630m … The New ‘Magic Band’?

The 'magic band' has always been associated with 50 MHz and its amazing propagation ... usually unpredictable and often without logical explanation. This past summer saw an explosion of digital FT8 activity on 6m which has, for me (and for others I suspect), eliminated almost all of the enjoyment I have found every year on this band.

With so much of the previous CW and phone activity now gone to FT8, the 'feel' of the band is just not what it once was. What I find puzzling is that so many have embraced this weak signal mode yet most of the two-way QSOs seem to be made between stations that can easily hear each other ... often at the very strong levels produced by 6m sporadic-E!

With FT8's inability to chat about antennas, rigs, propagation, locations or simply to exchange names, for me the magic has gone. Being able to hear signals build, fade up and down, or to experience the sudden arrival of bone-crushing signals from the east coast where none had existed moments earlier, is all part of what attracted me to 6m decades ago. I spent only a few hours on the band last summer, working a number of JA stations on FT8. No particular sense of satisfaction was garnered ... working a JA opening on CW is just way more exciting!

For many, the arrival of FT8 to the magic band has opened a whole new world and from seeing so many unfamiliar call signs on 6m this summer, it seems that FT8 has brought a lot of newcomers to the band. Unlike the JAs' worked every summer on CW, almost all of the FT8 JAs' sent their QSL immediately, with almost all excitingly indicating "1st VE" ... so this has to be a good thing! I suspect, that unless the level of conventional-mode activity returns to previous levels on 6m (highly unlikely), my interest in 50MHz will slowly wane or vanish altogether ... but thankfully, there's still magic to be found elsewhere on the ham bands!

As solar Cycle 24 draws down into its final months, the deep lows that were experienced at the end of Cycle 23 are starting to develop once again. For the past few weeks, propagation below the broadcast band has been the best it has been since the previous solar quieting.

Being just below the bottom edge of the broadcast band, 630m (472-479 kHz) has seen some of the benefits of the recent round of stagnant geomagnetic activity.

While some transcontinental QSOs are regularly being made on CW, most contacts are being completed using the weak signal JT9 QSO mode. Contacts can often be completed just as the sun begins to set and staying up into the wee hours to catch east coast DX is not a requirement. Over the past few weeks my 'states worked' total has climbed to 30 and with a couple of holdouts, the QSLs have been steadily arriving.

My 630m states worked, shown in red. Map courtesy: https://mapchart.net/

Last month's arrivals, in spite of the Canada Post delivery disruptions, are shown below.

The recent great propagation on 630m is well-demonstrated by last Saturday night's activity. For the previous two evenings, my JT9 CQ's (as well as QSOs) were being decoded for hours at a time by Rolf, LA2XPA in Norway. He was also hearing Larry, W7IUV, located a few hundred miles to my southwest, on the other side of the Cascade mountains in Washington state. Both of our signals would fade and trade places in Norway but often reaching audible CW levels! The problem was that neither myself or Larry could see any of Rolf's replies to us ... disappointing to us and frustrating for Rolf.

After an hour of trying, I asked Rolf (via the ON4KST LF chat page) what he was using for a receive antenna. It turned out that his secret weapon was a 1000' beverage pointed this way ... no wonder he was hearing so well. Larry, who was using a shorter, easterly pointing BOG (Beverage On Ground) for 630m receive, commented that he also had a 1000' beverage pointed toward Europe but it was optimized for 160m and doubted that it would work on 630. Just to make sure, he plugged it into a second receiver and soon indicated that he 'might' have seen a weak JT9 trace on the waterfall, close to Rolf's frequency.

One minute later Larry's comment was just "wow!" and the following minute he explained what had occurred. It seems that the 'possible weak trace' had suddenly skyrocketed to a -16db signal ... right at the edge of audibility! Larry and Rolf quickly exchanged signal reports and "RRs" as the first Europe-West Coast 630m QSO went into the history books ... 'wow' indeed!

Rolf reported that at his end, Larry's already good signal suddenly shot up to -5db, an easily copied CW level, before fading away for the night. Larry was pretty shocked at how quickly this strong short enhancement had occurred and we all hoped that the oft observed 'spotlight' propagation seen on 630 would move further west to VE7 ... but for now, it was not to be.

