5W0GC & YJ0GC Dx’pedition

organized by Stan, LZ1GC

The idea of activating Samoa (5W) and Vanuatu (YJ) occurred to me immediately after the end of the H40GC DXpedition 2017. I had other plans, but in February, 2018, I decided to activate these two destinations. At that time, Samoa (5W) was 127th in the CLUBLOG ranking as the most wanted country among the amateur community and Vanuatu (YJ) was number 75 in the same ranking.

Below is some brief information from Wikipedia about Samoa and Vanuatu.

5W – Samoa

Samoa, know as Western Samoa consists two main islands Savai’i and Upolu, account for 99% of the total land area, and eight small islets. Samoa has total area 2842 square km. Samoa located south of the equator, about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand in the Polenesian region of the Pacific Ocean. The capital city of Samoa is Apia, located on the main island of Upolu.

Samoa has a population around 194,000. About three – quarters of population live on the main island of Upolu. 92% of the population are Samoans, 7% Euronesians – people of mixed European and Polynesian ancestry and 0.4% are Europeans.

YJ  –  Republic of Vanuatu 

Officially, the Republic of Vanuatu is a Pacific nation island located in South Pacific Ocean.   The archipelago, which is of volcano origin is 1750 km east from Australia (VK), 540 km northeast of New Caledonia (FK), east of New Guinea (P29), southeast of Solomon Islands (H44) and west of Fiji Republic (3D2). The fourteen Vanuatu islands that have surface areas of more than 100 square km are, from largest to smallest: Espiritu Santo, Malakula, Efate, Erromango, Ambrym, Tanna, Penfecost, Epi, Ambae (Aoba), Gaua, Vanua Lava, Maewo, Malo and Aneityum (Anatom).

The nation’s largest towns are the capital, Port Vila, on Efate Island and Luganville on Espiritu Santo Island. Vanuatu has a population about 243,000. The inhabitants of Vanuatu are called Ni-Vanuatu.

The Ni-Vanuatu are 98,5 % of Melanesian descent with the remainder made up of a mix of Europeans, Asians and other Pacific islanders.

The organization and preparation for the 5W0GC & YJ0GC DXpedition 2018 took 7 months – a time of hard work involving almost of all my spare time. After a successful initial research on these two destinations regarding travel, visas and accommodation, I decided to carry out:

5W0GC activity from September 28, 2018 to October 14, 2018, and YJ0GC activity from October 15 to November 4, 2018.

In March 2018 after contacts with the government officials responsible for radio licenses at the Telecoms of Samoa and Vanuatu, I was able to get the necessary licenses quickly. I received permission to use the call sign 5W0GC from Samoa and YJ0GC from Vanuatu.

The next step in the preparing for this DXpedition was to buy the necessary airline tickets and make reservations for Samoa and Vanuatu accommodations. During this time I received a nice invitation from Atsu, 5W1SA to visit him and activate 5W0GC from his home. His hospitality was most gracious and made it easier for me to optimize my station setup and location. I am grateful to Atsu for the invitation, hospitality and help which he provided me during my stay in Apia, Samoa. Thanks, Atsu!

For choosing a place to stay at Port Vila, Vanuatu, I received assistance from Chungki, VA7YM (YJ0YM). The proposed location was the Blue Pango Motel in Port Vila. I had another backup motel option, but it did not have to be used as the Blue Pango Motel turned out to be a very good place for YJ0GC activity.

In May 2018 I had a conversation with Lubo, OM5ZW, a good friend from our T2GC DXpedition in 2015. He expressed a desire to participate as an operator at YJ0GC. He further recommended Karel, OK2WM to join our team. Now, the composition of the upcoming DXpedition to Vanuatu grew to 3 operators.

The months from May to September 2018 passed with preparing and testing the radios and antennas to be used on the DXpedition. During these months I also sought sponsors for the upcoming 5W0GC (Samoa) and YJ0GC (Vanuatu) activities. To all the radio amateur Associations, Foundations, Club and Individual Sponsors who responded to my requests for support to this DXpedition, I give my wholehearted “Thank You”.

The day is 26 September 2018.

Again, I am on my way to the Pacific Ocean! Far from the Motherland. This time my goal is Samoa (5W) and Vanuatu (YJ) – two island countries located thousands of kilometers from Bulgaria.

After three flights, two of which were about 11 hours (each one!), I arrived in Nadi, Fiji, in the early morn of September 28. The same day at 13:40 local time followed another flight to Apia, Samoa.

According to plan, at about 5 PM local time, I was in the passenger arrival area of Faleolo International Airport (Apia), where Atsu, 5W1SA, was expected to meet me.

I was quickly recognized by Atsu, 5W1SA. With so much luggage and with an ACOM sign on one of my boxes it was impossible not to recognize me from the other arriving passengers. We met for the first time! After a short conversation we boarded his Jeep and headed to his house, located near the highest point of a mountainous area and about 700 meters above sea level.

Stan, LZ1GC (5W0GC) at 5W1SA location

Arriving at Atsu’s home, I immediately installed my radio equipment. It was dark outside when I began to work on the air with Atsu’s dipole antennas at 40 and 80 meters.

During the first night I worked cw on both the 40 and 80 meter bands. The tempo was good, and I stayed committed to the big pile up. I was so energized I operated throughout the night. At dawn, I shut down the station and began to prepare for the raising the vertical antenna for the 160/80/40m bands. This is the same antenna I had successfully used on my prior Dxpeditions.

