Some years ago I was pointed to this resource by Steve G1KQH.
31 Jan 2021
At about 1744z I QSYed to 2m FT8 with 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna. Alredady spotted by 3 stations including EI2FG 565km). No spots yet on RX.
UPDATE 1904z: 11 stations have spotted me this evening on 2m FT8 QRP TX. 8 stations spotted on RX. No QSOs.
UPDATE 2005z: 14 stations have spotted my QRP on 2m FT8 including GI and EI again. 10 stations spotted on RX.
Southgate News has a piece about a new EMF calculator produced by OFCOM and the RSGB. At some point we may have to show OFCOM that our ERP is within certain limits, for example if a neighbour made a complaint.
Since 0825z, I have been on 10m FT8 with 2.5W and the tiny indoor loop. No spots so far at 1030z. The photo shows the loop antenna on the windowsill on the right.
30 Jan 2021
Shortly, I shall be QSYing to 2m FT8 QRP using 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna.
UPDATE 1700z: QSYed at 1651z. 6 stations in 2 countries have spotted my 2.5W QRP FT8.
UPDATE 1740z: 11 stations in 4 countries have spotted me today, so far, on 2m FT8. The furthermost is EI2FG (565km).
At the moment I am on 17m FT8 QRP with 2.5W and the tiny indoor loop. 66 stations spotted on RX and 6 stations have spotted me on TX already.
UPDATE 1640z: 19 stations have spotted my 17m FT8 QRP today using just 2.5W and my tiny indoor loop. The map shows where I was spotted today.
29 Jan 2021
At 1835z I QSYed to 2m FT8 QRP with 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna. 7 G spots so far of my 2.5W QRP on TX. 4 spots in 3 countries so far on 2m FT8 RX with the furthermost being DL6YBF (410km).
UPDATE 2220z: 12 stations have spotted me on 2m FT8 TX. Now QRT.
It seems I like to experiment at the extreme ends of the spectrum, HI. Either VLF (sub 9kHz) or optical comms (481THz)!
It is now 1216z. For a few minutes I have been on 17m FT8 QRP with the FT817ND (2.5W) and the tiny indoor loop. So far today I have spotted 10 stations on RX and 2 stations have spotted me on QRP TX in southern Spain. I am amazed that anyone spots me on 17m with such low power and such a tiny antenna!
We just went to a nearby town for our first AstraZeneca Covid-19 injection. They were very well organised with loads of people helping at every stage. The injection itself was totally painless. Within 3 weeks the immunity should build.
I have been pleasantly surprised how effective these talks are. We can all see each other and most sessions have at least as many people as a face-to-face meeting, with the added advantage that those people far away can still take part.
Some months ago we had a quiz with a club in N.Ireland and we have had members in Canada and Germany at times.
Details of CDARC are on the website. See http://www.cdarc.org.uk/ .
Although 8m is allocated in EI and a very few other countries, some in other countries have asked for special permission to TX on this band.
I have lost touch who has permission. This allocation between 10m and 6m would be especially useful for Es and MS.
It may be some years before this is more generally allocated (if ever), but I expect more keen amateurs will seek special permits to TX, maybe for a limited time, with limited power, on spot frequencies on a non-interference basis i.e. as long as you don't cause trouble, you can proceed.
28 Jan 2021
Steve G1KQH and I have been discussing lower cost HF rigs. At the moment it would seem this market is being left to the Chinese and kits like the Indian uBITX.
Most modern rigs from the Japanese people like ICOM, Yaesu and Kenwood are expensive and there is a dearth of lower cost "entry level" products lacking many of the fancy features. Whilst some can afford expensive toys, many cannot.
In a way I am surprised that the uBITX design has not been bought by one of the big 3, improved, made in China and sold at an entry level price. It seems this is a market ready to be exploited. If the Japanese don't grab it, the Chinese surely will.
As 10m was not good, I QSYed to 17m FT8 QRP at about 1353z. I am running 2.5W to the tiny indoor loop.
