Saturday, March 12, 2011

Day 3 - Slow but steady into VE/W on 10m and 15m - 10m open to JA and 15m explodes into Europe with a magnificent 5 hour run

For the start of day 3 there was a steady trickle of JA's and North American's on 15m and 10m from 0000-0130 UTC. At 0200 UTC or 12 noon local I began my new ritual of ringing my XYL Michelle to let her know how things are going on the island while I'm strolling to the local pub for lunch. It's got to the point where the owner and bar staff staff knows my name and that I'm the bloke with the weird looking giant clothesline that's up in the air - i.e. the Spiderbeam!!!

I'm really enjoying my little two hour ritual of updating the blog and having one hot meal a day......oh yes and I don't mind the 6 or so beers too - hydration is vital on a DXpedition. The only problem yesterday was that I had to sober up pretty damn quick because I thought I'd give a few QSO's to JA out on 10m SSB but it ended up in a two and a half hour busy pile up - whereas yesterday 10m was dead to JA.

On that note it's really tough to pick the band conditions - I live in north VK4 so I know what bands should be open and to where, but the conditions have been totally different day to day these past 3 days. This is a blessing in disguise as it mixes things up, the hardest thing is working out when 40m, 20m, 15m or 10m are open to North America. I'm spotting myself on the cluster everytime I change band and mode. So while this is self spotting, I'm only doing this because this is a short term trip and I want to make the most out of the short and varied openings to give the deserving this IOTA. The feedback I'm getting via email from Europe, South and North America is that they do want this spotting on the cluster, especially considering that my little 100w signal hardly lights up the spectrum analysers - hi hi. So I'm sorry if it looks like I'm an annoying self-spotter over the next couple of days, I'm just trying to help Europe and the America's get the QSO.

At 0700 UTC there was nothing on 20m wheres the day before was sensational to Europe on the long path. I hadn't spent anytime in the day on 15m thus far so I went there to give more JA a chance to get this IOTA and it wasn't long before Laurie VK7ZE put me on the cluster - well - all hell broke loose. From 0700 UTC which is 5pm local, I was stuck in a big Asian pile up which by 0830 UTC turned into a JA/European pile up until it became all Europe at 1000 UTC and continued on strong until 1300 UTC. So for 6 hours I was in the chair and I needed cough lollies to keep my throat from going - there were times I sounded like a 14 year with a breaking voice while other times I sounded like a 95 year old on my last gasping breath! I had to laugh one time when the pile up was so large and I needed a toilet break. I told people to QRX 2 minutes but when I came back  people were still calling so I just stepped back in and resumed the QSO's!

It was great to work lots of Europeans so late at night on 15m - it was absolutely incredible - nothing like being so close to the equator to bring sexy back to 21 MHz.

By 1330 UTC I decided to visit 20m but the DIG contest meant that Europe was full of stations and I found it difficult to get a frequency, it didn't matter that the rate was slow and patchy because all of the QSO's were already in the bank from earlier on 15m. So again I stumbled into bed at 1600 UTC which is 2am local.

I managed to crawl out of bed at 7am to check for North America. Unfortunately I couldn't get through and I went to 15m to work a small but enjoyable number of JA and VE/W's for an hour. At 2330 UTC a visit to 10m revealed it was open nicely to the America's but it seemed W/VE were all beaming to Central/South America working DX rather than looking to the Pacific. There was a steady trickle of West Coast coming in but the highlight was working a new band country in the form of HI3/W1JNZ.

With these 3 IOTA DXpeditions to OC-138, OC-171 and OC-172 I managed to break my previous daily QSO record of 807 made on the first day of Fitzroy Island OC-172 of 807. I ended up the UTC day with 890 QSO's to bring the total after 3 days to 2224. It shows what a difference the Spiderbeam makes, after the 3 day trip to OC-171 Magnetic Island with only the vertical I ended up with 1115! At least I can tell my wife it was worth it the $$$$ to buy it.

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