The full and final logs for the VK5KI activation of IOTA OC-139 – Kangaroo Island – have now been sent to our QSL Manager, Charles M0OXO. OQRS is open for you to request your QSL cards either direct (at a cost of US$3.00) or via the bureau (Free). You can access our OQRS service by clicking on the M0OXO logo here:
How did we go whilst on the island you might ask? We have just finished compiling the statistics and it is an interesting story. We are firstly impressed wih the high number of unique calls worked on this expedition. We put that down in part to working only a small selection of bands, each one targeted to a specific area. As it was the middle of winter here in southern Australia, nighttime maximum usable frequencies (MUF) can struggle to make it to the 14MHz (20m) band. Indeed we saw very few workable night time openings this trip, not helped by the CME which hit on Monday. 30m became the stand out band with 40m very close behind. Domestic contacts were most easily obtained on 80m, although we had some surprises with South America and the Falkland Islands being worked on 80m as well using FT8 as well as a small number of 80m SSB contacts to the USA.
Given it was a holiday style activation, and during the day we were often out looking around the island or spending time with family, to achieve the contacts that we did was very satisfying.
We were also a little surprised at the number of people actively chasing contacts with us for ATNIs (All time new Islands). The interest in the IOTA aspect of the operation was fantastic and made the trip down here with the style of station that we took worthwhile. We also were conscious of some anti FT8 sentiment in the IOTA community and so did attempt to work an even amount of SSB and CW as well. In the end FT8 did account for half of the contacts, with the other half a combination of CW and SSB. The split we feel was more reflective of it being a weekday activation in combination with the poor propagation making SSB difficult. It cant be said that we didnt try. One of our best openings was in fact to Europe on 30m CW on the Wednesday night. We had a sustained pileup for over 4 hours. It was fantastic to see the interest in chasing us.
Finally, thank you to everyone who made contact, and to those who missed out dont worry, VK5KI will continue to make trips down here over the next few years. Kangaroo Island is only 120km from home. While it is a bit expensive to travel across to the island, it doesn’t compare to the costs of a big international effort. We most definitely will be back!
Where did we Work?
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Our station was a relatively modest one, comprising two operating positions.
Station 1 was based on an Elecraft K3S, KPA500 Linear and KAT500 ATU with a Microham Keyer II. The software stack was based on N1MM running on an i5 Intel NUC PC.
Station 2 comprised an IC7600 with an SPE 1.5K-FA amplifier (running only 400W as we are in VK) supplied by Andy VK5AKH
Antennas – 40m
The antennas we used comprised a monoband 40m vertical with an elevated feed and radial system. This was built on a 12m fibreglass pole (and in fact was one element of the 40m 4-square array used in Tonga last year on A35JT). We didnt erect the complete 4-square this time as we simply weren’t on the ground long enough to justify the time it takes to erect vs how long we would have left to use it.
Antennas – 30m
The 30m band antenna was very similar but was based on a CrankIR but rigged on a 9m fibreglass pole allowing for elevated radials to again be used. This configuration again was similar to one of the elements of our Tonga 30m 4-square. These two antennas were spaced about 60m apart which allowed us to operate both bands simultaneously with the help of a set of W3NQN filters.
Antennas – 20m-10m + 80m
The 20m-10m antenna was based on a MW0JZE designed light weight portable Hex Beam mounted atop a KR150 rotator supported by a Spiderbeam 10m aluminium portable tower. Just below the beam we also strung an 80m inverted V dipole. (The dipole wasn’t on the tower when the photo was taken). Adding the rotator was a godsend in the chilly conditions we faced down there. While we had great weather, it was very cold at night (around 5 deg C). Having the ability to stay inside was appreciated by the team. It also meant it was easier to chase the fleeting openings we found on 20m. The 20m beam was located about 150m away from the 40m antenna which also helped greatly with our ability to run both the beam and either 40 or 30m simultaneously which we did on occasion.
All of the antennas were fed with Hyperflexx-7 feedline (RG8 equivalent) which accommodated the nearly 100m cable run out to the 40m antenna.
So there you have it – that was our modest mini-DXpedition station.
Again thank you to everyone who worked us. We look forward to when we can next bring you yet another IOTA potentially from around VK!
(Stay tuned also for the holiday blog which I will write up later in the week).
73 from Grant VK5GR and Andrew VK5AKH – operators at VK5KI – Kangaroo Island – July 2020.