30 Nov 2018

472kHz WSPR

A few moments ago I returned to 472kHz WSPR.  It normally takes about 20 minutes for the transverter crystal to settle and the drift go to zero.

UPDATE 1830z: So far the evening, 3 people have spotted my 10mW ERP MF WSPR signal. All Gs.

Low cost spectrum analyser

This weekend is the MLS Hog Roast.

As part of their usual "something for the weekend" promotion they are showing a low cost spectrum analyser. It is years since I used one at work. OK, this is low cost, but covers 15MHz to 2.7GHz. Of all the test gear I ever used, a spectrum analyser was among the most useful.

10m FT8

Although conditions on the higher HF bands don't exactly look promising, I have returned to 10m FT8 for the daylight hours. As I have only just QSYed, no spots yet. Will I spot anyone at all? Only time will tell.

UPDATE 1400z: Just PD1DL (328km) and G4CJC (74km) spotted. I suspect the PD1 was by aircraft reflection.

Old friends - NOT amateur radio

Some old friends who moved out of our village several years ago are staying with us for a few days. The photo shows us enjoying a meal together last night.

What are they up to? - NOT amateur radio

We live next door to Burwell Museum and windmill. The photo shows 2 volunteers peering down the well. You may well ask why.
Well, they are hauling up the tray at the bottom of the well which catches money thrown into the well over the season, which runs from Easter until late October when the museum is open.

160m FT8 overnight

Although lots of Europeans spotted once again, far fewer North Americans spotted here. In fact only 3 USA stations overnight.

Sunspots - Friday November 30th 2018

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN 0. A =3 and K=0.

29 Nov 2018

MLS Hog Roast


ML&S Ltd, Wessex House, Drake Ave, Staines TW18 2AP. Sponsored by Yaesu, Icom & Kenwood the store will have its usual extra-low prices, lecture streams and manufacturers on site. Bacon butties for the early birds and a succulent pig in a bun for lunch! Doors open 8am and close at 4pm. For more details, see hamradio.co.uk/hogroast.

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

Special birthday - NOT amateur radio

My wife is 29 days older than me. Last weekend was a special birthday (21 plus quite a few!) surrounded by cards and flowers.

To Norway yet again on 472kHz WSPR

If I am not mistaken, last night was the 5th time I've been spotted in Norway this autumn with my 10mW ERP from the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. Yet again LA3EQ (769km) got me. Jan was using the suffix /MW, so I assume he was using a miniwhip. I guess he must have a decent low noise floor.

160m FT8

Having not long got back from Cambridge, I decided to go straight on 160m FT8. 6 stations in 5 countries spotted so far with best DX on 160m FT8 RX being RY9C (3706km) in Asiatic Russia. My brief CQ (2.5W) was spotted by no-one.

UPDATE 1540z: Now 21 stations in 8 countries spotted on 160m FT8 RX this afternoon.

Sunspots - Thursday November 29th 2018

Still the pits!

Solar flux is 67 and the sunspot number is zero. A=3 and K=0.

28 Nov 2018

Online books - NOT amateur radio

A reminder that a great many books are available on line, many free.

See https://books.google.co.uk

BREXIT - NOT amateur radio

Many in the UK have become bored with BREXIT, whether they voted to leave the EU or remain.

Unless things change dramatically, the Theresa May (UK Prime Minister) deal to leave the EU is likely to fail to gain MPs approval in Parliament in a few week's time. If this is the case (quite probable) we are in uncharted waters. The UK and the EU do not want a "no deal". At the same time, many MPs don't like the deal as it is now.

One thing is certain - we are going to be in a fine mess.

If the deal is rejected expect the value of the UK pound to tumble against the euro and US dollar. Import costs (including fuel) will dramatically rise although UK exporters will be better off. Somehow, I think a other referendum and a General Election are unlikely.

I suspect either some last minute changes in the deal (basically a fudge), we don't (yet) leave the EU, or more time is given to strike a deal.

Why doesn't the UK PM listen?

Straight to 472kHz WSPR

As HF conditions don't look promising, I decided to head to 472kHz WSPR early today. I have been on the band for just over 30 minutes. Time is 1111z.

So far a couple of stations spotting me : G8LCO (58km) and G0VQH (15km). No stations spotted on RX here - they must all be working!
Stations spotting me so far on 472kHz WSPR (at 1122z)
UPDATE 1540z: Just these 2 stations spotting me all day. I suspect these are unattended RX which are checked when the owners get home from work. No spots of others to this point. It rather suggests that trying 472kHz WSPR in the daytime is not worth bothering with. It will be interesting to see when the first station is spotted here. PA3ABK is usually a good bet. It is already starting to get darker here and it will already be dark in The Netherlands.

Our home - NOT amateur radio

The long, hot summer days seem like a distant memory. Now we have November with dull skies, wet and cold! It is hard to think the nights start to get a little lighter in just a few weeks! The mornings get darker until early January. The photo shows our bungalow now.

160m FT8 overnight

Yet again, 9 North Americans spotted on 160m FT8 overnight as well as Greenland and Asiatic Russia. I cannot believe just how many stations are now using this mode.

Sunspots - Wednesday November 28th 2018

We must be at sunspot minimum as conditions are so poor. Solar flux is 67 and the SSN zero. A=5 and K=2.

27 Nov 2018

QSY to 160m FT8

After another miserable day on 10m, I QSYed to 160m FT8.

A CQ (2.5W to the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground) got a reply and QSO from G3TXF (379km) in North Devon. In all, my CQ was copied by 9 stations in 4 countries. On RX, stations from all over Europe are coming through again with best DX RA9AJ (3901km) in Asiatic Russia.
160m FT8 RX this evening to 1930z
160m FT8 looking more like 20m!
UPDATE 1950z: OX3LX (2571km) coming through for the second evening.

UPDATE 2045z: WU1ITU (4831km) was first spotted here at 2039z, earlier than last night. This station is as regular as clockwork, coming through at about this time.

UK and Israel - NOT amateur radio

"International Trade Secretary Liam Fox is visiting Israel to boost economic ties ahead of Brexit" ... from the BBC News website earlier.

In my mind Israel is a puzzle. The Jewish people suffered immensely in WW2 yet their attitude to the Palestinian people seems so out of character. I do hope the UK will insist Israel treats the Palestinians better before we trade more with them. 

I know the Israelis will say they need to be recognised first, but compromise is needed on all sides. Israel was fighting in 1967 when I was about to go to university. I have been retired for 10.5 years and still there is no peace.

Grow up and act like adults!!

Trump - NOT amateur radio

Lesson:  Engage brain, then speak.

His recent pronouncement on a possible UK-USA trade deal speaks volumes.

History - NOT amateur radio

Parts of our village are very old. We are quite close to this cemetery.

10m FT8

After a night on 160m FT8, I have QSYed to 10m FT8. Yesterday 10m was truly dreadful - perhaps the worse day here in many years, so today can hardly be worse! As of 1040z there were no spots.

UPDATE 1045z: OH6NEQ (1860km) spotted on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1222z: Now 4 stations in 3 countries spotted so far on 10m FT8 RX today. Not exactly brilliant.

UPDATE 1314z: Now 5 stations in 4 countries spotted on 10m FT8 RX.

Sunspots - Tuesday November 27th 2018

Solar flux is 68 today and the sunspot number 0.  A=2 and K=1.

IC7300 sometime?

My XYL said, "why don't you buy a new radio?"

My favourite is the IC7300, although I am in no great hurry. I was hoping the price would drop, but at the moment there are no signs of this happening.

Quite a few dealers are offering "deals" with cashback, free covers or low cost PSUs. It feels like they want to compete on price, but they fear for their profits. Maybe ICOM is stopping the price dropping? Maybe the dealers have had a quiet word and have agreed to keep the price high? I have no evidence for this, just a gut feeling. Perhaps ICOM wished they had priced the IC7300 higher? Even with guarantees and VAT it is far less expensive in France.

The next stage is to get a cash price and guarantee details from the suppliers. At this rate, my target is to buy in the new year sometime, before the Es season. I am not really interested in dust covers: I would like a lower price for cash - no trade ins, with free delivery.

160m FT8 overnight

In all, 9 USA and Canadian stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX overnight.

26 Nov 2018

Warming UK (and USA) - NOT amateur radio

The latest range of expected temperatures in the UK have just been published. In the USA, there were warnings on Saturday about the impact on the economy of climate change. President Trump seems wrong.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-46343103  .

Early QSY to 160m FT8

As 10m was so dire today, I have QSYed to topband using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. This happened at around 1330z. I am currently on TX every 15 seconds with 2.5W.  So far, no spots given or received.

UPDATE 1357z: Just a couple of spots of my 2.5W FT8 signal from M0RTP (116km) and G8VR (76km). Just SM0MDG (1348km) on 160m FT8 RX so far.

UPDATE 1622z: 25 stations in 11 countries spotted on 160m FT8 RX today.

UPDATE 1630z: Just calling CQ again. 11 stations spotted me with best DX SM0MDG (1348km).
UPDATE 1755z: Best 160m FT8 RX DX today is R9YC (5247km) in Asiatic Russia.

UPDATE 2117z: Right on time WU1ITU (4831km) was the first USA station spotted on 160m FT8 this evening. This station is always the first I spot from the USA on 160m. Earlier, a station in Greenland was spotted.
Stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX so far tonight using earth-electrode "antenna" in ground

5MHz in the UK

OK, I do not use 5MHz much presently. We have some quite generous 5MHz slots in the UK with power limits greater than in the 15kHz wide international allocation released in some countries.

