18 Jul 2024

OFCOM crappery?

 Today I got this from OFCOM. I preferred the GPO. As you can tell, I am not a great fan.

“Ofcom has today published a consultation on its General Policy on Information Gathering.

As an evidence-based regulator, the ability to obtain information to inform our work is fundamental to our role.

The primary purpose of the policy is to make clear to stakeholders how we intend to exercise our powers under legislation where we are required to publish this policy.

We are proposing to update our existing policy - first published in 2005 - to reflect our current practices and powers in this area.

In summary, we plan to:

  • expand the general policy to cover new information gathering powers and clarify its scope;
  • update and clarify the text to reflect our experience of issuing statutory information notices;
  • provide further detail on how we will handle statutory information notices (including in relation to the role of the Information Registry, the use of information provided voluntarily, the use of draft notices, and the disclosure of information and confidentiality); and
  • clarify our approach to enforcement and what we expect from stakeholders when responding to a statutory information notice.

We are inviting feedback on our proposals which must be submitted by 30 September. Taking account of responses, we will aim to publish our final policy later this year.”

What makes me think this is now a QUANGO that has lost its way?

In the days of the GPO I was inspected several times. Since it became OFCOM, I have not been inspected ever.


Upcoming rallies

 The following rallies have been notified to me. It is always advisable to check details with organisers before going a long way. All are on Sunday.

Bury St Edmunds Radio Rally - Rougham Tower Museum, IP32 7QB.  Contact rally2024@bsears.co.uk .

Finningley ARS Rally 2024 Sandcraft, Doncaster, DN8 5SX. Contact kevin.avery@tunstall.com or martin.m0hom@gmail.com .

Need to update scrapbook

My scrapbook needs updating. I shall do this in the coming weeks and make sure the link on my website points to the latest version. I think the main changes are I now have a QMX+ and having a bundle of fun. There may be some other things that need updating.

Donovan's, Kingsbridge, Devon - NOT amateur radio

Kingsbridge is where I lived as a teenager.  Most of the shops are on a steep hill. One of these is Donovan's that sells mainly furniture. I think it dates back to the mid 1800s. Since I was young (a long time ago!), it has not changed much and I hope it doesn't. This photo was taken a few weeks ago when I was down there staying with my brother.

Peak of solar cycle 25?

The last published figure for the peak of solar cycle 25 was June 2024 (smoothed). Since then we have had high sunspot numbers and flux and it would not surprise me if this moved later. 

What is certain is we are seeing some great conditions, so enjoy them!

See https://www.solen.info/solar/ .

Early 10m Es


My QMX+ was on 10m QRP FT8 early (0500z) and already I have had 23 spots all across Europe presumably via Es. It is very easy to miss these very early morning openings.

UPDATE 0930z:  So far I have been spotted on 10m FT8 QRP by 53 stations. The furthermost on 10m FT8 RX is VK6RK (14469km).

UPDATE 1302z:  73 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX today with the QMX+.

UPDATE 1638z: 303 spots of my 10m QRP FT8  with my QMX+ in the last day (see map).

UPDATE 2053z:  QRT. 412 stations have spotted me on 10m QRP FT8 in the last day.

Sunspots - Thursday July 18th

 Solar flux is 224 and the SSN 275. A=5 and K=1.

17 Jul 2024

Hollyhocks - NOT amateur radio

We have quite a few of these flowers in our front garden. They look splendid, but then go rusty and look a mess. They also self-seed and are very hard to get rid of! 

Once they have flowered it is better to cut them back before the seeds scatter.

We call them "triffids".  Just imagine if they could walk!! If you are thinking about planting any, think hard.

Sunny at last! - NOT amateur radio

In all my years, I cannot remember a worst summer. Until yesterday it was cold, dull and wet. 

Today we have warm sunshine! It makes you feel so much better. It is only expected to last a few days. Well, I suppose we have to be grateful for having any summer here in the UK. 😀

10m QRP WSPR TX (Wednesday)


As the 10m antenna is free when I am on 6m, I decided to try 500mW 10m WSPR with my 10m WSPR beacon. No spots at all after about an hour.


6m QRP FT8 (Wednesday)

Just before lunch I went on 6m FT8 with the QMX+. So far, 11 stations have spotted me including one in the south of Spain. Nothing spotted on RX, which is surprising.

UPDATE 1222z:  Just a single G spotted today on 6m FT8 RX.

QMX+ start-up

Since adjusting upwards I have had no problems whatsoever with the WSJT-X audio levels on my QMX+ rig on 6m and 10m. 

Using Windows 10 I am still having issues with the PC recognising the QMX+. This may well be a Windows 10 issue and I have still not worked out the order in which things have to be connected and turned on.  Once I fully understand this it should not be an issue going forward. 

All I know is this problem does not occur with my SignalOne USB from Tigertronics, which just works every time.

