23 Apr 2021
22 Apr 2021
"It is much easier to set targets than take action to meet them. "
Personally, I suspect the world will "wake up" when it realises that green energy can actually be lower in cost than fossil fuels and can create jobs.
This is especially true if investment is switched to renewable energy rather than fossil fuels. The main breakthrough needed is low cost storage of renewable energies like wind and solar. This would be an absolute game changer.
I hope we wake up soon enough.
Look at TVs and cameras. 20 years ago who would have envisaged TFT screens and digital cameras? In 20 years from now we will probably look back and think, "did people really drive cars powered by petrol and diesel?".
One thing the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us all is just how well we can communicate without travelling. I suspect more of us with use things like Zoom for meetings rather than travelling for hours by plane, train or car. I also suspect that people will work from home more, maybe Mondays and Fridays and go into offices less often. We will still have offices and shops, but fewer. More of us will shop online.
Changes are coming.
We have had a cold and wet winter. I also suspect that the workmanship last year could have been better and many filled-in potholes would have survived. A classic case of save a few pennies in the short term, but spend much more in the longer term.
UPDATE 1324z: 5 stations have spotted my 2.5W 6m QRP FT8 TX. I have spotted 49 stations in 8 countries on 6m FT8 RX.
UPDATE 2100z: 58 stations spotted on RX and 5 stations have spotted my QRP TX.
Disappointed with the Lyrids. I stayed on 6m FT8 RX overnight but spotted nothing new. Either FT8 was the wrong mode to use or there were few meteors.
UPDATE 0847z: Puzzling. I just resynced to internet time so the internet must be working. Two stations recently spotted did not appear on PSKreporter. Do they have a problem at their end?
UPDATE 0855z: All now working. Not sure what was happening, but 9 stations just spotted and on PSKreporter. Furthermost OE9KFV (855km).
Every day, I seem to discover something new. It seems that now there is an SD card inserted it records both RX and TX. Imagine my surprise when I could play the East Cambs Net from last Monday.
My USB-C lead has come so I hope to try FT8 in the coming days. No doubt there will be some surprises there too!
21 Apr 2021
The next few days sees the peak of the Lyrids MS shower. I am not sure which mode is the best for MS on 6m.
FT8 was chosen and I shall remain on 6m FT8 RX overnight using the FT817ND and V2000 vertical omni. Within a few minutes several stations were spotted with the furthermost EI4DA (578km), although I am not sure of the propagation mechanism.
Once a month the RSGB organises a 2m activity contest (UKAC) on Tuesday evenings lasting up to 2.5 hours. I usually manage an hour with my QRP, omni antenna and poor voice. Results have just been published for the year including the April session.
Many years ago, the RSGB ran a competition in the quiet years on 10m in the evenings. Even with 10W SSB and a low dipole, I was regularly able to work stations nearly 200km away. With more power, better antennas and modes like FT8 these sort of distances should be easy.
With 4W of FM and a CB vertical 30km was possible to other locals.
What I am saying is do not neglect 10m when there is no DX around. We have plenty of space and much of the time it is under-used.
At about 0914z, I turned on my 10m QRP FT8 with 2.5W and the tiny indoor loop antenna. G0FWX (160km) copied immediately.
I have gone back to the thinner loop wire as I was a bit concerned that the higher RF voltages with the copper pipe inductor, although higher Q and more efficient, could have damaged the matching parts on TX.
UPDATE 1308z: 3 stations spotted with the furthermost OH6EJD (1874km). Nobody has spotted me. I think this is Es.
Southgate News relays some information on the EI7GL blog that the South African 8m beacon has been copied in Greece. There is even a recording on John's blog. There was a earlier report of it being copied in Portugal. Both these look like TEP.
Overnight I was on 160m FT8 RX only and spotted 144 stations. Unlike previous occasions, nothing was copied from the USA.
I am running 2.5W to the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. The return wire is hardly off the ground and buried in shrubs most of the way. Even I can hardly see it and have to check it is still intact!
20 Apr 2021
The photo shows my pass when I was at Philips Paging in California back in the late 1990s. I worked for Philips Paging for a few years. Unlike Private Mobile Radio, pagers were consumer products. We made more in one night than we made certain PMR products in a product lifetime. Every penny really really mattered as did the slightest of blemishes. We made pagers in Cambridge, Mexico and Singapore.
At 0720z I turned on the FT817ND and indoor loop on to 10m FT8 RX. In the last few days my results have been disappointing. I suspect the loop is quite a bit less efficient than a dipole.
UPDATE 0847z: G0FWX (160km) spotted. As he was quite strong, I wonder if this was aircraft scatter
UPDATE 1330z: 4 stations spotted with some Es in the form of IK7LJZ (1664km). After comparing my RX results with G0LRD who is using just a low dipole on 10m, I think my loop must be at least 6dB down.
Thankfully, I have managed to locate (in the house) a lead that connects the PC to the IC-705, so may be able to try communicating later. This can only be to see if it works as I need the wire for other things. I shall have to buy a suitable cable longer term.
The function of the new icons has been found after reading the manual again. One is speech recording and the microSD symbol flashes when it is being used. Possibly some of last night's 2m net is recorded?
19 Apr 2021
Following the instructions in "The RadioToday Guide to the IC-705", I have successfully upgraded the firmware from V1.12 to V1.24. All appears to have gone correctly. The next thing is to get a suitable interface cable from the rig to the PC and try FT8 and rig control. Some have used cables with ferrite toroids on or isolators to minimise ground loops.
As you can tell, I am taking things very slowly. With my "brain fog" (probably as a result of my 2013 stroke) it is all too easy to make mistakes. Jobs that would once have seemed trivial are now quite hard. Even just unpacking the microSD card from the packaging was a challenge!
UPDATE 2029z: Since doing the firmware update, a couple of new icons have appeared. The SD card is there, but flashing (why?) and there is an adjacent red circle. I am sure I shall find out what these are soon! I was able to have a 2m FM net OK this evening, but avoided touching anything just in case it all went wrong! Investigation needed, HI.
It is comforting to hear the church clock chiming again. Sadly, the chimes are about 13 minutes early! I am not sure how old the clock is.
The main tower bells have not been rung very often in the last year. When they return we will be back to "near normal".
NASA has successfully test flown its helicopter on Mars.
These days, you can buy a whole SDR transceiver covering 160m-70cm with all modes plus Bluetooth, WiFi and GPS in much the same size. Mind you, the AT5 was a lot less expensive!
Every few weeks I check activity on the narrowband transponder of this satellite by looking at the web SDR at Goonhilly. The last time I looked was just before 0800z on Monday.
My impression is activity levels are still low. As I have said before, this is just a quick view and far from scientific. If I looked a few minutes before or after, I might have formed a different view.
Long ago, I stopped chasing DX. If I work some rare country or QTH square then great, but I do not chase it as if my life depended on it. There is always tomorrow, but if it "gets away" does it really matter? This is just a hobby. Personally, I like to see where my QRP signals reach, but each to their own. There are many ways to enjoy our hobby.
To some working every entity matters. They enjoy the thrill of the chase. I see Southgate News has a link about this. Apparently there 209 DXCC entities active.
"To understand all is to forgive all".
I believe this is an old French proverb, but what a good one.
I am of the view that there is good and bad in all of us. Most things that go wrong whether personally or globally are as a result of not fully understanding the whole picture. It is all too easy to judge when we only see part of the picture.
18 Apr 2021
The micro-SD card for the IC-705 has arrived. Tomorrow, I may try a firmware upgrade. Others tell me this is straightforward. I certainly hope so! I am not sure of the latest firmware (1.24?), but I am sure I shall find the latest on ICOM Japan website.
At 1419z, I turned on the FT817ND and the indoor loop tuned to 10m As yet (it is now 1432z), no spots.
The sunspot count is slightly lower than yesterday and conditions more disturbed.
UPDATE 1730z: Just G0LRD spotted here and on PSKreporter by me. A PY seen mid afternoon, but this doesn't appear on PSKreporter. Overall, this has been disappointing. I'll give it a bit longer before QSYing. Looking at all the results David G0LRD has got (111 10m spots!!) he is certainly being widely spotted on 10m FT8 today. Not sure what David is using for antenna and power.
If you are looking for a 10m grabber, check this one out in Alaska at http://kl7l.com/28Alaska00000.jpg . If you know of others, please let me know. I see there is a 10m QRSS grabber at https://qsl.net/g4iog/ .
In Es openings, many European countries can be worked with simple antennas and low power. One possibility is my simple transverter.
See https://70mhz.org/ .
17 Apr 2021
I am not a great royalist and cannot imagine the royal family surviving another 50 years unless it changes. When the queen dies the English royal family will be in mortal peril. No, I think what was really being mourned was the end (or very near end) of an era.
I feel very sorry for the queen who has lost a lifelong husband and companion. They we married for 73 years, which is a long time!
As well as my DSB rig, the 10FT8R, this is a project I must build.
Yet more incentive to get my external 10m antenna up!
My 10m FT8 gear (2.5W to the indoor loop) was turned on at 0808z. After a very brief TX period, I am on RX only. So far, no spots.
