28 Feb 2022
Peace and harmony have always been my wish. We in the west are far from perfect, but I think recent actions by Russia are counter-productive with many countries being appalled by Putin's heavy handedness against fellow slavs.
In the end we all want peace. Let's hope good sense will prevail.
OFCOM has assured me that it has granted all I asked for, but seem unable to tell me exactly what I am getting before I pay £50!
As I do not know several things, I have asked them to clarify these before I shell out. I think this is reasonable. My wish is to go ahead.
Assuming all is OK, I hope to start TXing FT8 before the Es season and all reports will be appreciated. I suspect this summer could be most interesting on 8m regarding propagation studies.
UPDATE 1239z: OFCOM has clarified things. It has granted me 40-42MHz and I can use my own amateur callsign. It is soon to invoice me. The permit is for a year starting April 2nd 2022. I must not cause interference!
27 Feb 2022
Once again, 10m is becoming a great DX band.
Most days, DX from across the globe has been copied on 10m FT8.
If you are after a simple RX to monitor 10m FT8, then my 10FT8R RX may be the answer. You may be able to make yours better or simpler!
John Lewis is one of the most respected store chains in the UK.
Recently, they announced they would be "retiring" (don't you love that?) their long held policy of never knowingly undersold. This basically meant if you could buy it cheaper elsewhere, they would match the price. With the internet, this policy is far more difficult now.
Whilst I understand this, it is yet another example of things getting worse rather than better. In my view John Lewis, like many high street shops, is struggling. I hope they survive.
26 Feb 2022
At about 1900z I QSYed to 40m FT8 RX using the 10m endfed antenna untuned. So far (at 1957z) 221 stations spotted. At the moment 40m seems to be the best all round band day and night. I shall probably leave it on overnight.
UPDATE 2020z: 264 stations spotted.
Yesterday I had an email from OFCOM saying they have approved my application for an 8m permit. They forgot to tell me what the permit will say! Assuming it is what I asked for, I shall be invoiced and will start transmitting before the Es season starts.
It seems this OFCOM department is more efficient than the last. It has taken a few weeks whereas the last department took almost 5 months to tell me to get a different licence!
At the moment I am on 10m FT8 QRP with 2.5W. After a brief period on TX (2 G spots). I am RX only with 4 spots so far, all European. I have also spotted an FR4 earlier, but for some reason this did not appear on PSKreporter. Both G stations were not local. So, this was either normal tropo or aircraft I suspect. In the past, I have copied G stations from across the country on normal propagation on SSB. FT8 is likely to be far more effective.
UPDATE 0916z: Now one station in South Africa also spotted - ZS6KED (8874km).
UPDATE 1026z: Now 25 stations spotted.UPDATE 1415z: 56 stations spotted.
With the recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia, it suddenly feels that the world order is changing.
Now, I know that there are always 2 sides to any stories in the propaganda circulated in the run-up to wars and we in the west are not prefect.
However, I am concerned that many in Russia and Ukraine would much prefer not to have wars, destruction and loss of lives. This is especially true when many have relatives in the other country. Why can't peace prevail?
I also worry about Belarus. If its leader decides to try to attack any of the Baltic states that are NATO members, then by the articles of the treaty, all NATO members are being attacked.
What about China and Taiwan?
No, the balance of power is changing and it will impact the lives of our children and grandchildren.
All I ask is that we all try to live at peace with our neighbours.
Interesting that there we're several people on 40m FT8 sending "CQ STOPTHE WAR" and "CQ ST0PPUTIN".
Let history judge.
25 Feb 2022
24 Feb 2022
Some years ago I wanted a simple antenna for the band and the Homebase-10 was born.
It is now 1648z. About an hour ago I QSYed to 40m FT8 RX using the untuned 10m antenna. I guess the untuned 10m antenna is just like sticking an attenuator in, which is no bad thing on 40m. So far, 206 stations already spotted on 40m FT8 RX.
UPDATE 2202z: 684 stations spotted on 40m FT8 RX with the furthermost WP3R (6851km).
Before my 2013 stroke, I had every intention for designing and making a very simple rig for 10m sideband. Several ideas were already on the table, but I never had time to do this. Since my stroke I have found it almost impossible to design and make things.
Times have moved on and a synthesised VFO is probably the way to go nowadays. Also, for a single band like 10m, a phasing SSB rig would probably be fine, even if the LSB suppression was not perfect.
