Saturday, February 7, 2015

Navassa Island is now in my logbook

which is kind of cool. Navassa Island is a small island in the Caribbean that is sided by cliffs and is accessible either by cliff climbers or helicopter.

It has been over 20 years since the Island was on the air and word has if that it is not likely that it will go on the air for another ten after the present DXpedition folds up shop.

I actually made two QSOs with the island, one on 17 meters and the other on the 20 meter band but the log only has me listed for the 20 meter contact. I'm not going to contest the 17 meter contact as one contact lets me claim it as a worked entity and that's good enough for me.

Now for the braggadocio. I worked the 20 meter contact with my PRC 320, a 30 watt backpack rig and on top of that the contact was a split. This means that the Navassa guys were transmitting on one frequency and listening on another. 

My home rig is equipped to work this way if I set it up to. It's a simple process. The PC 320 is not.

I had to have fast hands and click the 10 Khz decade switch a click up to transmit and back down to receive and on top of that for some reason my microphone switch started getting sticky in the cold as I was operating outside in the cold.

It took a couple of hours and probably a couple hundred tries. The brief QSO was a panicky circus. I had to smack the handset to get it to stop transmitting along with clicking the decade switch.  Still, I am solidly in their logbook. In a few days I can order my QSL card.

I have to give the operator a lot of credit for fishing my little hushed whisper out of the din and bedlam of the Big Guns that were in the ruckus. Some of the guys I was competing with have tall antenna towers and amplifiers capable of 1500 watts.

The operator was pretty patient. He heard the last three letters of my call sign and repeated them and I jumped in and gave him the first three and a 5x5 signal report. I was rewarded with hearing him repeat my full call and add a 5x9 signal report and say, "You are in the log."

My antenna was a wire hastily thrown up a tree and the PRC 320 is rated at a mere 30 watts. My guess is that I was generating about 10 after losses from a random wire antenna. It wasn't cut to the proper length and wasn't very harmonic. Fortunately the antenna tuner did its job and made it work even though I wasn't running full power.

That's not bad and I'm pretty proud of the feat.

After that the tension started as the log they maintain electronically is not kept in real time and is only posted once a day. Several hours later I checked and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw I was in it.

Anyway, I'm a pretty happy camper.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

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