31 Oct 2021
160m FT8 RX (Sunday)
This evening and overnight I hope to be on 160m FT8 RX. After a very brief TX period, I am RX only. On TX I was spotted by 1 station in Scotland and I have spotted 5 stations with the furthermost SP7MOC (1400km).
UPDATE 1925z: 79 stations spotted with the furthermost RM9X (3186km).
UPDATE 2100z: 159 stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX so far today. Furthermost is 7P8RU (9486km) in Lesotho.
CQWW SSB contest
I had a peep on 10m SSB and there was plenty of activity as the photo shows. Without trying I worked VP9I which may be a new country with my 10W SSB on 10m. It is certainly a new country in the 21st century. After 5 minutes I had had enough!!
10m FT8 RX (Sunday)
My gear was turned at about 1105z. So far (at 1113z) 44 stations already spotted. I am amazed how many in such a short time.
UPDATE 1655z: Now QRT on 10m FT8 RX and surprised to spot 474 unique stations today on FT8 on the weekend of the CQWW SSB contest.
Christ's College, Cambridge - NOT amateur radio
Sunspots - Sunday October 31st 2021
Solar flux is 107 and the SSN 76. A=10 and K=3.
30 Oct 2021
Wicked times - NOT amateur radio
East Anglian skies - NOT amateur radio
CQWW contest and 10m
This afternoon I went on 10m SSB expecting it to be filled with CQWW contest stations. I copied none, so I QSYed to 20m. There were plenty. This morning I tried 10m SSB and there were a few stations on. It was not exactly busy.
Today on 10m FT8 RX I have spotted 310 stations from all over including 3 USA stations in the last 30 minutes. OK, it may just be conditions and the band may be very busy later. I hope this isn't a sign of the times in the hobby with stations coming on FT8 just to work DX and then going to sleep again until their software alerts them to a new country!
Autumn - NOT amateur radio
10m FT8 RX (Saturday)
My gear has been on for about about an hour. 155 stations spotted so far with the furthermost VK4CAG (16445km).
UPDATE 1052z: 197 stations spotted today.
UPDATE 2137z: QRT. In all, 339 stations spotted today.
Some months ago I changed my main G3XBM website to New Google Sites, but I cannot see how to insert a box with html code. This is probably easy but I can't see how to do it. If you know, please tell me!
My idea is to add live amateur radio news.
I can probably do it by embedding a page, but some browsers do not like embedding.
Sunspots - Saturday October 30th 2021
Solar flux is 108 and the SSN 82. A=3 and K=2.
29 Oct 2021
University of the 3rd age (Cambridge) - NOT amateur radio
10m FT8 RX (Friday)
My gear was turned on about 0830z. So far, 7 stations already spotted with the furthermost R7IW (3463km)
UPDATE 2020z: Now QRT. In all, 124 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today.
Reminder: CQWW SSB contest this weekend
All weekend is the CQWW SSB contest. Activity is usually very high. I have never submitted a log, but enjoy going on for a while to work a few new countries and states. Because of my voice, I shall be unable to be on for long.
40m QRP by DL1DN
Jay W5OLF kindly sent me the link to this video for a QRP transceiver based on my rig linked yesterday.
TEP opening from South Africa to Europe on 8m
Several stations in southern Europe have reported copying the South African 8m beacon recently.
Sunspots - Friday October 29th 2021
Solar flux is 112 and the SSN 96. A=3 and K=1.
28 Oct 2021
The future of the hobby
It is hard to generalise, but amateur radio is changing. Years ago, to talk to people around the world meant an expensive phone call or getting an amateur licence and building your own gear. Today, many of us just buy a main transceiver and few build their own gear. We are (nearly) all guilty. I know I am.
What happens in 20 years' time? Many of us will be old and frail and few of us will be interested in shiny new transceivers. Quite a few manufacturers will decide there is little profit in amateur radio and leave the market. Dealers will go out of business. There will be fewer adverts in magazines. Some magazines will close. The hobby will die.
I really hope I am wrong. It is up to us all to forget what brought us into the hobby, as the magic of radio will no longer be the magnet it once was. Today, talking across the planet is free and easy via the internet by video. We need to understand what "turns young people on" technologically and move with the times.
