Monday, 4 July 2022

Neophyte Twins - An Update


Blog readers may recall my last two construction projects, the ‘Neophyte’ 1-tube regenerative receiver and a matching ‘Neophyte’ 1-tube crystal-controlled transmitter. The receiver turned out to be an exceptionally good performer once some slight tweaks were made to the original design published back in 1968.

It worked so well that I then decided to build a simple 1-tube transmitter to physically match the receiver and put together another circuit from the 60s using a 5763. Once I had the pair working well together, I set myself a goal of Worked All States on 40m CW with the tiny pair. I had a tremendous amount of fun during the cold winter nights and slowly worked my way through the list of states, eventually working and confirming all 50 states.
 



When the winter of ‘21-‘22 rolled around, I did another silly thing and set the goal of yet another Worked All States, this time on 80m CW which would offer a much bigger challenge for the little pair.
 
Over a period of about 7 months I once again managed to work all 50 states, mainly all on 3560kHz, with most of the contacts being made shortly before or shortly after my dinner hour of 1800 local time. There turned out to be a lot of good ears out there and fine bunch of great CW ops, all able to pull my signal through the noise. It was fascinating to hear the difference in propagation from one night to the next while operating at the same time period each night. Most nights produced no new states as they seemed to come in bunches, with December 9, 2021 being particularly good, producing IA, ID, MI, ME, PA and AL, while February 21, 2022 brought NH, MS and AK.
 
After working all 50 states, it took several more weeks to gather all of the prized cards.
 

80m WAS QSLs - thanks guys!

Looking back at the past two winters of nightly CW fun, it’s nice to recall just how much pleasure was derived from such a tiny investment in construction time, let alone cost. Everything, including the unused mini-boxes, was found in my parts collection with the exception of the 5763 tube in the transmitter. My junk box has been growing ever since my interest in radio began as a pre-teen back in the late 50s, smitten with the magic of radio. Fancy multi-thousand dollar radios offer truly amazing performance, but for me, can often make things too easy, removing much of the magic.
 
Next winter’s new one-tube project, circa 1936, is now in the mock-up testing phase and should provide some challenging DX fun on 10, 15 and 20m as Solar Cycle 25 breaths new life into the higher bands … stay tuned for an update soon!

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Hunting For NDBs In CLE281

YIV-300 Island Lake, MB (ve3gop.com)


It's CLE time once again. This is a challenge for all newcomers to NDB listening and the ultimate test of your medium frequency receiving capabilities. Can you meet the challenge?

'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 a little different this time, with beacon hunters asked to report NDBs heard on any and all of the 10kHz markers only ... ie. 350, 360 ..

central target for listeners in North America is YIV - 300 kHz in Island Lake, Manitoba. Listen for YIV's upper sideband on 300.401 kHzYIV's 500 watts is widely heard throughout North America and has been logged in Europe. Can you find it?

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, transmitted on 365 kHz and its upper sideband CW identifier was tuned at 366.025 kHz while its lower sideband CW ident could be tuned at 363.946 kHz. Its USB tone was actually 1025 Hz while its LSB tone was 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 organizers comes the following CLE info:

Hello all,

Here are all the details for this weekend's co-ordinated listening event.

This one will be a bit different - we shall be trying out a new kind of ‘Special’. 

 Days:      Friday 24 June - Monday 27 June

 Times:    Start and End at midday, your LOCAL time

 Target:   NDBs with nominal (published) frequencies of:

                       200, 210, 220, 230, ………. . .  , 1630 kHz

                 i.e. the NDBs on any/all of the 10 kHz markers

                 but none on other frequencies (including nnn.5)

We hope this will provide a few more (mid-summer) NDBs than usual for Northern Hemisphere listeners - and for sure a (mid-winter) bonus for Southern Hemisphere listeners who always have relatively few NDBs within range. 

The usual ‘rules’ for log-making will apply.  First-time CLE logs, short or long, will also be very welcome, wherever you are listening from.