Next to Atsu’s property, the 5W1SA QTH had plenty of empty space, and though overgrown with grass and other vegetation, it was possible to install numerous antennas without any problems.

About 11 АМ local time on September 29th, Atsu and I prepared and raised the 160m/80m vertical. That same day I began making 160m cw qsos. During my time as 5W0GC, I tried to make the most of the windows of good propagation for the different continents. Despite the poor propagation, the rate of the contacts was good.

Samoa is known for its daily rains in October. Indeed, during my entire stay in Samoa, there was rain every day, often accompanied by a strong wind. This interfered with the installation of my second antenna – a multi-band GP, designed to work 10-40m. It was on the 3rd day of my arrival on Samoa that I successfully erected this antenna.

Although the focus of this Dxpedition was on the low bands, I was very active on the other bands also, often including CW, SSB and RTTY.

5W0GC activity occurred from late afternoon on September 28 to early morning on October 14. During the night I was active at on 160/80/40m, and during the day on 30 to 10m. Daily pauses were no more than 3 to 4 hours for sleeping and antenna repair. After two weeks, 14,094 QSOs were logged on all radio bands using CW, SSB and RTTY. I am delighted that from Samoa (5W) I gave a new one to many radio amateurs, not only on the low bands but also the high bands.

Here are the statistics from CLUB LOG for 5W0GC activity:

The 5W0GC operation by Stan, LZ1GC ended at 02:00 AM local time on October 14. After I went QRT, I disassembled and packed the technical equipment and prepared for a late afternoon departure. At dawn, I began dismantling and packing the antennas.

The flight to Nadi, Fiji was at 17:40 local time. However, on arriving at Apia’s Faleolo Airport with Atsu, 5W1SA, we found that the flight would have a delay of 2 hours. Due to the announced delay of my flight to Fiji, Atsu returned to his home, and I stayed at Faleolo Airport waiting for my upcoming flight.

Time was passing, and I was already thinking about the upcoming activity at Vanuatu. Then, just when I was expecting information on the flight departure to the intermediate stop in Fiji, I heard the announcement that flight FJ 254 from Apia, Samoa to Nadi, Fiji was canceled. This was very unpleasant news to say the least!

During the preparation of my DXpeditions, I always prepare for any problems. I usually have solutions for them, but in this case I was unpleasantly surprised and could do nothing. I had previously arranged with Lubo (OM5ZW) and Karel (OK2WM) to meet on October 15 at Nadi Airport, Fiji. They were to arrive at Nadi Airport at 08:35 local time on October 15. I would await for them in the passenger arrival area, and then we would travel together in the early afternoon to Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Now, everything was messed up … the meeting as planned was not possible! After an initial confusion among the passengers of the canceled flight, things started to work out – some of the passengers sought to rebook new round-trip flights. Others like me were informed that the next flight to Nadi, Fiji would depart the next day at 17:00 local time. So, that evening (on the 14th) I stayed at the Sheraton Hotel in Apia.

The first thing I did from the hotel was email Lubo (OM5ZW) and Karel (OK2WM) about my canceled fligh, and that our meeting would have to be rescheduled. Fortunately, they were traveling with their own equipment they could use to get on the air quickly – Two transceivers: a Yaesu FT 991 and an Elecraft K3 and two amplifiers: an ACOM 700S and a SPE Expert 1.5. They traveled with extra luggage, which included two vertical antennas from 10-40m and a low frequency receiving antenna donated by Array Solutions. I asked them to activate the bands immediately on their arrival at the motel in Vanuatu. I told them that I would join them as soon as possible once I confirmed the flight from Fiji to Vanuatu. The masts and antenna equipment for the 160 and 80 meter bands were part of my extra baggage. Those bands would be activated later.

On October 15 after the flight from Apia, Samoa I arrived at Nadi, Fiji airport at 18:30 local time. After passing through Fiji customs, I checked for the first flight to Port Vila, Vanuatu. It turned out that the flight will be at 09:00 on October 17, the day after tomorrow


As compensation for the missed flight to Vanuatu I got a courtesy stay at Nadi’s Flamingo Hotel thanks to Fiji Airways. From the hotel, I e-mailed Lubo (OM5ZW) and Karel (OK2WM ) that I would join them soon after my arrival time of 11:30 AM on October 17 at Port Vila, Vanuatu. Opening the Dxsummit website, I was happy to see YJ0GC was already on the air. Kudos to Lubo and Karel on their success! That really settled my nerves. YJ0GC was making qso’s on 20 and 40m!

The next day, October 16, I tried to rest after the exhausting 5W0GC activity and the psychological stress caused by the canceled flight. The time had passed slowly over the two day delay, knowing all the while that I needed to be in Vanuatu.

Finally, on October 17 and after a 2-hour flight I was in Port Vila, Vanuatu. After the usual customs check at Port Vila Airport, I took a taxi to the Blue Pango Motel where Lubo (OM5ZW) and Karel (OK2WM) were waiting for me. When I arrived at the motel, we immediately began preparing for the raising the two vertical antennas for 160m and 80m. It took three hours to get both antennas in place. That evening YJ0GC was on both 80 and 160 meters simultaneously with two transmitters.

The next day we also installed a multiband ground plane antenna to operate from 10 to 40 meters.

