31 Jul 2021

R(e)ally good news

Quite often I report that a rally has been cancelled or postponed, so it is good to report on rallies that are on for a change.

Yesterday I had an email suggesting the Kings Lynn Rally and Wiltshire Radio and Car Boot Sale are taking place this Sunday August 1st.

I suggest you ensure this is correct before setting out.

50th wedding anniversary

A few days ago I showed us with our grandchildren. 

The photo shows us with our sons and their children in our back garden. The windmill is behind on the right.

FT7 HF transceiver

 I got mine second hand in 1979. It was a 10W SSB and CW rig covering all bands from 80-10m (no WARC bands then!), but with limited 10m coverage. With it, and wire dipoles, I worked DXCC QRP SSB on 10m. It ranks as one of the very best radios I have ever owned.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/commercial-rigs/yaesu-ft7 .

6m FT8 RX

After a very brief period with 2.5W TX (3 G spots), I am again on 6m FT8 RX with the V2000 vertical omni antenna. So far, nobody spotted on RX.

UPDATE 0901z:  3 RX spots so far with the furthermost DK8NE (702km).

UPDATE 1202z:  62 stations spotted so far, all in Europe and Africa, probably Es.

UPDATE 1412z:  74 stations spotted on RX today. As far as 6m is concerned, there is still Es about, but there seems to be less of it.

UPDATE 2107z:  124 stations spotted on 6m FT8 today with the furthermost KP4EIT (6834km) in Puerto Rico. I am convinced this is E layer, but not multi-hop Es. We have some other E layer propagation that we do not yet understand. Now QRT.

10m QRP WSPR TX (Saturday)

Since about 0818z, I have been on 10m WSPR TX with my 500mW W5OLF TX beacon. No spots of me yet today.

UPDATE 1155z:   4 unique stations have spotted me, with many multiple times.

UPDATE 1323z:  7 unique stations spotted. Yesterday, FY5KE (7110km) in South America spotted me an incredible 78 times! What I find amazing is just how strong signals can be. For example DL2JA (919km) was getting my 500mW at +2dB S/N. This suggests he could have copied my if I was running less than 1uW.

UPDATE 1801z: 12 unique stations have spotted me.

UPDATE 1939z:  29 stations have spotted my 500mW with an incredible +15dB S/N from DK6UG.

UPDATE 2024z:  30 stations have spotted me with the furthermost FY5KE (7110km). QRT soon.

Pasties - NOT amateur radio

One of my memories was the taste of certain pasties in Plymouth. These were made by Ivor Dewdney

They do pasties by post - very tempting. However, this service is currently unavailable probably as a result of the pandemic.

Pasties were the food of miners in Cornwall. One half was savoury and the other half sweet. The format allowed miners to hold their whole meal in their hands.


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

Concentration - NOT amateur radio

This photo shows one of our grandsons concentrating on something. 

I have no idea what it was. It looks like he was on granny's iPad. I think one of the reasons he likes coming here is so he gets fewer nags! 

"What happens at granny's house stays at granny's house".

Sunspots - Saturday July 31st 2021

 Solar flux is 76 and the SSN 0.  A=6 and K=1.

10m beacon list

These days, I prefer to look at FT8 and WSPR activity, but some still prefer to monitor beacons. 

This link was on John EI7GL's blog. It shows 10m beacons as well as other HF and MF beacons.

See http://dl8wx.de/BAKE_KW.HTM

30 Jul 2021

Budding musicians? - NOT amateur radio

Two of our grandchildren yesterday.  Budding musicians?  

This granddaughter is very keen on ballet and is very good.

6m FT8 RX (Friday)

Most of the morning I've been on 6m FT8 RX with the V2000 vertical omni antenna. So far today 54 stations spotted at 1245z with the furthermost HZ1SK (4759km) in Saudi Arabia.

UPDATE 1742z:   271 stations spotted here so far. Mostly EUs via Es.

10m WSPR TX - 500mW (Friday)

Spots of me at 1732z

Most of the morning I've been on 10m WSPR TX using 500mW. It is now 1235z and so far I've been spotted by 6 different stations. 

UPDATE 1416z:   21 stations across Europe have spotted me.

UPDATE 1732z:    40 stations have spotted me so far. one South American has spotted me 10 times!

21MHz (15m) QRP CW - my homebrew "Pipit"

Many years ago I designed and made this QRP (800mW) CW rig of 15m. 

