30 Apr 2024

Internet speeds - NOT amateur radio

When I first had the internet and a website (mid 1990s) my download speed was 2.5k and I had to pay for a phone connection (long distance) to London.  My website is still on the Wayback Machine. It was first created in 1996.

My download speed is now over 100M and many with full fibre have download speeds of around 500M or even greater. How times change.

One wonders what our grandchildren will experience. My father, who died in 1987, would have had no concept of the internet or mobile phones. It is impossible to conceive of something we can have no concept of at all.

Leak - NOT amateur radio

We have a leak in the pipe between the meter in the pavement and the house. It is not covered by my insurance so we are having a new pipe fitted. Tomorrow (all being well!) the plumber is coming to fit the new pipe. Oh joy! 

UPDATE 1332z:  It looks like it could be an issue with the water meter, so no new plumbing may be needed.

Still no swifts - NOT amateur radio


They usually arrive here soon and stay a few months. Every day I scan the skies, but nothing yet. 

Once they arrive they are very common overhead. 

Often they are heard screaming first.

Many of their traditional nest sites have gone and numbers are down. Once they arrive, I feel life is still OK.

Shetland spring - NOT amateur radio

One of my friends on 365project recently posted this photo. The idea is to post a photo each day. 

Some use it to improve their photography. We use it as a visual diary. 

It is totally free, although access may be made private for a small annual fee. 

My wife and I have each done it for 13 years. It is good to look back over the years. I love it.

630m interest waning?

Last night I was spotted by only 5 stations. I was late on but the impression I am getting is interest in the band is waning as we approach the summer.

10m WSPR at 10mW (Tuesday)

Late yesterday afternoon I decided to try 10m WSPR at 10mW which is some 13dB up on the power used in recent weeks. Spotted by EA8BFK (2880km) yesterday. I think the extra power must help. Probably stay at this power level to see how it goes in the Es season.

UPDATE 0821z:  No spots this morning.

UPDATE 1325z:  Spotted by 4 stations. Interestingly, at 10mW all 4 copied me, whereas at 500uW (0.5mW) only EA8BFK would probably have spotted me.

UPDATE 1442z: 
Now 5 stations are spotting me with 10mW. Note my beacon is pre-programmed to report 0.5W, even though with the attenuator in it is actually 10mW.

Sunspots - Tuesday April 30th

Solar  flux is 138 and the SSN 88.  A=6 and K=0.

How it was

We can imagine this is how amateur radio looked 100 years ago. 

All gear was homemade back then. No Japanese or Chinese transceivers!  Real experimenters.

29 Apr 2024

630m QRP WSPR (Monday)

 Once again I am on 630m WSPR with my 10mW ERP. I was puzzled that nobody was spotting me then I realised: in the settings I still had the callsign used for 8m ISM. Now plenty of spots!

Muntjac deer - NOT amateur radio

This afternoon I cut our front laurel hedge.  

Suddenly a Muntjac deer appeared and I just managed a hasty photo. At one point it was only about 3m from me. 

It was near the windmill next door.

Muntjacs are quite common. Luckily, they have not managed to get into our rear garden. They are about the size of a medium sized dog. They make a very boring bark!

South Hams, where I grew up - NOT amateur radio

This is where I grew up and lived until I got a job in Cambridge. It is still very beautiful. 

This is Bolberry Down.

10m QRPP WSPR (Monday)

 My 500uW (0.5mW) 10m WSPR is on again.  No spots.

40.680 MHz QRPP WSPR

My dipole for 8m has still to be replaced, but I am again on 40.680 MHz QRPP WSPR under ISM rules. My power is 10mW ERP.

630m QRP WSPR overnight


7 stations spotted my 10mW ERP 630m WSPR yesterday with the furthermost the north of Scotland.

Wells market last week - NOT amateur radio


This colourful display was in Wells market last week.

10m QRPP yesterday


People spotting my
500uW 10m WSPR yesterday 
Yesterday was a great day on 10m WSPR with 500uW (0.5mW) with some Es around. 

Based on these results, this tiny QRPP power should be copied across Europe when Es is good.

Map courtesy of Phil VK7JJ at WSPR Rocks!

Sunspots- Monday April 29th

 Solar flux is 140 and the SSN 119. A=6 and K=2.

28 Apr 2024

10m 500uW (0.5mW) WSPR (Sunday)


So far today my 500uW has been spotted by 2 stations (see table).

8m - more and more countries on TX

Yesterday a club station in Malawi was reported to be TXing on the 8m band. Several countries have issued experimental licences for the band. Some stations, where the licencing authority is rather poor, have come on the band illegally.

