Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Hunting NDBs In CLE237




CLE 237 will be held this coming weekend and will be somewhat different than normal.







'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 ... but this one is a little different.

This event has been organized around the Maidenhead Locator system and will challenge hunters to log beacons based upon the beacon's FIELD designation. Listeners should seek to log a maximum of five NDBs in each GRID FIELD.

The grid field is actually the first two letters of the grid locator, such as 'CN', 'FN', 'DM' etc., as seen in the map above. Each field itself is divided into 100 GRID SQUARES, but individual grid squares are not relevant for this CLE ... only the fields.

Most amateurs that operate on the VHF bands are very familiar with the 'grid square locator' system and many VHF operating awards and events are focused on working different grid squares. This may all be a new adventure for many non-VHF DXers but it does present a whole new way of keeping track of your catches.

I have always kept track of the grid square locator for all NDB signals that I hear and often find that a signal being heard from one particular square will lead to other beacons being heard (often new catches) from adjacent squares, while propagation is spotlighting that region ... it often pays to keep a grid square map handy while you search the band!

If you are not familiar with the grid square system, it's all pretty simple and this CLE only focuses on the largest part of the system, the FIELD. The first thing you should do is determine your own grid FIELD location, which, for North America, can be found very easily from the map above or anywhere in the world on K7FRY's locator map.

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, 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:

===============================================
Here are the Final Details for this weekend's DX Listening Event.

We'll be listening for NDBs in as many Locator FIELDS as we can.

Fields are the first 2 letters of the 6 character locators ('Grid Square').

    Days:     Friday 26th October – Monday 29th October
    Times:    Midday on Friday to Midday on Monday, your LOCAL* time
            *(NB Many of us will be changing our house clocks this weekend.
               UTC time, shown in our logs, continues unaffected by that)
    QRG:      Normal LF/MF frequencies  190 - 1740 kHz
    Target:   UP TO 5 NORMAL NDBs IN EACH LOCATOR FIELD (see below)
                    (not DGPS, NAVTEX, Amateur or UNIDs)

Please also log YOUR NEAREST ACTIVE NDB - it will probably be one of
the five in your own Field.

A World map of all the locator Fields is attached.  You can see, for
example, that Field IO includes most of the British Isles.


(click map to expand)

Please post your CLE log to the List in a plain text email if possible,
with 'CLE237' at the start of its title and showing on each log line:

     The full Date ( e.g. 2018-10-26, etc., or just the day number 26 )
     UTC  (The day changes at 00:00 UTC).
     kHz - the NDB's nominal published frequency
     The Call Ident.

As always, put those FOUR MAIN ITEMS FIRST on each log line, with
any other optional details such as location and distance LATER in the
same line.

There is no need to show the locator Fields (the harvester program
will work out all of them and the nearest NDB you logged).

Your log will be easier to read if you leave a blank separator line
between the groups of up to 5 lines for each Field.

If you wish, you could add the 2-letter Field ident (NOTHING ELSE)
at the start of each separator line.

Any UNIDs that you come across will also be of interest - in a separate
part of your log please.

If you send interim logs, please make sure that you also send a 'FINAL'
log showing ALL your loggings for the CLE.

We will send the usual 'Any More Logs?' email to NDB List at about
18:00 UTC on Tuesday so you can check that your log has been found OK.
Do make sure that your Final log has arrived on the list by 09:00 UTC
on Wednesday 31st October at the very latest.
Joachim and I hope to complete the combined results within two days.


PLANNING YOUR LISTENING

It will really help you to plan your listening if you go to the excellent
Rxx Database  https://www.classaxe.com/dx/ndb/reu
(Replace the 'reu' by 'rna' if you are in North America, 'rww' elsewhere)

THE KEY PLACE to start entering details of what you want is
'Signal Locations - GSQs'.

Put a 2-letter FIELD id in that box to see all the NDBs in that Field that
have been logged from your part of the World (i.e. EU or NA or other).

You could alter the resulting list in lots of different ways:

Select 'Only active' (bottom right)
Enter your own Country or State in 'Heard Here'
Select a specific listener (yourself?) in 'Logged by' – BUT you might missa beacon that you haven’t   heard so far
Add extra locator Field(s) in the 'GSQs' box, separated by blanks
- In ANY of the above, you can select 'Map' instead of 'List' (top right)

Add your own full locator (6 characters) in the 'Distance - From GSQ' box to see the distances and bearings from your location.
In 'Sort By' (bottom line) select GSQ

Getting cleverer (!) you could use the wild card _ (an underscore) to see details of all Fields with the same column of Longitude or row of Latitude
e.g.  I_  selects all of locator column I (0  to 20 degrees west),  _O would give all of row O (50 to 60 degrees north).

Good Listening

73    Brian
---------------------------------------------------------------------
From: Brian Keyte G3SIA                ndbcle'at'gmail.com
Location: Surrey, SE England          (CLE coordinator)
---------------------------------------------------------------------

(As usual a handful of us may choose to listen via a remote receiver
with permission if required - its own location will be their temporary
home Field).
A remote listener may NOT also use another receiver, whether local
or remote, to obtain 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 Yahoo ndblist Group has been moved to Groups.io and The NDB List Group will now be found there! The very active 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. Joining the group also makes it much easier to post your logs!

