Wednesday 26 July 2023

Hunting For NDBs in CLE294

YZS-362 Coral Harbor, NU (

Another month has zoomed by and 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.
With the number of targets slowly being decommissioned, the hunting grounds have been slightly widened ... this month the frequency range is for the NDBs whose published frequencies are between 350.0 - 369.9 kHz

A good target for all NA listeners is powerhouse YZS on 362 kHz, located at Coral Harbor, Nunavut. Listen for its upper sideband CW identifier on 362.402 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 info:

Hello all,

Our 294th Co-ordinated Listening Event is almost here.

First time CLE logs too?  Yes, please! 

Short logs are always as welcome as long ones.

 Days:     Friday 28 July - Monday 31 July

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.

Send your final CLE log to, preferably as a plain text email, not in an attachment and - important - with 'CLE294' and 'FINAL' in its title.


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

#   The Date (e.g. 2023-07-28) or just the day (e.g. 28)

#   The Time in 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 make your log useful to everyone by including your listening location, its 6-character Maidenhead Locator if you know it, and brief details of the receiver and aerial(s).


We will send the usual 'Any More Logs?' email at about 19:00 UTC on Tuesday so you can check that your log has been found OK.

To be included in the combined results, do make sure that your log has arrived on the List by 08:00 UTC on Wednesday 2 August at the very latest.

 We hope to make all the combined results within a day or so.

 You can find full information about current and past CLEs  from the CLE page

You can also find your relevant seeklists made from REU/RNA/RWW by visiting

Good listening

Brian & Joachim

(CLE coordinators)

(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)

CLE's provide 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 6 July 2023

Conjectural Chats


A recent e-mail in the AWA Group from Eddy, VE3CUI, elicited some intriguing comments which you may find of interest. Highlights from the exchanges have been selected for brevity:

Eddy VE3CUI - VE3XZ/3

I'm here at the summer cottage, gamely calling "CQ" with my trusty old Vibroplex Vibrokeyer on what sound like dead bands on 15- and 20-meters...yet, when I check the on-line DX Beacon, my quota of entries at 100 is exhausted from across the continent, and beyond, from monitoring stations that have clearly copied me.

All of a sudden, 15-meters just explodes with CW contestors in the middle of Wednesday afternoon with morse machines all honking out endless "CQ CWT" at some 30+ WPM. I snag some very easy quickie exchanges from "VE7" and "W6" from the west coast --- and then just as suddenly, the contest is over and I'm right back to "CQ...CQ...CQ" in silence again, all in vain.

How very ironic that  self-professed "...devotees" of the CW art and craft --- "CW Tops-Ops" --- can all devote attention to the object of their affection for but one single hour, and in the middle of the week...! Shouldn't they otherwise be gainfully fully employed earning a living, like all of the other non-retirees...?! Otherwise, why "...kiss and run" so, if they really and truly love the mode...?!

I just do not get it, I'm afraid...


Robert KG4KGL:

Well, as for the middle of the week timing, more people work from home now. I guess they stepped away from their work computer and spent an hours snagging some QSOs. 

I work 12 hours, two days for one week and five days the following week, then rinse, lather, and repeat. So on my off days, I am on all the bands looking for QSOs and I hear the silence you speak of, all while registering on various beacons. 


Eddy VE3CUI - VE3XZ/3

I guess that I especially noted the AWOL ops on the CW sub-bands about 3 years ago, or so...about the time that FT8 became all the rage, I s'pose.

But there's a decided absence on the phone bands, too. 

I can appreciate demographics having a hand in our diminished numbers, but this is all akin to outright extinction...! So many times I feel just like "...the last man standing"...     


Steve VE7SL:

I think most of these CW guys you hear during sprints and weekend contests are guys that love contesting more than love CW….making CW music with their laptops, copying and entering the exchange info and then on to the next guy … kind of like a long action-filled video game. In fact I suspect that many of these modern CW sprinters and weekend CW flash-crowd participants were probably weened on video games as there’s a lot in common with those things and watching a scrolling vibrant waterfall of signals, especially if the rest of their week is spent on FT8. I agree with Eddy that the emergence of FT8 coincided perfectly with the sudden demise of CW (and phone) activity that now seems the new normal. It’s boring as hell but seems to mesh nicely with the present generation of no-code hams and those living in condos and apartments with no room for antennas and a ton of noise to contend with.


