At about 1716z, I QSYed to 2m FT8 using 2.5W and the big-wheel omni. There have been no new spots on 10m FT8 now for some while. Just a 2 spots of me so far - G3ZSS (178km) and nothing spotted yet on RX.
UPDATE 1824z: Just 3 spots of me so far today. On RX, just 3 stations spotted here so far.
UPDATE 2300z: QRT. Generally a fairly quiet day with spots of me by 8 stations in 2 countries.
This Christmas, especially with Covid, many people are choosing not to send Christmas cards. Some are instead donating to a charity. Some look forward to a card, I know, but cards are expensive as is the postage. Maybe you can send some people this alternative? It is an animated GIF.
There is no doubt that direct conversion receivers can be both low cost and effective. This page (linked from Hot Iron 110) has some interesting discussion. In the past, I have used direct conversion receivers in many designs.
Peter Thornton G6NGR has just sent me the latest PDF copy of "Hot Iron". One topic (amongst many good ones) is receivers on a chip. Things have moved on quite a lot since we got excited by the ZN414 in the 1970s! The one linked below is an example. There must be many more.
It is now 1129z. I have been on 10m FT8 with 2.5W and the small indoor loop for about 15 minutes. So far, nobody has spotted me and I have spotted a couple of Russians on RX. Surprisingly I am spotting less than yesterday.
UPDATE 1510z: So far today, no-one has spotted my QRP, but I have spotted 5 stations including 1 in the USA and 1 in the Caribbean.
As 10m is quiet, I QSYed to 2m FT8 at 1834z. As usual, I am running 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna. Although I have copied some stations, for some reason these did not appear on PSKreporter. On TX, 3 stations have spotted me.
UPDATE 1935z: So far this evening 19 stations in 5 countries have been spotted with the furthermost being F6DBI (501km) in Brittany. On TX, I have been spotted by 8 stations in 2 countries with the furthermost being F6EGD (461km) also in Brittany.
At about 1030z, I turned on 10m FT8 with the indoor loop and 2.5W. The band feels lively. 1 station spotted on RX: RD4D (3180km).
UPDATE 1212z: 25 stations spotted on RX. Nobody has spotted my 2.5W yet today.
UPDATE 1355z: 28 stations spotted with best DX spotted WP3PZ (6898km) in Puerto Rico. Still no-one has spotted me and no 10m FT8 QSOs.
UPDATE 1515z: Much to my surprise, no more stations spotted on 10m FT8 this afternoon. I was expecting to spot a few North and South Americans, but spotted none. I shall give it a few more hours then QSY to 2m.
It is hard to keep up with all the videos on YouTube on the IC-705. This one may be of interest. The best thing to do is go to YouTube and search "IC-705".
Many are Japanese where this product was first launched. At the moment MLS is offering a 5 year warranty at extra cost. I suspect they will soon be offering this in the selling price. A 5 year warranty is probably a good idea.
The last time I looked there were just 2 reviews, whereas today there are 6 reviews. All are 5 stars, meaning the owners love them. Apart from the price, which is far too high, it has a very good feature set and coverage.
I wonder if anyone has widebanded it for 472kHz yet? There are several mods for the IC-706.
It is some time since I saw predictions for the next solar cycle, but we have got off to a roaring start. I am no expert, but signs are promising. Who would have expected solar flux and sunspots to be this good?
The climb up from solar minimum has been dramatic and fast with sunspot numbers and solar flux levels much greater than we all expected.
We should deal in averages and this could just be a blip, but I hope the next solar cycle is a decent one. No doubt the latest NOAA and NASA forecasts are worth a look.
One of the complaints about the IC-705 (other than the price and lack of internal auto-ATU!) is the lack of a desk stand. I expect these will soon be available as add-ons from other suppliers. One solution is to make your own with a 3D printer as shown in the video.
Even with my tiny loop indoors, I am spotting plenty of stations in Eastern Europe and the Canaries on 10m FT8. This looks like F2 propagation. In the last few days there has been propagation to the southern USA as well on 10m.
If things continue like this, 10m could again be a really good DX band certainly by next autumn.
Maybe it is the time of day (Friday evening in Europe), but this evening there was more SSB activity than I have ever seen. I think there were 13 stations on the screen in the narrow-band transponder. As usual, I check the web SDR at Goonhilly in Cornwall.
As 10m FT8 was quiet late afternoon, I have QSYed to 2m with my 2.5W and big-wheel omni antenna. Already spotted by G7RAU (461km) in Cornwall with 6 stations spotting me so far. Nothing yet seen on RX and no QSOs. It is now 1649z.
UPDATE 1706z: 4 stations in 2 countries spotted on RX and 9 stations in 3 countries have spotted me on TX. No QSOs. Monitoring my signal on G0LRD's grabber (http://184.108.40.206:8080/cap/) at 26km, I may be seeing some QSB.
UPDATE 1843z: 11 stations have spotted me on TX and I have spotted 11 stations on RX.
UPDATE 1946z: 13 stations have spotted me on TX and I have spotted 16 stations on RX.
Whilst trying to get to sleep earlier in the week I tried to think of placenames starting with "A", then "B" etc. It was interesting how hard "J" was. I guess this is because some names are very old and pre-date "J" being in the alphabet. In old Latin both J and W were missing.
It is now 1117z and I have been on 10m FT8 with the tiny indoor loop antenna and 2.5W for about 30 minutes. So far, just EA8CZL (2987km) spotted on RX and no spots of me on TX. I wonder how far down my tiny indoor loop is on a full sized dipole?
UPDATE 1254z: Nothing further.
UPDATE 1545z: The USA and Caribbean spotted on 10m FT8 Rx this afternoon, but no spots of me! OK, just a handful spotted, but better than nothing. Who knows what a year will bring. Next autumn we could be spotting far more on 10m FT8.
People have remarked that the upward slope from sunspot minimum looks faster than we were expecting. It is still far too early to tell, but this is a promising. Many thought this would be a slow climb. It will be interesting to see new forecasts for the next maximum.
As 15m was quiet, I have QSYed to 2m FT8 QRP (2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna) for the evening. That was at 1738z. It is now 1820z. So far, 7 stations in 3 countries have spotted me already and I have spotted 3 countries on RX. No QSOs.
UPDATE 2220z: 33 stations in 6 countries spotted and on TX 18 stations in 3 countries. Now QRT. The map shows the stations spotting my 2.5W FT8 on 2m this evening. To say FT8 has totally transformed 2m for me is an understatement! Every day I get spotted in Eire or N.Ireland with my FT817ND and the big-wheel omni antenna. Quite mind blowing. These ranges are staggering. If I worked these with this power on SSB I would be amazed.
The drawback of FT8 is the very "rubber stamp" nature of the QSOs, with just the bare essentials exchanged. As specialist software is needed (free), newcomers cannot just chance upon it.
The advantages are it only takes 50Hz of bandwidth and is far more sensitive than SSB or CW. A second advantage is most activity is concentrated in a few kHz, making DX easier to spot. In my case, not having to use my poor voice is another benefit.
Even with 2.5W and an omni antenna, I get reports from over 500km away every day. I suspect this is some sort of scatter. 2m FT8 has been transformative, although I can see why some do not like it.
Recently (about 6 weeks ago) I bought an Echo Dot from Amazon. It even recognises my poor voice, which surprised and impressed me. In the latest Black Friday deal, Amazon are offering the latest version for about 30% more than I paid.
Sometimes, these bargains are not what they seem!
Although there may be some good bargains, do check.
Southgate News has a link to a USA YouTube presentation on these modes. There are lots of presentations about these digital modes on YouTube. FT8 works with low power and simple antennas, but is not a mode for chatting.
Most definitely I am not a contest person! However, I usually take part in the RSGB organised activity contests each month on 2m and 70cm on Tuesday evenings. Usually most activity in these friendly contests is on SSB and after a short while I give up because of my poor voice.
