M0URX talks about no Stamps, Quality Service and Hexbeams!

I am now home and all direct and email Bureau QSL requests are completed.
MC0SHL, M9X MW9W, P29CS and ZC4VJ (ZC4VJ log up to 20th July) logs uploaded to the online log search.

137 letters posted 30/07/2010

If you are posting your QSL from Russia I ask you please to seal the envelope with tape for security. many letters arrive with no postage from Russia and these are returned Via Bureau. Or use Paypal.

Why no stamps?
I recently asked for NO postage stamps be sent if you are outside the UK. Since then I have received several emails on the matter. Please let me explain. Some QSL cards that I send are 4 sided cards, some just 2, some envelopes you send me are slightly heavier and wider than the standard 114mm x 162mm that I prefer.
In the UK the limit for the minimum postage weight to Rest of World is 10g. Quite often the letter weighs 11g which is considerably more expensive.

Also the US$2 or 1 x IRC has to cover all expenses of the QSL manager not just the post. This is why I DO NOT use postage stamps to send my mail. I have an International Postal Account where i can get large discounts on post. This frees up money to pay for ink, labels, QSL printing and other stationary needed. All stationary is purchased from wholesale outlets where i can get a good discount for bulk purchase. Bureau costs are quite considerable and are subsidised by the donations sent in and by the IRC's and dollars with your QSL.

To be sure that your QSL arrives quickly and safely to you. Please do not send postage stamps with your QSL ONLY use US$2 or 1 x IRC that will cover 1 QSL card. For multi QSL requests check "Direct & Bureau Instructions"

If you need IRC's or dollars ask a QSL manager in your country and see if he can supply you with some. I would rather sell dollars and IRC's than cash them in to the bank and PO.

Credit where credit is due!
We are often quick to complain when things don't go as we expect, me included! So I thought I would let you know about two Amateur Radio services that provide outstanding and beyond the call of duty service.

ARRL LoTW HQ.
Kathy Allison at LoTW HQ has shown excellent quality of service, every time I have emailed Kathy, I have received an email back usually within 5 minutes. All enquiries dealt with fast and efficiently.

Ukraine QSL Bureau UARL.
I have heard many comments from you guys about bad post in the Ukraine but the Ukraine QSL Bureau time after time have shown excellent quality of service.

Here is the latest example: on 16th July I posted a package of MS0INT QSL cards to the Ukraine QSL Bureau. On the 22nd July I receive an email from a Ukrainian Ham thanking me for the fast Bureau QSL for MS0INT. This can't be true so I checked my log and yes, for sure this QSL was sent Via Bureau.

G3TXQ-Hexbeam by MW0JZE 6m 10m 12m 15m 17m 20m Broadband Hexagonal Beam.
I was recently asked how I rate the Hexbeam and did I think it was a good choice of antenna for Club / Portable use.
Now into the second year using this antenna / Portable. In my opinion this is the antenna to go for. It took me 1 hour to assemble my antenna at home on my own and as you may know antenna assembly is not my forte. You do need a fairly decent mast but this antenna works very well at just 21 feet as we had it last week on Ramsey Island. We had 2 Hexbeams up at 21 feet  and we put 4,900 Qs in the log in no more than 46 hours operating over about 4 days.

Last year we had winds in excess of 65 mph sustained for several hours and it didn’t even sneaze.

Ant and I sponsored the Hexbeam that you see on this months RadCom for the MS0INT activity on Flannan Isles. This team were only on Flannan for just two and a half days and they logged 8,200 Qs which I think speaks for itself.

The quality of the parts from Anthony are very high quality to withstand UV, high winds, sub zero and rain with all screws and nuts n bolts all stainless. You can find more about the antenna here G3TXQ Hexbeam by Ant MW0JZE 

Using portable I would suggest that you put the antenna back in the box and roll the wire elemenrts, and put them back in the sleeved bag to make sure that everything is easy for its next useage.

When we finished Ramsey we took both Hexbeams down and had them carefully packed away in little over 1 hour.
I give this antenna my recommendation for home, protable and DX'pedition use.

Ramsey Island EU-124

GW - Ramsey Island EU-124 - Once again the Strumble Head DX and Contest Group are heading over the water to activate this rare Welsh coastal island. They will be on the air from 22nd July through to 26th or 27th July (all dependant on tides) using the club call MC0SHL. This trip also takes in the RSGB IOTA contest where they will be on the air using the club contest call MW9W over the weekend 24th and 25th July. Last year they tried to work as many Asian and Pacific stations as this is #18 most wanted on the IOTA listings for that area and they will again try to make as many contacts both before and during the contest. They will have 3 stations using the following equipment;

2 x Elecraft K3 Transceivers
1 x Yaesu FT2000
2 x G3TXQ Hexbeams (built by Ant MW0JZE)
80M Dipole
40M Vertical
3 x Acom 1000

The team will be using MC0SHL on 17 and 12M during the contest to try to give as many contacts on these bands also. They will be on the air mostly in SSB, but with some RTTY and CW thrown in. This year the team will be Rob (MW0RLJ), Jane (Robs wife), Ant (MW0JZE), Oli (MW0JRX), Tim (M0URX), Chris (G1VDP) and Tony (G4LDL). Sadly Charles (M0OXO) is not joining them but will be acting as a pilot station and will be in contact with the team throughout the trip as they are taking mobile internet so they can get on skype and their website with updates. Full details and photographs of last years operation are on the groups website SHDX where there may be live access to the station via webcam if they can get this up and running. All QSL requests should go via the team's manager M0URX where there is on line request and details on how to get the QSL quicker. All logs will be uploaded to the ARRL Logbook of the World (LoTW) upon getting back to the farm HQ on their return. Many thanks and we hope to hear you in the pile up.
QSL-MC0SHL-MW9W

Wallis & Futuna Islands on 17m

wallis-et-futunaWow, this one came from nowhere! After struggling all morning not hearing much DX at all up pops a really strange call sign FWD2A Yuji in Wallis & Futuna Islands on 18.140 MHz up 5 - 10. Yuji says that the call sign may change during this activity. It appears that the licensing authority made a mistake on the callsign.
This was DXCC Worked 286 for me, this for me was one of those real big buzz moments in Amateur Radio! Just awesome,  and with the sun spot poor conditions continuing just lately, new ones are getting few and far between.

Much closer to home is MU/PA4N Guernsey worked on 17m this afternoon also for a new band slot on 17m.

SK0SAS/AM

ln-rrk-smallGreat to work Scandanavian Airline pilot SK0SAS/AM Eskil aboard the Boeing 737-800 this afternoon on 14.187 MHz. Using Flight Radar i was then able to track using radar tracking website and follow the journey of the pilot. Just excellent! 

The flight started from Cairo Egypt. The image on the left is the actual aircraft.

• Callsign: SAS7854
• Flightnr: SK7854 • Reg: LN-RRK • Hex: 47840B
• Model: Boeing 737-883 (B738) • Airline: SAS
• Lat: 55.02242  • Lon: 23.09293 • Altitude: 36000feet (10973 m)
• Ground speed: 458 knots (848 km/h / 527 mph)
• Track: 337° • Radar: EVRA
• From : Hurghada, Hurghada (HRG) • To: Stockholm, Arlanda (ARN)

MS0INT & HB0/OU4U QSL cards arrive!

The QSL cards arrived from the printer on Thursday 15th July.  So far MS0INT 1,300 log entries have requested a QSL.
All QSL cards have now been completed and ready for dispatch.
 

51 Letters posted to UK on Thursday15th & 11 posted to UK on Friday 16th

372 Letters to post Saturday 17th for MS0INT & HB0/OU4U + Package to GDXF

Some Bureau cards will also be posted to Croatia, Czech Republic, Japan, Germany, Italy, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, & Ukraine.
The remaining Bureau cards to follow soon.

Postage Stamps NOT acceptable for QSL Postage Sorry!!!!
Out of the 62 letters that arrived with postage paid stamps on the return envelope I had 11 letters that had UNDERPAID postage stamps for the return QSL. Sorry guys!
If you are outside the UK, please DO NOT send postage stamps, if you do the QSL will be returned Via Bureau! or will be returned with a surcharge to pay on delivery.

HB0/OU4U QSL

QSL-HB0-OU4UHB0/OU4U QSL has now been designed and will be printed this week at the same time as the MS0INT QSL card.
HB0/OU4U log OF 2,500 Qs  has been uploaded onto LoTW by Marc yesterday.

The recent acticity from the Strumble Head DX & Contest Group MC0SHL has also been uploaded to LoTW and Direct cards all ready for posting.

MS0INT log has been uploaded onto Club Log here you will see MS0INT and you can view log statistics. 8,273 Qs in 66 hours of operation with 5,661 Unique calls.  

In one week 700 Online Bureau QSL Requests have been made and processed through the log. Although this can be more work intensive, it is a system that I much prefer to a large box arriving from the Bureau. Of course the OQRS is much quicker and your QSL cards are not required so it saves everyone a considerable amount of money. Please USE OQRS for Direct & Bureau QSL cards. You can find my Direct costs here How to QSL.

QSL-ZC4VJ2ZC4VJ Andy continues to be very active at this time and QSL cards are available Direct Via M0URX or Via Bureau on OQRS ONLY!
Andy's log now contains over 61,000 QSO's as ZC4VJ.
Last ZC4VJ log uploaded here is 10/07/2010 0940z.

It appears that there was a pirate ZC4VJ on 04/07/2010 between 1320z - 1400z on 6m. If you think you worked Andy during this time please email me to check the log before you waste money sending me your QSL!

