30 Sept 2021
Museum duty - NOT amateur radio
The photo shows some of the things on sale at our local museum next door. We volunteer to help there.
Season of mists... - NOT amateur radio
The 48th Welsh Radio Rally, due to be held Sunday October 3rd in Newport, has been cancelled, presumably over Covid-19 fears. I have no further information.
Let's hope things are OK for next year.
10m FT8 RX (Thursday)
Since about 0825z I have been on 10m FT8 RX. So far today, 2 stations have been spotted after 5 minutes. One did not appear on PSKreporter.
Improving HF conditions
We know conditions can vary day-to-day (some days can be bad), but on the whole things are getting better. We are now well on the upslopes towards the peak of sunspot cycle 25 and we can expect generally improving conditions for some years. Certainly 10m seems better.
8m NoV (getting the latest draft)
The latest draft NoV is on my website. Some cannot see the embedded document, so I have added a link to the shared document. If your browser prevents seeing the embedded document click the link instead.
The document should be shared for viewing. I do not think you can edit it, but if you can please do not change it. Instead save a copy for yourself and amend/improve this. Tell me how it could be improved. We all want applications to succeed.
This is the webpage: https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/vhfuhfmicrowaves/8m-band
Sunspots - Thursday September 30th 2021
Solar flux is 102 and the SSN 74. A=5 and K=2.
29 Sept 2021
8m TX permit - a reminder to self!
Well before the next Es season, I intend to apply for an NoV to allow me to TX experimentally on 8m. I have no idea whether or not this will be successful.
At the moment, I want to be able to TX FT8, WSPR or CW between the months of March 2022 and the end of October 2022. All these are narrowband modes, which helps. The most I can run is 10W, so I shall apply for this. With Es I am sure 2.5W would be enough to be copied all over Europe. All this depends on my FT817ND being able to TX on 8m! I have not tried this yet.
DraftD (not yet submitted) is linked. I propose to send the final version to OFCOM and the RSGB. If you can think of ways to improve it, please let me know as soon as possible.
Anyone care to join me? You may want to amend it as identical submissions might look odd! Hopefully some of us will be successful.
See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/vhfuhfmicrowaves/8m-band .
10m propagation improving
John, EI7GL's blog notes some good E-W F2 openings on 10m in recent days. 10m is getting good again.
As John says, if we get good propagation in September, it should be even better in October and November. I am predicting that we will see good 10m openings to the USA in late October. It has already been possible, but when 10m is really open, you will know! Expect S9 SSB signals from the eastern USA.
With luck, we will also see AM signals just above 29MHz. In the past I have worked USA stations on AM when I was using QRP AM.
When good, 10m really is good. May the good days ahead be enjoyed. With luck, 10m could be good for many years.
Chromebooks - NOT amateur radio
If I eventually replace it, I see the new version has twice the RAM and SDD size and is about one third of the price of a Windows machine. It boots in seconds and never once do you have to wait when Windoze is doing yet another update.
Mine can be used as a tablet too and the battery still lasts all day.
Geosynchronous Oscar 100
As many will know, I take a peek at activity on the narrowband transponder of this geosynchronous satellite that has been going for about 18 months. I do this by looking at the Goonhilly based web SDR.
My conclusion is still that this satellite is very underused.
In a way this is surprising as, once set up, you can work half the world with ease with no QSB at any time. No beams, no towers, no linears are needed. Once aimed, the small dish is fixed for ever. There is no local noise to fight. All very neighbour friendly! I guess the lack of commercial offerings puts off "black box" operators. To get active requires a brain, not a purse. I am sure that if one of the Japanese manufacturers made a "black box" solution, things would rapidly change. I guess the risk of it failing and the lack of volumes puts them off.
As mentioned before, it seems keen people enjoy the challenge of getting active, then lose interest. Most activity seems to be from Europe although I have spotted Thailand, South Africa and Brazil. It is odd spotting all of these just like a local!
Plaque - NOT amateur radio
10m FT8 RX (Wednesday)
Since about 0825z, I have been on 10m FT8 RX. So far, 4 stations spotted with the furthermost OD5SK (3433km). The rest are Gs.
The photo shows Corfu some years ago. It was a Facebook memory from several years ago. We do 365project every day and have done since 2013. Great fun looking back.
Sunspots - Wednesday September 29th 2021
Solar flux is 89 and the SSN is 57. A=10 and K=1 .
28 Sept 2021
This is a band I have never tried. Some people take it very seriously and employ narrowband techniques. Others "play" at the band using wideband FM (WBFM), much as is done with 10GHz.
