27 Sept 2022

8m GB3MCB beacon

This is being copied in Eire by EI9KP by weak tropo, but after several days I have had no sign here in East Anglia. I only have a low dipole and it is obviously too weak for tropo and with MS or aircraft, I almost certainly need more time for a decode on FT8. 

I shall try again when there is a decent MS shower, hoping the Doppler doesn't kill the FT8!

ICOM IC-703


This is one of the best QRP transceivers I have ever owned. The best was the Yaesu FT7, but the IC-703 is very considerably smaller and covers more bands with speech processing and an auto ATU. Many years ago, I sold this to a local amateur, Ted  G4NUA. Ted is now a silent key sadly. He was a keen experimenter, especially with 20m WSPR.

Sunspots - Tuesday September 27th 2022

Solar flux is 135 and the SSN 120. A=6 and K=6.

26 Sept 2022

Cambridge University Church - NOT amateur radio

This is the exit from the University Church in Cambridge called Great St Mary's. It is next to the market and very near King's College Chapel. It is very central in Cambridge.

Many famous people have given sermons here. I have heard a few in years past.

Chinese lanterns - NOT amateur radio

 

These plants are commonly seen at this time of year and are popular in indoor displays.

10m QRP WSPR TX (Monday)

Gear turned on earlier this morning. As usual, running 500mW from my WSPR beacon.

UPDATE 1300z:  Just 3 unique stations spotting me so far today. These are one local and 2 in the Canary Is.  The Canary Is looks like F2 propagation.

Yosemite National Park - NOT amateur radio

This photo shows a ledge in the Yosemite National Park. Rather him than me!

I visited there in the late 1990s when working in California, USA. 

No, that is definitely not me!

See https://www.yosemite.com/.

Plans for today

 Although I suspect my chances are low, I am continuing to monitor the beacon GB3MCB in Cornwall on 40.050 MHz FT8.

As the 10m antenna is free I shall probably go on 10m QRP WSPR TX with my 500mW W5OLF beacon.

UPDATE 0825z: 10m QRP WSPR TX turned on and PC manually re-synced "just in case".

PC time syncing

Many digital modes like WSPR and FT8 depend on accurate timing.  

For the last few weeks I have just used Windows 10 to sync PC time.  As a matter of habit I do a re-sync perhaps once a day "just in case".  

Judging by results on FT8, I am perfectly sure this is fine. In the past I used special software for this. My advice is do not bother. 

Make sure your settings for time automatically sync. This is extremely easy.

GB3MCB 8m beacon in Cornwall

This beacon on 40.050 MHz began operation this weekend. 

It is situated in mid-Cornwall near St Austell. It should be very useful to indicate when 8m is open across the Atlantic. It has an FT8 sequence, so can be monitored with WSJT-X free software. The antennas are crossed dipoles.

Initially, it is operated under a test and innovation licence. In my view both the RSGB and OFCOM should have just granted them an NoV to the amateur licence as this truly helps propagation research and self training. The RSGB should have made the case and OFCOM agreed.

OFCOM and the RSGB -- just wake up!!!  You are making yourselves look unbelievably stupid! Surely the whole purpose of our hobby is self training and radio research. Is it any wonder we cannot find RF engineers in the UK if there is no support?   

8m need not be "more of the same". It is uniquely situated in the radio spectrum, on the HF/VHF boundary, to offer radio amateurs a real chance to contribute to radio propagation research. Instead, both the RSGB and OFCOM appear to be obstructive.

I am still totally puzzled why OFCOM seems so against even 5 kHz (just 5 kilohertz!!) at 8m being allocated to the amateur service by NoV. They could insist on narrow digital only and make us secondary users with limited power. It just seems so short-sighted. Like the Chinese trying to stop Covid or King Canute trying to stop the tide - there are some things in life that make no sense.

UPDATE 0804z:  No spots overnight.

UPDATE 1556z: Still not a sign of that beacon. My feeling is that this is a complete waste of time.  I thought I might see the odd MS burst, but nothing. Maybe I should remain on until the morning? Probably the 15 second TX period is too long for random MS. In a shower I might have better luck.

Sunspots - Monday September 26th 2022

Solar flux is 135 and the SSN 96. A=6 and K=2. 

25 Sept 2022

70cm activity contest results

These have been published. My position is unchanged in the low power section.

See https://www.rsgbcc.org/cgi-bin/vhfresults.pl?Contest=432MHz%20UKAC&year=2022 .

Help always at hand

Whenever I ask for help trying to find something, I usually get a positive response within a few hours. There are so many kind people who always offer their help. Thank you! 

Don't ever let anyone say the spirit of amateur radio has gone. It most definitely is there. This week alone I have had kind offers from several people.

Help needed to find a circuit please

Back in the 1970s my first outings on 70cm were using a circuit I found in a VHF Communications magazine. I guess it would have been 1971-1974 sometime. I think the magazine came out quarterly.

The circuit used a varicap diode as a tripler on TX and as a mixer on RX. The IF was 2m and on 70cm it produced about 100mW as I recall. In those days most were crystal controlled AM and on RX we tuned "low to high", or similar, to get a QSO.

Do you recall this circuit?  If you have a copy of the article I would be most grateful for a copy. 