Results for the November 70cm UKAC activity contest have just been published and I remain about a third of the way down the low power section. Seeing I only use 10W and the 2m (not 70cm!) big-wheel omni and rarely stay on for more than an hour of the contest, this is fine.
OK, as a non-US person I admit that I am not a great fan of President Trump.
He still seems totally against conceding he lost the presidential election and has tried, in vain, to contest the results in courts alleging "election fraud" despite no evidence. To the rest of the world he comes across as a spoilt child. He has been noticable by his absence of late.
It would be much better for world democracy if he just conceded and went back to running his business empire and playing golf. Hanging on to power does no good for democracy and reminds me of a certain leader in 1936 at the Olympics.
Some kind person put this colourful hanging basket on a footbridge where we walk.
We often see Muntjac deer on this walk. This introduced deer is now becoming very common. At night they bark (a dull monotonous bark) that can go on for ages! They eat garden plants A few years ago there was a Muntjac with young in the garden next door.
These days a walk around the village of 3.5 miles feels more like 7. All the time I am giddy and tired.
Steve G1KQH has informed me that this USA amateur radio dealer is closing. They will operate online to clear orders. See their website for more information.
I can see several dealers closing shop in the years ahead not only in the USA. This is because of their reducing margins as fewer new radios are bought and as the average age of radio amateurs increases.
As I have said many times already in 20 years time many radio amateurs will be very old and our hobby could just fizzle out. Magazines will get fewer, fewer dealers, less revenue, those mags that survive will get smaller....
Already Waters and Stanton seems to have stopped advertising in RadCom and we now see one USA dealer closing.
This is a photo of Slapton Line in Devon. During WW2 it was used by the Americans in "Operation Tiger", which was a rehearsal for D-day in Normandy. In the far distance is Start Point with its lighthouse. There is no sand, just pebbles.
This is where I come from in South Devon. In recent years the main road across "the Line" has been washed away twice during storms. On both occasions the road was rebuilt.
In the next 100 years I think this will be replaced by a road on the other side of the Ley (freshwater lake). It has been there all of my lifetime, but I cannot see it surviving more bad storms. Building a new road will be expensive. We tend to think of things as permanent, whereas we only see things for a generation. From a repair viewpoint, there comes a point when rebuilding the road along "the Line" is simply no longer viable. It would be better to bite the bullet and replace this important road with a new one that will last for hundreds of years.
If the sandbank is broken, it will change the Ley from freshwater to saltwater, totally changing the ecosystem.
At 1027z, I QSYed to 10m FT8 with the tiny indoor loop and 2.5W. No spots yet.
UPDATE 1050z: Nothing yet on 10m FT8 RX, but spotted on TX by G3NSM (123km) in Oxford, UK.
UPDATE 1508z: Still nothing spotted on RX and just the single spot on TX. In a years' time I expect things to be much better. At the moment, 10m seems very quiet. On FT8 I was expecting to spot a few stations. I am RX only just now.
It is now 0924z. Since 0857z I have been on 2m FT8 with 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna. So far, nothing spotted on RX and 4 stations have spotted me on TX with the furthermost being G4RRA (333km) in Devon.
UPDATE 1000z: 6 stations spotted and 8 stations spotted me on TX. 1 QSO so far.
Back in the mid 1960s, the huge dish at Arecibo, Puerto Rico was used for amateur EME experiments. As the gain was so large, this gave more modest stations a chance "via the moon". Sadly the dish was badly damaged in a storm and it is to be decommissioned according to a piece in Southgate News. FT8 and other digital modes have opened up EME to others now, but this is sad news.
In the next 12 months, 10m is returning as a great DX band. At any part of the solar cycle it can be good for Es contacts in April- August in the northern hemisphere. There is a smaller Es peak in the depths of winter.
When I was fitter, I had the outlines of a simple single band QRP rig for 10m. My idea was DSB based as this was simpler. This was to be paired with a direct conversion RX.
Then my 2013 stroke happened and all development work stopped. 7 years later there may be better options. My hope is that someone else will take this on and try to create a simple, single board, single band transceiver.
According to Southgate News, Moonraker is selling a dual band amateur rig aimed at foundation licencees. It retails for £89.99 and comes preprogrammed with amateur frequencies like repeaters and simplex channels and set to 10W by default, although it can do 25W.
18 months after it was removed from service following 2 fatal crashes, the Boeing 737 max has been declared airworthy again. My simple question is why has it taken so long? My brother-in-law was on one. Little did I know at the time that his life was in danger.
This whole affair is utterly disgraceful. I hope Boeing, and whoever deemed it safe to fly originally, reflect on this.
In a few minutes I shall go on 2m FT8 QRP with 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna.
UPDATE 0953z: 2 stations spotted on RX and I have been spotted by 6 stations already.
UPDATE 1210z: So far today I have spotted 11 stations in 4 countries and I have been spotted by 9 stations in 3 countries on 2m FT8.
UPDATE 1537z: At about 1220z I had a QSO and have been RX only since then until a few moments ago. So far today, 34 stations in 7 countries have been spotted here on 2m FT8 RX and I have been spotted by 12 stations in 4 countries with 1 QSO.
UPDATE 1832z: So far today I have been spotted by 19 stations in 6 countries (see map).
It is now 1002z. For about 10 minutes I have been on 2m FT8 QRP using my 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna. So far I have been spotted by 11 stations already with the furthermost being G7RAU (461km) in Cornwall.
I am still puzzled by WSJT-X RX with Windows 10 and the SignaLink USB. At times it works whereas at other times the waterfall is smeary and I get no decodes. At first I thought this was just the first few minutes, but I have seen this be OK then not.
UPDATE 1434z: Spotted by 18 stations in 3 countries and I have spotted 44 stations in 7 countries today with furthermost OZ1CCM (796km). Just turned TX on again as it was turned off.
2m FT8 RX
UPDATE 1757z: So far today I have been spotted by 23 stations on QRP TX and I have spotted 54 stations on RX.
Quite a few villagers (not me!) have allotments where they grow vegetables or flowers. I expect it is also a place to escape! The photo shows a view of the allotments with "our" windmill in the distance.
Someone suggested I either build a homemade version or replace the broken EF-10-20-40 Par end fed antenna. Par antennas were made by LnR Precision many years ago and I have no idea if these antennas are still in production. Anyone know?
My original one gave good performance at this and the old QTH. It stopped working last year.
Yet again, I am on 2m FT8 with 2.5W to the big-wheel omni antenna. Already I have been spotted by 7 stations with the furthermost being G7RAU (461km) on the Lizard in Cornwall. It is now 1010z. On RX just 3 stations spotted in 2 countries and no QSOs yet.Looking at the grabber at G0LRD there looks like a weak Doppler shift on my signal in addition to the strong direct signal. I guess this could be local aircraft. See http://220.127.116.11:8080/cap/ .
UPDATE 1140z: So far this morning I have been spotted by 14 stations on 2m FT8 TX. On RX I have spotted 13 stations in 6 countries with the furthermost being EA1MX (1035km) on the north coast of Spain.
UPDATE 1600z: I have been spotted by 25 stations in 5 countries so far today on 2m FT8 QRP. On RX 36 stations in 8 countries spotted. 2 QSOs so far. 2 stations spotted were in northern Spain.
During the next few months I have a couple of antenna projects that need doing.
Firstly I need to get an antenna for 10m erected. The easiest would be either an dipole or inverted vee. My problem is erecting this, even though it is small. At about 5m overall length this is quite compact.
My second project is to replace the wire back to the shack from the far electrode of my earth-electrode "antenna". This should be straightforward.
Another possibility is an end fed antenna via a 49:1 unun. This should be a low impedance and multiband antenna even without an ATU. With a modest ATU I should be able to get a good match on all HF bands.
It is now 1047z. I have been on 2m FT8 with 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna for about 25 minutes. So far, I have been spotted by 5 stations with the furthermost being GI6ATZ (479km). I was also spotted by G7RAU (461km). Just a single station spotted on RX.
I still find this too random for aircraft scatter. Random times? 2.5W? Omni antenna? To me, this feels like some other form of scatter that FT8 enables. Yes, some may be aircraft scatter. There is never a day when I go on 2m FT8 QRP when I don't get spotted at massive distances. For me, FT8 has totally transformed 2m.
UPDATE 1410z: 9 stations have spotted me so far on 2m FT8 QRP. I have spotted 3.
UPDATE 1846z: 13 stations have spotted me and I have spotted 19 stations on 2m FT8 today.
After a fruitless day on 6m FT8, I have QSYed to 2m FT8 QRP with 2.5W to the big-wheel omni antenna at 1710z.
So far (at 1725z) nothing spotted and no-one spotting me, which is unusual. As I was suspicious I restarted the program and checked my signal at http://18.104.22.168:8080/cap/, which is the grabber at G0LRD. Everything there from me looks fine.
UPDATE 1735z: Just G0LRD (26km) and M0KKM (37km) spotting me so far on 2m FT8. Unusually quiet. Nothing spotted on RX.
Now, not being a politician, I have no idea what is really happening between th EU and UK on a post-BREXIT trade deal.
However, I expect both sides are playing bluff to see who blinks first. Time is getting short and it is time for brinkmanship to be replaced by compromise on both sides. A good trade deal is in everyone's interest.
Southgate News has a piece on a recent meeting that the IARU attended on this subject. I think the regulators are trying to see what issues are on the horizon in region 1. I have not yet read the minutes.
At this time of year gardens can look a bit dull so we plant primroses to brighten things up.
The photo shows our front garden today.
Most leaves have now gone. It will be fun to await the new buds in the spring. I also look forward to seeing the first migrant birds back from Africa. Before that we have the birds from the Arctic and Scandinavia who think we are warm! Maybe this year I'll see a waxwing.
Certainly we seem to have little or no Es on 6m at the moment. Most of the morning, I have been on 6m FT8 QRP with 2.5W and the V2000 vertical. So far (it is now 1133z), I have been spotted by G0PQO (50km) and I have spotted G4FKA (207km).
UPDATE 1206z: Nothing further. I shall stick with 6m FT8 most of the afternoon "just in case".
UPDATE 1500z: Now 2 stations have spotted me and I have spotted 2 on RX. The latest is G3XDV (45km). Hardly great DX! Unless things change, I suspect today will pass with the band acting very much as a VHF band. I am sure with a big horizontal beam, more power and greater height, 6m could be a useful band inter-G in the quieter times. Imagine what 10-20dB could do on marginal paths. With my V2000 vertical, 2.5W and cheap CB coax I think many would say I am "playing". I get the impression that 2m is better for "scatter". Probably the cross sectional area in terms of wavelengths is smaller on 6m. Some debate what type of scatter I experience on 2m FT8. Some think it is aircraft, but I have my doubts. Certainly some paths are aided by aircraft scatter, but to me it seems too random.
For the last week we have been in a second lockdown in England. Luckily our nearest National Trust gardens are still open. As part of this new lockdown, they have again closed their cafe and have set up a couple of outdoor kiosks serving take-aways.
For those not in the UK, the National Trust owns some gardens, homes and wild places for the nation. Members can visit free and non-members can visit for a fee.
As far as I know, the blog of EI7GL has the best data on the 40MHz (8m) band. This was allocated in Eire some years ago and a few amateurs in Europe have been operating on the band with special permission.
Southgate News reports on some super 70cm DX in the Southern Hemisphere. They report on an FM QSO between South Africa and Saint Helena. This over 3100km!! Makes you wonder if they will work Cape Verde Is at some future date from South Africa especially with FT8.
Many years ago, my brother and I traced our family tree on my dad's side continuously back to the 1500s. We have an isolated record from 1428.
Now, each of us has 2 parents, 4 grand-parents, 8 great-grand-parents and so on. Going back to the 1500s I would have had about 8000 ancestors. Going back a few more generations and I would have had more ancestors than the whole population of England at that time! So, in all probability I am related to royalty, as are most in England!
If just one of these had not had children, I would not be here today. Sobering and humbling thought.
It is now 1007z. For about 10 minutes I have been on 2m FT8 using 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna. So far, I have been spotted by 4 stations.
UPDATE 1036z: Spotted by 6 stations in 2 countries. What amazes me about FT8 is that even with QRP the signal actually gets to where it is going. Every day I get spotted by stations at great range on 2m FT8 with 2.5W and the simplest of stations.
UPDATE 1055z: On 2m FT8 RX so far today 5 stations in 3 countries spotted. the grabber at http://22.214.171.124:8080/cap/ run by G0LRD is useful.
UPDATE 1844z: 30 stations in 5 countries have spotted my 2m FT8 QRP today.
Stations spotting me today
UPDATE 2240z: 32 stations have spotted me today on 2m FT8 QRP with 1 QSO. Now QRT.
One of the aspects of our hobby I have never tried is ATV apart from SSTV reception. My SSTV reception was with some free software using a smartphone on the desk. It worked surprisingly well.
There used to be some interest in narrow band TV (30 or 32 lines) that used ordinary speech bandwidths much like the very early days of TV.
These days there is quite a bit of interest in digital TV as the bandwidths are narrower and we have some experimental frequencies near 70 and 144MHz. One local has been building the Portsdown 4 transceiver based on the Raspberry Pi.
Now, let me start by saying all people of whatever colour or religion have equal worth in my book. I have many friends of all colours and religions.
However, I was appalled that the head of the FA, Greg Clarke, felt compelled to resign when he referred to "people of colour" as "coloured" if I recall correctly.
This reminds me of the BBC sacking Carol Thatcher some years ago because she said someone looked like a gollywog. Years ago we innocently collected gollies on jam jars and really looked forward to the golly badge.
Personally I think we have all gone PC mad!! Soon we will be afraid to say anything in case we offend someone or get sacked.
This still attracts me, although the price is too high. Now, if they were to throw in the 5 year warranty for "free", I might be more tempted.
As I have said before, you can buy it in France with VAT with a 3 year warranty for less than you pay in the UK. One thing is certain: were I to buy one in the UK the 5 year warranty would be free the month after! So far, Yaesu is still playing catch-up and we seem some time from a Yaesu equivalent. It seems ICOM has this market for themselves.
Every review I have seen for the IC-705 has been positive, although some think the lack of a stand or support is an omission. Will 4m TX coverage come with a firmware upgrade?
At one point my website tried to give the latest news, but YouTube has new videos every few days.
This month, even PW has a review. of sorts. I expect a detailed review in RadCom will be soon.
At the moment, the pound is appreciating in value against the euro. This may be just a blip or it may be sustained.
The big unanswered question is will there be a trade deal. I hope so, as this is in the interests of the UK and EU. Expect some brinkmanship in the next few weeks! If the UK leaves without a deal I think this would be the height of stupidity. Having said that, nothing would surprise me with Boris, the UK Prime Minister. He has some very similar traits to Donald Trump.
At about 1025z, I turned on my 2.5W 6m FT8 to the V2000 vertical omni antenna again. No spots yet. Yesterday, I was only spotted by a couple of Gs on 6m FT8.
UPDATE 1223z: No spots. At the moment, today is even worse than yesterday on 6m FT8! I shall stick with it for now. The problems are poorer conditions and fewer stations. I am quite surprised not to have been spotted by some Gs.
UPDATE 1430z: 2 stations spotted on RX with G4FKA (207km) the furthermost. Nobody has spotted me.
UPDATE 1620z: 2 Gs have spotted me today on 6m FT8.
Every few weeks I give an update on narrow-band activity through this geosynchronous satellite. I listened last night and this morning.
When I listened there were between 5 and 7 QSOs only on SSB, so plenty of room. I am sure the lack of easy commercial gear is stopping more people getting on. I guess compared with an SDR HF rig, the quantities are just not there. Also, there is the risk: if a part fails and the satellite just stops working the whole market just goes.