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!

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Monday's 'NRN' CW Fun

My homebrew Ameco AC-1 clone



A weekly CW operating activity that seems to be growing in popularity is the Monday “NRN”.





The NRN get-togethers are an offshoot of the annual “NRR” or Novice Rig Roundup. Monday’s “Novice Rig Night” gradually grew from those that wanted to see the NRR fun continue, in one form or another, without waiting an entire year for the event to roll around again.

Operating times run from sunup on the east coast to midnight on the west coast ... but basically, people just get on the air whenever they can on Monday and call “CQ NRN”. I suspect that most of the activity takes place between late afternoon and bedtime, with 40m probably seeing the most action. As winter arrives, we may see more activity on 80m but these are only my personal observations from the west coast.

Most folks are using typical Novice-era transmitters and / or receivers, with the Drake 2NT, early Heathkits, Eicos, homebrews and Hammarlunds being popular. The previous Monday I was active with my homebrew Ameco AC-1 clone, a 6V6 crystal power oscillator, at about 6 watts out. Good contacts were had with several eastern stations. There are several AC-1s around and there has been at least one suggestion of an 'AC-1 Night' ... what fun that would be as well!

For last night’s NRN, I brought out my homebrew Paraset.


Once again, good contacts were had with the easterners on 40m: W9BRD in NJ, W3NP in WV,  KD2E in NJ and VE3LYX using his No.19 tank radio ... two WWII radios talking to each other in 2018, one real and one a reproduction!



VE3LYX's No.19 set operating position
The Paraset uses a two-tube regenerative receiver and, like the AC-1, a single 6V6 crystal controlled power oscillator. It's always difficult to judge propagation conditions when listening with a regen ... are conditions as bad as they seem or is it just my simple receiver making the band sound poorer than usual? Such was the case for me last night so next week I will spark-up the Paraset once again for another round of NRN fun. As promised on the NRR Facebook page (now at 1600+ members!), all Paraset contacts will be confirmed with my mid-30s styled QSL and these will be going out this week. 




Here is the formal announcement for the Monday events, with a few additional details. Hopefully you can join the fun (any rig is fair game!), next week.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Some Summer Short Wave Listening

courtesy:americanradiohistory



Over the past few months I’ve spent some time tuning around the international shortwave bands.


I vividly recall how jam-packed these bands were when I first discovered the magic of radio, back in the peak years of Solar Cycle 19. Much has changed in this part of the radio spectrum since then, but after having read so many dire comments describing the demise of international SW broadcasting, I was pleasantly surprised at what I discovered.



Although there are certainly not the large numbers of stations there once were, there is still a large amount of activity to be found throughout the various bands allocated to international SW broadcasting.


courtesy: https://communicationwhiz.com/short-wave-radios-guide/

Trying to keep track of station schedules and frequencies is a hobby unto itself but now made easier with the availability of so many online information sources. As when younger, I found the best way to stay organized was to keep a SW logbook, eventually settling on a simple ‘diary’ format which is still evolving.



Its next refinement will be an additional notebook having separate pages devoted to each individual frequency within a given SW band. This will allow for updating frequency information from various postings of the daily online ‘heard’ reports.

I’ve always had a great interest in QSLs and collecting cards was one of the things that initially attracted me to SW radio back as a pre-teenaged DXer. For me, not much has changed in the last several decades and I still enjoy QSLs ... the real, traditional cards, as opposed to the now popular e-card. For me, an e-card just doesn’t have much appeal for some reason but for many others, they work just fine.

As I slowly re-learn much of what I had forgotten about SWL’ing, I discovered that there are still many SW broadcasters that will acknowledge a reception report with a real paper card ... just like the good old days!

If you are keen on doing some serious listening, I cannot recommend the WRTH highly enough.





Studying the latest WRTH revealed the QSL policies of most international as well as domestic SW broadcasters as well as contact information. It is a superb annual reference and well worth the investment! With this information in hand, my listening has become more focused on recording and submitting reception reports to those stations still practicing the courtesy of acknowledging reports with a traditional QSL. Many stations also issue an e-card, but these are of little interest to me at present.




With a small amount of spring-summer time devoted to SW listening, I generated and submitted a few reception reports along with linked audio files on my website ... so far, the following QSLs have arrived:


Radio Exterior de Espana
15520 kHz - Noblejas, Spain

Radio Free Asia
9950 kHz - via IBB on Tinian Island, S. Pacific


All India Radio (AIR)

9865 kHz - Bengaluru, India

DX Clube Sem Fronteiras Broadcast via WRMI 7730 kHz, Miami

T8WH - 9965 kHz Palau, South Pacific

HSK9 - 5875 kHz Udon Thani, Thailand
Radio Liangyou - Hong Kong

9275 kHz via Bocaue, Philippines site

Radio Romania - 9730 kHz - Bucharest, Romania
Radio Nikkei 2
3935 kHz - Chiba, Japan

I’ll do an upcoming blog on some of the great information and online sites to support international SW listening activities.