Personally, I'd prefer us to have the international, narrow, allocation with lower power. Many will strongly disagree!

As long as noise levels are low, the 60m band is quite important when solar conditions are not good.

One year on - NOT amateur radio

About a year ago, the only bank in our village closed. It has still not sold. The plot is central and I am quite surprised it wasn't snapped up.

UAE pardon - NOT amateur radio

OK, I am not clear of the facts, but the UAE has pardoned Matthew Hedges, the UK academic accused of spying and facing life in a UAE prison.

This reminds me of the Greeks who thought some UK plane spotters were spies some years ago. Some governments just don't get some odd UK behaviours.

Anyway, I am very glad the UAE saw sense.  I suspect the UAE was bothered about the harm this would have done them.

Mars landing - NOT amateur radio

Landing probes on Mars seems to be fraught with problems, so I just hope this latest mission goes as planned. It must be those pesky green men!

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-46333459 .

UPDATE 2133z: It looks like it successfully landed.

Windmill painting - NOT amateur radio

One of my wife's birthday presents this weekend was a painting of "our" windmill next door done by our 9 year old grandson. It now has pride of place in our hall. For a 9 year old it is very good.

His cousin asked where we bought it!

10m FT8

In a few minutes I shall switch to 10m FT8 for the day. This evening and overnight, I shall probably switch to 160m FT8.

UPDATE 1330z: The switch to 10m FT8 was done at 1030z. No spots yet. The pits! As 10m seems so poor, I may QSY to 160m FT8 sooner than planned.

630m (472kHz) WSPR

Yesterday evening and overnight I was on 472kHz (630m) WSPR with 10mW ERP from the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. In all, 12 stations spotted me with best DX LA3EQ/MW (769km) in Norway. I am often spotted in Norway on 472kHz WSPR.
472kHz WSPR TX (10mW ERP) Last Night
472kHz WSPR RX Last Night

Sunspots - Monday November 26th 2018

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN 15. A=3 and K=1.

Are we seeing the early signs of cycle 25? It would be good if the polarity of these sunspots indicated they were cycle 25 spots. I need to check. Looking at  http://www.solen.info/solar/images/cycles23_24.png
it suggests the minimum about now, although other images suggest the minimum could last far longer. Time will tell.

25 Nov 2018

Mobile phone insurance - NOT amateur radio

Actually, I need a bit of help.

At the moment I use a very simple mobile phone from Tesco. It is used mainly for texts with the occasional phone call. At a one off cost of £19.99  this phone is brilliant. A simple "pay as you go" top up lasts me months and months.

As a Virgin Media customer I was tempted by a fancy "pay monthly" phone which has 4GB data allowance each month (with roll over), unlimited texts and more phone call minutes than I could use. However, they seem very coy about insurance!! Having looked for ages, I cannot find what this is a month, so I assume it must be a lot. This may stop me going for a contract.

So, my question is, "what should I expect to pay in the UK for mobile phone insurance?".

Space junk

Southgate News reports that the FCC has rejected a plea for AMSAT to be made exempt from legislation designed to rid space of junk from old or redundant satellites. This is becoming a big issue with lots of junk up there.  I can see this being an issue if the owners of small satellites have to plan for the satellite when its useful life is over.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/november/fcc-rejects-amsat-orbital-debris-petition.htm#.W_ruNPZ2u00 .

QSYed to MF

After a very poor day on 10m FT8 (sunspot minimum!) I have again QSYed to 472kHz (630m) WSPR with the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground and 10mW ERP. On the first transmission 3 stations spotted me with the best being G8TTI (186km). At the moment, the crystal in the transverter is still settling. It normally takes about 20 minutes before the drift reported is zero.
UPDATE 1845z: So far this evening 3 unique stations have spotted my 10mW QRPP signal. Not a bad start. Earlier, I thought it was 6 before I realised some were at breakfast time!

UPDATE 1940z: GM0UDL (659km) is now the most distant spot of my 10mW ERP this evening.

Family weekend - NOT amateur radio

As my wife was celebrating a special birthday, all the grandchildren were staying overnight. We managed!

Last night on 630m (472kHz) WSPR

Overnight was average here on MF. In all, I spotted 15 different stations and my 10mW ERP from the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground was spotted by 10 stations with best DX a spot by PA0O (440km).

Sunspots - Sunday November 25th 2018

Sunspots again!  This may be just a blip, but there are sunspots again.

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 14 today. A=4 and K=0.

Is this the start of cycle 25? Only time will tell.

