31 Jul 2020


It has been hot all day. According to the weather forecast we could have thunderstorms later. If so, everything will be disconnected in the shack.

UPDATE 1845z:  QRT on all bands as it looks stormy.

UPDATE 2025z: Just a very slight rain shower. I think the storms passed us by.

Lunch in the garden - NOT amateur radio

Today the temperature is 32 deg C right now. Lunchtime we ate in the garden. This is me tucking in to pasta. We came in later as it was too hot.

QSY to 2m FT8

Stations spotting my
10W FT8 on 2m today
At least for the moment, the 6m Es here seems to have stopped, so at 1358z I QSYed to 2m FT8.

So far, my 10W to the big wheel omni antenna has been spotted by 16 stations in 4 countries (it is now only 1406z) with best DX a spot by GI6ATZ (479km). Not bad in just 8 minutes with low power!

MLS IC-705 unboxing video

MLS has got hold of an IC-705 ICOM transceiver. On the "something for the weekend" video they do an unboxing. See the MLS website.

Distant Kings - NOT amateur radio

On our walk earlier this morning we could see Kings College in the far distance.  The university library is also visible. Sorry the photo is so poor!

10m WSPR TX (500mW to the indoor loop)

At 0833z, the W5OLF 10m WSPR beacon was turned on. Already spotted by a Swiss station by Es.

UPDATE  1409z: Spotted by 3 unique stations so far.

6m FT8

At 0833z, my 10W to the V2000 vertical omni antenna was turned on. So far, I have been spotted by 8 stations already, many by Es.

Early walk - NOT amateur radio

As today is supposed to get very hot, we did a very early morning walk. We set off at 0545z! The photo shows me on the walk around the nearby village of Reach. This is a delightful walk with a mix of views. At one point we could just make out the roof of Kings College Chapel, about 10 miles way in Cambridge.

Gone? - NOT amateur radio

As the weather was hot in the east of the UK yesterday, we spent some time in the garden in the late afternoon. What was different?

In May, June and July the screaming sound of swifts feeding on the wing was very common. Yesterday was different. In nearly an hour I saw just 1 swift.

The impression is that younger swifts hav seen overheade already started their migration back to central Africa. Normally most adult birds leave by mid-August spending just a few months here to return next April/May.

They are ephemeral birds: when they are with us they are very common - usually the screaming is heard first - then they are gone again and the skies are quiet. On better evenings 20 plus birds can be seen overhead.

To me, they are symbols of a UK summer and I miss them when they go and eagerly look forward to their return next spring.

UPDATE 0840z:  6 swifts seen overhead this morning.

Sunspots - Friday July 31st 2020

Hopeful signs. Solar flux is 73 and the SSN still 11.  A=4 and K=1.

30 Jul 2020

2m FT8

Just after 1900z, I QSYed fron 6m FT8 to 2m FT8. I am using 10W to the big-wheel omni antenna. So far (it is now 1908z) My signal has been copied by 19 stations in 3 countries. Best DX spot of me was by GD3YEO (384km).

G4CLA (106km) is getting me at an incredible +14dB S/N.  I suspect he must have a very big antenna and a superb take-off. In most 2m and 70cm activity contests he works me even though I only run 10W and a 2m big-wheel omni antenna.

UPDATE 2052z: QRT.

Wineberries - NOT amateur radio

On our visit to nearby Anglesey Abbey we noticed these berries. They looked like raspberries (perhaps a bit smaller) but were in clusters. Investigations suggest these are wineberries which came from Japan. I am told they are edible (but do check as I am no expert!). I had not seen them before.

10m WSPR beacon (500mW to the indoor loop)

At about 0845z I turned on my little W5OLF 10m WSPR TX beacon. Yesterday was amazing. Nothing yet so far today.

UPDATE 1145z:  11 unique stations have spotted me so far this morning. Not bad.

6m FT8

At about 0845z, the 6m FT8 gear was turned on (10W to the V2000 vertical omni). Already there is lots of Es around. Already spotted by 6 stations in southern Europe.

UPDATE 1145z:   So far this morning I have been spotted by 15 stations and I have spotted 30 stations. Just 1 QSO so far.

UPDATE 1417z:  The Es seems to have stopped for now. 16 stations have spotted me today on 6m FT8 and I have spotted 36 stations.

Where I come from - NOT amateur radio

This photo (shown before) shows where I come from in South Devon. We owned some land here in the 1400s.

Oscar 100 - SO quiet!

Yesterday lunchtime I took a listen on the geosynchronous Oscar 100 satellite. When I listened to the narrowband transponder on the web SDR at Goonhilly I was amazed how quiet it was. The only QSO was one between a G and an F.

