Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A farewell to 2008

2008 is going to an end with a spotless sun. This prolonged minimum is very annoying indeed. I hope that sooner or later sun will wake up and do its duty. By the way we have results for EPC PSK63 party 2008. Very big scores! Too many participants as the active members are more than 5000. No chance to get a descent place. I just got the first place in Greece. Not a big deal. But let forget all as the post is to wish you a Happy New year 2009 with a lot of radio activity, many dx and happy contesting time!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Racal Ampligard Headset

A few days ago I found this piece of surplus in eBay. I bided it and finally got it. Nice equipment from the past. I wired it for YAESU, no big deal, and I put it on the air. It works perfectly. Well, it needs a bit more mice gain and the transmit audio is a bit of small bandwidth but no other problem. It is a proper headset for contesting or other heavy traffic operations in SSB. In construction it looks like a Roll Royce vs a sevy, compared with the trendy Heill sets. It is really amazing how they were manufacturing such things in the past.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Last weekend of November! The CQ WW CW contest keeps alive the radio amateur bands. I am not really fond of CW mode. I never hid my love for the digital modes, mostly PSK. On the other hand with SCIMMER and so many decoders in our disposal, CW became just another digital mode. Still it remains the only one that human brain can decode. What machine can not handle, brain helps and the one confirms the other. So the game becomes more interesting, at least for guys like me who are not skilled cwers. With these thoughts in mind I decided to join the test this year. My tool was the MixW2, updated to the v2.19 beta. It run all the contest faultlessly.
I made more than 2 hundred QSO. I worked easily rare DX entities that otherwise it would be very difficult to work. I give you a small list: PJ2T, D4C, KP2M, HC8N, B1Z, AH2T, 3X5A, 5H3EE, 9J3A. Also I worked many stations from USA, Japan and Africa. I spent a really great time. Well maybe my score was low but I had a great time... and I found out that finally my dicision was right.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


This week end I joined the party of European PSK Club. I spent a nice time. Furthermore I never hid my love to digital modes. Even though the propagation was low, I made 500 qso mostly with EPC members and just a few dx. Spiros, SV8CS, just a couple of years ago, took the first place with 451 qso. But the situation has change since then. The members now are more than 5000 and I am afraid that my five hundred qso are not enough for a leading place. Any way I dad a lot of fun ruining the party. Among contacts were members from America Australia Japan and Africa. Well the club is spreading. Last year I had 400 qso but I unfortunately lost my log due to technical problems. Some people lost some points because of that and I feel sorry. But this time my log came safely to the contest manager. Long Live PSK!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Global Tuners

Global tuners is a well known site with receivers from all around the world that you can control through the internet. Recently, among the other receivers two Greek ones added. So you can find in the list SV2BWM and SV1BTL stations, available most of the time. In the picture you see the second one tuned in 15m, listening VQ9RD. Beyond the fun, using such a station it is an excellent tool chasing a DX, as you can check where it is heard in real time. Cluster does the same job but with much less fun regardless it does not say always the truth. I really cannot understand people who refuge using technology to extend their possibilities. It is so exciting.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sniffing VK9DWX

This morning, even with a blank sun, propagation turned out to be favorite to work VK8DWX in 12m band. Suddenly it occurred to me to open CW Skimmer to sniff its transmission. Excellent tool, as you can in the snap. Even with 3KHz spacing it could copy almost all activity. Some people are sceptic about what machines can do. Some other, among them and me, they just use them.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

DX came back

The 24th cycle seems that accelerates during the last days. Two groups of sunspots simultaneously...that's great news indeed. This alone it would be just an interesting statistical event. I do not know if there is any connection but a lot of DX stations are heard recently. T33Z, 5U5U, 9L1X, D44AC, TO5DX, C56YK, TN5SN, and of course VK9DWX. The last one is a major DXpedition organized by BCC and delivers big signals in any band or mode. So I can claim for sure that DX came back. Enjoy it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Talking to Mitchel

