Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The low-down for the beacon heads

With yesterday's post on LOWfers and MEDfers, it's time to take a look at low-powered beacons, known as Non-Directional Beacons. Next time you tune down around 190-535 kHz, and hear morse code, you have what is known in the hobby as an NDB.

Beacon signals transmit twenty-four hours using morse code consisting of one, two or three letters or digits. NDB's guide pilots or mariners as they travel across the globe.

By following the changes of propagation, long-wave DXers can log beacons from hundreds or even thousands of miles away as signals can change hour by hour or night to night.

Often times, signals may fade in quite loudly, much to the delight of beacon chasers. Adding to the excitement of the chase, is to follow up by verifying these low-powered signals. Most beacon heads seek not only a verification, but background information on the transmitting facility. Beacon QSLers use a generic form of addressing, for stations located in the United States. The basic address as: Airport Manager, Flight Services, Name of Airport, city, state and zip code. If the station is an FAA controlled facility, the address is: FAA Field Office, Name of Airport, city, state, and zip code.

Reception reports must include a self-prepared QSL card, and may be hand-designed or computer printed for a more professional appearance. Information should include station identifier, station location, frequency, date/time of reception, verification of reception statement, area for signature or station stamp, and a blank space for location transmitting power or antenna. By including this information in a concise manner, it should leave little doubt to the receiving station of your reception.

Return mint postage should be included as well as a souvenir post card or other interesting enclosure to attract the attention of the signer. A self-addressed envelope is a must, and is used successfully by beacon DXers.

For additional information on beacon DXing, subscription to The Lowdown publication, feature articles and more, visit the website of the Longwave Club of America It's a great place to get the low-down on beacon chasing.
(Source: Gayle Van Horn/QSL Report-Monitoring Times)