31 Mar 2019

My VERY old website

Today I discovered that there was a snapshot of my 1997 website on the Wayback Machine. This was almost 22 years ago! In those days we used dial up modems and I seem to recall that my very first CompuServe website (1994 I think - must see if there is a copy of this too!) used a 2.4k modem and involved a long distance phone call to connect. We have come a long way.

If you want a look, the old Demon website is at:

Spring hope - NOT amateur radio

Both our children and grandchildren have collected conkers from these old trees in our churchyard. No doubt children from countless generations have done the same. The trees were planted to celebrate the Battle of Waterloo (1815). Spring has sprung.

Furthermost east on Oscar 100

HS0AJ (Thailand) was just received via the web SDR on SSB via Oscar 100, the geosynchronous satellite. This is the furthermost east I have copied so far via this satellite. Activity on SSB seems to be gradually increasing as more stations assemble gear. He was using 2W, but I do not know the dish size. He must be on the easternmost coverage area.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

10m Es already?

10m Es can occur at any time of the year, but it tends to peak May, June, July and August here. About 30 minutes ago I QSYed to 10m FT8 and was surprised to spot EA3HDZ (1213km) as well as a couple of Gs. My own CQ (2.5W) was spotted by no-one.

I am wondering if this is Es and whether with FT8 brief patches of Es (maybe very short-lived) are spotted earlier in the season? The main bulk of long-lived Es openings don't usually start here until late April.

UPDATE 1134z: 5 stations spotted so far today on 10m FT8 RX. 4 are Gs plus the EA3.

UPDATE 1319z: Now 8 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX with F6DAY (788km) spotted around 1100z.

I keep forgetting about BST! An hour has to be taken off local time now to get GMT.

UPDATE 1538z: Now 9 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today. All but 2 are Gs.

UPDATE 2000z: Still 9 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today. I shall be staying on 10m FT8 RX overnight, although it is unlikely I shall spot any now until tomorrow morning.

Sunspots - Sunday March 31st 2019

Solar flux is 69 and the sunspot number zero. A=4 and K=0. Still looks like we are scooting along the bottom of the solar minimum.

472kHz WSPR overnight

Things are definitely going "off the boil" on 472kHz WSPR. Yet again, I copied fewer stations than earlier in the "season". This may be my last outing on 472kHz until the autumn.

Returning summer migrants - NOT amateur radio

It is usually well into April before the common summer migrants here return from Africa. The earliest I have ever seen a swallow here is April 7th, although they are often seen in Devon much earlier. By the end of April they are ubiquitous. I am already scanning the skies!

QRPclub newsletter

The latest PDF version of Vestnik is now available.

See http://club72.su/vestnik/qv20.pdf

30 Mar 2019

472kHz WSPR (10mW ERP)

A few minutes ago I QSYed from 10m FT8 RX to 630m WSPR (10mW ERP TX 20%, 80% RX) using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. It usually take about 20 minutes for the transverter crystal to settle on TX. Until this happens I usually get drift. Surprisingly, G8LCO (58km) has already spotted me a couple of times, albeit with drift - this drift should disappear before 1800z.

UPDATE 1750z: The transverter crystal has settled and drift on TX is now zero. M0FMT (51km) now copied on RX.

Sunspot minimum

Although the sun has been spotless of late, there are tentative signs that we may be climbing up from the sunspot minimum. OK, it is hard to tell and many months will have to pass before we can be sure. The last time I looked one forecast had the solar minimum as 2022 or 2023 whereas another said we had already had the sunspot minimum! As said many times, this is a bit like UK weather: sometimes you can be very wrong. 😕

Blackmail - NOT amateur radio

Despite have lost the vote no less than 3 times already, the UK Prime Minister is reported to be wanting a 4th go to get her "divorce bill" to leave the EU approved by the MPs in the House of Commons. Whatever your views, you have to admire her tenacity!

Personally, I think this is blackmail - she is pandering to MPs fears of no-BREXIT or a long delay. She also realises a General Election is unlikely to win her many friends. It is clear her deal is widely disliked.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-47756122

Garden bird nests - NOT amateur radio

For certain a pigeon is nest building in the ivy in a tree overhanging our garden. Yesterday there was a robin exploring a nest box (used by robins 2 summers ago) and a blue tit exploring another nest box. There are probably other nests I am unaware of too. It is that time of the year when things come alive again.

Wasps - NOT amateur radio

In the last week, I have seen 2 wasps in the shack. I guess these climb in via my cable hole in the wall. I assume these are queens trying to find a place to nest. This is the first time I have seen them in the shack.

Years ago I remembered my dad being stung by a wasp. This would be in the 1960s. He was sunbathing in the garden when a wasp landed on his stomach. He sat up, trapping the wasp, that promptly stung him!

10m FT8

About 10 minutes ago I QSYed to 10m FT8. At first I called CQ (2.5W) and got no spots, but now I am RX only (again, no spots).

ICOM IC9700 arrivals

MLS are expecting deliveries of this 2m, 70cm and 23cm SDR transceiver very soon now. I expect the same will be true of other suppliers. It is very similar to the IC7300.

2m FT8 RX

Since I turned on 2m FT8 RX late yesterday, no less than 65 stations in 7 countries spotted (see photo). It never fails. Don't forget this is just with a big-wheel omni - no beams!
2m FT8 RX since late yesterday here
UPDATE 1311z: Now 81 stations in 10 countries spotted here on 2m FT8 in the last day. Omni antenna still. Best DX is DF6PW (673km).

Sunspots - Saturday March 30th 2019

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

29 Mar 2019

2m FT8

For about an hour I have been in 2m FT8. After first calling CQ (2.5W) 6 spots with best DX GI6ATZ (478km). Yet again my QRP was spotted in Northern Ireland and Cornwall. On RX the best DX is DF6PW (673km). 2m FT8 is amazing.

UPDATE 1950z: 23 stations in 5 countries so far this evening on 2m FT8 RX.

Norwich - NOT amateur radio

Today we went by car to Ely and then by train to Norwich. Norwich is a fine city with a great Norman cathedral and a good market. It is place we like a lot.

OFCOM and gender pay gap

OFCOM has published details of its survey of the gender pay gap.

See https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/what-is-ofcom/corporate-responsibility/diversity-and-equality . It is narrowing, but still there.

472kHz WSPR

Last night, I was again on 472kHz WSPR (10mW ERP). I think the season is drawing to a close. In the end I spotted 6 stations and 6 stations spotted me.
472kHz WSPR overnight

10m FT8 RX

Despite the poor solar numbers, I am on 10m FT8 RX after a brief CQ call (no spots).

UPDATE 1740z: Just a couple of G spots today on 10m FT8. Dire!

Sunspots - Friday March 29th 2019

Solar flux is a poor 67 and the sunspot number 0. A=11 and K=2.

28 Mar 2019

472kHz WSPR (10mW ERP)

With nothing at all on FT8, I have QSYed to 472kHz WSPR (10mW ERP). G8LCO (58km) has already spotted me.

UPDATE 2300: 4 spots so far of me with best DX PA0O (440km). Interesting again that more stations are copying me that I am copying others. This was the same the last time I was on 472kHz WSPR. It suggests many are leaving the band now that we are in spring. Most DX possible has already be worked, so people are turning to new challenges perhaps?
Stations that have spotted my 10mW ERP 
so far this evening on 472kHz WSPR

472kHz FT8 (not WSPR)

As an experiment, I am on 472kHz FT8 (10mW ERP from the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground). If I spot anyone at all I shall be amazed and if I have a QSO I shall be doubly amazed!

UPDATE 1940z: No 472kHz FT8 spots at all. Assuming nothing changes, I shall move to WSPR at 2000z.

Mother's Day - NOT amateur radio

It seems that our local Waitrose is gearing up for Mother's Day on Sunday. I guess (being a cynic) they see a quick profit.

Typical Oscar 100 RX

This picture appeared today. It shows a typical Oscar 100 (geosynchronous) satellite RX. At some point I may have a go. It seems to be working well. I guess the trick is to dual feed the dish so both the 2.4GHz uplink and the 10GHz downlink share the same dish.

Rallies this Sunday in the UK


Premises of the North Bristol ARC, SHE7 building, Braemar Crescent, Filton, Bristol BS7 0TD. Doors open from 10am to 4pm. A full day of talks & demonstrations with a test bench available for visitors projects. Full details of the programme will be published on the BATC Forum before the event; https://forum.batc.org.uk Further information from Shaun G8VPG, tel.01225 873 098, g8vpg@aol.com.


Pencoed Rugby Club The Verlands Felindre Road Pencoed CF35 5PB. Doors open 9.30am, stall holders have admittance from 8am. Refreshments available on site. Details from Madeline Roberts on 0773 837 5775.

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

Other sites maintained

My three main blogs currently are:

http://g3xbm-qrp.blogspot.co.uk/ Amateur radio mainly.
http://qss2.blogspot.co.uk/ Almost anything!
http://eachurches.blogspot.co.uk/ East Anglian churches visited. I am afraid this latter blog has not been updated for some time.

