3D2LR in RH92cq
Nananu-I-Ra Island to the north of our
peninsula on the northern tip of Viti Levu
Results from the 2010 DXpedition were a total of 52 different stations contacted in 17 DXCC (20 EU, 29 NA, 2 OC, 1 AS), on 6m EME with 17 additional stations copied but not worked in an additional 6 DXCC ( 9 EU, 5 NA, 2 OC, 1 AS). Antenna was an M2 6M8GJ yagi, and radio was an Elecraft K3 with PR6 external preamp, operating JT65A mode with my laptop computer. Feedline was 50' of LMR-600UF 50 ohm coaxial cable with N connectors, for a total loss of under 0.5 dB. Elevation up to 65 degrees was by W7GJ manual elevation mount. Looking forward to seeing you 6m from the next rare place!
CONTRIBUTIONSIt is very costly to travel halfway around the world to activate a rare DXCC on EME. Contributions and sponsorship are greatly appreciated and gratefully acknowledged. Please refer to the QSL address below for contributions. PayPal contributions can be sent to w1jj <at> aol.com. Many thanks to the following for contributions and support that made this and future similar operations possible:
KJ9I KB7Q K7CW K2ZD G8BCG OZ4VV W7CE VE5UF SV8CS G4IGO UN8GC K4MM K2LZQ SM7AED SM7FJE VE1JF KH7Y GD0TEP ON4IQ G8VR, OH2BC, GM4WJA, K1WHS, VE3MMQ
Many thanks also to MMM on VHF for DXpedition updates, and to ON4KST for DXpeidition publicity on his 6m and EME chat pages.
You very well
might wonder, “Why in the world would anybody
go the opposite side of the world on a 6m DXpedition at a time of year
Es and at a time of the solar cycle with no chance of F2 propagation?” The answer, of course, is to take advantage
of the superb EME conditions afforded at this point in the low solar
cycle! If you are thinking about a trip,
as well go someplace VERY rare so you can hand out a new DXCC in
every contact. In order to provide sufficient
advance planning for stations wishing to contact me while I am in Fiji,
I provided plenty of advance notice of this DXpedition. I urge
you to gain
experience with JT65A and especially review the QSO PROCEDURE (below)
that I used most effectively on this operation. I look forward to
contacting you from the next spot!
I was QRV on 6m EME from European moonset on September 27 GMT to moonset in North America on October 7 GMT. That time period included the optimum days for 6m EME operation. On October 2, 3, and 4 I was QRV entirely from moonrise to moonset without breaks.
The QTH was "Sega Na Leqa Retreat", a small resort on the nothernmost point of Viti Levu Island near the town of Rakiraki, Fiji. The office phone number at Sega Na Leqa is (679) 669-4421. More information about Sega Na Leqa Retreat can be found on their FACEBOOK page. This turned out to be an ideal location for 6m operation, because we could not detect any signals from the local Channel 1 TV, which is primarily used in the southern part of the island. The prevailing trade winds off the ocean provided comforting breezes even on hot days, and also minimized the mosquitoes.
Once again, ZL1RS/3D2RS provided 2m EME operation from the same location during approximately the same period. Bob's results are on his web page. Thanks to MMM on VHF for posting daily updates, which Bob was able to provide via SMS from his cell phone. Web site updates were possible through the internet facilities at nearby Wananavu Beach Resort when they were open for outsiders to use their facilities.
6m equipment was essentially be the same as that used at E51SIX in spring of 2009. As you can see from reviewing the E51SIX TRIP REPORT from that operation, many contacts were made with single yagi horizon-only stations, and the same was true from 3D2LR. The smallest station contacted from E51 and 3D2 was N3CXV with a single 6M5X yagi. The transceiver again was a K3 with low noise PR6 receive preamplifier. The K3's flat, wide bandwidth is ideally suited to copying multiple JT65A mode callers spread out every 200 Hz from about -800 Hz to +800 Hz. During the first week, I experienced S9 powerline noise from the west on 6m, but the K3 noise blanker made EME possible! The antenna again was a 6M8GJ yagi fed with LMR600 low loss cable. I also took a 20m dipole to use for SSB liason via HF with 100w during periods when I was not busy with 6m operation, but the propagation was not very good.
We did not have internet capability. Occassional access to some internet for the purpose of providing status reports was possible. I operated much more than origninally planned, and was on starting during the first weekend of October, was on the air for four days from moonrise to moonset to take advantage of the optimum 6m EME conditions. I was QRV for every moonrise, and also for almost every moonset once cndx improved.
