31 Jan 2023

My PDF book - latest edition (issue 4)

Hopefully, the latest edition of my free G3XBM Project Scrapbook is now available. It is now at issue 4. Do not worry about missing versions. Several minor changes were made so I have published issue 4.

Modifying links will take me a little while. Please not that the tiny URL always goes to the first edition.

UPDATE 1507z: I think the link on my website, blog sidebar and email footer now point to issue 4. If you still cannot access it, please check with me. It certainly worked from my wife's iPad. The file is a PDF. As I make future issues, I shall try to point to the latest version.

UPDATE 2300z: For some reason my email footer always insists in adding the darn PDF book as well. Looking at the Gmail settings I can see no reason why. For now, I have removed the link to the latest version of the book from my email footer. This requires investigation!! 

Village walk - NOT amateur radio

We had a nice walk around the village earlier. We can tell we are heavy as the walk tired us! We are both on diets.  

We call this our "Muntjac Walk" as we often see these deer on our way.

8m QRP FT8 (Tuesday)

For about 3 hours I have been on 8m QRP FT8  on 40.680 MHz. Nobody has spotted me although EI9IP (607km) has been strongly spotted. I am sure this must be aircraft reflection.

UPDATE 1655z:  G0HVQ  (181km) has spotted me.

10m QRP WSPR (Tuesday)

My 500mW W5OLF 10m WSPR beacon was turned on just after 0900z. No spots yet today.

UPDATE 0930z:  2 unique stations spotting me so far today.

UPDATE 1414z:  12 unique spots of me today. USA spotting me well now.

Sunspots - Tuesday January 31st 2023

 Solar flux is 136 and the SSN 67. A=5 and K=3.

30 Jan 2023

High office - NOT amateur radio

There has been a lot in the UK media about people in high office "falling from grace". 

Now, we all have faults and are all far from perfect. After all, we are just humans. 

However, those in high office are bound to come under close scrutiny. It is important that those in high office (e.g. in government) are of the highest standards. It is not wrong for folk to be good business people. If they get rich because of their own business acumen I have no issues as long as nobody was "trodden on" on their journey. 

What I deeply have a problem with is people who are not honourable and not honest. People who govern us must be of the highest moral standards and above reproach. If they are not, they will be judged. 

Recently we have had several in the UK government that have not been above reproach. They have only themselves to blame.

I am not after perfection, just honesty.

'Our windmill' - NOT amateur radio

This was the windmill next door at 4.50pm today. This is the view from the lounge window. 

Robin - NOT amateur radio

This afternoon we went for lovely winter walk at nearby Anglesey Abbey. As well as seeing an old work colleague who volunteers there, we saw this robin. They are such photogenic birds.

QDX diodes

As mentioned before, I have an assembled QDX transceiver on order from QRP Labs. 

Running from my standard 13.8V PSU, there is a risk of over dissipation in the PA devices, so I intend to drop the supply to the QDX with a number of silicon diodes. I can add up to 10, but will probably add 6. The diodes have arrived. This solution is noise free and the diodes are well rated.

Early start on 8m QRP FT8

 At 0902z, my QRP 8m FT8 was turned on. No spots yet today. 

It has been surprising just how many spots I have had on 8m, considering the few monitors and the time of the year.  Many of the nearer reports look like aircraft reflection, but my 2.5W and dipole have made it across the Atlantic at least twice. 

I do hope my 8m permit is granted for this year as there is so much still to research.  

If it is not granted, there will definitely be times when I shall be on the ISM bands with 10mW ERP WSPR without a licence. The latter is, I believe, a course that anyone in the UK could take. Not being a legal expert you will have to judge your own legal position, although I very much doubt OFCOM would come knocking! In nearly 50 years I have never been inspected. When the man last came, he was more interested in a cup of tea!

My personal view is that OFCOM should have allocated a tiny, digital only, amateur band at 8m by NoV on a strict no interference basis. This would have meant full traceability whether on-air or off

Both OFCOM and the RSGB seem dead against even a tiny 8m amateur band even by NoV. Personally I find this stance hard to understand. More public statements on this might help us to understand their reasoning. In the absence of data, we can only assume the military is against this. Personally, I think not making their reasons public is short-sighted and unhelpful. We should have full confidence in both the RSGB (that depends heavily on committed volunteers) and OFCOM.  There must be good reasons for their position, so please share these!!

UPDATE 1042z: Spotted by WESSEXSDR probably via aircraft reflection. This mode seems more common than I thought at 8m and could well account for the frequent spots of my 2.5W by EI9KP (649km). It could be random MS, but I somehow doubt this.

10m QRP WSPR (Monday)

At 0902z, my 500mW TX beacon was turned on. Already spots from the Canary Isles and a local.

UPDATE 1052z:   3 unique stations have spotted my QRP 10m WSPR today.

UPDATE 1540z:    14 unique stations spotting me today.

Sunspots - Monday January 30th 2023

 Solar flux is 137 and the SSN 80. A=5 and K=0. It is interesting that when the most active regions are pointing away from us, the sunspot count is still pretty good.

29 Jan 2023

6m incredible DX

First we had reports of a short path 6m opening for Europe to New Zealand. Now we have news of this DX via the long path (22100km). Totally amazing. No wonder they call it "the magic band"!

I get exited by seeing NZ on 10m, but this is 6m!!

See https://ei7gl.blogspot.com/ .

10 GHz wideband FM

One of my regrets since my 2013 stroke is not experimenting with 10 GHz WBFM. 

At one time Gunnplexers were popular, but there is a modern equivalent available at low cost (HB100). These can be bought on eBay for example. 

Although I have not looked recently, I expect someone (or many?) have made 10 GHz WBFM transceivers with them. 

Similar modules are also available for 24 GHz.

Wideband FM 10 GHz transceivers could be made with the 10 and 24 GHz modules without any microwave engineering at all. At the focus of a dish the 10 GHz ones have been used for ATV contacts over 100km.

If you know of WBFM transceivers designed around these, I'd love to take a look.

A quick look on eBay showed the 10 GHz units were available for just over £2.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/vhfuhfmicrowaves/homebrew/10ghz .

UPDATE 1535z:  The link Jan has put in the comment below (in French) looks interesting and is just the sort of thing I had in mind.

8m FT8 QRP (Sunday)

No spots yet at 0947z. 

I have heard of one 8m T&I permit being issued in the UK last week, so I remain hopeful that I shall be granted one this year. 

Personally, I think it would have been far easier for OFCOM to have just granted a tiny, digital only, amateur allocation by NoV at 8m, with strictly no interference. 

C'est la vie.

UPDATE 1200z:  No spots today.

UPDATE 1343z:  G8BCG (394km) spotted. He is located in central Cornwall and was very strong at 0dB S/N. This suggests aircraft reflection.

UPDATE 1444z:  Just had news that an Australian 8m WSPR ISM beacon at just 5mW has been decoded in the Cook Is over 5900km away. I am convinced that ISM WSPR beacons could be operated by anyone in the UK without a licence and could certainly be copied in Europe by Es. They would probably reach the USA.The rules on ISM beacons vary with the country. In the UK we can operate on the 8m ISM band with 10mW ERP as long as the technical requirements and IR 2030 are met. In other countries there are different limits.

UPDATE 1850z:  QRT.

Early start on 10m QRP WSPR TX (Sunday)

 My 500mW 10m WSPR beacon was turned on early today.  Already at 0943z I have been spotted by 3 unique stations.

UPDATE 1202z:  The stations in the table have spotted me this morning. 

UPDATE 1322z:   USA stations now spotting me.

UPDATE 1926z: 
18 stations spotted me today. Now QRT.

Ends of the spectrum

This was a Facebook memory from 2012 and shows my 481 THz optical beacon from then. I always enjoyed experimenting at the ends of the spectrum!! 

Sunspots - Sunday January 29th 2023

 Solar flux is 138 and the SSN 76. A=10 and K=0.

28 Jan 2023

10m QRP WSPR (Saturday)

 5 stations have spotted my 500mW QRP WSPR today. I was on from about 1600z. Now QRT.

8m QRP FT8 (Saturday)

 Despite being in for several hours late this afternoon, no spots on RX or QRP TX today.

Big British Garden Birdwatch 2023 - NOT amateur radio

This is organised by the RSPB every January. The idea is simple. You count the maximum number of each species seen at the same time in your garden, park etc. for any hour over the weekend and submit this. From these returns, the RSPB can learn a great deal about the birds around.

Certainly here, there are fewer smaller birds around. It is not uncommon to see 6-12 different species, but it is unusual to see that many different small birds. There are far more pigeons that in the past.

I do it every year. It is surprising what appears over the hour.

UPDATE 1625z:   Just 6 species seen!  Way down on previous years. Most of these were larger birds. Some very common birds were missing. Overall? January!! Dull and cold.

See https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch/ .

10m QRP FT8 (Saturday)

 For a change, I am on 10m QRP FT8. The band is very busy.

Stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today

UPDATE 1317z:
28 stations have spotted my QRP and 411 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX (see map).

Ely Cathedral in the mist - NOT amateur radio

You can see why they call this "the ship of the fens". This photo was on social media recently. 

Apparently there are hardly any foundations. Remember, there were no JCBs when this was made in medieval times. It is the only medieval wonder of the world in the UK I think. 

Ely cathedral is built on high ground above what was once marshy ground. Hence the name "isle of Ely".

2013 - 136 kHz QRSS


This was 10 years ago when I was doing QRSS tests on 2200m.

Sunspots - Saturday January 28th 2023

Solar flux is 145 and the SSN 84. A=9 and K=2.

27 Jan 2023

St John's College, Cambridge - NOT amateur radio

This was St John's earlier today.

The bikes and posters (on the railings to the right and just out of the photo) are very Cambridge!! 

AGMs and Zoom

Just now, I attended the Cambridge Radio Club (CDARC) AGM by Zoom. This was a hybrid meeting with some there in person and some remotely via Zoom. I no longer (if I can avoid it) drive at night.

As for previous lectures, the Zoom worked really well, including voting by putting a hand up.

This hybrid format really suits me as I can take an active part in club activities even though unable to get in. In the past we have had speakers and listeners across oceans.

OFCOM publications update

Every week OFCOM updates the data it holds on licences etc..  See the OFCOM website for details.

8m QRP FT8 (Friday)

A few moments ago I switched on the 8m FT8 QRP TX. This was about 1025z.

UPDATE 1840z:  No spots today on TX and RX.

10m WSPR QRP TX (Friday)

 My 500mW 10m WSPR TX was turned on at 0946z.

UPDATE 1006z:  3 spots from the Canary Is so far this morning.

UPDATE 1603z:  17 stations have spotted my 10m WSPR QRP today. (see table.).

Voltage dropping

In a few weeks' time (with a following wind) my QDX digital transceiver should arrive. With a 12v supply, there is a danger of the PA being badly over-rated and failing. Most of my gear runs from a 13.8V, so it would be prudent to run the QDX from a lower supply voltage.

My easiest solution is a string of suitably rated diodes in the supply. I have 10 off 3A silicon diodes that should be here next week. I could drop 6V with these if I want, making the QDX run safely from 9.8V.

Friday plans

 I think 10m QRP WSPR TX beckons. My 500mW beacon will be turned on shortly.

Fame? - NOT amateur radio

To my surprise, an email I wrote to the BBC regional programme "Look East" was read out on the programme last night. It was about our local bus service. 

In the past, a couple of my photos have been used on the local TV weather forecasts, but this was a total surprise.

23cm beacon hunting

Last night I went beacon hunting on 23cm with my tiny indoor 2 element beam. I monitored GB3DUN on Dunstable Downs for several minutes. This is probably my best chance of copying a 23cm beacon.

Just occasionally there was a very brief signal that may have been this beacon. It was there for (at most) a second, then was gone. The direct path is very obstructed and my only real hope is by aircraft scatter. The impression I got was this was not aircraft. I have no idea if you get MS on 23cm.

Other beacons I also looked out for on my waterfall, but nothing was seen.

Sunspots - Friday January 27th 2023

Solar flux is 151 and the SSN 104.   A=11 and K=1.

26 Jan 2023

Assembled QDX status?

 The status of the queue of assembled transceivers from QRP Labs has not been updated since late last week.

See http://qrp-labs.com/qcxmini/assembled.html .


 The following rally has been notified to me: -

Sunday January 29th - Lincoln Shortwave Club Winter Rally, Market Rasen, LN8 3HT. Contact m5zzz@outlook.com .

As always, it is worth checking before going a long way.

8m QRP FT8

My 8m FT8 on 40.680 MHz was turned on at 0952z.

UPDATE 1625z:  Just G0HVQ (181km) spotting my QRP and nobody spotted on 8m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1925z:  QRT. No further spots.

10m 500mW WSPR TX (Thursday)

My QRP 10m WSPR beacon was turned on at 0952z.

UPDATE 1000z:  Just local G4KPX (14km) spotting me so far.

UPDATE 1610z: 
 17 stations spotting my QRP (see table).

UPDATE 1922z:   18 stations spotted me today. QRT soon.

10m FT8


With sunspots again good, 10m is again coming into its own. It is quite easy to copy stations on every continent in daylight now on 10m. More people are using FT8 now. This is a digital modulation that is even better than CW, handling and decoding very weak signals. It has already shown that the 10m band is "open" when many leave it.

If you are after a simple 10m FT8 RX that is effective and does not tie up "the big rig" how about my 10FT8R receiver? This is very simple and low cost, but works well.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/homebrew/10ft8r-rx .

Plans (Thursday)

Later, I hope to go on 10m WSPR QRP TX with my 500mW beacon and 8m FT8 QRP. I may also see if I can detect any 23cm beacons with my 2 el beam indoors.

Kingsbridge Estuary - NOT amateur radio

This photo of where I come from in Devon was on social media a little while ago. This not actually an estuary. It is actually a ria, a drowned river valley. One of my favourite walks was between Salcombe (bottom left) and Kingsbridge (top). It took me about 90 minutes then. It would take me hours now, if at all!

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ria .

Sunspots - Thursday January 26th 2023

Solar flux is 172 and the SSN 140. A=7 and K=3. 

25 Jan 2023

Ukraine war - NOT amateur radio

The war in Ukraine is almost 1 year old. What a total waste of everything! 

I hear now that Germany and the USA are sending tanks. I am sure we in the west, as well as people in Russia, are not being told the whole truth. This often happens in wars.

Russia is paranoid about its security, but at the same time invading a neighbouring country is not the answer. More countries (Finland and Sweden) want to join NATO. If these countries were attacked or any NATO country, the reaction would be devastating.

In the end I very much hope some sort of peace can be found. It seems to me that the elements of this must include:

  • No nation to be invaded by neighbours.
  • Russia gets guarantees that nobody ever intends to invade it.
  • Sweden, Finland and Ukraine do not join NATO but have their security guaranteed by NATO.
  • Russia has access to Crimean ports for its Navy. 
  • Sanctions are lifted with guarantees of good conduct after a fixed period.
  • Both Ukraine and Russia do not apply war crimes against each other.
All conflicts are resolved in the end, usually with some degree of compromise by warring parties. This is  stupid waste of lives and property. The sooner everyone tells the whole truth the better.

8m - is 10mW ERP legal for beacons without a licence in the ISM band?

Recently, I was asked this question. If it is, many more UK stations could get on 8m. It is my firm view that 10mW ERP is enough to get into southern Europe from the UK in good Es conditions by WSPR. It might even be possible rarely with FT8. Local tests have proved to me that well over 17km is possible locally, even without 8m antennas at the RX end.

Now, I am no legal expert, so you will have to seek your own legal advice. In different countries, different regulations will apply, so it is your duty to ensure legal operation.

My interpretation is WSPR beacons without a licence are legal in the UK in the ISM bands as long as the technical requirements and IR 2030 are met. This means 10mW ERP.  Interference must not be given and must be accepted.

This is NOT the Amateur Radio Service, but is arguably very much amateur radio!

This is what OFCOM said when I asked:

"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 IR2030.  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."

8m QRP FT8

 My 8m FT8 QRP on 40.680 MHz was turned on at 1406z. So far, no spots.

10m QRP WSPR TX (Wednesday)

 My 500mW 10m WSPR beacon was turned on at 1406z. So far, no spots.

UPDATE 1833z: 12 unique stations have spotted me today.

U3A course - late on radio

As I am in Cambridge for my University of the 3rd Age lecture on the Bank of England history, I will be late on the radio today. 

2200m in 2013

One of my Facebook memories today was this photo of my 2200m tests. Apart from a very brief TX last year I have not been on that band on TX for many years.

Sunspots - Wednesday January 25th 2023

 Solar flux is 180 and the SSN 127. A=4 and K=0.

24 Jan 2023

Cold winter? - NOT amateur radio

This winter we have seen far more cold and frosty days than for many years. We had snow on the ground before Christmas and we have just had another cold spell. 

It is odd to think that not many months ago we were too hot in bed! Come May we can expect blossom, summer migrant birds and warm days again.

23cm webpage added

As I have started my adventure on 23cm, it seemed the right time to add a webpage about 23cm on my website. Many are dead serious about the band with big antennas and high power. I am only playing!

As you know, I am using the transverter from SG Labs which looks well made. Several people have these and are pleased.

Yesterday was my first ever 23cm QSO.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/vhfuhfmicrowaves/23cm .

UPDATE 1406z:  I tried to see if there was any sign of the 23cm beacon on Dunstable Downs GB3DUN on 1296.890 MHz. Nothing at all was spotted despite moving the antenna around to try to detect it, perhaps by a reflection off something. From here, this path is well obstructed. I assume it is on the air. The Martlesham beacon GB3MHZ on 1296.830 MHz is on the wrong side of the house, so I think I have no chance. I shall have a go though later.

Sunspots - higher than expected?

Some years ago, some were predicting a Maunder minimum with years without sunspots. 

On present showing, the current solar cycle is looking to exceed the last one. My favourite site for solar data is still expecting the peak late this year, which is early. With many months still to go to the peak, things are promising.

10m 500mW WSPR TX (Tuesday)

Yet again, I am on 10m WSPR TX with my beacon. It is now 0940z and I have been on for about 10 minutes. So far today, spotted by no stations.

UPDATE 1007z:  So far, 2 unique stations are spotting my QRP. The distances look like single hop F2. (Canaries and Finland).

UPDATE 1125z:  4 unique stations spotting me.

UPDATE 1446z: 
12 unique stations have spotted me today.

8m FT8 QRP (Tuesday)

 At the moment I am on 8m FT8 QRP. It is now 0934z. No spots yet, although I have only just turned on.

UPDATE 1610z:  4 stations in EI and G have suddenly spotted my 8m QRP FT8 TX. I am wondering if this is aircraft reflection? Apart from this, just 1 EI spotted on FT8 RX this morning.

UPDATE 1616z:  Since then, spots by 2 more at this time. This makes aircraft reflection even more likely. It looks like the position and Doppler made reception possible. I am not aware of aircraft reflection before now on 8m FT8.

UPDATE 2205z:  I have been advised to look at Airscout which is an app that can help predict when planes are in the correct place for airplane scatter. See  http://airscout.eh/index.php

Sunspots - Tuesday January 24th 2023

Solar flux is 189 and the SSN 144. A=7 and K=1.

23 Jan 2023

8m T&I permit renewal application with OFCOM

The application to get a new 8m permit to replace my current one (at great expense, which I think is utterly STUPID!!) is with OFCOM. There is no certainty of a new 8m permit, but I have essentially asked for the same as the last one. 

If they reject it, I intend to WSPR with 10mW ERP in the ISM 8m band. Perhaps I should use the callsign OF3COM just to register my disapproval, HI.

My 8m FT8 was turned on late at 1645z.

UPDATE 1800z: Just S57A (1194km) has been spotted. Nobody has spotted my QRP today.

British politics - NOT amateur radio

It turns out that our one time chancellor (in charge of money) made an error with his taxes and has paid a very large sum to settle his mistakes. Our Prime Minister is married to a very rich woman who is worth millions (at least).  There are many we just do not know about.

In my view ALL in high office must be above reproach. It is also important that they understand the common man.

You could be forgiven for thinking many in high office are not there really for the common good and are out of touch with many.

At one time, those in high office had very high standards and went into politics with high levels of integrity. These days many enter politics for totally the wrong reasons.

Being wealthy is not a crime. Being out of touch with the common man is sad.

QDX - creeping up

At Christmas, I ordered a QDX digital transceiver, ready built, covering 20m-10m from QRP labs. As it will be ready built and cased, there is a waiting list.

My place in the queue is getting better. I shall wait patiently!! 

Hans makes some great kits.

23cm SSB sked (Monday) - success!

At 1430z today, I have a sked with G6UW/G3ZAY on 1296.3 MHz SSB. Martin is in Cambridge (far side).  At the moment, I am still using the 2 element test antenna indoors pointing out of the shack window.

UPDATE 1535z:  We made it!  This was my first ever QSO on 23cms. No great DX, but so important to me. This proves the 2W 23cm transverter works on TX and RX, but I must get a better antenna for /P work later in the year.

10m QRP WSPR TX (Monday)

In a few moments, I am about to switch on my 500mW W5OLF 10m WSPR beacon. 

UPDATE 1100z:
5 unique stations have already spotted my QRP (see chart).

UPDATE 1547z: 16 unique stations have spotted my 500mW 10m WSPR today.

Sunspots - Monday January 23rd 2023

 Solar flux is 199 and the SSN 166. A=9 and K=1.

22 Jan 2023

23cm - partial success

Although I got no FT8 decodes, my 23cm QRP signal did make it to the QTH of G4HJW, despite double glazed windows, bushes, a shed and 2 hills! I am sure on a less obstructed path I would succeed. Tomorrow I have a USB sked with G6UW in Cambridge.

