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 A61AJ - Ali Al Futtaim Goals for 1998
By David Collingham, K3LP
Sun-Up in the Middle East

As the sunrises in the middle east, its ham radio operators have been on the air for many hours or are just going to bed from the night before. Propagation on 20 meters to the United States begins long path about one hour before sunset, approximately 1400 GMT and continues using other bands around 0000 through 0400 GMT. From state side, it is always difficult to work this region of the world due to different time zones and limited propagation during poor sun spot cycle times.

A New Big Signal

In the United Arab Emirates, there is a new big signal that has been handing out QSO's for those in need. The signal is from Ali Al Futtaim, A61AJ. Ali has been active since December 1995 and is a great enthusiast to the hobby of amateur radio.

Until November 1997, Ali operated from his home QTH in downtown Dubai. The home station consisted of a 70' crank-up tower, TH-11 Beam, wire antennas for 160 through 40 meters, ICOM 781 transceiver, Alpha 87 amplifier and other numerous equipment.

In November 1996, Ali had the desire to build a new station at his farm in Al-Kawaneej that could hear and work the weak signals on the band. It gives great pleasure for Ali to confirm a new country for ham operators in need. Ali responds to his QSL request 100% via his QSL Manager, W3UR or direct.

Contest Fever

During the November 1996 CQWW DX CW contest , Ali became interested in contesting. The A61AJ station confirmed over 2,700 QSO's and 287 countries for 2,440,704 points on CW during it first single operator appearance with 34 hours of operating time.

After the contest, Ali established a few new goals for the 1997 CQWW DX CW contest that resulted in installing four 100' towers, six element KLM mono band beams for 10 , 15 and 20 meters, three element KLM mono band beam for 40 meters, 1/4 vertical for 80 meters with four elevated radials at 13' above ground and a Inverted L for 160 meters at the farm location.

Planning, Fabrication and Installation

Throughout 1997, there were many planned activities that allowed the required antenna equipment, new ICOM 781's, Alpha amplifiers, rotators, coax, power meters, etc. to be sent to Dubai for installation. Three new Compaq computers, towers and other miscellaneous mechanical items were acquired locally in Dubai. Dubai is a very resourceful community.

Since the CQWW DX CW Contest would start on November 29, 1997, all equipment, towers, antennas, computers, software, ham shack, station power requirements, etc. needed to be assembled and installed, and tested to ensure it would work properly as soon as possible.

Well, soon as possible began on Sunday morning November 23, 1997. Within a few days, all antennas were assembled and tested on the ground. The four 100' towers were completed and installed on Tuesday and Wednesday. The antenna installation work began on Wednesday and was completed on Thursday.

During this week, a new ham shack, twenty-one feet square was fabricated, wired, sheet rocked, painted, doors and windows installed, and carpeted by four different crews. The air conditioning was installed the morning after the contest began.

On Friday, the last day before the contest, the day was spent setting up and installing station equipment, furniture, preparing coax and rotator cables, and installing the wire antennas for 80 and 160 meters, and trouble shooting rotator problems. After exhausting all techniques like using 12 gauge wires to feed the rotators, removing all connector connections by hard wiring, and placing the rotator control box at the bottom of the tower, only one rotator was functional (10 meter beam). This created great frustration since there were many goals to work the midwest and west coast stations on 40 meters.

In order to focus the antennas on multipliers and QSO volume, all beams were pointed and fixed toward Europe and east coast USA prior to the contest on Friday afternoon.

The tower climbing and installation work was very exhausting and involved numerous climbs per tower. Remember the six element KLM 20 meter beam has a 58' boom and weighed about 190 pounds. The scenario above in many ways simplifies what really happen during the last week. The work schedule started at 8:30 AM and ended around 1:00 AM the next day daily. Three days of ground assembly work was done outside in the rain due to schedule constraints. Temporary lighting was installed over a large grass area where antennas were being assembled late into the evening.

Firing Up the Contest Station

To avoid the lack of sleep problem encountered before the 1996 contest, the goal was to have an early dinner and hit the sack around 7:00 PM Friday night. The contest would start at 0400 Dubai local time Saturday.

After about 5 hours of sleep, the A61AJ signal was being prepared for its first real DX operation since installation. There were less than 800 QSO's made (about 4-5 hours of operating) from the contest station during the week prior to the contest. The station was placed on the air with great results.

After operating two transmitters with one operator each for forty-four hours, the A61AJ station completed 7,251 QSOs, 143 zones and 475 countries for 12,782,357 points. The station entered the CQWW DX CW Contest as a Multi -Multi unassisted with two operators since there was no Multi-Two category available. The CW rate on the contest software showed 399 QSO's per hour several points during the contest and maintained an average around 200 to 225 QSO's per hour. The last two hours of the contest were great since the propagation to Caribbean, Mexico and US west, midwest and east coast stations were booming in and being worked at 150 QSO's per hour on 40 meters (this was about 1:00 AM through 3:00 AM Dubai time).

It was nice to work AZ9L at 1033 GMT, AE4RO at 1241 GMT, N4BP at 1252 GMT, KC1XX at 1441 GMT, and many South Americans and Caribbean stations on ten meters the first day. There was no propagation to the US on the second day.

It was difficult trying to work the Caribbean both days on forty meters. We could hear them very loud, but they could not here the A61AJ signal. Finally, about an hour before the end of the contest, VP5DX, V26KW and 6D2X called A61AJ at 2228, 2249 and 2334 respectively. Many thanks to these guys who looked for A61AJ.

Analysis data of QSO's and Band Worked By Hour can be used by contesters trying to plan their activities for next years contest.

Many thanks to the stations who continued to call and did not get through. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

The station performed extremely well and allowed many people to work and confirm the United Arab Emirates on a rare CW QSO.

To this point, the farm contest station assembly, radio room building fabrication, tower fabrication, consultation, etc. involved over 200 people lead by Ali, A61AJ. Ninety-five percent of these people worked to get the four 100' towers and radio room structure fabricated and installed, with ten days notice. The remaining six people assisted directly with the antennas, radios and station work.

Five days after the contest, all the rotators were replaced with new Yeasu rotators which worked directly out of the box using the original rotator cable feed lines.

The Plans for 1998

The A61AJ goals for 1998 include installing a 200' tower with a two element KLM 80 meter mono band antenna, stacking three five element 205CA Hygain mono band antennas for 20 meters, adding a third transmitter and amplifier, and new beverages for 160 and 80 meters. The 160 meter Inverted L did not perform very well due to the place of installation therefore will be moved to an alternate location with four elevated radials.

Many of the 1998 goals are planned to occur prior to the ARRL SSB and WPX contests in March 1998. The A61AJ station will be on the air using SSB throughout the ARRL SSB contest. Ali looks forward to working all those stations in need of a QSL from A6 in the United Arab Emirates.

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