About the DXpedition

    After reviewing the team’s credentials and planning documents, TAAF issued a permit to land and conduct a DXpedition from Amsterdam Island for up to 18 days between the dates of January 15 and February 20 of 2014. Landing, set-up, and take down are included in those 18 days.

    BV BraveheartThe Braveheart, a well-known and experienced DXpedition vessel, will board the team in Fremantle, Australia in early January of 2014. It will be a 3800 nautical mile round trip just north of the rough “roaring 40s” of the southern hemisphere. The total time at sea will likely be 16 to 18 days in the 128-foot Braveheart.

    Tentative Schedule for FT5ZM

    The MV Braveheart will arrive in the port of Fremantle, Australia on January 12, 2014 and be available for the team to board. Fuel and supplies will be taken aboard and port documentation procedures completed. The vessel will sail for Amsterdam Island on January 15, 2014. The sailing time to Amsterdam Island will be 9 days, with an estimated arrival date of January 24.

    Landing operations will commence as soon as the sea conditions and weather allow. Once the team is ashore, they will have 18 days to set up, conduct the DXpedition, and tear down for departure.

    The return sail to Fremantle is also estimated at 9 days. The team anticipates being back in Fremantle by February 23, 2014.

    Amsterdam Island's location on Google Earth

    Amsterdam Island’s location on Google Earth

    Amsterdam Island is under the administration of TAAF, the Terres Australes et Antarctiques Francaises, which controls access to the islands in the French Antarctic Territories.

    Terres Australes et Antarctiques Francaises
    Visit the official website of TAAF

    Access is strictly controlled and permission to land on the island is subject to the use of an environmentally acceptable vessel, the ability to land in difficult sea conditions, self-sufficiency, and a sound environmental plan.

    AMSTERDAM ISLANDRead more about the island

    FT5ZM Amsterdam Island 2014 – Band Plan



    Band
    CW
    SSB
    RTTY
    160
    1.826.5
    80
    3.523
    3.790
    3.580
    40
    7.023
    7.082
    7.045
    30
    10.115
    10.142
    20
    14.023
    14.185
    14.080
    17
    18.079
    18.130
    18.099
    15
    21.023
    21.285
    21.080
    12
    24.894
    24.955
    24.912
    10
    28.023
    28.485
    28.080



    Band
    CW
    160
    1.826.5
    80
    3.523
    40
    7.023
    30
    10.103
    20
    14.023
    17
    18.079
    15
    21.023
    12
    24.894
    10
    28.023



    Band
    SSB
    80
    3.790
    40
    7.082
    20
    14.185
    17
    18.130
    15
    21.285
    12
    24.955
    10
    28.485



    Band
    RTTY
    80
    3.580
    40
    7.035
    30
    10.142
    20
    14.080
    17
    18.099
    15
    21.080
    12
    24.912
    10
    28.080




    Thanks to Stu K6TU and his outstanding job, feel free to use his propagation forecast tools to predict conditions towards FT5ZM based on your location and your equipment.

    K6TU Propagation Forecast
    Click the image to use the Propagation Forecast Tools by Stu, K6TU


    FT5ZM 160 Meter Station Configuration:

    FT5ZM 160 Configuration
    Click the image to enlarge

    Between sunset and sunrise, station number 4 at the Antonelli site will be dedicated 160 meters. Multiple receive antennas will provide directional reception and allow diversity receive. The transmit antenna will be a 60 ft. vertical with 4 loading wire sloping downward from the 50 ft. level.

    Between sunrise and sunset, this station will be fully functional on all other bands. We will have a total of 8 stations, 4 at the Mataf site and 4 at the Antonelli site. The two sites are 5800 feet apart.

    FT5ZM Low Band Configuration:

    FT5ZM Low Band Configuration
    Click the image to enlarge

    The 80, 40, and 30 meter bands will be covered from both sites, Antonelli and Mataf. Simultaneous CW/Digital and SSB operation will be possible on 80 and 40 meters. Likewise, two stations could be on 30 meters if it is practical. The 80 meter antennas will be 60 ft. verticals; the 40 and 30 meter antennas will be full-sized ¼ wave verticals. All our vertical antennas will have 36 quarter wave radials.

