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 for EME and especially review the QSO PROCEDURE that I use most effectively on these DXpeditions.  Note that you MUST USE JT65A FROM WSJT because only the JT65A in WSJT has the two tone "shorthand messages" that I will be using for RO, RRR and 73!  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 these 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 more southerly 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 UTC.   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 after a required overnight layover in Perth. 



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 the international airlines involved this year.   I intend to use a Yaesu 857 (modified to drive my amplifier, as shown here) 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).  

I purchased an ARR MSP50VDG RF-switched preamp that I modified to provide a separate preamp output. This output can then drive my new USB
RTL Dongle (NooElec NESDR SMArt - Premium RTL-SDR w/ Aluminum Enclosure 0.5PPM TCXO) which is used with Virtual Audio Cable and SDR-Console to provide another receiver option.  A small 50 MHz bandpass filter from Down East Microwave is used ahead of the RTL Dongle to prevent overload from out of band signals.  I also acquired a new faster laptop with a much larger display screen to allow me to have more windows visible at the same time and enable me to view the larger windows in WSJT-X when that becomes a viable option for EME.
 
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 program release.  
  I have found it to be just as sensitive as WSJT-X on JT65A, and it uses less screen and CPU processing.   HOWEVER,  I very well may use WSJT-X modes such as FT8 or JT9H 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 also change sound card settings when changing from WSJT10 to WSJT-X), 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 SSB,  or the 15 second "fast" modes FT8 or JT9H (both from the WSJT-X  Version 1.8-rc2 program).  As with EME, I will always transmit during the first sequence, and if the mode permits, I will be using the faster "Contest Mode", exchanging just calls and grid locators.  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!  Please see the "Terrestrial Operation" section above for more information.


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 during the optimum days of the month for 6m EME from both 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:

  KB7Q, AJ7LL, 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, LZ2CC, N3XX, NH6Y, S57RR, W6SR, LZ2DF, GM3POI, Down East Microwave , LY2IJ, LZ2WO, VK3PP, OK1RD, NY2NY, OZ4VV, JG1TSG, K6EME, G3WOS, N8RR, W9GA, G5WQ, S59A, UR0MC, DK8NE, DL8YHR, SP7VC, YL2AO, WW2DX, K6IJ, HA0DU, K4PI, KA1R                      

MNI MNI TNX for your continued support!!

            
http://www.advancedreceiver.com/101.gif         M2 Antenna
                                        Systems, Inc            The DX Shop                                                                           

PHOTOS AND UPDATES


Friday September 8

Left Missoula, MT in the morning and flew to Seattle, WA. Then flew from Seattle to San Francisco.  Waited about 7 hours in San Francisco for our flight to Sydney just before midnight.

Saturday September 9

Flew all day to Sydney, Australia


Sunday September 10

Arrived in Sydney in the morning, waited 6 hours for our flight to Perth.  Arrived in the evening in Perth, where we waited for the next flight to Cocos/Keeling (on Tuesday).  I think we figured it took us something like 44 hours travel time from Missoula to Perth, and we still weren't at the final destination yet!


Monday September 11

We spent about 4 or 5 hours traveling to and touring the Caversham Wildlife Park. Great time seeing many kinds of indigenous birds and mammals, all new for us of course. Then had a delightful dinner with friends of friends.


Tuesday September 12

After breakfast at the hotel in Perth, we walked across the street to take photos of a black swan nest in the pond next to the Swan River.  Then we checked out, got a taxi to the airport and waited for our flight to Cocos/Keeling.  Since we had to fly via Christmas Island, we didn't get in until late afternoon.  We had a nice dinner before retiring early (I still can't figure out what time my body is on).  By the way, the operating schedule that has been appearing on my website has the wrong local times for VK9C.  We are now 6.5 hours ahead of GMT, not 7 as shown (and as Christmas Island, further east).  So if any of you are wondering what our local time is here, it is the same strange time zone as Yangon.


Wednesday September 13

I got up an hour before sunrise to start work on the antenna siting and assembly. VK4KJJ, who was over here visiting his son, came by for a few hours and helped me align the elements. By 3:30 pm local time, the antenna was up and cabled.

Then I started setting up all the equipment in the house. After dark, I was ready for a test, but the SWR was too high to operate the amp and something was wrong with the antenna.


Thursday September 14

Again up before dawn checking connectors and then dropping the antenna down for closer inspection.  The first thing I checked was in fact the problem ;-)  I was too distracted chatting with VK4KJJ during the antenna assembly, and was too sleep deprived and tired, and had made the error of inserting a GRAY color coded element tip into the Driven Element instead of a WHITE color code one.  So half the DE was the wrong length. This was in spite of the fact that I had even written "GREY" on the proper element extension and "DE" on the other, anticipating how they might be mixed up.  Oh well, just need to muster more attention during assembly!

Anyway, I quickly found the problem, switched the elements and raised the antenna and was in operation by 9:30 am. Fortunately, the moon was still up around 40 degrees in the western sky, so I was able to give it a try on EME. Despite the Degradation of over 5 dB, I completed contacts with S59A, UR0MC, F6BKI, ZS6NK,ZS4TX, K2ZD and S51V. The contact with K2ZD was a "6M FIRST" from USA to VK9C.

I also copied S57RR, OH7KM, LZ2WO, and sent OOO reports for a half hour to KJ9I, who peaked here at -22 dB while his moon was still below the horizon there. Before going to bed early to get some napping in before moonrise, we had a very nice dinner out under the stars at a small cafe ;-)  Then tried to catch a few hours' sleep before getting up at 1 am for moonrise.

I will be on 50.190 again tomorrow in the first sequence JT65A when my moon rises, and am looking forward to the improving Degradation.  Please be sure to read the procedure and information on my DXpedition website, and use the ON4KST EME CHAT page to coordinate your calling frequencies so you don't end up on top of somebody else!      
Friday September 15

The weather before dawn was cloudless and clear - perfect for visual aiming of the antenna ;-)  Today I worked an additional 23 stations, bringing the total to 30 after the first full moon pass today.

In order, the new stations worked were: N7IP, W6XU, W7GJ, KB7Q/7, K6EME, JG2BRI, NJ6P, ES6RQ, US0LW, UT7QF, SM7FJE, GM3POI, OZ4VV, ZL3NW, ON4GG, ON4IQ, EA8DBM, JG1TSG, G8BCG, OH7KM, S57RR, G5WQ, and OK1RD.

Also copied today but not worked yet were these 16 stations: W5ADD, W7JW, KG7H, K5DOG, K7RWT, W9GA, AJ7LL/7, W7EW, OH6MIK, S51ZO, GD0TEP, FK8CP, F5LNU, G3WOS, JA7QVI and KJ9I.

Windows with NA are very limited, but my main ground gain lobe lines up with moonrise in the NE USA.  I was surprised that there were no W1, W2 or W3 stations interested in working a rare DXCC during their moonrise.  Maybe they are waiting for the better cndx this weekend... 6m EME cndx were very bad today, with the degradation above 3.5 dB and the Kp hovering around 5 all day. The result was very erratic polarizatiion and QSB.  Hopefully this weekend will be better!

I will be on again in the morning for my moonrise.  The full operating schedule is here:

http://www.bigskyspaces.com/w7gj/VK9%20Schedule.xls

There are also pdf copies of the schedules for both VK9CGJ and VK9XGJ on my DXpedition web page:

http://www.bigskyspaces.com/w7gj/Indian%20Ocean%202017.htm

I also updated the above planned operating schedule on my DXpedition website, to correctly reflect the local times here in Cocos (6.5 hours ahead of GMT, in the same time zone as Yangon, Myanmar).  The 7 hour difference from GMT shown for Christmas Island is correct.
 
We had a delightful dinner with Vk4KJJ, his son and family at their home here in Cocos.  We were treated to some barbecued beef with local coconut honey glaze.  It rained on and off throughout the evening.
Saturday September 16

This was the second moonrise and second complete moon pass. The sky was clear at moonrise this morning and that made for great visual aiming, at least until the afternoon clouds rolled in.  With the waning moon, daytime visual tracking is going to be difficult for the next week, even if there are no clouds.  However, I feel confident I can come close enough with the manual indicators I have for azimuth and elevation.

