31 Dec 2022

Stamps swap-out - NOT amateur radio

About 10 years ago we bought a load of postage stamps before the price dramatically increased. Most have been used (it was a good move), but a few remain. At the end of January these can no longer be used although the Royal Mail is doing a swap-out service, so old stamps can be changed for new bar-coded ones.

At the moment in the UK Royal Mail workers are having a series of strikes to get a higher wage. Whilst I can understand workers trying to get salaries that keep up with inflation, there is a great danger of long-term damage to their jobs. 

Fewer letters and postcards are being sent these days as people use email instead. They are trying to focus on parcels, but people are finding out there are alternative people who do this at competitive rates that are often cheaper. There is danger people will always use them in future further damaging the Royal Mail's business model, and profits.

See https://www.royalmail.com/sending/barcoded-stamps .

UPDATE 1600z: I have been told by Steve G1KQH that the deadline to use up old stamps has been extended to next July following complaints by customers.

10m QRP WSPR TX (Saturday)

My 500mW 10m WSPR beacon TX was turned on at 0905z.  No spots at 0915z.

UPDATE 1810z:  7 stations spotting me. 

8m QRP FT8 (Saturday)

My QRP 8m FT8 was turned on about 0905z.  As yet, no spots.

UPDATE 1147z: No spots.

New Year resolutions? - NOT amateur radio

Many people start the new year with resolutions to do things differently. At the moment I have not made any plans apart from going on a diet!! 

Plans for today

Yes, I shall test my SDR later!! Also, I intend to go on 10m WSPR QRP TX and 8m QRP FT8. 

8m permit renewal?

As there seems little prospect of even a tiny 8m amateur band by NoV, I have asked OFCOM if it will renew my T&I licence when it expires in April. Awaiting a response. If it and the FCC are so dead set against an amateur band at 8m for research at least they could explain why. 

Sunspots - Saturday December 31st 2022

Solar flux is 162 and the SSN 121. A=31 and K=3.

30 Dec 2022

No SDR testing today?

Most of the day, I have been busy and I have not got around to testing the SDR. Unless I get it tested tonight, it will have to wait until the weekend.

Sunspot maximum late next year?

The site I most use for data is still predicting that solar cycle 25 will peak in November 2023. This seems quite early. Certainly conditions have been good for some time now. 

Even if this is correct, we can expect solar conditions to remain good for several years. I was quite surprised how FT8 proved solar conditions were respectable north-south even when there were no sunspots. 

Often there is a second peak about a year after the first. Fingers crossed!

See https://www.solen.info/solar/ .

Plans for Friday

 As I  did not get around to trying my SDR yesterday, my main aim is to get this going. If time allows, I hope to be on 10m QRP WSPR TXand 8m QRP FT8.

8m permits in 2023?

It would be really great if many more people could come on 8m TX in 2023. What would be helpful would be if many asked for limited access i.e. for a fixed time with limits. The reason is radio science research around solar maximum.

Please ask your local body responsible for permits for limited 8m access. The following would be what I would suggest you ask for:

  1. 40.680-40.685 MHz (just 5 kHz within the ISM band limits)
  2. 100W ERP 
  3. Narrow digital only e.g. CW, QRSS,FT8 or WSPR
  4. April 2023 to September 2023 
  5. Strictly non-interference i.e.  if any harmful interference the station can be told to immediately go QRT.
This would give access during the Es season in the northern hemisphere. Ideally the permit should be for 12 months, covering the F2 DX season in the expected sunspot maximum (November 2023).

Sunspots - Friday December 30th 2022

Solar flux is 163 and the SSN 113. A=11 and K=3.

29 Dec 2022

GD6ICR on QRZ.com

Mike has this excellent photo on his QRZ.com page.

See  https://www.qrz.com/db/GD6ICR .

Ultra simple 80m transceiver

If you get bored this holiday, you may get some ideas from the XBM80-2 transceiver on my website. It really works!! You would be hard pressed to find anything simpler.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/homebrew/80m-xbm80-2 .

