Saturday, October 21, 2017

Don't forget about Halloween

I've been posting about the Global HF Weekend and sending e-mails about it, but don't forget that Halloween is the big weekend in North American pirate radio. In Europe, Halloween is pretty much just another weekend, but over here, you can expect a few Halloween-only stations to appear + holiday-themed broadcasts from a number of others.

In past years, during the prime times (about 2100-0100 UTC), we've had as many as six stations on the air at the same time. Of course, being prepared for Halloween means being there and listening. But if you have the equipment available, it also means having as many receivers as possible ready to tune in pirates and as many recording devices as possible ready to save the audio.

I currently only have one antenna up, so preparing for Halloween means that I need to set up another one, whether something specific or just a random wire so that I can tune in and record strong signals on a secondary receiver. It also means that I need to have another computer and the audio cable ready to record. I'd like to be capable of recording on three frequencies at once, but both of my 10-year-old laptops recently died and I have to ask myself if it's worth it to record onto cassette and then convert that audio to MP3 files later.

Of course, this is where the spectrum-grabbing capabilities of SDRs are truly useful--and I might just need to revisit it (imagine that). If you have an SDR and can save a chunk of the spectrum, this is the time to do it. And if you live in Europe and want to hear some North American pirates, the SDRs are useful for picking out weak bits of audio on fade-ups from a few different stations that might not be fading in for long.

Speaking of Europe and DXing pirates, given the erratic nature of pirate radio in North America, it might not be worth it for many listeners in Europe to stay up well past midnight listening, but if you want to try it, Halloween is your best bet. A few guys (unfortunately, just a few) from Europe regularly hear North American pirates and post on the HF Underground (I won't mention names in case they don't want the publicity, but some of the current active loggers are from Germany, Belgium, Italy, and the Ukraine and their reports are greatly appreciated), so signals should be audible across Europe on a regular basis. The variable here is propagation and the nemesis is local noise levels from computers, lights, signs, transformers, etc. A noisy environment can hinder or eliminate your chances of hearing some real DX.

I wanted to just write a little note about we shouldn't forget about Halloween, but this is turning into a full-out article! Sorry to babble on! Have a great weekend and, oh, Halloween-themed pirate radio tends to start a few weeks before Halloween (so that ops can get extra mileage out of their programs and because propagation varies). Just last night, Halloween Radio Shortwave was logged.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The technological message in a bottle

I've never been into the "newest, fastest, bestest" technology. I know that a lot of shortwave fans, if not of the present, then certainly the past, were into the hobby because of their desire to experience the cutting edge. That's not me.

My connection (or one of them) with shortwave--especially pirate radio and low-power private stations--has been more low brow.

I've been fascinated with things like messages in bottles and old graffiti.

To me, there's something wonderfully personally impersonal about a message in a bottle. Although it's been tossed out into the unknown, as impersonal as can be, it's meant for one person: who ever finds it.

In the case of graffiti, at the moment at least, I'm not too interested in the high school hood who tags every trashcan, bridge overpass, and bathroom stall, but I do stop any time I see initials carved in stone from more than a hundred years ago, such as from the bored Civil War soldiers who held the lookout above strategic Harpers Ferry (now West Virginia) or those who carved into Jefferson's Rock on the other end of the town.

Other mysterious events that some might include in these realms are the TJIPETIR tiles that have been floating out from a World War I-era ship wreck near Sicily, ocean playset Legos that have washed ashore in the British Isles from another ship wreck, and, of course, the Toynbee Tiles.

I found a mylar balloon in the yard about two weeks ago and I checked it--just to be sure that no note was attached designating it as some kid's weekend pen pal project.

You never know.

These parallels and metaphors are all leading somewhere. I found a link to a great story of an 8-year-old girl who tossed a message in a bottle into the ocean in 1989. She completely forgot about the bottle, moved away, and, about 37 years later, the bottle was discovered and most of the note was still intact.

Here's the link to the story.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Catch-All Post

(Probably more of a catch-some post because I'm sure to forget some things.)

I've been starting to see some buzz and get some e-mails about the Global HF Weekend. Thanks for the contacts. As I've mentioned, I'll post as much here as I hear on the radio and find out about, but I think that other people will be doing so as well. I've already heard from Terry's Hobby Radio Blog. He posted a copy of the e-mail that I sent out & said "I will also do what I can to note any interesting inter-continental DX as I hear it on this Blog." Awesome! I'm sure he'll find out some stuff that I don't, so be sure to check his blog before and during the weekend.

