31 Jan 2019

Kings Lawn - NOT amateur radio

This probably has a real name, but it is the lawn separating Kings College from the River Cam in Cambridge, UK. In the summer, there are lots of tourists taking photos of punts or Kings College Chapel, but this is a cold January morning. Memories of John Betjeman's famous poem "Sunday Morning, King's Cambridge"

"...The white of windy Cambridge courts, the cobbles brown and dry,..."

Telling Lies? - NOT amateur radio

A Member of Parliament in the UK has been found guilty of telling lies over who was driving her car when it was caught speeding and both her brother and her have been imprisoned. I have no facts, so cannot comment on this specific case. However, it is wrong for any MP to tell lies to save his or her career.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-46596588

Homelessness - NOT amateur radio

One thing you notice in Cambridge is there are more homeless people on the streets than a few years ago.

Now, many of these people are on drugs and/or have a mental illness. Some beg as it is quite lucrative in a popular tourist destination like Cambridge. Whatever the reason, it should not happen in this day and age. In Helsinki, they have tackled the issue another way, with a lot of success.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-46891392

OFCOM Consultations

OFCOM is consulting on 700MHz and 3.2GHz spectrum.

See https://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations-and-statements/category-1/award-700mhz-3.6-3.8ghz-spectrum

10m FT8 RX

In recent days 10m has not been good here.  As of a few minutes ago I went on 10m FT8 RX, although my hopes are not high! As yet, no spots, although I am not surprised. At least I am looking.

UPDATE 1200z: No 10m FT8 spots yet.

UPDATE 1315z: Just a couple of UK spots so far. I think these are either tropo or aircraft reflections.

UPDATE 1440z: Now 3 UK spots. No EU and no "real DX".

UPDATE 1542z: Now 4 UK spots on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1834z: More by accident than design I am still on 10m FT8 RX. About an hour ago EA1JAZ (1197km) was spotted.

160m FT8 RX

A good night with 21 North Americans and 1 Caribbean station spotted overnight on 160m FT8 RX.  Best DX was V31YN (8346km) in Belize. This station was widely spotted, so I think is genuine.
160m FT8 RX spots here overnight

Sunspots - Thursday January 31st 2019

Solar flux is 75 and the sunspot number 15. A=2 and K=0.

30 Jan 2019

Cambridge in the snow - NOT amateur radio

As the photo shows, there was a thin covering of snow in Cambridge earlier. This photo was taken at about 1000z today.

How to lose £39 billion? - NOT amateur radio

According to Michel Barnier, the EU will not re-negotiate the so-called "backstop". Me thinks this is brinkmanship as, on the face of it, the EU stands to lose out on £39 billion in funding, and lots of trade, if we leave without a deal. It is as much to the EUs benefit as the UKs to reach a deal.

As a "remainer" I can quite understand why so many voted to leave this "club".

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-47061650

Still on 160m FT8 RX

All day today, I remained on 160m FT8 RX. So far an Italian and a couple of Germans spotted this afternoon.

UPDATE 1625z: Now 8 stations spotted in 5 countries this afternoon on 160m FT8 RX.

Beautiful music - NOT amateur radio

On May 4th my wife is singing in Trinity College Chapel as part of the Cambridgeshire Choral Society. Among the pieces is a work by Faure - Cantique de Jean Racine. There is a sample linked below.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pB_3rG7KZyU
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriel_Fauré
See http://www.cambschoral.org.uk

160m FT8 RX overnight

Stations spotted here 
overnight on 160m FT8 RX
Quite a decent night on 160m FT8 overnight with 9 North Americans, 1 Caribbean and 1 South American who was widely copied, so I think is genuine. Best DX spotted was VP8EME (12773km).

Snow - NOT amateur radio

A thin coating of snow, but bright and sunny here.

Sunspots - Wednesday January 30th 2019

Solar flux is 75 and the SSN 15. A=2 and K=0.

29 Jan 2019

Electric cars - NOT amateur radio

Let me start by saying I want to buy an electric car, however I think the technology is not quite there yet.

As with flat screen TVs and digital cameras, I am sure there will be a tipping point when most people will opt for electric and forget cars powered by fossil fuels. Personally, I think this will happen when realistic ranges exceed 300 miles and the price drops. At the moment, you have to be an early adopter or do mainly local driving. I guess if fast charging was very common and plentiful that would help. Although most of my journeys are short, the range today would require me to recharge once even to travel to north Norfolk and home again. This is just too stressful.

No, my view is this is a "not yet" technology. Maybe in 5-10 years?

160m FT8

After a dismal day on 10m FT8, I have now QSYed to 160m FT8. After a brief CQ Call (2.5W) in which I was spotted by M0NPT (124km), I am now RX only.

At the moment, the band is quiet, although I expect this will dramatically change in the next hour. As before, still using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. S57U (1294km) spotted on 160m.

UPDATE 1620z: It has started! RZ6LY (2943km) is currently the best DX with 6 stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX so far.

UPDATE 1725z: Now 47 stations spotted this evening on 160m FT8 RX, all over Europe.
Stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX 
so far this evening.
UPDATE 1850z:  Best DX so far this evening on 160m FT8 RX is RU8W (3643km).

Ice - NOT amateur radio

Although we had no signs here of a frost, there were frozen puddles at nearby Wicken village where we did a walk earlier.

10m FT8 RX

Although I have been on 10m FT8 for about an hour, no spots as yet.

UPDATE 1540z:  Still no 10m FT8 spots today. At the moment, today looks like a bad day on 10m. Time to QSY to 160m FT8.

160m FT8 overnight

Perhaps my internet was off overnight so some of my spots were not uploaded to PSKreporter?

Last night, just a couple of North Americans were spotted and these were before midnight. Initially, I had high hopes for the overnight period. Others may have been much luckier!

Sunspots - Tuesday January 29th 2019

Solar flux is 74 and the sunspot number 22. A=3 and K=0.

Sunspot minimum - when?

One forecast says we are just past the minimum. Another one says it will be 2022 before we start the climb! The indications are that we have already passed the minimum, but this could just be a blip. The truth is it is usually some time after the minimum that we can be sure.

See https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/products/solar-cycle-progression
See http://www.solen.info/solar/

28 Jan 2019

QSYed to 160m FT8

About 10 minutes ago I QSYed to 160m FT8. Initially I called CQ (2.5W) to the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. No QSOs, but spots from 3 UK stations with G8BCG (394km) in IO70 being the best. On RX just a couple of Norwegians spotted so far. I expect this will change dramatically after dark.

UPDATE 1640z:  It is still bright here, but already 8 stations in 5 countries spotted on 160m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 2045z:  As on previous evenings, loads (271 so far this evening!) of EU stations spotted. It will be interesting to see if there are any North Americans spotted on 160m FT8 RX. It sounds like just before breakfast is the best time at this time of year. Best DX so far this evening on 160m FT8 RX is RU8W (3643km).

UPDATE 2046z: If you are lucky enough to have a very low noise floor on 160m (mine is S0 with the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground, there is no doubt that FT8 on 160m is very effective at the moment.

UPDATE 2242z: Now 360 stations spotted so far this evening on 160m FT8 RX.

BREXIT plan B - NOT amateur radio

It is by no means certain that Theresa May (UK Prime Minister) will get her "plan B" or any of the amendments approved in the UK parliament tomorrow night when these are voted upon. With regard to BREXIT, it is a case of "who blinks first" I think. The EU seems in no hurry, but risks lots of business and £39 billion.

I cannot for the life of me understand why agreeing a deal beneficial to both sides should be so hard. Surely it is in the best interests of the EU and the UK to forge a good deal. We are leaving, so let us go with good feelings on both sides.

The main issues are, as always, politicians with vested self interests.

Where's my lunch? - NOT amateur radio

This black headed gull was on next door's TV antenna earlier. You can almost see it thinking, "now where shall I go for lunch?". It has been a bright, very cold day here. We just got back from a winter walk.

10m FT8

As of a few minutes ago, I have QSYed to 10m FT8. Initially, I was calling CQ (2.5W). Now I am RX only.

UPDATE 1551z: No spots yet. Soon be time to QSY to 160m FT8.

472kHz WSPR TX - daytime

As a way of testing my new install of WSJT-X V2.0. I went on 472kHz WSPR TX with my 10mW ERP from the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. Although I have yet to spot anyone, I have now received several spots of my QRP with best DX being spots from G0MRF (139km).

I see that DK7FC has being having success with an indoor loop on that band using 10mW ERP, proving again that a big antenna is not a prerequisite for 472kHz TX.

UPDATE 1114z:  Doh! Guess who forgot to tick the "upload spots" button. G1GKN was spotted loads of times, but nothing appeared on WSPRnet, so I was getting suspicious. He is now being spotted on WSPRnet.
Daytime 472kHz WSPR

WSPR-X 2.0 issue?

By accident, I found out that WSPR-X 2.0 was saving 8GB of wav files (even though I had ticked the box to save nothing!). I deleted all these from the "save" directory, but now all my 160m spots overnight failed to upload. The internet connection to PSKreporter seems fine. I shall de-install and re-install later to see if this fixes things. I am pretty sure that only those wav files were removed.

Later it said I experienced a sub-process error code 2, whatever that is. I deleted WSJT-X V2.0 and re-installed. I went on 40m and still no uploads!

Panic over! With the new install I have to tick the box saying "enable PSKreporter spots" or whatever it says. I had forgotten to do this! I seem to be getting plenty of 40m FT8 spots now and they all appear on PSKreporter.

Sunspots - Monday January 28th 2019

Solar flux is 74 and the SSN 22. A=5 and K=0.

27 Jan 2019

160m conditions are changing?

As I have said before, I am no 160m expert. Last night was the first time this winter when not a single North American was spotted on 160m FT8 RX. Just one South American spotted: HK3W (8507km). The impression I am getting is 160m conditions are changing.

10m FT8

After a brief CQ call (2.5W) I have been on 10m FT8 RX. As yet, no spots on 10m FT8 on  RX and TX.

UK Garden Birdwatch

Every winter for the last 40 years the RSPB (our national bird society) has organised a Garden Birdwatch. You simply sit watching the birds in your garden or park for any one hour and record the maximum number of each species seen in the hour at one time. This year I saw 9 species, but missed some quite common birds usually seen. As in earlier years, larger birds seem to dominate. We have plenty of starlings as these congregate on the nearby windmill. They do not roost there, but seem to use it as a stopping off point.

XBM80-2 in Dutch

Frank PA3CNO tells me my XBM80-2 appears in the Dutch "RAZzies" magazine for February. Frank asked my permission first - thank you Frank. As I speak no Dutch I cannot understand a word!

See https://www.pi4raz.nl/razzies/razzies201902.pdfs

Sunspots - Sunday January 27th 2019

Solar flux is 75 today and the sunspot number 26. A=7 and K=1.

26 Jan 2019

160m FT8

For several hours now, I have been on 160m FT8 using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.

On TX I ran 2.5W. Best DX on TX was a spot by LA2XPA (1281km) in western Norway. 5 further stations in 4 countries spotted me.

On 160m FT8 RX the best DX currently is RU8W (3643km).

Film "Roma" - NOT amateur radio

We just watched a film on Netfix called "Roma". It is a 2018 film in Spanish with English subtitles. It has won several awards at film festivals around the world. It is set in Mexico City in 1970/71 and is a "fly on the wall" film about a live-in house servant. Slow, but well worth seeing.


One of my old work colleagues moved to our village a few months ago. Here he is on his radio. We went to his house today as his XYL was celebrating her 70th birthday.

Windmill - NOT amateur radio

Before, I have mentioned that we live next door to a windmill that is about 200 years old. It was fully restored a few years ago thanks to a Heritage Lottery grant. When we have breakfast, we look at the windmill. The photo just shows our hedge. I guess the windmill is about 10m away.

10m FT8 RX

Most of the day I have been on 10m FT8 RX. As yet, no spots here, although I expect to be monitoring until dark.

UPDATE 1645z: Still no spots here.

Overnight on 472kHz WSPR

Overnight, I stopped on 472kHz WSPR using 10mW ERP from the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. I was on TX 20% of the time with the rest on TX.

In all 6 stations spotted  me with best DX a spot by PA0O (440km).
472kHz WSPR TX spots overnight
On RX, 12 stations spotted with best DX LA2XPA (1310km).
472kHz WSPR RX spots overnight

Sunspots - Saturday January 26th 2019

Solar flux is 76 and the SSN is 27. These are higher numbers than we have seen for a long time. A=13 and K=2.

25 Jan 2019

472kHz WSPR TX (10mW ERP)

For the first time in a while, I am on 472kHz TX (20%)  with 10mW ERP from the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. Usually, the crystal in the transverter has to settle and this takes about 20 minutes. During this time, there are a few Hertz of drift. Then it settles and there is no drift.

UPDATE 1805z:  A couple of UK spots of my 472kHz QRPP from G8LCO and G0MRF. Oh, it helps if you enable TX! For the first 30 minutes or so, I had forgotten to click this and wondering why no-one had spotted me!

UPDATE 2320z So far this evening,12 different stations have been spotted here and my 10mW ERP has been spotted by 5 stations with best DX PA3ABK (306km). I shall be staying on 472kHz WSPR overnight.

Older houses - NOT amateur radio

In our village are some quite old houses. I think the oldest dates back to the 1100s and is supposed to have a secret tunnel (now blocked off) going to the nearby church. We were told about this by someone who lived there, so it is probably correct.
A quite old house (17th century) is Tunbridge Farm shown in the photo. This photo was taken on a very dull day.

reCAPTCHA issue?

