Saturday, December 28, 2013

Emergency disentanglement required after storm!

Jim EI2HJB uses binoculars to see how
badly entangled the rope was.
You might not be able to see properly in this image, but the storm of St. Stephen's Day which lasted through the night into December 27th caused a strange situation to emerge with my antenna system. A rope from the hexbeam became dislodged from its position and somehow managed to get entangled with one of the legs of my inverted v dipole system. When I woke yesterday morning the first thing I did was to check the antennas because the storm was really ferocious. A large number of trees were blown down in my region, in Louth and Meath. In Ireland over 50,000 homes were without power for a time after electricity lines were blown down. We have had a number of storms this winter, but this latest one certainly was the worst.

Anyway, I called my friends into action and they duly obliged by making themselves available at 10am this morning (Saturday, 28th), to help retrieve the situation. Thankfully, none of the antennas was actually broken, but I was unable to turn the hexbeam without causing something to break, and I was anxious to get it sorted out.

Jim EI2HJB, Fintan EI7CEB and Pat EI2HX all arrived to help. It was a delicate operation. While we could lower the inverted v system, which is on a rope and pulley, the problem was that the rope from the hexbeam was very much tangled up in the 80m inverted v and wouldn't let us lower it down. Using binoculars, we could see that the entanglement was severe. The rope somehow got knotted up quite well by the wind!

The eventual solution was to lower the hexbeam slightly and to rotate it so that Fintan EI7CEB could get into a position on a ladder to reach the knotted rope. This sounds simple, but it involved taking the stay wires off the hexbeam's supporting pole, and also loosening the pole from its brackers. After about an hour or so, we finally had the knot opened and I had to get up onto the shack roof to reattach the rope to its correct spreader on the hexbeam. Then we had to right the pole again and re-attach all the stays, plus the 80m inverted v had to be reattached to its support. All in all, a tough job but we got there in the end!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Things have been busy - a quick update

I've been very busy lately, launching my new book, 'Land of the Ever-Living Ones'. I've only really had time to work the VU7AG dxpedition (country #302 for me), but little else. I am glad to report that I have nine slots so far with them, including 80m CW and 40m RTTY, two slots I am very proud of. The dxpedition is working from Lakshadweep Islands in the Indian Ocean.

Tonight, there are great conditions on 40 metres CW. In the past few minutes, I've worked VA7OO in Vancouver and also W6OAR in California, both using my Butternut vertical. Fantastic. Right, time for bed!

Update: Got WO7R in Arizona before switching off the equipment!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Worked #302 overall, #200 on 40m and #70 on top band

A great day. It's late, so I will make this quick. I worked FIVE new countries in a row on 40m CW this morning, all of them in the CQWW contest. They were as follows - all worked in the space of about ten minutes:

Agatti Island, Lakshadweep Islands, where VU7AG are based.
HD2T Ecuador
KH7XX Hawaii
V25A Antigua & Barbuda
9Y4/VE3EY Trinidad & Tobago
TX8B New Caledonia

That last one, a brilliant contact using just my Butternut vertical, was my 200th country worked on the 40 metre band!

The morning got better when I logged VU7AG on 12m CW, a brand new DXCC, and country #302!! I later worked them on 30m CW also, so two QSOs with this new DXCC.

Tonight, I worked 4L5O on 160m, my 70th country on top band. It's amazing what can be done with limited antennas. My 80m/40m/30m inverted v system (only 30 feet up at the apex) has some resonance on the bottom of 160m. Delighted to get this one.

Other highlights today: J88HL 20m SSB - I now have 17 slots with this dxpedition!
XZ1J - worked on 15m SSB and 20m SSB. Total of eight slots. Only seven in the log. They busted my call on 10m CW and have me as ES2KC.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A brief moment in the sun with J88HL dxpedition

I just noticed that I am top of the EIs in the Clublog league table for the J88HL St. Vincent dxpedition! It's quite unexpected as I have some tough competition. And I realise that it will be very short lived. However, it's nice to be on top for once!!

I got up early this morning (6.15am) to try to work J88HL on 80 metres, as I failed to even hear them yesterday morning. Declan EI6FR told me he felt they were stronger earlier in the morning yesterday. He had worked them at 6.55am local time. Sure enough, after a bit of comet Ison spotting with my binoculars, I returned to the shack at around 6.45am to find them just on the limits of audibility on both the Butternut and the dipole. I had to wait until 6.54am for their signal to come up sufficiently. I called them and heard 5NN but was completely unsure of the QSO. So I called them again at 6.56am and this time I was a little bit happier. Right now at 7.15am they are covered by noise here and impossible to hear. Hopefully that's slot #10!

You know the saying - 'The early bird catches the worm'! It's so true.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Two new countries on 80 metres today

It was a good weekend on the bands, but today was rather special. Most of the weekend's contacts were made on the higher bands, which is somewhat unsurprising given the very high sunspot numbers. (Today the sunspot number is 282!). But today's two very special contacts were on 80 metres, which is a difficult band for me. I use either my Butternut HF6V vertical or a severely dog-legged 80m inverted v dipole with a maximum height of 30 feet at the apex.

I got up early to see if I could work the J88HL dxpedition in St. Vincent on 80m CW as a new country on that band. I could see they were active on 3.525 on the Reverse Beacon Network, but when I got to the radio I could hear nothing. I sat for a while listening on frequency while doing other things on the computer. Nothing. Not one bip.

A short time later, around 7.20am, I decided against all odds to try to listen to XR0ZR in Juan Fernandez on the same band, same mode. I thought I could hear him very weakly on my dipole, but I had a lot of QRN here and I didn't rate my chances of hearing him properly, never mind work him. But for some reason I sat on the QRG and went about doing a few bits and pieces on the computer.

My four slots in XR0ZR's log, including 80m CW!!!
Around 7.45am, I could hear him with a lot of QSB and flutter, and some of the time I could hear his full call "XR0ZR UP". A few EU stations, mostly G and DL, were calling him exactly 2 Khz up. So I decided to put on the Acom 1000 linear and call on that frequency.

After only a couple of minutes, I thought I could hear "KC 5NN" but nothing else. I called again. This time, I listened on the sub receiver and there was nobody else calling him on 2Khz up. I thought I heard "KC 5NN" again, so I gave "RR EI2KC EI2KC 5NN 5NN TU". Unsure as to whether it was a good QSO or not, I decided to log it as a precaution, and to try to work them again.

At the local time got nearer to 8am, XR0ZR came up in strength, but faded out about five minutes past and went into the noise. At that stage, with all Europe in daylight, I must have been the last one hearing him!

This afternoon I decided to check their online log, and, much to my surprise and delight, my 80m CW QSO is in their log! That was DXCC #133 on 80 metres.

