31 Oct 2018

472kHz WSPR

Earlier this evening I QSYed to 472kHz WSPR. So far, 8 stations have spotted my 10mW ERP signal and I have spotted 16 stations on RX. Promising.
Stations spotted on 472kHz WSPR so far tonight.

Kings College Cambridge - NOT amateur radio

This picture typifies Cambridge. People come from all over the world to see this view. We get it for just a free bus ride!  Even access to all the Cambridge colleges is free for locals. It is hard to think people pay thousands of pounds to see this.

10m FT8 RX

For now, I am on 10m FT8 RX.

With sunspot minimum conditions and being well outside of the Es season, I am not expecting much. Of late the South Americans have not been spotted in the early evening on 10m FT8 with my low antenna.

UPDATE 1556z: 3 stations in 2 countries spotted so far. Best DX on 10m FT8 RX is IT9PZM (1890km).

UPDATE 1650z:  I have just updated to WSJT-x V2.0 rc3. My recent 2.5W CQ was copied by no-one at all!

Last night on 477kHz OPERA RX

Disappointing with just the 2 stations already spotted in the evening spotted overnight. This could mean several things. Perhaps my "antenna" is not brilliant. Perhaps conditions were not good. Perhaps there are fewer operators using OPERA. Maybe it is a combination of all of these or some of these.

Tonight, if I go on MF, I shall opt for WSPR again?

Sunspots - Wednesday October 31st 2018

Solar flux is 67 and the SSN 0. A=4 and K=0. Spooky poor conditions for Halloween.

30 Oct 2018


For a complete change, I am on 477kHz OPERA RX. This is a mode I have not tried this autumn on MF or on any band for that matter. In deep search I believe it is even better than WSPR, but I am unsure how many people are on 477kHz OPERA TX. No doubt, I'll soon find out!

UPDATE 2135z: So far G6AVK and SO5AS (1392km) spotted on OPERA RX on MF.

New video

It is a while since I posted a video on my YouTube channel G3XBM.  I have just made one showing the shack and antennas as of now in October 2018.

As my voice is not brilliant, there is no voice commentary, but there is music.

It was made with iMovie using my XYLs iPad. There is an Android version, I think, but I have not used this. It is a bit sad that my 7 year old granddaughter can use iMovie to make films better than me!

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBIHNPAkaac

2m FT8 again

It's a safe bet. My 2.5W FT8 CQ was copied by 4 stations in 3 countries including N. Ireland and the Lizard in Cornwall by G7RAU (461km). On RX, 4 stations spotted in 3 countries.

UPDATE 1642z: Now 16 stations spotted in 5 countries so far today on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1854z: Now 24 stations spotted in 6 countries.

Brandon Country Park - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday, I posted some fungi on a fallen tree. This is a picture on the same walk. Nice place for a stroll.

Sunspots - Tuesday October 30th 2018

Solar flux is 68 today and the sunspot number is zero still. A=3 and K=2

472kHz last night

Not a bad night. In all, 14 stations spotted here on 472kHz WSPR RX and I was spotted by 8 stations with the 10mW ERP from the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.

Interestingly, my noise floor with the PC charger working on mains is S0 on the FT817ND.  Last year, with the old FT817 it was S7 and I had to turn off the mains to get down to S2 on RX. On the face of it, I have made no changes. All very odd.

29 Oct 2018


Every time I try 2m FT8 I seem to spot at least 7 countries. Even my QRP CQs get spotted at distances that I'd consider remarkable by any other mode.

As 2m was getting too easy, I QSYed to 472kHz (630m) WSPR with the usual 10mW ERP this evening. Already 10 stations have been spotted since 2010z, including LA8AV (1035km). He seems to be spotted most evenings. My own 10mW ERP WSPR has been spotted by 5 stations. Not a bad start.

Fungus - NOT amateur radio

This is the season when odd fungi appear. It must be the autumn chill and dampness in the air. This afternoon we went for a stroll at Brandon Country Park where this fungus was growing on a fallen tree trunk.

Vestnik 14

This just came in from Oleg:

"Dear Club 72 members and friends,
Enjoy  reading the new issue # 14 of "QRP Vestnik" (Reporter) October
2018. Download 4 pages PDF 420 kB -
Any comments, offers, materials, pictures are welcome!
Thanks for assistance Alex SV8CYR and Jos ON6WJ!

72! Oleg RX3G / KH6OB "Mr. 72" "

472kHz WSPR overnight

Last night was quite a good session with 15 stations spotted and 8 people spotting my 10mW ERP signal from the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.
472kHz WSPR RX overnight
472kHz WSPR TX (10mW ERP) overnight

Exhaustion - NOT amateur radio

This is probably an after-effect of my stroke 5 years ago. Every morning after breakfast I am totally exhausted. I need to rest and do very little. Then I feel a bit better. Compared with 6 years ago, I am much more clumsy and lacking in energy. A few nights ago I dreamt I could run. Sadly, it was just a dream.

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

Sunspots - Monday October 29th 2018

Solar flux is 67 (low) and the SSN 0. A=4 and K=1.

2m FT8

After a night on MF WSPR I have returned to 2m FT8. A 2.5W CQ to the omni was spotted in 3 countries with the best DX being a spot by F4IAA (802km) south of Limoges.  Yet again I was spotted in Cornwall.

UPDATE 1020z:  Currently 7 stations in 3 countries spotted on 2m FT8 RX today. Best DX spotted is DF3JR (439km). Interestingly, my own CQ calls were spotted further than I have so far spotted myself.

UPDATE 1153z:  Now 12 stations in 5 countries spotted today on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1738z: Now 32 stations in 7 countries spotted today on 2m FT8 RX.

28 Oct 2018

472kHz WSPR

As 28MHz FT8 was not very productive this evening I have now QSYed to MF. My first 2 minute transmission (10mW ERP) was spotted by 4 stations. No great DX, but an encouraging start.

Best DX so far on 472kHz WSPR RX is DF1VB (506km).

UPDATE 2204z: PA3ABK (306km) is the best DX on 472kHz WSPR TX (10mW ERP) this evening.
472kHz WSPR TX (10mW ERP) this evening

QSYed to 10m FT8

Hoping to see if there are any South Americans on 10m FT8 RX, I have just QSYed from 2m FT8. I put out a brief CQ (2.5W). Unsurprisingly, no spots! On RX , no spots either.

UPDATE 1954z:  Only a couple of spots on 10m FT8 RX: 2E1CIT (94km) and F5BQV (561km) in Brittany. No South Americans.

Granddaughter time - NOT amateur radio

I don't think this has been on before. If it has, apologies.

Our grandchildren are growing up fast and I know she will not want to do this for ever. Whilst I can, I am enjoying it.

Early Halloween - NOT amateur radio

As our "London" grandchildren came up to stay this week, we had an early Halloween party with silly games they just love! Here is our elder granddaughter playing the chocolate game.

More grumpy old man stuff - NOT amateur radio

If there is one thing that really irritates me it is Christmas starting in the shops months too early! Yes, I know retailers are having a hard time on the high streets, but this is all driven by profits.

For me, Dec 1st is quite early enough for Christmas fare. Grumpy old man! This photo was shared on social media earlier.

Ferrite rod TX antennas

My page on ferrite rod TX antennas has been updated and some files added. There is now reference to the work of Giorgio Grisoni I2GSI from Italy.

Ferrite rod antennas work on TX as long as the ferrite is well matched and the ferrite is not in saturation. They may well be inefficient but this may not matter in some cases.

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

2m FT8

Today I am on 2m FT8 again, mainly RX with an occasional CQ (2.5W to the omni). Yet again my CQ earlier was spotted in Cornwall.

Best DX on 2m FT8 RX is currently F4TTR (477km). Currently 19 stations spotted in 4 countries on 2m FT8 RX today (at 1126z).

UPDATE 1227z: Currently 28 stations spotted in 7 countries on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1548z: Now 37 stations in 9 countries spotted today on 2m FT8 RX.

Sunspots - Sunday October 28th 2018

Solar flux is 69 again and the SSN still zero. A=4 and K=1.

27 Oct 2018

A night off

Most nights I QSY from 10m FT8 to 630m (472kHz) WSPR. Tonight I have decided not to go on any band. My rig and PC have been on continuously for several days without a break.

Knowing my luck, 472kHz propagation tonight will be amazing!

10m FT8

Most of the day I have been on 10m FT8 RX with a few CQ calls.  So far, no spots of my CQs (2.5W) and just a couple of spots on RX. One was a G and the other, my best DX, 9A7JCY (1424km) in Croatia. Most day now (near sunspot minimum) 10m is quiet although it has opened to South America quite a few times this month in the early evenings.

UPDATE 1825z: Perhaps the quietest day for years? No further spots today.

472kHz WSPR overnight

Last night was average. In all 11 stations spotted on RX and my 10mW ERP was spotted by 7 stations with best DX G4ZFQ (203km).
472kHz WSPR RX overnight
472kHz WSPR TX overnight

Amateur Radio Weekly

Most weeks I read Amateur Radio Weekly to see what is happening in the world of amateur radio. There are usually news items of interest.

All quiet again - NOT amateur radio

My mother-in-law had an expression, "nice to see you, nice to see you go". Having had the grandchildren for a week, lovely though this is, I am exhausted! Totally. I guess we are older and have less energy these days. We love having them, but is also nice to be tidy again, and quiet.

