Sunday, March 13, 2011

Day 4 - Best day ever of any of my IOTA DXpeditions - 1000 QSO's made today with Europe wide open on 20m long and short paths and 15m EXPLODES OPEN to Europe

The UTC day started as per usual with a slow trickle of QSO's into North America on 15m and 10m, the conditions are just not quite there to creat a pile up into stateside, instead it's just one QSO every couple of minutes. I really need to upgrade my licence so that I can buy an amplifier and work with 400w instead of 100w. But still it's worth the effort to try and give OC-138 to 50-100 North Americas each morning. 40m on the short path has been very poor and it's not giving any results so 10m and 15m was my only chance to get into North America.

At 0200 UTC or 12 noon it was time for my great little ritual of a counter lunch at the pub as I update the blog with 6 or so beers to help wash down the chicken schnitzel. It's funny as night 3 and 4 was so busy working into Europe in the 5pm to 2am period, that I haven't had the chance to eat dinner, in this period I go for a handful of chocolate biscuits for tea when I do a band change from 15m to 20m and that's it. But that's a great problem to have and just goes to show how incredibly good the band conditions have been to Europe on 15m and 20m. Mind you, despite this there was one Polish ham who was complaining on the DX cluster that I was too weak into Europe despite the fact I was in the middle of 100 QSO per hour pile-ups into Europe - hmm maybe the problem was that he was too weak to get into VK. Then at lunchtime when I was checking my emails he even sent me an email saying that I was strong on Fitzroy Island but weak on Magnetic Island (despite the fact he got the QSO in his log!!!) and that my Spiderbeam is not good enough and I should go back to the vertical because I am too weak on Horn Island into Europe. There are well over 2000 European hams who have worked me in the past 4 days that would disagree with him. Then last night I worked him on both 15m and 20m - I thought he'd be appreciative but no, he put on the cluster after the QSO a complaint about his frustration of not working me in the first 3 days - geez there's no pleasing some people. I would say that 350 QSO's/day on OC-171 and 500 QSO's/day on OC-172 with the vertical is not as impressive as the 800 QSO's/day that have happened with the Spiderbeam - OK I've had my whinge now - you can tell I've only had 2.5 hours sleep!!!!

OK back to the good news. At 0430-0700 UTC it was quite busy working into JA/UA0 on 10m especially as it was a weekend day with lots of people to play radio at home - despite the catastrophic disaster in Japan, I worked many JA's yesterday, but I can't help thinking during the JA pile ups about how many JA friends have either gone silent key, have lost their homes, are without electricity or are in sadness and mourning about lost friends and family members. I thought that we had it hard in north Queensland last month when Tropical Cyclone Yasi hit our area and we experinced house damage and some flooding along with 6 days of no electricity - we got off lightly compared to Tokyo. Mind you our 6 days of no power resulted in me buying a generator - so at least I now have a new generator and fuel containers to take on a future rare IOTA DXpediton.

I then went to 15m but it was pretty dead. Despite this I did work KH9/WA2YUN which was fantastic as Wake Island is an all time new DXCC for me. I've always wanted to work him but I've never been in the right place at the right time - that was the first time I've ever been called by a new DXCC country - that's one of the fringe benefits of doing this IOTA........ it helps ease the pain of the the thousands of dollars each of these IOTA trips have cost me.

At 0730 UTC I checked 20m long path and had a fun hour working 90 stations into Europe. This was a sign of things to come, I thought the previous night was amazing for Europe, but this evening was incredible. From 1000 UTC onwards the pile-up was the biggest and most ferocious that I have ever heard on any of the IOTA DXpeditions, some stations were asking what my call was because they must have heard the chaos and figured whoever I was I must be rare. I'm only OC-138 - I'm not P5 - hi hi. Once I spread them out 5-10 kHz it made things more manageable, I just felt bad taking up so much of the band with me calling on 21270 and listening up 5-10, so I apologize to fellow IOTA guys XU7KOH, T30AH and DZ1P for taking up so much bandwidth. The best rate was 150 per hour and this chaos went on from 1000-1300 UTC when the band closed. Don't worry guys, for the last day I'll be on 15m again if you missed me.

I went straight to 20m and noticed that the IOTA frequency of 14260 was clear. I went there simplex and I must compliment the Europeans for their very good behaviour because for the next 4 hours I was able to work 90 QSO's per hour without having to go split and people were listening and operating by the DX code of conduct and not yelling over the top of each other. So congratulations gentlemen, it meant that people with low power and wire antennas got into log, a few Europeans said they were working me in the 20-50w range. So it was great to have the 20m band open until 1700 UTC which is 3:00am local time.

After this fantastic day I ended up with my highest ever IOTA DXpedition QSO total for a day - namely 1003 QSO's which takes the grand total to 3227 after 4 days of operation.

I now have one more day of operation left. At 2359 UTC or 10am local I need to check out at the end of the UTC day of March 14th. So for the final day I'll goto 10m and 15m in the 0500-0700 UTC period and then look at 20m long path Europe around 0700 UTC. Around 0900 to 1000 UTC I'll start on 15m short path to Europe and once the band closes there I'll go to 20m short path Europe which is likely to be in the 1200-1300 UTC period.

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