But it didn't end there! Tonight, having waited for several nights for the chance, I finally worked Z81X in South Sudan on 80m CW. He has had huge pile-ups for the past few nights on 80 CW, but tonight his pile-up seemed to die down after an hour or so. I finally nabbed my chance. I could hear that he was listening about 1.5 Khz up so called him there. It took several tries to get him. He sent "EI2?" and I gave my call several times. I heard nothing. I gave my call twice again. I thought I heard "2KC 5NN". So I gave the call again and 5NN. And eventually I heard "EI2KC 5NN". This time I gave several RRRs and several 5NNs and TU.

Two new countries on 80 metres in one day. Not bad for a very severely dog-legged antenna that's not up high enough!!

Here are some highlights from the weekend:

J88HL St. Vincent - Eight slots, including 40m SSB.
PY0FF Fernando de Noronha - 10m SSB - new country on 10m
T33A Banaba - 20m SSB and 17m CW before they went QRT
KH8/WD5COV American Samoa - 20m CW for a brand new DXCC, #301!
TG9NX Guatemala - 12m CW, new one on 12.
XZ1J Myanmar - 15m CW - only my second ever QSO with this rare DXCC.
3DA0ET Swaziland - 10m and 12m CW.
FR/DK9PY Reunion Island - 17m CW and a new one on 17 metres.
XR0ZR Juan Fernandez - 15m SSB and 80m CW
Z81X South Sudan - 80m CW - new DXCC on 80m, #134!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Yeehaa!! Wallis & Futuna makes it 300 countries worked!!

Oh wow. This hobby never ceases to throw up surprises. Just when you think there couldn't possibly be another new country to be worked in the space of a week or so, up pops FW5JJ in Wallis & Futuna on 20m SSB and I can hear him on the short path! What a start to Monday morning. Will I get him for DXCC #300 before I go to work, or will I have to wait for another day?

He is light on my hexbeam, but I can hear him through the flutter. The beam heading is about 345 degrees. He's working French stations. The Acom is warm and ready. He finishes working the French station. I call. He picks up a Foxtrot Cinque. They exchange reports. I call again . . . silence. And then, after about five seconds . . . "Echo India Two Kilo Charlie Five and Nine"!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Roger roger, thank you, you are five and five. Thank you for a brand new country".

"No problem. Seventy Three. Fox Whisky Five Juliet Juliet....."

What a fantastic week it's been for DX, and a tough challenge to get them into the log. 5J0R San Andres was relatively easy as #296, worked first on November 2nd and on another 14 slots since then. On the same day, I managed to nab K9W on Wake Island beaming over the pole at around 7.10pm. It was a lucky break. They didn't have a pile-up and I got through fairly easily. But I have failed to get another slot since then! T33A Banaba was DXCC #298 last Friday evening just before 7.30pm local time on a skew path of about 250 degrees. They logged me as EA2KC. I'm sure they'll correct it, but I wouldn't mind an insurance QSO just to be safe. Last night at 5.43pm local time I bagged Juan Fernandez (Robinson Crusoe Island) on 10 metres CW for #299. And this morning, I have made the #300 mark.

Just over four years into the hobby and I have worked 300 of the 340 current entities. Just 40 to go. That might sound easy, but the DXers know the last 40 are the toughest, because they're usually the rarest. So I can't imagine I will be bragging about #340 any time soon!

But that's not to say I won't enjoy the challenge of trying to work them all . . .

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Juan Fernandez logged - 299 countries - getting close now!!!

It's been a heck of a week here at the shack of EI2KC. Having worked just two new DXCC during the entire summer period, I find myself in the remarkable position of having worked three new ones within the space of a week. First it was K9W Wake Island on 20m SSB. Then T33A Banaba on 20m CW. This evening, I am delighted to report that I have logged XR0ZR Juan Fernandez Islands on 10 metres CW. That's country number 299 in my log. Brilliant stuff.

I honestly thought I wouldn't make it into their log tonight. It was after dark here and the band should have been closed, but they were pretty audible even if they weren't doing much to the needle on the 756PRO. I decided to sit on a QRG and call there, instead of hunting around. I listened to a few QSOs and he seemed to be working two to four Khz up. He was on 28.008.2 and I sat on 28.011.9. It took about 20 minutes but eventually I could hear "EI2?" and went back with the call and pretty soon I was in the log.

To be honest, I didn't think this would be a particularly tough one. We have good propagation from EI into South America most of the time. Wake and Banaba are a different story. I have spent a lot of time this week listening for them and only hear them in short bursts. I need to work Banaba again because they bust my call and have me logged as EA2KC. Ah well, we'll see what happens. I'm sure they will give me the QSL anyway.

More targets for the coming weeks that are needed as new ones would include: VU7 Lakshadweep Islands; KH8 American Samoa; FW Wallis and Futuna. Fingers crossed it won't be long before the magic #300 makes it into the log.

Happy hunting folks. See you in the pile-ups!!!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

5J0R San Andres on 17 RTTY makes it 15 slots!

This is a short video showing my Icom IC-756PRO decoding 5J0R on 18 Mhz RTTY just after I had worked this wonderful dxpedition for a 15th band slot.

As an addendum to yesterday's rather excited post, I have found that in the latest T33A Clublog upload, my callsign is not in their log. However, on investigation I find that the callsign EA2KC is in there for both 20m SSB and 20m CW. I am familiar with Jose EA2KC and as far as I know he operates exclusively on phone, and does not do CW. All the cluster spots for him for the past two years have been SSB only. So I suspect that Banaba have busted my call, by one character. Ah well. I will try to work them again, but if not, it's not the end of the world. I'm sure they will correct it for me.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Banaba T33A in the log - on a skew path

I am absolutely delighted to reveal that I just worked T33A on Banaba Island a short time ago. I had no hope of even hearing them tonight because they seemed to have QSY'd off 20 cw and I would have little hope of hearing them on 30m or 40m CW on my dipoles. But then I could see spots for them on 14 Mhz on the Reverse Beacon Network. I tried listening on the short path (north). Nothing. I tried listening on the long path (south). Nothing. Disappointed, I figured I would have no luck tonight. But something told me to beam back to the north path again after they QSY'd from 14.030 to 14.035. I thought perhaps they had moved frequency for a reason - maybe the new QRG was clearer? Perhaps I would hear them on the new frequency?

This is the exact beam heading I worked Banaba on. I took
this shot immediately after the QSO.
I set the VFO to 14.035, and started turning the hexbeam from south towards north with the G-450C rotator. It was sloooow. But, just as I passed southwest, I heard some CW. I stopped the beam at 250 degrees (west-southwest) and could hear - quite weakly - what sounded like "T33A UP". I put on the split and heard him working a US station exactly one up. I pressed the operate button on the Acom 1000 linear and gave him my call. He worked a K1 station. I listened on the split. 14.036.1. When he finished that QSO, I called him.

