31 Oct 2020

2m FT8

At about 1656z I QSYed to 2m FT8 using 2.5W to the big-wheel omni antenna. I was on 10m earlier. Just a spot by G0OFC (81km) so far and nothing yet on RX. As usual I can use the grabber at G0LRD to check on my signal. See .

Stations spotting my 2m
FT8 QRP this evening

UPDATE 2222z: 13 stations in 3 countries have spotted me.  On RX 22 stations in 5 countries spotted.

UPDATE 2234z:  QRT.

Next autumn

This autumn has been strange. With luck we should see a Covid-19 vaccine widely available and the health implications of our pandemic crisis should be largely behind us. It will take years for the economies of the world to re-adjust, but they will.

On the amateur radio front, we should be climbing up sunspot cycle 25 and North Americans should be reliably coming through on 10m. In the last peak there were VE and W stations on 10m AM coming though just above 29MHz. I even copied some well on a super-regen RX mobile! If the solar predictions are to be believed, the next solar cycle will be much like the last. Compared with the 1950s, this was a poor affair, but 10m was once again a good DX band.

Dr John Campbell - NOT amateur radio

This has been a strange year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. For open, clear and good summaries of the pandemic I turn to the videos produced by Dr John Campbell. These were recommended to me by a doctor many months ago.


Halloween 2020 - NOT amateur radio

This year is strange in so many ways. Children are being encouraged not to go "trick or treating" this year and instead enjoy Halloween at home. The collage shows some of the pumpkins seen on our walk earlier. 

10m FT8 QRP

At about 0830z my 10m FT8 was turned on. As usual I am running 2.5W to the indoor loop antenna. 

UPDATE 1121z: 2 spots of me on TX with the best -7dB S/N by SV1AVD (2410km). With this tiny poorer loop (see photo), I find this incredible.  22 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX with the furthermost being UA4IU (3290km).

UPDATE 1310z: 11 stations have spotted me and 59 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1415z: 12 stations have now spotted my 2.5W 10m FT8 from the indoor loop antenna.

Sunspots - Saturday October 31st 2020

 Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 32.  A=5 and K=1.

30 Oct 2020

New Yaesu radio

Steve G1KQH has informed me about a new Yaesu radio that will be sold by Martin Lynch. At the moment they will be taking deposits. It is called the FTDX10 and will be an SDR transceiver covering HF, 6m and 4m with 100W. Check the Martin Lynch website for more details.

See https://www.hamradio.co.uk/amateur-radio-base-station-radio-yaesu-base-station-radio/yaesu/ftdx10-compact-hf-50mhz-100w-sdr-transceiver-deposit-free-delivery-pd-12059.php

It will also available from Wimo in Germany at 1798 euros.

See https://www.wimo.com/de/ft-dx10

Fantasy land? - NOT amateur radio

Don't ask me why, but I keep a watch on the currency markets on the BBC website. At the moment, the UK pound is maintaining its value against the US dollar, the euro and the Japanese yen. Some would argue the currency market is just another form of gambling, bearing little resemblance to the real world. This is probably true.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/cx250jmk4e7t/pound-sterling-gbp

10m FT8

Since just before 1500z this afternoon, I QSYed to 10m FT8 using the poorer indoor loop and 2.5W.  Every time I have tried 10m FT8 recently there have been South Americans spotted.  Today was no exception.  I am not sure if this is just F layer all the way or TEP linking with E layer further north. Interestingly, I was spotting EA1 (Northern Spain) at the same time. On TX briefly no spots of me.

Stations spotted today
on 10m FT8 RX

UPDATE 1928z:  73 stations spotted in 3 continents on 10m FT8 RX today so far including 5 in South America. I was going to QSY to 2m, but left 10m FT8 RX running as it was still open. Most stations were in Spain and Portugal.

With the Koniks - NOT amateur radio

Earlier this week we went to a nearby nature reserve with some of our grandchildren. It was very muddy. They keep Konik ponies to help keep the grass under control naturally.

EIRP calculations coming?

Steve G1KQH has told me of a link that I was not aware about. According to a video on the Essex Ham website OFCOM has held consultations which could mean in future radio amateurs may have to know their EIRP either by calculating or measuring it. 

As a dedicated QRP man this does not bother me, but if OFCOM ever investigated an interference complaint they could ask for a risk assessment. Imagine if you ran full legal power and a big HF beam.

