30 Nov 2022

Are we a nanny state? -- NOT amateur radio

Recently a Buckingham Palace official repeatedly asked someone who had black skin where she was originally from. Apparently she (stupidly) asked her many times. This was totally wrong and she should have known better.

What is at the heart of this is, "is the royal family institutionally racist?".  From this incident it is hard to know. One thing is certain. This official was very wrong and did the royal family no favours at all. 

What I question is whether or not we overreact generally.

In my view, racism has no place. Whether you are black, white, grey or green, or gay, lesbian, transgender absolutely matters not at all. What matters is are the people happy?

Years ago, a friend at work went on holiday as a man. Several weeks later she came back as a women. What was the reaction? Nothing!  People were more concerned about her happiness and was she able to do her work OK. In my view this is the only thing that matters - is the person happy?

There is a danger that we take things too seriously, but we have to treat everyone with respect. If the royal family does not get this, they are in real danger.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-63810468 .

Cambridge Market - NOT amateur radio

Right in the middle of Cambridge is a very good market. Sadly, there are now fewer stalls, but it is still a good place to find bargains, 

8m FT8 (Wednesday)

 At the moment, I am on QRP on 40.680 MHz FT8. No spots. It is now 1019z.

10m QRP WSPR TX (Wednesday)

 It is now 1015z. A few minutes ago I turned on my W5OLF 500mW beacon. No spots yet.

UPDATE 1528z:  8 unique stations have spotted me today (see table).

Sunspots - Wednesday November 30th 2022

 Solar flux is 108 and the SSN 25. A=25 and K=2.

29 Nov 2022

Singing reindeer - NOT amateur radio

This is in the Grand Arcade in Cambridge. I am sure the children will love it.

Cosmology Lectures - NOT amateur radio

Most of this autumn I have been going to U3A lectures in Cambridge on cosmology. One of the advantages in Cambridge is we are surrounded by very learned people. On this course, there are many people who worked in the university.

One member of the audience had a Cambridge University professor as a friend. When he said he was attending a course on cosmology he retorted, "ah metaphysics".  Perhaps he is right!

10m QRP WSPR TX (Tuesday)

At the moment I am again on 10m WSPR TX with 500mW since about 1210z. No spots. I suspect something is wrong with my beacon. I shall have to try 10m WSPR with a different rig to confirm this. I think there is power and time sync is good.

UPDATE 1220z: Spotted by EA8BFK (2880km), so perhaps all is well after all!

UPDATE 1227z:   2 stations have spotted me in the Canary Isles already. I wonder if I was being clobbered by CQWW CW stations over the weekend?

UPDATE 1406z: Spotted by 3 unique stations. Furthermost is TA4/G8SCU (3010km).

UPDATE 1812z: 4 unique stations have spotted me with the furthermost WD4ELG (6287km). Now QRT.

8m FT8 QRP (Tuesday)

Since about 1200z I have been on 8m FT8 QRP (TX first and RX) on 40.680 MHz. No spots.

UPDATE 1811z:   No spots all day. Now QRT.

Sunspots - Tuesday November 29th 2022

Solar flux is 107 and the SSN 52. A=24 and K=3.

28 Nov 2022

Daffodils in November 2015!


This was on this date in 2015 at nearby Anglesey Abbey. 

10m FT8 RX

 On all morning until 1130z. 

8m FT8 QRP TX and RX

Been on 8m FT8 QRP since 1130z on 40.680 MHz. 

UPDATE 1706z:  Now QRT. No spots at all!!

Plans for the day (Monday)

The current plan is to go on 10m FT8 initially and swap to 8m FT8 if conditions look promising. 

With the grandson NOT amateur radio

This was me with one of our grandchildren yesterday. I am the handsome one!! 😁😉

Sunspots - Monday November 28th 2022

Solar flux is 107 and the SSN 56. A=15 and K=5.

27 Nov 2022

Black Friday "deals" - NOT amateur radio

Perhaps I am odd, but I am very distrustful of Black Friday deals. 

This started in the USA I believe as a way of getting us to spend over a longer period. 

OK there are some good deals to be had, but this is really another way to get us to part with our money. As soon as I see the words "Black Friday" like the latest email from a major UK retailer, I delete it. 

10m QRP transceiver

It is hard to think this is 10 years old! It seems like only yesterday. Maybe you can get some ideas from it. It was called the "Lesser Chirpy" as the original version chirped badly.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/homebrew/10m-lesser-chirpy .

Birthday lunch - NOT amateur radio

As my wife had her birthday last week, we ate lunch out with our son, who lives locally, at the Cote Brasserie in Cambridge. The photo shows my wife's desert. The candle was a total surprise to us all and a nice touch.

8m FT8 QRP (Sunday)

 Although I have been in for about 40 minutes at 1420z, no spots.

UPDATE 1806z:  No spots. QRT.

Internet Archive

If you have not come across this before it is worth a look. The idea is to archive webpages, magazines and books, often well after the actual pages have long gone from the internet. Using this some time ago, I was able to see one of my long gone websites from the 1990s!

Today I uploaded my Issue 2 G3XBM Project Scrapbook. Really I want to add this to the Digital Library of Amateur Radio & Communications. Once I find out how, I shall do this, so it is there long after I am pushing up daisies! 

For now, search texts for G3XBM should bring it up.

See https://archive.org/ .

UPDATE 2019z:  Both Issues 1 and 2 of my G3XBM Project Scrapbook are now on the Digital Library of Amateur Radio ad Communications. Searching for G3XBM should find it. My earliest website on the Wayback Machine seems to be in 1996 http: /www.lapr.demon.co.uk. If you search for this URL on the Wayback Macine you should find some captures. This was a very long time ago!!

Thoughts on infinity - NOT amateur radio

We live in a universe that is huge. Some think there may be a number of universes.

Just for a moment ponder these thoughts:

  • What if there is an infinite number of universes? 
  • What if everything actually happened?  What I mean is that you decided to go on a certain path in life, but there were other choices you could have taken,
  • What if in reality all choices made really were made? What I mean is did all paths really get followed, but we are only aware of one?
  • What if time is totally an illusion? Maybe we think of us on a path from past into the future, but perhaps every experience is really "now".

We do not have the answers, but we know that we can know so very little. I have the feeling reality is quite different from what we think today.

We find infinities hard to accept.

10m QRP FT8 (Sunday)

Stations spotted to 1008z
At the moment, I am on 10m FT8 with 5W. It is now 0950z and I have been on for about 5 minutes. So far,  16 stations have spotted me and I have spotted 29 stations.

UPDATE 1012z: So far today, 89 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX.

Sunspots - Sunday November 27th 2022

Solar flux is 107 and the SSN 60. A=16 and K=3.

26 Nov 2022

May I operate 8m beacons legally in the UK without a licence?

Since receiving an email from OFCOM in the UK, I have reread the essential requirements shown in https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2017/1206/pdfs/uksi_20171206_en.pdf written in 2017. 

"Nothing in these Regulations prevents the putting into service and use of radio equipment in the United Kingdom which is in conformity with these Regulations when the radio equipment is properly installed, maintained and used for its intended purpose."

Although if anyone intends to put a product on the market later, there are some onerous requirements including on record keeping, I can see nothing that prevents beacon operation at 10mW ERP without a licence in the UK as long as the essential requirements in the above document and interface requirement IR 2030 are met.   Now, I am no legal expert, but if it is there at all, I can personally see nothing at all that prevents us in the UK using the 8m ISM band without a licence at 10mW ERP for beacons.   Clearly with QRPP beacons we have no intention of putting a product on the market later.

My own personal view is I very much doubt OFCOM really cares!!

As always, I stand to be corrected.

CQWW CW contest

This weekend is the CW leg of the CQWW contest. This is all weekend and we can expect the HF bands to be very busy.

10m 500mW WSPR TX (Saturday)

Something is wrong. I got no spots yesterday and none today so far on 10m WSPR TX. I checked timing sync and there is power out. Something is amiss.

8m QRP FT8 (Saturday)

 At the moment I am on 40.680 MHz QRP FT8 with 2.5W.  No spots on TX or RX.

472 kHz RX last evening

Once again I was on 472 kHz WSPR RX last evening using the coax to my 2m big-wheel via a ferrite rod ATU as the antenna. 5 unique stations spotted including Norway and Germany. 

Sunny day - NOT amateur radio

This photo  of the windmill next door was taken in 2016 on a November day much like yesterday when the sun was shining. 

Sunspots - Saturday November 26th 2022

Solar flux is 109 and the SSN 55. A=20 and K=3.

25 Nov 2022

UK fuel prices - NOT amateur radio

In the last month the exchange rate of the UK pound against the USA dollar has improved by about 10%. The wholesale price of a barrel of oil has fallen by about 10%. 

This should mean the proportion of the price of fuel due to barrel prices (excluding tax, delivery etc.) should have improved by about 20% resulting in a drop in fuel prices at garages.

What has happened in the real world? Prices have hardly changed.

10m QRP WSPR TX (Friday)

When I go on 8m FT8, I forget that I can still go on 10m WSPR TX with my 500mW  W5OLF WSPR beacon. It has just been turned on.

UPDATE 1610z:  So far today,  no spots of me.

UPDATE 1700z:  No spots, so synchronised timing again. WSPRnet issue? Others don't seem to be having a problem. I was expecting some spots by now.

WSJT-X latest version

Apparently there is a new version of WSJT-X available as a pre-release candidate. At the moment on WSPR and FT8 I use V2.5.4, which is the latest fully released version.  The latest candidate release is V2.6-rc4. I must download it and try it.

FT8 is now very popular. It is possible the decode sensitivity is slightly better with this newer version.

8m FT8 with 2.5W QRP

Earlier this week I carried out some local tests with 10mW ERP from my low wire dipole. By comparison, 2.5W seems really high power! Shortly, I hope to be on 40.680 MHz QRP FT8. The 20dB pad has been removed and the FT817ND back on 3 bars on TX.

UPDATE 1435z:  8m FT8 QRP TX now switched on.

UPDATE 1700z:  I gather Bas has asked the authorities in the Netherlands if he can  TX in the 8mISM band legally at 10mW ERP without a licence. If we did this in many administrations we could see a number of new experimenters on 8m in the next Es season. Certainly, WSPR would be more effective than FT8.

Another view of St John's College, Cambridge - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday, I put a photo of St John's College on the blog. This is a slightly different view.

