PAGE UNDER CONSTRUCTION AND SUBJECT TO REVISIONS



W7GJ 6m EME DXpedition
August 23 - September 30, 2024*

Tristan da Cunha

(Grid Locator IF32uw, CQ Zone 38, IOTA AF-029, ITU Zone 66)

                          
 
* Dependent on shipping schedules and space availability.

  Antenna Location at 200' above the ocean on the northwest corner of the island in the settlement of Edinbuurgh of the Seven Seas
  


AN OPERATION TO ACTIVATE ANOTHER DXCC FOR THE FIRST TIME ON 6M EME

Tristan da Cunha is a British Overseas Territory; it is one of the remaining former colonies which have not yet asked for independence, and wish specifically to retain their link with the United Kingdom.  For Tristan, the link dates back to 1816, when the island was garrisoned by Britain.  It has never been activated on EME on any band, and remains quite rare around the world on 6m. It is home to under 250 residents, who live in the small settlement of Edinburgh Of The Seven Seas, located on the northwest corner of the volcanic island. Its proximity to Antarctica places it in an extremely isolated and stormy region in the south Atlantic Ocean.

INTRODUCTION

Continuing the efforts to provide the first ever 6m EME contacts from rare DXCC, this is probably the most difficult and challenging I have faced so far. I have tried for some time to got to ZD9, but was told at the end of 2022 that my berth from Capetown to Tristan da Cunha had to be re-assigned to a government contractor who had been delayed due to the previous Pandemic travel restrictions. I have been placed high on the waiting list to travel to ZD9 in late August, 2024, so I will work hard to make it happen this time! In order to provide sufficient advance planning for stations wishing to contact me while I am in ZD9, I am providing plenty of advance notice of this DXpedition.

As you know, a good location can mean everything to the success of one of these DXpeditions. Ideally, the site must be quiet, provide enough open space to erect and operate the large antenna and - especially from a location as distant from potential contacts as ZD9 - must provide a good view of the moon rising and setting out over the ocean. I am hoping to be able to secure a spot for the antenna that will at least provide a good view out over the ocean on moonset.  The location on the northwest tip of the island is shown on the map above. The other maps show where in the world this remote place is located.  I hope you will make the effort to look for me!





 
LOGISTICS

Much of the trip depends on the availability of berths aboard the ships making the approximately one week trip sailing from Capetown, South Africa. These spots are very limited, and there are seven categories of travelers that have higher priority than me. So, anybody in those categories could once again block my ability to get a spot on the ship. You can see these different categories here:

https://www.tristandc.com/shipping.php

Ideally, I am hoping to be able to travel to Tristan da Cunha on the MV Lance during its August voyage, and return to Capetown in early October either on the MV Lance or the SA Agulhas II. I don't expect to be able to have my booking confirmed until a month or so before sailing, so the return trip schedule probably will not be known until I am in Tristan da Cunha. It should be possible to follow my progress on this vessel tracking page: https://www.vesselfinder.com/?imo=7638351


For general planning purposes, I would be leaving home  around August 12 and plan to finally arrive in TDC sometime  August 23.  I would plan to tear down and pack around the end of September and return to Africa  during the first week of October. 
However, I hope to have everything operational in plenty of time for the optimum EME conditions.  I may even be QRV during the ARRL VHF Contest September 14-16!  Much of my operation will depend on the ship's actual schedule and the weather, which I expect to be brutal! I expect to have only occasional internet access from another building and hope to be able to announce my status via email and the ON4KST EME CHAT or HB9Q LOGGER pages, and periodically update my log of EME contacts on this web page.

This period does include the lowest Degradation days of the month, which take place during a full moon, just before the ARRL EME contest weekend on September 21-22 ( I don't know yet if that is the weekend that includes 6m operations). For me, at least on the best days, this means EME operation during the night, which
is the ideal time to avoid high TEC interference from locations so close to the geomagnetic equator. And I hope to be QRV over several weekends, and in the middle of the night, so no need to take time off from work! 




I will do everything in my power to set up on the west side of the settlement so I can at least have an unimpeded view out over open fields toward the ocean on moonsets. The diagrams above show  a view out over the water through the north between azimuths 70 and 263 degrees. I should have good common moon windows with horizon-only stations all over the world at one time or another during the operation. I know many EU stations have already worked ZD9, but I will have mutual moonsets with many stations there.



EQUIPMENT

As you can see from reviewing the results from my 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 in  the many situations in which we should both have ground gain at the same time! A complete description of all the equipment being used on this DXpedition can be found here.

OPERATING SCHEDULE

My tentative operating schedule as an Excel spreadsheet is here, and  in pdf format is here. The ZD9 local time is  the same as UTC. On the operating schedule, I have indicated times when the elevation is over 50 degrees by marking those cells in red.  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, or if I have already worked stations whose moon is on the horizon, or if the weather prevents me from operating during those periods.  Please check on the ON4KST EME CHAT page or the HB9Q LOGGER for updates regarding my activity during such periods. Please just keep watch on 50.213 and I will try to stick to the published schedule as closely as I can. I am expecting extreme weather that also may very well limit my ability to untie the antenna. A file with my moon positions during the trip is here.