Certainly, every time I have tried to add a comment to the blog the "I am not a robot" thing has not been working: it just hangs and then gives up. I think there is a fault with linking to the reCAPTCHA thing. Other things seem to work OK and I can reach blogs and other sites OK.

UPDATE 1532z: At the moment it is working.

10m FT8 RX

Most of the day I have been on 10m FT8 RX. So far, just a couple of spots: 1 UK and 1 German. At the moment 10m seems dead!

UPDATE 1627z: One word will summarise 10m here today: CRAP!! In all just 3 spots and 2 of these were UK in the London area. Time to QSY to 630m WSPR.

160m FT8 RX

Not a bad night, although I have seen better. In all, 2 North Americans, 2 Caribbean and 1 South Americans spotted. Best 160m FT8 DX spotted was PY4AZ (9012km) in Brazil.
Stations spotted here overnight on 160m FT8 RX.

Sunspots - Friday January 25th 2019

Solar flux is 71 and the SSN 19. A=19 and K=3.

Getting better? Maybe.

472kHz WSPR RX last evening

In the end, I decided to stop on 472kHz WSPR RX only until bedtime. Then I QSYed to 160m FT8 RX overnight. On 472kHz, 13 unique stations spotted including 3 in Norway using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. All the usual suspects!
Stations spotted on 472kHz WSPR last evening.

24 Jan 2019

Yaesu FT818

Like many, I found the FT818 a real disappointment.

It looks like Yaesu "copped out" and simply upgraded the FT817ND to overcome parts obsolescence. No attempt whatsoever has been made to actually upgrade the radio such as adding a Lithium Polymer battery, speech processor or auto ATU. Basically it is still an FT817ND. What did the FT818 development cost? $10?

However, it is about half the price of the IC7300 which is 100W and a much better radio, so I am told. Maybe Yaesu will introduce an SDR QRP radio soon? That is, if they don't go bust first! Now, I love Yaesu products and have owned many over the years. But, it seems Yaesu has lost its way in recent years.

Had Yaesu wanted to, they could have developed a world beating radio with thousands selling their FT817s and upgrading to FT818s. It seems to me very unlikely anyone will sell their FT817s to buy an FT818. To me, this is a disaster and shows the market intelligence of a 5 year old. My views and others are free to disagree.

The best I can hope for is Yaesu is beavering away on a QRP SDR radio with everything we want. If they don't, I give them 5 years or less and they will be dead - gone forever.

Stones hidden - NOT amateur radio

Over a year on, the craze in our village for hiding painted stones or pebbles, which are found, then photographed and posted on social media, then rehidden, is still going on. Only today we found one which we photographed. We left it where it was so someone else can find it.

472kHz WSPR RX

About 5 minutes ago I QSYed to 472kHz WSPR RX. Already 3 stations spotted with best DX  LA8AV (1035km). It is still quite light here.

UPDATE 1608z: Now 4 different stations spotted on this band this afternoon.

UPDATE 2053z: 11 different stations spotted this evening on 472kHz WSPR RX.

10m FT8

As is usual, I am on 10m FT8 mainly RX. So far, no spots.

UPDATE 1535z: No spots yet. Soon be time to QSY, probably 472kHz WSPR RX at least until bedtime.



Horncastle Youth Centre, Cagthorpe Buildings, Willow Row, Horncastle LN9 6DZ. 

Doors open 10am and entry is £2. Traders tables are £5 per 6ft table. There is free parking at the venue. The usual traders will be there. Catering is available onsite. Details from Tony, G3PZU, 01507 527 835, tony.nightingale@yahoo.co.uk.

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

160m FT8 RX overnight

Quite a decent night on 160m FT8 RX with 8 North Americans, 3 Caribbean and 3 South American stations spotted with best DX PY4AZ (9012km) in Brazil. All received using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. This does work remarkably well at 160m and exceeds my expectations. At the moment 160m FT8 is brilliant, helped by the S0 noise floor with this "antenna".

FT8 is very impressive! In most 15 second periods there are about 10 stations in a 2kHz chunk of the 160m band.
Stations spotted here overnight on 160m FT8

Sunspots - Thursday January 24th 2019

Solar flux is 72 and the sunspot number 18. A=3 and K=3.

23 Jan 2019

160m FT8 RX

A few moments ago (1608z) I QSYed to 160m FT8 RX. So far just 9A4T (1343km) spotted.

UPDATE 1830z: Now loads and loads of Europeans spotted on 160m FT8 this evening. North Americans later? Yes, I expect so.

UPDATE 2300z: 300 stations so far spotted this evening on 160m (yes 160m!) FT8 RX. Nothing yet from "across the pond".

Joining the dots - NOT amateur radio

Maybe this is another after-effect of my stroke 5 years ago. Perhaps it is another artefact of getting older!

Yesterday we had tree surgeons in and I could have sworn blind that one said tea with one sugar and the other tea with 2 sugars, My wife said they both wanted one sugar. The simple fact is I cannot rely on my memory. It is almost as if my brain fills in the dots and sometimes this is wrong.

Flowers - NOT amateur radio

Sometimes our friends joke that our house looks like a florist shop! Indeed my wife likes flowers around the house. As well as lots of orchids we have others such as these carnations and gypsophila.

10m FT8 RX

Again I am now back on 10m FT8, mostly RX. The more active region of the Sun seems to be facing our way, but will this bring in any DX? As of 1035z, no spots.

UPDATE 1610z: Still no spots here on 10m FT8. today. Now QSYing to 160m FT8.

Back on 472kHz (630m) WSPR RX

As WSPRnet seemed to be working, I took a chance and went back on 472kHz (630m) WSPR RX overnight. In all, 12 stations spotted with best DX LA2XPA (1310km). No new stations were spotted overnight that were not spotted in the evening.  Unless I strike lucky and spot some USA stations, there is little benefit stopping on overnight.

Which dealers will survive?

Sorry if I sound like the grim reaper!

There is little doubt that many (most?) radio amateurs are getting old. Yes, there are younger people entering the hobby, but the vast majority are old men. This means several things.
  1. We need to attract and keep younger people.
  2. There will be fewer radio magazines. Even now, you have to look hard to find any in newsagents, whereas computer and gaming mags are breeding.
  3. Those mags that survive are likely to be thinner with fewer adverts.
  4. There will be fewer dealers.
  5. Most new products will be made in China (even if designed in the USA or Japan).
  6. There will be fewer manufacturers making amateur radio products.
  7. There will be fewer new products.
This is my forecast (I very much hope I am wrong):
  1. At least one major manufacturer will leave the amateur radio market or go bust.
  2. There will be half the number of radio amateurs on the planet in 20 years.
In the same way that high street shops need to re-invent themselves or go under, so our hobby has to change. The next 20 years are crisis times for a great many institutions such as shops, churches and, of course, amateur radio.

It would not surprise me if many authorities just allowed all users to use any VLF, LF, MF, HF and VHF frequencies without a licence on a strictly "non-interference" basis, perhaps with a low power limit. If you were OFCOM or the FCC this would make life easy. It is called deregulation. In other words, copping out.  Radio amateurs that remain can sort themselves out!

160m FT8 RX (not)

Yet again, I was going to be monitoring 160m FT8 RX overnight. As WSPRnet was working, I QSYed back down to 472kHz (630m) WSPR RX

Once again, all 160m and 630m reception was on the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. With this antenna my noise floor is S0 on 160m and 630m. At 160m and 630m, I think this acts as a loop, with best reception E-W. It works well on 160m TX too with the best DX over 1000km with 2.5W from the FT817ND. On 160m the match is excellent.

Sunspots - Wednesday January 23rd 2019

Solar flux is 71 today and the SSN 18. A=3 and K=3.

22 Jan 2019

Topband FT8 RX

As WSPRnet was not working (again), I QSYed to 160m FT8 RX (again). Lots of Europeans (again) with best DX so far RO9O (5145km).
Spots on 160m FT8 RX so far this evening (to about 1930z) 
using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.
UPDATE 2030z: It surprises me how similar 160m FT8 RX is night after night. Most evenings, loads of Europeans are spotted with North Americans coming through later and overnight. I am no 160m expert, but it seems North Americans are being spotted later than a month or so ago. One Canadian station was being copied here well after daylight today.

Trump and his transgender military ban - NOT amateur radio

If nothing else, President Trump likes controversy. The latest, allegedly, is the Supreme Court has allowed him to stop transgender people serving in the US military. Now, I do not possess all the facts, but this sounds a backward step to me. If I am wrong, I an sure I shall be put right.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-46963426

472kHz WSPR RX

WSPRnet seems to be working, so I have gone on 472kHz WSPR RX with the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. G1GKN (99km) spotted.

UPDATE 1618z: Already 3 stations spotted on 472kHz WSPR with best DX LA2XPA (1310km) in JP33 square.

UPDATE 1635z: As WSPRnet seems flaky again, I think I'll try 160m FT8 RX again.

Tree surgery - 10m antenna still in place

We had our silver birch tree lopped today. This supports the end of my Par 10/20/40m end-fed wire antenna. This wire antenna is not very high and I was expecting to lose this when the tree was done. As it happens all the tree work was above this, so it is still in place.

2m FT8

For about an hour, I have been on 2m FT8 using the big-wheel omni antenna. My 2.5W CQ was copied by 5 stations in 2 countries (best spot was by GI6ATZ (479km)) and on 2m FT8 RX 6 stations in 3 countries have been spotted so far.

UPDATE 1230z: Now 10 stations in 4 countries spotted on 2m FT8 RX today.

UPDATE 1544z: Now 26 stations in 7 countries spotted today on 2m FT8 RX.
Stations spotted so far today on 2m FT8 
with the big-wheel omni antenna

The post - NOT amateur radio

We get post delivered once a day. It has been arriving earlier recently, probably as we have a different person on our round who uses this van.

BREXIT mess - NOT amateur radio

Indeed this is a fine mess! Personally, I blame an arrogant, UK Prime Minister who will not listen.

Most want an orderly withdrawal from the EU. Some don't want to leave the EU at all.  I am pretty sure all the people of the UK really wanted was free trade and control over who lives and works in the UK, whereas the EU hierarchy seems to want more. I am less convinced this is what most EU citizens want. Sure, they want peace in Europe too.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46955437

Topband overnight

As you may remember, WSPRnet was not working so I QSYed from 630m WSPR RX to 1.84MHz FT8 RX. Overnight, 6 North Americans spotted with the best DX N9RC (6340km). VY2HH (4445km) was still coming through at 0926z!
Stations spotted on 160m FT8 overnight 
with the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.

Sunspots - Tuesday January 22nd 2019

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

Stars in the visible universe - NOT amateur radio

According to Google there are a huge number of stars in the visible universe. Estimates vary widely, but the number is extremely large. In our own galaxy the estimate is 100-400 billion stars! In the visible universe the estimate is 1 billion trillion! That is a huge, huge number!

And we are born at this moment on this little planet and after looking for nearly 60 years we have not found one single civilisation "out there". What happens when we die? Goodness only knows. What I do know is our brains are far too small to comprehend. Religions try to explain things, but their world views seem far too small.

The universe and life are real puzzles for mere humans.

21 Jan 2019

Topband FT8 RX

A return to 160m FT8 RX was made at 2005z this evening. Yet again, the band was filled with Europeans. The best DX is currently UK9AA (5171km) in Uzbekistan. Within 15 minutes, no less than 45 stations spotted! As before, using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.
Stations spotted in the first 30 minutes this evening.

472kHz WSPR RX

Although I am monitoring 472kHz WSPR RX, I have to QSY to 2m FM for the East Cambs net at 2000z. I shall go back on 472kHz afterwards.

At the moment (1922z) WSPRnet cannot be reached.

UPDATE 1949z: WSPRnet is still unreachable.

UPDATE 2005z: As WSPRnet is still unreachable, I have decided to go on 160m FT8 RX instead. LA3EQ, PA0A, and F1AFJ were all good 472kHz signals on my screen, but not on WSPRnet.

New houses - NOT amateur radio

For some time now (actually about a year!) I have been watching the progress of these houses being built in the grounds of an old pub in our village that closed years ago. The old pub is now a private house and is on the market at last. The other houses are still being built.

D-Star from Android tablets and phones

Until this was mentioned on Southgate News I was unaware of this app. Apparently you can use an Android device to connect into D-star networks using some software called "Peanut". This may be useful to some, especially if your nearest D-star repeater is out of range. You can also use Peanut on a Windows machine with an Android emulator.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2019/january/android-peanut-app.htm#.XEXNcfZ2u00

Super blood moon - NOT amateur radio

At about 0315z, I awoke very briefly. I said to myself that if I awoke again at 0400-0500z I would take a photo of the moon. What happened? I slept until about 0730z. So, no photos of the moon. The next time it is this good is in 10 years' time. Of course, then it will be cloudy! There are lots of photos on the linked page.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-46943592

10m FT8 RX - ever hopeful?

As usual in the daytime, I am looking on 10m FT8 RX for some activity. Not unexpectedly, no spots yet. If I am lucky, there might be a few UK stations and maybe the odd European via aircraft reflection. If I spot any further, it would be a good day. However, I am watching! I suspect many more are watching too. As a band of surprises, anything is possible! With FT8, the impossible can be possible.

UPDATE 1340z: 5 spots so far including 3 Germans - aircraft?

UPDATE 1500z: No further spots. Best DX spotted remains DL3GD (714km).

UPDATE 1613z: Looks like there is a brief 10m opening to northern Spain. In all, 10 different stations spotted today on 10m FT8 in 4 EU countries. Best DX spotted is EB3DKE (1198km).

