Monday, August 29, 2016

Blackbeard flying the flag

On May 12 I mentioned that I had heard Dutch pirate Batavia on 1494 kHz. That frequency has been home to another pirate in recent months. Radio Blackbeard from the UK has been testing for a while and tonight (Bank Holiday Monday), I heard him for the first time on the channel and for the first time on MW since last Christmas.

The station was a SW regular in the late 90s/early 2000s and returned to action in March 2014 after a break of some years. For the last few months he's been turning his attention more and more to MW, improving his antenna system, adding more earth radials, changing this and that to try and get his signal out further and further. He was up on 1655 and 1611 kHz last December and tried out 1476 before settling down on 1494. And his hard work paid off tonight when his signal arrived here. 

Although reception tonight wasn't fantastic, it was listenable and not bad at all for the distance involved and considering the transmitter power. Blackbeard was using around 120 watts into an inverted L antenna (cut to a quarter of a wave), which is around 50 feet high.

Traces of the signal have been heard at the SDR in Enschede and I believe there are plans for a little more power, so the signal could be going even further soon. Check out 1494 when you get a few minutes, and you could make an old pirate very happy if you hear him!

The conventional pirate part of the MW band was nice and busy tonight. Conditions were a little up and down and a little noisy at times, but low-power Friesland pirate Rebel was making it through, while it was good to heard Brandaris for the first time in ages.

Monday, August 29, 2016
1645          2014         Zwarte Boekanier 45444 music programme
1635          2014         Twentana 44444 music programme
1624          2015         Brandaris 35333 music programme
1640          2018         Veronica 34433 music programme
1615          2058         Rebel 25232 music programme
1620          2109         Anton 45444 music programme
1494          2126         Blackbeard 23422 music programme
1656          2159         Noordzee 55444 qsoing
1653          2201         Monte Carlo 44444 qsoing
1665          2204         Polkman 25222-35333 testing
1660          2207         Noordzee 55444 qsoing
1645          2223         Noordzee 55344 music programme

Sunday, August 28, 2016
1615          2110         Batavier 45333-45344 music programme
1647          2115         Witte Tornado 45333-45344 music programme
1635          2221         Monte Carlo 35333 report for Witte Tornado

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Greek Tuesday

Some of you might have noticed that our Facebook presence has disappeared - the powers that be have taken a dislike to our Mediumwave Review user name and suspended the account. 

Hopefully we'll be back on there soon, but in the meantime if anybody out there would like to share our blogposts on to Facebook or Twitter by clicking the little 'F' or 't' symbols at the bottom of each post that would be great. It makes a big difference to the stats if we can get the blog out there to more people who wouldn't otherwise find it.

MW seems very quiet on this Tuesday evening with quite long skip conditions. There is a Greek or Balkan blasting through on 1629 as I write, with lots of English music and the odd jingle. I'm trying to work out who it is, although I don't fancy my chances! I know a lot of these guys run a lot of power, although a look around the internet suggests there are plenty of low-power operators too:

Here are some logs and observations from the listening post here in England. I'm currently using the Lowe HF225 together with my usual Wellbrook LN1530 outdoor loop. Times, as always, are UTC:

Tuesday, August 23, 2016
1638          2047         Bluebird 55444 music programme       
1620          2135         Monaco 33333 music programme
1625          2224         Pandora 55444 report for Monaco

Monday, August 22, 2016
1635          1928         Blauwe Koe 35333 music programme
1640          1930         Veronica 35343 music programme
1620          1940         Zwarte Golf 35443 testing
1628          1958         Digitaal 35333-45444 testing
1620          2020         Vrolijke Mijnwerker 45434-54444 testing modulation

Sunday, August 21, 2016
1647          1712         Witte Tornado weak signal, 35453 at 1738. 45444 at 1957
1637          1743         Osaka 25352, 35453 at 1852, 45444 at 2006 music programme
1512          1809         Baantje 24442-34443 music programme
1615          1824         Batavier 25442 music programme
1611          1858         Billy De Bluffer Team 34333-44444 music programme
1671          1915         Twentana 35443, 45444 at 2033 music programme
1628          1923         Vrolijke Mijnwerker 45333-45444 testing
1630          2116         Pandora 45444 music programme
1620          2244         Barones 45344-55444 music programme


  • It was interesting watching stations get slowly stronger on Sunday evening. Witte Tornado signed on for their weekly music programme at the usual 1700 Dutch time (1500 UTC) but the signal was weak when it started to break through a couple of hours later. Then, as you can see in the logs above, it got steadily stronger throughout the evening, peaking at 45444. The thing to notice though, is that the signal was audible here in England at just after 1700 UTC - over two hours before sunset. A good indication that autumn conditions are on the way. Once the clocks have changed in October Ill start to hear the Dutch pirates as early as 1400-1500 UTC and for longer during the mornings
  • Osaka from Twente was on the air for a long broadcast on Sunday night. Again, his signal got stronger as the evening continued and was peaking very, very well
  • There was a nice surprise on 1512 kHz when I caught Baantje on the frequency for the first time. He had set up his antenna to transmit on there earlier in the day for a QSO with Quintus, who had also been using the frequency
  • 1611 was home to the Billy De Bluffer Team on Sunday evening, although there was some interference at times from another station, perhaps from Greece. Seven days earlier the Zwarte Panter had been using the frequency, and it was indeed his transmitter in use again on this occasion. He also had Twente pirate Billy De Bluffer in the studio, along with Japie De Blitzkikker, no longer a pirate but a MW regular back in the 1990s. Indeed, I once visited these two in around 1993. Fond memories of an outside shack with a big 1kw Rohde and Schwarz transmitter going at full pelt while a big group sat around outside drinking beer on draught! I wonder if I have any photos anywhere?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Relaxing end to the day

After another day relaxing as my summer break from work nears an end, I spent a couple of hours with the radios to close Tuesday evening. 

There were seven different stations heard in the space of around 40 minutes from 2115 UTC with programmes from Napoleon (1611 kHz), Barones (1620) and Vrolijke Mijnwerker (1639).

A made a short video of reception here in England with the Lowe HF225 connected to the Wellbrook 1530 LN (above!), which you can view here:

And here are the logs:

Tuesday, August 16, 2016
1611          2115         Napoleon 34433-44444 music programme
1620          2115         Barones 45434-55444 music programme
1639          2116         Vrolijke Mijnwerker 55434-55444 music programme
1629          2152         Spakenburg 44434 testing
1640          2153         Electron signal mixing with Monte Carlo report for Mijnwerker 
1640          2153         Monte Carlo signal mixing with Electron report for Mijnwerker 
1640          2157         Professor Sickbok 45444 report for Mijnwerker
1647          2204         Vrolijke Mijnwerker 55434 qsoing
1633          2245         Barones 44444 relayed by Batavier 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Hot hot hot

Monday was a scorcher in the UK and I spent the day mainly in the garden with my children, where the Tecsun receiver was displaying a massive 113 degrees in the direct sunlight as you can see on the picture. And in fact, it hit a high of 122. Luckily there was plenty of shade.

The MW band was once again a hive of activity during the evening, with the biggest signals coming from Mustang, Dinkelland and Bluebird

Propagation conditions were generally stable, with reception possible from around 1900 UTC and improving greatly within the hour - a similar pattern to the previous day. Later there were some deep fades on the Mustang signal before they levelled out and it became like listening to a local station.

With the ideal weather for barbecues, this image made me smile when I saw it on Monday. I wonder if anybody out there has successfully cooked on the heat of a set of transmitter valves?

Here's what I heard as the sun started to fade and after darkness fell:

Monday, August 15, 2016
1640          1903         Veronica weak signal, 34333 at 2019 music programme           
1615          1904         Batavier weak signal, 34333 at 2017 music programme
1650          1905         Vrijevogel weak signal music programme
1625          1937         Twentana 24332-34333, 44444 at 2019 music programme
1645          1941         Blauwe Koe 34333 music programme
1620          1954         Zwarte Golf 34333 report for Monaco
1633          1956         Vrolijke Mijnwerker 45434 testing
1622          1957         Monaco 24222 qsoing
1614          2028         Mustang 55434-55444 music programme
1640          2105         Professor Sickbok 42442 qsoing
1642          2119         Turftrekker 43433-44444 music programme
1636          2137         Arrianne 32442 qsoing
1650          2137         Monte Carlo 34333 qsoing
1638          2141         Bluebird 55444 music progamme
1632          2204         Dinkelland 55444 report for Mustang
1633          2216         Barcelona 54444 qsoing
1615          2216         Monte Carlo 44444 qsoing
1642          2233         Casablanca 44444 short music programme
1655          2233         Noorderzon 25222-35333 music programme
1650          2243         Monte Carlo 45444 qsoing


  • With plenty of stations on air and frequencies at a premium there was a fair bit of congestion on the band. At one point, Arrianne was on 1636, Bluebird on 1638, Veronica and Professor Sickbok on 1640 and Turftrekker on 1642. Sometimes tricky to separate, but fun trying to work out all the ids!
  • Arrianne was qsoing until late into the evening on 1636 kHz, but was suffering a fair bit from the massive Bluebird signal. On a clear channel he would have been very listenable
  • Good to catch Zwarte Golf for the first time in a while. He was using 1620 kHz, although that part of the band was also busy with Batavier on 1615 and Twentana on 1625

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Just like autumn

What an evening it has been on 186 metres. Dutch pirate signals starting arriving from across the North Sea at just before 1800 UTC - they were weak at first as daylight continued but within 90 minutes they had picked up considerably and stations were coming in loud and clear. 

Propagation was a little volatile with signals changing quite quickly, but there was some super reception available which served as a timely taster of what we can expect as the days start to become shorter and the autumn arrives.

Earlier on Sunday I had been looking back at a post on the blog from a few months ago when I mentioned that Radio Sylvania and Dolfijn were back on air. I asked which old station might be the next to return to the airwaves. Well, today I heard the Smokkelkapitein, who has used various names down the years but has not been too active in recent times. His signal was also very fine here - you can listen to how I was receiving him on this soundclip also featuring Zwarte BMW, Monaco, Barones, Relmus, Columbia, Zwarte Panter and Zender Johan:

And here are my latest logs:

Sunday, August 14, 2016

1620          0415         Zonnester 35433-45444 music programme
1646          1753         Zwarte Bizon weak signal qsoing
1630          1756         Meteoor weak signal qsoing
1611          1814         Zwarte Panter (Oldenzaal) weak signal, 45444 at 1942 
1647          1942         Relmus 35343-45444 music programme
1620          1942         Monaco 45344 qsoing
1620          1945         Blauwe Piraat 25222 qsoing
1629          1945         Zwarte BMW 45444 qsoing
1632          1955         Barones 45444-55555 music programme
1622          1956         Monaco 35433-45444 qsoing
1645          2014         Zwarte BMW 44444 qsoing
1665          2014         Noorderzon 25222-35333 music programme
1620          2017         Smokkelkapitein 55444 qsoing
1638          2027         Vrolijke Mijnwerker 34333 qsoing
1641          2125         Turftrekker 55444-55555
1620          2125         Columbia 44444 music programme
1620          2207         Monte Carlo 44333 report for Columbia
1611          2214         Zender Johan 55444 qsoing
1610          2222         Monte Carlo 34333 qsoing

Saturday, August 13, 2016
1636          1935         Keizer en Keizerin 25222 music programme
1648          1940         Moby Dick 35333 music programme

Friday, August 12, 2016
1641          2324         Casablanca 45434 qsoing 
1611          2324         Barones 54444 music programme
1620          2333         Soerabaya 24222 qsoing
1622          2335         Jeneverstoker 34333 qsoing


  • Nice to hear Soerabaya on Friday evening for the first time in a while. He's on holiday from work at the moment so perhaps we will hear more from him in the coming days
  • Sunday was the first time I heard Monaco, but his voice was very familiar and one I've listened to many times. I even met him on one of my visits to the Netherlands a few years back
  • If you've listened to the recordings above you will have heard Relmus coming in loud and clear. Not bad at all considering he was using only 120 watts - a far cry from when running high power
  • Zwarte Panter (Oldenzaal) was a Sunday night regular some months back, so perhaps he'll be back on 1611 with a weekly programme now. His signal was peaking really well here
  • I don't hear Columbia too often so it was a surprise to catch him on the band tonight playing a selection of English records with international announcements too
  • Turftrekker was playing non-stop music on 1641 kHz, presumably testing his modulation which was particularly powerful, along with a powerhouse signal
  • Barones signed on with a report for the Zwarte BMW before launching into one of his lengthy entertaining transmissions on Sunday evening, through into the early hours of Monday morning. Along with Nooderzon on 1665, they were the last stations left on air when all the others had signed off for the night

Friday, August 12, 2016

Happy birthday Batavier

After an entertaining day that included a great afternoon with Terry of and a lengthy nap after too much food at a Chinese buffet, I spent the end of Thursday night tuning the MW band. 

Transmitting with just 70 watts and coming through well was Radio Batavier, who was celebrating his birthday with a broadcast on 1611 kHz. A very happy birthday from your friends across the water!

I made some recordings, which I've put together on the soundclip. If you take a listen you can hear Monte Carlo, Pandora, Batavier, Matrix and Scotland:

And here are the logs for the last couple of days:

Thursday, August 11, 2016
1638          2230         Bluebird 55444 music programme
1611          2231         Batavier 35333 music programme with 70 watts
1670          2233         Matrix 25222-35333 qsoing
1620          2235         Anton 45444 qsoing
1650          2240         Monte Carlo 55544-55555 qsoing
1625          2244         Pandora 55444 qsoing
1620          2252         Scotland 34333-45444 qsoing

Wednesday, August 10, 2016
1650          2202         Monte Carlo 55444 qsoing
1615          2206         Rebel 25242 testing
1645          2208         Casablanca (Twente) 35322-35443 qsoing
1636          2209         Noordzee 35232-35333 qsoing
1629          2212         Dinkelland 45444-55544 qsoing
1640          2218         Electron 45333 qsoing
1629          2227         Spanningzoeker 55444 qsoing
1629          2232         Jack Sparrow 45433 qsoing
1643          2248         Electron 45444 qsoing
1611          2303         Utopia 34333 qsoing and music programme


  • It was quite a surprise to hear Radio Scotland on the band on Thursday night during a qso - a quick scan through my logs reveals I've not heard him on MW since December 18, 2011. He's been going for many years and has a fascinating history that includes many encounters with the Dutch authorities. His website has plenty of insight
  • On Wednesday night Rebel popped up on 1615. He's also not often on air and was testing with 30 watts of power from Friesland. On the peaks his signal was arriving quite well
  • Also on Wednesday I heard Utopia for the first time in a while. He came on the band during a qso with some reports then stayed on air with some music for a while. His signal was somewhat weaker than usual, explained by his antenna being lower than normally

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Qsoing Baro style

Sunday night was interesting at the top of the MW band. Radio Barones was busy with a music programme on 1620 kHz and when Witte Tornado closed down from their weekly show on 1647, various stations came on to give them a report. 

While he was on air, Barones was listening to this qso on the Twente web receiver and started to join in, chatting to the stations in the round while also continuing with his music programme - a unique way to qso!

I made some recordings, and here you can listen to Zender Johan late on Sunday night during that qso, followed by Barones into the early hours of Monday morning - he eventually closed down just before 0330 local Dutch time after carrying out various modulation tests.

And here are my logs for the last few days:

Tuesday, August 9. 2016
1615          2124         Mustang 55444 testing
1625          2126         Yogi Bear en Einstein 35443 music programme
1629          2144         Jack Sparrow 45444 testing
1643          2237         Bluebird 55444 music programme

Monday, August 8, 2016
1640          2000         Veronica 35333 music programme
1620          2008         Nova 4 45434 qsoing
1634          2009         Blauwe Koe 35333 music programme
1650          2014         Vrijevogel 25222 music programme

Sunday, August 7, 2016
1620          0406         Zonnester 45333 music programme 
1620          2158         Barones 45433-55444 music programme
1638          2200         Bluebird 55444-55555 music programme
1611          2203         Zender Johan 54444 report for Witte Tornado
1610          2208         Monte Carlo 33433 qsoing
1647          2211         Witte Tornado 45333-45444 qsoing
1647          2252         Monte Carlo 34433 qsoing
1642          2326         Casablanca 42432


  • The band has been pretty quiet over the last few days. Now is generally holiday time in the Netherlands, so many pirates are probably spending time with their families rather than switching on their transmitters
  • Mustang and Jack Sparrow are good friends and were both testing on Tuesday night, although Jack was on air for only a few minutes. Both were very good here with Mustang packing his usual mighty punch
  • I caught only the last few minutes of Yogi Bear and Einstein on Tuesday but the signal was very good over here. Einstein is the technical guy in his area who helps out behind the scenes with various stations... names like Relmus, Wadloper and Batavier all call on his services from time to time
  • Monday night continues to be the regular slot for Veronica on 1640 kHz and his programme seems popular with the many Twente pirates who call in or message the studio
  • Blauwe Koe was doing well on Monday evening. His signal was fading around but sometimes coming up very well indeed
  • As you will see from the logs, Vrijevogel was also active on Monday. 1650 has been his regular frequency for a few months now, but this was the first time I've heard him on the channel. Conditions were a little strange... sometimes his signal was coming right up and was very listenable, but it would then dip right down into the noise. When autumn arrives propagation should stabalise
  • Bluebird remains consistently one of the strongest Dutch pirates active on MW. His self-built equipment is certainly working very well and is regularly audible here in the UK on nothing but a portable radio with only the internal ferrite antenna. With a communications receiver and the outdoor loop, he regularly hits the magic sinpo of 55555

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Sunday star shining bright

Early on a Sunday morning is often a good time to catch Dutch MW pirates, and one regular on the band is Radio Zonnester. He was in action this morning, signing on at 0406 UTC, just after 5am here in the UK and 6am in the Netherlands:

His programme is very popular with other pirates who tune in before switching on their transmitters and giving him a report when he comes to the end of his broadcast. This morning he closed down at 0610 UTC and was then swamped with reports from stations including Zwarte Panter, Quiksilver, Bonte Specht, Casablanca, Noordzee, Cuaraco, Alpenjager, Monaco and Zender Johan.

At my location it is rare to hear Dutch MW pirates during the hours of daylight, but Zonnester was still coming through at 0730 local time today, around two hours after sunrise. That's pretty good going and he was the only station I could hear at that time - the other pirates giving him reports were inaudible here.

So if you're near a radio early on a Sunday morning have a quick tune around. Not only is 1620 a popular frequency (sometimes you can hear the Bootsman at a similar time), 1611 often has some activity (today was Zwarte Panter), while 1539 is also popular with regular broadcasts from Kleine Cowboy and Zwarte Valk.

Al fresco pirate listening

It's been a long wait for the sort of weather that means we can spend an evening outdoors in the garden, but it came on Saturday night and we spent several hours with candles, fire, alcohol and some Dutch pirates on the radio.

Radio Barones on 1611 kHz was our station of choice for most of the evening, but I had a few turns of the dial at various intervals. Duranza is a name I've seen in chatrooms but have never heard myself, so it was good to catch this station tonight on 1620 kHz from the north of the Netherlands with a good signal. Moby Dick was busy with his weekly programme on 1648, while there were other stations dotted around, with Snowman doing well as usual with low power on 1667.

The SW antenna mast

The fire going strong out in the garden

The summer vibe - at last

The loop with some summer foliage!

Towards the end of the evening Dinkelland popped up on 1629, testing his equipment and having a qso with Spakenburg. I shot a little video of the reception of Dinkelland in the garden, which you can see here. The radio in use tonight was the Lowe HF225, connected to the loop antenna pictured above:

And here are tonight's logs along with some from earlier in the week:

Saturday, August 6, 2016
1611          2100         Barones 44444 music programme
1648          2100         Moby Dick 45444 music programme
1636          2130         Keizer en Keizerin 34333 music programme
1655          2143         Pioneer 45434
1667          2145         Snowman 25222-35333 music programme
1620          2145         Duranza 45434 music programme
1629          2216         Dinkelland 55434 asking for report
1629          2222         Spakenburg 44434 report for Dinkelland
1625          2230         Jeneverstoker 32432 reporting
1625          2323         Pandora 55444 qsoing

Friday, August 5, 2016
1615          2140         Uniek 35333 music programme
1631          2141         Turftrekker 44444 music programme
1638          2142         Bluebird 54444 music programme
1668          2145         Armada 45434 music programme
1633          2200         Barcelona 43443
1668          2200         Monte Carlo 55444 report for Armada
1620          2210         Monte Carlo 44444 report for Barcelona

Thursday, August 4, 2016
1640          2130         Veronica 35333 music programme
1640          2140         Monte Carlo 45434 report for Veronica
1655          2150         Wilskracht 35333 report for Veronica
1625          2211         Monte Carlo 45444 qsoing

Monday, August 1, 2016
1632          2330         Barones 54444 testing
1638          2330         Bluebird 54444 music programme

Monday, August 01, 2016

Summer fun

Last weekend I made what has become an almost annual trip across the North Sea to the Netherlands to take part in the Summer Meeting - where pirate operators and listeners get together to chat, eat and drink.

This year the event was organised by the Shortwave Combination Holland in the north-east of the Netherlands, a great location and run like clockwork by Jos of Radio Lowland and his team of helpers. There were many pirates enjoying the atmosphere, including a good number of MW operators like Radio SilviaJack SparrowArmadaHavannaCalimeroRelmusCasablancaWadloper, Batavier and more.

My visit to the Netherlands began on Friday July 22 when I flew over from England and spent the afternoon and evening with Radio Barones, who was in good spirits. His transmitter was not in A1 condition at the time so there was no transmitting like on so many previous occasions, but that was no problem. I've known the Baro for over 20 years , so it's always good to visit and find out what he's been up to.

On Saturday morning I took a slow drive to another good friend, to Radio Zeewolf and his family who welcomed me into their home. My bedroom for the next couple of days was in the studio, nestled among the many transmitters and pieces of radio equipment all set out in a stunning fashion. It really is a sight to behold!

On Saturday afternoon we headed to the Summer Meeting and spent a fine time in the company of many pirates whose names are know by radio listeners and DXers across Europe. Stations like PowerlinerTechnical ManBlack ArrowPythonFoxfireMustangTidalwaveCarrierwavePirana - they were all there. 

It was also a pleasure to meet Alf and Per from Sweden - great supporters of the pirate scene and big players in the Dx world in Scandinavia. We spent time chatting and drinking at the Summer Meeting before getting together again on Sunday with Radio Zeewolf and visiting a couple of pirates.

First stop was at Studio 52, where yours truly was a little quiet after far too much to drink at the Summer Meeting - I personally blame Mustang and Batavier. When you're in their company it is very difficult to drink slowly!

As ever, it was interesting to see where another shortwave pirate is housed and just what the set-up is. Many thanks for the coffee and cake, which helped wake me up a little!

The biggest surprise of the trip came on our next visit - to Radio Casablanca. Operator Hans has been transmitting for some 44 years and has seen it all during his time as a pirate. MW is his passion, and qsoing in particular. He took great delight in showing us his set-up and has kindly let me share these photos with you:

I think it's fair to say it's best to keep your hands in your pockets if you're going anywhere near the Casablanca transmitter! With wires everywhere it might not look the safest piece of kit, but it certainly packs a punch on the MW band with a great signal into the UK and Europe.

Like most pirate studios these days, there were plenty of computers on show. However, Casablanca has prefers to play his music from CD and has a fine collection.

After we had taken a good look at indoor side of Radio Casablanca, we went outside for a look at the antenna . . . and found something quite unexpected at the bottom of his antenna mast. For the use of friends and family, Hans has his own pub!

I had seen some Casablanca beermats previously, and now it all makes sense. With a full bar, pool table, fruit machine, music and even a transmitter, the pub has it all! Our Swedish friends could hardly believe their eyes!

Later than evening after a super Chinese meal in the Zeewolf garden it was great to hear Casablanca on air . . . just a few hours earlier we had been in his studio and drinking in his pub!

My trip this year was only a flying visit and I was back home on Monday evening, tired but with plenty of stories to tell.

I would like to say a very big thank-you to Barones and Zeewolf for kindly letting me stay with them, and also to Zeewolf's family for having this strange, sometimes messy, Englishman in their house for a couple of days. Also a big thumbs-up to Jos for all his time and effort to make the Summer Meeting the success it was. I can only imagine all the time and effort that went into making sure it ran so well. Many thanks.

It was great to be there and spend some time with you all.