It worked remarkably well and worked some impressive DX. 

For several months it was the only rig I used, out of choice. Every QSO was so satisfying. It appeared in GQRP SPRAT. It was in the days before schematic drawing packages, so the schematic was hand-drawn. I used Neosid toroids as these were at hand, although I am sure Amidon ones would be suitable with turns adjusted.

Values are on my webpage. As with all my designs, please use this as a starting point for your own ideas and do not be afraid to change things if this makes the design better! The SBL1 mixer can certainly be replaced by similar double balanced mixers or a homebrew version.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/homebrew/15m-qrp-cw-pipit .

IC202 and similar

After the Liner-2 made 2m SSB popular in the early 1970s, the IC202 was introduced by ICOM. This had less power, but was cleaner. It had a wide coverage VXO, but it behaved like a VFO. 

To this day, the IC202 and its successors are used to drive transverters. In the past I had the IC202 (2m) and the IC402 (70cm).  There were later S versions with a number of improvements. These were nice simple rigs with no frills. They had no memories or sythesisers.

I used my 2m IC202 with a homemade transverter on 10m. With 1W pep SSB and a low wire dipole the world was worked.

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

Where I come from - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows where I come from in South Devon. We had some land hereabouts in 1427!! 

Sunspots - Friday July 30th 2021

 Solar flux is 76 and the SSN 0. A=8 and K=1

29 Jul 2021

Es - keep monitoring

We appear to have the best of the Es season behind us in the northern hemisphere. However, Es can occur at any time, so it is worth monitoring 10m FT8 and WSPR if you can. With lots of people active, it would not surprise if we see some Es propagation on 10m most days. Of course F2 openings will become more frequent as cycle 25 gathers pace.

With the grandchildren - NOT amateur radio


This photo shows us with all the grandchildren yesterday in our back garden.

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

For the last few hours I have been on 10m WSPR TX with 500mW. So far, just 3 spots from Germany. Yesterday, there were several spots by FY5KE (7110km) in South America. Maybe later?

UPDATE 1335z:  Spots by 12 different stations on 10m WSPR TX so far today, many multiple times.

UPDATE 2035z:  16 different stations have spotted my beacon  so far today. The furthermost was again FY5KE (7110km).

6m FT8 (Thursday)

After a very brief period on TX with 2.5W and the V2000 vertical omni I am on 6m FT8 RX only. It is now 1058z and just 6 G stations spotted. No Es evident here yet. 

UPDATE 1444z:  42 stations spotted so far with the furthermost K4PI (6802km) in Georgia, USA.

Sunspots - Thursday July 29th 2021

 Solar flux is 79 and the SSN 0. A=13 and K=3.

28 Jul 2021

Covid-19 England - NOT amateur radio

My dad, who died in 1987, had some colourful language. One phrase he used was "they could not organise a piss up in a brewery". He would probably have said this now over the pingdemic, which is seeing many key workers having to self isolate.

I am sure intentions are good, but like much English government policy in the last 18 months this seems reactive rather than proactive and made up on the go. 

10m WSPR TX beacon using 500mW (Wednesday)

Most of the morning I've been on 10m WSPR TX using 500mW. As of 1015z 6 stations have spotted me. 

UPDATE 1117z:   Still 6 unique stations have spotted me with the furthermost EA8BFK (2880km).

6m FT8 QRP

 After a very brief TX period (2.5W) I am on 6m FT8 RX only with the V2000 omni antenna. It is now 0812z and 3 stations spotted with the furthermost EA7L (1739km). Early Es which is promising. My brief TX period resulted in 5 UK spots.

UPDATE 1113z:  35 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX.

10m WSPR yesterday

As we were out much of yesterday I was late on 10m WSPR TX. Nonetheless, there plenty of spots from South America. 10m WSPR never fails to amaze me. 

This is with the tiny self contained beacon (500mW) from Jay W5OLF

Me? - NOT amateur radio


Our son's kitten looking surprised. 

Sunspots - Wednesday July 28th 2021

 Solar flux is 80 and the SSN 25. A=6 and K=4.

27 Jul 2021

10m WSPR TX beacon

It is now 1555z and I have been on 10m WSPR TX for about 30 minutes with my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon TX. Nobody has spotted me yet. 

UPDATE 1747z: 5 stations have spotted me with the furthermost FY5KE (7110m) in South America.

