9 May 2021

Swan on nest - NOT amateur radio

"Well we have nested here for years and we are NOT moving just because there is a building site 3m behind us!". 

Swans seen on our walk earlier.

10m FT8 RX with the IC-705 and the tiny indoor loop

At 0900z, I went on 10m FT8 RX with the IC-705 and the tiny indoor loop. Even with ferrite chokes on the USB lead I was still getting RF feedback from the loop to the rig on 10m, so I am RX only on that band until I get the outside antenna up. 2 French stations spotted after 10 minutes.

UPDATE 1104z: 14 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today so far. All Es. 

Crabapple - NOT amateur radio

We have just got one crabapple tree in our garden. Last year was poor whereas the year before we picked over 500 and made crabapple jelly. This year looks promising. 

2m FT8 QRP

Just before 0700z I turned on my 2m FT8 gear with 5W from the IC-705 and the big-wheel omni antenna. No QSOs yet, but spots by 5 G stations so far. It is now 0710z. 

UPDATE 0832z: One QSO with G4IVV (18km) who offered plenty of help when I had problems with the IC-705 yesterday (many thanks - true ham spirit) and I have been spotted by 9 Gs so far. At the moment I am RX only. Probably going on 10m FT8 RX shortly with the tiny indoor loop. Once again the grabber at G0LRD has been useful. See http://82.71.9.63:8080/cap/ . David also offered me some suggestions - thank you too.

Salcombe, Devon - NOT amateur radio

This photo dates from the late 1950s or early 1960s. Salcombe was where I was brought up as a child. 

Sunspots - Sunday May 9th 2021

 Solar flux is 76 and the SSN 17. A=3 and K=1.

8 May 2021

2m UKAC activity contest last Tuesday

Not that I have a cats chance of getting a decent score, but I forgot to submit my score for the May 2m activity contest. I needed the same connector and I wanted to carry on with 10m FT8 using the 10FT8R RX. So I only stayed on 2m for 30 minutes. 3 QSOs were obtained as the map shows with 10W and the big-wheel omni antenna. 

10m FT8 RX with the IC-705

Since about 0820z, I have been on 10m FT8 RX with the tiny indoor loop antenna and the IC-705. No spots yet. 

UPDATE 1037z:  No spots.

FT8 TX and the IC-705

 My new USB leads have come and I still can't TX FT8 with the IC-705. This is most probably finger trouble. It is just possible it is a rig issue. When less tired I shall investigate. CAT control seems fine and RX. 

UPDATE 1604z:  I am still struggling! I have had two offers of help, but so far no luck. One person has offered help over Zoom, and I may have to avail myself of his help if all else fails. I have reloaded the drivers, swapped leads to make sure they are carrying data, rechecked settings in the IC-705 and WSJT-X. At the moment, I just cannot understand why it does not work. RX works fine.  Darn my muddled brain! Years ago this would have been so easy to fix, or at least understand why it is not working.

UPDATE 2045z: Solved!! My problem was RF getting back into the rig. When I tried 2m on the external antenna all was well. It seems that 10m on the internal loop is not acceptable. Now I know what the problem was, I can try chokes on the USB lead. It seemed odd that despite everything I was doing seeming OK things still would not function. First 2m QSO on FT8. Now QRT.

South Hams - NOT amateur radio

Where I come from in South Devon is very beautiful as this photo from 10 years ago shows. 

Sunspots - Saturday May 8th 2021

Solar flux is 75 and the SSN 15. A=3 and K=1. 

7 May 2021

South Africa - NOT amateur radio


Some years ago we had a holiday in South Africa with Saga. It was one of the best holidays we have ever been on. 

Hotels and food were excellent and we were quite unprepared for the huge variety of scenery. In some parts it was like Scotland, others like the Med and others scrub. 

We saw "the big five" wild animals and many more. I still can't get over seeing monkeys and ostriches on the beach on the way to the Cape.

I expected to see lots of insects, but we see far more in our garden!

G3XBM website progress

All being well, I shall swap my website to the new format in the next few days. It is mostly done, although I need to find a way of attaching some files and making some schematics clearer. On the old pages, clicking a schematic usually brought up a "pin-sharp" image. There must be a way to do this, but I have still not found out how yet, HI.

