Thursday, October 29, 2015

3B7FA St. Brandon in the log - another ATNO, #315

St. Brandon is a remote archipelago in the Indian Ocean.
I knew 3B8FA was heading to St. Brandon in the Indian Ocean for some holiday-style operation as 3B7FA. I knew from reading the blurb about it that it would be tough work trying to get him as an All-Time New One (ATNO). The main reason for my apprehension was the fact that Patrice (Pat) operates generally only PSK63 or SSTV, with some occasional SSB activity. And I knew if he appeared on air all of Europe would be calling him.

There were some major 3B7 activations in 2007, but that was before I got my licence, so I missed out. I've never worked this entity before.

And so, when Pat appeared on 15 metres PSK63 yesterday (Wednesday), there was chaos. He was on simplex  and they kept calling and calling and calling him, with no time for listening. How was anyone going to make a QSO? I could occasionally decode Pat's reports in the gaps, but most of the time it was impossible to know who was being called or worked.

And when he appeared on the same band and mode again today, I didn't expect much, except QRM. And so it went, for a while, until he started calling "UP". So I tried split and called him one kHz or so up from his own TX QRG. This didn't appear to be working. Then I noticed his own TX frequency was moving about, and so a game of cat and mouse ensued.

This went on for ages, until I finally figured it out. He wasn't listening on a split. What he was trying to do was to get people to spread out so that he could pick out individual streams on the waterfall. A clever ploy! I picked him up a few times, moving around, but couldn't get that magic QSO.

Then I saw Erik EI4KF calling him and I saw the following (I didn't get a 100% decode, but close enough):

EI4KF TU  599tg99 EI4KF  pse c rt-- 

So I called immediately where Erik had worked him. Here is the somewhat imperfect print of the QSO:

3B7FA de EI2KC EI2KC  k
¨wci I
EI2NU  5599 EI2KCapse K
14:19:43> Main
3B7FA de EI2KC 599 599 EI2KC TNX K

  QSL TU 73!!
It initially looked like EI2NU but the second call is handy because if there is QSB you get two chances of seeing what he is actually sending.

I honestly didn't think I had a chance of getting Pat into the log, given the QRM, but I am chuffed and delighted to say that DXCC #315 is in my log. It's a great relief and delight for me.

I later saw Pat's print (briefly) on 20 metres SSTV, a mode I have only used once or twice in the six years I've been licenced. I did try to work him but being at the "back" of Europe, so to speak, I didn't have much of a chance against the big continental stations, some of whom, again, called and called and called with no time for receiving or decoding...... I sent what I thought was a fairly apt image given my interest in photography and ancient Ireland. It shows Newgrange, a 5,000-year-old Stone Age monument near where I live. I'm not sure if Pat received the picture of Newgrange, but ah well, I am happy with one QSO. Actually, over the moon.


  1. Nice DX chasing story Anthony. Great SSTV picture. Have been SSTVing in the past but is not my mode. Did some experiments with digital SSTV as well. I worked 3B7C in 2007 on 20 and 15m according to my log. Congrats with the ATNO. 73, Bas

    1. Thanks Bas. In all honesty I thought this would be one ATNO that I would miss, but I think I got lucky. I'm off work this week so I was at home at the right time! As regards SSTV, it's something I am interested in but, like JT65, it takes a long time to make a QSO, so I wouldn't use it very often.

  2. Hi Tony,just read your 3B7 DX chasing story,I'm very
    happy we finally made it.It was a wonderful trip,
    hope to make it again.
    Best regards,73s.


All comments are moderated - so spam will not get through.