Amateur Radio Blog

7 June 2024

We have been doing FT8 for a couple of weeks. That's more than enough. :) After careful consideration, we decided to keep going in the hobby but to move back to doing voice contacts. If anyone has issues with our voice they can just F**k right off. (In reality we will simply retune). So far this month we have worked four stations using voice on SSB, all in the last few days. (If you don't know what SSB is, don't worry. It's a technical way of making a signal narrower to take up less space on the bands.)

21 May 2024

We have been playing with the FT8 mode on the radio. This is where the radio is connected to a computer and the software on the computer makes the contact. It is in essence a computer interfacing thing where the link is done via radio. The computers share a signal report and then say cheerio. (It's actually more boring than it sounds). The thing about this is that even when band conditions are bad, like they usually are these days, you can do quite well with a low power signal. At present (0930, Tueday 21 May) We are being heard accross Europe, Scandinavia, the East coast of the USA / Canada and in Central America (Belize & Costa Rica)

2 May 2024

Have been looking at learning morse code and using it on the air. Been thinking it might be a good substitute for actually talking on air, which we are finding increasingly difficult. Been listening to some morse on air and thinking- No way. The folks that use morse must be like robots with some kind of guru level of focus. Zen and the dits and dahs! Theres no way we would be able to copy that stream os dots and dashes. Maybe we could use the computer, but that would feel like cheating. Best to do something right or not at all. Just keep plodding along using voice when we can. It's not like we get a lot of grief.

29 April 2024

Tommorow night is Beltane AKA May Eve. QRT April is all but done. I made about forty contacts in a month when I was not planning to make any at all. One was even on 2 metres. Still not happy with my voice on the air, so I'm looking at alternatives. FT8 was not very exciting, so I think maybe CW (Using morse code) is the way forward. With that in mind I am doing Morse May where in the coming month I am intending to revise the characters and try to get to grips with copying transmitted code. From there I may get a morse key and try having a QSO (conversation). Or I may struggle, get cheesed off and say Fook that!

20 April 2024

Had a quick QSO on 40m in the week with a friend from the local radio club. Also today was speaking to another localish person on 2m, Calum AKA the DX Commander who does a lot of stuff on You-Tube including his regular friday morning live streams. I'm still going on air, which is good. Confidence is shot to bits some days, but you just make the best of the good ones.

11 April 2024

Spent some time on the radio this afternoon. Worked a half dozen stations on the 20m band. Strangely all were in Spain or Italy. I was using QRP for the fun of it. That means that I was using 10 Watts of power. Our radio can do 100 Watts and our licence allows us to use up to 1000 Watts on some bands.

10 April 2024

Halfway through our second week of QRT (Off air / closed down). Finding plenty of other things to occupy our time, including working through a tome on mastering the Turbo PASCAL language. The Borland Trurbo PASCAL is a bit old hat these days, but the excellent Free PASCAL is avaiable on various platforms. We have been working through the book reading a few pages at a time and typing in the example programs. Been spending more time on our exercise bike too.

Probably will go back on the air at some time, but it wont be like before- more likely just using it on occasion. I wont be going back to using it daily. Making contacts doesn't always outweigh the stress of picking up the mic and speaking into the dammned thing. Tempted just to take the antennas down and be done with it, but would probably end up putting them back up in the future. Besides, I have been making a weekly recording on 40m to help a friend pinpoint malicious interfence.

On a more positive note, interesting to see that Radio Four is still broadcasting on Long Wave here in Great Britain. Our understanding was that it was supposed to closedown in March. Was also feeling a bit nostalgic the other day thinking about how you used to hear test transmissions for new stations. Sadly that's a thing of the past now with so many stations faking it now on Digital. I wonder where my recordings of Q96 starting up in the now city of Paisley. "Quality from Paisley..... Q96!"

5 April 2024

This is the end of our first week of being QRT. (Not on air) Have we missed it. A little yes, but is that because we actually want to go on air or just out of habit and needing to find something new to do with our time? There was a couple of times when listening that we nearly answered a call. We have been listening, but it has been pretty boring. When you are not active, the whole thing seems a bit silly, little code names and signal reports. Amateur Radio is definitely a participation thing. It isn't just radio that I have lost interest in though, it is most things which I normally enjoy. Hopefully when this depression passes we can resume a more positive outlook and maybe get a few more stations in the log. Was a shame going off air when the World Autism Day stations were on. Would have been nice to have contacted them.

2 April 2024

Having a sort of break from Amateur Radio this month. Sort of, because we are still listening, but not engaging. Various reasons, including being generally cheesed off. Hoping this break will bring back some enthusiasm for the hobby and prove or disprove the following - Are we doing Amateur Radio because
(1) We want to,
(2) becuase we feel obliged to (Kindness of others) or
(3) just have got into a habit and need something more interesting to occupy our time..

13 March 2024

I have been reasonably active on 40 metres and 20 meters over the last few months. Getting a few more names and previous acquaintances in the log. I have not been on 2 metres much. I had a couple of QSOs with local operators in January, but in general there's not much on that band here in the West Midlands.

10 metres has apparently had a good season, but it is not a band I can use well from home due to lack of a suitable antenna. Last year I had an interesting setup involving a mag mounted whip and a biscuit tin. A similar arrangement to CBers of old which gave me stunning results into south and east Europe. Somehow the biscuit tin had perfect radials and was doing a brilliant job. I threw the biscuit tin away in the late summer when I had decided to leave the hobby.

Sadly, even with a similar sized Biscuit tin I have been unable to recreate the magic that got me started on the hf bands. Obviously I didn't leave the hobby, thanks to support and encouragement from friends in the local club. Where I do well is when mobile in our Camper Van. From the north west highlands I have had contacts in the USA, Canada, Puerto Rico and Israel. Same mag mounted antenna but a big van as a ground plane. We were due to go on holiday recently but have not been able to due to health problems.

10 January 2024

Another year. Just when I was getting used to writing 2023! :) March the third of this year will see me completing my third year in the hobby. It is thanks to the support, encouragement and kindness of members of the local radio club and my better half Andrew that I continue in the hobby. In autumn of last year I had made up my mind to give up the hobby.

Having the FT-950 has made a difference. It is great to be able to put a clean and strong signal out that people are able to hear. My on air confidence is not too bad just now, but goes up and down. Just like other aspects of my life. Mind you, I did not do too bad this morming, took the car out for a little drive.

I have been making short QSOs, SOTA, POTA, Flora and Fauna, Awards and Specials etc. For the most part avoiding extended conversations for now. I have had a couple of 'ragchews' in the last week, as chatty conversations are known. Both of those were with people I have known from before.

The bottom line? I'm still doing it, still enjoying the hobby. I hate the sound of my voice, but I don't have a spare, so I just have to keep on going. When someone says anything negative, I just add them to my blacklist. :)

22 December 2023

Not my favourite time of year. Very little enthusiasm for things just now. Doing a little bit of Radio, a few voice contacts in the last week. Have option of making FT8 contacts, but haven't been interested much in that either. Going mobile next week on 10m and maybe 2m, but does anybody use 2m any more?

22 November 2023

I cant believe it has been over a month since I posted here. A lot of Radio has happened. The most exciting is that I have been gifted a superb radio from friends in the local amateur radio club. The set, a Yaesu FT-950 is an absolute belter of a radio. I am now able to run up to 100 Watts on my transmissions, but am finding 30 - 50 Watts seems to work nicely. It is great to have a bit more in reserve.

I have become increasingly active on 40m and 20m from my QTH (Home location) 10m too, but that has been more interesting mobile. Confidence has continued to grow and I have even been known to call CQ (Who is there, come and speak to me) on a few occasions.

At the beginning of the month I spent a week in Scotland with my other half Andrew. A lot of the time I had the 10m radio on and made a few distant contacts from the Scottish Highlands including Israel, Barbados, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and the USA. This is thirty watts into a mag-mount antenna on top of a van. Amazes me every time. There was a couple of days when I never put the radio on because of a power failure in the camper, but still had a few nice contacts.

29 September 2023

I met the goal I set myself on holiday. I had decided that if I had one or more contacts while up in the highlands, I would continue in the Amateur Radio Hobby. I have put up a 10m Delta Loop which seems to work well. Got into European Russia yesterday and had a 57 (Pretty Good) signal report. I have ordered some coaxial cable to get a friend's 20m / 40m dipole up again. I had used Satellite cable before, so hopefully the proper cable will be better. Especially as I will be using QRP.

25 September 2023

Took the 2m and 10m radios with us on holiday to north-west Scotland. Despite having 2m on every day monitoring the calling channel, there was nothing to hear. Last thing heard was a week past saturday from a special event call sign at an airfield near Newark. Then there was nothing until yesterday afternoon when we heard someone in Wolverhampton giving a radio check.

10m was a bit up and down. A couple of days it was quite busy with an opening to South America. We heard Brasilian and Argentinian stations. We did manage a QSO with a chap in Spain, but making only one contact in a whole week was disapointing. One of the guys from the local radio club aranged via whats-app to call each other, but neither of us could hear the other. Thank goodness there was plenty of other things to do, including a lot of wild swimming.

12 September 2023

We managed to get the 10m antenna set up properly. It works fine on a vehicle, but is pants on the roof on an upside down baking tray with radials. It seems like the setup with the little biscuit tin earlier on the year was just lucky. Maybe it was because the biscuit tin was round and the baking tray is rectangle in shape. I don't know. At least it will be good when we go mobile in the camper van.

New entry on homebrew page.

6 September 2023

Continuing with Amateur Radio. The pain goes on LOL. Been monitoring 2m and have had a few conversations, mostly 'radio checks' - where someone has came on the calling frequency and asked if someone could give them an idea of how well their radio is working. Guy from Nuneaton might as well have been shouting in the window, fantastic signal. We gave a guy from Tamworth 57, but explained that We don't usually do well in that direction, so his signal is probably better than we were reporting.

We have logged a couple of stations. Only focussing on 2m and 10m Bands just now. Well, 2m really because 10m antenna needs setting up for some reason, the vSWR is all over the place. Cable and mount check out fine, so it looks like the length of the whip needs adjusted. Will probably sort that out tomorrow using our car as a ground plane. New entry on homebrew page too.

