31 Jul 2018

Starlings on the windmill - NOT amateur radio

For some reason we have had a lot more starlings stopping by on "our" windmill next door today. They fly off to their roost, but I don't know where this is.

This photo was taken earlier.

Latest HAARP WSPR test tweets

The HAARP team in Alaska tweeted this an hour ago:

HAARP WSPR plan for 31 July 2018 UTC
2340: WSPR vert 02 var gain const power 80m 3.5926 MHz
2348: WSPR vert 01 var gain var power 80m 3.5926 MHz
2356: WSPR vert 02 var gain const power 80m 3.5926 MHz
0004+: WSPR vert 01 var gain var power 40m 7.0386 MHz

80m FT8 and HAARP experiments

As I was already on 6m FT8, I thought I'd try 80m FT8 for a total change. At first, no-one was spotted, then I copied G8IHT (257km) in IO94 square calling CQ. I soon went back to 6m as stations were working the USA.

I have a theory about the HAARP WSPR experiments on 80m. Perhaps they know lots about HAARP but little about WSPR, particularly how important timing is. To get no reports at all on 80m WSPR last night with over 1GW ERP seems impossible to me. OK, I may be wrong, but with this huge ERP and so many monitors, it suggests something fundamental must have been wrong. OK it could have been poor propagation, but I just wonder.

UPDATE 1805z: Now gone back on 80m FT8 RX. Most 15 second periods I am getting spots.
80m FT8 RX spots so far today

UPDATE 1940z: I am back on 80m FT8 RX. There are lots and lots of stations active. My guess is this is twice as popular (at least) as WSPR.

UPDATE 1956z: A45XR (5794km) is currently the best DX spotted. This station is being widely spotted in Europe and in India, so I think this is genuine.

Magnetic loops

With high power transmitters, magnetic loop TX antennas often require special capacitors for tuning as the voltages can be high if these antennas are efficient. With QRP this is not the case and great success can be had with "ordinary" parts.

I have been amazed in the past how well they work, especially considering how small they can be. The secret is to use thick wire, ideally copper pipe or coax for the coil. For modes like WSPR, FT8 and PSK31 where big changes in frequency are not needed, these can be perfect.

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

10m WSPR TX again (500mW)

As the antenna is available, I have just (at 0904z) turned on the 10m WSPR beacon. It is very unlikely I'll get any spots for a while, even if there is Es around. It usually takes 15-20 minutes for things to settle.

UPDATE 0930z: Surprisingly, already 6 German spots even though the crystal in the beacon is still settling.

UPDATE 1134z: So far today, 68 spots by 11 different stations, of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon with best DX EA8BFK (2880km) in the Canary Is..

Return to 6m FT8

At least for the day, I have returned to 6m FT8 using the V2000 vertical omni antenna. A brief CQ much earlier (2.5W) brought spots from the UK and Portugal, but no QSOs. Since then I have been RX only with 17 different stations in 7 EU countries spotted, mostly presumably by Es.

UPDATE 1420z: 73 different stations in 22 countries spotted so far today on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1615z: Although I have not spotted any today yet, the better stations in the UK and The Netherlands are working the USA on 6m FT8. I shall remain on 6m FT8 RX until later this evening.

80m WSPR HAARP test

Well, it appears the HAARP test from Alaska last night was only on 40m and not on 80m after all and they were only copied in North America on 40m.

Overall, using the earth-electrode "antenna" I spotted 51 different stations with best DX spotted on 80m WSPR being KC2WUF (5599km). Fellow local David G0LRD spotted 60 stations and more USA stations. Not sure what antenna he was using.

Overall I was quite surprised what I could copy on the earth electrode "antenna" in the ground. I shall have to try this on 160m WSPR or FT8 sometime. I think it acts as a loop so may be more directional than a long wire

UPDATE 1257z: According to John (see comment) they were on 80m WSPR. I shall try again tonight. See more recent post about the schedule for July31st.

Sunspots - Tuesday July 31st 2018

Solar flux is 67 today and the sunspot number still zero. A=5 and K=2.

30 Jul 2018


Well, I am all set to monitor 80m WSPR late this evening for the HAARP experiment from Alaska. Best results seem to be on the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. The map shows the stations spotted in the last hour. It seems to work remarkably well as an 80m RX antenna.

UPDATE 2119z:  40 different stations spotted so far on 80m WSPR this evening with the earth electrode "antenna" in the ground with best DX spot being SV8QG (2488km).

Cycle 25 hope?

"As of July 2018 the strength of the polar fields hints at a cycle 25 with a magnitude slightly stronger than that of cycle 24."

The above was on http://www.solen.info/solar/ . We live in hope!

East Cambridgeshire 2m FM Net

A reminder for those in the area of the East Cambs net on 144.575MHz FM at 1900z Mondays. Yes, one four four. This started out as an AM net. Newcomers are welcomed. We rarely stay on more than 30 minutes. Vertical polarisation. If the frequency is busy we usually QSY down 25kHz, although this is rare.

East Anglian Churches blog - NOT amateur radio

When we visit churches in East Anglia we try to update our East Anglian Churches Blog.

This has just been done to include Holme next the Sea in north Norfolk. This is a simple, light and airy church, not far from the coast.

I am afraid the updates to this churches blog are quite infrequent!

Rock strata - NOT amateur radio

Hunstanton is a typical English seaside resort about 50 miles north of us. The rocks there show very interesting patterns in the strata.

Sunspots - Monday July 30th 2018

Solar flux is 68 today and the sunspot number 0 .  A= 5 and K=1.