Especially with so many at home, I was expecting it to be quite busy by now. I think people lose interest after they make their first QSOs.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

Yesterday's walk - NOT amateur radio

Sugar beet (I think) 
Most days since Covid-19 forced us to stay at home, we have tried to do a walk.

Yesterday was no exception so we walked up to the Devil's Dyke, an ancient man made structure in Cambridgeshire built about 1400 years ago. It is about 7 miles long and is a defensive earthwork. How did they get the manpower?

There is another earthwork with the same name near the south coast of the UK.

On our way we saw fields of sugar beet (I think) and sweetcorn. Years ago you would not have seen sweetcorn. Nowadays you see fields of sunflowers and sweetcorn. These are crops that grow well here due to the climate warming.

Because of my giddiness, each walk seems a lot longer. All the time I feel as if I am about to fall so I have to watch each step. This is particularly hard on pavements (sidewalks) as it seems as if I am about to fall into the path of cars. When cars are coming up from behind it is particularly unnerving.

70cm activity contest results

The results of the RSGB organised activity contest have published.

It shows my position in the low power section has improved.

I am only using 10W and my 2m big-wheel omni antenna. Because of my voice I stay on for less than an hour.

Sunspots - Thursday July 30th 2020

Solar flux is 73 and the SSN 22. A=5 and K=1.

29 Jul 2020

Zoom meetings - NOT amateur radio

Since the lockdown many of us have had to rely on Zoom to see friends and family.  I have been impressed. The photo shows a Zoom meeting earlier.

What a difference a day makes!

As yesterday, my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon was turned on with the tiny indoor loop antenna. Yesterday no spots all day yet already several from Norway even though it is only 0742z.

UPDATE 1110z:  10 unique stations have spotted me so far.

UPDATE 1857z: Today is the best day this season on 10m WSPR TX with 34 unique stations spotting me so far. Nothing yesterday at all, then today!!

UPDATE 2140z:  QRT.

6m FT8

This morning I made a very early start on 6m FT8 turning on the gear at 0644z. At 0605z 5 stations had already spotted my 10W FT8 to the V2000 vertical omni antenna. There is already some Es.

UPDATE 0720z:  Plenty of Es spots of me today already on 6m FT8.

UPDATE 1200z:  Several QSOs had, mainly with stations in Spain. 55 stations have spotted me and I have spotted 90 stations including transatlantic VO1HP (3744km).

UPDATE 1907z:  432 stations spotted today on 6m FT8 RX and 151 stations have spotted my 10W to the V2000 omni vertical.

UPDATE 2150z:  QRT.

Elecraft July newsletter

Elecraft has released its latest newsletter which mentions a virtual expo and the latest news on the K4 transceiver. See their website.

Growing up fast - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows our "London" grandchildren next to a yew tree almost 1000 years old. Quite humbling to think it has stood here that long. It puts their age in context.

Pye Telecom PF8 transceiver

This radio, that I helped to design, has gathered a cult status over the years. It was the radio used on the UK TV series called "The Professionals".

Some have been converted to use on 70cm. Before anyone asks, no, I cannot help you find one!  They are rare these days. I do not possess one and neither do my old colleagues.  My best advice is keep your eyes skimmed in case any appear on eBay or at rallies. Looking back, we did not sell that many. We made more pagers in one night, than the total number of PF8 units sold.

That was the trouble with PMR radios. Once we faced significant price competition, we just could not compete. These days you can buy UHF PMR transceivers for a fraction of the price 40 years ago.

On my website is a .pdf version of the manual.

In its day, way before cellular radios, it was quite ground breaking.

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

Shopping - NOT amateur radio

Every Tuesday morning my wife drives to a nearby supermarket in their "geriatric hour" (between 7-8am). It is always very safe and very quiet when she goes.

She now has to wear a face covering by law.

20m WSPR buoy

Some weeks ago a High School group in the USA launched a marine buoy with a 20m WSPR beacon on board. It moves with ocean currents.

I am not sure if it has been copied in Europe or what power it runs. It is in the Pacific Ocean off California.

It can be tracked using https://aprs.fi/#!call=a%2FKQ6RS-1&others=1&timerange=604800&tail=3600

Sunspots - Wednesday July 29th 2020

Solar flux is 72 and the SSN 22.   A=4 and K=2. Encouraging signs or just a blip?

28 Jul 2020

2m FT8

As the Es seems to have stopped on 6m, I have QSYed to 2m FT8 instead. I QSYed at about 1800z. Already spotted by 9 stations, all in the UK.

UPDATE 1928z:  Now spotted by 29 stations in 6 countries with 1 QSO with a French station. Still just running 10W and the big-wheel omni antenna. Best DX on TX is a spot by DK1VC (503km). Not bad with 10W and an omni antenna! Although some put this down to aircraft scatter I am definitely not convinced. These sort of ranges seem possible at any time, not when there are aircraft in the right place at the right time. I think this is some other form of scatter made possible by running FT8.

10m WSPR TX (500mW to the indoor loop)

Since very early, I have been on 10m WSPR TX. Even at 1753z, I have had not a single spot today so far.

UPDATE 1930z:  Still no spots of me! This must be one of the worst days for me this Es season. I think chances are better with FT8. There is far more activity on FT8 than WSPR these days.

UPDATE 2045z:  QRT. No spots all day.

6m FT8

Since before breakfast, I have been on 6m FT8. It is now 1748z. In all, I have been spotted by 67 stations with a few QSOs. On RX 82 stations spotted.

By accident I seem to have deleted my earlier blog piece about 6m FT8 along with Keith's comment.  Please accept my apologies!

Keith G0RQQ had said...

"I managed to work TF8KY on 6m, both FT8 and SSB around 1:00pm. At times he was S9 here, although my antenna is only an end-fed half-wave for 40m about 1.5m agl. He and his son TF8TY are the only amateurs in grid square HP83."


The photo, which has been on before, shows the shack as it is currently. The 10m magnetic loop is on the left. It has been on 10m WSPR TX all day (500mW) , but has not been spotted yet. Hopefully there will be some spots before I go QRT later.  It works far better than expected. 

Operating is from the desk on the right and what building I do (little these days sadly) is on the work surface straight ahead. 

Local bakers - NOT amateur radio

Every Tuesday at 7am I do a trip to the local bakers. At that time it is very quiet. I usually buy rolls and pasties. The photo shows the shop just as it opened.

OFCOM and trains

OFCOM is trying to improve broadband on trains and is considering releasing some more microwave frequencies (sorry, airwaves) to enable this. See the OFCOM website for more details.

I see they always have this in Welsh too. Why not Urdu or some African languages too? Or Gaelic maybe? Translating from English to some strange language would keep someone busy and beat real RF work any day.  Oh, make sure the person has a different colour skin and one leg and is non-binary. This gives you even more browny points for diversity.

Cynical? Me?

Chinese lanterns - NOT amateur radio

These plants are usually associated with autumn, but we saw these on our walk on Sunday, which is pretty early in the year.

They are very colourful and attractive plants.

DXCC news

Many years ago I ceased chasing DX. If I work DX then great, but I am not prepared to invest in high power rigs, towers, linears and beams as well as hours and hours calling. Life is just too short. If this "floats your boat" that is fine. Each to their own. Just count me out.

A useful list of current DXCC entities is shown on the Southgate News website.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/july/dxcc-report-26-07.htm#.Xx8dQIjYq00

Sunspots - Tuesday July 28th 2020

Solar flux is 71 and the sunspot number 11. A=4 and K=1.

27 Jul 2020

10m WSPR TX (500mW to the indoor loop)

Whilst on the East Cambs 2m net,  I had the 10m WSPR beacon running. I was getting spots from Denmark.  It is now 1945z and it is still on.

UPDATE 2030z:  5 unique stations spotting my 10m WSPR tonight. I have only been on for about 90 minutes.

Fungus - NOT amateur radio

We saw the fungus in the photo on our walk yesterday. It was on an old tree stump.

Swifts (birds) - NOT amateur radio

Swifts are migratory birds that spend a lot of time in Africa. They breed in the UK. These birds sleep on the wing and are a common sight in UK skies in early summer. These stay for only a few months. For several weeks these birds can be seen screaming in the skies above our heads. Quite suddenly we realise they are not there any more. The skies are quiet. They usually arrive here in late April and early May.  The arrival of the first swift is always significant for me.

The only time they land is to breed.  Numbers have fallen as their nest sites are disappearing. The RSPB is trying to encourage us to erect swift nestboxes to reverse this. I hope it succeeds.

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

New radio?

About a year ago I bought a Yaesu FT991A.  At the right price I may, at a later date, trade this in for an ICOM IC-705. I am a QRP man and only use the FT991A at low power.

With simple antennas, the FT991A has worked some impressive DX on the VHF bands especially.

Often with new rigs there are teething troubles that are fixed with firmware or hardware improvements. I am in no hurry. Certainly my advice is avoid early models if buying new.

I like the features and coverage of the IC-705 and the fact it has no fan and can run at 5W off the attached battery which can be charged via the USB lead. It has D-STAR, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS. I wish it had 4m and an internal auto-ATU.

