Posts Tagged ‘DXpedition’

For those Icom 7610 owners a different way to work split.

 

Fixed mode with 20kHz span

 

I have had my Icom 7610 for several years now and am still very much enjoying it. From time to time I enjoy working DXpeditions and having Dual receivers and dual spectrum scopes with the Icom 7610  is very handy. The spectrum scope has 2 tuning options which are fixed and center modes. It could just be me but I find center mode hard to follow were as fixed mode seems very easy to follow. When you come across a station that is working split more often than not it’s because there is a large pileup and it’s more efficient to work split. For those readers who are not certain what split operation is this LINK explains it better than I can. 


During split operation especially with a very rare DX station, there are LOTS of operators trying to contact the prized DX station. For this reason on the DX’s listening frequency, there are many ops trying to make contact. When you as an operator want to get involved and try to contact the DX station you have to drop yourself in the pool of stations calling the DX station.
The trick is where to set your VFO dial to have a chance to be heard by the DX station. In most cases, the DX station has a routine to move up or down his listening frequency which is your transmit frequency. One must listen and watch the waterfall to see who the DX station is answering call after call. You can then get the idea if he is moving up or down his listening frequency and by how much. 


As I said there could be lots of callers and this translates to a very crowded waterfall display. To find out where to drop your call one must have a closer look at the waterfall. When this is done you can get some separation between the calling stations. Thus allowing you to better see who the DX station is answering. Then you have a good idea when and where to drop your call and hopefully be heard.
As I said the center mode I find very confusing and when I use it in split mode and spin the VFO I am just lost as to who is where and for this reason I use fixed mode. 


As a side note: In center mode when you spin the VFO the signals on the waterfall move and the VFO marker remains stationary. In center mode when the VFO is changed the waterfall signals remain stationary and the VFO marker moves to the next signal.


As was said earlier it is best to have a closer look at the waterfall to see the action. In fixed mode, the smallest slice of the band you can have is 20khz. When operating CW as I do this for me is not enough for a very crowded calling group. In center mode, you can get a slice all the way down to +/- 2.5kHz or +/- 5kHz. For me, these are great options and with CW I generally would choose +/-2.5kHz but the rig has to be in center mode and that just does not work for me.
I have found a workaround so I can use the center mode, select +/-2.5kHz and still have the moving VFO B marker and not a moving waterfall! Below are the setup steps I take to make this happen.

In fixed mode, I find the DX station with VFO A

I then press the Dual-W button

Then press and hold Dual-W button to get the settings for VFO B the same as VFO A


I then press the split button

I press the Dual soft key my scope becomes over-under as this is how it is setup. You can see the dual scope view in the post pictures.

I change both scopes to center mode if not there already.

I now set the span to the same on each lower and upper scope in my case it is +/-2.5kHz I then touch VFO B frequency readout on the upper band scope (to activate VFO B)

Now in the upper band scope, VFO A remains stationary on the DX station. VFO B (in the upper band scope) now moves when the VFO dial is turned. The VFO marker moves (like fixed mode) and the band signals remain stationary.


The lower scope is still there but I don’t pay any attention to it. I found if I did not stay in dual scope mode I would lose the CENTER mode for VFO A and FIXED mode for VFO B. 

5+/-kHz in center mode but VFO acts like fixed mode


Now with all this said I just know there is going to be a comment that informs me I can press 2 simple buttons on the rig and get the same results. I seem to always take the long way around with things. I have added some screen pics of how the waterfall looks when in 20kHz, +/-5kHz and +/-2.5kHz span during a DXpedition. As you can see when in +/-2.5kHz mode the calling station are easy to see compared to fix 20kHz and +/-5kHz selections. But best of all I have fixed mode operation of VFO B with these small spans. 

+/-2.5kHz span view of pile up calling DX station

 

 

 

 

 

K7K expedition how did it work out for you?

 It's Tuesday early morning and I am greeting my first cup of java along with some radio time. I found myself drifting off to the weekend of radio operating. I very much enjoyed the Islands on the air contest (IOTA). It was also my plan to get K7K from Kiska island in the log as well. As the saying goes "sometimes things do not work out as planned".


I was keeping an eye on the DX clusters to see when K7K was on air and where. This year is my "year of CW" so I was looking forward to getting them in the log using CW. Again sometimes things don't work out as planned. I noticed once K7K was up and running that FT8 seemed to be their mode of choice for most of the time. I was reading on the cluster posts there were some upset ops... that very little time was spent on SSB or CW. 


I am not here to rag on FT8 and to be honest, I used this mode a great deal last year and very much enjoyed it. But having said that in my humble opinion they operated FT8 about 70-80 percent of the time and left modes such as SSB and CW alone. 


In the expeditions, defence conditions for them could not have been great and the Digi mode FT8 would sure fill their logs up and better than a poor showing in the log book. Also maybe the tide is shifting and with the Dx Peditions to come FT8 and other Digi modes may be the choice of the operators. 

I did notice K7K on their website indicated FT8 would be used but they also included CW and SSB.
There was an occasion CW and SSB were used but on a limited basis. I will chime in and say the only long period of time they used CW was in the IOTA contest. They are indeed an island and rare as well, it was expected for them to take part BUT this seemed to be the only time K7K used CW.


 I checked the clusters during the contest to see where they were. I did notice comments of frustration, K7K was operating split and some contest ops were calling on K7K calling frequency. Other comments indicated stations calling CQ contests in the responding TX frequency. Then I found they went back to FT8 in a very short time during the contest. 


This is just my humble blog opinion regarding the K7K "event" but when you indicate CW, SSB and FT8 on your site giving equal time to all would be a positive thing. From what I read in the cluster comments there were more than a few unhappy campers.


The up’s and downs of working DXpeditions.

 

Now you see them now, you don't.... the fun of active solar conditions

Earlier this week and last week the solar conditions have been great, and I have been able to make some nice CW DXpedition contacts. The whole DXpedition thing is new to me, as in the past I have seen the pileups and just passed them by. With the increasing flux number and with the blog reading I have been doing, it occurred to me that the times are a changin!  I did some reading up on my Icom 7610 and operating split with it. Low and behold, I have been able to make contact with some nice DXpeditions. 

Being new to this expedition thing, I have in the past read of those who indulge in this slice of our hobby. I have now come to see firsthand the mayhem of a pileup situation. I don't want to make this post about grinding my axe.....BUT......and you know what they say about a sentence that begins with a "BUT". In my very very short time of hunting out a DXpedition contacts I have come across some odd....... Let's say behaviour. 

1. As you are listening on the DXpeditions transmit frequency they vary between S4 to S8 at my end, and I am trying to get the flow of their operating........... When someone for some reason is tuning up their amp on top of the DXpedition?  To be honest I have never owned an amplifier and am not sure how the whole tune-up thing works........BUT....... I assume it does not have to be done on the DX transmit frequency. Please correct me if I am wrong? 

2. Ahh, then those who I guess who do not do their research with understand the idea of split frequency operation or don't care.......BUT..... they transmit on the DXpeditions frequency. So what happens here is stations like me can't hear who the DXpedition is coming back to as this station just keeps dropping their call on the WRONG frequency. Ok, I get it, and we all screw up thinking our rig is in split when it's not.....BUT..... with my limited time trying to work split this happens a lot. With polite op's from a DXpedition they send "up up up up" hoping the offending station will get the idea. Oh, but wait then there are the clusters such as DX summit and in the comment section, other ops are not so polite about things. 

3. Often I have heard the DXpedition station sending "VE3?" meaning he wants the VE3 to come back to him as he needs the rest of the call.  As they listen for the VE3 there are also a few op's sending their call that is not even close to "VE3". It really messes things up for both the VE3 station the DXpedition. 

Now, there is some other behaviour that I come across that make DXpeditions a pleasure.

1. While the op is calling on the DXpeditions calling frequency they politely answer them with a 599 and TU. 

2.  Operators who, while sending out their call, can hear the DXpedition station answering someone other than them, and they stop calling right away. They can achieve this as they have their radio set to full break-in mode. This will allow you to hear  between your own dits and dahs, I will admit it takes some getting used to, but it's a great operating skill. 

3. Operators who politely post on the cluster the operators call sign and leave a message that they have to transmit up and not on the calling frequency.  Having said that, I have also seen some messages that are not polite at all. I understand folks get frustrated, but there is no reason to be rude, after all it is a hobby. 

Well, we are going away on vacation this week, so the DXpeditions will have to wait for another week. But I sure have been having fun working them. 


The up’s and downs of working DXpeditions.

 

Now you see them now, you don't.... the fun of active solar conditions

Earlier this week and last week the solar conditions have been great, and I have been able to make some nice CW DXpedition contacts. The whole DXpedition thing is new to me, as in the past I have seen the pileups and just passed them by. With the increasing flux number and with the blog reading I have been doing, it occurred to me that the times are a changin!  I did some reading up on my Icom 7610 and operating split with it. Low and behold, I have been able to make contact with some nice DXpeditions. 

Being new to this expedition thing, I have in the past read of those who indulge in this slice of our hobby. I have now come to see firsthand the mayhem of a pileup situation. I don't want to make this post about grinding my axe.....BUT......and you know what they say about a sentence that begins with a "BUT". In my very very short time of hunting out a DXpedition contacts I have come across some odd....... Let's say behaviour. 

1. As you are listening on the DXpeditions transmit frequency they vary between S4 to S8 at my end, and I am trying to get the flow of their operating........... When someone for some reason is tuning up their amp on top of the DXpedition?  To be honest I have never owned an amplifier and am not sure how the whole tune-up thing works........BUT....... I assume it does not have to be done on the DX transmit frequency. Please correct me if I am wrong? 

2. Ahh, then those who I guess who do not do their research with understand the idea of split frequency operation or don't care.......BUT..... they transmit on the DXpeditions frequency. So what happens here is stations like me can't hear who the DXpedition is coming back to as this station just keeps dropping their call on the WRONG frequency. Ok, I get it, and we all screw up thinking our rig is in split when it's not.....BUT..... with my limited time trying to work split this happens a lot. With polite op's from a DXpedition they send "up up up up" hoping the offending station will get the idea. Oh, but wait then there are the clusters such as DX summit and in the comment section, other ops are not so polite about things. 

3. Often I have heard the DXpedition station sending "VE3?" meaning he wants the VE3 to come back to him as he needs the rest of the call.  As they listen for the VE3 there are also a few op's sending their call that is not even close to "VE3". It really messes things up for both the VE3 station the DXpedition. 

Now, there is some other behaviour that I come across that make DXpeditions a pleasure.

1. While the op is calling on the DXpeditions calling frequency they politely answer them with a 599 and TU. 

2.  Operators who, while sending out their call, can hear the DXpedition station answering someone other than them, and they stop calling right away. They can achieve this as they have their radio set to full break-in mode. This will allow you to hear  between your own dits and dahs, I will admit it takes some getting used to, but it's a great operating skill. 

3. Operators who politely post on the cluster the operators call sign and leave a message that they have to transmit up and not on the calling frequency.  Having said that, I have also seen some messages that are not polite at all. I understand folks get frustrated, but there is no reason to be rude, after all it is a hobby. 

Well, we are going away on vacation this week, so the DXpeditions will have to wait for another week. But I sure have been having fun working them. 


Zeroed in on another DXpedition……..

 


Yesterday I had a nice relaxing afternoon sitting at the 7610 checking out the bands. Solar conditions have been great the past while and that is a nice change to see.  I was able to work 7P8RU again, and I did see the DXpedition HD8R from Galápagos spotted on DX summit . I was not able to hear them on 20m and barely on 40m, but then I saw them spotted on 17m. I found 17m to be very quiet, and I definitely saw HD8R on the waterfall but no pile up was being shown.  I placed the Icom 7610 in Dual watch and split mode and found HD8R was working many stations, but most if not all I could not hear. The DX stations they were answering were mainly U.S. stations, so I realized the band was open in my direction.  As I listened and I emphasize "listening".  Now and then some U.S. stations were heard at my end working HD8R and this allowed me to get the team's strategy for working DX. 

I blindly threw my call-out a few times, and very soon after I heard VE9KE 599....I came back with VE9KK KK KK and low and behold the call was corrected, and I was in their log. Once again 100 watts and my Endfed antenna came through for me. 

This weekend is the CQWW SSB contest and for the SSB folks this is a big one. There is going to be lots of rare DX to be had for sure. For me I am a CW guy and not because I snub SSB but because in the past when operating SSB I have caused issues with neighbours. I am going to see if the rare CW stations have less of a pileup this weekend because of the SSB contest and many will be operating in that. 

The art of working split to contact a DXpedition.

 

Contacting 7P8RU

Yesterday afternoon while on 20m I noticed a large gathering around 14.040.  After a little investigating, I found it to be the 7P8RU DXpedition from Lesotho located in South Africa. The team were excellent CW operators and this made for a very organized pileup. As I listened to find out how they were working the pileup I found that as always operators trying to contact 7P8RU on their calling frequency.  With most if not all DXpeditions they operate split, meaning they call CQ on one frequency and listen on another. Their listening frequency can vary from 1kHz to 5kHz span. 

I find it best to listen to the DX station and also those trying to contact the DX station. This is done to learn how the DX station is working "the pileup"..... those who are trying to make contact. Most if not always the DX station has a pattern on how they contact calling stations. Other times they indicate specific regions they only want to contact.  It's best to listen first and find out the DX's rhythm, and also if they are working a region of the world that you are not in. This avoids you calling not getting answered and the DX station wondering why you're not listening to instructions.  This just brings about frustrations at both ends. 

Now down to the nitty-gritty of making contact! Once you have listened and found out the DX rhythm and that he is working stations in your part of the world, it's time to jump in the fray. But wait, how does one listen to both the DXpedition and perspective contact stations, who are 1-4 kHz away? This is where rigs with 2 independent receivers come in very handy. The 2 independent receivers allows you to hear VFO A and VFO B at the same time or the DX and those who are trying to contact them.  In my case I use headphones with VFO A in my left ear and VFO B in my right ear. 

They do say that a picture is worth a thousand words....and with DXpeditions this is also very true.  It's great to hear both sides but adding a visual representation is fantastic!  This is done with a radio that has a spectrum scope. Now you are able to hear and see each station the DX is working. As the DX either moves up or down the band, you can fit your signal in the pathway and toss out your call and see if you are heard. 

The Icom 7610 has all the above-mentioned bells and whistles, as do many other HF and SDR rigs. The picture above is a screenshot of my 7610 setup to work 7P8RU. I have turned on "Dual watch" this allows me to hear both VFO A (main) and B (sub) Split has been turned on, so I transmit on VFO B and not on top of 7P8RU on VFO A. 

On the spectrum scope, the red M is the main VFO A, and it is set on 7P8RU's calling frequency. The crowd of signals to the right (between M and S) are those calling the DXpedition station. The green "S" is my sub VFO marker and tells me where my transmit signal will be. 

One nice thing about the scope, once 7P8RU has contacted a station, most times you can see this station visually answering the DX station. By watching this interaction you get an idea of how the DX station is working the pileup.  The above picture shows the scope giving a band slice of 100 kHz and you can see t FT8 to the far right and toward the bottom of the band other CW signals. When working the DXpedition I have the scope set to a narrow slice of the band, so I can get a better picture of the pileup and who is being worked by the DX. 

It's great fun to work these stations when you can hear them, and it gives you a good workout on learning your radio and what it can do. In my case 7P8RU was contacted and is in the log! 

Travel Footage: 3Y0Z Antarctic Bouvet Island DXpedition 2018 Expedition (by EY8MM)

Here is video footage of the journey to Antarctic Bouvet Island, made by the 3Y0Z amateur ham radio team. This footage caught a few moments on the deck of M/V Betanzos.

As you can see in the last moments of this footage, the weather conditions contributed to the decision to abort the DXpedition, as it was far too dangerous to continue this expedition.

As reported by ARRL:

“Our captain has decided that it is in the best interest of safety and expediency to proceed directly to Capetown, South Africa, rather than Punta Arenas, Chile. We are now heading north to avoid the possibility of encountering ice. Currently, there is no ice in sight or on radar. In due time, we will head easterly toward Capetown. Our entire team is safe. Most are resting in their bunks and in good spirits. We will keep the amateur radio community and our families informed, as we continue our journey.”

In a huge disappointment for the DX community and the members of the 3Y0Z Bouvet Island team, the DXpedition’s leaders announced at 2000 UTC today (February 3) that a decision had been made to abort the DXpedition and head back to Chile.

“During the last 72 hours, we continued to experience the high winds, low clouds, fog and rough seas that have prevented helicopter operations since our arrival at Bouvet,” said an announcement on the 3Y0Z Bouvet Island website. “No improvement was predicted in the weather forecast for the next 4 days. Then, last night, an issue developed in one of the ship’s engines. This morning, the captain of the vessel declared it unsafe to continue with our project and aborted the DXpedition. We are now on our long voyage back to Punta Arenas. As you might imagine, the team is deeply disappointed, but safe. There is already talk about rescheduling the DXpedition.”

Bouvet Island currently is the third most-wanted DXCC entity, behind Kosovo and North Korea. The 3Y0Z DXpedition, comprised of top operators with considerable DXpedition experience, has been in the planning stages for 2 years and had attracted contributions from clubs and individuals around the world.

A dependency of Norway, Bouvet is a subantarctic island in the South Atlantic. The last Bouvet activation was 3Y0E, during a scientific expedition over the winter of 2007-2008.

 

Video Author: Nodir Tursun Zade, EY8MM

This copy is used BY PERMISSION from EY8MM, given in writing on 23 February 2018


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