26 Mar 2017

eBay HB100 10GHz modules

An old work colleague, Richard G3TFX, has found these modules on eBay for £2.23 with free postage. This is an insane price.

Gardening - NOT amateur radio

In the last few weeks with some decent sunshine the garden has "come alive". There is new growth everywhere.

Here I am in the garden yesterday. Lis (my wife) has done most of the work. I am pruning a rose and clearing a bramble.

Ashhar Farhan, VU2ESE website

Ashhar is well known for his BITX rigs for HF. This is his website. If you are looking for low cost HF rigs, this may be your answer! The circuits are clever, simple and low cost.

See http://www.hfsigs.com/

New world record with low cost HB100 module on 10GHz

I see that a new world record has been set in Italy using the very low cost HB100 Doppler radar module (204km). This was wideband FM, I think.

These modules are very low cost. They make the heart of a very low cost wideband FM system for 10GHz. They are the modern version of the Gunnplexer. They contain (I think) a transmitter, RX mixer and 2 antennas all on a small PCB. If you spend £5 you will have change from some eBay suppliers!

"204km. NEW WORLD RECORD, Full Duplex 10GHz with HB100 only 10mW!
Team #1: Giuseppe IK8XFR - Nino IZ8WLZ - Giacomo (Jack)
on S. Giovanni a Piro JN70RB
Team #2: Giuseppe IZ8WGU - Domenico IZ8BAD - Gianluca IZ8YWC - Antonio IK8TGH
on Solano Sup. JM78VF
Strong signals, how many Km can still make HB100 with only 10mW?"

No more 5MHz ....yet

On the GB2RS news today from the RSGB:

Somebody dragging feet?

"Amateurs in the UK have been very fortunate in having early access to 5MHz, with 5 spot frequencies 15 years ago and more than 70kHz of spectrum made available in 2013. This was a result of close cooperation with Ofcom and the MoD, who is primary user on the band. The UK currently has an arrangement that gives us more spectrum and a higher power allowance of 100W at 5MHz, however it does not cover all of the WRC-15 band of 5351.5 to 5366.5kHz. The Society played a very active role in the WRC-15 process and continues to work with Ofcom to gain access to all of the WRC-15 band, however this is not expected to change in the foreseeable future as there are on-going assignments within the band. The RSGB will implement the IARU Region 1 band plan for 5MHz within the segments allocated to us. In common with other Region 1 societies with allocations greater than 15kHz, we will recommend that frequencies within the WRC-15 band that are allowed under the UK Amateur Radio Licence only be used for international contacts, or for stations with no other option."

8m (40MHz band)

Re a small 40MHz allocation to help with Es research, this was on the RSGB forum earlier:

In the ITU Radio Regs, please remember there is no international amateur allocation for 50 MHz in Region-1 (ie Europe, Africa, Middle East). We are very focussed on trying to fix this under WRC-19 Agenda Item 1.1. Our usage (and by other european countries) is effectively a national non-interference one. Only Region-2/3 have formal 50 MHz amateur allocations.

Getting that change for Region-1 you might think ought to straightforward given the spread of 50 MHz national level licenses - but it is most definitely not. It needs agreement from first CEPT (where Russia and France have serious objections) and indeed all 193 ITU Member States. The impact of that on an ordinary amateur is both lower activity and a direct restriction in your UK personal licence. When you are abroad or Maritime Mobile in Region-1 international waters - 50 MHz usage may be barred. If you look on the other thread in this C3 forum, there is a new draft paper on 'Spectrum Prioritisation and Development' which covers the challenge and explains that CEPT/193 issue further.

The recent 5MHz WRC result (and this weeks announcement in GB2RS re no 5MHz future changes) is proof that this is not an easy process. It is not free either - attending the Ofcom/CEPT prep meetings costs RSGB (ie members subs) quite a bit over the four years of that WRC15 cycle, and more in the run up to WRC-19. Smaller amateur radio societies in other countries often cant afford to do that and thus fail to get their governments fully on side.

Returning to 40MHz. Years ago when we and the Danes did our 40 MHz beacons, other IARU Member Socs were formally encouraged to do likewise - nothing happened (not even in South Africa). If other amateurs cant even manage that (let alone convince their governments to have a Tx allocation) - then you can assume its not going to happen very quickly...

We do recognise that some knowledge of propagation at 40MHz is a technical nice to have - but we need to be realistic re an 'allocation'


Murray G6JYB

PS. Dont forget members subs also have to go into protecting what we have first, before acquiring more.
PPS. 50 MHz and 70 MHz are in the same boat of course - as they are national and not ITU allocations (A great Question for Advance exams that!)
PPPS. Any future item for WRC-23 will need all those 193 states to approve it at WRC-19 just to even have it added to the agenda
PPPPS. IARU is funded by IARU Member Socs - basically Progress needs Pounds (or Euro or whatever) - ie healthy membership subs for Member Socs

Continuing on 6m MSK144 RX

Already 6 stations in 5 countries (OZ, G, EI, F, HB9) spotted on 6m MSK144 RX this morning. I shall leave the RX and PC running whilst I cut the grass.

UPDATE 1320z: Now 9 stations in 7 countries on 6m MSK144 RX today.

UPDATE 1530z: Now 11 stations in 8 countries on 6m MSK144 RX today and another new country (LX) on this band/mode.
UPDATE 1905z: Now 12 stations in 9 countries on 6m MSK144 RX with SK0TM (1156km).

Sunspots and 10m - Sunday March 26th 2017

Solar flux is 74 today. Sunspot number is 11.  A=4 and K=0. 10m propagation is expected to be "poor".

British Summer Time - NOT amateur radio

Well, if you are in the UK did you remember to put your clocks forward an hour?

BST means it is darker for longer in the morning, but it is lighter in the evenings. It also helps delineate winter from spring - lighter evenings bring a promise of better weather as we move on through spring.

25 Mar 2017

Pipit - 15m QRP CW transceiver

Many years ago I designed and built the Pipit, an 800mW CW transceiver with a direct conversion receiver. It really worked and for some time was my main rig. Used with a low dipole it worked some decent DX. The design was published in GQRP "SPRAT" many years ago.

Sadly, the rig was dismantled some years later. I regret this!

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/15m_pipit

Obamacare - NOT amateur radio

Although I don't live in the USA, free healthcare, it seems to me, should not depend on wealth. There is a lot wrong with our NHS here in the UK, but the Trump version of Obamacare seemed, to me, to be a step backwards. Yes, the richer have to subsidise the poorer in society. So what?

Now, I am no USA politics major, but looking in from the outside, I think Congress was right to dismiss Mr Trump's healthcare bill at the first hurdle.

As I said, this is my opinion. You may well disagree!

Cattle Egrets - NOT amateur radio

Before the late 1980s, seeing a little egret in the UK would have been rare. Now they are everywhere. I have even seen these in our village here in East Anglia.

Now it is the turn of the cattle egrets, which are becoming increasingly common in Devon. These are slightly smaller than little egrets with a different bill colour. They tend to be near cattle.

See https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/c/cattleegret/

See also https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Cattle_Egret/id

UPDATE 1638z: I see that a swallow was seen in Slapton village, Devon 17.3.17,which is very early. I think it will be well into April before I see one up here.

