V6M in PK90va

Falalop Island, Ulithi Atoll,

Yap State, Federated States of Micronesia

W7GJ 6m EME DXpedition
August 26 - August 29, 2015

Federated States of Micronesia

(CQ DX Zone 27, IOTA OC-078)

Ulithi Adventure Lodge on the southwest shore of Falalop Island

  Final Antenna Location at Ulithi Adventure Lodge


NOTE:  Full pdf V6M DXpedition report with photos now available at http://www.bigskyspaces.com/w7gj/V6M.pdf


By now, you know perfectly well why somebody would haul all the equipment for a serious 6m operation  to Yap on the opposite side of the world  at a time of year and during a solar cycle with little to no chance of F2 propagation.  It is because a good location was found there to take advantage of the superb EME conditions afforded at this point in the low solar cycle!  If you are thinking about a trip, you might as well go someplace VERY rare so you can hand out a new DXCC to virtually every half million mile contact.  In order to provide sufficient advance planning for stations wishing to contact me while I am in Micronesia, 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.   Over the last few years, I have been looking for a suitable QTH in V6, and thought I had found some promising locations, but there were outstanding questions regarding reliability and cost, and communications with those prospective locations was very intermittent and unreliable.   When I finally found the above location, I decided to go for it even though it is so far away and is so expensive to reach from Montana.  The above photos show you some of the key reasons that make this a highly desirable location:

1. Reliable AC power
2. Proximity to the ocean on moonrise and moonset for ground gain and lengthened window with more distant stations
3. Located such that the antenna will never be aimed at the village or any buildings during common moon windows, decreasing the chances for receiver noise
4. No buildings, hills or other solid structures on the ground between the antenna and the ocean on moonrise or moonset or during EME operation.
5. Secure and safe location for the equipment

Background on Ulithi Atoll in Yap can be found here.  The local time is 10 hours ahead of UTC.  My V6M license is here.  The maps below shows where in the world this remote place is located - 400 miles southwest of Guam!  Falalop Island is still in considerable trouble after the recent typhoon, as you can see here, but I am going with water filter, purification tablets, freeze-dried food and all the equipment for 6m EME.  I hope you will make the effort to look for me!


Because of the lengthy plane flights, in addition to the layovers waiting to connect with non-daily flights from Guam to Yap, and then also from Yap to Ulithi Atoll, there are a number of days required just in traveling!  As a result, I expect to have only 7 full days of operation (compared with 10 complete moon passes from  KH8).  In addition, the remoteness of this location causes the common moon windows with EU and NA to be relatively small.  However, these days DO include the lowest Degradation days of the month (also over a full moon weekend), so I hope that will provide enough opportunity for people who are serious about working me on 6m EME. 

I will be leaving home early on August 20 and plan to finally arrive on Falalop Island Monday August 24.  I hope to be QRV by EU moonrise on August 26.   I plan to tear down in the afternoon of September 3, after my moonset.  I begin the journey home on Friday September 4, and hope to be home by the afternoon of Sunday September 6.     The location planned for the antenna provides a view of moonset over the ocean (less than 100m away) and moonrise (less than 600m away).   There will be trees in the moonrise direction, and I don't know what effect that may have on signals.  There also may be some physical interference caused by close trees that will restrict certain azimuths on the horizon.   For the time being, plan to look for me from my moonrise until moonset on the NA west coast and from moonrise in the Ukraine until my moonset, recognizing that I may have difficulty elevating over 50 degrees, and that I lose ground gain above 45 degrees elevation.  So, if you can, please look for me when my moon is lower than 45 degrees.

I will not have any access to the internet out on Ulithi Atoll.  Not having real-time internet has not proven to be a problem in the past during 6m EME operations from E51SIX, 3D2LR, 5W0GJ, E6M and TX5K.  That is why I try to publish my planned operating schedule so far in advance.  However, I am planning to provide some brief satellite SMS text updates via the Magic Band EME email group through the generous support of KB3SII.  Please do not try to reply to me, because I will only be connected to the satellite to send my updates.  Please watch the MMM on VHF site and check my planned operating schedule for last minute updates before I arrive at the remote site on Falalop Island.  Also,  please watch the ON4KST EME CHAT page and DX Cluster for reports to show my activity.


The 6m station is essentially be the same as that used on previous DXpeditions with the exception being the use of my KX3 instead of the K3.  Initial tests of the KX3 on 6m EME in JT65A mode resulted in four European contacts even when EME cndx were not optimum, so I am very encouraged that the unit has been modified for adequate stability on 6m JT65A.   If you have any difficult decoding me, remember to try checking the AFC box on the WSJT screen ;-)   I am already looking at over $1000 in excess baggage charges, so have to trim down wherever possible!  The 6M-1000 has been modified by M2 for overseas use, and provides a solid KW output on JT65A mode with under 3 watts of drive from the KX3.  Like the K3, the KX3's flat, wide bandwidth is ideally suited to copying multiple JT65A mode callers spread out every 200 Hz from about -800 Hz to +800 Hz.   By now, you know the drill - please coordinate amongst yourselves using the ON4KST EME CHAT page and SPREAD OUT

The antenna again is my 6M8GJ yagi fed with LMR600 low loss cable and home-made manual elevation mount.   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 those places 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 western European and eastern NA stations, since there many situations in which we should both have ground gain at the same time! 


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 operating schedule.   The antenna should have a good view at a height of 54' over the ocean, although there will be some foliage in the way, especially on moonrise.   Please be patient, and it will soon become clear the elevations where my ground gain lobes are best, as well as if my raising the antenna helps overcome the local foliage problem.  Please watch the ON4KST EME 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.  As long as you are not on the same frequency as the other station, you will not be interfering with them.  Please coordinate your calling frequency with others on the ON4KST EME chat page to prevent interfering with each other - ideally, stations should be spread out every 200 Hz.  I try to decode all callers every receive sequence, and I make a note of each caller and their DF so I can reply to you as soon as I am able, or
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.  

Because I am so far west, the only possibility for NA is during my moonrise, and the only possibility for EU is on my moonset.   Here is the EXCEL spreadsheet of the currently proposed V6M 6M Operating Schedule.  For those who prefer PDF files, here is the same V6M Operating Schedule in that format.   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 only have regular internet access from home until August 19!

NOTE TO ALL STATIONS:  The days of lowest Degradation are August 29 to September 1,  which includes a weekend ;-)  How much more convenient can it be for you?   However, please be aware that, as the days go by, my moon becomes higher than I can aim during the moonset for stations in western NA and on moonrise in eastern EU.  If you are in those locations, I  STRONGLY encourage you to try to elevate your antenna so you can contact me when my moon is lower in elevation,  when (or if)  I have ground gain.   Remember that I am using a single yagi, and it can be elevated only to a maximum elevation of 65 degrees (with great difficulty, trying to interlace the elements between the guy ropes), and if the guy ropes are wet, the elements are shorted out causing high SWR, making operation impossible.  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 earlier in the trip when my moon is lower than 45 degrees elevation if at all possible!  There is also another reason for trying to contact me when my moon is lower -  Because my antenna is only 20' above the ground, I do get 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!

On the above proposed operating schedule spreadsheet, 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 shows up during those periods, or if I have already worked stations whose moon is on the horizon during those periods.

Please also note that  heavy rains can create a 1.5:1 SWR on the antenna, which is high enough to shut down the amplifier.  So, I may have to be off the air at times.  Please just keep watch on 50.190 and I will try to stick to the published schedule as well as I can.


As explained above, I plan to be able to send short email updates via satellite daily with a list of the stations worked.  Please watch the Magic Band EME email list for updated information.  I will NOT be receiving Magic Band EME email or any private emails, so PLEASE DO NOT REPLY to my postings!  I will only be able to post short updates to the group.  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 - the common moon windows  are very limited, and many stations are expected to be calling.  

Sorry, no LOTW, eQSL or other newfangled ways of confirmation.  I will be using old fashioned photo QSL cards.  Please QSL DIRECT with SASE (foreign stations include a current IRC or $USD for postage) direct to:

Lance Collister, W7GJ
P.O.Box 73
Frenchtown, MT   59834-0073

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 this will be an extremely quiet QTH)!  If you should copy me on some ionospheric mode while I am pointed at the moon and calling CQ on JT65A mode, please answer me on JT65A mode and let's make a contact!  It is very inconvenient for me to switch modes while I am calling CQ or working EME stations on JT65A mode, so please do not call me on CW or SSB and expect me to switch over to answer you.   When I am not aimed up at the moon, I very well may be on CW or SSB, or ISCAT mode.

It is extremely expensive to haul a 6m EME station halfway around the world to this location - and the excess baggage charges alone are staggering! 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.  This is a solo DXpedition and, unfortunately, because the island is so devastated, I also will have to take a lot of extras (such as food, water filter, etc.) in addition to all the 6m EME equipment.   Although I always keep my costs as low as possible, my travel and lodging costs will be over $6000.  Therefore, any contributions toward the DXpedition are greatly appreciated!  If you would like to contribute via PayPal, please send your contribution by check or cash to my QRZ.com mailing address, or directly via PayPal to my email address, which is my current PayPal account.  I am only able to do these long distance 6m EME DXpeditions every year because of the continued support from the 6m community and I am extremely indebted to you for your continued support.   I have the time and equipment to go more often than once a year to new rare DXCC, but I just don't have the finances available.  Many thanks to the following hams who have already very generously contributed to this DXpedition:


MNI, MNI TNX everyone for your support!!


(all contact dates and times are in GMT)

For the past several years, I had been investigating potential 6m EME DXpedition spots in the Federated States of Micronesia (V6), since it was still needed on that ham band throughout Europe and practically all of North America.   However, up until this spring, I had been unable to find a suitable spot that met all my site requirements.   As demonstrated through my previous DXpeditions, much of the success of a 6m EME DXpedition depends on operating from the most ideal location.  I had just about given up on V6 as a destination until I saw the announcement early in 2015 that JA8COE was going to westernmost Micronesia in March to operate HF as V63CO from the small Falalop Island on Ulithi Atoll in the state of Yap.  When he returned to Japan, I emailed him and asked him about his experiences there, and at the same time began to research the location as a potential destination for my purposes.  From the start, it was clear that the Ulithi Adventure Lodge would be expensive and difficult to reach from Montana, but it also appeared to meet many of the most important requirements I want for a good 6m EME DXpedition site.  I booked flights and lodging for a DXpedition starting at the end of August, to coincide with the optimum days of the month for 6m EME.  I posted my planned Operating Schedule and announced the DXpedition as far in advance as possible, to give as many 6m operators as possible a chance to adjust their schedules and/or upgrade their stations so they could be available for the V6M operation.

Unfortunately, at the end of April, Falalop Island was hit by "super typhoon" Maysak, and virtually destroyed.   Reconstruction was slow on the devastated island, and the owner of the lodge suggested that I cancel my trip and offered to refund my money.  Since I was not going there for luxury accommodations, but to bounce signals off the moon, I requested that they let me come if I stayed out of their way and imposed very little on them while I was there.    They agreed to let me come with that understanding, and I used protein bars and packages of freeze dried food to fill the open suitcase space around my coaxial cable and other radio equipment.  Using the small Elecraft KX3 and heavily loading my small carry-on case with as much of the more delicate equipment as possible, I was able to limit my luggage to three checked bags, all of which tipped the scales at the maximum allowable 50 pounds. 

