31 Dec 2020

Cold - NOT amateur radio

We awoke this morning to a very cold day with frost and fog. Our hedges and trees are white with frost. 

The photo shows the view in our front garden at 0930z.

6m FT8 QRP (Thursday)

At 0854z my 2.5W FT8 to the V2000 vertical was turned on. So far, just a spot by G0PQO (50km) of my QRP signal. 2 Gs spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1130z: 3 Gs have spotted me on TX and I have spotted 7 stations on RX with the furthermost being DL9MG (650km). The latter could be Es or aircraft. Most spots were Gs.

Sunspots - Thursday December 31st 2020

The end of a momentous year for the whole world. At least the sunspot count has started to rise.

Sunspot count is 83 and the SSN 26.  A=9 and K=1.

OS maps - NOT amateur radio

In the UK, the definitive maps for over 200 years are produced by the Ordnance Survey. 

We have a local nature reserve near here. I have the latest paper 2.5 inches to the mile OS map and it makes no mention of this: it is as if this is a top secret place! No wonder so many locals have not a clue it is there. 

On the OS map app it is only there if you zoom in.

30 Dec 2020

Yesterday on 6m FT8

Yet again, yesterday was a good day on 6m. Although not as many as the day before, there was still evidence of winter Es with spots of my QRP from stations in Europe on QRP TX (2.5W to the V2000 vertical omni), and several Europeans spotted here on RX. 

Local church - NOT amateur radio

Our local church is very photogenic. The photo shows it in late November. 

Already at the end of December the corvids are nest building! I think these are rooks.

6m FT8 QRP (Wednesday)

At 0900z, I turned on the 6m FT8 QRP gear with 2.5W to the V2000 vertical omni antenna. Already, after just a few minutes, spotted by 4 G stations. Nobody yet spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1515z:  Certainly up to now, just UK stations spotting me and being spotted with no winter Es.

UPDATE 2202z:   My QRP was spotted later in Portugal and Sardinia, so there was winter Es later.  Not as good today as yesterday. Now QRT.

Astronomical Numbers - NOT amateur radio

According to Google there are 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets in the visible universe. This is a huge huge number.  

Only some of these planets may have intelligent life, but even if this is just a tiny fraction of the number of planets, this is still a huge number.   

I find it mind blowing that I am here at all. One of the greatest puzzles is human consciousness.  On Earth we have about 8000,000,000 people. In such a vast universe, you would think kindness and love would have no meaning, yet nearly every human knows this is not the case.

Although we have being trying for about 50 years via project SETI, we have still not found any signs of interstellar intelligent life as far as I am aware.

Covid-19 vaccine approvals - NOT amateur radio

 In the last hour the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved. This can be stored at normal fridge temperatures and is low cost. 

Sunspots - Wednesday December 30th 2020

 Solar flux is 86 and the SSN 26. A=7 and K=3.

29 Dec 2020

7 years ago - NOT amateur radio

Seven years ago I spent 3.5 months in hospital following a brain bleed. 

This photo shows me with my younger son and one of our grandchildren in 2013 on a rare visit home. I went in hospital in September and came out in January and lost 1.5 stone. 

Looking back I was so lucky. I could so easily have died or suffered horrendous disabilities. Apart from feeling giddy all the time and my poor voice, I am mostly fine.

Another Covid-19 joke - NOT amateur radio


This appeared on Facebook earlier today.  It made me laugh

Zoom - NOT amateur radio

2020 will go down as the year of Zoom. Until earlier this year many of us had not heard of this. Now most of us are familiar with it. Many of us have used it for virtual family meetings. Some have used it for work and some for school lessons.

Whatever, 2020 will go down as the year of virtual meetings, not all of which went to plan as this BBC video shows! 

Overall, I have been impressed by Zoom meetings. When the pandemic is over I quite expect Zoom meetings to still be popular.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-55375825

Backpacker's beach party in Australia - NOT amateur radio

The BBC news is carrying photos of a backpacker beach party in Australia. People are understandably appalled by such stupid people flouting the rules. Many were from the UK. 

Some may get deported. Quite right. So they should for such crass stupidity. 

At the moment there have been new outbreaks in Sydney which the authorities are trying to contain.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-55471235 .

15m QRP CW

It seems amazing that I designed and built my Pipit 15m CW QRP transceiver so long ago!  For a long time this was my main rig and gave me lots of fun. These days FT8 is ousting SSB and CW, but you would be hard pressed to find something as simple as this that really works so well.

6m FT8 (QRP) Tuesday

After a really good day yesterday, I am again on 6m FT8 with 2.5W (FT817ND) and the V2000 vertical omni antenna. It is now 0940z and I have been on for about 3 minutes.  Already spotted by G0PQO (50km), with just G0DYW (77km) spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1149z:  4 spots of my QRP TX in 2 countries and 17 spots in 4 countries on 6m FT8 RX today. Definitely winter Es about on 6m FT8.

UPDATE 1435z:  27 stations in 6 countries spotted so far on RX, and I have been spotted by 8 stations in 3 countries on 6m FT8 QRP TX.

Sunspots - Tuesday December 29th 2020

 Solar flux is 87 and the SSN 26. A=7 and K=2.

28 Dec 2020

USA spoilt child? - NOT amateur radio

Without mentioning any names (I am sure you can guess) there appears to be a really spoilt child throwing his toys out of the pram in the USA. Does this person not realise the harm to his future reputation? Please, stop being so childish!! Just grow up.

Yet more homes - NOT amateur radio


Every spare space in our village seems to be being used for new houses. This is one plot yesterday.

Label making video

Jason M0NYW has sent me this video on how to make professional looking labels.  Well worth looking at. Look at Jason's example, which looks good to me.

G3XBM video channel

Some of the videos on my YouTube channel may be of interest, as are some of the pages on my main website. Many of these are quite old and probably are in need of an update!

See https://www.youtube.com/user/G3XBM

See also http://www.g3xbm.co.uk

Memories - NOT amateur radio

At breakfast my wife and I were counting up how many walks we had been on this odd year. We keep a record each month. At one point she said a figure and I said she had miscalculated. Without a recording, we can never be sure who was wrong. 

This makes me wonder what other memories may be wrong. Memory is an odd thing: as I said some weeks ago, we think we remember things in the past, but it is entirely possible time is a human construct and each day is new with memories we think we have. This is getting too heavy!

My apologies - 136kHz transverter

Some time ago, I was asked by email if the technique to make this into a full TX-RX transverter as used on 472kHz could be adapted on 136kHz. What happens sometimes with emails is that they get filed and forgotten about. I do not remember replying to this question. So, if I did not answer this please accept my sincere apologies. I just cannot remember.

Yes, the same techniques would work on 136kHz, suitably scaled. This could be a simple way to get on this band. I have to confess I have never been on 136kHz TX from this QTH!

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/mflf/137khz_tvrtr .

6m FT8 QRP (Monday)

After breakfast I hope to go on 6m FT8 with 2.5W and the V2000 vertical omni antenna.   This is now the winter Es season, so it is possible some European stations will be spotted. Yesterday was very promising on 10m. 

UPDATE 0907z:   Already spotted in Sweden by SM4CHK (1138km) on QRP FT8 TX and 16 stations spotted on RX from Scandinavia. This definitely looks like winter Es.

UPDATE 1100z:   Already spotted by 6 stations on QRP 6m FT8 TX right across Europe!  No QSOs.  27 stations spotted so far on 6m FT8 RX again right across the continent with the furthermost being LB7FA (2008km).

UPDATE 1316z:  I have been spotted by 10 stations across Europe with my 2.5W QRP 6m FT8 TX and I have spotted 45 stations on 6m FT8 RX.

Stations spotted
to 1515z on 6m
UPDATE 1515z: 1 QSO with an LA station.  67 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX. 14 spots of my QRP 6m QRP  on 6m FT8 TX.

UPDATE 1532z: 70 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX. 2 QSOs  (LA and DL).

UPDATE 1712z: 18 stations have spotted my 6m FT8 QRPoday. TX with the furthermost being IS0YFG (1600km).  82 stations spotted today on 6m FT8 RX. This looks like winter Es.

Stations spotting
me today
UPDATE 1819z: 
QRT soon.  85 stations spotted today on 6m FT8 RX today.

10m (28MHz) - my best band

Although, at the moment, 10m is not a great DX band, this will soon change. Within a few years it will again be one of our greatest DX bands. Even with simple antennas and low power, worldwide DX should be possible. Being 1.7MHz wide there is space for all modes. Even a wire dipole is very small.

With my poor voice I find FT8 better than SSB or AM or FM. It will be interesting to see the impact of FT8, which is already very popular on many bands. I like it as most DX is concentrated in a few kHz and there are lots of people monitoring.  It works with signals weaker than SSB or CW. Being a very narrow-band mode (each TX takes about 50Hz only) it seems better with man-made noise than wider band modes. 

I suspect there may be less AM activity this cycle, which would be a pity: often operators use old "boat anchor" rigs with beautiful modulation. In the last (poor) sunspot cycle several USA AM stations were copied well in the car with just a super-regen RX and a base loaded whip.

In the past I have well exceeded DXCC with 10W SSB on 10m with low dipoles. 

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/10m_op

Sunspots - Monday December 28th 2020

Solar flux is 88 and the SSN 26.  A=6 and K=2.

27 Dec 2020

Homemade trifle - NOT amateur radio

My wife likes to make homemade trifle at Christmas as shown in the photo. 

They always taste delicious.

Village houses - NOT amateur radio

We have lots of different house styles in our village as the photo shows. 

Some houses go back many centuries and some were built this year. One old house dates to the 1100s I think.

Muddy walk - NOT amateur radio

We have just got back from a walk. It was very muddy! Part of the walk is through a wood planted for the millennium making the trees about 20 years old. 

I don't get tired walking, just being giddy all the time: it feels like I am always about to fall: this exhausts me.

10m FT8 RX

It is now 1013z. A short while ago I turned on my 10m FT8 gear using the FT817ND at the tiny indoor loop antenna. So far 24 stations spotted here on RX. Winter Es?

UPDATE 1623z:  79 Europeans spotted. Good. 

UPDATE 1724z:  88 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX.   Unless there are surprises I expect this is it for the day. Still, this is good for 10m in winter at this part of the solar cycle.

UPDATE 2047z:  QRT.  95 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX.

Sunspots - Sunday December 27th 2020

Solar flux is 88 and the SSN 31.  A=4 and K=2.

26 Dec 2020

Morons? - NOT amateur radio

This cartoon appeared on Facebook earlier. No idea who the moron could be or where the cartoon originated  😉. 

IC-705 warranty again

It appears that ICOM Australia offers a 5 year warranty if you ask whereas the standard UK ICOM warranty is just 2 years. If all UK dealers offered a 5 year ICOM underwritten warranty this might make buying decisions easier.

See https://icomuk.co.uk/IC-705/Mobile_Amateur_Radio_Ham

Snowdrops - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows the snowdrops coming out in our village. They are starting to appear now.

20m FT8 RX

This morning, I am on 20m FT8 RX with the FT817ND and the indoor loop. The gear was turned on at about 0815z.    It is now 0926z. So far today, 257 stations have been spotted already.

UPDATE 1046z: 432 stations spotted so far.

Stations spotted today at 1749z
UPDATE 1749z: 
1055 stations spotted today. At some point I may QSY to 2m FT8. All this with just the tiny loop indoors - and it cannot be that good on 20m as it is so small!

UPDATE 1929z:  1117 stations spotted so far. Latest is a South African.

UPDATE 2215z:  QRT. 1152 stations spotted today.

Sunspots - Saturday December 26th 2020

Solar flux is 88 and the SSN 30.  A=5 and K=2.

25 Dec 2020

472kHz (630m) WSPR

At the moment I have not tried 472kHz (630m) WSPR TX for a while as I need to replace the wire in my earth-electrode "antenna". In past winters I have had lots of fun overnight with low ERP WSPR. I really should try again during January, February and March.

I still have a quiet noise floor on 472kHz WSPR RX. With AM on 160m, 80, and 40m, the noise floor is S8. WSPR being a narrow-band mode seems to do much better.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/mflf/472wspr

The magic of Christmas - NOT amateur radio

As mentioned in an earlier post today, Christmas can be a magical time for children. 

These are some of our grandchildren, and my wife, with some of their presents.

2m FT8 QRP with 2.5W and the big-wheel omni (Christmas)

Whilst Christmas is going on I am on 2m FT8 using 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna. So far today I have been spotted by 9 stations with the furthermost being G7RAU (461km) on 2m FT8 TX.  On 2m FT8 RX just a couple of Gs spotted. It is now 1045z.

UPDATE 1853z: 15 stations have spotted my QRP on TX and I have spotted 12 stations on RX with the furthermost DL6YBF (471km). As most spots of me are G and near France, these could be flat band tropo.

UPDATE 2220z: QRT.

Christmas Day - NOT amateur radio

Christmas can be a magical time for children. 

As an old man, I find Christmas hard. It is a time when we are expected to be happy, whereas I find everything amplified and pain harder to take. To me, I am glad when it is all over. 

This year is particularly hard with Covid-19 and many unable to meet loved ones and give them a hug. Next year things should be more normal. I hope so. In the next few months we have some hard times ahead. Then we should start to see the light.