Lady Day - NOT amateur radio

Today, March 25th, is Lady Day. Years ago, this marked the start of the year. The UK tax year starts April 6th, which was Lady Day before calendars changed. This day had great non-liturgical importance too. I remember my parents moving house on Lady Day 1959.

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

Sunspots and 10m - Saturday March 25th 2017

Solar flux is 72 today. Sunspot number is 12. A=6 and K=1. 10m propagation is expected to be "poor".

North Norfolk

Yesterday we drove up to North Norfolk. We ate at "The Old Reading Room" in Kelling. This is a simple place run by real locals and serving simple, no nonsense food.

Later we went to the coast for a short walk where we saw these hardy fishermen.

QRP and QRP Club

More from Oleg:

Dear Club 72 members and friends,
members of the Club 72 invites all QRP operators to take a part in the
trial   Evening Rendez-Vous at 18 UTC on 7030 kHz +/- QRM/QRL started
today in Friday March 24.
Next  schedule  is  the same days as traditional 14060 "rendezvous" -
Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays
9 UTC on 14060 kHz
18 UTC on 7030 kHz
alternative 10116 kHz if Contests QRM
All  comments  (soapbox)  and  lists  of  worked/heard  QRP  stations
appreciated after each "rendezvous" to "mr72" e-mail, please.
Each  Sundays  I publish the Weekly QRP Rendez-Vous Report in the "72
Newsletter" (shorted) and on the Club 72 blog-page (full).
Keep your activity and enjoy QRP!

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.

Back on 6m MSK144 RX again

At breakfast I returned to 6m MSK144 RX.  Best DX so far today is EA2ARD (1010km) in the Basque region of Spain.

UPDATE 1310z: 5 stations in 4 countries on 6m MSK144 in last 12 hours.

UPDATE 1726z: OZ2TG (878km) spotted bringing the total 6m MSK144 RX total today to 6 stations in 5 countries.

24 Mar 2017

Sunspots and 10m - Friday March 24th 2017

Solar flux is 72 today. Sunspot number is 12. A=11 and K=2. 10 propagation is expected to be "poor".

First swallow (bird) seen in Devon - NOT amateur radio

A first swallow was reported in Devon yesterday. If this report is correct, this is the first seen this year. They usually start to arrive about now in Devon, but it is usually later up here in East Anglia.

See https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/s/swallow/

UPDATE 1740z 26.3.17: Well apparently the first swallow in South Devon was reported a week earlier, which is very early.

QRP and QRP Club

More from Oleg:

Dear Club 72 members and friends,
I'm happy to inform about new Club 72 member -
RU6ME op. Eugene (# 96)
Who's next?

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.

VLF (8.97kHz) TX

8.97kHz 5W TX
Before my stroke in 2013 I did a fair bit of experimentation at VLF, successfully receiving quite a few European amateurs on VLF doing radiated tests. I did some "through-the-ground" utilities assisted earth-mode tests out to 6km using just a 5W transmitter. At some point I'd like to do more.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vlf/8-97khz-earth-mode-transmitter

6m MSK144

This morning, I am again on 6m MSK144 RX. At the moment, the best DX is Switzerland.

UPDATE 1806z: GI4SNA (488km) brings my country total on 6m MSK144 to 17 now.

UPDATE 1834z: 7 stations in 5 countries received on 6m MSK144 RX today so far.

UKAC results

The results of the 2m and 70cm UKAC activity contests have been published and I notice I had points deducted for logging errors. These were me being careless - sometimes it is as if my brain runs at a slower rate than it once did and I fail to get everything written down. Later, I see there are missing data, but it is too late. I notice this with driving too - these days I drive slower as my reactions are not as fast.

Nonetheless, on both bands my scores were still respectable considering I use just 5W and a big-wheel omni on 2m and 5W and a 2m halo fed with lossy coax on 70cm! I enjoy these contests but I need to take more care with the logs in future. In the end, it is more about taking part than the actual scores, but I need to try harder. Getting accurate logs should be straightforward.

23 Mar 2017

uBitX 10-80m HF rig

This came in from Steve G1KQH:

Recent interview with Ashhar Farhan:
Scroll video forward to around 54 mins to start.
uBitx HF-10-80 plus Gen coverage RX in production within the next couple of months, to be not much more expensive than Bitx40!!
(If you want to cut out some of the waffle and get down to it. Scroll video fwd to around 1:12 to watch the uBitx stuff) Link here:

Performance of FT-817???
Very interesting well worthy of watching with a glass of beer..

Alien space travel? - NOT amateur radio

This is pure speculation and there may well be other explanations, but two Harvard scientists have speculated that alien lifeforms on distant planets may be travelling through the cosmos using powerful radio beams to power their sails.

See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/aliens-space-travel-fast-radio-bursts_us_58caf1f7e4b00705db4d8f65

Man has been searching for alien life for about 50 years. It is surprising that nothing has been found.

New cloud type - NOT amateur radio

Apparently, a new, rare cloud type has been officially acknowledged in a cloud atlas.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39351843

Although I am not "into" clouds, I know some people are.

I do recall seeing lenticular clouds in the Yorkshire Dales some years ago.

The full version of the image on the LHS is at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenticular_cloud#/media/File:Lenticular_Cloud_over_Harold%27s_Cross_Dublin_Ireland_30-6-15.jpg

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

Cowslips - NOT amateur radio

The first cowslips have appeared here and, by any measure, we are now officially in spring. The clocks go forward this coming weekend.

100 sand martins (birds) have been seen in Devon. These are migrants often seen returning about now. I remember my dad telling me when he first saw these over the golf course. He died in 1987 sadly. I miss him.

Sunspots and 10m - Thursday March 23rd 2017

Solar flux is 71 today and the sunspot number is (don't hold your breath!) 12. A=27 and K=2.

10m? Anyone's guess.

Back on 6m MSK144 RX

Since breakfast, I have been on 6m MSK144 RX. So far EI7BMB (462km) and HB9FX (778km) spotted.

UPDATE 1120z: G0GGG (210km) now spotted on 6m MSK144.

UPDATE 1650z: 5 stations in 4 countries spotted on 6m MSK144 so far today (G, OZ, EI, HB9).

22 Mar 2017

472kHz WSPR RX

As 10m JT65 got me no spots at all today, I QSYed to 630m (472kHz) WSPR RX this evening. So far on RX the best DX is DH5RAE (995km). ON7ZO (355km) is a new station for me, I think, on 472kHz RX.

To ensure a low noise floor, the PC is running on its batteries and the battery charger is not being used. With the SMPSU charging the batteries the noise on RX runs at S8. Just on batteries, the 472kHz noise floor is S0.

UPDATE 2138z: LA2XPA (1310km) is now the best DX on 472kHz RX.

UPDATE 2236z: EA5DOM (1525km) is now the furthermost DX on this band this evening.

Don Miller W9WNV DXer

If, like me, you are getting a bit old, you may recall some of the great DXpeditions of the 1960s undertaken by Don Miller W9WNV. He became a legend at the time. Later, some of his reported DX sites were questioned.

There are some YouTube interviews and his story is at http://www.k6qqq.com/the-don-miller-story-as-told-by-hugh-cassidy-wa6aud/ .

