Tuesday, August 27, 2013

And this week's award for fastest qsl . . .

No sooner had I posted my latest batch of logs on the blog then Radio Soerabaya sent me a nice new qsl . . . 


Many thanks!

Busy Bank Holiday

The Bank Holiday weekend has been a nice one. On Sunday evening we spent some time out in the garden . . . I set up some speakers so we could listen to the radio while enjoying the night air, and we listened to various stations. First to the professional sound of the Free Radio Service Holland on 5800 and 7685, then to the always entertaining Radio Underground on 6325 and later to Spakenburg with some music on 1620 before his qso with Barcelona and Monte Carlo. It makes a change to listen outdoors, and it was a surprise to hear my voice coming out of the speaker with a jingle or two on 1633 kHz!


Pirate sounds and a few beers

Keeping warm while listening to the pirates

I was working from home today (Monday), which meant I could go at my own pace, enjoy some of the sunshine and also listen to the radio. I was tuned to Radio Merlin for much of the afternoon on 6305 and it was great to hear some shortwave pirate activity during the daylight hours. Throughout much of the summer the international band has been very quiet until the sun has gone down. The change is a sure sign autumn is coming.

After Merlin closed down there was entertainment on 6290 from Telstar and when he closed down, Odynn came on the frequency. The first MW pirate to come through from the Netherlands was the Zwarte Boekanier, who I heard at just after 1800 utc. And as the sun set in the sky, more and more stations could be heard.

The sun goes down and out come the MW pirates

Here's what I heard tonight and for the last few evenings. Unless stated, reception was with the Lowe HF225 and outdoor Wellbrook loop antenna:


Monday, August 26, 2013
1650       1814       Zwarte Boekanier 25452, 35553 at 1907 music programme
1662       1908       Oldtimer 23442, 44444 at 2023 music programme
1611       1915       Mustang 44444 music programme
1633       1915       Vrijevogel 25452 music programme
1640       1919       Jonny Pecon 35433-45444 asking for report
1645       1924       Turfsteker weak signal report for Pecon 
1646       1927       Soerabaya weak signal
1629       1934       Calipso 54444 qsoing
1629       1940       Brandaris 34443 qsoing
1620       2022       King 24332-35333 music programme
1665       2027       Philadelphia weak signal music programme
1651-3    2054       Bekend Amateur 25222-35333 report for Boekanier
1630       2115       Electron 34333-55555 music programme
1636       2146       Pandora 55444-55555 report for Electron
1646       2147       Monte Carlo 34443-55444 report for Electron
1630       2205       Baanbreker 44444 qsoing
1646       2215       Soerabaya 25222-35333 qsoing
1640       2223       Monte Carlo 55444 qsoing
1655       2301       Jeneverstoker 35333 qsoing

Sunday, August 25, 2013
1638       1940       Bluebird 55444 music programme
1647       1940       Witte Tornado 54444 music programme
1652       2002       Uniek 34333 music programme
1512       2012       Tempico 44533 music programme
1620       2139       Spakenburg 44333-45444 music programme
1633       2231       Barcelona 44333-55444 qsoing
1624       2328       Underground
1646       2328       Soerabaya 34333 asking for report

Saturday, August 24, 2013 (Pye valve radio with outdoor loop)
1665       0015       Polkaman 44333 music programme
1624       0044       Underground 24322-34333
1645       0050       Soerabaya 25322-35333 asking for report
1648       2340       Moby Dick 45334-55444 music programme
1665       2345       Polkaman 34333 music programme
1628       0005       Jack Sparrow 34333
1636       0030       Kleine Test Amateur 45344

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 (Pye valve radio with outdoor loop)
1628       2230       Kleine Test Amateur 45544-55555 music programme
1640       2233       Witte Raaf 33543-45544 music programme
1646       2233       Vrolijke Mijnwerker 55555 music programme
1653       2244       Jeneverstoker 35333 report for Mijnwerker
1636       2334       Sluwe Vos 25333-35343 music programme

