Altair's Lowfer Page

Station YWK

LWCA logo
Longwave Club of America

Who are the Lowfers?

Lowfers are folks who experiment with radio communications at unusually low frequencies. The Longwave Club of America (LWCA) is a haven for this strange and proud breed with their retro-technology communications. The monthly publication of the LWCA is The Lowdown. You ham operators who crave the unique and unusual should check this out!

YWK Primary Station

Grid SquareEM74oa
Latitude 34-00-28
Longitude 84-46-07
Site Elevation 1020 ft [engineered]
Antenna Height 80 feet
H.A.A.T. (FCC 90.309) 156.99 ft
1750m Beacon 184.320 kHz

What frequencies are available?

YWK station

LF beacon YWK My Lowfer beacon is YWK on 184.320 kHz. It is usually on and sends YWK in morse code, followed by a long dash, or steady carrier, lasting about 20 seconds. The beacon is controlled by a BASIC Stamp from Parallax. The complete design is available here and on the Longwave Web Page and was published in The Lowdown. In June 2001 I gave YWK a better antenna. My coordinates are 34-00-28 N 084-46-07 W or grid square EM74oa.
Rycom 6040 Selective Levelmeter Good Receivers: Frequency-Selective Levelmeters or Selective Voltmeters can be good LF receivers. Also LF receivers are available as surplus equipment, the venerable Collins R-389 being a prime example. LF converters are a cheap and effective alternative to a dedicated rig. Many shortwave receivers have LF capability, especially when modified for best LF performance. My favorite receiver is a Rycom 6040 Selective Levelmeter, but I also use a Cushman CE-24, and I started with a DZ-2 surplus military rig, early WWII or prewar vintage. I also have an old Radio Shack DX-160 and a newer Radio Shack DX-440 (modified) which is really a Sangean ATS-803 in drag.
construction diagrams Receive antennas: I highly recommend loop antennas, but longwires, dipoles and verticals also work. My Octoloop antenna is a shielded multiturn loop, also published in The Lowdown see original magazine article for construction notes and tips. I gimball the Octoloop in all axes to null the ambient noise as deeply as possible, then I listen to what's left.
Practice receiving by listning for NDBs, (Non-Directional Beacons) which are navigation beacons beteen 190 and 520 kHz. These are among the earliest surviving signals in radio. You can hear one or two from most any location, but hone your equipment and technique until you hear them from hundreds of miles away. DXing NDBs is a whole hobby within itself. When you are proficient at this, you can use the same techniques and hardware to listen for Lowfer beacons. From Atlanta, GA, after a year of practice and experimentation, I have received NDBs from Bahamas, Canada and Central America.

Future Projects

Some of these projects may never be finished, but they do keep me off the streets at night!

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