Saturday, 19 January 2019

Hunting For NDBs In CLE240

OO-391kHz - Oshawa, Ontario courtesy: VE3GOP




This coming weekend will see another monthly CLE challenge. This time the hunting grounds will be 385.0 - 399.9 kHz.

 


For those unfamiliar with this monthly activity, a 'CLE' is a 'Co-ordinated Listening Event', as NDB DXers around the world focus their listening time on one small slice of the NDB spectrum.

A wonderful challenge for listeners in North America is to hear little OO - 391kHz, located in Oshawa, Ontario. It puts out only 7 1/2 watts but has been logged on both coasts as well as in Europe! Listen for its USB CW identifier (with your receiver in the CW mode) on 391.396 and its LSB ID on 390.595 kHz.

MF propagation this past week has been good and signals in this frequency range should be propagating well if things stay undisturbed for the weekend. As usual however, a large coronal hole has returned to its monthly CLE position and its weekend effects are still unknown.

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 1020Hz tone approximately.

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


From CLE organizer Brian Keyte, G3SIA, come details via the The NDB List Group:


Hello all,

Our 240th Coordinated Listening Event is less than a week away.
We can now forget all about pyramids and relax with a straightforward
event.   Whether you are a keen propagation watcher or just a
take-what-comes listener, please join in.

    Days:    Friday 25 January - Monday 28 January
    Times:   Start and end at midday, your LOCAL TIME
    Range:   385.0 - 399.9 kHz

Please log all the NDBs you can identify that are listed in that range
(it includes 385 kHz but not 400 kHz) plus any UNIDs you find there.
We last used this frequency range for CLE224 in October 2017.


Please send your final log to the List (no attachments and ideally
in a plain text email) with ‘FINAL CLE240’ in its title.
Show on each line:

    #   The Date (e.g.  '2019-01-26' 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 brief details
of the equipment that you were using during the Event.

We will send the usual 'Any More Logs?' email at about 18:00 UTC
on Tuesday so that you can check that your log has been found OK.

The combined results should then be completed 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 CLE240 seeklists
for your part of the World, prepared from 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 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 listeners 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!

Friday, 11 January 2019

The 2019 Winter "Classic Exchange"

W7OS - Radio Club of Tacoma working the CX
This winter's running of the CW "Classic Exchange" will take place on Sunday, January 13 and on Tuesday, January 15. The following month will see the Phone "Classic Exchange", on Sunday, February 24 and on Tuesday, February 26.


The "CX" encourages participants to use older vintage gear including any homebrew equipment, both receivers and transmitters. A unique scoring system provides bonus points for various equipment and combinations as well as encouraging 'repeat contacts' when you switch to different equipment.


W8KM and his wonderful vintage station

No vintage gear? ... no problem! All amateurs are invited to participate and get in on the fun no matter what they are using and submit their scores.


K3MD's Heathkit AT-1 and Hallicrafters HT-37 ready for the CX

The CX is a low-key relaxing affair and the 'extra' Tuesday operating period should encourage a lot of midweek activity from the vast numbers of retired operators who cherish and run older gear.


Lots of combos ready at W4BOH's CX setup


























K6ZI, Las Vegas - WWII ARC-5s ready to go

A summary of the Fall 2018 CX and soapbox comments, along with some wonderful vintage-station eye candy, may be found here.

For complete details of the upcoming event, see the web site announcement here.

If you've never entered the Classic Exchange, why not give it a try this year as it truly is a case of 'the more the merrier' ... and eastern operators, make sure to keep the porch light on for those out west!

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Radio Bench Fun!




Every once in awhile I’m reminded of the magic of radio and why this hobby is so much fun!

For the past week and a bit, in between power outages of up to four days, I’ve been optimizing a circuit from the December ‘36 ‘Radio’ magazine.





It looked like it might be something that would be fun to use during the weeknight NRN (Novice Rig Nights) activities ... a Jone’s-style push-pull crystal power oscillator using a pair of 6V6s. The original article called for 6L6s but my power supply can probably not provide much more power than is already coming from the 6V6s and these will likely be easier on my few precious novice-band crystals.





The circuit is lashed-up on my very well-worn 'aluminum breadboard', which is peppered with numerous convenient holes punched or drilled for mounting various crystal sockets, tube / coil sockets, variable caps etc ... it really looks awful but allows easy parts swapping to test out different configurations.



This afternoon I had the thing perking to my satisfaction, along with a very sweet-sounding CW note, using my WWII - era 7121kc crystal. Everything looked good into the dummy load so I connected the 40m antenna through the tuner, clipped the bug to the cathode resistor and at about 40 minutes before sunset, sent a short ‘CQ’, hoping for a nearby local but not really expecting a reply ... now this is the magic part. 

