Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Mapungubwe trip feedback

Monday 24 March

We arrived at Leokwe camp at around midday 1000z.

I Immediately set to work erecting the mast and assembling the 6M3SS  M2 antenna.

The antenna was installed and equipment all connected by 1200z. But there was this uncanny silence. The noise level almost nil. On CW the S meter only intermittently illuminated the S1 LED on the K3 and this was with the preamp switched on. On SSB there was about 2 LEDs illuminated. I was worried, was the antenna working? The SWR was nice and low, all seemed to be OK.

The 6m band was dead quite, not a hint of any activity. Then some two and half hours later the band opened up, much to my relief.

First station heard and worked was ER1SS 1443z
During the course of the afternoon and evening I made some 60 QSOs.
I don't think there were any new countries worked.
I was rather tired and called it a day fairly early. This might have been a mistake I subsequently see that a EA9 was worked by my friends down south. Oh well, maybe I will get lucky and work him before I leave.

Tuesday 25 March

The band opened up at 1215z and I worked some 20 stations. The band reopened again at 1620z and lasted until 1748z, but did not yield much surprises and signals were generally weak.

At 1817z the band opened up this time It behaved differently. I worked many stations from EA8 Canary Islands and worked a new station in TR8 Gabon and worked TJ3SN in Cameroon. During this time I worked Ian ZS6BTE and Braam ZS6AYE via back scatter. This most certainly was not a common occurrence.

Total QSOs from Mapungubwe National Park now stands at 163.

I hope I am able to include the image of what my antenna sees. I tried to show the constraints of my location.

Pointing due north is OK. In fact if one looks carefully you will see the confluence of the Limpopo river and the Shashe river. This is where The borders of South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe meet.

If I beam 15 degrees either to the west or the east I have a problem with close in rocky outcrops some 50m higher than my antenna.

Some have asked if I will be operating from A2 Botswana. Unfortunately not. The actual border might be some 3 km away, but the border post is not that close. Then there is the issues with licensing, border formalities, safe venue etc.....

 Maybe in the future I will consider planning a excursion to this 6m RF devoid country.

Such expeditions require substantial time, effort and expense. All this, only to rewarded with facing a rude, undisciplined and unruly  pile up?

Wednesday 26 March

Started monitoring the 6 m band at around 1000z and called it quits at 1900z.
First signals heard was from IT9 and 4X at 1650z followed by a short run up to 1739z
Only the usual Mediterranean countries were worked. A total of 25 QSOs of which two were QRP and there was one mobile station.

I worked several EA stations, but still no illusive EA9 :-(

Thursday 27 March

Wow !! What a afternoon.

The band opened up early and was open for a very long time, some 210 QSOs were made. Most, predictably most were from the Mediterranean area with a few countries slightly more north: Germany, Switzerland and Belgium.

I worked several QRP stations and including one station that was using a simple dipole antenna. Just goes to show that it does not take much when the band is open.

At one stage there was a pipeline into Spain, with many stations giving me S9+40 reports, but still no EA9 in the log :-((

Managed to work: 9K, TK, HB9, OE, DL and ER

At times the action was fast and furious. For the most part running the pile was a exciting and rewarding experience, but sadly there were a few LIDs that made me very angry. Calling out of turn and ignoring the instructions given. I some times wonder why I subject myself to this. This poor behaviour is simply not acceptable.

I was very close to calling it quits and returning home on Friday i.e. Returning home one day early, due to the pesky LIDs, but this would have been a huge waste of money and effort. So I decided to stick with the plan. I will be QRV until Friday night as planned.

What is the best way to deal with these despicable operators?

Friday 28 March

This was my last day and the band opened up briefly on several occasions, but the openings were pretty poor for the most part.

At one stage there was a pipeline into Azores - CU this was most peculiar especially so early in the afternoon. Quite a few CU stations were worked.

The highlight of my day was when I was called by EB9SCW he was very weak and I sure hope I have his call correct.  Conditions at the time was very poor and moments later the band closed.

This single QSO will make my trip worthwhile if I have it correct, since it is a new DXCC entity for my 6m log.

Total of 455 - 6m QSOs were made from Mapungubwe national park.

All said and done this was a interesting few days and I am looking forward to comparing notes with the other 6m friends (down south) when I get home.

The venue is interesting, we came face to face with a Leopard yesterday during one of our game drives.  The chalets at Leokwe are comfortable, air-conditioned and well equiped.

Leokwe chalets

Shack visitor
Antenna view to the north (Europe)
Image showing the 144 grid squares worked

QSOs VS. Date and Time


  1. split - helps a lot - 5 to 10 (or down if using 105) Ken G4IGO

  2. Pierre all tough you only worked 1 new DXCC you made some other Ham's happy by being their first ZS on 6m.

    Keep up the good work.

    Karel ZR6K

  3. Thanks for the feedback.

    I have come to the conclusion that the one single new DXCC entity EA9 was not a valid QSO. So I worked no new entities during the trip.

    On the other hand I “gave” some 400 odd stations a new grid locator towards their VUCC award.

    It is difficult to say with certainty, but it sure seems there is a great advantage in operating up north.

    I had great fun !!