Have you worked me under GO0VQY yet?
We are a week into the Olympics now and I have already notched up over 400 contacts using the G0 special call. I haven't spent an awful lot of time on the radio and I had nearly a week off because family was staying with me. However, I have been on most days since Sunday and have had a ball of the time. It seems that the special Olympic call is still quite popular, even though there are quite a lot of UK radio amateurs using it. You normally get a pretty big pileup when you get going so any weak stations or DX will probably have a hard time getting heard. I do try and listen in between the big stations for any weaker stations but you know what its like when everyone is calling all at the same time and you can't hear anything.
Anyway, I have been hanging out on 20 m most days so listen out for me
G0VQY's Amateur Radio Blog
What's on the mind of a UK ham radio operator?
Have you worked me under GO0VQY yet?
Well it's been an extremely busy day for the Queen today, unfortunately the weather was not really on her side and absolutely poured down all day in London, what a shame since it was 29°C last weekend, well that's British weather for you.
The weather hasn't been so bad down here, we've actually had quite a bit of sunshine and only a little bit of light rain.
I didn't get onto the radio until late afternoon but it seems the GQ call is still rather desirable and even though I'm just a mere English station, I managed to generate myself a pretty decent pileup, it's such good fun, I absolutely love it, if only it was like that all the time :-).
I went on again for just half an hour this evening and after a pretty slow start managed to get quite a few people calling. I've made a couple of YouTube videos today, one of them is pretty awful which was rather annoying as you can see what it's like when you've got lots of people calling at the same time. The audio settings on my Logitech 9000 WebCam was set a little bit high so I was rather scratchy when talking, not very nice if you are listening to me with speakers turned up quite high. Anyway, after a few adjustments I've managed to cure the problem and I'm sure you will agree that the second video is much better than the first. It was nice to speak to Osama over in Kuwait. Those Kuwait stations always put in massive signals, very impressive.
We've just got seven days left to use the GQ call sign, I'm really hoping I can reach my goal 1000 contacts. As of yesterday I think I was up to about 143 EQSL received from people I've spoken to using the GQ call. That is absolutely fantastic, it's so nice to see people making use of this brilliant online QSL service. I can't imagine having to write out several hundred cards by hand, and then have to fork out the money to post them, it's just completely out of the question. I really hope that people realise that EQSL is the way to go. I've already designed a special card for when we get to use the GO callsign for the Olympic Games here in the UK. If it's as good as it has been in the last few weeks using the GQ call, then we've got a lot of fun to look forward to.
I'm afraid that this video is rather scratchy and you may actually find it difficult to listen to through loudspeakers
This video is much better, managed to make some adjustments in the audio input on the Logitech 9000 WebCam and I'm sure you would agree it is 100% better than the last video
That time of the year has come around again, today we had a pretty decent sporadic E lift on 10 m. I had various QSO's this afternoon, most of them with operators over in Germany, there were hordes of them. However, I did manage to contact a few guys around the UK, unfortunately the really localised skip didn't really last that long, it was a little bit disappointing to be quite honest. I did monitor the CB frequencies for a few minutes and I heard quite a few guys in Scotland, however I didn't hear any Scottish voices on the 10 m band. I did have one surprise however, W4SLT from South Carolina in the USA returned my call. I had decided just to use my Sirio Gain Master, after all sporadic E can often produce very large signals and you often find that there isn't big difference between using a beam and a normal straightforward vertical. Also, because signals were coming from all over the place, I didn't really want to have to continue turning the antenna everytime I started talking to someone, so the vertical performed extremely well and did the job it was designed for, receive signals from all directions. I could have made things easier for myself by switching over the beam when the station from South Carolina shelter, but I thought no, and I managed to make the QSO with him using the vertical which was quite satisfying. Anyway, enough of me waffling on, I did actually record a segment of my afternoons operation on 10 m and uploaded it to YouTube, so you can check it out below.
I thought I better put something in this here blog, been neglecting it over the last few weeks. Mind you, I haven't done as much radio in the last couple of weeks as I normally do, I've been spending a lot of time working on some of my websites, it's amazing how time flies when you are sitting in front of the computer.
Anyway, my good friend Ian, M0IAT has gone down to Cornwall for a few days for a well-deserved holiday, after all lying around on his couch is really tiring work, sorry Ian, I couldn't resist that. You might have guessed that Ian and myself are pretty good mates. Anyway, he took with him his radio and a home-made vertical antenna which he made out of a fishing pole. To be perfectly honest, I wasn't expecting to hear him, but yesterday I went on for 40 m and started putting some calls out, about 25 min later I heard the dulcet tones of young Ian down there in Cornwall. Not a particularly strong signal, about 56, but perfectly readable, it was absolutely fantastic to hear him. I put the video on and recorded our QSO so he could hear how he sounded. Funnily enough, I kept it running for about 35 min so some of the guys who I spoke after can also hear how they sound down here in Brixham.
I spoke to Ian a couple of times today on 40 m again, once in the late afternoon, and then again this evening when we had our club meeting, he was actually really strong today, a little over the 9, 40 m absolutely kicking this evening, some really strong stations from G land.
So, you can check the YouTube video out for yourself, here it is
I don't like criticising amateur radio, or amateur radio operators in anyway, but sometimes you come across a situation where you wonder what the hell you are doing participating in this hobby. Ask yourself a question, would you sit in a room with a load of people you've never met whilst everyone is screaming and shouting over each other and basically totally disrespecting everyone in the same room ? I wouldn't, that is for sure, it's no wonder that SO1MZ vacated the frequency this afternoon. I don't understand the mentality of some of the operators on amateur radio at the moment, some of them are showing little if no respect for any of their fellow operators when a DX station appears on the frequency. I know that people get excited and want to contact his stations. I'm also aware that it's not easy for some of the guys who haven't got very efficient antennas. But not having a big antenna is not an excuse for selfish and irritating behaviour on the airwaves. Remember that just because the dx station can't hear you, it doesn't mean other people can't hear you shouting, in fact your fellow Europeans will probably be receiving a huge signal from you and won't hear a damn thing when you transmit. The worst thing you can do is to continually blurt out your call sign over and over again, this will only make it difficult for everyone else to hear the station and will just slow things down.
The station from the Western Sahara was on 20 m today and the video I made only goes to show how bad things get when everybody shouts at the same time and nobody listens to what is going on. Now I'm not suggesting that I'm the best operator in the world, but please take note of how I listen to what is going on, I will wait for the DX station to finish his QSO before I announce my callsign. I will announce my callsign once to begin with, if I don't hear him coming back to somebody else I will go again, but I do not under any circumstances continue to announce my callsign over and over again.
Anyway, enjoy the video
I've been neglecting my amateur radio blog lately, hopefully as the winter comes I'll be spending a lot more time on the radio during the day from now on as as you know conditions normally close down fairly early come wintertime. The 10 m band has slowed down somewhat, I thought it was too good to be true, the last month has been absolutely fantastic, but I suppose all the things have to come to an end eventually. Having said that, I'm really hoping that things will start picking up again very soon. Been working loads of stations in the USA on 10 m, there didn't really seem much point on reporting every time I spoke to somebody in the USA, that would get a little bit boring wouldn't it?
Haven't really done much today, I did put the radio one for a little while and worked TI2CF over there in Costa Rica, must say I was rather pleased with that contact on 10 m as it is a new one for me. The conditions were absolutely perfect, as you can see by the you Tube video, it only took one shout for me to bust the pileup. But that's what it's like sometimes, occasionally the condition that absolutely perfect and I can imagine that the skip was strongest down where I am, I don't think we can say it's all down to the antenna, I'm sure there were lots of other people calling who were using even bigger antennas and more power than I am, it was just down to the conditions being absolutely perfect at that particular time.
Oh boy,how good is 10 m at the moment? it's getting better each day, some of the signals coming in are absolutely stonking, Guys using small CB verticals putting in 59+10 signals. Even when I flipped over to my sirio gave no master today, I was still receiving a 58 signal from a chap using a vertical over in the USA, he could hear me quite well on my vertical using only 10 W, this is how we love to see the 10 m band. The last time I saw signals like this on 10 m was back in the CB days before I got my amateur radio licence. I used to have an FRG 7 shortwave receiver with a small wire strung up outside, the signals from the USA and 10 m worth unbelievable, the receiver used to vibrate when these massive signals came in. We're not quite there at the moment, but if it carries on, we won't be too long before all you need is a small basic aerial and a few watts and everyone will be a will to work around the world on 10 m without any problems.
I just want to mention Basil, VA3MZB who lives a five-minute walk from Niagara Falls itself, thanks Basil for a really nice chat today on 10 m, your signal was awesome, I wish I had my video recorder on at the time, maybe next time I will record you when you will see how good you sound here.
I did however put my video on a little later on and recorded a few contacts I had, as you can see, they were pretty good.
In case it's gone unnoticed, the 10 m amateur radio band has really been kicking ass in the last few days, some truly heed signals coming in from over the pond. I myself have not experienced such big signals since I was a shortwave listeners back in the early 90s. Today, I was even working a station in the USA using my sirio gain master vertical, he was using an antron 99 and signals were pretty good.
The USA start coming in late morning to the early afternoon and normally fade out around eight or nine o'clock, I expect the bands to pick up if everything goes to plan with the sunspot cycle. At the moment, no special antennas are needed and a simple CB vertical antenna will enable you to make contact to the USA quite easily.
I made a quick YouTube video today so hopefully this will wet your whistle. Unfortunately the band was dying down somewhat as I was talking, although it did pick up a little but later on, but this will give you an idea of how strong someone signals are at the moment.
In case you are unaware, 4W6A is now active from East Timor, a small country not far from the northern coast of Australia. I heard them today on 15 m and they had a huge pileup. They were not particularly strong, about 55, I did call a few times but since they are going to be there for a few days I thought I would leave it until they are bit stronger, sure I will get to work them at some stage in the next week.
For all information on this the dx-expedition, visit their website at http://www.4w6a.com/
We've been waiting and monitoring and finally it's happened in the last few days, the 6 m band has started to open up. As you know you've got to keep a very close eye on 6 m as sometimes signals can disappear as quickly as they appear. Some of the calls started coming in from Spain and Portugal at the weekend and then on Monday we had a very good sporadic E opening into Germany, Portugal, Spain and Poland, very strong stations, 59 both ways. The propagation didn't last for a long on Monday, however it was sure fun working 6 m for the first time using my ICOM 7800 and SteppIR with 6 m add-on. There were a few stations knocking around on Tuesday but it wasn't quite as good as Monday. The guy is using the bigger antennas, i.e. five and six element beams were able to hear a couple of stations outside of Europe, unfortunately the Steppir just wasn't able to hear the stations.
Some exciting news for me, I have just purchased a five element beam for the 6 m band. The guys are coming around on Wednesday evening to put it up, it will certainly be interesting to see the difference between this five element and the Steppir which only has three elements. Watch this space as I will be reporting on its progress.
It has been fun operating with the special event call over the last couple of days. I have made a couple of videos of me operating on April 30, 2011, you can see that there was certainly a lot of interest in this call. We are allowed to use it off until May 9, I'm not sure whether I will keep using it for that long, but it is quite fun generating such huge pileups, it's not very often a "G" station can manage this.
Hey, maybe you will even hear yourself working me if you watch these videos
I was a little unsure whether or not I was going to actually go online with this special call today, however I thought "what the hell" I might as well give it a bash and see what happens. I did two sessions of operating today, a couple of hours late this afternoon, and then just less than an hour this evening. As soon as I put the callout this afternoon it was absolute bedlam, you could hardly make out anyone's callsign because there are so many people coming back to me, it was fantastic. Most people were 59+ + so unfortunately for any of the weaker stations come they really didn't have much chance of working may, I just happened to catch a few of the weaker stations in between people calling, a nice surprise was weather station in Japan return my call, wasn't expecting that.
Anyway, this afternoon I worked 168 contacts within a two hour period, this evening I did 102 contacts on 20 m. The majority of stations were calling within Europe, they were definitely the strongest and any stations outside of Europe would have really struggled to grab my attention. I think tomorrow I will definitely look a little further afield and see if we can work a few stations outside of Europe.
It's been good fun, I can now get a good idea of what it's like for some of these big DX stations when they start calling the whole of Europe goes back to them all at once.
Summertime has arrived here in the UK, well, we've had two days of warm sunny weather which equates to a good summer, I expect it will be all downhill from now. So, I was making the best of the good weather while it lasts so no radio during the day-to-day.
Worked a couple of US stations on 10 m and then that is all died down. 17 m was reasonably good, most of the signals coming from the US were fairly weak. My old mate Steve, M0BKL joined me as he often does. Unfortunately he just uses his little CB antenna which means he can only hear a very strong stations. However, he did manage to work a few of the US stations, and also 8P6HL over in Barbados he was mobile.
I must congratulate N1GKX for his exceptionally strong signal today on 17 m, completely wiping out M0BKL who is only 5 miles away. Oh well, he's got used to being second best to me on the airwaves :-) I'm going to show him how to catch carp on Sunday ;)
The weather today in Brixham was absolutely glorious, wall-to-wall sunshine and around 18°C. As much as I love my radio operating, I'm afraid that the call of the warm sunshine was too strong and I spent quite a long time outside.
I did eventually put the radio on late afternoon and got a nice surprise when I heard a few stateside stations calling. I made a YouTube video so you can hear me talking to a few guys on 10 m today.
It was a beautiful sunny Sunday with fairly warm temperatures, just getting in the mood for a nice warm summer. There was quite a lot of activity on the bands today. I didn't hear an awful lot on 10 m, there mate of them stuff on there in the morning but when I finally put the radio on mid afternoon, it was pretty flat. I started off on 17 m and spent a couple of hours there working into the states mainly. I came across YN2MG over in Nicaragua which I didn't have a problem working. After my evening meal I decided I would have a look around on 20 m, I spend most of the last two weeks on 17 m, is just been so good I haven't wanted to go anywhere else. Well, I'm beginning to wonder whether I really want to spend much time on 20 m. EL3AR was on the frequency from Liberia and he had the mother of all pileups. Well, I think it's probably the worst disciplined pileup I've ever come across, it was unbelievable and I'm really surprised I even managed to make contact with him with all the people shouting and screaming without even listening. Honestly, it seems to be going downhill rapidly, the behaviour especially on 20 m is appalling, it seems to be all for one and one for all and sod everyone else.
I was really chuffed to get my very first entry in the logbook for Papua New Guinea, there is a DXexpedition operating from down there under the callsign,P29VCX. They were working as split and giving me a very respectable 57 on my meter. I put a few calls out but didn't really work much, just a Romanian station and a couple of stations from Oman, A41NN and A41LD. I finished off the evening working into Dominica, J73CAJ, and then another Nicaraguan station, YN2ET.
All in all, not a bad day, only 25 contacts, but I do like to have a chinwag
10 m had a few good stations knocking around today. I worked a couple of Indonesian stations, YB9AY and YB1ALL. I then put a few calls out and worked JY5IB over in Jordan and a station in the Ukraine. Have been on 15 m recently so I thought I would have a look. 5N4EAM in Nigeria was absolutely romping in and gave me a very nice signal.
I then put some calls out and worked a load of Russian stations before Jeff, KF5OP/MM return my call. He was on 37 foot yacht down in the Chagos Islands. I had a really long chat with him which is what it is all about for me. It turns out that he has been sailing around the world for the last six years stopping off at various glamorous locations such as the Solomon Islands. To him for well over half an hour before condition started dying down, he's going to be in the Chagos Islands waiting for conditions before heading down towards the Madagascar area, maybe Mauritius, he's not quite sure yet. So listen out for him, really interesting guy to talk to.
I finished off my days radio on 10 m where I worked 5M2TT in Liberia, very big signal, working a split, managed to get through first shout, check my YouTube video out.
W0AAA also returned my call. Ironically, I came across his YouTube channel a few months ago and exchanged messages with him, this is before ever talking to him on the radio. He likes to combine ice fishing with amateur radio, check this video out.
Before I forget, got an e-mail from Keith, MM0KTC off in Scotland. He has just taken delivery of his 24 m radio structure tower. Like me, he made a little video of the installation, I will be sure to be keeping an eye on his progress and I'm looking forward to seeing the finished project.
I didn't get on 17 m until the early evening today. However, things seem to be buzzing and the band was pretty much open. I worked up until 9:30 PM with many stations a good 59 while others were not so strong, these guys were mostly using wire antennas.
Propagation is really fascinating, you never know what signals are going to be like on a daily basis. I normally find that if I can hear somebody, I can work them, I don't always get through with the first shout, quite often it takes me quite a long time, depends how strong their signal is and how many other people are shouting. I normally find that if they are giving me a very strong signal then my signal is strong going back.
Somebody once suggested that propagation was reciprocal, by this I mean if I am receiving a 59 signal from someone in the states, then my signal should be the same. I have found that this is certainly not the case and on many occasion where somebody has given me a 59 +20, their signal has been very weak. Obviously if this particular person is using low-power and a very basic antenna then you can't expect miracles. Having said this, I often speak to people who are using wire antennas, quite often the humble G5RV and their signals are arose strong, often over 59. The next QSO may be with someone a few hundred miles away using a directional beam antenna and they are not given me much signal at all. Work that one out? I can only put this down to propagation and how it affects signals whether you are using big powerful antennas or not. I often hear stations upcountry here in the UK working guys in the USA that I can't even hear, so just goes to show that just because publication is hitting central England, it doesn't necessarily mean amateur radio operators in South England will be able to hear the same person.
