My Blog & Expedition News
We are pleased to announce that OQRS (Online QSL Request Services) are now available for those who wish to request QSL cards. These are provided via our QSL manager Charles M0OXO.
We have completed background extraction and comparison of the WSJT internal logs with our main database and tracked down about 120-130 missing contacts. Most of these occured when one of the systems was running an old version of the software in the first 2 days. Others were when we broke the network apart to separate contesting from standard operations. These have been added to both M0OXO and to Clublog.
If you still cant find your contact please lodge a busted calls request with M0OXO and we will try tracking it down. Note however that we will be following DXCC rules. If it doesn’t have log evidence for the contact then sorry we will not be able to help you.
Thank you Charles!
The team wishes to give a big thank you to Charles for his continuing service as our QSL Manager. I have worked with Charles now on 3 expeditions as well as having him handle my own domestic logs. He does a stellar service and I can’t recommend him more highly if you are in need of QSL Manager Services. Thank you Charles!
Along the way during our journey we have had help from many people.
We would particularly like to thank Christan Sakalia A35CS in Tonga who helped with transport to and from the airport across the island, as well as sorting out a number of logistics issues for us prior to the trip.
We also want to thank Jean-Philippe ZL1RPL who helped with transport for the team from Auckland Airport on Monday night. Your contributions both made a difference to the smooth running of the expedition.
I also again must thank Mary Mahe from Pacific Forum Line who helped the “crazy Aussies” in our madcap adventure with freighting our antennas to and from Tonga. I also want to thank Mala Sjarif from Tayper Freight Forwarders in Australia for her help on the VK end with the transport arrangements.
It is this sort of support that helps make these expeditions possible. Thanks everyone!
Folks from all of us at A35JT it has been a pleasure bringing this DXpedition to you. We just went out with a bang on 17m calling Europe, Japan and everywhere. We have made over 15000 contacts and worked over 132 DXCC entities since arriving in the Kingdom of Tonga 2 weeks ago. Thanks everyone for your support, encouragement and most of all your contact with us in one of SSB, FT8, CW, PSK, RTTY or EME.
A special thank you to our sponsors and donors too. Without your help we would not have made it to Tonga in the first place. In particular a hige thank you to EUDXF, GDXF, SDXF, CDXC-F, CDXC-UK, RSGB, SpiderBeam, RF Solutions (Brisbane), HF Radio Solutions (Riverland), Messi & Paoloni, UX5UO Print and the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group. We must also thank our off island team, Charles M0OXO our QSL Manager, Bjorn ON9CFG our chief pilot, and our regional pilots in Steve N2AJ, Joe JJ3PRT, Ricardo PY2PT, Jim AC9EZ and Chris VK5SA. Without that off island support a project like this is much harder to achieve.
To the EME community a huge thank you too for your support and faith that a couple of EME novices could pull off EME from a remote south Pacific nation. It has been a privilege to attempt 6m EME communications for the very first time from Tonga (A3). Thank you for your support of us in attempting this.
Finally, a full report will be prepared shortly. Meanwhile it is dark here already and we have 12 hours to complete tear-down, pack-up and get our equipment to the freight handlers, and ourselves to the airport. Time to go and load the last cases.
73 all from the team at A35JT – Grant VK5GR, Oly VK5XDX, Andy VK5AKH, Steve VK5SFA, Sharon VK5FSAW and Amelia…
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).
One of the projects we embarked on for the expedition was to take a 4-square antenna for 40m with us. Then we added 30m to the mix as well. These two antennas have really taken the stations capabilities to the next level. Without the 40m one in particular our SSB activities towards Europe would have been very difficult indeed.
During the CQ WW RTTY contest the 40m 4-square was invaluable in trying to separate the simplex pileup on RTTY as well. The power to switch in 20-30dB front to back and add gain to the signal was fantastic.
Oly VK5XDX took the lead in developing the 40m 4-square antenna and did a fantastic job. Based on 4x 12m fibreglass fishing poles, he used an elevated radial system to maximise efficiency.The controller and phase shifter was all home brewed especially for this expedition.
What we hadn’t bargained on initially, but which has been invaluable in the expedition has been the power to take one of the 40m elements by day and tune it to 15m as an omni. We used this to great effect to enable multiple high band stations on the air at the same time using the antennas we had.
The 30m 4-square was the brainchild of Steve VK5SFA. Using similar fundamental designs as 40m, Steve developed this antenna using 10m fibre glass fishing poles. Again an elevated radial system was used and results were also impressive.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to capitalize on this antenna for a long. Initially due to running out of space on the site, we installed it across the driveway. That proved a problem when rapid access was required for the fire truck. After hastily being lowered to the ground, it was decided to re-erect it as a single 30m vertical which is what we have run for the rest of the expedition. It was disappointing that we couldn’t use it longer but it worked great when it was in the air.
