Просмотр полной версии : ZL7 - поездка на уикенд

16.05.2008, 12:03
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Radio Weekend on Chatham Islands, New Zealand.

Operating as ZL7M, Prepared by David Burger, VK2CZ

Holding a number of engineering and radio volunteer positions this year has affected my ability to do some choice radio trips in 2008, so a decision about ?when? to operate was the driving force, rather than picking a radio event and altering my schedule around that.

May?08 was looking like a quiet month, and having secured a number of call signs in and around Australia, the choice was the popular VK TransTasman (TT) 80m SSB event. This event is the best patronised of the four, is a very short duration sprint, and simple antennas can be made to work effectively and I currently hold the event record meant that I could relax and have some fun and do something a bit different.

First choice was using my VK8 call sign from Alice Springs, but a major horse rodeo event had the Alice fully booked out. The only other call sign I had that was eligible for this event was ZL7M for the Chatham Islands. Luckily the Chathams are just under 3,000 km from Sydney, so quite manageable for a weekend away.

Booking flights was a major challenge, as travel agents cannot book the Chathams leg of the trip. Finally arriving at a solution where I accessed the Chathams via Wellington turned out really well. I had a 3 hour walk around Kilbirnie and the Evans Bay marina and a big yellow weather needle under construction there.

The flight to the Chathams was on a 1956 Corvair 580 aircraft, a little like an Indiana Jones movie set. With just 6 passengers on the outbound leg, many looking like Antarctic expeditioners and amazing legroom that business class passengers would pay for. The adventure of just flying would have satisfied many travelers.

Originally booked into the Chatham Lodge, I was bumped to a homestay option just hours before my arrival, as the Lodge owners had just closed it down for major renovations. This was a bonus with the number of people I met on the island, with little compromise with radio antennas. Sure there was some 11kV power lines close by, but it turned out that lighting QRN was more significant.

Having equipped the trip to accommodate 80 m (non DX window) and 20 m operation, allowed me to keep weight to a minimum. The excess baggage rates were really odd — AUD$18 per kilo outbound, NZ$2.20 per kilo on the Chatham legs, and NZ$17 per kilo inbound to Sydney.

Using an Icom 756pro3 has proved to be a good choice for trips, as the performance, weight and usability are ideal. The antennas were a single coax and balun feed multiband-dipole, elevated off the ground given nearby trees and buildings. The 80m SSB Transtasman contest is a local VK/ZL event, so NVIS performance is best obtained by not getting the antennas too high off the ground.

Finding the start of the contest a small challenge, time zone of UTC+12:45 threw me, and I kicked off 15 minutes late on the first hour. It was surprising to have ZLs really strong and VK signals all over the place.. I only missed VK1 and VK9, and nothing heard from ZL5 or ZL6 either. I did have a few tell me on air that ZL7 was out of bounds, but I think that was computer issues rather than interpreting the rules. One of the contest loggers specifically written for this contest did not account for all VK or ZL prefixes, or the VK9X and VK9C locations to our West, so while QSO’s from ZL7 could be logged, the scoring part of the logger failed.

Surprisingly it was much warmer than I'd thought. It seems impossible to get Chatham Island weather off the internet, and not even the ZL Maritime weather broadcasts tell it either! The weather peaked at about 22C during both days I was there, and overnight of 7C, but 100% humid, so it was a very penetrating cold. No wind, either, something the locals said was odd. My guess probably similar weather to Christchurch which is at the same latitude.

I did have a couple of contacts which I would put forward as the 'longest distance ever' in this event, and that was with Barry VK6ADI at 5,590 km! The longest possibly allowed under current rules would be between VK9C and ZL7, but the chance that both these are active at the same time would be very very rare indeed.

Outside the TT 80m event generated some quick pileups on 20m, even with low power. It it only too a few seconds for beams to get re-directed.. First time I have been forced to run split on 20m too. Managed around 500 QSOs in the 3 or so hours I was on outside the 80m event.

My trips are not 100% radio by the way. On non-ham related things, I did get to meet some key people on the island, including a VHF’er ham, Ian, who has a ZL2 license, some of the major land owners on the island and some maritime trainers/examiners doing radar and radio certificates.

Managed about a 100 photo’s of the island and the people, some amazing bridges, even more amazing vehicles, and there were few places on the island where the views were less than spectacular. Some good close-ups of the Tsunami warning beacon and some wild chicken type birds that some call dinner, and other call a pest.

Was it worth the visit? A definite yes!

David is based in Sydney, Australia and holds licenses VK2CZ, VK8AA, ZL7M, K3HZ and 4W3A. David has also operated as VK9XD in 2003, 2004 and 2005, and does annual excursions to one the callsign locations listed above. David has volunteers roles as IEEE NSW Section Chair, ITEE Board Member of Engineers Australia and President of the Manly Warringah radio Society.