31 Mar 2021

Another view - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows another view of Moulton village, this time with the famous packhorse bridge. At one time this was the main route from Cambridge to Bury St Edmunds. 


At one time, Radioshack was very big in the USA. I was told about a comeback, although most of the products look as if they were made in China. 

Maplins, that was a near equivalent here in the UK, closed some years ago. These days, many people buy direct from China!

At one time Radioshack sold a nice single band 10m SSB rig. The name escapes me.

See https://www.radioshack.com/


Way back in 1961 I was bought a Heathkit electronics workshop for Christmas. Little did I know then that this was to be the start of an absorbing hobby and career. Heathkit is trying to make a comeback although the offerings I have seen have definitely not been impressive. These kits are overpriced and I am surprised they are still around. They must have some very loyal customers!

See https;//shop.heathkit.com/shop

See also https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp/Home/ew on my very old (not maintained) website. The links of the left cannot be relied upon.

Sunspots - Wednesday March 31st 2021

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

30 Mar 2021


For a long time I have been coveting an IC-705 from ICOM. In the end I traded my FT991A in and bought one with the PSU, desk stand and 5 year warranty.

It was far more expensive than I wanted to pay from a UK dealer, but I rarely buy gear and I probably haven't that many years to enjoy it. It should give me years of fun. I cannot see the prices falling any time soon. The IC-7300 hasn't dropped in years.

In the end, the review by Peter Hart in the latest RadCom persuaded me. So, I have succumbed.  At the moment I am still reading the manual and will probably try it later.

More later....

Lunch in the garden - NOT amateur radio


For the first time this year we had lunch in the garden. It was a beautiful day although things are due to get far colder over Easter. 

Moulton walk - NOT amateur radio

 This morning we did a nice walk around the village of Moulton as the photo shows. 

British humour - NOT amateur radio

This character may be familiar to many in the UK. He features in a well known comedy programme on TV. 

Sunspots - Tuesday March 30th 2021

 Solar flux is 74 and the SSN 13.  A=4 and K=1.

29 Mar 2021

Club Log

As many will know, I am not a great DX chaser these days. If I work DX great, although I rarely go looking for it. To some, it is an important aspect of our hobby. Working rare DX on multiple bands can be a source of great excitement. 

If I remember correctly, I achieved DXCC on 10m SSB QRP way back in the 1980s. My greatest thrill was working New Zealand with 10W SSB on 10m early one morning with a simple sloping wire dipole. The other thrill was working a VP8 in Antarctica.

If you are a keen DXer you may like Club Log. It seems an ideal resource for keen DXers.

FT8 dominance

In the last few years, FT8 has become the dominant mode on many bands. 

Unlike speech modes, FT8 is definitely not a chatting mode. Basic QSO data only is exchanged. To use FT8 needs special software like WSJT-X that can be got for free on the internet. 

Whilst this mode is great for simple stations and those who find talking hard (like me), it is not a mode that you just stumble across. Many years ago I "found" amateur radio by chance hearing AM stations on 160m and 15m. 

In the end FT8 and similar could kill our hobby. What I am advocating is FT8 should be seen as complementing speech modes, not instead of speech modes.  I hope, as HF conditions improve, more people will use SSB, FM and AM again.

Coming on - NOT amateur radio

Like many English villages, we no longer have a bank. Thankfully, there are several options for getting cash from our bank including our local Post Office, which is actually easier than traditional "holes in the wall". 

After many years, our old bank is being converted to commercial units. One of these is to be a hairdressers. People who know me know that I cannot take advantage of this!

English humour - NOT amateur radio

This was on Facebook earlier. It will appeal to British humour, although I am not sure what others will make of it. 

FT8 QRP today

Shortly I hope to go on 17m FT8 QRP with 2.5W and the tiny indoor loop.

At present (0820z) I am on 160m FT8 RX. As we have daytime conditions, there is no DX, in fact no spots at all!

UPDATE 0836z:  17m gear turned on. 10 stations spotted on RX with the furthermost 5Z4VJ (6858km) in Kenya.  Nobody yet spotting me on TX.

UPDATE 1228z: 246 stations spotted on RX with the furthermost YB7OO (11788km).  On TX my QRP has been spotted by 2 stations with the furthermost R2ASY (2426km) near Moscow. 1 QSO today.