Please log the NDBs you can positively identify that are listed on the ‘ ---0.0 kHz’  frequencies, plus any UNIDs heard there too.

Send your CLE log to ndblist@groups.io with  CLE281  and  FINAL  at the start of its title.

Please show on EVERY LINE of your log:

 

   # The date 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 any optional details such as the NDB's Location, Distance, Offsets, Cycle time, etc.

As always, make your log meaningful to everyone by including your listening location and details of the receiver, aerial(s), etc.

It would be OK to use one remote receiver, with the owner's permission if necessary, provided that ALL your loggings for the CLE are made using it.

Joachim or I 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 Wed. 29th June.

We hope to complete making the combined results within a day or two.

You can find all CLE-related information from our CLE page ( http://www.ndblist.info/cle.htm ).

Good listening

 Brian & Joachim

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, 3 June 2022

FT8 and the Magic Band

Now that 6m is in full swing once again, many of you will be operating FT8 on 6m for the first time! Things are a little different on 6m compared to operating FT8 on HF and here are a few things for newcomers that might help to keep you out of the naughty corner! (originally published in 2020 but still important today)

 

 

Today’s blog is directed to those that may be new to 6m or new to using FT8 on 6m. Some of the things discussed will make your experience on the magic band better for you and better for your neighbors.

Unlike using FT8 on the HF bands, 6m presents some different challenges, especially if you operate in a region where there may be a lot of other locals also using the band at the same time.


Although the weak-signal capability of FT8 has made it possible for many smaller stations or those with makeshift antennas to take advantage of the unique propagation 6m has to offer, it also can create problems for other users of the band when used inappropriately. In regions of dense population, even small stations can create very high local signal levels, often making it impossible for their neighbors to hear weak signals. This is not deliberately-caused QRM but arises when some operators operate 'against the flow’ and transmit on the opposite ‘sequence’ to everyone else in their local area.

On HF, one can transmit or listen on whatever time sequence they wish. Choosing ‘TX 1st’ or ‘TX 2nd’ is usually determined by who you hear calling CQ or who you wish to work. On 6m however, in a densely-populated region of local operators, chosing to transmit whenever you want to is a luxury that can create big problems for your neighbor who may be trying to hear that weak DX signal while you are transmitting!

These problem will not occur if everybody in the region uses and follows the same transmit-receive periods, so that everyone is listening or everyone is transmitting at the same time ... one or the other. Unfortunately, this ‘ideal’ system falls apart easily when one or more of your neighbors is not using the same sequence as everyone else.

For the past few years, a protocol that seeks to alleviate this problem has become popular and well accepted by those familiar with it. Those new to 6m may not know about it or understand the reasoning behind it.

Above all, I would urge new users of the band, or to the FT8 mode, to first listen carefully for a few minutes, before beginning operation, to determine what the majority of stations in their local region are using for sequencing. If they are using ‘TX 1st’, then your choice of ‘TX 2nd’ will likely cause hearing difficulty for many others, as well as for yourself.

Although there are no strict rules, there is a very successful and well-practiced protocol, and that is that the ‘easternmost’ station transmits on ‘1st’ while the ‘western end’ goes 2nd’. This is why you will hear most eastern stations in the morning hours transmitting ‘2nd’, as they are usually calling or looking for Europeans to their east, who are transmitting ‘1st’. By the same token, you will also hear western stations transmitting on '2nd', who are also looking for Europe to their east, transmitting on ‘1st’.

This sequencing protocol usually reverses later in the day when signals from Asia become a possibility, and all North Americans then become the ‘easternmost’ stations and will transmit on the ‘1st’ sequence ... unlike in the morning. I can easily see how newcomers to the band could become confused, when they hear both sequences being used! The best thing, once again, is to listen carefully first and then ‘go with the flow’.

You can read about the UK's Six Metre Group's initiatives regarding these protocols HERE.

