Saturday, August 29, 2015

My video from the EJ7NET Gola Island trip

This is a video put together from pictures of the recent EJ7NET activation of Gola Island, Co. Donegal. I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Video from our activation of Gola Island by Gordon GM7WCO

This lovely video featuring a mixture of photos and video footage with music from the EJ7NET activation of Gola Island was created by team member Gordon GM7WCO. We hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Video - 40 metres SSB pile-up as EJ7NET nears QRT time

What a phenomenal last evening on Gola. I sat at the radio after dinner with the last radio and antenna remaining and started working stations, slowly at first, many from the UK. But as the evening wore down the pile-up got bigger and bigger and bigger, until I eventually had to split. I'm not sure what the QSO count was but the conditions were fantastic. It sounded at times like all of Europe was calling.

This is me at my very best. I love SSB pile-ups. I like giving everyone the chance to get in the log. Sometimes this requires me to calm things down, when some stations are calling out of turn. But generally it was quite orderly and I hope that everyone that tried made it into the log. This is just a snippet of the action, from early in the pile-up. As you can hear, I struggled a bit with the German mobile station, but I made sure I got him 100% right before moving on . . .

EJ7NET Gola pile-up on 40 metres SSB

We spotted this video of last night's 40m SSB pile-up on YouTube. Thanks to the HAM RADIO channel.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

EJ7NET Gola Island activation is QRT with 4,500+ QSOs

It's the end of the Gola activation. The EJ7NET operation from the island is now officially QRT. All stations have been dismantled and the antennas are put away. We had a fantastic run on 40 metres SSB this evening, with great conditions into the UK and Europe and a sustained pile-up. I was glad to have had the opportunity to work the pile for a couple of hours and it was exhilarating.

These are our final statistics. As you can see, we had a huge amount of action on 40, 30 and 20 metres, with total CW QSOs dominating at 3,252 compared with 1,299 phone contacts. We managed just 17 QSOs on 6 metres, which was not bad considering the band never really opened. 15 metres was a huge disappointment, but we got some nice runs into Japan on 17 CW on Monday and Tuesday around lunchtime which helped build up the total. 30 metres was a real "bread and butter" band, with almost constant activity. We feel that our location close to the Atlantic Ocean certainly helped our Q rate.

We celebrated our significant total with a nice meal cooked by Tony EI3HA consisting of half pounder beef burgers washed down with a glass or two of red wine.

The weather turned inclement again and it was raining while the antennas were being taken down. The team has to retire early because we have to be up at dawn so that we can get all our gear down to the pier where the boat back to the mainland arrives at 9am.

Gordon made a few videos of me running the 40m SSB pile-up. Because I'm on limited mobile phone data, I'll wait until I get home to upload them so look out for a further update tomorrow.

Empty desks . . . the Gola activation is now QRT.

EJ7NET makes over 4,000 QSOs in three days

It's official. EJ7NET's Gola activation has logged over 4,000 QSOs in less than 72 hours. The station tear-down takes place this evening at around 18:00 local time. We might get a couple of hundred more by then. There was another opening to Japan on 17 metres this afternoon, with about two dozen or so JAs logged.

Rolf operating portable from the cliff tops on Gola Island.
EJ/HB9DGV/P on Gola.
To celebrate our success, the EJ7NET QSL manager for the Gola activity, Rolf HB9DGV, brought his Elecraft KX1 to the top of the cliffs on the western end of the island and made about 30 QSOs as EJ/HB9DGV/P. He was running just 3 watts into a Sota dipole. Two of the QSOs were transatlantic.

While Rolf was up on the summit, accompanied by Declan and Gordon, Liam had a good run on 40 metres SSB, working mainly UK stations, helped by Tony who took over and continued the run.