Stan, LZ1GC and Lubo, OM5ZW preparing the 160m & 80m verticals

Stan, LZ1GC (L) and Lubo, OM5ZW (R) with Multiband GP antenna on the beach

For the majority of the YJ0GC activity our team had 5 TX antennas and one RX antenna array, namely separate vertical antennas for 160 and 80 meters, 1 StepIR vertical antenna, 1 multiband GP antenna, and 1 vertical antenna for 10-40m for transmit and a AS-SAL-30-MK2-DX receiving antenna, kindly donated by Array Solutions. We used the receiving antenna on 160 meters.

We also had 3 operator positions, each one complete with a separate linear amplifier. Unfortunately, we could not use these resources to full potential due to the proximity of the antennas to each other. However, we did manage to work with two radios simultaneously during all of the activity. The third operating position was not used efficiently! In addition, to work efficiently on 160m we had to halt the other stations because of interference.

Stan, LZ1GC, at the key as YJ0GC

However, I think that YJ0GC activity was good despite these operational issues! Many contacts were made on the low bands – 160, 80 and 40 meters, so that the mission of the DXpedition with a focus on low bands was fulfilled. At the same time many contacts were also made on high bands to hopefully satisfy many with ATNO’s.

Between October 15 and November 4, 2018, we made 23,448 QSOs with 129 different countries on CW, SSB, RTTY and FT8. The YJ0GC statistics from Club Log are shown in the following two tables.

Do not think that during the YJ0GC DXpedition we went without problems. Because our vertical antennas for 160m and 80m were just outside of the motel, there were attacks on them! Several times we detected some of the radials and parts of the guy ropes for the verticals went missing. Apparently, some of the local residents caused us problems. Fortunately, I had packed spare radials and ropes, so these attacks did not significantly affect the YJ0GC activity.

An unexpected experience during the YJ0GC DXpedition was experiencing an earthquake with a magnitude 4.8 on the Richter scale. This was easily felt in Port Vila, Vanuatu at 20:33 local time on October 20. It was a strong horizontal quake lasting about 5 to 6 seconds. I had the feeling that the table on which the equipment was installed was moving. Despite the quake we continued our activity on the air non-stop!

YJ0GC team(L to R) – Karel (OK2WM), Stan ( LZ1GC ) and Lubo (OM5ZW)

From October 16 to October 27, 2018, YJ0GC activity was performed by 3 operators: Stan, LZ1GC), Lubo, OM5ZW and Karel, OK2WM. On October 28, it was time for Lubo, OM5ZW to return to Slovakia. His work assignment did not allow him to stay until the end of the DXpedition. With Lubo’s departure the YJ0GC DXpedition continued to operate with two operators operating at full throttle.

At dawn on November 4, 2018, YJ0GC made its last QSO and went QRT.

After nearly 5 hours of dismantling the antennas and packing up, Karel, OK2WM and I headed for the Port Vila airport to begin our long journey back to Europe. On our way back to Vienna we would travel through Nadi, Fiji and Seoul, South Korea. Our journey back to Europe went as planned without cancellation of any flights nor problems with customs.

For Karel and I an unforgettable experience was our pre-arranged meeting with Antoine, 3D2AG at the airport in Nadi, Fiji.

Left to right: Karel, OK2WM, Tony, 3D2AG and Stan, LZ1GC

We gave as a gift to Antoine, 3D2AG part of the antenna equipment we used during our YJ0GC activity. We stayed at a local hotel, chatting away the night with Antoine, 3D2AG as we talked about all things amateur radio.

The next day, November 5, after an 11-hour flight on Korean Airlines, we stopped in Seoul, South Korea. There, awaiting our arrival was Aves Kang, DS2AGH – a good friend of mine for many years, who as usual, entertained us during our short stay in Korea! I thank Aves Kang for his help and, of course, his hospitality.

On November 6, after another 11 hour flight on a Korean Airlines Boeing 777, we arrived at the international airport in Vienna, Austria where we were expecting Wolfgang, OE1WEU and Lubo, OM5ZW. Finally, my 43 day trip to the Pacific Ocean in 2018 ended successfully on November 7 after an hour’s flight from Vienna to Sofia, Bulgaria. So completed the 5W0GC & YJ0GC DXpedition 2018.

At the end of this article, I want to express my gratitude for the support we have received from many radio amateur foundations, associations and clubs:

GDXF, SDXF, EUDXF, LA DX GROUP, CDXC ( U.K. ), Mediterraneo DX Club, Clipperton DX Club, KC5WXA – Jake McClain Driver Memorial A.R.C., GM DX GROUP, SWODXA, WVDXA, GSDXA, Mile-HI DX Association, Willamette Valley DX Club, Thracian Rose Club and LYNX DX GROUP.

I also want thank our corporate sponsors who supported this expedition:

ACOM Ltd Bulgaria, SILPA Ltd Bulgaria, microHam, ARRAY SOLUTIONS, Spiderbeam Ltd and GES ELECTRONICS.

Thanks also to CLUBLOG, DXNEWS and all individual sponsors, before and after this expedition!

With respect and 73!

Stan, LZ1GC (5W0GC & YJ0GC)

EP6RRC île de Shiff IOTA: AS-189

Written by Vasily V. Pinchuk R7AL

We landed in Tehran International airport at around 05-00 local time and after passing the visa formalities were meet by Mohammad EP2LMA and Ali EP2AK. Actually, there are very strict custom rules in Iran, but Mohammad made a really good and outstanding job before our arrival and we passed the custom without any troubles.

meeting à l’aéroport de Téhéran

The distance from Tehran to Shif island more than one thousand km. We rented a big van with the driver and a second car to use it on the island to go for a food to Buhehr and any other emergency reasons. The road trip across the country from the north to the Persian Gulf lasted for more than 15 hours and was really interesting and exotic.