8m QRP FT8 (Thursday)

About 10 minutes ago, I switched to 8m QRP FT8 on 40.680 MHz. So far today (it is now 1435z) no spots.

UPDATE 1643z:  No spots. QRT soon on 8m. I suspect that with my low ERP, I miss a lot on 8m. Still that was what I wanted to find out: just what could be achieved with an ultra-simple QRP 8m set-up. I think I now know what my limits are and also the limitations of the 10mW ERP (the legal 8m ISM limit for ALL in the UK without a licence) locally. I shall probably renew my T&I permit for another year, although I doubt I shall learn much more. It would be really helpful if more tried to get 8m permits, if only for the Es season. Wouldn't it be great if many countries had 8m FT8 or WSPR access next year?

QDX - creeping up

As mentioned a few days ago, I have ordered a built QDX transceiver for 20-10m from QRP Labs. This is a 5W transceiver that will be mostly used on 10m FT8 and WSPR. 

I can still use voice modes like SSB and FM, but it is much harder for me these days. 

Looking at the priority list, my order is creeping up. I can see it being my main rig and well used when it comes. My antenna is a good match on most of the bands covered by the QDX.

Anglesey Abbey - NOT amateur radio

We go to Anglesey Abbey usually several times a month, but realised we had not been since mid-November. 

We expected to see quite a few snowdrops out and maybe a daffodil.  Instead, we saw no daffodils out (just a few that will be out in 2-3 weeks) and just one snowdrop out. 

In a few weeks many snowdrops will be out. The next few months there is always something to see.

10m FT8 RX (Thursday)

Stations spotted on 10m
FT8 RX to 1322z
Yet again I am on 10m FT8 RX. I have been on since about 1000z. It is now 1012z and, so far,  71 stations spotted.

UPDATE 1322z:   362 stations spotted today. 422 stations

UPDATE 1357z:  422 stations spotted.

8m FT8 QRP yesterday

Yesterday, I spotted no stations on 8m FT8, but my 2.5W FT8 was spotted again by EI9FP (649km) and G0HVQ (181km). Later today, I may try 8m FT8 again.

Sunspots - Thursday December 29th 2022

 Solar flux is 160 and the SSN 88. A=5 and K=1.

28 Dec 2022

17m FT8 RX

Just turned on 17m FT8 RX. 15 stations spotted so far.

UPDATE 2245:   59 stations spotted today. BTW, using the 10m end-fed antenna. QRT.

Amazon - NOT amateur radio

Amazon is like Marmite in that some are dead against Amazon and some are for the company. 

They should always treat workers well. Yes, they should pay fair taxes. In fact, perhaps all online sales should be taxed so that we are encouraged to use high street shops more?

Personally, I quite like the convenience of Amazon. Things get ordered one day and the goods usually arrive the next day. 

One day my wife went to our local chemists to buy some very ordinary nail scissors. They had none and no plans to stock any. She went on Amazon and they came next day. I cannot remember the price we paid. If you are housebound or unable to carry things a long way, the convenience of online delivery is great.

The demise of retail outlets on the high streets is sad, but our shopping habits have changed.  I just wonder what our high streets will be like in 2030. We cannot be like Canute. Change always happens. Perhaps the nature of high streets will change with more independent shops and bigger retailers offering free home delivery of goods bought in store. Also, I expect there will be more places to meet and more flats.

UPDATE 1513z:  Toilet seat broken. Ordered from Amazon after lunch yesterday. Arrived and fitted just after lunchtime today. Free return not needed.

UPDATE 1515z: Amazon has been used here for years. In all this time, I have never had things delivered to the wrong place. I have had to return things very, very infrequently. Whether from Amazon or other suppliers, my experience of shopping online has been good.

8m QRP FT8 (Wednesday)

 At the moment (1000z) I am on 40.680 MHz FT8 with 2.5W to the low wire dipole. No spots yet.

