31 Jan 2022

2m FT8 RX

At 1945z my 2m FT8 system was turned on.  So far, 8 stations have been spotted.

UPDATE 2148z:   14 stations spotted.

UPDATE 2235z:   QRT.

8m NoV application - STILL no news!

It is now 3 weeks and a day since I asked OFCOM for an update on my NoV application submitted in October.  Still no news! 

I am only really after 50Hz of spectrum during the 2022 Es season at low power.

In the last few years  OFCOM has released 2000000Hz of precious VHF spectrum for DATV experiments.

Come on!!!!

Oscar 100 activity update

Every few weeks I take a peek at the activity levels on the narrowband transponder of this geosynchronous satellite by looking at the Goonhilly webSDR. This was at 1400z on a Monday. There were 6 SSB QSOs going on, which is better than the last time I looked. There is still plenty of space.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/ .

Solar data update soon

Usually on the first or second day of the month the solar data on my favourite solar data site is updated. Expect an update Tuesday or Wednesday.

See https://www.solen.info/solar/ .

Village cottage - NOT amateur radio


In our village is a mix of old and new houses. This one is quite new!! 1800s I think. 

10m FT8 QRP (Monday)

After a very brief period on TX at 2.5W (spotted by 2E0VDS), I am RX only.  So far, 75 stations spotted including several in Australia.

UPDATE 1352z: 483 stations spotted on RX.  There is little doubt 10m is getting back into its stride as a great DX band with most of the world spotted.

UPDATE 1559z:   620 stations spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1915z:  682 stations spotted on RX. QRT soon.

Parasite? - NOT amateur radio

This photo shows a tree at Ickworth near Bury St Edmunds yesterday.  

Sunspots - Monday January 31st 2022

Solar flux is 130 and the SSN 70.  A=10 and K=3.

30 Jan 2022

10m WSPR TX beacon using 500mW

At the moment I am on 10m WSPR TX using 500mW from the W5OLF beacon. So far, 4 unique stations have spotted me. 

UPDATE 1555z: 4 unique stations have spotted me.

UPDATE 2130z:  6 unique stations spotted me with the furthermost W4WLO/B11 (7271km). Now QRT.

2m FT8 RX

Most of the morning I've been on 2m FT8 RX using the omni big-wheel antenna. So far, 24 stations spotted. 

UPDATE 1559z:   64 stations in 7 countries spotted.

UPDATE 2030z:
   91 stations spotted with the furthermost F1GTU (788km).  I suspect some of these will be tropo, but I think some are scatter.

UPDATE 2130z:  93 stations spotted on RX.  A brief 2.5W TX was spotted by 6 stations with the furthermost G4LOH (455km) in Cornwall.

Ickworth - NOT amateur radio

In the winter sun we went for a walk around the grounds at Ickworth near Bury St Edmunds. This is owned by the National Trust. 

160m FT8 overnight

214 stations spotted on RX overnight with the non resonant 10m antenna and just one in the USA. 

Sunspots - Sunday January 30th 2022

Solar flux is 125 and the SSN 74.  A=17 and K=3. 

29 Jan 2022

On 160m FT8 RX again

This evening I again on 160m FT8 RX using the non-resonant 10m antenna. This clashes with a contest, so there is competition from CW stations. Despite this, lots of Europeans spotted so far. 

UPDATE 2200z: 149 stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX.

Tent - NOT amateur radio


My son has bought a tent. It is currently in his garden.

FT8 versus WSPR

Both these modes are part of the WSJT-X suite from Joe Taylor. 

WSPR needs about 6Hz of spectrum (not much) and 2 minutes for the most common form of WSPR.  WSPR is really a beaconing mode.  

FT8 is a communications mode and needs about 50Hz with 15 second TX slots. WSPR works with signals much weaker than FT8. FT8 works with signals much weaker than SSB or CW.

Both offer the minimum exchange of data and neither are "chatting" modes. As they work with very weak signals and need so little bandwidth they have been transformative in amateur radio. They are not instead of speech modes, but as well as.

There are other modes also available in the free WSJT-X suite.

Personally, I enjoy both modes, especially as my voice is poor since my 2013 stroke.

War - NOT amateur radio

In my view, wars solve little. One wonders how many wars in history would not have happened had women been in charge. 

