Shortwave Pirate Radio 2016 – A Year In Review

Overall, 2016 was another great year for shortwave pirate radio listeners. If you’re interested in hearing pirates, the best ways to keep up to date on what is being heard is via the HFUnderground.com message board, as well as the real time Ryver chat. Rather than finding out about a transmission after it is over, you can tune in while it is still on the air.

And of course, your loggings and other posts on the HF Underground are most welcome! This is how we find out what stations are being heard. I’m looking forward to see what new and interesting pirate radio programming 2017 brings us. Happy DX!

To gauge shortwave pirate radio activity in 2016, I analyzed the Shortwave Pirate loggings forum of the HF Underground (http://www.hfunderground.com). A computer script parsed the message thread titles, as well as the timestamps of the messages. This information was used to produce some statistics about the level of pirate radio activity. Of course, as Mark Twain has written: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Still, let’s see what we can learn.

There were 13,860 messages posted to 2,398 unique threads, compared to 13,944 messages posted to 2,183 unique threads in 2015. Activity levels are essentially flat, but still at historically high levels. Back in the 1990s, it was not uncommon for an entire month to go by with only a handful of pirate stations logged. If you want to know when the “golden age” of shortwave pirate radio was, I would say it is right now.

Ideally, each thread represents an individual pirate station transmission. Also ideally, each message posted to a thread represents one logging. In reality, there is some error involved.

First, we can look at the transmission mode used:
AM 1,083
USB 1,139
LSB 73
CW 18
FM 17
UNKNOWN 62 (no mention of the mode in the posting)

USB barely beat out AM this year. If we assume (as likely) that the cases where no mode was reported were one of these, AM and USB account for virtually all of the transmissions. Cold Country Canada is a major user of LSB, along with Peskie Party Radio.

Next, we can see how much activity there is for each day of the week:

Sunday 512 (21%)
Monday 237 (10%)
Tuesday 196 (8%)
Wednesday 192 (8%)
Thursday 240 (10%)
Friday 379 (16%)
Saturday 642 (27%)

The percentages for each day in 2016 are virtually unchanged from 2015. As one might expect, Saturday and Sunday are the big winners, with Friday in third place. But don’t give up on weekday listening! Over a third of all transmissions are on a Monday through Thursday.

We can also look at the number of logging threads per month, to gauge activity:

This chart clearly shows the typical summer slump in pirate radio activity, presumably caused by high static levels, and people doing other things than listening to the radio (or transmitting on the radio). There was a bump in July, however.

Here’s a graph showing the number of broadcasts per day of the year that were logged, please click on the image to see it full sized:

Holidays are, as usual, a great opportunity to hear pirate stations.

We might be interested in knowing the best time of the day to try to hear a pirate station. Here’s a plot of the start times of the logged broadcasts, binned
by UTC hour of the day:

As you might expect, evening Eastern Time is the best, roughly 2300-0200 UTC, with a broader peak of lower activity from roughly 2000-0500 UTC. There is some activity in the morning to afternoon time period, and very little during the wee hours.

The next question is where to tune. As one might expect, 6925 kHz was the clear winner:

3375 kHz: 4
3387 kHz: 1
3440 kHz: 3
3495 kHz: 2
4015 kHz: 1
4020 kHz: 5
4025 kHz: 2
4030 kHz: 1
4060 kHz: 1
4070 kHz: 2
4865 kHz: 1
4875 kHz: 1
4920 kHz: 1
5110 kHz: 2
5120 kHz: 3
5125 kHz: 1
5150 kHz: 77
5790 kHz: 1
6030 kHz: 1
6150 kHz: 33
6170 kHz: 5
6200 kHz: 1
6205 kHz: 3
6210 kHz: 7
6240 kHz: 2
6275 kHz: 2
6282 kHz: 2
6295 kHz: 1
6340 kHz: 2
6375 kHz: 1
6770 kHz: 109
6780 kHz: 4
6850 kHz: 10
6873 kHz: 13
6874 kHz: 1
6875 kHz: 13
6876 kHz: 23
6880 kHz: 3
6885 kHz: 3
6888 kHz: 1
6899 kHz: 1
6900 kHz: 21
6905 kHz: 1
6910 kHz: 2
6914 kHz: 1
6915 kHz: 2
6919 kHz: 1
6920 kHz: 5
6922 kHz: 1
6923 kHz: 3
6924 kHz: 46
6925 kHz: 808
6926 kHz: 17
6927 kHz: 7
6928 kHz: 1
6929 kHz: 16
6930 kHz: 245
6931 kHz: 1
6932 kHz: 8
6933 kHz: 5
6935 kHz: 201
6936 kHz: 1
6937 kHz: 4
6939 kHz: 2
6940 kHz: 59
6941 kHz: 1
6943 kHz: 2
6945 kHz: 37
6946 kHz: 2
6949 kHz: 22
6950 kHz: 207
6951 kHz: 10
6952 kHz: 6
6954 kHz: 6
6955 kHz: 101
6956 kHz: 12
6957 kHz: 2
6958 kHz: 2
6959 kHz: 1
6960 kHz: 22
6961 kHz: 1
6963 kHz: 1
6964 kHz: 3
6965 kHz: 8
6967 kHz: 1
6969 kHz: 28
6970 kHz: 3
6974 kHz: 1
6975 kHz: 7
6976 kHz: 15
6977 kHz: 2
6980 kHz: 1
6995 kHz: 1
7335 kHz: 1
7405 kHz: 2
7410 kHz: 2
7515 kHz: 1
7519 kHz: 1
7520 kHz: 1
7530 kHz: 5
7590 kHz: 1
7595 kHz: 1
7610 kHz: 26
7940 kHz: 1
8020 kHz: 1
8040 kHz: 7
8055 kHz: 6
8060 kHz: 9
8065 kHz: 3
8070 kHz: 9
8485 kHz: 1
11640 kHz: 1
12286 kHz: 1
13855 kHz: 1
15050 kHz: 1
15100 kHz: 1
25925 kHz: 1

6925, along with 6924 and 6926 kHz, account for about 36% of logged transmissions. Last year they accounted for 40% and the year before that 50%, so there has been some movement to other frequencies. Also worth considering is that Old Time Radio’s use of 6770 kHz accounts for about 5% of the broadcast threads, and Relay Station 5150 on, curiously enough 5150 kHz. Still, virtually all activity occurs within the 43 meter band, 6850-7000 kHz.

