VK0EK Heard Island News Letter 14 October 2015
VK0EK Heard Island News Letter 28 November 2015
AE0EE, HB9BXE, K2ARB, K3EL, KK6EK, KM4MXD, N6TQ, NG2H, NP4IW, UT6UD, VK2BAX, VK6CQ, W7XU, WJ2O will be active from Heard Island 21 March - 10 April 2016 as VK0EK.
They will operate on all HF bands CW, SSB, RTTY.
QSL via M0URX.
Ads for direct QSL:
Tim Beaumont, P.O. Box 17, Kenilworth, Warwickshire CV8 1SF, England.
VK0EK News 7 April 2016
This is from Radio Team Leader Dave, K3EL:
We are approaching our last weekend on Heard Island. One of our objectives is to give an All-Time New One (ATNO) to as many DXers as possible (we all like band-fills but they don’t give the same thrill as a first contact with an entity). To support this goal, we will be taking the following measures:
We will identify some of our operating positions as “ATNO Stations” that will be specifically asking for ATNO contacts or new mode contacts during the upcoming weekend (Heard Island time). Please only call these stations if a QSO with Heard Island gives you an All-Time New One or a new mode. Watch the message box in DXA for instructions and information. We will post information regularly on bands / modes where the ATNO stations are operating.
Weather-permitting, we will extend our stay, with the final day of radio operation being 11th April and departure on the 12th.
VK0EK News 6 April 2016 LETS GET YOU IN THE LOG!
VK0EK News 6 April 2016 60000 QSOs
We have just joined the “60K Club”
VK0EK News 5 April 2016
After a very windy night, we have a calm morning on Heard Island. 80 and 40 were very good into NA this morning. 30 is still working NA. The 20 m SSB station is working EU. A 17 m SSB station is calling, looking for the band to wake up to EU, and 17 CW is looking for NA.
VK0EK News 4 April 2016
So, Exactly How Many Operators Are On Right Now?
One of the problems with DXA is that the “Currently Working” lights only show operators who have logged QSO’s since they started their shift. This is NOT (necessarily) how many stations are on the air. There can be other stations calling CQ on an empty band. For example, the team has been on 20M calling CQ for hours with no answer.
The polar conditions are very different than in higher latitudes, and the VK0EK operators have been on bands that are just plain dead, when these bands can be open at higher latitudes.
Never give up, never surrender. WIth the SFI at 88 and SSN at 11 or so – it can be a tough slog.
VK0EK Aurora Oval
“Prop is not good from here to anywhere, and hasn’t been all day. We are making occasional Qs on 20, but no real runs. Alan’s (VK6CQ) experience is that this sort of event shuts prop completely down here, but that it should recover relatively quickly. However, looking at Spaceweather, it might be a lengthy event.”
VK0EK Torrential Rains and a Solar Storm
Dave, K3EL said the southern auroral oval is right over them – and with the Nullabor filling up like a lake – several antennas need some work.
VK0EK News 2 April 2016 12.02 GMT
50 THOUSAND QSO’s With More Than a Week to GO!
We’re having a busy afternoon here on the high bands, with lots of stations taking advantage of some weekend time to work us. Propagation has been quite good today, and we are trying to take advantage of that. It’s been a blast operating here, and we still have more than a week to go!
VK0EK News 2 April 2016
From early in the conception of this project we planned to activate two sites, a main location with all bands at Atlas Cove, and a limited operation for a short period from Spit Bay on the other side of Heard Island. The Spit Bay operation was designed to improve our ability to make contacts to western and central North America, which from Atlas Cove is the other side of Big Ben, the 9000-foot volcano in the center of Heard Island. However, now that the operation from Atlas Cove is well underway, we are finding good openings to the west coast on many bands. We are VERY aware of the areas that still have a huge need – and will work hard to work you in these areas.
Furthermore, Matt, the captain of the Braveheart, has been looking a reasonably safe weather opportunity to land and extract a radio team at Spit Bay, but so far we have not had one. As we enter the second half of the expedition, we have to consider what will be the most productive strategy, and it seems to us that continuing the operation with a full complement of operators from the Atlas Cove location will be more effective than dispatching part of the team to Spit with uncertain weather openings.
Please use our support team to inform us of propagation windows we might be missing so that you can get your ATNO. They will analyze this input and where they see trends they will pass it on to the operating team.
Dave, K3EL – Radio Team Leader and Bob, KK6EK DXpedition Leader
VK0EK News 1 April 2016
Our Motivation? Your ATNO!