And then the magic came wafting through the air! I heard a weak and fluttery signal that sounded like "2KC 5NN". Unsure it was me, I waited. Then I heard it again "2KC 5NN". So I went back with "EI2KC EI2KC ? 5NN BK" and heard a more distinct "EI2KC 5NN TU".

A photo of the Icom with the exact split I worked T33A on.
I'm surprised, elated, and relieved. This is a tough one for a station with small antennas. Have no doubt about it. The three and four element SteppIR stations are hearing them 559 and even 599 on the evening paths, but the lowly hexbeamers are not so lucky!!

I shouted a huge "YESSS" and punched the air several times. DXCC #298 is in the log, and another of those rare ones. It's #25 on the Clublog most wanted list. And it puts me within a whisker of 300 DXCC worked.

Now I can do what I like to do on a Friday night. I'm hoping to order a Chinese takeaway and sit down and watch a movie with my XYL and maybe I'll crack open a bottle of chardonnay too!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

Winter is a good time for contacts on 80 metres

It is well known that the early bird catches the worm. It is also well known that I am fond of my bed. However, in the past year or so I have made a special effort to get up early when known DX is to be found on the 80 metre band, which is a challenging band for a ham with small antennas. Of course, 80 metres is a winter time band, and DX contacts are rare during the summer. Last winter, I finally got 100 countries confirmed on this band after taking part in CQWW CW on 80m only in late November 2012.

This morning, I got the call from Declan EI6FR at 6:38am to say that the 5J0R San Andres dxpedition was on 80m CW with a good signal. I went immediately to the shack and sure enough, he was a 599 on my inverted v dipole. So I switched on the Acom 1000 and while it was warming up I started listening for the split.

Within a short time I was calling with 400 watts. He was working plenty of Europeans. But I knew as time went on and the rest of the EU went into daylight I would have a good chance. Sure enough, at around 06.56UTC, I heard him coming back with the magic "EI2KC 5NN". And I gave him "RR DE EI2KC 5NN 5NN TU". Another new one on 80 metres, and slot #10 with this dxpedition.

But it didn't end there. A short time later I could hear them on 40 metres SSB, on 7.165, working 5 to 15 up. So I sat on 10Khz up and called for a while. After about ten minutes, he came back very clearly with "Echo India Two Kilo Charlie Five Nine". And I gave him a 59 and entered slot #11 into my log. I now have San Andres HK0-S on every band from 80m through 10m. Last Friday night, I didn't have this DXCC at all!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Wake Atoll and San Andres logged - two new ones in one day

It has been a great day on the bands here in the shack of EI2KC at IO63TQ. I nabbed 5J0R, the San Andres dxpedition, on no fewer than five band slots today, including two RTTY slots, an SSB slot and two CW slots. That was beyond my wildest expectations. Although they are only in the Caribbean and therefore relatively easy to work from EI, it was the first day of their activity and pile-ups were significant. That was DXCC #296 (official DXCC designation HK0-S).

I really didn't expect to even hear K9W on Wake Atoll, but I got a tip-off from Don EI6IL at tea time that they were weak but workable on 20m SSB and sure enough, I actually logged them with one call. I think it was because they were weak that most Europeans were not hearing them; hence it was easy to get through. I was beaming north, so right across the pole.

It's all water and ice between here and there. I was really, really chuffed, and somewhat relieved, to get them so quickly. That was DXCC #297 (official DXCC designation KH9). I've actually worked 303 DXCC entities, but six of these are deleted so the current DXCC tally stands at 297. Just three more and I will be at the magic 300 worked.

Below is a video showing 5J0R's signal on 10m CW just immediately after I worked them. Sorry about the volume level. It was a bit high for the recording.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Spark-gap transmitter demonstrated at Kingstown Yacht Regatta anniversary event by EI5EM/EI115MAR

This is a short video showing Tony EI5EM keying an old spark-gap transmitter at the Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire. He was sending the callsign EI115MAR in celebration of the 115th anniversary of the first occasion on which wireless was used to report live on a sporting event. That event was the Kingstown Yacht Regatta in July 1898. Tony is a member of Howth Martello Radio Group. During this demonstration no antenna was attached.

Some nice eQSL cards in my inbox today

I am delighted with this one. Austral was a brand new DXCC for me this year and now I have it confirmed both on eQSL and Logbook of the World.
Guatemala is not that common on the bands. I need a lot of slots with this DXCC. I am glad to have my digital QSO with Emmanuel confirmed.
This was a contest QSO. Philippe in French Polynesia was calling for Europe only at the time. He was still being called by lots of US ops, but I managed to make it through the QRM. Shortly after this he started working USA only so I was happy to get through when I did.
This was a nice QSO into Saipan, Northern Marianas, with Matt, signing as WH0/K0BBC. We have seen some nice action on the high bands this past couple of weeks. Long may it last!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Licenced four years ago today - what a wonderful hobby we have

This was me with my test results the day I received them.
Four years ago today I got a very special phone call. I had just left work and was on my way home on a Friday evening, thinking that I would have to spend another long weekend waiting for good news. But a phone call came. It was a Dublin number. I answered. It was Derek from Comreg. He was sending out my licence in the post, but was ringing to tell me my callsign. I can remember it clearly. He spoke very slowly . . . "Echo . . . India . . . Eight . . . Golf . . .  (and then an indescribably long pause!) . . . HOTEL . . . bravo". He asked for an email address so he could send a PDF copy of my licence and I could operate straight away. I was elated. I thanked him generously and bid him a good weekend.

I hung up the phone, and immediately called out through the Dundalk 2 metre repeater. Tony EI4DIB came back to me for my first QSO as a licenced ham, and at that moment a great adventure began. Following years of interest in the hobby of radio, I was finally a fully fledged radio amateur.

My first ham station, pictured in winter 2009.
The four years since then have flown by. I can remember using my Icom 718 and a half-size G5RV which was only about 12 feet off the ground during that first couple of months in winter 2009. Sunspots were non existent, and the bands were closed every day by the time I got home from work. I had only 40m SSB to sustain me through the winter, because the half-size G5RV wouldn't tune there. And I hadn't yet learned CW. Soon, I had a Kenwood 570, and in early 2010 I got the Butternut HF6V up and running with the help of Tony. I started to learn CW. It took me about a month, maybe a little more, and by February 2010 I was already working contacts on CW. I took the test at Coolmine that month, with my lifelong friend Brian EI7GVB. We both passed. I became EI2KC on March 5th 2010 and within a few days he had received his new callsign - EI4KC.

