A full trip report is available here: http://www.bigskyspaces.com/w7gj/CP1GJ DXpedition 2019.pdf
Providing the first ever 6m contacts
to the United States from VK9C and VK9X in 2017
and from C2 last fall is a tough act to
follow! This year, I am activating a rare
DXCC in this hemisphere that has never been on 6m
EME before. I am confident it is also quite rare
in Europe, Africa, Asia and other countries. Since it is the bottom of a very poor
solar cycle, there is little chance of making
any long distance contacts on 50 MHz via the
ionosphere. However, I believe I have located a
good site to operate EME (moonbounce), and will
be active there during optimum days of the month
and at a time of the year to take
advantage of the superb EME conditions afforded at
this point in the low solar cycle!
Since this country is VERY rare, I am
looking forward to providing a new DXCC with
practically every half million mile contact. In order to provide sufficient advance
planning for stations wishing to contact me
while I am in Bolivia, I am providing plenty of
advance notice of this DXpedition. I urge you to gain experience with JT65A and
follow my Step-By-Step JT65A Setup Checklist
to make sure you are using it properly for
EME! And especially review the QSO
PROCEDURE that I use most effectively on
these DXpeditions. Remember also to use
messages (the two tone RO, RRR and 73) in
JT65A! I look forward to contacting you on
As you know, a
good location can mean everything to the success
of one of these DXpeditions. The above
photos show you some of the key reasons that make
this a highly desirable location. Most of
the time I am elevated, I will be aiming out over
the lake and at right angles to the nearest
town. I won't know how much - if any -
ground gain I have during my moonrise, although
that will undoubtedly change as my moonrise
azimuths change from out over the lake to more
over the land. I expect to
have some ground gain during moonset, which
is always out over the lake. This
site does afford reliable AC power, a source of
food, a secure and safe location for the
equipment, and an open spot to be able to set up
and operate the antenna. And, in the event
there IS some ionospheric propagation, I have a
clear shot over the water for the first 70 miles
toward North America!
The plans for the 6m station are essentially the same as used at VK9CGJ and VK9XGJ in 2017 and C21GJ in 2018. Further details regarding the equipment and station set up are available here.
As you can see from reviewing the results from previous 6m EME DXpeditions, many contacts were made with single yagi horizon-only stations. The smallest station contacted from all the DXCC so far was N3CXV with his single 6M5X yagi. If you have a good yagi, good ground gain, a quiet QTH, good power and lots of patience, we should be able to complete!
If you copy me, please spot me on the DX Cluster so people will know the correct grid locator, as well as the frequency and my status. I will diligently try to be QRV during all my moonrises and moonsets as published on the operating schedule. The antenna should have a good view at a height of 70' over the lake, and it will soon become clear after a few moonrises and moonsets which elevations are best for my ground gain lobes. Please watch the ON4KST EME page and/or the DX Cluster for updates on what people are copying and when, and what restrictions I might have regarding my actual moonrises and moonsets.
Please keep calling me even if you copy me working someone else. As long as you are not on the same frequency as the other station, you will not be interfering with them. Please coordinate your calling frequency with others on the ON4KST EME chat page to prevent interfering with each other - ideally, stations should be spread out every 200 Hz. I try to decode all callers every receive sequence, and I make a note of each caller and their DF (or "offset") so I can reply to you as soon as I am able, or use that frequency to identify you later if you are copying me (by sending me calls and OOO - see the special DXpedition QSO procedure link above). Therefore, NEVER change your transmit frequency after you start calling - pick a clear frequency nobody else is using and stay on it! I will try to contact any callers I can copy, but first priority will be given to people who are copying at that particular time, contributors, and stations with shorter common moon windows. I also will be giving priority to those stations who have demonstrated their unselfish commitment to 6m EME by their willingness to accept schedules as requested by other DXers who still need their DXCC.
I am planning to use JT65A mode in WSJT-X during this DXpedition, provided I can keep it running reliably on my laptop computer. Because of that, I should be able to see callers 1000 Hz above and 1000 Hz below the frequency of my Sync Trace, which will be 1271 Hz (to be compatible with the default Sync trace frequency in WSJT10). In addition to the wider waterfall ("Wide Graph") bandwidth, JT65A in WSJT-X is slightly more sensitive in decoding very weak signals. And many of the signals I copy on my small portable antenna are very weak, so I will be doing everything I can to work callers! If I am forced to return to WSJT10, I will try to send out that news, since the range of the waterfall is not as great in WSJT10, and it would be a shame for stations to be calling where I cannot see them.
NOTE TO ALL STATIONS: The days of lowest Degradation are May 10-14, which includes a weekend ;-) How much more convenient can it be for you? Remember that I am using a single yagi, and it can be elevated only to a maximum elevation of 65 degrees (with great difficulty, trying to interlace the elements between the guy ropes), and if the guy ropes are wet, the elements are shorted out causing high SWR, making operation impossible. As the DXpedition period progresses, the moon does get very high at this latitude. Please remember that I do have difficulty elevating over 50 degrees, and I lose any ground gain above 45 degrees elevation. So, if you can, please look for me when my moon is lower than 45 degrees. I will be trying increase my mast height a few feet on this trip, to provide more clearance at higher elevations, and will also try to anchor my guy ropes in closer to the mast to provide more clearance at higher elevations. I always have a lot better success when my elevation is below 45 degrees. So....even if you figure we have plenty of common window time, PLEASE don't wait until my elevation is too high to work you - if you are horizon-only, I encourage you to try to contact me when my moon is lower than 45 degrees elevation if at all possible! There is also another reason for trying to contact me when my moon is lower - Because my antenna is only 20' above the ground, I do get some additional ground gain when my moon is below 45 degrees elevation. That is one reason why I have been so successful on 6m EME with only a single yagi! You will also notice that I do have very short common moon windows window with eastern NA stations on my moonrise (which may not work well at all, as my moonrise moves further down to the east). If you are in EU and you have a 6m EME array with elevation, PLEASE WAIT to call me until after the moonrise in NA. I will be giving priority to NA horizon-only stations. There is lots of time to work you while we are both elevated and/or during your moonset - MNI TNX!!!
On the above tentative operating schedule spreadsheet, I have indicated times when the elevation is over 50 degrees by marking the time periods with diagonal lines throughout the cells. If possible, I will try to remain QRV when the moon is high and elevate as high as I can, especially during the days of lowest Degradation. However, if nobody seems to be around, I may choose to go QRT if nobody shows up during those periods, or if I have already worked stations whose moon is on the horizon during those periods. Please check on the ON4KST EME CHAT page for updates regarding my activity during such periods.
Please also note that heavy rains can create a 1.5:1 SWR on the antenna, which is high enough to shut down the amplifier. So, I may have to be off the air at times. Please just keep watch on 50.175 and I will try to stick to the published schedule as well as I can.
As explained above, expect to be able to send out daily updates to the MAGIC BAND EME email group and revise this website daily with a list of the stations worked. Please watch the MAGIC BAND EME email list for updated information. Please also share any updates with others on the ON4KST EME CHAT page. If there is some question regarding a contact, please DO call again. However, once you have confirmed a contact with me, please do not call for a second contact - some of the common moon windows during the lowest Degradation periods are very limited, and many stations are expected to be calling.
Sorry, no LOTW, eQSL or other newfangled ways of confirmation. I will be using old fashioned photo QSL cards. Please QSL DIRECT with SASE (foreign stations include a current IRC or $USD for postage) direct to:
Lance Collister, W7GJ
Frenchtown, MT 59834-0073
If we have completed an EME contact, I am happy to QSL direct to you at no additional charge. However, I will very much appreciate receiving your card and a self addressed envelope to relieve some of the burden of looking up all your addresses!
