30 Apr 2020

6m FT8

Stations spotting me to 1300z today on
6m FT8 TX with 10W to the V2000 omni
For a few hours now I have been on 6m FT8.

There seems plenty of Es around and my low power (about 10W) to the V2000 omni is getting me plenty of QSOs across Europe.

In all (to 1305z) I have been spotted by 29 stations and I have spotted 41 stations so far on 6m FT8. Best DX spotted is probably EA8JK (3022km) on 6m FT8 RX so far today.

UPDATE 1325z: Now spotted by 32 stations and I have spotted 62 stations on 6m FT8. I keep getting called by Finns!

UPDATE 1745z: Now 46 spots of me so far today on 6m FT8 TX with 10W to the V2000 omni vertical.

UPDATE 2140z:   QRT.

Maggie - NOT amateur radio

This old horse has been part of village life for many years. Children feed her grass which she loves. She is very friendly.

DX Summit

In all my time in the hobby, I don't remember using this site. I was reminded of it by a fellow local earlier this week. It looks like a useful site.

See http://www.dxsummit.fi

Orchids - NOT amateur radio

My wife loved orchids.

They only need a thimbleful of water a week and are therefore easy house plants. We have 7 (I think) and there are usually 3 in flower at a time.

The collage shows the ones in flower at the moment.


Like the ARRL in the USA, the RSGB is the national amateur radio society in the UK. Like all organisations, it is not perfect.

However, they produce a monthly magazine for members and provide a lot of services behind the scenes. Its strength is its members.  They elect officers. I have been a member since 1962 - I must be old!!

See https://rsgb.org/

Sunspots - Thursday April 30th

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 24 (higher than for some time - hopeful!).  A=3 and K=0.

29 Apr 2020

Operation Manna - NOT amateur radio

75 years ago today, food was dropped on Holland at the end of WW2 in something called Operation Manna. The Dutch were starved by the Nazis.

My dad, who was a Pathfinder flying in Lancaster 582 squadron as a flight engineer, dropped food on Rotterdam on May 7th 1945.

I hope these cruel times are far behind us, but they remind us that humans can be very cruel.

My dad died in 1987 and never really wanted to talk about the war. Looking back he must have been terrified on every mission. One of my greatest regrets was not talking with him about those days and telling him how brave he was.

Utility room pictures - NOT amateur radio

When we wash the dishes we see these pictures on our utility room wall. As you can see, we like to be reminded of good times.

Just out of shot is the windmill next door. We get quite a good view from the utility room window. At the moment the windmill is quiet. In the not too distant future it will be 200 years old. It is due for a repaint.

Roses - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows a rose in our front garden. There are several now in flower.

Cycle 25 spots

Spaceweather.com reports cycle 25 spots are appearing. At the same time we are still seeing spots from cycle 24. It will still be a while before cycle 25 begins properly and we can confidently say sunspot cycle 25 is really motoring.

See https://spaceweather.com/

Global economy - NOT amateur radio

One thing the global pandemic has warned us about is over-reliance on long supply chains in the interests of low costs. Although it is unlikely globalisation will stop, I can see people in some cases paying a bit more for goods made nearer home. Over the next few years I can see China facing the impact of this. If we make more in the UK and EU I cannot see this being so bad. It reduces air miles, helps the environment and helps jobs.

Very old Fredbox photo

This photo of me having a chat on my 2m Fredbox must be over 45 years old!

It was taken at our Cambridge flat we moved from in 1975!

The Fredbox is a 10mW AM transceiver that I designed and built for 2m. As most QSOs were with Cambridge local Fred G8BWI, it had to be called the Fredbox! At the time I had hair!!

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/fredbox for far more infomation, photos, schematic and a video.

10m FT8

At about 0830z I turned on my 10m FT8 gear.

Almost immediately I was spotted by 2 locals when on TX and spotted 1 G and 1 Estonian station on RX, the latter by Es.

As usual, I am running 2.5W to my indoor loop antenna.

Yesterday, it was again spotting South Americans on 10m FT8.

UPDATE 1037z: Now 4 spots of me on TX including 2 from Southern Europe, but plenty of Es on RX.

UPDATE 1310z: So far, 322 European stations spotted and 21 stations have spotted my 2.5W. A couple of QSOs too. Doesn't look like I am missing too much!

Stations spotting me today
UPDATE 1350z: Now 345 stations spotted today on RX and 25 stations have, so far, spotted my 10m FT8 2.5W TX today.

UPDATE 2011z: Amazing day! 58 spots of my 2.5W to the indoor loop and 629 RX spots including 5 South Americans. That loop really works!! Quite a few QSOs too.

Sunspots - Wednesday April 29th

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 0. A=6 and K=1.

28 Apr 2020

Flat 50 ohm coax?

An old friend has just bought some coax off Amazon so he can feed his aircraft band RX feed though his window without drilling holes. It is very short with just the bit through the window frame being flat. Both inside and out you feed it with "proper" coax and connectors.

Now, I have never seen these for 50 ohm coax and not sure these exist. I expect there is a very limited market, but I guess they could be very useful for some people.

Rain - NOT amateur radio

In the summer of 2018 a lot of our front lawn died. To prevent this I have watered the grass for an hour for the last couple of evenings. Of course, what happens next? You guessed! For the first time in a month it rains! I might have known.

Neighbour's garden - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows the flowers in a neighbouring garden.

Easing lockdowns - NOT amateur radio

In many countries, citizens have had various extents of lockdowns with severe restrictions on business activity and people being asked to "social distance".  In some cultures where there is a lot of hugging and kissing, this is especially hard.

Whilst keeping social distancing measures in place, some countries are trying to relax lockdown measures. This is very very hard.

Naturally, people want things to return to normal, but at the same time governments are worried about things getting out of control again and Covid-19 really taking hold and spreading widely again. Governments are also worried about the economic harm.

Things are really hard and we are all feeling our way trying to steer a course which is best for all. I do not have the answers.


Homebase-10 10m antenna
As I speak it is raining here for the first time in about a month!

What was going to say was as the better weather is now with us (at least in the UK) thoughts may turn to antennas, especially outside antennas.

You may like to look at the antenna page on my main website. Dig deeper and there are lots of ideas.

The Homebase-10 antenna for 10m is simple to make and, with the Es season just starting, now is a good time to make and erect one.

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

That view - NOT amateur radio

As a young child, growing up by the sea in Salcombe, Devon, I had no idea how lucky I was.

From my classroom, I could see the sea reflecting the sun on the ceiling, although it took me years to realise what this was!  Out of the window we could see the estuary and the boats and a view up South Pool Creek (see photo).

We just took it all for granted. As young children we just assumed everybody has something similar. To us, it was the normal.

I remember just before leaving the junior school walking all over town doing some sort of project. Imagine this today! Firstly the school would have to do a risk assessment, then get the parents written permission.  It just would not happen!

Early start on 10m FT8

As I was up early, the 10m FT8 gear has already been turned on at about 0715z. This is far earlier than normal. So far, just G4KPX (13km) spotting my 2.5W to the tiny loop in the shack. Unsurprisingly, no RX spots yet.

UPDATE 0742z:  Now M1BXF (13km) also spotting me. No Es seen yet!

UPDATE 0958z:   Now 4 Spanish , 1 UK and 1 Danish station spotted this morning on 10m FT8 RX with the indoor loop antenna. No more spots of me.

UPDATE 1200z:  Much more extensive Es. I have now been spotted by 10 stations with most being in southern Europe.  On 10m FT8 RX, 23 stations in 5 countries spotted so far today.

UPDATE 1335z: Now 24 stations spotted with 11 stations spotting my 2.5W to the indoor loop. The map shows where I have been on spotted so far today on 10m FT8.

UPDATE 1808z: 3 South Americans spotted so far today. This could be pure F2 or Es plus F2.

UPDATE 2119z :  QRT.

Sunspots - Tuesday April 28th

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 12. A=7 and K=3.

27 Apr 2020

Lilac - NOT amateur radio

Several years ago, one of our neighbours lilac trees blew down onto our path. We all thought that was it, so they gota new lilac and planted it a few metres from the old tree. What happened? The old tree sprouted again! We can now enjoy 3 lilac trees as the photo shows.

Disaster - NOT amateur radio

We had pasta for lunch, prepared by me. All was fine until the last minute when I accidentally tipped a whole jar of mixed herbs on it! It tasted, well, "herby".  I scraped a lot off, but it rather spoilt things. After the event we can laugh.

10m FT8

Yet again I am on 10m FT8 with 2.5W and the tiny indoor loop. So far today just being spotted by locals and just 1 G spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1300z:  4 spots so far with a couple of spots from Spain. 1 QSO (in the village!) and 11 spots on RX.

UPDATE 1840z: Just 5 spots of me today and 13 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX. 1 QSO and he was in the village!

UPDATE 1935z: QRT.

Sunspots - Monday April 27th 2020

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 14.  A=6 and K=2.  Better sunspot numbers.

26 Apr 2020

Zoom - NOT amateur radio

In these strange times we cannot see our grandchildren in person.

Once a week we have a family Zoom session so we can all see each other. It works well.

Yellow tipped - NOT amateur radio

My brother went for a bike ride earlier in Devon. He saw a yellow tipped butterfly (see photo).


About now it is almost like a switch being turned on. For the next few months bands like 10m, 6m, 4m and occasionally 2m will spring into life with plenty of short skip contacts. Occasionally these bands may support far more distant contacts via E layer propagation. Last year 6m opened up to Australia!! Anything is possible.

Spring - NOT amateur radio

Pretty sure this photo was on some weeks ago, but I hope you don't mind seeing it again. It shows the path up to our church some weeks ago. Most of the daffodils are now dead until next year.

Hedge trimming - NOT amateur radio

As we are busy in the garden it is unlikely that we will do a walk today. Cutting the hedge is far more tiring than I expected. As we are trying to cut the growth back quite a bit, I am having to use the mains powered trimmer that is quite heavy.


This rig was expected to be released in Japan about now. Many were expecting the USA version to be released at Dayton. The last reports I had seen gave no European release dates.

The last I heard was this had no internal auto-ATU and it was expensive for a QRP radio. It would not surprise me if this was even more expensive now. To my mind an internal auto-ATU is essential in a QRP radio intended for field use, even if this made the box a bit thicker. Even the option of one is better than nothing.

At least the display can be turned off. I think this was as a result of feedback.

If you have any latest data, please share it.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/ic705

10m FT8 for the day

At about 0805z, the 10m FT8 gear was turned on. Still using 2.5W to the indoor magnetic loop. This is positioned on a PVC pipe taped to a small table in the shack. This is now a much greater distance from the window.

So far, no RX spots, but M0HOJ (14km) has spotted my 2.5W on TX. This should be my poorest direction i.e. orthogonal to the loop.

UPDATE 0830z:  Now 3 spots so far this morning (all local) of my 2.5W 10m FT8 TX. Reports are better than yesterday, in line with loop orientation, which is encouraging.

UPDATE 1140z:  47 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX and 9 stations have spotted me with my 2.5W on TX. So far 1 QSO with a Spanish station. The indoor loop antenna certainly works!

UPDATE 1341z:QSOs today on 10m FT8 with Norway and Spain so far.

UPDATE 1735z : 12 spots of me so far and 141 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX.  All Europeans.

UPDATE 2100z:  QRT. The photo shows the stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX.

Sunspots - Sunday April 26th 2020

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 11. A=5 and K=2. Sunspots return.

25 Apr 2020

Our walk earlier - NOT amateur radio

Before lunch we did a nice walk. We went around the village as the collage shows. In all, we walked about 3.5 miles.

Chicks - NOT amateur radio

Recently one of our grandchildren who keeps chickens had some chicks born.  He actually witnessed one coming out of the egg! The photo shows him holding one.

10m FT8

In a few moments we are going for a walk, so TX will be disabled. So far (turned things on about 15 minutes ago at around 0805z) my 2.5W to the indoor loop (see earlier post today) has been spotted just by 1 local G4WSZ (12km).

UPDATE 1152z:  When we came back from our walk the TX was turned on. 9 spots of me so far today with 6 from Spain. Es.

UPDATE 1450z:  23 spots of my 2.5W so far today.

UPDATE 2029z: 261 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX including 4 South Americans. 45 stations spotted my 2.5W to the indoor loop, all Europeans. One QSO with a station in Denmark.  Now QRT.

The new normal? - NOT amateur radio

Like many, our grandchildren are now enjoying schooling on the PC. This was one of our grandchildren yesterday.

Sunspot minimum?

The recent solar data has been disappointing. We have seen solar flux below 70 now for several days. We could be only now reaching solar minimum. With luck things could be better soon, but it looks like earlier predictions may have been optimistic.

Sunspots - Saturday April 25th 2020

Solar flux is 71 and the SSN 0. A=8 and K=3.

10m loop improvements

Yesterday, I modified my 10m loop to make it easier to tune. The measured capacitance at resonance was just under 40pF. I replaced the 365pF variable with a fixed 27pF in series with a fixed 27pF capacitor in series with a 5-65pF trimmer. Tuning is now much less difficult and the SWR on-tune very good. A quick test was spotted by 3 locals.

