Grid Watch UK

Saturday 4 December 2021

New GQRP videos released

From the recent GQRP club convention, video recordings are now available to view:

Just go to the GQRP Club YouTube channel and you should find:

* Charlie, ZL2CTM, talking about his approach to RF Construction
* Tony, G4WIF, sharing his experiences of building and using RF Test Equipment:
* Farhan, VU2ESE, talking about his latest BITX transceiver for 2m
* Steve, G0KYA, sharing his experiences of building and using the End Fed Half Wave antenna:
* Pete, N6QW, talking about building a valve (tube) transmitter in the 21st century
* John, M0JAV, sharing the latest information and answering questions about EMF Assessments:
* Steve, G0FUW, talking about getting started with surface mount devices
* Michael, G0POT, sharing his experiences of operating from hill tops
* Roy, W7EL, talking about antenna modelling using EZNEC
* Anthony, K8ZT, sharing his experiences of operating with QRP
* Alan, W2AEW, talking about a range of RF test equipment
* Bonus Session, Operating Panel with Peter, G3XJS and Carl, GW0VSW


If your not a member of the GQRP club, why now join today. From only £6 (UK) inc 4 issues of Sprat, and a just a few more shekels if you are in DX land:



Tuesday 5 October 2021

VOAPROP configuring 2021

Sunspots are getting higher! 
Band conditions are improving once again, it's time to get active!  It is nice to be able to crunch all the data and get a daily understandable, updated plot, and find out what bands may be workable, where and when, under this improving cycle.

VOAPROP is a graphical propagation presentation program, written many years ago by the late G4ILO, used in conjunction with VOACAP as its engine. It is something I have used for years, until I encountered a PC crash recently that took out my motherboard, and which I had to scrap off  the entire computer and set up a newer PC with a copy of Windows 10.  

However the new installation of VOAPROP didn't go smooth, and it made me scratch my head over a few long nights.
The first problem encountered, the software was not updating the Solar data? I know G4ILO had done some work on this around 2014 when WWV changed the solar file format. This is  logged in G4ILO's last notes about the update.
 Important notice: 
(Because of a change in the format of the WWV solar information file updates now fail with an error. Thanks to Mirek, OK1DUB a fixed version of the file has been made available. The URL in the Solar Data window must be ) 
OK1DUB runs the server that takes the newer file format, and then converts it to the old format VOAPROP can use
However the above link which the software comes packaged with now proves dead!
But the server still continues to work, and it's new link which URL I eventually found, must be pasted into the program Solar Data window is:
Second problem encountered with Windows 10. When I pasted the new URL into the software, still produced an error and was not updating the voaprop.config file? Again another few hours of late night head banging and scratching, Grrr! Eventually, I found the reason why?
This is down to a configuration setting against the program itself, and Windows 10. What you must do, is right click on the VOAPROP icon on the Windows desktop, and click Run as administrator then add the URL again to the Solar data window, and this time it will update the file, and everything will then start to work, and you will see the Solar data update.

If you also pop down to Mirak's site you will also be able to find updated ssndata.txt and beacons.txt files which you can download and update in the root of the program.

Once you have all this updated, the program will perform flawless without any problem.


My thanks must be to the late G4ILO for writing such a superb piece of software, and his family that still keep his website open



Monday 4 October 2021

Remember what it was like without it all?


Remember what it was once like without Facebook, and Instagram, and we had dial up Internet..

The dark nights are certainly back and Facebook has failed!
Time to return back to Blogging, watch this space! :-)

Saturday 13 March 2021

EMF calculator

For those in the UK worried about the new pending Ofcom ICNIRP EMF rules.

I have found an excellent EMF calculator program from the late VK3UM, infact I would say it is the best I have come across yet.

Well worth a download and a play with:


EMR calc V7.12 runs in Windows and is very easy to get up and running, allowing a variation of  most parameters you can think of.

It comes with a preset load of settings, including Freq, PWR, TX loss. Transmission type (CW, SSB, FSK etc). Antenna type Dipole, Vertical even a G5RV! 

Or you can customise it more or less to your own settings.

I have also been informed this will run ok under Linux using Wine.

Good luck!


Useful references: 

RSGB EM Field Exposure 

Ofcom Publication Date: 11 March 2021 Ofcom’s new EMF licence condition ( Draft Version) 

ICNIRP Guidelines 2020

Sunday 24 January 2021

Snow stopped Transmission.

 This Sunday morning we have had a good dumping of snow over the Midlands area..



Around 12:00 GMT as I write this, my VHF/UHF array of antennas strapped to the side of the house are well plastered with the white stuff.  

Outside Temperature is Zero Centigrade.

Sunday 10 January 2021

Armbian Linux for Arm processors and Android TV Boxes.

It's always interesting when I write, to see what feedback or help is out there. I encourage you all to write back your thoughts in the comments below.

The recent blog about Linux Mint 20.1 created a stir on, where my scribbles are relayed over and duplicated. Paul VA3ZC got in touch, and said "Have you tried Armbian? Linux for ARM devices".

So a quick trip down to the link  Reveals a good download area for hardware which you may like to try it out on. Although the Raspberry Pi is not listed, surely it can't be long before something is ported over.

 I know recently Ubuntu Linux has been ported for the Raspberry Pi. But are there cheaper methods of playing around with Linux and using it to advantage our hobby?

Paul mentioned he uses  an old Android TV Box. I have one of these which I use coupled up to my main TV for watching Youtube on.


             This is mine I snatched out from under the TV for demo purposes. 

The advantage of the Android TV box they are cheap! A mini computer all self contained inside a little box. Normally they include a power supply, simple remote, and work straight away out of the box when you plug them into your TV, booting from their internal Android firmware. They are also very simple to get running with Linux (in most cases). Adding a keyboard and mouse, blow the Linux firmware on to an SD card, and  away you go (In theory anyway).



  As you can see from the above two photo's good connectivity is included.

If you would like a little play around with Linux they have got to be an excellent starting point, and if you don't like it or get get fed up, brick it, or just end up throwing it into the corner of the shack, you haven't lost much.

You buy them from the likes of ebay, just type in Android TVBOX. You need to check first that the processor type is supported before you buy. Here is an example at around £20 UK:

As well as the Armbian website support there are lots of videos on Youtube to a show you how to go about installing Linux.

(Depending on processor type):

Here is one I dug out, there are plenty of others, but it shows you the basics how to go about and get it running with Armbian. 

Hope that helps! 

Friday 8 January 2021

Kiwi online SDR G4DYA

The online G4DYA Kiwi SDR receiver is just 9 miles North of my QTH. Situated at Stone, Staffordshire. UK.

It has an excellent range of Amateur bands, and even goes down to LF 136KHz and 472KHz, it also has some good decoders built in to play around with for CW, PSK and even WSPR.

Ideal to test band conditions and your equipment.

Join in the fun here

Linux Mint 20.1 Ulyssa Xfce released.


Latest version of Linux Mint released 

I am hopeful there will be a version for Arm processors soon?

Wednesday 6 January 2021

VAT is the way we are going to collect it.

Already there are moans from buyers, "they have charged me VAT!"

ebay have now rolled into the mix, implementing the 1st January 21 VAT rules for UK buyers, and EU. As  I mentioned at the start of writing this thread, they will nail it at source at the time of purchase:

Where this leaves the likes of Aliexpress, Banggood and individual traders from China and the rest of the world not registered, I guess HMRC rules in Notice 143 will click into place?

Tuesday 5 January 2021

LCSC Electronics

LCSC has been in my Far East component suppliers list for sometime now.. I was short of a few obscure components so I thought I would give them a whirl.

Website was easy to use, ordering was very quick, straight forward and simple. A small handling charge was added if the order was below a certain value . So I just ordered more components to the list to overcome the charge, the ease of paying by Paypal gave the order some security.

Based in Shenzhen, China, the consignment took no longer than anything else you would order from the far East, and was provided with live tracking as you can see from the package dates and path below:


  • delivered - no signature----Inward MC
    2021/01/04 14:29:48
  • inward mc - handheld acceptance----Inward MC
    2021/01/03 10:31:49
  • outward rdc - handheld acceptance----Outward RDC
    2020/12/31 12:07:54
  • delivery to local courier
    2020/12/28 06:00:00
  • Departed from Facility
    2020/12/28 06:00:00
  • Arrived at Sort Facility
    2020/12/27 14:00:00
  • Custom clearance completed
    2020/12/27 08:52:00
  • Arrived at AIRPORT of Destination,clearance in process
    2020/12/26 13:08:00
  • Departed from AIRPORT of Origin
    2020/12/26 09:09:00
  • Arrive at international airport to abroad----QD
    2020/12/24 23:23:07
  • Departed Facility In processing center----Qingdao
    2020/12/23 16:05:51
  • Departed Facility in YT-BT-SZ ----YT-BT-SZ
    2020/12/22 01:29:08
  • Arrived at Sort Facility YT-BT-SZ ----YT-BT-SZ
    2020/12/21 22:46:40
  • Shipment information received


I will certainly be using them again in the future!

"Yes it got in with no added VAT or PO charges Hi! :-)"




Monday 4 January 2021

VAT we are confused, but even they are confused?

 Even companies exporting to the UK are now caught up in the confusing VAT debacle ..

The BBC are now picking up on the story:

Why wasn't a transition period put in place for all this, allowing a smooth change over?

Your confused, I am confused. Standby for the next exciting episode...

The UK VAT grab that was impossible to enforce?


Good news!!
No VAT at all on imports under a certain value.

Rules changed AGAIN a few days ago.

New Notice 143:

£0.01 to £135 No Customs Duty
No Import VAT

It was gonna be impossible to enforce the collection this end, because who and how the hell would you check all those packets?
So how could they check the VAT had been paid with Chinese, US and Rest of World goods ?
Did the UK suddenly have a Million new inspectors at the ports, or the Royal Mail was geared up ready and waiting to cope with collection, or to deal with appeals over mistakes ?

Explains why nothing happened on ebay on 1st January that adds VAT to the listings for auto collection at the time you paid..