The 10m band is open more frequently last days. Is that a sign of emerging 24th cycle? We would like to believe so. Anyway, in such an opening this afternoon I had a QSO with a station ZU6M in 28.495MHz. His name was Mitchel and his voice was very delicate. So during the QSO I was tempted to take a look to qrz.com to get some info for my interlocutor. And suddenly I realized that I was talking to an 11 years old boy from South Africa. What a nice surprise indeed! I felt like this young gentleman was ready to get the baton from me. And I would be very glad to give it to him. It was really one of most distinctive moments of my amateur career and very difficult to forget. What else are going to bring us cycle 24?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Wow!....What a test

The big events of fall in ham radio are the CQ magazine contests. This weekend we had the CQ WW RTTY contest. Every year a lot of people are traveling to hot spots as Caribbean, North West Africa, Galapagos and so on, just to have the best conditions to win the test. On the other hand a lot of hams around the world are waiting to contact with exotic call sign and rare ham radio entities just sitting in their ordinary shacks. The bands get on fire for 48 hours. I cannot express the feeling of having so many stations on the air on usually quiet bands. You can change thoroughly your opinion about propagation just participating in this event. I made 811 contacts in SOAB category, 300 more than last year. Among them very rare dx countries. That is exactly the reason I join the test every year. And I can say this one was a very rich one. Spiros (SV8CS) was working only in 15m and during the contest we had a lot fun chatting about how the things were going. By the end of weekend we found wide open the 10m band, a band that is dead for years. It kept an hour or so but it was enough to work South America and Caribbean stations and the famous HC8N. What a pleasant surprise! MixW was a real performer and the FT1000MP as well as the ACOM1000 worked without complains. But most of all what made the difference this time was the Honor Roll plague in front of me....

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Heavy weather above my antenna system. Autumn is here. We had the first thunderstorm of the season with 60mm of rain just in a few hours. It was very welcomed of course after 4 tedious quite dry months. Fortunately I had no casualties in the shack.
But the event that sealed the start of Autumn was my 60th birthday and the present of my XYL, SW8KOJ: a lovely TM-D710. Thank you very much my dear and many Happy Returns to come and share.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Just before Autumn

The summer is over. It has left some of its heat behind but it is clear that is gone. So I am back in my main shack again after a long vacation time. Everything it looks perfect except of propagation conditions. By incidence today, after a very long period, sun appears a tiny spot (Uaoo...). The 24 circle is very lazy and denies stubbornly to start and the worst we have to live with that. As the future is not so promising, let me focus in the past. With your permission I will review some results of my previous ham activities.
The greatest is the Honor Roll achievement. Of course we celebrated it a bit early but now I have the proofs. So after of almost 30 years of DX hunting I am officially listed in Honor Roll with 329/333 entities. I proudly show you the ARRL matrix, the Lapel pin and I invite you to share with me my happiness for this achievement.
In the contesting activities I have to present you my certificate in World Wide RTTY WPX Contest as 1st in Greece and the 6th position worldwide in the spring EU PSK DX Contest. Well obviously I am not a big gun but no doubt I am a little pistol!
During summer we continue testing D-STAR with SV8CS, SV8RV and SV3KH. The real fun will start with the installation of a D-Star local repeater.
Finally I wish to all of you a nice winter and lots of such moments in your ham career.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

DV sequel

Well D-Star is a new toy. Recently Spiros, SV8CS got a IC-92 too. So we enjoyed several nice contacts in DV mode. For the first time I heard digital voice decoded by my little handy. It isn't like FM but the quality is prety acceptable and it doesn't tire your ears. And it is very cool to watch all this data on your screen like callsign, sort messages or GPS spots during the QSO. Finally you get a feeling that you are crossing a border in communications world. I suppose a similar feeling hams had turning from AM to SSB. In the mean time Denis, SV8RV, who is in W6 land right now, made a lot of noise accessing the SZ1SV repeater from San Francisco. An other milestone! We have just to wait for a D-Star repeater in our area. In the photo you can see also my Eee PC 900 near the IC-E92D on my shack. It is so small and portable that it will be an excellent companion for it. I really feel sorry for all these technophobic folks. They don't know what they really loose. The summer is going...and the sun refuses to get up.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Au bord de la mer

August is near! The middle of the summer. The six meters band is dying for this season. No major dxpeditions around, no spots on the sun. For now and then I will spend the time in my favorite beach bar relaxing, enjoying cold beer, eating light meals and swimming in fresh sea water. But bad habits can not be cut. The forgotten hand held got alive and keep me company again. I have to give reports to good old friends how things are going describing what is moving in the beach and finally invite them to join me. Actually you are all invited.

