Recent BCB Loop DX / Upcoming CLE248

This past week has seen a welcome return to better band conditions on the lower frequencies.

I’ve had my 10' x 20' loop and Perseus SDR combination running a few overnight recordings on the AM broadcast band ... two mornings pointing at Asia and two overnights looking for domestic signals from the east.

The Asian signals have often been very strong, with many signals reaching S9 or higher. I’ve chosen some of the better ones below. Unlike those situated right on the west coast, my location here on Mayne Island gives me a nice shot towards Japan albeit not directly over the ocean, but close enough, as the path crosses islands to my north and then over northern Vancouver Island.

Looking towards eastern North America is a different story, with an unobstructed ocean view from due north to the south east.

As is often the case with overnight recordings, I did not get nearly enough time to thoroughly check them out but one catch caught my attention. It was from WPTX in Lexington Park, Maryland, on 1690kHz. This station supposedly runs 1kW at night and 10kW during the day but on this night (Sept 16), I heard their top-of-hour ID for three consecutive hours! I wonder if someone ‘forgot’ to switch to nightime power or if conditions were just really good? I have heard them again since with two TOH IDs but much weaker and sounding more like a 1kW station should sound!

JOAK - 594kHz in Shobu, Japan (13:30 UTC Sept 20)

JOUB - 774kHz in Akita, Japan (14:00 UTC Sept 20)
(with English lessons)

HLAZ - 1566kHz in Cheju, South Korea (13:30 UTC Sept 20)
(broadcasting in Japanese in this time slot)

Voice of America (VOA) - 1575kHz in Ban Phachi, Thailand (13:30 UTC Sept 20)
(listen for "This is the Voice of America" ID and then into "Yankee-Doodle-Dandy")


Hunting For NDBs In CLE248

Yes! Another month has passed and it's CLE time once again.

This time the hunting grounds will be: 275 kHz - 425 kHz.   

For those unfamiliar with this monthly activity, a 'CLE' is a 'Co-ordinated Listening Event', as NDB DXers around the world focus their listening time on one small slice of the NDB spectrum.

If you've been meaning to participate in  CLE, then maybe this weekend is a fine time to try! Lately, we've had a lot of first time submissions so you won't be alone!

As well, if you're trying to learn CW, copying NDBs is perfect practice, as the identifier speed is generally slow and the letters are repeated again every few seconds!

At this time of the season, summer lightning storms should be starting to wane and propagation can often be as good as mid-winter if the lightning cooperates.

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, G3SIA, comes the details:

Hi all

Our 248th Listening Event just squeezes into the last weekend of this month.
Worth waiting for because it is a 'Special', our fifth 'Channels Challenge'.
It's a simple idea, but one that we always seem to enjoy:

    Days:      Friday 27 September - Monday 30 September
    Times:     Start and end at midday, your LOCAL time
    Range:     275 kHz - 425 kHz   (see below)
    Target:    Try to log ANY ONE NDB in each channel

The 'channel' means the NDB's nominal (published) frequency.
EITHER  321.0  OR  321.5 kHz would be OK for channel 321, etc.

So it means a possible maximum of 151 loggings in all, though that would
probably be miraculous, even for the best placed of us!

All the NDBs must be 'normal' ones (no DGPS, Amateur, etc.) and
no UNIDs in your main list.   Yes, it does include those more
challenging frequencies in the DGPS range.

If you want to add extra interest you could also choose to:
    Maximise the number of radio countries you hear    or
    Maximise the total distance to the NDBs you hear    or
    Maximise the number of 'midday' loggings - i.e. NDBs logged
      within 2 hours of midday by your local winter clock time.

It will be extra tough for North American listeners, with their many 'empty'
channels. Southern Hemisphere and Europe listeners should be more lucky.

Our last 'Channels Challenge' was CLE231 in April 2018.
Please look out for the 'Final Details' a few days before the start.

From:   Brian Keyte G3SIA               (CLE coordinator)

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

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!

Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

One Response to “Recent BCB Loop DX / Upcoming CLE248”

  • David, KJ4CMY:

    WPTX in Lexington Park, Maryland is a regular for me near Atlanta, GA. We had a 1690 station go off the air about a year ago. I listen to this station coming home from radio meetings.

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