31 May 2022

2m FT8 QRP

As 10m seemed dire, I decided to go on 2m FT8 with 5W from the IC-705. Immediately, I was spotted by a couple of stations.

UPDATE 1605z:  Already my 5W to the big wheel omni antenna has been spotted by 9 stations including a couple in Northern Ireland. Who needs beams and high power?

UPDATE 1844z:  20 stations have spotted me so far. On 2m FT8 RX the furthermost spotted is DL2ART (499km).

10m FT8 (5W QRP)

At about 1515z, I QSYed to 10m FT8. So far, no spots on RX and TX. 

SLF amateur DX

Today, I heard about some remarkable experiments at 270Hz using earth-electrode antennas.

Hello OM'S! 

After  successful 470 Hz transmissions, we (DK7FC, DL3JPN and DL7NN) tried to  push to even longer wavelengths. The next goal is/was 270 Hz, i.e. 1111  km wavelength. First, the existing ground loop at the transmitter site  had to be resonated by enlarging the series capacitor. After all, 116 µF  was required.

According to the wavelength / 2 PI definition, in  this case we reach the far field after 178.8 km. The distance between  our locations is 324 km, which is far field by definition. Since  Stefan's reception was exclusively in the E-field, a simple coupling of  the magnetic field could be ruled out. After an integration time of 4.5  hours, Stefan achieved a carrier S/N of 17.84 dB in a bandwidth of 62.2  µHz. Even in the spectrogram heavily overlaid with summery QRN, the  carrier was still visible. For comparison, the 270.005 Hz transmission  at a distance of 4 km from the transmitter on the DL0HOT grabber with a  bandwidth of 3.8 mHz. 

This may have been the first successful detection of far-field SLF transmission by radio amateurs.





As my 10m antenna (not the PC) is free, I am on 10m WSPR TX with the 500mW W5OLF beacon. Nobody has spotted me yet. I first turned it on about 0928z. 

At the moment, I have not seen evidence of Es here.

UPDATE 1243z:   Nobody has spotted me yet today.

UPDATE  1954z:  Back on 10m WSPR again with my 500mW beacon. There is a little Es about with spots of me by OE3XOE (1233km).


When I was young (OK a long time ago!) Heathkits were popular. They sold some very good kits that made some classy pieces of equipment including VHF and HF transceivers.

In recent years, they tried to make a comeback, but their range was poor and overpriced.  Their website still exists,  although goodness knows how! They must have some very dedicated followers.   With low cost kits from China, making kits for radio amateurs must be very hard these days unless the kits are good and the price is very competitive.

As mentioned yesterday, I coveted the valved HW30 2m AM transceiver. I realised that my website did not have a page on this, so I have added one.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/vhfuhfmicrowaves/vhfuhf-commercial-rigs/hw30 .

See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heathkit for the whole Heathkit story.

My whole professional career and hobby of 60 years owes a lot to Heathkit since my dad bought me a Heathkit Electronics Workhop for Christmas 1961.

8m experiment (Tuesday)

Later, I hope to again be on 40.680 MHz USB dial FT8 TX.  I usually transmit in the first period with signals about 1.95 kHz HF. It would be good to have some QRM, HI!!

It seems I need Es or aircraft scatter to have QSOs beyond the local area. When the band is open via Es, I get widely copied despite my QRP. This a bit limiting! 

UPDATE 0936z:   My FT8 TX was turned on at about 0928z. No spots yet on RX or TX.

UPDATE 1200:  At the moment I am letting the rig cool, so I am disconnected. On the transmission earlier, nothing spotted on RX or TX.

UPDATE 1447z:  After another day so far without spots on RX or TX, I am seriously considering going QRT on 8m and perhaps concentrating on 6m FT8 or 10m FT8. I have already found out my limitations and doubt much more can be learnt unless I increase my ERP, which is not my aim. 

UPDATE 1546z:   Now QRT on 8m and QSYed to 10m FT8 QRP.

UPDATE 1900z: Since about 1855z, I have been on 40.680 MHz USB dial FT8 TX. I shall probably stop in about an hour.

Bunting - NOT amateur radio

Even the windmill next door is being strewn with bunting for the queen's jubilee celebrations. 

My wife ordered some union jack cupcakes on May 3rd. They were due May 30th, but had not been dispatched yet! So, the order was cancelled today.

Sunspots - Tuesday May 31st 2022

 Solar flux is 101 and the SSN 40. A=9 and K=2.

30 May 2022

Heathkit HW30 2m rig

When I was young I coveted a Benton Harbour Lunchbox. 

This was a 5W 2m AM transceiver. At the time, 2m was very quiet and a super-regen RX was fine. These receivers were sensitive, but lacked sharp selectivity.