UPDATE 1420z: 326 stations spotted on 17m FT8 RX and 4 stations spotting my QRP on TX.

UPDATE 1720z:  465 stations spotted on 17m FT8 RX and 6 stations have spotted my QRP TX.

Sunspots - Monday March 29th 2021

Solar flux is 75 and the SSN 11. A=6 and K=2.

160m FT8 overnight

Overnight I was on 160m FT8 RX. 193 stations spotted including 3 USA stations. No South Americans last night. The antenna is still the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. 

28 Mar 2021

160m FT8 RX (Sunday)

Since about 1930z I have been on 160m FT8 RX. It is now 2005z and 42 stations have been spotted. The antenna is still the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.

UPDATE 2245z: 90 stations spotted this evening. 

FT8 slots

In the last few years FT8 has taken off like crazy.  It is very sensitive and works with very weak signals, much weaker than SSB and CW. It is not a chatting mode. It allows the minimum details for a QSO to be exchanged. There is a spin-off called JT8call that does allow free form messages, so chats could be had. 

Sadly FT8 has resulted in fewer speech mode chats. Although not a QRP mode per se, it does allow worldwide QSOs with QRP and simple antennas. Most find far less than 100W is sufficient to work the world.

One thing I have noticed is just how busy the narrow FT8 slots get. Although the transmissions only need about 50Hz, it is quite possible to find 20 or more stations in the FT8 window. The advantage is all signals get decoded by the (free) software and split operation within the FT8 window is encouraged.

There is a case of several FT8 slots in each band. The disadvantage is you may have to monitor more slots. There is a case for 2 or 3 FT8 slots on each band. This is still narrower than a few SSB signals.

UK and Covid-19 - NOT amateur radio

Rules within the UK nations vary, so what follows applies to England only. At the moment, the plan is to cautiously relax some rules on March 29th. This is part of a roadmap to complete relaxation of the rules. 

Dates could slip, although at the moment things are still on track. A lot depends on how people behave, vaccines and the 3rd wave in Europe and of course variants emerging.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-56553128 .

Friedrichshafen 2021 - off

Although I have looked quite hard, I have failed to find out if this years grand show in June is definitely cancelled. 

2022 is on and I would be extremely surprised if this years show was on, especially with rising Covid-19 cases across Europe. Putting on a show would be expensive and it is unlikely many would want to be there in big crowds with the pandemic, even if they could travel.

The last definitive information I saw was that Dayton, USA was cancelled and Friedrichshafen 2021 was to be decided still. However, Southgate News is reporting that it is cancelled this year.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2021/march/ham-radio-exhibition-once-again-suspended.htm#.YGBoEyvYrrc .

It is definitely not happening in 2021. I have found the official announcement of this. A pity, but understandable. 

See https://www.hamradio-friedrichshafen.com/no-get-together-in-2021-ham-radio-exhibition-once-again-suspended

Notice the word "suspended" . There is an online event June 25th - 27th 2021.

17m FT8 QRP (Sunday)

 At 1109z I went on 17m FT8 QRP with 2.5W to the tiny indoor loop on the shack windowsill. It is now 1116z and so far today, 18 stations have been spotted on RX with nobody spotting my QRP on TX.

UPDATE  1425z:  So far today, 2 spots of my QRP with the furthermost being  UW5ZM (2317km) from the Ukraine on TX and 185 stations spotted on RX. At some point I shall remember to convert BST to GMT. Give me a few days!

Best friends - NOT amateur radio

These were hand reared and are now best friends. Aghhh... 

Sunspots - Sunday March 28th 2021

 Solar flux is 80 and the SSN 11. A=8 and K=1.

27 Mar 2021

Lode - NOT amateur radio

Lode is a sleepy village about 5 miles from Cambridge. Buses are every 2 hours in the weekdays with none on Sunday. 

17m FT8 QRP (Saturday)

 For most of the day I have been on 17m FT8 with 2.5W and the tiny indoor loop. So far (it is now 1510z), just 1 station has spotted me on TX and I have spotted 267 stations on RX with the furthermost YB3EDD (12235km).

Village cottages - NOT amateur radio


Burwell (our village) has a total mix of old and new homes. These cottages are on the main High Street. I am not sure how old these are, but I guess most date from the 1800s.

