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    V84SAA - Brunei - TOP Band

    Hi Gang
    Our team is getting ready for V84SAA and we just posted some operating notes for Topband on our website which is now live.
    In addition to what is there, please take a look at the tips below which may HELP U WORK US!
    From 9M0W - I personally learned this is one of the most gawd-awful paths into Eastern NA imaginable!
    It is hard to appreciate what we will be dealing with coming out of our headphones:
    a) Doppler shift on weak NA signals.
    b) Dropped portions of morse CW characters - like instead of HEARING W4ZV - what I swore I heard was N4IS calling me one morning. I totally missed the W - I heard the 4 and from the Z I did not hear the two DAHS in the Z.
    What I then heard was 4 dit dit and then from the V I heard the dit dit dit and not the DAH at the end of the V!!
    So since that is what we will be dealing with - even with the BEST xmit antennas we can manage and some good RX antennas, we are going to have to work very HARD to deal with this kind of tough path.
    BUT YOU CAN HELP US!!!

    Please do ****not*** simply call us ONCE at 35wpm on a qsb peak - and then wait for the next several CQ passes from us to call us again.
    That may seem logical - but it is not what will likely get you in our log.
    I personally recommend that you keep sending your call - over and over - which in the end may allow us to piece it together somehow.
    KJ9I is a perfect example of someone who did it right at 9M0W. I blew his call several times - but because he kept sending it over and over - I finally managed to piece it together and Dave now has a richly deserved 9M0W qsl to show for it.
    So without beating this to death too much - please appreciate what we will be dealing with and try to adapt your calling sequences to what we know will work best for US.
    9M0W was a humbling experience for us out there - and even though you will have some pretty damned good lowband ops trying to work you on Topband - I can guarantee you that it will be really tough to get anyone East of the Mississippi River into our 160m log.
    Please note - we have a really good darkness overlap with all of NA starting at our SUNSET each evening.
    We also will have some great LONGPATH opening chances into VE1/VE9/VY2/VO1/VO2 and then W1/2/3 at your local SUNSET here on the East Coast of NA. Remember - it will likely be SHORTPATH well before your local SR time (meaning you aim to the N/NW) skirting the auroral ovals at our Sunset and you want to look SE at your SUNSET over the long path to work us - meaning you aim at about 150 degrees. This will correspond to our local SR event.
    Last year there really was no path for us SE over the longpath at our SS - although NO3M reported the path did shift around at his Rx location - but even for him it was mainly a shortpath event. And he should know because Eric was our most NE contact from 9M0W and he heard us several times coming over the pole out of the NE.
    Good luck to all - we are a little more than a month away now.
    HNY to all
    73 JEFF K1ZM/VY2ZM
    73 Al 4L5A
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    #2
    Hi Gang
    I am off to bed but a quick update on the lowbands out here.
    On 80m at our SS we had some good luck. K1LZ worked KV4FZ, FM5BH K8MFO some W0's W3LPL, W3UR and quite a few others.
    This was as the sun setting out over the ocean.
    On 160m where I was - it was really tough - but managed to copy N4IS in (FLA) and work N0FW in Cincinnati Ohio.
    We have a 1000 ft beverage aimed at NA on the short path - and the xmit antenna is almost in the salt water - but honestly NA signals on Topband are about RST 109 for the most part.
    Only the west coast is about 559 with some exceptions Keep the faith - we are trying - with an S meter resting at S1 and only atmospheric noise to deal with - it is still beyond hard to hear stations considerably BELOW that level.
    It is almost ESP like out here on Topband! Keep the faith - maybe we will get an uptick in propagation while we are here
    73 JEFF K1ZM/VY2ZM
    73 Al 4L5A

