Welcome to my amateur radio and electronics Blog. My name is Carl and I live between Northwood and Rickmansworth on the Greater London / Hertfordshire border. This new blog was started 26th December 2020 although I am in the process of transferring some of the more interesting posts from my old Blogspot pages. My main radio interests are:

* VHF to SHF DXing and contesting
* HF Dxing, digital modes and contesting (particularly RTTY contesting)
* Equipment and antenna construction, including homebrew and kits

My personal contest callsign is G2K. When contesting with ‘The Rats’ you may hear me using either our club call G3RAT or our club contest call G2D, we also have the club call M0HRF but that is used somewhat less now that we have been issued G3RAT.

Despite the fancy Icoms etc and potential to operate up to 400W on HF when the situation is appropriate I still very much enjoy operating low power low cost radio. I am a big fan of Hans Summers and his QRP Labs enterprise. You can find Hans’ website here and his QRP Labs shop here. I particularly enjoy the QCX Mini range of CW QRP transceivers owning one for each of 20m and 40m. See Hans’ QCX Mini Youtube video here.

Drowned Rats Radio Group

I am proud to be a founding member of the Drowned Rats Radio Group, if you want to know more about the Rats check out our webpage at About Us | Drowned Rats Radio Group (g3rat.com). We are VHF and above enthusiasts (although we also do some HF!), we do contesting and more. Recruiting now!

We are always looking for new members to join the team

We welcome newcomers and old-hands alike, full training is given and we have a lot of fun! If you are in the UK and would like more information including how to get involved in the weekly VHF-SHF activity contests and/or to come out with us on one of our field events please contact us on the link above or feel free to email me direct. If you’re new to VHF and above contesting in the UK check out my beginners guide here.

Newbury Rally

Enjoy rally / radio flea market this morning at the Newbury Showground.

Very hot, must have been over 30deg C by the late part of the morning. Picked up a few baragins, pictures to follow:

  • Heil Pro Set Elite headset (for Icom) with adapter cable
  • Daiwa DC7055 rotator controller, for the 6m beam and to replace an identical controller in the shack which recently went kaput!
  • Small Wonders Labs 40m QRP CW transceiver
  • QRP Labs Ultimate 3, don’t really need another and this was a bargain, think I may put this one on 630m
  • 70cm transverter
  • A massive bag of capacitors (for £1!)
  • A few vintage ARRL books
  • Mini ATU Kit
  • A fex project enclosures
  • A bag of used 18650 batteries
  • A WAB Book, mug and newsletter sub
  • DG1JAN Balun PCB

St Helena on 20m SSB

Tuning across 20m this morning and trying to work MM0PLX/P in the Shetland Islands, probably a bit close at the moment for 20m. Nevertheless, tuning across the band I was very pleased to find Peter in Jamestown, St Helena. Good copy 54 both ways.

St Helena …

Market Reef on 40m!

DXpedition 20 to 27th May 23.

Market Reef, or Märket, is a small reef with a lighthouse on the Swedish/Finnish border, just outside Åland in the Baltic sea. The border zig-zags through the island, making it a special DX entity. The OJ0 callsign prefix was issued in 1973, and has since that day been wanted in the logbooks of many DXers. At the time of writing, it currently holds the #162 on ClubLog’s DXCC most wanted list.

In May 2023 a team of four Norwegian operators will activate the entity once again, and hopefully give many operators world-wide a new (or maybe ATNO) contact with OJ0.

QMX 5-band 5W digi transceiver – ordered

Hans does it again!

Synchronised with the Dayton Hamvention I was delighted to see the annoucement of a new transceiver from QRP Labs. Ordered this morning without hesitation and looking forward to reporting on progress on the blog!
I think it will be some time before they are shipped – this will be a popular kit from QRP Labs.

Information so far:
The “QMX” (QRP Labs Mulitmode Xcvr): a feature-packed, high performance, five-band (80, 60, 40, 30, 20m) 5W multi-mode transceiver kit. , including embedded SDR receiver, 24-bit 48 ksps USB sound card, CAT control, synthesized VFO with TCXO reference. QMX transmits a SINGLE SIGNAL, it is not an SSB modulator with associated unwanted sideband and residual carrier, or intermodulation due to amplifier non-linearity. QMX outputs a pure single signal. QMX is currently only suitable for single tone FSK modes, which covers the majority of digital modes in use today (if it later supports SSB, multi-tone and phase shift digi modes will be possible). This includes everything in WSJT-X, JS8Call, some fldigi modes e.g. RTTY, Olivia and more. QMX is also suitable for on/off keyed modes such as CW because it has click-reducing RF envelope shaping; it is not suitable (until and if SSB is implemented) for phase shift keyed modes such as PSK31 or modes involving multiple concurrent tones such as WinLink.