At some point I shall swap over, but some pages may not be complete yet.   As time goes by I hope to iron out any omissions or errors.

Please give me feedback on the site when it "goes live". When the new site is ready I shall say so on this blog.

In the end, it should be at least as good as the old site and, I hope, better. Converting the pages appears to have been easier and faster than I expected.

You should still be able to go to www.g3xbm.co.uk  as before. It is just that the pages you see will look different.

Shopping - NOT amateur radio

This morning, we went shopping at one of the larger UK supermarkets beginning with T. It wasn't too busy. We stocked up on the wine I like, which was very inexpensive. I do not have great tastes! 

My wife drove as I was too giddy. 

Also she was unable to find a certain yeast extract at the shop beginning with W. There were huge stocks at this shop today so we bought a jar!

10m FT8 RX with the IC-705 and indoor loop

Since breakfast, I have been on 10m FT8 RX with the indoor loop and IC-705. 2 stations spotted so far by 1002z.

UPDATE 1532z: So far today, 53 stations have been spotted on RX. My new leads (USB to USBmicro) are due before 1900z. I hope this solves my FT8 TX issue. Otherwise it is finger trouble or even rig trouble.

UPDATE 1732z:  111 stations so far spotted today on 10m FT8 RX.

Sunspots - Friday May 7th 2021

 Solar flux is 71 and the SSN 0. A=4 and K=1. 

6 May 2021

On our way to vote

These flowers were seen on our way to vote this morning. 

FT8 on the IC-705

It works on RX, but not (yet!) on TX. The drivers have been correctly installed on the PC and appear in the device manager. The audio CODECs appear too. Yet it still says the TX does not work as it cannot see the TX audio CODEC. 

Perhaps the lead does not have the TX audio connection? I have a new lead (USBmicro to USB) coming and will try this tomorrow. 

It could be finger trouble!

Looking busy

Earlier today, I was sent this photo of G3TFX as he was in 1974.  

I speak to him on 2m FM most weeks.

He is using a Marconi 995 signal generator. These were common in the early 1970s. They drifted a lot and we had to wait hours for these to settle down!

Voting - NOT amateur radio

In the UK, we have been voting in some elections. These are not for seats in the House of Parliament. We voted this morning. The polling station was set up to ensure Covid-19 security.

10m FT8 RX with the 10FT8R and tiny loop

At 0930z, I turned on the homebrew 10FT8R receiver and the tiny indoor loop. Just M0NKR (27km) spotted so far.

UPDATE 1208z: 7 stations spotted so far today.

Sunspots - Thursday May 6th 2021

 Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 0. A=2 and K=1.

5 May 2021

Yellowhammer - NOT amateur radio

This migrant bird was seen on our walk earlier. 

No swallows, swifts or house martins seen. 

Unsuccessful field test on 137kHz TX CW


As it was a nice sunny morning we decided on a walk about about 1.5km from home. I put my 137kHz CW beacon on at home into the earth-electrode antenna and took my E-field probe and FT817ND with me. I put the EFP on the car roof. I listened without success for my signal. Not a squeek. I was expecting this to work.

This was my first field test on LF since 2013. 

10m FT8 RX again

Once again, I am monitoring 10m FT8 RX with the 10FT8R and the tiny indoor loop antenna. No spots yet at 0759z.

UPDATE 1119z: Just one LA spotted so far today. An EA7 did not get uploaded to PSKreporter for some reason.

UPDATE 1230z:  Just 3 spots so far today. 

Stagecoach - NOT amateur radio

Not too long ago a stagecoach ran from Kingsbridge to Dartmouth in Devon as the photo shows. 

2m activity contest last night

I didn't realise that I needed the same connector for my big-wheel and the 10FT8R RX, so I only stayed on 2m for about 30 minutes last evening. 3 stations worked with the best DX being G4CLA (105km) with 10W and the big-wheel omni antenna. 

10m FT8 RX with the 10FT8R yesterday

147 stations in all with the tiny indoor loop antenna yesterday with the best DX Sao Paulo in Brazil. 