Monday, July 14, 2008

D-Star. First tests

D-Star is a new standard in digital communications developed by ICOM. Its popularity is increasing rapidly recently. So I decided to give it a try and now I know why. Coming back from Friedrichshafen I brought with me a new toy: The IC-E92D. My good friend Denis, SV8RV, had the receiver and the decoding software to do the job. It is really an other world. The picture is talking itself. Dedicated calls by callsign, messages, GPS data, automatic replies, internet connection and many other things are available to play with. In my first feeling DV mode came to give a push to the boring local VHF and UHF frequencies. So it is very welcome.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hamradio 2008 part 2

The next day was dedicated to the surplus segment of Messe. It is a place of great interest for hams. We made several kilometers around the booths in three different huge buildings. I had a mission to find Gabi, HA1YA, to tell him a message from my friend Spiros, SV8CS. Fortunately it turned out not a difficult task. Gabi was a nice and very friendly guy besides he is a very efficient constructor of linears and transverters.
I show too much vintage stuff, but I could not buy many desirable things as I had to fly back home and so the baggage weight was limited. I restricted myself to small things like ferrites, connectors and the similar. Finally I could not resist the temptation to get the digital ICOM IC-92D. D-STAR is the name of the game. But this is an other post....

Plenty of Antennas
Fuel station
Me (left) and Gabi (right)
Flying over the Mont Blanc

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hamradio 2008 part 1

It is a really big event in ham radio world. Probably the biggest in the world as the Dayton is not in its best days recently. I was lucky to be there for a second year in a row....and I was impressed as the first time. Among the others I met two vips: ON4UN and OH2BH. But let start from the beginning. We start the trip from Geneva to Friedrichshafen Friday at noon. We are two on the road, me and Nick (SV3SJ, F5VIH) in his brand new Twigo. It took us 4.30 hours to get there, so we had enough time to take a look in Messe before close. We were in high spirits with the help of a couple Hefen Weis we drunk on the ferry from Kostanz to Meersburg. The weather was excellent and the Zeppelin was flying that is traditionally an indication of good weather hi hi. Inside the Messe the things were about the same as last year and the feeling of being there also the same. I noticed that several new companies and dealers were added and in the surplus segment the absence of Russian guys. We spent the night in Weingarten after a noisy diner in Immenstaad with a bunch of French people, most of them members of IARU contest. It was an enchanting evening with a lot chat for coming projects. Hefenweiser kept us company once more time.

On the road to Messe
IC-7700 new addition to ICOM family
Kuhne stand

Friday, July 4, 2008


Besides the nice hobby I share with you, I am a physicist. There is a big event that is going to take place very soon in Physics. Probably the biggest physics experiment of all till now. The particle accelerator LHC (the biggest of the world) will start to work in a month at CERN. This huge machine will accelerate protons in two beams with opposite direction and energy of 7TeV each. So the protons collide with the huge energy of 14Tev. The products of collision are new particles, some of them never registered till now. For this job there are four detectors. The biggest of them, called ATLAS (in picture), is a cylinder of 24m diameter and 46m length. The whole machine is in a tunnel 27Km long and 100m below the surface. There is a great probability this time to detect Higgs, the most wanted particle of last decades. Whatever it happens after all, particle physics will get a big kick for sure.
So I could not resist taking the chance to visit CERN and take a look how things are going just before the hugest scientific experiment starts. It was a really unbelievable experience for me and very convenient in the end of this visit to make a little trip from Geneva to Friedrichshafen. More details about that in my coming posts.

Friday, June 20, 2008

HAM RADIO 2008 is coming

See you in Friedrichshafen!!!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Run a Marathon limping...

