Archive - July 2010

OC-295 Sebatik Island IOTA DX’pedition 24-27 September 2010

9M6XRO, 9M6DXX, 9W6AMC, 9W6LEE and G3USR plan to activate the rare IOTA island of Pulau Sebatik, OC-295, from 24 to 27 September inclusive. The operation will be on 10 – 80m with the emphasis on 15 – 40m. Two stations will be used with amplifiers to a HexBeam and verticals located directly above the sea water.

Callsigns will be 9M6XRO/P on CW and 9M6DXX/P on SSB and it is hoped to have both stations on the air during all the major openings to Europe and North America. OC-295 has only been claimed by 14.2% of IOTA participants, having been activated just once before, in July 2006. QSL both callsigns via M0URX, direct, bureau, or LoTW.

Image above – ‘Kampung Air’ stilt village, Sebatik Island.

See Sebatik 2010 for further details and for a link to M0URX’s on-line QSL request form for both direct and bureau cards.

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.

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.

Wallis & Futuna Islands on 17m


Wow, 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.



Great 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 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

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.

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