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 and moonsets as published on the operating schedule.  The antenna should have a good view at a height of around 120' over the ocean, and it will soon become clear after a few moonpasses 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. 
I will be using Q65-60A in the "Q65 Pileup" mode in the most recent version of WSJT-X. This averages callers on their particular offset frequencies, so NEVER change your transmit frequency after you start calling - pick a clear frequency nobody else is using and stay on itWith Q65 Pileup, it is very important for me to decode you so you will then go into the current version of my "Active Stations List" so I can decode you during other sequences with maximum sensitivity. Please coordinate your calling frequency with others on the ON4KST EME chat or HB9Q LOGGER pages to prevent interfering with each other - ideally, stations should be spread out every 100 Hz (remember that your doppler shift can be up to 100 Hz during your moonrise and moonset). 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.  
 


CONTACT INFORMATION

As explained above, I hope to be able to send out updates periodically to the MAGIC BAND EME email group and revise this website 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  are very limited, and many stations are expected to be calling.  

QSL INFORMATION
Sorry, no eQSL or other newfangled ways of confirmation. I will upload all contacts to LOTW upon my return home. Please let me know of any logging discrepancies, as I can correct any errors by referring to my paper logbooks as well as the WSJT-X ALL.TXT file. I also will be printing photo QSL cards.  If we have completed an EME contact, I plan to send you a QSL card to your QRZ.com mailing address. Other stations, please QSL DIRECT with SASE (foreign stations include a current IRC or $2 USD for postage) direct to:

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


FREQUENCY, MODE AND SEQUENCE
For EME, I plan to operate on 50.213 MHz. I will always transmit in the first sequence Q65-60A using "Q65 Pileup" mode.  Please call me using either Q65-Pileup or NA VHF Contest Mode  from the most recent version of WSJT-X. Please DO NOT call me using any other modes. I will not be sending signal reports - in NA Contest Mode, only the grids are exchanged! So if you want to get in the log, make sure to spread the word to get on WSJT-X and operate in NA VHF CONTEST mode, which is the most sensitive for me to decode with Q65 Pileup mode on my end, and also results in faster contacts. And this will NOT work well with compound callsigns!!  That is why I will have the ZD9GJ callsign and I suggest that you just send me your callsign and grid, even if you are operating portable. Do NOT call me with a /P or /R or /# after your callsign - your grid will show where you are!

Here is the link to download the most recent version of WSJT-X:

https://wsjt.sourceforge.io/wsjtx.html

Often, more frequent updates are included in the WSJT-X IMPROVED version, which is here:

https://sourceforge.net/projects/wsjt-x-improved/

Here is my step-by-step checklist to setting up Q65-60A for success on EME:

http://www.bigskyspaces.com/w7gj/Q65SETUP.pdf


And here is a more detailed explanation of the DXpedition procedure I am using:

http://www.bigskyspaces.com/w7gj/DXpedition%20Procedure%20with%20Q65.pdf

Remember, PLEASE, DO NOT USE A SINGLE RR73 to try to complete a contact with me! Change your messages so you send RRR instead, for as long as it is needed! (Just double click on message # 4 to toggle back and forth between RR73 and RRR).

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 ! 
It is very inconvenient for me to switch modes while I am calling CQ or working EME stations, so please do not call me on CW or SSB or FT8 and expect me to switch over to answer you. If you should copy me on some ionospheric mode while I am pointed at the moon and am calling CQ on Q65-60A mode, please answer me in that mode and let's make a quick contact! Please do NOT call me on anything other than EME unless I am calling CQ! Please only contact me once! Do NOT interrupt me if I have already contacted you before!

When I am not aimed up at the moon, I very well may be on SSB or FT8 mode.  For FT8, I will be using the most recent version of WSJT-X on 50.313 MHz If signals are strong and there are many callers, I may switch to FT4 on 50.318. If those frequencies are too busy, I will try somewhere else and will announce the QSY on the air.

CONTRIBUTIONS
It is extremely expensive to haul a 6m EME station halfway around the world to this location. 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 pm 6m EME, 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 for this operation will be staggering. And there are no amateur radio clubs or associations that provide funds for EME DXpeditions (they only support HF DXpeditions). Therefore, any contributions toward this 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
using the "FRIENDS AND FAMILY" option 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 generous 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:
KJ9I, SM7FJE, KB7Q, K5QE, N7NR, K5XI, K7CW, N0TB, OH7KM, SP4MPB, K2ZD, G4BWP, G8VR, N4BAA, W6UC, ZL3NW, JE3GRQ, SP3RNZ, EA8DBM
 
    
MNI MNI TNX for your continued support!!

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

PHOTOS AND UPDATES

(more photos and updates may be available on my FACEBOOK page)



















SUMMARY OF RESULTS


FOLLOWING ARE THE LOGGED 6M EME CONTACTS DURING the ZD9GJ DXPEDITION




This page last revised on 15 February 2024


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