Looking back these rigs were quite poor, although I always liked the ergonomics. Versions were made for 11m CB, 10m and 6m too. In their day, they served a purpose, but these would struggle these days. 

I once owned the manual, but never the rig.  These days all the functionality and far, far, more may be obtained in a tiny dual band VHF FM handheld.


Farmshop breakfast - NOT amateur radio


The photo shows our sons and one of our grandsons eating breakfast this morning at our local farm shop.

Although not low cost, they do make a nice breakfast. Ideal as a treat.

That free PDF book

Tomorrow is the last day of May. We have visitors, so I shall not finish the book as planned by the end of May! 

My current deadline (self imposed) is mid-June. If I manage to do it sooner, you will hear it here!


The numbers have been released for the number of Dayton Hamfest attendees over the last few years. There were fewer attendees this year, but not down much. Not bad for the first "in person" event since 2019.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2022/may/hamvention-attendance-figure-announced.htm#.YpTFkY7MLrc

8m experiment (Monday)

As I proved that with my new USB cable 10m FT8 worked fine on the IC-705, l shall resume 8m FT8 TX tests shortly on 40.680 USB dial as there seems to be Es about. 

UPDATE 1147z:  Now on 40.680 MHz USB dial FT8 TX.

UPDATE 1211z:  QRT as the transceiver cools. Back on about 1245z.

UPDATE 1308z:  Back on 40.680 MHz USB dial FT8 TX. Still no spots on RX or TX. Bad day so far.  It appears that unless there is Es propagation, I am unlikely to be spotted. The trouble is, I do not know who is monitoring! Often there are monitors in places that do not have 8m TX permits

Canada Great Lakes - NOT amateur radio

This photo was posted on 365project recently. I think it is of the Great Lakes in Canada at sunrise.

Sunspots - Monday May 30th 2022

 Solar flux is 98 and the SSN 42.  A=15 and K=3. 

29 May 2022

8m experiment (Sunday)

As I am busy setting up with 10m FT8 on the IC-705, it is unlikely I shall be testing on 8m FT8 today. Maybe at teatime?

It would appear that by Es my QRP 8m FT8 signal can be widely copied across Europe. Unlike many of the better equipped stations on 8m, I have not been copied outside Europe.

UPDATE 1245z: On 8m FT8 QRP TX on 40.680.

FT8 with the IC-705

A while ago I tried FT8 with the IC-705 using a USB cable from the PC. As the noise level was high, I stuck with the FT817ND and SignaLink instead. As I have now got a good screened and choked  USB cable, I shall try again later. 

UPDATE 0858z: Well it works on TX with a spot by G0FWX (160km), and I think it works on RX, although nobody spotted yet. At the moment it gives 5W without the ALC coming on. Assuming all is fine, I shall probably download WSJT-Z, which goes back onto CQ TX after a QSO. With WSJT-X it goes to RX after a QSO. 

UPDATE 1005z:  Working on both RX and TX. Initially I was seeing none of my RX spots on PSKreporter, but there are lots now as well as lots of TX spots. Best DX on TX is a spot of me by ZS6KVZ (9120km). No QSOs yet. I wonder how much better FT8 is than SSB? Having worked ZL with 10W SSB some years ago, I am pretty sure I can get DXCC on 10m FT8 if I tried. Not sure I really want to try. 10m FT8 at 5W seems too easy!

UPDATE 1802z: 
Spotted by 36 stations on 10m FT8 TX with 5W. Furthermost is DP0GVN (13687km) in Antarctica. Other reports from S.America, Middle East and China. 10m FT8 certainly works with the IC-705.

Many years ago in the back of the garage

This is my grandson in 2010 (I think) "helping" me in the back of the garage. He is now 14 years old. 

Final Dayton report

For those who went to Dayton, Ohio, USA, I think it is fair to say that reactions were mixed. Many enjoyed the huge fleamarket, but many were disappointed with the new "toys" being launched. 

There were few real eye openers and Kenwood was not there at all. I think they are already leaving the amateur radio market. In my view others will follow as there is no longer a mass market with juicy profits.

See https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2022/05/25/dayton-xenia-hamvention-2022-jeff-ke9vs-final-report/

Sunspots - Sunday May 29th 2022

 Solar flux is 102 and the SSN 34 (low compared with recent days). A=24 and K=3. 

28 May 2022

Disappointing HF conditions here

Certainly, up to now, 10m and 8m have been very disappointing here with no spots at all on TX or RX. I think conditions are disturbed, but I am seeing no evidence here of F2 or Es propagation.

Corfu collage - NOT amateur radio


This collage shows some of the goods on sale in Corfu.