I also run my wife's choral group website and the Sub 9kHz Amateur Radio website. These are linked on my main website www.g3xbm.co.uk


Twice I was a member of the International Short Wave League. Once in the 1960s and I rejoined many years later. I left again after several years as it no longer seemed to reflect my interests.

Back in the 1960s it was quite strong. In later years, it was much weaker and I had the feeling it was dying out. I see it is still around today. When I eventually left, having contributed many articles for the club journal "Monitor", not even an email to say, "sorry you are leaving". I guess this would have been about 2011, although I cannot remember.

If anyone knows how many members of the ISWL there are today, I'd love to know. It would not surprise me if there are less than 100 members left. When I left for the second time, I seem to recall there were about 300 members.

40m FT8 RX overnight

Overnight I remained on 40m FT8 RX, despite my very poor, low, antenna. At least this must give others hope! In all, 591 stations spotted on 40m FT8 RX in 5 continents. Best DX was PY2BL (9531km). Even in the last 30 minutes, I am still spotting North America on 40m FT8 RX.
40m FT8 RX spots in last day
UPDATE 1422z: I stayed on 40m FT8 RX today. 665 stations spotted on 40m FT8 RX since I switched to 40m yesterday. This seems to be the main DX band at this part of the solar cycle.

Sunspots - Thursday (yes it definitely is!) March 28th 2019

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 0. A=6 and K=3.

27 Mar 2019

40m FT8 RX

About an hour ago I QSYed to 40m FT8 RX. So far this evening 126 stations spotted on 40m. My antenna is very low and far from ideal for 40m.

UPDATE 2136z: South and North Americans now being spotted on 40m FT8 RX. Best DX is PY2BL (9531km).

UPDATE 2150z:  188 stations spotted this evening on 40m FT8 RX.
Stations spotted so far this 
evening on 40m FT8 RX.

20m FT8 RX

As 10m FT8 was so dire, I QSYed to 20m FT8 RX. So far, in a couple of hours 139 stations in 3 continents spotted.

UPDATE 1939z: 151 stations spotted so far.

10m FT8

Since 0745z, I have been on 10m FT8. Initially I called CQ (2.5W), but after a few minutes I have been 10m FT8 RX only. No spots of my CQ, but surprisingly a couple of stations spotted on RX with best DX F1SCR (435km).

UPDATE 1435z: Just 3 spots today (2 Gs and 1 F) so far.

UPDATE 1445z: As 10m is so poor here today on my setup, I have QSYed to 20m FT8. The antenna is even poorer on 20m, but at least there is some activity

2m FT8 RX

Until breakfast time, I stayed on 2m FT8 RX. In all, 36 stations spotted since early last evening. Some were probably aircraft reflections, but I suspect most were normal "flat band" tropo as I seem to be spotted by some DX stations whenever I call CQ, so this is very unlikely to be aircraft reflections, which would be strong and depend on when the aircraft is/are in the right spot.

Sunspots - Wednesday March 27th 2019

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

Sorry for the "senior moment " when I thought today was Thursday - now corrected!

26 Mar 2019

2m FT8

Since just before teatime I have been on 2m FT8. So far 17 stations in 3 countries have been spotted on 2m FT8 RX with best DX DK1VC (503km).

On TX (2.5W FT8 to the big-wheel omni) DK1VC (503km) was among the 19 stations that spotted my QRP 2m FT8 signal in 5 countries.
Stations that spotted my 2.5W 2m FT8 
to the omni antenna this evening so far.
2m FT8 never fails to amaze me.

Microwave Round Table

Many years ago I went along to the microwave round table at Martlesham, Suffolk. It must have been a very long time ago. I see that on the programme for this year are talks about gear for Oscar 100 and how to make a GNUradio based transceiver. My health prevents me going these days. It is too far to drive.

See http://mmrt.homedns.org/

Shed cleaning - NOT amateur radio

As it is spring, our son gave our garden shed a bit of a spring clean. He also trimmed a few overhanging branches. As you can see, he took everything out and washed the floor. It looks much better now. An added bonus is you can now see the floor! 😏

70cm activity contest results

Every month the RSGB organises an activity contest on 70cm on the second Tuesday of the month. Although not a great contester (my scores are always way down!) I usually operate with 5W SSB and my 2m omni antenna of about 30-60 minutes. Surprisingly, my position has improved, although unsurprisingly I am still in the bottom half of the AL (low power) section. As I said before, these contests are good in that activity is usually high. These are friendly contests and operators appreciate the QSOs. There is no compulsion to send in a score. Just enjoy the activity.

