Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 1 - 10m and 20m wide open to Europe - Finally I get an IOTA DXpedition opening to North America

After a very horrible 4:30am wake up call, my half asleep wife kicked my half asleep butt out of the car at Townsville airport and two flights later - bingo I land on Horn Island. I checked in by 11am and quickly went to the community store to buy supplies. I unpacked my gear and set up the radio in place. I went to the outback tropical bar that's attached to where I'm staying for a chicken schnitzel and a few beers to contemplate life and dream of what may unfold over the next 5 days.

It was then antenna time and I erected the Spiderbeam and 40m dipole in oppressive heat and humidity and the occassional storm with gusting rain - I was drenched with sweat so I couldn't get more wet anyway. The DX gods smiled on me when the SWR on 10, 15, 20 and 40m was what it should be, there was no surprise man made noiseon any band and my test transmissions didn't cause TVI. A quick call to T88ME on 15m who was 59+ revealed that the microphone survived the trip too. So I stumbled into the shower to recharge and get my game face on.

I jumped on 10m just before 0600 UTC at 4pm local and after a few local 9M and VK contacts a rather hectic European pile up developed and lasted 2.5 hours - nothing like a 10m DX pile up to get you into the DXppedition mood - especially when TA, UK and A92 called me for new band countries! My goal is to focus on the area that's been the toughest for me to contact on OC-171 and OC-172 last year, namely North America. So I was very concerned that the next 1.5 hours spent during the prime time of 0830-1000 UTC on 40m only resulted in 4 USA and 1 LU contact and a trickle of JA's and VK's - oh no not again!!! I needed a meal break so I went to 10m PSK31 so that I could eat while doing QSO's and the pile up was quite frantic over the next 45 minutes or so. At 1100-1300 UTC I couldn't raise much of a pulse from North America on 40m SSB or PSK31. At 1330 UTC which is 1130pm local, I was feeling really pleased by 10m but pretty disappointed with another failure of mine to get into the America's. I was about to go to bed but I figured I'd spot myself on the cluster on 20m SSB and make a dozen or so QSO's as it sounded like the band was pretty dead. Goes to show what my predictions are like because 2.5 hours and 310 QSO's with Europe later, I slumped into bed at 2am after a mad-cap pile-up which was much bigger than I've ever experienced on OC-172 - I thought maybe someone spotted me on the cluster as VK4LDX/VK9M or something!

I woke up at 6am and started my desperate attempt to get into North America. At 2130 UTC or 730am local I noticed a few US voices on the 10m band and so I was delighted to make some USA QSO's over the next 30 minutes. An email from east coast suggested that 20m LP was showing a pulse and this resulted in a slow but steady run from 2230 to 2330 UTC to the east coast long path and even some W6 and 7's. Once this dried up, 10m was in much better shape and a few mini-west coast pile ups resulted.

So during UTC day 1 it resulted in 779 QSO's of which half were Europe and then an even spread between Asia, North America and Oceania. So hopefully UTC day 2 will continue to show world wide openings on 10m - this will be my focus today along with 20m SSB to Europe in the 1100-1600 UTC period. Tomorrow I'll continue to beam to the America's on 20, 15 and 10 in the 2130 UTC period onwards.

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