We have invoked the “Tim Allen Rule” – and believe you should too:
We are going to put on the “Full Court Press” to get everyone into the log. We have run extensive queries against the log – down to the state or province level of who has worked us and where, and have combined this with your detailed support ticket data (“Contact Us”), and of course also looked at the Clublog data, and we know where there are holes in our coverage.
We will do these things to help you get into the log:
Our (ahem) “Pilots” – (a prehistoric term describing the 10 people answering your Freshdesk support tickets) will alert the team of special openings where you heard VK0EK and they did not seem to be beaming your direction. If you are in an area with low representation in our log – we will do whatever it takes to get you in the log. They all have DIRECT access to a support person on the island who is NOT on the radio when we contact them
Use more SSB, and then RTTY
Concentrate hard on areas that are very much underrepresented – such as Central and South America – where they are less than 2% in our log
Get on the high bands more
Finally, thank you for so many nice kudos and comments. We have fielded over 1300 support tickets on everything from Busted Calls, Propagation and Openings, Souvenir issues and others, and so – after receiving so many requests, it really motivates us when we then receive these sort of comments:
VK0EK News 31 March 2016 40000 QSOs
We just hit 40K QSO’s in the log, with 34% Uniques.
VK0EK News 31 March 2016 22.56 GMT
160, 80, 40 and 30 are on the air (2230 UTC). Note - DXA only lights up when QSOs are being made, so even though 160 and 80 show inactive right now, we are CQing - check these bands, conditions seem good tonight. Yesterday after heavy rain the Nullabor flooded - this is the flat plain that is just above sea level to the south of our camp. We have verticals for 160 and 80 there, 4-sq for 40 and 30, and rotary VDAs for 17 and 15. These antennas are enjoying an even better ground plane after the flooding.
VK0EK News 31 March 2016 12.05 GMT
We have SIX stations on the air!
Quite a bit of rain today, and the flat sandy area (nullabor) near camp flooded. Glad we didn’t put tents there!
Six amateur radio stations cranking out radio contacts simultaneously in our operations tent. They have installed eleven antennas and work on a 24 hour cycle to meet the insatiable demand from the vibrant worldwide amateur radio community. Radio expeditions to far flung remote locations is a tradition among hams that goes back to the earliest days of the hobby over a century ago. The connection to scientific projects is well established – Thor Heyerdahl had a station on the Kon-Tiki, as does the International Space Station where amateur radio is actively pursued by lonely astronauts.
Heard Island. VK0EK. Author - Bill AE0EE.
VK0EK Big Ben and The Camp
Big Ben and The Camp, Heard Island. VK0EK. Photo by Adam Brown.
As if to compensate us for the recent stormy weather, Big Ben rewarded us this afternoon with a beautiful view of her heights as a backdrop to a portrait of our Force-12 tribander antenna.
VK0EK News 30 March 2016 09.31 GMT
Winds today have abated from last night, when 60 kt winds were recorded aboard the Braveheart. This afternoon our team put up a 40 m delta loop and a 17 m vertical dipole array. These antennas are still undergoing evaluation and tuning, but we hope they will be on the air soon.
We have been having fun and keeping 5 stations on the air for the upper bands through the daytime hours. Our 40 m delta loop should allow us to have more stations on at night, helping to fulfill demand for SSB and RTTY.
At 0100z Thursday 3/31 (Wednesday night US), our own Dr. Bill Mitchell, AE0EE, will take over the @VK0EK twitter account for an hour to answer your questions about the birds, rocks, climate, and history of Heard Island, as well as comment on daily life here in the field. He will be using the hashtag #HeardQuestions.
VK0EK News 30 March 2016
>30K QSOs, 29% ATNO’s and 36% Uniques
VK0EK News 29 March 2016
Now that we’ve been on the air just about a week, we need your help. Our #1 goal – by far – is to give everyone an ATNO. We really could use your help – and ask:
If you already have Heard Island in your log for a band – please don’t work us on that band. This includes any prior DXpedition where you worked Heard Island on that band
If you live near a Little Pistol (or know of any in your DX Club) who is struggling to work us for the first time – please either give them advice or perhaps invite them to use your station. Or – if you have an old decent antenna where you can help them upgrade – there is still 12 1/2 days left of VK0EK – plenty of time to get a better antenna up
If you hear someone who seems to have problems with split operation – please email them kindly and offer to help them
If we all stick together like these penguins – and hunt when we need to hunt, but help and communicate with our other penguin DXer buddies where we can – we WILL all be much better off in this DXing game!