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

Currency fluctuations - NOT amateur radio

In recent days, the exchange rates of the UK Pound against the Euro, US Dollar and Japanese Yen have been varying quite bit. Against the US Dollar it has appreciated quite a bit whereas against the Euro it has lost value.

I guess in such matters one has take a long view. Against the Euro I doubt things will be clearer until the end of 2020 when the EU-UK transition period ends. Against the US Dollar I guess a lot hinges on the Presidential election in November.

The more immediate issue is the Covid-19 pandemic which rather turns things on their heads. The whole world faces the prospect of high unemployment and recession. We are in for hard times ahead. Let us hope we all emerge into a kinder, cleaner world. Things will change. This is a wake-up call for us all.

365project (a picture a day) - NOT amateur radio

For the last 7 years both my wife and I have done the 365project, where we post a picture every day. Some people post astounding photos, whereas others use it as a kind of visual diary. Most of mine would win no prizes! It is good to see how the grandchildren have changed. Looking back over the years, they have changed a lot.

If you are happy with others seeing your postings it is totally free. Otherwise you can choose other things like more albums or total privacy for $19.99 a year. This is totally separate from Microsoft.

One posted today was of a longhorn in New Zealand, shown in the photo.

See https://365project.org/

2m FT8

So far, it is now 0943z, I have been spotted by 8 stations on 2m FT8 (10W and the big-wheel omni antenna) with best DX being a spot by EI8IQ (462km). On 2m FT8 RX 7 stations spotted with the best DX being EA1SA (1034km) in northern Spain. I suspect this is tropo. No QSOs yet.

UPDATE 1055z:  So far today, I have been spotted by 11 stations in 3 countries.

UPDATE 1225z:  16 spots on 2m FT8 of me so far. Best QSO was with F6ANO (430km) near Paris.

UPDATE 1727z:  51 spots in 7 countries of my 10W 2m FT8 so far today. On RX 48 stations spotted here in 6 countries. No Es today, but still pretty good.

6m FT8

After the surprise on 2m FT8 yesterday, I think I shall go on 6m FT8 today. The gear will be turned on shortly.  It is now 0815z. As usual, I shall be using  10W and the V2000 vertical omni fed with low cost CB coax.

UPDATE 0928z: After a very brief time on 6m FT8 where the TX was not working correctly due to a high SWR (water ingress?) I have moved to 2m. Plenty of Es evident on 6m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1831z:  I am back on 6m FT8. I think the SWR issue must have been something to do with wet as things seem normal again now it is dry. 47 spots of my 6m FT8 in just a few minutes! On 6m FT8 RX 31 stations spotted already, mostly Es. At almost the end of July we are still seeing plenty of Es on 6m.

UPDATE 2120z: 64 spots of my 10W 6m FT8 TX to the V2000 vertical omni antenna.

Yesterday on 2m FT8

Stations spotted yesterday here
on 2m FT8 RX with the
big-wheel omni antenna
Quite remarkable seeing I only use 10W and an omni big-wheel antenna. In all, I was spotted by 88 stations in 16 countries and I spotted 150 stations. And this is 2m!!

Clearly I caught some Es. At first, I could not believe it.

8m allocations

A few days ago I asked John EI7GL if he knew which countries had granted people permission to operate on 8m.

At the moment this is very few, but there may be more next year. People need to ask their licensing people for special authority. This may be spot frequencies and limited power and times. In a few years this could be a most interesting band.

Sunspots - Monday July 27th 2020

Solar flux is 71 and the SSN 11. A=3 and K=1.

26 Jul 2020

472kHz transverter

One of my Facebook memories today was this photo of my 472kHz transverter from 8 years ago! I didn't realise it was that long ago.

Toadflax - NOT amateur radio

Just outside our house and garden is the 200 year old windmill.  This patch of toadflax (wild flower) is about 5m from our lounge window. It is on the grass in front of the windmill.

Old village house - NOT amateur radio

Burwell is a large village with a mix of new and old houses. The photo shows one older house seen on our walk earlier.

2m FT8

At the moment I am on 2m FT8 using 10W and the big-wheel omni antenna. So far, 8 stations have spotted me. It is now 0707z.

UPDATE 1340z:  I seem to have caught some 2m Es! On TX my  QRP has been copied as far as Serbia with best DX YT7PWR (1642km) and on 2m FT8 RX I have copied as far as Moldova. The map shows where my 2m FT8 signal has reached so far today. Quite remarkable. 136 stations spotted on RX so far today.

