Wednesday, January 20, 2016

VP8STI South Sandwich Island in the log - ATNO - DXCC #318!

I didn't want to blog about it until I saw my call sign in the log, but I am definitely in the log of VP8STI, South Sandwich Island. As of this moment, I actually have three QSOs, but only one of them is in their online log so far. I'm delighted to have worked them on 17 metres CW, on 20 metres CW and on 30 metres CW.

South Sandwich was an All-Time New One (ATNO) for me. This is DXCC #318 worked. I should also point out that it's possibly DXCC #319. I think I worked FT4XU on Kerguelen Island on January 4th, but due to QSB and QRM I'm not 100% certain of the QSO. And his QSL manager does not yet have the log, so I cannot check. I might not know until February whether the QSO was a good one. So right now I stand on either 318 worked or 319 worked.

Now before anyone goes getting excited, thinking about the honour roll (I have 310 DXCC confirmed), there are two entities which I have little hope of confirming - EZ Turkmenistan and 5A Libya. I've worked both, but Turkmenistan doesn't allow ham radio and therefore QSOs are invalid for DXCC. And I worked 5A1AL in 2013, at a time when Libya was in disarray, and due to the uncertainty of the situation there, the QSOs I made with him - on four different bands - are null and void for awards purposes.

So at this moment in time, with 318 worked, the most I can hope for is that I can confirm 316. That still leaves me 14 entities off the Honour Roll - and that could take years to achieve!

In the meantime, K5P Palmyra has proved very elusive here, and in a lot of Europe, so I am very very glad for that one QSO. Imagine, it could be years before Palmyra is on the air again.

UPDATE: At 23:23UT, local time 11.23pm, I just worked VP8STI on 20 metres SSB! He is working both NA and EU. Fabulous conditions. And right now they have a good signal on 40m CW too.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

A few nice cards received via the bureau

I've just received a delivery of QSL cards from the IRTS bureau. There were some nice ones, which are pictured above. Included in the bunch was a card from E51MCA, South Cook Islands, and my first ever card from Kyrgyzstan, from EX/HB9DUR. There was also a card from Minami Torishima, from JG8NQJ/JD1. Other countries included South Korea, West Malaysia, Kuwait, Svalbard, Ogasawara, Chile and Monaco.

Friday, January 15, 2016

K5P Palmyra is in my log - ATNO and DXCC #317!!

I'm delighted to be able to tell you that I have made a successful QSO with the K5P dxpedition to Palmyra Island in the mid Pacific. They have been QRV since Tuesday and their signals into Europe have been very poor. I didn't think I was going to be able to make a contact. They were very poor on 20 metres CW when I picked them up this evening but a mixture of luck and perseverance helped me through.

As with all these far-distant rare ATNOs, it's always a priority just to make ONE QSO. Just one contact will do, to get the new entity in the log. As you might remember, with Chesterfield Island it looked like I wasn't going to make it - until the very last day. That experience was a sobering one. The thought of missing a rare one (Palmyra is number nine on the Clublog most-wanted DXCC list) was in my mind again, especially with all the derogatory DX cluster spots in the past couple of days from European stations who have so far been unable to hear K5P.

So with the beam at 320 degrees, I began to pick up their signal with darkness setting in here. But they were very weak. Eventually I could hear them well enough to pick up partial calls, and the split became obvious when I heard a couple of EU stations going back to them about 3.5Khz or so up.

So I called them a few times and then heard the magic "2KC" and so gave my call a couple of times. Then it sounded like EU2VC??? and then EI2??? until eventually my call was given EI2KC EI2KC 5NN and I went back with the RRRR 5NN 5NN TU.

In the K5P log with some of Ireland's top DXers.
Even if I don't get another contact, I don't mind. Getting the DXCC logged is of paramount importance. I'm delighted also that they uploaded the logs fairly quickly and I can confirm I am in their log - one of just ten Irish stations to make it through so far.

I was contacted shortly after the QSO by my friend and fellow DXer Ark EI9KC, who said not only was the QSO 100%, but he had a recording of it. Here it is (my thanks to Ark!):

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Very glad to receive a LoTW QSL from 3B7FA

I'm delighted to have just received QSL confirmation from Patrice (Pat) 3B8FA for a QSO I had with him when he operated from St. Brandon as 3B7FA in late October last. He was at that time a brand new DXCC for me (ATNO), number 315 worked. And now his QSL on ARRL's Logbook of the World (LoTW) is my 306th DXCC entity confirmed on LoTW, out of a total of 317 worked. The QSO was made using the PSK63 digital mode and the story of the contact can be read here.

A QSL from Pat for a French shortwave listener for his 3B7FA activation.
I also worked VK9WA, Willis Island, in November, as DXCC #316. Just last week, I am pretty sure I had a QSO with FT4XU on Kerguelen Island, although I'm not 100% certain of the contact because of QSB and QRM. If the QSO is confirmed, that would be DXCC #317.

Currently I am chasing another possible All-Time New One (ATNO) in the form of K5P on Palmyra Island, but the chase is proving difficult because I have not heard them yet! This dxpedition to the very rare DX entity of Palmyra (#2 on Europe's most wanted list) is using vertical antennas, and so far only the big stations in Ireland have heard and worked them, including EI6IL and EI2CN. Ark EI9KC worked them from the EI1Y contest station near Naas in Kildare.

I hope to hear them at some stage - if I can hear them, I will call them. Around 5-6pm local time seemed to provide the best opportunity on 20 metres CW.

Patrice 3B8FA.

Monday, January 11, 2016

ZL9A Antipodes Islands (IOTA OC-286) logged on 20m SSB

The ZL9A IOTA dxpedition to OC-286, Antipodes Islands (DX entity ZL9 Auckland & Campbell), was a short-lived affair, and it was certainly one of those activations that I thought I would miss. I had a very poor copy on them on Friday morning on both long and short paths and they faded out quickly. On Saturday morning I was unable to work them due to work commitments. So it came to Sunday, and they were going QRT on Sunday night!

Why do I regularly seem to cut these things very fine?

On Sunday, despite the fact that many Europeans were commenting on the cluster that ZL9A was strong on the long path, I found that their short path signal was much stronger on 20 metres SSB. At first, around 9am, they were very weak, But by 10am they were romping in. And all the time they were very poor on the long path. A number of UK stations worked them on the short path, so I knew the pipeline to our part of the world was opening.

The pile-up was substantial, but mostly confined to 5kHz up and 10kHz up, and although there were stations calling in between, the ZL9A op seemed to be only listening exactly on 5 and 10 up. So I stuck with 5 up and shortly I heard "who is the echo india?". So I gave my call several times and I was in the log.

It was nice to get IOTA OC-286 in the log.

IARU 90th celebrations - dipolma received

Last year was the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU). To commemorate this jubilee, special event stations in a lot of countries were established with 90IARU in the call. I worked 89 QSOs with these stations, based in 43 different countries. There was a special diploma available to anyone who worked 10 or more of the 90IARU stations.

These are my totals at the end of the year.
I have now downloaded the diploma award. I have to say that this was not a difficult award to accomplish - however, with 89 QSOs and 43 countries I had far more than I needed! Here's the award: