30 Jun 2015

Thunder risks

This next few days we are at great risk of thunder and lightning. We are in the middle of a heatwave with hot, damp air moving up from the south. As a precaution I have disconnected the 10m and 6m WSPR rigs, PC, antennas and mains plugs.

Luckily I have never suffered a lightning strike but know friends who have. One was living in a very ordinary home, was not a radio amateur or SWL, had no big antennas, but his electrics were knocked for six and ruined. Earth's natural electrical activity should always be treated with respect. I don't like thunderstorms at all.  Even if not directly hit, the power surges can cause damage.

As I write this, Greece is having bad storms according to the maps.

See http://www.lightningmaps.org/realtime?lang=en .

Sunspots and 10m - Tues June 30th 2015

Sunspot number has little changed. Today it is 36 (K=2) and 10m propagation remains "poor". I am not expecting great F2 propagation but have gone QRT (storm risks) on 10m and 6m.

UPDATE 1025z:  There was early Es evident here on 10m WSPR (Italian spotting me ) but quiet on 6m WSPR

29 Jun 2015

6m WSPR - just Gs here all day

What a disappointing day on 6m!  Quite a few WSPR spots given and received but all have been G stations with no sign of Es here. With thunderstorms close, I shall probably go QRT on 6m and 10m in the morning

EA8BVP (2986km) - 39 spots on 10m WSPR so far

EA8BVP (2986km) has spotted me 39 times so far on 10m WSPR today. There has been some Es on 10m but very little. I suspect some of these spots were Es but most, I think, were F2. EA8BVP has spotted me most days now for months.

JT9-1 on 20m and 10m

As 10m and 6m were doing nothing much, I had another outing on JT9-1 on 20m QRP.  There were several stations active.  A look on PSK reporter showed that my CQ signals were crossing Europe (see map), but sadly no-one wanted a QSO. With QRP, I think the best strategy is to call others calling CQ. There seems plenty of space on JT9-1 on 20m.

A CQ call on 10m JT9-1 was not successful, although I have used this mode on 10m in the past. Unlike WSPR, JT9-1 is a true 2-way digital mode, with QSOs taking about 6 minutes to complete. WSPR works with weaker signals but needs 2 minute periods, whereas JT9-1 overs are just 1 minute.

Hate and the internet - NOT amateur radio

There is no doubt that the internet is a powerful force for good and evil. It allows people to connect, whether fit or disabled and irrespective of class, creed, or sexual orientation. However there is also a dark side. People can use it to spread hate and violence. There is a fine line between openness and censorship. I am a believer that what a person does in private is his or her affair as long as no-one else is hurt. What is acceptable to one person may not be to someone else. However, I believe it is right to take down anything that is hateful or incites others to act in a hateful way. As long as all the people involved are consenting it matters not what happens in private. A line is crossed when hate is incited. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and ISPs should remove all material likely to incite hate.

Disappointing day so far on 10m and 6m WSPR

It has been disappointing on 10m with very little Es seen here so far. On 6m, it has been even worse with just G spots given and received.

If things continue to be poor I may try some JT9-1 on a lower band.

Sunspots and 10m - June 29th 2015

Sunspot number is a little up on yesterday at 39 (K=2), but 10m is expected to remain "poor" today.  I have already been spotted by EA8BVP (2986km) on 10m WSPR,which is hopeful, but this may have been Es.

28 Jun 2015

JT9-1 (20m) and a change on 10m

For a complete change I went on JT9-1 on 20m for a little while (worked LZ5QZ) then returned to 10m WSPR using the FT817 so I could receive as well as transmit. I am running about 2W and see that EA8BVP (2986km) has yet again spotted me on 10m.  I am spotting G4IKZ (18km).

Hard reset time

As part of my recovery I usually do a short 5 minute walk morning and night.  When out this evening I did a "hard" reset of my 10m and 6m WSPR stations.  All power was removed, the PC (used with the FT817 on 6m) was turned off for the duration of the walk. Now home again both the 6m and 10m WSPR kits were turned on again and the whole lot sync'd to Internet time.

I hope to stay on both bands overnight, although, so far, I have not managed to catch any transatlantic Es openings. I remain hopeful. Because of the high thunder risk later in the week I may have to go QRT though, which will be a pity. Hopefully this will be a short break only.

Heatwave? - NOT amateur radio

So the Met Office (our weather bureau) is forecasting a heatwave. Many is the time I have said they should buy new seaweed as their forecasts are so wrong so often despite their investment in multi-million  pound supercomputers.

Currently we have rain here!

Yesterday, next Saturday (we have grandchildren here) was forecast to be a good sunny day. Now the forecast is rain. The best forecast is to see what is expected by the Met Office and assume the exact opposite. Unless we have a great big high pressure system over us their forecasts are useless. The week before this, when we went to Jersey for a week, (June 13-20th)  the weather was (at best) expected to be "mixed". We had glorious sunshine most days all day long. Sorry, but I am not impressed. I hear the many excuses for poor forecasts, but give us a "confidence reading" for the forecast if you don't know. A poor forecast is no use at all!

Met Office? - pathetic. 3/10 "could do better".

The best forecasts seem to be to stick your head out the window and look.

Sunspots and 10m - Sun June 28th 2015

Sunspot number has fallen again to just 25 (K=3) and 10m propagation (F2) is expected to be "poor".  We should not expect much on 10m F2 today, although Es is already livening things up on 6m WSPR. I wonder if EA8BVP will spot me (as usual) on 10m WSPR.  This I suspect is single hop N-S F2 although this is certainly possible by Es. At the moment I have seen no 10m Es spots yet  for my little 5000mW beacon. Others may be more fortunate.

Early 6m Es today? - CN8LI again

CN8LI (2113km) was spotted at -13dB S/N at 0816z this morning on 6m WSPR. I assume this is Es. This is promising so early in the day.

His ERP is probably 10dB more than mine. Drift was high, which could be his rig stabilising, Es patches moving or even aircraft reflections at his end or mine.

I guess this could even be single hop F2?  2113km is F2 range.

CN8LI tends to be right at the bottom of the WSPR sub-band. I may miss some spots of him as he may be out of band (to me) sometimes?

UPDATE 1100z:  CN8LI has been spotted strongly (-10dB S/N) on 6m WSPR by 4X1RF (3860km). Multi-hop Es? It is a very long way across the Med.

27 Jun 2015

10m DT way off - now reset

I had an anonymous comment to tell me that my 10m beacon's DT (timing error) was over 3 seconds out. I have had this before. The cure last time was a hard reset and I have done this again, removing all power for 10 minutes and resyncing to internet time. I was still getting decodes but you must reach a point when the receiver's software cannot cope and just gives up. Hopefully this will do the trick.

By using the FT817 and PC, I can check my 10m DT myself. This means going QRT on 6m for a few minutes. I'll do this now.

UPDATE 1618z:  10m DT checked after hard reset. Now DT = -0.3secs, which is good.

Tunisia - NOT amateur radio

I feel sorry for this nation which is bound to be adversely affected by the killings yesterday. Tunisia is a peaceful country that just wanted to get on with life as usual. Sadly, this will not be so for some time to come: tourists are likely to choose alternative destinations and avoid Muslim nations.

Surely, in the end, this is counter-productive? Whatever your views on Islam are, people are likely to become fearful of these people, when the vast majority just want to live in peace and share kindness. Sadly there is evil in our world which must never defeat us.

CN8LI (2113km) on 6m WSPR

Although I have spotted this Moroccan station a couple of times on 6m this afternoon, at quite reasonable S/N, I am still waiting for him to spot me. I shall be on 10m acnnd 6m WSPR at least until late tonight assuming there is no thunder around.

UPDATE 1536z:  Still just the 2 spots of CN8LI on 6m WSPR but no spots by him of me so far today.

UPDATE 1632z:  Mostly Gs on 6m with a little bit of Es earlier this afternoon including spots exchanged with CT1PT (1685km).

Yaesu rebate (UK/ Europe)

I see MLS is offering rebates on Yaesu gear for the next few weeks. The rebate on the FT817 is £36, making the effective retail price around £413. As  far as I can see this is just a marketing ploy. A few years ago you could buy the FT817 for £349.

With the very good exchange rate currently I am surprised they don't just slash the price and clear the shelves ready for the replacement. All development costs for the FT817 were recovered years ago, so the true retail price should be below £400. Yet again we are being taken for a ride I think.