The station grew, as did the antenna system. An MA5B minibeam followed, as did 40m and 30m inverted vees. The DXCC count went up steeply. I was working far-off places with a hundred watts, morning, noon and night. Stuff I could only have dreamed of. From a small garden I was, quite literally, working the world. I was following a passion which had been ignited when I was a teenager, and my older brother was a CB operator, and later a ham. I worked DX on 11m using an old Silver Rod from my boyhood home. Now, I was back chasing DX again, years later, and feeling good.

One of the nicest aspects of the hobby though is the camaraderie and the friendship. I have so many friends in the hobby; people of all tastes and interests. Some of them love HF and DXing. Some of them don't. Some of them are shortwave listeners. Some are VHF enthusiasts. Some of them live in far-off countries. Yes, ham radio unites people, across political, geographical and religious divides. Everyone has their niche in ham radio. But all of them are friends, and in the long nights of winter, and even in the balmy days of summer, there's always someone on the other end of your CQ, waiting for a QSO or a good ragchew.

Morse code opened up the world to me. This is the J-28
morse key which I used to learn CW, borrowed from EI2HX.
Four years on, with DXCC worked on eight bands and a total of 295 DXCC in the bag, I'd never have thought I would do so well so quickly. I guess it's the passion. I have been stuck in some horrendous pile-ups, for hours on end, rattling out my callsign on a morse paddle like there's no tomorrow, fighting with the rest of the world for that glorious "5NN" and a new country in the log. I have lost some battles, and I have won some. Thankfully, I've won more than I've lost. What a terrific hobby this is. We can communicate using just a piece of wire or metal and the ionosphere, contacting people in some of the most remote places on earth. Oh yes, this hobby is glorious. Who'd have thought I would contact someone on a rock jutting out of the ocean called Malpelo? Who'd have thought I'd work Pitcairn Island of 'Mutiny on the Bounty' fame, on 80 metres CW, in a narrow two-minute greyline opening? Who'd have thought I'd chat with people who have gone to the ends of the earth for the hobby - in Antarctica, Marshall Islands, Western Kiribati, Jan Mayen Island, Sable Island, Galapagos, South Cook, Austral Islands, Kermadec, Yemen, Somalia, Myanmar, Marion Island . . . the list goes on and on and on.

And this coming month, with any luck, I will be battling through more pile-ups, for rare and far away places such as Wake Atoll, Juan Fernandez, Banaba and more.

But in addition to all this DXing, I have been involved in other areas of the hobby. The local clubs are a great source of friendship and social interaction with other radio enthusiasts. I have been involved in contests and portable operations and even an IOTA dxpedition. I am on the committee of the Irish Radio Transmitters Society, and write the HF Happenings column for the society's magazine, Echo Ireland. It really has been a fantastic four years. Here are some of my stats: I've had 19,163 QSOs. I've worked 301 DXCC (6 deleted) and confirmed 280 (4 deleted). I've worked 287 DXCC on CW, 256 on phone, and 131 on digi modes.

Enjoying a bit of craic during AREN (Amateur Radio
Emergency Network) training with Derek EI7CHB and Pat EI2HX.
Ham radio brings the world into your home. And far from being an old fashioned, outdated pastime, amateur radio is very much a modern pursuit, encompassing technologies that are under constant development. OK, we may be the only ones left in the world using morse code. But we also combine computers with radio for genuine experiments in telecommunications. Some of us speak with astronauts on the International Space Station. We broadcast images on amateur television. We bounce signals off the moon. We push new horizons all the time, using weak signal propagation modes to make contacts that were previously impossible. Some of us make our own radios and antennas. Others monitor the bands for incursions and illegal activity. Many of us are involved in emergency communications, showing that the hobby has a civic and community side. In the event of disaster, radio amateurs provide communications when mobile phone networks and power grids are down.

What a wonderful hobby we have. Thank you to all those who've been there along the way. Thank you to all my ham friends, in Drogheda, in Ireland, and all over the world. It's been a beautiful journey so far. And we have so much more to look forward to.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Amid all the noise and QRM, Marion Island is in my log!!!

Marion Island.
I've spent a good bit of time at the radio this weekend, hunting interesting ones on the 10 metre band. 28 Mhz has been in terrific condition for the CQWW 2013 contest, and the band is packed from 28.200 up to and above 29.000. I worked PJ6A in Saba and St. Eustasius as a new DXCC on 10 metres (#220) yesterday, having spent a long time trying him.

Today, I really didn't expect any great action. I knew I would get a few nice ones into the log. However, what I did not expect was for ZS8C on Marion Island to pop up - and for me to be able to hear him on my hexbeam amid all the QRM. He was very light, and there was slow QSB on him such that he was disappearing into the noise for a minute or two at a time.

But he came back up again and I called him, and pretty soon he was giving me "Echo India Two Kilo Charlie, five nine, three eight"! I had him! When I called him back, I was QRMed by an Italian station. So I need to give my "Roger roger, five nine one four" a few times to be sure.

So I worked DXCC #221 on 10 metres and #295 overall, completely unexpectedly. Absolutely delighted!

Edit: I have now received an email from Carson ZS8C to confirm that I am in his log!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

10 metres wide open for CQWW SSB 2013!

Here is a selection of videos showing some of the action on 10 metres (28 Mhz) today for the CQWW SSB 2013 contest:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What a night for D4 Cape Verde

My log showing a number of new slots with D4 Cape Verde
It's been an interesting night here for D4 Cape Verde. I heard D44AC on 80m SSB and tried giving him a call. Despite a sustained EU simplex pile-up, I managed to eventually get through using my Butternut vertical. Chuffed with the new band slot, I thought that was a great achievement using very limited equipment. But the night was only beginning! Shortly, I saw D44AC spotted on 160m. I could hear him on 1.822 but he was looking for Japan only. After a minute he went silent. I heard nothing for two minutes. Then I decided to call blind. I sent 'D44AC de EI2KC' and immediately he came back with 'EI2KC 5NN'. I had logged Cape Verde on top band using a severely compromised antenna - my nested 80/40/30m inverted vees which are only 9 metres at the apex. This was DXCC #68 for me on top band. I had worked CN2R as #67 on Saturday night.

A short time later I saw D44AC spotted on 20m SSB and gave a shout there and was soon in the log for yet another new band slot. I was on a roll !

Also on 20 metres, but this time on RTTY, was D44TXT. I decided to join the pile-up and at 10:21pm local time I had bagged a new country on digital modes, #131 on digi. I was convinced that would be my lot. But no - D44AC was on 40m SSB. I joined the pile-up there and soon enough I was in the log again, and had bagged yet another band slot. This time I found the Butternut vertical slightly better for hearing him than the inverted v.

I am delighted that I have also worked a number of new slots with TN2MS Congo and C82DX Mozambique. A good day on the bands.

