31 May 2021

Crystal replacement?

Unless you are able to find a low cost source of crystals, they can be very expensive these days. Some people have turned to Si5351 synthesiser boards as an alternative. I believe they can be programmed to provide outputs from kHz to VHF frequencies. But can these work with the programming source  removed so this is a true crystal replacement? Please let me know if you know how. 

If they can be used "stand alone" they become far more useful if they can be easily programmed. The ideal would be easy programming with a PC or Mac or even Android and then essentially a free standing oscillator module.

UK and Covid-19 - NOT amateur radio

The UK is doing pretty well in its vaccination campaign, despite a reactive rather than proactive government that always seems to be just behind, rather than just in front of, the pandemic. At the moment, the popular press is worried that the complete lifting of restrictions in a few weeks could be dangerous.

The concern is new variants of which the focus at the moment is on the variant that was first spotted in India.  Most vulnerable people have been vaccinated. Of those, those who get sick are not likely to be hospitalised or die.

I guess the question is, "what danger does another another wave pose?" . Clearly, if all adults were vaccinated, the chances of the hospitals being overwhelmed decreases markedly. Personally I'd keep some restrictions for a few more weeks. Most things we can do and it would be wrong to throw this away for the sake of a few weeks.

Personally I would ban foreign holidays this year unless people are prepared to hotel quarantine at their expense. At least ban them until all adults that want them are vaccinated. I would also make all hospital and care home workers have to be vaccinated as a condition of employment.

Nostalgia time

In the 1970s most SSB operation on 2m was with the Liner 2. Later, many used the IC-202 from ICOM. This was a better radio with fewer spurii and a better, cleaner TX. Many are still in use to drive microwave transverters. The IC-202 was a lower powered radio, but it could be used handheld.

No synthesisers, lots of wires, no memories, just clean and simple. These were SSB/CW radios with a very good VXO covering 200KHz with each crystal. To most people it seemed like a VFO with smooth, continuous tuning. I also used mine on QRP 10m SSB as well with a homebrew transverter. I have no idea what became of this transverter, but I worked all over the world with 1W SSB and a wire dipole. It used a Plessey SL6440 IC I seem to recall.

I expect they units are still available second hand. They were replaced by the IC-202S and there was a similar radio for 70cm. Once I worked was down in France from a coastal site in Devon using just the IC-202 with its whip antenna.

A quick check on eBay showed one example at just over £200. There are lower cost examples listed as "not working" or "for spares".  Looking on eBay there was also an IC-212 FM version. I don't remember this and wonder if it was ever on sale here in the UK?

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/vhfuhfmicrowaves/vhfuhf-commercial-rigs/icom-ic-202 .

10m FT8 Grabber

A reminder that you can see what I am seeing on 10m FT8 by looking at the grabber on my website at https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/10m-ft8-grabber .

Grandchildren - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows our 2 granddaughters earlier studying an album together.

BBQ time - NOT amateur radio

For a change this May, yesterday was gloriously sunny. Most of the month has been dull and wet. We had our 2 sons and all 4 grandchildren for a barbecue.

10m FT8 RX (Monday) with the 10FT8R and the indoor loop

I have been on 10m FT8 RX for about 1 hour with the homemade 10FT8R RX with 4 transistors. It is now 1000z and so far today 25 stations have been spotted.

UPDATE 1037z:  35 stations spotted today so far. Not a bad start today on 10m Es with this 50cm indoor antenna and a DSB RX.

UPDATE 1324z:   49 stations spotted.

UPDATE 1520z:
  68 stations spotted today with the 10FT8R direct conversion RX and tiny indoor loop. See illustration. OK, it is a rats nest!

UPDATE 1831z:
115 stations spotted on RX as the map shows.

Sunspots - Monday May 31st 2021

 Solar flux is 74 and the SSN 27. A=6 and K=1.

30 May 2021

Local museum - NOT amateur radio

The local museum across the road from us has old fashioned dial telephones. The photo shows 3 of our grandchildren trying to ring each other: they are not used to phones which have to be rotated to dial a number!

Crocheting - NOT amateur radio

One of our grandchildren is very talented. Here he is crocheting. Whatever he does he is good at it - painting, sports etc.. 

4m website?

Certainly until last year there was a website dedicated to the 4m (70MHz) amateur band. A casual Google search failed to find it. It may have gone? 

It is many years since I operated on the band, but I can imagine it is an interesting allocation, especially in the Es season with so many countries now active and more rigs with 4m coverage. A few watts of SSB (or even FM) to a wire dipole should be enough to work many of the European countries now active on the band in Es openings.

UPDATE 0853z:  See Colin's comment. It is still there. www.70mhz.org   .

On 10m FT8 RX (Sunday) with the FT817ND and tiny indoor loop

It is now 0807z.  For a short while, I have been on 10m FT8 RX. So far, 15 Spanish stations spotted and 1 Italian spotted.

UPDATE 0819z:  Now 25 stations spotted.

UPDATE 1031z:  101 stations spotted.

Sunspots - Sunday May 30th 2021

 Solar flux is 76 and the SSN 26. A=6 and K=2.

29 May 2021

Haircut day - NOT amateur radio

In an earlier post, I showed one of our grandsons "helping" me many years ago. He is now 13 and today he got his very long hair cut. 

I think he looks much better and more good looking. He quite likes it too.


 As I have mentioned in the past, some take 10GHz operation very seriously, with big dishes, high power and receivers with really low noise figures. Well equipped stations can operate moonbounce on 10GHz.

Others "play" at 10GHz, for example with low cost HB100 Doppler radar modules. With these low cost modules really no microwave engineering is needed. Some have covered 5km with WBFM with just these modules. Placed at the focus of a dish, over 100km has been covered on ATV with these modules. 

The modules contain 4 PCB antennas. 2 are for RX and 2 for RX.

They can even by bought on Amazon. They are even lower cost on eBay. Their main application is Doppler radar, but they have been repurposed. 

I think there are similar units for 24GHz. These 24GHz units are on sale on Amazon, but I have not looked for WBFM designs using these. Just imagine, a very low cost microwave station!

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/vhfuhfmicrowaves/homebrew/10ghz .

Dead bodies - NOT amateur radio

When I was a teenager at university in my first year of Electronics my white lab coat was pristine. 

I got one of the medical students to take me into the medics dissection room full of dead bodies : they each had one to dissect. This would have been 1967.  Years later I saw my dad's dead body. That was 1987.

All these had one thing in common. What made them "them" was no longer there.

Views on life after death vary widely. Some people believe something of "us" survives whereas others think we just cease to be. Nobody is really sure. 


This photo was taken in 2012 and shows one of our grandchildren "helping" me in the lab. 

He is now 13.

Muntjac deer - NOT amateur radio

These are small, introduced, deer. They get in gardens and eat plants. Imagine my wife's face when she saw this one at the door the other day!

365project - NOT amateur radio

As some of you may know, I have taken part in 365project since 2013. This has no connection at all with Microsoft's 365. 365project is absolutely free unless you want more albums and privacy. 

I love it and it is great to look back over the years.  Some use it to show off their talent. Mine are definitely not in this category! I use it as more a visual diary.

The following shots of mine have been popular: https://alexisbirkill.com/365project/popularpage/getuserdetails.php?username=g3xbm

10m FT8 RX (Saturday)

Since before breakfast, I have been on 10m FT8 RX with the homemade 10FT8R RX and 50cm indoor loop. No spots yet at 0754z.

UPDATE 0835z: No spots.

UPDATE 1645z: No spots.

At first, I just thought this was a bad day. Then I looked at G0LRD's spots. He has a better antenna, but he had 333 spots, whereas I have none at all!! I have closed the program and restarted it and re-synchronised the time. If it is not this, I am puzzled. I did a Windows update yesterday. Just going to retune the loop in case someone knocked it off tune.

UPDATE 1650z:  Just swapped to the FT817ND RX.

Sunspots - Saturday May 29th 2021

Solar flux is  77 and the SSN 28.  A=3 and K=1.

Shack yesterday

The photo shows the shack yesterday. 

I was monitoring 10m FT8 with the homemade 10FT8R RX on the left connected to the indoor loop which is about 50cm across and sits on the windowsill.

28 May 2021

8m beacons

As I have mentioned before, I expect we will see this band (or small part of it) allocated to the amateur service eventually. For several years, I expect certain amateurs in certain countries to apply for limited access, possibly with spot frequencies and low power for limited time e.g. just for the Es season. 

My prediction is that 10 years from now the 8m band will be widely available.

An interesting recent posting on a Facebook page mentioned this is an ISM allocation. The question is there a legal way to get on the band very soon?

There is a new beacon in the west of Eire EI1CAH on 40.016MHz. This is the second Irish beacon. There is also a beacon in Slovenia S55ZMS (40.670MHz) and the South African 8m beacon ZS6WAB (40.675MHz) has been copied in Europe more than once.

