30 Jun 2019

2m FT8

6m has been given up and I am instead on 2m FT8. Initially I called CQ (2.5W to the big-wheel omni antenna) and was spotted by 10 G stations, although no 2-way QSOs resulted. I am now RX only.

My best report on TX was by G0OFE (229km).  On RX the best DX so far is F6KBF (387km).

It looks like the big DX opening is over.

UPDATE 2114z: Now 29 stations in 6 countries so far tonight on 2m FT8 RX.

Still surprises

On Oscar 100, the geostationary amateur satellite, activity levels do not seem to have increased on the narrowband transponder. I still cannot get over listening to ZS stations chatting away on 10GHz!

For some people this could be an answer, although most seem to enjoy the journey to communicating via the satellite rather than just chatting. Once they can do it, the "repeater in the sky" holds less interest.  It seems novel to be able to work DX from Brazil to South East Asia and the whole of Africa at any time without QSB.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

Trump and North Korea - NOT amateur radio

OK, I admit that President Trump is not one of my favourite all time leaders, but credit where credit is due.

Meeting Kim in the Korean demilitarised zone and stepping into North Korea, although probably good for next years' elections, has probably done some good. All credit to him for taking the risk that he would be snubbed. Mind you, I am sure behind the scenes their aides were working hard.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-48814975

Getting older - NOT amateur radio

Late last year I turned 70. I am not sure if this is because I am getting (got?) old, but things feel somehow different.

Maybe it is the realisation that I may die next year or in 25 years. My health is likely to get worse as the years progress. Maybe it is the realisation that all that I want to do cannot be achieved. Memories become more important.

Some of these feelings may be as a result of my 2013 stroke.

Live for and in the moment. What will be will be.

More trans-Atlantic 2m DX

Southgate News reports on the EI7GL blog saying that the trans-Atlantic path from Cape Verde to the Caribbean has been worked again on 2m. Not only that, but the Cape Verde Islands have been spotted in Venezuela on 2m FT8. When will we see the first 2-way QSO from Venezuela to the Cape Verde Is. on 2m?

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2019/june/144-mhz-trans-atlantic-path-opens-up-again.htm#.XRiW9PZFy00 

Eddystone EC10 RX

When I was younger, I always wanted one of these. In the late 1960s they retailed for £48. They were, I think, the first transistorised communications receiver Eddystone made. The RX used OC171 germanium transistors and a low IF. Actually they were useless! The only good thing was the wonderful Eddystone dial.

A friend of mine had a dad who worked for Eddystone and he managed to get me a pre-production Mk 1 EC10. The entire 10m band covered about 1cm of dial and the image rejection must have been almost non-existent. By today's standards it was a useless RX. Mine was mainly used on 160m and 80m and as a tunable IF for 2m.

Even today I think they still command good prices on eBay, although this must be for collectors rather than performance.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/ec10

6m FT8 RX

This morning there is lots of Es on 6m FT8. Stations are being spotted from all over Europe with best DX on 6m FT8 RX  EA8DBM (3016km). Still no "real DX" on my modest set-up.  So far 65 stations spotted on 6m and it is just 0833z.

UPDATE 1010z: Now 94 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX this morning. As before, no "real DX"

UPDATE 1330z: Now 99 stations in 17 countries spotted today on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1345z: It seems the Es opening on 6m must have ended. No more spots now for some time.

UPDATE 1612z: With just 100 stations spotted so far today on 6m FT8 RX, I think the Es opening earlier has definitely ended. Es sometimes peaks again around teatime, so there is hope yet.  Nothing special here today. Nothing from the Americas or Caribbean. Nothing from Asia.

SAQ VLF (17.2kHz CW) transmission TODAY

A few times a year, the historic VLF alternator TX is fired up. Today is one of those rare times.

See  https://alexander.n.se/the-radio-station-saq-grimeton/saq-transmissions/?lang=en

Sunspots - Sunday June 30th 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the SSN 0. A=3 and K=3.

29 Jun 2019

Interesting clouds - NOT amateur radio

When it comes to clouds I am definitely no expert!  Last evening, at about 2030z, there were some interesting clouds over "our" windmill next door, so I took a quick photo out of the lounge window. I think they are fibratus clouds, which are a form of cirrus, but as I said, I am no expert!

Front lawn - NOT amateur radio

In the heatwave last summer, part of our front lawn died and never recovered.

The rear lawn went brown, but fully recovered. It has, arguably, a bit more shade.

In the last few weeks I de-thatched the front lawn and reseeded it. Much to my surprise the seeds germinated (some in just 6 days) and the lawn already looks much better. Give it a few weeks and a grass cut and it should look quite good again.

The photo shows as it was and as it is now.

2m opening

2m has been wide open and could be good again this weekend. The map show the 2m FT8 RX DX spotted in the last 12 hours. Not bad for an omni antenna on a bungalow!

6m FT8

For about 30 minutes now I have been on 6m FT8. Initially I was on TX calling CQ with my 2.5W to the vertical omni V2000 (just G spots). I see that JA was being worked from EA8 on 6m FT8, although no JAs spotted here (again).

There is already Es on 6m with I , DL and EA8 spotted.

UPDATE 1252z: So far today 39 stations in 8 countries spotted on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1403z: Now 61 stations spotted today on 6m FT8 RX. Mostly EU by Es.

UPDATE 1514z: 4 North Americans now coming through on 6m FT8 RX with W2TT (5651km) currently the best DX. In total, 80 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX here.

UPDATE 1644z: Now 102 stations (8 North Americans) spotted on 6m FT8 RX today with best DX WA5ZFP (7455km) in Louisiana, USA.

UPDATE 2148z: 173 stations spotted today on 6m FT8 RX.