In my view, 10m will be a great DX band for many years. I hope somebody else (not me) will take my ideas and design a simple, low cost 10m sideband rig. I can imagine a nice, simple and easily reproduced sideband rig for £20-40 being possible. Imagine, working the world on a simple sideband rig you made.
Today I decided to go on 10m FT8 QRP with 2.5W. The gear was turned on at 1002z. So far (ar 1014z) my signal has been spotted in Kenya by 5Z4VJ (6858km). No QSOs . On RX 2 spots so far.
UPDATE 1447z: A brief QRP transmission just before 1400z resulted in no spots of me. On 10m FT8 RX today 60 stations spotted so far. I get the impression that 10m conditions are not as good as they have been?
UPDATE 1532z: A brief 10m FT8 QRP transmission just now resulted in nobody spotting me! On RX 63 stations have been spotted.
23 Feb 2022
We had been told it was a dump, but our impression was different.
There are some fine old houses and the area by the docks looks quite good these days. People on the train and in Ipswich were kind and friendly. In all, a good day out.
The photo shows The Ancient House.
22 Feb 2022
It is not often I say nice things about OFCOM.
However, since submitting my application form for an Innovation and Research licence, I have nothing but praise. The person at the other end of my emails responds quickly and he seems to be genuinely as helpful as possible. Thank you.
The RSGB has just published the latest update to the results of the 70cm activity contest (UKAC). Even though I only made a small handful of contacts, my position is up!
My 6 week course on an aspect of quantum mechanics as part of my University of The Third Age in Cambridge (U3AC) has ended. It was very hard! It was given by a very well qualified Cambridge University physicist. He is a good presenter.
The takeaway comment at the end of the course was "spooky actions at a distance", Einstein's comment, really do occur. This means that at far ends of the universe things can influence each other instantly. This action occurs instantly and does not depend on the speed of light. This has been proved conclusively by experiments. Einstiein did not want to believe this and did all sorts of things to try and disprove this. He failed.
This suggests what we think of as reality is not. This is totally counter intuitive. All we can say really is there is very much we do not know.
As the 10m antenna is not being used, I am again on 10m QRP WSPR with 500mW from the stand alone W5OLF beacon. So far, at 0940z, just 2 local spots of me from G4KPX (14km).
UPDATE 1000z: 12 spots of me by G4KPX. No DX spots of me.
21 Feb 2022
At the moment I am on 6m FT8 (initially with 2.5W to the V2000 vertical omni). I am currently RX only. No spots.
UPDATE 1600z: Just a single spot on RX GM4CXM (507km) which could have been a brief MS ping, Es or aircraft scatter. -18dB S/N was not too strong.
UPDATE 1647z: One QSO with M0MIZ (124km).
UPDATE 1958z: QRT.
There is no doubt that in the coming years we will all be searching for answers to the climate emergency. Put simply, if we just carry on as we are, then all human life will go extinct.
But don't panic.
On all things like fossil fuels, plastics and food supply, we may already have solutions. For fossil fuels we may be able to generate biofuels from algae. They may also provide alternatives to some of the materials used in plastics. We may also be able to add to cow's feed to dramatically reduce methane. We may well be able to synthesise proteins for food additives from algae. I quite expect there will be breakthroughs in battery technology in the next few years, so we can avoid lithium mining. I can also see solutions to renewable energy storage.
Basically we need to invest in solutions.
He rang at nearby Clare yesterday and has rung bells in 4 towers this week. The photo is of Cavendish church.
Pargeting (decorated plasterwork) is an East Anglian speciality. There are good examples in Cavendish and Clare.
Clare is a fine town with lots of old buildings.
See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pargeting .
As the 10m antenna was free, I decided to go on 10m WSPR TX again with the W5OLF beacon. Local spots by G4KPX (14km), but nobody else yet. Perhaps Richard was away at the weekend?
UPDATE 1144z: Still no DX spots of me.
UPDATE 1407z: Just 93 spots of me by G4KPX (14km). No DX.
UPDATE 1725z: W4WLO/B11 (7271km) just copied me.
UPDATE 1755z: Now IW2NKE (1350km) spotting me.
UPDATE 2000z: QRT.
After a brief period on 70cm FT8 TX with 2.5W to the 2m big-wheel omni, I am on RX. No spots, unsurprisingly. Still it was worth a try. I may try transmitting on 70cm FT8 again later today.
UPDATE 1324z: Just before 1200z, I went on TX again. Still no spots on TX or RX.
UPDATE 1345z: Trying TX and RX with the vertical omni V2000. Very strongly copied by G8CRB (14km). Thanks Steve!
Last week, my wife bought a couple of pots from a local shop. On had miniature daffodils and one iris. All the iris plants are now out and they look good on the kitchen windowsill.
Every few weeks I take a peek at the activity levels on this geosynchronous satellite. As far as I can tell, activity levels are broadly similar to a few weeks ago i.e. fairly quiet with plenty of space. My snapshot is not at all scientific! It is more of an impression.
20 Feb 2022
One QSO with a local when using 2.5W and the 2m big-wheel omni antenna.
Best spotted on RX was DF2VJ (570km). 70cm in truly awful weather!! Amazing. Is this scatter? No beams here.
This is a revelation: I went on 70cm FT8 expecting to find nobody, but instead had a QSO on FT8 and spotted a German station further away than Luxembourg and all with a 2m omni antenna!
It is now 1504z and I have been on 10m WSPR TX with 500mW with the W5OLF beacon for about 10 minutes. No spots yet.
UPDATE 1615z: It helps to connect the PSU! Still no spots of me yet.
UPDATE 1705z: Still no spots.As it is dark here shortly after 1700z, this may be a day with no spots of me.
UPDATED 1850z: QRT. No spots all afternoon.
After a few minutes on 2.5W TX to the big-wheel omni antenna (5 UK spots of me), I am RX only. So far, at 1500z, just 4 UK stations spotted here.
Politics in Ireland has been complex for a very long time.
Every person I have ever met from Northern Ireland or Eire has been delightful. I had no idea whether they were Protestant or Catholic! To me, it does not matter.
What may change shortly, following May elections, is the First Minister in Northern Ireland may be in favour of rejoining Eire. The unionists, who identify as British, would hate this. Whatever happens in the future is complicated. BREXIT made matter worse.
I do not have answers.
There is some logic in becoming part of Eire, but I can understand the fears of the Unionists. Hopefully a solution can eventually be found that keeps everyone happy.
Will this happen in my lifetime? I doubt it.
For almost 20 years now, I have had a free Gmail email address. Overall, it does a good job.
All emails I want to keep I can store in folders and the SPAM folder does a pretty good job of filtering out stuff that is obviously junk. Very, very, rarely it puts stuff in SPAM that isn't, so I always do a quick check before deleting. I usually empty my bin and SPAM folders most days.
Even after all this time, I still have plenty of space. You get 15GB free, which is quite enough for most. Additional space can be bought for a very modest monthly fee.
If need be, one can block certain types of emails by applying filters. Overall, pretty good, especially as one's emails can be checked on any PC or tablet anywhere in the world.
19 Feb 2022
With my homebrew transverter (measured ERP 10mW) it was regularly copied in Norway on WSPR. It has been copied in Finland several times.
In every case the antenna was the earth-electrode in the ground. The transverter was in QST some years ago and produces about 10W into 50 ohms. It was designed by me. Several people have made copies.
Since my 2013 stroke, I have not really been able to do field work. I used to enjoy tests at VLF and 481THz "in the field". Instead, I concentrate on what I can do. Our hobby has many faces and there is so much to enjoy. My main interests are WSPR and FT8, which don't tax my voice.
I still enjoy 2m and 70cm activity contests and go on our club net most weeks on 2m FM.
Building things was one of my pleasures, but sadly my eyesight and fine motor skills make this very hard. I won't say impossible, but it is now far from easy.
At the moment I am monitoring 15m FT8 RX with the 10m antenna. After about 5 minutes, at 1147z, 38 stations already spotted. 15m is a great band!
UPDATE 1208z: 87 stations spotted including 2 in South America.
Thanks to the generosity of total strangers (thank you all) I now have covered the costs of my application to OFCOM.
My fund raiser is now closed.
Every penny over the licence costs (a few pounds) is going to charity (any suggestions?) and I do not profit at all from this. To do so would have been totally wrong and was never my intention. If OFCOM had just granted me a simple NoV, none of this would have been necessary.
The application is going in today.
UPDATE 1445z: Apparently an Innovation and Trial licence is £50 per month, which is stupid!! I shall apply for an Innovation and Research Licence that is £50 annually.
UPDATE 2140z: A couple of really nasty comments have been received which I have marked as SPAM and I shall not publish. For the record, (1) nobody had to contribute, (2) not a single penny goes to me, (3) my only reason for doing this is to further radio propagation research, (4) in the future I hope all radio amateurs can gain access to this most interesting part of the spectrum.
