31 Aug 2023

How NOT to - NOT amateur radio

Last night we were treated to a very rare blue super moon. I tried to take a photo. What a dismal failure!

10m 500mW WSPR TX (Thursday)

Most of the day, I have been on 10m WSPR TX with my 500mW WSPR TX beacon. 4 unique stations have spotted me, but no Es I think. It is now 1601z and the beacon will be on for several hours still.

Rallies and Conventions this weekend

The following should take place this weekend. As always, I strongly recommend checking the information is correct.

  1. Saturday September 2nd - GQRP Club plus Telford and District ARS Convention. Telford,  TF10 8NB. Contact 01952 255416 or 07824 737716.
  2. Sunday September 3rd - Annual Telford Hamfest and continuing GQRP convention. Contact and postcode as above.

6m QRP FT8 (Thursday)

For about the last hour, I have been on 6m FT8 with my 2.5W and V2000 vertical omni antenna. Nine stations have spotted me today so far, but I suspect these are all aircraft scatter as they are all UK. 

UPDATE 1608z: 12 stations spotted .

UPDATE 1946z: 
14 spots of my QRP FT8.  Es? (See Map).

UPDATE 2118z: QRT. 

Made me laugh - NOT amateur radio

This was on Facebook yesterday. It made me chuckle. 

Sunspots - Thursday August 31st 2023

Solar flux is 139 and the SSN 94  A=6 and K=2.

30 Aug 2023

10m 500mW WSPR TX (Wednesday)

Although I have been on for about an hour, no spots so far. I get the impression Es is very marginal today.

UPDATE 1305z:   5 spots of me today (see map). It is interesting that the main DX seems to be via F2 now rather than Es.

UPDATE 1643z:  7 spots (mainly F2) today. Spotted in Antarctica 6 times in the last few days. DP0GVN/3 (13685km) just spotted my 500mW. 

6m QRP FT8 (Wednesday)

 After about an hour plenty of spots of my 2.5W to the vertical omni antenna including Italy and Northern Ireland.

UPDATE 1248z:  Any Es today looks fleeting with no further Europeans spotting me in recent hours.

Solar activity

In the last month, apart from today, solar activity has been poorer than the month before. As the last solar minimum was only in 2020, I cannot believe we have already gone past the peak of solar cycle 25. In the last cycle there was a bigger peak after the first.

What is certain is that solar activity can remain good for several years after the peak. Even if this was a very early peak and not a blip, we can expect solar activity to remain good for several years yet. If the peak really is a way off, this means we can expect solar activity to be pretty good until at least 2026.

It is my belief that it is often low activity rather than conditions that make the higher HF bands seem dead. With modes like FT8, we may well find 10m, for example, is "open" far more often than we once thought.

Like - NOT amateur radio

At one time I would have been appalled by the overuse of "like" and the fact that younger people tend to go up at the end of sentences. 

You have only to observe how much speech has changed in the last 100 years. I expect if we heard speech from 500 years ago we would struggle to understand it. 

And to think how languages have evolved in the last 1000-2000 years!  No, we have to accept that speech and language will be forever changing.

"Like" is the new ""er", "um","hmm" or "ah".

I never fail to be amazed how many different languages there are (in Europe alone) and in how few generations these happened. In the last 2000 years there are, perhaps,  80 generations only!

Plans for Wednesday

Later, I intend to go on 10m QRP WSPR and 6m QRP FT8. 

Sunspots - Wednesday August 30th 2023

Solar flux is 142 and the SSN 82.  A=5 and K=1. 

29 Aug 2023

Laugh - NOT amateur radio


We saw this on our walk earlier. 

Late swifts - NOT amateur radio

We went for a walk around the village this afternoon. Much to my surprise I saw a swift on two separate occasions. It is possible this was the same bird. Most swifts fly south weeks ago, so this was a straggler(s). As far as I remember, this is the latest date I have ever seen swifts in the UK. 

8m QRP FT8 (Tuesday)

At about 0942z, I QSYed to 40.680 MHz FT8. I had already had plenty of QSOs on 6m and the band looked open in the direction of Iberia. As usual my gear on 8m is a modified FT817ND (2.5W) and a dipole.

UPDATE 1757z:  No spots today. I suspect there are very few people monitoring. 

UPDATE 2056z:  QRT now. No spots all day. Disappointing. 

10m QRP WSPR TX (Tuesday)


My 500mW WSPR TX beacon was turned on before breakfast. So far spotted by 9 unique stations.

UPDATE 0951z:
I see my 500mW WSPR beacon has been spotted in Antarctica by DP0GVN (13685km). See the photo of this permanent German base.

UPDATE 1727z:
17 spots of me today.

UPDATE 2050z:  QRT  now. 19 unique stations spotted me today.

6m QRP FT8 (Tuesday)

Today, the early start on 6m FT8 QRP resulted in 3 QSOs across Europe. My gear is 2.5W to the omni V2000 vertical antenna. 

UPDATE 0803z: 45 stations across Europe have spotted my QRP 6m FT8 today.

Sunspots - Tuesday August 29th 2023

 Solar flux is 142 and the SSN 68. A=6 and K=0.

28 Aug 2023

That kiss - NOT amateur radio

The man in charge of football in Spain, Luis Rubiales, is at the centre of a media storm. 

The fact that the media has created such a fuss has taken the focus off the women's team that won the world cup and onto this man instead. 

Now, I do not have all the facts and stand to be corrected. My reading of the situation is that this is a story whipped up by the media. Yes, he was carried away by the excitement of the moment, made a mistake, but it would have been better just forgotten. He is also in trouble for scratching his crotch. This took about 1 second! I am pretty sure he just had an innocent itch.

The media has a habit of creating stories. Personally, I do not think he should be made to resign.

Tired, giddy and exhausted - NOT amateur radio

It is almost 10 years ago I suffered my brain bleed/stroke and was in hospital for 3.5 months. Thankfully, I made an almost complete physical recovery and was able to get back to an almost normal life. I was given a second chance, unlike many.

My main issues are my poor voice, being giddy nearly all the waking hours, and getting exhausted very quickly after physical or mental exertion.  Whereas before I enjoyed going out in the car doing experiments, I no longer feel able. I still drive, but do not enjoy it. Driving seems to require so much more concentration for me nowadays. All the time I am reading the situation, looking for stupid drivers. It is almost as if my brain takes longer to process things. Driving at 50mph feels like 70mph.

The net result is trying to find ways to enjoy things differently. These days, my experiments are at home rather than "in the field".

Although I long to be as I once was, I know this can never be, so we have to make the best of life.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/non-amateur-radio/stroke .

6m QRP FT8 tomorrow?

As an experiment, I may try 50.313 MHz QRP FT8 tomorrow. The main Es season is over, but Es still occurs, but less often. FT8, which is better than CW, uses a 15 second TX period. If propagation lasts this long, one has a great chance of being detected. Often Es signals can be quite strong, if short-lived.

I like to experiment on 8m FT8, but there are too few monitors sadly.

Optical Experiments

One of the fallacies going around is that optical communication is just "line-of-site" and that both the TX and RX have to be able to see each other. This is just not true! 

With very low power and simple, homemade, gear I could detect my beacon on a PC way over the horizon. In Australia, the "over-the-horizon" (NLOS) distance record is way over 100km. With my own very modest gear, I can well believe this. 

My tests were done on cloudless nights, suggesting the propagation was scattering off atmospheric dust. There was no sign of the light from the TX in the sky at all.  This is definitely where everyone, licenced or not, may experiment. It would be good to find out how far we could achieve non line of site (NLOS) in the UK. Incidentally LEDs are generally considered better than lasers due to scintillation (look it up!).

My own beacon and optical gear were made in the back of the garage. If I was fit, I would be experimenting now.

My optical gear used LEDs bought off eBay. Far more powerful ones are available. I used 100mm lenses used in magnifying glasses bought at Poundland. Better equipped stations used Fresnel lenses. My tripod was hopeless. With better LEDs, lenses and tripods, ranges could be increased a great deal. Even with my system ranges could be considerably greater than the nearly 9km I managed.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/optical-nanowaves/over-the-horizon.

Isleham priory - NOT amateur radio

Until the Reformation this was a priory. Afterwards, it was used as a barn. 

In my view the Reformation did a great deal of harm in England. Looking back, it seems pure vandalism. 

In my view, we have to look at history, reflect on it, but not destroy it.

Rowan tree - NOT amateur radio

We have 3 rowan trees in our front garden. The one nearest the drive is filled with berries that fall everywhere. It is also leaning heavily. 

8m 2.5W FT8 (Monday)

 My 2.5W FT8 to the dipole on 40.680 MHz was turned on about 0830z. So far, no spots.

UPDATE 1206z:   2 Polish stations have spotted my QRP 8m FT8.

UPDATE 1544z: No further stations spotting me.

10m 500mW WSPR (Monday)

My 500mW W5OLF WSPR beacon was turned on at about 0830z. 

UPDATE 1546z:
31 stations have spotted me. No further stations spotting me recently.

Sunspots - Monday August 28th 2023

Solar flux is 142 and the SSN 69. A=11 and K=2.

27 Aug 2023

Artificial Intelligence (AI) - NOT amateur radio

Until this year, most had not heard of AI. Now it is widespread.  

There is no doubt that with big computers that learn we can all benefit from the huge processing power. What a human brain can do in days could be done by an AI computer in seconds. This could really help in such things as fast cancer diagnosis.

At the same time it could be a great cause of harm in the wrong hands. 

Some time ago, I did an experiment with AI. I put my name and callsign in and within seconds it produced line after line about me, most which was accurate. I then put my son's name in (he is an internationally famous jazz musician) and it came back with rubbish. The danger is that people may accept what AI tells them as absolute truth. Imagine a hostile power using AI. We can be sure the military services both east and west are "on the case".

I can see both good and bad. We have interacted with AI for years e.g. with chat bots and phone chats that, for example, ask you to "press 2 if you need to discuss future cruises".  In the future they will be far better.

At the moment, I am reserving judgement.

Crabapple jelly (continued) - NOT amateur radio

A few days ago I mentioned that I had made some crabapple jelly from the crabapples on our one tree. Despite a good crop, the amount of jelly produced was very small.

Yesterday I tried some and it was very good. It is just a pity there is so little!

European Es

The main Es season is now over, but Es is still with us. I find this site extremely useful to get a snapshot of conditions. It looks like there is a good opening in Eastern Europe this afternoon.

See https://www.tvcomm.co.uk/g7izu/radio-propagation-maps/europe-sporadic-e/ .

Ickworth (National Trust) - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday, we visited this vast estate near Bury-St-Edmunds. It must have cost an enormous amount to own and run it centuries ago. 

I have no idea where this wealth came from, but I hope not slavery. These days it can be enjoyed by everyone.

In praise of Chromebooks - NOT amateur radio

For almost 3 years now I have mostly used a Chromebook. It has been truly excellent and does almost everything I can ever want and is blisteringly fast. 

Mine is an Asus and came with a 3yr "at home" warranty. It is an 11.6 inch model with rubber bumpers. The Chrome updates and virus protection are valid until next year, when I shall probably get the latest version. 

It was about a third the price of the nearest Windows machine. The battery still lasts for hours. It really is very good and I have not once regretted buying it.

10m 500mW WSPR TX (Sunday)

Although my QRP beacon has been on since breakfast, no spots yet.  It is now 0942z.

UPDATE 1005z:  Doh!! It helps if you turn the PA on too! Without this, I was probably running a just few microwatts. PA now turned on and resynced time.

UPDATE 1047z: 
  The map shows the stations that have spotted my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon in the last few weeks.

UPDATE 1328z: 23 spots of my 500mW WSPR so far today.

UPDATE 1937z:
  26 spots when I went QRT.

8m QRP FT8 (Sunday)

My 2.5W to the dipole has been on since 0700z. No spots. 

UPDATE 0848z: Already spotted by WESSEXSDR (266km) and SR4BBX (1217km).

UPDATE 1312z
: Spotted by 3 stations so far. 2 are in the EU.

UPDATE 1831z: 4 stations have spotted me today on 8m FT8 TX. 

UPDATE 1941z:  QRT.

Sunspots - Sunday August 29th 2023

Solar flux is 139 and the SSN 75. A=7 and K=3. Have we passed the peak already? 

26 Aug 2023


One of my Facebook memories today was this photo of my WISPY 10m WSPR RX. I think this was first created in 2011.  Later it formed the basis of a really simple 10m FT8 receiver.

Rant time

Today must be a bad day. 

In an earlier post I moan about the future of our hobby. Before my stroke in 2013, I had the honour of giving talks at radio clubs throughout East Anglia. Sadly, I can no longer do this as my voice is poor.

