This was our best ever DXpedition. We shattered all records, some statistics:
144 MHz: 455 inits, 58 DXCC, world record (was 361)
432 MHz: 25 inits, 13 DXCC
1296 MHz: 27 inits, 15 DXCC
2320 MHz: 7 inits, 6 DXCC
On four bands 514 unique inits EME only, an absolute (world)record, never made a DXpedition more than 372 inits (2011 C56EME) in total on VHF/UHF moonbounce...
Last days we looked each other often in disbelief. What was going on? Is this real?
And we also had a big thrill with Tropo on both 144 MHz and 432 MHz resulting in a fantastic DX over 2840 km with CU3EQ on both bands (on 432 MHz this DX comes in top five IARU Region 1 DX records). We also tested with FM8DY (4707 km), pings were heard on both sides, we sadly could not complete, but it was a serious attempt.
We look back with satisfaction. And yes we did celebrate.
Eltje celebrates his birthday today! Hooray! Hooray! An extra reason to enjoy our success with a lot of fish, onions and a bottle of Pastis. Cheers. Even the maids surprised him with something delicious. Yummy!
A warm thank you to all who called us, our sponsors and Atletico supportteam.
Two stations made it on all four bands: OK1KIR and HB9Q. Chapeau!
Several did ask us what kind of equipment we are using.
Success has two sides, good operating practice and well balanced equipment including plenty spare parts (in total 184 kilograms):
TX Yaesu ft-857d with TCXO
RX IQ+ by HB9DRI
Preamps WA2ODO / M2inc
Antenna: 2 x 8 elem. I0JXX
Antenna Control System DRIACS-G3 by HB9DRI
Good EME power by ITALAB
Excellent cables, couplers, sequenser, ALC control and filters
Different custom made software for DXpedition
And yes: Atleticoteam already has concrete plans to surprise you again somewhere from Africa! Any time, any place, anywhere...
Nous reviendrons a l'Afrique !
We uploaded some pictures under button MEDIA. For some movies, see button YouTube.
Saturday May 24th we did 70cm. We replaced one of both two meter yagis by our 70cm yagi. They were nice in balance.
We started 04:00 UTC in the dark. There was a problem with the RX/TX relay in the PA that went quickly on and off caused by high voltage that we feel on all metal ware even when the current is switched off. Our equipment is not held at ground potential. By putting an extra relais, that switched when TX went on, the problem was solved in the dark.
It feels like a long fieldday here. Another problem occured:
The 70cm yagi turned out to be too heavy so our electronic elevation did not work. We had to go back to manual elevation, so ropes and stones came in handy.
A took a while but eventually we could hit the moon again!
We worked 25 inits in 13 DXCC. We even worked three stations in CW. Loudest was Jan DL9KR, he blew our socks off! We filmed it and uploaded it to YouTube.
In the afternoon we started to dismantle our station.
We have time. Everything is covered with sand and dust so it takes a lot of time to clean up.
Sea, salt, mud, moisture... Within three weeks all our coaxrelays, preamps, cables and connectors got dirty and all iron parts got rusty. Here in this country everything is going rapidly to pieces.
Tomorrow (May 25th) is Eltjes birthday. We hope the maids will prepare a festive meal. We dream of T-Bone steaks and hope for a miracle.
See under button MEDIA for some pictures and for some movies, see button YouTube.
Thursday May 22nd we did two meters again.
We started the day early, around 02:00 UTC and we worked another 22 stations. Our total now is 441 inits. We worked 56 DXCC.
We had set an alarm at N0UK and we were there if needed.
Highlights were QSO's with our fellow DXpeditioners in Masturdonia (Z3) and with the boys on Saint Croix U.S. Virgin Islands (N4M).
The last day for two meters has come, one day more and than we QSY to 432 MHz.
We already had worked some stations in CW (OZ1HNE, VK5APN, LZ2US) and we were glad to add OK1MS to this list. A bit disappointing that no more stations were QRV in CW, because we always want to serve everybody.
After moonset we travelled to a village and we bought some cookies, eggs and to our surprise we found frankfurter sausages! We bought all the cans: Jawohl, ich bin ein Frankfurter! Powerfood for the early hours, with some mustard (Dyon) off course, good for some extra initials.
When at home Babaca, our guard, held a tea ceremony. In Senegal most people drink tea in the afternoon, it takes about two hours or more and a lot of sugar and patience is involved. Quality time for some (self)reflection and a good talk. Three cups are made, as they say:
Le premier est amer comme la mort
Le deuxeme est douce comme la vie
Le troisieme sucree comme l'amour
The first one is as bitter as death
The second one is soft as life
The third one sugared like love
One big sugarbomb, but also very very tasteful, strong and indeed: the taste went from bitter to sweet. A nice experience. An impression was filmed and has been uploaded to YouTube.
Tomorrow, May 23rd, we will be QRV for the last time on 144 MHz from our moonrise and and on request via N0UK on 144.134 MHz, 6W/PE1L always first.
We upload some pictures under button MEDIA. For some movies, see button YouTube.
Wednesday May 21st we did two meters again.
We started the day early, around 01:00 UTC and we worked another 16 stations. Our total now is 419 inits.
Next moonpass starting May 22nd, we will be QRV again from our moonrise and and on request via N0UK on 144.134 MHz, 6W/PE1L always first.
Knowing we have worked most stations, is has no sense anymore to continue giving CQ all the time. We have set an alarm at N0UK and we will be there if needed. Just send a message containing 6W/PE1L and we will be alarmed.
The last days for two meters have come, we are already focusing on 70cm a bit. Our aerial is working, we did tropo 2832km on 432 MHz, so who knows how many hams we will please this weekend!
We will do 432 MHz at our moonpass saturday May 24th, from moonrise to moonset and we are at HB9Q logger as well.
Tuesday May 20th we did two meters again.
We started the day early, around 05:00 UTC and we worked another 19 stations. Our total now is 403 inits!!!
Spring 2010 Atleticoteam was the first who made over 300 inits (on one band) during an DXpedition. That was 3B8EME from Mauritius.
2011 we made 361 inits from The Gambia C56EME, the former world record, we never thought this could be broken.
After four years the magic number 400 (on one band) has been done.
Many thanks for all who called us, atleticosupportteam, our sponsors off course and the maids who take care of us e.g. cooking, cleaning, washing our clothes, ironing etc. in order to keep Atleticoteam sharp.
Atleticoteam, still hungry for more, had a little celebration later this day.
The fish, onions and loads of eggs did pay off well!
Tomorrow, May 21st, we will be QRV again during our moonrise and from 05:00 UTC until 14:00 UTC, we will not call CQ all the time, we are just available on N0UK
We upload some pictures daily on our site: http://www.emelogger.com/6w under button MEDIA. For some movies, see button YouTube.
We started the day early, around 05:00 UTC and we worked another 14 stations. Our total now is 384 inits. World record has been broken, but:
only 16 to go and the magic number 400 will be reality! We would like to be the first DXpedition ever who did this, to get 400 on one band in the log.
We also did some tropotests with CT, PJ4, CU and FM. FM8DY heard a ping from us, promising!
This morning a maid bought eggs and ketchup for us. Yesterday we only had five or six eggs each, but we found out that the rest had gone, vanished... These things can happen off course.
After moonset we travelled with the maids to Lac Rose (Pink lake), known for its pink very salty (up to 40 percent) waters, caused by Dunaliella salina algae. The algae produces a red pigment to assist in absorbing light, which provides energy to create ATP. Magenta coloured samphire bushes flourish in the white sandbanks, and the sand dunes are terra-cotta-coloured.
The lake was often the finishing point of the Dakar Rally, before it moved to South America in 2009.
We enjoyed this world heritage site very much as even the maids did while they were serving us picknick style boiled eggs with ketchup.
Meanwhile we discussed other places in Africa to go: Atleticoteam is addicted as you know...
Tomorrow, May 20th, we will be QRV again during our moonrise and from 05:00 UTC until 12:00 UTC on 144.134 MHz, always first.