Thomas from the SWLing Post blog posted the e-mail as well, and the HB blog got a big jump in hits over the past day, so that's a good sign that people will be listening.

Thanks to Cool AM, I received a radio promo version of the e-mail that I sent out. I don't have a site to upload MP3 files to right now, but if you ask me, I'll send it to you. BTW, the link goes to the Cool AM jingle page, where many jingles that he produced for different stations are located.

Yesterday, an unidentified station on 6880 kHz from North America broadcast relays of numerous old shortwave pirate programs, including WKND, Radio Azteca, Radio Clandestine, Radio Free Whatever, WREC, and possibly others. I tuned in late but I did hear WKND. Good stuff!

Now that my dishwasher is done pumping out tremendous amounts of RFI, I might just check the radio.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


I've started contacting everyone that I can think of about the Global HF Weekend. It's a really tedious process that involves tracking down e-mail addresses and trying to get my e-mail program to work properly. Next, I need to post info on a few radio hobby pages. Thanks and good night!

Next Global HF Weekend: November 3-5, 2017

Every time I try to block copy into this blogging program, different Word styles get copied along with it and the text color is black on dark gray, black on black, etc., so I'm starting over with a fresh screen this time.

It's almost time for the next Global HF Weekend, where pirates are trying to get signals to people far away and DXers are trying to hear pirates from other parts of the world. This happens to some extent at any time, but there's a better chance of success if there's an event and it gets publicized. I've always enjoyed hearing pirates from around the world, so this is something that I try to publicize.

If you haven't caught on by now, the weekends are always the first weekend of April and the first weekend of November. This works out well because it's kind of the beginning and end of DX season, and it's generally just after Halloween and April Fool's Day. The latter isn't a big pirating holiday, but it is a good way to remember the broadcasts.

When Harri Kujala started organizing these broadcasts around 2010, the propagation was better and the goal was to get pirates to try frequencies on 19 meters and above, primarily either 19 or 13 meters, but stations also had success on 25 and 31. These days, it seems that the max is probably about 19 meters, with 25 and 31 being good options (but not many pirates use those frequencies).

During the last Global HF Weekend, a few North American pirates put together a test for SWLs who were on a DXpedition in New Zealand--and four stations were reported there. We've also had some luck in North America with European stations being heard here.

As always, I'll post any schedules that I receive here (but I won't post station names on advance schedules). So if any stations want to send schedules to me, I'll do what I can to post them and, likewise, if any listeners are planning DXpeditions, I'll be happy to post about them here, too. Thanks to all, we'll hopefully have a good weekend.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

10/12/17 Loggings

Via Twente webreceiver in The Netherlands
1620, 10/12, 2030-2042* Lots of talk in Dutch and schlager

1629, 10/12, 1910+ The Police "De Do Do Do," Status Quo "Whatever You Want"  Excellent signal

1655, 10/12, 2021+ DJ in Dutch, mentioned Boney M. Think he also said greetings to Theresa & hi to David.

Laser Hot Hits: 6220, 10/12, 1850+ Music by The Smiths, ELO, & Uriah Heap. DJ mentioned that it's Sunday night, so it's a prerecorded show that's being repeated. Excellent signal. DJ talking about how there's nothing to watch on TV on Friday nights, then about preview channels, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, & Prison Break.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Radio Compania Worldwide (RCW)

Last fall, I heard Radio Pirana International for the first time since 1992. On Tuesday evening, Chris Smolinski logged Lupo Radio, which claims a location in Argentina. Digging around a bit more, I found some links to Radio Compania Worldwide (RCW), which claims a location in Chile. In the past couple of years, I've seen that a station or two from Brazil has tested (such as Radio Cidade Oldies). It looks like we might be at the beginning of a pirate radio revival in South America.

Chris speculated that some of the weak carriers that we hear around 43 meters might be South American pirates and I tend to agree. Chances are good that some of the carriers are also North American pirates testing homebrew equipment, too. For that matter, I've seen some people test low-power equipment into an inadequate antenna (such as a wire across the floor), not expecting it to get out anywhere, but I wouldn't surprised if a few people could hear the weak carrier from it.

Enough speculating about the sources of weak carriers on 43m and back to the topic at hand: South American pirate radio . . . RCW, in particular.

Their Twitter feed is here (English translation) 
Here's a brief log on YouTube with classical music
And here's a longer recording (but with weaker reception) on 6925 kHz from Brazil