Overall the QMX+ is very good, but it would be even better not having to struggle every time.

10m QRP FT8 (Wednesday)

 In all, my QRP 10m FT8 has been spotted by 5 stations. These seem to be via Es.

UPDATE 0937z: My QRP FT8 spotted by 11 stations including ZS4ZO (9235km).

UPDATE 1405z:  12 stations have spotted me in the last 30 minutes.  Best DX is a spot from South Africa again.

UPDATE  1832z:  77 stations have spotted me on 10m QRP TX (see map) and 107 stations spotted here on 10m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 2125z: Still lots of Es spots of my QRP even though it’s very late.



Muntjac deer - NOT amateur radio


 These dog sized, introduced deer are a real menace eating many garden plants. One of our neighbours is trying to keep them at bay by planting these!

Sunspots - Wednesday July 17th

 Solar flux is 242 and the SSN 250. A=10 and K=1.

16 Jul 2024

QMX+ oddity

 After about 4 hours with no spots of me on TX, I noticed the QMX+ display had an "s" after the VFO A frequency and no power, suggesting the TX had detected a high SWR and inhibited TX. A little while before I had been successfully TXing on both 10m and 6m FT8 and I knew the SWR was good. I feared the PAs had been blown, but could not understand how this could be with a good SWR and several diodes in the supply line.

In desperation, I thought I should turn off the QMX+ and turn it on again. At first the QMX+ sound cards were not recognised. I unplugged the USB cable, waited a decent while (20secs?) and reconnected it. Power was immediately visible and on 6m FT8 I was spotted all over Europe. It was NOT the PAs (thankfully) so must have been the firmware.  I think there is another possible bug.

UPDATE 1930z:  49 spots of my QRP FT8 this evening on 6m with the QMX+. It is a good rig, but there are still (I think) a few teething problems.

6m QRP FT8 with the QMX+ (Tuesday)

Spots of my QRP 6m  FT8 this afternoon

Just one station spotted so far on RX - G3XDV (45km) and 11 spots of my QRP FT8 TX using the V2000 vertical omni antenna (see map of spots of me).  No Es spotted today. 

10m QRP FT8 with the QMX+ (Tuesday)

So far this afternoon my QRP FT8 has been spotted by 13 stations with the furthermost ZS4ZO (9235km). On RX the furthermost are a couple of stations in Brazil.

QMX+ audio levels - success!

Using PuTTY on Windows 10 I increased the audio settings in digital modes on 10m and 6m FT8 on my QMX+.  

The audio level on FT8 with WSJT-X is now comfortably in the green whereas it was low and in the red as delivered. 

Perhaps Hans should increase the default audio levels on higher bands? By default it was set to 54 on all bands and I have adjusted 10m and 6m to 99. It certainly works. I was getting 10m FT8 spots before even with the level still in the red.

The QMX+ is a great radio.

PuTTY issues solved in the end (I think)

It looks like I have solved the problems I have had with PuTTY.  As I mentioned yesterday, I am a total PC dummy and have never had occasion to use a terminal emulator before. I looked for guidance on the internet and was taken to a Computer Weekly page that was (for me) useless gobbledegook. 

In total fairness to Hans of QRP Labs, I think the instructions in the QMX (not QMX+) operating manual are very clear for Linux users, but perhaps a few words for Windows users would make things totally clear that you have to choose "serial" and put in the COM port number. Also, I had to plug the USB cable in after waiting about 10 seconds for the QMX+ to be recognised (I think!).  

Once I quit PuTTY I shall see if the new audio levels are better on the higher bands.

European Es - Scandinavia again

This is, I am sure, more than coincidence as I have seen this pattern for many years. Scandinavian countries dominate. Es is not exclusively Scandinavian stations, but these are far more common than earlier in the Es season here. It is almost like there is some other Es mechanism in play.

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

US politics - NOT amateur radio

In the end I have come to the conclusion that I do not understand US politics at all. 

I am sure the Republicans say ill of the Democrats and vice versa. I am sure we hear the political propaganda from both sides, but it is impossible to know that facts. 


One thing is certain: gun crime in the USA is far, far higher than here in the UK and I blame the lax gun laws over there (see graph). 

UPDATE 1429z: If Mr Trump gets in again, the most likely route is USA isolationism. I do not mind that the USA stops being "the policeman of the world", but I can sense dangers over Ukraine, Taiwan and Israel.

Sunspots - Tuesday July 16th

 Solar flux is 233 and the SSN 205. A=6 and K=3.

15 Jul 2024

10m QRP FT8 (Monday)

Quite late in the afternoon, I went on 10m QRP FT8  with my QMX+ rig. On TX, spots from eastern Europe and on RX spots from Europe, Africa and South America.

UPDATE 1804z:  So far, 37 spots of my QRP 10m FT8 with the furthermost VP8NO (12273km) in the Falkland Islands. See map.

