Technical update (2)

We are now in Majete Wildlife Reserve Park and DXing for wild animals.
I encountered several pile ups from impalas and wrathogs. However, rare DX are the rhinos, lions and buffalos. It resembles the 7QNL pile ups: lots of Europeans. The e.g. Americans who come through are very loud and when asked for ‘NA only’ it remains/ed silent.

No rare DX…. (click to enlarge)

Relatively rare DX… (click to enlarge, although this elephant is big enough!)

Propagation is very predictable according to the ClubLog statistics. Below the time slots for every band with peak hours between brackets. Propagation is almost ‘binary’. After a certain time suddenly signals disappear or become very weak.
The first days I had good propagation on 10m. There were time slots I worked NA, EU and JA with big signals.

Propagation time slots (click to enlarge)

I feared a lot of QRN on 40m but… I have to admit, it’s not that worse. From my experiences elsewhere, a ‘closed’ deltaloop is more quiet than an ‘open’ 1/4wl vertical. Besides lowering the noise level, an enormous advantage of the RX-Beverages are their directivities. Giving me the opportunity to notch the Europeans on 40 when listening to NA or JA.

Before I had to return the ground drills, I drilled a new hole so that I can put up another pole easily, resulting in a total amount of five poles (I brought 5 coax cables with me). Plan on monday  is to allocate the four smaller poles for 10, 12, 17 and 20m (discarding 15m).
40m will be converted to 30m.

Thus, focus will be on the WARC bands, as Kenneth 7Q7GIA arrives on May 31st.
He is located in a lodge in the neighborhood of Lilongwe (capital of Malawi).

While writing this, 4NEC2 is busy optimizing a 50 MHz antenna. It seems that building a Yagi with the material available is too much hassle. Plan is to build the antenna, test it, and wait for the SMS’s to arrive when there is propagation.

Concerning 80m… when time allows I give it a try. Although seemingly simple, building a vertical for 80m takes more time than you might think!

Last Thursday (May 29th) I visited MACRA (Malawian Cummunications Regulatory Authority) and had a meet and greet with the licensing officer who issued 7QNL and 7Q0NL to me.

Meet and greet with Chimwemwe (MACRA licensing officer)  (click to enlarge).

Next Monday morning I will have a meeting with the founder of MACRA, nowadays the director of MBC (Malawian Broadcast Company). We’ll talk about spectrum (engineering) issues and other things (ex) directors of Radiocommuncation Agencies talk about.

Alex PA1AW does an outstanding job and acts as pilot. Problem here is to get the information across with slow, or no, internet.

More to follow, now relax and enjoy wild life DXing ;- )

Short technical update

I (Remco) am working on a post with more technical information as
Saskia works on the non technical part. This technical post will be published later.

We had no internet during the last 6 days or so, but now it is up and running (slow).
We forgot to activate a ‘bundle’ of airtime, although we believed to have bought
1024 MB, after 180 MB nothing worked.

The VDA’s work very well, despite it’s back notch we are able to work
‘all around the clock’. The amplifier also puts its 1 BHP (~750W)
on 10, 15, and 20m without problems. Output is limited by the
used (switch mode) power supply, but it’s enough. On 40m,
due to the ferrite, I have 500W max.

Pile ups are huge, but it’s fun and I am not a ’59-only’ type of guy.
Sometimes a little joke or remark puts the crowd at ease : -)

RTTY: I admit, yesterday it was the first time in my ~30 years HAM
experience that I used RTTY (!) And what an experience to be
‘baptized’ with RTTY pile ups!

After 30 mins running RTTY (split) pileups, I learned Saskia how to
do it. It is her first HAM radio experience ever..  and.. she is very skilled!

I filmed her while making a RTTY  QSO with Kees PE5T, my old
room mate while working at the Dutch Radiocommunication Agency.

Tomorrow (May 29th) I will visit MACRA in Blantyre and have a
meet and greet with the licensing officer who issued 7QNL and 7Q0NL to me,
and perhaps shake the Director General a hand.


One week to go!

Alex PA1AW improved the website significantly. Thank you Alex!

Due to limited flights to Blantyre our arrival date will be May 21st, just after the Presidential and local government elections.

We start building up the station near Zomba as soon as possible, focussing on the non-WARC bands first
due to foreseen participation in the CQWPX CW contest. So first 40, 20, 15, 10m,
when time allows 80m too (although much QRN is expected on this latter band
and it’s questionable if it’ll be worth the hassle and efforts).
Depending on the material available a 5el. 6m beam is planned.








Above: View from the Zomba plateau towards Zomba.
(Photo by Dave Appleton, click to enlarge)
Our QTH is located further away on another (small) mountain.

There is still no final information concerning ‘live’ internet. Connectivity may be possible via GSM/UMTS, provided that we are able to obtain proper SIM cards (which can be used in our equipment).

Worst case scenario therefore may be periodically (daily?) uploading our logs from e.g. an internet cafe.

Keep you posted!

Two weeks to go!

Preparations are still pending. Almost all equipment is acquired / home built.
Very likely there are three bamboo poles of sufficient height available.
When more poles are available, the antenna setup between 20 – 10m may change to VDA’s for each band.

‘Live’ internet access remains a challenge but we’ll figure that out.

In the meanwhile a likely candidate for a local project is presented to us.
It involves manufacturing crutches for children after surgery and during rehabilitation by prisoners from a nearby city.


More details on the project will be presented on a separate page. Our goal is to publish pictures of (the initiation and progress of) the project so you can see and verify where your donations went.

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