Friday, 14 January 2022

January's Crystal Radio DX Contest

 

The first time I was involved with a crystal radio DX contest was about 20 years ago when I built a well-performing crystal receiver for the Yahoo Crystal Radio Group's annual DX contest. It was a great learning experience and taught me much about circuit losses and how to overcome them. I originally built several sets but was unable to hear anything other than local stations until I eventually figured things out ... the system was only as good as its weakest link or links!


Fast forward to more recently when I obtained and wrote about the Heathkit CR-1 Crystal Radio, a simple but very well-designed tuner that has become popular with collectors. Using the CR-1 re-kindled my interest in the DX contest activity of years ago and when talking with two other amateurs that had an interest as well (one had also been in the earlier contests sponsored by the Alabama Crystal Radio Group), we decided to bring the contest back once again. The Facebook Crystal Radio DX Contest Group was formed last fall, a set of rules drawn up and the contest date set for the first week of January of this year. This gave interested participants plenty of time to build something they could use in the contest.

I spent all of December designing and constructing a new contest radio, hopefully one with enough selectivity to get around the 15 local flamethrowers (10-50kW S9++ signals) that plague the band for me and eventually drove me from crystal radio activities.

The new radio makes use of several 'traps' to null strong signals ... two are in the antenna line while one is loosely coupled inductively to the detector tank circuit. The two inline trap coils are wound with Litz wire on ferrite toroids (R40C1) while the third is a basket-wound Litz coil (660/46) on a 4" diameter form.


The antenna tuning stage also uses the same ferrite material but in the rod / bar form. I wound a low-end as well as a high-end coil for the tuner using the same high-count Litz as on the big trap coil. The low-end coil is wound on a bundle of three rods while the high-end coil uses a single rod.

Antenna tuner

The detector stage uses another Litz coil with this one being solenoid-wound on a 4" diameter form. Both the antenna tuner and the detector use excellent quality hi-Q ceramic insulated air variable capacitors (18-360 pfd). All components that handle RF are insulated from the plywood bases in order to reduce losses. Moving a capacitor from the plywood to the insulated standoffs makes a noticeable difference, something learned the hard way years ago but actually measured while using the new radio.

Detector stage
 

The detector also has provisions for comparing various diodes as not all diodes are created equal ... not even all diodes with the same number! When testing and comparing diodes of the same type such as the popular 1N34 germanium, every once in awhile one of them will turn out to be noticeably more sensitive than the others. In my built-in B-A-C diode test module, the hottest diode is always mounted in middle-position A, making it easy to quickly compare by switching to the left for B or to the right for C. So far the best one I have found is the vintage Russian D18 germanium diode but an old 1N34 removed years ago from a 1950s-era Heathkit has given it a good run for the money! I've still several hundreds of early germanium diodes, pulled from old diode matrix boards years ago, to test against the D18 as well as numerous Schottky diodes.

Also on board the detector module is a Selectivity Enhancement Circuit (SEC) that increases selectivity by unloading some of the diode's effect on the detector coil, similarly to tapping the diode further down the tank coil. It uses a small butterfly capacitor seen to the right of the main tuning capacitor in the photo above. I found it extremely effective when needed and is well worth the addition to a high-performance tuner.

The detector stage is followed by an impedance-matching transformer for the sound-powered headphones. This stage also houses a 50uA meter to measure diode current / signal strength levels.



 

 

The meter can be switch-bypassed to prevent needle-bounce on stronger signals. It is particularly helpful when using the traps to null a signal to the minimum level.

 

 

The three traps utilized have been very effective in eliminating what I had originally perceived as an impossible DXing situation.

Here are the daytime-power signal strengths of my 15 line-of-site blowtorch stations that, without trapping, very effectively block most sections of the band. Anything over 50uA is ear shattering and problematic, usually requiring the use of all 3 traps:

             KVRI 1600 50uA
             KRPI 1550 100uA
             CJVB 1470 40uA
             CFTE 1410 350uA
             CHMB 1320 100uA
             CJRJ 1200 400uA
             CKWX 1130 300uA
             CKST 1040 90uA
             CKNW 980 150uA
             KGMI 790 100uA
             CHMJ 730 450uA
             CBU 690 650uA
             CISL 650 200uA
             CKSP 600 100uA
             KARI 550 100uA

Overall I was very pleased and surprised at the good performance of the new radio. During the contest period I identified and logged 92 unique stations in 16 states / provinces. More than one station was logged on 9 different frequencies as the propagation varied from night to night.

Highlights of the DX Contest were hearing WHAS in Kentucky (2,007 miles), WJR in Michigan (1,970 miles), KXEL in Iowa (1,556 miles), WCCO in Minnesota (1,423 miles) and CBW-990 in Winnipeg, smack up beside local blowtorch CKNW-980! Additionally, hearing Washington state 250 watter KFLD-870 and 250 watt KWBY-940 in Oregon were great surprises.


I found the use of a spotter radio (Sony ICF-2010) to be very useful in locating signals to target and to zero-beat with an RF signal generator. The generator’s tone-modulated signal can then be tuned in and the xtal radio and antenna / detector stages optimized. 

From here, any pest signals are then tuned to and individually nulled using the traps while watching the signal meter. Antenna and detector stages are then re-tweaked before disabling the generator and listening for the desired signal. 

Often it is heard immediately following the above tuning procedures but if not, monitoring the frequency for several minutes often allows time for the weak signal to fade up to audible levels. 

Comparing programming audio with what is heard on the spotter radio will confirm hearing the correct signal as will comparing audio to the station’s own live-feed on the internet.


Due to the larger and much better antenna (inverted-L 70’ x 100’) on the crystal radio, I would often hear good audible signals on it and not on the spotter (something that I found surprising) so often times it was productive to just tune around the band on the crystal radio, tweaking stages as required.


I’m looking forward to further improvements of the tuner as well as to the next DX Contest whenever that will be scheduled ... hopefully you can join in as well!

 
CONTEST LOG (pests in red)

                    FREQ UTC    STN    LOCATION    MI      

540    3:50    CBK    Watrous, SK    764      
550    1:04    KARI    Blaine, WA    25      
560    1:30    KPQ    Wenatchee, WA    168      
570    3:45    KVI    Seattle, WA    107      
580    3:42    KIDO    Nampa, ID    492      
600    1:17    CKSP    Vancouver, BC    32      
610    4:15    KONA    Kennewick, WA    271      
620    1:22    KPOJ    Portland, OR    241      
630    3:40    CHED    Edmonton, AB    530      
630    21:10   KCIS    Edmonds, WA    87      
650    1:05    CISL    Richmond, BC    24      
660    3:30    CFFR    Calgary, AB    693      
660    21:23   KAPS    Mt. Vernon, WA    52      
670    3:25    KBOI    Boise, ID    807      
690    1:06    CBU    Vancouver, BC    19      
710    3:21    KIRO    Seattle, WA    108      
730    1:02    CHMJ    Vancouver, BC    22      
750    3:55    KXTG    Portland, OR    243      
760    4:01    WJR    Detroit, MI    1970      
770    3:17    KATL    Miles City, MT    831      
780    4:00    KKOH    Reno, NV    658      
790    1:07    KGMI    Bellingham, WA    39      
810    4:05    KGO    San Francisco, CA    786      
820    1:59    KGNW    Seattle, WA    106      
830    2:20    WCCO    Minneapolis, MN    1423      
840    4:10    CFCW    Camrose, AB    530      
840    4:00    WHAS    Louisville, KY    2007      
850    4:20    KOA    Denver, CO    1118      
850    1:12    KHHO    Seattle, WA    121      
860    3:48    CBKF    Saskatoon, SK    758      
860    1:04    KPAM    Troutdale, OR    226      
870    4:30    KFLD    Pasco, WA    266      
880    1:17    KIXI    Seattle, WA    102      
890    4:35    CJDC    Dawson Creek, BC    494      
900    4:38    CKBI    Prince Albert, SK    810      
910    4:40    CKDQ    Drumheller, AB    468      
920    4:42    KXLY    Spokane, WA    285      
930    1:50    KBAI    Bellingham, WA    37      
940    4:45    CJGX    Yorkton, SK    940      
940    0:58    KWBY    Woodburn, OR    256      
950    4:50    KJR    Seattle, WA    106      
960    4:52    CFAC    Calgary, AB    444      
970    4:55    KBUL    Billings, MT    722      
980    1:08    CKNW    New Westminster, BC    32      
990    4:58    CBW    Winnipeg, MB    1156      
1000  3:45    KOMO    Seattle, WA    105      
1010  4:59    CBR    Calgary, AB    453      
1020  0:54    KWIQ    Moses Lake, WA    216      
1030  5:06    KTWO    Casper, WY    918      
1040  1:09    CKST    Vancouver, BC    23      
1050  5:10    CJNB    N Battleford, SK    707      
1060  5:07    CKMX    Calgary, AB    441      
1070  5:10    cfax    Victoria, BC    33      
1080  0:33    KFXX    Portland, OR    232      
1090  1:40    KFNQ    Seattle, WA    109      
1100  3:55    KFAX    San Francisco, CA    779      
1110  5:15    KRPA    Oak Harbor, WA    48      
1120  0:48    KPNW    Eugene, OR    340      
1130  1:10    CKWX    Vancouver, BC    22      
1140  5:20    CHRB    High River, AB    443      
1150  5:50    CKFR    Kelowna, BC    185      
1160  5:53    KSL    Salt Lake Cty, UT    781      
1170  1:11    KPUG    Bellingham, WA    39      
1180  5:09    KOFI    Kalispell, MT    416      
1190  5:55    KEX    Portland, OR    241      
1200  1:12    CJRJ    Vancouver, BC    23      
1260  5:58    CFRN    Edmonton, AB    522      
1290  6:00    KUMA    Pendleton, OR    306      
1290  6:00    KGVO    Missoula, MT    449      
1320  1:13    CHMB    Vancouver, BC    23      
1360  6:12    KKMO    Tacoma, WA    115      
1370  4:32    KXTL    Butte, MT    535      
1380  6:16    KRKO    Everett, WA    88      
1410  1:14    CFTE    Vancouver, BC    22      
1460  1:55    KUTI    Yakima, WA    207      
1470  1:15    CJVB    Vancouver, BC    25      
1480  1:20    KBMS    Vancouver, WA    227      
1520  1:05    KKXA    Snohomish, WA    88      
1520  1:13    KQRR    Oregon City, OR    241      
1530  4:30    KFBK    Sacramento, CA    698      
1540  1:50    KXPA    Bellvue, WA    102      
1540  4:46    KXEL    Waterloo, IA    1556      
1550  1:16    KRPI    Ferndale, WA    31      
1560  1:14    KVAN    Burbank, WA    272      
1580  6:25    KGAL    Lebanon, OR    297      
1590  1:22    KLFE    Seattle, WA    91      
1600  1:00    KVRI    Blaine, WA    25      
1620  1:30    KYIZ    Renton, WA    111      
1640  6:45    KDZR    Lake Oswego, OR    239      
1660  0:56    KBRE    Merced, CA    812      
1680  1:35    KNTS    Seattle, WA    91      
1690  0:53    KFSG    Roseville, CA    705     


Wednesday, 22 December 2021

Hunting NDBs In CLE 275

 

It's holiday CLE time once again. This one is designed to take your mind from your troubles and enjoy a relaxing 10 day beacon hunt!

 
'CLE's are 'Co-ordinated  Listening Events, and NDB DXers around the world usually focus their listening time on one small slice of  the NDB spectrum but ...
 
... things are a little more challenging this time and I'll let the organizers explain it below. Please read the rules carefully and if you have any questions, feel free to ask them via e-mail or in the comments section below.

When tuning for NDBs, put your receiver in the CW mode and listen for the NDB's CW identifier, repeated every few seconds. Listen for U.S. NDB identifiers approximately 1 kHz higher or lower than the published transmitted frequency since these beacons are modulated with a 1020 Hz tone approximately.


For example, 'AA' near Fargo, ND, transmitted on 365 kHz and its upper sideband CW identifier was tuned at 366.025 kHz while its lower sideband CW ident could be tuned at 363.946 kHz. Its USB tone was actually 1025 Hz while its LSB tone was 1054 Hz.

Often, one sideband will be much stronger than the other so if you don't hear the first one, try listening on the other sideband.

