30 Jun 2021

Cosy - NOT amateur radio

Every year we make a poster to help us remember the year past. We put this in our kitchen so we can enjoy it every day.  Our kitchen is cosy rather than "posh".

10m (my favourite band)

My favourite band is 10m (28MHz). This is getting good again after a few poorer years. Recent licencees may not realise just how good it can be. 

Modes like FT8 may come into their own in solar cycle 25, although just a simple antenna and a few watts of SSB is all that may be needed to work the world. 

On WSPR I have been spotted in every continent (including Antarctica) with 500mW and a low wire antenna on 10m in the last solar cycle.

Don't forget that 10m Es (to about 1500km) is often good from April-September at any point in the solar cycle. 10m can also be useful for local natters.

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

10m FT8 RX

Since before breakfast, I have been on 10m FT8 RX with the tiny indoor loop. It is now 0828z and, so far today, 55 stations have been spotted. 

UPDATE 0940z:  105 stations spotted on RX so far.  As well as Es, I think there is some F2 propagation.

UPDATE 1305z: 255 stations spotted so far today on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1530z: 348 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today (see map).

UPDATE 1810z: 593 spots so far.

UPDATE 1947z:  677 stations spotted.

V2000 vertical omni issues

For several weeks I have had issues with my V2000 omni which I use on 6m, 2m and 70cm. 

G3TFX has been investigating and it looks like the main issue is the coax. The antenna had some moisture in, but this has been removed. I need fresh coax.

In the interim I was hoping to use my VX2 handheld out portable for the Cambridge club net on 145.55MHz FM (2m) this evening. However I cannot find the charger! 

Morning walk 2014 - NOT amateur radio

After my long stay in hospital following my stroke I used to do a short walk most mornings. 

This photo from 2014 shows me just back. I look far thinner and the hedge that is now big and thick, looks tiny. 

Sunspots - Wednesday June 30th 2021

Solar flux is 93 and the SSN 56.  A=5 and K=2.

29 Jun 2021

England v. Germany (football) - NOT amateur radio

England played Germany in the knockout stages of the delayed Euros at Wembley. For the first time since 1966, England managed to win. 

Although I am not a great football (soccer) fan, I watched the game, as did many in England. 

After the last year or so, we deserve a bit of good news.

5T5PA Mauritania

This station in West Africa is always a consistent 10m signal, even with my indoor loop.  I have no idea what power and antenna they use.

Odd clouds - NOT amateur radio

These odd clouds appeared as a FaceBook memory from 2019. I was wondering if they were fribratus clouds? Let me know what you think. I cannot remember what the day was like.

This was "our" windmill seen out the window.

See https://whatsthiscloud.com/cloud-species/fibratus/ .

Next SAQ (17.2kHz CW) test transmission

Next Sunday, this historic alternator TX is transmitting for Alexanderson Day on July 4th. I have a QSL card somewhere from them for a transmission many years ago. This is a good chance to test your VLF system.

See https://alexander.n.se/category/news/?lang=en .

See https://sites.google.com/site/sm6lkm/saqrx/ .

10m FT8 in the last day with the loop

Compared with a half decent outside 10m antenna I know my loop (50cm across, indoors) is at least 1 S point down. This means stations others copy, I miss. 

Nonetheless, 197 spots in the last day is not bad. These were in Europe, Africa and South America. In the next few weeks with help, I hope to get a decent outside antenna up for 10m.

10m FT8 RX


Stations spotted
to 0950z
At 0653z, my 10m FT8 RX was turned on with the tiny indoor loop. So far (at 0700z) no spots.

UPDATE 0710z:   Just M0BPQ (74km) spotted.

UPDATE 1020z:   140 stations spotted on RX. Mostly Es. The map shows the stations spotted on RX at 0950z.

UPDATE 1336z:   247 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 2120z: 336 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX. QRT shortly.

Sunspots - Tuesday June 29th 2021

 Solar flux is 89 and the SSN 50. A=4 and K=0.

28 Jun 2021

Replacing the slats - NOT amateur radio

The 200 year old windmill next door is being repainted. Today, they've started to put the slats back on the sails. 

Backscatter compendium

The microwave bands are an area of amateur radio that I have never got seriously interested in, although we can only do so much I guess. Quite a few people are doing ATV at 5.6GHz using low cost modules.

Years ago I bought the "Backscatter compendium". This is now available free to download. 

See https://www.microwavers.org/backscatter.htm .

30THz tests

 Working on optical frequencies at 481THz seems easier!

Grandchildren - NOT amateur radio

We are lucky to see quite a lot of some of the grandchildren. 

Here two of them are with their granny. 

eBay fan - NOT amateur radio

Talking about eBay made me think about a fan my wife bought off eBay many years ago. See photo of the fan.

PFX Manual

 Years ago, I worked on the Pye PFX.  An old friend has just pointed me to a PFX service manual for sale on eBay.


I have just spotted that it was my personal copy with my name on it!

No, I shall not be bidding, HI.

The PFX was widely used by the UK police and some were used on 70cm. It was the first synthesised portable Pye Telecom ever made. It had a few false starts, but was very successful in the end. The PF85 was a crystal controlled handheld using many of the same modules.

10m FT8 RX with the indoor loop

At about 0750z, I turned on the 10m FT8 RX with the 50cm diameter indoor loop. So far, 2 Iberian spots on RX.

UPDATE 1022z:  Now 30 stations spotted on RX with furthermost 5T5PA (3791km).

UPDATE 1142z:  59 stations spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1545z:  86 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX.

Sunspots - Monday June 28th 2021

 Solar flux is 87 and the SSN 32.  A=4 and K=0. 

27 Jun 2021

Earth-mode VLF

Earth-mode is a form of VLF communication that is open to all. With 5W I managed to cover 6km, although far further should be possible even with the same gear. I have updated my webpage to include a link to my earth-mode blog showing my experiments some years ago. 

My understanding is this does not require a UK licence, but check with OFCOM as I cannot give legal advice.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/vlf/vlf-earth-mode .

Lightning threat?

Later, we have the threat of thunderstorms. At the moment there are storms on the near continent, but not here. If they get close I shall go QRT.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/other-amateur-radio/lightning-maps .

UPDATE 1710z:  Still nothing here. At the moment the storms are not expected until 0100z tomorrow.

Our son's kitten - NOT amateur radio


Our son has got a kitten. It is proving very popular with the grandchildren. It is very small and playful.

After the pandemic - NOT amateur radio

When the current pandemic ends (it will) things will be different in many ways:

  • High streets will be different. Many of us have got used to online shopping. Some of this started before the pandemic, but certainly this trend has speeded up. Those shops that survive will be those that adapt. Those that do not are unlikely to be around long. Expect fewer shops, more in-town flats and more places to meet. In 20 years, things will be very different. People will shop more locally.

  • People will work from home more. I suspect people will go into the office a few days a week, but maybe commute on fewer days. People will realise that living in a village rather than a big city has its advantages.

  • People will have meetings online more rather than travel a long way. Most of us have been pleasantly surprised how effective online meetings can be. I have attended several lectures by Zoom and sometimes we have had speakers and viewers on different continents.

  • There will be less air travel. People are realising there are actually good places to see without getting on a plane.

  • Live music will suffer. People often prefer live music, but may be more reluctant to travel far.

  • Inflation could rise.

  • Low interest rates will be around for a long time. Savings are likely to suffer.

  • For a while people will be nervous about socialising.

  • There is a danger of social unrest with fewer jobs and more unemployment.

We are going to have a very different time. Not all is bad. 

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/non-amateur-radio/covid-19-aftermath .

6m super-DX

About now each year, we hear of DX openings between Europe and Japan on 6m VHF. I believe there have already been 6m openings from Western Europe to Australia. One has always to watch for pirates who are actually much closer! I very much hope these QSOs are confirmed as genuine.

The regular 6m Japanese openings (and to the Far East more generally) seem to be linked to mesospheric noctilucent clouds that form about now. I am sure this is E-layer, but not Es. I also wonder about some of the very long transatlantic 6m openings. Some may be multi-hop Es, but I suspect many are not. E layer - yes. Es - no.

They do not call 6m "the magic band" for nothing. Well equipped stations can work some amazing DX. Even very modest stations can have plenty of fun with QRP and simple antennas.

This why a future 8m allocation could be so informative to radio science: midway between 6m and 10m could be so interesting. We could all learn so much.  

I am convinced there is a great deal for us to find out about E layer propagation and this is one area in which radio amateurs can really contribute to radio science.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/vhfuhfmicrowaves/super-dx .

UK Health Secretary - NOT amateur radio

The UK Health Secretary has resigned. 

Somehow, the UK press got hold of CCTV tapes of him having steamy embraces with someone in his department. He is seen breaking the very rules we have all tried to follow since the Covid-19 crisis hit us. I do not like the way the press got hold of the "scoop", but it shows him in an untenable role breaking his own rules!

Surely a cabinet minister would know there is CCTV around. This is designed to safeguard them. I feel for the families broken over this. Once pillars of society they are thrown into the limelight in the most ignominious fashion. Lives are ruined. What about the children?

I am sure there are many in high office in many nations with dark secrets.

The UK Prime Minister came out in support of him.

In my view, there is gross ineptness at the highest levels. I am sure this has gone on for centuries. We all have dark secrets, but we can do without those telling us "we are all in this together" breaking the very rules they set us! Gross stupidity! 

In my view, those in government in the UK have lost a great deal of credibility.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-politics-57627610 .

10m FT8 RX

At just before 0830z, I turned on my 10m FT8 RX setup with the tiny indoor loop antenna. No spots yet at 0833z.

UPDATE 0922z:   4 spots on RX so far.

UPDATE 1624z:  13 stations so far spotted on 10m FT8 RX with the tiny 50cm diameter loop antenna this morning. Disappointing so far. At the moment, the Es here today is the worst this season. I shall stay on until late this evening "just in case". With the loop, I am probably not seeing some of the stations others are able to copy.

Man born in 1746 photographed? - NOT amateur radio

This photo appeared as a Facebook memory today. It is supposed to be of a man born in 1746.

Sunspots - Sunday June 27th 2021

 Solar flux is 82 and the SSN 16. A=4 and K=0.

26 Jun 2021

Sad day (SPAM messages) - NOT amateur radio

 It seems quite a few emails and texts are malicious these days. It has reached such a level that many genuine messages are discarded unread just in case they have malware or viruses. 

Oscar 100 activity

Every few weeks I try to give an update on activity levels on Oscar 100. It is still very quiet. The last peek was early morning on a weekend in Europe when I would have expected it to be busiest. The photo shows the narrowband transponder. 

10m FT8 RX

It is now 0615z. In a short time I hope to go on 10m FT8 RX with the tiny indoor loop antenna. 

UPDATE  0933z:  39 stations spotted on RX so far today. The gear was turned on about 45 minutes ago.

Poppy - NOT amateur radio

We saw several poppies on our walk yesterday including this one. 

Sunspots - Saturday June 26th 2021

 Solar flux is 83 and the SSN 25. A=7 and K=1.

25 Jun 2021

WSJT-X latest version

 I see WSJT-X is now available as v2.4. Currently I am on v2.3 .

10m FT8 RX

Since mid-morning I have been on 10m FT8 RX using the tiny indoor loop. So far, (at 1234z)  27 stations spotted.

Dadvent - NOT amateur radio

For Father's Day my son bought me this thoughtful present. It is a selection of beers. 

Sunspots - Friday June 25th 2021

Solar flux is 81 and the SSN 11. A=5 and K=2. 

24 Jun 2021

Windows 11

Apparently Microsoft has announced Windows 11. No doubt this will mean another long download and quite possibly a period whilst they sort the bugs out and yet more downloads. Even if I delay updating as long as possible I expect we will all have to in the end. 

Cambridge bikes - NOT amateur radio

Cambridge is famous for its bikes. You would think with fewer overseas people there might be fewer. Not what I saw! 

Another rally postponed

 The Newbury rally, due on Sunday, has been postponed until next June.

10m FT8 RX

It is now 1020z and so far today 12 stations spotted on R.X with the tiny indoor loop antenna.

UPDATE 1237z:  30 stations spotted on RX so far today.

UPDATE 1840z:  222 stations spotted on RX today. 

UPDATE 2125z: 
QRT soon. 312 stations spotted today (see map).

PYO strawberries - NOT amateur radio

This morning we went strawberry picking. We got 4 large punnets.

As well as the fresh ones I can see a few crumbles in the freezer! Raspberries ready next week. 

Sunspots - Thursday June 24th 2021

 Solar flux is 80 and the SSN 11. A=4 and K=1. 

23 Jun 2021

Friedrichshafen (Germany) cancelled

The big Friedrichshafen rally, due soon, is cancelled in case you did not know. Look out for virtual events instead. I hope it returns next year as it is an important gathering for many.

Windows 11?

Microsoft is about to make a big announcement according to Verge.  Windows 11 maybe?

See https://www.theverge.com/2021/6/2/22465126/microsoft-windows-event-june-24th .

Windows 10 is OK, but painfully slow on my machine bought 4 years ago and, it seems, always needing updates. If it is so good, why? 

Surely if it is so great, why does it not clear rubbish slowing it down and do updates quietly in the background? My virus protection is by Avast.

Overall, I am not impressed by Windows.

I have a Chromebook and it is both lightning fast and does updates and virus checking in the background. For almost everything it is perfect. By comparison it makes Windows seem poor.

The next solar peak

Jay, W5OLF has sent me an article on the next solar peak suggesting it could be good. The last forecast I saw suggested it could be similar to the last one. Sadly, I think it is too early to tell.

See https://www.unknowncountry.com/headline-news/termination-events-may-mark-the-end-and-the-beginning-of-solar-cycles/ .

10m Es

In the northern hemisphere we have the sporadic E (Es) season, which offers good QSOs on all modes on bands like 10m, 6m and 4m.  Occasionally, it is also good on 2m, but this is far rarer. Skip is usually 800-1500km.

As a child, I used to see what DXTV came through on Band 1 TV.  I well recall the lunchtime watching Midi-Pyrenees via Es on 819 lines. On a standard 405 line TV we got 2 images side by side with a black band in the middle. There is far less TV on Band 1 these days. I am not sure which countries still use it.

As is often the case, I am on 10m FT8 RX with the tiny indoor loop antenna. So far today, 5 stations spotted. 

UPDATE 1015z: 16 stations so far spotted today on 10m FT8 RX.  All Es I think. 

UPDATE 1450z:  87 stations spotted so far today on 10m FT8 RX. Furthermost is 5T5PA (3791km) in West Africa. Nothing yet seen from the Americas.

UPDATE 2016z:  116 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX with the furthermost CE2SV (11716km) in Chile.

Call me sir? - NOT amateur radio

This stately home was a nursing home after WW2. It is where I was born. If you insist, then call me Sir Roger 😉😉. 

Sunspots - Wednesday June 23rd 2021

 Solar flux is 81 and the SSN 12. A=7 and K =2. 

22 Jun 2021

Cambridge Market - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows Cambridge Market earlier. 

The statue in the foreground is in memory of Snowy, who was a famous local character who raised a lot for charity. We used to see him often.

The church in the background is Great St Mary's, the university church.

Mating? - NOT amateur radio


These look like they are holding hands, but I suspect they are mating.

