A week ago at 0630 am local time Frank DH7FB and I arrived back home at DF2ZC’s place in JO30RN. It was once again a very boring 850 km drive through the night but as it is not yet high season the ferry Jersey – France schedule is very basic: we only had the chance to leave the island at 1840 local (which is the same as UTC). So again we had to drive through France and Belgium at night. You love the illuminated Belgian motorways which help a lot against fatigue…
We did not expect many QSOs this time from GJ anyway as we were QRV from the same place 10 years ago and many ham friends had already worked that DXCC back then. However, we are still disappointed. We did not even copy a single station from Japan, for instance. On the other hand we completed with FK8CP right the first day – so moon bounce at moonrise worked. Rod ZL3NW who was also calling us the same time and also at moonrise the following day was never copied here, neither hpol nor vpol. Moreover, given we had both polarities available we do not know why none of you JA friends was seen on our screen. That is very sad.
Moreover…in the garden the small tree from 2010 had grown to a big one and blocked many hours of precious moon time. It had no leaves yet but apparently sap was already rising in the tree which made it a substantial obstacle between us and the moon. I remember that trees are said not to have such bad impacts on 144 MHz compared to higher frequencies but apparently here this tree did. A funny experience was that also the noise picked up substantially when we pointed the antennas to the tree. Electric noise from trees? Never heard of. But that effect was reproducable at any time. Behind the tree was just an open field with the next building some 200 m. The same was the case with a second tree in a bigger distance.
Also direction moonset we had only some 10 degrees azimuth available once the moon was right of the tree before suddenly noise increased by 10 – 15 dB. This was definitely from buildings but in the short time we were QRV we did not find out about the reasons.
Compared to our stay back in 2010 I feel we heard indeed not as well as then, though we had in general the same setup. Also we did not hear as well as in EA9 (during the periods down there with little or no noise). So…was the basic noise floor substantially higher at our place than in 2020? Maybe. On the other hand if we copied normal stations via moon – why did we not copy a single JA station at all?
Weather was pretty much different from April 2010 and also from last year in EA9, no surprise. We often had some misty foggy wx, often high winds, sometimes even heavy rain and mostly some kind of drizzle. However, there were also short periods of sun shine. At times we even had strong static noise which also did not make things a lot of fun.
Our short activity on 70 cm was quite successful. Though running only 150 watts at the antennas (2 x 16 ele flexayagi at some 16-17 dBd max we quickly completed with 6 stations though being QRP only. That 70 cm day was once again a rainy day. As we had placed the amp on a bench close to the antenna we had to take care that no water could enter the chassis. My barbour wax jacket did a good job and therefore spent the night outside on the amp.
The time between the moons we spent making some tropo QSOs to DL/F/ON/PA in the range of 800 km max. This was a little surprise because our antenna was just 2 ½ m above ground, good for eme but not for tropo. However, direction central Europa was a slow slope down-hill the first 2 km, then the sea and at the horizon France. Therefore the effect of the small antenna height was not as bad as it could have been. Also on 70 cm we made tropo QSOs up to 700 km. Moreover we completed a bunch of meteor scatter contacts of 2 m.
The rest of the time we spent at the local pub where we were soon greated just like locals, travelling the island, checking equipment and trying to find the reasons for the low performance as well as argueing with one another.
On the 14th we felt lucky to be back in France because it was not sure whether the ferryes would perhaps be suspended due to COVIC-19. Since we feel our results this time were below the expected we would not rule out travelling to GJ again – and not again in 10 years. Only to give that DXCC to those who still need it. Then maybe from another location – or not. At least with more that the 30 m antenna cable we had so that we could then use an antenna location further away from that tree. We feel we still are in debt to so many ham friends, especially but not only in JA. It wasn’t meant to be…or as Frank DH7FB always says: “You can’t milk a bull”.
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