NDBs and their past (or still present?) use

Discussion in 'Chat' started by RADIOFAN, Nov 17, 2014.


    RADIOFAN Member

    Hello all,

    My dad gave me a Norelco Philips Company Electronics Engineer kit back in 1964. I was 11 of age at the time. It hooked me to electronics, specifically to radio stuff. For some reasons off-topic I stayed loyal to playing with receivers. Now, as an EE I know how to designs and build most of them, and I also stayed loyal to AM. My post points to Non-Directional Beacons (NDBs) as navigational aids. There are a lot still operating in Europe and a good number in USA, am being told. Existing now GPS systems for positioning, why are industrialized countries still using NDBs while us, underdeveloped ones rely only in latest technologies? In my country, 99% have been decommissioned and very low-powered ones are still in use near a very few small airports. I used to hear them below the MW BCB band with a reflex receiver included as a project in the kit mentioned above. That was real fun!

    Thank you.



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  2. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    Here in North America we are phasing out 190kc to 535kc NDB's. There are still a few out there, but many have already been retired from service.

    One example now is we are trying to get the 630-meter band allocated for the amateur service from 472kc to 479kc. It would be nice to get the whole thing someday including CW and phone privileges and put the later BC-224 and BC-348 receivers to good use from 200kc to 500kc.
  3. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    Actually things here in the U.S. have changed in recent years. More NDB's have been retired than you or your sources probably realize. Part of it for a long time was older pilots wanted to keep NDB's and ADF's as a backup for fear the modern technology like GPS and WAAS could possibly fail someday. The argument was what if that was to happen or what if the military were to shut it off during some type of national emergency or global disaster? That plus many of those older pilots have died off in recent years so the resistance has been slowly fading away.

    If I remember correctly they stated shutting down many of the NDB's around the mid to late 2000's. I'm thinking sometime around 2005 to 2009 is when it really started. The only real issue has been for civil aviation and not commercial aviation.
  4. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    As a matter of fact just go to Wiki because it pretty much says the same thing I said in my last post.

    "However, because of the near disappearance of the commercial use of Morse code, the frequency is now rarely used. Emergency traffic on 500 kHz has been almost completely replaced by the Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS). Beginning in the late 1990s, most nations ended monitoring of transmissions on 500 kHz."

    Part of the reason for the delay in getting these unused LF and MF frequencies allocated for amateur use here in the U.S. is because organizations like the ARRL don't have much interest in doing so. They are more concerned with licensing more appliance operating dweebs with no technical knowledge and getting them up on the mostly unused VHF and UHF bands where they spend about a year of so until they get bored with the hobby and leave anyway. But hey, at least they are helping Kenwood, Yaesu and Icom sell more radios during that time though right?

    It's the mentality and commercial interest of the people implementing the changes today. That's where the problem lies.