Providing the first ever 6m contacts
to the United States from VK9C and VK9X last fall
is a tough act to follow! In order to keep
up with this high standard, this year I am again
activating another new DXCC that has never been
contacted before on 6m from the United
States. I am confident it is also quite rare
in Europe, Africa and other countries in North and
South America! Since it
is the bottom of a very poor solar cycle, there
of course is no chance of making any long
distance contacts on 50 MHz via the
ionosphere. However, I believe I have
located a good site to operate EME (moonbounce),
and will be active there during optimum days of
the month and time of the year to take
advantage of the superb EME conditions afforded at
this point in the low solar cycle!
Since this country is VERY rare, I am
looking forward to providing 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 Nauru, 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 C2, and
think I finally found one that shows some promise.
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:
on Nauru can be found here.
local time is 12 hours ahead of UTC. The maps
show where in the world this remote place is
located - 1800 miles southeast of Guam, 1500
miles east of Papua New Guinea, 1400 miles
northwest of Fiji, and 700 miles northeast of
the Solomon Islands! I hope you will make
the effort to look for me!
The plans for the 6m station are essentially the same as used at VK9CGJ and VK9XGJ last year, although I have had to trim back the weight even more due to the more restrictive carry-on limits on the international airlines involved this year. I intend to use a Yaesu FT-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 240 VAC) 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). After connection failures in VK9 with the standard Yaesu 12 VDC power connector plug, I am also now using the NAPA #740234 for my 12 VDC connection to the FT-857.
Prior to the VK9 DXpeditions in 2017, 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 Version 3 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 will be using that as my mine receiver, since it worked so well from VK9. I also plan on using my MSI 17" inch gaming laptop with a large 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 6m EME DXpedition use.
A RIGblaster Plug & Play interface is used with my Windows 10 64 bit 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, and currently has features that make it easier to work pileups on EME. HOWEVER, I very well may use WSJT-X modes such as FT8 for beaconing or 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 there may be obstacles to the building that will require this extra length to work around. 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 western EU stations, since there may be 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 moonrises as published on the operating schedule. The antenna should have a good view at a height of 30' over the ocean, and it will soon become clear after a few moonrises which elevations are best for my ground gain lobes. 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 of my location in the South Pacific, the only possibility for ground gain with NA is during my moonrise or your moonset. Since the Degradation INCREASES and the EU window DECREASES after October 8, I expect most the activity to be between Sunday, October September 30 and Monday, October 8. Degradation is still acceptable and I certainly will have continued windows with eastern EU stations and all of NA for several days past that, so I will continue to be as active as possible.
NOTE TO ALL STATIONS: The days of lowest Degradation are October 5 to October 8, which includes a weekend ;-) How much more convenient can it be for you? However, please be aware that, after October 2, the Declination moves further south, which makes my moon even higher. So, especially for horizon-only NA stations, please pay attention to my elevation and try to 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 some 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! If you are in North America and you have a 6m EME array with elevation, PLEASE WAIT to call me after the moonset in western Europe!!!
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. I noticed that I was able to make some contacts even at high elevations when I was in VK9 last year, but many stations stayed away assuming that I would simply not try when the moon was high. 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. 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, 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 the lowest Degradation periods 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
Frenchtown, MT 59834-0073
If we have completed an EME contact, I am happy to QSL direct to you at no additional charge. 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!
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 ! 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 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 CW or SSB, or FT8 mode. For FT8, I will be using 50.313 MHz.
It is extremely expensive to haul a 6m EME station halfway around the world to this location - and the excess baggage charges alone are actually more expensive than the very expensive plane tickets! 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 keep my costs as low as possible, my travel, excess baggage and lodging costs alone will be over $8000. 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 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:
PHOTOS AND UPDATES
SUMMARY OF RESULTS