|Members of the FT4TA team in action.|
This was a tough dxpedition to work. Part of the reason for this is because they were a small team - seven ops running four stations. They managed over 70,000 QSOs in ten days. Not bad. Conditions for them were very challenging. When they tried to work North America only, the EU jammers would start causing deliberate QRM (DQRM). Mind you, the DQRM was there at many times when they weren't working NA/SA only, including the now famous (or infamous) EAHSYL, whoever that is. I doubt that they are even based in Spain, but their efforts to send what might be EA5SYL never work because they send four dits (a H) instead of five (a 5).
I am very, very glad to have been at the radio on two weekdays during this activation. I had a week's holiday and was in the lucky position to be able to call them on their first day of operation. Indeed, after just a short time trying on 10 metres SSB, I worked them on that Friday morning using my trusty Antron 99 antenna, a fibreglass vertical antenna that is also used by many 27 Mhz CB operators around the world. I worked FT4TA on a +39 Khz split. Amazing stuff. I also managed a QSO on 17 metres SSB that evening, meaning I had them in the log twice on their first day. But then the weekend came, and all hell broke loose. The pile-ups grew massively. The CW pile-ups were 25 Khz wide. The SSB pile-ups, in some cases, were 50 Khz wide. All the weekday workers were playing radio for the weekend, and it became almost impossible to get a QSO. By the most extraordinary luck, they QSYd from 20 metres SSB to 20m RTTY, and I called them before there was a big pile-up. I managed a QSO at 00:40 (twenty minutes to one in the morning) on Sunday morning, November 2nd. Happy days. Now I had three slots and two modes - SSB and RTTY.
I was fully sure that the pile-ups would start to settle down as we went into the Monday, but they didn't. The intensity of the piles remained, all through the week, right up until the moment they went QRT. This eighth-most-wanted DXCC, a small island in the Indian Ocean of Madagascar, was in huge demand around the globe. In fairness to the FT4TA team, they did make an effort to work different areas of the world. After spending the whole of each of the first few mornings working EU, they would then ask for NA/SA only in the afternoon. Incredibly, European operators started moaning about this on the clusters, asking such things as "why NA only" and suggesting that the Tromelin ops were favouring the US because that's where their sponsors were located!! And not a word about the fact that they had spent the whole morning working Europe only. There is an increasing belligerence among EU ops that I don't like. They want it all. They want to work the DX on the bands and slots that they need, without taking cognisance of the needs and aims of the dxpedition and other hams around the world. And when the dxpedition does something contrary to their wishes, they put up nasty comments on the cluster. It's clear that some hams need to grow up. And what about the usual request spots? Oh my god. If I see another "please 20m RTTY" or "Good time for EU 40 CW" etc etc, I will throw all my equipment in a skip and take up fishing. Do they think the dx ops are sitting there, in a shack in Tromelin, watching the cluster, wondering who wants what slot? I don't think so.
|After the final log upload today, I find I have a total of nine slots, which is|
fantastic. I am missing a 15 cw and 20 cw QSO. Who can complain?
It's wonderful to have this rare one in the log. In most cases, DXCC in the Indian Ocean are relatively easy to work from EI. But the intensity of the pile-ups and the unfortunate QRM and regular QRXing made this a difficult one to bag. Well done to the FT4TA team for seeing it through to the end. Remember, you can't keep all of the people happy all of the time. But you've certainly put a smile on the face of this operator!!!
Paul, VK4MA, has some very interesting thoughts also on the dxpedition.