Sunspots - Saturday October 27th 2018

Solar flux is 69 today and the SSN zero. A=6 and K=2. 

26 Oct 2018

QSYed to 472kHz WSPR

All day, I have been on 2m FT8 with lots of stations spotted.

A few minutes ago I QSYed to MF WSPR (10mW ERP, 20% TX). M0FMT (51km) and PA0A (417km) were immediately spotted. My own signal was spotted by G4HPW (93km).

Parliamentary privilage - NOT amateur radio

In the UK members of parliament are able to name people under an ancient thing called "parliamentary privilege". Yesterday in the House of Lords a member named a person accused of sexual harassment.  This is dangerous. The person named may be innocent, yet his or her name is damned. Personally, I think this is wrong. Even if guilty, the facts should come out in a court of law and not before guilt is proved.

Bike time - NOT amateur radio

We are lucky to live at the end of a quiet close with few cars. When our grandchildren come they like to go on their bikes.

France and 60m

According to Southgate News, France will soon grant access to the WRC 60m allocation. At some point I hope the UK gets access.  Oh look, there goes another flying pig!! OFCOM - say no more.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/october/france-ham-radio-exams-and-60m-band.htm#.W9Mbq_ZFy00

Overnight on 472kHz WSPR

Not a bad night with several new spots this season. In all, 13 stations spotted on 472kHz WSPR RX. My best spot (of my 10mW ERP) was by GM4OAS (653km).
472kHz WSPR TX last night
472kHz WSPR RX last night

Sunspots - Friday October 26th 2018

Solar flux is 69 today and the sunspot number zero. A=6 and K=2. It feels like sunspot minimum!

2m FT8

Inspired by G8OFA, I am today on 2m FT8. An earlier, brief, CQ (2.5W to the omni) was spotted in northern France and by some UK stations.

So far today, 20 stations spotted in 6 countries with best DX OK1FD (857km).

UPDATE 1137z: On 2m FT8 RX so far today, 34 stations in 7 countries spotted.

UPDATE 1400z: Now 40 stations spotted in 7 countries on 2m FT8 RX.

25 Oct 2018

472kHz WSPR

Today, 10m was dire here, so I QSYed to 472kHz WSPR (10mW ERP, 20%) earlier than normal.  M0FMT (51km) is a new one for this season on 472kHz WSPR RX.

Early Halloween party - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday I mentioned that school starts again before Halloween, so an early party at Granny and Grampy was called for. We had this tonight along with silly games. They still love it, although we know these days will soon pass.



3rd Witham Scout & Guide HQ, Rear of Spring Lodge Community Centre, Powers Hall End, Witham, Essex CM8 2HE. Doors open at 8.30am for registration and the event runs from 9am to 4.30pm. Parking is free. Entry £10 with free sausage rolls, drinks, cakes. Contact Andy, G0IBN 0745 342 6087 g0ibn1@yahoo.com.

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

10m FT8 again

After a night on 472kHz (630m) WSPR, I have again gone on 10m FT8 but no spots on RX or TX as yet.

UPDATE 1551z: No spots still.

Sunspots - Thursday October 25th 2018

Solar flux is 69 and the sunspot number zero. A=3 and K=0.

24 Oct 2018

Now on 472kHz WSPR

All the DX on 10m seems to have stopped, so I have QSYed to 472kHz WSPR. All being well, I shall be on until breakfast (20% TX, 10mW ERP, earth-electrode "antenna"). As of now, just a couple of spots of me and none of others.

UPDATE 2107z:  5 unique spots of others with best DX IW4DXW (1190km).

All the grandchildren - NOT amateur radio

A photo showing all of our grandchildren.

Well nearly - NOT amateur radio

Halloween is next week when our grandchildren are back at school. So, tomorrow we are having an early Halloween party. Our granddaughter decided to try her hat today!

Solar cycle 25 start

"While smaller spots with the correct polarity alignment of cycle 25 regions have been observed at high latitude locations as early as 2016, this overview will only include spots large enough to have been visible at a 1K resolution. In the case of reversed polarity cycle 24 regions, those that are not at a sufficiently high latitude (ie. 30 degrees or more), are considered most likely to belong to cycle 24 and will not be included in this list until closer to the actual solar cycle minimum (likely to be sometime between August 2018 and February 2019)."

Notice the last few words. This was copied from http://www.solen.info/solar/cycle25_spots.html .

Bury St Edmunds earlier - NOT amateur radio

Earlier today, we went to Bury St Edmunds with 2 of our grandchildren. It was market day. Bury St Edmunds still has a very old fashioned East Anglian feel. Unlike Cambridge it is not filled with Far Eastern visitors with their selfie sticks. It feels "authentic".

