Sunday, 26 February 2012

Blank days

The last few days have been rather frustrating. I have been spending a lot of time watching for TEP openings on 6m, but to no avail. The main indicator is most likely the Iran TV station video carrier and other 6m beacons situated in Malta, Greece and Italy. The TV signals were heard on a few occasions very weak, only marginally above the noise and then once again disappeared from the waterfall of Spectran.

I have also tried on various occasions to work the 3C6A DX expedition to Equatorial Guinea, but also without any success. They should be booming in here, but that is not the case. They are weak at best. This is very strange, they are one hop via F2 away,  working them should be a walk in the park, but this is not the case. Not sure why. Are they using directional beams? If this is the case I will be on the back of their beam at all times. They also seem to have a constant pileup. I noticed the other day the split was as high as 15 kHz up on CW! I guess they are a much needed and rare DXCC entity?

I sure hope that the Sun will still deliver a few surprises before the downward trend starts…….

73, Pierre ZS6A

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

First 6M QSOs via TEP March Equinox 2012

I was very pleased that yesterday we had our first taste of TEP for this season. I have been watching with interest how in the last few weeks how the South Americans were working into the Caribbean and the lower United States and the Australians and New Zealanders were working into Japan and with the us  (the South Africans) in the middle not seeing or hearing any signs of a opening, very frustrating to say the least.

That all changed yesterday: The first indications of the opening was being able to hear the Iran TV signal on 48.239 MHz Eventually it peaked at 5 S-points with 3 sub-carriers visible both sides of the main carrier. Soon after that the 5B4CY beacon and after that the SV1SIX beacons were copied.

Needless to say the word spread via the cluster and there were many European stations trying to see what could be worked. I managed to make 39 QSOs using both CW and SSB. Unfortunately no new DXCC entities, but that will come…….

With a bit of luck we will have a good TEP season and this will make my effort to work 6M during the upcoming 3DA0FC DX expedition worthwhile.

73, Pierre ZS6A

6M TEP 21 Feb 2012

Sunday, 19 February 2012

ARRL DX CW contest – Day 1

Heck it is so frustrating to hear the rare Caribbean stations PJ2, PJ4, PZ5, V25 and V44 to name a few calling CQ during the contest and they are not in the least interested (understandably so) in working stations other than W and VE.

The only reason for DX to take part in this event is chasing outstanding states towards the WAS award.

I cannot quite fathom how this contest can have much appeal to anyone other than a W/VE station?

IMHO if this contest was structured more like the CQ-WW contest where everyone works everyone else, possibly with a bias in points for working W/VE, it would have much bigger support?

I am rather pleased to have worked 2 all time new states: Georgia and Oklahoma. My WAS total now stands at 43. I still need AL, DE, MO, ND and WV. Maybe I get lucky later today.

One would think that the rarer states would be regarded as popular contest venues during this contest. It seems all the radio adventurers head south towards the Caribbean, why not operate from North Dakota and from the other rarer states. Maybe I am missing the point…….

Maybe it’s just me and my lack at CW proficiency, but I find the odd station operating at around 23 WPM is like music to my ears, especially after trying to decode the speed demons working at speeds in excess of 35 WPM. I might be wrong, but cannot help but wonder if the QSO rate is not higher at the more moderate speeds. I did notice a few of the big gun contest stations working at reasonable speeds.

Good luck.

73, Pierre ZS6A

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

ARRL DX CW contest 2012

I see this coming weekend 18/19 February, the next ARRL DX CW contest will be taking place.

I had a look on LoTW and I see I have 43 USA states confirmed on 10M with CW. This might be my last chance in a long while to improve on my 10M WAS totals.

I therefore plan to concentrate my efforts on working mainly 10M during this event and with a bit of luck I will get to work the last few (7) outstanding states: Alaska, Delaware, Georgia, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

Sure hope that we have good propagation to the USA during the event.

73, Pierre ZS6A

Friday, 10 February 2012

HK0NA Malpelo Is DX Expedition

The excitement of chasing an all time new DXCC entity will always be great fun. I am very pleased to have had the good fortune of working them on 3 bands 40, 30 and 10 metres.

The signals were not very strong at best and I can only imagine this was largely due to the antennas point towards North and North East to the USA and Europe. Being 90 degrees off the beam heading makes it very difficult to get heard with my “tiny pistol” station.

But, once again due to the excellent skills of operators of the DX expedition I did manage a few CW QSOs.

The information, feedback and photos on the HK0NA web site was most welcome. I think each and everyone involved with this expedition deserves our support and gratitude. Thank You!!

There is some further interesting information available on the first DX expedition to Malpelo Is that was done 1969.

73, Pierre ZS6A