Indian Ocean 6m EME DXpedition



Planned VK9 EME Operating Schedules in EXCEL format is HERE
(just select the appropriate sheet in the above workbook)

Planned VK9CGJ EME Operating Schedules in .pdf format is HERE
Planned VK9XGJ EME Operating Schedules in .pdf format is HERE
VK9CGJ in NH87jt

West Island, Cocos/Keeling, Australia

(CQ DX Zone 29, IOTA OC-003)

September 12-30, 2017

VK9CGJ antenna location (marked by yellow asterisk) at 56' asl

VK9XGJ in OH29un

Christmas Island, Australia

(CQ DX Zone 29, IOTA OC-002)

October 1-21, 2017

VK9XGJ antenna location (marked by yellow asterisk) at 1060' asl






INTRODUCTION

This DXpedition will be one of the most expensive and lengthy dedicated 6m EME DXpeditions in which I have been involved.   Not only is it a long, expensive journey to get there, but both these DXCC are also very expensive places to stay.  And in order to activate both DXCC during optimum times of the month for EME, the trip had to be stretched out over more than 6 weeks.  But it is worth it to go someplace VERY rare so you can hand out a new DXCC with virtually every half million mile contact!

In order to provide sufficient advance planning for stations wishing to contact me while I am overseas, I am providing plenty of advance notice of this DXpedition.   I urge you to gain experience with JT65A and especially review the QSO PROCEDURE that I use most effectively on these DXpeditions.  I look forward to contacting you on 6m!

As you know, a good location can mean everything to the success of one of these DXpeditions.   For more insight into the steps I take for 6m EME DXpeditions, I have an updated paper HERE.

I hope you will make the effort to look for me from both these rare DXCC!


LOGISTICS

Because of the lengthy plane flights, in addition to the layovers waiting to connect with non-daily flights, plus all the time required to assemble and tear down the station and antenna at each location, as well as days of high Degradation during the trip, there unfortunately are some extra days required in which there won't be any 6m EME activity.  As a result, I do not expect to be able to be QRV during the entire periods.  This unusually long DXpedition was structured to include the days of lowest Degradation during both September and October, which provide the best common moon windows with horizon-only stations.   In addition, the extra days of operation will hopefully provide adequate opportunities for contacts even if there are some periods of geomagnetic activity and/or high TEC during certain moonrise/moonset windows.  The remoteness of both these locations also causes the common moon windows with  NA to be relatively short.  However, these operations DO include the lowest Degradation days of the month, plus good common moon many days with all of EU, so I hope to provide enough opportunity for people who are serious about contacting those DXCC on 6m EME.

A special request to EU stations - Please try to contact me OUTSIDE of my common moon window with NA.  Those windows are very short and will be crowded with callers, while the common moon with EU is quite long.  Thank you very much for your kind consideration!

I will be leaving home on Friday September 8 and hope to be QRV from VK9CGJ by September 14 or 15.  I will not be QRV after September 28, as I will have to dismantle and pack to leave on Saturday September 30.  I am not planning to be active on EME after September 25 because of the increasing Degradation.  
I anticipate a clear horizon on moonrise, although I will not be high above the ocean.  Therefore, I expect my ground gain lobe on moonrise to start around 7 degrees and go up to about 12 degrees, but I will be on earlier in the hope that there may be a lower lobe.  The directions with the clearest terrain appear to be north of 75 degrees azimuth on moonrise and north of 285 degrees azimuth on moonset.   It appears that the possibility of a lower ground gain lobe may change as the azimuth for moonrise and moonset change, so please watch for me above -2 degrees elevation - I will be on trying to see if I might have a good low lobe.  Eastern NA will probably have to contact me during my moonset.  Although I am optimistic about my site, there may be some low buildings toward moonset at some declinations.   I will know more for sure after the site is examined and the antenna is installed.   My recommendation is for NA stations to try to work me when my moon is as high as possible above the horizon, although I understand that for most NA stations, the moon will be very close to the horizon..   

I am flying from Cocos/Keeling to Christmas Island on Saturday, September 30.   The first week of October is a very busy time of celebration on Christmas Island, but I hope to be able to set up at the primary operating site 1000' above the ocean on October 2 and be QRV by October 3 GMT.   I plan to be QRV during the first ARRL International EME Contest weekend over October 7-8, even though Degradation is relatively high that weekend and conditions are not that favorable for 6m EME.  Despite some low structures in the near vicinity to the east and northeast, I hope to be able to look over them and have a good view out over the ocean on moonrise, with at least a couple good sharp lobes very low on moonrise.   I am again guessing the main ground gain lobe to be between 7 and 12 degrees elevation but we won't really know for sure until the first moonpass.   I am not as sure about the shot I will have during moonsets, but I am cautiously optimistic that I will have some good low lobes that direction too.   I will be approximately 2 km southeast of the VK9XI HF DXpedition, and am hoping that is far enough removed so we are out of each other's hair.   I do not expect to be QRV past October 18, since I will have to dismantle the station and pack up to depart on October 21, to return home on Monday evening, October 23. 