Nous goûtons les spécialités nationales

It was already a midnight when we arrived to our QTH on Shif island. It’s the traditional Persian fisherman’s settlement, consisting of a few hundred of houses with the flat roofs, staying close to each other. Off course, it’s absolutely no any accommodation for rent, so we settled in the house of local fisherman, where he lives with his wife and three children.

It was four rooms and the kitchen in our house, we occupied three of them.

 The whole team was very tired but, nevertheless, immediately set up the first station and began to install the quarter-wave vertical for 40 meters band. It was very dark and no any external lighting in the garden and we were using just a flashlight of our mobile phones.

Our first QSO from AS-189NEW was made 16-th of November at 22-57 UTC  with the Belgian station ON4AMC. Well done!! We were keeping this station running all the night, making the first few hundred stations happy with their new IOTA!

Early in the morning, with the first rays of the sun, we started to build the antennas. Sadly, our house was located inside the village, surrounded by other buildings, very far from the beach and it’s not enough space to set up all our antennas. It took some time to find a best solution and place all the antennas for 160 to 15 meter bands.

set up d’antennes

First ones became the 2 element VDAs, so we have soon started to QRV with two high-power stations on 15 and 17 meter bands respectively. The most difficult was is to set up the LF vertical antenna and put the long radials. Also we removed the 40 meter vertical and put it into a salt water.

le champ d’antennes

Since the propagation on HF bands to Europe and Asia was good all the day long, we were experiencing some difficulties to work stateside stations. Most common bands to NA was 20 and 40 meters, with some good openings on 17 meters also. We were calling “NA only” every time according the best predictions for stateside!

Shortly we discovered a very unpleasant surprise – every few hours a terrible S-9 QRN covered all the bands and it’s lasts from half an hour to 2-3 hours.

Looking ahead to say that this problem haunted us until the end of activity. We tried to find the QRN-source, but our Iranian friends told us that it is some military activity on the Persian Gulf.

First night shows that the noise level on 80 and 160 meter bands is very high, because of the proximity of the power line, LED lamps and other devices in the village. We were trying the EWE-antenna in different configuration and spent a lot time, but did not achieve the desired result with that. Also it was an idea to hang a short Beverage antenna but the hosts of the neighboring houses were not thrilled with this. So the LF-bands were a big challenge, but we did our best for NA and JA stations!

QRN S9+ !

The pile-ups were really huge and almost does not decreased until the very last day of our stay on Shif island. We perfectly understand that we needed not only for IOTA-hunters, but also for those, who are looking for the new DXCC band-slots. All EP6RRC operators do their best to keep up the good work and to archive the maximum result!

Seven days passed very quickly and it’s time to tear down the antennas and pack up all the equipment. Last EP6RRC QSO was made on November, 23 at 22-33 UTC, just a half an hour before we take our seats in the van.

Ahead was a long way back home, to our families and friends…

This expedition took place on 16-th till 24-th of November 2018 and was dedicated to 25-th Anniversary of “Russian Robinson Club”.

We were lucky to made 26K QSOs worldwide despite all the difficulties, enjoyed the endless pile-ups, met new peoples, got new and unforgettable emotions…

It was a really great radio adventure!!!

Team would like to thank our sponsors as well as all individual donors for their trust, encouragement and support of this project!

EP6RRC team (L-R: Mohsen EP3SMH, Vasily RA1ZZ, Sergey RW5D, Al RZ3K, Mohammad EP2LMA, Avinir UA1ZZ, Igor UA3EDQ, Ali EP2AK, Vasily R7AL, Mohammad EP3MIR, Vlad RK8A)

9LY1JM île Banana – Sierra Leone

Depuis maintenant de nombreuses années, F6KOP organise des expéditions à travers le monde….
Malheureusement, il est de plus en plus difficile vue le nombre d’expéditions organisées par des KOPains ou d’autres équipes de trouver des opérateurs libres aux bonnes dates.
Mais depuis que nous avons décidé de mettre en place une petite équipe de 9 à 12 operateurs max, les KOPains répondent souvent présents…
Cette année, deux nouveaux feront partie de l’aventure et croyez-moi, ils ne regrettent pas leur 1ère expédition.
Cette année nous avions encore beaucoup de destinations en vue mais nous souhaitions ne pas nous éloigner de l’Europe, tout en ayant la possibilité de contacter facilement les Etats-Unis, l’Asie et l’Océanie …. Nous cherchions un pays dans le top 100, facile d’accès, avec un endroit étant un IOTA et pouvant accueillir notre équipe, le matériel…
En cherchant, nous avons contacté Mark 9L1YXJ qui est aussi KW4XJ qui vit à FREETOWN capitale de la Sierra Leone et l’idée de l’île de Banana est arrivée très rapidement.

