Author Archive

Hunting For NDBs In CLE256




CLE 256 will be held this coming weekend and will be somewhat different than normal.






'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 ... but this one is a little different.

This event has been organized around the Maidenhead Locator system and will challenge hunters to log beacons based upon the beacon's FIELD designation. Listeners should seek to log a maximum of five NDBs in each GRID FIELD.

The grid field is actually the first two letters of the grid locator, such as 'CN', 'FN', 'DM' etc., as seen in the map above. Each field itself is divided into 100 GRID SQUARES, but individual grid squares are not relevant for this CLE ... only the fields.

Most amateurs that operate on the VHF bands are very familiar with the 'grid square locator' system and many VHF operating awards and events are focused on working different grid squares. This may all be a new adventure for many non-VHF DXers but it does present a whole new way of keeping track of your catches.

I have always kept track of the grid square locator for all NDB signals that I hear and often find that a signal being heard from one particular square will lead to other beacons being heard (often new catches) from adjacent squares, while propagation is spotlighting that region ... it often pays to keep a grid square map handy while you search the band!

If you are not familiar with the grid square system, it's all pretty simple and this CLE only focuses on the largest part of the system, the FIELD. The first thing you should do is determine your own grid FIELD location, which, for North America, can be found very easily from the map above or anywhere in the world on K7FRY's locator map.

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:

===============================================
Hello all

Here are the Final Details for this weekend's special DX Listening Event.
We'll be listening for up to 5 NDBs in as many Locator FIELDS as we can.
Fields are the first 2 letters of the 6 character locators ('Grid Square').


A World map of all the locator Fields is shown below:


(click map to expand)

You can see, for example, that Field IO includes most of the British Isles.


    Days:     Friday 22nd May – Monday 25th May


    Times:    Midday on Friday to Midday on Monday, LOCAL time at the RX


    QRG:      Normal LF/MF frequencies (190 - 1740 kHz)
    Target:     UP TO 5 NORMAL NDBs IN EACH LOCATOR FIELD (see below)
                    (not DGPS, NAVTEX, Amateur or UNIDs)

    Please also log YOUR NEAREST ACTIVE NDB - that will probably be one
    of the five in your own Field.

Please post your CLE log to the List in a plain text email if possible, with
'CLE256 FINAL' at the start of its title and showing on each log line:

    The full Date ( e.g. 2020-05-22, etc., or just the day number 22 )
    UTC  (The day changes at 00:00 UTC).
    kHz - the NDB's nominal published frequency
    The Call Ident.

As always, put those FOUR MAIN ITEMS FIRST on each log line, with any other optional details such as location and distance LATER in the same line.
There is no need to show the locator Fields (the harvester program will work out all of them and the nearest NDB you logged).

Your log will be easier to read if you group your loggings by Locator Field
and leave a blank separator line between the groups of up to 5 lines for each Field.  If you wish, you could add the 2-letter Field ident (NOTHING ELSE) at the start of each of the separator lines.

UNIDs that you come across may also be of interest - in a SEPARATE part
of your log please.

If you send interim logs, please make sure that you also send a 'FINAL' log
showing ALL your loggings for the CLE.

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


Do make sure that your Final log has arrived on the list by 08:00 UTC on
Wednesday 27th May at the very latest.


Joachim and I hope to complete the combined results within two days or so.

PLANNING YOUR LISTENING

It will really help you to plan your listening if you go to the excellent
Rxx Database  https://www.classaxe.com/dx/ndb/reu  (Europe)
(Replace the 'reu' by 'rna' if you are in North America, 'rww' elsewhere)

THE KEY PLACE to start entering details of what you want is 'Signal

Locations - GSQs'.

Put a 2-letter FIELD id in that box to see all the NDBs in that Field that
have been logged from your part of the World (i.e. EU or NA or other).
You could choose to alter the resulting list in lots of different ways:
 

 Select 'Only active' (bottom right).

 Enter your own Country or State in 'Heard Here'.


 Select a specific listener (yourself?) in 'Logged by' – BUT you might then miss a beacon that you haven’t heard so far.


