April 07, 2018

WSPR chatter

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Inspired by fellow ham, WSPR enthusiast and blogger PE4BAS, I've decided to compile my own personal WSPR DXCC list also, i.e. a list of DXCC countries where my 200 mW WSPR signals were spotted. I started WSPRing (on and off, not continuously) with my QRP Labs U3S in the late winter of 2017, and so far have reached a total of 63 countries with it. My WSPR DXCC list can be found here, and can be accessed at all times from the "Pages" section in the bar to the right.

For each month I download the complete WSPR database CSV file from wsprnet.org and import it in Excel to analyze my WSPR spots. The CSV files are too large to be used directly in Excel though, so I first break them up with the use of a little program called CSV Splitter from Polderij IT which can be downloaded for free. If you need some help with this I'll be glad to help out.

So what else is out there on the WSPR front and HOT to report on?

Well, the Canada C3 icebreaker expedition ship Polar Prince after a succesful circumnavigation of North America has returned in its home port of Lunenburg in Nova Scotia on Canada's east coast. During the voyage from Canada's east to west coast via the Arctic, the ship could be tracked by its onboard HF WSPR beacon with the callsign CG3EXP. Later on, after the C3 expedition had successfully ended, the ship's WSPR beacon continued transmitting with the callsign VE0EXP, and the ship could be followed on its voyage back home, down the Pacific Ocean, through the Panama Canal, and up the Atlantic Ocean.
I've done several blog entries about the C3 expedition, the Polar Prince, and its WSPR beacon, and you might be interested in reading them; just follow the "Canada C3 Expedition" link under "Tags" in the bar to the right.
I've been able to catch the WSPR beacon of the Polar Prince on the 40m band on many occasions, from its voyage up Canada's east coast as well as for a large part of its leg through the Arctic. During the leg through the western part of the Arctic and down Canada's west coast I was unable to receive the 200 mW beacon, as were most of the other European WSPR monitoring stations.
But I had set my goal to catching the Polar Prince at least one more time, on its way back while doing the Panama Canal transit from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean! And I succeeded!
With my homebrew magnetic loop on 40m I catched the Polar Prince while it was west of Middle America, while it was waiting to enter the Panama Canal, and inside the canal itself! I caught the Polar Prince in grid locator FJ09dc in the early UTC morning of December 28th, 2017. This grid put the Polar Prince inside the Panama Canal close to the city of Gamboa. Below you'll find a photo of the canal at Gamboa. Gamboa originally was built to house the Canal Zone personnel and their families during Canal construction.
The Polar Prince WSPR beacon since the start of the C3 Expedition in June of 2017 has been on the air uninterrupted! Well almost, as during a port visit of the ship in Halifax early on in the C3 expedition, a visitor had been fiddling with the buttons of the QRP Labs U3S WSPR beacon and failed to return the U3S to its correct settings. This was soon resolved though. Another interruption occurred on the ship's return home. On January 4th, 2018 the Polar Prince suddenly dissapeared from the WSPR radar. The ship was crossing a severe storm in the Bermuda Triangle (!) when the signal got lost. Antenna damage was the suspected culprit. Later it seemed the U3S had fallen of its shelf, resulting in the power chord being unplugged and the VE0EXP beacon going off the air! But, as mentioned before, the VE0EXP beacon transmissions resumed, and can still be heard from the ship's homeport in Lunenburg, and hopefully we might be able to track again on the WSPR HF subbands the icebreaker on one of its next voyages.


Grid locator FJ09dc
The town of Gamboa and the Panama Canal (source)
PA7MDJ hearing VE0EXP Polar Prince during its Panama Canal transit

In the early morning of April 6th,2018 on the 30m band I finally also managed for the first time to be spotted by GM0HCQ/MM aboard the Royal Research Ship James Clark Ross in the South Atlantic. Last summer I was already spotted by the James Clark Ross on its Arctic voyage (read about it in the blog entry here). This time the James Clark Ross was located in the South Atlantic very close to the island of St. Helena. It's currently returning home to England from its tour of duty in the Antarctic. I had hoped to be spotted by GM0HCQ/MM earlier in the Antarctic season from Antarctic waters, or more recently from the highly fascinating and utterly remote Tristan da Cunha Island, but that unfortunately seemed to be out of reach for my 200 mW WSPR beacon and mag loop setup.


GM0HCQ/MM hearing PA7MDJ
GM0HCQ/MM hearing PA7MDJ at 0130 UTC. I was right on the edge there with -30 dB. This is a period of 24 hours; in that period I was the only PA-land station heard; not bad for a homebrew indoor magnetic loop!
The James Clark Ross in Antarctic waters (source)

James Clark Ross Radio Officer Mike Gloistein GM0HCQ keeps an online daily log on his website on http://www.gm0hcq.com/index.htm. The April 6 St. Helena update can be found there also (including photos).

The photo below is taken from the GM0HCQ daily update of April 6th and shows St. Helena appearing ahead of the JCR.




In other news, a new kid on the block is DJ0HO/MM (no qrz.com registration) which the last couple of weeks has been making spots on the HF WSPR bands from the area near the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica. I haven't been able to find any information for this WSPR monitoring station other than that the callsign belongs to a certain Dr. Walter Jörg Hofmann which seems to be the owner / skipper of a sailing yacht. So most likely DJ0HO/MM is located on this yacht. It's quite late in the season for a sailing yacht to be in Antarctic waters (remember, it's autumn there right now, and the Austral winter starts on June 21st), and I wonder if  Dr. Walter Jörg Hoffman is planning on doing an Antarctic winter over. I haven't been spotted yet aboard the yacht, and although it's going to be difficult or maybe even impossible, in the true ham spirit I won't give up and will keep on trying


See also:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panama_Canal
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamboa,_Panama

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