THE BEACONEER'S LAIR
Home of NDB DXing in Central California
Welcome to "The Beaconeer’s Lair". What is the Beaconeer’s Lair? It is a small room, 12 by 14-feet in size, which serves as a combination Radio Repair/Overhaul Shop, Ham-shack, Music Room and Computer work station. It is usually rather cluttered, especially when there are multiple Boatanchors (large old radios) on the floor waiting to be repaired or overhauled.
When darkness falls over Central California the aura of the room changes. The left (primary) side of the operating table is lit by a floor lamp, positioned to light the operating position and radio equipment. The computer monitor is the only other source of light. A lone figure sits in an office chair, headphones clamped tightly on his head, computer monitor and keyboard to his left, note paper and receiver in front of him. His right hand is on the main tuning knob of the receiver, the left hand alternates between various controls of the receiver. Occasionally he looks up to type something into the computer or write something on paper.
Strange noises are softly flowing from the speakers, interspersed by occasional louder static crashes. On occasion the computer screen, running decoding software, has a psychedelic, multicolored "waterfall" display depicting the various signals that are flowing from the speakers.
What is this individual listening to, and what drives him to give up many hours of restful sleep, only to listen to strange noises and thunderstorm static?
He is one of a growing breed of Beaconeers who, having ventured into the dark abyss below the mediumwave broadcast band, has become addicted to exploring these nether-regions. In fact it is so addictive that many Radio Amateurs (hams) have pushed their microphones and keys aside. They lose so much sleep they may look like owls and forget the name of their XYL (wife).
Why would an otherwise sane individual do this? For the same reason that cause some to climb Mount Everest, enter a tiger’s cage or scuba dive in shark infested waters. Hearing a Low Power beacon with a useful navigational range of 25 miles or so, at distances of 2,000, 3,500 miles, or even greater distances is the challenge. Especially when you are fighting noise and interference from Thunderstorms, Television sets, Computers, light activated outdoor lighting and every other imaginable form of electronic noise known to man.
Here is a picture of what "The Lair" looks like in June 2007. The main "HF" radio directly in front of me is no longer there, it has been replaced by a nice new Yaesu FT-2000. (Click on the link for a description). This beautiful "piece of kit" was a birthday present from Rachel, my XYL in August 2007, and is certainly the finest rig that I've ever owned. With it's very narrow DSP IF, it is also the finest "beacon chaser" that I've ever used.
No, I'm NOT asleep, no matter how hard I try, my eyes close when the flash goes off.
This was just a brief introduction to "Beaconeering". There is more detailed information in the pages below.
What are NDB's?
What Equipment Is Needed?