Because of the lengthy plane flights, in addition to lengthy layovers, a few days are required for traveling and then setup. Many of the flights are at night and I am traveling across 9 time zones to the east, so it may seem like I am getting their quickly but a large problem will most likely be jet lag! I should be able to update this page daily with progress reports and stations worked and will also be sending out the same updates to the Magic Band EME email group. I will try to check in from time to time on the ON4SKT EME CHAT page. I expect to have access to the internet at the operating site.
My equipment is described in detail here. As you can see from reviewing the results on my web pages from previous 6m EME DXpeditions, many contacts have been made with single yagi horizon-only stations. The smallest station contacted from all the DXCC so far was N3CXV with his single 6M5X yagi (and 8877 amplifier) and extremely short, low loss feedline. If you have a good yagi, good ground gain, a quiet QTH, good power and lots of patience, we should be able to complete, even if you are a horizon-only single yagi station!
My tentative operating schedule as an Excel spreadsheet is here, in pdf format is here. The moon position from FH during the DXpedition is shown here. As shown in the planned schedule, operation is not planned when the moon is below 30 degrees elevation during my moonrise, or when the moon is greater than 65 degrees elevation. This schedule assumes that all the flights remain as booked, and I am able to get all my gear on each flight with me. All I can say is that I will TRY to be QRV for as much of the published operating schedule as possible. Please try to work me quickly when I do finally get set up.
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 as published on the operating schedule. The antenna will be installed at a height of 67' above the ocean, and it will soon become clear after a few moonsets which elevations are best for my ground gain lobes and what effects, if any, the local trees have on my signal. 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 copy me working someone else, or even if you don't copy me. As long as you are not on the same frequency as the other station, you will not be interfering with them, and your call and offset frequency will be added to the Q65 AVERAGE. 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 100 Hz. I try to decode all callers every receive sequence, and I make a note of each caller and their DF (or "offset:") so I can reply to you as soon as I am able, or use that frequency to identify you later if you are copying me (by sending me reports - see the special DXpedition QSO Procedure links above). Therefore, NEVER change your transmit frequency after you start calling - pick a clear frequency nobody else is using, stay on it, and don't wait until you see me before you start calling! I will try to contact any callers I can copy, but first priority will be given to people who are copying at that particular time, contributors, and stations with shorter common moon windows. I also will be giving priority to those stations who have demonstrated their unselfish commitment to 6m EME by their willingness to accept schedules as requested by other DXers who still need their DXCC.
NOTE TO ALL STATIONS: Remember that I am using a single yagi, and it can be elevated only to a maximum elevation of 65 degrees, 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 when my moon is lower than 50 degrees elevation if at all possible! If you are in NA or EU and you have a 6m EME array with elevation, PLEASE call me before my moonset! I will be giving priority to Region 2 stations during their moonrise. There is lots of time to work EU while we are both elevated and/or during your moonset - MNI TNX!!!
On the above tentative operating schedule spreadsheet, I have indicated times when the elevation is over 65 degrees by marking the time periods with red cells. I plan to go QRT when the moon is above 65 degrees. Please check on the ON4KST EME CHAT page for updates regarding my activity during such periods. Please also note that heavy rains can create a 1.5:1 SWR on the antenna, which is high enough to shut down the amplifier, and static crashes may make decoding difficult. 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 schedule as well as I can. I hope you will make the effort to look for me!
As explained above, I expect to be able to send out daily updates to the MAGIC BAND EME email group and revise this website daily with a list of the stations worked; please watch the MAGIC BAND EME email list for updated information. Please also share any updates with others on the ON4KST EME CHAT page. If there is some question regarding a contact, please DO call again. However, once you have confirmed a contact with me, please do not call for a second contact - some of the common moon windows during my moonset periods are extremely limited, and many stations are expected to be calling during those short windows.
I will be making full color photo QSL cards and also will submit my FH log to LOTW. If we have made a non-EME contact and you want a QSL card, please QSL DIRECT with SASE (foreign stations include a current IRC or $2 USD for postage) direct to:
Lance Collister, W7GJ
Frenchtown, MT 59834-0073
If we have completed an EME contact, I am happy to QSL direct to you for free to your QRZ.com mailing address. However, I will very much appreciate receiving your card and a self addressed envelope to relieve some of the burden of looking up all your addresses! MNI TNX!
FREQUENCY AND SEQUENCE
For EME, I plan to operate on 50.190, the frequency I always use for my 6m EME skeds, and will always transmit in the first sequence. I plan on using Q65-60A mode in WSJT-X and will transmit on an "offset" of 1500 Hz. With the "Wide Graph" of WSJT-X, and my wide, flat bandwidth receiver, I should be able to see callers from an offset of about 200 to 2600 Hz. However, remember there could be a 100 Hz doppler shift on your signal, so please don't try to get too close to those band edges, or I may never be able to find you! Here is how you spread out with Q65 mode:
Please check the ON4KST EME CHAT page for news from other hams in case I have to change this frequency due to receiver birdies at my end ! If you should copy me on some ionospheric mode while I am pointed at the moon and calling CQ on Q65 mode, please wait until after my moon sets to call me! It is very inconvenient for me to switch modes while I am calling CQ or working EME stations with very limited common moon windows on Q65 mode, so please do not call me on CW, SSB or FT8 and expect me to switch over to answer you. When I am not aimed up at the moon, I very well may be on FT8 mode. For FT8, I will be using WSJT-X on 50.313 or 50.323 MHz, and I expect I will be active on FT8 during times of the day favorable for ionospheric propagation.
It is extremely expensive to haul a 6m EME station halfway around the world. Too many times, we hear DXpedition stations say they can't take a 6m beam and/or amp because "they are already overweight and cannot afford the excess baggage fees". If you want to do a good job and are committed to going halfway around the world to succeed, this unfortunately is a large part of the necessary expense. Although I always try to keep my costs as low as possible, my travel, excess baggage, and lodging costs to activate a rare DXCC far exceed contributions. Therefore, any contributions toward the DXpedition are greatly appreciated! If you would like to contribute, please send your contribution by check or cash to my QRZ.com mailing address, or directly via PayPal (please remember to designate it for "Friends and Family") to my email address, which is my current PayPal account. I am only able to do these long distance 6m EME DXpeditions every year because of the continued support from the 6m community and I am extremely indebted to you for your continued support. I have the time and equipment to go more often than once a year to new rare DXCC, but I just don't have the finances available. Many thanks to the following hams who recognize that a large percentage of the costs are incurred before leaving, and have already very generously contributed to this DXpedition to Mayotte:
G8BCG, K2ZD, K5XI, ZS4TX, N0TB, OH7KM, JG1TSG, N7IP, KJ9I, W8OI, K7CW, JA7QVI, GM3POI, K4ZOT, ZL3NW, N7NR, N3XX, I4YRW, N8GTI, W8PAT, W9JN, G8VR, K5NA, K5DU, N8RR, JR3DVL, F5LNU, SP7VC, N1DG, NJ6P, W6UC, W5ADD, JA9SJI, EA8DBM, S57RR, KL7HBK, K8CX, W8TN, KB7Q, WB9Z, NV9L, K7KX, K4PI, K5QE, K9RX, N4BAA, IW5DHN, G4IFX, WA5VGI, DK8NE, K6QXY, W6XU, DK2PH, W7AH. I0KIB. W5WP, K0DAS, YL2AO, W7EW, KR5E, K6EME, YL2GD, W9GA, LZ2CC, OZ4VV, N5DUW, JO1PSX, K4RX, JG1TSG, K9CT, K5RK, KA1R, DL8YHR, DL1YM, K5XI, N5DG, KY7M, W7JW, OH6MW, N8DX, W0GJ, W7KNT, N4II, PA5Y, K8OM, LY2IJ, W3UUM, SP1S, HA0DU, W8IW, JE3GRQ, N8JX
PHOTOS AND UPDATES
Tue Sep 6
We arrived from Paris this morning an hour late, and then had delays getting the luggage and renting a car. On top of that, it took us longer than anticipated to wait for the ferry and then drive to the opposite end of the main island, where we are staying. By 1400 local time, I was able to start assembling the mast and trying to figure out where to put it. I cut off some palm fronds on the south side of the antenna and decided to try to squeeze the antenna and mast as far to the north as it will fit when I put it on the mast. That means it will be aiming out over the flat concrete roof of the house (which is 15' above the ground) when the antenna (on a mast 24' above the ground) is aimed anywhere to the east of north-south line. There still may be some azimuths where I will not be able to aim on the horizon due to trees, but I am hopeful - it will be very close!