UPDATE 1435z:  64 spots of me today on 2m FT8 in 14 countries.

UPDATE 1553z:  75 2m FT8 spots of me today.

UPDATE 2300z:   QRT.

Interesting antenna

Chris, M0PZC, has sent me details of an interesting VHF antenna called the Hourglass that can be made with simple materials. He has built one in his loft.

Next week we may have a sked on 2m FT8 or SSB to try it out between us. I think we are about 60-70 miles apart. It is bidirectional and has a very useful gain over a dipole.

I see the ARRL website has an article on this antenna available for non-members to read.

See http://www.arrl.org/files/file/QST/This%20Month%20in%20QST/December2018/Stanley.pdf

Sunspots - Sunday July 26th 2020

Solar flux is 70 and the sunspot number 11. A=15 and K=1.

25 Jul 2020

2m FT8 (10W and the big wheel)

For about 2 minutes before going QRT I tried 2m FT8. 5 stations spotted me.

Facebook memory - NOT amateur radio

This photo appeared as a FB memory. It shows our wedding anniversary 9 years ago with our grandson ogling the cake.

10m report

Some months ago, I mentioned the 10m report on Southgate News. My main complaint was that without being clear where stations were being heard or worked from it was of limited use. For example, if PY is being copied from LU do we care? What really matters is what real DX can be worked from where we live. It would be really useful if it made clear what DX was being worked from the UK.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/bands/10metres/2020/july/july-16.htm#.XxvpYojYq00

Chromebooks - NOT amateur radio

Late last year I bought a Chromebook. Not a day passes without being very pleased I did. Its battery easily lasts all day, it boots up in seconds,  and it seems to do everything I want.

Yesterday I tried to print a QR code on my Windows PC. Despite several attempts it refused for some reason. Today I tried with my Chromebook and it printed first time.

Stroke and getting older - NOT amateur radio

Back in 2013, out of the blue, I had a stroke that put me in hospital for 3.5 months. It was a shock. For a couple of years I expected to get back to normal. Indeed, most of me works although my voice is poor and I feel giddy almost all the time. Otherwise I am fairly fine. Certainly others looking at me consider me "normal" whatever that means!

Getting older it is harder to tell what is a lingering after-effect of that stroke and what is just old age creeping in. As mentioned before, one's outlook on life changes.  When younger, life seemed endless, whereas as we become older we are more aware of our limited lifespan.

Many of us have seen people of our age, or younger, die. I guess as someone said a few weeks ago, he gets up and says to himself, "I am alive and I going to enjoy today". Certainly each day is a gift.

10m FT8

For a change, I am on 10m FT8 with the tiny indoor loop antenna and under 5W. The gear was turned on at about 0550z.No spots yet as of 0605z.

UPDATE 0813z:  No spots yet.

UPDATE 1122z:  15 spots of me on 10m FT8 so far today. 69 stations spotted here.

Stations spotting me today on
10m FT8 QRP with the indoor loop
UPDATE 2039z:  385 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 with the indoor loop with best DX spotted being UN7JOV (5261km). 60 stations have so far spotted me on 10m FT8. I am running about 4W.  Several QSOs had within Europe. Seeing how we are meant to be at the end of the Es season, conditions still seem good to me. For a change I may try 2m FT8 tomorrow with the big-wheel omni.

Transatlantic DX again on 6m FT8

Although the main Es season is meant to be drawing to a close, I still was able to spot WU1ITU (4836km) on 6m FT8 RX yesterday. He was a very strong signal, suggesting Es. Maybe this was just a short burst, but it shows that the path opened albeit briefly.

Sunspots - Saturday July 25th 2020

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 11. A=11 and K=2

24 Jul 2020

Eating out - NOT amateur radio

We ate out tonight for the first time since March. Everything seemed totally normal. Food was excellent as was the service. In all, 4 tables were occupied.

OFCOM and WiFi

Today, OFCOM announced it is allocating more spectrum for wi-fi. See the OFCOM website for more details.

What a difference! - NOT amateur radio

A year ago our local museum had its fete (see photo). Until August 6th this year it has remained closed. They are reopening Thursdays only for a few hours with donations only. Normally they open Thursdays, Sundays and bank holidays. It is staffed largely by volunteers.

10m WSPR TX (500mW to indoor loop)

As the WSPR beacon by W5OLF is totally independent of the PC, I can TX on 10m WSPR at any time. I keep forgetting!

For about 10 minutes the WSPR beacon has been on. It is now 0755z. No spots.

6m FT8

It is now 0745z. A few moments ago, the 6m FT8 gear was turned on (10W and the V2000 vertical omni antenna). 3 G spots received on TX, but no RX spots yet. No QSOs.

UPDATE 0830z:  3 stations spotted so far on 6m FT8 RX with best DX SV6GIM (2101km). Some Es evident.

UPDATE 0937z: 7 stations have now spotted me and 19 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX this morning.

8m allocations

John, EI7GL, seems to have the best information on 8m allocations. I have asked John if he is aware of other countries/stations that have been granted access to this interesting band. You may be aware that Eire has granted access and a few other stations in other countries have asked for special permission to carry out tests.

See https://ei7gl.blogspot.com/p/40-mhz.html

Sunspots - Friday July 24th 2020

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 11. A=4 and K=1. Still waiting for that upturn!

23 Jul 2020

OFCOM and emerging techologies

OFCOM is asking for inputs on the impact of emerging technologies. See their website.

6m FT8 today

It is now 0658z. A few moments ago I turned on my 6m FT8 gear on with 10W and the V2000 vertical omni. So far just a couple of UK stations have spotted me and nothing on RX.  I guess it's a bit early for Es.

UPDATE 1611z: So far today, my 10W on 6m FT8 has been spotted by 27 stations and I have spotted 118 stations.  Just 1 QSO. The impression I am getting is there is still Es around, but less of it.

UPDATE  2110z:  Going QRT shortly. Today, 37 stations spotted my 10W. On RX 140 stations spotted on 6m FT8.

Yesterday on 6m FT8

Yesterday I was late getting on 6m FT8 as we had one of our sons and his children.

In all, 6 stations spotted my 10W FT8 and 30 stations were spotted here. Es is still here.

2m UKAC Activity contest

The latest results have been published and in the low power section I still seem be about a third way down the table. Seeing I am active for about 40% of the time and just use an omni antenna, I am well pleased.

Ultra low power consumption

Recently I bought a new door bell. Unlike my old one, the bell is powered by just pressing the button - no batteries!! I guess you only need power for a few milliseconds. In the past I have seen CW transmitters powered by just pressing the Morse key. Some years ago Michael Rainey in the USA made a CW TX that was powered by shouting in to a loudspeaker.

Do you know of others?

Yesterday at Kingfisher Bridge nature reserve - NOT amateur radio

The collage shows our son and his children at Kingfisher Bridge nature reserve yesterday. It not far from us.

Our younger grandson is very observant. A walk that should have been 1 hour took far longer!

Beetle - NOT amateur radio

This fellow was seen last night. It was about 3cm long.

Oscar 100 update

Regularly, I give an update on activity through the narrowband transponder of Oscar 100, the geosychronous satellite made available to radio amateurs in early 2019. I check the Goonhilly web SDR periodically.

My last very unscientific look suggests that activity levels remain very low. The level of activity continues to surprise me. By now, I would have expected it to be very crowded.

I guess these days it is too hard for most "black box" operators. After all, you have to assemble things and aim dishes! 😀

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

Learning CW

With modes like FT8, many people may question why we still need CW. My answer is with CW it is possible to build very simple rigs that can work a very long way.

As an example my recent article in RadCom shows 2 simple circuits and my 15m CW Pipit transceiver (on my main website) was used for a first contact with the USA many years ago despite only having an output of just 800mW. This was with just a simple, low, wire dipole.

Sunspots Thursday July 23rd 2020

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 11. A=3 and K=1.

22 Jul 2020

OFCOM annual report and accounts 2020

You will be thrilled to know that OFCOM has published its latest report and accounts. See the OFCOM website for more details. Don't all rush.

6m FT8

Since about 1355z I have been on 6m FT8 with the 10W and the V2000 vertical omni antenna. It is now 1405z.  So far, I have been spotted by  just a couple of UK stations and no QSOs.

UPDATE 2030z:  QRT. On TX 15 stations spotted me (no QSOs) and on RX 30 stations spotted.

With the Kent grandchildren - NOT amateur radio

This photo shows us with the Kent grandchildren yesterday.

Kingfisher Bridge nature reserve - NOT amateur radio

This morning we went for a walk around Kingfisher Bridge nature reserve. They have introduced water buffalo which are natives of Africa.

VLF tests in Devon

A couple of stations in South Devon, G3WCB and G4IUG are doing some tests with sub-10kHz transmissions with earth-electrodes. They can use high power and GPS lock. So far they have covered 1km with Hellschreiber. They can cover far further. It would not surprise me if they were spotted by Paul Nicholson in Yorkshire as long as they can send a long stable signal that can be integrated. This may need days of integration.

See https://sites.google.com/site/sub9khz/news20 for more information.

