Tuesday 25 August 2020

Hunting For NDBs in CLE259

YPM-274 Pikangikum, ON (ve3gop)

It's CLE time again!

'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 50kHz slice from 270.0 - 319.9 kHz. kHz

A worthy target for listeners in North America is YPM (274Hz) in Pikangikum, in western Ontario. YPM has been logged from coast-to-coast and out to Hawaii. Listen for YPM's upper sideband on 274.361kHz with your receiver in the CW mode.

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. These databases have recently been re-vamped and are slicker than ever before!

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

Hello all

Here are brief details for our 259th co-ordinated listening event next weekend.

It spans a 50 kHz frequency range - about three times wider than usual.

In that range, the Rxx database is showing about 200 active NDBs located in

Europe, 135 in North America, 35 in Oceania and about 250 more, scattered

in other parts of the World.

Days: Friday 28 August – Monday 31 August

Times: Start and end at midday, your LOCAL time

Range: 270.0 - 319.9 kHz (NDB signals only)

Part of the frequency range also has DGPS signals among the NDBs.

We last listened on these frequencies in CLE243 in April 2019.

Any first-time CLE logs will be very welcome, as always.

Please look out for our Final Details on the NDB List website, with full advice on log making, etc.,

in a few days.

Brian and Joachim

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

These listening events serve several purposes. They:

• determine, worldwide, which beacons are actually in service and on-the-air so the newly-re-vamped  Rxx 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 NDB List Group is a great place to learn more about the 'Art of NDB DXing' or to meet other DXers 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!

Thursday 13 August 2020

Some 6m Summer Excitement

With three seasons of FT8 under its belt, there’s no doubt that it's taken over as the number-one mode for the 6m band ... there are very few traces of CW or SSB to be found.

What it hasn’t taken away, is the magic!

For the most part, this summer’s conditions from the west coast were pretty normal, except for when they weren’t ... and when they weren’t, they were pretty spectacular!

The spectacular parts were highlighted by one particularly unique contact that can only be attributed to some heads-up operating skills, a little help from FT8 ... and the unpredictability of Sporadic-E.

On June 20, at 0056Z, K7CW (Paul), south-west of Seattle, nudged his signal all the way to Hong Kong, more specifically, to VR2ZXP’s crowded apartment building. But that’s not the incredible part. That happened when Paul heard and exchanged signal reports with Alfred’s tiny station!

Paul, K7CW

VR2ZXP is located in one of the most densely populated cities on the planet.

Not the best location for weak signal 50MHz DX!

"As I told to Paul, it’s a hard job to be a ham in VR2 Hong Kong especially for the DX. Hong Kong is a high density population city. 99% people are living in apartment only. The housing price here is crazy around US$1800 per sq. feet. Neighborhoods always complain why we setup antennas out of our windows and produce radiation to affect their health. So, what we just can do is to use a small whip with QRO for the QSO. Besides, interference is also serious. Thousands of air conditioner is surrounding me and a power station 132kV to 11kV is just faced to me in 1km away. Here the noise level on low HF band at night is S9."

As indicated above, Alfred’s station is located in a typical high-rise apartment, surrounded by numerous others, with no room for antennas. His solution is to clip a short (60”) whip antenna, horizontally mounted on his balcony railing, similar to this one from 20 years ago ... before being surrounded by noisy high-rise apartment buildings!

I’m not sure which is the most spectacular part of this contact ... that Alfred could detect Paul’s signal in such a noisy environment using such a small makeshift antenna or that Paul was able to copy the tiny signal coming from uptown Hong Kong.

K7CW's 9el - 50' Yagi at 80'
"Anyway, our QSO with Paul is really special. However, I am just a small potato on this story. Without below reason, our QSO may not be success.
1) Paul’s big gun antenna and his station perfect setup.
2) The JT operation mode which introduced by K1JT Mr. Joseph Hooton Taylor. Let me have a chance to say thank you to Joseph."
However, the summertime fun did not stop here. Early on the morning of May 31st, westerners were treated to what some 6m diehards called the best European opening they've ever experienced!
Up on Vancouver Island, John, VE7DAY, was surely glad that he checked the band early, as what followed was a European opening that bounced from one country to another for over 3-1/2 hours! By the time it was over, John had bagged 66 contacts on FT8 and 19 new DXCC entities, including the difficult to work 9H1 in Malta! John's list looks more like 20m CW rather than 50MHz in mid-summer: GM, PA, G, I, DK, 4O, 9H, OM, HG, LA, HB, OE, SM, 9A, MW, YT, OK, LZ, SV!
Long openings like this occur very rarely, making them even more thrilling and can cause even the most experienced 6m DXer’s mouse-hand to tremble with excitement!

Some of VE7DAY's wallpaper from the May 31st opening.

Others up and down the west coast also filled their log pages with ‘new ones’ ... unfortunately my exciter was on the workbench while replacing the screen so I never knew what I had missed until some time later ... probably just as well. I guess I must have been pretty naughty at some point, as the 6m gods definitely singled me out for special punishment that morning.

Once the exciter was back together I was able to catch a few good openings myself, the best of which was early on the morning of June 23 when I was able to work SV9CVY (Crete), SV1DH (Greece) and IS0AWZ (Sardinia).

Crete and Sardinia gave me DXCC #89 and #90. Three days later, during a nice opening to the southern states, J68HZ in St. Lucia snuck through the QRM for #91. After a further three days, on June 29, another very early opening put 8 more Europeans in the log including HA8CE (Hungary) and YU7EF (Yugoslavia) for #92 and #93 respectively.

The band also produced several long openings to Asia, usually in the late afternoon hours. Several contacts were made with South Korean stations, China and dozens with Japan.

All told, the band produced some exciting activity this summer. Countries worked here were:
JA, JW, TG, V31, J68, LA, SM, SV9, SV, IS0, EA, HA, YU, F, 9A5, BG, HL, EA8. Certainly FT8 had much to do with a good portion of the action but it is difficult to say just how much. Many of the Europeans were very strong and could have easily been worked on CW in a matter of a few seconds, rather than the 60 - 75 seconds required for a valid FT8 exchange, assuming there are no repeats. But it's contacts like Paul and Alfred's that continue to validate the special name given to the band ... you just never know what tricks might be next.