6M QSL INFORMATION
Please QSL direct with SASE (foreign stations include IRC or $USD for postage) direct to:
Lance Collister, W7GJ
Frenchtown, MT 59834-0073
NOTE: All QSL's for 3D2RS must be sent directly to ZL1RS at his QRZ.com address.
FREQUENCY AND SEQUENCEFor EME, I operated on 50.190 and transmitting in the first sequence JT65A mode.
QSO PROCEDURE AND
TIPS FOR THIS AND FUTURE OPERATIONS
JT65A mode will be used for all 6m EME operation, and 3D2 will always transmit in the FIRST SEQUENCE. The plan is to use 50.190 unless there is a problem with that frequency, in which case another frequency will be announced. Please see the ON4KST EME chat page and the MMM on VHF internet pages for last minute status updates. I always use the standard JT65A EME QSO procedure EXCEPT that I ask people who are copying something from me at that particular time to call me with calls and OOO reports rather than just callsigns. As usual, the contact is complete when one station receives final RRR. I urge home stations to send me 73 when they receive final RRR from me, so that I know I am free to move onto the next station. I will only send 73 if I have not already identified the next caller.
Much valuable moon time can be lost during EME DXpeditions by trying to answer stations who are not copying. That is the problem with EME between linearly polarized stations often being non-reciprocal. Typically, on ionospheric propagation, the rule is that stations not call unless they hear the DX station. However, on EME after hours and hours of not hearing any callers, the DX station may decide to shut down and get some sleep! It is always valuable to know that there are still stations out there trying to make a contact. So I always invite people who are QRV to call even if they are not copying me at that particular time. If they are not copying me, of course they will only send calls (JT65A standard message #1). However, if they ARE seeing a trace from me IN THE IMMEDIATELY PRECEEDING SEQUENCE, I ask that they call me with calls and OOO reports (JT65A standard message #2). If I can tell which station(s) are copying me at that moment, I should be able to complete the contact with them very quickly and move on to the next station. If they are no longer copying me at that time, it is ESSENTIAL TO REMEMBER TO CHANGE THE MESSAGE BACK TO CALLS ONLY!! I have outlined this procedure on my web page discussing tips for successful 6m EME DXpeditions:
I used this method very successfully on my operation from E51 in 2009 as well as 3D2 in 2010. Basically, I ask people who are receiving anything at that particular time (even if it is only a trace from me on the SpecJT waterfall without any decode), to call me and send me OOO with the calls. When I answer you, you should be able to decode me if you saw my signal trace on SpecJT. Of course this is not standard EME protocol, since a station cannot send reports before they have copied complete calls from someone ... However, in this case, it simply tells me they are receiving something. I will still reply with calls and OOO to such a caller, indicating which station is being called, and that complete calls have been copied. The advantage is that a station will be answered who can be worked quickly.
Remember that the polarity will probably not be reciprocal. I will keep trying to answer you even if you do not seem to be copying me, at least until I see someone calling who IS COPYING me right at that time (someone who is calling me with OOO). I will only call CQ when I am not decoding anybody.
Do NOT stop calling me when I am in QSO with someone else! That allows me to decode all the callers and select the next station to work while I am transmitting to the first station. And please, PLEASE do NOT change your frequency after you have started to call me - I make a list of the DF frequencies of the various callers and use that to "hone in" on them with a narrow FREEZE filter! If you move you will disappear for me :-( After a QSO is complete, I will call the next station but only if he was transmitting the period before. I will be moving the antenna by hand to track the moon, so I will have to leave the ham shack from time to time, and may have to stop transmitting during these periods. Please, do NOT stop calling if you see my signal stop! I can still see what was received when I get back to the operating position. Again, please do NOT move around in frequency! Choose a frequency to call on and stay there!
As the DX station, I expect only to be doing one of the following:
1. Calling CQ with mycallsign and grid. This will be sent only if I have not identified a caller. Sometimes, if I see a trace but have not decoded it yet, I will send QRZ. Either CQ or QRZ are easily decoded by anyone, with equal sensitivity.
2. Replying to someone by sending calls and OOO reports. This is very easily copied by the person involved in the contact, although other listeners may not decode the transmission unless signals are stronger than -24 or -25 dB. If my signal is weaker than that, other listeners will only see the trace on SpecJT, without any decode.
3. Sending final RRR to the person with whom I am completing a contact. Please send 73 after you receive my RRR so I know the contact is complete and I can go on to the next station or go back to calling CQ. As soon as I receive 73, I will either call the next station on the list or go back to CQ.