160m antenna

There is a misconception that 160m antennas and grounds have to be big. This antenna fitted in a small attic and results suggest it does very well. 

Most people have high noise levels on the LF and MF bands these days, but I find FT8, with its effective 50Hz bandwidth, is still effective. 

You may be surprised by results. I was.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/antennas/160m-loft-vertical .

10m FT8 RX (Tuesday)

At 0718z, I turned on 10m FT8 RX using the tiny indoor loop. So far, 3 spots at 0822z.

UPDATE 1305z: 71 stations spotted so far with the furthermost VO1CH (3737km).

UPDATE 1810z:  96 stations spotted so far today.

10m FT8 RX yesterday

425 stations spotted yesterday on 10m FT8 RX with the indoor loop antenna including both the USA and South America. Lots of EUs by Es of course! 

Optical link changed

 A reminder that if you find any errors or omissions on my new web pages, please let me know so I can address them. Mike pointed out an old link that I have (hopefully!) corrected. I am sure there are others.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/optical-nanowaves/over-the-horizon .

Sunspots - Tuesday Jun 22nd 2021

 Solar flux is 79 and the SSN 11. A=4 and K=3.

21 Jun 2021

Family outing? - NOT amateur radio


These swans and cygnets were seen at Anglesey Abbey this afternoon.

Millionaire - NOT amateur radio

 If some of the SPAM emails I get (filtered out) were true I would be a millionaire many times over. Every day I get told there is nearly £300k coming to my account if I just share my details. As for Bitcoin, I get told every day I am due for so much! 

I do not share my details!!

All of these are, of course, scams.

Oh, and how to get a 15 inch penis......😁

10m FT8 grabber

 One of the new features that is possible on the new Google Sites is embedding. Some browsers do not support this for fear of viruses or malware on the embedded sites. I have embedded PSKreporter maps on my new web pages  which normally points to what I see on 10m FT8 RX.  So you can see what I am spotting here.

Just occasionally I may be looking at something else.

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


Amateur radio gear can be badly affected by nearby storms. Often, when there are storms nearby, there can be damaging power surges. I am always nervous with nearby storms. My normal practice is to disconnect everything until the storms have well passed. At the moment, the immediate risk seems to have passed.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/other-amateur-radio/lightning-maps  .

10m FT8 RX

As usual, whilst doing some housework, I am monitoring 10m FT8 RX with the tiny indoor loop.  At 1030z, 106 stations spotted.

UPDATE 1104z: 136 stations spotted with the furthermost CT3MD (2521km) on Madeira.

UPDATE 1902z:  402 stations spotted on RX with the furthermost PT2GTI (8866km).

Rain - NOT amateur radio

 The BBC weather is often wrong unless there is a big high pressure system over us. The weather radar app has rainfall forecasts in mm to 3 decimal places for hours to come. My own view is a wet finger and look out of the window is often just as good. 

East Anglian skies - NOT amateur radio

In this part of the UK we get great skies as the photo shows. 

Sunspots - Monday June 21st 2021

 Solar flux is 76 and the SSN 13. A=4 and K=1. 

20 Jun 2021

10m FT8 RX

There is widespread Es on 10m this morning. A few moments ago (it is now 0917z) I turned on 10m FT8 RX with the FT817ND and the tiny indoor loop antenna. Already, 49 stations have been spotted.

UPDATE 0948z:  85 stations spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1214z:  198 stations spotted on RX. The furthermost is VO1CH (3737km).

UPDATE 1604z:  325 stations spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1904z:  467 stations spotted on RX with the furthermost PY5BH (9903km).

UPDATE 1954z:  514 stations spotted on RX today.  See map.

UPDATE 2130z:  547 stations spotted today. Soon QRT.

Facebook Photo - NOT amateur radio

This photo was on Michael Rainey's Facebook page earlier. I thought it was worth sharing here. 

G3XBM videos

A reminder that a lot of the projects on my main website have videos on my video channel. These often provide more detail. The video below , of my Sixbox, is an example.

See https://www.youtube.com/user/G3XBM

Sixbox 6m AM QRP transceiver

This was missing from my main website. It has now been added. I did not realise it was missing!

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

Laurel hedge cutting - NOT amateur radio

We have a laurel hedge at the front (about 30m long), that we planted 8 years ago. Usually I trim it twice a year. It has grown a lot! 

Whereas I could do it all in one go, I now have several goes over several days. I am getting older and get tired more quickly. After about 10 minutes, I need a rest.

The laurel hedge provides a good screen from the path by the windmill, but it is hard work! 

Sunspots - Sunday June 20th 2021

 Solar flux is 77 and the SSN 25. A=4 and K=1. 

19 Jun 2021

Pasties - NOT amateur radio

A few weeks ago I tried my hand at making my own pasties. They turned out well. Just a pity I am on a diet and cannot have them at the moment.

As a Westcountryman, I like my pasties! The ones shown in the photo are vegetarian, but I also tried meat ones.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/non-amateur-radio/pasties.

"Over the horizon" optical experiments

Since 2013, my health has precluded proper field experiments at 481THz or thereabouts (optical). I am just too wobbly. I tried once, but I just could not manage it sadly.