The grey line is an invisible band around the Earth that separates daylight from darkness. You often find that propagation can be very good along this line, especially just before, and just after darkness. Basically, as it's getting dark here in the UK, signals from the USA can be very strong. It can be very fascinating to watch, you may be hearing a station down in Africa that is quite weak, maybe 52, leave it an hour or two and that station is then a 59+ signal. I find the same thing happens with the Far East and Asia, sometimes the signals are a lot stronger in the morning and they are in the middle of the day. Having said this, for the last few days signals from the USA have been very strong right up until I have closed down, quite a few hours after the sun has gone down and darkness has descended on us. I don't think you can totally rely on the grey line as propagation really does its own thing and doesn't stick to what it says in the book.
There is a contest on all week so 17 m was absolutely heaving for most of the day. However, I did manage to find a spot this morning that was reasonably clear, apart from a station in the Ukraine who I know could hear me but insisted on calling CQ on the frequency for about half an hour, anyway, he gave up in the end.
I was pleased to hear JR1CFP returning my call from just outside Tokyo, very good signal of 59. I then had a nice chat with OH6TS up in Finland where there is still loads of snow. It was a bit of a battle between the radio and sitting outside in surprisingly warm temperatures today, however I settled down in front of the radio for a couple of hours after dinner and pointed the beam towards the states. I worked a shed loads of stations on the East Coast, well about 30, but that's a lot for me, I do like to talk. Actually, I did talk to a couple of guys from the West Coast, John, W7YUM from Utah gave me a shout, then Mike, WB7NHK called in from Washington state so that was nice to hear him. One nice surprise was when HK1W called in from Columbia, unfortunately he wasn't a very strong signal which made it quite difficult QSO, however it was certainly nice to hear Columbia again, especially all 17 m.
Just before switching off I couldn't resist calling in on the VU4PD DXpedition transmitting from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Not sure why he was bothering to work a split frequency and work by numbers, he didn't appear to have that much of a pileup, anyway got through pretty quickly so that was a good one to get in the logbook.
Loads of activity on 17 m today. Not going to bore you with everyone I worked, basically loads of Europeans and guys from over the pond, with a couple of exceptions, Rafi, 4X4FR from Israel dropped in to say hello, nice to hear from him, haven't heard for a few weeks. C91KHN from Mozambique called in, even though he was on the back of my beam, I could hear him quite well.
10 m was open again today, I worked five stations across the pond, four in the US, and one in Canada, most of them pretty good signals. After tuning around a bit, J3/PE1IIGM was giving me a very strong signal from Martinique so of course I couldn't resist adding another new country to my 10 m list. I then added another three countries to my 10 m operation of 2011, ZP5DBC, FM4NB and TE8X from Costa Rica.
17 m stayed open fairly late this evening. Both myself and Steve, M0BKL were working stations all over the US, although he did struggle with some of them with his vertical. All in all, it was a really good evening.
Conditions on 17 and 20 m have been extremely good again today. I started off on 17 m just before dinner time and had a nice chat with K4UUG who I have worked before. After dinner, XU7FZM from Cambodia was absolutely romping in with a good 59. I haven't worked a lot of Cambodia's stations but when conditions are good, their signals are very strong but of course the SteppIR slices through the pileup like a knife through hot butter.
I only worked one other station on 17 m today. ST2AR from the Sudan was on 18 m this afternoon, he was extremely strong, 59+, very impressive signal which is why I made a quick video. I must say that he certainly knows how to run a pileup with extreme discipline. You know what it's like? People call over each other, call when they are not being called, basically making life difficult for everyone. Anyway, it got to the stage where he ran the pileup with zero tolerance, anyone who called when they were not being called was ousted and told they would not be worked. He then started calling only North and South America, you could hear a pin drop which is very unusual, not even any Italians shout of their callsign, very good operator. Actually, he reminded me of my old English teacher, Grizzly Adams, everybody was scared of him.
I spent most of the afternoon and evening on 20 m as conditions were really very good indeed. I had some really nice QSOs with fantastic signals. A couple of nice surprises, 5X1VJ from Uganda was giving me 57. Then Craig, D2SG down in Angola called in with a good 59. Craig is actually from Scotland but is working down in Angola in the oil business. We are going to get together again shortly because he wants somebody to make a video of him operating down there, that shouldn't be difficult, I love making my videos and uploading them to YouTube.
I spent about 45 min on 20 m this evening chatting to a few guys over in the States, is really nice to see the band staying open so late now, let's hope this is a good sign of things to come. Thanks to W4ZCB, W2APF, W2AAS, KD1KT and VE3GSO for their company this evening on the band.