Earlier in the evening I had commented to Larry about some previous quirky 630m propagation and had suggested to him that it was probably just due to "the magic of radio" ... to which he politely dismissed with "sorry no magic, just hard work and dumb luck". Looks like he was right on both accounts, but after Saturday's excitement I think he may now believe in a little magic as well!

CLE237 Results

Last weekend's CLE237 was truly a workout. Not only was the format challenging, hunting for different grid square fields, but propagation was superb ... a vast departure from the normal CLE propagation-curse!
This combination resulted in many daytime hours spent reviewing three nights of Perseus recordings, the downside of being able to sleep all night rather than staying up until 0300 while listening live!

All told, 118 NDBs in 41 different grid fields were logged. Of these 118 stations, 12 were 'new catches'. After DXing NDBs since 1985, new catches are getting harder and harder to find but last week's great conditions were the best heard here in several years.

Today's quiet Sun!

With a very quiet Sun for a couple of weeks now, these great MF conditions are what many have been waiting for since the last solar low many years ago ... propagation below the broadcast band can be truly remarkable when these quiet conditions continue for many weeks at a time.

Here are a few interesting CLE catches as recorded on the Perseus SDR.



NDBs QY (Sydney, Nova Scotia), YBB (Pelly Bay, Nunavut)and 3Z (Russell, Manitoba) all sharing 263kHz within a few Hz of each other.

My full CLE237 log is shown below. As usual, a Perseus SDR and an 'inverted-L' (resonated to 300kHz) was used for the activity.

28 13:30  403     TUT   Pago Pago, SMA

28 13:30  400     MDY   Midway, MDW

27 12:30  283     DUT   Dutch Harbor, ALS
27 12:30  341     ELF   Cold Bay, ALS
27 12:30  385     EHM   Cape Newenham, ALS
27 12:30  390     HBT   Borland, ALS

27 06:00  263     OAY   Norton Bay, ALS
27 13:30  275     CZF   Cape Romanzof, ALS
27 13:00  325     BVK   Buckland, ALS
27 13:30  347     TNC   Tin City, ALS
27 13:00  356     HHM   Kotzebue, ALS

27 13:30  352     RG    Rarotonga, CKS

27 13:30  332     POA   Pahoa, HWA

27 14:00  353     LLD   Lanai, HWA

27 12:00  277     ACE   Kachemak, ALS
27 12:00  355     AUB   King Salmon, ALS
27 12:00  394     RWO   Kodiak, ALS
27 12:00  411     ILI   Iliamna, ALS
27 12:00  429     BTS   Dillingham, ALS

27 12:00  212     CGL   Juneau, ALS
27 13:00  257     CUN   Fairbanks, ALS
27 12:00  346     OLT   Soldotna, ALS
27 12:30  347     DJN   Delta Junction, ALS
27 12:00  350     VTR   McGrath, ALS

27 13:00  376     PVQ   Deadhorse, ALS

27 06:00  378     AP    Mayne Island, BC, CAN (MY NEAREST)
27 12:00  266     SLE   Salem, OR, USA
27 07:00  356     PND   Portland, OR, USA
27 06:00  356     MEF   Medford, OR, USA
27 06:00  404     MOG   Montegue, CA, USA

27 07:00  203     TCY   Tracy, CA, USA
29 04:00  385     MR    Pacific Grove, CA, USA

27 12:00  266     ICK   Annette Island, ALS
27 12:00  358     SIT   Sitka, ALS
27 12:00  396     CMJ   Ketchikan, ALS
27 12:00  414     IME   Sitka, ALS
27 12:00  529     SQM   Sumner Strait, ALS

27 13:30  222     WY    Wrigley, NT, CAN
27 11:30  254     EV    Inuvik, NT, CAN
27 14:00  284     YOC   Old Crow, YT, CAN
27 08:00  380     YUB   Tuktoyaktuk, NT, CAN
27 12:00  392     ZFN   Tulita, NT, CAN

29 06:00  321     YSY   Sachs Harbour, NT, CAN

27 08:30  242     EL    El Paso, TX, USA
27 10:00  278     CEP   Ruidoso, NM, USA
27 06:00  326     MA    Midland, TX, USA
27 12:00  338     RYN   Tucson, AZ, USA
27 13:00  341     OIN   Oberlin, KS, USA

