This update was sent by Don, G3XTT earlier today.
We have now been operating for four days and have passed the 50,000 QSO milestone. There is still almost 3 weeks to go, so those who are still needing us on various bands and modes have many opportunities still to come. This bulletin is by way of a summary of what has been done and what is planned.
Bear in mind that this has turned out to be something of an unplanned Field Day style operation, and we now have no expectations of our container of equipment arriving while we are here on Christmas Island.
Instead, the team hand carried just over one metric tonne of equipment (poles, cables, radio gear, computers, etc) to the island. We are extremely grateful to all those who loaned equipment at short notice to help enable the expedition to take place and be successful. Inevitably we have had teething problems, as we have a variety of amplifiers, Microham routers, etc. where we would, ideally, like to have standard equipment and interfaces. Fortunately the transceivers are consistent as Yaesu came to our rescue with the loan of ten FT-450D radios at very short notice.
Antenna-wise, we have two-element vertical dipole arrays by the sea for 20 through 10, quarter-wave verticals with elevated radials for 30 and 40, a quarter wave vertical with ground radials for 80 and a 15m high T antenna with ground radials for 160. We also have two Beverage receive antennas for 160 and now have additional vertical dipoles for 10, 15 and 20 to allow us to retask the low band stations as second stations on those bands when LF is closed. We are continually refining our antenna systems within the limits of the wire, poles and coax that we have here, though the second tranche of operators who arrive in a week’s time will bring more.
We started our SSB operations at the weekend with an entry in the Oceania SSB contest in which we believe we have comprehensively beaten the previous contest records. We will not, however, be entering the CW leg as this would undoubtedly lead to a lot of unnecessary duplicate contacts as we will by then have been very active on CW on all bands.
There has been high demand for Christmas Island, especially on LF and also on 10 and 12 where, for many years, there has been little or no propagation. So far the sunspots have been helping those bands along, with 10m being our QSO leader to date. We have pretty much been working all comers to clear the decks so that we can begin to focus more on Europe where band openings are much more limited than to the US and Japan. We would appreciate cooperation from those two areas – US and Japanese stations should find plenty of opportunity to work us on all bands. We did have to delay starting our RTTY operations – our original plans would have allowed us to be on RTTY right from the start. The good news is that RTTY is now well under way on several bands. If 10m continues to play well, we may even show up on FM!
On 160, we made our first European contacts last night, Italy and Germany and at our sunset and Russia, Ukraine and Finland at our sunrise. Hopefully these openings will improve over the next week or two. 80m shows a similar pattern but with longer openings, but right now only our topband station has access to the Beverages.
We will continue to make regular updates on our website and Michael G7VJR will no doubt update Twitter while he is here (he leaves with the first group next week). The online log on ClubLog is getting a very high hit rate, as expected – we are uploading logs twice a day, at 7am and 7pm local time here. The Internet connectivity from the hotel is turning out to be better than we had anticipated (since our site visit a year ago the hotel has installed a satellite Internet), and not only does this make log uploading easier but has meant that we have been able to follow everyone’s feedback better than expected – we are grateful for that and it feeds into our daily team meetings. There is a feedback facility on the t32c.com website, which is the best way to reach us.
Finally, for that small but enthusiastic group of 6m EMEers, we are still hoping to give this mode a go in the second two weeks of the expedition, but cannot at this time make any guarantees.
T32C Publicity Officer