Corfu video - NOT amateur radio

This short video shows the garden in our Corfu hotel.


8m FT8

At about 0745z, my QRP 8m FT8 TX was turned on on 40.680 MHz USB dial. No spots on TX or RX.

UPDATE 1317z:  No spots on TX or RX 8m FT8 today.

UPDATE 1611z: Yet again, 8m FT8 spots were exchanged with EI9KP (649km). With a received report of -10dB S/N I can only conclude that this was either aircraft or Es. I have lost count of how many times he has spotted me on 8m FT8. He is by far my most regular reporter. He was also copied here (again).


Yet again, I am on 10m WSPR TX with my 500mW W5OLF beacon. No spots yet. What I thought was today was yesterday.

Did I reach China on VHF?

This was in 2020 and on 6m. It appeared as a FB memory today.

Wild flowers - NOT amateur radio

The windmill next door is looking very festive with lots of bunting hung for the special holiday to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the queen being on the throne.

The wild flowers outside the windmill next door look really amazing. 

Yesterday on 8m FT8 TX

As the first day back after a week on holiday, I went on 8m FT8 TX on 40.680 MHz USB dial. 

The 3 countries in which my QRP was spotted are shown on the map. 

Sunspots - Saturday May 28th 2022

Solar flux is 114 and the SSN 69.  A=17 and K=5.

27 May 2022

OFCOM updates

 As usual, OFCOM has updated the statistics it holds. See the OFCOM website for details. 

Bougainvillea - NOT amateur radio


This is probably one of the last photos of my break in Corfu.  It shows a bougainvillea in the garden of our hotel. 


My fears are growing. I have written to Jay twice and not had a response. 

He may just be on a long vacation, but I have heard no news. In the past Jay has been very helpful to me and I owe him a lot. 

If he is around and reading this, please be assured that I wish him well.

Has anyone had any news please?


Now that I am home again, I am on 10m WSPR with 500mW from the W5OLF WSPR beacon. Several F2 spots, but none that look like Es.

8m FT8 TX

As I am now home again, I hope to be on 8m TX on 40.680 MHz USB dial FT8 after breakfast. I have not been on 8m for a week. 

UPDATE 0902z:  Been on 8m FT8 QRP TX for about 45  minutes, but now RX only on 40.680 MHz USB dial FT8. Spotted by EI9KP (649km). Nobody spotted on RX.

UPDATE 2117z: My 8m FT8 QRP signal was spotted by stations in Portugal, Spain and Eire today, and I spotted 1 G station on RX.

Sunspots - Friday May 27th 2022

Solar flux is 123 and the SSN 87.  A=4 and K=1.

26 May 2022

Not a monarchist, but... - NOT amateur radio

In my bones I am not a monarchist. 

Personally, I find rank and status simply because of who you are, or your ancestors were, is totally wrong. Having said all that, I cannot think who a UK president could be. Nobody springs to mind who is liked by many and has integrity. Most politicians fall at the first fence as many are in it for personal gain and are born liars.

Queen Elizabeth of the UK has been monarch for most of my life. I cannot remember anyone else. By comparison, her son Charles has a lot of respect to gain.

No, Queen Elizabeth is not perfect, but during her long reign she has commanded respect.

See https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-61585182 .

Corfu chilling - NOT amateur radio

On our last day in Corfu, we did a bit of shopping then cool drinks and people watching. 

It is meant to reach 32 degrees C later. 

It feels very hot and sunny already.

Weatherwise it has been perfect. It was just not a long enough break!


The following rally is due to take place on Sunday May 29th. As always in these strange times, it is advisable to check with organisers first if travelling far.

Sunday May 29th - Durham District ARS Radio Rally, Bowburn Community Centre, DH6 5AT. Contact dadrs@gmx.com

Back on 8m FT8 TX Friday

 All being well, I intend to be on 40.680 MHz USB dial FT8 TX on Friday after a week away. It would appear there were some good Es openings that I missed!

Corfu desserts - NOT amateur radio


These were our desserts yesterday. Greek desserts and yoghurt with kumquats. Delicious.

Our hotel has kindly extended our room checkout to 5pm, so we effectively have another day rather than waiting around for hours for our late flight.

Oscar 100 activity

As you know I take a regular peek at activity on the narrow-band transponder of this geosynchronous satellite. Today's peek was at 0610am central European time. 30 minutes later there was nobody active at all

Now, this seems to show that outside Europe, e.g. India and the Gulf states there is very little interest. OK, it is a work day and very early in Europe.

My over-riding impression is that activity levels are very low. In some ways I am surprised, but in other ways I am not. 

Our hobby has largely evolved into "appliance operators" who buy an HF rig, and maybe a linear, tower and HF beam. There are far fewer real experimenters. With no real "black boxes" available there is a certain threshold to have success with Oscar 100.  For most, this threshold is just too hard. Based on recent evidence, I cannot see geosynchronous amateur satellites having a bright future.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/ .

Sunspots - Thursday May 26th 2022

 Solar flux is 137 and the SSN 93.  A=6 and K=1. The sunspot number has dipped below 100 for the first time in a while. The number is still pretty high.

25 May 2022

Cheers Corfu - NOT amateur radio

Tomorrow is our last day. It seems only a blink since we arrived! This is our fourth time on Corfu and in this hotel. Health allowing, I somehow think it won't be the last time.


Now is not the usual time to think about projects. The usual time is as the nights start to draw in and winter approaches. 

I am still hoping my G3XBM Scrapbook will be available as a free PDF download by the end of May, but June is next week!!

In the meantime, take a look at my main G3XBM website. Hopefully you will find some ideas there. 

As soon as that book is ready, I shall post a link here. At this rate, I suspect the book will be available mid June unless May is extended by Royal decree!!

Failed by the RSGB and OFCOM?

For 60 years I have been an RSGB member, but I feel I am being failed. Let me explain.

OFCOM is on record as saying they will NEVER allow UK radio amateurs on 8m. Why? 

The RSGB has (it would appear meekly) said "OK" to this. Wouldn't it have been nice if, for once, they had said "rubbish!!"?

In my view they should have said a very few kHz wide band at 40.680 MHz USB dial, narrow digital modes only, by NoV, strictly non-interference would have actively encouraged self training and propagation research. Personally I would happily lost a few kilohertz off any band for a few kilohertz around 40.680 MHz.

Instead we can talk about hernias and potted plants with 400W and commercial gear on 80m!  Absolute madness!!

RSGB and OFCOM please wake up.

Corfu view - NOT amateur radio

This is the view from our Corfu hotel garden. 

Sunspots - Wednesday May 25th 2022

 Solar flux is 147 and the SSN 137.  A=4 and K=1.

24 May 2022

10FT8R 10m FT8 RX

This design is over a year old. It is very simple, but works well. It allows monitoring of 10m FT8 without tying up the main rig. You will not miss much.

See the 10FT8R webpage for details. 

I am sorry that the link was initially wrong. Hopefully it is now correct!

Old photo - NOT amateur radio

This photo appeared as a FB memory today. It must be well over 40 years ago. I have hair! 

OFCOM - money?

 OFCOM has made it easier for mobile operators to trade spectrum around 3.6 GHz. See the OFCOM website for more details. Me a cynic? Surely not!! 

Greek food - NOT amateur radio


This was our "snack" yesterday in Corfu! Excellent.  Well, we all have to help the Greek economy.

Ferrite rod TX antennas

W5OLF 1 inch 10m ferrite rod antenna

A few people have experimented with transmitting antennas made with ferrite rods. 

As long as the ferrite is suitable for the frequency and does not saturate it should work. This usually means very low power.

With modes like WSPR great distances can be covered with very low power.

Looking back at past blog posts I saw that Jay W5OLF achieved good results on 10m WSPR with a 1 inch ferrite rod antenna and 500mW RF.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/antennas/ferrite-rod-tx-antennas.

Sunspots - Tuesday May 24th 2022

 Solar flux is 158 and the SSN 132.  A=5 and K=1.

23 May 2022

1970 university photo - NOT amateur radio

It seems hard to believe that this photo is 52 years old. It was taken in 1970 in my final year.  In those days I had hair!! 

Corfu Beer

So far this week, we have had blue skies and warm sunshine and a very pleasant heat. A cold beer has been very welcome.

8m beacons

There is a growing interest around the world in the 8m band for propagation research. 

The band is between 10m and 6m, at the transition between HF and VHF. Sadly, the few beacons there are there are on different frequencies and modes.

In my view, they would be far more use if they all included an FT8 sequence and were all on a single USB dial setting (different audio tones so they are not on top of each other). They could be on 24/7 and widely monitored with ease by many.

Personally, I think we would all benefit from this. Propagation research would be greatly advanced.

FT8 works with weaker signals than CW, WSJT-X software is free, and even very brief openings get spotted.

Sunspots - Monday May 23rd 2022

 Solar flux is 165 and the SSN 138.  A=11 and K=2.

22 May 2022

Ultra simple RX for 80m or 40m

This is one of the most simple designs that  you will ever find for 80m or 40m RX. It will readily scale to 160m or 60m. I went on to make a transceiver version based on an idea from W2UW (SK). Imagine that - a complete transceiver using just 1 FET (see the FETer).

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/homebrew/80m-or-40m-regen-rx .

Corfu food - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday we ate in Corfu Town. 

My wife had sea bream caught in the morning and I had slow cooked lamb shank.  

Both were perfect as was the tzatziki Greek starter of yoghurt and cucumber.

70cm activity contest

Results for this activity contest organised by the RSGB have just been published.

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

EI7GL's blog

John's blog always seems to have interesting stuff on it. He has news of the 40 and 60 MHz bands as well as much more. On the web version of my blog is a link to the EI7GL blog is on the right.

Sunspots - Sunday May 22nd 2022

 Solar flux is 167 and the SSN 110. A=10 and K=4.

21 May 2022

ICOM at Dayton 2022

This is a video of the ICOM stand at the Dayton Hamvention. I am underwhelmed. 

The VHF transceivers look "same as", the linear looks big, and the SHF concept looks like it will never happen. Where is the truly handheld version of the IC-705? 

If Yaesu is similar I can see them both leaving this market within 5 years. I suspect they both can see the writing on the wall. 

Corfu view - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows the view looking from Corfu Town across to Albania and mainland Greece. 

OFCOM news

 OFCOM has announced consultations on licence proposals affecting 5G and updates to its weekly updates. See the OFCOM website for details.

Dayton news

 It is now early Saturday in central Europe. The big (huge) Dayton Hamvention is on its middle day of 3. I have not yet heard any announcements of new commercial gear in the offing. Have you?

See https://hamvention.org/media-news/latest-news/ .

Corfu shop

The cherries and kumquats were on sale in Corfu Town yesterday. The whole shop was a riot of colour.

Sunspots - Saturday May 21st 2022

 Solar flux is 166 and the SSN 109.  A=12 and K=3.

20 May 2022


The Dunstable Downs RC rally is in Stockwood Park, Luton this Sunday May 22nd. Check before travelling if there is any uncertainty.

Corfu - NOT amateur radio

We're having a week in Corfu. We have not been abroad since 2019. Everything seems normal again. 

The first photo shows the view looking from our hotel room. The collage shows scenes from Corfu Town. 

Well, someone has to do the hard tasks!! 😉😉

Solar peak - better than we thought?

The recent solar data (flux and sunspots) are better than expected. Does this point to maximum greater than we expected? I hope so. Are we heading for a peak higher than 200?

Sunspots - Friday May 20th 2022

Solar flux is 173 and the SSN 154. A=10 and K=2.

19 May 2022

8m DX

The better equipped 8m stations have been getting spots from a very long way away such as Argentina, Chile, South Africa and off Angola. With my low ERP I think this will be well beyond my expectations. 

My experiment is to find out what is possible with low ERP QRP and modest, low wire dipoles. So far, my conclusions on FT8 and WSPR is that locals and Es stations can spot me, but I have had no success, so far, with other G stations on 8m. 

By the way, FT8 or WSPR were used for these DX spots.

The favourite spot seems to be 40.680 MHz USB dial and the favourite mode FT8.

In my view, it seems a pity that all beacons don't have FT8 as part of their cycle and were all at 40.680 MHz USB dial so they all could be monitored 24/7. Of course they would all be on different audio spots so they were separated.

Imagine the excitement of seeing the spots after you'd been out of the shack for a while! I suspect if they were all on a single dial setting then more would be spotted at unusual times.


Many will have bought components from John Birkett in Lincoln. Sadly he has died at aged 93. I have no news about the shop, but I saw it in Lincoln last September. I hope his family carries on the business. 

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2022/may/john-birkett-g8opp-sk.htm#.YoYAHo7MLrc .

Sunspots - Thursday May 19th 2022

Solar flux is 180 and the SSN 147.  A=7 and K=3.

18 May 2022


Although I have tried to email him on 3 occasions, I have not had any response. Does anyone have any news please? 


This is an Arduino based unit that can be used from well below 10 kHz to 300 MHz. As it stands, it can be used as a beacon with 20mW output. Before today, I had not heard of it. Sadly, it is out of stock due to the worldwide shortage of semiconductors. 

I guess a PA could be added to reach a higher power out for a beacon for example.

See https://www.rfzero.net/ .

Dayton reminder

Now in its 70th year Dayton Hamvention, Ohio is this weekend May 20-22nd. This is massive with trade stands and flea market.

See www.hamvention.org 

10m WSPR TX beacon

Later this morning I shall be on 10m WSPR TX with 500mW from the W5OLF TX WSPR beacon.

UPDATE 0640z: Turned on. 

UPDATE 1004z:  Spotted by 12 unique stations via Es.

UPDATE 2104z:  QRT now. 35 stations have spotted me, mostly by Es.

More Devon - NOT amateur radio

This is another view of where I come from in South Devon. As you can see, it is pretty good. The photo was taken in 2016.

8m experiment (Wednesday)

 Later today I expect to be on 8m FT8 TX on 40.680 MHz USB dial. Yesterday I was spotted again by EI9KP (649km).  If the Es is like yesterday I may be spotted by others.

UPDATE 0637z:   TX turned on. 

UPDATE 0820z :  Spotted by 3 EU stations by Es. 

UPDATE 1000z: As you can see by the comment below Ken G4APB has received his T&I 8m licence now and has been active. I am not sure how many UK 8m permits have been granted. The KST chat (50 and 70 MHz) seems useful for skeds etc..

Sunspots - Wednesday May 18th 2022

Solar flux is 171 and the SSN 153.  A=12 and K =3.

17 May 2022

LinkedIn - NOT amateur radio

 LinkedIn is useful to me to find out how old colleagues are doing. Occasionally, I get job offers. As an old man this is flattering.  

Most weeks I get requests from people I don't know asking me to be their friend. These requests are ignored!

Wild flowers - NOT amateur radio

The wild flowers outside the windmill next door look good. 

10m WSPR QRP TX (Tuesday)

In a few minutes time, I shall be on 10m WSPR TX with 500mW. Yesterday was dire. Let's hope today is better!!

UPDATE 0915z:  No spots.

UPDATE 1936z:  16 unique spots of me today. Lots of Es.

8m experiment (Tuesday)

In a few minutes time I shall be on 40.680 MHz USB dial FT8 TX (first period). 

Although I have been widely spotted across Europe mainly by Es, it seems unlikely I shall be copied further with my low ERP. 

As my TX seems to lose power after a while, I shall probably stop my experiment for much of the Es season later this week.

Someone suggested a 24/7 WSPR beacon. This is a good idea. My issue is building it: my fine motor skills are poor now, making building impossible. Otherwise I would be on 8m WSPR all the time TX!

UPDATE 0912z:  Been on TX since 0856z. No spots yet.

UPDATE 1835z:   Quite a few stations on 8m FT8  RX in Europe. Nobody has spotted me yet.

UPDATE 1935z: Just EI9KP (649km) spotting me again.

Best pasties? - NOT amateur radio

Pasties originally started in Cornwall as meals for miners. One half was savoury and the other sweet.  In my view, the best pasties are made by Ivor Dewdney. 

Sunspots - Tuesday May 17th 2022

Solar flux is 162 and the SSN 173.  A=10 and K=1.

16 May 2022

"Lab" books

Years ago, in my working life, I used to keep lab books detailing all I had done. When I retired and was still fit, I carried this on. It is surprising what you forget! 

Also, you never know when this data will be useful in the future. The notes don't have to be neat. 

I must admit, I haven't written in my lab-book for many years, but I can recommend getting into the habit.


 About 10 minutes ago I turned on my 10m 500mW W5OLF WSPR beacon. At 1055z, nobody has spotted me yet.

UPDATE 1225z:  Still no spots today.

Hidden disability - NOT amateur radio

People look at me and often say, "you do look well". Little do they know that for almost 9 years I have felt giddy all my waking hours, I feel tired and my voice is rubbish. It can be extremely frustrating!

I'm not after a sympathy vote, but next time you see someone think how they feel on the inside. Never judge by the "outside of the tin" as they say.  

Often people are struggling with a hidden disability be it physical or mental. In my case it is physical. 

117 years ago - NOT amateur radio

My ancestors lived in this Devon village in the 1500s. This is a photo of the village 117 years ago. 

In Iron Age times a hillfort was built near here thousands of years ago. Maybe one of my ancestors manned it? 

Near us - NOT amateur radio

This cottage is near us in the village of Balsham. Thatchers often have trademarks. The ducks on the roof are made of straw. 

8m experiment (Monday)

Although I expect to be on 8m FT8 TX on 40.680 MHz USB dial at times during the day I suspect my operations will soon be scaled back. 

I seem to have proved that all of continental Europe is within range, even with my very modest station, although my low ERP seems to preclude me being copied outside of the local area in the UK. 

UPDATE 1024z:  A few minutes ago, my 8m FT8 RX was turned on.

UPDATE 1226z:   No spots today. Currently rig is off cooling. Hope to be back on at 1300z.

Thurlestone, Devon - NOT amateur radio

This is near where I come from in South Devon. It is very beautiful still. 

I still miss it, even though I have lived away from the area for over 50 years. In some ways it still feels like "home". 

Maybe the fact that my ancestors have probably been hereabouts for thousands of years gives me a "pull" deep within my soul. 

NASA on the air

NASA is putting on some special transmissions in June. See the attached poster. 

Dayton hamvention rumours?

This is next weekend and I was wondering if their are rumours of new rigs being announced? As one of the biggest showcases in the world, this is a place to shout from the rooftops. 

Sunspots - Monday May 16th 2022

Solar flux is 154 and the SSN 129.  A=12 and K=2.

15 May 2022

10m QRP WSPR TX (500mW)

In all, 2 unique stations have spotted my QRP 10m WSPR beacon so far today.

UPDATE 2033z:    QRT.

8m experiment (Sunday)

Although I was on 8m FT8 TX and RX for about 40 minutes, no spots. The rig is now off, but I hope to be on again at about 1200z.

UPDATE 1326z: No spots all day. I think my experiment on 8m is drawing to a close. Most of Europe is in range via Es. What else can I learn? 

UPDATE 1855z:   EI9KP (649km) has again spotted me this afternoon. I have lost count how many times Phil has spotted me on 8m.

UPDATE 2030z:   QRT.

Dad's seat - NOT amateur radio

Sitting on my dad's seat on Bolberry Down in Devon in 2016. He worked for the National Trust with young people on a job creation scheme. 


Yesterday, the June RadCom arrived. In it stated that I had been an RSGB member for 60 years!! That means I must officially be a "boring old fart" (BOF). 

Looking back, I just wonder where those years went.

I can honestly say that I enjoy amateur radio as much now as in 1962. Things have changed a lot over those years, but there are still challenges and ways to have fun.

Dayton Hamvention, Ohio, USA

This is May 20-22nd. It is the biggest ham gathering in the world.  I have never been. This year it is in person once again. Often major manufacturers announce new products here.

See http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2022/may/get-to-2022-dayton-hamvention.htm#.Yn_-7CHMLrc .

Sunspots - Sunday May 15th 2022

Solar flux is 153 and the SSN 105.  A=7 and K=4.

14 May 2022

What is working DX?

"Each to their own", as they say. These days, the boundaries are blurred and it is a long time since working DX meant HF bands and QSB. An example is DMR which allows users to talk with others around the world on their VHF handhelds.

In the depths of the last sunspot minimum, many of us bought network radios that used the internet as the backbone. Mine looked and behaved just like a VHF handheld complete with antenna and PTT. With it, one could connect with repeaters on the far side of the planet.

I never enjoyed mine and prefer to work stations the "old" way. Now the sunspot numbers are climbing, this is more possible again.

Now, I am not saying one is any better than the other.  As they say, "each to their own". Ours is a hobby of self training. I am sure there is as much to learn from DMR and network radios as from working DX the "old" way!

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/other-amateur-radio/network-radio .

Swifts - NOT amateur radio

A week ago I had seen no swifts. Now they are one of the commonest birds in the sky. I have also seen a couple of swallows, but no cuckoos heard. 

See https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/swift/ .

Quiet 10m day so far

 It is already 1545z and my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon has not been spotted at all despite being on all day. No Es apparent here. 

UPDATE 1835z: No spots today.

Lower cost homes? - NOT amateur radio

In our part of the UK, homes are expensive. We noticed these static mobile homes being built on our walk yesterday. Some will be for holidays and some permanent homes I expect. 

8m experiment (Saturday)

In a few moments I hope to go on 40.680 MHz USB dial FT8 TX (first). The photo shows my 8m dipole.

UPDATE 0902z:  TX turned on at 0823z. No spots.

UPDATE 1709z: Just been spotted by EA3ERE (1153km). So far, I have been spotted in 6 European countries on 8m mostly via Es. All the continental Europeans have been via Es. With my setup I think it very unlikely I shall be spotted outside Europe.

UPDATE 2045z: QRT.

Sunspots - Saturday May 14th 2022

Solar flux is 150 and the SSN 120.  A=7 and K=1.

13 May 2022

Is OFCOM a QUANGO and a waste of money?

Regularly, I get emails from OFCOM. I look at these and get the distinct impression they are trying to  justify their very existence. The impression I am given is of a group that largely does not understand RF and is only interested in money.

This is my personal view and you may feel differently. Experiences 10 years ago and in the last few months have re-enforced my view that it is in radical need of an overhaul. I ask myself, if it wasn't there would it be missed? Probably not!

24 GHz

 This is one band I have never tried. Like 10 GHz , there are Doppler radar modules that could be "repurposed" for WBFM (wideband FM) on this frequency. I have not searched for 24 GHz WBFM, but I am sure circuits must exist.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/vhfuhfmicrowaves/homebrew/24ghz .

Results published for 144MHz UKAC (03/05/22)

The results of the latest 2m activity contest run by the RSGB have been published. In the low power section I have climbed from 81st to 70th place. At this rate I might win the section by 2060!!