Today the Degradation was around 2 dB, which was great!  HOWEVER, the Kp index was between 5 and 6, which is ABSOLUTEY HORRIBLE for EME   The forecast is for this geomagnetic disturbance to start subsiding tonight, which would be REALLY a wonderful thing for EME tomorrow!

In spite of the terrible conditions today, I managed to add 18 more stations to the 6m EME log, bringing the total so far to 48.  New stations worked today were: KG7H, W7KNT,  N9IW, KJ9I, K7AD, OH3SR, UW7LL, OH5VY, JA7QVI, DL8YHR, G4FUF, S51ZO, OH2BC, G3WOS, SP4MPB, LZ2CC, LZ2WO and SM6LPF.  17 others copied today but not worked were: W8PAT, W7JW, K4PI, K7RWT, W6SR, N8JX, N5DG, N6JV, K7CW, W7IUV, KR7O, FK8CP, F5LNU, JR1LZK, LZ2DF, WW2DX, and W1JJ.  I was pleasantly surprised to see some new stations that I had not worked before on 6m EME!  The windows with North America on my moonrise and moonset are very short, so I ask that European and Asian stations try to contact me outside of those windows.  Unfortunately, I was unable to complete any contacts with North America today during my moonset, due to the very unusual ionospheric blockage taking place.

Today I was able to continue operating even during the higher elevations of the moon here.  Unfortunately, moonrise in southwestern Europe takes place when the moon is very high here in Cocos, and it will become increasingly more difficult to safely orient the antenna around the guy ropes at these higher elevations.   So, I may have to either take a break during the middle of the moon passes, or simply aim the moon as close as safely possible to the moon and hope that the pattern is broad enough to work at those higher elevations.   I will try to announce any such disruptions in operation on the ON4KST EME CHAT page.

Sunday September 17

Although the lowest Degradation of the month (0.8 dB), the Kp index hovered around 4 all day, making 6m EME more difficult.  As a result, only 13 new stations were added, bringing the total so far up to 61.  New contacts were made with: AC0RA, K6QXY, YL2AO, 9A8A, PA5Y, HA0DU, SP3RNZ, S51DI, HA7TM, LZ2DF, LZ2HM, HA8CE, and W1JJ. 


15 others copied but not worked were: K4PI, K4RX, N8JX, W6SR, W9GA, N7NW, K0DAS, N6JV, K7CW, KR7O, OH6MIK, SM5AQD, HA8FK, FK8CP, and F5LNU.  One reason I planned these long periods of operation from both VK9C and VK9X was to allow for days that may be adversely affected by geomagnetic storms.  Hopefully, the Kp index with drop down soon.


By afternoon, the moon was too small and dim for visual tracking, so that will have to be reserved for early morning hours before sunrise.


I also completed local ground wave contacts with VK4KJJ/P on 6m, 2m, and 70cm ;-)

Each Sunday night is "pizza night" in the small community here, so we had a great little veggie pizza made by local Tony and his crew.

Monday September 18

YAY - the Kp index finally started coming down and was actually below 3 some of the time before heading back up again to around 5.  And the Degradation was still only -1.0, so this was probably one of the best days of the trip in terms of conditions - at least when the Kp index briefly dipped down!

13 new stations worked were: K0DAS, NR0X, KC0SKM, KD7DCR, N7NW, UB7K, OH6MIK, SM5AQD, GD0TEP, S59P, LZ8SIX, K1SIX and OK7XX


Noteworthy were the some really great signals: KD7DCR (-19 dB), UB7K (-17 dB), OH6MIK (-17 dB)when the Kp index was lower.


14 stations copied but not worked were: N8JX, K4PI, W9GA, N6JV, N5DG, W6SR, NU0P, K7RWT, KR7O, HA8FK, FK8CP, F5LNU, G4RGK and WW2DX.


The total 6m EME worked so far stands at 74.

Tuesday September 19

The Degradation was under 1.5 dB, and the Kp index actually was around 3, so I was optimistic about my chances for today.  However, I got totally skunked on my moonrise :-(   I did have a couple close calls with N5DG and VE5UF, but made no contacts.  I copied N9JX, N5DG, NU0P, KR7O K4PI, AL7RT, W6SR, VE5UF, N6JV, W7MEM, W7EW, and UX0FF.

