30 Nov 2020

QSY to 2m FT8 QRP (Monday)

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.

Christmas card alternative? - NOT amateur radio

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.

Direct Conversion RXs

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.

See https://www.raynetrepair.us/circuit-design/some-practical-design-approaches.htm  .

Hot Iron 110

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.

See https://www.silabs.com/audio-and-radio/multiband-radios .

10m FT8 QRP (Monday)

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. 

Overnight on 2m FT8 RX

Overnight the 2m FT8 RX was left on. The map shows the stations spotted. 

As usual, the antenna is the big-wheel omni antenna. No beams! 

Sunspots - Monday November 30th 2020

Solar flux is an incredible 116 and the SSN 84. A=6 and K=3.

29 Nov 2020

QSY to 2m FT8 QRP (Sunday)

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.

Spitting Image - NOT amateur radio

Quite a few years ago this show was on UK terrestrial TV. It has just come back (on Britbox I think). It takes off people in the news as puppets.

House plants - NOT amateur radio

My wife always has house plants to brighten up the place. This November is no exception. 

These plants (see photo) brighten up the dullest of days!

Parks on the air (POTA)

Not sure if this is popular in Europe, but I know some in the USA enjoy this. I know Summits on the Air (SOTA) has its followers. There are some YouTube videos on POTA activations.

Labels: are they used? - NOT amateur radio

Most times, when I remember, I add labels to posts so people can search previous posts for the same subject. I have no idea if these are used. 

Please would you tell me if these are helpful. If I do not hear, I shall stop, although I am happy to carry on adding these.

10m FT8 QRP (Sunday)

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.

Yet more IC-705 videos

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.

Sunspots - Sunday November 29th 2020

Solar flux is 110 and the SSN 67. A=10 and K=3.  For so close to the sunspot minimum, these are very high figures.

28 Nov 2020

Trump and recounts - NOT amateur radio

Assuming this is true and not "fake news",  apparently President Trump has paid $3M to have the recheck done in Wisconsin. The result? More Trump votes, but even more for Biden. 😆

2m FT8 QRP (Saturday)

At 1640z, I QSYed from 10m to 2m FT8 using 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antennna. 

Already 5 spots of me on TX including G7RAU (461km). If he is active I get spotted every time, irrespective of the time of day. Also, 1 station spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1947z:  15 stations spotted this evening on 2m FT8 with the furthermost being DD7DAC (520km). On TX 12 stations have spotted me.

UPDATE 2025z: On TX 13 stations have spotted me. On RX 18 stations spotted in 4 countries.

eHam reviews of the IC-705

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.

See https://www.eham.net/reviews/view-product?id=14776

Solar cycle 25 - latest predictions

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.

Virtual radio clubs?

Many of us have been pleasantly surprised just how successful radio club meetings and talks have been over Zoom. 

It would not surprise me if several radio clubs adopt this as a permanent model to replace club meetings, especially if rooms have to be hired. 

Many like the social interaction of a physical meeting especially if they live alone. However, it means people from across the world can join a club for talks or informal meetings.

It would be interesting to hear your views.

IC-705 desk stand

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.

F2 on 10m?

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.

Online Foundation licence training

If you want to get into this hobby, you may be interested in this online training course.

See https://www.essexham.co.uk/train/foundation-online/

10m FT8 QRP (Saturday)

At the moment, I am on 10m FT8 with 2.5W and the tiny indoor loop on the shack windowsill indoors. So far (1040z) no-one has spotted me on TX, but I have spotted 3 stations already on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1135z:  So far today, 15 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1246z: 16 stations spotted on RX with the furthermost being UA4NF (3257km)  and 2 stations in the Canaries have spotted my QRP on TX.

UPDATE 1445z:  17 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX and still just the 2 spots of me on TX.

Sunspots - Saturday November 28th 2020

Solar flux is 106 and the SSN an amazing 60. A=8 and K=3. For this part of the solar cycle, these are incredible numbers. 

27 Nov 2020

Another Zoom talk

The Cambridge club (CDARC) held another Zoom talk this evening. This was on LTSpice that is available as a free download. Yet again attendance was good. I like these! 

Oscar 100 activity

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.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

2m FT8 QRP (Friday)

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 ( 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.

UPDATE 2230z:   QRT.

Black Friday "deals" - NOT amateur radio

Today, I read that some very big UK retailers have decided not to offer Black Friday deals. I cannot say I blame them. 

As I have mentioned before, some may really be bargains, whereas others are not. It is basically about commercialism and extending Christmas sales. To me, it sucks.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-55093002

English placenames beginning with "J" - NOT amateur radio

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.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_alphabet#Old_Latin_alphabet

Church (in distance) over ploughed field - NOT amateur radio

This photo was taken yesterday on our walk. It shows Burwell church in the distance over a ploughed field.  It was muddy!

10m FT8 QRP (Friday)

It is now 0916z. Since 0900z, I have been on 10m FT8 with 2.5W and the indoor loop. No spots yet.

UPDATE 1107z:   20 stations spotted so far today on 10m FT8 RX with the furthermost being OD5YA (3466km). Nobody has yet spotted me. 10m is coming back to life!

UPDATE 1211z: 24 stations spotted on RX and 2 spots of me on TX from Eastern Europe.  No QSOs.

UPDATE 1332z:  So far, 3 stations have spotted me with the furthermost being EA8BFK (2881km).  25 stations spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1522z: 
26 stations spotted so far on 10m FT8 RX today. Best DX so far spotted is K3QH (7050km).

UPDATE 1600z: Mostly quiet now so may QSY. 

Sunspots - Friday November 27th 2020

Solar flux is 106 and the SSN 43. A=7 and K=3.

26 Nov 2020

2m FT8 QRP (Thursday)

As 10m is now quiet, I have QSYed to 2m FT8.  Nothing yet spotted on RX, but 3 stations have spotted me so far. No QSOs. As usual, 2.5W to the big-wheel omni antenna.

UPDATE 1840z:  So far this evening 5 stations spotted on RX with best DX G1BHM (355km) in IO70. On TX 6 stations have spotted me with the best DX G7RAU (461km).

UPDATE 1933z: Now 7 stations have spotted me and I have spotted 8 stations on RX. So far this evening all have been G, which is unusual.

UPDATE 2238z: QRT. 2 QSOs this evening. 

Another cancelled rally

The Rochdale and District ARS summer rally, due to take place on Saturday, has been cancelled. Let us hope they have better luck in 2021.  2020 has been an odd year for all of us.

10m FT8 QRP (Thursday)

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.

Village walk - NOT amateur radio

We have just got back from a walk around the village. It is cold and frosty. The photo shows the church and trees in the churchyard. 

The birds are having a socially distanced chat in the trees on the left. 😁

Sunspots - Thursday November 26th 2020

Solar flux is 104 and the SSN 40. A=4 and K=1.

25 Nov 2020

2m FT8 QRP (Wednesday)

At about 2030z I QSYed to 2m FT8 with 2.5W to the big-wheel omni antenna.  7 stations have spotted me on TX and I have spotted 5 stations on RX at 2106z.

UPDATE 2303z: QRT. 

Laugh? - NOT amateur radio

This came from a friend earlier. It made me laugh! We certainly are living in odd times. 

Big sunspot maximum?

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.

Amaryllis - NOT amateur radio

At the moment, we have 2 of these plants in flower. The more correct name is hippeastrum, but as I have always called them amaryliss I am unlikely to change now! 

Transnistria - NOT amateur radio

Transnistria is a breakaway state between Moldova and Ukraine. Until today, I had never heard of it!

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transnistria_(region) 

10m FT8 QRP

At 1115z I QSYed to 10m FT8. So far, (at 1148z) no spots. With the high solar flux, I am hopeful of some 10m FT8 activity.

UPDATE 1523z: Still no 10m spots.

UPDATE 1650z:  3 spots all day: 2 Gs plus IS0DDL (1427km) on 10m FT8 RX. Nobody spotted me.

15m FT8 QRP (Wednesday)

At 0910z, I turned on my 15m FT8 QRP gear with 2.5W to the indoor loop on the shack windowsill. It is now 1006z.  So far today, 25 stations spotted on RX with the best being PU2KRL (9578km) . 

Sunspots - Wednesday November 25th 2020

Solar flux is 100 and the SSN 37. A=4 and K=3.

24 Nov 2020

QSY to 2m FT8 QRP (Tuesday)

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.

2m FT8

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.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/2m-ft8

Bluetit on fatballs - NOT amateur radio


It was very hard to take a good photo of this bird as it kept moving! It is a bluetit eating our fatballs. Often jackdaws try to eat them too - they are as big as the feeder!

There were lots of long tail tits flitting about too. These were too fast for me.

UK aid budget cut - NOT amateur radio

Apparently, the UK aid budget is to be cut by law to help the chancellor balance the books and to help pay the enormous budget deficit as a result of Covid-19. 

If this is made permanent, some will see this as a backwards step. I hope that we still continue to provide meaningful aid (not arms) to countries that need it.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-55053719 .

15m FT8 QRP (Tuesday)

About 10 minutes ago, I turned on 15m FT8 QRP (2.5W and the indoor loop). It is now 1007z. Just 6 stations copied on RX so far with one in East Africa.

UPDATE 1235z:  4 spots of me so far from Eastern Europe, but 95 stations spotted on RX including Africa and South America.

UPDATE 1548z: 121 stations spotted so far today on 15m FT8 RX including North and South America.

Wifes' birthday

Today is my wifes' birthday. In these odd days we are having a quiet day. Here she is looking at one of her presents. 

Sunspots - Tuesday November 24th 2020

Solar flux is 96 and the SSN 38. A=8 and K=0.

23 Nov 2020

2m FT8 QRP

As there have been no spots here on 15m FT8 for several hours, I have QSYed to 2m FT8 using 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna. Although nothing spotted on RX so far, 5 stations have spotted my QRP.

UPDATE 1855z:  So far, 6 stations have spotted me with the furthermost being EI2FG (565km).

UPDATE 2216z:  QRT.

Black Friday "deals"? - NOT amateur radio

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.

FT8/FT4 presentation

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. 

I have to admit, I have not yet tried FT4.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/november/ft8-and-ft4-lecture-video.htm#.X7ufE2iTLrc

70cm activity contest results

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.

15m FT8 QRP

A little while ago I turned on the gear to go on 15m FT8 QRP. As usual, 2.5W and the indoor loop on the shack windowsill. Better results expected on 15m compared with 10m. 

On 15m FT8 TX I have been spotted by 1 station in Greece and 18 stations spotted on RX. No great DX yet.

UPDATE 1204z:  2 spot of me on TX with 53 stations spootted so far on 15m FT8 RX.

Stations spotted on 15m
FT8 RX today to 1650z

UPDATE 1820z:  6 stations have spotted me today on TX and 170 stations spotted on RX in 5 continents.

Housework day - NOT amateur radio

We have a routine of doing housework on Monday's. This is a photo of our garden room with the sun streaming in. This is our second reception room and very relaxing.

I shall start housework shortly! 

Sunny, frosty day - NOT amateur radio

We have a nice, crisp and sunny day at the moment. Let's hope it is sunny all day.

Sunspots - Monday November 23rd 2020

Solar flux is 88 and the SSN 35. A=27 and K=2. 

22 Nov 2020

Trump: just what is he on? - NOT amateur radio

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.

The people of the USA have spoken. Just listen.

Seen on our walk - NOT amateur radio


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.