United Airlines pretty much has a monopoly on flights to Yap, and they very conveniently also fly out of Missoula, Montana, so I was able to travel on a single airline the whole way to Yap Island.  Unfortunately, they were not very accommodating on all my extra luggage, and charged me $270 three times along the way for my excess baggage.  Since United only flies twice a week from Guam to Yap, there would be the added complication of an overnight layover in Guam.   And since Pacific Missionary Airlines - the small service that usually flies twice a week from Yap to Falalop - there also would be several nights lodging in Colonia, Yap, waiting for a flight to Falalop.
20 August, Thursday - Got up at 4:45 am and arrived at the Missoula airport around 6 am to check in for the 7:15 am (1315Z) United Flight to Denver.  Three pieces of luggage (the antenna and mast and two suitcases) were checked through to Guam, and the excess baggage fees were paid.  Each checked piece of luggage weighed 50 pounds.   By 1642Z, I was in Denver awaiting the flight to Narita/Tokyo, Japan.

I watched movies the entire way to Narita on the 787 Dreamliner, forcing myself to stay awake so I could try to adjust to the time zone when I arrived in Guam.


21 August, Friday - Because they had to bring in a plane for the Guam leg, there was a 6 or 7 hour layover in Japan.  Mike Sabin, an engineer and ham from Trans World Radio picked me up after midnight at the airport and dropped me off around 2 am Saturday morning at Paul and Cathy’s guest room in southwest Guam.   They provide lodging for people associated with TWR activities, and had previously worked for their transmitter in Cambodia.


22 August, Saturday -  Scheduled to leave Guam at  2025 local time for the biweekly flight to Yap, leg 3 in the journey.   The fact that all the gear made it this far was the critical step, as the next leg is a direct flight to Yap.  Then Monday I will catch the biweekly flight to Falalop Island on the little PMA plane. 

In the meantime, I had a great breakfast of some egg type of baked dish and cereal (with a small locally grown banana) with Paul and Cathy.  I was picked up around 11:00 am by a VE7 ham named Phil and his wife April.  Phil is a  jack of all trades working at the TWR transmitting site on the south end of Guam.   He took me to meet up at the K-Mart parking lot with Joel Chalmers, KG6DX, where we transferred all my luggage to his vehicle for the day.   Then we went to a Chinese restaurant for a lunch buffet with around a dozen other hams from the local club.  What a great group of very interesting people!  One guy (who used to work for the Coast Guard) said when he retired next year, he was toying with the idea of setting up on Aguar Island (southwest of Palau) at a deserted Coast Guard station to activate T88.   It sounds like it might be a quiet spot to operate 6m EME from T88 and this is something to follow up on in the future!   One of the hams gave me information on Albert and William, HF hams living on Federai Island, the longest island in the Ulithi Atoll. 

After lunch, Joel took Phil and I on a tour of the southern half of the island.  I picked up a sand ample at Nimitz Beach, saw some Japanese pill boxes there, and we toured the TWR transmitting site and building.  After we dropped off Phil, Joel gave me a tour of his yard with all his local fruits and vegetables before showing me his ham shack.  He has had other houses move in around him, reducing his space for antennas.  However, they do have a number of  Dragon Fruit cactus plants, along with mint, lemon grass, bananas and other things (maybe mango?) growing in the yard around the house.   Seems a lot easier to grow stuff in that tropical climate!  Joel dropped me off at the Guam airport around 6:30 pm for my evening bi-weekly United Airlines flight to Yap. 

That evening, I arrived in Yap with all the gear and was picked up at the airport by a car from Oceania Lodge. They also picked up another passenger from Guam.   I stayed up until after midnight trying to do email on the unbelievably slow and overloaded WiFi available in the “lobby area”.  I stored my three checked bags in their locked store room for safekeeping, so I was still wearing all the same clothes from when I started on Thursday.


23 August, Sunday -

I got up around 9:00 am and had a power bar for breakfast.  Then I headed the hill to the lobby to do some emails, where I ran into the other passenger picked up with me at the airport the night before, as she returned from breakfast at the ESA Hotel down the street.  There are no regularly scheduled meals yet at the Oceania Hotel (the old Pathways Hotel).   It was purchased a few years ago by New Yorkers Mark and Jennifer.  Jennifer, previously  a set designer for product photo shoots was holding down the fort during my stay in Yap. 


The woman from Guam had rented a car that Sunday and later learned she didn't need it to get down to the office where she would be working all week. She is an archeologist in charge of the Guam office of Garcia and Associates ("GANDA"), and had to audit the system or the Yap historical records department during the week.    I was very happy to share in her one day with transportation, and we ventured downtown shopping for snacks (and a case of bottled water for me to take over to Falalop).   The grocery store was only open until 1 pm since it was Sunday.   After shopping, we toured the island until around 4 pm, and saw lots of the the more rural part of Yap, including some WWII relics and lots of stone money.   


 We had an early dinner on the floating restaurant ship at the Manta Bay Resort in downtown .   Their home-brewed dark beer and special that night (tuna filets) with local vegetable salad were all really great!  I figured I should enjoy a last good meal before I went out to the outer islands!  After returning to the Oceania Hotel, I spent some time in the lobby on the WiFi and turned in early because I had set the iPhone alarm for 6:15 am; I actually woke up earlier than that, thanks to the ubiquitous roosters ;-)


24 August, Monday -

I took a taxi from the Oceania Hotel, arrived at the Pacific Missionary Airways hangar at 7:15 am, and  paid for round trip air service to Falalop.  With all my baggage, the cost was $390.   I brought a case of plastic water bottles along with the freeze dried food and protein bars from Costco to feed me while I was on the outer island.  We loaded the twin engine plane full of luggage, water, rice, donated chairs, etc., and left around 10:00 am.  I sat in the co-pilot seat so I could chat with Amos, the pilot.   He has lived in Yap for 10 years and grew up in Philippines to missionary parents. 


