28 Feb 2019

SSTV on Oscar 100

Last night I got an e-mail from David G0LRD, who has been getting some good SSTV signals back from Oscar 100, the geosynchronous satellite. I reproduce his letter and photos here. Thank you David.

"Hi Roger
Here are a few images I captured from the satellite (80cm dish, GPS-locked LNB, SDRPlay).

The two test cards were analogue SSTV, the other two were digital SSTV  (KG-STC software, Info here: http://www.g0hwc.com/kg-stv-english.html) 

Feel free to re-use if you wish.
73 David G0LRD "

Rally on Sunday


America Hall, De la Rue Way, Pinhoe, Exeter EX4 8PW. Doors open at 10.30am (10.15am for disabled visitors). Admission £2 (under 16s free). There will be trade stands, Bring & Buy (book in from 10.15am), and catering will be available. Details from Pete, G3ZVI on 07714 198374 or g3zvi@yahoo.co.uk.

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

Still on 2m FT8 RX

Overnight and this morning, I am still on 2m FT8 RX with the best DX this morning being DG2BCP (597km) on RX. So far today, 19 stations in 7 countries already spotted on 2m FT8 with the big-wheel omni antenna.

UPDATE 1800z: 47 stations spotted today on 2m with best DX DK1FG (815km).

Sunspots - Thursday February 28th 2019

Unless I am mistaken, this was a spotless month. Solar flux is 70 and the SSN still zero. A=10 and K=2.

I shall be interested to see the latest predictions for solar minimum. To me, it looks like we are just bouncing along the minimum, so it will be interesting to read what the experts think.

27 Feb 2019

Return to 2m FT8

A brief CQ (2.5W to the big wheel omni) on 2m FT8 got 7 spots with best being by G7RAU (461km) in Cornwall and I have spotted 13 stations already with best DX DL6BF (479km). 2m FT8 really is amazing. Every time I try this I get spotted a long way away and I spot amazing DX. Much of this is tropo and not aircraft.

New QRP mag online

The latest edition of Vestnik is now available as a .pdf download.

See http://club72.su/vestnik/qv19.pdf

472kHz JT9 and FT8 frequencies?

Ok, so I am asking for some advice.

On 472kHz I mainly use WSPR, but wonder if there is a better mode now more widely used? If so, what dial frequency should I set?

UPDATE 1657z: In the absence of data I am currently calling CQ about 500Hz below the WSPR sub-band on 472kHz FT8. Nothing spotted yet.

UPDATE 1725z: As I have not heard about FT8 and JT9 frequencies, I have returned to 472kHz WSPR. G1GKN (99km) is a good signal, as always.

Oscar 100 amateur TV signals

Although I check the narrowband webSDR from time to time, I have not seen examples of amateur TV through the satellite. There is an HB9 site on the BATC streaming service, but I have not yet seen any pictures. By now, I would have expected to see someone posting videos or even still images. If you know where I can find some amateur TV images, please let me know.

UPDATE 1927z: Just found this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yfb9_CHKDoQ

Is Trump in trouble? - NOT amateur radio

President Trump's former lawyer Mr Cohen is giving testimony to the US congress. It is quite damning.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-us-canada-47390300/trump-s-former-lawyer-talks-to-congress

Cambridge Proctors - NOT amateur radio

Cambridge colleges are "policed" by proctors, These men usually wear bowler hats. The  photo shows a few of these outside Trinity College earlier today.

See https://www.proctors.cam.ac.uk/

472kHz disappointment overnight

Last night, 472kHz WSPR was disappointing here. Just 6 stations spotted me with best spot one from DL3GAK (823km) and only 8 spots of others by me with best DX spotted here being IW4DXW (1190km). Maybe it is just me, but I get the feeling interest in the band is waning. Perhaps many have changed to a different mode?

Sunspots - Wednesday February 27th 2019

Solar flux is again 70 and the sunspot number 0. A=2 and K=0.  At the moment it looks like this month is spotless.

26 Feb 2019

Ickworth today - NOT amateur radio

This was a view at Ickworth, near Bury St Edmunds this afternoon. Although there were a few daffodils out, most were not. There were no lambs.

472kHz WSPR

About 15 minutes ago, I QSYed to 472kHz WSPR (20% TX, 10mW ERP). So far, 2 spots of my QRPP signal even though things have not yet settled.

UPDATE 2320z: So far this evening, 5 different stations have spotted me with best DX being a spot by DL3GAK (823km).

10m FT8 since breakfast

Following my usual pattern, I am on 10m FT8, mainly RX, although I  did put out a brief CQ call (2.5W) when I first came on 10m. No spots so far today.

UPDATE 1123z: Just one spot so far today on 10m FT8 RX of G0OXY (56km). Dire!

UPDATE 1352z: GI4SNA (491km) spotted. Aircraft?

160m FT8 overnight

Quite disappointing overnight with 6 North Americans and 1 Caribbean spotted on 160m FT8 RX and best DX V31YN (8346km). Only 348 stations spotted in the last day on 160m FT8 RX.

Sunspots - Tuesday February 26th 2019

Solar flux is 70 and the sunspot number 0. A=2 and K=0.

25 Feb 2019

160m FT8

At about 1725z, I QSYed to 160m FT8. My CQ (2.5W) was spotted in Belgium, but no QSOs resulted. Since then, I have been RX only. So far, 29 stations spotted with best DX LA9VFA (2460km) on the northern tip of Norway.

UPDATE 1842z:  Now 77 stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX this evening.

UPDATE 2210z: After a brief session looking on 1.908MHz for JAs, I have returned to 1.84MHz FT8. So far, 160 stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX. The first North American this evening was WU1ITU (4831km).

Global warming? - NOT amateur radio

Temperatures reached 20.3deg C in Wales today. This is the highest ever winter temperature in the UK.

It is beyond doubt that our world is warming, despite what rubbish President Trump may spout in support, allegedly, of his coal and oil lobbyists about global warming being a Chinese hoax.

Nor sure what evidence he has, but his views seem at odds with most scientific evidence. I trust science. Sorry, but I don't support the views of a billionaire president.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-47360952

Lopped trees - NOT amateur radio

A very similar picture was posted here yesterday. This is another view of the back garden showing the two trees that were lopped last month. In a few months they should be in leaf.

Bolt Tail - NOT amateur radio

Another photo of where I came from in South Devon. Quite splendid. 

I have already said in earlier posts that we know for certain we were hereabouts in 1427, so there is every chance my distant ancestors fished and farmed here millennia ago and the iron age fort in the far distance on Bolt Tail was partly manned by my ancestors. 

And we are just a speck in history. Quite humbling.

Already bored?

Although Oscar 100, the geosynchronous satellite, has been operational for a few weeks now, the narrowband transponder still seems quite quiet. A few moments ago there were just 2 QSOs on SSB, whereas I was expecting the band to be quite full.

As I mentioned yesterday, it may take a few weeks or months before people "trust it". Even so, I was expecting more activity than we are seeing so far. As yet, I have seen activity from Brazil and Qatar, but not India or further east. Most stations are from Europe.

Solar minimum

The solar numbers for February 2019 do not look very good. Although some are still predicting the minimum is over, I have my doubts. Certainly 10m FT8 is very quiet here most days with just G spots. I hope I am proved wrong.

10m FT8

Since about 0920z this morning, I have been on 10m FT8. After a brief 2.5W CQ call, I am now RX only. No spots yet.

UPDATE 16565z: Just 3 spots today on 10m FT8 RX with best DX HA7ME (1535km). Soon be time to QSY to 160m FT8 I think. Still bright and sunny here.

The end of life - NOT amateur radio

My son's parents-in-law lost their only son in 2017 due to a freak accident involving a driver ploughing though a red light. The driver was texting. There is a chance one of their two young daughters could die from cancer leaving a husband and 2 young children. The family, my son included, is very afraid. So are we.

At times life seems very random and very cruel. All world religions try to make sense of death. Perhaps the flame just goes out and that is it. However, there is so much we do not understand. Perhaps our brains simply cannot ever hope to understand. It is a brave person indeed who says he or she really understands. At the same time it takes some faith to believe in a just and loving God when things seem so cruel.

As death approaches us all, perhaps it is right that we think about it.

Sunspots - Monday February 25th 2019

Solar flux is 70 today and the sunspot number 0. A=3 and K=1.

472kHz WSPR overnight

Overnight I was spotted by 7 stations with best DX spot of my 10mW ERP being by GM4AOS (653km).  In total, 9 stations were spotted here with best DX spotted LA2XPA (1310km).

Grass cutting - NOT amateur radio

As yesterday was so warm, I gave our lawns a bit of a haircut. The blades were set higher than in the summer. We also managed a cup of tea in the garden in shirt sleeves! And this is February!

24 Feb 2019

472kHz WSPR (10mW ERP)

As it is now getting dark here, I have QSYed to 472kHz WSPR using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. On the first transmission I was copied by G6AVK (78km) and G8LCO (58km) even though the transverter crystal is still drifting a few Hertz. Normally, it takes about 20 minutes, then the drift is very low.

UPDATE 2225z: Now spots of my 10mW ERP have been received by 4 stations and I have spotted 8 stations so far today on 472kHz WSPR.

My other blogs - NOT amateur radio

I maintain several blogs. Among these is my Miscellaneous Musings blog. This is updated every few days. It is not amateur radio oriented.