See https://www.joh.cam.ac.uk/

10m QRP FT8 (Friday)

All morning I have been on 10m QRP FT8 with 2.5W. 30 unique stations have spotted me. On RX 331 stations have been spotted from all over.

Sunspots - Friday November 25th 2022

 Solar flux is 110 and the SSN 61.  A=6 and K=3.

24 Nov 2022

Rally on Sunday

The following rally this weekend has been notified to me. It is advisable to check before travelling any distance.

Sunday November 27th - Bishop Auckand RAC Rally,  Spennymoor, DL16 6DB. Contact g4ttf@yahoo.co.uk

Outside St John's College, Cambrdge - NOT amateur radio

This is a view towards St John's College, Cambridge earlier. This is a typical Cambridge scene.  Many foreign tourists travel across the planet to see this. We can see this every week for free.

Trinity Street, Cambridge - NOT amateur radio


This was this morning just opposite Trinity College. 

The famous Heffers bookshop is on the left. Years ago they sold masses of academic books.

10m WSPR full power QRP (Thursday)

Funny how 500mW seems high power after recent 50mW and 10mW tests!! On 10m WSPR TX with 500mW again today. No spots yet. 

UPDATE 1818z:  13 stations have spotted me today.

Sunspots - Thursday November 24th 2022

Solar flux is 113 and the SSN 68. A=3 and K=2.

23 Nov 2022

UK general strike? - NOT amateur radio

There is little doubt that the UK is in a mess. Inflation is much higher than target, jobs remain unfilled and energy costs are high. The gap between rich and poor is now greater.

In my view, we are heading for a general strike. This would be the first since 1926. I have no idea what the outcome would be.

There is little doubt that most will be poorer. Compared with some countries, we are a wealthy nation even now.

The answers remain unknown. Clearly, we do not want to stoke inflation, yet people need to be able to buy food and heat their homes. The gap between rich and poor needs to be narrowed.

My own view? 

  1. Individuals who have plenty of money should pay via taxes.
  2. We need to pay workers who really contribute more money and "hangers on" less.
  3. We should allow more EU citizens in if there is no way of filling vacancies in the short term.
  4. Rejoin the EU customs union.
  5. A national government for a period.
I have always been centralist in my views. It looks like my views are socialist. I hope they are not, just realistic in a fair society.

50mW 10m WSPR tests

At the moment, I am on 10m WSPR TX with 50mW. Indications from the Canary Isles are that I could be at least 10dB weaker (5mW) and still be copied.

Sadly WSPRnet still shows my power at 500mW as I have no way of changing this with my W5OLF beacon. I am actually using this with a 10dB pad right on the output.

UPDATE 1727z:  50mW? No problem! 3 unique stations have spotted me including VE3EBR (5368km).

8m local WSPR tests at ISM powers in the UK - results!

My local tests to see if 10mW ERP 8m beacons could be useful have concluded. The results are on my 8m web page. 

The conclusion is that 10mW ERP really is useful. 

My own reading indicates that anyone in the UK may without a licence operate 40.66-40.70 at 10mW ERP as long as they meet the technical requirements and IR 2030.

Now, I am no legal expert, so you have to make sure of your legality.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/vhfuhfmicrowaves/8m-band.

The universe and time - NOT amateur radio

On Mondays, I have been attending lectures in Cambridge on cosmology. This is part of my University of the Third Age course. It is very hard, quite the hardest course I have ever attended

Now, one thing is clear. We really know so very little. Yes, the theories hang together pretty well,  but there is so much we do not understand. Take, for example, dark matter. Apparently this has to exist for the universe we know to exist. Sadly, we haven't a clue what dark matter is!

Also, time. We experience this as linear flowing from the past into the future. Some think time itself is an illusion created by man. Some think there are an infinite number of universes.

All we can be sure about is that whatever we believe today will be wrong or, at best, incomplete.

Despite all that I have learnt, I am left with a feeling that some time in the next 100 years a new theory will emerge that we will find hard to fathom at first, yet will soon help to comprehend some of what we do not understand.

It is hard to think about what we don't know about. Early in the last century, the Internet was impossible to conceive. What will the next 100 years bring?

Sunspots - Wednesday November 23rd 2022

Solar flux is 116 and the SSN 61.  A=3 and K=0.

22 Nov 2022

Somewhere in Kent, UK - NOT amateur radio

This amused me! 

Cambridge Raspberry Pi shop - NOT amateur radio

It is only in places like Cambridge that you will find shops like this. I guess we must have our fair share of geeks here!

10m 500mW WSPR TX (Tuesday)

Again, I am on 10m WSPR TX with 500mW QRP from the W5OLF beacon. So far, just the usual spots from the Canary Is.

UPDATE 1223z: Still just spots of my QRP from the Canary Isles. 66 spots of me so far today.

8m ISM experiments continued

Today I intend to reduce my 8m WSPR power to 10mW ERP and use the call 8M3ISM to see who, if anyone, can still spot me locally. Yesterday, with 5 local monitors, I was widely spotted with 1W WSPR. Judging by the reports yesterday, things will be far harder today. 

Although Keith yesterday told me of an easy way to reduce power of the FT817ND by 20dB using the power slider in WSJT-X, I cannot see a way to do this with VOX control and a SignaLink USB, so I will add a 20dB attenuator temporarily. 

