Tag Archives: Brian Smith

W9IMS: Chance for a Commemorative Certificate and QSL Card

Indy 500 Week Offers the Chance for a Commemorative W9IMS Certificate and/or QSL Card

By Brian D. Smith, W9IND

Your chance to obtain the 2020 W9IMS Checkered Flag Award – or at least a QSL card commemorating this year’s Indianapolis 500 – unfolds in the coming week. And both amateur radio operators and SWLs are welcome to try.

This year’s certificate is easier than ever to earn. Normally the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s three major races take place on three different weekends, but this year, because of Covid-19 concerns, two races were consolidated into one weekend – and in turn, two W9IMS special events merged into one.

For anyone who bagged that two-in-one event, you can seal the deal on the certificate by catching the station again between now and Sunday, Aug. 23. The Indy 500 operation will conclude at midnight local time (0400 UTC) Monday, Aug. 24. (Note: Indianapolis is on EDT or New York time.)

Even if you succeed in snaring W9IMS only once, you can still claim the corresponding QSL card. All certificate and QSL designs are brand-new each year.

How to find W9IMS? The station’s two transmitters will operate on three bands – 20, 40 and 80 meters – and may appear at any time of day or night until the final signoff at 0400 UTC Monday.

However, the best bet is to catch the station during prime time – 2200 through 0200 UTC on weeknights (6 to 10 p.m. Indy time). W9IMS operators will frequently activate 20 meters on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. (1200-1800 UTC); and will cover all three bands at various times throughout the weekend starting at 10 a.m. (1400 UTC) daily.

If you still haven’t caught W9IMS by 11 p.m. Sunday in Indianapolis (0300 UTC Monday), operators commonly conduct their own “happy hour” – working stations in rapid contesting style – during that final hour of the special event. But W9IMS has also been known to pull the plug a little early on Sunday evening if no stations are calling.

Here are tips for locating the station:

  • Go to the W9IMS web page (www.w9ims.org), find the “2020 Operating Schedule” heading, and click on the link to “Indianapolis 500.” Although some W9IMS operators make unscheduled appearances, you’ll have better odds looking for the station during the hours and bands reserved with a name and a callsign.
  • Even so, never assume that W9IMS is off the air. Check DX Summit (www.dxsummit.fi) for spots that identify the station’s current frequency (or frequencies), if any. Type “W9IMS” in the search box and you can customize it to show reports for only that station.
  • Preferred frequencies for W9IMS are 3.840, 7.245 and 14.245 MHz, so the station can usually be found there or within 10 kHz.

For further details, consult the W9IMS web page. Feel free to submit your requests for the 2020 QSL cards plus certificate in the same envelope, and if you don’t have your own QSL card, a printout of your W9IMS contacts or reception reports will suffice.

Remember to include $5 for the certificate plus two cards; or an SASE for one or both of the cards alone — the house rule is “No SASE, no W9IMS card, no exception!”

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W9IMS: A delayed start for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway special event station 

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Brian D. Smith (W9IND), who shares the following announcement:


W9IMS: A delayed start for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway special event station

by Brian D. Smith, W9IND

It’s a late start for auto racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as well as the amateur radio station that honors this century-old tradition … but the show must go on!

And this week it will, as special event station W9IMS returns to the airwaves from now through Sunday to offer radio hobbyists a fresh opportunity to collect more “wallpaper”: Two vivid racing-themed QSL cards and the popular certificate known as the Checkered Flag Award.

The 2020 certificate will be easier than ever to earn. Normally the Speedway’s three major races take place on three different weekends, but this year, because of Covid-19 concerns, they’ll be consolidated into two. Accordingly, hams and SWLs will be required to contact or tune in W9IMS during only two race weeks – the current one, which continues through Sunday, July 5; and Aug. 17-23, which ends on the day of the venerable Indianapolis 500.

Even if you succeed in snaring W9IMS only once, you can still send off for the corresponding QSL card. All certificate and QSL designs are new each year.

The coming Independence Day weekend will feature an unprecedented racing doubleheader, with the IndyCar Grand Prix and the NASCAR Brickyard 400 slated for Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Consequently, the first W9IMS QSL of 2020 will be a full-color, four-sided card portraying images from both races.

So where do you find W9IMS? The station will stick to three bands, 20, 40 and 80 meters, and may appear at any time of day or night from now through Sunday.

However, the best bet is to catch the station during prime time – 2200 through 0200 UTC on weeknights (6 to 10 p.m. Indy time). W9IMS operators also plan to activate 20 meters during daytime hours, often between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. (1200-1800 UTC); and will cover the various bands all weekend starting at 10 a.m. (1400 UTC) daily.

If you still haven’t caught W9IMS by the time Sunday evening arrives in Indianapolis, operators commonly conduct their own happy hour – working stations in rapid contesting style – right up to midnight (0400 UTC Monday).

Here are a couple of hints for tracking down the station during special event weeks:

  1. Go to the W9IMS web page (www.w9ims.org), find the “2020 Operating Schedule” heading, and click on the link to “Grand Prix & Brickyard” or “Indianapolis 500.” Although some W9IMS operators get on the air at unscheduled times, you’ll have your best luck looking for the station during the hours and bands reserved with a name and a callsign.
  2. Check DX Summit (www.dxsummit.fi) for spots that identify the current frequency (or frequencies) of W9IMS, if any. And if you type “W9IMS” in the search box, you can customize it to show reports for only that station.

For additional details, consult the W9IMS web page. Feel free to submit both of your 2020 QSL card and certificate requests in the same envelope, and if you don’t have your own QSL card, a printout of your W9IMS contacts or reception reports will suffice.

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Mystery Solved: Readers identify curious interval signal

Yesterday, we published a post asking SWLing Readers to help Brian (W9IND) identify an elusive interval signal (click here to read that post).

We received dozens of replies–thank you so much!

Many readers immediately identified the tune as some sort of utility station placeholder for Point To Point communications. Turns out, they were correct.

Many thanks to Dean Bianco who was the first reader to solve the mystery.

Dean discovered that the interval signal was for the Voice Mirror of the PTT Habana, Cuba.

Dean verified it via Rainer Brannolte ‘s excellent website, UtilityRadio.com.

Here’s the audio clip from Rainer’s website:

Here’s a link to the PTT Habana Cuba page which also includes two other audio clips of the PTT service.

Rainer even includes a scan of his verification letter:

Click to enlarge (Source: Rainer Brannolte)

This morning, I received a number of responses from readers confirming PTT Habana–thank you so much!

Not only have we helped Brian ID the station, but now there’s also one less UNID audio sample on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

In addition, I’m sure my friend Greg Shoom–who originally posted the recording–would be very pleased with this community effort.

Now I need to find some more shortwave archive mysteries to solve!

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Help Brian identify this 1970s era interval signal

[Mystery solved! Click here to read the update.]

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Brian (W9IND), who writes:

I want to thank you for stirring a memory that I never thought I’d relive – even though it still doesn’t solve the mystery of what the heck I was listening to in the first place!

Back in the early 1970s, I was a teenage SWLer with a curiosity for the worldwide signals that emanated from the speaker of my shortwave radio. Bitten by the SWLing bug after stumbling across Radio Nederland’s Bonaire relay station, I spent many a happy hour twirling the dial in search of fresh game to hear and QSL.

But on one such occasion (I’m going to guess it was in 1971), I was surprised and fascinated by what sounded like a snake-charming horn playing notes at random. Stranger still, the transmission would seemingly go off the air for a couple of seconds and then return to play the strange melody again. I chalked it up to one of the countless beeps, hums and other electronic noises that often appeared on utility frequencies in those days.

I never recorded it, I never had a clue what it was, and I never heard it again.

Until recently. On the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

A couple of weeks ago, while looking for old shortwave interval signals from the 1970s, I saw a recording marked “Unidentified interval signal 1” listed right after the interval signals of Deutsche Welle and Radio Nederland.

“OK,” I thought. “Sounds like a challenge. Maybe I can even help figure out what it was.”

Then it played … and I almost fell off my chair! I literally sat with my mouth open as the long-lost sounds of the “snake-charming horn” played again. Could it indeed have been an interval signal – and if so, for what station?

I wanted to contact the person who recorded it, but then I learned the sad news that Mr. Greg Shoom is no longer with us.

So I remain mystified, probably forever. But it sure was fun hearing that weird recording again! Thanks for the memories.

Let’s see if an SWLing Post reader can help, Brian!

I know of at least a dozen readers who are experts on all that is interval signals, so hopefully someone can listen and ID this one.

I’ve embedded audio from this SRAA recording below. Note that the unidentified interval signal can be heard between time marks 1:27 – 2:07 in the following recording:

Can you positively ID this interval signal?  If so, please comment!


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W9IMS: Last chance for the Checkered Flag Award

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Brian (W9IND), who writes:

If you’re chasing the W9IMS Checkered Flag Award, this weekend marks your last chance to snare the third and final special event of the year. The Brickyard 400 operation will conclude at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8 (Indianapolis time)/0359 UTC Sept. 9.

The W9IMS crew will be working other amateurs around the world, but SWLs can qualify for the same certificate and QSL cards that are offered to hams. The Checkered Flag Award is available to anyone who contacts or tunes in W9IMS during all three special events commemorating the major races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – the IndyCar Grand Prix (early May), the Indianapolis 500 (late May), and the Brickyard 400 (September).

For those who already logged W9IMS during the IndyCar Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500, this is your opportunity to complete the clean sweep and earn the colorful 2019 certificate, as well as the three QSL cards. Even if you missed one or both of the previous races, you’re still eligible for a Brickyard 400 QSL card, which is redesigned every year.

Look for W9IMS on 20, 40 and 80 meters – generally as close as possible to 3.840, 7.245 and 14.245 MHz, and often with two SSB stations on the air simultaneously. W9IMS also has a digital presence, periodically transmitting in FT8 mode.

To see if the station is on the air at any given time, go to DX Summit – http://dxsummit.fi/#/ – and type “W9IMS” in the search box.

