31 Dec 2014

QSYed to 472kHz WSPR

As I was getting no results (apart from G6AVK earlier) on 6m, I have decided to QSY down to MF for the rest of the evening and overnight. I am still using 5mW ERP from the earth-electrode "antenna".

Already, I have been spotted by G7NKS (46km), M1GEO (79km) and G8LCO (58km).

So far I have copied G3ZJO (79km), G7NKS (46km), G0LRD (25km), G4KPX (14km) and G8VDQ (93km).

I've only been on the band for about 15 minutes. It is currently 2211z.  There are currently 61 active stations on 472kHz WSPR.

UPDATE 2300z:  Also now copied DK7FC (669km),  G8HUH (250km), M0PPP (182km) and PA0A (417km) on 472kHz WSPR. All stations that I have copied before.

An observation on 472kHz operating: there are those who take 472kHz (and 137kHz) very seriously and who invest serious effort on rigs, antennas and ground systems and those, like me, who take MF and LF altogether less seriously and attempt to get results with the simplest systems. DK7FC is certainly one of the first type: he puts out excellent signals on MF and LF and is widely copied in the USA, something I could only dream about.

10m WSPR spots from the USA

First USA spot on 10m WSPR today was at 1312z by WG2Z (5600km). Last spot (as of 1736z) was by  KE6BID (5295km) at 1720z but there could yet be later spots from the USA.

UPDATE 2020z:   KE6BID did turn out to be the last USA spot.

UPDATE 2035z:  Went QRT on 10m WSPR at 2030z.  Still on 6m WSPR TX 20% and RX 80%.

Strong 6m WSPR spots

This morning I have received a couple of strong WSPR reports (-9dB and -14dB S/N) on 6m (1W ERP vertical here) from G6AVK (78km). I hope this means I copy, or am copied, by other 6m stations. There is a fair bit of UK activity for a change.

UPDATE 1740z:  Spots were exchanged on 6m with G6AVK at up to -4dB S/N which is very strong.  No spots given or received with anyone else on .

All time blog high

Yesterday saw the highest daily blog visit numbers ever.  I did post quite a few times, but I am still puzzled why there were so many visitors as I said nothing exceptional.  Perhaps more people are on holiday so they have more spare time? My other, more general, blog (see http://qss2.blogspot.co.uk/) did quite well for visits too.

Sunspots and 10m - Dec 31st 2014

Sunspot number today is 102 and 10m propagation is expected to be "fair".  My 10m 500mW WSPR beacon has only been spotted out to about 2400km so far (EU and near Russia).

I am also on 630m (472kHz) WSPR but will probably QSY to 6m soon.

30 Dec 2014

"Jack Jones" - the answer is NO!!!

I have been repeatedly asked by a pirate called "Jack Jones" to add a permanent link to this website promoting his pirate TX below our 7MHz band. I am not a supporter of pirates and any such comments will be deleted at the earliest opportunity.

So the answer to your request is NO. I do NOT support pirates.

6m WSPR today

6m has been disappointing again today with spots exchanged only with G6AVK (78km). I am leaving things running on 6m for a few more hours, ever hopeful.   I could run the PA at 3dB more but don't fancy the almost 2 minutes TX slot with my MkI FT817 PAs.
6m WSPR exchanges today so far
UPDATE 1925z:  Time to go QRT on 6m and QSY to 630m (472kHz) WSPR. Went QRT at about 1930z. Now QRV on 472kHz WSPR with shot baseline earth-electrode "antenna".

LD-5 QRP rig

Steve G1KQH,  has found the price of the LNR Precision 5 band QRP radio and published this on his blog. Low cost TDA2003 audio/LF ICs recently found by Steve are now available from GQRP Club Sales.

For the LNR Precision rig data see http://g1kqh.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/ld-5-price.html .

10m USA WSPR spots today - Dec 30th 2014

At 1254z, WG2Z (5600km) was the first station in the USA to spot my 500mW 10m WSPR signal today. He has spotted me several times since, as have others from the USA.

So far, 6m WSPR is very quiet here - no spots given or received.

UPDATE 1738z:  At 1714z WG2Z was the last USA spot of me today.

UPDATE 1845z:    Now QRT on 10m WSPR,  but continuing on 6m for a few more hours. Although I can still see G6AVK on 6m (I presume - same approximate frequency) coming through, the signal is too weak and frequency shifting to decode. The drift could be my end as well as at G6AVK'send?

QSYed from 630m to 6m WSPR

In the last few minutes I've QSYed to 6m WSPR from MF.   ERP on 6m is 1W (vertical) 20% TX and 80% RX.  I am still TXing on 10m WSPR 100% TX at 500mW.

Yesterday, 6m was just an exchange of spots with G6AVK. I am still hoping to catch some wintertime Es, but no luck as yet.

UPDATE 1545z:   Several 6m WSPR spots exchanged with G6AVK (78km) this afternoon, but nothing else. The large frequency shift (both ways) on exchanges with G6AVK suggest aircraft reflections were involved, not pure tropo.

472kHz WSPR

In the last 2 weeks, I have been spotted by 15 different stations when using 5mW (max) from my earth-electrode "antenna" on 472kHz WSPR. Some decent DX too.
Uniques on 472kHz WSPR this last 2 weeks on earth-electrodes with 5mW ERP

Sunspots and 10m - Dec 30th 2014

Sunspot number today is 113, but 10m propagation is only forecast to be "fair".  So far this morning my 500mW beacon is only being spotted in Europe, although I am sure stations in the USA will be spotting me after lunch. I hope there will also be spots from Africa and South America.

29 Dec 2014

QRT on 10m. QSYed from 6m to 630m WSPR

At 2230z I went QRT on 10m WSPR.

I have now moved the FT817 and transverter (on the short baseline earth electrode "antenna" to 472kHz WSPR where my ERP is around 5mW (max.). G8LCO and G7NKS have already copied me on the first TX burst and I have copied G0LRD (25km) on the first RX slot. I'll remain on overnight on 472kHz WSPR.
First few minutes on 472kHz WSPR this evening.

Low cost quadcopter

Quadcopters are usually quite expensive but Banggood have one for sale that will not break the bank.

See http://www.banggood.com/JJRC-H8C-2_4G-4CH-6-Axis-RC-Quadcopter-With-2MP-Camera-RTF-p-950652.html .

My last USA 10m WSPR spot today?

It looks like W3CSW (5886km) was the last stateside station to spot my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon today at 1654z. The stateside 10m openings are definitely shorter now. Since then, just locals G4IKZ and G0LRD have been spotting me. There could conceivably be further reports from North America, but this is unlikely today. It has been dark here for 2 hours. The time is 1820z as I write.

UPDATE 1936z:   No more WSPR spots from the USA since 1654z. This was the last USA WSPR spot today.

QRP SSB kits from Spain

EA3GCY sells a range of QRP kits including single band, single PCB, SSB transceivers for 20m or 40m.  These look easy to build and test and good value for money. Currently there is a 5% off offer running too.

See http://ea3gcy.blogspot.it/2013/03/iler-20-4-5w-qrp-ssb-monoband.html .
See http://ea3gcy.blogspot.it/2013/01/iler-40-4-5w-qrp-ssb-monoband.html .

He also does a CW kit and other accessories. Look out for the ILER range.

6m spots exchange

G6AVK (78km) and I swapped 6m WSPR spots about an hour ago. Otherwise, the band seems very very quiet. He is running a couple of watts.  I am running the FT817 at the 2.5W setting but through at least 1-2dB of lossy coax (TX and RX) to my vertical V2000 omni antenna, so I estimate my 6m ERP as about 1W.

10m USA WSPR spots

The first USA station to spot my 500mW WSPR beacon today was WG2Z (5600km) at 1252z. This is earlier than yesterday. As usual, plenty of USA stations are spotting me now. I expect this will continue until teatime.

6m continues to be blank - no spots given or received so far today.

Sunspots and 10m - Dec 29th 2014

Sunspot number today is 108 and 10m propagation expected to be "fair". On recent occasions when 10m was forecast to be "fair" my 500mW 10m WSPR has been copied right around the world!

Since turning on my 10m WSPR beacon, spots from local G4IKZ (18km) and LZ1OI (2153km) so far only.

I am also on 6m WSPR but no spots given or received yet on that band.

UPDATE 1232z:   So far on 10m, I am being spotted by European stations only (OH, LA, UR, LZ local G).  On 6m, no spots at all so far but I hear there is possibly some 6m Es?

28 Dec 2014

Soon QRT on 10m and 6m WSPR

As the DX spots seem to have vanished on 10m WSPR for a couple of hours now and nothing has been seen on 6m WSPR since lunch, I shall go QRT quite soon on both bands.

I'll give them both a couple of hours though just in case, so I'll turn off WSPR at 2100z most probably, unless either band shows signs of life.

UPDATE 2015z:  G6AVK (78km) reappeared on 6m at 1930z. We have again exchanged WSPR spots. No other stations seen on the band though. Some GDX out to about 200km should be "spotable" with tropo or aircraft reflection.

