With the temperature in the shack finally down to a more comfortable level I decided to get ready for the winter season and set up my medium/long wave outfit. The PA0RDT mini-whip was put in the mast, the Jackson Harbor Press long wave converter installed and all cables checked. I have been DXing NDBs on and off since my teenage years, and Steve’s (VE7SL) inviting announcement about the CLE186 made for a good excuse to check the whole setup with some NDB DXing.

Of course, there were a couple of snags. When I hooked up the mini-whip I remembered why I didn’t really like the original version: too much signal coming in resulting in some overloading and intermodulation products; LORAN C could be heard all over the place. Last year I made the alternative version of off PA0NHC’s hand, which performed much better. Alas, it fell a few storeys down from the balcony, which is not good for the health of electronics. I will have to build a new one these days. But after reviewing all the documentation on these whips I had my “duh” moment: I hadn’t filtered the coax and my ground connection was in the shack, not outside. Half a pound of ferrite clamps later and things sounded a lot better, although not perfect.

The other snag was the receiver. Originally I wanted to use my KX3 to free up my IC-7200. With both the mini-whip and the 12 meter vertical connected to the long wave converter reception was very disappointing. The IC-7200 did do a lot better, although not as good as what I remembered from using my TS-440S. The IC-7200 also did a good job without the converter, so I used both configurations.

But when Saturday came I was ready to do some serious listening and check out which NDBs could be heard. CLE186 focused on 350 to 369.9 kHz, but only a few stations were heard there. I found that conditions weren’t that great. Here is my entry:

0800 357.0 LU TWN Keelung S3
0802 362.0 HL TWN Houlong S5
0834 363.0 LA ? ? S4 1x ID then 7 sec pause
1139 369.0 ZF CHN Helou S3

I checked the whole long wave band and found plenty of other signals and I compared with my log of last year. Couple of new unidentified stations and two heard for the first time, the others being regulars. Our powerhouse NDB AP on 250 kHz was strong on Saturday, but off air on Sunday. I also heard TEST being keyed on 290 kHz instead of the regular BM from Makong, so I suspect there are some changes going on in the Taiwanese beacon scene.

Lots of fun and my focus for the coming weeks is clear: get better reception by building an improved mini-whip and improve my filtering. Who knows, maybe this season I will be able to receive some Japanese NDBs or radio amateurs on 2200 meters.

Hans "Fong" van den Boogert, BX2ABT, is a regular contributor to and writes from Taiwan. Contact him at [email protected].

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