Just maybe, some are too young to remember him!

472kHz WSPR webpage

My main website at www.g3xbm.co.uk  has a new page on 472kHz WSPR.

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

6m QRP aurora

Shortly after 6m was released in the UK back in the mid 1980s I only had 1W to a simple wire dipole. This antenna was not very high and just strung from the gutter. I chanced on an aurora and managed to work some DX on 6m SSB, even with this set-up.

GB3RMK, the beacon way up in Scotland, was copied many times with this set-up on meteor pings on 6m. I used to leave the RX running and in just about every 15 minute period I would copy part or all of the callsign on CW. On 6m, auroras can be good.

On 10m QRP SSB I recall working the USA aided by auroras too.

365project - NOT amateur radio

For several years now my wife and I have (separately) taken a photo every day and submitted them to 365project. For $19.99 a year you can make the images private so only the people you choose can see them. You can then also have more albums if you want.

Some of the photos sent in are "arty", but many are just a record of ordinary life. Looking back over the years, you can see what you were doing.

Often the most mundane subject matter is popular. Some years ago I remember a photo of mine of a mole hole being widely viewed whereas something I thought would interest many turned out not to be popular in the least.

We mainly do this for a record of what we did rather than to be particularly popular. It is great fun.


See http://spaceweather.com/ .

We could be in for some auroras with a strong blast of solar wind over the next few days. This could lead to some auroral DX on VHF.

Heathers - NOT amateur radio

At this time of the year, heathers are in flower in UK gardens. This show was in a nearby garden. Sadly, they do not look so good all year around.

10m JT65 (2W)

Although I have been active on 10m JT65 since breakfast, no spots given or received on 10m so far.

A reminder that my webpage about 10m JT65 is at https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/hf/10mjt65

This is a most effective mode for basic QSOs and beaconing. If propagation is there, this mode will find it, even with QRP.

UPDATE 1635z: No 10m JT65 spots so far today here. I shall be on for a few more hours hoping to catch a few locals if no DX.

UPDATE 1928z: With zero JT65 10m spots all day I shall shortly go QRT.

Sunspots at last! - sunspots and 10m Wednesday March 22nd 2017

Solar flux is 71 today and the sunspot count is 11. A=26 and K=3. This is the first day with sunspots in several weeks.

21 Mar 2017

IC7300 - price drop time?

To my thinking, the IC7300 is still way over-priced.  It uses a much simpler architecture than the FT991A and the true price, even with the dealers taking a decent margin, should be well below £1000 especially with the retail price of the FT891 being what it is. Yes, I know they are different radios, but I want to see the IC7300 at a fair price. Dealers are clearly trying to make handsome profits whilst they can.

2m WSPR webpage

Based on my experiences with 2m WSPR, I have written a short webpage on my main site at www.g3xbm.co.uk . This is not a mode well suited to 2m and I recommend other modes.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/2mwspr .

Triggering Article 50 and leaving the EU - NOT amateur radio

On March 29th the UK government will trigger Article 50, which signals the start of the process to leave the EU.

Although it is in the interests of both the UK and the EU to come to a decent deal, the outcome is not known. I am sure that the people of the UK would have stayed in the EU if the EU had been prepared to "think outside of the box".

I am sure most in Europe want free trade but are nervous about uncontrolled free movement. The UK has a proud history of helping refugees fleeing from conflict. I am sure the EU is worried about other member countries leaving "the club". To me, this is old-fashioned thinking.

If the EU supported free trade and not free movement or political union, then the EU would have a rosy future. As it is, I think the EU faces a difficult future.

Rare sunny day - NOT amateur radio

We live in the last bungalow on the left overlooking the restored windmill. The windmill is nearly 200 years old. Today we have had a rare sunny day, although the rest of the week looks rainy. We are lucky to have a nice spot.

The museum, of which the windmill is a just a small part, goes on and on. It must be one of the very best local museums in the whole country. It is open from Easter to late October on Thursdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays. If you visit, you may be surprised by what is there.

See http://www.burwellmuseum.org.uk/ .

Sunspots and 10m - Tuesday March 21st 2017

Solar flux is 72 and the sun remains spotless yet again. Dire! A=2 and K=4.

Back on 6m MSK144 RX

So far this morning 3 stations in 3 countries spotted on 6m MSK144 RX. Best DX is DK8NE (704km). I think all these were aircraft reflections?

UPDATE 1715z: 5 stations in 5 countries on 6m MSK144 RX so far.

Martin McGuinness Dead

Martin McGuinness has died of a rare heart condition at the age of 66. In his younger days he was a key member of the IRA and wedded to violence.

In later years he was deputy first minister in Northern Ireland working with Ian Paisley and was one of the "chuckle brothers", showing that mutual respect between two very different people is possible.

I am sure to the end he was very much in favour of a united Ireland, but he came to realise votes not bullets would bring this about.  He changed, as did Ian Paisley.

My hope and prayer is that those that follow will walk in the path of peace. Jaw, jaw is always better than war, war. This applies whatever your political beliefs.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-39185899 .

20 Mar 2017

New page on my main website

As regular readers of this blog know, I have been very impressed with 6m MSK144 RX. Because of this, I have created a new page on my main website.

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

New Country on 6m MSK144 RX

OK1DNT (956km) is another new country spotted on this mode on 6m. If memory serves me correctly, this is the 16th country spotted via this mode.

I went QRT on 10m WSPR TX (500mW) at about 2000z. No spots (at all) on 10m today.

481THz NLOS (over the horizon)

Before my stroke in 2013 I enjoyed building and operating optical communications gear. My stroke has rather scuppered this, for now! Although I had one over 10km line-of sight speech contact with G4HJW/P, my main interest was weak signal, over the horizon, communication. I did tests at over 8km non line-of-sight using QRSS3. Although there was no evidence of the optical signal in the sky, the QRSS3 signal was clearly decoded on the PC at the receive end. Overall, I was left with the impression that much further would have been possible.

At some point I really want to continue this work. All my optical gear was home-made using material that was low cost and easily obtained. Test gear for optical work was simple and low cost too. In my view, optical work is more rewarding than microwaves and the test gear simpler.

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

St Johns College, Cambridge, UK - NOT amateur radio

Recently, we visited the Backs (of the colleges) in nearby Cambridge, UK. With all the flowers out, this really is a sight. This is in the grounds of St Johns College.

We really are quite lucky living so close. As residents, we get free entry into the colleges.

Sunspots and 10m - Monday March 20th 2017

Solar flux is 72 and the sun remains spotless (as in no sunspots rather than recently polished). A=2 and K=0. I think any sunspots appearing from now on will be a bonus!

See http://news.spaceweather.com/sunspots-vanish-space-weather-continues/

6m MSK144 RX and 10m WSPR TX (again)

Yet again I am on 6m MSK144 RX and 10m WSPR TX. So far, just Gs south west of London spotted on 6m, but no spots on 10m WSPR. I have been active since about 0745z.

UPDATE 0950z: No 10m WSPR spots still and no further 6m MSK144 spots as yet.

UPDATE 1050z: DF5VAE (904km) spotted on 6m MSK144 RX.

UPDATE 1430z: 6 stations in 4 countries spotted so far on 6m MSK144. No spots on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 1545z:  7 stations in 5 countries now on 6m MSK144 RX today.