Sunspots - Wednesday July 22nd 2020

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 11. A=4 and K=1. Sunspots return!

Younger son with his daughter - NOT amateur radio

Our younger son with his daughter yesterday. I am in the background.

21 Jul 2020

More grandchildren - NOT amateur radio

We have more grandchildren staying with us. The house is chaos! We love seeing them but how can they make such a mess? :-)

6m FT8

At about 0700z my 6m FT8 gear was turned on. As usual I was running 10W to the V2000 vertical omni antenna. It is now 0824z. On TX I have been spotted by 20 stations so far.

Visit to the bakers

Early every Tuesday I make a trip to the local bakers. Usually I am there just as they open. It is well stocked, but very quiet at that time. Later this week face coverings become mandated in all English shops. The photo shows the last shop before the new rules come into effect.

Sunspots - Tuesday July 21st 2020

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

20 Jul 2020

Tokyo Ham Fair cancelled

Southgate News reports that the Tokyo Ham Fair that starts at the end of October has been cancelled. You may recall that the IC-705 was first announced there last year. Many manufacturers must miss this showcase. Maybe they will make announcements online instead?

Coronavirus good news - NOT amateur radio

The BBC reports that the Oxford vaccine to fight Covid-19 is showing promise. Early days but promising. There is also some good news about a drug treatment. We deserve a break.

6m FT8

A few moments ago I turned on the 6m FT8 kit. As usual running 10W to the V2000 vertical omni antenna. It is now 0955z and 10 stations have spotted me today so far.

UPDATE 1100z: So far today 33 spots of me.

UPDATE 1816z: 60 spots of me so far today.

8m band

It was reported that the Eire 40MHz beacon has been copied in Austria. I have no idea if a crossband QSO followed. Some stations have been granted special permission to operate on 8m.

Garden tea again - NOT amateur radio

For the second time we managed tea in the garden. Weather was fine on the whole as the photo shows. This is some of our family.

Sunspots - Monday July 20th 2020

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

19 Jul 2020

Bird count - NOT amateur radio

Every month my brother does part of the bird count on the Kingsbridge Estuary in Devon. This photo shows Blanksmill Creek earlier. Looks a bit overcast.

6m FT8 today

Since about 1025z I have been on 6m FT8 with 10W and the V2000 vertical omni.

UPDATE 1045z:  Spotted by 20 stations so far today.

Stations spotted
so far today
UPDATE 1707z: The map shows the stations spotted by me so far today - 77. All within Europe apart from the Canary Islands.

UPDATE 2005z:  QRT. I expect the main Es season will be ending soon, although with FT8 I am sure we will see some Es until much later. I recall on SSB QRP 6m working SMs way into September, so with FT8 we can expect this at least. If people stick with 6m FT8, it would not surprise me if we see some Es every day at some point. OK, I suspect the days with widespread openings will end, but some brief openings are still likely.

Breakfast chat - NOT amateur radio

The was one of our grandchildren chatting to my wife at the breakfast table earlier.

Yesterday's party - NOT amateur radio

The collage shows more views of our party on the green near us yesterday.

6m FT8 yesterday

On TX 142 stations in Europe spotted me and 303 stations spotted here.

Sunspots - Sunday July 19th 2020

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN 0. A=4 and K=0. Still poor.

18 Jul 2020

Party - NOT amateur radio

As it was someone's special birthday we had a socially distanced party on our green as the photo shows.

10m FT8 (500mW and the indoor loop)

Until about 1130z, I am on 10m WSPR. Using the indoor loop, I shall turn things off to prevent the risk of RF burns to the grandchildren who are arriving this afternoon.  As yet, no spots received. It has been on for about an hour. It is now 1037z.

New ICOM IC-705 video

Southgate News has a piece linking to the new ICOM video about the SDR based ICOM IC-705 QRP rig.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/july/introducing-the-ic-705-qrp-sdr-transceiver.htm#.XxK49YjYq00

See also https://icomuk.co.uk/IC-705-HF-VHF-UHF-Mobile-Transceiver/3977/1338/14/

Wireless charging

In the last few years things appear to have moved on with wireless charging now available at very competitive prices. I assume the device has to have a way of receiving the inductive field. Is that what they mean by "QI compatible"?

I expect some amateur radio manufacturer will catch on so that some 2m and 70cm handhelds can be charged by simply placing the rig on a charging pad. I would expect this to be a flexible PCB coil within the battery. They could even reduce bill of material (BOM) costs by building the cells within the radio body and not even selling a charger. I expect either a Chinese manufacturer or ICOM will be first. You can imagine the Yaesu engineers saying "that's a good idea, why didn't we think of that?".

