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The VP6R DXpedition is now history with 82,700 Q’s in the log. We had excellent weather for dismantling our stations & antennas. We have just finished packing everything for the return trip home. The Braveheart is transporting us to Mangareva tomorrow. It will then go on to Punta Arenas, Chile, transporting some equipment we used for the South Orkney DXpedition.

The oldest Pitcairn resident passed away yesterday. We attended the funeral this morning. He was laid to rest right next to Tom Christian, VP6TC. It was a very moving experience.

We have helped two local hams get back on the air. Meralda Warren, VP6MW, has a new 40/30/15M vertical and is set up now to operate FT8. Mike Warren, VP6AZ, has a repaired vertical and new beam. They are both on the air again! VP6MW called CQ just once using FT8 on 15M. She had an instant pileup. I guess there is still a need for VP6 Pitcairn even after VP6R went QRT!

We still miss Ralph, K0IR, who did almost all of the organization and preparation for the VP6R DXpedition, but was unable to go at the last minute. I stepped in literally 5 days before leaving home. The success of VP6R is almost solely due to the details Ralph planned for. If there was ever a DXpedition on autopilot, VP6R was it. THANKS, Ralph!!!!

Thanks to everyone who worked us to make the VP6R DXpedition such a success at the bottom of the sunspot cycle.

Visit www.pitcairndx.com for QSLing details. It will be at least 7-10 days before most of the team gets home. OQRS will be activated then and is the best way to receive a QSL card. Eventually our entire log will be uploaded to LoTW. QSL via K9CT.

OCTOBER 31

This morning we passed 80,000 contacts. Both the upper bands and the lower bands have had good propagation. The team spirits have been high as the pileups continue. Many all-time new ones are in the logs.

We were QRT for two hours this morning to completely dismantle and pack up the stations and antennas at the old Radio Site. The view from there is breath-taking, with a 360 degree view of the ocean from 900 feet above sea level! The propagation was also breath-taking from there!

The DX Engineering team did an incredible job fabricating our 90-foot 160M antenna. It went up and came down easily. The DX Engineering falling derricks for the yagi masts made raising and lowering (and repairing) the yagis very easy. There will be pictures on our website.

We are back on the air at our base camp 40-10 meters for another 24 hours before we must QRT to pack up for catching the Braveheart.

OCTOBER 30

We have now confirmed that VP6R has been “pirated” on FT8 causing confusion with missing QSOs in Club Log. Please know if your FT8 QSO does NOT now show up in Club Log, you have worked a pirate…and we do NOT have “Slim’s” logs.

OCTOBER 29

We had a very successful night on 160M with over 500 contacts using FT8 last night. We have two more nights of operation on 160 & 80 meters before we must take down our antennas. We will have 24 more hours of operation on 40-10M from our base location on Pitcairn. Tonight (starting 0100Z 30 Oct) we will be on 160 & 80M CW. The last night (starting 0100Z 31 Oct) we will be using FT8 on 160 & 80M. We will be on 1.836 MHz (or 1.832 if busy) until 0800Z. At 0800Z we will be on 1.908 MHz until sunrise.

OCTOBER 28

We just finished working in the CQWW SSB Contest and made about 8500 SSB contacts on 160-10M. We had a lot of fun giving out a rare multiplier! Several worked us on all six bands. The VP6R team wants to thank everyone for working us during the contest. We hope you had as much fun as we did despite the challenging propagation conditions. We will now resume our regular DXpedition operations.

We now almost 60,000 contacts in Club Log with 4-5 full days of operation left.
We have had reports of several FT8 contacts not being uploaded to Club Log. We carefully documented a long session of FT8 and noted the stations that did not show up in “Fox.log” window, the log that FT8 creates in the Fox/Hound mode. We found about 1-2 “missing” contacts per hour. There is another text file that FT8 creates while running AND WE FOUND THE MISSING CONTACTS. One of our team members has written a program to extract them and add them to log database. The FT8 development team is now aware of this issue and this will be addressed in future releases. Summary: IF you have seen us send “YOURCALL RR73”, you can rest assured you ARE in the log and your contact WILL be
uploaded to Club Log. Give us some time after we go QRT to extract and add the missing contacts to our logs.

Credit: SM5AQD

We will have one more night on 60M this date (Oct 28) starting at about 0400Z. We will be on 5.357 MHz with FT8 F/H mode. We will NOT have any RTTY operation on this DXpedition. We will continue to operate FT8 until we go QRT.

We have had several days of torrential rain with high winds. Some wind gusts were recorded over 100mph. We have had damaged antennas, which, fortunately, have all been relatively easy to fix. The weather is starting to improve, but we are also near the beginning of the rainy season. Today we have had sunshine, then downpours, then sunshine. Repeat every 5 minutes. We can attest to the fact that Pitcairn boasts of “the world’s friendliest mud.”