Sunspots - Saturday June 29th 2019

Solar flux is 65 and the SSN 0. A=4 and K=1.

28 Jun 2019

2m wide open

Stations spotting me on 
2m FT8 in the last hour.
A local friend in the village Richard G3TFX alerted me that 2m is wide open. He tells me he just worked a station in Windermere who was using a handheld and 2.5W. I decided to call CQ at 2.5W to the big-wheel with FT8. No QSOs yet (apart from 1 G), but reports from several European countries with the best report being by OZ1BEF (721km). I shall stay on RX when I go to bed. On RX best DX is SM7MMQ (930km).

UPDATE 1055z: My best report (me on TX FT8 at 2.5W to the big-wheel) is SQ6POM (1059km). 3 QSOs so far, all Gs). Off to bed so time to switch to RX only.

Gooderstone, Norfolk - NOT amateur radio

As mentioned yesterday, we visited Gooderstone Water Gardens in Norfolk yesterday. It was the first time.

For some reason, this gem of a place had passed us by. We were both surprised that it had not been mentioned by a friend, even though I have been hereabouts since 1970! It really was great.

Far East again being worked from Western Europe on 6m FT8

As often happens in June, the very long 6m path from Western Europe to the Far East is again being worked, at least by the better equipped stations. It remains to be seen whether or not I spot any with my very basic set-up here! I use a V2000 omni vertical fed with CB coax. There are plenty of Europeans being copied her via Es on 6m.

UPDATE 1133z: 63 EUs spotted on 6m FT8 RX, but no Far East here again 😕

UPDATE 1246z: 74 stations spotted today on 6m FT8 RX. At the moment my impression is that "real DX" is not as good as last season. Yes, I have spotted Europe, Asia, Caribbean and North America on 6m FT8, but I think this year there were fewer stations. OK, it is still June and things could still get better.

UPDATE 1552z: 121 stations spotted today on 6m FT8 RX. No "real DX" on my modest set-up!

UPDATE 2238z: Some minutes ago I QSYed to 2m FT8 (see later post).

Sunspots - Friday June 28th 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the sunspot number 11 (just be thankful it is not zero!). A=4 and K=2.

27 Jun 2019

Frog or Toad? - NOT amateur radio

Today we went to Oxburgh Hall (National Trust) and then on to Gooderstone Water Gardens where we saw this little fellow. Pretty sure it is a frog and not a toad, but I am hopeless! See https://www.gooderstonewatergardens.co.uk/

Both places are in Norfolk, UK.



Dubmire Royal British Legion Club, Britannia Terrace, Fencehouses, DH4 6LJ. Doors open 10.15am (10am for disabled). The rally is open to trade, clubs and private sellers/exhibitors. Table space is limited so it will be allocated on a first come first served. There is no charge for sellers and is free entry as well. Donations welcome to the Royal British Legion Club. Hot drinks available and a licenced bar will be open from 11am. Bookings/info: Amanda Weston, M6LXK, 0778 715 5745, westona1@tiscali.co.uk.

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

Bury St Edmunds - NOT amateur radio

Bury St Edmunds has a fine market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Often fruit and vegetables are as good as in the supermarkets and far cheaper.

There is a small museum in the market square (at the back of the photo) called Moyses Hall in what is, I think, the oldest building there.

6m FT8 RX

In the last few hours 10 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX. Some could be Es.

UPDATE 0848z: Now 25 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX in 7 countries so far today. Some are Es, but I suspect some nearer ones are aircraft reflections as they are very strong and too near for Es.

UPDATE 1547z:  Now 77 stations spotted in 15 countries today on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1915z: 170 stations spotted so far with best DX on 6m FT8 RX being 4X4DK (3580km)

The summit prowler QRP SSB/CW, 4 HF bands

Hot on the heels of the Peregrino is the Summit Prowler from Australia.

See https://vk3hn.wordpress.com/2019/05/01/summit-prowler-6-a-pocket-sized-ssb-cw-transceiver-for-80-40-30-and-20m/

Sunspots - Thursday June 27th 2019

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN 11. A=6 and K=1.

26 Jun 2019

New Pixie Kit

Steve G1KQH has told me about a new Pixie kit from China which now comes with a case.

See https://www.aliexpress.com/i/32988482921.html

Latest SPRAT and the Peregrino QRP SSB rig

The latest version of SPRAT has arrived. This is issue 179 of the GQRP club magazine. This has colour on inside pages too. I think this is the first time. Presumably it is cost-effective. It certainly looks good, making a good magazine even better.

On page 20 is described the Peregrino, which is a basic SSB transceiver for 17m. It all fits on a single, small PCB designed by a couple of Spanish stations. It uses only 84 parts.

Could we lose 2m?

France has proposed the re-allocation of the 144-146MHz band to aeronautical mobile.

In the distant past I seem to recall having to avoid certain spot frequencies in the EU 2m band, presumably as this band must have, at one time, been shared with aeronautical mobile services. If my memory is correct, this was a long time ago, possibly in the 1960s.

I suspect this would be discussed at WRC-2023 and implementation, if approved, could take a few years. In the end, I can see this becoming a shared band perhaps. With the low band occupancy, I cannot imagine much risk of interference. I guess they could make the higher band exclusive (145-146MHz) and the lower part shared (144-145MHz).

See http://www.arrl.org/news/no-strong-opposition-to-144-146-mhz-reallocation-proposal-at-cept-meeting

BREXIT uncertainty - NOT amateur radio

We seem to be sleep walking into one of the biggest political crises in the UK in hundreds of years. Personally, I think we are being "led" by a bunch of career politicians with little to commend them. And this is in all political parties! There is a real lack of politicians with backbone and integrity.