Blossom - NOT amateur radio

As a result of the mild weather, the tree opposite our village Post Office is laden with blossom. A few strong winds and a few weeks and this will all be gone.

Grass cutting - NOT amateur radio

In shirt sleeves, I cut my front lawn earlier. After lunch, I expect to cut the rear lawn. For February, it is extremely mild. It feels like a late spring day! These are the first cuts this year.

Where I come from - NOT amateur radio

As a youngster, I was brought up in South Devon, UK. I moved away for work. Even now, I go back several times most years. My brother still lives there.

Oscar 100 - still quiet

A casual check on the webSDR for the geosynchronous Oscar 100 this morning around 1000z showed 5 SSB QSOs and plenty of space. I guess it will take a while for many people to assemble the gear. Some people will have held back fearing that something would go wrong. At some point, I quite fancy having a go. Certainly right now it seems a great resource working well. People using milliwatts are getting access and, of course, the dishes are fixed: once aiming at the satellite that is it.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

Neighbour pleaser?

Well, I think not.  Maybe OK if you live on a farm, but certainly my neighbours would object!

Southgate News have given details of the new antennas from InnovAntennas. These are billed as "compact".  I'd like to know what the non-compact antennas look like! With a tower, the investment must be of the order of £2k before you get a rig. Personally, this is not my style of amateur radio.

We are all different, so if this is OK with your neighbours and how you chose to spend your money, so be it. I make no judgements, but this is not for me.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2019/february/enter-the-innovantennas-xr7-and-xr7c.htm#.XHJlGvZ2u00

10m FT8

I was on 10m FT8 before breakfast today and called CQ earlier (2.5W). So far, no spots given or received on 10m here.

UPDATE 1005z: Still no 10m FT8 spots here today.

UPDATE 1127z: G0FWX (160km) spotted calling CQ. Also 2E0XXO (121km) spotted here, but doesn't appear on PSK reporter maps. Maybe my internet was briefly down? This station was spotted later.

UPDATE 1310z: With G4CJC (74km) spotted, there are now 3 spots in the log today on 10m FT8 RX. These were all in the UK.

UPDATE 1732z: Soon be time to QSY - probably 472kHz WSPR (10mW ERP). In all, 6 UK stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today. Stunningly bad!

Overnight on 160m FT8 RX

Last night was not as good as earlier on 160m FT8 RX with just 8 North Americans spotted. Best DX spotted was V31YN (8346km) in Belize. In all, 403 stations spotted on 160m FT8 in the last day.
Stations spotted overnight on 160m FT8 RX 
using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.

Sunspots - Sunday February 24th 2019

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN still 0. A=2 and K=0.

23 Feb 2019

160m FT8 RX

About an hour ago I QSYed to160m FT8 RX after the daylight hours on 10m FT8. So far this evening 87 stations spotted on 160m with best DX 5B4VL (3188km).

UPDATE 2051z: Now 167 stations spotted today on 160m FT8 with best DX R0SR (6425km) in Asiatic Russia.

UPDATE 2302z: Now 263 stations spotted this evening on 160m FT8 RX, but nothing yet from North America. Most interesting DX is 5T5PA (3791km) in Mauritania.

Quiet again - NOT amateur radio

After a few days with 2 of our young grandchildren, the house is now quiet again. We love having them, but I get tired more easily than I did. The photo shows them with my wife and a neighbour outside earlier in the sunshine.

Overnight on 472kHz WSPR

Overnight, I was on 472kHz WSPR (20% TX 10mW ERP). It was not a great session with the best spot of me being by PA3ABK (306km). On RX my best DX was LA2XPA (1310km) among the 9 stations spotted.

10m FT8

Yet again, I am monitoring 10m FT8 RX today in the daylight hours. So far just a G spot with no DX here.

UPDATE 1256z:   Now 5 stations in 2 countries spotted so far today on 10m FT8 RX. Best DX is DJ5JD (489km).

UPDATE 1353z:  Now 7 stations in 3 countries spotted today on 10m FT8 RX. No great distances.

UPDATE 1647z: Now 11 stations in 4 countries spotted today on 10m FT8 RX with best DX OZ1LXJ (802km).

Sunspots - Saturday February 23rd 2019

Solar flux is 70 and the sunspot number 0. A=4 and K=0.

22 Feb 2019

472kHz WSPR

Tonight, and overnight, I hope to be on 472kHz WSPR (10mW ERP) using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground, On RX the best DX so far is LA2XPA (1310km) and on TX G4ZFQ (203km).

UPDATE 2112z: Average start on 472kHz WSPR this evening.

MLS Kenwood offers

Every weekend, MLS has "something for the weekend" offers. This weekend, they have some Kenwood deals.