Canadian NDBs normally have an USB tone only, usually very close to 400 Hz. They also have a long dash (keydown) following the CW identifier.

All NDBs heard in North America will be listed in the RNA database (updated daily) while those heard in Europe may be found in the REU database. Beacons heard outside of these regions will be found in the RWW database. These databases have recently been re-vamped and are slicker than ever before!

From CLE organizers comes the following CLE info:

 

 Hello all

Here are the final details for our holiday listening event.

Please read this carefully to avoid disappointment!

The task is to build a size 10 pyramid, with a size 10 aerial on top.

We hope you will enjoy trying this challenge, whether you are a beginner or have been an NDB listener for many years, and whether you will have a lot of time, or rather little.

 

      |

      |       

      |         Days:      Saturday 25 Dec. to Monday 3 Jan.

.   /  \       Times:    Midday - Midday, your LOCAL Time

  /      \     Frequencies:   190 - 1740 kHz

/          \   Beacons:  Normal NDBs (no UNIDs, DGPS, Navtex or Amateur)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You make your pyramid by logging beacons from 19 different radio countries of your choice as follows:

10 different NDBs from the country at the base of the pyramid

 9  NDBs from the next radio country


 8  NDBs from the third, etc.

      - -  -  all the way to:

 2  NDBs from the ninth country at the top of the pyramid.

Finally, your pyramid needs a vertical antenna on it!  That is made by logging 10 extra NDBs, each one from yet another different radio country. 

An example of a completed pyramid is given at the end of this email.

You can log the NDBs in any time sequence, of course.

 

IMPORTANT  The countries are the same ones that we always use, defined in our Radio Countries List  http://www.ndblist.info/ndbinfo/countrylist.pdf

Each USA State, each Australian State and each Canadian Province is a separate radio country.

 
* If you can't reach size 10, please still send your log. 

E.g. a size 7 would have 7 loggings for the base country, then 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2 loggings from five other different countries and, for the antenna, a single logging from each of 7 yet other different countries.

If you reach size 10, there is no need to stop there - with enough time, you could go on and try to build your pyramid bigger and higher by adding more loggings.

  E.g. For a size 12 pyramid you would need to log:
 

12 NDBs from one country  and  11, 10, 9, 8, .  to 2 loggings from10 other different countries 
 

12 extra loggings from 12 other different countries to make the antenna.

You can get a lot of help in planning your listening from the Rxx database https://rxx.classaxe.com/rww/signals

The 'Help' option explains how you can make very powerful enquiries in the Database.

 

LOGS:   We suggest that you show your loggings in pyramid order.   E.g., if you choose top-to-bottom, show each of the '1' loggings first (forming the aerial), then the '2', then the '3', then '4', '5', etc.  with just an extra blank line to separate the loggings from different radio countries. There's no need to add any text to describe the levels in your pyramid because the Harvester Software will work that out automatically.

Please include for every logging:

   #   the UTC date  ( e.g. '2021-12-25', etc. )*

   #   UTC time  (the day changes at 00:00 UTC).

   #   kHz  - the NDB's nominal, published, frequency.

   #   Call Ident.

 

Show those main log items FIRST.  Other details, such as country, location, etc., go LATER on the same line.  Do be careful that each of your NDBs really is associated with the radio country you intended.

 

*If you have made any loggings in January and also in December (by UTC time) we ask you please NOT to use the simple 'dd' date format (that can make difficulties for the good people who enter logs into the RXX database)

 

UNIDs, though not suitable for this CLE, could be shown in a SEPARATE section of your log, together with other interesting loggings that didn't fit into your pyramid.

 

Please post your 'Final' log to the List, preferably as a Plain Text email (not in an attachment) using 'CLE275' and 'FINAL' in its title.  We'll send an 'Any More Logs?' email at about 18:00 UTC on TUESDAY 4th Jan. so you can check that your log has been found OK.   Do make sure that it has arrived on the List by 09:00 UTC on WEDNESDAY 5th Jan. at the very latest.

We hope to finish making the combined results within two or three days.

 

The size of our pyramids will depend a lot on where each of us happens to be located.  If you are unlucky there, why not try listening via a suitable remote receiver that gives good NDB listening?

 You could use any one remote receiver for your loggings, stating its location and owner - with their permission if required.

