3Y0PI Peter I Island 1994 DXpedition by KK6EK
Stories about the 3Y0PI DXpedition
DF3CB, Ben: Diary of the 3Y0PI DXpedition
Wed., Feb. 2. The first packet cluster spots appear! Not bad... It seems they have successfully landed. I decide not to be too hectic and to keep calm as long as I can.
Thur., Feb. 3. l have to work rather long today. On 1200Z I drive home which is about 20 minutes away from my work. I watch the bands for 90 minutes unsuccessfully and go back to work. When I come home in the evening I see dozens of spots in the Cluster. Conditions ain't bad today. Spots on all bands. Now I get nervous! There are already some who have worked them on 5 or 6 bands. How about 10 m... I still need only 14 countries on 10 m. How about propagation there? The first time again for a long time I get some real stomach ache! I am not yet in the 3Y log... As experience showed with the VP8SSI DXpedition, you should work them as fast as possible. You never know...
Fri., Feb. 4. I can't stand it anymore. I get up at 0300Z in the morning, which is rather hard for me-usually I get up at 9 in the morning and go to work at 10. They are on 40/CW and 20/SSB. Real loud! They are working US only on both bands. Stay quiet DF3CB and wait... I watch both frequencies with the two FT-1000 receivers. At 0407Z my first chance is coming on 20/SSB. He is calling Europe! The first one he takes is an Italian. But... the second one... yes it's me! I can't believe it. My very last DXCC country on Phone! Within 15 minutes my stomach ache disappears. Now the wall is broken. I go and get a coffee, smoke a cigarette, and lean back in my chair. They are really loud on 40/CW. US only... Then he calls Europe. N4GCK operator. Tremendous pileup and QRM. No chance. After 7 minutes the op returns back to working US after complaining about the bad European behavior. It's hard to agree to that decision but I can be happy (for today). My last country on Phone after 18 years (I worked 3Y1EE only on 20/CW the last time. Clipperton was my last country on Mixed two years ago exactly, on my 30th birthday).
I go to work rather early today and apply to get two days off from work (Monday and Tuesday). No problem. I come back home in the evening and check the bands. Pretty lot of spots during the day.
In the late evening I check 17 m. The band actually is completely dead, except... I can't believe it. There they are on CW. Not too fast but good signal. I call twice and have them. QSO #2. My 3 element WARC beam really pays off.
Later I get a phone call from DF2RG. He has a very good 17m antenna too, but he can't hear them. He lives just 100 km further north! The propagation must be extremely selective. I stay on that frequency to listen and I can hear him for another hour with signals coming up to 57. We are on the lucky side in the Munich area. The guys further north still can't hear them.
Sat., Feb. 5. Today I got up early again for 40 or 30 m. No signal on 30. No chance on 40. Well, I have now four complete days to listen to the bands. Let's see what comes. I have canceled all appointments and rendezvous. I stay in my shack all day long, except to fill my stomach with some food. Fantastic propagation on 12 m today. YV6AZC is S9 for 4 hours on 12 m. but where is 3Y? Did the VP8SSI phenomenon come true again? Finally, the first spot is on 2033Z for 20/SSB. ON4UN later says they had a severe snowstorm and had to shut off their generators. That's the reason. That daily information net is a real good institution.
Sun., Feb. 6. Conditions dropped down. My indicator are signals on 12 m. Only one OD5 on that band. Another day lost. I slowly get a little more pessimistic. In the evening 3Y appears on 20/CW real loud. S9 plus. I don't need them on that band/mode but I call just to have at least one QSO on that weekend. Just two single calls on the right frequency and I'm through! QSO #3. The second receiver in the FT-1000 is of big help. I am looking also for FT5XJ who would be my very last country on 20 meters but nothing.
Mon., Feb. 7. Today is a day off from work. I get up very early again. Real nice signals on 40 and 80 m. But still no chance for me. I am not very interested in 80 m DX since most activity is on SSB only and I hate to support that mafia and listmakers and sell my soul and pride. I have worked some 190 countries on 80/CW and all 40 zones, but I would not call on Phone there.
Conditions look a little better today! At 1300Z I hear them on 15/SSB. I tune my amplifier and first start listening. Still rather weak and most people still haven't realized that they are there. After a couple of minutes the signals get stronger and after 15 minutes I have my QSO #4 and a new band.
It's astonishing how many hams have no job when you have a look to the Cluster's user list. Some nodes are completely full. My friend Thomas, DL4MCF, took 5 days vacation just for 3Y and is sitting at DK0EE club station since Friday... They have a room at the basement and there is no sunshine or daylight visible. They never know whether World War III has already started or not down there. I couldn't stand it to sit in that dark room for 20 hours a day for 9 days just to listen for 3Y.
Well, the 15 m QSO is in the log. The DK0EE crew comes through after me with all the operators there. Now let's check 12 and 10 m. At 1535z I can hear them on 12/SSB. It must be XE1L as the operator. They are still rather weak but I try. I have my QSO #5 at 1549z. This is my lucky day after that weekend. It was good to take my day off today. I keep checking 10 m CW and SSB. They are on 10/SSB but I can hear nothing. I hear some North Germans, ON, PA working him. For some seconds the signal was readable and I called too. Maybe he heard me. At the same time the 12 m signal gets up to S9 plus 10 dB!!! I would have needed just one little call on 12 this time... Why can't I hear them on 10 m at the same time? Is there such a difference between 10 and 12m propagation? It might help to use CW instead of SSB under these circumstances. Might there be a difference concerning propagation of that 500 kHz frequency shift between 28.000 and 28.500, too?
Later on I heard them on 17/SSB. Good Signal. I start calling. The phone rings. It's my neighbor. He complains about TV! Bullshit! It's a very peaceful and cooperative neighbor. He complains only once a year about TV because they don't watch TV too often but they must today. Why? Well I quit calling (just one millimeter away from a possible QSO). I switch to 20/RTTY. They must be there!!! I hear all the "famous" RTTY DX'ers calling. I watch the pileup listening for people responding and find the 3Y0PI signal on 14084. He is medium loud but I can't decode it! What the hell is happening? I start thinking about selling that bullshit KAM unit. It's not the best one for RTTY. I know that. But why today? To give the clue I must have been that nervous that I didn't realize the 3Y is transmitting reverse and listening in normal shift. Till I found that out and till I found a good calling frequency the signal dropped and shortly afterward he disappeared completely. Well, let's check again tomorrow.
I go to bed this night rather early after a successful day out of my sight. I was already sleeping when DL1SDN called me on the phone: "... they are on 30 m CW! It's only two meters distance from my bed to my Station so I was there pretty fast! Wow, what a signal! S9 plus. I set my transmitting signal right upon a very loud commercial RTTY signal where no one else is calling. This paid off. It takes just 4 minutes and I have QSO #6. Puuuhh. It turns out that the operator is HB9AHL. He was not fast, but he had a good ear and finished the QSO only after having the call complete. And - that's a good habit - he confirmed each call again, when he had copied it only partial the first time. Well, one more enjoyable cigarette and I go to bed again.
Tues., Feb. 6. I got up early again to listen for 40 and 80m 3Y signals. No chance for me again... This is my second day off from work. On 1200Z DL1MFL comes with his girlfriend. He still has no QSO at all and wants to work them from my station. Propagation dropped down completely! No chance, not even on 20 or 15. They are hardly readable on 15 for only a couple of minutes. DL1MFL is a very calm human being but you could see he got really nervous and upset. The day before was such a good day.
Wed., Feb. 9. I have to go to work again today after getting up early again and after an unsuccessful calling session on 40 m. I have been sleeping only for 3 or 4 hours each night since one week and my co-workers make jokes about me looking very pale and unhealthy. My eye rings have gathered quite an impressive size...
In the evening I tune to 20/RTTY like every evening now meanwhile. Suddenly the band opens slowly to South America. I hear CX, LU, PY on RTTY quite well and VP8, LU, CP on Pactor. And there they are! Rather weak but readable. I get a little angry because the op is having a 15 minute RTTY QSO with a ZP6 chatting. And the propagation is just ready to drop down again... I have everything ready and wait politely for the end of the QSO. After the QSO DJ2BW is calling with his wife's call DL2DK and he has a QSO. I call again. He must hear me! 3Y0PI disappears! Bullshit... This might have been the last chance.
Like every evening I listen to the ON4UN net. That is
extremely helpful and informative. He is doing a big deal, too, to that
whole enterprise! He has a rather strange kind of humor which is not accessible
to everybody's humor, but you get used to that by the time I guess. After
the net he answered questions and complaints. I can't believe how many dull,
dumb, and brainless people there are who call themselves radio operators.
This must have been an extremely exhausting Job for John to stand these
people and now I understand why you need such a kind of a little strange
humor to stand these people and stay friendly.
No QSO today. Poor conditions.
Thur., Feb. 10. l get up early again. The missing 40 m QSO makes me feel very nervous meanwhile. It's supposed to be SSB-night actually. But they appear on 40/CW anyway. What a signal! Around 59 level. This must be my chance! It's HB9AHL operating again in a fantastic manner. I call for 15 minutes and QSO #7 and a new band is in the log. I am running only an inverted Vee W3DZZ on 40/80. If you would see that antenna and how it is mounted you would never assume it works. But it does in the right moments. 3Y was my country #298 on 40 m... They are very strong on 80/SSB but I refuse to call with all these simple-minded south European callers. They must have been once taught to call only with two letters of their call.
When I come home from work (I couldn't concentrate on my job the whole week anyway), 3Y is spotted on 15/CW. Fast operator. I look for a good transmitting frequency again. I call only twice and I have QSO #8. There are always good opportunities on all DXpeditions where you can work them fairly easily and this was the right moment. There must be at least 50 stations calling from south Germany and they are all coming through. There weren't many north Europeans in the pileup. Every latitude of our globe has advantages and disadvantages concerning propagation, but that seems to be part of that game called DXing.
But there still is a big group of people around who have no QSO so far at all as far as I found out from talks and phone calls I got. My missing 10 m QSO still makes me feel very unhappy. The poor conditions tell me that there will be no more opportunity...
Fri., Feb. 11. Another day with poor conditions. The DK0EE crew has made 80 m QSO's but they still need 30,17,10 m and RTTY. No more hope for 10 m. 17 m ain't bad, but no signals. I get the confidence that my 30 m QSO was very lucky. They have shown up on 30 m only very occasionally.
Sat., Feb. 12. Another weekend, another chance for 10 m or RTTY? No! A female friend of mine comes to visit me in the evening and I found out it's hard to explain this at all to other people. There are moments where you ask yourself why are you sitting here in front of that radio and your youth and beauty slowly goes by? Well, the friend stays overnight. We use Sunday to sleep till noon. I hadn't found much sleep in the past nights.
Sun., Feb. 13. Quiet Sunday. No signals readable from 3Y. But... I actually can be very happy with 8 QSO's! It's evening. And now comes the clue: I feel a little bored and have a look at my antenna tower. The antennas point to the North instead of to Peter l! What was wrong? I Start to get a little nervous about this question. I have a 4 ele Cushcraft for 10/15/20 and a 3 ele Cushcraft for 12/17/30 on that tower. Two months ago when we had a severe storm the rotator grips loosened a little and the support mast had turned 100 degrees counterclockwise. Therefore it was very uncomfortably to read the right beam heading from the rotator Controller. Well, I could live with that till it gets warmer and I can tighten the grips again. In another severe storm a month ago the mast turned another 80 degrees counterclockwise. But this was good, because I had to subtract 180 degrees from the rotator control. On February l, I had turned the antennas to the Peter l direction and haven't moved them since that day! And now it's pointing to the north... The question came in my mind whether I am meanwhile that dull that I can't figure out anymore where the front and where the back of a beam is (This is a rhetorical question and I would appreciate this question left unanswered). The next obvious questions of course were: Did I have all those 3Y QSO's with the backside of my yagis? Could I have made a 10 m QSO? Is this a disadvantage of my antennas that I can work the with the backside?
I still have no answers to these questions and actually don't want to have any to these.
Mon., Feb. 14. Another day at work. I come home rather early. No propagation (The yagis are heading in the right direction now...). Only one packet spot the whole day.
Tue., Feb 15. Today is the last day of the Carnival and we get off from work at 1300. I set one receiver to 10 m CW and the other one to 10 m SSB. I write some correspondence. Nothing again. The yagis are heading to the right direction. Today is supposed to be the last day of operation. Well, the guys down there aren't happy either about that poor propagation and I guess they must be very frustrated. But John told last night they have calm temperatures of up to +11 degrees. Lucky guys! We had -20 degrees here last night and it was hard to keep my room warm.
Wed., Feb. 16. Everything seems to be over. They are waiting for the ship. Time to have a resume. I am happy. I can't complain at all. It is very hard to see how exhausting and difficult it must be down there. You sit in your warm room and you may not complain. You are not down there. If you complain go down there yourself and make it better. The only thing one can complain about is the propagation. This makes it into a gambling game. And... you can work on your operating practice and antennas.
Most people haven't got a 30 and 17 m QSO. Many have no QSO at all. I have spent a lot of time on the radio and my conclusion is that, if you really wanted to work them, you could! A good 10 m or RTTY QSO would have been fine, but I still have another aim for the probable, next DXpedition to 3Y.
I am using what I call an upper middle class station (concerning antennas). In total I spent only 30 or 35 minutes calling in the pileups. I remember DXpeditions where I called for two hours for one QSO. In my opinion it is most important to recognize the DX operators listening pattern and then to put two or three well-placed calls on the right frequency. And the other thing I learned again is to work them as fast as possible, I mean during the very first days of the operation. The propagation was good in the first week but no one could know how it would develop in the second week.
Thank you very much for a great successful DXpedition!