For more information about W9IMS, including how to obtain certificates and QSL cards, go to www.w9ims.org. The W9IMS page also contains a link to the Brickyard 400 operator schedule, but remember that ops can get on the air at any time between now and Sunday night.

If all else fails, look for W9IMS during its final hour of operation, between 11 and 11:59 p.m. Sunday (0300 to 0359 UTC Monday). That’s usually the time when W9IMS engages in a contest-style “happy hour” blowout, sometimes on two bands, as the closing minutes tick away.

Thank you for the reminder, Brian!

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“Night of Nights” CW Event Returns Tonight!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Brian Smith (W9IND), who shares the following announcement:

“Night of Nights” CW Event Returns Friday (U.S. Time) 

“It was 20 years ago today,” say members of the Maritime Radio Historical Society, but they’re not covering a famous Beatles song.

They’ll certainly be on key, however, when they fire up two maritime CW stations, KPH and KFS, and their amateur radio club station, K6KPH, for the 20th annual “Night of Nights” at 8:01 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, July 12/0001 UTC Saturday, July 13. (Alas, several previously participating stations will be absent again this year, including ship-to-shore stalwart WLO of Mobile, Alabama, and a quartet of Coast Guard stations.)

This weekend’s event marks the date in 1999 when commercial Morse code operations ceased in the United States. One year later, the preservation-minded MRHS staged its first “Night of Nights,” treating shortwave radio enthusiasts to the dits and dahs of historic maritime station KPH and other callsigns that were once presumed dead on shortwave CW frequencies.

This year, the society has put out a special appeal to anyone (licensed or not) with CW proficiency to help operate K6KPH. While KPH and KFS transmit “code wheels” (repeating messages), personal messages, and tributes to long-gone maritime stations and operators, K6KPH will make CW contacts with other amateur stations on 3550, 7050, 14050 and 21050 kHz.

Whether reporting for CW duty or not, the public is welcome to observe today’s event and tour the facility, located at 17400 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in the Point Reyes National Seashore. Doors open at 3 p.m. local (Pacific) time.

And if you’re not within driving distance, you can tune in the Morse signals on the following medium wave and shortwave frequencies:

KPH:  426, 500, 4742.0, 6477.5, 8642.0, 12808.5, 17016.8, 22477.5 kHz

KFS:  12695.5 kHz

Reception reports go to P.O. Box 392, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956. Please include an SASE if you’d like a QSL.

The following links provide additional information:

Maritime Radio Historical Society: 

http://www.radiomarine.org

http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?m=1109843077277&ca=156b371f-da9f-4fed-8819-4bb55bd7bd44

http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?m=1109843077277&ca=b54f353c-4692-4564-b79a-0059721f9206

National Park Service: https://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/events_nightofnights.htm

Okay, Brian…that “being on key” bit? Clever! 🙂

Looking forward to some sweet CW music on the Night of Nights! Thank you for sharing!

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W9IMS: New season of Indianapolis Motor Speedway-themed special events

2018 W9IMS QSL

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Brian D. Smith (W9IND) who shares the following W9IMS press release:

Amateur radio station W9IMS prepares to unveil a new season of Indianapolis Motor Speedway-themed special events, with three QSL cards and a certificate available to hams and SWLs.

DATE: April 24, 2019

Three colorful QSL cards and a glossy certificate await amateur radio operators and SWLs who manage to contact – or tune in – Indianapolis Motor Speedway special event station W9IMS during all three of its 2019 special events. And even those who fall short of the trifecta can claim one or two of the QSLs.

2018 W9IMS QSL

Your first shot comes in two weeks as W9IMS fires up from May 5-11 to commemorate the IndyCar Grand Prix. Only nine days later, the second W9IMS special event (May 20-26) gets underway, this one in honor of the venerable Indianapolis 500. Then comes a summer break until Sept. 2-8, when W9IMS stages its third and final special event of the year, celebrating the Brickyard 400 NASCAR race.

The certificate and QSLs change every year, so even if you scored the clean sweep in 2018, you’ll find new trophies to pursue this year.

But you’ll have a chance to snare the station on either of two bands (20 and 40 meters) and possibly three (80 meters). Remember, too, that on Race Day – the final day of each operation – W9IMS generally stays on the air late, sometimes until midnight local time (0400 UTC).

Here are a couple of hints for tracking down the station during special event weeks:

  1. Go to the W9IMS web page (www.w9ims.org), find the “2019 Operating Schedule” heading, and click on the link to the IndyCar Grand Prix or any other race. Although some W9IMS operators take to the airwaves at unscheduled times, you’ll have your best luck looking for the station during the hours and bands reserved with a name and a callsign.
  2. Check DX Summit (www.dxsummit.fi) anytime for spots that identify the current frequency (or frequencies) of W9IMS, if any. And if you type “W9IMS” in the search box, you can customize it to show reports for only that station.

For additional details, consult the W9IMS web page. Feel free to submit all of your 2019 QSL and certificate requests in the same envelope. Again, although you’ll need to catch W9IMS during all three races to qualify for the certificate, you can earn a unique QSL card for each individual race.

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