27 09:00  233     BR    Brandon, MB, CAN
27 09:00  275     HIN   Chadron, NE, USA
27 09:00  383     CNP   Chappell, NE, USA
27 09:00  400     FN    Fort Collins, CO, USA
27 09:00  414     GRN   Gordon, NE, USA

27 08:00  207     PY    Fort Chipewyan, AB, CAN
27 08:00  212     BY    Beechy, SK, CAN
27 08:00  219     ZRS   Regina, SK, CAN
27 08:00  221     QU    Grande Prairie, AB, CAN
27 08:00  230     VG    Vermilion, AB, CAN

27 08:30  361     HI    Holman, NT, CAN

27 06:00  260     MTH   Marathon, FL, USA
27 10:00  269     AR    New Iberia, LA, USA
27 10:00  329     HMA   Hondo, TX, USA
27 06:00  332     FIS   Key West, FL, USA

27 07:00  263     CVM   Alton, IL, USA
27 07:00  332     IC    Wichita, KS, USA
27 07:00  335     BV    Batesville, AR, USA
27 07:00  338     UMP   Indianapolis, IN, USA
27 07:00  349     GW    Greenwood, MS, USA

27 12:00  257     JYR   York, NE, USA
27 06:00  329     PMV   Plattsmouth, NE, USA
27 06:00  360     SW    Warroad, MN, USA
27 08:00  368     VIQ   Neillsville, WI, USA
27 09:00  368     PNM   Princeton, MN, USA

27 07:00  212     YGX   Gillam, MB, CAN
27 08:00  216     YFA   Fort Albany, ON, CAN
27 08:00  218     RL    Red Lake, ON, CAN
27 08:00  224     MO    Moosonee, ON, CAN
27 08:00  258     ZSJ   Sandy Lake, ON, CAN

27 06:00  224     BK    Baker Lake, NU, CAN
27 09:00  241     YGT   Igloolik, NU, CAN
27 08:00  263     YBB   Kugaaruk, NU, CAN
27 10:00  329     YEK   Arviat, NU, CAN
27 10:00  335     YUT   Repulse Bay, NU, CAN

27 04:00  365     YGZ   Grise Fiord, NU, CAN

27 05:00  365     PAL   Palma, EQA

28 05:00  369     ZDX   Saint Johns, ATG
27 06:00  391     DDP   Vega Baja, PTR
27 05:00  415     CBC   Cayman Brac, CYM

27 09:00  376     ZIN   Matthew Town, BAH

29 05:00  198     DIW   Dixon, NC, USA

27 08:00  289     YLQ   La Tuque, QC, CAN
27 08:00  373     YXK   Rimouski, QC, CAN
27 05:00  392     ML    Charlevoix, QC, CAN
27 05:00  407     ZHU   Montreal, QC, CAN
27 07:00  516     YWA   Petawawa, ON, CAN

27 10:00  208     YSK   Sanikiluaq, NU, CAN
27 18:37  323     KR    Schefferville, QC, CAN
27 10:00  351     YKQ   Waskaganish, QC, CAN
27 10:00  390     VP    Kuujjuaq, QC, CAN
27 08:00  396     YPH   Inukjuak, QC, CAN

27 09:00  277     YLC   Kimmirut, NU, CAN
27 10:00  338     YPX   Puvirnituq, QC, CAN
28 10:00  358     YKG   Kangiqsujuaq, QC, CAN

29 07:00  256     YCY   Clyde River, NU, CAN

27 10:00  263     QY    Sydney, NS, CAN
27 08:00  280     QX    Gander, NL, CAN
27 08:00  350     DF    Deer Lake, NL, CAN

28 08:00  220     BX    Lourdes de Blanc, QC, CAN
28 08:30  281     CA    Cartwright, NL, CAN
28 10:00  396     JC    Rigolet, NL, CAN

28 06:00  399     UP    Upernavik, GRL

27 12:00  366     PNI   Pohnpei Island, FSM

27 13:00  343     ML    Minami Tori Shima, MTS
27 12:00  360     OX    Iwo Jima, VOI

28 13:30  437     OG    Okha, RSE

27 12:30  260     NF    Norfolk Island, NFK

27 12:00  316     MAJ   Majuro Atoll, MHL
27 12:00  393     UKS   Kosrae, FSM

As always, complete CLE results (worldwide) can be viewed in detail here.

All-in-all, an exhausting but delightful weekend of listening and great propagation ... so many signals to hear ... welcome to solar-low!

Hunting NDBs In CLE237

CLE 237 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:

Here are the Final Details for this weekend's DX Listening Event.

We'll be listening for NDBs in as many Locator FIELDS as we can.

Fields are the first 2 letters of the 6 character locators ('Grid Square').

    Days:     Friday 26th October – Monday 29th October
    Times:    Midday on Friday to Midday on Monday, your LOCAL* time
            *(NB Many of us will be changing our house clocks this weekend.
               UTC time, shown in our logs, continues unaffected by that)
    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 - it will probably be one of
the five in your own Field.

A World map of all the locator Fields is attached.  You can see, for
example, that Field IO includes most of the British Isles.

(click map to expand)

Please post your CLE log to the List in a plain text email if possible,
with 'CLE237' at the start of its title and showing on each log line:

     The full Date ( e.g. 2018-10-26, etc., or just the day number 26 )
     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 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 separator line.

Any UNIDs that you come across will 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
18:00 UTC on Tuesday so you can check that your log has been found OK.
Do make sure that your Final log has arrived on the list by 09:00 UTC
on Wednesday 31st October at the very latest.
Joachim and I hope to complete the combined results within two days.


It will really help you to plan your listening if you go to the excellent
Rxx Database  https://www.classaxe.com/dx/ndb/reu
(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 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 missa 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 the 'Distance - From GSQ' box 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 handful of us may choose to listen via a remote receiver
with permission if required - its own location will be their temporary
home Field).
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 Yahoo ndblist Group has been moved to Groups.io and The NDB List Group will now be found there! The very active 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. Joining the group also makes it much easier to post your logs!

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!

CLE236 Results

courtesy: https://sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov/

It seems that for the CLE236 listeners in western North America, my worst fears came true. The week preceding last weekend's listening event had seen great MF propagation and quiet geomagnetic conditions.

On Friday evening, shortly after the start, a geomagnetic storm commenced, with K-levels reaching 5-7 at various stations ... pretty much sounding the death knell once again. It seems more than coincidental that almost every CLE in the past few years has seen horrific geomagnetic conditions in lock-step with our scheduled monthly events!

Since there were no active regions on the Sun at the time, I suspect, as mentioned in my last blog, that we were victimized by a sudden spurt from the same coronal hole that whacked us last month, as it lined-up once again on its monthly reappearance. Arriving on Friday evening as sunset approached, the effects seemed to spare the rest of North America (and Europe), as western listeners were the only ones reporting poor propagation. As well, lightning noise, often abating by this time of the year, created havoc for many listeners ... even those with good propagation.

I can only hope that next month's event will see a major improvement in noise levels as well as in propagation quality. Hopefully, that pesky coronal hole will have closed itself by then!

On top of the above mentioned challenges, CLE236's frequency range was smack on top of my local pest, AP-378, whose antenna is less than one mile from my own antennas. Having an S9 +60db signal in the middle of the narrow CLE range does make for challenging listening. My 10' x 20' loop knocked AP's signal down about 25db, allowing me to hear the following signals, some only barely.

22 05:00  371     YK         Yakima, WA, USA
22 07:00  371     GW        Kuujjuarapik, QC, CAN
22 10:00  372     ZPA       Prince Albert, SK, CAN
22 06:00  372    YCO       Coppermine, NU, CAN
22 08:00  373    MF         Table Rock, OR, USA
22 11:00  374     EX          Kelowna, BC, CAN
23 11:30  374     EE          Forada, MN, USA
22 11:00  375     FS          Fort Simpson, NT, CAN
22 12:00  375     CP         Casper, WY, USA
24 08:00  376   YAG       Fort Frances, ON, CAN
22 07:00  376    K2         Olds-Didsbury, AB, CAN
23 06:00  378    OT         North Bend, OR, USA
22 06:00  378    AP         Mayne Island, BC, CAN
23 11:30  379     OW        Owatonna, MN, USA
23 11:30  379     DL          Duluth, MN, USA
23 05:00  380   GC         Gillette, WY, USA
24 06:00  380   BBD      Brady, TX, USA
22 07:00  382   YPW      Powell River, BC, CAN
24 13:00  382    JNR       Unalakleet, ALS
22 13:30  382     AW        Marysville, WA, USA
22 07:00  383    PI           Pocatello, ID, USA
22 07:00  383    CNP       Chappell, NE, USA
See you in CLE237.