There are Doppler radar modules available which look as if they could be used at 24GHz. With such units there is almost no need for microwave engineering.
With such units at the focus of dishes, ranges could be surprising. I have never seen designs for 24GHz WBFM units. If you find any, please send me links.
Ranges of a few kilometres might be possible with just the modules alone.
See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/vhfuhfmicrowaves/homebrew/24ghz .
UK fuel shortages - NOT amateur radio
Even in our rural Cambridgeshire village the queue was huge (miles long) and the village garage was soon dry. The photo show part of the queue yesterday. They had a new delivery earlier, but there was no diesel.
You can now understand why an Orson Wells radio play of 1938 about Martians caused widespread panic in the USA.
10m FT8 RX (Tuesday)
F2 DX coming through from all over today. It is now 1430z and 62 stations spotted from all over the place on 10m FT8 RX.
UPDATE 1940z: So far today, 229 stations on 4 continents spotted on 10m FT8 RX.
UPDATE 2023z: It has been quiet on 10m for some time now, suggesting the propagation has ended. QRT soon.
UPDATE 2118z: QRT.
Ely Cathedral - NOT amateur radio
It is not called "the ship of the fens" for nothing!
According to my Facebook memories today I was using a Sputnik QRP TX built by G6ALB 10 years ago. See the photo. I was surprised to get a QSO so soon after its completion. I think I was chief operator as I could use a CW key!
Sunspots - Tuesday September 28th 2021
Solar flux is 85 and the SSN 30. A=7 and K=2.
27 Sept 2021
10m FT8 QRP (Monday)
At about 0930z I went on 10m FT8 with 2.5W QRP. I was on TX for a few minutes, but now am RX only. No spots given or received so far.
Although I have a separate area for building and for operating, I tend to use FT8 mostly these days and monitor on a separate PC in the lounge. Building and fault finding are much harder now. I can get to the operating spot in seconds.
I still use the shack for FM nets weekly and UKAC operation 2m and 70cm activity. The shack has probably the best views in the house, hence the binoculars!
See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/other-amateur-radio/shack .
10m FT8 yesterday
We are definitely moving from a band that comes alive in the Es season to more a band for F2 DX.
For those with sticking power, there is DX to be found at any part of the solar cycle, although in the quiet years there are often fewer people on 10m making things even harder.
Yesterday, the better stations were calling VK on 10m. As the solar cycle progresses, we can expect more openings, more often, on 10m. It is worth keeping an eye on FT8 or WSPR.
For several days South American stations have been romping in. No doubt those with serious stations will be copying far more than me! As you know, I run QRP to a low wire endfed.
Global warming - NOT amateur radio
Sunspots - Monday September 27th 2021
Solar flux is 86 and the SSN 67. A=3 and K=3.
26 Sept 2021
V2000 vertical omni
It is used on 6m, 2m and 70cm. Apart from just recently,it has worked faultlessly. Richard G3TFX took it apart, cleaned it, added new coax, and re-erected it. It seems to work like new again.
The photo was taken 8 years ago after it was first erected at this QTH.
Moulton packhorse bridge - NOT amateur radio
Centuries ago this was the main road from Cambridge to Bury-St-Edmunds in Suffolk, UK. You can imagine packhorses being driven across this bridge laden with goods.
A reminder that my new webpages have a grabber. This is mainly on 10m FT8, although occasionally it is looking somewhere else. You can see what I am spotting.
Some browsers do not like embedding as this can pose a security risk. There are work-arounds, but if you are not sure, do not.
See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/10m-ft8-grabber .
Anglesey Abbey - NOT amateur radio
We are lucky to have this place just a few miles away. The house is cosy and the grounds are huge. Even when the car park is full, it is easy to find quiet spots.
We walk here most weeks. It is owned by the National Trust, so we get free entry with our annual membership. Every season there is something to see.
10m in the months ahead
When conditions are good, I have worked USA SSB stations with 2.5W from indoors with just a whip!
10m (28MHz) remains one of my favourite bands. At dead of night and in the quiet solar years, it acts more like a VHF band. In the Es season it is good for DX up to 1500km often, and occasionally much further. In the better years there is worldwide DX via F layer. Antennas can be small and simple. Often QRP only is needed.
See https://www.cqww.com/ .
See also https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/10m-operation .
Dahlia collage - NOT amateur radio
10m FT8 QRP (Sunday)
At about 0840z, I went on 10m FT8 with 2.5W for a few minutes, then RX only. I spot of my QRP by GM4WJA (624km) and 3 Gs spotted by 0856z. I notice that some Gs are calling VK6.