6m FT8

 Apart from a very brief period on TX with 2.5W and the V2000 vertical omni (spotted by 4 Gs) I have been on 6m FT8 RX. Very quiet with nobody spotted. I have not been on too long. 

Stroke and autistic brains?

In the last few years I have noticed some changes. I am unsure if this is just old age or an after-effect of my stroke some years ago.

When I drive (or am driven) I seem to go slower than before: 50mph feels like 70mph.  Also, I am constantly aware of potential issues and dangers. It is if my brain is all the time aware of potential dangers on the roads. I am totally unable to relax. In fact I hate being driven or driving these days. This seems similar to how autistic people must feel.

Any medics here have any views?


Since moving to this QTH 8 years ago, I have a dedicated shack. When I was fitter, I did most of my building on the left and operating on the right overlooking our back garden. It is also used as a dumping ground when we have visitors prompting the XYL to complain how messy it is!! It is a "man cave".  😄

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

First Tomato - NOT amateur radio


A few days ago we harvested our first tomato. We hope this is the first of many.

English Churches - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday we visited some local churches in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire with our grandson who was keen to go. He is mad keen on bells and churches even though he is not a religious person. Even if you have no faith, England has some fine churches in some beautiful buildings and settings 

Sunspots - Tuesday July 27th 2021

 Solar flux is 81 and the SSN 25. A=4 and K=1.

26 Jul 2021

OFCOM proposes new licences for broadband satellite internet

OFCOM has proposed new licences to support broadband internet from low orbit satellites. See the OFCOM website for details.

6m FT8 RX (Monday)

For about 15 minutes, I have been on 6m FT8 RX with the V2000 vertical omni antenna. It is now 0910z and so far today 13 stations spotted.

10m WSPR QRP TX (Monday)

It is not long since I turned on my 500mW 10m WSPR TX beacon, but I have already had 10 unique stations spotting me. 

It looks a promising day on 10m Es.

Covid-19 - NOT amateur radio

The UK has suffered badly with high percentages due to the more infectious delta variant. 

However, the UK has seen a very high proportion of its adult population vaccinated. Also, many have antibodies as a result of previous infections. For several days case rates have been falling. We are far from "out of the woods" on this pandemic, but there are a few glimmers.

For yourselves and for others please get a vaccine.  Wear masks in crowds.

There are some ridiculous "fake news" stories around like with the vaccine they can read you bank account. This and other stories are plain stupid. If you want factual data, look at Dr John Campbell on YouTube. He is totally independent and often critical of governments. He is a reputable medical expert with over 1 million subscribers. He is often interviewed in the international media.

The vaccinations are painless, take a few seconds and any side effects likely to be mild and very short lived. Both my wife and I had no side effects with either jab.

The risks of getting ill with getting Covid-19 far outway the very small risks with the vaccines.

Get vaccinated!!!


The photo shows me breadboarding my 472kHz transverter some time ago when I was fit. This is probably beyond me now as my fine motor skills are far worse. 

I have not ventured into our loft since 2013 and I have lots of amateur gear up there! 

The final design was in QST some years ago and is on my website. It is also in an RSGB book.

Museum Fete - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday we had rain and thunder forecast. However it was dry with no thunder!

Our local museum next door had a summer fete which was successful. The photo shows the sea-shanty singers in action. They were very good. 

Near normal? 

Sunspots - Monday July 26th 2021

 Solar flux is 82 and the SSN 24.  A=3 and K=1.

25 Jul 2021

Storm threat stops play

Late this afternoon, I disconnected everything as we had the threat of thunder and lightning. This meant prematurely going QRT on 10m and 6m. All being well, I shall be on again on Monday morning. 

As it happened, the storms missed us. We heard distant thunder, but I suspect the actual storms were many miles away.

6m FT8 RX (Sunday)

Well, the days of unbelievable Es seem to be diminishing. There will still be openings, but not so often. They do not call it "the magic band"  for nothing! 6m has a habit of producing the totally unexpected, such as the Europe to Australia openings more than once of late. This is where FT8 or WSPR can be so useful as there can be lots of people monitoring on specific slots so even fleeting openings are noticed. This is much harder on CW or SSB.

This morning, I am again monitoring 6m FT8 RX, It is now 0857z and, so far this morning, 6 Gs spotted. I was very briefly on TX with 2.5W and the V2000 omni, but just spots by G stations.

