7QNL and … Michael Jackson!!

Malawi is a religious country. Around 85% of the people are christian, and perhaps the remaining part is moslim. People who know me a bit better know that I do not believe
everything people say to me… but .. what I experienced yesterday (June 5th) was

It started at a petrol station in Zomba. I took this (see below) picture:
You believe this slogan, or not …

We were next to fill up, and … out of the blue Michael Jackson appeared!
Michael Jackson is alive! In .. Zomba, Malawi!

As a real paparazzi I took this selfie:
7QNL and Michael Jackson v2.0: “Don’t stop ’till you get enough”

7QNL QRX and some tech talk

Today we depart to Salima (next to the lake) and hope to return June 7th around 1300 UTC. I.e. until this estimated time of arrival at the 7QNL QTH there will be no operation.
Yesterday propagation was good. Surprisingly I made quite a few contacts on 12m, even
working Joe 7Q7BP!
RTTY, as already mentioned, works very well and at least Malawi disappears from the 100% needed list on ClubLog concerning 12m RTTY ;- )

I had some requests for 10, 15, and 40m.. The first week (and CQ WPX contest) I was active on these bands. However, last week I replaced the antennas for WARC ones (12, 17 & 30m). I kept 20m alive. Please try to work Ken 7Q7GIA on 10, 15, and 40m instead.

Despite lack of output power (my strategy was to make it for YOU are easy as possible to work Malawi, i.e. producing a good signal abroad) due to the collapse of my SSPA power supply, the pile ups keep coming and coming. On 30m I worked a disproportional amount of JA’s, and … they keep coming ; -)
Output power on 30m is around 65W, but..  I miss the PA ;- )

Below the calculated radiation patterns of the 30m VDA above average ground (0.005/13):
Radiation pattern of the 30m VDA (left 2D, right 3D, click on images to enlarge in a new tab).

Although asking for ‘NA’ sometimes, the amount of responses and signal strengths are low. This morning (June 5th) I worked quite a few NA stations on 30m though.

Although having brought the last MASTER.DTA, my log is full of calls not in ‘the database’. Therefore I have to rely on what I hear in the air, and may sometimes ask for a confirmation in case of weak or QRM’d signals.

Because the pile ups are huge, and I QSX after almost every QSO, most of the times I get portions of the calls. Instead of waiting for another call of the specific caller, I transmit these partials. This is a deliberate strategy to let the crowd know I’m alive and to work
everyone as fast as possible. It takes less time to TX a partial (with one extra over, yes…)
then waiting for the same station to call again, is my experience in ‘the beehive’ (also
during contests btw).

Internet remains unpredictable and slow, but we do the best we can to update everything.
Every day I try to upload the last masterlog to Alex, which he publishes on this site/ClubLog.

To have an idea what kind of internet we have, see picture below (with the RTT’s, when present ;- ) (click to enlarge in a new tab):

When returning Saturday I have one afternoon, evening and morning to operate, because Sunday we have to dismount the antennas. Monday morning is our departure.

Thus .. one more day 7QNL to come on 12, 17, 20 , and 30m!

73, Remco 7QNL / PA3FYM




Day 13 Zomba again

Today we woke up early, we are getting used to it. Remco started to explore his power supply but found out it was really broke. Trying to repair it he blew a few fuses (these are inside the power plugs, English version in Malawi). We returned our rental car and went to the market to get some new fuses, buy some vegetables and buy the things on the shopping list Felista gave us. Driving our way to Zomba, on my own in my aunt’s car ;-), I noticed that they did a great job working the road to Zomba. Every time we pass it, it looks like nothing much happens but after a few days of absence the progress is clearly  visible.
The road construction is very different, of course, from the way we are used to. The trees are pulled down and the wood will be used.


trees down

The rocks are being prepared for the road by someone who sits on it and uses his hammer to turn the rocks into shape.

stenen Continue reading

Day 12 Back ‘Home’

truck for president

Malawian in truck

Again an early morning for us. We wanted to leave early back to Mpalaganga because  Remco ‘needed’ 😉 to rearrange the antennas. We left Majete before 8 o’clock and arrived in Blantyre around nine. Malawi has a new president and we found out very soon that today was a big day for Malawi. There was an inauguration event for the president at the stadion in Blantyre. We saw many many Malawian traveling to Blantyre, by  car, by minibus, by foot but mostly by truck. They were all wearing clothes with pictures of the president, singing and shouting happily. It was special to see this event. (We were told to expect some riots because of the elections, but this was something else)

Seeing the happy people in the streets to Blantyre is a bit of a contrast for us as we remember our discussions with the Malawians we met. They have been telling us that they do not expect much from the new president. If changes of importance could really happen this is not the president to be. But seeing all the smiling people gave an energetic boost for us, and I hope especially for them,  so maybe this will be a good start for Malawi.

Arriving at Mpalaganga we directly Continue reading

Good news and bad news…

Good news: when we returned yesterday we modified the 10 and 15m VDA’s into 12 and 17m. The 40m deltaloop was replaced by a 30m VDA (!) The antennas perform very well.
During my first stints on 17m I faced ‘the mother of all pile ups’ in SSB. Incredible…

Bad news: it appears that the switching FETs in my 48V power supply broke.
As a result 7QNL has around 10 dB less output :- (

(Unfortunately) broken 48V power supply… No replacement FETs  :- (

Although having less output (around 60W) I encountered a huge pile up (of JA’s) on 30m.

30m VDA @7QNL (top is ~16.3m high)


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