During WW2, my dad was a Pathfinder. These were the bravest of airmen, the elite.  He survived the war, but rarely wanted to speak about those times. He was lucky to have survived as many did not. One of my greatest regrets was not talking with him before he died in 1987 about those dark days . 

He must have been so brave as were people who have fought in wars from the dawn of history.

Life and quantum physics - NOT amateur radio

One of the "takeaway" things from my university course on quantum mechanics (that seems a very long time away now!) was that things could also be described as waves. These waves exist in all space and all time, but are much more probable here and now. To all intents and purposes they are "things" here and now.

The intriguing thought is that in some sense we have always existed everywhere.

Now my understanding may well be flawed, but it goes to show that what we experience as reality may not be how things are. Reality for us is based on our experiences of life.  It pays to be humble: we only know a very little. Be open minded.

Google "quantum entanglement".

One thing I am sure about: one hundred years from now we will look back at these times with amazement: did they really believe that and did they really drive around in vehicles that needed fossil fuels?

Hope - NOT amateur radio

We usually have a good show of daffodils under the trees in our close. Snowdrops are appearing everywhere now and these daffs are now pushing through. In a few weeks time, they will look great. Winter is still here, but there are signs of hope and new life.

10m WSPR TX (500mW)

Since just before lunch, I have been on 10m WSPR QRP TX with the W5OLF beacon. So far, 3 unique stations spotted.

Whenever I go on 10m WSPR QRP TX, I seem to get spotted by much the same stations. Local G4KPX always gets me if he is about as do a couple of stations in the Canary Is. Occasionally I get spotted in S.America. Rarely, others spot me. 

In the last solar peak I was copied across the planet. However, more people seem to have swapped to FT8 for weak signal communications. There is more 10m WSPR than I was expecting though. If the 10m antenna is available, I go on 10m WSPR TX.

8m NoV - zzzzz

A week ago I got an email from OFCOM saying someone was chasing my 8m NoV application submitted last October. 3 weeks after chasing them I have had no progress update - zzzzzz. 

If I was offering them £2M for a mobile phone licence I would have probably heard by return in October.

How can you be impressed by such shabby customer service? In my working life I was told customers are our most important asset. Such service from OFCOM would (rightly) get someone the sack. 

Optical beacon

This photo shows my optical beacon built 10 years ago. I still have it. 

160m FT8 RX in the last 12 hours

Overnight I was on 160m FT8 RX with the non-resonant 10m antenna. In all 499 stations were spotted, but fewer USA stations than I expected. 

Sunspots - Saturday January 29th 2022

Solar flux is 113 and the SSN 77.  A=8 and K=4.

28 Jan 2022

160m FT8 RX

This evening, I am on 160m FT8 RX using the 10m antenna. So far (at 2117z) 355 stations spotted with the furthermost HS0ZNR (9696km).

UPDATE 2220z:  428 stations spotted including 1 in the USA.

Ely market - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows the market square in Ely not too far from here. Sadly, there are too many 1960s buildings around, which would not be allowed today.  I suspect if they had been developing the square today they would have chosen designs much more in keeping.

The famous Ely cathedral is very close to this spot.

Soon be spring - NOT amateur radio

This photo was taken in Cambridge earlier today. Spring is not far away. 


This could be me in the early 1960s. 

Home? - NOT amateur radio

Although I left this part of Devon in 1970, it still feels like home. The photo shows earlier today. 

15m FT8 RX (Friday)

Since about 0930z I have been on 15m FT8 RX using the 10m antenna. At 0948z, 50 stations spotted.

137kHz tests in 2013

This was in 2013 when my QRP signal was spotted 101km away. 

King's, Cambridge - NOT amateur radio


The photo shows King's, Cambridge.  King's College Chapel is world famous as the home of the famous "Nine Lessons and Carols" each Christmas.

Sunspots - Friday January 28th 2022

Solar flux is 107 and the SSN 85. A=7 and K=2.

27 Jan 2022

70cm FT8

 A few moments ago I turned on 70cm FT8. After an initial QRP TX session (no spots of my 2.5W to the 2m big-wheel omni antenna) I am now RX only.

UPDATE 2104z:   No spots.

Rally news

As far as I know the Lincoln Shortwave Club rally is on this Sunday January 30th, but I suggest you check before travelling any distance.

The Canvey Rally in February has been cancelled I understand.

As always in these uncertain times, it is always worth checking if rallies are cancelled or postponed.

UPDATE 2315z: The Lincoln rally has been cancelled (see Keith's comment below). 

FT8 RX with non-resonant antennas

In the last day, I have been amazed at the results with non-resonant antennas on FT8 RX. May be I shouldn't be. 

On 160m FT8 RX one often has to add attenuation and, as long as the S/N is fine, it will still get results. 

On 15m FT8 RX, I guess my 10m antenna is a few dBs down, but as long as the S/N is sufficient I will still get decodes.

Fungus - NOT amateur radio


This was seen growing on a tree some years ago. I cannot remember the month.

15m FT8 RX

At the moment, I am monitoring 15m FT8 RX with the 10m antenna. I have been on for about 10 minutes. At 1010z, 43 stations spotted.

UPDATE 1502z:  684 stations spotted today on 15m FT8  RX.

Cambridge Street - NOT amateur radio

Cambridge has lots of bikes. 

New roof - NOT amateur radio

This thatched cottage is having a new roof. Quite expensive. It is in the nearby village of Wicken.

Sunspots - Thursday January 27th 2022

Solar flux is 102 and the SSN 71. A=10 and K=1. 

160m FT8 RX

This was a good session on 160m FT8 RX. In all, 546 stations were spotted including many in the USA.  Much to my surprise, I had left the 10m antenna plugged in, so this was on a very short, non-resonant antenna!

26 Jan 2022

10m FT8

We returned home about 1440z. I am now on 10m FT8, initially on 2.5W TX, now RX only. On TX I was spotted by G0FWX (160km) and a couple of stations have been spotted on RX. These could be Es, tropo or aircraft.

UPDATE 2210z:  8 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX with the furthermost  LU1DVH (11217km).

160m FT8 later?

For the last few days I have been in Sheffield for a funeral. We return home shortly. I hope to be on 160m FT8 RX later.

UPDATE 2211z: 222 stations spotted this evening with the furthermost RW9JZ (4318km).

Old postbox - NOT amateur radio

In the UK, most postboxes are red. Some are very old. The photo shows the one outside Sheffield cathedral. It looks very old. 

Seen from the train - NOT amateur radio

This is the crooked spire of Chesterfield Church seen from the train to Sheffield. 

Sunspots - Wednesday January 26th 2022

Solar flux is 101 and the SSN 53. A=13 and K=2.

25 Jan 2022

Trondra, Shetland - NOT amateur radio

This photo was posted on 365project today. It shows the island of Trondra in Shetland. 

137kHz QRSS tests 9 years ago

This was 9 years ago. 

Sunspots - January 25th 2022

 Solar flux is 95 and the SSN 26. A=4 and K=3. 

24 Jan 2022

Lavenham - NOT amateur radio

Lavenham is a village about an hour from here. It is filled with timber framed houses and a grand church. 

It got rich when the wool trade was at its height many centuries ago. 

Globe 2018 - NOT amateur radio


This collection of photos dates from January 2018. I cannot recall the package I used. 

If you look carefully at the image when clicked, you will see it is of all the photos I took back then.

8m NoV with OFCOM

"Dear Customer,

We have received your submission and a member of the Licensing team will be processing it in due course. "

I have received this non-response so many times from OFCOM in the last 2 weeks that I could probably wallpaper a room with these. 

All I am asking is for a progress report. Is that really rocket science? The NoV application was submitted in October!


UPDATE 2022z:  Well I have at last had a response from a human being! Not a progress update, but at least I know someone is actually there! 

70cm FT8

Hepburn was right! 70cm was good last evening with 51 stations spotted on 70cm FT8 RX. 

12 stations spotted my 2.5W FT8 to the 2m big-wheel omni antenna. 

Imagine what stations with big-beams and high power were doing!

Sunspots - Monday January 24th 2022

Solar flux is 94 and the SSN 22.  A=8 and K=0.

23 Jan 2022

70cm QRP FT8 (Sunday)

At about 1435z, I turned my 70cm FT8 gear on. After a few minutes calling CQ with 2.5W  to the 2m big-wheel, I am now RX only. 5 stations have spotted my QRP  (to my amazement!) with the furthermost PA2M (311km). Nobody spotted on RX.

Stations spotting my 2.5W
to the 2m big-wheel antenna
on 70cm FT8 TX today
UPDATE 1542z:   8 stations spotted on 70cm FT8 RX with the furthermost GI6ATZ (479km) - the latter tropo or scatter? DLs also spotted.

UPDATE 1635z: 20 stations spotted with the furthermost DF2VJ (570km) in the Saar region.

UPDATE 1924z:  40 stations spotted on 70cm FT8 RX.

UPDATE 2030z:  46 stations have been spotted on RX. On 2.5W TX the furthermost report of me is by G4RRA (333km).

UPDATE 2200z:  51 stations spotted on 70cm FT8 RX with the furthermost DK5IR (686km).

8m and the ISM band?

The ISM band at 8m is 40.66 - 40.7MHz with an ERP limit of 10mW. Now, I am no expert and you need to convince yourself of the legal position, but I think anyone can operate at these frequencies as long as they accept interference and cause no interference.

These ISM frequencies are international allocations not really intended for radio communications. As I understand it, you can operate at these frequencies without a licence with any mode as long as you meet the ERP limits.

As far as I know, you could send callsigns. 10mW ERP is enough to span Europe in a good Es opening especially with FT8.

As I said, I do not know all the legal conditions and advise you to check carefully first. I know of one UK amateur that intends to TX with 10mW ERP CW as a beacon in the ISM band.

My NoV? Nothing at all received from OFCOM after 2 weeks of chasing apart from those computer generated replies saying they have received my query which is being replied to. But WHEN??? At this rate I shall be dead before I hear!

Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk, UK - NOT amateur radio

This is a moated house dating from the time of Elisabeth I. It was owned by the Bennington family, who were persecuted Catholics. There is priest hole where priests hid. 

It is today owned by the National Trust.

70cm FT8 promising?

According to the Hepburn Tropo Forecast, 70cm FT8 could be promising this evening. 

Rather than use the V2000 vertical, I may try with the horizontal 2m big-wheel antenna instead. Although the vertical V2000 is quite effective with scatter, the big-wheel is probably better with tropo. 

Snailwell - NOT amateur radio

This is a good name for this sleepy village, not far from Newmarket. 

There are very very few churches in this county with round towers. Nearby Norfolk has plenty.

2015 operating

The photo shows me operating in 2015. Since then, I have bought and sold an FT991A and bought a network radio and an IC-705 from ICOM. 

Wymondham, Norfolk - NOT amateur radio

This is a small town west of Norwich. In the 1800s, my wife's family moved to Sheffield from here at a time when agriculture was depressed and times were very hard. You can imagine the squalor they found up there. We go back to Wymondham most years. It is a delightful place about an hour from here. 

Next time, I suspect we'll go by train as I find driving hard these days.

Ultra simple 80m Transceiver


Just how simple can you make a transceiver that actually works? This is on my main website. I hope it gives you some ideas.

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

At Anglesey Abbey - NOT amateur radio

This photo was taken yesterday at nearby Anglesey Abbey. 

Sunspots - Sunday January 23rd 2022

Solar flux is 95 and the SSN 22. A=10 and K=3 . 

22 Jan 2022

137kHz experiments some years ago

The photo shows the screen shot of my 137kHz experiments some years ago. I used the earth electrode antenna buried in snow with a small E-field probe on the car. ERP was just a few microwatts. This was January 2013.

10m FT8 QRP (Saturday)

At the moment I am on 10m FT8 with 2.5W. After a very brief period on TX, I am now on RX only. 

UPDATE 1945z: 140 stations spotted today with the furthermost LU6HWT (11348km).

160m FT8 RX in the last 24 hours

As mentioned yesterday, I went on 160m FT8 RX last evening and overnight using the coax to my 2m big-wheel via a ferrite rod ATU. In all, 348 stations spotted including 1 in Japan and several in the USA. 

8m article in February RSGB RadCom

It was good to see my 8m article in the latest RadCom. 

In the years ahead, I can see a small amateur allocation at 8m. At the moment a few dedicated experimenters are ploughing a furrow. In years ahead I can see more applying for special permits. This really is at the boundary between HF and VHF and some serious propagation research is possible.

NoV application with OFCOM? Despite chasing for almost 2 weeks I have no news!! What a shower! 

Sunspots - Saturday January 15th 22nd 2022

 Solar flux is 97 and the SSN 23. A=8 and K=2.

