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20m to VK/ZL to EU open daily to QRP - give 20m a go! (Part 3)

Hello to everyone.
On Sunday 15th of May I woke up at 5 am local to climb mt. Barro I/LO-291 in Northern Italy near the Como lake.

I was looking for some VK/ZL Dx (inspired and tempted from my good friends IW2OBX and IW2OGY) and I was testing my new rig, a Xiegu X6100. I started calling CQ SOTA at 7 am local (0500 UTC) and I managed to make a few European contact till at about 0550 UTC when I had a CW contact with a ZL station. About half an hour later had a contact with a VK station, too. I was really happy and excited as they were my first ZL and VK contacts in SOTA, my first contacts via long path, and they were an optimal test for my new rig effectiveness. The antenna was a homemade GP antenna inspired from the lightweight SOTA antennas made by IK2LEY, but modified. A 4 meters long fishing pole. 2 meters insulated wire from the top, then a coil with taps for tuning and other 2 meters of wire to the bottom. N°5 two meters radials and n°3 5 meters radials, connected to the radio with a banana/bnc connector, then a choke made with a ft140-43 toroid wound by ten turns of rg174 coax cable.

Hope to have more contacts with ZL and VK and maybe a S2S one, the sweetest reward.
73 and thank you all for your truly inspiring reports and activations.
IU2IJW Martino

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Hi Armin,

That’s disappointing. If it helps, I plan to be active on Friday 20/5 and Sunday 22/5 this week, from 0500 or earlier each day, on 20m/17/15. Saturday is a possibility too. Will alert with as much notice as possible.

73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2DA

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I realize that the SOTA activities during the week are not so high… that is not different in Europe.

Nevertheless, I would have thought that there are more chasers in VK. Maybe there are (there are some in the database) … but maybe they see the spot and think: A station from EU - that will be nothing anyway and don’t even listen.

I have listened to many QSOs while trying to reach the VK stations. I have the impression that very high tx powers are used. Of the European stations I have listened to that were heard in VK, rarely did anyone have only 100 watts… and many had beams. I’m pretty weak there with 35 watts and endfed (although on the mountain). - Since one is then but rather dependent on chasers.

I also have the impression that CW is not so common in VK. Is that true?

73 Armin

yes, CW is used by a minority, I don’t know what fraction of all operators in VK use CW. My guess is that it is less than 20%.

There has been frequent mentions on both VK and ZL email groups in the last month of dx contacts available on 20m during our afternoons. Any current sota operator would know about it. So there is no simple reason why your activation did not make contacts into VK/ZL.

Your comment about power levels used by EU dxers may also point to why some are successful while others struggle to make contacts. The local noise issue affects all home operators unless they live without nearby neighbours.
Let’s hope that enhanced propagation allows us to make more contacts for a while yet.

73 Andrew VK1DA/2DA

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Echoing what Andrew says for ZL. The email groups have had both general mentions of band conditions and of specific operators spotted and seeking ZL contacts, so no lack of publicity.

Some stats from sotadata for background:
ZL3 has 6 active activators (>10 activations in 2022), and 6 more occasional ones (>2 activations in 2022)
ZL1 has 5 with >10 activcations and 6 more with >2 activations

Chasers looks a little better:
ZL3 has 15 chasers who have worked >10 activators this year, and 3 more who have worked >2
ZL1 has 15 chasers who have worked >10 activators and 11 more who have worked >2

All of which lets you know you’re looking at a pretty small pool of chasers to try to contact in ZL. Add onto which the fact that over 50% are urban, and so would be expected to suffer from some sort of QRM at their home QTH (e.g. for myself 40m is unusable much of the time). And then there will be those for whom SOTA is just a social activity amongst their own circle of regulars, for whom chasing or seeking DX contacts is not the reason they’re out there.

From what I’ve seen, 5 x ZL stations have attempted at least one activation to chase EU stations during this opening - there may have been more. So that would suggest the interest level in DX is around 50% - not too bad.

So don’t give up - but be aware it’s a pretty small pool here you’re hoping to catch at their radio and in a location capable of receiving you.

==

Re power - I’m not aware of any ZL portable SOTA stations using more than 20w during this opening (and there have been several activations with 5w) - and those that have activated on 20m during the opening have generally been very successful at those power levels.

Matt - ZL4NVW

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Hi Martino,

Well your chances of working East Coast Australia are better from 0530 UTC and before 0800 UTC. It’s not just the LP opening on 20 m, it’s about the locals being about

We are 10 hours ahead of UTC. .

Although there may be short path propagation around 2100 UTC it’s just too early for me. I like to have breakfast, drink my coffee and then go to the shack. In the past I have been about at 1900 UTC for meteor scatter contacts. That’s 5 AM here. I’m no longer motivated enough for such a time. Sorry

It doesn’t matter if you are CW only. More than half of the chasers here operate CW as well as SSB.

As the sunspot cycle progresses the propagation opportunities will increase
.
Good luck.

73
Ron
VK3AFW.

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From recent activations I can say that conditions on the long path from eastern Australia into Europe are still holding up well, between 0500 and 0700 at least.

On 22/5 I activated at VK2/IL-001, with the intention of working Phil G4OBK to give him another complete, I called him at the time arranged, he answered immediately, contact in the log a minute later. I then handed the rig over to Wade VK1MIC who proceeded to extract 10 or 15 European contacts on SSB, including a contact with Phil G4OBK on ssb. Then Ignacio EA2BD called and added a contact. We were using an IC706 at 50w running from a 7.5 AH LIFEPO4 battery. It was a 50m walk from the car to our operating position. I’ll place photos on my blog in due course.

Yesterday 25/5 I activated a couple of summits and the second was activated from about 0530. After a session on 40m I moved to 20m cw and self spotted. Again a good run of 15-20 European contacts, including G4OBK. I was back on the KX3 for that activation, set for 15w output.

The (reasonably) good conditions continue.

Thanks to all for the contacts. It’s still a source of enjoyment and satisfaction to make contacts with the other side of the earth using such a simple station.

73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2DA

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Thanks to @VK1DA for taking me to the VK2/IL summits recently - worked Finland, Spain, GB, Greece on SSB. And special thanks to @EA2BD for the contact.

W

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Always welcome, Wade. We had a very good trip, some unexpected complications and were both pleased by how well the setup worked on 20m ssb. Thanks for the company. Must do it again soon.

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Thanks Wade and Andrew for the qso, it is great to wake up (in our sunrise) and get a couple of VK’s long path just before leaving home to work with a big smile on my face!

As Andrew says, conditions have stayed stable since a couple of months, if I recall.
And yet to get higher solar flux in the coming years…
73 de Ignacio

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Excellent to see the quite extensive report in July’s Radcom (p65) of Fraser MM0EFI’s activation of Craiglich, GM/ES-068 on 22nd April (Post No. 80 in part 1 of this thread) :slight_smile:

SOTA seems to get three or four other mentions in that issue and we seem to be regulars in Practical Wireless these days too. All good stuff for raising awareness of what we do!

73 Paul G4MD

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I haven’t received my copy yet because our mail is still delivered by donkey over the treacherous Grampian mountains, or so it feels.

I wrote into the RadCom HF column because not many people do and I was tired of seeing the same stuff most months. So, if anyone else wants to fly the flag for SOTA and drop them a few paragraphs, I’m sure they’d publish it, especially if it is about something less ordinary.

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