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Newfoundland DXpedition 8

October 8, 9, and 15-24, 1999

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 DX.

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 DXpedition was:
- 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 were logged.

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.

DXpedition Log

Published on DXing.info on May 21, 2005

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Newfoundland DXpedition 8 Log

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