Expedition Reports etc.

Saint Barthélemy

 

DX expedition Saint Barthélemy FJ/OS1T 14-22 May 2011

FJ/OS1TShort after I came home from the 9Q50ON expedition, I was thinking of my own one-man dx-expedition to a DXCC country in the top 100. After a few weeks  thinking, searching, and planning, I decided to go to FJ (Saint Barthélemy).

I had many reasons to choose Saint Barthélemy. The Last expedition in FJ was done by Lothar and Babs, but  at that time conditions were not so good on the higher bands 6/10/12/15 meter band for them. There was one other future expedition planned before I could go, by Anna, OH2YL, but she planned a “CW only” dxpedition. So I should go for RTTY and SSB operation only! An other reason to choose Saint Barthélemy is that it was number 5 DXCC wanted in Japan! and RTTY was also very high wanted in the rankings.  Also, many operators over the whole World needed FJ in SSB, RTTY, especially on 10/12/15 meter since it became a new dxcc a few years ago, and since then there have been no  good high band conditions  

 

My goal was SSB, RTTY, and as much as possible on higher bands (6/10/12), with special attention for  Japan. For JA operators,  Saint Barthelémy is not easy to work.  It can be compared as the pacific for EU stations. Time planning had to be good to for high HF bands and my station had to be a high power station with minimal 1 KW and a Multi band beam antenna was needed to reach the whole world in modes SSB and RTTY, to become something different and more than the last 2 expeditions in FJ. I decided to go in month May. This month is an excellent month for good conditions on the higher bands to all continents.  Also, Saint Barthélemy is a very expensive island. It is an island for the rich and famous people. So I had to go in the low tourist season, weather conditions could be bad, but renting a house was cheaper in that period.

My girlfriend Cendy wanted to go with me. She would love to see and discover this tropical Caribbean island. And I sure needed her company, because of the huge amount of over weight of equipment that I wanted to take with me. The weight of an Expert linear power amplifier, mult band hex beam antenna, RTTY equipment, transceiver, coax, verticals, radials, masts etc. is impossible to carry alone.  And also, Cendy is great in cook and, helping me put up the antenna, and of course keeping me company.  Between the pile-ups we made some trips over the island.

Upon arrival in Sint-Maarten we decided to take a taxi to the ferries, and take a small ferry boat to St Barth. Loading and unloading the +/- 150 kg, antenna’s, suitcases full of equipment was not easy.  After a few hours we made it to our rental house in St Barth.  After setting up the hex beam next to the swimming pool, I started up and immediately had huge pile ups. Setting up a vertical for 30/40 with ground radials seemed difficult.  Seen on photo’s of my rental house before I left, there was an open garden, ideal  for antennas and  enough space for ground radials. But after inspecting the garden in reality, it was clear that this garden was become a very dense jungle of trees, plants, mosquitoes and other small green animals, with absolute no room for even vertical antenna’s.

First days of operation, the conditions were very good, huge pile ups on 10/12/15/17 band and every mode. I tried to go on the highest band possible.  Between 18 and 22 hour local time I had  huge pile ups with Japan, almost every day. On some bands I noticed some static noise, man made, but signals were very high so I had no problem with it. But,… After a few days it became a bigger problem. The static increased, sometimes to S9, and on some bands it became impossible to copy any station. I searched for the source, switching off every TL-light, air-conditioning. I switched of every electrical device, except my transceiver. This seemed to help, but after a few hours  the static came up again. Could it  be the power Lines near by ? I decided to change the location of my hex-beam a little further away from the power Lines. Also, the antenna was not firmly established at the edge of the swimming pool, and no guy wires were possible there. The antenna was unstable, and with wind gusts it could come down fast. I put up the antenna on the other side of the house, secured it with strong  thick guy wires.  Unfortunately, changing location of the antenna helped nothing on the statical problem. Then it started to rain, and the  static stopped almost immediately!  Wow, no noise, nothing, just stations calling. This made it very easy to handle the pile up. Open power Lines just 100 meter from the house could be the problem. I hoped for rain, and indeed it rained all day . Unfortunately for Cendy, because she was lying in the sun. It rained all night too, with very strong wind gusts up to 150 km/h according to the StBarth online weather station. The next morning I felt like a very lucky guy ! Using the thick guy wires just the day before saved my hex-beam from disaster during the night!  If I had not had done this, I  am sure the hex-beam had not survived this night storm.

Continuing the dxpedition with ups and downs with the statical problem. When there was no rain and sun shining ,the static increased.  When static was S9 on all bands, I decided to go with Cendy to discover the island, do some swimming and drove around with the rental car. Short showers were very frequent, so each time I rushed back to the shack, to make QRN free QSO’s. The last 2 days of the dxpedition I found a place to put up the 30/40 meter vertical with ground radials on a piece of land from a unknown owner next to our house. But after a few hours a far  neighbours asked to take away the antenna from his property. So I decided to put up a vertical next to the swimming pool, with the swimming pool as earth mass and just a few radialen scattered and thrown around on the terrace.  Good for a quick 296 qso’s on 30/40. At evening and night I was to exhaust for handling pile-ups on 30/40. Mainly I got up every day at 5:00 o’clock in the morning, local time. And got back to bed at 10 o’clock in the evening.

In total 7569 QSO's were made

I think I handled the pile ups very well. Most important thing is to keep patience, remain calm and not try to create a zoo by calling stations before giving “FJ/OS1T up5”. If DX stations doing this, all other stations think the dx is listning to call signs while in qso with somebody else, then the zoo brakes loose. No, I ignored, and had very close attention to keep the pile up under my control.

73, FJ/OS1T

More photo's at: www.dxpedition.be

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