One of the things I enjoyed was experimenting with weak signal optical signalling over the horizon. My own tests used QRSS (slow CW) received on a PC . There was absolutely no sign of the optical signal in the sky, yet there was a clear trace visible on the PC. 

Had I been well, these experiments would have continued and far greater ranges would have been possible.

 See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/optical-nanowaves/over-the-horizon  .

Watery - NOT amateur radio

East Anglia is famous for being flat.  Actually, there are hills, especially in Norfolk and Suffolk.

However, we get some great skies and there is a unique beauty as the photo collage shows. 

These are the various waterways near where we live.

10m FT8 RX yesterday with the tiny indoor loop antenna

In all, 380 stations spotted yesterday. Not too bad. 

I am still not sure how far down the loop is compared with a reasonable outside antenna. 

Dealer profits

For a long time I have thought dealers aimed to make excessive profits. We all know that they have costs such as wages, premises etc.

Maybe I am being unfair? 

I am all for fair profits (after all, this is their business), but I object to excessive profits. In my opinion many dealers and magazines will go out of business in the coming years as most amateurs get old and buy fewer radios. Magazines will suffer as there will be fewer dealers and less revenue.

Maybe the strategy is to make as much money as possible whilst they can? 

Sunspots - Saturday June 19th 2021

 Solar flux is 77 and the SSN 24. A=7 and K=1.

18 Jun 2021

How far down is my loop?

As you may know, I have no external antenna for 10m at present. Instead I use the 50cm loop on the shack windowsill. 

It is extremely hard to measure the difference in performance of, say, a dipole and my loop. Even over quite small distances signal levels can vary greatly. There are many factors: location, time, directivity, polarisation, radiation angle etc. 

The best I could do is compare signal levels at similar times in the best and worst directions of the loop with that received by others locally. The best I can work out is that the loop is up to 6dB down. There are quite wide errors bars on this.

Overall, the loop is performing better than I expected.

If there is F2 DX from the USA or South America later, I shall try again. With lower angle signals the differences might be greater.

G0LRD (26km from me) copies far more, although if he can copy signals that are 6dB weaker, I would expect this to make a considerable difference on FT8.

It will be interesting to see my results later with an external antenna. The impression I get is that the small loop is not too bad on Es signals from Europe, but it performs less well with low angle DX signals.

UPDATE 1915z: Well there's a surprise!  CX2CC (11128km) was coming through just now. I was getting him 5dB S/N better than G0LRD (26km). This may just be the momentary polarisation being optimum. Still it proves the loop cannot be too bad.

UPDATE 2101z:  At the moment I am confused: many times G0LRD is copying better than me and he certainly is spotting far more stations than me. Nonetheless the loop is not at all bad considering its small size and being indoors!

10m FT8 RX in the last day

In the last 24 hours, 587 stations have been spotted using just the indoor 50cm diameter loop (see map). 

These include North and South America.

10m FT8 RX with the indoor 50cm loop (Friday)

At 1325z, I turned on my 10m FT8 RX with lots of Es evident. I see Spanish stations are calling the USA. So far, at 1328z, 25 stations already spotted.

UPDATE 1430z:  So far today, 103 stations have been spotted on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1648z: 242 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX with the furthermost  XT2AW (4478km).

UPDATE 1815z:  294 stations spotted so far.

UPDATE 2106z:  362 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today.

UPDATE 2132z: 379 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX. Have to go QRT shortly.

Amateur? radio

MLS has been appointed as the dealer of the Hilberling transceiver which retails for just under £12k. Yes, you read correctly - twelve thousand pounds!! 

I am sure it would be very good and some will buy it. At that price it should be superb. Add a linear, tower, rotator and beam and you won't see much, if any, change from £20k. To me this is not amateur radio. 

OK, each to their own, but I prefer to spend my money more modestly.  Even for a professional radio, this is stupid money in my view, but we are all different. 

If you want to spend this on a hobby - go ahead. Just remember you can communicate just as well across the planet with amateur radio spending a tiny fraction of this and you can video chat for free across the world with a low cost tablet or PC.

Wicken - NOT amateur radio


A few days ago we went for a walk around the village of Wicken, where this windmill is.


There have been radio amateurs for over 100 years.

Like many things today, I can understand why somethings are done - to protect people - yet often the unintended consequences make things worse, not better. 

Take for example the EU rules on data protection. Now most web pages have a pop-up about cookies. Most people either just say "yes" without reading or use a pop-up blocker so the message never appears. Most find these very annoying! The intention was good, but in reality by not reading the small print we could be accepting all sorts of rubbish!

It is a bit like the recent licence changes to protect the general public from harmful EMF. Yes, of course, this is admirable, but how have we managed for over 100 years?

I am not sure what the answer is. What is missing is common sense. 

Before agreeing to any changes, think of the unintended consequences. If overall things could be more harmful, think again. We seem to be moving ever more in a more stupid direction.

Pound versus Euro

We left the EU completely some months ago. The EU is far from perfect, but I voted in 2016 to remain "in".  Overall we voted by a small margin to leave.

Despite the difficulties of trading with the EU, the UK Pound seems to have appreciated against the Euro. 

Personally, I would have preferred a softer BREXIT especially as the vote was close. I suspect the EU misses the contributions to its budget from the UK. 