Grey haired old men waxing lyrical about the past is not the future.
No, I am concerned. Your views?
Ultra-simple 80m transceiver
Covid-19 data - NOT amateur radio
There is a lot of misinformation about Covid out there and it is very hard sometimes to know what is true and what is rubbish. My 2 most trusted sources are Dr John Campbell and Professor Tim Spector of ZOE.
The view is that cases in the UK are still too high, although vaccines and previous infections are now stopping hospitalisations and deaths in most cases. These days the most common symptoms are like those of a cold. Experts think this will become endemic in the West rather than a pandemic.
If you have cold-like symptoms these days it could be Covid, so get tested.
Home grown tomatoes - NOT amateur radio
This year we had 2 tomato bags and these are the tomatoes that were left at the end. I love the smell. Those that stay green will probably be used for chutney. Overall, we probably had at least as many again.
10m FT8 RX (Thursday)
My gear was turned on at about 0730z. 2 spots already at 0755z. Furthermost is R9CA (3677km). I guess this is F2.
UPDATE 1036z: So far today on 10m FT8 RX, 47 stations spotted.
UPDATE 1329z: 69 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX with the furthermost 7Q7CT (7955km) in Malawi.
160m FT8 overnight
A decent quantity of stations spotted on topband FT8 RX in the last day with 300 stations spotted including 6 in the USA, 1 in Caanda and 1 in Greenland. Still using the coax to my 2m big-wheel (10m long?) loaded with a ferrite-rod and a mains ground (see map).
Sunspots - Thursday October 28th 2021
Solar flux is 111 and the SSN 91. A=3 and K=0.
27 Oct 2021
160m FT8 RX
As my son managed to sever my earth-electrode "antenna" whilst doing some gardening for us, I am again using the coax to my 2m big-wheel loaded with a ferrite rod "ATU".
The antenna is under 5m at its highest and the coax only 50cm above ground at it lowest just outside the shack. I am just using the mains ground. The coax is under 10m long.
So far this evening on 160m FT8 RX 19 stations spotted with the furthermost UA1OLM (2653km).
UPDATE 2002z: 83 stations spotted this evening on 160m FT8 RX with the furthermost RW4PU (3416km).
UPDATE 2115z: 140 stations spotted so far this evening on 160m FT8 RX.
UPDATE 2300z: Staying on overnight.
OFCOM and 800MHz licences - NOT amateur radio
OFCOM is to allow mobile operators to use higher power in this band for mobile services. See the OFCOM website for details.
My main G3XBM website and video channel
A reminder that my main G3XBM website (less often updated than this blog) has far more details about interests and projects. I also have a video channel on YouTube.
Autumn in the garden - NOT amateur radio
This morning, before returning home my son cut my hair and took a photo of my wife and I with 2 of the grandchildren.
10m FT8 RX (Wednesday)
My 10m FT8 RX was turned on about 0900z today. It is now 1025z and, so far, 108 stations have been spotted.
UPDATE 1040z: 140 stations spotted so far on 10m FT8 RX.
UPDATE 1242z: 224 stations spotted.
UPDATE 1555z: 326 stations spotted today. Once it gets dark expect fewer DX spots.
Butterflies - NOT amateur radio
Sunspots - Wednesday October 27th 2021
Solar flux is 109 and the SSN 95 (pretty good). A=5 and K=1.
26 Oct 2021
Building a radio
Coffee in the garden - NOT amateur radio
CQ WW DX SSB contest
This weekend is the CQWW DX contest SSB leg. In years gone by, I filled pages in my logbook with QSOs, but since my stroke it has been far harder. This year, 10m should be pretty good after poor conditions for several years. I hope to pop on to work a few stations, although I never submit a contest log. Many times I forget it is on! It runs all weekend and usually the HF bands are buzzing.
See https://www.cqww.com/ .
Cactus Day - NOT amateur radio
Around now in late October we have celebrated Cactus Day with our grandchildren. Don't ask why it is called Cactus Day!! This was lunch time.
10m FT8 RX (Tuesday)
My gear was turned on at about 1050z. So far, 115 stations spotted.
Ferrite rod loading
On both 630m WSPR and 160m FT8 RX I have had great success using the FT817ND and the coax to my 2m big-wheel antenna. Just a mains earth was used in my case. If you cannot use this I expect a simple external ground would do instead. The tapped ferrite rod is shown. This was used as an ATU. The coax is quite short and the big-wheel about 5m at its highest. At its lowest the coax is about 50cm off the ground.
Sunspots - Tuesday October 26th 2021
Solar flux is 101 and the SSN 81. A=5 and K=1.
25 Oct 2021
Start them young
10m FT8 RX (Monday)
Since just after breakfast, my 10m RX has been on. 139 stations spotted with the furthermost A41ZZ (5854km).
UPDATE 1925z: 359 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX. Now QRT.
On the bus
Every Friday I go into Cambridge on the bus for my University of the 3rd Age lecture. Most people wear masks. It is busier now.
Sunspots - Monday October 25th 2021
Solar flux is 93 and the SSN 46. A=4 and K=1.
24 Oct 2021
Nanny state? - NOT amateur radio
This morning, my wife went to church. She was also serving coffee. The lady in charge told her that in future she would need 2 references just to serve coffee! This afternoon she told them where to stick these stupid rules!! She is more than happy to help, but refuses to jump through ridiculous hoops.
For almost 40 years she was a teacher. She helped at the church youth group. She helps for 3 hours at another cafe as a volunteer. Never once before has she been asked for references. She feels like she cannot be trusted.
Now, this may be as a result of the law changing, but I think it is plain stupid. I am sure people who create such rules mean well. In some cases such rules make sense such as if one was influencing children. However to serve coffee once a month?
There is a thing called "unintended consequences". For example, we now have to agree to cookies on websites. Most people just say "yes" to get rid of this annoying pop-up. Few read terms and conditions.
I well remember going on a 4 hour course at work on how to lift heavy things. Only in the last 5 minutes were we shown how to! For almost 40 years I had been lifting heavy pieces of test equipment.
In my view, too many are scared of litigation and just hide behind the law. I am sure this course at work was arranged so the boss could tick the box to say we had been trained.
It is high time people said, "no, enough of this stupid nonsense".
BTW, the church has lost a valuable helper until it gets real and stops this stupidity.
Social media - NOT amateur radio
This is a mixed blessing, that some people hate. On balance, I think it is a good thing.
We can have video chats with old friends on the other side of the Earth or just keep in touch with people. Years ago this would have been by the occasional letter or Christmas card. It was harder to keep in touch. The alternative was an expensive phone call on special occasions. Often we lost contact.
It is all too easy to live in a virtual world and forget about "real" things. There was a great phrase on TV last week that a person was half man and half laptop!! We have to be careful not to fall into this trap.
And so it continues.... - NOT amateur radio
Every day I still get SPAM emails promising me great riches, great sex and, of course, Bitcoins. These all get automatically filtered as SPAM by Google. I usually just check that nothing has gone in by mistake, then I just delete them all.
10m FT8 RX
My gear was turned on at about 0928z. So far today on 10m FT8 RX, 68 stations spotted with the furthermost YB1JQC (11725km) in Indonesia.
St John's College, Cambridge
Usually I have time to kill, so I grab a bite to eat and a coffee at this small cafe opposite St. John's College. Service is fast and the views are to die for. I am so lucky to be able to have this view for free.
Pixie and Micro80
One such is the Pixie or the Micro80. These are compromise rigs, often let down by the RX, which tends to be the weak link. They work and I have had QSOs on 80m and 40m with mine. At one time you could buy 40m Pixie kits from China for a few pounds. I bought one of these and it went together well and worked. I have not looked recently to see if these are still available. With the Pixie and Micro80 I am afraid of calling CQ over a weak station.
There are other rig alternatives although with something simple, you usually have to accept some weakness. The "holy grail" is a simple, low cost rig that really is not a compromise. If you know of any, let me know. My target is a complete transceiver that can be made for less than £5 that really works without compromise.
See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/homebrew/8040m-pixie-and-micro80-transceivers .
