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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Equipment for FT5ZM has been Shipped

Most hams never think about all the work that needs to be done BEFORE a DX'pedition can come on the air.  On the FT5ZM website there is a series of photos with descriptions showing just some of the work that has been done.  Click HERE for a link to that Post.

The container of all this equipment was shipped on October 15th to New Zealand where it will be put aboard the MV Braveheart which is the ship that will transport the FT5ZM team to Amsterdam Island.  But first, the Braveheart will have to travel from New Zealand to Western Australia.   That's some 3,400 miles if you FLEW!  It's, of course, many more miles when traveling by sea.  Then it's a NINE day ocean voyage from Fremantle, Western Australia, to Amsterdam Island.  Click HERE for a link to the website for the MV Braveheart.

The map below shows the locations mentioned above.  Click on the map to see a larger image.  The location on the bottom-right for New Zealand is where the MV Braveheart is based.  That ship will need to take the container of FT5ZM equipment all the way to Fremantle, Western Australia.  See the red-bordered insert of the USA (at the same scale as the main map) to get an idea of the distances involved.  Once the FT5ZM team boards the Braveheart, they have a NINE day trip on the ocean to Amsterdam Island covering some 1,900 nautical miles!  As you can see, Amsterdam Island is 11,317 miles from Hurricane, WV.  Point D on the map just to the right of FT5ZM marked "Antipode" is the exact opposite side of the Earth from Hurricane, WV!  If you drilled straight down from Hurricane, WV, this is where you would come out (not China!)

That container full of equipment will have had to travel a huge distance (from Atlanta, GA, to New Zealand, to Western Australia, then to Amsterdam Island.)  The team members will have had to travel similar distances.  Just to check on what is involved, I looked on a travel website (Orbitz) to see how one would fly to Western Australia from Los Angeles.  The best flight I found was a two-step one.  The first was a 16-hour flight to Dubai for a 2 hour lay-over and then an 11-hour flight to Perth, Australia.  Cost was $1,905.  I then changed the departure to Charleston, WV, and for $2,638.49 I could be in Perth in just 30 hours and 15 minutes but on 4 separate flights.  By the way, those travel costs are being paid by each individual operator.

Once the DX'pedition is over, all that equipment and the Team will have to travel those same distances again to return.  Putting Amsterdam Island on the air in the major way this group is planning, takes a HUGE investment of time, money, skill, people, just about everything you can imagine.  Below is the tentative schedule of operations from the FT5ZM Website:
The MV Braveheart will arrive in the port of Fremantle, Australia on January 12, 2014 and be available for the team to board. Fuel and supplies will be taken aboard and port documentation procedures completed. The vessel will sail for Amsterdam Island on January 15, 2014. The sailing time to Amsterdam Island will be 9 days, with an estimated arrival date of January 24.
Landing operations will commence as soon as the sea conditions and weather allow. Once the team is ashore, they will have 18 days to set up, conduct the DXpedition, and tear down for departure.
The return sail to Fremantle is also estimated at 9 days. The team anticipates being back in Fremantle by February 23, 2014.
With only 18 days to set up, operate and tear down their stations, they will be in a massive rush to get on the air as soon as possible and to operate as efficiently as possible.  If everything goes as planned, it will cost them $20 per minute of operating time!  If propagation is as expected, that works out to about $4.00 per QSO!  These numbers are available on their website HERE and are calculated by dividing the cost of the DX'pedition by the expected number of minutes on the air and the expected number of QSO's.  For those reasons, please do not try to ask the operators any questions like, "When will you be on 6-Meters?"  It only takes away from the time available for someone else to make a QSO.

As of this Post, they are still $167,000 short of their budget goal of $400,000.  Even though the WVDXA contributed $1,000 to this DX'pedition, you may want to consider another personal contribution.  At least, please remember the cost of this DX'pedition when you send for your QSL cards.

The FT5ZM operation is prepared for the long distances involved.  On 40-M, 80-M and 160-M they have four OM Power 2000 amps (view HERE) for generating the needed power on those bands.  They will use an Elecraft K-3 enabled for diversity reception with Beverages and a DX Engineering 4-square for receive antennas.  Between sunset and sunrise, one station will be dedicated to 160-M.  Click on the photo at the left for a larger view of the block diagram of their Top-Band setup.  A similar arrangement is planned for the other low bands (30-M through 80-M.)  For the HF bands, they will have 3-element monoband yagis on 10-M through 20-M and will be using Elecraft K-3's with the KPA500 amplifiers.  They will be operating 4 complete stations at two separate locations and the two locations are 5,800 feet apart!  But, with 8 stations available and only 14 operators, you can bet the operating schedule will be VERY demanding!

On their website if you click on the The DXpedition link, you can read about their itinerary, equipment, frequencies, budget and even get access to a propagation tool to predict the best times for YOU to work FT5ZM.

Amsterdam Island ranks as No. 4 on the Most Needed Countries List HERE worldwide.  That pretty much guarantees the biggest pileups many of you have ever seen.  But, with the Team of Operators for this DX'pedition being chosen from the "Best of the Best" everyone will have a good opportunity to make at least one QSO for an ATNO (All-Time New One.)  If you are not able to make a QSO from your home station, you might want to consider a trip to a friend's QTH as this entity will probably not be back on the air anytime soon!  GL to all WVDXA Members on this one!