Sunday 22 December 2019

Hunting For NDB Pairs In CLE251

A fairly popular CLE event held around this time of the year is the "Noah's Ark" Holiday CLE!

It calls for listeners to hunt down and log pairs of NDBs from as many 'radio countries' as possible.

As explained below, in NA and Australia, states and provinces count as separate 'radio countries' thankfully.

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.

If you've been meaning to participate in  CLE, then maybe this weekend is a fine time to try! We continue to have  a lot of first time submissions so you won't be alone!

As well, if you're trying to learn CW, copying NDBs is perfect practice as the identifier speed is generally slow and the letters are repeated again every few seconds!

This past week has seen a long period of great propagation quickly get worse with the arrival of another coronal hole stream. This is quickly abating and the ionosphere may well have fully recovered for the nine-day event.
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, G3SIA, comes the details:

Hello all

We hope you are looking forward to our "Noah's Ark" Holiday CLE – it
starts at midday on Christmas Day and you can listen at any times
from then right through to midday on Thursday 2nd January.
It's very straightforward. Just as the animals went into the Ark two by two,
so the Radio Countries' NDBs will go into our logs two by two.

    Days:     Wednesday 25th December to Thursday 2nd January
    Times:    Start and End at midday, your LOCAL TIME
    Target:   A maximum of TWO NDBs from each Radio Country
    Range:   190-1740 kHz

So during the course of the event we shall try to log TWO NDBs from each
of as many Radio Countries as we can - e.g. 2 from France, 2 from Spain,
2 from the Florida, 2 from Quebec, 2 from Brazil, 2 from New Zealand, etc.
Each Australian and USA State and each Canadian Province is a separate
Country.  For our full list see:
Each NDB making the pairs can be logged at any times during the event.
UNIDs, Amateur, DGPS and Navtex beacons are not included, but any
UNIDs can be shown in a separate 'non-CLE' list or in a separate email.

Noah didn't have single animals in the Ark, but if you can only log ONE
NDB from a Country, it will still be welcome in your log without a mate!

Everyone is asked to please listen for YOUR OWN NEAREST active NDB
and include it with the one other logging for that Country (if any).

For details of a country’s active NDBs go to
If you are listening from Europe or North America replace the rww by
reu or rna respectively.    Next to 'Locations' enter the State or Country
abbreviation(s), then select 'Only Active’ at the bottom.

Post your final, complete log to the List (please not in an attachment)
with CLE251 and FINAL in the Subject heading, to arrive at the very latest
by 09:00 UTC on Saturday 4th January.

As usual, please include on every line of your log:
    #  Date** and UTC (the day changes at 00:00 UTC)
    #  kHz (the nominal, published, frequency if possible)
    #  Call Ident

Those main log items must be shown FIRST with the country shown
LATER in the same line, together with any other (optional) details
such as location, offset and distance.

  The input program for REU/RNA/RWW does not allocate the month and year.
  The good people who enter the information for us then have to tell the
  program what month and year to use.  That is not a problem IF ALL
  So please help us by making sure you separate your December and
  January loggings, even if it breaks up some Noah pairs.

Where possible, we suggest that logs are in Radio Country order, instead
of in the usual kHz order, so that the country pairs appear together.

We'll send an ANY MORE LOGS? email at about 20:00 UTC on Friday 3rd
January showing whose logs we have found. Try to post your log to the
List before that  so you will get confirmation that it has arrived OK.

Good listening, everyone.  Enjoy the CLE.
And finally, radio or not, Joachim and I wish you a very HAPPY CHRISTMAS.

(CLE Coordinator)

Reminder 1:
This is an ideal event to help you qualify for one or more of Joe Miller's
attractive Award Certificates - they make great "wallpaper" for any
listening shack.  Joe, our Awards Coordinator, invites us to submit
requests. will take you to the
different web pages containing the advice you will need.
Certificates can be ordered direct from the REU-RNA-RWW database.
Now is a good time to apply with so many NDBs going off air.

Reminder 2:
You could use any ONE remote receiver for your loggings, stating its
location and owner - with their permission if required.
( e.g. see )
A remote listener may NOT also use another receiver, whether local
or remote, to obtain further loggings for the same CLE.

These monthly 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

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 good hunting and have a great Christmas!

Monday 16 December 2019

FT8 ... Such A Tease

Looking towards EU over Georgia Strait, last winter

With the continued tsunami of FT8 activity on the HF bands, I decided to have a look at what was happening in the FT8 segment of 160m.

On Saturday afternoon, about ninety minutes before my local sunset here in south west British Columbia, I set my receiver and 160m half-sloper to work, along with WSJT-X, on 1840kHz USB mode.

Although still in broad daylight, the waterfall was immediately flooded with signals! As I started to pay closer attention, I realized that many of the signals were from Europe! Many were audible while the rest were fast-approaching that level, being stronger than -20db. I let the receiver run for another few hours and took a screen capture of my PSK Reporter screen, illustrating what had been decoded over that time span:


Checking other NW or VE7 monitors during the same time span showed no EU decodes at all, which I found surprising ... perhaps I missed someone. My location here on the eastern shoreline of Mayne Island looks towards EU and many other directions directly over a large body of saltwater ocean, Georgia Strait. The photo above was taken last winter, through the living room window. It is also very quiet, electrically, with little or no noise most of the time.

It appears that the lack of man-made noise combined with the theoretical 6db saltwater horizon gain (being realized), is enough to allow these signals to be heard. Signals continued to be decoded as darkness approached but at around 1800 local time, began to drop off ... evidently this appears to be a sunset enhancement, similar to what I often see to the east coast on the 630m band.

Now here’s where it gets even more interesting, as my decodes for the ninety minutes before and after local sunrise indicated a similar pattern!

The most probable path for these signals, around sunrise, would be via the long path in darkness. Although there is no saltwater directly behind me, it seems that the 'quietness' may be enough to do the job. Here’s the slightly post-sunrise screen cap from PSK Reporter:


FT8 is surely a tempting seductress. So far I have resisted the fast-growing urge to spark-up in this mode on 160m ... but I may be growing weaker. This all looks so very interesting.

Saturday 7 December 2019

DXing The Utilities (Part 2)

The following blog was originally posted in 2015 but might still be of interest to anyone with a shortwave radio! Since the migration of HF aero traffic to satellite has been slow, there is still a lot of oceanic traffic to be monitored on the bands, 24/7.


Unlike the growing scarcity of good HF maritime DX targets, there is still a large amount of HF aero activity to enjoy! Even with the move to satellite comms, there is still, at any given time of the day or night, hundreds of aircraft using HF radio to communicate with controllers, companies and home bases. Both commercial aviation and the military, as well as many privately owned aircraft, use the HF communication networks to keep them flying safely. From trans-oceanic 777s' and military transports to single engine float planes in the Canadian Arctic and Alaska, the sky is alive with DXing opportunities!

A huge percentage of commercial aircraft are delegated to moving freight and many of them can be heard on HF radio. Many of the planes in use are retired passenger planes that have been reconfigured for moving cargo. Back when I did this type of listening, older DC-8s seemed to be particularly popular, especially on the nightly South / Central America to Florida routes. I suspect that nowadays, these have been replaced with older DC-10's and 747's.

'FINE AIR 432' was logged on March 24,1996 at 0435Z while working Miami Radio on 6637kHz. The DC8-51F (Freighter) was over Bogota while enroute from Lima to Miami.

'NIPPON CARGO 083', a 747-200F, was logged
on 8891kHz working Baffin Radio. They were reporting position "LT", a waypoint above Alert, at 82-31N / 62-12W, westbound on Polar Track "Quebec".
The freighter was enroute Amsterdam to Anchorage.

The Antonov 124-100 is a gigantic Russian built freighter - capable of transporting in excess of
120 tons. This is aircraft "RA-82045" which was logged as 'HEAVYLIFT 878' in June, 1996.

Operated by Volga-Dnepr, 'HEAVYLIFT 878' was working Dakar (Senegal) Aeradio on 6535kHz reporting FL240 and position 13-14N / 24-26W enroute Cape Verde Islands to Sao Paulo, Brazil.

'AFM 01' was a DC8-55F logged while working Brazzaville Radio (Congo) on 8903kHz. It was at FL350, enroute Harare, Zimbabwe to Kano, Nigeria at the "MPK" waypoint, 250 miles east of Kinshasha, Zaire. Brazzavile was advising of 'crossing traffic, same level...please say intentions'... Yikes!

On another evening I heard the Dakar (Senegal) controller advise a British Speedbird 747 to 'go to flight level 330 ... please go now ... go very very fast'.

'AFM01' (Affretair) was Z-WMJ, shown here on final approach to Gatwick.

'PACIFIC AIR EXPRESS 3517' was heard on 8867kHz working Brisbane Radio while over the Coral Sea. The Lockheed L-188C four-engine turbo prop was enroute Honiara to Brisbane with a load of fresh tuna destined for the Japanese market. N360Q, shown on the ground at Honiara, was leased from the states and operated by Charrak Air.

The U.S. military is still active on HF radio and some interesting catches can be had. During the testing phase of the 'cruise' missile, the missile navigation systems were tested over the Northern Territories and Alberta. Once dropped from their B-52 launch platforms, the missiles were tracked across Alberta by Advanced Range Instrumentation Aircraft (ARIA). 'AGAR 93' was heard on one such mission on 11176kHz. 'AGAR 93' was # 81-0893, an EC-18 (modified Boeing 707) out of Wright Patterson' 4950th Test Wing. According to the aircraft commander who signed my verification, the aircraft was approximately 1 hour S.E. of Namao, Alberta. One can easily see why # 81-0893, shown here, was affectionately known as "The Beast".

'DOOM 81' was a gigantic B-52H from the 96th Bomb Squadron, stationed at Barksdale AFB, LA. The appropriately named big bomber was heard on 11176kHz while working Ascension Radio and was just about to rendezvous with their mid-air refueler when the mission was aborted. This was the first and only B-52 that I was ever able to confirm.


'ROMA 99' was logged on 17975kHz while working Thule Radio. They were taxiing for takeoff at Dulles International in Washington D.C. and reporting a minor fuel-pump problem. 'ROMA 99' was a KC-135R Stratotanker, # 62-003512, from the 509th Air Refueling Squadron at Griffis AFB, NY.

'REACH 71839' was heard on 11176kHz while working Albrook AFB, Alaska. Tail # 65-0239, this 'REACH' flight was an aging C-141B Starlifter, at one point, the Air Force's major transporter. 'REACH 71839', out of McChord AFB, was enroute Brazil to Puerto Rico.

There's still plenty to be heard on HF, outside of the amateur bands and a quick internet search on 'Utility DX' will turn up several interesting and informative sites ... each one having an abundance of related links to follow. Here are some that will be helpful:


A freshly updated list of all active HF aero frequencies. Also check their list of active aero 'callsigns'

If you can catch an aircraft's four-letter SELCAL code, often given during waypoint checks, you can search here for more info on the actual aircraft itself: 

The Milcom Blogspot: