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!

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.

Takk, Føroyar!

The trip to OY is over, and the experience was a roller coaster like no other. But, before I begin, I’d like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who contacted me during the stay, and a thanks for every QSO made. I worked FT4, FT8, SSB, and CW as much as I could between eating, showering, and sleeping.

Friday morning (and I really mean morning) I got up at 03:00 and headed to the airport to catch the first plane to Bergen, Norway. After arrival and waiting for several hours in Bergen, it turned out my next flight to Faroe Islands was cancelled due to fog and terrible landing conditions. A new flight was scheduled the next day, meaning I’ve lost one full day of radio operations! I’m by no means a math surgeon, but 1 out of 3 days is a noticeable loss.

All passengers were moved to a nearby hotel, and I tried my best to be QRV from there but there were absolutely no possibilities to hang an antenna there. Believe me, I tried!

The next day we went back to the airport and started flying to FAE as planned. After a couple of hours and a few power naps, we landed safely on Faroese ground. Time was running fast, and I had to move quickly to make it to the SAC CW contest in time!

I picked up my rental car and headed for Tòrshavn, which was a 45 minute drive away. My hotel, Hotel Tòrshavn, was easy to find and as soon as I had checked in I started looking for a good location for my antenna. The staff was extremely helpful and friendly, and I am very pleased with their hospitality.

After scouting for a good antenna spot, I noticed the office building behind the hotel had a flag pole in the back yard. Since it already was Saturday and after closing hours, I took a chance and carefully borrowed it to raise my EFHW. I stretched out a couple of radials was finally QRV! I also discovered that the said building had brass rain gutters. Needless to say, they came in quite handy as counterweights later on!

I started out carefully with a little FT8, just to test the conditions and watch pskreporter.info for propagation. The first contact lived up to his name – DJ1ST – he was indeed first.

From this point on, I ran as much FT8, CW, and SSB as I could. The working conditions were quite challenging, especially at night time. 40m and 80m was saturated with S9+ noise day and night, so working SSB was a no-go, with only a couple of exceptions. FT8 happily ate every band I threw at it. After sunset absolutely all bands died out, which gave me a perfect opportunity to catch some sleep.

I also got to visit OY6FRA and met with OY6OF Ólavur who showed me around and let me try running from their shack a little bit. Unfortunately fror me, the conditions were not the best at that time, so I wasn’t able to work many stations. Thanks anyways Ólavur, we’ll stay in touch and I will come back!

Late Sunday night (or should I say early Monday morning?) I dismantled the antenna, packed up, and caught a well-deserved three and a half hours of sleep before heading back to the airport. We had some hefty turbulence taking off, in a couple of the “drops” we experienced I was literally weightless, hanging only from the seat belt.

On my way home yet another flight was cancelled for reasons unknown. My flight was rebooked into a new tight schedule, involving running from gate to gate, pulling 30kg+ with equipment and had to be checked in for every flight. Boarding passes suddenly expired, booking references got deleted, and many other sweat-and-panic inducing experiences hailed over me. But you know the saying; what doesn’t kill you only leaves you traumatized and scarred for life, so I lived to tell the tale and got back home, only a few hours later than planned.

I’ve just uploaded my logs to QRZ.com and LoTW, and the total count is 600 – a nice, even number. It could have been much more under better working conditions, but I’ll save that for the next time.

Once again, thanks to everyone who worked OY/LB5SH, thanks to all CW operators who patiently QRSS’d to get the QSO through, and to everyone I met and bumped into during my stay on the Faroe Islands!

Already working on the next trip, so stay tuned…

Flight cancelled, postponed a day

My flight from Bergen to Faroe Islands was cancelled and postponed due to heavy fog. The airline company will give it another try tomorrow morning.

This unfortunately means I’ve lost one day of preparations (setting up the equipment, warming up) before the SAC CW kicks in.

For now I’m stuck in a hotel in Bergen, but I will try to be a little QRV while waiting, just for the heck of it.

Covid negative, let’s go

Today I took yet another Covid-19, this time the variant which includes all the official paperwork required for international flights. The test results were negative, so OY/LB5SH is on schedule. I’ve also booked a rental car and have packed my bags – the luggage is borderline overweight, let’s hope it slips through.

OY preparations

These days I’m preparing for the OY mini expedition. Just to spice things up, I recently received a notification from the airline that they’ve changed my flight schedule. My heart raced, but it turns out the plane is now taking off two hours earlier than planned. Other than getting up two hours earlier, I’m still on the schedule. I’ll stock up on those energy drinks the kids sip on these days.

Radio: I’m probably bringing my FT-950. It’s not the most convenient rig to run around with, but I know the radio inside out. I’m considering purchasing a smaller radio, but it takes time familiarizing with it, and I’m afraid the time running out.

Antenna: I’m bringing a EFHW 80-6m antenna and a spiderpole. As a backup I’m also bringing an soldering iron, a spool of wire and a couple of SO239’s. I also spoke with the hotel manager, and have received permission to mount the antenna on the roof of Hotel Tórshavn. The staff have been extremely helpful and welcoming all the way; I highly recommend their services the if you’re ever in town!

PA: I have received a new set of transistors but still not found the time to do the job. I’ve asked a good friend and highly competent electronics engineer at my local radio club to help me out, and we’re half way there. Hopefully it will be done in time, and I’ll have 2-300 watts more to play with. I will bring a backup PA if I get the chance.

COVID-19 test: I’ve booked a test to be taken less than 24 hours prior to take-off. Even though I’m fully vaccinated, the number of infections are increasing, so I figured I’m better off with one test too many, rather than watching the airplane taking off, form the ground. It’s 1200 NOK and five seconds of discomfort, worth it.

Language: They speak Faroese, Danish, and English, so language shouldn’t be a problem. English will be a good safety net when everything fails. I’m comfortable with speaking and understanding Danish (because Norwegian is pretty much just Danish, just pronounced right). Lika stuttligt: eg tosi eitt sindur føroyskt!

If time allows it I will rent a car and explore the island a bit. Maybe even pop over and visit OY6FRA, if they’re open.

RSGB IOTA from Herøy

I recently spent three weeks in Herøy, Norway, combining the family’s summer vacation with a little participation in the RSGB IOTA contest. I was active as LC1R from a small island named Øksningan in IOTA EU-062.

I had to work barefoot this time, as my PA needed a bit of TLC, and to top it all there were challenging working conditions, so I only landed a modest 161 QSOs. There were still many vacation days left, and outside contests I worked a few hundred more on SSB and FT8 with my primary callsign, LB5SH.

Oh, and I also participated in the RSGB FT4 contest, and tried my best in the Russian WW MM, but they were merely “bonus contests” and the effort was low, relaxed.

The antenna of choice this time was an EFHW, gracefully lended to me by my friend LB6VI Sanimir. As a ground reference I simply hooked it to a cow fence (not the shocking type) and that worked surprisingly well. When the conditions were up I was able to work the entire world on FT8, all the way from west coast USA to Australia. Not half bad for a string of wire stuck to some random farmer’s fence.

The scenerey in Herøy, or in Helgeland in general, is simply breathtaking. Love this place, and can’t wait to be QRV from JP66ca again.

CQWPX from JW Svalbard

In late March I was active from Svalbard, Norway, in order to attend the CQWPX SSB contest as JW2T. Outside the contest periods I could be heard as JW/LB5SH on SSB and FT8.

It really started as a coincidence, as I stumbled across JW5E‘s website and found that their booking calendar was not checked for the CQ WPX dates. I cross-checked with a couple of airlines, found some decent prices and booked everything before I had the chance to reconsider.

Upon arrival I was welcomed in person by JW4PUA Sander, who introduced me to the JW5E shack and all its bells and whistles. Shortly after a familiar face showed up, JW7QUA Peter and chimed in with good and friendly advice. They were both extremely friendly and welcoming, and gave me invaluable advice regarding the conditions, and how to work from Svalbard. Turns out, I’m not in Kansas anymore, and things are a bit different up in polar bear land.

Their shack has pretty much everything you need to get started. Their PA systems are not for rent, so bring your own if you need more than 100W. I brought a small 400W transistor PA and it really helped me out a lot, and I recommend anyone going to bring their own. For CW and FT8 you’re good without, but SSB needs a bit more punch.

Here are some of the photos I took during my stay in Longyearbyen.

If you’re ever on Svalbard I highly recommend renting JW5E‘s shack, and no, I’m not paid to say this. Their shack is merely a 5-minute walk from Longyearbyen town centre. It’s well heated, tidy, clean, and equipped with an IC-7300 guest radio with access to good antennas, fast internet connection, and a small but functional kitchen and living room, and almost everything else you might need.

Thanks, guys, I will be back for sure!