No signs of Es here yet today on 6m.

UPDATE 1043z:   13 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX with the furthermost F5PSR

Stations spotted on
6m FT8 RX to 1417z
 (1020km). Es?

UPDATE 1505z:  Now 34 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX with the furthermost K0GU (7431km). Judging by the other reports, I think he is genuine. No other USA stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX today.

UPDATE 2121z:  QRT for many hours due to the storm risks. As Bas says in a comment below, Es can be good at any time, so it pays to be vigilant. I have had QRP SSB QSOs on 6m via Es as late as September. With FT8 or WSPR more openings will be spotted.

Oscar 100 activity

My regular peek at the narrow-band transponder was late Saturday morning in Europe. It was quiet! I really was expecting this to be far busier by now. It would appear this sort of operation is not liked by many. 

As I have said many times before, if one of the big manufacturers was offering a "black box" solution, I expect activity would be far greater. As it is, getting on the satellite is too hard for most who are cheque-book amateurs rather than true experimenters. 

What would a total solution cost? I suspect much less than £2k with everything needed including, rig, dish, feed, LNA, etc.. Remember, no towers, no beams, neighbour friendly, DX at any time, no QSB. In fact once set up, just chat!! I can see this appealing to many "black box" operators.

What seems to happen is the true experimenters like the challenge of getting going: building the kit, aiming the dish(es), sorting out the feed etc. Once this is done, many lose interest.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/ .

10m WSPR TX 500mW (Sunday)

As usual when I am monitoring 6m FT8 RX, I am on 10m WSPR TX with 500mW. The TX is 100% but changes frequency every slot to avoid being clobbered by a strong station.

So far (at 0820z) just G2XV (18km) spotting me. No sign of Es here yet.

UPDATE 0900z:   DK6UG (633km) has also spotted me. This could have been Es or off aircraft.

UPDATE 1507z: Just 3 different stations spotting me today. Unless things change, today looks disappointing.

Well nobody told me - NOT amateur radio

Our son has a new kitten. He has discovered how to climb on to the bird table. 

Watch out birds! 

Sunspots - Sunday July 25th 2021

Solar flux is 84 and the SSN 35.  A=4 and K=0. 

24 Jul 2021

Sweet peas - NOT amateur radio

 The photo shows the sweet peas my brother picked just yesterday. So far this year, we have had one flower!! He must be doing something right and us not!! 

50th wedding anniversary - NOT amateur radio

Gosh, we must be so old

We are celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary today. In some ways that day in 1971 seems like yesterday. I have no idea how those years have flown by. Since then we have 2 boys and 4 grandchildren.

Both of us were several stones lighter then and I still had hair! Most of my hair went when I was in my twenties.

Advice? Enjoy every moment, as time goes by very quickly.

6m FT8 (2.5W to the V2000 vertical omni)

Although I have been spotted by 6 G stations, there is no evidence here of Es yet. I have spotted just 3 Gs this morning on 6m FT8 RX.

As time goes by Es openings become rarer.

10m WSPR

For a while I had assumed that most 10m WSPR users had migrated to FT8 instead, but I was so wrong.

In the last 2 weeks I have been spotted by 102 different stations on 10m WSPR with 500mW from my W5OLF 10m WSPR beacon. I have used this for many years and works as well now as it ever has.

I tend to leave the tiny 10m WSPR TX beacon on when I look on 6m FT8 RX.

No spots of me yet today.

Sunspots - Saturday July 24th 2021

Solar flux is 87 and the SSN 46. A=4 and K=2. 

23 Jul 2021

8m band history

 I was totally unaware of some of the historical allocations at 8m. It seems there are historical precedents.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8-meter_band .

8m USA beacon spotted on WSPR in Europe

Yesterday, I gather the WL2XUP 8m beacon was spotted in England. WSPR works with signals much weaker than FT8. No doubt EI7GL's blog will have more details shortly.

10m WSPR TX 500mW (Thursday)

A great day yesterday with reports from 60 different stations. Many reported me many times. I think this was my best day this Es season on 10m WSPR TX.  The last was a spot from the USA. I had to go QRT, but would probably have had more reports if I had stayed on.

Click on the chart to enlarge if need be.

Salcombe - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows a view very much like the view I had from my window at my junior school. It was all taken for granted. 