See https://youtu.be/Zm0sUhkk6VY .

Getting older - NOT amateur radio

On my next birthday I shall be 72. When younger, life seemed endless and death was rarely on the radar. Nowadays more and more people of my age are dying, so death is more immediate. In the last few months several people that I know have died.

As a younger person, I had a quite strong faith. It was a bit "off the wall" though. These days I am aware of other faiths across the world and I just do not know. Our planet is just one of probably billions in the known universe. Maybe all religions are just attempts to come to terms with our existence. 

I am puzzled by human consciousness. One thing is certain: our brains are small and incapable of answering the deep questions. Somehow I cannot believe that when we die we just cease to exist. Before we were born we knew nothing however. Death remains the ultimate mystery.


US presidential election - NOT amateur radio

The people of the USA vote for their next president next week.  

Every American I have ever met has been kind and generous. On the whole they are warm and kind people. It is not my intention to interfere, but this is a once in 4 year chance to have your say.  Vote!

I am disappointed that the choice is between two 70-80 year olds and am surprised that no-one younger could be found. To the rest of the world it appears like you have to be old to lead the USA!

Although I am not a great Trump fan, Joe Biden will be in his 80s if he is elected and serves a full 4 year term.  It seems to me a choice of who will do the least harm rather than who will be the most dynamic and charismatic leader.

15m FT8 QRP (2.5W to the indoor loop)

Today I am on 21MHz FT8 with the loop indoors and 2.5W.  38 stations spotted so far (at 1055z), but nobody has yet spotted my 2.5W.

UPDATE 1219z:  79 stations in 3 continents spotted so far on 15m FT8 RX with the furthermost being YB2MM (11920km) in Java. On TX 3 spots of me so far. Results with the indoor loop continues to astound me. This is the poorer loop too! On the loop with copper pipe it is several dB better. The first Caribbean  station has just been spotted today.

Stations spotted to 1450z today
UPDATE 1450z: 169 stations spotted on 15m FT8 RX so far today.

WSJT-X bug again

I am more convinced than ever that WSJT-X has a bug with Windows-10. This never happened with earlier versions of WSJT-X. I am using the latest released version. 

For some periods FT8 appears on the waterfall screen with smeary signals and no decodes. It is as if the decoder does not "get" the signals correctly. After a time it corrects itself and decoding starts. 

This is a real pain.

I might try the latest release candidate to see if this is better.

APRS - more than just position data

 APRS has never been used here, but Southgate News has a piece on using APRS for so much more.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/october/aprs-more-than-just-position-data.htm#.X5vZxruTK00

Sunspots - Friday October 30th 2020

Solar flux is 85 and the SSN 35. A=14 and K=0. Things are definitely getting a bit better.

29 Oct 2020

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

For the last few minutes (it is now 1900z) I have been on 2m FT8. So far, I have been spotted by 4 stations with the furthermost being G4HGI (244km).  Although I have spotted some stations these appear not to have uploaded to PSKreporter.

UPDATE 2205z: QRT. 1 QSO Earlier. 

Grandson's art - NOT amateur radio

Our younger grandson is 11. His latest paintings are attached.  There are other pictures (much earlier) on my main website.   In my view (even though I admit a degree of bias!) he has talent, unlike his grandparents!

Another cancelled rally

Not unexpectedly, the Holsworthy rally in Devon, due to take place this Sunday, November 1st, has been cancelled. 

Let us hope that things get better next year. They can hardly get worse. At least we know this is a nasty blip.  We will get over it. It is hard to think that right now!

IC-705 antennas

As the IC-705 is becoming more widely available, minds are turning to portable antennas. 

From my own limited experience, I can say that magnetic loops work and are small. They are not ideal where frequent changes of frequency are required (if efficient they are very sharp) but they are ideal for modes like FT8 or PSK where most of the time you are within a few kilohertz. 

With high power, often vacuum sealed capacitors are needed. With QRP, ordinary capacitors are fine. Even though the voltages at the high impedance points are high, they are nothing like the kVs seen with higher power.

I suspect loops are down on full-sized antennas, but they work pretty well. Being narrow-band probably helps keep QRN down too. In the absence of external antennas they can be used in the shack. If making the loop yourself use the thickest material you can for the loop inductor: I use central heating copper pipe, but I suspect thick coax would be fine. You don't need much.

