Monday, January 9, 2023

The bumpy road working Crozet Islands

 For those that don't know were the Crozet Islands are located, it is a group of 6 sub antarctic islands roughly located between Madagascar and the Antarctic. Is is a nature reserve and of course there are no residentials. The chance to work a HAMradio operator from there is almost impossible till some researcher or tourist with license is stationed on the island. This only happens once in several decades. Currently this DXCC (HAMradio approved country) is nr. 2 on the most wanted list. At this moment Thierry F6CUK, an experienced HAMradio operator, is on the Island Possession for 3 months as FT8WW. Working him as small station is now starting to be possible as most of the "big guns" have been working him the last couple of weeks.

One of my neighbourstations PA4O reported about 2 weeks ago that he worked FT8WW. But unfortunately he didn't show up in the log. Seems to be someone wanted to be funny and pretended to be FT8WW, something that's called pirating and is easy to do in digimode. Pirating seems to be very common these days, although I can't imagine the fun of it?

Well, I started to try contacting FT8WW last week. Actually every day of the week I tried and called with no luck, too many were calling Thierry. Yes, even with a digimode like FT8 this is very, very hard. Several layers of callers on just a slice of about 2800Hz. You need to be very lucky to make the contact. And although Thierry writes he will be on the island for 3 months, the HF license is only valid 3 weeks till the 26th of January. Besides that the weather on the island is very rough and he already lost a few antennas due to very high winds. So it is important to get at least one QSO in the log to confirm this very important new one.

So, I saw FT8WW here last evening, actually too late. Signals were barely readable, sometimes not. In the mean time I had a chat via messenger with PB7Z Bernard who was watching the frequency as well. Unfortenutaly it was even worse at his side, probabely because he was using a vertical which picks up too much noise. I decided to call below Thierry's frequency.

Suddenly he came back to me. But no RR73 was received. However, this station works with 2 streams out of MSHV and it could be that my RR73 was on the stream I didn't see. Not shure about this I decided I should try again. The signal lifted a bit and PB7Z decided to try a few calls as well. Bernard has a bit more power as me but receive is worse unfortunately. But he was lucky somehow, FT8WW came back to him.

But Bernard didn't see him anymore. So I quickly decided to be his remote RX station and directed him via the chat to TX RR73. Because he didn't see it I send him the screenshot from what I received. A moment later the QSO was made:

If you think why you don't see PB7Z's signal, I was calling at that timeslot and unable to see him. Anyway, this was one of the most unusual ways to make a QSO with a remote RX via messenger chat. I doubt anyone has done this before. And of course the die hard DXers will say this is not valid because Bernard could not see FT8WW. But these days there are more DXers that make use of remote webSDRs to receive the DX, they don't tell because they are afraid of the discussion that could follow. Essentially what we did is just the same as remote RX via another receiving station like a webSDR.

Back to my own efforts. I did manage to get a reply second time. But look at the small "*" sign at the end of the decode. They are probabely false decodes.

And again no RR73. I decided to wait a little till signals would improve. At that moment I struggled to see any signal at all...I actually told Bernard I would try another time although he told me I was probabely in the log, I didn't believe him.

I got a reply for the third time and again no RR73. Also again probabely a false decode (that's what the "*" at the end of the decode tells us). Although I was unable to see the second stream again. Time to go for a sleep and see if I'm in the log next day. I signed off with Bernard on the chat.

Today I checked FT8WW's online log

To find out that I am in the log, hurray! One of these contacts made it. Probabely the first one since that was a real decode for shure. To be shure I will put all 3 QSOs in the log.

Yes, it was a bumpy road for shure. But finally worked this very rare DX (at least right now) and my first All Time New One in 2023.


VE9KK said...

Good morning Bas, very nice to see the effort on your part and it was rewarded with a contact in the log! As for the pirate station and there has been a few that I have been reading about my thought could be someone who is very ticked off with FT8 and the fact that he is operating a lot of FT8. So their solution is to pirate the call and frustrate ops. It's at this point were I feel ops just loose perspective that is is a hobby! Emotion and ill will has taken over and well it's very sad when this happens.
Have a great week Bas and again great work on getting the contact.

Anonymous said...

Gefeliciteerd Bas. Ik heb 1 cw op 20 en 1 ft8 op 30 in het log. Zelfs voor mij met de PA aan valt het niet mee.

Jan, OZ9QV said...

Congratulations, Bas, and good for the rest of the year.
You did solid work.

73, Jan, OZ9QV

PE4BAS, Bas said...

@Mike thanks for the comment. Hamradio Pirates are a bad thing right now. I know it is from all times. You wrote what you think how someone could do this. I would like to hear this from those that are doing this, I would really like to know what the fun of this kind of behaviour is. Is it really frustration, or do they think it's funny? I think we will never know...luckely I worked the real FT8WW.

@anonymous bedankt voor je reactie. Het zou mooi zijn als je volgende keer ook even er onder zet wie je bent...kan ik namelijk niet zien zo.

@Jan Tnx for the comment, it took me a week. But it finally pays.

73, Bas

aartw said...

If you can see only one stream you are using a wrong program
With jtdx I see all streams (TN8K yesterday had 5 streams on 12m I could follow them all)

I agree FT8 is a tombola no skills required just click on the call and read a paper 😞

Aart PA3C

PE4BAS, Bas said...

Hallo Aart, bedankt voor je reactie. JTDX kan alle streams wel zien. Maar FT8WW was erg zwak op dat moment. Ik heb op 30m net een "ruisbult" die eindigde net tussen de streams in. Dus ik kon 1 stream de helft van de tijd niet zien. De andere was vaak wel aanwezig. TN8K ook een paar keer gewerkt, die zie ik hier prima, alle 5 streams. Wat betreft geen skils, het enige wat een beetje skil vereist is het vinden van een goede plek in de waterval om te roepen en regelmatig te checken of er niet toevallig een ander station dubbel zit met jou. Als men met 1500W FT8 werkt is dat overigens niet nodig, dan mag je overal in de waterval proberen. Dan is het signaal sterk genoeg om over alle andere signalen heen te blazen. Op SSB en CW heb je een heel andere techniek nodig....maar dat hoef ik jou niet te vertellen :-) Good DX. 73, Bas