A35JT OC-049 Tonga

VK5KI DXPedition to Kangaroo Island OC-139: ON HOLD

It is with much reluctance that the VK5KI team have decided to suspend preparations to travel to Kangaroo Island IOTA OC-139 in July.

The rapidly deteriorating situation revolving around the COVID-19 Pandemic has recently seen locals on the island calling for a full quarantine. Out of respect for them, and for the new requests from the Australian Government for people to avoid all non essential travel and inter-person contact, we will reschedule the project to a later time (potentially 2021).

In addition, the RSGB contest committee has announced the following:

RSGB HFCC: IOTA Contest and additonal contests(Nick G4FAL – hfcc.chair@rsgbcc.org)

We have reached a point with COVID-19 that it is inappropriate for us to run the IOTA Contest in July 2020 in its usual format. We cannot encourage our participants to operate in multi-operator groups nor to travel to island locations where visitors are not currently welcome. We would like your opinion on whether we should cancel outright or should retain a contest this year for single operator, home stations only.

It is clear that the IOTA contest, one of the main drivers for the intended dates, will now not accept the expedition as an entry. This was a major motivation behind our decision.

We will re-plan VK5KI and other IOTA projects once borders and quarantine conditions both reopen.

Meanwhile everyone, stay home, avoid personal contact and stay safe through these extraordinary times! See you on air instead!

Press Release #6: A35JT in Oceania DX SSB Contest

For those wanting SSB contact with A35JT please look out on the bands for us operating the last 24 hours of the expedition in the Oceania DX contest. We hope to run all contest bands as a Multi-One station (160/80/40/20/15/10). Other activity will also run on Station 2 as either FT8 or CW outside of the contest. Statoon 2 is closing tomorrow lunchtime (Sunday around 0000z on the 6th of October). We will also be tearing down the 160m antenna and the 80m antenna Sunday morning as well as the 40m 4-square antenna. 30m will end at lunchtime also leaving only the SSB station remaining after this time. A huge thanks to everyone who has worked us over the past 2 weeks.

Live Stream Logging Disabled During the contest

To make it fair the team has disabled the LiveStream logging during the Oceania DX Contest. The final log upload will occur after the contest (and due to teardown operations may not be completed until we land in Auckland New Zealand on Tuesday).

Top Band Activity: The little antenna that could…

Since we started here at A35JT we have been working 160m as much as we can on ours, NAs and EUs greylines. So far we have had 209 CW QSOs, 246 FT8 QSOs and 4 RTTY QSOs (yes you read that right – we were mad enough to have some fun on RTTY on 160m).

How did we do it? With 500W or less and a 12m high inverted L antenna built on a Spiderbeam pole out of parts from a CrankIR 80m extension kit. This little antenna has performed wildly beyond our expectations. Hats off in particular to Steve VK5SFA who worked on the design and to the operating team for this little creation.

Pres Release #3: An Exciting Day (in the wrong way)

It was an eventful day here in Tonga. The team was in the radio room working away when Oly VK5XDX says “can anyone hear crackling”. They look outside and see an approaching scrub fire. Very quickly the fire brigade was called, the antennas dropped to make way for the tender and preparations were made to warn off ember attack. As the team are all from Australia thoughts immediately turned to the worst, given VK’s history of bush fires. This however was very different as there was a grassy paddock the other side of the green tropical foliage next to our accommodation blocks. When the fire reached that it stopped and burned itself out.

It was made all the more stressful as Grant VK5GR (team leader) was off site picking up his family from the airport plus food supplies for the crew and couldnt be reached. He returned to the site in disarray and a lot of very nervous people at the point of the fire’s closest approach.

In hindsight the threat was probably pretty low given the way the fire was burning, but it set the team on edge for sure. We are all safe and well now and returning to normal operations. The only antenna that probably wont go back up is the 6m beam (we had planned on ending the EME sessions as of Sunday anyway.) the 30m 4sq and 40m 4sq are restored as is the HexBeam. We will see you on the air!

A35JT Operating Frequencies Revised

The A35JT DXPedition team has revised our frequency plan.  It is going to be very crowded on the bands with up to 5 concurrent expeditions. We have reviewed all available data and have made some changes accordingly. Please see the latest information here:

160m1818kHz1846kHz1803kHz1840kHz (1908kHz for JA)
80m (for JA)3518kHz3775kHz DOWN 53535kHz3570kHz
6m EME50185kHz JT65A

On 6m EME look for us on: 50.203MHz

The team will monitor the DXClusters if possible and will further adapt the plan according to band usage. See you on air in about 4 days time!

News Update: Antennas clear customs – final preparations underway!

We had some great news today. Our antenna shipment has cleared customs and quarantine processes and is ready for us to collect on Monday! A huge thank you to Mary and all of the staff at Pacific Forum Line in Nuku’alofa as well as to the good folk in the Revenue and Customs Ministry who helped facilitate this on our behalf. We look forward to thanking you all in person for your help and support next week! Thank you also to Mala at Tayper Freight Forwarders back in Australia for handling this end of the shipment.

Meanwhile, back in Australia, two of the stations are packed into their travel cases and the third is being finalised now. The low band antennas and Spiderbeam 12m fibreglass pole were also packed today (they are flying in with us as luggage). The team is now getting excited to get out there and get on the air!