Saturday, August 16, 2014

Back from pirate land

So it's been a little while since I posted on the blog. The reason? A holiday in pirate land! It had been a couple of years since we visited the Netherlands, so on July 30 we headed across the North Sea for a week in the sun and to visit some pirate friends. 

I must say a very big thank you to Radio Batavier, Relmus, Barones and Zeewolf for being so kind with looking after me and wife and two girls so well and for making sure we had a great time. Thank you also to everyone else we visited who made sure our trip was just perfect.

We travelled all around the Netherlands, starting in the west and moving via the north to the east. We visited plenty of pirates and even had a party with Barones when broadcasters from across the country visited and drank some beers into the early hours of the morning. In fact, it was 0500 when I finally got to bed that day!

Here's the lowdown of the pirate operators I met during our seven-day stay in the Netherlands. Hopefully I haven't missed anybody off the list!


Akai
Arabier
Barones
Batavier
Calipso
Einstein
Foxfire
Havana
MRF
Napoleon
New Wave
Powerliner
Relmus
Sluwe Vos
Snowman
Yogi Bear
Wadloper
Wilskracht
Witte Reus
Zeewolf
Zwarte Non


And there were plenty of antennas to see belonging to pirates we didn't have time to meet, as there were other things to do. For example, we visited the great Waarbeek family fun park in Hengelo and the Speelstad Oranje theme park, which Herman of Radio Zeewolf arranged and took us to. It was perfect for the children, and a great day for the adults too. And we also managed to get a close-up look at the incredible 300-metre radio mast nearby at Smilde, which is billed as being the most important in the country, serving no end of local radio and tv stations. In July 2011 it was hit by fire and collapsed, but to look at it now, you would never know . . .







Another interesting trip we took was with Foppe of Radio Batavier to Harlingen where we saw the lightship Jenni Baynton, home to Radio Waddenzee. Although it was all locked up when we visited in the harbour, it will be out at sea from next Wednesday as it broadcasts live from the ocean for 11 days. Here are a few photos I took . . .







We also paid a short visit to the transmitter site of Radio Waddenzee. Interestingly, some of the pirate antennas I've seen in the Netherlands are somewhat higher . . . 




Once again, a big thank you to everybody who we spent time with during our holiday. And apologies we never got to see some of the people we would have liked - there never seems to be enough time. Hopefully we will return soon and continue our pirate tour!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

That makes a refreshing change

I was down in the radio room doing some work today and at about 7pm I switched on the Kenwood R5000. Not much on SW, so I had a quick scan at the top of the MW band, not expecting to hear anything as it was several hours before sunset and conditions are not great at this time of year. But I was very happy to be proven wrong as there were already a couple of stations coming through, and with good signals.

Now the longest day of the year is a few weeks gone, perhaps this is the start of improved reception of the Dutch pirates for me. I hope so.

Here's some of the stations I heard today:


Monday, July 21, 2014
1640       2115       Veronica 44333-44444 qsoing
1655       2116       Sluwe Vos 34333 qsoing   
1625       2116       Zwarte Panter (Oldenzaal) 33333 
1654       2119       Studio 69 34333-44444 qsoing
1633       2121       Vrolijke Mijnwerker 55444 qsoing
1611       2122       Brugwachter 55444 qsoing
1638       2123       Bluebird 55444-55555 music programme
1644       2123       Uniek 34333 music programme
1617       2125       Soerabaya 24222-34333 testing
1612       2130       Monte Carlo 55444 qsoing
1655       2132       Batavier 44444 qsoing
1666       2133       Snowman 24222-34333 music programme
1655       2136       Vliegende Schotel 44444 qsoing
1631       2143       Monte Carlo 44333 qsoing
1670       2146       Digitaal 55444 qsoing
1658       2225       Monte Carlo 55444 qsoing
1670       2301       Batavier 35333-45444 testing
1648       2322       Casablanca 55444 asking for report


Observations

  • The storms we've seen across the UK and the Netherlands over the last couple of days have died away and there was plenty of action on the band, including some low-power transmissions. Snowman continues to do very well and was busy with a music programme on 1665, although his accent continues to confuse me as he sounds very much like fellow Friesland pirate Witte Raaf! 
  • It was also good to hear Soerabaya, Uniek and Zwarte Panter, who all use low power
  • Brugwachter, Bluebird, Vrolijke Mijnwerker, Digitaal, Casablanca and Monte Carlo led the way with strong signals, although Batavier was pretty strong at times despite running with only 100 watts. He sent these pictures taken in his studio while on air . . .