I have no intention of building it, but it would be nice for old time's sake. From an East Anglian "hill" (yes there are a few, HI) it worked as far as Yorkshire with a very small beam.


UPDATE 1341z:
Found it!! Thanks Henry.


M0ZAE was a great help - thanks again. The edition was November 1971. The link takes you to all back numbers and is a great resource.

10m FT8 mainly RX (Sunday)

Later today, I hope to be on 10m FT8. Although some of the time I shall be QRP TX, most of the time I shall be RX only. 

If F2 E-W is very good, I may QSY to 8m FT8.

UPDATE 1134z: Been on RX since about 1050z.  62 stations spotted so far today.

UPDATE 1255z:   152 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX (see map).

Stations spotted on
10m FT8 RX today
UPDATE 1525z:
401 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX. As of now I do not think conditions will be good enough on 8m for transatlantic DX.

UPDATE 1628z:  471 stations spotted today.

UPDATE 1835z:  Now QSYed to 40.050 MHz to monitor the new (this weekend)  GB3MCB 8m beacon.

Dragonflies? - NOT amateur radio

 

My wife spotted this on Friday on our walk to Wicken Fen. I think it is 2 dragonflies mating, but I am no expert!

I was going to use other words, but thought the censors might object and ban me.

Back of the garage


This was my workshop at the back of the garage in 2012 at the old QTH. 

Sunspots - Sunday September 25th 2022

Solar flux is 147 and the SSN 128.  A=13 and K=2. 

24 Sept 2022

23cm antennas (again)

At one time, a very popular 23cm antenna, for ATV I think, was the bow tie designed by G8GML (now SK). As I recall it was 2 diamond shaped elements with a solid reflector. I think it had a useful (not high) gain and a fairly broad forward lobe. 

For DX contacts, a decent beam with lots of forward gain is usually essential, but such an antenna might be better for me than the PCB HB9CV that, I believe, is supplied with the 23cm transverter that should come next month.

What I am wondering is does anyone make this commercially and at what price?

Such an antenna might be useful on 70cm too.

UPDATE 1907z:   As David says in the comments, Wimo make such an antenna. It looks expensive.

8m QRP FT8 (Saturday)

At the moment, I do not think conditions are good enough for E-W F2 propagation on 8m. Unless things change, I think I shall give 8m a miss today.

UPDATE 1659z:  On 40.680 MHz QRP FT8 (first). ZS6WAB has been very strong in central Europe on 40.680 MHz FT8 in the last hour, but I doubt he will be spotted further north. I think this is TEP.

Shack walk-through

Nearly 4 years ago, I did a walk-through of my shack at that time. Since then, the rigs have changed a bit and I have an 8m dipole erected.



10m QRP FT8 (Saturday)


After a very brief period on TX, I have been on 10m FT8 RX most of the day with 144 stations spotted at 1109z. 

Stations spotted mid-afternoon
on 10m FT8 RX
UPDATE 1551z: 
547 stations spotted today on 10m FT8. Later, if 10m is good, I may QSY to 8m FT8.  I do not think conditions are good enough for E-W 8m FT8 via F2. So far, nothing from central or north America on 10m FT8. Conditions on 10m F2 would have to be very good for me to have a chance on 8m.

The future of radio clubs

For several years radio clubs have been unable to meet because of Covid-19. Some turned to Zoom and found it far better than many expected. I have been very impressed how good these meetings have been. With Zoom all participants can chat and see each other if they wish.

The Cambridge Club has started meeting again in person, but has held "virtual" meetings, so that people at home can still see the talks and take part. As I am really unable to drive far by car at night, I have joined the last 2 meetings by Zoom.

Last night there were far more people on Zoom than in person! I just wonder if this is the future of radio clubs? The advantage of Zoom is speakers and listeners can be anywhere in the world. In the past, CDARC has had people give talks from Canada. With screen sharing this has been really good. We have had viewers from all sorts of places, from where they would be totally unable to attend in person.

What I wonder is should clubs do talks via Zoom with "in person" meet ups, say, once a month? No need to hire rooms, members could be from across the world, they could have lower fees. For those without PCs, people could get together in each other's homes. Social meetings could be in a pub or someone's home.

Love lies bleeding - NOT amateur radio


Until a friend in the village grew these from seed and gave them to us we had never heard of them. We planted them and they made a great display. The name is apt. 

Plans for today

After breakfast, I hope to be on 10m FT8. If 10m is promising, I shall QSY to 8m FT8. 

Where I come from - NOT amateur radio


This is where I come from in South Devon. It is still very beautiful. I try to get there every year. My brother still lives there.

Sunspots - Saturday September 24th 2022

Solar flux is 146 and the SSN 111. A=12 and K=4.

23 Sept 2022

Slovenia - NOT amateur radio

 

It is hard to believe that we went to Slovenia 10 years ago. It is a beautiful country.

It is like Switzerland, but about half the price!

Different challenges

Next year, assuming I am still around (!), I should have some new QRP challenges. I hope to be active on 23cm and on 4m. Both are quite different, but should be fun.

4m next Es season?

Before the next Es season, I hope to convert my FT817ND so that 5V TX appears at the antenna socket and erect a 4m halo under the V2000 vertical omni antenna. 

I know 4m is unlikely to be "open" as much as 10m, 8m or 6m, but there should be several Es openings into Europe. Using my transverter, this should allow me some 4m Es QSOs, especially with FT8.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/vhfuhfmicrowaves/homebrew/4m-transverter .

23cm antenna

The transverter manufacturer has confirmed it will supply a small test antenna. This means I am probably OK for very local contacts initially.

Many thanks for the offers to build me a 23cm antenna. People in our community are very kind and I am really touched by the kindness. As I have said before, there are far more kind people around than bad ones, but these unsung heros are not newsworthy!

OFCOM updates this week

 Their email said:

"Weekly publications update 23 October 2022"

Of course, they meant September!!!  See the OFCOM website for details of what they hold about us.

10m QRP FT8 (Friday)

This morning, I am on 10m FT8.  Initially I was on TX and spotted in the Canary Is, but I am now RX only. No QSOs.

UPDATE 0935z:   So far, I have spotted 25 stations on 10m FT8 RX.


UPDATE 1422z: 463 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX from all over the world.

UPDATE 1725z:  783 stations spotted.

UPDATE 2029z:
10m FT8 still very busy, but I have to go QRT. In all today, on 10m FT8, 940 unique stations spotted (see map). 6 stations spotted my QRP with the furthermost WO4O in Florida.

Sunspots - Friday September 23rd 2022

 Solar flux is 137 and the SSN 99. A=6 and K=3.

22 Sept 2022

23cm antennas?

As regular readers will know, I am buying a 23cm 2W transverter from SG-Labs in Bulgaria. I think at one time they supplied a small 23cm PCB antenna with it. I have to check if this is still the case.

Looking around, 23cm commercial antennas look very expensive. As the majority of QSOs would be local(ish), I am wondering what you would recommend? As my fine motor skills are not good these days, I don't think I could make one. In the past, I would have made one! Is there one that would be ideal for me?

Rally on Sunday

The following rally is due to take place, but as always check with the organisers first!

Sept 25th - Weston Super Mare RS. See https://e-voice.org.uk/weston-super-mare-radio-society .

10m QRP WSPR TX (Thursday)

As the antenna is free, I am on 10m WSPR TX with 500mW from the W5OLF beacon. No spots of me yet today at 1450z.

UPDATE 1521z:  As well as spots of me by local G4KPX (14km) I am also getting spotted by KD5DE (7464km). Pretty sure this is by F2.

UPDATE 1655z:  I am again getting spotted by 2 stations in the Canary Is. If these RX are on, it is unusual not to be spotted by them these days on 10m QRP WSPR.

UPDATE 1840z:  4 stations have spotted me, all multiple times today.

8m QRP FT8 TX and RX (Thursday)

Again, I am on 40.680 MHz QRP FT8 looking for North America.

UPDATE 1516z:  No spots.

UPDATE 1843z:  QRT on 8m now. No spots all day. Well, that was a waste!

2 radio amateurs

One of my old work colleagues, Jenny Bailey G0VQH  (once mayor of Cambridge) is a radio amateur and has a narrowboat. Her boat was moored at Wicken Fen.
We saw her with her partner and Bernie Wright G4HJW at Wicken Fen earlier. Jenny has the boat at the back with the antenna! Am I surprised? No! At work (a LONG time ago) Jenny had a 3 wheeler in drab green with a 20 foot tank whip!

We had a bite to eat at the cafe there. Nice walk with a break.

Autumn colours - NOT amateur radio

We saw these earlier on our walk to Wicken Fen where we had a bite to eat for lunch.

Marconi pre-WW1 radio station

Michael Rainey AA1TJ's Facebook page has this photo of a very early Marconi radio station on Cape Cod. 

By the First World War it was already old technology. 

Where I come from in South Devon - NOT amateur radio


This is a photo of where I come from in South Devon. We can trace our family history back to the mid 1500s in a village near here and I have a record of land ownership nearby in the early 1400s.

Sunspots - Thursday September 22nd 2022

Solar flux is 137 and the SSN 70. A=5 and K=1.

21 Sept 2022

17m FT8 RX (Wednesday)

 As I was getting nowhere on 8m, I decided to QSY to 17m FT8 using my 10m end fed antenna.

UPDATE 1749z:   33 stations already spotted.

Bumper crop - NOT amateur radio

In the orchard next door there is a bumper crop of apples. We had a very wet winter followed by a hot dry summer. 

I guess these must have been ideal conditions.

8m FT8 QRP (Wednesday)

About an hour ago I QSYed to 8m FT8. hoping to be spotted across the Atlantic or spot someone from over there. A QSO would be magic. 

Based on ERP alone, this should be possible as I have done it with less ERP on 10m SSB, so 8m FT8 QRP should be possible.

UPDATE 1733z:  Nothing on RX or TX today. QSYing to 17m FT8 RX.

Memory costs - NOT amateur radio

Amazon is selling Sandisk Ultra 128GB micro SD cards for £13.99. A few years ago this would have been unheard of. 

Imagine what memory will cost in 2032!

Shack 9 years ago

 

This photo shows my shack when we moved to this QTH in summer 2013.

Complete change today?

As an experiment, I may try FT8 RX on a different band with my 10m end fed antenna. I think it has a low SWR on some other bands, but I cannot remember which. 

UPDATE 0836z:  The antenna would appear to be a good match on 17m, 15m. 12m and 10m. Today, I am trying 15m FT8. My very first signal resulted in a QSO with an LZ station. 8 stations have spotted me on QRP TX!  I am RX only now. So far, on 15m FT8 RX, 16 stations spotted.

UPDATE 1113z: 172 stations spotted so far today on 15m FT8 RX.

Sunspots - Wednesday September 21st 2022

Solar flux is 137 and the SSN 70. A=8 and K=2.

20 Sept 2022

8m Cornish beacon

According to the beacon keeper, the 8m beacon at GB3MCB on 40.050 MHz should be operational next weekend subject to the rigger and weather. They also have permission for a 5m beacon.

As yet, I have not checked on modes. I hope to copy it by MS, scatter, and maybe tropo.

The probable modes are CW and PI4. 

In my view, ALL beacons should include an FT8 sequence as this mode is (I think) as good as PI4 and is included free with WSJT-X and other software packages making 24/7 monitoring easy.

10m QRP WSPR (Tuesday)

After a successful RX session on 10m FT8, I am now on 10m QRP WSPR (500mW from my W5OLF beacon) as the antenna is available. 

UPDATE 1815z:  Just F2 spots from 2 stations in the Canary Islands. No DX from the USA today. I think most people now use FT8.

8m FT8 RX (Tuesday)

All afternoon and early evening (UK time) I shall be on 40.680 MHz FT8 RX hoping to spot some DX from North America via F2.

If successful, I hope to be on FT8 TX (40.680) later in the week. My first challenge is can I spot anyone from "across the pond" on my low wire dipole!

OFCOM and Mangata satellite licences

OFCOM is consulting about new licences for satellite opearation by Mangata. See the OFCOM website for details.

South Devon - NOT amateur radio


This is Burgh Island from Thurlestone in South Devon, UK. I don't think this photo has been on the blog already. This is very near where I originally came from and still love. 

10m FT8 RX (Tuesday)

 As mentioned yesterday, I am on 10m FT8 RX again this morning, but may QSY to 8m FT8 RX this afternoon if F2 propagation looks promising. Judging by initial 10m results, F2 to the USA is looking a possibility on 8m later.

Initially, I shall be RX only on 8m FT8 on 40.680 MHz. I shall try TX if things look possible.

UPDATE 0915z:  71 stations already spotted on 10m FT8 RX.

2011 holiday - NOT amateur radio


 In 2011 we had a holiday in Perigord. 



Software VLF RX

This very simple software RX by SM6LKM was found about 10 years ago. I think it has been developed further by others.



Sunspots - Tuesday September 20th 2022

Solar flux is 128 and the SSN 74. A=11 and K=2.

19 Sept 2022

8m FT8 tomorrow?

F2 conditions are getting better, so I may try 8m FT8 tomorrow PM.  I shall probably go on 10m FT8 in the morning. 

At some point this autumn I hope to copy USA 8m stations on 40.680 MHz FT8. To get any reports of my 8m FT8 signals or even a QSO across the Atlantic would be incredible.

23cm antennas?

Next year, all being well, I hope to try some /P 23cm operation in some of the RSGB organised activity contests (UKAC). I am wondering if there is a popular antenna used in these contests?  

Clearly very high gain antennas will give good signals, but will miss stations that are out of the very sharp beamwidth, whereas smaller antennas will have broader beams, but less gain.  Perhaps, stations use one antenna for hunting, then a sharp, high gain one when on beam.

It is a very long time since I was on 23cm and then only RX.

Is there a favourite antenna?

History - NOT amateur radio

Whatever your views are on the monarchy, today's funeral of Queen Elizabeth II of the UK was historic and will have been viewed by billions of people across the globe. 

We watched on TV. 

10m FT8 RX (Monday)

This morning, I am on 10m FT8 RX. Lots of F2 propagation at 0752z. 

UPDATE 1035z:  Worldwide (almost) reception on 10m FT8 RX this morning.

UPDATE 1450z:  513 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today from all over the world.

UPDATE 1920z: 1021 stations spotted today on 10m FT8  RX today. Like old times!

Sunspots - Monday September 19th 2022

Solar flux is 136 and the SSN 51. A=11 and K=1. 

18 Sept 2022

10m FT8 RX (Sunday night)

As I totally failed in my quest to copy the EI1KNH beacon, I have QSYed to 10m FT8 RX. I was going to go QRT, but decided to leave things on for a few minutes. The FT8 segment was full of stations from South America. I went QRT then.

23cms - which locals can I expect to work?

Within 25km of me are probably several stations that I could work on 23cm with a very modest indoor antenna. When my transverter  arrives I shall have to arrange a few skeds!

Future plans

Starting tomorrow, I expect to be mainly on 10m QRP FT8. If F2 looks promising I shall QSY to 8m FT8 on 40.680 MHz hoping for the USA. This might be possible in late October or November.

