International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend
East Cape Lighthouse
The International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend 2009
The 2009 ILLW activity was over the weekend 15th ? 16th August 2009.
The ZL6LH team is John ZL1BYZ, John ZL1ALZ and David ZL1DK.
This year we had planned to visit the Cape Palliser Lighthouse... the southern most light on the North Island but the guys from the Hutt Valley had alsoplanned their trip so we changed plans and re-visited East Cape.
We had worked from East Cape in 1999 and now here we are again, 10 yearslater planning the same 510 km trip for the 2009 ILLW weekend activity.
John had contacted Rei and accommodation was arranged and pre-paid. John sent out 'the list' and as in past years it had increased. There were a number of questions against some items that we had taken but never used but 510 km is a long way if you don?t have a piece of equipment... anyway there is plenty of room in the bus and all stations were planned to be set up in the old lighthouse keepers house. The house has 4 bedrooms, a large lounge and a family room so there was plenty of room for stations to be set out.
We planned 3 stations for this year and they were all stand alone setups. We set up 4 antenna; the beam, having been given a birthday, was erected in the property?s back yard off the bus and again was at 16 meters (52'), the 80m dipole was in the adjoining paddock and sat over a very swampy field affording a great earth. The 40m dipole was in the same paddock but closer to the front of the house and on a little rise. The 30m setup was a vertical pole that could be driven as a vertical antenna with radials, and on top, insulated, was a rotatable dipole. This was the driven element from John ZL1ALZ's WARC band yagi and that was what was used for 30m for the weekend. All the coax cables were fed into the house and they could be moved from station to station as required. The SPE solid state amp had inputs for 4 coaxes and those were labeled and setup for later use. That station with an FT-2000 and the SPE amp was set up in the lounge. Another station with a Kenwood TS-870 and a Kenwood TL-922 amp was in the family room. The third station running from a bedroom was a Kenwood TS440 and the Heathkit SB200 Amp. With these 3 stations, there was always a station for us to use at any time.
We left Auckland on the Friday very early, up at 4am, met John ZL1BYZ at Paerata at 5.30am to leave in the bus for Pokeno to collect John ZL1ALZ by 6.00am. We had plenty of hot water for coffee and sandwiches for eats on our trip to East Cape. The pork and homemade chutney sammies were so good we missed a turn and continued to within 12 kms of Rotorua. That was not too bad as there was another highway heading towards Whakatane and we headed off up that way.
Arriving at East Cape around 2.00pm we quickly set about making coffee. We then unpacked the rest of the gear and started setting up the easier aerials so we could start operating. The 80m dipole in the swamp was first and went up easily. There was a pole in the middle of the paddock that we tied one end of the dipole to and a water tank support for the other end. The dipole was supported using 4 of the club poles and that went up very quickly. The 40m dipole was next to be erected and that was placed on a slight rise toward the front of the house. The dipole was supported using a single pole from ZL1BYZ. The last aerial to be erected that day in the failing light was the 30m vertical and rotatable dipole. This all went together quickly and it was inside for dinner before the early start for the weekend?s activity.
Conditions were nowhere near as good as 10 years earlier when we had pileups most time we operated. This year, with the poor conditions we were struggling for contacts and had it not been for the QSOs from VK with their lighthouse numbers and the Remembrance Day contest we would have been well down in the QSO count. We ended with 895 contacts in total. This was made up of 1 CW contact on 17m, 5 on 20m, 184 on 30m, 48 on 40m and 46 on 80m for a total of 284 CW contacts. On phone we recorded 298 contacts on 20m, 128 on 40m and 185 on 80m. Thanks to the good number of lighthouse stations in both Australia and New Zealand we managed to make contact with 44 lighthouses in Australia and 11 from New Zealand and the only other one was LU6WG at Acantilado, AR0043 in Argentina. These details are taken from known stations who had registered on the official ILLW web site.
As I had said, conditions were not great but in amongst the QSO's was some very good DX. Why is this and what has happened? The lack of sun spots may account for the overall deterioration of propagation but when we listen to the bands during a major DX-pedition or World Wide CQ Contest the bands seem to magically open for the duration of those activities.
Even with these 'poor conditions' there are many big stations around the world who can 'work the world' at their whim... where were some of those stations? Excluding the large number of welcome contacts from VK, there were a number of DX, QSOs on CW over the weekend on 30m, some on 40m and a lesser number on 80m and 20m with most of the DX on CW with 131 to Japan, 49 to Russian entities,and 20 into the States. Other DX QSO's were recorded with one or more contacts to Scotland, Finland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Switzerland, France, Spain, South Korea, China, Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Antarctica and Argentina. We started to pull the station down on the Monday morning and it was around 2.00pm that we headed off for the trip home to Auckland. This was our 12th ILLW and as with all the others we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
We will be back again next year but will have to chat with the guys in the Hutt Valley to see if we can get to Cape Palliser for 2010 or whether it be another lighthouse.
QSOs 895, CW 284, SSB 611
80m 231 CW 46 Phone 185
40m 176 CW 48 Phone 128
30m 184 CW 184
20m 303 CW 5 Phone 298
17m 1 CW 1
The mast for 2009 (if we drive) with rungs added after our return from Baring Head by John ZL1BYZ. If we were to have trouble again, we can now lower the aerial to the 9m height and (the short straw) can climb the mast to inspect the coax connection and get a closer look at the aerial.
The ZL6LH team is John ZL1BYZ, John ZL1ALZ and David ZL1DK