KY6R Logbook showing FT5XO entries
I recently read a post on social media where a DX-er laments “VOACAP predicts a 40% probability for me to work them”. My response is “Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword”. While I love VOACAP, VOACAP Online and the K6TU prediction propagation tools, they are far from perfect. If you use them as a guideline or shall I say baseline, then its simply a starting point for your strategic planning on how you will get VK0EK in your log. In fact – if you have a healthy skepticism of propagation prediction tools – then you are thinking in the right direction!
The logbook entries for FT5XO at ARS KY6R shows that I worked this excellent team – the Microlite Penguins mostly during my morning hours. This is very similar to working FT5ZM and even the one 20M QSO I had with FT5WJ. So – there is a pattern here, and this is what it looks like on DX Atlas – and in my opinion, if you don’t have DX Atlas – you really need it as a serious DX-er. BTW – on the lower bands I had a vertical and the higher bands a 2 element SteppIR yagi when I worked FT5XO. My antennas are MUCH better now. And back then I had 200 watts. Now 1500 watts. What this means is I won’t be in the pileups calling as long as I did FT5XO, but I actually remember it was quite easy to work FT5XO.
DX Atlas showing the morning greyline for February 10, 2016 at KY6R
Every morning for at least a month now – I have heard and or worked stations in VK/ZL, ZS, SM and LA using my N6BT DXU-32, which has 2 elements on 40M and 3 on 20M and with 100 watts. Others have been working these same stations using a single vertical and (usually) at least 600 watts.
My antenna does the work – so I do not need an amplifier. Those with verticals can hear the DX, but need a tad more power than I do to work those stations. On receive, these stations have been S9 to S9 +20 every single morning, almost without fail. The Long Path from the West Coast to EU and ZS just happens to be the EXACT short path to Heard Island. Now – look at the map – if you couple the fact that this path is almost perfectly in the grey line – now you can easily see why this “terminator” has something to do with this strong RF “pipeline”.
Microlite Penguins FT5XO Kerguelin DX-pedition, March, 2005
It just so happens that Kerguelin is so close to Heard Island that you can count on propagation being the same. Furthermore – and here is where the “forensic data search” really scores in a huge way – FT5XO activated during the exact same point to the solar cycle (23) as VK0EK will be activating Heard Island during this cycle. Both also happen to be right at the Vernal Equinox, where the grey line will look like this:
You can see how both FT5XO and VK0EK share the same propagation characteristics as far as greyline goes. But that’s not all of the GREAT news! Look at this:
The day I worked them on 40M, the SSN was 39. Here are the predictions for VK0EK – March and April of 2016:
The last two lines – the predictions for March and April – when VK0EK will be active, will be almost identical to when FT5XO was there.
Just to show how much better this is than when VK0IR was on the air – 19 years ago, the sunspot number was mostly Zero, but some days reached 10:
So – with a little logbook and DX Atlas “forensics” and coupled with the VOACAP based predictions, you will have a much better idea about the probability that you will get in the VK0EK log.
What YOU have to do as the DX-er is put the best antennas up that you can and have “requisite” pileup skills.
Good luck – we will do everything we can at both Atlas and Spit Bay to get you in the VK0EK log!
P.S – I notice that I had duped this DX-pedition a couple of times. I don’t remember exactly why – but I know that they did NOT have online logging (Clublog or other web based), and I had been a DX-er for 4 years and was still a newbie DX-er. Sometimes I hear my call come back as YY6R, and so occasionally I will work them again because I do not want to rely on begging a QSL manager to fix a busted call. Instead, I want to work them and make sure its clear as a bell that they get my call correct. For me – DXA would have prevented me from calling them a second time for sure. And sometimes propagation will only open to a particular area for maybe 10 – 30 minutes. So – while I don’t think online logging prevents massive numbers of duping, it certainly does prevent some – and maybe reduces some DQRM due to reducing the “frustration level” that is today inherent in pileups. No hard statistics available – just anecdotal thoughts.