UPDATE 1022z:  Still no spots. One thing is clear from my experiments: running QRP ERP I do lose out on a lot both on TX and RX. Compared with a station with a modest beam at several metres, I am probably 6-10dB down, possibly more. Running just 2.5W on TX is probably 10dB down on many stations, if not more. This means I could be at least 16dB weaker than many stations. Despite this I have still been copied in 16 countries and 3 continents on TX. Moral? I have learnt something!

UPDATE 1228z:  No spots today.

UPDATE 1755z:  2 stations have spotted my 2.5W 8m FT8 to a low wire dipole.  Nobody spotted on RX.

10m QRP WSPR TX (Wednesday)

When on 8m I forget that I can still go on 10m WSPR 500mW TX with my beacon. On now.

UPDATE 1010z:  So far, spots from SV9 (F2 or Es?).

UPDATE 1052z: 3 unique stations have spotted me today so far. I think this is mid-winter Es.

UPDATE 1230z:  4 unique stations have spotted my QRP 10m WSPR so far today.

UPDATE 1735z:  8 unique stations have spotted my 500mW 10m WSPR TX beacon today.

Break? - NOT amateur radio

We love seeing our grandchildren, but at our age we get more tired, sooner. We have a break of about 7 days before they come again for a few days. It is a chance to "recharge batteries".  

Maybe it is a chance to try some new amateur radio stuff?  Maybe that SDR or 23cms?

At one time our elder grandson contacted us most nights. He has now got more friends his age who share his interests, so we are less of a crutch. All part of growing up, and totally natural.

Plans for today

Today I have 2 aims. 

Firstly I want to concentrate on 8m QRP FT8. It is the winter Es season and the F2 MUF is increasing. Yesterday the USA was spotted in Australia on 8m. There are more countries monitoring 8m. 

Secondly I want to test my SDR for the first time. 

UPDATE 1807z:   My SDR tests will have to wait until tomorrow.

Wisdom - NOT amateur radio

Many years ago I was taught that wisdom is quite different from being clever. Often the most profound things come from someone with wisdom, as these words that are supposed to have come from a woman of 92.

2m FT8 RX near Cambridge

When I go on 2m FT8, a very useful resource is the monitor a G0LRD. It is situated not far from Cambridge and my signal is usually about +5dB S/N. With it, I can look at 2m FT8 activity received locally, and check my own 2.5W is clean.

An example of David's page is attached. I think David also uses a Wimo big-wheel omni antenna. It is a great local (to me) resource.

See http://g0lrd.vs.mythic-beasts.com/cap/. 

Sunspots - Wednesday December 28th 2022

Solar flux is 150 and the SSN 89.  A=25 and K=2 .

27 Dec 2022

When will my assembled QDX transceiver arrive?

My built QDX transceiver covering 10m has been ordered. According to Hans the waiting time is currently about 1 month, so it might be ready at the end of January. As FT8 and WSPR are the main modes used because of my poor voice, I can see this transceiver being well used. It covers 20m,17m,15m,12m and 10m. My antenna is a good match on all bands except 20m. Even there it could be used on RX.

See http://qrp-labs.com/qcxmini/assembled.html .

See http://qrp-labs.com/ .

Grandchildren - NOT amateur radio


This Christmas we saw all our grandchildren. The photo shows them with my wife yesterday.

Dalham Church - NOT amateur radio

Dalham church is almost outside the village, so parishioners would have had a long uphill walk every Sunday. It is conveniently next to the old Lord of the Manor's house!  

Rally on Thursday

The following rally has been notified to me. I guess they are assuming most attendees are still on holiday.

Thursday December 29th -  Yeovil ARC Rally, West Camel,  Yeavil,Somerset BA22 7QX. No contact details given, but always worth checking before travelling.

10m FT8 RX

Much of the morning, I have been on 10m FT8 RX. There is no doubt that HF conditions are again good. The average sunspot number must be around 100 and 10m FT8  DX from around the world is widely spotted most days.

