HOME SWEET HOME

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Well after 4 days and 2830 km (1760 miles) of driving I finally returned home to Hindmarsh Island last night. I basically unpacked the car and went to bed and stayed there for 12 hours.

Feeling great to be home and today on Saturday I’m unpacking, working on the administrative side of the DXpedition and just enjoying being home.

Tomorrow on Sunday my attention will turn to VK9AR OC-216 issues.

I’ll get to people’s OC-198 related emails tonight.

73s de Craig VK5CE

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Day 3 of 4 driving done

Hi everyone. I’ve crossed the NT VK8/SA VK5 border and have arrived safely in the opal mining town of Coober Pedy. This place is very remote and it’s like being on the set of a Mad Max movie. I’m pleased to also saw that the IOTA Validation Team have already accepted the DXpedition to count as OC-198. 73s de Craig VK5CE

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OC-198 validation

 

Half-way Home

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Well another day of driving down and I’ve arrived safely from Barkly Homestead to Alice Springs…….traffic lights…..what the hell! It was quite an entertaining start to the morning, even though it was fully sunlight there were plenty of cattle on the side of the road and quite a few kangaroos. I was happy that when I came across a huge king brown snake crossing the road that I was in my car.

I’ve been in touch with Gennady UX5UO and the QSL cards are ordered and he as started printing them today. They normally take 3-4 weeks to arrive in Australia. So people should have them for the January IOTA update. I’ve sent Bob K3EST my validation information tonight aswell.

Tomorrow its the drive from Alice Springs NT to Coober Pedy SA – 73s de Craig VK5CE 

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Day 1 of 4 driving home done

Hi everyone. After 6.5 hours driving I’ve arrived in from Borroloola NT to Barkly Homestead NT. Its tough as I’m suffering from DXpedition jet lag. That’s where you’re functional and awake from 3pm to 4am, sleep 4am to 6am, awake from 6am to 11am and rest 11am to 3pm.

Anyway I’ve survived the first day of driving.

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QRT

I’ve arrived by boat back to Borroloola on the mainland today. I’m buggered. Very hot and humid conditions on the island. The tin hut operating position was typically 37C (99F), the hottest in the shack was 42.5C (109F) and the coolest it ever got was 30C (86F). I kept looking at the temperature gauge to see if it would get below 30C but it never did!

On the air I was told about the lousy solar figures every day I was there and yes the band conditions were really tough. My goal is always 1000 QSO’s per day and after 3.25 days on the air there were 2962 QSOs (911 QSOs per day). 52% Europe, 33% Asia, 7% North America and 7% Oceania.

The online log is available at https://oc198.wordpress.com/qsl-log/

Please email me if you think you worked me but you’re not in the log (vk5ce@yahoo.com.au).  Tomorrow I start the 4 day 2830 km (1760 mile) drive home.

73s de Craig VK5CE

To be QRV today – Thursday

It’s 10am local time (0030 UTC) on Thursday morning and I’ve just spoken on the phone to the boat captain. We’ll be leaving the mainland at 2:00pm local time (0430 UTC) today. I should land on North Island around 4:00pm local time (0630 UTC).

The goal will be to erect verticals on the beach for 20m and 40m to get me on the air tonight. I won’t have time for anything else today. Temperatures here are 37C to 40C with high humidity and so it’s important not to expose myself to heatstroke. I can’t put up antenna’s at night due to the crocodiles.

So I hope to be on the air today by 0900 UTC. The 40m quarter wave vertical should work fine on 15m too. North America may not hear me too well on 20m in their local morning as its a land path on the short path, so the verticals wont work that great to you. Mind you it’ll be a water path via long path later in the 2100 UTC period for 20m.

On Friday morning local time (around 0000 UTC) I’ll be putting up the Spiderbeam 15m-17m-20m tribander and the remaining verticals. So by 0500 UTC on Friday the full complement of antennas will be in action.    

Remember there’s no phone service or internet on the island and so I can’t see the DX cluster or read emails and club log will be uploaded when I’m back on the mainland. But I do have a satellite phone for safety reasons. From time to time I’ll SMS my wife who will act as a pilot and spot me on the DX cluster.

So just be patient with me today, the weather is incredibly oppressive and things take longer to do in a safe manner up here. I look forward to getting you in the log

73s de Craig VK5CE

Travel Day 4 – Wednesday October 11

Day 4 was a 5.5 hour 490 km (300 mile) drive from Barkly Homestead north along the Tablelands Highway to the very remote town of Borroloola. This was a challenging road as the “highway” was actually a single lane bitumen road of varying quality. So while the distance wasn’t too far to drive, I knew this final day would require more concentration.

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When the occasional upcoming single vehicle approaches then it’s a matter of having one side of the car on bitumen and the other on the dirt but when a 52.5m long road train approaches then its obviously a case of completely pulling over and stopping. Blind corners and crests in the road make life interesting.

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I departed early at 7am to avoid as much of the hottest part of the day as possible. Most of the kangaroos had finished their grazing but a few big red kangaroos were visible but they didn’t hop across the road. A number of dead kangaroos hit by the road trains were scattered along the highway and this presented another risk. The largest bird of prey in Australia, the Wedge Tailed Eagle, was enjoying this roadkill for breakfast and up to four would be on the road as I approached. These beautiful birds are pretty slow to move and so great care was needed to see which direction they would fly.

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This is cattle country and much of the Tablelands Highway has unfenced grazing regions. So the biggest risk on this drive was cattle running across the road.

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I’m now safe in Borroloola in the Northern Territory. It’s now around 0730 UTC (6pm local) on Wednesday October 11. In the morning I’ll speak to the captain to find out what exact time tomorrow we go to the island. So tomorrow I drive about an hour from Borroloola east to King Ash Bay (some bitumen road, some dirt road). That’s where I meet the boat and we go to North Island. I should be able to do another blog update just before I leave Borroloola to give you all the latest info. 73s de Craig VK5CE

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Head north young… sorry old man

Hi everyone

Day 3 was a 7 hour 720 km (450 mile) drive from Alice Springs in the red centre of VK8 north to Tennant Creek and then east to Barkly Homestead which is literally in the middle of nowhere. The weather has been increasing each day and the journey today was 41C. As I type this tonight at 7pm local its still above 30C.

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On such a long drive like this I think about a strategy for the operation on day 1, I think about what’s happening with VK9AR next month, I play lots of music and I think about future possible IOTA operations. Despite such entertaining subject matter, the thing is I’ve been thinking about the same subject matter everyday for weeks and weeks and so its easy to get fatigued whilst driving.

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Fortunately there was some visual entertainment because as I was heading north, the World Solar Challenge was heading south. These teams from around the world are pretty amazing, especially the drivers sitting in a tiny capsule at ground level with the monumental task of driving these solar powered spaceships from Darwin to Adelaide. Don’t worry, I slowed down from 130km per hour to around 50km per hour to take these pics! So that was very entertaining and helped to keep me awake for the journey up north.

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I also filled up on fuel at Wycliffe Wells – the UFO capital of Australia. I met a lovely green couple who just flew through the ionosphere and they were about to head back on Thursday to turn down the K index dial and dig up some sunspots.

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Late this afternoon the Barkly Homestead shone like an oasis beacon in the tropical desert. Tomorrow on Wednesday it’s the last big drive up north to Borroloola.

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73s de Craig VK5CE

The adventure has begun

Hi everyone. After two long days of driving I’m half way in my journey from home in South Australia to King Ash Bay in the Northern Territory.

Day 1 was a 10.5 hour 930 km (580 mile) drive from home to the north up to the remote opal mining town of Coober Pedy in northern South Australia. That’s the longest haul driving day of the DXpedition and so it was great to get it out of the way without incident, just a few emu’s on the road and only one was a near miss.

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Day 2 was a 6.5 hour 690 km (430 mile) drive from Coober Pedy, heading north again across the SA/NT border through to Alice Springs in the red centre. When I filled up with fuel in Kulgera NT I summoned up all of my strength to avoid having a beer at the Kulgera Pub. That place would be a hoot and a half. Mind you I would’ve had too much fun and needed to spend the night there. Stay on target !!! Stay on target !!!

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On the journey from Kulgera to Alice Springs I could see smoke in the distances. Its quite common for fires to occur in the bush either deliberately or by accident. I was lucky as the fire had just begun to reach the roadside as I passed by. The bush fire fighters were just arriving and about to set up a command station further north so that could have been a significant delay to my journey to Alice Springs.

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So I’m in Alice Spring now and I have two more days of driving to go. It’s Monday night now and I arrive in Borroloola on Wednesday afternoon. So I’ll do a blog update over the next couple of days. 73s de Craig VK5CE

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Final Press Release for OC-198 VK5CE/8 DXpedition

In a couple of weeks I’ll be leaving home on the journey north to outback Australia for the activation of North Island OC-198 (claimed by 11.1% of IOTA chasers). The boat operator was recently in Darwin where I had a great phone conversation with him to confirm the dates and that I’ll be able to bring a large array of vertical and beam antennas and spare generator on the small boat to take us to the island.

I’ve purchased a new wire kit from Spiderbeam for the DXpedition to use as a 20m-17m-15m tribander with 3 elements on each band. I tested this over the past couple of weeks and it worked well with low SWR and it was very encouraging to see the bands starting to open on the short path to Europe on 15m in our late afternoon and 20m in our late evening. Up in VK8 in October these high bands will be very good despite the current band conditions.

I’ll have no access to phones or internet and so people won’t be able to email me and I can’t spot myself on the cluster. I’ve done my final analysis of band conditions and I’ve put together a schedule of where I’ll be on the bands, this is under the PROPAGATION section of the website

73s de Craig VK5CE