It is like a tradition every spring to focus on magic band. Last years I participate the 6m Marathon of OH3AG. The objective of the Marathon is to work as many DXCC countries as possible between Saturday May 3rd, 2008 at 00.00 UTC and Sunday August 3rd, 2008 at 24.00 UTC on six meters band. I am not a big gun. So I have not any chance to win. In addition this year I had bad luck. My IC-7000 gave up its service. It burned the drive section twice and now is for a second time for repair. Very delicate fancy little machine. I would not dare to recommend it for any serious use. My good friend Spiros lent to me his FT857 to do the job. I thank him a lot for his generosity. Anyway it has a lot of fun to run a Marathon limping. Take a look to the results so far. I wish to all participants good luck!

Friday, May 23, 2008

EU PSK DX contest

Last weekend I played the EPC annual PSK31 contest as I usually do every year. First impression: No propagation yet! No DX stations, no surprises. Just the usual suspects. Even though it was a pleasure running it. I met all good old friends of EPC community. Of course it is a digital contest. You have not the warmness of a phone QSO but still it nice to see all these familiar call sings to parade on your screen. Any way I did 303 QSOs! Quite better than 162 of last year. But still not enough for a winning place I am afraid. Never mind what it matters is participation.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

What is going on with the sun?

We all are waiting for sun to wake up. But thing are going slow. So slow that a new option of a very weaker 24 cycle than previously prediction. Some people speak that a new Little Ice Age is coming. Take a look to the following articles:


Predicting the nest solar age

Solar prediction is a problematic exercise as there are no proper physical models that allow predictions of even the next cycle. Therefore predictions tend to be based on statistical inference with little in the way of physics or modelling involved. For example, longer solar cycles tend to be followed by a weaker cycle.

The closest thing to a scientific consensus on solar prediction comes from the Solar Cycle Prediction Panel, consisting of members of NASA, NOAA, ISES and other US and International representatives. In March 2007, they released a consensus statement for the amplitude of the upcoming cycle 24. Their position:

"In light of the expected long interval until the onset of Cycle 24, the Prediction Panel has been unable to resolve a sufficient number of questions to reach a single, consensus prediction for the amplitude of the cycle. The deliberations of the panel supported two possible peak amplitudes for the smoothed International Sunspot Number (Ri): Ri = 140 ±20 and Ri = 90 ±10."

In other words, cycle 24 may be larger or smaller. The cycle is expected to begin in early 2008 and predictions are largely speculative until it begins. The one thing we do know is when Solar Cycle 24 begins, the warming sun will add to the global warming trend as it heads towards solar maximum, nearly doubling the projected temperature rise from greenhouse gases from 2008 to 2012 (Camp 2007).