We also made a modification to this antenna and found that it could be made to run on 10m with a 100:50ohm transformer and a tweak to the element length. It was great to be able to multi-purpose these antennas on site during the expedition.
The team has today passed 12,800 contacts with 123 DXCC Worked.We wish to express our sincere appreciation to amateurs around the world who have taken the time to make contact with us. We have had a lot of fun doing so, including opening some unusual slots such as RTTY and PSK yesterday. The feedback received has been amazing to our little expedition so thank you very much indeed for your support.
A reminder too that we are going to be looking for All Time New Ones (ATNOs) today and tomorrow. We want to give the little stations a chance to get Tonga into their logs for the very first time.
Thanks to our Sponsors
We must again say a huge thank you to our sponsors and supporters. SpiderBeam, RF Solutions, Messi & Paoloni, HF Radio Solutions, European DX Foundation (EUDXF), Swiss DX Foundation (SDXF), Clipperton DX Foundation (CDXC-F), Clipperton UK DX Foundation, German DX Foundation (GDXF) and RSGB. A huge thank you to our individual donors as well. We will acknowledge all donations once we get to New Zealand and have 5 minute spare 🙂
With less than 48 hours to go before we close, pack up and return to Australia our thoughts have turned to what remaining bands and modes we have operators, equipment and antenna combinations for.
Remaining Operating Plans
30m: We know we have requests for more 30m and plan to fill those with station 2 during the Oceania DX SSB contest running FT8 or CW.
160m: We will also make an attempt either tonight (Friday) or Saturday around 1000-1100z for 160m either CW or FT8 seeking eastern North America
80m: We will try and find one more window for 80m FT8 as well (and who knows perhaps even 80m RTTY). Look out after 1130z tonight.
40m: SSB to VK tonight starting sometime after 0900z
Opportunities during the Oceania DX Contest
A35JT will operate this year during the Oceania DX contest on SSB. This will be your last opportunity to work us. Look out in particular for:
20m: We also have requests for more 20m SSB to Europe which again we will look for during Saturday and Sunday evenings here on Tonga (06-12z + 18zboth days).
40m: Europe Sunset greyline
80m: We will be operating 75m SSB one more time also during the OCDX SSB Contest particularly for North America.
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.
As A35JT enters Week 2 things are going well. We are hugely appreciative of the kind feedback we have recieved and wish to thank everyone for your contacts with us from Tonga. We continue to explore different band openings and times looking for the unexpected. We also are capitalising on greyline openings on 160m and will do more on 80m in the next few days.
At the same time we will as far as resources allow target the main EU 20 and 17m openings (noting we cant operate 40-20m together and we cant operate 20-17m together). 30m will receive more attention in the next couple of days as well.
Finally, we have been alerted to some potential 12m and 10m openings to South America around 17-18z through our pilot network. We will attempt to exploit those if they are there tomorrow.
ATNO Friday (UTC)!
We also want to open up some lesser used slots and bring some RTTY back to expeditioning. We continue seeking to target more ATNO QSOs for first time contact with Tonga and will call for CQ ATNO (All Time New One) on Friday looking for the smaller stations seeking their first contact with this DXCC.
Team Member Departs – Week 2 More Relaxed
We also said goodbye to one of our team members last night. Steve VK5SFA was unable to stay for the entrie expedition so we are down to 3 operators. The second week will be more relaxed as a result. We have been working ~1500 stations a day with the full team. We expect that to decrease as we take some time to also explore the island a little. Team leader Grant VK5GR has also been joined by his family and will be taking some time off during the day to be with his wife and daughter. We will still try to maintain 1 station on air for as many hours as we can in the second week so keep looking for us here in the South Pacific.
We are also planning an effort for the Oceania DX contest, but may not be able to run the entire event. The problem we face is the contest finishes at 0800z which is 9:00pm local on Sunday. We fly out at 1.40pm Monday so packup will be starting during the contest.
Our effort in the CQ WW RTTY contest was more to provide multipliers in the end. Too many other demands on the station meant a full RTTY effort was unable to be mounted. We will submit our log as a CHECKLOG due to the number of broken contacts unfortunately caused by DQRM. At least some of the contesters will be able to get verification of working A35JT this way.
Thanks and see you on air!
Finally thanks again to everyone who has donated to the expedition! It is hugely appreciated! Your support both in terms of encouragement and financial is humbling. We are not a big expedition and many of the team members are new to expeditioning. The feedback received has had a huge impact on the team and for that we say thank you!
73 and see you on the air!
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!
Emergency is over, everyone is safe and no damage done. The antennas are back in the air and operations will resume shortly https://t.co/xYn4mSJ2ko
— A35JT Dxpedition 2019 (@A35JT_2019) September 30, 2019