OK... so you’re not interested in EU or Asia? Then it shouldn’t matter to you which sequence that you use and best operating practice would again be to ‘go with the flow’ in consideration of other users.

A few days ago I saw a prime example of exactly what not to do, in too many respects. I made a posting on the ON4KST 6m chat page that VE1SKY in NS (Nova Scotia) was being decoded here, mainly to alert others in my region that European signals might be coming next, as hearing the VE1s in BC is often an indicator that the European path is building.

In less than a minute, an S9+ local began calling ‘CQ NS’ on the exact opposite sequence of all others ... effectively blocking the waterfall and any possible hope of hearing weak EU signals. I’m sorry, but this is just terrible operating procedure, with almost zero chance of success, while showing no consideration for nearby users.

Just like working DX on CW or on phone, the best way, as it always has been, is to ‘listen, listen and then listen some more’. You will work FAR more DX by listening and calling at the right time, than you will by calling CQ.

I also see some local stations everyday, calling endless CQs, often for over 60 minutes straight and often with many replies that go unnoticed. With FT8, one can check ‘work 1st’, go away, and return later to see who they might have ‘worked’. Perhaps this is what these operators are doing, but they should understand that they are also creating non-stop QRM for other users ... those that choose to listen carefully to the band rather than to endlessly CQ. Once again, this is just poor practice.

You may argue that if nobody called CQ, then there would be no contacts made. There is nothing wrong with a few CQs but CQing for an hour? And don’t worry, there will always be other stations CQing endlessly for you to hear, even if it’s not a great way to operate.

With a little pre-planning for sequencing and consideration for your neighbors, everyone can and should be able to enjoy 6m FT8 with very few problems ... and that is my hope for all of us.

After forty-eight summers of CW and phone on 6m and two summers on FT8, these are some of my initial thoughts on how to best operate for maximum success and consideration for other band-users.

The latter is part of the basic framework upon which amateur radio was originally established, when back in 1914, the ARRL described in their 'Code of Conduct' for amateurs ... "The Amateur is Gentlemanly. He never knowingly uses the air for his own amusement in such a way as to lessen the pleasure of others." 

Now, let the magic, and the pleasure, continue!


Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Hunting For NDBs in CLE280

  


It's CLE time once again. This is a challenge for all newcomers to NDB listening and the ultimate test of your medium frequency receiving capabilities. Can you meet the challenge?

'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 back to an 'almost normal' activity but with a slightly wider frequency span: 350.0 - 369.9 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, transmitted on 365 kHz and its upper sideband CW identifier was tuned at 366.025 kHz while its lower sideband CW ident could be tuned at 363.946 kHz. Its USB tone was actually 1025 Hz while its LSB tone was 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 organizers comes the following CLE info:

Hello all

Our 280th Co-ordinated Listening Event is almost here.

Can new 'listening eventers' join in too?   YES, PLEASE! 

Joachim and I are always pleased to help first-time CLE logs through the harvester program.

 

     Days:     Friday 27 May - Monday 30 May

     Times:   Start and End at midday, your LOCAL time

     Range:   350.0 - 369.9 kHz   

 

Please log all the NDBs you can identify that are listed in this range (it includes 350 kHz but not 370) plus any UNIDs that you come across there.

You can find full information to help you, including seeklists made from REU/RNA/RWW, by going to the CLE page http://www.ndblist.info/cle.htm and clicking on  CLE Seeklist  there.

 

Please send your 'Final' CLE log to the List, if possible as a plain text email and not in an attachment and - important - with 'CLE280' and 'FINAL'

in its title.

Please show the following main items FIRST on EVERY line of your log:

 

  #   The full Date (e.g. 2022-05-27) or just the day (e.g. 27)

         and UTC (the day changes at 00:00 UTC).

  #   kHz - the beacon's nominal published frequency, if you know it.

  #   The Call Ident.

 

Optional details such as Location and Distance go LATER in the same line.

Please always include details of your own location and brief details of the receiver, aerial(s), software  and any other equipment you were using.

 

Joachim or I will send the usual 'Any More Logs?' email at about 20:00 UTC on Tuesday so you can check that your log has been found OK.

Make sure that your log has arrived at the very latest by 08:00 UTC on Wednesday 1 June.   We hope to make all the combined results within a day or so.

 

Good listening

   Brian

-------------------------------------------------------------------

From:      Brian Keyte G3SIA        ndbcle'at'gmail.com

Location:  Surrey,  SE England       (CLE coordinator)

-------------------------------------------------------------------

 

(Reminder:  If you wish you can use a remote receiver for your loggings, stating its location and owner -  with their permission if required.

A remote listener may NOT also use another receiver,  whether local or remote, to obtain 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 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, 28 April 2022

Crystal Radio Listening Event



Do you have a crystal radio, homebrew or otherwise? If so and you haven't used it for awhile, here's a great opportunity to try it out again!

Facebook's Crystal Radio DX Contest Group ran a DX contest back in January but participation was fairly limited. After polling the group, it seemed that more members were interested in 'just listening' rather than competing in a contest. With this in mind along with the propagation moving into summer-like conditions, the upcoming non-contest Crystal Radio Listening Event two-night activity will take place on May 13 & 14th (Friday & Saturday). With virtually no rules and no category restrictions, it is hoped that more crystal radio users will be encouraged to enter by listening and reporting to the group what they were able to hear. 

If you are already a group member, please join in the discussion before, during and after the event and don't forget to post your log ... even if you heard just one station! As well, please indicate what you were using with a short description of your receiver and antenna. If you can include a photo, even better! Your participation will hopefully motivate others and generate more interest in crystal radio building and usage. If you are not a member of the group, new members are always welcome!

The only real 'rule' for this event is that your system must be a traditional 'passive' crystal receiver  ... that is, no amplification of the signal can take place. Other than that, your receiver can be as simple or as complex as you like.

For non-members, your log and description can be sent to my mailbox indicated at the bottom. Please feel free to post a link to this blog to anyone or any group that you feel may have interest in participating. If you have further questions please ask in the comment section below or in the group chat. 

I hope you are able to participate in the May listening event.



Wednesday, 20 April 2022

Hunting For NDBs In CLE279

 


It's CLE fun time once 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.
 
It's back to an 'almost normal' activity but with a slightly wider frequency span: 320.0 - 334.9 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, transmitted on 365 kHz and its upper sideband CW identifier was tuned at 366.025 kHz while its lower sideband CW ident could be tuned at 363.946 kHz. Its USB tone was actually 1025 Hz while its LSB tone was 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 organizers comes the following CLE info:

Hello all,

 

Here are all the details for this weekend's co-ordinated listening event.

First time CLE logs too?  Yes, please! 

Short logs are always as welcome as long ones.

 

     Days:      Friday 22 April - Monday 25 April

     Times:    Start and End at midday, your LOCAL time

     Range:    320.0 - 334.9 kHz

 

Please log the NDBs you can positively identify that are listed in the frequency range, plus any UNIDs heard there too.

 

Send your CLE log to ndblist@groups.io with CLE279 and FINAL at the start of its title.

Please show on EVERY LINE of your log:

 

  # The date 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 any optional details such as the NDB's Location, Distance, Offsets, Cycle time, etc.

As always, make your log meaningful to everyone by including your listening location and details of the receiver, aerial(s), etc.

It would be OK to use one remote receiver, with the owner's permission if necessary, provided that ALL your loggings for the CLE are made using it.

 

Joachim or I 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 Wed. 27th April.

We hope to complete making the combined results within a day or two.

 

You can find all CLE-related information from our CLE page ( http://www.ndblist.info/cle.htm ), including a link to the seek lists provided for this Event from the Rxx Database.

 

Good listening

    Brian & Joachim

---------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Brian Keyte G3SIA          ndbcle'at'ndblist.info

Location: Surrey, SE England     (CLE co-ordinator)

---------------------------------------------------------------------


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!

