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50.6%United States United States
25.2%United Kingdom United Kingdom
4.5%Australia Australia
3.1%Republic Of Korea Republic Of Korea
2.9%China China
2.3%Portugal Portugal
1.9%Germany Germany
0.7%France France
0.7%Canada Canada
0.7%Japan Japan

Yesterday: 4
This Week: 14
Last Week: 53
This Month: 129
Last Month: 254
Total: 41474


It's all quiet on the Sun!

Charles Wilmott
Charles Wilmott

sunLess than two weeks ago, the sun was peppered with large active regions. Now, the face of the sun is almost completely blank.

Suddenly, the sunspot number and the sun's x-ray output have dropped to their lowest levels in years. Is Solar Maximum finished? Probably not, but the ongoing quiet spell is remarkable.

Maybe you remember 2008 and 2009, years of spotlessness when the sun plunged into the deepest solar minimum in a century.

The resemblance, however, is only superficial. Deep inside the sun, the solar dynamo is still churning out knots of magnetism that should soon bob to the surface to make new sunspots. Solar Max is not finished, it’s just miniature.

IOTA 50th Anniversary Convention

Charles Wilmott
Charles Wilmott

WP 20140705 005As a final end to the trip by VK8NSB to the UK (see below blog entries). Tim M0URX, Charles M0OXO & VK8NSB attended the 50th Anniversary of the IOTA Programme in London last weekend.

It was great weekend located in Windsor, London.

We were priviliged to meet Hams from many Countries including Yuri Zaruba UA9OBA & Eugene Shelkanovtsev RZ3EC from the Russian Robinson Club, seasoned IOTA activator's Cezar-Ioan Trifu VE3LYC, Daniel Gerth DL5YWM and Bodo Fritsche DL3OCH (DF8DX). Also present were two of our JA colleagues Take Funaki JI3DST & Yoshitake Izumi JJ8DEN (KH0PR) (see photo).

You can find many photo's from the event thanks to Nigel G3TXF on this link (click here)

Thanks to all named above, it was a very memorable weekend and a fitting end to Stuie's visit to England and Wales.

Update from Last Week

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

Hello all,

Just a brief update on last weeks activities.

The boys made just over 1000 contacts in the 24 hour period on Ramsey Island using MC0SHL, not bad for a part time effort and only 100w output to a Carolina Windom. The activation was more of a visit for Stuie, VK8NSB to see where we have been and operated from - and also to show him this beautiful part of the world.

They then moved on to the farm where most of the contacts made were by Stuie using MW/VK8NSB along with a few using MC0SHL - though this number was less than 100.

It is now just over a week before we all gather down at the farm once more to celebrate the centenial of Rob's family owning and working the farm. We will be on air part time from Wednesday 16th July and hope you will join us in the celebrations by making a QSO.

SWL Comments on Cluster

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

WOW. We have never had a comment like this before.

dx summit
















If you look at the top comment a coward posing as a SWL has posted the comment "$$$$$$ Hunter". If this is because of our comments about no bureau cards then how wrong could they be.

We are not interested in your dollars, we do not want any payments from any of you for what we do. BUT if you want a card direct then we will send direct if you pay for the cost of the postage etc. If you want a card via the bureau then go on to the OQRS we use and click on the request card via bureau. This is completely free to you and costs us to send the cards DIRECT to the international bureaus.


So if the cowardly SWL would like to receive a card then please write to me via our contact page with the details of what QSO's you heard - must be at least 2 contacts that you listened to and not just use a cluster spot - with your details then I personally will ensure that Tim sends it to you direct at my own expense.

Ramsey on The Air

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

photo 1The boys arrived on the island today at 12:30 (local), and set up the station. They have been enjoying pile ups all day, and have been showing the resident wardens and the other volunteers what amateur radio is all about.

Stuie (VK8NSB) did not know he was going over to the island until they arrived at the boat slipway, then the team told him what the plans were. He has been operating and as can be seen from the photo's looks to be enjoying himself.photo 2

All logs will be uploaded to LOTW when the boys get back to the mainland. And don't for get the QSL route is via Tim M0URX.


Special News - Ramsey on the Air for 24 Hours Only

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

On Sunday morning we welcomed to the UK a friend of ours from Australia, Stuie (VK8NSB). Currently he is with Tim and Charles at Anthonys home before they head down to the farm Tuesday morning, in fact some of you may have ven worked Stuie on the air using GW/VK8NSB. I also know MC0SHL has been activated from Ants. WP 20140629 002

There is also some other news to share. On Tuesday 1st July 2014 the boys will be landing on Ramsey Island (EU-124) and staying overnight. They hope that there will be time to set up and operate from there. It will be a simple activation using a K3, KPA 500, and Carolina Windom antenna. They will also be operating from the farm from Thursday afternoon before Tim, Charles and Stuie leave to attend the IOTA convention at Windsor.

