Sint Eustatius 2014 PJ5/OL8R
24/09 – 03/10 2014
At the beginning of 2014 we again initiated preparation for another amateur expedition. We preferred West Africa location and we were looking for a suitable spot for our amateur radio activities. The choice came to a small Togo with capital Lome. After last year's expedition we were sure, we must improve the setup and I bought a second Spiderbeam antenna and Petr OK1FCJ bought transistor HF linear HFPOWER HLA 1K3. We have recruited into team excellent HF contest operator Pavel, OK1FPS, who brought second Elecraft K3 and receiving system 4SQ purchased from Hi-Z Antennas. Pavel OK1MY provided us with Elecraft KX3, a backup rig and 40A power supplr for PA Rm Italy HLA300. New antenna setup was 2 * Spiderbeam 20-10 m, vertical for 40-10 m and another vertical for 160/80, RX low band system 4SQ. The entire setup we have tested two months before planned expedition date.
We have arranged first license for 5V7. After license we have arranged visa. Embassy of Czech Republic in Bonn, where we sent our passports. Within a week we received back passport and visa. We started to deal with the airlines, the choice was simple, there is no big competition and we could choose among Brussel airlines, Air France, Maroco Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines. The choice fell on Brussel airlines, return flight, including overweight insurance cost 1020 Euro.
In early June, we noticed the occurrence of Ebola in neighboring West African states, frankly I did not pay to it much attention. Thanks to the news media pressure began to grow and subsequently with Petr, we were questioned by family members, why are we going to Africa. Media pressure were so strong and the decision was made at the moment when the German broadcaster ZDF reported that they recall all the tourists from Nigeria. In Togo, it is only about 200 km. We decided the expedition either to completely cancel or to move to a different date to other non-EBOLA region locality. We were looking for different variations and I got the idea to go to St. Eustatius PJ5, 125th place in most wanted. We quickly cancelled ticked at the Brussel airlines and purchased new one through Air France. QTH we found Kelikeli, which was earlier used by Japanese and Polish expeditions. License was not needed thanks to CEPT permission there. In one day we decided to go to PJ5.
Our departure was scheduled for September 20th from Munich, Germany. Everyone was excited, but Air France changed our plans, September 15th Air France pilots began strike. On September 19 we got notice of cancellation of our flights. Petr tries to call the Air France call center and was obviously overloaded and so went personally to the airport, where we were changing flights on departure from Prague. Everything is ready, we can leave on Saturday trip Praha - Paris - ST. Maarten. On Friday morning, yet another unpleasant cancellation SMS and email and we do not fly anywhere. Petr again went again to airport and only possible option was Prague - Amsterdam on Monday and Tuesday morning departure Amsterdam - St. Maarten. We had to book hotel in Amsterdam. The actual flight Amsterdam - St. Maarten lasted nine hours. Upon arrival was a four-hour break, we used to visit well known Maho beach next to the airport where we see planes landing just above our heads.
It is time for the last flight from St. Eustatius or Statia as the locals say. A plane Havilland Canada DHC-6-300 companies Winnair a plane for 19 people. We were sitting in the second row and see the cockpit without doors to two pilots. The flight took 18 minutes and at 4:20pm local time we landed at PJ5.
At the airport we had very unpleasant surprise. Arrived just 3 suitcases, none of our antennas. Luggage with vertical 40-10 meters and Spiderbeam arrived by to St. Maarten, but there were no place in the DHC-6-300 luggage compartment for them. Worse news was that another package with Spiderbeam and vertical antennas for 160 / 80m stayed in Amsterdam and was forwarded to Paris. The following morning we got call from local airport and 2 of our antennas arrived. We could start to build antennas. Another flight from Paris to St. Maarten was cancelled and our second Spiderbeam and vertical for 160/80m arrived almost 1 week after our arrival to PJ5. Big ironic ‘’THANK YOU’’ to Air France striking pilots….
An antennas construction began on Wednesday early morning, the first goes up vertical from 40 to 10 m and the first CQ on 18073 begins ok6dj, same manner as in ZA and XT, 2 cq F4VPX first call is 24 September 11 UTC. After 12 qso I'll give QRX and continue in the building of the Spiderbeam antenna. The construction took over three hours and we had a lot of fun. The temperature rises to 30 degrees and is also high humidity. We are quite tired, but still determined to immediately begin transmitting. We use the upper bands and work mostly with Europe and occasionally calling us a few Americans. During the first two days it feels like an expedition for the EU, which also confirmed that with Europe were established as much as 65% of all QSOs.
On Thursday we made 80m dipole, which apex was at 8 m with one arm facing to the Europe. At night we tried to make the first few contacts and it worked well. Power was 300 watts. On Friday we went to build the reception RX system 4sq and of course broadcast cw ssb. In the evening at 18 pm local time began CQWW RTTY, which we drove in category M / S with one radio and the other K3 running cw and ssb operation. Whole contest we operated in CQ mode only, we were not chasing any multipliers. We managed to establish a 3086 QSO and over 4.6 million points.
On Monday morning we started to build a second Spiderbeam and we were able to build it within 2.5 hours. Spiderbeam vertical 18m we used to build ¼ wave 80m vertical and inverted L on 160m. Radials are pulled everywhere and added even more the next Tuesday. Our signals on 80m are much improved and we worked also on 160m. 160m we were able to put into log only 141 QSOs on 80m it was 1615 QSO. 40m band suffered where we generated only 2,225 QSOs. It was impossible to broadcast simultaneously on 80m and 40m. Therefore, we choose operation during night 160/80 radio 1 plus 30m on radio 2 or radio 2 QRT. During the day it was possible to run both K3 on all upper bands even with PA. Bandpass filters Dunestar we did not use. It was my first expedition, where all worked smoothly. We Win Test software and networked through Wifi on on three computers. One PC was used only for sending data to Clublog and correspondence. That setup tuned to work from Monday until the end of the expedition.
I would like to summarize the actual operation. In operation we had station #1 Elecraft K3 + Pa RFpower 1K3, about 500 to 800 watts output, ant Spiderbeam 20-10 meters, including WARC, vertical 160/80 + 4sq RX system. Station #2 was Elecraft K3 + HLA RmItaly 300, power 300 watt, ant Spiderbeam including WARC 20-10 m, 40-10 m vertical. Station #3 Elecraft KX3, served as the backup and once we tried to go simultaneously on 3 radios. I even experienced the KX3 pileup using SB and 10 watts output power. I compared KX3 vs. K3 in a big pileup and K3 could grab and recognize many more stations that called us. Unfortunately, I can’t be content with measuring Sherwood Engenering. It is my own opinion. During expedition we established 25225 QSO of which CW 13298, SSB 8810, RTTY 3114, PSK31 26 QSO. CW operation was swift and pile up from 1-3 KHz Maximum Rate 541 using 2 workplaces. SSB operation we listened to 5-10 up, most stations still called 5 above. Maximum Rate was 751 on two radios.
of never-ending supply of Italian and Spanish stations. Shouting at each other all including OK amateurs řeknuli I called several stations OK, OK řeknuli only calls IK6, IZ, EA. I understand that OK amateurs are at a disadvantage from the sea and have some 100 watts into verticals. Prefer OK if OM, cursing at us in dxclustru. I also tried to make several QSO with only Italy, Spain and Germany. It just does not work and ssb is stronger choice. Once I tried the numbers, rate decreases. Unfortunately OK strongest brand in the Caribbean is not. RTTY QSO 3114 and only in the CQ WW RTTY, here everything is controlled by computers and will not affect the number of errors and the true choice strongest station. 26 PSK31 QSO and this kind of operation we had previously tested and the result was not much of anything. Maybe next time....
Behavior of station working us as DX as usual would deserve a separate chapter. The never-ending supply of Italian and Spanish stations. Shouting at each other all including OK amateurs. If I ask OK only , calls me several IK6, IZ, EA etc. I understand that OK amateurs are at a disadvantage from the distance to the sea and some of them have barefoot 100 watts into verticals. If I prefer OK or OM, I am immediately cursed at in dxcluster. I also tried to make several QSO with only Italy, Spain and Germany. It just does not work and in ssb simply wins one with stronger signal. Once I tried the numbers, rate decreases. In RTTY QSO also wins the one with strongest signal, other we were not able to decode. Maybe next time will improve our methods Apartment house Kelikeli had two large rooms one was kitchen with dining corner and second one was living room. Next to it there were 2 sleeping rooms and two batrooms. We had two tables for our facilities and all the time we spent together. At the beginning we had some issues with power supply and we made few times black out. To eliminate that we had to switch off air condition in sleeping room. Not best choice. Later we made supply from other parts of the house which were protected by independent fuses. The house had brick walls, but the roof was metal and very thin no isolation. Each room had a smoke sensor, one sensor at 4 meters high had a low battery and a half stay was beeping at 2 minute intervals. It was very annoying, but there was nothing to do, so long ladder we didn’t had. The house is on the hill just below the volcano. Direction to Europe and NA + JA is open and does not prevent him no hills. Around the apartment we have freshly cut grass. Just beyond the fence to graze cows, which occasionally come and disappear after two hours to an unknown destination. One calf chewed through by 4sq data cable and we had to repair it. The temperature during the day was 33 degrees at night and 28 degrees plus high humidity. We were often tired and constantly sweaty. Sleep jetleg -6 hours was disturbing first week. We slept mostly 3-4 hours. Main daily meals was cooking Petr, who had to invent every day something quick and simple. The most we tasted chicken with potatoes or rice 3 times in total. Potatoes have a different flavor and total soon cooked. Egg omelet, pasta, spaghetti, sausage, ground meat, etc.. Breakfast and dinner, mostly ham cheese toast bun. Cleaning conducted Pavel and Davis was in charge of washing dishes.
During expedition we had in service one or 2 stations. We were going to shop usually at pairs. It was one of very few breaks from headphone and radio. Shops were approx. 2 km away and sea additionally 1 km. Before we find the shortest path we have walked many extra km. Especially dangerous was the path along the left edge of the town, where we met a bunch of dogs carefully guarded their territory and were even willing to bite us. Right edge road was much more safe, we only walked around a few cows and a bull. Local obviously goes everywhere by car and motorbike. We were only walking on the island. The sea was beautifully warm about 30C and fine sand on the beach and colored black.
Every day we were looking at an extinct volcano and eight days we decided to climb the volcano, according to the original road we chose an unexplored path. Output lasted about 1.5 hours and was in my view very difficult, again great humidity and temperature. Inside the volcano is rainforest, but we have not gone to volcano center. Mountain has a total of 3 peaks and volcano is right. We chose a gradual descent trail that created the Dutch, and lasted about 45 minutes. On the way down I almost stepped on one meter long snake, luckily I saw it in time. The whole trip we ended up at a local buffet. A pleasant change in our daily food routine.
Life on the island: The island has about 3300 inhabitants, most Latin Americans , rest about 30% of the Dutch people and white people. The car fleet is largely obsolete, but is not an exception here and meet new Japanese or North American car production. Broken down old car stands next to an abandoned home. There is much to see houses for sale, others unfinished. I think that after the referendum and independence in 2001, successive fame St. Eustatius slowly declining. Education, there are a nursery and next to a normal school. Children have all the same shirts with the school inscription. Health care, a doctor on the island and the airport is parked helicopter. On St. Maarten is another doctor or is ready motor aircraft that takes the patient through Panama into Colombia. The whole thing apparently takes just over 3 hours.
Slowly drew our stay to the end. Penultimate day of the broadcast, we established 3807 QSOs and bothered us that thanks to Air France's pilot’s strike is expedition shorter. It was most QSO we made per single day for the whole stay. Friday morning began the gradual dismantling of antennas. First Spiderbeam ok1fcj and ok6dj. Pavel wrapped simultaneously RX system and progressive packaging radials and vertical for 160 / 80m. It is about 10 o'clock in the morning and we suggest a short break, Petr goes to sleep and I want to finish the QSO # 25000 and broadcasting on 12m, according DX cluster spot info from OK1FZM I read how we have excellent signal. Seeking firstly stations of my choice and prefer OM OK DL G and occasionally will login and EA UR UA I. It's not right, but I know that after a while will QRT.
On the second radio sits Pavel and does a lot of the EU qso with the vertical. When we reach qso # 25001 QSO on 12 m QRT. Petr wake up and go to disassemble second Spiderbeam. The entire disassembly was already in the heat. Still we have built verticals, but no one has the power to broadcast. We sort and outweighs individual packages, each must shall have 23 kg. Dismantle TCVR PC, packed coax and in the evening we dismantle vertical 40-10 meters. Length of package from the vertical measured nearly two meters, we had adjust the length of the pole at 170 cm. George, a property keeper, brought us an electric saw and Petr took advantage of that went together to buy. In Europe it is already midnight and we did not have lunch.
We have dinner at 7 pm, George arrived and it's the last festive meal. Chicken with rice. After dinner last beer and we have to finish packing luggage. Still prevails packages antennas, it's all very demanding and tiring. Unfortunately we do not have the packaging film and therefore use ropes from company MASTRANT. At 10 pm local time is packed, we have the last beer and finish last brandy. In the morning, wake up at 5:00 a.m.
We all, of course, already awake at 4.30 a.m. and so on, have breakfast and an hour coming George, who will take us to the airport. Pavel and I are sitting in the back of the car. Airport is a small building, where we wait almost an hour before staff checked us. George knows all of them, and so also pass through x-ray antennas packages without problems. Let's go for a boarding pass. Flight is booked, the ticket is paid, but is wrongly issued is blocked. We have several options to wait up to 10:00 a.m. to open Air France kiosk on ST. Marten, or stay on the island or pay $ 95 each. Check-in is $ 15 / person and hand luggage only 2 kg. We had 16-17 kg - fortunately not been checked for weight. We want to fly so we pay.
Upon arrival at St. Paul Martin Pavel discovered that he dropped out mobile in airplane chair. We'll find information kiosk and gladly call on the plane, but is beyond the reach of VHF radio. We were said to wait and wait for an hour and a mobile bring airport worker back to us. At the airport we move to Air France kiosk, where we complaint on paid $ 95. We were advised to write a complaint via the web form. We do not have a valid boarding pass on the route St. Marten - Paris and Prague, after a 15-minute interview with Paris we can go to the check in machine to print boarding passes. Finally, we checked in. We go to the for bath on most famous Maho beach at the airport.
We are tasting local CARIB beer and swimming in the sea. Just above us, landing planes, American Airlines, Delta Airlines. Then lands largest Airbus 340 and it must not outrun us, it's our plane toward home. We reach Paris with delay10 minutes to Terminal 2E and run to 2F to check-in departure gate F26. Checking handheld suitcase again, all TCVR, PC equipment goes out. Check on drugs. Finally, we can run further. Another 8 minutes waiting. Continues to run to the gate F26 which closes two minutes after. We all travel light dressed in shirt and shorts. We leave on time and we wonder whether we will collect all baggage in Prague. It turned out well, in Prague are all the baggage, although some much battered but complete.
Finally, I would like to thank our sponsors: OK2ZA, OK1TN, OK1MR, OK2EW, OK2PDN, OK2RO, OK2FB and 4L5A. Organizations and firms GES.CZ, DX NEWS, OKDXF, SPIDERBEAM, MASTRANT, CLIPPERTON DX CLUB, at the Mediterraneo DX CLUB, Nippon DX Association, MESSI.IT. Furthermore, our wives and children for their support. Friends who have helped us, Tomas ok1ic repaired PA Rmitaly after dispatch XT2, ok1mr lending backup laptop, Paul OK1MU rental power supply 40A + Elecraft KX3, radioclub OK1KQJ bandpass filters, QSL printing and more. During the stay there was good humor and not even once we quarreled.
Requests for paper QSL send exclusively through clublog. Watch our website www.cdxp.cz look forward to hearing again from another location next year. PJ5 / OL8R team: OK1FPS Pavel, Petr and David OK1FCJ OK6DJ
You ok6dj 73
Czech language PJ5 link story
CQ WW RTTY committee published in official results our picture see please - CQ WW RTTY