The prices are as they are because we, Joe Public, is prepared to buy at these prices. My heart bleeds for all the poor dealers.

Sunspots and 10m - Sat June 27th 2015

Sunspot number has fallen again and stands at 28 today (K=3) and 10m propagation is expected to be "poor".  F2 propagation on 10m today will be marginal at best, although Es is expected to liven up both 10m and 6m.

26 Jun 2015

10m Es

I am still TXing on 10m WSPR but, so far, all the spots have been by either G stations or Europeans. I am still hopeful of some transatlantic Es but this has not been seen here yet this season.

Warmth - NOT amateur radio

At last we seem to be in high summer with high temperatures and high humidity. Although we have passed the longest day, evenings are still light for weeks to come.  The real change tends to come in September. It must be my age but it seems only 5 minutes since last Christmas! We'll blink and it will be Christmas 2015 and the nights will start to draw out again!

UPDATE June 27th 1538z: The forecast for next week is temperatures in the 30-34 deg C range.  This would be hot.

Africa (CN8LI again) on 6m WSPR

Spots on 6m have again been exchanged with CN8LI (2113km) in IM63nx square (Morocco, N.W. Africa). So far today, my 6m 1W ERP WSPR has been spotted in 3 continents (Europe, Asia and Africa).  I would very much like to spot, or be spotted, on 6m WSPR by stations on the other side of the Atlantic.

UPDATE 1233z:  Plenty of 6m Es about today.

UPDATE 1428z:   Funny how I get reports from a greater distance on 6m than 10m when there is Es around. OK I run a little more RF ERP on 6m (3dB more) but I think skip distance must be longer on 6m than 10m.

UPDATE 1441z:  CN8LI has just spotted my 6m WSPR at -5dB S/N. This implies he would still get me if I was using just 5mW ERP on 6m.  Magic band!

UPDATE 1548z:  So far today  CN8LI (2113km) has spotted my 1W ERP 6m WSPR 10 times. Strongest report was +4dB S/N. Incredible Es. He has been spotting me for almost 4 hours.

UPDATE 1748z:  6m unique WSPR spots, so far today. Plenty of decent Es around:

UPDATE 1825z:  I see from WSPRnet that 4X1RF has been spotting lots of stations all across Europe as well as CN8LI today.

Sunspots and 10m - June 26th 2015

Sunspot number has fallen further to 33 (K=3) and 10m propagation is expected to remain "poor" at least for F2 propagation. Both 10m and 6m have got off to a promising start on Es though. Maybe today we'll see some transatlantic DX on 10m and 6m by Es?

Back on 6m WSPR and spotted by 4X1RF yet again at incredible range

Around 0730z I QSYed from MF to 6m. I am expecting some decent Es on 6m today.

UPDATE 0856z:   Just been spotted on 6m WSPR by 4X1RF (3519km) in KM72ls square. Apart from this, just spots exchanged with G0OQK (98km). As I mentioned before, I am not at all convinced that these spots from Israel are multi-hop Es. Es (maybe)  but they occur so often!  I think this is the 4th day this season and he copied me last year too.

Overnight 10m Es

Although MF was quiet here overnight there was plenty of Es on 10m through the night with spots received from all over Europe. Even if there is little F2 on the band, Es should liven 10m (maybe 6m too).

25 Jun 2015

I fancy some 472kHz WSPR!

It is ages since I was active on 472kHz, so I might fire up the FT817 and transverter to see if anyone can spot my 5mW ERP or I can spot others. I shall use the earth-electrode "antenna" and go QRT on 6m to free up the FT817.

It is summertime, so noise levels will be higher, making my weak signal harder to copy than in the winter. It will take me about 5 minutes to swap bands and reset everything. The FT817 has to be set to 500mW and split mode so I receive directly on the 472kHz band but TX on the 80m band into the transverter.

If you copy me on 472kHz WSPR please report it.

UPDATE 2009z:  Well, that was a good start! I just switched to MF and received 2 spots by G8HUH in IO81mg (250km) in daylight. I shall now leave 474.2kHz WSPR running overnight to see what else happens. With 5mW (maybe less) ERP I am quite happy with his -26/-27dB S/N reports.

UPDATE 2126z:  So far G8HUH (250km) has spotted me 10 times this evening. I have spotted no-one and no-one else has spotted me, as yet.

UK population now 64.6M - NOT amateur radio

I am NOT a racist and never shall be. In fact I believe the UK should welcome in genuine refugees from war-torn parts of the world. We should make these poor people very welcome. They have suffered too much already and all they want is peace.

However, we are a small island and the UK and not the EU should have the last word on deciding who can live and work here. I am all for the EU as a trading entity without trade barriers, but that is it, unless some individual member states want an ever closer political union. Let them go ahead but don't ask all to follow.  Last year our population grew by 500000. This is the equivalent of a major city.  Such growth is not sustainable thinking of food, water, jobs and housing.

No, enough is enough. We, the UK, should control our borders and we should run our affairs through our elected parliament. I wish David Cameron well in renegotiating our relationship with the EU, although he has a monumental task. What surprises me is why other nations don't share our concerns thinking of their own situations.  Moderate population growth? Yes. Explosive growth over which we have zero control ? No thanks. We need quotas and a points system. The current situation is out of control.

Here's to a new deal in the EU or the UK leaves! As one of the more successful economies, I think the EU needs us more than we need it! This is also why so many want to come here: we are a good meal ticket - good jobs, generous welfare etc..

Swifts - NOT amateur radio

This image is located on the RSPB site and NOT  on this blog. It will be removed if any issues are caused by its inclusion here.
One of the joys of an English summer is the sound of screaming swifts in the air. This is most common in May and June. The swifts are one of the first summer migrants to leave. It always seems a long time until they return again next spring. Usually the first ones arrive here by the end of April. Once, long ago, I found one on the ground. We kept it in a box overnight. The next morning it flew off as if nothing had happened. Swifts spend most of their time on the wing and if they do land on the ground it is not easy to take off again. I found this out much later. It was lovely to handle this scythe like bird.

See http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/discoverandlearn/birdguide/name/s/swift/ .

10m/6m update

Well, so far 6m WSPR here has just been G stations out to just over 100km.

On 10m there was some Es in the form of DJ0ABR (983km). EA8BVP (2986km) has also been spotting me yet again. I am not sure if this is Es or single hop F2 propagation.

UPDATE 1905z:  6m WSPR came to life around teatime with a couple of spots of me by Es (I presume).  Plenty of G spots all day too.

UPDATE 1912z: 10m WSPR is also lively with European stations via Es. EA8BVP has spotted my 10m WSPR beacon 37 times so far today. I think this is F2 propagation, but I am not sure.

Sunspots and 10m - June 25th 2015

Sunspot number has fallen again to just 39 (K=2) and 10m propagation is expected to be "poor" today, so decent long distance F2 propagation is very unlikely on 10m today.

24 Jun 2015

Greece:not off the hook yet? - NOT amateur radio

The last time I checked, the international creditors were still unhappy with the Greek proposals to overcome their debt problems. All sides are working to resolve these issues, but Greece could well have to leave the Euro. Things in Greece are bad now but without the ECB's support Greek banks will run out of money and the situation in Greece will be dire. This is not a good time to be Greek.

10m WSPR - EA8BVP (2986km) spots me yet again!

Over teatime EA8BVP (2986km) was spotting me yet again.  He spots my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon most days and has done so for months now. Since 1808z just been spotted by local G4IKZ (18km) again. I presume this path to the Canary Is is F2 although the time suggests Es. He has spotted me 19 times today. No further DX was copied all day. Although there was at least one S.American active on 10m WSPR, clearly the propagation was not there, at least with my low ERP. Others may have been more successful.

Gardening - NOT amateur radio

This afternoon was fine and dry, so it was a chance to do a bit more gardening.  Because of my 2013 brain bleed, I soon get very exhausted and this was the case today. I managed a couple of plants and dug in some flower bed edging, by which time I was so tired. What has changed is that I soon recover. In the past I would be totally exhausted for hours but within 15 minutes I was out with the hose.

This last few weeks I do seem a little bit better.  Although I still get tired I don't seem to be "done in" totally. Although I still have to take just sips, I do seem to be able to drink more thin liquids. Progress is slow, but I think I can still see progress.

