Friday, 17 October 2014

Africa DX'ing - Reality check

Chasing DX from Africa

Have a careful look at the great circle map below, centered on Lord Howe Island - VK9DLX note the beam heading towards Africa, compare that to the beam headings to the beam headings to NA, EU and AS

The directional antennas used by many expeditions will work against African DX'ers most of the time.The signal off the side of a typical directional antenna can be >20 dB down compared to the forward lobe.

The same logic applies to many rare countries.......

The statistics below from the recent Western Kiribati DX expedition - T30D after some 69,000 QSOs

The activity from Africa is miniscule, it is therefore understandable that the expedition will be beaming to where the greatest demand is: North America, Europe and Asia.

Why would any DX expedition beam towards Africa, let alone make directional calls to Africa only?

Chasing DX from Africa is not easy. The odds are stacked against us most of the time. 

Please consider this issue when you next hear an African DX'er calling out of turn :-)

Great Circle map based on Lord Howe Island - VK9DLX

Saturday, 4 October 2014

VK9AN Christmas Island

The team consisting of Rob/N7QT and Melanie/AB1UH were on a small, suitcase mini-DXpedition to Christmas Island for a period of about 2 weeks.

The propagation between South Africa and that part of the world is normally very challenging due to the near polar path with all its associated problems.

I was very pleased to have worked them on 6 band slots with my mediocre station. This is no doubt due to the patience and superior skills of the operators.

I was equally pleased to see that they diligently used ClubLog throughout the expedition and the cherry on the top is that all my QSOs are already confirmed on LoTW.

This is the type of DX expedition I would gladly support with a small donation. Oddly enough I see no request for such and no provision was made for that either.

IMHO This is Ham spirit at its best.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Lithium-ion battery capacity test

I did a capacity test on my newly imported lithium-ion battery: Type DC-12680 the capacity is supposed to be 6800 mAH.

The image below shows clearly that the capacity is only about 2400 mAH i.e. 1/3 of the advertised capacity.

The battery has been on charge for 9 hours since then and is still not fully charged (Red LED still on). I therefor assume the batteries cannot be recharged at a high rate. 

It is unacceptable that the capacity is so much lower than the supposed capacity.
Rapid recharging is not possible with the provided charger.

IMHO they are still worthwhile considering. They are compact and weigh almost nothing. This is ideal for back packing with ultra-light QRP equipment.

Lithium-ion 6680 mAH battery capacity test.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Exceptional CW operator 4W/N1YC

I have been chasing James 4W/N1YC (9V1YC) for a while, conditions are not very favourable between Timor Leste and South Africa and he is constantly being bombarded by a enormous pile-up.

He has been pretty weak at best of times on all the bands, but even with all the odds against me (us) I have managed to work him twice. In both cases, he responded after the first or second call.

I am most impressed with operators of this calibre.

Long live CW

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Unexpected surprises – Cambodia on JT65

I saw John AE5X blogging about working Cambodia and his concern about whether the person was legit.

As luck would have it yesterday I was playing with JT65 on 20m and I saw XU7AEU calling CQ. I was quite surprised to see such a rare entity using such a slow mode. However believing in the motto “work first worry later” I called in reply, the first 2 calls where in vain, I was swamped by the stronger European stations. I reverted to “Plan-B” I called slightly higher up in the band and that worked, the rest is history.

I looked up Alex XU7AEU on

I think I am extremely lucky to be in the right place at the right time.

Quote from  XU7AEU

I will be in the Kingdom of Cambodia once again between the 19th and 28th of August 2014 operating from my usual QTH (our office roof in downtown Phnom Penh). After the lightning strike in July i'm still using the Yaesu FT-817 into a 20m dipole. I have brought more dipole wire so i'll be stringing up some other bands as soon as I can.

By shear chance I caught him on day 1 of his stay. It also shows the value of using JT65 with QRP and less than optimum antennas.

And if that is not enough, he used LoTW