Send DX Hints or Kinks to any of the Blog Authors shown below.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Inexpensive Way to Power ON/OFF a Station Accessory

Bert, N8NN, recently added a microHAM microKEYER II to his station.  In doing so he discovered a minor issue which he needed to solve regarding how to turn the microKEYER II on and off.  Bert uses a Yaesu FT-1000mp which conveniently has a 12 volt DC connector on the back to power small accessories but he needed to make a slight modification to allow that to turn his microKEYER II ON/OFF.  Here are Bert's comments:
"The Yaesu 12 volt DC output accessory connector on the back does not have adequate current capacity to power the microKEYER, and there is a caution in the microKEYER manual to not use it to power the microKEYER.  I power the microKEYER from a 1.2 amp wall wart.  The problem is that the on/off switch for the microKEYER is on the back of the box, hard to reach.  I don’t want to leave the microKEYER powered all the time, so I needed a relay to turn on the microKEYER when the Yaesu is powered up.  I found the perfect relay on Amazon at 

I put the circuit board in a small plastic box, powered the board from the Yaesu 12 volt accessory jack and cut the wall wart positive lead to insert the relay contacts.  Problem solved.  Photo attached."
This relay board only cost $5.39 from Amazon!  Bert found a super inexpensive way to control the turning on and off of his microKEYER II.  Nice job, Bert!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

WVDXA Receives Certificate from EP2A DX'pedition

Back in March, Garry, W8OI, collected donations from WVDXA members for the EP2A DX'pedition to Iran which occurred from April 15 - 25, 2016.  In total, 23 club members donated a total of $645 to this DX'pedition.  This is almost EXACTLY our average contribution to any DX'pedition.  However, it happens that out of 19 Club and Association donors to this DX'pedition, we were the SECOND largest donor, just behind the Northern California DX Foundation!


Below is a scan of the Certificate we received from the DX'pedition this week.  Also, we received two DVD's of their DX'pedition.  Anyone who wants to view that, just contact W8TN.  You can click on the photo below to see a larger image.

As of our most recent contribution to Bouvet, 3YØZ, the WVDXA has donated to 21 DX'pedition's and three times to Clublog for a total of nearly $15,000!  Pretty cool for a tiny bunch of mostly retired hams.  I'm definitely impressed!

Friday, May 13, 2016

May 2016 WVDXA Meeting at Jane Lew, WV

As I was not able to attend the meeting (DARN!) Hal, W8HC, has authored the following description of the affair and provided the photos.  THANKS, Hal!


Saturday was a wonderful day to be a member of WVDXA especially if you were in attendance at the meeting held at the impressive countryside QTH of Blair, W8KC, and Margaret Wright. 

Some 25 WVDXA members and guests were on hand for delicious gourmet food, DX fellowship and informative presentations.  I daresay our WVDXA meetings would rival any DX Club’s!

Bob Anthony, W8OM, (aka Papa November) took the ride up I-79 with me to Blair’s historic Jane Lew home which had once belonged to Howard Mason Gore (October 12, 1877 – June 20, 1947).  Gore served as 17th Governor of West Virginia from 1925 to 1929 and he previously served as the 8th Secretary of Agriculture from 1924 to 1925, during the administration of President Calvin Coolidge

We were warmly greeted by our gracious host Blair, and as soon as Bob and I entered the house, the mouth-watering aroma of Margaret’s lasagna baking in the oven immediately caught our attention.   

Other members were soon to arrive and we were treated to a pre-dinner “Show and Tell” which included a tour of Blair’s incredible downstairs hamshack.  Here we were introduced to his “Children.”  Well sort of… there was “Big Dawg,” “The Beast,” “Ole Yellar,” and “The Boss” some of the best looking homebrew amplifiers you would find anywhere!  Blair is an artisan when it comes to building amps and he has quite an awesome collection of classic Drake gear too!  Sorry about the drooling problem in your shack Blair!

Dinner was served and believe you me, the lasagna tasted every bit as good as it smelled.  There were salads and other great side dishes, garlic bread and meatballs… just an incredible spread.  Miraculously, everyone still found room for dessert, an array which included some of WV8RC’s spectacular home made pies and other assorted confections brought by the some of the guys.  If anyone left the Wright house hungry, it was his own fault!
Once the meal concluded, it was time for the business portion of the WVDXA meeting.  

Garry Ritchie, W8OI, was recognized for his recent award of #1 DXCC Honor Roll and proudly attended the meeting sporting his shiny new #1 HR pin.

A treasurer’s report was given with current balance of $295 followed by the “hat being passed” and another $263 being contributed to the “cause.”

The membership then voted to donate $100 to ClubLog as we have done in the past.

With the “business” out of the way it was time for the presentations.   Blair started things off with a show-and-tell that featured the K4AVU crimping tool used for easily installing the pesky PL-259 connectors.  He also demonstrated how to use DX Engineering’s coax cable stripping tool. Both of these items are “must haves” if you are looking for an “easier” way to install coax connectors. 

We were treated to a special WVDXA guest with the attendance of Wal Eckles, W8LRL.  Most of you already know that Wal is the “Top Dawg” on Top Band and is the only DXer in the world…. Yes, I said “World”… who has DXCC Honor Roll status ONLY with countries worked on 160-meters.  In fact, with deletes, Wal has worked a total of 342 entities on top band!  So it was a real privilege to hear Wal’s presentation as he gave us a great biographical account of his amateur/DX/160m career that has placed him at the pinnacle of top band DXing. 

Wal shared many photos and QSLs and has compiled quite a documentary that captures not only the W8LRL story but also chronicles some 160m “history” of top band operations that includes his correspondence and consultation with Mr. Top Band himself, Stew Perry, W1BB (SK). 

For those of us who have operated 160m or even attained DXCC on top band, we can appreciate the effort, patience and antenna work that would go in to attaining 342 countries on this difficult band! 

We were truly honored to have W8LRL in our midst!  [Ed. Note: Click on any photo to see a larger image.]

Wal, W8LRL
Although it was a “tough act” to follow, I, W8HC, was next up to give the K5P Palmyra Atoll presentation.  This was a slightly modified version of the team’s “official” PowerPoint presentation developed by John, K6MM. 
For those of you that weren’t in attendance, I do want to once again acknowledge and thank WVDXA for your generous support of our K5P DXpedition back in January. 

Following the K5P presentation, we adjourned and there were a few of us who made a final pass by the dessert tray before our group photo session.

It was indeed a great meeting with WV’s finest DXers… proud to be a WVDXA member and have such great company.

The photo below is Blair, W8KC, showing us his shack and a couple of his awesome home brewed amps.
Blair, W8KC
The group photograph below - Left to Right:

Dr. Jim Adams K4JWA, Garry Ritchie W8OI, Frank Powell KA8SYV, Rich Dillon K8VE, Gene Scherrer W8VZ, Bob Anthony W8OM, Wal Eckles W8LRL, Ron Selders W8UQ, Alan Carpenter W8OP, "Mac" Gray W8LMG, Anthony Simons W8AF, Al Worstell KE8UN, Blair Wright W8KC, Dave Poe W8IW, Steve Burgess KD8VNN, Hal Turley W8HC.
Attending but not pictured: Becky Thompson K8BT, Karl Thompson K8KT, Larry Fravel K8YYY, Rick Cummings WV8RC, Larry Chapman, N8ZL.
Group Photo - May 2016 WVDXA Meeting
Thanks again to Blair and Margaret for opening their home up to us and for the awesome hospitality and lasagna!!  We will need to do that again!!
Hal, W8HC

Friday, April 22, 2016

How Heard Island gave me W8OI a lifetime thrill

It all came down to this.  After decades of trying to confirm QSOs with every DXCC land mass in the world, a ham radio contact with one desolate island on the opposite side of our globe was all that I needed to finally reach the Top of the DXCC Honor Roll.   And after four years of planning, in March of this year a team of 12 strong and brave scientists, who were also ham radio operators, took a long, difficult voyage to get there to give me that QSO with the final DXCC entity I needed to “run the table.”

