The Onset of Autumn
With the approach of the autumn DX season, Steve Telenius-Lowe PJ4DX has news of some planned DXpeditions.
With the approach of the autumn DX season, Steve Telenius-Lowe PJ4DX has news of some planned DXpeditions.
Propagation usually improves around the autumn equinox and DXpedition organisers are keen to take advantage of this. If last year is anything to go by, there will be many DX operations taking place from mid-September and in October but I would like to highlight three:
Seven Czech operators have announced they will be active from Mayotte (AF-027) in the Indian Ocean from September 21st to October 5th. The callsign will be TO6OK, a special prefix rather than the usual FH. They will run several stations with linear amplifiers and HF beams, directional vertical arrays on 30m and 40m, and verticals on 80 and 160m.
The Italian DXpedition Team will be active from Rwanda as 9X0T (and as 9X0Y when using the FT8 DXpedition mode) between September 26th and October 10th.
Later in October another rare DXCC entity and IOTA island will be activated: Ducie Island (OC-182), Fig. 1. Politically part of the Pitcairn Islands but a separate DXCC entity by reason of its distance (540km) from the main Pitcairn Island, Ducie has only ever been activated three times: in 2002, 2003 and by the VP6DX DXpedition in 2008. VP6DX made the then record number of 183,584 QSOs, only surpassed by the UK-led T32C DXpedition to Christmas Island in 2011. VP6D should be active from October 20th until November 3rd. Despite being in the South Pacific, Ducie is a somewhat easier path from the UK than Baker Island, which was activated by KH1/KH7Z in June – July (see last month's HFH).
In July the Hartlepool Amateur Radio Club had a club evening operating on 10m. Regular HFH contributor Carl Gorse 2E0HPI said that “taking advantage of the Sporadic E conditions on July 6th, three members of the club, Tom M6TJI, Stan G7VGM and Carl between them worked 23 stations in just under one hour.” Using the club call MX0IDZ and running a Kenwood TS-870 with 80W to a vertical antenna at 10m supported by a tilt-over mast on a drive-on base in the club car park, the trio made contacts with German, Swiss, Italian, Czech, Belgian, Dutch and Polish stations. “No real DX but a great pleasure to work the pile-up and nice to chat with all stations contacted”, Carl concluded.
Ed Spicer M0MNG of the Amberley Radio Group sent in a report on the GB2CPM operation at Amberley Museum during the International Museums Weekend (IMW), Fig. 2. “We made 120 contacts altogether, of which 18 were with other registered museums. This is not a bad percentage considering that just under 70 museums had registered on the IMW website,” Ed said. “40m SSB was the band and mode of choice, with just a handful of QSOs on 20m and even one on 12m. All our contacts were inside Europe and the majority of those were inter-G. I had feared there would be little or no inter-G propagation during the museum’s opening hours when we were on air, so I was extremely pleased to be wrong... Bearing in mind that we are approaching the bottom of sunspot cycle 24 and the recent poor conditions on HF and 40m in particular, the weekends were a great success for GB2CPM. We will certainly be back for the next IMW in June 2019.” Some museum photos are at:
Reg Williams G0OOF wrote about his activity in the IOTA contest at the end of July. “Good to work PJ4DX during the IOTA contest on 20m. You certainly had a pile-up on your hands but handled it with calm expertise. I noticed that your signal was much stronger in the later evening. I worked quite a few European stations on that band after midnight local time. I enjoyed the contest even more this year, now that I am able to work all bands. It was good to spend some time on 40 and 80m, which gave a reasonable idea how well the 6-band vertical was working, as well as the higher frequencies. Most island stations worked were European but I managed a few contacts to North and South America... I have concentrated mainly on the lower HF bands in the month, trying out the 6-band vertical. There was a good opening into Europe on 15m, strangely on the 15th of the month.”
Etienne Vrebos OS8D and ON8DN reports “Very poor HF radio activities this month... I participated on Saturday July 28th in the IOTA contest but no special IOTAs, mostly Europeans. We got very hot weeks here with over 38°C! Exceptional, and I really don’t like that heat. Today it’s the first day below 30°C.”
Terry Martin M0CLH says, “Quite a few in the log again but nothing too spectacular as the summer doldrums and lack of sunspots conspire against us. At least some Sporadic E has kept the upper bands alive with a few slots filled. The drought here in England has probably not helped either, resulting in a poorer ground plane for my vertical!”
Victor Brand G3JNB described July as an “Interesting month: despite SFI [the Solar Flux Index] bottoming out at 66, there were spasms of useful activity on CW on the DX bands, particularly for the IARU and IOTA contests. It is always interesting to hear stuff on an apparently empty band, especially just before bed. It has been most noticeable on the Cluster that FT8 has dominated the postings, together with 6m calls. SSB about normal but CW posts at a new low!” Last month in this column I wondered if anyone in the UK would report the Baker Island DXpedition in July and Victor commented: “With the SFI down at 67 and the short or long paths to Baker Island passing over the poles, hearing KH1/KH7Z was always going to be difficult. Following the reliable propagation forecasts for members by the Norfolk ARC’s specialist, Steve G0KYA, I did copy them on 20m CW mid-morning on the 2nd and 4th. Very weak and, realistically, not workable here with 50W. Still, it was good to actually hear them!” One evening Mike GM0HCQ/MM, aboard the survey ship RSS James Clerk Ross, was logged from 81ºN 29ºE (turn right, above Svalbard Island in the Arctic). On the 13th, Victor enjoyed one of those contacts that he says “can still generate the thrill of DXing. Checking a very quiet 20m just before bed, I noticed a posting on the Cluster for HI/KG4ZXN. The signal was right down at ‘ESP’ level but on peaks was heard calling CQ with only an occasional response from EU. It took me ages to attract his attention when small peaks in the QSB permitted but, eventually, I made it. Immediately, I went to QRZ.COM and saw that Bill was on holiday in the Dominican Republic and running an FT-857D with 100W to just a mere 57ft length of wire hanging out of his window! Then, scrolling down the page, I realised that he had a live feed from his log, via Club Log, to his QRZ page. The call G3JNB was showing already, just a couple of minutes after we had signed! That was a new experience for me, my fastest ever DX confirmation.”
Tony Usher G4HZW is now up to 108 DXCC entities worked and 83 confirmed by Logbook of The World (LoTW) on 10m FT8 since starting to use that mode in September 2017. He wrote “I’ve not done as much operating in July, mainly due to the temperature in the shack – the house is well insulated with triple glazing so once the heat gets in it’s reluctant to leave!” Tony sent in a photo of his antennas against a cloudless blue sky, Fig. 3. This month he mainly worked Europeans as the excellent Sporadic E season continued; the DX stations worked are listed in the band reports.
This month's HF Highlights for Kevin Hewitt ZB2GI included activating ZB2RAF: the Royal Air Force celebrated 100 years and 100 days on July 10th and Kevin made 100 FT8 contacts, 10 contacts on 10 bands, to commemorate the centenary.
Martin Evans GW4TPG thought the bands “fairly flat, not much in the way of contests (I missed IOTA at the weekend) or DXpeditions to work. Not one CW or SSB QSO for the whole month. Looking back, the last time I went a whole month without at least one SSB or CW QSO was 2007, which is probably a good indication of where we are with solar cycle 24. Saying that, there is still DX around on FT8. This month I have concentrated most of my operating time on 12m, looking both for new DXCC entities to work and previously worked DXCC entities but with no LoTW QSL... I managed to get the magic 100 confirmed on 12m on July 30th with SV9AHZ worked and confirmed via LoTW the same day. I managed to work ten new ones on 12m in July leaving me just 80m to go for 8-band DXCC. I did manage to work one new one on 80m too (4L1FL), thanks to a bout of insomnia one night... Looking forward to autumn and some decent CW and SSB operating again.”
Carl 2E0HPI wrote, “I have been concentrating on the 10m band and have been operating portable at different locations in the north of the UK. The antenna was a Hawkins SSD-58 on a 10m pole, which worked quite well when we had openings. So far, I have worked from Captain Cook's Monument 328m ASL and Harthorpe Moss in the North Pennines at 630m ASL (GFF-0264) [Fig. 4]. I have also been using the Alex Loop in the garden at home running 10W in the IARU Contest.”
During the IARU contest 2E0HPI worked Y82D. A total of 63 Y8 callsigns were issued by BNetzA, the German licensing authority, for competitors at the World Radiosport Team Championship that ran concurrently with the IARU event. Readers of a certain age and with long memories will recall that the ITU callsign block Y2A – Y9Z was formerly used by the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) prior to reunification in 1990, Fig. 5.
