31 May 2019

472kHz WSPR

Although the "season" is really well over, I decided to give 472kHz WSPR (10mW ERP, 20% TX) with the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground a go overnight. So far only G1GKN (99km) has been spotted.


Although release candidate versions of WSJT-X have been released including FT4, I think I shall now wait for the fully released version before installing. FT4 sounds like a useful Es mode with its shorter periods. It is not quite as sensitive, but with Es signals are often strong even with QRP.

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

8m Es QSOs

Southgate News relays EI7BL's blog about some exiting news of cross band Es QSOs on the new (in EI) 8m band.

See https://ei7gl.blogspot.com/2019/05/first-sporadic-e-crossband-contacts.html

Colourful Cambridge - NOT amateur radio

Well, the centre of Cambridge is certainly entertaining! As well as the float in the photo we had buskers singing classical opera, which was very good (people applauded).

The downside is there are more homeless people now in the city. Some are definitely genuine (often with mental health issues) and some see Cambridge as a good hunting ground with plenty of visitors. These days we prefer to give directly to a homeless charity so we know the money will not be squandered on drugs.

No early 6m Es today

So far on 6m FT8 RX just a single station spotted HB9SJE (795km). Little sign yet of Es on the band.

UPDATE  1819z: Just 3 stations spotted all day today on 6m FT8 RX. Pathetic!

Sunspots - Friday May 31st 2019

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN 0. A=8 and K=2.

30 May 2019

Grandchildren - NOT amateur radio

Over the half-term holiday we have seen all 4 of our young grandchildren.

Today, our "London" grandchildren arrived for a few days. The photo shows them with my wife in our garden room.

Mess, but clean mess  😊

Currency oscillations - NOT amateur radio

At the moment the UK pound is up and down against major currencies. With BREXIT uncertainties and the likelihood of a new Prime Minister in the next month or so, this is hardly surprising. I guess the fact the UK pound has not tumbled dramatically is good news.

The UK must be the laughing stock of the world! How can we be so divided? I am struggling to see how rifts created in the last few years will be healed. Healed they must be.



Holbeach Community Sports Academy, Pennyhill Lane, Holbeach PE12 7PR. Doors open at 9.30am and admittance is £3. The venue offers easy access from the A17, large area for boot traders and modern hall for indoor traders. There will be a Car Boot Sale, RSGB Book Stall, Special Interest Groups and trade stands. Catering is available on site and there will be a prize draw/raffle. Contact Graham Boor, G8NWC, 07754 619 701, rallysecretary@sdars.org.uk.

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

FT991A fan

Nobody gave me the answer I needed! Is the FT991A fan temperature controlled? Does it only come on when the rig gets hot? I think the IC7300 fan is always on when on TX. If I was to buy an FT991A it would mostly be used at QRP powers.

Julian G4ILO

Although a SK for several years now, I still get people coming to this blog via Julian's site. This is a fitting tribute to his memory. Although we never met "on the air", I considered him a good friend. Like many, I followed his struggle to the end. RIP. You are not forgotten.

6m Es

As is usual at this time of year, I am on 6m FT8 RX. So far today, 71 stations in 10 countries spotted, mostly by Es and all European.

UPDATE 1350z: Now 230 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX today with best DX TA8A (3331km).

UPDATE  1520z: Now 232 stations spotted on 6m FT8 today in 22 countries. Plenty of 6m Es!

UPDATE 2034z: Now 244 stations spotted. Unless things suddenly change I suspect this is it for today.

First car - NOT amateur radio

We bought our first car in 1971. It was sold for scrap for £40 in 1978 as I recall. It was a Morris 1000. No radio, no aircon, very basic back then! We were quite sad when it went. It was bought by a local agricultural mechanic who did it up and had 2 more years on the road. The photo shows the day we sold it.

Sunspots - Thursday May 30th 2019

Solar flux is 66 today and the SSN 0. A=5 and K=1.

BREXIT - NOT amateur radio

My dad who died in 1987 had a phrase, "they couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery". In his own colourful language, I think this sums up our attempts to reach a BREXIT deal before we leave the EU. Certainly the Conservative ruling party under Theresa May has made a total disaster of this. I'd like to think the main opposition Labour party would have done better, but somehow I doubt this.

We are now in a leadership contest to elect a new Conservative leader and Prime Minister. Whatever happens next, the UK remains deeply divided both in the country and in parliament.

I wish we had some answers. If anything I suspect we will be even worse after a new leader is elected. If we have a public referendum the outcome is likely to be far from clear cut. What then?

29 May 2019

That new radio

Steve G1KQH has been encouraging me to buy a new radio. Any new radio would have to include 160m, 10m and 6m. Bands like 2m and 70cm would be useful. If the radio has a fan, it would have to be quiet.

I was holding back just in case Yaesu announced a real replacement to the FT817 at Dayton.  Neither Yaesu nor ICOM made any great announcements of new products of interest to QRPers like me sadly.

At the moment I am warming to the FT991A. The IC7300 is probably the better radio, and is SDR based, but I gather the fan is always on and some can be noisy. Yes there is a mod, but I am in danger of invalidating any warranty. The rig would be used at 10W most of the time, so a fan that comes on only when the PA is warm would be good. At the moment, there is a 3 year warranty with Yaesu and cash back on some models. Having had many Yaesu rigs over the years, I am pretty happy with this supplier. Knowing me, this rig would have to last for years!

If anyone has any strong opinions against the FT991A I'd like to hear them. As my voice is not too good these days, FT8 and WSPR would probably be the main modes used.

Specific questions about the FT991A. If the answer is in the manual, I cannot find it! Does the fan come on only when the radio is hot? If I run mainly QRP will I hear the fan?

USAF strength - NOT amateur radio

We live close to Lakenheath and Mildenhall airbases. I am not sure what was going on, but a few moments ago there was a big plane being escorted by smaller planes and helicopters. They made quite a noise as they went overhead, so much so that I had to look. I thought Trump was coming to the UK later. Perhaps this was a dress rehearsal.

Waitrose - NOT amateur radio

For some reason, my wife likes shopping at Waitrose, which is a food chain and part of John Lewis and Partners. I have several issues with Waitrose. Firstly I find this chain expensive. Secondly, I think they need to do more work to use recyclable or compostable packaging. Some packets can be recycled and some cannot. As a major UK food retailer, I think they should tell their suppliers or the business will go elsewhere. They have the power and they should use it!

Today when we went shopping there it was very quiet. The low cost free range eggs were, conveniently, out of stock.  Instead if you wanted free range eggs you had to pay far more. I expect the free coffee and paper will soon, quietly, go.

If you ask me I think they are in deep trouble. It would not surprise me if lots of stores were forced to close or John Lewis as a whole goes under. I may be wrong but in Newmarket, where we go, there is competition coming soon from a low cost supplier and that will really hit them.

The next few years will be make or break. At the moment, they depend on customer loyalty, but this is wearing thin. Old ladies die and young people want better value, so they shop around or buy online.

More from Chelsea Flower Show - NOT amateur radio

It seems hard to believe we went to the Chelsea Flower Show a whole week ago. This is the most important flower show in the UK. Although we went on an RHS members' day, it was very busy.

As I mentioned before (at least I think I did!) we had our tickets as a present for our 70th birthdays late last year.

Irish 8m band activity

Although there are a very few beacons operational around 40MHz, very few countries have an amateur band at 8m. I have lobbied the RSGB for a small slot to be negotiated, although, not too surprisingly, nothing has come of this. Being mid way between 10m and 6m it is an ideal band of Es and MS experiments. Even 100kHz and 10W would be useful to advance radio science. OFCOM has managed to find 2MHz for DATV work and I cannot believe they cannot allocate a small slot for serious work around 40MHz! No standard comercial gear is available for this band, so it would only attract serious experimenters, not  "black box" operators. So, the number of people using such a band in the UK would be small.

I quite like the Irish model of allocating wide chunks of under-used spectrum to amateurs. If they were not pen pushers it would be good for OFCOM to allow use of any spectrum on a strictly "non-interference" basis, even if the power was strictly limited. Sadly, I cannot see this happening. It needs people policing this and this costs money rather than generates money! Also, you have to understand RF.  I may be forgiven for thinking few now have this skill.

Meanwhile in Eire, one of the few countries to allocate spectrum at 40MHz to amateurs, work and QSOs continue.

See https://ei7gl.blogspot.com/2019/05/inter-ei-activity-begins-on-40-mhz.html

Garden of England - NOT amateur radio

Over the weekend we spent a few days with our "Kent" family and grandkids. We saw some places we'd not been to before with our son. The collage shows a typical Kent oast house (for drying hops) as well as several views of our younger grandson. Kent is known as "the garden of England".