We upload some pictures daily under button MEDIA. We also uploaded some movies, see button YouTube.
Yesterday evening we discovered to our surprise that there is warm water in the bathroom! There is a rusty apparatus, this turned out to be a kind of heater when turned on. So after many cold showers we now have some luxury.
We started the day early, around 05:00 UTC and we worked another 10 stations. Rene experienced a total power dropout while he was TX-ing when Eltje took a shower in the early morning. The fuses were blown. Too many amperes, so Eltje continued to shower in sequence during the odd minutes. An old ritual we know very well, we experienced it too in Kenya (5Z4EME) back in 2009.
Like every morning We took a horse drawn-carriage to a village, drank a bit, bought some ketchup and 30 eggs and we returned for a Tropo test with FM8DY on Martinique in the Carribean.
Tomorrow, May 19th, we will be QRV from 05:00 UTC until our moonset at 11:05 UTC.
We upload some pictures daily on our site: http://www.emelogger.com/6w onder button MEDIA. We also uploaded some movies, see button YouTube.
Saturday May 17th was just a lazy day. We took a horse drawn-carriage to a village, drank a bit and returned for a Tropo test with FM8DY on Martinique in the Carribean. One ping heard and we continue testing.
For the rest we were at ease.
Friday May 16th we had a quiet day. We walked to a village, bought some gin and tonic and we dived into the ocean to get a fresh head again.
We built up 70cm and mounted the aerial to a pole on the flat roof and with help of some ropes we ensured stability.
Before dinner we did some tests on 70cm. Conditions were extraordinary:
CU3EQ Azores (HM68KP): 2840 km CW up to 559
EB8AYA Canary Islands (IL18OD): 1495 km SSB 59+
What a Tropo! As we said yesterday: Atleticoteam, to boldly go where no man has gone before.
That is true. Our first QSO on 432 MHz over 2840 km is in the Region 1 toplist number 5 ever done. So our simple 23 elem. op 70 cm with about 80 watts into the dipole wrote history. Proud to be a part of it.
Thursday May 15th we had a quiet day.
Our last diner in the early afternoon with Hermann should be something special.
We asked the maids if they could make spaghetti bolognese and we even bought the ingredients for them to get sure: spaghetti, minced meat and a can with peeled tomatoes, because spaghetti with smelly fish was not our idea. Nothing could go wrong.
We waited anxiously at the table and the maids came in smiling with spaghetti and another bowl with baked minced meat with some garlic and onions.
An then to our surprise the closed can was put on the table. It had not been mixed and heatened with the meat.
How nice. So we ate a new kind of spaghetti: spaghetti senegalese.
Later tonight we will explain it to them quietly in a friendly way, but next time we sure have to supervise the cooking process in the kitchen thoroughly. Atleticoteam has done worse things...
We accompanied Hermann DL2NUD to Dakar airport later in the afternoon. Reason for his early departure is the affirmation of baptism of his granddaughter coming sunday. A special event he can not miss, not in the least because he is a retired Lutheran pastor.
After diner (please don't ask, sigh) Rene and Eltje did a bit Tropo:
We already easily had worked about 5 stations from EA8 Canary Islands before, but the Tropo was really superb this time:
D44TD Cape Verde (HK86NO): 630 km
CU3EQ Azores (HM68KP): 2840 km SSB and CW up to 559
CU2JX Azores (HM77ES): 2702 km SSB
What a Tropo! We decided to build up 432 MHz tomorrow, but only for Tropo experiments. If we only could make these distances on 70cm too, that would be awesome!
We stay on a very good location here in west Africa, so we keep on saying: Atleticoteam: to boldly go where no man has gone before.
At eight o'clock in the morning we walked to the junction. Getting transport is easy. You just hold a random car that passes by. Almost all drivers earn a few bucks by letting passengers travel a few miles or more with them. We traveled in old vehicles, the steering wheel sometimes was replaced by some planks. Fortunately most drivers were not distracted by speedometers or other nonsense on the dashboard because mostly the meters are not there or just do not work anymore.
Any conversation was impossible, because most drivers here seem to be a bit deaf, the volume of the car radio always is pumped up to the highest levels.
We arrived in Dakar and went straight to the harbour. Our first goal was Isle de Goree.
To be serious: A time of reflection. Twenty millions slaves boarded into ships on this island during 250 years on their way to the west and 6 millions of them died of illness. Portuguese, Dutch, English and French traders did their horrible work. Clinton, Bush, Mandela, Pope John Paul II and Obama had been here before. This part of history must be told again and again and showed for everyone and always. This injustice may never happen again. We were touched, what a tragedy.
When we came out of the fortress tens of ladies came to us and we were almost forced to come to their little stores where they sell bracelets and other rubbish. Hard to stay friendly but when one seller went another five came.
We had a good meal (meat!) though it sure had been a very old cow because we almost broke our teeth on it. But we certainly do not complain!
Next task was buying some stamps. We already had bought postcards before but stamps can only be bought at a post office and they are mostly closed because people working there take often a rest. After half an hour the door opened so we eventually got our stamps.
We visited the impressive liberation monument and on our way home we were so lucky to buy some toilet paper. In our village and other nearby villages there is no toilet paper obtainable because people here just do not have any need for it... So after a week Atleticoteam can use the toilet again in stead of running into the ocean on a daily base in order to feed the fish we eat.
Tired but satisfied we came back in time for our moonrise. It went very well again: We added 13 more stations in the log so now we have 357 inits in total. Also 50 DXCC.
Our goal (to go over the DXpedition worldrecord QSO-rate EME set 2011 by Atleticoteam: 361 QSO's from The Gambia C56EME) really comes into sight!
Dgrd will be high coming days as you know and Tsky is already rising sharply as the moon moves into the Milky Way so the next coming days we will do other things like Tropo/MS.
We will be back on 144 MHz EME on Sunday May 18th at 05:00 UTC.
We upload some pictures daily onder button MEDIA.
Coming days we will however continue to upload pictures and fill the blog on our website.
After moonset in the early morning we had a wonderful Tropo contact in CW/SSB with CT1HZE from Portugal over 2652 kms. Hepburn promised a good path and yes there it was. Fantastic to experience such a long Tropo DX. We are not used to those circumstances. In our lifetime We only made a few times Tropo QRB > 1500 kms. from home...
During the day many easy contacts were made with Canary Islands EA8, always good for 1500+ kms. Signals even from their QRP sometimes went up to S9+. Thrilling!
We will look for more Tropo DX from here, never before a good VHF station from this location in West Africa gave it a try. Atletico found a new challenge. Next goal is to cross the Atlantic Ocean, think big is our device.
After diner, baked onions this time, how surprising, we started another day on the moon.
As said, it is getting tougher, but we managed to convince some to give it a successful try.
It went very well. We added 23 more stations in the log so now we have 344 inits in total.
Our goal is to go over the DXpedition worldrecord QSO-rate EME. In 2011 Atleticoteam made 361 QSO's from The Gambia (C56EME). We never thought this could be broken, but there is a chance!
So help us breaking our own record gents!
Tomorrow, May 14th, we will be QRV from our moonrise (19:30 UTC) on 144.134 MHz as long as there are takers, 6W/PE1L always first.
Coming days Dgrd will be high so we will do other things like Tropo/MS when present but our main goal is to mingle with the local people in order to get a better mutual understanding.
Thursday Hermann will fly back to Germany. Rene and Eltje, hard core Atletico, will be left here for another 11 days struggling under these harsh circumstances. But Hermann taught us: Maledictus piscis in tertia aqua, so this advice will be a good help in order to get rid of the penetrant taste.
We will be back on 144 MHz EME on Sunday May 18th at 05:00 UTC.
We started the day a bit later because the moon day by day sets later and later during nighttime. So we found our fish soup cold when we at last went up. How disappointing...