Still life on MF and LF

It is some time since I was active on 137kHz and 472kHz WSPR, but there are still stations active I see. I shall return to 472kHz WSPR in the autumn and may even try some tests from this QTH on 137kHz. I do need a better antenna and earth system though. My earth-electrode "antenna" is remarkable, but I know I should be able to increase my ERP considerably with a loop or loaded long-wire. I managed 250km on WSPR with a loop at the old QTH on 137kHz and a vertical loop with similar loop area should be possible I think. I shall probably need help from locals with erection though in my present state. I might change to a 2m big-wheel stack at the same time?

Weeks since decent F2 spots on 10m here

Although EA8BVP (2986km) seems to spot my 500mW 10m WSPR signal on most days, it is some weeks now since I have been spotted on the band at greater distance. I know my antenna is not brilliant on 10m, but I was expecting more 10m spots from S.Africa and S.AmerĂ­ca. I fear many have migrated to lower frequency bands now, which is a pity, or possibly other modes. At the last time I looked there were only 32 active 10m WSPR stations worldwide. A few months ago this was over 100.

Sunspots and 10m - June 24th 2015

Sunspot number has fallen to 61 (K=3) and 10m propagation is expected to be "poor".

UPDATE 1100z:  K index has worsened a little to 4.

Nighttime DX on 6m

Although I was not spotted by any DX on 10m, I spotted on 6m WSPR, in the middle of the night at 2000km, a station in Finland (OH7AZL). Magic band! The "common wisdom" is this is Es although with these very northern openings especially at these odd times might be due to noctilucent cloud reflection? I wonder if any better equipped European stations were copied in Japan on 6m?

23 Jun 2015

6m Es I presume

It is getting quite late in the day now, but I am spotting 6m Europeans by Es I assume. LA3JJ (993km), SQ6IUS (1158km) near Warsaw. As yet, I have not been spotted by any Europeans on 6m WSPR, just Gs. I assume this is Es, but these are all northern Europeans, so I always wonder if noctilucent clouds are someway involved?  Probably not.

UPDATE 2214z:  Sadly no Es DX appeared on 6m here after the LA3 and SQ6.  I have checked all is well on 10m and 6m WSPR, so will run the station through the night, hoping to catch some DX by Es either overnight or first thing in the morning.

10m Es (no Es seen yet on 6m)

I4ZTO (1185km) was spotting me lunchtime on 10m WSPR by Es. On 6m, just locals and G stations by tropo/aircraft reflection.

UPDATE 1805z:   Es on 10m from across Europe , but nothing like yesterday. 6m has only been G stations here all day so far.

Tidied the shack

I tend to use WSPR a lot at present because my voice is poor with 100% TX  on 10m and 20% TX on 6m.  I can be on both bands at the same time. Usually I monitor on a different PC in the lounge. If there is any problem I go to the shack to check and reset.

Although I have managed a little building, my fine motor skills are still far from good.  The shack was becoming untidy. This morning I decided to give the shack a tidy! Although really superficial, it does look better. It is now XYL acceptable, I think.

UPDATE 1817z:   My fine motor skills were put to the test today: my son managed to cut through the power cable of the hedge trimmer, so I had to mend it. I managed it OK and all was fine after I tested it.

Sunspots and 10m - June 23rd 2015

Sunspot number today is 77 with very disturbed conditions (K=8) and 10m - in fact all HF bands - expected to be "poor". Do not expect much on HF today.  Es may give us some EU and possibly further DX on 10m and 6m.

Overnight and this morning I am just being spotted on 10m by local G4IKZ (18km). Although very early, no signs of Es here on 10m yet.

Best DX on 6m overnight was G0OQK (98km) - spots both given and received - and a single spot received from G8DOR (103km). A reminder that I use 1W ERP on 6m (V2000 vertical) and 500mW on 10m (Par 10/20/40m end fed low wire).

UPDATE 1026z:  Conditions have improved a little with K=6 now. Still disturbed though.

22 Jun 2015

New country (I think) on 6m WSPR

EA6GF (1428km) in JM19gm, has spotted me several times recently on 6m WSPR. This is the Balearic Is in the Med. Obviously Es.  I have worked this country on QRP SSB on 6m in previous summers.

UPDATE 1428z:  So far this summer, no sign of North African stations on 6m WSPR. In previous summer Es seasons CN8LI was a very regular reporter, but totally absent (for me) this summer.

UPDATE 1810z:  6m WSPR has been good all day with Es propagation. These are just the recent spots. As you can see, some of the signals are very strong.
Recent 6m WSPR spots
UPDATE 1855z:  Just exchanged  6m WSPR spots with CN8LI (2113km). Signals are strong too.  Funny!

Thunder?

So far the weather here in East Anglia has been good today.  I managed to cut both lawns this morning. It has just started to rain and there is a risk of thunder, although at the moment the storms are well east of this QTH. If the storm risk persists, I shall disconnect rigs and the PC.  The rain is, of course, Sod's Law as I just erected the hose to water the grass later!

See http://www.lightningmaps.org/realtime?lang=en .

UPDATE 1445z:  The sun is now shining again.

UPDATE 1706z:   Thunder and lightning appeared here at 1645z, so I have closed down on both 10m and 6m, disconnected the antennas and the PC. According to the thunder maps, the storm was about 2 miles or less to the west. I'll monitor the maps and return to 10m and 6m WSPR when the storm has passed.

UPDATE 1810z:  It looks like the storm has passed, so I have recommenced 10m and 6m WSPR.

EA8BVP - Es or F2 on 10m?

EA8BVP (2986km) is again spotting my 500mW WSPR on 10m.  He spotted me at 1228z and, so far by 1332z,  7 times already today.  This could be by F2 or Es as there is a lot of Es about on 10m today, including stations in northern Spain around the half way point.  Last week, when I was away from home on holiday, I missed this station: he has been a regular 10m WSPR spotter most days for months. It was good to see him in the logs today again. In the past, I am pretty sure he was copied by single-hop F2, but today may well have been Es.

I am still hopeful of far more distant 10m (and 6m) WSPR spots well outside Europe by Es. In past years North America has been reachable by Es as has the Caribbean or even South America. So far, at least on WSPR, it has been Europeans and Israel only for me, the latter on 6m!

When conditions are good, people tend to leave WSPR and go to 10m SSB or CW or even AM or FM. This is understandable, but a pity as WSPR is most useful "sniffing out"  fleeting openings. You are far more likely to see a short (2 mins or even less) opening with WSPR as signal levels needed are low and there are usually plenty of people monitoring via WSPRnet.

UPDATE 1310z:   Just got a 10m WSPR report from DK6UG of  +11dB S/N. This is classic Es with enormous signals, much stronger than reports from locals. Es can be like this some days: just hugely strong signals. The implication is he would still have copied me even if I was using much less than 1mW.

UPDATE 1340z:  Not seen any sign of 6m stations from Japan. Don't know if this path has been open for the better equipped stations, but this very long path seems to open nearly every year in early June, possibly as a result of reflections off noctilucent clouds in the mesosphere?

UPDATE 1434z: EA8BVP (2986km) has spotted me 23 times today so far.

UPDATE 2010z:    EA8BVP has spotted me 63 times so far today.  Could the recent spots be F2?

Greece and Europe - NOT amateur radio

Greece seems to be in a serious mess financially, although the EU seems desperate for the Euro to survive the current crisis. It would appear Greece became a member of the Euro club based on rather dubious figures. Tax avoidance and early retirement ages appear to be a way of life in Greece and this is anathema to countries like Germany.

If Greece doesn't get kicked out of the Euro, they certainly need to change. We will see what happens. I expect we'll see yet another EU fudge and somehow Greece will survive, although it is not clear for how long. I'm very glad not to be Greek right now. Life there must be very hard, especially if you have no work.

With the EU ministers minds very much fixed on Greece and the very survival of the Euro, I cannot see David Cameron's mission to forge a new deal with Europe getting a very serious or good audience.

Each nation should ultimately have the last word on those who live and work in their particular country and on it laws, unless they sign up for a United States of Europe. The UK will not want this for the UK.  We have always, I think been in favour of free trade, but not the USE. If others wish this then that is their choice.

Personally, I hope we remain a part of the EU, but it does need to change.

Castle trust bonds: avoid? - NOT amateur radio

The top of my Gmail seems to have regular ads for Castle Trust offering bonds with very good interest rates.

I read somewhere that these funds are "dodgy" and you could end up losing capital. I have no idea whether true or not, but personally I shall be avoiding them. I once read that if something appears to be too good to be true then it is and is best avoided.

Generally, interest rates are poor.

Sunspots and 10m - June 22nd 2015

Sunspot number is 79 today (K=4, quite disturbed) and 10m propagation is "fair" again.  I'll be lucky to catch any F2 spots on 10m today, although Es looks promising on both 10m and 6m WSPR with plentiful EU Es DX on both bands. Yet again, the greater distances are on 6m. I assume the optimum Es skip must be greater on 6m than 10m?

UPDATE 1054z:  All the 10m activity seems to be Es currently apart from the locals.  I have received no "outside Europe" spots on 10m since before my holiday last week.

Early start on 6m Es

Not long after 0400z I was spotted by OH1KK (1848km) on 6m WSPR. Yesterday my 6m best DX was nearly twice as far as the best DX on 10m, which was via Es.

UPDATE 1035z:  Lots of 6m (and 10m) Es around with spots from right across Europe. The Es season was late starting here with me, but certainly across Europe is now in full swing.

21 Jun 2015

4X1RF (3519km) spotting me yet again on 6m WSPR

I truly believe this is too regular and too far for multi-hop Es.  I remain to be convinced. Yet again 4X1RF (3519km) has spotted my 1W ERP signal on 50MHz. So far, he has spotted me 4 times today on 6m WSPR. Amazing. Signal at the moment seem to be getting stronger.

UPDATE 1726z: 4X1RF (3519km) has now spotted me 9 times on 6m WSPR so far today and the signal is getting stronger. The last report was -15dB S/N.
 
UPDATE 1821z: 4X1RF has now spotted my 6m WSPR signal 13 times today so far. There is other Es about too at much shorter range.

UPDATE 2005z: 4X1RF has now spotted my 1W ERP on 6m 22 times today.  Incredible almost.

UPDATE 2018z:   Plenty of 6m Es about with spots from HB9 and EA1. Spots from 4X1RF seem to have stopped now.

UKAC 70cm results so far this year

At the moment I am in 97th position out of 141 entries in the AL section of this, once a month, RSGB activity contest on 70cms. It takes place on a Tuesday evening between 8.00pm and 10.30pm UK clock time.

With a small 5 element hand-rotated beam and 5W and having missed one session in May, I don't consider this too bad. I usually am only able to operate for about 40% of the contest time because of my poor (stroke affected) voice.

The next 70cm session of the UKAC is on Tuesday, July 14th. All being well, I shall be active for this session, probably for an hour or thereabouts.

Using the RTL-SDR as a transmitter

OK, this is very low power but it shows you what can be done. A QRPP transmitter or signal generator anywhere between 500MHz and 1.5GHz.

Please note the image below is not on my blog (it is linked as shown) and will be immediately removed if this is a problem.
http://rtlsdrblog.rtlsdrblog.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/transmit_hack_rtlsdr-500x375.jpg

See http://www.rtl-sdr.com/using-the-rtl-sdr-as-a-transmitter/

See also http://www.steila.com/SDR/RFgenmod/index.html .

Good EU Es on 6m and 10m WSPR

Throughout the day, there was good Es on both 6m and 10m WSPR with plentiful EU exchanges of spots on both bands. So far, I have seen no evidence on WSPR of real Es DX outside Europe apart from spots by 4X1RF, although not today. See later post about 4X1RF spots.

Of course, I was not on last week.

Sunspots and 10m - June 21st 2015

Sunspot number is 84 today (K=1) and 10m is expected to remain "fair". Not that much F2 propagation, but with the prospect of Es to liven up both 10m and 6m.

Japanese goods should be cheaper!

The exchange rate (Sterling to Yen) has improved enormously in the last few years and was around 195 Yen to the UK Pound in recent days. Not long ago (2 years ago?) it was less than 130 Yen to the Pound. In real terms Japanese radios should be hugely less expensive based on the exchange rate alone becoming so much more favorable. These are not marginal changes they are huge.

Don't feel too sorry for the dealers. After all, they have to put fuel in their cars. If they struggled a few years ago they are not struggling any more! No, we the consumers are seen as easy fodder, to be milked. The dealers make big profits from early adopters who must have that shiny new radio whatever the cost. Once their greed has been satisfied, the price will drop to attract the rest of us.  I predict the Yaesu FT991 will soon drop in price. Just how much will depend on how much of the exchange rate change the dealers are prepared to pass on to us. One thing is certain, the UK dealers are doing well at the moment.

The FT817 is another story. All development costs were recovered in the first few years. As for LCD and other "supply issues" I just do not believe it. These radios have sold well worldwide for about 15 years and Yaesu has the buying power on anything. No, the true story is someone is making huge profits on this radio, and we the buying public are being taken for a ride.

When the Chinese take the amateur market seriously the Japanese suppliers and their dealers will have a rude awakening.

Jersey - NOT amateur radio

The plane we flew home in.
Well, I can recommend Jersey as a holiday destination. We had very good weather and a good hotel and room which helped. Staying in St Helier helped as the outstanding bus service was right on the doorstep. There was no need to hire a car as everywhere was accessible by the very regular bus service.

The island has small roads in the main, lovely villages, good beaches and a rugged coastline. The people were all kind and helpful. Currency is Sterling and English spoken. Most street names are French even though British since Norman times.

Overnight 6m and 10m WSPRing

Now back home again, I left my WSPR running on 6m and 10m. There was Es on both bands yesterday evening but overnight spots on 10m by local G4IKZ(18km) and on 6m spots exchanged with G0OQK (98km). No overnight Es seen here on either band.

20 Jun 2015

Es on 10m and 6m WSPR

Since arriving home again after our week on Jersey I have been active on 10m and 6m WSPR. There is European Es on both bands. Now home again I shall return to normal WSPR patterns again.

19 Jun 2015

Sunspots and 10m - June 19th 2015

Sunspot number has dropped to 82 (K=1) and 10m is expected to remain "fair".

18 Jun 2015

GJ3XBM/P?

Maybe I should have packed my VX2 dual bander and been GJ3XBM/P? The view from the hotel bedroom is splendid and any local repeaters probably workable.

The tragedy of war - NOT amateur radio

This morning we are visiting the war tunnels made with slave labour when the Channel Is were occupied by the Germans in WW2. I am sure many Germans were pleased to be here rather than on the Eastern Front. Some were evil. The tragedy of war is that normal people are forced to do evil things. Most would rather just be normal civilians doing ordinary things. These days (different times) I am sure any visiting German people are made as welcome as we have been made by these kind people. UPDATE 1510z: Just been to see the tapestries to commemorate the years of occupation and pleased that reconciliation with the German people is high on the agenda. We live in peace.

Sunspots and 10m - June 18th 2015

Sunspot number is little changed at 94 (K=2) and 10m propagation is expected to remain "fair". Conditions look similar to yesterday.

17 Jun 2015

SAQ VLF reminder

A chance to test your VLF system and get a very interesting QSL card.
REMINDER! 
We will remind you of the Grimeton Radio/SAQ transmission on VLF frequency 17.2 kHz, CW, with the Alexanderson 200 kW alternator on “ALEXANDERSON DAY”, Sunday, June 28th, at 09:00 UTC and 12:00 UTC (11:00 and 14:00 SVT). We will start tuning up some 30 minutes before the message. There. will be activity on amateur radio frequencies during the day with the call SK6SAQ. Frequencies: - 7,035 CW or 14,035 CW - 3,755 SSB - 145,700/145,100 VHF FM repeater (R-4/RV-56) QSL to SK6SAQ via SM bureau. QSL-reports on SAQ transmissions are kindly received: - E-mail to: info@alexander.n.se - or via: SM bureau - or direct by mail to: Alexander - Grimeton Veteranradios Vaenner, Radiostationen Grimeton 72 SE-432 98 GRIMETON Sweden The radio station will be open to visitors from 08:00 to 14:00 UTC (10:00 to 16:00 SVT). Welcome! 

Also read our web site: www.alexander.n.se

Sunspots and 10m - June 17th 2015

Sunspot number has fallen back to 87 (K=3) and 10m propagation is expected to remain "fair".

6m Es - VK style

Interesting that it is now wintertime in Australia yet the only recent DX in the WSPRnet database are VKs reporting Es spots out to around 1600km. Nothing from Europe.

16 Jun 2015

4X1RF DX yet again

At teatime tonight G0OQK was copied on 6m WSPR by 4X1RF (3555km). Amazing distances again. If this is multi-hop Es then I am amazed.