21 Jan 2022

160m FT8 RX (Friday)

This evening and overnight, I hope to be on 160m FT8 RX using the coax tp my 2m big-wheel and a ferrite rod ATU. I have been on for about 20 minutes. At 2043z, 79 stations spotted.

UPDATE 2200z: 169 stations spotted with the furthermost JI1APQ (9263km)

Brother's visit 2014 - NOT amateur radio

In 2013 I was in hospital for 3.5 months with my stroke and was out again in January 2014. My brother visited me frequently in hospital despite living nearly 300 miles away. He came again in early 2014 on my return home. The photo shows one such visit. 


The photo shows me building something. 

This must date from before 2013 when we moved QTH.  This was at the back of the garage where most of my building was done.

At the present QTH I have positions in the shack for both operating and building, although I have done little building since my stroke.  I find my fine motor skills and eyesight are not good enough these days.

Operating is mostly with digital modes as I find speaking hard these days. I use SSB and FM/AM, but mostly FT8 and WSPR.

10m QRP FT8 (Friday)

At about 0845z, I turned on my 10m FT8 system. A brief 2.5W TX period was spotted by G8DX (197km). On RX just one spot so far probably aircraft or tropo from a station in the Netherlands.

The last 12 hours on 472kHz WSPR RX

 Last evening and overnight I was on 472kHz WSPR RX using the coax to my 2m big-wheel via an ATU. 8 unique stations were spotted with the furthermost OH1LSQ (1733km).

Lerwick, Shetland - NOT amateur radio

This photo shows Lerwick in the Shetland Islands. It was posted on 365project on January 20th. 

Sunspots - Friday January 21st 2022

Solar flux is 99 and the SSN 60. A=5 and K=0.

20 Jan 2022

472kHz WSPR RX

At the moment I am on 472kHz (630m) WSPR RX using the coax up to the 2m big-wheel antenna tuned via the ferrite rod ATU on the shack bench. So far, 3 unique stations spotted with the furthermost OH1LSQ (1733km).

70cm FT8 - NOT this evening

 As the Hepburn tropo forecast looks poor, I have decided not to go on 70cm FT8 this evening. I may try 160m FT8 instead.

Punts - NOT amateur radio

Cambridge UK is famous for its colleges and punts on the R.Cam. The photo shows a punt outside King's College. The world famous King's College Chapel is about 200m away.

10m FT8 grabber

If you want to see the stations being copied here try this link. If your browser stops embedded pages try the link given instead.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/10m-ft8-grabber .

Or try https://pskreporter.info/pskmap.html?preset&callsign=g3xbm&txrx=rx&band=27999999-31000000&timerange=86400&mapCenter=16.191222112538867,36.66666666666666,2.925736525647676 which should be the direct permalink.

Just occasionally, the grabber may be looking at something else, although mostly it will be on 10m FT8.

More Bronze Age finds - NOT amateur radio

These were more finds revealed last evening at our local history society meeting.  

The fact that people were living in communities just 300m from us 3000 years ago is pretty humbling.

10m FT8 QRP (Thursday)

From 0945z, I have been on 10m FT8 . So far, 6 stations spotted.

UPDATE 1430z:  73 stations spotted so far with the furthermost ZS6AF (9156km).

UPDATE 1628z:  76 stations spotted today. 

UPDATE 1917z:  101 stations spotted. Furthermost is CA7OKD (12687km). QRT soon.

3000 years old pin - NOT amateur radio

Last night we went to our local history society meeting when they revealed the results of a dig 300m from home where they are building new homes. 

This pin is 3000 years old. It was on an extensive Bronze Age settlement. 

Oscar 100 activity

Every few weeks I look at the webSDR at Goonhilly in Cornwall to judge activity on the narrowband transponder of this geosynchronous satellite. The last look was at 1845z on January 19th. 

Compared with the last time I looked it seems busier, but it is still very quiet. At this time, in a European evening, I would expect activity to be highest.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/ .

Sunspots - Thursday January 20th 2022

Solar flux is 105 and the SSN 57.  A=23 and K=1.

19 Jan 2022

70cm FT8 QRP (Wednesday)

At about 1830z, I went on 70cm FT8 with 2.5W and the V2000 vertical. So far (at 1837z) no spots given or received.

UPDATE 2244z: No spots at all. Hopeless. QRT. 

Shadows - NOT amateur radio

This shadow of our lamp intrigued me.