This morning I had a real dilemma. I was in the shack at about 7.50am and could see that some European ops were spotting ZL9HR (Campbell Island) on 17m CW. So I switched on the radio and listened but could not hear anything, except for the occasional slight hint of CW way off in the noise.
The problem? I had to go to Dublin today, and was planning to leave at 9.15am, to meet friends at 10am in the city. The dilemma was simple - either the signal from ZL9HR needed to come up, or I wouldn't get to work them.
While making breakfast etc. I kept an ear on the radio in the shack. I could hear tones way off in the murk, but nothing that would allow me to work them or copy them. I had the hexbeam pointed long path (although there is less than 300km in the difference between SP and LP because ZL9 is almost exactly opposite Ireland). There had been nothing on the short path. So long path seemed best.
At 8.45am I had to do the daily "school run". By that time, the signal from ZL9HR hadn't improved. I could return to the shack at 9am, but would have to leave again at about 9.15am. I did the school run, and to my pleasant surprise, when I returned at 9am the signal from Campbell had improved slightly. They were NOT moving the needle at all, and the QSB was considerable.
I had the linear ready for action, and listened around and it seemed he was generally listening 2-3 Khz up. I heard him working an EA6 and so I decided to call slightly below where the EA6 had worked him. Within no time at all, I could hear - quite faintly - "EI2KC 5NN" and came back with my usual "RR EI2KC 5NN TU". And that was it - I was in the log, with just moments to spare before heading out the door. I made a very quick video (below - excuse the poor quality, but it was made in a rush) showing his signal strength, or lack thereof! Having logged him, I switched all the equipment off, shut the computer down, locked up the house and set the alarm.
And boy, did I have a smile on my face while driving to Dublin!
That was slot number four for me, on top of 20m CW, 20m SSB and 30m CW. The dxpedition finishes on Sunday, so any more slots will be a bonus but I am very happy with what I have. ZL9 is my 281st DXCC worked from this humble station.
Tomorrow morning, if the weather is good enough, I will put up my Yaesu G-450C rotator onto the mast to turn the hexbeam - not on my own, of course, but hopefully with the help of Tony EI4DIB and Pat EI2HX. Up to now, I have been using the "Armstrong Method" HI HI. You can see a video of my new rotator below: