24 May 2017

Nestbox robins - NOT amateur radio

I checked the nestbox in our garden in which a pair of robins were nesting. They were very busy before we went on holiday, but all is now quiet.

In the nestbox was a well made nest with no dead young and no eggs. I assume they all made it and flew.

Robins can live to 11 years but most die by their second year, killed by predators or the cold. I hope these little ones manage a few years. It would be good to see a second brood.

Milking it - NOT amateur radio

We had a tragic terrorist incident a few days ago in Manchester. Sadly, the dead and injured included children and other young people. It was horrific and pure evil.

What I do not like is how the BBC milk such tragedies for days and days. Surely this is just what the terrorist want. In my view, report the facts but do not milk the incident to death.

Antenna replacement?

I'm considering replacements for a couple of my antennas.

For years, I have used a Par EF10/20/40 end fed wire on these 3 bands. It works even though very low, but I am sure I could get out better.

Also, my big-wheel on 2m has done me well for a couple of years.

In the garage I have a little used SRC X80 vertical. This is essentially a Rybakov vertical fed via a UNUN so it can be matched on most HF bands with an auto ATU. I have heard mixed results with this antenna. As a vertical it is likely to be noisy on HF and it could be worse than my horizontal Par. It is also in need of grounding as lightning protection, mainly from static. It flexes quite a bit, so might be damaged by high winds.

I could replace my big-wheel with a Homebase-10 10m halo. As an omni antenna it would give me all round coverage and I know this works. With strapped feeders, I might be able to use the coax as an antenna on other HF  bands too.

It would also be good to get a better 630m antenna up.

Sadly, I probably need help these days as I get wobbly on ladders.

Sunspots and 10m - Wednesday May 24th 2017

Solar flux is 75 today and the sunspot number 47. A=8 and K=2. As for 10m, there is already some Es and better equipped stations may see some N-S F layer DX.

10m JT65 today

For a change, I am in beacon mode on 10m JT65. Best DX so far is a spot by ES1JA (1701km) - early Es, I think, although this could be F2.

UPDATE 0820z: Best DX spot of me is now EW2ABC (1811km) in Belarus.

UPDATE 1146z: Lots of Es spots today on 10m JT65. Lost count of the countries in which my 500mW WSPR beacon has been copied. Certainly being copied throughout Scandinavia and down to the Adriatic. Also spotted in Portugal.

UPDATE 1840z:  Real DX!! 8 stations in 4 countries in South America spotted on 10m JT65 plus Madagascar, which counts as Africa. Best DX was spotting LU8XAF (13413km). Sadly no-one spotted me outside of Europe. I'll leave things running.

23 May 2017

UK terror threat level raised to "critical" - NOT amateur radio

This evening, the UK terror threat level has been raised to "critical" meaning an attack is highly likely. I guess the UK government has got some new intelligence.

In the end, there are far more good people than evil ones. It is sad that a few people with evil intent can cause such widespread fear. In the end we must not be intimidated.

Back Garden - NOT amateur radio

This afternoon, we planted a few more bedding plants, cut the grass and enjoyed a cup of tea in the garden in the warm sunshine. At this time of the year, lots of birds are singing and, it seems, everything in the garden is coming out and looks fresh.

ICOM's new R8600 RX

Reading the latest RadCom I was amazed to read that the likely selling price of the new ICOM R8600 receiver based on the IC7300 is £2500!!!

Is this a joke? I was expecting the price to be below £1000.

I don't doubt this is a nice radio, but the price is stupid. At this price I hope no-one buys it and the dealers learn a lesson - don't take us for a ride to make inflated profits. By all means make a profit, but I smell the nasty side of capitalism.

See http://www.icomamerica.com/en/products/amateur/receivers/r8600/default.aspx

New antennas for 6m/4m from Hy-Gain

Southgate News has reported that Hy-Gain is producing a new dual-band antenna for 4m/6m designed by G0KSC.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2017/may/new-hy-gain-antennas.htm#.WSP_9bpFyP8

The person who usually creates the Southgate News postings is away, so someone else must be doing these.

New Yaesu and ICOM products

As yet, I have not heard about any new product announcements by the big players coming out of Dayton. I was expecting to hear news by now. I shall have to do another trawl for news.

Mars - NOT amateur radio

I think a manned expedition to Mars is unlikely in my lifetime. It still seems amazing that the first Moon landing was 1969, before I had started work! That is a long time ago.

For news of Mars, try http://marsnews.com/ .

Mars has fascinated us for a long time. There is little doubt it is a hostile place, but mankind will go there some day. I suspect this will be in the lifetime of my children.

The bigger question is, "is there other intelligent life in the universe?".  CETI has been looking now for over 50 years without success. When (if?) we do detect other life out there, it will be a profound moment. If we are truly alone, we have to ask, "why?".

Sunspots and 10m - Tuesday May 23rd 2017

My friend G4NUA in Cambridge was copying PY on 10m JT65 last night. He re-erected his half sized G5RV higher and it now seems to work well. I think my 10m antenna is several dB down on an optimised 10m antenna.

Solar flux is 74 today and the sunspot number a respectable 55. A=10 and K=3.

6m JT65 transceive and 10m WSPR TX

This morning I am on 10m WSPR (500mW 100% TX and 6m JT65 (1W ERP beacon mode, as well as RX). On 6m I have been spotted by 3 stations (all G) and received stations including GW3TKH (252km). On 10m WSPR nothing yet. So far, no signs of Es on either band.

UPDATE 0900z: HA4ULB (1456km) has spotted my 10m WSPR and 4 G stations have spotted my 6m JT65. Still no Es on 6m JT65 here.