I do have the mast up and guyed and sitting on the prop, waiting for the antenna. I have not decided exactly where to try to set up the station yet, but the front room where I was hoping to set up is the master bedroom and only air conditioned room, so that does not appear to be an option (although it sure would make the amp happy!). I am not sure I have enough extra coax with me to reach the back bedroom, so I may just set up out in the Dining Room just inside the sliders from the yard. I will be setting up the antenna and the station tomorrow with the goal being to be QRV all night on EME. I may have to go to bed early tonight because after 40+ hours of traveling and working all afternoon on the mast siting and assembly, I am pretty hungry and tired!
I did have lots of company while working outside this afternoon 😉 The Flying Foxes (fruit bats) here are HUGE and swoop by quite often. And the whole troop (if that is what you call a number of them) of lemurs made their appearance today to check out what was going on here, and shouted out lots of encouragement (or scolding - I couldn't tell). I will try to post a short video of them at sunset today on my FACEBOOK page so you can hear the racket they make!
Hoipefully the next update will be to report that the gear all still works after traveling halfway around the world, and that I am making contacts! Oh, and I am able to send this email because of the wi-fi here at the house 😉 So hopefully I won't need my GPS puck to set the computer clock this trip. I did buy a SIM card for my cell phone but have not had a chance to install it yet, and with WiFi and Whatsapp, it doesn't seem necessary.
Wed Sep 7
Got up at 8 am and started assembling the antenna. Things went slowly because of tremendous back pain. I did get the antenna up by late afternoon and had the station set up by sunset. The yard did pose considerable challenge for assembling the long yagi, and I had to add the last director after the antenna was mounted on the mast in order to have space to install it.
The antenna is fairly close to the house, and the 50' of LMR-600 Ultra Flex feedline reaches inside the house to the Dining Room. I wound up deciding to add on the extra 25' of LMR-600 I brought, so I could set up the station in the living room at the rear of the house, more out of the way (see attached).
I am still trying to figure out how to shut off the overhead ceiling fans and all the LED lights and the many solar powered lawn lights that are causing such a high noise level. I have made some reduction in noise but still have many things to investigate. When aiming due north, not elevated, I measure 15 dB of noise more than a 50 ohm resistor. There also is currently loud music apparently coming from an outdoor party in that direction on the beach and all the flood lights are on at the outdoor sports court immediately to my north, so both of those are likely contributing to my high noise level.
I am planning to try moonbounce at starting at 1630Z today.
Thu Sep 8 #1 MOON PASS
Last night was difficult, as I began to understand some of the problems trying to operate from this small lot. I am only good for about 30 degrees and below when the moon is setting south of west here, because the front of the antenna is in the tree branches and the rear is above the 15' high flat concrete roof which prevents raising antenna as well as measuring elevation. I had some noise problems and have removed all the problems from MY location, but there are a number of other nearby noise sources out of my control. From now on, I will try to follow the operation schedule shown on my website, which provides time for a nap when the moon is too high. In case you have not read my DXpedition web page, the operating schedule is here:
If I can be available when I am not on the moon, I will be monitoring FT8 on 50.313 - please call, since I am monitoring with JTALERT and it will announce if anybody calls CQ or calls me.
Despite all the difficulties with noise and aiming, I completed with 17 stations off the moon and 4 9K2 stations direct via TEP:
MNI more were decoded. GL and I hope to have better success and more aiming possibilities as the moon moves further north!