What is becoming clearer and clearer is that more and more countries are supportive of research at 8m. 

It seems odd to me that places like the USA and UK seem so backward on research at 8m. Just a 5kHz slot with limited power by NoV or equivalent, narrow digital only, with no interference created is surely not too much to ask?

Why the negativity?

Xiegu G106 price reduction

Steve G1KQH has pointed out that MLS has significantly reduced the price of this 5W SDR based HF rig. 

It was good value before, but even better value now. I can see many people buying this. Yaesu and ICOM must be seriously worried. Even I am tempted! 

If the quality is good this is a serious player much like the Yaesu FT817 was nearly a quarter of a century ago.

It is my view that within 5 years the Chinese will be very important in the amateur radio market. At the next sunspot peak, it would not surprise me at all to see Chinese products becoming far more common than Japanese. If they are to survive in the amateur radio market, I can see the likes of Yaesu and ICOM designing in Japan, but manufacturing elsewhere where costs are lower.

See https://www.hamradio.co.uk/g106 .

See also https://www.cqxiegu.com/ .

Wells last week - NOT amateur radio

Last week we had a few days in Bristol and went to Wells on Wednesday. 

The photo shows part of the moat around the Bishop's Palace.

2-way or 1-way?

Perhaps it is because my voice is poor these days, but I actually am quite happy to get 1-way reports on WSPR or FT8. Seeing where my signal gets is quite enough nowadays having worked QRP DXCC way back in the 1980s on 10m SSB.

Some chase DX QSOs, but this is not important to me.

2m QRP FT8 (Sunday)


For a change, I am on 2m FT8 with my 2.5W to the big-wheel omni antenna. I cannot believe conditions are "up" at all.  2m FT8 seems very busy. There is an MGM contest on. Furthermost is EI9KP (649km)

UPDATE 1410z:  36 spots of my 2.5W 2m FT8.

Reality? - NOT amateur radio

On a couple of occasions recently I could swear I was told something in a WhatsApp message. 

However hard I try I have been unable to find the message and there is no proof saying the sender had deleted it. 

My only conclusion is that I must have had a dream. This has happened more than once in the last few months. It is as if reality and dreams are sometimes merged. It makes me question reality.

Forces of evil? - NOT amateur radio

For all of my lifetime I have lived in peace, although until 1989 we lived under the shadow of nuclear war.

These days I sense evil is abroad. Russia has invaded Ukraine. Israel has hit Gaza hard in response to the Hamas attack of October 7th. China is threatening Taiwan where I have been twice. In many countries there is a move to the right. There is every possibility of Mr Trump being the leader of the USA for the next 4 years.

The world seems more unstable than at any time I can remember, perhaps with the exception of the 1962 Cuba crisis.

Western democracy is far from perfect. Unhindered capitalism has many faults. What I hope is that across the world a fairer society emerges.

630m QRP WSPR overnight

Just 7 stations spotted me overnight. I suspect people are looking elsewhere.

Sunspots- Sunday April 28th

 Solar flux is 153 and the SSN 126. A=12 and K=2.

27 Apr 2024

Back on 630m QRP WSPR (Saturday)

 For the first time in about a week I am back on 630m WSPR with my 10mW ERP from the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. So far, at 1805z, just spotted by G8OCV/SDR (65km) 14 times.

8m antenna replacement

All being well, I hope to replace my 8m dipole in the coming days. 

This Es season, as an experiment, I am trying 10mW ERP WSPR under ISM rules. This power should certainly get me into Europe on better days, but will there be people monitoring 40.680 USB dial WSPR? 

When the band is really "open" I shall be competing with other ISM sources! At the other end, there is no knowing what interference levels I shall be competing against.

The MFJ announcement

 As mentioned, there was a major announcement about the future of MFJ. The owner is now aged 80.

See https://mailchi.mp/62e24f2ccc99/a-heavy-sad-heart .

The future of amateur radio

In an earlier post I mentioned that CQ magazine was ceasing production. MFJ can no longer be competetive making on-site.

In my view, amateur radio is reaching a critical point. There is no denying that amateur radio is a hobby that (mainly) appeals to older men. There are a few younger people interested and there are now very few radio magazines on sale in newsagents, whereas there are many about PCs and gaming. In the main, much as many would wish otherwise, younger folk get "turned on" by other things. Younger people are not fascinated by the magic of radio.

As we age, fewer pieces of commercial gear will get made (fewer profits to be made), fewer ads will appear from  dealers, magazines will have less revenue, these will shrink or disappear and amateur radio as we knew it will cease to be.

This sounds gloomy and I hope I am proved wrong, but, so far, everything I expected is coming true.

What will the future look like? Many PTTs are losing interest in amateur radio, preferring to  concentrate on things that can make them money.

If I had to guess, these are what I expect will happen in the coming years:

  • Fewer new products dedicated to the amateur radio market will be produced.
  • Fewer dealers will remain around.
  • Fewer magazine adverts will be needed.
  • Fewer magazines will exist.
  • Those magazines that survive will become smaller.
  • PTTs will "wash their hands" of amateur radio.
  • Amateur radio will become a free-for-all.
  • National radio societies will issue callsigns to those that want them.
  • CB and amateur radio (possibly ISM) will become the same thing.
  • All amateur radio frequencies will become CB frequencies and licence free.
  • Creating no interference to revenue generating services will be the important thing.

Is it all bad? I don't think so. To many people CB and amateur radio are different ways of chatting. Experimentation will carry on.

Leftover from Easter? - NOT amateur radio


This knitting was on the top of a postbox near here.

Wells Cathedral - NOT amateur radio


These are the medieval ceilings at Wells Cathedral in the UK.

10m QRPP WSPR (Saturday)

My 500uW 10m WSPR has been on for several hours. By lunchtime, nobody had spotted me. 

UPDATE 1740z:   No spots. Perhaps conditions today are poor or EA8BFK (2880km) is away?

6m QRP FT8 (Saturday)

My 2.5W to the V2000 vertical has been on for several hours. At 1150z, 7 stations in England had spotted me.

UPDATE 1418z:  11 spots of me so far, all in England.

CQ magazine gone

Steve G1KQH informs me that CQ magazine has gone. I understand that they were in financial trouble and have ceased trading. I have no idea about what happens to the CQWW contests.

It’s my sense that more amateur radio magazines will go before too long sadly.

See https://mailchi.mp/62e24f2ccc99/a-heavy-sad-heart.

Not yet - NOT amateur radio

At this time of year I get quite excited about returning migrant swifts. They briefly breed here before returning to sub Saharan Africa. 

Often they are heard screaming overhead first. It’s about now they are first spotted here.

See https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/swift .

Sunspots - Saturday April 27th

Solar flux is 153 and the SSN 154. A=19 and K=3.

26 Apr 2024

8m 10mW ERP WSPR (Friday)

 As I have been away, I only returned to 8m WSPR TX under ISM rules (10mW ERP complying with IR2030) this afternoon.  I am currently doing some local tests, although my dipole antenna is faulty and needs replacing. Until this is fixed I am not expecting to be copied.

10m 500uW WSPR (Friday)

 As I have been away for a few days I have only just returned to QRPP 10m WSPR this afternoon. So far already 68 spots of me by EA8BFK (2880km).

6m F2?

When sunspot numbers and solar flux numbers are high, there is always a chance of the F2 MUF reaching 6m or even higher.  I remember some years ago hearing 6m SSB stations from South Africa and the USA just like locals. At the time I just had a wire dipole.

Shrinkflation - NOT amateur radio

 Instead of putting prices up just make things smaller and hope the consumer does not notice. Yesterday I bought a chocolate bar. In 1996 it was 62.5g. Now it is 51g. This happens with so many things.

Bristol footbridge - NOT amateur radio

This footbridge was erected in 2017. It is in Bristol,UK and is very elegant curving as it crosses the water. 

Sunspots - Friday April 26th

  Solar flux is 167 and the SSN 199. A=3 and K=2.

25 Apr 2024

Clifton Suspension Bridge - NOT amateur radio

 This was one of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s greatest projects.

Wells Cathedral - NOT amateur radio


Wells is one of the finest cathedrals in England.

Sunspots - Thursday April 25th

  Solar flux is 199 and the SSN 283. A=4 and K=1.

HF propagation

At the moment, we are meant to be on the downward slope of cycle 25, although in the last few days, the solar flux and sunspot number have been very high. Even if sunspot numbers are declining, solar conditions will be good for several years. 

One useful tool is https://prop.kc2g.com/ (see map) which shows how good the MUF is across the world.


Many times I have tried this, but found distant repeaters  as quiet as the local ones. With access from a PC or phone, I guess it is a way to still enjoy the hobby ....as long as someone is there to talk with! There are "non-ionosphere" alternatives like Hamsphere and CQ100. I personally have found these unsatisfying, but you may think differently.

See https://www.echolink.org/ .

8m monitors?

With my 8m station using only a low dipole, I suspect that stations need to be quite strong to be spotted here on FT8. Compared with the better stations with beams and more height, I guess I am probably 10dB down. On FT8 this means they will often spot stations I cannot.

Also, with the same power on 6m (2.5W), I can usually be spotted across England on 6m, whereas I struggle on 8m. One of the issues is there are too few people monitoring on 8m compared with 6m.

Nonetheless, I intend to experiment with 10mW ERP 8m WSPR this Es season as this will (hopefully!) show what is possible with a very simple system. 

10mW ERP could be generated by a Raspberry PI, I think.  It probably needs additional low pass filters to ensure compliance with IR2030.  At this power everyone in the UK could have a go without a TX permit as long as ISM rules are followed. I cannot comment on the rules within the EU or elsewhere.

24 Apr 2024

Wells, Vicars’ Close - NOT amateur radio

 This has been the home of vicars for 650 years.

Low cost QRP SDR transceiver

Yet again, I am puzzled how they do this for the price. 

Just over £193 pays for a 5W all mode SDR transceiver. You pay a little more for shipping. This is a lot less than an equivalent Japanese transceiver.

There is a shake-out coming. Expect the Japanese to be facing stiff competition from low cost manufacturers. 

China may not be the source in the future as Chinese wages creep up and costs become higher. Canny manufacturers will be on the look-out for countries that can make things for less.

Once again this is via AliExpress.

Sunspots - Wednesday April 24th

  Solar flux is 219 and the SSN 282. A=8 and K=0.

23 Apr 2024

Close call - NOT amateur radio

The oars of this rowing boat narrowly missed this swan.

Thank you - NOT amateur radio

On my blog is a link to buy me a virtual cup of coffee. This is entirely voluntary. 

However, very many thanks to those that have donated. Any money generated will go towards future projects/research. 

My wish is that you all have as much fun as I have had on your journey through the hobby. I have particularly enjoyed finding out new things and experimentation.

Two things : The journey is more important than the destination (learn from your mistakes) and you can have lots of fun without spending much.

Celebrating our son’s birthday - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday we celebrated our son’s birthday. This was my main course.

Sunspots - Tuesday April 23rd

  Solar flux is 227 and the SSN 283. A=8 and K=2.

Pixie transceivers

These are still available at rock bottom prices on eBay. 

I have built versions for 80m amd 40m and had QSOs with each. With something this simple there are compromises. The RX, in some cases, lacks selectivity and can be overloaded by strong broadcast  stations. Nonetheless they do work and they are hard to beat for the price.

The cheapest I have seen is £1.35, which is less than the price of just 1 part if bought in the UK!

See https://sites.google.com/view/g3xbm4/home/hf-mf-and-lf/homebrew/8040m-pixie-and-micro80-transceivers .

22 Apr 2024

Spring in our close - NOT amateur radio

 Spring has arrived in our close.

How do they do it?

Looking on Ali-Express, they sell a Quasheng uv-k5 (8) dual band 5W hand portable for £13.51, with free airmail shipping. 

Both Ali-Express and the original manufacturer, I presume, make a profit!  

I just cannot see how they do it. It is made in the Far East, shipped by air across the planet and easily cloned I am told.

Sunspots - Monday April 22nd

 Solar flux is 217 and the SSN 283. A=19 and K=2.

21 Apr 2024

Ickworth NT last week - NOT amateur radio


This is the famous rotunda with wild flowers in the forground.

8m ISM WSPR (Sunday)

Shortly, I shall be turning on my 10mW ERP  8m WSPR under ISM rules on 40.680MHz USB dial. 

This means my QRPP WSPR will be about 1450Hz higher. I am not really expecting any spots as I have yet to sort out my antenna. 

I shall ask locals to check I am getting out.

UPDATE 1436z:  No spots.

10m 500uW (0.5mW) WSPR (Sunday)

My QRPP beacon has been re-synced to Internet time, but no spots yet.

UPDATE 1437z: EA8BFK (2880km) has spotted my 500uW 10m WSPR 10 times so far today.

630m QRP WSPR overnight

12 stations spotted my 10mW ERP on 630m WSPR overnight. No real DX.

70cm UKAC activity contest results

You would not exactly say I am a contest nerd. One thing is certain: guess who will never win! If I come half way up the table I'd be very pleased!

I like to submit an entry into the activity contest even though I stay on very little time, use 10W SSB and a 2m big-wheel omni antenna. In the low power section I am 43rd out of 70, which is not bad.

See https://www.rsgbcc.org/cgi-bin/vhfresults.pl?Contest=432MHz%20UKAC&year=2024 .

Sunspots - Sunday April 21st

 Solar flux is 210 and the SSN 240. A=12 and K=3.

20 Apr 2024

6m QRP FT8 (Saturday)

At about 1620z, I QSYed to 6m FT8.  At 1630z, 4 stations had spotted my 2.5W FT8 to the V2000 vertical omni antenna.

UPDATE 1800z: 9 stations have spotted my QRP.  On RX, the furthermost is EA9ABC (1873km) in North Africa.

UPDATE 1825z:  10 stations have spotted me with the furthermost EA5BY (1559km).  When 6m is "open" it is so much easier than 8m as there are more monitors.

UPDATE 2041z
: Amazing! Spotted by LU5FF (10958km). This must be a very high MUF and TEP. It is my furthermost VHF spot of all time! 27 spots of my QRP 6m FT8 this evening. It is possible that Es linked up to an F2 hop over the equator as Es (I guess) was good in this direction. See https://prop.kc2g.com/. Not bad for 2.5W and an omni!

Knotted tree - NOT amateur radio

There is a section of the Italianate Garden at Ickworth near Bury St Edmunds, UK where they have lots of old tree trunks. 

This one has no bark left, but is pretty impressive.

8m FT8 RX (Saturday)

Currently, I am monitoring 40.680MHz USB dial FT8. 

UPDATE 1348z:  No spots. 

UPDATE 1621z:  Locally I can see ZS1TX, ZS3/V51PJ and ZR1ADI were spotted but these did not appear on PSKreporter. For some reason, these spots were not uploaded.

10m QRPP 500uW WSPR (Saturday)

My 500uW (0.5mW) 10m WSPR has already been spotted multiple times this morning by EA8BFK (2880km). Perhaps this is not too surprising with the solar flux and sunspot numbers so good.

UPDATE 0948z:  12 spots already.

UPDATE 1808z: 
34 spots of my 500uW QRPP WSPR, one with about 20dB in hand!! See table.

UPDATE 1850z:  Now spotted in Italy by IZ2DQB (1033km). First signs of 10m Es?

Ely last Thursday - NOT amateur radio

This was Ely earlier in the week. Ely Cathedral is in the background.

It is called "the Isle of Ely" as it is built on a rare hill in these parts. 

Much of the Fens area is flat for miles. It is one of the most fertile areas in the UK.

Sunspots - Saturday April 20th

 Solar flux is 213 and the SSN 243. A=41 and K=2.

Nice breakfast - NOT amateur radio

Steve G1KQH kindly sent me this photo. Very unhealthy, but very nice!! I could eat it now. 😉

630m QRP WSPR overnight

An average session with no real DX with my 10mW ERP from the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.  10 stations spotted me (see table) with a new reporter (I think) from Wales.

19 Apr 2024

630m QRP WSPR (Friday)

My 10mW ERP from the earth-electrode "antenna"  in the ground was turned on at about 1810z.  So far, spotted by one station.

UPDATE 2104z:  3 stations have spotted me.

OFCOM and DAB licences

OFCOM is inviting applications for small scale DAB multiplex licences. See the OFCOM website for further details.

8m FT8 receive (Friday)

This morning, I am on 40.680MHz FT8 receive. No spots at 1017z.

UPDATE 1252z:   No spots today.

Ely waterfront - NOT amateur radio

As mentioned before, we went to Ely with a friend yesterday. 

This is the River Great Ouse, into which the River Cam flows is shown in the photo.

10m QRPP WSPR (Friday)

Already my 500uW (0.5mW) WSPR eacon has been spotted 8 time at 0908z by EA8BFK (2880km). See table.  

With solar conditions promising, I wonder if I shall be spotted in the USA later?

UPDATE 1635z:   15 spots of my extreme 10m WSPR QRP so far.

Peacocks - NOT amateur radio


Yesterday, we went to Ely with a friend who is staying with us. 

We ate at a small cafe at lunchtime.

630m QRP WSPR overnight


8 spots of my 10mW ERP 630m WSPR overnight.

Sunspots - Friday April 19th

Solar flux is 227 and the SSN 247.  A=4 and K=2.  

Are we seeing a second peak?

18 Apr 2024


 The following have been notified to me. As I always advise, check before going a long way.

10m QRPP WSPR (Thursday)

My 500uW (0.5mW) 10m WSPR  beacon has been on again today.

UPDATE 1822z: 15 spots (again) by EA8BFK (2880km).

At last a swallow! - NOT amateur radio

At Ely today, I saw my first definite swallow. One may have flown over 2 days ago, but I could not be sure. 

Today was a definite spotting low over the River Great Ouse.

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

630m QRP WSPR overnight

Not a bad session with 12 stations spotting me with the furthermost Germany 🇩🇪.

Ickworth lambs - NOT amateur radio


These were some of the lambs seen at Ickworth yesterday.