A dipole for 40MHz is easy to make.

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

Kings - NOT amateur radio

This photo was on this blog some years ago. It shows the famous King's College Chapel in the sun with people punting on the Cam in the foreground. 

Hopefully it will be like this again next year. Cambridge misses its overseas visitors, but is as beautiful as ever.

Oscar 100 - quiet

 A few moments ago I did my usual peek at the activity on the narrowband transponder of this geosynchronous satellite. It was Friday lunchtime in Europe. 

Activity? Very quiet. In fact there was just one QSO when I looked! It appears this sort of amateur radio does not appeal. After 2 years there seems to be even less activity!

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/ .

Outdoor fun - NOT amateur radio

This photo is of the park in Cambridge just behind Drummer Street bus station. It is good to see the table tennis tables out and the cafe spilling onto the grass. Even with restrictions (until quite recently) banning inside meetings in England, people still find ways to have fun.

Yesterday, I had my first indoor coffee in Cambridge for a very long time. Slowly, things are becoming more normal again.

10m FT8 RX with the tiny loop and simple 10FT8R RX

It is now 0825z. I have been on 10m FT8 RX since before breakfast. So far, 21 stations spotted. Mostly Es from across Europe. 

UPDATE 1735z: 
183 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX so far today.  See map.

Slug - NOT amateur radio

This slug (I don't think it was a snail without a shell) was seen at Anglesey Abbey on Thursday . No doubt it was on the path as we had a very wet May in the UK. It has felt more like March than May.

Sunspots - Friday May 28th 2021

 Solar flux is 83 and the SSN 34. A=16 and K=1. 

27 May 2021


Hamsphere is a form of "virtual" amateur radio that uses the internet rather than the ionosphere as the bearer. Unlike "real" radio, it does not need HF rigs or antennas. It is ideal perhaps for those unable to use "real" radio, for example those in flats or care homes. It does not appeal to me.

See http://hamsphere.com/ .


 Please let me know about any issues with the www.g3xbm.co.uk website. Hopefully all schematics are readable. If not, shout. 

Also, if you spot pages with wrong or absent images, let me know so I can put this right. 

Most pages should be OK, but I am only human and am bound to have something wrong. My aim is to correct any errors or omissions as soon as possible. This is only possible if people point these out!  😄

Nearly normal - NOT amateur radio

We went shopping in Cambridge this morning and I had a coffee in Pret a Manger. Things are getting back to normal slowly. 

10m FT8 RX with the 10FT8R and the tiny indoor loop antenna

In a few moments I hope to go on 10m FT8 RX with the tiny indoor loop antenna. 

UPDATE 1306z:   10m FT8 gear turned on 1256z.

Sunspots - Thursday May 27th 2021

Solar flux is 88 and the SSN 34. A=13 and K=4.

26 May 2021

Quiet Life - NOT amateur radio

This snail, minding its own business on a leaf at Anglesey Abbey, was photographed this morning.

We have had a very dull and wet May, so we saw quite a few toadstools. These are more common in the autumn. 

10m FT8 RX with the 10FT8R RX and the tiny indoor loop antenna

 For the last few hours I have been on 10m FT8 with the tiny indoor loop antenna and the 10FT8R RX. It is now 1143z and so far today just 4 stations have been spotted on RX. 

UPDATE 1251z:  7 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX so far.

UPDATE 2105z:   37 stations only spotted today with the tiny loop. QRT shortly.

Angry sky - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows the windmill next door to us with an angry sky behind. 

This was taken last evening.

Website issues

It has been brought to my attention that when I link to my Google drive to embed clearer schematics on my G3XBM website it only works for me. I need to make where I get the files from "open". I shall try to fix this soon.

UPDATE 1315z: As I cannot see an easy way to make a certain Google drive file public, I am putting a link on each page as David shows in the comments. This will take me a while, so please be patient! 

Sunspots - Wednesday May 26th 2021

Solar flux is 84 and the SSN 36.  A=3 and K=1. 

25 May 2021

HackRF One SDR transceiver

Elector has a special offer on these SDR transceivers that go from 1MHz to 6GHz!! I do not know what power they put out but I guess mW only. They sell for 249 Euros with a free book.

See https://www.elektor.com/hackrf-one-sdr-transceiver .

Dayton Hamvention (Virtual)

For the second year, because of Covid-19, this was a virtual event. They are already selling tickets for the 2022 event, which they hope is not virtual!

