VK5KI Kangaroo Island IOTA OC-139 Expedition News

YJ0AG QSO Statistics

A good friend once told me, everything is enhanced with statistics! So here are some tallies for my operation here at YJ0AG Vanuatu

The workhorse band as always was 20m although a sizeable contribution came from 17 and 40m. The low bands fared well with the same number of contacts on 80m as 15m. 61% of the contacts came from bands above 14MHz while 39% came from bands below 14MHz.

Mode wise it was a relatively even spread with SSB and FT8 roughly equally split, followed by CW then RTTY. This showed the greatly increased focus on SSB and CW modes this trip compared with Niue last year.

Finally, the chart everyone always comments on. As always when operating in the pacific it is hard to not work the Asian stations and they feature heavily in the log. I am however pleased to see that both NA and EU were well represented as was OC (as it should being my home region). Unfortunately SA and AF were insignificant, despite several times when SA stations were being seen on FT8 calling CQ SA. There are clearly a lot of stations that need a geography lesson. It seems whenever I called for a region on FT8 that was exactly the region I didnt work. Not sure what to do about that. I spent a lot of time manually selecting who to call next to try and control the balance.

In the last 2 days I also tried to prioritise first time entries into the log as opposed to slot hunters. Again hard to do on FT8 and often saw me madly checking callsigns in N1MM before selecting them to answer.

The grand totals for the trip are:

Total QSOs : 3357
Total Uniques: 2234 (66.55%)


Not a bad effort for a one man show on holidays. This was carried out over 85Hrs of operating at an average QSO rate of 40/hr across the 2 weeks.

Where did we work?

Thanks to everyone for all the QSOs – without you on the other end trips like these would be very lonely!

YJ0AG now QRT – Teardown has begun

Thank you everyone for all of the contacts! Time to tear the station down and pack it away for transport home tomorrow. Its been loads of fun. I worked 96DXCCs over 3200 contacts in 12 days covering CW, SSB, FT8 and RTTY modes from 160-10m.

The following map gives an idea of the reach we achieved this year from Vanuatu.

A full write up and tourist report will follow! Vanuatu is an amazing if not crazy place – a must see destination for any intrepid traveller!

73 de Grant YJ0AG / VK5GR / E6AG


Last 48 Hours – Looking for ATNOs!

Hello Folks – its been a very busy time on the air from YJ0AG during the hours I have been on the air. I am now approaching 2500 contacts in the log on what is a holiday style operation.

As I count down to the last 48hrs on air, I am noticing more and more that I have a lot of people chasing band slots. Up to now I have been happily working them, however as the expedition draws to a close, I really want to make sure that I maximise the number of ATNOs I can hand out. So, if you have worked me before and need a slot, please only call if it is clear that I am calling CQ without getting any responses. Lets share it around please 

73 de Grant YJ0AG / VK5GR

160m Aborted – Receive Wipeout (RFI)

Unfortunately it looks like 160m will not be active during my stay in Vanuatu. I spent many hours last night trying to trace this noise source. We turned everything off that we could find and still no improvement. I tried constructing and erecting a delta receive loop antenna in the dark last night all to no avail. I will keep hunting for the noise source to see if it can be salvaged but I am not hopeful.

I am hugely disappointed by this outcome. Especially as the back channel reports I was receiving indicated I was 599 on CW in Australia and FT8 had me reported all around the Pacific and even in the Falklands. Transmit worked a treat – receive is a complete failure.

I am sorry to all the DX Chasers too who had hoped to put YJ in the books on 160m. I brought everything I could fit within my weight limits to try and have alternatives for receive but in this case nothing in my arsenal has worked, and I dont have room to try any sort of meaningful beverage (30m wont cut it). It does inspire me to come out here again in the future with the specific intention of running a low band operation. Perhaps next time with more amateur help as well rather than just as a one man holiday show.

Where I was heard on 160m Last night – wish I could hear you!



Calls from home – AREG Members work YJ0AG

As happened when I was on Niue, the monthly meeting of the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group (of which I am the treasurer) clashed with my trip. So the team gathered together in the car park around a mobile and those that wanted to got into the logs again of YJ0AG! Theo VK5MTM filmed the activity from their end. Thanks for the contacts guys.

Meanwhile Leo VK2LJM reports big signals from YJ0AG on FT8 80m tonight. I have made quite a few 80m FT8 QSOs again this evening including to the USA and Asiatic Russia as well as Japan. Looks like the 80m antenna is working a treat! Thanks Leo for this screen shot via Facebook!

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Station Build Complete – Now on air 80-6m

The Rise of the HexBeam

It has taken about 6 hours of hot sweaty work but I am pleased to announce that the 20-6m HexBeam is now in the air and working fabulously. Currently as I type this I have a pileup on 20m FT8 more than 20 stations deep. A big thanks again to Ant MW0JZE who special ordered one of his Light weight portable HexBeams for me.

The Operating Position

Meanwhile, the operating position is also established. Apart from some TVI issues forcing restricted power on some bands during viewing hours everything is working 100%. I only forgot one cable – but fortunately ComputerWorld here in Port Vila had the missing USB link for the SDR receiver.