Lessons from past global climate changes
Proponents of CO2 as the cause of global warming have stated that "never before in the history of the earth has
climate changed as rapidly as in the past century, proving that global warming is being caused by anthropogenic
CO2" “:Our civilization has never experienced any environmental shift remotely similar to this. Today’s climate
pattern has existed throughout the entire history of human civilization” (Gore, 2006). Statements such as these are
easily refutable by the geologic record. Figure 5 shows temperature changes recorded in the GISP2 ice core from
the Greenland Ice Sheet. The global warming experienced during the past century pales into insignificance when
compared to the magnitude of at least ten sudden, profound climate reversals over the past 15,000 years. As shown
on Figure 5, the temperature in Greenland changed abruptly:
• 1. About 15,000 yrs ago, a sudden, intense, climatic warming (~12° C; ~21° F) caused dramatic melting of
large Ice Age ice sheets that covered Canada and the northern U.S., all of Scandinavia, and much of northern
Europe and Russia. Sea level that had been 120 m (~400 ft) lower than present rose quickly and submerged
large areas than had been dry land during the Ice Age.
• 2. A few centuries later, temperatures again plummeted (~11° ; ~20° F) and glaciers advanced.
• 3. About 14,000 years ago, global temperatures rose rapidly (~4.5°C; ~8° F) once again and glaciers
• 4. About 13,400 years ago, global temperatures plunged again (~8°C; ~14° F) and glaciers advanced.
• 5. About 13,200 years ago, global temperatures increased rapidly (~5°C; ~9° F) and glaciers receded.
• 6. 12,700 yrs ago global temperatures plunged sharply (~8°C; ~14° F) and a 1000 year period of glacial
readvance, the Younger Dryas, began.
• 7. 11,500 yrs ago, global temperatures rose sharply (~12° C; ~21° F), marking the end of the Younger
Dryas cold period and the end of the Pleistocene Ice Age.
• 8. 8,200 years ago, the post-Ice Age interglacial period was interrupted by a sudden global cooling (~4° C;
~7° F) that lasted for a few centuries.
• 9. About 1000 AD, global temperatures rose several degrees to begin the Medieval Warm Period, which
lasted a few centuries, then ~12300 AD dropped ~4°C (~7° F) in ~20 years.
• 10. About 1600 AD, global temperatures cooled several degrees at the beginning of the Little Ice Age,
which lasted about two centuries.
Figure 5. Abrupt global climate changes in the past 15,000 years. (Modified from Alley, 2004)
Magnitude and significance of previous global climate changes
All ten of the global climate changes described above were far more intense (12 to 15 times as intense in some
cases) than the global warming of the past century (compare them in Fig. 5), and they took place in as little as 20–
100 years. As shown on Figure 5, the global warming of the past century (0.8° C) is virtually insignificant when
compared to the magnitude of the earlier global climate changes.
Not a single one of these sudden global climate changes could possibly have been caused by human CO2 input
to the atmosphere because they all took place long before human CO2 contributions to the atmosphere began. The
cause of the ten ‘natural’ climate changes that occurred earlier could easily have been the same as the cause of
present global warming.

So are we heading to a new Little Ice Age or Maunder Minimum as it is called? There only clues. It happened in the past (1645-1710) and it will happen again to the future. I am afraid that many of us we will live so long to see what really happen. But even though, it is not a good news for amateur radio activities.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Looking today traffic on 30m I had a new surprise. My signal, just 1w output on a vertical, was reported by K1JT station 7829Km away. Amazing! I have already told you that WPSR is very funny playing with as funny is propagation in early 24.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Playing with WHISPER

"WSPR (pronounced "whisper") stands for "Weak Signal Propagation Reporter." This program implements transmitting and receiving for a digital soundcard mode called "MEPT_JT", an acronym for "Manned Experimental Propagation Tests, by K1JT". This is the initial release of a GUI-based version of the program."
With these words, Joe Taylor, this brilliant mind that honors our hobby being a ham himself, describes his tool for checking propagation by snooping very weak signals around the world. I installed it and played with it like a toy. It is really amazing to decode transmissions i HFof only 1 watt or so from thousands miles away. Among real DX stations I "heard", as you can see in the snagit snaps, it was Patrick, F6IRF. I did not really know that he was involved and it was a good surprise for me. It reminded me the bottles of beers we shared last year in Friedrichshafen fest.

So give a try to WHISPER! It deserves it and after all it has a lot of fun.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Cheers and beers...

I do not usually post personal moments but this is an exception. We gather together to a cozy place just to celebrate my Honor Roll achievement. It was a very nice evening telling stories about past and planing future ham plans with a lot of beers in between. Call signs that honor me with their presence: SV8CS, SV8AXZ, SV8DOU, SV8KOK, SW8KOR, SW8KOU and SW8KOJ. I thank them all as that moment was a goal of a life time trip and I was very happy having them with me breaking the tape.

In the other hand last weekend I played a lot with CQ WPX CONTEST. The propagation was fair, especially in upper bands. I listened mostly on 15m and 10m and I heard many well known calls as 8R1K, 5D5A, 6V7E,WP2Z, 8P1A, FG/OM3LA, ST2KSS,ZD7X, 9V1YC,C01R, D44C,E20WXA and finally my friend Sardjana YB2ECG whom I usually meet in every digital mode contest and it was the first time I heard his voice. In other words I spent a very interesting weekend.

Friday, March 28, 2008

23 vs 24!

Well it seems that I was a little optimistic about solar cycle 24. The recent activity belongs to cycle 23! Unbelievable but true. Read the following note taken from NASA page and you understand what is really going on.