See https://www.hamradio.co.uk/

Guided bus to St Ives - NOT amateur radio

We have 2 of our 4 grandchildren staying with us. Today we went by guided bus to St. Ives, Cambs. The children really enjoyed it. It was a good day out, helped by the glorious, warm, February weather. I expect they will want to go again!
As old age pensioner it is a free trip for us with our bus passes, although we had to pay for the children. We ate lunch out at the "Oliver Cromwell" pub not far from the river. Food and service were excellent. It had a nice "buzz" and I'd happily eat there again.

160m FT8 RX overnight

Despite spotting no Japanese stations last evening on 1908kHz FT8, it was another great night for North Americans on 160m FT8 RX, perhaps the best yet. So many North Americans were spotted I lost count! Best DX on 160m FT8 RX was KY7M (8369km).

10m FT8

I have been on 10m FT8 most of the day. 9 spots of others with best DX SQ4OJD  (1357km).

Sunspots - Friday February 22nd 2019

Solar flux is 71 and the SSN 0.  A=11 and K=0.

21 Feb 2019

Japan hunting on 160m FT8 RX again

For the third night, I am looking on 1908kHz FT8 for Japanese stations. No luck yet.

UPDATE 2152z:  Still no luck. Still monitoring 1908kHz for another hour.

OFCOM consultation

OFCOM is consulting on short range radar.

See https://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations-and-statements/category-3/consultation-notice-of-proposal-to-make-the-wireless-telegraphy-automotive-short-range-radar-exemption-regulations-2019

Vote loser? - NOT amateur radio

Jeremy Corbyn, UK opposition leader, has said, allegedly, that Ms Begum should return to the UK to face trial. Whereas he may be legally right, I suspect this stance will lose him votes. This I.S. supporting person left the UK aged 15 to go to Syria. In recent interviews she appears to still support this group. Many in the UK feel she is a threat.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-47319763

UK Rallies on Sunday


The Victory Academy, Magpie Hall Road, Chatham, Kent, ME4 5JB. Doors open 10am to 4pm, £2.50 adult entry, free entry for kids. Local and national Traders, BRATS Kitchen, BRATS Interactive Zone for Kids, BRATS Junk, Talk In Station on 145.550MHz using GB4RRR.


St Josephs Hall, Chapel Street, Leigh WN7 2PQ. Doors open 11am. Trade, individual and Club stands including an RSGB bookstall as well as a Bring & Buy. Anyone wishing to hire a table should contact Colin on rally@WMRC.co.uk. Catering will be available on site. Details on www.wmrc.co.uk.

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

Mild - NOT amateur radio

We have had very little snow this winter. Today it seems very mild and already some parts of Scotland reached 16.9 degrees C. For February, this is exceptionally mild. Here in East Anglia it feels spring like. The photo shows "our" windmill with the blue sky behind.

10m FT8 - best yet?

Today is bound to be brilliant on 10m. How do I know? Because I am not on!

As the forecast was poor, I decided to give 10m a miss. This always proves fatal with others telling me what I'd missed! Ho hum. That's life. There will be other days.

Overnight on 160m FT8 RX

Although I failed (again) to copy any Japanese stations on 1908kHz, it was a good night on 1840kHz FT8 with 49 North Americans and 1 Caribbean station spotted in the 309 spotted last night. Even though I was on 1840kHz FT8 RX for less time than usual, this was my best night so far. Best DX spotted was WB2REM (7018km) in Florida.
Stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX with the earth-electrode 
"antenna" in the ground since late last night.

Monkey business? - NOT amateur radio

Today, we went to Chippenham Park, near Cambridge and after to La Hogue farm shop for lunch with 2 of our grandchildren. Here is the younger one climbing a tree (above).

Sunspots - Thursday February 21st 2019

Solar flux is 70 and the sunspot number 0 still. A=3 and K=2.

20 Feb 2019

Independent Group - NOT amateur radio

So far, 11 UK MPs have left their political parties to sit as independents in the House of Commons. To me, it looks like UK politics is in trouble with deep fissures in both main parties. By any analysis, the UK Prime Minister is making a mess of BREXIT, the UK leaving the EU.

In my view, a new grouping uniting moderate ex-Conservatives and moderate ex-Labour MPs is needed with a leader who is well respected as a fair and moderate person, forging policies by consensus rather than confrontation. Only time will tell how this will pan out.

Return to 160m FT8 RX

As 10m seems to be dire, I shall shortly QSY to 160m. Initially I shall be looking on 1.840MHz FT8 although I may move to 1.908MHz later hunting Japanese stations.

UPDATE 1707z:  Now 39 stations in 15 countries spotted so far on 160m FT8 RX today. Best DX is RW4PU (3362km).