10m FT8

Well, no surprises so far here.

Although I have been on 10m FT8 since about 0955z, calling CQ (2.5W) initially, no spots at all so far given or received. If things are like yesterday, I may get a few G spots and not much, if anything, else.

At least I am on 10m FT8 RX, so if there are any decent openings, I have a chance. I know my antenna could be better. 10m often surprises me and others. We live in hope! 😊

UPDATE 1110z: No 10m FT8 spots as yet.

UPDATE 1545z: Just 2 10m FT8 spots today with best DX DO8WA (499km) at lunchtime. Pretty poor here.

Constitutional crisis - NOT amateur radio

One thing the whole of the UK can agree on is we are in a right mess. The UK Government seems to have made a right mess of negotiating BREXIT and the UK parliament has wrestled control of the process. The UK Prime Minister seems powerless now.  I think she will resign this week.

Although another referendum seems unlikely, it would no longer surprise me if a majority would now vote to stay in the EU.  The EU has many faults though.

As someone once said, if you were a turkey would you vote for Christmas?

160m FT8 RX overnight

Another good night with 19 North Americans and 1 Caribbean station spotted among the 448 stations spotted on 160m FT8 using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground in the last day. Best DX was K4MM (7029km) in Florida, USA.
Stations spotted here on 160m FT8 RX with the 
earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground in the last 24 hours

Sunspots - Tuesday March 26th 2019

Solar flux is 72 and the SSN 14. A=2 and K=2.

25 Mar 2019

160m FT8

As 10m was not doing much, on my set-up at least, I have now QSYed to 160m FT8. At first I briefly called CQ (2.5W to the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground), although I am now RX only. The CQ was spotted by M0RTP (116km).

UPDATE 1706z: No spots yet on 160m FT8 RX, although the sun is still well up.

UPDATE 1722z: Just a couple of Europeans spotted so far on 160m FT8 RX.

OFCOM annual plan

OFCOM has published it annual plan. Great. I am so excited. 😆

See https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/141914/statement-ofcom-annual-plan-2019-20.pdf  .

Misunderstanding - NOT amateur radio

In 2013, I suffered a brain bleed that has left me with hidden disabilities. On my feet I am permanently exhausted. My voice is poor. Doing anything physical or mental and I am exhausted after about 20-25 minutes.  I am convinced that no-one, really no-one, really understands how I feel inside.

Outwardly I look well. Many think I am fully recovered. It takes a lot of energy to look and behave "normally", so I have a great deal of sympathy with people who appear well, but are not.

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

Fewer shortwave broadcast stations

Today Southgate News reports on more shortwave broadcasters closing, this time in South Africa. I guess more broadcasters are turning to the internet as it is probably cheaper and more reliable.

I guess this means more shortwave spectrum for amateurs potentially, but the nature of the shortwave broadcast bands is changing. In 20 years a casual tune from 3-30MHz will sound quite different, assuming the manmade QRM is low enough!

It would not entirely surprise me if OFCOM released the entire shortwave spectrum at a limited power level on a non-interference basis.  This could happen within 5 years. Increasingly, people are deserting shortwaves as too unreliable, which suits amateurs perfectly. Maybe they will release spectrum on something like the FCC's Part 15 rules.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2019/march/bloemendal-shortwave-station-final-transmission.htm#.XJircfZ2u00  .

See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Title_47_CFR_Part_15   .

10m FT8

As of about 0950z I went on 10m FT8. As yet, no spots. I called CQ (2.5W) briefly, but no spots.

UPDATE 1020z: No spots so far today here on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1319z: Still no 10m FT8 spots today.

UPDATE 1558z: Just G0OYQ (177km) is the only 10m FT8 spot so far today.

UPDATE 1622z: G4YBI (83km) also spotted on 10m FT8. I shall soon be QSYing to 160m FT8 RX.

160m FT8 RX

Yet again, 160m FT8 was good. As reported yesterday a VK4 was spotted that I believe was genuine. 15 North Americans, 1 Caribbean and 1 South American were spotted overnight with a total of 449 stations.

At 160m, I think the earth-electrode "antenna" acts as a loop antenna in the ground, although the propagation is by normal means. At higher frequencies the loop get progressively less effective. At 160m I am surprised how well it works. It exceeds expectations.
Overnight on 160m FT8 RX

Lackford Lakes - NOT amateur radio

You'd probably class me as a fair weather bird watcher. Yesterday my wife and I went to Lackford Lakes, Suffolk, which is on the edge of the River Lark. I am sure that with patience a lot could be seen. Sadly, we are not patient. The best we saw were a couple of snipe. On the way home there were a couple of kites overhead.

Cycle 25 predictions

It is a brave person that predicts the size of the next solar cycle peak, when some are still predicting the next minimum in 2023!

Recent data may suggest we are already through the minimum, but this could just be a blip. A recent Nature article suggests a peak for Cycle 25 that is slightly bigger than the last peak. Who knows? As time goes by, no doubt the predictions will get better. After the next peak, they will be 100% accurate! 👍

Sunspots - Monday March 25th 2019

Solar flux is 75 and the SSN 22. A=7 and K=0.

24 Mar 2019

160m FT8 RX

As well loads of Europeans, VK4CMV (16366km) spotted on 160m FT8. At first I dismissed this as a pirate, but see he has been spotted by a couple of Australians and New Zealanders, so probably is genuine. If genuine, this is by far the furthermost I have ever spotted on 160m FT8 or indeed by any mode. The time, I think, looks right.

Swallows - NOT amateur radio

From my Facebook memories of 8 years ago, I see I saw a returning swallow in Devon on March 24th.. In some countries, these are known as barn swallows. I usually see the first over here in East Anglia from April 7th, although it is usually a few weeks later before they are commonly seen. Swifts are rare here before the end of April.

10m FT8

At about 0915z, I went QRT on 630m WSPR and QSYed to 10m FT8 RX. Later in the day I may try a few CQ calls.

If it is like yesterday, I am unlikely to spot much. Anyway I am on 10m FT8 RX should you want to try to be spotted. It might be interesting to find out how successful some Gs are. Can I spot you?

UPDATE 1320z: Quite a surprise! Already 8 stations spotted in 5 countries. Are we seeing some signs of Es?

UPDATE 1744z: 12 stations in 7 countries spotted so far today on 10m FT8 RX. All Europeans, but better than of late. Soon be time to QSY. Probably to 160m FT8 RX.

472kHz WSPR overnight

For the first time this "season" I was spotted by more stations than stations that I managed to spot. Usually I spot more than spot me. My best spot was by Finbar EI0CF (602km).
472kHz WSPR overnight

People's vote march - NOT amateur radio

Although we may argue about just how many attended the London march yesterday, there were a lot. In the end, I suspect the UK parliament may take over BREXIT and a compromise, acceptable to a majority, will be worked out. We are in odd times. I hope that rifts can be mended.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-47678763 .

Meaningful vote (take 3) - NOT amateur radio

It is rumoured that the UK Prime Minister, Mrs May, will try for a 3rd time, to get her BREXIT deal approved by the UK parliament.

Most in the UK are sick to death of her "flogging a dead horse".  In the end people will lose faith in her and tell her to listen rather than continue with a deal that will only get approved if people see no other alternative.  Personally, I think she will resign within 14 days.

In recent days she has managed to alienate people who voted "leave" and "remain" in the 2016 referendum. If there was a real leader in the wings I'd say go, but we seem bereft of decent leaders.

Ducks - NOT amateur radio

On a walk around the village yesterday we spotted these 2 ducks sleeping next to a car. I suspect they were just "chilling out" whilst they waited to be fed in someone's garden. Pretty sure these are semi-domesticated mallards. They certainly are a long way from wild mallards!

Sunspots - Sunday March 24th 2019

Solar flux is 79 today and the sunspot number 27. A=1 and K=0.


Yesterday I received my Spring 2019 copy of SPRAT, the excellent GQRP quarterly magazine.

On the cover was a picture of G3RJV with fellow QRPers G3MFJ and G3VTT. This was taken in a care home and George G3RJV looked frail and thin, a shadow of his old self. The magazine was obviously prepared before he died.

G3RJV was an inspiration to me and many others. RIP George. We shall miss you, but carry on with QRP. You were a beacon to many of us.

23 Mar 2019

472kHz WSPR

A few minutes ago I QSYed to 472kHz WSPR (10mW ERP, 20% TX, 80% RX). Even though the transverter crystal is still settling, I have already received a spot from G8LCO (58km).

Nest building time - NOT amateur radio

We get lots of pigeons these days. Earlier, I noticed a pair busy building a nest in our garden. This one is gathering twigs.

10m FT8 RX

Since 0837z, I have been on 10m FT8 RX.  No spots yet at 0941z.

UPDATE 1100z: Still no 10m spots today.

UPDATE 1403z: Just a couple of G spots so far today on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1618z: A disappointing day here so far with just 3 G spots all day. No DX and not even a European spotted. I must erect a better 10m antenna before the Es season, although the antenna I have would probably be fine for Es. If the minimum is really ending 10m could be quite a bit better by next spring.

Dad's benches - NOT amateur radio

My father died in 1987.
He retired from his job on the local water board in South Devon at 60 and then led a team of young people working for the National Trust mending the coastal footpaths. He loved his work and when he died the National Trust erected a couple of benches with plaques in his honour.

In WW2 he was a flight engineer in a Pathfinder squadron. Later I realised, too late, just how brave he must have been. He hated the war and the thought of killing innocent people. He rarely wanted to speak of those dark days. My biggest regret now is not being able to speak with him about how he felt.

Overnight on 160m FT8 RX

In a word "good".

21 North Americans spotted and 2 South Americans with HK3PJ (8482km) as best DX. In all, 515 stations spotted here on the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground in the last day on 160m FT8.
160m FT8 RX spots here in the last 24 hours

Sunspots - Saturday March 23rd 2019

Solar flux is 80, which is the highest it has been for ages and the SSN 27. A=1 and K=0

22 Mar 2019

160m FT8 RX

For about 20 minutes I have been on 160m FT8 RX. Already, 90 stations spotted with best DX UB9XT (3147km).

UPDATE 2006z: Now 175 stations spotted with best DX 4F6FO (3964km).

UPDATE 2234z: Now 324 stations spotted this evening on 160m FT8 RX with the best DX spotted being R0SR (6425km) in Asiatic Russia.
160m FT8 RX this evening

BREXIT blues - NOT amateur radio

If you live in the UK I expect, like me, you are sick and tired of BREXIT and the apparent inability of our elected MPs to agree on anything. A petition on the UK Government website calling for Article 50 to be scrapped is reported to have over 3 million signatures already. Experts think it very unlikely this is due to bots. Most votes are genuine.

No, most people in the UK and EU are appalled by our apparent lack of ability to agree on anything. There is no doubt that leaving the EU has terminally affected UK politics. A radical re-alignment of UK political parties seems highly likely in the next 10-20 years. I have little doubt that the EU will miss us, assuming we do leave.

BREXIT is going to have far reaching consequences. In the end, I am sure the UK will be fine, whether inside or outside the EU, but these next few years could be difficult as things change.

Cambridge Market - NOT amateur radio

These flowers were on sale in Cambridge Market on Wednesday. Next door was a stall selling sweets.

10m FT8

With the better solar numbers today, just maybe we'll see more promising conditions on 10m, maybe. At about 0945z, I QSYed to 10m FT8 RX. After 30 minutes, no spots.

UPDATE 1320z: Just local G4AWP (19km) spotted on 10m FT8 so far today.

UPDATE 1405z: So far today just a couple of local  UK stations G4AWP and M0PWL (25km) spotted. No DX, not even a European! A brief CQ (2.5W) a short while ago resulted in no spots.

UPDATE  1430z: IZ4GWE (1224km) spotted.

UPDATE 1511z: G0OYQ (177km) now spotted.
UPDATE 1626z: A total of 5 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX. 4 were English with 1 Italian.

472kHz WSPR overnight

Poor to average.

In all, I spotted just 8 stations and 6 stations spotted my 10mW ERP. It is going "off the boil".
472kHz WSPR overnight here

Sunspots - Friday March 22nd 2019

Are we through the minimum? It looks like it!

Solar flux is 79 and the sunspot number 49 (yes 49!!!). A=2 and K=0. These are the best figures for a very long time!

Let the big climb begin. Please.

21 Mar 2019

472kHz WSPR

Since just after 1900z I have been on 472kHz WSPR with my usual 10mW ERP (20% TX, 80% RX) from the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. So far 3 stations have spotted me with best spot being by PA0O (440km). So far, not a bad evening.

10m FT8

Although I called CQ (2.5W) late this morning, I got no 10m FT8 TX reports. On 10m FT8 RX, just one G spot. So far, dire!

160m FT8 RX overnight

160m FT8 RX was monitored overnight. It was a good night.  In all, 22 North Americans and 1 Caribbean station were copied with best DX spotted being KI5BLU (7636km).
160m FT8 RX overnight

Sunspots - Thursday March 21st 2019

Solar flux is 73 and the sunspot number 28. A=5 and K=1. This is the best solar flux and SSN for some time. Fingers crossed!