6m FT8 RX in the last day

Stations spotted here since mid-afternoon 
yesterday on 6m FT8 RX on the FT817 and V2000 vertical
Since we got home yesterday afternoon, 441 stations (a huge number) have been spotted on 6m FT8 RX. Even this morning there is early Es.

Last evening, I copied my first transatlantic station this season J69DS (6840km) on St Lucia in the Caribbean. My antenna is still the V2000 vertical omni.

UPDATE 1445z: 60 stations in 10 countries so far spotted on 6m FT8 RX in the last 12 hours. Plenty of Es about on 6m.

UPDATE 1821z: Now 154 stations in 21 countries spotted on 6m FT8 RX in the last 12 hours. Will there be any Caribbean or North Americans later on 6m FT8 RX?

UPDATE 1922z: Much to my surprise a single 15 second 6m FT8 CQ was responded to by an Italian. A subsequent series of 2.5W CQs was copied by 26 stations!

UPDATE 2137z: So far 248 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX in the last 12 hours. No "real" DX. Mostly single hop Es.

Sunspots - Wednesday May 29th 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the sunspot number still 0. A=10 and K=2.

28 May 2019

Dayton roundup

There are probably several roundups of the recent Dayton Hamvention on YouTube of which this is just one. As an outsider who has never been, and never likely to go, this is useful.

Did someone say this mainly an old MAN's hobby? Watch the video!

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1pQ1H7YhNo

MLS cashback on Yaesu

Certainly MLS (and probably other dealers) are still offering cashback on certain Yaesu products. The next few weeks looks a good time to buy. Unless I am mistaken dealers are offering 3 years warranty on Yaesu.

Climbing the ruins - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday, we were with our son and family in Kent. They enjoyed climbing over the ruins of this old church at Reculver by the coast. In the photo you can just see our son trying to take a photo of his children.

6m FT8 - amazing

Although we have only been home for 30 minutes, my 6m FT8 2.5W to the omni vertical was spotted by 18 stations all over Europe and I have spotted 47 stations in 12 countries. Most of these were Es.

UPDATE 1514z: Now 108 stations spotted on 6m FT8 in the last hour or so with best DX EA8ACW (2988km).

UPDATE 1817z: 360 different stations so far spotted on 6m FT8 RX this afternoon with best DX spotted on 6m being OD5YA (3466km) in Lebanon.

Sunspots - Tuesday May 28th 2019

Solar flux is 66 today and the SSN 0. A=5 and K=1.

27 May 2019

Simple pleasures - NOT amateur radio

This morning we went to the Kent coast with 2 of our grandchildren enjoying simple pleasures such as hunting in rock pools.

IC7300 book

The RSGB bookshop is now stocking a new book about the IC7300. This is a popular radio with many.

European elections - NOT amateur radio

The results are out and as expected the Conservative party has done very badly with the Liberal Democrats coming second. This shows how divided the country is over BREXIT.

Sunspots - Monday May 27th 2019

Solar flux is 66 and the SSN 0.  A=5 and K=3.

26 May 2019

European elections - NOT amateur radio

Later today when every country has voted we may get the first results of the European elections. In the UK the main political parties are expected to do badly.

Meteor showers

Southgate News has details of an upcoming meteor shower. At peak times the ionised trails support brief VHF propagation. Random meteors support such propagation but openings are far less frequent.

Sunspots - Sunday May 26th 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the SSN 0. A=6 and K=1.

Solar cycle 25

At the moment experts seem to have differing views on the next cycle. Some people think we have passed solar minimum whilst others think we are still falling. At the moment it is hard to judge.

See https://www.weather.gov

25 May 2019

Early 6m Es again

When I looked earlier there was widespread Es on 6m at 0845z, which is early. I can't wait until the band really opens up to long distance E layer DX.

Most July JAs come through to western Europe on 6m. I have a theory this is due to mesospheric E layer ionisation due to noctilucent clouds that form at this time of the year.

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

Sunspots - Saturday May 25th 2019

Still rubbish!

Solar flux is just 66 and the sunspot number 0. A=5 and K=1.

24 May 2019

6m Es

At the moment I am on 6m FT8 RX and, even though it is very early (0830z), there is widespread Es. My best DX on 6m FT8 RX is TA9J (3463km) among the 95 stations already spotted. At the moment this looks like the best day this spring.

UPDATE 0953z: Now 176 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX with the best DX still the Turkish station.

UPDATE 1142z: Now 236 stations spotted with best DX EK7DX (3590km) in Armenia.

UPDATE 1702z:  Now 380 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX with best DX still the Armenian.

160m FT8 RX

Overnight, I was on 160m FT8 RX and was pleased to see one transatlantic station in the log along with hosts of Europeans.

Talk - NOT amateur radio

We are fortunate to live right next door to a 200 year old windmill and local museum, which is one of the best in the UK.

Every spring and autumn they hold talks of local interest. The photo shows the presenter in free flow. It was a good, interesting and well attended talk.

Sunspots - Friday May 24th 2019

Solar flux is 66 (I think this is the lowest I have seen this minimum) and the SSN 0. A=5 and K=2.

OpenStreetMaps contributors and OpenMapTiles

Most of my maps showing FT8 results are cut down copies of PSKreporter maps. It goes without saying that the copyright is theirs.

23 May 2019

EU elections - NOT amateur radio

Because of our delayed departure, the UK has had to take part in EU elections, The results will be known on Sunday when all EU member countries have voted.

In the UK these elections are quite odd. Unless by some late change of circumstances we vote to stay EU members, those elected will only sit for a few months.

It seem likely that the 2 major UK parties will do badly to either right wing or parties favouring staying members of the EU community. In the UK, this will be more of a protest vote. My wife and I have already voted Lib-Dem which is the party wishing to stay members. If I am honest none of the main UK political parties have policies which totally reflect my views, although the Lib-Dems are closest.

As a result of these elections, it would not surprise me if the EU made changes. With right wing parties on the rise, I suspect we will hear more about nations and less about a federal Europe in future. Assuming we do leave, I suspect the EU we leave will be much different within 5 years and we will wish we'd stayed.

Who is looking? - NOT amateur radio

For some time now, the map on my monitoring page for this blog has not been working, at least not on this browser. It now seems to be working again, although the number of visits shown on the map seems to bare no resemblance to the number of visits shown elsewhere.

160m FT8

At about 2012z I QSYed to 160m FT8. My 2.5W CQ was spotted by no-one at all and on 160m FT8 RX 8 stations in 7 countries spotted so far, all EU. As before, using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. This seems to match and work well at 160m. In the "DX season" plenty of transatlantic DX has been spotted on 160m FT8. Best DX this evening, so far, is UT9EZ (2471km).

UPDATE 2149z: Now 38 stations in 12 countries spotted tonight on 160m FT8 RX. All EU. Best DX remains the UT9.

6m FT8

Just before lunch, I QSYed to 6m FT8. My 2.5W CQ was spotted by 4 Gs, although no QSOs resulted. So far, 106 stations spotted this afternoon on 6 FT8 RX, many by Es.

6m FT8 spots today to 1523z
UPDATE 1523z: Now 125 stations spotted this afternoon on 6m FT8 RX with the best DX being SV2JL (2150km). Clearly lots of Es.

UPDATE 1952z: Now 179 spots on 6m FT8 RX with best DX EA8ZT (2983km) in the Canary Is.

Chelsea Flower Show - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday I mentioned how brilliant the flowers were. This is another photo taken yesterday.

BREXIT - NOT amateur radio

Whatever your views on BREXIT are we can all agree on one thing: we have made a right mess of it!  The UK people and main parties are deeply divided over this and the UK is more "broken" now than for years. The Prime Minister is going soon, but I cannot see a good replacement.

I have the feeling that we are on the verge of a new time in UK politics as both the Conservative and Labour parties are deeply divided over BREXIT.

What is needed is something to unite the UK. Short of war, I do not know would fit the bill - maybe we will all "get real" about climate change. Remember how public opinion suddenly changed on plastics?



Bowburn Community Association, Durham Road, Bowburn, Co. Durham DH6 5AT. Doors open 10.10am to 2.30am with disabled visitors gaining access at 10am. Admittance is £2. There will be traders, a Bring & Buy as well as an RSGB bookstall and Special Interest Groups. Catering and a licensed bar is on site. Contact Michael Wright, G7TWX, 07826 924 1192, g7twx@mickwright.f9.co.uk.

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

2m FT8

Overnight, I remained on 2m FT8 RX.

This morning, so far (last 6 hours), 11 stations in 6 countries spotted so far.

UPDATE 1056z: Now 16 stations in 6 countries spotted this morning on 2m FT8 RX. Think I shall QSY to 6m shortly.

Sunspots - Thursday May 23rd 2019

Solar flux is a dire 67 and the sunspot number 0. A=4 and K=1.

22 May 2019

2m FT8

Shortly before 1900z, I switched to 2m FT8 RX. So far this evening 17 stations in 3 countries spotted on 2m FT8 RX.

Chelsea Flower Show - NOT amateur radio

For our 70th birthdays, my brother-in-law bought us tickets to the Chelsea Flower Show.This is the most famous flower show in the UK. We went by train and tube. It was surprisingly busy. The flowers were amazing.

Not much missed

The ARRL does a daily roundup of the Dayton Hamvention. The last was on Sunday. I don't think I missed much.

See http://www.arrl.org/news/hamvention-2019-sunday-roundup .

Dayton Roundup

Southgate News has a link to photos of the Dayton Hamvention in the USA. Although still to check, I don't think I missed big announcements from the Japanese companies. The photos again confirm this is (mainly) a male hobby. I suspect that "old" men are less likely to attend. Of course, Elecraft made big play of their new K4 transceiver.

Sunspots - Wednesday may 22nd 2019

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN still 0. A=4 and K=0.

21 May 2019

OFCOM - zzzzz

Excuse me as I have a quick snooze.....

OFCOM has published some statutory instruments in connection with some spectrum actions. Such exciting stuff I nearly fell of my chair!! Maybe I should read this in Welsh?

6m FT8

A short while ago I moved from 2m to 6m FT8 calling CQ (2.5W to the vertical omni) initially. Although no QSOs resulted, I was spotted by 4 stations with the best spotting me being M0BEW (194km).

So far, only 7 G stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1748z: Clearly some Es this teatime with 108 stations now spotted on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 2129z: In the end 129 stations spotted today on 6m FT8 RX.

Portuguese blog updated - NOT amateur radio

As you may (or may not!) recall we spent 10 days on a tour in Portugal. Already we are confused about places and dates! On these holidays I try to keep a blog so in years to come we can look back. I have added a couple of photos today.

See https://port19postcards.blogspot.com/

2m FT8 RX

At the moment I am still on 2m FT8 RX, although I may try 6m FT8 later. So far today, just 6 stations spotted with best DX G0RQL (353km) in Devon.

UPDATE 1220z: So far today 15 stations spotted in 3 countries.

Sunspots - Tuesday May 21st 2019

Solar flux is just 67 today (poor) and the sunspot number 0. A=6 and K=1.

20 May 2019

2m FT8

At about 1930z I QSYed to 2m FT8 calling CQ (2.5W to big-wheel omni) initially. Now I am RX only. Although no QSOs resulted from the CQ calls I was spotted by 10 stations with best DX GW0KAX (279km). On RX best DX spotted is PD0PVL (378km).

UPDATE 2122z: Now 11 stations in 3 countries spotted this evening on 2m FT8 RX.

Going backwards? - NOT amateur radio

Many things seem to get worse over time, not better.

We once had a bus every 30 minutes into Cambridge. It has been every hour now for several years. The store M&S in the UK used to be the place to buy underwear: quality was good. These days they are clearly made to a price and quality is poorer. My wife bought a coat and bag several years ago, but the replacements have fewer pockets.  We used to get vouchers from Tesco, but these have stopped. Every few months we used to get vouchers for a free coffee and cake from John Lewis, a well respected UK retailer. I just noticed the voucher is for a free cake when you buy a drink. I am sure many will not have noticed this change.

Now I know retailers are having a hard time, but this John Lewis change was sneaked in, hoping many would not notice. The coffee at John Lewis is expensive, so the voucher will not get used.

I can think of plenty of examples of things getting worse.

6m FT8

This morning I am again on 6m FT8. Initially I called CQ (2.5W to the omni vertical) with no QSOs resulting, although my best spot was by M0BEW (194km). On 6m FT8 RX my best DX is LA3DV (1022km).

UPDATE 1006z: Now 16 stations spotted in 2 countries so far today on 6m FT8 RX. Mostly Gs.

UPDATE 1250z: Now 27 stations in 7 countries spotted on 6m FT8 RX today.

160m FT8 RX

Overnight I was again on 160m FT8 RX using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.  Plenty of Europeans spotted, but nothing from "across the pond". I spotted one station that was supposed to be in Iran, but I think this was a German station with the wrong QTH locator!
160m FT8 RX here overnight

Sunspots - Monday May 20th 2019

Solar flux is 68 and the sunspot number 0. It looks like the less active side of the sun has rotated to face us again. I guess we are unlikely to see more spots for a few weeks.  A=3 and K=3.

19 May 2019

160m FT8

A few minutes ago I switched to 160m FT8 using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. Initially I called CQ (2.5W) whereas now I am RX only. So far, no spots given or received.

UPDATE 2000z: So far just 2 stations spotted. Best DX is SP2MEF (1297km).  End of season?

UPDATE 2027z: 14 stations spotted so far this evening. Now it is getting dark all Europe is coming through.

Still not much new at Dayton

Although I have not seen the final day summary, there would appear to be little new announced by the "big boys". Yes Elecraft announced the K4, but I have heard nothing from the traditional Japanese manufacturers.

Next year? Actually it would not entirely surprise me if at least one of these "pulls the plug" on amateur radio before May 2020.

See http://www.arrl.org/news/hamvention-2019-saturday-roundup

6m FT8

Because of my laziness, I remained on 6m FT8 RX overnight. If I remember I may try 160m FT8 RX tonight.

So far this morning, 22 stations in 5 countries spotted on 6m FT8 RX in the last 6 hours with the best DX being OZ4ACK (881km).

UPDATE 1604z: 55 stations so far spotted in the last 12 hours on 6m FT8 with the best DX being YO8SSB (1874km).

UPDATE 1920z: Now 66 stations spotted today on 6m FT8 RX with best DX EA8TR (2989km).

UPDATE 1954z: A brief 2.5W CQ to the vertical omni antenna on 6m FT8 was spotted by 5 stations with best being EA7DL (1643km)

Oscar 100 - people losing interest?

One local amateur who put together 2.4GHz and 10GHz gear for Oscar 100 has now had enough fun and is instead converting it to a /P station for terrestrial activity sessions. I wonder if this is a trend?

People enjoy the challenge briefly, have a few weeks of fun, then say bye bye. By now I was expecting the satellite to be very busy, but it is not. As they say, "the journey is more important than the destination".

Perhaps for appliance operators it is too much of a challenge - you need to be keen to get a station together and a fat cheque book does not work.

Sunspots - Sunday May 19th 2019

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 11. A=5 and K=0.

18 May 2019

Dayton Hamvention 2019. Few new products?

First reports from Dayton are disappointing with few new products announced. As the years progress, it would not surprise me if some Japanese companies leave the amateur radio market, or even go bust. In many countries  it is an "old mans" hobby with fewer buyers, so a diminishing market. Some are clearly struggling already.

See http://www.arrl.org/news/hamvention-2019-friday-roundup .

Post holiday blues - NOT amateur radio

Having just returned from a great holiday in Portugal we have the usual problems. Empty fridge, long grass, loads of washing and lots of post. To cap it all it is now raining and my 10m, 20m and 40m end-fed antenna has fallen down! Ho hum! I managed to cut the front lawn, but not the back.

Our holiday blog is at https://port19postcards.blogspot.com/

6m FT8

After a brief CQ (2.5W to the V2000 vertical omni), I have been on FT8 RX most of the time. So far 38 reports in 8 countries on FT8 RX today with best DX LB7FA (1026km). On TX my best spot was by M0BEW (194km).

UPDATE 1517z: Now 44 stations spotted with EA8JK (3022km) as best DX spotted on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 2008z: Now 71 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX today.

472kHz WSPR overnight

Being back home, I tried 472kHz WSPR (10mW ERP from the earth-electrode antenna in the ground) overnight. It definitely feels like the end of the season with very few stations spotting me and being spotted.
472kHz WSPR overnight

Sunspots - Saturday May 18th 2019

Solar flux is 71 and the sunspot number is 13. A=5 and K=1.

17 May 2019

Back home and back on 472kHz WSPR

At about 2110z we arrived back home. I am back on 10mW ERP (20%) WSPR on 472kHz. A new station has appeared - G6ECH (227km). As yet, no spots of me.

Portugal castle - NOT amateur radio

Today is our last day in Portugal. We have seen some amazing sites and met some lovely people. Yesterday we visited Beja, which is supposed to have the highest tower in Portugal.

Sunspots - Friday May 17th 2019

Solar flux is 73 and the SSN 13. A=6 and K=2.

16 May 2019



Stockwood Park, Luton LU1 4BQ. All the usual facilities. www.ddrcbootsale.org.

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

Portugal - NOT amateur radio

We get home tomorrow after a great trip. My wife made this collage, which sums up our trip quite well.

This has been a busy few days, but we have seen and learned a lot.

For days we have been looking for bee eaters. Today my wife and I saw 4!

Right wing extremists - NOT amateur radio

The upcoming European elections will be test for the far right parties in many EU countries. Although fairly centralist politically myself, there is no denying that politics in many countries is moving further right.

