Friday, October 31, 2014

FT4TA Tromelin logged on 10 metres SSB - DXCC #309!

This is FT4TA Tromelin on 10 metres SSB a few minutes after I logged them as an ATNO (All-Time New One). This is my 309th DXCC logged. It was very pleasing to get them on the first morning of operations, especially with the pile-up being so huge. I used 400 watts into my Antron 99 vertical antenna. After a short while calling on various splits, I decided to pick 28.524 (39 Khz up) and sat there for about seven or eight minutes before I heard the magic words:

"Echo India Two Kilo Charlie five nine".

I didn't believe it was me. I paused. It came again.

"Echo India Two Kilo Charlie five nine".

I went back to him and gave him "roger, roger, Echo India Two Kilo Charlie, five nine, five nine, QSL".

And I was in the log! 

The pile-ups on 10 SSB, 12 SSB, 15 RTTY and 17 CW are humongous. The CW callers on 17 metres are way up as far as 18.108 and beyond, completely obliterating the digital portion of the band. I will try for some more slots when things calm down a little bit!

Update: Just now at 18:50 after returning from trick or treating with the kids, I've worked FT4TA Tromelin on 17 metres SSB. I got them on 18.155, with their QRG on 18.130.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tromelin - let the games begin!!!

The Tromelin island (FT4TA) dxpedition has officially begun. Unfortunately conditions have not been favourable this evening for Ireland, so I will have to wait to see what tomorrow brings in terms of hearing this rare DXCC. Tromelin is the 10th-most-wanted DXCC and hasn't been activated in 14 years. Good luck to all the DX hunters trying to get FT4TA into their log!

I haven't been doing much blogging lately, but I have been reasonably active on the bands. Here's a very brief update about what I've been working:

VK9DLX Lord Howe Island - dxpedition prolonged and continuing - 8 slots.
VK9XSP Christmas Island - Polish dxpedition to VK9/X - 12 slots.
5R8M - excellent dxpedition to Madagascar - 13 slots so far.
ZK3E/ZK3Q - two-man Polish dxpedition to Tokelau - three slots so far, which is brilliant because there are only two of them and signals are very, very light most of the time.
XX9R Macau - very difficult to hear most of the time. Managed 12m CW so far.
KG4WV/KG4DY Guantanamo Bay - managed two slots so far. Easy to work from here.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

S01WS worked again as I receive their QSL card!

My QSL cards received from S01WS Western Sahara.
I managed another new band slot with S01WS in Western Sahara today. I worked them on 12 metres CW with my trusty Antron 99 vertical antenna. This brings to eight the total number of slots I have them worked on. Only a couple of days ago I received QSL cards confirming six slots. I have worked them twice again since requesting the card!! I would be very glad of confirmations on Logbook of the World, but I'm not sure if that's going to happen. Although I didn't have much time in the shack today, I did manage to work the following:

E51XIW South Cook Islands - 20 metres RTTY (new one on digi modes)
9N7CJ Nepal - 20 metres SSB (new slot)
TR8CA Gabon - 10 metres SSB (new slot)
T30D Western Kiribati - 20 metres CW (new slot)
C21GC Nauru - 17 metres CW (new band)
3D2YA Fiji - 20 metres CW

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Interesting signal reports from my mobile setup

Yesterday, at lunchtime, I decided to test out the HF setup in the car, which I have recently reinstalled. I gave out a CQ on 14.005 with 100 watts through my roof-mounted Watson Multi-ranger antenna. I didn't actually want to make any contacts. I was happy enough just to look at the signal reports on the Reverse Beacon Network. And that's when it got really interesting!

As you can see from the photo on right, I was parked against a wall with a fence on it, and behind that is a big factory unit that it perhaps 30 feet tall. The front of my car is facing roughly east-southeast, so the factory is pretty much blocking me to the west-northwest. And what was my best signal report on the Reverse Beacon Network? VE2WU in Canada, which is where my signal should have been worst. Perhaps the fence was reflecting my signal strongly onto the long path? I had good reports from Belgium and Germany too, which should not be so surprising. But 54 dB snr from Canada is a damn good report, the sort of thing I mightn't even see with my hexbeam and 400 watts pointing directly to Canada!

Perhaps one of my readers can shed some light on what might have made my signal to Canada so strong?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Quick update: C2, ZD9, VK9/X logged, E3 confirmed

Yesterday evening I arrived home from work knowing that any radio time would be severely curtailed. I had to read the IRTS news at 8pm on EI2MOG, and then had a meeting to go to which would last from 8.30pm until after 10pm. When I got home, I received messages from fellow DXers EI6FR and EI6IL that C21 was on 30 metres with a good signal, and that ZD9XF was on 10 cw. I had to eat my dinner!! Food came first.

Final approach to Nauru island, where C21GC is active.
It turned out not to be a bad decision. When I returned to the radio, I managed to work C21GC on 30 metres CW within two minutes!! Great going. A second slot with this new one. Then I went to 10 metres and, using my Antron 99 vertical, began calling Nigel ZD9XF on a split of about 2.5 Khz up. After about five minutes or so, he came back to me with "EI2KC 5NN". I gave him "TNX NIGEL, UR 5NN 5NN TU". Another slot with the southern Atlantic island! Unfortunately my doubtful QSO with him on 80 metres on Saturday morning is NOT in his online log. So I will have to try again, if he turns up on 80 in the mornings before his departure from the island this coming Saturday. No pressure eh?

A short time later I turned the hexbeam to 80 degrees and I could hear VK9AN quite well on 20 metres SSB. I punched in a 5 Khz split and began calling. It took just two calls to get into his log! Wow. Easy peasy. Sometimes that's the way it goes....... Three new slots in the space of about 20 minutes. And all before I had to read the news and leave the shack!

Upon reading Ark EI9KC's blog where he said that E30FB had confirmed his QSO on LoTW following an OQRS payment, I did the same, and now find that my two QSOs with this All-Time New One are now confirmed on LoTW! Wow. Brilliant stuff.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Some nice confirmations in via eQSL

Saipan, Mariana Islands, for a QSO on 20 metres CW.
TZ6BB, Mali, for a QSO on 30 metres CW earlier this month. Thanks Nando!
YV4NN Venezuela, for a QSO on 6 metres!! Chuffed with that one.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

C21GC Nauru in the log - new country for me, #308!!!!!

Within the past couple of days, I was thinking how I had missed a couple of chances over the past few years to log C2 Nauru. And up pops a one-man dxpedition to that Pacific Island, starting today! I kid you not. Stan LZ1GC is there as C21GC from today until October 14th. He was spotted on several bands today. 15m CW - no signal here. 10m CW - no signal here. 17m CW - barely audible on the absolute limit and impossible to have a QSO with. Then, up he pops on the Reverse Beacon Network on 14.010. I have the antenna pointed at 8 degrees already. I dial down to 14.010. He is there!! 559 with flutter. I put the split on. I sit on 14.011.5. I call.

Within just a moment he comes back "EI2?" and within a short few moments I was in his log!! Wow. I managed to get in before he was physically spotted on the cluster. Lucky me, because when he was spotted the QRM became huge. I made the webcam video below a few minutes after working him.

C21 is my 308th DXCC worked. I'm delighted to have logged Stan on his first day of activity. It can be difficult to work such one-person dxpeditions in the Pacific. And, as the cluster spot proved, there can be considerable QRM too. Delighted now to finish off my weekend with another All-Time New One (ATNO) in the log, and so soon after E3 gave me my last African DXCC.

A map showing the location of C2 Nauru in the Pacific Ocean.