UPDATE 1809z: As we are due to have grandchildren shortly for a few days, I have already moved to 1.908MHz FT8 RX in the hope of spotting some Japanese stations this evening. If I remember, I shall return to 1.840MHz FT8 RX before bed time.

UPDATE 2156z: No Japanese on 1.908MHz FT8 here tonight. I think there are fewer Europeans copied this evening around the Japanese "watering hole".  Shortly, I shall switch back to 1.84MHz FT8 RX

Landwade Church - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday, on our walk, we went past Landwade Church. This is a very isolated church which, at this time of year, is surrounded by snowdrops. There were only a very few daffodils in flower.

Return to 10m FT8

A few minutes ago, I returned to 10m FT8. After a few CQs (2.5W) I am now RX only. As yet, no spots.

UPDATE 1550z:  Just G4CJC (74km) spotted. He was very strong (+6dB S/N), so probably aircraft reflection.

Geese - NOT amateur radio

Back in the late spring, I recall seeing young Barnacle geese in Finland. These birds usually come here in the winter to avoid the cold.
Yesterday, we did a local walk and saw these Greylag geese in a field with some Canada geese. The latter were introduced in the UK (1800s I think) and are well established now. If you see a goose in the UK it is most likely to be a Canada goose. Most farmyard geese originated from Greylags.

No Japanese here on 160m FT8

So, the evening passed and not a single Japanese station spotted on 1.908MHz FT8. Seeing how every time I go on 160m FT8 I spot North Americans this surprised me, as I expected to see at least one. What surprised me was the high number of Europeans on FT8 in that part of the band.

Later, more in hope than expectation, I shall probably revert to 10m FT8 RX on 28.074MHz.

Sunspots - Wednesday February 20th 2019

Solar flux is 68 today and the SSN zero again. A=3 and K=0.  Not good.

19 Feb 2019

160m FT8 - Japan hunting

This evening, I am monitoring 1.908MHz FT8 in the hope of spotting some Japanese stations who do not have full access to the 160m band. According to Bas, the best chances are 2000-2200z. Later in the evening, I'll probably  revert to 1.84MHz FT8 in the hope of spotting some North Americans.

UPDATE 2308z: Although quite a few Europeans spotted up on 1.908MHz, sadly no Japanese.  It is now light there  so I think that is it for tonight.

XBS Telecom

Apart from the hassle of buying from overseas, XBS telecom seem to have the best prices inclusive of VAT and a 2 year warranty in Europe. As an example, the Yaesu FT991A retails at 1136.70 Euros. Additionally you can get a 100 Euros cash back from Yaesu.

See https://www.xbstelecom.eu/shop/en/fusion-digital-c4fm/148-yaesu-ft-991a-base-hf50144430mhz-analogiquec4fm.html

Oh, by the way the Yaesu FT991A is packed with a Yaesu 3 year warranty card!

Still not too busy on Oscar100

Today at about 1520z I took a listen on the geosynchronous satellite Oscar100. At the moment, activity still seems low, at least on the narrowband transponder, When I listened there were just 2 QSOs going on using USB. There has been some SSTV, but I have heard, so far, just one station on CW. I am not sure what is happening on the TV transponder. I shall have to see if there is anyone doing a TV webSDR.

UPDATE 1538z: Anyone know of a webSDR that relays TV from Oscar100? I haven't found one. So far I have only seen a power density view which shows how active the TV transponder is but not actual TV signals.

Distant windmill - NOT amateur radio

This morning, we did a walk at nearby Landwade and saw no-one at all! My wife took this picture of "our" windmill at a distance of about 3.5km. It is right next to our home.

10m FT8

Most of the day I have been on 10m FT8 RX. So far, only 3 spots with best DX LA3WJA (1155km).

UPDATE 1500z: Now 5 spots. No great DX.

160m FT8 RX

With 22 North Americans spotted on 160m FT8 RX, last night was pretty good. On the advice of Bas, I shall try listening for the Japanese stations tonight on 1908kHz between 2000-2200z.

Sunspots - Tuesday February 19th 2019

Solar flux is 70 again and the sunspot number 0. A=6 and K=1.

18 Feb 2019

160m FT8 RX

From about 2015z, I have been on 160m FT8 RX using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. As usual, there were lots of Europeans spotted, plus a few Asians and Africans, 128 stations in total. WU1ITU (4831km) was the first North American spotted at 2151z.
Stations spotted so far on 160m FT8 RX this evening

UK politics - NOT amateur radio

So, 7 people have left the UK Labour party. As my politics is fairly centralist, I support them and hope they are soon joined by others from whatever party. I hope they form a new centralist party. Come the next election, I expect another coalition which, I hope, is more on the centre than the extremes of both Conservative and Labour parties.

