guess what?

OFCOM is consulting about charging for its work on satellite filing!  Now, that is so exciting. Please sit down.

See https://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations-and-statements/category-1/satellite-filings-cost-recovery

South Devon - NOT amateur radio

A very similar photo was posted here recently. I go back there (on my own) in July to stay with my brother. This photo was taken last month.

Sunspots - Thursday June 14th 2018

Solar flux is 72 and the sunspot number still 12. A=4 and K=1.

A reminder that I get my solar data from http://www.hamqsl.com/solar.html

13 Jun 2018

10m WSPR TX

Yesterday, FY5KE (7110km) spotted my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon 26 times. Today, there is plenty of Es around again. Apart from EA8BFK (2880km) in the Canary Is. these were all Euopeans.

Sunspots - Wednesday 13th June 2018

Solar flux is 70 today and the sunspot number 12. A=4 and K=2.

6m FT8 RX

Apart from 4X4DK (3580km) all 6m spots today have been either Gs, EI and Europeans by Es. No "exotic" DX so far here! Sorry, 7X2TT in North Africa.

12 Jun 2018

Short Waves

As a child, we had low noise levels (apart from LORAN on the top part of topband) and lots of shortwave broadcasters, many in English. These days many (most?) are plagued with very high manmade noise and there are few English language broadcasters. I enjoyed QSLing many stations. Some sent me gifts too as recently as the 1970s.  Much was communist propaganda. Most of this was ignored. What was more important was that QSL card.

As I have said before, you can take a nostalgic trip into the past. The shortwave bands are not the same!

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/interval

UK Pound against Euro - NOT amateur radio

Not quite sure why, but the UK Pound has suddenly jumped against the Euro as if something happened. No doubt I'll find out later. I expect it will fall again tomorrow.

That summit - NOT amateur radio

As readers may have noticed, I am not great fan of US President Trump. However, I think what has happened, so far, in Singapore between him and Kim of North Korea is a step on the road to peace.

North Korea is a strange place, but sworn enemies have to look to the future. The USA and North Korea are very different places and are likely to remain so for quite a while. They need to respect their differences and think of the future.

The meeting could so easily have ended with President Trump storming out. It didn't. I am sure both men want mutual respect and peace.

Stroke after effect? - NOT amateur radio

As I am 70 later this year, I am not sure if this is just old age or yet another after-effect of my 2013 stroke. The worst time of the day for me is after breakfast. Even though I usually sleep well I am always, without fail, very exhausted. After a rest of about 30 minutes, when I usually blog, I am OK.

Another thing I have noticed: I seem weaker. Yesterday we cleaned our carpets and this totally exhausted me. I wasn't so tired last year. Lifting the carpet cleaner felt about twice as hard. Now, this may just be old age, but I think it is something linked to my 2013 stroke.

10m WSPR TX

Since just before breakfast, my 500mW WSPR beacon has been on 10m. No spots yet today.

UPDATE 1030z: Just one spot received today so far. EA8BFK (2880km) in the Canary Is..

UPDATE 1658z: Just 4 spots so far today on 10m WSPR TX.

UPDATE 1832z: FY5KE (7110km) is the best DX spot of my 500mW WSPR beacon on 10m today.



6m FT8 RX

Already, there is some Es to Spain on 6m FT8 RX.  3 Spanish stations (Es) as well as several Gs spotted in the last few hours.

UPDATE 0904z: 12 stations in 3 countries spotted so far on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1029z: 32 stations in 5 countries so far on 6m FT8 RX today.

UPDATE 1346z: Best DX today so far on 6m FT8 RX is FM5AN (6792km) on Martinique, West Indies. Spots suggest he is genuine and not a pirate.

UPDATE 1807z: WP4G (6803km) now spotted in Puerto Rico on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1930z: My best DX on 6m FT8 RX is now PV8DX (7830km) in northern Brazil. As this station is being widely spotted in Europe and North America, I am pretty sure he is genuine. Funny how D41CV (4518km) would be considered "real" 6m DX, but this is small fry compared with PV8DX!