There has been some movement to the lower bands, 3, 4, and 5 MHz, due to 43 meters “going long” and being unusable for short distance (NVIS) reception at night. Whether or not this trend will continue remains to be seen. It’s a great band for nighttime use, but not as many listeners check it out, or have decent antennas for 90 meters.

The most popular station logged is of course “UNID”, short for unidentified. In the world of shortwave pirate radio, there’s a number of transmissions where no ID is given. There’s also cases where no ID could be heard, due to poor conditions. This year, 888 out of 2,398 threads were UNID, or about 37 percent, the same percentage as last year. For 2014, there were 651 threads with 2,788 loggings where no station ID was given – that’s almost 33 percent of the threads.

Here’s the complete list of all stations with two or more logging threads:
UNID (888)
Moonlight Radio (171)
Old Time Radio (107)
Amphetamine Radio (92)
PeeWee Radio (84)
RELAY STATION 5150 (66)
Liquid Radio (61)
Radio Free Whatever (48)
Radio Azteca (47)
Radio Illuminati (40)
Radio Zed (39)
Captain Morgan (32)
Wolverine Radio (30)
XLR8 (30)
Channel Z (27)
WJD (27)
Cold Country Canada (24)
The Crystal Ship (19)
WREC (18)
Pirate Radio Boston (16)
Insane Radio (14)
XFM (13)
Boombox Radio (13)
Rave On Radio (12)
Radio Ga Ga (12)
Fab Four Radio Show (12)
WAZU (11)
YHWH (11)
Burn It Down Radio (11)
Skippy Radio (11)
Cool AM (10)
Pseudo Radio (9)
KCPR (9)
Red Beacon Radio (9)
CWCW (8)
Northwoods Radio (7)
Radio Free Euphoria (7)
Sousa Station (7)
WORK (7)
KIPM (6)
Radio True North (6)
Undercover Radio (6)
Radio Paisano (6)
Happy Hanukkah Radio (6)
Radio Fusion Radio (6)
WEEK (6)
X 2 (6)
Renegade Radio (5)
Blue Ocean Radio (5)
Toynbee Radio (5)
Black Cat Radio (5)
Partial India Radio (5)
WJFK (5)
Drunken DJ Radio (5)
The Bangalore Poacher (5)
Canadian Radio After Dark (5)
Ghost Shortwave (5)
BBC Pirate Radio (5)
Voice of Uncle Don (5)
The Fox (5)
Sycko Radio (5)
WEAK (4)
Radio Trump (4)
Howdy Doody Radio (4)
How Sweet It Is Radio (4)
Newport Pirate Radio (4)
Radio Free Ramones (4)
Doctor Detroit (4)
WBOG (3)
WHYP (3)
WEAK Radio (3)
XEROX (3)
Vo Pancho Villa (3)
The yodeler (3)
Network 51 (3)
CPRRS (3)
Brockett 99 (3)
Voice Of Greece (3)
Celtic Music Radio (3)
SEKIO Radio (3)
Nuttin’ On Shortwave (3)
Electric Circus Shortwave (3)
WGAY (3)
Old Classic Radio Plays (3)
Radio AV (3)
KFBN Fly By Night Radio (3)
KMUD (2)
WMPR (2)
Radio Jamba International (2)
Radio Free Mars Radio (2)
Radio First Termer (2)
WHJR (2)
WFUQ (2)
LTO Radio (2)
WLIS (2)
Pumpkin Patch Radio (2)
WAHR (2)
Witch City Radio (2)
Radio Halloween (2)
Amelia Earhart Comms (2)
COOLAM (2)
CKUT Relay (2)
KVR (2)
WPIG (2)
Girl Scout Radio (2)
Up Against The Wall Radio (2)
Radio Enterhaken (2)
KROW (2)
WYDX (2)
The Voice of Shortwave Radio (2)
The Gas Man Show (2)
Radio Metallica Worldwide (2)
No Coast Pirate Radio (2)
Bat Country Radio (2)
Radio Three (2)
Sonic Death Shortwave (2)
Cosmic Dust Shortwave (2)
RFF Radio (2)
Radio Free Do Whatever (2)

This gives us a guide as to which stations were most active in 2016.

Another thing we can look at are the total number of posts in all logging threads for each station, as a rough guide to how many listeners heard a particular station. There’s duplication of course, as the same listener likely reported several broadcasts for each station:
Moonlight Radio (917)
PeeWee Radio (627)
Amphetamine Radio (605)
Wolverine Radio (497)
Radio Free Whatever (442)
RELAY STATION 5150 (317)
Old Time Radio (315)
XLR8 (286)
Radio Azteca (281)
Liquid Radio (259)
WJD (259)
Radio Illuminati (249)
The Crystal Ship (210)
XFM (194)
Radio Zed (191)
Burn It Down Radio (158)
Channel Z (154)
Captain Morgan (153)
Cold Country Canada (134)
Insane Radio (116)
Skippy Radio (116)
WREC (109)
Boombox Radio (104)
Radio Ga Ga (93)
Pirate Radio Boston (91)
Drunken DJ Radio (88)
Northwoods Radio (81)
Fab Four Radio Show (77)
WEEK (69)
Undercover Radio (64)
WAZU (63)
Radio True North (61)
Cool AM (61)
Blue Ocean Radio (58)
Renegade Radio (55)
Red Beacon Radio (52)
Black Cat Radio (51)
CWCW (51)
Ghost Shortwave (48)
KIPM (47)
Rave On Radio (47)
The Fox (46)
Partial India Radio (45)
Voice of Uncle Don (44)
Radio Free Ramones (38)
Sousa Station (37)
Witch City Radio (36)
YHWH (36)
KCPR (35)
Canadian Radio After Dark (35)
Radio Paisano (34)
Radio Trump (33)
WORK (33)
X 2 (32)
Old Classic Radio Plays (32)
Happy Hanukkah Radio (31)
Doctor Detroit (31)
Radio Free Euphoria (30)
Brockett 99 (30)
WFUQ (29)
Radio Fusion Radio (29)
KMUD (28)
WBOG (28)
WGAY (28)
WHYP (26)
XEROX (26)
Pseudo Radio (26)
SEKIO Radio (26)
Bat Country Radio (26)
WEAK (25)
Newport Pirate Radio (24)
How Sweet It Is Radio (23)
Radio Free Mars Radio (22)
WJFK (22)
KFBN Fly By Night Radio (22)
LTO Radio (21)
Howdy Doody Radio (21)
Sycko Radio (21)
Nuttin’ On Shortwave (20)
BBC Pirate Radio (18)
Electric Circus Shortwave (18)
WEAK Radio (16)
The Bangalore Poacher (16)
COOLAM (16)
Girl Scout Radio (16)
CPRRS (16)
Radio Enterhaken (16)
The Gas Man Show (16)
Up Against The Wall Radio (15)
KROW (15)
No Coast Pirate Radio (15)
Amelia Earhart Comms (14)
The yodeler (14)
WHJR (13)
Radio AV (13)
Toynbee Radio (12)
CKUT Relay (12)
Network 51 (12)
Radio Three (12)
Cosmic Dust Shortwave (12)
WMPR (10)
Radio First Termer (10)
Vo Pancho Villa (10)
Pumpkin Patch Radio (10)
Radio Halloween (10)
The Voice of Shortwave Radio (10)
Radio Metallica Worldwide (10)
Voice Of Greece (9)
Radio Jamba International (8)
RFF Radio (7)
WLIS (6)
KVR (6)
WPIG (6)
WYDX (6)
WAHR (5)
Radio Free Do Whatever (5)
Celtic Music Radio (4)
Sonic Death Shortwave (4)

Next we can calculate the ratio of logging messages per thread, to gauge, in general, how many people reported hearing each station:

