Friday, August 23, 2013

Day 3 Saturday August 17 – gale force winds and electrical storms – Houston we have a problem.

It was still WAY to windy to consider putting up the 15m vertical dipole and I was expecting the 20m vertical dipole’s fibreglass pole to de destroyed overnight but it somehow still survived. In the light of day there was lots of storm surge damage to the beach but the 20m vertical dipole guy anchors were hammered very deep into the beach despite the water crashing over two of the guy points – yikes!

In the morning I went on to 15m to work JA’s (Saturday morning their local time) and North America. South Australia is VERY VERY different to all of my other IOTA DXpedition ventures to the top end of the Northern Territory (VK8BI OC-185) and far north Queensland (VK4LDX/P OC-138/OC-171/OC-172). It’s even worse at this time of the year. Working JA’s on these other DXpeditions has been as easy a shooting fix in a barrel, but 15m during the day for a South Australian DXpedition in August was like pulling teeth. There was very little propagation and there was a slow trickle of JA and USA stations. Mind you FM5DN at 0030 UTC was 59+20dB and he couldn’t understand why I didn’t have a big pile up as he claimed my signal was massive in the Caribbean.  

A local VK contest was starting at 0300 UTC and going for 24 hours and so I ventured to 20m early at 0245 UTC to start calling CQ and hold my frequency. The first European signal occurred at 0254 UTC and it was another massive pile up from 0430 to 0800 and the band closed at 0930. I could only be on the air very intermittently after this time due to massive electrical storms that evening.

As the skies were lit up with lightning and the worst of the storm hit the island, I reflected on the fact that the Spiderbeam yagi which I’ve used for my past few IOTA DXpeditions would have been destroyed in the first day. From now on I’ll only ever use these wonderful vertical dipoles on the Spiderbeam poles at the high tide mark of the beach. Their performance is amazing and there are no beam headings to worry about. If I want to “beam” to North America then I just ask other parts of the world to stand-by!

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