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Waianakarua DXpedition 1999
March 16-21, 1999

by Paul Ormandy

Ever since 1982, I have made it a matter of habit to spend around a week DXing at Waianakarua during either the Autumnal (March) or Vernal (September) Equinox, to take advantage of the enhanced and often pleasingly strange conditions that the Equinox can bring. Over the years I have been joined by many DXers, Mark Nicholls, Bryan Clark, Harry Weatherley, and Steven Greenyer to name a few… this year Bryan is back again for more "stress-relief" and a debutante to Waianakarua, though no novice to DXing Chris Martin from Queensland made his debut. Chris was joined by his wife Lyn, who added a touch of class to the whole affair and managed to upstage us all on the cooking and cleaning front… we usually only wash the dishes when we run out of them…

First, a bit of scene-setting. Waianakarua is located just 20km South of Oamaru, 7km from the East Coast and in a depression with cliffs and hillocks all around. At first glance, you'd think that the geographical impediments would also degrade signals… and they do… fortunately it seems that local and semi-local groundwave signals are the only ones affected… which is positively great for DX! Wires run across narrow pieces of open paddock, using native trees and bushes to support the wires with the odd manuka pole here and there to prevent the farmer from lynching himself. Most of these are aimed towards the Americas as that's my main sphere of interest though there are a few wires left intentionally unterminated for back-lobe use.

The accommodation is a 2-bedroom cabin built as a family project in 1982, which has undergone several updates and expansions over the years. There is no mains power which is a minor inconvenience for inhabitants and a bonus for DXing, the only electrical noise experienced are the ticks from nearby (but not too close) electric fences. Electricity for the radios and lighting is provided by 12-volt storage batteries with a solar trickle-charger and petrol-generator set. LPG (liquid petroleum gas) and a wood-burning stove provide for heating and cooking with a refrigerator also running off gas. Water-heating is also solar-powered though due to the inefficiency of the system for showering during the cooler months, it's back to basics with a basin-wash.

The DXpedition commenced on Tuesday the 16th of March; due to work commitments I couldn't be there any sooner and missed my usual 7 or 8 night stint. I did prepare the site by setting up listening tables, gas bottles, batteries and beds etc on the previous Sunday so all we needed to do when we arrived on Tuesday was to plug our receivers in and make ourselves comfortable. Bryan couldn't get a leave pass for Tuesday so we collected him from the local township of Herbert late on Wednesday afternoon. Which worked out well for Bryan because reception had been very mediocre on the Tuesday night and he missed nothing.

On to Wednesday, and a day when all the Beverages where fitted with baluns… prior to this occasion I had been experimenting with a unit designed by North American DXers Shawn Axelrod and John Bryant and had installed them on two wires with pleasing results. That night was the big test… would I be ripping them off in the morning or advocating them to all and sundry? But before this, a bit of aerial maintenance was required. I have two parallel 310 metre wires that point towards Florida and perform very nicely… however, for some months one was producing lower signals than the other. I had checked all the connections near the receiver and found nothing amiss and figured that the problem lay in the last two-thirds of the aerial. I wasn't too keen on tackling this problem because from past experience I knew it was literally going to be a "thorny" problem! The wire ran over and under all sorts of nasty scratching plants like gorse, blackberry, bush lawyer and other unidentified prickly problems. So, gorse knife in one hand, Chris and I surveyed the problem and found that several bushes had over-grown the wire, one collapsing from a bank, and some spaghetti-like plant had entwined itself around the wire as well. The solution was a bit of "weeding", some stubbornness, plenty of scratches and a healthy respect for plants that want to be left alone! Back to the cabin and early tests on NZ stations produced equal signals off both wire… problem solved… though how would they perform in DX conditions?

Bryan arrived at the local township of Herbert, only a 5 minute car-trip away, by shuttle-bus from Dunedin around 4:15 p.m. Bryan's receiver was quickly set up and early listening on SW commenced. MW signals started fading in around 0630 UTC… not too encouraging at first until Argentine R America was identified on 1190. That was very good news as stations from Argentina are only heard when solar activity is very low permitting signals from the "El Cono Sur" countries to travel on their near polar route. Plenty more Argentine, Chilean and Uruguayan signals were heard with R Nacional, Paraguay appearing at 0900 sign-on. Conditions "died" after 1100z so it was off to bed for a shot at the eagerly anticipated European, Asian and ME signals the next morning from 1730z on. However, DXing on MW around that time turned out to be a waste of time for the whole trip and we soon gravitated to SW where Africans were exceptionally strong.

Into the third night, more Argentines and Chileans though little trace of Uruguay or Paraguay, a pattern that was to be repeated on the fourth night. Conditions held up a little longer allowing some of the X-banders to be logged (13 for the trip) including WTDY Madison, Wisconsin 1670 - a new US State for Bryan. On the fourth day, it was time for Lyn, Chris and Bryan to depart… after a last, lingering fling around SW! On the fourth night I was joined by three members of the local NZRDXL Branch, Jim Smyth with a Drake R-8A, Alistair Sutherland using a Sony ICF-SW55 and Basil Jamieson and his Kenwood R-5000. We were greeted by the best conditions for the reception of US signals for the whole time with plenty of "W" calls making the trip, with the ICF-SW55 holding up well against it's "big cousins" and producing some surprisingly good reception. This night Latins were fairly scarce - until 0900 when there was a burst of activity from Argentina. Another last shot at the early morning stuff from 1630z on produced nothing of consequence.

SW was very good… especially from Africa with the tropical bands performing very well. MW reception overall was not what I would have predicted; at this stage in the sunspot cycle I wouldn't have thought we would hear Argentines four nights in a row! Signals from the US were limited to the odd regular, Caribbeans all but non-existent and local sun-rise DX was similarly disappointing. Even the X-band was not humming until the fourth night when all channels were occupied. Reception on Long-Wave, which has provided some really good DX over recent times was very poor. Still, it is always good to spend some intensive time at the dials… and to renew some acquaintances… the company more than making up for any short-comings in the DX! And no prizes for guessing where I'll be next Equinox!

Medium Wave Trail

South America

570 0922 CHILE CB57 R Agricultura, Santiago, 2 MA's sharing news items, fair signal with 2YA phased. YNAK

580 1003 PERU OAX4S R Maria, Lima, poor-fair on peaks w/relig talk. Seems to be on 24 hours now. YNAK

660 0748 CHILE CB66 R Chilena, Santiago, gd sig w/prog on wonderful world of international music. Also heard w/nx items at 0907. YNAK

670 0732 ARGENTINA LRI209 R Mar del Plata, Mar del Plata, FA w/ad then ids & promo. YNAK

710 0900 ARGENTINA LRL202 R Diez, BA, gd sig w/nx stories and plenty ids etc. Into mx bracket at 0903. YNAK

730 0735 PERU OBX4G R Programas, Lima, fr-gd w/usual all-nx format and "RPP" ids. YNAK

740 0809 ARGENTINA R Boaerense, Llavllol, tent. the one here w/mentions of Buenos Aires, reg rooster calls, t/cs, temperature, wind strength and humidity as well as nx stories. YNAK

780 0654 PERU OAX4X R Victoria, Lima, gd w/"La Voz de la Liberacion" progs, all SS religious and mostly live/recorded rallies, though this time they were taking ph calls. YNAK

820 0738 PERU OAX4O R Libertad, Lima, dominant o/unid w/ph no & promo, then relig prog. YNAK

830 0900 ARGENTINA LU14 R Provincia, Rio Gallegos, fr at s/on w/opening bars from "Fanfare for a Common Man" under big s5/6 carrier from unid station… possibly another Argie. YNAK

870 0705 ARGENTINA LRA1 R Nacional BA, fair w/tangos despite hvy splash. YNAK

910 0912 ARGENTINA LRA23 R Nacional, San Martin, fr-gd w/string of ads incl one for show sponsor "La Nación"… presumably a newspaper. YNAK

920 0929 PARAGUAY ZP1 R Nacional, La Asuncion, weak with male announcers. Checked with SW 9737 for confirmation. YNAK

930 0737 CHILE CB93 R Nuevo Mundo, Santiago, gd steady signal w/ph callers. YNAK

950 0702 ARGENTINALR3 R Libertad BA, fr w/id, ph no and FA host on talk show. YNAK

1010 0746 URUGUAY CX24 R Nuevo Tiempo, Montevideo, presume the one w/frequent time-checks and time pips, mostly American 60's rock'n'roll numbers. YNAK

1020 0639 COLOMBIA HJFQ RCN Pereira, pr-fr on peaks w/nx stories and net ids. //770. YNAK

1030 0657 ARGENTINA LS10 R Del Plata, BA, fr on peak w/id and promo for cinema complex, o/unid in SS. YNAK

1060 0655 COLOMBIA HJFJ RCN Caldas, pr-fr w/id the network nx stories. YNAK

1070 0700 ARGENTINA LR1 R El Mundo, BA, id "El Mundo mil setenta informa.." then time-check and mx. YNAK

1090 0708 URUGUAY CX28 R Imparcial, Montevideo, FA w/ids including call-sign then some nice tangos. YNAK

1120 0750 ARGENTINA LU6 R Atlantica, Mar del Plata, poor-fair w/tangos and some tlk, this one never getting as strong as other Argies heard. Heard w/wx brief and id also at 0840 YNAK

1140 0803 VENEZUELA La Margariteña, Porlamar, was looking for Chile and found this one belting in, id, t/c and YV pops. YNAK

1190 0640 ARGENTINA LR9 R America, BA, gd w/id "Informó, Radio America…" then news item. YNAK

1320 0742 VENEZUELA YVWP R Apolo, Turmero, gd sig w/ t/c and ballads. YNAK

Rest of the world

177 1820 GERMANY Deutschland R, Oranienburg, first ever reception of this station at Ynak. Weak though talk in GG was discernible. YNAK

648 1838 SAUDI ARABIA BSKSA Jeddah, FA up briefly w/AA talk. YNAK

650 0928 HAWAII KHNR Honolulu, fr w/CNN news & promo, 0930 CNN Headline News. YNAK

747 1708 AUSTRALIA 6SE Esperance WA, fair at times under/over 4QS Toowoomba with the latter phased. Running "Radio West" programs. YNAK

760 1837 YEMEN Mukallah, poor with talk in Arabic. Faded after 1845, heard on several mornings. YNAK

909 1755 CHINA CNR Taiwan 2, pr-fr w/light drama. SW //9170 confirmed station. YNAK

1566 1743 AUSTRALIA 4GM Gympie, poor-fair u/3NE w/ABC talk program. Never heard before here but a local "pest" for Chris Martin!. YNAK

1613 1818 KOREA North Frontline Soldier Radio, poor w/KK talk. YNAK

1670 0618 USA WRNC Warner-Robins GA, reg ids w/"Real Country" format. Though at times was dominated by WTDY. YNAK

1670 0629 USA WTDY Madison WI, poor u/o WRNC w/replays of Art Bell shows, though a few ids and local prog managed to sneak through at crucial times. YNAK


ABKHAZIA 9489.6 0329 Abkhazian R, open carrier then tone and anthem, 0332 male announcer id'd as "Govorit Sukhumi", followed by news. Little interference from 9490 this day as there was only an open carrier present. Ormandy Mar 18

ANGOLA 11955 2037 R Nacional, first time ever noted on this frequency, weak and fluttery with Portuguese talk, time pips followed by news at 2100. Ormandy Mar 18

ANGUILLA 11775 2115 Caribbean Beacon, poor in English mixed unid in French, running Dr. Gene Scott. Ormandy Mar 18

ARGENTINE ANTARCTIC 15476 2007 LRA36 R Nacional, caught end of announcement in English asking for reports and offering QSLs! Sounds promising! Then into Spanish with those lovely tangos till abrupt close mid-song at 2121. Ormandy Mar 20

ARMENIA 4810 1930 V of Armenia, sign-on in Armenian after interval signal. Good signal, into French at 2000. Ormandy Mar 20

AZERBAIJAN 9165 0314 R Dada Gorgud, fair signal with Interval Signal after open carrier. Opening announcement then choral music (anthem?) Slightly over-modulated on announcements though music sounded fine. Ormandy Mar 18

s15135 0410 R Record, first time ever heard, badly modulated talk in Portuguese with talk, noted in // to 11965 which was also weak though better modulated. Both went off at 0427. Ormandy Mar 18

BRAZIL 17815 0100 R Cultura, surprisingly good with id and time-check after 20 minutes of non-stop instrumentals and light vocals. Other Brazilians noted (around 1:00 pm local) Brazil Central 11815, Bandeirantes 9645, Gaucha 11915, Anhanguera 11830 and Gazeta 15325. Ormandy Mar 17

CHINA 4525 1019 Nei Menggu PBS, tentative the one here with poor-fair signal running Chinese opera music. Ormandy Mar 19

CHINA 4460 2017 CNR, poor-fair with Chinese instrumental music, in // to 5030, 5320 & 7935. Ormandy Mar 20

CHINA 5030 1430 CPBS, HS 1 program, fair signal with English language lessons, //4460, 5320 & 7935. Ormandy Mar 18

CHINA 15880 0027 CNR, fair with talk program in Chinese. Also noted CNR not in // at this time on 15670. Ormandy Mar 18

CHINA 11750 1900 CRI, fair signal in English though rumble on channel. Better on //9440. Ormandy Mar 17

EQUATORIAL GUINEA 15185.4 1943 R Africa, presume this the owner of a weak signal broadcasting syndicated American religious programming. Ormandy Mar 17

ICELAND 7735u 1900 ISBS Reykjavik, fair signal in Icelandic with news, //11402 was stronger. Ormandy Mar 16

INDIA 10330 0230 AIR, poor-fair though in the clear with Hindi music, went right through the hour (in India!) without any announcement. Ormandy Mar 18

INDIA 15040 1015 AIR, poor-fair, bad modulation with program in English, //17387 had a stronger signal though suffered from transmitter hum. Ormandy Mar 18

INDONESIA 4789.1 2000 RRI Fak-Fak, , poor-fair at sign-on with id then news. Tuned back at 2012 to English pop/rock. Ormandy Mar 20

IRAN 11660 1915 VoIRI, fair-good in Italian mixed with splatter from both sides. Ormandy Mar 16

ITALY 7155 0629 V of Malta, very good in English with id, "VOM broadcasting from Malta" time and frequency schedule. Ormandy Mar 18

ITALY 7175 0620 R Due, Caltanisetta, fair signal with Home Service program running an interview. Some splatter from VOR Grigoriopol on 7180. Ormandy Mar 18

ITALY 11715 2025 RAI, very good signal with English to Near East for 15 minutes, //9670 was dominant over DW and 7115 was weak though clear. Ormandy Mar 19

JORDAN 9830 1920 R Jordan, , poor-fair with news commentary though heavy splash from both sides. Ormandy Mar 16

KAZAKHSTAN 6255 1910 Kazakh R, presume the one here with badly over-modulated audio… must be using technicians from R Moldova Int :^)… seemed to be mostly music with the odd announcement in a vernacular. Ormandy Mar 16

MYANMAR 5985 1430 R Myanmar, straight into English program after vernacular with no great fanfare. Program started with a description of Myanmar followed by a musical interlude then another offering about the importance of rice with reference to "..the evil legacy of the past colonial era and English-speaking classes…" TWICE! I think I'll send my report in Spanish! Ormandy Mar 18

NETHERLANDS 6285.8 1949 Farmers from Holland, poor but in the clear with Dutch pops, identification and address at 2002. Ormandy Mar 20

PAPUA NEW GUINEA 3385 1028 R East New Britain, poor-fair with talk in local language, some co-channel from RRI Kupang. Other PNGs noted on 3375, 3365, 3345, 3335, 3325, 3315, 3275, 3235, 3220, 2410 & 3905. Ormandy Mar 18

PERU 4534.1 1014 R Horizonte,, poor-fair though in the clear with ids using echo and fast-speaking DJ. Ormandy Mar 19

RWANDA 9670 2000 DW, poor-fair at sign-on in Portuguese, //s from Kigali on 7175 (poor-fair) and 11810 (fair). Ormandy Mar 16

RUSSIA 6205 0507 R Rossii, , fair-good signal in Russian with ads, temperatures in various cities and a couple of ids. Ormandy Mar 19

SAO TOME 4950 1852 VOA, fair in French though some vestige of Angola underneath. Other 60mb Africans heard around this time were Botswana 4820, Nigeria 4770, Lesotho 4800, Mali 4783 & 4835, Christian Voice 4965, Uganda 4976 & 5026, Zimbabwe 5012 & Kenya 4915. Ormandy Mar 16-21

SWAZILAND 3200 1819 TWR, poor in English with syndicated American religion, mixed ute QRM, though later in the week this was noted with much improved signals. Other 90mb Africans noted around this time and past 1900 were Mozambique 3210, Namibia 3270 & 3290, Madagaskar 3288, Zimbabwe 3306, Botswana 3356, BBC Meyerton 3255, Sonder Grense 3320, & TWR Swazi 3240. Ormandy Mar 16-21

TAJIKISTAN 4635 2014 Tajik R, tent/ Yangi-Yul here w/Middle Eastern style music, past sked 1830 close. Ormandy Mar 20

TANZANIA-ZANZIBAR 11734 1757 R Tanzania Zanzibar, male announcer in presumed Swahili till news at 1800, into Koran-like chants at 1815 then music and talk from 1822. Noted for some time between tuning around elsewhere and in the clear from sideband splatter from 2030 till closing at 2100. A couple of days there was a heterodyne noted from a weak station on 11735. When Zanzibar closed the station was noted with soccer commentary in Spanish so presumed R Monte Carlo, Uruguay. Ormandy Mar 17

UKRAINE 6020 0430 R Ukraine Int, poor-fair in English though some rumble from Radio Victoria. Announced // of 4820 was just audible. Ormandy Mar 18

ZIMBABWE 5012 1804 R 4 "The Voice of Zimbabwe", female announcer with news which concluded with the main points at 1809 then brief announcement in vernacular followed by address on science and mathematics education at a recent conference in Harare. Ormandy Mar 16

Posted on December 14, 2002

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