Monday, April 23, 2012

Now QRT with 5149 QSOs in the log

Hi everyone after a very tiring, hot, humid and demanding DXpedition in the tropics I am back on the mainland. Due to bad weather we were delayed on Wednesday the 18th and landed late in the day and so there was no time to put up the Spiderbeam yagi for 10m-15m-17m-20m. The weather was bad but I was able to quickly string up the 12m Spiderbeam fibreglass pole next to my hut and put the 24 MHz vertical dipole up before it got dark and worked 200 stations before 12m closed. So instead of 6 it was only a 5 day operation and so I'm pleased with the 5149 QSOs with a single person effort. Much more than my previous highest DXpedition QSO total of 3925 QSOs as VK4LDX/P on Horn Island OC-138 done last year.

I'll do a day by day write up on the blog over the next week or so.

This afternoon now that I'm back on the mainland I've noticed people sending emails to me during the DXpedition but please understand I had no internet access on the island that would enable me to look at emails. On a few occasions during the day I would walk up a big sand dune in the oppressive heat and humidity of the tropics and get 'one bar'of mobile phone reception to send a spot on the cluster but the phone reception was sporadic and unreliable at best, I wasn't even able to SMS my wife to say I had arrived safely on the island until the second day. Today on the phone she said she knew I was OK as I showed her how to monitor VK8BI on the DX cluster - hi hi! So for those who were emailing me, please understand that Bremer Island is remote with no electricity or mobile phone coverage, it's barely on the fringe of the mainland network.

Conditions were spectacular to Europe in the evening but I spent lots of time looking for North America with only moderate success. On four evenings I left and QSY'd in the middle on monster pile ups to Europe on 15m or 17m (I'm sure much to their disappointment and annoyance) and went to 20m calling CQ to North America only without much luck, it was good on only 2 out of four evenings and only lasted 60-90 minutes (I'm sure much to their disappointment and annoyance). I was beaming to North America on 15m in the 2300-0100 UTC period and calling CQ with only a small number of QSOs to North America. So I was trying for North America during the likely times/bands but that's just conditions unfortunately. Anyway as I said I'll do a day by day account my adventure on the blog site soon including my highs, lows, successes, failures and so forth of each day.

73's de Craig VK8BI ................need sleep...........................

Monday, April 16, 2012

Arrived in Gove. Next stop Bremer Island.

I’ve arrived in Gove (Nhulunbuy) in East Arnhem Land which is the town that I depart to take the boat to Bremer Island. Before I was an amateur radio operator I worked in Gove for a few years so I’m familiar with this crazy remote part of Australia. This certainly helped in the preparations for this trip as I knew what services were and weren’t here. All of my equipment including the 10m Spiderbeam aluminium mast, linear amplifier and 12m fibreglass Spiderbeam pole (for the 12m vertical dipole) that I sent last month has arrived. The Icom IC706MKIIG, 2 power supplies, computer and headphones were taken as carry on baggage. The checked in baggage included the Spiderbeam tribander.

So I’m ready to depart the island tomorrow morning. Hope to work you on the air for a new IOTA. If you have any questions I’ll be checking my emails at until around 2200 UTC Tuesday (7:30am Wednesday local time).

Sunday, April 15, 2012

VK8BI operating schedule......not long to go now!

I’ve spoken to the boat operators and I should arrive on Bremer Island on Wednesday April 18 around 0300 UTC or 12:30pm local time. I’ll spend the afternoon setting up the 12m vertical dipole, 10m-15m-17m-20m Spiderbeam yagi, generator and radio equipment in the hut and familiarising myself with the island.

I’m aiming for the operation to be in full swing at 1000 UTC where I’ll be beaming short path North America on 14260 kHz (+/- QRM).

As I’ll be using a 12m vertical dipole for the first time you may find me calling CQ before 1000 UTC on 12m 24960 kHz using the vertical to see what propagation is like to Asia, Europe and Africa. I know what to expect on 10m, 15m and 20m from previous IOTA DXpeditions. This is the first time I’ll be using the 12m vertical dipole so I’m keen to see how it performs.

So don’t worry I’m not ‘starting’ the DXpedition on a WARC band which would be odd because not all people have access to 12m and everyone’s best antennas are usually for 10m/15m/20m. I’m just looking there first to test band conditions to Europe and Asia so that I can plan my choice of operating bands for the Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday afternoons.

I’ll probably do a similar thing and check out 12m and 17m short path to the America’s on my first morning at 2200 UTC to see what conditions are like. I’d say over the five mornings in the period 2200-0300 UTC that I’ll be spending 75% of my time on 15m, but I’ll try 12m and 17m on the first morning just in case they prove productive.

Remember I DO NOT have internet access at my operating position so please don’t send requests on the DX cluster when I’m operating. I’ve had to adjust my operating frequencies a little to ensure I keep away from the Spratly 9M0L DXpedition announced frequencies on their site.

A fellow IOTA chaser Mike VE3VHB has let me know that 14260 is a bad frequency for North America due to net activity in their mornings. So in the 1200-1400 UTC period look for me between 14220 to 14260 in case there is bad QRM on 14260.

Operating schedule Wednesday April 18 (frequencies are +/- QRM):

0300 to 0600 UTC – Arrive on Bremer Island and set up station.

0600 to 1000 UTC – sometime during this period there will be operation on 24960 on the vertical antenna to test conditions to Asia, Europe and Africa. Sometime during this period I’ll have a short break for an evening meal and do final checks on the generator. It may take longer to set up the antennas depending on the weather, people available to assist me, etc. But I do hope to be calling CQ on 24960 +/- QRM by 0600 UTC or 0700 UTC at the latest before things get into full swing at 1000 UTC.

1000 to 1400 UTC    – 14220 to 14260 (short path North America)

1400 to 1700 UTC    – 14260 (short path Europe/Asia)

1700 to 2200 UTC    – break for sleep, breakfast, generator check, etc

2200 to 0000 UTC    – 18150, 21260 (or 21290*), 24960 or 28460 (short path North America)
    * to take into consideration US Generals

Operating schedule Thu April 18 to Mon April 23 (frequencies are +/- QRM):

0000 to 0300 UTC    – 18150, 21260 (or 21290*), 24960 or 28460 (short path North America)
    * to take into consideration US Generals

0300 to 0500 UTC    – break for lunch, generator check, etc

0500 to 0900 UTC    – 14260 or 18150 (long path Europe) or

                                    – 18150, 21260, 24960 or 28460 (short path Europe/Asia)

0900 to 1200 UTC    – 18150, 21260, 24960 or 28460 (short path Europe/Asia)

1200 to 1400 UTC    – 14220 to 14260 (short path North America) or

                                        14260 or 18150 (short path Europe/Asia)
                                         (only if there is no propagation to North America)

1400 to 1700 UTC    – 14260 (short path Europe/Asia)

1700 to 2200 UTC    – break for sleep, breakfast, generator check, etc

2200 to 0000 UTC    – 18150, 21260 (or 21290*), 24960 or 28460 (short path North America)
    * to take into consideration US Generals