Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Busy end to the month

While Sunday and Monday were much quieter on the MW here than Saturday had been, Tuesday night was very busy. There seemed to be a bit of a nosedive in propagation at around 2000 UTC, but signals picked up again a couple of hours later.

Although I was unable to hear anything during the daytime, I entertained myself listening to the SDR at Twente and to various Dutch pirate signals. There was a nice qso during the early afternoon between Havanna, Sterrenboog, Noordzee, Utopia and Johan. 

I've heard Sterrenboog on my own receivers only once here in England, so it was nice to hear him again even if it was on the SDR. I wondered, however, given his transmitter had been on, if he might flick the switch again during the evening, which would give me a chance to hear him properly. And, sure enough, he did just that and put a decent signal into my location. He was qsoing with Brandaris and Bizon, and I made some recordings, which you can hear below.







Regular readers of the blog might well have seen the list I put together in the first days of 2017 detailing all the stations I heard during 2016. There were 167 in total.

January leaves me with the impression it has been a busy month for the Dutch MW operators, so I thought I'd count up the stations heard. And, incredibly, with just one month of the year gone, I've logged 101 pirates. I reckon three of those have used two names, which brings us down to 98 individual operators. Some feat for just one month. 

Although the rest of the year will see many of these stations logged many more times, I reckon hearing over 200 stations is certainly possible for 2017, which indicates the AM pirate scene is thriving. At a time when the Dutch authorities are cracking down on the hobby and many operators are getting older, this amount of activity is a real positive for the future of the Dutch pirate scene. Long may it continue!

It was particularly pleasing to catch Skywire with a good signal on Tuesday evening. In fact, reception of the station was the best I have ever had. As you can hear from the recording, his 80 watts was doing particularly well. I heard Arizona for the first time in a long while, and Charlie Brown from Twente is a new addition to the band.




Here are the logs for the last few days:

Tuesday, January 31, 2017
1620       1639       Sterrenboog 25222-35333 asking for report
1645       1648       Digitaal 35443-45444 report for Sterrenboog
1630       1649       Rodester 45444 report for Sterrenboog
1643       1701       Charlie Brown 25322 qsoing
1630       1717       Noordzee 35333 qsoing
1640       1728       Brugwachter 45444 qsoing
1645       1744       Batavier 34333 testing with wire antenna then coil
1635       1745       Nachtzwerver weak signal qsoing
1661       1804       Arizona weak signal qsoing
1634       1831       Blauwe Panda weak signal qsoing
1646       1835       Skywire 25332-35333 music programme
1620       1921       Brandaris 35333-45444 asking for report
1623       1930       Bizon 35333-45444 report for Brandaris
1611       1941       Zwarte Boer 23322-34333 music programme



1630       1941       Marianne 44444-55444 music programme
1655       1942       Batavier 35333 report for Brandaris
1640       2027       Batavier weak signal
1660       2217       Batavier 34433 music programme
1614       2219       Monaco 24222-35333 report for Marianne
1645       2219       Monte Carlo 35333 report for Marianne
1633       2237       Barcelona 45434-55444 qsoing
1620       2245       Monte Carlo 44444 qsoing



Monday, January 30, 2017
1642       0944       Noordzee weak signal. Testing, also on 1636 and 1630
1645       1631       Digitaal 25442 calling for qso
1650       1636       Digitaal 25442 calling for qso



Sunday, January 29, 2017
1647       1856       Witte Tornado 44444 music programme
1620       1857       Weduwe 45434-55444 music programme
1611       1936       Jonge Boer 23422 music programme
1635       1949       Yogi Bear en Einstein 45434

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Super Saturday

It's been a long time since I can recall a Saturday quite like this. In fact, I don't think I've ever known one. I heard a couple of Dutch pirates first thing in the morning before the signals faded down as the sun came up. But at around 1300 local time the signals started arriving once again from across the North Sea - three and a half hours before sunset and a very rare occurrence. 



Sure enough, those pirates heard during early afternoon were weak, but sometimes the signals came up and were perfectly listenable. And from around 1500 they became stronger and stronger, and there were more and more of them. In fact, take a look at the list and there is an incredible amount. A quick count up and I made it 37 pirates during just the one day - and there would have been others I didn't log.

Nice to catch some different names, too - a couple of new pirates, some I haven't caught before and some returning after a break. Here's the rather long list:

Saturday, January 28, 2017
1620       0600       Rode Rover 45434 music programme
1620       0704       Zwarte Bouvier 25222-35333 music programme



1610       1259       Drukstroomjager weak signal asking for report
1628       1310       Drukstroomjager weak signal qsoing
1620       1320       Moonbreaker weak signal qsoing
1635       1323       Golfbreker weak signal-25342
1620       1334       Omega weak signal-25342 testing
1611       1345       Nachtzwerver weak signal
1620       1409       Marskramer (Friesland) weak signal testing
1623       1411       Relmus 25342 testing
1611       1438       Mike 25342 testing
1620       1514       Columbia weak signal asking for report
1612       1528       Pontiac 35333 qsoing
1646       1534       Zwarte Bizon 25222 qsoing
1638       1558       Friese Piraat 25222 music programme
1610       1600       Anton 24322 qsoing
1620       1604       Moonbreaker 25332-35343 qsoing
1640       1605       Brugwachter 35443 report for Friese Piraat
1650       1605       Batavier 25332, 35443 at 1621 report for Friese Piraat
1645       1609       Kamelen Boer 25322 report for Friese Piraat
1620       1610       Omega 25332 qsoing
1620       1617       Digitaal 35333 qsoing
1632       1626       Alaska weak signal qsoing
1638       1633       Osaka 25222-35333 qsoing
1670       1648       Digitaal 45334-55444 music programme
1638       1656       Brugwachter 55444 qsoing
1634       1708       Keizer en Keizerin 34443, 45444 later music programme
1620       1708       Columbia 35343-45444 music programme
1645       1747       Casablanca (Twente) 35343 music programme
1614       1800       Waterman 24222 music programme
1656       1815       Nachtzwerver 24322-45444 music programme
1635       1831       Yogi Bear en Einstein 44444 testing. Switched to 1638  
1625       1947       Barones 55444 music programme
1630       1948       Polidor 33433-44444 testing
1611       2258       Utopia 33433-44444 music programme
1650       2259       Lotus 55444 qsoing



1650       2309       Snowman 25222 music programme
1625       2309       Scotland 45434 qsoing
1655       2312       Batavier 45444
1629       2313       Monza 34433 qsoing
1647       2319       Nachtzwerver 34333 music programme
1625       2324       Napoleon 44444 music programme
1620       2326       Musky 33333 music programme
1629       2336       Blauwe Koe 34433 music programme
1643       2341       Adje 45444 music programme
1650       2350       Monte Carlo 34333 qsoing
1650       2353       Digitaal 44444-55444 qsoing
1632       0026       Vrolijke Mijnwerker 55444 music programme



Friday, January 27, 2017
1630       1533       Vrolijke Mijnwerker 35443-45444 short music programme
1634       1755       Golfbreker 25222-35333 
1646       1759       Zwarte Bizon 34333 qsoing
1655       1801       Dikke Betta 55444 music programme
1645       1805       JB 45444 testing



1629       1814       Columbia 35333-45444 testing
1620       1821       Relmus 25222-45444 music programme
1494       1826       Coast FM 34333-55544 relay 
1638       1842       Casablanca (Twente) 25332 qsoing
1638       1917       Admiraal 34333
1611       1919       Utopia 24332, 44434 at 1935 report for Columbia
1630       1939       Moonbreaker report for DB
1615       1944       Mosterdboer 35333-45444 music programme
1629       1955       Malibu 25222-35333 music programme
1646       1958       Kristal 55444 music programme
1611       2215       Malibu 24222-34333 music programme
1660       2216       Twentana 25222-44444 music programme
1655       2217       Batavier 35333 music programme
1650       2223       Batavier 35333 music programme


Thursday, January 26, 2017
1629       1530       Rebecca weak signal
1634       1550       Bizon 25222 testing

Wednesday, January 25, 2017
1638       2350       Bluebird 44444-55444 music programme
1641       0012       Orion 35333 qsoing
1649       0016       Monte Carlo 35333 qsoing
1655       1644       Batavier 25222, 35333 at 1812 music programme
1629       1652       Noordzee 25222-35333 music programme
1663       1714       Digitaal 25222-35333 qsoing
1660       1718       Noordzee 25222-35333 qsoing
1663       1744       Paradiso 25222 qsoing
1658       1748       Nachtzwerver weak signal qsoing
1634       1829       Blauwe Panda weak signal
1647       1831       Nachtzwerver weak signal-25222 music programme
1638       1945       Casablanca (Twente) 35333 music programme

Observations

  • There was a nice surprise on Wednesday evening when I heard Orion qsoing with Monte Carlo. 1641 kHz has long been his frequency, but he had been absent for some time. In fact, a look at the logs reveals I hadn't heard him since October 19, 2013. Welcome back!
  • Great to catch Rebecca on Thursday afternoon. I was sitting in the living room watching TV and thought I'd have a quick check on the radio - and there he was coming through. The signal wasn't strong but it was over an hour before sunset.
  • There were two new names on the band on Friday night. Golfbreker was the first. The operator of the station had previously been part of an FM team but has decided to try MW. He purchased a transmitter from another station in Friesland and, with a little help from Melkbus, has got everything working well. The power is 120 watts and the signal here was pretty good. Nice to have a new station on air.
  • The other station on Friday evening that I hadn't heard before was Mosterdboer. I turned detective and recruited a few helpers to try to find out a little more information about this one and it seems this was actually an FM pirate being relayed on to MW, although I'm not sure by who. The signal here was very good.
  • During Saturday's marathon listening session and some very favourable propagation conditions it was good to catch some pirates I hadn't heard in a good while - Roderover, Zwarte Bouvier, Drukstromjager/Pontiac, Alaska, Lotus and Scotland. And again there was a new addition to the airwaves. This time it was Omega, who was testing his antenna. I also heard Waterman for the first time. This is a famous name from the past, but a different station now. Also on Saturday, Kamelen Boer was a new name for me, although the station is a regular under a different name. Some oldtimers may well recognise his voice. Adje is a name that hasn't appeared in my logs either, although the operator has (Black Bandit, Johnny Tobacco anyone?)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Remembering the DPRS

A few weeks ago I came across something that caught my eye on the Facebook page of a Finnish pirate enthusiast. It was a bulletin from the Dutch Pirate Radio Service from the mid-1990s.

The DPRS was run from Preston in the north-west of England by Derek Taylor, a fanatic of the Dutch pirate scene who knew everybody and everything. If you had a question about free radio from across the North Sea, Derek was your man. He even once appeared on the Radio Netherlands show Media Network talking about his pirate passion.

As well as running the DPRS, which put listeners in touch with the pirates and even sent out qsls on behalf of the stations who did not acknowledge reception reports, Derek also offered his address for letters connected with my Pirate Chat magazine.


I met Derek several times and even spent a day at Blackpool with him and Dutch MW pirate Technical Man about 20 years ago. I can remember sitting in a bar on the Pleasure Beach talking about all things radio and also playing some of the slot machines on the Golden Mile. I still have some photos of us all somewhere.

Derek suddenly disappeared from the scene some years ago and nobody has managed to get in touch with him. I know that Radio Barones, for one, has called various numbers but with no success. Perhaps he will reappear at some point. Radio seems to be like that... people come and go but often come back again. And that was what I thought as I read through his bulletin from July 1996.

Have a look yourself and you will see many names from the pirate scene who are still going strong today. Stations like Blauwe Piraat, Blauwe Ster, Driland, Electron, Noordzee, Scotland can still be heard. Some are no longer with us having sadly died - stations like Nooitgedacht, Tijdbreker and Pelikaan - three stalwarts from the Acterhoek who would regularly be heard back in the day. Some stations have gone from the radar, but perhaps they will be back.

