Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Hunting For NDBs In CLE267

YUT - Replulse Bay, NU (courtesy: 
It's CLE time! '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.
It's another 'normal' one again with a 15kHz window -- the hunting ground is 335.0 - 349.9kHz.

Propagation on MF has been both hot and cold for the past few weeks, seemingly depending on where you live and the amount of geomagnetic activity affecting your region. As well, the Sun has been throwing a lot of Coronal Hole Streams toward earth which may or may not affect this weekend's propagation ... but this is all part of the radio-magic fun.

A 'challenge target' for listeners in North America is YUT - 335kHz in Repulse Bay, NU, at the north end of Hudson Bay. Even though running just 25 watts, it's widely heard throughout North America and Europe and is a good target for listeners everywhere. Listen for YUT's upper sideband on 335.406 kHz.

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 the full details for this weekend's co-ordinated listening event.
It is open to everyone including CLE new-comers:

    Days:      Friday 23 April - Monday 26 April

    Times:     Start and end at midday, your LOCAL time

    Range:     335.0 - 349.9 kHz

Wherever you are, please join us and log the NDBs that you can positivelyidentify that are listed in this busy frequency range (it includes 335.0 kHz but not 350 kHz) plus any UNIDs that you come across there.

Very short logs and very long ones are welcome (in-between ones are OK too!)

 Send your CLE log to the List, preferably as a plain text email (not in an attachment) with ‘CLE267 FINAL’ in its subject line.

    Please show on EVERY LINE of your log:

       #  The date (e.g. '2021-04-2
3' or just the day no. '23') and UTC (the day changes at 00:00 UTC).

       #  kHz  (the beacon's nominal published frequency, if you know it)

       #  The Call Ident.

Show those main items FIRST on each line, before other optional details such as Location, Distance, etc.  If you send any interim logs to the
List during the event, please also send your 'FINAL', complete one.

Always make your log interesting to everyone by giving details of the listening location and brief details of the receiver, aerial(s), etc.,that you were using.

We will send the usual 'Any More Logs?' email at about 19:00 UTC on Tuesday so that you can check that your log has been found OK.
Do make sure that your log has arrived on the List at the very latest by 08:00 UTC on Wednesday 28 April.  Joachim and I will then hope
to complete making the combined results within a day or two.

You can check on all CLE-related information from the CLE Page

It includes a link to seeklists for the Event from the Rxx Database.

Good listening
From:      Brian Keyte G3SIA       ndbcle'at'
Location:  Surrey,  SE England      (CLE coordinator)

(REMINDER:  You could use any one remote receiver for your loggings,
stating the location and owner - with their permission if required.
A remote listener may NOT also use another receiver, whether local
or remote, to make further loggings for the same CLE).


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.( e.g. see ) A remote listener may NOT also use another receiver, local or remote, to make more 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 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!


Friday, 9 April 2021

An RF-Quiet LED 'Fluorescent' Bulb




I recently had the fluorescent bulb in one section of the under-cabinet kitchen counter lighting fixture go dark. This wasn’t too surprising as the 24” bulb had been in place since the house was built in 1990!

I purchased the replacement bulb only to find out that it was not the bulb but rather the ballast transformer that had failed.

A search for a suitable ballast replacement turned into a quick education when I learned that these things were quickly disappearing, with many models no longer even being manufactured. Another solution would have to be found and it appeared that fluorescents were bring replaced with, what else ... LED fixtures!

Offering similar brightness and colors as traditional fluorescent fixtures, the LED bulbs came in two basic styles.

One type lets you just pop-in a new LED ballast-compatible bulb and away you go. This is convenient but still wastes energy in the ballast and eventually would require an even harder to find ballast.

The second type is a directly-wired LED replacement, not relying on the ballast transformer at all. Having its own built-in switching power supply, these bulbs connect directly to the 120V AC line normally going to the ballast. It’s a very simple task to snip the 120V AC leads from the faulty ballast and connect them to one end of the bulb’s socket. Now totally disconnected, the original ballast can be left in place as is.

The entire fix took less than 30 minutes ... but how much noise or crud would the switching supply produce in the RF spectrum?

Crossing my fingers, I turned the light 'on' as well as my portable Sony ICF-2010 shortwave receiver. I could hear no noise coming from the radio. I could only detect some RF hash when I put the Sony (with its built-in ferrite bar antenna) right beside the fixture! This was good news and its quiet footprint was confirmed later, out in the shack, with radios connected to much larger antennas.

The bulb I used was a ‘toggled’ product, designed and engineered in Detroit , but I suspect is manufactured, like so many other LED devices, in China. The bulbs are sold in Canada and in the U.S. by Home Depot and possibly others.

If you’re looking for a radio-friendly fluorescent replacement or update, I have no hesitation in recommending these directly-wired LED bulbs from ‘toggled’.

And, if you’re also looking for a ham-friendly light-dimmer, see my previous blog on my own hunt for a noisy next-door neighbour.