When the moon was too high for me to aim the antenna up on it, I did complete with my first station of the day, DK8NE, during his moonrise.  Then, just as I was able the antenna on the moon again as it was starting to go down, I worked VK5PJ on his second lobe during his moonset.  I also copied G4RGK many times again today, and worked LZ2JE.


By moonset the Kp was actually below 2. Although I copied WW2DX, K2ZJ and WA1EAZ, I could not complete with any of them.


By the end of the pass, there were 3 new stations worked, bringing the total worked up to 77.  I am thinking very strongly about cutting back my operating schedule to just moonrise (and maybe moonset) after tomorrow.   If you still haven't worked me, and are interested, please get on and do it!  I can't continue to spend these 12 hour shifts to work one or two people...

Wednesday September 20  - NEW MOON!

Started out with Degradation at -2.0 dB and Kp=3. I did not hear any sun noise bursts. I spent the first couple of degrees at moonrise on the wrong sequence, which didn't help with such a short window.   But even on the correct sequence through my main ground gain lobe, I didn't complete with anyone :-(   I copied VE5UF, N5DG, N6JV, W6SR, W9RM, K7CW,  W7MEM and W7EW.

Toward the middle of the moon pass, I copied UX0FF, HA8FK, FK8CP, G4RGK and EI3RD, but did not complete with any of them.  The only contacts in the middle of the day were G8VR and SP7VC.  By moonset, the Kp was 3 and the Degradation was up to -2.4 dB.  On moonset, I did complete with WW2DX, for contact #80 ;-)


Because of the large reduction in the amount of activity, plus the high moon elevations during the middle of each pass, high TEC toward the moon during the middle of the day now and the increasing EME Degradation, I will only be QRV now through Sunday September 24 during moonrises and moonsets (horizon only - when my moon is below 18 degrees elevation.  If you just got your 6m EME station going or returned from Antarctica or something, and you want to make a special request for me to be on at a certain time, please let me know.  Otherwise, I will see you on EME during my moonrise or moonset only and will not be QRV on EME after my moonset Sunday GMT. 


I remind you again that I will have exactly the same elevation problems in VK9X next month.  So please spread the word to have people try to call me when my moon elevation is below 50 degrees.  These times are shown on my operating schedules on my web page. Thanks!

Also, although I have had real-time internet access here at VK9C to use the ON4KST EME CHAT page while I am on the air, I do NOT expect such luxury at VK9X.  So please watch your email and my web page for updates!

Thursday September 21


At moonrise, the Degradation was -3.7 dB but the Kp index was down to 1.3.  I copied W6SR, VE5UF, K7CW, W7EW, W7MEM and KL7HBK.  I completed with KR7O and N6JV.  As the moon set in KL7, I copied KL7HBK, but he never received my final RRR.

I went grocery shopping from 0500-0800, when the moon was too high for me to aim at.  When I returned, I copied F5LNU but we did not complete. 


During my moonset, I completed with DK2PH & S59Z.


The total number of contacts so far is up to 84. I will be on again for my just moonrise and moonset on Friday.


Friday September 22

At moonrise, the Degradation was -3.5 dB, but the Kp index was down to 1. I only worked W6SR.  I copied VE5UF, K7CW, W7MEM and W7EW.

I got on for moonset when my moon was still at 45 degrees elevation. I completed with VP8EME before his moon reached 4 degrees elevation.  Counting the 2 new stations worked today, the total now stands at 86 6m EME stations in the log.


Due to other obligations, I will NOT be able to be on for the NA moonset (my moonrise) tomorrow, Saturday GMT, or for my moonset tomorrow.  I am still planning to be QRV for my moonrise and moonset on Sunday September 24 and will try to extend my operating times if cndx warrant.
Saturday September 23

I was not QRV for moonrise or moonset.
Sunday September 24

6m Degradation was -5.6 dB, and Kp index was 1.3.   The only station copied was AL7RT in DN28, but no contact was made.


Nothing was copied in the 2 hours I was on during moonset. 


Monday September 25

Degradation was -6.7 dB, Kp index was 2.3.  A REAL long shot! I copied AL7RT at -18 dB and W7EW at -20 dB, but failed to complete with anyone.  The final tally still stands at 86 6m EME contacts.  I will take down the antenna today.  Hope to see many more of you from VK9X starting next week!