Monday, July 07, 2014

Fire and Batavier

With some cracking weather in the UK last weekend we spent plenty of time outside. And on Saturday night, the bluetooth speaker was on the patio as we listened to Radio Batavier with a long programme on 1645. He had Wittereus in his studio and was on air for a good few hours playing music. We enjoyed a barbecue and then sat round the fire listening to a signal getting stronger and stronger as the sun went down . . .

Saturday night round the fire - with our
antenna mast in the background

A cracking sunset on Sunday

Batavier is back on air this evening, again around 1645 and with a good signal despite conditions before far from optimum and plenty of static on the band. Also active and audible here are Armada (1611 kHz), Bluebird (1638), Studio 69 (1655) and Soerabaya (1622).

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Great Sunday

So today we were busy at a car boot sale, selling some old items we found in the loft and turning them into money. And of course, Lisa could not help having a little look around at some of the other cars. And you'll never guess what she found . . . 


The pirate scarf - this season's must-have accessory!

Perfect for our trip to the Netherlands next month!

It was barbecue time when we got home, and what better way to enjoy some time outdoors than with a soundtrack from Radio Barones. With a little help from the remote receiver at Enschede (too earlier for reception on my own radios) and a bluetooth speaker we were listening to the Baro on the patio in perfect quality on 1593 kHz.

As I write these words it's around 1830 UTC and while there are only faint traces of pirate activity at the top of MW, there are some good signals on SW, including Foxfire (6240), Joey (6290) and Pink Panther (6803). Hopefully the propagation will be with us later on MW.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bring on the winter

Now I like a little bit of sunshine - it makes a nice change to the wind and the rain. But what I don't particularly like is summertime propagation conditions on AM. Reception is so unpredictable, and with the long hours of daylight, it means there is a much smaller window for receiving pirates on MW. When the days are at their shortest in the middle of winter, I can start hearing stations from around midday. Right now there is little point in checking the radio until around 2100. Of course, it means I have plenty of times for other enjoyable pastimes, but I do like to hear a few pirates every now and again!

As I write these words I'm listening to a qso between Vrolijke Mijnwerker, Jeneverstoker and Astronaut, but signals are down on what I would usually expect. Mijnwerker is one of the powerhouses at the top of the MW, but the sinpo from him this evening is around 44333, sometimes peaking a bit higher.

Those who regularly read the blog might have seen I mentioned a station called OSM on my last update. I posted a message on the AM Forum asking if anybody could help with some details about the station. And I got a couple of replies, including one from the O Superman himself. It turns out this is a station from many years ago who has returned to the air this year after a break of some years. Great to hear him back on air. 

Not many of them, but here are a few logs from this side.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014
1630       2240       Vrolijke Mijnwerker 44333-45444 qsoing
1650       2246       Jeneverstoker 24332 qsoing
1638       2257       Bluebird 55544
1616       2308       Amigo 34333 asking for report
1625       2320       King 23222-34333 report for Amigo
1620       2325       Amigo 35333 qsoing

Monday, June 16, 2014
1655       2110       Witte Raaf 45444 music programme
1636       2110       Pandora 55444 music programme
1640       2130       Veronica 33443 music programme

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Birthday celebrations

It's been a busy time over here for the last few days as I was preparing for my wife's 30th birthday. There was a marathon in the kitchen, cooking and preparing. And there was a lengthy wrapping session. And today were the celebrations. It's been a great day, and I'm ready for a good sleep, but just before I hit the sack, I've popped into the radio room to see what pirate activity I can detect.

There is a huge amount of static on the MW band, more than I've heard for a good while and, after some very warm weather today, it certainly sounds like a thunderstorm or two is on its way. However, there are some decent signals, with Barones on 1637, Witte Tornado on 1648, Tower on 1611 and Dinkelland, who has been on 1620 qsoing. However, best signal of all is from Odynn on 6288 kHz. It's been a good while since I heard him on MW, but I hear he could be back on there soon, and I look forward to it. Hopefully his signal will be as good as it is on SW right now.




Here's the lowdown on the latest logs from this side. Not too many on the MW as conditions have not been great. There is always a lull in reception for me at this time of the year. However, it's only a couple of weeks until the longest day of the year. Goodness, it will soon be Christmas!

