31 Jul 2019

2m FT8

As the day draws to a close, I decided to QSY to 2m FT8. Best DX on TX was GI6ATZ (479km).

UPDATE  2025z: Despite TXing OK on 2m FT8 I was puzzled why nothing was being received. After investigating I found an error in my settings. Once corrected, stations were received OK. I called (without success) a PA0, but the best spot was by EI3KD (583km) in southern Eire.

3 year old falls from high-rise and survives

This is the sort of horror story you watch and hope. Apparently the 3 year old was caught in a blanket and escaped without injury.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-asia-china-49175524/china-toddler-three-year-old-falls-six-storeys-and-survives

70cm FT8

The last time I tried 70cm FT8 the results were abysmal with no spots!  I can now run a bit more power on TX, so may well try again tomorrow (Thursday August 1st 2019).

If you want to give it a go, I should be on most of the day on 432.174MHz FT8. Some of the time I shall try TX. I think I shall try horizontal polarisation.

Bell flowers - NOT amateur radio

My wife has a way with plants. I just cut the grass and make a mess!

This bell flower (sorry I do not know the Latin name) is growing on our patio. At the moment, it is looking good.

Clematis - NOT amateur radio

A few weeks ago I accidentally cut back a clematis whilst pruning a plant nearby. The whole stem with flowers was cut back to the root stock. Thankfully it has quickly regrown.

In the long run this "heavy" pruning was probably a good thing. Hopefully, there will be some attractive flowers on it next year, if not this.

Pye PF1 transceivers

My first job in 1970 at Pye Telecommunications was to convert the PF1 transceiver to 12.5kHz channel spacing. I am pretty sure this was a test to see how I got on.

We used 995 signal generators at that time and, boy, did they drift! For the first hour or so they were unusable and you might as well drink coffee and wait.

The PF1 was a 2 unit UHF transceiver widely used by the UK police in the  late 1960s. Some were converted to 70cms. I remember putting a 2m super-regen RX in a PF1 RX case.

This challenge was set by Mike Gotch who was later G0IMG (now SK). Apparently Mike was a pirate in his early days. In later years he was a keen 6m man.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/pf1
See also http://www.pyetelecomhistory.org/

6m FT8

As the storm risk locally is low, I am about to turn on 6m FT8, mostly RX. It is getting late in the Es season, so it will be interesting to see what comes through.

UPDATE 1019z: Initially I went on TX with 12 spots of me. My best spot was by OY1OF (1163km). On 6m FT8 RX just 3 spots so far with best being F6HGB (985km). Certainly not much early Es here today.

UPDATE 1122z: Now 7 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX today. Best DX spotted is OH8BXT (1916km).

UPDATE 1255z: Now 15 stations spotted today on 6m FT8 RX.

Sunspots - Wednesday July 31st 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the SSN 0. A=8 and K=3.  Still poor.

30 Jul 2019

Politics - NOT amateur radio

Although I am not basically a political animal, the shift to the right in many countries bothers me. I well know that socialism does not hold all the answers, but extremism can so easily morph into fascism and hate.

In my view, we need moderate governments in which the will of the people is well represented. In many countries there is a knee-jerk reaction to the parties on the right that promise a lot, and which mostly cannot be fulfilled.

Simple regen RX

On my main website is the circuit of a very simple regen RX. I think mine was on 40m, but the same idea would work on most LF and MF bands. At higher frequencies the drift might be excessive. It is hard to make something simpler that will hear as much.

I seem to recall the late G3RJV (SK) referring to this in a PW magazine column some years ago.

There is a bigger schematic on the website. Click it and the image is bigger.

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

See also https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/feter-80m-qrpp-cw-transceiver

6m FT8

As the storm risk was low here, I reconnected the rig, PSU and PC. At the moment the worst storms are further north.

12 reports of my CQ (no QSOs) and 15 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX. Best DX spot on TX was 9A5CW (1253km).

UPDATE  1555z: "One swallow does not make a summer", as they say, but it is getting late in the Es season and the only Es here today on 6m FT8 RX is from the north. I said before that my unscientific observations were that late openings seem to favour more northerly stations. Yes, we'll still see southern Europe, but it will be interesting to see if northern Europeans predominate.

UPDATE 2030z:  Now QRT. In all, 18 stations spotted today on 6m FT8 RX.

Why? - NOT amateur radio

My home insurance reminder came through last week. It was far higher than last year. So, I did the same thing as last year and gave the same company a ring.

Next year's premium is now slightly less than this year. I guess they work on the assumption most people just pay. Personally, I think this is stupid and immoral. Surely it is in their interest to keep loyal customers who rarely, if ever, make a claim.

This is a silly, stupid, game.

Low thunder risk here

At the moment the Met Office weather forecast is showing no thunderstorms hereabouts today. I shall probably reconnect my shack PC and antennas shortly.

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

Sunspots - Tuesday July 30th 2019

Solar flux is 65 and the SSN 0. A=4 and K=1. Still bad - I suspect this is very close to sunspot minimum.

29 Jul 2019

Hackers? - NOT amateur radio

Periodically, visits to this site shoot up, then die down again. I am sure this is not a sudden interest in amateur radio. More likely it is hackers doing their regular probing. As I have said before, I hope they go away.

6m FT8

So far today, 19 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX. I have not yet been on TX.

UPDATE 1445z: 128 stations spotted so far in the last half day, all Europeans.

UPDATE 2042z: Still 128 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX today. Soon be time to go QRT.

Sliding UK pound - NOT amateur radio

Perhaps it is not too surprising with a no-deal BREXIT possible with the Conservative right wing government led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the UK pound is sliding against major currencies.

In my view (others are free to disagree) we are being run by a bunch of total idiots. The sooner there is a General Election and a second referendum on leaving the EU the better.

Although I voted to remain in the EU in 2016, I can see a lot wrong with that institution. In my view, the EU needs reforming or it will fragment. The EU is doing itself no favours by carrying on as it does. This could turn even more people against the EU, which it can ill afford to do.

The UK has always (at least in my day) wanted free trade, but ultimate control of our laws and who lives and works here. Personally, I can see nothing wrong with that. No-one wants a hard border in Ireland, ever. We have never sought political union. Yes, we should come together for defence and good trade deals.

In my view, the EU needs to be more flexible. Sour grapes?

Coming back from York on the train - NOT amateur radio

On Saturday we returned from York by train. It was cheaper to come back first class than second! On LNER we had nice seats, free food and free drinks.

Amateur satellites

In all my time in amateur radio I have only had 1 QSO through a satellite and that was many years ago from 10m to 15m. I have rarely used low orbit satellites. In my early days I had fun listening to the download frequencies of Oscar 6 and 7. I recall hearing North Americans on 2m on late passes.

Sunspots - Monday July 29th 2019

Solar flux is 65 and the SSN 0.  A=4 and K=2.  Basically rubbish.

28 Jul 2019

6m propagation from Europe to Australia

When I first heard of this I was sceptical, but the more I read the more I think this is true.

Apparently several stations were worked, so this very unlikely to be pirates. This appears to be E layer propagation, but multi-hop Es seems to be very unlikely. I am sure some of these long "real DX" paths are not multi-hop Es. As this was at the same time as a 6m opening to Japan on 6m, there is some speculation that this is whatever E layer propagation gets to Japan plus some TEP.

See southgatearc.org/news/2019/july/unusual-opening-from-europe-to-australia-on-50-mhz.htm

See also https://ei7gl.blogspot.com/2019/07/unusual-50-mhz-opening-from-australia.html

Oscar 100 - geosynchronous amateur satellite

As many will recall, I take the occasional peek at the Goonhilly web SDR, which monitors the narrowband transponder on Es'hail satellite, also known as Oscar 100.

In my view activity seems lower than a month ago. Certainly activity is not great and has definitely not increased as I once expected. Looking just now on a Saturday afternoon, the most I saw were 5 stations active on SSB at one time. By now I was quite expecting the main issue to be too many stations, possibly overloading the transponder.

It seems people have fun getting a signal through the satellite, then lose interest.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

Scrabble - NOT amateur radio

It was a dull, wet day today, so we played Scrabble with the grandchildren. Our younger granddaughter kept score. She is better this time! The last time she played she forgot to record some scores.

Where I come from - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows where I come from in South Devon. It is a very beautiful and unspoilt part of the UK.

Pye PF8 transceiver

In its day, this was a "state of the art" transceiver made by Pye Telecom. One of my early jobs was being part of the design team for this. We had all sorts of issues with the DC-DC converter noise. On my website is a PDF of the manual which may help some who convert these to 70cm amateur use.

They are quite rare and hard to find. Before you ask, I do not have one and do not know where to find one! Your best chance is on eBay I guess.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/pf8

6m FT8

So far this morning, 11 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX in the last 6 hours. As I write it is 0848z. So, early Es on 6m.

UPDATE 1413z: Now 54 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX today.

UPDATE 2000z: Now 71 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX today. All European and just one Moroccan spotted.

UPDATE 2040z: Although it is unlikely I shall spot much overnight, I am still on 6m FT8 RX, in the (slim) hope of a late opening or very early Es tomorrow.

Sunspots - Sunday July 28th 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the sunspot number 0.  A=5 and K=2.

27 Jul 2019

Early logbooks

On my main website are some of my early logbooks. These are available as PDF files. These copies were made years ago. I have no idea why only some are there. Perhaps I was unable to locate some at that time. This must have been 12 years ago or more.

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

York Chocolate Story - NOT amateur radio

One of the things we did in York with the grandchildren was go on a one hour tour called "The York Chocolate Story". It was very good. At the end of the tour the little ones got to make chocolate lollipops.

Overall, the stay in York was very successful with the little ones having a very good time. For the first few days it was very hot, with high temperatures, although we had rain and (a bit) cooler weather on the last couple of days.

Back on 6m FT8

For the last few days, we have been in York with 2 of our grandchildren.  Since returning home I have been on 6m FT8. This has been mostly RX, although a brief CQ got no 2-way QSOs, but was spotted by 6 stations including 3 in eastern Europe. On RX 21 stations spotted with the best being 9K2YM (4714km) in Kuwait.

UPDATE 2124z: Now 31 stations spotted since we returned mid-afternoon.

Sunspots - Saturday July 27th 2019

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN 0.  A=3 and K =1

26 Jul 2019

York - NOT amateur radio

This street is the shortest in York but it has the longest name.

Rallies this Sunday


Kington Langley Village Hall & playing fields, Church Road, Kington Langley, Chippenham SN15 5NJ. 9am-1pm (disabled: 8.30am), admission £2. Car boot sale, catering, flea market, talk-in, trade stands. For more information, please visit our website or use the contact form to register your interest in booking trading space. Operated and run by CDARC. Brian Tanner, G6HUI, ‪0772 224 2741‬rally@g3vre.org.uk.


Horncastle Youth Centre. Horncastle, Lincolnshire LN9 6DZ. This will be the last radio rally at the Horncastle Youth Centre as the county council are closing the building and a new venue is being sought. Entry is £2 and the doors open at 10am. All on one level. Refreshments are available. Contact Tony Nightingale, G3ZPU on ‪01507 527835‬ or by email to Tony.nightingale@yahoo.co.uk.

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

Sunspots - Friday July 26th 2019

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN 0. A=3 and K=0.

25 Jul 2019

More spectrum available to share

OFCOM today announced that additional spectrum is expected to be made available. See OFCOM's website for more details. As far as I can tell this is just certain microwave bands.

Heat - NOT amateur radio

In the UK we are not used to the heat. In London it has been in the high 30s.

Grandchildren - NOT amateur radio

This was 2 of our grandchildren enjoying ice-cream yesterday.

DXpedition to St Paul Is

There is a DXpedition to St Paul Island off Canada at the end of the month and early August. There is a piece on Southgate News about this.

Sunspots - Thursday July 25th 2019

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

24 Jul 2019

Storm risk

We had thunder and lightning here last night but the storm risks have, for the moment, decreased as they have moved further east.

Sunspots - Wednesday July 24th 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the SSN 0 . A=6 and K=2

23 Jul 2019

Thunder risks

Over the next few days it is expected to get very hot in the UK. So hot that records could well be broken. With this can be a risk of thunderstorms, so I am QRT at the moment "just in case". The risks may be low, but I tend to disconnect antennas and power plugs.

See https://www.lightningmaps.org/?lang=en#m=oss;t=2;s=0;o=0;b=;ts=0;y=43.5804;x=3.999;z=5;d=2;dl=2;dc=0;

Yet more houses - NOT amateur radio

It seems that every spare space in our village is used to build new homes. There are very few homes that "ordinary" folks can afford. This is a common story in many parts of the UK. Most being built are "executive" homes i.e. those that give the highest profits for the developers.

"Our" windmill - NOT amateur radio

This video was taken from our lounge window earlier.

6m FT8 Es DX

At the moment (simply as it is convenient) I continue to monitor 6m FT8 RX. Already at 0800z there is plenty of Es DX coming through from southern Europe. So far, in the last 6 hours, 15 stations spotted.

UPDATE 0840z: A single 15 second CQ brought 8 spots with the best being CT1ILT (1436km).

UPDATE 1043z: Now 45 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX in the last 6 hours, many by Es. All Europeans.

UPDATE 1525z: Supposedly TU2EZ (5209km) spotted. This could be genuine, but most of his spots were in the UK, so I am suspicious.

6m FT8 RX 
spots here today
UPDATE 1852z: A recent CQ resulted in spots from all over southern Europe. My best spot was by CU2GI (2575km) in the Azores. So far today, 193 stations spotted, mostly Europeans by Es. Now QRT as we may have lightning later.

Es (sporadic E) propagation

Although in the northern hemisphere this tends to be best around May-August, it can occur at any time of the year bringing huge ranges on the VHF bands.  There tends to be a smaller peak around December-January.

Southgate News has a link to a piece on Es. In my view, despite having experience of Es since (at least) the 1930s, the world still has much to learn about it.

See https://www.electronics-notes.com/articles/antennas-propagation/ionospheric/sporadic-e-es.php

Sunspots - Tuesday July 23rd 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the SSN 11. A=8 and K=1.

22 Jul 2019

Swifts - NOT amateur radio

Swifts are gathering in great numbers. This evening there must have been 50 or more on the wing eating insects on the wing over our heads. Many must be this year's youngsters. In about a month most will be gone. The screaming will stop one day and we will realise the great migration has happened. It amazes me that these birds fly so far every year. Then we will have to wait until next April to see them again.

French animal deaths - NOT amateur radio

It seems (according to the BBC) that animals in France are dying in numbers far higher than expected for unknown reasons. Some of these deaths are near wind farms and mobile phone masts. Research has so far been inconclusive. It is odd and unexplained.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/video_and_audio/headlines/49045742/mystery-surrounds-animal-deaths-on-france-s-farms

The next US president? - NOT amateur radio

Here is a puzzle. Enough people in the USA loved President Trump to get him elected whereas almost everywhere outside the USA he is viewed as a fool and incompetent.

It is honestly true that I have interacted with not a single person outside the USA that has a good word for him. Truly. Perhaps his "make America great again" mantra finds favour in the USA. Perhaps he will even get a second term in office.

There seems a great lack of real leaders in the world currently. Most seem to seek power for their own good rather than because they seek a greater good and are great statesmen. Given time, I hope this will change.

We need leaders with vision to see beyond their own self interest to the greater good of their nations and the world.

Great Es on 6m

Currently I am on 6m FT8 RX and there is a great Es opening, if not the best this summer. Although it is only 0853z 113 stations from all over Europe already copied.

Sunspots - Monday July 22nd 2019

Solar flux remains stubbornly at 67 and the sunspot number still 0. A=8 and K=2.

This feels, very much like sunspot minimum. At least we can look forward to better times, if not the great times of 60-70 years ago.

21 Jul 2019

New friend? - NOT amateur radio

My daughter-in-law and 2 of our grandchildren are staying with friends in Suffolk.

Our granddaughter seems to have made a new friend that comes every time she calls it! Earlier in a video chat it sat on her shoulder then the phone!

Es' Hail satellite

As many will recall, I occasionally look at the activity on this geosynchronous satellite using the Goonhilly web SDR. As far as I can tell, activity levels are much the same as a few months ago. Some new people have come and some have gone. Most times there are around 6-8 active stations. At the moment I am not inclined to assemble gear for Oscar 100.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

Surprise visitor - NOT amateur radio

We had a surprise visitor on our washing line. It was a large dragonfly.

As soon as my wife went for the better camera it flew off!  😖

Another 50th wedding photo - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday, I mentioned that we had been to the 50th wedding anniversary celebrations of our delightful neighbours. Here is another photo.

Sunspots - Sunday July 21st 2019

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

6m FT8

Good Es this morning on 6m. My brief CQ was spotted by 16 stations (no QSOs) as far away as Sardinia. On 6m FT8 RX 19 stations from all over Europe copied so far in the last few minutes.

UPDATE 0848z: 36 stations so far spotted this morning on 6m FT8 RX. My theory about most Es openings late in the season being to northern Europe is being tested! 😕

UPDATE 1400z: Now 158 stations spotted today on 6m FT8 RX with best DX being N4BP (7118km) in Florida, USA. A good day on 6m.

