Thursday, September 15, 2016

Pictures from the Pier

I've been enjoying Thursday evening listening to the radio while getting some work done. There has been all sorts of music coming out of the speakers here, courtesy of a handful of pirate broadcasters from the Netherlands.

One of the best signals tonight came from Wadloper, who was joined in the studio by Relmus, and together the Pier Clan were on 1646 for a good few hours blasting away some great music. They sent me these pictures from the studio while they were on air. You can see the antenna mast, stretching up into the night sky, together with the transmitter, variac, which controls the power supply, and the power meter.



 

When Wadloper closed down, the Witte Raaf, also from Friesland, came on the air and continued the music. His signal has had some super peaks, like most of the stations on air tonight, including Napoleon on 1629 kHz, Bluebird (1638) and Radio Alice, usually to be heard on SW but on 1620 tonight. That's the first time I've heard him on 1.6 MHz. Hopefully it won't be the last. And perhaps tonight will go on a bit longer than I expected - Barones signed on 1625 kHz a few minutes ago!

I made some recordings tonight as usual, and you can get a real flavour of how the pirates were coming through tonight.
 



Midweek breakfast surprise
The sun is rising here at about 0645 at the moment and, as I've mentioned before, it's not easy to catch pirates at this location during the daylight hours, so I had a nice surprise on Wednesday morning when at 0800 local time there was a signal coming through on 1636 kHz on the Lowe HF150 receiver. 



Reception came up quite nicely after a few minutes and the signal was perfectly listenable. I had my suspicions I was tuned in to
Radio Havanna who always uses this frequency and gets a very good signal into the UK. When I could still hear the signal at 0900 I was sure it was him. And sure enough came the ID.

I'm looking forward to the clocks going back an hour next month so that more early morning reception of the Dutch guys is possible. There are plenty of stations who don't transmit at night which means I don't get to hear them very often.

And here's what I've been listening to over the last few days:

Thursday, September 15, 2016
1620          1955         Alice 35333 music programme
1629          1956         Napoleon 33433-45444 music programme
1638          1957         Bluebird 55444 programme
1646          1957         Wadloper 45444 music programme
1646          2017         Zwarte Bizon 42433
1615          2047         Uniek 35333-45444 music programme
1645          2104         Witte Raaf 35333-45444 music programme
1625          2231         Barones 55444-55555 music programme

Wednesday, September 14, 2016
1636          0700         Havanna 25322 music programme
1620          2122         Vloedgolf 45444 qsoing
1629          2124         Noordzee 35333-45444 music programme
1613          2130         Monte Carlo 45343 qsoing
1633          2131         Barcelona 54444 qsoing
1620          2215         Mi Amigo 33333-44444 report for Noordzee
1640          2216         Professor Sickbok 55444 report for Noordzee
1625          2231         Pandora 55444-55555 music programme 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016
1620          2300         Barones 55444-55555 music programme



Monday, September 12, 2016
1660          2115         Blackbeard 35443 music programme
1615          2116         Uniek 45444 music programme
1640          2117         Veronica 35333-45444 music programme
1634          2120         Melkbus 35333 music programme
1645          2138         Monte Carlo 35343 report for Veronica
1620          2206         Monaco 34333 report for Uniek
1635          2206         Monte Carlo 35443 report for Uniek  
1626          2206         Melkbus 35333-45444 report for Uniek
1641          2219         Casablanca 55444-55555 report for Uniek
1628          2225         Melkbus 35343 qsoing
1624          2241         Jeneverstoker 25322 qsoing


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Happy memories

I've been listening to MW for the last half hour or so tonight. When I tuned in on this Sunday evening the first three stations I heard were Barones (1624), Matrix (1670) and Batavier (1615). By the strangest of coincidences these three Dutch pirates were all at our wedding nearly four years ago! 



Matrix and Batavier have now closed down for the evening, but Barones is still going strong with his usual powerful signal. 

I didn't get chance to listen too much last night, but I did catch a few stations. Polidor is one I don't hear very often so it was a change to get him coming in very well on 1644 kHz, while Blauwe Koe was on 1629 with a long programme in which plenty of alcohol seemed to be consumed! He eventually closed down at 0050 UTC, just before 0300 in the Netherlands!

Sunday, September 11, 2016
1638          1640         Bluebird 25342 music programme
1670          2018         Matrix 34343 music programme
1624          2018         Barones 55444-55555 music programme
1615          2018         Barones 24332-34443 music programme via Batavier
1615          2025         Batavier 34333-44444 music programme
1631          2027         Melkbus 23332 music programme      
1642          2033         Digitaal 44444 music programme 

Saturday, September 10, 2016
1644          2301         Polidor 44444 music programme
1648          2301         Moby Dick 44444 music programme
1629          2305         Blauwe Koe 35232-45444 music programme
1655          2310         Snowman 25322 music programme

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Early start, early finish

It's very quiet on MW on Wednesday evening as I write this - in fact, I can't find any pirate activity. So I'm listening to Radio Mi Amigo 259, run by a longtime British pirate who has broadcast offshore, on land, on FM, MW and SW and who can now be found on the internet every Wednesday and Sunday evenings.

This morning kicked off with a big signal from Zender Johan on 1620 kHz, but it was one for the early risers as he signed on at 0423 UTC, although that is a more civilised time of 0623 in the Netherlands.

There was a killer signal earlier this evening from Schaduwjager, and last night Bluebird was similarly strong. I've made some recordings in the last few days, which you can find below. It never ceases to amaze me just how well some of the Dutch pirates can be heard in England. Last night I listened to the last 30 minutes of the Bluebird broadcast on the tiny Tecsun radio with with only the in-built ferrite antenna. Sure, the signal was not as impressive as on other receivers connected to the outdoor loop antenna, but it was very listenable and had some great peaks.

The first station I heard on Tuesday was at 1645 UTC, a clear sign that autumn is on the way. The window for hearing Dutch pirates on MW here in England is becoming greater every day.

And some logs from this week:

Wednesday, September 7, 2016
1620          0423         Johan 55434 music programme
1630          1829         Oldtimer 35443 music programme
1611          1857         Poema 34333 testing
1620          1929         Schaduwjager 55544-55555 asking for report

Tuesday, September 6, 2016
1620          1645         Nova 4 25352 qsoing
1620          1647         Spanningzoeker 35343 qsoing
1636          1651         England 25342 qsoing
1632          1655         Oldtimer 25332 qsoing
1630          1708         Smokkelkapitein 25332 qsoing
1630          1845         Marianne 44444-55444 music programme
1660          1920         Blackbeard 24332-34333 testing
1624          1925         Melkbus 24322 music programme
1645          1927         Turfsteker 24222 music programme
1638          2032         Melkbus 24322 music programme
1638          2222         Snowman 24342-34443 music programme
1633          2235         Bluebird 55555 music programme

Monday, September 5, 2016
1640          1830         Veronica 35443 music programme
1650          1834         Vrijevogel 25232 music programme
1660          1839         Mike 35333 testing, later in USB (45444)
1635          2120         Bluebird 55444 music programme

Observations

  • Not so long ago the majority of Dutch pirates were using top-loaded coil antennas which give out plenty of groundwave, perfect in a country the size of the Netherlands. However, the inverted L is now becoming increasingly popular, and two stations have been testing this design in the last few days. Poema was trying it out on Wednesday evening on 1611 kHz with good results, while on Monday, MW newcomer Mike Radio was giving it a go. He also did something you don't hear on MW very often, and tried out some USB broadcasting, and with great results, too. Check out the recording below and you'll see what I mean
  • Blackbeard crept back up on to 1.6 MHz on Tuesday night, switching from 1494 to try 1660. Reception was substantially better on this clear channel and was very listenable at times. He too is using an inverted L antenna.
  • Radio England is a new name but a MW regular. 1636 is his usual frequency of choice, and he's been playing plenty of Swinging Radio England jingles on recent broadcasts, although if you listen carefully he usually drops his regular station name into his talking at some point!
And on to some recordings made during the last few days:











Sunday, September 04, 2016

Breakfast time is best (if you're awake)

It's been a very quiet Sunday evening on the pirate radio scene - on SW and on MW - largely owing to poor propagation conditions. I was looking forward to catching some of the Free Radio Service Holland on 5800 kHz tonight, but the signal never made it here (unless I was checking at the wrong time) and the band remained very quiet all day.

I'm listening to Witte Tornado on 1647 as I write this and, although the signal is perfectly listenable, it is down on usual and the noise level is higher too. 

There was plenty of activity from the Netherlands on MW this morning, although I was too busy sleeping to actually try and catch any of it. I hear that Turftrekker started things going nice and early on 1620 kHz - a change from Zonnester or Bootsman who can usually be found on the frequency at this time. And when Turftrekker closed down there was an appearance from Zonneschijn.


What interested me the most though, was some in-band activity. Shortwave pirate Mike Radio recently tried MW for the first time, and this morning he was busy on 1593 kHz. Just down the band was Sunday morning regular Zwarte Valk on 1539, while Quintus was occupying 1512. Also broadcasting in the main part of the MW band was Antonio, broadcasting on 1422. 

I must try and wake up earlier next week in an attempt to hear some of these stations.

Here are some logs from this side to keep everything up to date. All times are UTC as usual, while the receiver is the Lowe HF225 and antenna the usual outdoor Wellbrook loop pointing directly towards the Netherlands.

Sunday, September 4, 2016
1647          1822         Witte Tornado 35333 music programme
1637          1824         Melkbus 24322 music programme
1640          1825         Veronica 25322 qsoing
1615          1832         Odynn weak signal music programme
1620          1841         Weduwe 35333 music programme
1638          2054         Bluebird 45444 music programme
1640          2200         Veronica 32432 report for Witte Tordano
1614          2202         Johan 45434 report for Witte Tornado
1645          2206         Monte Carlo 25222 report for Witte Tornado

Saturday, September 3, 2016
1620          2250         Barones 55444 music programme
1648          2252         Moby Dick 45333-45444 music programme
1654          2255         Snowman 33333 music programme
1630          2256         Noorderzon 24332-35333 music programme
1636          2258         Barones 35333 live relay
1636          2328         Radio England (Romax) 35333-45434
1625          2338         Pandora 55444 music programme

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

Observations

  • 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

Observations

  • 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

Observations

  • 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

MW Free Radio