    FT5ZM High Band Configuration:

    FT5ZM High Band Configuration
    Click the image to enlarge

    There will be a 3-element, no compromise monoband beam for 10, 12, 15, 17, and 20 meters at EACH site, Mataf and Antonelli. This should enable simultaneous SSB and CW/Digital operation on open bands. The antennas will be at the 30 ft. level and manually rotated.

     

    Overview of the logging solution for the FT5ZM DXPedition
    Gregg Marco W6IZT


    n1mmlogo 245x75For the most part DXPeditions have been using contest logging software for the logging application, either N1MM or WinTest. These applications are very well suited for use in contests and both offer an acceptable solution for logging on DXpeditions. With the advent of online applications such as ClubLog, the opportunity now exists to enhance the experience of the DXers while at the same time improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the DXPedition. As a result we are quickly moving forward to where the DX community is looking for rapid confirmation of contacts necessitating the need for the DXPedition to efficiently collect, aggregate, and upload logs.

    Work on this project began shortly after returning from the HK0NA DXpedition in 2012. Requirements were documented and discussions were kicked off with a small group, all of whom had an interest in developing a solution. The goals of the first phase of this project are as follows:

    1. To leverage a logging application that most operators were familiar with. We chose N1MM as the user interface is easy to use and intuitive.
    2. To develop an automated solution that would periodically export an incremental log without interruption to station operation.
    3. To minimize internet connection bandwidth, the incremental logs need to contain only the information needed by ClubLog.
    4. The ability to aggregate the incremental logs for periodic uploading over any available  internet connection
    5. The ability to seamlessly create redundant copies of the logs for archival on separate, network attached storage devices.


    Before diving into the details of the logging solution an understanding of the network is in order. The FT5ZM DXpedition will operate from 2 separate locations on Amsterdam Island. These locations are approximately 1.6 miles apart. Travel between sites will be limited.

    Each location has a dedicated 802.11g wireless network. There will be 4 stations in operation from each site. Both sites will also have a dedicated network attached storage device (NAS) and an Uninterruptable Power System (UPS) for the network devices.

    The sites will be connected by a high bandwidth point to point microwave link.

    Spares will be on hand for every active network device. Backup configuration files have been created for each device to facilitate rapid recovery from a failure of any network element.


    The first goal of this project was to develop a methodology for exporting incremental logs from each station. The export needed to be ADIF compliant. Larry, K8UT, a member of the N1MM development team created an application, ADItoClubLog that runs in the background on each PC and exports an incremental log from N1MM to the local NAS. Each NAS has a dedicated directory for every PC. After some testing is was recommended that we export the incremental log file on each PC every 60 minutes. Larry’s application also tracks the last successful export, a key capability that helps to ensure the integrity of the logs that we upload.

    These logs are ADIF compliant with the exception that there is no ADIF header present and the export only contains the information field required by ClubLog. More on this later. The filename of the incremental export includes the Station Number, Date and Time of the export, as well as the Number of QSO’s exported.

    The performance of ADItoClubLog is very impressive. On our dual core PCs it takes a few hundred msec to export a file with 500 QSOs.

    Incremental Log Replication.

    After each hourly export, the incremental log files are mirrored between the NAS. This creates a redundant copy of each incremental log.


    With 8 stations on the air there will be up to 192 incremental logs created in each 24 hour period. The aggregation application, ADIFAggregator, is developed by my son-in-law, Michael Wymer. ADIFAggregator merges the incremental logs into a single daily log. Redundant copies of the Daily Log are also created in this process. Aggregating the logs locally on each NAS ensures that we will have a complete Daily Log from each site, even if there is a failure in the point to point microwave link.

    After the incremental logs are aggregated and the Daily Log is created, the incremental logs are moved to an archive directory. The process now repeats for the next 24 hour period.

    The time required to create a daily log with 100k Qs is approximately 30 seconds.

