Thursday, December 06, 2012

ZL9HR, finally in the log

Well, I have to admit that I really had my doubts about this one. It's not so much the distance, since in spite of being a long way away (18377km), I still manage to make regular contact with "mainland" New Zealand regularly. It's more to do with the fact that it is a lot further south, 1800km south of Auckland, for example, which makes it a lot more complicated, plus the fact that it's been 13 years since there's been any ham radio activity from there.

The team set out last Monday 26th and was due to arrive a couple of days later. However large storms meant that they had to seek shelter and so were not up and running until Saturday December 1st. This meant that instead of ten days, they would only be there for a week. In spite of having a possible 7 stations on the air simultaneously, the demand for Campbell Island is high and big pileups therefore assured. Also, the NZ department of conservation, in charge of the island, had imposed two conditions that further restricted possibilities. One was that the beach area was off limits, so no low angle verticals on the beach, and secondly, no overnight stays so limited operating times.

Sunday evening I got the news on our HQ whatsapp chat that EA4ZK worked them on 20m SSB. On Monday I heard them on 20 SSB with strong signals, very encouraging, but absolutely no way to crack the pileup. On Tuesday evening a lot of spanish stations took advantage of a brief 20m opening on CW and I am also lucky enough to be in the log.

However what I was really looking for was an SSB contact from the car. Wednesday was a washout, no SSB activity on the long path and then no activity on 40m at nightfall. I went home and checked their web, where there is now enough data to get a good idea of when and where is good to work them. Between that and the spots of the DX cluster, I decided that since today, Thursday, is a national holiday, I had to get up early and take my big 40m antenna with me.

And thats exactly what I did. At around 6.30 I was already setting up the 40m full size vertical and the usual 20m full size vertical on the car, and then sat down to monitor the bands and the cluster. Around 20 minutes later, I started to hear them come up through the noise very weak on 20, and a few calls later 5 kc up, got a call back "mobile??". I gave the call a couple of times, exchanged 59, and gave my thanks for the new one, replied to with a "You're welcome!" I guess the op was Jacques ZL3CW, from the french accent.

Here's what it looked like:

(The spiderpole supports the wire which screws into the hustler mount on the car)

Since I'd gone to the trouble of putting up the 40m antenna, I stayed for a while to see if they would come up, but to no avail. I worked the 5T0SP operators and a couple of stateside stations, and when it was daylight and no real chance of hearing them even if they came on, I called it a day and headed for home.

The crazy things we do for radio.....!

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