My thoughts on FT4TA…..

Posted: November 9, 2014 in Uncategorized


Wow! That was fun!

That was hard work!

This was a quite unique operation and the overall results are very good! This Dxpedition broke the mold and shows what a small nimble team can accomplish.

Very little about this operation was predictable. It required one’s complete focus and attention to get into their log. It was not like shooting “ducks in the barrel” like many of the Dxpeditions these days. They didn’t make it easy and they didn’t have to. Their focus was to work everyone. I didn’t sense any overt favoritism for any continent. Europe got more contacts simply because of proximity. Their signals had to travel over Europe to reach other large populations such as the US.

The operators were very fast and very competent. They endured endless hours of dazed and confused hams, and more DQRM than could be imagined. Each contact made with FT4TA was hard fought and took as much timing and finesse as it did brute strength. You simply had to be there hour after hour, sunrise and sunset to get them. You had to match their effort with your own. Maybe this will make us better Dxers? We’ve all become familiar with Dxpeditions that are always on, always workable and always predictable. This wasn’t that and they didn’t try to be like everyone else. They brought their own unique style and passion to the bands.

The FT4TA team used good techniques to deal with the mayhem on the bands. Quite often, they would “QRX” or simply disappear for five minutes at a time. The band would settle down and normalize and they would soon be up and running and operating more effectively than before their QRX. This was a very effective technique for what they (and we) were facing. There were other times when they would abruptly disappear leaving a huge pileup hanging, never to return. Perhaps they might share some insights about this later. It was frustrating at times.

Overall, the team made effective use of propagation and band selection. This team made very effective use of 30 and 40 meters long path in the W6/W7 grey line. This was very beneficial to everyone.

I truly believe that the FT4TA team worked everyone who was “workable” Yes, there were some missed opportunities in the beginning but the demand world-wide was extreme and once this team got things dialed in after a few days, they were magnificent!

I am most amazed by the determination and the stamina of the FT4TA team. With only seven men they were often active on four bands at a time for many hours at a time. These Operators worked incredibly hard to carry out this operation. I hope that they don’t get the bashing that happened after FT5GA. They have greatly exceeded my every expectation.

Having the LoTW uploads was a really nice touch, not essential but a great bonus. I feel that this team deserves our praise well above any criticisms and I hope that our praise will motivate them to activate more rare French possessions in the future.

The FT4TA Team can be very proud of their effort on Tromelin. Well done FT4TA!

  1. Mike KJ4Z says:

    It was a hard slog, but I did pretty well out of the expedition. Better than I dared to hope, in fact. But I think I’m DXed out for a while. I doubt I will be very active for the next week or two. Will probably spend some time planning antenna upgrades for Navassa.

    My only complaints about the operation were the frequent vanishings (I would have appreciated a simple “QRT QRT”) and the strange avoidance of 20 meters early on. The operators were sharp. On the whole it was as good as I could have wished. I’ll certainly be sending in my donation.

  2. k6uj says:

    Very well done indeed, FT4TA team ! One thing that sticks out in my mind and blew me away was the contact I “finally” made on 20M CW. After sitting there for hours trying to get thru the op sent K6U. I nervously sent my call back several times. Then he sent K6U again. I sent my call several times again. This went on for about four more times until he finally sent K6UJ 599. I sent back 599 TU and he sent back TU. He wouldn’t move on until he finished the contact. Needless to say I was a very happy DXer ! This was ATNO for me 🙂


  3. Peter W2IRT says:

    This was a very special DXpedition for me since it put me on the Honor Roll for Mixed and Phone. I will never forget how ecstatic I was when I got through on the first day, and again when I saw they’d uploaded to LoTW and allowed me to complete my HR application while they were still QRV.

    But while I enjoyed considerable success, I feel for those who could never break through the piles. As I’ve stated elsewhere, I believe the ultra-wide splits hurt more than helped, and kept their rates lower than they might have otherwise achieved. They may also have been able to thin out the piles by calling more by continent than they did and by lowering their TX power when the going got particularly tough. I also think that, given their top-10 world status, keeping a station on either 15 or 20 metres, CW/SSB 24/7 probably should have been done to give even the littlest guys a shot at at least one QSO. My harshest criticism is for those whose behaviour on the bands was the epitome of disgraceful and whose wholesale abandonment of Ham Spirit made life difficult for everyone.

    Once again, my thanks to the team and my congratulations to those who worked this ultra-rare one for an all-time new entity.

    • Michael Ponte says:

      I did not like the wide split and it caused a lot of qrm from people protesting. I did work them on 15 after a couple of days with much calling. To me it would have made more sense to just do 5 up and go by numbers. Glad of course that I was able to work them and get the LOTW confirmation so quickly.

    • n6pse says:

      Peter, thank you for your interest and comments in my Blog. Congratulations on making Honor Roll! My perspective is from W6-land which is very far and very difficult to FT/T as you know. When I first read that they were going to use vertical antennas only, I was very concerned, but they made very effective use of vertical antennas. Their approach to 20 meters CW is a little mysterious perhaps, but in the final days they made quite a push on 20 CW and of course they made excellent use of 17 CW throughout the Dxpedition. I feel that this team can be very pleased and quite proud of their effort. Many W6 guys including myself worked them 10-80 meters which is just incredible!

    • Paul N5PG says:

      FT4TA has said more than once that there was not any band open 24hrs/day. In their summary on the said 20m was only open 12hrs/day. The “vanishings” helped me bag ’em on 10m ssb, I’d found where he was listening so just stayed there and worked him when he returned 🙂 73

  4. Robert WD8NVN says:

    Long story short: Exceeded my expectation; donation on the way !

  5. Steve VK3MEG says:

    A tough one for a little pistol 100w tribander 30′ but as you said you had to perserve. I got them fresh day 4 on 15m ssb worked 2nd call up 5. like ft5zm they were never strong except the first day on 20m. I was happy with 1 slot would have liked 10m but that didnt happen. I swore I wouldnt kill my self trying to work them and if I missed so be it. I spent a lot of my other time helping my little pistol friends get them with compromised antenna’s etc that was satisfing. yes a donation is in order. a 14-18 day instead of 10 would have helped the small guys more.the log comfirmations took the stress out of the operation. Now on to the next one and start planning for Navassa.

  6. Glenn KE4KY says:

    A great job by the FT4TA team! Yes, for some it may have looked like there was little hope in working the DXpedition, but with effort and persistence, it would appear that most got their much needed QSO for an ATNO. I was able to work the team for #316, and with the early upload to LoTW got my #315 confirmed in short order!

    There seems to be a prevailing sentiment among way too many self proclaimed “dxers” that it should take little effort on their own part to work semi-rare and rare DXCC entities. So many forum comments all but blame the DX operation for their lack of achieving a QSO, and then aggressively turn on those who have early or profound success contacting the operation on multiple modes or bands. There is no apparent thought that the reason for their lack of success lies within the framework of a personal lackluster effort, poor operating skills, sub-par equipment, inadequate antennas, and/or complete lack of basic propagation knowledge and band capabilities. It is funny to read of folks that complain about the lack of a QSO, then 300 posts later in the same thread asking for advice on how to work split. It is so much easier to write post after post on the forums about all that is wrong with the DXpedition effort rather than to look inward at their own skill set or station configuration.

    Of course, none of these issues are new to the DXing world. How anyone can truly argue that their lowly 100 watts fed into a low hanging wire is not the issue, but rather “big guns” and what others are doing are the cause for their lack of success.

    DXing is a lonely pursuit, not a group sport with folks holding your hand or cheering you on as you wade into the pile. Your success is based solely on your own effort and capabilities. Many should look at getting to know accomplished DXers in their area and quietly observe and then emulate those things which make that DXer so successful. Whether that be learning new skills, new modes, or taking the time and money to make one’s own station more competitive while attempting to dissect the latest DXpedition pileup.

  7. Al-N6TA says:

    Glenn’s comments in his last paragraph sums up my thougs on those that complain. I have a lousy antenna on 80, have bad noise that I have been too laxy to fix and do not spend enough time since I have lots of other things to so or must do. So, I make the best use of my time and try to be aware of when I could have propagation, use some skil in the pileup and keep at it untill the XYL alls for dinner or whateveer
    I am thrilled that these guys even went to this lonley place and have no gripes. It was #338 for me and I could not be happier.
    73 d3 Al-N6TA

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