 

Monday, 28 March 2022

DX Central's MW Frequency Challenge

 


If you like DXing the broadcast band, then the weekly ‘DX Central MW Frequency Challenge' may be of interest to you. It’s run and organized by Loyd Van Horn, W4LVH, a dedicated DXer and a big promoter of BCB DXing.

Basically, participants are asked to listen on the chosen frequency for a one week period and report what they have been able to identify. Results of course will be different throughout the continent but if you are near any other listeners, it’s always fun to compare your final results.

The new frequency (or frequencies) are announced Sunday evening around 0100Z on Loyd's regular live-feed Youtube channel as well as on his Twitter feed   @dxcentral 


Loggings are reported via a fill-in form which is updated weekly.


As well, information on most aspects of AM BCB DXing can be found on Loyd’s website.



Hopefully you can give it a shot during the week and see what you can catch. 

 

                               This week’s frequency is 1450 kHz.




Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Hunting For NDBs In CLE 276

ZQT-263 Thunder Bay, ON (tnx ve3gop.com)

It's CLE fun time once again. How quickly time zooms by. 

 
'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 back to an 'almost normal' activity but with a slightly wider frequency span: 260.0 - 269.9 kHz AND 440.0 - 1740.0 kHz.

A 'mid-continent target' for listeners in North America is ZQT - 263 kHz in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Listen for ZQT's upper sideband on 263.390 kHz. ZQT's 50 watts is widely heard throughout North America.

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, transmitted on 365 kHz and its upper sideband CW identifier was tuned at 366.025 kHz while its lower sideband CW ident could be tuned at 363.946 kHz. Its USB tone was actually 1025 Hz while its LSB tone was 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 organizers comes the following CLE info:


Hello all,

Here's your chance to join in this coming weekend's Coordinated Listening
Event which uses some unusual and challenging frequencies.
Any first-time CLE logs will also be very welcome, however modest.

    Days:     Friday 28 Jan. - Monday 31 Jan.
    Times:   Start and end at midday, local time at the receiver.
    Target:  Normal NDBs  (not NAVTEX or amateur beacons)

      QRG:   260.0  -   269.9 kHz
      plus:    440.0  - 1740.0 kHz

Please log the NDBs you can identify that are listed in those ranges, plus
any UNIDs that you come across there.

North America has a modest number of active NDBs in both ranges.
For Europe listeners there are LOTS of targets in the HF range, but they are
mostly well to the east, many of them also competing with strong
Broadcasting Stations. Australia has a few NDBs in both ranges.

You can find all the details of the beacons in these ranges, lists and maps,
if you go to  http://www.ndblist.info/cle.htm  and click on the 'CLE
SEEKLIST' link.

If you are disappointed by having very few likely targets, maybe you could
listen instead via a remote receiver located nearer to the action?  By doing
that many of us could have some very nice surprises, especially listening in
these extreme frequencies.   See  kiwisdr.com  - and please also see the
important footnotes below.

Send your final CLE log to the List, preferably as a plain text email, not
in an attachment, with CLE276 and FINAL at the start of its title.
Please show on EVERY LINE of your log:

  #   The full Date (or Day no.)  e.g. '2022-01-28' (or just '28')
        and UTC (the day changes at 00:00 UTC)
  #   kHz (the beacon's nominal published frequency if you know it)
  #   The Call Ident.

Other optional details - Location, Distance, etc. - go LATER in the same
line (or in footnotes).   If you can give any extra details about new UNIDs,
especially strong ones that may be near to you (maybe their approximate
direction, etc.) it will help us to discover more about them.  Please make
your log useful to old and new members alike by ALWAYS including your own location and brief details of the equipment and aerial(s) that you were
using.

We will send an 'Any More Logs?' email at about 20:00 UTC on Tuesday evening so you can check that your log has been found OK.
To be included in the combined results your log must arrive at the very
latest by 09:00 UTC on Wednesday 2 Feb.

