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Newfoundland DXpedition 7


October 1-17, 1998

by Jean Burnell (with photos by Werner Funkenhauser)

It's also the non-DX that makes a DXpedition memorable. I will long remember the seventh DXpedition at Cappahayden, Newfoundland, for a lot of good DX and the company of friends who are also excellent DX'ers, but my wife recently discovered that the event was also memorable for the populace of Cappahayden. They are convinced, without a shadow of doubt, that in October their quiet community was crawling with spies, coming and going in rental cars at all hours, setting up sophisticated listening equipment, stretching long wires in all directions, and activating all the phones to ring non-stop in the DX Inn.

The spies/DXpeditioners were:
Mark Connelly Billerica, MA - Drake R8A - Oct 1-4
Neil Kazaross Barrington, IL - AOR 7030 - Oct 1-5
Jean Burnell St. John's, NF - Drake R8A & Icom R71A - Oct 1-17
Werner Funkenhauser Guelph, ON - Icom R71A with Plam - Oct 5-11
Alan Merriman Chincoteague, VA - AOR 7030 Plus - Oct 8-15
John Fisher Calgary, AB - Icom R71A - Oct 15-17

Jean Burnell

Mark, Werner, Al, and John have penned their own interesting accounts of this DXpedition. Since these span all eighteen days of the event, it remains for me to deal with only a few important things. I must thank the participants for coming to share the DX. For Neil this was a sixth visit, whereas it was Al's turn to be the Newfoundland rookie. (No, there are no initiation rites involving nudity and shaving cream. Yes, we are indulgent toward a first-timer who is likely to blurt out "Listen to this!!" when he stumbles upon completely routine stations like the 100-watt AFRTS outlet in the Azores.) I am especially grateful to my wife, Stephanie, for allowing me to make her a single parent for two-and-a-half weeks! I think every DXer thought the Cappahayden experience was worthwhile, and really I hope to see them all back here in Newfoundland again.

It seems that at every Newfoundland DXpedition some new piece of DX hardware is introduced that we adopt on subsequent DXpeditions. This year was no exception. Al Merriman brought his version of the K9AY Terminated Loops, and this antenna system certainly impressed me. Although for southern stations the loop did not perform as well as the 1-km Beverage we aimed at eastern Brazil, the loop out-performed the common garden variety Beverages we used for Europe, even in the direction of those Beverages. Furthermore, Al took only thirty minutes to get the loop system set up, and it required only 30-feet square of real estate. Al has now put together a similar system for me, and without a doubt I'll be using it at Cappahayden. The total antenna complement at the DXpedition was:

- Brazilian Beverage: 1 km twin-lead with Byan termination aimed at eastern Brazil. This antenna should also have been effective for south-eastern South America and for southern Africa. Indeed, this Beverage was the one that was responsible for all of my Pan-American DX (excluding domestics).
- Track Wire: 500 m unterminated wire aimed at Venezuela. This wire seemed to yield nothing of interest that was not better on the Brazilian, and it was ineffective for phasing so this wire was hauled in after only a few days.
- Second Southern: 600 m unterminated wire paralleling the Brazilian Beverage. This one was used for phasing, but its main function was as a back-up should the Brazilian Beverage have been lost.
- Europe 1: 600 m terminated wire aimed at northern Europe.
- Europe 2: 550 m unterminated wire paralleling Europe 1. This was also used for phasing against Europe 1.
- K9AY Loops: Al Merriman's system of north-south and east-west delta loops.