Oscar 100 geosynchronous satellite

Every few weeks, I give my impression of activity on the narrowband transponder of this satellite as seen by looking at the webSDR at Goonhilly. 

As said many times before, this is not a scientific look. It is more of a "quick peek" impression, in this case looking mid-afternoon on a Friday in Europe. 

My impression is activity is very slightly up on the last time I looked. There is still plenty of room.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/ .

Sunspots - Saturday March 27th 2021

Solar flux is 80 and the SSN 24.  A=12 and K=1.

26 Mar 2021

Spring colours - NOT amateur radio


Spring has sprung as witnessed by this blossom photographed by my wife yesterday.

/P and contests

 According to Southgate News, the RSGB is to accept /P entries in contests from March 29th. They state you have to obey local Covid rules, but the "stay at home" message is to be replaced (we hope) by "stay local" in England. This would mean /P operations would be legal if local.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2021/march/rsgb-contest-committee-agree-to-accept-portable-entries.htm#.YF3yKiuTLrc

OFCOM plan of work

I am definitely a grumpy old man! 

OFCOM has just posted its plan of work for the next financial year on its website. If I was still working and not retired I would have been told the statement is full of "motherhoods" !

Personally, I would prefer if they concentrated on real enforcement and less on such statements.

It is very easy to criticise, but the impression this gives me is a total lack of RF knowledge and a bunch of children, trying to be "grown ups". Your views may well differ, and these are my impressions only.

As I was always told "don't judge a book by its cover".

See the OFCOM website and make up your own minds.

17m FT8 QRP (Friday)

At 1217z, I turned on the FT8 QRP  with 2.5W and the windowsill tiny loop. It is now 1222z and, so far, 20 stations have been spotted on RX but no spots of me on TX.

UPDATE 1435z:  127 stations spotted on RX with the furthermost YB8ADX (12413km). On QRP TX 2 stations have spotted me so far today.

UPDATE 2212z:  Now QRT.  Altogether, 204 stations spotted on RX and 2 stations spotted my QRP on TX.

Rainbow - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday was typical spring day with a mixture of sunshine and scattered showers. We were treated to a rainbow shortly before dark as the photo shows.

Sunspots - Friday March 26th 2021

 Solar flux is 79 and the SSN 24.  A=18 and K=1.

25 Mar 2021

Perspectives on old age - NOT amateur radio

Next birthday I shall be 73. Both my dad and granddad died in their sixties. I could die tomorrow or live for many years. 

On the balance of probabilities I probably have not got many years left. Certainly I am more aware than ever that the years are passing by.  

Some of the things I could so easily do are now impossible. I am giddy all the time and driving is no longer a pleasure. 

Someone once advised me to enjoy things before it is too late. Maybe they are right. One thing is certain: the future is unknown.

Angry sky - NOT amateur radio

Angry sky

We have just got back from a walk around Anglesey Abbey. It tried to rain! 

Rally cancelled

The Callington Rally in Cornwall has been cancelled. Many years ago I went to this when I lived in Devon. It should have been March 28th, which is this Sunday. Hopefully it will be on again in 2022. 

 Probably many more rallies will be postponed or cancelled this spring and summer.

2m FT8 QRP (Thursday)

Since before breakfast I have been on 2m FT8 with 2.5W and the big-wheel omni antenna. So far, at 0947z, I have been spotted by 13 stations in 2 countries with the furthermost G7RAU (461km) in Cornwall. On 2m FT8 RX 20 stations in 4 countries spotted with the furthermost DJ9ON (489km).

UPDATE 1025z:  One QSO with a station in IO70.  15 spots of my QRP.

UPDATE 1648z:  3 QSOs today.  My 2.5W FT8 to the big-wheel has been spotted by 25 stations and I have spotted 55 stations in 6 countries.

UPDATE 1830z:   29 stations in 3 countries have spotted my 2m FT8 QRP today on TX. 65 stations spotted on RX in 7 countries.

OFCOM spectrum negotiations

OFCOM has announced that its next stage of auctioning 700MHz and 3.6GHz spectrum has moved to the negotiating stage where bidders can trade spectrum between each other. See the OFCOM website for more details. It makes sense for bidders to have contiguous chunks.