Antenna spotting

When away from home for a few days it is fun to spot signs of amateur activity. On Sunday I noticed an HF beam in the west of the island and today an HF beam and 6m beam on one mast and VHF/UHF antennas on a separate mast. The latter was in St Helier on Jersey.

6m Es - longest single hop?

As I have mentioned before I am extremely puzzled why 4X1RF manages to hear way over 3500km on 6m regularly yet there is no sign of stations at intermediate hops . I wonder what blog readers think is a typical distance for single hop Es at 6m?

Sunspots and 10m - June 16th 2015

Sunspot number has fallen back to 107 with more disturbed conditions (K=3) and 10m propagation is expected to remain "fair".

15 Jun 2015

4X1RF spotting Germans on 6m WSPR

Yet again  4X1RF is spotting VERY long distances on 6m WSPR - this time over 2700km. It may be Es but I have real doubts this is multi-hop.

Who do you believe? - NOT amateur radio

With all wars it is hard to get real facts not propaganda. I am unsure what I believe. The BBC reported that a senior IS leader had been killed. Is this fact or are we being fed propaganda?

Sunspots and 10m - June 15th 2015

Sunspot number remains pretty good at 117 (K=2) and 10m is again expected to remain "fair".

14 Jun 2015

Sunspots and 10m - Sun June 14th 2015

Sunspot number is 129 today (K=1) and 10m is "fair" again.

13 Jun 2015

10m - my best band of all

10m has always been my best band. I have lost count of the DXCC totals with QRP SSB. Chasing countries has never been a real activity of mine, although I still get a "kick" from working a new country.

At sunspot peaks it supports world-wide DX with QRP and simple wire antennas. Even in the quiet solar years there is often some DX to be found and usually late April to September there is sporadic-E (Es) to be found with good signals over ranges up to around 1500km and sometimes further. These are for the northern hemisphere.  There tends to be a smaller Es peak around December/January.  It is the reverse in the southern hemisphere. It is quite normal to hear USA stations by Es in the summertime, but usually openings are not for long.

If 10m is quiet it is worth checking CB frequencies (11m) as a "band open" sign. Often CB can be busy when 10m is quiet due to lack of activity.  Thanks to Steve VE7SL for this good advice.

At night and in the quiet years it is an ideal band for local nets on FM or AM. At 1.7MHz wide it is big band so all modes can be supported.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/10m_op .


Sunspots and 10m - June 13th 2015

Sunspot number has dipped below 100 and currently stands at 96 (K=2). 10m propagation is expected to be "fair". I have disconnected the antennas and PC (6m and 10m) as there is a risk of storms. Pretty sure  I can hear distant thunder. Currently it is drizzling outside.  Es may liven things up on both 10m and 6m.

At the moment, this peak is slow to go and I am pretty sure conditions on the higher HF bands will still be pretty good this autumn and winter. Numbers have dropped a bit on average, but not too far yet.

See http://www.solen.info/solar/ .

12 Jun 2015

Missing the bad storms tonight?

According to the latest BBC weather for our region, we should again miss the thunder and lightning here overnight with the storms tracking east of us and on into the North Sea. I will leave my 10m and 6m beacons running overnight but will probably go QRT at breakfast time.

See http://www.blitzortung.org/Webpages/index.php?lang=en&page_0=12 .

10m and 6m Es and F2

EA8BVP (2986km) was spotting me a few times (presumably single hop F2) and there was also some Es around mid afternoon, on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 1656z:  I see that DL1KAI (645km) was spotted on 6m WSPR about 30 minutes ago via Es. Otherwise just Gs on 6m WSPR.

UPDATE 1935z:  WSPR spots exchanged with OH7AZL (2000km) on 6m about a hour ago.

UPDATE 2000z:  Spotted by OH3LMN (1747km) a few minutes ago on 6m WSPR at a decent -17dB S/N.  Sadly no activity from Japan.

UPDATE 2140z:  EA8BVP (2986km) has spotted my 500mW 64 times already today on 10m WSPR.

DXing with crystal sets

Yes, it is possible to hear a long way on a crystal set. The equipment needed can be extremely simple too.  What is needed are a good pair of ears and sensitive headphones.   My ears are getting old and if I can hear this DX then younger ears certainly can. I have found a low cost very high impedance crystal earpiece worked well. You may have better headphones?

Copying amateurs, most of whom use SSB, is more difficult. Remember, a simple crystal set is only able to envelope detect, although in the USA 75m AM signals are regularly copied at great range. Some SSB signals on 10m Es should be strong enough to envelope detect. Based on my tests, if stronger than 500uV to 1mV the signals should be copyable. Quite a few signals can be this strong.

See  https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/crystalset .

Sunspots and 10m - June 12th 2015

Sunspot number has dropped marginally to 101 (K=1) and 10m propagation is again expected to be "fair". The main hope on 10m is some Es to liven things up a bit.

UPDATE 1007z:  So far just G spots on 10m WSPR.

6m magic

Until I went QRT last evening (thunderstorm risk) most spots were G stations.

Then, out of the blue, at 2120z last night a spot from 4X1RF (3519km) in Israel of my 1W ERP 6m WSPR signal. No Es around indicating multi-hop Es. In fact I am convinced this is not multi-hop Es. He has now spotted me on 3 different days this summer and many times last summer on 6m WSPR. No, if this is Es then it is some other mechanism. These spots occur often and there is no evidence of Es at closer (intermediate) range.


11 Jun 2015

Lightning?

The weather forecast is for thunder and lightning moving up from France during tomorrow. This will mean disconnecting the 10m and 6m rigs. I'll do that in a minute.

G&S - NOT amateur radio

Nearly every year we go to a summer theatre held in a barn in a nearby village. They always do a Gilbert and Sullivan production. This year it was "The Gondoliers". As usual, for a totally amateur group, it was excellent. This has become part of our June landscape now. The Gondoliers was first produced in 1889.

Cranial osteopathy - stroke update

In Cambridge I had my second session today and almost fell asleep!
 
The osteopath is convinced that many of my issues are due to stress (my body has taken quite a beating these last 2 years) and she is teaching my body to relax. I have 3 more sessions booked, maybe more later. The next one is in 2 weeks time.  The session today was all massage and very relaxing. She massaged my head and body.  
 
Some would call cranial osteopathy a "snake oil" treatment. I remain open minded but I shall definitely continue as long as I think it is helping me.

Mizuho QRP SSB rigs

I don't think this company still exists.

At one time you could buy Mizuho single band SSB handhelds for many bands up to 2m including many HF bands.  I owned the 2m 200mW pep version (MX2) and managed to work some decent SSB DX with mine mostly with a 1/2wave whip on the rig. The main issue was the poor battery life, so I tended to use an external 9.6V battery.

My rig was used in the main with a homebrew 2m-10m transverter and I worked all over the world on 10m with just the tiny Mizuho rig on the desk.

If I remember right I covered the CW and main SSB parts of 10m by having a couple of crystals in the transverter. Somewhere I still have the transverter, although it has not been used for years.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/mx2 .

Good deal on 10m multi-mode rig

From Steve G1KQH (font or fount of all knowledge) comes news of a very good deal from Nevada:
 
73 Steve
http://www.g1kqh.talktalk.net/

Sunspots and 10m - Thurs June 11th 2015

Sunspot number is virtually unchanged at 105 today (K=3). 10m is expected to be "fair" again, so with just Es to liven up 10m it is likely to be an uneventful day. Likewise, Es could add some interest on 6m as well.

So far no Es spotted here on either band on WSPR.

10 Jun 2015

6m Es this teatime

I see that my 1W ERP 6m WSPR was spotted by DL5AP (709km) at 1708z this evening.  Other than this single spot, it has been G spots given and received with the best DX being G4BRK (134km). No real DX spots given or received on 6m and pretty quiet on 10m too here.

Quiet on 10m WSPR today

Apart from a spot by CT1JTQ (1843km) at 0850z and HA9AL (1455km) at 1208z it has been very quiet on 10m WSPR today.

Pye Telecom PF8 - NOT amateur radio

Some years ago I was professionally involved in the design of this innovative transceiver. I am sure I mentioned this on the blog not too long ago.

Some people managed to find rare examples on the secondhand market and converted them to 70cms use. They are hard to find as not that many were made.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/pf8 .

