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Baker Island KH1/KH7Z DXpedition Team Bracing for “Grim” Propagation


The 2018 KH1/KH7Z Baker Island DXpedition, set to get under way on June 27 and continue until July 7, is preparing for less-than-ideal conditions. The sponsoring Dateline DX Association (DDXA) said this week that its 15 operators are planning to maximize the times they will be available to work into propagation-challenged regions of the world. Their effort will include round-the-clock operation on 20 meters. DDXA has permission from the Pacific Islands Refuges & Monuments Office of the US Fish and Wildlife Service to pursue an Amateur Radio expedition to Baker Island National Wildlife Refuge (KH1).

“The 2018 DXpedition to Baker Island occurs during the declining side of the solar cycle where propagation is usually much, much worse, nearing the bottom,” a Baker Island DXpedition news release pointed out this week. “In addition, there are limited hours of darkness in some Northern Hemisphere locations.”

The DXpedition has embedded tools on its website that DXers can use to run propagation forecasts specific to grid square and “station properties.”

“We have also run these forecasts by geographic area to know when we should be listening for you,” the DXpedition organizers said this week. “The forecasts are grim.” The DXpedition said operators “don’t expect to hear any signals” at noontime on Baker Island, and will use those occasions to take a meal break.

“Our network of worldwide pilots will also report how well we are being heard in your area to keep us abreast of propagation,” the news release added. Operation is planned on SSB, CW, RTTY, and FT8.

The DXpedition’s permit restricts antennas to 43-foot verticals. “We will be using SteppIR [verticals] and special-design antennas to take advantage of the saltwater ground,” the release said. KH1/KH7Z also will use FT8 to find openings that may not be all that obvious and to serve as a beacon. “When we find an opening, we will put as many radios/modes/ops on as we can,” the organizers pledged. The DXpedition will use the latest version of WSJT-X software to incorporate the FT8 “DXpedition Mode,” and the DXpedition has been working with developers for the past several months to smooth out the wrinkles in that operating protocol.

The team has also published its planned operating frequencies. The KH1/KH7Z DXpedition will field seven operating positions.

Baker/Howland Islands (KH1) is the fifth most-wanted DXCC entity, and the DXpedition will focus on providing “all-time new one” (ATNO) contacts.




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