Sunspots - Wednesday May 5th 2021

 Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 0. A=4 and K=1.

4 May 2021

Where are they? - NOT amateur radio

In the springtime swallows, house martins and swifts return from Africa. 

I saw one swallow in early April and none since.  I have not seen a single house martin or swift. 

At one time these were common, but not any more. This may in part be the wind direction, but I suspect global warming: their food supplies on their long journey north may have reduced as deserts grow.

To me, seeing screaming swifts overhead is an English spring and summer. Perhaps for not much longer?

Fresh green - NOT amateur radio

I like the fresh green of spring. 

The photo shows the 2 horse chestnut trees planted in our churchyard in memory of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

FT8 on the IC-705

I have the USB drivers and audio CODECs set up now on the rig, but have not got FT8 working yet. 

Years ago this would have been a trivial task, but with my "brain fog" this is like doing it blindfold: tasks that would have been easy in 2012 are now really hard, taxing and exhausting.  I also thought a USB-C was the same as a micro-USB!! It isn't! Luckily I had one around. 

I think for FT8 on the IC-705 I shall need a lead with isolation as the PC introduces noise I think.

More on the 10FT8R RX

This afternoon, using the very slightly revised circuit (thanks for the circuit simulation Jay) I have been receiving yet more Es signals on the 10FT8R receiver with the tiny indoor loop. 22 stations just copied in southern Europe.

UPDATE 1604z:  67 stations spotted this afternoon.

UPDATE 1835z: 135 stations spotted today. 

Stations spotted today
UPDATE 2020z:
145 stations spotted today on the 10FT8R and tiny indoor loop.

Revised 10FT8R circuit - rev c


Attached is a revised circuit. Just 1 part has changed value (470n on the input to the first audio stage). For clarification, the caps feeding the PC mic input are 100n. Just for clarity I have made it clear this is my design G3XBM  R.Lapthorn following the comment below by John Desmond EI7GL.

A proper CAD schematic will follow shortly.

Homebase10 dual band

One of my Facebook memories today was this photo of my dual band 10m /6m version of my Homebase10 antenna. It was erected at my old QTH some years ago. This was taken in 2012. This antenna is on my website. Sadly I cannot make this now. 

10m FT8 RX (Tuesday)

At 0640z I turned on my 10m FT8 RX with the 10FT8R and tiny indoor loop antenna. No spots yet. 

Sunspots - Tuesday May 4th 2021

 Solar flux is 72 and the SSN 0. A=5 and K=1.

3 May 2021

New website ready soon (this week?)

As mentioned yesterday, I am working on a new Googles Sites website. All being well, it will "go live" later this week. You will still point to www.g3xbm.co.uk and it will automatically take you to the new pages when they are ready. Most pages have been done, but some remain to be done. 

The main difference is pages will be accessed via drop-down menus at the top of the home page rather than the index on the left. It allows some new features including embedding, so my 10m FT8 grabber will be there too. I may be able to use this feature for other things as well.

All being well, there will be some new pages too.

10m FT8 RX with the 10FT8R

It is now 0948z. I have been on RX for about 25 minutes using the 10m 10FT8R receiver with the tiny indoor loop antenna.  So far, just OM0ALE (1431km) spotted.

UPDATE 1014z:  Now more stations being received by Es.

UPDATE 1129z:  10 stations received today so far using the 10FT8R RX and the tiny indoor loop antenna.

UPDATE 1547z:  20 stations spotted so far today. The 10FT8R seems to work well, even with the tiny indoor loop.

UPDATE 2128z: 47 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX with the 10FT8R and the tiny indoor loop.

Albania - NOT amateur radio

When we think of Albania we often think of the dark communist days and as a sort of "dour" place devoid of fun. These days, Albania is trying to throw off these shackles. It is trying to market itself as a holiday destination.

Some years ago we went to coastal Albania on a day trip from Corfu. We had a total surprise. We went by coach down the coast to one of their very ancient sites. After lunch we went to a place with the purest, clearest, water I have ever seen.

The main town where our boat landed was filled with empty beaches, awaiting visitors. Prices were far lower than on Corfu. They accepted Euros.