Now to settle in, enjoy the DX and slip into island life yet again….. 73 de Grant YJ0AG / VK5GR / E6AG

40m CW run last night – Baptism of Fire

Baptism of Fire – 40m CW

Last night I decided that there has to be a first time – so in I dived into a 40m CW pile. This was my first attempt at seriously running a CW mini expedition pile. It was definitely hard work when your CW isn’t as polished as the big guns but even so I managed to put about 70 contacts into the log over 2 hours. I will be back on CW again so keep a look out on the RBN and the Cluster!

This was the pile as seen back home in VK5 – thanks to Mark VK5QI.


We have arrived! After a long day on Monday when we made it to our accommodation at around 5pm after leaving home at 3am, Tuesday was spent first making a trip into Port Vila to visit a super market for supplies, and then we headed back home and started building the station. It was hot humid work but by about 4pm we had the 40m station ready to go, Last night after dinner we started up in earnest with our first run on 40m SSB before rigging the antenna for 80m and giving that a try. The noise floor on 40 and 30m is pretty good, but on 80m I can hear some powerline noise (there is what looks to be a 22kV overhead line across the street). All being considered it is pretty acceptable compared to the suburban racket I have back home.

Plans for today

Today is the first day of sight seeing. We are off to the museum and to explore Port Vila some more. So far I have been taken aback by the amount of traffic – and trying to remember how to drive on the “wrong side of the road” again is a challenge. Meanwhile back at the house things are taking shape and this promises to be a very relaxing stay!

On Air

Later today I hope to setup the 20-10m beam to compliment the vertical. I will then hopefully get more chances to work Europe. Meanwhile I will also give some more chances on 80m of an evening and in the morning as well. I left the station on receive last night and copied a few EU signals on that band so will see if I can wake up early enough to give that a try tomorrow morning as well around 1600-1700 utc.


I have also uploaded the first log into Clublog. Uploads will usually be daily.

YJ0AG 10 Days to Go!

DXPedition Chart courtesy DX-World and MM0NDX/IK8LOV

Departure Looms: 16th April

Only 11 days to go before we depart for Vanuatu and our next DX Holiday adventure! Everything is falling into place. The gear is all tested, accommodation has been reconfirmed, flights are confirmed and we have finally solved the customs conundrum (called how to export and then reimport something over $2000 in your luggage). We are now closely watching the weather (hoping that no more cyclones form out in the Pacific – they have been late this year) and watching the ionosphere hoping for good conditions. Final software shakedown will be this weekend with both the main and backup laptops being put through their paces before we lock out Windows and other software upgrades/changes (something I learned last time that I didnt want happening on “thin internet”.

If you would like a personalised propagation chart for when to try and work us, enter your grid locator here.

(Thanks to Jari OH6BG and the www.voacap.com team)

Vanuatu Propagation Planning

Updated Operating Plans

Bands that I will be operating on will include FT8 and CW by request on 160m (including 1840/1908 split operation), FT8, CW and SSB on 80m and then most modes on 40m-10m. I will try and pay attention to and be on air for the openings to Europe in particular (as YJ to there is in the top 60 most wanted) as well as providing time on 80m where YJ also is wanted. I am planning more SSB operation this time compared to Niue as well and will self spot when I can come up on air (noting that family does come first and principally this is a holiday for them and me above all else). Principal times I am likely to be on air are from 0600-0800, 1000-1500 UTC and 1900-2300UTC most days. I will also try and operate at various times during the day as well – however that will not be daily.

NOTE: VK/ZL/OC/SA/AF stations can call at any time!

If you are on one of these call areas your calls will be welcome at any time regardless of which region I may be calling. On a volume basis there are comparatively few hams in those areas so the disturbance to any pileup will be minimal. I will also try to identify the best times for regions like South America and try to particularly target there on the appropriate band time.

I am prepared to take requests for Skeds as well, however can make no promises that I can fulfill them all. If you want a sked tried, email me at vk5gr.radio@gmail.com

Looking forward to working you all on the bands! 73 de Grant VK5GR / YJ0AG!

YJ0AG Preparations Continue – 20-10m Beam Testing Complete

The final end to end testing of the G3TXQ Portable HexBeam by Ant MW0JZE was completed today! Im very pleased to report that it came in at better than 1.2:1 on all bands. A very impressive product in the way Ant has packaged it and the proof it was working came with a 20m Long Path contact to Adam MU0WLV located on Guernsey Island using FT8 and the beam this afternoon!

This coupled with the SpiderBeam 10m aluminium mast obtained from the helpful folk at TTS Systems should make a great pairing for targeting regions like Europe from Vanuatu on the higher bands. The hope is to be able to catch both Long Path and Short Path EU openings with the beam as well as putting a substantial signal into North America on the higher bands and providing opportunities for South America with targeted calling of that region as well.

The assembly and erection of the beam and tower from scratch (now that I have had some practice) took about 2 hours. I have worked out a system to push it up with only 2 people (I could potentially do it with one but it would get a bit dicey above about 5 metres.). Fortunately my good wife has agreed to help me get it in the air once we arrive in Vanuatu.

A huge thanks to Ant who went out of his way to support this expedition with a special construction run of the beam for me. Talk about service above and beyond! (Note this is not a sponsorship plug – just one impressed DXer who thinks this is worth a mention…)