I see Southgate News has a piece on a new commercially available loop although it is quite easy to make your own.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/october/al-705-magnetic-loop-antenna-for-the-icom-ic705.htm#.X5qZKLuTK00

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

17m FT8

For about 20 minutes I have been on 17m FT8 (it is now 1020z) with the poorer indoor loop and 2.5W. For some reason (I have to investigate) the better loop is not tuning: something has fallen off or is broken.

So far today, 20 stations spotted on RX with the furthermost being R4PU (3262km) and nothing yet on TX.

UPDATE 1121z: 48 stations spotted so far today. Nobody has yet spotted me on TX and no QSOs.

UPDATE 1417z: 136 spots on RX and 16 spots of me on TX with the tiny indoor loop including N1NK (5327km).

UPDATE 1552z:  23 spots of me so far on 17m FT8 RX with 2.5W and the indoor loop. 192 stations spotted on RX today.

UPDATE 1845z:  28 spots of me so far on 17m FT8 TX.  On RX 241 stations spotted.

Cycle 25 forecasts?

It is some time since I saw a forecast for the magnitude of the next sunspot maximum. 

We certainly seem to be on the up-slopes after the solar minimum. If there have been any recent forecasts, I have missed them! Please let me know if you know of any recent ones. 

The last forecast I saw was expecting the next peak to be broadly similar to the last one. Compared with the huge peaks after WW2 (e.g. 1957), this was a pretty poor one, although 10m was very good at times. I remember a peak (in the 1980s?)  when ZSs were coming in well on 6m SSB with just a wire dipole. It would be good to see that again.

See https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2020/what-will-solar-cycle-25-look-like-sun-prediction-model

Sunspots - Thursday October 29th 2020

Solar flux is 88 (highest for a very long time) and the SSN 36 (also highest for a long time).  A=12 and K=3.

28 Oct 2020

Day off

 Apart from a brief outing this evening on the CDARC 2m FM net, I have had a day off from radio. Usually I go on FT8 on some band. Depending on how the mood takes me this can be anywhere from 30m to 70cm.

CDARC 2m FM Net 145.55MHz - Wednesdays

 This net is being resurrected by 2E0WDN, Steve. It meet at 8pm.

Water buffalo - NOT amateur radio

There is a nature reserve near us which has water buffalo to control the banks. One is shown in the photo. Don't think he likes me! 

Sunspots - Wednesday October 28th 2020

 Solar flux is 82, which is the highest for some time. SSN is 22.  A=9 and K=3. 

27 Oct 2020

Early Halloween - NOT amateur radio

Our grandchildren go home tomorrow so we are having an early Halloween party! 

2m FT8

Just before tea I QSYed to 2m FT8 using 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna. I transmitted very briefly, but most of the time I was RX only. So far today 15 stations in 4 countries spotted. 

UPDATE 2235z: QRT.

Chinese radios

Looking on eBay just now there are several clones of a UK designed SDR transceiver. 

One example is the Ailunce product that retails at £389.99 with free post and packing from the Far East.  The price drops even further if you buy more than one.

What has always bothered me is what happens when it goes wrong? 

At this price, even if you add import duties and VAT it is way below the price of Japanese made products. When the Chinese really get into the amateur radio market (assuming they do) we can expect to see the big Japanese manufacturers really getting a shock.

I gather the UK designer did not register the design, hence the clones.

See https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Ailunce-HS1-Shortwave-SDR-Transceiver-SSB-HF-0-5MHz-30MHz-Station-Ham-Radio-/401905344297?_trksid=p2349526.m4383.l4275.c10

Getting ready - NOT amateur radio

Our grandchildren love Halloween and dressing up and the games. This is one of our grandchildren earlier. 

15m FT8 RX

For about 15 minutes (it is now 1000z) I have been on 15m FT8 RX. So far, 15 stations spotted using the indoor loop. 

UPDATE 1358z:  210 stations spotted so far on 15m FT8 RX today. Best DX spotted is PP5BK (10115km).

UPDATE 1540z: Now 235 stations spotted today on 15m FT8 RX with the indoor loop.

SAQ QSL card

Many years ago I got a QSL card from SAQ in Sweden for successfully copying the historic alternator VLF TX on 17. 2kHz CW. 

This QSL card is very special. 

I am unsure what I used for the RX, probably my homebrew upconverter although there are several options nowadays.

