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Pitcairn Island DXpedition Offers Tips on Working VP6R on FT8


The contact count for the VP6R Pitcairn Island DXpedition was approaching 50,000 as of October 24. Stormy weather put a bit of a damper on things, however.

“Late yesterday, we were hit with a tropical storm with torrential rain and gale force-plus winds,” DXpedition leader Glenn Johnson, W0GJ, reported on Thursday. “We had several antennas come down, but they are repairable and will be back up when it is safe to go outside.”

Johnson said VP6R has experienced great band conditions from 160 to 10 meters. “We had a very successful night on 60 meters (5.357 MHz) 2 days ago and will be on again. We are using FT8 in fox/hound (F/H) mode.” VP6R has been working a lot of FT8 on all bands except 160 and Johnson said the digital protocol has been putting a lot of new and unique call signs into the log. VP6R anticipates using FT8 on 160 starting on Tuesday, October 29, on 1.836 MHz.

“Most DXpeditions, including VP6R, are using fox/hound mode,” Johnson noted. “If you are not in F/H mode when you call us, it will be impossible to make contact. Make sure the radio tab has split selected and that you have selected ‘hound’ mode on the advanced tab,” he stressed. “If the hound is using the wrong software version, it does not respond properly to the fox. The message formats are not compatible. The fox will call the hound three times, and then they are dropped.

Johnson said operators seeking to snag VP6R on FT8 must be using WSJT-X version 2.1.0 in F/H mode and in split mode in the software (not the radio). Transmit frequency must be above 1,000 Hz.

“When conditions are good and everyone has FT8 set up properly, we have seen peak rates over 1,000 contacts/hour and often sustained rates of 400 contacts/hour from a single station,” Johnson said. “And, yes, it is possible for one person to operate two stations at once. We do it often.”

Johnson reported two successful schedules with Dorothy Grant Elementary School (K6DGE) in Fontana, California. “It has been fun to chat with the kids and answer questions,” he said. “We love their enthusiasm.”

VP6R expects to shut down temporarily at around 2200 UTC on Friday, October 25, to get ready to participate in the CQ World Wide SSB contest in the multi-multi category. After the contest VP6R will return to DXpedition mode until October 31.



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