UPDATE 1614z: Now 206 stations spotted today on 6m FT8 RX. Just recently, Israel spotted.

UPDATE 1802z: Now 280 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX today in 4 continents.

20 Jul 2019

Es (sporadic E) super DX

OK, I may be wrong, but to me multi-hop (lots of hops) Es does not seem to fit with some of the "real DX" being worked on 10m and 6m.

Some of the paths being worked would need 5-6 hops or more. To me, it seems far more probable these very long paths depend on some sort of chordal hop between patches of E layer ionisation without the intermediate hops. Of course, multi-hops are possible in some cases, but I am sure these are the exceptions. For European DX on 10m and 6m I am sure 1 and 2 hop Es is likely in the summer months.

Neighbours 50th wedding anniversary celebrations - NOT amateur radio

This lunchtime we joined about 70 other people at a local garden centre for food and drinks to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of our next door neighbour. It was a happy, unfussy occasion.

2m AM rig

Many years ago I used a homebrew 2m AM rig. It was about 500mW out from memory. When I bought a second-hand Liner-2 SSB rig it was abandoned. I think it was scrapped for parts. I think the meter is still being used today as part of an antenna current meter on 630m! I can see an old Pye Telecom PF2AMB speaker/mic.

For several months I had a regular sked on CW with G5UM who was about 80km away. As I recall I used an external 455kHz "gimmick" BFO to resolve him. On RX the oscillator drifted! On AM it mattered little. He always gave me 559.

The rig was crystal controlled on TX.  It had a metal case covered in wood effect fablon. For its time, it was a decent rig and got me to France in a lift. Happy days!

2m FT8 RX

Until just now I have been on 2m FT8 RX with the big-wheel omni antenna. I am at the moment QRT, but 9 stations spotted here in the last hour on 2m FT8 RX with best DX spotted being DL6YBF (471km).

UPDATE 1524z: Back on 2m FT8. A recent CQ call resulted in no QSOs, but I was spotted in Devon by G4RRA (333km) and Cornwall  by G7RAU (461km). In all, 12 stations spotted me.

UPDATE 1642z: 13 stations in 4 countries spotted in the last few hours on 2m FT8 RX with best DX being DF6PW (562km).

UPDATE 1825z: 38 stations spotted on 2m FT8 RX in the last half day including 5 Germans.

UPDATE  2040z: Soon be time to go QRT. In all today 48 different stations spotted on 2m FT8 RX.

Why? - NOT amateur radio

Earlier today this photo from 2012 popped up. It was taken at our old house.

Neither my wife nor I can remember why I should be holding what looks like a young long tailed tit. OK it was 7 years ago, but you'd think something would be triggered!

Sunspots - Saturday July 20th 2019

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

19 Jul 2019

Rainbow Lorikeets - NOT amateur radio

At the moment, our younger grandson is in Australia seeing his Australian grandparents. He is mad on rainbow lorikeets. As the photo shows, he is in his element!

Moon landing - NOT amateur radio

Like most people of a certain age, I can remember precisely where I was when Man first landed on the Moon 50 years ago tomorrow. In some ways it feels like yesterday, although it was before I had started work.

And to think how little computing power they had! Looking back, these were very very brave men. It seems amazing that we have not been back to the moon since 1972.

Old radio amateur

This morning I had a visit from an old work colleague (now 94). It must be 30 years since we last met. Eric was first interested in amateur radio in 1937!! He was a D-day veteran who was recently on TV.

In the photo that I am holding he met the Prince of Wales, who could soon be our next king. Eric is a very modest person. He came out with his daughter, who is also like her dad. She was great.

Eric is as sharp as ever mentally.

Emu in garden? - NOT amateur radio

Certainly last year, we encountered this strange sight in the next village: 2 emus in a garden with the chickens! I guess the owners wanted the eggs. They were there for several years, although I have not checked this year.

6m FT8

In the last 6 hours 19 stations in 6 countries spotted on 6m FT8 RX. There is some Es to Sweden and southern Europe.

UPDATE 1458z: Now 41 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX today. Most were Europeans via Es, but my best was KP4EIT (6834km) in Puerto Rico in the Caribbean.

UPDATE 1750z: 54 stations spotted today on 6m FT8 RX. A very brief CQ was spotted in Sweden.

Sunspots - Friday July 19th 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the SSN is still 0. A=7 and K=1.

18 Jul 2019

Wisdom - NOT amateur radio

Honestly, with my hand on my heart, I have not met anybody outside of the USA that has a good word to say about President Trump. Within the USA he may be liked, but outside he is very disliked.

What never fails to amaze me is why so many Americans voted for him. He comes over as an idiotic bigot. I am not saying he is, but one can be forgiven for thinking he is. I heard his pronunciation of Namibia recently. Surely the president of the most powerful nation on the planet cannot be this ignorant?

So tell me, oh wise one, exactly where is Nambia?

Apples - NOT amateur radio

We have had a decent summer. It has been moderately sunny, but not the unbearable heat we had last year. The apples on the trees are ripening as are the plums.  The photo shows the apples in the lane leading up to "our" windmill.



The Hurst Communications Centre, Belton Road , Sandtoft, Doncaster DN8 5SX. Doors open 10am. Free parking. Massive indoor / outdoor traders area with major traders and club stalls from microwave components to QRP kits. Hot food and drinks all day. Admission £3. Contact Kevin G3AAF on 07831 614640 or email Kevin.Avery@tunstall.com.

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

Brittany circus - NOT amateur radio

As some may recall, my wife and I spent a few days with our French "outlaws" in northern Brittany. These are our son's French in-laws. We had a lovely few days there.

On one of our trips we passed this circus complete with strange animals.

6m FT8

It is 0825z. I am about to go on 6m FT8. At first it will probably be RX only although I might try TX later.

Dangerous storms seem a very long way away.

UPDATE 0840z: As there was no Es evident here, I called CQ. No QSOs resulted but reports from 12 stations with my best DX report coming from G7RAU (461km) in Cornwall. All reports were from Gs. Still using the V2000 vertical omni antenna.

UPDATE 1107z: Now 10 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX. Interestingly just a couple of Finns copied by Es. Seems to re-enforce my view that more northerly stations seem to dominate later in the Es season.

UPDATE 1512z: 22 stations spotted including 3 which are probably Es, all in a NE direction.

UPDATE 1843z: Now 31 stations in 4 countries spotted on 6m FT8 RX today.  All of these are G or NE Europe.

Sunspots - Thursday July 18th 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the SSN still zero. A=7 and K=1. Still the pits!

17 Jul 2019

YouTube puzzle

Today I had an email from someone who could not access a YouTube video of mine referenced in my recent RSGB RadCom article. When I first tried it said "video unavailable". I tried again typing the link in the article and all was fine. It said the video had had 240 views.

The person tried 3 times again without success. So I tried again, this time as my wife with her ID on her iPad, typing in the precise link in the RadCom article. No problems except it now said 2416 views!

So, I am totally baffled why the views seem to differ so much and why there should be access issues. By the way, I checked the video was definitely "public" and not "private" or "unlisted". All very odd.

2m FT8

About 25 minutes ago I switched from 6m FT8 to 2m FT8. My 2m FT8 CQ call was spotted by 12 stations in 4 countries with the best DX being a spot by GI6ATZ (479km) near Belfast. Antenna is still the big-wheel omni.

On RX 5 stations so far spotted with best DX being DO9JF (560km) in the Saar area of Germany.

2m FT8 RX in the last 
few hours to 1924z.
UPDATE 1924z: 48 stations in 6 countries spotted in the last 6 hours on 2m FT8 RX and 19 stations spotted my 2m FT8 TX CQ. 2 QSOs resulted. At the moment I am RX only.

UPDATE 2107z: Now 50 stations in 6 countries spotted on 2m FT8 RX today with best DX spotted DJ6AG (689km). Soon be time to go QRT and unplug things.

UPDATE 2120z: Now QRT.

Es to northern Europe

In an earlier post I mentioned that more northerly stations seemed to be more predominant later in the Es season. This is based on nothing scientific, but 6m FT8 RX results today are predominantly from northern Europe.

If this observation is true I have absolutely no idea why. Regarding E layer propagation, I am sure there is a lot still to learn, especially regarding "real DX", by which I mean really long distances outside Europe such as to Japan, the Caribbean or North America. 

In my view multi-hop Es does not fit these "real DX" cases. I may be wrong.

Moorhen - NOT amateur radio

We visit nearby Anglesey Abbey most months. This moorhen was on the mill leet.

New release of WSJT-X with FT4

According to Southgate News there is new release of this free software that includes FT4. I shall have to download it as I was waiting for the fully released version.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2019/july/new-wsjt-x-with-ft4-released.htm

6m FT8

Although it is only 0850z, quite a bit of Es on 6m. As I suggested in an earlier post, more northerly stations seem more abundant.  Best DX on 6m FT8 RX is LA1PHA (1704km).

UPDATE 1215z: So far today 73 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX.

Getting older - NOT amateur radio

In December I am 71 years old. In some ways the teenage, carefree, days feel like just yesterday, although they were a long time ago.

I am aware of my age and that I can no longer do some of the things I once could. They say, "live in the moment", but that is sometimes hard to do. On the whole, I have had a good life. Yes, like everyone, there have been good times and bad.

All I can advise is do what you can. Milk life like there is no tomorrow. Be kind to people and consider how they feel whether 8 or 80.

FT-991A web page

I have owned the FT-991A for a few weeks now, so have created a webpage. As time goes by, I hope to add more stuff.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/ft991a

Sunspots - Wednesday July 17th 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the sunspot number 0. A=7 and K=1.

16 Jul 2019

Hedge trimming time - NOT amateur radio

It is fair to say I am knackered! This year seemed far harder than last.

This morning, I trimmed the front laurel hedge, although I have still to do the far side and sweep up all the cuttings. Usually I do it once or twice a year. Although I have a cordless hedge-cutter, I find the mains powered one better for this job.

70cm threat?

Many do not realise it, but parts of the 70cm amateur band are shared with other services. Already there are some transceivers (licence free) that operate at low power at 70cm.

Southgate News has a piece about adding a transceiver module to a smartphone that gives communications at longer ranges than wi-fi . It operates at ISM frequencies at 433 and 915MHz.

The photo shows a typical 433MHz LORA module. There are plenty on the internet. The one on the Southgate link was 100mW.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2019/july/adding-lora-long-range-radio-to-smartphones-and-connected-devices.htm

UK pound losing value - NOT amateur radio

Perhaps this is to be expected with all the uncertainty over BREXIT, but the UK pound is losing value against major currencies.

My view is Boris Johnson will be elected leader of the Conservative Party and UK Prime Minister. He will try to get better terms from the EU and fail. There will be a vote of no-confidence in the government, which will be lost. There will be a general election with a coalition between Labour and the Lib-Dems. Another referendum will be held and we will vote to stay in the EU. Of course I could be very wrong!

Garden flowers - NOT amateur radio

From the sound of it, my brother in Devon has had far less rain than us. His lawns are already brown, whereas ours are still largely green. The photo shows the flowers on our patio earlier.

Rant time - NOT amateur radio

Recently my wife bought some granola from a local shop. Despite a good look we could see NOTHING about recycling. There was lots about birds and bees on the pack. In this day and age this is stupid and inexcusable.

In my view all supermarkets should tell their suppliers to make all packages compostable or recyclable or no business. They have the power and should use it.

6m FT8

In the last 3 hours 4 stations spotted on 6m FT8 this morning with best DX being YO7YM (1927km).

UPDATE 1032z: Widespread Es on 6m FT8 RX today with 72 stations spotted right across Europe.

UPDATE 1925z: Now 102 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX with best DX LA8ORF (2009km).

Sunspots - Tuesday July 16th 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the SSN 0. A=7 and K=1.

15 Jul 2019

In Australia - NOT amateur radio

One of my sons is with his family staying with the Australian grandparents.

The photo shows one of our grandsons with the local birdlife.

I think you will agree that it is a happy, colourful picture.

DXCC countries

According to Southgate News there are 213 active countries. I am not an active DXCC chaser, but I am probably at about 150 DXCC countries worked mostly with QRP.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2019/july/dxcc-report-1507.htm

Giddy, exhausted, fog - NOT amateur radio

Many times I have tried to explain just how I feel.

Outwardly I look fine. Inside it is a constant struggle with near continuous giddiness and exhaustion and living in a kind of fog. What few realise is just appearing "normal" takes vast amounts of energy. My voice is poor and just doing ordinary things is now hard. Eating food and drinking I am desperately trying not to spill things or choke.

Although I still drive, I no longer enjoy it as the mental concentration is immense.

Whereas at one time I felt as if I was getting better, I no longer think this is the case. Many are far worse than me. To use a Yorkshire phrase "mustn't grumble". However, life is tough.

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

Facebook issues? - NOT amateur radio

Now, this could just be me! Recently using Windows 10 Edge I seem to get Facebook notifications at the top of the page, but when I click them, to see what they are, nothing (any longer) happens. In the past  I clicked and could see everything. Intentionally, nothing has been changed. It is possible that accidentally something has been clicked "off" when it should be "on".

Am I alone or have others noticed this? With Android, I see no such issues.

Also, I seem unable to post to Facebook from Windows 10 Edge, but all works fine with Firefox.

Cricket - NOT amateur radio

OK, cricket does not normally "grab" me. Yesterday, the BBC website had over 40 million hits for the final day of the cricket world cup. I was one of them. To say it was the most exciting day in British sports history is perhaps no exaggeration. The last few balls were like nothing else I had ever experienced.  England beat New Zealand, but it was so very close.

I was unaware it was live on terrestrial TV on Channel 4. Next year I believe the BBC is showing live cricket again after a break of many years. I hope the profile of cricket rises as a result of yesterday's game.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/live/cricket/48986939

2m super DX

Southgate News passes on some news of a blog post by EI7GL about some quite astonishing 2m DX QSOs.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2019/july/144-mhz-cape-verde-islands-to-italy.htm

Cirl buntings - NOT amateur radio

Some of these are seen in the UK, but I saw several in Brittany. They are in the same family as yellow hammers. In the UK they are at their current range limit, although with climate change they will probably spread further north.

See https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/cirl-bunting/

Brittany memories - NOT amateur radio

We have been back home a few days now and our stay in Brittany with our son's in-laws is fast becoming a distant memory.

We had a great time and the weather was so good when we were there.

The collage is a good memory jogger.

6m FT8

At the moment I am on 6m FT8 RX. So far today, 10 stations in 3 countries spotted with best DX on 6m FT8 RX being LB6D (1030km) in Norway. Later I may try TX.

UPDATE 1106z: A brief CQ was widely copied in England, but there was no Es at the time. The map shows where my CQ was spotted on 6m FT8 TX. Using the V2000 vertical omni antenna at 1106z.

UPDATE 1142z: 15 stations in 4 countries spotted so far today on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1255z:  My recent 6m FT8 CQ call was copied by 15 stations with 1 QSO with G4VXE (136km). Earlier I was called by a station in JO00 square.

UPDATE 1827z: Now 24 stations in 4 countries spotted today on 6m FT8 RX here. The impression I get over several Es summers is the openings to the north get better later in the summer. As I say, this is my impression and has no scientific basis. I'd be interested to know if others have the same impression. Openings to the south of Europe still occur.

Sunspots - Monday July 15th 2019

Solar flux is 66 today and the SSN 0. A=6 and K=1.

UPDATE 1430z: Latest figures I have are solar flux 66 and SSN 0. A=5 and K=3.

14 Jul 2019

6m FT8

For the last few hours I switched to 6m FT8. My CQ was spotted by 19 stations in 3 countries with best DX being a spot by G4RAA (333km) in Devon. On 6m FT8 RX there seems to be no Es evident with MW0CSO (243km) being the best DX spotted here this afternoon.

UPDATE 1715z: Now 30 stations spotted in 10 countries spotted today on 6m FT8 RX with best DX spotted being EA7ARG (1746km).

UPDATE 2010z: Now 39 stations in 14 countries (all EU) spotted on 6m FT8 RX today.

2m and the IARU

Southgate News has a piece today about the IARU and 2m. Several national societies have expressed concern about the French WRC 2023 proposal to reallocate the band to aeronautical mobile services.

2m FT8 RX today

This morning I am on 2m FT8 RX. So far today, 32 stations spotted in 6 countries with the best DX DK1FG in Bavaria (815km). These could be tropo or aircraft reflections. There are probably some of each. Signal levels suggest most are tropo. Still using the big-wheel horizontal omni antenna.

House martin nests - NOT amateur radio

There were several nests over the bakers where we stayed in Brittany.  I am pretty sure these are house martins judging by the tail of the adult.

Our garden in Brittany - NOT amateur radio

This was our host's garden in Brittany. Vast!

Sunspots - Sunday July 14th 2019

Solar flux is just 66 and the sunspot number still 0. A=6 and K=2. Pathetic again.

Dinard airport - NOT amateur radio

We flew back from Brittany yesterday from Dinard. This is a very small airport. Getting through it was easy unlike London Stansted! Despite having only cabin bags we faced a HUGE queue for passport control. At one time years ago Stansted was a small and intimate airport.

13 Jul 2019

OFCOM consulting on mobile repeaters

OFCOM is consulting on mobile phone repeaters.  Please see their website.

With our Brittany hosts - NOT amateur radio

We are now back home after a great few days in Brittany with our son's French mother and father-in-law. They live at Le Vivier-sur-Mer not far from Concale and St Malo.

The photo shows us with them a few days ago in St Malo.

2m FT8

Stations spotting me on 2m 
FT8 since I got home.
As I have just returned from Brittany, I have gone on 2m FT8. My initial CQ call was widely copied as far as Germany. Now I am RX only.

Sunspots - Saturday July 13th 2019

Solar flux is 66 and the SSN 0. A=8 and K =1.

12 Jul 2019

Tiny snails - NOT amateur radio

We saw these snails near the sea on the north coast of Brittany today.

Brittany yesterday - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday we went for a walk with our hosts. This is the view. The coast is pretty good.

Rallies this Sunday

The following rallies are on this Sunday:

Penair School, St Clements, Truro TR1 1TN. Doors open 10.30am until 4pm. There will be trade stands and a Bring & Buy. Catering is available on site. Contact Mike Halloway on ‪01209 211 069‬, email mike.g1nrf@hotmail.com.

Reading Rugby Football Club, Sonning Lane, Sonning on Thames. RG4 6ST. Doors open 9.30am to 3.30pm, admission £3. Car boot sale pitches £10 (setup from 7:30). There will be trade stands and exhibition displays. Catering is available on site as well as a bar. More from Min, G0JMS on ‪07917 830 410‬ or by email to G0JMS@RADARC.ORGwww.mcmichaelrally.org.uk

St Joseph's Hall, Mather Lane, Leigh, WN7 2PR. Free car parking, all on one level halls. Doors open 10.30am (traders 8am). Bring and Buy, RSGB bookstall, refreshments, bar. Details from Colin M0IQY on ‪07419363131‬ or on manchesterradiorally@gmail.com.

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

Sunspots - Friday July 12th 2019

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

OFCOM Annual Report and Accounts

No doubt you will join me in being extatic over the OFCOM Annual Report and Accounts for last year now available on their website. I cannot contain my joy 😂!!

11 Jul 2019

Sunspots - Thursday July 11th 2019

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

10 Jul 2019

St Malo, Brittany - NOT amateur radio

The picture shows some of the boats in the harbour this morning.

Sunspots - Wednesday July 10th 2019

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

9 Jul 2019

Brittany - NOT amateur radio

This is the house where we are staying for a few days with our son's in-laws.

70cm UKAC

A reminder that the 70cm UKAC activity contest is on now.

Sunspots - Tuesday July 9th 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the SSN 0.  A=9 and K=3.

8 Jul 2019

6m FT8 today

Yet again, I am on 6m FT8 RX at the moment. There are lots of EU stations being spotted by Es. As yet, no "real DX"  being spotted here. At the moment, my small system is not copying as much (30 stations) as I did with JT65. My antenna is just the V2000 omni vertical fed with CB coax.

UPDATE 1709z: Now 101 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX today.

Micronations - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday I discovered the Savage Islands.  Today I have discovered that there is a Wiki about small nations. Some appear to have been created by cranks. Fun to read!

See https://micronations/wiki

Sunspots - Monday July 8th 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the SSN 12.  A=5 and K=3.

7 Jul 2019

Savage Islands - NOT amateur radio

Until a chance finding on Google I never know these islands existed! I am not sure if these are the Dry Salvages (the English name) in T.S. Eliot's "Four Quartets". I had always thought these were off the N.E. USA.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savage_Islands

Later, I consulted Wikipedia and confirmed that T.S.Eliot was referring to a rock formation off Cape Ann, Massachusetts.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dry_Salvages

Hanging baskets - NOT amateur radio

We have 2 hanging baskets, but they need lots of water as they can easily dry out.

They look good when healthy, but you have to be prepared to water them often. Often a feed does them good too. I am no expert!

6m FT8 RX

One of the beauties of FT8 RX is I can leave the rig on and monitor what is coming through on any PC anywhere. My reception is on the FT991A with WSJT-X (free) on the PC and spots are automatically uploaded to PSKreporter maps, so I can see there is a lot of EU Es DX on 6m at the moment.

UPDATE 1452z: Quite a few Europeans spotted plus a couple of Canadian stations on 6m FT8 RX today. 173 stations spotted in total so far today.

UPDATE 1953z: At the moment 186 stations spotted today on 6m FT8 RX. It is only early July, but I am sure there is less "real DX" this year. No South Americans copied this year and no Far East. Caribbean, North America, Middle East and Europe copied OK. Just seems less this year than last. I may be wrong.

VHF NFD this weekend

Usually I just forget, but this year we have a visitor, so I cannot go on. This weekend is VHF NFD in the UK.

Years ago I took part in VHF NFD with the Pye Group from the Quantocks in Somerset and were 2nd I think. This would have been in the 1970s.  I joke that there is still a very rusty Kingshill PSU up there somewhere under the heather! We slept in tents and getting the gear up there was a logistical nightmare! On my own it would not be my idea of fun, so I have great respect for SOTA operators who activate rare peaks.

There are lots of well equipped stations with big antennas on hilltops for VHF NFD, so it is a good chance to work some new squares. I think (but check the rules) it covers the VHF and UHF bands up to 23cm.

Sunspots - Sunday July 7th 2019

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

6 Jul 2019

Cambridge punts - NOT amateur radio

Cambridge is famous for its punts. Today we had some drama as it rained and all the umbrellas went up. Someone lost his punt and dived in (did he realise how shallow it is?) and there was a crash into a wall.