I had a bit of a blast from the past myself on Sunday morning when I was tuning around at about 0730 local time and heard Radio Curacau for the first time in several years. When I first became interested in the hobby in the early 1990s he was a regular on the band but I have heard him on only one other occasion since I starting listening to the pirates again in 2011 after a lengthy break. It's great when these stations pop up on the band... a reminder of yesteryear, a voice that you had forgotten that you know again in an instant. 





Time for my latest logs. Have a look and see which of the stations listed were active in 1996. A fair few as it happens.

Monday, January 23, 2017
1651       1710       Vrijevogel 25222-35333 music programme
1620       1752       Jonny Camaro 25222-35333 music programme
1625       1754       Derdeman 25222-35333
1625       1807       Digitaal 45444 qsoing
1625       1827       Spanningzoeker 55444 qsoing
1611       1833       Blackstone 24222-34333 qsoing
1645       1905       Oldtimer 45434 music programme
1629       1918       Monza 45444
1611       1925       Jonge Boer 24222-34333 music programme
1647       2220       Noordzee 35333-45444 music programme

Sunday, January 22, 2017
1630       0728       Curacau 23422-33433 qsoing
1615       0739       Mike 24422 music programme
1610       1630       Anton 23432-33433 music programme
1629       1632       Duranza 25322-35333 music programme
1647       1632       Witte Tornado 45434 at 2022 music programme
1620       2015       Santana 33333-44444 music programme
1628       2017       Barones 44444-55444 music programme

Friday, January 20, 2017
1630       1612       Anton 45444 music programme
1620       1626       Sterrekijker 25222 music programme
1655       1713       Dikke Betta 45333-55544 music programme
1646       1718       Zwarte Bizon 35333 report for Anton
1629       1721       Monza 35333 testing
1636       1842       Dolfijn 25222-35333 music programme
1655       1856       Relmus 35333 music programme

Monday, January 16, 2017
1630       1649       Digitaal 35333 qsoing
1652       1655       Turfsteker 25332 qsoing
1629       1715       Friese Piraat 25222 music programme
1657       1734       Digitaal 35222 qsoing
1617       1800       Mike 35333-45444 testing antenna
1636       1827       Admiraal 24222-34333 qsoing
1650       1840       Kristal 44444 music programme
1629       1845       Zwarte Arabier 45444-55555 music programme
1640       1854       Veronica 44444 music programme
1645       1900       Oldtimer 35333-45444 music programme
1648       1910       Admiraal 34333 report for Kristal 
1611       1914       Zwarte Boer 33433 music programme
1655       1937       Batavier 34333 testing
1620       2011       Malibu 34433 
1620       2014       Blauwe Piraat 34433 report for Malibu

Wednesday, January 11, 2017
1635       1715       Digitaal 35333
1625       1727       Johnny Camaro 25222, 45444 at 1812 music programme
1637       1734       Skywire 25222 music programme
1647       1734       Telefunken 25222 report for Digitaal
1646       1739       Digitaal 35333-45444 qsoing
1611       1815       Utopia 35333-45444 short music programme
1645       1830       Turftrekker 25222-25442 testing
1655       1903       Telefunken 25222
1643       1911       Nachtzwerver 25222 testing
1645       1942       Paradiso weak signal qsoing 
1646       1954       Digitaal 35222-35333 report for Nachtzwerver
1642       2007       Digitaal 35222-35333 music programme

Monday, January 9, 2017
1640       2110       Veronica 35333 music programme

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Catch of the day

The last few days might not have seen a huge amount of MW pirate activity, but some of the Dutch stations heard here in England have raised plenty of talking points.

It is usually the case with morning reception that signals fade out when the sun comes up. So when I got to my receivers at around 0830 on Saturday morning I didn't expect to hear much. Had I have been a few minutes earlier I would have caught Barones on 1627 who had been on air with a rare morning programme for a couple of hours. Havanna was still going strong, however, peaking up to a SINPO of 45444 at just after 0900. Imagine my surprise when I could still him an hour later. Yes, the signal was weaker, but he was clearly audible at 1000. 



Those good conditions on Saturday morning also gave me the chance to hear IJsselstein for the first time. He is often on air at this time on various in-band frequencies but propagation doesn't usually allow me to hear him. Unfortunately, those favourable conditions weren't repeated on Sunday when signals were way down until much later into the evening than usual.

Sunday, January 8, 2017
1620       1602       Pioneer 25442
1647       1631       Witte Tornado 35333 music programme
1625       2118       Barones 45434-55444 music programme
1611       2128       Batavia 33322-34443 music programme
1615       2339       Johan 55444 qsoing
1645       2346       Monte Carlo 35333 qsoing
1630       2351       Jeneverstoker 25222 qsoing
               
Saturday, January 7, 2017
1635       0831       Havanna 45444 music programme
1615       0832       Johan 35343 music programme
1620       0848       Zonnester 35333, 45444 at 0858 report for Johan
1616       0850       Noordzee 25332 report for Johan
1512       0856       IJsselstein 23422 music programme
1622       0916       Marskramer (Friesland) weak signal music programme

Friday, January 6, 2017
1630       1833       Friese Piraat 35434-45444 music programme
1636       1850       Dolfijn 44444 music programme
1656       1906       Transparant 35222-35333 report for Friese Piraat
1494       1928       Laser Hot Hits 33522-45444 music programme
1645       2130       Sallandse Boer 35333 music programme
1615       2153       Torpedojager (NWO) 35333-45444 music programme
1636       2200       Odynn weak signal music programme
1655       2230       Relmus 25222-45434 music programme



Observations

  • Good to catch Barones on Sunday night - the first time I've heard him this year. It seems I missed an epic broadcast on December 31 when this legendary pirate from the Achterhoek was on air with a marathon eight-hour programme. I can only imagine the amount of German beer and wine consumed during that length of time!
  • When I heard Friese Piraat on Friday evening I assumed he had upgraded his transmitter from the usual 100 watts such was the signal strength. He tells me, however, it was his usual transmitter, which suggests conditions were at their optimum.

  • Transparant is rarely heard in England, In fact, I have to go back to October 31, 2011 to find my one and only log of the station. He's not on air often and transmissions usually take place during the afternoon.
  • Another station mainly on air in the daytime is Sallandse Boer, so it was a surprise to catch his lengthy music programme on Friday night. His SK050 transmitter was putting out a decent signal into the UK.

  • Nice to have Odynn back on MW with a long broadcast on Friday night. There were just 15 watts of power going into his 15-metre-high coil antenna. The signal was weak here, but the occasional peak brought the station up out of the noise.
  • Laser Hot Hits often pops up on 1494 these days, sometimes with live output. The signal on Friday night was up and down with fading at some points, but later in the evening was pretty steady and sounding very powerful.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Grundig Hit Boy 100

In Wednesday's post I wrote about some of the receivers and antennas I use for tuning in to the Dutch pirates. I briefly mentioned it was possible to hear these stations using inexpensive equipment, so I thought I'd prove that theory with a very nice little radio I was given at Christmas - the Grundig Hit Boy 100, built in 1980. The one I got has been reconditioned and is in superb condition.



On Wednesday night I had a tune around at the top of the MW band without any antenna other than the in-built ferrite rod. And, sure enough, I heard Uniek on 1619 and Napoleon on 1622 kHz - it was even possible to separate the two stations who were transmitting at the same time. This reception was indoors where there is any amount of noise knocking around from the appliances around the home.

Tonight (Thursday) I thought I'd throw my little portable loop antenna into the mix to see what I could hear. I took the setup outside into the garden (I must be mad, it was freezing!) and made a small video of the results:




As you can see and hear, that's super reception of the Zwarte Arabier on 1620 kHz. I also heard Witte Tornado coming in pretty well on 1647. So you really can hear pirates stations without all the fuss and expense of big desktop receivers, and it's fun tuning around without know exactly what frequency you're listening to.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Tuning in to the Dutch pirates

For listeners, dxers, pirate fans and general radio nuts who might be new to having a look at this blog, I thought I'd start the new year with a recap on some of the equipment here. 

The receiver I use most of the time is the Kenwood R5000. I also have the Lowe HF150, which spends most of its time in the living room rather than the radio room, the Lowe HF225, which has incredible audio quality, and countless other receivers I have accumulated over the years. In actual fact you don't need fancy radios to hear the bigger Dutch pirates. I've heard them on all sorts of devices, from clock radios to a novelty radio shaped like a can of Pepsi. The key to reception is the antenna.

For most of my listening I hook up a Wellbrook loop out in the garden, just a couple of metres above the ground. I have tried various models from this company over the years and am now using the ALA1530LNP. I also have a couple of portable loops, which work great with the smaller receivers.

To help eradicate local interference and to get the noise level as close to zero as possible I use a noise cancelling signal enhancer - the MFJ-1026 which is hooked up to the loop and to a second antenna - a dipole cut for 48 metres shortwave.

Below are my Dutch MW pirates logs so far for this year. The first figure is the frequency in kHz, followed by the time which, as ever, is given using UTC/GMT (Dutch time is one hour in front). The italicised figures represent the SINPO code.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017
1621       1910       Mike 34433-44444 music programme
1629       1911       Turftrekker 45444 testing
1660       1930       Veldwachter weak signal
1619       2135       Uniek 34333-45444 music programme
1638       2136       Armada 45333-45444 testing
1615       2136       Malibu 24322-34333 music programme. Later on 1612
1625       2159       Blauwe Koe 34333 music programme
1654       2210       Noordzee 35333-45444 music programme
1635       2242       Monte Carlo 33333-45434 report for Noordzee
1622       2255       Napoleon 33333-44444 music programme

Tuesday, January 3, 2017
1630       2035       Marianne 45333-45444 music programme
1611       2044       Zwarte Boer 23322-34433 music programme
1620       2046       Moonbreaker 25322-35443 music programme



Monday, January 2, 2017
1620       0613       Bootsman 35333-45444 music programme
1620       0741       Schaduwjager 45444 report for Bootsman
1620       0814       De Friese Piraat 25222-35333 qsoing
1645       1918       Bandoeng 44444 music programme
1625       2003       Brandaris 43333-44444
1655       2213       Dikke Betta 45333-45444 qsoing
1635       2215       Ruisbreker 25222-35333 music programme
1655       2216       Digitaal 35333-45444 qsoing
1654       2220       Kristal 35333 qsoing
1656       2223       Noordzee 35333-55444 qsoing
1655       2231       Noorderzon 25222 qsoing
1630       2315       Monte Carlo 34333 qsoing
1640       2319       Noorderzon 35222-35333 report for Ruisbreker

Sunday, January 1, 2017
1647       1735       Witte Tornado 45333-45444 music programme
1620       1745       Derdeman 25222-35333 music programme
1615       1811       Moonbreaker 25222-35333 music programme
1626       1910       Capri 54434 non-stop music programme with jingles
1645       0022       Bandoeng 45444 music programme



Thursday, December 29, 2016
1620       0625       Zonnester 43433-55444 music programme
1645       1810       Casablanca (Twente) 25432 qsoing
1655       1818       Dikke Betta 45444 qsoing
1620       1820       Zwarte Arabier 45444 music programme
1647       1840       Quintus 45434-55444 music programme
1620       2100       Sapporo 25222 report for Zwarte Arabier
1620       2105       Edelkampioen 44434-55444 report for Zwarte Arabier
1620       2110       Pioneer 33333-44433 report for Zwarte Arabier
1615       2115       Twentana 35333
1638       2135       Twentana 35333 music programme
1615       2143       Noordzee 35333 qsoing
1620       2159       Noordzee 35322 qsoing

MW Free Radio