Sunday 24 MARCH : HAMZILLA RADIO FEST AND ELECTRONICS FAIR - hosted by Dover Amateur Radio Club

Discovery Science Park, Gateway House, Ramsgate Road, Sandwich, Kent, CT13 9FF. Open 10am to 4pm. Online ticket entrance £3.00; Limited early bird tickets £5.00. Tables £10.00. Online purchase/bookings now available. Attractions: Bring-and-Buy Sale, Catering, Lectures/Seminars, RSGB Bookstall, Special Interest Groups, Trade Stands, Guest speakers, Digital village, Demos. Icom, SDRPlay and many more exhibitors. RSGB examinations will be held at event - visit website for more details, or email: club@darc.online. Disabled Facilities. 1000s free parking. Contact Aaron Coote, M0IER on 0771 465 4267, M0IERDX@gmail.com www.hamzilla.uk.


Callington Town Hall, Callington, Cornwall PL17 7BD. Doors open 10am - 1pm and admittance is £2. There will be a Bring & Buy (10% commission) and trade stands. Catering available on site. Ample free parking in the adjacent carpark. Rally organised jointly by the Devon & Cornwall Repeater Group and Callington Amateur Radio Society (CARS). More information and bookings from Roger 2E0RPH on 07854 088882 or email 2e0rph@gmail.com.


Bushmills Community Centre, 14 Dunluce Road, Bushmills, Co. Antrim BT57 8QG. Doors open from 11am. Admittance is £3. More details from stephen769@talktalk.net.

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

20 Mar 2019

160m FT8 RX

For the last few hours I have, again, been on 160m FT8 RX.  Yet again loads of Europeans (150 so far this evening) with best DX RW4PU (3362km).
Stations spotted this evening, so far, on 160m FT8 RX.
UPDATE 2222z: Bedtime!  So far this evening 192 stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. Best DX spot on 160m FT8 RX is RV0AR (5577km) in Asiatic Russia.  Nothing yet from North America.

Oscar 100 (geosynchronous satellite) commercial gear

At the moment, most users of this successful geosynchronous satellite transponder are using semi homebrew kit. This often consists of a PLL locked LNB, an ex satellite TV dish and an SDR at the IF, together with an upconverter, which is often based on 2.4GHz wi-fi parts and amplifiers.

As news of its successful deployment spreads, it is likely that more dedicated commercial gear will become available. I wonder who will be first to offer a complete "solution in a box"? I guess someone will combine an upconverter at the right SSB power with a phase locked LNB down-converting to 432MHz. After all, this is far cheaper than an HF beam and tower. With an expected lifetime of 15 years or more, this will appeal to many DXers.

Flowers on the approach to Kings - NOT amateur radio

At this time of year the flowers on the Backs (of colleges) in Cambridge, UK look their best. The ones in the photo are on the approach to Kings.

BREXIT - NOT amateur radio

Well, the rest of the world must be looking at the UK in utter disbelief thinking how can they make such a mess of leaving the EU. Have they completely lost it?

Like many in the UK, I am rapidly losing the will to live over BREXIT. On one thing we all agree: this is NOT how you do things. Mrs May, the UK Prime Minister, has handled this badly.

Sticking with 2m FT8

Today, I have decided to stick with 2m FT8 RX. So far today, 18 stations in 6 countries already spotted in just the last 3 hours! There is no doubt that FT8 has completely transformed 2m for me: unheard of DX is always within range. When I call CQ (2.5W to the big-wheel omni antenna) I always seem to be spotted at great range. Propagation is often ordinary "flat band"  tropo, with some aircraft reflections at times. I am pretty convinced much is tropo and not aircraft reflections as every time I call CQ with real QRP I get spotted in Cornwall or Northern Ireland.

UPDATE 1510z: 21 stations in 7 countries spotted on 2m FT8 RX so far today with the best DX being DK1FG (815km).

UPDATE 1632z: 45 stations in 7 countries spotted so far today on 2m FT8 RX.
Stations spotted here in last 12 hours on 
2m FT8 RX with the big-wheel omni antenna.

Sunspots - Wedesday March 20th 2019

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 13. A=3 and K=1.

19 Mar 2019

2m FT8

This mode never fails to amaze me.

With 2.5W to the big-wheel omni I get spotted at distances I could only dream about on SSB. Not only that, but my poor voice can have a rest. OK, QSOs tend to be basic exchanges and FT8 is not a mode for long chats. Nonetheless, for a QRP station like mine, it is a game changer.

