Tuesday 19 December 2017

Holiday Hunt For NDBs In CLE 226 & 227

The next CLE event will be the special Christmas holiday event and includes two challenges! CLE 226 covers any NDB north of the Arctic Circle, while CLE 227 is a 'bearing' event, with each listener chosing a particular bearing from their receiving location and seeing how many beacons can be heard from states, provinces or countries through which that bearing slices! You will have plenty of time to listen as well, since the event runs from Monday 25th December to Tuesday 2nd January.


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 (usually) on one small slice of the NDB spectrum.
Normally, December provides some excellent propagation but the planet continues to be bombarded with seemingly non-stop coronal hole streaming that can cause geomagnetic disturbances disruptive to MF propagation. However, often these 'disruptions' are not as dire as they first appear and MF propagation can remain robust or even be enhanced.

Listeners in Canada and the northern states as well as those in northern Europe will have a much better chance of logging the Arctic beacons. Most of these are large 'enroute' navigation markers with big antennas and plenty of erp ... they are heard very well.

A pdf list of all NDBs within the Arctic Circle can be downloaded from here.

If you are interested in building a system for the new (U.S.) 630m band, the CLE will give you the chance to test out your MF receiving capabilities and compare against what others in your area might be hearing.

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' in Fargo 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.

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 a 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, comes the usual 'heads-up':

Hello all

Time to tell you about our Holiday CLEs.
Yes – we have two of them, running at the same time, something we have often done in the Christmas – New Year period.

The Early Advice for both CLEs is described here, but we shall treat them quite separately after this.


We'll be sharing Santa's attempts to use the NDBs north of the Arctic Circle (Latitude N67 degrees) as he navigates his weary reindeer on the last stages of their long flights back home.

Please tell us of any normal NDBs north of the Arctic Circle that you manage to log.

Days: Monday 25th December – Tuesday 2nd January
Times: Midday on 25th Dec to Midday on 2nd Jan, your local time
QRG: Normal LF/MF frequencies
Target: NDBs within the Arctic Circle, north of Latitude 67 degrees

That is similar to what we did way back in Holiday CLE059 (Christmas 2004).

There are about 130 qualifying ‘active’ NDBs currently recorded in RWW.

(You can see the old results from CLE059 in the CLE Archives Section,
http://www.ndblist.info/cledata/CLE59santa.pdf  It only ran for 24 hours after midday on Christmas Day).

We do apologise to the listeners who are too far south to hear anything. (The further north listeners often miss out in normal CLEs, especially in the summertime when there is very little sky wave propagation for them).

The Final Details for the Santa CLE, CLE226, will follow in a few days.


Like CLE226, this is also a re-run, something that was very much enjoyed over 10 years ago - as CLE092 during a weekend in early June 2007.

Days: Monday 25th December – Tuesday 2nd January
Times: Midday on 25th Dec to Midday on 2nd Jan, your local time
QRG: Normal LF/MF frequencies
Target: Up to 10 NDBs in each Radio Country in your chosen direction

You choose a line in any one direction from you. Then try to log 'normal' NDBs in each of the radio countries crossed by that line - not more than 10 NDBs from each country.
Your line can be at any bearing of your choice - e.g. 123 degrees but NOT including the opposite direction (303 degrees).

Preferably use a Great Circle map to choose your line and to see which radio countries it cuts (a country is included if any part of it is crossed).

Remember that each USA and Australian State and each Canadian Province is a separate Radio Country. See http://www.ndblist.info/ndbinfo/countrylist.pdf

(If your line crosses the sea, any platforms roughly in that direction would also qualify as a radio country for the CLE).

The event will give you an opportunity to plan your own tactics. You could:

Try out a directional aerial
Include a favourite country or countries
Listen for NDBs which mostly have your favourite offset
Concentrate either on DX or more local reception
Exclude signals from the direction of your worst QRN
- any or all of those things, and more.

The aim is not to try and include as many countries or as many NDBs as possible, though you could do that if you wanted to!

TO CHOOSE YOUR BEARING, for non-dx loggings you could use an ordinary map (Mercator projection), especially if your location is near to its middle.

Better would be a Great Circle map centred on your location - you should find that https://ns6t.net/azimuth/azimuth.html is good and very easy to download and use. Just put in your location (e.g. Locator), choose a distance and click on ‘Create Map’. It misses out smaller countries, but reference also to a ‘normal’ map should cater for that.

Perhaps ideal would be Google Earth if you can download that (it is a powerful program for lots of purposes). Click on its Ruler icon and draw a line with the mouse. It tells you distance and Bearing ('Heading'). (Feel free to tell us about any other suitable Great Circle programs)

I can highly recommend the ns6t map generator as it produces a very nice great circle map, shown below for my location on Mayne Island.

courtesy: https://ns6t.net/azimuth/azimuth.html

I have yet to decide which bearing I will choose but 81 degrees looks promising from here as it cuts across BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario while catching the northern edges of Minnesota and North Dakota.

(If you wish you could use any one remote receiver for your loggings,
stating the 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. If you are a member of the ndblist Group, results will also be e-mailed and posted there.

The very active Yahoo ndblist 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 ndblist member to participate in the CLEs and all reports, no matter how small, are of much value to the organizers. 

'First-time' logs are always VERY welcome!

Reports may be sent to the ndblist or e-mailed to either myself or CLE co-ordinator, Brian Keyte (G3SIA), whose address appears above.

Please ... give the Holiday 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 Happy Holidays to everyone.

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