Thursday, February 17, 2011

Recognisance visit to Horn Island completed

A hectic fly in and fly out visit occurred to check out Horn Island. I flew out first thing in the morning to Cairns and then took a flight to Horn Island and arrived by mid-morning. I was picked up at the airport by one of the friendly Wongai Beach Resort staff and shown around the area by another staff member. She showed me my room which was to be DXpedition HQ, the last self contained shack, the last in the in the row with nothing but a fence and about 40m of land to the water.

I have permission to set up the vertical antenna and Spiderbeam in between my shack and the pool and no one will get in the way of my radials …. actually it should probably read vice-versa! The room has a bed, air conditioner, fridge, ensuite bathroom and table to operate from. The pub is also nearby, so when the bands are quiet around noon local at 0200-0300 UTC, I can see the daily ritual of a counter lunch and a few beers occurring as my main meal of the day. I’ll also be able to put one end of the 40m dipole of the Spiderbeam mast pole and then send the other end over a large 15m high tree with my newly acquired antenna slingshot launcher.

It’s great to have the manager of the accommodation so welcoming and allowing antenna’s to go up, it’s always a big relief to know you have permission. It’s also a load off my mind to know that the antennas will fit. The day trip added hundreds of dollars to the self-funded DXpedition budget, but it’s a worthwhile investment to get this kind of planning and piece of mind done.

It’s 2½ weeks to go now, so just a practice run with the antenna assembly on the weekend is left before I start figuring out how to fit everything in. I ended up booking two seats for myself to ensure I can take the IC-706MKIIG, ATU, CAT interface, headphones, power supply, SWR meter, camera and laptop on with me as two hand luggage bags. It also means I’ll have 46 kg of stowed baggage allowance for the HF9V vertical, 10m Spiderbeam mast, Spiderbeam antenna, coaxial cable, guy ropes, radial wires, leads, clothes etc.

Horn Island is at a fantastic latitude for 10m and 15m propagation so fingers crossed the improved solar conditions will allow some action on 10m. I can see myself spending early morning, all day and early evening on 15m and 10m when it’s open. Unlike the Fitzroy and Magnetic Island DXpeditions, Horn Island has no mountains and is nice and flat. So there is no beam heading that is going to be blocked, it’s all up to the DX gods. I have a complete water take off to short path JA and Asia, short path and long path North America, short path Europe/Middle East/Africa and long path South America. That afternoon I flew to Cairns and then to Townsville with hopes and spirits high.

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