Roses - NOT amateur radio

Last week we visited the David Austin place which specialises in roses. It is near Wolverhampton. I have never seen so many roses! That is me on the left.

Sunspots - Tuesday June 12th 2018

Solar flux is 69 today and the sunspot number remains 0. A=4 and K=2.

11 Jun 2018

How to lose friends? - NOT amateur radio

This beggars belief from "the leader of the free world". Toys, prams etc. come to mind. If China is dumping steel maybe, but the EU and Canada?

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-44434558

Even more simple VHF and up licence?

On Southgate News there is a report about the RSGB's thoughts on activity levels on VHF and UHF bands. Apparently activity levels have dropped badly in the UK and there is talk of an even simpler exam and licence to encourage activity. There is no doubt that the hobby is facing a future crisis as people get older, less active, and die.

Like many things, we seem to try "dumbing down" as the answer. The basic issue is radio is not the magic it was to many in the 1950s and 1960s. These days you only have to look at the magazines for sale in newsagents to see this. Sadly, there are far more gaming, PC and railway magazines with, if you are lucky, just a couple of radio magazines.

Certainly, many on 2m have switched to FT8. A casual tune across the bands would suggest low levels of activity. Some would argue much less wide bands would do.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/june/could-a-new-entry-level-licence-boost-vhf-uhf-activity.htm#.Wx42tPZFzIU

6m FT8

So far, 18 stations in 2 countries spotted on 6m FT8 RX this morning with Es to Spain evident.  A brief TX period (2.5W to my V2000 vertical omni antenna) brought spots from 6 G stations.

UPDATE 1125z: 30 stations in 4 countries so far on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1935z: Loads of Es stations again on 6m FT8 RX with best DX 4X4DK (3580km) who was a very strong 0dB S/N. This looks like E layer propagation, but is it double hop Es or something else?

10m WSPR TX

Although my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon has been on since before breakfast, no spots today so far.

UPDATE 1930z: 113 10m spots today. 11 unique stations with best DX EA8BFK (2880km).

Sunspots - Monday June 11th 2018

Solar flux is 69 today and the sunspot number 0 still. A=4 and K=1.

Younger and thinner! - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows me and the family over 20 years ago. We were all a lot younger and thinner back then!

DX spots map

If you want to see which bands are "open" to where then this site might be of interest. You can select bands, modes and continents.

See https://www.dxmaps.com/spots/mapg.php?Lan=E&Frec=50&ML=M&Map=NA&HF=N&DXC=ING2&GL=N

10 Jun 2018

The great FT8 debate

Like Marmite (here in the UK) you either love it or hate it! I love FT8.

Reading Southgate News today I was pointed to Dom Smith's blog on the subject. My voice is poor these days so I find speech modes hard. I also like seeing what is coming through on a different PC in the house, whilst doing something else. Although I go on FT8 TX sometimes, I use RX mostly.

See  http://www.domsmith.co.uk/blog/2018/06/09/the-great-ft8-debate/

UPDATE 1336z: There is little doubt that FT8 is controversial. Some see it as the end of amateur radio as we knew it: the end of casual chats, leisurely QSOs. They may be right. Certainly FT8 is not a chat mode. Fast(ish) formulaic QSOs yes, but these cannot be received by a casual SWL. On the other hand it has transformed operating for many allowing QSOs where these would not have happened in the past. Every time I go on 2m FT8, even when conditions are "flat" I seem to get spots from over 300km away despite running 2.5W to an omni antenna! Every time I spend a day on 2m RX I seem to spot stations very very far away. It certainly has transformed bands for many. Overall, I think FT8 is a good thing.

10m WSPR TX

For the last hour (I guess) I have been on 10m WSPR TX (500mW, 100% TX, randomised frequencies).

UPDATE 1000z: Still no spots as yet.

UPDATE 1205z: So far today, just one spot from CT1CAK (1438km).

UPDATE 2006z: 19 spots of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon from FY5KE (7110km) in South America. At times, he was receiving me at -9dB S/N. 15 different stations spotted me today.

6m FT8 RX

I stayed on 6m FT8 RX (50.313MHz) overnight, but no Americans spotted. This morning, so far, quite a few Es stations from Iberia as well as many Gs.

Best DX, so far, is EA8AQV (2989km) in the Canary Is..

UPDATE 0959z: So far, 21 stations in 4 countries today on 6m FT8.  41 countries spotted on 6m in the last day.

UPDATE 1345z: Umpteen stations in 6 countries spotted today on 6m FT8 RX.

Church Fete - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday was our village church fete. Years ago the fete was in the vicarage garden. These days it is in the churchyard and church.

Sunspots - Sunday June 10th 2018

Solar flux is 68 today and the sunspot number 0.  A=4 and K=2.

9 Jun 2018

Afghanistan - NOT amateur radio

In the middle of the 1800s we were fighting in Afghanistan. Recently I read that the Taliban now controls the main city in Helmand province where many US and UK troops lost their lives. Was it worth it? Probably not.

If we have been fighting in Afghanistan for so long, you would think we'd mind our own business. Some battles are not worth fighting. Putting our troops in Afghanistan must have wasted billions. Better we spend the money on something more useful.

FT8

There is little doubt that FT8 is a very big thing.

On 6m FT8 this morning I have spotted well over 50 different stations already. QSOs (albeit basic) are fast and all the activity is concentrated in a few kilohertz on each band. It works with weaker signals than CW or SSB.

What I fear is people will desert SSB and CW and use FT8 instead. A casual tune across bands might lead some to think the band is dead.

What happens when we die? - NOT amateur radio

When we are young, we assume death is a long way off and nothing to think about too much. As we grow older, I guess dying has a greater concern. In my own case, if I see another 20 years I'll be doing well. On my paternal side both my dad and granddad died in their 60s. I am 69.

Basically, we just cease to exist or something of us carries on in some sort of after life. The truth is no-one really knows. It is the deepest mystery of all.

What is certain is that we cannot imagine this: we live in one plain of a multi-dimensional universe. Religions hint at an after-life, yet all are different. In my mind, they are attempts to explain our existence, but all (probably) are incomplete or wrong looking at them with the perspective of history. We still believed in witches not too many generations ago! Some believed in fairies in the last century!

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/zs4k39q#zskdg82

Sibling reunion - NOT amateur radio

The picture shows my wife's siblings at a meal a few days ago. We had a good time, although I found the driving is getting harder.

10m WSPR TX

Already there are plenty of spots from southern Europe of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon (500mW, 100% TX, randomised frequencies). OZ7IT (853km) was spotting me in the middle of the night!

My strongest report (from Italy) was -9dB S/N. This implies just 5mW would have been enough if the receiving station had a nice, quiet noise floor.

UPDATE 1248z: Best DX today, so far, on 10m WSPR TX is IK0DMQ (1484km).

UPDATE 1522z: Well, I am surprised. Apparently my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon has been copied by 73 unique stations in the last 2 weeks.

UPDATE 1540z: A couple of reports (Italy and Germany) were 0dB S/N. This is very strong. Es definitely. Several hours later DK6UG was spotting me at up to +10dB S/N. Amazing.

UPDATE 1801z: 15 unique spots of my 10m, 500mW WSPR beacon so far today.
10m WSPR TX spots far today

6m FT8 RX today

Although it is only 0836z, there is already lots of Es evident on 6m FT8 RX. Es looks good today.

UPDATE 0858z: Already 12 countries spotted here today on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1136z: Best DX today so far on 6m FT8 RX is 5B4AAB (3185km).

UPDATE 1218z: 21 countries spotted so far today on 6m FT8 RX.
6m FT8 RX so far today


Homebrew videos

Thanks to a recent post on Southgate News, I have seen the homebrew videos by Charlie Morris ZL2CTM. Inspiring.

See https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSNPW3_gzuMJcX_ErBZTv2g/videos .

Sunspots - Saturday June 9th 2018

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

Towpath walk - NOT amateur radio

Walking along the towpath of the Coventry Canal earlier this week with a narrowboat along side.  At one time narrowboats were important means of moving goods. These days they are mainly for pleasure. One of our nephews is going to live on a narrowboat during the week to be near his work.

8 Jun 2018

No American DX on 6m FT8 tonight?

Although I shall be monitoring 6m FT8 through the night, I have the feeling that no transatlantic DX will be spotted tonight. The Canary Isles were spotted this morning, but all the spots since have been EU and North Africa. Very recent spots have been UK and Eastern and Southern Europe.

UPDATE 9.6.18 0600z: Indeed no American stations spotted here on 6m overnight.

IC7300 Price

Are the UK dealers playing chicken?

In the UK the IC7300 price is still the same, but now accompanied by all sorts of free extras.

Now, I have little doubt this is a good radio, but I still feel it is being "market priced". By that I mean we buy at the ticket price as there is no real competition from the other big players and most are happy to pay.

The architecture would allow the price to be reduced to less than £1000. Will it happen any time soon?

Toy Car - NOT amateur radio

This toy car was seen a few days ago at a National Trust place near Wolverhampton.

More on our reunion - NOT amateur radio

As mentioned yesterday, every year we meet up with my wife's brothers for a sibling reunion. It is good to get together for a happy occasion. This was the 3 siblings on Wednesday evening.

SAQ (17.2kHz CW) transmissions July 1st 2018

To celebrate Alexanderson Day on July 1st 2018, there will be several transmissions from the historic radio station SAQ (VLF) on that day. There will also be special event stations active on several amateur bands. I think QSL cards will be available. I have one from many years ago.

See http://alexander.n.se/the-radio-station-saq-grimeton/saq-transmissions/?lang=en

Lichfield - NOT amateur radio

My brother-in-law lives in Lichfield and it is just a short walk from his home into Lichfield along side Stowe Pool.  Lichfield, Staffordshire is not too far north of Birmingham. Lichfield is a delightful place.

More rallies

10 JUNE 2018 : EAST SUFFOLK WIRELESS REVIVAL (Ipswich Radio Rally)

Kirton Recreation Ground, Back Road, Kirton IP10 0PW just off the A14. Doors open at 9.30am, with free car parking. Entry is £2. There will be trade stands, car boot sale, Bring and Buy, special interests groups, GB4SWR HF station and an RSGB bookstall. Catering is available on site. Contact Kevin, G8MXV, 07710 046 846 www.eswr.org.uk.


10 JUNE 2018 : JUNCTION 28 RALLY


Bowls Hall, Alfreton Leisure Centre, Alfreton, Derbyshire. Anya Lawrence on 01246 456 625 or adylawri@btinternet.com.



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

OFCOM and 900MHz and 1800MHz licence fees

Yet more joy in heaven. £££££ via OFCOM.

See http://ofcom.cmail19.com/t/ViewEmail/i/44C020C8E6C498612540EF23F30FEDED/59D1BD3EA2F08127C67FD2F38AC4859C

6m FT8

A very brief QSO before breakfast  has been followed by lots of Es on 6m FT8 RX. The best spot of my own low ERP signal was from northern Spain. Best DX on 6m FT8 RX is currently 7X2TT (1766km) in North Africa.

UPDATE 1905z: In the last day, 40 different countries spotted here on 6m FT8 RX. I have lost count of all the stations spotted by Es today on 6m FT8 RX. Best DX on 6m FT8 RX is EA8EE (3014km) in the Canary Islands.

Sunspots - Friday June 8th 2018

Solar flux is 69 and the sunspot number zero. A=6 and K=1.

10m WSPR TX

This morning, I am again on 10m WSPR TX (500mW, 100% TX, randomised frequencies). Several Es spots already with the best DX EA8BFK (2880km) in the Canary Is.

UPDATE 2142z: 20 different stations spotted my little 10m WPR beacon today, mostly by Es.

