Since I went on my blog early this morning, the number of readers has remained very low and unchanged. It looks like there is an error or the blog is suddenly very unpopular!
UPDATE 2155z: Definitely wrong. Numbers have hardly changed all day.
As it is my intention to concentrate on 4m FT8 RX later, I intend to go on 10m WSPR TX with my 500mW beacon. This does not need the PC.
As long as the 10m antenna is available, I can use this beacon, leaving the PC free.
UPDATE 1012z: Although my beacon has been on for almost 2 hours, no spots.
UPDATE 1401z: Just a single spot by OE3XOE (1233km) all day.
Andrew G6ALB is remaking his 4m personal beacon at the weekend so that I can retest the RX in my transverter. The transverter has not been used for years.
I was hoping for suggestions about where to put my RX for the best chances on FT8 RX. Some say 70.100 whereas others suggest 70.154 MHz USB dial. At the moment I have no 4m antenna so cannot TX.
As the chances of Es are much diminished I guess most propagation will be inter-G. I have no idea what activity levels on 4m are like. If like other VHF bands, I guess my best chance will be the next UKAC activity session in 3 weeks' time.
So, where is the best place to watch for 4m FT8 activity in the UK please?
UPDATE 1018z: I have divided my time between the 2 frequencies I know about, but nothing yet spotted on 4m FT8 RX. I am still waiting for FT8 frequency information. Help!!
UPDATE 1107z: I have been told most 4m FT8 in the whole of Europe including the UK is on 70.154 MHz USB dial, so that is where I shall monitor. Still no spots.
UPDATE 1342z: It works!! G3SHK (200km) and G0DJA (151km) spotted on 4m FT8 RX using the low 8m wire dipole.
Some time ago, I expressed my concerns about the future of our hobby as the average age of radio amateurs increased.
My concern was that as we age, it is likely that fewer new radios will be bought. In 20 years' time several of us will be in care homes! If we still have amateur radio access, it will probably be with internet radios.
Already, I think one European amateur radio dealer has gone. My prediction is others will follow across the planet.
The danger is magazines will see less advertising revenue, so some will shrink or go out of business.
Some manufacturers will view our hobby as a "lost cause" and may decide to leave the market. There will be a scramble to cut costs. I really cannot see all our traditional Japanese manufacturers continuing in our market without radical changes to their business models. Those that will still be around are those that see the future and adapt accordingly.
Now, some places are bucking the trend and the number of new radio amateurs is increasing. In my view, this is the exception. What we have to recognise is that what attracted us is very unlikely to attract many newcomers today.
Be in little doubt, our hobby is about to encounter very hard times in my view.
Almost immediately this resulted in a QSO with G3TKF (221km) as well as 9 spots of me including one by G7RAU (461km) in Cornwall (see map).
3 stations spotted on 2m FT8 RX this morning.
UPDATE 1133z: 7 stations spotted on RX and 11 stations have spotted me on 2m QRP FT8.
UPDATE 1332z: 9 stations have been spotted on RX here today with the furthermost DO7JVK (419km) in Germany. On QRP TX, I have been spotted by 13 unique stations today. Imagine if I had a beam!
Yesterday my wife met up with an old school friend she has known for 61 years. She introduced her to 365 some years ago and loves it.
Today I expect to be on 10m FT8 QRP right from the start. It cannot be worse than yesterday!
UPDATE 0820z: Gear turned on at 0545z. 2 stations have spotted me (a local G and an MM). Nothing spotted on RX.
UPDATE 0954z: 3 European stations spotted on RX. Not exactly great!
According to the webpage I listened for a local station's personal QRP 4m beacon. I cannot recall using the transverter. Maybe it was with something else.
UPDATE 1345z: I have found the transverter! It was in the shack at the back of a drawer. Assuming it still works, I must try it out. First I have to erect an antenna for 4m.
UPDATE 1409z: In preparation for trying the band again, I started looking for information. At one time, the place to go was the 4m website, but I get the impression this is no longer well maintained. Instead I turned to the RSGB's 4m page.
UPDATE 1428z: I have connected the transverter to the FT817ND and the 10m antenna. At the moment I am on 70.100 MHz USB dial FT8 RX. I hope the crystal is still on frequency. I must check this. Noise goes up when the antenna is connected - a hopeful sign. Nothing copied.