Fantastic & Fearsome Flannan Isles.

Written by Col MM0NDX - Photograph of Eilean Mor by Calum MacAulay
QSL-MS0INT




A Remote Island On The Air.

The first seeds of an expedition to a remote IOTA were planted in early August 2009. One month prior I had visited St Kilda (EU-059) intending to activate that particular rare island group during the IOTA contest. Unfortunately poor weather & sea state thwarted my efforts to remain there during the contest weekend, I spent only a few hours on St Kilda then returned home.
A few weeks later and in conversation with another IOTA activator the words "Flannan" and "Expedition" were first uttered.

Christian EA3NT and I had longed to form a team to activate a rare IOTA. Indeed, in 2007 we seriously considered Rockall EU-189, but soon realised the enormous effort and danger involved in this. We looked at many islands and options within the Scottish (GM) coastline and eventually decided Flannan Isles (EU-118) was worth the effort. Checking various most wanted IOTA listings, it confirmed Flannan was in demand, especially in Japan.

By November 2009, the callsign MS0INT was issued. (This callsign will be used for future rare Scottish IOTA activations). A Google group was formed and all kinds of relevant info detailing the Flannan Isles soon appeared we learned very quickly the history of the place and just how impressive an island group it is. If you like white sand beach islands, then EU-118 is not for you!

Getting the Team Together
By the end of 2009, our team was formed. All seasoned IOTA activators, we felt the group was as strong as it possibly could be. Vincent, F4BKV, Simon IZ7ATN, Bjorn SM0MDG, Christian EA3NT, George EA2TA and Col MM0NDX. Between us, over 100 IOTA activated. Our QSL manager would be Tim, M0URX with Nico, DD1MAT  being webmaster. Things were taking shape and the excitement rolled on.

Planning & Logistics
Planning and organising an expedition to EU-118 is time consuming and costly, albeit worthwhile. We had booked our boat charter way back in October 2009, some eight months before we would leave for Flannan Isles. Due to the fact our team consisted of six, accommodation and transport was required. A 12 seat minibus was hired and our base camp on the west side of Isle of Lewis (EU-010) was situated just two miles from our boat charter; a perfect location.
We would use the base prior to and after the expedition.

Sponsorship Comes In
February to late May 2010 was constant planning, logistics and organising. A monumental effort was given to this.
Everything from how many litres of water would we need? To what type of generators would work best to power three stations? Norman, GM4KGK based in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis was a huge help in locally sourcing various items we required to make the expedition a success. Ant, MW0JZE very kindly loaned us a G3TXQ Hexbeam . Icom UK supplied us with two IC7000 transceivers and Alloa Hire Centre (AHC) provided 2Kw generators to charge our battery tanks. GDXF and CDXC (Clipperton) provided cash support. Donations came in from all corners of the world too. These would greatly help offset costs incurred. Even the guesthouse at our base camp stored hundreds of kilograms of gear ahead of our arrival, thus saving us flying into the Western Isles with literally tons of kit.

The Adventure Begins
Tuesday June 15th, 2010 was when the MS0INT story really began! That evening Christian
EA3NT and George EA2TA arrived at Edinburgh airport. We had a beer and chatted excitedly. We had also kept a close eye on recent weather conditions/forecasts and formed the opinion we had a great chance of pulling this off as the wx looked unusually good out in the North Atlantic for the foreesable future! By next day, Wednesday June 16th, the entire team met at Edinburgh and off we set to Stornoway, full of optimism. On arrival at Stornoway airport we met Norman, GM4KGK. He handed over all our "goodies" purchased locally the least we could do was treat him to fish & chips! Next stop was the local supermarket. Six guys buying food for three days camping on a remote island is quite a sight to see! By late evening, we travelled from east to west across the Isle of Lewis on mostly single track road. The surrounding terrain resembled a moonscape! Soon we arrived at the guesthouse, settled in, checked all our equipment had arrived and fell asleep exhausted.

Testing Time!
DSCF3692Thursday June 17th, would see the team assemble and experiment with all equipment. The G3TXQ Hexbeam worked very well in testing and we were confident in erecting it on the Flannan Isles. (This is testament to MW0JZE's instructions). Soon MM/IZ7ATN, MM/F4BKV & MM/EA2TA had pileups as it seemed the waiting world knew our next stop would hopefully be EU-
118. That evening we were all buzzing as word spread that a landing would likely be possible due to continued good sea state. We retired for the night at 0100 local, ready for the "off" at 0800 on Friday, June 18.

Friday was a truly beautiful day. Clear skies and a gentle breeze. Perfect for a sailing out into the Atlantic.We left our mooring at 0900 and soon Sea Trek boat charter had us on the high seas looking for Basking sharks we saw one or two, adding to our already excited minds. After 90 mins at sea, from the distance the Flannan Isles appeared. At first glance they looked tiny, then they grew, and grew....
Approaching_Flannans                                                                  
Eilean Mor..... gets closer
On approach, jaws dropped as we looked up at the sheer scale of the islands. Eilean Mor (main island with the lighthouse) now made us feel tiny! Our skipper Ian (a very funny guy) surveyed the best landing site. Either east or west would be possible most unusual. He opted for the slightly "easier" east landing as we had a good amount of equipment which needed hauled up by rope onto a platform just above this particular landing site. We anchored, and then two at a time on a small hard zodiac, we headed for the east landing. First operator to land on Flannans was Christian EA3NT, followed by Bjorn SM0MDG. Congratulatory pictures were taken and instantly sent to Niko DD1MAT, our webmaster in Germany. For some unexplained reason we never did have cell phone coverage again after the initial first landing picture was taken. Perhaps this was a curse of the lighthouse keepers who disappeared some 110 years earlier?! That story is well documented on Wikipedia. Once we all landed, we breathed a huge sigh of relief and immediately got to work in hauling up all our gear from the zodiac to the platform.

The steps at the east landing are not in good condition, although considerably better than the west side!. Unloading_the_gearOne small slip could have been fatal so we really had to be aware when we ascended. As we climbed further, the steps were in better condition. The climb itself is steep and tiring. It takes 45 mins from landing to reaching the island lighthouse, some 88m (264ft) in height. We had to do this trip three or four times with heavy equipment, food, water and outdoor gear all hoisted on our backs, with each arm stretched out carrying other pieces of equipment. I think adrenalin covered the fact we were hurting carrying all this gear.

MS0INT_AntennasWe quickly realised the lighthouse was a perfect base. The take off for all antennas was ideal.
Ocean upon ocean with no obstacles in our way. The area below the solar panels of the lighthouse would be our "shack". Three lightweight tarpaulins were used to provide a waterproof shelter/roof. Remains of an old outhouse building next to the lighthouse would now be our cooking area. Near to the ruined chapel we pitched tents. The Hexbeam was the first antenna to be erected thanks to Vincent F4BKV and Simon’s IZ7ATN efficiency. We decided not to begin operations on three bands simultaneously as the main target was to give out as many QSO's as quickly as possible. To wait until all stations were complete would waste valuable "On Air" time.

"CQ, CQ, MS0INT, EU-118 Flannan Isles"
Shortly after 16:30 local on Friday June 18th, Christian EA3NT was first to transmit on 14260Mhz. "CQ, CQ, MS0INT, EU-118 Flannan Isles". Instantly, Ukraine was first to make the log, followed by JA8MS. Within one minute, and being spotted on the DX Cluster, the pileup was as we expected HUGE! The first 100 stations were logged in no time. By end of day, two stations were on air, and we quickly made 2000 QSO's. The opening to Japan on 20m was particularly pleasing as we knew how much EU-118 was needed there.

CW ops were EA3NT & SM0MDG. A special mention to them for working through the following nights as the SSB camp slept! By Saturday morning June 19th, we had two HF stations and 6m (50Mhz) on air. Pileups were impressive and we noted how well behaved/controlled the callers were. Deliberate QRM appeared non-existent, which was pleasing to say the least. By end of Saturday, 4000 QSO's in just over 24 hours were made. We were delighted. Oh, and we got sunburt too! However, by late Saturday afternoon, poor weather soon approached. A party from the Hebridean Book Trust were due to visit and land the Flannan’s on the Saturday. Sadly for them the sea state was too rough to land. For us, we knew that landing on the islands at all was lucky, to depart three days later without any issues would be exceedingly lucky!

DSCF4265Sunday, June 20th was a difficult day, weather-wise. The wind was blowing from the north making it feel nothing like summer! The rain and low level cloud added to an already miserable weather day. Coupled with this, the seas were far choppier than previous days, and I personally believed we would not get off the island on Monday morning such was the change in conditions. Of course we couldn't do anything about this, so continued to operate 24/7. 10m was going great guns on Sunday. Whole of Europe seemed like they were calling in. Split operation was a necessity until the pileup eased a little. Other bands continued to impress, with JA being worked easily on 17, 20 and 30m. By end Sunday, we erected the 80m dipole as we knew some ops needed EU-118 on this band for an all time new one. Propagation was not good on 80m daylight never really left us but we soldiered on and made approx 100 QSO's on a seemingly dead band. After midnight on Sunday, we continued to run 3 stations, and with contacts being worked so very quickly, the QSO count reached 7000 in 55 hours of operating.

1am Monday morning, June 21st Bjorn SM0MDG and Col MM0NDX are working 30 and 40m respectively. NA, SA all loud. A small amount of whisky continues to keep us warm, as Christian EA3NT prepares to take over the 30m CW station at 3am. Everyone else is now asleep! A few hours later, three stations back on air, and I'm amazed at the number of stations still calling in. 20m has a pileup which resembles the opening of MS0INT operations three days earlier. Unbelievable! Sadly, we had to take two stations off air at 0800z on Monday morning. The boat was coming and already visible on the horizon as we disassembled. 20m SSB would keep going until the last minute. At 1000z local, MS0INT ceased operations.

DSCF4335Once packed up, we had to carry all gear back down the steep descent of Eilean Mor. This was no fun as we learned we would not be using the platform used to haul the equipment up on arrival. We would need to use the broken steps at the bottom of the east landing as our return boat was a RIB (we used motor vessel Lochlann on the outward journey to Flannans . George EA2TA was the mainstay of this "operation" as we passed gear down to him who inturn passed onto Bjorn who was already on the RIB. Suffice to say, a little bit of the Atlantic soaked George as the swell kicked up!

Finally at 11:05z on June 21st we left EU-118. Happy. A total of 8,273 QSO's were made in 66 hours. 5,661 Unique call signs.

The journey back to EU-010 was very fast aboard the RIB. By 12pm local were back on terra firma, unloading. Our hire bus was at the pier so we quickly got organised and drove to our base camp a few miles south. A much needed shower was the order of the day! Nobody felt like transmitting that evening! We had smoked salmon, wine and some beers, and then hit the sack, still high on adrenalin after a brilliant three days on Flannan Isles.

The team wishes to thank everyone who called in, no matter how many times you made the log. Every QSO was welcome and we're delighted EU-118 is now so much less wanted, particulary for Japan. Special thanks to CDXC (Clipperton), GDXF, F5CWU for the loan of band pass filters, Norman GM4KGK for local support, Niko DD1MAT for maintaining & updating our website, AHC, SeaTrek and everyone who kindly donated. We also acknowledge the Sea Gods
were with us!

QSL cards will be available within the next few weeks. Planning for our next trip has already started.

Col, MM0NDX
On behalf of MS0INT Team
Photographs by courtesy of Bjorn SM0MDG & George, EA2TA.

Office now open

I am now back in the office after a short break away. All emails and post is being processed.

Strumble Head Team Gather for Wedding Celebration

The Strumble Head DX and Contest Group, in Wales, will be gathering at their farm HQ this weekend to celebrate the wedding of MW0RLJ, Rob, and Jane.  The other team members (M0URX, Tim; MW0JZE, Ant; MW0JRX,
Oli; OM0AAO, Viliam; M0OXO, Charles; G4LDL, Tony; G3YBY, Ian; and G1VDP, Chris) wish the newly weds a happy future.  "They may, if Jane allows after all the chores, get on the air for some fun at some point to celebrate this occasion", says G1VDP, Chris.  If so it will be with their MC0SHL call.  Details of the club and activities can be found at
MC0SHL Website.

Flannan Team safely back after the EU-118 activity.

The team finished the Flannan Isles operation this morning and safely boarded the boat that took them back to the Isle of Lewis early this afternoon.
On both Friday and Monday the window to get on and off Eilean Mor was very critical, Just a few hours either way and the landing and leaving would have not been possible due to the high sea swell making it too dangerous. I am sure we will hear much more about this trip soon.

In just two and a half days 8,100 log entries were made giving many the new IOTA for the log.
Well done to the team for a very professional operation!

VERY IMPORTANT: Please DO NOT send your QSL Via Bureau for this activity. It will NOT be collected or answered!
Don't send it! Request It!

Liechtenstein 2010

Marc OZ1MDX will be QRV from Liechtenstein as HB0/OU4U from 21st June - 27th June 2010.
QSL Direct Via M0URX or
Bureau only by email Request

QSL DIRECT ONLY - Via M0URX & Bureau Via REQUEST FORM ONLY!!

VERY IMPORTANT:
Please DO NOT send your QSL Via Bureau for this activity. It will NOT be collected or answered!
Don't send it! Request It using the link above.

QSL Sponsored by United Radio QSL Bureau

1322 QSO's uploaded to online log search. Last QSO at 23/06/2010 1309z (Does not include DIGI log)

MS0INT Flannan Isles EU-118

flannanIt was August 19, 2009 when the first seeds of a Flannan Isles expedition were sown. Ten months have since passed, MS0INT team are now in the very final planning stages of their island expedition.  

The first of the team arrive on June 15, followed by the rest the next day. Together, we all set off on the evening of June 16 to our base on the remote west side of Isle of Lewis. June 17 we see on air testing of equipment as MM/homecalls/p from EU-010. On June 18 we leave for Flannan's, EU-118.  

During our journey to the Outer Hebrides, we aim to send images - and perhaps small video clips - together with short reports of our progress.  

Please note, it is highly unlikely we will have cell phone capabilities when on Flannan's, so the online logbook will most probably be available after the expedition.
For more information the website is MS0INT

ICOM_LOGOMS0INT is sponsored by ICOM UK G3TXQ Hex-Beam & United Radio QSL Bureau.....
 
Full QSL Info here

Thursday afternoon: the team were testing equipment from the guest house on Isle of Lewis EU-010. They report that preparations are going well. They go by boat to Flannan Isles on Friday morning, they hope to land at 1300z on Friday and be active later in the afternoon.
Friday afternoon: MS0INT was reported "On Air" 1520z Friday 18th June! Flannan Isles EU-118 are now active!
Saturday 1800z: MS0INT reported working JA HL area. This was a target for the team as only 2% of IOTA participants from JA have EU-118 confirmed.
Saturday 1900z: Col reports 3,600 Qs in log. All going to plan.

If you have facility to record the operation. Please send audio files to us. Thank you.

QSL Direct Via M0URX.
Please note that Bureau QSL requests are only accepted Via OQRS & email.
Save Bureau costs!
Please do NOT send your QSL Via Bureau! NO E QSL Sorry!

Spiderbeams! Just Why?

I am very surprised that I have not heard anyone comment about how unreliable Spiderbeams are for DX'pedition use. I can't understand WHY Spiderbeams are so widely used on DX'peditions.

Nearly every DX'pedition that takes a Spiderbeam reports of wind damage and broken Spiderbeams. The latest casualty is 3C0C. 

The problem is with Spiderbeams is the shape, they just can't take any moderate wind. As well as being very cumbersome and awkward to erect. Unless you have them at a suitable working height you may as well be using string.

Am I the only one that hears DX'peditions using Spiderbeams and reporting almost every one failing in the wind?

Am I the only one that when a DX'pedition uses a Spiderbeam we really struggle to hear them? Probably because they are set up too low. 

There is always a joke amongst a few of us here when we see the equipment list with Spiderbeam in. "We won't hear them then!" 

Or am I mistaken and Spiderbeams are these wonderful DX'pedition lightweight wonder antennas?
All I wonder is why they are so popular? 
 
While they may be a good antenna when installed on a sturdy mast / tower they are just not built for the quick portable installation.

Sebatik Island OC-295 Update

Greetings from Tawau, Sabah...

John, 9M6XRO, and Steve 9M6DXX were unable to operate from Sebatik Island, OC-295, on this occasion, but we have been able to make arrangements for a 4-day DXpedition there in September. Further details to follow.

73, Steve, 9M6DXX

UR News

The UK Scout Contest Team were active in the CQ WPX CW Contest this weekend. Terry G4MKP using the new team’s contest call M9X was Single Op All Band High Power CW, and supported on the technical back room by James M0YOM and Callum M0MCX.

Here at our Latitudes Terry suffered heavily with the geo magnetic storm that affected the bands with a K5 index on Saturday. Terry reports making 2200 Qs and provisionally 3,400,000 points.

As M9X is a new call sign I will be designing and printing the new QSL card very soon for the UK Scout Contest Team.

Logs – Logs this week have been uploaded to the online log search for 9M6XRO, M9X and OY1OF.

Sebatik Island OC-295 3 - 5 June

John, 9M6XRO, and Steve, 9M6DXX, will be visiting Sebatik Island

(OC-295) from 3 to 5 June and may be active as 9M6XRO/P (CW) and 9M6DXX/P (SSB) using 100W to a simple wire antenna, although no operation is guaranteed on this occasion. The visit is in preparation for a possible DXpedition there later in the year with higher power and better antennas. OC-295 has only been activated once before, in July 2006, and remains high up the IOTA 'Most Wanted' list.
QSL both callsigns via M0URX, direct, or OQRS for Bureau or LoTW.


John and Steve tell me that this trip is very much a reconnaissance trip for a expedition possibly later in the year.

73, Steve, 9M6DXX

The Highs and Lows of Weekend DX'ing

A Saturday morning off work is a rare thing for me so when I get the chance to be by the radio at sunrise you can bet on me being there with a cup of English tea to start the day.

The past few days had seen the SFI drop to 71 after 12 consecutive spotless SSN days so when I saw the SSN edge up to 12 and the SFI up to 73 it didn’t really fill me with enthusiasm of a DX-full weekend, just hopeful of maybe a new one somewhere! The morning started quite good, some friends in Sweden each year choose an IOTA to operate from and you can bet that they will always be professional and provide something good to chase, using the call sign 7S6W and operating from Vinga Island EU-043. Sporadic E season has not started to well here in Coventry so I was not expecting to hear them when I saw 7S6W on the cluster on 14.260 MHz, but they were a solid S9 one call and they were in my log, I wished the team well and let them carry on. I tuned down the band and heard AH6S Tiff calling CQ on 14.198 MHz over the pole, now normally Hawaii creates a huge European pile up so when I heard no one reply I fumbled quickly with the footswitch and put my cup of tea down and answered his call, Tiff came straight back, just brilliant! Working Hawaii always gives me a buzz, this is what I wanted to start my Saturday.

That was about as exciting as it got that day until the evening when 17m and 20m opened up to the Caribbean and South America. J88CF Kumar in St Vincent was a great signal and that would be an all time new one for me, but the pile up was just out of control, no respect whatsoever from many of the undisciplined European operators. I was not going to join this zoo, I would rather miss a new one than get involved in bad behaviour. So I changed bands to 17m where I worked FS/N4ECW/P on St Martin Island, I am chasing yearly DXCC and this was a new one for 2010 so I was pleased to be able to work Dennis tonight. Also logged was VP5/PY2WAS Turks & Caicos Is, CP6UA Bolivia and NP2KW on the US Virgin Islands. It was getting late 2320 local time so I went back to 20m and to 14.227 MHz where Kumar J88CF was still working the pile up, but wait, listen! The EU zoo had gone, propagation by this time was moving further West and had closed to my South and East, looks like I have a clear shot at this, I “Fire up the Acom” it finishes its warm up, and I call “Mike Zero Uniform Romeo X-ray” Kumar hears me “The Mike Zero again?” I reply again and Kumar gets my full call, bang in the log number 285 for my all time DXCC. Pleased and with a big grin I tune both 20m and 17m and work a few more before I call it a night.

Sunday, another day, not much DX around again today, but ZS8M Pierre is spotted on the cluster on 20m, I listen and listen hard but no matter how much I concentrate that ESP signal is NOT going to jump out of the speaker and give me Marion Island! Pierre is still using wires and with sunspots scarce I am going to have to accept this is one that will not be in my log for a while yet. In the afternoon I got back into the shack at 3pm and 6m was showing signs of something promising. ZC4VJ Andy has been banging out CW & SSB Qs all day, it looks like I will have quite a few QSL cards coming in later this week from Andy’s weekend activity. I wait patiently until I hear his signal out of the noise, this would be a new band slot on 6m, its 30c in the shack, I can’t stand this damn heat in here. I was on 50.115 MHz, Andy was there, yes! He says listening up 5, I call, nope not this time, I call again “Hey Tim M0URX great to hear you” Yeah “Andy you are 53 thanks for the new slot” I Skype my mate G1VDP Chris and tell Chris to get on 6m, Andy says that he will send me a log update in the morning after he has had a sleep. That will be great I have lots of QSL requests to get through.

Back on the cluster I am keeping an eye on A92IO Dave in Bahrain, Dave is on 50.205 MHz listening up 5 – 10. His signal is very much in and out of the noise with the Sporadic Es today but at 5,200 Km’s this would be a great one to log! After about an hour of waiting, listening and more listening and quite a lot of calling I finally get through and Dave’s signal lifted to 53. Another new one on 6m! It has been an enjoyable weekend, thanks for the chase its been a good one!

Not staying up late tonight, I have an airport run to do at 5am so catch you tomorrow guys!

M0URX Chasing SSB DXCC 2010

I use Club Log to keep track of my yearly band slot totals and this is where M0URX stands 18/07/2010.


SSB 2010 League.
RankCallsign16080604030201715121064270TotalSlots 
1 M0URX 0 0 0 0 0 181 105 134 89 97 40 0 0 0 223 646

      
While the table below shows the total figure for the 2009 SSB League at 31/12/2009

RankCallsign16080604030201715121064270TotalSlots 
1 M0URX 1 19 0 46 0 206 108 122 37 94 31 0 7 1 229 672

Winlog32 Logging Software Development Work

A huge thank you to Colin G0CUZ author of Winlog32 logging software.

Over the past year I have been sending Colin a “Wish List” of ideas that would make Winlog32 logging software an absolute dream for QSL managers to use. Colin has put my wish list into development and has produced a QSO Label printing process that saves me literally hours on a big run of Bureau cards and makes the label printing a matter of just a couple of key strokes on the keyboard.  

Earlier versions of Winlog32 printed Single and Multi labels on two print runs which meant combining the two separate sheets of labels alphabetically on the QSL cards. This was very frustrating and very time consuming. So the first step forward was to print the Single / Multi labels together alphabetically. Job done! 

Here at the Bureau I have 55 logs, and each time I printed a label for a different DX Call sign, the label had to be over-typed “73 de M0URX TIM” or whoever’s label I was printing so the next stage was to programme the software to “grab” information from the “Station Location” file of the log information such as MYCALL MYNAME and automatically add this information to the QSO Report label for each log when I click on “Print QSL” 

This has now been improved further with MYIOTA & MYGRID to automatically add the IOTA and Grid Locator to the report label if required.