137kHz E-field probe on the car mag-mount

Many years ago, I tried looking for my tiny 137kHz beacon with a small E-field probe mag-mounted on the car. After seeing the signal quite well on the far side of Cambridge at about 24km, I stopped the test. As you can see, the EFP used readily available parts and was very simple.

At some point I should rebuild this and try from the QTH we moved to almost 5 years ago, maybe using the earth-electrode "antenna" on TX. I have felt too unwell since my stroke.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/137efp

HAARP 80m WSPR test

A reminder that WI2XFX, in Alaska, will be on the air tonight on 3.5926 USB dial (2300z for about 30 minutes) with a huge ERP on WSPR using the HAARP antennas. See the ARRL site for more details. I may try looking for it using my earth electrode "antenna" in the ground.

10m FT8

For a change today I am on 10m FT8. Although an earlier CQ got no response I have already spotted an Italian.

UPDATE 0858z: Quite a bit of Es already today on 10m FT8 as the map shows.

UPDATE 1514z: 263 different stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today including the USA and Canada-  and we are approaching sunspot minimum. I shall probably remain on until about 1900z tonight when I need the rig for another band (2m FM net) and then the HAARP 80m WSPR test.

UPDATE 1710z: So far 342 different stations on 10m FT8 today in 5 continents. With FT8 who needs sunspots!

29 Jul 2018


On both 6m and 10m I have now gone QRT and disconnected everything. I noticed a CT calling "CQ NA" , although I am not sure if he was copying stations from "across the pond" on 6m FT8.

Tomorrow I may try 10m FT8, although I want to see if I can see the 80m WSPR test from the HAARP station in Alaska in the late evening UK time.

Sunspots - Sunday July 29th 2018

Solar flux is 68 today and the SSN still zero. A= 5 and K=1.

6m FT8 RX

Well, I am glad I stayed on 6m FT8 RX last night! In the end 19 USA, Canadian and Caribbean stations  were spotted from Puerto Rico to Nova Scotia. This was just on my V2000 vertical omni fed with CB coax. No doubt better equipped stations will have spotted or worked far more.
This morning I am on 6m FT8 RX. So far, just EU and North Africa spotted.

UPDATE 1018z: So far 42 different stations in 17 countries spotted on 6m FT8 RX this morning.

UPDATE 1552z: 152 different stations spotted so far today on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1906z:  Currently 217 different stations spotted in just the last day on 6m FT8 RX. 59 different DXCC countries spotted on 6m FT8 RX since Friday lunchtime. Not bad for a simple RX antenna (V2000 omni vertical) fed with CB coax.

Simple pleasures - NOT amateur radio

This was my granddaughter at the Norfolk seaside last week. If it's hot, simple pleasures please.

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

As is usual, I am on 10m WSPR TX again. Best DX spot so far this morning is SQ3XZ (1113km). This is clearly Es.

UPDATE 1550z: 62 spots today by 7 different stations on 10m WSPR so far today.

LF transmissions with ferrite rod TX antenna

A week ago a unique LF test took place in Germany by Marcus, DF6NM.

This morning I attempted to transmit from a small ferrite antenna. It consists of a number of 9 mm diameter ferrite rods, with 7 bundled in parallel. The bundles were stacked with overlap to ~ 35 cm total length, and n=47 turns of litz wire were wound around the middle. Total ferrite cross section is a=4.45 cm^2 and volume V=156 cm^3, weighing 0.77 kg (including the coil). The coil was resonated and matched by several 1 nF high-Q ceramic capacitors.

Under small signal conditions (-17 dBm), the electric parameters at 137.5 kHz were
 L = 0.50 mH, R = 0.62 ohm, Q = 690.

Applying about half a watt significantly increased inductance and losses, and the tuning became sharply hysteretic ("jumpy"). For fine tuning, a small rod was placed at a variable distance beside the antenna.

Then I connected my PA and drove about 25 Watts into the antenna. Losses and inductance increased further:
 I = 1.3 A, U = 867 V (rms), L = 0.77 mH, R = 14.8 ohmn, Q = 45,
with the Q-factor now so low that tuning jumps disappeared again. The central part under the coil became quite hot, so a tiny fan was added which held the steady-state temperature at ~55 °C.

From the induced voltage we can calculate the flux density in the middle of the rod as
 B = U / n / a / omega = 48 mT (rms),
decreasing approximately linearly toward the ends (similar to a small electric dipole). The average Bav=24 mT then results in a dipole moment of
 iA = V Bav / µ0 = 156 cm^3 * 24 mT / µ0 = 3.0 Am^2
which results in a radiated power
 EMRP = 62.34 kohm * iA^2 / lambda^4 = 25 nW.
Thus the efficiency of this transmit antenna is only 1 ppb !

Anyway I attempted to detect the tiny signal on the DL0AO LF grabber, 48 km from here:
Transmitting on 137.780 kHz (6:29 to 8:22 UT) indeed produced a detectable trace in the QRSS-60 window (below the Slonim Loran line on 137781.25 Hz). Then I attempted to send a 4-character EbNaut transmission on 137.510 KHz, which was successfully decoded with some margin.

Now if that's not QRP... anyway fascinating, considering that the small ferrite antenna might be carried in a handbag, buried in the ground or taken to a cave.

Best 73,
Markus (DF6NM)

28 Jul 2018

Echolink QSO

Just had a very FB QSO with a USA station via a New Jersey repeater using Echolink. This was a chat. He even managed to understand my poor voice!

VLF DX tests with earth-electrode antennas

Stefan DK7FC is transmitting 75W into an earth-electrode "antenna" and seeing if he leaves a trace on the RX at Todmorden in the UK.

