Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The longest day

I haven't been listening to the pirates a great deal during the last few weeks, mainly because history tells me this isn't a good time of the year to tune in. The long hours of daylight and poor propagation conditions are never a good mix. However, with yesterday being the longest day of the year there is plenty to look forward to. Not that I'm wishing away the summer, but the days will gradually shorten, the hours of darkness will increase and the chances to listen to the Dutch MW pirates will become more plentiful.

When I turned the radio on this evening I thought conditions were even further down than I imagined. I could literally catch only the very odd weak signal. It took me a good ten minutes to realise I had disconnected the outdoor loop antenna during one of last week's storms!

It seems there is a deal of bad weather somewhere not too far from here again as the static tonight is as bad as I can recall in a good while. That is not stopping Radio Calimero from powering away on his usual frequency of 1638 kHz with another of his lengthy broadcasts, while on 1620 kHz is the tiny transmitter of Radio Snowman, whose signal from Friesland is pretty good.

Also on the air right now is Radio Turfsteker. He's on 1645 kHz and runs only around 50 watts. Again, the signal is pretty good all things considered. Now if only the static crashes would disappear, listening conditions would be great. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Quality reception

There have been some very good propagation conditions on MW during the last couple of weeks which have made for some ideal opportunities to listen to the Dutch pirates in decent quality. 

Local interference in this area can be annoying at times, but I'm managing to just about null most of it out with some very fine movements of the loop antenna on the rotator and, when things get worse, by bringing the really handy noise canceller into operation. This is a great bit of kit which I cannot recommend highly enough.

I made these recordings on May 15 - you can hear Studio Friesland, running only low power, followed by Wipkikker, Barones, Twentana and Witte Tornado. The really surprising one in here is Twentana - his signal strength out of five is usually in the region of 2-3 here, but on this occasion it was hugely improved

A couple of months ago I mentioned I had added another radio to my collection - the Tecsun PL-380. I've heard good reports about these and it seems they weren't wrong. Here's a short video clip of Johnny Tobacco coming in loud and clear. Now I know this station is always strong throughout Europe, but all I was using to receive him was the telescopic antenna with the radio indoors. I've been mightily impressed by the sensitivity of this receiver - and all for about £30!

I haven't updated the logbook for a while here on the blog, mainly because I haven't been logging station quite as religiously as I do during the winter, but here's some of the stations I've heard in recent weeks:

Thursday, May 19, 2016
1671          2027         Armada 35333-45444 music programme
1647          2028         Digitaal 45444 music programme
1620          2041         Ruisbreker 24222-34333 music programme
1625          2041         Wilskracht 24222-34333 music programme
1630          2113         Studio Friesland 33333-34443

Sunday, May 15, 2016
1625          2005         Barones 55555 at 2124 music programme
1636          2010         Witte Tornado 34333-45444 music programme
1655          2045         Wilskracht 34333 music programme
1620          2052         Studio Friesland 34333 asking for report
1629          2056         Wipkikker 44444 report for Studio Friesland
1620          2104         Wipkikker 44444 report for Studio Friesland
1665          2135         Twentana 35333-45544 music programme

Thursday, May 12, 2016
1622          2135         Witte Raaf 45333 music programme
1494          2226         Batavia 33433 music programme

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
1638          1930         Calimero 35343 music programme
1640          1945         Moskou 33333
1620          2003         Mustang 45333-55444 music programme
1665          2011         Twentana 25222-35333 music programme
1620          2034         Spanningzoeker 55444 asking for report

Monday, May 9, 2016
1638          1945         Calimero 24322-34333 music programme
1640          1945         Veronica 24322-44444 music programme
1625          2013         Digitaal 45343 music programme

Sunday, May 8, 2016
1647          2147         Witte Tornado 45444-55555 music programme

Thursday, May 5, 2016
1611          2025         Schaduwjager 55444 music programme
1647          2026         Armada 45333-55444 music programme
1638          2026         Calimero 35333 music programme
1626          2026         Polydor 35333 music programme
1611          2057         Zeewolf 24222-34333 report for Schaduwjager

Monday, May 2, 2016
1645          2015         Twentana 35333 testing

Tuesday, April 26, 2016
1636          1912         Blauwe Koe 35232-45444 music programme
1630          1922         Marianne 34333-44444 music programme
1613          1925         Capri 55434 music progamme with monster mod
1652          1930         Digitaal 45444 music programme
1655          1930         Dikke Betta 44444
1669          1938         Zwarte Panter 24222-45444 music programme
1671          1952         Twentana 25222-35333
1640          1954         Batavier 23222
1622          2012         Twentana 25222-35333 music programme

