JX/LB5SH 2022 cancelled

I received a message from the operator, literally minutes ago, informing me that the planned trip to Jan Mayen is cancelled due to a lack of passengers. This is a decision I fully understand, and it’s beyond their control.

They said they will try again same time next year, and I’m already on the booking list.

I’m looking into alternatives for this year, and will consider 3A Monacco, OHØ Åland, or maybe give JW Svalbard another go. Or maybe all three of them, we’ll see what the time and finances will allow.

I’m sorry JX/LB5SH isn’t happening in 2022, but let’s keep our fingers crossed for next year. I’m a stubborn old fart so rest assured I will get there eventually.

If anyone else is interested in joining me to JX Jan Mayen in 2023, let me know. There are seats and group discounts available.

Expedition to Jan Mayen at risk

As you may know, my plan is to hitch-hike with a team of mountaineers, travelling from Svalbard to Jan Mayen in late June, 2022. However, a couple of weeks ago, I received a notification from the operator that the trip is at risk being cancelled, due to a lack of reservations. At the time being, the trip cannot completed without a significant financial loss, which, understandably, isn’t an option.

Let’s discuss options.

1- Last minute reservations. There is a small chance that new reservations may be placed, and the trip goes as planned. When I last spoke with the captain, he encouraged me to invite more radio amateurs to tag along, and that a group discount might be available. If you’re interested, you know what to do.

2- If the trip ends up being cancelled and you’re bummed there’s no JX in the log, rest assured there is still a chance. I recently learned that two operators are being stationed there for the summer, namely JX7QY and JX/LB4MI, so keep an eye out for them in the DX cluster. Their shifts begins in a couple of weeks, and I know that at least one of them is an experienced CW operator.

3- I’m going to pick up a few loose threads and see if I can get on another boat to Jan Mayen later this year, or maybe early/mid-2023. Admittedly, this requires a fair bit more planning and coordination, but it’s far from impossible. The reward here is ten days on the island, which is a good motivation.

I’m going to Jan Mayen, and that’s final. Time will show if this happens now, as planned in three months, or later this year/next year. I’m going, trust me, it’s only a question of when and how.

Meanwhile, hope to catch you on the air during the CQWPX contest this weekend. There are four operators, including me, that will work from my club, and you’ll hear calling as LN2T. Good luck!

CQ WPX RTTY

The CQ WPX RTTY contest was held a few days ago, and despite being occupied with other duties that apparently are, quote, “more important than sitting infront of that radio all day”, I logged 100 contacts on low power. This should ideally be tenfold that number, but I’ll get there next year.

The antenna used for this contest was an EFHW tossed into a tree. I’m working on a more permanent antenna solution, but for the moment this is what I had to work with. If that wasn’t challenging enough, I didn’t have my PA here either, so I ran barefoot with ~70-80 watts.

I’m working on a better contest setup at home, and will dive into the details on this topic a little later.

Building a vertical antenna with traps

Last week I bought a few cheap aluminium pipes and decided to build a discrete vertical antenna for my post stamp backyard. The goal was to make something that looks a little bit more professional than a cobweb of wires, and at the same time support the 10, 15 and 20 meter bands. If that wasn’t challenging enough, I didn’t want the antenna much taller than 3 meters in height.

In order to accomplish the above in such a short antenna, I added two traps for 15 and 20 meters. These traps were made with stubs of RG58 coax that was wound around a 30 mm PVC plumbing pipe. I did three turns for the 15 meters, five for the 20 meters, and I did the loop trick where the screen on one end loops back to the center lead on the other end.

I’ll happily admit that, apart from a tape measure, the traps were not metered or measured in any other way before, nor during, the build. I thought “this looks like it might work” and decided to go for it. Fine-tuning could be done later.

The radials are just three 120 cm elevated telescopic rods, and a 20 meter long wire that runs across the hedge. They are definitely subject to change shortly.

Right now the antenna is mounted on a camera stand, fairly close to the ground. My goal is to put it up in the tree to the right, which is maybe 15-20 meters tall, but the realistic install height may be around 10 meters for the base of the antenna. Before I start climbing I need to be sure the antenna is working fine.

The current version of the antenna is working fairly well, and it even brought two surprise bands with it on the way. The SWR is as follows, no ATU:

Band
20m
17m
15m
12m
10m

SWR
1.6
1.2
<1.1
1.6
1.5

The antenna is also quite broadband. The measurements above are for the entire band, from start to end.

I’m going to try and tune this antenna a little further, and see if I can lower the SWR on the 20 meters (and maybe 12) a bit more, but knowing a trap antenna is far from ideal, this may be as good as it gets.

Hopefully, by adding a little height to the equation, this antenna will improve further and suffice for the higher bands once the spring sets in for real. 10 meters is still on fire from time to time, I picked up VK3 on FT8 yesterday morning, using this antenna.

Baltic SSB and accidental DARC 10m

This was my first contest weekend of 2022, and I was taking it easy with the goal of attending the Baltic SSB contest only. This is a 80m/40m contest, and since I don’t have a good antenna for 80m at home I used the LA2T club shack and used the opportunity to QRO.

The Baltic SSB contest started out nicely, and I noted 134 QSOs. The propagation was allright and I can only blame myself for not logging more – the contest started early in the morning and I’m not a morning person.

Anyway, the contest was over and just for fun I decided to switch over to 10m in case the band was open. I usually do this by listening around 28.074 at first, in case any FT8 activity can be heard. If you can’t hear FT8, you sure as hell can’t hear SSB. To my surprise many stations were active. So many, in fact, that I decided to turn the knob to the SSB portion of the band and check if anyone was active there. What do you know, a few stations could be heard — but they all called “CQ contest.”

I checked contestcalendar.com and it turned out a short 2-hour German sprint contest was on, DARC 10m, and it had started just over half an hour earlier. I thought to my self, what the heck, might as well log some 10m while there’s an opening. It’s not everyday business to work the 10m band in January from mo location. Since they all heard me so well, I found myself calling CQ just a few minutes later. A pileup quickly appeared out of nowhere, and it just kept on going.

Interestingly though, and a bit counter-intuitively, a pileup isn’t necessarily synonymous with more contacts. In fact, it gets increasingly difficult as the pileup grows; catching a full callsign on the first try can be challenging. I logged 166 QSOs on the 10m band in the middle of a cold January month, and that was all the reward I needed.

The 10m band is full of surprises, so checking it every now and then is definitely worth the effort.

Happy new year

2021 is over, and let’s take a look at what happened, and what we have ahead of us for 2022!

Looking back through my contest QSOs, I found that I’m just shy of 10k QSOs from various contests, for my own log, and my club’s. I have no intentions of letting my foot of the accelerator yet, and will try my best to beat that in 2022.

As for expeditions, I managed to visit Svalbard and Faroe Islands in 2021, despite Covid-19 and travel restrictions. My nose might not forgive me for all the tests I’ve been through, but I think it’s definitely worth it.

Now, for 2022, I still have Jan Mayen planned, which will require most of my energy in terms of preparations, planning, buying equipment and so on. I’ve saved 10 vacation days from 2021 for this trip, so I can take some extra time off without spoiling all the planned holidays for my family.

Speaking of family holidays, my XYL suggested the other day that we celebrate next x-mas in Australia, and who am I to turn that offer down. I’ve visited VK twice before, but that was long time before I got my amateur licence. For this trip I might be QRV from VK4 and VK6, and maybe even ZL. If time and money permits, a short stay on Lord Howe Island VK9L will be considered, too. Anyway, time will show however I’m not confident enough to put anything down in stone yet, as this is mostly talk and vague plans at the moment. Fingers crossed.

In summation, 2021 was a great year, but 2022 will be better!

Stay tuned and I’ll see you in contests.. 73 de LB5SH Stian

Jan Mayen 2022

Today I signed up for a boat ride from Svalbard to Jan Mayen in late June, 2022. The entire journey is expected to last about 15 days, whereas 4-5 days will be spent on the island where I will operate as JX/LB5SH.

Jan Mayen, image courtesy of Google Maps

This was originally planned as a multi-op operation, but then Covid-19 happened, things got put on hold, plans were changed, offers expired – you get the picture

Since this is one man mission, I was dependent on someone crazy enough to set sail for Jan Mayen with me. I was lucky enough to stumble across a team of mountaineers who’s looking to climb the Beerenberg volcano. With a second shot within reach I signed up as soon as possible. I will spend my time on land operating radio, and the base camp will be in either Kvalrossbukta or Båtvika, depending on the weather conditions at the time of arrival.

My goal is to bring two complete radio stations with me. Firstly, to be able to run FT8 and SSB simultaneously, and secondly to have a backup just in case something should fail underway. The mantra here is that there are no spare parts available once we’ve set sail from Longyearbyen. Double-check everything, and then double-check it again. And then again.

I’ll fill you in on more details as soon as they are available. Equipment like radios and antennas are still to be decided. There’s a metric tonne of things to be planned and organized the next few months, so stay tuned.

Asking for help sucks. However, this operation is financially exhausting for just one man, and I need all the help I can get. Individuals, groups, companies are all welcome to chip in.
Please consider donating and supporting me by spreading the word!

PS: At the time of writing this on November 26th 2021, tickets are still available. If you are an adventurous radio operator keen on operating from JX, then feel free to contact me.

CQWW SSB 2021

I joined my group, LA2T, for the CQWW SSB contest this year. Along with three other operators we logged about 2,500 QSOs as LN2T. We had some unfortunate communication problems and planned poorly, so our stations were unmanned for several hours in the middle of prime time, so we missed out on a metric tonne of precious log entries. At the end of the day it was a decent result and in fact turned out to be the all-time high for my club, in this contest.

The condx were so-so, but Sunday evening 40m opened up great for us and I managed to reel in a decent pileup. I pushed myself to an average of 7 QSOs per minute for a long period. That’s approximately 8.5 seconds per exchange — needless to say, my mouth dried out and my ears still hurt from all the QRM! It was worth it, what an adrenaline rush when everything just “works” and the points keep rolling in.

The next big test for LA2T will be CQWPX in March 2022, we’ll make sure everything runs smoothly by then.

SAC SSB

This weekend I worked the Scandinavian Activity Contest (SAC) SSB on behalf of my club, LA2T. We were mainly two operators, with the exception of one extra guy helping out a few hours he had spare. Together we managed to log 972 QSOs for LN2T. My personal goal was 1000 in total, that’s close enough for me to call it a win.

All in all a good and fun contest, however I’m a little surprised and, to be honest, a little disappointed that there weren’t more Scandinavian stations involved. You could tell by the serial numbers returned by the DX stations; most reports were in the 40-50 range. I’m under the impression there weren’t many exceeding 100, and only a handful above 2-300. This could be explained by poor overall conditions for low powered stations. After all, our amplifiers got pretty hot running close to 1kW all the time.

Bad condx or not, we managed to log VK and ZA on 15m, ZL and BA on 20m which is a bit unusual for us and always bring a smile to our face. Even the 10m band surprised us with a couple of nice openings to EA8 and RA.

CQWW RTTY

Just a quick update regarding the CQWW RTTY contest. I tried my best but many hours had to be invested in house chores and other miscellaneous family duties. You know the saying: happy wife, happy life. I managed to log 221 QSOs from my QTH, peaking 100W using an EFHW tossed up in a tree. If only I had a bit more time I could have taken advantage of the 15m openings and probably doubled my score. Oh well – next time.

RTTY contesting is quite enjoyable. Even though it’s digital, it requires a lot of operator interaction, unlike the FTx modes.

I also got a good chance at using my KL405V power amplifier again, after repairing it recently (link). I must say it’s now performing better than.. ever, I think. Even though I didn’t push it beyond 100W this weekend, I’ve done some tests on FT8 at 200W and it just eats it. I should be able to pull 400W SSB from this, so I might try that at the next opportunity.