"Hi VLF,

I'm sitting in my car while writing this email. I'm in JN39WI96GX and i transmit on 8270.000 Hz with a GPS locked signal generator into an about 450 m long earth antenna using two guide rails as the earth electrodes on both ends. On each end there are 16 (18) massive T-T poles holding the guide rail, providing a super good earth coupling. I measured that they are connected to each other.
The transmitter is on the air since 9:08 UTC running 550 mA with just 75 W DC inout power into my hand warm lossy linear mode VLF PA!

I'm amazed about the low losses! At DC i got 447 mA at 50.9 V. The wire is 0.4 mm diameter so it has 63 Ohm. That means the ground loss is just 50 Ohm !!!! Amazing! And i have no efforts to build up a ground connection here, i just need to connect the wire. Since the wire losses are higher than the ground losses, i can get maybe 2 dB more signal when buying some better wire. I already found a source that offers 0.75 mm^2 100 m loudspeaker cable (i.e. 200m wire)for just 13 EUR....

BTW i even have an ugly old scope here which is battery powered. I can see that the phase of voltage and current is slightly inductive, maybe 30 deg or so. So i could series resonate the antenna with some C. This is for the next experiment...

The signal becomes visible on my grabber now, in 424 uHz and also some bright pixels in the 3.8 mHz window.

I'm going to stop the carrier at 10:08 UTC, after 1 hour. Then i'll continue on 5.17 kHz!
BTW the antenna , if it works like a real loop, is beaming directly to Paul Nicholson ;-)

73, Stefan"

WSJT-X version 2.0 coming

Amateur Radio Weekly points out that there will be some significant changes to FT8 and MSK144 when v2.0 is released, probably around the end of the year. Beta testing has still to be done. This news first appeared on the ARRL site.

UPDATE 1302z July 31st: Title changed. I had it wrong!

See http://www.arrl.org/news/view/significant-changes-in-store-for-ft8-and-msk144-with-wsjt-x-version-2-0?utm_source=amateur-radio-weekly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter

Bob G3WKW has pointed me to the original source http://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/wsjt-x_v2.0.txt

80m WSPR using HAARP antennas and 80kW

Southgate News has a piece about 80m WSPR tests using the massive HAARP antennas and huge powers up in Alaska. This may well be worth looking for.

At one time this was a US government facility, I believe, and the centre of all sorts of conspiracy theories!

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/july/listen-out-for-haarp-wspr-80m-transmissions.htm#.W1xyh_ZFzIU


Yet again, I am on 10m WSPR TX (500mW) as the antenna is free. No spots yet.

UPDATE 1340z: 23 spots so far today, all Denmark and Germany.

UPDATE 1834z: FY5KE (7110km) spotted my 10m WSPR beacon at teatime. This is my best DX today.

UPDATE 2010z: 14 different stations have spotted me today. Time to go QRT.

Granddaughter and strawberries - NOT amateur radio

We spent a week in north Norfolk last week on holiday. The picture shows our granddaughter enjoying strawberries with her mum and French grandma. We ate outside most days.

Sunspots -- Saturday July 28th 2018

Solar flux is 67 today and the SSN remains zero.  A=4 and K=2.

6m FT8

As there are no storms expected today I shall probably give 6m FT8 a go shortly.

UPDATE 0845z: Best DX on 6m FT8 RX is UT4XU (1963km).

UPDATE 0958z: Best DX on 6m FT8 RX is now A45XR (5794km) in Oman in the Middle East. As this station is being very widely reported in Europe and Japan, I think this is genuine.

UPDATE 1350z: Plenty of 6m FT8 Es with stations all over Europe, Israel, the Gulf States and the Canaries spotted on 6m FT8 RX. Nothing from the Americas spotted here yet today.

UPDATE 2004z: Even now there is Es on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 2024z: I was going to turn the rig off, but there are still USA stations being called by "real" stations with beams, so I decided to stay on, at least for now.  I am hopeful that even my very modest station might detect some of these DX stations on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 2107z: I was right. KB4MRX (7072km) in Florida, USA spotted. Now WP4G (6803km) in Puerto Rico in the Caribbean.

27 Jul 2018

Rain at last - NOT amateur radio

The last time I saw rain here in Burwell was in May. Already the storm has arrived and we have rain.

A Toast - NOT amateur radio

Whilst in north Norfolk this week we celebrated our 47th wedding anniversary with one of our sons, his children and his French in-laws. The latter bought us champagne and a surprise hamper. It was a good week with excellent weather.


Whilst in north Norfolk, we had a very violent thunderstorm in the early hours. Apparently there was one here in Burwell too this morning, along with a brief power cut. More storms are due overnight.

A good place to look is https://www.lightningmaps.org/blitzortung/europe/index.php?lang=en. This map can be placed anywhere in the world and zoomed in. Very useful to see how close the risk is. At the moment, I look OK to remain on until at least 1600z.


Since getting home just before lunch, I have been on 10m WSPR TX (500mW) although up to now no spots at all received. It is now 1433z.

UPDATE 1523z:  EA1FBU (1297km) spotted me several times this afternoon on 10m WSPR before thunder forced me to go QRT.

Return to 6m FT8

With no storms due until tonight, I have returned to 6m FT8 QRP. A brief CQ earlier was spotted by a few stations, but resulted in no QSOs. Since then, I have been RX only. There is plenty of EU Es about.

UPDATE 1534z: Still plenty of EU Es as the map shows.
UPDATE 1642z: As there is thunder and lightning, everything has been disconnected and I have gone QRT.

Back home - NOT amateur radio

We are back home after a week in north Norfolk. The postman said there had been a storm at 6am. There is a need to water the plants (this evening) and I hope to reconnect my radios for this afternoon.  For once our home seemed small!