Monday, April 25, 2016
1640          1907         Veronica 35343 music programme
1635          1938         Melkbus 25222-35333 testing
1611          2016         Zwarte Boer 32322 music programme
1647          2016         Armada 45434 testing
1630          2019         Melkbus 25222 testing

Saturday, April 23, 2016
1655          1832         Relmus 45444 music programme
1636          1832         Keizer en Keizerin 35343 music programme
1611          1840         Moonbreaker 25232-35333 music programme

Tuesday, April 19, 2016
1630          1928         Marianne music programme

Monday, April 18, 2016
1640          1928         Veronica 25222-35333 music programme        
1625          1956         Verona 25222-35333 music programme

Thursday, April 14, 2016
1611          1943         Zwarte Boer 25222 music programme
1620          1944         Marskramer 35333-45434
1632          1945         Boogschutter 25222 music programme
1647          1945         Armada 45434 music programme

Monday, April 11, 2016
1615          1750         Zwarte Boekanier 25232 music programme
1620          1751         Calipso 45454-55555 music programme
1636          1805         Bluawe Koe 35322-45454 music programme
1640          1810         Veronica 23432-3443 weekly music programme
1635          1855         Ruisbreker 22422 music programme

Sunday, April 10, 2016
1630          1942         Digitaal 45444 music programme
1638          1946         Calimero 35333 music programme
1647          1947         Witte Tornado 45444 music programme
1611          2204         Baantje 35222-35333 music programme
1646          2214         Barcelona 55444 report for Witte Tornado

Tuesday, April 5, 2016
1665          2128         Batavier 35333-45444 music programme
1638          2133         Calimero 45444 music programme
1611          2133         Noorderzon 24222 music programme
1632          2140         Ruimzicht 25342 qsoing   
1638          2149         Noordzee 42432 qsoing
1647          2152         Monte Carlo 35333 qsoing

Saturday, April 2, 2016
1636          2026         Keizer en Keizerin 44444 music programme
1652          2029         Moby Dick 44444-55444 music programme
1658          2030         Turfsteker 34333 music programme
1647          2045         Quintus 33333-44444 music programme
1617          2103         Uniek 44444 music programme

Thursday, May 12, 2016

1494 kHz

Something interesting has just cropped up on 1494 kHz. It's Radio Batavia from the Netherlands. The station has been busy on shortwave recently, mainly using 5890 kHz, but they are back on MW right now and being heard on this unusual frequency for the first time. 

There is a fair bit of Dutch pirate activity in the main MW band, especially on a weekend, but most broadcasts are made during the daytime when reception is not possible at our location in the UK, so it makes a nice change to hear an in-band pirate.  The signal right now is fair with a little bit of interference and fading, but it's certainly listenable.

Batavia's most regular frequency on MW is 1620 kHz, but they are no stranger to trying something different. Ive heard them on 1539, 1593 and 1512 before now. The output power is usually in the region of 200 watts, I believe, and results are generally pretty good. Keep an ear out on 1494 - now they've tried it with success I'm sure they will be back on the frequency again.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Well worth a visit

Last week I was passing through the Shropshire town of Craven Arms and found an interesting looking place called The Land Of Lost Content. Now I like the weird and wonderful, which might explain my fascination with Dutch pirates (!), so I stepped inside to take a look around. 

On three different levels, the building, which you can see below, is literally packed from floor to ceiling with all sorts of paraphernalia from the last 50 years. It is the lifetime collection of one lady and her husband and charts British life through the ages with artefacts from each and every era. 

Remember the Sinclair C5? The museum has one. Remember the Aztec bar? It was Cadbury's answer to the Mars bar, first produced in 1967 and discontinued some time in the 1970s. There is one of those on show too.

You may ask what all this has to do with radio . . . well, one of the 32 exhibitions is a fascinating collection of radios with all sorts of receivers dating back many years. There are shelves of transistor models and the valve radios that grace the studios of most Dutch pirates. In fact, I can think of several pirates who have a similar collection to that on show in the museum. I'd have loved to switch some of them on and whip out a loop antenna!

Sadly, they do not permit photography, otherwise I would have taken plenty of pictures to show you. I can thoroughly recommend a visit if you are ever in the area. I've seen nothing like it before and will definitely be visiting again.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Still here!

Good evening from the UK.

