December 09, 2017

More 40m fun!

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In my blog of March 4th I already wrote about how I'm continued to be surprised by the DX I'm able to work on the 40m band with low power (100 watts or less) and a simple loaded EFHW sloper wire antenna; the US East Coast, the Caribbean, South America, Middle America, Africa, Australia, and even Antarctica, they're all in the log. Don't be discouraged when you have only modest equipment and antennas to your disposal. Combined with some luck and perseverance it will work for you! I know, because it does for me!
Especially the Caribbean is an easy target, and the past year or so the 40m band has been a good provider to me of quite some ATNOs from Africa as well. Now that the higher bands are in bad shape, 40m has become my primary DX band!

Looking at the success I had last winter / spring on 40m QSOing several Russian Antarctic bases in CW and various stations in the southern part of the African continent in both CW and digital modes, I guess for extreme DX, roughly taken, the path from my QTH going down south across the African continent to Antarctica is a very good one for me.
This again was proved the last couple of months when I managed to contact again several stations in the Antarctic region. Last September on 40m in JT65 I managed to work the Polish Antarctic Station Arctowski HF0ARC on King George Island, South Shetland Islands, IOTA AN-010 (more about this QSO in my Sept. 14 blog). Then early October on 40m CW I managed to work FT5XT/MM on a fishing trawler off the Kerguelen Islands (see separate "QSL card in the Spotlight" section below). And very recently on 40m CW I finally also succeeded in making a QSO with the Russian Antarctic Station Bellingshausen RI1ANO, also on King George Island. After a long time and many attempts in JT65, FT8, and CW on both 40m and several other bands I finally managed to put this station in the log.

Russian Antarctic Station Bellingshausen, South Shetland Islands (from the RI1ANO page)
Operator Alexandr (UA1OJL) at RI1ANO (from the RI1ANO page)
On several nights while running JT65 on 40m I was also spotted by the Japanese Antarctic Station Syowa 8J1RL. Unfortunately 8J1RL at the time seemed to be monitoring only, as I saw no signal of the station at my side (or other stations trying to contact the Japanese Antarctic base), and thus no QSO could be made.

PA7MDJ spotted by 8J1RL on 40m. Screenshot from PSKREPORTER.
Syowa Station, Antarctica under the rays of the Aurora australis (from the 8J1RL page)
Syowa Station, Antarctica (from the 8J1RL page)
During the CQ Worldwide CW contest on November 26 around 15:00 UTC the 40m band once again surprised me when I managed to work K6AR in grid DM13ib near San Diego, California. It left me absolutely astonished, to say the least. Ok, I had worked Antarctica and other distant parts of the world on many occasions, but with my equipment on 40m I'd always considered the path to the US West Coast to be a very difficult or even an impossible one! I've made some contacts over the years, but also on the higher bands California always has been a very difficult area to reach for me.
One would expect a greyline contact here, but strictly seen it wasn't; K6AR had just come out of the grey line zone though, and I was about to go into it. The screenshot below from DX Atlas shows the great circle path completely in daylight. It might also have been a long path contact but I don't believe so.

Short path between PA7MDJ and K6AR on 26 Nov 2017 14:53 UTC
The good 40m path south to Antarctica looks very promising for me for the upcoming 3Y0Z Bouvet Island DXpedition planned for early 2018. Looking at the path to Bouvet Island, I should have no problems catching their CW signals on the 40m band. I expect the pile-ups for this DXpedition to be HUGE and to be lasting until the very last second of the operation, so I'm not expecting to work them, but I'm hoping to at least hear them, so that I can send in an SWL report. Since I've got my ham licence, I usually don't send SWL reports anymore, but for Bouvet Island I'm going to make an exception and return to my roots and to how it all started: being an SWL! From this special DXpedition and special location I just need to have that QSL card momento! If not for a 2-way QSO then for an SWL report!

I've been deeply fascinated by the elusive "Bouvetøya", as the uninhabited, subantarctic Norwegian dependency is officially called, for a long time. In the 1990s I read about the mysterious Bouvet Island in the book "Het ijspaleis" (The Ice Palace) by Boudewijn Büch (1948-2002). Büch is one of my favourite Dutch writers, not for his fictional novels, but for his non-fiction series of island books. As far as I know the books were never translated, but for every island enthusiast that's able to read Dutch, the series of books is a must-read. I can without doubt say that the origin of many of my fascinations with certain islands and places on this earth derives from reading one of Büch's books. "Het ijspaleis" is largely dedicated to Bouvet. Although he never visited the island, Büch was an authority on Bouvet and therefore unique in the Netherlands and maybe even the World. Reading "Het ijspaleis" makes you realize how remote and elusive the island really is, not only on the ham bands, but also in many other ways.

The island series books by Boudewijn Büch, from the PA7MDJ library. On the right "Het ijspaleis: eilanden, derde deel" from 1993.
For those interested in 40m DX, Oene Spanjer PA3CWN is an avid 40m DXer, and his propagation observations for this particular band as laid out on his page are very interesting, and they are recommended reading for every serious 40m DXer!

You can read more of my 40m contemplations in the March 4 blog entry linked to at the top of this page. More on FT5XT/MM in a separate section below

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  1. Weer een mooi stukje, het is een genot om je blog te lezen. Jammer dat Boudewijn Buch er niet meer is. Mocht altijd graag naar "de wereld van Boudewijn Buch" kijken. Altijd op zoek naar een nieuw eiland om te bezoeken en dan liefst ook nog zoeken naar een bibliotheek, want ja boeken waren alles voor hem. Ik hoop straks Bouvet te kunnen werken. 73, Bas

    1. Bedankt voor je reactie, Bas! Ja, erg jammer dat Büch is overleden. Ik kon altijd ontzettend genieten van zijn TV-programma! Zijn "eilanden" boekenreeks heb ik verslonden en zijn nog steeds de pareltjes in mijn boekenverzameling en vormen ook nu nog vaak een naslagwerk als ik weer eens een eiland heb gewerkt en er nog wat meer informatie over zoek of bijzondere feitjes over wil weten.