Sunspots - Tuesday October 27th 2020

Solar flux is 75 and the SSN 17. A=75 and K=2.

26 Oct 2020

Konik ponies - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows one of our grandchildren with a friend enjoying the konik ponies at nearby Wicken Fen. 

10m FT8

Although I have been on 10m FT8 RX all morning with the loop, nothing spotted.It is now 1111z. I have just gone on TX (2.5W and the indoor loop). No spots of me so far.

UPDATE 1500z: Just European stations spotted on RX. Local G4BAO has spotted me on TX. 

UPDATE 2250z: QRT. South America spotted every time I have been on 10m FT8 recently. 

Zoom meeting

Instead of club meetings, the Cambridge radio club (CDARC) has been holding online Zoom talks. These have been very successful. The photo shows the session last Friday. 

Sunspots - Monday October 26th 2020

 Solar flux is 74 and the SSN 11. A=14 and K=4.

25 Oct 2020

30m FT8

My loop tunes down to 30m. It may get to 40m, although I have not tried this yet. 

On 30m FT8 RX 91 stations so far have been spotted (at 1845z) with the furthermost being R6JY (3414km). One station shown on the map as Iran, may have the wrong QTH locator.  On TX 23 spots of my QRP (2.5W to the loop) so far. I think I shall have to see how low I can tune! 40m FT8 here I come.

UPDATE 1940z:  On 40m I was unable to get a low SWR so I have returned to 30m FT8 RX. So far today, 161 stations spotted on 30m FT8. 

Virtual amateur radio

Many amateurs are plagued with man-made noise. This is getting worse. One solution is to turn to virtual amateur radio where the internet replaces the ionosphere. The advantages are there are no noise problems and with an internet connection you can work the world. I am aware of QSONet and Hamsphere. There may be others. 

Echolink is not the same as this uses "real radio" for part of the link, often to a distant repeater. 

Virtual amateur radio has never appealed to me.

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

Breaking BBC news - NOT amateur radio

 This has appeared on the BBC news site:

"Police are dealing with an "ongoing incident" on board an oil tanker situated off the Isle of Wight.

The tanker, named in reports as the Liberian-registered Nave Andromeda, was due to dock in Southampton earlier.

Hampshire Constabulary said: "We are aware and dealing with an ongoing incident on board a vessel which is situated south of the Isle of Wight."

The Maritime Coastguard Agency said it was assisting police and search and rescue helicopters were at the scene."

I hope this not a potential terrorist threat.

See  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-54684440

Morning walk - NOT amateur radio


The photo shows my wife and one of our grandsons off to the skatepark this morning. He could not take part as it was busy and he needed helmets etc.

UK-EU trade deal? - NOT amateur radio

At the moment, everyone's mind and the media is focused on Covid-19. It will soon be on the presidential election in the USA. 

Also going on are the post BREXIT trade deal talks between the EU and the UK. It is in both parties interest to arrive at a good deal for both sides. I am pretty sure both sides have been waiting for the other side to blink. 

What is now needed is a bit of compromise and a good outcome for all. I am puzzled why this should be so hard. The UK wants to stand as an independent nation and the EU has its own ways. As a big trading nation and trading partner for the EU, surely something can be worked out.

6m transatlantic DX yesterday?

They call 6m the "magic band" for good reason. I heard on Facebook that several QSOs were made across the Atlantic yesterday from the UK and mainland Europe. I expect these were FT8 QSOs. 

Normally, transatlantic QSOs are associated with summer E layer propagation. I have no idea what propagation modes were involved yesterday.

15m FT8 RX

Using the indoor loop, I have been on 15m FT8 RX since 0845z. The UK clocks changed last night and it often takes me several days to adjust!  So far (it is now 0857z) 11 stations have been spotted with the furthermost being UF0W (5659km) in Asiatic Russia.

UPDATE 1244z:  505 stations in 5 continents spotted so far today on 15m FT8 with the tiny indoor loop. 

UPDATE 1441z:  So far today 662 stations spotted on 15m FT8 RX. Although I have only been on about 20 minutes, already my 2.5W FT8 to the indoor loop has been spotted by 17 stations.

