VK9CZ DXpedition to the Cocos Keeling Islands (OC-003)  30th March 2013  13th April 2013                                Cocos Keeling Australia  Scotland     

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ITU Zone 54   CQ Zone 29   IOTA OC-003  Local time = GMT+6.5 hours   Sunrise = 2348z  Sunset = 1137z

These updates are written by Chris GM3WOJ / ZL1CT

Thursday 9th May 2013

VK9CZ QSL cards are now being printed - hopefully Steve N3SL can start replying to QSL requests in a few weeks time. I'll let you know here when he receives the cards, but please be patient !

I am writing an article for our RSGB 'RadCom' magazine (2500 words + photos) - if accepted this will be published in a few months. I'll post a shortened version of the article here in the next week or two.

Tuesday 23rd April 2013

I have examined 71 e-mails we received highlighting typos and other logging issues and have re-uploaded our logfiles to ClubLog and LoTW this morning. Unfortunately about 40 of these e-mails turned out to be 'Not in log' - sorry.

Pirate activity - VK9CZ was pirated before the DXpedition started (our first QSO was with 5Q2J on 15m SSB at 1310z on 30th March and our last QSO was with NY6C on 20m CW at 0127z on 13th April) and also during the DXpedition (only once or twice I think) - for example QSOs on 30m CW at around 1300z on 7th April were made by a pirate.

We hope to publish an article about VK9CZ in a national radio magazine, so please QRX for our online report about VK9CZ until I hear about whether it will be published or not - obviously the Editor won't want to publish something that is already online. Don't worry I've got plenty to tell you - enough for a magazine article and online !

Tuesday 16th April 2013

Safely back in Scotland!  The temperature today is +12C, about 23C less than on Cocos.  I have uploaded our small number of RTTY QSOs to LoTW and ClubLog and will start looking at correcting typos in the main logfile over the next few days.

Not in the log ?   I estimate that about 100 times during the DXpedition the following scenario was played out :


Pile-up:   xxxx K9XXX xxx

VK9CZ:   K9XXX 59       (VK9CZ hears K9XXX in the pile-up and immediately sends his call and a report)

K9XXX:  Roger 59         (K9XXX hears his callsign and report and sends a report to VK9CZ)

VK9CZ:  K9XXX 59        (VK9CZ cannot hear K9XXX - QSB, QRM or whatever reason, so resends the call + report)

K9XXX:  Roger 59 59    (K9XXX tries again)

VK9CZ:  K9XXX 59        (VK9CZ still cannot hear K9XXX - QSB, QRM or whatever reason, so resends the call + report)

K9XXX:  Roger 59 59    (K9XXX tries again)

VK9CZ:  QRZ                  (having tried without success to complete the QSO 2 or 3 times, VK9CZ moves on to the next QSO. Unfortunately the QSO with K9XXX is not complete and cannot be logged)

Listening to this from far away, it might appear that VK9CZ is 'working breakers' - this was not the case - we made a real effort to complete every QSO that we started, but many stations just disappeared never to be heard again.  We are sorry if your QSO was incomplete under similar circumstances to the above example.

DXpedition write-up - I'll post a preliminary write-up on this website between now and the weekend.

Today's interesting fact about Cocos Keeling - food is amazingly expensive - a 1 Litre carton of long-life milk costs Au$ 21 = US$ 21.8 = £ 14.20 = € 16.6 - wah - we did not buy any!

Saturday 13th April 2013

VK9CZ is now QRT.  Thanks to everyone who worked VK9CZ.  We've had great fun, worked loads of rare DXCC entities and enjoyed the pile-ups. Sorry if you could not work us.

Our final total was 26331 QSOs - less 866 dupes. 

Thanks to everyone who has supported us via PayPal - I will acknowledge every donation in the next few weeks.

Here is the WinTest summary sheet (which does not include WPX SSB and RTTY QSOs)

  160           0          5      0      0     0 
   80      0    260      0      0    11 
   40    219    994      0      0    39 
   30      0    874      0      0    41 
   20   1157   1335      0      0    78 
   17   1837   1900      0      0    90 
   15   3334   2919      0      0   213 
   12   2390   1871      0      0   144 
   10   3419   2675      0      0   250 
   50      0      0      0      0     0 
TOTAL  12356  12833      0      0   866 
           TOTAL QSO : 25 189

Please check back here next week for a full write up about VK9CZ .....

73    Chris GM3WOJ,  Keith GM4YXI

 Friday 12th April 2013

We've not decided yet which antennas to take down today, other than the 80m antenna which took us the longest to install.  Our flight leaves at 4pm local time tomorrow but we have a lot of stuff to dismantle and pack up. We'll take down maybe half of the antennas before the sun sets.

I've taken hundreds of photos, but uploading them from here is slow, so please check back next week for some more pics.

Our internet connection ends later today, but we will try to do a final log upload to ClubLog and LoTW tomorrow - this will be without any corrections that we feel we want to make.

We've been very lucky with conditions over these 2 weeks - thanks everyone for making our trip worthwhile !


Thursday 11th April 2013

We are now into the last 48 hours or so of the DXpedition. We expect to QRT at about 0200z on Saturday, but we have 11 antennas to take down so we are not sure which bands we will be QRV on during Friday.

Some people just don't get it - my efforts to be helpful about when we would be on 80m resulted in an e-mail from a K9 telling us that this just demonstrated our lack of knowledge of propagation on 80m and 40m. Let's spell this out - of course we know 80m and 40m are open for long periods but we won't be wasting time calling for hours to work only one or two stations. So far our visits to 80m have been quite useful and we'll keep going there periodically. The preamp for our FO0AAA receive loop has died so we are not receiving as well as we might be, but the noise level is not too bad on 80m.

One thing that is noticeable is how few people tune around listening these days. This morning I called for a long time on 40m and 20m and worked only UW7LL on each band - well done him for knowing how to find a DX station by listening and tuning around, instead of just waiting for a cluster spot !

Planning some 15m RTTY later today - sorry not sure exactly when.

Dupes - we have over 700 dupes in the log - please don't work us again if the QSO is OK in ClubLog or on LoTW.

Wednesday 10th April 2013

The e-mails we are receiving make interesting reading - one says 'you are favouring USA' and the very next one says 'you are favouring Europe'. We are not deliberately favouring anywhere, apart from our home country Scotland !

I've decided not to bother with our real-time logging, which we know is working, so we'll concentrate on working as many stations in the last few days of the DXpedition as possible.

QSLs - a photo QSL card will be printed as soon as poss. after the DXpedition. We don't understand why any DXpedition would wish to delay uploading their QSOs to LoTW until 6 months after the DXpedition. Our QSL Manager Steve N3SL tells us that our daily LoTW uploads make no difference whatsoever to the number of paper QSLs requested, so delaying LoTW uploading seems misguided. 

Busted calls - we know that our logfile contains some busted calls, which we will correct. However if you are not in the log, you are not in the log and should try working VK9CZ again. Steve N3SL says that after the ZK2V DXpedition he received a bunch of e-mails along the lines of.."my computer hard drive failed and I need the QSO details" - er, no.

160m - we know that a lot of you were hoping to work us on 160m and we are sorry to disappoint you.

80m - as well as being on 3507.5 +/- around our SR/SS, we will be calling there at other times for SR/SS in other parts of the world. Our sunset coincides with sunrise in W5, so in the period after our SS, we will try to be on for SR in W6. As the sun sets in Europe, it is peak HF time worldwide for us, but we will make some visits to 80m looking for Europe between 1800z and 2200z. We did this 5 times yesterday and only worked 1 station, so please check 80m then - don't rely on us being spotted.

Congratulations to my DXpedition partner Keith GM4YXI on his World #1 spot on 21MHz in CQ WW SSB 2012 - a great achievement !

Tuesday 9th April 2013

I worked ZL3NW on 160m at sunset yesterday, but absolutely zero heard this morning. As happened at ZK2V, we are receiving loads of e-mails telling us what we should be doing and when 160m will be best.  Unfortunately all we can hear on the band is noise, noise, noise and no signals.  160m is a difficult band for a 2-man DXpedition to do - in the time we have spent on 160m so far, CQing fruitlessly, we could have given a few hundred stations an ATNO on other bands. So, we've decided to concentrate only on 80m at sunrise and sunset, which is much more productive for everyone. Sorry we can't spend any more time on 160m. Look for us on 3507.5 +/- listening 1 up approx.

We've had some minor problems with our PCs - WinTest is generally logging well, but freezes up sometimes - I am not sure if this is a bug in v4.10.0 or something to do with our USB to RS232 converters which seem flaky.

Conditions continue to be very good and the pile-ups are enormous. I've recorded some MP3 audio which I'll post on the website - probably after we get home.  Not had time yet to try the real-time logging but please click the button sometimes to see if it has started - probably tomorrow.

I've posted a few photos on the Photos page...

Monday 8th April 2013

Another quick update ...

Conditions on 40m up to 10m continue to be very good,  with enthusiastic pile-ups on all bands.  160m and 80m have been poor with only two 80m sessions giving us a good number of QSOs.  On 160m at our sunset 2 days ago Keith worked 4 stations, but yesterday morning I only heard ZS2DL but no QSOs at all. We will keep trying, but only for up to 20 minutes either side of SR/SS if we don't hear anything at all. The noise level on both bands is reasonable. Today I worked quite a few stations at our SR on 80m - the software kept showing them as dupes until I realised the 80m RF had disconnected the CAT control. We will be on 160m (1823.5+/-) at sunset today and tomorrow  morning.

Unfortunately due to interaction we can't work 12m and 10m simultaneously which is disappointing - we have a 10m filter and have moved the antennas around to maximise spacing, but the phase noise from the FT-450D TX is the problem. We will keep moving between 12m and 10m to make the most of the band openings.

Terrific conditions on 17m this morning - I worked 5 stations in a row from the pile-up, each from a different continent.

40m SSB - we will be on 40 SSB (between 7175 and 7200) at 2030z today, looking for Japan and at other times this week for other parts of the world.

Hoping to get time to post some photos later today.

LoTW and ClubLog will be updated soon - we will check all possible logging errors after we get home.

Saturday 6th April 2013

We intend to alternate between 160m and 80m from now until the end of the DXpedition.  It is unsafe to change bands during the night cos of the huge waves which break over the reef not too far from the antenna. To be clear - we will be on 160m this evening (Saturday) and tomorrow morning, then 80m on Sunday evening and Monday morning, etc.

A category 2 Cyclone is forecast for Tuesday - winds up to 130 km/hr - so we may have to lower some antennas if the wind reaches the expected speeds.

There have been some comments on reflectors about 'chaos' in our pile-ups - that is absolutely not the case from our perspective. They may sound chaotic at your end, but we are working a steady stream of stations. The reality is that conditions are very good and our antennas have virtually no directivity, so the pile-up can be from Europe, Japan and USA simultaneously - great fun. However, under these circumstances we are having to QSY almost after every QSO - we sometimes manage 3 or 4 QSOs in a row before the masses arrive, presumably aided by Skimmer, Band-scopes and if all else fails, a second RX !

We hope to activate real-time logging next week, but it might be too much for our internet connection.  I have updated ClubLog and will try to keep it as up-to-date as possible.  73 to everyone who is attending the GMDX Convention this weekend.

Friday 5th April 2013

Just a quick update - we now have better internet (when we get time to use it) - we will be on 80m tomorrow morning and we will be on 160m tomorrow evening at our sunset and on Sunday morning at sunrise.

We will be making a special 48 hour effort over the weekend, for everyone who works during the week and can't be on at times when the band are open to VK9C.

More info tomorrow ...

Wednesday 3rd April 2013

The new air conditioning unit was installed today so we are much cooler - it makes operating a lot easier. We have an inter-station audio QRM problem which we'll fix by moving one of the stations within the room.

We spent a lot of time today on the beach - not sunbathing but feeling the heat when installing the 80m and 160m antenna.  The white sand is very good at reflecting the heat. Keith worked many JA stations on 80m at our sunset (1134z) and I'll be on 80m CW at our sunrise (2337z) +/- 15 mins (or more if conditions good) tomorrow morning.  We will be testing the 160m antenna tomorrow and hope to be QRV there either tomorrow or Friday at the latest - again at SR/SS.

Our plan is simple - keep at least one station active 24/7 from now on, with 2 stations active at busy times. As much as possible, we are trying to balance time spent on SSB and on CW.

The first LoTW upload was yesterday and we'll do another one today when I go online to update this webpage.  Our online log-check is not working yet, but I have uploaded the logs to ClubLog so please check there at the moment.

Some great conditions on 15m CW this evening - booming signals from Europe and the USA simultaneously.  Surprisingly, 20m is not open for as long each day as we thought it would be - we will keep checking 20m and focus some efforts there.

Thanks for the feedback via e-mail - mostly positive and helpful, apart from one fool who obviously has no idea what is involved in being on a DXpedition !

Tuesday 2nd April 2013

Hello everyone - it is +35C in the shack cos the air conditioning is broken - we are hoping to get this repaired tomorrow or we will move to an adjacent room which has working air con.

We have taken longer than expected to install our antennas, but we now have working antennas for 40,30,20,17,15,12 and 10m and will be installing the 80m antenna tomorrow.  160m shares the same support as 80m so we hope to be on 160m later this week - maybe on Friday.

Conditions seem fairly good and we will be settling down to an operating pattern starting this evening.

Internet is very poor and expensive, but our 'range extender' at least lets us access the internet from the shack, but not well enough for daily uploads to LoTW.  We will do the first upload today, then the next in a few days.

More news later in the week - see you in the pile-ups.

 Saturday 30th March 2013

Hello everyone - firstly we were very sorry to hear about the death of one of the T2YY ops - we don't know any details but we send our condolences to his family and the team.

We have arrived safely on Cocos after a very eventful journey, which included a cancelled long-haul flight and a delayed replacement flight. I'll tell you all about this soon.

We arrived at 1600 local time, so with only 3 hours of daylight we have only installed the 15m Moxon and Keith has been working stations in WPX SSB.  More antennas tomorrow for sure.

Internet is poor - we have no connectivity in the shack, and have to wait until Tuesday - after the holiday - before we can even buy a new SIM card for our mobiles. Radio is our best method of communication !  VK9CZ is QRV !!

 Propagation to VK9CZ ..... 

 Please click on the 'Propagation' button to view or download a Word document which shows the estimated propagation from your part of the world to VK9CZ in April 2013.  These documents also show Sunrise and Sunset times. 

 Click here to view or download a 4.8MB Powerpoint presentation by Keith GM4YXI - propagation charts for your part of the world to VK9CZ.  These charts were generated using VOACAP online  http://www.voacap.com/prediction.html  - assuming 400W CW to a quarter-wave vertical with Smoothed Sunspot Number = 75  - these are very conservative figures, so we are hoping propagation will be better than shown in the charts.

East Coast, Central and Southern USA, Eastern Canada, Central America - this is one of the most difficult propagation paths from VK9C - rest assured we will be trying our best to work you all. We will be able to work Europe and Japan easily but will not be mesmerised by the Eu and JA pile-ups - we will try to take advantage of every possible band opening to the USA. 

Here is a sample chart VK9C <> GM  ....

 73  Chris GM3WOJ, Keith GM4YXI