Antennas were split four ways using ICE splitters. The Beverages were at various times fitted with Kiwa broadband amplifiers. We used a variety of phasing units (I used mainly a modified MFJ-1026).
What were my DX highlights on medium-wave? "New" countries are fun, so I was very pleased to hear Yemen on 760 kHz. However, for me tough stations are more important than countries, so I will long remember the concentrations of previously unheard (by me) Brazilians (27 stations) and numerous logs of sub-kilowatt British stations. The quality of reception for a number of Greek outlets was remarkable, and it was very exciting to garner the likes of the 10 kW Galei Zahal station from Jerusalem (1404 kHz) and Radio Rosario from Argentina (830 kHz), and Inhambane, Mozambique (1206 kHz). Overall, we heard 100 countries on medium-wave. On short-wave, John Fisher and I logged a station on 6843 kHz that was very likely Hargeisa, Somalia.
Here are more detailed accounts of the DXpedition from Mark, Werner, Al, and John:

Mark Connelly

My fourth DXpedition visit to Newfoundland was brief, but very enjoyable. Three years had passed since my last trip there, and many changes had occurred in my personal life during that time. As I grow older, I look for somewhat different experiences from leisure-time activities. In DXpeditioning, I'm moving away from the notion that the main idea is spending most of the time trying to extract a handful of rare ID's from extremely messy pile-ups of signals. A DXpedition can be an aesthetic experience, a numbers-chase like the ham contests, or some compromise between these two extremes. More often, in addition to the usual goal of amassing a big country total, I'm looking for some cultural content and unique programming. US AM radio has degenerated into a hodge-podge of syndicated talk shows, religious, and ethnic formats. Young people, and even those in their 30's and 40's, find little to get excited about on today's domestic AM dial.

Newfoundland, to a greater extent than even the best US DXing sites, offers a view into a different world, one with a multinational radio dial with programming that uplifts the listener the same way rock stations like WMEX, WKBW, WINS, WABC, and WLS did back in 1961 when I was a 12-year old kid just discovering both the obvious and subtle joys of night-time AM radio.

The aspect of camaraderie and idea-sharing with other participants on a DXpedition has become increasingly important to me. The last two years since my dad died have seen me going to my mother's house on Cape Cod generally twice a month, usually on a Saturday. After I've helped her out, I often stop for a bit of DXing at some beach site along the two-hour 100-mile drive back home. During the warmer months, I occasionally head out to Rockport or Rowley on a weeknight after work to test out some new "DX Lab" gadget. I do most of my DXing alone, from the car. On those few occasions that I'm DXing in the company of others who share the passion for the hobby, conversing with these co-participants becomes as important, or more important, than the actual DX itself. Discussions not only hit the obvious subjects of receivers, antennas, and propagation; but also other shared interests such as music, world cultures, linguistics, travel, politics, books, TV, movies, food, work and family life.

"Newfie 7" started out with a bit of a mishap. The most important piece of my luggage, the suitcase containing my Drake R8A receiver and my phasing unit, did not arrive at the St. John's airport when I landed there on Thursday evening (1 Oct). After I waited there for an hour and filled out some forms, I got my rental car and drove down Route 10 to Cappahayden. As usual, the car radio dial spin en route was fun. RASD Tindouf, Algeria (1550) cranked out some great tunes to liven up the dark drive.

Upon arrival at the "DX Inn" (Lawlor's), I explained the luggage problem to Jean Burnell. Fortunately, he had a spare receiver, his Icom R-71A, available for my use. I was soon digging for DX and renewing acquaintances with Jean. The first thing I usually do is a complete scan of the medium-wave band. Everything heard during this initial bandscan, whether rare or common, whether foreign or domestic, gets jotted down in the logbook. Doing this helps me to "feel out" general band conditions and the similarities (and differences) in reception to at-home DX. Also, it helps me to spot any "oddities": off-channel signals, stations not previously noted, or the absence of something that was formerly common. My arrival time was fairly late, about 10 p.m. local / 0030 UTC. The really prime band conditions are earlier, around local sunset, especially for sought-after Africans. Neil Kazaross arrived during the "wee hours" of Friday morning, I think about 3 a.m., during pouring rain and howling winds.

After everyone had slept till about 10 or 11 on Friday morning, the course of events quickly improved: a courier from Air Canada delivered my lost luggage to the DX Inn. It was time for Neil, Jean, and me to grab some lunch at an excellent local restaurant in Trepassey. As I chatted DX strategy with two of "the best in the business," I enjoyed a fried seafood platter including the local delicacy, cod tongues. Almost as succulent and tasty as the Ipswich clams back home.

A hard thing to contemplate was the struggle of the local population to survive in the face of the vast reduction in the scale of the fishing industry, once the economic mainstay of the area.

Friday afternoon at the DX Inn saw us doing some antenna work in preparation for sunset African DX possibilities that excited us all. Jean installed a Byan terminator on the 1-km Brazilian Beverage. Tests showed that opposite-direction stations (the St. John's locals) could be nulled appreciably as DC voltage on the remote Vactrol was adjusted. I discovered a new "had to get" DX toy, the Kiwa broadband amplifier. It provided good gain, low noise, and no evidence of overload from the local LORAN transmitter.

True to form, bountiful Trans-Atlantic signals appeared well before local sunset. The Brazilian Beverage offered good side rejection of Europeans while allowing signals from Africa to come through. Switching between the European Beverage and the Brazilian (/ African) Beverage often revealed entirely different dominants on the same channels: Vatican or São Tomé on 1530, Spain or Ascension Island on 1485, etc. Portuguese on 1206 was eventually determined to be from Mozambique. For me, the sunset DX was the best ... just as it is at coastal sites in Massachusetts.

Things got more routine as darkness settled in. With skill and enthusiasm, Neil and Jean went after many Brazilians and other deep South Americans. We all enjoyed some incredibly huge signals from Greece and Israel booming in on the European wire.

During the day on Saturday, I wanted to do an accurate groundwave bandscan. Neil and I drove out to Portugal Cove South, between Cape Race and Trepassey near the southeastern corner of the Avalon Peninsula. It's a strikingly beautiful spot with rocky cliffs pounded by heavy surf. It reminded me of western Ireland and of Acadia National Park in Maine. Similar vistas can be enjoyed in Oregon and in New Zealand. The midday groundwave study revealed several Bermuda stations (1160 was best); also, most Boston stations and a number of New York City stations were easily heard on the R8A with two wires (200 m and 100 m) strung out over grass and rocks on top of a high bluff overlooking the Atlantic.

Saturday afternoon was great as Jean's family (wife Stephanie and young children Christopher and Emily) came to the DX Inn to join in on the fun. It was nice to see their enthusiasm for the activities. The coastal Beverages offered all of us a panorama of international AM radio with an intriguing blend of widely-varied music and talk content in many languages. Maybe I'll listen to the blues-like a cappella Berber vocals on Morocco-1044 first, or party to Virgin-1215 blasting in with Inxs doing "Disappear" (reminding me of good old days when US AM'ers featured "Liar Liar," "G-L-O-R-I-A," and similar). Then there's some splendid fiddling from Ireland-567 and the highlife music from the deep Africans ... so many choices! Anyone with an intellectual curiosity about the world would find the array of entertainment and information, all intended for local populations, stimulating.

By midnight, I had to go to sleep so I could get up in the Sunday pre-dawn hours for my drive to the St. John's airport. As I sat back and relaxed on the flight home, I recalled pleasant memories of this excellent Newfoundland DXpedition and those I'd attended in 1991, 1993, and 1995.

Werner Funkenhauser

Werner Funkenhauser

After a somewhat bumpy flight from Toronto to Halifax, the second leg of my trip to Newfoundland was uneventful and on time at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 5. I rented a car at St. John's airport and began a leisurely drive down the coast to Cappahayden. The radio in my little Toyota Tercel was a basic digital set, which didn't allow for split-channel reception. Even so, I heard Spanish

stations on North American frequencies like 530, 1010, and 1600 kHz. For once I was happy to listen to a radio with really poor selectivity. My Newfoundland Seven DXperience had already begun, even as I drove out of St. John's.

At the familiar Lawlor's DX Inn in Cappahayden, Jean Burnell greeted me in his usual friendly fashion. As soon as I was unpacked, he began helping me set up. I brought my trusty Icom R71A, and my MFJ 1025 phasing unit. My other equipment were the usual DXpedition peripherals, including a Sony SW 77 as a backup receiver. Soon I was ready to do some serious DXing, and by 2346 UTC, less than five hours after arriving in St. John's, I had my first Cappahayden '98 log of VOA-Kuwait on 1548.

Jean provided a hit list of earlier Newfoundland DXpedition logs. I brought German DXer Peer-Axel Kroeske's excellent "Strongest 300 Europeans" with me as reference. These resources I used to advantage because as in 1995, there was a plethora of TA and Latin signals wherever I tuned. My Icom's 31 available memories were loaded with main frequencies, which spanned the dial from 531 kHz to 1611 kHz. I could easily scan up-and-down the band, and spent much of the time hopping from one channel to the next, but periodically Jean would call my attention to such-and-such a station.

My DX routine was to begin listening during late afternoon, into the late evenings. I'd sleep for a couple of hours, then go back at it. Once or twice, I also DX'ed just before local sunrise. Jean was a never-ending source of information, and I'm grateful that he'd point out interesting stations, even if many were 'old-hat' to him. In '95, Jean and George Hakiel were 'bird dogging' many of the TA's which we logged. Now I consider myself a pretty good medium-wave DXer, and I've logged my share over time, however, I don't have experience in logging much of the stuff that's heard by coastal DXers like Jean.

Al Merriman joined us on Thursday Oct. 8, and now I had another experienced coastal DXer, whose brain I could pick [Hi!]. Al brought with him, his version of the K9AY Terminated Loops antenna. The performance of this antenna, compared to our Beverages, was exceptional. I could go on about its impressive performance, but I'll let Jean or Al write about that. Sufficient to say that, it wasn't long before the K9AY Loops fed the antenna splitter system, along with the Beverages, and Jean and I also shared in some of the superior performance.

DX aside, going to "away" places is fun just to see countryside and to meet folks. Having a car made it easy. At the rental rate that I had to pay, I was going to use up every one of the 700 "free" km that came with the rental. I twice visited the museum located at the archeological site of Lord Baltimore's 1632 colony at Ferryland. Their dockside café served up the best pea soup I'd ever tasted. The friendly waitress who served me told me the secret of its fine taste was "beef bellies." Elsewhere, they use ham chunks in split pea soup. Yummmm...beef bellies.

I'd spend at least a couple of hours driving about each day, visiting the little communities up or down "The Irish Loop" as Highway 10 was marked. North or south was the only direction I could drive, because there are no roads into the interior of the Avalon Peninsula. But, I did manage to run out of road once or twice in the small communities that I visited. A couple of times I walked the wires with Jean, and also alone. During one such walk, the Lawlor's dog amused us by 'fetching' and carrying in his mouth a fist-sized rock that he'd recovered from the water. He also accompanied me, leading the way along the rocky ocean side, as I checked the 1-km Brazilian Beverage.

I took photos during all of my outings, some of which unfortunately didn't turn out as well as I expected. I was using my wife's little auto-focus Fuji, and my hands might have been a bit shaky. I guess that was from slaving over a hot Icom most of the previous night, or perhaps the odd tot or two, of Newfie Screech, which I occasionally sampled as a nightcap. Anyway, next time I'll bring along my heavier, but easier to handle, Nikon, which gave me some excellent pictures during the May '95 event.

On Saturday night - my last DX evening, I knew that all too soon it was going to be over. Near midnight, I was feeling wistful, even sad, that I was leaving my friends and their camaraderie. I soon packed my gear, because I was no longer in a mood to DX. A couple of final photos of Al and Jean, the inevitable last-minute checks of my bags, and I found myself driving back to St. John's airport at 2:30 in the morning. My flight out was at 8:15. It was a long wait! However, as the big Austrian guy says, "I'll be back!"

Al Merriman

Al Merriman

A Novice in Newfoundland, or How I Managed to Avoid the Moose on the Way to Cappahayden!