See https://www.7dayshop.com/products/esr-tidal-universal-wireless-fast-usb-c-adaptive-charging-pad-10w-charger-black-x000udd0e3

Dog - NOT amateur radio

In the next road is a dog that wails whenever a police siren sounds: we hear the police car, wait a few moments, then we hear the dog! It must think it is a mate.

6m FT8

Since about 0750z, I have been active on 6m FT8 with 10W and the V2000 vertical omni antenna. 16 European spots of me already. Just a single G spotted on RX and no QSOs. It is now 0801z.

UPDATE 0837z: 5 stations now spotted on RX and 24 stations have spotted me. No QSOs yet today.

Cornfield walk - NOT amateur radio

One of our favourite walks takes us across this cornfield. At the moment the corn is ripening.

Sunspots - Saturday July 18th 2020

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN 0. A=4 and K=1.

17 Jul 2020

Sunflower - NOT amateur radio

On our walk this morning we saw our first sunflower out. Ideal today with sunshine all day. It was a nice day all day - the best this month.

10m FT8

It is now 0750z. For about an hour I have been on 10m FT8 with the tiny indoor loop antenna and 5W.  So far 15 stations spotted and 1 spot of me.

UPDATE 1057z: 15 spots of me so far today.

Getting older - NOT amateur radio

At 71 and a few years longer lived than my dad and granddad, I guess it is fairly natural to contemplate mortality.

Years ago, life seemed endless. These days I am more aware just how finite life is. I suppose I could live another 30 years or I could die today. At one time I seemed invincible whereas I now feel in my last years. More of my friends have died.

Generally I am a "glass half full" kind of person, so I still think long term.

Sunspots - Friday July 17th 2020

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

16 Jul 2020

Finningley rally postponed

Today I heard about another postponed rally. As before, this is as I received it, so the background may make it hard to read on some screens. The summary is the Finningley Rally has been postponed.


FINNINGLEY ARS RALLY. The Hurst Communications Centre, Belton Road, Sandtoft, Doncaster DN8 5SX Doors open 10am. Free parking. Massive indoor / outdoor traders area with major traders and club stalls from microwave components to QRP kits. Hot food and drinks all day. Admission £3. Contact Kevin G3AAF on 07831 614640 or Kevin.Avery@tunstall.com 0r Martin M0HOM on 07966 479 195 or martin.m0hom@gmail.com.

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

Yet more - NOT amateur radio

It seems that every space in our village is being used to erect new houses. These are not houses for the people that really need them, but large homes for the well healed that work in nearby Cambridge. I guess these maximise profits for the builders.

The latest are being built on what was a field. I have no idea how many homes are being built, but I would expect at least 4. It would be nice to be a "fly on the wall" to see what was the village was like years ago. The trouble is that when new places go up you cannot remember what was there before!

10m FT8 (5W to indoor loop)

It is now 0912z. Since about 0900z, I have been on 10m FT8. A couple of European spots of my 5W already received and the best DX on 10m FT8 RX is JA9CVH (8770km) in Japan.

The loop 
This tiny indoor loop continues to amaze me. It is just fixed to a chair in the downstairs shack yet I continue to get fantastic results.

UPDATE 1904z: 110 stations copied on 10m FT8 RX and 26 stations have spotted my 5W (or less) on 10m FT8 TX today. In some situations I was using 3W. Several QSOs had (all within Europe).

UPDATE 2106z:  130 stations spotted on RX and 30 stations spotted my 5W or less 10m FT8 TX. Several QSOs, all European via Es.

Me in 1968 - NOT amateur radio

One of my Facebook memories today was this photo of me in 1968 when I still had lots of hair!

World population - NOT amateur radio

According to recent research the world population is expected to peak mid century and then fall dramatically as the birth rate nose dives. One consequence will be more old people and fewer youngsters. The concern is taxes and care of an ageing population.

It probably means more migration and different employment opportunities. From a world resources view point I think this is good news: more food to go around and less environmental damage.

QRP transceiver ideas in RSGB RadCom

FETer 80m CW transceiver
It was pleasing to see my article in the August 2020 edition of RadCom on ultra simple QRP transceiver ideas. There are a couple of circuit ideas, one for 80m and one for 10m. 

These are extremely simple circuits that would make nice wet weekend lockdown projects. One uses just a single FET and the other just 2 transistors. Remember, these are complete transceivers!

As I state in the article, please don't be afraid to experiment. My hope is that, like me, you adapt the circuits to find what works best for you. The circuits are simple and like all simple rigs, they are compromises.

Both work and have been used on the air. More details are on my main website and YouTube channel.