Here is an example of how this works in an EME pileup, using E51SIX as the DXpedition station:
In the above examples, notice that I always start out answering people who are seeing me. Valuable moon window time is not wasted replying to people who cannot copy me. NOTE: Callers may not actually be DECODING ME at that moment, but if they are SEEING my trace on SpecJT, they probably will copy me OK as soon as I reply to them. If I have to choose between two stations who apparently are currently copying me, I try to choose the one who has the least amount of moon time left or will try to give priority to callers who have a record of 6m EME DXpeditions or have made a contribution to this DXpedition. Obviously, during European moonset, I will give priority to stations in Europe. When I am finished working all the stations who have indicated they are seeing me, I will start replying to the other stations, until I find one who also is copying me. Even if there is no station clearly copying me, I will continue to reply to different callers until I get RO in reply. If I cannot see any caller, I will call CQ.
If a station calls me with OOO reports to indicate he is copying me, he better be telling the truth! If I reply with calls and OOO reports to him, and he does not reply with RO, he goes to the bottom of my list. I will try to work all other callers and will only call him if there are no other callers seen.
Of course, for this to work best, all the callers need to SPREAD OUT so they don't QRM each other. With the K3, I have a very nice flat bandpass, and can copy callers from -800 to +800 Hz. Please spread out and leave 200 Hz between you and other callers. I will not have internet, so I cannot ask you to move - please coordinate this among yourseves. Fortunately, most modern home stations have the luxury of an internet connection so they can use the ON4KST EME CHAT page to coordinate among themselves to spread out.
Please do not try to contact me multiple times. The windows will be very short - especially with EU - and I want to be able to concentrate as much as possible on completing with new stations. I hope to be able to provide a list of contacts from time to time, as I can find access to the internet. Watch the comments section of the MMM on VHF page for updates.
|Beam headings from QTH
View toward south with Sega Na Leqa Retreat in the center right, by the bay inlet:
View from ham shack toward northeast at sunrise:
View to the east:
3D2RS/ZL1RS (holding the station mascot, Bradley) and 3D2LR/W7GJ by ham shack:
By the end of the trip, high elevation was required for the North American moonsets.
The antenna stowed on the horizon facing to the northeast into the trade winds:
3D2LR DETAILED FIELD UPDATES
Sat Sep 25 1730Z - Four bags checked to Fiji (including 6M8GJ). Waiting in the boarding area at the airport for plane to leave from Missoula, MT to Salt Lake City, UT.
1930Z - Arrived in Salt Lake City, and waiting for flight to Los Angeles.
2330Z - Sitting in Los Angeles LAX airport awaiting flight to Fiji.
Mon Sep 26 1630Z - Arrived early at Nadi. All baggage received in good shape, and customs went smoothly and quickly. 1745Z - Left Nandi airport as sunrise for 2.5 hour taxi ride to Sega Na Leqa NE of Rakiraki. Arrived Sega Na Leqa at 2115Z
Tue Sep 27 Assembled 6m antenna, put up 20 m dipole. All equipment is funtioning as expedcted. However, there is very bad line noise. It has been unseasonably windy and dry for the last 5 months here. It did rain briefly tonight before moonrise, but there is still line noise. There are big toads everywhere on the grass when it gets dardk here, but there is a refreshing breeze off the ocean, so it is not as hot as even just a few hundred yards inland. On my first moonrise, I completed with ON4GG (-22 dB), ON4IQ (-20 dB), W7CE (-21 dB) and OZ4VV (-27 dB) . I also copied PE1BTX at -26 dB but he ran out of moon.
Got up for my moonset starting at 30 degrees elevation. There is S8 line noise here now :-( I can take it down to S2 or S3 with the noise blanker, but it is still very strong. I thought I completed at 1922Z with IW5DHN (-24 dB), but he kept calling me with OOO reports, so I guess the multiple RO I kept receiving were not from him, but instead from his SYNC trace lining up with another caller's near the frequency. PLEASE COORDINATE YOUR FREQENCIES ON THE ON4KST EME CHAT PAGE AND SPREAD OUT!!! I can see callers up 1000Hz and down 800 Hz...so far everybody is much closer to my freq. I copied but did not work IW5DHN again (-22), OK1RD (-27 dB), PE1BTX (-28 dB), G5WQ (sending me calls and OOO at -27 dB, but he did not come back to me when I replied to him), and OK1RD (-27 dB) ,
Tue Sep 28 On my moonrise, I worked K2ZD (-26 dB), NN7J (-24 dB), K6MYC (-20 dB) and copied but did not work F6FHP (-19 dB) .
On my moonset I worked SM7FJE (-23 dB), ES6RQ (-24 dB), and GD0TEP (-21 dB). I copied but did not work G5WQ (-19 dB), OK1RD (-23 dB) and ZL3TY (-26 dB). QSB was very fast today - G5WQ went from -19 to nil in one sequence.
Wed Sep 29 On my moonrise, I worked only OH2BC (-24 dB), but I also copied F6FHP (-24 dB) and OH6MIK (-30 dB).
On my moonset, I worked PE1BTX (-16 dB), OK1RD (-24 dB) and G5WQ (-22 dB) - all three contacts were when I had ground gain. When the moon was higher, I copied JR6EXN and SM7AED but did not complete with them. The QRN was terrible at this end, and it seems to be coming from a power line west of the QTH.
Thu Sep 30 On my moonrise, I worked G4IGO (-28 dB) and PA2CHR (-22 dB). I copied F6FHP (-21) and CT1HZE (-28 dB).
On my moonset, I worked SM7AED (-26 dB), JR6EXN (-25 dB), IW6DHN (-24 dB), ZL3NW (-26 dB), and I copied but did not complete with G3WOS (-26 dB) . I had horrendous line noise on both moonrise and moonset, and often had to position the antenna off the moon so I could try to find a null in the noise.
Fri Oct 1 On moonrise I worked OH6MIK ( -29 dB) and CT1HZE (-22 dB). I copied F6FHP (-27 dB) but still did not complete. Line noise was there on my moonrise, but bearable while I am on the horizon. When I elevate, it goes up over 6 dB. I shut down at 16 degrees elevation.
On moonset, I called CQ for over 2.5 before receiving any decodes. After I lowered the antenna to the horizon I copied my only sequence of the day, PA3HP (-27 dB) when my moon was just under 16 degrees elevation and antenna was offset a few degrees north of the moon to null out the line noise. In over 3 hours of calling CQ this day, I did not complete with anyone.
Sat Oct 2 I was QRV from moonrise to moonset, to take advantage of the improving Degradation and the EME contest activity. Today I worked G3WOS (-29 dB), G8BCG (-29 dB), GM4WJA (-25 dB), W6JKV (-25 dB), K7XQ (-25 dB), N3CXV (-27 dB), VE3MMQ (-25 dB), KJ9I (-26 dB), W7MEM (-27 dB), K7CW (-23 dB), and W7IUV (-25 dB).
Stations copied but not worked were N6RMJ (-25 dB), UN8GC (-27 dB), W9RM (-26 dB), N8JX (-24 dB), KH7Y (-28 dB), and LZ2WO (-26 dB).
Sun Oct 3 On moonset, I copied but did not complete with DX#XX (-25 dB) and 9H1PA (-22 dB). So far on this trip, I have completed EME contacts with 33 stations, and the best conditions are still to come in the next few days!
This is the second day in a row of full time operating from moonrise to moonset without breaks. On moonrise, I worked G8VR (-22 dB) and copied W7CE (-22 dB) MM0AMW (-22 dB) and G4BWP (-24 dB). After I was elevated, I worked K6QXY at the 6m BBQ (W6JKV's station and grid).
Other stations copied but not worked were VK7JG (-25 dB), WA4NJP, N5DG (-22 dB), N8JX (-26 dB), NR0X (-27 dB), W5UWB (-21 dB) and N6RMJ.
Mon Oct 4 On moonset I worked only KH7Y (-23 dB). I copied LZ2WO (-24 dB), 9H1PA (-25 dB), 9H1BT (-28 dB) and G4BWP (-28 dB).
My first moonrise without line noise - and the lowest Degradation of the trip! The best CNDX so far. I saw great echoes from myself, as well as N6RMJ (-17 dB) calling W7MEM up 780 Hz but nobody answering my CQ. That is the strongest I have copied anybody to this point. My own echoes were strongest when the moon was 12 degrees high. After I lost ground gain and began to elevate at 16 degrees, I was very pleased that N6RMJ called me and we completed for my contact #37. I called VK7JG (-20 dB) with OOO reports for 35 sequences, but he never copied me. I continued to be QRV as the moon was setting on the East Coast. Still no line noise, and I was seeing my own echoes even while elevated. However, no eastern NA stations were copied, and the Degradation passed optimum as the moon set there.
During moonset in the central USA, I worked W5UWB (-20 dB) but the polarity seemed VERY slow. The cross polarity prevented contacts with N8JX (-28 dB), N5DG (-23 dB), NR0X (-23 dB), and K7MAC (-23 dB), all of whom had very steady signals here. During west coast USA moonset, I had a power glitch during a transmit sequence, but all the equipment came back on and still worked ;-) worked only N7NW (-27 dB).
Tue Oct 5 I had bad line noise again to the west during moonset, and only managed to copy LZ2WO (-26 dB), OZ1ILO (-26 dB), 9H1PA (-24 dB) and 9H1BT (-22 dB) but did not complete any contacts. I may be unable to continue to operate moonset in the coming days. After a third full day of operating moonrise to moonset, I was unable to complete any contacts after NA moonset. If I do try to operate on moonset in the coming days, I will go QRX after NA moonset, and only come on during moonset when my moon is between 18 and 7 degrees elevation.
This was the first moonrise that we could not see the moon. It was lightly sprinkling this morning. Usually, moonrise is the best direction, and I sometimes see signals as low as 4 degrees elevation. However, this morning, I nervously watched as the moon rose without any signals appearing. I knew the receiver still worked, because I was hearing line noise without the NB on. Finally, at 17 degrees I began elevating and at 18 degrees, the moon broke through the clouds and I could see I was pointed right at it. Then we lost power for a few minutes during a transmit sequence, but all the equipment survived the outage. Still, no signals heard until 2.5 hours after moonrise, when I completed with home station W7GJ (-23 dB), folllowed in rapid succession by KB7Q/7 (-21 dB), AJ7LL/7 (-21 dB), W1JJ (-21 dB). K1WHS (-16 dB) was the strongest station of the trip at -0.5 degrees elevation - what a horizon! Again today, I copied VK7JG (-23 dB) but could not seem to complete with him.
I was again unable to complete with anyone during the Midwest NA moonset. I copied NR0X (-24 dB), N8JX (-29 dB), and W9JN (-26 dB). And then we had a power outage for several hours, so I missed moonset in the western USA.
Wed Oct 6 I did run again during moonset, although the line noise is VERY bad in that direction. I have to use full IF and DSP noise blankers in that direction, which I suspect greatly reduces my ability to receive any weak JT65A signals. The direction for moonset becomes worse each day, and October 7 will be the last day I try any operation after NA moonset. During my moonset today I could not copy anyone.
Just before sunrise, when the moon rose to 6.5 degrees elevation, I spotted two faint traces of callers, but could not decode them until 9.6 degrees, when one turned out to be VE5UF (-27 dB), which was the first QSO of the day! I never did decode the other station before I had to elevate and lose ground gain. After passing out of the ground gain window, we took down the antenna, and I removed a bolt from the elevation mount, which I think should permit another 10 degrees of elevation for the Midwest NA moonset today. Upon returning to the moon, I decoded VK7JG (-25 dB) calling again during his moonrise, but we were not successful.
It appears that getting an extra 10 degrees from the elevation mount was worth the effort! During the NA moonset, with the antenna elevated as high as it would go, I worked N8JX (-23 dB) and W9RM (-24 dB) and copied NR0X (-31), N5DG (-27 dB) and N0KE (-27 dB). For some reason, all week long, I have only been able to decode N5DG in the AVERAGE without any good straight decodes, suggesting that something is amiss somewhere...
Thu Oct 7 On moonset the line noise prevented reception of any stations.
On moonrise, when the moon rose to 5.8 degrees, I was surprised to work K1DAM (-22 dB) for contact #47. The degredation had risen to -2.8 but there was very little noise out to the east, and I was seeing my own echoes. I also worked N2TIN (-21) and the sun must have been very quiet because the noise was very low, even though it was new moon. After I elevated, I completed with W1VHF (-20 dB) and continued to see my own echoes.
After over an hour of sending reports to WA4NJP (-24 dB), we completed just as K4RX (-20 dB) began calling within 10 Hz of the same frequency. This was the only time during the trip that there was some confusion about which station was which. However, Terry moved up 200 Hz, and we completed after he moved for my contact #51 and I repositioned the antenna. My antenna was up at its maximum elevation (around 65 degrees) at that point, and the moon was still climbing higher. I quickly moved the antenna around the guy ropes so it was ready for the rest of NA moonset in the northerly direction at maximum elevation.
Fri Oct 8 During the West Coast NA moonset, I copied N7NW (-26) but was unable to complete. Even by the time of his moonset, the moon for me was still 10 degrees higher than the highest I could elevate. After moonset at N7NW, I took down the antenna in extremely high wind, but it was a very smooth operation.using the "Falling Derrick" as described on my website at:
There also is a short movie of the antenna lowering at:
We had another power outage for 5 hours Saturday morning local time, but it did not interfere with doing the final station dismantling and packing.
Sat Oct 9 Early hours October 9 UTC was mid afternoon local time in Fiji, and we headed off on the 3 hour taxi ride to the Nandi airport for our late evening flight back to Los Angeles. Many thanks to all who made the DXpedition such a success! I am looking forward to contacting you again from the next rare place!