Spectacular dawn on Gola as we exceed 3,000 QSOs

The dawn broke on Gola Island, off the Donegal coast, this morning at around 6.40am. As you can see, it was worth getting up early for. We've exceeded 3,000 QSOs here at EJ7NET, and in fact we're almost at 3,500, which, given the conditions, we're well pleased with. Remember that we're a barefoot wire antenna operation. There are no linears or beams at EJ7NET. The best DX yesterday was a run to JA on 17 metres and there was a VK6 on 20 metres. We have 16 QSOs in our 6 metre log, which I think is more than we had on Cape Clear last year.

The team is in good spirits. The food continues to be excellent, and the camaraderie is great. We hit 80 metres last night but found it somewhat disappointing. I was on 80 cw around midnight working whatever stations were there to be worked. We have to remember it's still only August, so the wintertime DX is just not there on 80 and it has been quite noisy, even at this QTH which is removed from all the electrical interference of busy civilisation.

We're planning tear down this evening, as we have to leave the island in the morning. So if you haven't worked us yet and want to get us in the log, it has to be today!

Our QSL manager for this activation is Rolf, HB9DGV.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Views of our lovely QTH on Gola Island EU-121

With the heavy rain having abated today, there was an opportunity to wander about Gola Island. This presented a chance to get a couple of photos of our operation headquarters at Portacrin Cottage. As you can see, it's very close to the sea. If you look carefully enough at the top image, you will see the slightly forlorn Sota pole - the one we repaired this morning after overnight damage. It's holding up well despite continuous stormy winds.

The above photo was taken from the east, looking towards another island in the distance. There are quite a few smaller islands in this area which are uninhabited and might make for possible future locations for IOTA activity. Just saying! ;)

Liam EI7DSB and Gordon GM7WCO hard at work in the shack. The satellite
dish is NOT one of our antennas!

Rain, wind and mixed propagation. Oh, and antenna damage!

It's Monday morning and overnight we've had some very strong wind. As a result, there was some slight damage to the antenna system. The Sota pole holding up our 20/15m wire vertical broke in the wind and needed to be repaired, while the 30m wire vertical came loose from its pole. However, a short time later we were up and running again.

Sunday night was good on the bands, with decent action on 40, 30 and 20. Most of the activity has been on CW, but Liam EI7DSB is quite active on SSB, especially on 20 metres. We passed the 2,000 QSO mark last night. There was some action too on 6 metres. We made 11 QSOs, some with EI stations and there were some Europeans who made it into the log, including several from Croatia and Italy, and one each from Poland and Slovenia. We will keep a listening watch on 50 Mhz during our stay using a dedicated FT897 and a two-element beam.

Band conditions this morning are not that good. After a promising start with a good rate on 20 cw, the action died off. 30m has been OK, and 40m has been very hit and miss.

I've received information from Peter EI7CC that Gola Island was in fact activated before, by Paddy EJ7GK, in 1997. So we're not the first!!! Thanks for the information Peter. At least we know now!

The food has been excellent, thanks to our chef, Tony EI3HA, who has been looking after us very well. We will surely put on a few pounds while we're here, sitting around working radio and eating all the time!

I took a walk to the western end of the island with Declan EI6FR yesterday. There are fantastic views from the top of the cliffs out into the Atlantic Ocean.

A splint is added to support the broken Sota pole.
Roast beef for Sunday dinner. Yum.

A card EJ7GK to EI7CC from his Gola activation in 1997.
Anthony EI2KC at the edge of the cliffs on Gola.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Weather terrible, but band conditions good

Just in case you thought all I was doing was taking photos and blogging,
here's a photo of me operating on 20cw, with Liam on 40 SSB behind.
It's the second day of our operation at Gola Island and the EJ7NET team is in good form. The QSO rate on 20m and 30m CW this morning was pretty good. Declan EI6FR was first up (as usual!) and was on 30 cw. I joined a while later on 20 cw and found the going pretty good. There is slow fading of some signals but generally Europe and Russia were reasonably strong, and there was a good few QSOs from the UK as well.

The weather is terrible. It's raining heavily and has been for several hours. However, this has not dampened team spirits, especially with decent propagation. We are about to set up the 6 metre beam so hopefully we might make a few QSOs on that band during our activation.