    The Daily Log

    The Daily Log is zipped and emailed for upload to ClubLog. As part of this process a complete log to date for the expedition will be created, off island, providing another level of redundancy. Eliminating the ADIF header from the incremental log simplifies the merging of the files. By uploading only the ADIF fields required by ClubLog the internet bandwidth required to upload the logs in reduced by 50%


    logging-overview

    Step 1 At the top of each hour an incremental .adi file is pushed to the NAS. This function is performed by the ADItoClubLog app from K8UT loaded on each station PC.

    Step 2 Once per day at the bottom of an hour the Log Aggregation app will merge all of the incremental logs into the daily log.

    Step 3 After merging, the incremental logs are moved to the Archive folder

    Steps 2 and 3 are performed by the ADIFAggregation app that is running on any PC as a scheduled task under windows.

    Step 4 The daily log is copied from the NAS to any PC. This file is zipped and uploaded to ClubLob

    This file is then imported into  N1MM on any PC for analytics.


    Testing of the two applications that make up this solution was not complicated and standalone testing of ADIFtoClubLog and ADIFAggregator demonstrated that the applications were working as planned. Special test logs were created to test the solution end to end. Ten unique logs were created, each with 10,000 QSOs logged over a 24 hour period. The only common attribute of the logs was that they all had an even QSO distribution and the date/time stamps of the QSOs were identical. This method was adopted so that a breakdown at any point in the end to end solution could be easily isolated.

    As hoped the end to end test ran flawlessly and 100,000 Qs were uploaded to a test log on ClubLog. The process was repeated several times without a problem.

    Next steps

    Plans are to continue to evolve this solution. Areas that we plan to improve are to further automate some of the back-end processes to make log uploads as close to real time as possible.

    Another area of focus is to develop a real time set of analytics for use by the DXPedition. Details to follow!


    I’d like to thank the following individuals for your efforts and support.

    Larry, K8UT and the N1MM dev team, for providing THE key component of this solution and for your expertise in defining the optimal solution to the challenge.

    Michael Wymer, for quickly developing ADIFAggregator.

    Dean N7XG, my friend, and QSL manager, for your insight, support and feedback.

    Ralph K0IR for inviting me to join the team. Unfortunately, I cannot make the trip. Thanks for enabling me to continue my participation on this great team.

    Bob K4UEE for your encouragement over the past 2 years to move forward with this project.

    Craig K9CT, and Neil VA7DX. Thanks in advance for stepping up to support this application on island. (I am only a phone call away.)

    73, and CU in the pile-ups.

    Gregg Marco W6IZT



    The budget for this entire project is about $450,000. Vessel charter, Operator travel costs, Equipment. Logistics and Housing/Per diem imposed by TAAF make up the costs. The largest cost by far, it the cost of chartering the M/V Braveheart for 40 days and re-positioning the vessel to/from New Zealand.

    ft5zm-budget-1
    Click the image to enlarge

     

    ft5zm-budget-2
    Click the image to enlarge

    The trip requires a large financial commitment from each team member. The minimum team member contribution is $10,000. Travel to and from Fremantle, Australia will cost each team member another $3,000- $3,500. In addition there are six weeks away from home and family, a very long boat ride, and the physical and financial risks inherent to a DXpedition of this magnitude. I believe you will agree that the DXpedition team members are doing their part to make this successful. We have heartened by an extremely generous grant from INDEXA. Within hours of receiving the group’s request for funds, INDEXA offered their support. Then, NCDXF followed-up with one of the largest grants they’ve awarded. Dozens of clubs and hundreds of individual DXers worldwide have made contributions up-front when they are most needed. We are deeply indebted to them and appreciate their confidence. However, we are still short , if you have already made a contribution…THANKS, if not please consider doing so.

    DXpedition leader Ralph Fedor, KØIR, states:

    “We simply cannot do this without help from the DX community. We need to raise about a quarter of a million dollars overall. And, it has to be international financial support – we need our DX friends from Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania to help us on this one. This is truly an International effort.”

    GET INVOLVED!Support this international, major project and donate!

     
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    Latest news:

    FT5ZM – QRT

    With almost 165,000 QSOs, FT5ZM is now QRT. They went QRT a little earlier th

    February 12, 2014 read more

    Antonelli camp operations finishing soon

    UPDATE – As the team reached 160,000 QSOs, Ralph, K0IR reported to Chief Pilot,

    February 10, 2014 read more

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