FREQUENCY AND SEQUENCE
Because of birdies, I plan to operate on 50.175, and will always transmit in the first sequence JT65A mode. Please check the ON4KST EME CHAT page for news from other hams in case I have to change this frequency due to receiver birdies at my end. If you should copy me on some ionospheric mode while I am pointed at the moon and calling CQ on JT65A mode, please answer me on JT65A mode and let's make a contact! It is very inconvenient for me to switch modes while I am calling CQ or working EME stations on JT65A mode, so please do not call me on CW or SSB or FT8 and expect me to switch over to answer you. When I am not aimed up at the moon, I very well may be on SSB or FT8 mode. For FT8, I will be using WSJT-X Version 2 on 50.313 MHz. My QTH is only a few degrees south of the magnetic equator, so there very well may be some ionospheric propagation somewhere to the north - please spot me if you copy me on a direct path (my DT=0).
It is extremely expensive to haul a 6m EME station halfway around the world. Too many times, we hear DXpedition stations say they can't take a 6m beam and/or amp because "they are already overweight and cannot afford the excess baggage fees". If you want to do a good job and are committed to going halfway around the world to succeed, this unfortunately is a large part of the necessary expense. Although I always keep my costs as low as possible, my travel, excess baggage and lodging costs alone to activate this rare one will be over $4000. Therefore, any contributions toward the DXpedition are greatly appreciated! If you would like to contribute, please send your contribution by check or cash to my QRZ.com mailing address, or directly via PayPal to my email address, which is my current PayPal account. I am only able to do these long distance 6m EME DXpeditions every year because of the continued support from the 6m community and I am extremely indebted to you for your continued support. I have the time and equipment to go more often than once a year to new rare DXCC, but I just don't have the finances available. You may have noticed that I also am planning to activate another rare one in September - so this is going to be a very expensive year of 6m EME DXpeditioning!
Many thanks to the following hams who very generously contributed to this DXpedition:
K2ZD, K7CW, G8VR, SP4MPB, F6BKI, I4EAT, OH7KM, I4YRW, ZL3NW, NJ6P, W6UC, KJ9I, JE3GRQ, JG1TSG, LZ2DF, LZ2CC, N3XX, S51DI, KB7Q, K5QE, SM7FJE, JO1PSX, SP3RNZ, KL7HBK, SP7VC, ON4IQ, ON4GG, S57RR , GM3POI, N8RR, VE1JF, JA7QVI, W7KNT, K6EME, OH2BC, JR3DVL, G8BCG,. N8GTI, W8PAT, N6JV, JH3VJV, K7RWT, W6XU, W9GA, W5ADD, N7NW, N7IP, EA8DBM. DK8NE, YU7EF, YL2AO, OZ4VV, ZS4TX, IW5DHN, G4BWP, G3WOS, GD0TEP, FK8CP, OH3SR, VK4MA, G5WQ, KA9CFD, WT8V, Hudson Valley Towers, JG1TSG, HA0DU, N8DX, VK5PJ, W7JW, DL8YHR, VK3DUT, W8OI, W6TOD, W8TN, JG2BRI, K1SIX, PA9RX, KG7H, N1DG, W9JN, N8JX, JR2SQZ, KA1R, S59A, N7NR, G4FUF, JA9SJI
PHOTOS AND UPDATES
MONDAY MAY 6. Arrived La Paz at 4 AM, and all equipment arrived OK. However, customs spend 2 hours getting lists of equipment, checking luggage and arguing about whether to let the gear into the country. Fortunately, Pablo CP1PA was there to negotiate and help fill out forms in Spanish. We found our minivan driver and loaded up the gear. After a 4 hour trip in the minivan, we arrived at the Onkel Inn in Copacabana on Lake Titicaca. I started work on the antenna at 10 am. I got the mast put together, guyed, and ready for the antenna. I assembled the antenna and elements but ran out of daylight (and energy) before I could align the elements. A stripped screw on the reflector mounting bracket caused an hour delay while I tried to borrow tools to remove it; I inserted a spare. My 50' of LMR600 UF from the antenna JUST made it to the slider of my room. I added a 4' piece of LMR600 at that point, to get me through into the shack. I drove my 23" long ground rod at that point, and use a stainless steel hose clamp to connect the ground braid from the ground rod to the coaxial connectors at that joint. I find that the 50 Hz hum birdies are almost completely gone after watering the ground rod twice a day.
|TUESDAY MAY 7 (first partial moon
pass). Aligned the elements and raised the
antenna. A video of the raising is available here:
Then assembled the station and fired things up for the first time at 2:30 pm local time. Severe thunderstorms most days/nights and the internet is very intermittent. I found too many birdies on 50.190, so moved to 50.191. The first day, I completed with 16 stations:
ON4GG, W7JW, ON4IQ, G8BCG, ES6RQ, N3XX, S59A, S57RR,
NN7J, GM3POI, N8RR, FK8CP, N7NW, JG2BRI, JA7QVI
copied but did not work the following stations: S51DI,
HA8FK, K2ZD, EI3KD, G4BWP, W6UC, and VK4MA
I got a chance after moonset, I was able to find a
clearer frequency of 50.183, and all future EME
operations will be there. My noise level comes up at
nightfall when all the lights come one, and my noise
level continues to climb after I lower antenna below
25 degrees, aimed out over the hotel reception area
for moonset. I suspect that when my moonset is
later than 0400Z (when the reception area closes
down), my moonset will become quieter.
|WEDNESDAY MAY 8 (2nd moon pass).
Below is a photo of the antenna still tied down from the
first night's moonset. As you can see, I have to
beam over the hotel's Reception/Lobby/Breakfast area to
reach the lake. My antenna is about 70' above the
The second day of operation started out with lots of difficulty from the ionosphere. I was afraid my receiver or preamp was broken and tried a different receive setup without any improvement. I went back to the ARR preamp into the RTS Dongle, which gives me a wider and flatter bandpass. However, once the moon started getting high, things improved even though the Degradation was still above 5 dB all day.
to 50.183 greatly reduced the strongest birdies, and
by watering my short 23" ground rod twice today, most
of the 50 Hz hum birdies disappeared ;-) I still have
increased noise from lights after sunset, and
especially when I aim lower at the hotel reception
area on my moonset. Lots of thunderstorm activity
Stations worked today in order were UR0MC, K2ZD, OH2BC, EA8DBM, GD0TEP, N7IP, G3WOS, OH6MIK, K4PI, OZ4VV, G4BWP, G8VR, and NJ6P for a total of 29 so far.
Decoded but not worked today were YL2AO, OH3SR, OH7KM, EI3KD, W5ADD, ZL3NW, VK4MA, JG1TSG and JO1PSX. I will try to be on tmrw starting at moonrise, and hope the ionosphere behaves better to the east ;-) I also have some ground clutter and obstructions to the east, but we will see how things work at this azimuth. If I have internet, I will be on the ON4KST EME CHAT page.GL to all and hope to see you in the coming days.
|THURSDAY MAY 9 (3rd moon pass). Kp was
2 and the Degradation was down around 3 dB. The
high TEC area had shifted south, which really helped
with the propagation as I was tracking the moon across
through the north. I started right at moonrise,
although there do appear to be obstacles in the way. As
the days go by, the moonrises further to the south
(right) in the photo below:
Between the wall shown at the edge of the hotel property, and the 3 story brick building shown above, there is a vacant open lot about 40m wide. I was pleasantly surprised to have some ground gain on my moonrise as the moon moved above and to the north of the large building shown in the photo, despite all the other buildings and ground clutter further to the east! Stations worked in order were S51ZO, ZS4TX, KJ9I, ZS6NK, ON4AOI, VE1JF, ******, K6EME, SP4MPB, SP4MPB, UT7QF, S51DI, US0LW, OH7KM, F6BKI, UB7K, WG8Q, PA9RX, N6JV, YL2AO, OH3SR, OH5VY, W6UC, G4FUF, EI3KD, and VK4WTN. This brings the total contacts so far to 54. The smallest station award goes to EI3KD with his single 6 element yagi!
