Saturday, October 03, 2015

Odynn back on MW

Last Monday (September 28) there was a return to MW for a pirate who has concentrated on SW for the last couple of years. Radio Odynn was back on 183 metres, testing with his new SK010 transmitter. And the following evening he was on the air again, just for a few minutes. Even though conditions were poor, his signal with 35 watts of power was making it across the Netherlands, the North Sea and into the UK. He sent these pictures from the studio while he was testing.

The transmitter Odynn used when he was last on MW has gone and is now with another regular broadcaster at the top of the band. His new purchase, that you can see above, means he can continue to transmit on shortwave, but also has the option to use 1.6 MHz. Next time I hear him I might even have a nice cup of tea in the mug he gave me when I met him in the east of the Netherlands a few years ago!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Skipping long and far

Interesting propagation on MW this evening. I tuned in to 186 metres at around 1800 UTC and was met with a whole host of Balkan pirate stations coming in strongly between 1620 and 1670 kHz. Dutch pirate Radio Boomerang also reported strange conditions at the same time with signals much stronger at his location than usual.

There were a few Dutch pirates on air here and there but most were struggling to compete with their Balkan counterparts, except for Radio Meteoor, who was coming in very well on 1611. Unfortunately the station he was qsoing with was not faring quite as well.

Conditions have remained far from optimum all evening, although that has not stopped Wadloper packing a punch on 1645 kHz. He signed on at 1845 and has just announced he will be closing down soon. Sure, he's been fading around with the propagation, but he's been very strong on the peaks.

On a different note there was a nice delivery from the postman a few days ago when a qsl card (yes, a real one and not electronic!) arrived from the Netherlands. It was from Radio Wipkikker, who I recently heard for the first time. Such a nice touch to receive this as it's such a rarity these days to have a momento from a station that you can actually touch.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Super Saturday

As I write this at around 0130 local time on Sunday morning I'm listening to 1625 kHz and to Zwarte Panter from Oldenzaal in the very east of the Netherlands - he's playing a mix of tracks from the 80s together with some Dutch sounds and has just announced a transmitter power of 300 watts. He's the only Dutch pirate left on air after a busy evening during which I heard 18 different stations. 

Propagation conditions might have been strange on shortwave during Saturday evening, but it was a different story on MW with signals arriving really well from the other side of the North Sea. There were some low-power stations audible and even a new station for me.

I made a few recordings as I was listening and, if you take a listen, you will hear Akai, Turftrekker, Wipkikker, Hooiberg, Uniek, Casablanca and Romax:

And here's the list of stations I heard tonight:

Saturday, September 19, 2015
1655          1850         Hooiberg 44444 music programme
1636          1851         Keizer en Keizerin 43443 music programme
1629          1851         Wipkikker 45444-55544 music programme
1648          1857         Moby Dick 45444-55555 music programme    
1620          1856         Akai 35333-45444 qsoing
1615          1858         Poema 35333 music programme
1640          1933         Batavier 33433-44444 music programme
1615          1933         Turftrekker 35333-45444 qsoing
1611          1958         Tamboer junior 44444 music programme
1615          2003         Blauwe Koe 24222 qsoing
1631          2043         Uniek 34333-44444 music programme
1635          2309         Digitaal 44444 qsoing
1620          2319         Monte Carlo 44444 qsoing
1620          2324         Spakenburg 45444 qsoing
1620          2331         Zwarte Panter (Oldenzaal) 22322-33333 qsoing
1647          2333         Casablanca 54444 qsoing
1636          2339         Romax 45444 testing
1621          2342         Jeneverstoker 33333 qsoing
1625          2355         Zwarte Panter (Oldenzaal) 35333 qsoing and music programme

Thursday, September 17, 2015
1617          2025         Turftrekker 34333-54444 music programme
1620          2036         Rebel weak signal music programme
1656          2038         Turfsteker 35333 music programme
1636          2056         Pandora 55444 music programme


