Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Other people's DXpeditions

I am in Washington state on business but still trying to keep up with things while away. The magic of email allows me to do some of this even when far away from home. Let me tell you about some of the email I've been getting and sending recently.
Phil Whitchurch (G3SWH) and Jim Kellaway (G3RTE) just returned from Montserrat. I'd been exchanging email with Phil for quite some time. Of course, I asked how well they did, what kind of equipment they used, and so on. Here's what Phil had to say in one of his recent messages:

I used a doublet on all bands rigged as an inverted vee with the centre at around 50 feet. Jim used a combination of a doublet, sloping dipoles and inverted vee dipoles. We both used barefoot TS-570D transceivers with switched mode power supplies and laptops for logging. We also have Dunestar filters for minimising inter station QRM, but didn't seem to need them at Alta Loma as we were able to get the antennas sufficiently well separated. It's a formula we have used on several other DX-peditions.

We should have done better, but I was suffering from a viral infection which made me very tired. My antenna wouldn't tune on 80 metres and Jim's wouldn't tune on 17 metres.

160 was very disappointing because of the very high QRN level I did work a few Europeans one morning and could hear a massive pile up, but just couldn't copy any callsigns. The next morning I called CQ for about 30 minutes and worked a solitary W5!

When Phil claims he should have done better, please understand that his two man team outperformed our seven man team when comparing the number of QSOs put in the log! I also mentioned in previous blogs that it was a pleasure listening to Phil work those pile-ups on CW. Very nice.
I've also been exchanging emails with Peter Freiler (W1AIR) who is now in the process of planning a trip to Hawaii and would like to make it a 100 Pound DXpedition. Peter already has a great start with a package that looks very much like the one I used on St. John last year: FT-897 with built-in power supply, laptop, and some lightweight antennas (though precisely which ones he's not decided on yet).
Peter is also looking for smaller parts to make the portable station complete. He was looking for a foot peddle, for example, and I suggested something like this on eBay. I bought a few foot switches similar to these and they work very well.
As for the antennas, I made some suggestions. I had used an MP-1 while in Hawaii and Peter wondered if that was still a good option. I pointed him to some pictures off my home page that show me holding my MP-1 on that top floor balcony. If you look at those pictures, you'll see that this is not a stock MP-1. Quite the contrary, I had made some serious improvements to it by adding Buddipole arms (one or two) to the bottom and a much longer whip on the top. Add to that an elaborate set of radials made from ribbon cable and you can't really compare my set-up to an off-the-shelf version of the MP-1.
Those Hawaii photographs were before the advent of the Buddistick and, though I didn't know it at the time, my contraption was more like one of these Buddisticks than an MP-1. And, by the time you add the parts that I added to the MP-1 system, it would be cheaper (and better) to just get the Buddistick, IMHO. I know it seems like I pump these products (the Buddi* stuff) a lot, but it works well, travels well, and is versatile. I praise what works.
I don't know what antennas Peter will ultimately select, but he's doing the right thing by exploring his options early. It also helps to ask around, get opinions, and see how other people did with their choices. I am absolutely shameless in this regard, asking people what they did, how they did it, and what they would do differently next time. I learn something every time I do so.
I've been exchanging emails with a few other folks as well, but time and space limit me here. Suffice it to say that I enjoy every message, enjoy helping when I can, and really enjoy hearing about all of these trips people are planning. I think this is an extremely fun thing to do within the hobby. I'm glad others think so, too.


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