Usually this is a showcase event where new products are shown for the first time. Often these are rushed, pre-production products. We may have to wait a long time before production starts and bugs are ironed out. I have not heard of great new products being announced, although I may have missed this. 

This, outside Japan, is where we first heard of the IC-7300 and IC-705 from ICOM. I was wondering if Yaesu was going to announce a real successor to the FT817 (I don't count the FT818)_......zzzzz wake up Yaesu!!

10m FT8 (Tuesday) - late start!

At 1457z, I turned on the 10FT8R 4 transistor RX with the tiny indoor loop antenna. After under 10 minutes, 20 stations already spotted!

UPDATE 1711z:  191 stations spotted so far today on 10m FT8 RX with the 10FT8R RX and the indoor tiny loop (see map).

UPDATE 1840z:  235 spots so far today on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 2110z: 240 stations spotted on RX today.  QRT soon.

10 years old already! - NOT amateur radio

It is hard to believe that one of our grandchildren is 10 years old today. 

The photo shows her 9 years ago. 

Yesterday on 10m FT8

I was again on 10m FT8 yesterday with the tiny indoor loop and my 10FT8R RX.  In all, 314 stations spotted.

Garden centre - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday afternoon, my wife went to the local garden centre to buy some plants as shown in the photo.

Sunspots - Tuesday May 25th 2021

 Solar flux is 73 and the SSN 29. A=4 and K=1.

10FT8R schematic and Firefox

When browsing my 10FT8R webpage, I have embedded the schematic from Google Drive. It is a much clearer PDF document that opens without issues in Chrome. However, it has been brought to my attention by Steve G1KQH that this does not work in Firefox. I tried it myself getting this message:

"Blocked by X-Frame-Options Policy

This page has an X-Frame-Options policy that prevents it from being loaded in this context.

The browser prevented this page from loading in this context because the page has an X-Frame-Options policy that disallows it."

I do not know how to avoid this. If anyone needs the clearer schematic  please let me know so I may send you one. 

This is a pity as Firefox is a popular browser. I have put the old schematic on as well.

If anyone knows how to overcome this issue in Firefox, please let us know. There may be a way to tell Firefox of exceptions?

UPDATE 0916z: Apparently there is a Firefox extension that may solve the problem. I have not tried it. See https://addons.mozilla.org/en-GB/firefox/addon/ignore-x-frame-options-header/ .

24 May 2021

Chelsea Flower Show - NOT amateur radio


Two years ago we were bought tickets for the Chelsea Flower Show. 

The photo shows one of the exhibits.

10FT8R - improved schematic

A few people have wanted a clearer schematic. I have now uploaded it to my website. It was produced by Jay W5OLF. 

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/homebrew/10ft8r-rx .

10m FT8 with the 10FT8R and the tiny indoor loop

Since before breakfast I have been on 10m FT8 RX with the 10FT8R and the tiny indoor loop. 26 spots on RX so far (at 0803z). The loop is thin wire just 50cm across, indoors on the shack windowsill. The 10FT8R is a simple direct conversion receiver shown again below. 

As mentioned yesterday, I got the 14.040MHz crystal from 3rd Planet Solar in the USA. It was very inexpensive. The whole RX is incredibly inexpensive as you can see!  

My thanks again to Jay W5OLF for doing the schematic - much better than my hand-drawn effort!

UPDATE 0855z: At 0815z, I changed the thin wire on my tiny loop to 6mm diameter copper central heating pipe. It tunes more sharply so is probably a bit more efficient. At the moment, 52 stations spotted today on RX.

UPDATE 1018z:  Currently, 86 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX (see map).

UPDATE 1237z:  113 stations spotted on RX so far today.

Sunspots - Monday May 24th 2021

 Solar flux is 79 and the SSN 30. A=4 and K=1.

23 May 2021

Museum - NOT amateur radio

Our local museum opened again last Thursday. Today was the first day open on a Sunday. They had the local folk club there.

Slowly things are getting back to normal. 

Granddaughter 10 - NOT amateur radio

It is hard to believe she is 10 on Tuesday. This collage shows her over the years. 

10FT8R proper schematic

With many thanks to Jay W5OLF here is a proper schematic of this little 10m FT8 RX. At one time I had a copy of SPlan so could create schematics properly although I have no idea where it is now! 

