KH1/KH7Z Wow!

Posted: July 7, 2018 in Uncategorized

baker2-1000.300

KH1/KH7Z has just concluded after nine days of on the air activity. Wow! This was tough! I found that all of my contacts were difficult to extremely difficult to make. Propagation was about as bad as it can get! There were no sunspots!

Still, the team pushed on. On six of their nine days, they made in excess of 8,000 contacts per day! That is a tremendous effort. They had four days where they made in excess of 9,000 contacts per day and one day with 10,737 contacts! That takes a very intense, focused effort. I wonder if they got up to do bio breaks?

Their signals were never really what I would call loud and clear. They were most workable right before and after our West Coast sunset. On 40 meters they were fairly good copy at our sunrise. Contacts on 30/80/160 meters were very tough!

The operators were excellent for the most part. The CW Ops were “World Class” often making out full calls very quickly. Two of the SSB Ops appeared to be learning the ropes. Lets hope they had fun and go on another DXpedition soon!

KH1/KH7Z was really tough for Europe. I can attest that the KH1/KH7Z team was on the right bands at the right times and was actively listening and calling for EU stations. Propagation just did not cooperate to the extent that any of us would have liked.

All in all, KH1/KH7Z was great effort and I am grateful for this team’s efforts and the contacts that I was able to make with them. I really had fun working them, particularly with FT8 on various bands.

What was surprising from my West Coast perspective is that DQRM seemed very minimal to me. I did not hear the endless hours of jamming and deliberate interference that I have heard on top of so many other high visibility DXpeditions.

Maybe that can be a new trend?

Thank you KH1/KH7Z Team! I can’t wait to hear your stories.

What do you think?

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Comments
  1. They did an excellent job, while here in the US Midwest, I could not ever copy their phone, and cw was only a whisper, I was able to work them on FT8 on 30 and 40. I did not hear any DQRM myself, even while listening for them to break out of the noise for phone I only heard an occasional “up”. They did fantastic job in adverse conditions. de Dale K8TS

  2. Mike KJ4Z says:

    I actually found them to be super-easy from my popgun station in Palo Alto except for 160. I agree they were never loud, but I got all my QSOs with little effort after being shut out the first day. All my QSOs were around our sunrise or sunset, and I think I just got really lucky with timing. It could also have something to do with taking my new SPE 1.3k-FA out for its first spin too 🙂 . I was sorry to miss out on 12 and 10 but you can’t have everything. My good friend on the East Coast didn’t manage a single QSO. You really needed a good location or good antennas, plus good luck, for this one.

    I didn’t hear DQRM either. Probably because of the lousy propagation. I had fun and FT8 DXpedition Mode wasn’t the disaster I feared it would be. Good show!

  3. Rick WA6NHC says:

    I guess I’m the odd one out. I found 160M to be the easiest of the bands. It was midnight local time (abou 90 minutes after their sunset), they were loud, I called twice, they answered. A half hour later, I made an insurance call, again on the second call, they answered. The CW ops were outstanding. When 160 FT8 happened, they were not loud at all, but I got through.

    FT8 is interesting, I even made one contact with them, that I never heard, never saw on the waterfall display but the computer did. Amazing work JT! I was able to copy their packets at -24 … sometimes.

    Phone was tough, they weren’t loud, but John K6MM must have golden ears, he heard me. Other phone contacts were slow, unsure operators that didn’t command the pileup (allowed JA contacts during NA only strings, then that just collapsed into chaos). Again, the CW ops RAN the show, quick, near flawless and set a nice consistent pace and rhythm, easy to follow. They struggled with some calls, while others robotically kept sending (What part of the US are you in JH3? He said PY0, so why is K5 calling?). They had patience, they rarely gave up but there were some NIL sent.

    The DQRM had rough periods on CW. Worse they UP’ed each other. There was some pirating of other calls for a time too to put discredit on some folks. That’s a mind set I hope to never understand. While it wasn’t as bad as I’ve heard, I’d like to hear much less of it. Folks make mistakes, a simple UP is often enough (unless the sender was using a code reader and not paying attention).

    Their last morning, I awoke at 3 AM, reasons unknown. So I checked the bands, saw them active on 80, 60 and 40. Rather than burn time on 60 with the 100 watt ERP limits, I went to 40 CW. A short time later, they were in the log (NA NA NA, irritated some folks). It took maybe 45 minutes, they were HOPPING.

    I then went to 80 FT8. I watched as they worked a strong of VK, followed by some JA (I think they worked every ham in Japan at least twice), then US and back to VK with some others slipping in as well (SA, other Asians). In short it was a FOCUSED attempt to be fair and work as many as heard. 18 minutes after I got them in the log, they went QRT. That’s cutting it pretty closely.

    I put in some pretty serious chair time and destroyed my circadian rhythm. If the last two contacts pan out when they upload in Fiji, I’ll end up with 14 band slots on 5 bands from 900 miles north of you Paul.

    This is on the simplest of antennas. An Inverted L on 160M (~70′ at the bend), an 80M dipole and an ancient Cushcraft R7 vertical. The most I could currently put out is 600 watts.

    So it’s a combination of butt in chair time, patience, focus and understanding what they were attempting (STAY on 20, work the propagation) mixed with some propagation understanding on both ends. i.e., when you have them in the log on 20M and that is the ONLY band from mid-morning through supper time, go do something else!

    The ONLY insurance Q I made was on 160M. It was so easy, I just didn’t trust myself. This was absolutely a low band event, propagation was crummy.

    BUT one also needed to pay attention for those 10 minute openings on the high bands too. They were consistent, they were BRIEF! They approached ESP levels usually here, unworthy for the attempt (I’d only add noise for others).

    Regardless of the whiners (on cluster and chats), under the environmentally challenges they faced (bloody HOT), the antenna limitations (43′, vertical only) and the poor propagation (did anyone work them on 6?); they did pretty darned well. Someone will always whine, that’s part of the game we play and why we constantly improve our stations.

    Well done KH1/KH7Z, well done!

    Rick wa6nhc North Idaho

    • N6PSE's Blog says:

      Hi Rick, I too found myself getting up at odd hours of each night trying to catch them on 160 meters. It was tough and it was getting close to the end when I found them on FT8! The next night, I was able to work them on 160 CW, so I was thrilled. They were much stronger on 80 than they were on 160 however cluster reports from the East Coast indicated the opposite. Anyhow, I am very glad to get them on Topband!

      73,

      Paul N6PSE

      • Rick WA6NHC says:

        I don’t usually sleep much anyway, plus I’m a night owl. For some reason I was very confident that Top Band would be successful. It’s a new band for me without a hack antenna and I’m having a great time on it.

        But I’m far enough north that the high bands had no chance.

        They managed to update the logs a bit ago, the last two came through. They did a wonderful job.

        Rick WA6NHC

  4. Robert H. Pusch, WD8NVN says:

    Got them in the log in central Ohio… The KH1/KH7Z expedition demonstrated FT8 is the mode ready to replace RTTY for Dxpeditions…

  5. Steve Jones N6SJ says:

    Paul-
    I also heard virtually no DQRM. I hope that’s a trend, but I’m afraid it was due to the poor propagation! Re. RTTY, I agree FT8 will replace it, but I was surprised there was so little RTTY available from Baker.
    73,
    Steve

  6. Roger says:

    FT8 saved the day for me. On one of my FT8 QSOs his report to me was -17. I don’t think I’d likely been able to have a QSO with him, or even hear him at all if the mode was CW or SSB.
    One big takeaway from the experiment with FT8 DXpedition mode is that it makes QSOs possible even in the face or horrible band conditions and marginal antennas on both ends.

    I think FT8 should be in the toolbox of future DXpeditions to rare locations — especially during the low end of the sunspot cycle and when the DX is working under antenna constraints.

    73 Roger K5RKS

  7. GLEN BROWN says:

    I worked them all bands 15 and below and all modes, but did not try to fill all slots. I hate to say it, but from the West coast it was easy. The signals were not always strong, but if I heard them I worked them quickly. I have been hearing the nit-picking over FT8, but I view it as a huge success. Anyone who RTFM’d (and had the latest software) should have done well. With their antenna limitations and no sunspots, I suspect FT8 allowed a lot of stations to work them who could not have otherwise.

    Big congratulations to the team for pulling this one off in difficult conditions.

  8. Keith Heimbold says:

    Great job getting into many logs. Some of my European friends were able to get on with FT8. It made the difference for probably many mid to small sized stations. Another thing I noticed with some of my modest to small pistol station friends on the east coast and Europe that several were satisfied with getting one in the log. I think with the advent of clublog uploads people on the fringe propagation areas get their ATNO FT8 and/or CW and likely listen on another band or mode and then decide to not spend too much time in futile efforts or add to the band noise.

    In Texas I heard the dxpedition with very good signals on 20m all modes, multiple days and on 40m CW on day one. I have very modest HF antenna setup (400’ skywire loop and 40m elevated groundplane). It works pretty well overall for what these antennas are fortunately I am on a hilltop.

    One friend locally on a 80m wire dipole worked them with barefoot station and 100W on phone. He is a relative new comer on HF and was thrilled to get them in the waning hours. He is also hilltop about 30 Miles from me.

    Overall great dxpedition. Glad to get #312 DXCC Mixed in the log. The highlight for me was getting them day one on 40m CW against all the big gun stations. The rest of the contacts were gravy because with my antenna setup I would never fill a bingo card. Thanks to all involved!!! Definitely an awesome 2018 DXpedition up there with 3B7A!

  9. Ken - LA7GIA says:

    I was very satisfied working Baker as an atno on 2 bands and 2 modes, and as expected it was a vy difficult path to KH1. They really had a great success with one station on 20m, and they had a fantastic QSO rate under difficult conditions, I am sure they made many OM happy!

    In the same manner I was disappointed how they did no prioritize the western part of EU on 30m, literally the only low band west EU could work them on. It was quite frustrating to listen on a Q5 workable signal at times when they were working NA or JA, but could have worked the weaker EU stations. Even though the operator worked a few Zone 14 stations he kept on calling NA! Clublog reveals that they only worked 125 stations on 30m in Zone 14 which is DL, EA, I, F, UK and Scandinavia. We informed the Pilot about the opening on 30m to west EU, but no success.

    Anyway, congratulations to the team – and thanks for doing the trip!

  10. Stephen Hawkins says:

    I thought they did a great job. I was able to work them on 40, 30, and 20 without much difficulty. On 40 they were still strong an hour after my sunrise. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFu2E7s6ecE

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