Dxing.Today Issue 1 25 October 2017
Editor: Nick VK2DX Co-Editor: Dragan 4O4A
*** We have survived
If there is one lot of good news to report then it has to be this: we have survived our first week! Launching a new ham radio project is always a nerve-racking exercise. Our friends asked: who is your target audience? Who are you competing with for readership? And, quite brutally, they wanted to know why in the world would we even bother producing such a time-consuming Bulletin when DX news is plentifully available online?
The answer is simple: we would write, play radios and talk DXing even if we had no readers at all. We simply can't help ourselves.
However, to our surprise, quite a few responded to our request for SWL reports and logs, which is very encouraging to say the least. Dragan 4O4A and myself are grateful for your support and positive feedback. We kindly ask for your patience until we sort out the layout and reporting issues. In the meantime, please keep sending your comments, reports and general feedback to info@DXing.Today.
Once again, we truly appreciate your company here.
*** Past week on 80m
A short urban back yard 80m vertical, sunrise.
In general, the overall band condition has worsened a bit since the beginning of October. The QRN level remains high; and there were only 2 mornings with some semi-decent openings to Europe. At times, the ever-annoying Over The Horizon radar wiped out most of the 80m band. If I had to bet my money on it this one is located either in China or Russia with antennas pointing south because it causes little interference to NA.
However, despite rather average conditions, the faithful were rewarded: T2AR ( op Tony 3D2AG) operating from Tuvalu was on air every night. Cliff VK9VKL is now more active and has been recorded working in the US West Coast as well as Europe and Asia. What a great catch - Christmas Island! Low power Europeans had their share of fun too: OH0KCE, OX/OZ1LXJ, EA9BO, 9H1SS, HB0WR and Z33F. The big surprise from Asia: a brief appearance of AP2HA, op Hasnat from Islamabad. Unfortunately not too loud, but workable in Eu.
Working your first 100 DXCC on 80m FT8 is really a matter of dedication and persistence. Patience beats the power so the DXing tactic is simple; you hang in there waiting for that very special opening, and sooner or later, it will happen.
*** WAZ activity report (all 80m FT8)
This week reports were kindly contributed by VK7BO, DK8ZZ, YU1FW, YT7DX and your editors.
KL7J 19 Oct 2017 07:11
VE8EV 21 Oct 2017 15:26
KL7KY 24 Oct 2017
NR (no reports)
ZONES 3, 4 and 5
See WAS, below
XE1GPD 22 Oct 2017 05:10
XE1GOX 22 Oct 2017 05:10
TI5/N5BEK 20 Oct 09:45
KG4HF 18 Oct 2017 09:57
CO3LT 20 Oct 10:00
YV5KAJ 24 Oct 03:00
HK3J 24 Oct 02:30
PY7DJ 18 Oct 2017 01:05
ZP4KFX 20 Oct 2916 09:07 AGAIN WORKING JA ONLY
LU8EX 21 Oct 2017 08:45
LU5FLM 21 Oct 2017 09:20
LU8EX 20 Oct 2017 09:15 JAs
VP8LP 21 Oct 2017 21:30 In his sunset, South EU, JA
HB0WR 19 Oct 2017 03:54
MI0SLE 21 Oct 2017 16:50 Excellent signal, in QSOs with UA9
LX1TI 23 Oct 2017 17:35
LX1DA 23 Oct 2017 20:45
OM3EY 23 Oct 2017 18:00 Strong
GI0HWO 23 Oct 2017 19:35
Z33F 20 Oct 2017 19:00 OP Zoran, max 100W and dipole
OZ1W 20 Oct 2017 18:15 Strong in VK
9H1SS 21 Oct 19:25
ER1PB 18 Oct 2017 00:05
UA3ALE 20 Oct 2017 13:00 Very loud in VK2
ER3KS 21 Oct 2017 19:10
R8CA 18 Oct 2017 01:25
RA9LAN 19 Oct 2017 19:00
UN6TA 19 Oct 2017 14:50
UN6GAV 21 Oct 2017 18:20
UN1O 21 Oct 2017 19:13 LOUD
RK9UE 18 Oct 2017 16:00 very active
RA0R 18 Oct 2017 18:50 weak
R9YW 20 Oct 2017 12:30
RW0SJ 20 Oct 2017 23:00
RA0SMS 18 Oct 2017 17:29 CQing very loud in VK2
RW0LGR 19 Oct 2017 10:49 great signal
UA0DBX 20 Oct 2017 12:30 great signal
RA0FF 21 Oct 2017 08:30
4X4MF 10 Oct 2017 19:48
4X1SK 21 Oct 2017 17:40
TA0LKJ 21 Oct 2017 19:15
TA2JU 24 Oct 2017 19:00
4K6N 19 Oct 2017 19:50
9K2OD 21 Oct 2017 19:36
4K8DUE 21 Oct 2017 22:25
AP2HA 22 Oct 2017 18:00 Weak in EU
A45XR 23 Oct 2017 19:36
VU2IT 18 Oct 2017 00:05 Almost daily active
VU2ABS 18 Oct 2017 00:05
VU2MSA 19 Oct 2017 14:15
VU2ABS 22 Oct 2017 18:45
4S6RYD 19 Oct 2017 15:30 new 4S
BA1PK 18 Oct 13:50
BV2FB 22Oct 10:56
VR2XNL 22 Oct 18:39
HS0ZEE 18 Oct 2017 15:30 CQing with no takers
HS0ZEE 21 Oct 2017 14:45
DU2FIS 22 Oct 2017 14:00
DU7GM 23 Oct 2017 19:40 QSOs with EUs
YB0COU 18 Oct 2017 12:00
YG7SPN 18 Oct 2017 17:50
YC1CWK 18 Oct 2017 13:20
YE6YE 18 Oct 2017 13:20
YC3BLJ 18 Oct 2017 18:40 new on 80m ft8
YB7SKM 18 Oct 2017 19:00 new on 80m ft8
9M2/JE2SCJ 21 Oct 2017 16:00
VK9VKL 19 Oct 14:50 Wkd VK6, YB, W6, OH, LY
VK8NSB 20 Oct 12:07
VK6DW 20 Oct 13:30
VK6AS 21 Oct 13:10
VK3JLS 19 Oct 11:50
VK7ZGK 19 Oct 19:00
VK7AM 20 Oct 13:36
KH6U 18 Oct 2017 09:50 Loud in VK
T2AR 22 Oct 2017 13:29 via:3D2AG
3D2TS 19 Oct 10:44 CQing
ZL1HD 19 Oct 11:20
ZL2IFB 19 Oct 18:30
E51WL 23 Oct
ZL3HAM 23 Oct 18:38
EA8NL 22 Oct 2017 00:00 Working USA
EA8ARI 23 Oct 2017 19:45
XT2AW 19 Oct 2017 05:07
TR8CA 24 Oct 2017 05:00
ZS2EZ 19 Oct 17:50
ZS1A 19 Oct 18:12
ZS5LEE 18 Oct 17:30
3B8CW 18 Oct 17:30
TF2MSN 21 Oct 2017 22:20
TF2MSN 23 Oct 2017 20:35
*** WAS 80m FT8, some of the most reported stations
AK KL7J 21 Oct 2017 07:30
AZ N7IR 20 Oct 2017 13:36
K7DD 21 Oct 2017 13:53
CA W6CYX N6TE 21 Oct 2017
CO K6XT 20 Oct 2017 12:53
W0MU 20 Oct 2017 13:34
DE W3DKT 19 Oct 2017 11:30 weak
N3EJS 24 Oct 2017 03:45
ID KG7CW 19 Oct 2017 11:20
IN AG9S 18 Oct 2017 03:00 Decoded for 30 minutes in EU, decent signal
LA NA5Q 20 Oct 2017 11:00 Very loud and very active
MD K3RA 19 Oct 2017 11:00 Super strong in VK2
ME K1UO 22 Oct 2017 11:03
MN WB0N 20 Oct 2017 12:40 weak but workable
W0ELM 20 Oct 2017 12:42
MO K0UA 21 Oct 2017 06:50 Working ZLs
N0BQV 24 Oct 2017 03:25 4O4A Working EUs
NC N1UK 19 Oct 2017 11:30 Super strong in VK2