3 September 2023

New entry on Radio Log. Yes, I actually went on the air and spoke to someone. In fact I actually answered their CQ call. Pretty cool huh?

1 September 2023

New home brewing blog added. Click on link above.

21 August 2023

Got back into doing some Radio at the Weekend. Worked seven lighthouses or lightships in the UK and Begium. Doesn't seem much for several hours, but many of those stations were working pile-ups and it took a while for my QRP (low power) station to be heard. Each station was hard work and took on average between twenty and thirty minutes. Call that three and a half hours, then add the ones that never heard or acknowledged me. I must have spent four or five hours on the Radio over the two days. Frustrating at times, but generally good fun. Waiting for a cable to arrive so I can experiment with a digital mode called FT8. This is one where the computers do the talking.

15 August 2023

Still doing a bit of radio, but mostly have it on a back burner for now. Monitoring 2m club and calling channels most days but I will only respond (maybe) to calls from people I know at this time. Spending more time with computers at the moment, at least I don't have to speak to them.

A couple of months ago I got my old Vic 20 out of a box where it has been literally forgotten for nearly 20 years since I bought it in the early noughties. After rediscovering it I have given it a good clean and set it up in my bedroom. I have spent a fair bit of money on it since then. I bought a few manuals, Commodore BASIC is very unusual and quite tricky without a reference.

I also bought a memory expansion bringing the computers RAM from 5k up to 35k. A 600 percent increase! The most expensive and useful thing I bought is called an SD2IEC. This allows use of a modern SD card for the storing and retrieval of software. This appears as a floppy disc drive to the computer, and can be considered as a floppy disc emulator.

28 July 2023

A better day on the radio yesterday. Worked five stations on three bands including 2m. Italy (Sardinia), France, Netherlands and two English stations in Polesworth and Selly Oak. Trying to stay positive and keep on with the hobby. QRP sucks. There, I said it.

27 July 2023

Seriously considered putting my radios away and taking down the antennas last night. Really had just about convinced myself that I was wasting my time in the hobby. First thing this morning I managed a contact with someone in Italy, got a poor signal report but he heard me and I heard him. The part of me that wants to stop the hobby is definitely not the part of me that enjoys it. No sense in dismantling the station, the radios do no harm sitting there whether we are using them or not. And for the most part, they are switched on.

Atmospheric conditions continue to be pants. I did manage a 41 signal report from Italy but that was after giving my call sign about five times. At least he never gave me 59 (Full strength, clear audio). Working QRP is great fun when the conditions are good, but when the conditions are poor working QRP is pretty disheartening. Later in the year I am going to try and get some kind of amlifier for hf. I think a bit more power would be a big boost to my station. The 10 Watts of power we are using is one fortieth of the 400 Watts that our licence allows!

The big hang up continues to be my stupid voice. That is where my lack of confidence comes from. If I was making regular contacts on a daily basis things would not be so bad and I could build up some confidence again. But I'm only managing a couple of contacts a day if I am lucky. Even then I have to force myself to key the mic. Sometimes I cant even press the button.

26 July 2023

Band conditions on Shortwave continue to be awful. Even on half decent days I am struggling to make contacts with my pathetic power level. QRP? More like QRPointless. Been listening on 2m this morning, but the local moron who just abuses and swears at people is on and being a complete dickhead so I turned it off.

I'm not sure if there's much future for me doing this radio stuff. I can see how it could be a lot of fun, but I'm increasingly less patient. What's the point of calling stations repeatedly who can't hear me. I don't feel especially confident about speaking on air either, maybe its time to call it a day.

18 July 2023

Back on HF (Shortwave) bands again thanks to Andy who bought us a little software based QRP (Low Power) HF radio which is surprisingly good and will serve us well until such times as we can get the other one sorted out. When I say back on HF, I mean that we have the capability again, its not like we are actually keying the microphone and talking to people. We have been anxious about speaking on air again. At the moment we are largely QRT (Off air) but will speak on 2m, to people we already know. Our confidence may grow in time, and we may get back on the air properly, but we have been struggling mentally the last few weeks, so it's not unexpected.

7 July 2023

After a week or two of wondering whether to continue in the Radio Hobby. We are still here, still doing bits of Radio here and there. Mostly on 2m and 10m bands. Having difficulties with other hf bands at present. We did get as far as starting to take the antenna's down. Fortunately we started with the one that we are using least at the moment and it's a ten minute job to put it back up. Had considered calling out on 10m this morning, but once you get parked in front of the radio, it makes you think twice.

3 July 2023

We are getting increasingly frustrated with hf operating. Being QRP (Low Power) already puts us at a disadvantage, but nature has conspired on a near daily basis (Via solar activity upsetting the atmosphere and movement of rado signals) to make the hf bands unusable at times. I will persist, I have set up my AnyTone AT-5555N which has two and a half times the power output of my usual radio, the ic 703. The AnyTone is a ten metres only radio. (Okay it does 11m too, but why would you.). Using an antenna matching unit I have got the AnyTone to work well with my Delta Loop. So lets see what this week brings.

