At 1920z, my 630m WSPR RX was turned on.
31 Mar 2023
This was very successful. John gave me an RS58 report which was very satisfying for 2W indoors to a 2 el yagi indoors. John suggested an FT8 test at some point in the future, which I shall do. Aiming the small beam in all sorts of directions made little difference on John's signal.
Since the pandemic, many people have turned to home deliveries. We have used these services for many years. You cannot beat looking at goods in shops, but for some things the convenience of home deliveries is great. The downside is shops find it hard to compete and close. It is a very difficult decision.
Peoples' shopping habits are changing. In my view, the shops that will still be here are those that adjust to this new model, perhaps acting as showcases for goods ordered online.
Today was an interesting experiment. I tried 6m and 4m FT8. The difference could not be more stark. On 6m I got plenty of spots, whereas on 4m none at all. Many modern transceivers in Europe include 4m, yet activity on this great band seems very poor.
I guess people are more interested in working new DX than chatting, not that you can chat on FT8! There is no doubt amateur radio is changing. In many ways this is for the worse.
Putting a RX on 6m FT8 is more likely to have something "new" than 4m FT8 outside of the Es season. Even so, I am surprised how bad 4m seems to be. I was expecting some activity!
Unless things change, amateur radio will be gone before 2040. At the very least, it will be radically different.
UPDATE 1336z: What will the future of amateur radio look like? The short answer is I do not know! I can see national agencies like the FCC and OFCOM tiring of amateur radio. Instead I can see the allocation of callsigns being delegated to the ARRL and the RSGB. I can see this spreading across the world. I can see a time when the amateur bands that remain become a free for all, without licences, as long as no interference is caused. I can see a merging of licence free bands and amateur radio.
At 1140z, I turned on my 4m FT8 with my compromise antenna of the 2m big-wheel and coax tuned via the auto ATU in the FT-710 So far, no spots of me.
UPDATE 1235z: I decided to go back to 6m FT8 as I was getting no spots on 4m. Clearly few come on 4m outside the Es season.
At the moment I am on 6m FT8 with the FT-710. Several UK spots of me on TX, but no RX spots.
As an experiment just now, I asked Chat GPT4 to generate me an essay about amateur radio. GPT4 is a form of artificial intelligence.
The essay looked remarkably accurate and was just as if a human being had written it. I stopped after about 30 lines. I also asked it to create a couple of poems about places I knew. These were amazing.
You can see both the good and bad here: the good is getting AI to do what humans find boring and hard. The bad is where does this stop?
Although I do not want to sound like a Luddite, I can see dangers ahead.
30 Mar 2023
So far, 38 stations have spotted me and I have copied a lot more! 2 QSOs so far.
We have just heard of the death of the husband of my wife's old work colleague. They live in Australia. Although expected, it must be such a shock when it actually happens.
I guess it is also a wake-up call to our own mortality. I am reminded of this poem.
Originally, this was called the XBM10-2. It is probably one of the simplest transceivers you can make. It really works! These days there is less CW activity as people move to modes like FT8, but it is fun to make contacts with ultra simple homemade gear.
This odd building, now very derelict, is on sale in a nearby village (Lode) for £250000. It looks like it was once a shop, but its odd design suggests it was once something else. Sadly, I do not know its history. In decent condition it would probably sell for over £1M. Nice restoration project for someone!
29 Mar 2023
This worries me.
Just now I tried Google's version called Bard again. It tries to make sense of the data it knows about and writes about this. Some answers were remarkably good, whereas some were useless and factually incorrect.
Now, used properly I can see lot of uses. However, many will (wrongly) take everything it says as factually correct when it is not. I can see a future when many people accept everything produced by AI as factually correct. "Brave New World", as Aldous Huxley Huxley said?
Several times I have tried to contact John to arrange a quick sked on 23m SSB. It seems odd to me that he has not replied even when I sent to an address he had used quite recently and another that I had.
At first I wondered if my address had gone into SPAM by mistake. I have come to the conclusion he is away.... or I am no longer in his good books,HI!
Luckily, I have one of the few legal permits in the UK to TX on 8m. For the last year, I have used my FT817ND on 8m FT8. So far, with just low power and a low wire dipole, I have been copied on 4 continents and in 21 countries (it may be more now).
I am curious to know if the FT-710 can be simply modified to TX on 8m just with button presses. Although I have no plans to use my FT-710 on 8m, I am just wondering. I am sure there will be wideband mods by changing diodes internally, but I do not want to do this.
Once again on 4m FT8. So far, no spots.
UPDATE 1508z: After a whole day with absolutely no 4m FT8 spots (and apparently no monitors either!) I have QSYed to 6m FT8 and was immediately spotted across England. Probably I shall give 4m a miss until Es kicks in. It is unlikely I shall bother with a halo for 4m as my "ad hoc" arrangement seems to work perfectly. This will certainly get me Es contacts into Europe on 4m FT8.