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      #3
      Hi ALl
      Just got back from the CW site.
      I worked W1NA via LP at about 2237z on 1805.5 qsx 1808.5 I do this set of frequencies to try to focus on NA at both SR and SS - as it helps keep a bit of order out of ASIA and EU. Still some do CALL outside their allowed band segments. This was my first breakthrough to the NA east coast on 160m - I heard no other callers - I was there from 2150z to 2250z cq'ing for NA steadily. Wish there had been others...
      I will be back at SS again looking for NA Next to me on 80m about 3505 - K1LZ managed to work my brother K3ZM via the LP also - there may have been others.
      Part of the problem on 80m is that one cannot HIDE from unwanted callers - W3LPL had a tough slog to get through the very loud JA callers - I am sure it would have been much easier if Asia had stopped calling. But it is what it is. We know many want their Q and get impatient - it happens and we just have to go with the flow - HI.
      We will there again at our SS - 1805.5 for 160m and around 3505 for 80m.
      Keep your ears on pls!
      73 JEFF K1ZM
      73 Al 4L5A

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        #4
        Little to report to the NA East Coast at our SS time - worked only N4IS - I think I heard other vy weak stations calling but could not put together any calls the signals were so weak.
        Will be on for the SR opening to the East Coast starting 2145z or so - either 1805.5 or perhaps 1826.5 this morning - in both cases QSX UP 3 khz.
        Jeff
        73 Al 4L5A

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          #5
          Hi All
          I need some sleep badly but there is good news to report.
          We are almost at 3,000 qso's already on 160m - and they keep on coming - most are from JA and Eu - the Eu signals were so loud last night that Krassy ran 300 of them on 160m in about 3 hours.
          First our SS - this is still a bit of a bummer! So far the furthest penetration into W1-W4 has been to N4IS in Fla. I did also work Pete N0FW in OHIO - but man was he weak - but who cares - it was a good qso.
          No other W8/W9 as yet - dunno why.
          We have worked a few W0 stations and quite a few W5/W6/W7 - this is about the same as last year at 9M0W.
          ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ +++++++++++++++++++=
          THE BIG NEWS OF TODAY WAS THE SR OPENING INTO W1 ON THE LONG PATH.
          It was open to VO1HP as early as 2124z - and at 2148z Don Greenbaum N1DG called me right over top of the Eu stations - a solid 569 and I knew we finally had some PROP!
          I then went down to my preferred NA freq of 1805.5 and was spotted - then in quick succession managed to work AA1V in MA K1WHS in ME K1FZ in ME K1RL in MA W1RM in CT and W1LU ( I think ) at my exact SR time - might be CT or MAINE - not sure of that one.
          Judging on where these guys are located - it seems this was primarily a coastal event - as most of these stations are not very far inland. Several of them are definitely near SALT WATER - no surprise there.
          W1NA from yesterday is on Cape Cod - also near salt water!
          I am positive there were other callers as I heard tidbits way way down there - pretty sure I was getting called by others.
          Over on 80m Krassy was watching me do my thing into NE but he had NOTHING on 80m on the Long Path That boggles my mind as we were sharing the same RX antenna - no idea how 160m could be open via LP and not 80m - never seen that before!
          We are discussing options for a dedicated SW Rx antenna - which may boost signal LP levels into W1-W3 for the rest of our time.It still is a bit of chaos out here - but I am hoping we find a way to work on the LP RX that we do not yet have.
          So there is a chance for more - just keep ur ears on.
          EU and JA dominates as expected- with huge signal levels - at our SS we usually try hard for the east coast - but nothing usually happens until the SR reaches W5 - then we get 5/6/7 stations - some with reasonable signal levels.
          Today - N1DG was the loudest out of NE on the long path - followed by AA1V - K1WHS/K1FZ/K1RL and W1RM were all good copy but down at least an S unit from these two guys. W1LU was weak just as I was going into daylight.
          We had a great opening ceremony hosted by the Brunei Amateur Radio Assn on Saturday afternoon - there was press coverage, plus we were an item on the 6PM news hour on TV that night - and today's local paper has a group photo and a short article on our dx'pedition.
          I have to say that the VOLUNTEER effort on our behalf by the local V8 hams and their wives is nothing short of extraordinary. They catered the whole event, invited the deputy chief of the local FCC (called AITI) as the guest of honor - and V85TL and K1LZ made opening speeches.
          So we are having great fellowship out here with our brethren hams from V8. Last night I had a long chat with V85A - famous for his VOODOO AUDIO. He is a great guy and Krassy and I had fun meeting and talking with Rahman.
          Over at the SSB site (which I have not managed to find time to visit - I do not even know *where* it is exactly!) - LZ2HM reported to me this morning that they have made 4,000 FT8 qso's already - wow.
          We may still have a chance to do some FT8 on Topband - but pls do not hold your breath - as we have no good internet at the CW site - which is needed to keep the WSJTx time synched - but perhaps we will find a way to get something going in several days.
          Many of us are staying up in JERUDONG and the transit time to the CW site is about 27 mins. I almost know the route with my eyes closed by now - as I have made at least 3 trips daily so far - to make sure I do not miss a prime time NA opening.
          So rest assured - we are giving it 100% despite not yet having achieved what I had hoped for into NA. But we are trying and we never give up!
          GL to all - and keep ur ears on!
          73 JEFF K1ZM/VY2ZM
          73 Al 4L5A

          Comment

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            #6
            Hi All
            Last nite I had a family matter to take care of and could not be at the SS opening our time - your SR time.
            Adi covered for me later assisted by JT1CO.
            A quick check shows that Adi worked 31 NA stations during that opening last night - and a few of them were interesting catches - eg: NP2J, C6AGU, NO8D, NX4D, K4SV - and the usual crop of 5/6/7 land stations. I checked the log and Adi's last NA contact was much later than normal that I have seen - he logged K7IDX at 1532z - I usually start getting overrun with EU callers by 1430z and switch over to the EU antenna at that time - this antenna has to be manually changed each night - which is why I often shift my focus to EU at what seems to be a good time.
            This morning at OUR SR I was able to be there and pls note that each day at 2145z - I depart from 1822 or 1823 and qsy to 1805.5 qsx up 3 on 1808.5.
            I did not hear any NA from 2145z - 2245z - I CQ'd for an hour - NADA.
            However - at 2145z VO1HP copied me on 1822 - with a good signal - and called me but I did not hear him.
            I hrd him two days ago but we did not connect that day - so I am still looking to work East coast VE via the long path.
            Again - I am out there tonight again for you SR opening - I usually start with Ja until the sun gets low in the sky - once the sun sets, the really strong part of the opening has passed it seems.
            Hope to work some more of you tonight - remember - you want to look on 1805.5 qsx up 3 and not around 1822.
            73 and GL
            JEFF
            73 Al 4L5A

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              #7
              Hi Gang
              Last night we got out to the beach CW site an hour or so before SS. We tried hard for the east coast, but I believe all that we worked were stations West of the Mississippi river.
              Some high points were these:
              1) We picked up 25 more NA stations during our SS opening
              2) Interesting catches were KH7XS, AH6QM, D4C, XX9X,
              3) Our new DHDL, aimed at 150 degrees, paid off in spades - as we strung together about 8 VK stations - many whom had advised us earlier in the week that they were copying us and calling - but despite hearing them - copying their calls was very difficult until last night when it was far easier to hear them - so that worked.
              3) I think we worked something like 150 stations overall bringing our 160m total to about 3,600 Topband qso's. I should point out that our DUPE percentage is HIGH - something like 365 dupes as I recall.
              4) I tried at our SR this morning and heard nothing at all from NA - although I had a sked with VO1HP but did not hear Frank - having heard him well two days ago and he has heard us at least twice so far.
              5) The Topband pileups have slowed down now and we seem to be left with callers out of EU who really want to work us but probably have lesser equipped stations and perhaps lower power. I say this because it often takes me 3 minutes to copy and confirm a callsign now - which makes the rate quite slow. No matter - We know many want their chance to work V8 on 160m and we will keep at it for as long as we can to please as many as we possibly can on Topband.
              6 The ARRL CW DX Contest is this weekend and I have not heard from K1LZ how we wishes to structure our operations.
              Our choices might be to work PHONE and FT8 only - and limit our CW activity recognizing the global impacts of the contest.
              On Topband - personally I might favor coming on at both our Grayline periods (SR and SS) and staying on 1805.5 qsx up 3 - since only a small amount of contest activity on CW ever occurs below 1810khz. No promises on this one - but that makes sense to me.
              A number of us visited the home of V85A yesterday - I did not myself - but I know many did and ADI S55M managed to fix V85A's amplifier which had been down. I did hear talk of perhaps doing some of the contest from there by some of our ops - but this is a rumor at this point It is now around12:30PM local time and I am gonna catch some ZZZ's and head out to the beach to work our SS opening in a few hours - I surely hope we have some conditions to the East of the Mississippi river then - I missed perhaps the best night two days ago - and I know there are many who still want to work us in W2/W3/W4. - I did not mention W1 - but that too - it is just so hard to work that region - it is far easier on our morning LP route - but even this path is totally variable. It only opens well once in awhile but we will be there trying rest assured!
              GL to all - we hope to log more of you in the coming days. We are nearing the end of this soon!
              73 JEFF K1ZM/VY2ZM
              73 Al 4L5A

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                #8
                Yesterday it looks like 203 additional qso's were made on Topband. Condx were good to NA from 1025z - 1100z - but rather poor later into EU.
                We did manage to work 33 qso's into NA during the SS opening - after 1100z signals drop rapidly though (like a rock) - so it is best to be there BEFORE we go into darkness. We have seen this for several days now - and while there are guys still hearing us and calling us - we just cannot decipher the calls after 1100z - they are about RST 119 at best after 11z. Once SR occurs in W5 W7 and W6 - signals get loud enough again to have a chance to figure out a callsign.
                GL to all
                there are 4 more chances to work us from NA - 2 on SS and 2 on SR Most of us depart on the 18th in the Am - so teardown is set for all day on the 17th -our last operations 160m will likely end at SR our time on the 17th.
                73 JEFF
                73 Al 4L5A

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                  #9
                  Hi Guys
                  A quick report on things here:
                  1) At our SS - there was a short opening to NA from 1035-1048z or so and we worked K9CT/K2FF/NA5NN/K9UWA/N4CC and a few others - 7-8 total I think. Later around 100 more EU stations.
                  2) The plans for our SR at 2145z on 160m were altered (unbeknownst to me) by a prior commitment made to PY5EG to try FT8 on 1836 starting around 2130z looking for SA friends.
                  We did come up on FT8 on 1836 and worked a slew of EU callers on Ft8 - I have no idea how many - but it was a lot.
                  3) Krassy showed up around 2200z and we re-jigged the 160m radio setup for 80 CW and we got on around 2215z I think.
                  We set up split headphones so we both could attempt to pull callsigns out of the massive pile - and I know we worked a ton of East coast via LP on 3503 qsx up 1 on 3504. Although not a complete list - here is who I remember we worked N1SV/W1QS/N1RJ/W3BGN/WT3Q/W1FV/VA2EW/N2ZX/VE9AA - there were others - I just cannot remember them all here at the hotel.
                  4) We are working the contest on some bands today BUT BUT - Despite that contest effort here - I will try my best to do the 160M SS and SR openings again on 1805.5 qsx 1808.5 as I think no contest activity usually takes place below 1810. It should be relatively easy to do that again.
                  K1UO and VO1HP - please remember the planned CALLING FREQS and the times we established.
                  I will do my best to honor them.
                  As long as these plans do not get re-arranged - I will be there trying these last two windows for NA.
                  Last night at my SS I did work K9CT with a very strong signal around 1035z or so. So there is hope still - HI.
                  We start takedown at SR 2300z tomorrow morning - the 17th our time.
                  Most of us fly home on the 18th.
                  Gl to all - and BTW we are over 50,000 contacts now.
                  73 JEFF K1ZM/VY2ZM
                  73 Al 4L5A

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                    #10
                    GA All
                    Teardown has been achieved and we will have a group dinner to celebrate tonight at 7:30PM

                    First - thanks to everyone for looking out for us and trying to work us on Topband. We had a great time trying to hear and work you and I hope you had fun chasing us.
                    I know we did not work all who wanted a qso on Topband - but we were there at every opening and even made a few extra qso's in the ARRL DX CW contest today - quite a few of these were into NA on 160m..
                    This exercise was instructive to us in a number of ways:
                    1) V85 and this part of the world is damned difficult to work into from NA districts W1 and W2. For example, here are some numbers:
                    W1 - 8 qso's in all - All via the LP around our SR -
                    W2 - NONE (At least none that I can recall...)
                    W3 - 2 qso's - one via LP and one via SP as I recall
                    W4 - Quite a few - this part of NA is workable more easily - All qso's via SP
                    W5 - Good propagation via the SP - reliable every night
                    W6/W7 - These districts have what I call the "front door" to this part of the world on Topband
                    W8 - One as I recall - but maybe there were 1-2 more
                    W9 - Only a handful via SP
                    W0 - Around 10-15 qso's (if that) - all via SP

                    Some observations:
                    1) Antennas work well when placed near salt water! You all commented that we had a great XMIT signal.
                    2) Short path propagation is best right at our SS - and drops off rapidly after about 25-30 mins
                    3) Long path peaks start about 30 mins before our local SR and fade rapidly as we go into daylight
                    4) 80m is far easier into NA than 160m is - for sure.
                    5) We know we were out transmitting our ability to hear via the LP into NA at our SR (This may have been a case of shooting ourselves in the foot! ) We heard W1NA and N1DG very well early in the week at 2200z or so - but it was almost a total bust into W1 after that. Some changes were made in the splitting of our RX antennas the next day - and for the life of me - I am beginning to think we lost something in that process. I usually do not like making changes to an environment that works - and I think we hurt ourselves by trying to do too much - when simpler had proven itself to be working relatively well. Sorry for that - especially to VO1HP who was heard and should have been in our 160m log. Frank heard us almost every day on the LP - & I heard him the day we worked N1DG - but never thereafter - which is a real downer... We never completed a qso that was relatively easy to achieve IMHO. LP into VO1 is quite good from this part of the world - especially if attempted on a clear frequency.
                    Statistics
                    (Note that the FINAL CLUBLOG numbers are not yet posted as I write this!) And the 160m numbers shown there include some OTHER BAND QSO's that happened to be made at the 160m equipment during the daytime.
                    It looks like 3,677 Total 160m QSo's were made on 160m CW - I do not know the FT8 total but it was contributory as well. FT8 was worked mainly out of the SSB camp and one night with us in the CW camp. Most qso's were in Asia and Europe. NA was harder to crack - even on FT8.
                    More than 400 CW qso's were made into NA on Topband (with the addition of the ARRL CW Dx Test numbers).
                    Europe dominated our numbers - followed by JAPAN/ASIA.
                    Note that it was hard to work into VK - and I do not remember working a ZL.
                    Finally, I am aware that there are some band logging errors and surely there will be some busted calls in our log due to the ESP-like signal levels that we were dealing with much of the time.
                    Please be patient as these are sorted out and pls do this via our QSL manager. And please do not ask me about other bands - I did not ever leave the 160m chair and never even visited the SSB camp - I do not even know where it was or how to get there - my singular focus was 160m for the past 10 days and K1LZ was the MAN on 80 CW 99% of the time. We sat next to each other and I thought we each helped each other as things progressed.
                    BUT
                    I do have a personal copy of the 160m logs - just in case there are issues where the QSL manager asks me for an opinion regarding a specific qso.
                    73 to all and thanks for helping us make this a successful lowband-focused dx'pedition.
                    We had fun - the pleasure was all ours! Thanks for being a part of it!
                    JEFF K1ZM/VY2ZM
                    73 Al 4L5A

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