VK9CZ 2019 - Latest news 

ITU Zone 54    CQ Zone 29    IOTA OC-003   Grid NH87jt    Local time = GMT+6.5 hrs  

VK9CZ 2019 - 160m to 10m - SSB, CW, FT8

NEW - 6th December 2019 - Click here to read the story of VK9CZ 2019, written by Keith GM4YXI / GM5X

Update 5th December 2019   I have completed most of the SSB and CW log corrections - intending to re-upload the logfile to LoTW and ClubLog tomorrow or on Saturday. The FT8 log corrections will take another week - please be patient - I am wading through 300 e-mails.

Please have a look at the new photos added on the Photos page - click the button on the left...

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Update 3rd December 2019   After six flights (CCK>XCH>PER>SYD>SIN>LHR>ABZ) we are safely home - Keith is back at work but I (Chris) am retired so will spend some of this week sorting out log corrections, etc. etc.  (Hint - some e-mails seem to be trying to blame us for being 'not in log' and e.g. sending an FT8 screen shot of their 'QSO'. This approach is unlikely to be successful - a better approach is to politely ask if their QSO might have been a 'busted' callsign, etc. Given the high noise levels at VK9CZ we are sure that we will have mis-logged a number of stations)

I travelled a total distance of 49930 km (31004 miles) to/from VK9CZ - that's a long distance!

   On our way home - Perth W.A. airport with our 165kg of luggage (no need to go to a Gym - just carry this lot, hi)

   L > R  Roddy VK6MH, Keith GM4YXI, Chris GM3WOJ                            A big THANK-YOU to Roddy for his help!

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Update 29th November 2019    We've been able to work stations on 40m SSB until the last minute.....   This is our last update from the island - please check back here next week for more updates about log corrections, etc.   It might be Monday or Tuesday before we can upload the CQ WW CW logfile.

THANKS for the QSOs - we've had great fun working you from Cocos Keeling.

SPONSORS - THANKS everyone who has supported VK9CZ 2019 - we cannot update the 'Sponsors' webpage until next week, when we will e-mail everyone individually to say 'thanks'.        73    Chris and Keith @VK9CZ

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Update 28th November 2019    We still have antennas for 40m, 30m, 20m and 17m - we will be on these bands today, taking down each antenna after the band closes.  We have dismantled one station and packed up a lot of items ready for our flight tomorrow morning.

FT8 - there are about 3 QSOs which we need to add to the FT8 log - do not e-mail claiming one of these QSOs - we know who we worked, but the software lost the plot so we will add these QSOs manually early next week.

I (Chris) had fun working 11 stations in the UKEICC 80m CW contest early this morning - unfortunately my logging was so poor, that I came equal last with Olof 3B8M! (out of 95 entrants)

Logs have been uploaded to LoTW and ClubLog - we don't anticipate making too many more QSOs today - the final log update will be this evening (with the CQ WW CW contest logfile on Saturday or Monday).

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Update 27th November 2019     Thanks to everyone who has worked VK9CZ so far - today is our last full day of operating - we start dismantling and packing up (168 items) tomorrow (Thursday morning at about 0100z)

160m - we have had to take down the 160m antenna today. We made a total of 719 QSOs (425 CW, 294 FT8) on 160m. Sorry if you missed us. Some brief conclusions (a) our TX antenna was as good as we could reasonably install (b) conditions were below average for all of the time (c) local S4-S7 noise made copying difficult (d) we could not position our RX antennas in a low noise area (e) two operators cannot keep 160m going for as long each 24 hours as is (maybe) needed to work everyone - we tried!

On most of the bands, we have had trouble with rapid and deep QSB - a station calls who is S9 - we give them a report, but they disappear completely before they can respond....

* * We will upload the CQ WW CW QSOs this coming weekend - after the log submission deadline * *    Please be patient.....

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Update 25th November 2019     We have two more whole days of operating left - we will be dismantling the antennas and packing up all the gear on Thursday  27th November.

160m - conditions overall have been disappointing - they improved a bit during the CQ WW contest, but we will persevere until we have to take down the antenna. High noise levels make our RX situation difficult.

80m - we will be on 80m SSB for North and South America this evening (our time) i.e. 1140 - 1300z today. We will TX on 3790 +/- and possibly listen above 3800 kHz.

We enjoyed the CQ WW CW contest, making 4411 QSOs.  We were pleased to work stations on 160m and 10m - some of the pileups on 40, 20 and 15 were spectacular. * * We will upload these contest QSOs to LoTW and Clublog next week * *

Log uploads - thanks to time checks from Antoine 3D2AG and Bernd VK2IA, we have corrected the times of the 50-minute block of QSOs on 22nd November that had a timing problem. All QSOs (CW/SSB/FT8) have been uploaded to LoTW and ClubLog - at 0400z on 26th November.

Busted calls / Not in log - please send you e-mails to the e-mail address given via the 'Contact VK9CZ' button on the left. If you are 'Not in log' it is probable that you did not work us, so please re-work VK9CZ.

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Update 22nd November 2019     Conditions on all the bands continue to be unpredictable. We are using FT8 on 160m in preference to CW - our RX antennas are useless - too close to the buildings here.  We cannot move them further away unfortunately.   I (Chris) am not convinced that WSJT-X Fox/Hounds mode is the best mode for 160m, where all the signals are very weak....

On the HF bands (and on 80m) we've had some good pileups - however they are sometimes not long-lasting, although some of the signals are strong.

We have had one unexpected logging problem that we need to sort - our GPS timing for the logging PCs stopped working at 0419z today - neither of us noticed this (!) until we had worked about 180 stations on 17m and 12m, all with the same QSO start time = 0419z  :-(   (Correct logged times restarted at about 0510z) We are hoping that ClubLog can help us with the QSO times, cos we were sending these QSOs to ClubLog via our app.  We need to be sure that LoTW will accept these QSOs, given their timing tolerance.

The next LoTW and ClubLog updates will be on Monday 25th November - please be patient.

Looking forward to working you in CQ WW CW this weekend. 

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Update 21st November 2019     This update is from Keith :   Last night seemed to be better on the low bands. We had slightly (!) lower noise, especially in the early evening our time.

On 160m we are trying to divide time between FT8 and CW, with the added complication that for JA we need to listen on 1908. We have already had info that we were heard in mid USA whilst working JA on 160. What can we do............  Tonight we plan to do FT8 for JA from 1130-1230z. After that it will be our 'normal' frequencies, either FT8 or CW if conditions are better.

On 80m we have been trying to maximize the NA opening (our SR until 1500z approx) but stray callers are still giving us grief. Alternate calling for NA versus anywhere else seemed to work OK.

On 40m we have been trying to catch the opening for East and Mid NA around our SR but we have terrible trouble with illegal S9++ SSB signals from Indonesia making it hard to find and maintain a frequency where we can hear anything. Please bear with us.

And the higher bands have been pretty poor in the last few days....

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Update 19th November 2019    FT8 - a lot of callers are missing out on FT8 QSOs because they have not read the 'FT8 DXpedition Mode' information (PDF) - this is what it says  'Hounds make initial calls anywhere in the range 1000 - 4000Hz (1000 - 2300Hz for VK9CZ pse).  Fox will not respond to Hounds initially calling below 1000Hz'

You must call above 1000Hz - VK9CZ using WSJT-X Fox/Hounds mode cannot reply to your call if you call below 1000Hz ......

On 160m we are struggling to copy signals because of QRN - this means we are using FT8 more than CW to try to work you. Our RX loops are not working well - they are too close to the local buildings, so picking up local noise. We will try to improve our RX antennas if possible, but space for antennas is much less than in 2017 :-(

Overall, conditions on the bands have been 'patchy' - on 17m and 15m there is a lot of rapid and very deep QSB which makes copying a full callsign the first time a bit difficult. We've made a few QSOs on 12m, but are focussing our efforts on lower bands.  We will be on 20m more in the next day or two, but 40m to 15m are providing the most QSOs. We are keeping LoTW and ClubLog as up-to-date as possible.

From Keith : As promised before we came out here, we are making a particular effort to work NA on the low bands. We are on a low band continuously as SR crosses North America. During this time, however, we also have propagation into Asia and later to Europe. When we are calling for NA, please do not call if you are in Asia or Europe. The last two nights have been plagued by a small number of callers from JA and UA who ignore our request. These callers have cost several NA stations their low band QSOs with VK9C.

Please do not e-mail our QSL Manager Steve N3SL about a 'missing QSO' or 'busted call' - just work VK9CZ again if possible. After the DXpedition we will look at all these e-mails and cross-check the logfiles.

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Update 18th November 2019    Our internet connection has improved considerably, thanks to a kind local resident. We can now update this website easily every couple of days and can read e-mails.

We've taken longer than expected to install all the antennas - we still have no antenna installed for 10m, but will install that before CQ WW CW next weekend.

160m - poor last night (17th SS).  Our first activity on FT8 this morning (18th SR) worked fairly well into Europe. We intend to try FT8 F/H for NA/SA at our Sunset (1138z) today.  FT8 is good for weak signals conditions, but painfully slow when you have a limited time window of band propagation.  Our RX loop does not seem to work too well on 160m, but is useful on 80m.

80m - has not been too bad - lots of Eu, NA and SA QSOs.

40m and 30m - also fairly good conditions, but difficult to copy some of the CW signals (especially from the USA) which seem to arrive from different directions.

20m - we have not been on 20m very much - hoping to spend more time there.

17m and 15m - good conditions at times but often lots of QSB.  If you continue calling when the operator is obviously trying to work someone else, you are not popular in the VK9CZ shack!

FT8 F/H seems to work well, but is dismally slow - we often can't use more than one TX slot at times, which makes the QSO rate low. We will use 2 or 3 TX slots as soon as signals are strong enough. We have had over 100 stations calling simultaneously at times, so we know there is great demand.

Real-time logging (SSB/CW only) - this is now working, but is not active 100% of the time. Click on the button on the left - all the callsigns you see are safely in the VK9CZ log.

Thanks to everyone who has made a donation to our DXpedition - we have not been able to update the 'Sponsors' webpage yet, but will try to do that a.s.a.p.

With only two operators, nine bands and three modes, we are doing our best to 'balance' our activity yet still get some sleep - it's not easy!

More info later in the week...    Please spot VK9CZ on the DX Cluster....

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Update 16th November 2019    We have found a network which allows us to update this website, but we can only use it every few days.

Thanks for all the QSOs so far - we now have all the antennas except 12m and 10m installed.  Some comments in response to e-mails received so far :

Pirate activity - 40m FT8 - between 2130 and 2230z on 13th November - to USA. Also we have not been on 160m FT8 yet....

We are VERY aware of 160m and 80m propagation and the importance of greyline, SS, SR etc - also we are persevering for up 30 mins before/after these crucial times.  We ARE making selective calls for NA but there is also considerable demand from elsewhere.  We'll do our best!

For NA on 160m one suggestion is to listen 5 up on 1826.2...noted and thanks.

We've had one 12V PSU die due to the heat, but luckily we have a spare one.

FT8 - we have been using MSHV software mostly, which works well if signals are strong, but our 30m FT8 station is only running 45W output.  This shows up one of the flaws of FT8 - if you have 30 stations calling the software loses the plot and the QSO rate drops.  We'll try to use WSJT-X F/H, especially on 160m and 80m.  FT8 works well if you have enough transmit power to ensure the correct sequencing occurs speedily!

LoTW and ClubLog - we are updating these as regularly as we can - pse wait at least 48 hours before e-mailing us about 'missing QSOs' :-)   (The SSB/CW QSOs are logged on two laptops and the FT8/FT4 QSOs on a third laptop, so there may be a difference in what QSOs are uploaded at any given time)

 Conditions have been reasonably good so far - hope to work you on the bands ....  73   Chris

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Update 13th November 2019.        VK9CZ is now active and making QSOs.
Coastal erosion since our last visit in 2017 has made installing the antennas more difficult and time-consuming than expected.
We will be active on 160m and 80m soon - the 80m antenna will be particularly difficult to install so please be patient.
Our internet connectivity is poor - worse than in 2017, so we won't be able to do any real-time logging etc, and LoTW / ClubLog uploads will only be every few days.
We cannot even update this webpage using the DXpedition wifi, so there probably will be only one more update during the DXpedition - or no updates until we get home as my amazing, lovely daughter, Carrie, is updating this for me now.
We are also unable to update any of the other webpages - sorry!
 However, please keep looking for VK9CZ on as many bands as possible, on CW, SSB and FT8.
We hope to be on 160m tomorrow.
 73   Chris GM3WOJ and Keith GM4YXI

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Update 13th November 2019 - we have arrived safely at the DXpedition location.  However there are a few problems we have to overcome. Coastal erosion since our last visit in 2017 has washed away some of the locations that we had planned for antennas, so antenna installation work is much more difficult that we anticipated.

We should be 'on air' later today, with other antennas being installed over the next few days. We might not be able to put up all of the antennas that we had hoped to put up - we'll see.

Our internet connection is poor, so it may be a day or two before the next update - please keep checking back here.....

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Update 26th October 2019 - we've been planning our FT8 activity. This is what we intend to do - but this may change if we find it is not the most efficient use of FT8 :

160m and 80m - FT8 using WSJT-X in F/H mode       

Other bands - FT8 using MSHV. To avoid tones overlapping, VK9CZ will TX with a low tone frequency e.g. 420Hz - callers should call with tones above 1000Hz. If VK9CZ replies to your call, your TX tone frequency will not move down in the way it does with WSJT-X F/H. We will ignore all callers who call below 1000Hz. We will probably change to FT4 to increase the QSO rates later in the DXpedition.

Update 24th October 2019 - if you are interested in using our GPS PC timing system, please click on the new button 'GPS PC timing' on the left and read the updated article, to avoid you buying a fake or non-working GPS receiver.

We've received a VK9CZ Certificate from LoTW - we intend to upload our log to LoTW every day if possible, to give you a DXCC credit as quickly as possible. We will also try to upload the DXpedition logfile to ClubLog every day if possible. Both these depend on reliable internet connectivity of course!

Update 21st October 2019 - we spent last weekend sorting out equipment and antennas and started the packing process. We have 7 bags totalling about 150kg of baggage (7 x 23 = 161kg, but the 2 Pelican cases containing the amplifiers are volume limited)

These frequencies are where VK9CZ will operate on FT8 and (later) FT4 :

Update 13th September 2019 - today we finally secured our VK9CZ licence for the DXpedition - hooray! The application process has been changed since our 2017 activation, and is no longer administered by WIA. We applied back in February, yes, 7 months ago, to the AMC which is based in Tasmania for our 'letter of callsign recommendation'. This letter is required to submit to the licensing authority ACMA, with the licence fee, to get the licence document. We received our letter of recommendation only a couple of weeks ago. ACMA were much more efficient and we were excited to be issued yesterday with a 'VL9CZ' licence, rather than the requested 'VK9CZ', but when we checked with ACMA, they confirmed it should be VK9CZ....  Why did we not just keep quiet and use VL9CZ?  Simple - if anyone had complained, we would have had to correct the callsign during the DXpedition - not a good situation!!

Update 23rd July 2019 - we've been testing our VK9CZ FT8 station - see below

Update 24th April 2019 - all our flights and accommodation are now booked.

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VK9CZ 2019 operators Keith GM4YXI and Chris GM3WOJ are SSB and CW enthusiasts, so these modes will be the focus of our activity. We also realise that at this low point on the sunspot cycle, we cannot expect long openings on the higher bands like 12m and 10m (although we'll make sure we check these bands for propagation regularly each day). We'll be making a lot of effort to ensure that we have the best signal possible on 160m and 80m.

We are looking forward to entering the CQ WW CW Contest (Nov.23/24) as a Multi-Two entry. In CQ WW SSB 2017, VK9CZ was the winner of the 'World Multi-Op Contest Expedition' plaque, donated by Gail Sheehan K2RED (thanks Gail, John K1AR and CQ WW)

 

FT8 - We know that VK9C will be an ATNO for many people on FT8, so we will run a separate 3rd station on FT8 - using WSJT-X F/H or MSHV. One limitation will be which antennas are available at any given time. FT8 can be very effective on 160m and 80m under marginal propagation conditions. We like how speedy FT4 is compared to FT8.

The internet connection at the VK9CZ QTH is not 100% reliable, so we have a new GPS-based time synchronisation system to keep our Datamodes laptop internal clock accurate enough for FT4 and FT8. Click here to read about this timing system. (By November 2019 there may be newer versions of all FT4/FT8 software of course)

We'll keep clear of the 'normal' FT4 and FT8 frequencies - I'll post a list of our FT4 and FT8 frequencies here before we leave......

Propagation - Thanks to Jari OH6BG for his special propagation app.  Click the 'Propagation' button.  We have also added some extra charts to that webpage.

North Western Eu stations - we live in Scotland, so are fully aware of how difficult it can be for stations in NW Europe to work DXpeditions. We will make every effort to work NW Eu stations through the pile-up of stronger SE Eu stations.

U.S. & VE stations - we are also very aware of how difficult it is to work VK9C from North America - especially East Coast USA and the Maritime Provinces of Canada. We will figure out when we have the opportunities to focus on NA.

Click on any of the blue buttons on the left for detailed reports from our previous DXpeditions.  These webpages are being updated with text and some photos a.s.a.p. - at the moment there is nothing there when you click 'ZK2V 2009'.

Finally - this is definitely not a 'holiday style' DXpedition - we need a holiday *after* the DXpedition, hi.