UPDATE 1045z: Now being spotted widely in Europe on 10m WSPR, even with my poor 10m antenna. What has amazed me is the number of 6m G and GW JT65 spots. These are either tropo or aircraft reflections which would be possible at any time, irrespective of conditions.

UPDATE 1300z:  Plenty of 6m Es now with several stations in the eastern Baltic area spotted or spotting me on 6m JT65. Widespread Es spots on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 1317z: Widespread 10m spots mainly from Denmark and Germany. Decent Es on 6m JT65 too with best report from ES4NY (1806km) in Estonia.

22 May 2017

Stroke update - NOT amateur radio

One of the side effects of my stroke in 2013 is that I get totally exhausted doing anything physical or mental for about 15-20 minutes.

My worst time, normally, is just after breakfast when I am "done in" and have to rest. After a short rest I am OK. I much regret being as I am, but it has left me with a great deal of sympathy for those with conditions like ME and MS. Before, I had no idea what total exhaustion meant.

Today, I put some plants in the garden. In the past this would have been trivial, but I was totally exhausted and had to rest to recover. It is very hard for others to understand.

60m (5MHz) band

More and more countries are being allocated the narrow WRC15 60m allocation. Many suffer from man-made interference on the lower bands from SMPSUs and similar. Nonetheless, this is an important new band that will be increasingly important as the sun gets quieter.

I have tried WSPR on this band in the past and must try again soon, although I have no suitable antennas, so use a random wire and my ATU.

In the UK we have not been granted access to the WRC15 allocation yet, so it important to stick to the bits we do have access to.

6m and 10m WSPR

Already this morning I have spotted an Italian on 6m WSPR, but nothing yet on 10m WSPR where I am again running 500mW 100% TX. On 6m WSPR I am 80% RX and 20% (1W ERP).

UPDATE 1625z:  2E0VDS (29km) has exchanged 6m WSPR spots with me. My 500mW WSPR beacon has been reported by several stations by Es. On 10m WSPR, most spots were from Denmark and Germany.

UPDATE 1800z: OH3LMN (1747km) is the best DX on 6m WSPR RX today. I may try JT65 tomorrow. This will probably be 6m JT65 so I can still use my WSPR beacon on 10m at the same time.

Sunspots and 10m - Monday May 22nd 2017

Solar flux is 73 today and the sunspot number has risen to 35. A=9 and K=2. There has already been some Es on 6m, but nothing yet on 10m WSPR.

QRP and QRP Club

As usual, an update from Oleg:

Dear Club 72 members and friends,

Weekly QRP Rendez-Vous Report (May, 21, 2017)
Visitors  of  the week: DK1HW, US5ERQ, HB9DAX, RV3GM, PA0WDW, OH6NPV,
US3EN,  UR3VZ,  ON6WJ,  OM6TC, UA0SBQ, RU3NJC, UR0ET, UR5EFD, UW5EKR,
OK1KW,  IK5SRD, I0KWY, SP3JFK, F6ABG, G3XJS, UA1CEG/p, DF2IC, UA1CEX,
R1CAN, ON6KZ, IT9IFI, R2FAE, R1CAF, F4HLY
Congrats new Frequenters - PA0WDW, IK5SRD, DF2IC, R1CAN
Welcome new Visitors - I0KWY, SP3JFK, F4HLY
See full Visitors and Frequenters lists on the Club 72 page
Comments.....
see full WQR Report with comments and pictures on the blog -
http://qrp-club72.blogspot.ru/

Warning!  Since  no activity in the evening 40 m Rendez-Vous over two
months,  this  event  deleted  from  QRP  Rendez-Vous  schedule. Keep
activity  in  the 9.00 UTC on 14060 kHz +/- (alternative 10116 kHz if
contests QRM) weekly on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays.

Thanks all for activity and comments, see you on next Rendez-Vous!

72! Oleg RV3GM / KH6OB "Mr. 72"


This is a periodic Newsletter of the Club 72. Don't reply to Newsletter address! Send any requests or news to mr72@club72.su please.

21 May 2017

Classic Car Day - NOT amateur radio

Our local museum staged a Classic Car Day today. Here is a short video of it.

Sunspots and 10m - Sunday ay 21st 2017

Solar flux is 72 today and the sunspot number 22. A=24 and K=3. 10m? Who knows. There was some early 10m Es.

Back on 10m and 6m WSPR

Today I am again on 10m WSPR (500mW,100% TX) and 6m WSPR (20% TX 1W ERP, 80% RX). There was early Es to Poland on 10m but nothing yet seen on 6m WSPR.

UPDATE 0804z: Now my QRP WSPR on 10m is being spotted in Austria and Germany.

UPDATE 1152z: Now my QRP 10m WSPR is being spotted in Italy. Nothing, as yet, on 6m WSPR.

UPDATE 1734z: Now being copied in Germany again on QRP WSPR, but nothing as yet still on 6m WSPR.

UPDATE 1945z: Best 10m WSPR DX was OE3BUB (1229km), but nothing at all on 6m WSPR.

20 May 2017

Another UK Rally

MAY 21st 2017 : 34TH DUNSTABLE DOWNS RC ANNUAL NATIONAL AMATEUR RADIO CAR BOOT SALE

Stockwood Park, London Road, Luton, Bedfordshire LU1 4LX in Luton on Sunday 21st May 2017. Entry/car park fee is £3. All the usual facilities will be there. www.ddrcbootsale.org
A list of rallies can be found at http://rsgb.org/main/news/rallies/

10m and 6m WSPR

Being back from holiday, I am active on 10m and 6m WSPR. On 10m I am using my stand-alone beacon (500mW, 100% TX). On 6m I am using the FT817 and PC (1W ERP TX 20%, 80% RX). Plenty of 10m Es spots, but nothing yet on 6m.

