Dienstag, 24. März 2020

Final Report

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”.

Direct QSLs via DF2ZC with 3 $ and SAE or better an address sticker. Or via paypal request with QSO data and address to xteamdxp@gmail.com

Samstag, 14. März 2020

Preparing For Travel Home

We are breaking down the station now in the typical drizzle rain here and are preparing for our travel home. The ferry is leaving at 1830Z on the 14th and will arrive in France at 2005Z. Then some 850 km car drive through the night are waiting for us to JO30RN. After a breakfast at DF2ZC's place DH7FB will then continue some 650 km to Berlin.

The latter is also the reason we decided against operating two or three hours today early morning. The risk of alling asleep while driving seems too high.

A more detailed report on the entire activity will follow some time next week here by DF2ZC.

Freitag, 13. März 2020

Moon Pass March 12th/13th

Complete QSOs:

Not Complete:

Donnerstag, 12. März 2020

Moon Pass March 11th/12th

This pass we were QRV on 70 cm with about 150 watts at the antenna and 2 x 16 ele flexayagi.

Complete QSOs:

When the antennas beamed into the tree we stopped and returned around 0300 UTC for the American window. However, no caller was copied during two hours so we stopped.

We placed the amp on a bench close to the antennas and secured it with DF2ZC's wax jacket against the rain, see pictures below.

Now we are changing back for 144 MHz. We will start at 2200Z our moonrise today 12th. Only, within 20 minutes we could loose moon then because of the tree. We will then suspend operations and return between 0400 and 0500 Z until we loose moon.

 View into the shack...room getting chilly at night due to open window foer letting the cables in.

 The 70 cm antennas.

 DF2ZC's wax jacket keeping the amp dry.

Mittwoch, 11. März 2020

Moon Pass March 10th/11th

Complete QSOs:

Not complete:

For whatever reason we did not copy a single staion from Japan yet.

The little tree from 2010 has grown into a large one until now which means that at a certain QTF we are beaming straight into it and losing the signals. Sometimes we also feel we have an elevated noise floor here. This was different ten years ago. To make things worse today we had rain most of the time and a very windy, misty weather. We hope for improvement...

Dienstag, 10. März 2020

Moon Pass March 9th/10th

Complete QSOs:

Not Complete:

After a 10 hour night drive from JO30RN and bumpy ferry crossing Jersey welcomed us with sunshine and nice weather - which sadly did not last long. Setup inhouse was quickly completed, outside it took a little longer for a number of different reasons but was finally completed at 1300Z. After 1400Z we made some tropo QSOs in FT8 with JO30, JO31 (roughly 700 km) with loud signals though our antennas were at just 2 m height only which meant everything was working fine. At moonrise we look a little downhill slope with the sea in about 2 km and France at the horizon.

Before we started operations on our dedicated frequency 144,114 MHz we ran two skeds with stations from Oceania and New Zealand on a different frequency for reasons of their really short window with us which is even getting shorter and shorter every day. We trust everybody will understand the reasons. At least with FK8CP (RG37FR) we completed a QSO.

Next moonpath which starts at 1918Z we will again try the 15 minutes common window with  ZL3NW on a different frequency and we ask please not to call in. Then we'll move to .114, MJ/DH7FB calling first. We will stay up until we loose moon due to the building but we should still see the Western USA before.

Some trouble arose with local French and GJ stations believing they needed to call us in JT65, SSB and CW while we were doing EME, and sometimes just tuning on our frequency. That was no fun and destroyed some QSOs. We hope this situation will not return next pass.

WX was not our friend, it's cold, very windy and was raining heavily last night. Long periods we had S5 - S9 static noise which finally killed our preamp. Since it was 2200 h local here and one of us was already sleeping after having stayed up > 36 hours without sleep operations were ceased: A single person at night with just a torch could not replace a LNA in our LNA box while it was raining heavily. Now the LNA is replaced and we look forward to a successful 2nd moon pass from here.

70 cm operations are scheduled for Wednesday.

Please use Lance W7GJ Procedure!
In order to help us use the time efficiently and speed up the QSO process we ask you all to use the W7GJ EME procedure. It is described at the right side at "How To Maximize Chances Working Us".

                                                   Can you find the antennas on the picture?