 A remote listener may NOT also use another receiver, whether

 Local or remote, to obtain further loggings for a CLE.

As with all our CLEs, this is intended to be an educational and 'fun' event
- it's not a contest!

Enjoy your listening - you may find it quite addictive this time!

 

The COVID difficulties have made things really hard for most of us, but maybe a bit of pyramid-building will provide a safe and relaxing escape for a while!

Joachim and I hope you have a very Happy Christmas and many good things during 2022.

 

73

   Brian and Joachim

--------------------------------------------------------------------

From:       Brian Keyte G3SIA       ndbcle'at'ndblist.info

Location:   Surrey,  SE England     (CLE coordinator)

---------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Here is an imaginary example of a pyramid with its antenna,

maybe for a listener in British Columbia (BC).

Each B is a different Beacon:

 

                       B            GRL   1 ndb

                       B            PTR   1 ndb

                       B             AZ    1 ndb

                       B             NE    1 ndb

                       B             IA     1 ndb

                       B             NT    1 ndb

                       B             CA    1 ndb

                       B             CO    1 ndb

                       B             NC    1 ndb

                       B             ON     1 ndb

                     B  B            HWA  2 ndbs

                   B  B  B             OR     3 ndbs

                 B  B  B  B             MB    4 ndbs

               B  B  B  B  B             WA    5 ndbs

             B  B  B  B  B  B             MT    6 ndbs

           B  B  B  B  B  B  B             SK     7 ndbs

         B  B  B  B  B  B  B  B             ALS   8 ndbs

       B  B  B  B  B  B  B  B  B             BC    9 ndbs

     B  B  B  B  B  B  B  B  B  B             AB   10 ndbs

 

These listening events serve several purposes. They

• determine, worldwide, which beacons are actually in service and on-the-air so the newly-re-vamped Rxx online database can be kept up-to-date

• determine, worldwide, which beacons are out-of-service or have gone silent since the last CLE covering this range


• will indicate the state of propagation conditions at the various participant locations


• will give you an indication of how well your LF/MF receiving system is working


• give participants a fun yet challenging activity to keep their listening skills honed


Final details can be found at the NDB List website, and worldwide results, for every participant, will be posted there a few days after the event.


The NDB List Group is a great place to learn more about the 'Art of NDB DXing' or to meet other DXers in your region. There is a lot of good information available there and new members are always very welcome. As well, you can follow the results of other CLE participants from night to night as propagation is always an active topic of discussion.

You need not be an NDB List member to participate in the CLEs and all reports, no matter how small, are of much value to the organizers.

Remember - 'First-time' logs are always VERY welcome!

Reports may be sent to the NDB List Group or e-mailed to CLE co-ordinator, Brian Keyte (G3SIA), whose address appears above. If you are a member of the group, all final results will also be e-mailed and posted there.

Please ... give the CLE a try ... then let us know what NDB's can be heard from your location! Your report can then be added to the worldwide database to help keep it up-to-date.

Have fun and good hunting!


 

Saturday, 18 December 2021

Cycle 25 ... On The Move?

 

Anyone looking at the Sun this week has to be impressed with its sudden reawakening over the past few days. From its recent somewhat troubling slumber, with flux numbers in the high 70s, these values have quickly risen to a Cycle 25 high in the 120s as of early Saturday. With at least two more active regions about to rotate into view shortly, it seems as though these numbers might continue to grow.

 

 

What is interesting is the suddenness with which these groups formed as this is a keystone marker for the long awaited ‘terminator’ event … the point at which cycle growth starts to increase rapidly. Is this it or will the Sun go back to sleep as it has in the past few excursions into the 90’s? 

If this rapid increase does indeed herald the terminator's arrival, it’s a sign that Cycle 25 should be one of above average strength. Wouldn’t that be nice after Cycle 24’s weak showing over the past 11 years.

With the present asymmetry of the Sun's two hemisphere, we are guaranteed a cycle with a double hump in the peak years. The first peak is usually the strongest but not always. Let's see how Cycle 25 plays out in this department.

