Tag Archives: Brian Smith

Last chance to grab a 2021 W9IMS Special Event QSL card!

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


Last W9IMS Special Event of 2021 Brings a Final Chance to Qualify for a “Checkered Flag” certificate or QSL card

If the month of May took you two-thirds of the way to the W9IMS Checkered Flag Award, the week ahead can carry you to Victory Lane.

From now through Sunday, members of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Amateur Radio Club will operate their third and final special event of 2021, commemorating the upcoming NASCAR Brickyard 200 race. Work or tune in W9IMS and you’ll qualify for a special QSL card – along with the Checkered Flag certificate if you logged the station during this year’s previous special events, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis 500, both held in May.

You’ll find W9IMS on 20 and 40 meters and possibly 80 – generally near 3.840, 7.245 and 14.245 MHz – and frequently on two bands simultaneously, especially during the 6 to 10 p.m. EDT “prime time” on weeknights (2200 to 0200 UTC).

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 at upper right.

For more information about W9IMS, including instructions on how hams and SWLs can obtain certificates and QSL cards, go to www.w9ims.org. The page also contains a link to the Brickyard 200 operator schedule, but keep in mind that ops can get on the air at any time, day or night, between now and through Sunday.

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

But don’t stake your card or certificate on it! W9IMS operators have been known to pull the plug early if band conditions deteriorate and/or calling stations become scarce.

– Brian D. Smith, W9IND

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Indy 500 Week Marks the Second W9IMS Special Event of 2021

Indy 500 Week Marks the Second W9IMS Special Event of 2021

By Brian D. Smith, W9IND

If you’re looking to add a 2021 Indy 500 QSL card to your collection, and perhaps a certificate as well, your odds of success just accelerated. From now through the end of Sunday, May 30 (Race Day), the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Amateur Radio Club will take to the airwaves with special event station W9IMS.

The station’s SSB signals will appear daily on 20 and 40 meters – usually on or around 7.245 and 14.245 MHz – and possibly on 80 meters (near 3.840 MHz) later in the evening.

The Indy 500 special event is the second of three W9IMS operations commemorating the major races at the Speedway – and comes only 9 days after the first, which honored the IndyCar Grand Prix. The third and final special event of 2021, which runs from Aug. 9-15, celebrates the NASCAR 400 at the Brickyard.

Both hams and SWLs are eligible for the newly designed 2021 W9IMS QSL cards and Checkered Flag Award. To earn the certificate, however, you must work (or tune in) W9IMS during all three of this year’s special events – and the first race has already come and gone. But even if you miss the clean sweep, you can still claim individual QSL cards from the last two races.

Tips on finding W9IMS:

  1. Check DX Summit (www.dxsummit.fi) for spots listing the current frequency or frequencies of W9IMS, if any. By typing “W9IMS” in the search box at upper right, you can customize it to show reports for only that station.
  2. Go to the W9IMS web page (www.w9ims.org) and look for the heading, “2021 Operating Schedule.” Click on the Indianapolis 500 link, which opens into a weeklong schedule listing individual operators and their reserved timeslots. Your odds of catching W9IMS on the air are enhanced during hours with an operator’s name attached.
  3. Prime time on weeknights is 6 to 10 p.m. Indy time (2200-0200 UTC). However, W9IMS can pop up anytime, even on two bands at once, between now and 11:59 p.m. Sunday, May 30 (0359 UTC Monday, May 31).
  4. Remember that the published schedule can be curtailed by adverse circumstances, such as noisy bands, local thunderstorms or a lack of calling stations.
  5. On the positive side, operators frequently fire up the station at unscheduled times. That’s why DX Summit is the best starting point for locating W9IMS’s current frequencies.
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2021 W9IMS Special Event Station Details!

Now Underway: A More Typical W9IMS Special Event

By Brian D. Smith, W9IND

The fans are returning to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year, and with them comes a more traditional calendar for special event station W9IMS.

For hams and SWLs alike, that means a renewed opportunity to earn three newly designed QSL cards and the latest edition of the certificate known as the Checkered Flag Award.

The first W9IMS special event of 2021, saluting the upcoming IndyCar Grand Prix, is now underway and will continue through Saturday, May 15 (Race Day), ending at midnight Indianapolis time or 0400 UTC Sunday, May 16.

It’s the first of three W9IMS special events this year – two in May and the third in August – to commemorate the major auto races at the track. (Last year, because of Covid restrictions, two of the three races were held on the same weekend, and W9IMS followed suit by compressing its usual trio of special events into two.)

Here’s the remaining W9IMS slate for 2021:

May 24-30: Indianapolis 500

Aug. 9-15: NASCAR 400 at the Brickyard

Each of the three W9IMS events features its own unique QSL card, with the Checkered Flag certificate available to anyone who completes the clean sweep. However, you can still claim a single-event QSL or two even if you fail to bag the trio.

How to find W9IMS? The station will operate SSB daily on two bands, 20 or 40 meters, generally around 7.245 and 14.245 MHz, and could pop up at any time of day or night until local midnight Sunday. Keep a lookout, too, for digital activity – particularly FT8 and FT4 – on virtually any amateur radio band.

But the surest way to snare the station is this:

  1. Go to the W9IMS web page (www.w9ims.org) and find the heading, “2021 Operating Schedule.” Beneath it are links to the operator schedules for this year’s three special events; time slots with a name and a callsign offer your best bet for a W9IMS contact.
  2. Check DX Summit (www.dxsummit.fi) for spots that identify the current frequency or frequencies of W9IMS, if any. By typing “W9IMS” in the search box, you can customize it to show reports for only that station.

Remember, you can’t qualify for the 2021 certificate if you don’t catch the first event! So if you haven’t logged W9IMS by Saturday evening, keep in mind that the station traditionally conducts “happy hour” between 11 p.m. and midnight (0300 to 0400 UTC Sunday), with rapid contacts right up to the end. (But don’t stake your certificate on it: W9IMS special events may end early if the calls stop coming and/or band conditions deteriorate.)

For additional details, including QSL information, consult the W9IMS web page.

And in answer to the most-asked question: W9IMS operators transmit, usually remotely, from home stations in the Indianapolis area, but neither the ops nor the stations are physically located at the track.

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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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