UPDATE 1035z: 23 stations spotted. Mostly these are Gs, although the furthermost was IZ7NLJ (1770km) in the heel of Italy. All Europe so far.
UPDATE 1113z: 25 stations so far spotted on RX.
Sunspots - Sunday September 26th 2021
Solar flux is 88 and the SSN 38. A=7 and K=0.
25 Sept 2021
Where I come from in South Devon - NOT amateur radio
Neighbour's flowers - NOT amateur radio
10m FT8 QRP (Saturday)
Although I have been on 10m FT8 for about 15 minutes (it is now 0825z), no spots on 2.5W TX or RX so far.
UPDATE 1030z: 9 stations spotted on RX so far, with the furthermost EA7CBQ (1739km).
Autumn jewels - NOT amateur radio
Sunspots - Saturday September 25th 2021
Solar flux is 88 and the SSN 75. A=8 and K=1.
24 Sept 2021
472kHz transverter fault
I think the issue is that the oscillator has stopped for some reason: I can detect nothing at 3.2MHz on a nearby RX. I shall look again at the weekend as now I am so so tired! Just a few minutes is so taxing now.
This may be as simple as a dry joint. I guess the first thing to try is retouching all the solder joints in the oscillator. It is most likely to be this. I had a diode probe, but I have not seen it for years! I guess I should check the DC volts around the oscillator before doing this.
In the end, the aim is to TX again on 630m QRP. Before the fault arose my measured ERP was just under 10mW. This regularly was spotted on WSPR in Norway.
National Hamfest - virtual again
As Covid-19 is still having an impact, this large UK rally is being held virtually again.
Like many boring old farts (BOFs), I am appalled by the spelling on the main page, which is seen by thousands. Does nobody check?
OFCOM Commonweath Games Licences
OFCOM is issuing licences for communications at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next year. See the OFCOM website for more details.
Pixies and the Micro-80
Both use the PA as the mixer on RX. The RX is the compromise although both work. Pixie kits were available as kits from China at very low cost. I bought one for 40m, with a crystal on 7.023MHz. If you get one you may want to consider crystals on 7.030MHz which is the QRP calling frequency in Europe. These crystals are available at low cost.
See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/homebrew/8040m-pixie-and-micro80-transceivers .
Corpus Christi College, Cambridge - NOT amateur radio
This college in Cambridge was founded in 1352.
10m FT8 QRP (Friday)
Since 0800z, I have been on 10m FT8. As usual, I was on 2.5W TX for a few minutes, then RX only. It is now 0811z and no spots given or received yet. It is still very early.
UPDATE 0835z: Just a spot of me on TX by G0FWX (160km).
UPDATE 1300z: 11 stations spotted on RX with furthermost D60AC(8211km) on the Comoros Is in the Indian Ocean.
Yesterday on 10m FT8 RX
Yesterday was quite a good day on 10m FT8 RX. There were stations spotted on RX from Indonesia, Africa, South America and Europe. On the whole, there is less Es and more F2 DX.
Shack in 2012
Sunspots - Friday September 24th 2021
Solar flux is 90 and the SSN 75. A=11 and K=3.
23 Sept 2021
Yaesu VX series
These were tiny dual-band FM handhelds produced by Yaesu.
In the past I have used these (I have a VX1 and VX2) on both 2m and 70cm simplex and repeaters. Many found the supplied antenna not as good as they could be and they replaced these with better ones.
These days, many have bought much less expensive Beofeng units, although the quality control on these seems a bit hit and miss.
At the moment the Chinese manufacturers seem to have work to do to get amateur radio products to the same consistent quality we are used to from Japan. They will get there, but it may take a few years. When Chinese products get to the same quality and consistency we are used to from Japan the Japanese will face serious competition.
See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/vhfuhfmicrowaves/vhfuhf-commercial-rigs/yaesu-vx2 .
Daddy long legs - NOT amateur radio
Cambridge - NOT amateur radio
People come from all over the world to see some of the sights we take for granted and for free. All these are within a few hundred metres on the same street. As a local we get free entry into the colleges.
Rally on (I think!)
As far as I know the Weston Super Mare rally is ON this Sunday September 26th, but as always check with the organisers before setting out on a long journey.
Corpus College, Cambridge - NOT amateur radio
It is hard to believe but I have lived in Cambridge for over half a century and never once been in Corpus College. We went in today. This is a photo of one of the quads.