Cambridge - NOT amateur radio

As we have been in Cambridge much of the day, the radio has not been turned on. Several streets in the city were closed off for the "Extinction Rebellion" demo.

I have never seen Cambridge so busy ever.  Many of the visitors were from the Far East. Are we seeing more visitors this year?

Sunspots - Saturday July 6th 2019

Solar flux is 66 and the SSN 0. A=5 and K=1. Still looks like we are bumping along the bottom.

5 Jul 2019

Boris - NOT amateur radio

At the moment, the UK Conservative party members are voting to elect their new leader. It is likely to be Boris Johnson, who will also become the new (unelected) UK Prime Minister. He sounds a bit like another Donald Trump.  I fail to understand why so many want him as their leader.

Personally, I am not impressed by either candidate. Most Conservative voters are in the older age bracket. Boris is, allegedly, a teller of untruths, although this is based on the media, so I may be wrong.  Both are public school boys, now grown up. I believe Boris went to Eton and Jeremy Hunt to Charterhouse.

My view is that whoever is elected will try, and fail, to get the EU to move in an attempt to get approval in Parliament for the EU withdrawal bill A vote of no confidence is possible, followed by a General Election.

God help us. 😢

Cookies - NOT amateur radio

No, not the food variety. If you are in the EU we have new data protection measures under the GDPR banner. Now, certainly in the EU we have to click to accept website cookies. No doubt someone, somewhere thought this a good idea. What happens? Most of us just click "accept" or similar and never read the text. It totally fails. This is stupidity and bureaucracy gone stark raving mad! It sickens me and achieves nothing.

Parkin - NOT amateur radio

As we have a guest staying later, my wife has a good excuse to do some baking. Among the things she bakes is parkin, which is a soft, ginger based cake that is great with cheese. The photo shows the mix going in. I had to sample some last night, with some cheese! It passed the test, but I think it needs retesting. Hmmm. 😜

See https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1940684/parkin

Hong Kong - NOT amateur radio

After a very long and 2 hour delayed flight, my son and family have arrived in Hong Kong on their way to Brisbane. As they missed their flight, they have been rebooked on a flight this evening and put up in a hotel for a few hours.

They have been there before, as have I.  It used to be a real "east meets west" place with post boxes and double decker buses. I have only been through the new airport once since China took over and remember being intrigued by the W. H. Smith shop at the airport! That was 2004 I think.

6m FT8 RX

Already (0808z) I am on 6m FT8 RX. As yet, no spots. No early Es here.

UPDATE 0835z: Mind you, it does help to plug the antenna in! Antenna now connected. So far, just G3WOS (128km) spotted.

UPDATE 0917z: Now they are coming in thick and fast. So far, 28 stations spotted with best DX EA8DBM (3016km).

UPDATE 1046z: Now 61 stations spotted this morning on 6m FT8 RX. Although Japan was being worked again on 6m FT8 from the UK, again nothing spotted here. 😕

Sunspots - Friday July 5th 2019

Solar flux is 67 and the sunspot number still zero. A=5 and K=1.

4 Jul 2019

Initial feedback on the FT-991A transceiver

As reported yesterday, I have a new Yaesu FT-991A radio. So far it has only been used on 6m and 2m where the power is limited to 50W. On HF at the moment I have no antennas.

Initial feedback is good. On 6m it has worked SSB DX via Es and been used on FT8. On 2m I have used it on a local FM net and FT8. So far, I have used my Signalink USB for interface between the PC and transceiver.

My main criticisms are:
  • The fan is on more often than I expected.
  • The waterfall display speed seems too slow.
Now the speed of the waterfall may be adjustable after I read the manual! At 5W and on RX I would have expected the fan to be off.

Overall good.

Son and family on their way to Australia - NOT amateur radio

At the moment our younger son and his family is on a plane bound for his in-laws in Australia. Currently they are over Estonia. They have a long way to go still!

UK pound versus the euro - NOT amateur radio

We have already seen quite big falls in the value of the UK pound against several major currencies. With the continued uncertainty over the UK Prime Minister and BREXIT, things are likely to get worse. Personally, I can't see any quick fix on the horizon. What is more likely is the UK pound will continue to lose money.

We are ruled by a bunch of public school toffs who haven't a clue about life for the majority. Sadly we voted them in!

It is in their (financial) interest to show non-Conservatives in a bad light. Remember, most of the written media is owned/controlled by right wingers. We are manipulated more than we realise.

Corpus clock - NOT amateur radio

One of the most photographed things in Cambridge must be the strange clock outside Corpus Christi college shown here in the photo. The picture was taken yesterday.

2m FT8

At the moment I am still using my Signalink USB with my FT991A and the big-wheel omni. As far as I can tell, the interface to the rig is the same as for the FT817 via USB.  If I can work out the drivers, the rig can be CAT controlled and audio interfaced directly from the PC over USB.

A recent 2m FT8 CQ got 17 spots including 2 from Cornwall. FT8 works! I was also copied in Germany earlier on 2m.

UPDATE 1357z: As well as working a station in N.Wales on 2m FT8, I have spotted so many stations on 2m FT8 RX with the big-wheel omni antenna. The map shows where my 2m FT8 signal has reached so far today on TX.

UPDATE 1900z: Amazing! OK I am running 50W at the moment but I have worked (i.e. 2-way)  DL6YBF (471km) and received 31 spots on 2m with just the big-wheel omni antenna. 2m behaves so differently with FT8. Stations I could never ever imagine working are possible. And this is probably flat conditions!

2m FT8 spots of my 
transmission today
UPDATE 1955z: I have never before been received in Eire from this QTH on VHF, but EI2GLB (499km), along with many others, is spotting me. 60 reports so far today on 2m FT8 TX.