DX on Oscar 100

Just heard PY2GN in Sao Paulo calling CQ. It seems odd to hear South Americans as easily as Europeans. Of course, as long as these stations can see the geosynchronous satellite and run similar gear there is no reason at all why they should not be equally strong.

UPDATE 1206z: Just heard F0JBN JN08 running 100mW.

UPDATE 1547z: Excuse my ignorance, but on the Oscar100 webSDR there are coloured lines above the frequency marks. What are these?

East Cambs net Mondays 144.575 FM vertical 8pm

A reminder that a few of us usually meet at 2000z on 144.575MHz FM on Monday evenings. Discussions rarely go on after 2030z. Newcomers are always welcome, even if you cannot stop long. This is one four four point five seven five in the all modes section of the band. Operation is usually stations in the East Cambs area. We use vertical polarisation. Discussions are wide ranging covering technical and non-technical things and the technical stuff is never heavy - usually a participant asking advice. If we can comment usefully, we do!

Sunspots - Monday February 18th 2019

Solar flux is 70 still and the SSN still 0. A=4 and K=3.

2m FT8 RX

I remained on 2m FT8 overnight. This morning, 10 stations in 3 countries spotted so far with best DX spot being DL6BF (479km).

UPDATE 1348z: Now 19 stations in 7 countries so far spotted today on 2m FT8 RX.

17 Feb 2019

SSTV from Oscar 100

Although I made no attempt to decode it, someone was sending SSTV through this geosynchronous satellite earlier.

Also, DD0CW was a good signal on CW, which is the first time I have heard any CW via this satellite. I am sure others have used this mode, but not when I was looking.

Again, using the webSDR to check activity. At the moment about 4-6 QSOs ongoing at any one time, so not busy. As yet, my best DX heard via Oscar 100 is an A71 in Qatar. I know others have heard PY. It must be odd to receive DX stations with no QSB and at any time!

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

UPDATE 2247z: GU6EFB has been calling CQ for ages with no takers. I guess most USB operators have tried and worked those that are active. As far as I am concerned, the vast majority are Europeans and mainly Germans and English stations. I guess there are fewer microwave enthusiasts in Africa and South America. I expect some will start with just the 2.4GHz TX and receive using the webSDR?

Gardening - NOT amateur radio

As the weather was sunny and mild, we decided to do some gardening.

I trimmed back some choisya, which smells like lemon. After about 20 minutes I was totally exhausted and had to stop. When on my feet I am giddy all of the time, but stretching as well just did it for me. I am pretty sure this is my 2013 stroke after-effects and not just me getting older.

It was nice to be in the garden, but I have to learn to pace myself.

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

New friend? - NOT amateur radio

As the weather was so good today, we went to Hare Park at Chippenham, near Cambridge to see the snowdrops. There were a few daffodils out, but not many.

The second photo is my wife with one of the statues.

The photo at the top shows some of the snowdrops.

Spring? - NOT amateur radio

Yes, I know it is only February and we could still get really cold weather and snow. However, it feels like spring and the daffodils on our green are in full bloom. This picture is a few days old and they are even more in bloom today.

2m FT8 RX

Much of the morning, I have been on 2m FT8 RX. So far, 29 stations spotted here with best DX DF7JC (468km). Once again using the FT817ND with the big-wheel omni antenna.
UPDATE 1621z: Currently 50 stations in 6 countries spotted today on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1754z:  Now 56 stations in 7 countries spotted on 2m FT8 RX today.

UPDATE 2230z:  Now 71 different stations in 8 countries with best DX spotted DL3TW (655km) on 2m FT8 in the last 12 hours.

Overnight on 472kHz WSPR

Last night (overnight) and last evening, I was active on 472kHz WSPR with 10mW ERP from the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. I would describe conditions and results as "average"  with 7 stations spotting me and I spotted 9 stations. On TX my best DX was a spot by F59706/1 (560km) who copied my 10mW ERP at -23dB S/N.
Stations that spotted me.
Stations I spotted.

Sunspots - Sunday February 17th 2019

Solar flux is 70 and the sunspot number zero. A=4 and K=1.

16 Feb 2019

QSY to 472kHz WSPR

At about 1837z, I QSYed to 472kHz WSPR with 10mW ERP from the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.

QSYed from 10m FT8

At the moment, I am looking on 1.84MHz FT8 RX, although I think I'll try 472kHz WSPR (10mW ERP) shortly. Even within a few minutes, much of Europe was coming through again on 160m FT8 RX.
Stations received within a few minutes on 160m FT8 
RX with the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.