We will have to find our own way in the future. Only time will tell if we were right or wrong.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/cx250jmk4e7t/pound-sterling-gbp 

Nuclear fusion - NOT amateur radio

For almost my entire life, the gold at the end of the rainbow was nuclear fusion (not fission) with its promise of almost endless low cost energy with no pollution. At every point we seem to have hit hurdles and I cannot see it being reality in my lifetime. I hope in the end the technical issues can be overcome.

Things may have moved a step closer with a new research facility at Oxford funded by Jeoff Bazos. This is reported by the BBC to cost £400M.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-57512229 .


For "one-off" projects, MeSquares can be a good solution. The photo shows my 10FT8R RX using MeSquares.

These are simply snapped out and glued down to plain copper clad board. The copper clad board makes an excellent RF ground plane and the MeSquares excellent islands. 

If glued down carefully (unlike mine!), a very neat layout is possible.

See www.qrpme.com .

Sunspots - Friday June 18th 2021

Solar flux is 75 and the SSN 12.  A=7 and K=2. 

17 Jun 2021


We escaped the storms last night. It rained, but that was all. We missed again last night the storms are creeping up from France and thunderstorms and heavy rain are forecast for tomorrow.

See https://www.lightningmaps.org/#m=oss;t=3;s=0;o=0;b=0.00;ts=0;z=6;y=50.6182;x=0.3762;d=2;dl=2;dc=0;

Konik ponies - NOT amateur radio


These are used to keep the wild grass down at Wicken Fen.

2m activity contest (June) published

Every month, if I am free, I go on the UKAC activity contests organised by the RSGB.  Although I submit entries running 10W SSB to a 2m omni antenna I have no chance of ever winning! 

I only enter the 2m and 70cm legs. Mostly I go on for fun and the activity. Without trying at all hard I see I am still about third down the table in the low power section. Activity levels on SSB are very good. I think these sessions are primarily for clubs, although I just go on as me. There is no compulsion to submit a score.

See https://www.rsgbcc.org/cgi-bin/vhfresults.pl?Contest=144MHz%20UKAC&Date=&year=2021 .

WebSDR in the Netherlands

Tjeerd PA3GNZ has a webSDR online. It is interesting to listen to.


10m FT8 RX on the tiny loop in the shack

For a change I am on 10m FT8 RX with the FT817ND and the tiny indoor loop (50cm diameter) antenna. 

Plenty of Europeans being spotted by Es.  After just a few minutes, 51 stations spotted with the furthermost being 5T5PA (3791km) in Mauritania, West Africa.

UPDATE 1246z:   150 stations spotted.

UPDATE 1515z:   281 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today.

UPDATE 1815z:  465 stations spotted so far in 4 continents.

UPDATE 1913z:  524 stations spotted so far today.

UPDATE 2146z:  682 stations spotted today. Furthermost is PP5JD (10072km). I now have to go QRT and disconnect everything.

12 year old grandson's art page updated - NOT amateur radio

We have a very talented young artist in the family. No, he does not take after granddad!  I have just updated his page on my G3XBM website to include his YouTube tutorial.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/non-amateur-radio/grandsons-art  for a direct link to this page.

10FT8R in RadCom (August)

All being well, my simple, low cost, RX for 10m FT8 should appear in RSGB RadCom in August. This is not certain.

My thanks go to Jay W5OLF for kindly doing the schematics. Jay is developing the circuit further. I hope it brings him success.

Exhaustion or laziness? - NOT amateur radio

It may be old age or an artefact of my stroke in 2013. 

These days I seem to be exhausted after doing very little. People who do not know me probably think I am just lazy, whereas at times I am totally exhausted. A particular time is after breakfast (like now) when I really really need a quiet time.

At one time I was a very active person whereas these days I absolutely need breaks.

Wicken Fen - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday we went for a walk around Wicken. 

Sunspots - Thursday June 17th 2021

Solar flux is 76 and the SSN 11. A=14 and K=2.

16 Jun 2021

Storm risks

Maybe I am paranoid over the risk from nearby storms. Everything has been disconnected (PC, PSU, rigs, antennas) to avoid the risk of nearby voltage surges and strikes. If I miss something, does it matter? No.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/other-amateur-radio/lightning-maps .

2m Es DX

Just before I disconnected everything because of the storm risk there was an Es opening on 2m FT8 with LZ2PI (2107km) in Bulgaria spotted on RX using the omni antenna.  At -12dB S/N this station was strong.

2m FT8 QRP

Mid afternoon I went on 2m FT8 QRP with 2.5W and the big-wheel omni.  12 stations spotted me on TX with the furthermost G4KUX (302km) and I spotted 15 stations on RX with the furthermost  DC0KK (589km). I have since gone QRT because of the storm risk. 

Sunspots - June 16th 2021

Solar flux is 76 and the SSN 11. A=17 and K=4.

15 Jun 2021

Par EF-10/20/40

Last year, this developed a fault. 

I strung an end-fed wire using the Par transformer out of the shack window. The VSWR looked low, so I assume this Par transformer is fine. At some point I shall re-erect this tri-band antenna, but with new coax. Either there was moisture in the coax or the plug had failed.

In the past I have been spotted all over the planet with this antenna and 500mW WSPR on 10m. It is good for 35W, although my absolute maximum is 10W and often much lower. With WSPR and FT8 it is far lower.