10m FT8 QRP (Thursday)
At 0811z, I went on 10m FT8. Initially I was on TX with 2.5W, but now am RX only. No spots yet at 0858z.
UPDATE 1632z: So far today, 91 stations spotted on RX in 4 continents with the furthermost VP8LP (12773km).
UPDATE 2030z: 106 stations spotted on RX today.
Kindness of radio amateurs
As many know I had a stroke 8 years ago and can no longer do some of the things I used to enjoy.
Several times in the last few years I have been struck by how kind some people are. I won't name them, but 2 have offered to build my Phaser kit, one to fix my transverter for 472kHz and someone else did a schematic for me and has sent a ferrite antenna and crystals. Someone sent me some sensitive earpieces and I have been sent crystals and a clock. I am sure I have forgotten something, but you get the drift.
This was pure kindness and generosity. I have been so impressed with the sheer kindness of others. They wanted nothing in return. Thank you so very much.
The ham spirit is alive and well. If you can, do something kind for others and keep the amateur spirit alive.
As I have often said, there are far more kind people than bad people, but kindness is not newsworthy.
Thank you again.
Ely - NOT amateur radio
Sunspots - Thursday September 23rd 2021
Solar flux is 89 and the SSN 76. A=12 and K=3.
22 Sept 2021
Cambs Net Wednesday 2m FM 1900z
Every Wednesday evening the Cambridge Radio Club (CDARC) has a net on 145.55MHz FM at 1900z. It usually lasts just over 30 minutes. We recently combined this with the East Cambs Net that used to meet on Mondays. The same people were largely on.
With my poor voice, this is quite a challenge, but I try to come on if I can. It helps when there are several people on so I don't have to speak that often, HI.
Usually I run 10W to my V2000 vertical omni. Last time I forgot to connect the PSU, so was running 5W from the battery on the IC-705.
Anyone is warmly welcomed. You do not have to be a CDARC member.
Ely - NOT amateur radio
Blackberry picking - NOT amateur radio
10m FT8 RX (Wednesday)
By mistake, I left my 10m FT8 RX running overnight. Late last night, 1 G was spotted calling CQ, but nothing was spotted overnight.
My antenna is a low Par end-fed dipole at about 3m above ground.
So far today just a spot of PA0KGB (278km) on RX.
UPDATE 1715z: 34 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today with the furthermost PT2VHF (8874km) in Brazil. Seems to be quite quiet at the moment.
UPDATE 2016z: A brief period on TX was spotted by M0NKR (27km). No further spots on RX.
Religions - NOT amateur radio
As a youth, I was quite a good Christian. As I got older, I have become less sure what I believe. I think agnostic best describes me: I am unsure.
It seems to me that all world religions hint at something beyond ourselves. It puzzles me that, depending on where we are in the world, we are Christians, Jews, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Taos, Dos etc. All cannot be totally wrong. It seems amazing to me that in different cultures different religions take hold.
There has always been an element of trying to "sell" a particular religion to a different culture with the chosen religion always being "right".
Most wars and conflicts have religions at their heart, sadly.
No, I think all religions are hints and try to explain our finite lives. Not one religion succeeds in my view.
Shetland - NOT amateur radio
The photo shows Compass Head in the Shetland Islands. It was on 365project yesterday. Shetland is the most northerly part of Scotland and at one time belonged to Norway, a country with which these islands have close links even today.
GQRP club sales
Just seen this message from Steve G1KQH:
"Graham G3MFJ is currently in hospital so club sales is closed until further notice. Please send no orders and make no enquiries about components until you hear from us.
If you have already placed an order then we will appreciate your patience as it can't obviously be dealt with.
I have no information further to this. I bought a SPRAT on a stick only quite recently. Quite a few people use GQRP club sales. Let us hope this is nothing too serious.
Sunspots - Wednesday September 22nd 2021
Solar flux is 85 and the SSN 50. A=8 and K=2.
21 Sept 2021
472kHz WSPR QRP TX
I really should try to find the fault in my 472kHz transverter.
At first, I thought it was my earth-electrode antenna, so I completely replaced the wire. The output FET was replaced.
If my brain was less foggy I am sure I could get to the bottom of it and find what is wrong. With 10mW ERP (measured) it was regularly making it to Norway.
There are a lot of people monitoring, but few on TX.
See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/homebrew/630m-472khz-transverter .
A reminder that a lot of my past projects are on my website.
On my video channel you can find videos about my projects.
I hope you can be inspired by these sources. Nothing would please me more than if these were a springboard for your own projects. Probably all my projects can be improved, so don't be afraid to experiment.