VK0EK team ready to depart Cape Town
The place is Heard Island.  It is about as far away from us in West Virginia as anything on earth can be.  It is close to Antarctica in the southern Indian Ocean.  No people live there, just animals, birds and perhaps thousands of other native species, many of which were heretofore undiscovered.  In addition to setting up amateur radio antennas and transceivers this crew was there to discover as many of those animals and plants as possible.  They were there to do serious research.

The story has a happy ending.  A wealth of scientific knowledge was uncovered and documented.  And thousands of hams around the world, like yours truly, got that last QSO needed to be able to say that they have worked and confirmed all 339 current entities on the DXCC list.  With the sunspot cycle dropping drastically, propagation to the US was poor much of the time but I was able to work Heard several times on CW, SSB and RTTY.  Many other hams logged this difficult one with a “whew” as they climbed another rung up the DXCC ladder.  By the time it ended, this VK0EK DXpedition made more than 75,000 QSOs with radio amateurs on every continent.  Perhaps you worked them too.  If you did, be thankful and consider the sacrifices they made for your pleasure.

Natives stand guard over tent city
As readers of this blog may recall, I was able to go on a DXpedition myself in 2009 to an uninhabited island in the Caribbean called Desecheo (KP5).  It was a “bucket list” trip for me, I personally worked thousands of hams world-wide around the clock for two weeks.  That K5D DXpedition logged 115,787 QSOs.  It was a satisfying accomplishment but it was also hard work and involved long, hot days with very little sleep and nearly a month away from home at my own expense.  So I appreciate what the Heard Island team went through.
For them it was a commitment of nearly seven weeks.  The international team first flew into Cape Town, South Africa from countries around the globe.  Next they sterilized everything they were taking with them because Heard Island is a nature preserve, not to be polluted.  They packed all of their radio gear, generators, fuel, food, water and an endless list of other stuff.  They then loaded all of that, along with themselves, on a vessel called The Braveheart and voyaged 12 long days to Heard.  That voyage was more than 3-thousand miles long and the ship averaged 11 miles per hour through cold and rough seas.  Imagine driving in an automobile night and day without stop at 11 miles an hour for 12 days going from the southern California coast  to the northeastern tip of Maine (about the same length of trip).  When the DXpedition ended another voyage of comparable distance was required departing Heard for Perth, Australia.  Then came the work of unpacking the ship before flying home to wherever.  And while on the island they struggled in bitterly cold weather erecting a huge field of antennas, a tent city had to be built, six stations had to be set up, then those stations had to be operated 24/7, all the research had to be carried out to discover new forms of life in the extremes and finally there was the “fun” of tearing it all down and packing it back aboard ship.

One of many antennas amid desolation
Wasn’t it nice of them to do that just so I could realize a nearly life-long ambition to confirm radio contacts with every entity in the world?  Hi hi.  After 63 years of hamming they put me right up on cloud nine.  

But best of all is the pride I feel in the fine company I share on that cloud.  The WVDXA has eight members at #1 DXCC Honor Roll.  In alphabetical order the other seven are N8DX, W8HC, W8OM (ex WA8VPN), W3UR, W8UV, W8WEJ, and WA8WV.  Three other members - K4OM, W8TN and W8QY - just need one more entity to have them all.   And three SK members made the #1 list before they moved on to that great ham shack in the sky - W8AH, W8QHG and W8GG.  Not bad for our little club, huh?

