Friday, August 16, 2013

The Soerabaya story

A few weeks ago I carried a feature on Radio Astronaut on the blog, with a little station history and some photos of his set-up. And now it is time to focus on another low-power MW operation as we take a close look at Radio Soerabaya

The Radio Soerabaya studio in August 2013

This station can often be heard qsoing around 1645 kHz, usually running around 100 watts into a vertical antenna, and although he has been on air since only 2010, the man behind the microphone had the radio bug from an early age. He takes up the story . . . 

"It started in my childhood. My parents, used to go to church every Sunday in those years (and the young Soerabaya went with them). When we got back home my father switched on the tube radio. Out of the speaker came Dutch music and the voice of operators who talked different from the regular ones.

"In that time (1970s) only mediumwave was in use and the music they played wasn't really popular to us. My old man told me these stations were operating clandestinely and they get penalties if they got raided. This was really fascinating for me and since that time I loved listening to the pirate stations.

"In the early 80s the pirate bug really hit me. A classmate at school had an electronic experimenting set and one of the suggested circuits was a free-running hf oscillator. I simply had to have this! So i visited a neighbour, who I knew was a MW pirate, to beg for some parts and to build me that oscillator.

"Well, I was very lucky because he built me an EL84 transmitter inside my tube radio. Sadly, I never really got it working because i had to keep it secret from my parents and, after being raided by my father, I had to take it back where I got it."

"In the second half of the 80s I had a station on FM with some people. We were on air every Sunday from early afternoon to midnight and sometimes we got about 500 requests by phone for greetings and requests. After six months I left the team as other interests came up and then came a long break in my pirate activities.

That could have been the end of Radio Soerabaya there and then but, when the pirate bug hits, it often stays around for years, and there was plenty of time for the station still to hit the MW airwaves . . . 

"At a neighbourhood party in around 2005 I was talking to someone about my my interest in tube radio. After listening to my tube stories he showed me his tube amp with Russian tubes. My eyes became as big as saucers!

"So I thought about building a tube amp out of tube radio parts. I searched the internet for a schematic and in doing so I found the diagram of my very first transmitter. I thought I could build it - just for fun - and I did!

"At around the same time I found the LPAM site of the founder of the AM Forum. I sent him an email and asked if there were still some MW pirates in Twente (east Netherlands). You can guess my surprise and happiness when he wrote that there are plenty of them! Very soon I had an antenna to go with my EL84 transmitter, and I was audible on the car radio for about 3-4 kilometres. 

"In 2009/10 I started building a transmitter with an 807 valve - which I use today - (first with a 6146b tube, which was killed very soon!). Eventually, after many experiments and two electric shocks I got my first reception report. It was on May 12, 2010 and it came from Radio Monza. The record I played from Boney M is still hanging on the wall . . . 

You can see the record on the wall

And what about the first reception report for Radio Soerabaya that came from overseas? Well, I'm very pleased to say that it came from me, on April 9, 2011. And I can remember how pleased the man behind the mic was when he received an audio file. To this day he still has the beer bottle he was drinking when his signal carried across the North Sea and into my antenna here in England.

So that's the story of how one pirate interest came about and how another MW pirate came to the airwaves. And to conclude, here are some more Soerabaya photos, several taken this month and others when the station first hit MW in 2010 and a few from those AM experiments in 2005

1 comment:

  1. Great stort, well written and much more interesting than just the logs that predominate on other free radio sites


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