Many of those who vote right wing are disaffected people who think (falsely) that right wing parties will bring back halcyon days without immigrants and the EU.  In my view all EU nations have changed forever and people are being misguided.

The UK and USA have been integrating immigrant people for a very long time. It is important that people coming into a country learn the language and integrate. It is very unlikely those who do not try to fully integrate will feel welcomed.

If right wing parties do well in the EU elections the EU could change radically in the years ahead.

See https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48264638

Even lower!

Stefan DK7FC has been doing experiments at even lower frequencies! This was posted a few days ago. His attachment has NOT been included.

"Hello SLF freinds,

Just a note from a recent experiment at 270.1 Hz.
On sunday morning, 2019-05-12_10:34,+150m, i've done a carrier transmission on my ground loop antenna again. I did not expect more than, hopefully, a detectable spectrum peak in 57.6 km distance, i.e. at my tree site. The tree receiver site was listening and recording data using vlf-rx tools.
One E field antenna and two orthogonal loops were listening. The loops have been improved recently! They consist out of a single circular turn of 1.2 m diameter using 10mm diameter copper tube (about 25 mm^2). It is a closed loop, non-resonated, with an impedance matching transformer. This transformer previously had 1:100 turns. Now it (they) has 2:240 turns, i.e. two turns primary (out of 14mm^2, AWG6). This improved the sensitivity below 2 kHz significantly ( abt. 4...5 dB).
Furthermore the TX antenna length and angle has been improved, resulting in about +3 dB more signal strength on the RX site!

In a previous experiment at 270.1 Hz, some month ago, there was no result at all, not the weakest trace, despite excessive tweaking of all parameters. So the question was, will the improvements result in a detectable signal now?

Several things went wrong in that experiment. I forgot a bag containing important equipment such as the power supply for the netbook that generates the carrier signal. Also the output power was not as high as planned, just about 380 W, giving 2.2 A antenna current (I measured 64.7 V at 1 A DC). Anyway i managed to improvise so the experiment was started, but with some hours of delay which meant i higher QRN background level. Then, on the WLAN link to the tree, there were several interruptions of the stream (i'll move to 5 GHz very soon!). I even got some QRM from my battery charger for some short time periods (forgot to disable the charger remotely). So there were several factors that could have been improved or avoided. And the middle of May is not the ideal time anyway.

Well, 270.1 Hz, that's the 1110 km band! The far field begins at 177 km distance, i.e. i am clearly in the near field here. Thus, from a 'magnetic' TX antenna, we would expect that the signal is mainly detectable on the H field, i.e. the loop antennas.
The first interesting results is that this expection is actually confirmed. There is nothing detectable on the E field but the carrier S/N in the H fields is close to 10 dB in the first run. Mixing the H fields and tweaking the filters rises the carrier S/N to 10.7 dB, see attachment.

So far not really an undoubtly detection but it is a candidate for optimism! With a few less problems during the experiment there is a chance for 14 dB SNR. Also, there is quite much sideband QRM arround 300 Hz which makes 270 Hz a bit harder to work on.

73, Stefan"

Sunspots - Thursday May 16th 2019

Solar flux today is 73 and the sunspot number 13. A=6 and K=2.

15 May 2019

Portugal Birds - NOT amateur radio

Bird spotting in Portugal continues. As well as masses of storks today I spotted cattle egrets and a grey shrike as well as lots I could not identify. I was hoping to spot a bee-eater, but no luck so far. I've seen them in Spain before, so was hoping to catch at least one here.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_bee-eater

Chapel of Bones - NOT amateur radio

This macabre but fascinating Chapel of Bones in Evora, Portugal is plastered with the skulls and bones of 5000 monks. It was created in the 17th century and aims to encourage people to contemplate their own mortality.



Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center, Dayton, Ohio.

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

Little things please little minds! - NOT amateur radio

This sign, seen today in Portugal, amused me. I think it is actually to do with key cutting.

Sunspots - Wednesday May 15th 2019

Solar flux is 74 today and the SSN 24. A=36 and K=1.

14 May 2019

70cm activity contest this evening

Starting at 1900z (8pm UK clock time) is the May leg of the RSGB's 70cm UKAC activity contest. SSB activity is better than usual and even 5W to a 2m halo usually gets me QSOs up to over 100km.

Lisbon trams - NOT amateur radio

Lisbon, built on 7 hills like Rome, is famous for its old trams.

It suffered a major earthquake in 1755.

Solar Cycle 25 predictions

This is getting more like BREXIT everyday with major disagreements amongst the "experts".

They all seem to agree that the size of the next solar peak will be similar to the last one, but there are major disagreements about the depth and length of the preceding minimum.

See https://www.weather.gov/news/190504-sun-activity-in-solar-cycle

HF beams

A few days ago I reported seeing no HF beams in Portugal. Yesterday, I saw 2. Perhaps they are more affluent further south?


Digital mode FT8 has become enormously popular. Apparently a new release candidate of the faster FT4 is due out in a few weeks. I have yet to try FT4.

Sunspots - Tuesday May 14th 2019

Solar flux is 76 today and the SSN 24. A=4 and K=2.

13 May 2019

Mobile phones and driving - NOT amateur radio

Some of you may remember that one of my sons lost a brother-in-law in 2017 when he was ploughed down by a driver who went through a red light in Australia. It took him 5 weeks to die. He was in his late 20s.

Never, ever use your mobile phone whilst driving. Even hands-free can be distracting. If you can, put the phone in a glove compartment! I was appalled to see this video. I hope he was banned from driving for years and was sacked by the owners of the lorry. Stay safe.

Oscar 100 - still very quiet

When I took a quick look at the Goonhilly SDR relaying the narrowband transponder just now there was only one QSO going on.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

Viseu, Portugal - NOT amateur radio

Viseu Street
Yesterday we were in Viseu, whereas today we are much further south near Lisbon. We saw plenty of storks near Coimbra, but none since. I keep looking for bee-eaters. but have seen none.

Web SDRs

Southgate News has a piece about the Farnham Web SDR. These days there are web SDRs all over the world, so you can take a peek at what things are like from other places. It seems odd to listen to a UK 10GHz beacon in Lisbon!

See http://www.websdr.org/

Sunspots - Monday May 13th 2019

Solar flux is 77 and the sunspot number 24. A=4 and K=1. Still looks (to me) like we have passed the solar minimum.

12 May 2019

Oranges - NOT amateur radio

Today was hot in Portugal! Earlier in the week we had had rain and clouds, but today could hardly be more different. Even at midnight it is expected to be 24 deg C. On the way towards Lisbon we stopped at Obidos where these oranges were on display.

Lightning maps

Periodically I take a look at the lightning maps to see how near storms are. At the moment they are well away.

See https://www.lightningmaps.org/blitzortung/europe/index.php?lang=en

Sunspots - Sunday May 12th 2019

Solar flux is 76 today and the SSN 25. A=8 and K=3.

11 May 2019

The Moon this afternoon - NOT amateur radio

This was the Moon at about 1430z this afternoon near Viseu, Portugal. And to think men walked on here in 1969.

Who do you believe?

When it comes to solar forecasts it is hard to know who to believe. For some years I have been following this forecast and at the moment it seems to be accurate.

Sunspots - Saturday May 11th 2019

Solar flux is 76 today and the SSN 25. A=8 and K=3. Certainly these figures suggest we are starting the climb.

10 May 2019

Amateur radio antennas

When abroad on holidays I do a very sad thing. I count the number of HF and VHF beams I spot. In the USA and South Africa I spotted quite a few. So far in Portugal I have seen none. Well, I did say "sad"!

Angry sky - NOT amateur radio

We are on holiday in Portugal. So far, we have had lots of rain, although it is already much sunnier and drier. Tomorrow is expected to be warm (24deg C) and sunny.
Plenty of swifts, swallows, house martins and sand martins about.

Yaesu's flagship

Although far more than I am willing to pay for amateur radio gear, Yaesu is trying hard with their new flagship, SDR based radio called the FTdx101D being demonstrated at Nevada according to Southgate News.

I hope they introduce a real FT817 replacement later this year, SDR based. We should know next week.

If they "miss the boat" again, I give them 5 years or less before they quit this market. Of late, they have been followers rather than leaders. It is almost as if they have lost their way and are in "catch-up" mode. Over the years I have been a keen Yaesu man and it pains me to say this. If I was to say who might survive, my money is on ICOM.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2019/may/demonstration-and-talk-on-the-new-yaesu-ftdx-101d-transceiver.htm#.XNUQDfZFy00.

See also https://www.nevadaradio.co.uk/amateur-radio/

See also https://www.hamradio.co.uk/amateur-radio-base-station-radio-yaesu-base-station-radio/yaesu/yaesu-ftdx101d-pd-8964.php