Sunday, November 29, 2015

Follow me on Twitter

Several years ago I registered an account with Twitter. And that's as far as it went. Until recently, that is. I have now starting tweeting pirate information, recordings and the like. You can find me at twitter.com/MWPirateFan


Another way you can keep in touch with what I'm up to is through GooglePlus. Here you will find links to blog entries, tweets and any recordings or videos I've posted. Take a look here

Friday, November 27, 2015

More bad news

This morning I received an email from the operator of long-time pirate station Dokwerker, who told me he has sadly received a letter from the AT warning him about his activities on the airwaves. 

Dokwerker's signal was monitored by the Dutch authorities on September 12, and a letter arrived at his home two months later on November 12. With a hefty penalty to pay if he is heard broadcasting again during the next five years, it is likely we won't hear the station for the foreseeable future.

Dokwerker had been active as a pirate on and off since 1976 and more recently had been a Sunday morning regular. With less than 200 watts output power, the signal during wintertime in England was often pretty good.

It seems another MW pirate is lost and the band will become that little bit more empty. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

How low can you go?

Ever wondered why a Dutch pirate might be strong one night and weak the next? Sure, propagation has a big say in all of that, but there is another reason to think about.

A few minutes ago I heard Radio Montecarlo from the east of the Netherlands with a reception report on 1646 kHz for Professor Sickbok. He is usually very strong here, with typical signal strength of four out of five on the SINPO scale. Tonight he was more of a two, coming in with a SINPO of 25342. I was listening carefully and he mentioned his antenna was in the low position. 

Many of the Dutch pirates use what they call 'spool' antennas. This is basically a coil high up a mast with some top-loading and then an earth system which usually features plenty of copper piping buried around the base of the mast in a star shape. This type of antenna generally produces a good groundwave (although the skywave is not at all bad, either), which makes it ideal for covering a good part of a small country like the Netherlands. 



Such an antenna is also pretty compact, especially when it is on a hydraulic or electric mast, like that used by Montecarlo. At the press of a button, the mast rises, and so does the antenna. And reception generally improves in line with how high the antenna is. When pirates come on air with a reception report for a station in their locality there is often no need to have the antenna as high as possible as they will be heard regardless, so it stays low - and that is when overseas reception dips. 

So, next time you hear a pirate with a lower signal than you sometimes get, it might not be the fault of propagation or solar flare.


Here's the list of stations I've heard tonight, together with some other recent listings:

Monday, November 16, 2015
1620          0545         Nova 4 45344 music programme
1640          2205         Veronica 44444 music programme
1640          2213         Professor Sickbok 45444 report for Veronica
1630          2216         Anton 45444 music programme
1646          2303         Monte Carlo 25342 report for Professor Sickbok
1626          2315         Jack Sparrow 35333-45444 qsoing
1625          2347         Jeneverstoker weak signal qsoing

Sunday, November 15, 2015
1620          0623         Amigo 35333 music programme
1620          0747         Zonnester 25222 report for Amigo
1620          0752         Johan 35343-45444 qsoing
1647          1627         Witte Tornado 35343 music programme
1675          1850         Batavier 25222 music programme
1611          1912         Atletico weak signal music programme
1657          1944         Turfsteker 25222-35333 music programme

Saturday, November 14, 2015
1620          1544         Druckstromjager 35343-45444 asking for report
1640          1558         Professor Sickbok 25332-35333 qsoing
1629          1604         Pioneer (Rotterdam) 35333 asking for report
1640          1620         Professor Sickbok 35333-45444 music programme
1650          1651         Vendor 35333 music programme
1636          1707         Keizer en Keizerin 35333, 45444 at 1752 music programme
1620          1725         Zwarte Golf 35333 testing
1611          1840         Atletico 25222-35333 music programme
1622          1901         Dageraad 35333 music programme     
1648          1908         Mustang 55444 music programme
1620          1943         Monza 45444 report
1648          2127         Moby Dick 35333-45444 music programme

Thursday, November 12, 2015
1620          0545         Nova 4 35333 music programme
1626          1724         Zwarte Boekanier 55434 asking for report
1655          1725         Hooiberg 25222-35333 music programme
1620          1732         Sterrekijker 25222 music programme
1611          1740         Zwarte Boekanier 55434 asking for report
1645          1916         Amigo 35333 testing
1614          1933         Zwarte Panter (North Holland) weak signal music programme
1665          1936         Polkaman 25222-45444 music programme
1620          2041         Saporro 35333-45444 qsoing
1633          2048         Turftrekker 33333 qsoing
1680          2129         Armada 45333 testing and asking for report

Wednesday, November 11, 2015
1646          2206         Wadloper 45434 music programme
1630          2240         Pandora 45434 music programme
1630          2320         Spanningzoeker 45434 report for Pandora
1633          2330         Spanningzoeker 45434-55444 qsoing
1624          2342         Jeneverstoker 35333 qsoing
1615          2345         Soerabaya 25332-35333 qsoing

Tuesday, November 10, 2015
1620          0545         Nova 4 35333 music programme
1654          1600         Oldtimer 35322-35333 music programme
1615          1604         Zwarte Boekanier weak signal
1620          1612         Zwarte Boekanier weak signal
1660          1650         Digitaal 45434-55544
1635          1704         Ruimzicht 25222 asking for report
1645          1726         DB 35333 qsoing
1620          1730         Pontiac 45333-55444 asking for report
1638          1743         Osaka 25222-35333 qsoing

Monday, November 9, 2015
1655          2325         Witte Raaf 35333 music programme

Friday, November 6, 2015
1636          1501         Havanna 35353 music programme
1637          1624         Blonde Zwerver 35333 qsoing
1653          1624         Rode Ster 45444 qsoing
1635          1635         Ruimzicht 25242 qsoing
1620          1638         Sterrekijker 25222, 34443 at 2018 
1655          1730         Hooiberg 35333-45444 music programme       
1629          1904         Relmus 45444-55555 music progamme            
1646          2054         Mustang 55444 music programme
1620          2110         Nova 4 45444-55444 music programme
1640          2114         Moskou 35333-45444 testing
1640          2127         Poema 45444 qsoing
1633          2336         Uniek 33433-55444 music programme

Thursday, November 5, 2015
1620          1845         Nova 4 55444 music programme
1647          1847         Armada 35333 qsoing
1646          1850         Zwarte Bizon 45444 qsoing
1615          2106         Barones 25222-35333 music programme
1636          2106         Barones 45434-55444 music programme         
1660          2106         Noorderzon
1620          2242         Baantje 34333 qsoing
1622          2351         Pontiac 55544 testing

Wednesday, November 4, 2015
1620          0545         Eskimo 35333-45444 qsoing
1620          0603         Johan 55444 qsoing
1620          0650         Noordzee 45333-45444 music programme

Tuesday, November 3, 2015
1620          0545         Nova 4 55444-55555 music programme until around 0630
1635          1749         Boogschutter 25222-35333 music programme
1615          1809         Batavier 35333 music porgramme
1647          1830         Nachtzwerver 24222-35443 testing
1620          1832         Spanningzoeker 55444-55555 testing
1620          2134         Station from northern Greece with report for Mijnwerker 35333
1620          2135         Vrolijke Mijnwerker 55444 qsoing
1629          2147         Pioneer 35323 asking for report
1646          2208         Wilskracht 45334 music programme
1640          2217         Professor Sickbok 45434-55444 qsoing
1665          2301         Amigo 45434 qsoing
1640          2307         Noordzee 45434 qsoing
1635          2307         Ruimzicht 25222-35333 qsoing

Observations

  • Nova 4 is pretty busy early in the morning. He can be heard several times a week on 1620 kHz, always closing down at around 0630 UTC (0730 Dutch time)
  • Sterrekijker has been on air for the last couple of Friday evenings, running at just 30 watts. He used to run considerably more power for his weekly programmes and, although the signal is obviously weaker now, it still seems to be getting out pretty well
  • Sunday morning on 1620 kHz is usually the time and place you will find a music programme from Zonnester or Dokwerker. Last Sunday, though, Amigo took their place. Zonnester made his appearance a little later for a QSL, along with Johan, who always has a strong signal over here
  • Last Saturday was interesting with some stations I haven't heard in a while. It was good to welcome back Zwarte Golf, Vendor, Atletico and Dageraad to my receiver

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The end of Zeewolf?

On July 26 two men were seen outside the house of the operator of Radio Zeewolf, who was transmitting on MW at the time. They were taking photographs of the antenna and were thought to have been representatives of the AT, who are responsible for keeping the airwaves clear of illicit radio stations in the Netherlands. However, they were not seen again and nothing was heard about the visit. Not until October 31.



On that Saturday morning there was a special delivery at the Zeewolf studio, containing a letter from AT detailing their visit during the summer, together with photographs and personal information. There was also a warning that if the station is heard again during the next five years there will be a penalty, starting at 2,250 euro, but up to a maximum payment of 33,750.

The annoying thing for Zeewolf is that he had been on air only a short time on the day of the AT visit, testing his antenna after returning from a family holiday. 

Since receiving the AT letter, Zeewolf has removed his transmitting antenna for MW and so removed the temptation to come back on air. Instead he is concentrating on listening to the pirates and has been testing a very small whip antenna where his coil antenna used to stand. It has been working well and he has been impressed with reception from such a small antenna.

So, it seems another Dutch AM pirate has been silenced. It could have been worse - in the old days equipment might have been seized straight away with no warning. And this is the way the authorities are operating these days - a kind of gentle but effective approach that is slowly removing the stations we enjoy listening to. Rode Adelaar was another pirate to get the letter recently and he too has taken leave of the airwaves.



I first heard Zeewolf in June 2011 on 1647 kHz. He had yet to venture on to shortwave and it was the first time the former FM pirate had been heard in England. He was thrilled when I sent a reception report and some recordings from this side. Here is one of those recordings from later that year, made on October 21:




Friday, November 06, 2015

Polka time

The Dutch pirates have been coming through since 1500 local time today - 90 minutes before sunset - when Havanna kicked it off on 1636 kHz. 

Right now though it's polka time with Relmus powering through on 1629. His Friday night programmes at the top of the MW band aren't quite as regular as they once were, so it's great to her him back on his usual slot with some fun and all sorts of music.

The man behind the microphone has sent me these pictures from the transmitter room to share with you:




This recording of his signal shows just how solid he is sounding tonight - and he's also making it across the Atlantic to Newfoundland:

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Double Baro

In between fireworks and sparklers in the garden tonight, I've been listening to the Barones - on 1636 and 1615 kHz. It's not very often you hear a Dutch MW pirate on two frequencies at the same time, but it's been made possible this evening with a little help from Radio Batavier and the SDR at Enschede.


1636 kHz has been providing the main signal, but the 60 watt transmitter on 1615 has been doing a great job too, with a sinpo often around 35333. 

As the clock approaches midnight Baro is shortly to close down. He's currently playing some classic Simon and Garfunkal. No matter how many times I hear him spin these records I never tire of them. I remember listening to the same tunes when I was much younger, living with my parents and staying up late into the night listening to illegal broadcasters when I probably should have been spending my time studying for exams!



And yesterday there was plenty of interest for me during the early morning from around 0545 when stations Eskimo, Johan and Rocking Billy were busy qsoing with each other. 

It's been two years since I previously heard Eskimo, so it was good to catch his signal once more. The last time I heard him was at 0445, so it seems he is a real early bird. Johan is another station often active early in the day, too, and he was coming in very strongly. I made a couple of recordings:


Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Greece calling

Very good conditions on MW this evening with Dutch signals arriving well into England, and some strong stations from the Balkans as well. In fact, I've just been listening to Vrolijke Mijnwerker qsoing on 1620 kHz with a station from Thessaloniki in the northern part of Greece.

It's not very often you hear Dutch MW pirates qsoing with stations from another country, so it's been something out of the ordinary this evening. And what really caught my ear was when the Greek station started playing his recordings of Mijnwerker, who was incredibly strong at his side. And, in something of a coincidence, the station operator previously lived in Germany for some 20 years, so they were able to converse in German, along with some English words too!



There were plenty of other strong signals from the Balkans on various frequencies up to 1710 kHz. I just wish I understood some of the languages being spoken!

My listening day also began on 1620 kHz when I was tuned in to the breakfast show from Radio Nova 4. He was going strong at 0545 local time here with a huge signal of 55555 and was still strong when closing down at around 0630. He can often be caught at this time of day as he plays records for listeners getting ready for work and travelling to work. Many car radios can receive on the frequency, so he gets a fair few listeners.

Back from Wales

After a busy few weeks at work I spent last week on lots of family days out and a long weekend in North Wales. The radio and small loop antenna went with us, but there was not much time for listening. I did manage to hear Calimero, Havanna and Witte Tornado while I was tuning around but, despite being in a remote farm location, there was annoyingly plenty of noise to contend with.

I'm back at home now and I've been listening around tonight (Monday) when there were some nice catches. Boomerang isn't on MW too much these days, but he was on air on 1625 kHz tonight with a fine signal:



Paul McCartney and The Frog Chorus caught my attention towards the end of the evening on 1611 and it turned out to be Radio Daniel. I think he had been on the frequency for a few hours with a programme, but when I heard him he was qsoing with Amigo:



Earlier I heard some music coming through on 1668 kHz. After a few inquiries I found out it was Blue Star testing his audio with just 20 watts. He was peaking with a sinpo of around 35433 which was a great effort. He continues to be regularly active on 747 kHz as well, but I've yet to hear him or any other Dutch pirate on that part of the band. I will keep on trying!



Here are all of the logs for Monday night, plus some others to bring the record up to date:


Monday, November 2, 2015
1629          1737         Belladonna 22432-34433 music programme
1611          1738         Zwarte Boekanier 45554 music programme
1640          1859         Veronica 45344 music programme
1625          1945         Boomerang 55444 testing
1648          2013         Armada 45444 music programme
1668          2019         Blue Star 35443 audio test
1638          2310         Calimero 55444 music programme
1617          2332         Amigo 45444 qsoing
1611          2335         Daniel 24222-34443 qsoing

Thursday, October 29, 2015
1645          1711         Digitaal 35343 qsoing
1620          1714         Johnny Camaro 25232, 35333 at 1739 music programme
1635          1714         Boogschutter 25222-35333 music programme
1625          1808         Zwarte Panter (North Holland) 25222 music programme

Sunday, October 25, 2015
1629          1551         Meteoor 35333 qsoing
1647          1551         Witte Tornado 55444 music programme
1620          1555         Monza 35333-45444 qsoing
1629          1558         Brandaris 35333 qsoing
1655          1605         Hooiberg 25222-35333 qsoing
1638          1818         Calimero 44444 music programme
1645          1943         Wadloper 42432-54444 music programme

Saturday, October 24, 2015
1636          1653         Keizer en Keizerin 44444 at 1930 music programme
1655          1654         Hooiberg music programme
1615          1803         Batavier 35333 music programme
1648          1827         Mustang 55444 music programme
1646          1925         Zwarte Bizon 54444
1648          1926         Moby Dick 55444 music programme

MW Free Radio