My order and payment for the 23cm transverter has been received. When it comes, I shall try for some local 23cm QSOs, although my main aim is some UKAC sessions /P next year.

Queues - NOT amateur radio

Do the British like queues?

Our son has just been around for lunch and made a very sensible suggestion about the queue to see the Queen's coffin lying in state. 

Instead of the stupidly long queue why not allocate people timed slots which could have been obtained at ticket offices or online? Some people queued for many cold hours overnight! 

Looking back, the queues were totally unnecessary. Instead, they could have been told. "your slot is Friday at 2145" or similar. They could have then gone away and come back at their appointed time.

In this modern age this was so stupid.

10m QRP WSPR (Sunday)

When on 8m FT8 or other modes, the FT817ND and PC are tied up, so I go on 10m WSPR with the W5OLF 500mW beacon. 

So far this morning, just spots from the Canary Is by what seems like F2 propagation. No signs of any Es today.

UPDATE 1345z:  Some reports have been +6dB S/N which is very strong.

UPDATE 1830z:  FY5KE (7110km) in South America has potting me twice. F2? Probably. The 3 unique stations spotting me today are shown in the table.

The power of the media - NOT amateur radio

It is hard to appreciate just how much the media influences us all. 

In Russia, folks are told that the war in Ukraine is a "special operation" to liberate oppressed people. In the west we are told the Ukrainians are without fault. In the 1970s we were always told the USA was perfect in Vietnam and the Vietcong was evil.

We rarely hear a truly balanced view. All sides want to slant things their way. 

The truth is usually somewhere in the middle. The west is not perfect, Russia is not perfect, Ukraine is not perfect, and the Vietcong was not the evil it was portrayed.

In all wars and in peacetime, the media influences us all. My plea is to get your data from multiple sources and make up your own mind. Don't always believe what you are fed.

Pear cake - NOT amateur radio

Our "harvest" this year has been pathetic and it would have been less costly to get the food from the local supermarket down the road!  

Nonetheless, nothing will be wasted. Take for example of the pear cake, made by my wife yesterday. 

EI1KNH/B 8m beacon last chance

I have been monitoring this Irish beacon for several days and with various modes. So far, I have had no luck. 

After today, I shall stop and try again with MSK144 in an MS shower. 

UPDATE 1815z:  Still nothing. Disappointing as G0RQQ, Keith, is able to get it in Lincoln. I am getting the distinct impression this is not going to work.

UPDATE 1943z:  Nothing. I shall go QRT soon on 8m FT8 RX on the beacon frequency. Failure!

Q900 all band, all mode ,transceiver

This version 3 Q900 transceiver from China looks like the FT817 replacement we never had. It is also much less expensive and is SDR based.  It is also much smaller than it looks.

Yaesu, you have had your chances, but never took them in the run up to solar peak 24 and now 25. Instead, Yaesu messes around with a 100W SDR radio that looks like the one they only recently introduced!! 

Yaesu, have you really lost the plot? 

We could all be forgiven for thinking this.  I used to like Yaesu radios. In recent years, I am really not so impressed.

Like all things from China my feeling is the quality control and support are still not proven. They will get there soon and this may be it.

Lower cost amateur radio products are coming and the big Japanese manufacturers are in for a large shock. The writing is on the wall. I give it a few years only. Certainly when we are in cycle 26 things will look very different indeed. Some of the companies we have known for decades will be gone and there will be new names.

Sunspots - Sunday September 18th 2022

Solar flux is 132 and the SSN 76.  A=5 and K=2.

17 Sept 2022

Es season well and truly over

Although Es can occur at any time, the late spring and early summer are the best times. Often bands up 4m can bring DX to up to 1500km, sometimes more. Rarely, Es occurs at 2m.

Today, for example I saw no evidence of Es propagation on 10m WSPR. The only stations spotting me were probably via F2 propagation or local. The nature of Es is it is sporadic, so the bands can suddenly come alive, which is why FT8 especially can be so useful.

When DX is not around, bands like 10m and 6m can be seriously under-used. This is a pity as they make good bands for club nets and local chats. Antennas are small and local noise is often much better than 160m or 80m, where antennas can be big.

Summer visitors - NOT amateur radio

In the spring and summer, we get bird migrants from Africa. 

In recent years there have been far fewer swallows, although here, surprisingly, swift numbers are not too bad. Swifts mostly go in August to central Africa, whereas many swallows end up in South Africa. 

Most swallows go about now, although a very few may try to over-winter.  As our climate gets milder, some may succeed. It will be next spring before the swifts and swallows, hopefully, return. They have being doing this journey for thousands of years.

Bee-eaters
We are seeing some birds that would have been rare here 50 years ago like little egrets. Even bee-eaters have bred here this year. I have only seen these near the Mediterranean Sea.  

Over the winter we see birds from the far north, who think our climate is mild! Don't tell them otherwise! In this part of the UK we get swans from Iceland and Siberia over the winter.

Shadows - NOT amateur radio


Today is a lovely sunny day here. It feels much colder than a few weeks ago. Inside our church, there were long shadows, as the photo shows.

Amateur beacon on the moon?

 Amateur Radio Weekly reports that the Japanese hope to put a UHF beacon on the moon.

See https://www.isas.jaxa.jp/home/omotenashi/JHRCweb/jhrc.html .

If successfully deployed, this could be a good test for receivers. I am not sure what it will send or when the launch is planned.

23cm transverter

This was ordered this weekend. Hopefully it will arrive early November. Not sure what import duty or VAT is payable. I am sure someone will tell me!

10m QRP WSPR TX

The only spots of me today look like F2 and local, with no Es.  EA8BFK (2880km) and G4KPX (14km) have spotted my 500mW.

Ripening? - NOT amateur radio


This year our tomato plants have been a failure with very few turning red. The green ones are on the windowsill to ripen. If this fails it will be green tomato chutney!!!

Sunspots - Saturday September 17th 2022

 Solar flux is 131 and the SSN 64. A=4 and K=1.

Still no luck here with the EI1KNH 8m beacon

Although Keith in Lincoln has been successful, I have still not decoded the beacon. We are at similar distances from the beacon, I think. It would seem my low horizontal dipole is not as effective as Keith's long wire. I note that the beacon has a vertical dipole whereas mine is horizontal. With scatter and MS this probably does not matter, but with WSPR and tropo it could make all the difference. I shall keep trying!! 

I must check the screen during a WSPR slot to see if it is there at all. It sends WSPR every 20 minutes.  If I can detect it at all, I might briefly try my other antennas just in case these are better in that direction and with  vertical polarisation.

Otherwise, it is MSK144 in a meteor shower.

UPDATE 0936z:  In the last WSPR slots absolutely nothing on the screen with the 8m dipole or 10m end fed antennas. 

UPDATE 1410z: In view of Paul's (G9PUV) comments that he has never spotted WSPR from this beacon, I have switched back to 8m FT8 RX. You never know! It will be monitored all weekend.

16 Sept 2022

Yaesu FT-710 MLS price

Puzzled. 

MLS has just announced the price of the new 100W SDR transceiver, that seems to have a very similar spec to the FTDX-10. It seems the price is lower than the FTDX-10 and the rig a little smaller. What I cannot understand is why Yaesu has done this.

Was the FTDX-10 not quite right? Where is a proper FT817 replacement? It still seems to me that Yaesu is in a muddle and trying to find its way.

See https://www.hamradio.co.uk/top-deals/ft-710 .

EI1KNH/B Irish 8m beacon on 40.013 MHz WSPR

Tim, the beacon keeper, has recommended I try 8m WSPR RX. 

The WSPR sessions are several times an hour and WSPR works with very weak signals. I am on 8m WSPR now, but a bit uncertain about the 2 minute cycles. This may only work with tropo and certainly not work with MS or aircraft.  I may try from now and over the weekend. 

The beacon is only active from 0600-2400, but I am not sure if this is local time or GMT. With tropo, I would have suspected my best chance would be early in the morning?

If this fails (I have low expectations) I may try MSK144 in an MS shower.

8m MSK144 RX

After a period on 40.680 MHz FT8 QRP TX, I have switched to 40.013 MHz MSK144 RX hoping to spot the Irish beacon EI1KNH/B. My best chance (I think) is early morning.

8m QRP FT8 TX (Friday)

All being well, I hope to be on 8m QRP FT8 TX on 40.680 MHz at about 0900z. If the other Irish 8m beacon has FT8, I may try for that overnight.

UPDATE 1020z:   8m FT8 TX gear turned on at 0907z. No spots.

10m QRP WSPR (Friday)

As the 10m antenna should be available, I hope to be on 10m WSPR with my 500mW W5OLF WSPR beacon at 0900z.

UPDATE 0918z:  Gear was on overnight. Just 1 spot from local G3KPX (14km) this morning.

UPDATE 1233z:  8 spots of me today so far. Some appear to be F2 and some might be Es.

23cm portable

As a comment on an earlier post made clear, the 23cm transverter I was thinking if is made in Bulgaria and not the Ukraine, so may still be available. 

I have sent an email about price and delivery to the UK. If promising, I may get one ready for next year, assuming it is still available!

See https://www.sg-lab.com/TR1300/tr1300.html .

UPDATE 1256z:  Just got this email. I think I am going to get one.

"The price of 23cm band transverter V3 is 156 Euro.
The price for shipping is 8 Euro by BG Post .
Payment can be made by Paypal (our account is : info@sg-lab.com ) or by bank transfer.
Now lead time for 23 cm units is 2-3 weeks"

UPDATE 1422z:  I shall place an order. All being well, I shall try some local 23cm SSB tests when the transverter arrives and I have a suitable antenna. Next year, I shall try some 23cm activity sessions from a local highspot. Yes, there are a few in East Anglia!!


No luck on 8m with EI1KNH/B

Overnight I was trying to receive this 8m beacon on 40.013 MHz FT8 using WSJT-X. I was expecting to get the odd MS ping, but nothing. 

I was surprised making me wonder if it is active and using FT8? Anyone know please? I was using the information on QRZ.com. 

Sunspots - Friday September 16th 2022

Solar flux is 140 and the SSN 71. A=6 and K=1.

15 Sept 2022

PI4 decoding

For some reason (probably by mistake) I assumed that PI4 was one of the modes supported by WSJT-X. Imagine my surprise today when I found it not there. My version of WSJT-X is 2.5.4.  