Went snorkeling at Trannie's Beach, Spotted turtles at the old jetty at the north tip of West Island. Went to the old barge art gallery and interacted with baby red footed boobie. Indoctrinated to Hash House Harriers.

Tuesday September 26

Visited The Farm. Antenna came down and was dismantled.   Had dinner at Peter and Felicity Robinson's home.
Wednesday September 27


Heavy rain all day. Went out in the lagoon in canoes to spot turtles. Went to Home Island for dinner and met a local there with a 3 element beam but no license! Station dismantled and packing begun
Thursday September 28

Mast was disassembled.Scroungers golf.
Friday September 29
Saturday September 30

Transported our luggage to the Cocos Island airport for check-in at 8 am and waited to clear security and board the plane.  Left the airport at 3 pm with our luggage after it was learned that plane would not be arriving to transport us to Christmas Island.   Returned to our original accommodation and purchased an additional night.

Sunday October 1

Like Saturday September 30, we spent most of the day transferring our bags back and forth from the airport and waiting around as the Virgin Australia airline flight changed, was delayed or cancelled. Finally they decided to fly from Christmas to Cocos and return to Christmas that night, so we did actually make it to Christmas Island by 11 pm Sunday night.  Although the place we had rented 6 months ago was occupied when we arrived, a very helpful agent from Virgin Australia found us a "room" (more like a prison cell in a modular cubicle out of town) to spend the night. Everything was overbooked because of a week of delayed or cancelled Virgin flights.  But by 0130 local time Monday, we at least were someplace with our luggage.

Monday October 2

After a fitful 5 hours of sleep, we were off to try to get something to eat, straighten out the housing situation, and line things up for the portable operating site.  We attended an awards BBQ at the Cricket Club, and got a key to the kitchen there so I could set up after the festivities were over and the all the staff was finished cleaning things up.


Tuesday October 3  - Kp =3 and Degradation=-2.7 dB

Arose just after sunrise, had breakfast and was dropped off with all the gear at the Cricket Club by 8 am.  The next 7.5 hours were spend assembling the antenna, siting the antenna, setting it up, setting up the station in the kitchen of the club house there, and - much to my astonishment - given a password to their new wi-fi netfork!  I hustled all day, but only was able to get on the air for the end of the NA moonset. I actually was not able to calibrate my aiming until after the NA moonset

The noise was on my moonrise was horrendous :-(  The refugee housing units (reportedly not in use) were producing lots of noise, as were contractors running power tools in that area until well after sunset.  All the electrical equipment in the housing units is apparently running to try to maintain the facilities, and the failing fluorescent bulbs blinking on an off everywhere contributed to the din.  On top of the noise, I did not notice any ground gain because of all the "ground clutter" of these buildings in front of my antenna on moonrise.  But let's hope for improvements as moonrise becomes later and hopefully the workmen go home.

During the NA moonset, I did copy K6EME, N6JV and K6IJ.  My first contact was JG1TSG. I returned to the site after the moon had passed zenith, and worked ZS6NK, G8BCG, S57RR, ZS4TX, OH2BC, DL8YHR, ON4IQ, ES6RQ, ON4GG, SP3RNZ, F6BKI, SP4MPB, OH6MIK, S59A, OK1RD, EA8DBM, UR0MC, YL2AO, UT7QF, UW7LL, G5WQ.  I have a hill toward my moonset, but I was able to decode VP8EME until my moon got down to 5 degrees elevation.

Other stations copied but not worked on the first moon pass were VK5PO, 4O6AH, OH3SR, GM3POI, F5LNU, and LZ2WO.

The total stations worked during the first pass was 22. I will be on for moonrise again on Wednesday, and will try to see how high I can stay QRV during the high overhead moon during the next pass. I apologize at not being able to sort through my hundreds of emails that are piling up in my inbox, but I hope you appreciate the fact that my highest priority is to become active and make 6m EME contacts.  So please don't feel neglected if I haven't had time to read your email or I don't respond to you comments on the ON4KST EME CHAT page - I am usually too busy actually operating or aiming the antenna to bother even looking at the page myself.