Stations spotted to 1458z today
UPDATE 1533z:  31 stations have now spotted me and I have spotted 672 stations on 15m FT8 with the indoor loop today. Compared with a 15m dipole outside I must be losing a few dB, but I am still doing pretty well. With my loop tuning I can almost certainly get on 20m. I need to see if I can reach 30m or even 40m later.

UPDATE 1737z:  784 stations have been spotted on RX and I have been spotted by 64 stations so far today on 15m FT8 TX (2.5W). Furthermost are the Canary Is and the Azores.

UPDATE 1747z:  QRT.

Wind - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday we had quite strong winds. The trees in the garden have lost most of their leaves but a few stubborn ones remain. 

Sunspots - Sunday October 25th 2020

Solar flux is 72 and the SSN 11 still. A=17 and K=2.

24 Oct 2020

SAQ transmission

Earlier today there were transmissions from the historic 17.2kHz CW VLF alternator TX in Sweden. Several people tested their VLF receive capability. 

Oscar 100 activity

Every few weeks I take a peek at the narrowband transponder of this geosynchronous satellite. Although activity was higher than the last time I looked, it is still quieter than I expected at this time. When I looked it was Saturday evening in Europe. Most activity still seems to be from Europe.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

Touch me - NOT amateur radio

This tree at Anglesey Abbey gets touched often. It is near the end of the Winter Walk and has very inviting bark. 

I think they polish it!

472kHz WSPR RX

For about 15 minutes (it is now 1918z) I have been on 472kHz WSPR RX using the FT817ND and the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. No spots yet.

UPDATE 1940z: 5 different stations spotted so far this evening. Furthermost was LA8AV (1012km). Next was SM6BGP (994km).

10m FT8 RX (indoor loop)

The sharper, and more efficient, indoor loop in very hard to tune on 10m.  My eyesight is not as good and I find it harder to get it spot on tune than I did. At the moment I am using the loop with thinner wire which is less efficient, but easier to peak. In the past, I cut coax cable to tune. Maybe I should consider than again. Once the length is established in does not need to be adjusted as long as I stick with FT8.

Just one station in the Canary Is spotted so far today on the poorer loop on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1610z: The plug was intermittent on the sharper link. Now fixed.  Just a single spot of my 2.5W TX from G0VQH (13km).  On 10m FT8 RX 77 spots with best DX spotted PU5BOY (9961km).

Things getting worse? - NOT amateur radio

Recently I replaced my electric lawnmower. The battery does not last as long. Our kettle switch is temperamental after 7 years. My wife was going to replace her National Trust bag, but the new one has fewer pockets. My underpants are now thinner. My wife's coat has fewer pockets and is thinner.

Get the picture? We seem to make goods poorer so we are encouraged to throw the old ones away and buy new instead. This is a model of existence that cannot continue.

Sunspots - Saturday October 24th 2020

 Solar flux is 72 and the SSN 11. A=12 and K=4.

23 Oct 2020

Old friends - NOT amateur radio

This afternoon we met up with some old university friends at nearby Anglesey Abbey. We have known them for over 50 years. 

Mending that 472kHz transverter

At the moment, I think the IRF510 PA in my transverter has been damaged. Before I change this, which is no easy task for me these days, I shall connect everything up and check it  is not something else! It would be daft to change the PA only to find the problem is still there! 

Assuming it is the PA, that is a job for later today. I have taken a photo so that I know what was there and don't forget to connect something. Years ago this would have been trivial for me.

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

UPDATE 1021z:   PA changed and still no antenna current! Oscillator running OK, so something else must be wrong. Further investigation needed when I am less exhausted. I guess the first thing to try is running the transverter into a dummy load to check there is output on 472kHz. Another thing I can try is using the FT817ND with the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground on 160m. This measured some antenna current on the antenna current meter. If this is zero, it gives me some clues. It was so much easier when my brain was not foggy and I had a clear head. The best way I can describe it is like trying to fault-find after drinking 8 pints of beer.

UPDATE 1130z:  No antenna current on 160m suggesting something else is amiss.

Wisdom? - NOT amateur radio

This may be an artifact of getting older, or a strange after-effect of my 2013 stroke, but I seem wiser.  Often I seem to be able to "read" situations better. Now, this could just be how I see things! Quite often I say to myself phrases like, "you shouldn't have said that" or "you should not have done that". Quite often my hunches turn out to be right.