2m FT8 QRP - Sunday

Overnight, I left 2m FT8 running on RX only. Just after breakfast I resynced the time and turned on TX (2.5W to the big-wheel omni antenna).

In the last 6 hours,  5 Gs have spotted me and I have spotted 19 stations with the furthermost being DL6YBF (471km).  No QSOs yet.

UPDATE 1324z:  41 stations in 7 countries so far spotted on 2m FT8 RX today. 1 QSO. 17 stations in 4 countries spotted me on TX.

UPDATE 2230z: QRT. 

Amaryllis - NOT amateur radio

This one was put out last winter and forgotten. My wife walked past and noticed it was growing, so we put it on the kitchen table. 

Universal Radio closure

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.

Sunspots - Sunday November 22nd 2020

Solar flux is 85 and the SSN 23.  A=12 and K=4.

21 Nov 2020

Return to 2m FT8 QRP

At 1827z, I returned to 2m FT8 QRP with 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna after a fairly fruitless day on 10m. 

So far this evening, I have been spotted by 3 stations and I have spotted 1 station according to PSKreporter. I also spotted a PA0 but this was not reported for some reason.

UPDATE 2225z: 21 stations spotted on 2m FT8 RX today as the map shows. 

Slapton Line - NOT amateur radio

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.

For a laugh - NOT amateur radio

This was on WhatsApp earlier, although I have no idea where it originated.   It brought a smile to my face. 

BTW, I have had some excellent vegan meals and could quite easily be a vegetarian, although I enjoy meat. Being a vegan would probably be a step too far.

Shack photo

This photo was taken a few minutes ago. 

It shows the equipment that I use. 

For FT8 I use the FT817ND and the SignaLink. The FT991A is only used at QRP levels. 

Cottage - NOT amateur radio


We saw this cottage on our walk yesterday. Thatcher's often have trademarks. In this case it is the dog on the roof made of straw. 

10m FT8 QRP - Saturday

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.

2m FT8 QRP - Saturday

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.

Sunspots - Saturday November 21st 2020

 Solar flux is 82 and the SSN 11. A=8 and K=2.

20 Nov 2020

Huge EME dish going

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.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/november/arecibo-dish-to-be-decommissioned.htm#.X7fYl2iTLrc

Muddy walk - NOT amateur radio


This morning we did another walk. In parts it was very muddy as the photo shows!

Mushrooms? - NOT amateur radio

We saw these on our walk earlier in the week. I think they are edible, but as we were not 100% sure, we left them.

2m FT8 QRP - Friday

Since about 1145z, I have been on 2m FT8  with the usual 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna. So far, I have been spotted by 5 G stations. It is now 1204z.

UPDATE 1252z:  8 spots of me and 9 stations so far today on 2m FT8.

UPDATE 1400z:  11 spots of me today including GI6ATZ (479km) on TX and 15 spots of others on RX.

Sunspots - Friday November 20th 2020

Solar flux is 77 and the SSN 11. A=3 and K=3.

19 Nov 2020

Early daffodils - NOT amateur radio

As mentioned in an earlier post, we went for a walk at Anglesey Abbey. 

On the winter walk is a small clump of daffodils. A few years ago these were in flower by late November. 

Judging by the photo these should be in flower soon. I quite expect these to be out this month.  

Most daffodils are not out here until late January. January is the month of snowdrops.

10m Simple Sideband

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.

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

Dual band FM VHF/UHF rig

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.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/november/new-dual-band-fm-mobile-radio.htm#.X7aFraiTLrc

See also https://www.moonraker.eu/amateur-radio/transceivers/anytone-at-779uv-dual-band-mini-mobile-radio

Anglesey Abbey in dull November - NOT amateur radio

We went for a walk this morning around the nearby National Trust place at Anglesey Abbey. 

At this time of year it looks quite drab. In the summer the herbaceous flowers and dahlias look good and in the winter there are masses of snowdrops and daffodils.

Yes, there are a few autumnal colours to enjoy, but......

Boeing 737 Max: what utter rubbish!! - NOT amateur radio

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.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/extra/jDOe2y9Tbo/boeing-737-max 

2m FT8 QRP - Thursday

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).

Sunspots - Thursday November 19th 2020

Solar flux is 77 and the SSN 11. A=4 and K=0.

18 Nov 2020

OFCOM spectrum auction

OFCOM has announced details of the next auction of spectrum at 700MHz and 3.6GHz  See their website for details.

Somehow I suspect £100 won't win, so I think I won't bother .😆

Last ones? - NOT amateur radio

Most blackberries have now shrivelled up. The photo shows one today seen on our walk earlier. 

The one I had was bitter. 

2m FT8 QRP

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.

Sunspots - Wednesday November 18th 2020

 Solar flux is 79 and the SSN 11. A=3 and K=1.

17 Nov 2020

Allotments - NOT amateur radio

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.

Par End Fed antenna

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.

See http://www.parelectronics.com/end-fedz.php

Thanks to Keith, I am a little closer. Apparently Vibroplex now sell these.
See http://www.vibroplex.com/contents/en-us/d9176.html

Nevada sells a 30W MFJ version covering 10-40m.
See https://www.nevadaradio.co.uk/product/mfj-1984lp/

BREXIT deal? - NOT amateur radio

Time is running out. Several have said this is crunch week. Both the EU and UK say they want to forge a deal, but both sides seem not to want to compromise. Surely there is a way.

2m FT8 QRP

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 .

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.

Sunspots - Tuesday November 17th 2020

 Solar flux is 77 and the SSN 0. A=2 and K=0.

16 Nov 2020

Antenna projects

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.

Winter colour - NOT amateur radio

In our back garden we have some winter flowering pansies to add a bit of colour. They already look cheerful. 

We have not had any real frosts yet. Last winter we had very few.

Cactus - NOT amateur radio

Every year about now this cactus bursts into flower. It is a Christmas cactus although I cannot remember how long the flowers last. 

2m FT8 QRP

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.

Sunspots - Monday November 16th 2020

Solar flux is 79 and the SSN 0.  A=4 and K=0.

15 Nov 2020

Trump - NOT amateur radio

Twat according to every person I have spoken with. Yes, everybody

Honestly, I have spoken to many, many people. Not a single person, not one, has had a good word to say for him. What amazes me is how many actually voted for him.

2m FT8 QRP

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, 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.

Bravery - NOT amateur radio

Although quite a few people have been been to space, it is still hazardous. Later, a crew is blasting off to the International Space Station on a private Space-X rocket. Rather them than me! 

There are quite a few apps that allow you to see where the ISS is and what can be seen from their cameras.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-54938444

BREXIT trade deal? - NOT amateur radio

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.

Spectrum issues 2025-30

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.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/november/iaru-r1-attends-radio-spectrum-policy-group-workshop.htm#.X7E9Q7uTLrc

WSJT-X release candidate

There is a "release candidate" version of WSJT-X that introduces some new modes. Normally, these are issued as fully released versions soon when they have been beta tested and bugs removed.

See https://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/wsjtx-doc/wsjtx-main-2.3.0-rc1_en.html

Pandora's Box - NOT amateur radio

There are some very old houses in our village. The one in the photo is Pandora's Box that was a haberdashery shop until a few years ago. 

It is probably 400 years old and is on a street that dates from the 1300s. It would be wonderful to see the street as it was long ago.

Garden in autumn - NOT amateur radio

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.

Animal carvings - NOT amateur radio

Most of our church dates from the 1400s. 

High up on the ceiling and easily missed are some animal carvings. These are very old and mostly done by people who had never seen these animals! 

If you ever visit Burwell church, don't miss these. A torch might be helpful and some binoculars.

6m FT8 QRP Sunday

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.

Sunspots - Sunday November 15th 2020

Solar flux is 80 and the SSN 11.  A=3 and K=0.