Other parts may still be backward. All I can say is do not let your old views get in the way. Albania is trying to change. We were very pleasantly surprised.

Updated solar data

If you are like me you will be keen to see the latest solar data. My favourite site (solan) for solar data has been updated. Numbers have been increased yet again. Hopeful signs. I have no idea what the latest peak will look like. 

See https://www.solen.info/solar/ .

UPDATE 0834z:  At the moment this solar cycle looks very similar to the last one.

Tree roots - NOT amateur radio

Our village, Burwell,  owns an 11 acre meadow that has Roman remains and the remains of a castle built in the reign of King Stephen about 1000 years ago. 

Children paddle in the stream below these tree roots. 

Years ago, when still privately owned, a farmer kept cows in the meadow in summer.  We used to hear them early in the morning.

Sunspots - Monday May 3rd 2021

 Solar flux is 72 and the SSN 0. A=10 and K=2.

2 May 2021

Progress

As mentioned in an earlier post, I am working on a new website. Things are progressing well so the new pages could be up soon. All the old stuff should be there plus some new stuff.

For creating "all new" sites Google Sites is very user friendly. It is a pity that just migrating classic sites is appallingly bad.

Springtime - NOT amateur radio

In my view this is the very best time of year. The green of new leaves look more intense. This is especially true of the horse chestnuts in our churchyard.

Our Close - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows our close earlier today. It shows the windmill next to our house which is just visible on the left. In the foreground are buttercups.

10m FT8 receive (Sunday)

This morning I turned on my 10FT8R 10m FT8 RX with the tiny indoor loop.

UPDATE 1258z:  So far just  G3YMW (19km) spotted. I can't wait to get my "proper" antenna up.

UPDATE 2007z:  Now 93 stations spotted with furthermost PU4JLV (9202km). If you saw this antenna you would laugh.

UPDATE 2122z: 105 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 with the 10FT8R 4 transistor RX. and the tiny indoor loop. Imagine what another 6dB could do!

Main website changing

As mentioned yesterday, my website has to move to the new Google sites by September. A simple migration did not work! It insisted on being 2018.

Instead, I have decided to create an all new site, hopefully with all the old stuff retained and possibly new stuff added too. I am sticking with Google sites. As soon as the new site is ready, I shall swap over.

As the date is some way off, this gives me time. It was time for a refresh anyway!  😁

10m FT8 RX yesterday

Yesterday I was again on 10m FT8 RX with the 10FT8R and the tiny indoor loop. Some Es evident to Italy and the Balearic Isles.

Someone in the USA has suggested a small improvement to the audio stages of the 10FT8R following CAD analysis. I shall try this later.

Sunspots - Sunday May 2nd 2021

 Solar flux is 72 and the SSN 11. A=5 and K=3.

1 May 2021

External 10m dipole

A week early, the coax for the feed to my 10m dipole has arrived. 

Assuming my son can help next week, I have all I need to get this up externally. It should be several dBs better than the indoor loop I am using presently.

Converting my main G3XBM website

In September old classic Google Sites have to convert to the New Sites or they close. So, I attempted to convert my old site, but this attempt failed. This may be finger trouble and I shall try again.  Why is it that things get worse? When I tried to convert it insisted in showing me my website from 2018 - why?!!

"If it ain't broke don't fix it". 

Oh yes!! Like Picasa going and so much else. Why is it that so many things get worse over time and not better?

If all else fails I may revert to my Virgin Media webspace under www.g3xbm.co.uk .

Also, some time ago, Google tried to get all bloggers to use their new editing tool for blogs. This was fine on my PC, but it was sooooo SLOW on a phone it was unusable. They have since fixed it.

The "attempt" at site conversion was dreadful!!

UPDATE 1525z: It appears I am not alone having issues. I may just create a totally new site in New Google Sites as I have several months.

10m FT8 Grabber

 It looks like I can do this on Google New Sites with embedding. For now, I have a temporary page.

See https://sites.google.com/view/grab10a/home .

Sunspots - Saturday May 1st 2021

 Solar flux is 73 and the SSN 35. A=6 and K=1.