472kHz WSPR last evening

Continued monitoring overnight has not been that productive on previous occasions , so I went QRT in the late evening having spotted 4 unique stations. As usual, using the FT817ND and the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.

Earning a cup of tea - NOT amateur radio

Our son weatherproofing our garden shed yesterday. 

It looks much better now after a coat of preservative used for sheds and fences.  I shall ask him to do the garden benches soon.

Sunspots - Thursday March 25th 2021

Solar flux is 84 and the SSN 26.   A=10 and K=4.

24 Mar 2021

472kHz WSPR RX

At 1844z, I QSYed to 472kHz (630m) WSPR RX. Once again, I am using the FT817ND and the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.

UPDATE 2211z:  G0MRF has been a huge signal this evening. Furthermost is LA8AV (1012km).

UPDATE 2300z:  QRT

17m FT8 QRP (Wednesday)

A few moments ago, I QSYed to 17m FT8 QRP with 2.5W and the tiny indoor loop. It is now 1111z. So far 6 stations have been spotted on RX with nobody yet spotting my QRP on TX.

UPDATE 1127z:  So far today, 15 stations spotted here on RX, and still nobody has spotted my QRP FT8 on TX.

UPDATE 1421z:  105 stations in 5 continents spotted on 17m FT8 RX today and nobody has spotted my QRP TX.

UPDATE 1806z:  139 stations spotted on RX. Nobody spotted me on TX.

EMF calculator (revised)

Southgate News reports that a new EMF calculator is now available from the RSGB.  If your EIRP is greater than 10W, you may have to use this.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2021/march/new-rsgb-emf-calculator-available.htm#.YFsX-yuTLrc .

Suez Canal blocked - NOT amateur radio

The BBC reports that a large container ship has run aground in strong winds and blocked the Suez Canal. This is vital artery for world trade. It is already caused major tailbacks. Imagine being in charge of steering this ship!

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-56505413 .

Spring - NOT amateur radio

Although we can definitely get bad weather still, it feels like a corner has been turned and spring has come as the photo shows. 

Daffodils are looking good in our village. 

The clocks change to British Summer Time (BST) this weekend. Next week it is lighter in the evenings and not dark until about 7.45pm local time. We change from "indoor mode" to "outdoor mode". Sadly, this means cutting the grass!

Overnight on 160m FT8

Stations spotted
last night on
160m FT8 RX
Although I had another 160m FT8 QSO with 2.5W in the very early morning with a German, I was on 160m FT8 RX overnight. Again the antenna was the earth-electrode in the ground. 

272 stations spotted in 5 continents as the map shows. 

I was spotted by 47 stations across
Stations spotting
my 2.5W FT8
QRP last night 
Europe on QRP FT8 160m TX as the map shows. 

I remain amazed just how well this "antenna" works.  Considering nobody knows it is there, I cannot fault it.

UPDATE 1005z:  Back to daytime conditions! Nobody spotted in the last few hours.

Sunspots - Wednesday March 24th 2021

 Solar flux is 79 and the SSN 26.  A=11 and K=2.

23 Mar 2021

Dad's seat - NOT amateur radio

When my dad first retired he got a job with the National Trust and was in charge of a team working on repairs to the coastal footpaths in South Devon. When he died they erected 2 seats on Bolberry Down in his memory. In the photo I am sitting on one of them some years ago. 

160m FT8 QRP (Tuesday)

At about 1330z I turned on my 160m FT8 QRP with 2.5W and the earth-electrode antenna in the ground. No spots yet. 

UPDATE 1708z:  Just 1 G - G3NSM (123km) has spotted my QRP TX and European DX is starting to come through on RX. So far, 7 stations spotted on RX.

More - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows what I think are storage batteries being erected near our electricity substation. 

Overnight on 160m FT8 QRP

Stations spotting my
160m FT8 2.5W
Once again I was on 160m FT8 with 2.5W and the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.  My signal was spotted by 32 stations with the furthermost being R7MA (2859km). The map shows where my 2.5W 160m FT8 was spotted last evening.

One QSO on 160m FT8 QRP with a German shortly before midnight. 

Just 268 stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX overnight in 5 continents. I do not use 160m often enough to know if this is conditions changing or just a bad night. 2 North Americans and 1 South American spotted.

