31 Dec 2020
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.
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
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.
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.
29 Dec 2020
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.
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.
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.
28 Dec 2020
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.
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!
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!
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
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.
27 Dec 2020
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.
26 Dec 2020
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|
25 Dec 2020
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.
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 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.
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.
Solar flux is 88 and the SSN 25. A=8 and K=0. These figures were correct at 2245z Christmas Day.
24 Dec 2020
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.
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.
23 Dec 2020
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.
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.
22 Dec 2020
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.
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).
21 Dec 2020
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.
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.
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 http://22.214.171.124:8080/cap/ .
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.
20 Dec 2020
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.
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
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.
19 Dec 2020
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.
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.
18 Dec 2020
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.
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.
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.
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?
17 Dec 2020
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!
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.
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.
16 Dec 2020
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.
Hopefully, the next few weeks will allow me to do some local tests from home.
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.
15 Dec 2020
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.
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.
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?
14 Dec 2020
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.
Although I am biased, the mince pies are far better than shop ones. The secret is making the pastry as thin as possible.