Instead I had to download some special software to decode PI4. I have not yet checked if there is a map upload a bit like PSKreporter maps.

I was hoping to decode one of the Irish beacons, EI1KNH/B on 40.013 MHz PI4.

If PI4 is not supported by WSJT-X why is it used rather than FT8 or WSPR by beacons? I don't think it is magically better than FT8.

My other questions are (1) what mode do I select and (2) what dial frequency do I set to decode EI1KNH/B in PI4? At the moment it is set to 40.013 DIG on the FT817ND, but I have no idea if this is correct.

UPDATE 2057z:  It looks like EI1KNH/B now uses FT8 instead of PI4, so I am now monitoring FT8 instead. It sends FT8 every 10 minutes. See https://www.qrz.com/db/EI1KNH/.  I shall monitor overnight.

HF conditions

It is rare for me to go lower than 28 MHz on HF. Certainly conditions on 10m seem good with loads of spots of my QRP 10m FT8 from the USA. I had to QSY, but when I left the band it was still good.  

I was hoping this was my first chance of F2 to/from the USA on 8m, but not this time. Whenever 10m F2 looks promising E-W, I shall try 8m FT8. Hopefully there will be other chances. 

Having worked the USA with QRP SSB handheld from the bedroom, I am in with a chance on 8m FT8.

23cm portable?

At one time there was very good 23cm transverter available from the Ukraine, but I doubt that is currently available. 

I was considering 23cm portable operation next year using the FT817ND as the driver/IF. What 23cm transverters are currently available and at what price please? What would you recommend? I assume 2W is the typical power for a /P station.

Sadly, my fine motor skills these days rule out kits, so I would be looking at a ready made unit.

Rally

The following rally is due this weekend. As ever, check first before travelling far.

Saturday September 17th - Angel of the North Radio Rally, Gateshead. Contact westona84@gmail.com 

Cornish 8m beacon

I gather the GB3MCB beacon cluster has got approval to add 8m and 5m beacons. I don't think these are active yet, but the 8m beacon will be interesting to monitor on PI4. I expect it will beam towards the USA. 

For me in East Anglia  the most likely propagation will be random MS or aircraft. I think tropo is unlikely.

10m QRP WSPR (Thursday)

The 10m WSPR QRP (500mW) beacon has been on for just over 1 hour. Furthermost (at 1238z) is FY5KE (7110km). The only other station spotting me is local G4KPX (14km).

8m QRP FT8 (Thursday)

Yesterday was wide open to the USA on 10m FT8, so I was hopeful of copying, or better still being copied, on 8m in the USA. No such luck! The only 8m station spotted was G9PUV on the south coast of England.

UPDATE 1134z:  8m QRP FT8 gear turned on at 1127z.

UPDATE 1234z: No spots.

UPDATE 1517z:  EI9KP (649km) has again spotted me and I have spotted him this afternoon on 8m FT8. I am still wondering what the propagation mechanism is - MS, aircraft? Es would seem unlikely at this distance and time of year. It seems too far for tropo.  EI9KP spots me far more often than others.  Interesting that EI9KP is about 7dB stronger at G9PUV/A than with me. Is this because Paul has a beam? Now 8m FT8 RX only.

That free PDF book

So far, all the feedback has been positive. 

Already, I have thought of things left out, so these will be included in an issue 2 later. 

Feel free to download the free book if you want. You can keep it as a soft copy or print out relevant pages.

See https://tinyurl.com/y56vjhd6

UPDATE 1306z:  Someone in the USA has very kindly made a donation. Thank you! As I have said before, I have absolutely no wish to make any money at all from this book. It is a labour of love. I shall give this to the local foodbank, but I really appreciate the kindness.

Sunspots - Thursday September 15th 2022

Solar flux is 144 and the SSN 57. A=9 and K=4.

14 Sept 2022

10m QRP FT8


At 1352z I switched from 10m WSPR and 8m FT8 to 10m QRP FT8.  On 10m WSPR and 8m FT8 I have had no spots all day. 

23 spots of me on 10m FT8 QRP TX mostly in the USA. On 10m FT8 RX, 131 spots, mostly from the USA. 

The photo shows some of the stations, mainly in the USA, that  spotted me. Considering it is just a few watts, quite a few!

The death of the UK Queen and the new King - NOT amateur radio

Whether or not you are a royalist, the UK queen worked very hard as head of state. She was well respected across the world. 

My own view is that nobody deserves respect or wealth just because of who you were born. Much wealth is based on slavery. This is wrong.

In the case of the queen she has dedicated her whole life to the service of the UK. She has earned respect. I hope King Charles III can similarly earn our respect. 

He has a hard act to follow. Initial signs are good.

70cm FT8 contest this evening

If things are normal, this evening is the 70cm FT8 activity contest. Activity is usually high. 

Even with the V2000 vertical or 2m big-wheel omni I usually copy PA and EI and manage a few QSOs. Normal FT8 QSOs are fine. No special contest software. Even if you don't enter a score, this is a good chance to find activity.

If you think 70cm is quiet, you are in for a shock! 

See https://www.rsgbcc.org/cgi-bin/contest_rules.pl?year=2022&contest=70cmsgmac. The RSGB contest starts at 1900z.

UPDATE 1958z:  I only stopped on for about 30 minutes, but despite 5W to the 2m omni big-wheel I was copied as far away as Devon. Had I been on longer I am pretty sure further would have been possible. 1 QSO was had and I was called by another but we did not complete. On RX, the furthermost was Cornwall and the Netherlands.

Last night's 70cm activity contest

Last night I was only on for 30 minutes. Conditions seemed a bit up, but after 30 minutes my voice had had enough. Also, I had probably worked all the stations that I was likely to with my 10W pep and 2m big-wheel omni antenna. In all, 5 stations were worked. The map shows the stations worked.

Amsterdam gables - NOT amateur radio


This is probably the last of the photos from our break in Amsterdam last week. It show the gables on the ends of buildings. There are loads of beautiful houses in the city.

We like the Netherlands very much. 

We have been there many times.

10m QRP WSPR (Wednesday)

 Since about 0930z I have been on 10m WSPR TX with my 500mW W5OLF beacon. No spots.

Change of plan - 8m QRP FT8 (Wednesday)

A change of plan. I decided to try QRP FT8 on 40.680 MHz right away. Rig turned on about 0930z. No spots after 6 minutes.

UPDATE 1106z:  No spots so far. Rig going off to cool.

10m FT8 RX

After breakfast I hope to be on 10m FT8 RX again. Yesterday was successful. If 10m FT8 is promising, I shall switch to 8m FT8 QRP TX and 10m WSPR. 

UPDATE 0942z:  Change of plan. See other posts.

Squirrel - NOT amateur radio

 


This was seen at Anglesey Abbey yesterday. 

Sunspots - Wednesday September 14th 2022

Solar flux is 154 and the SSN 93. A=4 and K=0.

13 Sept 2022

60m (5 MHz) allocations

Before I start, let me say my "outings" on 60m are rare. 

Speaking personally I find the UK allocations totally confusing. I would much prefer to have the WARC 15 kHz wide allocation instead. Many countries now have this. Using modes like WSPR and FT8, very little spectrum is needed. 

I know much of this is beyond our control, but I am sure a narrower contiguous band would be preferable to many, especially if this was a worldwide allocation.

Amsterdam - NOT amateur radio


We like the Netherlands. The people are friendly and, in many ways, like us. 

The photo shows a typical view of Amsterdam last week with bikes (lots!), canals and lovely houses. It is our 7th visit, so we must like it! 

I have also been to the Netherlands many times for work years ago.

10m FT8 (Tuesday)

Just before breakfast, I turned on 10m FT8 with the FT817ND. At 0817z, 8 stations have been received. I am not on TX at the moment.

UPDATE 0911z: 12 stations so far spotted on 10m FT8 RX today.

UPDATE 1251z:   Doh! Guess who forgot to turn on the PSU? Silly me, this meant the FT817ND worked until its batteries died.

UPDATE 1322z:
So far today (with the break!) 33 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 2117z:
235 stations spotted. QRT soon.

Amsterdam breakfast


This was breakfast last week in Amsterdam. There seems to be a lack of fruit there, which surprised us. 

Sunspots - Tuesday September 13th 2022

Solar flux is 150 and the SSN 117. A=9 and K=0.

12 Sept 2022

10m QRP FT8

It is now 1555z and I have been on 10m FT8 for about 5 minutes. So far, just 2 G spots on RX.

UPDATE 1638z:  Pretty poor!  Just 4 Gs spotted on RX. Nobody has spotted me on TX.

UPDATE 1657z:   Just G0FWX (160km) has spotted me.

UPDATE 1912z:  8 stations spotted on RX with the furthermost ZS1AN (9742km).

UPDATE 2118z: QRT now. 26 stations spotted including Africa, South America, North America and Caribbean stations. 

Earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground

Until our son accidentally cut it, I used this antenna extensively from VLF to 60m. On 630m (472 kHz) it consistently got reports from Norway with a measured ERP  of just 10mW using WSPR. 

My theory is that at low frequencies it acts as a loop in the ground. As you go higher in frequency the loop gets smaller, so the antenna gets worse. 

If my theory is correct, the loop will get larger as frequency is lowered making it very effective for sub-10 kHz communications. Indeed, such an antenna has been used to great effect by DK2FC and others at VLF.

For use on LF and MF it has worked well for me.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/antennas/earth-electrode-antennas .

Beginhof, Amsterdam - NOT amateur radio


This is a very secret and calming part of Amsterdam with an entrance that is quite obscure. 

Our "harvest" - NOT amateur radio

This year we grew pears, tomatoes, crab apples and beans as well as some herbs. 

Most of the tomatoes are still green. As you can see, this has not exactly been a bumper year. We had a wet winter and dry spring with a very hot summer. The pears were not bad (if a bit hard) and the crab apples just enough to half fill a small jar with crab apple jelly. Beans? Maybe enough for 1 meal. Tomatoes? If the green ones turn red I may have the same as a punnet from a supermarket. If they stay green I shall have a go at green tomato chutney. Overall, a disappointing "harvest".