At 17m, this is even smaller as a proportion of wavelength than 10m. Nonetheless, 11 spots on RX (including several from the USA) and 1 on TX.
UPDATE 1415z: 21 stations spotted so far on RX.
27 Jan 2021
Every few weeks I try to give my impression of activity on the narrow-band transponder of this geosynchronous satellite. I do this by looking at the web SDR at Goonhilly in Cornwall. This is very unscientific.
My impression is activity levels are slightly up. I looked at mid-afternoon in Europe on a weekday. There are more people at home at the moment because of various lockdowns due to Covid-19.
It is now 0822z. A few moments ago my 15m FT8 QRP was turned on with 2.5W to the tiny indoor loop. So far, 11 stations spotted on RX and nobody has spotted me on TX.
UPDATE 1048z: 8 stations have so far spotted my QRP on TX and 126 stations have been spotted on RX.
26 Jan 2021
This morning I am on 15m FT8 with 2.5W and the tiny indoor loop on the shack windowsill. Already spotted by SV8JNL (2485km) on TX and 19 stations already spotted on 15m FT8 RX.
UPDATE 1425z: 230 stations spotted so far on 15m FT8 RX with the tiny indoor loop and 4 people have so far spotted my QRP TX. The furthermost on RX is LU1FJP (11306km) in Argentina. On TX QRP the furthermost is RK4FF (2964km).
|Stations spotted |
on 15m FT8 today
The video shows the FT7B which is the 50W version.
Now you can buy micro SD cards with over 1TB!! At some point I shall buy a 256GB (or even larger) memory card for all my photos.
A few years from now I expect 1TB micro SD cards will be dirt cheap and seem so small.
The latest release candidate of WSJT-X has been released. It is rc4. When I tried to install it on my Windows 10 machine it kept blocking it. After going through the hoops several times I eventually installed it. This version runs until Feb 2nd when I expect to go through all this hassle again. I know why this is done: to keep the PC safe. rc3 no longer works after Jan 26th.
WSJT-X is used for FT8 and WSPR here
Although it is possible to envelope detect amateur stations if strong enough, identifying amateur SSB stations can be quite hard. The first amateur stations copied were on 160m AM way back in the 1960s. Since then I have copied amateur SSB stations on 80m at some distance. Signals need to be S9++.
In a crystal set all the power is from the TX end, with nothing at the RX end. No batteries, nothing.
I have seen broadcast signals from all over the world and these were genuine in original country broadcasts, not via relays. These days there are fewer English language broadcasters as more and more people move to the Internet.
The circuit shown here is capable of hearing this DX even though it is ultra-simple. For the detector I used a germanium diode, but a hot carrier diode might be suitable. The secret is choosing a diode with a very low turn-on voltage. Silicon diodes are not suitable.
I am sure there will be better circuits around.
25 Jan 2021
Since about 1030z I have been on 2m FT8 using 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna. Already I have been spotted in EI and GI.
Experiments continue at very low frequencies by radio amateurs. This is an area where all can take part on RX as the antennas can be very small indeed, yet highly effective. This is one of the frontiers in our hobby.
It is honest that to radiate a sub-10kHz signal does need a big antenna and dedication. Nonetheless, we need far more monitoring stations on RX only.
In the past I have tried to keep abreast of happenings at extreme VLF with my website on sub-9kHz operation. If I fail to update quickly, there are links to very up-to-date information. In 2021, I shall do my best.
See also https://sites.google.com/site/sub9khz/home .
See also https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vlf .
24 Jan 2021
EI7GL reports on his blog that the team in Cape Verde intend to try 4m operation in the coming Es season. There is some doubt that they will reach much of Europe as this may depend on multiple hop Es. At this lowish VHF frequency marine tropo ducts may be harder.
At about 0950z, my 2m FT8 gear was turned on. Running , as usual, 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna. It is now 0956z and I have been spotted by 6 stations already.