Earth-electrode "antenna" further description

Earth-electrode "antenna" system - click to enlarge
As blog readers will know, over the years I have had great success on VLF earth-mode, LF and MF with a very simple "antenna" that the neighbours and XYL don't even realise is there. Now, if you have space for a real antenna you may well get better results with a proper antenna and ground system. However, if like me, you don't like big antennas this may be an answer, at least with modes like WSPR, JT9 and FT8. Every situation is different. At the old QTH I did not need a matching transformer at all. At your QTH you may need a different turns number or ratio. At 137kHz, 472kHz and 1.84MHz my theory is this forms a loop in the ground. With VLF utilities assisted earth-mode I think it behaves differently.
3C90 step-up transformer
Basically, the far end connects to a ground rod about 1m long in the soil. This is connected to the shack end via a wire (normal hook-up wire) that runs along the garden fence, not far off the ground. At the shack end I connect to the mains ground (please check that this is safe at your QTH as mains earths vary), although at the old QTH I used a separate ground spike (outside the shack) with the wire from the far ground spike run along the ground. Results were almost identical.

At this QTH I use a 3C90 42mm diameter toroid with 2t on the primary (connected to the rig or transverter) and a 20t secondary (connected to the "antenna"). This was empirically wound to give best match and best ERP. I hope the diagram and photo helps. The video was at the old QTH.

Oscar 100

Only time will tell how this geosynchronous satellite (Es'hail2) will work out. At the moment, it seems to be working well with about 6-8 users at one time. As time goes by, I expect more people will get active on it. In the end it could get quite busy.

Will the initial enthusiasm wane? Will people soon tire of this "repeater in the sky"? OK it is 22000 miles up, but once you have worked a few stations, you know you can work just about anybody that is in range across the planet with suitable gear. At the moment it is novel to be able to work real DX with ease on microwave frequencies at any time.

At the moment I am monitoring on the web SDR. See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

10m FT8 during the day

As per usual, I am on 10m FT8 RX during the day. Just one G spotted so far G4HZW (212km). No sign here of much activity today.

UPDATE 1425z: HB9DFP (714km) best DX spotted today on 10m FT8 RX. Just 3 spots in all here.

Witch hazel? - NOT amateur radio

I am definitely not a plant expert! This was seen at Anglesey Abbey a few days ago. I think it is witch hazel, although I am not sure. If it is, I am not sure why it got this name.

160m FT8 RX overnight

A pretty good period with 403 different stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX in the last 24 hours with 16 North Americans spotted overnight. Best DX was N5TZH (7537km) in Louisiana. Yet again, using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.

Sunspots - Saturday February 16th 2019

Solar flux is 70 today and the SSN zero. A=4 and K=1.

15 Feb 2019

Budding artist - NOT amateur radio

Our 9 year old grandson is a great artist. This is his latest. Like many youngsters, he seems addicted to the iPad. There are other examples of his artwork on my main website. He is a good all-rounder and enjoys several sports. Of all our grandchildren, he is probably the most sociable and rounded.

160m FT8 RX

Since teatime, I have been on 160m FT8 RX. So far, 94 stations spotted on the band.

UPDATE 2106z: Now 161 stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX this evening on the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.

UPDATE 2207z: Now 213 stations spotted and WU1ITU (4831km)  spotted at 2154z.

UPDATE 2314z: Now 252 stations spotted this evening on 160m FT8 RX with 3 North Americans.

10m FT8

Most of the day I have been monitoring 10m FT8 RX. So far, 5 spots with my best DX F5RD (681km) in central France. Not sure if this was a slight bit of Es or aircraft reflection.

At the moment many users have deserted 10m, although I expect they will be back in the main Es season from April-August. As FT8 seems to show, 10m is actually open (albeit briefly) on many days. It would not surprise me to hear that better equipped stations could work N-S DX paths on many days, although you need activity!

Overnight on 160m FT8

Not a bad night. 10 North Americans and 1 Caribbean stations spotted last night along with 410 Europeans and Asians on 160m FT8 RX with the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.

Sunspots - Friday February 15th 2019

Solar flux is 71 and the SSN 0 yet again. A=13 and K=3.

14 Feb 2019

160m FT8

Using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground for a brief CQ just now (2.5W) resulted in just one spot by M0RTP (116km). On 160m FT8 RX so far 4 stations spotted in 4 countries here, although it is still bright and sunny.

UPDATE 2218z: Loads and loads of Europeans spotted on 160m FT8 RX this evening again. VE3OAT (5359km) was the first North American spotted at 2207z.

UPDATE 2326z: Now 5 North Americans spotted on 160m FT8 RX already! At the last count 299 Europeans and Asians spotted already on 160m FT8 RX.

Statue - NOT amateur radio

On St Pancras Station in London is a statue of Sir John Betjeman. St Pancras is where the Eurostar trains leave from for Brussels and Paris.