Nous avons pris contact avec Greg gérant de la guest-house DALTON Banana et nous avons lancé le projet 9L2019.
Greg fut d’une grande aide pour les demande de visas et licence; et malgré plusieurs semaines d’attente, nous avons réussi à obtenir l’indicatif 9LY1JM (nous avions demandé 9L7C)

l’équipe 9LY1JM à l’aéroport

Nous souhaitions également comme chaque année faire un QSO avec une école, ce fut cette année le Collège Doisneau de Sarralbe (57). Jean Luc, F1ULQ a géré ce côté du projet en collaboration avec le radioclub F6KFT de Théding (57) représenté par Jean-Marie F1BOW, Denis F4ANN, Laurent F4FDW et Sébastien F5BQU ainsi que Pierre, Professeur de Mathématiques au collège.
Quelques échanges d’infos avec Claude F5GVA a ce sujet on été précieuses.
Nous ferons un petit article spécial au sujet du qso avec l’école, mais malgré une propagation quelques fois capricieuse, nous pouvons dire que ce projet a été un instant fort de notre XP , les journalistes de la presse écrite et la télévision locale ont été présentes pour retransmettre et présenter ce contact radio.
Nous espérons que grâce à ces moments d’échanges et de partages dans des écoles nous pourrons inoculer le virus de notre passion et faire connaitre le radio-amateurisme.

Cette expédition restera dans les mémoires de chaque opérateur, que ce soit sur le plan radio ou nous avons à mon avis réussi notre pari, que sur le plan de la vie. En effet la Guest-house était insalubre, L’hygiène était absente, il n’y avait pas d’eau courante et pas d’électricité; les douches, les toilettes et la cuisine étaient d’un autre âge, de souvenir de DX expéditionnaire ce fut l’endroit le plus sale que nous n’avions jamais vue. Mais cela n’a pas entaché le moral de cette belle équipe….

Mais laissons la parole à Andreas, DL3GA qui a écrit ses ressentiments durant cette expédition


Iles Banana, Sierra Leone

par Andreas Gille, DL3GA

Pour 2019, l’équipe de F6KOP a sélectionné l’Afrique de l’Ouest comme destination; nous partons donc pour la Sierra Leone. Du 10 au 20 janvier, une équipe motivée de dix OM de France, de Belgique et d’Allemagne était active depuis l’île Banana (AF-037).

Pour un groupe important, la question de l’endroit est toujours un défi. Une relation de confiance avec un local sur l’ile est une nécessité. Gregory, le gérant de Dalton’s Guest House, n’était pas seulement prêt à nous accueillir. Il nous a supporté dans notre demande de licence et de nos visas, organisé notre venue sur l’ile, loué nos deux générateurs ainsi que le carburant ainsi qu’un accès rapide à Internet que nous utilisions avec parcimonie. Enfin, notre activité devrait être une priorité absolue par rapport aux autres clients.
L’équipe s’est donc retrouvée le matin du 9 janvier à l’aéroport de Paris Charles de Gaulle pour effectuer un vol via Amsterdam en direction de la Sierra Leone. Le soir du même jour, nous avons atterri à Freetown, où nous pouvions entrer facilement avec l’ensemble du matériel et avec nos bagages complets. Nous avions loué un minibus, assez grand pour nos bagages et pour nous, mais nous étions à l’étroit et après un peu d’effort de rangement et d’optimisation, le mini bus a pu contenir le matériel et l’équipe, nous étions en Afrique. À cette heure de la journée, seule la route était possible pour voyager. C’était une route bien aménagée et peu fréquentée, nous sommes donc arrivés après deux heures et demie de voiture à une maison d’hôtes près de Kent. Malgré l’heure tardive, nous avons encore pu manger et boire un verre avant de nous mettre au lit.
Tôt le lendemain matin, nous avons traversé la plage pour rejoindre la jetée, d’où nous pouvions déjà voir notre destination, les îles de Banana, malgré le brouillard. Un peu plus tard, deux bateaux à moteur nous ont emmenés avec l’équipement directement à la Dalton Guest House, où nous avons été accueillis par Gregory. Lors du petit-déjeuner commun, nous avons discuté des limites et des possibilités d’installation des antennes et des stations.

Nous avons réparti les antennes, nos ¼ d’ondes monobandes sur la plage et mis en place les quatre stations sur deux tables situées dans l’espace commun pour ne pas dire au milieu du restaurant, avec vue sur la mer.

Deux BOG (Beverage on Ground) en direction d’Europe / Asie et des États-Unis ont également été mis en place.

Cela a duré toute la journée, mais après le dîner, tout pouvait commencer. Seule l’antenne de 160 m posait encore des problèmes. DL3GA a eu l’honneur de réaliser les premiers QSO CW sur 80m.
La nuit, la mer nous a clairement fait comprendre que nous avions placé de nombreuses antennes de manière trop optimiste. En effet, la marée a été plus haute que prévue, rendant quelques antennes qui se trouvaient alors dans l’eau salée inutilisables.

La station CW a eu de la chance et a pu fonctionner sur 80 mètres toute la nuit. Dans la matinée, toutes les antennes en péril d’immersion ont été déplacées plus à l’intérieur de la plage. Ce n’est qu’après la marée que la GP de 40 m a pu être récupérée sur la jetée et replacéé à côté d’un cocotier sur la plage. Le L inversé sur 160m a été hissé sur l’un des plus gros rochers. Plus tard, cette antenne a également reçu un autre câble coaxial et a été réglée à nouveau. Malheureusement, cela a duré longtemps, il a fallu arrêter toutes les stations afin de trouver le réglage optimal. En raison des faibles distances entre les antennes, nous avions des interférences et nous nous faisions du QRM quand nous avions des petits signaux, mais en doublant les filtres sur chaque bande, cela a limité les dégâts.