I need to work out the correct values for a 20dB pad, which will go right next to the rig so there is no radiation risk from the coax cable. As I intend to keep the 1W power setting from yesterday, I need to ensure the attenuator is suitably rated for power handling. Looking at the calculator, I can use 100 ohm resistors in series and parallel to get the values and power handling. The calculator is on the site shown.

See https://leleivre.com/rf_pipad.html .

UPDATE 1215z: 10mW WSPR running with the callsign 8M3ISM.

UPDATE 1656z:  G4AWP , M0RSU and G4BAO have already spotted my 10mW ERP 8m WSPR signal. G4AWP and M0RSU are about 17km away. None of these stations are using 8m antennas!

Sunspots - Tuesday November 22nd 2022

Solar flux is 117 and the SSN 83. A=10 and K=1.

21 Nov 2022

8m ISM experiment

At the moment I am doing some local tests to see if people can copy 10mW ERP on 8m locally. This is the UK ISM limit. As calibration, I am sending 1W WSPR on 8m before trying 10mW ERP. Initial tests suggests this is too low to be copied, but might just be possible with 2el 8m antennas. 

UPDATE 1928z: This is an update on the 8m ISM tests locally so far.  At the moment, I expect to switch to 10mW ERP WSPR later this week with the call 8M3ISM.  A 20dB pad will be added right next to the FT817ND.

  • Judging by the 1W WSPR reports so far, I feel it is unlikely people at any distance will copy my 10mW ERP signal.
  • One of the issues is a high local noise floor.
  • With 8m horizontal antennas, I suspect many would copy my 10mW ERP WSPR.
When the change is made to the 10mW ERP WSPR I shall announce this here with my conclusions by the weekend.

Sunspots - Monday November 21st 2022

Solar flux is 119 and the SSN 72. A=6 and K=2

20 Nov 2022


In preparation for my local 8m QRPP WSPR tests later this week, I have now QSYed to 8m WSPR. I am on 40.680 MHz with my WSPR tones at 1500 Hz HF in the middle of the WSPR slot. 

This means the actual WSPR transmission is on 40.6815 kHz.

Jason, M0NYW is doing local tests with 8m WSPR at 10mW ERP on 8m under ISM regulations. He is producing a coverage map around the local area. He is doing a blog.

See https://m0nyw.blogspot.com .

Cactus - NOT amateur radio

My wife has her birthday later this week. This cactus is always in flower for her birthday. It is in our hall. 

I think it is called a Christmas cactus, although ours is always in flower in November.

Curious cat - NOT amateur radio

My French daughter-in-law has a cat that loves exploring bags. Yesterday, we went to London to see her and our granddaughter..... and the cat.

10m QRP (500mW) WSPR TX (Sunday)

With 17 stations already spotting my QRP by 1200z, this is a good day on 10m WSPR. Let's hope I get spotted in the USA later.

8m FT8 at 2.5W TX (Sunday)

Since learning yesterday that I was running 2.5W and not 5W with 3 bars on my FT8, I can report good results this morning on 40.680 MHz FT8. 

Results suggest there is some Es. See map.

RF attenuators

Luckily, there are several online calculators to work out what values of resistor are needed for a given degree of RF attenuation. In the past, I have added attenuators right on the output of my FT817 to get really low power with WSPR on HF bands. 

Starting tomorrow, I hope to do some very low ERP tests on 8m locally. Initially, I shall be sending 8m WSPR with my normal power, to make sure locals are looking in the correct place. Later, I am proposing to send 10mW ERP 8m WSPR with a different callsign to see who can still copy me.  This should give some idea of what would be possible on the 8m ISM band with very low powered beacons.  

Recent OFCOM statements have indicated to me that such operation would be legal without a licence as long as the technical requirements and IR 2030 are met i.e. 10mW ERP at 8m. 

If successful, I think many more UK people could legally experiment at 8m on the ISM band albeit with very low power. I know that Jason M0NYW is proposing such tests in his local area. In my view, this is exactly what research is all about. This is not amateur radio, but it is very much radio by amateurs.

Now, I am no legal expert, so you have to decide what the rules indicate.

See https://leleivre.com/rf_pipad.html .

Sunspots - Sunday November 20th 2022

Solar flux is 115 and the SSN 59. A=5 and K=0.

19 Nov 2022

630m WSPR RX

 This evening I am on 630m (472kHz) WSPR RX. So far, at 2125z, 2 unique stations spotted.


 At the moment I am on 8m 1W WSPR TX. This is in preparation for my 10mW ERP tests next week. No local spots. 

That FT817ND power

Since several people confirmed that 3 bars o the FT817ND means 2.5W and not 5W even with a 13.8V PSU, it means all my 10m and 8m FT8 QRP spots were with 2.5W and NOT 5W. This is even more pleasing. 

From our garden - NOT amateur radio

The fully restored windmill next door is about 200 years old. This is the view from our garden. 

Sunspots - Saturday November 19th 2022

Solar flux is 116 and the SSN 55. A=7 and K=1

18 Nov 2022

FT817ND power levels?

You would think after owning FT817s for about 20 years I would know the answer! The Operating Manual is ambiguous, so I would appreciate a definitive answer from someone who definitely knows!

With an external 13.8V PSU and with three bars showing, what is the power on SSB? 

The implication is this is 2.5W (not 5W), but I am not 100% sure. Please clarify! To get 5W I think you have to have no bars, but I may be wrong.

If it is 2.5W (not 5W), I may have been using 2.5W pep when I thought I was using 5W!

Trinity College, Cambridge - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows the entrance to Trinity College on a sunny day. Most years this street is filled with visitors who come from all parts of the world. 

It is not uncommon to hear more people speaking foreign languages than English on some streets in Cambridge.

8m QRP FT8 (Friday)

 Since about 0945z, I have been on QRP 8m FT8 on 40.680 MHz.  No spots.

An article about 8m has been submitted to Practical Wireless. I hope it will be published early next year. I doubt RSGB RadCom would publish it, which is why I gave them a miss this time. I have written a letter to the editor of RadCom about an amateur band at 8m and it has not appeared. 

UPDATE 1350z:  Having got no FT8 spots, I have moved over to WSPR at 1W. It is on 40.680 MHz USB dial with the tones on 1.5 kHz higher in the WSPR window. I am transmitting 40% of the time.

UPDATE 2035z:  In preparation for my local QRPP 8m WSPR test next week, I have started WSPR transmissions on 40.680 MHz USB dial. My WSPR appears 1.5 kHz HF in the middle of the 200 Hz WSPR slot. My aim is to first ensure everyone is looking in the right place. So far I have had reports from G8CRB (12km). With the reports Steve has given me at 1W, it is unlikely he would copy me at 10mW ERP. Steve is using a fan dipole for 80-12m.

10m QRP WSPR TX (Friday)

At the moment, I am on 10m WSPR with my 500mW W5OLF WSPR beacon. So far, just a spot by LA3RK (1064km).

Sunspots - Friday November 18th 2022

 Solar flux is 119 and the SSN 64.  A=2 and K=0.

17 Nov 2022

630m (472 kHz) WSPR RX

Last evening the furthermost was SM6BGP  (994km). On my screen it said 1003km, but I am not arguing. I am on 630m RX again this evening.  Still using the coax to my 2m big-wheel and a mains plug earth. Tuning is again via the ferrite rod on the shack desk.

UPDATE  1950z:  Quite a decent start.

Autumn - NOT amateur radio

It looks more like autumn every day. The photo shows the fallen leaves at nearby Anglesey Abbey yesterday. 

No wonder "autumn" is called "fall" in the USA!

Rallies at the weekend

The following rallies have been notified to me. As always, check before travelling far.

Saturday November 19th - Wiltshire Radio Rally, Chippenham, SN15 5NJ. rally@chippenhamradio.club .

Saturday November 19th - Rochdale and District Amateur Radio, OL12 7QR.  rozallin@gmail.com .

Sunday November 20th - CATS 43rd Radio and Electronics,CR5 1ES.  bazaar@catsradio.org.uk .

8m FT8

 I am on 8m QRP FT8 on 40.680 MHz. So far today, no stations spotted but I have been spotted by SR4DON (1352km).

UPDATE 1656z:  No further spots on 8m FT8 today. My 8m WSPR local tests start on Monday Nov 21st.

UPDATE 1720z:   I have just written an article about 8m for Practical Wireless. If they publish it, it should appear early next year. My aim is to try to get a tiny 8m amateur band by NoV and dispel the utterly stupid myth that such a band would be "more of the same".

10m QRP (500mW) WSPR TX

Currently I am on 10m QRP WSPR TX with my 500mW W5OLF beacon. 

UPDATE 1701z:   19 spots of my 10m 500mW WSPR today.

Pye Telecom PF9 - NOT amateur radio

In my working life, I worked on the famous PF8 and PF85 products. Many of these famous products were converted for use on the 70cm amateur band. I also worked on the 2 unit PF9 which replaced the PF1. Unlike the PF8, I have not seen these on the second hand market or converted for use on 70cm. 

Sunspots Thursday November 17th 2022

Solar flux is 133 and the SSN 85. A=2 and K=1.

16 Nov 2022

Autumn colours - NOT amateur radio

All the seasons have a beauty all of their own with the brown leaves of autumn especially lovely as at Anglesey Abbey earlier today. 

8m ISM band for all?

At the moment, I am trying to drum up local support (near JO02DG) for some very low power WSPR tests in the 8m ISM band.  

Following a recent email from OFCOM, it is my view that anybody in the UK may use the 8m ISM band without a licence for beacons as long as they meet IR 2030. This allows 10mW ERP.   At first sight, this seems very low, but with WSPR this could well be spotted across Europe from the UK.

These local tests could indicate what might be possible.

Of course, I would much prefer a tiny, digital only, amateur allocation at 8m.

UPDATE 1228z:  Interestingly, the majority of my 10m WSPR spots today would have been possible at 10mW ERP assuming the local noise floor permitted.

UPDATE 1630z:  Several locals have offered help with my upcoming 8m WSPR tests. The tests should take place very soon, probably next week. 

UPDATE 1636z:  Of course access to the ISM bands does not have to be just 8m: here in the UK as long as long as IR 2030 is met many ISM bands could be used for beacons legally without a licence is my interpretation. ISM rules vary with countries and I am not a legal expert, so you will have to check yourself.

10m QRP WSPR TX (Wednesday)

At the moment I am on 10m WSPR TX with 500mW from my W5OLF beacon. So far, spots from the Canary Is, although I have not been on very long.

UPDATE  1543z: 10 unique stations have spotted my QRP 10m WSPR.

Oscar 100

This Qatar satellite has been in geosynchronous orbit for several years now. It has never really caught on. When I monitored last night (European evening) at 1955z there were just a few stations active on the narrowband transponder. It feels people (a very few) enjoy the challenge of getting active on the satellite, then lose interest.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/ .


Last evening, I went on DMR briefly. As I have no DMR gear, I used my Android network radio with an app called Droidstar. With this, access to the worldwide DMR network is possible.

My only reason for going on was to briefly go on the local CDARC net to give my apologies for tonight's FM net.

DMR is OK to have on in the background, but does not exactly "turn me on". It is OK for skeds, nets, and worldwide chats with a handheld, but is not really my "thing".

My network radio is an Inrico T320. It is ideal as a DMR handheld.

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

Sunspots - Wednesday November 16th 2022

Solar flux is 134 and the SSN 69.  A=2 and K=0. 

15 Nov 2022

630m (472 kHz) WSPR RX

 For the first time this season I am on 630m (472 kHz) WSPR RX. 

As my son managed to cut my earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground whilst gardening and being "helpful", I am having to use the coax up to my 2m big-wheel with a ferrite rod ATU, much as in this photo of 10 years ago shows.

The noise level is S8 on the FT817ND's meter.

UPDATE 2118z:  unique stations spotted with the furthermost GM4SJB (692km). 

SAQ transmission Wednesday

M0NYW VLF converter
I am told by Jason M0NYW that there is a special transmission of the historic VLF alternator transmitter SAQ on 17.2 kHz CW. This is a good chance to test your VLF system. This TX is about 100 years old! Jason has made an excellent job of his VLF converter (see photo).

See https://alexander.n.se/en/saq-scheduled-to-air-on-november-16th-2022/ .

Local shop in the village - NOT amateur radio


This was our local shop a few days ago with my wife in the yellow jacket.

Late afternoon sky - NOT amateur radio


This was the sky on Sunday afternoon in our village. Today has been mostly showery - very November.

WSPR.rocks website

Up until now I have always used WSPR.net to see where my 10m WSPR beacon is reaching. Today I looked at the wspr.rocks website for the first time. It looks pretty good.

See http://wspr.rocks/

8m QRP FT8 (Tuesday)

Been on 40.680 MHz QRP FT8  for about 2 hours TXing in the first period, but no spots.

UPDATE 1430z:  Although nobody has spotted me today on 8m FT8, I see ZS6OB (9099km) has again been spotted by me on 8m FT8 RX. As this is just with a low wire dipole, this is pleasing.

UPDATE 1743z:  Yet again, my 8m FT8 QRP has been spotted by EI9KP (649km).  The propagation mechanism remains a total mystery as I only have 5W and a low wire dipole. It is too far for tropo and too near for Es. Aircraft reflection is a possibility. My report was not bad.

10m WSPR QRP (500mW) TX (Tuesday)

On 10m QRP WSPR TX with the W5OLF beacon. 3 unique stations spotting me so far today. 

UPDATE 1420z:
  Spotted by 9 unique stations (see map).

Sunspots - Tuesday November 15th 2022

Solar flux is 142 and the SSN 77. A=4 and K=1.

14 Nov 2022

Remembrance Sunday - NOT amateur radio

Usually we do not go to our local remembrance church service. I have inherent dislike of glorifying the military. 

This service was very different. People were asked to stand when a villager who lost his/her life in war was named. In the end, a huge number of people were standing. 

This re-enforces that most wars are pointless. I hope the world wakes up that wars rarely solve issues. There are exceptions when we are fighting evil. Even in these cases, we need to understand the reasons these tyrants  (e.g. Hitler and Putin) had or have these views. Usually jaw jaw is far better than war, war.

2m 5W QRP FT8

It has been foggy all day, so on my return from Cambridge, I have gone on 2m QRP (5W) FT8. So far (at 1835z) stations have been spotted in 3 countries. I have been spotted by 13 stations across England so far.

UPDATE 2140z:   16 spots of me in 4 countries, with the furthermost F6EGD (472km),

8m ISM experiment

Despite asking for some local support for my 8m ISM WSPR experiments at 10mW ERP, I have so far heard ......nothing. 

All I was asking for was to monitor 8m WSPR at my usual power and then later at 10mW ERP, which is the limit set by OFCOM to operate on 40.66-40.70 in the UK without a licence as long as IR2030 is met.

Without help locally, I cannot proceed.

One possibility is to arrange skeds at full power and then at 10mW ERP.

It is my view that 10mW ERP WSPR will be copied locally. Even this low power could well be copied around Europe on WSPR when Es is good.

It is my view that we have to prove OFCOM and the RSGB wrong. A small amateur band at 8m would be good for self-training and research.

The hobby should be about self training. I am so far disappointed that nobody has yet come forward to help. Most do not have 8m antennas, so I am expecting a variety of antennas to be used. At most, this would be a few hours monitoring WSPR. 

If successful many more people could use 8m.

UPDATE 1832z:   Offers of local 8m RX help so far?  Nobody. I am very disappointed.

Sunspots - Monday November 14th 2022

Solar flux is 137 and the SSN 74.  A=7 and K=2. 

13 Nov 2022

XBM80-2 QRP transceiver

Today, I had an email from somebody in the Netherlands about this transceiver.  He was getting no audio. Recently someone told me that crystal earpieces do not like DC. If this is correct, I suggest a capacitor is added between the collector of the audio transistor and the crystal earpiece. A 0.1uF or greater should be suitable. I also suggested that the audio transistor must not be in saturation. If need be, the bias can be altered to put the collector of the audio stage to mid-rail.

As I always say, do not be afraid to experiment.  If the circuit works better with different values then change them! With something this simple you could always start again, HI.

Nowt as queer as folk - NOT amateur radio

There is an old Yorkshire phrase "nowt as queer as folk".  It means people are odd. 

A few days ago, I put a photo of a rack of shoes on display at one of the big shops in Cambridge on 365 project as a gap filler. Much to my surprise, it was on the popular page! 

As they say in Yorkshire, "there's nowt as queer as folk".

Optical experiments

One of my Facebook memories today was an ARRL publication of 2019 called "The Proceedings of Microwave Update 2019" in which I appeared on page 25 with an optical receiver that someone else had used. 

My optical tests were great fun. They all happened before my 2013 stroke. I can recommend optical experiments to anyone, as all the gear for use and testing was homemade easily in the back of the garage (literally).

If that darn stroke had no got in the way, I should probably still be doing optical tests today!

Grandson growing up - NOT amateur radio

It seems just a blink of an eye since our elder grandson was born. The same again and he will probably be married with children, we hope! 

We will probably be pushing up daisies!

8m FT8 QRP TX and RX (Sunday)

At the moment, I am on 40.680 MHz FT8. My TX period is first.  No spots at 1212z.

UPDATE 1322z:   No spots today.

10m QRP (500mW) WSPR TX (Sunday)

Yet again, I am on 10m QRP WSPR TX with the W5OLF beacon.  At 1208z, 3 unique stations had spotted me.

UPDATE 1324z:  8 spots of my QRP today so far.

UPDATE 1412z: 12 spots of my 500mW WSPR so far today. Several from North America.

UPDATE 1842z:   20 spots of me today.  Now QRT.

8m ISM experiments

It looks like all UK amateurs (anyone actually!) may legally operate beacons on some of the ISM bands without a licence as long as they comply with IR2030.  Callsigns are not needed, but you could use your amateur callsign. 

ISM is not for radio communication, but my reading of the rules suggests beaconing is fine.

In the case of 8m this means 10mW ERP.  My current plan is to test locally initially at the power of my T&I permit (5W) and then repeat the test at 10mW ERP.  I shall probably try WSPR and maybe (if the test is successful) later with FT8. 

If successful, it means many more in the UK could run beacons on 8m, or indeed any permitted ISM band, albiet at low ERP.  10mW ERP at 8m is probably enough to cover the local area. On better Es openings DX copy is possible.

Of course a small amateur allocation at 8m would be better. I cannot understand why in the UK and other administrations they don't permit amateurs access to 8m with just a band of even 5 kHz wide, narrow digital only, secondary, low power, by NoV or similar, strictly no interference. To my mind this is stupid and backward. Such a band would actively encourage research and self training. As it is, in the UK we have to pay annually to do this!!

UPDATE 1824z:  I have emailed members of my local radio club membership list hoping to do some local tests with WSPR. When using 10mW ERP I propose to use the call ISM1, so people know when I am on 10mW ERP WSPR.  FT8 might work, but WSPR works with much weaker signals. Measuring 10mW ERP could be a challenge.

See https://www.rfcafe.com/references/electrical/pwr2volts.htm .See https://www.qsl.net/co8tw/Coax_Calculator.htm .

Sunspots - Sunday November 13th 2022

Solar flux is 138 and the SSN 65.  A=5 and K=1.

12 Nov 2022

8m FT8 (Saturday)

Yet again, I am trying to be spotted in the USA on 8m QRP FT8.  I was spotted there by 2 stations a few days ago.  A transatlantic QSO would be even better.

On RX, ZS6WAB (8931km) has been spotted strongly several times.

UPDATE 1922z:  No spots all day apart from the ZS several times on 8m FT8 RX. Now QRT.

Stroke? - NOT amateur radio

My stroke was in 2013. Apart from my poor voice and always being giddy, most of my body is fine.

I am now even more aware of a couple of things that may have been a result of my stroke or just old age. 

Firstly, names of words rarely automatically look wrong when they are written down.  At one time I could just look at a word and know it was wrong. 

Secondly, I hate driving or being driven. It as if my mind is in overdrive and stressful. All the time I am thinking of potential hazards. It also seems my perception of speed is different. It feels like everything seems faster 30mph feels like 50mph and so on. Perhaps my brain needs more time to process things.

Village scene (Saturday) - NOT amateur radio

The photo shows our village earlier today.

10m 500mW WSPR TX (Saturday)

Later, I hope to go on 8m FT8 QRP. At the moment I am on 10m QRP WSPR TX. So far at 1007z, 7 unique stations spotting me. This is encouraging.

UPDATE 1930z:   28 stations have spotted my 500mW WSPR TX  today.