The photo shows my wife with 2 of our 4 grandchildren.

Overnight on 472kHz WSPR

Last night was average. Although I spotted my best DX of the season on 472kHz WSPR RX , my own 10mW ERP was only spotted by 7 UK stations.
472kHz WSPR RX last night
472kHz WSPR TX last night

10m FT8 today

Although I was out for several hours I left the RX running on 10m FT8 RX. There were quite a few spots from Europe today, although nothing further spotted so far.

UPDATE 1635z: No spots outside Europe today on 10m FT8 RX. 15 spots today, so far. Plan to stay on 10m for a few more hours then try MF WSPR.

UPDATE 1555z: A single spot from the Canary Is now.

UPDATE 1812z: The first South Americans came through at 1652z on 10m FT8 RX today.

Sunspots - Wednesday October 24th 2018

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN is zero. A=4 and K=0.

23 Oct 2018

Cactus Day - NOT amateur radio

No, we'd not heard of this either! It was an invention of our granddaughter. To celebrate this day, we will celebrate Oct 22nd as Cactus Day every year from now on.

The photo show the cake that our grandson iced.

Why cactus? Absolutely no idea! 😀

QSYed to 472kHz WSPR

As 10m DX seems to have stopped, I have again QSYed to 472kHz WSPR. As usual, my 10mW ERP is set at 20% TX so I am on RX 4 times out of 5. This means I transmit about once every 10 minutes. I shall be on overnight. With increasing noise floors it is getting harder to spot weak signals, so if you spot me you are doing well. Best of luck!

UPDATE 2050z:  Not a bad start this evening with 8 spots on RX with best DX IW4DXW (1190km). On TX, 6 spots of my 10mW ERP so far tonight, all in England

Blood test - NOT amateur radio

About 10 days ago I had a blood test. Today, I rang to get the results. "No further actions required". Although I had no symptoms, this was good news. As you get older, one wonders if something lurking will be found.

10m FT8

Although I have been on 10m FT8 for a while, no spots as yet on RX or TX.

UPDATE 1845z: Several Iberian spots plus ZS6WB (9094km) on 10m FT8 RX today. No other spots. After another hour I shall QSY to 472kHz WSPR.

472kHz last night

Last night was average on 472kHz WSPR. In all, 8 English stations spotted me. These were all UK stations.

Sunspots - Tusaday October 23rd 2018

Solar flux is 70 today and the SSN still zero. A=6 and K=1.

22 Oct 2018

10m FT8 again

Rather later than usual, I have returned to 10m FT8. After a brief QRP CQ call, I am now RX only. Just a spot of G8KHF (98km) so far.

UPDATE 1542z:  Odd. The only other spot so far today on 10m FT8 RX is ZS6WB (9094km) in South Africa.

UPDATE 1615z: Another spot, this time from central France - aircraft reflection? No South Americans yet tonight on 10m FT8 RX.

Autumn walk - NOT amateur radio

Before lunch, we went for a nice walk with our son and his children at nearby Anglesey Abbey in the pleasant autumn sun. It was about 12 degrees C.

Sunspots - Monday October 22nd 2018

Solar flux is 71 and the SSN zero still.  A=4 and K=1.

21 Oct 2018

Toadstools - NOT amateur radio

OK, I am not very good at telling apart edible mushrooms from poisonous toadstools, so unless I am sure, it does not get touched or eaten! These toadstools (I assume) were seen at Anglesey Abbey earlier in the week where they had removed an old tree. This seems to be the season to see all sorts of strange fungi.

446MHz in the UK

Quite a few of these licence-free radios are available in the UK for silly prices. Some are also available I believe for licence-free use at 70cm, but don't ask me which ones! I have zero experience of 446MHz radios, so have no idea how busy these channels are. If you are an infrequent professional or casual user of 2-way radio, I expect these are an ideal fit. I am pretty sure there are alternatives in other countries.

Last night on 472kHz WSPR

Average night. No DX spots of my 10mW ERP outside the UK. The usual DX spots on 472kHz WSPR RX. It has been better.

Sunspots - Sunday October21st 2018

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

Slow start on 10m FT8

Been on 10m FT8 for about 30 minutes and the only station spotted so far is 2E0XXO (121km) in Lincoln. An early CQ (2.5W FT8) was spotted by no-one!

UPDATE 1430z: It picked up. Lots of EU stations spotted and a CT1 worked (2.5W FT8). VY2HH (4445km) on Prince Edward Island, Canada spotted on 10m FT8 at 1413z at a strong -10dB S/N.

UPDATE 1852z: Already 6 South Americans spotted on 10m FT8 RX as well as Kuwait and Ghana. A great day. 5 continents spotted on 10m FT8 RX today. 10m near sunspot minimum!
10m FT8 CQs earlier (2.5W)

10m FT8 RX today

20 Oct 2018

472kHz WSPR

As 10m seems to have closed, I decided to try 472kHz WSPR again (10mW ERP).

So far this evening, 9 different stations spotted on MF with best 472kHz WSPR  RX DX being LA8AV (1035km). On TX this evening best DX, so far, is a spot from G4PQP (100km).
472kHz WSPR RX so far this evening

Garden - NOT amateur radio

Autumn is here and we are getting the garden ready for the quiet winter months. Leaves are falling and soon there will be frosts. It was quite warm today, but these days will soon be gone. Next weekend the clocks go back and it is soon dark early. Every season has something good about it.

2m UKAC contest results

The results of the 2m UKAC activity contest for October have been published. Apparently my position has improved. Seeing I use 5W to an omni and usually stay on for less than 60 minutes, I am quite pleased. I do not take contests too seriously.

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

10m FT8

At the moment, I am back on 10m FT8. Best DX on RX is MU0WLV (374km) on Guernsey earlier. So far just G and MU stations spotted. An earlier CQ (2.5W FT8) was spotted by EI7GL (595km). Aircraft reflection?

UPDATE 1525z: Several stations in Portugal and Italy spotted this afternoon on 10m FT8 RX. Lzst night South Americans came through on 10m from 1800z. Last year on this date I was copying stations on 10m FT8 RX from every continent except Antarctica.

UPDATE 1715z: 10 stations in 4 countries so far on 10m FT8 RX today. All EU.

UPDATE 2057z:  I went QRT on 10m at about 1950z. No South Americans were spotted here on 10m FT8 today. Today was the quietest day for some time on the band. In the end, 10 EU stations spotted in 4 countries.

A good night on 472kHz

The last time I was on 472kHz WSPR I was disappointed. Last night was great with 9 stations in 3 countries spotting me and being copied in Norway for the second time this autumn with my 10mW ERP from the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. I know this is several dB down on a "real" antenna, but it shows that even very compromised antennas work.
472kHz WSPR TX
On 472kHz WSPR, RX 11 different stations spotted in 6 countries with the best DX being IW4DXW (1190km).
472kHz WSPR RX

Sunspots - Saturday October 20th 2018

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN zero. A=2 and K=1. Typical sunspot minimum conditions.

19 Oct 2018

QSY to 472kHz WSPR (10mW ERP)

The last time I was on this band conditions were not too good, so  am trying again tonight. 
Unique spots so far on 472kHz WSPR this evening
Still using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.

Action on 10m FT8 seems to have stopped for now, so I have gone QRT on that band.  I see GW4BVE was calling a station in the Falkland Is on 10m earlier on 10m FT8.

Grooming gang - NOT amateur radio

"During the three trials, jurors heard how the men - who are all British Asians of mainly Pakistani heritage - preyed on young, vulnerable girls, one of whom was described as having the mental age of a seven-year-old." From the BBC report.

I am most definitely not a racist. Many of my friends come from backgrounds other than white British. What really puzzles me is why every member of this gang is Asian. Is it something in their culture which makes them more likely to act in this way? It is inexcusable. Rather than pay for them in jail, send them back to Pakistan on the first plane. If they cannot follow our way of life, they deserve no part in it.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-45918845

Coax cable

It is many years since I last bought coax (2012?), so I am a bit out of touch on prices, types and sizes. Come to think of it, I must have bought some low-loss coax when David G0LRD installed my 2m big-wheel, but I cannot recall where I got this from!

Every weekend, MLS has some special weekend deals and this week it includes coax and coax tools.

See https://www.hamradio.co.uk/


This is a development of FT8 to allow longer messages. It is not something I have tried. To me, FT8 is enough, but others may be interested. I believe it is at release 0.75.

See http://js8call.com/2018/10/11/announcing-the-first-js8-qso-party-19-22-october-2018/


There is a lot of free software at this site for digital communication. WSJT-X is still in beta release with the full Rev 2.0 version due in December. If you want to try some digital modes, take a look.

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

Living "in the moment" - NOT amateur radio

A lot of us spend a lot of our time worrying about tomorrow. Often, what we most fear does not happen!

There is a technique which may help. This has rapidly turned into a word for our time, but there is good science behind it. Mindfulness.

Sometimes we have to think about tomorrow, but perhaps we spend too much of our time needlessly worrying, when we should concentrate on enjoying the good things around us now.

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

More signs of autumn - NOT amateur radio

This photo was taken by my son in Kent a few days ago. More signs of autumn.

10m FT8 again

Rather than 10m WSPR, I have again opted for 10m FT8 today. An earlier CQ was spotted by no-one and, as yet, no-one spotted! Not a great start I have to admit. 😕

Nonetheless, I shall stick with the band and put out the odd QRP CQ on 10m FT8 now and again. In the past few days, the best DX came through in the early evening.

UPDATE 1317z: Apart from a couple of German stations spotted this morning, all very quiet on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1410z: Surprise, surprise! A recent QRP CQ (2.5W) on 10m FT8 was spotted by GW4BVE (237km). No QSOs though. Tropo or aircraft?

UPDATE 1652z: G4CJC (74km) in north London spotted on 10m FT8 RX. No DX. A CQ earlier (2.5W) got no spots! Will we see South Americans tonight?

UPDATE 1949z: Only a single South American this evening here on 10m FT8 RX - PU5FGR (10026km). I am not sure if this was just a poor night or the end of the propagation for the season. At 2000z I shall go QRT on 10m as I think that is it for today. Just 6 stations, 4 countries, 3 continents today on 10m FT8 RX.  I'll try  again tomorrow.

Coming autumn - NOT amateur radio

Spiders web on the window earlier
It is definitely getting colder here. In the garden it now looks like autumn with leaves really falling and dew on the grass.  In a few weeks most trees will be bare.

The seasons are great: each has something special: the long warm summer evenings and snuggling in front of the fire on a cold winter evening.

Sunspots - Friday October 19th 2018

Solar flux is 69 today and the sunspot number has returned to zero. A=2 and K=0.

10m Simple Sideband

My health has not been good for over 5 years, so work on this project stopped sadly.

The ideas were good ones and I am sure there is mileage for someone to progress these. What I really want is for someone to take this on and produce a really simple kit including a PCB and all the parts.

Every summer, such a rig would work right across Europe on 10m. In a few years real DX should be possible with modest wire antennas.

It would make a nice club project. First of all, someone needs to finish the development!

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/10msimple_sb

18 Oct 2018

Now 10m FT8

Every time I have looked recently, 10m FT8 has been "open" to South America early evenings. So, I have QSYed from 2m FT8 to 10m FT8. We'll see. My antenna is not too brilliant either, so I'm sure others will do much better.

UPDATE 1615z: Just a spot of G4DJB (128km) so far on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1750z: Several South Americans and the Falkland Is stations now coming through. 12 stations in 7 countries in 3 continents spotted today on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 2000z: Now QRT on all bands. Yet again, loads of South Americans (14 in all) spotted on 10m FT8 RX today.

Local bakers - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday I showed a photo outside our local bakery that looked like a dead rat, but which was actually ivy. Should have gone to Specsavers!

This baker makes excellent soft rolls - far better than those at nearby supermarkets. They do a good trade in filled rolls to passing workmen.

Rallies this weekend


Downshire Secondary School, Downshire Road, Carrickfergus. Doors open at 12 noon - all welcome. For more details, please contact Liz Forde, MI6GHA, Club Secretary, elizabethforde64@yahoo.com.


Volunteer Hall, St Johns Street, Galashiels TD13JX. Doors open at 11.15am with disabled visitors gaining access at 11am. There will be traders a Bring & Buy and refreshments available on site. Admission is £2.50.

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

Grumpy old man! - NOT amateur radio

Yes, don't tell me as I already know - I have definitely become a grumpy old man!

When I was waiting for my Park and Ride bus earlier, it seemed that everyone under 25 was on their smart phone.

Disappointment on 472kHz WSPR

Overnight I was on 472kHz WSPR, but only a couple of stations spotted my 10mW ERP this time. On RX, I again spotted Italy and Norway. Perhaps the rising noise floor is clobbering my little signal? Or is the novelty wearing off and there are fewer stations? Often according to WSPRnet there are very few UK stations on TX on 472kHz.

RadCom article

Much to my amazement, my short article on FT8 has been published in November RadCom. I was hoping to see it in a few months, but this took me totally by surprise!

Sunspots - Thursday October 18th 2018

Solar flux is 69 today and SSN=11. A=3 and K=1.

2m FT8

It never seems to fail! Yet again a CQ (2.5W to the big-wheel omni) was copied by 2 Cornish stations on 2m FT8 at around 460km.

At the moment on 2m FT8 RX 4 stations spotted in 4 countries with best DX DL2PK (448km).

UPDATE 1325z: 27 stations in 7 countries so far on 2m FT8 RX today. Best DX is DJ6GK (607km).

UPDATE 1620z: Another great day. Now QSYed to 10m FT8 RX.
Stations spotted today on 2m FT8 RX with a big-wheel omni antenna

17 Oct 2018


Until a little while ago, I had been out of the house. Now back, I have gone onto 472kHz WSPR (20% TX, 10mW ERP). All being well, I shall be on 472kHz until breakfast.

Return to 10m FT8

At about 1535z I went QRT on 2m and returned to 10m FT8. A brief CQ was called (2.5W) but no spots. So far no spots on RX.

UPDATE 1751z: 2 South Americans spotted so far on 10m FT8 RX. This never seems to fail.

UPDATE 2025z: In total 3 South Americans spotted on 10m FT8 RX. Is this conditions worsening?

HF and VHF FT8

Although not a great mode for chats, there is no doubt that FT8 has really taken off. DX that was once unimaginable is possible, even with QRP and small antennas.  I suspect many put their receivers on FT8, maybe endlessly call CQ, and leave it to see what comes through, looking later. Fewer people will just talk in the future, which is sad. There is even an automatic mode, so you can be gardening whilst your PC is having a QSO!

Certainly for me, real 2m DX is possible every day even with QRP.

The danger is people leave modes like FM, SSB and CW and move instead to FT8. Casual listeners will not "find" amateur radio as we did years ago.  How people "find" our hobby is important for the future.

One of my first experiences was accidentally hearing a local amateur on 160m AM. What are the chances of this today?

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

Dead rat? - NOT amateur radio

This was spotted outside our local bakers.

At first I thought it was a dead, shrivelled up, rat that someone had put there to say, "don't use this bakers".

On closer examination, I could see it was ivy!

BTW, the bakery makes excellent soft rolls!

BREXIT - NOT amateur radio

There is no doubt that Theresa May, the UK PM, must regret the alliance with the DUP in Northern Ireland as it is they who are effectively blocking a withdrawal agreement with the EU. The sticking point is the border with Eire. Neither the EU or UK wants the return of a hard border.

When she held a snap general election we all expected her Conservative government to win an outright majority. Instead, her position weakened and she depends on the DUP for a slim majority. Whatever your views are on BREXIT, this is not a recipe for strong government.

In my view, as no parties want a "no deal" divorce, we will either get more time or a fudge.

Short amateur callsigns

According to Southgate News, OFCOM is now issuing 2 letter callsigns for intermediate licences in the UK.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/october/ofcom-now-issuing-short-2e0xx-intermediate-callsigns.htm#.W8bpO_ZFy00

2m FT8 for the day

It never fails! A CQ (2.5W to the big-wheel antenna) was copied by 3 stations including 2 in Cornwall. It seems Cornwall is nearly always within reach. I suspect this is my limit under "no lift" conditions on 2m FT8. With SSB or CW I'd struggle to get half as far!

On 2m FT8 RX, just 2 spots so far - a G in Kent and GM4FVM (428km).

I shall probably return to 10m FT8 later.

UPDATE 0936z: 9 stations spotted in 3 countries so far today on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1021z: 15 stations in 5 countries so far today on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1149z: Now 19 stations in 6 countries spotted today on 2m FT RX.

UPDATE 1530z: Now 35 stations in 7 countries spotted today on 2m FT8 RX.

Last night on 472kHz WSPR

Not as good as the previous night with less DX. My own 10mW ERP was spotted by 5 stations with best DX PA3ABK (306km) and I spotted 10 stations with best DX IW4DXW (1190km).
472kHz WSPR last night

Sunspots - Wednesday October 17th 2018

Solar flux is 69 today and the sunspot number 11.  A=5 and K=1.

16 Oct 2018

QSY to 472kHz WSPR (10mW ERP)

As 10m seems to have closed, I QSYed to 472kHz WSPR about 10 minutes ago. A couple of G spots of me (from the reports it looks like my transverter is still settling) and 1 DX spot on 472kHz WSPR RX: DC0DX (467km).

OFCOM technical advice

OFCOM has published technical advice on improving data access for rail passengers.

See https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0024/123657/Rail-connectivity-advice-DCMS.pdf

ICOM IC202 and IC202S

Probably few will recall these QRP portables. They were made by ICOM and followed in the footsteps of the Liner-2.

They had a very good VXO covering a decent part of the SSB band on 2m. Similar rigs were made for 70cm, and, I think, 6m, although I am unsure about this. I expect someone will tell me! (see below)

As you can tell, these had a very "military" look. Mine was mainly used at home, although some impressive 2m SSB DX was worked portable with just the whip antenna.

The quiet VXO made these rigs popular for IFs in EME rigs. I owned an IC202 and used it with a transverter on 10m too. Much DX was worked on QRP SSB.

UPDATE 1535z: Well, Bas (see comment) has pointed out the 6m version was the IC-502.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/ic202

Autumn - NOT amateur radio

On the whole, it is much warmer at this time in October than I can ever recall. Perhaps someone can tell President Trump that global warming is a reality.  At one time we had snows in winter and winters were very cold. Now snow is a rarity.

In the last few days we have had some winds and the tree in our front garden has lost most of its leaves and now looks autumnal.

Chinese lanterns - NOT amateur radio

At this time of the year the plants we call "Chinese Lanterns" are popular. There are some wild and some in garden centres as the ones in the photo.

Morals - NOT amateur radio

We live, mainly, in a post-religious world. OK there are many that still profess to be Christian, Muslim or whatever, but we live, mainly, as if heaven or hell do not exist and many care not a jot if when we die we just return to nothingness. The truth is no-one is really sure what happens after death, if anything. Even the most vocal atheist is not sure. There is still a lingering doubt.

All this brings me to morals.

In a, largely, post-religious world, what is our moral compass? In the past it was the fear of going to hell. These days what guides us? Generally, we are moral beings, even when we could lead a life of hedonistic excess. What is it that "programs" (most of) us to be moral beings with a sense of right and wrong?

Es'hail2 satellite

As mentioned before, this Qatari satellite is due to be put up later this year. It is expected to contain both a linear transponder and a TV transponder. Several people are gearing up for it. Unlike most amateur satellites this is in a fixed position. It uses a 2.4GHz uplink and a 10GHz downlink. So once the antennas are aimed, they can be fixed in position.

At the moment I am playing a waiting game. If it is successfully positioned and works as intended, I might try to install gear to receive it.

See https://www.eshailsat.qa/en/satellites/index/

10m FT8

Yet again, I am on 10m FT8 for the day. A brief CQ earlier was spotted by no-one at all and as yet no stations spotted here. So far, not a great start!

UPDATE 1002z: Still nothing spotted on 10m FT8 this morning!

UPDATE 1117z: So far today on 10m FT8 RX just a couple of Gs spotted with the best DX G0OYQ (177km). Disappointing so far today.

UPDATE 1250z: Best DX on 10m FT8 RX is EA7AAF (1647km).

UPDATE 1701: 4 Spanish stations and a German spotted on 10m FT8 today. No South Americans spotted yet today on 10m.

UPDATE 1757z: The first 2 South Americans on 10m FT8 RX came through here at 1715z. Best  DX is currently PY4XX (9252km). It seems that every time I look at 10m FT8 RX I spot South American DX. So far today, 4 South Americans (all in Brazil) spotted.

UPDATE 1945z: About to go QRT on the band. In all, 5 South Americans spotted on 10m FT8 RX.

Spotted in Norway on 472kHz WSPR

For the first time this autumn I was spotted in Norway last night by LA3EQ (769km). It was the best night this season.
472kHz spots of me last night

Sunspots - Tuesday October 16th 2018

Solar flux is 70 today and the SSN is 22. A=10 and K=3.

15 Oct 2018

Now on 472kHz WSPR

After another brilliant day on 28MHz FT8, I have now QSYed to 472kHz WSPR. So far, a couple of spots of my 10mW ERP, but no others yet spotted.

Antenna choices

Homebase-10 Antenna
When the leaves fall, I want to prune my silver birch tree, which is now far too tall. At the moment my Par end-fed covering 10m, 20m and 40m is held up by this tree. At present, I am considering options.

My main HF interest is 10m and one possibility is a rebuild of my Homebase-10 wire halo for 10m.  Via an ATU, the coax to this antenna should match on most HF bands tuned against ground.

Another possibility is my x80 vertical which is in good condition in the garage. This has a 9:1 unun in its base, so a decent match is presented to the rig on most HF bands. Verticals tend to be noisier than horizontals and the x80 can snap in winds.

I could re-erect my Par end-fed.  This is very low, especially for 20m and 40m.

At the moment, the favourite is the Homebase-10.

BREXIT and the Northern Ireland border - NOT amateur radio

A politician I am definitely not!

It seems the UK PM is stuck between a rock and a hard place over the only land border that will be between Eire (in the EU) and N. Ireland (shortly to be outside the EU).

The UK does not want a distinction between N. Ireland (Ulster) and the rest of the UK. The EU and UK want no hard border in Ireland.

The EU is playing hardball. In the end we could leave with no deal and the EU and the UK could both suffer. In the end I suspect a fudge is to be expected.

Remote control of the IC-R30 scanner

Southgate News reports that the software to remotely control the IC-R30 scanner can now be obtained free of charge.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/october/rs-r30-remote-control-software.htm#.W8Rn1vZFy00

Repeater Activity

Some while ago, I bought a network radio, which means I can access lots of repeaters via Echolink.

Now, I am not a great repeater user, but it is noticeable how quiet these are compared with 20-30 years ago. This seems to be worldwide issue.

I guess these days there are other ways to communicate if at home and there are fewer amateurs driving to work than 30 odd years ago. I also think roads are busier, so people have to concentrate on the traffic more.