31 Oct 2021
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.
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.
30 Oct 2021
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!
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.
29 Oct 2021
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.
Several stations in southern Europe have reported copying the South African 8m beacon recently.
28 Oct 2021
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?
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.
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.
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.
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).
27 Oct 2021
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.
This morning, before returning home my son cut my hair and took a photo of my wife and I with 2 of the grandchildren.
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.
26 Oct 2021
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/ .
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.
25 Oct 2021
24 Oct 2021
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
23 Oct 2021
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.
22 Oct 2021
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!
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).
21 Oct 2021
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.
20 Oct 2021
Some take microwaves very seriously and regularly achieve some remarkable distances, often by rain scatter. Others play at 10GHz with WBFM.
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.
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).
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.
19 Oct 2021
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.
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.
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.
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!
18 Oct 2021
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! 😁
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.
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.
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!!!