Sunspots - Saturday November 12th 2022

 Solar flux is 138 and the SSN 57.  A=9 and K=2.

11 Nov 2022

Use of ISM bands in the UK

Just had this response from OFCOM about the use of ISM bands without a licence in the UK:

“The use of licence-exempt apparatus is authorised under exemption regulations, with set emission powers and other criteria.  This is in order for it to be available to all users with minimal risk of disruption or interference.

The limits, including maximum power levels and whether airborne use is permitted, are set out in the UK Interface requirement. If apparatus being used for testing meets the relevant technical criteria and complies with IR 2030, then a licence will not be necessary. Please note that some frequency bands which may be licence-exempt in other countries, such as the USA, may not be so in the UK and only the frequency bands listed are eligible for the exemption of qualifying apparatus.

In some circumstances we may be able to authorise the test or development of non-compliant radio apparatus under an Innovation and Trial (I&T) licence.  However, this generally will be under conditions that are sufficiently remote, shielded or otherwise unlikely to affect other users.  I&T is not intended for the operational use of radio apparatus, such as for the monitoring / control / telemetry of other apparatus, where a licensed or exempt authorisation is already generally available.  Even if it were the radio apparatus itself that is under test or development (in excess of normally permitted limits) we should emphasise that, as described above, it will not be possible to grant an operational permission for its future deployment and use.”

My reading of this is that as long as we meet the interface requirements set out in IR 2030, we are perfectly at liberty to use ISM bands for beacons without a licence.

At 8m, this means a limit of 10mW ERP.  10mW ERP does not sound much but on WSPR or FT8 range might be surprising.

This means anyone in the UK can use 8m (or any other ISM band) for beaconing as long as they fully comply with IR 2030.

I am not a legal expert and I have just shared what OFCOM has written in answer to my question earlier in the week.  In this instance, OFCOM has been very helpful indeed. I should like to thank OFCOM for the prompt reply.

SPAM blog comments - NOT amateur radio

Twice this week I have received blog comments that I have reported as SPAM. 

On first reading , they look like genuine comments, often with flattering comments saying how useful the blog is. Then there is a link which takes you directly to, what is, blatant advertising. 

Every comment is approved. Almost all get posted. Just a very few do not get that far. It is some time since I have had to reject one.

For the avoidance of any doubt, adverts or grossly off topic comments will never appear. 

If making a comment I would be most grateful if you post your callsign (if you have one). Anonymous posts are not usually allowed, especially if the poster is not known. 

I would very much like this blog to be a friendly and inclusive place. I do not mind views that grossly differ from my own. We are a free country and we each have views.

Autumn 10 years ago - NOT amateur radio

This was the view from our bedroom 10 years ago. If anything, I suspect autumn was a few weeks early this year.

Prices for amateur radio gear

Just had the latest email from a major UK dealer and I see that prices for second hand gear seem expensive.  I am not sure if these have recently gone up, or if they have always been high. I was aware of certain prices rises on new gear.

Times are hard for us all, and there is less money around for discretionary spending. People are using most of what they have for food, fuel and heating. In times like these being a dealer cannot be great, so I have some sympathy. On the other hand, you want people still to be buying. It is getting the balance right. Profits are necessary, but you cannot afford to ask too much.

OFCOM data on us

As usual, OFCOM has updated the information it holds on us. See their website for details. 

DX soundbites

10m QRP SSB DXCC was achieved over 30 years ago, so I no longer actively chase DX. If I chance on DX that is fine, but I cannot see the point of just going after it purely for another tick. 8m is different as this is real radio science. 

These days I am far more interested in radio propagation. My favourite HF band remains 10m.  Antennas are small and when it is wide open the world can be worked with low power on SSB..

Mostly I am on WSPR or FT8 because of my poor voice. I am told fewer people are on SSB these days. Chasing DX on FT8 seems to be the favourite activity. I guess there is less need for amateur radio for those just wanting to chat. Some years ago there was little choice.

If you want to know what some DX sounds like you may want to look at this site.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/dx-soundbites-2020 .

8m QRP FT8

Hoping to reach the USA again, I am on 40.680 MHz FT8 with my modified FT817ND and low wire dipole. So far today, no spots.

UPDATE 1500z: No spots.

10m 500mW WSPR TX

 As my 10m antenna is available, I am on 500mW TX with my W5OLF beacon. It is now 1141z and, so far today, 12 unique stations have spotted my QRP.

UPDATE 2200z:  29 spots of me today on 10m WSPR TX.

Sunspots - Friday November 11th 2022

 Solar flux is 139 and the SSN 79.  A=2 and K=3.

10 Nov 2022

Shack photo

 This was my shack in 2015. It is much the same now, although a few rigs have changed.

Pye Telecom PF8

Many years ago, I was involved in the design of the PF8. In the end, I do not think too many were sold. The antenna was my design as well as the TX audio.

It gained fame as it was used by Bodie and Doyle in the TV series "The Professionals". Style wise it was well ahead of its time. 

One has appeared on eBay untested . The last time I looked it was £225!! I should have kept one!

These are rare these days, but some were converted to work on 70cm. If you can find one, good luck!

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/vhfuhfmicrowaves/vhfuhf-commercial-rigs/pye-pf8 .