UPDATE 1009z:  Back to daytime and just 1 G spotted!

Sunspots - Tuesday March 23rd 2021

 Solar flux is 80 and the SSN 23. A=8 and K=4.

22 Mar 2021

Scam bating - NOT amateur radio

If you are like me, you are getting more scam calls that originate abroad, but use UK numbers to actually fool punters. TPS, which we have, cannot stop these I think. 

We have tunes on our phones so we know when genuine people are calling: different friends and family members have unique tunes. Everyone else is asked to leave an answerphone message. Most scammers just hang up. We work on the assumption that if it was really urgent they would leave a message or call again.

I have asked for a package on Virgin Media that may help. It is free for 30 days. We will see.

Apparently someone is working on software to waste scammers time. Great!

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/technology-56458267.

160m FT8 QRP (Monday)

About 15 minutes ago, I turned on my 2.5W to the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground on 160m FT8 TX. No spots yet. 

UPDATE 1605z:  Still no spots on RX or TX. The Europeans should start appearing soon.

UPDATE 1625z:  The first DX from Europe came through at 1614z on 160m FT8 RX. There are others starting to be spotted. Still nobody spotting me on QRP TX.

Photobooks - NOT amateur radio

Every season, my wife makes a photo book. Altogether we have 53 in addition to old albums. 

It is amazing to see how much the grandchildren have changed over the years. 

Shack sunset

The photo doesn't really do justice to the wonderful sunset last night. This was the view out of the shack window last night.

In the foreground is the shack PC with WSJT-X monitoring 160m FT8 RX. 

As you can see, there were plenty of European (later transatlantic) stations being spotted on the earth-electrode antenna at about 1845z. 

Overnight on 160m FT8 RX

Stations spotted
on 160m FT8
RX overnight
Still stations in the Americas again on 160m FT8 RX last night as the map shows.  Overall fewer stations spotted though. 

Stations spotting
me last evening
on 160m QRP FT8
On TX, I was spotted by 21 stations (2.5W to the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground) with the furthermost OE9GHV (869km), before going RX only overnight.  The other map shows the stations spotting me last evening.

Spring flowers - NOT amateur radio

The flowers in the photo were spotted by my wife a few days ago. 

We are now officially in spring by any measure. The UK Met Office counts March 1st as the first day of spring whereas the traditional start is the spring equinox.

In the weeks ahead we will see migrant birds like swallows returning.

The UK clocks change to British Summer Time (BST) next weekend.

Sunspots - Monday March 22nd 2021

 Solar flux is 77 and the SSN 12.  A=24 and K=3.

21 Mar 2021

Walk - NOT amateur radio

Before lunch we did a walk around the village with our elder grandson as shown in the photo. 

Covid-19 Vaccines - NOT amateur radio

Some countries seem further ahead with vaccines than others. This puts in doubt the ability of our daughters-in-law to visit their parents in France and Australia this year. This is such a pity.

Moxon antennas

Someone today asked me if I still have my coat hanger Moxon for 70cms. Moxons (as the page shows) can be easily made and work well. I have not seen the antenna for many years, so I doubt I still have it.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/70cm_moxon .

My grandson's video channel - NOT amateur radio

 My 13 year old grandson has a YouTube channel he has created. He is looking to get more subscribers. This is his channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4m_i-SRpAFX-iBtk9z8O4w

Overnight on 160m FT8 RX

Overnight I again stayed on 160m FT8 RX. As before, stations from 5 continents spotted in numbers approaching 400 as the world map shows.

UPDATE 1000z:
1000z Sunday - quite different
Just 1 G being spotted now as the other map shows.

UPDATE 1245z: Still very quiet on 160m FT8 in the daytime.

UPDATE 1351z:  QRP TX now on.

UPDATE 1611z:  2 G stations have spotted my QRP so far. Real DX has still not started to come through as it is still daylight here.

UPDATE 1700z:  European DX has been coming through for about 30 minutes now. Spotting stations in Finland and Germany.

Devon - NOT amateur radio

This is near where I come from in South Devon. 

Sunspots - Sunday March 21st 2021

Solar flux is 80 and the SSN 12. A=29 and K=5.