NJ W2HTS 22 Oct 2017 11:30
NM KQ5M 20 Oct 2017 13:20 weak
K5WO 20 Oct 2017 13:35
OK K5RKS 24 Oct 2017 04:40 4O4A
OR KB7MM 21 Oct 2017 14:06
TX K5HX 20 Oct 2017 12:40
N5BCA 23 Oct 2017 04:00
WS5W 23 Oct 2017 05:00 4O4A Very strong
VA K0LB 21 Oct 2012 06:35
K7EV 07:30 21 Oct 2012
WI WG0G 20 Oct 2017 12:42
AT1 AT1FI 15M 21074 18 Oct 2017 09:13 FT8
EN90 EN90QDG 20M 14011 18 Oct 2017 09:50 CW via: UR6QR
TM62 TM62GREF 160M 1823 18 Oct 2017 03:09 CW
R19 R19FYS 20M 14016 18 Oct 2017 09:24 CW
RA19 RA19WF 17M 18137 18 Oct 2017 09:20 SSB
RC19 RC19WF 20M 14202 18 Oct 2017 09:22 SSB
RK19 RK19WF 20M 14147 18 Oct 2017 09:47 SSB
RL19 RL19WF 20M 14028 18 Oct 2017 09:25 CW
RM19 RM19WL 15M 21023 18 Oct 2017 09:00 CW
Z370 Z370M 20M 14033 18 Oct 2017 09:39 CW
DR60 DR60SAL 40M 7112.9 19 Oct 2017 06:02 SSB
FK4 FK4QX 15M 21222 19 Oct 2017 06:17 SSB
RQ19 RQ19WF 20M 14025 19.Oct 2017 09:10 CW
TC10 TC10L 20M 14236 20 Oct 2017 07:23 SSB
E24 E24NQN 15M 21030 20 Oct 2017 08:10 CW
EI55 EI55WAW 20M 14188 20 Oct 2017 11:14 SSB
A60 A60JOTA 17M 18140 20 Oct 2017 11:00 SSB
SC90 SC90SM 17M 18139 20 Oct 2017 10:23 SSB
SW44 SW44M 15M 21160 22 Oct 2017 08:04 SSB
SU60 SU60J 20M 14185 22 Oct 2017 08:20 SSB
SW44 SW44M 20M 14178.1 SS Oct 2017 14:36 SSB via: DK2PZ
AF-039 3C0L 160M 1819 18 Oct 2017 02:11 CW QSX up
OC-100 H40GC 15M 21275 19 Oct 2017 05:45 SSB via: LZ1GC
AF-096 3XY3D/P 15M 21260 20 Oct 2017 07:22 SSB via: F5OZC
AF-021 ZS8Z 10M 28076 20 Oct 2017 10:51 FT8 via: ZS1LS
EU-148 F6KOP/P 20M 14183 22 Oct 2017 14:44 SSB via: F6KOP
AS-127 S21ZAS 17M 18081 23 Oct 2017 08:00 CW via: SM6CVX
EU-125 5Q4X 40M 7125 23 Oct 2017 09:00 SSB
AS-003 4S7AYG 40M 7003 23 Oct 2017 18:18 CW via:M0URX
9AFF 0057 9A1C/P 40M 7154 1340 SSB
SPFF 0550 SP5UUD/P 80M 3714 05:03 SSB
SPFF 0051 SP5ZIM/P 80M 3717 05:44 SSB
OKFF 0743 OK1VEI/P 40M 7166 08:22 SSB
YLFF 163 YL3DQ/P 30M 10120 05:31 CW
OZFF 0182 OZ7PR/P 40M 7152.5 07:05 SSB
SPFF 1443 SP4SHW/P 40M 7148 06:47 SSB
SPFF 1508 SP8BBK/P 40M 7144 06:41 SSB
SPFF 1016 SP5UUD/P 40M 7076 09:19 SSB
SPFF 1016 SP5ZIM/P 40M 7076 09:33 SSB
OZFF 0004 5Q4X 40M 7125 09:00 SSB
Z3FF0018 Z33IKN/P 20M 14244 12:59 SSB
*** "It is not the call sign that makes the ham"
Interview with VE3LYC
If you are an IOTA chaser (Islands On The Air programme) then there is no doubt that you have most likely managed a contact or two with Dr Cezar Trifu, VE3LYC. Known to his amateur friends simply as Cezar, he is the man who activated some of the most remote and isolated islands from Alaska, over the Pacific and to South America. Over the years of my radio 'career' I have only met a handful of operators who were as passionate and dedicated as him. As I type this newsletter, I have in front of me one of my most precious QSL cards: KL7/VE3LYC - Cezar's expedition to Cooper Island NA-172. Not only did he 'give' me a new IOTA, but he managed to copy my 5 watts signal.
To put it simply: this is what we call skill - and this is what separates good operators from superb ones.
On your behalf, I've asked him a few questions which will hopefully provide some insight into what it takes to be VE3LYC.
Q: Cezar, according to your online profile, your dad was an amateur radio operator who held the callsign before WW2 and after the war was one of the founding members of The Romanian Radio Association. Not many amateurs could claim such a heritage. What was the 'nerdiest' thing you did as a kid? And if your dad was still around today, would you take him DXing with you?
A: My father Lionel (YR5TI) was one of the founding members of The Romanian Amateur Radio Association in 1936, which was formally accepted at IARU the next year. I treasure the handwritten resolution of their constitution meeting, along with the note of payment to the authorities based on which their decision became official. I was aware of this as a child by browsing the QST issues of September and October 1937, in which IARU’s representatives W1AL and VE2AP described their official trip to Europe, including a short visit in Romania. However, I only learned over the internet, after my move to Canada, that my father was also part of a small group of hams who petitioned the new authorities in 1948 for the re-instatement of amateur radio in Romania. Given the socio-political scene in post WW2 Romania at the time, I think that it was a pretty brave move. This petition was actually successful and The Romanian Radio Amateur Federation was shortly thereafter created under the auspices of the Ministry of Sports.
As a kid, I was a very fast learner, studying at two schools for the first eight years: the general school, and the school of arts and music, which made for a pretty busy schedule. Meanwhile, I was fiercely competitive, which must have put me in the ‘nerds’ category. My father returned to amateur radio as YO3TU in 1967, and a year later I got my SWL license, before high school. I had a passion for travel and adventure for as long as I can remember, but starting in high-school I began to travel by hitchhiking, going to some of the most remote corners of the country. This kept feeding my interests for history, ethnography, and archaeology. Adventure-wise, I became interested in mountain climbing and caves, looking to discover, with friends, some of nature’s amazing underground wonders.
Q: Activating a remote country is a logistical challenge in itself; however, operating from an atoll in the middle of the Pacific or an Alaskan island is an extreme challenge, even for a group of operators. Yet often, you go DXing alone. Are you simply too brave? Which operation pushed you to the limit, both mentally and physically, and what was the one thing you've promised yourself you will never do again?
A: I consider myself both a pretty curious and determined person, but not brave. I do put a considerable amount of time and preparation into the logistics of any trip, including various contingencies to maximize the possibility of success. Funds are limited and it would be a pity to waste them by erring on the side of logistics. Additionally, safety of the entire crew is and will always be the top priority. Travelling to remote places takes us out of our immediate comfort zone, putting us temporarily in some unusual habitats, often under adverse weather conditions. Despite a careful evaluation of what may come our way, we remain subjected to whatever nature will throw at us, and we most certainly need some grit to cope with the harshest aspects of some endeavours.
There is no doubt that I haven’t reached my limit of endurance, but the trip to Gilmore Island, the largest of the Ottawa Islands, in the Canadian Arctic (VY0O, NA-230), was probably the one that pushed me the hardest physically. We almost sunk off the coast of the island, in the middle of the night, looking for a landing place offering the best protection against the changing weather conditions. Mentally, it was perhaps the three and a half days spent alone on East Pen Is. (VY0V, NA-231), without water, gas, and fire, in winter conditions, which represented the biggest challenge.
Q: How long does it take to plan, organize and execute a solo IOTA operation? Apart from the obvious - finding the time, organizing travel arrangements, funding, preparing radios and antennas - what else is crucial?
A: In order to minimize possible mishaps in the case of daring projects, I believe that in-depth research of the local conditions is essential. Although we are not undertaking anything close to what Amundsen planned when he set his eyes on reaching the South Pole, it may be wise to keep in mind that he spent a couple of years among the Inuit, up in the Arctic, in order to understand their survival skills, which proved essential later on. As such, we need to not only research all available internet resources, but also consult with the native guides, depending on the target in sight. In case of tough weather conditions, difficult seas, and abundant wildlife, their knowledge can render a precarious journey successful, thus making the difference between survival and peril, success and failure. Contingencies must be built into any plan, and while we may end up “thinking on our feet”, the more we run various scenarios in our mind, the better we’ll be able to study how to cope with them, and act quickly and firmly in the nick of time.
