Now… for my intended purpose of the 1 QSO antenna. My sights were set on Tromelin Island (FT4TA) located just off of the coast of Madagascar. They were scheduled to be on the air from Oct 30th to Nov 10th. From my grid square of EM73, the azimuth to this particular island was 74 degrees. If you look at the radiation patters such as figure 5, the forward gain presents a pretty blunt edge giving a margin of error of +/- 30 degrees!
Just to test the antenna, I found an expedition on the island of Madagascar (5R8M). I was able to break through a decent pileup and make the contact on the first try. That was enough for me to know that it was indeed working.
In further investigation of the FT4TA expedition, I came across their bandplan. And there they listed their 20M SSB frequency of 14.185!!! Ouch! That’s in the Extra portion for the US radio operators. (I only held a General class license) I was hoping that it was a mistake but, unfortunately, it was not. On Oct 30th, they started right on that spot. Throughout the expedition, they did run some pretty wide splits but none that got them above 14.225. The band openings to NA were so small, the pile ups were outrageous with many QRM’ers, including the UP police. As much as I tried on other bands when I could hear them, I just didn’t have the ability to put them in the log book!
OK! Lesson learned. One advantage that I simply overlooked was the advantage of the band privileges. I took my spare time and studied for the Extra exam. I passed my exam and was given instantaneous privileges on the Amateur Extra portions of the band. It was just too late! The expedition had already started winding down their operation and I never saw/heard them on 20 meters again!
So what did I learn, the antenna did preform well and would have probably given me the edge that I needed to make this 1 QSO! Even so, there are other things that can be done to help the small guy in the art of DX! Here is a website dedicated to just that! Really great info and well worth the read.
So what’s next for this antenna? I’m glad you asked that too! I already have the next dxpedition in my sights! Navassa Island, K1N. It is coming up in January of 2015 and will no doubt be HUGE! After all, it is the #1 most wanted DXCC entity on the list! Who knows, I may even build a 10 meter version and try it as well!
Till next time…
73 from K4NHW/AE