Moonlight Radio 917 171 5.36257
PeeWee Radio 627 84 7.46429
Amphetamine Radio 605 92 6.57609
Wolverine Radio 497 30 16.5667
Radio Free Whatever 442 48 9.20833
RELAY STATION 5150 317 66 4.80303
Old Time Radio 315 107 2.94393
XLR8 286 30 9.53333
Radio Azteca 281 47 5.97872
Liquid Radio 259 61 4.2459
WJD 259 27 9.59259
Radio Illuminati 249 40 6.225
The Crystal Ship 210 19 11.0526
XFM 194 13 14.9231
Radio Zed 191 39 4.89744
Burn It Down Radio 158 11 14.3636
Channel Z 154 27 5.7037
Captain Morgan 153 32 4.78125
Cold Country Canada 134 24 5.58333
Insane Radio 116 14 8.28571
Skippy Radio 116 11 10.5455
WREC 109 18 6.05556
Boombox Radio 104 13 8
Radio Ga Ga 93 12 7.75
Pirate Radio Boston 91 16 5.6875
Drunken DJ Radio 88 5 17.6
Northwoods Radio 81 7 11.5714
Fab Four Radio Show 77 12 6.41667
WEEK 69 6 11.5
Undercover Radio 64 6 10.6667
WAZU 63 11 5.72727
Radio True North 61 6 10.1667
Cool AM 61 10 6.1
Blue Ocean Radio 58 5 11.6
Renegade Radio 55 5 11
Red Beacon Radio 52 9 5.77778
Black Cat Radio 51 5 10.2
CWCW 51 8 6.375
Ghost Shortwave 48 5 9.6
KIPM 47 6 7.83333
Rave On Radio 47 12 3.91667
The Fox 46 5 9.2
Partial India Radio 45 5 9
Voice of Uncle Don 44 5 8.8
Radio Free Ramones 38 4 9.5
Sousa Station 37 7 5.28571
Witch City Radio 36 2 18
YHWH 36 11 3.27273
KCPR 35 9 3.88889
Canadian Radio After Dark 35 5 7
Radio Paisano 34 6 5.66667
Radio Trump 33 4 8.25
WORK 33 7 4.71429
X 2 32 6 5.33333
Old Classic Radio Plays 32 3 10.6667
Happy Hanukkah Radio 31 6 5.16667
Doctor Detroit 31 4 7.75
Radio Free Euphoria 30 7 4.28571
Brockett 99 30 3 10
WFUQ 29 2 14.5
Radio Fusion Radio 29 6 4.83333
KMUD 28 2 14
WBOG 28 3 9.33333
WGAY 28 3 9.33333
WHYP 26 3 8.66667
XEROX 26 3 8.66667
Pseudo Radio 26 9 2.88889
SEKIO Radio 26 3 8.66667
Bat Country Radio 26 2 13
WEAK 25 4 6.25
Newport Pirate Radio 24 4 6
How Sweet It Is Radio 23 4 5.75
Radio Free Mars Radio 22 2 11
WJFK 22 5 4.4
KFBN Fly By Night Radio 22 3 7.33333
LTO Radio 21 2 10.5
Howdy Doody Radio 21 4 5.25
Sycko Radio 21 5 4.2
Giles Letourneau Relay 21 1 21
Nuttin' On Shortwave 20 3 6.66667
Voice of Helium 19 1 19
BBC Pirate Radio 18 5 3.6
Electric Circus Shortwave 18 3 6
WEAK Radio 16 3 5.33333
Radio Casablanca 16 1 16
The Bangalore Poacher 16 5 3.2
Chairman Of The Board Radio 16 1 16
COOLAM 16 2 8
Girl Scout Radio 16 2 8
CPRRS 16 3 5.33333
Radio Enterhaken 16 2 8
The Gas Man Show 16 2 8
Up Against The Wall Radio 15 2 7.5
KROW 15 2 7.5
Brownie Radio 15 1 15
No Coast Pirate Radio 15 2 7.5
Amelia Earhart Comms 14 2 7
The yodeler 14 3 4.66667
Kid From Brooklyn 14 1 14
WHJR 13 2 6.5
Radio AV 13 3 4.33333
Toynbee Radio 12 5 2.4
Make Your Liver Quiver Radio 12 1 12
CKUT Relay 12 2 6
Network 51 12 3 4
Radio Three 12 2 6
Cosmic Dust Shortwave 12 2 6
Voice of Portugal 12 1 12
MAC Shortwave 11 1 11
Hit Parade Radio 11 1 11
Left Lane Radio 11 1 11
Mouth of Mohammed 11 1 11
WGXC 11 1 11
WNPP 11 1 11
Radio Free Furry 11 1 11
Euro Temptations Shortwave 11 1 11
WMPR 10 2 5
Kracker Radio 10 1 10
Radio First Termer 10 2 5
Vo Pancho Villa 10 3 3.33333
Radio Cinco De Mayo 10 1 10
Pumpkin Patch Radio 10 2 5
Radio Halloween 10 2 5
The Voice of Shortwave Radio 10 2 5
Radio Metallica Worldwide 10 2 5
Urea Radio 10 1 10
Cradle Rock Radio 10 1 10
Spy Numbers Relay 10 1 10
Voice Of Greece 9 3 3
KULP 9 1 9
Radio Jamba International 8 2 4
Peskie Party Radio 8 1 8
Radio Merlin International Relay 8 1 8
WTKY 8 1 8
Chamber Pot Radio 7 1 7
Fruitcake Station 7 1 7
WCTU 7 1 7
RFF Radio 7 2 3.5
Radio Morania 6 1 6
WLIS 6 2 3
Artem Radio 6 1 6
KVR 6 2 3
WPIG 6 2 3
WYDX 6 2 3
WRIR Relay 6 1 6
Auld Lang Syne Radio 6 1 6
Radio KEN 5 1 5
Germany Calling 5 1 5
KAMP 5 1 5
WAHR 5 2 2.5
IBC Radio 5 1 5
Old Turkey Radio 5 1 5
KDST 5 1 5
Radio Free Do Whatever 5 2 2.5
WBCQ Relay 5 1 5
WGWR 4 1 4
WRRI 4 1 4
Native Radio 4 1 4
Big Johnson Radio 4 1 4
Celtic Music Radio 4 3 1.33333
Lee County Radio 4 1 4
Ride of the Valkries 4 1 4
Sonic Death Shortwave 4 2 2
Union City Radio 4 1 4
Radio Saxophone 4 1 4
Fake UVB33 Numbers 4 1 4
International Free Radio Service 4 1 4
Radio Clandestine 3 1 3
WOLF 3 1 3
Hobart Radio 3 1 3
X 1 3 1 3
Radio Indiana 3 1 3
Potato Pirate 3 1 3
Bird Calls 3 1 3
He Man Radio 3 1 3
Pirate Radio Wilson 3 1 3
Mushroom Radio 2 1 2
Radio Gallifrey Intergalactic 2 1 2
Rcok and Roll Radio 2 1 2
Son of the Lincolnshire Poacher 2 1 2
NRUI 2 1 2
WGOD 2 1 2
Brother Stair Numbers 2 1 2
Indira Calling 1 1 1
Vivian Girls Radio 1 1 1
Friday Night Radio 1 1 1
Radio Tambour 1 1 1
Echo Radio 1 1 1
Radio Airplane 1 1 1
Soft Rock Radio Relay 1 1 1
Not For FCC Airplay Radio 1 1 1

For each station, the first number is the total number of reports, the second is the number of threads, the third is the ratio. One risk here is that the same transmission could be logged in two, or even more, threads, which would reduce this ratio. This gives us a very rough estimate of how well heard, or reported, anyway, each station is.