10m FT8

At about 0805z, I turned on the 10m FT8 QRP gear. At the moment (0845z) I am RX only. I understand that VK6 was worked from the UK on 10m FT8 yesterday. I am still just using 2.5W to the poorer indoor loop.

UPDATE 0901z: Nothing spotted so far today.

UPDATE 1133z:  Swapped to the better 10m indoor loop. 27 stations so far spotted today on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1811z:  287 stations spotted on 10m FT8 with the tiny indoor loop antenna today. Sunspot minimum year!

UPDATE 2147z: 318 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today on the tiny indoor loop antenna. Now QRT. 

Sunspots - October 23rd 2020

 Solar flux is 75 and the SSN 11. A=6 and K=1.

22 Oct 2020

With some of the grandchildren - NOT amateur radio

One of our sons came for a night with his children. This autumn scene was this morning in our back garden.  Another week or so and all these leaves will be gone.

Online BATV Convention (amateur TV)

The BATC convention this Saturday October 24th will be online and on Zoom. What follows is as I received it and may be hard to read on some screens.


BATC CONVENTION FOR AMATEUR TV 2020 (CAT 20). BATC CAT 20 will go ahead as an online and on-air event. The interactive parts of the meeting will use Zoom, and all lectures will be streamed on the BATC Streamer with the opportunity for questions. More details at https://forum.batc.org.uk/viewforum.php?f=128.

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

10m FT8 QRP again

Once again I am on 10m FT8 with the FT817ND and the poorer indoor loop. It is currently 0910z and I am RX only. No spots yet.

UPDATE 1012z:   Just spots of 9A6R (1542km) and G0PQO (50km).

UPDATE 1050z:   Now on TX at 2.5W. No spots of me yet. 4 stations spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1425z: 1 person spotted me on 10m QRP FT8 TX and I have spotted 11 so far, all in Europe. Now gone back to RX only.

UPDATE 2050z:  10 S.American stations spotted. QRT. 

Cactus Day - NOT amateur radio

For the last few years we have celebrated Cactus Day invented by one of our grandchildren. The photo shows one of our grandchildren working on the Cactus Day cake. 

Sunspots - Thursday October 22nd 2020

Solar flux is 74 and the SSN 11. A=10 and K=3.

21 Oct 2020

Great grandmother - NOT amateur radio

This is a photo of my great grandmother. It must date from the early 1900s. 

Baojie mobile photos inside

A few days ago I was told about a low cost dual band mobile by Steve G1KQH. This Russian site has some internal photos.

See https://www.qrz.ru/catalog/reviews/bj-218_971

SAQ (17.2kHz CW) reminder

On October 24th there will be a transmission from the historic SAQ in Sweden. Quite a few test their VLF systems with this. I have a QSL card from them from a transmission several years ago. It is on my shack wall.

See https://alexander.n.se/category/news/?lang=en

10m FT8 RX

At the moment I am on the poorer indoor loop, which is the one used on 20m, 17m and 15m. It sits on the shack windowsill. I reckon it is about 6dB inferior to the dedicated 10m loop made with copper thin bore pipe. Although I think my chances are low, I have left the kit running on 10m FT8 RX "just in case". It would be good to spot something!

UPDATE 0840z:  Not surprisingly, nothing spotted.

UPDATE 0855z:  Amazingly, EI9JF (488km) spotted.

UPDATE 0821z:  Now G0PQO (50km) and G0FWX (160km) also spotted. No real DX yet, but I am pleasantly surprised to spot these stations already on 10m FT8.

UPDATE 1358z: 18 stations have spotted me today on 10m FT8 RX. 

UPDATE 2035z: 5 people spotted my 2.5W 10m FT8 to the poorer indoor loop antenna and I have spotted stations in the USA and South America as well as all over Europe. 

Earth-electrode "antennas" in the ground

Quite often I hear people tell me they have no space for LF or MF antennas. Rubbish!  

For many years I have used my earth electrode "antenna" on VLF, LF and MF. It won't be as good as a big antenna, but it works remarkably well.  Even my wife does not know it is there!  Neither do the neighbours. 

On 472kHz WSPR I get copied in Norway most nights with less than 10mW ERP with mine.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/earth-electrode-antennas

Sunspots - Wednesday October 21st 2020

 Solar flux is 75 and the SSN 11. A=4 and K=2.

Overnight on 630m WSPR RX

Overnight, I left my 630m WSPR kit running. Many more spots from the stations copied in the evening although no-one new. My conclusion is the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground appears fine. Next job is mending that PA in the transverter. Stations logged in Norway, Poland, Italy and Spain plus many other European nations.

20 Oct 2020

Shoe boxes - NOT amateur radio

Every year my wife fills a shoe box with gifts for disadvantaged children in Eastern Europe. The photo shows a friend knitting hats and scarves to go in the boxes.

630m WSPR RX

There may be 2 issues with my 472kHz (630m) QRPP setup. 

As mentioned in the last post, I suspect the IRF510 PA device is damaged.  My transverter gives 12W into a 50 ohm load, but the measured ERP is less than 10mW. Despite this, I was able to get to Norway most nights last winter.

There may also be a break in my earth-electrode "antenna". 

As a first step, I am on 472kHz WSPR RX overnight. If this works, it probably means the earth-electrode "antenna" is intact. If this is the case, I may be able get on TX again just by mending the PA device. If this fails, I shall replace both the IRF510 and the wire in the garden.

UPDATE 1830z:  With F and DL already spotted, initial results are encouraging.

UPDATE 2130z:   I think the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground is fine, judging by results this evening. I shall leave the RX on overnight, although I have spotted far more than I expected.

Mending 472kHz transverter

Late last winter I think I managed to destroy the PA MOSFET in my 472kHz transverter. I must have had a very poor match for a very long time! Mending this is a job for the weeks ahead. In the past this has been mainly used for WSPR. 

Son and children - NOT amateur radio

The recent photo shows one of our sons with his children. 

Sunspots -Tuesday October 20th 2020

 Solar flux is 75 and the SSN 12.  A=6 and K=2.

Tuesday on 2m FT8 (2.5W and big-wheel omni antenna)

It is now 0750z.  About 10 minutes ago, the 2m FT8 gear was turned on. Already 4 stations have spotted me today.

19 Oct 2020

Primroses - NOT amateur radio

About now we plant primroses to give us winter colour in the garden. These were bought from a nursery in the village. They look healthy. 

2m FT8 QRP - Monday

At 0822z, my 2m FT8 was turned on. Once again I am using 2.5W to the big-wheel omni antenna. 1 station in Germany spotted on RX and at 0950z, my signal had been spotted by 10 stations in 3 countries with the furthermost being G7RAU (461km) in Cornwall. No QSOs yet.

UPDATE 1250z:   12 stations have spotted me today.

Stations spotting
me to 1550z

UPDATE 1550z:   18 stations have spotted me today so far.

UPDATE 2145z: QRT. In all 25 stations spotted my 2m FT8 QRP. Furtermost was GI6ATZ. 

Lesotho - NOT amateur radio

Ten years ago we were in South Africa and went to Lesotho. It was an eye opener. 

Sunspots - Monday October 19th 2020.

 Solar flux is 76 and the SSN 28. A=3 and K=1

18 Oct 2020

Dad's seat - NOT amateur radio

My dad died in 1987. In his last years he ran a job creation scheme for the National Trust and in his memory they erected 2 seats on Bolberry Down in South Devon. The photo shows my brother on one today before lunch. 

Front garden in autumn - NOT amateur radio

It seems the long summer days and warmth are over as we move into autumn. In the front garden, one of our rowan trees has lost lots of leaves and in the back garden the trees will soon be bare again.

Things seem to have suddenly changed.

2m FT8 Sunday (2.5W and the big-wheel omni)

Stations spotting my 2.5W 2m FT8 in first 20 minutes

Since about 0850z, I have been on 2m FT8.   Already spotted by a 5 stations of which one gave me an incredible +4dB S/N. This was G8TIC (170km). I suspect this was aircraft reflection. Best DX spot was by DF0MU (475km). The photo shows the stations spotting me in the first 20 minutes.

UPDATE 1218z:  16 spots of my 2m QRP FT8 so far today. It never fails.

Stations spotting my 2.5W to the big-wheel
on 2m FT8 today so far to 1440z

UPDATE 1440z:
   23 stations in 4 countries have spotted me so far today and I have spotted 19 stations and I have had 1 QSO. Who needs high power, towers and big beams? Certainly not me! Just an FT817ND and a simple big-wheel seem enough.

