30 Jun 2022
As I was awake early and in bed awaiting others, I thought I should try Echolink again after a break of well over a year. I am using the app on my phone. It asked for my password that I have forgotten and I cannot see how to reset it. Looks like I shall have to give it a miss.
29 Jun 2022
28 Jun 2022
27 Jun 2022
Apart from the DX-patrol offering diplayed at Friedrichshafen, I am unaware of any complete turnkey solutions to operating on Oscar 100.
In particular not one of the Japanese manufacturers has offered anything. To me, this speaks volumes, literally. They cannot see volumes and hence profits.
If DX-patrol can do it for €650 surely the Japanese will have considered it. There is no home market or market in the USA, so they are not interested.
In my view the Japanese amateur manufacturers will be looking hard at the amateur radio market and asking if the effort is worth it in the coming years.
26 Jun 2022
After breakfast I hope to be on 8m QRP TX on 40.680 MHz USB dial FT8 QRP. It cannot be worse than yesterday when there were no spots at all! There are too few people monitoring on 8m, so it can be very hard going.
UPDATE 0751z: 8m gear turned on at 0734z. I get the impression that those active on the band have proved what is possible by Es and are now turning their attention to 6m and 4m instead until the autumn. I shall try a bit longer.
UPDATE 0807z: Spots of my QRP by EA3ERE (1133km) and HC02 (1808km). Promising.
UPDATE 2016z: 6 spots of my QRP 8m FT8 today. With spots from 12 different countries, I am pretty pleased so far this Es season, although disappointed not to be copied further than the Canary Isles. I wonder if I might manage the USA on F2 later in the year?
25 Jun 2022
What the situation is like in other countries I do not know, but in the UK it is acute. There are far fewer RF designers than there once were. When I started in RF design, most were radio amateurs with a total fascination for RF.
In my professional life, I saw many CVs from aspiring RF engineers. Most were hopeless! Graduates that knew really very very little. At 73 years I have been offered 2 jobs this year already! They must be very desperate!
Personally, I feel that many have lost the "magic" of RF. This is where amateur radio "self training" could help. We need more good, intrinsically motivated RF designers in the UK. We must do everything in our power to encourage RF design in the future.
Although I have been on 40.680 MHz USB dial FT8 TX for about 40 minutes, no spots given or received so far. It is now 0918z.
UPDATE 1853z: No spots at all today on 40.680 FT8. You get the impression that 8m, with far fewer monitors than 10m and 6m, is on the wane. Yes, there will be good days, but now we are beginning to see more days with no Es propagation. It seems amazing that next week is July!
OFCOM is consulting ahead of WRC23. See the OFCOM website for details.
As you probably know, I am APPALLED by the very negative attitude by OFCOM and the RSGB to self training (what the amateur licence is meant to be about!!). Their position is utterly stupid by making us pay £50 annually to experiment at 8m.
- 5 kHz wide only 40.680-40.685 MHz amateur band at 8m
- narrow digital only (e.g. WSPR, FT8, CW, but no speech)
- by NoV
- strictly for real experiments , not "more of the same"
24 Jun 2022
So far today, I have had just spots from Austria on 10m WSPR and nothing at all on 8m FT8.
Es can be very selective. Sometimes a station a few kilometres away spots a lot, whereas at your QTH there is nothing. Also, the openings can be widespread or in just one direction.
Although I may be factually wrong, my impression is openings to more northerly directions are more common later in the Es season. Southern stations are there, but the feeeling I get is that more northern stations are more frequent.
Although I hope to have every page complete before I go to see my brother next week, I shall still need to check things and order the pages, so it will not be available until some time in July. I am making no deadlines as I always seem to miss them!
One thing is sure: there will be a link on my blog and website and I shall send the link to the main radio mags. Whether they decide to print it is another matter!
It should contain all my projects and a bit more that may be of interest. As it is a brain-dump as much for me as others, I cannot charge anything for it. What would really please me is if others experimented for the first time and some of my unfinished projects were finished.
Over the years, I have had lots of fun and I hope you do too.
23 Jun 2022
Already at 0836z, today is far more promising than yesterday. 3 stations already spotting my 500mW QRP WSPR beacon.
UPDATE 1118z: Spotted by 6 unique stations today widely across Europe. Far better than yesterday.
22 Jun 2022
Certainly here, today was a very poor Es day, with no spots of me at all on 10m WSPR or 8m FT8.
As the season progresses, I guess we will get more poor Es days. Hopefully tomorrow will be better, although with sporadic-E (Es) things are "sporadic".
I have seen 6m Es QRP SSB as late as September. The main season is May, June and July.
Although I have had my 500mW beacon on most of the afternoon, nobody has yet spotted me. It almost feels as those long days of Es are coming to a close. Es will still be around, but we have to expect days when it will be absent.
In my experience, I have worked 6m SSB QRP DX as late as September.
Every few weeks, I give an update on activity on the narrowband transponder of this geosynchronous satellite. The last time I checked was early evening in Europe on Wednesday. Activity is still low.
As an example, 3B8GL was calling CQ on SSB with a decent signal for ages with no takers!
Later, I hope to be on 8m TX on 40.680 MHz USB dial FT8 (first). It is now 1243z.
UPDATE 1439z: Now on 8m FT8 TX. Intensely frustrated that in the UK we have to pay for access to 8m, when OFCOM could have allocated 40.680-40.685 MHs (just 5 kHz), by NoV, to the amateur service, narrow digital only, no speech, to encourage self training and research. Frankly I find the OFCOM and RSGB position totally and unbelievably bizarre! No, totally STUPID!!!
There are great opportunities with DMR. However, like many, I have no wish to get a DMR portable or external to the PC unit to act as a bridge.
What I am wondering is is it possible to access DMR via the PC alone using some kind of gateway? If you know of a way, please let me know.
21 Jun 2022
My QRP (500mW) beacon was turned on at 0808z. No spots yet of me. Yesterday, I only had spots from the Canary Isles on 10m. These could have been F2.
UPDATE 0824z: One spot from Denmark.
UPDATE 1326z: 11 stations have spotted my QRP WSPR today. These look like Es.
My QRP TX was turned on at 0807z on 40.680 MHz USB dial FT8.
UPDATE 0815z: No spots.
UPDATE 1257z: 3 stations have spotted me so far on 8m FT8.
UPDATE 1932z: This will probably not happen with my low ERP, but I still hope for an FT8 spot by a station in the USA. I live in hope!!
On my website there is a page about super DX on VHF and UHF. Most, or every, summer there are 6m openings from Western Europe to the Far East. These are thought to be linked to noctilucent clouds in the mesosphere. It is possible these openings may occur at far higher frequencies. I am surprised nobody seems to be trying as there could be new records galore.
20 Jun 2022
At the moment, I seem to be busy with loose ends.
Last week, we had my wife's 19th sibling reunion. Rather than take it in turns at our homes we went back to stay in an hotel in Barnsley, where they all grew up. It was a very successful get-together, but my wife said it was her last time in Barnsley. She also says she will never go to Devon again. I am compiling my legacy book of projects.
It looks like we are preparing for the worst! Any one of us could be dead tomorrow. On the other hand, we could live for many years. We just don't know.
The moral seems to be to live, and enjoy, every day as your last.
It is true to say that I am fuming by the attitude of OFCOM and the RSGB to a tiny 8m allocation. Let me explain.
OFCOM seems dead against an amateur allocation and the RSGB appears to just accept this. Our hobby is meant to be about self-training. In my personal experience of RF development, without any doubt the best RF engineers were those who were intrinsically motivated and "turned on" by RF. I have read countless CVs of electronics graduates who, frankly, were totally useless. I knew more at 16 than they did!! I learnt more from my RAE course than they did with a degree!
If we are really interested in future RF designers, we should be doing all we can to promote "self training".
These are my proposals:
- 40.680 - 40.685 MHz (5 kHz only). This is in the ISM band and widely used internationally
- Narrow digital only (e.g. WSPR, FT8, CW and no speech)
- By NoV only
- Strictly non-interference
- Power limited if need be.
OFCOM and RSGB, wake up!!
19 Jun 2022
My 8m QRP gear was turned on 40.680 MHz USB dial FT8 (first) TX at 0810z.
UPDATE 1153z: Spotted by 2 stations with 1 FT8 "QSO" with a station in Slovenia. As this is a simple exchange of reports and QTH, I am treating this as completely within the terms and spirit of my 8m licence. I want to know how my QRP signal in received in Slovenia. This is a perfect way.
UPDATE 1839z: Spotted 6 stations in 6 EU countries.
18 Jun 2022
This week I was in Yorkshire for my wife's sibling reunion, so progress on the book was limited. My new deadline is June 27th when I hope to go to Devon to see my brother for the first time since 2019. My wife is still at home.
So, the deadline is now June 27th before I leave. This time I am going by coach as the train may be unreliable. The book is coming on, but there was more work than I expected. In a way it is my legacy. I hope you have as much fun as I had.
Some years ago I bought one from SRC in Wales. Although I believe this is no longer available, they all have one thing in common: the end of the antenna is a high impedance, so a transformer is needed to get the SWR into the range of auto ATUs found on modern rigs. Usually this is an UNUN built into the antenna.
In getting things together for my free PDF book, I realised this was absent from my website! This is now corrected. As mine had been unused in the back of the garage, I swapped mine for an active RX antenna that works well. The swap was with Jason M0NYW.
As usual, I am on 40.680 MHz USB dial QRP FT8. Already spotted very strongly by EA3ERE (1153km) in northern Spain.
My usual pattern is to be on for about one hour. let the rig thoroughly cool and then come on again afterwards. It would seem Es allows modest QRP stations, like mine, to enjoy the fun.
It is now about 0931z.
UPDATE 1230: Still just EA3ERE spotting me and nobody spotted here. Now QRT as the rig cools.
We are currently at the peak of the Es season in the northern hemisphere. Yesterday 14 stations spotted me on 10m WSPR TX. All these look like they were by Es. My reports on 8m FT8 also look like Es. By the end of the summer the Es season will be over.
The Es season usually lasts from April to August. The peak months are May, June and July. However Es can occur at any time. There is usually a much smaller peak just after Christmas.
17 Jun 2022
This is the season for nests and young birds. Yet again, we have some house sparrows nesting in our roof (they were there last year too) and we have dunnocks, robins, blackbirds, pigeons, collared doves and goldfinches nesting in our hedges or very nearby. There are probably others as well. This young thrush (I think) was being fed on our back lawn.
16 Jun 2022
All being well, I should be home again later this afternoon. I intend to be on 8m TX on 40.680 MHz USB dial FT8 then.
UPDATE 2111z: Spots of my QRP 8m TX by 2 stations and I have spotted 2 stations here. 1 station in Slovenia "worked". Oops sorry exchanged FT8 reports and locations, sorry OFCOM!! Silly me thinking UK stations engaged in self training and research could be worked. My hand slapped!! 😉😉
15 Jun 2022
14 Jun 2022
13 Jun 2022
Both yesterday and the day before, I had over 70 reports of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon. Today I have had just a few reports and these could be by F2. Es can be very localised with strong signals somewhere and nothing a few kilometres away.
On 8m I am frequently spotted by EI9KP (649km). This happens so often that I suspect some other form of propagation other than F2 or Es is involved such as random meteors or aircraft scatter.
The period of FT8 makes me think random meteors or aircraft unlikely. It is far too far to EI9KP for tropo.
Am I missing something?
However, I surprised myself last year with good crops of tomatoes, crab apples and runner beans. The secret seems to be to ensure the soil has plenty of goodness in it. This year, I have put beans in the same spot as last year (having added lots of goodness to the soil first) as well a 4 bean plants in a pot. I shall grow some lettuce and tomatoes shortly.
If I get as many as last year, I shall be pleased.
Yesterday I got my first report from a station in Scotland bringing my country count to 10.
This proves that even a very simple station can give useful results, although those with much higher ERP are achieving some remarkable results.
Later today I expect to be on 8m TX again.
UPDATE 0816z: On 40.680 MHz USB dial (first) FT8 now.
Yesterday 76 stations spotted my 500mW QRP 10m WSPR. I think these were Es. Later today, I expect to be on again.
UPDATE 0822z: On 10m QRP WSPR TX now. Already 2 spots of my QRP from EA8BFK (2880km) in the Canary Is. This could be F2 propagation.
UPDATE 0828z: I am wondering if the very first spots from EA8BFK were with the PA off, so at sub 1mW level? When the PA is first turned on there is usually about 20 minutes of drift. I have just turned the PA off to see if I get spots!
UPDATE 1116z: Having got no spots from the Canary Is since the PA was turned off, I think it unlikely EA8BFK was spotting me on extremely low power. Since turning the PA on again, I am again getting lots of spots.
12 Jun 2022
Yesterday was one of my best days ever on 10m WSPR TX with over 70 stations spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon.
At the moment, I am on 10m WSPR TX using 500mW to the tiny W5OLF beacon. No spots yet today.
UPDATE 1943z: 74 stations spotting my 500mW WSPR today with the furthermost FR1GZ (9724km). Most were by Es. This is even more than yesterday.
It is now 1032z I have been on 8m FT8 TX on 40.680 MHz USB dial for about 30 minutes.
UPDATE 1712z: 4 stations have spotted my QRP today with the furthermost EA8BFK (2881km) in the Canary Is. Also, G4APB (88km) spotted on RX, I think for the first time on 8m FT8; at -22dB S/N he was marginal here. I have lost count of all the stations now spotted on 8m FT8, but they are in 5 countries. We could do with a few more countries active on TX.
11 Jun 2022
Most people opt for 5/8th wave antennas when they want better ranges on their 2m handhelds. Some years ago now I made a half-wave antenna for 2m. It was widely used on my many 2m rigs. It was first used in the 1970s, so must be about 50 years old!
One photo shows the matching arrangement and the other the full whip.
10 Jun 2022
On and off this afternoon, I have been on 40.680 MHz USB dial FT8 QRP TX. It is now 1605z, and I have been spotted by 2 stations and I have had 1 "QSO" with a station in Croatia although I cannot tell you this! Actually it was an FT8 exchange of location and signal reports.
Maybe to keep OFCOM happy I should have told him about runner beans and sweet peas - oh silly me, I don't have a commercial rig and antenna for 80m.
Isn't OFCOM's position and that of the RSGB on 8m absolutely crazy?!!
UPDATE 1807z: 5 stations have spotted me on 8m FT8 TX today. 2 stations have been spotted here.
I hope the links on the link still work as they were created some time ago.