Eddy VE3CUI - VE3XZ/3

Can you recall --- nostalgically, of course --- reading those QST features on the crucial need of Q-multipliers & crystal lattice filters in our receivers to " combat the crowded congestion on our Ham bands"...?!

I sure do. It all seems so very quaint & innocent from the standpoint of to-day, doesn't it...? "The Lost World".


Steve VE7SL:

Indeed things have changed Eddy and seemingly very quickly. When I was first licenced and up until just a few years ago, a CQ on 7030 at ANY time of the day or night would guarantee an immediate response. Now you can CQ until the cows come home with nary a peep.
Something has also changed with the ionosphere as well over the past decade and I’m not sure why. Are we just seeing the long term effects of a terribly poor solar cycle (24) in spite of the newest one struggling to gain serious momentum? We’ve maybe just been spoiled by a series of above average strength cycles our whole lives up until Cycle 24 but something has changed. Both 40 and 80 go completely silent now on most winter nights, shortly after sunset. What happened to the awakening of the band at sunset? I’ve seen only enough of those the past two winters to count on one hand. It’s all very odd. Thankfully we experienced those bands at their very best, years ago. Hopefully the new cycle will pump them back up again, if that’s the problem. I dare not mention global-warming but it seems to have widespread consequences in the upper atmosphere so one has to wonder … the ionosphere as well?

Eddy VE3CUI - VE3XZ/3

Wow, that's how long I've been AWOL myself from 40- & 80-meters at home --- I had absolutely no idea that both bands were now dead at & after sunset like that...not so much as even a clue. And I'm old enough here to recall getting peeved-off about all of the foreign BC stations that routinely crowded-out SSB QSO's on 40 as it grew dark here.

Like you & so very many others, I too expected the bands in general to "...shape-up back to normal" with the new sunspot cycle --- & I've been waiting now for so very many years that even I've actually forgotten their number...! It just never seems to happen. Is it that oft-cited "Maunder Effect" that we all heard so much about a coupla years ago that's responsible...? And as for global warming's influence, who knows...? We're all still wrapping our heads around how it might affect the climate on the planet, never-mind what might be happening hundreds of miles above its surface. All bets are off in that regard, I think...! But again, who knows, right...?

Anyway, I have the ICOM 751A & groundplane verticals at the ready here at the cottage, & we spend a lotta time here in the summer, too --- so do listen for me in the CW sub-bands, on 40- straight to 10-meters, & all of the WARC bands in between. You can't miss me --- I'll be the guy calling "CQ", with zero takers in response...! 


Jim AJ8S:

Here's an article about changes to the upper atmosphere which might or might not have an impact on ionospheric propagation:

I too have noticed a distinct decline in CQ ops except for the contests.


Steve VE7SL:

That’s a great and somewhat troubling read Jim. Thanks for the link. Although the ionosphere was not singled out, the regions containing it all seem to be getting thinner which might certainly affect propagation behaviours as we’ve come to expect over the past few decades … which seems to be exactly what is happening, at least on the lower bands. In actuality, the amateur radio community might be one of the first to notice any long term changes not particularly explainable by solar activity.


Eddy VE3CUI - VE3XZ/3

A most interesting read, indeed. Does it partially explain, somehow, the state of Ham radio conditions to-day...? Could be...I just dunno. But does anyone else "...get it", for that matter...?

I liken the situation of to-day to that proverbial Monarch butterfly that just alighted onto the bough of that maple tree in your yard: to the insect, that tree has always been there, unquestionably, throughout its lifespan. Which is true --- for its lifespan.

But the reality of it is, that convenient resting spot is in reality a dynamic one, & not a static one. It wasn't there maybe 15 years ago, & it might not be there after the next 30, or so. But the butterfly cares not a whit --- that tree was always, and is always, there. Its limited lifespan will not afford it any other conclusion (assuming that insects can even actually derive any...!). Ditto our human lifespans. Maybe the current environmental trends are all otherwise "...normal" somehow & fit into some sorta pattern that goes well beyond our limited number of years of observation...? 

Again, I dunno --- what I DO know after some 10 years of very serious CW DX pursuit on160-meters, is this: up until about the 2010 winter DX "season" on Top Band, there was always a path, more open than not, to Europe well into the month of March, & beyond. But in the 2010-2011 season, the band essentially slammed shut for regular DX contacts across the Atlantic in the 2011-2012 season it closed its doors in January...& in the 2012-2013 season (when an ice storm here rendered me QRT) the band simply folded for regular trans-Atlantic DX  in December...!