20 Mar 2021

Anglesey Abbey - NOT amateur radio

This is a National Trust property about 5 miles away from home. We walk in the grounds most weeks. 

Kombucha - NOT amateur radio

Until this morning, I had never heard of this.  Today, I have come across it twice within about 6 hours! Firstly I saw that a radio amateur had made some and then it appeared in the BBC Good Food magazine.

As far as I can see, it is a form of fermented tea. In Japan it refers to tea made from kelp seaweed. I think you can get kombucha in various flavours.

Funny how you can go a whole lifetime without coming across it, then it appears twice! 😄

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kombucha .

EMF and public safety

OFCOM is consulting about the dangers of exposure to RF by the general public. 

It is intending to add something in the licence to make clear that radio amateurs have to ensure the public is safe. 

OFCOM and the RSGB are working on calculators so that amateurs can work out if the RF produced is likely to be a danger. 

Being able to show how any potential danger was worked out could be important if a station was to be inspected, for example in the event of interference to a neighbour's TV.

See https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0022/214663/emf-implementation-update.pdf .

OFCOM limited power FM trials

OFCOM is to trial 10 limited power FM broadcaster stations for a year and is asking for volunteers to take part. It is wondering if such licences would be suitable for hospitals and army barracks for example. Rnage could be approximately 1km.

See https://www.ofcom.org.uk .

Antenna tuner for the IC-705

ICOM has released the auto ATU for the IC-705 (the AH-705) reports Southgate News. It is quite expensive and there are lower cost auto tuners that will work as well or better e.g. the Elecraft T1. This is also smaller and probably has a wider range. It is also, lower cost. 

The AH-705 is £309.60, which is expensive. The answer is use resonant antennas or lower cost tuners!

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2021/march/ah-705-hf-50-mhz-automatic-antenna-tuner-for-the-ic-705.htm#.YFYBKyuTLrc .

160m FT8 QRP (Saturday)

At 1355z I turned on my 2.5W FT8 to the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. I am calling CQ in the middle of the FT8 "window".  All I am spotting currently is G stations. No DX is being spotted in the daylight. It is now 1402z. Just one, fairly local, station G4HPW (37km) spotting me this afternoon.

UPDATE 1659z: 5 stations (all G) have spotted my QRP TX this afternoon. 5 stations spotted on RX with the furthermost LY2BVB (1659km) in Lithuania. It is still very light here, although I guess it is darker further east. The European DX is just starting.

UPDATE 1749z: 26 stations now spotted on RX. Clearly European DX is now coming through as night draws in.

UPDATE 2214z: 215 stations spotted on160m FT RX as shown on the map. 19 stations have spotted my QRP on TX as I have been on RX much of the evening. QRT soon, then on RX only overnight.

Victorian photo - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows one of my wife's ancestors. It was taken in the late 1800s. She is presently making books with some early photos of her relatives. 

I hope to do one soon.

The earliest she has is one showing a relative who fought at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. This is partly hand finished and probably dates from the dawn of photography in the 1840s.

See https://www.snapfish.co.uk/home

Cambridge - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows near Kings College in Cambridge 2 years ago. 

Overnight on 160m FT8 RX

Amazing. Overnight I was on 160m FT8 RX with the FT817ND and the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. 

In all, 415 stations were spotted in 5 continents as the map shows on RX. 

UPDATE 1100z: The DX is definitely a night-time thing on this band. Although I was spotting 5T5PA (3791km) at breakfast time, now I am only spotting Gs.

Sunspots - Saturday March 20th 2021

Solar flux is 74 and the SSN 14.  A=6 and K=3.

19 Mar 2021

160m FT8 QRP (Friday)

At 1850z I QSYed to 160m FT8 with 2.5W and the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. It is now 1856z. So far this evening, 4 stations have spotted me on TX and I have spotted 22 stations on RX.

UPDATE 2030z: 16 stations have spotted me on QRP TX on 160m FT8 today. 

136kHz beacon tests

Last week I mentioned that I had, by accident, found my 136kHz CW beacon. I also found my battery operated E-field probe which fits on a car mag-mount.

At the moment, during lockdown, we are only meant to leave the house for defined purposes. Just going out for a 136kHz test is not allowed, so I shall have to combine my tests with a walk for exercise. I have a possible test site, but may be able to test as we drive around if my wife drives the car. The beacon can be switched to QRSS, but I want to test "by ear" with 10wpm CW.