Wednesday October 4 - Degradation - 2, Kp = 0

I found that I do have some sharp ground gain lobes starting around zero degrees elevation, although it seems the ground gain from closer terrain does not appear that significant.  On moonrise today, I completed with KJ9I, W6XU, K7AD, KR7O, K6EME and JG2BRI.  I also copied W5ADD, N3XX, KG7H, KD7DCR, N9IW, W6SR, W7MEM, K6IJ, NJ6P, N6JV, and N7NW.  I took a break between 1430 and 1630Z, because the moon was too high for me.

Upon returning at 1630Z, the moon was quickly coming down from its zenith.  I completed contacts with ZL3NW, SM7FJE, GD0TEP, OZ4VV, US0LW, G4FUF, HA0DU and OH7KM.  Copied but now worked were OH3SR, OZ1DJJ, SM5AQD, PA5Y, GM3POI, VK5PO, LZ2WO, VP8EME and S51DI.

By my moonset, the Degradation was down to 1.6 dB and the Kp was still under 1.  Often in the conditions where both stations are in the dark and the Kp index is very low, the polarity changes very slowly, if at all.  Such was the situation often today with Europe, where stations seemed to be either in for extended periods of time or simply no signals at all were copied for very long periods.  But when the polarity did line up to be reciprocal, signals were great and contacts were fast ;-)  That is why it is so important to follow the special DXpedition QSO procedure explained on my website.  It was obvious which stations were failing to do this, and they probably thought that I was not copying them when in fact I seem to be receiving extraordinarily well!

Oh, almost forgot to mention the Robber Crab incident!   Imagine my shock when I returned to the ham shack after adjusting the antenna position to find my headlamp illuminating a HUGE Robber Crab waiting for me at the open doorway!  These are the world's largest crustaceans and the front legs are each about a foot long, with the main body part the size of a large coconut.  I closed the door rather than have him sneak into the shack and snip cable with his claws (the size of my hand)!  They are a protected species here on Christmas Island.

Oh, and then there was the poisonous 6" long centipede right outside my door on another trip to the antenna! I had been asked to destroy these if I encountered any, so I pounded him into parts with a hammer...

All the equipment is becoming covered in a film of salt from the strong never ending winds here on the mountain top.  Please don't wait until the last possible day on the schedule to try to contact me - the equipment may not last :-( 

Thursday October 5 - Degradation = -2.3 dB, Kp=0.3

No visual tracking possible tonight.  During moonrise, I worked KG7H, W9JN, N7NW, KD7DCR, and N6JV.  I took a 2 hour break before EU moonrise.  When I returned, I worked, LY2BAW, SM5AQD, OH3SR, PA5Y, G8VR, OZ1DJJ, SM6LPF, S51DI and S59P.  I also copied, but did not work, FK8CP, 4O6AH, 9A8A, JR1LZK, G3WOS and VP8EME.  The low Kp and the fact that both ends of the EME contact were in the dark meant that the polarity rotation was going to be slow, and it certainly did seem stuck for long periods.

By moonset, the total 6m EME contacts after 3 moonpasses was 50.

Friday October 6 - Degradation = -2.7 dB, Kp-1.7

In the clouds again and rainy up here on the mountain tonight, so no visual tracking.  What a shame to have such a big bright full moon and not be able to see it!

Moonrise has moved more to the north, so I no longer beam down the road during moonrise, but out over dozens of modular units used for refugee housing.  I have been worried about noise there, with some type of workers using power tools and all the flickering lights and air conditioning running in the housing, which is said to be no longer used.  However, as the moon rises after dark now, it seems there isn't any worry about power tools. 

I still had been worried about the ground clutter from all the various units breaking up the reflections contributing to ground gain.  Obviously I worry a lot on these operations...  Anyway, I was very pleasantly surprised tonight to find that the flat metal rooftops they have installed over all the modular housing units seem to make great reflectors for ground gain!  As they say over here, "No worries, Mate! She'll be right!".

I started out decoding AC0RA when the moon was just a fraction of a degree above the horizon.  Then I worked AC0RA, NR0X, W9GA, K0EGQ, K9TVG, N9IW, and K6QXY.  I also copied N3XX, K4PI, W5ADD, NU0P, and W6SR before elevating the antenna. After elevating the antenna, I worked NJ6P and copied K6IJ.  While the moon was too high, I took a break until 1730Z.

When I came back at 1730Z, the moon was close enough to due north that I could elevate up as high as it would go and the rear elements were in between the SE and SW guy lines.  That was good because it was raining at that point, and the guy lines were dripping wet Dacron ropes. The SWR stayed low even during periods of heavy rain...I guess that is one reason to be thankful for the high winds up here blowing all the raindrops away ;-) The poisonous centipede here in the ham shack hid before I could attack him with a tool big enough to safely defend myself.

As the moon was coming down, I worked DK2PH, UB7K, 9A8A & G3WOS .  I copied PA9RX, FK8CP, 406AH, VK5PJ & HA7TM. The total 6m EME stations worked now stands at 62.

Although around 5 degrees now, my horizon on moonset does become lower as the moon moves further north. Hope to see more of you in the log this coming weekend! 

Saturday October 7  Kp index=0.7 Degradation=-3.4 dB

Even though this weekend is the ARRL EME Contest weekend, cndx for 6m were not ideal.  In addition, the low Kp index and both stations being in the dark for both NA and EU as well as here on Christmas Island meant that the polarity changed very little.  Lots of "one-way" propagation and seeming to be "locked out" for long periods. 

During moonrise, I completed with KB8RQ and JH2COZ.  I copied but did not work K7CW, K6IJ, K4PI, and N3XX.

After the NA window, I took a nap from 1600-1800Z.  When I got up again I found a poisonous centipede inside and got him this time!  I then proceeded to work OZ7OX, IW5DHN, LZ2WO, LZ2CC, PA9RX, LZ2JE & 4O6AH.   I also copied but did not work UT3MD, FK8CP, G4BWP, LZ8SIX, JR1LZK

The total 6m EME contacts after today is 71.

Sunday October 8 - 5th Moon Pass   Degradation=3.1  Kp index=0.3

The car wouldn't start, but a very helpful Australian Federal Policeman gave me a lift up to the operating site.  Then I couldn't get the 6m station to work.  But I finally reset everything and started everything back up before the moon reached 1 degree.  LOTS of QSB from sequence to sequence and stations would disappear :-(  

During my moonrise, I worked K8OM, KC0SKM, N7IP, NU0P,& W6UC. I copied W8PAT, K4PI, N3XX, W7JW, N8RR, K0DAS, K7RWT & VE5UF. When the moon was too high, I took a break from 1745-1845Z.

Starting when the moon was due north and then descending,I worked S51V, VK5PJ, SP7VC,   I copied FK8CP, G4BWP, VK8MS,JR1LZK and WW2DX.

The total now stands at 79 stations worked on 6m EME.

Monday October 9
Tuesday October 10
Wednesday October 11
Thursday October 12

During my moonrise, I worked W8PAT, W7JW, K4PI, W7GJ (operated through the generosity of KB7Q), and JA7QVI.  I copied additional stations KA1R, W5ADD, K2ZD, N3XX, N8GTI, N8RR, VE5UF, K7RWT and W6SR.

As the moon passed over Europe, I worked UT3MD, OH5VY, YU7EF and EI3KD. I also copied FK8CP, VK5PO, S59Z and JS2CQA.

After completing with YU7EF, I took a short break to cut out the Yaesu power connector on the FT857.  The voltage drop across the connector was starting to cause the FT857 to drop out during transmit periods because the voltage at the rig was less than 12.5 VDC.  I always carry some wire nuts with me on these DXpeditions, so I was able to eliminate the connectors and just splice the 12 VDC supply voltage to the FT857 and my preamp.

By the North American moonrise, the Degradation was -2.2 and the Kp index was below 3.  The only station I copied during my moonset was KA1R operating a remote station in FN65, up on the Maine coast.

By moonset, the total 6m EME contacts was up to 88.
Friday October 13

At moonrise the Degradation was down to a nice -1.1 dB, but the Kp index was over 6 and climbing. There was also a strong Es opening across central USA, which certainly didn't help either! On moonrise I worked N8GTI, VE5UF, K0DAS.  I copied W5ADD, N3XX, W1JJ, K2ZD, K7RWT, K1SIX, W6SR, N8JX, N0LNO and K6IJ.