CCS - NOT amateur radio

One of my activities is running the website for the choir my wife sings in. They perform a major choral work with professional soloists and a professional orchestra usually in the spring in the Cambridge area. Sometimes it is in Kings College Chapel, sometimes elsewhere.

See https://sites.google.com/site/cambschoral/ .

Sunspots and 10m - Wed June 10th 2015

Sunspot number is 110 today (K=3) and 10m propagation is expected to be "fair" again. Spotted by 10m Es in Portugal early this morning, but otherwise no-one else spotting the 500mW 10m WSPR beacon.

On 6m, again lots of GDX, but no Es as yet seen.

9 Jun 2015

Found it! Ferrite Rod

For the first time in nearly two years (because of my brain bleed) I managed to get into our loft space today. Quite by chance I came across the small ferrite rod that I used for my MF ATU/loading coil and ferrite TX antenna experiments. It means next autumn I can use a far smaller loading coil on 472kHz. I'd looked everywhere for this without success. Clearly I did not find it in my shack as my XYL had put it in the loft whilst I was in hospital for so long!

Lundy - NOT amateur radio

http://www.holidayhomehunter.co.uk/jpg/lundy_island.jpg
Maybe we all have a "special" island that we identify with. There is something about islands that make them special. Lundy is special to me, although I only visited once in 1961.  It is off the north coast of Devon, but it has been fiercely independent in the past. These days it is owned by the Landmark Trust and managed by the National Trust. There are a number of homes for hire for a few days or a week.  Demand is high. You may also camp on Lundy.

Occasionally radio amateurs mount IOTA activations from the island, but most visit it for a few hours on a day trip or for a few days to enjoy the peace, quiet and birds. There are no cars on Lundy.  There is a wintertime helicopter service from near Hartland Point in North Devon.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lundy .

VK3YE homebrew 7MHz SSB transceiver

Steve G1KQH (font, or is it fount (?) of all knowledge) sent me this link of the homebrew 7MHz SSB transceiver by VK3YE:
New Homebrew 7MHz QRP rig from VK3YE

6m Es - report from Sweden

6m WSPR came to life at 0940z with a spot of my 1W ERP signal by SM67464 (999km). I am hopeful of more 6m Es spots later.
UPDATE 1110z:  I see I spotted  DK1KW (914km) on 6m WSPR at 1054z. Things seem to be livening up on 6m Es at last. Not before time too.

UPDATE 1230z:  Good to spot an old work colleague on 6m WSPR - G3WKW (134km) at 1152z. We have exchanged spots before on WSPR, even on 2m, usually with the help of aircraft.

UPDATE 1314z:  Yet again 4X1RF (3519km) has spotted my 6m 1W ERP WSPR at a decent -17dB S/N.  This is a LONG way for Es. This is far from unique on 6m as he spotted me a few weeks ago and he spotted me last summer too. Is this really multi-hop Es?

UPDATE 1840z:  Just the single "real DX" 6m WSPR spot today at 1308z by 4X1RF (3519km). I know he has spotted others too, probably with more ERP in his direction than me! Since then, and all day in fact, plenty of GDX spots of others and of me, in my case, out to 103km. Es was there on the band, but it was not plentiful.

UPDATE 2144z:  I have now gone QRT on 6m and 10m WSPR, but will be on again at breakfast time on both bands. I am convinced that the 6m spots by 4X1RF are not multi-hop Es. Looking at his logs, there are no spots of stations at intermediate"hops" at the right times. This may be Es, but I do not agree with the multi-hop hypothesis. Maybe there is some kind of chordal hop Es?

Sunspots and 10m - Tuesday June 9th 2015

Sunspot count is 122 (K=3) and 10m propagation is expected to be "fair" again.  I have no idea what this will mean. So far this morning, apart from spots by local G4IKZ (18km) there have been spots from Italy and Germany by Es.  No F2 DX seen here on 10m yet.

UPDATE 1255z:  Lots of Es on 10m WSPR today, with my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon spotted all across Europe from Norway to Italy.

70cm UKAC is today, not yesterday!

Confession time.

Last night I checked my 5el 70cm beam would turn OK and I plugged in the antenna to the rig and tuned around the SSB part of 70cm. NOTHING heard at all. Very odd, as I was at least expecting to hear some of the locals. Then the penny dropped. It was a Monday evening and the UKAC sessions are on Tuesdays! For some reason I had it in my head that yesterday was Tuesday. Nor only that, but I was 35 minutes late for our regular Monday evening net on 144.575MHz. By the time I appeared all had gone.

All being well I shall be on the 70cm UKAC session tonight, Tuesday. Yes, double check, today is Tuesday, June 9th 2015.

Some times I feel such a fool.....

UPDATE 2200z:  In the end on the right night, I entered the 70cm June leg of the RSGB UKAC contest. In all 5 stations (only) worked.  Although I heard GW, I was unable to raise him.
70cm UKAC June 9th - stations worked tonight with 5W/5el

8 Jun 2015

Ebola - NOT amateur radio

Certainly here in the UK, and I suspect the USA, Ebola went out of the news late last year.  Although the West African outbreak was the worst on record, it is sad that it soon became not newsworthy. It looks like the outbreak is now under control but it is a sad indictment of our society that when things go "off the radar" we hear little about them. It is a warning that what is considered "news" is filtered.

As Steve G1KQH mentions in the comments there are always new deadly viruses to be worried about. Back in the 1950s it was polio, although thankfully that was largely beaten in the 1950s. Sadly it is still endemic in a few nations because of ignorance and politics.

10m Es this morning

There were both German and Italian spots of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon mid-morning. As yet, no 10m Es seen here this lunchtime.

UPDATE 1552z:  No further Es (or F2) seen on 10m (or 6m) WSPR since the spots this morning. All very quiet.

UPDATE 1638z:  I see there is teatime Es on 10m WSPR (I have been spotted in Germany and Holland) but no signs as yet of any Es on 6m WSPR since the OK spotted this morning.

6m Es this morning

OK1DX  (994km) was spotted at 1024z this morning on 6m WSPR very strongly at -2dB S/N.   Hopefully there will be others soon on 6m.  Still waiting "for the big one" on 6m.

JAs on 6m?

It is the time of year when we tend to see the better equipped Western European 6m stations working Japan. This is a long way. The popular theory is this is multi-hop Es. Sorry, I just don't believe this.

Far more likely is reflections off noctilucent clouds that return strong VHF radar echoes. Noctilucent clouds are most common in high latitudes at this time of year and are 50-80km up.  The coincidence is just too great.

Sadly, there were no JAs active on 6m WSPR, so this weak signal mode is not going to help. Not sure if the Doppler on these weak signals would be too great anyway. It is a pity stations are not trying higher (even microwave) frequencies on this path. Fascinating. We still have a great deal to learn, but this is one mode that I am sure is under-used.

I know I mentioned this recently (blog entry June 3rd 2015), but when possibly new propagation modes are seen it is very important they are properly explored.  I have the feeling this is very important stuff. Imagine working Japan from Western Europe on 23cms or even 3cms. Wow!  Of course the same sort of path lengths would be possible in Canada and the USA. Get out there and explore!

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/noctilucent .

Sunspots and 10m - June 8th 2015

Sunspot number is 136 today (K=4) and 10m is expected to be "fair".

Already there have been 10 spots on 10m of me by EA8BVP (2986km) before breakfast. This is early and F2 propagation I think.

All quiet here on 6m so far. This is the time of year for 6m JA openings (noctilucent clouds?) but there are no JAs active on 6m WSPR. This is disappointing (see next blog entry).

UPDATE 0935z:  All quiet on 10m.  No further spots from EA8BVP since before breakfast (gone to the beach?) and no early 10m Es.  6m quiet too with just G spots.

7 Jun 2015

So far at least, disappointment on 10m and 6m WSPR

There is still time for both 10m and 6m WSPR to spring into life, but so far today both bands have, again, been disappointing with no Es on 6m and very little on 10m. So far, no evidence at all of F2 propagation here on 10m WSPR. I know my 10m antenna could be better, but Es conditions seem to have been poor this season on both 10m and 6m. Things could yet change, so I remain ever hopeful.

UPDATE 1848z:  DK0SC (827km) spotting me on 10m WSPR by Es. 6m still quiet - no Es seen here.

UPDATE 1915z:    EA8BVP (2986km) yet again has spotted me! This is (I think) F2 at 1912z.

