FEBRUARY 9 – Following write-up is written by Mats, RM2D on behalf the TI9A team and shared below. Credit TI9A team for pictures also.
“Four exhausted but happy operators arrived safely back to San Jose after the nine day DX adventure (including 2×36 hours boat transfer) to Isla del Coco.
We managed to work 28000+ contacts during 6 days of operation, and considering the challenging circumstances we are very happy with the results. Low Bands were kicking and we managed to work almost 2000 contacts on Top Band, with huge amounts of EU and other DX in the log. 80/40/30 were brilliant as well.
As with all expeditions, there will be people who are very happy, and others who expected more. We are humble enough to acknowledge that any expedition has their successes and less excellent parts.
As we did not have any internet at all during 9 days, we could not get any help from the cluster or from kind hams sending emails. We had to rely on our own belief, what was best for the DX community.
Some issues we would like to clarify:
The initial plan of having a CW/SSB camp on the hilltop above Chatham Bay was a good one. We wanted to separate those modes from FT8, with interference as main reason, and antenna space as the other. Chatham Bay beach location is not intended to accomodate all antennas, due to the jungle terrain.
However, the “road” from the base camp to the hilltop (600 meters of walking and 150 meters of vertical elevation difference), had completely deteriorated and we soon realized that we would not be able to in an energy-economical way transport 2 x 100 kilo generators, 500 litres of petrol, antennas, equipment, food etc there. If we would have decided to do so anyway, we would have lost approximately 2-3 days of the limited days we already had due to licence limitations.
The decision was made to combine CW/SSB with FT8. As you all can understand, this is not ideal due to the planned amount of stationed we intended to launch at the same time. and a VERY narrow and difficult jungle terrain all the way to the beach.
Nevertheless, we managed to get up fullsize antennas for 160-12 meters. All of them proved to work excellently to almost all directions. The only direction with really a drawback in signals were VK/ZL. Sorry for that, but we worked some VKs via Long Path anyway.
Complaints have been raised on our CW focus. The explanation is easy: Our fellow TI9 colleagues (TI9C) had announced a very focused effort on SSB, as they do not seem to operate CW. As we did not encounter them on the vessel to Cocos Island, as expected, we decided not to cannibalize their opportunities for a future SSB expedition. Contradictory to our own assumption, that TI9C would perhaps not appear at all, one well-known and respected source of Daily DX information, insisted few days before our operation, that he was assured through a personal call from that group, that operation still would take place. Due to the uncertainty of that other operation, we took the decision to lower the priority for sideband operation.
Nevertheless, we indeed spent quite some efforts on SSB when we felt conditions were good enough for that, and when we maintained acceptable rates on SSB. When we felt the rate was not at a good level, we simply went to CW to ensure that people could get a chance to at least work us there.
Regarding the FT8 issues we had, what we would like to make people understand that working this mode from a remote island without ANY internet at all, is very different from sitting in the cozy DX corner at home, with broadband Wi-Fi and all other commodities. We had a portable GPS-2-USB device to ensure the synchronization. That procedure needed to be repeated with a few hours of intervall, as we understood gradually. With the extensive use of RF in the place, the GPS signal was heavily affected, and this eventually had a very serious consequence, as our drone, to be used for attaching a 160 meter Inv L wire, started to operate and move without our control. The propeller of the drone unfortunately in high speed hit the finger of Jorge TI2JV, with the result of lots of blood all over… The paramedics in the Ranger team on the other side of the island needed to appear on a Zodiac vessel, evacuate him to the paramedic station and make three stitches on Jorge. It could have ended much worse.
Other comments are referring to the promised 24/7 hours of operation – or what appeared to be a “failure to comply with that promise”… We did indeed take a few small naps in between (on average no more that 2-3 hours per night and person). This was necessary to recover from a very intense antenna setup and walks up to the hilltop in order to evaluate the feasibility to at all work from the hilltop location, made us simply exhausted. Sorry for that guys. However, very few hours were unattended overall and we did utilize the time on the air as much as we could.
More details will follow, but this description should “kill” most of the speculations, and understand a bit better why we did like we did. At last but not least, remember that this island is quite challenging with climate, tidewater, insects, rats (not the small ones you are used to), screaming wild pigs appearing directly at the camp, destroying antennas and whatever. AND, those rats were not only outside our abandoned ranger hut. They were our nightly friends in Cocos Island “Hilton Hotel”.
FEBRUARY 8 @ 23:00Z – Dima, RA9USU informs that the team safely returned to the Okeanos Aggressor on Feb 7 @ 14:00 local. They had to stop operations unexpectedly because the zodiacs came for generators first. He says they are exhausted but happy, and made around 30k QSOs in total with almost 1,800 on 160m and over 3k on 80m. More later upon arrival to mainland Costa Rica.
FEBRUARY 2 @ 00:05Z – TI9A started operations.
TI9A 80 cw pic.twitter.com/MEFkEMCjBt
— ERIC (@F5BZB) February 2, 2020
TI9A 40 CW pic.twitter.com/DGonlAanZR
— ERIC (@F5BZB) February 2, 2020
JANUARY 31 @ 23:10Z – DX-World received a text message from TI9A team to say all well and they were located as per map co-ordinates.
JANUARY 30 – TI9A team are ready for departure later today on Okeanos Aggressor 1, (Puntarenas to Cocos Island). 36 hours on the Pacific Ocean…They may try QRV as /MM but not sure if allowed by captain. Earlier they met officials at PNIC (Cocos Island National Park). Next update probably on February 2nd.
JANUARY 29 – Three tired but happy operators arrived to San Jose, Costa Rica, after almost 30 hours door to door traveling.
All 13 pieces of checked in luggage (Spiderbeam poles, radios, amplifiers, band pass filters etc), through customs with only minor questions.
First team dinner with Jorge TI2JV and his wife Pamela.
Tomorrow will be dedicated for local supplies purchasing, as operating positions lack most necessities apart from shelter from wind and rain.
JANUARY 28 @ 04:00Z – The long journey from Moscow to Cocos Island has started for UA3AB, RA9USU & RM2D. After Amsterdam, next stop San Jose, Costa Rica.
DX-World, as Press Support, will update with any further news from the team.
JANUARY 9, 2020 — Jorge TI2JV, Dmitry RA9USU, Andrey UA3AB and Mats SM6LRR will be active from Cocos Island in early February 2020. They depart Puntarenas onboard the Okeanos Aggressor on January 30th and will QRV as TI9A on all bands/modes.