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In January 2006 Peter/PA8A and Rob/PA3GVI, where invited to experiment with a large

broadcast-antenna at the Radio Netherlands site.

The antenna exist of 2x 4 dipoles between 2x 400 feet towers.

This antenna has about 22 dB gain and an elevation angle of 7 degrees, quite spectacular!

 

 2x 400 feet!!

 

I had been checking the solar flux and A , K index last few days and listened on the band as well.

The predicted numbers for Thursday and Friday where as followed:

 

SFI= 85

A index= 10

K index= 5

 

So, this morning at 01:00 UTC we gathered at Peter's place and after loading the ICOM -7800

we were ready to go.

After about 45 minutes we could see the red warning-lights on the antennas at the horizon.

A technician who had sacrificed his nightrest arrived together with us at the station and

guided us in.

We quickly set a table and installed our Icom-7800 and the laptop for logging and CW.

The connection to the coax was made by a piece of RG-312 with on one end a Pl-259(TRX)

connector and on the other end two crocodile clamps.

Frans, the technician, tuned the big antenna and set the antenna to South America.

 

 Control room.

 

Then we where joined by another station member ( Jan) and after shaking hands and some

coffee we where ready to go.

We found a clear spot on 7050 and after calling CQ there were many stations calling.

The noise level was about S7 and we had trouble copying some stations because of crashes from

nearby power lines (we assumed).

Most of the time it did not dare us because most stations where real 59+20dB, and stronger!

Some of them were using 4 squares, some just a dipole at 5 meter and 50 watts.

Soon stations from Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay were in the log.

 

 CQ DX!

 

After 35 minutes we stopped transmitting to see the 500Kw tube, control-room the cooling system

and the tuning system.

This all looks very impressive and this was just as fascinating as making contacts with the antenna-system.

 

 500Kw !

 

 Peter with a spare.

 

 QRP ?,....never heard of.

 

About half an hour later we were back at 7.050 and more stations from South America came into our log.

We switched operators and Peter had nice QSO's as well into Brazil and Argentina.

After that, Frans slewed the antenna to Central and North-America to see if we could work some of

our Texas friends but unfortunately this angle didn't seem to be open enough at that time.

 

 Antenna-direction indicator.

 

So, after many calls (split of course) without answer we returned to 230 degrees (S-A) which

delivered us a couple LU's again.

Not satisfied with the result on North-America again the antenna was putt in this direction to see if

I could work the area in CW.

NT5O, AJ4DX and K3QZ replayed my call and where quite strong but then it turned quite again

except some European stations who called in.

We don't know if this bad last hour had to be blamed at conditions or just because of the simple

fact that at 05:00 South-America went to bed,hi.

Well not all of them, CE1URJ was still solid 599 in CW!

The last station logged was UT4ZX on the back of the system and so after being on the air three

and a half hour (with station tour included) we had to close our trip at 05:30.

At 06:00 the first shortwave transmission would go on air again to the Middle-East and we

disconnected our equipment to return home again.

We expressed our sympathy to Frans and Jan for being there and giving us this great opportunity.

Even with the actual operating time being eventually very short we were satisfied with the result.

Maybe next time we should go earlier, maybe around 00:00, like we planned to do in the first place,

we will see.

After coming home I questioned myself why we did hear so little North-American stations?

My friend Dick/PA3GLF mentioned some aurora announcements so this could have disturbed

the conditions at some point.

Take a look at the flux and index at 12:57 UTC, maybe this was the reason why conditions went down?

 

SFI= 87

A index= 24 !

K Index= 3

Geomagnetic storms reaching the G2 level occurred.

 

Credits go to Peter for the arranging this trip!

I enjoyed the experiment.

Thanks to the stations replaying our CQ!

 

Enjoy a couple more pictures!