Looking back at my childhood in Salcombe, I had no idea how lucky I was.

10m WSPR TX 500mW (Friday)

At 0822z, my 10m WSPR beacon was turned on. 

UPDATE 1205z:   So far today, spots by 20 unique stations.

UPDATE 1304z:  I see John EI7GL spotted me 10 times with SNR varying by 8dB. This is typical of Es: sometimes signals can be incredibly strong.

6m FT8 RX yesterday

What an odd day on the Magic Band! 

More North Americans than I have spotted all summer. Remember this is just with the V2000 omni vertical antenna. In all, 633 stations spotted on 6m FT8. 

When I went on TX briefly, there was no problem being spotted all over Europe with 2.5W.

Wild flowers - NOT amateur radio

We live next door to a fully restored windmill. These wild flowers are  next to it. Stunning.

Sunspots - Friday July 23rd 2021

Solar flux is 89 and the SSN 77.  A=11 and K=1. 

22 Jul 2021

Summer - NOT amateur radio

On the way to the shops yesterday morning I passed these flowers. There were lots of bees and butterflies on them. High summer.

Ian Vance G3WMS

Back in the late 1960s I was at university with Ian. Under him, the Liverpool university radio club G3OUL thrived. He ended up with a 2:2 degree, but went on to head Nortel and get an MBE. He was a natural RF engineer and brilliant. I think he died a few years ago. It was a privilege to know him.

He was a mad keen radio amateur.

Finningley rally is on!!

For ages now we have had news of rallies being cancelled or postponed so it is great to report on a rally actually happening! This is this Sunday July 25th and is outside only.  Doors open at 10am. Take and wear masks to keep yourself and others safe when with crowds. This is near J2 of the M18. Contact organisers before setting out.  The website is www.g0ghk.com/cbr21.

Norway - NOT amateur radio

This was on 365project yesterday. 

10m QRP WSPR TX with 500mW (Thursday)

Most of the morning I have been on 10m WSPR TX with 500mW. Apart from lots of local spots by G2XV (18km), nothing yet.

UPDATE 1455z:  DK6UG (633km) has also spotted me this afternoon.

6m FT8 (Thursday)

Most of the morning, I have been on 6m FT8. apart from a few moments earlier on QRP TX (8 G spots), I have been RX only. 41 stations copied by what seems like Es.  Antenna still the V2000 vertical omni.

UPDATE 1452z: 84 stations spotted, but quite a few from North America. The map show the stations spotted so far today on 6m FT8.

Long tailed tit 5 years ago - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows a young long tailed tit on our bird table in 2016.

Sunspots - Friday July 22nd 2021

 Solar flux is 94 and the SSN 86.A=6 and K=2. 

21 Jul 2021

Video channel

Periodically, I like to remind people of my G3XBM video channel that includes more details about quite a few projects.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/other-amateur-radio/video-channel

10m WSPR TX (Wednesday)

Since about 0820z, I have been on 10m WSPR TX (100%, 500mW).  So far, no spots of me.

UPDATE 0934z: Just 1 G spot so far from G2XV (18km).

UPDATE 1217z: Spots by 3 stations so far today. 

6m FT8 QRP (Wednesday)

After a very brief period on TX with 2.5W and the V2000 omni (6 G spots of me), I am now on RX only. So far, at 0830z, no spots of others. I guess 6m Es openings will be far less often now.

UPDATE 0937z: Some Es, but not much. So far this morning 9 spots with the furthermost IW7DLE (1860km).

Stations spotted
to 1020z
UPDATE 1020z: 25 stations spotted. 

UPDATE 1222z: 45 stations spotted. Es after a slow start. 

50th wedding anniversary - NOT amateur radio

This weekend we will have been married 50 years. We're did the years go? 

This is a photo of us in our garden yesterday. 

We look a bit older than we we got married! 

Resurfacing - NOT amateur radio

They are resurfacing some of the roads out of our village and closing some roads whilst they do this. The photo shows the roller used.

What Yaesu SHOULD have done with the FT818

When their replacement for the FT817ND was announced most people groaned that they could miss out on such an opportunity. 

Way back in 2010 I suggested a possible successor. They did something that, in my view, was totally pathetic and underwhelming totally "missing the boat" and doing the minimum to overcome supply issues and nothing to make it a decent step forward.

The photo shows what many of us were hoping for 11 years ago!!

