Saturday, March 15, 2014

ZL7 Chatham Island in the log - DXCC #304

Chatham Island and the QTH of ZL7/OE2SNL
It's half past seven AM. Yes, 7.30 in the morning. And I'm sitting here blogging. Why am I not in bed, enjoying a bit of extended sleep after a busy week at work? I'll tell you why. I got an alarm call at 7.05am. And when I say an alarm call, I mean a phone call, the purpose of which was to wake me up!! That most persistent and energetic DXer, Declan EI6FR, had just sent me a text message, which reads as follows:

"Wake up!! zl7 on 7006.3 wrked up 3.5".

His phone call was merely a way of ensuring that I read the text. I was glad for the phone call, because I hadn't heard the text alert. I jumped out of the bed. I always find it funny how I'm so slow to crawl out of the scratcher when it's a work day, but if there's rare DX to be nabbed, I jump out of the bed as if it was full of snakes!!

Anyhow, straight down to the shack and immediately the equipment was switched on. When you're still half asleep it can be difficult to get everything right! Nowadays when something rare is on, the very first button to be pressed is the 'on/off' button on the Acom 1000 linear. That takes two and a half minutes to warm up, which can be the difference between getting the DX entity and not getting it. Then the power supply, then the IC-756PRO, and then the laptop. All in that order. Oh yes, must remember to switch the antenna selector from the hexbeam over to the inverted v dipoles.

As soon as the rig came on, I selected 40 metres and went to 7.005.3, but could hear nothing. So I rang Declan for clarification. "Are you hearing them?" I asked. "Yes, 7.006.3, up about 3". Yes Anthony. 7.006.3, not 7.005.3. I was still waking up!!

Franz OE2SNL
Going to 7.006.3, I could hear CW immediately. There was Franz, ZL7/OE2SNL, a member of the forthcoming ZL7AAA dxpedition who is already on Chatham Island operating under his own callsign with the ZL7/ prefix. I could hear that he didn't have a significant pile-up. He was initially working about 3 up and then dropped to just 1 up. By the time the linear was ready, he was moving back up. I dialled in 7.009.28 on the second VFO and began calling.

A couple of minutes later I could hear that sweet music. "EI2?" And so I sent him the call a few times. Then I heard "EI2KC 5NN 5NN K", so I gave him "RRR EI2KC 5NN 5NN TU" and he came back again with "EI2KC TU" and a couple of dits. DXCC #304 is in my log!!! Wow. An unexpected joy. And on 40 metres. What a great signal he had. He was lifting the needle, and there was none of that Arctic flutter one might expect from such a distant station whose signal was likely coming over the pole. My small antennas really can do the trick for me sometimes. The QSO was at 07.16UTC, during which time EI was already in daylight and the grey line had passed. I was glad to get him when I did. A couple of minutes later he announced that he was going QRT.

And now, at 07:41UTC, I am going back to bed to catch up on some more sleep!!

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