Friday, January 1, 2016

WVDXA is NO. 1 in Club Leagues on Club Log

The West Virginia DX Association (WVDXA) has now achieved the TOP of the Club League listing on Club Log.  Currently there are 110 clubs worldwide listed there and the fact that the WVDXA has reached the top of that listing is MAGNIFICENT!

We are certainly not an "old" club and not one with a huge membership.  But, the "DX Flame" burns strongly in all our members.  The camaraderie of this tightly-knit group of DX'ers is un-matched!  Those in the group who have been DX'ing for as much as 60 years are just as willing to help the newcomers as anyone else.

CONGRATULATIONS, guys!  This is the result of an untold number of hours of sweat, tears, and just plain hard work to put together your stations and to dig out those weak signals.

We ARE Number ONE!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

WVDXA Fall Chili Lunch

Group Photo at the WVDXA Fall Chili Lunch
N8RR's Elmer Award
The WVDXA Fall Chili Lunch at the home of Frank, KA8SYV, and his gracious wife, Paula, was a rousing success!  Above you can see a shot of all 25 who attended.  (All photos are courtesy of Hal, W8HC.)

Frank presents the Elmer Award to N8RR
At the meeting, Frank, KA8YSV, presented Charlie, N8RR, with the Elmer award seen on the right.  As Frank made the presentation the group burst into a huge round of applause!  A close-up of the award can be seen on the right.  Click on any photo to see a larger image.

During "Show and Tell", Jim, K4JWA, gave a demonstration of his "Air Boss" launcher.  Putting antenna wires over tall trees is now a relatively easy matter.  Jim has a neat "Go Bag" with a motorcycle battery, a compressor, guage, etc. to charge up the Air Boss.   When fired, it launches a large sinker 100-feet or more into the air and that pulls a fishing line out of the reel attached to the tube.  Tie a larger line on the end with the sinker and reel it back in.  Beats a slingshot for sure!

K4JWA & the Air Boss
Also at "Show and Tell", Charlie, N8RR, demonstrated his SARK Antenna Analyzer to several interested members.  And, Clark, W8TN, displayed a mint DX'ing tool from 30 years ago - The DX Edge.  This grey-line sliderule was donated to Clark by Wally, W8LRL.

The absolute highlight of the meeting was when the entire group sang "Happy Birthday" and presented a card signed by everyone along with a Birthday Cake to Jimmy, W8JA's mom, Oleta.  She just celebrated her 91st Birthday yesterday!  What an amazing woman!
Oleta's 91st Birthday!

Since ALL three of the WV ARRL DXCC Card Checkers were in attendance, everyone could get their QSL's checked!  Donations for the upcoming FT4JA DX'pedition were collected by Larry, K8YYY.  Hal, W8HC, again thanked the club for it's donation to the upcoming VK9WA DX'pedition where he will be one of the operators. And, lots and lots of DX stories, tips and tricks were shared by everyone.  Not to forget, we consumed two different kinds of chili, nachos, donuts, two different kinds of AWESOME pie and some OUTRAGEOUS lemon cake, brownies, cookies, beverages, and so on - you get the idea - We Ate WELL!

W8ZT Enjoys the Chili!
Everyone who had a hand in this affair, even if all they did was show up, is to be commended!  It was another FANTASTIC WVDXA get-together.  And, we decided to try and schedule some kind of similar event every three months, even if we have to have it at Golden Corral.  Email is nice, but getting together like this really gets the DX juices flowing!