See https://www.rsgbcc.org/cgi-bin/vhfresults.pl?Contest=144MHz%20UKAC&Date=&year=2022 .

Wind? - NOT amateur radio

This tree was planted in the millennium along with many others. I think it was rotten and the wind got it. 


Yesterday was very successful with my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon being widely spotted across Europe. It is on again now (0821z). No spots yet.

UPDATE 1310z:  Well it helps to remember to turn the PA on!! For the first 30 minutes I forgot. Doh. Mind you, still no spots.  

UPDATE 1954z:  Apart from the 2 stations spotting me multiple times, presumably by F2, no others spotting me. No Es apparent here today.

Es season

 In the coming months we will be in the Es season in the northern hemisphere. This brings lots of short skip DX on bands like 10m, 6m and 4m. Occasionally it even reaches 2m although this is rare. Sometimes we get very long distances via the E layer, but I suspect many of these openings are some kind of chordal E propagation. Enjoy it whilst it lasts! 

8m experiment (Friday)

With my QRP, I am running out of stations with whom I can realistically exchange reports. 

My problem is I do not know who else, without a TX permit, might be looking for me. There is an outside chance that I could be spotted in the USA, but I think it is unlikely that I will be spotted in South Africa. 

I remain totally baffled by OFCOM and the RSGB who seem dead against even a very tiny allocation of an amateur band at 8m, by NoV, digital only, when this could really help propagation research and self training!! I find their OBSTRUCTIVE attitude unbelievable. Contact OFCOM and the RSGB to persuade them they are so WRONG!! Even 5 kHz would be useful, say at 40.680 USB dial. Having to buy a T&I licence seems so wrong and totally the opposite of "self training".

UPDATE 0810z:   8m TX turned on 40.680 MHz USB dial at 0805z. FT8 first period TX.

UPDATE 1420z:  There are lots of stations monitoring on 8m. Sadly, nobody has spotted me today and I have spotted nobody on RX.

Grandson's art - NOT amateur radio

One of our grandchildren is a very talented artist. He has just won a scholarship for art. This is one of his latest paintings. He is 13 years old. 

Sunspots - Friday May 13th 2022

Solar flux is 133 and the SSN 112.  A=8 and K=1.

12 May 2022

8m experiment (Thursday)

At 0830z I propose to go on 40.680 MHz USB dial FT8 TX (TXing in the first period).

UPDATE 1221z:  EI9KP (649km) has spotted me and I have spotted him. 

UPDATE 1315z:   QRT on RX and TX whilst rig cools Back on at 1345z on 40.680 MHz FT8 TX (first period).

10m WSPR QRP TX (Thursday)

 I am on 10m WSPR TX with my 500mW W5OLF beacon. No spots yet today.

UPDATE 1521z:  15 unique spots of me today, mostly Es.

UPDATE 1905z: 16 unique stations have spotted me today. The Es season is definitely here.

There are far more people monitoring 10m WSPR than I was expecting. Great.

Shady spot - NOT amateur radio

This snale seems to have the right idea: just find a shady spot. 

Oscar 100 (lack of) activity

Every few weeks I take a look at activity on the narrow-band transponder of this geosynchronous satellite. I last looked at 1230z on a Wednesday. It has never been quieter! When I looked there was nobody at all active! Now, I may have just caught this at a bad time.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/ .

Xiegu X6100 HF/50 MHz transceiver

In this month's Practical Wireless is a review of the Chinese Xiegu X6100 transceiver. Like many things made in China, quality still seems to be a bit "hit and miss". They report an issue with the auto-ATU that is not fixed with the latest firmware.  What seems clear is these are low cost.

My concern is what happens if it goes wrong? Who will fix it? Is the guarantee really worth it? Given time, I am sure the major Japanese manufacturers like Yaesu, ICOM and Kenwood will feel a chill, with more, better quality, and far lower cost offerings starting to appear from China and other countries. 

I am quite surprised that one (or more) of the major Japanese manufacturers is still there if I am honest. It all hinges on volumes and markets. I would expect to see items that could sell in high volumes worldwide coming from China rather than niche products. Over time, quality will shoot up.

At the moment I still feel nervous about buying Chinese amateur radio products. But...

They are coming......

Sunspots - Thursday May 12th 2022

Solar flux is 133 and the SSN 84.  A=6 and K=2. 

11 May 2022

FT8 activity contest on 70cm

This evening is the FT8 activity contest on 70cms. Already at 1730z, several Gs are getting ready.

See https://www.rsgbcc.org/cgi-bin/contest_rules.pl?contest=70cmsgmac .

In all, 37 stations spotted on a 2m big-wheel omni antenna!!