UPDATE 1157z:   179 stations spotted.

Stations spotted on 10m
FT8 RX today at 1902z
UPDATE 1902z:   801 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1958z:  806 stations spotted. Now QRT.

Sunspots - Tuesday December 27th 2022

 Solar flux is 150 and the SSN 96. A=22 and K=4.

26 Dec 2022

QDX 10m

Hans Summers has announced a new higher bands version of his QDX digital transceiver. It is tiny. I have just ordered one assembled as my fine motor skills prevent me building it these days sadly. 

This is a 5W transceiver covering 20m-10m. Used with a software package like WSJT-X, it should work the world on modes like FT8.

See https://www.qrp-labs.com/qdx.html .

10m FT8 RX (Monday)

Most of the day I have been on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 2139z:   713 stations spotted today.

Dalham - NOT amateur radio

This is the nearby village of Dalham about 12km from us. 

Sunspots - Monday December 26th 2022

 Solar flux is 135 and the SSN 107. A=10 and K=1.

25 Dec 2022

10m FT8

Stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX at 1240z

My problem with my 10m antenna was the coax plug, which I have re-done. At the moment (whilst getting ready for Christmas lunch!!) I am on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1240z:  So far today, 148 stations spotted.

UPDATE 1803z:  670 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today. QRT.

White Gold - NOT amateur radio

In the 17th and 18th centuries, many Devon people were captured as slaves by Turks (Barbary Pirates). In all 7000 people were captured and sold in North Africa. Many never returned and died in captivity. 

About half of these came from coastal Devon, so it is highly likely that some of my fishermen ancestors were captured. At that time fishermen travelled thousands of miles to the rich cod banks off Newfoundland and were captured as they left port on their arduous journeys. It must have been a very frightening time.

A very good book was "White Gold" by Giles Milton. Until I read this I knew nothing about this.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbary_pirates .

Merry Christmas! - NOT amateur radio

This winter festival at the darkest time of the year pre-dates Christianity by many thousands of years. Whatever your faith (or none), I hope you have a good time. 

Whatever your circumstances, you are loved. We all benefit from being kind and loving to each other.  This time of year is especially magical for young children, so please make it an especially happy for them.

Merry Christmas!


USA digital geostationary satellite?

Excuse my ignorance, but I am confused by the difference between a geosynchronous and geostationary satellite. 

Apparently there are moves afoot to get a high orbit satellite with a footprint over the USA. Oscar 100 does not cover the USA. This one should be digital.  If so, I expect it will get even less attention that Oscar 100, which is seriously under-used.

In my view, these satellites are interesting to access at first, but interest soon wanes later: people know they can access them and then they get bored. It is just like talking on a terrestrial repeater.

Sunspots - Sunday December 25th 2022

Solar flux is 133 and the SSN 85. A=23 and K=3.

24 Dec 2022

Cold Devon day - NOT amateur radio

This was the beach in Devon near Thurlestone Rock. It is near here that I come from.

2m activity contest results

The results have just been published for the 2m UKAC contest. These results are for December and the overall scores for the year. Despite just one QSO in December, I managed to end up in 67th place in the low power section (I run 10W to my big-wheel omni antenna) out of 175 stations.  As my voice is poor these days, I find SSB contests hard work, so I usually stop on for 30-60 minutes only.

SDR has arrived

It is unlikely to be tested for several days, but my SDR has arrived. It is meant to cover from 100kHz to 1.75GHz.

Looking for software recommendations to use with it please? 

See https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01HA642SW/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_image_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1.

Amaryllis at last - NOT amateur radio

We love watching these amazing plants grow in pots during the winter. A bulb grows into an enormous plant with huge flowers. We thought this one was a dud that was never going to grow. In the last few days it has started. Usually they take about 4-7 weeks to fully mature. Each morning they seem to have grown!