  Add extra locator Field(s) in the 'GSQs' box, separated by blanks.


   - In ANY of the above, you can select 'Map' instead of 'List' (top right)


  Add your own full locator (6 characters) in 'Distance - From GSQ' to see the distances and bearings from your location.


  In 'Sort By' (bottom line) select GSQ.

Getting cleverer (!) you could use the wild card _ (an underscore) to see
details of all Fields with the same column of Longitude or row of Latitude
e.g.  I_  selects all of locator column I (0  to 20 degrees west),  _O would give all of row O (50 to 60 degrees north).

Good Listening


73  


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

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

  As usual a few of us may choose to listen via a REMOTE RECEIVER,
  with permission if required - its own location will be their temporary
  home Field and its nearest active NDB should be logged, if known.

  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 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 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 and good hunting!

Here Comes The Spring ‘BR’ (Bug Roundup)



The upcoming ‘BR’ will be upon us shortly (more details later), but the pending activity brought back some of my early ‘bug memories’ and the good times as a young ham.


I first learned CW in Boy Scouts at age 12 and was pretty excited since I had been shortwave listening by then for about three years ... finally I was going to know what all those dots and dashes I had been hearing were all about!


Unfortunately, to no fault of our well-meaning Scoutmaster, we all learned it the wrong way ... from ‘flashcards’. This made the learning curve a lot harder but in a few months I was copying code off the air and discovering the exciting new world of amateur radio.

By the time I was old enough to legally get my licence (age 15), I could comfortably copy 40wpm and had no trouble with the required 13wpm test.

Having taken the test day off school for the exam and to travel to downtown Vancouver on the bus, there was nobody in the city happier than me when I walked out of the almost five hour exam as ‘VE7ANP’!

Back then, in ‘63, the exam consisted of five parts and a ‘pass’ was required for all of them or you were sent packing for 30 days. The CW receiving test required 100% copy at 13wpm, with the same speed for the sending test. I think it was for three minutes. Next was a multiple choice test on regulations that consisted of about 50 questions. The fourth section required the (unaided) drawing, in schematic form, of a crystal controlled two-stage transmitter, a simple superhetrodyne receiver, an A.M. modulator, a full-wave power supply, some form of over- modulation indicator and a key-click-filter. The final section was an oral exam, as the examiner made you explain your circuit drawings while he probed with questions that were designed to trip up innocent kids that had foolishly ventured downtown.                                                                                                                                                                
There were two radio inspectors in the office back then, but getting one of them in particular, was the equivalent of drawing the proverbial short-straw ... ‘old man Baxter’.

He was a giant of a man, standing well over six feet tall, suspender-laden with a jowly face and saggy pants ... along with the growl of a drill sergeant. I quickly realized that I may have been better off staying in school that morning, as OM Baxter was sitting behind the desk, waiting for me, when I shakily opened the door marked ‘RADIO EXAMINATIONS’.

As it turned out, the OM loved CW and when I breezed through the CW tests with no glitches and speed to spare, his rough edges vanished as he seemed to warm up to me. I learned later that almost all prospective examinees failed the CW test miserably on their first go and were given a 30 day time-out ... it seemed that my Boy Scout days were paying-off in spite of the numerous mid-winter rain-soaked Scouting equivalents of the Bataan Death March, that put me off of camping for the rest of my life.

For the first several months on the air, I used my venerable old brass handkey that I was very comfortable with. I only wish that my hand-sent CW was as good today as it was back then ... something I should really work on again. Although I could send at a fairly good clip, it wasn’t long before I was working a lot of guys that were sending even faster, with their bugs. Back then, electronic keyers were just starting to dribble onto the scene and most CW diehards were using a Vibroplex, and boy did they sound great!

One of the popular radio-joints of the era was ‘R-P’ (Rendell-Parret Electronics) on 4th Avenue, started by Hedley Rendell, VE7XW and Bill Parett, VE7AM, who lived above the store. For many years on Tuesday nights, Hedley hosted the Vancouver Amateur Radio Club’s ‘Code and Theory’ class in his basement rec-room. The class was taught by a very kind and gifted teacher, Al Erdman, VE7AQW, the radio engineer for local AM powerhouse, CJOR, in Vancouver. Over the years, between Al and Hedley, dozens of new hams realized their dreams thanks to their their weekly commitment for which I will be forever grateful.

Now Saturday mornings at ‘R-P’ was a ‘whose-who’ of local hams, all dropping by to see what gear had popped-up in the trade-in section of the store, usually adorned with various Hallicrafters, Hammarlunds or Collins rigs ... stuff I could never afford but could at least touch and turn the dials before they found new homes. There were usually a few guys from the, ‘by invitation only’, Vancouver DX Club. To their credit, most were gracious enough to treat a new 16 year-old ham like one of their own and it didn’t take them long to convince me that I really should get a ‘bug’ if I was going to climb the DX-ladder and get into the pileups ... hmmm, pileups with my DX-20?

It seemed clear that a bug was in my future and the most affordable for a 16 year old was this one coming from Japan.





Although they were all likely manufactured in the same factory, the ‘BK-100’ was sold throughout North America under several different names. Back then, most of the affordable radio toys in Vancouver were coming from Japan ... and for a 16 year old radio nut, their stuff was a lot cheaper to buy than anything from the states.

RP imported a pile of these nice inexpensive BK-100s so I doled out some of my hard-earned cash to get my foot precariously planted on the DX-ladder’s bottom rung. I soon became fairly adept with it and after putting up a full size 40m groundplane on the roof of my parent’s very high house, I was actually able to work Don, W9WNV, at one of his exotics South Pacific stops ... with the bug ... in a pileup ... with the DX-20!




Eventually I had enough saved to buy a real Vibroplex, costing twice as much as the BK-100 ... which unfortunately saw very little use thereafter.

For the upcoming 'BR', I’ve decided to use the BK-100 along with my crystal-controlled 20 watt 'RK-39' power oscillator on both 80 and 40m, but in the  meantime  I’ll be practicing as much as possible on 7050 with the bug.





Here are all the details for the spring 'BR':


The Samuel F. Morse Amateur Radio Club, a Sacramento, California based CW enthusiast club wanted a special time to bring bug operators together on the air. In the same spirit as ARRL's Straight Key Night, participants are encouraged to make simple, conversational, “chewing-the-fat”, "Rag Chew" QSOs using their bug type key. This is an opportunity to exercise, share and exhibit your personalized fist. This is NOT a contest. Simply Call "CQ BR" so folks know you are a Bug Roundup Participant. Grab that bug, clean those contacts, and let’er fly! Let’s hear that “Banana Boat / Lake Erie Swing" or that commercial KPH/WCC quality fist.

Reserve the day! Friday May 15th - Sunday May 17th, 2020
5 PM  PDST (LOCAL) Friday - 5 PM PDST Sunday or May 16-18 UTC (0000 - 0000 UTC)
 

For more information, to register your station and key for participation, and to help assist in spotting, potentially increasing QSOs, an On-line chat window link can be found near the bottom of Bug Roundup home page located at https://w6sfm.com/bug-roundup/ We hope to hear you all on the air!


It looks like a fun event and might make another good opportunity to spark-up your old boatanchor on CW once again. As well, it seems you can keep track of activity and possibly set up skeds via their chat-window page during the BR. I'll be watching for you with my BK-100!

Hunting For NDBs In CLE255



It's another CLE weekend!

During these stressful times, the CLE might hopefully provide some peaceful relief for you.




'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 15kHz slice from 385.0 - 399.9 kHz. kHz

A good target for this one is little 'OO' (391kHz) in Oshawa, Ontario, shown above. 'OO-391' has a measured output of just over 7 watts yet is heard consistently all over North America including the west coast as well as in Europe! Hearing 'OO' is a very good test for your receiving system!

Listen for 'OO's' upper sideband on 391.402kHz with your receiver in the CW mode.

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

Hello all,

Have you tried one of our Co-ordinated Listening Events yet?
Whether short logs or long ones, making them is enjoyed by
beginners and experts alike - and reading them is enjoyed by all.

Our 255th Coordinated Listening Event starts this Friday.  We
should have plenty of NDBs to find in this 15 kHz frequency range.
Even the Pacific region (Oceania) is quite well supplied this time.

     Days:    Friday 24 April - Monday 27 April 2020
     Times:   Start and end at midday your LOCAL time
     Range:   385 - 399.9 kHz

Please log all the NDBs that you can identify with nominal (listed)
frequencies in the range - it includes 385 kHz, but not 400 kHz
 - plus any UNIDs that you come across there.

Send your final log to the List (no attachments please and ideally
in a plain text email) with 'FINAL CLE255' in its title (important).

Show on each line:
    #   The Date (e.g.  '2020-04-24', etc.,  or just '24' )
    #   The Time in UTC (the day changes at 00:00 UTC).
    #   kHz  - the nominal published frequency, if known.
    #   The Call Ident.

Please show those main items FIRST.  Other optional details
such as Location and Distance go LATER in the same line.
As always, of course, tell us your own location and give brief
details of the equipment that you were using during the Event.

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.
Do make sure that your log has arrived on the List by
08:00 UTC on Wednesday 29 April at the very latest.
We hope to complete making the combined results within
a day or two.

You can find full details about current and past CLEs from the
CLE page http://www.ndblist.info/cle.htm   It includes access
to the CLE255 seeklists for your part of the World, prepared
from all the previous loggings in Rxx.

Good listening
- enjoy the CLE and take care.
      Brian and Joachim
------------------------------------------------------------------
From:      Brian Keyte G3SIA      ndbcle'at'gmail.com
Location:  Surrey,  SE England     (CLE coordinator)
------------------------------------------------------------------

  (If you would like to listen remotely you could use any one remote
  receiver for your loggings, stating its location and owner and with
  their permission if required.  A remote listener may NOT also use
  another receiver, local or remote, to make 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 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 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 and good hunting!

World Amateur Radio Day 630m Activity!

 
 
 
 
 
 
The IARU has designated April 18 UTC as "World Amateur Radio Day". 
 
Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) is participating with a special event. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
There will also be two 630m stations operating! Both will use the call VE7RAC, one on JT-9 (VE7VV) and one on CW (VA7MM). 
 
The operation schedule is:
 
 JT-9 transmit on about 475.2 kHz: 0300 to 0600 hours and 1100 to 1300 hours UTC
 
CW transmit on 473 kHz and receive 473 kHz plus cross band 3528 kHz and 7028 kHz: 0300 to 0600 hours UTC.
 
If you have been interested in 630m but can't transmit on the band, then PLEASE try and work VE7RAC via crossband. This means that you can call VE7RAC (who will be CQing on 630m) on either 80 or 40m CW and he will respond if he hears you. Working crossband can actually be great fun!
 
RAC will provide a certificate for stations working either of the VE7RAC stations.

LED Lights In The Shack

The following blog was originally published in 2016 but is still relevant today.

Utilitech Pro Soft White LED Bulb

A recent posting by Phil, KO6BB, to Yahoo Group's ndblist, described his recent search for some LED lamps to replace the CFL's in his shack / radio workbench area. If you have been wondering how much RFI that LED lamps might be producing, you may find Phil's findings of some value.








"Recap  

I had a 60W equivalent CFL in the floor lamp directly over my operating position. I'd tried a 100W equiv one but it was extremely noisy! Also a couple CFLs in the ceiling lamp.

This is a floor lamp with a crookneck at the top and a triangular metal
shade reminiscent of the old style desk lamps, bulb is horiz to the
floor. I've used it for years and like it because it places the light
directly over the operating position work area (keyboard, radios etc).
The actual bulb was about 4.5 inches from the front of the Softrock SDR
receiver (in a plastic case), with the base of the lamp (where the
electronics are) about 7.5 inches (somebody asked about the distances).