160m FT8 RX in the last day
The futility of war - NOT amateur radio
All of the people who fought in WW1 are dead. Most of those who fought in WW2 are dead.
Looking back, you have to ask were the dead and maimed worth it? In my view, wars achieve very little in the longer term. I think much more is achieved by talking.
Sunspots - Sunday October 24th 2021
Solar flux is 87 and the SSN 32. A=3 and K=1.
23 Oct 2021
160m FT8 RX
Just before 1900z, I turned on my 160m FT8 RX. So far, 23 stations spotted. Still using the outer of my 2m big-wheel and ferrite rod "ATU".
UPDATE 1950z: 76 stations spotted with the furthermost RV0AR (5548km) in Asiatic Russia.
Radio for Grandson
On Monday, we have one of our grandsons here. Whilst he is here, he wants to build a radio as part of his Design and Technology (DT) work. I have plumped for a TRF circuit based around the TD7642 IC, which is like the ZN414 of old.
Very many years ago I built two around a ZN414 for my boys. The plan is to build it myself first to prove it all works, then disassemble it so my grandson can build it after some soldering practise. In the past this circuit worked fine with a ferrite rod antenna.
I am finding things far harder now: my eyes are finding close work more problematic and my fine motor skills are poorer.
He wants to do a design brief and we can draw the schematic together. I can explain how it works in simple terms. Hopefully he can take it home.
You can get (almost) anything on eBay - NOT amateur radio
10m FT8 RX (Saturday)
My gear was turned on about 1010z. So far, 40 stations have been spotted, all in Europe.
UPDATE 1104z: 127 stations spotted with the furthermost YB1BUL (11796km) in Indonesia.
Jabs - NOT amateur radio
We have just had our Covid-19 booster and flu jabs. No adverse reactions so far.
160m FT8 RX yesterday
Magdalene College, Cambridge
Sunspots - Saturday October 23rd 2021
Solar flux is 87 and the SSN 28. A=4 and K=0.
22 Oct 2021
Worries? - NOT amateur radio
Perhaps this is natural as you get older? As I age, I seem to be worrying more about other people: for example I worry about people dying such as my wife, my brother, my sons, neighbours and friends, and so forth. The list is now very large.
Clearly I have no control over these and just worrying about them does no good. People tell me not to worry about things I cannot control.This is easier said than done!
160m FT8 QRP (Friday)
For a change, I decided to go on 160m FT8 with 2.5W to the coax of the 2m big-wheel via a ferrite rod loading coil. I had 1 QSO with G3VAO (229km) and 24 stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX with furthermost R2AL (2417km). 3 Gs spotted me on TX although I am now RX only.
UPDATE 1936z: 82 stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX this evening.
UPDATE 2130z: 183 stations spotted with furthermost UN9L (4119km).
Cambridge - NOT amateur radio
10m FT8 RX (Friday)
My system was turned on at 0750z. No spots yet.
472kHz WSPR RX last night
Central Cambridge - NOT amateur radio
Friday is the day I travel in to Cambridge for my University of the 3rd Age lecture. The photo shows last Friday.
Sunspots - Friday October 22nd 2021
Solar flux is 82 and the SSN 11. A=7 and K=0
21 Oct 2021
472kHz WSPR RX
As my son managed to cut my earth-electrode "antenna" return wire, I may try the coax outer to my 2m big-wheel antenna via a ferrite rod ATU on 472kHz WSPR this evening. I shall stay on until late tonight.
Amazing DX on 2m
EI7GL's blog has a report on the excellent 2m (144MHz) QSOs between Argentina and the Caribbean recently via TEP.
Seee https://ei7gl.blogspot.com/ .
Galashiels Rally cancelled
This rally was due to take place on Sunday October 24th, but I believe it has been cancelled, presumably because of Covid-19 concerns. I have no details. You may want to confirm this with the organisers.
Best yet at $447k - NOT amateur radio
If only this SPAM was true! Apparently I have $447k in my account if I just verify my details. Looks like I won't then! 😁😁
Oldest British bookshop - NOT amateur radio
10m FT8 RX (Thursday)
My system was turned on at 0751z.
UPDATE 0929z: 5 spots on 10m FT8 RX. 3 look like F2. Furthermost is R6FX (3236km).
UPDATE 1046z: 52 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today with the furthermost 4Z5TK (3515km).
UPDATE 1548z: 109 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today.
UPDATE 1725z: 116 stations spotted.
UPDATE 1836z: Still 116 stations spotted, so this is probably the end of 10m DX today.
U3A Zoom - NOT amateur radio
Sunspots - Thursday October 21st 2021
Solar flux is 76 and the SSN 11. A=6 and K=1.
20 Oct 2021
See https://sites.google.com/site/sub9khz/vlf-using-earth-mode/g3xbm-earth-mode-blog .
Some take microwaves very seriously and regularly achieve some remarkable distances, often by rain scatter. Others play at 10GHz with WBFM.
See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/vhfuhfmicrowaves/homebrew/10ghz .
Climate change - NOT amateur radio
There is evidence all around us that the climate is changing. Winter snow in East Anglia is rare now and it is far far wetter. At some point very soon we have to take this very very seriously. Yet in the UK, we seem to be doing very very little. What we do is usually too little and too late. We seem to be reactive rather than proactive in most things sadly.
See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-58971131 .
10m FT8 RX (Wednesday)
As there is no sign at all of thunderstorms anywhere for hundreds of miles, I think I shall turn on my 10m FT8 RX later. According to the thunder map all storms are very distant indeed.
UPDATE 0847z: The storms appear to have come this way, but tracked north and missed us, so I have turned my system on at 0840z. So far, 5 stations spotted.
UPDATE 1000z: 6 Europeans spotted with the furthermost OE4KSF (1285km). Most of these Europeans I think are E layer rather than F2 backscatter. If it was backscatter I would expect to see some further afield stations such as Israel, European Russia and Ukraine via F2. I am seeing none of these. Perhaps a brief patch of E layer ionisation forms allowing a very brief opening and then disappears?
UPDATE 1118z: 34 stations spotted today so far. Furthermost is 5T5PA (3791km).
Malborough, Devon, UK 1927 - NOT amateur radio
Dalham - NOT amateur radio
481THz line of sight
For the uninitiated, 481THz is red light.
My main interest in lightbeam communication was over the horizon beaconing (NLOS), but I did have one speech QSO line-of-sight over about 11km. As mentioned before, all my optical gear was homemade in the back of the garage. Most of the test gear was also homemade. In fact, optical gear is easier than microwaves and there are plenty of sources of ideas on the internet. My own page may trigger some ideas. The circuit above was used in the speech QSO.
See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/optical-nanowaves/line-of-sight .
Sunspots - Wednesday October 20th 2021
Solar flux is 76 and the SSN 11. A=14 and K=1.
19 Oct 2021
Not on tomorrow morning probably
As the UK Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for thunderstorms tomorrow morning it is unlikely I shall be on until after lunch.
That's a pity - NOT amateur radio
If all the SPAM I get daily was true I would be very rich!
Today, I had several placing life-changing amounts into my bank account. Sadly, not one of these is true. Guess I shall still have to draw my pension! Never mind. 😀
Autumn garden - NOT amateur radio
10m FT8 RX (Tuesday)
My 10m FT8 RX gear was turned on at 0810z. No spots in the first 30 minutes.
UPDATE 1222z: 47 stations spotted so far on 10m FT8 RX with the furthermost PY5JO (9890km). South Americans just appearing. F2?
UPDATE 1853z: 202 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX. Several in South America with the furthermost VP8LP (12773km). As there have been very few spots in the last 30 minutes, I suspect that is probably it for the day.
Lesotho - NOT amateur radio
As some know, I have applied to OFCOM (RSGB copied) for a time limited, 5W, digital only, permit to operate next March to October 2022 at 8m (40MHz). I expect this will take some time, although I very much hope it is accepted as there are no 8m stations operational in the UK at this time as GB3RAL is looking for a new site.
In my view there is a good justification for this NoV, especially when OFCOM can find a whole 2MHz for DTV experiments and I am probably after just 50Hz with QRP for part of 1 year. In my view. this would really contribute to radio propagation science.
