We were ready !
The entire FT4JA team is now safe back in Mayotte after 2 days on the sea.
Just a bit more than 2 weeks ago we were arriving on Juan de Nova. A French island in the middle of the Mozambique Channel.
It took us one and a half day to set-up our camp: shelters, generators, antennas, stations. We started our operations in the afternoon of March 30th.
Immediately, all stations were on the air and the pileups were big, as expected!
As planned, we did not waste one minute and we started following the propagation plan to give everyone a chance. Orienting the pileup by area was not too difficult and almost everyone was collaborating, understanding the propagation rules.
With only 10 op to manage radios and the life at the camp, we achieved to keep a 10 000 qsos per day rate! We did not slept much !
Thanks to a good setup, and been on right frequency at the right time, even the most difficult areas to contact got their chances. We had long runs with NA west coast with huge signals on many bands, as well as VK/ZL aera. It was not a surprise to get the longer and stronger openings with EU and JA. People in AF and SA got also opportunities.
The home-made VDA antennas on high band performed very well one more time, giving us excellent signals. They were even over performing at high tide!
The low band setup performed pretty well. As usual finding a good compromise for receiving on 80-160 required a couple of days. We spent hours trying to improve the systems and make changes up to a reliable solution. The noise level is this areas was often very high, with lightnings over the ocean every nights. It seams that the top band signal was quite strong everywhere that everyone thought he should be heard easily by FT4JA. Keep in mind that it’s a two way radio contact and that your signal should reach the DX station too ! By the way, 2331 qso on 160 and 3523 on 80 seams a good result.
Conditions on Juan de Nova have been very difficult, sometimes dangerous for the health of ops. Temperature were incredibly high, sometimes with no wind at all. Even the water of the lagoon was so hot that is was useless to refresh ops ! Swimming session were very limited due to the presence of sharks that are never very far from the shore. We had quite a long walk between the radio and life camp, involving 12 hours shifts. Some days we had to face storms that damage antennas or generators shelter, requiring lot of work by ops to fix things without interrupting the operation.
All the equipment ran under hard conditions but we didn’t got a single failure. Once more, we have been impressed by the Elecraft K3. The addition of the new SPE Expert 1.3 amplifiers appears to be an excellent choice. None of them even turn on protection once. All others parts and accessories supplied by Spiderbeam, Messi & Paolini, Dx Engineening/KD9SV, Microham, Modmic, SunSDR, GM0OBX cables did a wonderful job and have contributed to the success of the operation.
We managed to keep good rates, and stay focused on the propagation to give a chance to everyone. 25 156 unique calls is a satisfaction even if we regret that some of you have not been able to come through. Even stations with a very small setup have been able to make a contact.
In addition to the amateur radio aspects, we were concerned by the preservation of the nature and environement. We will explain later all the actions conducted all along the operation. The island was left exactly like it was when we arrived. That should be, and that is really a priority is our hamradio dxpeditions.
As you know, the OQRS system has been turned on. We highly recommend you to use it for your qsl cards request. As a reminder, we will use a special envelop and stamps, like we did for Tromelin. Do not hesitate to add a donation, even a small one, to help us to balance the cost of the project. We will design the card in the coming days and print it as soon as possible. Lotw upload will be done after the first batch of corrections.
FT4JA is now QRT with 105 570 is the log. We sincerely hope you had the same pleasure as us in that adventure. Thank you for all your kind emails and comments. We’ll probably not be able to reply to all of them but let us tell you THANK YOU!
This is not over, we still have to get all the equipment back in France, work on articles, video. Team members will try to come and tell you our story in different conventions, meetings, etc.
This project was made possible thanks to TAAF. Not only for all authorizations, but also for all the help and support provided from the beginning to the end of the project. They have a very important mission in protecting this islands. Let’s hope, that through our amateur radio expeditions we can continue to support their actions.
See you soon! Where are we going next?