Only a week ago last night I spoke to my other half about giving up the hobby. Andrew said that if I stuck with it he would buy me an FTDX101D, a very nice radio. Nah, he didn't really, what he actually said was "You're bloody well not, you worked hard to get this far." I would be a lot more happy if it wasn't for my voice. But I suppose I only have one and if I want to keep going in the hobby I better just keep using it. Just pisses me off when I make a contact, he looks up my call sign on and says, are you sure you have the right call sign, this is a woman's page. I sometimes feel like saying "No mate, I'm too stupid to remember my own call sign so I just use random ones." In fairness though, when I point out the error most folks are cool about it.

16 June 2023

Atmospheric conditions have not been great over the last few weeks. There seems to be stuff coming from the sun nearly ever other day. As a result there has been not much going on in the hf bands. Some of us have been having a go on 2m lately. It's not been so bad on there recently as the idiot who was causing hassle seems to have gone quiet. Would be nice to get some more European contacts though. At the time of typing this I am trying to call as station in Assisi Italy, but he's just not hearing me.

16 June 2023

A whole month nearly between entries. Well the last few weeks have kind of sucked. Mostly head stuff. On a positive note, we have got onto the 40m band using a borrowed dipole that is trapped for 20m and 40m. Still making occasional contacts, but every one is a strain just now, our confidence is in our boots. Just got to keep pushing forward and doing stuff. 40m has been quite nice and last week we had a couple of really nice conversations.

16 May 2023

It has not been the best of times in terms of mental health. We have managed to keep on keeping on though. Radio has not been great recently, been many times when conditions on the bands were poor and there was not a lot of stations on. Other times it was busy with contest stations which we don't usually contact. We missed the distraction that it provides. Conditions are supposed to be good today, but so far nothing heard. We shall see.

On non radio stuff. We have got a new Bass and amplifier. It was a cheap as chips Glarry Bass, but it sounds pretty decent. Real Bass players with You Tube videos have said the same. Time to dig out the books and learn it properly. The Amp, a Laney Linebacker 30, was a lucky find in a local charity shop.

Had a nice zoom meeting last night with the guys from the radio club.

05 May 2023

Had a great zoom meeting / play on hf with the guys from the local radio club last night. With their help (Asking the station to listen for me) I managed to have a contact with a station in Brasil, 8000+ miles away. Later on I also got into Alabama in the USA. Several other European contacts too. Conditions were really good on 20m. The chat on the Zoom meeting was also good fun.

Did I mention I run a low power - 10 Watt station? This is known as a QRP station in the hobby. I am licenced for 40 times that amount of power, 400 Watts. It is astounding what you can do with just 10 Watts. There are people using even less. The Magic of Radio.

29 April 2023

Conditions on the two hf bands I use, 20m and 10m have not been great this week. Today seems to be pretty bad again. at 1030UTC I am hearing nothing on either band. I heard a few stations on 20m earlier and had a contact with one of the Italian special event stations celebrating 100 years of their air force. I have been collecting these for an award and have 'worked' ten of them so far.

This afternoon there is a special event up and down the country called "145 Alive". The idea is to get more people using 2m again. Here in north Birmingham the 2m band is blighted by a couple of morons who come on just to irritate and abuse folks. That is one of the main reasons I don't use 2m. I do put it on if I get a Sota alert, but that is about all. The local net used to be good with the MARS radio club, but they do that on Zoom now, which is much better.

22 April 2023

Being an amateur radio operator is great fun, but on the days when conditions are poor you can end up just calling into the void. This week conditions are not great, though some days were better than others. I managed five contacts on Monday, but have had less than that since then. Heard nothing yet this morning, maybe the conditions will improve as the day progresses.

I'm getting back into another of my pastimes, playing Bass. I have no musical talent whatsoever, but I can play simple riffs. It sounds good and is fun. I'm looking at getting another Bass soon, so I think todays mission will be to dig out my old bass amp and see how it is doing.

22 April 2023

This week I built my delta loop antenna. I hadn't realised at the time but I had actually put it up on World Amateur Radio day. It has made a big difference to my radio experience and I have worked a couple of dozen stations since putting it up on Tuesday. I now have access to the 20m band. With an external tuner I should have access to even more bands. Loving the hobby. Being an amateur radio operator is awesome.

11 April 2023

A new week and time to try and be more positive about things. Conditions on 10m are 'Fair', (See black box above) which with my current setup equates to poor. I can do well on 10m, surprisingly so, but my wee mag mount antenna only performs well when conditions are 'Good'. I will keep the radio on today and see how it goes. It may improve as we move further away from the most recent aurorae alerts.

I am further along in the process of designing and building my delta loop antenna. Hopefully that will make a difference. Andy has bought me a Balun and I will be hopefully picking up some generic (Satellite?) coax at the weekend for a twin coax feed. There has been a drum of it sitting in a local charity shop for ages. Some time next week I shall build the beast.

5 April 2023

The last few days have been pretty rubbish for me on the 10m band. I have not heard many stations at all and have not been able to make a contact with any of them. It could be conditions, but other folks seem to be doing okay. I'm wondering if I have a problem with my equipment. According to the meters, the radio appears to be working okay and very good VSWR indicates that the antenna is okay. Maybe it is just the conditions, there has been a few recent alerts for Aurorae, which really messes things up. Just feeling a bit jaded.