Sir John loved trains and without his intervention in the 1960s it is likely this fine building would have been pulled down in the name of "progress".

Javelin trains - NOT amateur radio

The journeys to and from Canterbury were fast due in part to non-stop trains to and from Cambridge to London and the fast Javelin trains from St Pancras deep into Kent. These are fast, clean and spacious. The staff are always very helpful in Kent. Javelins are a bit like Eurostar eating up the miles. You board the train and reach your destination in no time!

We went to Kent to see our son and family and to see one of our grandsons in his school musical, "Mary Poppins", which was very good.



Nantwich Civic Hall, Cheshire, CW5 5DG. The venue has free car parking and the doors open at 10:30am. There will be a Bring & Buy, as well as traders and RSGB book stall. A single raffle ticket is included with the entrance programme with additional tickets available. Catering is provided on site. Contact Stuart Jackson on 07880 732 534.

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

Sunspots - Thursday February 14th 2019

Solar flux is 71 today and the sunspot number 0. A=13 and K=3.

13 Feb 2019

New post on earth-electrode antenna coming

Although I have some urgent family matters to attend to first, it is my intention to do a new post about my earth-electrode antenna system for LF/MF, which works well for me, but is dead simple. I'll probably do it at the weekend and add photos and diagrams to make things clearer.

70cm activity contest (UKAC)

This contest is held every month, although I resorted, as usual, to my 2m big-wheel omni last night as my antenna and I use 5W. In all, 4 stations worked with best DX G3MEH in IO91QS.Usually I work G4CLA (105km) , but my voice said, "go QRT".

Sunspots - Wednesday February 13th 2019

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN still zero. The active side of the sun is still pointing away from Earth I think. A=6 and K=2.

12 Feb 2019

Es'hail2 geosynchronous satellite operational

Ahead of the official opening users can now experimentally unload to this satellite and it is already busy! Most users I have heard are using 5-6W and getting solid access. So far, so good.

Not sure if it is just me, but everything goes dead on the web SDR after about a minute or two. When I reload the page all is fine again for a limited time. I am using MS Edge with Windows 10.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

QSY to 160m FT8 RX

At about 1615z, I QSYed from 10m to 160m FT8 RX. Already there are Europeans coming through. 5 stations spotted in 3 countries within 10 minutes. Best DX on 160m FT8 RX is UT4XU (1963km).

Boots and flowers - NOT amateur radio

Our local Montessori school has found a great way to use odd boots and make the place inviting too.

New radio - pass

After oscillating between several new radios, I have decided to purchase none at this time. It seems my trusty FT817ND does all I need, so I will not invest in a new radio at the moment. If I really can't decide and I am content with what I have, why bother?

10m FT8 RX

As is my usual pattern, I am on 10m FT8 RX for the day. If I get any spots, I shall be pleased!

UPDATE 1548z: Just LA3VEA (1127km) spotted so far today.

472kHz WSPR overnight

Last night, a total of 11 stations spotted my 10mW ERP with best DX being PA0O (440km).  I spotted 13 stations with best DX EA7HPM (1726km).
Stations that spotted me overnight

Stations I spotted overnight

Stroke update - NOT amateur radio

If this is of no interest please feel free to ignore it and look at another post. 

These days (5.5 years after my 2013 stroke) it is hard to tell what is old age and what are the after-effects of the stroke. When on my feet, I feel giddy all the time. I think this is worse than it was. My voice is poor. I find driving stressful. These feel like stroke after-effects.

Life is about making the best of "us" as we are. My main issue is most people assume I am "normal". Indeed I look fine. This is the trouble with hidden disabilities: people simply do not understand.

This is why I use digital modes like WSPR and FT8 a lot: my voice is not needed and I can be "normal". Sadly, my experiments away from home are all but impossible. I get exhausted quite easily with almost any physical or mental activity: after about 25 minutes I am exhausted. By exhausted I really mean exhausted, not just tired. After a rest I am fine again. Thankfully, time on the PC does not wear me out.

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

4m transverter

Some years ago at the old QTH (2012?)  I designed and built this transverter for 4m (70MHz). As I recall I erected a wire dipole for the band just before a contest and worked a few stations on CW.

At the present QTH, I have never been on 4m.

Many years ago (1968?) I recall working ZB2VHF via Es one summer from university with 4W of AM on 70.26MHz. I can't recall the 4m antenna we used, but it was at best a small yagi.

As I recall, this QRP transverter put out 1-2W on the band, but could probably produce a bit more with some optimisation.

These days there are quite a number of countries on the band. This was not the case back in the 1960s when it was mainly a UK allocation and only 70.2-70.4MHz. Maybe I should give the band another go? As I recall it is quite an effective Es band in the Es season, and with a few watts much of the UK can be covered.