As for the EU and BREXIT I am convinced there is no plan, but lots of crossed legs and lots of hope. I think the country and UK parliament are deeply divided over BREXIT and it could be several years before wounds are healed.

My own views on BREXIT reflect many in the UK. We see the benefits of EU membership and want free trade and no tariffs, but want no political union and to have control over our borders and who lives and works here. Basically we want the EU with looser control and free of gravy trains.

6m FT8 CQ (2.5W)

Just before breakfast I called CQ on 6m FT8 with 2.5W to the V2000 vertical. No QSOs resulted but I was spotted by 8 G stations with the best being a spot by M0BEW (194km).

Since then, I see there is Es about with 47 stations so far spotted and it is only 0816z.

6m FT8 RX here to teatime
UPDATE 1653z: Now 158 stations in 21 countries spotted so far today on 6m FT8 RX. All were EU (apart from a couple in North Africa) with no "real DX".

Japan worked on 6m

Yesterday, I gather Japanese stations were being worked on 6m from the UK. I presume this was FT8 although I am not sure. I spotted nothing on my modest set-up!

These openings seem to happen every year at this time. I am sure big antennas must help.  It is 2 years now since I last spotted Japanese stations on 6m. That was JT65. In the last 2 years I have concentrated on FT8.

There seems to be a correlation between these openings and noctilucent clouds in the mesosphere.

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

Sunspots at last! - Wednesday June 26th 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the SSN 24 (yes sunspots!). A=4 and K=1.

UPDATE 1635z: I see the SSN has dropped to 12 now. Well that excitement did not last!

25 Jun 2019

Virtual Amateur Radio

Although these internet based systems have never really appealed to me, they may to some. It is like amateur radio without the ionosphere, using the internet instead.

See also https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/virtual

OFCOM and 3GHz spectrum for 5G

OFCOM has announced changes to the licencing conditions for major 5G players.

See https://ofcom.cmail19.com/t/ViewEmail/i/32E3F5227ADB863C2540EF23F30FEDED/952AB8F022CBFC94BA4AF9908B8D85ED

Ads I hate - NOT amateur radio

One sort of ad I really hate is one that says "Brits must read this"  or similar. In my view, this is like click bate. One is encouraged to read and clearly the ad is, well, an ad. I presume this is a new way to get our attention. In future such ads will be avoided.

6m FT8

After an early morning QRP QSO with EA5/G0KSC (1591km) I have been RX only on 6m FT8.  57 stations spotted so far this morning on 6m FT8 RX. It is now 0830z.

UPDATE 0858z:  63 stations spotted so far on 6m FT8.

UPDATE 1543z: Now 190 stations in 20 countries spotted on 6m FT8 RX today with best DX EA8DBM (3016km). Nothing from "across the pond".

UPDATE  1844z: Now 239 stations spotted today with best DX spotted on 6m FT8 RX 5T5PA (3791km).


Southgate News has a piece on the RSGB papers for the next World Radio Conference. If things go to plan, this might see a worldwide 50-54MHz band for radio amateurs. Often, we are disappointed.

Personally, I'd prefer a much smaller allocation around 40MHz (8m), which would have been far more use and interesting.

See https://rsgb.org/main/news/special-focus/wrc-19/wrc-19-papers/
See also http://southgatearc.org/news/2019/june/144-and-1240-mhz-bands-rsgb-information.htm#.XRG1g_ZFy00

6m last evening

6m FT8 RX yesterday here
After a rather poor day yesterday, things livened up, although I had to disconnect everything because of the storm risk. Before closing, 5 North Americans spotted on 6m FT8 RX. Had I stayed on longer, there is little doubt others would have been spotted.

At the moment the storm risk seems distant, so I may reconnect the 6m gear shortly.

Windmill starlings - NOT amateur radio

Apparently starlings are in decline in the UK. Well, not here! The photo shows the starlings gathering on "our" windmill next door last night. They roost elsewhere, but gather on the windmill sails before flying off.

The photo was taken from our front garden.

Sunspots - Tuesday June 25th 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the SSN 0. A=3 and K=1.

24 Jun 2019

Storm risks

It is just starting to rain and we have thunder forecast for the end of the night. Later, all antennas and mains leads in the shack will be disconnected. At the moment the nearest storms are hundreds of miles away. By the end of the night it could be quite different here.

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

Crab apples - NOT amateur radio

When we moved here almost 6 years ago we inherited a crab apple tree. This has now grown.

2 years ago we had lots of crab apples. Last year we had just 15. This year we have hundreds.

A friend of my wife makes crab apple jelly, which we like. It is great with some meats.

PSKreporter maps

Until very recently I had put down issues with PSKreporter maps to problems with my internet connection. I am now having doubts as my internet seems to be working well and reliably yet several stations which are received on the PC are not reported on PSKreporter. Several stations spotted earlier on 6m are no longer shown. It would be interesting to hear if others have the occasional issue. Most times it works well.


This is the biggest European amateur "show". I have never been and never likely to go. No new products were announced to my knowledge. I may be wrong.

See https://www.hamradio-friedrichshafen.com/

6m FT8 RX

Although there is the possibility of storms later, so I may have to go QRT, I am again on 6m FT8 RX. At the moment (0812z) , no Es here with just Gs spotted.

UPDATE 1124z: Very little 6m Es here today with just EA7JAN (1805km) spotted so far.

UPDATE 1325z: Rubbish!  No further stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX here today.

UPDATE 1559z: Now 22 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX with best DX SV9RNG (2764km) on Crete.

UPDATE 1830z: Now 144 stations on 3 continents spotted today on 6m FT8 RX. Looks like late Es.

UPDATE 1907z: Now 167 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX today.

UPDATE 2036z: Now 199 6m stations spotted including an SU (Egypt) and ST0CAZ (4801km).

Double yolker - NOT amateur radio

Most mornings I start the day with a no fat added cooked breakfast and fresh fruit. I appreciate this may not suit everyone!

We usually buy our low cost free range eggs from our local supermarket. Imagine my surprise to see a double yolker this morning. We have lived here for nearly 6 years and I have only seen 2 in all that time!

I should have taken the photo as soon as I cracked the egg. By the time this was taken the yolks had merged.

Sunspots - Monday June 24th 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the sunspot number zero. A=3 and K=2. Still pretty poor. It will be interesting to see the Solan forecast next month.

23 Jun 2019

2m big wheel antenna

For several years now I have been using a big-wheel horizontal omni-directional antenna. This has a few dB of gain and does not need a rotator.

With 2.5W SSB it regularly gets me 200km in the Tuesday evening UKAC activity contests organised by the RSGB. On FT8 my QRP CQs are regularly copied in Cornwall under flat conditions. Most days, I spot stations in 7 countries by aircraft reflection on 2m FT8. What surprised me was it is quite effective on 70cm SSB. Most sessions my 70cm QRP is copied over 100km.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/bigwheel

Classic car day - NOT amateur radio

Today, the museum across the road from us held its classic car day, when lots of classic cars visit. Mostly the weather was warm and sunny.

Nero fiddles and Rome burns - NOT amateur radio

Whilst there is the risk of war in the Middle East and the EU is in crisis over the loss of a major member, what does the UK do? We spend weeks deciding who will be the next leader of one major party who, by default, becomes the next Prime Minister and hence the most important person in the UK. There are 2 candidates left, neither of whom exactly fills me with excitement.

Personally, I think UK politics is in a mess. It is my view that we are, in the main, run by idiots in all parties who are more interested in their own careers than the greater good of the UK or world. There may be some exceptions, although I am struggling to think of them.

BBQ - NOT amateur radio

Most of the afternoon has been spent with old friends enjoying a BBQ. It started off sunny, but got cloudier. In the UK we need good weather to eat outside.

It was good to eat with old friends. Some have moved 100 miles away and we see them less frequently these days.

Oscar 100

It is now several months since this geostationary amateur satellite became operational. To get active most have to put together a 2.4GHz TX and a 10GHz RX as well as either 1 or 2 dishes pointing in the right direction. There are no "cheque book" amateur radio solutions. It is possible to repurpose some WiFi bits. Activity levels seem to be no higher than a few months ago.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

Sea scout - NOT amateur radio

The photo here was taken almost 100 years ago and shows my dad in Salcombe, Devon, UK.

As someone pointed out, this could well be posted for the photographer! It does look posed.

My dad died in 1987.

War by accident? - NOT amateur radio

Probably Iran and the USA do not want outright war. However, the chance of one side miscalculating the actions of the other is quite high. President Trump is a "loose cannon" and sometimes acts irrationally. Iran is not exactly a peaceful and loving nation. I am sure behind the scenes both sides are actively engaged in cyber war.

Although Iran is far from perfect, I personally think Trump is like a little boy with a can of petrol and a box of matches.

6m FT8 RX

So far this morning (it is now 0920z) 56 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX. All of these are Europeans and most of these are via Es.

UPDATE 1704z: So far today 167 stations, mostly Europeans, spotted on 6m FT8 RX. Nothing by way of "real DX" spotted.

Still the pits. Sunspots - Sunday June 23rd 2019

Solar flux is 66 and the SSN 0 still. A=4 and K=1.

At the moment we are heading for a spotless month.

22 Jun 2019

Longest spotless period

According to Southgate News we have had 33 spotless days now. This is now the longest spotless stretch this cycle and is consistent with the minimum in the next year.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2019/june/the-sun-is-so-spotless.htm#.XQ5UUvZFy00

Iran-USA conflict - NOT amateur radio

We live in dangerous times with the USA president "shooting from the hip" as if he is in the wild west. Actually the world could fall into a deep recession should he attack Iran. Iran is a dangerous unknown, but just as on climate change, the USA president seems to think he knows best.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-48728465

Dead Ringers - NOT amateur radio

Some in the UK may recall "Spitting Image" on TV. Famous people were created in rubber puppets and they had the micky taken! It was a wonderful programme and unbelievably funny. It is a pity they don't bring it back.

Dead Ringers on BBC Radio 4 is very similar and perhaps the best programme on the radio. It is broadcast on Friday early evenings and Saturday lunchtime. I am pretty sure it will be on catch-up and BBC iPlayer.

External Links G3XBM main website

A very long time ago, I created a page for my main website with external links. Some of these links probably do not work, so I need to go though all these and check. If you spot any dead links before me, please let me know. Likewise on the rest of the site, please tell me if you spot mistakes or broken links.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/ext_links
See also www.g3xbm.co.uk

Friends - NOT amateur radio

On the bridge over 
the River Lark
For the last couple of nights we had an old school friend of my wife and her husband staying. They were on their way to a holiday in Norfolk.

They are very good company and we really enjoyed them staying.

Yesterday, we took them to Bury St Edmunds, which is a delightful East Anglian place with an old (and new!) abbey.

6m FT8

With 85 stations spotted on 6m FT8 so far this morning this is a bit more promising than yesterday. Best DX spotted so far on 6m FT8 RX is EA8JK (3022km) in the Canaries. Nothing yet from Asia on 6m.

UPDATE 1032z: Now 141 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX this morning. Still nothing from Asia.

UPDATE 1245z: Now 230 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1317z:  Still 230 stations spotted, suggesting the Es opening has ended, for now.

UPDATE 1646z: Now 294 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 2030z: 310 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX in the last half day. Nothing here spotted from "across the pond" on 6m FT8 RX.

Sunspots - Saturday June 22nd 2019

Solar flux is just 66 and the sunspot number zero. A=6 and K=2.

Sunspot minimum definitely. Well, it can hardly be worse! Pretty sure this month will be spotless.

21 Jun 2019

Quieter day on 6m FT8?

OK it is only 0945z, but so far 6m is far quieter than yesterday. There is some European Es, but only 8 stations spotted so far today.

UPDATE 1600z:  Now 82 stations spotted today on 6m FT8 RX.

Some amazing transatlantic 2m DX

This has been a remarkable week on 2m with some amazing contacts across the Atlantic. See this blog:


The question now is when transatlantic 2m QSOs will take place further north. Certainly modes like FT8 are improving chances.

Sunspots - Friday June 21st 2019

Solar flux is 66 and the SSN 0. A=7 and K=1.

Still firmly at sunspot minimum. Basically crap!

20 Jun 2019

"All in one" instrument

This afternoon I got the XBS Telecom newsletter and noticed this Rigol instrument. If I was still fit and doing a fair bit of design work, I could be seriously tempted. This is a very useful piece of kit.

See https://www.xbstelecom.eu/shop/en/rigol/1068-rigol-mso-5072-oscilloscope-2x70mhz-8gss-16-voies.html?utm_source=sendinblue&utm_campaign=en_Newsletter_ham-radio_-_May_2019&utm_medium=email

See also https://www.telonic.co.uk/Rigol-s/1831.htm?_vsrefdom=p.17432&gclid=CjwKCAjw3azoBRAXEiwA-_64OnE25XJW9zSOI9bvFhv8fgxSfqrWBHNUtoI2DBF0kOuOEtyKEshGCRoCUCkQAvD_BwE

The future of UK politics - NOT amateur radio

OK, I have a crystal ball and this is my look at the next 6 months:
  • Boris Johnson will be elected Conservative leader in the UK.
  • He will also become UK Prime Minister
  • He will try to get a better deal for BREXIT
  • The EU will not play ball.
  • There will be a no confidence vote in the UK parliament. 
  • This will be lost by the Conservative government.
  • There will be a General Election in the UK.
  • A coalition government of Labour (now pro EU remaining) and Lib-Dems would become the governing party.
  • A second national referendum on leaving the EU will be held.
  • We vote to remain in the EU.
  • The EU will reform or eventually fall apart. The ascendency of right wing parties forces reforms.
In June 2020 it will be interesting to see how right (or wrong!) I am.



The Hub, Hamilton Road, Bangor. There's a nearby Council pay car park. Doors open 11am. Entrance fee is £3 inclusive of a raffle ticket. There will be traders, a Bring & Buy and a Book stall. More from 02890422762 or by e-mail to samanumi11@gmail.com.


Newbury Showground, next to M4 J13. A talk-in station will be on S22 (V44). There is free car parking. Traders can gain access at 8am and visitors at 9am. Admissions will be £2.50. Car boot sale pitches are £12.50. The show will have a huge radio, electronics & computing boot sale, plus demonstration marquee with display of amateur radio on air, plus clubs and national society stands. Catering is available on site. Contact Phill, G6EES on 07771 504738 or by email to NewburyRally@nadars.org.uk www.nadars.org.uk.

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

Funerals - NOT amateur radio

Going into the butchers today in a suit and tie felt quite odd!  The only time I seem to wear a suit and tie is going to a funeral.

Today was the funeral of our old neighbour for 37 years. She and her husband, who died some years ago, were good "salt of the earth" sort of people. We liked them a lot. She was very talented and we still have one of her sculptures and her Christmas decorations come out every year.

For about 6 years she has been in a home suffering with Alzheimers disease. This is a cruel condition that can affect any of us. Gradually minds go and in the end people cannot remember even their loved ones. Over time I hope her daughter can remember her as she was most of her life.

We shall remember them as they were - good, simple, people with hearts of gold.

USA and Iran - NOT amateur radio

There is no love lost between the USA and Iran. Iran could well be the aggressor in the recent conflict in the Gulf. What bothers me is dirty tricks. It is just feasible that the whole thing is a CIA plot, unlikely I know.

In times of heightened tension and war it is extremely hard to get independent, verifiable proof. All I caution is caveat emptor. What you see may not be what it seems.

Nocilucent clouds and DX

According to Southgate News this has been a good year for noctilucent clouds (NLCs). The path from western Europe to Japan (a very long way!) seems to open up for a short-time in June each year on 6m. This is just the time NLCs form in the mesosphere. There seems to be a direct correlation. 2 years ago, despite using a V2000 omni vertical fed with lossy CB coax I copied 13 Japanese stations on 6m JT65. For the last 2 summers I have been monitoring 6m FT8. As yet, I have not copied Japan on 6m FT8, which is a bit less sensitive.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2019/june/mysterious-moisture-in-the-mesosphere.htm#.XQtBAvZFy00

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

6m FT8 RX

So far today, 17 Europeans spotted on 6m FT8 RX, although no "real DX". Mind you, it is only 0815z.

UPDATE 0854z: So far, 76 stations spotted this morning on 6m FT8 RX with the best DX being EK7DX (3590km).

UPDATE 0914z: Now 114 stations spotted so far on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1313z: Now 443 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX today including 5 Caribbeans and 1 in the USA. Best DX on 6m FT8 RX so far is J69DS (6840km) on St Lucia.

UPDATE 1424z: With 14 USA and Canadian stations and 5 Caribbean stations out of a total of 498 stations already on 6m FT8 RX, today is almost certainly the best day this season so far on 6m. Best DX is currently N4WW (6988km). Interesting that WU1ITU (4831km) is in the log as the last time I logged this station was on 160m last winter.

6m FT8 RX spots 
here to 1630z today
UPDATE 1630z: Now 520 stations spotted today on 6m FT8 RX.

Sunspots - Thursday June 20th 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the sunspot number still 0. This is definitely the longest spotless period this minimum. We must be at, or very close, to the sunspot minimum. A=4 and K=1.

19 Jun 2019

Decreasing storm risk

At the moment the nearest storms are some way away in Holland. All being well I can be on the East Cambs net at 1830z and 6m FT8 RX afterwards.

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

East Cambs 2m net

A reminder that this local net meets on 144.575MHz (yes 144.575MHz) at 7.30pm FM on Wednesday nights. Normally we finish within 30 minutes. Although sometimes someone asks a technical question, these are normally not too challenging.

UPDATE 1920z: M0CNP (Burwell) joined us tonight.

6m FT8 RX today

So far this morning 132 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX including Israel and Kuwait. Sadly no Far East stations spotted here.

UPDATE 1237z: 244 stations spotted so far today on 6m FT8 RX with a couple of Caribbeans. Best DX is KP4EIT (6834km) in Puerto Rico.

UPDATE 1347z: 285 stations now spotted today on 6m FT8 RX. Both Puerto Rico stations spotted have been coming through now for several hours.

UPDATE 1433z: Now 5 Caribbean stations being spotted with best DX HI8PLE (7062km) in the Dominican Republic. Total stations spotted on 6m FT8 today is 316. At the moment thunderstorms are some way away, so I'll remain on 6m FT8 RX for now.

UPDATE 1748z: Now 402 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX today.

Anglesey Abbey door - NOT amateur radio

Anglesey Abbey is a National Trust property about 5 miles away. We visit the extensive grounds most months. Although sometimes busy, especially at weekends, the grounds are so vast that it is easy to find spots with few people. The door in this photo is on the way to the watermill.

Friedrichshafen - June 21-23 in Germany

This is the biggest European amateur radio exhibition. It is just possible some new products may be announced, although I think this is unlikely. There were a very few new products announced at Dayton, Ohio.

6m FT8 RX yesterday

Es was pretty good yesterday until I had to go QRT to avoid the storm risks. In all, 493 stations were spotted on 6m FT8 RX. in the last day.

Sunspots - Wednesday June 19th 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the SSN 0. A=4 and K=1.

18 Jun 2019

Rough night ahead?

Until now, we have been storm free here today, but in the last few hours it has been raining and there are thunderstorms to the east and approaching across the English Channel. At the moment it is hard to know what we face by the end of the night. As a precaution, all antennas and mains plugs in the shack have been unplugged.

See https://www.lightningmaps.org/blitzortung/europe/index.php?bo_page=map&bo_showmap=6

Mending the HF antenna

As long as I can get up the ladder to my flat garage roof, I intend to mend my Par 10/20/40m end-fed antenna next week. This is not the best antenna in the world, but I know how it works. It can handle QRP power levels (actually up to 35W). The wire fatigued at a joint (after nearly 6 years), so it should be easy to fix. We have guests this week, so it can wait. The biggest challenge will be getting on and off the ladder!


We have thunderstorms forecast for later. At the moment the nearest storm is about 150 miles away. If they get close my normal routine is to disconnect everything including the mains plugs "just in case".

See https://www.lightningmaps.org/blitzortung/europe/index.php?bo_page=map&bo_showmap=6

UPDATE 1315z: In the UK the thunderstorms seem to have fizzled out. They were supposed to be moving up from Iberia, but no signs even there. Maybe later?

6m FT8 RX

In the last 3 hours 57 stations have been spotted on 6m FT8 RX. Most of these are EU stations via Es.

UPDATE 0957z: 120 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX in the last 3 hours with best DX 9K2NO (4639km) in Kuwait. Apparently 6m was 56zopen from the UK to India on SSB/CW/FT8 yesterday. Sadly I spotted no Indian stations here!

UPDATE 1156z: So far today 170 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX this morning. Most were Europeans by Es.

UPDATE 1600z: 405 stations spotted here on 6m FT8 RX today so far.

472kHz WSPR overnight

Surprisingly, not a bad night for mid-summer. I think stations are having far more trouble finding my QRPP signal at this time of year, but I am still copying loads of stations on the band as the table shows. In fact, there are almost as many stations as in the winter being spotted, although I suspect some will be gone until autumn.
Overnight here on 472kHz WSPR

Grandchildren - NOT amateur radio

We are fortunate to have 4 young grandchildren. When they get together they enjoy eachother's company.

This photo shows us (top left) with all the grandchildren. The eldest is 11 years old.

Even worse! - Sunspots Tuesday June 18th 2019

Just when you thought things were bad they get even worse!

Solar flux is 65 and the SSN still zero. A=3 and K=1.

17 Jun 2019

472kHz WSPR (10mW ERP)

Although I'm not sure why (masochistic?) I decided to try 472kHz WSPR overnight tonight. On previous summer nights results were pretty poor. I am running the usual 10mW ERP from the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. Surprisingly DL7NN (873km) already spotted.

Calm before the storm? - NOT amateur radio

At the moment the FT100 UK stock index is holding up OK. With the growing tensions between Iran and the USA why do I have the feeling this is the calm before the storm?

It would not surprise me if we are on the verge of a huge recession.  The world is still far too dependent on middle eastern oil. That and BREXIT and we have interesting times ahead.

Sadly, I do not trust the statesmanship of Trump. Kennedy in the 1962 Cuba crisis, yes.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-48661843

Historic transatlantic 2m QSO

Martin G8OFA reports a 2m QSO between the Caribbean and the Cape Verde Is yesterday. I am pretty sure this is the first transatlantic 2m QSO. If confirmed, this is an historic first.

South Hams, Devon - NOT amateur radio

For at least 500 years my family has lived in the South Hams of Devon. We have probably lived hereabouts for thousands of years. At Bolt Tail is an Iron Age fort. It is humbling to think one of my ancestors may well have manned this thousands of years ago.

Museum duty - NOT amateur radio

Several times a year my wife and I volunteer to help at our excellent local museum. Usually we help in the tearoom or entry kiosk. There is free Wi-Fi so no-one can be bored. In both the kiosk and the tearoom there are items for sale. The photo shows some of these.

See http://burwellmuseum.org.uk/

New VHF and up only licence?

According to Southgate News the IARU is considering a new VHF and up only licence in the hope of encouraging activity. I guess many these days head to HF as contacts tend to be over longer distances. In the past quite some fun could be had on 144MHz and 432MHz. Often tropo was better on 432MHz.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2019/june/could-a-new-licence-counter-threats-at-vhf-and-above.htm#.XQd_SPZFy00

6m FT8 RX again

With 173 stations (mostly European) spotted by 0907z this looks promising on 6m. Best DX is again A45XR (5794km) in Oman. No Far East again today here.

Still using the V2000 vertical omni antenna fed with cheap CB coax.

UPDATE 1150z: 409 stations spotted this morning on 6m FT8 RX with best DX A41ZZ (5854km). 3 Gulf stations spotted this morning.

UPDATE 1313z: 473 stations spotted today on 6m FT8 RX including 4 stations from the Persian Gulf area. Nothing yet from the Americas or Caribbean areas.

Stations spotted on 6m 
FT8 RX here to 1548z
UPDATE 1746z: Now 553 stations spotted today on 6m FT8 RX, but nothing from "across the pond" today, well not yet at least.

UPDATE 1951z: Still nothing transatlantic on 6m here today.

Sunspots - Monday June 17th 2019

Solar flux is again 66 and the sunspot number still 0. A=4 and K=1. The pits!!

16 Jun 2019

6m "super DX"

At this time of year, E layer propagation brings in some extraordinary 6m DX. This season, I have spotted Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and North America. As yet, I have still not spotted South America. At this time of year Japan is worked from Western Europe. In 2017 13 Japanese 6m stations were spotted on JT65. For the last couple of seasons I have stuck with FT8, but yet to spot any Japanese stations on 6m.

Rainbow gold - NOT amateur radio

Tradition has it that there is a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. This one was photographed late yesterday from our front garden.

Well, I certainly spotted no gold! Darn! If I had found it I could have easily bought that new radio.

Grimeton VLF CW transmission - June 30th

Southgate News reports on an upcoming 17.2kHz CW transmission from the Grimeton TX in Sweden using the callsign SAQ. On my wall I have a QSL card from them for a transmission many years ago. This very old VLF transmitter uses an alternator to generate the signal. It is now a world heritage site.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2019/june/saq-grimeton-transmission.htm#.XQYyyPZFy00

That geosynchronous amateur satellite

At the moment I only monitor narrowband activity on Oscar 100 via the web SDR at Goonhilly. I checked activity again just now and activity levels seem similar to a few weeks ago. I think new stations come, but also old stations go once the fun has worn off. Many have fun getting the microwave gear assembled and the dish(es) aligned and are less interested thereafter.

Trump tweeting again - NOT amateur radio

As far as USA politics are concerned, I have few problems with tweets about the USA. After all, he was elected as the US president. No doubt some in the USA think he is fine.

Where I have issues is meddling where he seems to know little. I would prefer it if he tweeted less and read more, but if tweet he must then tweet about US murder rates and gun crimes, not about the London major. Re-tweeting Katie Hopkins of all people!

Some compare the current US president with a certain mid-European leader in the 1930s. Outside of the USA he comes across as rather ill informed.

My personal views and others are, of course, entitled to theirs. He is such a genius.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-48651131

Sunspots - Sunday June 16th 2019

Solar flux is just 66 and the SSN still zero. A=4 and K=2.

The spotless period continues. I expect my favourite source of solar data will be changing its forecast next month.

6m FT8 RX

Good 6m Es this morning with 130 stations spotted in the last 6 hours with the best DX on 6m FT8 RX being UN3GX (5522km) in Kazakhstan. It is only now 0826z.

UPDATE 0924z: Now 188 stations spotted this morning on 6m FT8 RX with best DX A45XR (5794km). Several stations are also being spotted that are not appearing on PSKreporter maps. This could be my internet connection or some other issue.

UPDATE 1457z: 347 stations spotted so far today on 6m FT8 RX. As yet, no super DX on 6m here today.

UPDATE 1733z: 386 stations spotted today so far on 6m FT8 RX. At the moment the Es seems to have dried up.

15 Jun 2019

Rain! - NOT amateur radio

Don't let anyone tell you the UK weather is not changing. This June we have seen more rain in the last week than I can ever remember in June. Our best weather this year was in February! Crazy.

G4ILO referrals

Even though Julian Moss sadly died several years ago, I still get several visitors arriving here via his blog. This pleases me a lot.

See http://blog.g4ilo.com/

Poor propagation

Southgate News reports that we have been without sunspots now for a month.

See http://southgatearc.org/propagation/k7ra/index.htm#.XQU6mfZFy00

WRC 2023

The next WRC is later this year. One thing being discussed is a possible 50-54MHz amateur allocation in Region 1. At WRC 2023, France is expected to push for more aeronautical allocations around, or in, our 2m band.

See http://rsgb.org/main/files/2019/06/PTA19090R1-France_Proposal-on-non-safety-aeronautical-mobile-applications.pdf

Solar cycle 25 predictions

Already, I have mentioned the "expert predictions" for the next cycle. Based purely on my own views (often wrong!) I am beginning to side with the latest NOAA forecast which was published in April. This is forecasting a weak peak 2023-26 (similar to the last one) with the solar minimum between July 2019 and September 2020.

See https://earthsky.org/space/solar-cycle-25-likely-weak-according-to-predictions

Political leaders - NOT amateur radio

In the coming weeks, a few Conservative party members are voting to elect a new leader. As the ruling party, he will also be the new Prime Minister of the UK. On his shoulders will be the BREXIT negotiations.  People are banking on a strong leader who can negotiate strongly with the EU. Otherwise we crash out without agreement.

Politically, the UK is at a critical point.

New rig - still thinking

Even without cash discounts and with 100 euros cashback I can buy Yaesu rigs with the full 3 year warranty and VAT in Europe far cheaper than in the UK. The same price difference applies on other rigs too.

It begs the question why?

Cooked breakfast - NOT amateur radio

When away, I enjoy a cooked breakfast. This week, in Cheshire, was no exception. This was the breakfast at the Bear's Head in Brereton. Some will say it is unhealthy, but it fills you up for the day.

Life - NOT amateur radio

This is my "take" on things. Others may well see things differently.

At one time I had quite a strong Christian faith. These days I am far from certain about anything! Speaking purely for myself, I find all religions "too small" to encompass how I feel. All I am aware of is how little we know. Somehow, this particular human (i.e. me) finds the idea of non-existence hard to grasp. We remember nothing of before we were born, so why should we be bothered about what happens when we die? And yet.....

Perhaps we just cease to be. Perhaps somehow our consciousness lives on, however this world view seems odd when our cells cease to be.

The only thing we can say with any certainty is we just do not, and cannot, know. Any person who claims differently is telling him or her self delusions.

6m FT8

In the last 3 hours, 41 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX, many by Es. Best DX spotted on 6m FT8 RX was TA7OM (3092km).  My own CQ call earlier (2.5W)  was spotted by 7 G stations.

UPDATE 1106z: Now 130 stations in 19 countries spotted on 6m FT8 RX this morning as the map shows.

Stations spotted here on 6m 
FT8 RX to 1555z
UPDATE 1347z: Now 249 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX today with best DX spotted EK7DX (3590km).

UPDATE 1856z: Now 323 different stations spotted in the last day on 6m FT8 RX so far with best DX ZF1EJ (7761km) in the Cayman Is, Caribbean. Another good 6m day.  On a good Es day 6m can look like 20m.

Sunspots - Saturday June 15th 2019

Another spotless day.

Solar flus is 68 and the SSN 0. A=10 and K=3. Unless things dramatically change, we are still on the downwards slope I think.

14 Jun 2019

Gilbert and Sullivan

For those outside the UK, Gilbert and Sullivan created some famous comic operas in the late 19th century. A local village puts on a G&S production in a barn every year. It is invariably good. This year they did "The Grand Duke" a work I was not familiar with.

Oranges - NOT amateur radio

As some may recall, we went to Portugal last month. One of the joys was seeing oranges and lemons growing on trees. These, which may have been on before, were in Obidos.  As it has been raining in much of the UK for the last week, it helps to cheer us up!

Lime SDR and Oscar 100

Southgate News reports on the use of a Lime SDR as the basis for an Oscar 100 ground station.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2019/june/limesdr-mini-satellite-ground-station.htm#.XQNaGPZFy00

Sunspots - Friday June 14th 2019

Solar flux is 69 and the sunspot number still zero. This is, I think, the longest spotless period this minimum. A=7 and K=1.

Good night on 6m FT8 RX

The last 24 hours were the best (for me) this season with lots of EU stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX by Es. As well as these, 2 Caribbean stations and 6 North Americans were logged on 6m FT8 RX with just the V2000 omni vertical (see map of stations logged on 6m FT8 RX in the last day). In all 246 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX in the last day.

UPDATE 0948z: 14 EU stations so far spotted on 6m FT8 RX in the last 3 hours, many Es.

UPDATE 1712z: 58 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX in the last 12 hours.
6m FT8 RX spots here overnight

13 Jun 2019

Sibling reunion - NOT amateur radio

Another picture from our recent sibling reunion in Cheshire. This was a meal out in Knutsford. As mentioned yesterday, we have these get-togethers every year taking it in turns to act as hosts.



Proceeds from this rally ensure the continued operation of DMR repeater GB7MR. St Vincent de Paul's, Caldershaw Road, off Edenfield Road (A680), Norden, Rochdale OL12 7QR. Doors open to the public at 10.15am with disabled visitors gaining access 15 minutes earlier. Admission is £2.50 with those under 12 years free. £5 per pitch (for traders with own tables) or £10 for a pitch with table provided. Refreshments available including bacon and sausage butties. Further details: Robert, M0NVQ m0nvq@outlook.com or 07778113333.


Cheese & Grain venue, Market Yard, Bridge Street, Frome, Somerset BA11 1BE. Doors open 10am to 2pm. The event will feature inside & outside trade stands, RSGB book stall, cafe, disabled access & facilities, car parking. Further information from Shaun, G8VPG, on 01225 873 098, or email: rallymanager@westrally.org.uk www.westrally.org.uk.


INTU Braehead Centre, Glasgow. Doors open at 10 a.m. There are Traders, Radio Clubs and a Bring & Buy. Areas for clubs to operate from and talks and presentations will be running throughout the day. On-line exams are also available subject to prior notification. Refreshments and disabled facilities are available on-site. Contact info@asrarally.com or visit the website at www.asrarally.com. For more information call Tony Miles on 07702 134 188.