UPDATE 2110z:   Now QRT on all bands.

USA - 10m WSPR spots today

As usual, 10m opened again to the USA this afternoon. The first USA spot of my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon was by WB1FIG (5304km) at 1300z.

The openings do seem to be getting shorter now. Plenty of USA stations spotting me again on 10m WSPR. 500mW is quite enough on most occasions.

UPDATE 1720z:  At the moment, the last USA station to spot me was WG2Z (5600km) at 1634z.

UPDATE 1830z:  No further spots on 10m WSPR since 1634z.

Sunspots and 10m

Sunspot number is 111 today but 10m propagation is "fair". I never understand the forecasts! I have already been copied in Australia many times today running 500mW on 10m WSPR. It often seems the best 10m conditions occur when 10m is forecast to be "fair" rather than "good". Don't ask me why! 10m is a band filled with surprises.

Australia and South Africa on 10m WSPR

After turning on the 500mW 10m WSPR TX beacon at breakfast time I was spotted by ZS2CON (9893km) and also by VK6XT (14719km, Western Australia) several times around 1000-1100z. Since then Europeans have been spotting me such as CT1, OH, LA and GM.

6m success - at last!

After weeks (on and off) I managed to exchange WSPR spots with G6AVK (78km) today on 6m. No great DX sadly but I was pleased that we exchanged reports on the band. I was hoping to catch some mid-winter Es, but no luck yet. The 6m WSPR (30dBm ERP vertical) will be running throughout the day and maybe overnight.

Return to 6m and 10m WSPR

I am determined to catch some wintertime 6m activity! At about 0810z both the 10m 500mW beacon and the 6m FT817 based (30dBm ERP vertical) were turned on. Spots on 10m but quiet so far on 6m.

UPDATE 1520z:   On 10m, my 500mW WSPR has been spotted in Australia, South Africa and the USA so far today.   On 6m, my 1W ERP has been copied by G6AVK (78km). I have also spotted him on 6m WSPR. No great DX on 6m but my first 6m WSPR spots for some time.

UPDATE 1742z:  No 6m WSPR spots since 1330z. Only G6AVK spotted.

27 Dec 2014

Going QRT on MF and 10m at bedtime tonight

As staying on overnight resulted in no great surprises, I shall be closing my station when I go to bed this evening. 10m will be restarted after breakfast. MF (472kHz) may be restarted too, or I may try 6m one more time

UPDATE 2315z:  Now QRT.

Last 10m WSPR spot from the USA

The last USA spot of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon was by W3CSW (5886km) at 1706z.

It looks like the stateside openings are now shorter on most days, no doubt because of the shorter days in the northern hemisphere. Still, 10m has opened to the USA and Canada on 10m WSPR for months now every afternoon.

CX2ABP/D on 10m WSPR (11080km)

Best DX spot of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon was by CX2ABP/D (11080km) a few times over lunch and early afternoon. The USA stations have been spotting me since 1326z. The first USA station to spot me was WA2PJI (5550km).
Unique 10m WSPR spots (500mW) to 1525z today.

Results overnight on MF (630m) and 10m WSPR

Overnight was a waste of time! On 10m WSPR I was spotted by a few OZ and DL stations an hour or so before breakfast with just local G4IKZ (18km) spotting me through the bulk if the night. On 472kHz WSPR I was spotted by the same usual stations and I spotted the usual suspects! In all, no new reports following an overnight session on 2 bands.

Even this morning, 10m is disappointing with mainly Europeans. Best DX spot with my 500mW WSPR-AXE-CW beacon is EA8/DL9XJ (2981km).  So far, 10m is disappointing today, although I expect it will open to the USA later.

Falling sunspot numbers?

Sunspot number for Dec 27th 2014 has fallen.to 92 and 10m propagation is forecast to be "fair".  Although we'll still get good days, we must now expect sunspot numbers to gradually decline as the years go by towards the next sunspot minimum. Usually the decline downwards tends to be faster than the climb after the minimum, although many are predicting that the next maximum (cycle 25) will be miserably low.

See http://www.solen.info/solar/  .

See also http://sc25.com/ .

See also http://www.swsc-journal.org/index.php?option=com_article&access=doi&doi=10.1051/swsc/2012008&Itemid=129 .

26 Dec 2014

Staying on 10m and MF through the night

I've decided to stay on 10m and MF WSPR through the overnight period to see what spots turn up on both bands. Last night there were OZ stations on 10m around 0300z and MF is always interesting overnight.

472kHz WSPR today

I have been on 472kHz all day, and intend to stay on all evening and overnight. I am TXing for about 20% of the time and 80% on RX. These are the unique stations spotted here in the last 12 hours. Currently it is 2012z.
Unique 472kHz WSPR spots received here on earth-electrodes
On TX, with 5mW ERP, these are my unique spots so far today.
Unique 472kHz WSPR spots received from 
others (5mW ERP) on earth-electrodes

Sunspots and 10m - Dec 26th 2014

Sunspot number today is 100 and 10m conditions are forecast to be "fair". So far today no DX spots of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon have been received from further than the USA. No spots from South Africa or Reunion Island for example.

UPDATE 1922z:  Still no further DX after the USA stopped spotting me a few hours ago. I think it will be locals and, maybe, the odd European by wintertime Es for the rest of the evening on 10m. I may go QRT shortly on 10m, although I am still running 5mW ERP from the short baseline earth-electrode "antenna" on 472kHz, MF.

10m WSPR - first/last USA spots of my 500mW beacon today - Dec 26 2014

W3CSW (5886km) copied my 10m 500mW beacon first today at 1300z. It is just getting dark here but the path to the USA is likely to remain open for a couple more hours. No other DX further than the USA has been seen here today.

UPDATE 1755z:  Last USA 10m WSPR spot of my 500mW beacon was K3EA (5657km) at 1648. Since then just G4IKZ (18km) and OE6PWD (1232km) and DK0SC (827km).

10m OZ opening

Leaving 10m WSPR (500mW) running overnight I was spotted in Denmark a few times around 0300z.  I suspect this was winter Es.

25 Dec 2014

10m DX with 500mW WSPR

Today amongst  the tinsel and turkey of Christmas I have been WSPRing on MF and 10m. Best DX today was ZS5J (9529km) on 10m.

Sunspots - Christmas Day

At present, my feed showing sunspot number and 10m conditions is still showing Dec 24th! I'll update later if I get the data.

UPDATE 2045z: Sunspot number was only 86 today and 10m conditions "good"

24 Dec 2014

Sunspots - Dec 24th

Sunspot number today is 128 and 10m propagation "fair".


We have family here from Dec 24th until Dec 26th so blog updates will be infrequent during this period. May I wish all readers a very happy Christmas whether with family or alone. For some this can be a difficult time. It is the season of love and kindness. My hope is you find love and kindness whatever your situation.

23 Dec 2014

10m WSPR - first and last USA spots

The first spot of my 10m 500mW WSPR signal was by WG2Z (5600km) at 1230z.  The last spot was at 1816z by K3EA (5657km). Since then, just local G4IKZ (18km) spotting me.

10m - real DX

10m is a truly surprising band.  Although the solar forecast for 10m is just "fair" I see that VK5MR (16144km) spotted my 500mW WSPR at 1148z this morning.

First USA spot of my 500mW WSPR beacon today was by WG2Z (5600km) at 1230z.

Sunspots and 10m - Dec 23rd 2014

Today is my 66th birthday.  There were times in the last year or so when I thought I would never see this day or this Christmas, but slowly my body is recovering.

Sunspot number today is 113 and 10m propagation "fair". Today, 10m conditions are anyone's guess.

22 Dec 2014

Longwave AM TX closing in Germany

Stefan DK7FC recently posted this to the RSGB LF group:
Hi LF,

Obviously there was a decision that DLF (Deutschlandfunk) will go QRT on LF 153 kHz on 31:12.2014!

Here is a German article about this decision: http://www.radiomuseum.org/forum/dlf_stellt_langwelle_ein.html

This makes me a bit sad on one side since i like the good old AM radio stuff. But on the other side, i know that i'm getting QRM from that transmitter which runs 500kW on a 350m high vertical antenna in 40 km distance. Probably there is a significant noise spectrum beeing radiated which i can see in that short distance. I can see it just a second before 20 o clock in the evening, when they switch from 500 kW to 250 kW. For 1...2 seconds, the AM carrier is off air, which lowers the noise background significantly. So maybe LF reception will be much better next year, i hope.

So maybe it is worth for some to listen for the last minutes of DLF LF transmissions on 31.12. this year :-(

73, Stefan/DK7FC

10m first and last USA WSPR spots today

The first station in the USA to copy my 10m 500mW WSPR signal today was WG2Z (5600km) at 1224z.

At present, the latest USA spot is by K9AN (6505km) at 1654z, although I expect to be spotted in the USA again later this evening.

Local G8KNN has been active on 10m WSPR today.  Interesting that stations in the USA copy me better than a local 12km away! I think Jon must have a week off work at Christmas.

UPDATE 2010z:   The last USA station to spot my 500mW on 10m WSPR was W3CSW at 1824z.

472kHz today

M0EMM (192km) has been spotting me on 472kHz WSPR today along with spots from other stations. Overnight, PA0A (417km) was copying me.

These are the 472kHz WSPR spots using 5mW ERP and the earth-electrode "antenna" in the last 24 hours. Even using my "deaf" FT817 barefoot on RX and with this crude antenna system, I seem to copy plenty of stations.
Unique 472kHz spots - last 24 hours

Australian IR tests

VK4EBP reported that he has carried out successful tests over a 10km NLOS (non line of sight) path using infra red.

See Australian Optical DX   https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Optical_DX/info .

One of my aims for 2015, assuming I am fit enough, is more NLOS tests including IR over greater ranges. To maximise my chances I shall probably use QRSS3 again rather than rely on aural reception. My previous tests, using clear air scatter, was over a 8.5km distance.   Much further should be possible.

Sunspots and 10m

Sunspot number today has climbed to 159 but 10m propagation is forecast to be only "fair", so 10m propagation may not be as good as yesterday. So far this morning 4Z5SM (3523km) is the best DX spot of my 500mW 10m beacon.

UPDATE 1550z:  Martin G8JNJ reports 10m AM signals coming in well around 29.050MHz. I am getting plenty of USA WSPR reports of my 500mW beacon again today. Conditions on 10m certainly seem better than "fair".

21 Dec 2014

First and last USA 10m WSPR spots today

The first USA station to spot my 500mW WSPR beacon today was KD6A (6285km) at 1244z and the last was W3CSW (5886km) at 1822z. Best DX spot today was by ZS6BNE (9075km) at 2616z.

Apple - Panorama documentary

Last week, BBC's Panorama programme did a frightening documentary on factories used by Apple in China and on their tin supply chain in Indonesia. If such poor conditions are used by Apple, many other products will be produced in even worse conditions. As a user of Apple products I am appalled.

See Panorama, Apple's Broken Promises .

Of course, we in the West milk the low costs that such poor working procedures/conditions permit. With time, conditions will improve and the West will look to other low cost manufacturing areas for our low cost products. Sadly, our greed feeds this process.

Frighteningly, other products we buy are probably made in places that are far worse.

Andrew G6ALB tells me of a friend in the automotive industry who visited a Chinese supplier where he found workers using ordinary sun glasses to protect eyes from welding gear. After 6 months  the workers were totally blind. So they just got fresh workers to replace them!

Thanks to Steven G7VFY for most of this information.

UPDATE 1740z:  Sadly many (most?) of our electronics components will be made in sweat shops in the Far East. It is very hard to get away from this problem.


Sunspot number has fallen back to 120 (still pretty respectable) and 10m daytime propagation is expected to be "good".

20 Dec 2014

Simple 10m DSB transmitter

From Steven, G7VFY comes news of a very simple 10m DSB transmitter from the blog of KA7OEI. This is an experimental very low power transmitter. It is unlikely to be of use in serious applications, but the range might surprise some.  On 10m, the antenna is efficient and on a clear frequency it has the potential to get a long way. Over 1000km would not surprise me on a totally clear frequency. After all, 1mW (or so) is about 53 if a 100W signal was 59+12dB. On 10m such signals with 100W are very possible.

See http://ka7oei.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/the-pointless-10-meter-dsb-qrp.html .


I have been on 472kHz WSPR most of the day using 5mW ERP to the earth-electrode "antenna" both on RX and TX.

On RX DK7FC (669km) continues to put out his very strong signal.  It is no wonder he is regularly copied in the USA.

On TX I am still being copied by G0LRD (25km) and G8LCO (58km).

G3YMN (112km) is a new reporter in the last 24 hours. Thank you for your spots.

UPDATE 2148z:  A new reporter, and new country, copying my 5mW ERP from the earth-electrode "antenna" this evening - Finbar, EI0CF (602km), using his Perseus RX and 120m long Beverage antenna. Report was -27dB S/N at 2218z.

Optical communications - over the horizon (NLOS)

The DX record for communications at optical frequencies is phenomenal these days. There is a growing interest in communications over non line of sight paths (NLOS) using cloud-bounce or clear air scattering. To my knowledge, in recent times experiments are (or are about to start) by F1AVY, VK4EBP , VE7SL and G3XBM (when fit again). I am sure there are others too. Weak signal modes certainly help. I used QRSS3 over an 8.5km NLOS path, but much further has been achieved.
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-line-of-sight_propagation .

A couple of useful optical Yahoo groups are:

Australian Optical DX   https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Optical_DX/info

UK Nanowaves              https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/UKNanowaves/info  


There was 10m DX to be had today. The first USA station to spot my 500mW WSPR signal was WG2Z (5600km) at 1216z. At the moment, the last USA station to spot me was K9AN (6505km).

Also spotting me earlier in the day were ZS6A,  ZS6DX and RI1ANR (13676km) in Antarctica.

UPDATE 2028z:   K9AN (6505km) was the last USA station to spot my 500mW  WSPR beacon today.

UPDATE 2032z:  I have now gone QRT on 10m WSPR. Another decent day on the most interesting of bands.


Sunspot number today is a respectable 156 and 10m propagation is expected to be "good".  So far just Europeans copying my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon.

19 Dec 2014

Last USA spot today of my 500mW on 10m?

At the current time, 1910z,  WA0APC (7012km) was the last to spot my 500mW WSPR on 10m at 1650z. Since then, just Europeans spotting me. It is still just about possible that other USA stations might copy me, although it has been dark here now for 3 hours, so I'd be surprised.

The reports from Germany were very strong, so possibly this was winter Es?

UPDATE 2046z:  K9AN (6505km) was the last USA station to spot me on 10m today at 1828z. The last international spots of me on 10m were DK0UG (+1dB S/N) and DK0SC (-11dB S/N) at 1912z. Since then,  just local G4IKZ (18km) spotting my 500mW on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 2230z: Went QRT on 10m WSPR.

472kHz WSPR

All day I have been on 472kHz WSPR and on 10m WSPR since mid-morning. Since mid-afternoon G8LCO (58km) has spotted my 5mW ERP several time. Last night at 0220z I was spotted by F1AFJ (607km). I think this is the second furthermost report of my 5mW ERP with the earth-electrode "antenna".  At some point I really must work out how many unique 472kHz WSPR spots I have had at this QTH. My best DX is over 1000km when I was spotted in Norway.

Antarctica yet again and, of course, the USA

At 1216z I see that my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon was spotted in the Russian base in Antarctica again by RI1ANR (13676km) at -21dB S/N.

My first spot from the USA today was KE6BID (5295km) at 1220z.

UPDATE 1406z: RI1ANR has spotted me 8 times already today so far. From here, the Russian base is almost due south.

UPDATE 1506z:  Propagation on 10m to Antarctica seems to have closed (or RI1ANR is in bed!) as no further spots received in the last 1 hour. He is still shown as being active according to WSPRnet.

UPDATE 1536z:   Plenty of reports again of my little 500mW 10m WSPR beacon today so far.
Unique 10m WSPR spots today so far - 500mW
UPDATE 1656z:    AB4QS (7087km) is currently the best DX in North America. Clearly, the Russian Antarctic base is much further.

Direct conversion ICs - CMX994

Since my days in mobile radio (now nearly 7 years ago) things have moved on.   CML now sell a VHF/UHF direct conversion IC covering 50-940MHz. See http://www.cmlmicro.com/Products/CMX_994_RF_Direct_Conversion_Receiver/?gclid=COrc7qiJ0sICFdLItAodLxEAuA . I wonder if any enterprising radio amateurs have used these yet? I have a feeling the package (ideal for SMA but not for home use) may inhibit its use in amateur projects?
http://www.cmlmi use) cro.com/api/i.aspx?CMX994Promotion.png;529;198

W5OLF website

Jay, W5OLF, the creator of the "no PC needed" WSPR-AXE-CW beacons for WSPR on 30m, 20m or 10m has just started a new website.  He expects to start selling the new versions of his little beacons, either as kits or built and tested units, in late January. These stay on all the time (the PA can be turned iff) , but frequency is randomised over 100Hz within the WSPR window. Once set, the timing is fine for ages and ages - certainly days or even weeks.

Jay's email (replace the (at) with @ ) is: w5olf(at)comcast.net .

His new website is www.w5olf.com .

I am privileged to be a beta tester of his 10m version (500mW). As you will have read in earlier posts, this unit certainly works very well, mine having been copied all over the planet in just a few weeks. Just press a button to sync time on an even minute and watch all the reports come flooding in. I was blown away with mine. Tiny, but brilliant. If you like WSPR I can thoroughly recommend this little unit. It comes pre-programmed with callsign, locator and power level.