This coupled a LOT of RFI directly into the SDR, visible on the
waterfall. For best results when recording and having the light on I'd
slip a 60W incandescent lamp in place of the CFL. The lamp is also
about 16 inches above the operating table, and when listening to ANY
portable radio on the table, if it was in the AM or Longwave band and
using the built in loopstick antenna, got a LOT of RFI from the lamp
(unless the lamp was off ;-)

So today I went down to Lowes (we have a Costco, but I don't have a
card) and looked at their LED lamp offerings. As I expected they had a
large variety of them, from a low cost 3 pack for ~$9.00 for 60W units
to about $18.00 or so each (Sylvania). From what I read here I wanted
to avoid the REALLY cheap ones as some reported them to be 'noisy'.
Also, I wanted to put a 75W equivalent unit in the one over the
operating position, and a pair of 100W equivalent units in the ceiling
lamp. All three had CFLs, and if I walked around the radio room with a
portable radio and the ceiling lamp on I could hear it's 'hash' anywhere
in the room. . .

The ones I settled on were a brand I'd never heard of, "UtiliTech Pro"
soft white, 75W for the bench and 2 100W ones for the ceiling. They
were what I'd call "mid-priced", $8.98 for the 75W and $9.98 for the
100W ones.

Specs:

75 W one draws 12W and gives 1100 Lumens.
100W one draws 16.5W and gives 1600 Lumens (the pair in the ceiling
should then be 3200 Lumens if I calculated right).

How low is the RFI to my Radios?

75W one over the bench:
NO trace from the lamp electronics visible in the SDR waterfall at
all. With a portable radio on the bench-top, NO audible RFI. Put a
portable radio up to the "bulb" part (light area) and with no station
tuned in can't hear ANY RFI. Move the portable to the base area of the
lamps there is SOME RFI, but I won't be putting the radio that close to
the lamp, move it a couple inches away and the noise disappears.

100W ones in the ceiling lamp, NO audible RFI in the portable when
walking around the room, RFI just barely perceptible right next to the
light wall switch that turns the lamp on, again, audible IF I put the
radio right up to the base of the lamps, not a likely real-world scenario!

Upshot? 

Based on the sample of three that I bought and the almost
non-existent RFI from them I'd consider the UtiliTech Pro lamps to be a
good product and suitable for use in the radio room. I consider them
good value for the ~$30.00 I spent for three."

If you have tested anything similar (other brands / models), please let me know and I will add it to Phil's helpful information.

KO6BB's website can be found here, along with some of his homebrew equipment.

Hunting For NDBs In CLE254




Once again it's a CLE weekend.

During these stressful times, the CLE might hopefully provide some peaceful relief for you.






'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 20 slice from 400.0 - 419.9 kHz. kHz

A good target for this one is MOG (404kHz) in Montague, California, up near the border with Oregon. It gets out very well and has been logged from Finland to Hawaii. Its been on-and-off of late so maybe you can catch it while it's on again!

Listen for MOG's upper sideband on 405.027kHz with your receiver in the CW mode.

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

Hello all,

Our 254th Coordinated Listening Event starts on Friday.
This frequency range is not packed with signals for any of us, but if conditions are OK there should be some nice surprises.

Do join in, whether you have days to spare, or only an hour or so over the weekend.  Staying at home seems to be essential advice for most of us at present - this could be a great way of spending time there!

    Days:    Friday 27 March - Monday 30 March 2020
    Times:   Start and end at midday your LOCAL time
             (Many of us will be changing our home clocks this weekend -
               however UTC time continues unaffected)
    Range:   400 - 419.9 kHz

Please log all the NDBs that you can identify with nominal (listed) frequencies in the range - it includes 400 kHz, but not 420 kHz - plus any UNIDs that you come across there.

Send your final log to the List (no attachments please and ideally in a plain text email) with ‘FINAL CLE254’ in its title.

Show on each line:
    #   The Date (e.g.  '2020-03-27', etc.,  or just '27' )
    #   The Time in UTC (the day changes at 00:00 UTC).
    #   kHz  - the nominal published frequency, if known.
    #   The Call Ident.

Please show those main items FIRST.  Other optional details such as Location and Distance go LATER in the same line.
As always, of course, tell us your own location and brief details of the equipment that you were using during the Event.