Hunting For NDBs in CLE 236

AP-378 Mayne Island, BC

How time flies. Once again it's a CLE weekend. It seems like the last one was just a week ago!

 '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 15 kHz slice from 370.0 - 384.9 kHz.

This is a somewhat dreaded range for me since my local blowtorch NDB, 'AP' (378 kHz), sits right in the middle of the range. 'AP' is located at the entrance to Active Pass, the main ferry route to Vancouver Island, and the antenna is about 3/4 of a mile down the beach from me. Needless to say, the beacon is about 40db over S9! With careful loop nulling, I can reduce this by about 25db but it's still an enormous signal to deal with.

Hopefully you can put 'AP' in your own log this weekend but its 25-watt signal will be much weaker for you. It's been logged as far east as Illinois and with your receiver in the CW mode, can be found on 378.399 kHz.

All too often our CLE weekends get hammered by geomagnetic disturbances, possibly because our monthly schedule syncs up nicely with the Sun's rotation and the disturbance from the previous month once again rotates into position. Conditions this time surely can't be much worse than for our previous event and today's mid-week check looks promising.

courtesy: NOAA
courtesy: NOAA

Things seem geomagnetically quiet at the moment so lets hope they stay that way. LF and MF propagation can often be amazing in the fall and as summer storms start to dissipate, the band can become much less noisy.

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

Hi all,

Please join us in our 236th coordinated Listening Event which starts
this Friday and celebrates the arrival of the Equinox this weekend.
CLEs are not contests - if you enjoy taking part you will be a winner!

    Days:    Friday 21 September - Monday 24 September
    Times:   Start and end at midday, LOCAL TIME at the receiver
    Range:   370 - 384.9 kHz

Just log all the NDBs that you can identify with their nominal (listed)
frequencies in the range (it includes 370 kHz, but not 385 kHz)
plus any UNIDs that you come across there.

Please send your CLE log to the List in a plain text email if possible
(not in an attachment) with CLE236 and FINAL at the start of its title.
Show on each log line:
    # The date (e.g. 2018-09-21, etc., or just 21) and UTC
          (the date changes at 00:00 UTC)
    # kHz  (the nominal published frequency, if known)
    # The Call Ident.

Show those main items FIRST - other optional details such as Location
and Distance go LATER in the same line. 
If you send interim logs, please also send a 'FINAL' (complete) log.

As always, tell us your own location and brief details of the equipment
that you were using during the weekend.

Joachim or I will send the usual 'Any More Logs?' email at about 17:00
UTC on Tuesday - you can then check that your log has been found OK.
All logs must arrive on the list at the very latest by 08:00 UTC on
Wednesday 26th September.  We hope to complete making the combined
results within a day or two.

To help you to plan your listening, seeklists and maps for your part of the
World are available via the CLE page  http://www.ndblist.info/cle.htm

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

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, 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 Yahoo ndblist Group has been moved to Groups.io and The NDB List Group will now be found there! The very active 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!

The 630m Portable Adventures of EIØCF

In the years before amateurs in the UK had access to the 630m band as we know it today (472-479kHz), hams there could apply for a 'special research permit' allowing them to operate between 501 and 504kHz.

One of the first and most active stations was operated by Finbar O'Connor, EIØCF, located in the most northern part of Ireland, near Malin Head. In the early days, Finbar might as well have been AC4YN in Lhasa, Tibet, as a 630m or a 2200m QSO with EIØCF was a much prized DX trophy and a genuine 'right of passage' for many little backyard LF and MF stations throughout Europe.