7 Jun 2018

Rally

9 JUNE 2018 : PORTSMOUTH RADIO RALLY

Milton Village Hall, 182 Milton Road, Southsea, Portsmouth PO4 8PR. Free on-street and disabled parking. Doors open 12.30pm, admission £2, tables £5 (clubs, charities etc free). Any profits will go to RAIBC. Matthew, 0793 615 2846, Matthew.twyman63@btinternet.com.

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

6m FT8 RX

Since returning home, I have been monitoring 6m FT8. Quite a few stations spotted by Es with the best DX currently S01WS (3043km) in Western Sahara.

UPDATE 2055z: Best 6m FT RX DX spotted in now D41CV (4518km) in the Cape Verde Islands.

10m WSPR TX

For a few days we have been away from the QTH, so I have not been on the air. Since returning home, I have been on 10m WSPR TX with my beacon (500mW, 100% RX, random frequencies). As well as EU stations spotting me by Es, FY5KE (7110km) has been spotting me in South America. At times these reports have been quite strong. This is probably Es but could be F layer.

OFCOM preparations for WRC19

OFCOM has produced a consultation document on the UK preparations for WRC19. One of the low priority agenda items is the allocation of 50-54MHz to amateurs in Region 1. To be honest they seem more focussed on satellite services and money.

See https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/114524/consultation-wrc-19.pdf

Sibling reunion - NOT amateur radio

Since 2002, my wife has got together with her two brothers. We take it in turns to act as hosts. Long may it continue. It is good to meet up on a happy occasion. We always enjoy a nice meal, treating the hosts.

Sunspots - Thursday June 7th 2018

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

6 Jun 2018

Sunspots - Wednesday June 6th 2018

Solar flux is 70 today and the sunspot number 11. A=10 and K=2.

OFCOM updates

Every month OFCOM publishes its "Communications Monthly" as an update on their work. Gosh, this is a real page turner. Every page is more exciting than the last. Forget thrillers and crime fiction! Said with a lot of sarcasm. One day, maybe when I am pushing up daisies, they will get back to real work. Say 2080?

See http://ofcom.cmail20.com/t/ViewEmail/i/DA889B534ABC6DEF2540EF23F30FEDED/59D1BD3EA2F08127C67FD2F38AC4859C

Hungary gets WRC 60m allocation

According to Southgate News, Hungarian amateurs have been allocated the WRC 5MHz band. Previously (to late last year) they had a 100kHz wide allocation.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/june/hungary-back-on-60m.htm#.Wxb5ffZFzIU .

5 Jun 2018

Funerals - NOT amateur radio

At one time we went to weddings and christenings. Already this year we have gone to 4 funerals!  I guess this is part of getting older. Sadly, as you get older more and more people around our own age are dying.

Still, at least the suit gets an outing. Otherwise it would still be in the wardrobe. ๐Ÿ˜Š

President Trump's UK visit - NOT amateur radio

Apparently the visit to the UK by the US president is due to happen later this summer. Especially with his tariffs on steel and aluminium he may not get the warmest of welcomes. No doubt some will welcome him, whereas others would prefer it if he stayed at home.

Special relationship??

Pirates

It is getting harder to know if stations received are genuine nowadays. With remote operation, you can be in Timbuktu yet remotely operating gear in Europe.

Also, some people run pirate stations, so one has to be very careful. Caveat emptor.

Drawing - NOT amateur radio

Not sure if this photo was on the blog recently. If it has been on before, my apologies.

It shows our younger granddaughter drawing in the garden in the May sunshine.

Sunspots - Tuesday June 5th 2018

Solar flux is 71 today and the sunspot number 11. A=5 and K=2

4 Jun 2018

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

So far today, 10 different stations have spotted my little 10m WSPR TX beacon (100% TX, 500mW, random frequency).  Best DX is EA8BFK (2880km).

6m: 4 continents and 56 countries spotted in last day

6m FT8 is "humming". Yesterday alone was amazing with 56 countries spotted and some real DX to the Caribbean and South America. There is good EU Es on 6m FT8 this morning as well.

UPDATE 0845z: Amazing DX! K6CWQ (8557km) in California just spotted on 6m FT8! This cannot be multi hop Es: I am more convinced than ever this is some other E layer propagation. This station was widely spotted across Europe. As Steve (see below) points out, this could be a European pirate, sadly. If there were some USA spots, it might be more believable.

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

Sunspots - Monday June 4th 2018

Solar flux is 73 and the sunspot number 20 today. A=10 and K=2.

3 Jun 2018

Fun - NOT amateur radio

Our granddaughter put this on my wife's head and laughed!  Funny how certain things appeal to the humour of a very young child.

They grow up all too soon.

10m WSPR TX

Since early this morning I have been on 10m WSPR TX again (500mW, 100% TX, randomised frequencies).
UPDATE 1232z: So far, 20 different stations spotting me from all over Europe and North Africa. Best DX so far today on 10m WSPR is a spot by EA8BFK (2880km) in the Canary Isles.

UPDATE 1812z: Now 36 different stations spotting my little 500mW 10m WSPR beacon today.

6m FT8

There is a lot of Es evident on 6m FT8 today. After a very brief TX session (4 G spots at 2.5W) lots of EUs spotted. So far (1111z) well over 120 different stations spotted in 26 countries. Amazing Es. Best DX A92AA (5069km) in Bahrain.
UPDATE 1645z: Best 6m FT8 RX DX is now WP4G (6803km) in Puerto Rico at 1528z. This is my first spotting of 6m FT8 from the Americas. Es today has been superb on 6m and 10m.

UPDATE 1859z: My first South American on 6m FT8 RX! YV5LI (7559km) in Brazil is now the best DX on 6m this season.

UPDATE 2120z: Haiti and The Dominican Republic now spotted. But will I spot the USA on 6m this season?

UPDATE 2008z: Best DX today on 6m FT8 RX is PV8DX (7832km).

Sunspots - Sunday June 3rd 2018

Solar flux is 74 today and the sunspot number 20. A=17 and K=3.

2 Jun 2018

Battery Technology

Since I retired 10 years ago, I have rather lost touch with advances in battery technology.

There is no doubt that if electric cars are to really take off, then ranges have to be increase significantly (300 miles on a single charge), batteries have to get much cheaper, materials have to be commonplace and charge times have to be fast. I have not heard any real news to confirm these are progressing.

There is no doubt that a lot of research must be going on in this area for PCs, mobile phones and electric cars.

6m FT8 RX

Although there was Es quite late yesterday, nothing spotted yet on 6m FT8 today. A brief TX period (2.5W) resulted in spots from 2 local Gs. Strange that nothing received today on 6m FT8 so far, not even Gs.

UPDATE 0912z: One spot so far of IZ7TLV (1660km).

UPDATE 1435z: Apparently in the last 24 hours I have spotted stations in 43 countries on 6m FT8. Today so far, 58 stations in 18 countries.

Sunspots - Saturday June 2nd 2018

Solar flux is 74 today and the sunspot number is 22. A=26 and K=4.

1 Jun 2018

Trump-Kim summit back on - NOT amateur radio

"Mr Trump said it was "a very interesting letter and at some point it may be appropriate" to share it. He later said he had not yet read it."

This was on the BBC website. I assume it is correct. It looks like the USA - North Korea summit on June 12th in Singapore is back on again.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-44339003

MLS weekend deals

Yet again, MLS has some deals for the weekend.

See https://www.hamradio.co.uk/

2 years to next minimum

Recent relatively high sunspot numbers may lead hopeful souls to think cycle 24 has ended and we are starting cycle 25. Sorry to be the bringer of bad news, but it looks like we have another 2 years until the next minimum according to http://www.solen.info/solar/. It looks like the recent improvement is temporary.  No, I think 2019 and 2020 will pass before we see any real signs of things getting better. All the forecasts suggest cycle 25 will be quite poor.

See http://www.solen.info/solar/images/comparison_recent_cycles.png .

Visa hiccups - NOT amateur radio

They tell us that Visa payments failed throughout Europe today because of "network issues". Well, I hope this is true and not an elaborate hacking attempt. There are certain countries that would like to cause chaos by disrupting computer networks by cyber terrorism.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44335804