De plus dès le début de l’xp notre signal CW semblait plutôt irrégulier à des vitesses de 30 à 32 WPM. Ce n’est pas un phénomène inconnu lorsque la CW est faite directement à partir de machines Windows, mais cela est apparu pour la première fois sur une expedition de F6KOP. Le problème n’a disparu qu’après plusieurs redémarrages de nos PC et de WINTEST…

Après 24 heures d’activité, nous avions plus de 4 000 QSO dans le log, nous sommes arrivé à une moyenne journalière d’environ 5 000 QSO avec pour même une journée à plus de 6000 qso.
Dans la nuit du 12 janvier, nous voulions enfin être QRV sur 160 m et DL3GA en a encore eu l’honneur lors de son premier quart. Les conditions étaient excellentes! L’écoute alternée sur les deux BOG a amené un flux constant d’appels et le log c’est rempli facilement. Ce soir-là pas de problème, pas de bruit de fond ou statique, permettant plus de 750 QSO jusqu’à la fermeture de la bande le matin. Cela aurait pu être encore plus important si les appelants s’étaient simplement mieux répartis sur le pileup. Malheureusement, de telles conditions étaient l’exception.
C’était le week-end et cela a amené de nouveaux arrivants sur l’île. Le premier était un jeune homme de Londres qui est resté une semaine et est rapidement devenu un membre de l’équipe. Nous lui devons d’excellentes images et vidéos qu’il a filmées avec son drone. Plus tard, des excursionnistes sont venus sur l’île, qu’ils soient européens ou locaux. Nous avons eu l’impression que nos activités et notre passion les fascinaient plus qu’elle les dérangeait.
Nous avions un générateur diésel et un à essence. Dans la nuit de dimanche, le groupe électrogène à essence a manqué de carburant et le groupe électrogène diesel ne pouvait pas être démarré car la batterie était à plat. Celui à essence a donc dû être utilisé d’avantage, ce qui a ensuite nécessité une nouvelle période de maintenance pour le carburant et l’huile moteur. Nous devions alterner les groupes toutes les 4h. Cette nuit-là, le 160m a malheureusement été très perturbé par beaucoup de bruit statique, nous avons utilisé les BOGs sur 80m.
En général, notre priorité était le trafic en CW, SSB et RTTY. Le FT8 était également inclus, mais était souvent utilisé sur des bandes à propagation plutôt défavorable.

Néanmoins, nous étions régulièrement dans ce mode sur des bandes ouvertes.

Nous avons utilisé la version actuelle de WSJT-X en mode Fox.

Mais après avoir téléchargé les premiers logs sur ClubLog, notre station pilote a reçu divers mails sur des QSO FT8 manquants.

En comparant le log WSJT avec un log que nous enregistrions en parallèle, le souci a été rapidement confirmé. Nous avons réussi à récupérer l’ensemble des qso, en générant un ADIF corrigé à partir d’un logiciel écrit sur place par nos soins.

Cela semblait être le plus petit problème, car certains ne semblaient appeler ni en mode Hound ni sur la bonne fréquence.

Nous avions beau expliquer le mode de trafic en FOX HOUND, aucun QSO pour quelques stations, alors que cela fonctionnait immédiatement pour les autres. Nous en avons déduit que WSJT-X n’avait pas qu’un bug dans la partie log. Cependant, nous avons réussi à atteindre une moyenne de près de 100 QSO/ha certains moments dans ce mode !
Le 160m a eu une nouvelle fois sa chance dans la nuit de lundi.

Le bruit statique était intense, mais sur les BOGs, c’était relativement calme. Ainsi, le nombre de QSO a été augmenté a un peu plus de 1000.

La nuit suivante, la BOG vers l’Europe était complètement sourde.

DL3GA tenta d’entendre les appelants sur la verticale et sur le BOG vers les Etats-Unis, mais cela n’apporta pas grand-chose.

Après quelques essais, le câble coaxial a finalement été identifié comme la cause et remplacé par un câble de rechange. Les conditions étaient cependant mauvaises, à peine une centaine de QSO ont été réalisés. La nuit de mercredi était différente, une belle ouverture de quatre heures sur 160m a poussé le compteur de QSO à plus de 1600. Dans le temps restant, les conditions n’ont pas permis d’augmenter ce nombre considérablement.
Les bandes hautes ont un rendement comparable à la faible activité solaire. Les QSO avec la péninsule ibérique étaient possibles quotidiennement, mais nos appels sur ces bandes restaient souvent sans réponse.

Cela pouvait changer rapidement, surtout en fin d’après-midi, ou parfois les bandes hautes s’ouvraient littéralement.

Une seule journée seulement nous a permis des contacts avec une grande partie de l’Europe sur 12 et 10 m. Nous avons connu lespileups les plus intenses sur les bandes moyennes quasiment jusqu’au dernier quart. Sur ces bandes, des QSO avec tous les continents pouvaient parfois être réalisés en quelques minutes. Les statistiques peuvent être consultées sur ClubLog.
La « grande » zone la plus difficile depuis l’Afrique de l’Ouest est certainement le Japon et l’Océanie. Les ouvertures de la bande, qu’elles soient short ou long-pass ne durent pas longtemps et les signaux sont faibles. Surtout sur 80 et 160 m, les liaisons n’étaient possibles pratiquement qu’au lever du soleil vers le Japon et duraient moins d’une heure.