After breakfast Rene and Eltje took the bus to a random village, it only costed a few cents. They strolled a bit but after a while they got thirsty so they found a bar where they took some refreshments. They left just in time because some wanted them to rent a room, it turned out they had entered a brothel. This perhaps explained the warm welcome...
After diner, fish on the barbecue, we started another day on the moon.
It went very well. We added 28 more stations in the log so now we have 321 inits in total. Highlight was a CW QSO with Jorgen OZ1HNE. His morsesounds filled the shack in the sweet warm Senegalese evening and while Atleticoteam in a melancholic mood stared over the ocean the OOO's loudly came in. Jorgens musical rhythm caused wet eyes. We can not help it, we are just human...
We know it now gets tough having worked most stations, but we really want to give it a try with all who did not work us so far.
After 23:00 UTC, when Europe has fallen asleep, there is not much activity anymore. It is better to catch some sleep then in order to stay focused.
Tomorrow, May 13th, we will be QRV from our moonrise until 24:00 UTC on 144.134 MHz, always first.
We plan to do a trip to Dakar on Wednesday. Dakar has an interesting history, there are remains of Dutch fortresses from the 17th century and there is a statue of Michiel Adriaansz. de Ruyter who conquered Fort Orange with his fleet at a time when the Dutch were in war with the British Empire.
Sunday May 11th was dedicated to two meters again.
We started the day with onionsoup plus leftovers from last week combined with fishheads (with gazing eyes), tasty and smelly but what does not kill you makes you stronger, you know...
It is a good thing that there are no windows in our guesthouse. Only mosquitogauze, air can come in and out freely. Well, three men and three times a day loads of onions is an explosive combination so we desperately need fresh air all the time.
We walked all the way to the next village and bought some liquor (Pastis) and food. Almost everything you can buy comes from far abroad: onions are from Holland, fruit is Algerian, milk is from France. A bottle local produced Pastis (45%) is cheaper than a bottle of milk however.
We also discovered that at least four TV-sets in our neighbourhood had been sent to Dakar for repairment. They just could not find what causes the periodical blackouts in reception during eveningtime.
People are very eager trying to understand why we scientists work so hard at moontime and what our results are. We tell them that we are closer to the moon in Senegal so the tests are more accurate. Dr. Bratwurst (Eltje) has the doubtful honour to tell them in detail about our measurements in his best French spiced with a German accent just to be more credible. Rene (Dr. Oetker) and Hermann (Dr. Sauerkraut) have problems not to burst in laughter.
Lots of people are passing by, we now even have three nice young women cooking for us and doing other domestic stuff. Atleticoteam always loves to create employment.
After lunch, yes yes yes we/you know, we started another day on the moon.
It went very well. We added 68 more stations in the log so now we have 293 inits in total. Very nice to work 4X.
Again very small pistols/single yagi stations made it into our log and also some who can not make elevation. How nice!
Tomorrow, May 12th, we will be QRV from moonrise to moonset on 144.134 MHz, always first.
We did upload some pictures onder button MEDIA.
Friday May 9th was a relaxed day. We enjoyed a good swim in the ocean, while doing this we claerly could see our antennas shining on the flat roof of our guesthouse. We can not imagine something more beautiful to see.
After lunch (fishgoulash with peanutsauce and guess what?) power went down for many hours. A good opportunity to walk around and discover our village Yeni Tode. People are friendly and we only meet smiles.
Diner brought us sole (fish) with onions and chips. We bought some wine yesterday (Senegalese wine, very cheap) to forget the taste of fish. Bad choice, the wine (chateau Migraine) tasted like toiletcleanser.
Tomorrow, May 10th, we will do other things.
We will neither write this blog tomorrow.
We will be back on 144 MHz sunday May 11th and we will be QRV then from moonrise to moonset on 144.134 MHz, always first.
Please consider that we have slow internet, but we try to upload some pictures daily under Media
Thursday May 8th we started the day with a trip to a village where we could buy some fresh meat and gin as we were told. We were accompanied by our lovely only french speaking lady of the house named madame Mata, so Eltje could practise his best french. Ohlala!
It took an hour to get to he small town by different cars (everyone owning a car here is a taxidriver, by paying a dime you can travel from A to B (via C to Z)) and we experienced the real Senegal. Chaos all around, a lot of noise and an intense fishy smell...
After having found our gin and beer, buying meat (our main goal) was a serious job for Eltje and Mata. It took them some hours while Rene and Hermann waited patiently in the heat for their return. They sadly did not succeed, they returned with 10 kg onions and some smelly fish covered with flies. Nice try however.
After lunch, you know our menu as good as we do, we started day two on the moon.
It went very well. We added 98 more stations in the log so now we have 225 inits. Astonishing even in our eyes.
Even very small pistols made it into our log. It always gives a good feeling making many happy with a new country. That feeling (and we know that thrill) gives the final boost to us!
After diner (old onions and fresh bought onions with fish) we saw that TV repairmen were very busy repairing TV sets in our town. We took a picture, see our site. People seem to have problems with reception as we were told. Only during even minutes. We know nothing off course.
Though we have a faint idea about the cause but nobody actually knows that we use radiowaves. We always tell people (when asked) that we measure the distance to the moon all over the world. We tell that we are scientists from the university of Wienerschnitzel, this prevents a lot of questions.
Tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, May 9th and 10th, we will do other things.
We will be back on 144 MHz sunday May 11th and we will be QRV than from moomrise to moonset on 144.134 MHz, always first.
Please consider that we have slow internet, but we try to upload some pictures daily under button MEDIA.
Wednesday May 7th we managed to get our station on the air. All systems went well, we had good output and after a good lunch (onions with rice and fish) we were able to do our first efforts when the moon rose above the mosque.
It went very well. We have no QRM, the signals are coming through and Atletico team had the good old feeling back, the real African feeling. And we saw our own echoes, it works!
Hermann wanted some beer so Eltje voluntary went for shopping. After more than two hours he returned after having walked for more than 6 miles in the burning heat on bare feet. But Hermann could be pleased with some local beer.
The dinner was something completely different. Yes, we had fish (in butter fried sole) with rice and onions, but we had cucumber (in slices) too and salad. Because the salad was cleaned in water from the tap, we did not dare to eat it because it is not recommended unless you want to stay on the toilet for the rest of the week...
After 6 hours we had the pleasure to reach our first goal: 100 inis in the logs.
We celebrated it. Hermann found out that some of his beer had vanished out of the fridge, perhaps the long walk had been too much for someone in this thirsty country? No suspects were found and the evidence was circumstantial...
However, we continued until moonset and we got the nice score: 127 inits in 35 DXCC for the first day. Not bad, we never did this before from Africa.
Onions and fish: Atleticoteam's new secret weapon! We have a nose for it.
Tomorrow, May 8th, QRV from moomrise to moonset on 144.134 MHz, always first.
We have slow internet, we try to upload some pictures daily on our site: http://www.emelogger.com/6w onder button MEDIA.
Monday May 5th we arrived in Senegal. We had no problems with customs. But on our way out of Dakar airport we experienced the warm welcome we usually experience in Africa.
Many men wanted to help us with our luggage and one of them even presented himself as our driver and asked for parkingmoney etc. After a long journey it is always difficult not to be taken advantage of. But after a while we found our real driver and we saw that our new made friends lost their smiles. So be it....
We arrived in the house, just 100 feet from the ocean. Good take off and good chanse for groundgain we hope. After a good meal (rice and fish with onions) we could take a rest and get some sleep.
Tuesday we started the day buying airtime for internet and after a good lunch (onions with fish and rice) we started building the station in the tropical heat.
All on schedule. We found a good place on our flat roof and we had a lot of pleasure making sure that everything will work as we expect.
After diner (rice with onions and fish) we continued with our efforts to get good internet. Problem is that internet is slow and it is not always there. We are used to it, we can not help it, we are in Africa you know.
Tomorrow, wednesday May 7th we will continue the building.
Atletico plus team is dreaming of hitting the moon hard.
Will be continued....