Attendees included:  Clark, W8TN, & Evelyn, Dave, W8IW, Janice, KC8BFF, Rick, W8ZT, Larry, K8YYY, & Beckie, Mary, KD8IPW, Jim, K4JWA, Dave, WA8WV, & Mary, Tim, K8RRT, Joe, WV8WVU, Frank, KA8SYV, & Paula, Bart, WT8V, Garry, W8OI, Jimmy, W8JA, & Oleta, Alan, W8OP, Charlie, N8RR, Rick, WV8RC, & Charlotte, Bob, WA8VPN, and Hal, W8HC.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

W8TN named Outstanding West Virginia Amateur of Year

W8TN (left) presented WV Outstanding Amateur
plaque by ARRL Section Manager N8SFO
Clark Stewart, W8TN, was honored at the West Virginia ARRL Convention on August 22, 2015 as the Outstanding Amateur Radio Operator of the Year in the state.  The recognition was based on his activities during the calendar year 2014.  During an awards ceremony he was handed a beautiful plaque by WV ARRL Section Manager Phillip Groves, N8SFO. 

The award is given annually by the West Virginia State Amateur Radio Council after receiving nominations from clubs and individuals from around the state.   I was happy to write Clark's letter of nomination, pointing out the following.
"In my opinion, Clark has been deserving of this honor for many years.  Since getting his first license in 1964 he has always been active, helpful, knowledgeable, courteous and tireless in advancing amateur radio and leading other hams by example.  But what he achieved in 2014 for amateur radio in West Virginia truly was astounding. 
A prime example, which took a huge amount of his time during that year, was the October W1AW/8 operation from West Virginia.  W8TN was the “back office” for that highly successful week-long event.  Starting months in advance he set up a Blog, an Online Schedule for the many volunteer operators, and a Google Group Email Reflector and Chat Page.  He helped hams statewide install and train on logging programs, built sample macros for CW and RTTY operation and helped Hal, W8HC, sort out the bugs in final logs.  He put hundreds of hours into this operation which resulted in more than 40,000 QSO’s from W1AW/8 in WV during that one week of operation.
He led the effort to resurrect the long dormant West Virginia DX Association in 1963 and now serves as its President.  In January 2014 he urged the WVDXA members to compile an inventory of their ham radio related items to help their survivors who may not be hams to know the value of their equipment.  He constantly shares such advice and his knowledge of ham radio by answering questions from hams (not just in the WVDXA) on just about anything.
In April, 2014 he spent dozens of hours migrating the WVDXA members to a new Google Group email reflector after AOL and Yahoo changed the way emails to mailing lists were handled. 
Clark annually reminds WVDXA members how to save their Logbook of the World Certificates and helps many hams each year with LoTW issues.  As a case in point, a WVDXA member, W8UV, was trying to complete his Triple-Play award in September 2014 but could not get a RTTY QSL on LoTW from Hawaii.  Clark, on behalf of Phil, contacted the KH6 station and after 6 hours on the telephone remotely working on the Hawaiian’s computers, managed to fix the LoTW issue so that more than 10,000 QSO’s could be loaded up to LoTW. 
In this same way, he helps dozens of hams with computer issues by remotely connecting to their computer and solving their computer issues on a weekly basis.  He constantly helps people with the Logger32 logging program and publishes tips on his personal Blog ( about that logging program.
Clark will help any ham with any problem and does so regularly.  He helps install antennas, troubleshoots “shack” problems, teaches basic electronics, helps young people learn Morse Code, conducts ham radio forums, and fund raises for ham radio projects such as DXpeditions to rare countries and entities.  Under his leadership the WVDXA has raised more than $10,000 to help ham radio causes.  He does this constantly and certainly did it throughout 2014.
He has worked and confirmed every DXCC entity in the world except for North Korea and has personally operated on several rare DXpeditions around the world.  He has even worked beyond this world, including arranging communication with the Space Shuttle by students in Davisville, WV.
But Clark’s greatest attribute, in my opinion, is his almost constant desire to help others.  As an example of that, on November 2, 2014, Tim Stinespring, K8RRT, was in a serious auto accident.  W8TN immediately drove to the hospital, sat with Tim’s wife and daughter, and spent an enormous amount of time helping Tim and his family with the practical and legal issues of his accident.  Since Clark is an attorney, his expert advice, given for free, was a Godsend.
Clark Stewart is the real deal.  So it is with great pleasure that I nominate him to be the latest WV Outstanding Amateur, and I ask you and the other voters to give him careful consideration for this honor."
The WV State Amateur Radio Council obviously agreed.  They bestowed the honor on our WVDXA President as a number of WVDXA members, as well as other hams from around the Mountain State, watched with great pride.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

WVDXA Supports Clublog Again

Upon unanimous consent of the membership, 'da Prez made a donation to Clublog in the name of the WVDXA in the amount of $100.00 U.S. (£64.13 British Pounds).  This will help support the operation of this great resource that many of us use at least weekly (if not daily!)  Below are comments about the current and future expenses of Clublog from their website:

Current Expediture

The running costs for Club Log between 1 April 2013 and 1 April 2014 were £10,230 ($16,368)
Most of our costs are for utilities. Club Log is a very intensive application that analyzes a vast database, and it also receives large volumes of visitors. For example, hosting a large expedition typically results in over a million page loads in a few weeks. The servers (main and standby in two different locations) each require a fast internet connection, electricity and cooling 24/7/365. Other expenses include subscriptions to directories and news services, conventions, security certificates, fees paid to our helpdesk supplier (Freshdesk), and disk storage for backups.

Future Expenditure

In 2015 and beyond, there are several new projects related to Club Log which will need a lot of disk storage and perhaps some RF equipment that we're planning ahead for. Additionally, it is becoming clear that a new server for running reports will be needed, separate from the main service, so that at busy times less juggling of resources is necessary. At the moment, Most Wanted charts are being scheduled to be updated at quiet times between expeditions, for example. This is a trend that will probably continue and it's going to be necessary to expand a little to keep up!

Looking at the donations list over the last year, it appears that Clublog's running costs average $1,364 a month.  Adding up the donations in May 2015, they only received $1,079 during that month.  But the April receipts totaled $2,277 so they more than made up for the May deficit in the prior month.  March was even better with $3,156 being received.  That means they received about $2,400 more than their running expenses for that 3-month period.  Hopefully the remaining 9 months have supplied enough funds to help with the future expenditure plans.  This looks good for the future health of Clublog.

The following email was received in acknowledgement of our donation:
Dear West Virginia DX Association (W8AH),

Thanks for your generous donation to Club Log! Each time a user performs an
upload or uses the expedition search tools, a donor's name is displayed at
random, as mark of appreciation.

Your donation ensures Club Log is free of charge and free from advertising.
It is thanks to the fantastic kindness of regular users that the running
costs are covered.

So thanks again, and I hope you continue to enjoy using the site! It's a
pleasure to have your involvement, and I am very grateful for your

vy 73,
Michael G7VJR

Friday, April 11, 2014

The 2014 Amsterdam Is. DX'pedition – a Most Memorable Experience

My good friend, Arnie, N6HC, has give the WVDXA a first person account of the recent FT5ZM DX'pedition to Amsterdam Island.  What follows is his account of the "Trip of a Lifetime" (in my opinion) to a place that just can not be any further away from West Virginia!

N6HC Operating as FT5ZM
On January 14, 2014 a team of 14 very experienced DXpeditioners departed Fremantle, Western Australia on the RV Braveheart for a nine day 1900 nautical mile passage to Amsterdam Island in the southern Indian Ocean. The team consisted of ten North Americans, one South American and three Europeans.  The countries represented were the United States (New Jersey, Ohio, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, California), Canada, Martinique, Colombia, Norway, Russia and Tajikistan. We planned to activate Amsterdam Island for the first time since 1998. The island ranked in the top five of most wanted entities for DXCC.  Ralph Fedor, K0IR, had spent over two years organizing this trip to make it one of the most successful DXpeditions in recent memory.
The Northern Corridor Radio Group consisting of members from Perth and the surrounding areas proved to be an invaluable resource to the project.  They provided transportation from the airport, hosted two BBQs and loaned us multiple aluminum tower sections for our Yagi antennas.
The crew of five plus our ship Captain, Matt Jolly, worked tirelessly to ready the boat for our journey.  It quickly became clear that our team was really twenty strong as the crew was completely committed to making our endeavor a successful one.  They did a lot of the heavy lifting and made sure that we were comfortable and safe for our passage. The Indian Ocean was not so thoughtful and made our journey somewhat uncomfortable for several days.  We passed the time operating maritime mobile as VK6FZM, read books, did crossword and Sudoku puzzles, watched DVDs and clung tightly to our bunks during heavy seas.  We came to know each other very well over those nine days.
We arrived at the island on January 23, 2014 and the following day began transferring our equipment to the island by Zodiac.  The French inhabitants were extremely helpful with this task and efficiently allocated the offloaded equipment to the appropriate station sites using a fork-lift, tractor and trailer.  We didn’t know what to expect from the twenty resident islanders but our trepidation was quickly allayed.  We saw nothing but smiles and a can-do attitude that made it clear that our team had grown again this time to forty strong.  After a brief orientation, we split up into two radio teams and went to our respective work sites…either the lower Mataf site about 76 feet above sea level and a half mile from the Martin de Vivies base or the upper Antonelli site about 650 feet above sea level with a two mile hike from the base and uphill through very rough terrain.  It took us a couple of days to assemble the antennas and stations, erect the antennas, establish generator power and network our computers.
At both sites we used three element monoband Yagis on 10, 12, 15, 17 and 20 meters, single element vertical antennas for 30, 40 and 80 meters and an EY8MM “special” 160 meter top loaded vertical only at the Antonelli site.  The Yagis were rotated manually by the “Armstrong” method. The transceivers were Elecraft K3s driving either OM Power OM-2000 or Elecraft KPA-500 amplifiers. Several of the transceivers had auxiliary Elecraft panadapters.  The interfaces were by W3YY, the band pass filters were individual ICE models in the shack and 4O3A high power models at the tower base.  We used N1MM logging software and the MMTTY engine for radio teletype.  There were three 6000 watt generators at each site and the Braveheart crew maintained the generators throughout the operation. Corporate sponsorship was generous and without their support this operation would have been impossible. FT5ZM hit the airwaves on January 26, 2014 to humongous pile-ups.  Those pile-ups never abated. When we closed the operation on February 12, 2014 the pile-ups were still humongous.  In spite of meticulous planning, several obstacles were encountered.  The terrain between Antonelli and Mataf made networking of both sites problematic.  Some of the computer power supplies were RF noisy making it difficult to operate on some bands.  After one week of operation, we found that our 40 and 80 meter operation from Mataf was interfering with the geomagnetic monitoring that the resident scientists were carrying out; we had to shut down 40 and 80 meter operation from Mataf. 
FT5ZM Team
During the day, we were serenaded by the island seals and their calves who clamored for their next meal.  There were thousands of seals that called Amsterdam their home.  At night they came out of the ocean to nestle in the thick clumps of grass which were interspersed with large lava rocks.  They had no fear of humans and, if approached, could become very aggressive.  Our French host required us to agree not to travel at dark from our operating shacks.  It was dangerous at Mataf because we might find a family of seals in the brush around our towers; seal bites can be very nasty.  It was dangerous at Antonelli because the two mile hike to base was over uneven and perilous terrain.  The only way to abide with this constraint was to have 12 or 24 hour shifts.  There were three bunk beds at each site so it was possible to catch a quick nap if one was necessary.  Small “kitchens” were set up at each site so a meal could be enjoyed if anyone needed a snack or drink.
We were treated royally at Martin de Vivies base.  We were housed in a dormitory with two to a room.  We had flush toilets, warm showers and comfortable bunk beds.  We had use of the local laundry facilities and internet, although our connection rate was painfully slow and we had to use French keyboards!  The biggest surprise was the gourmet food that we enjoyed.  Breakfast was from 6:30 AM to 9:00 AM and was continental with a choice of fruit, fruit juices, hot chocolate, coffee or tea, cold cereal and warm baguettes with butter, margarine or jam.  Lunch and dinner were a different matter altogether.  We were treated to fresh fish, lobster, sausage, beef or chicken, salads, vegetables, rice, French fries (frites), pasta and delicious sauces to dress up the already yummy feast.  Dessert consisted of various choices of cheeses, cakes and pastries and even ice cream sundaes with chocolate and whipped cream toppings. With each meal there was a choice of beverage which included French wine.  No one suffered malnutrition on Amsterdam Island!  There was also a small bar which served soft drinks, beer, wine and various liquors.  No one suffered from thirst on Amsterdam Island, either!  It was not unusual for the team to give Francis, the chef, a round of applause in appreciation of his delicious creations.
Our radio team was integrated into the French team at the Skua restaurant.  We each performed at least once as “petit Marie” helping “grande Marie” clean the restaurant floor once daily and set and bus the tables for lunch and dinner. 
The eight K3 transceivers hummed for seventeen days churning out 170,000 QSOs. The breakdown by continent was 50% Europe, 25% North America, 22% Asia, and 3% Africa/South America and Oceania. The statistics by mode were 95,000 CW, 63,000 SSB and 12,000 RTTY.  Our most productive bands were 10 meters (30,834), followed closely by 15 meters (28,237) and 20 meters (27,816). We worked DXCC on every band except 80 meters (96) and 160 meters (85). There were over 36,000 unique calls in the log.
Unfortunately, we had to cease operation one day earlier than scheduled due to an approaching unfavorable weather front causing rough surf. Heavy seas would make it impossible to load the RV Braveheart.  With a heavy heart, we departed the island and waved goodbye to our friends at the pier. The nine day transit back to Fremantle blessed us with six days of calm weather and only three more days of tossing and rolling.  We were all glad to finally place our feet on solid ground on February 22.  With our sea legs still under us and the ground “moving,” we were graciously treated to another BBQ by the Northern Corridor Radio Group at their club station. The following evening our radio team started leaving the continent down under. 
We will fondly remember the generosity of our Australian hosts, the graciousness of our French hosts and the comradeship of the Braveheart crew. We gratefully thank our support team who helped at every step of the DXpedition. Lastly, we will never forget our radio team mates and what we accomplished together on this DXpedition.  We hope you made it into the log and that you enjoyed our adventure as much as we did.  
DXpedition web site: http:\\
Copyright © 2014 by Arnold Shatz

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

First FT5ZM Operating Site Photos

FT5ZM Operating Locations
Here are the first photos of the FT5ZM Operating Sites.  The photo above shows the relative locations of both operating sites.  Mataf is near the landing site but Antonelli is over a MILE away!  Click on the photos to see a larger image.
Antonelli Site

The photo on the left showing the antennas is of the Antonelli Site.  Check out all those beams!  How much effort went into transporting those antennas and towers to the site plus erecting them and installing the coax.  The second photo on the left is from the Mataf site. 
Mataf Site

Jerry, WB9Z, one of the FT5ZM Team made the following comment 4 days ago just at the end of their first day on the island:
"The terrain is very rough for walking and putting up antennas. We’re talking up to 2 feet of dead grass on top of lava rock. This is one of the (if not the) roughest Dxpeditions ever been on. The entire team is exhausted after a very long day. All generators are in place, but there is still so much to be done."
How hard was it to tote all the towers, antennas, coax, rope, anchors, radios, amplifiers, generators, fuel, food, personal effects, and dozens of other things to the Antonelli site?  Then, everything had to be assembled, beams and towers put up, and all the equipment interconnected.  I am in awe of what these guys have done in so short a time.

Doesn't this make you want to leave the comfort of your shack and run out on one of these major DX'peditions!