  • 80, 60, 40, 30 and 20m
  • CW and FSK Digi modes
  • All features of QCX-mini (VFO A/B/Split, RIT, Message and frequency memories, beacon, keyer)
  • 5W output at 9V supply (can be built for 4-5W at 12-13V supply)
  • SWR bridge built in
  • Single signal transmission (zero unwanted sideband, zero residual carrier, zero intermodulation distortion)
  • Solid-state band switching and transmit/receive switching under CAT control
  • High performance embedded SDR SSB receiver with 60-70dB of unwanted sideband cancellation
  • Built-in 24-bit 48ksps USB sound card
  • Built-in USB Virtual COM Serial port for CAT control
  • Si5351A Synthesized VFO with 25MHz TCXO as standard
  • Easy to build single-board design, Professional quality 6-layer, through-hole plated, silk-screen printed PCBs
  • All SMD components factory assembled
  • Connectors: 2.1mm power barrel connector, USB B (for audio and CAT control), BNC RF input/output
  • Built-in test signal generator and testing tools
  • Switched mode regulators
  • Receive current 80mA, Transmit current 1.0-1.1A for 5W output with 9V supply (around 0.7A for 5W with 12V supply).
  • Optional aluminium extruded cut/drilled/laser-etched black anodized enclosure

After my success with the Ultimate 2 and 3, QCX Plus, QCX Classic and QCX Mini, and QDX, I am excited!

Info here: http://qrp-labs.com/qmx

Order: http://shop.qrp-labs.com/qmx?search=qmx

Yaesu System Fusion – first time user!

The HF bands have been pretty dire so I thought I’d fire up the old FT991 and see if I could get anywhere with Yaesu System Fusion, I’ve tried before with only limited sucess. The limitation was that whilst I could seem to work folks on the local repeater using CTFM I couldn’t manage to connect to the WIRES-X network. Apart from this my only other success on CTFM was a direct QSO with my old friend Dave G8LZE, who is new very sadly SK, Dave lived less than 1Km from my QTH.

Pulling my hair out with frustration unable to connect to WIRES-X I resorted to a google search. Very quikcly I found a helpful YouTube video by Jonathan Creaser, M0XXJ. According to Jonathan’s advice the Squelch (SQL) on the FT991 needs to be set at ’20’, don’t ask me why!

Still learning the ropes but good to have digital QSO with New Aealand and USA today.

I’ve loaded up a few node ID onto the 991 including: CQ-UK, Southern Fusion, NWFG and Z-AUCKLANDLINK.

Brazil on 6m … SpE is here!

Apart from the occassional FT8 QSO with European station I’ve been a bit slow off the mark this year with regards 6m and Sporadic E. This afternoon I noticed that Brazilian stations were being spotted by UK stations on 50.313. Neither the 5 ele YU7EF beam or the Moxon are up at the moment, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I had a go with my 80m EFHW (which I only put up last week to see how it compares with my G7FEK inverted L for 80m). Imagine my surprise when not only was I heard by at least 4 stations in the Sao Paulo area, I actually completed a QSO with one of them. Well, blow me down!

Maps from PSK Reporter

Fun in the UKEI CW Contest

287 QSO in the UK/EI DX CW contest, not bad for a CW rookie.

Most QSOs made on 40m and 20m with a smattering on the other bands. Not many G or EI stations worked (67, so just under 25%) which will mean low multipliers but I guess inter-G (and EI) conditions have been far from ideal. A couple of QSO including PV2K Brazil on 10m rounded things off Sunday lunchtime. The most frustrating thing was the Swiss contest running at the same time (with different exchanges!), a number (most) HB9 stations were not willing to work stations in the EU/EI contest.

QSO totals with DXCC in brackets:

80m: 38 (18)
40m: 128 (28)
20m: 91 (29)
15m: 20 (13)
10m: 9 (9)


Sporadic E season is back!

After the frankly terrible conditions on the lower HF bands over the last few days (with the Kp Index reaching 8 yesterday), it was good to see 6m (50MHz)open for Sporadic E propagation. Nothing spectucular worked but it is good to have the following in the log: Spain, Portugal, Italy, Andorra, France, Germany, Poland and Lithuanina – admitedly all with FT8 – nothing heard on USB. I did see some UK stations working South Africa, Brazil, Chile and Argentina, no such luck here on the Moxon at just 4m height but it’s still a good start to ‘the season’ 🙂