I bought the crystal at low cost from 3rd Planet Solar in the USA. They have good stocks and currently are $1.50 each.  I pulled the crystal down to 14.037MHz. If you can find a low cost source of 14.037MHz crystals, the inductor in series with the crystal probably won't be needed.  I needed enough series inductance with the crystal to pull down 3kHz. Moulded chokes are probably fine in this application. I used a toroid inductor just because it was at hand.

Jay is working on a PCB and improvements.

10m FT8 RX with the tiny indoor loop antenna and the 10FT8R RX

As of about 0817z I turned on my 10m FT8 RX. As yet, just a spot of a Polish station. It is now 0836z.

UPDATE 1116z:  96 stations spotted on RX so far today. 

UPDATE 1506z: 237 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today with the 10FT8R RX. Most look like Es. See map.

UPDATE 1848z: 343 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX with the 10FT8R RX and the tiny indoor loop.

UPDATE 2150z: 403 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today. Now QRT. 

Sunspots - Sunday May 23rd 2021

 Solar flux is 76 and the SSN 19. A=5 and K=2.

22 May 2021

8m band

On earlier posts you may have noticed mention of this band. It is available in very few countries at the moment. Being between 10m and 6m, it could be a very useful allocation. Es and MS could be quite effective. As John has shown, it could also be useful for aircraft scatter.

There are now 2 beacons on the band in Eire. These should certainly be received in the UK and mainland Europe by Es and MS. A few other countries have special access.

See https://ei7gl.blogspot.com/ .


This ICOM radio covers 2m, 70cm and 23cm. It is an all-mode SDR transceiver. I do not own one, but know some who do. It has a lovely colour LCD which is touch screen as well as having good ergonomics. 

On 23cm it has a useful 10W pep. With a reasonable yagi some quite good DX should be possible as long as the coax run is short and the cable low loss. When runs are long or the coax is not too good, people put PAs and preamps up near the antennas.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/vhfuhfmicrowaves/vhfuhf-commercial-rigs/ic-9700 .

Crystal set DXing

Many years ago I tried this. Most reception was of HF broadcast stations, but, surprisingly, some amateur stations too. I am sure, with some serious designs, plenty could be copied from VLF to VHF with a crystal set. 

As signals have to be very strong, low level interference is unlikely to be a limitation. It was all fun and a different sort of challenge.

Remember, all the power comes from the broadcaster, unless you find a way of harvesting power from other broadcasters. Certainly, nothing comes from the receiving end!

These days there are far fewer English language broadcast stations on HF.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/crystal-set-dxing .

Garden Centre - NOT amateur radio

Like many places, the garden centre in the next village had to adapt to be Covid-19 safe. 

We went recently for some bedding plants. 

As you can see, it was not crowded.

Google sites webspace limits?

Last week I redirected my www.g3xbm.co.uk domain to my new Google Sites web pages. Maybe I am being dense, but I could not find out what limits apply to webspace. If it is there, it was not obvious to me. If you know, please let me know.

Hypocrisy - NOT amateur radio

From the outset may I say that we all are less than perfect and we all have things about ourselves we are not proud of and that we would rather not tell people about. We are human.

What really annoys me though are people who publicly pretend to be honest and upright folk, who clearly are not.

In the UK we have had the BBC and the BBC person who lied and covered up the devious means to get an interview with Princess Diana in 1995. 

We also had the case of the sub-postmasters accused of fraud when the fault was with the software. Some even went to prison or lost homes - basically lives ruined. All the while those in charge were in denial. One is even an ordained minister!! Gross hypocrisy!

In my view those involved in both these scandals should face custodial sentences and be made to pay for their gross misdemeanours. This includes those who did the deeds and those who covered them up knowingly.

Both the BBC and the UK Post Office must uphold the law at all times and be above reproach. We deserve nothing less.

10m FT8 RX with the 10FT8R and the tiny indoor loop

At about 0900z I turned on the 10m FT8 RX. No spots yet. The 10FT8R is a 4 transistor direct conversion RX for 10m FT8.

UPDATE 1220z:  So far today, 23 stations spotted on RX, mostly in Spain with 1 in Slovakia and 1 in the UK. 

UPDATE 1435z:  36 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX. Best DX is EA9ABC (1873km) in Ceuta, N, Africa.

UPDATE 1945z:  QRT. In total today 4 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX with the 10FT8R and the tiny indoor loop.

That hair didn't last long! - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows me when I was very young. Much of my hair had gone by my early 20s.

Sunspots - Saturday May 22nd 2021

 Solar flux is 74 and the SSN 13. A=7 and K=1.

21 May 2021

Dayton, Ohio, USA Hamvention

The Dayton Hamvention is usually one of the biggest amateur events on the planet. People usually travel there from all over the world. This year, like last, it is a virtual event sadly. These days will end.

Often, the big manufacturers announce new products here. It is an important date in the diary. If you want to attend virtually, there is a link below.

See https://hamvention.org .

They are already selling tickets for 2022, which hopefully will not be virtual.

Royalty, the BBC and their "religious" correspondent - NOT amateur radio

In the last few days the BBC has come under a lot of criticism for the underhand methods used to get the 1995 interview with Princess Diana. My understanding is they forged bank statements to show that people in whom she trusted were spying on her. I may have my facts slightly wrong, so please check the sources yourselves. What is not at doubt is that Diana was deceived to get the interview and some at the BBC apparently knew about this.

In my view the UK royalty will be history within 50 years unless great changes are made. I think the UK queen has done a pretty good job in difficult circumstances. The whole royal family could have done an even better job if it "came of age".

Many royal couples have divorced and some of the royal traditions are plain wrong. I am not a great royalist, but fear the person we could choose as a president if we ever became a republic.  Can you think of anyone?

My vote is for a continued royal family, but with great changes. Hangers on would have to earn a living, and many of the privileges would go. Many look up to the royal family as pillars of society. It is a delicate balance between "otherness" and us. 


This is one area of our hobby I have not done much with. 

I once borrowed a 23cm RX converter and did some tests one night with a homemade 4 el yagi in the room. I also, many years ago, made a 10GHz Gunn oscillator. I had the wrong sort of waveguide and, apart from some very short range tests, did not take it further. These days you can buy some very low cost wideband FM modules that all but eliminate the hard microwave bits. See https://www.amazon.co.uk/Aihasd-Wireless-Microwave-microwave-detector/dp/B00VVDFOHO/ref=sr_1_8?crid=3AXH2GP3143S0&dchild=1&keywords=hb100&qid=1621586561&sprefix=hb100%2Caps%2C180&sr=8-8

One of the things that put me off was the test gear.  I know some have fabricated homebrew measuring gear, but I found optical gear much easier to design, build and test.

The above link allows you to buy the HB100 units from Amazon within days for under £5 each. I am sure you will be able to get them cheaper.

Maybe I should have a go at 10GHz wideband FM?

UPDATE 0852z: A very quick look on eBay found these HB100 units on sale for £1.72 each with quite modest postal charges. See https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/143788841984?hash=item217a7b9c00:g:VPEAAOSwY31a1FE~. If you buy more than 1 they are even cheaper!

UPDATE 1214z:   I have created a 10GHz webpage. See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/vhfuhfmicrowaves/homebrew/10ghz .


Museum - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday our local museum and windmill opened for the first time this year. We were on duty in the kiosk where we take entry money and sell some gifts as shown in the photo. 

We live next door to the windmill and museum.

10FT8R active

At 0800z, I again turned on my 10m FT8 RX using the homebrewed 10FT8R RX and the tiny indoor loop. No spots yet. 

UPDATE 0826z:  So far 1 spot on RX probably by Es - OE3FVU (1189km).

UPDATE 1334z:  25 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX with the 10FT8R RX and the tiny indoor loop.

UPDATE 1424z:  Still 25 stations spotted.  It would appear this Es opening has stopped although I noticed a Swedish station a few minutes ago.

UPDATE 1950z: 27 stations spotted today on RX. Now QRT.

Sunspots - Friday May 21st 2021

Solar flux is 72 and the SSN 13. A=24 and K=2.

20 May 2021

QSY to 160m FT8 QRP

At 1919z I QSYed to 160m FT8 QRP with 2.5W and the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. Already there are Germans coming through strongly after just a few minutes. I guess it is now dark over much of the path.

UPDATE 1948z: One spot of my QRP TX by G4UDU (160km) and 9 spots so far on 160m FT8 RX.

10m Lesser Chirpy CW transceiver

It is hard to think I did this 9 years ago! It has been copied across the Atlantic, although as a "compromise" rig I would not use it on the air that much. My main concern is you may miss stations on the channel as the RX is not as good as many. It is all too easy to call on top of a weak QSO.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/homebrew/10m-lesser-chirpy .

Compost - NOT amateur radio

As we ran out of compost earlier, we went shopping and bought more as well as other stuff.  

It was not busy.

Frangipani - NOT amateur radio


This was seen on our walk at Anglesey Abbey yesterday.