Nowadays, 630m activity in Europe is not as robust as it once was but Finbar is still active on MF from his modest station. He reports being copied in North America on several occasions. Although mainly active in the WSPR mode, Finbar is now considering the two-way JT9 weak signal QSO mode and may hopefully once again, tease east coast North American MF operators with a new rare entity from his seaside location.

Finbar's WSPRlite setup for 630m
Over the years, EIØCF has gone portable as well as marine mobile to demonstrate the viability of this part of the spectrum for very reliable groundwave comms using equipment that is both simple and quick to deploy. Although he used a CW-based system, his conclusions could just as easily apply to SSB or digital modes.

EI0CF/marine on 630m!

What follows is a delightful adventure, in Finbar's own words, describing some of his field trips back in the 500kHz experimental days ... perhaps it will inspire some North American portable work or provide ideas for an emergency prep 630m grab-and-go kit, or just get you excited about our newest amateur allocation.

              Operating Portable on 501 - 504 khz Medium Wave

Operations on the north flank of Slieve Snacht Inishowen Peninsula.

In June 2009 Ireland joined a growing number of countries permitted to operate on a small portion of the medium wave band, just below the commercial broadcast segment, in the range 501 - 504 khz. Several stations were granted permission and operations commenced. As has been documented elsewhere many stations have been worked, both in band and cross band, at home and abroad, ranging from Continental Europe, across the Atlantic to the USA and Canada, down to the southern end of Ukraine and finally up to Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and also being heard in Moscow.

A notable feature of this band is the steady reliable nature of groundwave coverage and with this in mind I recently availed of the facility whereby portable operations can take place. Comreg, together with the IRTS and the individual involved, require that each event is applied for, giving relevant dates, location, contact details, hours of operation and the power of the transmitter being used.

In the period leading up to all this it was necessary to build and test a viable portable station based on the use of my Berlingo van. A 30' part of a 40' Spiderbeam fibreglass  pole was used with a simple round wooden peg to secure the 'Tee' wire antenna, which was fabricated from twin twisted multistrand speaker wire. The vertical used both, while the rest was pulled apart to form the two horizontal legs.

A 100 metre roll of 1.5 mm insulated earthing wire was cut into 16 lengths to provide radial wires, with lugs soldered to one end and a bonding bolt used to secure a single point for the radial kit. The far ends formed a small loop which was sealed and secured with insulating tape. The loop provided an eye for a small L shaped stiff wire, fashioned from discarded coat hangers, an ideal and cheap way to hold the ends of the radial wires in place in the ground.

To secure the antenna support to the van, I refer you to the excellent idea described by John EI7BA, on his web page, for a ball hitch connection:


Using this superb idea, I got the welder out and made one for myself. It worked perfectly.

I now had the support and wire antenna, with a ballpark figure for what might resonate, along with the radial kit. I next needed a dedicated antenna tuning unit. An old variometer and two extra fixed multitap coils were selected. A home made 1 amp ammeter and SWR twin meter unit completed the fit-out. These were all assembled on a base with a handle on the top, making it easy to move around whilst out and about.

The main antenna for 500kHz was disconnected and left floating and the van set up with all this gear, but no transmitter. Instead, my little antenna bridge running off a 9-volt battery provided the necessary signal to start testing for basic resonance.

Whether from sheer good luck or some sub-conscious input, resonance fell within the range of the variometer with only one of the two extra coils in circuit. The relative height and length also play a part in the range of resonance secured. Matching to 50 ohms was then optimized by selecting 4700 pf Mica capacitors using Croc Clip links. The available value ranged from 1 nF to 14 nF.

I have a selection of 500khz transmitters, two of which are to the design of Roger, GW3UEP, who lives 10 miles inland from the coast, in south Wales. His 500khz web site is well worth checking out, containing plans for versions of his 500khz transmitters, test equipment pictures and recordings of 500khz activities.


One of these was used to put some RF into this first portable style installation, and by arrangement, Roger listened and heard my signal. We delightedly completed a short contact, with my transmitter running just 10 watts.Things were looking good.

One of the very valuable things about portable operations stems from the need to bring together several elements to secure a working radio station, without the usual backup we enjoy from home. Planning is essential. Doing a dry run, i.e. actually physically building the intended station then notating all the gear required and making a list as well as providing backup items, particularly those that which if broken or lost, would render the whole radio station non-viable. This also extends to the operator of the equipment. Will they be warm or cool enough, have shade, food, water and enough needed rest? Always be prepared to abandon the project if safety is compromised, for whatever reason.

Now that I had a viable portable station for 500kHz working, it was time to head off and test both the equipment and myself in the real world, but without any live transmissions taking place.

Several sites were chosen and tested, with particular emphasis placed on remoteness, i.e. high up on mountains or near the sea. All sites worked very well, but those by the sea proved really excellent. Reception of NDB’s (Non Directional Beacons) provided a ready supply of medium to low frequency signals for range testing. I was now itching to “ have a go “ out in the wilds, on 500kHz! Using the method required by Comreg, an application was made for several sites, on specific days.

In early June I loaded up the van with all the gear and headed off for the mountain above Redcastle, County Donegal. Using a narrow track and climbing higher, to about 270 meters, a place was found leading to an old quarry. Typically, it had started to rain. By the time I had erected the support pole, pulled out and secured the top hat wires using light nylon line and deployed the radial wires around and below the vertical drop wire, my trouser ends were very wet!

Plugging in the 12-volt supply, the receiver was very quickly perked up, using the variometer. The Morse key connected to the QTX transmitter and the transmit / receiver switch flicked over. Time to get some RF flowing in the antenna. Sure enough, on key down, the antenna current meter shot right up to 400 mA, but the SWR match was not exactly perfect. Time to work those Croc Clips and start selecting shunt capacitors to find the perfect match. Soon I had that sorted to my satisfaction, with antenna current now up to 550 mA. A quick return to receive showed that Roger, GW3UEP was already tuned up on frequency.


He came back straight away! Oh joy, we were on the air on 500, in a remote mountain area, the top of my antenna almost tipping the clouds as they swept past. I was open to the elements, standing at the back door of the van with the tips of my fingers reaching for the knob of my very favourite old Amplidan morse key, snug beside the other bits and pieces of equipment on the van floor!

My logbook, with its pages flapping back and forward in the wind, soon had the first 500kHz portable contact documented. A full hour later, solid steady signals continued at a distance of 250 miles. Proving just how good groundwave signals can be, I terminated communications from the remote portable location, happy with the results. Within 12 minutes I had dismantled the station and was on my way to Moville, along with a strong cup of coffee at the café on the town's main street.

Several other portable operations have since taken place. A number have also occurred at my home location. We live right beside the sea; high tides lap up on to the salt marsh, which is part of the property.

Driving a single earth rod into the sea shore to a depth of 1 metre, with no radials and just a single wire between the rod and the ATU earth, the 1 amp RF meter had its meter needle slamming against the end stop. Lots of antenna current for 15 watts transmitter output power. Those same 15 watts only providing, at best, 550 mA, whilst up on the mountain sites.

Finally, it was thought productive to try a kite-supported antenna from the seashore portable set up. Winds on the day selected seemed strong enough to enable my Delta shape kite to head aloft with a flying line and antenna wire attached. The Berlingo van was driven down on shore, everything connected and tuned up. All was well, or was it?

The receiver now seemed quite dead with no band noise and no antenna current on transmit. Looking skywards I could see nothing. My eye followed the antenna wire heading for deeper water. Then I saw it. The kite had plunged into the sea! The following 30 minutes entailed untangling loads of seaweed with the line wrapped around rocks, barnacles and everything imaginable. What a mess! I almost gave up, but knew that Roger would be coming up on frequency, on sked, in about 15 minutes.

Eventually I managed to get the kite skywards again but by now the wind was acting more unpredictably. I established contact with Roger and he immediately gave me an S 7 report for my 15 watts. This equated to the report I would get from my main station antenna running 100 watts. My single ground rod and 150 feet of wire were doing the business.

We carried on our contact, but what remained became a battle of wits, with a kite constantly diving down and soaring up again. Several times the antenna wire was in part lying on the sea shore and antenna current way down to 200 mA or lower. My left hand was on the variometer tuning knob, tweaking the setting as best as possible, while pulling in the slack to keep the antenna wire off the ground. Feeding the wire out again to a misbehaving kite, I kept keying away with my right hand, keeping Roger updated so he could understand why my signal was changing both in pitch (sudden antenna mis-match conditions) and signal strength.

Luckily he was also making a recording, which proved later to be a fascinating record of a difficult portable antenna and station operation. It’s remarkable how tolerant, despite the wildly changing antenna conditions, the system actually was in practice. Communications were maintained despite all these negative factors and severely decreased radiated power at times.

Several other tests were conducted within these experiments which would have been almost impossible to conduct without the challenges thrown up by my portable operations. To my mind the 501 – 504khz band exhibits a distinct advantage for enhanced groundwave coverage over that available to higher frequencies.

Relatively simple equipment deployed in remote locations, with or without the availability of the power grid, would provide a solid backbone link or network in times of emergency. Transmitter power output was kept deliberately low to ensure that a higher ERP would not mask any possible weakness in the system. I am happy to conclude that Medium Frequency CW proved it’s worth once again.

Already I have further plans to test smaller, more compact portable antenna and earthing systems in more remote locations.

Finbar O’Connor EIØCF Malin, County Donegal.

CLE 235 Results

BF-362 Seattle
As it turned out, summer lightning noise was the least of CLE 235's problems!
The weekend event saw its all too often 'solar hit' shortly after the start of the event, with Friday evening being the only night (in North America anyway) that had propagation. Saturday and Sunday nights were almost complete blackouts, with just one catch recorded on each night.
With the K-index soring to at least 7, there was really not much to be heard after Friday night save for a very robust appearance from RG-352 at the Rarotonga International Airport, just before dawn on Sunday morning. Thanks to Dan, VE7DES, listening from the club station at UBC, for the tip!Disturbed conditions often seem to enhance the Pacific path but other than Hawaii, this was the only other signal heard from the west. Sunday morning found DPY-365 in Washington state. Up until that time, its signal had been completely missing-in-action ... but it was loud at 0100 local. Perhaps it had been down for maintenance and not on the air until Sunday.
courtesy: NOAA

My log consisted of 30 stations, with all but two from Friday night before the storm. As usual, the receiver was a Perseus SDR and an 'Inverted-L', resonated at 300 kHz.
25 07:00  350     VTR   McGrath, ALS
25 12:00  350     SWU   Idaho Falls, ID, USA
25 08:00  350     RG   Oklahoma City, OK, USA
25 07:00  350     NY   Enderby, BC, CAN
25 07:00  351     YKQ   Waskaganish, QC, CAN
26 12:00  352     RG   Rarotonga IAP, CKS
25 07:00  353     ZXY   Whitehorse, YT, CAN
25 08:00  353     PG   Portage La Prairie, MB, CAN
25 13:00  353     LLD   Lanai Island, HWA
25 07:00  353     AL   Dixie, WA, USA
25 12:00  355     AUB   King Salmon, ALS
25 12:00  356     ZXE   Saskatoon, SK, CAN
25 08:00  356     ZF   Yellowknife, NT, CAN
25 08:00  356     PND   Portland, OR, USA
25 08:00  356     ON   Penticton, BC, CAN
25 12:00  356     MEF   Medford, OR, USA
25 09:00  358     SIT   Sitka, ALS
25 09:00  359     YQZ   Quesnel, BC, CAN
25 09:00  359     YAZ   Tofino, BC, CAN
25 07:00  361     HI   Holman, NT, CAN
25 07:00  361     E3   Wabasca, AB, CAN
25 07:00  362     YZS    Coral Harbour, NU, CAN
25 07:00  362     RPX   Roundup, MT, USA
25 07:00  362     BF   Seattle, WA, USA
25 08:00  362     6T   Foremost, AB, CAN
25 07:00  365     YGZ   Grise Fiord, NU, CAN
25 12:00  365     MA   Mayo, YT, CAN
27 08:00  365     DPY   Deer Park, WA, USA
25 07:00  365     AA   Harwood, MN, USA
25 12:00  368     ZP   Sandspit, BC, CAN
25 12:00  368     VX   Dafoe, SK, CAN

The results from ALL participants may be viewed here.

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