Solar flux seems to be in the high 70s or 80s most days now.

14 Nov 2020

Covid-19 locally - NOT amateur radio

Compared with many areas in England we are not bad. The table shows the state of play in our county. We live in East Cambridgeshire. 

New normal? - NOT amateur radio

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.

6m FT8

At 1417z, I QSYed to 6m FT8 using 2.5W to the V2000 vertical. If I spot anyone today, or if anyone spots me, I shall be pleasantly surprised.

UPDATE 1426z: Well, pleasantly surprised!  M0MVB (31km) has spotted my 6m FT8 QRP already. As I recall he has a very good 6m antenna and station. We are probably cross polarised.

UPDATE 1807z:  Just the single spot of me today on TX. 2 stations spotted on RX with the furthermost GW0GEI (308km) in west Wales.

UPDATE 2300z: QRT. 

2m FT8 QRP

Since 0855z, I have been on 2m FT8 with the usual 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna. It is now 0930z. So far, I have been spotted by a couple of stations with the furthermost being G4MSA (222km).

UPDATE 1400z:  6 stations in 3 countries have spotted me today with the furthermost being GI6ATZ (479km).

Antenna video

A friend, Chris, passed on the link to this old talk and demonstration about antennas. You might find it helpful. 

For some reason, the video did not work, so I hope this link works!

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEigIMS6bo4

Sunspots - Saturday November 14th 2020

Solar flux is 82 and the SSN 24. A=3 and K=1.

13 Nov 2020

8m (40MHz) band

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.

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

70cm super-DX

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.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/november/3000km-plus-contact-made-on-433-mhz.htm#.X67fv7uTLrc

2m FT8 QRP

Most of the day I have been on 2m FT8 with the usual 2.5W to the big-wheel omni antenna. At 2130z I have gone QRT. 

17 stations spotted me today in 6 countries as the map shows. On RX 30 stations spotted in 6 countries.

Fungus - NOT amateur radio

On our walk earlier we saw this fungus growing on some wooden railings. 

Anyone for pizza? 

Royal blood? - NOT amateur radio

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.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/history-1

Sunspots - Friday November 13th 2020

 Solar flux is 85 and the SSN 27. A=3 and K=1.

12 Nov 2020

OFCOM and short range radar

OFCOM has announced that some short range 24GHz radar for cars is to be made licence free. See the OFCOM website for more details.

Another cancelled rally

The West London Radio and Electronics show, that should have been at Kempton Park Racecourse this Sunday, November 15th, has been cancelled. Let's hope things are better next year.

Anglesey Abbey - NOT amateur radio

As it was sunny, we did a walk around Anglesey Abbey this afternoon. The photo of the mill leat is probably one of the most popular views in the whole place.  I love the reflections in the water.

2m FT8 QRP

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 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.

Amateur television

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.

See https://wiki.batc.org.uk/Portsdown_4

Sunspots - Thursday November 12th 2020

 Solar flux is 85 and the SSN 25.  A=4 and K=1.

11 Nov 2020

2m FT8 QRP

At 1935z I QSYed to 2m FT8 with 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna. Already 3 stations have spotted me with the furthermost being G8TIC (170km). No stations yet spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1905z:  6 stations have spotted me so far today on 2m FT8.  GI6ATZ (479km) is the furthermost station spotting my QRP on 2m FT8 TX. 3 stations spotted so far on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 2250z:  QRT. Several German stations spotted on RX.

Political correctness? - NOT amateur radio

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.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-54888197


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.

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

Exchange rate against the euro - NOT amateur radio

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.

6m FT8

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.

Oscar 100 satellite - activity still low

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.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/

Last night's 70cm activity contest

Last night I was on 70cm in the activity contest organised by the RSGB. Because of my poor voice I was on for about 45 minutes only. 

In all, 6 stations were worked with 10W and the 2m (not 70cm!) big-wheel omni antenna. The contacts are shown on the map. This is a friendly contest.