The first day of a DXpedition can be challenging for the DX’ers, the DXpedition’s pilots, and the DXpedition operators. DX’ers are understandably anxious, thinking: ‘Will I be able to work this DXpedition? I think 12 meters should be open, why aren’t they operating there? I can hear them, but they’re working JA’s – why not me? The pile up is huge, I don’t think I’ll ever get through.’
Pilots in North America, Europe, Oceania, and Asia see their inboxes fill with emails expressing concern. They struggle to answer the many emails and may be saying, “Why did I volunteer for this?”
The DXpeditioners are still struggling to get everything running smoothly and they are typically dead tired. Unknowns invariably demand change and attention. They may have to QRT unexpectedly to re-route a power cable, install some ferrite cores, repair a shelter, or see where the smell of smoke is coming from.
In a day or so things settle down. DX’ers have learned the rhythm and pattern of the DXpedition and increased their confidence level. The DXpedition team has tamed their RF, gotten their generators humming, obtained some rest, and has sync’d their rhythm with that of the pile-up. The pilots breathe a sigh of relief and it’s time to ask, “Whats the best way of working this DXpedition?”
I suggest you begin by going to our website and clicking on The DXpedition tab and then the Propagation tab. You will be taken to Create DX Prediction FT5ZM. Fill in you call sign, grid square, and select an antenna configuration that most nearly matches yours. Click on Save and in a few seconds a graph will appear showing predicted band openings to your area along with expected signal levels. You now know the bands and times when you are most likely to be able to work FT5ZM.
The Amsterdam Island team will use a more detailed propagation map enabling us to see these openings in greater detail. It will be especially useful to us for seeing openings to areas that occur “underneath” other openings. For example, if you are a U.S. station in the zero call area, your 1600 UTC opening on 17 meters will be “underneath” a European opening occurring at the same time.
After you’re in the right place at the right time, following the DX Code of Conduct (there is a link to it on our home page) will give you the best chance of working FT5ZM.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- We will make every effort to be on as many open bands as we can, but at times we may have more openings than we can cover with our manpower and eight stations, especially when trying to operate on more than one mode per band.
- As part of our permit, and to be appreciative guests, we will be assisting with some of the daily chores and duties at the Amsterdam base. We will be part of the base community. At this time we do not know the times and durations of those work details, other than that they will not be overly demanding.
- Our two operating sites are over a mile apart. Night time walks between the two sites are prohibited. We may not be able to make this walk without a companion during the day.
- Routine DXpedition chores will need to be done, including generator refueling, antenna maintenance, shelter cleaning, meal preparation, moving supplies, and attending to the unexpected.
Any of the above may interrupt our operating. Sometimes these issues may only allow us to be on a band for a few hours, even when it is open. But we feel dealing with the interruptions as necessary and operating on a band, even if it is only for a short time, is far better than not operating on that band at all. We hope you agree.
Our pilots are there to help you and help us. We will be in regular communication with them. They welcome your constructive comments and observations, but may not be able to respond to all the emails they receive. They WILL NOT have log and QSO information. Please DO NOT contact them about busted calls or ‘not in log’ issues.
We are extremely grateful for the interest and support shown to us by the amateur radio community. Now it’s time for us to do the best we possibly can for you.
73 and we will see you from Amsterdam Island.
The FT5ZM Team
The MV Braveheart completed fueling today and is ready to sail at approximately 0100 UTC on December 26th. The vessel will sail around the north cape of the north island of New Zealand, sail cross the Tasman Sea, sail across the Great Australian Bight, and head up the west coast of Australia to the port of Fremantle.
The Amsterdam DXpedition team members will begin arriving in Fremantle, Australia on January 9th. They will meet with the Western Australia DX’ers who have helped the team acquire ground rods, antenna supports, various pieces of hardware, and additional medical supplies. There will be lists to double check, shopping to do, planning meetings, and very likely some good times with our VK6 friends.
The FT5ZM team will meet the Braveheart in Fremantle on January 13th or 14th. The Braveheart will refuel, take on new provisions, and load the additional supplies obtained in Perth and Fremantle. We will load our personal gear and luggage and install an Elecraft KX3 and KPA100 with a multiband vertical for our maritime mobile operation. When everything is secure, we’ll say farewell to our VK6 friends and sail for Amsterdam Island on January 15th.
We are nearing the end of a very long road leading to this point. We are enormously grateful to our corporate, organization, and individual sponsors. The cooperation of the French government, Terres australes et antarctiques francaises (TAAF), the base commander on Amsterdam Island, and many French amateurs has been outstanding. We are deeply indebted to these organizations and individuals.
You should hear from us one more time before we leave home and head for Australia. Thank you everyone for your interest and support.
Ralph – K0IR