24 Apr 2020

Cambridge Club (CDARC) Zoom meeting

As the Cambridge club cannot meet as usual every 2 weeks, it is meeting virtually instead. The last sessions were on the local repeater GB3PI with the prior approval of the repeater group. Tonight there is a talk with slides by Gavin M1BXF which is on Zoom.

UPDATE 2152z: It was excellent.

Not on the air today

All of today, I have not been on the air. Usually I go on FT8 on some band, but today I was busy with jobs so the gear has not been turned on.

Our local church - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows a view of our local church from our walk earlier.

Vomit inducing - NOT amateur radio

On Facebook there is an advert running for an oxygen monitor. Not only is the company cynically playing on Covid-19 fears, but they have an "in stock" counter which encourages you to buy before stock runs out. If you wait, stock magically goes up!! Sickening. Should be banned.

Musee des Beaux Arts - NOT amateur radio

This morning I was reminded of W. H. Auden's poem called Musee des Beaux Arts.

Whilst an ambulance was taking an old neighbour dying of bone cancer to a hospice there were 2 young girls being videoed by mum and dad on their bikes. Life goes on.

The poem highlights how Icarus fell from the sky, but most people just carried on.

See http://www.english.emory.edu/classes/paintings&poems/auden.html

Loop changes

As my newer loop is very sharp tuning, I may modify the tuning so that I can tune it to resonance more easily. I need to think how to do this best whilst keeping the Q high. Luckily with QRP the voltages at the high impedance points of the loop are not so high which makes the changes easier.

Chromebooks - NOT amateur radio

Some months ago, I bought a Chromebook. To say I am impressed is an understatement.

I have created a webpage on my main website. Over time, I may add to this. It does all I ever want and boots up in seconds.

Although mine can be used as a tablet, I have not used this mode yet.

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

Sunspots - Friday April 24th 2020

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 0. A=4 and K=1.

23 Apr 2020

Another rally cancelled

I have just been notified of this. Again, apologies for the white background, but this is how I received it: this makes it hard to read in some browsers. The precis is the Norbreck rally is cancelled.

Sunday 26 APRIL : CANCELLED new date 25 April 2021

NARSA - NORTHERN AMATEUR RADIO SOCIETIES ASSOCIATION EXHIBITION. (Blackpool Rally) Norbreck Castle Exhibition Centre, Blackpool FY2 9AA. There will be a talk-in station and plenty of car parking. There will be trade stands, special interest groups and an RSGB bookstall. Doors open at 10.30am, or 10.15am for disabled visitors. Catering is available on site. Dave, M0OBW 01270 761 608 dwilson@btinternet.com www.narsa.org.uk

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

That 10m indoor loop (again)

Later today, all being well, I intend to finish the rebuild of my loop for 10m.

I have still to decide on WSPR or FT8. Before doing it, I shall try to (roughly) cut the coax capacitor to close to the correct length, having found out what capacitance I need from the online loop calculator.

My capacitance meter that has not been used for about 7 years! The battery probably needs replacing! I hope it has not leaked.

UPDATE 1035z: The gods are with me!  Some time ago, I must have removed the battery to use it somewhere else. I just put a new battery in and the capacitance bridge is working fine. According to my calculation I need about 43pF with a 0.6cm thickness pipe with a circumference of 2m. I shall recheck the pipe cross-section. It is thin bore copper pipe used in central heating systems. If I cut the length slightly long, I can snip a bit off until it hits resonance. The very most I can run is 20W (most times 500mW WSPR or 2.5W FT8) so I am unlikely to have problems with high voltages. In the past I even used a dead ordinary 365pF air spaced variable without issues in a loop antenna.

UPDATE 1535z: The loop is now finished and operational. In the end I decided on FT8 and used a 365pF airspaced variable to get to frequency. It is very sharp! This is a good sign. It seems a few dB up on the other loop judging by local reports. Using the airspaced variable C means that the loop antenna can be used on other bands. The photo shows the completed loop. It was much harder than I expected. Years ago it would have been trivial.

UPDATE 1749z: Just 2 locals have spotted me so far today on 10m FT8 TX with my 2.5W to the better indoor loop antenna.

Rowan Blossom - NOT amateur radio

On our walk earlier we saw this blossom.