One of the things I noticed time and time again was that old men outnumbered young people overwhelmingly. As for females, maybe one or two. By far the most interested were old men. Some had been in the hobby for years, whereas some had recently become interested with family cares and work behind them.

Thinking to the future, the writing is on the wall. In 20 years' time most radio amateurs will be dead or past caring. A few might be in care homes. Amateur radio will be a distant memory, assuming we can remember at all!

Time and again I hear calls to really understand young people of today. If we really understand younger people we have chance to attract them and keep them in the hobby.  Sadly, most old men are not trying, so the downward spiral has started.

Rant over!

Blogs - NOT amateur radio

Just now, I looked at my profile, but had forgotten some of the blogs I created years ago!  

Usually, one is created when we go on holiday, as it is easy to forget things later. One was created shortly before we moved here 10 years ago. It is interesting to look at these again.

Storms stop play

We have just had a clap of thunder and looking at the lightning map, there are storms all around. As a precaution I have disconnected antennas, PSUs and the PC in the shack. when the danger has passed I may reconnect things. I have seen no flashes of lightning, so assume the storms are some way away.

See https://www.lightningmaps.org/#m=oss;t=3;s=0;o=0;b=;ts=0; 

UPDATE 1739z:  We have not had thunder for several hours, so things in the shack have been reconnected. The storms look to be moving away now.

8m QRP FT8 (Saturday)

 Although the 2.5W to the dipole has been on all morning, no spots on TX or RX at 1150z.

UPDATE 1434z:    No spots. 

UPDATE 1517z:   It seems odd that real experimenters have to pay to do experiments in the UK because OFCOM and the RSGB seem so stupid and short-sighted, for example, about 8m. I despair for the future of our hobby that is meant to be all about self-training. Tell that to OFCOM, the RSGB and the FCC!! I have said this many, many times: when most radio amateurs are very old, forgetful, men (most amateurs are old men), I can see our hobby just dying out. 20 years? Fewer (or no) profits, fewer adverts, fewer magazines, fewer new transceivers..... Am I bothered?  Not really. I have enjoyed experimenting, but many prefer to talk about gardening on 80m with commercial gear or chasing DXCC. Neither appeal to me. If this is amateur radio, sorry it is not for me.

UPDATE 1916z:  S50B (1220km) has spotted me.

UPDATE 1953z:  QRT shortly.

10m 500mW WSPR TX (Saturday)


My beacon was turned on about 0810z. At 1145z, 9 stations had spotted me. These look like Es.

UPDATE 1455z:  11 spots of my 10m 500mW beacon today.

UPDATE 1934z: 
14 spots of me today.

UPDATE 2000z:   QRT.

Eddystone EC10 receiver

This was the first transistorised communications receiver. Back in the 1960s, many lusted after one. I eventually got one in the 1970s. 

Actually it was very poor. By modern standards I expect a very low cost SDR is better. They still pop up on auction sites from time to time. They use germanium OC171 transistors which often get leaky and need replacing.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/commercial-rigs/eddystone-ec10 .

Life after death? - NOT amateur radio

As I get older, I am more aware than ever that life is time limited. Most (if not all) religions point to some sort of life after death. I think most people hope for this. 

At the same time, I cannot square this with the fact that when I die, I can have no memory. If I just ceased to exist how would I know? At the same time the whole concept of "I" has no meaning. Also, I am puzzled by the vast number of planets in the universe and the smallness of our brains. 

Death remains a mystery. Most religions fail to answer my questions.

Sunspots - Saturday August 26th 2023

Solar flux is 139 and the SSN 77. A=5 and K=2.

25 Aug 2023

OFCOM reminder

Just to remind you that OFCOM publishes updates to the data it holds on licences etc every week. They also list the publications they produce. See the OFCOM website.

Brunch - NOT amateur radio

Before Covid, periodically we went to a local restaurant for a meal with friends. It was called the Merry Monk in Isleham, near Ely.  We went there for brunch this morning. It was great to be back. They have excellent food and service.

8m QRP FT8 (Friday)

My gear has been on since late morning. No spots. 

UPDATE 1515z:  Still no spots.

UPDATE  2044z:  WESSEXSDR (266km) spotted me. Now QRT.