On a more positive note my insulators and rope arrived for the new 'Delta Loop' antenna that I am probably going to build.

1 April 2023

Despite the date, no joke. I got my full UK Radio Amateur licence this morning. My new call sign is M0DID - Mike Zero Delta India Delta.

31 March 2023

Last night I took my Radio Amateur full exam. It was really challenging, but I managed tp pass it. In a few days I will have my new licence which is the top tier of the UK licencing system and also recognised by CEPT countries. (Most of Europe) I have been given a new to me Radio from a friend in the local radio club. It is an Icom IC-703 which covers the HF (Shortwave) bands as well as the 6m band.

28 March 2023

I've not done much Radio in the last week. On the days that I tried the band was either flat or dominated by contest stations. I have been hitting the books though, I have my full licence exam on Thursday 30th. Had a nice Zoom meeting with the local radio club guys a few nights ago.

I learned yesterday that the BBC are killing off Radio 4's Long Wave service in the near future. I think this is a real shame, but for technical reasons (Lack of spares) the main transmitter for R4 LW at Droitwich was already on borrowed time.

I am heartened to hear that the Shipping Forecast will be continuing on the VHF service of Radio 4. This is a national institution in the truest meaning of the word and quite possibly IMHO one of the best weather forecasts in the world. If you listen to it, it is almost poetic.

I don't like the move from analogue to digital radio. Maybe it is just me, I don't like change at the best of times. I will particularly miss the MW / MF broadcast band. As a child my dad and I built a little "Crystal Set" radio set, though it had a diode rather than an actual crystal. It was entirely powered by the strength of the received signal and did not even require a battery. It picked up strong local signals and was great fun. Kids in the future won't have the fun I did.

Maybe I'm just getting old. The fact that technology changes is a fact of life. I think there is a sinister side to all this though. Digital media will be easier for the powers that be to control and manipulate. Also it opens up a vulnerability to solar activity and coronal mass ejections. One big CME and it's all broken. I'd welcome that, I don't have faith in the digital future, especially with the rapid development of false inteligences. Paranoid? Yes, I think we all should be.

21 March 2023

Just had a week travelling in the Scottish Highlands and operating mobile on the radio. It was a great holiday as usual, but doing 10m mobile was great fun. Managed to get some surprising long distance contacts including four in the USA, one in Puerto Rico and one in Israel. Even had a contact with a scottish operator living in the part of Spain where my sister lives.

There was a strange day, I think it was on the Thursday. The 10m band was very poor and I was not even hearing European stations. Yet I could hear some in Patagonia, Brazil and the Falkland Isles. Radio is a strange hobby, but not as strange as the way the signals themselves travel, and how changable that can be.

6 March 2023

I really should have added a new blog post before now, but for the last few days I have been cornered by the black dog and the CBA monster. Today I made my first contact (Ukraine) on 10m since the 2nd March (Bulgaria). I did have a brief chat with the local guys on Saturday afternoon, but that was only for about half an hour.

Looking forward to going away for a week, so if there isn't another blog post by the weekend there wont be one for another week or two. Looking forward to doing some work on 2m and 10m from the Scottish Highlands next week. That of course depends on the sun and solar ejections, if the sun contiues the way it has been recently it will be photography of the Aurora keeping me busy instead of playing radio.

24 February 2023

Been having a lot of fun on 10m. Making contacts most afternoons. The last few days the conditions have been good, but there has been a lot of fading. This week I have added Armenia and Spain to my list of countries. Today I had a contact with a station 350Km east of Moscow, this to date is my longest distance contact. I have got back on 2m FM too, having a natter on the local net with a few friends from the local club.

17 February 2023

Well, things on 2m are still pretty poor locally with the local hooligan trying to make life miserable for all who use it. I've got to the point where I'm not switching on the 2m radio during the day at all now, I used to listen to the calling channel S20. Even at night a ragchew with the local net is no fun with the idiot shouting over us and swearing like a docker. I'm still thinking of doing something else with the pole I currently have the 2m antenna on. A good option would be to put a 2m Yagi on it and point it towards the hills of the England / Wales border. That would be nice for chasing SOTA activations.

08 February 2023

It has been a week really? Had some good fun on the 10m band. Made contacts with stations in Italy, Macedonia, Bosnia and Armenia. Last Saturday had a special event station in Russia celebrating 100 years of Civil Aviation. The Armenia station was a real surprise. That is the first intercontinental QSO that we have had.

The last week on 2m, I have only really been in the MARS net. Last night's net was going well, but ended in a storm of unpleasantness thanks to a local socially innadequate moron who delights in winding people up and abusing them verbally. I'm wondering whether to continue with 2m. If it gets much worse around here it wont be any better than CB. If I took my 2m Antenna down I could get the 10m one up a good four metres higher and get it out the shadow of the house.

01 February 2023

For the last few days. from our POV, 10m has been not so great. It might have been fine for folks with more expensive gear, certainly with a better antenna. But even the online gadgets were showing conditions on 10m as 'fair' rather than 'good'. I did not have any contacts on 10m for a couple of days. I wondered if it was conditions conspiring against me or if my equipment had thrown a wobbly. Fortunately this morning (Wednesday) I had a contact in Bulgaria and recieved a 59 signal report, so everything seems to be working. First log entry of the month added anyway. Oh, on the subject click on 'Log' at the top of this page to view my QSO Log.

