Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Thanks to sponsors for future IOTA DXpeditions

Thank you to the individual sponsors that have included extra $US with their QSL cards to assist me to fund future IOTA DXpeditions:

9A1CCY - 9A1DX - 9A2Y - 9A3NM - AB5EU - AE9DX - AF2D - BG9BUS - BG9BYK - BG9BSW - DJ3XG - DJ4MM - DJ6RN - DK6JV - DL0HBS - DL3APO - DL5DF - DL6ATM - DL6ZXG - DL7SLB - DL7YY - DL8AAV - EA3BT - EA3KB - EA4EVY - F4CPF - F59706 (SWL) - F5BOY - F6DZU - F8AMV - G0RCI - G0WKH - G3RTE - G4ELZ - G4MFX - G4NXG/m - G4PTJ - HB9BZA - HL4CBX - I2MQP - I2PQW - I2VGW - I3PGZ - I4GAD - I5HLK - I5HOR - I8IHG - IK2VUC - IK4HPU - IK8CNT - IK8CVZ - IT9DAA - IZ2NBD - IZ8AJU - JA3RAC - JG4OOU - JH7KTI - JL1PPS - JR2DUM - K0AP - K1HT - K2MHE - K3EST - K4HMB - K4ROZ - K6ASK - K6PJ - K8CW - K8GI - K8YTO - KB1VIB - KJ3L - KK4AND - KN7D - LY5A - LZ1HA - MD0CCE - N4NX - N4VA - N6KZ - N6NO - N6NO - NI5W - OE6GRG - OH1MHX - ON4XL - ON5JE - ON7DR - R3OK - RX4HZ - SM7DXQ - SM7NGH - SP5APW - SP0177JG - SV1ACL - VA7CRZ - VE3IQ - VE3VHB - VK3FM - W1KDA - W1WML - W2AY - W2PSU - W3FJ - W3TN - W4ETB - W4LSC - W4OX - W4PKU - W5PF - W5WP - W5ZPA - W6ZPL - W7BEM - W7FYV - WA4CYP - WB0GGM - WB5JID

Monday, March 21, 2011

QRT now - 5 days - 3925 QSO’s into 93 DXCC entities

It’s taken a few days to update the final day of the operation as I had travelling and a family visit to VK5 land to attend to. But I’m happy to say that this 5 day IOTA DXpedition has been a lot of fun and very satisfying. It’s been hard work keeping to the 18 hour per day operating schedule with a 2 hour lunch midday break and 4 hours of sleep, however I feel I was in front of the dials for every opening that occurred. The 5 days resulted in 3925 QSO’s into 93 DXCC entities which averaged out to around 800 QSO’s per day. This was a nice improvement on the 350 per day on Magnetic Island OC-171 and 500 per day on Fitzroy Island OC-172.

The big success was the short path to Europe on 20m and 15m with the Spiderbeam doing a great job. It would have been nicer to have better conditions to North America on 40m, 15m and 10m (20m was dead), but still I ended up with 248 QSO’s there – not good enough, but much better than my previous IOTA trips to OC-171 and OC-172. Here is the breakdown of what happened.

Band   QSO’s           

21        1548   39%
14        1496   38%
28          733   19%
7            148     4%
Total     3925

Mode              QSO's
SSB                3828   (98%)
PSK31                97    (  2%)

Continent                    QSO’s

Europe                         2456 (62.6%)
Asia                              976 (24.8%)            
North America                248 (  6.4%)
Oceania                         237 (  6.0%)
South America                   4 (  0.1%)
Africa                                4 (  0.1%)

I’ve started receiving QSL cards and I’ve replied back to them today. My wife and I are on a Pacific Island cruise from April 2-15 (no radio!!) and so expect a couple of weeks delay in replying during this period. Then I’m off to Magnetic Island OC-171 again for my last DXpedition on that IOTA for few days on April 17-20 to try the Spiderbeam there.

Thanks to everyone for the QSO, I tried to give as many contacts out as possible. I hope to work you on Magnetic Island in April if you still need OC-171.

73s de Craig VK4LDX / VK8PDX

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Day 4 - Best day ever of any of my IOTA DXpeditions - 1000 QSO's made today with Europe wide open on 20m long and short paths and 15m EXPLODES OPEN to Europe

The UTC day started as per usual with a slow trickle of QSO's into North America on 15m and 10m, the conditions are just not quite there to creat a pile up into stateside, instead it's just one QSO every couple of minutes. I really need to upgrade my licence so that I can buy an amplifier and work with 400w instead of 100w. But still it's worth the effort to try and give OC-138 to 50-100 North Americas each morning. 40m on the short path has been very poor and it's not giving any results so 10m and 15m was my only chance to get into North America.

At 0200 UTC or 12 noon it was time for my great little ritual of a counter lunch at the pub as I update the blog with 6 or so beers to help wash down the chicken schnitzel. It's funny as night 3 and 4 was so busy working into Europe in the 5pm to 2am period, that I haven't had the chance to eat dinner, in this period I go for a handful of chocolate biscuits for tea when I do a band change from 15m to 20m and that's it. But that's a great problem to have and just goes to show how incredibly good the band conditions have been to Europe on 15m and 20m. Mind you, despite this there was one Polish ham who was complaining on the DX cluster that I was too weak into Europe despite the fact I was in the middle of 100 QSO per hour pile-ups into Europe - hmm maybe the problem was that he was too weak to get into VK. Then at lunchtime when I was checking my emails he even sent me an email saying that I was strong on Fitzroy Island but weak on Magnetic Island (despite the fact he got the QSO in his log!!!) and that my Spiderbeam is not good enough and I should go back to the vertical because I am too weak on Horn Island into Europe. There are well over 2000 European hams who have worked me in the past 4 days that would disagree with him. Then last night I worked him on both 15m and 20m - I thought he'd be appreciative but no, he put on the cluster after the QSO a complaint about his frustration of not working me in the first 3 days - geez there's no pleasing some people. I would say that 350 QSO's/day on OC-171 and 500 QSO's/day on OC-172 with the vertical is not as impressive as the 800 QSO's/day that have happened with the Spiderbeam - OK I've had my whinge now - you can tell I've only had 2.5 hours sleep!!!!

OK back to the good news. At 0430-0700 UTC it was quite busy working into JA/UA0 on 10m especially as it was a weekend day with lots of people to play radio at home - despite the catastrophic disaster in Japan, I worked many JA's yesterday, but I can't help thinking during the JA pile ups about how many JA friends have either gone silent key, have lost their homes, are without electricity or are in sadness and mourning about lost friends and family members. I thought that we had it hard in north Queensland last month when Tropical Cyclone Yasi hit our area and we experinced house damage and some flooding along with 6 days of no electricity - we got off lightly compared to Tokyo. Mind you our 6 days of no power resulted in me buying a generator - so at least I now have a new generator and fuel containers to take on a future rare IOTA DXpediton.

I then went to 15m but it was pretty dead. Despite this I did work KH9/WA2YUN which was fantastic as Wake Island is an all time new DXCC for me. I've always wanted to work him but I've never been in the right place at the right time - that was the first time I've ever been called by a new DXCC country - that's one of the fringe benefits of doing this IOTA........ it helps ease the pain of the the thousands of dollars each of these IOTA trips have cost me.

At 0730 UTC I checked 20m long path and had a fun hour working 90 stations into Europe. This was a sign of things to come, I thought the previous night was amazing for Europe, but this evening was incredible. From 1000 UTC onwards the pile-up was the biggest and most ferocious that I have ever heard on any of the IOTA DXpeditions, some stations were asking what my call was because they must have heard the chaos and figured whoever I was I must be rare. I'm only OC-138 - I'm not P5 - hi hi. Once I spread them out 5-10 kHz it made things more manageable, I just felt bad taking up so much of the band with me calling on 21270 and listening up 5-10, so I apologize to fellow IOTA guys XU7KOH, T30AH and DZ1P for taking up so much bandwidth. The best rate was 150 per hour and this chaos went on from 1000-1300 UTC when the band closed. Don't worry guys, for the last day I'll be on 15m again if you missed me.

I went straight to 20m and noticed that the IOTA frequency of 14260 was clear. I went there simplex and I must compliment the Europeans for their very good behaviour because for the next 4 hours I was able to work 90 QSO's per hour without having to go split and people were listening and operating by the DX code of conduct and not yelling over the top of each other. So congratulations gentlemen, it meant that people with low power and wire antennas got into log, a few Europeans said they were working me in the 20-50w range. So it was great to have the 20m band open until 1700 UTC which is 3:00am local time.

After this fantastic day I ended up with my highest ever IOTA DXpedition QSO total for a day - namely 1003 QSO's which takes the grand total to 3227 after 4 days of operation.

I now have one more day of operation left. At 2359 UTC or 10am local I need to check out at the end of the UTC day of March 14th. So for the final day I'll goto 10m and 15m in the 0500-0700 UTC period and then look at 20m long path Europe around 0700 UTC. Around 0900 to 1000 UTC I'll start on 15m short path to Europe and once the band closes there I'll go to 20m short path Europe which is likely to be in the 1200-1300 UTC period.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Day 3 - Slow but steady into VE/W on 10m and 15m - 10m open to JA and 15m explodes into Europe with a magnificent 5 hour run

For the start of day 3 there was a steady trickle of JA's and North American's on 15m and 10m from 0000-0130 UTC. At 0200 UTC or 12 noon local I began my new ritual of ringing my XYL Michelle to let her know how things are going on the island while I'm strolling to the local pub for lunch. It's got to the point where the owner and bar staff staff knows my name and that I'm the bloke with the weird looking giant clothesline that's up in the air - i.e. the Spiderbeam!!!

I'm really enjoying my little two hour ritual of updating the blog and having one hot meal a day......oh yes and I don't mind the 6 or so beers too - hydration is vital on a DXpedition. The only problem yesterday was that I had to sober up pretty damn quick because I thought I'd give a few QSO's to JA out on 10m SSB but it ended up in a two and a half hour busy pile up - whereas yesterday 10m was dead to JA.

On that note it's really tough to pick the band conditions - I live in north VK4 so I know what bands should be open and to where, but the conditions have been totally different day to day these past 3 days. This is a blessing in disguise as it mixes things up, the hardest thing is working out when 40m, 20m, 15m or 10m are open to North America. I'm spotting myself on the cluster everytime I change band and mode. So while this is self spotting, I'm only doing this because this is a short term trip and I want to make the most out of the short and varied openings to give the deserving this IOTA. The feedback I'm getting via email from Europe, South and North America is that they do want this spotting on the cluster, especially considering that my little 100w signal hardly lights up the spectrum analysers - hi hi. So I'm sorry if it looks like I'm an annoying self-spotter over the next couple of days, I'm just trying to help Europe and the America's get the QSO.

At 0700 UTC there was nothing on 20m wheres the day before was sensational to Europe on the long path. I hadn't spent anytime in the day on 15m thus far so I went there to give more JA a chance to get this IOTA and it wasn't long before Laurie VK7ZE put me on the cluster - well - all hell broke loose. From 0700 UTC which is 5pm local, I was stuck in a big Asian pile up which by 0830 UTC turned into a JA/European pile up until it became all Europe at 1000 UTC and continued on strong until 1300 UTC. So for 6 hours I was in the chair and I needed cough lollies to keep my throat from going - there were times I sounded like a 14 year with a breaking voice while other times I sounded like a 95 year old on my last gasping breath! I had to laugh one time when the pile up was so large and I needed a toilet break. I told people to QRX 2 minutes but when I came back  people were still calling so I just stepped back in and resumed the QSO's!

It was great to work lots of Europeans so late at night on 15m - it was absolutely incredible - nothing like being so close to the equator to bring sexy back to 21 MHz.

By 1330 UTC I decided to visit 20m but the DIG contest meant that Europe was full of stations and I found it difficult to get a frequency, it didn't matter that the rate was slow and patchy because all of the QSO's were already in the bank from earlier on 15m. So again I stumbled into bed at 1600 UTC which is 2am local.

I managed to crawl out of bed at 7am to check for North America. Unfortunately I couldn't get through and I went to 15m to work a small but enjoyable number of JA and VE/W's for an hour. At 2330 UTC a visit to 10m revealed it was open nicely to the America's but it seemed W/VE were all beaming to Central/South America working DX rather than looking to the Pacific. There was a steady trickle of West Coast coming in but the highlight was working a new band country in the form of HI3/W1JNZ.

With these 3 IOTA DXpeditions to OC-138, OC-171 and OC-172 I managed to break my previous daily QSO record of 807 made on the first day of Fitzroy Island OC-172 of 807. I ended up the UTC day with 890 QSO's to bring the total after 3 days to 2224. It shows what a difference the Spiderbeam makes, after the 3 day trip to OC-171 Magnetic Island with only the vertical I ended up with 1115! At least I can tell my wife it was worth it the $$$$ to buy it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Day 2 - 10m has gone back to sleep but 15m OK for North America and 20m SSB reliable long path then short path for Europe - but my thoughts are with all my friends in Japan

The start of UTC day 2 is 10am local time and I changed from 10m to 15m to try for some more west coast North Americans. Fortunately the band was OK and it ended up with a productive 30 minutes of USA and JA until I called it a morning to shower and try and become human again before lunch. Just before I headed out I managed to break into the 4A4A pile-up on 15m SSB for an all time new one so that deserved a beer or six. I hadn't worked them yet because all my gear was packed up for this DXpedition. So a super fun happy time was spent for a couple of hours at the bar and I headed back to the shack at 0400 UTC or 2pm local.

After an hour or so resting I hit the bands at 0530 UTC at 330pm local time. The poor solar figures were a good indcator of conditions as I spent the next hour and a half scratching out a small number Asian and European QSOs on 10m, 15m and 20m. I was hoping I'd get a repeat performance of the previous day at 0700 UTC when I started with a big European pile up on 10m SSB but conditions were dead on both 10m and 15m. I tried 20m and luckily I had a great pile up to Europe on the long path that lasted an hour and a half.

I was surprised by the lack of JA stations on 15m a little earlier only to find out about the catastrophic tragedy that was happening at that time with the monster earthquake and tsunami. I'm located on the northern tip of Australia on the Pacific rim with YB and P29 so the tsunami warning was an issue. I chose the shack that's only 20m from the waters edge which is great for radio but not good when there's a tsunami alert. If something did hit then I'd be in big trouble as the island here is flat with no accessible high ground. I was in contact with other hams in the Pacific to get updates and I was monitoring the necessary websites. So far so good.

I got back to the radio round 0900 UTC and made a few QSO's into USA on 40m SSB but it was mostly local VK/ZL/JA. I stayed around until 1000 UTC for those local stations that need OC-138 but don't hear me on 10/15/20m. At 1100 - 1230 UTC I was on 20m SSB on the short path to Asia and Europe but the rate was pretty slow as conditions weren't great. The previous day I started on 20m SSB at 1330 UTC and it was sensational, so I figured I should stick it out even though it was 1130pm and I'd been up since 5:00am. I jumped on again at 1400 UTC and after spotting myself on the cluster the next hour and a half was much better with even some USA stations scattered in the European pile ups.

The next morning I woke up at 630am local time to allow myself 4.5 hours sleep. Nothing was on long path to the America's on 20m SSB like it was the previous day. I jumped on 15m at 2300 UTC and I had a nice run into USA with a few South Americans too. I was expecting only the west coast but I also worked into Ohio, South Carolina, Florida and Illinois over on the east which was fantastic.

UTC day 2 which finished at 10am local time Saturday morning and resulted in 555 QSO's which gives a total of 1334 for the two days so far. At this stage half of the QSO's are with Europe and it looks like there's been 10% of the QSO's into North America which is OK but I'd like lots more. For the next three nights I'll be on 40m SSB and/or PSK31 in the 0800 - 1100 UTC period for the America's. On the next two mornings I'll also be looking from 2100 UTC for long path America's on 20m SSB and then short path 15m and 10m until 0100 UTC. As per usual I'll spot myself on the DX cluster everytime I change band or mode.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 1 - 10m and 20m wide open to Europe - Finally I get an IOTA DXpedition opening to North America

After a very horrible 4:30am wake up call, my half asleep wife kicked my half asleep butt out of the car at Townsville airport and two flights later - bingo I land on Horn Island. I checked in by 11am and quickly went to the community store to buy supplies. I unpacked my gear and set up the radio in place. I went to the outback tropical bar that's attached to where I'm staying for a chicken schnitzel and a few beers to contemplate life and dream of what may unfold over the next 5 days.

It was then antenna time and I erected the Spiderbeam and 40m dipole in oppressive heat and humidity and the occassional storm with gusting rain - I was drenched with sweat so I couldn't get more wet anyway. The DX gods smiled on me when the SWR on 10, 15, 20 and 40m was what it should be, there was no surprise man made noiseon any band and my test transmissions didn't cause TVI. A quick call to T88ME on 15m who was 59+ revealed that the microphone survived the trip too. So I stumbled into the shower to recharge and get my game face on.

I jumped on 10m just before 0600 UTC at 4pm local and after a few local 9M and VK contacts a rather hectic European pile up developed and lasted 2.5 hours - nothing like a 10m DX pile up to get you into the DXppedition mood - especially when TA, UK and A92 called me for new band countries! My goal is to focus on the area that's been the toughest for me to contact on OC-171 and OC-172 last year, namely North America. So I was very concerned that the next 1.5 hours spent during the prime time of 0830-1000 UTC on 40m only resulted in 4 USA and 1 LU contact and a trickle of JA's and VK's - oh no not again!!! I needed a meal break so I went to 10m PSK31 so that I could eat while doing QSO's and the pile up was quite frantic over the next 45 minutes or so. At 1100-1300 UTC I couldn't raise much of a pulse from North America on 40m SSB or PSK31. At 1330 UTC which is 1130pm local, I was feeling really pleased by 10m but pretty disappointed with another failure of mine to get into the America's. I was about to go to bed but I figured I'd spot myself on the cluster on 20m SSB and make a dozen or so QSO's as it sounded like the band was pretty dead. Goes to show what my predictions are like because 2.5 hours and 310 QSO's with Europe later, I slumped into bed at 2am after a mad-cap pile-up which was much bigger than I've ever experienced on OC-172 - I thought maybe someone spotted me on the cluster as VK4LDX/VK9M or something!

I woke up at 6am and started my desperate attempt to get into North America. At 2130 UTC or 730am local I noticed a few US voices on the 10m band and so I was delighted to make some USA QSO's over the next 30 minutes. An email from east coast suggested that 20m LP was showing a pulse and this resulted in a slow but steady run from 2230 to 2330 UTC to the east coast long path and even some W6 and 7's. Once this dried up, 10m was in much better shape and a few mini-west coast pile ups resulted.

So during UTC day 1 it resulted in 779 QSO's of which half were Europe and then an even spread between Asia, North America and Oceania. So hopefully UTC day 2 will continue to show world wide openings on 10m - this will be my focus today along with 20m SSB to Europe in the 1100-1600 UTC period. Tomorrow I'll continue to beam to the America's on 20, 15 and 10 in the 2130 UTC period onwards.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

QRV now

Hi I'm now on the air

Departure Day

Well it's 5:00am and I'm sitting in the departure lounge and amazingly everything has been checked in. I bought two seats on the small Dash 8 plane that goes from Townsville to Cairns and then Cairns to Horn Island. This would ensure I wouldn't have problems with all my luggage. It's amazing how the 10m Spiderbeam mast fits into a 1.3m long box - good thing too because the maximum length oversized cargo that is allowed in this small plane is only 1.4m long!!! The other box that was 1.2m long contained the Spiderbeam 10-15-20m tribander and the tripod.

Going through security is always interesting, one bag with my laptop and paperwork was OK, but the backpack raised some eyebrows as it contained the Icom IC706MKIIG, power supply, antenna switch, SWR meter, CAT interface and headphones - I think they were more surprised at how much could fit in the bag rather than the contents themselves.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hopeful of good propagation

Well the ARRL SSB weekend has been very encouraging for propagation during the DXpedition in a few days time. On 10m I managed 20 QSO’s with BC, CA, AZ, OR and WA around 2300-0100 UTC. On the island I was going to check out 10m mainly for JA around this time, however I’ll have the Spiderbeam pointing to USA as well. 20m during the weekend was a bust and I could only make contacts with the K/VE big guns on 15m. However each evening 40m was fantastic and I was even able to generate a few short runs into the east coast. I wasn’t competing in the contest, I was simply testing the DXpedition antennas. So I’ll make a big effort in the 0730 – 1200 UTC on 40m to work the America’s.

So at this stage, I would say my operating patterns on the first couple of days would be a bit like this:


0100 UTC      Arrive at Horn Island and gather supplies
0700 UTC      Have antenna’s and operating position set-up and ready to go
0700-1200     40m SSB short path for America’s and Asia
1200-              20m SSB short path to Europe until band dies, then back to 40m SSB
                        and PSK31 for west coast North America
1400'ish         off to bed to recharge the batteries
1900-2100     40m SSB short path for Europe and Asia
2100-0000     15m SSB short path for America’s and Asia


0000-0200     15m and 10m SSB short path for America’s and Asia
0200-0300     lunch break
0300-0500     15m SSB short path for Asia
0500-0730     20m SSB long path for Europe/short path South America
0730-1200     40m SSB short path for America’s and Asia
1200-              20m SSB short path to Europe until band dies, then back to 40m SSB
                         and PSK31 for west coast North America
1400'ish         off to bed to recharge the batteries
1900-2100     40m SSB short path for Europe and Asia
2100-0000     15m SSB short path for America’s and Asia

Hopefully this pattern will result in an equal spread of QSO’s between Europe, Asia and the America’s. I’ll be listening above 7175 for US generals and probably be transmitting around 7125 or lower to avoid QRM.  

For the Saturday and Sunday, I’ll be spending a lot of time on 15m during 2200-0900 UTC. Anyway, I’ll see how things go, fingers crossed for 10m openings too.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Recognisance visit to Horn Island completed

A hectic fly in and fly out visit occurred to check out Horn Island. I flew out first thing in the morning to Cairns and then took a flight to Horn Island and arrived by mid-morning. I was picked up at the airport by one of the friendly Wongai Beach Resort staff and shown around the area by another staff member. She showed me my room which was to be DXpedition HQ, the last self contained shack, the last in the in the row with nothing but a fence and about 40m of land to the water.

I have permission to set up the vertical antenna and Spiderbeam in between my shack and the pool and no one will get in the way of my radials …. actually it should probably read vice-versa! The room has a bed, air conditioner, fridge, ensuite bathroom and table to operate from. The pub is also nearby, so when the bands are quiet around noon local at 0200-0300 UTC, I can see the daily ritual of a counter lunch and a few beers occurring as my main meal of the day. I’ll also be able to put one end of the 40m dipole of the Spiderbeam mast pole and then send the other end over a large 15m high tree with my newly acquired antenna slingshot launcher.

It’s great to have the manager of the accommodation so welcoming and allowing antenna’s to go up, it’s always a big relief to know you have permission. It’s also a load off my mind to know that the antennas will fit. The day trip added hundreds of dollars to the self-funded DXpedition budget, but it’s a worthwhile investment to get this kind of planning and piece of mind done.

It’s 2½ weeks to go now, so just a practice run with the antenna assembly on the weekend is left before I start figuring out how to fit everything in. I ended up booking two seats for myself to ensure I can take the IC-706MKIIG, ATU, CAT interface, headphones, power supply, SWR meter, camera and laptop on with me as two hand luggage bags. It also means I’ll have 46 kg of stowed baggage allowance for the HF9V vertical, 10m Spiderbeam mast, Spiderbeam antenna, coaxial cable, guy ropes, radial wires, leads, clothes etc.

Horn Island is at a fantastic latitude for 10m and 15m propagation so fingers crossed the improved solar conditions will allow some action on 10m. I can see myself spending early morning, all day and early evening on 15m and 10m when it’s open. Unlike the Fitzroy and Magnetic Island DXpeditions, Horn Island has no mountains and is nice and flat. So there is no beam heading that is going to be blocked, it’s all up to the DX gods. I have a complete water take off to short path JA and Asia, short path and long path North America, short path Europe/Middle East/Africa and long path South America. That afternoon I flew to Cairns and then to Townsville with hopes and spirits high.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

DXpedition now brought forward to March 10-14

Due to a clash of other commitments I've had to change the date of the DXpedition. Rather than postpone, I have brought it forward to March 10-14 and it's now only a few weeks away. So I'm getting excited already!  This weekend I'll erect the antennas at home which I'll take to the island, namely Butternut HF9V vertical, 40m dipole with slingshot launcher and spider beam for 10/15/20.

I'll only be operating SSB, PSK31 and RTTY as I don't do CW. I'm also not licensed for the WARC bands so I'll be on 40, 20, 15 and 10m.

With PSK31 I'll be operating split to avoid the QRM nightmare, I did that on Fitzroy Island on 20m PSK31 to Europe and it worked really well and the QSO's were happening at one per minute rather than the usual 3-4 minutes per QSO.

At that time of the year there's a chance for long and short path 20m openings to Europe and the America's, so I'll be on the bands as much as possible, probably 18 hours per day with a focus on SSB but then going to digital modes if the QSO rate drops or I'm not being heard. 15m should also be alive and kicking to Asia and then Europe during the day and early evening. Hopefully 15m will offer something to the America's in my local mornings, I'll also constantly check 10m for openings. 40m PSK31 and RTTY has been great to North, Central and South America over the past few days on the dipole that I'll be using on the DXpedition, so I'll be sure to visit 40m in my local evenings for this part of the world.

I should have internet access at the radio and I'll be able to announce where I am and when I do band and mode changes. I'll also do daily updates on my blog during the DXpedition like I did to Fitzroy Island in October last year to let people know what the band openings are likely to be and where to find me.

Hope to see you on the bands de Craig VK4LDX

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Next IOTA DXpedition to be OC-138

My next IOTA DXpedition will be to Horn Island OC-138 on April 22 – 27. This trip will be followed by a quick visit again to Magnetic Island OC-171 on April 29 – May 2. The IOTA antenna has been upgraded so the old Butternut HF9V will now be the back up. The main antenna will be a newly acquired Spiderbeam 20m-15m-10m tribander to be put on a 10m aluminium pole with tripod which all arrived yesterday. I'll be using the new Spiderbeam set up when I operate AX4LDX in late January