How it has been at any time during the past 9 years, I have no idea. But I definitely witnessed & experienced a creeping steady trend there.

And now I'm witnessing a variation of this same "AWOL"-type stuff on all of the other bands, that started some 3 years ago, & which hows no sign of abating.

What an awful uninspiring time for any newbie to take-up an interest in SWL'ing, or Hamming. There is nothing whatsoever to aspire to --- literally...!


Steve VE7SL:

You haven’t missed much Eddy and like you, the last ‘great’ topband conditions here were the winter of ‘09-‘10. This coincided with the longest and deepest quiet-period from the Sun in as long as they have been keeping records. From the west coast, EU on topband has always been a rare short-lived treat but that winter had me questioning everything I thought I knew about the band. There were several weeks of nightly openings from here to Europe that would often start before my local sunset but the strangest thing was that during this extended period of transpolar activity there were no signals from the USA at all! It was nothing but EU CW from 1840 down to 1800, wall-to-wall and night after night. Signals were of the level often heard on 20m and if I had been tuning around blindfolded I would have guessed that I was listening to 20! I recall calling one exceptionally loud UA1 while running only 10W out and he came right back.

Sadly the following winter saw none of that propagation repeated as Cycle 24 had started to come to life. Even the bottom of Cycle 24 had nothing similar although there were a few good nights where I managed Cyprus, Mauritania and South Africa all on topband. It’s been terrible ever since as have been condx for our beloved ‘29 BK for the past several years, so much to the point where I had decided last year to forgo the work involved in setting-up the ‘29 station and give it a pass. However at the last minute, Lou convinced me to give it another shot. It turned out to be my worst BK ever (!) and what really proves it is that not only did I not work Lou (a first) but I didn’t even hear him, also a first!

[Lou is VE3AWA and the 'BK' is the annual AWA 1929 Style QSO Party]
I don’t know what’s going on with the bands either Eddy but as you say, in our own short lifetime of observation’s perhaps what we are seeing is more like the norm and we were just lucky enough to see several decades of abnormal (great) conditions! It’s all part of the magic of radio in the long run.
BTW, our chat here inspired me to spark-up on 20 CW this afternoon and my first CQ was answered by a 5W mobile down near San Francisco. After him and just to test my theory, I went to 7030 at 2PM and called CQ on 7030 and just about fell off my chair when my first CQ got a Washington state reply! I guess everyone just needs to get on the air and make some CW music rather than sending e-mail :-))


Don VE3LYX: 

Lots of cw activity. NRR group is one very active group. Every monday night. over 2500 members. Straight Key club is another ... U can talk about it or get on the air . Make a sked with a friend BUT IF YOU DO honour Your commitment.  I operate cw sometime every week usually on 40m. 


I think the last comment can go a long way to making the bands busier but with so many distractions that we have in today's world compared with a few decades ago, it's often difficult to squeeze-in some air time ... even when retired!

I found the article regarding the physical changes noted in the upper atmosphere of great interest. My speculation regarding the ionosphere and global-warming may not be so far-fetched after all.

Another propagation oddity that is new (along the lines of my "something has changed" comment) is the annual summer sporadic-e season on 6m. I have been very active every summer on this band since the early 70's but something peculiar began happening in the summer of 2001. In the middle of the ARRL VHF Contest, the band suddenly opened to Europe! This had NEVER happened before from the west coast and a number of 'firsts' were made that morning.

Since then, 50MHz has opened to Europe at least once per summer with these 'over-the-pole' openings becoming somewhat 'normal'. What changed? Some summers will see polar openings for several days in a row, often lasting for several hours as the propagation bounces from one European region to another every minute or (often) less.

For some years now, it has been speculated that this over-the-pole summer propagation is somehow correlated with the formation of Noctilucent Clouds. Interestingly, these clouds follow the same yearly time slot as sporadic-e, almost to the day, with their seasons beginning and ending at the same time each summer! Do the NLCs form the reflective medium needed for 6m propagation between EU and NA or does the same phenomenon that causes polar-e also cause the NLCs? The NLCs usually form in the high Arctic regions, directly associated with our over-the-pole 6m paths.

This summer however, the polar path has been largely non-existent, with just one good polar opening (June 12) so far. Interestingly, a recent newspot in the Spaceweather website pointed out the fact that, this summer, the NLCs have been largely missing in action (!) adding further evidence to their possible link with the polar-e openings. There is still much to be learned about the magic band and its special propagation!