Had a natter on the local net on Sunday evening. That was fun.

29 January 2023

Not too bad yesterday. Had a contact in Lithuania, a special event station celebrating 700 years of Villnius. Also had a good 25 minute chat with an amateur in the nearby town of Nuneaton. I was pleased because I had answered his CQ call and it had went well. I don't always answer such calls, it depends on how I am feeling.

I was invited by this chap to join in their Sunday lunchtime net. I did listen for a while at 1130, the start of the net. I could hear a couple of folks, both seemed a fair distance from me but had excellent signals. The chap I had spoke to yesterday was barely audible to me today.

I am pretty anxious at the idea of speaking to strangers, I was hoping the chap from yesterday might vouch for the fact that I wasn't just some obdball come along to be a nuisance. I decided not to join in. Quite disappointed with myself today.

26 January 2023

Been about a week playing with 10m now. Some days there are really strong signals and others they have to be looked for. I haven't been getting as many contacts as I had at the end of last week. I have called out for a few but either my signal is not making the journey or I am being blocked by stronger ones. I did get a 59 signal report (Good signal, good audio) from a station in Greece yesterday, so I'm not doing too bad.

22 January 2023

Yesterday (Saturday) the space-weather apps described daytime conditions on the 10m band as being fair rather than good. I did manage to hear quite a few stations but I only made contact with one of several that I called, that was another Bulgarian station- so not too shabby. I'm glad Thursday and Friday were exceptional, when I was starting out on 10m.

Many stations were working DX, two strong stations from Russia and one from Finland were asking for stations in the Americas only, mostly Nort America. There was a contest on too, so that reduced the number of possible contacts too. Maybe I should register and have a go.

Next plan is to get a pole to stick the mag mount on top of and get it above the roofline of the house. That way I may be able to get out to the west a bit too and hopefully hear / contact some stations in Ireland, Iceland and if I'm really lucky in Canada.

I have ordered a replacement copy of the RSGB (Band police, gatekeepers and book sellers) Full licence book. That should arrive in the middle of the week and I can get more into studying for my full licence again.

20 January 2023

Another fun day on the Radio. I have had contacts today in Greece, Latvia, Bulgaria and Russia. Can't believe how well this little mobile setup is doing. It is becoming very addictive. Heard a localish station (20 miles from here) talking to someone in Australia. I couldn't hear the Aussie, but there was enough change in the static to be aware of a signal 'in the background'. It seems like the same as 2m I get out very well to the east.

19 January 2023

A new experience this morning. Been playing with a 10m Radio and had a contact with a station in Lithuania. Not even a regular one but a special event one marking the centenery of the Klaipeda Revolt. (I do like my special event stations). This was a number of firsts for me : First Contact on HF (Shortwave), First Contact on 10 Metres, First Contact using SSB, First overseas contact.

To say I was well chuffed would be understating it. Been in grinning idiot mode ever since. Above all, it was a very basic mobile setup with the mag mount antenna stuck outside on a tripod. I was running 30 Watts and got a good strong 59 signal report.

15 January 2023

"Welcome to Sweden calling DXers" I have been using my fortyish years old Philips D2615 this week. Made me feel nostalgic for the good old days when the HF aka Shortwave part of the Radio spectrum was teeming with life. I miss all the European greats, Radio Sweden, Radio Berlin International, Deutche Welle et al. Even the BBC had credibility and presence back then.

Was a good day on 2m yesterday up and down the country. An event called 145 Alive, 145 Megacycles being the median frequency in the 2m Band. The gist of it was to get as many people nationally using the 2m band through a series of local 'nets'. I played my part and later on had the pleasure of a QSO (Chat) with a member of the local Radio Society who I am not normally able to because of the terrain. He was on a local beauty spot known as Barr Beacon. I also had a quick chat with another amateur I had not heard for ages. All good fun.

5 January 2023

Finished 2022 in a better frame of mind than I would normally have at this time of the year. A sense of contentment to be honest. Of course ten days in the Scottish highlands played a part in that. Weather was rubbish, but a bad day in the highlands easily trumps a good day anywhere else.

Had a chat on the radio with a couple of guys from the local club on the 2nd. That was nice. I really need to do more BOTA. (Becky on the air).

Biggest challenge this week was getting our computer to work properly, that turned out to be a file indexer which had been installed with my favourite file manager Nautilus. The indexer was resource heavy and was causing a very slow desktop and locking the computer up. I've uninstalled that and am using the default file manager Thunar. I'm sure the indexing would have been fine on a modern computer, but my 19 year old Dell did not know what had hit it.

19 DECEMBER 2022

Definitely more posive tonight. Gone on air and had a chat with local hams on their nightly 'net'. We moved onto one of the repeaters because of the group being spread over a large geographic area between Derby and Reddich. Not been on the air now for about three weeks, so it was nice.


Bit of a more positive mood today. Even tried to join in with the local radio net on 2m last night, but nobody was on. I think there was some minor sporting event on the idiot box. Might have a go tonight and see if there is anyone on. 19 for a copy, 19 for a copy! oh wait.......