VK0EK News 28 March 2016 18.55 GMT
Today was a good day for radio operations. Outside it was very gusty, the high winds pick up dust and dirt as it moves over the volcanic sand near camp. Walking is difficult, and volcanic grit and sand get everywhere. However, inside the tents it’s much nicer (with warm clothing). A heater provides comfort in the operating tent, and the adjoining sleeping tent is warmer than the outside air. Additional heat comes from the radios and computers of five stations, most of which are in use around the clock.
VK0EK 28 March 2016 160m recording
VK0EK 160m 17.38 GMT Author UT7QF
VK0EK News 28 March 12.36 GMT
21K QSO’s, 5 Stations on Air, SSB After Contest and 40% Uniques!
One last thing – I work full time in San Francisco and simply cannot keep up with the email to my personal email address. PLEASE use the “Contact Us” so that the 10 very dedicated and hard working DXer / Support agents can help you resolve your issue or answer your questions.
73, Rich KY6R
VK0EK News 28 March 2016 01.58 GMT
We had a very windy night last night, but the tents and our team are all still here. It’s colder this morning—right around freezing—with a dusting of snow or graupel on the ground. The sunrise was quite nice, with partly cloudy skies (the peaks are in the cloudy part). With the contest over, we will resume SSB operations today on the contest bands (10, 15, 20, and 40 m).
VK0EK News 27 March 2016 18.17 GMT
2016-03-27 18:17:25Z: Our team is having fun on low band CW tonight. Listen for us on 1818.5, 3516, 7016, and 10116.
It's chilly and windy here on Heard Island, and occasional cold breezes blow through the tent. Skies are mostly clear, but Mawson Peak is hidden behind clouds.
VK0EK Heard Island transport
Carlos, NP4IW driving the Polaris with Nick of the Braveheart watching over the cargo – and ATV supplied by Leon Laing (Maverick Motor Sports of Cape Town)
Logistics. Bringing supplies in from the boat requires a lift to the beach by zodiac and then a ride a thousand yards up to base camp. The ATV, purchased used in Cape Town, helps a great deal with the heavier objects such as the tents, fuel and water. Here is Carlos driving and Braveheart crewman Nick keeping all the items aboard.
There are hundreds of “little” logistical aspects of an expedition – and each and everyone has to be meticulously planned and organized. The Planning and organization for VK0EK has proven to be quite stellar. Believe or not – our Team Handbook ended up being 450 pages!
VK0EK News 27 March 2016
Morning update (0200z): Our antennas have made it through some wind last night, and the low band results were good. This morning we are moving up the bands, and will try to get SSB in on the WARC bands. We plan to do little or no SSB on contest bands during the CQ WPX SSB contest.
Weather this morning is raining. Temperature is 4 C (39 F), strong and gusty NW winds, pressure is 996 mbar (29.41 inHg).
The laptop that first dropped off the N1MM+ network also has a disk problem – and we won’t know if its salvageable until after the dx-pedition.
Time frame was roughly an hour or so centered on 0300z 26-MAR-2016 . .
So please re-work us on 20M if your QSO never showed up on DXA.
VK0EK News New DXA Link
New DXA Link Which Will Greatly Improve Performance!
I have changed the reference to this link in the LOG page, and we hope you will change your bookmarks in your browser.
For the I.T people out there – Mike, KJ4Z put DXA on a Content Distribution Provider network (CDN) so that we now have a world wide cache – which means much better world wide performance.
We have a great support team – on and off the island. Hats off to them for such great support!
73, Rich KY6R
VK0EK on 160m
VK0EK News 26 March 2016
Last night [26-MAr-2016 @0422z] I had made my 20M CW QSO – they had the best signal into the SF Bay Area yet – booming, and Vadym was as good as any operator as I have heard on any DXpedition. When I did not see my QSO – I alerted the team, and after finding out that the laptop they were on was connected to only a couple other laptops but not all – we decided to simply swap it out. We are looking into what caused it – but it seems that it is the laptop itself – because after swapping the bad one out – everything started working just fine. And we had over planned and have 5 backup laptops. I will report back what the team wants me to do about this support wise, but I recommend if you had made any QSO and it doesn’t show up – for any reason – do what I am doing – working them again until it shows on DXA. I feel your pain!
I also have one of the exact same laptops sitting on my operating desk where I can follow along with any problems that they might have. This was by design.
Chalk this one up to Murphys Law – the team knows to simply stop when their N1MM+ laptop is not not connected to all computers in the N1MM+ Network – this will prevent any more of this from happening. This was NOT a DXA issue – but bad laptop – or so it seems.
Spit Bay – the plans are still to activate Spit Bay – but we obviously need to get Atlas Cove humming with at least all 4 “cylinders” firing, and get our QSO’s and rate up. We are all working hard to do just that.
