Newfoundland DXpedition 8
October 8, 9, and 15-24,
by Jean Burnell
This was the eighth major effort
at Cappahayden, and as such we were getting more
demanding about what we expected to hear. We focused
once more on going for new catches and difficult
The four DXpeditioners were:
- Alan Merriman Chincoteague, VA / AOR AR-7030
Plus / 15 Oct - 23 Oct
- John Fisher Calgary, AB / Icom R-71A /
15 Oct - 17 Oct
- Neil Kazaross Barrington, IL / AOR AR-7030
/ 17 Oct - 24 Oct
- Jean Burnell St. John's, NF / Drake R8A
/ 9 Oct - 24 Oct
The antenna complement at the
- Brazilian Beverage: 1 km twin-lead with Byan termination
aimed at eastern Brazil. This was also quite effective
for Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina as well as southern
Africa. We extended this even longer for one night.
- African Beverage: 390 m unterminated wire towards
southern Africa. This was extended half-way through
the DXpedition, and with a wider beam than the Brazilian
Beverage, it really helped with the Africans.
European Beverage: 500 m terminated wire towards
northern Europe. Eastern routes were far from exceptional,
so we may not have missed much when this antenna
was clipped short by wave action.
- Delta (K9AY) Loops: Up to three such systems were
used. By and large these were handy for filling
in the gaps between the Beverage beams, and sometimes
these provided quieter coverage than the Beverages.
The ends of the Beverage antennas were connected
through noise-reducing transformers to coaxial cables
that brought the signals into the radio "shack."
The signals were gently amplified using Kiwa broadband
amplifiers then split four ways using ICE splitters.
Each DXer could choose his antenna at the flick
of a switch. I had a modified MJF-1026 unit for
phasing. Al used a phasing unit based on Mark Connelly's
Superphaser design, and Neil had his zillion-knob
Connelly unit of uncertain vintage (carbon-dating
being unavailable at Cappahayden).
I went to the DX site the weekend
before the crowd arrived (October 8) to ferry the
many spools of antenna wire and coax and other heavy
material such as bottles of drinking water. The
hamlet of Cappahayden had not changed much. This
time there seemed to be even fewer human inhabitants,
but more aggressive dogs. The best way to make sure
that nothing important has been forgotten is to
DX for a night. I had forgotten part of my delta
(K9AY) loop set-up! It would have been foolish to
try to erect it anyway, as the wind was howling
at about 100 km/h, and it began to rain heavily.
I did stretch out the 1-km long Brazilian Beverage
and the 500-m European wire, but neither was terminated
until the next week. I was followed by a seal while
fiddling with the latter, and I picked up a jawbone
and a vertebra of a baleen whale on the beach.
Propagation from the east was
better than during the full-fledged DXpedition.
I heard stations such as Yemen on 760 kHz and BBC
from Redmoss on 1449 kHz that were not audible a
week later. I discovered that the Brazilian Beverage
had snapped about 250 meters from the shack, which
explained a disappointing initial showing from Brazil.
Nevertheless, I did manage to log bits of British-accented
programming on 530 kHz, beneath R. Visión
Cristiana. This was heard better when the full crew
was present, and was undoubtedly the highlight of
the DXpedition: Falkland Islands!
The next Friday (October 15)
I returned to Cappahayden to finish setting up the
shack. I was very relieved that the two antennas
were still intact, in spite of the strong wind,
and I terminated them. Al Merriman arrived in the
afternoon, but I had to zoom back to St. John's
to collect my children from school and bring them
down to Cappahayden. On my return to Cappahayden
I was amazed to discover that Al had managed to
erect his two K9AY systems alone, although the wind
was a sustained 100 km/h! We began DXing in the
late afternoon. My first log was Tanzania on 1377
kHz, not a bad start. John Fisher arrived after
dark, but in time to hear Kenya sign-on at 0158
UTC on 1386 kHz. John reported that there had been
serious wind damage in St. John's, and he marveled
that the airlines kept flying. As the sun rose the
next morning (October 16), John and I enjoyed the
Andean music of HCJB on 690 kHz with SINPO 44444.
Later that morning we had the
challenge of erecting my K9AY antenna, a system
not as sturdy as Al's. I took the children along
the beach to inspect the Beverages, which were still
in one piece. The children were disappointed not
to see any seals, but the water was very rough.
We did find another whale vertebra and half a dozen
pieces of baleen (brown, machete-sized, but flexible
whale teeth) from a humpback whale.
John had stopped over in Newfoundland
as part of a business trip to Germany to DX for
a couple of days, so he had to say farewell on October
17, but his place was immediately taken by my fellow
Brazil-nut, Neil. As the weather continued to disappoint,
the DX didn't. Conditions were quite auroral on
the night of October 17, and we scored some fabulous
reception of Mozambique on 1206 kHz and of the Nigerian
on 1062 kHz. We also picked up some good Argentinean
and Uruguayan signals, and the best audio for Falklands
on 530 kHz was taped that night. The next few nights
were not as auroral, but even so more new Brazilians
October 19 was probably our worst
day in terms of weather. The 120 km/h winds, the
tail of Hurricane Irene, had managed to drag our
European wire into the heavy surf during the night,
then in the morning as I drove to St. John's there
were snow flurries. (The missing sections of the
European wire were spliced in a few days later,
and we set out another, shorter wire aimed roughly
at southern Africa.) However, October 19 was also
the evening in which auroral conditions were most
spectacular. I missed most of the fun since I did
not arrive back in Cappahayden until after Africans
had signed off. Neil and Al gleefully recounted
how I had missed Lesotho on 891 kHz and a bunch
of stations from Botswana.
Fortune smiled when the weather
did not. The auroral conditions persisted, and in
subsequent evenings I managed to relog most of the
stations I had missed on October 19. This included
Family Radio on 1197 kHz, which is from the ex-BBC
transmitter in Lesotho, Emissora Províncial
de Tete from Mozambique on 963 kHz, and three "new"
(for me) Botswana stations. We also caught a lot
of great signals from southern South America, and
even a "new" Peruvian on 810 kHz.
All in all, some excellent
DX was experienced, thanks mainly to the auroral
openings. It was a pleasure once again to renew
friendships with John, Al, and Neil, and we all
pronounced the DXpedition and unqualified success.
on DXing.info on May 21, 2005