EQUIPMENT

The plans for the 6m station are essentially the same as used at T8GJ and V6M last year, although I have had to trim back the weight somewhat due to the more restrictive carry-on limits on these airlines.   I intend to use a Yaesu 857 with my Mirage KP-1/6 external preamp, and an M2 6M1K2 amplifier.  This year I will be using a single Meanwell RSP-3000-48 220 VAC switching power supply (since I will definitely have 230 VAC at both islands) for the 50 VDC required by the amplifier, and the PowerWerx SS-30DV 110/220 VAC switching power supply to provide 12 VDC for the transceiver and preamplifier.  The 50 VDC from the power supplies is connected to the 6M1K2 amplifier via a twisted pair of #8 stranded copper wire cables, attached to the #10 pigtails coming out of the amp using a 50A battery cable connector (NAPA #740234, like a really big Anderson Power Pole connector).  

A RIGblaster Plug & Play interface will be be used with my HP Windows 10 laptop computer to operate JT65A for EME mode from WSJT10.  At this time, I plan to use JT65A mode in the WSJT10 Version 6088 (or more recent) program release:  http://www.physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/K1JT/WSJT-10.0-r6088-Win32.exe
  I have found it to be just as sensitive as WSJT-X on JT65A, and it uses less screen and CPU processing, which is important with an old laptop.   HOWEVER,  I very well may use some modes such as MSK144 in WSJT-X for terrestrial contacts. 

The antenna again is my 6M8GJ yagi with
my home-made manual elevation mount and fed with 110' of low loss LMR600 low loss cable (for a total feedline loss of under .75 dB).  I usually try to use only 75' of LMR600, but it appears that trees close to the building at VK9C will require this extra length.  So, I have already prepared the coax and have jettisoned some of the usual grounding hardware to help offset the extra coax weight. 

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!  This is especially true with NA stations, since there may be many situations in which we should both have ground gain at the same time! 


EME OPERATING SCHEDULES/PROCEDURE

Operating 6m EME from a location in the TEP Zone is tough because there is almost always high ionization (TEC) around you during the daytime and evening.    My best success has always been operating in the middle of the night, when there is little ionospheric activity to interfere with the moon-bound signals.   Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to have both moonset and moonrise during the middle of the night, so some compromises have to be made.  Fortunately, when the antenna is elevated, the local high TEC becomes less of a factor, which helps.   However, when operating near the equator, the moon can be quite high in the sky - higher than it is possible to elevate a single yagi.  Geomagnetic disturbances with high Kp also can interfere with the 6m EME signals headed to and from the moon.  I have tried to schedule enough operating time to provide for favorable opportunities for the most stations possible during conditions that are good for EME.  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 moonsets and moonrises as published on the above operating schedules.   Please watch the ON4KST EME CHAT page and/or the DX Cluster for updates on what people are copying and when. 

Please keep calling me even if you see 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.  Closer spacing than that can cause false decodes on the "shorthand" two tone messages of RO, and 73.   I try to decode all callers every receive sequence, and I make a note of each caller and their DF so I can reply to you as soon as I am able, and will
use that DF to identify you later if you are copying me (by sending me 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.   Please understand that I will be watching your DF for partial decodes showing "#", indicating that you are copying me at that time, and I will know which caller to answer by referring to my list of DF's from previously decoded calls.  

Because I am so far away, the only possibility for eastern NA is during my moonset, and the only possibility for western NA is on my moonrise.   Please refer to the posted planned operating schedules.   If you think that you will not be able to be QRV for any of the times shown on the operating schedule, or are concerned that you think I may not be QRV during your only moon windows, please send me an email and I will try to make a special effort to watch for you.  However, remember that I will have trouble elevating over 60 degrees elevation, so please try to work me when my moon is lower than that..   I know there also are a number of new stations planning to come onto 6m EME in the coming months - please make sure that I have your callsigns and grid squares in my CALL3.txt file so I don't disregard your call as a false decode!

Please note that the above planned operating schedules are subject to change.  However, I am planning to operate from moonrise to moonset for 3 days from each DXCC during the 3 days of lowest Degradation.   This hopefully will provide enough opportunity even for stations who are not in EU or NA.  Please note that the days of lowest Degradation will also be over a weekend while I am in both DXCC, so I am providing activity at a time when I hope most stations can be active.  Even though 6m EME conditions are not ideal, I also plan to be QRV from moonrise to moonset from VK9XGJ during the first weekend of the ARRL EME Contest. 

REMINDER TO ALL STATIONS:  I am using a single yagi, and it can be elevated only to a maximum elevation of 60 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.  I 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 -
if at all possible - during the trip when my moon is lower than 45 degrees elevation!  I have included these guidelines on the operating schedule sheets.   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 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!

In the proposed operating schedules, I have indicated times when the elevation is over 50 degrees by marking the time periods with dotted 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 is calling during those periods, or if I have already worked stations whose moon is on the horizon during those periods.  In the operating schedules, I also have shown times when the moon is over 70 degrees -  I do NOT plan to be QRV at those times.

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 50.190 and I will try to stick to the published schedules as closely as I can.

 



TERRESTRIAL OPERATION

If you copy me via terrestrial propagation while I am working EME, please feel free to call me on JT65A mode if the moon is NOT visible to North America.   With the very short common moon window with NA, I cannot afford to take time out from EME to make terrestrial contacts.   Because it is inconvenient for me to switch programs and modes, and creates a loss of critical on the air time, please call me in the same mode that I am operating at the time.   All my EME operation is in JT65A mode, and I will always be operating in the first sequence.   Outside of EME operating times , I may be found on 50.110 on either SSB or CW, or MSK144 on 50.260.  If you copy me on some terrestrial mode, please spot my frequency and transmission mode, so other stations will be aware of my activity.  
 


CONTACT INFORMATION

Please share any updates regarding my EME activity with others on the ON4KST EME CHAT page and on the Magic Band EME email list.  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 - the common moon windows  are very limited, and many stations are expected to be calling.   In order to avoid confusion and save time, please use the standard W7GJ DXpedition procedures and STANDARD JT65A messages!

I hope to be able to have occasional access to the internet from someplace in each DXCC.   Therefore, I am planning to post updates to this web page and to the Magic Band EME email group.
  

During the DXpedition, SM7FJE will be re-posting current daily updates (that I send to the Magic Band EME email group regarding my status and stations worked) on a separate page HERE.


QSL INFORMATION
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
P.O.Box 73
Frenchtown, MT   59834-0073
USA


FREQUENCY AND SEQUENCE
For EME, I plan to operate on 50.190 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 (although I anticipate that both locations will be extremely quiet)!  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 quick contact - as long as the moon is not up for North American stations!  It is very inconvenient for me to switch modes while I am calling CQ or working EME stations on JT65A mode during my limited moon windows, so please do not call me on CW or SSB and expect me to switch over to answer you using some other mode.   When I am not aimed up at the moon, I very well may be on CW or SSB, or MSK144 mode.


CONTRIBUTIONS
I don't have to tell you how expensive it is to haul a 6m EME station halfway around the world to these expensive  locations - and the excess baggage charges alone are staggering, especially since I am no longer taking my little KX3!  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.  And unfortunately, to be able to include the days of the lowest Degradation while in each DXCC, this trip has to be unusually long.   Which means incredibly expensive lodging costs to go along with the very expensive travel expenses to get halfway around the world!  I expect this to be the most expensive 6m EME DXpedition so far :-(  Although I always keep my costs as low as possible, my travel and lodging costs will be extraordinarily high for this trip to activate both these rare DXCC.  Therefore, any contributions toward the DXpedition are greatly appreciated!  If you would like to contribute, please send your check of support to my QRZ.com mailing address, or contribute directly via PayPal to my email address (which is my current PayPal account) as listed on QRZ.com.  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 toward the expenses.   I have the time and equipment to go more often than once a year to activate new rare DXCC, but I just don't have the finances available to pull off more than one of these annually. 

-Most of the big expenses (lodging, air travel, and car rental to get to the operating site) have to be pre-paid, so special thanks to those providing support before the operation!  Many thanks to the following hams who have already very generously contributed to the success of this DXpedition:

  SM7FJE, K2ZD, K7CW, SP4MPB, YU7EF, EA8DBM, GD0TEP, ZL3NW, K4RX, SP3RNZ, G8BCG, ZS4TX, ON4IQ, N4II, NJ6P, G8VR, N7IP, K6QXY, W6XU, VK3GA, KJ9I, OH2BC, KG7H, S51DI, OH7KM, SM5AQD, F6BKI, OA4TT, W5ADD, SMIRK, W8PAT, N8GTI, K7RWT        

MNI MNI TNX for your continued support!!

                                                                    
M2 Antenna
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PHOTOS AND UPDATES






      















SUMMARY OF RESULTS

VK9CGJ
VK9XGJ

     


This page last revised on June 11,  2017