UPDATE 1504z: I am puzzled what is the best frequency to try for 4m FT8 RX. Some say 70.100 MHz whereas some say 70.154 MHz. Which has the best chance of spotting anyone please? The 42 MHz crystal is oscillating and on 42.000 MHz . Currently I am monitoring 70.154 MHz USB dial.
At about 1350z, I QSYed to 10m FT8 from 10m WSPR. It seems very quiet with no spots on 10m FT8 RX or TX.
UPDATE 1447z: Just a single spot by local G0LRD (26km) of me on QRP TX with PA2WDR (280km) on RX. I am quite surprised.got
UPDATE 1607z: ZD7BG (7606km) spotted on RX.
UPDATE 1732z: Unless things dramatically improve, today has been terrible on 10m here.
UPDATE 1936z: It got no better. Apart from the ZD7, just 2 Gs spotted. Basically dreadful! Now QRT.
You can just look at it online or, if you want to, download it and print off. You could always just print off what you want. I want no money for this. I just want people to realise our hobby does not have to be expensive at all, and experimentation is fun.
At 0928z, my 500mW 10m WSPR TX beacon was turned on. No spots yet today. As Es spots are now far less frequent, I expect my best chances will be later with F2 propagation.
I am tempted to try 10m FT8. If I do this it means I have to go QRT on 8m as I shall need the PC, that I do not need with WSPR.
As our visitors have gone out, I have turned on my QRP 8m FT8 on 40.680 MHz USB dial at about 0927z. No spots.
I am getting the distinct feeling that there are fewer 8m FT8 monitors now the Es season is largely over.
UPDATE 1450z: No spots all day RX or TX on 8m FT8.
If the IC-905 ever makes it to market, I wonder if this will make any impact on activity?
My 500mW WSPR TX beacon was turned on about 0948z. No spots of me yet.
UPDATE 1035z: Spotted by an OH and SM station many times. I have noticed several times that more northerly stations spot me, or are spotted, more often later in the Es season. I wonder if this really is the same mechanism?
As we are out taking our grandson to film some bells until about 1000z, I shall not be on until we get back. As the main Es season has ended, I shall hope to catch a brief Es opening or some F2 when I go on 40.680 MHz USB dial QRP FT8 later.
UPDATE 0948z: Gear now on QRP FT8 8m TX.
We are now moving out of the main Es season into F2 being the main propagation mode. Using WSPR I mainly copy European stations whereas with FT8 I often copy South Americans. This is with the same RX, antenna and WSJT-X software!
My only conclusion is that far more people are now using FT8 than WSPR or that much shorter openings are caught with a 15 second burst of FT8 than a much longer WSPR burst.
This is the new radio announced by ICOM. I have serious doubts about it ever making it to market.
It is meant to cover 2m-3cm with a control head based on the IC-705 and an RF unit that could be mounted next to the antenna.
It looks expensive and I just can't see it selling in huge volumes. Also, I cannot imagine it being low cost.
If it ever gets to market I can see this being a flop. Nice idea, but unlikely to make them rich.
After a huge amount of thought I have decided not to buy this radio.
Apart from 4m, it is unlikely to offer me much more than I already have. I am sure the IC-705 offers nearly as much. The 100W is wasted on me! What I might have bought was a 10W version or a real FT817 replacement.
There is little doubt that this is an excellent transceiver especially with the special bank holiday deals from MLS.
So, I'll pass. Maybe I'll regret this.
As readers will know, I have been strongly considering one of these.
At the moment MLS is offering a very good deal, but I am still undecided. I am probably not buying one, although it is very highly rated in the Sherwood RX tests. With the £100 MLS gift voucher and Yaesu £85 cashback, now is probably the very best time.
It has a very good receiver, 4m and an auto-ATU, but not 2m or 70cm. At 100W on HF it has about 20 times the power I would ever use!
If you have recently written to me and have not got a reply, it was probably my mistake.
I just emptied my bin and, too late, noticed something that I think should not have been there. Write again please. I try to respond promptly. Please accept my apologies. Writing again is probably the best thing to do if you got no response.
Hopefully I will be very wrong, but I predict that at least one amateur radio dealer will be gone by the end of next year.
There could be more than one. Over time magazines will see revenue dip, which in turn could lead to smaller editions or even some magazines closing.
In my view, some dealers will survive, but others may not. Hard times are ahead.