Fri Sep 9 #2 MOON PASS
The total EME contacts after the second pass is 35. I also worked 5B4ALJ on TEP before my moonrise. A Kp index of 4 today made the EME operation especially challenging. The contacts logged today were:
Many more were copied, and hopefully they can be added to the log in the coming days. Please remember to witch back and call me with TX1 unless you are seeing my trace or decoding me in the immediately preceding sequence. Q65 provides no other way for me to tell if you are copying me at the current time. I waste a lot of time replying to people who are calling with TX2 and in fact are not copying me. We have extremely limited common moon windows with this operation, and every sequence must count!
I plan to monitor FT8 on 50.313 for TEP tmrw for several hours before moonrise. I will start my next moonrise EME operation at 1530 and go until 1830 UTC, if I can. I may have to stop sooner if the moon becomes too high for me and is up against the guy ropes. I will resume EME operation again at 2330 UTC when the moon comes down to 35 degrees elevation here. It is very regrettable that I am unable to elevate any higher than that on my moonset, due to the fact that the rear of the antenna hangs over the roof of the house.
GL to all and MNI TNX for all your patience with the difficult conditions!
Sat Sep 10 #3 MOON PASS
It was overcast all day Friday with rain on and off. However, by evening it cleared and visual aiming was possible again for the third night in a row 😉 So pointing at the moon was never in question....the problem was a high local noise level (with everything in the house turned off) and birdies spaced at 50 Hz intervals across the entire band. The noise didn't start to go down until I was aiming up above 30 degrees.
I experimented with calling CQ on FT8 several times today. BV6KO reported receiving me between 0800 and 0830 UTC the other day, so I started out aiming toward eastern Asia around mid-day again. No luck with that, but I did complete with A62A at 1424 UTC. Later on Q65-60A mode, I worked A92AA and HZ1DG when the antenna was higher than 60 degrees elevation and I was trying to work EME. After the moon reached 70 degrees elevation and I could not raise it any further, I tied down the antenna and worked 9K2YM, 9K2BM and 9K2YD on TEP.
EME stations logged this moon pass were HA7TM, HA8CE, ON4IQ, OZ4VV, EA8DBM, YL2GD, W7JW, N8GTI, IW5DHN, K5NA, W9RM, and W6UC. That brings the total number of 6m EME stations so far up to 47.
Sun Sep 11 #4 MOON PASS
EME stations logged were JS2CQA, JE3GRQ, LY2IJ, SP3RNZ, OH2BC, N5DG, W3UUM, N0TB,KC8ENN, AA7A, N8RR, UT7UJ, NJ6P and W7IUV. I also worked a number of stations in Europe and the Middle East on TEP, which included some EME stations, so it took the pressure off the pileups during my future moon passes ;-)
Mon Sep 12 #5 MOON PASS
Stations logged on 6m EME were JA9SJI, OH2BU, SP7VC, JO1PSX, UT5UGZ, UT7UV, K4RX, N4II, K5RK, OH7KM, KU1CW, W7GJ, KB7Q and K6EME. Sorry I ran out of moon before I could work all the other stations calling 🙁 The total EME stations logged so far is 75, if my count in the manually kept paper logbook is correct.
Tue Sep 13 #6 MOON PASS
Things are getting pretty difficult at this point. I am not sure whether it is that the larger stations have mostly already been contacted or the Degradation is getting higher or the Kp index was low and Faraday Rotation was very slow or stuck in "lockout mode" or TEP is really causing problems with the EME signals. Or some of each. Anyway, during the 6th moon pass, I only worked 6 stations on EME:
SM6LPF, VK5PJ, K1WHS, W0GJ, K5XI, and WA5VGI
I did copy a number of stations on EME during my moonset, but I had a hard time getting them to copy me. I also worked a number of southern European stations before moonrise, mostly in Italy, Spain, Canary Islands. and even stations in the Middle East.