By 11:00 am, I was at Ulithi Adventure Lodge surveying the situation and trying to figure out where to put the antenna.   The original plan to stay at the north end of the building was out because the only there were bathrooms, and the bedrooms south of the bathrooms were not habitable anyway.   So, the originally planned antenna site was not possible.   The weather for antenna raising was ideal – well, it was not rainy.   I was very fortunate to have good weather all day to set up the antenna.   I selected a spot to set up the antenna southeast of the building, about 50’ from the building,where the antenna could just see moonset over the water past the southwest corner of the building as the moon moved northward toward the end my trip. Otherwise antenna location seems to be very good, with the antenna never aimed back at the station setup, and no power poles or buildings to the east, south or west.   I was the only person staying there, but there was a local woman that came over the first day to help me with meal prep and local fellow named K (for Karlos) who is basically the main handyman in charge of the place while Junior is away.   K instantly gained my gratitude when he cut down a palm tree with a chainsaw to make it possible for me to set up the antenna on the lawn off the southeast end of the building ;-)  I started assembling elements in the shade on the terrace toward the ocean, then assembled the mast and set up the mast with the guys and prop in the new location.   Then I went back to the yagi itself.   By late afternoon, there was shade beginning to materialize along the southeastern end of the building, so I assembled the boom with the elements there in the shade.   The sun and humidity added to my exhaustion as I worked hard to get the antenna set up.  As the shadows lengened, a couple of the locals helped me sight down the boom to align the elements, and Dominic, a local technician ham without working equipment, and a retired U.S. Air Force mechanic, kept me company much of the afternoon while I worked assembling the antenna.

Since I was the only person staying there, I was free to set up the station just about anywhere. So, as it became dark, I routed the 75' of LMR600 coaxial feedline across the flooded kitchen area, and hung it in the doorway between the dining room and kitchen so it could reach the operating position in the dining room.  I set up the equipment and had it tested out by 10 pm.  It all seemed to work, although it worked best (using the 100’ extension cord from the 30 Amp outlet in the flooded room next to mine) with the long drop to feed the outlet strip powering all the low power stuff.   The amplifier power supply wa connected to 15 Amp outlet in the dining room, which provided 117 VAC without load and 103 VAC under load.   As  a result, the DC output voltage to the amp is in the low 40’s and the best I can put out on JT65A mode is around 850w.    I wanted to hook up the amplifier power supply to the 220 VAC outlet in the kitchen, but the kitchen was flooded and I am not sure it would be smart to try to activate the 220 VAC outlet (where the discarded stove once stood).  I also found that there was an extra dB of noise when I turned on the amplifier power supply, and found that it must have been some interaction from the little power supply for the external preamp.  So, I powered the external preamp off the same power supply used for the KX3.  It always pays to bring along a number of extra cables! I was pleased to be able to get everything set up on the same day as I arrived, and  announced that I would be QRV per published schedule.   With the flight over, and the other unknowns regarding antenna siting, station location, power availability, etc., I had not planned to be able to set up the station the same day I arrived, but I worked diligently and was able to work the Magic Band magic getting it all set up!   It also helped to have favorable antenna weather!  At that point, I was just waiting for the Degradation to start dropping down before trying any EME, so I could go get some sleep.


My bedroom - the only room that was habitable - was upstairs in the center of the building under the only intact tarp still over the roof.  A large cockroach by my bed greeted me as I entered the room, and one woke me up the first night by crawling on my arm.  Ah, the tropics!  The room was  too far away from any potential antenna location to use as my station location, so I was very pleased to be able to set up downstairs in the hallway of the Dining Room. That night there were light showers and since I had no running water anywhere, I tried to rinse off around midnight but the rain was not sufficient for a proper shower.  I finally took off my sweat-soaked clothes from the previous  Thursday and hung them out in the rain overnight on a rope.

noticed lots of water running down into my bathroom and the vanity area of the room.   No wonder there was such a strong smell of mold and mildew in the room!   During the subsequent days, I often kept the screened window open to try to air it out.  Large cockroach by my bed when I first entered the room. 

Mosquitoes were present but not TOO bad.  At least they don’t carry malaria on Falalop! 




25 August, Tuesday -
On Tuesday morning local time, there was a big thunderstorm just before dawn and it rained heavily for some time. I took advantage of that opportunity to stand outside for 10 minutes rinsing the sweat off my body.   At least I was finally able to go outdoors and rinse off some of the built up sweat with the natural outdoor shower.  I also got to the equipment downstairs and disconnected the ant and per cords just before the water piling up on the table reached the gear. Then I went back to bed for a few hours. When I got up around 9 am, I dressed in some clean anti mosquito pants and shirt, and it felt great.  However, I knew full well I will be drenched in sweat by evening.

I spent a couple hours moving all the equipment over to the folding table set up in the hallway between the kitchen and the living room, physically separated from the dining room table, which was becoming very flooded.  I placed additional pots and pans out on the table to collect water from the leaking upstairs, and wound up emptying all these containers daily. I took a photo of this new setup, and felt much more optimistic about it being in a dry location.

Since I was too far from any windows to use my GPS unit to set the computer clock, I made a note to remember to carry the laptop and the GPS unit outside to set the computer clock prior to any EME operation.

That morning, I went outside and picked up all the electrical tape scraps generated from the antenna raising activities Monday.  I also put yellow streamers on the coax, and mast and prop guy lines so locals (as well as the moonbounce operator) hopefully will not run into anything.


I had a protein bar and another bottle of EMERGEN C water for lunch and noticed the sky to the south looking very stormy.   It did rain on and off and was cloudy most of the day.  I worked 3 Guam stations around 5 pm on 6m SSB.   I also worked 2 of the Guam stations again around 8 pm (1000Z) and they suggested I aim north.   I moved the antenna north and copied TV birdies and heard somebody calling me weakly on CW, but there was too much QSB to copy their weak call.  I continued calling CQ on SSB on 50.110, but the TV birdies faded away and the band sounded dead.


K said that the power people had just replaced a power transformer next to the building, which still only had one phase.   Plans are to add a couple more transformers to restore 220 VAC and provide 110 VAC current to some of the other rooms.  K thinks he knows who had the trashed oven, and told me he would check to see if the plug and power cord were still salvageable.   T thought that once I could plug into the old range outlet in the kitchen, I could splice the 220 VAC cable onto one of my small 110 VAC power cords, and then borrow a 25’ heavy duty extension cord to bring 220 VAC around to my station set up in the dining room.   I know the small switching power supply would work much better on 220 VAC and I could get more consistent DC voltage on the amp.