Since then they have had some fine SDR transceivers, but no attempt to get into the QRP portable market leaving many people to wonder if they have lost their way or have no money or are considering leaving the market. 

My message is simple - Yaesu wake up!!

Sunspots - Wednesday July 21st 2021

Solar flux is 87 and the SSN 59.  A=10 and K=2.

20 Jul 2021

Thunder stops play

As we had thunderstorms after lunch, I turned off 10m WSPR and 6m FT8 as well as the PSU and PC. The storm has passed, but I shall wait until the morning before reconnecting things.

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

Lesser Chirpy Transceiver

You can guess why this has this name! 

The first version had too much chirp, whereas this has virtually no chirp at all. It is a "for fun" rig for 10m CW with very few parts, that I am sure can be improved.

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

New OFCOM report on emerging internet technologies

OFCOM has produced a new report on technologies that could shape the future of the internet. See the OFCOM website for more details.

As it is quite long, I have only read the summary so far, but I did not realise that 51% of the world's people now use the internet and that its use has grown 12 fold since 2010.

Orchids - NOT amateur radio

My wife has a way with orchids, many lasting for years. One secret is not over-watering giving them just a thimble of water a week. 

At the moment, I think we have seven on the go.

6m FT8 (Tuesday)

After a brief session on 2.5W TX (5 UK spots of me, but no QSOs) I am RX only. 3 UK stations spotted so far.  At the moment (0805z) it seems there is no Es noticeable here. As before, my antenna is the V2000 omni vertical.

UPDATE 0840z:  Just 6 G stations spotted so far today. At this time yesterday 6m FT8 was really good. I guess as time progresses we will still get openings, but less often.

UPDATE 1010z:   17 stations spotted so far. Just recently, a couple in the Ukraine spotted, probably by Es

10m WSPR

Been on 10m WSPR TX (500mW) since 0752z. Nobody has spotted me yet.

UPDATE 1014z:  Still nobody has spotted me yet. 

UPDATE 1119z:  2 spots of my QRP so far today. At least this beacon can just quietly run in the background.

6m FT8 yesterday

503 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX yesterday. This was a good Es day on 6m FT8 RX. 

Oh to be young! - NOT amateur radio

My grandson surfing. He has good balance, unlike his grandfather! 

He looks a natural.

I was like that, but it was a very long time ago!

6m Europe to Australia (again)

According to John's blog, there was another Europe to Australia opening on 6m. The furthermost was over 17000km, which is quite mind blowing on a VHF band. This is not a pirate as multiple stations were involved. Amazing!  This seems extremely unlikely to be multi-hop Es. I am sure we have lots to learn still!

Also on the blog is a report of the South African 8m beacon being copied in SE England.

See https://ei7gl.blogspot.com/ .

Gatekeeper butterfly - NOT amateur radio

Butterflies are in decline, so we have been asked to do a survey to work out how many there are.

See https://bigbutterflycount.butterfly-conservation.org/about .

Sunspots - Tuesday July 20th 2021

Solar flux is 83 and the SSN 45.  A=7 and K=3.

19 Jul 2021

OFCOM statement

OFCOM has committed to make innovation the heart of UK wireless future. 

I hope this means access to more spectrum for serious radio amateurs interested in real radio science. See the OFCOM website. 

Would not access to some spectrum on a shared, non interference, basis be a good idea?

Switzerland - NOT amateur radio

This, I think, is Lake Geneva. It was posted by a friend on 365project earlier. They have had quite heavy rain there in the last few days.


I keep forgetting that when I am on 6m FT8, I can go on 10m WSPR TX as this uses a different antenna. As of 1014z, I am on 10m WSPR TX with 500mW, 100%, but randomised frequencies. 

So far, spotted by HB9TMC at -7dB S/N (strong). This was at 1026z.

UPDATE 1613z:  33 stations have spotted me today so far (see table).  A pretty good day.  Es has been good today.

UPDATE 1925z: Now 37 stations have spotted my 500mW 10m WSPR with the furthermost spots (5) by FY5KE (7110km) in South America.

6m FT8 RX

Since about 0845z, I have been on 6m FT8 RX. It is now 1004z. So far 103 stations spotted on RX. 

UPDATE 1030z:  So far this morning, 116 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX with the V2000 vertical omni antenna. Good Es.

UPDATE 1326z:  So far today, 167 stations spotted on 6m FT8 RX. Most are by Es.

UPDATE 1915z: 479 stations so far spotted on 6m FT8 RX today with the V2000 omni. Nothing transatlantic here.

10m FT8

Once again, after a brief session on 2.5W TX (11 spots of my TX, but no QSOs), I am RX only. So far (at 0730z) 41 stations spotted.

UPDATE 0740z:  67 stations spotted 10m FT8 RX. This looks like a mix of Es and F2.

2m activity contest (UKAC) results

 The results have been published by the RSGB. I am still in the same position in the low power section.

Masks in England - NOT amateur radio

 Today, July 19th, is supposed to be "freedom day" in England when most Covid-19 laws end. 

It was interesting that going to the bakers this morning, nothing had changed. All customers and staff were wearing masks and still only 2 customers inside at a time. From the BBC Breakfast Time it looked like Manchester airport was quiet.

Now, of course, there will be some stupid, selfish people that will go mad. Hopefully, enough people will remain sensible to keep Covid-19 infections low enough.

Personally, I wish the government had mandated wearing of masks in shops and public transport. This is about protecting others and, ultimately, freeing society. By being selfish now, people are probably endangering freedoms later.

Sunspots - Monday July 19th 2021

Solar flux is 80 and the SSN 42.  A=4 and K=2. 

18 Jul 2021

40MHz experimental station in the USA

According to John's blog there is an experimental station WL2XUP active in the USA on the 8m band. As time progresses a bigger antenna and more power are planned.

Is this the first of many?

See https://ei7gl.blogspot.com/ .

Herd Immunity? - NOT amateur radio

With regard to the current Covid-19 pandemic, it looks like the English government is (again) trying for herd immunity. 

This was last tried briefly in spring 2020. There is little doubt that cases will rise, but hopefully most cases will be mild. This time around, many have been fully vaccinated. Many have had the disease and recovered. Antibodies could be much higher than spring 2020.

This is a gamble. It may not work, but it might.

Whatever happens, we cannot "go mad". The virus is still here and new variants could be imported from abroad.

I wish the English government would abandon self isolation and replace this with daily testing. This seems a far better way, with far fewer economic impacts and just as safe.


The FT817/818 has appeared in a few guises, but Yaesu has totally "missed the boat" with regard to a really competitive replacement. 

It is still a decent radio, covering all the HF bands, 6m, 2m and 70cm with all modes. It may be used at home or out portable, but some quite small changes could transform it. 

My feelings are that Yaesu has lost its way and become, at best, a follower rather than a leader. I have owned several Yaesu radios since the 1970s. I really hope they "get on their game" soon.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/commercial-rigs/yaesu-ft817nd

Runner beans - NOT amateur radio

As an experiment this year, I am growing runner beans. These were planted in a shady spot and I quite expected them to fail, or be eaten by the Muntjac Deer.  

Actually (as the photo shows) thay are doing pretty well. In a month they have shot up and are now in the sunlight most of the day. The flowers are attractive and there are already some runner beans appearing. 

In the background are wild flowers and "our" windmill (due to be repainted soon).

As you can tell, apart from a few tomatoes, I am not a great vegetable grower, although next year I might try a few more things.

Anglesey Abbey - NOT amateur radio

This collage was taken in the herbaceous garden at nearby Anglesey Abbey. This is at its best now. Shortly, it starts to turn and look "tired".

10m FT8 (Sunday)

Apart from a very brief spell on TX with 2.5W (7 spots of my TX), I am RX only. I went on about 0635z. So far today (at 0845z) 231 stations spotted on RX. Most seem to be by Es. It looks like Es is good today.

UPDATE 0944z:  316 stations spotted (see map).

UPDATE 1512z:  814 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX so far in the last 12 hours.


Since we moved to this QTH almost 8 years ago, I have a dedicated shack for building and operating. Often I monitor FT8 on a different PC in the lounge.

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

Lockdown easing in England - NOT amateur radio

 On Monday there is a significant easing of Covid-19 regulations in England. The government is gambling that although cases will rise, many people will not die or be hospitalised.  Sensible people will still wear masks in crowded places to safeguard other people whilst idiots will be idiots. I can understand why this is happening, but disappointed that the government is not going for "quick wins" by mandating mask wearing in shops and public transport. This has widespread support. 

In the absence of this, let us hope that enough sensible people wear masks to stop infections rising putting younger people at great risk.