Living in the moment - NOT amateur radio

We live in strange times. One thing we are all learning is to live in the moment and enjoy what we see. Most mornings we do a walk. It is surprising what beauty is all around us if we look.

The next solar cycle

We are very close to the solar minimum and next year we can expect solar conditions to get better. This will be the first solar cycle in which FT8 will be used near and at the peak. As FT8 is better than SSB or CW, it will be interesting to see how this alters things. SSB and CW activity could be lower.

Sunspots - Thursday April 23rd 2020

Solar flux is 71 and the SSN 0. A=8 and K=1.

22 Apr 2020

10m magnetic loop

Many years ago I made a loop antenna for 10m using central heating copper pipe. Bits for this have been in the garage for about 7 years! For the capacitor I used a length of coax cut to resonate.

Since my stroke things are much harder. I am trying to rebuild it as it should be much more efficient than the loop I am currently using. Rebuilding it is much harder than I expected. If on WSPR it can be left on the air 24/7 using my beacon. FT8 might be more productive even if less sensitive.

15m FT8

Rather earlier than usual, I am on 15m FT8 with 2.5W and the 45cm indoor loop. It is now 0615z. No spots yet.

UPDATE 0922z: No spots.

UPDATE 1040z: One G spotted on RX and one G spotting me so far.

UPDATE 1215z:  5 stations in Europe and North Africa have been spotted on 15m FT8 RX. So far, just the 1 station has spotted my 2.5W.

UPDATE 2011z :  QRT.

Birthday boy - NOT amateur radio

One of our sons is 42 today. This photo of when he was 35 appeared as a FB memory today.

The second photo shows them today.

Sunspots - Wednesday April 22nd 2020

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 0. A=9 and K=3

21 Apr 2020

Notre Dame - NOT amateur radio

We just got this lovely pop-up card from 2 of our grandchildren.

Village walk - NOT amateur radio

Most mornings we do a walk before it gets too hot. The photo shows our walk earlier.

It was about 3.5 miles.  These regular walks must help to keep us fit!

15m FT8

After breakfast I intend to go on 15m FT8 (2.5W to the indoor loop).

UPDATE 0730z:  All turned on at 0720z.

UPDATE 1032z:  Although 3 Europeans spotted so far on 15m FT8 RX, no-one has yet spotted me.

UPDATE 1140z: 7 Europeans spotted so far and 1 spot by LA6RJA (794km) of my 2.5W to the tiny indoor loop antenna.

Stations spotting me to 1253z
UPDATE 1253z:  Quite a few spots of my 2.5W to the tiny 45cm indoor loop mainly from Scandinavia. 17 spots on RX.

UPDATE 1932z:  On 15m FT8 RX a total of 72 stations were spotted and 13 Europeans spotted my 2.5W tiny indoor loop.

UPDATE 2151z:  QRT.

QSX all band, all mode transceiver kit

QRP-labs has the multi-mode QSX transceiver in development.

The single band QCX CW transceiver is good value for money with many complex features. I am sure the multi-band QSX transceiver will be pretty good too. The QSX is expected to have a built-in spectrum analyser to help with filter alignment.

As I am poor at kit building these days, since my 2013 stroke I am wondering if they are also offering built units too when the release date comes? I am pretty sure that the finished unit design will be very good.

See https://www.qrp-labs.com/qsx.html

Sunspots - Tuesday April 21st 2020

Solar flux is 68 and the sunspot number 0. A=18 and K=2. These figures look really poor and are the worst for some time.

20 Apr 2020

US oil prices - NOT amateur radio

As I write, the West Texas oil prices have recovered after turning negative! These are strange Covid-19 times indeed with demand slumping and storage capacity in the USA now full.

In the morning things could well have changed again. As I write, WTI oil prices have recovered a bit.

Portuguese amateur - abandoned house

Southgate News has a piece found on YouTube showing an abandoned house in Portugal. The shack uncovered has many old QSL cards on the walls.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/april/abandoned-mansion-of-a-portuguese-radio-amateur-found-his-radio-room.htm#.Xp2mwWjYq00


One of the best sites for solar forecasts is DXQSL. I now get most of my data from there.

Zoom - NOT amateur radio

We, like many, are missing seeing our grandchildren. Luckily we can still keep in touch by Zoom video.

Hope? - NOT amateur radio

Early results on trials with the drug remdesivir on humans with Coronavirus have been promising. Also, there are trials of blood plasma. Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

Results published for the April 2020 UKAC activity contest

The results of the latest 2m activity contest have been published. Although my voice is poor and I run QRP to an omni antenna for less than an hour I came credible 70th in the AL section. I am not a serious contester!

Can it get worse? 10m

For about 30 minutes now, I have been on 10m FT8 with 2.5W and the tiny 45cm indoor loop. The last few days have been dire. I have (so far) only been spotted by local Gs. and I have only spotted one South American and a few southern Europeans on Es yesterday. Today, so far, just spots by local M1BXF (13km).

UPDATE 1001z:  Still no RX spots and just spotted by M1BXF on TX. It looks like the Es "season"  has not yet properly started. We get the occasional brief opening. In the Es season proper 10m can be open for hours with strong signals.

UPDATE 1342z:  At the moment still being spotted only by 3 local stations on 10m FT8 TX. Still nothing spotted yet today on 10m FT8 RX here.m FT8

UPDATE 1515z:  Yes it can get worse! Still no RX spots at all so far today and just 3 local spots on TX.

UPDATE 1817z:  On 10m FT8 RX 6 stations in the Canary Is spotted just before tea.I guess this was Es. Still just the local Gs spotting my 2.5W.

UPDATE 2030z:  Now QRT. I shall try 15m FT8 tomorrow with 2.5W and the tiny 45cm indoor loop.

10 years ago - NOT amateur radio

This photo was taken 10 years ago. It shows one of our grandchildren smelling daffodils. Happy days!

Sunspots - Monday April 20th 2020

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 0. A=3 and K=2.  G1 storm level. Basically poor.

19 Apr 2020

Something for the weekend

As usual, Martin Lynch has some "something for the weekend" offers. As far as I can tell, there are no great bargains here. Prices seem quite high and this appears just another way of marketing their offers.

The IC-7300 still remains at the same (inflated?) price. I get the feeling this is "market priced" i.e. priced at what the punters are prepared to pay. I am unsure if this is what ICOM is ordering. The true price would be well under £1000.

See https://www.hamradio.co.uk/

Quiet beaches - NOT amateur radio

My brother has just sent me this picture of a beach he has just cycled to in South Devon. Normally the beach would be busy on a sunny Sunday. This is where I came from.

New perspectives - NOT amateur radio

One thing recent Covid-19 events have taught all of us is that what we may have thought important in our lives turn out to be not important at all.  All of us has had to re-assess what really matters.

I expect for many of us, life will never be quite the same ever again. My hope is that this will lead to more compassionate societies. Certainly, in most people recent events have brought out the best in people with many showing great kindness.

Guernsey special event station

Southgate News reports that there will be a special event station on Guernsey to commemorate its liberation. Thus will be active in May.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/april/guernsey-special-event.htm#.Xpww92jYq00

Oscar 100 geosynchronous satellite

Every few weeks I report on occupancy of the narrow-band transponder of this satellite. I take a look at the BATC web SDR at Goonhilly in Cornwall.

My very unscientific look just now shows little change. It is still far from crowded. The satellite has been working for over a year now and allows real DX QSOs without QSB at any time. I guess the lack of "black box" rigs is keeping numbers down.

My dad 100 years ago - NOT amateur radio

This picture shows my dad almost 100 years ago. It looks posed for the cameraman. I think he was a sea scout, but I think this was later in his childhood.

Later, he became a Pathfinder in Lancasters flying at night in WW2 over Germany. He must have been terrified every night. One of my greatest regrets was not speaking with him about this before he died in 1987. I think he hated the war really.

Village walk - NOT amateur radio

We have just got back from our "lockdown" walk around the village. We saw very few people and those we did were very considerate so we passed with plenty of space. In all, we walked about 3.6 miles.

It's funny - because we have to we have probably walked more recently than we would have done! In the past, we would probably thought of some excuse. Everyone says "hello".

A very common bird around here is the goldfinch. These are often seen and not heard. They are very attractive birds. They often fly in groups and like thistles.

10m FT8

The last few days have been poor with no Es seen here. Yesterday I was spotted by 5 G stations and no-one else. Everything was turned on today (Sunday) at about 0750z.

UPDATE 1106z: Just 2 local G stations have spotted me so far today and nothing yet spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1320z:  Judging by the number of EU stations monitoring 10m FT8 RX, it looks like they are after Es! No Es or F2 DX seen here today so far.

UPDATE 1718z:  Some Es to Italy around teatime on 10m FT8 RX. So far today, just the 2 G spots of my 2.5W

Tulips - NOT amateur radio

These tulips were seen on a recent walk.

Sunspots - Sunday April 19th 2020

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 0. A=4 and K=1 .

18 Apr 2020

UK Coronavirus - NOT amateur radio

It is too early to tell, but there are hints that we just may have passed the peak of hospital admissions in the UK. I sincerely hope this is the case.

Wild roses? - NOT amateur radio

We saw these on our walk earlier. They are very early for wild roses.

10m FT8

In a few moments I shall be on 10m FT8 with the tiny indoor loop antenna and 2.5W. It cannot be worse than yesterday!

UPDATE 0910z: All 10m FT8 gear turned on at 0855z. So far just M1BXF (13km) spotting me. No RX spots yet.

UPDATE 1350z: Just 3 G spots of me so far today. No Es here so far today.

UPDATE 1455z: On RX just 1 station spotted PP5JR (10069km).

UPDATE 1824z:  Now 6 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX including 2 in NE Spain, presumably by Es.

UPDATE 2040z:  QRT. In the end 5 G stations spotted me. No Es here today.

Dull start - NOT amateur radio

For several days now we have had fine sunny weather, so it is a bit sad to see the weather dull here this morning. Next week should be fine again. All being well we hope to collect some garden plants from our local nursery at 9.30am. This has been arranged. With garden centres closed getting bedding plants is more difficult this year. You would have expected garden centres to have massively ramped up mail orders and delivery, but many have missed this opportunity.

UPDATE 0930z: All plants picked up.  Only ordered yesterday! Excellent service. All the plants look strong. We will use Burwell Nursery again next year.

Sunspots - Saturday April 18th 2020

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN 0. A=4 and K=2. Basically poor!

17 Apr 2020

Coronavirus vaccines - NOT amateur radio

The race is on across the world to find a safe and effective vaccine against Coronavirus. Although this could be 12-18 months away, one UK group is so confident that it intends to produce 1 million does by September in parallel with trials.

In the meantime, I certainly hope they can repurpose some existing drugs to help us fight the pandemic.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-52329659

Shed cleaning - NOT amateur radio

Well there's a surprise! Our garden shed actually has a floor! Being at home means some jobs like cleaning the shed get done.


These days one can buy very low cost HB100 10GHz Doppler modules on eBay from various sources. There are various ways of using these in amateur projects. I have seen these in ATV kit and I am sure there will be WBFM 10GHz transceiver designs based on these if I look. As there are 24GHz radar modules, I am wondering if there are WBFM designs based on these?

Perhaps some reader can point me in the direction of 10GHz and 24GHz WBFM transceivers based on the HB100 for 10GHz and similar units for 24GHz.

UPDATE 1810z:   Looking on the internet, there are plenty of resources for WBFM 10GHz transceivers based on the HB100.

OFCOM board appointment

Never mind Covid-19, OFCOM provides us all with gripping news. Today we learn that Kevin Bakhurst has been appointed to the board. Such earth shattering stuff. See their website for this and other exciting news.  zzz

10m FT8 after breakfast

After breakfast I hope to go on 10m FT8 with the tiny indoor loop antenna and 2.5W. The last few days have been disappointing.

UPDATE 1337z:  Just M1BXF (Gavin, local) spotting me so far. Everything turned on at 0844z. No spots of others yet.

UPDATE 1728z:  Just 2 spots of me today - worse even than yesterday - and these were local and fairly local Gs!  No Es here today. So far, just 2 Gs spotted here with best DX G6ZYF (70km).

UPDATE 1948z:  3 spots of me today, all Gs. On RX 3 stations spotted. No Es here today.

Optical illusion - NOT amateur radio

This puzzled me! It looks like a spiral, but isn't! I first saw this on a Facebook post some years ago.

SPAM comments removed NOT amateur radio

It would seem someone has been putting adverts as comments on my blogs. As soon as spotted these are marked as spam and deleted.

Thursday walk - NOT amateur radio

In the warm April sunshine we did a nice walk as shown in the photo.

Sunspots - Friday April 19th 2020

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 0. A=5 and K=1.

16 Apr 2020

Another rally postponed

I have been informed of another rally that has been postponed.

Again, if the background is white and the text hard to see on some screens, I apologise, but this is how I received this. Basically the Kempton rally has been postponed until  November.