Intermittent 10m antenna

This morning, I was planning to go on 10m QRP FT8, but something is still intermittent so I have a high SWR. I suspect the coax plug. At some point, I shall have to remake the joint. These days, this is less easy as my fine motor skills are poor.

8m QRP FT8 (Saturday)

 At the moment (1106z) I am on 40.680 MHz FT8 with my 2.5W and low wire dipole. No spots on RX or TX.

UPDATE 1545z:   No spots.

Oscar 100 activity (or rather lack of)

Every few weeks I take peek at activity on the narrowband transponder of this geosynchronous satellite. My latest peak was at 1045z on Christmas Eve. This is European Saturday morning in a holiday, so I would have expected activity to be as good as at any time. What did I find? Very quiet (see screenshot).

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/ .

Sunspots - Saturday December 24th 2022

 Solar flux is 128 and the SSN 100.  A=24 and K=4.

23 Dec 2022

4m in the Caribbean

PJ4MM has also got a permit to TX on 4m. When the Es season comes, this will be an interesting path from Europe.   

As far as I know, this is the first amateur in the northern hemsiphere in Region 2 to get a transmitting permit. 

I think VP8 in the southern hemisphere has 4m, so this could be an interesting TEP path.

Panto - NOT amateur radio

Earlier this week we went to a local panto. It was very good. We have not been able to go for a few years because of Covid. This was like old times.

8m WSPR RX (Friday)

Martin G8JNJ is doing some 8m WSPR tests, so I am looking for his signal. The path loss between us means this very unlikely.

I have also heard today that a station in Bonaire now has an 8m licence - PJ4MM.  Bonaire is in the Caribbean. Not sure what this licence covers i.e. it is  limited experimental licence or a full amateur licence.

10m FT8 (Friday)

After lunch, I hope to go on 10m QRP FT8. Most days, the USA and Canada come through pretty well. When on RX I use 2.5W.  Mostly I just go on RX only as the FT8 slot is so full.

UPDATE 1453z:  So far today, 227 stations spotted on 10m FT8.  There is still an intermittent fault on my 10m antenna plug as the FT817ND initially said "hi swr".I shall have to investigate.

UPDATE 1635z: Before going QRT on 10m FT8 RX about 30 minutes ago, 274 stations spotted today.

Birthday - NOT amateur radio

Today is my birthday. I am 21 and (quite) a bit! One of my gifts was a voucher. I have bought an SDR with it.  

One of my presents is a signed book on the "History of Salcombe" by Roger Barrett. Salcombe is where I was brought up as a child. A good read over the holidays.

Another present from my son was champagne and a book on railway stations, again a good read. He always manages to choose presents people will like. 

Sunspots - Friday December 23rd 2022

Solar flux is 131 and the SSN 108.  A=12 and K=3.

22 Dec 2022

Vegan mincepies - NOT amateur radio


The chef
Made entirely by our granddaughter. They tasted really good too.  

She did everything after a little instruction. They were every bit as good as the non-vegan ones made earlier. Actually they were at least as good, if not better. The secret is to roll the pastry very thin.

In future, I am sure she will be making them again, in her own home.

10m QRP WSPR TX (Thursday)

Whilst on 8m, the 10m antenna is free, so I shall again go on with my W5OLF 500mW WSPR beacon. I expect this will be about 1015z.

UPDATE 1645z:   QRT. Best DX today was a spot by FR1GZ (9724km).

10m WSPR QRP spots of me today

Promise - NOT amateur radio

We are now just past the shortest day, but we still have winter to get through. 

At least the days are getting longer although it will be some weeks before we really start to notice the changes. This photo was taken in March and keeps hope alive. Better times are ahead.  

These daffodils are on the path to our church. They are only like this for a few weeks, but bring such joy.

LED bulbs? - NOT amateur radio

Well I hope they have LED bulbs! Otherwise I hate to think of the electricity bill. They raise cash for charity. 

8m WSPR tests

Later this morning I will be on 8m WSPR doing a test with G8JNJ. Brief tests last evening were unsuccessful, but I want to monitor the web SDR to see if I can see any sign of the signal. 

UPDATE 1539z:  No spots of my 8m 2.5W WSPR today on the WessexSDR. Checking on the WessexSDR there was no sign at all of my signal, I was expecting a tiny trace at least. The WessexSDR is picking up EI1KNH and  G8JNJ.

See http://wessex.zapto.org:8060/#freq=40681500,mod=usb,secondary_mod=wspr,sql=-150

Sunspots - Thursday December 22nd 2022

 Solar flux is 139 and the SSN 103.  A=9 and K=0.

21 Dec 2022

OTT? - NOT amateur radio

This is a place in nearby Soham, UK. It literally covered in Christmas lights. The electricity bill must be enormous. 

People come from miles around to look. They raise money for charity each year.

Christmas cheer? - NOT amateur radio

At this time of year, things are meant to be cheerful, but I have already had 2 pieces of sad news today. Everything always seems more poignant at this time of year.  This seems to always happen. Usually I am quite pleased when Christmas and New Year are over and things get back to normality.

10m QRP WSPR TX (Wednesday)

At the moment, I am on 10m WSPR TX (500mW) with the WSPR beacon. No spots yet.

UPDATE 1204z:  Just EA8BFK (2880km) spotting me.

Stations spotting me today om 10m QRP WSPR

UPDATE 1852z: 
 Just 4 unique stations have spotted me today. Nothing from the USA today, assuming things were working.

8m QRP FT8 (Wednesday)

 Yet again, my 2.5W 8m FT8 to the dipole is on air. As usual, I am on 40.680 MHz.

UPDATE 1333z:  No spots today.

UPDATE 1845z: Just G9PUV (158km) on the south coast of the UK spotted on 8m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 2053z:  Just tried some 8m WSPR tests.  Martin (G8JNJ) was monitoring on his web SDR, but sadly no spots.

2m operation

In the last 40 years, activity on 2m has changed a great deal. When G8 stations were first permitted on 2m in the UK, the band was quite busy on FM and SSB. 

Since then, people rarely come on just for a chat. These days people can chat, with video, to anyone in the world for free without a licence, on the Internet on a PC, tablet or smartphone.  Instead, many people appear on the amateur bands  just for contests or when conditions are good. There is a lot more use of digital modes like FT8 which needs very little spectrum. FT8 is ideal for squares hunting, but not for chatting.

If we are totally honest, we do not need the spectrum we have on 2m and 70cm most of the time.  For FT8, 100 kHz would be more than enough. Even 3 kHz is enough most of the time. When there is a lift on, we may need more, but 2 MHz at 2m seems very generous. At 70cm, this is even more so, and here we have even more spectrum available to the Amateur Radio Service. Of course, this cannot be discussed with OFCOM or the FCC in case they reduce our allocations. I know the priority is to hang on to the allocations we have.

Personally, I would be in favour of more VHF/UHF bands, but slightly narrower, possibly with a lower power limit.  This would encourage research and self training. Many bands could be secondary allocations.  Would anyone really is miss 5 kHz off every VHF/UHF band? Be honest!

Without doubt I will be pushing up daisies long before then! 

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/vhfuhfmicrowaves/2m-operation .

Shortest day - NOT amateur radio

Today is the shortest day in the northern hemisphere. After today things slowly get lighter for longer. It gets darker in the morning for a while. It is the end of January before things really become noticable.

Sunspots - Wednesday December 21st 2022

Solar flux is 139 and the SSN 119.  A=13 and K=1.

20 Dec 2022

Christmas cheer - NOT amateur radio


These musicians were in the marketplace in Cambridge earlier today. They were trying to bring a little Christmas cheer to shoppers.

Grand Arcade, Cambridge earlier - NOT amateur radio

This was the Grand Arcade in Cambridge earlier today. 

10m QRP WSPR (Tuesday)

 As my 10m antenna is available, I am on 10m QRP WSPR with 500mW.

UPDATE 1524z:   8 unique stations have spotted me.

UPDATE 1804z:  9 unique stations have spotted me today.

8m QRP FT8 (Tuesday)

At 1454z, my 2.5W 8m FT8 was turned on. Yet again, the antenna is just the low wire dipole. It is again on 40.680 MHz USB dial.

UPDATE  1508z:  Already spotted by Phil EI9KP (649km).

UPDATE 2150z:  In the end just the spot by EI9KP.  Now QRT.

UPDATE 2155z:  I am unsure how to proceed with experiments on 8m. I am prepared to spend £50 for an extension of my T&I permit, but object to having to pay for this. In my view, this should be a tiny amateur band available in the UK by NoV.  It would be really helpful to know just why OFCOM and the FCC are quite so anti this. It is not that they are neutral. They seem to be dead against this.  Personally, I think it is the military and the Official Secrets Act (or equivalent in the USA) that is preventing us being told the full truth. People are scared of prosecution.  If we were just told, "yes the military is blocking all applications" that alone would clear up this apparently stupid situation.  This year's tests have already shown that with Es and F2, great distances may be covered with just 2.5W and a low wire dipole. There is no doubt that a higher ERP certainly improves chances.

Bury St Edmunds - NOT amateur radio

This is a market town in Suffolk. The photo shows the market. Unlike Cambridge, it has lots of locals. We like Bury. 

Sunspots - Tuesday December 20th 2022

Solar flux is 152 and the SSN 132. A=11 and K=1.

19 Dec 2022

Cambridge market - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows Cambridge market last week. There was snow on the ground. There are fewer stalls than there used to be, but it is still a good market.

That thaw - NOT amateur radio

Last week, it was unusually cold. We had snow on the ground for a week. These days, this is almost unheard of.

Nighttime temperatures were very low indeed and some parts of the UK remained below freezing all day. Last night the thaw came and there is no snow at all left. It just went. 

Temperatures today are much milder. Probably it is 10-20 degrees Celsius milder. It is wet and windy. I prefer the sun and snow, but not the temperatures that go with it!

10m QRP FT8 (Monday)

At the moment I am RX only on 10m FT8, 178 stations (at 1205z) so far spotted. 

Initially I was getting very few spots until I realised the coax plug was shorted. Now corrected, the SWR is again very low. This could account why yesterday there were so few reports of my 500mW WSPR TX.

By mid afternoon the band was filled with USA stations as the photo shows. 

UPDATE 1544z:   773 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX. Very briefly, I went on TX for just a very short period. 4 stations in the USA spotted me, but I went back to RX only.

UPDATE 1847z: 
 1084 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX.

Shack - December 2013

Back in 2013 I had a stroke that put me in hospital for 3.5 months. Although I had to spent Christmas in hospital I came home for a brief visit a few days before and went in my shack for the first time since September.

Like the heating which failed due to the very cold weather last week (thankfully now fine) you don't realise how important things are until you can not have them. 

Sunspots - Monday December 19th 2022

Solar flux is 156 and the SSN 128.  A=4 and K=4.

18 Dec 2022

8m QRP FT8 (Sunday)

As my 8m coax has been mended, I am again on 8m QRP FT8 with 2.5W on 40.680 MHz. 

UPDATE 2110z: No spots. Now QRT.

Sunrise - NOT amateur radio

Sunrise this morning
Today it is expected to get gradually milder. When I got up this morning there was a great sunrise. It is raining now at 1500z.

10m QRP WSPR TX (Sunday)

Today I have again been on 10m WSPR TX with 500mW from my little W5OLF beacon. Surprisingly just a single spot from YO3BN (2083km).  Odd, I usually see many more with the USA coming through by early afternoon,

UPDATE 2111z: 
 5 spots of me today on 10m 500mW WSPR (see table). QRT.

