Tom Cocking EI4DQ - Worked All Continents on 144 MHz
This article was written by Dave EI4BZ, editor of the IRTS Newsletter.
Tom EI4DQ has been a very active terrestrial VHF DXer for many years with a special interest in Meteor Scatter operation on 2 Metres.
Running out of challenges on this mode, he turned towards EME (Moonbounce) where signals are reflected off the moon. Again, Tom was very successful and quickly made a name for himself in this very specialized area.
He quickly moved up the ladder, due to his excellent homebrew skills, continuously improving his station with changes to aerials, pre-amps and amplifiers.
Anyone who has been to the Trabolgan Holiday Centre in East Cork will have noticed noticed Tom's station overlooking the road on the left hand side at the top of the hill, about 3 miles South of Midleton town.
Eventually, having worked all else that was available on 144 MHz, Tom needed VK or ZL to complete his "Worked All Continents". After several years of listening, Tom only ever heard one ZL station when he was on Tom's setting moon about 5 degrees over the horizon. He heard him very well but the polarity changed and the QSO was lost.
At that time, Tom was using single polaity aerials, 4 x 15 element horizontal Yagis. He is convinced he would have worked him had he been using his present dual polarity aerials (See Picture Above). He was the only ZL station active on 2 Metres EME and now appears to be QRT.
So what about VK? While Tom's QTH is excellent in all other directions, to the East the moon is not visible until it is at 19 degrees, at which point the VK's are losing it at their moonset.
Tom had almost given up in despair when one night he noticed that the moon was visible through a gap in the hills on a very Northerly rise. He found he could work it between 70 and 80 degrees at about 10 degrees elevation. No need to move house after all!
Now all he needed was a VK station who would be willing to try a sked in that time frame. An e-mail to the moonnet resulted in a positive reply from Des Clarke VK3CY. Skeds were made to suit Tom's very limited window on the moon which resulted in some very strange operating times. But then, nothing worthwhile is easy.
Success at last.
After many months and fustrating failures, a sked was made for April the 11th 2000 at 11:00 UTC. At 11:10 Tom heard the VK3CY signal very weakly giving him "O" reports, which confirmed that he had recieved Tom's callsign. All Tom needed now was to recieve callsign info from him and then at 11:20 UTC, he heard his signal peaking out of the noise, EI4DQ VK3CY EI4DQ VK3CY O O O O. Tom then started to send "RO" reports to Des and on the next period, he recieved his RRRRR reports to complete the QSO. During this sked, Tom was transmitting and recieving in horizontal polarity. They finished the sked at 11:30 UTC. Tom had a moon elevation of about 12 degrees and Des had just 6 degrees of moon left before it set.
Tom rates that as one of the best DX QSO's he has ever had on 144 MHz EME. VK3CY's locator is QF13TO, a distance of 17245.1 Kms.
Tom's aerials were 4 homemade dual polarity DJ9BV 15 element Yagis with 7/8" phasing harness and homemade MGF1302 cavity Pre-amps. The TX line was 7/8" heliax and the RX line was 5/8" heliax.