I am awaiting their verdict....
4m is increasingly popular on modern rigs as the band is now widely available in Europe. When I was first on the band in the late 1960s there were very few countries on.
This transverter may give you some ideas for a winter project. It is well capable of reaching many European countries by SSB in the Es season. I am sure it can be improved.
See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/vhfuhfmicrowaves/homebrew/4m-transverter .
Oscar 100 activity
As regular readers of the blog know, every few weeks I take a peek at activity on the narrowband transponder of this geosynchronous satellite. When I as looked (mid afternoon on Monday in Europe) it was very quiet. If anything, I think there is less activity that a few months ago.
10m FT8 RX yesterday
In all, 236 stations were spotted yesterday on 10m FT8 RX. In the end a string of South Americans were spotted. Yesterday Jan was wondering if the Europeans were F2 backscatter. Indeed this is possible, although I would have expected more pure F2 stations from Ukraine, Russia, Lebanon and Israel if this was F2 backscatter. Mind you, I am no expert!
Cambridge eatery - NOT amateur radio
Sunspots - Tuesday October 19th 2021
Solar flux is 76 and the SSN 0. A=10 and K=3.
18 Oct 2021
Mind boggling numbers - NOT amateur radio
When we talk about the universe, the numbers are truly mind-blowing.
The Milky Way has an estimated 1000000000 stars and at least as many planets. It is estimated there could be 2000000000000 galaxies in the observable universe.
If there are just 2 intelligent civilisations in our galaxy, there could be 4000000000000 intelllgent civilisations in the observable universe!
My brain hurts! 😁
Wicken Fen - NOT amateur radio
This is a wild fen owned by the National Trust. It is quite close to us. My wife went there yesterday with some friends.
10m FT8 RX (Monday)
In a few moments, I intend to turn on my 10m FT8 RX system. With the SSN being 0 and the solar flux being lower than for a while, I am unsure how it will be today.
UPDATE 0908z: System on at 0807z. 8 spots so far - all in Europe. I suspect with suspect with a higher antenna (possibly a beam) I might spot signals 10dB weaker. No doubt the "big guns" will be working 10m FT8 signals I cannot even spot! I have absolutely no intention of erecting a mast and beam. If I miss some does it matter? No.
UPDATE 1020z: 42 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX with furthermost 9G5FI (5189km).
UPDATE 1200z: 79 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX. Furthermost is A65BR (5454km).
UPDATE 1253z: 97 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today. 94 have been in Europe. Many (possibly most) of these will be via Es propagation, underlining the value of FT8 in showing there is still Es well outside the traditional Es season. If things go as previous days, the Americas will start to come through shortly.
AMSAT-UK Satellite Colloquium
In all my time I have only had a single QSO through a satellite. That was probably in the 1980s. I have been interested, but not enough to get me active.
My interest was first sparked by listening to USA stations on 2m SSB during late night passes of Oscar 6 and 7. In those days this was a real novelty. This would have been in the mid-1970s. They would appear, briefly, then they were gone over the horizon.
These days there are lots of amateur satellites including 1 geosynchronous one called Oscar 100.
We may get inspiration from the AMSAT Colloquium online on Sunday, October 24th. You have to register beforehand I think.
10m FT8 RX yesterday
First 8m QSO between South Africa and Europe
The first QSO has been recorded on 8m FT8 between South Africa and Slovenia.
See EI7GL's blog.
UPDATE 0757z: No news of my application to OFCOM (RSGB copied) for an 8m NoV. It will probably take months and then be rejected! 😟
Sunspots - Monday October 18th 2021
Solar flux is 77 and the SSN 0. A=10 and K=3.
When the FT818 came out I was extremely disappointed. It seemed that Yaesu had lost its way and ignored the huge worldwide market for a better, modern, product. They could have used the same mechanics and just changed the battery and guts. Instead, they introduced basically the very same product. Such a wasted chance.
In my view, they have one last chance. We are on the way up to the next solar peak and the world is expecting a replacement for a product that is about 20 years old.
Yaesu is well capable of designing a worthy successor to the FT817, so get on with it!
Yaesu - wake up!!!