6m FT8 RX (Tuesday)

It is now 0759z. A few minutes ago I turned on 6m FT8 RX using the FT817ND and the V2000 vertical omni. So far just G4IFX calling CQ DX, no doubt hoping for the Far East. 

Just now I realised I was looking at the 12 hour view on PSKreporter maps. I am now looking just at today. So far just 2 Gs spotted (0807z).

UPDATE 1112z: 18 stations spotted. No Es evident here.

UPDATE 1237z: 26 stations spotted including the furthermost HI3T (7001km) in the Caribbean. With no Es evident here, I am more convinced than ever that some of these long distance paths are not Es, but some other E layer propagation. I am sure with a better antenna, higher up, I would copy far more, especially as the V2000 being faulty.

Inland beauty - NOT amateur radio

Many years ago we drove from Banff to Jasper on the Icefields Parkway in western Canada. Even though it was June, there was plenty of snow still and the scenery was perhaps the best ever seen inland. 

6m FT8 RX yesterday (Monday)

Although fewer stations were spotted, there was DX from the Caribbean copied on the FT817ND and the V2000 omni antenna. In all, 293 stations spotted. Better equipped stations were working plenty across the Atlantic. 

12 year old grandson's art - NOT amateur radio

This still life painting was done by our 12 year old grandson. He is very talented. 

Sunspots - Tuesday June 15th 2021

 Solar flux is 77 and the SSN 11. A=4 and K=2.

14 Jun 2021

Granddaughter - NOT amateur radio


At least one of these photos has been on before. It shows one of grandchildren this weekend. 

They all like coming to Burwell.

6m FT8 RX (Monday)

Since breakfast I have again been on 6m FT8 RX with the FT817ND and the V2000 vertical omni. It is now 1042z and so far 129 stations spotted.

UPDATE 1414z:  238 stations spotted on RX including 2 in the Caribbean.

UPDATE 1530z:  252 spots on RX so far today on 6m FT8.

Sunspots - Monday June 14th 2021

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 22. A=7 and K=1.

13 Jun 2021

DX soundbites

You may like to hear what some DX stations sounded like. These recordings were made last year. There is a link on my main website.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/dx-soundbites-2020 .

Photo time - NOT amateur radio

One of our grandsons earlier today.

Picnic time - NOT amateur radio

We have had warm, sunny weather for some days. Yesterday my son had a picnic with his daughter to enjoy it. 

Last night they slept outside under the stars.

Online orders - NOT amateur radio

Since the Covid-19 pandemic started, a lot of us have turned to orders online. We have ordered stuff from various suppliers and all have done well delivering the correct packages to the door within a few days. No car journeys, no heavy lifting, convenient. 

When things return to more normal, I can see lots of people staying with online orders for speed, choice and convenience. The high street suppliers that will survive have to either offer something unique or change their business model. 

This had already started before the pandemic, but the last 12-15 months have speeded up the change process. I still enjoy browsing and having a coffee whilst my wife spends our money, but things will be different. 

One thing is certain: high streets will be very different. I suspect the changes will take some time. In the end I can see more city centre flats and fewer, different, shops.

Windose??? - NOT amateur radio

Just now (well actually 20 minutes ago!) I turned on my Windows 10 PC as this has all my RSGB activity contest details stored. I am still waiting for Windows updates to install. In this time, I could have cut the grass, had breakfast, washed the car, etc...

18 months ago I bought a Chromebook and this must be 20 times faster. I am totally pleased with my choice.

I thought the Windows 10 PC needed a defrag, but apparently this already happens automatically every week! The PC has gathered bloatware it does not need, I suppose. It is about 4 years old.

Anyone have recommendations what to do please?

BTW, after 30 minutes of my life - zzzzzz - I am still waiting for this heap of junk to start! It now tells me it is "cleaning up". More waiting..... zzzz.

BTW, I use Avast anti-virus.

PW 2m QRP contest today (Sunday)

Later, I hope to be on 2m SSB briefly to give away a few points in the PW QRP contest. I entered last year and will do so again, although with no chance! It is on 0900-1600z. I know G2XV will be active for the Cambridge Club (CDARC)

See http://www.pwcontest.org.uk/ .

UPDATE 1533z: as we had a family BBQ I only worked G2XV.

6m FT8 RX (Sunday)

Monitoring 6m FT8 again with the FT817ND and the V2000 omni vertical antenna. Most are UK so far this morning with just a couple of EU stations by Es. 

UPDATE 1530z: 99 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX (see map).

UPDATE 1805z:  183 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX so far today.

UPDATE 1929z:  252 stations spotted today.

Sunspots - Sunday June 13th 2021

 Solar flux is 78 and the SSN 0. A=10 and K=3.

12 Jun 2021

New Chinese portable transceiver?

It looks like the Chinese manufacturer Xiegu is going to launch a new product called the X6100. 

Apparently their quality control on earlier products was not good. At the moment this still puts me off Chinese made amateur radio products. If I was spending good money I would expect it to be reliable. 

They'll get there, but still not there yet. 

OK I failed

This photo was taken in 2010.  It shows our grandson who was 2.5 years at the time in my workshop at the back of the garage in our old QTH. 

He is now 13 and shows no inclination towards engineering! 

Oscar 100 activity

Regular readers will know that every few weeks I check activity on the narrowband transponder of this geosynchronous satellite. 

The last time I looked was at 0832z on a Saturday, which is when I would have expected it to be quite busy in Europe, being a weekend Saturday morning. 

It was quiet. If anything, activity is lower than it was with very few stations on. I guess it is just too hard for black box operators!! I have no doubt that if Yaesu or ICOM made a simple solution then activity would suddenly rocket!

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/ .

Yesterday (Friday) on 6m FT8 RX and Japan on 6m maybe?

The Es season is in full swing. 388 stations spotted yesterday. 

This is the time of the year when better equipped 6m EU stations make contact on 6m with Japan. This regularly occurs at this time of year and may be linked with the formation of noctilucent mesospheric clouds that form at this time of year.

6m FT8 RX (Saturday)

Once again I am monitoring 6m FT8 RX with the FT817ND and V2000 omni. So far, in the last 2 hours, 10 stations spotted.

Another bee - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday I posted a photo of a bee. I couldn't resist this one. 

Sunspots - Saturday June 12th 2021

 Solar flux is 77 and the SSN 13.  A=10 and K=4.

11 Jun 2021

Bee on iris - NOT amateur radio


This photo of a bee on an iris was taken this afternoon at nearby Anglesey Abbey.

6m FT8 RX (Friday)

Since about 0830z, I have been on 6m FT8 RX using the FT817ND and faulty V2000 vertical omni antenna. So far (at 0842z) 43 stations spotted today.

UPDATE 0915z:  76 stations spotted today on 6m FT8 RX. Furthermost is 4X1YS (3595km) in Israel.

UPDATE 1238z: 179 stations so far spotted today on 6m FT8 with the furthermost 5T5PA (3791km) in Mauritania, West Africa.

UPDATE 1703z:   279 stations so far spotted today on 6m FT8 RX. 

UPDATE 2013z:  376 stations spotted so far today on 6m FT8 RX.

Ducks - NOT amateur radio

On our walk yesterday we saw quite a few ducks. This one (I think it was a mallard cross breed) was sleeping with its mate on a river bank. 

My wife took the photo. It was not amused! 

We were looking for some cygnets recently born, but saw none.

Antenna issues

It is like busses, with all issues happening at once! 

Now my big-wheel omni (2m) has developed a high SWR. It probably just wants a good clean as some of the joints may have oxidised. Sadly, I need help these days. I think the coax is still fine. Well I hope so!

Earlier, my V2000 developed issues. Despite trying hard, G3TFX was unable to get the bottom part off. I think a new antenna and coax are called for before the poorer weather sets in. The V2000 must be very old. It was up at the old QTH before going up here for nearly 8 years, so I have had my money's worth.

With some luck, all my antennas will be in good shape again before autumn.

Roses - NOT amateur radio

This collage shows some of the roses seen on our walk yesterday. 

Gilbert and Sullivan

The English have a love affair with G&S comic opera. These were written in Victorian times. 

Until Covid-19 times a local group performed every year in a local barn. I hope this returns next year (2022). It was part of our year. 

6m FT8 in the last day

 In all 844 stations have been spotted on RX with the V2000 vertical omni antenna in the last 24 hours on 6m FT8 RX . The V2000 is faulty and has a high SWR on TX. 

Sunspots - Friday June 11th 2021

 Solar flux is 73 and the SSN 29.  A=4 and K=3.

10 Jun 2021

Visit Ely - NOT amateur radio

Ely is about 12km north from here. 

Recently a free booklet has been produced called, "Visit Ely" promoting Ely as a good base to explore the area. 

The world famous university boat race took place here earlier in the year and it has a wonderful cathedral. It makes a good base.

See www.visitely.org.uk. 


The GQRP Club produces an excellent quarterly magazine called SPRAT that is always packed with ideas and projects. It is, without fail, excellent. 

They also offer SPRAT 1-184 on a DVD or Flash stick for £5 plus postage - excellent. 

If ALL other magazines had to stop, I'd keep SPRAT. 

See www.gqrp.com

Rally news

The East Suffolk Wireless Revival (Ipswich Radio Rally) has been postponed until July and the Junction 28 Rally has been cancelled this year, hopefully on in 2022.

OFCOM appoints new Chief Technology Officer

Apparently OFCOM is appointing a new Chief Technology Officer who used to work at Amazon. This person seems well qualified in business. Let's hope this person really understands technology too.

See the OFCOM website for details.

6m FT8 RX (Thursday)

Since about 0830z, I have been on 6m FT8 RX. It is now 1104z and 41 stations spotted so far. Surprising number of UK stations, suggesting some tropo?UPDATE 1132z: 55 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX today so far.

UPDATE 1538z:  256 stations spotted so far.

UPDATE 1755z: 427 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX with the furthermost WP4G (6803km) in Puerto Rico.

UPDATE 1936z: 646 stations spotted today on RX with the furthermost PV8DX (7830km) in northern Brazil. Not bad for a VHF band with an omni antenna with a poor SWR!

UPDATE 2116z: 815 stations spotted today on 6m FT8 RX today (see map)