UPDATE 1915z: Plenty of 10m WSPR spots, but just one on 6m OZ7IT (853km) at 1206z.

Sunspots and 10m - Saturday May 20th 2017

Solar flux is 72 today and sunspot number 24. A=11 and K=4.

Back from holiday - NOT amateur radio

We are back from our week in Corfu. I did a blog to help us remember things in years to come. It is surprising what you forget.

See http://corfu17.blogspot.co.uk/

19 May 2017

Sunspots and 10m - Friday May 19th 2017

Solar flux is 72 today. Sunspot number is 24.  A=11 and K=2.

Swifts nest - NOT amateur radio

There is a swift's nest on the adjoining hotel balcony in Corfu. Despite waiting over 15 minutes I was not able to take a photo of the bird which I saw return once.

Rallies

MAY 20th 2017 : RADARS FLEA MARKET INDOOR SALE

St Vincent de Paul's, Caldershaw Rd., off Edenfield Rd (A680), Norden, Rochdale OL12 7QR Doors open at 10.30am with disabled visitors gaining access 15 minutes earlier. Admission is £2.50 with those under 12 years free. There will be a Bring & Buy as well as commercial traders, a junk stall and amateur radio sellers. Traders can set up from 8am. Pitches must be booked at least 2 weeks beforehand with prices starting at £5. There will be refreshments available including bacon and sausage butties. Dave, G3RIK by email to rally@radars.me.uk www.radars.me.uk

MAY 20th 2017 : MORAY FIRTH ARS SURPLUS EQUIPMENT SALE


Forces Reserve Centre, Edgar Road, Elgin IV30 6YQ Doors open 12 noon and entry is £2 for buyers. Tables cost £3 and access is available at 10am for set up. Refreshments are available on site. A raffle will be held. Details from Victor, 2M0JVR on 01343 820 489 or by email to jvr911@yahoo.co.uk A list of rallies can be found at http://rsgb.org/main/news/rallies/

18 May 2017

Pedestrian HF Portable

We are in a period of good Es conditions on 10m and 6m. This usually lasts through May, June, July and August. It happens at other times too, but less often. Under such conditions just a few watts SSB can work DX even with a whip antenna. When F2 is good, DX to very far away is possible with QRP SSB.

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

New ICOM and Yaesu products at Dayton?

Dayton is often the place where ICOM and Yaesu announce new products. I'd like to see a replacement to the FT817 from Yaesu, but have all but given up hope. Certainly a few years ago they would have released at a time of sunspot peak. As it is, we have years of falling conditions, so not the best "window of opportunity".

Lizards - NOT amateur radio

There were two large lizards watching us have lunch in the hotel garden earlier as the photo shows. We have seen quite a few smaller ones this week.

Sunspots and 10m - Thursday May 18th 2017

Solar flux is 71 today and the sunspot number 13. A=8 and K=4.

17 May 2017

Northern Corfu - NOT amateur radio

Thunderstorms later today in Corfu, but some great skies as in this view at Kassiopi in north east Corfu. Albania is in the background.

Dayton (USA)

MAY 19-21st 2017 : DAYTON HAMVENTION® (new venue)

Greene County Fair & Exposition Center, Xenia, Dayton, Ohio, USA. Doors open at 8am. There will be trade stands and a huge flea market as well as special interest groups and an RSGB bookstall. A lecture programme will take place each day. There are multiple catering outlets and family attractions on site. US exams are available and there is a raffle. Details by email to international@hamvention.org. www.hamvention.org.

A list of rallies can be found at http://rsgb.org/main/news/rallies/


This is "the big one" in the USA and is often used by big companies to launch new products, often way ahead of them being on sale. I suspect rivals also see what their competition is up to. Maybe Yaesu created the FT991A after seeing the ICOM IC7300 at Dayton?

Sunspots and 10m - Wednesday May 17th 2017

Solar flux is 70 today. Sunspot number is 23.  A=8 and K=2.

16 May 2017

Dragonfly - NOT amateur radio

A few days ago we visited the Blue Eye spring in southern Albania. I have never seen such clear water anywhere. These small blue dragonflies were everywhere.

Realtime HF Band Conditions

Southgate News reports on a real-time HF band conditions website. When I looked 10m was not even shown, encouraging the (often false) assumption that this band is a total waste of time for DX. OK, 10m is harder work now, but if no-one is there it will appear dead when in fact DX contacts can be made!

See http: //www.bandconditions.com/ .

Hacking attempts again? - NOT amateur radio

Even though I have posted little today so far, the blog visits are high again, with lots of "interest" from a certain nation in eastern Europe. Genuine visits are welcome, whereas "probes" are not.

Sunspots and 10m - Tuesday May 16th 2017

Solar flux is 70 today. Sunspot number remains zero. A=14 and K=2.

15 May 2017

Albania: a surprise - NOT amateur radio

In my mind Albania was a scruffy, post-communist place. Remember Radio Tirana in the communist days? I was expecting a polluted dump. How wrong can you be!
Sarande, on the coast, is a vibrant town with lots of building work.  The waters near the Blue Eye spring were crystal clear and clean. In fact cleaner than most rivers.

The remains at Butrint date back to the early Greeks and were remarkable.

There are beautiful mountains, lakes and forests. Everyone we met was kind and helpful.  Prices were reasonable and far less than in Corfu.

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

Sunspots and 10m - Monday May 15th 2017

Solar flux is 70 and sunspot number zero again. A=10 and K=2.

QRP and QRP Club

From Oleg:

Dear Club 72 members and friends,

Weekly QRP Rendez-Vous Report (May, 14, 2017)
Visitors  of  the  week:  DK1HW,  G3XJS, UR7VT, RV3GM, I1DBD, IK2RMZ,
DK2SC,  R2FAE,  R1CAN, UR5EFD, PA5XM, HA7NE, IZ0RQF, US5ERQ, EW7BW/1,
R1CAF,  UA1CEG,  ON6WJ,  HB9DAX, UA1CEX, UR0ET, US3EN, DL1HSI, OM6TC,
IK3GHZ, LZ1AQ, RU3NJC
Congrats!
PA5XM, DL1HSI entered in the Honor Frequenters list (regular visitors)
Welcome new Visitors - I3DBD, IK3GHZ, LZ1AQ
See full Frequenters and Visitors lists on the Club 72 web page
Some comments...
See full version of the WQR Report on the blog page -
http://qrp-club72.blogspot.ru/
Special thanks Peter G3XJS for regular comments!
See all QRP operators on the next 'rendezvous" round tables

72! Oleg RV3GM / KH6OB "Mr. 72"

This is a periodic Newsletter of the Club 72. Don't reply to Newsletter address! Send any requests or news to
mr72@club72.su please.

14 May 2017

Sunspots and 10m - Sunday May 14th 2017

Solar flux is 70 today and the sunspot number remains zero. A=4 and K=3.

13 May 2017

Sunspots and 10m - Saturday May 13th 2017

Solar flux is 69 today and the sunspot number is again zero. A=7 and K=1.

Rally

MAY14th  2017 : 36th LOUGH ERNE ARC ANNUAL RALLY

Share Centre, Smiths Strand, Lisnaskea, Co. Fermanagh BT92 0JZ Doors open at 11.30am. There will be trade stands, a Bring & Buy and an RSGB bookstand, Catering is available on site. Mark Mullaney, EI4HDB by email to ei4hdb@gmail.com.

A list of rallies can be found at http://rsgb.org/main/news/rallies/

12 May 2017

Sunspots and 10m - Friday May 12th 2017

Solar flux is 69 and the sunspot number is again zero.  A=6 and K=1.

More OFCOM consultation

OFCOM are consulting on 4G and hearing aids at 2.3GHz.

See http://ofcom.createsend1.com/t/ViewEmail/i/A85E9C86813AF526/59D1BD3EA2F08127C67FD2F38AC4859C

11 May 2017

Bee - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday, for a change in East Anglia, we had sunshine most of the day. Since the start of May it has been cloudy although a lot of the UK has been bathed in sunshine. Anyway, we decided to eat outside. A bee decided to take a fancy to my blue shirt. It was there for about 10 minutes.

Sunspots and 10m - Thursday May 11th 2017

Solar flux is 69 and the sunspot number is again zero.  A=6 and K=3.

6m MSK144 RX and 10 WSPR TX again

Currently, I am on 6m MSK144 RX (14 stations in 8 countries in last 12 hours) and 10m WSPR TX (500mW) but nothing yet on 10m.

UPDATE 1053z: On 6m MSK144 RX the score is currently 18 stations in 9 countries. Best DX on 6m MSK144 RX is SP3OCC (1222km). GS3PYE has again been spotted on 6m sending IO76VL which is near Loch Tay. I assume this correct as they were /P on Islay. On 10m WSPR EA1FAQ (1249km) has again spotted my 500mW a couple of times.

UPDATE 1436z: The 6m MSK144 RX score is 26 stations in 13 countries. Meanwhile, 6 unique stations have spotted my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon.

10 May 2017

10m WSPR TX

My 500mW 10m WSPR beacon is on and has been since breakfast. EA1FAQ (1249km) has spotted me twice, suggesting Es already.

Birds: a better day - NOT amateur radio

Well, today was more promising. A bunch of swifts eating insects high in the sky, a sparrowhawk and a buzzard nearby. All spotted from the breakfast table at around 0730z.

UPDATE 1220z:  For the first time this season there were about 10 swifts overhead screaming on the wing. Oh joy, really.

Sunspots and 10m - Wednesday May 10th 2017

Solar flux is 68 today and the sunspot number is zero. A=6 and K=1. On the face of it, not too promising on the higher HF bands.

OFCOM technical consultation on 700MHz co-existence

OFCOM is carrying out a technical consultation on co-existence at 700MHz.

See http://ofcom.createsend1.com/t/ViewEmail/i/08E5DB7A9F4EFBD3/59D1BD3EA2F08127C67FD2F38AC4859COFCOM

6m MSK144 RX so far today

6m MSK144 RX has been my choice so far since breakfast. 12 stations in 9 countries spotted already and it is only 0908z.

9 May 2017

70cm UKAC activity contest

Well, although I received a reminder, I almost forgot this! I remembered about 50 minutes after the contest started. Best DX was again G4CLA (105km) who must have very good ears hearing my 5W fed with lossy coax to my 2m halo. Because of my poor voice I didn't stop on long.

Probing still? - NOT amateur radio

Yet again blog visits are exceptionally high this morning and the number of visits coincides with a peak in visits from one Eastern European country.

I am sure most of these visits have little to do with amateur radio. If you are genuinely interested, then welcome. If your intentions are malicious, look elsewhere please.

Yesterday, this blog received four times the average number of visits. I smell a rat.

Sunspots and 10m - Tuesday May 9th 2017

What a difference a year makes on 10m! On this day last year I was exchanging WSPR spots with FR1GZ deep in the Indian Ocean and spotting Brazil on 10m WSPR.

Solar flux is 70 today and the sunspot number 11. A=6 and K=1. So far, the only spot on 10m WSPR was probably by tropo.

6m MSK144 RX

Yet again, I am on 6m MSK144 RX. So far 12 stations in 6 countries spotted with the best DX EA1SI (1069km) in Spain.

UPDATE 1124z:  Now 21 stations in 11 countries spotted on 6m MSK144 RX in the last 12 hours. Best DX is SM5KWU (1304km) in Sweden.

UPDATE 1325z:   27 stations in 12 countries so far in last 12 hours on 6m MSK144 RX.

UPDATE 2205z: Although I have now gone QRT on all bands, the total on 6m MSK144 RX was 30 stations in 12 countries in the last 12 hours.

10m WSPR

I have been on 10m WSPR TX overnight (500mW). Only one spot from PG0DX/1 (411km) during the overnight period. This was possibly tropo? I am still on 10m WSPR, ever hopeful.

8 May 2017

Probing? - NOT amateur radio

Funny how one of my blogs had exceptional numbers yesterday and this blog exceptional numbers today. The fact these coincide with great interest from a certain Eastern European nation is purely coincidence?

Somehow I think someone is doing a regular probe to see if they are suitable sites to hack. Should my blogs suddenly disappear or behave oddly, you will know why. I try to avoid this, but some very famous sites have been affected in the past.

No internet - NOT amateur radio

Our broadband stopped working last night. I called the helpline and after an hour on the phone to India (where the call centre was located) it still refused to work. I was exhausted. After lunch my wife tried the call centre. A different person this time. Within 5 minutes everything was working. I don't know what she did but it worked.

Fewer swallows (birds)? - NOT amateur radio

It is the second week in May and I have seen no house martins, just one swift and very few swallows. I may be wrong, but there seem fewer around here this year.

Yesterday we went for a walk, taking about an hour, around part of the village and the skies were empty of these. In years past, the skies would have been filled with these migrants.

Each year that passes, there appear to be fewer and fewer. Just a few years ago (even last year) swifts were the most common bird in the summer sky. I have been looking and there are very few around, so far at least. Maybe they are late arriving, although I fear there are genuinely fewer about.

From the  RSPB website:

"Swallow numbers in the UK have fluctuated over the last 30 years with pronounced regional variation in trends."

PSK31 versus JT65

I was going to try PSK31 on 10m today, then I read this and decided against it! I shall try 10m JT65 (2W) again.

http://forums.qrz.com/index.php?threads/what-can-jt65-do-that-psk31-cant-do-what-can-jt9-do-that-jt65-cant-do.540841/page-2

UPDATE 1648z: No JT65 spots on 10m here today, at least not yet.

Wideband verticals

There are several examples of wideband verticals. These are often designed to work without an ATU but performance is compromised. Martin, G8JNJ, has done some analysis of these. In some applications, these antennas serve a purpose, although the commercial versions are not low cost. If you can accept the compromises then take a look.

See http://www.g8jnj.net/cometcha250b.htm

Sunspots and 10m - Monday May 8th 2017

Solar flux is 70 today and sunspot number 23. A=8 and K=2. There seems to be more Es on 10m now although little real DX outside of Europe with my antenna. Others with better antennas and more power may be fairing better on 10m.

7 May 2017

Muntjac Deer - NOT amateur radio

This small deer was introduced in the UK, but is now common. Last year we had some in our garden, and they nibbled our sweet peas! We saw one today in a nearby meadow. They are like a large dog in size.

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

VLF tests continue

Experiments at VLF by amateurs continue with DK7FC leading those TXing on bands from 970Hz to 8270Hz. People as far away as Italy and the UK have been trying to receive these transmissions, some successfully.

Unlike commercial stations, these are amateurs using modest powers and "back yard" antennas. At one time people said, "we'll never get over the garden wall at VLF". Instead, signals are being received over hundreds and sometimes thousands of kilometres. I think in the past I have copied 5 different amateur VLF signals from as far away as Germany and the Czech Republic.

The secret is long integration periods, very narrow bandwidths and great stability. Casual listening will not work. Amateur VLF work requires care and dedication, quite different from reception of commercial VLF stations with huge powers and antennas.

MS on 2m

Martin G8OFA has been using 2m MS (meteor scatter) this year and has worked some impressive DX as the photo shows. The MS QSOs are shown as squares with bold outlines. As you can see, these are far into continental Europe. Such contacts would be rare on 2m by tropo and QTH, power and antennas would be important.

MS is available at any time (random MS) but is best in showers. It works at any time in the solar cycle. QTH is less important. On 6m, pings tend to be longer, although antenna elements are bigger.

Sunspots and 10m - Sunday May 7th 2017

Solar flux is 72 today. The sunspot number is 26. A=4 and K=3.

QRP and QRP Club

Each week Oleg reports:

Dear Club 72 members and friends,

Weekly QRP Rendez-Vous Report (May, 7, 2017)
Visitors  of  the week: R1CAF, UY1IF, UW5EKR, US5ERQ, TF/RA1M, UR0ET,
OH6NPV,  DK2QX,  F3MB,  OK1KW,  DL8NAV,  RU3NJC, G3XJS, RV3GM, ON6WJ,
UA1ADF,  UA0SBQ,  US5ERQ, OM6TC, ON6KZ, RA4ABI, UR5EFD, DG2VM, R2FAE,
LA8BCA
Congrats!
DK2QX entered in the Honor Frequenters list
Personally! Dear Red, members of the Club 72 invite you to the Club, please
Welcome new Visitors:
F3MB, DL8NAV, RA4ABI, DG2VM
See full Frequenters and Visitors lists on the Club 72 web page
Comments...
See full WQR Report including comments and pictures on the blog page -
http://qrp-club72.blogspot.ru/

72! Oleg RV3GM / KH6OB "Mr. 72"


This is a periodic Newsletter of the Club 72. Don't reply to Newsletter address! Send any requests or news to
mr72@club72.su please.

6m MSK144 RX

So far, 17 stations in 10 countries spotted this morning on 6m MSK144 RX. This is a very good start. Just before breakfast I was briefly on TX in this mode on 6m and was spotted locally by M1BXF/SDR and G4KPX. Most of the time I have been RX only.

UPDATE 1112z:  29 stations in 11 countries so far today on 6m MSK144 RX. This mode is getting popular!

UPDATE 1706z: Lots and lots spotted today on 6m MSK144 RX.

Early Es on 10m

I turned on the 10m WSPR beacon (500mW) before breakfast and was spotted by LA9NKA (930km) at 0740z. For Es, this is early.

6 May 2017

Compact 10m beam

If you are after a small beam for 10m you might try this Moxon 2el.

Moxons have useful forward gain, decent F/B ratio, a fairly broad forward pattern and are easy to make. When up in the air, a 2el Moxon on 10m won't look too big.

See http://www.dxzone.com/cgi-bin/dir/jump2.cgi?ID=9325 .

Some years ago I tried a Moxon on 70cms where it worked well.

6m MSK144 TX (1W ERP)

Just for a short while, I am transmitting (30 second periods) on 50.280MHz MSK144 in beacon mode sending, "B G3XBM JO02" (1W ERP) to see where in Europe I am being spotted.

At the same time, I am still on 10m WSPR TX running 500mW.

New ICOM D-Star dual-band handheld

ICOM has announced a new digital dual-band 5W handheld that as well as conventional FM supports D-Star both over the air and via a PC, tablet or similar. It has built-in GPS as well as a slot for a micro-SD card. To me, it seems expensive but it is a "state of the art" dual-band handheld with GPS.

See http://www.icomuk.co.uk/ID-51E-Plus2/Handheld_Amateur_Radio_Ham

137 and 472kHz bands in the USA

My conclusion is the FCC is a bunch of morons and pen pushers. I may be wrong and this is my personal view. To others, they may be wonderful.

According to Southgate News, these bands are still not available in the USA years and years after these bands were released in the rest of the world. As my own experiments on both bands with very low ERPs show, great ranges can still be achieved. I just don't understand their reasons for delays. OK, I know some utilities pump RF over cables in this frequency range in the USA, but if there is any harmful interference just instruct the station to go QRT or reduce power. With a low ERP limit initially I very much doubt there would be any problems.

FCC - get your fingers out and release these bands! To the rest of the world you appear a bunch of idiots incapable of making any decisions. Does anyone there understand RF? Wake up!

First swift seen - NOT amateur radio

There are some about according to the reports, but yesterday I saw my first swift this year. This is one day later than last year. I have still to see any house martins and I have not heard a cuckoo.

The impression I'm getting is there are fewer swallows, swifts and house martins this year. I maybe wrong and I hope I am. These returning migrant birds mean a lot to me.

6m MSK144 and 10m WSPR

After a brief transceive period in beacon mode, I have now returned to RX only on 6m MSK144. At the same time I have my 10m WSPR TX beacon running (500mW) and was copied several times by local G4KPX (14km).

It is getting hard now to separate MS and Es. This is the Es season in Europe and sometimes Es can give very strong signals both on 6m and 10m.

Up to now 16 stations in 9 countries spotted on 6m MSK144 this morning.

UPDATE 1038z: Just lots of 10m WSPR spots from G4KPX, but no evidence here of 10m Es, as yet.

UPDATE 1208z: 22 stations in 11 countries so far on 6m MSK144 RX today.

UPDATE 1304z: I think my countries spotted so far on 6m MSK144 has now reached 26. Not bad considering quite a few within range are missing and MSK144 does not depend on conditions. My set-up is simple too.

UPDATE 1720z: No evidence of 10m Es here today. It looks like the 6m MSK144 spots were largely MS.

UK rallies this weekend

MAY 7th 2017 : DAMBUSTERS HAMFEST

Thorpe Camp Visitor Centre, Tattershall, Thorpe, near Coningsby, Lincolnshire LN4 4PL This is an outside event with limited room inside. Entry is £3 per person and under 12s, if accompanied, free and this charge will allow you to enter the museum as well. The venue is all on one level with access to all buildings for wheel chairs etc. Full catering on site with hot food van and the NAFFI. There will be an RSGB bookstall. Please contact either Tony G3ZPU for information on 01507 527 835 or by email to tony.nightingale@yahoo.co.uk or Ant, M0HAZ on 0795 665 4481.


MAY 7th 2017 : THE SCOTTISH AMATEUR RADIO AND ELECTRONICS CONVENTION

Braehead Arena, Kings Inch Road, Glasgow, G51 4BN. Talk-in will be available on S22. The venue has disabled access and free car parking, including access to the Braehead Shopping Centre. Doors open at 10am and close at 4pm and entry is £4. There will be trade stands, an RSGB bookstall and the GMDX group. There will be talks during the day. Club tables are £10 (prebooked only). For more information contact 0759 344 1518 or email management@scottishhamcon.com www.scottishhamcon.com

A list of rallies can be found at http://rsgb.org/main/news/rallies/

137kHz

It is some years since I tried this band, but I really ought to give it a go again. The last time was QRSS3 (I think) when I went looking for the signal with a mag-mounted E-field probe on the car roof, my deaf FT817 and a PC. After 24km I gave up as I was still getting decent copy despite the very low ERP.

Although I am pretty sure I have given this link several times before, you may be interested if you are starting out on that band.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/mflf/137khz_tvrtr

Sunspots and 10m - Saturday May 6th 2017

Solar flux is 74 today and the sunspot number 31.  A=6 and K=2.

5 May 2017

Sunspots and 10m - Friday May 5th 2017

Solar flux is 74 today and the sunspot number 29.  A=7 and K=2.

Life on Mars? - NOT amateur radio

There has long been debate about whether or not primitive life exists on Mars. Now scientists have done some experiments on Earth that suggests life on Mars is indeed possible. Some living things could survive in the harsh conditions on Mars today. Of course this does not prove that life does exist there, just that it could.

See http://www.marsdaily.com/reports/Is_Anything_Tough_Enough_to_Survive_on_Mars_999.html

Iris - NOT amateur radio

There have been some beautiful irises in a garden near here. They are at their best right now. These are a lovely colour.

Magnetic Loops

A few years ago I built a magnetic loop TX antenna. With QRP powers, the very high voltages that exist if the loop is efficient are less problematic. The key to efficiency is low loss. For example, the loop should be made of thick copper pipe or coax, if possible. The capacitors used to resonate the loop should also be low loss. Having said this, I have had good results with normal air spaced variable capacitors and trimmed coax as capacitors. Of course, magnetic loops tend to be very sharply tuned, but for things like WSPR, JT65 and PSK31 where frequency changes are small they are fine. In fact they work remarkably well even indoors. They can be small too as the photo shows. This loop was tuned to 10m WSPR but the same sized loop was used on 20m where I was spotted in Japan - from the back of a chair in the bedroom!

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/magloop.

Return to 6m MSK144 RX

Whilst remaining on 10m WSPR TX with my 500mW TX WSPR beacon, I have returned to 6m MSK144 RX in time for the Aquarids MS shower. The shower peaks this weekend. 3 new countries spotted on 6m MSK144 - Lithuania, Austria and Corsica.  These could of course be Es now and not MS.

On 10m WSPR I have been spotted in Italy.

UPDATE 1410z: Best DX on 10m WSPR is IS0KYB (1556km) with my 500mW beacon. Best DX on 6m MSK144 RX is OF1KH (1643km) in KP01tn square in Finland. This is a new country on this band/mode, but it could well be Es.

UPDATE 1952z: Best DX on 10m WSPR TX (500mW) is OH2VMP (1734km). Briefly, I have been on 6m MSK144 in beacon mode TX sending "B G3XBM JO02" where my best spot on TX (1W ERP) was EA5UB (1496km).

4 May 2017

UK Elections - NOT amateur radio

A reminder that there are local elections, as well as elections for some mayors, in many parts of the UK today. There is a general election in June.

Use your vote!

If you do not vote and the wrong people get in, you can only blame yourself. It is no use moaning! Voting is your democratic right. You can vote as you want. Your vote counts as much as anyone else.

Sunspots and 10m - Thursday May 4th 2017

Solar flux is 74 today and the sunspot number is 15.   A=4 and K=2.

New QRP Club Member

This came in from Oleg yesterday:

Dear Club 72 members and friends,

SV8CYR op. Alexander became a new Club 72 member (certificate # 97)
Who's next?

72! Oleg RV3GM / KH6OB "Mr. 72"

10m WSPR beacon

A few years ago I bought a 500mW (TX only) WSPR beacon from W5OLF. It has been copied in every continent including Antarctica even with my poor 10m antenna. I am not sure if these are still being sold but I was very impressed. It is small, simple and works.

Once sync'd to time (either using a BC receiver or internet time) it is totally stand alone and does not need a PC or external audio. It means I can operate on 6m WSPR or other modes (with the FT817 and PC) at the same time as using the WSPR beacon on 10m.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/w5olf

UPDATE 0820z: The 10m WSPR beacon has just been turned on.

UPDATE 0932z: No spots, as yet, of my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon.

UPDATE 1630z: With 8 different stations spotting my 500mW 10m WSPR beacon, the Es season is definitely here! Best DX today, so far, is OH2VMP (1734km).

On 6m JT65 again

Actually I stayed on 6m JT65 overnight. At 0649z I was spotted by G1IDZ (182km). He is in the Worcester area. No other JT65 spots as yet on 6m.

Tomorrow onwards I shall probably swap to 6m MSK144 RX hoping to catch the Aquarids MS shower.

UPDATE 0816z: DC8RA (572km) has been spotted, probably by Es.

UPDATE 0850z: My 1W ERP 6m JT65 has been spotted by DK8NE (704km) in the last 20 minutes. Es definitely.

UPDATE 1114z: OF3DP (1702km) in KP10 square (Finland) spotted me earlier on 6m JT65. Definitely Es! Plenty of other 6m JT65 spots across Europe, but no WSPR spots on 10m.

UPDATE 2125z: Now gone QRT on 10m WSPR but have switched to transceive for a while on 6m MSK144 (was RX only).

3 May 2017

Sepura and Hytera - NOT amateur radio

My old company is in the process of being taken over maybe by Hytera, which is a Chinese company. They are waiting on the UK government who are possibly concerned about security being compromised. Both the Spanish and Germans have said "OK".

It is OK to have our nuclear plants funded by the Chinese, but possibly not our public safety organisations like the police who use a system that is due to be replaced next year. Muddled thinking? 

There is also the small matter of a General Election next month. It is anyone's guess what the government will decide. Maybe they will delay until after the General Election? If they do, Sepura could go bust and lots of job losses in Cambridge. Politically, this would be bad.

6m MSK144

As you will have seen from posts over the last few months, this mode and band have proved very successful here, irrespective of conditions. Every day, I copy stations from all over western and northern Europe on 6m by this mode. I think my country count is in the low 20s, but I have not checked recently. Best DX is Spain, Balearics, Italy and Sweden. This mode just works.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/6m_msk144 .

Meteor shower

Peaking this coming weekend, the Aquarids meteor shower should bring some strong pings. I shall be on 6m MSK144 RX hoping for success.

The returns from just random meteors have amazed me. With a real MS shower, the pings should be longer, so I have a better chance of copying stations with my very simple set-up (V2000 vertical, lossy coax and FT817).

6m JT65

For a change, I started out on 6m JT65 today with 1W ERP in beacon mode, although I am looking for others 50% of the time and reporting all my spots to PSK Reporter Maps. I am hopeful of some G spots and maybe some Es.

UPDATE 0925z:  G8MIA (162km) spotted on 6m.

UPDATE 1100z: Now 3 G stations spotted on 6m JT65, but nothing from mainland Europe as yet on 6m.

UPDATE 1820z: ON4PG (342km) is my only continental today on 6m JT65, spotted here at 1706z. Tropo?

UPDATE 2100z: My first and probably the only spot on 6m JT65 was some 34 minutes ago when G1IDZ (182km) spotted me in  IO82tc square.

Sunspots and 10m - Wednesday May 3rd 2017

Solar flux is 76 today. Sunspot number is 25.  A=4 and K=1.

OFCOM May 2017 newsletter

OFCOM has published its May 2017 newsletter.

See http://ofcom.cmail19.com/t/ViewEmail/i/E3AFDFA4A9C73112/59D1BD3EA2F08127C67FD2F38AC4859C

Mandelbrot sets - NOT amateur radio

As I get older, I get very frustrated trying to recall names.

One example was the Mandelbrot set. I knew about repeating patterns as you zoom further in, but I just could not bring the name out from the depths! I had a similar problem trying to recall the name Keely Hawes a few days ago. It is not a worry, just frustrating. So much effort is taken trying to remember these names.

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

2 May 2017

2m UKAC this evening

Luckily I got an email reminder! In the UK, Monday was a public holiday and I feel a day out. Tonight from 8pm UK clock time the 2m activity contest takes place. This is organised by the RSGB and activity levels are usually good.

Normally I manage about an hour or less because of my poor voice. I use 5W and a big-wheel antenna.

UPDATE 2040z: I tried a "wait and pounce" approach, but waited a very long time for my first QSO. In all, 7 QSOs in 5 QTH squares. Best DX was the Peak District.

Needless packaging - NOT amateur radio

It really annoys me when supermarkets "go overboard" and package things far more than is needed. There is an online petition aimed at stopping this. Sign if you feel the same way. In years gone by we managed, so why not now?

See https://www.change.org/p/uk-parliament-stop-supermarkets-from-selling-raw-fruit-and-veg-in-plastic-packaging?recruiter=32433470&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_term=des-lg-share_petition-no_msg .

Optical Communications

It is some years (before my stroke in 2013) that I last tried seriously with optical communications using red LEDs that I bought at low cost via eBay. These days, I expect a google will bring up lots of links. This is a fun branch of our hobby, with very low costs and lots of homebrewing. This is a branch of the hobby I'd like to try again. There is much to learn.

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

10m JT65 again

After some Es yesterday and some 10m DX from Brazil, I am back on 10m JT65 this morning. No spots so far, but it is quite early.

UPDATE 0935z: Some Es already on 10m JT65 with DF4WQ (596km) already spotted this morning.

UPDATE 1534z: No more Es seen here since early this morning. I shall stay with 10m JT65 for several hours still. Es often has a second peak around teatime, although I do not know why.

UPDATE 1720z: Still no further 10m JT65 spots here.

Sunspots and 10m - Tuesday May 2nd 2017

Solar flux is 74 today and the sunspot number 11. A=5 and K=2.

1 May 2017

On yer bike - NOT amateur radio

We are lucky to live at the end of a quiet Close with no through traffic. It is ideal for our grandchildren to play outside. We always watch over them.

Ferrite rod antennas on TX

It is some years since I tried this, but I remember being surprised how well this worked. As long as the ferrite is not saturated, a ferrite rod will work on TX. I tried it on WSPR with the antenna just on the shack table. Of course, WSPR works well.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/ferrite_tx

Sunspots and 10m - Monday May 1st 2017

Solar flux is 76 today and the sunspot number 33. A=6 and K=0. 10m? Who knows. With undisturbed conditions we might see some N-S DX.  Es should also start to get more commonplace in the northern hemisphere.

10m JT65

Rather later than normal, I am on 10m JT65 today (2W) in beacon mode sending "B G3XBM JO02" every minute. So far just G4CJC (73km) in IO91xp square spotted. This is inside the M25 north of London.

UPDATE 1434z: Spots exchanged with G0LRD (25km) but no real DX on 10m today here.

UPDATE 1500z: My best DX today on 10m JT65 is a spot of me by IZ2ODN (1095km).

UPDATE 2020z:  PU9DCB (9884km) was copied on 10m JT65. Real DX and quite late!