Lunch with a view in Ely - NOT amateur radio
What a mess - NOT amateur radio
We have fought wars in Afghanistan of about 200 years. We left ignominiously recently having spent billions along with the USA. The latest cock-up is revealing the identities and photos of interpreters whose lives are now in mortal danger.
I am conflicted, but feel after the last 20 years we have spent a lot of money and achieved very little. Maybe we should learn the lessons of history. There is little doubt over the original aims after 9/11. Nation building was never, publicly, an aim.
10m FT8 QRP (Tuesday)
Following my usual pattern, I went on 10m FT8 TX with 2.5W for a few minutes and then RX only. No spots given or received and no QSOs.
UPDATE 0902z: 2 spots on RX with furthermost F5RD (681km).
Kingsbridge Devon many years ago - NOT amateur radio
This photo probably dates from the 1940s or 1950s and shows the main street in Kingsbridge where I lived for much of my teenage years.
137kHz tests with an E-field probe mobile
Before my stroke, I did some mobile tests on 137kHz QRSS QRP using an EFP with an FT817 RX. The EFP was mounted on a mag mount. Results totally exceeded my expectations. After I reached 24km, I gave up. This was with a very low ERP (uWs).
See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/antennas/137khz-efp-rx-antenna .
A world away - NOT amateur radio
Sunspots - Tuesday September 21st 2021
Solar flux is 80 and the SSN 51. A=3 and K=3.
20 Sept 2021
Because of my poor building skills, a very kind amateur in Scotland has built and tested my 10m Phaser kit. All being well, it should be back this week.
The Phaser is a QRP SSB transceiver, for FT8 mainly, producing about 3W pep. It is a phasing rig designed by Dave Benson K1SWL. It should allow the "big rig" to be used for other things.
See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/homebrew/10m-phaser .
Brain overload, stroke and autism - NOT amateur radio
As many of you will know, I had a stroke in 2013, out of the blue. It put me in hospital for 3.5 months. I had never before stayed in hospital! All strokes are different, and overall I was lucky with all my main functions remaining intact. My fine motor skills are poor. Although you may disagree (!), my intellectual functions seem unchanged.
I am currently reading a book by Oliver Sacks that has got me thinking. Now, this may just be me getting older, but I am aware of some changes. Since my stroke, I always felt giddy and have had a very poor voice, although most of me works. My wife and I have enjoyed some good holidays both here and abroad. Apart from the giddiness, walking is OK.
In the last year, I have been aware of brain overload. When driving I seem to think of everything that can be a hazard. Driving is no longer a pleasure. Generally, things seem to be exaggerated. It strikes me that this is similar to how some autistic people must experience the world - basically my brain feels overloaded.
It leaves me wondering - are some strokes and some forms of autism similar? I'd be interested to hear of any research in this area.
10m FT8 QRP (Monday)
After a brief session on 2.5W TX I have been on RX the rest of the time. It is now 0840z, and just 1 G spotted and nobody spotted me.
UPDATE 1037z: Just 3 stations spotted so far. The 2 from mainland Europe were probably Es, but could have been aircraft reflection. At this point yesterday, things were better.
UPDATE 1917z: Only 7 stations spotted. All in Europe. A bad day.
UPDATE 2058z: 10 stations spotted with the furthermost LU8EX (11209km) in Argentina.
Sunspots - Monday September 20th 2021
Solar flux is 75 and the SSN 13. A=3 and K =1.
Playtime - NOT amateur radio
10m FT8 RX yesterday
19 Sept 2021
This is a resource I find really useful. Although I use it mostly with FT8, it supports many modes.
My WSJT-X automatically uploads what I receive here. It means I can see (on another PC in the lounge or bed!) in graphical form the stations I am spotting.
When on FT8 TX I can see which stations are spotting me.
Unusual sunflower - NOT amateur radio
Among these is the unusual one shown in the photo, which was given by a friend.
All quiet - NOT amateur radio
10m FT8 RX (Sunday)
It is now 0820z and I have been on 10m FT8 RX for about 10 minutes. So far, 3 stations spotted with the furthermost IK8UKA (1649km).
UPDATE 0920z: 11 stations so far spotted on 10m FT8 RX today.
UPDATE 1038z: 28 stations spotted.
UPDATE 1744z: 77 stations spotted. All in Europe so far. Furthermost is SV1EBV (2263km).
UPDATE 1826z: 92 stations spotted with the furthermost PY2XYZ (9585km) in Brazil.
Kitten sitting - NOT amateur radio
He is very lively!