UPDATE 2142z: 121 spots of my QRP FT8 on 10m. This is very good considering I did not start until late afternoon. Now QRT.

European Es : not over yet

Looking at the Es reports in Europe, it looks like we are still seeing plentiful Es in Europe. My motto is stick with the higher HF bands and lower VHF looking for Es.

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

Pye PF70

One of my early jobs in the labs at Pye Telecom was rebanding the PF70 to the band that included 2m. This involved optimising coils and capacitors. 

In the end I was in development for nearly 40 years before I retired. I used to come home and say my work was my hobby. Mostly it was great fun and I enjoyed it.

Plans for today

Today I have several aims:

  • Sort out PuTTY so I can increase the audio level on FT8 using my QMX+.
  • Try the QMX+ on 6m FT8.
  • Try the QMX+ (again) on 10m FT8.
UPDATE 1937z:  I failed!  In the end I just went on 10m QRP FT8. That's the problem with being retired: there is always tomorrow. Things can wait.

Cars - NOT amateur radio

There were several vintage cars at our local museum and windmill on Sunday.

See  https://burwellmuseum.org.uk/ .


Bikes at the windmill - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday it was briefly sunny and these bikers 🚴 enjoyed a visit to the windmill next door.

By the way, this is our hedge in the front.

472kHz transverter breadboard

This photo from many years ago shows me breadboarding my 472kHz transverter.

UPDATE 0812z:  In the early autumn, I shall try again on 472kHz WSPR. Last season was very successful despite the low ERP.

PuTTY trouble

I am sure it’s finger trouble on my part, but I have never used a terminal emulator on Windows 10 before or any machine, so what should be easy with my QMX+ seems very hard for a PC idiot like me! 

One of my challenges today is to find out what I need to do to get it working. It can not be hard. It does not help that my brain gets so fuddled.

Sunspots - Monday July 15th

 Solar flux is 234 and the SSN 217. A=5 and K=1.

The recent uptick in solar activity must have pushed the peak of solar cycle 25 into later this year.

14 Jul 2024

Experiments with the QMX+

 At the moment, I am testing my QMX+ transceiver on 15m and 10m QRP FT8. I am still experimenting to see what sequence I have to use to get the QMX+ soundcards to be recognised by the Windows 10 PC.  Currently it works fine although I cannot remember the sequence in which I plugged things in!!  

Also, the audio levels need increasing on the higher bands. This can be done by putting the PC in terminal mode and adjusting some numbers. I have yet to do this.

Overall, I think the QMX+ is a good rig. It will be even better when I adjust the audio levels on the higher bands.

European Es season

Usually, the Es season in Europe goes "off the boil" about now. Es can occur at any time of the year, although the peak times are in spring and early summer.

It is interesting that most of my spots on 10m QRP FT8 this morning were probably F2.

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

Gun culture - NOT amateur radio

This morning, we see on the news that Donald Trump narrowly missed an attempt on his life.

The USA has a gun culture and a very high death rate due to guns. It is sad that political candidates cannot give their "pitch" without the fear of being shot.

Patio - NOT amateur radio

We have managed to have coffee or meals outside very few times this year as it has been dull and wet. 

The photo shows our patio today. 

10m QRP FT8 (Sunday)

At 0808z my 2.5W 10m FT8 had been spotted by 33 stations in the last 12 hours with the furthermost 9K2OD (4637km) in Kuwait. 63 stations have been spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1310z:  93 stations have spotted my 10m 2.5W FT8 today. 

UPDATE 1847z: 218 stations have spotted my 10m QRP FT8 today.  See map.

Sunspots - Sunday July 14th

 Solar flux is 238 and the SSN 214. A=4 and K=1.

13 Jul 2024

Nearly forgot!

Just now I sent off my entry for the 70cm activity contest last Tuesday. It would appear that interest in this contest is waning. I managed 1 QSO, then I gave up. 

Looking at the waterfall on my RX, it would appear there were fewer people active. This is a pity, although it is far easier on 70cm FT8.

Much as I enjoy FT8 and WSPR, I am sure these will be partly to blame for the slow death of amateur radio as we knew it.  

As a youngster, I discovered amateur radio by listening to locals on 160m AM and DX on 15m AM. These opportunities no longer exist as people can chat in a multitude of ways for free without a licence using the internet. Talking to friends across the world even by video is commonplace.

It is my view that amateur radio as we knew it will cease in the next 20 years.

QMX+ SSB

A few moments ago I watched the RSGB's Webinar with Hans Summers about the QMX+ transceiver. It was a very good session and underlines just how bright Hans is. I was impressed.

In the webinar Hans mentioned that high on his priority list was implementing SSB on the QMX and QMX+ transceivers and that he hoped to do this within weeks or months. He is a busy man! This will be done via a firmware update. There is already an internal mic fitted although an external mic/PTT may be used.