Sunday, June 9, 2014
1611       2205       Tower 25222-35233 music programme
1637       2205       Barones 35232-45333 music programme
1647       2205       Witte Tornado 45333 music pogramme
1620       2214       Dinkelland 45344 qsoing
1655       2228       Test Piraat 35232 qsoing
1655       2246       Digitaal 45333-45344 qsoing

Saturday, June 8, 2014
1630       2230       Akai 35333
1648       2233       Monte Carlo 35333 qsoing
1646       2237       Vrolijke Mijnwerker 45333-45344 qsoing
1648       2248       Jeneverstoker 33333 qsoing

Monday, June 2, 2014
1648       2252       Monte Carlo 35333 qsoing
1640       2255       Professor Sickbok 45444 qsoing

Sunday, June 1, 2014
1620       2054       Sluwe Vos 34333-44444 music programme
1630       2054       Akai 43333 music programme
1636       2054       Barones 44433-55444 music programme
1640       2055       Professor Sickbok 54444 music programme
1512       2102       Tempico music programme
1625       2117       Monte Carlo 43443-44444 report for Akai
1648       2122       Uniek 24222-34333 music programme

Saturday, May 31, 2014
1655       2220       Zwarte Ridder (via Studio 69) 35333-45444 music programme
1648       2220       Moby Dick 45444 music programme
1620       2220       Ruisbreker 23322-44444 music programme 
1633       2239       Monte Carlo 55444-55555 testing
1635       2253       Zwarte Schaduw 25222-35333 report for Monte Carlo
1619       2334       813? weak signal
1637       2337       OSM 35333-45454 asking for a report

Observations

  • Good to hear Dinkelland on air this evening. He's quite a rare catch these days. He sounded very good, flattening quite a lot of the static, with his quality modulation coming through loud and clear
  • A couple of weeks back it was interesting to hear Ruisbreker on air just a week after the AT paid a visit and gave a warning for his activities on FM. His signal was peaking up quite nicely after some antenna modifications
  • That same night, Monte Carlo was sounding superb, hitting the maximum 55555 sinpo during his qso with Zwarte Schaduw. And there were a couple of interesting catches at the end of the evening. I might be mistaken, but I thought I caught an ID of Radio 813 on 1619, a station I have not heard for many years. And then there was a station that seemed to be calling itself OSM announcing a location of Flevoland. A bit of a mystery, that one

Monday, May 26, 2014

Quiet bank holiday

Conditions have not been great recently for reception of the Dutch pirates here in England. As the days are getting longer and longer, signal do not arrive until later in the evening, and when propagation is down there is often not a great deal to hear.

Today was a bank holiday here in the UK and it was very nice indeed to hear the Xenon Transmitting Company (XTC) on 6308 kHz during the late afternoon. This station has been going for many years but is not regular these days - in fact, bank holidays seem to be the best time to catch broadcasts. Hearing XTC takes me back to the 1990s when the British free radio scene was thriving. Later in the evening, Bogusman appeared on 6305 kHz to do his bit. As usual his signal was very good here. There was no activity from the Netherlands to hear, though, and it has been quiet on MW too, with just a couple of stations heard.

Here's my recent log list . . . 

Monday, May 26, 2014
1640       2151       Professor Sickbok 45333 music programme
1640       2225       Monte Carlo 34333 qsoing

Friday, May 23, 2014
1611       2223       Barones 44333-55444 music programme
1623       2223       Monte Carlo 45343-45344 music programme
1648       2224       Uniek 35222-35333 music programme
1655       2224       Witte Raaf 45344 music programme
1695       2224       Korenklopper 45333-55334 music programme
1640       2225       Professor Sickbok 45334 qsoing
1638       2236       Blonde Zwerver 32222 qsoing
1670       2309       Batavier 44344 music programme
1641       2311       Jeneverstoker 35233 qsoing

Monday, May 19, 2014
1630       2011       Vrolijke Mijnwerker 45344-55444 music programme
1640       2011       Professor Sickbok 45344-55444 music programme
1625       2020       King 22322 music programme and testing limiter
1640       2139       Veronica 35232-45344 report for Sickbok
1650       2151       Monte Carlo 35233-45444 qsoing
1629       2207       Mustang 44344-55444
1622       2222       Soerabaya 34333 qsoing

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
1651       2053       Witte Raaf 44444 music programme
1631       2054       Mustang 55444-55555 music programme
1625       2058       Atletico 32422-34333 music programme
1630       2143       Soerabaya 24222 report for Mustang
1635       2143       Monte Carlo 33433 report for Mustang
1636       2148       Noordzee 43333 report for Mustang
1630       2149       Vrolijke Mijnwerker 43333 report for Mustang

Monday, May 12, 2014
1630       2025       Vrolijke Mijnwerker 55444-55555 music programme
1654       2028       Vliegende Schotel 44444 qsoing
1655       2035       Oldtimer 55444 qsoing
1611       2057       Batavia 24432 music programme
1646       2159       Noordzee 44444 music programme

Wednesday, May 7, 2014
1620       2210       Pelgrim 35333 music programme
1636       2212       Wadloper 35333 music programme

Monday, May 5, 2014
1620       0554       Amigo 24342 music programme
1618       0556       Zwarte Bouvier weak signal music programme
1638       2015       Bluebird 55555 music programme
1655       2015       Oldtimer 44444 music programme
1671       2016       Armada 45434 music programme
1611       2023       Batavia weak signal music programme
1611       2247       Calipso 55544 music programme

Saturday, May 3, 2014
1632       2334       Vrolijke Mijnwerker 54444 qsoing
1655       2334       Studio 69 33433-44444 music programme
1662       2334       Klaas Snoek 44444-55555 music programme
1633       2336       Barcelona 54544 qsoing
1636       2346       Professor Sickbok 54444 qsoing
1655       2350       Jeneverstoker 33433 qsoing

Wednesday, April 30, 2014
1625       2034       Napoleon 55444 music programme
1611       2324       Calipso 55555 music programme

Observations

  • It was good to hear Korenklopper on Friday night. He's not often on air, but can usually be found above all the other pirates, and his choice of 1695 kHz was typical of where he usually broadcasts
  • It's always nice when I hear a station for the first time and there have been three new names for me recently. Blonde Zwerver, Pelgrim and Zwarte Bouvier made it across the North Sea to my radio for the first time in the past few weeks. Judging from the signal strengths, I'm guessing all are low power which makes catching these stations even sweeter
  • Talking of low power, Atletico was doing well on May 13. He was using only 30 watts of power, which sounded like more when the signal peaked. He sent me a picture of his antenna mast, which he has allowed me to share with you:


AT keeping busy

The authorities have been keeping busy in recent days. One of the stations hit was Ruisbreker, who broadcasts on MW from time to time, often getting a decent signal to England with his low-power transmitter. He was broadcasting on FM with his regular Saturday programme when the AT arrived at the transmission site and started to take photographs. A warning was then issued that the broadcast should stop within the hour. And so within the following minutes the plug was pulled and the station closed down. No equipment was seized.

As you can see from these photos, the antenna mast has been taken down . . .







And on Sunday, there was more action when the police noticed at unmanned pirate operating on FM from Barger-Compascuum. The transmitter was sighted inside a tree and the fire brigade was called to remove it . . . 






Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Defying the authorities

Late on Sunday evening the signal on 94.5 in the east of the Netherlands disappeared. After occupying the frequency illegally for around seven days the station SADO - Schijt Aan De Overheid was taken off the air. For our non-Dutch readers, look it up on an online translator!

SADO caused a great deal of interest, not least by their name! The transmitter power was around 3kw - no where near as much as some Dutch FM pirates run, with output up to 30kw for the bigger concerns. But this station, operating from the village of Balkbrug in Overijjsel, went one step further than other pirates, placing their stacked dipole antenna at the top of a 45 metre T-Mobile mast . . .




The position of the antenna and transmitter meant that, try as they might, the AT and police were unable to take the station off air immediately - doing so would have caused the T-Mobile mast to be disabled.  





As many FM pirates these days, the whole operation was unmanned and operated remotely. But as these pictures show, they certainly raised quite some interest in the local area . . . 





All that now remains is a mains cable and the antenna and some empty cabinets that housed the transmitter - everything else has been removed.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Enjoying the weather and the radio

It's been a fine day here in England, with very pleasant weather during the late afternoon. I spent a little time out in the garden, where I'm preparing the ground for some earth radials for my MW coil antenna, which is coming along - very slowly!

Conditions on shortwave this morning were good, with the Rode Adelaar coming in strongly during a short audio test. Propagation went downhill after that, though, and I spent much of the day listening to Radio Caroline and then the internet stream of Dutch SW pirate Radio Telstar while I was working. 

There is some activity at the top of the MW band as I write this. Oldtimer has just closed down from a music programme on 1655 and is now chatting to Vliegende Schotel and Wilkskract. Just down the band on 1620, Nova 4 has been coming in well. It's a little noisy on 1.6 MHz this evening - perhaps some local disturbance in the neighbourhood, although propagation is not particularly good, it seems.

UPDATE AT 2230 UTC Conditions seems to have improved. Studio 69 is playing some good tunes on 1654 kHz and coming in very well indeed despite using only 100 watts of power. His audio sounds very fine as well with a good, deep bass. Here's a recording of his signal at this side: 



And here are my my recent logs:

Monday, April 28, 2014
1620       1913       Nova 4 55444 music programme
1655       1913       Oldtimer 55444 music programme
1653       2022       Vliegende Schotel 44334-55444 report for Oldtimer
1652       2028       Wilskracht 33333-45334 report for Oldtimer
1620       2058       Calipso 55544-55555 music programme
1654       2144       Studio 69 35333-45344 music programme
1640       2145       Monte Carlo 44444-55444 music programme
1633       2154       Barcelona 55544 report for Monte Carlo
1644       2253       Monte Carlo 55544 report for Calipso
1653       2253       Jeneverstoker 32432 report for Calipso

Saturday, April 26, 2014
1611       1739       Tower 35333 at 1815 music programme
1620       1739       Anton 45344 music programme
1627       1742       Admiraal weak signal asking for report
1632       1747       Verona 35343 at 1818 music programme
1648       1749       Moby Dick 45444 music programme
1636       1759       Keizer en Keizerin 34333 at 2018 music programme
1625       1959       Barones 54444 music programme
1655       2001       Oldtimer 45344 music programme
1635       2002       Marskramer (Friesland) 34333-44344 music programme
1665       2003       Polkaman 34333 music programme
1615       2003       Tower 44344 music programme
1620       2006       Tower 44344 music programme
1627       2012       Barones 45344-55444 music programme
1692       2115       Blauwe Ster 45344 music programme
1628       2125       Tower 45344 music programme
1655       2130       Barones 44344-55344 music programme

Thursday, April 24, 2014
1630       1919       Vrolijke Mijnwerker 55444 music programme
1645       1920       Batavier 55444-55555 music programme
1653       1924       Turfsteker 34343 music programme
1660       2206       Snowman 24222-45343 music programme
1650       2206       Klaas Snoek 55444 music programme
1665       2224       Philadelphia 24322 music programme

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
1630       2149       Vrolijke Mijnwerker 55444
1665       2159       Philadelphia 24222 music programme
1625       2200       King 24322-34333 music programme
1653       2224       Jeneverstoker 35343 qsoing

Monday, April 21, 2014
1619       0558       Zwarte Bouvier weak signal music programme
1658       0713       Twentana weak signal music programme
1642       2047       Wadloper music programme
1655       2048       Studio 69 35333 qsoing
1653       2054       Klaas Snoek 45444-55555 qsoing
1645       2114       Leopard 44444-55544 music programme
1652       2145       Jeneverstoker 35333-45444 qsoing

Sunday, April 20, 2014
1655       1753       Relmus 45444 music programme
1647       1754       Witte Tornado 35333, 55555 at 1826 music programme
1636       1856       Havanna 55444 music programme
1665       1945       Dikke Betta 45444
1636       2017       Akai 44444 music programme
1629       2019       Kruik 45444 qsoing
1630       2030       Schaduwjager 55544 qsoing
1638       2140       Bluebird 54444-55555 music programme
1647       2202       Monte Carlo 54444 qsoing
1645       2210       Vrolijke Mijnwerker 55444 qsoing
1630       2240       Monte Carlo 54444 qsoing



Observations

  • On Sunday it seems Radio Barones was even more popular than usual . . . he signed on 1625 kHz and got his international music programme under way, but was hit with interference from another station. He moved to 1627 and eventually 1655 before escaping
    There's only one way to listen to Barones!
  • Snowman from Friesland was doing really well last Thursday. He has only 20 watts of power, but on the peaks his signal was hitting a sinpo of 45343
  • It was good to hear Leopard on Easter Monday, for the first time in a good while. He was coming in loud and clear. Earlier that day I had been listening to a few stations via the SDR at Enschede and, among others, I heard Poema on 1476. He was playing some records with his six-year-old son who can already speak English better than I can Dutch!