7P8/JH4RHF summary (last update 2007/1/29)

I realized I would have a chance of duty trip to South Africa again in September 2005. This could be good chance to stay there for DXing. As it is duty trip with my colleagues, I may not be able to bring lots of my radio stuff. I recalled “DX Safari", Andre ZS6WPX offers DX trip with his gears and trailer type tower. I checked DX summit to see which possible DX country is the most wanted in this region. I found very few 7P8 spots. OK, my target is 7P8.

Unfortunately, my work schedule was fixed in very last minutes. Anyway, everything except license was arranged before departure. As Andre already moved to US, Daniel ZS5JR takes care of me.

License was a bit hassle. As the officer usually taking care of ham radio license was on leave, it was not so straightforward. Lots of faxes, e-mails and phone calls by Daniel, and finally I got a copy of my license two days before the operation. It was a bit discouraging, with callsign of "7P8/JH4RHF" instead of "7P8RH" which I have requested. It is too long, 5 letters longer than my request. Anyway, license is in my hand. Ready to go.

The road to Lesotho (by the way, the locals pronounce it like “Le soo too”, as Lonely Planet says. “Le Suu Tu” could be easy to understand for me as Japanese) was quite long and winding road. Daniel picked me up at the hotel in Pretoria at 9 am, Saturday Sep 24. I have expected to arrive the operating place by 6, and start operation within Saturday. No, it was really long way. Daniel loaded all stuff and connected the trailer tower to his Toyota Hi Lux and stated his home at 10:30. Six hour drive to the border, one hour to pass the border (I have a minor problem to take time), then more than four hour drive from the border to the operation site. The Operation site is located in the “Village” at Katse Dam, which is quite large dam to provide water to South Africa. “Village” was established there for the construction workers came from other countries. After the construction “Village” is operated as a guesthouse or a hotel for visitors. The road from border to Katse includes more than 100km of real winding road, up and down and up and down, where Hi Lux only managed to come up by using the low gear. One part of the road increases 1000m elevation in 10km distance.  We arrived the Village around 9pm, and simply went to bed.

Antenna work started in Sunday morning. A bit more than half day work completed the tower part, approx 20m high crank up tower (trailer) supports a 3element traibander, a two element WARC Yagi and a sloper dipole array for 40. Full size (20m long) 80m vertical with 26 radials, which also works as a bottom load 160m vertical, was erected on Monday morning.

I started my operation on 15 RTTY as a part of WW RTTY contest in late Sunday afternoon. Later evening I QSYed to 40 and realized I was not loud enough for pile up. No one picked me on 40. Then I switched to 40CW to manage some QSOs.

As I have imagined Europe could be easy, I tried to work USs and JAs as much as possible. I spent most of my time on CW to work DX. In fact 90% of my SSB QSOs are with Europe while 50% of CW QSOs with DX. Approx 3200 QSOs on CW (75%), while 600QSOs on SSB and 500 on RTTY.

I felt propagation on high band was just changing. I did not know what happened on the Sun, as we do not have any connection to other world, not only Internet, even telephone connection was not available for us staying at Katse. Opening on the bands was always different every day. Low band, 40, was relatively stable. I had a solid opening to US in every morning on 40 and could manage more than 100 Qs every day. Opening to JA on 40 was also stable. Unfortunately there were not so many callers, as it is very early morning in Japan. Prop was OK early hours, i.e. 18-19z (3-4am local) but no one working DX then.

80 was challenge. Static noise was always S9, with IPO of FT1000MP (preamp off)  or S9+20dB with preamp on. I forgot 160 then. JA friends told me my signal was fairly strong, 449-559 level, but I could not pick up their callsigns well. It was frustrating and time consuming. Sep 30 was exceptional. Noise level was fairly low and signals from JA were readable. I was happy to work more than 60 JA including many of my friends who asked 80m before departure.

I did not expect anything on 10, as SSN was almost zero just before my operation. One European asked me to go to 10 on Sep 30. OK, not big deal. I could hear him. Signal was not strong, but readable. Then thrilling pile up started. I managed to log 142Qs, all Europe though.

17 was one of most productive band. It constantly opens to Europe every day. Usually I started on 17 in the morning to see how the bands today. 

15 was not so stable like 17. One day it opened well, one day completely quiet. However, once it opened, it made a lot of Qs. I was so glad to work many US guys on 15, too. It is really DX band.

So far, I was so happy with the result, 4,300++ Qs in 5.5 days. Pile up was still large when I QRTed, many guys said, "why you do not ...". I understand what they meant. I did not work anyone on 160, a few JAs totally, etc., however, I satisfied the total figures, as it was one man effort, no whole-weekend operation, and it was not DXpedition ! It was just excursion during my business trip. 

Thanks everyone who worked me, or who called me, which means who gave me a lot of fun. Also thanks Daniel, ZS6JR, and his father Daniel who made a lot of effort for my operation.

QSL to my home, OE1ZKC.


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