Firstly, many apologies for the lack of blogging activity during the last two months. February and March are always really busy times for me with work, and it was just the same again this year. That doesn't mean to say I've not been scanning the bands and listening to the radio - just that I've found less time than usual to write about what I've been hearing. I've been posting on my Twitter account though, so it's always worth having a look on there.

It was my birthday at the end of March (many thanks for all the greetings via WhatsApp and on my Facebook page), and one of my presents was a small portable radio - the Tecsun PL-380 which I've been having fun with. For such a tiny receiver I've been quite surprised by what it can receive with only the in-built antennas. I'll have to try it with my little MW loop and see what happens.

It was good to hear plenty of activity over Easter... one of the most enjoyable broadcasts came on the evening of my birthday when I found Sluwe Vos powering in on 4005 kHz. I was listening up in the living room rather than down in the radio room, using the Lowe HF150 hooked up to the outdoor Wellbrook loop antenna. Reception was great, and I made this video:

Going back into February I made a few recordings which I posted to my SoundCloud account and via Twitter. Some cracking reception here of some of the Dutch MW pirates coming in loud and clear:

Now the clocks have changed and we are working on British Summer Time in the UK, and the days are getting longer, it means reception of the Dutch MW pirates will not be quite so easy as during the winter. When the days are at their shortest it can be possible to hear stations until around 0930 UTC and then again from around 1300. Summer is a totally different matter and often with increased static on the band as well. However, hopefully there will still be plenty to listen to and write about.

As I type this I've just been listening to a qso between Ruimzicht, Monte Carlo and Noordzee, who was interestingly using 1638 kHz while Calimero was busy with a long music programme on the same frequency. I've noticed this happens quite regularly with these two stations!

Also during the last hour, Batavier was testing on 1665 kHz and getting a good signal across the North Sea, although he wasn't 100 per cent happy with his audio. And down the band on 1611 was Noorderzon, who was doing very well as usual with his low power transmitter. And now another station has just signed on 1642 kHz with a big signal. Good to hear plenty of activity. Long may it last.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Manic Monday

The Bangles could have been singing about the MW band yesterday evening in their 1985 hit Manic Monday. I switched on the radio at about 1730 local time thinking I might hear one or two stations if conditions were good enough. What did I hear? One station after another during a hefty qso round, followed later in the evening by a music programme or two. In total I identified over 20 different Dutch pirates, although I heard several more stations, too.

There were some familiar names among the many pirates I heard, stations like Digitaal, Vrolijke Mijnwerker and Monte Carlo, but there were some I don't hear so often like Alaska, Osaka and Blauwe Koe, and a new one for me with Blauwe Kaktus from the Veluwe:

Monday, February 15, 2016
1620          1728         Blauwe Piraat 25222-35333 qsoing
1647          1736         Twentana 35333-45444 testing
1665          1739         Digitaal 45444 qsoing
1622          1745         Pioneer (Rotterdam) 45444 asking for report
1630          1745         Alaska 35333 qsoing
1628          1754         Blauwe Kaktus 24222 qsoing
1628          1757         Digitaal 35333 qsoing
1630          1800         Pioneer 45444 qsoing
1638          1804         Osaka 35333 asking for report
1615          1809         Blue Star 25222-35333 testing
1629          1816         Daytona 55555 qsoing
1629          1825         Dageraad 34333 qsoing
1658          1839         Turfsteker 35333 qsoing
1640          1851         Veronica 45444 qsoing
1632          1852         Dageraad 35333 qsoing
1655          1855         Batavier 25222-35333 music programme
1634          1921         Blauwe Koe 25222 music programme
1629          1959         Malibu signal coming through the carrier of Daytona
1620          2007         Nova 4 44444
1622          2224         Vrolijke Mijnwerker 554444 music programme
1646          2245         Barcelona 45433-55444 qsoing
1630          2248         Pioneer (Rotterdam) 55444 asking for report
1646          2255         Monte Carlo 55444 qsoing
1615          2305         Napoleon 45444 music programme
1648          2311         Wilskracht 24222 qsoing

That was the busiest evening for pirate activity I can remember for a good while, and long may it last. There were high-power and low-power pirates on air, something for everybody. One of the best catches for me was Blue Star, who was testing with non-stop music on 1615. It turns out he was testing a new transmitter he has built. The power? Just ten watts. Amazing I could hear him at all. Even more amazing that the signal was peaking up to a very listenable sinpo of 35333.