QSY to 10m FT8

After a busy, family weekend, at about 1200z I returned to 10m FT8. At present I am RX only. No spots yet!

UPDATE 1258z: Just one spot so far on 10m FT8 RX MM0ZBH (482km).

UPDATE 1401z: Just 3 UK stations spotted so far today in 2 countries.

UPDATE 1707z: In all 4 stations only spotted today on 10m FT8 RX today, with best DX DL6RDM (944km).

24 Nov 2018

Birthdays - NOT amateur radio

My wife is 70 today and I am 70 just before Christmas. It is hard to understand where the years have gone! Enjoy every precious moment. Inside, we both still feel young.

Sunspots - Saturday November 24th 2018

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

Best DX yet on 630m WSPR

Overnight, my 10mW ERP MF signal from the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground was spotted by 16 unique stations with the best being a spot by SM4GOJ (1246km) in Sweden. Although I am not sure, I think this is the most distant spot I have ever received on 630m at this QTH.
On 630m WSPR RX I was able to spot 19 stations here.

23 Nov 2018

Back on MF WSPR

This evening, I decided to try 630m (472kHz) WSPR again (10mW ERP from the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground). Best DX, so far, on TX is PA3ABK (306km).

UPDATE 2218z: So far 14 unique stations spotted on 472kHz WSPR RX and 11 spots of my 10mW ERP on TX.

Up the pole - NOT amateur radio

It looks like a neighbour is having issues with his phone or perhaps having his broadband upgraded. It was a dull, dreary, cold and damp morning to be working up a pole!

10m FT8

7 stations in 4 countries spotted so far on 10 FT8 RX today.

UPDATE 1533z: So far on 10m FT8 RX, 18 stations in 6 countries, all in Europe.

160m FT8 RX

In all, 5 USA plus Canadians and 2 Caribbean stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX last night. Shortly, I'll QSY to 10m FT8.

Sunspots - Friday November 23rd 2018

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 0. A=3 and K=1.

How DID we manage? - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday, I was asked to add a safeguarding policy to one of the websites I do. Today, I received a newsletter from the Cambridge University of the Third Age and this now includes an updated safeguarding page.

Have we all gone stark raving mad??

In the past, society functioned at least as well, if not better, without all this box ticking. Now, I am sure the intentions are honourable, but do we really need it? Like anti-discrimination laws, I am sure those who wrote the legislation had the best of intent. I agree, we need to safeguard people and their data and discrimination against LGBT people is wrong. However, the balance seems to have swung too far.

Perhaps we need a few judges to say this is all getting stupid and refuse to award any damages or dismiss a few cases for those who didn't tick the boxes.

Perhaps we need a 125 page policy on how to exit houses next? Mind the step, as this is a trip hazard. If I fall exiting your house I may sue you for £1M damages! Oh silly me, I forgot to read the 125 page document spelling out how to walk safely.

22 Nov 2018

Dull, cold day - NOT amateur radio

As usual, I went into Cambridge for my U3A course. It was a dull, cold morning.

Suddenly, the weather has turned and those long, hot summer days seem long ago. It is hard to think that in just a few weeks the evenings start to get lighter!

Return to topband

About 10 minutes ago I QSYed from 10m to 160m FT8. Already lots of Europeans including European Russia, with some calling CQ JA, although no JAs spotted here! Yet again, I am using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. It is still quite mind-blowing to spot so many stations each 15 second period on 160m FT8.  Best DX, so far, on 160m FT8 RX is R9GM (3499km).

A brief 2.5W FT8 160m CQ was spotted by just a single G: G8DX (197km). At the moment I am RX only.

UPDATE 1945z: Most stations seem to be E-W. I am not sure if this is the antenna directionality or just that there are fewer stations in the N-S direction.
Stations received so far this evening on 160m FT8 RX
UPDATE 2045z:  As on previous evenings, WU1ITU (4831km) was the first North American spotted on 160m FT8 RX.

Rally on Sunday


Spennymoor Leisure Centre, 32 High Street, Spennymoor, Co Durham, DL16 6DB. This venue is ideally suited for both trader and disabled as it boasts good parking and access to a large ground floor hall. Doors open at 10.30am, 10.15am for disabled visitors. Admission is £2, accompanied under-14s free. There will be the usual radio, computer, electronics and bring and buy stalls as well as catering and bar facilities. Talk-in on S22. Contact John, G4LRG, 01388 606 396 or check website at www.barac.org.uk.

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

10m FT8

All day I have been monitoring 10m FT8 RX. Only 13 Europeans spotted today with no "real DX".

Sunspots - Thursday November 22nd 2018

Solar flux is 69 and the sunspot number has returned to zero. A=5 and K=1.

160m FT8 RX overnight

In all, 8 USA and Canadian plus one Caribbean stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX overnight. As before, absolutely loads of Europeans too. Again, the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground was being used.