Only four contacts in November. At least one was SOTA. Not feeling confident again about talking on the radio. Also there's a moron who is abusing people up and down the two metre band, so there's not much worth listening to either. Perhaps living in a cesspool like Erdington I should be more surprised there isn't more of them. Maybe it is time to knock it on the head.

On a more positive note, I've been working more on my web sites and getting to grips with CSS formatting of the pages. Managed to get a lot of unnecessary stuff out of my private site (No, not that kind of private). Going to have a go at this one next.

11 NOVEMBER 2022

Remembrance day. God bless those who gave their lives for the benefit of others, in conflict and other contexts. No greater price can a man pay than to lay down his life for the benefit of others.

7 November 2022

Just back from a week's holiday in Scotland, visiting the Kingdom of Fife, the North East and the North West. It was a challenging week, featuring my 50th Birthday, which I had been dreading. I started a new medication just before going away and did not enjoy the side effects. The weather was poor, but as I have said more than once, a bad day in the highlands is better than a good day anywhere else. Especially when you live in a shithole like the Erdington area of Birmingham. If England ever needs an enema....

Had a couple of days on the Isle of Skye. The contrast in he weather was astonishing. The first night got so windy that we had to move to a more sheltered place because the wind was rocking the camper so hard that our heads were banging off the walls. The next day was better though. Other places we stayed was in a forest near Dollar, Cuill Bay near Ballachulish, Near Tounge and Gairloch. All told it was a good week and looking forward to doing it all again at the end of December.

Hobby stuff was mainly photography, but for the first time in ages I got my telescope out and had a closer look at the three-quarter full moon. I don't have a proper mount for it though, so keeping the image in view was tricky. Didn't do any Radio, just monitoring but never heard much. I don't suppose 2m is much use in amongst the hills and mountains.

28 October 2022

Last QSO was with a fellow called Craig who was operating from local high point Barr Beacon. His report for me was 5+9, which I gave him as well, explaining that it would have been 5+9 plus, but my radio was too basic to tell me by how much it was over. Not been on the radio much this week, mostly listening. Had considered the local net once or twice, but when listening in they were discussing FT8 or antennas, so there wasn't much I would have been able to contribute. Still worth listening in and learning from.

Off to the land of GM for a week, Scotland that is. We tend to take our holidays in the 'off season' when things are quieter and the snow capped mountains are spectacularly photogenic. Taking the radios of course. Hopefully work some SOTA, but that was a disappointment last time. I'll try and make more CQ calls and add a few more contacts to the log.

21 October 2022

The Rebus book was brilliant including the shocking climax. Worked a SOTA station on Walton hill this morning, a chirpy fellow from Switzerland. Got a 5+9 signal report. Not bad considering the miserable weather. Supposed to be thunder and lightning this afternoon according to one forecast. Might have to keep an eye on that and maybe unplug the antenna JIC.

19 October 2022

Our dog Hector has been on medication for over a week now for his epilepsy and has not been having any seizures. Fingers crossed that will continue. Not had much interest in ham radio lately. I've only been turning on the radio when I receive a SOTA notification on my stupidphone, and most of them have been too far away. I'm sure I'll go back to the radio in time, my hobbies tend to go in cycles. Been doing retro computer stuff and a lot of reading. Cosying up with a new book is just the best thing to be doing on these dark nights. Halfway throught the latest Rebus book by Ian Rankin.

11 October 2022

Not been doing much lately. Our dog has been poorly and diagnosed with Epilepsy. That's really been the main focus.

02 October 2022

Yesterday I got my new pole up and as a result my 2m Antenna is now about two and a half metre's higher. Well over one wavelength. Yesterday I heard GB3VM, the repeater in Ludlow and it was a lot louder than before. Also I could connect to it. So a big difference to the west. Hopefully this will open up more Sota possibilities in the borders.

This morning I worked two sota stations, one on Bardon Hill over Loughbourgh way and Walton hill near Hagley. Both were good 5+9 signals and gave me the same signal report. Definitely an improvement then. I wonder how it will go with the local net, maybe I'll hear more stations than previous.

26 September 2022

Been away on holiday for a while hence the lack of updates. Not so much happening in the north of Scotland on 2 metres. Had hoped for a bit of Sota, but there was not much of that going on, not so much in the north anyway. I suppose it is not the best band for the terrain as VHF requires close to a line of sight. Had a nice couple of contacts while we were away though.

Spoke to a chap in Morar when we were in Glenuig on the road from Glenfinnan to Lochaline. The other interesting contact was on the way home. We were coming through Lancashire on the M6 Motorway and there was a special event station calling from the West Lancashire Railway, a narrow gauge preservation railway. Had a nice chat and another special event station for the log.

06 September 2022

Had a bit of discussion about coax with some 0f the guys on Facebook. I decided to shorten my own coax as much as possible to see if I could improve my signal any. It seemed to help as I had a SOTA contact with a chap on the Long Mynd near Church Stretton. This is the furthest I have got in that westish direction. I seemed to be doing better on the local net tonight too.