New website feedback

A reminder that the new website pages "went live" a few days ago. It would be good to hear of any omissions, errors or improvements needed. It is early days still, so any things I can do I shall.

See www.g3xbm.co.uk .

10m FT8 RX (Thursday) with the 10FT8R and the tiny indoor loop

At 0745z, I turned this kit on. Already, 10 stations spotted by Es. 

UPDATE 0847z:  48 stations spotted so far today.

UPDATE 1113z:  141 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today so far. 

UPDATE 1651z:  251 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today so far. Not bad for such a simple RX and tiny antenna! The furthermost is KP4UA (6841km). The map shows the stations spotted so far today.

UPDATE 1904z:  For some time now, I have been stuck on 252 RX spots on 10m FT8 today suggesting that is it for the day. I shall probably go QRT shortly on 10m.

Swifts screaming - NOT amateur radio

When gardening a few days ago I heard swifts overhead screaming. This a very English sound of spring and summer. They feed on the wing and are often heard before being seen.

Sunspots - Thursday May 20th 2021

Solar flux is 76 and the SSN 24.  A=6 and K=3.

19 May 2021

60m amateur allocations in the UK

OFCOM has just put the latest amateur licence conditions on its website including an EMF calculator. Running 10W or less, I am not too concerned.

What does concern me are the UK slots at 60m. I am sure I cannot be alone in being totally confused. Yes, we may have more spectrum and higher power (100W) than the small WRC slot, but unless you are a regular user, these slots are messy and confusing. I counted 10 slots!!

Personally, I'd settle for a narrow contiguous allocation than the mess we currently have, and with lower power. I would also like to see more access to much more spectrum with very low ERP limits on a strictly non-interference basis. I guess that is too much to think about. Why can't we follow the Irish example?

See the OFCOM website for more details.

See https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/214116/emf-amateur-licence-terms-and-conditions.pdf

160m FT8

Just after 1800z, I QSYed to 160m FT8. Very briefly I was on QRP with 2.5W TX and the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. At the moment I am on RX only. As it is still daylight, I am not expecting any great DX until after dark.

UPDATE 2005z: European DX coming through now now it is dark.

Fresh Green - NOT amateur radio

It is good to see the fresh green leaves on the trees. This was nearby Anglesey Abbey earlier today.

OFCOM and mobile phone repeaters

OFCOM is to allow more type approved mobile phone repeaters to be licence-free to get more reliable coverage indoors. See the OFCOM website for details.

Clematis - NOT amateur radio


My wife saw this clematis yesterday walking back from the dentist.

Intelligent life in the universe - NOT amateur radio

This is a subject I have discussed before. Some estimates put the number of planets in the visible universe as capable of having intelligent life as as high as 1400000000000000. Others say intelligent life is incredibly rare.

As far as I know, we have been looking with SETI since the mid 1960s and have, so far, found zero evidence.  Maybe we are looking in the wrong way? As time goes by, we have more sophisticated ways of looking with ever greater sensitivity. Mind you we only discovered electro-magnetic radiation a few hundred years ago. Maybe many societies have discovered something better?

One thing is certain: should we find any signs of intelligent life "out there", it could have profound effects on human life.

10m FT8 RX with the 10FT8R

Just before breakfast I turned on the 10FT8R RX (4 transistors) with the tiny indoor loop antenna. It is now 0818z and 29 stations already spotted via Es.

UPDATE 0835z:  34 stations spotted so far.

UPDATE 0915z: 50 stations so far spotted today.

UPDATE 1131z: 101 stations spotted so far on 10m FT8 RX with the little 10FT8R receiver and the tiny indoor loop.

UPDATE 1426z: 164 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX so far today.

UPDATE 1740z: 222 stations so far spotted on 10m FT8 RX with the furthermost W1JR (5267km) in New Hampshire, USA, I think this was Es (see map). No South Americans logged today on the tiny indoor loop.

Sunspots - Wednesday May 19th 2021

Solar flux is 76 and the SSN 24 again. A=10 and K=1. 

18 May 2021


As a precaution, I have disconnected my mains PSU and PC in my shack. My antenna that is connected to my little 10m FT8 RX is indoors (the tiny loop). There is thunder about. I think it is some way off, but better safe than sorry.

We have hail now at 1607z.

See https://www.lightningmaps.org/#m=oss;t=3;s=0;o=0;b=;ts=0;z=4;y=35.8839;x=5.7931;d=2;dl=2;dc=0;

Seen on a recent amateur radio post

 This appeared recently just below the signature. It made me laugh! 😊

"Cheer up, things could get worse..so I cheered up and, sure enough, things got worse!"


OFCOM has announced some changes to licence conditions. I think these are about EMF. They are sending revised licences to those affected. See the OFCOM website for more details.

10FT8R - continued experiments

This morning, I am again on 10m FT8 RX with the tiny indoor loop. Late yesterday, I removed the last AF stage, but spotted no stations. There were lots of spikes and I am not sure what they were. Later, I shall stick the last audio stage back again to see if this was important.

UPDATE 1010z: Something is wrong. On the 10FT8R RX no spots, yet when I went back to the FT817ND spots right away. Some spots were strong. I must be doing something stupid. More investigation needed.

UPDATE 1206z:  9 spots so far.

UPDATE 1411z: I have put back the final audio stage on the 10FT8R RX and the spikes have gone (no idea why) and I am spotting lots of stations again with this little RX connected to my indoor loop. At the moment this is the RX being used on 10m FT8 RX. So far, since reconnecting it, 20 stations spotted.

South Devon - NOT amateur radio

This is a another photo of where I come from in South Devon. In the distance are Dartmoor and Cornwall. 

Sunspots - Tuesday May 18th 2021

 Solar flux is 75 and the SSN 11. A=6 and K=3.

17 May 2021

10FT8R RX - even simpler?

At present, I am experimenting to see if I can omit the last audio stage. There seems to be plenty of spare audio. Being a DSB design, it is inherently 3dB down in sensitivity, but that has not been an issue hitherto.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/homebrew/10ft8r-rx.

Oscar 100

Every few weeks I try to give an update on activity levels on the narrowband transponder on Oscar 100 using the on-line SDR at Goonhilly Down. I looked twice last evening at times that would have been European Sunday evenings. 

My impression was that activity levels were quite low with plenty of space.

See  https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/ .

10m FT8 grabber

One of the things now possible on my new web pages is embedding. This has allowed me to add a grabber, so you can see what I am doing on PSKreporter maps. I think you can change the menus. Certainly I can. At the time of writing, I am looking at the last few hours on 10m FT8 RX.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/10m-ft8-grabber .

Breakfast? - NOT amateur radio

This has appeared on social media several times. 

As much as I like the occasional fry-up, even I would struggle! 

Some would be very much against this.

Ivermectin - NOT amateur radio

Ivermectin seems to have anti-viral properties against Covid-19 in helping to prevent serious illness. 

Some governments (Goa in India and Ireland) are recommending this very low cost drug as a prophylactic. I regularly watch the YouTube channel of Dr John Campbell and he is puzzled why this is not being widely recommended. He always gives the source of his data. I recommend you check this out. 

Always seek the medical advice of your own doctor!

10m FT8 RX

For the last hour or so I have been on 10m FT8 RX with the tiny indoor loop. It is now 1210z and so far 92 stations have been spotted.

UPDATE 1327z:  120 stations spotted today so far on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1358z:  132 stations spotted today.

New website live

www.g3xbm.co.uk is now pointing to the new site. If there are any issues or you notice wrong pictures or errors, please let me know ASAP. For a while things may be wrong. Overall, things should be at least as good as the old site finally.

Cygnets - NOT amateur radio

This is the time of year when swans nest and have cygnets. They are at the mercy of foxes and similar predators. I doubt they will all survive. They look sweet but nature is cruel. 

Sunspots - Monday May 17th 2021

 Solar flux is 73 and the SSN 11.  A=5 and K=1.

16 May 2021

10m FT8 RX

For about 30 minutes I have been on 10m FT8 RX with the tiny indoor loop (see photo). So far today I have spotted 84 stations including a number in South America and the Caribbean. 

You can see what I am spotting on PSKreporter.

As I mentioned earlier, I reckon this loop (the old Whizz Loop) is probably 10dB down on an external dipole. I hope to get a 10m dipole up this week, possibly with a 6m dipole too.

UPDATE 1914z:  185 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX.

77.5 GHz EME

This video was made in May 2013, but I have only just seen it. This is definitely pushing the boundaries. Makes my efforts seem distinctly average, HI.

Covid-19 humour - NOT amateur radio


Seen on social media earlier. 

Vegetables - NOT amateur radio

This year, I am trying my hand at growing tomatoes and runner beans. This is an experiment as I am definitely not an expert! 

It is probably cheaper to buy them at the nearest supermarket! The photo shows the runner beans just planted.  I have a few left over, so these needed putting in a suitable place.