I saw this on Facebook:

"When I wear a mask in public and in the shops, I want you to know that...

🔵 I'm educated enough to know that I could be asymptomatic and still give you the virus.

🔵 No, I don't "live in fear" of the virus; I just want to be part of the solution, not the problem.

🔵 I don't feel like the "government controls me". I feel like I'm an adult contributing to security in our society and I want to teach others the same.

🔵 If we could all live with the consideration of others in mind, the whole world would be a much better place.

🔵 Wearing a mask doesn't make me weak, scared, stupid or even "controlled". Makes me caring.

🔵 When you think about your appearance, discomfort, or other people's opinion of you, imagine a loved one - a child, father, mother, grandparent, aunt, uncle or even a stranger - placed on a ventilator, alone without you or any family member who is allowed at his bedside.

🔵 Ask yourself if you could have helped them a little while wearing a mask".

Sunspots - Sunday July 18th 2020

 Solar flux is 77 and the SSN 53. A=4 and K=1.

17 Jul 2021

RadCom article

The August RadCom has my article about the 10FT8R receiver for 10m FT8. It is very simple but works well. I hope it gives you some ideas.

It would make a nice winter project. Ideally it needs a PCB. It should cost very little. With low cost GQRP Club crystals it is also suitable for 10m WSPR. I was surprised by how much WSPR there was on 10m. 

Clematis - NOT amateur radio

This is growing over our garden fence from a neighbour's garden. I am not complaining! 

St Ives, near Cambridge - NOT amateur radio

Many people in the UK know of St Ives in Cornwall where the G7 recently met. Few are aware of the other St Ives near Cambridge. 

The run from Cambridge to St Ives on the guided bus goes past lakes and is very attractive. Sit back and enjoy the run. Of course, if you are a UK Old Age Pensioner with a bus pass this can be totally free!

St Ives has some great history and is a good place to visit. This photo was posted on 365project earlier today by a friend.

10m FT8

After a brief period on TX with 2.5W QRP  (I worked one F) I am now 10m FT8 RX only.  It is now 0920z and 51 stations received.

All being well, I hope to let Richard G3TFX have my 10m multi-mode Lincoln President II on indefinite loan. This is thanks for all his hard work on my antennas. It is so long since I used this that I forget how to use it!

UPDATE 2029z:  374 stations spotted so far on 10m FT8 RX including North and South America, the Caribbean and St Helena (ZD7) The furthermost was YV1SW (7862km).

New strimmer - NOT amateur radio

 After several years of good service, my strimmer packed up, so I bought a new one. Firstly the supplied written instructions needed a degree or PhD in astrophysics to follow. I gave up and looked on YouTube for an instruction video from the manufacturer. 

I watched many many times. These were better, but not by much. The last stage was adding the steadying handle. What the video failed to explain was that you had to pull something at the same time!

In all, I was not at all impressed. My last strimmer came assembled and just worked.

If it goes wrong, I have no idea how to disassemble it to return under guarantee as most assembly steps assumed you waited for a click. Perhaps you need a PhD in theoretical physics for that!

I assume this too was made in China by slave labour and is designed to fail just after the guarantee expires.

VLF 10 years ago

Ten years ago I was very active on VLF. The photo shows the earth mode signal 6km away with 5W. 

Lockdown painting - NOT amateur radio

One of our friends in Australia has been using the lockdown periods to paint.  She is very talented.  The attached is an example of her work. 

Sunspots - Saturday July 17th 2021

Solar flux is 75 and the SSN 35. A=4 and K=1.

16 Jul 2021

IC-705 firmware upgrade

ICOM has announced that the firmware for the IC-705 has been upgraded to v1.26.

See https://www.icomjapan.com/support/firmware_driver/3343/

Yaesu cashback

The latest MLS "Something for the weekend" video has news of the Yaesu cashback offers. They have some great deals and a free PSU on some models.

10GHz homebrew

Confession time: I have done very little on microwaves.  My excuse is that, in such a diverse hobby, one cannot do everything. 

Instead, I did some work at 481THz optical with results far exceeding expectations. Test gear was easy to make as was all the actual operating kit.

Many have accessed microwaves with very low cost modules obtainable online. With many of these, the microwave engineering is minimal or non-existent. Many have experimented with ATV at 5.6GHz and 10GHz this way. Several have made wideband FM transceivers at 10GHz this way.

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