We can then sort these by that ratio:
21,Giles Letourneau Relay
19,Voice of Helium
18,Witch City Radio
17.6,Drunken DJ Radio
16.5667,Wolverine Radio
16,Radio Casablanca
16,Chairman Of The Board Radio
15,Brownie Radio
14.9231,XFM
14.5,WFUQ
14.3636,Burn It Down Radio
14,KMUD
14,Kid From Brooklyn
13,Bat Country Radio
12,Make Your Liver Quiver Radio
12,Voice of Portugal
11.6,Blue Ocean Radio
11.5714,Northwoods Radio
11.5,WEEK
11.0526,The Crystal Ship
11,Renegade Radio
11,MAC Shortwave
11,Radio Free Mars Radio
11,Hit Parade Radio
11,Left Lane Radio
11,Mouth of Mohammed
11,WGXC
11,WNPP
11,Radio Free Furry
11,Euro Temptations Shortwave
10.6667,Undercover Radio
10.6667,Old Classic Radio Plays
10.5455,Skippy Radio
10.5,LTO Radio
10.2,Black Cat Radio
10.1667,Radio True North
10,Kracker Radio
10,Radio Cinco De Mayo
10,Brockett 99
10,Urea Radio
10,Cradle Rock Radio
10,Spy Numbers Relay
9.6,Ghost Shortwave
9.59259,WJD
9.53333,XLR8
9.5,Radio Free Ramones
9.33333,WBOG
9.33333,WGAY
9.20833,Radio Free Whatever
9.2,The Fox
9,Partial India Radio
9,KULP
8.8,Voice of Uncle Don
8.66667,WHYP
8.66667,XEROX
8.66667,SEKIO Radio
8.28571,Insane Radio
8.25,Radio Trump
8,Boombox Radio
8,COOLAM
8,Peskie Party Radio
8,Girl Scout Radio
8,Radio Enterhaken
8,The Gas Man Show
8,Radio Merlin International Relay
8,WTKY
7.83333,KIPM
7.75,Radio Ga Ga
7.75,Doctor Detroit
7.5,Up Against The Wall Radio
7.5,KROW
7.5,No Coast Pirate Radio
7.46429,PeeWee Radio
7.33333,KFBN Fly By Night Radio
7,Chamber Pot Radio
7,Fruitcake Station
7,Amelia Earhart Comms
7,Canadian Radio After Dark
7,WCTU
6.66667,Nuttin’ On Shortwave
6.57609,Amphetamine Radio
6.5,WHJR
6.41667,Fab Four Radio Show
6.375,CWCW
6.25,WEAK
6.225,Radio Illuminati
6.1,Cool AM
6.05556,WREC
6,Radio Morania
6,Artem Radio
6,CKUT Relay
6,Newport Pirate Radio
6,Electric Circus Shortwave
6,Radio Three
6,Cosmic Dust Shortwave
6,WRIR Relay
6,Auld Lang Syne Radio
5.97872,Radio Azteca
5.77778,Red Beacon Radio
5.75,How Sweet It Is Radio
5.72727,WAZU
5.7037,Channel Z
5.6875,Pirate Radio Boston
5.66667,Radio Paisano
5.58333,Cold Country Canada
5.36257,Moonlight Radio
5.33333,WEAK Radio
5.33333,CPRRS
5.33333,X 2
5.28571,Sousa Station
5.25,Howdy Doody Radio
5.16667,Happy Hanukkah Radio
5,WMPR
5,Radio KEN
5,Germany Calling
5,Radio First Termer
5,KAMP
5,Pumpkin Patch Radio
5,Radio Halloween
5,IBC Radio
5,The Voice of Shortwave Radio
5,Radio Metallica Worldwide
5,Old Turkey Radio
5,KDST
5,WBCQ Relay
4.89744,Radio Zed
4.83333,Radio Fusion Radio
4.80303,RELAY STATION 5150
4.78125,Captain Morgan
4.71429,WORK
4.66667,The yodeler
4.4,WJFK
4.33333,Radio AV
4.28571,Radio Free Euphoria
4.2459,Liquid Radio
4.2,Sycko Radio
4,Radio Jamba International
4,WGWR
4,WRRI
4,Network 51
4,Native Radio
4,Big Johnson Radio
4,Lee County Radio
4,Ride of the Valkries
4,Union City Radio
4,Radio Saxophone
4,Fake UVB33 Numbers
4,International Free Radio Service
3.91667,Rave On Radio
3.88889,KCPR
3.6,BBC Pirate Radio
3.5,RFF Radio
3.33333,Vo Pancho Villa
3.27273,YHWH
3.2,The Bangalore Poacher
3,Radio Clandestine
3,WOLF
3,WLIS
3,KVR
3,Hobart Radio
3,WPIG
3,WYDX
3,Voice Of Greece
3,X 1
3,Radio Indiana
3,Potato Pirate
3,Bird Calls
3,He Man Radio
3,Pirate Radio Wilson
2.94393,Old Time Radio
2.88889,Pseudo Radio
2.5,WAHR
2.5,Radio Free Do Whatever
2.4,Toynbee Radio
2,Mushroom Radio
2,Radio Gallifrey Intergalactic
2,Rcok and Roll Radio
2,Son of the Lincolnshire Poacher
2,NRUI
2,Sonic Death Shortwave
2,WGOD
2,Brother Stair Numbers
1.33333,Celtic Music Radio
1,Indira Calling
1,Vivian Girls Radio
1,Friday Night Radio
1,Radio Tambour
1,Echo Radio
1,Radio Airplane
1,Soft Rock Radio Relay
1,Not For FCC Airplay Radio

Average Ratio 6.77086

Ferrite Core 1, RFI 0

Once again, a giant ferrite toroid coil saves the day. I have a random wire antenna (about 100 foot long) running into the basement workshop, fed with RG-6 coax (the coax shield is left floating at the antenna end). Reception was horrible, I could barely hear anything, even SWBC stations. I considered that maybe it wasn’t a lack of signal problem so much a signal to noise problem, so I located a large ferrite toroid coil from the junkbox, wrapped as many turns of coax around it as I could (about a dozen), and placed that in series with the incoming coax, just before the radio. Voila, the noise/hash was gone. The choke helps to reduce RFI flowing as currents on the shield of the coax.

The ferrite core was a Fair-Rite 5943003801, 61 mm toroid, type 43 ferrite. I buy mine from Mouser for about $4 each: http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Fair-Rite/5943003801

Here’s a photo showing how the coax is wrapped around the toroid core:

And here are some before and after video recordings. The gap about half way through each is when I disconnected the incoming coax to the radio, and inserted the choke, and then reconnected the coax:

Summary of Halloween 2016 Shortwave Pirate Radio Activity in North America

After a slow start, Halloween 2016 pirate radio activity over the extended weekend picked up, especially Sunday and Monday evening. At one point on Monday there were at least four stations on at the same time.

I counted 68 broadcasts that were logged, and have summarized them below in chronological order, each linked to the corresponding logging thread on the HFUnderground.com shortwave pirate radio message forum. Hopefully I haven’t made any typos.

A big thanks to all the stations that gave us listeners lots of programs to listen to!

Here’s the list:

Friday, October 28, 2016:
RELAY STATION 5150 on 5150 AM at 1359 UTC.
An UNID on 6925.5 AM at 1813 UTC.
Radio AV was testing on 6925 AM at 2102 UTC.
Old Time Radio on 6770 AM at 2245 UTC.
Moonlight Radio on 6929 LSB at 2351 UTC.