10m QRP WSPR TX (Friday)


My 500mW 10m WSPR beacon was turned on late this morning. So far just spotted by a station in Eire.

UPDATE 1300z: No further spots.

UPDATE 1603z: 6 spots including 2 in South America. Yesterday my 1st North American (a VO1) this season, probably by F2.

Sunspots - Friday August 25th 2023

 Solar flux is 144 and the SSN 86  A=9 and K=1.

24 Aug 2023

Old university friends - NOT amateur radio

Today, we met up with old university friends that we have known since the late 1960s. We met up in Anglesey Abbey and they came back here for lunch. 

With old friends we pick up where we left off as if we last met just yesterday.

Rallies this (long) weekend

In England, Monday is a public holiday. I have been notified of the following rallies. As always, I advise checking the information is correct and the rally not cancelled before driving a long way. Where possible, I add contact details.

Sunday August 27th - Torbay Annual Communications Fair, Newton Abbot Racecourse, TQ12 3AF.  Contact  01803 864528.

Sunday August 27th - Milton Keynes ARS, Heron's Lodge Guide Activity Centre, MK8 9AA. No contact details given.

Monday August 28th - Huntingdonshire ARS, St Neots, PE19 2SH. Contact events@hunts-hams.co.uk .

More crapapple jelly - NOT amateur radio

After all the effort I managed just 2 very small jars of crabapple jelly. Really not worth the effort. As my wife said quoting Shakespeare "Much ado about nothing". 

10m QRP WSPR TX ( Thursday)

 My 500mW 10m WSPR TX beacon has been on for about 20 minutes. Spotted by 3 stations. 2 look like F2. 

8m QRP FT8 (Thursday)

 Been on for about 20 minutes. No spots yet. 

Sunspots - Thursday August 24th 2023

Solar flux is 147 and the SSN 99. A=4 and K=0.

23 Aug 2023

Russian plane crash -- NOT amateur radio

It must be clear that Vladimir Putin would never harm his once hero, Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner group.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-66599733 .

Crapapple jelly - NOT amateur radio

Yes you read correctly. 

Yesterday I picked the crabapples on our tree. It looked a good crop. Following the recipe in BBC Good Food, I simmered them and dripped them through muslin overnight. The resulting juice was ....... pathetic. If I get just one very small jar I shall be amazed.

I am seeing if I can salvage something, although I am not holding my breath. Perhaps I should stick to radios?

Reach walk - NOT amateur radio


We did a nice walk around the village of Reach about 3 km from us. My wife created this collage. Fields of corn are cut and there are blackberries in the hedges.

8m QRP FT8 (Wednesday)

My gear was turned on just after breakfast. At 1050z, only spotted by WESSEXSDR (266km). I assume this is aircraft reflection. 

I am sure the many spots in the past by EI9KP (649km) must be by aircraft reflection. These appear random as there are many so many aircraft on this route.

UPDATE 1254z:  No further 8m spots.

UPDATE 1820z:  Just 2 G spots of my QRP.  Aircraft scatter?

10m QRP WSPR (Wednesday)

The 500mW WSPR TX beacon was turned on just after breakfast. At 0932z, 3 stations spotted. Apart from a local, these look like F2.

UPDATE 1250z: 
 6 stations have spotted me, mostly via F2 I think.

Sunspots - Wednesday August 23rd 2023

 Solar flux is 151 and the SSN 96.  A=8 and K=1.

22 Aug 2023

Crab apple jelly - NOT amateur radio

Last year we had hardly any crabapples. This year we have loads. The photo shows the crop from our one tree. 

My plan is to make some crabapple jelly as my wife and I love it with pork chops. 

More people on 10m WSPR?

This is definitely not scientific. My impression is that there are more people monitoring 10m WSPR than last year. This year it is not unusual to have spots from over 20 stations in a day. There were far fewer last year as I recall. 

Electric cars - NOT amateur radio

 Every day on social media I seem to get most ads about electric cars. I am interested, but feel we are not quite there yet. Prices are too high. Range is too short. Lithium is in short supply,. Charging away from home takes too long and there are too few charging points. Prices need to be halved, ranges doubled, and a technology that does not require slave labour is needed. 2027?

8m QRP FT8 (Tuesday)

As 6m looked encouraging, I went on 8m FT8 QRP at about 0830z.

UPDATE 1040z: Quite a strong (for me!) spot by HC02 (1808km) in Portugal. 

UPDATE  2018z: In the end, 3 stations spotted my QRP 8m FT8 today. QRT soon.

Dawn - NOT amateur radio

This was the view out of our lounge window at 0500z this morning. 

10m QRP WSPR TX (Tuesday)

It looks like G4KPX (14km) is monitoring as I have already been spotted with my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon. It is only now 0516z!

UPDATE 2011z:   
19 stations have spotted me today.

6m QRP FT8 (Tuesday)

Today, I am currently on 50.313 MHz vertical on FT8 with my 2.5W. Already 2 G spots of me shortly after 0500z. My antenna is the V2000 vertical omni. 

UPDATE 0729z:
10 spots of my QRP so far.

8m between seasons

My experimental licence has been held since April 2022. So, I have experienced two Es seasons and F2 last autumn and winter. My 2.5W to a low dipole has been copied widely in Europe by Es and in the USA, Caribbean and Canada by F2. 

On RX I have spotted S.Africans on several occasions. In the autumn it would be great to be copied in South Africa with my QRP FT8. Last summer was disappointing with fewer active TX stations than in 2022.

At the moment, we are between seasons. The big Es openings have all but ended and F2 has not really started. Better equipped stations are tapping in to TEP either directly or with F2 linking up with Es.

Overall, I am disappointed in 8m. I was hoping there would be far more activity by now, but if anything there are fewer stations active on TX. Where are the experimenters?

Sunspots - Tuesday August 22nd 2023

 Solar flux is 149 and the SSN 102. A=9 and K=2. 

21 Aug 2023

Dahlias - NOT amateur radio


The dahlia garden at nearby Anglesey Abbey is now open. These are some of them. 

The area in front of the dahlias is grassed and this gets very churned up after wet weather.

The next solar peak

In the past, there has been a lot of doubt and uncertainty over the timing of this. The site I mostly use has been predicting the next maximum in November or December 2023 for some time. 

Quite often we get a second peak after the first. What is clear from other cycles is that conditions could be good for several years after the peak. 

In the past I have worked stations in Argentina on QRP 10m SSB when the sunspot count right at the minimum has been zero. Quite often 10m propagation is there but there is a lack of activity. With FT8, we can now monitor the higher bands and see. Stand alone 5W FT8 transceivers for 10m can be obtained quite inexpensively freeing up "the big rig".

See https://www.solen.info/solar/images/comparison_similar_cycles.png .

Said on FaceBook in 2012 - NOT amateur radio

This was said by me on FaceBook in 2012. Nothing changes!

Bill and Ben - NOT amateur radio

If you are of a certain age (old) in the UK you may remember the TV show for children called "Bill and Ben". In it, two flower pot men were accompanied by a little weed. 

This sunflower poking over a wall on our walk yesterday reminded me! 

8m QRP FT8 (Monday)

My 2.5W gear was turned on just before breakfast. 

UPDATE 2112z:  No spots all day.  My inclination is to concentrate on QRP 10m FT8 for now. If I go on 8m QRP FT8 I must remember to try 10m QRP WSPR TX with my 500mW TX beacon. Now QRT. If anyone needs me on 8m I can be active on 40.680 MHz FT8 TX in minutes.

10m QRP WSPR TX (Monday)

My 500mW 10m WSPR TX beacon was turned on just before breakfast. So far, 2 stations have spotted me.

UPDATE 1355z: 4 stations have spotted me. Most of these look like F2. 

UPDATE 1730z: 
6 stations have spotted me.

UPDATE 2100z:
10 stations spotted me in the end. QRT now.

Sunspots - Monday August 21st 2023

Sunspot numbers seem to be a bit lower this month. 

Solar flux is 146 and the SSN 93. A=11 and K=2. 

20 Aug 2023

OFCOM consultation on amateur radio

A reminder that OFCOM is consulting views on amateur radio.The deadline for responses is rapidly approaching, so make your views known ASAP.

See https://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations-and-statements/category-2/updating-amateur-radio-licensing-framework

There is a form if you need it to help make a response. At a guess, just 10 minutes should allow the form to be completed. 

This is important.

10m QRP WSPR TX (Sunday)

At 1346z, my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon was turned on. 

UPDATE 1709z: 4 stations have spotted me. 3 are outside the UK.

8m QRP FT8 (Sunday)

 At about 1340z I switched to 8m QRP FT8 on 40.680 MHz. So far, no spots. I gather there is some TEP. 

UPDATE 1625z: Spotted by EI9KP (649km), I am pretty sure this is not Es . He spots me regularly. As the time varies, I do not think it is aircraft. I suppose it could be random MS, but think this unlikely. It is too far for tropo.

UPDATE 1906z:  The jury is out on the propagation to EI9KP , but it is most likely aircraft scatter. What I had not thought about is that there could be many aircraft on the path.

Classic Car Day - NOT amateur radio

Every year, the museum next door holds a classic car day. It was filled with vintage cars and motorbikes. 

Like radio amateurs, most are geeks!! A very good turn out. The weather was warm and dry.

Getting maudlin - NOT amateur radio

This must come with old age. 

As we get older, we know our time is limited. Certainly it is highly likely that our health will fail. So, every chance to do a walk is a gift to be enjoyed. 

Today we saw, a green woodpecker, blackberries, Ely cathedral and lots more.

TINY Shetland ponies - NOT amateur radio

It is hard to get an impression of size from this photo of Shetland ponies seen on our walk earlier. We walked around the village of Reach.

10m QRP FT8 (Sunday)

My 2.5W FT8 was turned on at 0524z. No spots at 0532z. 

UPDATE 0932z:  28 stations have spotted my 2.5W FT8.  124 stations spotted on RX with the furthermost  YG9EDE (12436km).

Sunspots - Sunday August 20th 2023

Solar flux is 151 and the SSN 104. A=8 and K=3.

19 Aug 2023

8m QRP FT8 (Saturday)

My QRP signal has been copied in Portugal this evening by Hugh HC02, although this has not appeared (yet) on PSKreporter. I went on 8m FT8 as Hugh was getting G9PUV well.

10m QRP WSPR TX (Saturday)

 As I am on 8m QRP FT8, I am on 10m WSPR TX with my 500mW TX beacon. The beacon was turned o at about 1814z. Already spotted in the Canary Is.. I presume this is F2 propagation.

8m - am I wasting my time?

To be honest, I am disappointed in the interest shown in 8m. This is between 10m and 6m and especially around sunspot maximum (like now) there is a lot of useful research that radio amateurs could do. 

Instead, we have had fewer active TX stations on 8m this summer and the FCC is not renewing the few USA permits I understand. In Belgium higher class amateur licencees will be able to TX on 8m. One station in Greece has been granted special access for a limited time. EI, ZS, S51 and 9A I think have amateur bands and a few Caribbean stations (I think) have been given access to 8m.

In most countries everyone is able to run very low power beacons in the 40-66-4.70 MHz ISM bands without a licence, I think. We know from Australia that just 5mW WSPR can be copied 5000km away. As far as I know, few have tried 8m WSPR ISM beacons, instead preferring to talk about tomatoes with commercial rigs on 80m. Self training is interpreted as testing weedkiller. 

Amateur radio is meant to be about self training and research! I despair for the future. At this rate, the hobby will be gone by 2040.

Weather last night - NOT amateur radio

We had 11mm of rain overnight, but no thunder. It is now sunny. 

10m QRP FT8 (Saturday)

 My 2.5W 10m FT8 was turned on at about 0600z. 

UPDATE 0819z:  So far spotted by 26 stations with the furthermost V51MA (8460km) in Namibia. On RX, 62 stations spotted.

UPDATE 2100z:   149 stations have spotted my 2.5W QRP 10m FT8 today.

Sunspots - Saturday August 19th 2023

 Solar flux is 151 and the SSN 112. A=11 and K=2. 

18 Aug 2023

Storm tonight? - NOT amateur radio

In East Anglia there is thunder, lightning and heavy rain due overnight. Quite often we miss the worst. Just in case, I have disconnected antennas, PSUs and PCs. Some areas are due to get nearly 2 weeks of rain in just a few hours. Better check the rain gauge tomorrow!

See https://www.lightningmaps.org/#m=oss;t=3;s=0;o=0;b=;ts=0;z=5;y=49.6529;x=1.597;d=2;dl=2;dc=0; .e

ICOM IC-905 GHz transceiver review

The latest RadCom has a review of this ICOM microwave transceiver. 