We hope to complete making the Combined Results within a day or two.

Good listening



  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, either local
  or remote, to make further loggings for the same CLE.

  Joachim has put together some very helpful guidance on remote
  listening using the Kiwi SDRs, WebSDRs, etc. - he'll be posting it
  to NDB List before the start of the CLE.


------------------------------------------------------------------

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!

 

Friday, 14 January 2022

January's Crystal Radio DX Contest

 

The first time I was involved with a crystal radio DX contest was about 20 years ago when I built a well-performing crystal receiver for the Yahoo Crystal Radio Group's annual DX contest. It was a great learning experience and taught me much about circuit losses and how to overcome them. I originally built several sets but was unable to hear anything other than local stations until I eventually figured things out ... the system was only as good as its weakest link or links!


Fast forward to more recently when I obtained and wrote about the Heathkit CR-1 Crystal Radio, a simple but very well-designed tuner that has become popular with collectors. Using the CR-1 re-kindled my interest in the DX contest activity of years ago and when talking with two other amateurs that had an interest as well (one had also been in the earlier contests sponsored by the Alabama Crystal Radio Group), we decided to bring the contest back once again. The Facebook Crystal Radio DX Contest Group was formed last fall, a set of rules drawn up and the contest date set for the first week of January of this year. This gave interested participants plenty of time to build something they could use in the contest.

I spent all of December designing and constructing a new contest radio, hopefully one with enough selectivity to get around the 15 local flamethrowers (10-50kW S9++ signals) that plague the band for me and eventually drove me from crystal radio activities.

The new radio makes use of several 'traps' to null strong signals ... two are in the antenna line while one is loosely coupled inductively to the detector tank circuit. The two inline trap coils are wound with Litz wire on ferrite toroids (R40C1) while the third is a basket-wound Litz coil (660/46) on a 4" diameter form.


The antenna tuning stage also uses the same ferrite material but in the rod / bar form. I wound a low-end as well as a high-end coil for the tuner using the same high-count Litz as on the big trap coil. The low-end coil is wound on a bundle of three rods while the high-end coil uses a single rod.

Antenna tuner

The detector stage uses another Litz coil with this one being solenoid-wound on a 4" diameter form. Both the antenna tuner and the detector use excellent quality hi-Q ceramic insulated air variable capacitors (18-360 pfd). All components that handle RF are insulated from the plywood bases in order to reduce losses. Moving a capacitor from the plywood to the insulated standoffs makes a noticeable difference, something learned the hard way years ago but actually measured while using the new radio.

Detector stage
 

The detector also has provisions for comparing various diodes as not all diodes are created equal ... not even all diodes with the same number! When testing and comparing diodes of the same type such as the popular 1N34 germanium, every once in awhile one of them will turn out to be noticeably more sensitive than the others. In my built-in B-A-C diode test module, the hottest diode is always mounted in middle-position A, making it easy to quickly compare by switching to the left for B or to the right for C. So far the best one I have found is the vintage Russian D18 germanium diode but an old 1N34 removed years ago from a 1950s-era Heathkit has given it a good run for the money! I've still several hundreds of early germanium diodes, pulled from old diode matrix boards years ago, to test against the D18 as well as numerous Schottky diodes.

Also on board the detector module is a Selectivity Enhancement Circuit (SEC) that increases selectivity by unloading some of the diode's effect on the detector coil, similarly to tapping the diode further down the tank coil. It uses a small butterfly capacitor seen to the right of the main tuning capacitor in the photo above. I found it extremely effective when needed and is well worth the addition to a high-performance tuner.

The detector stage is followed by an impedance-matching transformer for the sound-powered headphones. This stage also houses a 50uA meter to measure diode current / signal strength levels.



 

 

The meter can be switch-bypassed to prevent needle-bounce on stronger signals. It is particularly helpful when using the traps to null a signal to the minimum level.

 

 

The three traps utilized have been very effective in eliminating what I had originally perceived as an impossible DXing situation.

Here are the daytime-power signal strengths of my 15 line-of-site blowtorch stations that, without trapping, very effectively block most sections of the band. Anything over 50uA is ear shattering and problematic, usually requiring the use of all 3 traps:

             KVRI 1600 50uA
             KRPI 1550 100uA
             CJVB 1470 40uA
             CFTE 1410 350uA
             CHMB 1320 100uA
             CJRJ 1200 400uA
             CKWX 1130 300uA
             CKST 1040 90uA
             CKNW 980 150uA
             KGMI 790 100uA
             CHMJ 730 450uA
             CBU 690 650uA
             CISL 650 200uA
             CKSP 600 100uA
             KARI 550 100uA

Overall I was very pleased and surprised at the good performance of the new radio. During the contest period I identified and logged 92 unique stations in 16 states / provinces. More than one station was logged on 9 different frequencies as the propagation varied from night to night.

Highlights of the DX Contest were hearing WHAS in Kentucky (2,007 miles), WJR in Michigan (1,970 miles), KXEL in Iowa (1,556 miles), WCCO in Minnesota (1,423 miles) and CBW-990 in Winnipeg, smack up beside local blowtorch CKNW-980! Additionally, hearing Washington state 250 watter KFLD-870 and 250 watt KWBY-940 in Oregon were great surprises.


I found the use of a spotter radio (Sony ICF-2010) to be very useful in locating signals to target and to zero-beat with an RF signal generator. The generator’s tone-modulated signal can then be tuned in and the xtal radio and antenna / detector stages optimized. 

From here, any pest signals are then tuned to and individually nulled using the traps while watching the signal meter. Antenna and detector stages are then re-tweaked before disabling the generator and listening for the desired signal. 

Often it is heard immediately following the above tuning procedures but if not, monitoring the frequency for several minutes often allows time for the weak signal to fade up to audible levels. 

Comparing programming audio with what is heard on the spotter radio will confirm hearing the correct signal as will comparing audio to the station’s own live-feed on the internet.


Due to the larger and much better antenna (inverted-L 70’ x 100’) on the crystal radio, I would often hear good audible signals on it and not on the spotter (something that I found surprising) so often times it was productive to just tune around the band on the crystal radio, tweaking stages as required.


I’m looking forward to further improvements of the tuner as well as to the next DX Contest whenever that will be scheduled ... hopefully you can join in as well!

 
CONTEST LOG (pests in red)

                    FREQ UTC    STN    LOCATION    MI      

540    3:50    CBK    Watrous, SK    764      
550    1:04    KARI    Blaine, WA    25      
560    1:30    KPQ    Wenatchee, WA    168      
570    3:45    KVI    Seattle, WA    107      
580    3:42    KIDO    Nampa, ID    492      
600    1:17    CKSP    Vancouver, BC    32      
610    4:15    KONA    Kennewick, WA    271      
620    1:22    KPOJ    Portland, OR    241      
630    3:40    CHED    Edmonton, AB    530      
630    21:10   KCIS    Edmonds, WA    87      
650    1:05    CISL    Richmond, BC    24      
660    3:30    CFFR    Calgary, AB    693      
660    21:23   KAPS    Mt. Vernon, WA    52      
670    3:25    KBOI    Boise, ID    807      
690    1:06    CBU    Vancouver, BC    19      
710    3:21    KIRO    Seattle, WA    108      
730    1:02    CHMJ    Vancouver, BC    22      
750    3:55    KXTG    Portland, OR    243      
760    4:01    WJR    Detroit, MI    1970      
770    3:17    KATL    Miles City, MT    831      
780    4:00    KKOH    Reno, NV    658      
790    1:07    KGMI    Bellingham, WA    39      
810    4:05    KGO    San Francisco, CA    786      
820    1:59    KGNW    Seattle, WA    106      
830    2:20    WCCO    Minneapolis, MN    1423      
840    4:10    CFCW    Camrose, AB    530      
840    4:00    WHAS    Louisville, KY    2007      
850    4:20    KOA    Denver, CO    1118      
850    1:12    KHHO    Seattle, WA    121      
860    3:48    CBKF    Saskatoon, SK    758      
860    1:04    KPAM    Troutdale, OR    226      
870    4:30    KFLD    Pasco, WA    266      
880    1:17    KIXI    Seattle, WA    102      
890    4:35    CJDC    Dawson Creek, BC    494      
900    4:38    CKBI    Prince Albert, SK    810      
910    4:40    CKDQ    Drumheller, AB    468      
920    4:42    KXLY    Spokane, WA    285      
930    1:50    KBAI    Bellingham, WA    37      
940    4:45    CJGX    Yorkton, SK    940      
940    0:58    KWBY    Woodburn, OR    256      
950    4:50    KJR    Seattle, WA    106      
960    4:52    CFAC    Calgary, AB    444      
970    4:55    KBUL    Billings, MT    722      
980    1:08    CKNW    New Westminster, BC    32      
990    4:58    CBW    Winnipeg, MB    1156      
1000  3:45    KOMO    Seattle, WA    105      
1010  4:59    CBR    Calgary, AB    453      
1020  0:54    KWIQ    Moses Lake, WA    216      
1030  5:06    KTWO    Casper, WY    918      
1040  1:09    CKST    Vancouver, BC    23      
1050  5:10    CJNB    N Battleford, SK    707      
1060  5:07    CKMX    Calgary, AB    441      
1070  5:10    cfax    Victoria, BC    33      
1080  0:33    KFXX    Portland, OR    232      
1090  1:40    KFNQ    Seattle, WA    109      
1100  3:55    KFAX    San Francisco, CA    779      
1110  5:15    KRPA    Oak Harbor, WA    48      
1120  0:48    KPNW    Eugene, OR    340      
1130  1:10    CKWX    Vancouver, BC    22      
1140  5:20    CHRB    High River, AB    443      
1150  5:50    CKFR    Kelowna, BC    185      
1160  5:53    KSL    Salt Lake Cty, UT    781      
1170  1:11    KPUG    Bellingham, WA    39      
1180  5:09    KOFI    Kalispell, MT    416      
1190  5:55    KEX    Portland, OR    241      
1200  1:12    CJRJ    Vancouver, BC    23      
1260  5:58    CFRN    Edmonton, AB    522      
1290  6:00    KUMA    Pendleton, OR    306      
1290  6:00    KGVO    Missoula, MT    449      
1320  1:13    CHMB    Vancouver, BC    23      
1360  6:12    KKMO    Tacoma, WA    115      
1370  4:32    KXTL    Butte, MT    535      
1380  6:16    KRKO    Everett, WA    88      
1410  1:14    CFTE    Vancouver, BC    22      
1460  1:55    KUTI    Yakima, WA    207      
1470  1:15    CJVB    Vancouver, BC    25      
1480  1:20    KBMS    Vancouver, WA    227      
1520  1:05    KKXA    Snohomish, WA    88      
1520  1:13    KQRR    Oregon City, OR    241      
1530  4:30    KFBK    Sacramento, CA    698      
1540  1:50    KXPA    Bellvue, WA    102      
1540  4:46    KXEL    Waterloo, IA    1556      
1550  1:16    KRPI    Ferndale, WA    31      
1560  1:14    KVAN    Burbank, WA    272      
1580  6:25    KGAL    Lebanon, OR    297      
1590  1:22    KLFE    Seattle, WA    91      
1600  1:00    KVRI    Blaine, WA    25      
1620  1:30    KYIZ    Renton, WA    111      
1640  6:45    KDZR    Lake Oswego, OR    239      
1660  0:56    KBRE    Merced, CA    812      
1680  1:35    KNTS    Seattle, WA    91      
1690  0:53    KFSG    Roseville, CA    705