A brief CQ (2.5W to the omni) earlier was spotted by 9 stations with best DX a spot by GI6ATZ (478km). Already a station in Germany has been spotted on 2m FT8 RX. The Hepburn tropo forecast seems to indicate that conditions are flat.
Stations that spotted my 2.5W 2m FT8 CQ just now.
UPDATE 2255z: Bedtime!  In all, 23 stations in 6 countries spotted on 2m FT8 RX this evening.
Stations spotted this evening on 2m FT8 RX.

BREXIT - NOT amateur radio

We are meant to be leaving the EU next week. Yet UK politicians are behaving like a bunch of school children squabbling over a piece of chocolate. Whatever your views we have made a right mess of leaving. No wonder the EU officials are frustrated.

What I fail to understand (2 years after the referendum) is why we did not agree before we triggered Article 50 what we could all agree on! The UK Prime Minister, Mrs May, seems to be very stubborn. Surely she must realise that her deal will only get approved as people are totally fed up and see us delaying BREXIT for possibly years.

The last straw will be a bribe for the DUP (more money for Ulster?) if they support her deal. Sorry, but the last 2 years has destroyed my faith in our representatives in the UK parliament. They are all, it would appear, like pigs in a trough. Whatever happened to consensus?  Bring back the stocks and let us throw rotten tomatoes at them.

Gearbest data breach?

An old work colleague has reported that users of Gearbest are at risk of a data breach. As far as I know, I used PayPal. Even so, they have my other details on file.

See https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/03/18/gearbest_data_breach_1_5m_customers_affected/

Alboran Island - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday I mentioned the Alboran Sea. This was completely unknown to me, so today I went looking more closely at this area. It turns out the Soviets tried to occupy Alboran Island back in the 1960s prompting the Spanish to station a garrison there.  There is a page about this small, remote islet.

See http://www.evs-islands.com/2008/02/isla-alboran-sp-isolated-mediterranean.html  .

10m FT8

For a couple of hours I have been calling CQ on 10m FT8 (2.5W). Unfortunately not a single report! On 10m FT8 RX 2 stations spotted so far. One was a G and one an MU. No great DX. These could have been tropo or aircraft reflections. There was another G spotted, which did not get uploaded to PSKreporter.

UPDATE 1638z: Still just 3 stations in 3 countries spotted today on 10m FT8 RX. Judging by the strength of PD1DL (328km), I suspect this was aircraft reflection.

UPDATE 1926z: I eventually went QRT on 10m at about 1900z. When I went QRT 5 stations had been spotted here.

Red Legged Partridge - NOT amateur radio

We often see these around and there were 2 in our back garden earlier. You cannot deny that these are good looking birds.

472kHz WSPR overnight

472kHz WSPR overnight
This was probably the worst night this season with no new spots through the night that I had not already spotted in the evening. Likewise all the spots of my 10mW ERP were received before bedtime.

2m activity contest (UKAC) March 2019

The results of the March 2m activity contest organised by the RSGB have been published. I entered the Low Power section (AL) and my position has risen. Contests are not my thing, and I run very low power and omni antennas. Nonetheless, this is a very friendly affair and there is no compulsion to submit a score. Because of my poor voice I rarely stop on very long.

See https://www.rsgbcc.org/cgi-bin/readcal.pl

Oscar 100 - still not very busy

OK, it is still early days, but I am surprised that Oscar 100, the geosynchronous amateur satellite, is still not busy. I know some are still getting their gear set up, but by now I was expecting dozens of stations to be fighting for space. A casual listen on Monday afternoon and there were maybe 5 QSOs on SSB at most. Like many, I listen on the Goonhilly web SDR.

The advantages over other amateur satellites are the fixed dishes and wide coverage. It seems to work really well. And, of course, the DX is available day and night and totally independent of the solar cycle. Once aligned on the satellite it just works.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

Human consciousness - NOT amateur radio

This is a big question. As far as I know, science has not yet answered it.

One of the greatest mysteries in the world is human consciousness. What makes us sentient beings? What is it that makes us able to contemplate our very existence? Can other animals, albeit differently, be sentient beings? What happens when we die and have no body?

As I have said many times before, it is a brave person that claims to have answers. We live in a universe where we are aware of a few dimensions. There may be other dimensions and indeed other universes that our small brains are simply incapable of understanding. When we die we may simply cease to exist and be as we were for ever before. Perhaps something of us survives death in some form. Maybe time itself is an illusion. Maybe space is an illusion.

One day science may be able to answer some of these questions, which all religions have tried to answer. For now, I remain puzzled.