B9/BY9GA (zone 23) China booming into Ireland

Friday, October 18, 2013

Reverse Beacon Network reports for my 80m inverted v

Last night I decided to see how my signal was getting out on my new 80m dog-legged inverted v antenna. I put out a CQ on 3.150 Mhz and waited to see what the reports were like on the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN), which is a network of automated skimmer stations automatically spotting what they hear on the bands on the CW mode. 

I was quite impressed with the results. I was being heard in different parts of Europe, including Germany, Norway, Sweden, Hungary and Slovenia. Indeed I have worked a couple of stations in the USA using just 100 watts. The inverted v is definitely hearing better than my Butternut HF6V, but I am in a housing estate and the band is still quite noisy. I have made a few contacts on 160m (top band), although due to the low apex height of about 9 metres or so (30ft), I suspect that I won't be making many contacts on top band, where the nested v system (80m/40m/30m) has a 3:1 SWR at the bottom end of 160m. However, I will hope to enjoy a nice bit of activity on 80m CW during the winter months. I still have the Butternut in place, and it is currently tuned to the top end of 80m, so I can try to enjoy the best of both worlds!!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Guantanamo worked on RTTY and on 10m!

I am delighted to have logged KG4, Guantanamo Bay, not once, but twice on the amateur bands in the past 24 hours. Yesterday, I was able to work KG4HF on 15 metres RTTY as a brand new country on digital modes at around tea time. I was using the hexbeam, pointing west. I wasn't calling too long, maybe 15 minutes, and was chuffed to make the contact.

This evening, I am hearing KG4WV nice and strong on 10 metres SSB, and with a small split of just 2 KC up, I was able to nab him in a short time running 400 watts from the Acom 1000 into the hexbeam. The above video shows the signal strength of the KG4 station immediately after I worked him.

Edit: I have since worked KG4HF on 17 metres RTTY as well.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

H7H Nicaragua worked on 80 metres SSB

With the inverted v up in the air for 80m, I have been getting up early this past few mornings to try to nab any DX that might be floating around. Imagine my surprise when I saw H7H spotted on 3.790, on the top end of 80m, on SSB! My "vee" will only tune on the CW end of the band, so I was unable to use it. However, thanks to the large coil at the bottom of my Butternut vertical, I am able to tune that antenna to any part of the 80m band. I went out, spanner in hand, and opened the nut that keeps the clasp closed and stretched the coil downwards to get resonance on the top end of the band.

Soon enough, I was calling H7H with the linear on, giving it 400 watts. He was about a 5 and 5, and was obviously struggling with high noise because it was taking him ages to hear anyone. My friend Seamus EI3KE was calling him and when H7H said "EI3 again" it took ages for Seamus to make the QSO. But he made it. My immediate thought was: "I have some hope!" H7H then worked a couple of G stations. Again, it took him quite a while to copy each call correctly.

I began calling again 5 Khz down, and within a short time I heard the magic words: "Who is the Echo India Two?" Again, it took a bit of perseverance to get through. There were several overs before the call was copied correctly. But I made it! A rare contact on 80m SSB. Most of my DX contacts on that band are on CW. To make the QSO on the Butternut was a nice treat.

It was a bit ironic that, only three days after putting up the inverted v, here I was working DX on the Butternut! Ah well, it's nice to have the option. And it's good to be working DX from this small garden!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The challenges of 80 metre operation from a small garden

Regular readers of this blog will already know that I operate from a small garden. You will all know that this hasn't prevented or deterred me from working DXCC on every band from 80 metres through 10 metres. My lowly Butternut HF6V, which is 26 feet tall, and ground mounted in a corner of the garden near the wall, has enabled me to operate in a limited capacity on 80m. Through last winter, especially as a result of my participation in the CQWW CW contest in late November, I was able to finally get 100 countries confirmed on that band on LoTW.

But I have never been able to enjoy good operation on 80m because the Butternut is too short and therefore limited in what it can hear. It gets out reasonably well for the DX stations, and the low angle of radiation definitely helps.

A photograph of my nested inverted vees, with labels.
Just this week, I decided to put back up the 80m inverted V, off the same feedpoint as the Vees on 30m and 40m. From previous experience, I knew this would involve some serious dog-legging. (For non amateurs, this means making the wire antenna "turn a corner", so to speak, because there isn't enough room for a straight run of wire that's 66 feet long on each leg. One leg - the "reflector" - is able to get a run down along the side of the house, as far as the gate pillar at the front, although about three feet of it still needs to be dog legged.

The other leg - the "transmit" leg - runs down above the back wall of the garden, and then dog-legs up the side wall of the garden to a point at the back wall of the house under the eave. From there, it is dog-legged again by about three feet and tied off. And the mast (insert word "pole" here!) is only 30 feet at the apex.

It's far from ideal, I know. I bet some of you are trying to picture this all in your head and wondering how I've managed to defy the laws of physics, and indeed the laws of effective radiation of RF fields. So how's it working?

The reflector leg of the 80m inverted v dipole runs down
between the houses and is tied off (dog-legged) at a gate pillar.
Here's a summary of the contacts made last night on CW using just 100 watts: PI4EME, US8UX, EI3HMB, HA5OV, IK6DIN, YU9CF, EI6IL, F5TVG/P, HB9FBA, EI7BA, S51FZ, GM3ZLC, EI2EO, UT8MM, G4LEM, PA1MUC and HB30OK. So it's getting out, as far as Ukraine. Hardly a comprehensive test of its abilities, but the reports coming back were generally 579 or 599 or 599 plus! The previous morning, I had worked N8NA on 100w on CW, so that wasn't bad either, but it's likely that he's got bigger antennas than me.

Time will tell if it's up to the job of making more distant contacts. I will run 400 watts when conditions improve and the band quietens a bit - the QRN here can be s9 at times.

Interestingly, the 80/40/30m nested V system also has some resonance on the lower portion of the 160m band. When I say "some", I mean about 3:1 at best, maybe 3.5:1. It might allow me a limited amount of operation on that band over the next couple of months. I may figure out a way to tune it better for 160m. We will see.