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 by 08:00 UTC on Wednesday 1 April at the very latest.
We hope to complete making the combined results within a day or two.

You can find full details about current and past CLEs from the CLE page http://www.ndblist.info/cle.htm   It includes access to CLE254 seeklists for your part of the World, prepared from the previous loggings in Rxx.  (Thanks, Martin and Alan, for your help with that)

Good listening
 - enjoy the CLE and do take care of yourself and your family.
      Brian and Joachim
-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:      Brian Keyte G3SIA      ndbcle'at'gmail.com
Location:  Surrey,  SE England     (CLE coordinator)
-----------------------------------------------------------------

  (If you would like to listen remotely  you could use any one remote
  receiver for your loggings, stating its location and owner and with their
  permission if required.  A remote listener may NOT also use another
  receiver, local or remote, to make 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 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 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 and good hunting!


Here Comes The Novice Rig Roundup (NRR) 2020!


One of the most enjoyable operating events of the year is fast approaching -- the Novice Rig Roundup or 'NRR'. Technically, it is a contest, but I have the feeling that most participants think of it as just a lot of fun and a nice opportunity to hear and work some of the great old 'classics' of the past -- rigs that were used when they were teenage Novices or rigs that they could only drool about owning, back in those formative years when they each discovered the magic of radio.

Once again the bands will be alive with the sounds of Heath AT-1s, DX-20s, DX-35s, DX-40s and DX-60s, Johnson Adventurers, Eico 720s, Drake 2NTs, Knight T-50s and T-60s, Ameco AC-1s and of course, an endless variety of lovingly-constructed homebrew delights and ... a full week plus two weekends to celebrate the 'good old radio days' of their teen years, as many of us remember them.

The dates to remember are 0000 UTC March 7 to 2359 UTC March 16 and this multi-day opportunity is, for me, what makes the NRR so enjoyable. With a nice diversion from the usual 'contest frenzy' associated with standard weekend operating events, the NRR can be enjoyed throughout the week, whenever you choose to participate. If last year's operating patterns continue, you should find activity at any time of the day ... and even more as sunset arrives.

With the fast-approaching solar minimum, we will be hard-pressed to relive the glory days of worldwide 15m propagation, but many transcon contacts were made during last year's event thanks to some well-timed solar activity! With a little luck and, hopefully, a well-timed solar flare, we may get lucky! If you operate during the daylight hours, please get on 15m and give it a shot ... and be sure to announce your activity on the NRR's sked and chat page here, so that others will know where to find you, especially if you are rock bound in true Novice fashion. With our present spotty conditions, we need all the help we can get and the sked page proved a very valuable asset during last year's affair.

Although technically not required, if you plan to participate it's best to obtain your own NRR number, which is an easy 30-second process.

Additionally, there is an online logger where participants can post their daily log. The nifty logger also keeps track and figures out your score as it goes and no 'after contest' log needs to be submitted. If you plan on submitting a log, the logger is a requirement. The logger will also require you to set up a 'log-in' and once again, a simple 30-second process will take care of that from here. If you used the logger last year, you will have to set it up again for this year as the old system has been changed.



Stations may run either crystal-control or VFO or can switch between either method ... the online logger will keep track and score things appropriately.


All of the rules and information can be found on the NRR's excellent website. As well, the soapbox comments and station pictures from last year's NRR may provide the inspiration that you need to spark-up your own activity in this year's event ... from what I can tell, this year will be bigger and busier than ever!


There is also a dedicated NRR Group, often the source of much valuable discussion but there is a now HUGE group of great NRR chat and activity now on Facebook's NRR Group here. I avoided Facebook for many years and have now discovered that it is an excellent forum for real time chat and information exchange ... one can still choose to maintain a very low profile and avoid unwanted interaction if set up correctly.

In 2017 I ran my homebrew Longfeller in the (now eliminated) QRP category, and had a ton of fun. You can read about it here. Last year, I refurbished a nice Drake 2NT that had been gathering dust in the basement for over 25 years and ran it during the 2018 NRR. You can read about my activity and some of the rigs encountered during last year's fun here.

If you have access to the web while operating, be sure to bookmark and check into the NRR's realtime chat page. Many ops that are crystal controlled will announce their operating frequencies, making it easier for you to find them ... sometimes way up or down from the normal NRR watering holes of ~  3550 - 3650 kHz7100 -7125 kHz, 21.100 - 21.150 MHz and 28.114, 28.120 MHz ... and don't forget to check the colorburst crystal frequency of 3579!

'CQ'ers should always remember to tune up and down the watering hole for replies from other NRR stations that may be crystal controlled and not able to answer you on your own frequency!! This is extremely important and a real reminder of what was common practice back in the Novice days.


courtesy: Harry - VE7AIJ
Harry's homebrew 6AQ5 crystal oscillator (Feb '55 Popular Electronics) and Hallicrafters S-53, pictured above, allowed him to work the world back in the amazing radio days of Cycle 19. Let's relive some of that excitement in the closing days of Cycle 24 ... in the NRR!


You still have time to get that old clunker on the air but if that's not possible, you can join the fun with your modern rig as well ... all are welcome to jump in and have a great week of radio-fun. I think you will be surprised, just as I was last year, how good some of these old classics can sound ... and you'll hear some great bug-fists as well.


Need more inspiration? ... here's a summary of my own experience of the 2018 NRR:

                           ***********************
The NRR once again provided many notable highlights over the nine day event.

Almost topping the list was just experiencing the variety of old classics and hearing how well almost all of them sounded. Numerous Knight T-60s, Drake 2NTs, Heath DX-40s, Johnson Adventurers and Eico 720s, along with a nice variety of homebrew MOPAs and one-tube power oscillators graced the nightly airwaves. These oft-forgotten shelf-queens always seem to develop super-powers, far beyond their expectations, when the NRR rolls around!

I was really surprised to work so many T-60s, a small and inexpensive 60 watt transmitter kit from 1962 using a popular 6DQ6 television  sweep tube ... one never expected to achieve such RF greatness! I was very impressed with every one that I heard.


What radio-struck pre-Novice teen, dreaming about getting on the air, could resist a clever ad like this.


Scott, KA9P's 80m T-60 signal sounded as sweet as it looks in his 2018 setup, paired with his Heathkit HR-10B inhaler.

KA9P 2018 NRR station with RAF Vulcan bomber Type 51 hand pump

Right up there with the plethora of T-60s was the Drake 2NT, another great sounding radio and also my choice for this year's event. My summer refurbishing project, described here, proved a worthy companion, although my much-treasured VF-1 VFO's short term drift probably had my 2NT getting red in the face whenever I took her off of crystal control to scurry around the band, seeking out the CQ'ers. I've had a love-hate relationship with the VF-1 ever since buying my first one back in '63!


VE7SL 2018 NRR with 2NT, VF-1 and my Original '63 Vibroplex

Yet another 2NT packed a powerful punch from West Virginia, keyed by Dave, W3NP, when we exchanged 579 reports on 40m, 45 minutes before sunset.

W3NP - 2018 NRR setup
This year's band conditions were excellent as both 40 and 80m sounded much as I remember them sounding back in the 60's ... loaded with strong North American CW signals almost every night. Unfortunately, Solar Cycle 24 has taken its toll on 15m and although the band appeared to often have daily though somewhat dicey propagation, there appeared to be few NRR stations using the band.

I made three contacts on 15m this year: W5IQS in Texas, K2YWE in Maryland and WN4NRR in Florida, whose S9 reply to my 'CQ NRR' just about took my head off ... what a nice surprise to hear the booming signal from Bry's 2NT powerhouse. Dan, K2YWE, was no slouch either, as his Globe Scout was music to my ears when his signal quickly rose out of the noise just long enough to make the coast-to-coast journey. If the predictions for future solar cycles become reality, there may be many more NRRs before we experience the magic of 15m once again.

K2YWE's Globe Scout and Adventurer were worked on all three bands!