  • Blauwe Koe (Blue Cow) is a relatively new station. I heard him for the first time in July when he was using 1620 kHz. This evening he was qsoing on 1615 with Turftrekker and Korak. The signal was not particularly strong, but I understand he was using only 30 watts, so all in all he was doing pretty well
  • I was thinking recently that I hadn't heard Radio Uniek for some time. And a look at the logs reveals it was January 30 when his signal last found its way to my antenna. That changed tonight and he was coming in loud and clear for several hours with a music programme followed by a qso. Previously I have always heard him between 1645 and 1652 kHz, but tonight he was operating around 1631 (he started out on 1632 but ended up a bit lower). He usually runs in the region of only 100 watts and always does very well, sounding as though it is somewhat more

  • Wipkikker is a new one for me. Broadcasting from Friesland he was very strong during his broadcast in which he announced an email address of I understand he has been active for many years, and I recently saw a reception report that he was on air on a Saturday morning at the end of August. Perhaps he usually broadcasts during the daytime when propagation is against me. I am usually able to receive the Dutch MW pirates here only once the sun has gone down, although during the winter it can be possible to hear the high-power pirates a little earlier
  • Good to hear Romax on air late in the evening. I met him a few years back and it's always interesting to hear people on air when you can picture exactly where they are broadcasting from

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Knowing your Turf

For those not too familiar with the Dutch pirates, their names, their frequencies, there could have been some confusion on 183 metres this evening.

On 1617 kHz you could hear Radio Turftrekker (Turf tractor), while up the band on 1656 kHz was Radio Turfsteker (Turf cutter). Similar names and easy to confuse. But a handy pointer is that Turfsteker can nearly always be heard around 1655, while Turftrekker is at home around 1615-1630. 

Many of the Dutch MW pirates use coil antennas which have a very narrow bandwidth. This means moving up or down the band by only a few kilohertz can affect the efficiency of the antenna, which is why most stations stick to a similar frequency each time they broadcast. Think of Matrix, for example, and he is usually around 1670; Casablanca 1647; Utopia 1620; Keizer en Keizerin 1636; Witte Tornado 1647; Pandora 1636; Veronica 1640; Zonnester 1620; Moby Dick 1648. The list goes on and on . . .

While stations like to have their regular channel so listeners know where to find them, it's also as much to do with the antenna. So, next time if you're not 100 per cent sure who you're listening to, the frequency might just give the game away.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Three for the price of one

Conditions have been favourable for receiving the Dutch pirates tonight and I've spent much of the evening with the radio tuned in to 1645 kHz.

From around 1800, Radio Wadloper was coming in loud and clear until he closed down at around 2230. He wasn't alone in the studio - he was joined by Relmus, and also by Radio Nora, who was paying his first visit. As the picture shows, they had plenty of refreshments!

The signal from Wadloper became more stable as the evening continued and at times was like listening to a local station. Have a listen to the recording and you'll see what I mean:

Here's what else I heard tonight and a roundup of other recent logs made here in the UK:

Wednesday, September 16, 2015
1645          1812         Wadloper, Relmus, Nora 45444, 55555 at 2109
1635          1816         Boomerang 55444 testing
1654          1816         Oldtimer 45444 music programme
1620          1820         Quintus 34333 music programme
1629          1937         Marskramer (Friesland) music programme
1611          1945         Saporro 34433-44444 music programme
1625          2010         Boogschutter 25332-35333 music programme
1655          2037         Turfsteker 35232-35333 music programme
1626          2216         Jack Sparrow 55444 testing
1615          2238         Soerbaya 25232 testing

Monday, September 14, 2015
1640          2115         Veronica 25222-35333 music programme
1611          2135         Baantje weak signal music programme
1645          2137         Noordzee 35333 report for Veronica
1636          2159         Pandora 45444-55555 music programme
1621          2208         Omegha 25222 music programme

Friday, September 11, 2015
1620          1841         Zwarte Boekanier 34333, 45444 at 1941 music programme
1656          1923         Mustang 45444-55555 music programme
1629          1924         Turftrekker 35333 music programme
1640          1942         Batavier weak signal music programme
1620          2008         Calipso 55444 report for Zwarte Boekanier
1620          2013         Pontiac 55444 qsoing
1645          2017         Blauwe Reiger 45444 report for Mustang
1655          2020         Turfsteker 35333 qsoing
1645          2021         Nachtzwerver 35333 qsoing
1646          2036         Mustang 55444 qsoing
1660          2037         Zwarte BMW 35333 qsoing
1646          2320         Monte Carlo 45444 qsoing
1621          2329         Omegha 25222 testing

Wednesday, September 9, 2015
1615          1914         Spanningzoeker 55434 asking for report
1611          1932         Brugwachter 45434 report for Spanningzoeker
1611          1936         Saporro 34333 report for Spanningzoeker
1615          1937         Poema 44434 report for Spanningzoeker
1636          1937         Pandora 55544 report for Spanningzoeker
1629          1938         Marskramer (Friesland) 45333 music programme
1615          2011         Zwarte Golf 44333-44434 qsoing
1636          2032         Mi Amigo 45333-45434 music programme

Tuesday, September 8, 2015
1630          2129         Marianne 35333
1638          2130         Calimero 45444-55444 music programme
1640          2136         Noordzee 42542 qsoing
1625          2143         Ruimzicht 25222 qsoing
1629          2145         Noordzee 35333 qsoing
1636          2205         Romax 42432

Sunday, September 6, 2015
1620          0445         Zonnester 45444 music programme        

Saturday, September 5, 2015
1656          1842         Mustang 45434-55444 music programme        
1627          1907         Barones 45444 music programme
1611          1908         Moonbreaker 23322 music programme
1636          1909         Keizer en Keizerin 35333 music programme
1648          1920         Moby Dick 35333-45444 music programme        
1615          2031         Schaduwjager 55544 music programme      
1617          2228         Barones music programme
1642          2230         Nachtzwerver 34333 music programme  

Thursday, September 3, 2015
1665          2031         Meteoor 35333-45444
1648          2049         Armada 35333 music programme

Saturday, September 05, 2015

The place to be

Radio Sterrekijker has started a new trend, it seems. Following his broadcast on 747 kHz this week, other pirates have followed suit. On Tuesday evening Blauwe Piraat carried out a short test while this morning Sterrekijker was back on the channel qsoing with Blue Star and Meteoor

The signals were heard in the north of the Netherlands and I'm hoping these stations and more of them will also be active during the hours of darkness so we get a chance to listen here in the UK.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Stargazing on 747

An era in broadcasting came to a close on Monday night when national Dutch broadcaster NPO closed down its MW outlets on 747 and 1251 kHz at around midnight local time and Radio Maria ceased broadcasting on 675 kHz.  

This leaves a few holes on the MW band, but one pirate station was quick to fill the gap on 747 kHz. As Radio 5 Nostalgia closed its transmitter Radio Sterrekijker switched on and stayed on air throughout the night and well into the afternoon today with non-stop music and the occasional announcement, interspersed with jingles.

Although I couldn't hear the signal last night due to mixing of various other stations, and couldn't hear it today as it was several hours before sunset, Sterrekijker was getting out very well across the Netherlands with his 50-metre high inverted L antenna. These recordings and pictures give a good idea of how the station was being received. The first one comes courtesy of Radio Pacman:

Sterrekijker is no stranger to trying out interesting frequencies and has tested on 1224 kHz in recent weeks. The success of this latest adventure into the main part of the MW suggests 747 will be the place to look out for him in the future. Don't forget Friday evening is the regular time to catch this industrious Dutch pirate.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Rain, rain go away!

There's lots of rain together with thunder in the east of the Netherlands as I write this. But Witte Tornado and The Lady are on the air regardless of the weather conditions with their regular Sunday afternoon/evening broadcast. I was there around six weeks ago and I can imagine the top of the antenna swaying in the wind as I listen to their music on 1647 kHz. The signal is pretty strong here, but with plenty of static crashes. Generally the sinpo is around 45343, so perfectly listenable. 

The rest of the top of the MW band is silent here, and a quick look on the sdr at Enschede reveals there is nothing else to be heard even locally. It also shows the reason why. Look at this screen grab and you will see the vertical line marking the Witte Tornado signal on 1647, but all the horizontal lines are the continual static due to the thunderstorms. Its not easy to listen to anything with that much noise on the band, which explains why most pirates have decided on an early night!

A few minutes ago Radio Desperado also mentioned the bad weather in the north of the Netherlands as he closed down on 6260 kHz from his second ever SW broadcast. His signal was a little stronger than last night and I made a short recording:

Something old and something new

The last few days have been interesting in a number of ways. Activity levels from the sun have been creating very volatile conditions, particularly on shortwave with signals quickly fading out from very strong to nothing in no time at all. Tonight, for example, Cupid Radio was blasting away on 6281 one minute and then he was gone the next.

MW seems a little more stable than in recent weeks, although perhaps the new loop antenna at this side is working the magic. It certainly seems to be helping with reception in the early morning, and there was a nice surprise on Wednesday when I heard Calipso on 1620 kHz. It's been a good while since I heard him on the air as he's been taking a more cautions approach in recent months. While it was good to hear this well-established pirate on the air again, it was also equally refreshing to catch a new name, for me anyway, later in the day when hearing Baantje on the same frequency.

Here's the lowdown with my recent logs:

Saturday, August 29, 2015
1665          1859         Matrix 35333 music programme
1636          1907         Keizer en Kezierin 35333 music programme
1648          2010         Moby Dick 45444 music programme
1656          2013         Malibu 25222-35333 music programme
1620          2109         Barones 35333-45444 music programme
1655          2139         Witte Raaf 35333-45444 music programme
1638          2307         Monte Carlo 45444 qsoing
1638          2314         Calimero 55444 qsoing
1630          2323         Monte Carlo 45444 qsoing

Friday, August 28, 2015
1656          2008         Mustang 54444
1638          2009         Armada 45444-55544 music programme
1646          2029         Zwarte Bizon 45434 qsoing
1645          2032         Blauwe Reiger 35333-44444 qsoing
1646          2036         Mustang 55444 qsoing
1624          2054         Boogschutter 25222 qsoing
1638          2105         Calimero 55544 music programme
1645          2111         Armada 45434 qsoing
1665          2120         Polkaman 35333
1645          2128         Noordzee 44333 qsoing

Thursday, August 27, 2015
1620          2237         Spakenburg 45333-45444 music programme
1625          2259         Jeneverstoker 34333 asking for report
1636          2333         Pandora 45434 report for Stoker

Wednesday, August 26, 2015
1620          0445         Calipso 25222-45454 music programme
1640          1908         Veronica 35222-45333 music programme
1631          1909         Marksramer (Friesland) 35232 music programme
1620          1917         Baantje 35232-35333 music programme
1539          2031         Energy FM 33433
1620          2053         Saporro 45333 report for Baantje
1633          2106         Barcelona 44444-55444 music programme
1638          2108         Calimero 55444 music programme


  • There has been plenty of static knocking around on MW in the last few days with thunderstorms around Europe playing their part. Matrix was breaking through the noise tonight (Saturday) really well with his low-power transmitter, as was Malibu. And it was good to catch Witte Raaf for the first time in ages, and a pleasure to have Barones accompanying me on 1620 as I update the blog
  • As I mentioned, I was also listening to SW tonight and it was a surprise to catch Desperado on 6265 kHz a couple of weeks after I heard him on 1606 and 1611 kHz on MW. It was his first time on SW and he was on air all evening with just 35 watts and an impressive signal
  • On Friday evening there was an entertaining qso started off by a powerhouse signal from Mustang. It's been a while since I heard the distinguished voice of the Zwaaaaaaaaaarte Bizon, who always makes me smile with his iconic ID. Also involved in the qso was Boogschutter. A few months ago there was a station using this name together with a robotic voice, but they are two different stations. This one was considerably weaker, although perfectly audible here, and seemingly running far less power. It was another new name for me. Here's how the stations qsoing were coming across the North Sea:

  • Spakenburg has returned to the air recently after a break. He's using a different vertical antenna now to when he was previously on air, although he's often experimenting with new designs. He tells me this one has a bad swr but is nevertheless working well. In fact he received a report from Italy on Thursday night with a sinpo of 55555. The signal was pretty good here too:

  • Baantje is not a regular on MW and it was the first time I had heard him when catching his signal on 1620 on Wednesday evening. The static crashes were quite heavy that night, so reception was disturbed, but his low-power signal was doing pretty well. When he closed down he had a chat to Saporro, who was coming in a little bit stronger, in fact perhaps the best I have heard him. He was trying out a new transmitter, and it gets a thumbs-up from here!

  • Some months ago internet station Energy was getting regular relays on 1476 kHz. What appears to be the same transmitter popped up on 1539 on Wednesday evening. The frequency is nowhere near as clear and there was plenty of mixing going on with other signals but the strength was pretty good. It would be great if whoever is responsible for these relays were to come on air with some programmes

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Latest logs

After weeks of struggling to hear the Dutch MW pirates due largely to poor conditions I can now hear something each evening - and even during the early mornings too, a sure sign autumn is on it's way.

Before sunrise on Saturday and Sunday morning I set the computer to record 1620 kHz and each time I was rewarded, with Torpedojager first time, followed by Zonnester the next day.

I've listened for only about an hour this evening but heard a handful of stations. Snowman has been doing great work with just a few watts from the north of the Netherlands, while it was interesting to hear Torpedojager at this time of day. Usually during the winter I catch him on a Thursday morning with his weekly programme.

Here are the latest logs:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015
1630          2134         Monte Carlo 35333 qsoing
1610          2136         Anton 44444 music programme
1629          2137         Noordzee 34443 qsoing
1636          2138         Romax 35333-45444 qsoing
1636          2142         Torpedojager 35333-55444 music programme
1650          2150         Snowman 35333 music programme

Monday, August 24, 2015
1638          2110         Armada 45333 music programme
1620          2135         Amigo 35333 music programme
1630          2149         Ruimzicht 24222 report for Amigo
1625          2159         Ruimzicht 24222-34333 qsoing

Sunday, August 23, 2015
1620          0445         Zonnester 45444 at 0505 music programme
1638          2220         Calimero 55444 music programme

Saturday, August 22, 2015
1620          0450         Torpedojager 35243 music programme
1646          1930         Mustang 45333-45444 music programme
1620          1930         Tamboer Jnr 35333 testing
1636          1932         Keizer en Keizerin 35333-45344 music programme
1630          2002         Blue Star 35333, 45444 at 2218 testing
1648          2011         Moby Dick 35333, 55444 at 2215 music programme
1615          2215         Batavier 25222-35333 music programme
1645          2314         Spakenburg 44444 qsoing
1642          2315         Monte Carlo 44444 qsoing

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Keeping the noise down

I've been trying out a new version of the Wellbrook loop antenna this week - the latest low-noise design. 

I always use 10db of attenuation with the Kenwood R-5000 receiver here which moderates the signals a little as the meter is quite generous. This also reduces the noise reading, and with the new loop I am now often getting just an S1 of noise at the top of the MW band, which is perfect for pulling in pirate signals big and small. So, I might hear a station coming in at, say, S4. You might think this is not very strong, but it's three s points above the noise level, so better than receiving a signal at S9+10 when the noise level is S9. 

A crucial factor with reception reports often overlooked is the noise floor - it's a vital piece of information, and this new loop certainly helps a great deal on that count. Trying it out on 48 metres alongside an inverted v antenna for that band is pretty telling. Even without looking at s meters, you can hear the difference in noise level. And the meter backs that up with a difference of a couple of points between the two antennas.

You might not think cutting down the noise level a little bit is a big deal, but it is really noticeable and after just a few days of use I cannot imagine going back to early versions of this loop antenna, which although were very good, have been well and truly trumped with this version. I guess it's a bit like washing powders . . . the adverts on TV always say they're brilliant - until the next one comes out and you cannot imagine how you managed without the newest version.

Here's what I've heard from the Dutch pirates since I installed the Wellbrook ALA1530LN+. All times are UTC as usual, so two hours behind local Dutch time.

Friday, August 21, 2015
1655          1915         Relmus 45444-55555 music progamme
1637          1930         Edelkampioen 45444 qsoing
1623          1935         Vrolijke Mijnwerker 45444-55444 music progamme
1638          1936         Dikke Betta 35333 qsoing
1635          1958         Boomerang 54444 testing
1610          2001         Mi Amigo 34333 music programme
1640          2042         Schaduwjager 55544 asking for report
1640          2052         Noordzee 45444 report for Schaduwjager
1665          2155         Polkaman 35333-45344 music programme
1661          2156         Nachtzwerver 23322-35333 music programme
1647          2259         Monte Carlo 45444 report for Nachtzwerver
1627          2316         Jeneverstoker 23222-34333 qsoing
1618          2317         Pioneer 24322 testing with FM relay
1636          2329         Pandora 55444 music programme

Tuesday, August 18, 2015
1620          2125         Batavia 25222-35333 music programme 
1611          2135         Desperado 24222 music programme
1636          2255         Pandora 45444 music programme
1623          2308         Jeneverstoker 25222-35333 qsoing
1606          2336         Desperado 32422 testing


  • It was little autumn had come earlier during Friday evening with some great signals coming through. It was great to hear Relmus doing the business all night long on 1655, and a surprise to hear Edelkampioen qsoing - I think that's the first time I've heard him chatting to another station. His signal, without doubt, was the best I've ever heard. Having seen his antenna, transmitter and general set-up when I visited last month, reception this time was just like I thought must be possible. Have a listen to how he was coming through on this recording:

  • Boomerang is not a regular on MW. In fact, looking at my logs shows I've not heard him up there since December 2011. He was testing on Friday night and coming through really well - his audio was very smooth as well. Perhaps he'll come on and do some programmes some time?
  • 1606 kHz is not a frequency you often hear pirates using, but Desperado was trying it out on Tuesday night. He had been on 1611 earlier in the evening with a music programme, which was coming in quite well at times here even though the power at his side was only 60 watts. His antenna was peaked for 1606 though and, sure enough, he was marginally stronger when he switched down 5 kHz. Trouble is, there was much more interference on that channel from 1602. He plans to adjust the antenna so the optimum frequency is 1611. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Can you hear the difference?

Some very nice signals arriving here tonight from the Netherlands. This seems to be a combination of the new loop antenna we received this week, together with good conditions and some power stations on the band.

Right now I'm listening to Vrolijke Mijnwerker on 1623 kHz, and I've also been enjoying the music from Relmus, who is still going strong on 1655, and from Schaduwjager who was on 1640 a little earlier, either side of a qso with Noordzee.

Mijnweker, Relmus and Schaduwjager have all been putting in very similar signals here, touching around 70% on the meter. What is interesting though, is that they all sound very different indeed, even on the Kenwood communications receiver I'm using this evening. I made a recording of three, so have a listen and see what you think.

All three sound nice and loud, but are quite clearly using different types of modulation and sound processing. I heard Boomerang testing on 1635 earlier this evening, and Edelkampioen qsoing on 1637. Both were also very strong but again had a different sound. The modulation and audio quality is an aspect of the hobby I find particularly interesting, and it can help to identify stations as well. When you know a particular sound it is often possible to know who you are listening to before a word has even been spoken!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Worth a listen

This weekend marks 48 years since the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act was introduced in a bid by the government to bring an end to the era of offshore radio that in Britain was started by Radio Caroline at Easter in 1964. And there is a tribute to those water-based pirates of the past courtesy of Radio Tatras InternationalThree days of interviews and recordings started yesterday and continue across the weekend, so if you fancy a bit of nostalgia, why not visit the website and click on the live streaming link.

And while you're at it, if you own a Kindle, now could be the ideal time to read Tom Lodge's first-hand look at life on Radio Caroline in those early days. The Ship That Rocked The World is available to download for free from Amazon and is well worth it. I read the book in a couple of sittings during my holiday in Ibiza last week and I could almost feel the excitement as a generation of youngsters tuned in to something the world had never heard before.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Back from the island

From August 5 I spent a week in Ibiza with my wife and two daughters. The weather was hot, the drinks were flowing and we had a great time. 

I read that the island attracts most of its holidaymakers from Spain, Britain and the Netherlands, and indeed we did hear many Dutch accents during our stay. That got me wondering if I saw any pirates in Ibiza, especially when one one afternoon we took a boat trip and a Dutch chap in front of us had a tattoo across the top of his back. It read AM DJ!

I took the KPO receiver with me and a little loop antenna for MW reception, but I didn't manage to hear any pirates, although I listened out only a few times. There was plenty of local noise from the hotel and the very hot weather meant there was lots of static on the bands as well.

Back here in England there's no chance of getting burnt by the sun. It's rained all day long and the forecast resembles something from early autumn rather than the height of the summer. Propagation seems to be pretty good on MW and SW though. 

One of the first stations I heard when we returned from holiday was Radio Universe from the Netherlands. I hadn't heard him for ages, so it was a nice surprise to catch him on the air, even if it was just the last few minutes of his broadcast.

I've got another loop antenna on the way from Wellbrook Communications, which will be interesting to try out. It's a new design which promises a little less gain on signals but a significantly lower noise floor. That should prove ideal for picking low power Dutch pirate signals out of the ether on MW during the next few months. I will of course report back with my findings.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

The secret sound - on MW

Well I just got a very nice surprise at the top of the MW band. 

Radio Borderhunter is a regular on SW and a station I've always enjoyed listening to. In fact, when I was away from the pirate scene during the early part of the last decade I sometimes had a quick scan around the 48 metre band on a Sunday morning or late on a Saturday night just to see who was about. And if I found the Borderhunter, I would stick with him.

Anyway, in a first for me, I'm currently listening to him on MW, on 1660 kHz using his Dutch name Grensjager. This is his first broadcast on the band for about eight years, apparently. He's currently trying out a half-wave dipole which he's just assembled. That's good news for us listeners outside of the Netherlands as we can look forward to a good signal in Europe, although domestic listeners are likely to have plenty of fading when they tune in. That is why the vertical coil is so popular over there and the antenna of choice for many of the MW pirates as the groundwave created with the coil is pretty good for covering plenty of the country, whereas the greater skywave with a wire antenna means the signal tends to go further afield. I'm not complaining though, as it means I'll be able to listen to the Borderhunter on MW!

There are plans for plenty of programmes on 1660 kHz during the next few weeks, so drop by on the frequency and have a listen.

MW pirates on SW

A couple of evenings ago there was something out of the ordinary on 6238 kHz. Black Bandit (aka Abu Dhabi) was booming in loud and clear on the frequency. Nothing strange about that as he's always powerhouse strength over here and in most of Europe. However, the content of his broadcast raised my eyebrows a notch. 

You never quite know what's coming up next when Black Bandit is on air, but this time it was even more unexpected. He was rebroadcasting a qso from the top of the MW live on to shortwave. So, while I could hear Zender Johan on 1620 with a fair signal, it was loud and clear on 6238, although with the static and fading being received at the Black Bandit's location.

It was interesting to be able to hear reception somewhere else in the Netherlands other than via the SDR at Enschede. Also involved in the qso was Mustang, Vriendschap, Monte Carlo and Casablanca, all received here with similar signals.

Talking about Mustang, he was been busy a few times on MW recently, switching from SW where he can be heard most of the time. His signal is usually pretty good.

And while this qso was taking place on Sunday evening (August 1), Radio Snowman was busy with a music programme on 1655. Sure, he wasn't strong this time but I could hear him which was quite something considering he runs only 20 watts and conditions were far from great.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Time for a summer break

I'm down in the radio room with some souvenirs from the Netherlands - Amstel and a Fryslan bottle opener! Im winding down as I've got only more more day at work until more than two weeks holiday, and I'm listening to some MW action from across the water.

Vrolijke Mijnwerker is pretty strong on 1620 kHz, Pandora was on air on 1636 a few minutes ago, and earlier Calimero was doing well as usual on his regular slot of 1638 kHz. And Mustang has just signed on 1646 with a big signal.

These higher-power pirates all do well even when conditions are not at their peak. But last night there was some added interest when low-power Radio Rebecca was coming through on 1620 kHz.

I had a look at my logs and it seems I've not heard this station since January 2012, so it was great to catch him after so long. His signal was crossing the North Sea pretty well. Sure, there was some fading, but at the peak it was pretty good considering the time of year and the transmitter power involved. Have a listen to the recording and you can hear for yourself. It comes up particularly well at around the 50 second mark.

Rebecca was busy qsoing last night with various stations, including Quintus, Bonte Specht and Saporro, a trio who I also don't hear often, especially at this time of year. It seems propagation is slowly moving into autumn mode. Can't wait to start hearing the stations that don't make it during the warmer months.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Trip to the Netherlands

Since my last post, I've been across the North Sea to the Netherlands, where I went to the Summer Meeting, an annual get-together of pirate folk and a chance to meet up with lots of old friends and to make some new ones.

I travelled over from Harwich to the Hook of Holland on July 2 and headed straight to the east of the Netherlands and to Radio Barones, who I have been visiting for over 20 years. He kindly allowed me to use his house as my base while I was over there until July 7. 

The next day I went with the Baro to meet Henri of Radio Poema. He was waiting for us at his house, along with Arjan from Radio Edelkampioen, and we were later joined by the operator of Radio Salo. We all had a great time in the sunshine, with food and drink and a look around two pirate studios. As ever, the sheer height of Dutch pirate masts never fails to surprise me, along with great attention to detail elsewhere, with purpose-built studios a real surprise. Like I said to them, British pirates are often hidden away in the spare bedroom on their own, fearful of being found. But in the Netherlands it is often the complete opposite.

On Friday night it was time for the Barones transmitter to swing into action and we broadcast into the early hours of Saturday morning, July 4 on 1611 kHz. There was lots of contact from listeners who seemed to be enjoying our show, and the beers were flowing all night long!

Saturday was a very busy day, taking in visits to the operators of Radio Monza and Radio Admiraal as I made my way to the Summer Meeting, together with Radio Technical Man and Radio Soerabaya.

And at the meeting it was great to see lots of pirates and friends, including Powerliner, Foxfire, Black Arrow, Borderhunter, Batavier, Relmus, Mustang, Tidalwave, Sluwe Vos, Python, Underground from the UK and to meet some new ones too. It seems the operator or Radio Calimero is as fun in real life as he sounds on air, with his stories in a mixture of languages! Also great to meet Terry from Little Feat Radio in the UK, to finally talk with the operator of Radio Pirana from Norway after knowing him for over two decades, and good also to have a nice chat with Artem from Moscow.

On Sunday after a quiet breakfast at the Summer Meeting it was time to head to the east of the Netherlands again and to Radio Utopia. Great to catch up with this fine pirate once more, and nice he was able to spare his afternoon and evening to join me and Technical Man on visits to three husband and wife combinations who can often be heard at the top of the MW band.

First stop was the Keizer en Keizerin, where there was beer and herring in the garden, followed by a whirlwind and some broken glass in the back door! They later accompanied us to visit Witte Tornado and the Lady, who had just started their weekly programme on 1647 kHz. Their hospitality was also super, with non-stop drinks, food and even some 45s to bring back to England. 

The final stop on our Sunday pirate visit was to Tante Foeke and Viking. If you've ever tuned in to 1671 kHz late on a Saturday night and heard an intoxicated lady singing very loudly, that is Tante Foeke! And I'm pleased to say she is just the same in real life as on the radio, although no singing on this occasion! There was more drink and more food and a T-Shirt to bring back home which my wife has been modelling this week! It was a very pleasant evening, and now I also know where the Viking gets his name from!

By the time I made it back to the Barones it was around 0300 local time - it had been some weekend! I had planned a morning visit to Powerliner on Monday, and perhaps a trip to Mustang during the evening, but in the end I had a good rest and a visit to a couple of local supermarkets to shop for beer to bring home.

I must say a big thank-you to everybody who helped make my latest stay in the Netherlands so enjoyable, all the pirates and lovely people who couldn't do enough to make sure I had a good time. Thank you also to Sisca for making me so welcome and for the gifts. 

I look forward to seeing everybody again next year!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Big guns out in force

The weekend got off to a flyer on SW with some great conditions and some cracking signals. On Friday evening Borderhunter got the ball rolling on 6282 kHz, and when he closed down the Black Bandit - with one of his million pseudonyms- hit the airwaves on 6210 kHz.

And a little while ago on this Saturday evening Mustang was booming in on 6750 kHz, a frequency he has been using quite often just recently. There was great reception of other stations, including England's Radio Blackbeard, on 6305 last night, and Magic AM from Amsterdam on 6321.

These recordings give an idea of how the big guns were being received here in England:

MW Free Radio