Decoded but not worked were NT0V, W8PAT, W7KNT, SP3RNZ, PA9RX, *****, S59Z, HA8FK, ZL3NW, N8JX, K7RWT and JG1TSG. Both PA9RX and ZL3NW SAW final RRR but did not decode them, so I am inclined to count them too, but will need to hear what they consider a good contact.
my moonset, my antenna looks out over the lake and my
inclinometer measures the horizon as -1.5
degrees. However, my antenna is only 70' above
the lake, and there is the hotel reception building on
the ground between the antenna and the lake. My
increased noise at night and beaming over top of the
reception building seems to make me heard much better
than I hear during my moonset.
GL to all and MNI TNX for the contacts from Bolivia! VY 73, Lance
|FRIDAY MAY 10 (4th moon pass).
Kp Index started at 1 and the Degradation was -1.9 dB
and ends around 1.0 dB. I started right at my moonrise,
although the moon was behind the brick building next
door. Signals did not start appearing until the
moon cleared the building around 9 degrees
elevation. I will still try again tomorrow at
moonrise, but it may be more realistic to expect signals
after I elevate to around 15 or 20 degrees.
addition to the building obstruction to the east, I
had unusual software problems and I think I also had
bad blockage by the high TEC to my east. I also had
many birdies on 50.183. I finally corrected my
software problem and moved to 50.175, which was much
clearer for me here today. I may try to go back to
50.183 tmrw - pse check on the ON4KST EME CHAT page
for my frequency. Toward the end of the moon pass, I
began to have success again. Today I completed with
(in order): IW5DHN, W7GJ, AJ7LL, KB7Q/7, W5ADD, LY2IJ,
W8IW, *****, W6XU, JS2CQA, W7KNT, N8JX, KA8SYV, and
JR2SQZ. That brings the total EME contacts so far to
68. Special thanks to KB7Q and AJ7LL for
activating my home station while I am down here ;-)
decoded me on my moonset until my moon was down to 1
degree. However, I unfortunately was not able to
copy many stations after dropping the antenna down to
the horizon. I think the high TEC to the west as well
as my moonset noise hurt me on moonset. We will see in
the coming days, because I think much of the noise
will go away in that direction at 0400Z.
decoded but not worked were: W6TOD, HA0DU, S59Z,
JR1LZK, JO1PSX, and JN1JFC. There was aurora at the
northern latitudes tonight, and hopefully that will
push the high TEC areas of the ionosphere further
south for tomorrow. That helps clear the way for me to
work the moon when I aim to the east ;-)
MNI TNX to everyone for your patience and I hope to complete with many of you in the coming days. VY 73, Lance
MAY 11 (5th moon pass). Although it was the
lowest Degradation of the month of -0.6, the Kp index
was 4, so cndx were unsettled. After the moon rose
above my building to the east, I completed with W9JN,
LZ2CC, *****, SP3RNZ, W9GA, W6TOD, K9VTG, G5WQ, S59Z,
HA0DU, W8PAT, *****, W8OI, K4JWA, ZL3NW and
VK4MA. That brings the total worked so far to
Decoded but not worked were KA9CFD, KX4R, N1DG, S59P, SM6LPF, N8GTI, OZ1DJJ, JR1LZK, JO1PSX, JN1JFC, VK3DUT and JG1TSG.
I had hoped that my noise would go down after 0400Z when the the hotel reception office (over which I have to beam during my moonset) closes, but they do leave some power on (like the wi-fi and a few lights) after they shut down. This night, my noise went up greatly after 0400Z, making it impossible to copy anyone. The hotel manager thinks it was perhaps noise generated by a guest's car, which had its alarm go off because of the severe storm. This was the biggest storm we have had so far, with high winds and hard rain all night, lightning and thunder and even hail on the ground in the morning. Depending on how it is during the next moonset, I may have to stop moonset operation below 20 degrees. However, I will try moonset again tonight and see if that severe noise was just a single event.
continue to look for me on 50.175, since that
frequency - at least so far - seems to be the clearest
frequency for me here. My next moonrise is at
1800Z Sunday, but I don't expect to begin being able
to see the moon until after 1830Z.
MNI TNX and GL! VY 73, Lance
|SUNDAY MAY 12 (6th moon pass).
Day started with Kp=0 and Degradation of
-0.7. Stations worked were N1DG, WA9LFO, KA9CFD, S59P,
HA9TM, N8DX, W3UUM, WT8V, KL7HBK, N2RVU, N7FZU, JA9SJI,
JO1PSX, and JG1TSG. Total worked so far is 98 stations.
Stations decoded but not worked were W8HC, N9IW, KX4R, IW5BPE, LA8AJA, F5LNU, N2TIN, VK5PJ, VK8MS and JE3GRQ.
expect to be on Monday and Tuesday from moonrise to
moonset, but perhaps will go QRT on EME then.
Will post info on the ON4KST EME CHAT page.
MONDAY MAY 13 (7th moon pass). Stations worked were W4TAA, SP7VC, LY2BAW, WA8WV, W8TN, K7KX, JN1JFC and KD7KPE. That brings the total 6m EME stations worked so far to 106.
Stations decoded but not worked were LZ2WO, LZ2DF, KX4R, W8HC, HA8CE, F5LNU, K7RWT, ZL7DX, JR1LZK and VK5PJ.
Tuesday May 14 will be my LAST FULL MOON PASS! This is the last chance for East Coast USA horizon-only stations to contact me if you still need CP on 6m! My moonrise is around 2000Z on Tuesday.
I will continue using 50.174 and will be transmitting in the first sequence JT65A. There is a chance I may be able to be on for one last moonrise on Wednesday, and I will announce that on the ON4KST EME CHAT page and on my CP1GJ web page.
GL and CU Tuesday! VY 73, Lance
MAY 14 (8th and final moon pass). The day
started out with a Degradation of 1.8 dB and a high Kp
index. I didn't have internet for the first 4 hours of
the moon pass, so I couldn't keep tabs on the
geomagnetic cndx too well. As the declination is going
south, the moonrise is more blocked by the mountain to
the east and southeast. My moonrise elevation
today was actually more around 10 degrees, and since I
have not ground gain that direction, I just started
with the beam elevated at 15 degrees. Not a really
functional solution, but it was about all I could do.
It also didn't help that there was quite an Es opening
taking place in NA and JA today. However, on EME I did
work N8GTI, K8RRT, K7CW, YU7EF, N2TIN, VK5PJ. The
final total 6m EME stations worked for sure was 111
in 30 DXCC.
By moonset, the Degradation was up to 2.7 dB. MNI TNX to everyone! Now I need to rest before taking down the station and packing everything for home! VY 73, Lance
|WEDNESDAY MAY 15. In the local
afternoon, I worked 18 stations on FT8 via the northern
equatorial buldge to KP4 and YV. Also had Es
links up the east coast to VE1 and W4 through W1
;-) Apparently, FT8 was too narrow bandwidth for
some of the multipath frequency spreading contributed by
my first hop using the equatorial buldge, and some
contacts failed apparently because of this.
|THURSDAY MAY 16. I called CQ for
6 hours with a kw on FT8 toward NA, without any
|FRIDAY MAY 17. The antenna was
taken down, and packed along with all the equipment.
|Saturday May 18. We went to Isla
del Sol to relax for a couple nights.
|Monday May 20. We return to
Copacabana, then on to La Paz.
| Tuesday May 21. Flight from
La Paz to Bogota to Houston to Denver to Missoula,
MT. Returned home after 31 hours of traveling, and
all our gear arrived home with us!
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
|111 6m EME contacts were made in 30 different
DXCC. An additional 23 stations were
copied on 6m EME but not worked.
On FT8, I worked 19 stations and added two more DXCC.