Whatever your situation I wish you a happy Christmas. 

2m and 70cm activity contest results

Both the 2m and 70cm activity contest results, run every month on Tuesday evenings and organised by the RSGB, have been published. 

These show very credible scores in the low power (AL) sections, considering I usually stay on for under an hour and just use a 2m big-wheel omni antenna. No beams or rotators here!

See the RSGB contest website for details.

Sunspots - Friday December 25th 2020 (Christmas Day)

Solar flux is 88 and the SSN 25.  A=8 and K=0.  These figures were correct at 2245z Christmas Day.

24 Dec 2020

Gecophone crystal set

When I retired in 2008 I was bought a Gecophone crystal set as a leaving present. This is almost 100 years old and still works.

It is in a polished wooden case and looks magnificent. They don't make things like this nowadays.

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

BREXIT deal done - NOT amateur radio

So, a deal has (eventually) been done between the EU and the UK. No doubt in the days ahead we will hear the details. I expect, and hope, that both sides compromised and came away feeling the deal was good for all. 

In the 2016 referendum I voted "remain", although I do appreciate that the EU can be protectionist and slow. Whilst we in the UK have vaccinated 500,000 people against Covid-19 the EU has not even started! I can understand the UK does not want to be burdened. On the other hand, the EU has been a power for good.

In my heart I expected a last minute deal: a deal is in the interests of all and there was a degree of brinkmanship to see who would blink first.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news

Online carols - NOT amateur radio

My wife took part in an online carol service with the Run by Singers with people from all over the world. Great. It is so good to think that all over the world people were taking part.

It is available on YouTube, but perhaps not yet. 

Sunny walk - NOT amateur radio

This morning it was very cold and crisp with a stiff northerly breeze. 

We did a walk around the village. The boat in the photo was seen at one point. You can just see the 2 ducks.

Often on this walk we see Muntjac deer, but none today.

Croatian 60m 100mW beacon

This may be worth listening for.   9A5ADI/B is a beacon on 5288.8MHz sending 100mW CW from Croatia (JN95).

2m FT8 QRP overnight and daytime December 24th

By accident, I left my 2m FT8 QRP station running overnight. I meant to turn it off. No more spots since last night of my QRP signal.  Staying on overnight is not worth it.  When we go for a walk shortly, I shall be RX only on 2m FT8. As usual, still using 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna.

UPDATE 1520z:  Since before lunch I have been on TX as well as RX. So far today I have been spotted by 14 stations with the furthermost being a spot by DF0MU (475km). If you want DX at any time, try 2m FT8.  Interestingly, 13 stations in just 2 countries spotted on 2m FT8 RX. I get the impression more people are monitoring and not transmitting.

Birthday breakfast yesterday - NOT amateur radio

As reported, my birthday was yesterday. The photo shows me having breakfast yesterday.

It was a cooked breakfast with fruit.

Austria gets 60m and 630m

Southgate News reports that Austrian amateurs will have access to these bands.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/december/austria-receives-60m-and-630m-christmas-present.htm#.X-RRHNGTLrc

Sunspots - Thursday December 24th 2020

Solar flux is 86 and the SSN 27. A=12 and K=3.

23 Dec 2020

2m FT8 QRP (Wednesday)

As 15m has been quiet for a while I QSYed to 2m FT8 QRP at 1800z using the usual 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna.  At the moment (1805z) 4 stations have spotted me on TX and I have spotted nobody yet on RX.

UPDATE 1945z: 7 stations in 2 countries have spotted my QRP on TX and I have spotted 3 stations in 2 countries on RX.

15m FT8

It is now 1005z and I have just turned on 15m FT8 RX. So far,  5 stations spotted on RX with the indoor loop and FT817ND.

UPDATE 1207z:  37 stations spotted so far with the furthermost 9K2OW (4639km) in Kuwait.

UPDATE 1352z: 76 stations in 5 continents spotted so far on 15m FT8 RX today. Furthermost is HC1DAZ (9256km) in South America.

UPDATE 1651z:  Now 136 stations spotted.

Birthday - NOT amateur radio

Today is my birthday. Unlike previous years, this will be very quiet. 

The photo shows me opening my present from our younger son.

Sunspots - Wednesday December 23rd 2020

 Solar flux is 86 and the SSN 11. A=12 and K=3.

22 Dec 2020

ICOM (UK) warranty?

One UK dealer is selling the ICOM IC-705 with a 5 year warranty at extra cost. At one time (still?) these were "grey" imports that would not be serviced (I understand) by ICOM (UK) but by ICOM (Europe) if the dealer could not fix the issue.

Another UK dealer is making a "thing" about the IC-705s it is selling being "genuine" UK versions with 5MHz enabled.

My question is what is the standard ICOM (UK) warranty?

Should I buy one, I want to be assured the product could be repaired by ICOM (UK) should the dealer leave the market or go bust.  In these troubled times these things could happen.

UPDATE 1847z:   A quick check on the ICOM (UK) webpage suggests it is 2 years for amateur gear. See https://icomuk.co.uk/Icom-UK-Warranty.

Reach - NOT amateur radio

Reach is a sleepy village about 2 miles away.  In Roman times it was a busy port importing much by water.  

The photo shows the Lode (waterway) today. 

OFCOM updates

On the OFCOM website are notices of changes to the licencing of short range radars and DAB multiplexes.

Where I was born - NOT amateur radio

After WW2 this grand place was a nursing home. I was born here in the late 1940s. You may call me "sir" if you insist!! 😉  We were living in a council house at the time.

These days it is retirement flats, so you could die in the place where you were born!

2m FT8 QRP (Tuesday)

At 0810z my 2m FT8 gear was turned on again with 2.5W to the big-wheel omni antenna. So far, at 0837z, I have been spotted by 3 stations and I have spotted nobody yet. No QSOs.

UPDATE 1016z:  Spotted by 5 Gs so far this morning on TX. 7 stations in 3 countries spotted so far on RX with no QSOs. Furthermost spotted on 2m FT8 RX is DL6YBF (471km). He is spotted every day.

UPDATE 1141z: 1 G QSO just over an hour ago. Back on QRP TX again now. 11 stations spotted so far here today on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1950z:  Several QSOs today, all with UK stations so far. On 2m FT8 RX, 33 stations in 6 countries spotted with the furthermost EI8KN (512km). On TX I have been spotted by 15 stations with the furthermost G7RAU (471km).

Sunspots - Tuesday December 22nd 2020

Solar flux is 80 and the SSN 11. A=12 and K=3.

21 Dec 2020

Another Covid-19 cartoon - NOT amateur radio.

This came to me earlier today on WhatsApp. I have no idea where it originated. 

We have certainly had a bad year. We all hope 2021 will be much better. We have a few hard months first. Christmas gatherings in the UK could lead to a January spike and the latest mutation is making a bad situation worse. 

And there is BREXIT!

OFCOM and 700MHz reallocation

OFCOM has announced a review of its plans to clear this part of the spectrum. See the OFCOM website for more details.

Cambridge Radio Club (CDARC) and Zoom

Like many, CDARC has been using Zoom video calls to continue lectures and, last week, for a quiz. I have been very impressed. 

At first, I wondered how this would be, but with 15-30 people typically and screen sharing it has been every bit as good as attending in person. In my case it saves a 26 mile car journey in the dark. Instead I can take part from home. 

The club has even shared meetings with a club in Northern Ireland and last week we had someone in Canada.

Several Zoom meetings with old work mates have also happened with Zoom. Although some are complaining of Zoom Fatigue, I can't agree. To me, Zoom has been an eye opener. I hope CDARC continues to stream lectures by Zoom, when the pandemic is a memory.

Covid chaos - NOT amateur radio

It is now 1041z. As I write, several countries around the world have banned travel from the UK as they are spooked by the latest Covid-19 mutation which seems to spread more easily. The countries are trying to prevent it entering their countries. It may already be too late.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-5539139

2m FT8 QRP (Monday)

It is now 0930z.  In a few moments my 2m FT8 gear will be turned on: 2.5W to the big-wheel omni antenna.

UPDATE 1024z:  In the end the gear was turned on at 0935z. So far nobody spotted on RX but I have been spotted by 2 stations on 2m FT8 QRP TX. The grabber at G0LRD (26km) is still useful. See .

UPDATE 1351z:  Still on 2m FT8 TX with 2.5W and the big-wheel with the furthermost a report by GI6ATZ (479km). 9 stations have spotted me today so far.

UPDATE 1925z: 14 stations have spotted me today so far with 2.5W on TX (see map).  On RX 26 stations spotted so far today. To say FT8 is transformative is an understatement.

Sunspots - Monday December 21st 2020

Solar flux is 84 and the SSN 11. A=4 and K=2.

20 Dec 2020

2m FT8 QRP (Sunday)

Since 1758z, I have been on 2m FT8 QRP with 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna.  So far, 6 stations have spotted me on TX with the furthermost GI6ATZ (479km) and I have spotted 4 stations on RX. It is now 1843z.

More for geeks - NOT amateur radio

This cartoon might appeal to those of us of advancing years. 

Christmas - NOT amateur radio

This year, Christmas is strange for many. Let us hope things are better next year. My wife likes to get out some of her Christmas decorations. This year, more than ever, we need cheering up.

10m FT8

Since 0920z, I have been on 10m FT8 RX with the indoor loop. On TX I was getting some RF feedback, so I am RX only at the moment.  Much to my surprise, a couple of Italians already spotted. Winter Es?

UPDATE 1317z:  Nobody has spotted me, but 7 stations spotted here on RX.

Last evening on 2m FT8 RX

Even though I had plenty of TX reports, I was puzzled why none of my RX spots were appearing on PSKreporter, so I checked. 

For some reason, the PC thought I was still on 6m, so my RX spots were being reported on the wrong band. This could be human error on my part. Of course, TX spots of me would not be affected as others would be reporting me

Pye PF1

Some managed to put PF1s on 70cm. 

When I started work a test was to convert the PF1 units to 12.5kHz channel spacing. The PF1's were widely used by the UK police.These were relatively QRP and the RX and TX were separate units. I think the police had to have base stations quite often. Still, it revolutionised policing in towns and cities.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/pf1

Sunspots - Sunday December 20th 2020

 Solar flux is 82 and the SSN 0. A=5 and K=1.

19 Dec 2020

2m FT8 QRP (Saturday)

At 1815z I QSYed from 6m to 2m FT8 QRP. As usual, I am running 2.5W to the big-wheel omni antenna.  At 1820z, 3 stations have spotted my QRP and on RX I have spotted nobody.

UPDATE 2055z:  10 spots of me so far on 2m FT8 using 2.5W and the big-wheel. Nobody spotted on RX which is odd. 

6m FT8 QRP (Saturday)

At 1000z, I turned on my 6m FT8 QRP (2.5W to the V2000 vertical omni antenna). So far today, at 1034z, no spots given or received. Even G0PQO (50km) is not copying me or is off. 

UPDATE 1114z:  G0PQO (50km) has spotted me on 6m QRP FT8 TX and I have spotted 2 stations including OZ1MFP (814km) on RX.

UPDATE 1256z:   5 stations in 3 countries spotted. Best DX spotted is LA3DV (1022km)

UPDATE 1530z:  8 stations spotted on RX today so far.

Sunspots - Saturday December 19th 2020

Solar flux is 82 and the SSN 0 for the first time in some while. A=3 and K=1. 

18 Dec 2020

Oscar 100 activity this evening

This evening, the activity on the narrowband transponder was higher than I have ever seen. I suspect this is as the vast majority of users are in Europe and they are at home for the weekend.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

2m FT8 QRP (Friday)

At 1700z, I QSYed to 2m with 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna.  So far, after about 5 minutes, nothing copied on RX, but 2 stations in 2 countries have spotted me.

UPDATE 1920z: 9 stations in 3 countries have spotted my QRP on 2m FT8 TX with the best DX a spot by GI6ATZ (479km).  On RX, 7 stations in 4 countries spotted.

Stations that spotted my
QRP FT8 this evening

UPDATE 2215z:
QRT soon.

Indoor loops

One of the great advantages of QRP is in the design of loop antennas for TX. With 100W, the voltage at the high impedance part of the loop can be very high, so that special capacitors are needed with low loss and a very high breakdown voltage. 

With QRP powers, ordinary capacitors may be used. Most times I use an old Wonder Wand Loop for 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m and 10m. My 10m loop, homemade with copper pipe, is sharper and more efficient, but harder to tune.

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

More muddy walk - NOT amateur radio


Yesterday I put a photo of my wife on our muddy walk. The photo shows me.

Posted on CDARC website

This might appeal to the geeks here!! It was first posted on the Cambridge Radio Club's FaceBook page.

My maths is so rusty, so I am unsure if this is correct. I think it is.

Very clever.  I guess the originator started with the answer, then worked back.


OFCOM has an announcement on its website about an upcoming spectrum auction for 700MHz and 3.6GHz spectrum.

See the OFCOM website for more information. 

Israel via Oscar 100

This morning there were 2 Israeli stations heard via the Oscar 100 geosynchronous satellite. One called CQ for ages with no responses (4X4N special event station). Only 4 stations active in the narrowband section.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/.

6m FT8 QRP (Friday)

At about 0920z, I switched on my 6m FT8 QRP (2.5W to the V2000 vertical). It is now 0930z.  Already 1 station has spotted me - G0PQO (50km) on TX and 1 station spotted on RX - G4FKA (207km).

UPDATE 1330z: No others yet.

UPDATE 1457z: Now 2 Gs spotted on RX. Turned up the audio drive from the SignaLink USB, but ALC still not active.

What is this? - NOT amateur radio

On our walk yesterday we saw this. It looks like sheep's wool but isn't.  It was on a muddy path.  Is it some sort of fungus? This was in the UK (East Anglia).

How do they do it?


On Amazon Prime I noticed this UHF (446MHz?) transceiver for £11.95.  Included are a charger and earpiece /mic. 

Another supplier has a pair for just £16.99 a pair.

When I worked at Pye Telecom we would struggle to make the charger for this price! Things have changed a lot in the last 20 years. It must be sheer hell being a UK PMR manufacturer these days. I am sure there are even cheaper ones if you look.

Assuming they ship across the world and make a profit, just how do they do it?

Sunspots - Friday December 18th 2020

Solar flux is 82 and the SSN 12.  A=2 and K=0.  

17 Dec 2020

Horse feeding - NOT amateur radio


This horse seems to have taken a fancy to me, probably because I fed it grass! It followed me for some time.

Muddy walk - NOT amateur radio

The sun was shining so we did a walk around the village of Reach. It was very muddy! The photo shows my wife. 

Next time we'll take our hiking poles to help us stop falling. It is good to walk when the sun is so great. At this time of year the trees are bare, which helps us see further. 

Back in the spring it was dry under foot. We have now done this walk in every season. We even saw a few snowdrops out.  

Personally, I preferred walking when there was more evident life. Back in the autumn we picked apples and blackberries.

6m FT8 QRP (Thursday)

At 0930z, my 2.5W to the V2000 vertical was turned on. Just 1 spot of me by G0PQO (50km) so far today.

UPDATE 2125z: Just 1 G spotted me and I have spotted 1 G on RX. Poor. Now QRT.

First real radio

In the early 1960s my dad bought a DST100 (ex tank radio from) a local garage. It was deaf and weighed a ton. We took it to a local amateur G3CHN who worked his magic on it and it was my main SWL receiver for several years. 

Looking back, it copied some impressive DX. It was so heavy that my dad made a special shelf for it. I could not lift it on my own. These days a tiny SDR dongle is probably better!

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/dst100.

Windmill view - NOT amateur radio

The restored windmill right next door is shown in the photo. 

We can see the windmill from the breakfast table and, as in this view, from the lounge window. 

Every day, just about, someone wants a picture of the windmill! This photo was taken yesterday morning.

52 years ago - NOT amateur radio

52 years ago I met my wife in Liverpool cathedral. I got sent this photo earlier.  This is the Anglican cathedral. When we were in Liverpool it was still being built. The catholic cathedral, at the other end of Hope Street, is also a fine building with wonderful light. Liverpool is a fine city with people with a warm heart. We very much enjoyed our time there.

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

Beginners' licence?

For some time in the UK a couple of ideas have been considered. 

One is an exam (a bit like the old RAE) that would allow people to get a full licence with just one exam. the second is a beginners' licence to allow newcomers into the hobby easily. Some can use licence free gear, e.g. 446MHz gear in the UK without any licence, so the argument is why not a simple transition into amateur radio, perhaps only allowing use of ready built commercial gear on VHF or UHF only? 

I have mixed feelings over the latter. Yes,we badly need new blood, but are we happy to dumb down our hobby? This is a hard one.

All these were discussed at a recent RSGB board meeting. You have to be an RSGB member to read these I believe.

See https://thersgb.org/members/publications/board/5900.php

Sunspots - Thursday December 17th 2020

 Solar flux is 82 and the SSN 12. A=2 and K=0.

16 Dec 2020

60m (5MHz) operation

Although many countries have allocated the full WRC band to amateurs, the UK has not. Instead, the UK has more allocations, some of which include parts of the WRC allocation. 

Personally, I would settle for the full WRC shared band and lower power with fewer other slots in the UK.

See https://rsgb.org/main/operating/band-plans/hf/5mhz/

Optical Communications

It is many years since I tried any optical communications, because of my poor health:  I have been too giddy for field work.  

Hopefully, the next few weeks will allow me to do some local tests from home.

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

At Anglesey Abbey - NOT amateur radio

This was me yesterday at Anglesey Abbey. They have erected a Christmas wreath in front of the house that is owned by the National Trust. 

The gardens are open, but not the house at present.

