Reflections on Radio and My Trip

As I departed Manihiki on the little Embrair 110, I found found myself reflecting on my time on the atoll, the people I met, my experiences, and my first real DXPedition.  I scrambled to retain the incredibly positive and optimistic feelings I had.

This tiny little island has left an indelible mark on me and the time off the air will have a lasting effect, far beyond anything I had expected. In this context, I won’t expound on that topic to any great length, but there are a few things I’d like to share with DXers and DXPeditioners.

I’m a new ham and this hobby has provided me with life experiences that I simply could not have expected. My goal in this prologue is solely to encourage reflection on the art of radio and encourage hams to take a more active stance in furthering it.

The US agency that governs our use of RF spectrum, (the FCC) states that the sole purpose of amateur radio is to “foster international goodwill.” Over the course of the last year, I have learned that this purpose is an apt goal and that we have been provided with a unique opportunity to do that. There are hams everywhere. This fraternity has afforded me tremendous gateways into their knowledge, their experiences, and into their lives. I can only endeavor to do the same for others, in the future.

On this trip, I made new friends. I established enduring friendships with people around the globe. Some of these were fellow DXers trying finding the right conditions to get in my logbook, some were with those that reached out to help in unexpected ways, and some with those that tried new things solely because I was doing them. These friendships span across the gap of modern communications and the RF technology I’ve learned to love so much. I used low latency satellite back-hauled WiFi on one of the most remote islands on the planet. Hams sprung out of Twitter and Skype with signal reports from an informal pilot network in France, Bulgaria, Germany, Japan, the US, and neighboring islands. I came out here with support from a small existing team, hams back home that I knew “had my back.” I left with a whole new one, hams I hope to meet in person someday.

E51PT, E51AMF

During the mid-day propagation hole (more on that in a later post), I spent time with an older ham who has been off the air for a long time. Our early conversations were focused on orienting him to his new radio, getting him re-familiarized with abbreviations and prosigns, etiquette, and technique. As he became more proficient, he would operate on his own and I’d just answer questions. Over time, our conversation shifted to the history of the island, local plants, and his life on the island. My time with him were the most rewarding moments on the island. Watching him complete his first CW QSO in more than 20 years, calling CQ and having someone come back, and listening to him talk about how much he loves the island.

I came to an island I never would have known about had I not been a ham. I interact with intelligent, creative, and thoughtful people I would never meet were I not a ham. I spent time with a man that opened up a view into his life, because we are hams.

I had an incredible experience, because of my interest in this silly hobby.

Magic Incantation to Redeem IRCs

Up until this DXPedition, I’d only received on IRC (International Reply Coupon) and simply passed it on to another JA who’s confirmation I wanted.  With the flood of E51AMF QSL cards, I received a pile of IRCs and needed a mechanism to redeem them.  Coincidentally, Dan – W7WA, posted to the Western Washington DX Club’s Yahoo Group (“reflector”) that he’d been successful doing so, last week.  He shared the magic incantation:

On their touch screen ask the clerk to proceed as follows:
Sales => More => Exchanges => Foreign IRC

I visited our tiny little post-office and muttered the magic words.  Indeed, they are redeemable for stamps or stamped envelopes at the rate of $1.15/IRC.  The postmaster, who was curious enough to come out of his office to observe the transaction, said that they will likely track the value of one Global Forever stamp (currently $1.15). The magic phrase (“Sales, More, Exchanges, Foreign IRC”) was exactly what they needed.  It turned a blank stare into “no problem!”  3 minutes had I left with 12 moon-themed global forever stamps (plus the 200 I bought!)

 

E51AMF – K7ADD Confirmed

Having returned from E51AMF in the North Cook Islands, I was incredibly excited to see my own confirmation.  I used the expensive WiFi on-site to remote my home station’s Flex 6500 and make a barefoot RTTY contact.  I gave myself bi-directional 599s, but the K7ADD me was probably 459 – took a number of repeated calls to make sure I felt right about logging it.  That’s right, I gave myself an ATNO.

Many more posts about this trip forthcoming.  An incredible trip and there’s so much I experienced and learned on my first DXPedition.

ARRL Logbook of the World Status Report
Generated at 2017-02-23 21:05:28
for k7add
Query:
QSL ONLY: YES
QSL SINCE: 2017-02-23 20:52:42

<PROGRAMID:4>LoTW
<APP_LoTW_LASTQSL:19>2017-02-23 21:03:22

<APP_LoTW_NUMREC:1>6

Date Time Call Band Mode Station Call Result
2017-01-22 04:23:00 E51AMF 30M RTTY K7ADD new confirmation for North Cook Islands: entity, RTTY, 30M

LotW operations: 6 QSLs processed, 6 log entries updated, 0 errors

A DXCC A Year Keeps the Doctor Away

One of the visualizations on Club Log is the DXCC Timeline view. It’s shocking how much DX I worked in my first 5 months on the air (2013) with an IC-7000 and a G5RV at 20 feet. 2014 saw me addition of the Hexbeam on the roof and the AL80B and not much travel. Throughout 2015 and 2016, I traveled a ton and spent much of my shack time refining the setup, instead of on the air. Even still, my ongoing goal will be to work (and confirm) a full DXCC every year.

If I include portable operations from Estonia and Slovenia, 2016 was the most successful year, yet.

Maybe someday I’ll figure out why I have >11k QSOs in the log and Club Log, no matter how many times I reload my ADIF, shows 9625 QSOs.

E51AMF

If you’re seeing this, you’re almost certainly here because you followed a link from QRZ to my blog. If it’s around the end of December 2016 or early in 2017, you’re probably here because you’re interested in the North Cooks DXPedtion.  Welcome!  Go ahead and subscribe to the RSS feed in your favorite reader (I like Feedly) or bookmark this page… then head on over the DXPedition site.

I’ll keep this blog updated with the more personal side of the trip and the DXPedition site with the specifics of the equipment, QSO rates, etc.

About E51AMF:

This DXPedition commemorates the launch of the Amateur Foundation, a non-profit supporting charitable works of amateurs on DXPeditions. The Amateur Foundation aims to increase the accessibility to information and funds for amateurs doing good things while travelling abroad.