Vers les États-Unis, notre QTH offrait le meilleur diagramme de rayonnement, sans aucun obstacle. L’Amérique du Sud et l’Australie étant partiellement occultés par l’île, nous ne pouvions certainement pas répondre à toutes les demandes. Les meilleures conditions pour un QSO avec nous étaient sans aucun doute l’Europe. Nous aimerions toutefois souligner que, même notre meilleur trafic, d’avantages de QSO auraient été possibles. Parce que, les Européens, répètent systématiquement leur indicatif deux fois. Lorsque vous lui répondez 5NN, celui-ci vous répond à nouveau avec son indicatif (même s’il était déjà correctement affiché à l’écran), suivi d’un message tel que CFM, QSL, 73, GL, CU. Cela était probablement parti d’un bon sentiment, mais coûtait en réalité beaucoup de temps inutile. Depuis les États-Unis, à l’inverse, la réponse était uniquement 5NN ou 5NN TU – et cela pouvait continuer.

Notre emplacement, Dublin, est la partie des îles de Banana la plus proche du continent. Ici, on peut passer son temps autrement que devant un émetteur-récepteur. Certains d’entre nous sont allés en bateau à moteur dans un bon endroit pour faire de la plongée en apnée, mais il y avait aussi du matériel pour plonger avec bouteille d’air comprimé, surfer et un bateau pneumatique en forme de banane (logique) disponible, mais nous étions a Banana pour faire de la radio et nous n’avons pas profité de ces options. De plus, on pouvait participer à des randonnées guidées sur l’île.
La nuit de samedi devrait être notre dernière à 160m.

Pour le démontage de l’antenne d’émission, il a fallait à nouveau beaucoup d’aide, nous avons donc choisi de le faire samedi.

Dans un dernier effort, nous voulions également trafiquer à nouveau en CW sur 80m.

Nous avons donc réquisitionné la station, qui était principalement en FT8, pour la CW.

Un splitter a été utilisé afin que les deux stations CW puissent utiliser la BOG vers l’Europe / l’Asie. Les tests ont rapidement prouvé qu’il n’y avait pas d’interférence mutuelle entre les deux stations malgré la proximité des antennes. L’ouverture vers le Japon et l’Asie a été utilisée avec succès le plus longtemps possible, mais la demande n’a pu être satisfaite.

Avec près de 1900 QSO à la fin, nous avons atteint notre objectif sur 160m.

Le dernier jour, nous avons tout mis en œuvre pour augmenter le nombre de QSO. Il était nécessaire de réaliser plus de 5 000 QSO pour dépasser le nombre magique de 50000 QSO.

Cela a finalement réussi quelques heures avant le QRT final.

Dimanche, nous sommes partis immédiatement après le petit-déjeuner avec deux bateaux à moteur, nous étions attendus par deux minibus. Nous avons dû prendre le ferry de Freetown à l’aéroport pour éviter la longue route de campagne. Cela s’est avéré être une petite aventure en soi, mais n’était pas la version la plus rapide…

Le dernier vol KLM de cette destination nous a conduits vers Amsterdam via Monrovia, au Libéria.

Apparemment, Murphy était également à bord, car nous avons manqué le vol de correspondance à destination de Paris. Heureusement, le vol suivant était déjà à midi.

A l’aéroport Charles de Gaulle, nous avons pu remettre tous les bagages aux KOPains du radio club qui nous attendaient, puis rentrer par la dernière étape de notre voyage de retour, chacun prenant son chemin. J’espère que nous aurons à nouveau un QSO, quel que soit le lieu de la prochaine expédition.

Un simple 5NN TU serait génial!

la cuisine 4 étoiles au guide Banana
Même « escherichia coli » ne reste pas !

Toute l’équipe, Frank F4AJQ, Jean-Luc F1ULQ, Patrick, F2DX, Andreas DL3GA, Jimi F4DLM, Jean-Baptiste F4ERY, Frank F5TVG, Julien F8AVK, Herman ON4QX, Eric ON7RN, tient à remercier nos sponsors qui nous font confiance depuis de nombreuses années.

Batima, Spiderbeam, KW-Com, ADM , les institutionnels REF, UFT, Clipperton DX Club, ARSM77, LA DX Group, Lynx, Tokyo 610 DX Group , Clublog, Win-Test.

Merci a nos deux pilotes pour leur aide précieuse:

F4GTB Chris et ON8KW Kurt.

Un grand merci a tous les KOPains et a F6KOP pour l’aide apporté à la réussite de cette expédition.

Un grand merci a l’équipe du radio club F6KFT de Théding représenté par Jean-Marie F1BOW, Denis F4ANN, Laurent F4FDW et Sébastien F5BQU ainsi que Pierre Professeur de Mathématiques au collège sans qui le qso avec l’école n’aurait pu se réaliser.

Un merci spécial a nos YL ou à nos proches qui nous permettent de vivre notre passion a fond.

Merci a vous tous, vous qui être de l’autre coté du pile up, et qui nous ont fait confiance.

A bientôt pour une nouvelle aventure avec F6KOP.

Where do we go next?

Le CDXC au salon de Clermont (d60)

crédit photo: F4FLF Olivier

Aux heures du midi au stand
L’équipe F5KMB
Vue depuis la tribune « brocante »

TX0A (OC-113) – TX0M (OC-297)

DXpedition to French Polynesia: TX0A (OC-113) and TX0M (OC-297)

by Cezar Trifu, VE3LYC

The DXCC entity of French Polynesia (FO) includes about 100 islands and atolls within a large area of southern Pacific, extending approximately 2200 km in the NW-SE direction, and up to 800 km perpendicular to it. These islands are grouped in 12 IOTA references. Except for Morane (OC-297), which has been designated a new IOTA reference in October 2018, the Actaeon group (OC-113) is the rarest. There was only one operation from OC-113, carried out in April 1990 by FO5BI/P from Marutea Sud, one of its atoll counters. Ranked #6 on the Most Wanted IOTA List, this reference is in demand by 98% of IOTA members.

Just landed on Morane

Jean-Yves Lepage and his wife Sandrine, who planned to visit French Polynesia aboard their yacht L’Ile d’Elle during the last part of 2018 agreed to provide transportation to these two IOTA groups for a small team of radio operators. They purchased in Tahiti all the materials we requested, which included a Honda generator, in addition to the one they owned and offered to lend us, two deep cycle batteries and a charger, as part of our contingency plan, sealed drums, tents, gas, food and water supplies.

Camp TX0M.

The operating team included Adrian (KO8SCA) and I. For the OC-113 reference we targeted Maria Est, located 153 km to the northeast of Morane (OC-297). Both atolls are small and uninhabited, with fully enclosed lagoons. Landing and leaving their reefs required well planned and executed logistics, and our skipper Jean-Yves was joined by his friend Bernard, a resident of the Gambier Islands.

Given the weather conditions at the time of our arrival in Gambier, the skipper decided to sail first to Morane, and then to Maria Est. On Morane, Bernard installed a long rope which allowed the operators and the equipment to be moved in safely at high tide with a dinghy. We operated from there as TX0M between December 6 and 10, using IC-7000 and K3 transceivers, KPA-500 and SPE Expert 1.3K-FA amplifiers, and multi-band verticals, powered by Honda generators.

Adrian (KO8SCA) operating K3 and SPE Expert 1.3K-FA.

Cezar (VE3LYC) using IC-7000 and KPA-500.

The log includes 7514 QSOs with 4727 stations in 99 DXCC on 6 continents. About 23% of the contacts were on each of 40 and 30 m, 35% on 20 m, 18% on 17 m, and a few on 15 m. Almost 90% of the QSOs were in CW, with the rest in SSB. The continental distribution was AS 29%, EU 31%, NA 36%, OC 2%, SA 2%, and AF <1%.

Camp TX0A.

Dinner prepared by Chef Bernard.

As the wind direction changed, we were forced to depart from across the lagoon, which required a sustained effort, and took much longer than landing. Once returned to the yacht, it took us 15 hours to sail to Maria Est. Landing there was done by driving the dinghy carefully over the reef, in order to avoid hitting its razor-sharp edges.

We operated from Maria Est between December 12 and 16, when we logged 5135 QSOs with 3446 stations in 79 DXCCs on 6 continents. About 35% of the contacts were on 40 m, 18% on 30 m, 26% on 20 m, and 21% on 17 m, with almost 95% of the QSOs in CW, and the rest in SSB. The continental distribution of QSOs was AS 22%, EU 33%, NA 39%, SA 3%, OC 3%, and AF <1%.

We stayed on the air during night time as long as the bands were open, but weren’t able to sleep during the day at all, because of the very high temperature and humidity. Instead, we preferred to visit the remains of the nearby old seasonal settlement used for copra production or search for shade to cool off a little. For meals, Bernard spoiled us with his tasty fish and lobster cooking skills. Leaving the atoll had to be done from across the lagoon, a 6-hour long effort under a burning sun.

The operations tent.

Since propagation conditions on 20 m to EU were poor, particularly for the western and northern areas of the continent, we decided instead to focus on 30 and 40 m to reach more EU stations. As such, we focused on 17 and 20 m for AS and NA. During our two stops we made a total of 12,636 QSOs with stations in 106 DXCCs. The French radio amateurs ranked #6 among the DXCCs, by both the number of QSOs 149 / 212, as well as for the number of stations (106 / 136) which logged each IOTA, after K, JA, I, DL, UA for TX0A, and K, JA, I, UA, DL for TX0M, respectively.

Departing Maria Est from across the lagoon required a serious effort

We wish to thank Jean-Yves, Sandrine, and Bernard for their strong logistical assistance. We remain indebted to the International Radio Expedition Foundation (IREF), German DX Foundation, RSGB, DX News, Clipperton DX Club, CDXC: The UK Foundation, Swiss DX Foundation, Orca DX and Contest Club, and Dorna DX Club, for their generous grants. Johan (PA3EXX) – pilot station, Mehdi (F5PFP) – logistics, George (VE3GHK) – technical assistance, Maury (IZ1CRR) – website support, and Jean-Paul – our host in Tahiti, are acknowledged for their help. We are grateful to DG2AT, DL6DQW, KD1CT, I2YDX, SM3NXS, N4WW, and N6FX for their exceptional support, to the top donors DL4KQ, JE1DXC, JF4VZT, JJ8DEN, K0DEQ, K1HT, K5MT, K9RR, N4II, N5UR, OE3SGA, OE3WWB, ON4IZ, PT7WA, SM3DMP, SM3EVR, SM6CVX, VE7DP, VE7QCR, VK5MAV, W1JR, W6RLL, WB2YQH, WC6DX, and many others who offered financial aid.