We have two operation sites. The remote old Radio Site where all of the low band operation has taken place, will be dismantled after local sunrise on October 31. The next morning, November 1, we will be totally QRT and dismantle everything at our base location. Everything must be packed and stored. Some of the equipment we have used needs to be loaded onto the Braveheart for the South Orkney DXpedition. We depart Sunday, November 3, on the Braveheart.

Credit: VP6R team

OCTOBER 25

As of 0000Z this date, we have approximately 47,000 contacts in the log.

Late yesterday we were hit with a tropical storm with torrential rain and gale force plus winds. We had several antennas come down, but they are repairable and will be back up when it is safe to go outside, probably not until tomorrow morning.

We have had great band conditions from 160 to 10 meters. We had a very successful night on 60M 5.357 MHz two days ago and will be on again. We are using FT8 in Fox/Hound mode.

We have been working a lot of FT8 on all the bands (except 160M) and find that this “weak” signal mode is putting a lot of new and unique callsigns into the log, proving that this mode is valuable for a great many! Most DXpeditions, including VP6R, are using FOX/HOUND MODE. If you are not in F/H mode when you call us, it will be impossible to make contact. MAKE SURE THE RADIO TAB HAS SPLIT SELECTED and you have selected HOUND MODE ON THE ADVANCED TAB !!!!!

If the Hound is using the wrong software version, it does not respond properly to the Fox. The message formats are not compatible. The Fox will call the Hound three times and then they are dropped without making a successful contact.

Summary for a successful FT8 contact:

MUST use WSJT-X version 2.1.0 Any other version is INCOMPATIBLE!

MUST be in F/H mode

MUST be in SPLIT mode (in WSJT-X program, NOT your radio)

MUST set your transmit frequency ABOVE 1000 Hz

When conditions are good and everyone has FT8 set up properly, we have seen peak rates over 1000 contacts/hour and often sustained rates of 400 contacts/hour from a single station! And, yes, it is possible for one person to operate two stations at once. We do it often.

We will be on 160M with FT8 starting 0000Z, Tuesday, October 29. Frequency – 1.836 MHz. Mode: FT8 FOX/HOUND. Depending upon success, we might spend additional time in that mode on 160M.

We have had two successful schedules with the Dorothy Grant Elementary School (K6DGE) in Fontana, California. It has been fun to chat with the kids and answer questions. We love their enthusiasm!

We will be temporarily shutting down about 2200Z on Friday to prepare for the CQWW SSB Contest. We will be in the Multi/Multi category on all bands. If you need VP6 Pitcairn Island on SSB, look for us in the contest this weekend.

After the contest we will be back in “DXpedition mode” until October 31. That is when we must start dismantling to get ready to meet the Braveheart which will take us to Mangareva for the weekly flight back to Papeete, French Polynesia, and then to our homes.

Our next news will come after the CQWW SSB Contest.

Picture gallery courtesy Andy Christian, resident of Pitcairn Island.

OCTOBER 23

Things are going well with the remaining team and the propagation has been wonderful to just about everywhere. We have had a lot of activity on 12M and some on 10M, including more EME contacts. We now have about 35,000 contacts in the log after 4½ days of operation.

There are more FT8 contacts that have not been updated into our N1MM logging program. Some of the computers will not as yet add FT8 contacts to the N1MM log, but hopefully we can find a work-around to get this done. IF you see your FT8 contact confirmed with “RR73,” you can be assured that you are IN the log, even though it won’t show now on Club Log. They will be merged from the WSJT log at some point.

If you operate FT8, PLEASE READ THE MANUAL FOR WORKING US IN FOX & HOUND MODE!!! We see MANY calling us using a frequency below 1000 Hz. We can see you but the FT8 software does NOT see you. You MUST use a frequency above 1000 Hz to work us. We are transmitting usually somewhere below 500 Hz. The software will move your transmit frequency down automatically when your turn comes up in the queue…..IF you have F/H mode set up properly. When conditions are good, we can work 300-400 stations/hour. Our peak rate with one station today was an incredible almost 900/hour!

Our last antenna went up today for 60M and we will be QRV tonight and in the future on 5.357 FT8 F/H mode. We are limited to 100 watts and must be in satellite phone contact with New Zealand and to QRT if there is any interference to primary users of the frequency.

We will continuously have at least one station active on 20M throughout our stay to hopefully provide a chance for everyone to make an all time new country contact.

We will be entering the CQWW SSB Contest this weekend on all bands. There will be some operation on the CW bands and WARC bands during the contest.

Our pilots are your contact points. We are aware of many “complaints” about this or that issue with the logs. These will all be corrected with time. If you have any doubts, please work us again if you did not show up in the log. Please use our pilots for reporting band opening times and long path openings to help us be there so we can get you in the log. This is the purpose of the pilot program.

Our evacuated team member has made it to the hospital in Papeete, French Polynesia. Thanks for your prayers and concerns. All family members are aware, but for privacy, we will not release a name here. The weather is fine without rain…..yet. Today we watched the spring arrival of the whales for the season from our operating chairs. Spectacular!!!

OCTOBER 21

Credit: VP6R

The Braveheart anchored just off Pitcairn Island at dawn, Thursday, October 17. After customs & immigration, the team was transported to the home of Andy Christian where all of the equipment was waiting for us. This equipment arrived about 6 weeks prior to our arrival.

The steep dirt roads were very muddy from lots of recent rain and had our equipment not been pre-positioned, we would have been delayed by several days getting all stations on the air.

By the end of the first day we had antennas up and four stations QRV at Andy’s house. The next morning (Friday) everyone moved to the old Radio Site to set up more antennas and stations. This is our primary low band site. The DX Engineering 160M falling derrick vertical is almost full-size and generated huge pileups that night, with 700 stations in the 160M log!

Credit: VP6R

Saturday morning left just a couple more antenna projects to finish and by late morning everything was set up and we settled into our operating routine.

Pitcairn has power from 8 am until 10 pm. After 10 pm we switch to generators until morning. The Radio Site is 100% generator powered.

As of about 2400Z Sunday, we have over 16,000 Q’s in the logs, including several 6M EME contacts. We are down to 12 operators today.

One of the team members fell, suffering several fractures. A supply ship was leaving today and he is being evacuated to Mangareva and on to Papeete. Naturally we are all disappointed with this situation, but medically it is in everyone’s best interest. DXpeditions to remote places are not without risk and medical care is quite limited at best.

Credit: VP6MW

The weather has been very cooperative with pleasant temperatures. When it rains, which is often, the dirt roads become “the world’s friendliest mud,” as the residents call it, making travel between the two sites somewhat treacherous.

We will have a station on 20M continuously, often with more than one mode, with the goal of giving Pitcairn Island a new one to everyone.

The Flex Radios are working extremely well. With good conditions, at times we have been able to sustain nearly 400 Q’s/hr with FT8 Fox & Hound mode, working five stations simultaneously! Logs are periodically uploaded to Club Log during the times we have “commercial” power on the island.

OCTOBER 19 – 160m antenna up and running. Antenna pic by Nodir, EY8MM.

Credit: VP6R

OCTOBER 18 @ 0145Z – VP6R is QRV

(Credit SM5AQD)
Credit: VP6R

OCTOBER 17 @ 2000Z – Team on island, setting up.

OCTOBER 17 @ 1430Z – VP6R team anchored offshore.

OCTOBER 16 @ 2100z – Approaching Pitcairn Island.

OCTOBER 16 @ 1000z – Team approx 250 miles from Pitcairn. Tracker

OCTOBER 14 @ 1945z — VP6R team at Papeete airport. Next stop Mangareva island.

VP6R team at Papeete airport. Next stop Mangareva island. (Picture credit SM5AQD for DX-WORLD)

OCTOBER 14 @ 0700z — Team now arrived Tahiti, French Polynesia.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Great time as this DXpedition come to a close. Proves the band are not dead, at least to Wisconsin. 20 qsos in their log so far. Didn’t need Pitcairn, did it for the fun and it was. Great ops, great signals.
    Thanks for a great time with this great hobby of ham radio. Got to find some of that Tui beer…

  2. Thank you very much for your wonderful DX-Pedition.
    Before October 30, October 31 160 / 80m, CW, FT In relation to QSO,
    HL(Korea) can only QSO between 1800 ~ 1825KHz and 3500 ~ 3550KHz by law.
    If possible, please contact us at 1822KHz and 3529KHz..
    I wish you all a safe return home.
    73

  3. I prefer not to add 1 more email to the I guess already exploding VP6R mailbox. I have a particular interest in how the VP6R team got their time synchronization organized for their FT8 work. I know there’s internet on the island, question is whether it’s reliable, available 24/7 and fast enough (i.e. no significant time delay) so as not to cause time sync issues.
    I’d be much obliged if someone of the VP6R crew could provide me with valuable input on this.
    Thank you.

    73, good DX
    Gust ON6KE

  4. The VP6R operators, gear and antennas have done a super job (especially with propagation being so poor) of giving me QSO’s on 30, 20, 17 and 15 meters where the station here is just a K2 @ 50 W and an inverted V. Now if I can just work them on 40 and maybe even 80 meters it would be a real thrill. Thanks guys VERY much!

  5. 20m SSB today… They were working Scandinavia, no mess, nice and smooth. Than someone put it on the cluster and zoo started. From rate 6qso/min went down to 1qso/3 min. Guys think before spotting.

  6. Ah yes, all the essentials for a DXPedition: generators, fuel, antennas and masts, Flex radios, ACOM amps, the DX Engineering 160 vertical, Yagis — everything … and cases of Tui beer.

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