Barely three months after forecasters announced the beginning of new Solar Cycle 24, old Solar Cycle 23 has returned. Actually, it never left. Read on.
"This week, three big sunspots appeared and they are all old cycle spots," says NASA solar physicist David Hathaway. "We know this because of their magnetic polarity."
Earlier today, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) made this magnetic map of the sun:

It shows the north and south magnetic poles of the three sunspots. All are oriented according to the patterns of Solar Cycle 23. Cycle 24 spots would be reversed.
What's going on? Hathaway explains: "We have two solar cycles in progress at the same time. Solar Cycle 24 has begun (the first new-cycle spot appeared in January 2008), but Solar Cycle 23 has not ended."
Strange as it sounds, this is perfectly normal. Around the time of solar minimum--i.e., now--old-cycle spots and new-cycle spots frequently intermingle. Eventually Cycle 23 will fade to zero, giving way in full to Solar Cycle 24, but not yet.

Meanwhile, on March 25th, sunspot 989, the smallest of the three sunspots, unleashed an M2-class solar flare. Flares are measured on a "Richter scale" ranging from A-class (puny) to X-class (powerful). M-class flares are of medium intensity. This one hurled a coronal mass ejection or "CME" into space (movie), but the billion-ton cloud missed Earth.

While the CME was still plowing through the sun's atmosphere, amateur radio astronomer Thomas Ashcraft heard "a heaving sound" coming from the loudspeaker of his 21 MHz shortwave receiver in New Mexico: listen. It was a Type II solar radio burst generated by shock waves at the leading edge of the CME. A thousand miles away in Virginia, David Thomas recorded the same emissions on a chart recorder he connected to his 20 MHz ham rig: look. "What a pleasant surprise," says Thomas.

We could get more of this kind of activity in the next 7 to 10 days. It will take about that long for the sunspots to cross the face of the sun. The sun's rotation is turning the spots toward Earth, which means the next CME, if there is one, might not miss. CME strikes do no physical harm to Earth but they can cause Northern Lights, satellite glitches and, in extreme cases, power outages.

The real significance of these spots is what they say about the solar cycle, says Hathaway. "Solar Cycle 24 has begun, but we won't be through solar minimum until the number of Cycle 24 spots rises above the declining number of Cycle 23 spots." Based on this latest spate of "old" activity, he thinks the next Solar Max probably won't arrive until 2012.

Stay tuned to Science@NASA for solar cycle updates.

Welcome 24

The sun waked up at last. As a permanent space weather watcher I had to see so many sun spots for months. the solar flux is better than 80 and the new trip started for good. No doubt the 24 cycle is here and loud. Be patient to see the results in propagation terms. But of course it is a bit early for that.

Writing these words an other major expedition that kept us company for several days is QRT. The 9X0R was a well organized, well equipped and having great operators. The recent expedition in Rwanda by German guys does not affect at all their popularity. Especially their online log even with some glitches and not real time as they expected, it gave them a great push. I worked them in 19 of 20 slots they showed up, but there are many they worked the whole 20.

By the way tonight we have little party, celebrating my Honor Roll. Well, not yet achieved as 3 final cards are missing (the entities have been worked and it is a matter of QSLing), but who can wait to drink some beers for that? You are all invited!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


"TX5C went QRT 1400z March 15th 2008, two days earlier than originally planned. Due to both weather and sea conditions, the Captain of the Shogun determined that an earlier departure was required to ensure the safety of his crew and our team. We began moving equipment offshore two days prior in challenging conditions. By the time the last team members were extracted from the atoll late in the day, all but one of the zodiac spare propellers had been broken on the reef. The Shogun pulled anchor at 0130z March 16th and as the sun set, the team watched Clipperton Atoll slowly fade from view."

The expedition wend worse than anticipated due to the weather and other causes. The target of 100,000 qso was not approached. It turned out to be quite more difficult to operate as they want in this remote place of the world under a fierce nature and extreme temperatures. As for me my qsl card is on its way to
N7CQQ to be cfm. And this is the last step as you Know. The 9X0R and 5T5DC are just routine exercises.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The last one!