UPDATE 2200z:  EA8BVP has spotted me 41 times this evening.

WISPY 10m WSPR rig

Some years ago (in my fit days) I build a simple DSB WSPR rig for 10m based around a low cost 14.060MHz crystal bought from the GQRP club.  The idea was to pull and double this crystal and use it in a simple DSB TX and direct conversion RX.  Both TX and RX have been built separately, but I was ill before I got around to combining the 2 into a 10m WSPR transceiver. Both parts worked well.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/wispytx .

Bells - NOT amateur radio

Our "London" grandchildren just love Burwell church and bells, even though they do not attend church in London. Their parents have Buddhist tendencies. I put the video on YouTube as it is too large to send to them by email. I know others may be interested too. There are quite a few bell videos on my G3XBM channel as well as lots on my amateur radio projects (from the days when I was fit). This video was taken in our back garden. We are about 350m from the church.

Autumn projects

OK, it is only just summer according to the Met Office and already I am thinking about autumn projects. A lot depends on my health - particularly my stamina and giddiness. Some antenna work will need help from local friends unless I make some dramatic improvements. Things on the list include:
  • A stacked big wheel antenna for 2m SSB/CW/WSPR, This would be instead of the hand-rotated 3 el yagi. About the same horizontal gain but omni, so better for beacons and contests?
  • A decent antenna and ground for LF/MF.
  • Some field tests on VLF/136kHz/optical (currently unlikely because of health).
  • A better dedicated antenna for 10m WSPR (possibly a magnetic loop).
Overall, I want to make my home set-up as effective as I can before the winter. My health is still my biggest drawback, preventing much practical constructional work.

Sunspots and 10m - Sunday June 7th 2015

With the sunspot number now back at 129 (K=2) and 10m propagation expected to be "fair" we are in a battle between summertime 10m conditions (some Es and some N-S F2) and rising sunspots. Even though conditions are notionally somewhat better it would be naive to expect decent 10m propagation to suddenly return. I suspect we will have one more decent autumn and winter on 10m before we start to head firmly downwards in the solar cycle. Conditions have been pretty good on 10m overall. All I urge is for people to stick with 10m WSPR as conditions dive downwards as this will be when WSPR will prove so valuable.

UPDATE 1322z:  Some European Es on 10m but no evidence here of F2 as yet.]

UPDATE 1334z:  Just the usual suspects exchanging 6m WSPR spots inter-G. No sign, here at least, of any 6m Es or F2. So far this season, 6m has been disappointing regarding WSPR Es.

UPDATE 1618z:  10m Es at lunchtime but only G4IKZ (18km) since then and only GDX on 6m WSPR all day.  No Es on 6m so far today.

6 Jun 2015

Icom IC703

One of the best rigs I once owned was the 10W Icom IC703. This was a well equipped QRP radio with a decent receiver, DSP and auto ATU. I sold it to a local amateur who was a poor pensioner but I regret selling it now! No fan needed at 10W.  Just a first class rig.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/ic703 .

10m and 6m disappointment

Recent 6m WSPR spots today
Having posted this I suspect 10m and 6m will now burst into life!

So far today, both bands have been disappointing with only a little Es on 10m (just EA8BVP by F2) and none seen here on 6m. Sunspot count and K index suggested we might have expected some decent DX, but I missed it here!

UPDATE 1748z:   Still pretty quiet on both bands.  Even did a full reset of the 10m beacon to make sure things were working.

UPDATE 1846z:  There was nobody spotting me on 10m WSPR between 1234z and 1820z. Either my beacon was not sending WSPR and not frequency hopping (this has happened before) or G4IKZ (18km) was not on or beaming elsewhere. Having done a hard reset on the beacon (power off totally for over a minute) I suspect my beacon was at fault. Anyway it is on now and being spotted again by G4IKZ.  No great DX sadly.

UPDATE 1916z:  Sadly no DX stations spotting me on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 2012z:  I see that EA8BVP (2986km) has spotted me several times this evening.

UPDATE 2112z:   EA8BVP has spotted me 28 times so far tonight on 10m WSPR since 1940z.

British Gas - NOT amateur radio

A few weeks ago we were due to get a free Smart Meter upgrade and we waited in all morning for the appointment that never happened. Subsequent emails, despite a request that they ring me, resulted in them (or their not joined up computers) arranging 3 inconvenient new appointments by email.  Really they are an utter basket case! Trouble is I suspect the alternatives would be as bad.

Nearly a month later and I have still not been told why the first appointment did not happen. Hopeless.

Yaesu FT991

FT991 at www.hamradio.co.uk
There is only one commercial rig that I fancy and that is the FT991 from Yaesu.  This covers all HF including 50MHz as well as 144 and 432MHz. It does NOT cover 70MHz.  It also supports C4FM, not that this bothers me. For a 100W radio (it would get used at much lower powers) it is quite small. It is rated as a 50W radio on 144 and 432MHz.

Price in the UK is still too high at £1279.95. I am quite prepared to wait until the price reaches £999 or less. A price war will erupt soon between the main suppliers forcing prices downwards. Certainly by Christmas I expect it to be £999 with VAT. I can wait and wait. Of course, I suspect a cash price is already well below £1279, but I have not asked.

Of course, I'd prefer a 5W rig and if an FT817 replacement appears in the meantime that might well be considered at the right price. It is a pity they don't sell the 30W version which I suspect is available in Japan. Usual these are the S versions so keep an eye out for the FT991S. A true QRP version would be even better.

It appears there may have been some teething issues with the very first radios, but  these appear to have been resolved now. Most recent reviews on eHam have been very good.

See MLS at 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.

For eHam reviews see http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/12025 .

Sunspots and 10m: a better day ahead? - Sat June 6th 2015

Sunspot number has climbed back above 100 to 105 (K=1) and for the first time in a long while 10m propagation is expected to be "fair" rather than "poor". So there is a chance of some F2 DX on 10m today as well as Es propagation.

UPDATE 0955z:  Already I have been spotted by EA8BVP (2986km) by F2 and in Germany by Es on 10m WSPR. Yes, we are in for a better day on 10m!

UPDATE 1837z:  Well, so far at least,  10m has been disappointing with little to get excited about.

5 Jun 2015

Stroke update - a disappointing day

Today I found a recording of my voice dated last August. My XYL heard it and thought it was a recent recording.  So, it really means my poor voice has not really improved since last summer. I was gutted. I still feel very giddy, am breathless whenever I try to speak, have poor thin liquid drinking,  although I think I am less tired than I was. I will never give up, but this is a real setback.  Am I really getting better or are my disabilities that remain with me for ever now? I certainly want to get better as I feel so unwell still.

6m - no Es here so far today

6m has remained quiet here, so far, apart from the usual G stations by tropo and aircraft reflections. No Es seen here on the band, yet at least. Their is a lot of time left today though, so things might change.

On 10m there has been some Es to Scandinavia, but Es even on 10m is below usual levels so far this season.

Thunderstorms - missing us?

At the moment, it looks like the worst of the thunder and lightning is missing us and passing up through the east of East Anglia, UK.
Add caption
See http://www.blitzortung.org/Webpages/index.php?lang=en&page_0=12 .

Sunspots and 10m - Friday June 5th 2015

Sunspot number has climbed to 80 (K=1) but 10m forecasts are still "poor". With thunder and lightning forecast for this part of the UK today it is likely I'll have to switch off equipment during the day. The best we can hope for on 10m and 6m WSPR is some short skip by Es.

UPDATE 2005z:   Very few 10m Es spots of me today.  Just Scandinavians earlier and G4IKZ (18km) since then.  In all, a very disappointing day on 10m and 6m.  No sign of any DX from outside Europe, not even spots from EA8BVP who has spotted me for months.

Early Es on 10m WSPR - June 5th

LB9YE (1533km) was spotting my 500mW WSPR beacon on 10m at 0834z.

4 Jun 2015

10m/6m F2 and Es today

EA8BVP (2986km) has yet again been spotting me on 10m by F2 propagation. I see some very recent evidence of Es with OE6PWD (1232km) spotting me a little while ago.

UPDATE 2146z: EA8BVP has spotted me 36 times today so far.

UPDATE 2148z:  Again, no evidence of 6m Es here today.

London's West End Theatres - NOT amateur radio

Waiting for the coach outside the Aldwych Theatre
London has some excellent theatres, but they are expensive. Our village (60 miles from London) arranges theatre coach trips which are excellent value as they take you door-to-theatre door (just about) with plenty of time for a meal before the show and the price includes the coach and the theatre ticket (good seats too).

472kHz (630m)

This is a fascinating MF band. I am truly amazed how slow the FCC has been releasing this band and the 136kHz band in the USA. Do they sleep all day?
Simple, small, 472kHz transverter
Even with just 5mW ERP from a just a short baseline earth electrode antenna (earths 12m apart) I have been copied on WSPR more than 1000km away. Copy at shorter range is very easy. I use my transverter with the FT817. The ARRL was due to publish the circuit over 2 years ago, but are still waiting for the FCC release. For goodness sake wake up FCC! You look total fools to the rest of the world!

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/mflf/472khz_tvtr .

Sunspots (creeping up) and 10m - June 4th 2015

Sunspot number is creeping up again and stands at 55 (K=1) today. 10m propagation is expected to remain "poor" so we depend on Es to liven up 10m and possibly 6m. So far, Es is quiet with no evidence here of the overnight Es we had a day earlier.

3 Jun 2015

6m Es - yes! 6m super DX?

6m WSPR has come to life with spots exchanged several times this afternoon with EA1KV (1304km).  DL4MFC (916km) spotted me on 6m WSPR at 1356z. Perhaps the 6m Es season is taking off at last? I notice there is thunder over central Europe. I wonder if this is helping? Sprites? I know one of the theories for Es involves thunder activity and upward movement into the E layer. Es is pretty complex.

No idea if the better equipped stations are working from Western Europe to Japan on 6m. This path seems to open every year around now, and some theories suggest reflections from mesospheric noctilucent clouds which are more common around this time of year. I suspect reflections would be possible right up to microwaves, but I doubt anyone is trying. See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/noctilucent .

I am very suspicious of some of the multi-hop explanations for very long path Es. To me, there has to be a better explanation. Es yes. Multi-hop? Really? I have my doubts.  Some Europeans may indeed be multi-hop but some of the openings to South East Asia, Africa and South America?  I really doubt that many of these are multi-hop Es in the way most understand this. Some sort of chordal hops perhaps?

Optical mirages - NOT amateur radio

These have fascinated me for years. When I first created this page many years ago there was very little on optical mirages on the internet, but now there are lots of resources.

There are some indications that some extreme amateur optical DX may be influenced by optical refraction. The most extreme "over the horizon" (NLOS) amateur optical DX is by cloud bounce when signals are reflected off the base of clouds.

Under very favourable conditions places way beyond the normal horizon become visible. This is most common in conditions when warm(er) air passes over very cold water. The common mirages seen over roads, that look like puddles are just the opposite (hot roads and cooler air above).

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/optical/mirages .

10m - LOTS of Es early today

Today looks very promising on 10m WSPR with lots of Es propagation very early.

So far, 6m has been just GDX but I am hopeful that with 10m WSPR being so lively 6m will come to life with some Es later. We will see!

PY2OHH pages

One of the best web resources is on the pages of PY2OHH.  Many pages are now in English and the site is filled with good ideas for simple circuits. If you are a home brewer then please do check this out. You will not be disappointed.

See http://py2ohh.w2c.com.br/ and look for the English translations.

Sunspots and 10m - June 3rd 2015

Sunspot number is 39 today (K=1). 10m propagation is expected to be "poor" again. Several 10m Es spots overnight from Italy and Germany.

2 Jun 2015

Thunderstorms

According to the Met Office (by the way, time you bought new seaweed as a piece of wet seaweed would be nearly as good as your super-computers I think) we are due to get thunderstorms in south east England on Friday.  Very useful maps for tracking thunderstorms are available at http://www.blitzortung.org/Webpages/index.php?lang=en&page=1 . Last year, I used these maps to help me with early warnings of thunderstorms in the UK that required me to safeguard rigs.

Poor Es season so far?

Maybe it is just a lack of activity on WSPR on 10m and 6m but so far this Es season has been poor. I am sure things were better last year. Up to now there has been very little Es activity on either band. So far, hardly anything outside Europe. I certainly hope things improve on both bands.

Field tests?

Although I still have several of my stroke-related symptoms, I do, on the whole, feel less tired than I did. I still get tired but seem to recover more quickly than I once did. I still feel very wobbly when doing anything on my feet (although I do not fall) and my thin liquid swallow and voice are still poor.

I am hopeful that field experiments can resume soon. My only field test was a VLF test a few months ago and that was a total failure in that what was a good location before was a "non-event" from the new QTH. I did do a quick at-home optical test bouncing a signal off our windmill, but that hardly counts. The signal was very strong and easy to find.

6m WSPR - only GDX so far today

Although I am spotting, and being spotted, by lots of G stations, I have seen no signs, yet anyway, of any Es on 6m WSPR today. Things could well change later, especially around teatime when Es often peaks.

UPDATE 1305z:  I see that I am now being spotted in Sweden on 10m WSPR.  Alas, only Gs still on 6m.

Eddystone EC10 receiver

When I was young (that is now a very long time ago!) I coveted the Eddystone EC10 all transistor receiver. When I first had my call I had one on loan from a local SWL. I used it on 160m AM and CW.  A few years later a friend at work managed to get me one from his dad who worked for Eddystone. This was a pre-production unit. I used it as a tunable IF for several years.

Looking back it was rubbish!  On 10m the whole band was about 0.5 inches on the dial. On MW and bands up to about 6MHz it was OK. It had a low IF and germanium transistors (OC171s). It was mechanically a nice radio, but almost all modern receivers are a lot better.

Prices on the second hand market for EC10s are very high. Even though a far from great radio they are still sought after receivers.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/ec10 .

Sunspots and 10m - June 2nd 2015

Sunspot number today is 38 (K=1) and 10m is again expected to be "poor". Breakfast time Es livened up 10m WSPR with spots from Germany and Italy, but otherwise very quiet on the band.

UPDATE 1600z:  SA0CAM (1352km) in Sweden has been spotting me lots of times this afternoon via Es. Still no F2 DX on the band. I guess we are now in summertime conditions although I was hoping for more N-S F2 DX on WSPR. Still not spotted, or being spotted, outside Europe via Es, on 10m or 6m, this summer. 4X1RF (3519km) spotted me on 6m a few weeks ago. This was probably Es although it was a long way, so just could have been F2.

UPDATE 1618z:  I see that DK6UG (633km) is now spotting me on 10m WSPR by Es.

UPDATE 2050z:   At 1938z and 1950z EA8BVP (2986km)  was yet again spotting me on 10m WSPR. As far as I can see this was just a short opening (just 2 spots) but yet again he has spotted me. Pretty sure this is single-hop F2 and not Es.

1 Jun 2015

Coat hanger 70cm beam

Some years ago, I was in need of a 70cms antenna for portable use and had to improvise by raiding my XYL's wardrobe!  The result was a 2 el Moxon antenna made in about 30 minutes which worked some impressive QRP (2.5W) DX into France on 70cms. Gain is quite low but all you need is a wire coat hanger and a few bits for insulation and to attach the coax feed. Simplicity! It does not look pretty, but it works. The mast was made from a short length of PVC pipe.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/70cm_moxon .

Lawns - NOT amateur radio

Usually our lawns look pretty good and weed free. They ought to as we pay Green Thumb a decent amount each month to treat, scarify and tine.  The last time they treated the lawn they scarified and removed a fair bit of moss. I have removed the dead moss and reseeded in places, but there is a lot of course grass and there are brownish patches.

Reseeded patches
My wife is very cross and wants them back to fix the lawn, which looked far better last year. They are coming again on Friday and have promised to put things right. We shall see. If not, they will lose our business and I am pretty sure my XYL will "go viral" with her displeasure. They ought to have done a better job as lots of people have looked over the wall and asked, "what happened to your lovely lawn?". The front lawn is right next to the local windmill and should be a showcase for Green Thumb.

6m/10m Es

There was some 6m Es earlier on 6m WSPR.  At 1344z IV3APH (1162km) was spotting me on 6m.

On 10m WSPR, over lunchtime, I see my 500mW beacon was copied  in Spain and Germany. No great DX as yet on either 10m or 6m.

UPDATE 1800z:  CT1JTQ (1843km) was spotting me on 10m a few minutes ago by Es.

Sunspots and 10m - June 1st 2015

Sunspot number has climbed to 47 (K=1) and 10m propagation is expected to be "poor" again.