We hope you like the job the Support Team is doing – please let us know. We are forwarding any tickets where we get thoughtful suggestions and recommendations for the team – and we are adjusting where we can to try to prevent more “bumps in the road”.
I see we just hit 10,000 QSO’s – and we will work hard to get crackin’ . . .
73, Rich KY6R
VK0EK News 25 March 2016 11.35 GMT
We are presently running on 17, 20, and 30 CW. Within the next hour or two, the number of stations on the air will be reduced to provide more hands to get the remaining antennas (especially 80 and 160 m) ready. Our hope is to be on 80 and 160 tonight, but that will depend on the weather. Presently the weather at Atlas Cove is 6 C (43 F), wind NE at 6 m/s (12 kts), under mostly cloudy skies.
VK0EK News 25 March 2016 05.12 GMT
Plan A for today was to have antenna work parties on Yagi, 160 m and 80 m 4-sq, and one or two stations on most of the time on the higher bands (we have one 12/17 m and one 10/15/20 Yagi up). However, at the moment the WX is not good, strong wind and rain/sleet, so we might not be able to work on the low bands antennas until the wind abates. At the moment it seems to be getting worse rather than better, but things can change quickly. We may try just putting up a single vertical for 80 to begin with if the WX remains too bad to work on getting all of the 4-sq together.
VK0EK News 24 March 2016 17.47 GMT
The day of landing, the team was able to get the 30 and 40 m 4-squares erected, and partially completed a triband yagi. We opened with two stations, on 30 and 40 meters. This morning there was still a lot of work to be done on additional antennas, stations, and camp facilities. With no propagation on 30 and 40, radio operations went on hold and all hands went toward further setup. Around 1300 UTC the 30 m station was activated again. A few kinks with the IT system were worked out, and we now have more antennas and positions up. Only 40 and 30 are currently open (no 80 or 160 yet). We hope to be on all bands in the next few days. After a few technical difficulties on-island, DXA is working properly and you can check that you are in the log at http://dxa3.org The team members are all well, but very tired from long hours and tough work. We have mostly had good weather, and appreciate all the thoughts and support from our partners in the ham radio and scientific community.
VK0EK News 24 March 2016
As you have noticed, at times DXA seems to stop. The good news is that every Q is being logged in a networked N1MM+ on the island – so your QSO is safely logged and replicated across all laptops. I’ve instructed the team to even make a backup at each shift change.
DXA receives every QSO from N1MM+ and stores this data in a MySQL database in the AWS Cloud. This database is replicated. Now we have up to 8 backups of the log!
So think of DXA as a backup of what is going on on the island – and where we display that backed up data in a web browser. Yes, it has stopped a few times, but DXA catches up after that outage.
We are working on preventing more DXA outages, and I will keep you up to date as the DXpedition progresses. Until then, keep working VK0EK!
73, Rich KY6R
VK0EK News 23 March 2016
VK0EK now QRV on 40 and soon 30 Meters.
VK0EK News 22 March 2016 14GMT
I just received a call from Bob, KK6EK, and he said that he, Arliss, W7XU, Bill, AE0EE, Dave, K3EL and several members of the Braveheart Crew are on Heard Island right now. The satellite connection was crystal clear – and he sure is one happy camper!
He said they have a beautiful view of Mawson Peak (Big Ben) – where it peaks out from the fog often. He said that they are planning exactly where the tents will go and making final staging plans. They arrived at 4 PM Heard Island local time, which was 2 1/2 hours ago as I write this. The ATV will get a work out in just over 12 hours!
They will be busy tonight staging the gear, and if this wonderful weather holds out – they will start camp setup as soon as the sun rises – their morning – in a little over 12 hours from now. It will take them all day to set up, but then they will be on the air!
Keep that sun dance going – your good thoughts are with the team, and vice versa!
Expect a flurry of photo’s – Bob said they are taking photo’s like mad and I will get them to all of you the minute I receive them. I will also post his voice log entries here.
Please also remember – that we plan to have Bob call into the W5KUB Webcast that is also simulcasted on shortwave radio station WBCQ.
Stay tuned – from now on – I will keep the words short and the images long – hi hi That “calm before the RF storm” is going to feel like a blink of the eye!
73, Rich KY6R
VK0EK News 22 March 2016
The radar showing the track of the vessel, about 20 miles distant. Weather is foggy so we could not see McDonald Island as we passed it. Many seabirds. Sea about 1-2m. Comfortable ride. Current time 1400 local (Heard Island). Expect to be in Atlas cove in about 2 h.
VK0EK News 8 March 2016
Bon Voyage reception put on by our many ZS friends. We load the Braveheart tomorrow and set sail for Heard Island on Thursday.
VK0EK News 1 March 2016
On March 1, 2016 the first of the Heard Island Expedition Team board flights for Cape Town, South Africa, the accumulation point for the expedition to Heard Island.
The first three to depart, Bob Schmieder KK6EK, Ken Karr NG2H, and Adam Brown K2ARB, will arrive in Cape Town at 1:00 PM local time, to be met by members of the South Africa Support Team. They will be followed over the next four days by the other team members: Fred Belton KM4MXD, Arliss Thompson W7XU, Gavin Marshall VK2BAX, Hans-Peter Blattler HB9BXE, Alan Cheshire VK6CQ, Bill Mitchell AEØEE, Dave Lloyd K3EL, Jim Colletto N6TQ, Vadym Ivliev UT6UD, Dave Farnsworth WJ2O, and Carlos Nascimento NP4IW.
The Cape Town Support Team has been interfacing with the vessel (also due to arrive in Cape Town March 3), and the local agency for inspecting the vessel and cargo for biological threats. We will be shopping, cleaning the tents, and loading the Braveheart, preparing for the scheduled sailing on March 10.
VK0EK News 12 February 2016
VK0EK News 6 February 2016
Equipment Arrives in Cape Town
The container carrying the equipment for the expedition has arrived in Cape Town, South Africa, and has been put into storage awaiting arrival of the advance team March. 3. The vessel Braveheart will arrive March 5, while the full team will arrive March 7. We will sail for Heard Island March 10, weather permitting, of course!
In addition, we are very appreciative of our South Africa team: Paul ZA1A, Pierre ZS1HF, Malcolm ZS6MAL, Sue ZS1AFR, and Tom ZS1AFS. Together with similar teams in California, Virginia, and Perth, Australia, the logistics is being managed professionally and securely.
VK0EK News 2 February 2016
In exactly one month, the “Advance VK0EK Team” will leave for Cape Town, South Africa. They will check in with our shipping agent and local Cape Town team and process the arrival of our container. The Braveheart will arrive soon after this team arrives. The excitement is building and we are making last minute preparations before the team starts their epic journey.
Heard Island. Information.
Barren, uninhabited – Heard Island – is a sub-Antarctic island, located in the Indian Ocean. Heard Island is under the administration of Australia. The island is covered with ice and mountains and is bleak, with a large dominance of massif – called Big Ben and Mawson Peak, which is an active volcano. You need to be highly cautious, when visiting the Heard Island. A lot of preparation and planning is required prior to a trip to the island. Since, there isn’t any permanent inhabitation, accessing the island can happen via an expedition only. You need prior permission to enter the island, since it is a nature preserve.
Heard Island, along with McDonald Island is known as HIMI. Both the islands experience severe sea and weather conditions, with a limitation of any kind of human activity. It was in 1855, when people landed in this island and till date, there have been only 240 visits to the Heard Island and that too, offshore ones.
Visiting Heard Island
Those visiting the island are usually part of wildlife resource exploitation, management, research, surveillance and expeditions. Water activities are inclusive of fishing, only at the commercial fishery, which is close to the HIMI Marine Reserve. Marine and territorial research is done in association with the Australian Antarctic Science Program.
Scientific studies and research continue to take place at the Heard Island, irrespective of the unfavorable conditions and isolation. HMS Challenger scientists came here first for research purposes, in the year 1874.
The massive research and studies here at the island, include different marine science disciplines, covering meteorology, volcanology, geomorphology, geology, marine ecology, terrestrial ecology, cultural studies and oceanography.
Recent programs of research and studies have laid a lot of emphasis on the comprehension of climate of the region and its effects that on the functioning of the ecosystems. The programs also study Heard Island’s glacial systems, monitor the seabird population and its trends, conduct examination of preys and predators and many more.
Australian Antarctic Program
This is a multi-disciplinary program, conducted by scientists and logistic professionals. The crew spends weeks and months on the island for conducting the program and they are usually accommodated in tents and huts that at the Atlas Cove and Spit Bay camps. The source of power is via small diesel generators, wind and solar cells generators. Storage of waste is also widely propagated and undertaken.
Since the 90s, extensive research programs in the marine discipline have been conducted in Heard Island, as well as, McDonald Island. Scientific research programs are coordinated by the AAD, which propagates sustainability of resources and retention of the ecosystem and its dynamics.
If you want to get an ‘island experience’, then visit Heard Island!
Video DX Pedition Heard Island VK0EK
Video Heard Island