The second photo shows the 2 element antenna firing through the shack window.

10m 500mW WSPR TX (Sunday)

It is now 1220z. About 30 minutes ago, I turned on my W5OLF 10m WSPR beacon. So far, 3 unique stations spotting me today.

UPDATE 1438z:  17 stations have spotted me so far today.

UPDATE 1635z: 18 unique stations have spotted my QRP with the furthermost FY5KE (7110km).

UPDATE 2045z:
19 stations spotted me today on QRP 10m WSPR. Now QRT.

Sunspots - Sunday January 22nd 2023

 Solar flux is 209 and the SSN 194.  A=17 and K=2.

Plans for today

 At the moment these are my plans:-

  • 8m FT8 QRP on 40.680 MHz.
  • 10m 500mW WSPR TX.
  • 23cm QRP FT8 local tests at 1630z.

Norwich UK (Saturday)

This photo was taken on Saturday. It shows the market, with St Peter Mancroft church in the background. 

Norwich was largely overlooked by the industrial revolution. It is a lovely city with a fine cathedral.

Monism - NOT amateur radio

For a long time people have been searching for a "theory of everything" bringing together the macro and the micro worlds. On the one hand people are searching for ever smaller particles. On the other hand people are talking about multiverses. Our own universe looks to be at least 40 billion light years across.

As far as I know there has not been a proper bringing together of the quantum world and our "everyday" world.  According to quantum entanglement particles on opposite sides of the universe instantly know about each other.   Clearly, there is so little we know.

Monism may be on the right track, if not the whole way.  It views that reality is one organic whole with no independent parts.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monism .

21 Jan 2023

8m QRP FT8 (Saturday)

 As I was out until late afternoon, my 40.680 MHz FT8 QRP was not turned on until late. I was quite surprised to be spotted by 3 stations including Phil EI9KP (649km) and S50B (1220km).

Local 23cm FT8 test Sunday

 Subject to the main person in the test Bernie Wright G4HJW agreeing, these are my plans:

  • 23cm FT8 TX (2W), Sunday afternoon Jan 22nd, 1630-1700z.
  • Horizontal polarisation.
  • 1296.065 MHz USB dial (audio offeset about 1950 Hz).

10m QRP TX WSPR (Saturday)


My beacon has been on from about 1600z. So far 10 unique stations have spotted me.

Sunspots - Saturday January 21st 2023

 Solar flux is 218 and the SSN 197. A=6 and K=4.

20 Jan 2023

UK inflation - NOT amateur radio

In many countries inflation is a problem. This is especially true in the UK that has depended on cheap foreign workers for many years at the cost of not increasing efficiency as fast as some countries.

If inflation stays high, people demand higher wages to keep up with rising prices. This itself is inflationary and high inflation and rising prices continue for years. 

This is the curse of many governments. There are no easy answers as this is an understandable position for workers who feel their buying power diminishing. They feel, indeed are, poorer.

The only solution is for governments to come up with a fair deal for workers, whilst not stoking inflation. At the same time workers have to accept they will be poorer.

In all this fairness is important. If some (bosses) get excessive pay rises and dividends, working people will feel aggrieved.

Quiet Cambridge? - NOT amateur radio


This is across Bridge Street from Magdelene College in Cambridge.

OFCOM Spectrum Sandbox Workshop

OFCOM is to hold a workshop on its Spectrum Roadmap on February 17th. See the OFCOM website for details.

OFCOM Communications Weekly

Every week OFCOM updates the data it holds about licences etc.. See the OFCOM website for the latest. 

10m QRP WSPR TX (Friday)

The 10m WSPR beacon was turned on about 1555z. My 500mW was immediately spotted in the Canary Is..

UPDATE 1658z:  4 unique stations have spotted me in the last hour.

8m QRP FT8 (Friday)

 At about 1555z, I turned on my QRP 8m FT8 on 40.680 MHz (TX first). At 1605z, no spots.

UPDATE 1635z: Phil EI9KP (649km) has spotted me again. The propagation puzzles me as it is too close for Es and I would have expected the Doppler on aircraft scatter to be too great to decode. He spots me regularly and I am always grateful. Nothing on 8m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1922z: S50B (1220km) has also spotted me. This is probably winter Es.

Amaryllis - NOT amateur radio

As mentioned a few days ago, we have 3 of these on the go. This one is in flower. 

They are magnificent house plants and great fun. 

This one will be past its best next week, but the second one is coming out!

23cm FT8 test

Only one local can TX on 23cms apparently. My best hope of a 2-way SSB QSO looks like G4BAO, but I get the impression John is away. Several locals can listen, but not TX.

So, my plan currently is to TX FT8, probably at an agreed time on Sunday and monitor PSKreporter. I am not expecting QSOs! Even to get a spot would be pleasing, HI.

Sunspots - Friday January 20th 2023

Solar flux is 219 and the SSN 166.  A=7 and K=0. The sunspot count and solar flux have been very good this month and the F2 MUF above 40 MHz on several times towards the USA.

19 Jan 2023

70cm activity contest results

The results of the first 70cm activity contest of the year have just been released. I came near the bottom of the lower power section, so things can only improve, I hope!

Anglesey Abbey Mill Leat - NOT amateur radio

This is quite close to us by car. At the moment, it is dry, cold and sunny. 


Up to now, I have always used WSJT-X for FT8. There have been some reports that JTDX decodes more stations. 

Do you have view please? I try to use the latest released version.

Ukraine war - NOT amateur radio

 At the height of the cold war I had many SSB contacts with stations all over the world including stations in the USSR. Sadly these days I go on SSB infrequently because of my poor voice. Amateur radio was a way of breaking down barriers.

A report in The Atlantic says there was a Ukrainian drone strike in early December on a Russian airbase some 500 miles south of Moscow. This airbase is supposed to house nuclear weapons. As far as I know, we heard little about this.

Sadly, we live in dangerous times.

In my view, most, if not all, conflicts are based on insecurity. It is much better to talk to avoid conflict than have wars. One of the dangers of wars is that all parties tend to hide the truth.

I very much hope the stupid conflict in Ukraine can be brought to an end quickly. Jaw, jaw, not war war ..... please.

Reminder - ATV net on Oscar 100 live stream

 A reminder that BATC live streams the ATV net on Thursdays at 2000z on Oscar 100. I must remember this and watch!

See https://batc.org.uk/live/oscar100net

UPDATE 2130z:  It worked well, although I was disappointed that there were only G, GW and GI stations on the net, but considering the path was 44000 miles, the quality of the pictures was excellent. There are some very clever people around - far cleverer than me! To get a good TV picture through the satellite requires RF skills, TV knowledge and software skills.

10m QRP WSPR TX (Thursday)

 For about 4 hours, I have been on 10m QRP WSPR with my W5OLF 500mW beacon.

UPDATE 1415z: 
So far today, I have been spotted by 19 stations with the furthermost FR1GZ (9724km).

8m FT8 (Thursday)

Been on 8m FT8 for a couple of hours. G4APB (88km) was spotted although nobody has spotted me.

UPDATE 1440z:  No further 8m FT8 spots.

Sunspots - Thursday January 19th 2023

 Solar flux is 220 and the SSN 164. A=15 and K=0.

18 Jan 2023

Doh!! - 8m

 As I was out most of the day I did not go on 10m or 8m. From what I gather, SSB 8m signals were being copied "across the pond". When I try tomorrow it will be dead! 

23cm local skeds needed

Last night, in the 23cm activity contest, I heard and worked nothing! I am hoping for some local skeds to prove all is well. 

At the moment I only have the 2el test antenna pointing out of the shack window. My shack is on a "hill" (which is a relative term in East Anglia!) and 2W.

Anglesey Abbey water mill


This was yesterday in the cold sunshine.

Sunspots - Wednesday January 18th 2023

 Solar flux is 219 and the SSN 185. A=6 and K=3.

17 Jan 2023

23cm activity contest this evening

My first test on 23cms TX will be tonight. I have only got the 2 element test antenna and 2W PEP, so I hope I can copy (and work?) any locals that may be on, otherwise I shall have to set up some skeds. 

All is set up. In the past my only (ever) outing on 23cms was on RX only with a borrowed converter and homemade 4 el yagi. Like then (1970s?), everything is indoors firing through the shack window.

These tests are all in the shack. Later this year I hope to try some /P on 23cms.

See https://www.rsgbcc.org/cgi-bin/contest_rules.pl?year=2023&contest=uhfukac .

Surprise visitor - NOT amateur radio

We often get Muntjac deer in our garden, but rarely see them. Imagine my surprise when pulling back the curtains! 

Amaryllis - NOT amateur radio

We have 3 on the go at the moment. This is the first one in flower. 

8m QRP FT8 (Tuesday)

My QRP 8m FT8 was switched on at 1025z. I am on 40.680 MHz with an audio offset of about 1950 Hz. I am TXing first. No spots.

UPDATE 1820z:  No spots all day. Disappointing.

10m QRP WSPR TX (Tuesday)

My 500mW WSPR beacon was turned on at 1025z. So far, no spots.

UPDATE  1255z: 7 unique stations have spotted me today. Furthermost is FR5ZX (9740km).

UPDATE 1822z:  19 unique stations spotting my QRP.

Plans for the day (Tuesday)

 Today, I plan the following:

  • 8m QRP FT8
  • 10m QRP WSPR TX
  • 23cm local tests ( I think tonight is the 23cm activity contest).

Inside my head! - NOT amateur radio

This photo dates from 2011 when I took part in some brain research at Cambridge University. 

Sunspots - Tuesday January 17th 2023

 Solar flux is 228 and the SSN 186. A=14 and K=1.

16 Jan 2023

PF8 Manual - NOT amateur radio

Many will remember this famous transceiver from the 1980s. It was made famous by featuring in the TV series "The Professionals". A copy of the PF8 service manual is available here.

Magdelene College, Cambridge - NOT amateur radio


This is the entrance to Magdelene College, Cambridge looking toward the famous Pepys Library.

Cambridge has many fine buildings.

10m QRP WSPR TX (Monday)

So far, I have been on 10m QRP (500mW) TX with my W5OLF beacon. 2 unique stations spotting me.

UPDATE 1352z:  8 unique stations have spotted me.

UPDATE 1845z:  Now QRT. Today my 500mW 10m WSPR was spotted by 9 stations.

8m QRP FT8 (Monday)

 For about 30 minutes, I have been on 40.680 MHz (TX first) QRP FT8. No spots.

UPDATE 1850z:  No spots. Now QRT.  An absolutely disappointing day.

That free Scrapbook

This is now at Issue 3. The link is here .

Sunspots - Monday January 16th 2023

 Solar flux is 234 and the SSN 117.  A=30 and K=1.

15 Jan 2023

DATV via Oscar 100

As mentioned yesterday there is a live stream of the (D?)ATV net on Oscar 100 starting at 2000z Thursdays. I must try to remember this as I have never seen live ATV via this geosynchronous satellite.

See https://batc.org.uk/live/oscar100net .

10m Simple Sideband

Before my 2013 stroke, I was working on a simple rig for 10m. At the time I was thinking of a dead simple DSB transceiver, but these days a better approach might be an SSB transceiver based around an SI5351 or similar synthesiser.

Whatever the approach, I had in mind a very simple, low cost rig on a single PCB.

10m is very good again and should be good for several years. It is good for Es most summers even in sunspot minimum years. It is also good for local natters. Antennas are small and CB verticals work well.

Such a simple design would make a low cost club project. When built, such a rig could be very useful especially if made as a synthesised SSB rig.

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

6m F2?

It would appear that better stations are working into Africa by F2 on 6m. F2 is usually better on N-S paths than E-W. I know of at least 1 serious 6m operator that has 4 x 6 elements on 6m. That is seriously keen!

The sunspot number and solar flux are usually high most days, so the N-S MUF probably goes above 50 MHz briefly.

Want a laugh? - NOT amateur radio

This cartoon was sent to me yesterday. I have no idea where it originated. It made me laugh.

10m QRP WSPR TX (Sunday)

At 0946z, my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon by W5OLF was turned on. No spots yet.

UPDATE 1006z:  Good spots of me from Crete.

UPDATE 1120z:  7 stations spotting my 500mW. Some Es?

UPDATE 1436z:  14 stations have spotted me today.

UPDATE 1735z:  21 stations have spotted my 10m QRP WSPR today.

8m QRP FT8 (Sunday)

At 0947z, my 8m FT8 was turned on. I am on 40.680 MHz (TX first) with 2.5W to a low wire dipole. The audio offset is about 1950 Hz.

UPDATE 1121z:  No spots.

UPDATE 1222z: G4FFC (47km) in Bedford has spotted me.

UPDATE 1742z: Spotted in Puerto Rico and Canada on 8m FT8 QRP.  My power is probably about 1.7W!! Altogether 5 stations have spotted me and 4 were "across the pond". Best day yet on 8m.

Stations spotting my 8m QRP FT8 today