26 August, Wednesday -

I got up around 7 am, donned my bug-repellant long pants and long sleeved shirt, doused myself with mosquito repellant and had one of my precious protein bars for breakfast.   I left the screened window in my bedroom open to try to air out the room during the day.   There were still puddles of water in the bathroom and in front of the sink, and it still smelled strongly of mold.      Of course, there is little chance of anything drying here, with the humidity so high.  K had indicated that he might need some help raising tarps onto the south end of the building, which had been blown off.   I gave him my two extra 50’ pieces of 1/8” nylon line (which I use to aim the antenna) to use to pull up the larger polypropylene rope that will in turn pull up the tarps.   He worked whenever the weather permitted to install rafters so he could nail down more tarps so they don’t keep tearing and blowing off in the strong winds.  He was trying to get the south end of the building covered, which would cut down the leaking in my bedroom as well as in the Dning Room and Kitchen areas downstairs.


It  I worked this afternoon trying to find an alternative power source for the amplifier power supply.   K found me the 220 VAC cord from a discarded kitchen range, and the plug matches the outlet in the kitchen here.  So, with ring connectors from Dominic, and 1/4-20 bolts, washers and nuts from my “Extra Hardware” bag, I was able to cannibalize my extra 3’ extension cord and connect the female end of it cord to the end of the 220 VAC power cord.   However, I disvovered that the way the kitchen power was rewired after the typhoon,  there was only one phase of power to the plug outlets, so all the 220 outlets had the same 113 VAC on each side.   K told me that the electrical people did install a new power transformer outside the building that week, but there were still 3 new power transformers sitting out on the ground when I left the island.    In the meantime, the amplifier power supply is cranked up to provide 52 VDC, which drops down below 44 VDC during transmit periods.   The amp seems to barely tolerate this, and since I am the only person in the building, I can turn off everything else so the voltage does not drop any further and cause the amplifier to cut out. 


I worked DU7/PA0HIP (1179 miles to the west) on SSB at 0930Z.  I chatted again with KG6DX in Guam That night after my freeze-dried dinner, I  shortly thereafter I started drinking the distilled water they provided me in large plastic water bags from their recently installed desalinization unit.    I still boil it first though, just to be safe.

EME cndx were beginning to improve, so I planned to start EME,  as scheduled, during the EU moonrise at midnight my time.     started calling CQ 30 minutes before midnight local time and called for 2 hours before copying anyone.  Aside from the heat and the mosquitoes, it was a perfect night for EME – bright moon and clear skies for visual tracking and absolutely calm with no winds.  Toward my moonset direction, there was flat grassy lawn for the first 100'. Then it gradually slopes down about 15' over the next 200' to the ocean.   And when I lowered the antenna down onto the horizon, it was magical!   I really love being able to set up someplace where the antenna can look out over the ocean when the moon is below 20 degrees elevation!

For my first EME effort, S59A was the first station copied but the first station worked was SM7FJE, an hour later.  4 stations were worked before my moon set.   I copied RO from ON4IQ right down to my horizon, so I don’t know if he got RRR from me or not.  In order, I worked SM7FJE, IW5DHN, S57RR and YU7EF.  Despite the fact that the -5.5 dB Degradation was still a bit toward the high side, I completed with SM7FJE, IW5DHN, S57RR, and YU7EF. I also copied G5WQ, G8BCG, G8VR, GD0TEP, OH2BC, ON4IQ, and S59A. Everyone was doing a great job spreading out their calling frequencies! I copied stations down to zero degrees on my moonset.

27 August, Thursday -


The Degradation was dropping rapidly, and was a couple dB better by my first NA moonset later in the day.  However, I suspect that the high Kp index and aurora taking place, coupled with the high TEC over my area at the time of day of my moonrise was not helping the EME propagation at all.    During my moonrise I completed with KB8RQ, KJ9I, and KG7H. I copied K1WHS, K2ZD, K4PI, N3CXV, N3XX, N7NW, N8JX, W5ADD, W6BBS, W6XU, W9RM.   The fact that I worked BV2DQ on JT65A direct (off the back of my beam) during the NA moonset certainly suggested that there was some of that strange TEP Zone high TEC up there somewhere...

Today I ran the external Mirage preamp AND the internal KX3 preamp.  I powered the Mirage off the same power supply as the KX3, and seem to be having no additional noise when I turn on the amp switching supply.  I have about S7 noise level without any signals, but I am assuming that the KX3 is still OK up at that level of input, and I don't expect to have any really strong EME signals, so dynamic range was not an issue for me.   I ran the KX3 NB at 1 rather than 15 like I did the first night.  DU1GM asked that I look for him on 50.110 CW after I am finished with the NA moonset, but all I found was a contact with DU/PA0HIP on CW.   That was the first time I used the CW keying program on the laptop, and it seemed to work OK once I got the hang of it.   I kept meaning to get the KX3 firmware set up to recognize that their little paddle is attached, but never got around to it, with all the other concerns regarding the AC power. 

Another clear night here with only breezes, made it a great night for EME! And it sure helped to have the Degradation coming down, too There is no ionospheric TEC in the way at the time of day of my current moonset, and having the lagoon just west of the antenna certainly helps, for ground gain on my moonset, too! On the third EU moonrise, I worked ES6RQ, YT1AR, ZL3NW, ON4GG, OK1RD, OH2BC, ON4IQ, GD0TEP, CT1HZE, bringing my total EME contacts to 16. I also copied G3WOS, G4IGO, G8BCG, G8VR, GW4WND, LZ2WO, OZ1DJJ, S53K, S59A, VK5PO, YT0EME, ZS6NK. The polarity seemed to be changing very rapidly. Also worked DU/PA0HIP again before bed - this time on CW. I am not much of a CW operator in weak signal cndx, but I must admit, V6M sounded pretty neat on CW!



28 August, Friday -

On the second NA moonset {my moonrise}, there seemed to be a lot of one-way propagation with the polarity not changing much at all. I answered many stations who said they were copying me at the time, but they did not reply to my call with RO. So I would jump to the next person who said they were copying, and have the same result. A lot of time wasted trying to call people who were not really seeing my trace. NA stations worked were K2ZD, W8PAT, N7IP, N9IW, W6BBS, N7NW, N6BBS, W9RM and K6MYC, bringing me up to 28 EME contacts. I copied NA stns K4PI, K7CW, N3CXV, N3XX, N8JX, VE1JF, W1JJ, W5ADD, W6XU, W7JW, W7UT.

After my moonrise session, I took a nap and then grabbed a water bottle and set out on a hike around the island.  It was during the middle of the day, so I was quite hot and sweaty by the time I arrived home a couple hours later. The waves were large and crashing into the reef on the eastern side of the island facing the open ocean. I crossed the northern section of the island by walking down the runway, and took photos of the little bay where they bring in the supply barge in, and saw the boat ramp where fishing boats are launched on the NW corner of the island.

By this time, I was having real problems with the AC power, and I had to start out each transmission period with low power, and slowly increase it up to around 600 or 700w output to prevent the DC power from dropping too low and the amp shutting down. During the third EU moonrise, I only worked S59A, GW4WND and a DL station who wished not to be named. EU st, bringing me up to 28 stations worked on EME. Copied but not worked were EA6VQ, G4BWP, G4IGO,HA7TM, HA8FC, JR1LZK, LZ2DF, LZ2WO, OH3MIK, OZ1DJJ, OZ4VV, SP3RNZ, VK5PO, YT0EME, ZS4TX, ZS6NK. I chatted again on Saturday (local time) with Dominic and he said he had talked with the people who had been responsible for wiring the building. He assured me that there WAS 220 VAC somewhere in the building and I needed to keep looking for it. So, I found the main circuit box where the power entered the building and verified that there was in fact 220 VAC there. So, I removed the circuit breaker used for the hot water heater (since there was no running water anyway) and attached my extension cord wires to the circuit breaker and stuck it back in the hot electrical panel. The switching power supply really seemed to love the 220!

29 August, Saturday -

Sky was mostly clear, so it was possible to do visual aiming almost all the time.  The big problem was that toward the end of the NA moonset, the amp kept kicking out when I ran more than around 600w L Often it would not allow the automatic sequencing to start (or stop) without shutting down the amp.  It HAD been working OK, with the key down voltage staying around 43.5 VDC or above, and sometimes even around 50 V!   I was not sure what was going on with the 115 VAC line at the outlet there, but it was later suggested to me by KB3SII that it probably was due to the circuit breaker being taxed at its maximum rated current, coupled with the fact that everything had water damage and corrosion.    I am sure the voltage spikes caused by the cutting out under full load can’t be good for the equipment.  Bad smell from the amp.  It could be corroded wiring inside the building after the typhoon or perhaps connections further up the system.  Anyway, when the key down voltage output drops too low, the amp simply shuts down.  Rather than repositioning the antenna, I had to be here all the time to adjust the drive level from the KX3 up and down and reset the amp to put it back in operation.  And the results showed:   I only worked 3 new stations on the EU moonrise. 


I snooped around the main power panel where the AC power comes into the building, and found that there WAS 220 VAC into that panel over in the corner where the mice were nesting in the "Dive Shop" corner of the building.  I went to bed around sunrise, vowing to try to correct the situation after I had had some sleep!  No point in sticking your hands into a live power panel after you had stayed up all night!


In the morning I fixed the AC power issue!  I removed the 220 circuit breaker going to the water heater (which was superfluous anyway, since there is NO running water, let alone HOT water), and retrieved the little extension cord parts I had given to Dominic when I cannibalized my cord to try to connect to the 220 at the RANGE plug in the kitchen.  I prepared the ends of the wires on the longest half of my little extension cord and attached them to the old circuit breaker, and installed it back in the box.   I had to move the operating table and all the equipment a few feet closer to the main panel box, but the extension cord I had (using the other 3’ extension cord and the lengths provided by the one that I cut up) allowed me to reach the amp power supply with the 220 VAC line.  The little power supply simply LOVED the 220, and I finally got a reliable 1 kw output again.


Feeling very encouraged about the morning’s activities, I turned in for a 4 hour nap before moonrise.  However, after about an hour, I awoke to dripping noises, which I think were coming from the room next to mine, which is still didn't have much of anything over the roof.   I got up and caught the end of a light, but very welcome rain shower.   I ran out onto the open concrete patio in front of my room, and washed myself with soap to get the first shower all week.   The light rain quit a bit suddenly, and I still had some soap on my, but it was refreshing nonetheless to rinse off all the sunscreeen, sweat and insect repellant.  Then I went back for a couple hours of napping.


The moonrise was around Sat 6:30 pm local time and the sky was mostly cloudy, with light rain and  refreshing breeze.  I opened up all the doors on the first floor of the deserted building to get some cooling (and I use the word VERY loosely) going on, and doused myself totally with REPEL.  I had a power bar for dinner,  and got ready for what will doubtless be a madhouse during my moonrise.


It actually urned out to be yet another beautifully clear, visual tracking kind of night.  The NA stations seemed to be having a problem decoding me but I did complete with 5 more stations.  On the third NA moonset, I completed with W1JJ, W7JW, W3UUM, W7UT, and KR7O. I also copied K4PI, K7CW, K7RWT, N3CXV, N3XX, N5DG, N8JX, VE1JF, W3XO, W6XU, and W8TN. 

On the fourth EU moonrise, before the amp blew up at 1830Z, I worked ZS4TX, SP3RNZ, SP4MPB, and HA8FK.  I also copied IT9YTR, LZ2DF, LZ2WO, OZ1DJJ, S51DI, S51V and ZS6NK.
 Apparently, even though I had finally solved the AC supply problem, the damage had already been done to the amp and power supply. 
Thanks to KB3SII's Iridium satellite transponder, I was able to send out an SMS text within minutes to the Magic Band EME email group advising them that I was unfortunately QRT due to equipment failure.

