American Samoa 2m EME DXpedition - KH8/ZL1RS
01 July - we arrived after a series of minor disasters that were dealt with as they occurred (blown out tyre, no excess baggage permitted ZL-5W, non-existent 5W-KH8 flight, etc!) Each obstical was over come using one of the time honored methods ... begging and pleading, or throwing money at it!! ... but it still resulted in a couple of stressful travel days.
03 July - QRV on 20m using JT65A digi mode until moon conditions are suitable for EME from 12 July. The HF operation is being done with a 'toy station' ... FT-817ND transceiver running 5W to dipole at 20ft high ... and this is solely a passtime activity for my own amusement until we start the EME operation. The results using QRPp JT65A and a miserable little antenna on HF are quite surprising with all continents easily worked.
04 July - one or two callers have had difficulty accepting the different JT65 QSO format used in the HF contacts. This different format is a result of using the KH8 prefix with my home callsign (KH8/ZL1RS) and the limited format/length of JT65 messages. For the same reason my grid (AH45) is not sent. Please read the JT65-HF manual for an explaination of the technical reasons and some suggested QSO formats. Keep in mind that during most other HF DXpeditions using CW, SSB or RTTY digi mode, the QSOs are abreviated to one callsign + report sent, then followed up with a simple acknowledgement like 'QSL' or 'TU' to complete the QSO. This is even less content than what is being sent with the JT65 QSO pattern I am using ... so take it easy, go with the flow, have fun with the hobby, and enjoy life!
Note: in general this limitation will not effect the up-coming EME operation using JT65. Other than no grids appearing, the JT65 EME decodes will show in the normal 'callsign callsign OOO' format provided for in the JT65 structured message system (e.g. K1JT KH8/ZL1RS OOO). Of course this will then be followed by the normal EME 'short hand' acknowlegements to complete a moon bounce contact.
05 July - still plodding along with the JT65 HF QSOs on 20m for my own amusement. From time to time I have been running a WSPR beacon on 20m to check propagation, and also having a listen on 6m (using the 20m dipole). So far there have been just weak scraps of the E51WL beacon heard on 50.049, and I don't expect much on that band during the current season without a decent 6m antenna. We have had almost complete cloud cover since arriving, with regular light rain. According to the locals this weather pattern is unusual for the time of year, so we are hopeful it will pass for the EME operation planned to start on the 12th when EME conditons become suitable. As I type, the light rain has just turned into heavy rain ... good! (sarchasm).
11 July - the patch of bad weather seems to have passed and we hope to be QRV on 2m EME at moonrise tomorrow (13 July 06:00 UTC).
13 July - set up the 2m EME station in very hot sunny conditions and are QRV "off the moon". Moonise was at around 06:00 UTC and a steady trickle of stations made it into the 2m log. Due to the long day in the very hot sun setting up we QRT just after 12 UTC and made the 1.5 hour drive from the EME site back to the house ... it is just 25 miles away but the Island speed limit is 25 MPH on the outer roads and just 10 to 20 MPH in the villages and towns. Many Samoans drive at 15 MPH on the outer road and slow down to almost a stop to go over the rougher patches of road surface (of which there are many). It is Sunday local time today and almost EVERYTHING is shut according to local custom.
14 July - CHANGED FREQUENCY TO 144.138 (to avoid computer birdies)
15 July - QRV 2m EME on 144.138 ... TX First here. 50 stations in the log so far and many more expected when the "window" opens to Europe. A "stations worked" list will be posted here soon. The 2m equipment is working well +- Faraday issues (a lot of non-reciprocal Faraday noted ... be patient). Note: worked VK2XN with his single Yagi and 200W of power, so it 'works' when the Faraday co-operates ... but I need to look at X-POL antennas for 'the next one'! Added photos of the equipment as it was being constructed back in ZL ready for this trip. (See the bottom of the page).
16 July - Well, moon set was a 'bust'. The noise and birdies from other equipment at the EME site were really bad at moon set and I could only manage a few QSOs with the big guns from eastern Europe. There are narrow beam headings towards moon set in the coming days as the moon set direction moves further north in azimuth where the local noise drops by 5 to 7dB which will help, however the best chance for Europe will be during the other window at our moon rise (European moon set).
The moon rise direction continues to work well through to about 3 or 4 hours before our moon set when the local noise issue starts to be a problem. Last night several single Yagi stations were worked from North America and VK. Non-reciprocal Faraday rotation effects continue to be the only challenge, but with patience this can be over come, so keep calling as long as you have decodes ... even if they are past their peak your signal may be increasing at this end and it only takes a few minutes to complete the contact. I really must look again at an xpol DXpedition antenna system. I tried this once before about 10 years ago but did not persist with it due to mechanical issues, however now it is a case of "where there is a will, there is a way".
I will remain on 144.138 from moon rise until after moon set in North America, then take a break and come back again about 3 hours before my moon set for Europe ... but on a frequency to be announced on N0UK EME chat depending on the actual birdies found at the time (they change from day to day).
Noise at moon set was very low (best day yet). Worked/decoded a few more stations in eastern EU and Scandinavia.
17 July - For various reasons I did not get any sleep today so I will QRT at 14:00 just after JA/VK moon rise (... if I can stay awake that long) and QRV again at 20:00 for AF/EU moon rise. Some huge signals at my moon rise today but with severe QSB. Apart from some very brief periods of rain, the nights have been relatively cloud free and perfect for visual antenna aiming at the moon.
A small milestone reached with 100 stations worked. Now the window to EU starts. My moon set direction is very noisy today (+5dB on JT65 "RX Noise" reading) ... so far this local noise issue has alternated, one day quiet, one day noisy. There is nothing we can do to avoid this noise, so good luck. My moon rise direction continues to be very quiet every day.
18 July - We missed moon rise last night, but conditions today at moon set are excellent. The total is now 129 stations worked. I will be QRV at moon rise around 11:45 UTC tomorrow looking for new stations only. Sorry for the contesters, but if we have already worked I will not be working you again so as to give the best chance for others to get "a new one". Thanks for your understanding.
19 July - Good signals from Europe at my moon rise, another 10 EU stations in the log during the all too short 1 hour window from KH8 to Europe. There were a few NA calling too ... I will only work NA after the EU moon set. OZ1HNE had an outstanding CW signal on alternating sequences (I assume he was switching TX pol from H to V alternately?) I hope to work Jorgen tomorrow if he remains on the best TX pol.
Another small milestone passed ... 150 stations worked. A list of stations worked is provided near the bottom of the page. Working many stations who are not in my call3 list (despite getting the latest update from MMMonVHF). This could be partly because I am not active on 2m EME from home QTH to keep my list up to date, and partly because they are new stations? Anyway, a couple of sequences and the new callsigns come in the average with no problem.
Just a reminder that this is a DXpedition to give as many station as possible the KH8 entity and AH45 grid towards their various awards ... so I will not be re-working stations in the contests this weekend. Sorry for that, but keep in mind that this is in the ham spirit to provide a "new one" to as many of your EME friends as possible. Thanks for your understanding and please don't call again if we have already worked.
Rapid QSB at moon set ... we suspect some tropo conditions interfering with the EME signals because it was very hazy looking out over the ocean and the humidity has climbed up today. Assuming all goes well we will see you via 2m EME at the KH8 moon rise around 12:40 UTC ... or a few minutes earlier with the negative horizon.
20 July - another great time was enjoyed at moon rise. Many callers, lots of QSB/Faraday ... all good fun! It was a pleasure to work OZ1HNE on CW with a bodacious signal ... real Q5 speaker copy at times (although a lot easier in the headphones). I will call CQ for stations needing KH8 for a "new one" until 16:00 UTC and then QRT until 21:00 UTC when I will be on again for EU moon rise / my moon set at about 00:30 UTC on 21 July.
Photos of the antennas and equipment in use at KH8 have been uploaded ... scroll down to the bottom of the page.
Moon set window to EU bought a mixed bag. Those signals that were seen here were quite strong, but they were few (despite many callers reported on the N0UK 2m EME chat page).
21 July - Moon rise today was a little disapointing with very obvious non-reciprocal Faraday making contacts very difficult ... however, I did manage to add 7 more stations to the log during the short window to EU and surpass my target of 200 stations worked for this DXpedition. The total is now 202 which is 3 better than my previous personal best via 2m EME from the South Pacific of 199 stations worked when in Fiji as 3D2RS in 2010.
I will be QRV from 23:00 UTC on 21 July until my moon set at about 01:15 UTC on 22 July. Moon rise operation for the next few days will be erratic because there is no reliable public transport running to the EME site at night here. I will be on for moon set operation by taking the local buses, but that will probably stop on Wednesday because the last bus from this far flung end of the island leaves at 4pm local time (03:00 UTC). Here is a possible list of operating times for 2m EME ...
21 July 23:00 UTC until moon set at about 01:15 on 22 July
23 July 00:00 UTC until moon set at about 02:03
24 July 00:50 UTC until moon set at about 02:51 - but check N0UK 2m EME chat page for activity or no
I am not sure how successful the 26th/27th activity will be with the new moon (beaming almost exactly at the sun) and the moon being at apogee .... but let's try. After the last moon rise window on 27 July we will probably shut down and dismantle the station as EME conditons deteriorate further and we loose the 'common moon window' to Europe.
23 July - fairly good conditions while working EU at moon set, A steady stream of callers going in the log still. I probably will not be QRV tomorrow due to transport issues, but check N0UK for info in case I do make it out to the EME site.
25 July - UPDATED schedule ...
25 July QRV at moon set from 02:00 until 03:40 UTC and again at 16:45 utc for moon rise
26 July probably not QRV at moon set (check N0UK for update at 03:00 UTC)
26 July possible QRV at moon rise from 17:35 UTC for 2 hours (but new moon, so ??)
27 July QRV all day until moon set at 05:20 UTC
27 July QRV at moon rise fom 18:16 UTC for 2 hours (but near new moon, so ??)
25 July - There were a few callers at moon set, but not many more made it into the log book (total now 228). I will be on at my moon rise (about 16:45 UTC) for EU stations. After the EU window I will be QRV for other stations for a short time before I catch the bus back into town.
26 July - I made it back to the EME site for moon set window to EU starting at 03:00 UTC and am standing by on N0UK 2m EME chat if anyone wants to try in the mean time. I will also be on again for 26 July moon rise at 17:30 UTC ... and probably for the moon set of 27 July starting at 04:00 UTC. This will be very close to new moon so I am not sure how successful it will be, however it is probably the last chance to be on 2m EME from KH8.
Another steady trickle of stations worked at MR and MS windows today, most stations worked had very good signals around -20 to -24.
26 July - I will be QRV from my moon rise at about 17:30 UTC (some negative horizon) looking for EU 2m EME stations until the moon sets there, then looking for other areas for a while before I decide about operating at MS or make a judgement on packing up today. I am not feeling well (just the start of a simple head cold), and it may be best to pack up before it gets worse ... so keep in mind that today might be the last 2m EME activity from KH8/ZL1RS.
While waiting for moon rise this morning I ran a 2m Meteor Scatter sked in FSK441 mode with Warwick E51WL in Penrhyn Atoll (North Cook Islands). We managed a full Meteor Scatter QSO exchange over the 1478km distance in 54 minutes. Most of it occured at minute 37/38 when we got an excellent 1 minute long sustained series of meteor bursts. Warwick was using 100W to a 10 element Yagi.
A frustrating time at my MR with non-reciprocal Faraday ... still QRV and will continue through to Moon Set at 05:20 UTC (27 July).. At this point I am feeling some what better (maybe it was just a "24 hour bug"?) and will continue to operate ... the new goal of 250 callsigns in the log is getting very, very close! It is some small incentive to keep going.
27 July - After a very dull day with few stations worked, Mr Faraday cooperated at moon set and several more EU stations made it into the log with great signals at both ends. The total of callsigns worked now exceeds 250 which gives me a good target for the next 2m EME DXpedition!
Again, bad Faraday lock-out at my MR. I'm still calling CQ but on 144.136 now to avoid new birdies ... possibly will be active until moon set at about 06:10 UTC on 28 July. Tomorrow morning local time I will dismantle the station and pack up ready for the return home. We are still baby-sitting the house and cat for AH8E and AH8W while they are on holiday in the USA, and so we will not return to ZL until early August ... however there will be no more EME from KH8 after 28 July.
Thanks to all the callers for setting a new 2m EME DXpedition personal best from the South Pacific (256 stations logged as at final moon set).
See you from the next one!
08 August - QSL cards have been printed and those cards confirming the contacts with the DXpedition sponsors have been filled out and will be mailed out this week.
KH8/ZL1RS 2m EME DXpedition supporters:
Despite the seemingly short distance trip, for various reasons this is by far the most expensive 2m EME DXpedition I have undertaken. A big thank you to VE1KG, KB8RQ, OZ1HNE, W8PAT, OK1RD, IK1UWL (x2), K5QE, PA2CHR, DK3WG, DF2ZC, PE1L, W4RBO, JE1TNL, HB9Q, JM1GSH, OK1IL, K1OR, RK3FG, UN9L, UY0LL, KC4SW, PA5MS, OE3FVU, K1CA, I3MEK, PA3CMC, OH6ZZ, DL9MS, PA3FPQ, K9CT, I2FAK, DL8GP, DL1DWI, DL1RPL, ON4AOI, I1ANP, PA1BVM, ZL4PLM, PA3FYC, DK5EW, I3LDP, F6BKI, DK4RC, SP4KM, SP4MPB, RX1AS, I3EVK, DK2PH, N4BH for their contributions before and during the DXpedition via PayPal, and to the many others who included a little extra with their QSL card request in the mail Thank you, thank you, thank you!
KH8/ZL1RS in grid AH45rs will always TX First on or around 144.138 using WSJT's JT65B mode.
As usual, no skeds and please s-p-r-e-a-d o-u-t !! I'm watching +-800Hz on SpecJT ..... hint, the edges are usually clear.
Equipment - FT-817ND, HB GaAsFET preamp, W6PQL kitset LDMOS PA, HB 2 x 9 element 2m Yagis with full elevation.
General and operating information:
We will be in American Samoa from late June but do not expect to be QRV on 2m EME until the middle of July when EME conditions improve. We expect to QRT on 27 or 28 July.
The AH45rs EME site NE of Tula village is elevated so you can expect moonrise earlier and moonset later than the software predictions.
The QTH is 70m above the ocean so there may be sharp ground gain lobes causing severe QSB at moonrise and moonset.
Don't be offended if I skip "73" and move on to the next station to save time.Also, don't be offended if Europeans get
preference during MR and MS during the second week due to the short common window between KH8 and Europe.
I will be listening for CW calls and may answer using WSJT's CW mode (144.138 + 600Hz USB audio tone). The software
driven CW will be exact 1 minute sequences syncronised to UTC with KH8/ZL1RS transmitting on even minutes only.
There may be some activity on the HF bands during the first 2 weeks of July, but this will be a 'holiday style' only and
probably only using JT65A. Please do not expect much ... and please do not ask for HF skeds.
QSLs for all QSOs with KH8/ZL1RS go via ZL1RS
73, Bob KH8/ZL1RS
2m EME stations worked from KH8/ZL1RS as at MOON SET 02:00 UTC on 23 July
AA7A, W0XG, ZL2MQ, K9MRI, K5QE, W7MEM, K1OR, W4RBO, KC4SW, N6BBS, W6BBS, VE1KG, N7NW, ZL2ADU, KA0RYT, VK4CDI, AA4SC, NC2V, JE1TNL, JA5EEU, JA5FOQ, JM1GSH, JH2COZ, CT1HZE, W5UN, WI7P, W8PAT, WA4NJP, KB8RQ, VK2DVZ, KD3UY, K6EME, XE2AT, WF0N, KI4TZ, VK3AXH, VK5FA, K7MAC, HL5QO, JH3AZC, JS3CTQ, JP3EXR, N0KE, W7IUV, UN9L, UA9YLU, UA3PTW, RK3FG, UA4LCF, EI4DQ, N9XG, VE2JHW, XE1H, W9JN, W9GA, WA3QPX, VK2XN (single Yagi/200W), KF8MY, N3RG, KC9TVG, N8GTI, XE1TD, JH8CMZ, UY0LL, RX3A, RW1AY, ES6RQ, OH7HXH, G4SWX, EA4CYQ, W1AW/4, ZL3NW (12 ele 500w), AD4TJ, N9HF, VK3BJM, K9CT, VE5UF, N9BCA, WA9LFO, VK5APN, K5AM, R3BM, RW3AC, OH2BC, UT6UG, UX5UL, YT1AR, F6BKI, PA2CHR, G4YTL, G4FUF, N8PR, NZ5N, KE4PT, N4BH, K3RWR, KE7NR, KB5WIA, K9DRO, N7SC, RA9LR, RX1AS, UT5UAS, OH7PI, UA4AQL, VK2KU, RU1AA, SP4K, SP4KM, SP2OFW, OE3FVU, JR3REX, OH3KLJ, SM2BYC, OH4LA, RX8XR, YL2OK, UX0FF, SP4MPB, SM7GVF, SV8CS, DK3WG, R6CS, S51ZO, OK1RD, YU7XL, OK1IL, OZ1LPR, DK5SO, I3MEK, I2FAK, DM1AC, DF7KF, DL8YHR, DK5YA, PA5MS, PE1DAB, PE1L, F5GHP, K2OP, K1CA, FM8DY, NT0V, K5DOG, KL7UW, K5WBM, VK4UH (single Yagi), KF4ZZ, VK4AMG, AD0CF, KI0G, JG2BRI, KK6FAH, RN3A, RZ1AWT, OH6ZZ, OH3AWW, SM5DIC, UR3UB, SM5CUI, UT5DL, DL9MS, SK5AA, DJ8MS, DM1CG, S52FO, DL2NUD, 9H1PA, IK1UWL, HB9Q, PA0JMV, PA3CMC, DF2ZC, F1TE, EA6VQ, DL8GP, OZ1HNE (cw), PA3FPQ, CX2SC, G4EZP, W6YX (single Yagi), K1JT, AE3T, VA7SW, W7GJ, KB7Q, RZ3BA/1, OZ1CT, YU7AA, LA8KV, SV8NAC, OK1KIR, DL1DWI, I2RV, I1ANP, EA2AGZ, PI9CM, DK5WL, GM6VXB, ON4AOI (single Yagi), PA1GYS, G4IDR (single Yagi), ES3RF, SM4GGC, OK1CU, DK3BU, DL7FF, HA8CE, DD0VF, DL1RPL, PA3CEE, S57M, S52LM, YL2AJ, DK4RC, S56P, DL8MAI, HA6NQ, SM7FWZ, IZ1GZA, F6HVK, HA8CL, DK5LA, I3EVK, F9HS, PA1BVM, ZL4PLM, YL2GD, UZ5DZ, F1DUZ, I3LDP, G6PHH, OH6UW, PA3FYC, K6MYC, W2DBL, NJ2R, AH6LE, N9LR, RU3GX, UR7DWW, LZ1DP, LZ1DX, YO9HP, OH2LHE, OZ4ZZ, KR7O, ZL3TY, DK5EW, DJ4TC, DL9DBJ, RV9UV, DK2PH, KG7P, K7XQ, YO3DDZ.
(please advise any typos and I will correct them)
American Samoa Map
Home brew antenna system - 2 x 9 element Yagis vertical polarisation
Home brew 800W SS PA - W6PQL LDMOS kitset PA and HB GaAsFET preamp
Complete system - Cosel 1500W PSU, 800W SS PA/preamp, HB interface, FT-817ND. laptop
Assembling the antenna system at KH8 - 2 x 9 element Yagis vertical polarisation
Assembling the antenna system at KH8 - 2 x 9 element Yagis vertical polarisation
The view east towards moon rise
The view west towards moon set
HB 800W SS PA/preamp ... the Power and SWR look OK!
W6PQL LDMOS kitset PA and HB GaAsFET preamp + Cosel 1500W PSU
The 2m mini-station ... HB computer and PA interface, FT-817ND, Comaq laptop