This development in the Winlog32 software is invaluable to me with sometimes thousands of QSL cards to print from up to 55 different DX’pedition logs. Thanks Colin your work is very much appreciated!

Read more: Winlog32 Logging Software Development Work

10m openings

At last today the Sporadic E conditions opened up very well here in Coventry. I opened the M0URX log at 13:27z this afternoon on 28.525 MHz calling CQ, first to reply to my call was SM7DWL Nils in Sweden, great the first spring opening to Scandinavia so I turned the beam a little higher to see what other countries I could work on 10m. I enjoy trying to work as many DXCC in a year on each band, testing propagation trying to find the limits of openings and the limits of my antenna and trying to learn more about the behaviour of propagation at different times of the year and the sunspot cycle.

I continued my “CQ 10m” with a reply from RU2FA Nick from Kaliningrad so for sure the E’s were favouring the Baltic area, just how far will the band open? Will I work a new band slot? I was beginning to feel quite excited about the opening, I had a good feeling about the band today. Keen to keep the momentum going I called CQ again, I hear a quiet reply ,did I hear that correct? UK8 ? I asked the UK8 to repeat his call sign, I dropped the antenna to 90 degrees and the signal came up nice and strong it was UK8OM Mike, I explained to Mike that this was my first 10m Q with Uzbekistan and thanked him for the reply to my CQ call and that a direct QSL was on it’s way. We chatted for a few moments before signing off and I called CQ again.

Contacts with Austria, Germany, Latvia, Poland, Denmark followed in quick fire “59” Qs and some short hop E’s too with contacts into the Netherlands just a few 100 km’s away.

I spotted A71CT Sultan on the cluster just a few KHz away from me so I spun the dial to say hello, he heard my first call, and bang in the log. Great so the band is alive now, back to ‘525 for some more CQ calls, first of course checking to see if the frequency I had left was still available.

Quite soon the E’s were moving over to North and East Europe as lots of UA6’s were calling me and also plenty of QRP stations too, it’s a great feeling to pull the 1w stations out of the noise, with E’s taking away the signal with QSB it takes some effort to get these guys in the log, but I hear their delight in his voice when I hear “yes, yes 100% you have my call” so thank you for the patience of the QRP guys!

Then two stations from Republic of Georgia called me, 4L4MG Murman & 4L1AMM Amiran wow this is great! Very weak I was hearing E?3 I tried but couldn’t get the prefix so I was not sure where to turn the beam. A DL station told me that it was EI3 so I asked everyone to stand by and not to help as I tried again to call the EI3, his signal picked up well on backscatter I got him this time it was EI3GV Brendan in Ireland. I needed Ireland for my personal challenge of working as many DXCC’s as I can in 2010. That contact was followed by MW0CND Martin in Swansea another backscatter contact. The afternoon continued well with many more countries logged. By 17:00z I had logged 130 stations on 10m from about 20 countries, not a huge amount by any means but just great fun. Thanks to all of you.

Incoming QSL Bureau

Wednesday 5th May
Something a little different on the blog this week. I will take you through a weeks work at the office with all the Bureau QSL cards to give you an insight into the work involved.  
I received a large box from the RSGB Bureau containing 3,400 QSL Via M0URX.
Status - ALL Bureau cards posted to World Bureaus 14/05/2010.
QSL cards will be sent direct to World Bureaus. A large percentage of cards are for 2007 and 2008, this shows just how far behind the RSGB Bureau is in my opinion! So if i had sent these cards back through RSGB Bureau it would be about 5 year turn around. Simply NOT acceptable is it?

3DA0OK   278 QSL cards processed - 50% of log QSL confirmed!
5B/G4MKP   6 QSL cards processed
7P8OK      107 QSL cards processed - 35% of log QSL confirmed
9M4SEB       7 QSL cards processed  
9M6DXX      94 QSL cards processed
9M6DXX/P 116 QSL cards processed  
9M6/G3OOK 30 QSL cards processed  
9M6XRO    481 QSL cards processed  
9M6XRO/P 108 QSL cards processed 
9M8Z         245 QSL cards processed 
A25OOK      61 QSL cards processed 
C91XO       169 QSL cards processed 50% of log QSL confirmed!
CY2ZT/2    116 QSL cards processed
M0URX      156 QSL cards processed
M0XXT       108 QSL cards processed  
MC0SHL    301 QSL cards processed 
MW9W      323 QSL cards processed 
OY4TN        55 QSL cards processed
V8FEO        62 QSL cards processed
XU7DXX       30 QSL cards processed
XU7XRO    142 QSL cards processed
ZC4VJ         44 QSL cards processed
ZS6.GM3OOK 30 QSL cards processed

Just 33 direct letters this week. I would normally do those daily as the letters come in but with so many bureau cards to deal with i have just processed direct today. All post has been posted 14/05/2010

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