As I said before, I hope I will be very wrong, but the signs are not good. I wrote to one dealer almost a week ago and I did not have the courtesy of a reply. They certainly won't be getting any business from me. Will they be one of the first to go? I shall not name and shame them.
It is not just dealers. Some manufacturers are also considering whether amateur radio offers them profits in the future. Some may decide it is better to get out soon.
It has since been moved so should be better in future.
At the moment MLS is offering some good deals on this with a £100 gift voucher to use on future purchases. This offer runs until Monday. The gift voucher can be used at any time. Yaesu also has a £85 cash back offer.
The rig has received rave reviews, but does not have 2m or 70cm, but does have 4m and an auto ATU. Although seriously tempted, at the moment I am inclined against it. My fear (hopefully unfounded) is that Yaesu is leaving the market. To me, the MLS move is to retain custom.
In these hard times, all dealers will struggle. Amateur radio usually depends on disposable income. There is less.
The following rallies should be on over this weekend. In some countries in the UK, Monday is a public holiday. As always, check with organisers before going any distance.
Sunday August 28th Milton Keynes ARC rally. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday August 28th Torbay Annual Communications Fair. Contact email@example.com.
Monday August 29th HARS Annual Rally (Huntingdon). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
As the storm risk seems to have passed, I am again on 10m WSPR TX with 500mW from the W5OLF beacon. At 0956z, no spots of me.
UPDATE 1115z: No spots. Even with fewer stations now using WSPR (compared with FT8), I would have expected some spots by now. This suggests the main Es season is now over. Es will still occur, but far less often.
UPDATE 1500z: Quite a few spots today from HB9TMC (905km). It looks like this was an Es opening, but in a very narrow area.
As we have thunderstorms at the moment and these could last until well after lunch, everything will remain disconnected until all risks have gone. So, no operation until later.
lightning map confirms this, I may go on later this morning. It appears to confirm the storms have gone.
This is the IC-905. I am extremely sceptical. I cannot see them selling that many or making a profit. Maybe it is a lost leader, really they are aiming to make a profit on something similar in the commercial market.
It seems unlikely to be available much before late 2023 and at what price? The price has to be very keen or they risk a total flop.
If I was ICOM, I really would not bother. Mind you, I am not ICOM!
Nice concept, but in this tough world will it make them any money?
Later, I hope to be on 8m TX on 40.680 MHz USB dial FT8 QRP again. Still getting DX spots even with my low ERP in the last few days.
UPDATE 1152z: Gear turned on at 0859z. No spots. I have the feeling there will be none today, although I am ever hopeful!
UPDATE 1520z: EI9KP (649km) has spotted me on 8m QRP FT8.
This is the term used in amateur radio circles for people who have, sadly, died. It must date from the very early days when most people used Morse and Morse keys. The phrase may be over 100 years old.
In the last year or so, two of the people locally that I chatted with every week have become SK. The one thing they had in common was their zest for life.
Both enjoyed finding new things right up until they died. Both are missed, but their vitality lives on.
RIP Ted G4NUA and Ian G3KKD. Ted was keen on PCs and WSPR, and Ian was experimenting with DATV. Ian liked all things ATV. Even to the end he was building 5.6 GHz ATV kit.
As I was considering purchasing the Yaesu FTDX-10, I thought I would look at the Yaesu Japan site for more data. I was invited to do a download. Imagine my horror when I was looking at a 2011 (yes 2011) catalogue!! Does not exactly fill you with confidence. Perhaps this explains why we have seen no decent FT817 replacement.
Hello, hello - anyone there??
At this rate I expect a spark TX and coherer RX soon - latest Yaesu technology. My fear is that if I buy an FTDX-10, will Yaesu still be around in 5 years time? I really hope so, but I have my doubts, seriously.
Many years ago Jack Hum G5UM gave a talk to the Cambridge radio club (CDARC). In the talk he mentioned he had made a recording in the late 1940s of the last hours on 5m in the UK. I am not sure if this was a disk, wire recorder or tape, probably a disk.
I am wondering if copies of this historic recording still exist? At the time I think G5UM lived in London.
Many will remember Jack as the columnist of the "Four Metres and Down" column in RadCom.
Unsurprisingly, many have now moved over to 10m FT8.
My little stand-alone 500mW W5OLF beacon does not need a PC at all.
What has surprised me this summer is how many are still using WSPR. Even with my 500mW QRP WSPR on 10m, I usually get several unique stations spotting me. FT8 allows very basic QSOs.
UPDATE 1405z: Already today my 10m QRP WSPR has been spotted by 4 unique stations.
Every month I enter this UKAC activity contest. I can only run 10W to my big-wheel omni and because of my poor voice I manage an hour. Results were published today and, surprise, surprise, I am in the top half of the low power section. My points go to the Cambridge club CDARC. In the 70cm UKAC I gave up.
Shortly, I hope to be on 8m QRP TX on 40.680 MHz USB dial FT8 again.
In the last few days I have been spotted by 4 stations across Europe with the best DX 1808km. Es may be quieter, but there are still good times!!
UPDATE| 1259z: EA3ERE (1153km) has spotted my 8m QRP FT8 again.
UPDATE 1340z: Off cooling. Back on about 1415z, I hope.
It would appear that EI7GL was spotting on 10m WSPR RX yesterday. Assuming this was indeed John and not a pirate, I am puzzled. I have no further information.
UPDATE 1915z: Just had an email from John. All is well, but he was too busy to blog over the summer, but hopes to resume in September. Basically good news.
These were on display last weekend at our Classic Car Day at our local museum.
The windmill is on the left and our house in the background on the right.
We need rain, as the photo shows!
Ideally, please may I have a decent FT817 replacement with 4m? No doubt the minute I was to buy an FTDX-10 they would announce a decent FT817 replacement at half the price of the FTDX-10. Perhaps I should wait....
John has (had?) one of the best blogs, that I found really helpful, but it has not been updated since May. I wrote to John over the weekend, but got no response.
Does anyone have any news please?
If he, or others who know, is able to read this, a response would be helpful.
The wire dipole is only about 3m over the ground, possibly less.
UPDATE 0800z: Gear turned on at 0736z. No spots.
UPDATE 1233z: EI9KP (649km) has spotted me this morning.
It is now 1010z and I have been on 10m WSPR TX with 500mW from the W5OLF beacon for about an hour. So far only spotted by one station in Sweden.
UPDATE 1150z: 14 unique stations have spotted my 500mW 10m WSPR this morning.
UPDATE 1601z: 25 stations have spotted me today so far on 10m QRP WSPR. Most look like Es.
As the main Es season is winding down, it would appear there are fewer people now monitoring 8m FT8 on 40.680 MHz USB dial. Shortly, I hope to be on again.
UPDATE 1145z: 2 spots of me on 8m FT8 from the Iberian peninsula. I think this again proves that openings occur far more often than people think. More activity please!!
Any idea what sort it was?
For a change this morning I am on 10m FT8 QRP with the FT817ND. It is now 0921z and I have been on for about 30 minutes. So far, 5 stations have spotted me and I have spotted 13 stations. No QSOs yet.
UPDATE 1904z: 416 stations spotted in 4 continents spotted on 10m FT8 RX.
At about 1830z, I hope to try 70cm FT8 QRP on 432.174 MHz USB dial. It is very unlikely anyone will copy me or I shall copy anyone else. Still, it is worth a try.
UPDATE 1840z: 70cm FT8 QRP turned on. Apart from the first 2 transmissions with the 2m big-wheel, I am using the V2000 vertical omni. No spots. Am I surprised? No!
UPDATE 1935z: No spots.
My 2m FT8 system is just the FT817ND with my big-wheel omni antenna. Despite this, I have already been spotted on Anglesey by GW8IZR (337km).
I think FT8 allows even QRP stations to access some sort of troposcatter on 2m.
As mentioned earlier today, this is probably true on 70cm or 23cm although activity is far lower. It is a pity some beacons on these higher VHF and UHF bands don't have FT8 as part of their transmission cycles.
It would seem most people are now using FT8 in preference to WSPR on 10m. Despite this, my 500mW QRP WSPR beacon was spotted by 15 stations yesterday.
It is now 1021z and, as yet, no 10m WSPR spots have been received. I am on 10m QRP WSPR as the antenna is available and no PC is needed on WSPR.
FT8 amazes me.
DX spots seem possible with QRP and omni antennas at any time with this mode on 2m. If activity was higher, this would probably be true on 70cm and 23cm. My suspicion is this is troposcatter made possible by the ability of FT8 to work with incredibly weak signals.
In my view, FT8 is a game changer.
When I get back from my U3A course in Cambridge after lunch, I shall try 500uW (0.5mW) 10m WSPR and try to better match my earth-electrode ...