At £3549.95 without the 10 GHz transverter I cannot see them selling many, let alone make a profit. It would not surprise me if this product quietly disappeared in 2024. There is a theory that this product is a free trial for a later commercial product. Watch this space.

It is an interesting product, but would you pay this much to cover essentially line of site and rain scatter QSOs? Perhaps "appliance operators" with deep pockets might buy as the latest toy.  This is not for me unless a fairy godmother waves her magic wand, HI.

HF, 8m and 6m

 Well, today was pathetic on 8m FT8 and 10m WSPR. 

The main Es season has now ended and the main F2 peak is a few months off. Most of my reports recently on 10m, 8m and 6m with QRP were via Es. 

These openings will occur, but not with the frequency we were used to in May, June and July. Probably 10m FT8 is worth a try as there is far more activity than WSPR. Also, the far shorter TX periods of just 15 seconds means that very short openings may be caught. FT8 is about 8dB worse than WSPR mind you.

OFCOM reminders

This is a weekly reminder that OFCOM updates the data it holds on licences etc. every week. They also have a new publication about 28 GHz satellite gateways. As always, look on the OFCOM website for details.

Anglesey Abbey roses - NOT amateur radio

The roses at nearby Anglesey Abbey are in their second flush and look stunning. The dahlia garden there also now open  ..... at last.

8m QRP FT8 (Friday)

Been on with 2.5W and the dipole since about 0856z, but no spots. 

UPDATE 1627z:   No spots all day again.

10m QRP WSPR (Friday)

Been on 10m 500mW WSPR TX since about 0856z. No spots. 

UPDATE 1304z:  So far, 3 stations spotting me. These look like F2 and not Es.

UPDATE 1840z:  It looks like there was a very late E s opening. 13 unique stations have spotted me. Most of these were just before I went QRT.

Sunspots - Friday August 18th 2023

Solar flux is 152 and the SSN 135. A=8 and K=2. 

17 Aug 2023

Poking over the fence - NOT amateur radio

This rose was poking its head over the fence.

Rallies this weekend

The following have been notified to me. It is advisable to check details are correct.

Sunday August  20th - Rugby Amateur Transmitting Society Rally, Rugby, CV23 9PY. Contact rally@rugbyats.co.uk .

Sunday August 20th - Lincoln Short Wave Club Summer Rally,  Marken Rasen, LN8 3HT. Contact m5zzz@outlook.com  .

Sunday August 20th - Red Rose Summer Rally, Leigh, WN7 2PJ. See http://www.wmrc.co.uk  .

8m QRP FT8 (Thursday)

Once again, I am on 8m QRP FT8 on 40.680 MHz USB dial. Most days even my 2.5W to the dipole is spotted across Europe by about 3 stations.

UPDATE 1740z:   No spots.

European Es season

It looks like the main Es season in the northern hemisphere is just about over but, as I remind people, Es can occur at any time. OK, the days when 10m or 6m may be open for hours may be over for this year, but there will still be times.

This is why FT8 can be so useful, sniffing out very brief openings that in the past would have gone unnoticed. Frequently, the 27 MHz CB band is busy, yet 10m is quiet. This suggests decent propagation, but a lack of activity. These days, there is little excuse. Just 15 seconds of FT8 transmission is all that is needed to prove a path is "open".

See https://www.tvcomm.co.uk/g7izu/radio-propagation-maps/europe-sporadic-e/

10m 500mW WSPR TX (Thursday)

My QRP 10m WSPR beacon was turned on at about 0850z. No spots yet.

UPDATE 1034z:  Just spots by local G4KPX (14km). No Es.

UPDATE 1741z:  Spotted by 3 stations. Marginal conditions.

Sunspots - Thursday August 17th 2023

 Solar flux is 180 and the SSN 140.  A=8 and K=1.

16 Aug 2023

ATS120 Receiver

This is a handheld radio available from AliExpress for less than £67. I have no idea how good it is. The Chinese will soon will be a real challenge to the Japanese in the years ahead. In my view the Chinese have more work to do on quality control, but they will get there.

Any ideas? - NOT amateur radio

Most definitely I am no flower expert! We saw this on our walk this morning. It had flowers about 5cm long. I expect some expert will say it is "common xxx" and they are widespread!!