21 Nov 2018

QSY to 160m FT8 RX

About an hour ago, I QSYed to 160m using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground as the DX on 10m seems to have stopped. All being well, the first transatlantic DX on 160m will appear before 2100z. The band is filled with Europeans!

UPDATE 2219z: Right on target time, there was WU1ITU again. I am supposed to believe I also received a Pacific station, but I suspect this is a pirate in Asiatic Russia or Europe, unless I get convincing evidence otherwise.

Growing up fast - NOT amateur radio

One of our grandsons was 11 last week. Here he is just after a haircut.

In 6 years he could be driving!

They grow up all too fast, but I guess that is life. We have made the most of his childhood days so far.

EU Article 13: a threat? - NOT amateur radio

Having a son who is a professional musician, I am keen to see his copyright protected. However, it seems that Article 13, which could become law in the EU, could have very unintended consequences. 

FETer - a very simple 80m transceiver

Many years ago, I created the FETer, a one FET transceiver for 80m. Although very simple, it certainly worked. It is featured on my main G3XBM website.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/feter-80m-qrpp-cw-transceiver

10m FT8

Since before breakfast, I have been on 10m FT8 RX. So far, 1 spot - F1RAD (867km).

UPDATE 1003z: Now 11 stations in 10 countries spotted with best DX IW0BCF (1476km). So far, these are all EU with no "real DX".

UPDATE 1025z: I spoke just too soon! FR4OO (9722km) on Reunion Is (south Indian Ocean) has now been spotted on 10m FT8 RX. Now 17 stations in 13 countries spotted so far today on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1106z: A recent CQ call (2.5W) was spotted by F1RAD (867km), although no QSO resulted. Presently 41 stations in 17 countries spotted today on 10m FT8 RX. Dead? Hardly!

UPDATE 1208z: Now 3 South Africans spotted in the Johannesburg area on 10m FT8 RX.

160m FT8 last night

Yet again, I went on 160m FT8 RX last night in the evening and overnight. As usual, there were  loads of stations in Europe and Asiatic Russia with WU1ITU the first transatlantic station spotted. In all, 5 USA and Canadian plus 4 Caribbean stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. Best DX spotted on 160m FT8 RX was  W5IZ (7679km).

Sunspots - Wednesday November 21st 2018

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 0. A=6 and K=1.

Old Shack 1992?

Yesterday, whilst giving the shack a clean, I came across this photo of my radio gear in about 1992.

Although I cannot be sure of the year, there is a Yaesu FT747.  The MX2 is used with a homebrew 28MHz 1W transverter. Also in the picture is a Mk1 Lincoln 10m rig and a dual band Standard handheld (C828?) and charger.  Also visible is a Howes QRP ATU and a 70cms Pye PRM80.  I had more gear then than now!

At that time, I was using a table in our main bedroom.

America first - NOT amateur radio

Despite the brutal murder of a dissident reporter, the US president is still a supporter of Saudi Arabia. Perhaps this is tied up with arms the USA wants to supply them?

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-46283355

20 Nov 2018

QSY to topband

At about 1815z I QSYed to 160m FT8. Already lots of European and Russian stations spotted on 160m FT8.

UPDATE 2052z: WU1ITU (4831km) is coming in a bit earlier each night now on 160m FT8 RX. This is always the first transatlantic station I spot.  Once again, there are lots of Europeans and Russians.

The Lesser Chirpy transceiver

This was designed for 10m when the solar cycle was on the up (rising sunspots). It could still be useful in Es conditions, or it might make the basis of a transceiver for other bands. I can already see how one capacitor can be saved! It uses FSK to eliminate chirp. In the past, I connected an SDR to the earpiece output and this allows much of the CW band to be covered on RX.

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

See also https://sites.google.com/site/sm6lkm/saqrx/ for a possible SDR .

The Democratic Unionist Party - NOT amateur radio

The governing party in the UK is the Conservative Party. However they need the continuing support of the DUP from Northern Ireland. This could be crucial in any BREXIT vote. At the moment, the DUP is not exactly pleased with the interim BREXIT deal.

Mess? What mess?

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-46269755 .

More village walk - NOT amateur radio

This was another photo taken on our walk yesterday. The UK foreign minister at one time, Sir Francis Pym, lived in the house on the right before we came to the village (the Tan House).

Village walk - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday, we dodged the showers and did a walk around part of our village. My wife made this collage. It is now much colder with a biting east wind.

Cycle 25 sunspots

Southgate News reports that another short-lived sunspot of cycle 25 appeared and disappeared. According to spaceweather.com this is quite normal. Sunspot minimum could last some time yet.

10m FT8

In a few minutes I shall QSY to 10m FT8 for the day.