So PLEASE make sure you log the station from the correct location. We will have the logs set up for both EU-124 and from the farm but please do not be dissappointed if you have logged the wrong details!!! QSL is via Tim, M0URX, and we only accept bureau requests via his OQRS service. THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO GET A CARD VIA BUREAU DUE TO THE RSGB BUREAU RULES. ALL USUAL DIRECT QSL ROUTES ARE STILL OK.

Picture shows stuie operating from Anthonys.

Update and Weather

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

Hello all,

We have all been a little quiet recently with the weather in the UK being rather wet and windy. Many areas around the country have been suffering with the heavy rain causing flooding to the countryside and many properties. The West Coast has also been battered by strong Hurricane force winds along with high tides that has caused extensive damage to the sea fronts.

DSC 0075Down in the area of the farm, Pembrokeshire, has seen some horrendous wind, rain, and high tides. Our friends Greg and Lisa, the RSPB wardens on Ramsey Island posted some video footage of the harbour area on the island to their blog and on YouTube which just shows the power of the oceans. This photo shows the harbour when we land, click on the link to see the video and the huge difference. Rob, Charles and Ant have taken photo's of the damage and flooding in their areas which we have in a new gallery showing how ferocious the storms have been.

We would also like to wish all our friends in the USA who have had the heavy snow fall a safe recovery from their unusually strange weather. The snow fall and temperatures have been extreme with snow of unusual depths being recorded in areas where if they are lucky they get just a light dusting. Again this is unusual and has caused damage and disruption through out the Northern states.

At least not everything is doom and gloom. Rob is busy with his lambing down on the farm, Ant cannot build his HexBeams quick enough and now has his son helping him out, Tim and Charles are both getting busier with their QSL management work and the rest of us are working hard at our day jobs. We are all making plans for this coming year for trips to the farm and various conventions and radio related activities.

This year is also a special year for Rob, Jane, and Rob's brother Ian on the farm as it is 100 years since their family moved on there. A big party is being planned for the summer, with the club call being activated. We will share the fun by uploading photo's, video's and on the radio with all our friends around the world. We may even have a trip around and over to Ramsey Island for a day so again we could be on the air from there.

We are also having a visitor from "Down Under" at the end of June in the shape of Stuie, VK8NSB. He will be staying with Tim and there are plans for some of us to go to the farm for a couple of days so you may hear Stuie on the air from there (if Rob lets him!! hahahaha). Tim and Stuie will then be going up to the IOTA convention at the start of July, so if you are attending then say hello and buy them a beer or two.

Chris will be on HMS Belfast around April 25th for the AGM of the HMS Belfast group and will try to get on the radio while he is on board. He is hoping to have some time to do some photography while he is there and will post the pics on his FlickR page and some on here.

That's all for now but we will try to keep up to date with what is happening through out the year.

Sun Going to Sleep

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

As radio amateurs we all have an interest in what happens on the Sun. Whether we are interested in DXing, Contesting, or just chatting with friends it will affect all our contacts at some point. On HF the Sun Spots and Solar Indexes determine Sunspot Llanferranwhether we can make long distance (DX) contacts on the higher bands, and on the lower band the suns radiation causes absorption in the layers in the upper atmosphere so the signals are from much more local sources.

Even on the VHF/UHF bands the sun plays it's part with how far our transmitted signals travel. A Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) will send out magnetic particles that cause the Aurora's at the poles, we can then use these to bounce our signals and achieve greater distances then on a direct sky path - unless the sun has caused some form of ducting up in the upper atmosphere which - on certain bands - allow the signals to travel thousands of miles.

The BBC's Newsnight programme had a very interesting article on the sun and the possibility of us being in a Maunder Minimum period which is, to put it simply, when the "Sun goes to sleep". Just click on the highlighted words to get to the article.

Lets hope the science is wrong, and the sun is just having a quick power nap to revive itself.


New Year Shenanigans

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

Firstly lets kick off with Happy New Year to all friends and family around the world.

We have been on the air, but only on 40 and 80 meters. The wind and rain has been horendous, and sadly we have had to keep the mast luffed over for safety and to prevent damage to the antenna. We will be uploading the logs to both DSCN0265Clublog and LOTW this morning, so keep an eye out for the updates.

Plenty of food and drink was had with friends old and new joining us from the locality. Ant, Tim, and Chris did the usual late night chat and drink finally retiring around 02:45. As can be seen we do like good food imageand our wine. It is just a shame that the weather has not been too kind so our annual walk may not take place.

Again we will be back on 40m in a little while to work some more of you. Do call in and say hello.

Out of This World Photography

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

During 2013 we saw some wonderful photo's of our home planet Earth from the International Space Station - ISS - taken by Commander Chris Hadfield and other crew members. Over the past few days the BBC have put a selection of shots on the internet titled "Best Space Images of 2013" with some stunning shots.