We have passed 1,000 QSOs already which is great. We're hoping band conditions will remain good so that we can work as many of you as possible.

My view from the 20m CW station!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Excellent start for Gola Island activation

Three stations active tonight from Gola.
We've had an excellent start to the EJ7NET Gola Island activation. At 10pm local time, we already have 550 QSOs in the log, mainly on 40m, 30m and 20m. Conditions on 20 have been strange, with Liam EI7DSB commenting that sometimes the band appears to be shutting down but then comes alive again, and some stations are affected by deep QSB. 30m has been flying, with several contacts into Japan. I had an hour or so on 40cw, and it was hopping. I had to run split because there was a good pile-up.

The QTH is excellent. It is located on a rocky bluff overlooking the ocean, with excellent take-off, particularly towards Europe, but with no real blockages in any direction. Proximity to salt water is undoubtedly helping us.

Tomorrow morning we are setting up a two-element beam for six metres, and we intend to monitor that band during our stay, with a dedicated station, perhaps running beacon mode until there might be an opening.

Gordon GM7WCO brought his Pro II !!! Lovely.

Rolf makes the first QSO from Gola Island for EJ7NET

Rolf HB9DGV makes our first QSO, with F5TBL, on 30m CW.
Rolf makes the first QSO of the EJ7NET 2015 activation of Gola Island, Co. Donegal. We believe this may be the first ever amateur radio contact from this island. Do you know if it was ever activated before? Any information to

The EJ7NET team has landed on Gola Island, Co. Donegal

The EJ7NET 2015 team (l-r): Anthony EI2KC, Rolf HB9DGV, Gordon GM7WCO, Liam EI7DSB, Tony EI3HA and Declan EI6FR on the boat just before landing on Gola Island, Co. Donegal.
The EJ7NET Westnet DX group has arrived safely on Gola Island, off County Donegal, for what we believe might be the first ever amateur radio activation from this island. The IOTA designator is EU-121 and the Maidenhead Locator square is IO55tc.

We have brought all the gear ashore and three stations are being set up for action. We have made our first few QSOs on 30 metres CW and expect to get a 20m SSB station up and running this evening. We also intend to monitor 6 metres and hopefully make QSOs there, starting tomorrow.

The team is led by Declan Craig EI6FR, and comprises this year of Rolf HB9DGV, Gordon GM7WCO, Liam EI7DSB, Tony EI3HA and me, Anthony EI2KC.

The weather was good for antenna erection and the living quarters are nice. Expect further updates between now and Wednesday morning, when we leave the island to return home.

The first antenna, a multiband wire vertical, is erected
by Rolf HB9DGV and Declan EI6FR.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Annual IOTA trip is heading to Donegal this year

Gola Island off the NW coast of Ireland (© Bing Maps)
Tomorrow, Saturday 22nd August, I'm heading to a very special location with members of the EJ7NET Westnet Group. This year, we're activating Gola Island, off the County Donegal coast, for our annual island activation. It doesn't unfortunately, have its own IOTA designator, but is part of the EU-121 Irish Coastal Islands group. However, it is a rare island (I'm not sure if it's ever been activated before) and the Maidenhead Locator square is IO55tc.

This year's team comprises Declan EI6FR, Liam EI7DSB, Tony EI3HA, Gordon GM7WCO, Rolf HB9DGV, and me. We are planning to have a 6m station, so if there's any activity on that band we will do our best to work as many as possible. Band conditions in advance of the trip have not been wonderful. Let's hope the propagation picks up a bit over the weekend.

If not, we will probably spend a fair amount of time on 40m and 20m like last year on Cape Clear when conditions were poor. But we'll see. Depending on 3G/4G availability, I may be able to post updates on the blog, but I won't know that until I'm actually on the island tomorrow afternoon. So keep visiting back and if I'm able to post updates I will.

I will be bringing the camera equipment to take photos and videos. Hopefully I will be able to share some of these with you during the trip. If not, I will have to do a big blog upload afterwards!