UPDATE 1035z: 5 stations in 4 countries spotted so far today on 10m FT8 RX. All Europeans.

UPDATE 1042z: First "real DX" spotted on 10m FT8 RX today: ZS6WB (9094km) in South Africa. As there is quite decent 10m propagation to southern Europe is this a mix of E layer and F layer?

UPDATE 1158z: A brief CQ (2.5W QRP) was spotted by SP7FFY (1452km). So far today on 10m FT8 RX 27 stations in 13 countries and 2 continents spotted. The photo shows the stations spotted so far today as of 1148z.

UPDATE 1333z: Another South African spotted on 10m FT8 RX: ZS6UB (9139km).

160m FT8 overnight

In total, 7 USA and Canadian plus 2 Caribbean stations were spotted on 160m FT8 RX overnight. All these were using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. Details of this "antenna" were given yesterday in a comment. Best DX spotted on 160m FT8 RX was C6AGU (7032km) in the Bahamas.

Sunspots - Tuesday November 20th 2018

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

19 Nov 2018

160m FT8

As it is now dark, I have QSYed to 160m FT8 using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. On RX lots of EU stations immediately spotted and even my QRP (2.5W) CQ was copied in a couple of countries. Best DX on 160m FT8 RX (already) is RA9AJ (3901km) in Asiatic Russia.

Es'hail2 satellite

I gather this was successfully launched and it is being "parked" in a temporary orbit so engineers can check it over. You may recall it includes amateur band linear transponders and it is hoped to be placed in a geosynchronous orbit.

See https://amsat-uk.org/satellites/geosynchronous/eshail-2/

2m FT8

It is a few days since I last checked 2m FT8, and there has been a meteor shower (Leonid) in the last few days. In the past I have been amazed by the DX which I spot every day on the 2m band by this mode. Most signals come in by aircraft reflection, although some are tropo. It certainly has transformed 2m for me. What is so unusual for me is that conditions rarely matter: this DX is always there!

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/2m-ft8  .

The week ahead - NOT amateur radio

We can be certain of one thing - the future is a mystery. The BBC is doing its best to navel gaze. One thing is certain. Mrs May, the UK Prime Minister, can expect a rough time!

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-46236112 .

Mortality - NOT amateur radio

A few moments ago, I walked to the bakers. On the way was a dead red-legged partridge that was probably hit by a car. I doubt the motorist was even aware. Things like this just remind us how fragile life really is.

A year ago my son's brother-in-law was killed whilst crossing the road on green at a pedestrian crossing in Australia. The car driver was on her phone and ploughed into him. He was only young.

When we die (some of us) hope for some kind of life after death. No-one is really sure, but probably we just cease to exist as we did in the billions of years before we came into existence. What chance we were born at this time on this planet?

Are all religions our attempt to come to terms with our mortality? I do not know. No-one is really sure.

10m FT8

In a few moments I shall QSY to 10m FT8 for the day.

UPDATE 1035z: A promising start? 5 stations in 5 countries spotted already with best DX RV6FT (3093km).

UPDATE 1143z: 11 stations in 8 EU countries spotted on 10m FT8 RX so far today. No "real DX" spotted here, although others may have been luckier.

UPDATE 1404z: Now 13 stations in 9 countries spotted today on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1817z: No further spots, so time to QSY to 160m FT8.

Topband overnight

Last night was the best yet with more North Americans and Caribbean stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX than at any point since I have been monitoring this season. In all, 14 USA and Canadian stations spotted plus 1 in the Caribbean with best DX KC9FFV (7612km) in Texas.

Sunspots - Monday November 19th 2018

Are we over the very worst or is this just a blip?

Solar flux is 73 (still poor, but better) and the sunspot number 13. A=3 and K=1.

We will need several months of improving numbers before we can be sure we are climbing out of the sunspot minimum. In the meantime, cross your fingers and hope!

Pound v. Euro - NOT amateur radio

Whatever your views on BREXIT, we can expect difficult days ahead.

I am sure the EU wants to punish the UK for leaving the "club" and many in the UK hanker for days which cannot return when "Britannia ruled the waves" and we had an empire. This is an illusion.

Our future is very much linked to Europe as well as the rest of the world. It is reasonable to want the UK parliament to have the final say over our laws and who lives and works here. We cannot have total free movement of people within the EU. In the referendum over 2 years ago I voted "remain" but there was, and still is, a lot wrong with the EU. It is protectionist and inward looking.

In my view, the best outcome would be tariffless borders with the EU, but the UK controlling who lives and works here. Personally, I think the EU is miffed about the lack of funding from the UK and is dreading others following the UK's lead.

If an agreement can be stuck, I expect the UK pound to bounce back. If we leave the EU without agreement it is anyone's guess what will happen. In the end I am sure the UK will do fine outside the EU, but it might take several years for the dust to settle.

UPDATE 1146z: So far today, the UK pound has been climbing and is currently worth 1.126 euros.

Steve G1KQH's Blog

You may be interested in Steve's blog. Steve is G1KQH.

See http://g1kqh.blogspot.com/

18 Nov 2018

Williams Syndrome - NOT amateur radio

Until I saw a tweet earlier by G7SOZ, I had not heard of this condition. Mind you, there are lots of things that I know little about.

See https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/williams-syndrome#diagnosis

QSY to topband FT8

A few minutes ago, I decided to go on 160m FT8 for the evening and overnight. I called CQ and then called a German station, but no QSOs resulted, although I was spotted by a couple of Gs and SM0MDG (1348km) despite my 2.5W QRP to the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. On 160m FT8 RX, I am spotting loads of EU and a Russian.

UPDATE 1657z:  Best DX on 160m FT8 RX is currently RV1CC (2030km).
The stations spotted in the first 30 minutes on 160m FT8 RX this evening
UPDATE 2135z: Right on time WU1ITU (4831km) in Maine, USA spotted again.

10m at present

As most know, we are now at sunspot minimum when solar activity and sunspots are at a low level.

In the past, many would have given up on the higher HF bands and moved down to lower bands to get QSOs. These days we have new weak signal modes and more people are exploring these bands in the "quiet years".

It is fair to say days are mixed. Sometimes it can be very quiet and at other times the band opens, albeit briefly, to distant parts. In the last month DX from South America, South Africa or the Indian Ocean has been spotted on at least half of the days with FT8. Even Australia and North America have been copied!

Indeed, 10m is much harder than a few years ago, but modes like FT8 have proved there are openings on 10m, even when solar conditions are poor and sunspots absent. Never give up on 10m. If more people stuck with 10m, we might all be in for a pleasant surprise.

Tropo forecasts

Although I rarely use this myself, there is a useful program to predict tropo openings on 2m.

Peace - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday, as already mentioned, we went to east Suffolk. OK, I am biased, but in my view Thornham Parva is one of the best churches in the whole world. It is where Basil Spence is buried and is a little gem of peace.

CDARC 2m SSB net 0830z 144.180MHz SSB horizontal

After several Sundays when I simply forgot, this morning I actually remembered!

Even G8OFA in Salisbury was copied, as well as all the others in the net. Sadly, G8OFA could not hear me. Afterwards I realised I was only on 2.5W and I could have used 5W. I am not sure where all the stations were located. Richard, G3TFX, about 200m away, was strong even without the big-wheel omni antenna!

UPDATE  1542z: G8OFA was using 400W to a 7el (on 2m) dual beam yagi. Quite a bit more ERP than me!

10m FT8

After a very brief CQ (2.5W), I am now on 10m FT8 RX. No spots yet, unsurprisingly.

UPDATE 1153z: 5 stations spotted in 2 countries with best DX on 10m FT8 RX F1RAD (867km).

UPDATE 1538z: Now 7 stations in 4 countries spotted today on 10m FT8 RX. All EU.

Topband overnight

On 160m FT8 RX a record number of North American stations spotted with 12 in the USA and Canada plus a couple more in the Caribbean.  Best DX spotted was KY7M (8369km) in New Mexico. All these were on the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground, which is well exceeding all expectations.

Even on QRP TX it seems to work well.

I am not sure if the pattern suggests directionality, or just a lack of activity from stations further south. The alignment of the "loop" in the ground should imply better results E-W than N-S. Certainly it works well E-W.

Sunspots - Sunday November 18th 2018

Solar flux is 72 and the SSN is 13.  A=1 and K=1.

Salcombe light - NOT amateur radio

This photo of the sky over Salcombe, where I was brought up as a child, was posted first by Andy Dean yesterday.

17 Nov 2018

Return to Topband

Just over an hour ago, I returned to 160m FT8. My 2.5W CQ using the earth-electrode "antenna" was spotted by 7 stations in 5 countries.

UPDATE 1900z: 160m never fails. Night after night, lots and lots of Europeans and Russians are spotted on FT8 and I don't think there has been a single night when I have been monitoring and not spotted a transatlantic station.
UPDATE 2130z: In the last week, the first North American has been spotted by now. As yet, nothing apart from EU and Russians.

UPDATE 2157z: Best DX so far on 160m FT8 RX is UK9AA (5171km) in Uzbekistan.

UPDATE 2215z: The first North American has been spotted: VA2WA (5115km) in Canada.

East Suffolk - NOT amateur radio

Today, we visited East Suffolk. We ate in Eye and visited the church there (see photo). We also visited Thornham Parva, a delightful thatched church where the architect Basil Spence is buried.