UPDATE 1448z: This little unit has been spotted in Antarctica (13676km) 8 times today already. My antenna is nothing special, just a low 3 band end-fed wire.

Sunspots and 10m today

Sunspot number is 168 (good) and 10m daytime propagation is expected to be "good". It should be a good day on 10m for F2 propagation  today. I have still to turn on my little 10m beacon - we are a bit late today!

18 Dec 2014

10m - 500mW WSPR beacon spotted by ZS6A and 4L1QX

Best DX this afternoon with the 500mW WSPR beacon is ZS6A (9195km) at 1540z. My report was -22dB S/N, suggesting 100mW may have been enough. There are lot of USA stations spotting me but none from South America so far.

UPDATE 1735z:  Was spotted early this afternoon in Batumi, Georgia (on the Black Sea coast) by 4L1QX (3299km). No great distance, but my first spot from Georgia I think.

UPDATE 1742z:  The last transatlantic (USA/Canada) WSPR spot of my 500mW beacon was nearly an hour ago by KD6RF (7547km). This looks like being the last stateside spot today at 1656z. As he was an hour after the other last spot, this may not be the very latest. I shall have to wait and see.

UPDATE 1820z:  Still lots of USA spots coming through. The evening is young yet.

UPDATE 2220z:   As the band has now closed for DX, I have gone QRT on 10m WSPR. My PC (used for 472kHz WSPR with the FT817) decided to close WSPR4 around 1610z and I have just restarted it. I am now getting and giving WSPR spots on MF again.

472kHz WSPR - daytime

Currently I am spotting PA0O (440km), PA3ABK/2 (306km) and G8VDQ (93km) and I am being spotted by G0LRD (25km) all on 472kHz WSPR in daylight using my earth-electrode antenna and 5mW ERP on TX.
472kHz daytime WSPR

Sunspots and 10m

Today's sunspot number is a respectable 154 and 10m propagation is expected to be "good". Already, my 500mW 10m WSPR-AXE-CW beacon (from Jay,W5OLF) is being spotted around Europe, but no further as yet. Best DX report this morning is UR/SWL56 at 2283km. I expect 10m to open to the USA and Canada very shortly.

From today here, the evenings start to get a little lighter again - the change is about a minute a day at first - although mornings get darker until early January. It remains to be seen if 10m stays open slightly longer in the early evenings.

I much prefer lighter evenings!

UPDATE 1232z:  The first USA spot of the day was at 1220z from WG2Z (5600km).

6m overnight - nothing at all!

Despite being spot on frequency and time last night, I spotted no-one and no-one spotted me on 6m WSPR, which was disappointing.

I have now QSYed to 472kHz where despite just 5mW ERP and using earth-electrodes as my "antenna" I am spotting others and being spotted myself.

I really should give up on 6m WSPR at this time of the year, as it is a dead loss.

17 Dec 2014

Last 10m WSPR USA spot today

KE6BID (5295km) was the last USA station to spot my 500mW 10m beacon today at 1716z. It seems the band, which has been open every afternoon for months now to the USA, is closing earlier as the days get shorter. In the spring it will be a battle between falling sunspots and lengthening days. I suspect we'll still have decent 10m propagation for a year or so yet. By 2016 though, the best chances of USA stations will be by multi-hop Es in May, June and July. I could be very wrong.

Antarctica - on 10m WSPR again

RI1ANR (13676km) in Antarctica (JB59mm) spotted my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon this afternoon. This is my best DX today so far.

I guess it is nearly mid-summer now down there - endless daylight down on the snow and ice. No doubt it is still very cold though.

6m WSPR - all I need now are some spots!

Having corrected my frequency setting error - I blame my stroke and muddled brain (!) - and reset my PC to internet time (after the Virgin Media broadband worked again), I am now on frequency and accurate time on 6m.  Just looking for some spots now! No luck as yet.

UPDATE 1640z:  Completely separate from my 6m WSPR kit (PC and FT817), I am on 10m WSPR TX running 500mW from my WSPR-AXE-CW beacon designed by W5OLF.  Plenty of spots from the USA already on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 1704z:  Still no luck, so far, on 6m, but I shall be on all night, ever hopeful.  At least there is some activity from the UK from IO92 square which should be in range via aircraft reflection.   Maybe I'll get lucky.  At least I should now be on frequency and time.

Intermittent internet and no phones this morning

For the 3rd (or 4th?) time this year we have had problems in our area (not the house) with our Virgin Media cable services. Normally it is fast and reliable.  Today our phones did not work and our broadband was intermittent. All seems to be fixed now, thank goodness.

When these basic services fail you realise just how dependent on them you have become. Amongst other things, I could not sync to internet time. Minor really, but it prevented my 6m WSPRing. Now sync'd the PC to internet time, but still having no luck on 6m WSPR.

Sunrise and sunset calculator

 See http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/sunrise.html .

If you are like me, you want to know when the sun rises and sets locally. This calculator may be what you need. Here, near Cambridge, the nights start to get lighter from this coming Thursday (Dec 18th) although it is not until Jan 10th until the mornings start to get lighter.

I much prefer light evenings.

6m - I had the setting wrong

One reason for my lack of 6m WSPR spots (other than lack of activity) was that I had the wrong USB dial frequency set (now corrected). I had set 400Hz too low. Hopefully I am now on the correct frequency and might see something!


Sunspot number today is a healthy 169 and 10m is forecast to be "good" daytime.Already, I am getting plenty of EU WSPR spots of my 10m 500mW WSPR beacon, probably via F-layer back-scatter.

16 Dec 2014

Last 10m USA WSPR spot today

KE6BID (5295km) was the last USA station to spot me at 1754z this evening. This is quite early but we are approaching the shortest day.

Another 6m totally blank day

I have been on 6mWSPR (1W ERP)  most of the day, in addition to being on 10m WSPR  (500mW), Still, after days and days of trying on 6m I have spotted no-one and been spotted by no-one at all.

UPDATE 2050z:  I shall stay on 6m overnight, but think I'll be wasting my time!

UPDATE 2244z:  Apparently I am set to the wrong frequency on 6m by some 400Hz (checked by G0LRD) despite using a 0.5ppm TCXO and using the same offset as for 28MHz, which puts me pretty spot on. I'll QSY in the morning. Lack of activity and frequency error are my issues. I am puzzled by the frequency error. In the meantime, you will spot me if set to 50.292600 and not 50.230000MHz

10m transceivers

Looking on the internet, there is a wide selection of 10m (28-29.7MHz) transceivers available. Many can be extended (illegally in the UK) to cover CB frequencies.

As an example, the Alinco DR135 is available for £144.99. I am sure shopping around will show that lower prices are possible. This rig was available (special offer) for less than £100 recently. At one time, single band 10m rigs were illegal in the UK. This is no longer the case and these rigs can be a low cost way of getting on this most interesting band.

First 10m WSPR spot from the USA

No earth-shattering DX spots on 10m WSPR this morning, which was a bit disappointing, as I was expecting great things today.  My first USA spot (of my 500mW beacon) was W3CSW (5886km) at 1238z, quite late in the day really. The 10m band is wide open to the USA currently (1455z).

Sunspots and 10m propagation

Sunspot number today is 152. 10m propagation is forecast to be "good". 10m should be in good shape today.

UPDATE 1455z:  Although the 10m band is wide open to the USA, I was spotted by no great (further) DX stations today, well so far that is.

15 Dec 2014

QRSS and WSPR frequencies

Being a keen WSPR user, I have not used QRSS on HF, although I have done on MF, LF and VLF.  A useful page about QRSS is here.  QRSS requires manual intervention to interpret the signals whereas WSPR using WSPRnet is automatic. This is one of the reasons why WSPR gets used here a lot.

First and last 10m USA WSPR spots today

The earliest USA spot today was at 1240z by W3CSW (5886km).

It is now almost teatime at 1658z and KB9AMG (6300km) is currently still spotting me. Somehow I doubt this will be the last.

UPDATE 2012z:   KE6BID  (5295km) was the last USA spot at 1812z. Since then, just local G4IKZ (18km) spotting me. His beam must be better aligned my way tonight as he as been getting around the -19 to -21dB S/N level.

Full marks to Hans Summers

Thanks to my blog post about the Ultimate 3 beacon yesterday, Hans Summers has arranged to send me the missing GPS unit from my order earlier in the year. I was going to write, but Hans beat me to it! Hans - thank you.

UPDATE 2022z:   I agree that the Ultimate 3 is a pretty comprehensive beacon, but currently it is beyond my (currently clumsy) building skills. I hope next year I'll be able to manage it.

Sunspots and 10m

Sunspot number has risen to 175 and 10m daytime propagation is forecast to be "good". Looks like a good day ahead on 10m.

14 Dec 2014

Ultimate 3 WSPR (and other modes) beacon

The Ultimate3 QRSS/WSPR Transmitter Kit is the third version in the "Ultimate" QRSS/WSPR kit trilogy. It can produce QRSS, Hell, WSPR, Opera and PI4 slow-signal modes anywhere from audio to 10m and above. Plug-in LPF filters are available for all 12 HF/MF/LF bands.
The price is USD $29.00. To order please visit QRP Labs.
The Ultimate 3 is probably the lowest cost beacon available. I still have my unbuilt kit awaiting better health to build, although several kind folk have offered to build mine for me. Jay W5OLF kindly supplied me a 10m 500mW, single PCB, WSPR beacon (WSPR-AXE-CW) ready assembled and that has blown me away: it has been copied in every continent on 10m.  The Ultimate 3 is the more flexible design but the WSPR-AXE-CW is an ideal tiny WSPR only beacon.

My Ultimate 3 kit was ordered with GPS, but it was supplied without this, but with an extra PCB - I think I got the wrong order. I really should write to Hans Summers, but I have been too unwell. For now, the kit remains unbuilt. I intend to build it when I am fitter and less clumsy, hopefully in 2015.

472kHz WSPR - much more productive!

Despite my very low ERP (5mW) on 472kHz and just a short baseline earth-electrode "antenna" system I am decoding M0PPP, G8VDQ, PA3ABK/2 (306km) and PA0O (440km) and I am being spotted by G0LRD (25km).  These are all within minutes of switch-on.

UPDATE 2030z:  4 spots per transmission on latest TX period - not too bad considering the non "antenna" and my very low ERP.  Good to be spotted by G3ZJO (79km).  Eddie must have made improvements as he is regularly spotted here and he often spots me.

6m - I gave up!

Having left 6m WSPR running all night -1W ERP vertical  20% TX, 80% RX - I have now given up and QSYed to MF. There were zero spots given or received. A total dead loss yet again. I think I am going to give up on 6m at this time of the year. To be honest, I was expecting to spot someone last night - probably GDX but nothing at all was a total disappointment. I tried very hard and have done so on about 8 different days in the last month. There is just a lack of 6m activity at this time of the year here in the UK.

Sunspots and 10m - Sunday Dec 14th 2014

Sunspot number today is currently 121 and 10m daytime conditions are "good", so the ARRL 10m contest should be a good one for those taking part. It is on all weekend. I am unable to take part because of visitors although I am WSPRing on 10m and 630m.

13 Dec 2014

HF contests

I am not a great fan of HF contests.  As a QRPer, I find CW contests all but impossible as people tend to send and receive at incredible speeds usually with PCs. SSB is usually better and often the "other end" has worked you before realising you are running QRP.  Later stages of contests are usually easier as the big guns are sweeping for remaining points and looking to work weaker stations.

I have been unable to work in the ARRL 10m contest (visitors this weekend) ) and I forgot the CQWW SSB contest this year! Last year, I was in hospital. It is 2 years since I last took part in CQWW SSB, which I find a very fruitful contest. I usually stick with 10m only.

Each Tuesday evening the RSGB organises a rotating series of VHF/UHF contests (UKAC) and I try to come on for the 50, 144 and 432MHz contests where I am at home and available.  I use 5w pep and a V2000 vertical on 50MHz, a 3 el on 144MHz and 5 el on 432MHz.  On 144 and 432MHz the antenna is hand-rotated. On 50MHz it is vertical and fixed.  I can usually work 150-250km in these contests despite my 5W.

First and last USA 10m WSPR spot today

WG2Z (5600km) was the first in the USA to spot my 10m 500mW beacon at 1226z and 1228z. My signal report was  up to -11dB S/N, which is strong for 500mW. I suspect there will be lots more stateside reports later this afternoon.

My last spot from the USA was at 1640z (quite early) by K9AN (6505km). Local G4IKZ(18km) has not been spotting me. I think his beam is pointing somewhere else.

6m MS - Geminids shower tonight

MS should be good overnight as we are at the peak of the Geminids MS shower.  Overnight I'll leave 6m and 10m WSPR running to see if I get any long pings and possible spots.

Sunspots and 10m

Sunspot number is 132 . 10m propagation is expected to be "good". I am already getting 10m WSPR reports from all over Europe and FR1GZ (9724km) for my 500mW beacon.

A reminder that the ARRL 10m contest is today and tomorrow.

12 Dec 2014

VK again on 10m WSPR

This morning my little 500mW 10m WSPR-AXE-CW beacon was copied in Australia by VK6JI (14439km) at 1026z at -26dB S/N. I thoroughly recommend this tiny single PCB WSPR unit that needs no PC. It fits in an Altoids mint tin. This is F2 propagation.

Yet again, I am also trying 6m WSPR with 1W ERP, but so far with no luck again. I am ever hopeful!

UPDATE 1615z:  Still an absolute blank on 6m WSPR.  Will remain on for a few more hours.

UPDATE 1704z:   ND6M (6914km) currently spotting me on 10m. Pretty sure he will not be the last USA station to spot my 500mW.

UPDATE 1854z:   W3CSW (5886km) was spotting me at 1844z.  Even he may not be the last this evening. Conditions are good still this evening on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 1912z: W3CSW (5886km) does appear to be the last USA station to copy me from the USA. No more spots since 1844z.

ARRL 10m contest this weekend

A reminder that the annual ARRL 10m contest is this coming weekend. Conditions are likely to be good on 10m, so this is a good chance to work some worldwide DX. Next year with the decline in sunspot numbers, this is not likely to be as good. Unfortunately my operating time will be very limited because of visitors.

Sunspots and 10m conditions

Sunspot number has climbed a bit and is 115 today. 10m conditions are forecast to be "fair" although the band seems lively today.

11 Dec 2014

Moved back to 472kHz from 50MHz (6m) WSPR

Just before 1900z I gave up on 6m and QSYed down to MF again with 5mW ERP from the earth-electrode system. These are the unique spots (given and received) so far this evening.
472kHz WSPR unique spots this evening. 5mW ERP, earth-electrodes.
My power was actually 0.005W (5mW) ERP and not 0.5W as shown above. I'd forgotten to change the power setting in WSPRX until a few minutes ago. Darn it.

I am seeing up to 4 spots per transmission on 472kHz WSPR. Not bad for 5mW ERP and a short baseline earth-electrode "antenna" system.

10m - last USA spot was W3CSW

It is now 2115z. Since 1744z, the only station spotting me as been G4IKZ (18km). W3CSW (5886km) was indeed the last USA station to spot me at 1744z. No other transatlantic stations have spotted me since.

6m - another dead loss day

Today I have been WSPRing successfully with my WSPR-AXE-CW (500mW) on 10m, but yet again my efforts on 6m have been a dead loss .  Yet again, nor a single station copied or spotting me on 6m WSPR.  I have concluded that, at this time of year, 6m is a disaster.

UPDATE 1900z:  Still absolutely nothing on 6m. Dead loss.

10m successes

Whilst I struggle to get any activity on the 6m band, 10m WSPR continues to give very good results even with 500mW to a very average low, end-fed wire antenna. These are the unique spots so far today. 4 continents I think. 500mW seems plenty.
10m unique WSPR spots with 500mW today so far.
Think I have mentioned why I enjoy WSPR: currently my voice is poor because of my brain bleed last year. With WSPR, I do not have to use my voice, yet with QRP I can see how propagation is behaving on a given band. Recently,the tiny WSPR-AXE-CW unit has freed up the FT817 and PC so that I can now WSPR on 2 bands at the same time: thre WSPR-AXE-CW runs 500mW continuously on 10m, and I can choose the other band to run on the FT817 and PC. On these I can TX for about 20% and receive for about 80% of the time. All the time I can monitor things on other devices around the house e.g. in the lounge or even in bed. If things need adjusting, I can be in the shack within seconds. This sometimes happens when Windows does an update and the PC needs to be restarted.

UPDATE 1802z:   It is still too early to tell who was the last stateside station to copy my 500mW on 10m. At the moment W3CSW (5886km) is the last at 1744z.

UPDATE 1850z:   W3CSW at 1744z was still the last USA station to spot me. G4IKZ must have a high local noise level or has his beam in just the wrong direction for me as he is spotting me weakly.

Trying again on 6m WSPR

As I am now able to WSPR on 10m TX with 500mW and at the same time WSPR on another band, I have again started up on 6m WSPR with 1W ERP from my vertical V2000 omnidirectional  antenna. I was on MF until about 1435z.

WSPR on 6m has been tried on about 6-7 different days out of the Es season, but so far I have been spotted by no-one and I have seen no-one at all!. The real activity on 6m currently seems to be in Australia where the Es season is in full swing.

10m is much easier.


Sunspot number has risen to 97 and 10m propagation is forecast to be"good" today.

Have just started up both my 5mW ERP on 472kHz and 500mW on 28MHz WSPR.

10 Dec 2014

QSYed to 472kHz WSPR

After a total dead loss on 6m with 30dBm ERP,  I have now QSYed to MF with 5mW ERP from the short baseline earth-electrode "antenna".

