Yesterday we got the train back to Ely. This was the view through the train window showing the cathedral and boats.
Ely is a surprisingly busy station where many lines meet. It is rare to not see something going on there.
The bottom right is from the great east window which was erected in 1350 whilst the others are in the cloisters.
At the moment, I am on 10m FT8 RX. So far, after 10 minutes, at 0856z, 5 stations spotted with the furthermost D2UY (6525km) in Angola.
All being well, I hope to be on 10m WSPR later when we get home. I should be back this afternoon.
UPDATE 1430z: Back home at 1329z. 10m QRP FT8 turned on. 19 stations have already spotted me with the furthermost WA5TXY (7632km) near Dallas Texas. On 10m FT8 RX 123 stations already spotted.
This is being copied in Eire by EI9KP by weak tropo, but after several days I have had no sign here in East Anglia. I only have a low dipole and it is obviously too weak for tropo and with MS or aircraft, I almost certainly need more time for a decode on FT8.
I shall try again when there is a decent MS shower, hoping the Doppler doesn't kill the FT8!
Although I suspect my chances are low, I am continuing to monitor the beacon GB3MCB in Cornwall on 40.050 MHz FT8.
As the 10m antenna is free I shall probably go on 10m QRP WSPR TX with my 500mW W5OLF beacon.
UPDATE 0825z: 10m QRP WSPR TX turned on and PC manually re-synced "just in case".
Many digital modes like WSPR and FT8 depend on accurate timing.
For the last few weeks I have just used Windows 10 to sync PC time. As a matter of habit I do a re-sync perhaps once a day "just in case".
Judging by results on FT8, I am perfectly sure this is fine. In the past I used special software for this. My advice is do not bother.
Make sure your settings for time automatically sync. This is extremely easy.
This beacon on 40.050 MHz began operation this weekend.
It is situated in mid-Cornwall near St Austell. It should be very useful to indicate when 8m is open across the Atlantic. It has an FT8 sequence, so can be monitored with WSJT-X free software. The antennas are crossed dipoles.
Initially, it is operated under a test and innovation licence. In my view both the RSGB and OFCOM should have just granted them an NoV to the amateur licence as this truly helps propagation research and self training. The RSGB should have made the case and OFCOM agreed.
OFCOM and the RSGB -- just wake up!!! You are making yourselves look unbelievably stupid! Surely the whole purpose of our hobby is self training and radio research. Is it any wonder we cannot find RF engineers in the UK if there is no support?
8m need not be "more of the same". It is uniquely situated in the radio spectrum, on the HF/VHF boundary, to offer radio amateurs a real chance to contribute to radio propagation research. Instead, both the RSGB and OFCOM appear to be obstructive.
I am still totally puzzled why OFCOM seems so against even 5 kHz (just 5 kilohertz!!) at 8m being allocated to the amateur service by NoV. They could insist on narrow digital only and make us secondary users with limited power. It just seems so short-sighted. Like the Chinese trying to stop Covid or King Canute trying to stop the tide - there are some things in life that make no sense.
UPDATE 0804z: No spots overnight.
UPDATE 1556z: Still not a sign of that beacon. My feeling is that this is a complete waste of time. I thought I might see the odd MS burst, but nothing. Maybe I should remain on until the morning? Probably the 15 second TX period is too long for random MS. In a shower I might have better luck.
Whenever I ask for help trying to find something, I usually get a positive response within a few hours. There are so many kind people who always offer their help. Thank you!
Don't ever let anyone say the spirit of amateur radio has gone. It most definitely is there. This week alone I have had kind offers from several people.
Back in the 1970s my first outings on 70cm were using a circuit I found in a VHF Communications magazine. I guess it would have been 1971-1974 sometime. I think the magazine came out quarterly.
The circuit used a varicap diode as a tripler on TX and as a mixer on RX. The IF was 2m and on 70cm it produced about 100mW as I recall. In those days most were crystal controlled AM and on RX we tuned "low to high", or similar, to get a QSO.
Do you recall this circuit? If you have a copy of the article I would be most grateful for a copy.
I have no intention of building it, but it would be nice for old time's sake. From an East Anglian "hill" (yes there are a few, HI) it worked as far as Yorkshire with a very small beam.
Later today, I hope to be on 10m FT8. Although some of the time I shall be QRP TX, most of the time I shall be RX only.
If F2 E-W is very good, I may QSY to 8m FT8.
UPDATE 1134z: Been on RX since about 1050z. 62 stations spotted so far today.UPDATE 1255z: 152 stations spotted today on 10m FT8 RX (see map).
|Stations spotted on |
10m FT8 RX today
At one time, a very popular 23cm antenna, for ATV I think, was the bow tie designed by G8GML (now SK). As I recall it was 2 diamond shaped elements with a solid reflector. I think it had a useful (not high) gain and a fairly broad forward lobe.
For DX contacts, a decent beam with lots of forward gain is usually essential, but such an antenna might be better for me than the PCB HB9CV that, I believe, is supplied with the 23cm transverter that should come next month.
What I am wondering is does anyone make this commercially and at what price?
Such an antenna might be useful on 70cm too.
UPDATE 1907z: As David says in the comments, Wimo make such an antenna. It looks expensive.
At the moment, I do not think conditions are good enough for E-W F2 propagation on 8m. Unless things change, I think I shall give 8m a miss today.
UPDATE 1659z: On 40.680 MHz QRP FT8 (first). ZS6WAB has been very strong in central Europe on 40.680 MHz FT8 in the last hour, but I doubt he will be spotted further north. I think this is TEP.
|Stations spotted mid-afternoon |
on 10m FT8 RX
For several years radio clubs have been unable to meet because of Covid-19. Some turned to Zoom and found it far better than many expected. I have been very impressed how good these meetings have been. With Zoom all participants can chat and see each other if they wish.
The Cambridge Club has started meeting again in person, but has held "virtual" meetings, so that people at home can still see the talks and take part. As I am really unable to drive far by car at night, I have joined the last 2 meetings by Zoom.
Last night there were far more people on Zoom than in person! I just wonder if this is the future of radio clubs? The advantage of Zoom is speakers and listeners can be anywhere in the world. In the past, CDARC has had people give talks from Canada. With screen sharing this has been really good. We have had viewers from all sorts of places, from where they would be totally unable to attend in person.
What I wonder is should clubs do talks via Zoom with "in person" meet ups, say, once a month? No need to hire rooms, members could be from across the world, they could have lower fees. For those without PCs, people could get together in each other's homes. Social meetings could be in a pub or someone's home.
I know 4m is unlikely to be "open" as much as 10m, 8m or 6m, but there should be several Es openings into Europe. Using my transverter, this should allow me some 4m Es QSOs, especially with FT8.
The transverter manufacturer has confirmed it will supply a small test antenna. This means I am probably OK for very local contacts initially.
Many thanks for the offers to build me a 23cm antenna. People in our community are very kind and I am really touched by the kindness. As I have said before, there are far more kind people around than bad ones, but these unsung heros are not newsworthy!
This morning, I am on 10m FT8. Initially I was on TX and spotted in the Canary Is, but I am now RX only. No QSOs.
UPDATE 0935z: So far, I have spotted 25 stations on 10m FT8 RX.
As regular readers will know, I am buying a 23cm 2W transverter from SG-Labs in Bulgaria. I think at one time they supplied a small 23cm PCB antenna with it. I have to check if this is still the case.
Looking around, 23cm commercial antennas look very expensive. As the majority of QSOs would be local(ish), I am wondering what you would recommend? As my fine motor skills are not good these days, I don't think I could make one. In the past, I would have made one! Is there one that would be ideal for me?
The following rally is due to take place, but as always check with the organisers first!
Sept 25th - Weston Super Mare RS. See https://e-voice.org.uk/weston-super-mare-radio-society .
As the antenna is free, I am on 10m WSPR TX with 500mW from the W5OLF beacon. No spots of me yet today at 1450z.
UPDATE 1521z: As well as spots of me by local G4KPX (14km) I am also getting spotted by KD5DE (7464km). Pretty sure this is by F2.
UPDATE 1655z: I am again getting spotted by 2 stations in the Canary Is. If these RX are on, it is unusual not to be spotted by them these days on 10m QRP WSPR.
About an hour ago I QSYed to 8m FT8. hoping to be spotted across the Atlantic or spot someone from over there. A QSO would be magic.
Based on ERP alone, this should be possible as I have done it with less ERP on 10m SSB, so 8m FT8 QRP should be possible.
UPDATE 1733z: Nothing on RX or TX today. QSYing to 17m FT8 RX.
As an experiment, I may try FT8 RX on a different band with my 10m end fed antenna. I think it has a low SWR on some other bands, but I cannot remember which.
UPDATE 0836z: The antenna would appear to be a good match on 17m, 15m. 12m and 10m. Today, I am trying 15m FT8. My very first signal resulted in a QSO with an LZ station. 8 stations have spotted me on QRP TX! I am RX only now. So far, on 15m FT8 RX, 16 stations spotted.
According to the beacon keeper, the 8m beacon at GB3MCB on 40.050 MHz should be operational next weekend subject to the rigger and weather. They also have permission for a 5m beacon.
As yet, I have not checked on modes. I hope to copy it by MS, scatter, and maybe tropo.
The probable modes are CW and PI4.
In my view, ALL beacons should include an FT8 sequence as this mode is (I think) as good as PI4 and is included free with WSJT-X and other software packages making 24/7 monitoring easy.
After a successful RX session on 10m FT8, I am now on 10m QRP WSPR (500mW from my W5OLF beacon) as the antenna is available.
UPDATE 1815z: Just F2 spots from 2 stations in the Canary Islands. No DX from the USA today. I think most people now use FT8.
All afternoon and early evening (UK time) I shall be on 40.680 MHz FT8 RX hoping to spot some DX from North America via F2.
As mentioned yesterday, I am on 10m FT8 RX again this morning, but may QSY to 8m FT8 RX this afternoon if F2 propagation looks promising. Judging by initial 10m results, F2 to the USA is looking a possibility on 8m later.
Initially, I shall be RX only on 8m FT8 on 40.680 MHz. I shall try TX if things look possible.
UPDATE 0915z: 71 stations already spotted on 10m FT8 RX.
F2 conditions are getting better, so I may try 8m FT8 tomorrow PM. I shall probably go on 10m FT8 in the morning.
At some point this autumn I hope to copy USA 8m stations on 40.680 MHz FT8. To get any reports of my 8m FT8 signals or even a QSO across the Atlantic would be incredible.
Next year, all being well, I hope to try some /P 23cm operation in some of the RSGB organised activity contests (UKAC). I am wondering if there is a popular antenna used in these contests?
Clearly very high gain antennas will give good signals, but will miss stations that are out of the very sharp beamwidth, whereas smaller antennas will have broader beams, but less gain. Perhaps, stations use one antenna for hunting, then a sharp, high gain one when on beam.
It is a very long time since I was on 23cm and then only RX.
Is there a favourite antenna?
This morning, I am on 10m FT8 RX. Lots of F2 propagation at 0752z.UPDATE 1035z: Worldwide (almost) reception on 10m FT8 RX this morning.
Starting tomorrow, I expect to be mainly on 10m QRP FT8. If F2 looks promising I shall QSY to 8m FT8 on 40.680 MHz hoping for the USA. This might be possible in late October or November.
My order and payment for the 23cm transverter has been received. When it comes, I shall try for some local 23cm QSOs, although my main aim is some UKAC sessions /P next year.
Do the British like queues?
Our son has just been around for lunch and made a very sensible suggestion about the queue to see the Queen's coffin lying in state.
Instead of the stupidly long queue why not allocate people timed slots which could have been obtained at ticket offices or online? Some people queued for many cold hours overnight!
Looking back, the queues were totally unnecessary. Instead, they could have been told. "your slot is Friday at 2145" or similar. They could have then gone away and come back at their appointed time.
In this modern age this was so stupid.
When on 8m FT8 or other modes, the FT817ND and PC are tied up, so I go on 10m WSPR with the W5OLF 500mW beacon.
So far this morning, just spots from the Canary Is by what seems like F2 propagation. No signs of any Es today.
UPDATE 1345z: Some reports have been +6dB S/N which is very strong.
It is hard to appreciate just how much the media influences us all.
In Russia, folks are told that the war in Ukraine is a "special operation" to liberate oppressed people. In the west we are told the Ukrainians are without fault. In the 1970s we were always told the USA was perfect in Vietnam and the Vietcong was evil.
We rarely hear a truly balanced view. All sides want to slant things their way.
The truth is usually somewhere in the middle. The west is not perfect, Russia is not perfect, Ukraine is not perfect, and the Vietcong was not the evil it was portrayed.
In all wars and in peacetime, the media influences us all. My plea is to get your data from multiple sources and make up your own mind. Don't always believe what you are fed.
I have been monitoring this Irish beacon for several days and with various modes. So far, I have had no luck.
After today, I shall stop and try again with MSK144 in an MS shower.
UPDATE 1815z: Still nothing. Disappointing as G0RQQ, Keith, is able to get it in Lincoln. I am getting the distinct impression this is not going to work.
UPDATE 1943z: Nothing. I shall go QRT soon on 8m FT8 RX on the beacon frequency. Failure!
Yaesu, you have had your chances, but never took them in the run up to solar peak 24 and now 25. Instead, Yaesu messes around with a 100W SDR radio that looks like the one they only recently introduced!!
Yaesu, have you really lost the plot?
Like all things from China my feeling is the quality control and support are still not proven. They will get there soon and this may be it.
Lower cost amateur radio products are coming and the big Japanese manufacturers are in for a large shock. The writing is on the wall. I give it a few years only. Certainly when we are in cycle 26 things will look very different indeed. Some of the companies we have known for decades will be gone and there will be new names.
Although Es can occur at any time, the late spring and early summer are the best times. Often bands up 4m can bring DX to up to 1500km, sometimes more. Rarely, Es occurs at 2m.
Today, for example I saw no evidence of Es propagation on 10m WSPR. The only stations spotting me were probably via F2 propagation or local. The nature of Es is it is sporadic, so the bands can suddenly come alive, which is why FT8 especially can be so useful.
When DX is not around, bands like 10m and 6m can be seriously under-used. This is a pity as they make good bands for club nets and local chats. Antennas are small and local noise is often much better than 160m or 80m, where antennas can be big.
In the spring and summer, we get bird migrants from Africa.
In recent years there have been far fewer swallows, although here, surprisingly, swift numbers are not too bad. Swifts mostly go in August to central Africa, whereas many swallows end up in South Africa.
Most swallows go about now, although a very few may try to over-winter. As our climate gets milder, some may succeed. It will be next spring before the swifts and swallows, hopefully, return. They have being doing this journey for thousands of years.
Over the winter we see birds from the far north, who think our climate is mild! Don't tell them otherwise! In this part of the UK we get swans from Iceland and Siberia over the winter.
Amateur Radio Weekly reports that the Japanese hope to put a UHF beacon on the moon.
If successfully deployed, this could be a good test for receivers. I am not sure what it will send or when the launch is planned.
Although Keith in Lincoln has been successful, I have still not decoded the beacon. We are at similar distances from the beacon, I think. It would seem my low horizontal dipole is not as effective as Keith's long wire. I note that the beacon has a vertical dipole whereas mine is horizontal. With scatter and MS this probably does not matter, but with WSPR and tropo it could make all the difference. I shall keep trying!!
I must check the screen during a WSPR slot to see if it is there at all. It sends WSPR every 20 minutes. If I can detect it at all, I might briefly try my other antennas just in case these are better in that direction and with vertical polarisation.
Otherwise, it is MSK144 in a meteor shower.
UPDATE 0936z: In the last WSPR slots absolutely nothing on the screen with the 8m dipole or 10m end fed antennas.
UPDATE 1410z: In view of Paul's (G9PUV) comments that he has never spotted WSPR from this beacon, I have switched back to 8m FT8 RX. You never know! It will be monitored all weekend.
MLS has just announced the price of the new 100W SDR transceiver, that seems to have a very similar spec to the FTDX-10. It seems the price is lower than the FTDX-10 and the rig a little smaller. What I cannot understand is why Yaesu has done this.
Was the FTDX-10 not quite right? Where is a proper FT817 replacement? It still seems to me that Yaesu is in a muddle and trying to find its way.
Tim, the beacon keeper, has recommended I try 8m WSPR RX.
The WSPR sessions are several times an hour and WSPR works with very weak signals. I am on 8m WSPR now, but a bit uncertain about the 2 minute cycles. This may only work with tropo and certainly not work with MS or aircraft. I may try from now and over the weekend.
The beacon is only active from 0600-2400, but I am not sure if this is local time or GMT. With tropo, I would have suspected my best chance would be early in the morning?
If this fails (I have low expectations) I may try MSK144 in an MS shower.
As the 10m antenna should be available, I hope to be on 10m WSPR with my 500mW W5OLF WSPR beacon at 0900z.
UPDATE 0918z: Gear was on overnight. Just 1 spot from local G3KPX (14km) this morning.
UPDATE 1256z: Just got this email. I think I am going to get one.
"The price of 23cm band transverter V3 is 156 Euro.
The price for shipping is 8 Euro by BG Post .
Payment can be made by Paypal (our account is : firstname.lastname@example.org ) or by bank transfer.
Now lead time for 23 cm units is 2-3 weeks"
UPDATE 1422z: I shall place an order. All being well, I shall try some local 23cm SSB tests when the transverter arrives and I have a suitable antenna. Next year, I shall try some 23cm activity sessions from a local highspot. Yes, there are a few in East Anglia!!
For some reason (probably by mistake) I assumed that PI4 was one of the modes supported by WSJT-X. Imagine my surprise today when I found it not there. My version of WSJT-X is 2.5.4.
Instead I had to download some special software to decode PI4. I have not yet checked if there is a map upload a bit like PSKreporter maps.
I was hoping to decode one of the Irish beacons, EI1KNH/B on 40.013 MHz PI4.
If PI4 is not supported by WSJT-X why is it used rather than FT8 or WSPR by beacons? I don't think it is magically better than FT8.
My other questions are (1) what mode do I select and (2) what dial frequency do I set to decode EI1KNH/B in PI4? At the moment it is set to 40.013 DIG on the FT817ND, but I have no idea if this is correct.
UPDATE 2057z: It looks like EI1KNH/B now uses FT8 instead of PI4, so I am now monitoring FT8 instead. It sends FT8 every 10 minutes. See https://www.qrz.com/db/EI1KNH/. I shall monitor overnight.
It is rare for me to go lower than 28 MHz on HF. Certainly conditions on 10m seem good with loads of spots of my QRP 10m FT8 from the USA. I had to QSY, but when I left the band it was still good.
I was hoping this was my first chance of F2 to/from the USA on 8m, but not this time. Whenever 10m F2 looks promising E-W, I shall try 8m FT8. Hopefully there will be other chances.
Having worked the USA with QRP SSB handheld from the bedroom, I am in with a chance on 8m FT8.
At one time there was very good 23cm transverter available from the Ukraine, but I doubt that is currently available.
I was considering 23cm portable operation next year using the FT817ND as the driver/IF. What 23cm transverters are currently available and at what price please? What would you recommend? I assume 2W is the typical power for a /P station.
Sadly, my fine motor skills these days rule out kits, so I would be looking at a ready made unit.
I gather the GB3MCB beacon cluster has got approval to add 8m and 5m beacons. I don't think these are active yet, but the 8m beacon will be interesting to monitor on PI4. I expect it will beam towards the USA.
For me in East Anglia the most likely propagation will be random MS or aircraft. I think tropo is unlikely.
Yesterday was wide open to the USA on 10m FT8, so I was hopeful of copying, or better still being copied, on 8m in the USA. No such luck! The only 8m station spotted was G9PUV on the south coast of England.
UPDATE 1134z: 8m QRP FT8 gear turned on at 1127z.
UPDATE 1234z: No spots.
UPDATE 1517z: EI9KP (649km) has again spotted me and I have spotted him this afternoon on 8m FT8. I am still wondering what the propagation mechanism is - MS, aircraft? Es would seem unlikely at this distance and time of year. It seems too far for tropo. EI9KP spots me far more often than others. Interesting that EI9KP is about 7dB stronger at G9PUV/A than with me. Is this because Paul has a beam? Now 8m FT8 RX only.
So far, all the feedback has been positive.
Already, I have thought of things left out, so these will be included in an issue 2 later.
Feel free to download the free book if you want. You can keep it as a soft copy or print out relevant pages.
UPDATE 1306z: Someone in the USA has very kindly made a donation. Thank you! As I have said before, I have absolutely no wish to make any money at all from this book. It is a labour of love. I shall give this to the local foodbank, but I really appreciate the kindness.
Yesterday, we did a lovely walk around our village. We call this route our "Muntjac walk" as we often see some of these deer on pa...