But somewhere out there there must be a website with even better images then these, I know Commander Hadfield downloaded some wonderful shots on to his Twitter feed. Click on the italics to get to follow the links to these images and articles.

A Bit of a Do

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

Once again a group of us will be gathering at the farm to celebrate New Year and have some fun. REMEMBER THIS IS NOT THE IOTA ACTIVATION BUT OUR HQ....

We are hoping to get on the air over the period where there will be a few operators so we may be on a couple of bands at the same time. We have a 80M vertical that has only been erected once and really needs testing so if we can and Rob will allow us we may get that out and get on that band as we very rarely use it.

It will be more relaxed operating and we will be using Facebook while there so if you log in and like the page we will be uploading and adding photo's as we go along. We may even video some of the activation and upload that too.

Seasons greetings and hope to meet you on the air.

Unexpected Arrivals

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

Photo by; Jane,

1510528 10151784742571167 1710903052 nA little news from down on the farm. One of Rob's sheep looks like she has been a naughty girl and not been faithful to Rob's lambing plan - in other words she has been in with the ram too early - and has given birth to twins.

The lambing season doesn't usually start until mid January, but these two arrived yesterday. So Rob is now watching the flock for any other "loose women" and signs of early births.

QSLing Practices

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

Written by: Tim - M0URX

I have spent the last few hours preparing to send out my own QSL cards for DXCC and IOTA DXpeditions worked recently, Oh boy, I did not realise how complicated QSL managers are making things these days, $3 if you want a QSL sent here but $4 if you want it sent outside Europe, $5 if you want it sent to the Pacific, what is going on?

Some countries only accepting IRC's so long as the IRC you sent has your country name on it! What? This completely disregards all UPU postal regulations on IRCs. I decided a short time ago not to accept IRC's any more, they are just causing too many problems.

One recent DXpedition website even states that if you want a quick LoTW upload then you must send $5 by PayPal..... Ummmm EXCUSE ME SIR, but isn't that the job of a QSL manager to upload to LoTW? If he wants paying for every LoTW upload he will be MINTED!!!!!! Some of these scandals are encouraged by DX organisations and Foundations throwing money at them and accepting these shoddy practices as STANDARD. It just is not good enough is it?
My logging software uploads the whole log to LoTW in ONE quick click of the mouse! Why on earth would you charge $5 for each individual upload? Answers on a postcard please? Together with $5 of course.

DX Foundations that accept $5 for a QSL or LoTW upload as acceptable should explain their reasons for this?

I even saw this one, a QRZ.com profile for an Italian IOTA
"EU stations: send a SAE (Self Addressed Envelope) plus 5 US$ or 3 Euro or 1 valid IRC"

I have also been chasing up some non-QSL returns, and many QSL managers refuse to answer emails. WHY?

Here at United Radio QSL Bureau, I have some promises to DX'ers and DXpedition teams.
1) I will NOT charge any more than $2 for a Direct letter to send a QSL to ANYWHERE on this planet.
2) OQRS will not cost more than €2 for a Direct letter to send a QSL to ANYWHERE on this planet.
3) LoTW WILL be uploaded immediately after the DXpedition. Or at the earliest opportunity. FREE
4) Emails resulting from QSL requests WILL be answered as quickly as possible!
5) Bureau cards will be sent DIRECT to all IARU World Bureaus every 3 or 4 months. FREE

If you are planning a DXpedition, DXCC or IOTA in 2014 please contact us to provide YOU and the DX'ers that work you, with the best QSL services in the World. All mail is posted as Priority Air Mail.

United Radio QSL Bureau - Setting Standards!

The above is from Tim's blog on his website. And we here at S.H.A.R.K are getting fed up with extortionate costs put up by QSL managers around the world. These guys rare getting to be the equivalent of Al Capone with his extortion rackets....

What Is The Coldest Place on Earth??

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

Written By; Charles - M0OXO

lowestWhat is the coldest place on Earth? It is a high ridge in Antarctica on the East Antarctic Plateau where temperatures in several hollows can dip below minus 133.6 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 92 degrees Celsius) on a clear winter night. Scientists made the discovery while analyzing the most detailed global surface temperature maps to date, developed with data from remote sensing satellites including the new Landsat 8, a joint project of NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Researchers analyzed 32 years' worth of data from several satellite instruments. They found temperatures plummeted to record lows dozens of times in clusters of pockets near a high ridge between Dome Argus and Dome Fuji, two summits on the ice sheet known as the East Antarctic Plateau. The new record of minus 136 F (minus 93.2 C) was set Aug. 10, 2010.

That is several degrees colder than the previous low of minus 128.6 F (minus 89.2 C), set in 1983 at the Russian Vostok Research Station in East Antarctica. The coldest permanently inhabited place on Earth is northeastern Siberia, where temperatures in the towns of Verkhoyansk and Oimekon dropped to a bone-chilling 90 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (minus 67.8 C) in 1892 and 1933, respectively.