UPDATE 1018z: Just G0FWX (160km) spotted so far. No Es or F2 propagation evident here yet.
UPDATE 1120z: 7 stations spotted. Looks like Es to Iberia.
16 Apr 2021
We should have done this years ago, but I suspect, like many, we were nervous of sending these precious memories away. What if they were lost?
In the end, we used a company called EachMoment who were excellent. At every stage of the process we were kept informed. The resulting DVDs came back with the original tapes about 2 weeks later. Thankfully, even after all these years, they copied fine.
I would have no hesitation using them again.
15 Apr 2021
14 Apr 2021
Until this evening my IC-705 has been superb. It has firmware 1.12 and needs upgrading to the latest version.
This evening it went on DV and seemed to freeze. I have no idea what I did. I recently bought a copy of the "Radio Today Guide to the IC-705" which went through how to do a reset if the rig "froze". In the end I did a full hardware reset which seems to have done the trick. Luckily, nothing of mine was yet stored in memories.
I have ordered a micro SD card and hope to upgrade the firmware as soon as I can. I hope this fixes the software bug. I think the latest firmware also adds some new features too.
As a professional RF engineer, I was used to software bugs especially with early releases. Often later releases fixed these. Often bug cures were hidden alongside new features. Most punters did not realise that these releases were primarily to fix the bugs!
13 Apr 2021
Especially in the Es season, lots of Europe may be worked from the UK with just a whip, a counterpoise and low power on the higher HF bands and 6m SSB.
One advantage of pedestrian portable operation is the angle of the antenna may be easily adjusted to get the strongest signal.
Overnight I was on 40m FT8 RX. So far, 942 stations have been spotted in 5 continents. It is now 0700z.
UPDATE 1154z: 1060 stations spotted on 40m FT8 RX. At one point last evening I counted 42 stations in 2.7kHz!!
12 Apr 2021
Even though the SWR was too high to TX, I decided to take a look at 40m FT8 with the earth-electrode "antenna" on RX. It is now 1849z and already 117 stations have been spotted with the furthermost UA9MA (4598km) in Omsk. This was after just a few minutes.
UPDATE 1930z: 276 stations have been spotted so far on 40m FT8 RX.
UPDATE 2107z: 505 stations spotted so far on 40m.
At 1450z, I QSYed to 20m FT8 RX with the indoor loop. So far, after a few minutes, 41 stations spotted. There is little doubt that most daytime FT8 DX is to be found on 20m.
UPDATE 1517z: 94 stations spotted.
UPDATE 1825z: 317 stations spotted in 5 continents on 20m FT8 with the indoor loop.
Southgate News has a report about the helicopter on the latest NASA Mars lander.
|Stations spotting my |
QRP on 160m FT8
On RX both North and South America spotted on 160m FT8 as well as Asiatic Russia.
11 Apr 2021
At about 1915z, I QSYed to 160m FT8 QRP with 2.5W and the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.
UPDATE 1923z: Already my QRP has been spotted by 3 stations on TX and I have spotted 14 stations on RX.
|Stations spotting |
my 160m FT8
QRP this evening
I have just switched to 20m FT8 QRP with 2.5W QRP and the (improved) indoor loop. I was very briefly on TX, but mostly on 20m FT8 RX.
Furthermost on 20m FT8 RX was W7RIS (7963km) on the west coast of the USA in Oregon. In all, 107 stations spotted on RX.
UPDATE 1904z: 251 stations spotted. Furthermost is ZS6LKF (9089km).
As it was sunny this morning, we did a walk around Ely. The cathedral is very very old and stands on a hill and can be seen for miles, a bit like Chartres in France. Centuries back the central tower collapsed and they replaced it with the wooden octagon.
|Stations spotted |
160m FT8 RX
|Stations spotting |
my 2.5W QRP FT8
on 160m last evening
At the moment I am on 17m FT8 with 2.5W and the tiny indoor loop antenna. At 0725z, no spots on RX or TX. It is very early.
UPDATE 0805z: No spots.UPDATE 1122z: 42 stations spotted on RX. I may try TX again later.
|Stations spotted on |
17m FT8 RX
10 Apr 2021
At 1942z, I turned on 160m FT8 using 2.5W and the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. Immediately, 13 stations across Europe were spotted on RX and my own QRP was spotted by 10 stations on TX. All this within about 5 minutes! By contrast, I was on 10m FT8 all day without spotting anyone.
UPDATE 1951z: Amazing! 22 stations spotted on RX and 12 stations have spotted my QRP on TX.
UPDATE 2041z: 66 stations spotted on RX and 18 stations have spotted my 160m FT8 QRP on TX.