UPDATE 1735z: 9 stations in 7 countries on 6m MSK144 RX today so far.

6m MSK144 RX today
UPDATE 2100z: G3YDY (65km) is the latest station to be spotted on 6m MSK144. What amazes me is how strong all stations are. I think most stations have positive S/N ratios and the weakest is -3dB S/N. Even quite distant stations are strong. If random MS, this suggests the ionised trails reflect really well.  If aircraft reflection, the reflected signals are very good.

19 Mar 2017

472kHz WSPR RX

I have now gone QRT on all bands, but I am monitoring 630m (472kHz) WSPR. So far DF2JP (448km) and G8HUH (250km) spotted. As usual, I am using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground and the (deaf) FT817.

UPDATE 2140z: Not a bad evening so far on 472kHz WSPR RX.
Unique stations spotted on 472kHz WSPR RX this evening

10m in the quiet years

Firstly, 10m is good for Es (sporadic-E) at any part of the solar cycle. In the northern hemisphere May-August are the best Es months. There is a smaller peak around December-January. There are many theories about Es. Also, as mentioned before, N-S real DX can occur on 10m even in the quietest solar periods with no sunspots.

As 11m CB demonstrates, 10m is a useful band for local nets - the proverbial "natter across town". 4W from a converted CB FM rig regularly enabled me to work 30km with a CB halfwave antenna.

Another possibility is a derivative of my Tenbox AM rig. Simple to make and a possible club project? What was done before my stroke is a possible source of ideas.

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

If you follow the link and click the schematic it will bring up a larger clearer version.

Northern Ireland - NOT amateur radio

One of the thorny Brexit issues will be Northern Ireland (Ulster). This has a land border with Eire which will remain in the EU. Currently, there is free movement north and south across this border. What happens when the UK leaves the EU?

Most unionists do not want a united island of Ireland. Most in Sin Fein would like to see the island reunited. I, for one, do not see how this will be resolved. Maybe a political "fudge" with the north somehow independent? No, I think Theresa May, the UK PM, has a really tricky issue here.

Where I come from - NOT amateur radio

My ancestors come from South Devon. Many still live near here. I have a continuous genealogy back to the mid-1500s and one of my ancestors owned a piece of land near here in 1428. It is good to think of them enjoying this all those years ago. The cycle of life goes on.

QRP and QRP Club

As usual, Oleg has reported on QRP Club:

Dear Club 72 members and friends,

Weekly QRP Rendez-Vous Report (March, 19, 2017)
Visitors  of  the  week: R1CAF, RW3AA, UR7VT, IK0SDA, UR5EFD, SM2FIJ,
See full Visitors and Frequenters lists on the Club 72 web page.
See full version of the WQR Report on the blog page -

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.

Mr Trump - NOT amateur radio

A lot of people in the USA voted him into office. "Make America great again".

As yet, he has still to demonstrate true statesman-like behaviour on the world stage. Mrs Merkel was not impressed! He will be judged by how statesman-like he is. Sometimes he will have to eat his words. We have not yet had him in office 100 days, so it would be wrong to judge him too soon, although personally I have not been impressed.

Why does he remind me of a certain European leader who came to power in the 1930s and who committed suicide in 1945? Caveat emptor.

Signs of life - NOT amateur radio

There are stirrings in the garden.

After what seemed like a long, dull winter the daffodils are in flower, snowdrops are past their best, there are buds on the trees and bushes. Only a few weeks hopefully and we'll see the first swallows back.

So, the cycle of life goes on.

Sunspots and 10m - Sunday March 19th 2017

Solar flux is 70 today, but the sunspot count remains zero. This is a long spotless period, but I expect worse to come! A=2 and K=1. As for 10m propagation? We live in hope!

The foreseeable future will see few spots, but N-S 10m propagation is still likely. Sadly people take a quick look, hear nothing and desert the higher HF bands.

UPDATE 1200z: With a spot by DK6UG (633km) of my 500mW WSPR on 10m, it proves there is still life on the band.  It would be good to get spotted outside Europe on 10m.

UPDATE 1206z: GM6NX (507km) has now been spotted on 6m MSK144. 5 stations in 4 countries spotted on 6m MSK144 so far today.

New country copied on 6m MSK144

EA2ARD (1010km) has been spotted on 6m MSK144. I am pretty sure this is a new country copied by this mode on 6m.  As well as 6m MSK144 RX, I am also active on 10m WSPR TX but nothing spotted.

UPDATE 1025z: 2E0EBM (65km) spotted on 6m MSK144.

UPDATE 1154z: G8HXE (221km) and EI4DQ (576km) now spotted on 6m MSK144. This mode on 6m never fails. Most days I spot several countries on 6m even with my V2000 vertical using this mode.

UPDATE  1200z: DK6UG (633km) has spotted my 500mW 10m WSPR. So there is some life on 10m.

UPDATE 1506z: Now spotted 8 stations in 7 countries so far today on 6m MSK144.
UPDATE 1940z: Time to go QRT on 6m MSK144 RX.

18 Mar 2017

Do violets like wet? - NOT amateur radio

This spring we seem to have violets everywhere! Usually we see some, but this year they appear to be all over the place! Now, we had a mild, damp winter, so I am wondering if these conditions particularly favour violets?

Also daffodils were late this year but suddenly they are all out in a wonderful sea of yellow.

This year we have had a wetter winter than I can ever remember. Perhaps this is a result of global warming?

Now on 10m WSPR TX (500mW)

As well as RX on 6m MSK144, I am now transmitting on 10m WSPR. So far, no spots on 10m.

UPDATE 1528z: 4 countries spotted on 6m MSK144 today so far (HB9, ON, PA and EI) but nothing yet on 10m WSPR.

K7RA and propagation

Someone far more knowledgeable than me about propagation is K7RA. Southgate News has a piece about his latest review of propagation.

See http://southgatearc.org/propagation/k7ra/index.htm#.WM0pWIXXLIU

On 6m MSK144 RX

Most of the morning, I have been on 6m MSK144 receive with EI and HB9 the best DX spotted so far.

As it uses a different antenna and does not need the FT817 or PC (I use the W5OLF beacon, which is totally stand-alone) I may well go on 10m WSPR TX (500mW) shortly as well as monitoring 6m MSK144. To be honest, I am hopeful about 10m, although I have no basis for this!

UPDATE 2200z:  Now QRT on all bands. On 6m MSK144 quite a few stations received here did not appear on PSK Reporter Maps, suggesting that I lost internet connectivity at the times they should have been reported.

Sunspots and 10m - Saturday March 18th 2017

Solar flux is 69 and yet again the sunspot number remains zero. A=4 and K=0.

Simple minds? - NOT amateur radio

This appealed to my simple mind. I first saw it on an email I get daily from Twitter. I do not use Twitter. For those who don't know, Liechtenstein is a tiny nation on the border of Switzerland.

17 Mar 2017

DX via noctilucent clouds?

These high altitude clouds appear most often around the summer solstice and support radar returns. It has yet to be tried, but it means very long distance UHF, SHF and microwave paths may be possible using these clouds. Who will try?

