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VK0EK, FT4JA DXpeditions Report from the Field

04/02/2016

The VK0EK and FT4JA DXpeditions have issued updates from their respective sides of the pileups. VK0EK will remain at a single site on Heard Island. The FT4JA DXpedition on Juan de Nova has upgraded its antennas for 160 and 80 meters. Both DXpeditions — sometimes operating on the same mode and in the same band — have been attracting huge numbers of callers. Both DXpeditions are operating split at all times. The VK0EK operators are listening down from their transmit frequency; the FT4JA operators are listening up. Do not transmit on the DX transmit frequency.

“From early in the conception of this project, we planned to activate two sites — a main location with all bands at Atlas Cove, and a limited operation for a short period from Spit Bay on the other side of Heard Island,” a statement released by VK0EK Radio Team Leader Dave Lloyd, K3EL, and DXpedition Leader Bob Schmieder, KK6EK. “The Spit Bay operation was designed to improve our ability to make contacts to western and central North America, which, from Atlas Cove, is the other side of Big Ben, the 9000-foot volcano in the center of Heard Island. However, now that the operation from Atlas Cove is well under way, we are finding good openings to the West Coast on many bands. We are very aware of the areas that still have a huge need and will work hard to work you in these areas.”

Lloyd and Schmieder said that as the VK0EK DXpedition is approximately halfway over, the team has to consider its most productive strategy, and that continuing with a full complement of operators from Atlas Cove will be the most effective approach.

The FT4JA DXpedition entered its fourth day and its first weekend, and operators are getting into a daily routing of operating, eating, and sleeping — keeping a daily contact count in excess of 10,000.

“Up to seven stations are on the air simultaneously. It is not possible, of course, to keep them active all the time with 10 ops,” an FT4JA update from Juan de Nova said. “We are managing operator’s shifts to activate as many of them during best propagation period.” The FT4JA team said the best band seems to be 15 meters, and it is attempting to keep one station on CW and another on SSB. From FT4JA off the southeastern coast of Africa, Europe is the easiest content to work, but the team said it is doing its best to listen for Asia, Oceania, and the Americas anytime propagation allows.

FT4JA reported that it has somewhat improved its receive antennas for 80 and 160 meters, but added that there is still “an issue” with Europe and North America. The team installed two phased pennants and reversible Beverages. “The one in direction of Japan is working fine. Already 800 stations have been logged on Top Band,” the team said in its update. It’s also shifted its transmit frequency on 160 meters up slightly to 1821 kHz to avoid fishing buoy signals.

The FT4JA team has two tents on the north beach of Juan de Nova for its “radio camp.” The operators are staying a 25-minute walk away, on the southern part of the island. “We are trying to minimize our moves as much as possible, because with heat and mosquitoes, all is complicated!”



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