Tonight, September 13, I hope to be on starting when my moon comes up over the mountains at 1900Z, unless the TEP basically makes that impossible. Hopefully the TEP will be gone by then. I will try to stay QRV until 2400, based on activity and success. Actually, I may try to stay QRV during the entire moon pass until moonset at 0545 on Wednesday September 14. This is especially important for the stations in the eastern half of North America, as I think I finally will be able to aim at the moon during their moonrise 😉
I THINK the Declination is far enough north now that the antenna can just clear the house as the moon moves across the sky. The moon will pass behind the large Baobab tree just off the end of the antenna during moonset and I fear it may attenuate the signals...but I will be trying as long as I can keep my eyes open!
Wed Sep 14 #7 MOON PASS
This was the first day that the moon was far enough north Declination to provide clearance by the house so I could operate straight through during the entire moon pass. This finally gave me the opportunity to have a common moon window with the Eastern North American horizon-only stations during their moonrise.
Usually when I set up someplace I get some extra ground gain effect up to 35 degrees or so because the antenna is only 24' off the ground. However, with the house in the way to the east, there has been no such added ground gain chance this trip, at least during moonrise. That may explain why I seem to be having so much trouble to the east, beaming directly over the house.
Kp=0 now, so when both stations are in the dark, the Faraday Rotation can be stuck for long periods. But I think the TEP ionization is really having an effect down here....at least until well past local midnight. And the last two moonsets have been really a bust, and I am wondering if the fact that they have been at dawn, when there is no breeze, and perhaps signals beaming out over the ocean while aimed on the horizon are getting trapped by an inversion. I have not had that problem from other places, but I am not sure I had the moon on the horizon at a sunrise before. Anyway, tomorrow moonset will be later, so we will see if cndx are better after the wind starts up.
Probably as a result of many such obstacles, I made no contacts at all during my moonrise today :-( And I only made 3 contacts when the moon started rose in North America: NV9L, K9CT and KY7M. That brings the total EME contacts up to 84 so far. We will see how things go tomorrow (September 15/16) , and then I will decide if I might shorten the remaining planned operating times.
Thu Sep 15
Based on the slow success rate on EME, I have decided to join the XYL on the whale watching trip out of the north end of the island and skip the next moon pass on Thusday/Friday. My last activity will be the moon pass #10, which starts on Friday September 16 and ends on Saturday September 17. I will be rushing to take down the antenna and pack up all the gear immediately after moonset on Saturday.
Fri Sep 16
Sat Sep 17
First let me apologize for forgetting to add N4BAA in the list of stations worked during my moonset on Moon Pass #8! He was EME #87 ;-).
On my final day of operation, the Kp index was zero and the Degradation was -5.4 dB. I started my final moon pass at 2150Z on September 16. During my moonrise, and completed with KL7HBK, DL8YR and DK2PH. As the moon rose in North America, I completed with KA1R, K8KS,K5DU, W8IW, and NG7E. According to my preliminary tally, that puts me at a total of 187 contacts including 99 EME contacts from FH.
During the ground gain on my moonset, all the stations I called failed to copy me due to non-reciprocal polarization :-(. The space constraints limiting operating time and ground gain, the strange ionospheric interference, limited common moon windows, and other peculiarities, made this one of the most challenging operations to date. Oh well! MNI TNX for all the effort from everyone!
I will order photo QSL cards and upload to LOTW when I return home. Unless you don't want one, I will try to get a QSL card to you - the first cards mailed will be to people who provide an addressed envelope. If anyone notices an error in the log or time, please let me know, as there were times that were quite hectic here, and I certainly may need to make some more corrections!
I was very pleased to see so many people turn out to try 6m EME for the first time ;-) This is certainly one of the goals of these DXpeditions. Thank you very much, and I hope you saw what was possible - although not easy or reliable - by using the moon for a REAL long path contact! Please be sure to get as much experience as you can before the next 6m EME DXpedition!
Immediately after moonset, I tried FT8 on TEP for about 20 minutes, without any success in the middle of the day. I then dropped the antenna down onto the prop, and dis-assembled the antenna and mast. By sunset I had packed up the antenna bag with the aluminum tubing for the 6M8GJ, 24' mast, mast extension and fiberglass boom guy line spreader, Falling Derrick and Prop. After a pizza dinner, I packed up all the equipment into the appropriate boxes and suitcases to achieve overall suitcase weights slightly under 50 pounds.
Sun Sep 18
After final packing of the remaining computer items and clothes, we left mid-day to drive up to the ferry on the other end of the island in Mamoudzou. We just missed one ferry but were near the start of the line waiting for the next ferry to Dzaoudzi and the airport. Then it was off to Paris with a late night stop in Nairobi, Kenya.
Mon Sep 19
All the luggage arrived with us in Paris, and we flew from Paris to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas and caught a plane from there to MIssoula, Montana. We finally arrived home by 0530Z on Tuesday GMT, 45 hours after we left the QTH in Mayotte..
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
Over the 9 days of moon passes, I logged a total of
186 contacts in 40 DXCC. Of those, 100 contacts in 26
DXCC were on EME. Most of the TEP contacts were
on FT8 mode, but some were on Q65-60A mode while I was
trying to work EME. I was pleased with the 6m contacts
made, although I was quite disappointed not to
complete EME contacts with stations that I had
expected would be easy. I also copied many stations on
EME that I unfortunately was unable to contact. A
major hurdle with Q65 was trying to determine which of
the many callers I saw on the waterfall might be
copying me and which ones I should call at any given
time. As a result, I tried manually decoding a number
of different stations to see if I could identify any
of the callers and hopefully glean some information
from their transmission. I am very hopeful that we
will be able to work out an optimum solution to using
Q65 in a DXpedition pileup situation by the next
Most of my EME operating took place during the night,
which is usually the best time when operating from
locations close to the geomagnetic equator. However,
even when there was no TEP taking place, it seems the
ionization above that region still was high enough to
have an adverse effect on EME signals. I had expected some interference from
geomagnetic disturbances, but it seems that there
were other propagation factors adversely affecting
EME signals. For example, there were some regions
that just seemed totally locked out for me. The
first couple of moon passes started earlier in the
evening, and I was quite worried when the band was
full of spurious carriers every 50 Hz. I later saw
such carriers spaced somewhere around 170 Hz, as I
recall. I was worried that they might have been from a
local noise source, although they seem to have been
generated by some distant broadcast. Fortunately, the
propagation to wherever the problem was, subsided and
I was free of them after the first couple of moon
passes. The local noise sources in the house were
easily identified as LED lights, and the solution was
simply to turn them all off. There was some noise from
the neighboring houses, but I don't think that cost me
any contacts. Of course, when I beamed out over the
ocean, my receiver noise was the lowest. Overall, this
was an excellent quiet rural location for operating
weak signal modes.
Aside from unusual propagation challenges, I also
clearly had difficulty with the site. Because the
antenna was hanging directly over top of the house
during moonrises, ground gain was not present, and the
actual antenna lobe was most certainly displaced from
the direction the antenna was pointing. The horizon to
the east was 12 to 15 degrees high anyway, due to the
local mountains. For that reason, I had planned on
operating only when the moon had risen above 30
degrees elevation. During moonset, I initially was
unable to elevate to match moonrises in the eastern
North America because of physical interference from
the house. This definitely hurt, as many horizon-only
stations were counting on those windows. Toward the
end of the operation, as the moon's Declination moved
further north, I was able to follow the moon at all
azimuths and I operated the last couple of moon passes
entirely from moonrise to moonset. I suspect that some
of the problem toward the end of the trip when I was
aiming at the horizon during moonset was because I was
losing ground gain due to the large Baobab tree trunk
blocking the reflections coming up from the ocean.
When the moon was setting a little further south, the
antenna was aimed only through tree branches, and I
enjoyed ground gain down below zero degrees elevation
as expected when beaming out over the the ocean.
In summary, I had hoped to have been able to make
more 6m EME contacts, but there was some consolation
in the number of stations that were able to get a
contact with this rare DXCC. Below is the list of 6m
EME stations worked.
View facing east from the Baobab tree on the beach.
Revised 14 November, 2022