I’ve yet to do any comparisons with past progress of strong cycles at this same point into their upward climb but let’s cross our fingers and hope the present numbers continue for some time. There will always be drops of course but if recovery is quick, we may still be in for a good ride in Cycle 25.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Hunting For NDBs In CLE 274

 

ZWG - 287kHz Winnipeg courtesy: http://www.ve3gop.com/

 I know it's hard to believe but it's CLE time once again. How quickly time zooms by. 

 
'CLE's are 'Co-ordinated  Listening Events, and NDB DXers around the world focus their listening time on one small slice of  the NDB spectrum.
 
It's back to an 'almost normal' activity but with a slightly wider frequency span: 270.0 - 319.9kHz

A 'mid-continent target' for listeners in North America is ZWG - 287kHz in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Listen for ZWG's upper sideband on 287.368kHz. ZWG's 17 watts is widely heard throughout North America.

When tuning for NDBs, put your receiver in the CW mode and listen for the NDB's CW identifier, repeated every few seconds. Listen for U.S. NDB identifiers approximately 1 kHz higher or lower than the published transmitted frequency since these beacons are modulated with a 1020 Hz tone approximately.

For example, 'AA' near Fargo, ND, transmitted on 365 kHz and its upper sideband CW identifier was tuned at 366.025 kHz while its lower sideband CW ident could be tuned at 363.946 kHz. Its USB tone was actually 1025 Hz while its LSB tone was 1054 Hz.

Often, one sideband will be much stronger than the other so if you don't hear the first one, try listening on the other sideband.

Canadian NDBs normally have an USB tone only, usually very close to 400 Hz. They also have a long dash (keydown) following the CW identifier.

All NDBs heard in North America will be listed in the RNA database (updated daily) while those heard in Europe may be found in the REU database. Beacons heard outside of these regions will be found in the RWW database. These databases have recently been re-vamped and are slicker than ever before!

From CLE organizers comes the following CLE info:


Hello all

Here are brief details for our 274th co-ordinated listening event next weekend.

It spans a 50 kHz frequency range - about three times wider than usual. 

In that range, the Rxx database is showing about 200 active NDBs located in Europe, 120 in North America, 35 in Oceania.  The numbers are approximately doubled if you include DX from other parts of the World that have been heard from each of those three regions.

    Days:     Friday 26 November – Monday 29 November
    Times:   Start and end at midday, your LOCAL time
    Range:   270.0 - 319.9 kHz  (NDB signals only)

Part of the frequency range also has DGPS signals among the NDBs.

We last listened on these frequencies in CLE259 in August 2020.

Any first-time CLE logs will be very welcome, as always.

Please log all the NDBs (within the frequency ranges specified) that you can identify plus any UNIDs that you come across there.

 Send your final log to the List (not in an attachment, please) with 'CLE274’ and ‘FINAL' in its title (important).

 Show on each line:

    #   The Date (e.g.  '2021-11-26', etc.,  or just '26' )

    #   The Time in UTC (the day changes at 00:00 UTC).

    #   kHz  - the nominal published frequency, if known.

    #   The Call Ident.


Please show those main items FIRST.  Other optional details such as Location and Distance go LATER in the same line.

As always, of course, tell us your own location and give brief details of the equipment that you were using during the Event.

We will send the usual 'Any More Logs?' email at about 19:00 UTC on Tuesday so you can check that your log has been found OK.

Do make sure that your log has arrived on the List by 08:00 UTC on Wednesday 01 December at the very latest.

We hope to complete making the combined results within a day or two.

You can soon find full details about current and past CLEs from the CLE page http://www.ndblist.info/cle.htm    It includes access to the CLE274 seeklists for your part of the World, prepared from all the previous loggings in Rxx.

Good listening

- enjoy the CLE.

     Brian and Joachim

------------------------------------------------------------------

From:      Brian Keyte G3SIA      ndbcle'at'gmail.com

Location:  Surrey,  SE England     (CLE coordinator)

------------------------------------------------------------------

  (If you would like to listen remotely you could use any one remote  receiver for your loggings, stating its location and owner and with their permission if required.  A remote listener may NOT also use
another receiver, local or remote, to make further loggings for the same CLE)


These listening events serve several purposes. They

• determine, worldwide, which beacons are actually in service and on-the-air so the newly-re-vamped Rxx online database can be kept up-to-date

• determine, worldwide, which beacons are out-of-service or have gone silent since the last CLE covering this range


• will indicate the state of propagation conditions at the various participant locations


• will give you an indication of how well your LF/MF receiving system is working


• give participants a fun yet challenging activity to keep their listening skills honed


Final details can be found at the NDB List website, and worldwide results, for every participant, will be posted there a few days after the event.