2m QRP FT8 (Sunday)

Much of the morning I was on 2m QRP FT8, 7 stations spotted my 2.5W to the big-wheel omni antenna and I spotted 35 stations on RX (see maps).

Stations spotted on 2m FT8 RX this morning
Stations spotting my 2.5W FT8 on 2m this morning

8m problem solved

It was the coax plug that was faulty, so issue now fixed. 

Sunspots - Sunday December 18th 2022

Solar flux is 155 and the SSN 139. A=2 and K=0. 

17 Dec 2022

At home - NOT amateur radio

Just before Christmas we like to have an "at home" day when the neighbours can pop in for a drink and nibbles. Because of Covid this has not been possible since 2019. It was so nice to have them around again.

This was one of the reasons I did not get around to fixing my 8m antenna/coax issue today. Maybe tomorrow?

8m - military influence?

For some time now, there has been speculation about just why the FCC and OFCOM are so much against even a small amateur allocation at 8m. It is not as if they are neutral. The clear impression is they are dead against this.

One possibility is that the military are doing their best to keep the "riffraff" out. 

Even recent experimental licences in the USA have been turned down. It is almost as if the real reason for refusals is being hidden.

One possibility is that officials in OFCOM and the FCC have signed the Official Secrets Act or it equivalent and cannot reveal the full truth without fearing prosecution.

Logically, a tiny 8m band could help research. I am convinced we are not being told the whole truth. I suspect the 40.66-40.70 MHz ISM band is a real embarrassment.

I wonder if OFCOM will renew my 8m permit?

Extreme QRP?

In my emails today was the Elecraft Newsletter. 

One of the articles was about "extreme QRP". This looks interesting I thought, only find out it was about 1W. To my mind extreme QRP is microwatts, not watts. I would have been more impressed if this person had got spots with 100uW rather than 1W!!

From my own tests years ago, well below 1W can get spots.

I know of at least one person who has been spotted across the planet with 20mW on 30m.

Salcombe, Devon - NOT amateur radio

In the late 1960s, I worked as a barman in the Great Gates Hotel in Salcombe, Devon during my summer vacation from university.   This hotel was converted to flats many years ago. It had a great view, as you can see from the photo.

My future wife washed dishes. She reckons the person she worked with broke crockery worth more than she earned that summer!

Salcombe is where I was brought up as a child.

2m FT8 QRP (Saturday)

 Most of the day I have been on 2m QRP FT8.  

UPDATE 1741z: As PSKreporter seems not to be working at the moment, I am not sure where I have been spotted today.

UPDATE 2222:
59 stations spotted today including EA and SP. Not bad for an omni antenna.

10m QRP WSPR TX (Saturday)

Yet again I am on 10m WSPR TX with 500mW from the W5OLF beacon. 18 unique stations have spotted me as the table shows.

Cambridge Winter Sun - NOT amateur radio

This was Cambridge earlier in the week in the winter sun. It has been very cold for the last week. 

Next week should be milder.

I think the senate house on the left is where degrees are presented.

Sunspots - Saturday December 17th 2022

Solar flux is 163 and the SSN 0 (I suspect this is an error, although it still shows 0 at 1939z).  A=6 and K=0.

16 Dec 2022

8m tomorrow

For some reason, I am now seeing a very high SWR on 8m. I think it is the coax plug to the rig. I have a way of checking this that I shall try tomorrow. If this is successful, and the problem is fixed, I intend to do more QRP FT8 tests at 2.5W and the low dipole. 

My 10mW ERP WSPR tests have now (successfully) concluded. 10mW ERP can definitely cover the local area (to at least 17km) on WSPR even with antennas that are not 8m antennas at the RX end. With proper 8m antennas at the RX, who knows what the range would be?

In the car - NOT amateur radio

This was the view through the car window yesterday on the way into Cambridge. We do not get much snow these days. 

We have had snow on the ground since last weekend, then it froze. Lovely to look at, but hard to walk on.