QSOs are flying into the log
Band conditions have cleared up and antenna arrangements have been solved to the point where I can start putting QSOs into the log at a reasonable pace. The current count is about 550 QSOs with 42 states, 40 DXCC entities, and 13 zones. The zones count is the worrisome data point. I should be reaching more places than I have.
I had several nice runs on 75m, 17m, and 15m today. Note the absence of 20m contacts. Conditions were such that I could have runs off 20m so I worked those other bands. If conditions soften again, I'll go back to 20m.
Not all was managing pile-ups, though. Budd and I were interviewed on the FM radio station on Montserrat this morning. It was to just be a 5 minute interview but it turned into something more like 15 minutes. This is a beautiful place and Budd and I couldn't help ourselves. We went on-and-on about it. So, our 15 minutes of fame was on ZJB radio Montserrat. (
Rueul Hixon (VP2MFH), the local ham that was instrumental in helping us get through some sticky paperwork to get here met us at the radio station after our interview. He had been listing to the station (after all, it is the only one on the island) and thought it would be nice to meet us there. I'm not sure I've mentioned this fellow by name in my blog, but his generosity in helping us get our licenses expedited through the system (among other things) seems to be a hallmark of this island. The people really are friendly; it isn't just some Caribbean tourist gimmick here! So, if you ever run into this fine gentleman on the air, be sure to thank him for helping make this DXpedition possible.
We had high goals for this trip. Seven operators, light equipment budgets, SSB, CW, and data modes, all bands, and an aggressive on-line presence with on-line logs, pictures, and news from the trip available on our DXpedition web site. We've been able to do some of this (maybe even most of this), but certainly not all we had hoped. Paul (VP2MVO) has been working hard on the digital modes. We know that few people have VP2M confirmed on any digital mode and we hope to remedy that. Paul's initial attempts to make contacts with RTTY, however, did not produce any QSOs at all. We intend to have Paul switch from PSK-31 to RTTY again perhaps even as soon as tomorrow. We'll try to use the packet spotting network to tell people Paul is available on RTTY when he does do the switch.
We've had some compliments--and complaints--so far from our fellow hams. We take all things with a constructive spirit. Here are some things people have asked for that we will try to do:
- RTTY - As mentioned above. This is a priority.
- 30 CW - Budd has made some contacts on 30m but we'll get more in the log in the next day or so.
- 6m - We have some excellent antenna options for 6m. We'll try to get that going tomorrow. The Magic Band always makes for some fun on-air adventures.
- 12m - The problem with 12 meters is that the opening probably happens during a great run on 15m! Still, we will attempt to sniff for openings on this band (though at this point in the solar cycle, I hope people won't be too disappointed if no reasonable openings appear).
- 160m - Topband is tough from these locations since there is rarely space to pull it off. Still, we think we've got a shot. It will probably be limited to CW, though.
- HFPack frequencies - The HFPack folks would like to work everybody in our group on 17m at 18.15750, their calling frequency (or at least somewhere on 17m). I would like all operators to give these fine folks in HFPack a chance to "collect them all". We'll try to do that.
There are other things that could be going better. On-line logs for all operators except for Budd are mostly up-to-date. I've just taken Budd's down because there appears to be some problems with the transcription between his paper notebooks and the computer logs constructed from those notes. Of course we want everything to be right, so we'll get that reviewed, fixed, and then put his QSOs back up on the web site. Sorry for the delay.
I've learned much more in these last few days than I could easily express in this blog. Certainly we were short on some planning activities for the trip. Logging was one such activity that could have used more deliberate discussions and planning. I've already mentioned the antenna plan (or lack thereof) and its cost in time. There are other things, too, but I really don't want to leave the impression that things are not going well. In fact, things are going quite well! And, in case you are wondering, we are all having a great time.
See you on the bands. (I knew this wouldn't be short...)