My CQ was immediately pounced-upon by John, N2BE, on the other side of the continent, in New Jersey! I shook my head at the dangling pile of clip leads and just-barely soldered components clamped in the bench vice and had to smile when he gave me a 589 report! John was working the AWA's Linc Cundall CW Contest, where rigs must be pre-1950 designs or builds. I was happily able to give him a legitimate point, using my 1936 Jones oscillator!



At 400V on the plates,  the little lash-up puts out 18 watts and seems to be about 45% efficient ... not too bad for a power oscillator. As well, the crystal current must be low as it keys nicely and doesn't sound stressed. 

I’ll soon be rebuilding the little transmitter into something more presentable, probably similar to my Tri-Tet-Ten, using the short-lived but visually attractive mid-30’s building style that mated a shiny aluminum plate to a nice wooden base.


Stay tuned ... I’ll hopefully have it completed over the next few weeks and will be looking for some 80 / 40m  NRN Monday night fun!

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Vintage Radio Reading

This blog was originally published in July 2014 but is as valid today as it was then. In fact, David Gleason has added many more titles to his web-collection, making the site even more of a treasure. 


**********



I really love old radio magazines, especially those from the 30's, but to purchase any original copies today is very costly. If you grew up in the 50's or earlier and became hooked by the magic of radio as I and thousands of other kids did, then you no doubt recall the plethora of great monthly magazines devoted to 'radio'. 

Now, thanks to AmericanRadioHistory.com, most of those great old hobby magazines of the past can be viewed online and enjoyed once again.
Just a few of the many magazines available are: Radio Craft, Short Wave Radio, Radio, Radio World, White's Radio Log, Popular Radio, Popular Electronics and Radio Amateur News, later to become Radio News.

As a pre-teen short-wave listener in the late 50's, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the latest edition of Popular Electronics, stuffed with its latest SW broadcast news, frequency lists and DX stories.

I'm not sure if all of this is the organizational work of just one person (Webmaster David Gleason) or of a larger group, but it is an incredibly rich resource that has been made freely available for everyone to enjoy.





Thanks to David Gleason's work, I always have several of my favorite classics downloaded to my I-Pad's bookshelf for offline reading. With hundreds of recent updates this spring, there appears to be a lifetime of vintage reading now available!




As a builder of vintage-style radios, particularly transmitters, I can often find new inspiration from the magazines particularly devoted to ham radio. If your workshop library is lacking in vintage reference material, you need look no further than this site for a vast source of building inspiration....transmitters of all description along with receivers from crystal tuners to complex multi-tube designs.



So many of these early publications were the brainchild of Hugo Gernsback, a prolific writer and editor of both technical and science fiction magazines but sometimes blurring the boundaries of each! I suspect that his wide variety of radio publications had some significant role in the way radio so quickly transformed the world.
Even in the 50's, long after the 'golden years' of radio, it was not uncommon to still see radio antennas on most houses, at least in my neighbourhood!







If you haven't visited this wonderful resource yet, I'm sure you will be amazed at what you find.

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Hunting Foxes With QRP






For those of us that enjoy CW as well as QRP operating, the Winter QRP Fox Hunt nights make for an exciting combination of both interests.




The QRP Fox Hunt is an operating event during which low power (QRP) stations or "Hounds", attempt to make contact with specific QRP stations designated as "The Fox".

Spanning a twenty week period from November to April, each week sees two Fox Hunt events ... one on Tuesday evening and another on Thursday evening. The Tuesday night event sees the Hounds go hunting on 40m, while on Thursdays, the move to 80m, for an even greater challenge.

For each evening, there are two assigned 'Fox stations', usually one in the east and one in the west. The object of the hunt is for the hounds (you and I) to find and work the fox ... both foxes if you can, as bagging both is the ultimate goal. This all sounds pretty easy except for the fact that all foxes and all hounds are limited to 5W output or less, and therein lies the fun! If you have never heard a pileup of QRP stations, it is worth tuning in just to listen ... a multi-station cacophony of QRP signals, all around 559 or weaker ... it's not your typical kilowatt-laden ear crushing pileup!

The 40m foxes will be found between 7030 and 7050, while the ones on 80m will be between 3550 and 3570 kHz. Most foxes make a habit of working split, usually listening 'up 1', so once you find the pileup, the fox is easier to locate.

The hunts begin at 0200Z and run until 0329Z ... early evening here on the west coast and mid-evening out east.

Complete rules and a 'Fox Hunt Primer' may be found on the QRP Fox Hunt home page here. For discussion of the individual events and soapbox comments, join the QFox ioGroup site here or join the chat in Facebook's QFox QRP Foxhunt Group.

If you're in search of some challenging week-night operating fun, you may just find what you are looking for with the bi-weekly QRP Fox Hunts. Working both foxes is not as easy as it might sound and is an excellent test for your antenna system and of your CW operating skills. Come and join the fun this coming Tuesday ... no special hunting permits required!