UPDATE 1945z:   2 QSOs, 39 stations spotted on RX and 30 stations in 5 countries have spotted me today on 2m FT8.
Stations spotted on 2m FT8 RX today

Senhaix portables

RSGB RadCom had an article on Senhaix dual band portables recently. I think these are Chinese. If the article said this I missed it. 

At the price stated, these look quite good value. They are not the cheapest, but I hope the quality control is better. My main worry with Chinese manufactured amateur products is still quality control and guarantees. 

As long as the products work, fine. What happens if they fail? My experience with Chinese manufacturers is mixed. Some seem able to answer questions, whereas others cannot understand! 

I am sure that the Chinese products will get better and that the Japanese manufacturers will get a real fright. This could happen within the next couple of years. 

It would not surprise me if some Japanese companies survive by designing in Japan, but making in China or some other low cost country. It is possible that China goes like Japan did years ago and labour costs make it no longer a low cost country.

The manuals often give you a clue: Chinese English can be pathetic! Ask yourself, if the manual is that poor how do you think they will fix your radio? Would they be interested? Some would say they are so cheap just buy a few and throw away any that fail. I much prefer not to do this.

Sunspots - Sunday October 18th 2020

Solar flux is 73 and the SSN 15. A=5 and K=1. 

Last evening on 2m FT8

Last evening I decided to go on 2m FT8. Apart from the first few minutes in which my 2.5W was spotted by 5 stations, I was on RX only spotting 13 stations in 2 countries. 

17 Oct 2020

Grandson success - NOT amateur radio

He claims he doesn't really like running, but he still wins a medal for winning his cross-country run. He must take after his granddad - not!  It is many years since I have been able to run!

Last of the dahlias? - NOT amateur radio

On our visit to nearby Anglesey Abbey this week we saw these dahlias. I expect they will soon die. 

They have been in bloom for several months.

Tenner 10m QRP Transceiver

Before the last sunspot maximum I designed and made the Tenner 500mW 10m CW QRP transceiver. Especially in Es openings this is capable of plenty of contacts. It has crossed the Atlantic Ocean several times.

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

New Zealand elections - NOT amateur radio

New Zealand has led the way in fighting Covid-19. Essentially it has been largely free of the pandemic that has crippled much if the world. 

They have just had a general election and Jacinda Ardern's (the NZ PM) Labour Party is in line for a massive majority. We may differ over political policies, but we have to agree she did a good job in the fight against Covid-19.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-54519628

20m FT8 (2.5W and the indoor loop)

A few moments ago I turned on 20m FT8 QRP using 2.5W to the tiny indoor loop. It is 0840z. 

Yet again, I had a problem with decoding signals and the waterfall being smeary. After turning WSJT-X and the SignaLink interface off and on, it is now decoding. I am running Windows 10.

No spots of me yet and 4 stations spotted so far today.

UPDATE 1258z:  So far today, 3 stations have spotted my QRP 20m FT8 signal. On RX 84 stations have been spotted in 3 continents.

UPDATE 1412z:  5 stations have spotted me so far and I have spotted 108 stations in 4 continents.

UPDATE 1710z:  5 stations have spotted me today on 20m FT8 QRP and I have spotted 157.

RSGB Convention online

Southgate News reports that the RSGB Convention talks are available online.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2020/october/rsgb-convention-videos-on-youtube.htm#.X4qS7LfTVkw

Rear garden 2015 - NOT amateur radio


The photo shows our rear garden in 2015,

Fungi - NOT amateur radio

It must be all the rain we have had, but we saw several patches of fungi on our walk yesterday at Anglesey Abbey. 

OFCOM and spectrum trading

OFCOM is talking about spectrum trading at 2.6GHz. See the OFCOM website for more information. 

Sunspots - Saturday October 17th 2020

Solar flux is 75 and the SSN 14. A=4 and K=1.

16 Oct 2020

20m FT8

For about 30 minutes I have been on 20m FT8 running 2.5W to the indoor loop antenna. 

WSJT-X oddity

Sometimes when I use WSJT-X even on RX the signals on the waterfall appear smeared and I get no decodes. I have selected the default audio device. Most times this is fine and I see many decodes. When I select USB Codec all is fine. The photo shows the effect. 

I use a SignaLink USB interface with the FT817ND as I have done for many years. I am using the latest fully released version on FT8. I was not aware of issues with earlier versions. 

Autumn - NOT amateur radio

Autumn is here and the colours are changing.