The computer was recording much of what I was listening to last night, and I've compiled this soundclip with a collection of stations heard:

And to keep my log up to date, here are the stations I've heard since I last updated the list:

Sunday, February 14, 2016
1633          2310         Barones 55444 music programme
1646          2313         Barcelona 35333-45444 music programme
1656          2315         Monte Carlo 35333 qsoing
1638          2325         Calimero 34333-45444 music programme
1624          2359         Jeneverstoker 33333 music programme 

Saturday, February 13, 2016
1648          2106         Moby Dick 35333-45444 music programme
1636          2116         Kezier en Keizerin 25222-45444 music programme

Friday, February 12, 2016
1630          0049         Pandora 55434 qsoing
1624          0054         Jeneverstoker 25222 qsoing

Thursday, February 11, 2016
1629          1738         Admiraal 45444 testing
1640          1750         Sylvania 35333-45444 music programme
1627          1939         Dolfijn 35343-45444 report for Sylvania
1627          1944         Test Piraat 55555 report for Sylvania
1620          1947         Vrolijke Mijnwerker 55444 music programme
1638          2009         Calimero 35333 music programme
1635          2009         Ruisbreker 25222-35333 music programme
1650          2017         Kristal 35333-55444 music programme
1620          2123         Noorderzon 34333 report for Mijnwerker
1646          2337         Barcelona 45333 testing

Monday, February 8, 2016
1620          2027         Digitaal 45444 music programme

Friday, February 5, 2016
1622          2305         Uniek 45333-45444 music programme
1629          2312         Odynn 24222 music programme
1640          2318         Vrolijke Mijnwerker 45333-55444 music programme
1655          2319         Relmus 55444 music programme
1665          2338         Polkaman music 25222-35333 programme

Thursday, February 4, 2016
1626          2222         Barones 45444 music programme        
1662          2224         Turfsteker 25222 music programme
1645          2242         Dinkelland 55444 asking for report
1646          2316         Monte Carlo 45444 report for Dinkelland 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016
1620          1820         Zonnester 45333-45444 qsoing
1631          2001         Oldtimer 45444 music programme
1656          2005         Twentana 34333 music programme
1631          2023         Speedygonzales 45434 report for Oldtimer 

Monday, February 1, 2016
1611          1837         Saporro 33333 qsoing       
1611          1845         Bizon 34333-44444 qsoing
1642          1953         Turftrekker 34333 music programme
1635          2009         Batavier 25222-35333 music programme
1620          2021         Blauwe Piraat 25222-35333                     
1620          2028         Meteoor 35333-45444 report for Blauwe Piraat

Sunday, January 31, 2016
1625          1824         Barones 45444 music proramme
1647          1825         Witte Tornado 45444 music programme

Wednesday, January 27, 2016
1665          1737         Digitaal 35333 music programme
1635          1809         Monza 45544 testing
1625          1815         Ruimzicht 33443
1625          1835         Marskramer (Friesland) 25222-35333 music programme
1656          1959         Malibu 25222-35333
1615          2004         Turftrekker 44444-55444 music programme
1658          2024         Twentana 24222-35333 music programme
1625          2039         Meteoor 45444 report for Marskramer
1646          2100         Kristal 45444 music programme
1625          2255         Napoleon 45434 music programme

Tuesday, January 26, 2016
1638          1812         Admiraal 45444 qsoing

Tuesday, January 19, 2016
1620          1657         Wegpiraat 25222-35333 asking for report
1638          1701         Columbia 35343 asking for report
1620          1713         Monza 35333 report for Columbia
1640          1715         Zwarte BMW 33343 report for Columbia
1636          1818         Caballero 35333 qsoing
1650          1822         Lotus 25222-35333 qsoing
1627          1823         Pontiac 35333 qsoing
1630          1951         Marianne 25222-35333 music programme
1635          2001         Ruisbreker weak signal testing
1685          2002         Digitaal 35333
1611          2004         Turftrekker 34333 music programme
1620          2015         Desperado 24222-34333 music programme
1657          2043         Turfsteker 25222 music programme
1645          2107         Capri 45434-55444 music programme

Saturday, January 16, 2016
1652          2345         Moby Dick 55444 testing
1628          2345         Vrolijke Mijnwerker 54444 music programme
1630          2350         Barones 54444 music programme
1620          2352         Desperado 34333 music programme
1640          0100         Barones 45434 music programme

Friday, January 15, 2016
1620          1638         Poema weak signal
1670          1643         Blackbeard 25222-35333 testing
1659          1740         Turfsteker music programme
1621          1741         Pioneer 25222 qsoing
1620          1746         Monza 35322 qsoing
1638          1750         Calimero 35333 music programme
1616          1814         Quintus 35333-45444 testing modulation
1620          1902         Desperado 25222-35333 music programme
1647          1946         Mustang 55444 music programme
1635          1956         Relmus 55444 music programme         
1611          2038         Turftrekker 45444 music programme
1629          2059         Odynn 24222-34333 music programme
1645          2117         DB 45333-45444 qsoing

Thursday, January 14, 2016
1624          2337         Jeneverstoker 25222 music programme

Monday, January 11, 2016
1620          1709         Zwarte Boekanier 45454 music programme
1630          1750         Spanningzoeker 55444 asking for report
1640          1851         Veronica 25222-35333, 45444 at 2120 music programme
1611          1933         Eldorado 45333-45444 testing
1650          1940         Vrijevogel 25222 music programme
1635          2057         Blauwe Koe 25222 music programme
1625          2104         Batavier 25222 music programme
1647          2111         Armada 45333-45444 testing
1625          2123         Vrolijke Mijnwerker 55434 music programme
1615          2131         Batavier testing wire/coil antennas. Better with coil, 25222  

Sunday, January 10, 2016
1647          1722         Witte Tornado 55444 music programme
1625          2209         Witte Raaf 35222-35333 music programme
1634          2302         Odynn weak signal report for Witte Tornado
1636          2305         Monte Carlo 25222-35333 report for Witte Tornado

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A big welcome back

Over 20 years ago when I was much younger and had more hair I began visiting Dutch pirates. It was on one of my first trips across the North Sea that I went to meet Appie of Radio Sylvania. I had heard him often on my radio and, although he spoke little English and I spoke very little Dutch, I enjoyed my visit, accompanied by Radio Barones, who did a great job of translating and all these years later is still very good at this!

I had not met many of the Dutch pirates at this stage and I remember being struck by the enormity of the mast in the small back garden. It seemed huge, towering above the house with a coil antenna perched up on top. I also remember the studio upstairs in a back room - in fact, I have some photos taken in that very room in front of me now. There's no sign of computers - it was 1994, I think - although there is a cd player. I can see the Geloso audio amplifier, a mainstay of the Dutch pirate studio. And there is a record player on top of another amplifier and a well-maintained valve radio. There is also a little echo chamber box.

Like myself, Appie had a break from the hobby for some years, although I heard last year that he had made a return to the airwaves but was broadcasting only during the daytime. But tonight I was transported back in time when I heard his voice coming out of my speakers for the first time in what must be around 15 years. I recognised him straight away, and it was a pleasure to listen to him again. Some stations capture the imagination and Sylvania is always one I enjoyed listening to. So when I heard him tonight at around 1720 UTC I stayed tuned until he closed down at 1938.

The signal was fading around with the conditions, but there were some great peaks, like the one on this recording:

When Sylvania closed down I was expecting a few stations to come on air and give him a report. Sure enough that's what happened. But I couldn't believe my ears when Radio Dolfijn was the first one. He hadn't been active on the air for many years. It seems he has returned, though, and his signal was arriving loud and clear in England:

A big welcome back to these pirates of the past. I wonder who will be next?

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Big sounds as the weekend kicks off

Im doing a bit of late-evening listening before hitting the bedroom, and there are some big sounds at the top of the MW right now on Friday night. Relmus is blasting away on 1655 kHz, while Mijnwerker is also very strong on 1640. Elsewhere, Polkman (1655), Odynn (1629) and Uniek (1622) are also doing well. It seems conditions are pretty good right now. 

I made a short video of the reception, so you can see just how the signals are being received over here:

Late last night I was also tuning around and heard Barones on 1626 kHz and Dinkelland on 1645. Both were very strong, but was what almost incredible was that I was able to hear them on this receiver:


I remember buying this novelty transistor radio about 25 years ago, but then I lost it for a couple of decades. My dad recently found it and handed it back, so last night I thought I would try popping it inside my old indoor loop. 

It was a bit noisy in the radio room what the the computers and monitors, so at around 2330 local time I took it out into the garden to see what I could hear. Imagine my surprise when, clear as a bell, I heard Radio Dinkelland coming out of the tiny speaker! And then a few minutes later came Radio Barones. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. 

It just goes to show you don't also need fancy receivers and antennas to hear something a bit different!

MW Free Radio