FT5ZM Story

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by IZ7FLP
Answer : K9CT

 

1) Hello Creig, in recent months we’ve seen two hero’s Most Wanted, as it was passing by the magnificent colors of the atoll of Wake to ‘inhospitable Amsterdam?

Both dxpeditions were well planned and successful by most measures. The teams were very good and the opportunity to be involved with two highly desired DXCC entities was a pleasure.

2)All we have followed satellite of your long journey by ship from VK to Amsterdam, tell us how you lived all these days in the ocean,and as has been reviewing the mainland after a long time ?

 

I think all of us had some trepidation regarding the ship ride. Most all of the team members took some medicine to quell the seasickness. The Scopolamine patch was the most used medicine. Some took Phenergan and stayed in their bunk for most of the journey. Some of the team spent time operating the MM station but it was in the bow of the ship and sometimes the seas were so rough that it was not possible to sit! Meals were very good but some did not feel like eating. We wandered about the ship and stayed busy either reading, watching movies or visiting with the crew or team mates. I think all of us got plenty of sleep except when the ship was tossing too much.

 

 

 

 

3)How were you received by the scientific community of the island? and tell us how was the choice of the two camps tx, with all their difficulties.

 

The scientific community were very cordial and receptive to our ham radio implementation. We were cautious to abide by their rules and not interfere with the environmental or scientific measurements. We did have some slight interference to a magnetometer from the proximity to Mataff operating site. It was observed on 80 and 40 and we discontinued operations that caused this. This was not a problem because we had these bands covered at Antonelli site.

 

Our leader Ralph, K0IR had jointly selected the operating sites with TAAF. This was a special permission agreement for these station sites and we needed to abide by this constraint.

 

Antonelli was some distance from the base camp and required a minimum of 45 to 120 minutes of walking to reach the camp. We decided to change to 24 hour shifts at this site because of the hiking distance. It took about 10 minutes to hike between base camp and Mataff but we were not allowed to do this in the dark. So 12 hour shifts were setup for that site.

 

Both sites had some difficulty in tower and antenna erection because of the volcanic terrain and the high clump grass. The Antonrlli site was the hardest to setup because it was on the ridge of a caldera.

 

The French used large farm tractors with all wheel drive to deliver the equipment to each site. We had to hand carry the equipment to the buildings. All of the tower sections and antennas were hand carried from the drop off point. What might take an hour on flat ground took at least four hours on this terrain…very hard work and tough on our team. Lots of very tired hams!!

 

4)Tell our readers, when you were not in radio, as you lived on the island, you had the opportunity to go around hiking?

 

We did have the opportunity to do some hiking. There are a few trails that can be explored but you needed to tell the French team where you were going and take a radio. Most areas required at least three people in the group.

 

The last Friday of the dxpedition the French team organized a hike to the top of Amsterdam Island. This was a 8K hike with an elevation of 881 meters. We had four ham radio, three ship crew and five French team members trek to the top. It took us about five hours to reach the top. We had packed a picnic lunch and stopped for an hour at the top to rest and look around. The conditions were superb….light wind, clear skies and moderate temperatures. Quite comfortable…two special things happened…we saw St. Paul Island! It was 88 Km away and it is a rare day when this occurs. We also had two pair of Skua birds join us at the top…completely unafraid.

 

5)We’ve seen so many protagonist Most Wanted, but as has been the pileup from Amsterdam than Wake or Swais to name two?

 

Amsterdam was special because it is so far from any population areas…long propagation paths to JA, EU and NA. We were most fortunate to have good propagation conditions while we were there and enjoyed great pileups on most days. In comparing, FT5ZM, K9W and NH8S, all were fortunate because of good propagation and the results were excellent. The pileups at FT5ZM were the biggest by far. However, the signal strengths were stronger at K9W and NH8S because of the path distance. We were surprised at how strong stations were at FT5ZM though. The conditions were quite good.

6)I want to know from you now sincerely that the expedition is over everything went according to schedule set, or you could still improve something?

 

I am not sure how you would improve much at FT5ZM….we had a very good operating team that solved issues as they came up. The sites were hard but not sure that could have been changed. The Braveheart team was key to our success because we could not have on and off the island without their knowledge and experience. The landing area was quite challenging as there is not a natural harbor and it is in the middle of a sea colony. We actually exceeded our team expectations and the results were gratifying.  The equipment we took was superb…Elecraft K3 and KPA500 combo was excellent plus the new OM2000 amplifiers were outstanding. Antenna choices seemed to fit the gain needed to be heard so far away.  Everyone on the team commented on how well the equipment performed.

 

7)Creig, now you will take a rest, to the maximum surrounded by some of your super station contest Contest, or is it already is in some other ragalo program for the community ham world ?

No more dxpeditions are on my calendar right now as I need to take a break from travel. I know of a few Most Wanted being planned but not firm yet.

 

I was pleased to arrive home after being gone for so long that my contest station had survived the harsh winter we had this year. Record snowfall…with some ice and wind made be concerned as I was away. I am already planning a WPX entry and will be the W1AW/9 operation in later June. So I have much to organize!

 

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