Friday, August 16, 2013
1620       1904       Sterrekijker 35443, 55555 at 1924 music programme
1646       1904       Vrolijke Mijnwerker 45554, 55544 at 2026 music programme
1636       1913       Poema 34433-44444 testing
1636       1950       Dutchman 23432-33433 report for Poema
1629       1959       Calipso 55444-55555 music programme
1655       2000       Witte Raaf 45444 music programme
1620       2020       Zwarte Diamont 34433 report for Sterrekijker

Observations

  • Very nice to hear Brandaris back on air this evening. I see he has been logged on other dates recently, but this was the first time I heard him for many months. Welcome back to the airwaves!
  • Electron and Pandora were the strongest signals on the band on Monday night, and Monte Carlo was also doing very well. He was experiencing problems with a valve in his transmitter, which might explain why his SINPO when he first came on air was below his usual here. By the end of his qso he was coming in much better, peaking at 55444. Conditions were variable throughout the evening, however. Soerabaya, for example, often dipped below the noise level, but sometimes he came right through it and was really strong. The same could be said about King Radio on 1620, who were struggling sometimes with a Balkan station on the same frequency, but also had some very good peaks
  • Last Tuesday while I was listening on the old Pye valve radio, Sluwe Vos came on air to play a few records. He runs just 20 watts but he was coming in really well. A good antenna at both ends gives great results, and it's a real pleasure to listen to stations through the warm sound of a 1950s radio
  • Back on Friday, August 16, Poema made an appearance on 1636. I can't remember the last time I heard him up there. He was operating on 1476 a few weeks ago when I last heard him. The signal higher up the band was better, and it seems the new antenna (coil and wire) is working very well

A little bit of Holland

I wasn't able to go to the Summer Meeting in the Netherlands this year. For those of you who don't know much about the annual event, it is a chance for station operators, listeners and dxers to get together, chat about the hobby and drink far too much beer before sleeping for a few hours and then doing it all a bit more. It took place recently, and you can read all about it here in Radio Zeewolf's regular contribution to the website of Short Wave Combination Holland, who organised this year's event.

The closest I got to Holland this year was a trip to Legoland in Windsor this month. But I'll be back to sample the real thing in 2014




Saturday, August 24, 2013

Late-night Underground activity

It's the very early hours of Saturday morning. I'm sat in the living room with no lights on and listening again to the old valve radio in the corner of the room. I have an excuse! I was working late tonight and have not been home for long, so I thought I would relax with the radio for a little while before heading to bed. And what do I find to listen to as a new weekend arrives?

The glow of the valve radio
I find Radio Underground on 1624 kHz, one of only a handful of pirate stations now operating from England on MW. Conditions are pretty long skip as I listen and the signal is slowly fading up and down, but on the peaks it is listenable. There is plenty of static on the band as well, just to add some extra spice into the mix, and various legal stations from the US are starting to break though. However, Underground is arriving here with a SINPO around 24322, sometimes more, and it's good to have this station on the air. The power amplifier of his transmitter blew up on Monday evening and he fixed it earlier today. He seems to have done a good job as everything is working well - just a shame conditions aren't more suitable for listening.

Underground was also on MW last Sunday evening. He was using a T-antenna on that occasion, while he is using a half-wave dipole right now. It seems the dipole does the better job for listening at this distance.

As I listen, Underground has just closed down and Soerabaya is now giving him a report on 1646. International qsoing on MW - I love it!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Early-morning treat

It's not very often I am early from my bed. However, on Tuesday morning I was awake at 0530 local time to answer a call of nature! I walked by the living room and thought I would have a very quick check on the MW band to see if any Dutch pirates were around. I didn't expect to hear anything as it was already light outside and I've never heard a station during the summer at such a time of day before, only in the winter when the sun rises much later. However, straightaway I heard music - Dutch music! I had a quick check on the SDR in Twente and I saw a signal at 1630. The music was the same as I could hear on my own radio. I listened for a while until the signal faded away. But then it came back again and I stayed tuned in for nearly an hour. Finally came the identification . . . it was Dageraad Radio - the first Dutch pirate station I have heard early in the morning during the summer on MW!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Late-night movies

I was working late on Saturday and didn't arrive home until around 0030 local time. I had been tipped off by Wire UK earlier in the evening that some Balkan pirate stations were skipping in nicely at the top of the MW band, so I thought I would have a quick listen around. Instead of heading to the radio room, I switched on the old 1950s Pye valve radio in the living room as I had earlier wired it up to the outdoor loop antenna.



Indeed I could hear some Balkans coming through quite clearly and with little fading. And I could also hear plenty of Dutch pirates. There was a qso between Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Digitaal, Romax and Jeneverstoker. Also on the band was Moby Dick with his regular Saturday night broadcast on 1648.

It makes a nice change to listen on an old radio set designed for the listener rather than dxer. The audio quality is so much more pleasant on the ear than a communications receiver and it is a calming experience to tune in to illicit broadcasts late at night with nothing more than the glow of tuning dial lighting up the room. 

I made a few short films of the reception:





You can see more of my videos by going to my YouTube page here

Friday, August 16, 2013

Updating the logs

It's time for some logs from this side, starting off with last night (Thursday), when there was plenty going on at the top of the MW band . . .

Thursday, August 15, 2013
1655       2154       James Bond 55544 music programme
1638       2156       Bluebird 55544 qsoing
1476       2157       Edelkampioen 43533 music programme
1620       2157       King 33433 music programme
1645       2158       Vriendschap 44534 qsoing
1650       2208       Monte Carlo 44544 qsoing
1642       2214       Noordzee 45434 qsoing
1636       2220       Romax 44534 qsoing
1630       2223       Digitaal 55434-55544 qsoing
1650       2227       Jeneverstoker 33433 qsoing
1645       2229       Strandjutter 34433-44444 report for James Bond
1655       2232       Wilksracht 34433-44444 report for James Bond
1636       2235       Digitaal 55444-55555 qsoing
1655       2237       Oldtimer 45534 report for James Bond
1630       2238       Salamander 22422 report for James Bond
1655       2255       Carona 43543, 54444 at 2345 qsoing
1656       2256       Romax 43543 qsoing
1636       2258       Studio Veronica 35443 qsoing
1647       2303       Casablanca (Emmen) 55534 qsoing
1655       2340       Monte Carlo 54444 qsoing

Monday, August 12, 2013
1628       2013       Marianne 34433-44444 music programme
1638       2013       Bluebird 55544 music programme            
1643       2014       Twentana 32442-43443 music programme
1646       2029       Blauwe Reiger 44444-45444 testing
1657       2217       Jan De Roos (Black Bandit) 55444 music programme

Sunday, August 11, 2013
1647       1818       Witte Tornado 34433-44444, 55544 at 2124 music programme
1638       1818       Bluebird 45454-55555 music programme
1621       1824       Orion 24442, 44444 at 2001 music programme
1630       1826       Vulcano 24322-34333 music programme
1512       1828       Tempico 44434 at 2111 music programme
1630       1951       Meteoor 34433-44444 report for Vulcano 
1657       2106       Jan Tabac (Black Bandit) 55444 music programme
1476       2110       Verona 32432 music programme
1629       2112       Vrolijke Mijnwerker 55444
1655       2138       Mustang 44444-54544 music programme
1646       2222       Vrolijke Mijnwerker 55544 qsoing
1650       2228       Relmus 45444 testing
1643       2237       Monte Carlo 55544-55555 qsoing
1636       2300       Jeneverstoker 45444 qsoing


Saturday, August 10, 2013
1611       2038       Armada 33433-44444 music programme
1620       2038       Carolina 55555 music programme
1615       2039       Batavier 44444-54554 music programme with Wadloper and Witte Reus
1638       2039       Bluebird 44444-55544 music programme
1652       2039       Uniek 34443-44444 music programme
1665       2040       Polkaman 33333-44444 music programme
1512       2041       Kameleon 44444 music programme
1657       2107       Jan Tabac (Black Bandit) 55444-55555 testing
1630       2137       Spakenburg 34444-44444 music programme
1611       2209       Turftrekker 43444-44444 report for Armada and music programme
1650       2240       Majorca 33433 qsoing
1620       2246       Spakenburg 43444 qsoing
1656       2257       Romax 35443-45444 music programme
1629       2323       Calipso 55555 music programme
1654       2359       Jeneverstoker 35333 report for Romax
1647       0017       Zeewolf 35333-45444 report for Uniek
1647       0105       Soerabaya 34333 testing

Friday, August 9, 2013
1620       1815       Sterrekijker 35443, 55444 at 2027 music programme
1615       1958       Batavier 35343-55444 music programme with Witte Reus
1627       1959       Japie de Sloper 45344 report for Sterrekijker
1646       1959       Vrolijke Mijnwerker 55444 music programme
1636       2000       Twentana 35343 music programme
1620       2006       De Zwerver 24332 report for Sterrekijker
1512       2030       Rode Adelaar 42522-44544 music programme
1629       2037       Calipso 55444 music programme
1653       2158       Monte Carlo asking for report
1653       2158       Jeneverstoker 33333
1652       2211       Majorca 34343 report for Monte Carlo
1630       2308       Electron 55444 qsoing
1650       2310       Monte Carlo 55444 qsoing
1630       2350       Tidalwave 55344 qsoing and testing modulation
1623       2358       Zwarte Schaduw 35343 qsoing

Observations

  • Radio James Bond is not often on the air these days, so it was really nice to hear his distinctive sound on Thursday evening. He was in the air for some time playing records before an enjoyable qso that attracted a whole host of stations who came on air to talk to the famous pirate. You can listen to a recording here. One of the stations who came up with a report was Strandjutter, who is also rarely in the air, and was coming in with a good signal. It's been a while since I last heard Carona, and he too was talking to James Bond. When some stations are on air they often attract plenty of other operators to switch on their transmitters - another good example is Zonnester. When he closes down from his music programme on a Sunday morning on 1620 the band becomes full of stations wanting to talk to him
  • On Monday evening old Jan Tabac was entertaining his followers late into the night. He was still going strong when I finally switched off the radio at about 0200 here in the UK. He is always fun to listen to and you never quite know what's coming next on his broadcasts
  • I've mentioned the frequency of 1476 several times before on the blog, and I've heard a few stations using the channel in the last week. Edelkampioen was on air with a good signal on Thursday night, while Verona was trying it out last Sunday night. Like many of the in-band frequencies, there can often be interference, but some good pirate signals are possible on the peaks
  • Late last Saturday night, and just into the early hours of Sunday morning, it was great to hear Zeewolf on air on MW again. He was a regular with Friday night programmes in the past, but he popped up on his usual frequency of 1647 to give a report to Uniek. His signal was pretty good. More please!

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










Saturday, August 10, 2013

How life used to be

Back in the 1970s there was a thriving pirate scene on MW in the south of England. I wasn't actually around to listen, but I've read about stations and listened to the old recordings, and I get the impression it was very much like the Netherlands still is to this day. What a shame we don't still have all that activity of 40 years ago.



If you dig around the internet there are plenty of reminders of how the pirate life used to be here in England. On the south coast there was a station called Sun Radio. Click here to see a collection of tremendous photos and here to read some newspapers cuttings about their exploits all those years ago.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Is winter on the way?

In the winter time it is possible to hear Dutch MW pirates here in the UK from around 1300. At the height of the summer it is rare to hear anything before 1900. On Thursday night though, the first stations started arriving at just after 1700 - a nice mixture of good conditions and signs that autumn and winter are not far away. And if long-range experts are correct, the British winter could be starting as early as October this year. Could we really be seeing snow on the loop antenna is just two months' time?



Here are the stations heard on Thursday and our list for the early part of the week:

Thursday, August 8, 2013
1638       1738       Bluebird 25452, 35453 at 1813,  45454 at 1847, 55444 at 2030 
1646       1742       Blauwe Reiger weak signal qsoing
1620       1744       Wegpiraat weak signal qsoing
1629       1746       Gele Kanarie (Calipso) 25452
1646       1755       Soerabaya weak signal qsoing
1629       1809       Tidalwave 25452
1611       2025       Meteoor 34333-44444 music programme
1629       2106       Schaduwjager 55454 qsoing
1628       2108       Nova 4 45444 qsoing
1620       2110       King 25332-35333 music programme
1645       2151       Casablanca 33433 qsoing
1645       2145       Noordzee 44444 music programme
1655       2155       Kakkerlak (Black Bandit) 55444 report for Bluebird
1629       2203       Calipso 55555 music programme
1655       2207       Kleine Sjakie 34443 report for Bluebird
1626       2228       Zwarte Diamant 21431 report for King
1654       2307       Jeneverstoker 35343 qsoing


Wednesday, August 7, 2013
1640       2136       Professor Sickbok 45444 qsoing
1645       2139       Casablanca (Twente) 35343 qsoing
1648       2142       Monte Carlo 45434-55444 qsoing
1655       2146       Kakkerlak (Black Bandit) 55434 music programme
1645       2149       Turfsteker 35333 qsoing

Tuesday, August 6, 2013
1638       2152       Bluebird 55444 music programme
1640       2152       Professor Sickbok 43443 qsoing
1668       2153       Witte Reus 25222
1653       2154       Black Bandit 45344 qsoing
1645       2156       Casablanca (Twente) qsoing
1665       2156       Polkaman music programme
1620       2157       King 24222-35333 music programme
1633       2159       Barcelona 54434 qsoing
1652       2204       Jeneverstoker 24222 qsoing
1620       2204       Noordzee 55444 qsoing

Monday, August 5, 2013
1638       2115       Bluebird 55344 music programme            
1629       2115       Armada 44343 music programme
1611       2115       Mustang 45344 music programme
1646       2115       Vrolijke Mijnwerker 45344 music programme

Sunday, August 4, 2013
1637       2038       Napoleon 35333-45343 music programme
1647       2038       Witte Tornado 45444-55444 music programme
1654       2142       Jeneverstoker 34333 music programme
1660       2142       Klaar Toeter (Black Bandit) 54444-55555 music programme
1620       2155       Dinkelland 44444-55444 asking for report
1512       2155       Tempico 43433 music programme
1633       2241       Astronaut 25222-35333 qsoing and testing antenna
1620       2301       Veronica 23332 qsoing

Saturday, August 3, 2013
1625       2225       Batavier 44444 music programme
1633       2228       Barcelona 54444 qsoing
1611       2230       Spakenburg 45344 music programme
1637       2233       Electron 42443 qsoing
1648       2234       Moby Dick 45344 music programme       
1656       2234       Jan Tabac (Black Bandit) 55344-55444 music programme
1630       2237       Digitaal 55444 qsoing
1640       2241       Spanningzoeker 55444 qsoing
1653       2243       Monte Carlo 42442 report for Spakenburg
1656       2244       Pandora 55444 report for Jan Tabac
1636       2248       Romax 32332 qsoing
1619       2255       Spakenburg 45344 qsoing
1651       2315       Monte Carlo 45344 qsoing

Observations

  • It was good to hear several stations for the first time in a while. Wegpiraat might not have been strong when we heard him two hours before the sun went down, but there was a clear ID. It's also been some time since I heard Meteoor, but he was back in action on Thursday night with some records on 1611 before a qso with Schaduwjager and Nova 4
  • King Radio has been on air a few times recently. He was previously known as Atletico and has been sending a fair signal across the North Sea with less than 100 watts. Great to hear this station on the air again. After he closed down on Thursday night he had a qso with Zwarte Diamant. It was hard work to get a good copy on his signal as he was transmitting on 1626, just 3 kHz down from the powerhouse Calipso, who was blasting in with the full 55555 sinpo. However, it seems Diamont is not often in the air (he has only a few mentions on the AM Fourm) and this was the first time he had been heard in England
  • Black Bandit is on MW more than SW these days, which is good news for me as he is always fun to listen to. He seems to have a huge catalogue of names to choose from whenever he comes on air, and his presentation style really captures the imagination. I have a vivid picture in my mind of him sitting in his studio with clouds of cigar smoke billowing out all around while he sits back in an armchair with a tumbler of neat whiskey in his hand. He was on the air for some hours on Thursday night, chatting with various stations, including Kleine Sjakie, who was a new one for me
  • On Sunday evening Dinkelland was blasting in with a cracking signal. I made this recording. He was asking for a report when I first heard him, and was later qsoing with Astronaut, who testing out his antenna after a few adjustments. He sent me this great atmospheric photo of his studio while he was on air
  • Radio Astronaut on air

MW Free Radio