OFCOM and small scale DAB

OFCOM is after "expressions of interest" on small scale DAB.

See http://ofcom.createsend1.com/t/ViewEmail/i/44995242F11646D32540EF23F30FEDED/59D1BD3EA2F08127C67FD2F38AC4859C

Sunspots - Friday July 27th 2018

Solar flux is 66 today and the SSN zero.  A=4 and K=1 .

26 Jul 2018


We have had very high temperatures again today and it is quite possible that these will trigger some thunderstorms overnight or tomorrow. Maybe I shall be unable to go on 6m and 10m when I get home.

Fish and Chips - NOT amateur radio

A few days ago we ate fish and chips outside whilst on holiday.

Return to 10m and 6m

Assuming the storms are far enough away, I hope to return to these bands tomorrow.


Does anyone notice? OFCOM is writing to our public service broadcasters about children's TV.  Personally I'd give the people at OFCOM crayons to keep them amused.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2018/july/ofcom-publishes-update-on-childrens-content-review.htm#.W1mqiJDTWf0

Sunspots - Thursday July 26th 2018

Solar flux is 65 today (very low) and the SSN zero.  A=9 and K=1.

Last Full Day - NOT amateur radio

It seems hard to believe that today is the last full day of our Norfolk holiday. We could not have asked for better weather. Every day has been hot and sunny. Our cosy home will feel small!

25 Jul 2018

Sunspots - Wednesday July 25th 2018

Solar flux is 66 today and the SSN 0.  A=17 and K=2.  As far as I know this is the lowest flux seen for many years.

Holme next the sea - NOT amateur radio

We have had glorious sunshine all week. In fact the holiday weather could not be better.  For several mornings we have done a short walk before breakfast. The collage was taken early this morning. The house on the top left  is where we are staying and the top right show our surprise hamper given to us by our son's French in-laws.

Yaesu cashback

My friend Steve G1KQH (not "fridge" as my auto-correct wanted (!))  has reminded me of the Yaesu cashback offer which makes their rigs a bit less. I think there is a 3 year warranty on Yaesu too.

24 Jul 2018

Maplin and RadioShack

Sadly many of the stores from which we bought parts have closed. Although RadioShack is trying a small comeback the truth is that we buy things online and shops are finding it hard to compete. I don't know the answer, but there is little doubt that the high street has to change.

Sunspots - Tuesday July 24th 2018

Solar flux is 66 today and the SSN is zero . A=4 and  K=3.

Larry the Lamb music - NOT amateur radio

This is a long shot. Way back in the 1950s we watched "Larry the Lamb " on BBC Children's TV. We have been unable to find the music, despite looking for  it  on YouTube. If anyone knows a link, we would be  grateful.

23 Jul 2018

North Norfolk - NOT amateur radio

We took our son's French father-in-law for a ride along the north Norfolk coast this morning.  He speaks no English and gabbles on in French . These days driving is hard anyway, so I  was knackered!

Solar flare?

Apparently there is a good chance of a solar storm hitting the Earth on July 24th.

Sunspots - Monday July 23rd 2018

Solar flux is 67 today and the sunspot number is 11.  A=5 and K=1.

22 Jul 2018

Holme next the Sea - NOT amateur radio

We are on holiday here and, yet again, we are amazed how good the weather is. We ate fish and chips outside this evening in the warm sunshine.  It is so nice to be able to  enjoy the warmth without feeling at all cold.

Sunspots - Sunday July 22nd 2018

Solar flux is 70 today and the SSN 11.   A=11 and K=1 .

21 Jul 2018

No rallies?

Usually I get notification of upcoming rallies but I have heard nothing! Maybe I missed something?

Sunspots - Saturday July 21st 2018

Solar flux is 70 today and the SSN remains zero.  A=7 and K=3 .

Rain - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday we had rain on our way to Norfolk. It must have rained for  10 seconds! This is the first time I have  seen rain since May!

20 Jul 2018

Return to 4m

With more and more countries now getting access to 4m (70MHz), I am seriously thinking about getting active on this band. Many years ago I designed and built this transverter for 4m. This has appeared on this blog before, but if you have no other way of accessing the band this may be a source of ideas.

Sunspots - Friday July 20th 2018

Solar flux is 70 today and the sun remains spotless. A=4 and K=1.

19 Jul 2018

70cm - a much under-used band

70cm can be very quiet with little activity outside of contests and I am as guilty as anyone! This is a pity as tropo lifts can be more frequent than on 2m and ranges almost as good. In monthly activity contests I usually work over 100km with 5W SSB and a 2m halo! Maybe I should install a 70cm big-wheel above my 2m one?

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/70cm_op .

Baby snake found in amber - NOT amateur radio

Scientists in China have found a 99 million year old baby snake in a piece of amber. This is incredibly rare. To think this snake was wriggling around when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Amber freezes things in a time capsule. Usual finds are bits of flies.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-44872148 .

Solar minimum?

We are approaching the next solar minimum. Such periods are characterised by very low sunspot numbers for a long time. We have already had many weeks without sunspots. We can expect more "quiet sun" weeks until we climb on the upward slopes towards the peak of cycle 25. At the moment we are looking at 2020 for the next minimum.

See http://spaceweather.com/ .

Younger people - NOT amateur radio

All is not bad with young people as these charts show. Trends show they take fewer drugs, commit less crime, smoke less, have fewer teen pregnancies and drink less.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/44880278 .

Grumpy old man? - NOT amateur radio

This is a rant.

Have you noticed that younger people tend to go up at the end of sentences? This is certainly true in the UK. It is almost as if a question is being asked. This, along with the over-use of "like", is mainly a phenomenon of the under 25 year olds.

Listening to the radio, you can often tell the age of an interviewee by how a sentence ends. Personally, I find this intonation annoying. Then, I am a grumpy old man!

10m FT8

For the second morning in a row I decided to try 10m FT8. There is already Es about with the Canaries and southern Europe spotted and it is only 0902z. I was briefly on TX before breakfast but received no spots. I have been on FT8 RX since.

UPDATE 1138z: 31 different stations in 11 countries spotted on 10m FT8 RX today. They spread from Finland to the Canaries.

UPDATE 2114z: Now QRT as our visitors have arrived. No South Americans spotted today here.

Career politicians - NOT amateur radio

At the moment, we seem to be ruled by megalomaniac career politicians who seem more interested in themselves than what is best for their countries.

Think of Russia, the USA and the UK to name but a few. As soon as the BREXIT referendum was held in the UK the then Prime Minister left office and politics. Tony Blair who was once Labour Prime Minister now, allegedly, gets hundreds of thousands for after-dinner speeches. True Labour values? In the USA think of Trump and in Russia think of Putin.

Now, I am not saying there is no good in any of these leaders. I am sure they all have good points.  But are they really connecting with us?

What I am saying is we lack politicians who are in high office because they really wish to better the lot of the common man or woman. We lack real leaders with guts and charisma. In time, they will emerge. At the moment we seem to be run by people with big egos sadly.

Sunspots - Thursday July 19th 2018

Solar flux is 71 today and the sun remains spotless. A=4 and K=1.

18 Jul 2018

10m FT8 tomorrow

Having now gone QRT for the night, I am thinking about tomorrow. Having had some success with 10m FT8 today, I may try this band again tomorrow.

As well as very similar results on Es to 6m FT8, 10m has the added bonus of "real DX" deep into South America. I cannot stay on 10m too late tomorrow as we have visitors, but I shall be monitoring as late as I can.

Today was my first experience of 10m FT8 in the summertime. It does not surprise me that South Americans were spotted. FT8 is a great weak signal mode (better than SSB and CW) and just 15 seconds of "opening" are needed for a decode. For a QSO a few overs are needed.

PTT over cellular radio - NOT amateur radio

With 446 radios at ridiculously low prices and PTT over cellular radios available, I am wondering how "traditional" private mobile radio companies survive. On the face of it, PTT over cellular (i.e. network radio) offers international coverage or very local coverage.  For example, lorries could be tracked internationally, and drivers contacted as if they were in the next village.

446 or similar radios offer basic communications well suited to pop-up events or occasional use.

Between the 2, most PMR use is covered at sensible prices. PTT over cellular often has GPS, photos and big data capacity too.

Innocent until proved guilty? - NOT amateur radio

Today we heard that a well known UK singer had won substantial damages from the BBC. Several years ago the police raided his house searching for evidence of child abuse and the BBC "in the public interest" hired a helicopter to film it all.  He was not even charged.

Now, if such an accused is found guilty the full force of the law will fall on him or her. If innocent, their reputation will be tarnished for ever by the mob. There are several occasions when reputations have been ruined without due cause.

The answer is simple: people are innocent and anonymous until proved guilty in a court of law. There is no place for innocent people being judged by the mob and the press. Saying such intrusions are, "in the public interest" is wholly wrong in my view. It is gutter journalism at its very worst.

BBC - serves you right! Pay up please NOW.

The argument that publicity encourages others to come forward is fallacious. If people have a genuine case come forward NOW.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44871799

Sunspots - Wednesday July 18th 2018

Solar flux is 72 today and the SSN is still zero. A=9 and K=3.

10m FT8

For a change, I decided to go on 10m FT8 today. A quick FT8 CQ brought a reply from DL2MEL (871km) but no other spots.

On 10m FT8 TX I use 2.5W which should be widely copied in Europe by Es. Initial conclusions are that there are far fewer on 10m FT8 than 6m FT8 or that my 10m antenna is quite poor. Of course, it could be conditions on 10m Es are not as good as yesterday when I was widely spotted on 10m WSPR with the same antenna and 500mW.

At this time of year I would have expected 10m FT8 to be quite busy.  Anyway, I shall stick with 10m FT8 today and see what happens.

UPDATE 0945z: Did I speak too soon? Now spotted 12 different stations on 10m FT8 RX all over Europe and the Canary Isles.

UPDATE 1336z: At the moment I am spotting a similar number of stations to those spotted on 6m FT8 yesterday. Most of these look like Es.

UPDATE 1928z: Seven South Americans spotted on 10m FT8 today so far. Time to go QRT now.

17 Jul 2018

2m UKAC contest last week

Results for this evening activity contest (held a week ago) have now been published.  Because of my poor voice I only stay on for a short period.

From the results it shows I've climbed to 67th out of 153 in the low power section. Conditions were good last week and a German near Hamburg was worked which is not bad for 5W and a big wheel.

Although very far from a "real" contester, this and the 70cm UKAC contests are friendly and enjoyable: they are good for my voice and often get me a few new squares.

Met Office weather app feedback - NOT amateur radio

The Met Office asked me for feedback on their app, so I sent some.  Sadly, I got back a computer generated reply.

Last night at 9.40pm it said, "60% chance of rain at 10pm and 80% chance of rain at 11pm". Rain? What rain? At 10pm it had changed to a 10% chance at 10pm and 11pm.

Despite very expensive super computers they appear to have not a clue. OK, I know UK weather is complex but unless we have a period of long hot weather looking at forecasts is a joke.

60m (5MHz) in Slovenia

Southgate News reports that class A licencees will have access to the WRC band. When will the UK get this band? OK, it is only a secondary allocation and only 15kHz wide, yet becoming widely available.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/july/60m-band-allocation-for-slovenia.htm#.W02-cPZFzIU .

6m FT8 RX

This morning, I am exclusively monitoring 6m FT8 RX. Lots of southern European Es, but nothing outside Europe as yet.

UPDATE 1000z: Canary Islands spotted (Es?) - EA8ACW (2988km). Lots of Es from Europe. So far, 51 different stations in 13 countries spotted on 6m FT8 RX this morning.

UPDATE 1507z: Over 100 different stations in 25 countries and 2 continents spotted on 6m FT8 RX so far today. Certainly for European Es on 6m, today has been a good day.

UPDATE 1940z: Best DX today spotted on 6m FT8 RX is FM5AN (6792km) on Martinique in the Caribbean. This station was widely spotted in the USA and Europe, so I am pretty sure it is genuine.

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

My WSPR beacon has been on since just after breakfast with lots of Es spots already.  Yet again (could well be Es) the best DX is from EA8BFK (2880km) in the Canary Isles who has spotted me 17 times today already by 0950z.

UPDATE 1512z: Although there has been plenty of Es about I have received spots from only 3 different stations in 10m WSPR today. I might try 10m FT8 tomorrow. Certainly on 6m FT8 seems more popular.

UPDATE 2044z: 16 different stations spotted my 10m WSPR 500mW beacon today.

Sunspots - Tuesday July 17th 2018

Yet again, the sunspot number is zero. We can expect days without sunspots in the next few years as we approach the solar minimum. Next winter could be dire with little Es to liven things up. Solar flux is 72. A=9 and K=3.

Another good Es day?

With early spots on both 10m and 6m, today promises another good day on Es. We will see!

16 Jul 2018

Which planet? - NOT amateur radio

So, the US president has met the Russian leader and, allegedly, blamed the FBI rather than Russia for interfering in the 2016 presidential election. Now, I have no wish to interfere in US politics, but to those of us in the rest of the world his judgement seems "bizarre". This is being charitable.

With BREXIT, one could argue who am I to judge? Just my opinion, but shared by many.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-44852812 .

PSK reporter maps - changes

PSKreporter is used often here to see what is being spotted on 6m FT8. Today I went on and there appears to be some changes to the maps. For now, I am reserving judgment. I quite liked the "old" style, but perhaps I am just a boring old man! Some would be ruder!

I have not tried the maps with other modes. Usually I choose "FT8" from the drop down menu.

See https://www.pskreporter.info/pskmap.html

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

Yet again, as the antenna is free, I am on 10m WSPR TX with my little "stand alone" WSPR beacon. Already, several spots from Austria by OE4LTB (1270km).

UPDATE 0934z: Spots received from all over central Europe on 10m WSPR TX. Today looks promising.

UPDATE 1320z: 118 spots so far today on 10m WSPR with spots from 8 different stations with EA8BFK (2880km) again being the best.

UPDATE 2016z: A good day on 10m WSPR. In all, to now, 167 spots by 10 different stations.

Kingsbridge, Devon - NOT amateur radio

In my youth we moved from Salcombe to Kingsbridge, Devon. At the time it seemed we'd moved miles. This is a photo of Kingsbridge from the air recently. It is a nice place and they have great flowers on display in the town.

If you know the area you will know Kingsbridge is the "capital" of the South Hams and about 5 miles north of Salcombe, these days an expensive yachting centre for those with lots of money and small brains.

The South Hams is a beautiful, largely unspoilt, area of Devon.

6m FT8

Yet again, I am monitoring 6m FT8.

Yesterday, we had some great Es with plenty of stations spotted throughout Europe and North Africa. This morning (0850z), there is already Es from northern Spain and Sicily. No "real" DX spotted yet on 6m FT8 RX.

A brief period on TX (2.5W) got several G spots.

Sadly, I have not managed to copy east Asia on 6m FT8 RX. There have been some openings, but I guess my basic set-up is not good enough. It was easier on JT65 last year!

UPDATE 0930z: EU Es is good today. Already 18 different stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX in 9 countries

UPDATE 1058z: S01WS (3043km) in Western Sahara  now being spotted. He is being spotted all over Europe, so I believe this is genuine. Lots of Es on 6m FT8.

Sunspots - Monday July 16th 2018

Solar flux is 73 today and the sunspot number 0. A=4 and K=1.

15 Jul 2018

Football World Cup - NOT amateur radio

Although not a great football fan, this was a good final between France and Croatia. France won 4:2. The match was good spirited and Croatia battled to the end. Whatever one's views on Russia politically, the World Cup went off well.

England got further than in a long time and, on the whole, fans were well behaved.

It would be good if we had a few more English players in the Premier League. Apparently only a third of Premier League players are English. This is a pity when we have a pool of good players who would qualify. I guess the teams are motivated by money and profits. Shame.

Australian friends - NOT amateur radio

Our Australian friends called on their way to York earlier. It was the first time we had seen the grandma since 2014.

The kids loved the windmill next door, which they had to visit!

Sky last night - NOT amateur radio

Last night we did a walk in the village. It had been a hot day. This was the sky.

Sunspots - Sunday July 15th 2018

Solar flux is 73 today and the SSN still 0.  A=5 and K=1.

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

Today just IK0DMQ (1484km) spotting me. In the last day, 8 different stations spotted my 10m WSPR TX.

UPDATE 1714z: 9 different stations have spotted my 500mW WSPR beacon today with the best again being by EA8BFK (2880km).

Genuine 6m from the USA

Around teatime last night a couple of USA stations in Florida USA were spotted on 6m FT8 RX.  Best DX was WX4G (7171km). This station was widely spotted in the USA and Europe, so I am pretty sure this is genuine.

Yet again, G stations are spotting and calling Japanese stations on 6m FT8 this morning, although none have been spotted here.

So far this season, 5 continents spotted on 6m FT8 RX, even with my V2000 omni vertical and CB coax feed. Others with better systems will have done much better, but it shows just a basic set-up works!

UPDATE 0914z: Just EU Es and Gs spotted here today so far on 6m FT8.

UPDATE 1006z: So far today on 6m FT8 RX, 31 different stations in 11 countries.

UPDATE 2013z: A good Es day on 6m FT8. These are the stations spotted on the band in the last half day.
UPDATE 2042z: A brief 6m FT8 QSO with an EA7 was spotted widely in southern Europe at up to +4dB S/N. Classic Es. And I was still using 2.5W to my vertical omni V2000. Although I was going to go QRT, I decided to stay on RX.

14 Jul 2018

Patio flowers - NOT amateur radio

Our grass is very brown. We never water the grass, but it usually recovers fine after our rain (frequent).

The flowers usually get watered every other day and look fine this year. Our cosmos has only just flowered and we expected this to be out weeks ago.

Sunspots - Saturday July 14th 2018

Solar flux is 73 and the sunspot number still zero. A=6 and K=1.

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

Although I have been on 10m WSPR TX, no spots so far today.

UPDATE 1300z: A couple of German stations spotted me on 10m WSPR about an hour ago.

6m FT8

JAs were being called by UK stations earlier on 6m FT8. Sadly, I spotted none. I called CQ with 2.5W and got 6 spots and a QSO with G3TXF (334km) in north Devon on 6m FT8. There is some Es about on the band from southern Europe, but it is not exactly "humming".

UPDATE 1302z:  22 different stations in 9 countries so far today on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1652z:  Pirate? I am very suspicious of a station spotted on 6m FT8 RX that is supposed to be in Guinea (3X9KFM). The only spots of him are very strong reports from the UK. If real, I would have expected spots more widely. These days, sadly, pirates are all to common. I hope I am proved wrong.

UPDATE 1656z:  Es widely applicable on 6m FT8 RX today. Best DX (excluding the 3X9) is 4X4DK (3580km).

13 Jul 2018

Irish low VHF allocations

Amateurs in Eire have been given generous allocations at low VHF and a bandplan has now been created. This aligns with allocations made in other countries for beacons. It would be great if small allocations at 40MHz could be made across Region 1. Even a small allocation would allow Es research. Will it happen? Yes, if more people press their national bodies. These allocations could be quite small and take-up is likely to be small as no commercial gear is available.

See https://www.irts.ie/cgi/st.cgi?downloads .

International Lighthouse Weekend

In August (18th-19th_, there will be activations from several lighthouses around the world.

See  https://illw.net/ for more details.

How do they do it?

It is 10 years now since I retired. I am amazed how 7dayshop can sell a pair of Motorola 446MHz transceivers for £24.99 delivered. In my view, this company has some very good deals. I expect these rigs can be reprogrammed for 70cms.

I expect these are made in China and that nowadays these are very integrated. Maybe I'll find a "tear-down" video somewhere showing just what is inside. And to think our first UHF handhelds sold for £700+ in the early 1970s!

See https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?tab=wm#inbox/164939fe6ccb816c


OFCOM has published its annual report and plan. Reports for other years may also be seen.

See https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/annual-reports-and-plans .

UK Rallies


St Joseph's Hall, Mather Lane, Leigh, WN7 2PR. Easy access from all major motorways, A580, A579, etc. Car parking, disabled access. Doors open 11am (traders 8.30am, table hire £8 per 6ft table), admission £2.50. Bring and Buy, refreshments, bar. Details from Les, G4HZJ, on 0779 626 4569.


Penair School, Truro, Cornwall, TR1 1TN. Doors open 10.30am, admission £2. There will be traders, Bring & Buy, club stalls, car parking. Catering is available onsite. Contact Mike, G1NRF on 01209 211 069, mike.g1nrf@hotmail.com for more information.

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

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

Just a single 10m WSPR spot today so far by F4CWN (969km). At the moment, disappointing.

6m FT8 today

At the moment there is far less Es about on 6m than yesterday. Mid morning saw a little Es from northern Spain and Sweden.  A brief 6m QRP CQ after breakfast received 4 UK spots, but no QSOs.

Windmill at sunset - NOT amateur radio

We live right next door to a 200 year old restored windmill. One of our grandchildren believes the grass around it is part of our garden! This is a view of the mill at sunset last night taken from our garden.

The windmill is part of our excellent museum. This is probably one of the best local museums in the whole UK. It goes on and on and on. There is so much there. Most who come say it exceeds their expectations.

See http://www.burwellmuseum.org.uk/

Sunspots - Friday July 13th 2018

Solar flux is 73 today and the sunspot number still 0. A=8 and K=2.

12 Jul 2018


This season, I have been concentrating on 10m WSPR TX. Certainly 6m FT8 is easier with spots every time I TX with QRP.

On 10m WSPR TX (500mW) it seems much harder. I have had days with loads of European spots and the occasional days with spots from South America.

This Es season I have not tried 10m SSB or CW. I suspect it would be easier to get 10m SSB QSOs than WSPR spots!

UPDATE 0910z: No 10m WSPR spots.

UPDATE 1752z: 7 unique stations spotted me today. Best DX spot was by EA8BFK (2880km).

UPDATE 2147z: QRT.

6m FT8

Although I have been on 6m FT8 for about 30 minutes, the only spots on RX are Gs. As usual, a brief QRP CQ brought spots from several Gs, but there were no Es spots.