Already PA0O (440km) and G3WCB (101km) have been copied strongly and my weeny 5mW ERP signal has already been spotted by G8LCO (58km) and G3WCB (101km). Even with a much lower ERP, MF is so much more productive than 6m at this time of the year.

UPDATE 2145z:  F1AFJ (607km) is currently the greatest DX on 472kHz WSPR on receive.  I'll leave the kit running through the night to see if I see anyone at even greater range. I may even be seen by the odd DX station on TX. I am still using my short baseline earth-electrode system.

UPDATE 2245z:   PA0A (417km) is a colossal signal right now.

UPDATE 2310z:   Although still active on 630m (472kHz) WSPR and I shall be overnight, I have now gone QRT on 10m as I am only being copied by local G4IKZ (18km) on 10m since teatime. Looking for new reporters on 472kHz WSPR. So far this evening, just 3 unique stations have spotted me on 472kHz. BTW set to 474.2kHz  USB dial for  472kHz WSPR.
472kHz unique spots so far tonight with 5mW ERP from earth-electrodes.

6m - a dead loss again

As I can now WSPR on 10m with my little WSPR-AXE-CW beacon without the PC and FT817, it means I can also WSPR on another band at the same time.

At night, I tend to use MF (472kHz) WSPR but I tried WSPR on 6m again today. Yet again, even with 30dBm ERP I was spotted by no-one and spotted no-one at all. 6m was a dead loss yet again. It seems 6m WSPR is largely ignored outside of the Es season.

I may try 6m again, but really it is a dead loss in the UK at this time of year. F2 openings are now very unlikely, especially with my modest set-up.

10m WSPR - last USA spot this evening

W3CSW (5886km) was the last to spot my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon this evening at 1802z at -21dB S/N.  Since then, G4IKZ has been spotting me at between -16 to -22dB S/N.

WSPRnet anomalies?

There are a couple of things I do not like about WSPRnet:
  1. It does not show stations active who have not been very recently spotted (i.e. stations who have not been seen for 10 minutes). This means it does not show stations who are actually active, but unsuccessful  e.g. me on 6m, who has been sending and looking most of the day (and on 6m on several days in the last few months), but without success.
  2. It does not, as far as I can see, allow you to check your logs more than 2 weeks ago, so it is not possible, as far as I can see, to check "all time" records for my call on a given band.  There may be a way using Excel, but it is not easy and I have not found out how to do it!

South America on 10m (CX2ABP) and 6m yet again

CX2ABP (11127km) in Uruguay was spotting my 500mW WSPR signal just before noon today. There are plenty of USA stations spotting me today also.
Recent 10m spots of my 500mW WSPR beacon
I am also WSPRing with 30dBm ERP (to my vertical V2000) on 6m at 20% TX and 80% RX.  So far, no luck at all on 6m yet again. It would have been good to catch some wintertime Es on 6m or even some GDX.

I'll keep trying until after tea tonight on 6m on several different days and drawn a total blank so far. Nothing at all like the peak of the Es season in the summer.

Sunspots and 10m

Sunspot number is almost unchanged at 77. The forecast for 10m remains "fair". I see  several Eastern Europeans are already spotting my 10m 500mW signal, which has just been turned on. More in hope than expectation, I shall again try 6m too.

9 Dec 2014

70cm UKAC this evening

Even with my poor voice, I managed 7 QSOs on 70cms SSB with 5W and a 5 el beam this evening in the Dec 9th 70cms leg of the UKAC. I heard GI and GD but was unable to get heard by them with my QRP!
Stations worked with QRP from home on 70cms tonight.
Best DX was 154km to G8OHM who was very, very patient with my weak signal. Interesting that only 1 portable station was worked. I guess they stay at home on a cold, windy December night.

Last 10m USA WSPR spot today?

W3CSW (5886km) appears to be the last station in the USA to spot my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon at 1810z. WSPRnet is (currently) working again.

Local G4IKZ (18km) has spotted me several times since.  It seems to depend where Nick beams if he copies me or not. Yesterday, Nick did not copy me for hours last night, even though he copied G0LRD running 50mW many times.

UPDATE 1930z:  G4IKZ only copying me now, so W3CSW was the last USA station copying me today.

Stroke update

My cerebellum brain bleed was in Sept 2013. My remaining problems still are (a) poor swallow of unthickened liquids, (b) poor speech and (c) giddiness when walking. Most foods (all by mouth) are OK now. My tiredness now seems far less of a problem than it was. I still get bad days when I feel totally exhausted but there are fewer of these than there once were.

Slowly, oh so slowly, I am mending. I am allowed to drive again now and this has been fine, although I tend to stick to local drives so far.  I still feel "not right".

I hope my voice, swallow and giddiness all improve in the months ahead. The experts tell me they will.

WSPRnet problems

WSPR signals propagate around the world and allow very weak signals to be correctly decoded. WSPR is some 12-14dB better than normal speed CW. If 10W gets through on CW less than 1W is quite enough with WSPR. My own 10m 500mW beacon, to a simple "nothing special" end-fed wire antenna has been copied on every continent in recent weeks, including Australasia and Antarctica.

The main bonus with WSPR is that all reports can be automatically sent to an internet database (WSPRnet), so anyone can see where signals are reaching and how well. Today though, the WSPRnet database has been in trouble, possibly due to being overloaded. It was not working the last time I checked but was working late this morning.

Sunspot number and 10m

Sunspot number today is 77 and 10m daytime propagation is forecast to be "fair". 10m opened yet again to the USA after lunchtime.

8 Dec 2014

Back on 10m with WSPR-AXE-CW beacon

Every WSPR-AXE-CW transmission with 500mW WSPR on 10m (I resumed with this beacon today) seems to result in 7-9 reports (spots on WSPRnet)  during most 2 minute slots, and the vast majority are from the USA. This little "all in one" beacon by Jay W5OLF (single tiny board and no PC needed) really does work well. Once sync'd to internet time or other good reference on an even minute, it holds time stability for ages. Frequency is randomly moved within 100Hz every 2 minutes to minimise interference.

UPDATE 1738z:  KU4QI (6406km) is currently the last USA station to spot me at 1628z, which is quite early, but it is now over an hour since the last spot was received.

UPDATE 1912z:  I checked the WSPR-AXE-CW DT by listening on the FT817. I set the clock to internet time around 1500z.  Setting by hand (pressing the push button) it is easy to be 0.3 secs or so out at the start.  After about 3 hours it was -1.0 sec, which is still quite good. No further transatlantic DX seen and currently no locals yet monitoring. I hope G4IKZ comes on RX soon.  Even with no antenna on the FT817 RX and the attenuator in circuit, the WSPR-AXE-CW is 13 to 15dB S/N i.e. very strong. The WSPR-AXE-CW beacon uses a 2N7000 FET class E PA and is not even warm with a good 50 ohm load.

UPDATE 2140z:  G4IKZ is on 10m RX and is copying G0LRD's 50mW but not copying me. OK I am about twice as far away and my antenna is not as good at G0LRD's. I reset my WSPR-AXE-CW clock and the DT is only 0.2 secs out. I also reset the power. I can copy myself on an FT817 without antenna and it is fine. Maybe G4IKZ's antenna is directional (I think he uses a Moxon beam). I don't think the problem is at my end.

10m WSPR - USA and Canada

The first mainland stateside report of my 500mW 10m WSPR today was by WG2Z (5600km) at -15dB S/N (good signal) at 1222z. Since then, he has copied me several times. Yet again, it is mainly the faithful old same reporters on WSPR. We could do with more new reporters!

My first spot here on 10m stateside was W3CSW (5886km) who was first seen here at 1300z.

Caribbean on 10m WSPR

FG5LA (6689km) in FK96ef (Guadaloupe) was spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR at 1140z this morning. This bodes well for the USA and Canada later. I am pretty sure this is the first time I have been spotted in Guadaloupe.

Sunspots - Monday Dec 8th

Sunspot number has declined a little further to 58. 10m daytime propagation is forecast to be "fair" only. We'll see what the day brings. I am currently on 10m WSPR (20% TX) running 500mW.

7 Dec 2014

Android WSPR apps

Thanks (again) to Steve G1KQH, these are Android apps for WSPR. I see they now include a TX beacon.
Two new WSPR Apps for Android
WSPR Beacon

and another I have just found:

73 Steve

Kanga UK Site

See http://www.kanga-products.co.uk/ .

This website has some good products on it. They also sell crystals for QRP frequencies at sensibly low prices and stock Si5351A boards to allow low cost generation of frequencies from less than 8kHz to over 150MHz, useful when crystals for specific frequencies can be very expensive. See also http://m0xpd.blogspot.co.uk/ .

They are also the UK dealer for the OpenQRP transceivers.

10m WSPR Stateside

My 1634z 500mW 10m WSPR transmission was spotted by 9 different stations. Most of these were in the USA. When the band is open to North America, as it has been every day for weeks and weeks now in the afternoons, 500mW seems quite enough to be copied very well over there. Increasing power to 5W makes very little difference.

Once the path closes, more power does not help. One may get a better report and the band may remain open for a few more minutes, but that is all.

1634z 500mW 10m WSPR TX transmission
UPDATE 1940z:   K3GEN (5883km) at 1744z seems to be the last USA station spotted here on 10m WSPR this evening. The last spot of my 10m 500mW WSPR was by N2BJW (5262km) a few minutes earlier at 1738z.

UPDATE 2218z:   Spotting G0LRD (25km) running 50mW and G4IKZ (18km) spotting me. Now going QRT.

G8YQN (217km) on 10m WSPR

Just spotted G8YQN (217km).  This is the best GDX I have seen and, judging by the trace on the screen, this was tropo with some aircraft reflections, At -22dB S/N, not a bad signal for 5W.

GM4WJA on 10m WSPR - a real puzzle

GM4WJA (624km) has been spotting my 500mW a few times  on 10m WSPR of late.  This is too far for tropo and aircraft reflections, and far too close for F2 propagation. I assume propagation in either F-layer back-scatter or possibly Es.

10m wakes up

Since 1142z, the 10m WSPR slot seems to haven amnwoken up with a mix of European stations both near and far. Some are GDX, possibly off aircraft, some are probably F2 propagation and some are at a difficult distance that could be E-layer or back-scatter. If the band is opening by winter Es I would expect  more widespread EUs to be copied lunchtime.  If true to recent form, the 10m band should open to the USA after lunch. With slightly lower sunspots, maybe the transatlantic path will be more marginal today?

UPDATE 1245z:   W3CSW (5886km) was spotting my 500mW WSPR a few minutes ago at a respectable -20dB S/N.

UPDATE 1320z:   KU4QI (6406km) is spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR at -18dB S/N.

UPDATE 1358z:  Although several USA stations have now spotted my 500mW on 10m WSPR, I have yet to spot even a single USA station here! Not sure why this should be as most are using 5W (10dB more than me. I am seeing LZ1OI OK though.

UPDATE 1412z:  My FT817 was set to "narrow" and the pass band tuning was set too high, so only allowing the strongest signals to be decoded.   Since switching to normal passband I am copying plenty of transatlantic signals. There had to be answer, and there was.

Sunspot number - "only" 73

I say this with a degree of sarcasm, knowing that we'd be thrilled with a SN of 73 in a year or two's time. 10m conditions are expected to be "fair". So far, my 500mW WSPR beacon is getting no spots since switch-on just after 1100z.

UPDATE 1240z:   The 10m WSPR sub-band seems to have "woken up" around 1142z, with plenty of EU activity since that time.

6 Dec 2014

QSYed to 472kHz

At around 1515z, I QSYed down to MF (472kHz) WSPR and immediately spotted PA3ABK/2 (306km) when using my short baseline earth-electrode "antenna".

Already, G0LRD (25km) and G8HUH (250km) have spotted me on 472kHz WSPR. The earth-electrode antenna does really work pretty well both on RX and TX despite my very low ERP (5mW) on the band.

UPDATE 1624z:  PA0O (440km) also spotted on RX.

UPDATE 1832z:  G7NKS (46km) has now come on and is spotting me.

UPDATE 1800z: G8LCO (58km) now spotting me.

UPDATE 2100z:   Best DX on RX so far this evening is F1AFJ (607km) at -29dB S/N at 1946z.

UPDATE 2318z:   My 472kHz 5mW ERP WSPR will remain on overnight using the earth-electrode "antenna".

6m WSPR - I am giving up soon!

Well, I did think that today I'd have more success on 6m, but I think it was wishful thinking: I've now been on the band for nearly 6 hours and it is DEAD.  I'll give it a little longer then QSY to 10m or 472kHz.

Looks like there was a little Es in Australia otherwise very quiet on 6m. GDX requires stations to be active and I guess outside the Es season, people don't use the band much outside of the occasional contest.


Sunspot number today has declined to 97 today. 10m propagation is forecast to be "fair". Today looks like an average day on 10m. As said in my previous post I am trying 6m, but so far no success!

6m WSPR - what a waste of effort, so far

Since around 0915z, I have been using about 30dBm (1W) ERP vertical on 6m WSPR on 20% TX, with the remainder of the time on RX. In all that time I have seen NOTHING and been seen by NOBODY at all. I was hoping to catch a little GDX or wintertime Es, but no luck so far.

I shall stick with 6m for a few more hours, but think it now unlikely I'll spot anyone or anyone will spot me on 6m now. Not quite sure why I bother as I always draw a blank on 6m. The summer Es season was very productive and I am disappointed by the "out of season" 6m activity.

5 Dec 2014

Stateside on 10m today

This afternoon has, again, been good with lots of spots of my 500mW 10m WSPR from North America. These are just some of the spots this afternoon, showing in time order.  As you see, most spots are from North America.
UPDATE 1745z:  K4COD (6826km) is still spotting me.

UPDATE 1906z:  KB1TLC (4983km) spotted by 500mW WSPR on 10m at 1812z. At the moment, this looks like the last spot today from North America, although I shall be on for a while yet.

UPDATE 1922z:  Currently,WSPRnet is showing 61 stations active on 10m WSPR. However, if the propagation is not there, stations cannot be copied.
UPDATE 2000z:  Just G0LRD (25km)  running 50mW now being copied on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 2003z:  I may try 6m WSPR tomorrow to see if there is any wintertime Es.

UPDATE 2230z:  Now QRT.

10m winter Es?

DL6YCU (522km) is now spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR. I am seeing lots of closer EU stations on the 10m band. I am wondering if this is the start of the winter Es season? It usually occurs December and January. I should return to 6m WSPR soon!

OFCOM statement: Updating the Amateur Radio Licence

OFCOM here in the UK have decided to make 470kHz and the 5MHz slots available to full licence holders without the need for an NoV. There are some other changes too, mainly affecting microwave bands in the UK.

See http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/amateur-radio-licence/statement?utm_source=updates&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=amateur-statement-dec14 .

Sunspots and 10m

Sunspot number today is 137 yet 10m propagation is only forecast to be "fair". This is the day I spot New Zealand on 10m WSPR!   On previous days when 10m propagation was "good"  I did not.  

Moral - on 10m the forecasts are a guide. Do not always take them as gospel.

UPDATE 1020z:  Still just Europeans copying my 500mW on 10m WSPR . No more "super DX" seen yet today.

ZL on 10m WSPR today

ZL2IT (18569km) running 5W was spotted here on 10m WSPR this morning at 0946z, not long after turning the rig on.  He was not strong at -25dB S/N.  As yet, no reports of my 500mW from Australia or New Zealand today.

Just Europeans spotting me so far this morning. Distances seem to suggest F-layer propagation, although I am unsure about some of the closer stations e.g. Italy which could be back-scatter or even Es. Every day now my 500mW is copied right across Europe.

UPDATE 1105z:   Just spotted LX and DL on 10m WSPR. This far too short for F2 propagation. I suspect this is Es as there are now lots of closer EU stations being copied. No Doppler evident on these signals.

UPDATE 2200z:  The day ended with reports of my 500mW WSPR from no further than the USA. In 2 years time I'd be thrilled to bits with this! Today, the USA and Canada are easy even with 500mW.

4 Dec 2014

Last transatlantic spot of my 500mW on 10m WSPR?

WG2Z (5600km) was spotting me well at 1842z but no-one else from the other side of the Atlantic has since then. Only time will tell if this was the last one tonight. I shall stay on 10m WSPR for a few more hours yet.

G0LRD (25km) running 50mW s now the only station being copied currently.

UPDATE 2004z:  WG2Z at 1842z does appear to be the last USA station spotting me today. The last USA station that I copied was also WG2Z in the immediately preceding time slot. The 10dB difference in power seems to make no difference: once the path closes, that is the end of it.

UPDATE 2042z:  Still just G0LRD (25km) running 50mW being copied now on 10m WSPR. I shall probably go QRT at around 2100.

UPDATE 2155z:  Now QRT until after breakfast time tomorrow.

Our varied hobby

One of the great things about amateur radio is the number of different ways in which the hobby can be enjoyed.

For over a year now my health has been poor because a brain bleed in September 2013. Before then, I enjoyed QRP QSOs (mainly SSB), construction and field experiments from VLF to optical. Since my stroke I have been clumsy and (until recently) not allowed to drive. Very very slowly, normality is returning but I think it will be way into 2015 before I can call myself well.

In the meantime, I still manage WSPR and other digital modes from home. I can even, albeit briefly, manage our local 2m FM net and the occasional VHF/UHF contest. Some people enjoy satellites, MS or moonbounce. Others just like to ragchew on 80m.

We must rejoice that there are so many different, yet equally valid, ways of enjoying ourselves. We have a great hobby.

10m WSPR - too easy right now?