"A World of Difference." This is the slogan you will see on the Newfoundland & Labrador license plates. One evening at the dials will convince you that what they had in mind was ... DX!

For several years I've wanted to make this trip but never had. This year - with the added incentive of a new antenna system I wanted to test against some real DXpedition antennas - I decided to go. I believe it is safe to say it will not be the last.

Think I am the first DXer, at least from the USA, to drive. I left home on Sunday, October 4 and after wandering 2500 miles through the Canadian Maritimes, including a detour to go across the new Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island, I arrived at the DX Inn in Cappahayden at about 1 p.m. on Thursday, October 8. No one was around so I started getting the equipment set up. While installing the antenna system - a pair of K9AY Terminated Loops - Werner Funkenhauser returned from lunch to lend a welcome hand. Everything was up and ready to go before 3 p.m. Back in the shack it was noted that Iceland on 189 kHz, which is a day-time regular, was stronger on the loops than it was on a 1800-foot Beverage. Later that same afternoon we had readable TA's on the loops while the same stations were just weak carriers in the noise on the Beverage.

The first evening at the dials was a real eye opener. The signals from the TA's were just unbelievable. It was difficult to spend any time on one frequency for fear of missing something better somewhere else. With the exception of a half dozen or so Newfoundland locals, you can forget about North American stations - particularly when using antennas like the K9AY Loops that produce an excellent cardiod pattern with 25-40 db nulls off the back. All the "biggies" that are such pests down here cease to exist for all practical purposes.

The next day, in the guise of checking out the 1 kilometer long Brazilian Beverage, Werner and I found out the real reason Jean had lured us to Cappahayden - to help pick wild cranberries! The antenna, of course, was fine, but I will admit it was nice to stretch the legs a bit after all the driving of the previous five days. The walk along a very rocky beach was a good workout.

Saturday's highlight was watching the locals use the area where the antenna farm was for some rifle practice prior to going out looking for moose.

Early on Sunday, Werner left to fly back to Ontario. Later in the afternoon, Jean and I took a little tour around the southern end of the Avalon Peninsula through South Portugal Cove, Trepassey and a number of other small villages. I had the opportunity to see the Cape Race Loran C station, which causes some problems at the DX Inn, and on the way back we managed to spot some caribou. The hunting season was in full swing and most of the wildlife was staying well hidden. There is also some great scenery through this area. In fact, the Province of Newfoundland is just one great scene after another - it changes around almost every corner.

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday - four nights of fantastic DX, but like all good things it had to end. On Thursday morning I packed everything up and hit the road for the drive back across Newfoundland and the ferry to Nova Scotia. I stopped in Glovertown on the way back to hunt up the 40-watt LPRT, CBNG-1090. It was nice to see one of these at last. I stayed in Corner Brook on Thursday night and woke up Friday to terrible weather - high winds and heavy rain. The trip back to Port aux Basques was not that pleasant, but I did get in a bit of sightseeing including a trip around the very scenic Port Au Port peninsula. At about 6 p.m. - 2 hours late - the ferry pulled out and ended my visit to Newfoundland.

Oh, yeah, the moose I mentioned above. Actually I didn't see any - they were all in hiding - but there were plenty of signs warning you to look out for them. In Terra Nova National Park there was a big sign giving the moose/vehicle accident stats for the year to date which was 10. The sign didn't mention what won most of these - the vehicle or the moose!

I've submitted only a sample of the stations logged in the loggings section. This is by no means even close to all. After over 40 years in this hobby I find it difficult to keep much in the way of records anymore - in fact, it has turned into a real chore. I like to spend some time listening from time to time, but I no longer send reports, and station or country totals no longer hold much interest. What I heard was also heard by others so you probably won't miss much.

Last but not least, a big thank you to Jean Burnell for all his hard work in arranging the DXpedition. Know it is a "Labor of Love" with him, but it still takes a lot of time and effort. I'm already looking forward to - next year? We'll see.

John Fisher
It all went by so fast. It's hard to believe that another Newfoundland DX session has come and gone. All of the anticipation and planning leading up to 36 hours of intense DX'ing.

Planning for the event was made somewhat easier by the fact that this year I was able to combine my listening with a business trip to Germany. St. John's then became just a convenient stop-over on the way to Europe. Tickets were purchased, plans were made but there was always that dark cloud hanging over the trip. What if my trip was canceled at the last minute, could I arrange (or afford from Calgary) for a back-up plan? Fortunately, everything came together, and on Wednesday night I left Calgary en route to an overnight in Toronto and a morning flight to St. John's.

Once again the east coast of Newfoundland confirmed its place as my favorite site for MW DX'ing. The west coast of North America is good for Asian DX, but, because of darkness patterns, it has a relatively short window of opportunity in the early morning. The rest of the time, you are DX'ing domestics and a few Latins. However, from the east coast you have a long opening to Europe, Africa and Central Asia starting in the late afternoon and continuing on till the early morning hours. Combined with the open water path to Latin America, DX is available for up to 18 hours. I found myself actually passing by many Latin stations simply because there were so many European signals to be heard.
Overall, reception was not quite as good as it was two years ago. (That's like saying a Lexus is not as luxurious as a Mercedes when you spend your time driving a Ford Tempo.) Reception to the Middle East was so-so, Central and Southern Africa non-existent and South America not bad. The highlights for me were the large number of low-powered British regional stations that were heard including Classic Gold on 954 kHz with 160 watts. The other reception goodie was the incredible strength of the All India Radio regional station at Nagpur on 1566 kHz, which was heard at levels better than its short-wave parallels. Hearing this station on MW with English news at 0030 UTC that was so clear, that you could take the headphones off and listen was remarkable. But still in a little under two days, I was able to log stations from just over 60 countries including such new ones (for me) as Yemen, Rhodes and Crete.

By the last night we were in the midst of a torrential gale. The wind was whipping at about 80 km/h, and the rain was falling, as Jean would say, horizontally. This foul weather led to one of the more humorous aspects of my visit.

The owners of the DX Inn, the Lawlors, are gracious enough to allow us the use of their phone for the occasional call home to let our spouses etc. know that we have not fallen off the face of the earth while we have our headphones glued to our heads. Well, on Friday night during this rainstorm, they had left the DX Inn to head to one of their other properties, so Jean and I were all alone at the Inn. As soon as I pressed the "0" to start a phone call, all of the other phones in the house started ringing. No amount of pushing buttons, hanging up or even disconnecting the offending phone from the wall would stop the other phones from their non-stop ringing. It must have seemed humorous to see Jean and me disconnecting all of the phones in the house in a vain attempt to stop the noise. Nothing seemed to work, until we finally found one phone that we could disconnect and keep the other phones from ringing as long as it was not re-connected.

So there we were with a phone system that nobody could call out on, and no way to reach the phone company to tell them that we had a problem. We left the Lawlors a note explaining the problem, and hoping that the phone was not connected to an open long distance line. By the next morning, the Lawlor's son, who also lives at the house, told us that he had contacted the phone company, and they had said that the problem was likely caused by water in the lines from the heavy rain and that they would be able to look at it in a couple of days.

After Jean and I had closed up shop on Saturday morning, we headed back to St. John's where I joined Jean, his wife Stephanie and children for a Thanksgiving dinner before I caught the midnight flight to Germany. Fortunately, with the late nights of DX'ing, I had no difficulty adjusting my body's internal clock to the late night flight. Oh yes, as part of the Thanksgiving dinner, we had wild cranberries. So, a great big thanks to those of you who helped pick them earlier in the week!
Cappahayden has to be my favorite DX location. The great radio conditions, the rugged scenery and the hospitality of our host (and the understanding of his wife and children) all go together to make it a very enjoyable experience each time I go back. I am already thinking about when that next time will be.

DXpedition Log

Published on DXing.info on August 14, 2005

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