My NRR exchanges with George, N3GJ (KA3JWJ) in Pennsylvania, truly demonstrated just how well the low bands were performing. More than an hour before my local sunset, I responded to his 569 40m 'CQ NRR' only to learn that his signal, now reaching a solid 579, was coming from an original Ameco AC-1! This one-tube crystal-controlled power oscillator has, over the years, reached Holy Grail status among many amateurs. Originals are guarded like precious jewels and handed down from father to son ... or in George's case, from uncle to nephew!

N3GJ and his all powerful original AC-1
I was astounded at the strength of his signal and before exchanging '73's added 'CUL on 80', not really thinking how low the chances of that might really be. Two hours later, his even stronger 'CQ NRR' was heard on 80m, as his 579 signal flirted with reaching S8 ... all emanating from just a low hanging inverted-V.  It's nights like this that remind me how I was bitten by the radio bug so many years ago and to have them coincide with the NRR was an added bonus. I've rated my contacts with George's AC-1 the highlight of this year's NRR for me!

Heathkits were plentiful too, with the DX-60 seeming to be the rig of choice, often paired with the matching HG-10 VFO. Both Mark, VA7MM and Gary, W8PU, packed a wallop with these fine examples.

VA7MM - 2018 NRR set-up

W8PU - 2018 NRR set-up

But it wasn't just DX-60s representing Benton Harbor engineering in the NRR. All of these neat old Heaths made it out to the west coast, sometimes on both 40 and 80. KN8RHM's (Rick) HW-16 made it here on 40m with a solid signal almost every night, while KE4OH (Steve) sported a modernized DX-20 in the form of Heath's HX-11. Steve even received the highly-treasured 'OO' report for his NRR chirp ... good job!

KN8RHM - HW-16 NRR set-up
 
KE4OH - HX-11 NRR station
Not to be forgotten was the ubiquitous DX-40, used by several, including this proud old warhorse, lovingly keyed by Doug, N3PDT.

N3PDT - DX-40 NRR transmitter

Rich, WN7NRR / AG5M operating in nearby Washington state put some of his 44 crystals to work with his HW-16 ... that's some collection!

WN7NRR - HW-16 NTT set-up
It seems that many NRRers are as adept with a soldering iron as they are with a hand key, as several homebrew transmitters were worked from here as well.

Howie, WB2AWQ in Reno, was using his homebrew pair of 807s, driven with a Millen 90700 swing-arm VFO from 1945. Most shacks worldwide, including the Novices, found plenty of use for the 807 as they were dirt-cheap in the post war surplus market. The filament has a beautiful illumination and if a bit gassy as most are by now, emit a wonderous blue glow with each press of the key.

WB2AWQ - 807s
Millen VFO from 1945 at WB2AWQ
KD7JG (Joe) in Oregon, sported a 12 volt version of the 807, a 1625, in his home brew rock-crusher. With 25 watts into his ladderline-fed 160m inverted-V, his 599 signal up here was hard to miss on both 40 and 80m.

KD7JG's 1625 NRR mainstay
K4IBZ down in Florida also utilized the magical 6DQ6 sweep tube in his homebrew rig for 80 and 40m. Bill was worked on both bands from here with his 10 watts receiving a 569 on both contacts.

K4IBZ's 10 watter
AA8V, Greg in Maryland, used an LM-13 war surplus frequency meter to drive a popular Novice pairing of the 6AG7 / 6146 at 90W input ... good enough for a 579 report on 40m, 30 minutes before my sunset.

AA8V's homebrew NRR stack
The runner-up highlight was my 80m QSO with Lou, VE3BDV / VE3AWA who worked me on 3568 kHz using his Bare-Essentials 50C5 crystal controlled power oscillator at 7 watts. I understand that this rig enjoyed some popularity among many Novices as a 'first transmitter'. Being connected directly across the A.C. mains, fully exposed, would require some delicate handling!

VE3BDV / VE3AWA - 50C5 Bare - Essentials power oscillator

I finished up the NRR with 123 contacts, a lot better than last year's event when I was running the Longfeller at 5 watts.

As indicated on the NRR website, this is "more of an EVENT than just a typical contest ... once again taking our OLD ham radios off the shelf and putting them to use again! "

See you in the 2020 NRR!

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  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor