Low Band Antenna Development: 80m confirmed

A lot of work has been going on in the background building the antenna system that I will take to Vanuatu this year. That work culminated in a first successful on air test this weekend on 80 and 40m. This is a positivie development and confirms that 80m will be one of the active bands from Vanuatu next month!

Antenna Design

The antenna is based on the 40m folded monopole solution that was used last year on Niue, but scaled up to 80m. Mechanically it is now based on a 12m Spiderbeam. The design allows for the main radial to be variable in length as well as the ground radials, such that the whole antenna is effectively tune-able from 80m-10m). The design has been modeled in 4NEC2. The results are shown below for 80m.

Structural Details

The design is based on the following basic components:

  • 2x Fly Fishing Reels
  • 1x Nylon cutting board
  • 1x 3 terminal screw block
  • 8AWG enamel copper wire
  • 1.5mm dia 7×19 stainless steel wire (for the driven element)
  • 1x 12m SpiderBeam pole
  • 2 sections of a 9m Squid Fishing Pole

You can see the construction method here:

Field Test

Out in the field the mast was rigged such that the guys provided the spacing over the top of the mast giving it a peak height of 12m. Groundwave QSOs on 80m were achieved over ~20km at 59+30dB for 50W in daylight. The coil in the first run had too many turns so some more fettling is required there. We also achieved some late afternoon 40m contacts with the coil out of circuit and the driven element wound in resulting in a native 1/4 wave that matched 50ohms. No reason to think it wont tune 30m as well as 20-10m. Next steps are now to tidy up some of the mechanics and then retest with taping the coil in various places.

Once 80-10m are working, 160m will be tried with a top hat loading wire and a counterpoise radial. 160m is still an experiment and is not guaranteed. However we may be lucky.

New Expedition Announced: YJ0AG Vanuatu – April 16-30 2018

After the success and fun of the expedition to Niue in 2017, I came home and started dreaming of my next destination. 2018 marked a year of change however with my daughter now starting school, which curtailed to an extent when we could go. That and considering other events around home, it was decided in 2018 to advance the next trip to the April School holidays rather than wait until September again. This also meant that the available time for logistics was reduced, so it had to be somewhere relatively simple!

Vanuatu Selected for 2018 – YJ0AG

After casting around the Pacific weighing up accommodation and travel options, we have settled on a visit to the island nation of Vanuatu. We will be based on the island of Efate, about 20-30 minutes from Port Vila (the capital).

Our travel plans see us arriving on Efate Island, Vanuatu on April 16th, with the hope that we will be on air sometime on the 17th for about 12 days. The callsign will be YJ0AG. Licensing is nearly complete with the telecommunications regulator in Vanuatu and the callsign is now confirmed.

I will be trying to target Europe and digital modes in particular but will provide plenty of opportunities to all regions of the globe. I am also planning an SSTV activity day and possible participation in the Polish RTTY DX Contest.

NOTE: If I am calling a particular region, I will still accept calls from OC, AF and SA stations at any time.

The station will consist of:

  • Elecraft K3/KPA500
  • MW0JZE G3TXQ Ultralight weight HexBeam 20-10m
  • 1/4 wave vertical 30-40m
  • 1/4 wave folded vertical 80m
  • Inverted L – 160m (tentative)

QSL Management, OQRS etc will again be via Charles M0OXO. QSL details will be released shortly.

A new Website – is being commissioned which will contain more information about the project over the coming weeks.

More news to follow!

E6AG Finally on LoTW

After a couple of mixups I am pleased to announce that the E6AG logs have finally been uploaded to Logbook of the World! The QSL cards have also been printed and the first batch will be mailed shortly (thanks Charles M0OXO for all your help there).

Stay tuned – the final full trip report is also slowly coming together and should be published here (hopefully) within the week!

73 and Good DX de Grant VK5GR / E6AG

Updated E6AG Contact Map

I tracked down the log mapping site I have used before and can now demonstrate some of the difficulties I had with some paths. Most of Western Europe was indeed almost over the north pole – certainly I was heavily dependent on polar paths to reach EU from Niue! I am however pretty pleased with the spread of contacts across South America – a continent I rarely hear from home (for a similar reason – mostly polar paths over Antarctica).

E6AG QSL Card Design

I have already begun designing the QSL cards for the E6AG expedition. The plan is to make a 4 sided card available via OQRS and for the bureau requests a 2 sided card. Printing and graphics authorizations are still pending but I am working towards releasing the cards through Charles M0OXO as soon as I can! Remember OQRS is now open via M0OXO Logsearch

E6AG On Air: Where did I work?

A good friend of mine once said everything is more interesting with statistics. With that in mind, here are some graphics that visualise where in the world we managed to work from Niue this trip.

DXCC Worked Statistics

The following is a look at the breakup of contacts by band and country. This first table is the number of countries worked by band.

We can then break this down by contacts per band and contacts per mode.

I am very pleased at the lack of duplicates and the number of unique stations we managed to contact and give Niue to as a new band / mode / slot.

Activity by Mode

The next set of charts break up the logs by Band / mode and Continent / Mode.

From this we can also see that FT8 was a dominating mode towards most continents.

Maps of Contacts

Some of my favourite contacts were the low band ones Рin part because they were some of the most challenging. Also, they were the bands with the least efficient antennas this trip, being a simple dipole in the coconut trees. It took several goes in some cases and most were based on skeds but we  achieved quite a good result all things considered on 80/160m.

160m Contact Map


80m Contact Map

Higher Bands 40-10m

The next set of maps are the results achieved on the remaining bands. Many of these were achieved with my dual antenna setup with transmit via the vertical and receive on the dipole to overcome the local noise floor issues I found on 20m in particular.

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For my first attempt at an international DXpedition I have surprised myself at what was achieved. Thanks to everyone for your patience in trying to work me. Thanks also to everyone who arranged skeds that we were able to fulfill, and my apologies to everyone who tried by failed to make contact. I hope to head out again to Niue in a few years time so this wont be the last time to work me out there thats for sure. Next time it will be bigger and better!

73 de Grant VK5GR / E6AG