In the meantime, I will keep you posted as to the performance of this compromise antenna system.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Yes!!! Austral Islands worked on 30 metres

It's definitely worth getting out of bed in the mornings!! I got up at 7.30am to see if there was any action on 80 metres, where I have had recent early morning successes with the likes of PJ4 and H7H. With not much happening there (H7H was on 3.520 but already logged this week), I saw TX5D, a suitcase dxpedition to Austral Islands, spotted on 30 metres (10 Mhz). So I QSYd to his frequency and was surprised to hear him coming in strong. I had the linear on, and hit him with the 400 watts, up just 1.15 kcs. Within a short time, he was calling "EI2C?" I gave the call a couple of times, but I knew I was being QRMed because I could hear it with the split on between my dits and dahs. Then he said "Only EI2C". It took a few more attempts, but eventually I could hear him coming back with the magic "EI2KC EI2KC 5NN BK". Oh yes!! I gave him "RRR 5NN TU". That's only the second time I've ever worked Austral Islands, the first being on 17m CW this past summer. Nice to get a rare one into the log, especially when battling with the QRM from the rest of the EU. Above is a video taken a couple of minutes after I had worked him.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

TO2TT Mayotte dxpedition on 15 metres SSB

A short video of the TO2TT on 15m SSB calling for outside Europe. This was shortly after I had worked them for the eighth time. Great dxpedition to Mayotte, and relatively easy to work from Ireland. I have enjoyed chasing both TO2TT and H7H (Nicaragua) during the past few days.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Need help with my next book

The cover of my new novella, 'Land
of the Ever-Living Ones'
Hello all. Please forgive this departure from normal service, but many of you will know that I have a huge interest in writing, and in ancient Ireland and myths and monuments and astronomy. My third book (and my first work of fiction) is almost ready to go to print. It's called 'Land of the Ever-Living Ones'.

Land of the Ever-Living Ones is an extraordinary dialogue between an old man and a young boy that reaches into cosmic and spiritual realms. In this wide-ranging conversation, the man takes the boy on a journey into his own ancestral past, and through lesson, metaphor, story and dream, creates for him a stunning insight into his spiritual existence, his quest for eternity and his experiences of the otherworld.

I will be self-publishing the book both as a print edition and as an eBook for Amazon Kindle. In order to get the printed version done, I need to try to raise some money for this purpose. I have created a page on my Mythical Ireland website where you can donate any amount of money towards this venture, using PayPal or a credit or Visa card. I would be most grateful to my amateur radio friends and followers for any contribution you can make towards this cost. (Estimated currently at €1,500). Here's the link:

Thank you for your support. EI2KC.

Monday, September 30, 2013

A totally unexpected arrival by post

Look what just arrived in the post! Apparently I won a section of the CQWW WPX contest. As far as I can recall, I hardly put two hours into that contest and my very limited participation was just for a bit of fun on CW.

It just demonstrates how easy it is to win a section of a contest in Ireland. There are few dedicated contesters in this country, so the chances are that if you enter a low power single band category you will win it. My score was hardly phenomenal. I see I was only 20th in Europe in that section, which puts a bit of perspective on it.

A pleasant surprise, but this one will be going in the draw with the rest!!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

QSL cards from Antarctica via the bureau

These two cards from the Japanese research expedition in Antarctica arrived at the shack of EI2KC with the latest delivery via the IRTS bureau. They confirm QSOs made on 17m and 20m CW during 2011.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Two milestones reached on Logbook of the World

I have reached two milestones this week on ARRL's Logbook of the World. I have just hit the magic 200 countries confirmed on Phone, and 250 confirmed on CW. My 250th CW confirmation was from H44G, Solomon Islands. My 200th confirmation on Phone was EP3PK in Iran, for a QSO on 20m SSB. That remains my one and only QSO with Iran.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Latest confirmation on eQSL - Tokelau Island

Delighted to see this eQSL card dropping into my inbox. This confirms my one and only slot with Tokelau Island - 20m CW. I already had confirmation via LoTW thankfully.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Latest eQSL arrival - Galapagos Islands!

Delighted to get my latest country confirmed on eQSL - Galapagos Islands. Although not a new DXCC for me, this is a new eQSL confirmation and brings my total number of countries confirmed to 177. I worked him on 17m SSB and also on 15m SSB. Geoffrey is usually QRV at night, between 2100 and 0500 GMT.

Lunchtime portable chat on Three Rock

I went for a nice walk at lunchtime here in Dublin and enjoyed a good QSO with Mike EI2DJ. He said I was a nice strong signal into the EI7TRR Three Rock Repeater from the Naas Road. The Waccom UV5RE Plus is a great little radio, especially considering it cost me less than 40 euro, including delivery. And yes, that's a new price, not second hand. I did buy the larger 3,800mah battery which cost extra, but it was well worth the spend. I have been quite active over the summer, despite the lack of blogging. I have written a novella in that time and am currently editing it for release as an eBook, hopefully in the next month or so. I am also busy clearing a large backlog of QSL cards for the bureau. I sent 400 cards to the outgoing manager on Friday and have since filled out another 100. With about 150 cards still to be processed in the shack, and another delivery on the way, I will be busy with that for a while. All going well, I might get the chance to chase C2 Nauru and XZ1Z Myanmar this week, which will be two new DXCCs for me if I can make a QSO with them.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Austral Islands makes it DXCC #292

As you can probably see, I haven't been doing much radio lately. We've been having a heat wave in Ireland, and it hasn't rained in 16 days. Temperatures have been in the high 20s every day, with scorching sunshine and clear skies . . . until last weekend when it clouded over somewhat.

I have been tremendously busy with other things. Not least of which is my devotion to all things mythical and ancient. I recently received copies of 'The Mythology of Venus', an international collaboration of authors, including myself, with a foreword by Morgan Llywelyn. I have also recently written a novella, my first serious attempt at fiction, and am currently investigating how to get that published. I also took part, with my family, in some parts of the Brigid's Way Pilgrimage, which is based upon a discovery by Richard Moore and I, in our book Island of the Setting Sun.

So not too much time has been spent in front of the radios. In fact, very little. It recently came to my attention that Vadym UT6UD would be operating from Austral Islands (FO-A) which would be a new one for me. I heard him a couple of mornings during the past week, but the pile-ups were exceptional. Thinking that I had missed the opportunity, as he was due to go QRT today, I left it down to bad luck and lack of operating!

But at 6.30am this morning, my phone rang. It was Declan, EI6FR. "Austral is on 17 CW and easily workable" was the short sentence that he uttered, followed by "get out of bed". That I duly did, and made my way quickly down to the shack, where I was very quick to find FO/UT6UD on 17m CW. I programmed the split, and switched on the linear. His split was not as wide as the previous time I had tried him on 17m, so I was hopeful.

Within a short time, I could hear "EI2KC 5NN" and gave him "RR EI2KC 5NN TU". And cé la vie! I was in the log. DXCC #292 was in my log . . . finally!! I have had several opportunities to work FO-A but it never seemed to work out for me. So I am greatly relieved to have another one off the list. Just eight more to hit the magic 300 ! Thanks for the wake-up call Declan! And because I was able to work him pretty quickly, I went back to bed and got another hour's sleep!!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Video: CW QSO into Japan with 100 watts

Above is a short video showing a QSO I made with JA1VLK on 20 metres CW with 100 watts and my hexbeam. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A nice surprise in the post from CQ editors!