Bottle Boys Christmas - NOT amateur radio

 A friend recently sent me a Bottle Boys video. I later found them on YouTube. Never heard of them before.

6m FT8 QRP

It is now 0940z. For about an hour I have been on 6m FT8 QRP with 2.5W and the V2000 vertical omni. No stations yet spotted on RX. My own QRP has been spotted again by G0PQO (50km) on 6m FT8 TX.

UPDATE 1020z:  G4FKA (207km) spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1125z:  F6HGB (985km) spotted. This could be Es.

UPDATE 1211z:  3 stations spotted so far on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1852z:  In the end 2 G stations spotted me. QRT soon.

South Hams - NOT amateur radio

Pretty sure this photo has been on before. It shows where I come from in South Devon. 

Sunspots - Wednesday December 16th 2020

Solar flux is 83 and the SSN 25.  A=3 and K=1.

15 Dec 2020

No 23cm in Finland?

According to a piece in Southgate News, amateurs in Finland lost the 23cm band (apart from temporary access by special permit) back in April. They are seeking alternative spectrum, possibly the 220-225MHz band that is allocated in the USA. The prime driver is amateur television.

The authorities are concerned about future interference with Galileo navigation satellites. It is a pity they could not have retained access to 23cms, perhaps with a much reduced ERP on a "non interference" basis. 

As far as I am aware there are no similar plans across Europe for 23cms. If the Finns get access to the 220MHz band, I think this would be the first in Region 1. 

Personally I would have tried for low band 1, possibly including the 8m band, say 40-45MHz. The bottom could be narrowband and the rest for DATV on a secondary basis. Even if they only allocated 2MHz, this would be useful in under-used spectrum.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/december/finland-radio-hams-ask-for-1240--1300-mhz-replacement.htm#.X9kP9miTLrc

6m FT8

At about 0930z, I went on 6m FT8. Although I briefly went on TX (2.5W and the V2000 vertical), I am mostly RX only. It would be great to spot anyone!

UPDATE 0950z:  Remarkably, G0PQO (50km) spotted my brief 6m FT8 CQ earlier. Nothing spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1332z: 1 G station spotted.

UPDATE 1845z: 3 G stations spotted. 

UPDATE 2052z: At 1915z I returned to QRP TX. Nobody has spotted me this evening.

6m E layer super DX

The blog of John EI7GL reports on some astounding DX on 50MHz (6m). Although reported as multi-hop Es, I have my doubts. This is like the super DX seen every June between Europe and the Far East. 

My theory is this is E layer propagation but, importantly, not sporadic E. In my view, at least some of these very long paths are the result of some sort of chordal hop E layer propagation. The EU to Far East June 6m openings are at the time when mesospheric clouds are often seen. I wonder if this was the same in the southern hemisphere? Any thoughts?

See https://ei7gl.blogspot.com/2020/12/remarkable-13000-km-opening-on-6-metres.html

Winter, late afternoon - NOT amateur radio


This delightful photo was taken by our sons a few days ago. It shows the setting sun and one of our granddaughters.

Sunspots - December 15th 2020

Solar flux is 83 and the SSN 25. A=3 and K=0. 

14 Dec 2020

2m FT8 QRP (Monday)

At about 1910z, I QSYed to 2m FT8 using 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna. So far this evening just 1 spot of me and nobody yet on RX and no QSOs.


You can almost imagine him thinking, "if only someone invented a microprocessor or an SDR receiver". 

Calendars - NOT amateur radio

Every year about now we make calendars for the next year.  These are examples. 

Amateur cartoon

Steve G1KQH shared this. Not sure where it originated. 

15m FT8 RX

At about 0810z, I turned on the 15m FT8 RX system with the FT817ND and the tiny indoor loop antenna. It is now 0836z and 11 stations spotted so far.

UPDATE 1104z:  181 stations spotted with the furthermost UN7GBX (5566km) in Kazakhstan.

UPDATE 1527z:  229 spots today so far on 15m FT8 RX. 

UPDATE 1603z:  234 stations spotted today so far on 15m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1855z:  247 stations spotted. QRT soon.

80m FT8 overnight

 With 967 stations spotted overnight on 80m FT8 RX, it was quite rewarding on the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. Best DX spotted was NR5R (8276km) near the Mexican border in Texas, usa.

Homemade mince pies and Christmas cake - NOT amateur radio

Every year, my wife makes homemade mince pies and Christmas cake at this time of year. The mince pies don't last long! 

Although I am biased, the mince pies are far better than shop ones. The secret is making the pastry as thin as possible.