UPDATE 1910z: In the end 14 stations spotted. All EU. Time to QSY to topband or 472kHz.

Snow - NOT amateur radio

Michael Rainey posted a photo of the snow outside his house earlier on Facebook. We complain if we get a few inches as if it was a major disaster. By comparison, this snow in the NE USA was huge. I expect they just brush it off and carry on.

We really are a load of wimps over here!

Sunspots - Monday January 21st 2019

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN still zero. A=4 and K=1. The pits!

160m pirate?

Overnight I was again on 160m FT8 RX. In all, 7 North Americans spotted as well as tons of Europeans. Supposedly, I copied D7XY (8876km) in South Korea, although the fact he was widely spotted in Europe, but not in Japan or other places in East Asia, makes me highly suspicious. I think this is a pirate. If not, this was my best DX last night. Otherwise KI5BLU (7656km) in Texas is the best DX spotted on 160m FT8 RX overnight.

20 Jan 2019

Topband FT8 RX

At 1743z I QSYed down to 160m FT8 RX using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. Immediately, all over Europe was spotted as usual. Best DX so far, within just a few minutes, is OH3NFD (1778km). 20 stations in 12 countries spotted almost immediately.

UPDATE 1812z: 40 stations in 15 countries spotted on 160m FT8 RX today. Best DX (so far this evening) is RU8W (3643km). So far, just Europe.

UPDATE 1913z: Now 136 stations spotted this evening on 160m FT8 RX this evening.
UPDATE 2216z: Now 292 stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX. As yet, no North Americans spotted.

UPDATE 2237z: Still no North Americans spotted here on 160m FT8 RX this evening. I am not experienced on 160m, so this may be normal. On past days I would have spotted a few stations by now.

Anglesey Abbey walk - NOT amateur radio

This afternoon in the winter sunshine we did a walk at nearby Anglesey Abbey. Even this afternoon, it was still frosty, so it must have been very cold last night. Although there are now plenty of snowdrops in flower, we saw no daffodils in flower.
Today's walk - 1.1 miles

Moulton, Suffolk - NOT amateur radio

A few days ago we went for a walk around the village of Moulton. It is a drive of about 8 miles there. It has an old clapper bridge, a stream, lots of thatched cottages and a fine old church (see photo). We ate afterwards in the Packhorse Inn.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moulton,_Suffolk

2m FT8 RX

Amazing!! I remained on 2m FT8  RX overnight and have spotted loads of stations in the last 6 hours alone (see photo). I shall stay on 2m FT8 RX all day. Best DX is OM6DC (1360km). Seeing I just use a big-wheel omni antenna, I find this mind boggling.
Stations spotted here on 2m FT8 in the 
last 6 hours using just the omni antenna!
UPDATE 1330z: 52 stations in 9 countries spotted on 2m FT8 in just the last 6 hours! Quite incredible. Who said no activity on 2m?

UPDATE 1603z: Now 74 different stations in 10 countries spotted today on 2m FT8 in the last 12 hours.

Sunspots - Sunday January 20th 2019

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN zero. A=4 and K=1.

19 Jan 2019

Cinema - NOT amateur radio

This afternoon we went to the cinema in Ely to see "The Favourite".  It was a good film about Queen Anne in the early 18th century. Actually, not a film I expected to enjoy, but I did.

2m FT8 with the big-wheel omni antenna

For about 10 minutes now, I have been on 2m FT8 with 2.5W. At first I called CQ (best spot was by G7RAU at 461km in Cornwall IN79 with 8 people spotting me). Since then I have been RX only with best DX spotted DL6YBF (471km) in JO31. 2m FT8 certainly works!
Stations spotting my 2.5W 2m FT8 CQ earlier
UPDATE 1115z: 2m FT8 never fails to amaze me. All the stations below were spotted with just a big-wheel omni antenna this morning!
UPDATE 2054z: Amazing! Most of the day I have been on 2m FT8 RX with the big-wheel omni. I am still on 2m FT8 RX.  So many stations spotted with best DX spotted IK3VZO (1172km) as the photo below shows.
2m FT8 spots here today with just the omni antenna!
UPDATE  2111z: Although the 2m RX will run overnight, I do not expect to spot much unless there is some aircraft reflection or random MS.

472kHz WSPR RX last night with the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground

Overnight, 15 different stations spotted here with best DX LA8AV (1035km) who was spotted 97 times!  Not a bad night on 472kHz WSPR. Six countries spotted.
WSPR spots here on 472kHz overnight

Sunspots - Saturday January 19th 2019

Solar flux today is 69 and the sunspot number 0.  A=6 and K=1.

18 Jan 2019

Return to 472kHz WSPR RX

At teatime I QSYed back to 472kHz WSPR RX. So far, DC0DX is the best DX.WSPRnet is showing the wrong QTH locator; I think the actual distance is 467km.   In all, 8 different stations spotted this evening so far.
Stations spotted this evening on the earth-electrode 
"antenna" in the ground on 472kHz WSPR
UPDATE 2155z:  Now 12 different stations spotted so far on 472kHz WSPR this evening.

Shop in Cambridge - NOT amateur radio

My wife took this photo a few days ago in Cambridge. I think it is in the Grand Arcade, which is in the middle of the city.


Out of my budget is the IC9700 from ICOM. This is a 2m,70cm and 23cm multi-mode SDR VHF/UHF rig.  If you are a keen VHF/UHF person, this rig may appeal to you. According to Southgate News, ICOM UK has an engineering sample.

I wanted to link the photo of the rig on the Southgate News site, but was unable to so. So this is a reduced size copy. For a better view, check out the link below.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2019/january/ic-9700-uk-launch-update.htm#.XEGf7PZ2u00

Overnight on 160m FT8 RX with the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground

Quite a decent night, with 10 North Americans and 1 Caribbean station spotted. Best DX spotted overnight was KI5BLU (7636km) in Texas.
Stations spotted here on 160m FT8 overnight.

10m FT8 RX

For about 20 minutes, I have been on 10m FT8 RX, but no spots yet.

UPDATE 1611z: Just 3 10m FT8 spots today with best DX HB9GXK (802km). Not a great 10m day here.

Sunspots - Friday January 18th 2019

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN 0.  A=7 and K=2.

17 Jan 2019

160m FT8 RX

Things are encouraging this evening with 3 North Americans spotted already along with loads of Europeans. I shall be staying on 160m FT8 RX overnight.

Amaryllis - NOT amateur radio

This year all our amaryllis flowers are white. Two were bought by our sons.

They all give us great pleasure.

Overnight on 472kHz WSPR RX

Again, not a bad night with 16 different stations spotted in the 12 hours of the evening and overnight period.
Stations spotted here overnight on 472kHz WSPR 
using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.

10m FT8 - dire!

For the last couple of hours I have been on 10m FT8. Initially I called CQ (2.5W) and since then I have been RX only. No spots.

UPDATE 1304z:  Just one spot so far. G4CJC (74km) spotted.

UPDATE 1542z: No further spots today.

Sunspots - Thursday January 17th 2019

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

16 Jan 2019

Return to 472kHz WSPR RX

About an hour ago, I returned to 472kHz WSPR RX. So far this evening, again using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground, 7 stations spotted with best DX being LA2XPA (1310km).
Stations spotted so far this evening.

Scary? - NOT amateur radio

I don't think this has been on before. If it has, sorry. At night, our local church is illuminated. Some think it looks scary, although I quite like it.

Microwave tropo

As amateurs, we are usually pleased when tropo ducting affects microwave frequencies.  As Southgate News reports, to commercial users it can be bad news, as happened recently in Australia.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2019/january/tropospheric-ducting-event-hits-nbn--fixed-wireless-services.htm#.XD8_GfZ2u00

BREXIT, what next? - NOT amateur radio

As Laurel and Hardy would have said, "we are in a fine mess".

The UK Prime minister's  BREXIT plan was comprehensively rejected in a House of Commons vote last night. The only sensible, and likely, outcome is for her to sound out what most people really want. This should have happened 2 years ago.  But will she do this?

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-46393399


Although I tried 136kHz OPERA RX last winter, I have never, yet, transmitted on this band from this QTH. Somewhere, goodness knows where, I have a small beacon I built for the band years ago. I really should try to find it and put it on my earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. If I can find the beacon, getting active on 136kHz should be easy.

10m FT8

About 15 minutes ago I QSYed to 10m FT8. As yet, no spots.

UPDATE 1543z: No 10m FT8 spots here so far today. Unless things change, today may be the worst day yet at this QTH on 10m. Soon be time to QSY probably to 630m (472kHz) WSPR.

UPDATE 1710z: No spots at all on 10m FT8 RX. Going QRT on 10m very shortly.

Little Egrets - NOT amateur radio

Before 1989 these would have been rare in the UK, but now they are everywhere. I am pretty sure this is due to climate change and their range extending.

Soon cattle egrets and great white egrets will be common in the UK too. Already cranes are back in decent numbers. In the next 50 years we can expect more bird ranges to move northwards.