Q: Obviously the weight limit is a traveller's worst enemy; there is only so much radio hardware one can take with you on an expedition. Do you take a spare transceiver and power supply with you? Or do you trust your favourite radio that it won't let you down? What was your worst technical failure? And worst nightmare?
A: By the time I went on my first IOTA expedition I had already logged 900 IOTA groups. During the chase for them I became aware of some terrible mishaps, when the operators suffered equipment failure and could do nothing other than return back home. Consequently, I attempted to avoid such a feat by bringing with me spare equipment. I do carry with me two transceivers, two power supplies, unless the operation is battery-based, two antennas, etc. This being said, my ICOM IC-7000 never failed, despite taking some serious beatings on bumpy roads, operating flawlessly in an outside temperature ranging from at least -30C to +40C, with up to more than 90% humidity. The pelican cases helped, as well as dry bags, but I’m still very impressed by their robustness.
Unfortunately, we had a major physical loss of equipment during the trip to Escondida Island (SA-096). We lost two transceivers, and two antennas, with all associated components, such as headphones, Morse key, not to mention a large tent, a cell phone, bifocals, and various personal effects. As the large power boat left the mainland overloaded for a second transport to the island, one of the objects which hadn’t been properly secured flew and broke the heavy windshield, severely cutting the skipper’s earlobe, narrowly missing one of the operator’s eyes. The skipper bled profusely, and had to be taken to the hospital. Following this event, his help lost confidence and was unable to bring the power boat over to the island in order to allow us to retrieve the equipment. Instead, he only accepted to operate a low power and very small dinghy, which didn’t allow for more than the two operators who were on the island to return to mainland. There was no room for anything else, except our cameras. On the island, we couldn’t secure the equipment at high ground, because the sea lions were fiercely defending their colony, and because with the approaching sunset we simply ran out of time. Once the high tide had come in, all the equipment except a sledgehammer was lost at sea. This disastrous result could have been avoided with a better contingency plan. Luckily, we had one more rig and another antenna on the mainland, which we were able to take with us later on and operate from the island.
My biggest disappointment was being on East Pen Island (NA-231) for 2-3 days without gas for the generator and, so, without power to operate. It was such a hard target to get to, and because my guide didn’t follow the plan we agreed upon before the operation, but instead altered it on his own, I had to sit there doing absolutely nothing for a considerable amount of time.
Q: Seeing your destination from the air, being just minutes away from landing on an island is probably one of the most thrilling moments for any expeditioner. Knowing that it won't be long before you will put that very first CQ call out to a bunch of hard-core chasers and then run a pileup 'of a lifetime' - these are the things that can hardly be described in words - but please, at least, try to paint that picture for us!
A: Approaching the destination is invariably a great feeling. Weather from the air or by sea, everything you dreamed and planned for, sometimes for several years, is finally right in front of you. You impatiently check the geography and landmarks you have seen time and time again in photos and on maps for a very long time. You cannot but caress and absorb for a long minute the destination you dreamed of and have worked sometimes pretty hard to reach. There you are, the dream came true! However, as ecstatic as I may be, I’m not dwelling too much on it. This is because we are men on a mission, which is to put this one on the air! Establishing the camp, setting up all the equipment, securing the antennas properly, all must be done first and well, to ensure a safe and smooth operation.
Q: What is your dream island? One you could easily live on forever?
A: Every project starts with a dream, and we work on it steadily to see it through. Once accomplished, we’ll dream of another one, and so on. While various external factors may stop for a while some of these dreams coming true, they will never stop us from dreaming. It will always be with us, as part of what defines as us humans. We need to dream, just as we need to breathe. I may have to live in one place, and be content with “that” island. But I don’t think that I will ever stop dreaming of the “next one”.
Q: What is your best operation so far, the one you dream about? The one you are most proud of?
A: Similar to most everything in life, it is the results which count, not the effort. As such, it should be the chasers evaluating the operations rather than the expeditioners. I know that we gave it our best each and every time, as I had hardly anything left in the tank at the end of it. The expeditioner will be happy and content with bringing the project to fruition. Whether he was able to log numerous stations or much fewer, this can be sometimes heavily influenced by the propagation conditions, completely outside of his control. The only way to deal with this is to lengthen the stay, but cost and logistics may not always allow it. I tried to learn something from each of my early Arctic projects, and as a result subsequent operations from other regions, including those in Sub-Antarctic areas of Chile and New Zealand, have been carried out relatively well without a hitch.
Multi-operator projects, such as those from Sandy Island (VK6ISL, OC-294) and Antipodes Island (ZL9A, NA-286) were challenging because of the complex logistics and high expenses involved. The overall cost of the latter project was USD 51k, which is considerable for just a single IOTA group activation. Given the major difficulties surrounding the approval of a landing and operating permit from the New Zealand Department of Conservation, I believe that this was my most difficult projects to accomplish.
Q: Your 3 most precious tips to aspiring DXpeditioners?
A: (i) Evaluate the hazards carefully, (ii) incorporate contingencies, and (iii) always bring with you spare equipment.
Q: If you can go back in time and join one DX expedition, which one would that be? Who is your most inspirational DX activator of all time? Who would you want to be if you weren't VE3LYC?
A: There were many inspirational DX activators since I opened my eyes to amateur radio, but it seemed utterly impossible at the time to join any of their operations. I had modest equipment at home back then, using some wire antenna and 100W, but I recall pretty well the amazing operations carried out by Jim, VK9NS. He was not only a great activator, but also an exceptional IOTA chaser. Life though has a way of its own, and it would have been impossible to predict how it will unfold. I am not preoccupied with my place along the large contingent of DX and IOTA activators. This will be entirely up to the chasers. I tried to learn from those I’ve met, but never attempted to imitate anyone. A few years ago some of my Canadian ham friends asked me why I am not interested in getting a two letter suffix. I told them that it is not the callsign that makes the ham, but the other way around. I am VE3LYC, and I’m just fine with it.
Q: There is an estimate that there are over 10,000 active IOTA chasers worldwide, and that number is actually growing. Some IOTA activations generate more interest than 'land' DXpeditons. Yet somehow, island chasing is still not as popular as it deserves to be. How difficult is it really to work 562 or more islands to gain entry to the Honour Roll list? Can a small guy with just a vertical or a tribander on a city block make it? And is it really worth the effort?
A: IOTA chasing can be a lot of fun without setting a number target. It is a vibrant community of likeminded people, sharing information about plans, propagation, and everything else of interest. Setting a number target is fun too, but it will require some dedication, both in continuously improving your radio station and operating skills, understanding the propagation, and allocating the time necessary to physically be in the chase. It is certainly possible to accede to the Honor Roll (i.e. confirm more than 562 IOTA groups at this time), but since some of the operations to rare island groups will only re-occur every 20 or more years, fulfilling the conditions for the IOTA Trophy (1000 IOTA groups confirmed) requires a huge number of years of dedication. This may just be the main reason why the popularity of the IOTA Programme is still much lower than that of the DXCC, for example. Is it worth the effort? I think that chasers are just as much dreamers as the activators, living for the challenge. Logging that rare one can be a pretty long pursuit, but it mobilizes our efforts and determines us to improve what we do and how we do it. IOTA chasing may not be for everyone, but those who are keenly interested to challenge themselves, will most certainly find the IOTA Programme a great vehicle to embark on.
Q: Where do you go next, and when?
A: I have been working for more than a year on a number of potential projects, but none of them have seemed to have taken off. It would have to be a destination I haven’t yet contacted myself, and since I have logged 1082 IOTAs to date, it can only be but a pretty rare one. The difficulties I’m facing are primarily related to the fact that many of these islands are closed -shut by various authorities to any human activity for environmental protection reasons, even to something as inoffensive and for a very short period of time as required for an IOTA operation. This being said, I am periodically checking on whether any opportunity may occur, in which case I will make sure to announce it as soon as possible.
Thank you Cezar for your past activations, your involvement in the IOTA programme, great operating skills and willingness to 'go places' so that a bunch of deserving ones can log a new one. Dxing.Today - and for years to come!
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