After I started to elevate, I was able to see the moon through the clouds from time to time, which is always comforting (although it probably makes little difference).  I worked JS2CQA and took 30 minutes when my moon was passing through zenith here to work 3DA0MB during his moonrise. I copied but did not complete with VK5PO, DK8NE,EI2FG, FK8CP and HA7TM.

By moonset, the Kp index was 5 and the Degradation was down to -1.0 dB.  During my moonset I only worked S58Z.  I copied only KA1R.  At more northern moon declination, my azimuth for moonset points over top of a single story building only 100' in front of the antenna.  I think this is the biggest factor contributing to my lack of ground gain on moonset.


The total 6m EME contacts is up to 94.

Saturday October 14

Degradation was -1.0 dB and Kp Index was down to 3. On my moonrise, I worked N8JX, W7KNT, N0NLO, and K6IJ.  I also copied K2ZD, W5ADD, N3XX, W6SR and VK5PO.

As the moon passed overhead, I worked DK8NE and S51ZO.  I copied KL7HBK again, but we did not complete.

As the moon sank in the west, I copied HA7TM, JR1LZK and KA1R, but made no contacts.

At the end of this pass, there were 100 6m EME stations in the VK9XGJ log.  I am planning on 2 more moon passes after this.  This was the weekend of good 6m EME conditions that I extended the trip for.  I hope the Kp comes down!

Sunday October 15 - 9th moon pass

Kp index was down to 3, Degradation still very low at -1.2.  I had visual from moonrise until dawn....the first time I have had a good view of the moon in a long time! Very cool and windy out.  On moonrise, I worked K4RX, W5ADD and K7LED.  I also copied N3XX, N8RR, N4II, W7MEM, W6SR and KL7HBK.

No stations were seen calling after the NA moonset until the moon was approaching moonset.   I copied JR1LZK but he did not copy me.  By moonset, the Kp index was still around 3 and the Degradation was -1.3.  During NA moonrise, the window was very small, and my moonset ground gain is very poor at this QTH.  I copied nobody during my moonset.

By the end of the day, the total 6m EME contacts was at 103.  Tomorrow is the last planned EME operation - I will QRT from EME at 0600Z on October 17.

Monday October 16

At moonrise, the Kp index was down to 2.0 and the Degradation was still only -1.8 dB.  Conditions for 6m EME looked very encouraging!  During moonrise, I worked W9RM and copied N3XX, K7CW, W6SR and W7MEM.  I also killed my third centipede outside the door to the ham shack in the early pre-dawn hours!

After the NA moonset, I copied KL7KY and F5LNU but only completed with HA7TM and HA8CE. At the time of the final contacts, the Degradation was still only -1.0 dB and the Kp Index was down to 1.7.

After shutting down the EME operation, the total 6m EME contacts from VK9X stood at 106.  The best DX (measured over the face of the Earth) from VK9XGJ was W5ADD in EN40wl at a distance of 10,722 miles (17,255 km).  The best DX from VK9CGJ was K2ZD in FN21nr at a distance of 10,335 miles (16,632 km).  Contacts with stations on the opposite side of the Earth are really tough on EME because both stations need very low antenna lobes and excellent horizons!

Thanks to all who made this DXpedition such a success.  I would think that the high Kp index and geomagnetic disturbances during the best days of the month for EME would have had an impact, but I don't think they really did, since we had other days with good conditions.  I know that some stations in Region 2 were handicapped by the very short (or non-existent in some cases) common moon windows, and I apologize for that.  However, there is nothing I can do about the geometry that makes these islands so far from many spots in Region 2. To those who would say that EME is too easy, I suggest that there are also many other physical, ionospheric and astronomical considerations that do make it quite a challenge! I wish you all success in the current 3DA0MB DXpedition, and also in the upcoming 6m EME DXpeditions.  I hope to see you all - including those I missed this time - from another rare DXCC at some point in the not-too-distant future! 

Those of you who followed me on the TX5K DXpedition to Clipperton Island may be interested in seeing the professional video done for French public television, which is finally now available:

http://wp.cdxc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/TX5K.mp4

MNI TNX, GL and here's to much more Magic Band DX! VY 73, Lance


SUMMARY OF RESULTS

VK9CGJ
VK9XGJ

     


This page last revised on 17 October, 2017