Friday 2 October 2015

Alaskan NDBs Awaken

Good geomagnetically-quiet conditions continued into Tuesday morning, with the 'K' index hitting '0' just before dawn here on the west coast. A two-minute Perseus recording of the NDB band revealed good propagation towards Alaska, the first of the season.

The first good opening of the new DX season always provides an opportunity to see which NDB's have survived the summer and have not been closed down by the FAA bean counters. Every year, a few more of the Alaskan NDBs go quiet, with no new ones being added to the list.

The situation is certainly not confined to Alaska. The growing reliance on GPS and RNAV procedures is gradually making the reliance on NDBs a thing of the past. Frankly I'm astounded, yet grateful, that there are many hundreds of NDBs still in use and I'll really miss chasing the low-powered DX targets when they are all eventually decommissioned.

The following Alaskans were heard on Tuesday morning at 1300Z, about one hour before my local sunrise:

9/30/15 1300 529 SQM Level Island AK CO36
9/30/15 1300 396 CMJ Ketchikan AK CO45
9/30/15 1300 391 EEF Sisters Island AK CO28
9/30/15 1300 372 FPN Fredericks Point AK CO36
9/30/15 1300 266 ICK Annette Island AK CO45
9/30/15 1300 414 IME Mt. Edgecumbe AK CO27
9/30/15 1300 394 RWO Kodiak AK BO37
9/30/15 1300 209 CYT Yakataga AK BP80
9/30/15 1300 390 HBT Sand Point AK AO95
9/30/15 1300 358 SIT Sitka AK CO26
9/30/15 1300 350 VTR McGrath AK BP22
9/30/15 1300 338 CMQ Campbell Lake AK BP41
9/30/15 1300 429 BTS Dillingham AK BO08
9/30/15 1300 233 ALJ Johnstone Point AK BP60
9/30/15 1300 212 CGL Coghlan Island AK CO28
9/30/15 1300 223 AFE Kake AK CO36
9/30/15 1300 229 AKW Klawock AK CO35
9/30/15 1300 283 DUT Dutch Harbor AK AO63
9/30/15 1300 245 HNS Haines AK CO29
9/30/15 1300 347 DJN Delta Junction AK BP74
9/30/15 1300 411 ILI Iliama AK BO29
9/30/15 1300 277 ACE Homer AK BO49
9/30/15 1300 355 AUB King Salmon AK BO18
9/30/15 1300 524 MNL Valdez AK BP61
9/30/15 1300 382 JNR Unalakleet AK AP93
9/30/15 1300 281 CRN Cairn Mountain AK BP21
9/30/15 1300 385 EHM Cape Newenham AK AO88
9/30/15 1300 385 OCC Yakutat AK CO09
9/30/15 1300 263 OAY Norton Bay AK AP84
9/30/15 1300 390 AES Northway AK BP29
9/30/15 1300 404 GCR Cordova AK BP70
9/30/15 1300 525 ICW Nenana AK BP54
9/30/15 1300 251 OSE Bethel AK AP90
9/30/15 1300 341 ELF Cold Bay AK AO85
9/30/15 1300 248 GLA Gulkana AK BP72
9/30/15 1300 376 PVQ Deadhorse AK BQ50
9/30/15 1300 379 IWW Kenai AK BP40
9/30/15 1300 399 SRI St. George AK AO56
9/30/15 1300 359 ANI Aniak AK BP01
9/30/15 1300 272 UTO Utopia Creek AK BP35
9/30/15 1300 275 CZF Cape Romanzof AK AP61
9/30/15 1300 529 FDV Nome AK AP74
9/30/15 1300 391 EAV Bettles AK BP46
9/30/15 1300 346 OLT Soldotna AK BP40
9/30/15 1300 347 TNC Tin City AK AP65

There were several missing from the list ... but I classify them as 'third-tier' beacons since propagation needs to be even better than it was on Tuesday to hear them. These are beacons that are either suffering from terrible locations, small inefficient antenna / ground systems or in need of maintenance. I also have a list of Alaskans that have never been heard at all outside of Alaska but are known to be on the air according to recent FAA online information. It is these last two groups that keep me watching and waiting ... for those magic mornings that happen only once or twice per year.

From what I can surmise by scouring the FAA information, there are presently 77 active NDBs in Alaska, including the ones not heard down here. If you live in Alaska, and can take a listen on the NDB band, I'll send you the ones I'm not sure about. If anyone else wants a list of all of the beacons up there, with detailed frequency information, drop me an e-mail and I will send you a three-page pdf.

Here are some signal samples, recorded on Tuesday morning, of some of the 'second-tier' (not heard every morning) signals from Alaska.


                PVQ - 376 kHz  Put River (Deadhorse), Alaska

               OAY - 263 kHz  Norton Bay (Moses Point), Alaska

                                ILI - 411 kHz  Iliamna, Alaska

With the sun getting quieter and quieter, conditions on the NDB band should continue to get better and better over the next several years ... let's just hope that the NDBs are still around long enough to enjoy the solar-quiet benefits.

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