10m FT8 RX

During the daytime I am again monitoring 10m FT8 RX. So far, 3 stations spotted in 3 countries. I suspect these are all tropo or aircraft reflections.

UPDATE 1058z: Now a couple of stations in the southern Indian Ocean!  Best DX is 3B8CW (9751km) on Mauritius. A band with plenty of surprises!

Sunspots - Saturday November 17th 2018

Solar flux is 71 and the SSN 14. A=2 and K=0.

New Mexico on Topband!

Overnight, I was on 160m FT8 RX. Lots of Europeans again and 8 North Americans spotted with the best DX being AA7A (8369km) in New Mexico,USA. Still using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground, which has far exceeded expectations.

16 Nov 2018

Worth Sharing - NOT amateur radio

This was shared on Facebook by Michael Rainey. I hope he doesn't mind me sharing this here.

Return to 160m FT8

As 10m was dire, I QSYed to 160m FT8 about 30 minutes ago. My brief CQ call (2.5W to the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground) was spotted by 5 stations with best DX being DO1HJK (602km).

UPDATE 1852z: Loads of Europeans again on 160m FT8 RX with best DX RN9N (4605km).

UPDATE 2215z: Already 3 North Americans spotted on 160m FT8 this evening with the best DX being W8LRL (5919km).
Stations so far spotted this evening on 160m FT8 RX

Es'hail-2 satellite launched

The latest Qatari satellite, which carries a geosynchronous amateur transponder has been launched. I expect it will be some weeks before we are fully aware of the mission's success. If it is successful, it could be transformative.

See https://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/16/11/2018/Qatar-launches-Es’hail-2-satellite

Spotting pirates

This is an age-old issue. In my youth, even I was guilty, running an illegal MW TX! Mind you, with a range of maybe 20m, I doubt I caused any QRM.

On FT8, a useful trick is to see where the station is being spotted. If there are few spots close to the station's location, be suspicious. If the station is being spotted locally and across the world, it is more likely to be genuine. I know this is not a 100% sure-fire check, but if you have doubts it is worth checking.

Best night yet on 160m FT8

Overnight I was again on 160m FT8 RX. In all, 8 stations in North America spotted with the best DX being W7AL (7331km) in Idaho. This station was widely spotted in the USA and Europe, so I am pretty sure he is genuine. As before, loads of Europeans spotted.

10m FT8

Although I have been on 10m FT8 since before breakfast, no spots yet.

UPDATE 1216z: Just G0OYQ (177km) and PD1DL (328km) spotted so far on 10m FT8 RX today.

UPDATE 1735z: A poor day on 10m FT8. Just 5 UK stations and 1 in The Netherlands. Time to try 160m WSPR.

Sunspots - Friday November 16th 2018

Solar flux is 71 and the sunspot number 11. A=2 and K=0.

15 Nov 2018

Now on 160m FT8

A recent 2.5W 160m FT8 CQ using the earth-electrode "antenna" was spotted by R3BB (2446km) quite strongly. I am amazed. At the moment, I am RX only on 160m FT8.

UPDATE 2158z: Lots of Europeans spotted as well as WU1ITU (4831km) in Maine, USA. I am also supposed to have spotted a station in Argentina at +7dB S/N. Most of his spots are from Europe, so I think this is a pirate.

Rallies this weekend


St Vincent de Paul's, Caldershaw Road, off Edenfield Road (A680), Norden, Rochdale, OL12 7QR. Doors open to the public at 10.30am with disabled visitors gaining access 15 minutes earlier. Admission is £2.50 with those under 12 years free. £5 per pitch (for traders with own tables) or £10 for a pitch with table provided. Bring & Buy as well as commercial traders and amateur radio sellers. Refreshments available including bacon and sausage butties. Robert, M0NVQ, m0nvq@outlook.com, 0777 811 3333.


Nevada Radio, 1 Fitzherbert Spur, Portsmouth PO6 1TT. First ever joint open day running from 10am to 4.30pm. Major manufacturers will be in attendance to demonstrate their latest radios. There's a free burger and coffee for every attendee (available 11am to 2pm). The main warehouse will be opened to customers to wander around and pick up many one-off deals of the day, or pick through a large selection of vintage and used radio equipment. www.nevadaradio.co.uk.


Oasis Academy, Homefield Rd, Coulsdon CR5 1ES. Free car parking, doors open 10am, admission £1.50. Trade stands, special interest groups, refreshments. Andy Briers, G0KZT, 0772 986 6600. [https://www.facebook.com/events/437043790050777/].


Harewood House, Church Rd, Plympton PL7 1NH. Doors open at 10.30am, £2 entrance fee. David Beck, d.beck123@outlook.com www.plymouthamateurradioclub.btck.co.uk.

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