Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The final results and a new DXpedition soon

A quick look at the numbers:

7 days, 1 operator (holiday style expedition with my XYL Michelle)

3617 QSOs into 93 DXCC entities

3280 (90.7%) SSB
  333 (9.2%) PSK31
      4 (0.1%) RTTY

2366 (65.4%) 20m
  781 (21.6%) 15m
  424 (11.7%) 10m
    46 (1.3%) 40m

2534 (70%) Europe
  925 (25.6%) Asia
    96 (2.7%) Oceania
    50 (1.4%) North America
      6 (0.2%) South America
      5 (0.1%) Africa

A shorter 3 day expedition over a single weekend with my wife is being planned for December 10-12 2010, more details soon on http://vk4ldxoc171.blogspot.com/

Friday, October 22, 2010

Day 7 – last day of operation, 10m dead, 15m ordinary, nothing on 40m, no long path America’s on 20m but got 200 Europeans in the log on 20m SSB – need sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GRAND TOTAL – 3617 QSOs into 93 countries

I had my lowest number of QSO’s for the day which was 216. It was probably a combination of poor solar conditions and the fact that a lot of people already had me in the log for the bands that were open, ie 15m in the afternoon/evening and 20m at night/early morning – although 10m was clearly dead, can’t complain though, the past three days on 28 MHz was fun.

But still I clearly exceeded my expectations, I only printed off 2000 QSL cards for this trip and I thought that was a little optimistic. I figured 300 QSO’s per day average over a 7 day holiday would be a lot. But the final number of QSO’s turned out to be almost double that with 3617 QSOs (516 Q’s per day). Don’t worry folks if you’re in the log you’ll still get a card, I’ll be printing off another 2000 in the next couple of weeks. In the coming few days I’ll be interested to see the breakdown of the QSO’s, the clear winners are Europe 20m SSB and JA 15m SSB.

I’m very sorry that not many America’s got in the log, it was due to the mountain blocking North/Central/South America short path, most of VK, ZL and long path Europe. But as a consolation, my wife has agreed for us to take a couple of little weekend trips to Magnetic Island which is OC-171. I did do a quick trip which wasn’t well planned and I went there at the last minute to a terrible location which blocked almost everyone due to it being in the mountainous bay, that trip netted only 124 logs over 3 days, compared to the 3617 over 7 days for this trip. So at least I’ve learnt a lot second time around. My wife and I will do a little day trip for recognisance and we’ll visit some potential locations with my compass and great circle map in hand. I believe I know a place which has a water take off short path to Europe, JA and most importantly USA. This trip ticked two of those boxes, my next one needs to tick all three.

So there’s CQWW SSB this coming weekend, so we might go for a relaxing ‘family day’ the following weekend for the day to check things out as the weekend after that I think it’s JIDX SSB. So at least some time in November I’ll have an idea of a potential three day style weekend DXpedition to OC-171......... yes I have a very understanding wife, but I haven’t been too selfish, the trade off is a Pacific Island cruise of her choice and design next year visiting YJ, FK8 and 3D2 – with NO radios – as soon as I booked this DXpedition she found and booked the cruise – hi hi.  

GRAND TOTAL – 3617 QSOs into 93 countries

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day 6 – 10m SSB open to Europe for 3rd day in a row – but 20m long path to W/VE closed

Today saw a lot more QSO’s than I expected. Despite it being a working day in Japan, 15m SSB provided a lot of action to JA with the odd European QSO thrown in during 0530-0700 UTC. Then I jumped onto to 10m SSB, I wasn’t expecting much, the solar figures were good but not as great as two days ago when 10m was fantastic to Europe, the second day was ok but not spectacular. To my surprise there were lots of signals from Europe and I stayed here from 0730-0900 UTC. At 0930 UTC we were going out to dinner, remember my VERY VERY tolerant XYL Michelle is with me in this supposed ‘holiday style’operation. So I jumped on 40m SSB for 15 minutes after spotting myself on the cluster. I did work W7IV which was great but that was it, along with a few JA’s. After an exotic tropical dinner washed down with a few ales I jumped on 40m SSB at 1100 UTC and 40m PSK31 at 1130 UTC, and despite using the cluster to spot it, the only DX logged was a small bunch of JA, nothing from W/VE.

At 1200 UTC I jumped on 20m SSB, I figured I wouldn’t be that busy as the demand for Europe on 14 MHz phone would have been satisfied after what has been the majority of my QSO’s thus far. Yeah OK I was wrong about that, the pile ups at times were quiet it was still mostly pretty fast and furious and I didn’t get up from my chair once during the 1200-1700 UTC period (10pm-3am local). I knew I had to do my usual check of 20m long path to the America’s later , so it was a 1930 UTC wake up call for just 2.5 hours sleep...... for the fourth day in a row – when I do the maths it works out that I’ve been going on 4-5 hours of sleep per day all week – hmmm, tired!!!!

I woke up and worked KL7CWN at 1953 on PSK31 20m. Unfortunately 20m long path to North America was a bust. I even couldn’t find anyone to contact on the 20m PSK31 window, then all of a sudden in between the VK’s, JA’s and UA’s I noticed a faint trace. After many calls I finally got him in the log at 2206 UTC, it was J73WA for an all time new DXCC country!!! At least that counterbalanced the disappointment of not being able to give anyone else OC-172 in W/VE.

I have one more day to operate. So again around 0600 UTC I’ll be on 15m SSB/PSK31, around 0700 UTC on 10m SSB, in between checking 0900-1200 UTC I’ll do the odd spot on 40m PSK31/SSB. Around 1100 UTC I’ll be on 20m SSB until the band dies. The plan was to then goto bed at 1700 UTC and pack up the station in the morning from 2000 UTC as we need to be checked out of our cabin by 0000 UTC.

But I’ve convinced Michelle that I can pack up the station and antenna’s etc in a shorter period of time, so I’ll sneak in a 2000-2100 UTC session on 20m SSB for the last chance to try America’s on 20m. So check the cluster in this period and maybe the DX gods will smile.

Yesterday saw a very productive 529 QSO’s in the log to bring up the total after 6 days to 3401 QSO’s. So if you’re not in the log, hopefully I can get you over the next 15 hours.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 5 – 10m SSB again open to Europe – the tiny trickle of QSO’s into the America’s increases to a tiny stream

At 0430 UTC I spotted myself on the cluster and called CQ on 20m SSB but there was no west coast USA, William FO5JV was the only one hearing me. And I didn’t hear any DX check into the ANZA net either. So I visited 15m PSK31 and made some contacts into Asia and Europe during 0530-0630 UTC. After the 10m opening the previous day, I thought I’d go there a little earlier. It certainly wasn’t as good as yesterday but from 0630 – 1000 UTC there were 85 QSOs into Europe on 10m and that was mixed in with a trip to 15m also. It wasn’t a big QSO rate but it was great fun being on 10m and making DX contacts for a change.

I had a look many times on 40m SSB and PSK31 for North America but nothing on the short path due to the hills. Surprisingly enough, the demand for Europe on 20m SSB is still there and I was quite busy at 1130-1400 UTC until the pile up died down after 2.5 hours. That’s when I goto 20m PSK31 and I spent the next 2 hours working Europe. At 1630 UTC (2:30am) I went to bed, but I had to get up at 5am (1900 UTC), despite only 2.5 hours sleep after 11 straight hours of operating, I just had to see if I could get into the America’s on 20m SSB long path.

A few signals started popping up by 2000 UTC. Around 2015 UTC I put myself on the cluster and  then Dan W4DKS from Virginia called in to say I was stronger than yesterday morning, so that was encouraging. So during 2030-2130 I worked 20 x W stations, 1x VE, 1x KP4, 1x FM5, 2x YV and 1x HK. This included a quick trip to PSK31 but after working a HK station a little JA pile up started so I went back to SSB, I wanted to maximise this small opening. So 26 stations in an hour from the America’s isn’t satisfying the demand, but its an improvement over the past few days.

So tomorrow I’ll spot myself on the cluster at 2000 UTC and just stay on SSB and look for you guys from North to South America. I have a vertical on the beach so my beam headings for long path aren’t an issue, it’s just up to the radio gods. If you can hear me at a barely readable level, then you can bet I hear you loud, I have zero noise levels in the morning on 20m and everyone who worked me was very strong, it’s just a matter of hearing my tiny signal over your noise. The best bet is 2030-2130 UTC but I’ll be around at 2000-2200 UTC spotting myself at various places above 14300 to avoid the PJ action. TOMORROW WILL BE THE LAST CHANCE TO USE THE 2000-2200 UTC LONG PATH WINDOW, ON THE FINAL MORNING I’LL BE PACKING UP THE ANTENNA. So if you’re in the America’s and need this IOTA, please try for me tomorrow.

Today again I’ll go on 20m SSB at 0430 UTC and put out some cluster spotted calls for west coast USA and I’ll listen for USA check ins on the ANZA net at 0515.

Other than that I’ll be on 15m SSB and/or PSK31 today around 0530 UTC then checking 10m around 0700 UTC. Then the usual 20m activity after 1200 UTC.

Today there was 425 QSO’s to bring it up to a total of 2872 QSO’s for the five days.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day 4 – The sun wakes up for 2 hours of Europe on 10m SSB – and finally a tiny trickle of QSO’s into North America on 20m

Well it started pretty slow today. I checked into the ANZA net and had zero QSO’s and couldn’t raise much on 15m SSB after that so at 0600 UTC I tried 15m PSK31. I had fun for an hour working into JA and Europe and I figured with the solar forecast looking promising I’d jump on 10m. At 0730 UTC I put a spot on the cluster for 10m SSB and then spent the next 2 hours working 190 stations mainly from Europe with the odd JA and Middle Eastern in the mix. It felt like a CQWW contest weekend it was so busy. Loads of fun and everyone in Europe seemed pretty excited to see this band alive and kicking. So around 0700 UTC tonight I’ll jump on 10m SSB again.

After dinner I went to 20m SSB a little earlier at 1030 UTC and worked a steady stream of Asia and Europe, this time the pile ups weren’t really pile ups, just a couple of stations calling. This certainly gave the chance for some of the weaker stations to get through and people with barefoot dipoles even got in the log. The rate slowed down to zero by 1300 UTC. This also gave me the chance to quickly look at the 40m PSK31 window for any signs of life from North America, but there was QRM from an Asian station using SSB for much of the time.

So at 1300 UTC I jumped on 20m PSK31 and ended up working a constant stream of Europe, and W4PKU even managed to break the pile up at 1342 UTC. The band continued to provide action until 1645 UTC. The pile up rate for PSK31 ended up being only 30 per hour compared to up to 90 per hour for the SSB, so a lot less QSOs ended up in the log, but at least it gives the chance for the more modest antenna/power stations to get in the log, so its certainly worth it.

So I went to bed by 1700 UTC which is 3am local time, knowing I needed to be up in 3 hours to look for the America’s on 20m. My wife had to beat me with a stick to break my sleep deprivated coma at 2000 UTC (6am). I staggered to the radio to check the 14070 kHz waterfall at 2020 UTC and saw quite a few east coast USA stations. I called one but he didn’t respond, but then a trace close by was calling me, it was Jim N4ST in VA and I was excited to get him in the log, he spotted me on the DX cluster but after 10 minutes of calling cq cq no more US stations seemed to hear me – bugger!    In the period 2050 – 2230 UTC I spotted myself on the cluster ever 15 minutes or so around 14325 +/- for SSB and 14073 for PSK31 to be there for long path North America. My signal is clearly very weak but at least some stations did make it in the log - on PSK31 – N4ST (VA) and W4DKS (VA), then a few more on SSB – AB5EU (TX), AA2KD (NJ), K5MK (MS), W4DKS (VA) , W3TN (MD), N4AH (SC), VE2QRA (QC), WP4DP and OX3KQ. I know that’s not satisfying demand but it’s a start.

Judging by the PSK31 traces, there were a lot more at 2020 UTC when I staggered to the radio and they dropped off quite quickly, so maybe the long path is better to USA a little earlier. So over my final two mornings I’ll get up earlier and start spotting myself on PSK31 and SSB from 1930 UTC to 2200 UTC over the next two days which 5:30-8:00 am local time.

Again I’ll sit by the frequency during check ins at the ANZA net, at 0515 UTC on 14183, if I hear any USA stations checking in then I’ll jump in too, if not then I'll goto 15m. I might start spotting myself on the cluster and call on 14070 PSK31 during the 0400-0500 UTC period for west coast USA. Remember I can’t see the DX cluster at my radio shack, I walk up the path with the laptop to get wireless reception and then quickly go back to the cabin to call cq.

So on day 4 I made 488 QSO’s including 190 on 10m SSB which brings the logbook up to a total of 2448.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Day 3 - lots of Europe/JA, no luck with North/South America

Three days down and four to go. Yesterday I checked into the ANZA DX Net 14183, HHH 7190 and 7130 DX Net to try and get into North America – but I had no luck at all, for those 3 hours it just resulted in 7 QSOs and only one into USA (K3EST), hmmm so that didn’t work. Unfortunately there is a wide and steep hill blocking USA and South America short path and it also blocks VK7, 3, 2, 1 and southern VK4, so there’s not much that can be done, it’s just the way the resort sits on the island and it’s dense forest and there’s no access to a short path USA take off. On the opposite end of the spectrum, short path to Europe and Asia has been wonderful with 10m even opening up briefly.

There’s no point in me checking into the HHH or 7130 DX Nets anymore as I’ve heard nothing at all from North America on 40m. But I’ll continue to check the 7035 kHz waterfall for USA on PSK31 in the 0900-1200 UTC period, if I see any action, I’ll spot myself on the cluster and call CQ. The pile up to Europe on 14260+/- QRM wasn’t as crazy last night so maybe North America east coast will have some luck, a few east coast USA got through last night. I will listen out for W/VE in the 1400-1500 period especially.

I’m now starting to wonder about long path. I have a clear water long path to South/Central America and it’s a water take off to USA long path so maybe 20m in the 2100-2300 UTC period is an option. I’ve been going to bed at 3am 1700 UTC after the 20m Europe pile up so I’ll just tough it out and make do with a few hours sleep. This morning I worked PJ4B on SSB at 2153 UTC and ZP8AE on PSK31 at 2218 UTC, so it’s not impossible, just unlikely. So the next few mornings I’ll be on the air from 2030 UTC for a couple of hours and hopefully that will work. I don’t do CW (new year’s resolution to learn it) so it will be SSB and PSK31, and I’ll spot my frequencies on the cluster. Remember I cant see the DX cluster at my operating position, I need to walk a few minutes towards the resort to get wireless reception. It’s a big pain unplugging the CAT connection to the radio, but I just want to give people the best chance of getting this IOTA. I just want people in the America’s to know I am trying!!!

I’ll have a look at the ANZA net Wednesday UTC (not today, Tuesday UTC), if I hear USA stations checking in then I’ll check in too.

Yesterday saw a lot less QSO’s due to time spent on the nets, but I made 416 QSO’s, mainly Europe on 20m SSB and JA/Europe on 15m SSB. There was a brief opening on 10m to Europe PSK31 and SSB at 0700 UTC , but then I had to go visit the nets I promised to check into. After 3 days there are now 1961 QSOs in the log