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.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

CLE236 Results

courtesy: https://sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov/



It seems that for the CLE236 listeners in western North America, my worst fears came true. The week preceding last weekend's listening event had seen great MF propagation and quiet geomagnetic conditions.




On Friday evening, shortly after the start, a geomagnetic storm commenced, with K-levels reaching 5-7 at various stations ... pretty much sounding the death knell once again. It seems more than coincidental that almost every CLE in the past few years has seen horrific geomagnetic conditions in lock-step with our scheduled monthly events!

Since there were no active regions on the Sun at the time, I suspect, as mentioned in my last blog, that we were victimized by a sudden spurt from the same coronal hole that whacked us last month, as it lined-up once again on its monthly reappearance. Arriving on Friday evening as sunset approached, the effects seemed to spare the rest of North America (and Europe), as western listeners were the only ones reporting poor propagation. As well, lightning noise, often abating by this time of the year, created havoc for many listeners ... even those with good propagation.

I can only hope that next month's event will see a major improvement in noise levels as well as in propagation quality. Hopefully, that pesky coronal hole will have closed itself by then!

On top of the above mentioned challenges, CLE236's frequency range was smack on top of my local pest, AP-378, whose antenna is less than one mile from my own antennas. Having an S9 +60db signal in the middle of the narrow CLE range does make for challenging listening. My 10' x 20' loop knocked AP's signal down about 25db, allowing me to hear the following signals, some only barely.


22 05:00  371     YK         Yakima, WA, USA
22 07:00  371     GW        Kuujjuarapik, QC, CAN
22 10:00  372     ZPA       Prince Albert, SK, CAN
22 06:00  372    YCO       Coppermine, NU, CAN
22 08:00  373    MF         Table Rock, OR, USA
22 11:00  374     EX          Kelowna, BC, CAN
23 11:30  374     EE          Forada, MN, USA
22 11:00  375     FS          Fort Simpson, NT, CAN
22 12:00  375     CP         Casper, WY, USA
24 08:00  376   YAG       Fort Frances, ON, CAN
22 07:00  376    K2         Olds-Didsbury, AB, CAN
23 06:00  378    OT         North Bend, OR, USA
22 06:00  378    AP         Mayne Island, BC, CAN
23 11:30  379     OW        Owatonna, MN, USA
23 11:30  379     DL          Duluth, MN, USA
23 05:00  380   GC         Gillette, WY, USA
24 06:00  380   BBD      Brady, TX, USA
22 07:00  382   YPW      Powell River, BC, CAN
24 13:00  382    JNR       Unalakleet, ALS
22 13:30  382     AW        Marysville, WA, USA
22 07:00  383    PI           Pocatello, ID, USA
22 07:00  383    CNP       Chappell, NE, USA
 
See you in CLE237.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Hunting For NDBs in CLE 236

AP-378 Mayne Island, BC



How time flies. Once again it's a CLE weekend. It seems like the last one was just a week ago!




 '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.

This time the hunting ground is the 15 kHz slice from 370.0 - 384.9 kHz.

This is a somewhat dreaded range for me since my local blowtorch NDB, 'AP' (378 kHz), sits right in the middle of the range. 'AP' is located at the entrance to Active Pass, the main ferry route to Vancouver Island, and the antenna is about 3/4 of a mile down the beach from me. Needless to say, the beacon is about 40db over S9! With careful loop nulling, I can reduce this by about 25db but it's still an enormous signal to deal with.

Hopefully you can put 'AP' in your own log this weekend but its 25-watt signal will be much weaker for you. It's been logged as far east as Illinois and with your receiver in the CW mode, can be found on 378.399 kHz.

All too often our CLE weekends get hammered by geomagnetic disturbances, possibly because our monthly schedule syncs up nicely with the Sun's rotation and the disturbance from the previous month once again rotates into position. Conditions this time surely can't be much worse than for our previous event and today's mid-week check looks promising.


courtesy: NOAA
courtesy: NOAA

Things seem geomagnetically quiet at the moment so lets hope they stay that way. LF and MF propagation can often be amazing in the fall and as summer storms start to dissipate, the band can become much less noisy.

From CLE coordinator Brian Keyte (G3SIA), comes the following CLE info:


Hi all,

Please join us in our 236th coordinated Listening Event which starts
this Friday and celebrates the arrival of the Equinox this weekend.
CLEs are not contests - if you enjoy taking part you will be a winner!

    Days:    Friday 21 September - Monday 24 September
    Times:   Start and end at midday, LOCAL TIME at the receiver
    Range:   370 - 384.9 kHz

Just log all the NDBs that you can identify with their nominal (listed)
frequencies in the range (it includes 370 kHz, but not 385 kHz)
plus any UNIDs that you come across there.

Please send your CLE log to the List in a plain text email if possible
(not in an attachment) with CLE236 and FINAL at the start of its title.
Show on each log line:
    # The date (e.g. 2018-09-21, etc., or just 21) and UTC
          (the date changes at 00:00 UTC)
    # kHz  (the nominal published frequency, if known)
    # The Call Ident.

Show those main items FIRST - other optional details such as Location
and Distance go LATER in the same line. 
If you send interim logs, please also send a 'FINAL' (complete) log.

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

Joachim or I will send the usual 'Any More Logs?' email at about 17:00
UTC on Tuesday - you can then check that your log has been found OK.
All logs must arrive on the list at the very latest by 08:00 UTC on
Wednesday 26th September.  We hope to complete making the combined
results within a day or two.

To help you to plan your listening, seeklists and maps for your part of the
World are available via the CLE page  http://www.ndblist.info/cle.htm

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

If you are interested in some remote listening - maybe due to local difficulties - you could use any one remote receiver for your loggings, stating its location and with the owner’s 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 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.

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, 15 September 2018

The Fall "Classic Exchange"

W7OS - Radio Club of Tacoma working the CX
This fall's running of the CW "Classic Exchange" will take place on Sunday, September 23 and on Tuesday, September 25. The following week will see the Phone "Classic Exchange", on Sunday, September 30 and on Tuesday, October 2.


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


For complete details, 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 us out west!