The NDB List Group is a great place to learn more about the 'Art of NDB DXing' or to meet other DXers in your region. There is a lot of good information available there and new members are always very welcome. As well, you can follow the results of other CLE participants from night to night as propagation is always an active topic of discussion.

You need not be an NDB List member to participate in the CLEs and all reports, no matter how small, are of much value to the organizers.

Remember - 'First-time' logs are always VERY welcome!

Reports may be sent to the NDB List Group or e-mailed to CLE co-ordinator, Brian Keyte (G3SIA), whose address appears above. If you are a member of the group, all final results will also be e-mailed and posted there.

Please ... give the CLE a try ... then let us know what NDB's can be heard from your location! Your report can then be added to the worldwide database to help keep it up-to-date.

Have fun and good hunting!

Sunday, 24 October 2021

The Crystal Radio DX Contest

 


I first became intrigued with Crystal Radio DXing several years ago when I happened across the above image showing the Crystal Radio DX Contest setup of Al Klase, N3FRQ. I was immediately surprised to learn that 'DX' could actually be heard on a crystal radio ... I could never hear anything but two strong locals on my own crystal set as a kid. I also knew immediately that I wanted to learn more and hopefully get into the next Crystal Radio DX Contest!

Back then, the contest was organized by the Yahoo Crystal Radio Group and then later, by the Alabama Crystal Radio Group. These contests were exceptionally popular and always sparked a huge amount of discussion, spurred new construction and seemed to create a lot of ‘crystal radio’ excitement in the months leading up to the contest.

Crystal radios can be as simple as a 'single-tuned' set like this, built by Mike Simpson from plans shown in Alfred P. Morgan's "The Boys' Third Book of Radio and Electronics". Read the nice back-story from Mike about this project! In the right location and with a good antenna, even simple sets like this are capable of hearing skywave signals.

(courtesy Mike Simpson http://www.analogdial.com)

At the other end of the spectrum are elaborate DX sets like this one, built by Mike Tuggle in Hawaii.

Mike Tuggle's 'Lyonodyne' DX set  

 

Mike regularly hears AM broadcast band stations in Canada and the USA on his crystal radio from his location in Hawaii ... he explains the details here.

Recently, along with Doug (K4LY) and Dave (N1DAY), I discussed how we might be able to again  resurrect this popular contest activity and after countless e-mail exchanges, we’ve now put together just such an event!

Accordingly, we invite any and all crystal radio builders and users to participate in the upcoming Crystal Radio DX Contest to be held from January 1 through January 8th, 2022!

This date period should provide ample time for new construction to take place or to make improvements to present radios, while hopefully finding some nice mid-winter propagation on the broadcast band … half the battle when it comes to DXing with crystal radios.

Some ideas have been gleaned from previous contests to provide a minimum set of simple rules that will hopefully accommodate crystal radios of all types.

There are two entry classes, ‘OPEN’ and ‘HOBBY’ with guidelines for each. You will only be competing against others in the same category or maybe only against yourself if trying to reach a set goal.

In the true spirit of previous contests, it’s more about having fun, optimizing your passive receiving system and creating some great discussions, both before and after the contest … this really makes every participant a winner in the end.

As an anchor point for discussions regarding this and future such events, the Facebook ‘Crystal Radio DX Contest Group’ has been created and anyone that might be curious or interested in possible contest participation is encouraged to join.

In no way is this group intended to usurp activity from any present groups and it should not. It will be a focal point where members can find and discuss activities generated by the upcoming event. What are you building or improving for the contest? What are your plans? Share your crystal radio DXing strategies. Any thoughts or comments related to the upcoming event are fair game!

The Crystal Radio DX Contest Group can be found here where you can find discussion as well as the rules.

As well, the rules in pdf form, may be found here if you are not on Facebook.

Hopefully you will consider entering the contest ... it was always an enjoyable event.