UPDATE 1000z: Already a spot of my QRP 2m FT8 by EI2FG (565km).UPDATE 1445z: 17 stations have, so far, spotted my 2.5W 2m FT8 QRP on TX. These include spots in Eire, N.Ireland and Germany. Considering no beams here, quite credible, although this seems possible with 2m FT8 QRP at almost any time. As the times seem so frequent and random, I am not convinced this is aircraft reflection. I am still wondering if FT8 allows some other sort of scattering to be possible with QRP?
In the USA many voted for him. Outside the USA I have yet to speak with anyone (not one) who has a good word for him. In 4 whole years I have spoken with, or met, many people. The number must be in the hundreds now.
Odd, he must have done something right domestically, yet abroad he is the butt of jokes.
23 Jan 2021
A few years ago, I bought a network radio. This looks like a 2m handheld but uses the internet to connect to distant stations using systems like Echolink. It works over WiFi or mobile phone networks.
Since I bought it, I hardly use it. For me, network radios are just not satisfying. It has a PTT and is very similar to a VHF or UHF handheld. One of the fun things is working stations via distant repeaters e.g. in the USA or Australia.
Personally, I prefer "real" radio, although for some these are a good substitute.
As a child, I was brought up in Salcombe, Devon. The video below was filmed in summer 2020. It is a virtual tour in 4K (ultra high definition) through the town. Not much social distancing evident!
2020 was one of the rare years when I did not go back to my roots. Hopefully in 2021 at a time when it is less busy I shall get back there.
In Europe, with a free 3 year warranty and VAT the ICOM IC-705 sells for 1317.6 Euros. In the UK the list price is £1299.95 (with VAT) with the 5 year warranty on top as an extra. Just saying....
Even with any carriage and import duties, why the difference?
Clearly, there is comfort from buying from a UK dealer who speaks English, but.....???
In a short while I hope to go on 2m FT8 with 2.5W and the big-wheel omni. Yesterday I had 1 QSO, but was widely spotted despite my low ERP signal.
Although the conventional wisdom is this is due to aircraft reflection, I am still puzzled: these DX spots seem to occur at almost any time, so I am wondering if FT8 is allowing QRP stations to access some scatter modes that would not be possible with CW or SSB at these ERPs?
I expect my 2m FT8 reports are a mix of tropo, aircraft and other scatter, possibly with some random MS. Not quite sure how long an MS burst has to get a successful FT8 decode. I suspect far less than the 15 seconds a TX FT8 burst lasts.
My ERP is probably less than 5W. The big-wheel has a little horizontal gain, but the coax has some loss.
UPDATE 1034z: My 2m FT8 QRP was turned on at 0955z. So far, 10 spots of my QRP TX including (again) EI2FG (565km) and 5 spots on RX.
UPDATE 1105z: 13 stations have so far spotted my QRP 2m FT8 TX.
The Cambridge club has held lots of talks using Zoom, and they have all be great.
22 Jan 2021
A few years ago, a pub car park became a building site.
The new houses have now been finished as the before and after photo shows.
When we first came to this village near Cambridge, the population was under 5000. It is now almost 7000. It seems every spare space is a chance to make builders money. Sadly there are few houses for ordinary folk as the profits would be too low.
21 Jan 2021
There is no doubt that FT8 has divided the amateur community .
On the plus side every day my 2m QRP to a simple non-directional antenna is copied in EI and GI. FT8 has made this possible. At the same time there is less chatting, especially with modes that casual listeners will chance upon.
It is a bit like Marmite (a UK yeast spread) that some love and some hate.
I have mixed views. With my poor voice FT8 has been a godsend. At the same time I don't want less chatting on the bands.
Since about 1505z, I have been on 2m FT8 with the usual 2.5W and big-wheel omni antenna. So far today, just 1 spot of me by G0LRD (26km).
UPDATE 1724z: 9 stations in 4 countries have spotted me today. It would seem EI and GI spots are an everyday thing even with real QRP. No QSOs yet. 7 stations in 4 countries have been spotted here so far.
UPDATE 1820z: 11 stations in 4 countries spotted on 2m RX. On QRP TX 11 station in 4 countries spotted. No QSOs. My technique is to call CQ and wait, which is the lazy way. If I called stations I am sure I'd get more contacts.
|Spots of my QRP today |
on 2m FT8 TX
20 Jan 2021
It seems odd to me that the XBS Telecom price (Europe) with included 3 year warranty and VAT is a fair bit lower than the price from any UK dealer. As an example, a 5 year warranty is extra from MLS. By the way, MLS say that all their IC-705 transceivers come from ICOM UK.
Like the IC-7300 I am convinced the IC-705 is being market priced (if the punters will pay, then do not drop the price). Most are working on the assumption that if the radio is wanted enough, then we will pay. It seems if you want an IC-705 from a UK dealer, you have to accept the market price.
I am all for fair prices as I want dealers to still be there, but I do not like to be exploited.
It is now 0955z. For about 30 minutes I have been on 2m FT8 using 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna. Already 8 spots of my QRP with the furthermost EI2FG (565km). I am amazed that my tiny signal gets this far every single day on 2m.UPDATE 1342z: 12 spots of my QRP signal so far today on 2m FT8 TX.
|Stations that have |
spotted me today
on 2m FT8 QRP
19 Jan 2021
At about 2020z, I QSYed to 2m FT8 QRP using 2.5W and the big-wheel omni. So far, I have been spotted by 4 stations on TX with the furthermost G7RAU (461km). On 2m FT8 RX just 1 station spot ted so far this evening.
UPDATE 2101z: already my QRP has been spotted by EI2FG (565km) as well as 6 others. On 2m FT8 RX I have spotted 4 stations with DL6YBF (410km) the furthermost.
UPDATE 2305z: QRT.
Southgate News reports that a new digital mode may be coming later this year called Q65 as part of WSJT-X suite. I have just downloaded the latest release candidate for WSJT-X (2.3.0-rc3), but I have not checked if it is there.
Funny how a trip to the local bakers is now exciting! I expect when this pandemic is largely over we will value the small things denied us all.
It is now 1042z. For the last few minutes I have been on 6m FT8 with 2.5W and the V2000 omni vertical. 2 spots of me so far with the furthermost M0AGP (122km).
UPDATE 1102z: Now spotted strongly by OL7M (1128km). Winter Es or aircraft? Probably aircraft.
UPDATE 1112z: 5 stations have spotted me so far. Amazing. No spots on 6m FT8 RX.
18 Jan 2021
I am mainly on 2m FT8 RX using the FT817ND and big wheel. When briefly on TX at 2.5W the report on G0LRD's (26km) grabber was poor, suggesting something is wrong either with the rig or antenna. On RX things seem to be as expected. Odd. The output power seemed low as if the SWR was poor.
The SWR looks fine, so this might be another fault in the FT817ND. Tomorrow I might try with a dummy load, and then the FT991A.
It is now 1205z. For about an hour I have been on 20m FT8 RX with the FT817ND and the indoor loop. So far, 188 stations spotted on RX.
UPDATE 1434z: Now on 2.5W TX too. So far today, 424 stations spotted on 20m FT8 RX.
UPDATE 1900z: 2 stations have spotted me on TX and 503 stations spotted on 20m FT8 RX today.
17 Jan 2021
At 1954z, I QSYed to 2m FT8 QRP using the usual 2.5W and big-wheel omni antenna. So far, 5 stations have spotted me with the furthermost being EI2FG (565km). This sort of range is always possible even with my QRP set-up. It is now 2002z. Nothing spotted on RX yet.
UPDATE 2225z: After 4 QSOs this evening, now QRT.
As 10m was pathetic here I QSYed to 20m FT8 at about 1517z using 2.5W to the tiny indoor loop.
At 20m this is so tiny that it does not look like it could ever work!
At 1525z lots of USA stations already spotted. So far, 23 stations spotted on 20m FT8 RX, but nobody has yet spotted me on TX.
16 Jan 2021
Earlier, I read Defoe's book about his trip around Britain, which was fascinating.
This book on the plague was harder reading, but worth it.