Good job from the VK9WA team!

Posted: November 23, 2015 in Uncategorized


As I write this blog entry, the VK9WA team is making their last contacts on 40 CW and 80 SSB while the other team members are tearing down the antennas and getting ready to depart Willis Island.

As of this writing, they have made over 61,675 contacts and astonishingly they have been able to control their contacts so that 32% went to EU, 30% went to Asia and 32% went to North America. Without this kind of control we could see 70% of their contacts with Asia. This requires discipline and a strong sense of fairness and is to be commended.

I was glad to see a slight improvement in propagation for the VK9WA team over what the TX3X team experienced only a few weeks earlier. Much to my surprise, propagation did not favor the US West Coast and other areas had some good openings to VK9WA including the East Coast and parts of Europe.

This Dxpedition was organized by Rob-N7QT and Jared-N7SMI. Rob has previously operated from small operations in the Caribbean and South Pacific. VK9WA appears to be his first multi-national eight man Dxpedition. Jared-N7SMI previously led the TX7G Marquesas Islands 2014 Dxpedition. Jared has been licensed since 2011.


I am very pleased to see the emergence of Rob and Jared as Dxpedition organizers and leaders and I welcome them to the Dxpedition fraternity!

My perception of their VK9WA operation is that this team planned well and executed well. They made the best of prevailing propagation. The range of operators on the team was from experienced EU contesters and high rate pileup handlers to first time DXpeditioners. I am very glad to see teams adding newcomers to their Dxpedition rosters.

For an eight man team they kept a number of stations on the air around the clock giving the impression that it was a larger team. These guys brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the airwaves.

As with most Dxpeditions, not everything was perfect. One of their operators appeared to be quite unfamiliar with the operations of a K3. He continuously operated simplex while telling his pileup that he was listening up. This caused a lot of confusion and some unkind cluster comments. Their 160 meter antenna was damaged and this greatly impacted their ability to operate on this band. Perhaps a backup 80/160 meter antenna for the next trip?

Willis Island is currently the #32 most wanted DXCC entity and was last activated in October 2008 by the large VK9DWX Dxpedition team. Given the fierce pileups and the desperation displayed in the many cluster comments you would have thought it was much higher in the standings.

I hope this team uses this experience to learn and grow for future Dxpeditions. They appear to have been poorly supported by the DX Community and were largely self-funded. I hope they don’t read all of the many nasty and unwarranted cluster and internet comments about their operation. I have said it before, Dxers nowadays are spoiled and some expect it to be easy to get a contact. I am sure the perceptions in EU are not as positive as mine. I am appalled to read on one EU radio club reflector that there is actual discussion of asking for their donation back from the VK9WA team. That would be extremely unfair in my view.

Before the operation, the VK9WA Co-Leader threatened to remove the contacts from their log of anyone that disrupts their attempts to log specific stations or call into specific regions of the world. While I am aware of some QRM/DQRM I hope they do not find it necessary to remove valid contacts from their log. I think that would be a mistake for them to undertake that action for many reasons.

All in all, a solid effort from the VK9WA team for which they can be very proud.  Let’s hope that this is the experience that will propel them forward to more activations of rare and much needed entities.

Best wishes to the VK9WA team.

What do you think?

  1. Rick WA6NHC says:

    I will whole heartedly agree that the VK9WA team did an outstanding job. I did not dupe on any band slot, except 17 phone because I quickly learned that they have golden ears and can pull a gemstone out of the mud every time. What I thought was rather thin on my side, was confirmed in the log every time. I was simply amazed.

    I took my time and if I thought I heard the exchange right, I waited then checked the online log, which was usually updated twice a day and relieved the pressure for new band slots (for me at least). Since I had done well over their stay, I barely operated the last two days. Kudos for the online log, it’s quite a tension reliever and I am firmly convinced it lower dupes (at least from me!).

    This morning (as they were packing up) on 80 phone, they had an S9+20db noise floor, but hung in there, sometimes at a rate of one per minute with all the repeats still 59 reports of course! 🙂 The team has a lot more patience than I would after being there so long, very well done.

    Sadly I was not able to hear them well enough to try on 160 (sorta, maybe, almost ESP). which would have given me a band sweep. That is not a surprise, it was a dream band for here, the dipole is only 25-40′ above dirt and is my only HF antenna).

    I saw the unkind comments, but all anyone had to do was read their intent on the web site for the reasons they did as they did. Even a few of the usually very polite JA’s were being snarky. I have sadly come to expect that from EU and I get the frustration involved; again check the web site for their stated intent. They followed what they said they would do, the stats prove it; a nice blend of locations.

    As it was relatively high on the wanted list, I would like to see an entire DAY spent on collecting only ATNO callers. Anyone already in the log; deal with that later (delay confirmation by a month, some form of hand slap). It would need to be pre-announced and I’m betting much of the pileups would have dissipated like smoke.

    I would have liked to also see more RTTY, although I managed to get them on 20. Each time I found them on 12 RTTY, the band closed, end of that tiny slit of time for the day and the JA wall was thick and steep. Of course 30 RTTY was an absolute madhouse (and when I heard them, limited to AS only). I would also like to see other modes like PSK, but the QSO rate does tend to be MUCH lower than say CW (done in 5 seconds) so that might not be appropriate for an entity wanted this much.

    I will agree that many DXers are spoiled and want it easy. An effort like this requires time in the chair to focus on the task; not all are willing (or able) to spend that much time. I did and every QSO was satisfying. I made some good success with the ATNO then chipped away at band mode slots (since there may not be another trip there in my lifetime) because of the TEAM, not my meager station. They were simply pros. I was giggly for hours when they came back to me on the first call on 15 CW.

    On many bands the operator jumped their receiver all over (on 10 CW, 1-20 KHz up). That and not being able to see the other stations they were working on the scope made it challenging and evened the playing field. Another (few) ops stated “Up 5-10” then hung out up 5 for an hour so 90% of the callers were right there too. Work a station, move, work a station move, be random.

    They DID pay attention to hearing their transmit frequency too (not accidentally) and shifted on occasion to avoid DQRM. That is a really nice way to move things along and keep the rates high.

    Overall, WELL done! Congratulations. Be safe on your trip home.

    I hope that Heard Island (the OTHER side of Oz) does as well and that propagation is even better. Because of that location, a lot of the propagation could be FAR different (and the weather conditions on the island equally unpleasant). Since I was able to fill band slots and one ATNO in AF this week (on 10M no less), I’m really hopeful for another successful trip.

    Rick wa6nhc

  2. Mike KJ4Z says:

    Couldn’t be happier with how well they did. I thought I had given them a donation before they left, but I guess I must have been thinking of TX3X. I will certainly be sending them a little something — they earned it.

  3. Roger AC6BW says:

    Agreed that VK9WA was a very well run DXpedition. I had VK9WY worked on 40 and 15 CW from an operation in 1997, so there was no intense pressure for an ATNO. I took my time, and filled all the band and mode slots that I needed. RTTY on 40m was tough because of the JA wall, but the op was good and I did manage to get through. Kudos to the team, and good work!
    Roger- AC6BW

  4. Roger says:

    VK9WA was an excellent operation. I kept a running list of band slots worked but for some reason I made a mistake and didn’t update my crib sheet to record 15m SSB even though the 15m QSO was in my log [and later showed up in the log they put up on CLUBLOG]. So I inadvertently worked 15M SSB twice.

    I had worked Willis Island before on various band modes during previous DXpeditions. Since I was able to work VK9WA on 12m and 10m I now have VK9 in the log on all bands 80m through 10m and all modes: RTTY, CW, and SSB. I don’t have a lot of aluminum up in the air so I have to put in quite a lot of chair time to put stuff in my log. The difficult areas for me tend to be the Persian Gulf and also islands in the Southern Indian Ocean.

    I notice that the VK9 guys stated that they will put their log up on LOTW in a week or so. LOTW is revolutionizing DXing and ham radio in general. You can work on awards more or less real time. You don’t have to wait months or years for physical QSLs to show up. I will look at my records to see if I’ve already sent them a donation. If not, I’ll send them something — possibly at the same time I submit online QSL request [assuming they are using an online QSL request form].

    73 Roger K5RKS Oklahoma City

  5. Jeff Schwartz KI0KB says:

    Job well done! I didn’t notice much DQRM this go around except on 20 meters CW. I was occasionally flummoxed on other bands by the CW UP Police. I wish they would realize that they are actually the ones generally transmitting when the DX is coming back to a call. The poor fellow giving his call on freq will eventually figure it out or give up. My ears have never been good enough to pick out my call with two or three UP Police sending UP three or four times several Hz apart…. It all starts to sound like a Joe Walsh riff…. The VK9WA team put on a GREAT SHOW! 73 Jeff / ki0kb

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