30 August, Sunday -

Since there was not much I could do with the barefoot KX3, I decided to take advantage of the good weather to completely tear down the station and pack up to go home.  I was hoping to grab a seat on the Monday PMA flight.  Dominic came by and brought me some fish and rice for dinner and visited with me while I ate it outside on the patio.   


31 August, Monday -

Monday morning, I learned that the PMA people decided not to fly  that Monday, so it looked like I would be stuck there until the Friday flight, as I originally had planned.  I tried to splice some some scrap wires together and run them out of my room for an HF antenna for the KX3.  I did copy some weak JT65A stations on 15 meters, but there is interference between the KX3 and my computer, making it almost impossible to control the JT65a program when the KX3 has been transmitting.  Not having a good ground up in my room really complicated the antenna issue for HF operation.


My food inventory was 5 freeze dried meals and 5 protein bars left.  That meants I could use one of the freeze dried meals for breakfast/lunch some day this week, have a protein bar for breakfast the rest of the week, and splurge one day with a extra protein bar for lunch.  I was feeling pretty weak and worn down, but attribute that to working so feverishly Sunday to take down and pack the antenna and all the gear to be ready to depart.


1 September, Tuesday -

This morning, I saw the MV Four Winds offshore and realized that was my only option for getting off the island before Friday.  I quickly packed up all my baggage again, hauled it downstairs, and headed into the village looking for K and his truck.  I was directed to his house, where I explained my plan.  K quickly readied himself and we headed out to the lodge to collect my baggage and transport it to the point on the beach near the village, where the shuttle boat would be coming back for a final collection.  After 15 minutes or so, the shuttle boat arrived.  The baggage was handed out to the boat, and I waded over and got in the boat.  When we reached the ship, I hopped out onto the ladder on the side of the ship and climbed up onto the deck.  The shuttle boat with my gear was hoisted up onto the deck.  I was welcomed aboard the MV Four Winds and asked what type of accommodations I wanted.   For $21, I bought passage in a shared cabin to ensure security for all my gear.  The small cabin was located up the stairs one  level above the main deck, and I was helped haul all the heavy gear up into the small cabin.  Although there was already someone in the cabin when I arrived there, the occupant disappeared mysteriously when he saw me move in with all the gear, so I wound up being the only inhabitant. 

The ship weighed anchor and headed out to the next stop, which turned out to be Mogmog Island, the most traditional island of Ulithi Atoll and home of the atoll's high chief.  After a brief stop there to drop off and pick up some passengers and supplies, we made a short trip over to Federai Island, the longest island of the atoll.   We were told that there would be a stop there of a couple hours, if anyone wanted to go ashore.   I had been informed by the hams at the lunch in Guam that there were a couple ham radio operators on Federai, and when Dominic came aboard (he had taken a small boat from Falalop to catch the ship here at Federai), he told me both those hams were at the landing.   So, I hopped on the little shuttle boat to go ashore, and wound up meeting both Albert and William and chatted with them for about 30 minutes, until the shuttle collected everyone to head back to the ship.

Around 4 pm we headed out toward Yap Island.  Since our arrival time around midnight would be too late to dock or unload, we spent the night anchored off Yap, waiting for a chance to dock.

2 September, Wednesday - After a container ship was led into the wharf in Colonia, we headed in and were docked by mid-morning.  After letting many of the passengers disembark, I checked out of my cabin and was helped out onto the wharf with my gear. By 10:30 am,  I got a taxi over to the Oceania Hotel on the other side of the town and checked back in a few days earlier than planned, to wait for my Sunday morning flight from Yap.

3 September, Thursday -

Despite the unfortunate interruption halfway through the V6M operation, a couple of very interesting and positive things DID come out of this early  return to Yap Island.  On the overnight ship from Falalop I met a woman from Pohnpei (a two week trip to Yap for her!) and I explained the difficulty I had with my particular challenge of finding a spot with reliable AC power AND a 60-70' clearing next to a secure operating position so I could set up and use the big 6M8GJ AND a clear antenna shot over the ocean on the moonrise and moonset AND be away from the village.  I know I am asking for a lot, but if you want to get the best results, it pays to do a lot of investigations and make the effort to go to an appropriate site where you will have a quiet location with good ground gain.   Google Earth has been very helpful to me, and is the main way I assess potential DXpedition sites, but not all the images are current.  Anyway, she suggested a small island near Pohnpei (which has daily flights, followed by a trip on a small boat) that does have 24 power and sounds like it has enough clearing for me.  However, it is turning out to be difficult to get any information about Lenger Island.   

Also when I got back  to Yap, I met a group from Tuvalu, also staying here at the little Oceania Hotel bungalows.  They were there for a small islands association annual meeting taking place in Colonia, at Yap's capital. Yap this week.   I explained that the only suitable spot I had found in Tuvalu for a 6m EME Dxpedition, didn't seem to have any listed email or phone number anymore.   Several of them knew the place I was describing and promised  they would check to see if it was still in business, and forward me the current contact information as soon as they returned to Tuvalu.  Tuvalu has been pretty high on my potential destination list for some time because I am afraid that if somebody doesn't activate it soon on 6m EME, it will become very difficult.   Already their islands there have been completely washed over during "king tides" - especially if there is a storm at the same time.   So it will only become more difficult to activate as the oceans continue to rise.  I am still waiting to hear from them, though....

4 September, Friday -
5 September, Saturday -  I had an early dinner at the hotel so I could get out to the airport while they were open early in the evening.   At 6:30 pm, I took a taxi out to the airport so I could check my baggage in early.  After some minor transfer of clothes between suitcases, all three pieces of checked baggage met the 50 pound limit.  I paid the $270 excess baggage fees and checked the bags through to Missoula, Montana.   My taxi driver had been waiting for me in the parking lot, and after he stopped at the taxi control to sign out for the day, he dropped me off at the Oceania Hotel, where I went to bed for a few hours.
6 September, Sunday - At 1:00 am, I was driven out to the airport again to clear security and wait for the bi-weekly 3:15 am United Airlines flight to Guam.  In the departure lounge, I seemed to be seated in front of the only person coughing in the whole room...maybe that is why I wound up getting home with a sore throat.   We arrived on time in Guam, and transferred to the next flight which departed at 8 am, and arrived Saturday at 5:30 pm. The process for clearing customs to enter the USA took a long time because of the hundreds of people arriving from Asia at the same time, but the four hour layover in Hawaii was plenty of time do get everything done and wait at the gate for the flight to Denver.  After a bumpy flight as we skirted a hurricane off the coast of California, we arrived in Denver on Sunday morning.  My flight from Denver  wound up  in Missoula slightly ahead of schedule, just before noon on Sunday.


Many thanks to all of you NA stations for making the effort to get up in the middle of the night to try with me. I know it was especially inconvenient a window for you, and based on the fact that I worked Taiwan off the back of the beam during one of my moonrises while I was beaming southeast, there apparently was some TEP zone ionization taking place for me during those NA moonset times    Seems like these latitudes always have some propagation on 6m! I was hoping to get past these periods of the day during later NA moonsets, but the equipment failure prevented me from being active during those times. 
First of all, many thanks for the contact and rallying to get on the air with your compromised aiming system

I apologize if the little KX3 was causing some problems for people to decode me when signals were weak. I have received several emails, though, of people saying the saw a lot of weak traces that did not decode.   I would EXPECT that, regardless of the rig. What I am still not clear about is whether people were having trouble decoding my traces from the KX3 when signals were STRONGER than -25 dB or when I was calling them.  I sure had no trouble decoding people with the KX3, and my previous testing showed the temperature correction firmware resulted in stability that was very much that same on both  receive and transmit.  Even if I had been using the K3, I EXPECT that people would not be able to decode my signals when they were -25 dB or weaker when I was calling SOMEONE ELSE.   You can decode CQ at weaker levels than -25 dB, but I almost never call CQ, because I don't want to waste precious moon time - I will call people who are seeing me trace, or people I can copy.

On JT65A, usually signals will have to be STRONGER than -25 dB for you to decode if I can calling someone else.   You can normally decode callsigns another 4 dB weaker than that when I am calling YOU or calling CQ.   That is why I ask people to call me with OOO when they see my trace - not necessarily decode me.   That indicates that the polarity is reciprocal and they probably would decode me if I called THEM right away.   Please note that I don't usually need to get a full decode of you to know that you are copying me .... I watch for a "#" after the partial decode from you (and I know who is on that frequency, because I record all the DF's of everyone I DO decode).   So I have already received calls from you, and as long as you STAY ON THE SAME FREQUENCY, when I see a partial decode with "#" I know I can call you with reports are you are very likely to copy me.   And of course, if you reply with "RO" (which is very easy to decode even when signals are quite weak), then I know you got calls and reports from me and I can reply with final "RRR".   So that is why I encourage people to call me with OOO even if they only are seeing a trace from me, and why it is SO IMPORTANT for them to stay on the same frequency

So, although I dearly love my KX3, and appreciate that many of the reports on my "traces not being decoded" were actually related to something other than the KX3, it does appear I will have to use a different rig on future 6m EME DXpeditions.   There just is too little time during such an operation to waste with a signal of questionable stability.  And everyone (including me) seems to have been spoiled by the rock solid stability and reliability of my K3 during previous 6m EME DXpeditions.



In Summary, I completed with 37 stations on 6m EME, 5 stations via terrestrial, and copied 34 additional stations via EME.  I also worked three Japanese stations on 15m (using a random length wire out through the door of my room and 5 watts from the KX3) on Monday before I departed. 

Given that I was QRT before the weekend, when EME conditions were optimum and it would be most convenient for people to be on the air at the strange time of the day for our common moon window, I am very encouraged by these numbers.   I believe they indicate a very strong growth in 6m EME activity.  I am confident I would have completed with many of these stations - and additional stations that are not on the list - if I had been able to remain operational throughout the planned schedule.   I look forward to the next outing! 




          # WORKED SIGNAL           # COPIED            # WORKED

1  SM7FJE -23 1  EA6VQ 1  KG6DX
2  IW5DHN -13 2  G3WOS 2  KG6JDX
 S57RR -26 3  G4BWP 3  KH2L
 YU7EF -25 4  G4IGO 4  DU7/PA0HIP
5  KB8RQ -21 5  G5WQ 5  BV2DQ
6  KJ9I -28 6  G8BCG

7  KG7H -23 7  G8VR

8  ES6RQ -25 8  HA7TM

9  YT1AR -24 9  IT9YTR

10  ZL3NW -26 10  JR1LZK

11  ON4GG -16 11  K1WHS

12  OK1RD -25 12  K4PI

13  OH2BC -24 13  K7CW

14  ON4IQ -17 14

15  GD0TEP -17 15  LZ2DF

16  CT1HZE -22 16  LZ2WO

 K2ZD -23 17  N3CXV

18  W8PAT -21 18  N3XX

19  N7IP -19 19  N5DG

20  N9IW -20 20  N8JX

21  W6BBS -28 21  OH3MIK

22  N7NW -26 22  OZ1DJJ

23  N6BBS -26 23  OZ4VV

24  W9RM -25 24  S51DI

25  K6MYC -22 25  S51V

 S59A -27 26  S53K

27  DL8YHR -26 27  VE1JF

28  GW4WND -21 28  VK5PO

29  W1JJ -22 29  W3XO

30  W7JW -24 30

31  W3UUM -25 31  W6XU

32  W7UT -25 32  W8TN

33  KR7O -26 33  YT0EME

34  ZS4TX -23 34  ZS6NK

35  SP3RNZ -27

36  SP4MPB -26

37  HA8FK -22

This page last revised on  1 October, 2015