UPDATE 0857z: Plenty of 6m FT8 RX spots now from the Canary Is, Iberia and Bulgaria. Best DX on 6m FT8 RX so far is EB8AC (2989km).

UPDATE  1755z: Too many 6m FT8 RX Es spots today. The logbook is filled with EU stations and Canary Is. spots.

UPDATE 2147z: QRT.

4m (70MHz) band

More and more countries are getting access to the 4m band.  The latest seems to be Israel that has been given access this summer on a temporary basis. I keep saying that I should try the band - maybe next year?

Although I have been on the band briefly with a very unsuitable antenna and homebrew transverter and working over 200km with about 1W CW, this was many years ago.

Also, I remember working ZB2VHF with 4W of AM on 70.26MHz from university in the late 1960s. I don't recall the antenna, but it was not a beam I seem to remember.

See http://www.70mhz.org/

Transatlantic FM DX

Southgate News reports that Newfoundland Band II FM signals were copied in Northern Ireland.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/july/88-mhz-trans-atlantic-signals-heard-in-ireland.htm#.W0Zy8fZFzIU

Sunspots - Thursday July 12th 2018

Solar flux is 73 today with the SSN still zero. A=8 and K=1.

11 Jul 2018

Trump balloon - NOT amateur radio

President Trump is visiting the UK and many here do not want him. Apparently there is a balloon of him in a nappy (diaper blimp flying over London). He has already managed to upset the German chancellor by his remarks.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-44798408/donald-trump-baby-blimp-ready-to-take-first-steps


For the first time in about 6 years, I had a couple of QSOs via distant repeaters using Echolink on the PC. It was so long since I used the system that both my email had lapsed and I had forgotten my password! I had to send a copy of my licence to get re-validated.

This morning I was listening to a repeater QSO in Christchurch, New Zealand and this afternoon I had a QSO with a hand-portable via a repeater near London and then a QSO via a repeater in northern Hungary with HA9OX. Quite fun.

The overall impression was repeater activity around the world is low: I had to work quite hard to find anyone to talk with. Maybe I should try Zello or IRN? Activity levels in the USA surprised me. I thought it would be quite easy to find activity in the local mornings on the urban repeaters over there, but all were quiet.

Now I know it works I can try again.

Double-yoker - NOT amateur radio

We have bought free range eggs for years, but today we saw our first double-yoker in ages when we had gammon and eggs for lunch.

6m FT8

Already plenty of Es on 6m. I am on 50.313 FT8, mostly RX. DX from Scotland, Italy, Hungary and Romania so far on 6m FT8 RX. A brief TX period (calling an HA) resulted in spots by S52D (1234km) 22 minutes ago. As usual, I am running 2.5W to my V2000 omni vertical antenna. ERP is probably about 1W as the CB coax feeding it is lossy.

UPDATE 1047z: So far today, 18 different stations in 5 countries spotted on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1505z: Now 23 different stations in 5 countries on 6m FT8 RX. Es seems to have "gone off the boil".

UPDATE 2046z: At the end of the day, 24 stations in 8 countries on 6m FT8 RX. After a promising start, disappointment. Time to go QRT.

10m WSPR

As the antenna is free, I am again on 10m WSPR TX (500mW). Only one spot so far. This was EA1FAQ (1249km) in northern Spain. This was Es.

UPDATE 1507z: Just EA1FAQ spotting me and he has only spotted me twice this morning.

UPDATE 2048z: No more spots, so time to go QRT.

Sunspots - Wednesday July 11th 2018

Solar flux is 72 today and the sunspot number remains zero. A=7 and K=2.

Dart Valley Railway - NOT amateur radio

I love steam engines. The photo shows my brother last week watching a train on the Dart Valley Railway in Devon.

Late Es

In earlier years I seem to notice more northern Es spots later in the season.  This year seems to be similar with GM3POI in the Orkney Islands spotted already on 6m FT8.

10 Jul 2018

70cm UKAC RSGB activity contest

After the World Cup football on TV this evening I went on the July leg of the 70cm UKAC activity contest. I did not stay on long (poor voice) and made 3 QSOs with G4CLA (105km) as the best DX. I was using 5W to a 2m halo.

Human Consciousness - NOT amateur radio

Human consciousness is perhaps the biggest puzzle we know. All of us have the gift of being able to contemplate ourselves and our universe. Some say we just expire when we die along with our bodies. Some say something of us lives on. The truth is no-one knows. It is the mystery all religions try to answer.

It is like living in a one dimensional world and trying to imagine a 3 dimensional world. Human consciousness is indeed the biggest mystery of all. I don't have the answers.

10m WSPR

As I am home again and the antenna is free, I am on 10m WSPR TX (500mW). No spots of my beacon as yet.

UPDATE 2134z: No spots all day. Now QRT.

Sunspots - Tuesday July 10th 2018

Solar flux is 72 and the sunspot number 0.  A=2 and K=2.

6m FT8 once again

As I am now home again, I am back on 6m FT8 and 10m WSPR. Last night I managed a brief FT8 QSO with M0BEW (194km) and this morning I was heard by several G stations when again calling CQ. All TX periods are with 2.5W to the V2000 omni vertical.

Although Es is still likely, it seems quieter now. Certainly there is no Es evident here as yet.

UPDATE 1208z: Still no Es seen here. Just 9 Gs so far today with best DX on 6m FT8 RX being G0SYP (222km).

UPDATE 1535z: Just one Es spot so far about an hour ago: IZ6BXQ (1457km).

9 Jul 2018

Crystal Ball - NOT amateur radio

I am experimenting with crystal ball photo apps.  There seem to be several around. This is an old picture taken about 9 years ago.