Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Revved up for the autumn

Welcome back to this MW pirate radio blog, which has been very quiet during an extended summer break that continued into early autumn. August through to the end of October are always very busy for me with work, and this year was no different, which is why I've been so quiet with the hobby. However, I now have more time again, coinciding very well with the clocks going back an hour and giving us shorter days, which is ideal for listening to Dutch pirates. 

As my location is inland and not near the coast, I am reliant on propagation to bring the signals to me, which is largely possible only during the hours of darkness, so autumn and winter are the peak listening times for me and I'm ready to roll once again.

The Wellbrook ALA1530LN loop antenna is working well in conjunction with the MFJ-1026 noise canceller (which is an essential to keep the local noise right down), and the various receivers here are primed for the next few months of pirate tuning. 

I tend to use the Lowe HF-225 most of the time, or sometimes I switch to the Kenwood R5000 for a change. These receivers, along with plenty of others, are located in my radio room, but I sometimes listen elsewhere in the house using the little Lowe HF-150 which I connect to the Wellbrook loop.

For those of you new to this blog, I keep a record of Dutch MW pirates I've heard, report news about the many stations operating in the Netherlands, and show videos I have made, and include recordings of some of the stations. You can see a whole host of videos on the YouTube channel, and here's one to give you an idea of what this is all about:




Some very sad news I missed a few months ago that I have caught up with only today is that Henk, the operator of Radio Toekomst passed away in April this year. When I first became interested in the Dutch pirates back in the early 1990s, his voice was one that came through my speakers regularly. Henk had a very distinctive tone - and always an almighty signal. I'm sure he proved something of an inspiration to the younger pirates in Friesland and beyond - he certainly made an impression on me during those early listening years. Thanks for the memories, Henk.

Now to look at some of the stations I've been listening to during the last few days:

Freq       Time       Station SINPO

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

1644       1738       Skywire 25442 testing
1657       1740       Digitaal 55444 testing
1620       1740       Mike 44444-55555 testing 
1615       1740       Gedrocht van Twente 24222-35333 music programme
1655       1758       Batavier 35333-45444 testing 
1629       1800       Paradiso weak signal qsoing with Digitaal
1645       1801       Digitaal 55444-55555 qsoing with Paradiso
1645       1814       Casablanca (Twente) 35333 music programme
1620       1819       Batavia 35333 music programme
1629       1837       Zwarte Boer 35333 testing
1611       1855       Alice 34333-44444 testing
1630       2035       Test Zender (Toulouse) 45444 asking for report
1640       2039       Rebel (Drenthe) 34333-44444 music programme
1629       2235       Spakenburg 45444 testing

Observations

  • Today seemed to be the day for testing! The evening started when I heard Skywire testing a coil antenna on 1644 kHz, and within a couple of minutes I heard Digitaal and Mike Radio testing. That pair were putting very fine signals into the UK, with the punchy modulation of Mike really standing out. The second I heard instrumental music on 1620 kHz I thought it was him. That frequency got even busier a few minutes later when Batavia signed on for a music programme which lasted some hours. When two stations are broadcasting on exactly the same channel you get a mix of the two riding the waves, often taking turns to peak - that can certainly be a challenge when trying to identity stations!
  • It was interesting to catch Paradiso on 1629 kHz this evening. Whenever I've logged him previously it has always been around 1665, and I have usually been able to detect only a carrier. Tonight, however, although the signal was weak, there was clear audio to be heard on this lower frequency.
  • On 1655 kHz today was Batavier - not to be confused with Batavia - and he was testing as well! He was trying out a new transmitter, which he was kind enough to send me a picture of:

  • Rebel was busy on 1640 kHz. He usually runs around 50 watts, and his signal shows clearly that conditions were pretty good today:


Tuesday, October 30, 2018
1620       0610       Marconist 35333 music programme
1625       1936       Marianne 45444 music programme
1615       1937       Gedrocht van Twente 24222 music programme
1657       1952       Digitaal 45444 music programme
1625       2331       Pandora 55444 music programme


Observations

  • Marconist kicked the day off with an early morning programme on 1620 kHz. I wasn't listening live and set the computer to record the signal from my radio rather than using an SDR. Luckily, I left the radio tuned to 1620 kHz, but I think I might have to upgrade the technology at this side in the coming months which means I would be able to monitor the whole pirate spectrum at a given time rather than picking one frequency and hoping there is a station on air.
  • If it's Tuesday and there's a strong signal around 1625 kHz, then it is almost certainly Marianne, and today was no exception. He was booming across the North Sea for several hours and coming in very well here.
  • Gedrocht van Twente was back on air tonight, but joined by De Vier Ineen (The Four Together). Just the same as last night they were broadcasting all evening but the signal here was not so strong.

Monday, October 29, 2018
1645       1850       Oldtimer 44444 music programme
1643       1855       Vrijevogel 22442 music programme
1629       1857       Ome Wil (Pandora 2) 35333 music programme
1615       1902       Gedrocht van Twente 25222-35333 music programme
1690       1912       Bogusman 55555 testing
1638       2015       Bluebird 55555 music programme
1638       2100       Igloo 45444 music programme
1649       2324       Monte Carlo 34333 music programme


Observations

  • There were various interesting signals around this evening. Let's start with the one on 1690 kHz which was a test transmission from the UK featuring non-stop music and later a programme from the Bogusman, who listeners on shortwave might well be familiar with. The output power at the start of the transmission was 15 watts, which was later increased to around 50 watts. We can expect more testing in the weeks ahead as changes to the antenna system are made and the earthing gradually improved. The 15 watts was crossing the North Sea tonight and reaching the Netherlands, so that bodes well for the future, when as well as an improved antenna system, there are plans for considerably higher power.
  • Bluebird was busy for most of the evening on 1638 kHz, but he also took some time out for a relay of Radio Igloo with an international programme of oldies. Hopefully this is something we will hear again. A special qsl card was issued for the broadcast, which has been distributed already - this is the one sent to my good friend Terry, which I hope he doesn't mind me reproducing here. He runs an excellent blog which he updates with station logs every day. Take a look here.

  • There were a couple of new names for me tonight, kicking off with the station on 1629 kHz. Unfortunately the modulation was quite low, but the identification (with a little help from my friend Zeewolf) seemed to be Ome Wil, although I am told he also uses the name Pandora 2. He was giving out a telephone number and was on air for some hours. Hopefully it will be a little louder next time!
  • The signal on 1615 all evening was Gedrocht van Twente en de Lachende Vagebond - another new one for me, which translates to the Monster from Twente and the Smiling Tramp. What great names. As you might imagine, the signal in Twente was solid all night, although here in England it was a little more variable but with some good peaks. This station migrated from FM a couple of months ago apparently.
  • Although not listed above, there was some testing also happening on the unusual frequency of 1607 kHz. At around 2020 UTC there were some bursts of music which sounded loud and punchy. This frequency is not great given its proximity to the legal transmissions on 1602 kHz, yet the signal on 1607 was arriving here very well. I have no idea who it was though!

MW Free Radio