On TX the beacon is connected to the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. So far, I have never tried 136kHz TX outside the home. I did try 136kHz WSPR RX a few years ago.

Chionodoxa - NOT amateur radio

This carpet of blue flowers is chionodoxa at Anglesey Abbey earlier.

 I thought they were bluebells. 

Apologies in advance! - NOT amateur radio

I saw this earlier on Facebook so thought I'd like to share it here. 

17m FT8 QRP with 2.5W and the tiny indoor loop antenna

At 1345z the 17m FT8 QRP gear was turned on. So far today 22 stations have been spotted on RX and 3 stations have spotted me today so far on 15m FT8 QRP TX after just 10 minutes!! 

UPDATE 1840z:  151 stations spotted on RX.  8 stations have spotted my QRP TX.

Red-legged partridges - NOT amateur radio

We used to see these handsome birds regularly in our garden and close but they have not been seen for a while. They were introduced in the UK some years ago. 

Sunspots - Friday March 19th 2021

 Solar flux is 73 and the SSN 12. A=4 and K=2.

18 Mar 2021

Chinese electric commuter car - NOT amateur radio

The Chinese have launched a very low cost electric car aimed at commuters. It is a joint venture with General Motors. It is outselling Tesla cars by about 2:1. The standards in China are much lower than in Europe and the USA. At the moment it is only on sale in China.

It seems to me they have got their marketing spot on. In the west we have not got our electric car marketing correct. Our cars have (generally) got insufficient range for long distances and yet are far too expensive.

In what appears to be a stupid move, the UK government has today reduced the grant on electric cars under £35k and withdrawn it totally for cars over £35k. So much for encouraging us to go green!

In my view, the UK should launch a no frills electric car that fits the commuter range and can be charged at home. The government could actively encourage sales of these by strongly subsidising low cost electric cars made in the UK designed for commuters and local shopping trips.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56178802 .


According to the UK Met Office, spring began on March 1st. Some others define it as March 21st. 

Once the primroses are common we know spring is really here. My wife took this photo yesterday.

10m dipole

One of the simplest antennas is the dipole made of wire. 

On 10m this is quite small being only about 5m long. Although I have been very impressed with my tiny indoor loops, an outside dipole should be several dBs better in the best directions.

Whereas, in the past, erecting this would have been a trivial task, my ladder days are largely over, so I depend on others now for erection. Hopefully my son can help in the coming weeks. 

It would be good to have this up before the Es season starts, late next month. By the autumn I think we can expect the USA to come through regularly on 10m, even on 10m AM just above 29MHz.

I have an idea on where to hang it. This should be good for North America and Europe.

Echolink update

Southgate News reports that Echolink has been updated. I have to confess that I have not used Echolink for over a year. It allows you to talk via distant repeaters, although most of the ones I tried were very quiet. Finding any with activity was hard and this is one of the reasons I stopped. 

An advantage of Echolink is network radios can be used. As long as you have the internet, then you can gain access.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2021/march/echolink-for-windows-version-2-1-now-available.htm#.YFNdEyuTLrc .

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

Kind bee - NOT amateur radio

There was a bee on this daffodil when we went out yesterday and one there when we got back. It may even be the same one! 

My wife took this photo yesterday. 

Fen landscapes - NOT amateur radio

We live in the village of Burwell in Cambridgeshire, UK. This is where the chalk uplands meet the peat fens. Where we are is chalk, but about 300m away it is peat. 

The photo shows the fen landscape just to the north of us. Just visible as a white dot is Wicken windmill.

17m FT8 QRP (Thursday)

At 0830z, I turned on my 2.5W QRP FT8 to the indoor loop on 17m. So far, no spots on PSKreporter even though there are several stations spotted.

UPDATE 1215z:  101 stations spotted on RX. 5 stations have spotted my QRP TX.

UPDATE 1348z:  7 stations have spotted my QRP today on 17m FT8 with the furthermost being AJ1AJ (5264km). 167 stations spotted on RX.

Stations spotting my
2.5W QRP on 17m FT8
with the tiny indoor loop
UPDATE 1920z: 14 stations have spotted me today on 17m FT8 QRP TX and I have spotted 295 stations on RX.