05 September 2022

I have continued succesfully with my september quest to get a log entry every day. Tried to work five SOTA stations over the last couple of days with no success. Each time I waited for them to work their pile-up and call QRZ they faded into the static. There was one station I knew of beforehand, but I could not even receive his signal with the squelch open. I have a new pole to get my antenna a bit higher. I'm also going to purchase some new coax cable.

03 September 2022

I haven't been on the local net much in the last week, for a time this was my personal barometer of my confidence etc. But what I have done recently is have a number of 1-2-1 QSOs including answering a CQ call and working another sota station. Had a good go on my FT-4XE (The handheld) the other day talking to a local station on 0.5 Watt for a couple of hours. All great fun. :)

27 August 2022

First time on the Radio for nearly a week. Had been a stressful one, but things have worked out okay. Had a SOTA contact with an amateur on Caer Caradoc Hill by Church Stretton in Shropshire. Was nice to be back on the air. Hopefully will join in with the Local Net tomorrow night. My signal was 5 and 4, not bad for the distance as I only run 25W.

25 August 2022

My new FT-4XE arrived yesterday. I'm pleased with it. I forgot what a cool little (And I mean little) radio it is. The FT-4XE (E for Europe) is actually smaller than one of those awful (Purely opinion, maybe I got a duff one) Baufeng UV-5Rs. I need to decide whether to replace the rubber duck antenna. On the one hand, these things are always a compromise and I don't use 70cms. On the other, it's a Yaesu, so one would hope that it was already a decent antenna. Regardless, the radio certainly gets out well when I hooked it up to my x50!

22 August 2022

Had another SOTA station on a few days ago. Other than that I've just been having a natter on the local club net. I ordered a new handheld radio a couple of days ago, a Yaesu FT-4XE. Hopefully it will arrive in the next day or two. I had one before and it was my first radio after getting licenced. Unfortunately it got wet. A great little radio which my other half bought for me, I was quite dissapointed at its loss.

15 August 2022

Had four one-to-one QSOs over the weekend. One was just a 'radio check', but the more interesting ones were Calum M0MCX from YouTube working mobile on Friday, M0XXT (Calum's colleague) working from Clee Hill in Shropshire on Saturday afternoon and GB1WGG, the World Woman's Gliding competion from Lutterworth. I'm getting better at picking up the mic and speaking to people. It's all good stuff.

11 August 2022

Had a natter on the Local 2m net last night. That was fun as always. Before that they were having a ZOOM meeting, but my computer was being a dick and I was unable to participate without causing audio problems for everyone else. LOL, what is it with me and audio issues?

09 August 2022

Had a few one-to-one QSOs over the last few days. Was on the local net on Saturday night. I do enjoy the net, but sometimes I feel a bit lost when it takes a long time to get back to me or when the whole discussion goes off at a tangent. Working on building my confidence though, so it is all great stuff.

03 August 2022

Had my first contact with a Summits On The Air (SOTA) station since coming back to the hobby. The remote station was on Walton Hill to the south west of Birmingham. A cross city distance of about 20 miles. It is nice to look out for these stations and give them a shout if you hear them. SOTA is a hobby which combines hillwalking and Radio. If you make enough contacts you can say the hill has been activated and claim points for the activation.

01 August 2022

Gave a 'Radio Check' to an Amateur on the 2m FM calling channel. I never caught his call sign, if it was even given. Hopefully it wasn't a pirate like the moron who is causing a fair amount of nuisance on the band. In the club / group we refer to this person as the IQ0. At some point in the last few days I have decided that I am going to study towards getting my full Amateur Radio License. Wish I had kept the books etc that I recycled at the beginning of the year.

29 July 2022

The special station GB22HQ which is operating for the duration of the Commonwealth Games has been operating on 2m. I had a QSO with the operator Kevin this morning, who gave me a good signal report, including good clear audio. Not bad at all. I gave him about 4 and 8. Nice to get my first special station logged.

27 July 2022

Got a good strong signal report on the local net this evening and was told that my audio was very clear. Perhaps the amateur who said my audio was bad a few days ago has issues with his own gear.

23 July 2022

Was enjoying a natter on the local net tonight when someone told me the audio sounded really poor. That put a damper on things. I was hoping this was not going to be a case of here we go again.

18 July 2022

I bought a new Radio today, an Anytone AT-778/UV. I had been saving for a while, but a friend found me a nearly new one for two thirds of the price of a new one. Looking forward to using it.

02 July 2022

New mic has made no difference to the FT-7800. Seems like the radio is not modulating the audio properly (Adding the sound to the signal) Have boxed it up for now and am continuing with my little Baofeng radio. It's not great, but at least I am getting a signal out and am able to take part in the local net of an evening. The FT-7800 is boxed up and waiting until I have enough money to get it repaired.

24 June 2022

Having problems with the FT-7800 that I have on loan from one of the other members of the Midland Amateur Radio Society. It seems that the audio is very poor. I have ordered another mic to see if that is what the problem is.

16 June 2022

Decided to get back on the air after a break of six months. At the beginning of the year I decided that I wasn't going to continue with the hobby. Mostly due to a lack of confidence. I got back on this afternoon and had a 20 minute QSO with respected local amateur G7LHK. He was pleased to hear me and hoped I would be on the air more frequently.