18 Feb 2022
Thanks to the kindness of people I don't even know, I shall apply for that 8m permit this weekend. Obviously, I know the permit, if granted, will be at least £50. If it is more, I shall not go ahead.
"Windbag" need not bother sending me nasty anonymous comments as these will be rejected as SPAM unless he offers his name. He might want to reflect on the fact he is traceable and IP addresses used are known.
Once again, thank you.
"Guilty as charged me lud".
When I first went on 2m back in the 1970s, most people were on AM. Then came FM and repeaters and 2m SSB.
These days, 2m seems very quiet. However, appearances can be deceptive as many are now using FT8 . This can give the impression of a dead band, although actually it is possible to work stations at great range irrespective of conditions with very modest antennas and power. Very little spectrum is needed.
Activity sessions can be quite busy, but people have found other ways simply to chat using the Internet.
Apart from local nets, the band can appear quiet. I am as guilty as anyone rarely coming on SSB or FM unless there is an activity session or local net. I often use FT8 instead these days.
17 Feb 2022
You used to be able to pick these up on Internet auction sites at inflated prices. I have not looked recently. They used germanium transistors (OC171s) that probably were leaky and wanted replacing. As an historic RX, you are welcome to bid, but as a serious 21st century RX? Forget it!
UPDATE 2215z: eBay still has people listing them.
16 Feb 2022
As OFCOM has refused my 8m NoV and instead asked me to apply for an Innovation and Trials Licence costing lots a year. If you are a 5G company with billions this is nothing. For small researchers like me this is stupid. I have trying for crowd funding. If I get enough funding, I shall go ahead.
It is extremely hard to get other people to understand my giddiness and exhaustion.
This is an after-effect of my 2013 stroke. All the time when awake, I feel giddy. Much of the time I feel exhausted. Not tired, totally exhausted. Any exertion leaves me very, very, tired. Many people think this is laziness. It is not.
In the past, I quite liked driving. These days, even short journeys are stressful. I guess my reaction times are longer and my brain makes all driving seem 20mph faster. Also, it is as if my brain is in overload when driving: all the time I am thinking of potential hazards.
Outwardly I look totally fine, much like many people who have MS or similar conditions. This is in some ways a good thing. In other ways it is hard, as people just do not understand.
My voice is also poor: it is very hard repeating myself as others do not understand what I am saying.
My 10m FT8 gear was turned on at 0741z. Nobody spotted my short 2.5W QRP transmission.
UPDATE 0858z: So far this morning, 19 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX.
15 Feb 2022
10m is my favourite HF band. It is wide enough to support all modes and at various times of the sunspot cycle it experiences virtually all propagation modes. For much of the solar cycle it is an amazing daytime DX band. On my main website there is a page about this.
In the last few weeks I wrote to my MP saying how disappointed I was that after months of waiting and several recent chase emails, I had heard nothing of progress from OFCOM. She is contacting OFCOM to ask why I have not heard. We'll see if this does any good.
I would much have preferred it if they has simply given me a response last year. I am not asking for much! Until they respond I was not planning to erect an 8m dipole. This was for serious propagation research too.
UPDATE 1515z : Wonders will never cease!! After months and months, they have refused my application for an NoV. Instead they want me to apply for an Innovation and Trials Licence which has a fee starting at £50!! I think the real reason is they are afraid radio amateurs will get a foot in the door. So, unless I am prepared to pay at least £50 a year, I am not even allowed just 50Hz of spectrum at 5W for 6 months. I am speechless and quietly fuming. So much for propagation research. You can imagine, that even if I applied, the Es season would be over before I heard!
14 Feb 2022
The results for this activity contest have just been released. This year, I am donating my points towards the Cambridge Radio Club (CDARC).
As I usually run 10W to an omni antenna for much less than an hour, because of my poor voice, I doubt my points help much!
Most activity is on SSB and activity levels are usually very high.
At this time of year in the UK, lightning is not usually a great risk. In the summer months, although unlikely, lightning can be more of a risk. A direct strike is very rare, but can be devastating.
More common are surges on power lines when lightning is near. For this reason, I usually disconnect PSUs and antennas if there is lightning in the area.
Years ago, a colleague at work had his house struck and there was a lot of damage. I keep an eye on lightning maps to see how close storms are.
For a rural station, this is surprisingly busy. Many lines converge here, so there always seem to be trains coming and going.
Lines go to Norwich, King's Lynn, Cambridge, Ipswich and Peterborough. All converge here. There are also goods trains trundling through as well. The photo shows the station just as a train is leaving for Cambridge and ultimately London.
It is possible to get right across the country without changing from here. Destinations include Liverpool, London and Birmingham.
I love train rides: just sit back, relax and let the world go by. If you prefer, just read.
Later, I hope to turn on my 10m WSPR TX beacon by W5OLF. This is on TX 100% of the time, but changes frequency every cycle to prevent being clobbered by a strong station. Usually I get spots from a local and the Canary Is. Occasionally I get spots from South America and the USA as well as Europe.
At the end of a long wire, the impedance is usual high. With a 49:1 transformer, the SWR is usually well within range of auto-tuners found in most modern rigs. This usually means that a multi-band antenna can be erected covering most or all HF bands. In many cases, the SWR is sufficiently low that no tuner is needed at all.
For those unable or simply preferring not to make one, commercial antennas or baluns are available. One that was available was the X80. I bought mine many years ago. It worked well, but was only up for a few weeks as most of my operating was on a single band - 10m. I swapped mine for an active RX antenna.
I think modern versions can come in fibre glass, but are more expensive.
If you are happy to make your own, all that is needed is the balun in a suitable waterproof enclosure with connectors and a long wire. I think the wire is ideally not a multiple of half waves. There are several designs on the internet I believe. If you are happy to experiment, you can try different wire lengths. The X80, and its successors, looks like a CB vertical. Often people put things inside aluminium ones to make them bend less in high winds. I never did this.
13 Feb 2022
As recent activity sessions have shown, FT8 on 2m and 70cm can be very effective. Although many QSOs are due to tropo, I am convinced that some sort of scatter is often involved.
This maybe aircraft scatter or troposcatter. With FT8, scatter is possible with far smaller stations. It would not surprise me if scatter was more likely as the frequency is increased. It might be very effective at 23cm or higher with FT8, although I have no evidence.
If I had 23cm FT8, I might try some tests.
This is an unbelievable scandal. Back in the early 2000s several hundreds of UK sub-postmasters were audited. Apparently many were accused of fraud and were even put in jail. Some even committed suicide.
It turns out the software was at fault! These people were totally wronged.
The person that was allegedly in charge at the time is now an ordained church minister! I cannot believe this person has not been put in jail and the keys thrown away. This is a total injustice! This person and whoever else was in charge back then should carry the can for this injustice.
After a brief period on QRP TX (2.5W and spotted well in Israel) I am now RX only. At 1315z 52 stations spotted. I have been in for about 20 minutes.
UPDATE 1358z: 91 stations spotted today.
Well, I for one will not be applying for this NoV which allows me to add Q to celebrate the queen's platinum jubilee in June 2022. If OFCOM's speed is any guide, I might get it in 2024!!
Once again 10m is good. On FT8 RX most days, most continents can be received on simple low wire antennas.
When 10m is like this, it is quite useful to have a RX that does not tie up the "big rig". One such simple RX is the 10FT8R, which I designed and made about a year ago. It was in RSGB RadCom and is on my website where a clearer schematic may be found. The crystal needed was low cost. If a 14.037MHz crystal can be found then the inductor is series with the crystal can be removed and the connection just shorted.
Despite its low cost and simplicity, it works really well. For "one offs" simple dead big construction is fine. As a club project a PCB would be useful.
12 Feb 2022
The South African 8m beacon ZS6WAB on 40.675MHz CW had been widely copied in Europe in recent days. The propagation mode is unclear.
If these 8m beacons all used FT8 and were within a few kilohertz, monitoring would be so much easier as all could be monitored 24/7 with a single setting of PSKreporter.
In view of my earlier post, it is probably a good idea to point you to my pages on optical communications. I have not been able to do much in recent years because of my stroke, but there is nothing stopping others!
This is an area where the gear is easy, results can far exceed expectations and anyone can join in. As far as I know, no licence is needed.
All the gear uses low cost parts and can be assembled and tested in the back of the garage. Even test gear can be very simple and low cost. This really is great fun.
Some like to experiment with speech over very long distances. My "thing" was over the horizon. I was totally surprised that even when there was no sign at all of a signal, it could clearly be seen on a PC. The distance records for "over the horizon" are amazing. I think these used "cloud bounce", where signals are reflected off the base of clouds. In my case there were no clouds, so this was by refection off dust in the air I think.