Many of you will know that although I enjoy DXing and HF activities, I am not a huge fan of contesting. I rarely participate in contests, maybe three times a year. Most of the time I do that because I want to use the opportunity to work DX that might I not otherwise get the chance to. Last winter, with my DXCC confirmed tally on 80 metres sitting at 89, I decided to enter the CQWW CW contest on that band alone, to see if I could get my total up. I had a great weekend, making something like 560 QSOs with my lowly Butternut HF6V vertical antenna! As the Logbook of the World confirmations rolled in, I eventually made it to 100 confirmed - DXCC on 80m - thanks solely to that contest.

Yesterday, a nice certificate from the editors of CQ magazine arrived in the post, confirming that I won first place in Ireland for 80m high power assisted. Of course, I cannot boast about this too loudly, as I don't think there were any other entries in the section. However, I am still impressed at what can be done with a 26-foot vertical antenna, and am happy to have won the certificate in any case.

Hopefully many more of you will also have received certificates this week. For me, contesting is not about huge antennas and massive power, running for 48 hours non-stop. I could never do that. Money, space and time do not allow it. I have a young family and am unable to contest for long periods. But dipping in and out of contests for a few hours at a time, as I do, can bring its rewards.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A fantastic day with EI13CLAN on the bands

On Saturday, my local radio club, Dundalk Amateur Radio Society (EI7DAR) had exclusive use of the special event callsign EI13CLAN for 24 hours. This is part of an effort to promote the callsign - and by extension the event that EI13CLAN promotes, which is called 'The Gathering'.

Every club is entitled to enter a competition to run the callsign for 24 hours and the club with the most points will win a radio, an Icom IC756PRO. Our club was the first to take up the challenge.

I was one of two CW operators for the 24 hours. We started at midnight on Friday night and ran through the whole of Saturday. I spent a lot of time initally on 20 metres, but moved up the bands during Saturday, working 17m, 15m, 12m, 10m and even 6m for a time. Band conditions were unfortunately quite poor, so most of the action was on 20 metres. I made about a dozen QSOs into Scandinavia on 6 metres but apart from that the band refused to open. 10 metres was very poor. 12 metres had some strong signals for a short time but after about 15 minutes nobody was coming back to the call. 15 metres was dreadful. 17 metres was okay, but even the European and Russian stations were generally weak, and it could take several attempts to get them into the log.

On Saturday evening I went back to 20 metres and turned the hexbeam north north east and pretty soon I had a mini Japan pile-up going, which lasted for about half an hour. That was about the most excitement for the day. The only decent DX was an A9, a VK6 and a 5T. The K index was around 3, and conditions were unfavourable. I made less than five QSOs into the States for the whole 24 hour period, which will demonstrate just how bad the bands were.

However, the club did brilliantly nonetheless. I finished the day with 580 QSOs. One of our digi stations had over 400 QSOs. We had two SSB stations, two digital stations and two CW stations, all running non-stop. We probably finished the day with over 3,000 QSOs. The competition awards three points for a digital QSO, two points for a CW QSO and one for a phone QSO. It will be interesting to see what our final score is.

Congratulations to all the operators involved for such a great effort. It was an enjoyable day, and although it is a competition, it didn't feel like a "contest" as such. We all enjoyed it. The other ops were: Thos EI2JD, Oleg EI7KD, Seamus EI3KE, Don EI6IL, Tom EI9CJ, Jim EI2HJB, Brian EI8EJB and Mark EI6JK.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A couple of milestones reached

I just worked HB0/DJ2IA on 15 metres CW and noticed that 15m was the only band on which I didn't have Liechtenstein. On checking my log progress, I discovered that HB0 is in fact the 250th country I have worked on 15 metres.

This follows hot on the heels of recently passing 200 countries CONFIRMED on 20 metres on ARRL's Logbook of the World. I remember when I was struggling towards 100 confirmations on each of the HF bands. I think 20 metres was the first to come, and I remember in particular that 80 metres was a real struggle. As you can see, I am still sitting on 106 QSLs on that band. But that's okay, because I am only using a Butternut vertical on that band.

The next target to be achieved, by the looks of my LoTW account, is 200 confirmations on phone mode. I am currently on 195. So just five more to go. And that could take months!

On eQSL I have a total of 173 countries confirmed.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

VIDEO: Working my second 6m PSK QSO

This is a video that was recorded live while I worked EA6ES, my second QSO on digital modes on the 50Mhz (6 metre) band. I had just worked EA3AYQ as my first ever 6m digital contact, on PSK31, and could hear a few strong signals from the direction of Spain. You can hear the PSK tones in the video - I left them playing so that you could hear them. EA6ES is in Palma Mallorca in the Balearic Islands. His name is Francisco, as you can see in the video. He didn't mind having a bit of a chat with me, which, although unusual on 6m because the band can close very quickly, was very welcome because it makes the video more interesting in my opinion. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this video, warts and all !

Monday, May 27, 2013

Video: EJ7NET IOTA dxpedition to Aran Islands

This is a short video montage of photos from the EJ7NET IOTA dxpedition to Inis Mór, Aran Islands (EU-006). The video was put together by Gordon GM7WCO, who was one of the team members. I hope you enjoy it !

A bit of fun in CQWW WPX contest

John 9M6XRO, who I worked in the CQWW WPX contest.
I dipped in and out of the CQWW WPX (CW) contest over the weekend, but decided to leave the linear off. I stuck to 20m low power, and worked a total of 268 QSOs, a few on Saturday night and a bit more on Sunday. It was good fun. Highlights include working HD8A in Galapagos, also a VK3, a JH0, a 9M6, a BY5, a VE7 and a VP9. It did take a while sometimes to get through to the distant ones, but it just shows what 100 watts and a hexbeam can do! I don't take part in contests competitively, mostly just for enjoyment, and I had great fun with this one.
My claimed score is 86,240 and I worked 224 prefixes. Hope all of you who took part had fun.

PS: I worked HD8A on 20m SSB tonight, making a total of seven slots now, and I am currently the leading EI with the Galapagos dxpedition!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Video: SV2ASP/A Monk Apollo on 17 CW

This is a short video showing Monk Apollo, SV2ASP/A on Mount Athos, CQing on 17 metres CW. I worked him with 100 watts as conditions were good. This entity in Greece has just one operator, Monk Apollo, who works from Docheiariou Monastery in Mount Athos, Greece. You can read more about him on his page.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Galapagos Islands (HD8A) is a brand new DXCC

The Galapagos Islands, from where HD8A are currently
operating. I've worked them as DXCC #291.
Last night, having returned from my sojourn with EJ7NET on Inis Mór, I was sitting looking through photographs from the dxpedition when my friend Ark, EI9KC, sent me a text message to say HD8A was on 15 metres CW. He knew I needed it as a new one.

Sure enough, I switched on the radio and turned the beam and I could hear HD8A on 21.013.5 Mhz, working split. I was soon calling him about 3 Khz up and, within a very short time, I was in the log! What's more, Ark made a recording of the moment HD8A worked me, which can be heard below:

This morning, HD8A were on 17 metres CW, so I put on a split of 6 Khz, and worked them within a very shot time. I'm delighted to get this new country into my log. I've had three new ones in the space of about a week - Turkmenistan, Norfolk Island and Galapagos. Yet again the SP7IDX broadband hexbeam proves its worth!!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

EJ7NET Aran Island dxpedition is now QRT

The EJ7NET IOTA dxpedition to Inis Mór, Aran Islands (EU-006), is now QRT. We have taken down the antennas and we also took the official dxpedition group shot, which you can see above. Unfortunately the HF bands were in dire condition today and not many contacts were made. We took a tour of the island in the afternoon and visited Dun Aonghasa, the dramatic stone fort on the edge of 100-metre cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. We worked 4,000 QSOs, including over 200 on 6 metres and a couple of hundred on digital modes, including JT65. Thank you to everyone who worked us, especially those who had difficulty copying us. There was very little QRM and all ops we worked were very well behaved. 73 from Inis Mór from EJ7NET - EI6FR, EI5IQ, EI2GX, EI7DSB, EI3HA, EI2KC, GM3YEH, GM7WCO, HB9DGV and HB9ASZ. QSL information is on our page.

Video: Barry GM3YEH changes bands on the "Iona" dipole

This is a short video showing Barry GM3YEH changing bands on his homebrew multi-band dipole, which he calls the "Iona" dipole because he first used it on an IOTA expedition to the Island of Iona. The bands are changed by plugging or unplugging connectors. It is a very handy antenna for small dxpeditions like ours.

We've had digi QSOs on PSK, RTTY and JT65!

A JT65 QSO with W1YIF.
We've endeavoured to try to work some QSOs on digital modes while on Inis Mór. Thanks to the efforts of Liam, EI7DSB, we had several QSOs on the weak signal mode JT65. Liam demonstrated extraordinary patience while using this mode, plucking out QSOs at a rate of one QSO every six minutes! He also enjoyed his first foray into PSK31, which he enjoyed thoroughly. Just now EJ7NET is active on 20 metres RTTY.

Band conditions have been such that we've tended to use more CW than phone, with reasonable success. We don't have a total QSO tally at this stage, but we should know tomorrow morning when we export all the ADIF files from the various laptops and merge them into one complete log.

Gordon GM7WCO on 17m CW.
80 metres has been very poor. For two nights now we've tried 80m phone and CW, with very few callers coming back. 40 metres has been much better, particularly on CW, while the bands that have seen the highest Q rate have been 17 metres, 20 metres and 30 metres. A sustained sporadic E opening on 6 metres yesterday evening lasted several hours and we now have well over 200 QSOs on that band. We are using a small halo antenna for 6m, and were heard all over EU yesterday, from Scandinavia to Iberia to the Black Sea.

A very short video showing Liam explaining a JT65 QSO.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Band conditions poor today, but 6 metres is open now

Tony EI2GX caught the only bit of decent action on HF this
morning with a stint on 20 metres SSB.
Just a quick update from Inis Mór from the QTH of EJ7NET. HF bands have been poor today, and seemed to take something of a nosedive. However, we have been compensated with a great opening on 6 metres, with CW and SSB contacts into many European countries from IO53DD. We hope to be active on 80 metres SSB this evening, following several requests from EI and G stations, so keep an ear out.

With poor conditions on the bands, some of us abandoned the shack for some exercise, with several of us taking walks to different parts of the island. Myself, Gordon GM7WCO and Dermot EI5IQ took a hike down to the beach to get some photographs of the sea spray. The heavens opened while we were there. Photographic efforts produced mixed results! Gordon and I then went to see a ruined 8th century church and the weather picked up nicely, with strong sunshine but strong winds too.
Rush hour traffic on Inis Mór . . .

As I write, I have been on 6m working a pile-up and now Liam EI7DSB has taken over and is still getting plenty of contacts thanks to a good opening there. Our chef Tony EI3HA made a beautiful homemade vegetable soup for us a while ago and has now begun working on our main meal of the day.

A beautiful night on Inis Mór

The lights from the mainland with stars and clouds last night.
Our ground plane antennas with the Moon and Jupiter behind.
Our cottage on Inis Mór under the stars in twilight last night.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Some action on 6 metres today for EJ7NET

We enjoyed two openings on 6 metres today.
We had a couple of openings on 6 metres today, one this morning at around 9am local time (08:00z) and another one which is ongoing at 7pm here (18:00z). We have made our first QSOs on CW on that band, having used only SSB this morning. There has been activity on 20 metres SSB today following the completion of the CQM contest. We did more 40 metres SSB too, including a call into the Irish Radio Transmitters Society (IRTS) news on 7.123 Mhz after 11am. We worked a good few EI and G stations on 40 during the day. 17 metres continues to be very active, with a lot of CW contacts made on that band in the past 24 hours. Some late night 80m CW was done last night, but apart from a few North American stations, the traffic was mainly from G and near EU.

We have just had our main meal of the day, consisting of roast
Tony EI3HA preparing our main meal.
beef, vegetables and gravy, washed down with red wine, courtesy of our chef, Tony EI3HA. Who could ask for more? We have an IOTA dxpedition in a thatched cottage with all mod cons, including central heating, hot water and broadband access, and we are eating like kings! I am getting to know the guys a bit better. The late night chat over a couple of whiskeys last night was very enjoyable.

I managed to find time to visit a wedge tomb and stone fort which are located on the hill not far from the QTH here. These are structures which date to between 3,000 and 4,000 years ago. It was quite dull up there and overcast, but when I came back to the house the sun came out....

I am impressed at how different things are here. There is not much vehicular traffic at all. It is quiet, and beautiful, surreal almost, and there is no pollution so we are breathing fresh Atlantic air. While I can't imagine living here in the depths of winter - what would one do with one's time in the driving rain (apart from ham radio) - I would say that the island is a great place to come to unwind and get away from civilisation. We do not have a television, so we're not really following events in the world all that closely. We do know, however, that there is a national bus strike on, but that's because some of us have had a peek at the news headlines online.

A bird's eye view of the EJ7NET shack. On left is Tony EI2GX working 40m SSB,
while on right are Rolf HB9DGV and Bernie HB9ASZ working 20m CW and 17m CW.

A couple of the guys are interested in photography. If we get a clear evening, we are going to try to get a nice picture of the QTH in twilight, or against the backdrop of the stars, if the weather allows it.

A wee word of thanks to all those - in EI and beyond - who have spotted us on the cluster or mentioned us on Facebook and given us a bit of extra traffic. Much appreciated.