They are already on the island. Tomorrow we will start hear them on the bands. Hopping that the propagation will help as it does with Ducie, we will work them to many bands. So warm the machines up! As for me this is the expedition that will complete my Honor Roll and for this reason I will love it and remember it the years to come. Here are their first words from the battlefield:
"We are on Clipperton Atoll! It's 0133z as we write this. We had a successful landing and have loaded quite a bit of our camp gear to the island. Our base camp is set up and we're all tired but full of enthusiasm! In the morning we will begin the construction of our operating stations on the north side of the island exactly where we had hoped to be able to land. We are excited about this as this location will provide the best paths for us to work the world. We will update this page in the morning in more detail but we wanted you all to know we are safe and are on the island."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Fireworks at Ducie Island!

Copying from Ducie page......

"On 2008 February 25 Monday at 0437z, after 13 days 7 hours and 37 minutes of continuous operation, RA0ALM contacted the Ducie Island expedition on the 10 MHz band for the expedition's 168,723rd contact.

According to documents maintained by Jari Jussila OH2BU, this contact breaks the record for the largest number of contacts made by any radio expedition. The record was previously held by the Five Star DX Association's expedition to the Comoros Island (D68C) during 2001 Feb 8-28.

A few moments later, the pre-moonrise starry skies above Ducie Island sparkled with a barrage of flares launched from the deck of the M/V Braveheart in celebration. The thirteen operators and six Braveheart crew congratulated each other with handshakes, hugs, and some strong coffee. But deep pileups of European and North American stations were still calling. Soon the seven on-duty operators were back in front of the radios, while the others crept off to their cots to catch up on sleep in the cool of the evening.

The Ducie Island expedition has broken other expedition records in recent days, including:

  • largest number of RTTY contacts, previously held by the Swains Island N8S expedition of 2007 April.
  • largest number of SSB (voice) contacts, previously held by the Comoros Island D68C expedition.
  • largest number of contacts on the 40m band, previously held by the Libya 5A7A expedition of 2006 November.
  • largest number of contacts on the 30m band, previously held by the St Brandon Island 3B7C expedition of 2007 September.
  • largest number of contacts on the 17m band, previously held by the Swains Island N8S expedition.
  • largest number of contacts with North America, previously held by the Comoros Island D68C expedition.
  • largest number of contacts with South America, previously held by the Peter the First Island 3Y0X expedition of 2006 February.
  • largest number of contacts with Africa, previously held by the Rodrigues Island 3B9C expedition of 2004 March-April.

As this message was transmitted by Iridium satellite from Ducie Island, the expedition contact total crossed 170,000 contacts... and continues to increase at about 415 contacts per hour. Most contacts now entering the logs are with European stations during their morning twilight period. In an hour or so the focus will shift to North and South America, east Asia and the Pacific, where it will remain until dawn at Ducie Island."

Congratulations dear folks. You gave us very nice moments indeed. And now next station Clipperton...the terminal one!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ducie online log promised today

Actually it was booming on 80m this morning. The online log first upload is promised for today at noon. I am publishing some late news as they request it.

News #14- 2008 Feb 13

I just had a telephone call with Carsten (DL6LAU) on Ducie Island. The reason we did not get any update or online log from the island is that they had no time until now because of a big workload to setup the stations and antennas. They plan to go "online" in the next 6-12 hours so we expect the first online logs around noon on Thursday. Please be aware that the data connection via Iridium is very sensible so it can last a long time to upload the online logs.

After 1,5 days of operation they have now about 28,000 QSOs in the log (about 17,000 after the first 24 hours!). They already started RTTY operation on 20m with over 700 QSOs at the moment. In some days we expect also RTTY operation on 30m.

Antenna construction is still in progress. Some antennas for 12m and 10m are missing. Today they are at the installation of the Beverage antennas for the low bands.

All team members are in a good shape (except some sunburns) and they have a lot of fun. A problem is the extreme heat during the daywhich makes it nearly impossible for the night operators to sleep.

Tomorrow we will get some more news from the island. Please stay tuned.

We would be delighted if DX editors would publish this information as widely as possible and DXers bring it to the attention of their clubs and fellow DXers.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I spent last weekend running the CQWPXRTTY contest. As a single operator I was 30 hours active chasing mostly dx stations. It was a really cold weekend, so I enjoyed it very much sitting all that time in my cozy shack. Even with a spotless sun propagation was not bad. MixW worked faultlessly again. I worked 605 qso and over 600,000points. No bad at all. The main target was not the championship of course. In comparison I had done 532 qso in CQWWRTTY last September. Several USA, VE, JA and VK stations were heard. P40X was in the log also. A welcome surprise it was also the qso with my friend Patrick, F6IRF. Patrick is a devoted CW operator so I did not expect him to join the test.

By the way two new expeditions start this week: VR6DX (Ducie) and TI9KK (Cocos). Both have nice signals in 80m and 40m in the morning, but no chance the rest of the day. With so low sun activity it is amazing we can work them. So no complains….and the next month I am anxious to work the TX5C (Clipperton). This is a very important for me as it is the real last one to get the Honor Roll with 329 entities. So folks it will be a really exciting spring.

Monday, January 14, 2008

New Year, New Gadgets in the shack

Every new year comes full of promises for dreams fulfillment. But some time you have to help a little bit to make this true. I think that gadgets are actually extensions of ourselves. You choose them for specific reasons. You feel more complete and more confident just using them in the every day routine. It is a kind of sophisticated toys for adult.But let me tell you what is this little introduction all about: Just to present you my new gadgets.

1. My new weather station. It is a DAVIS Vantage PRO2 wireless. All sensors are integrated to one unit and transmit data to console in a very efficient way. (First and only weather station in its class to use frequency hopping spread spectrum radio technology to transmit weather data wirelessly up to 1000' (300 m)).
I installed the ISS (Integrated Sensor Suite) up to my terrace just under my HF antennas. Fortunately the whole system turned out to be RF proof, an issue that my old Monitor II suffered a lot. The isolation between sensors and console protects the later from static that under bad weather conditions make provoke severe damage. But a weather station without a data logger and proper monitoring software it is absolutely useless. DAVIS has made great job on this part too. Data logger keeps data for 50 days if you choose one record every 30 min (there are many options upon this interval). WeatherLink, as they call the provided software, it does very well its job and can convert the older data bases to the new format. This weather station is a really mature product and quite compatible with HAM environments.

2. My RigExpert AA-200 Antenna analyzer. To say the truth I have not test this instrument as much as I want. First impressions are very good. I have to say that it is very good looking and gives the feeling of a well and toughly manufactured item. It is powered by a rechargeable Ni-MH battery pack 1800mAH and it has autonomy of 2 hours of continuous metering or 20 hours in stand by mode. It can also connected to a PC though a USB port. Connected to a dummy it gave me a R=50.1Ohm and reactance 0.2Ohm. My trapped dipole for 40m and 80m gave me this nice SWR diagram centered to 7080KHz. Magnify to see details. No bad, isn't it? If it is so accurate as I expect this is the ultimate tool for the serious amateur. Anyway I will come back with full review when I have much more measurements.

3. Finally I will add a small review for my ACOM1000 linear amplifier. This is not quite new but it need some time to test a linear.
What can I say about this state of the art piece of radio equipment? There are so many good reviews that I feel I have nothing to add. But let me do just a few simple comments. I work with it more than six months. I have participated in several contests during this period. Among them there were some very demanding ones, as CQ WW RTTY for example. Lots of hours of continuous working without any complain. Every time I am sitting in my shack beside my ACOM1000 I feel proud and full of confidence. Before I get it, I knew that it had a very good reputation, but my cohabitation with it, it is beyond my expectations. What are its hot features?
a. Absolutely silent (whisper fan, vacuum relays)
b. Very easy tuning (attenuator in order to tune with full driving power)
c .Withstand 3:1 SWR transmitting with full power (no external tuner required)
d. Excellent liquid crystal control monitoring 12 parameters
e. Very smart and efficient protection circuit
And some words about service. I need it only once. A minor problem resolved in a couple of days. People in ACOM are very friendly and really helpful. Simply the best service I have ever experienced in my 30 years amateur life.