In 1997, when the highly successful Cordell Expeditions – VK0IR DX-pedition activated heard Island, we were at the bottom of the solar cycle. You might ask “How in the world did they make 80K + Q’s?”, and the answer is “Because most of the world did not have to get to Heard via a polar path”.
The good news? The SSN for March, 2016 is predicted to be 44, so it should be much better than when VK0IR went there. The big bonus is that it will also be the Vernal Equinox – which Dean, N6BV says is the best time of the year to go to Heard Island for world wide propagation. Here are the charts that Dean has generated for us in PDF files:
We have a great propagation tool – available to all and gratiously supported by our very good friend, Stu, K6TU. Please check out his propagation service at:
And then check out the propagation “widgets” for VK0EK:
Atlas Cove – which will provide best propagation to EU, US East Coast, US Central, AF, ME, Asia and JA, and:
Spit Point – which will provide best propagation to US West, US Central, VK/ZL and OC:
Just to give an example, from KY6R’s location near San Francisco – to Spit Point on Heard Island, here is a list of propagation charts for the time that VK0EK will be active. First the overall chart – Spit Point to KY6R in Orinda:
Here is what the VOACAP Online chart looks like for KY6R (from Spit):
Here is one of their new charts (for Orinda, CA):
The VOACAP Online prediction shows possible propagation paths from 40 – 12M, while the K6TU prediction is a bit more “conservative” showing 40 – 15M. Of course – your area will show much different propagation, for example, Europe shows:
And now JA:
As it turns out – the predictions for all areas of the world look great for ATNO’s – especially given that we will be past the peak of the sunspot cycle. We hope you will agree that it is a worthwhile investment to donate Before the ship sets sail – since most of the expenses are incurred Before the ship leaves Cape Town.
You can get an hour by hour and band by band prediction for your area on the K6TU web site. Now, lets take a look at the HFTA Analysis that our very good friend and team mate, Dean Straw, N6BV has created for us:
The diamond on the lower left is the Atlas Camp – and you can see the terrain of “Big Ben” on the right – its a profile or side view. Here is what HFTA says about trying to beam to the SF Bay Area through Big Ben:
This graph shows that Big Ben cuts off anything below 11 degrees off in the direction of KY6R’s QTH in Orinda! This means the best and strongest low angle path signals are completely cut off – leaving the higher weaker angles available – but when you think of a howling gigantic pileup – all but the strongest big guns would get through – the “little pistols” would be very lucky to get in the log.
Now, lets look at Spit Bay:
The antennas that will be beaming the West Coast and Central US specifically – from Spit will be positioned on top of the hill where you see the verticals used at a past scientific expedition to that part of the island:
As you can see – not only is there nothing in the way from Spit Bay to KY6R in the SF Bay Area, but the most favorable kind of terrain exists at this site. A drop off going right to salt water! Here is HFTA:
Almost all of the lowest angles to the SF Bay Area up to Saskatchewan are now fully covered with much stronger signals.
From personal experience, I can contact South Africa on both 40M and 20M every West Coast morning on the long path. The path is the same path to Heard Island (which is short path to Heard), and also short path to Australia – and both of these are also as strong as a local station. For this reason, I do not really believe the propagation predictions. FT5ZM and FT5XO, and even FT5WJ – were all much easier than any prediction tools had predicted. But we will combine real on the air testing with modeling tools just for fun anyway.
We will be using these kinds of advanced propagational analysis and data to ensure the absolute highest ATNO counts and rates to the entire world. We will do everything we can to get the highest Unique and ATNO count possible.
One of the things we will ensure is proper antenna selection and placement. All antennas will be strategically chosen and set up to ensure maximum beaming power in YOUR direction, and where we will be able to more selectively give every part of the world as much an equal chance as propagationally possible.
Take some time to look at our sponsors. We will have the radios, antennas and other gear to maximize propagation and directivity and give you the best possible VK0EK / Heard Island DX-pedition experience possible!
Huge thanks go to Dean, N6BV and Stu, K6TU for the tools they have built and the analysis they have produced for our DX-pedition.