WEST LONDON RADIO & ELECTRONICS SHOW (Kempton Rally) Kempton Park Racecourse, Staines Road East, Sunbury on Thames, TW16 5AQ. A talk-in station will be on air. Car parking is free and doors open at 10am with disabled visitors gaining access 10 minutes earlier. There will be trade stands and a Bring & Buy as well as special interest groups and lectures. Catering is available on site. More details from Paul, M0CJX on 08451 650 351, info@radiofairs.co.uk www.radiofairs.co.uk.

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

GB3PX 6m repeater

I am not a great repeater user.

Last night, on the CDARC net, someone mentioned the 6m FM repeater GB3PX at Barkway, near Cambridge.

Today, I gave it a try. It is on 50.780MHz with a 500kHz shift and 77Hz tone access.  After a few false starts when I found out how to select the right repeater shift, I managed to access it. It was very quiet. I called several times but no-one was on.

Later, I may see which other 6m repeaters I can access. Somewhere I shall have to find a list with tone access frequencies.

UPDATE 1925z: Although I can access GB3PX very well, every time I called no-one responded. I can just (sometimes) access the Bury-St-Edmunds 6m repeater as well, but no others. A useful resource for a list of 6m repeaters in the UK is https://www.ukrepeater.net/repeaterlist1.htm?filter1=6M

10m FT8 hoping for better luck!

A few moments ago I turned on the 2.5W 10m FT8 to the tiny indoor loop. So far just spot by local G4KPX (14km), although I am hoping for better results than yesterday when I only got spots from 3 locals on 10m FT8 and no QSOs.  There was one Spanish station yesterday that did not appear on PSKreporter for some reason.

UPDATE 1928z: Now QRT. Only spots from locals here and no Es noticed here. If anything, today was worse than yesterday!

Walk - NOT amateur radio

We have just got back from our walk. The photo shows the beauty in ordinary things when we look.

Sunspots - Thursday April 17th 2020

Solar flux is just 68 and the SSN 0. A=7 and K=2.

I thought this was on hours ago!

15 Apr 2020

G4ILO blog

Although Julian has been a SK for many years, his blog is still in place.  Even now, all these years later, I still get visitors via his site. His death saddened many of us and his blog is a fine reminder of a fine person, greatly missed.

2m nets

In these difficult times there seems to be a bit of an upsurge in nets as people find new ways of keeping in touch.

Last Friday, our local Cambridge club (CDARC) had a very successful club meeting "virtually" via the GB3PI repeater with the agreement of the local repeater group.  Tonight it has a net at 1900z (8pm UK) on 145.55MHz FM vertical open to all.

Even though we cannot meet in person, we find ways.

Trump and the W.H.O. - NOT amateur radio

So Trump wants to stop funding the WHO. Such wisdom. It must be so great to have such insights in these strange days. You can see why so many voted him in to office. It must be so great to have such a wise man at the top.😉

2m beacon using the Pluto SDR

Southgate News has a piece on using the ADALM-Pluto SDR as a beacon on 2m. This links to a Hackaday article. As it stands, it is very low power and would need a PA adding.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/april/hackaday-144-mhz-beacon-using-the-adalm-pluto-sdr.htm#.XpbMWxnYq00

10m FT8 again

Hoping for some Es, I have again gone on 10m FT8 with 2.5W and the tiny indoor loop. Things were turned on at about 0845z. Already, 2 locals have spotted me (G4KPX and M1BXF). No Es yet, but it is early in the day and season.

UPDATE 1810z: No Es seen here today so far. 3 locals have spotted me.

UPDATE 1832z: This early in the Es season, I guess we will see good days and bad days. At the moment it looks like the latter! Maybe I shall have better luck tomorrow.

Sunspots - Wednesday April 15th 2020

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 0. A=8 and K=3.

14 Apr 2020

70cm activity contest 1900z (8pm UK) tonight

As this is the second Tuesday in the month, the RSGB organised 70cm activity contest (UKAC) should be tonight starting at 1900z (8pm UK time) for 2.5 hours.

I usually try for under an hour with 10W and my 2m big-wheel omni that seems to match OK on 70cm.  My voice usually objects after about 40 minutes!

Usually I work a few stations. If I am lucky these include G4CLA (105km).  Unlike many contests, this one is fun and there is a good spirit. With the current restrictions I doubt there will be any /P stations, but that leaves plenty of "at home" stations to try for.

Village Cottage - NOT amateur radio

Not sure how old this cottage is. We passed it on our walk earlier.