UPDATE 2118z:  QRT.

Sunspots - Thursday March 18th 2021

 Solar flux is 78 and the sunspot number 12. A=5 and K=2.

17 Mar 2021

Astra- Zeneca Covid-19 Vaccine - NOT amateur radio

I am deeply puzzled by some EU nations. I voted to stay in the EU in 2016, but am now convinced we did the correct thing leaving! They seem protectionist and slow beyond words!

Both the European Medicines Agency and the WHO have declared the AZ vaccine safe, yet still some nations insist on a pause. In the meantime many people will die and even more will be more vaccine-averse in months to come. 

Surely investigate if you must, but do not in the meantime pause vaccinating people who so desperately need it. This stinks of crass stupidity on a massive scale. Sour grapes?

15m FT8 QRP (Wednesday)

Shortly, I hope to go on 15m FT8 with 2.5W and the tiny indoor loop antenna. It is now 1412z.

UPDATE 1701: Just 4 stations spotted on RX and no spots of me on QRP TX.

UPDATE 1930z: 27 stations spotted on RX and 2 stations have spotted my 2.5W on TX.

UPDATE 2030z:  QRT.  In the end 29 stations spotted on RX.

Kings, Cambridge - NOT amateur radio

When I first came to Cambridge I had a weekly meeting in room X6 at King's college. That seems very long ago. 

X6 is on the left of the photo. The river is the Cam.

OFCOM Auction

OFCOM has announced the results of the first stage of its recent spectrum auction. See the OFCOM website for details.

Yet again the big mobile phone companies have paid a lot for spectrum. It seems all OFCOM is interested in really is ££££££!

What happened to the GPO and enforcement?

The recent announcement about safeguarding the public from harmful EMF rings hollow.

Spring lambs - NOT amateur radio

This photo shows lambs a few years ago at a nearby National Trust property.  It appeared as a FB memory today. 

Sunspots - Wednesday March 17th 2021

 Solar flux 79 and the SSN 23.  A=4 and K=1.

16 Mar 2021

RSGB videos on YouTube

 The RSGB has a number of useful videos on YouTube.

See https://www.youtube.com/user/TheRSGB

Mother's Day in the UK - NOT amateur radio

Last Sunday was Mother's Day in the UK. Dates may vary across the world. 

My wife got some nice gifts from our sons as the photo shows.

2021 Friedrichshafen in June ON but Dayton cancelled, UK Hamfest - maybe

Southgate News reports that plans for an in-person Friedrichshafen in June are still going ahead. I do hope so. I think there is an online event too. This is one of the biggest amateur radio gatherings in the world.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2021/march/friedrichshafen-june-25-27.htm#.YFDDJiuTLrc

On a sadder note, the ARRL reports that the Dayton Hamvention is being cancelled for the second year. In the USA there is a great danger of a new spike in Covid-19 infections, so this is probably sensible.

See http://www.arrl.org/news/dayton-hamvention-cancels-2021-show#:~:text=Dayton%20Hamvention%Ca 2%AE%20will%20not,the%2t0Hamvention%20Executive%20Committee%20said.

The UK organisers of the National Hamfest is making a final decision in June.

Simple, low cost, digital mode transceivers

Thanks to Ron, who made a comment on a post yesterday, it appears there are kits for HF bands (including 10m) FT8. 

These are SSB rigs sold by Midnight Design Solutions. I had not seen these before, nor the QST review. They sell for $55 which is pretty reasonable. My design would have been considerably simpler, but was DSB.

This is designed by Dave Benson K1SWL, so should be good. As an SSB phased design this is more sophisticated. Dave's design also allows you to choose an alternative frequency and offers more power. They should sell many when their supplier problems end.

See https://midnightdesignsolutions.com/phaser/

UPDATE 1420z:  Just ordered a 10m kit. Due May. I see the SMA parts are pre-fitted.

UPDATE 1620z: Someone asked me if I had given up on my ultra-simple DSB project. No, definitely going ahead still!

Shadows - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday, the shadows cast by the windmill next door were spectacular as shown in the photo.  We get good views from the kitchen and lounge.

The windmill and sails are due for a repaint soon. Normally the 200 year old, fully restored, mill is open for visitors April-October.