As mentioned earlier, the RSGB is doing a series of Webinars on various subjects. See tonight@8 on the RSGB channel on YouTube or watch live.

10m QRP FT8 (Saturday)

At 0903z, 12 spots of my 2.5W 10m FT8.  I have noticed this before:  Scandinavians tend to dominate late in the Es season. Is this just coincidence or is there something going on? 

UPDATE 1302z:   32 stations have spotted my QRP 10m FT8 including one in the USA.

Stations spotted
here on 10m FT8
RX at 1633z
UPDATE 1630z:
208 stations spotted here today. See map. 92 stations have spotted my 2.5W 10m QRP FT8.

UPDATE 1734z:  304 stations have been spotted here on 10m FT8 in the last day.

Saturn - NOT amateur radio

This amazing NASA photo shows Saturn from a space probe.


Cambourne or Great Cambourne - NOT amateur radio?

Yesterday the first post box in the UK with the moniker of King Charles III was formally unveiled in Cambourne, Cambridgeshire. 

According to the BBC this is called "Great Cambourne" although I have never heard this name used before.   To locals it is known simply as Cambourne.


QMX+ video on YouTube

The RSGB does a series called Tonight@8. Recently, it featured the QMX+ rig from QRP Labs designed by Hans Summers G0UPL.



Sunspots - Saturday July 13th

 Solar flux is 210 and the SSN 162.  A=6 and K=1.

12 Jul 2024

Interesting space photo - NOT amateur radio

This photo appeared on “The Knowledge “ earlier although I think it was on Flickr before. It shows sunrise from the ISS.

MLS announce new portable

MLS has announced a new ICOM hand portable to coincide with ICOM's 60th anniversary. 

£619.99 for a hand portable? Hmm.  A lot more than I would pay, although I expect some will pay up for a fairly unique transceiver. Look for the ID-52 anniversary edition. 

See https://www.hamradio.co.uk/id-52-plus .

Favourable exchange rates

 I notice that the pound is very strong against the Japanese Yen. It has also got a lot better against the US Dollar.

On the face of this we should expect useful reductions in the price of Japanese gear. Alternatively, dealers can make a greater profit.

Wild flowers - NOT amateur radio

 

This is a recent photo from my son of wild flowers.

We had a patch of wild flowers just outside the windmill next door, but it is not so good this year.

10m QRP FT8 (Friday)

Today at 0751z 68 stations have already spotted me with the furthermost V51MA (8460km). 

UPDATE 1052z:   115 stations have spotted my 10m QRP FT8 this morning. These include Africa, North and South America and Europe. Interestingly, no spots in Asia.

UPDATE 1335z:  186 spots of my QRP 10m FT8  in the last day. See map.

Sunspots - Friday July 12th

 Solar flux is 205 and the SSN 188. A=6 and K=2.

11 Jul 2024

Upcoming Rallies

 The following have been notified to me. Always check with organisers if travelling far.  All are on Sunday July 14th.

Blackberries - NOT amateur radio

In the lane next to our house there is a blackberry bush laden with blackberries. In a few weeks they will be great. 

There are already some ripe (see photo).

Swallows (barn swallows) - NOT amateur radio

A few years ago, these birds that migrate here in the spring and summer from southern Africa were common. It was not unusual to see a few on the telegraph wires. Although they are still seen, they seem to be far more  localised. We still have plenty of swifts locally despite many nest sites going and I have seen house and sand martins.

I guess the time will come when some decide to over-winter. I think some have tried in the past but succumbed to the lack of insects. As winters get shorter and milder with climate change, I can see some patterns changing.

Electric cars - NOT amateur radio

Let me say from the outset that I do NOT have an electric car.  

In my view, we are not yet at the tipping point when the price drops considerably, the range is considerably improved, there are plentiful charging points and the batteries do not need expensive materials to be mined. Give it just a few years and petrol and diesel vehicles will look as out of date as CRTs and film cameras.

Having said that, it is noticeable how much more common electric cars have become. Just a few years ago on a trip to Cambridge I might have seen 2. Now to see 8 is quite common. This is probably due to several factors. The energy crisis has caused people to question fossil fuelled vehicles, especially if you can charge at home overnight on a good tariff. Secondly, more recent cars are more likely to include electric cars. My estimate is the ratio of fossil fueled to electric cars is about 100:1.

My next car may well be electric as long as we move away from lithium, the range improves considerably and the price comes well down. For now I shall carry on with my recent diesel car.

By the way, I am fully in favour of a new road tax in which the further you travel, the more you pay. This would seem a fair way of taxing everyone and encourage the use of public transport. Maybe fossil fuels should be discouraged by taxing them more heavily and subsidising electric vehicles?

10m QRP FT8 (Thursday)

Already my 10m 2.5W FT8 has been spotted by 16 stations. In the last day 113 stations spotted me from across the world.

UPDATE 1354z:  Spotted by 214 stations on 4 continents (see map) just today.

Sunspots - Thursday July 11th

 Solar flux is 214 and the SSN 190. A=6 and K=1.

10 Jul 2024

Lunch with old work colleagues - NOT amateur radio

Quite regularly, a group of old work colleagues meet up for lunch. A regular attendee is a lady who is over 100 years old. She is still as sharp as ever.

10m QRP FT8 (Wednesday)

My main concentration is 10m FT8 with 2.5W today. At 0917z my QRP signal has been spotted by 33 stations across Europe. 23 stations spotted on 10m FT8 RX too at the same time.

UPDATE 1451z:  65 stations have spotted me and I have spotted about twice as many here. See map for the stations spotting my QRP today so far.

10m 500mW WSPR

My QRP 10m WSPR beacon was on and I was quite surprised to get spots from Germany way after midnight. Es is more common in daylight. Perhaps there are more people on in the daytime?

Solar cycle 25 peak

 According to my favourite site for solar data, the maximum for solar cycle 25 was probably June 2024 i.e. quite recently.

8m permanent amateur allocations

 Around the world, several nations have granted radio amateurs permanent access to the 8m band. Others have granted experimental licences. Being between 10m and 6m this would be a really useful small allocation for propagation research.

To my knowledge, the following have granted radio amateurs permanent access. My list may well be incomplete:

  • Eire
  • Slovenia
  • Belgium
  • South Africa
  • Cayman Is.

Others are trying,  Maybe this is a trend that will continue. 

Countries that I know have been active (not in the Amateur Radio Service) include:

  • Croatia
  • Latvia
  • Luxembourg
  • UK
  • Falklands
  • Bonaire
  • USA
  • Australia
  • Israel
  • Lebanon
  • Italy
  • Greece
There are probably many more. I don't think Croatia has a permanent amateur allocation.

Sunspots - Wednesday July 10th

 Solar flux is 180 and the SSN 143. A=6 and K=1.

9 Jul 2024

8m QRP FT8 (Tuesday)


According to the European Es map, it looks like bands are open towards Spain, so I am active on 40.680 MHz with my 2.5W FT8.

UPDATE 1510z:  No spots.

UPDATE  1540z:  Spotted by EA3ERE (1153km). No QSOs.

UPDATE 1626z:   One QSO with a different Spanish station. Many Spanish stations copied on 8m FT8 RX.

UPDATE  1740z:   S01WS (3043km) in Western Sahara is the furthermost I have copied on 8m FT8 RX with a total of 10 stations spotted on 8m FT8 RX. The map shows the stations spotted on 8m FT8  RX.

4m transverter

Looking through some old photos I chanced on this one of my 4m transverter. 

There’s no way I could do this now with my poor fine motor skills.

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/vhfuhfmicrowaves/homebrew/4m-transverter .

6m QRP FT8 (Tuesday)

About 1030z, I went on 6m FT8 with my 2.5W.  

163 stations had spotted me at 1327z. See map.

Do we never learn from history? - NOT amateur radio


One thing seems to be certain: we never, ever learn from history!  

In the last few years we have had destructive wars in Ukraine and Gaza. 

I am pretty sure my ancestors manned an Iron Age fort near Hope Cove where we can trace our family back to the mid 1500s. The photo shows Hope Cove and the Iron Age fort at Bolt Tail.

Sadly war and fighting seem to be part of the human condition.

10m QRP FT8 (Tuesday)

My 2.5W 10m FT8 was turned on abour 0645z. At 0815z 33 stations had spotted me with the furthermost OD5KU (3468km). 47 stations spotted on RX.  All spots were European on RX.

Can you hear and understand me? - NOT amateur radio

On two occasions recently I have discovered that when I speak (what sounds perfectly fine to me) is not at all clear to others. I guess my wife know what I say now.

Those that know me are not embarrassed and ask me to repeat. Those that don't know me don't know how to react. This is one reason I tend not to engage in casual chitchat. It is fine if I am understood,  but just not worth the effort if I have to repeat myself. Writing is fine, whereas talking is far harder.

My stroke was September 2013, but poor speech is still one of my handicaps. I get exhausted very quickly which people just cannot understand.

What I find really frustrating is arguing a point. When I know something is not correct I find it very very difficult to get my point across.

Sunspots - Tuesday July 9th

 Solar flux is 169 and the SSN 90. A=10 and K=2.

8 Jul 2024

10m FT8 (Monday)

Stations spotting my
10m 2.5W FT8 today
49 stations have spotted my 2.5W 10m FT8 today. 

Stations spotted here
today on 10m FT8
Furthermost on QRP TX was PY1SX (9306km).  

On RX furthermost is LU1WCL (12666km) with 276 stations spotted.

Birthday boy - NOT amateur radio

My wife has known Sue since school days very many years ago.  I think it is 63 years! Her husband has his birthday today. 

They stayed the night on their way to a holiday cottage in Suffolk.

QMX+

Although RX audio levels may be adjusted in the configuration menu Hans thinks he may be able to alter the level using the volume control in digital modes. We shall have to see if this appears as a feature in a later update of software/firmware. It would certainly be more convenient.

Peterborough fruit and vegetables - NOT amateur radio

Last Thursday we visited Peterborough. The photo shows the fruit and vegetables on a stall outside a shop.

Oscar 100 geosynchronous


Usually I give an update on this satellite by looking at activity levels on the narrowband transponder using the web SDR at Goonhilly in Cornwall, UK. The last time I looked was on Sunday afternoon in Europe when I would have expected activity to be at its best. 

Sadly, there were few stations active. I can well believe people like assembling a ground station, then lose interest. As I have said before, with more black boxes, activity might have been higher. Personally I prefer experimentation. Sadly my poor fine motor skills prevent me making a ground station these days. In the past I would have done so.

See https://eshail.batc.org.uk/nb/ .

Sunspots- Monday July 8th

 Solar flux is 171 and the SSN 119. A=8 and K=2..

7 Jul 2024

The changing nature of amateur radio

This is perhaps because I am older now, but my perspective on amateur radio has changed. This weekend in the UK is VHF NFD. I went on 70cm SSB briefly yesterday afternoon to work a local and have not been on since. At one time I would have been really keen.

Operating SSB and FM no longer give me great pleasure and chasing DX on all bands has lost its thrall. Much operation has moved to FT8 and fewer people use amateur radio for chatting.

Many are plagued with high local noise levels. Up to now, this has not been a real problem here. although I am aware of noise levels as high as 70cm getting worse.

Overall, I am more interested in seeing where my QRP signal reaches and far less interested in 2-way contacts.

10m FT8 (Sunday)

Stations spotted on
10m FT8 RX today
Until I fix the issues with 10m FT8 on the QMX+ I am using my FT817ND. So far, my 2.5W has been spotted by 13 stations mostly in Europe and I have spotted 33 stations here including quite a few in South America (see map).

We have friends staying, so I cannot pay attention to my QMX+ at the moment. After they have gone I shall see what I can do.

UPDATE  1417z:  Spotted by LU1DX (11410km).

European Es (Sunday)

The Es season in Europe seems to be continuing. Peak months are May, June and July.  With FT8 and WSPR, I expect quite a few spots though August and beyond.

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

Bowringsleigh - NOT amateur radio


The weekend before last my brother in Devon had his church fete in the grounds of this fine house shown in the photo. It is called Bowringsleigh House. As you can see the weather was perfect.

QMX+ fixes

Thank you for all the help to overcome the few issues I had with my QMX+ transceiver. This is a great radio and I am well pleased with it. 

I have still to try the fixes recommended for it, but this should make a great radio even better!

My recommendations for future software/firmware updates are:

  • Digital RX audio level adjustable with the volume control knob.
  • Increase the default digital RX audio levels on higher bands.
  • RF power output adjustable in the menu (power output shown on display as adjusted).
  • WSPR level (especially in beacon mode) defaults to a safe level to protect the PA devices.
  • Add SSB!
  • Make the audio sound card(s) in the QMX+ always be recognised by a Windows PC.
  • Make 8m (40.680 MHz) a selectable band.
I am aware that not all may be possible, but these are the things that come to mind. There must be others too.

Sunspots - Sunday July 7th

 Solar flux is 166 and the SSN 132. A=3 and K=2.

6 Jul 2024

Peterborough Cathedral - NOT amateur radio

 


The photo collage shows Peterborough Cathedral on Thursday.

8m QRP FT8 (Saturday)

As 10m was open to Iberia, I thought I would try 8m QRP FT8. At 1719z, no spots.

UPDATE  1628z:  Spotted by EA7KBX (1661km). No QSOs.

Pathfinders - NOT amateur radio

My dad died in 1987, long after WW2. He lived a quiet life in the years before he died. In his life he rarely talked about his experiences in the war and my biggest regret was not trying to understand just how frightening this must have been.

I am pretty sure he did not like the war. However, he became a pathfinder flying night raids over Germany in Lancasters. In recent years I have found out just how brave these elite airmen were. Night after night they flew not knowing if they would be killed or captured. After the war the knowledge that many innocent men, women and children just like him must have died as a result must have haunted him. No wonder he did not want to talk about those dark days!

Recently I have been introduced to a book called "The Pathfinders" by Will Iredale that shows the story behind the formation of this group.The book is available from Amazon and other booksellers.

Wars achieve very little for most ordinary folk who just want to live in peace. I am pretty sure this was how my dad felt, but he had no choice.

10m QRP FT8 with the QMX+ (Saturday)

 Although my 10m FT8 RX is currently deaf, my TX is working just fine, so I have QSYed to 10m FT8. At 1432z, my QRP 10m FT8  has been spotted by just 2 G stations. On RX, despite being deaf, a 7Q6 in Malawi,  several EU stations and one in the Gulf have been spotted.

In past sunspot maximum years, I would have been a keen SSB operator, whereas now I am almost exclusively on FT8 or WSPR and not chasing DX.

UPDATE 1700z:  My furthermost on 10m QRP FT8 TX today with the QMX+ is TR8CA (5820km) in Gabon. Much to my surprise with my 10m FT8 RX audio still being in the red on WSJT-X, I have spotted 53 stations today on 10m FT8 RX.

Melons - NOT amateur radio

 


The melons in the photo were in Peterborough on Thursday.

15m QRP FT8 (Saturday)


So far today my 15m QRP FT8 has been spotted by 156 stations worldwide (see photo) with the QMX+ transceiver.

UPDATE 1348z: 233 stations across the world have spotted my QRP 15m FT8 today.

Peterborough lunch - NOT amateur radio

On Thursday, we went to Peterborough by coach with our village history society. The main purpose was a guided tour of the cathedral, but there was plenty of time to walk around the city and have lunch. We ate at Cote Peterborough

As usual we were not disappointed. I like that service charge is added to the bill so there is no messing about with tips. I hate having to add this on and wonder how much to give. This way all staff get a share.   The photo shows my starter.

QMX+ bug?

In most respects I am very pleased with my built QMX+ from QRP labs.  It represents good value for money and does "what is says on the tin" well. Mine has been used exclusively on FT8 with WSJT-X with a Windows 10 PC. 

This morning my 15m QRP FT8 was spotted in Japan. My antenna is just a Par endfed.

It works fine on all the bands I have tried, but I may have a bug! 

On FT8 RX with WSJT-X the RX audio is fine on the lower bands, but seems too low on the higher HF bands remaining in the red on WSJT-X on all bands above 15m. It is as if the RX audio on digital modes from the QMX+ is too low. Just occasionally it just makes green on 10m FT8 RX, but this seems "flaky".  

All PC settings are on maximum. I am not sure if this is adjustable inside the box or can be fixed in the firmware/software. I am hoping there is something I can do to fix this.

VHF NFD 2024

In the UK VHF NFD is this weekend. It is a pity the weather is wet here! This is a chance to work some new squares on the VHF/UHF bands up to 23cm as activity can be good.

See https://www.rsgbcc.org/vhf/rules/2024/VHFNFD.shtml.

UPDATE 1422z:  The impression I am getting is that activity is down.  This may be due to the poor weather in this part of the UK or just that SSB is less popular than it once was. Local noise levels are higher too.

Sunspots - Saturday July 6th

 Solar flux is 166 and the SSN 111.  A=8 and K=0.

5 Jul 2024

10m QRP FT8 (Friday)

At 1221z, 139 stations spotted me and I spotted 137 stations using my QMX+ rig.

Stations spotting my
10m QRP FT8 today
UPDATE 1736z: 425 stations have spotted me and 399 stations spotted by me on 10m QRP FT8.  My QMX+ may not be perfect (yet), but the results speak for themselves!

UPDATE 1841z:  435 stations have spotted my 10m QRP FT8 today.  400 stations spotted here.

Rallies this Sunday

 It looks like this is quite a busy Sunday for UK rallies. As always, I recommend checking with organisers to check the data is correct.

  • Sunday July 7th - Barford Norfolk Radio Rally, Barford, Norwich, NR9 4AB. Contact radio@dcmicro.com.
  • Sunday July 7th - British Vintage wireless Society (BVWS), Swapmeet for BVS members only, Royal Wootton Bassett.
  • Sunday July 7th - Cornish Amateur Radio Club Rally, Truro TR1 1TN. Contact Ken 01209 821073.

QMX+ summary ..... so far

After owning and using my built and cased QMX+ for a few weeks , these are my initial thoughts. I don't think they are "finger trouble", but if they are my apologies to Hans!

  • It is basically a very good rig.
  • There are still a few bugs, which are preventing me fully enjoying it on FT8.
  • Much like the QDX, I am finding the recognition of the QMX+ audio by a Windows 10 PC "flaky".
  • The lack of a QMX+ manual is regrettable.

Overall, with these things corrected it represents very good value for money. Perhaps some of these things will be addressed in later firmware updates. 

Maybe, it needs more testing before release with a Windows machine and more testing in digital modes?

10m QRP WSPR (Friday)

So far, 8 stations have spotted my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon in the last 12 hours as shown in the WSPR Rocks map courtesy of Phil VK7JJ.

Sunspots - Friday July 5th

 Solar flux is 173 and the SSN 113. A=10 and K=2.

4 Jul 2024

10m 500mW WSPR (Thursday)


My 500mW 10m WSPR beacon has been on most of the day. So far, 5 stations have spotted me.

10m QRP FT8 with the QMX+ (Thursday)

14 stations spotted me early today on QRP FT8.  The RX audio seems to be too low from the QMX+ on digital RX. Sometimes it is (just) in the green on WSJT-X but many times it is too low and still in the red. 

Overnight, I wondered if the RX audio on digital was controlled by the volume control (a good idea?), but adjusting this made no difference. It is as if the default audio setting on digital RX on built QMX+ units is too low at least on a Windows 10 PC like mine. I checked that all settings of audio on the PC were at maximum.

I could see no mention of this in the QMX manual and I think, as yet, there is no operating manual for the QMX+.

It is to be expected there would be some teething issues on early builds.

UK General Election day - NOT amateur radio

 For readers in the UK, remember that this is a General Election day on which you have a chance to elect the MP of your choice to represent you. By voting you are having your say on the future government of the UK 🇬🇧. 

If you don’t vote you will have to accept the consequences. Whatever your political views it’s important that you vote!!

Sunspots - Thursday July 4th

 Solar flux is 167 and the SSN 182. A=5 and K=2.

3 Jul 2024

8m QRP FT8 (Wednesday)

 My 8m 2.5W WSPR was on for a few hours this morning, but no spots. Now QRT on 8m.

Dream - NOT amateur radio

Most nights I dream but cannot remember them. Last night, just before waking, I had a dream that I remembered. I have absolutely no idea why I dreamed it! This is the essence of the dream:

We were on holiday and staying in a hotel room. Before we checked out we noticed that the bathroom bowl and a cupboard had been completely removed.

Now, this is totally bizarre as in reality we would have heard this being done. Dreams often reflect something going on in one's waking life, but I cannot think what this could be. 

Any ideas?

At the chancel door: read the words! - NOT amateur radio

This gravestone is at the door of St Edmunds church in Kingsbridge, Devon. 

It is important to read the words, not just glance at the photo.

In death wealth does not matter.

10m 500mW WSPR in the last day


My 10m WSPR beacon was re-synced to internet time a few moments ago. In the last day 7 different stations have spotted my beacon with quite a few already this morning.

UPDATE 1328z:  after a break of several hours, I am back on TX. No recent spots.

UPDATE 1700z:   10 stations have spotted me in the last day.

Sunspots - Wednesday July 3rd

 Solar flux is 164 and the SSN 192. A=5 and K=1.

2 Jul 2024

2m activity contest this evening

After 5 QSOs with 10W SSB to my big-wheel omni, my voice had had enough, so I went QRT. 

Battling with repeating my callsign is no longer fun. In fact it is hard work. As my voice is now poor, I really struggle in SSB contests. It used to be fun whereas now it is far harder.

Servicing the gas fire - NOT amateur radio

 

Annually, we have our gas boiler and gas fire serviced. It was that time of year! 

The photo shows our gas fire being serviced.

Radio France International antennas


 These are the antennas at Radio France International. It looks like they have directional antennas so the ERP in the chosen direction must be huge.

10m QRP WSPR (Tuesday)

My 10m 500mW WSPR beacon is on again, but no spots so far.

8m QRP FT8 (Tuesday)

My 2.5W 8m FT8 is currently on. 

UPDATE 1347z:  QRT. No spots.

South Devon - NOT amateur radio

 


This was my brother last Sunday looking at the view.


European Es

According to the past, the European Es season should soon go "off the boil" and subside. 

In my experience the Es season still goes on for a while longer. I have worked Scandinavians on 6m QRP SSB as late as September.  With FT8 it should be even better.  Es can occur at any time of the year, but the peak months are in the spring and early summer.

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

Sunspots - Tuesday July 2nd

 Solar flux is 171 and the SSN 192. A=6 and K =1.

1 Jul 2024

An amazing resource

Recently I was reminded of this amazing resource. If you are looking for an old radio magazine, look here first. 

See

https://www.worldradiohistory.com/index.htm

Sunday lunch - NOT amateur radio


The photo shows where we ate lunch yesterday in Hope Cove. I have a record of my ancestors living here in the mid 1500s so we were probably here thousands of years before then. It is probable that a distant ancestor manned the Iron Age fort in the distance.

8m testing this week

 Later this week I hope to continue my 8m FT8 tests and re-erect my 8m dipole.

QMX+ testing later

 When I get home I expect my USB-C lead will have come. At some point early this week I hope to do more tests with the QMX+ rig.

Travelling home- NOT amateur radio

After a few days in Devon with my brother I travel home later. It has been a good few days with weather I could not improve on - sunny and warm and not humid.

Sunspots - Monday July 1st

 Solar flux is 174 and the SSN 199. A=11 and K=1.

30 Jun 2024

With my brother in Devon - NOT amateur radio

 


This was me with my brother in Devon earlier.