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

Shoot yourself in the foot? - NOT amateur radio

When reading it, the White House spokesman did not exactly sound as if he believed it himself, to my ears at least. Claims that GCHQ helped Obama bug Trump in the lead-up to the presidential elections have been described as "nonsense" by GCHQ.

If Mr Trump is looking for credibility on the world stage, he should listen to evidence on everything and act on hard evidence. It is always wise to check facts. Take for example global warming. He does himself no favours by acting without reading and accepting the facts. Any leader must work from facts. A politician who does not is living in a bubble.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39300191. Oh sorry, the BBC is a "false news" supplier!

Kings, Cambridge - NOT amateur radio

Today we walked around the Backs in Cambridge to see all the flowers out. I used to go to a meeting in one of the rooms (X6) in Kings (on the left in the photo) when I first came to Cambridge.

Scottish independence - NOT amateur radio

The leader of the ruling party in Scotland has asked for a second referendum on independence next year. The UK Prime Minister has said "no".

In my view, both powerful women are playing politics. With oil worth less than half of what it was when the Scots voted to stay in the UK, I don't quite see how the Scottish people could go it alone. Mind you, the majority in Scotland voted to "remain" in the EU, unlike the majority in the UK.

At the moment, the UK certainly has to focus on its new relationship with the EU but the break-up of the ancient union with Scotland could happen. Even more troubling is the border between Eire (in the EU) and Ulster (soon to be out of the EU).

Low nest - NOT amateur radio

We saw this nest in a pollarded tree on our way back from visiting old neighbours yesterday. The nest is only about six feet off the ground, although I expect it is well hidden when the leaves are out.

Sunspots and 10m - Friday March 17th 2017

Solar flux is 70 today and the sun remains spotless. This is the longest spotless period in many years. A=6 and K=1. On the face of it, things don't look that promising on 10m today.

Rallies this weekend


Saturday 18 March 2017. Millennium Memorial Hall, Clifton Street, Laugharne SA33 4QG.

Doors open 10am-1pm (disabled entry 15 mins early), entry £3. Tables are free, booked through Matthew, GW6KOA, 0199 4427 581 or by email to matthew.twyman63@btinternet.com.


Wythall Park, Silver Street, B47 6LZ Parking available on site. Doors open at 10am with disabled visitors gaining access at 9.30am. Entry is £4. There will be a Bring & Buy, RSGB bookstall as well as lectures. Catering will be available on site. Contact Mike, 0797 674 4479, mike@g4vpd.com.

A list of rallies can be found at

10m WSPR transceive (2W)

Since breakfast, I have been transceive on 10m WSPR running 2W TX 20% of the time with 80% RX. G3YSX (115km) is the most distant station copied here so far. G4KPX (14km) is copying me.
Initial WSPR spots on 10m this morning
UPDATE 1712z: Well there were no other spots (well not up to now) since these early ones. I suspect these were people off to work. I shall stay on a bit longer, but hopes are fading for any long distance DX on 10m today. Later, I shall probably switch to 630m RX.

16 Mar 2017

Dutch Politics - NOT amateur radio

Well, I for one am pleased that the far right was NOT well supported in the Dutch elections yesterday. In my view there is no place for extreme right wing politics anywhere.

The recent BREXIT vote in the UK and the election of Mr Trump in the USA were reactions. People generally are saying, "politicians be honest" and, "listen to our views".  The swing to truly representative politics will take time. Politicians everywhere need to truly represent the people.

60m in the UK

According to the latest RadCom, the RSGB is still negotiating with OFCOM and the military to get the WRC2015 worldwide 60m allocation available to UK amateurs in 2017 in addition to the existing UK allocations.

6m MSK144 this morning

A couple of countries spotted so far, but occasionally I am also trying transmitting in beacon mode on this mode/band sending "B G3XBM JO02" in MSK144. So far, no reports on TX.

UPDATE 1318z:  4 countries spotted so far on 6m MSK144, but sadly no spots of my own 2W signal. I have now gone RX only.

Sunspots and 10m - Thursday March 16th 2017

Solar flux is 69 today and the sunspot count remains stubbornly zero. A=7 and K=0.

15 Mar 2017

Arctic Litter - NOT amateur radio

At my U3AC course yesterday at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge we were told an amazing fact. Litter in the Arctic Ocean has increased 20-fold in the last 10 years.

Back on 472kHz WSPR RX

Although not on any bands today, I am back on 472kHz WSPR receive this evening.

Lambs - NOT amateur radio

Today, we had our warmest day of the year. It felt warm for the first time and was true "shirt sleeve" weather. At Ickworth, UK there were daffodils, lambs and bees on the wing. A lovely day.

Last night on 472kHz WSPR RX

Last evening and overnight I was on 472kHz WSPR RX again. Plenty of stations copied with the best DX again being Norway. Without the PC's SMPSU being active I am surprised just how much I spot with the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground and the totally in modified (deaf) FT817.

Sunspots and 10m - Wednesday March 15th 2017

Solar flux is 70 and, yet again, the sunspot number remains zero. A=4 and K=2

Trinity - NOT amateur radio

Living very close to the world famous university town of Cambridge we get to see some magnificent places.

These include  Kings College Chapel, St Johns and Trinity College.

Trinity is the subject of the photo, which shows the entrance to the college. Trinity boasts 32 Nobel Prize winners!

See https://www.trin.cam.ac.uk/

14 Mar 2017

Help please copying CDs! - NOT amateur radio

I need help doing something that I thought would be easy! We have a Windows10 PC and an external DVD/CD drive that plays audio CDs through the PC, so I know the external drive works.

How do I copy this audio CD to the hard drive of the PC?

The CDs are from Iceland and I think the group has disbanded, so we want to make backups in case the CDs get damaged. I did the obvious things (copy and paste) but this did not work.


UKAC 70cm this evening

This evening is the March 2017 70cm UKAC activity contest organised by the RSGB. Although I only use 5W SSB to my 2m halo fed with lossy coax, I try to get on for a while until my voice shouts "enough". Usually this means about 30-40 minutes. Often I am surprised how well this works.

See http://www.rsgbcc.org/cgi-bin/contest_rules.pl?contest=70cmsukac
UPDATE 2056z: After 30 minutes I had to stop because of my poor voice. Best DX was a QSO with G4CLA (105km), which is not bad with 5W QRP and a 2m halo fed with lossy coax!

Sunspots and 10m - Tuesday March 14th 2017

Solar flux is 72 today, but the sun remains spotless. A=3 and K=0. 10m? Anyone's guess!

6m MSK144 RX - 4 countries already!

At the moment I am on 6m MSK144 RX and already EI, GD, DF and F have been spotted and it is only 1013z.

MSK144 really does seem to change 6m. Unlike most other modes, it works without Es or F layer propagation, so 6m can be used whenever. All that is needed is patience: when a burst occurs signals are strong. Outside an MS shower these bursts come randomly and last only a few mS with my poor set-up. I am sure a few dB extra RX "system gain" e.g. a less lossy antenna or cable or another dB or so of RX sensitivity could make more stations appear more often. Pings that might be too short might be decoded.  Despite my poor system I still manage far better than I ever expected.

UPDATE 1932z: 10 stations in 8 countries today so far on 6m MSK144 RX. Best DX Sweden and Switzerland.

13 Mar 2017

10m disappointment

All day long I have been putting out 500mW on 10m WSPR TX. I am transmitting 100% of the time with randomised frequencies each transmission.

I know my tri-band antenna could be better, but I have received not a single WSPR spot all day! Results are better on 6m MSK144.

What disappoints is the lack of G stations. Even with very poor 10m conditions I would have expected spots out to 60-100km on WSPR. It seems people are not interested in the challenge.

MS - NOT amateur radio

Multiple Sclerosis is a nasty condition, that is usually lifelong and unpredictable.  I know of one girl who died and three others suffering in different ways. The worst part is just not knowing what the future might bring. It is most common in people in the prime of life. One person I know was a very good cancer nurse. Sadly, she can no longer do this.

Research continues and there are some promising signs.  I certainly hope they find a cure.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-39256584 .

481THz over the horizon

Facebook reminded me that 4 years ago I was doing QRSS3 tests with light at 4.8km over the horizon.

"Much better results this evening with 481THz light beam signals over the horizon at 4.8km. Last night I was 2.5 degrees out and signals were much weaker. Tonight QRSS3 could be comfortably copied at 20dB S/N in 0.34Hz bandwidth. At the receiving end the signal is not audible and nothing visible in the sky from the transmitter. Aiming is VERY critical just above the horizon."

The Future?

Several things act as warnings about the future of our hobby. Today, there was a piece in Southgate News warning of the lack of youngsters entering the hobby in the Netherlands. Although not true everywhere, ours is a hobby mainly populated by older people. This is definitely the case here in the UK. Most club members are grey-haired!!

In general, young people fail to "get the magic" radio was to us years ago. I have discussed this before, but in the age of worldwide video conferencing for free over the internet, young people think radio old fashioned. Our hobby will die unless we attract and keep young people. Clearly what "turns on" youngsters is not the same thing that attracted us. In the early 1960s if you wanted to talk around the world you had to become a radio amateur.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2017/march/shortage-of-young-dutch-radio-hams.htm#.WMZ8DoXXLIU

Newmarket - NOT amateur radio

We live about 4 miles from Newmarket, which is the horse racing capital of the world. The area is surrounded by studs, many of which are owned by rich Arab sheiks.

We do most of our food shopping in Newmarket. In this town, the horse is king and cars often give way to passing strings of horses being exercised. 

A trip up to Newmarket Heath is often accompanied by horses galloping.

Overnight on 40m WSPR

Although I had lots of spots of my 2W WSPR on 40m, there was no better DX than the W9 who spotted me last evening. I have since moved to 10m WSPR (ever hopeful!).

QRP and QRP Club

More from Oleg:

Dear Club 72 members and friends,

Weekly QRP Rendez-Vous Report (March, 12, 2017)
Visitors  of  the  week:  US3EN, DK1HW, UR0ET, OH6NPV, EA6BB, RU3NJC,
R9WY and DL2WA became Frequenters (regular visitors)
New Visitors: RN6K and RA6AN - you are welcome!
See full Visitors and Frequenters lists on the
See full WQR Report on the blog page -
Thanks ALL for activity and comments. See you on next QRP Rendez-Vous
round tables -
Tuesdays,  Thursdays, Saturdays at 9.00 UTC on 14060 kHz (alternative
10116 kHz) +/- QRM, QRL, keep RIT for XTALs

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 and 10m WSPR TX

This morning I am on 6m MSK144 RX and on 10m WSPR TX (500mW). At the moment I have a local noise source on 6m (a pulse about every 1 second) that I hope will go away. The FT817 noise blanker has no effect.

I am on 10m WSPR as this uses a separate W5OLF WSPR-AXE beacon and this is separate from the FT817 on 6m which uses the tri-band V2000 vertical antenna and the shack PC.

UPDATE 0927z: No spots as yet.

UPDATE 0935z:  My noise on 6m has gone enabling me to spot OZ1PIF (850km) and G3RED (91km) on 6m MSK144.

UPDATE 1020z: Now GM4UYE (507km) is being spotted on 6m MSK144. Still no spots on 10m WSPR.

UPDATE 1118z: So far today, 5 countries spotted on 6m MSK144 (G, GW, GM, EI and OZ). Still no 10m WSPR spots sadly.

UPDATE 1622z:  Sunspots? Es? Who needs them when a very simple system brings these in on 6m MSK144!
Stations spotted so far today on 6m MSK144
UPDATE 1954z: GD0TEP (381km) brings the countries spotted today on 6m MSK144 to six.

Sunspots and 10m - Monday March 13th 2017

Solar flux is 70 today and yet again the sunspot number is zero. A=9 and K=2.

12 Mar 2017

Stroke update - NOT amateur radio

It is some time since I updated readers on the after-effects of my 2013 stroke. So, here goes. 

The worst effects are I still feel very giddy when walking, tire easily and my voice is poor.

And yet, 3.5 years after my stroke I am still making small improvements. I feel better able to do up buttons. Also, I feel my basic core strength is, maybe, just a little stronger. Improvements are hard to detect now.

Yet, even now, I am becoming aware of some after-effects that I'd not been "tuned into". One of these is I find it harder to follow sub-titles on foreign films. It is as if I don't have enough time.

My wife thinks some of my problems are "in the mind". For example, although I feel giddy when walking I have never once fallen. By now, I thought my brain would have "rewired".

Compared with before my stroke, I still feel very ill. My hope is that my tiredness is linked to the giddiness and that this can be fixed.

40m WSPR

Unique 40m WSPR spots so far
As mentioned in an earlier post I went QRT on 10m and 6m and am now active with 2W to a low end-fed on 40m WSPR. I seem to be getting lots of unique spots around Europe despite the poor antenna on 40m.

UPDATE 1930z: Best DX so far on TX is a spot by RV6LCY (2876km) in LN08 square.

UPDATE 2202z:   WA9WTK (5291km) is now the best DX on 40m WSPR TX.

Amateur band intruder?

Southgate News reports that a military station, probably in the Falkland Islands has been copied within the 40m amateur band.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2017/march/iarums-stanag-4285-in-40m.htm#.WMVrIYXXLIU

Amateur VLF

VLF seems to have been busy in the amateur fraternity of late. There have been tests around 8.27, 5.17 and even 2.97kHz.

Casual listening will not bring results: long stable transmissions are needed together with very stable, narrowband reception if amateur VLF/ULF signals are to be detected. Commercial VLF signals on the other hand are very strong as most use high power and big antennas.

The photo shows DF6NM's loading coil for 5.17kHz today.

See https://sites.google.com/site/sub9khz/ .

Boring? - NOT amateur radio

This shop in our village (Burwell, Cambs, UK) recently changed hands. It is to become an estate agents and carpet shop I believe. The pub in the distance (The Crown) has been empty for years. Most things needed can be got in the village. There are several food shops, a baker, butcher, bank and dentist. If you did not have a car you could manage.

Red-legged Partridge - NOT amateur radio

In our close, we regularly see red-legged partridges. Sometimes we see one and occasionally up to three at a time.  They are good looking, introduced, birds that have well overtaken the common partridge in numbers these days. Yesterday there were a couple in our drive.

See https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/r/redleggedpartridge/

Sunspots and 10m - Sunday March 12th 2017

Solar flux is 69 today and the sun is spotless yet again. A=6 and K=2.

Although I am not expecting great things on 10m, it has a habit of throwing surprises so I shall be on 10m WSPR all day.

Activity today 10m WSPR and 6m JT65

Since breakfast, I have been on 10m WSPR (100% TX, randomised) and 6m JT65 (2W). No spots as yet on either band.

UPDATE 1202z:  Still no spots here on either 6m or 10m.

UPDATE 1540z: Still no spots on either band. Soon be time to QSY bands/mode?

UPDATE 1620z: I have given up as nothing on either band all day today. I have now QSYed to 40m WSPR (2W) although my antenna is very low on that band. For some reason my earth-electrode "antenna" did not want to match on 160m or 80m.

Buying books on the internet - NOT amateur radio

At Christmas, I bought my wife a lovely hardback book filled with colour photos called " English Cathedrals" by Simon Jenkins. I bought it at a Cambridge bookshop where it cost me £30.

The book was a great success so my wife wanted another copy for her brother's birthday. A quick check on Amazon where the very same hardback book was less than £9! It now retails at just over £20 on Amazon. We bought it at less than £9 and it came a few days later.

How can local bookshops survive? We are as guilty as anyone. We see a bargain and grab it.

It is sad as I love browsing bookshops. Maybe the long-term answer is a bit like John Lewis? Browse in stores and buy (increasingly) online? I do not see the future high streets, but the retail trade will change in the future: fewer shops and more cafes? Whoever gets this right will be king. Amazon now, but who will succeed in the years ahead?

See https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Englands-Cathedrals-Simon-Jenkins/1408706458/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1489312522&sr=8-1&keywords=english+cathedrals+simon+jenkins

11 Mar 2017

12W handheld? - no thanks!

Considering the small difference (in range) between 2W and 12W and the very real danger (allegedly) of 12W next to the head and eyes I have no wish to buy a 12W handheld.  Even working professionally on 5W pep PAs I regularly had dry eyes.

Amateur Radio Weekly reports on a Chinese 3 band 12W handheld.

E-Field Probes

Some years ago (in the days when I was fit and well) I tried these compact receive only antennas on 137kHz and higher bands. They work on the principle that S/N matters more than absolute sensitivity, especially on lower bands when external noise is the limiting factor rather than rig noise figure. I recall using an EFP mag mount on the car and driving around picking up my QRSS3 signal on 137kHz at 24km (still a decent signal even with very very low ERP from my earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.  Having great success, I gave up and came home! Just a small whip, very very low TX ERP and 137kHz.  These really work!

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/137efp .

Primroses - NOT amateur radio

Every autumn we plant primroses outside our house at the front. These give colour all through winter and look great. Apart from the occasional dead heading, they need very little attention.  We later replace these with small begonias.

Wild primroses are creamy whereas those from the garden centre are in a variety of bright colours. Perhaps these are nuked?

10m JT65 transceive

Since breakfast, I have been on 10m JT65 again (2W). As yet, no spots, but things could well change.

UPDATE 1255z:  No 10m JT65 spots today so far.

UPDATE 1832z:  Still no 10m JT65 spots all day.

Spring - NOT amateur radio

It is starting to feel a bit like spring here. On average, temperatures are milder and there are stirrings in the garden with fresh buds appearing.

Daffodils, that were late, are now everywhere. Another few weeks and it really will be spring again. When the clocks change to BST and the African migrant birds return it really will be spring.

Some people hate fields of yellow rape, although to me it is a sign of warmer days. I like to see this crop.

Sunspots and 10m - Saturday March 11th 2017

Solar flux is 70 and yet again the sun is spotless. A=12 and K=2.

6m MSK144

HB9Q (794km) was spotted before breakfast on 6m MSK144, although I have now QSYed to 10m JT65 transceive.

10 Mar 2017

Like Marmite - NOT amateur radio

It seems that the latest US president is a bit like Marmite: you either love him or hate him. The fact he was voted as president says a lot about how the people of the USA feel.

Although I like Marmite, I am afraid Mr Trump and his friends are not the sort of people I warm to. Clearly the people of the USA are fed up with politicians and are expecting great things of him. However, I fail to understand how a very rich billionaire can truly represent most in that great country.

On a personal level, I have found all the people I have met from the USA to be warm, generous and kind. I have found the same of those in Russia, Germany and most other nations. There is far more that unites us all than we think.

All I ask is that Mr Trump and his team listen to objective evidence and act on it. If all politicians in every nation did this then the world would be a better place. There is no place for egos in politics. All politicians everywhere are there to serve the people: we elect them and can easily vote them out.

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

An effective 10m antenna

At the old QTH (we moved a few years ago) I used my Homebase-10 antenna for 10m. As we are approaching the Es season when 10m springs to life with loads of Europeans, perhaps it is worth reminding readers of this low cost antenna.

It is basically a wire halo, small, and pretty omni-directional. It can be made with low cost materials, most of which you can buy at your local hardware store. In its time it has enabled me to work all over the world with QRP. It was in Practical Wireless in 2008 and is on my www.g3xbm.co.uk main site.

Despite my poor health, maybe I should try to get one up again at this QTH? I think I could make it (although not as easy as in the past) but I'd need help to get it up in place of my big-wheel. I think I could use the same small support mast. I'd probably feed it with some new RG58 coax.

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

Openreach - NOT amateur radio

If you live in the UK and get broadband you probably get your service via BT's Openreach which provides the fibre and wire backbone. We get our broadband via Virgin Media with speeds up to 100M. We rarely get downtime and, overall,  they provide a good service. In rural areas where no cable is available, broadband speeds can be very poor.

Today, BT agreed to make Openreach a separate legal entity, so the hope is the broadband services will improve for many. Openreach is still part of BT but legally separate. I'm not quite sure how this works.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39228115 .

Sunspots and 10m - Friday March 10th 2017

Solar flux is 71 today and the sunspot number remains zero. A=15 and K=4. 10m today? Anyone's guess. On the face of it not promising but 10m, like 6m, has a habit of throwing surprises!

Rallies this weekend


Whitfield Village Hall, Sandwich Road, Manley Close, Whitfield, Nr Dover CT163LY Talk in on GB3KS, doors open from 10am to 2pm, entry £2. Auction starts at 12.30pm. Aaron Coote, 2E0FQR, 0771 465 4267 or aaroncoote@hotmail.co.uk.


Grantham West Community Centre, Trent Road, Grantham, Lincs NG31 7XQ There is car parking and disabled facilities at the venue. Doors open 9am and entry is £3. There will be trade stands, special interest groups, an RSGB bookstall. Catering is available on site. Kevin Burton, G6SSN, 07793 142 483, g6ssn@btinternet.com.

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

Spring? - NOT amateur radio

It is really hard to think we are already a third of the way through March already. Time flies!

Yesterday I cut our lawns for the first time this year. It really felt like spring had come: it was mild, sunny and pleasant outside. We have had a long, damp, mild winter and I am now looking forward to lighter evenings again.

Every season has something good, but I like the spring best of all as it is filled with hope.

This morning on the air (6m MSK144 RX, 10m WSPR TX)

At the moment I am monitoring 6m MSK144 RX on 50.280MHz and on 10m WSPR TX (100%, randomised frequencies, 500mW). As yet, no spots on either band.

UPDATE 1225z: Still nothing on either band.

UPDATE 1420z: GM4UYE (507km) spotted on 6m MSK144. Aircraft?

UPDATE 1506z: Now 3 countries spotted on 6m MSK144 (F, GW and GM).

UPDATE 1812z: No further 6m spots and nothing all day on 10m here.

9 Mar 2017

University of Liverpool - NOT amateur radio

"As a graduate from the department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology you are invited to share your career insights with students at an informal careers event on Tuesday 21 March 2017, from 5pm to 7pm at the Liverpool Campus....."

From LinkedIn.

No, I actually did Honours Electronics! If I talked they might be a bit confused.

OFCOM - more space for wi-fi at 5GHz

OFCOM has announced more 5GHz spectrum for Wi-Fi.

See http://ofcom.cmail20.com/t/ViewEmail/i/DA9A0AB341F05077/59D1BD3EA2F08127C67FD2F38AC4859Chttp://ofcom.cmail20.com/t/ViewEmail/i/DA9A0AB341F05077/59D1BD3EA2F08127C67FD2F38AC4859C

Sunspots and 10m - Thursday March 9th 2017

Solar flux is 70 today and the sunspot number remains zero. A=12 and K=2.

20m JT65

I remained on 20m JT65 and am still on that band/mode presently, although I intend to QSY soon. So far just lots of European spots of my 2W. My antenna is poor (and very low) for 20m.

UPDATE 1005z: Still just European spots on 20m JT65.

8 Mar 2017

Slowly declining solar conditions

We are now on the slow slide down to the next solar minimum. Those with memories of the last minimum will remember the long spotless periods. The next could be even worse.

Luckily the slope is quite gradual and often there are days where solar activity is higher.  On better days, the higher bands support N-S DX.

As I have said before, I have worked QRP SSB real DX on 10m in periods with no sunspots. WSPR and JT65 should be even better.

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

Daffodils - NOT amateur radio

A few weeks ago we had seas of snowdrops. These are now past their best and it seems there are daffodils in flower all over the place.

There are always great shows of these at nearby Anglesey Abbey. Another 2 weeks and they will all look superb.

20m JT65

After trying on 10m JT65 and finding nothing, I QSYed to 20m JT65 for a change, still running 2W to my low end fed tri-band antenna. Plenty of spots of my 2W from around Europe plus some from the USA. As I have said before, generally I find 20m less satisfying than 10m. Spots are much easier to get on 20m, even with QRP JT65. I'll nonetheless stick with 20m JT65 for a few more hours to see how it goes.

UPDATE 1840z:  Mostly Europe plus a few USA spots so far.

Cambridge Bikes - NOT amateur radio

Cambridge is famous as a university town filled with bikes! This shot, just across the road from Trinity College, is typical.

70cm band

In my experience this is a wasted band.

It seems under-occupied most of the time, whereas in the 1980s it was well occupied and busy on FM especially. I try to go on SSB in the monthly RSGB UKAC activity contest (next Tuesday is the next one on 70cm) with my 2m halo, but otherwise I am as guilty as the rest, rarely going on the band.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/70cm_op .

Sunspots and 10m - Wednesday March 8th 2017

Solar flux is 72 today and the sunspot number remains zero.  A=16 and K=1.

As conditions are quite undisturbed, 10m may open for N-S DX later despite the low sunspot number.

I may move to 10m JT65 transceive (2W) later.

6m DX and HF noise

This morning I returned to 6m MSK144 RX.  SK0TM (1156km) has already been spotted, presumably by random MS.

This mode is amazing as it allows 6m DX irrespective of solar conditions and Es. Yes, with Es such stations are workable with a very simple TX station, but it makes 6m useful at any time, in any month, of any year.

As the solar activity quietens I can see more and more moving to VHF and seeking new challenges. Certainly here the VHF and UHF bands are relatively noise free. Here, in what was a quiet village,160m, 80m and 40m have a lot of noise these days. It must be worse in a city. In the next 10-20 years I can see the noise floor becoming an increasing limit to amateur operations: those who can overcome such issues will be at a great advantage.

UPDATE 1040z: EI7BMB (462km) has now been spotted strongly on 6m MSK144. Aircraft?

7 Mar 2017

472kHz WSPR this evening

Yet another decent evening on 472kHz WSPR RX this evening. 11 spots with best DX 1525km from Spain.

Mendelssohn's Elijah Concert - NOT amateur radio


Tickets for the 2017 West Road CCS concert in which my wife is singing (April 29th 2017, Mendelssohn's Elijah) may be obtained from Sue Allin or on the door. Click the link for Sue's address and more details.

If you are in the Cambridge area, you might enjoy this classic masterpiece.

Drains - NOT amateur radio

Today, they were clearing the crud in our drains outside our house. This was the view from our lounge just after lunch.

OFCOM update

OFCOM has just produced its latest monthly report.

See http://ofcom.cmail20.com/t/ViewEmail/i/6F434CD02AE01659/59D1BD3EA2F08127C67FD2F38AC4859C

Return to 6m MSK144 RX

After a good evening on 630m WSPR RX (Italy, Spain and Norway were the best DX spotted) using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground, I returned to 6m MSK144 RX this morning.

So far, just G3RED (91km) spotted strongly, presumably by aircraft reflection.

Sunspots and 10m - Tuesday March 7th 2017

Solar flux is 72 today. Sunspot number is again zero. A=25 and K=4.

2m UKAC tonight

A reminder that the RSGB's 2m activity contest is this evening 2000-2230z. As usual, I hope to take part with my big-wheel and 5W pep SSB. This is preceded by an hour of FM activity. Because my voice is poor, I usually stay on for 30-60 minutes, then go QRT.

See http://www.rsgbcc.org/cgi-bin/contest_rules.pl?contest=2mukac .

UPDATE 2140z:  7 squares and a few  "get-aways" tonight with 13 QSOs in just over an hour with 5W and an omni antenna. Best DX 215km.

More from Oleg about QRP Club

Another post from Oleg about a new member of the QRP Club:

Dear Club 72 members and friends,

I'm happy to inform about new Club 72 member -
# 95 - DH0DK op. Bernd
He  is  regular  visitor  (Frequenter)  of  the QRP Rendez-Vous round
Who's next?

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.

6 Mar 2017

Cellphones and brain cancer?

There has been debate for years and years about whether or not excessive use of cellphones increase the chances of getting brain cancers. I guess that prolonged use of a high power VHF or UHF handheld may pose similar risks?

According to Southgate News a judge in California has asked for a 2014 report to be made public. A quick read seems to suggest some sort of increased risk. Basically, this is all relative, but prolonged RF exposure is probably not good and is best avoided. Another argument in favour of QRP?

See https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B14R6QNkmaXuRmJlZDRWME5lN2M/view

Nearly - NOT amateur radio

This garden border, in the next street, is usually a blaze of yellow daffodils by now. Things are late this year, but another week or so and they should all be out. Nearly spring and lighter evenings again.

It started out sunny today, but the forecast is for rain later. I caught this photo before the rain came, although it has already clouded over.