28 Mar 2023
As mentioned many times, I originally came from the South Hams in South Devon. I lived here until we came to Cambridge in the early 1970s. I get back there most years. My brother still lives there and I stay with him usually and travel down by train.
At the moment, 10m is again in great shape. Most days DX from across the world may be copied. Come May, June, July and August we see the peak Es season in the northern hemisphere which will allow DX up to about 1500km almost daily and some times further. F2 is currently very good. 10m is usually best for DX in the sunlight hours.
There even some single band multi mode 10m rigs available. These are based on CB radios, but can be very good as 10m radios.
There is little doubt that 10m (28MHz) is my favourite band of all. In the past I have used these with CB verticals very successfully on 10m.
27 Mar 2023
This was designed some years ago, but has appeared in QST and the RSGB book "LF Today".
I wanted a simple way of getting on this MF band and this was the result. Several have since been successfully built.
It produces about 10W into 50 ohms, but the ERP will be considerably lower depending on the antenna used. In my case, my "antenna" was just an earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground with the electrodes about 12m apart with the wire back to the shack along the fence not very high. I tried the wire on the ground and it made little difference. My theory is this forms a loop in the ground. The actual loop diameter will get larger as frequency is reduced. Such an antenna has been used for far field amateur TX tests (successfully) at well below 10 kHz.
Most nights my measured 10mW ERP was spotted in Norway on WSPR. It used the FT817ND in split mode TXing on 80m but receiving directly on 630m.
Recently, a station in the Caribbean has reported a sudden increase in contacts on 8m with Spain. He wonders if the authorities there have granted access to 8m to radio amateurs.
It would be good if more countries were granted legal access, if only for a limited time. This next year or so, around the solar maximum, a great deal of useful research could be done.
Does anyone know the legal situation in Spain please?
After being off for about 10 days playing with other things, I am back on 40.680 MHz QRP FT8 again at 1430z. No spots. It will get much easier for QRP stations when the Es season gets going.
Today has been disappointing on 8m. It looks like conditions have to be very good for my QRP FT8 to get through. I would probably do better on 8m WSPR, but I think there are fewer monitors? I expect many are also fighting high local noise levels that make decoding weak signals hard.
UPDATE 1550z: No spots. Are there many monitoring 8m WSPR?
UPDATE 1610z: Trying 8m QRP WSPR near 40.680 MHz in the WSPR window. TXing 30 %.
UPDATE 1651z: No WSPR spots so back on QRP FT8.
UPDATE 1743z: No spots, so QRT on 8m soon. I think QRP 8m stations are unlikely to get too far now until the Es season.
26 Mar 2023
For a change, I am on 2m QRP FT8. No QSOs yet, but copying G3MLO.G0LRD's grabber. This is a very useful resource if you are in the Cambridge area. A part screenshot of this is shown here.
At 1046z I QSYed to 630m WSPR RX. I am not sure how many people are on during the day, so this is an experiment.
|Getting the optical gear working|
As today looks dull and wet, these are my plans :
- Email G4BAO to set up a sked on 23cm SSB. Email written and sent.
- Try to get the optical gear working. All gear assembled. Spectran installed.
- Go on 10m FT8 daytime. RX on morning. Off late morning.
- Go on 630m WSPR RX this evening. Went on late morning.
25 Mar 2023
Rather earlier than normal, I have turned on 630m WSPR RX. So far spotted PA3GSH (396km), so my system is working.
Again my "antenna" is the coax to my 2m big-wheel omni antenna tuned with a ferrite rod on the bench.UPDATE 1930z: 2 stations spotted so far this evening with the furthermost DB8BG (498km).
About a week ago, I outlined the projects that I hoped to tackle in the next 4 weeks. So far, I am making progress.
- My FT-710 now works with FT8 .
- I have had a QSO on 4m FT8, albeit with my 2m big-wheel and coax via the auto-ATU in the FT-710.
Next week, I hope to re set up my optical gear and do some local tests and arrange a 23cm SSB sked with G4BAO.
At the moment, I am on 10m FT8. So far, 3 stations have spotted me after about 5 minutes and 5 stations have been spotted on RX.
24 Mar 2023
At 1850z my 630m WSPR RX was turned on. No spots yet.
UPDATE 2206z: Still no spots.
UPDATE 2208z: I am puzzled. G6AVK is usually copied, but I have had no spots all evening. As far as I can tell, everything is correct. It is not just uploading to WSPRnet as there are no local spots either!
UPDATE 2240z : Restarted WSJT-X and immediately got spots from the Netherlands and Germany. Not sure what was going on. Now QRT.
Am now on 10m FT8. Only D2UY (Angola) coming through, suggesting there is plenty of disturbance. I am not sure if there is a delay on PSKreporter at the moment.
UPDATE 1456z: Just 2 G spots of me so far. These are probably normal tropo. Furthermost is G4FAL (180km) near Sheffield. I remember that this sort of range was always possible with QRP 10m SSB and a dipole. It is probably even more likely with FT8. Pretty sure far more inter-G QSOs would be possible on 10m FT8.
UPDATE 1900z: Now QRT, but in the end I was spotted by 8 stations and I spotted 12.
As I am unable to drive at night, I have really enjoyed the Cambridge Radio Club lectures via Zoom. They are trying to arrange "hybrid" meetings with personal contact in Cambridge and Zoom lectures for those that cannot get in. In my view, the Zoom lectures have been excellent.
My personal view is that all lectures should be on Zoom only, with a social gathering somewhere else once a month. This would mean no room hire, reduced annual fees, people could watch or talk from anywhere on the planet and people could watch the Zoom talks with others in their homes if they do not have Zoom. I would expect most people have Zoom.
Imagine if CDARC became a worldwide radio club!
The image is from the CDARC website. I wanted to link to this image, but could not see how to do this. Instead, I took a screenshot. If copyright infringement is an issue, it will be removed.
See https://www.cdarc.org.uk/ .
As HF looks to be disturbed, I am again on 4m FT8 with my makeshift antenna. At 1043z, no spots.
UPDATE 1245z: No spots of me, but G4HGI (244km) spotted on 4m FT8 RX.
UPDATE 1416z: GW8ASA (301km) has again spotted me at similar levels to yesterday.
UPDATE 1421z: Nothing outside of the UK so far on 4m FT8. Rather surprised there are not many more stations on 4m FT8. I expect this will change in the Es season.
One of the pleasures of UK winter is the usual absence of thunder and lightning. In the UK they can occur, but they are far more common in the summer.
Although I know the chances of a direct strike are low, they do occur. I know of 2 friends who had this. One of the more common things is a power surge as storms approach.
Until these birds were re-introduced in England some years ago, you would only see them normally in Wales. Now they are a quite common sight especially near motorways where they seek out road kill.
23 Mar 2023
In the UK, clocks go forward an hour on Sunday morning to British Summer Time (BST). Already there are promises of better days to come. Weeping willow trees often have hints of green before most others. This one in Ely a few days ago thinks it is spring!
I like the spring as it is the season of new hope after a long, dark winter. The blossom does not last long, but it beautiful for a while. I prefer the spring to the summer.
At the moment I am again on 70.154 MHz FT8 with my big-wheel 2m omni and coax tuned via the auto-ATU in the FT-710. At 1029z, no spots. I have yet to be spotted on 4m, although my "antenna" does not help!
UPDATE 1226z: Well, my 4m "antenna" is working with 3 stations spotted and one spotting me - G4HGI (244km).
UPDATE 1241z: I would imagine that most propagation is one of the following: flat-band propagation, tropo enhancement, MS or scatter. As Bas says in the comments, the Es season is probably some months away still.
UPDATE 1515z: G3SHK (200km) has been spotted, and has spotted me, on 4m FT8 (see map). M0RJV (91km) has spotted me. Still to have my first FT8 QSO on 4m. The impression I am left with is this band is very under-used apart from (maybe?) during the Es season.
22 Mar 2023
In a few years, as mentioned recently, I am expecting a "tipping point" when most use electric cars rather than cars fuelled by fossil fuels. My prediction is this will happen about 2028.
For this to happen, range has to be considerably improved and prices have to fall dramatically. Electric cars today appeal mainly to early adopters, those who feel strongly against fossil fuels and those who only make very short journeys like shopping trips and who can charge at home. I think the breakthrough will come with solid state batteries.
Usually on my trips to Cambridge I see about 2 electric cars. Today I saw 10!! There must be a lot of early adopters!
As I am back from Cambridge, I am on 10m QRP FT8 with 5W. After about 10 minutes, 13 stations have spotted me and I have spotted 99.
UPDATE 1540z: 28 stations have spotted my QRP 10m FT8 and I have spotted 257.
|Stations that have spotted my |
5W 10m FT8 today at 1800z
There has been a lot recently about artificial intelligence and search engines. First there was ChatGPT followed by GPT-4 and now BARD which is Google's experimental version.
I can see great danger with these as people believe what these bots create as truth, when it may be full of errors. I tried BARD out and most was correct, but some things were totally wrong!!
21 Mar 2023
Last Thursday evening was the 4m (70 MHz) activity contest for March. I missed it!
My antenna is just my 2m big-wheel and coax matched via the auto-ATU in the FT-710. I have no idea how it performs with regard to gain, polarisation, or directivity. This I was hoping to find out! Maybe in April? My next chance looks like April 20th.
At present, I am on QRP 10m WSPR using the FT-710. After the first transmission 4 spots.
UPDATE 1625z: My own 5W WSPR TX has been spotted by 19 unique stations and I have spotted 135 unique stations. Furthermost so far is a spot by WP3SM (6851km) in Puerto Rico.