Conditions on 10m really are good right now and in a few years time it will be hard to believe how good they  really were. Enjoy the good times - it may be a very long time, if ever in some of our lifetimes, before we see such F2 conditions on 10m again. Yes 10m is ALWAYS fun in the spring and summer months when Es is good but right now F2 propagation on 10m in the daytime is very good and worldwide DX is possible.
Unique 500mW 10m WSPR reports so far today (at 1700z)

VLF amateur radio

Being involved in VLF amateur radio is a very specialised activity requiring special (but low cost) kit to be successful. Casual listening is highly unlikely to be successful. Long distance reception of amateur VLF signals usually involves looking for signals using Spectrum Laboratory software locked to a VLF MSK signal so that very narrow bandwidths can be looked at for hours or days on end.

Most amateur VLF tests are done on 8.27kHz as this is unallocated spectrum in many countries.

News about amateur VLF activity can be found at https://sites.google.com/site/sub9khz/ . There has been very little amateur VLF work done this year but amateur VLF signals have crossed the Atlantic.

Tests using utilities assisted earth-mode do not involve big loading coils. Just under 6km has been achieved with just 5W using this mode, before I had my stroke! The kit was simple too. See https://sites.google.com/site/sub9khz/earthmode .

One of the things I am really looking forward to, when fit again, is some more field work with VLF using earth-mode.

Reaching Reunion Is on 10m WSPR

Reunion Is.. (Image from Wikipedia)
FR1GZ (9724km) on Reunion Island in the South Indian Ocean was copying my 500mW 10m WSPR signal at 1300z today at -26dB S/N and again a little later.  We have exchanged 10m WSPR reports many times before but in the past I was usually using 2W.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C3%A9union .

Sunspot number - Dec 4th 2014

Sunspot number today currently is 124 and 10m daytime propagation remains good. 10m is again open across the Atlantic, and my 500mW 10m WSPR is reaching further afield too.

3 Dec 2014


I may have missed being spotted on 10m WSPR this morning by VK5MR (South Australia) as he was spotting G stations well this morning, but well before I came on air at around 1000z. Looks like I need to have everything on and working an hour earlier to be spotted.

UPDATE 2105z:   Time to go QRT on 10m.

UPDATE 2215z:    Finally went QRT on 10m WSPR at 2210z.

Last stateside spots of my 500mW 10m WSPR tonight

Canadian VE2MLS (5422km) and W3CSW (5886km) spotted me at 1728z. At the moment these look like the last spots from across the Atlantic.

UPDATE 1920z:   No further reports from across the Atlantic since VE2MLS and W3CSW at 1728z, so these were almost certainly my last transatlantic reports this evening.

27 unique WSPR spots so far today on 10m with 500mW

So far today (it is 1530z as I write this) 27 different stations have reported my 500mW on 10m WSPR. Most are stateside stations in the USA and Canada. This has been the pattern for weeks and weeks now.

Every day, the 10m band opens across the Atlantic around lunchtime and usually closes to the USA and Canada just after teatime. 10m is a wonderful band to be enjoyed by all at its best.  It is still fun at other parts of the cycle too, but FAR more quiet.
10m WSPR unique reports of my 500mW so far today.
UPDATE 1600z:   Best DX is now N6RY (8756km) just south of Los Angeles on the west coast of the USA.

UPDATE 1930z:  32 unique 10m WSPR spots received in the last 12 hours with 500mW - not a bad day, but no "super" DX spots today.

QRPme website

See www.qrpme.com .
Always on the look out for interesting QRP projects, the QRPme website has lots of interesting and low cost projects. They also sell crystals for QRP frequencies and MePads and MeSquares, which are very useful. In all, a useful resource for keen QRP enthusiasts.

10m F2? WSPR

WG2Z (5600km) was the first USA station to spot my 500mW on 10m WSPR today at 1200z. In the other direcction, I spotted N1MGO (5293km) just minutes earlier. CX2ABP (11127km) was spotted here at 1158z.

Apart from the USA and the one South American, all stations have been in Europe or near Asia. I assume this is F-layer or F-layer back-scatter, but guess some nearer EU stations could have been Es?

UPDATE 1450z:  My 1444z 10m 500mW WSPR transmission was spotted by 11 stations, all of whom, apart from 1, were in the USA and Canada.

Sunspots - Dec 3rd 2014

Today's sunspot number has dropped quite a bit to 104. The forecast for 10m conditions remain "good" however.

UPDATE 1034z:  10m spots of my 500mW WSPR are being received around Europe only, but it is still very early.

UPDATE 2032z:   Sunspot number is increasing again and is currently 146.

2 Dec 2014

10m WSPR - last USA spots today

W4HFZ (6819km) was the last to spot my 500mW WSPR in the USA today at 1756z. The last USA station I spotted on 10m WSPR was K3GEN (5883km) a few minutes later. Since then, earlier than yesterday, the 10m band has been closed here to the USA and Canada.

UPDATE 2130z:   G0LRD (25km) running 50mW has been copied 5 times since teatime and 48 times in the last 24 hours.

10m WSPR spots today

There have been 35 unique spots of my 500mW WSPR on 10m today, mostly USA stations, with best DX 8508km from WA7HL at -22dB S/N. These are just some of the reports today so far.  Note, no DX beyond the USA,well so far anyway.

ITU Plenipotentiary Meeting - Busan Korea 2014

I have not had a chance to wade through the report(s) from this ITU meeting in Korea ahead of WRC2015 to see if a contiguous 60m band amateur allocation is any more probable. The few bits I did read were talking about budgets! We certainly will need a contiguous 60m band in the quiet years ahead. A nice new worldwide amateur band there would be very welcome.

See http://www.itu.int/en/plenipotentiary/2014/Pages/default.aspx .

Sunspots and 10m conditions - Dec 2nd 2014

Sunspot number today is a respectable 160 and 10m daytime conditions are forecast to remain"good". Yet again, 10m is wide open to the USA. No DX reports from further afield (as yet) with my 500mW WSPR.

FT-991 from MLS - would you believe the PRICE??

Thanks to Steve G1KQH, I see that Martin Lynch is advertising the new FT-991 from Yaesu at an incredibly high price of £1299.95.  When first shown, a price of £999 was talked about and I thought that was high. £1299.95 is surely a joke MLS?
The image above resides on the MLS website and NOT on this blog. The image and link will be removed if a problem.

Maybe MLS is trying to pay the rent on their new premises or they want to look generous when discounting? Sorry, but you have just LOST one potential customer who is NOT prepared to be ripped off. A fairer price would be £799. When I bought my FT817ND from them earlier in the year I was impressed with them. Sorry, but this is exploitation.Why rip us off? What margins are you getting,especially with the excellent exchange rates to the Yen? Come on, we are NOT all stupid! It looks a nice radio at the right price.

See http://www.hamradio.co.uk/amateur-radio-main-equipment-base-station-radio-yaesu-base-station-radio/yaesu/yaesu-ft-991-hf-50mhz-vhf-uhf-base-station-transceiver-pd-5621.php.

The latest exchange rate was 186.373 Yen to £1 which is WAY better than 2 years ago when it was about 130 Yen to £1.   Dealers - PLEASE NOTE!!!!! Don't rip us off!!! Your customers ARE aware of the greatly improved exchange rates.Funny how prices don't seem to follow.

1 Dec 2014

My poor voice (stroke)

For reasons I don't understand, my brain is unable (at present) to communicate properly to my (fully working) voice box. My voice box was checked with a camera (down my nose) a few months ago.

Although my speech sounds OK to me (clarity and loudness) apparently it is a whisper and hard to understand. All the time I feel breathless.I am told this is all a result of my brain bleed and it will, in the end, recover. I have to be patient! 

Although I can manage short speech periods on the air (VHF/UHF UKAC sessions, for 30-60 minutes and on our Monday 2m net for similar times) I find voice QSOs effortful, hence why I use WSPR and other digital modes a lot right now. Hopefully thing will improve in 2015.

10m WSPR 500mW, last USA spot

WG2Z (5600km) appears to be the last station to spot my 500mW on 10m WSPR today, at 1706z. At the moment I am still spotting USA stations as many are running 5W or more. The band will soon close to the USA and these stations will soon disappear too.

UPDATE 1755z:   W4BZW (using 10W) was last spotted at 1734z. The 10m band seems to have closed to the USA and Canada. So, going from 500mW (to an indifferent antenna) to 10W gained just under 30 minutes.

UPDATE 1850z:   I spoke too soon. W7CNK (7458km) running 5W was still being copied here at 1846z on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 1920z:  KD4YDD (6717km) was still being spotted at 1918z. No-one is copying my 500mW apart from local G4IKZ (18km)!

UPDATE 2030z:  Well I was surprised.  W4HFZ (6819km) on the Florida/Georgia border spotted my 500mW WSPR at 1934z and I spotted him immediately before this time. 10m stayed open much later to the USA than I expected today.  I think the band is now closed but will continue to monitor and transmit.

UPDATE 2230z:  No other stateside spots since W4HFZ above.