Reg G0OOF reports the following. 80m SSB: KP4/K6DTT, OZ11A, PA10TA. 40m SSB: A41CK, C31CT, CR3DX, EA6AIU/P, EJ0DXG, GD6HX, IC8WIC, MD7C. 20m SSB: 5B4KH, 5Q2J, 9H6A, CR3DX, IM0PNM, MX5A, PJ4DX, VY2TT. 15m SSB: CR3DX, IQ0SS, PJ2Y, VY2TT. 10m SSB: EU1A, CR3DX, IQ3ME/P, IS0BSR. OZ11A.
Etienne OS8D / ON8DN apologises “for this very poor log, 100 QSOs in total” yet still worked two All Time New Ones (‘ATNOs’): 20m SSB: 3V8CB, 5E5R, AP2BDR (ATNO), C37UN, E20WXA, E51JD (ATNO), EP2LMA, JA8COE, JW100PUT, KW7Y, OX3MC, VY0ERC, VY2TT. 17m SSB: HV5PUL.
Terry M0CLH offers 30m FT8: EJ0DXG. 20m SSB: LM90NRRL, OJ0C. 20m CW: LZ380PM. 20m RTTY: 9A18FWC. 20m FT8: A41ZZ, R9XAC, RN2F, S01WS, TA1BZ/2. 17m CW: GM6XX, PF2018FRA. 17m FT8: 4O7CC, 7Z1IS, A41ZZ, PY2EGM, SV9/G0DLV, T77C, VE1JS, VP8LP. 15m CW: LZ380PM. 15m FT8: 9K2HQ, A41ZZ, K5EK, TF2MSN, ZS6SJR. 12m FT8: EA6SX, KO2E. 10m SSB: G4ELP. 10m FT8: CT3KN, GD4SKA, ZB2ER.
Victor G3JNB worked: 30m CW: 5E5A, C31CT, CU2/OK1DX, HV0A, FY5FY, S01WS, TF/VE2DZ, UA0CGU, ZB2RAF. 20m SSB: PJ4DX. 20m CW: 7X4AN, HD18FIFA, PJ2Y, PJ2/NA2U, XQ6CFX, YV5LAY. 20m PSK31: 9Y4FIFA.
Tony G4HZW used 10m FT8 exclusively to work 9Z4S, BD0AAI, CA2CEV, NP4RA, PJ2MAN, PZ5RA, VP9NM, YV5MBI plus 29 W (all east coast).
Kevin ZB2GI, reported the following: 20m SSB: 9H1JL, CQ918FWC, ER18FIFA, GJ3RCV (EU-099 'Minkies'), OD5ZZ, PV8AL, PY6TV, R18IRN. 20m FT8: A75GD, CX3AL, JH0RNN, OD5ZF, PY2COY, PY2FUL, ZS1ZKZ. 17m FT8: A65DR, TA5FA, JF3UYE (Fig. 6) and no fewer than a dozen other JA stations. Also, operating as ZB2RAF, Kevin used 80m FT8 to work: AO3JMT. 60m FT8: LU8HF, N3GAR. 20m SSB: GB100RAF, GB3RS, JH1MDJ, LX1BB, TA7OM and many other Europeans.
Martin GW4TPG put these in his log: 80m FT8: 4L1FL, CU2DX, VE9MY. 40m FT8: A41ZZ. 30m FT8: BG4QNE, HI8CSS, J35X, SV5DKL. 20m FT8: CE2SQE, CO2II, FK8HE, KP4JRS, JF3VAX, VE9FI, YB0GRF. 17m FT8: 5P6MJ (EU-172), 9H1ET, A61QQ, HL4CJG, PY4OY, VR2XMT, VU2EKJ, VP8LP, ZD7GWM. 15m FT8: BD0AAI. 12m FT8: 4Z4DX, 5B4VL, CE1OEB, CU2AP, EA6VQ, EA8CYL, EW4M, KB8U, LU5HA, SV9AHZ, WB2REM, Z68M, ZD7BG.
From home Carl 2E0HPI worked 20m SSB: CR6K, LX8HQ, OE0HQ, TM0HQ, Y82D. And, as 2E0HPI/P, on 12m SSB: AO18FWC. 10m SSB: 9A4FM, DO1TLR, EA3BLL, F5VIG, OE3WMA, OK1AQW, OM1AX, S57AC.
Finally, a brief note from Owen Williams G0PHY listed 20m SSB: J32FIFA, LU1YT, PJ4DX, VY0ERC. 10m SSB: C37UN.
This article was featured in the October 2018 issue of Practical Wireless