Saturday, October 29, 2016 (including Friday night):
An UNID on 6925 USB at 0015 UTC.
Bat Country Radio on 6955 USB at 0022 UTC
Another UNID on 6935 USB at 0055 UTC.
PeeWee Radio on 6955 USB at 0128 UTC.
WAHR (Automated Halloween Radio) on 6955 USB at 0300 UTC.
Yet another UNID on 6955 USB at 0348 UTC.
Amphetamine Radio on 6925 USB at 1514 UTC.
An UNID on 6925 USB and then AM at 1900 UTC.
Another UNID on 6930 AM at 2139 UTC.
Radio Illuminati on 6150 AM at 2206 UTC.
Pumpkin Patch Radio on 6930 USB at 2252 UTC.
Old Time Radio on 6770 AM at 2225 UTC.
Radio Free Furry on 6945 USB at 2352 UTC.

Sunday, October 30, 2016 (including Saturday night):
Moonlight Radio on 6930 USB at 0002 UTC.
Pee Wee Radio on 6955 USB at 0133 UTC.
An UNID on 6950 AM at 0204 UTC.
Another UNID on 6925 USB at 0215 UTC.
Another UNID on 6925.1 AM at 0218 UTC.
Yet another UNID on 6925 AM then USB then LSB at 0342 UTC.
Radio Halloween on 6925 AM at 1156 UTC.
One more UNID on 6930 AM at 1248 UTC.
Radio Halloween on 6925.4 AM at 1526 UTC.
An UNID on 6963 LSB at 1542 UTC.
Radio AV on 6925.7 AM at 1616 UTC.
An UNID on 6930 USB at 1635 UTC.
RELAY STATION 5150 on 5150 AM at 1901 UTC.
Radio Merlin via RELAY STATION 5150 on 5150 AM at 2014 UTC.
Witch City Radio 6925 AM at 2039 UTC.
Radio Merlin International relay on 6925 AM at 2128 UTC.
Radio Fusion Radio on 6930 USB at 2143 UTC.
Captain Morgan Shortwave on 6924 AM at 2155 UTC.
An UNID on 6950 AM at 2157 UTC.
Old Time Radio on 6770 AM at 2205 UTC.
The Yodeler on 6930 USB at 2228 UTC.
RELAY STATION 5150 on 5150 AM at 2234 UTC.
The Yodeler on 6925 USB at 2236 UTC.
Radio Fusion Radio on 6925 USB at 2242 UTC.
Rave On Radio on 6935 USB at 2300 UTC.
The Yodeler on 6930 USB at 2312 UTC.

Monday, October 31, 2016 (including Sunday night):
RELAY STATION 5150 on 5150 AM (received in Brazil) at 0018 UTC.
An UNID on 6924.7 USB at 0013 UTC.
NRUI (Amelia Earhart callsign) on 6925 CW at 0204 UTC.
WAHR (Automated Halloween Radio) on 6925 USB at 0216 UTC.
An UNID on 6925 USB at 0235 UTC.
An UNID on 6925 USB at 1524 UTC.
Amphetamine Radio on 6925 USB at 1753 UTC.
Radio AV on 6925 AM at 1916 UTC.
Amphetamine Radio on 6923 USB at 2053 UTC.
Old Time Radio on 6770 AM at 2205 UTC.
Doctor Detroit on 6935 AM at 2237 UTC.
Moonlight Radio on 6930 USB at 2254 UTC.
An UNID on 6925 USB at 2304 UTC.
Witch City Radio on 6873.4 AM at 2309 UTC.
An UNID on 6940 LSB at 2338 UTC.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 (including Monday/Halloween night):
An UNID on 6925 USB at 0008 UTC.
Wolverine Radio on 6935 USB at 0013 UTC.
Pumpkin Patch Radio on 6925 USB at 0034 UTC.
XFM on 6960 AM at 0042 UTC.
An UNID on 6950 USB at 0046 UTC.
Canadian Radio After Dark on 6950 USB at 0048 UTC.
Undercover Radio on 6975 USB at 0058 UTC.
Renegade Radio on 6925 at USB.
WJD on 6930 USB at 0130 UTC.

Only one Europirate was logged on this side of the pond: Enterprise Radio was on 6950 AM at 2200 UTC on the 31st They sent an SSTV image, which I was able to receive with poor quality:

RainBrandy from Germany had better reception, as you might imagine:

Those Wacky Pescadores

Pescadore is the term used by Pirate DXers to refer to a fishermen operating on the 43 meter band, the plural is pescadores, often abbreviated as peskies. While they can turn up anywhere on the band (or outside it), 6925 LSB seems to be the most common frequency, which can cause QRM to pirates operating on 6925 AM. They also turn up on 6933 LSB fairly often.

Usually you hear them chatting with each other; informal QSOs. Sometimes however they have been known to play music, or engage in other activities fairly close to broadcasting. They can actually be entertaining to listen to.

Here is a recording of them from the other night, starting just before 0000 UTC on 21 September, 2016.

Pescadores have even inspired a pirate radio station named Pesky Party Radio, most recently heard last month. This station plays Spanish language covers of popular songs, and is rather hilarious.

Building an RF Noise Generator For Testing Filters

It’s often handy to have an RF noise generator when testing various circuits, especially filters. I was working on a low pass filter for long wave, and wanted a way to measure the performance of the filter.

This is the noise generator I came up with. It’s a fairly simple circuit:

A zener diode as the noise source. Zener diodes, when conducting a very low current, produce a wide spectrum of noise. In this case I used a 6.8 volt zener diode, similar values should work as well.
A single NPN transistor used to amplify the noise form the zener diode.
A variable resistor to adjust the current through the zener diode for maximum noise.
Three resistors, four capacitors, and an inductor (to filter out noise you don’t want, from the power supply).

In my case, I powered the generator from a 12 volt DC power supply, you could use a 9 volt battery as well, if you wish.

Below is the schematic (you can click on any of the images to see them full sized):

The incoming DC power is filtered by the inductor and two capacitors.

Next it goes through the variable resistor as well as a fixed 10K resistor, so that the maximum current through the zener diode is limited to a safe value during adjustment. The noisy zener diode current is then applied to the base of the transistor, used as a common emitter amplifier. I used a 2N3904, other values should work as well, though you may need to adjust resistor component values. The 0.1 uF capacitor keeps the voltage on the zener diode relative constant.

The 680 and 1000 ohm resistors in parallel are values I had in my parts bin, suitable to use in parallel based on the current to the base of the transistor. The transistor output is the AC coupled through another 0.1 uF capacitor.

Below is a photograph of the circuit, build on the lid of a 1 pint paint can. I have a number of these from geiger tubes that I purchase for use in radiation detectors that you can plug into your computer for experiments as well as long term measurements and graphing. Hey, want to buy one of my geiger counters? Full details are here: http://www.blackcatsystems.com/GM/GeigerCounters.html

OK, back to the noise generator. The paint can lids are handy for prototyping RF circuits. You can built them dead bug style on the bottom side of the lid, test them out, then put them on the can for your RF shield, as shown below. The two connectors are a BNC jack for the RF output, as well as a standard DC power jack for the power supply.

For looking at the generated noise spectrum, I used the fabulous SdrDx SDR software by Ben, AA7AS, along with an AFE822x SDR.

Below is the noise level with the RF noise generator powered off (you can see an RFI noise source around 1300 kHz from elsewhere in my lab, which I have not yet tracked down):

And with it powered on:

The increase in noise level is about 50 dB, very suitable for testing filters and such.

Old Time Radio – Shortwave Pirate Radio Station Or Something Else ?

For about the past three weeks, we’ve had a bit of a mystery on the 43 meter pirate shortwave broadcast band. First logged on the HFUnderground on May 18, 2014 on 6772.6 kHz by EvilElvis as an UNID pirate playing “Tooth Powder commercial, 5 Minute Mystery, Red Skelton, Avalon Cigarettes commercial”, this station has been heard nearly non-stop since then, except for some short breaks, and a two day period between June 3 (it was last heard on June 2 at 2357 UTC and returned by 0035 UTC on June 5.

This station has been heard from coast to coast, and has a over 170 loggings on the HFUnderground Pirate Shortwave Radio Forum and has become quite the favorite of many shortwave pirate radio listeners. Many of us where disappointed when we turned on our radios on June 3 to just hear static, and equally thrilled to hear the station again when it returned two days later. I’m hearing it on 6772.6 kHz as I type this at 1323 UTC on June 6, 2014. It generally operates close to 6772 or 6773 kHz, but as also been heard on 6800 and 6880 kHz.

Possibly the same station was reported in the 13.56 MHz HiFer band previously. Glenn Hauser first logged it on 13560.7 AM on April 18 at 0520 UTC, and mentioned the following to me via email:

I haven`t heard it on any of the 6 MHz frequencies, but I keep wondering if it`s the same one I have reported thrice on 13560+. That would be 2 x 6780+ if that was ever a fundamental. Looking thru the posts (not sure I saw all of them) I don`t see anyone referring to that or to the webcast ID I heard from the 1920s Radio Network out of WHRO in Virginia. Should compare the programming to their schedule. They also have a separate mostly-music channel. 13560 was also pointed out to be a part 15 RF ID frequency which be some connexion.

The 1920s Radio Network has a website.

The general format seems to be playing music (often described as easy listening music, or even elevator music) during the daytime, and then old time radio shows overnight, hence the nickname Old Time Radio given by several listeners. No formal ID has ever been heard. News is typically heard at the top of the hour, and seems to be syndicated news audio provided by “Feature Story News“. I’ve noticed that today, June 6, I am not hearing any news.

The first thing that comes to mind is that this is a pirate radio station. There’s no SWBC stations assigned to these frequencies. While speculation about pirate radio station transmitter locations is often frowned upon by parts of the pirate radio community, propagation (based on who can hear the station at various times of the day) clearly shows that the transmitter site is somewhere in the northeastern USA or southeastern Canada. That is pretty obvious. And the signal levels are typical of what you’d expect from a pirate station running something on the order of 100 watts, give or take a factor or two or three. But the surprising thing is how active the station is, running nearly 24/7. Someone’s not that afraid of enforcement activity by the FCC. Or could it be something else, like a radio contractor doing some testing? It seems unlikely, but then again, we had the famous Yosemite Sam station years ago.

So, if you’ve wanted to hear a pirate radio station, but always seem to miss them, now is your chance. Just tune around 6772 when propagation favors reception in your location from a station somewhere around the northeast USA, and you may indeed hear Old Time Radio, or whoever they are.

June 7 Update:
At 2129 UTC on June 7, 2014, the station went QRT on 6771, then came back on 6976 (a new frequency for it) at 2136 UTC.

Receiving HF Weather Fax Transmissions On Your iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch or Android Device

It’s markably easy to receive weather fax transmissions without a computer today, you just need an app for your smartphone or tablet, along with an appropriate shortwave radio. This can be extremely handy for mariners who do not have internet access at sea, but want to be able to receive weather charts to keep abreast of storms and other potentially dangerous conditions. It’s also a way for radio hobbyists to decode and view weather fax transmissions without using a computer.

For the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, there’s the HF Weather Fax app from Black Cat Systems, available on the iTunes store: https://itunes.apple.com/app/hf-weather-fax/id394199597?mt=8

An Android version is also available on the Google Play store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.blackcatsystems.weatherfax

Under good reception conditions, very high quality weather fax images can be received (click the image to see a full sized version):

A radio capable of receiving the transmissions is also required. Most SSB marine radios should be able to do this, in addition there are many relatively low cost consumer radios that will also work, such as the Sony ICF-SW7600GR .

Next, you need to get the audio from the radio into the tablet or smartphone. While there are some patch cables that will work, weather fax is fortunately a rather forgiving mode to receive, and often just placing the device’s microphone next to the radio’s speaker (or better yet next to some headphones plugged into the radio) often works quite well.

Weather faxes are sent several times a day from dozens of locations around the world. NOAA has their online Worldwide Marine Radiofacsimile Broadcast Schedules listing them by region and country, and is an essential resource. The frequencies listed are carrier frequencies, to tune them in USB mode on your radio, subtract 1.9 kHz. For example, NMF from Boston MA transmits on a carrier frequency of 6340.5 kHz. Your radio should be set to USB mode, and tuned to 6338.6 kHz for proper reception.

Both of these apps will automatically detect the start of fax tone sent at the beginning of an image transmission, to properly align the image. They will also detect the end of fax tone, and use that to save the image, for later viewing. Note that relatively good reception is required for proper detection of the start and stop tones, a weak signal or lots of static or interference (or even audio pickup from the microphone) can cause the tones to be missed.

Here’s a short video made by a user of HF Weather Fax on the iPad:

And here’s a video showing the Android app:

Reducing Local QRM With A Few Ferrite Cores

One downside to an SDR is that you more easily notice the mysterious carriers and other local noise/RFI signals. After reading this article on Common Mode Chokes, I decided to see what I could do to improve my situation.

As a first step, I captured this baseline of the 6500-7000 kHz range, where I am most interested in listening (click to enlarge):

I then added a choke on the antenna input to the SDR, right where it enters the radio. It is 9 turns of the coax on a large toroid core, probably type 37 or 43 material, possibly a Fair-rite 5943003801:

The other coax cable next to the antenna input is the reference signal from the 10 MHz GPS reference. Adding ferrite to it had no effect. I’ll get to the orange toroid next. Here is the result (click to enlarge):

As you can see, there was a significant reduction in the number of carriers and other noise signals.

Next I added the orange toroid also pictured (unfortunately I have no idea what type of ferrite it was, it was from the junkbox), as well as two of the clamp on ferrites you often see on AC power or video cables to the ethernet cable that runs from the SDR to the computer, here are the results: (click to enlarge):

This got rid of a few more. Pretty much, what is left is an actual signal. I was able to identify these:
6604 New York Radio
6519 A voice transmission, perhaps another VOLMET
6660 The second harmonic of CHU 3330
6725 An RTTY transmission
6885 Israel fading in
6970 faded in and out, so it seemed to be a legit DX station

Here’s a slightly later shot of 43 meters (6800-7000kHz):

All in all, a significant improvement, for a few minutes worth of work!

6914 kHz Mystery Station

This weekend, I’ve noticed a station transmitting periodically on 6914 kHz. It will come on the air for a few minutes, then go off. All transmissions appear to be AM, with a variety of modes, such as CW (so MCW in this case), RTTY, and even some voice.

Last night I heard transmissions until the last one ended at 0136 UTC, when they stopped until 0745 UTC this morning. None were noted on the SDR recording during that time period.

When the transmissions restarted at 0745 UTC, they were extremely weak.

Here is an RTTY transmission (again, sent in AM mode) using 1000 Hz shift, 45 baud, with a center frequency of 1700 Hz, received at 2345 UTC 1 June 2013:

AGA5D2 DE A39P. FROM XXX DEFPAT ECHO X2 RTB XXXAFTER ACTION K
ART KKDUQLGLZXPQORU TUYI YUUOI PIOIU OUIYY WETYU IYOUI QRWET YTUII IUOPQ WYTUR TIOOQ PPOUY YYIER WEITY URYYU WQPOP TWLA IPQUQ QITWI PUPUQ IYUYR EWPQU TUIOW O
JAL4-6756 38677 192864 BT

A39P DE A5D2. ROGER OUT

The signal was not the best, so there are some errors in the decoded text. Here is an Audio recording of the transmission.

Here is a CW transmission at 1358 UTC on 2 June 2013:
And the decoded text, thanks to Token for providing it:
AHDR DE A50S COME IN K
A50S DE AHDR RGR GO AHEAD K
AHDR DE A50S CONTINUING ON SECPAT ROUTE. ALL CONDITIONS NORMAL K
A50S DE AHDR RGR COPY ALL K

Here is a voice transmission at 1431 UTC on 2 June 2013:

Token has reported this station on both 6914 and 23146.5 kHz back in December 2012.

Homeopathic Radio Engineering

Mainstream radio engineering principles hold that the received signal strength of a transmission is proportional to the radiated power. Doubling the transmitter power produces twice the received power, quadrupling the transmitter power produces four times the received power, twice the received voltage, which is 6 dB or one S unit. This has been accepted for over a century.

However, recent experimental results, first reported on the FRN and later in The Journal of Irreproducible Results cast doubt in this basic radio engineering theory.

These results claim that as the transmitter power is reduced to very low levels, the received signal strength actually goes up, not down.

A transmitter location on the east coast of the USA was used. The tests were conducted on HF radio frequencies on and around 6925 kHz, using a state of the art solid state transmitter with a standard off the shelf MOSFET as the RF final amp:

Each monitoring post was equipped with the highest quality HF receiving gear and highly sensitive monopole receiving antennas.

During the trials, it was found that placing a non-conductive fabric, such as a sock, over the receiver produced the strongest signals. While the exact mechanism for this effect is not yet known, it is presumed to be due to the high dielectric constant of the fabric.

The results of the experiment clearly speak for themselves, as transmitter power went down, the signal strength went up:

One way to explain the results is to return to the luminiferous ether theory of radio propagation. Radio waves are propagated by vibrations in the ether. Fewer radio waves means that there is more ether per radio wave, so the vibrations are larger, producing a stronger signal at the receiving site.

There were even reports of radio propagation that cannot be explained by any known laws of physics, such as signals in the daytime traversing from Montana to New Zealand on 6955 khz with a completely sunlit path, even though D layer absorption would make this completely impossible. Yet this was reported many times by longtime radio physicist Dr. Winston: “The signals were always received with as SIO of 555. Even the audio quality was perfect, why it sounded like I was listening to it live in the studio!”.

Several times signals were actually received and logged on the FRN before the transmission began. This suggests that superluminal neutrinos may be involved.

Further research into this new phenomena is required. If homeopathic radio is ever perfected, it would allow listeners to report hearing transmissions that used little, or theoretically even no power. Indeed, reducing the output power to zero watts might produce the best results of all for this type of station.