Kongsfjord - 70°43'N 29°21'E

KONG4 - report

for Norwegian (less formal) edition, click here

 

Our diary

(Measurements using Geoclock based on the coordinates 70.7254N, 29.3417E). A complete log will be available later on Hard-Core DX, the Norwegian 'DX-News' and Swedish 'Distance'. All times are UTC.

Thursday, October 21st

Sunrise at 0545 and sunset at 1350. The sun was up 8h5m, with a max. elevation above the horizon of 8.7 degrees.

Pre-expedition logs from Bjarne around 0600 on Thursday revealed some interesting signals from North America, including WRDZ Radio Disney 1300 (Chicago) w/ local announcements, KADZ-1620 plus 2-3 other X-band stations.

Arrived at the farm at 1500. All antennas were already erected, so the participants could start DX-ing right away. Conditions weren't too bad with DZAR Angel Radyo 1026 and DYWB Super Radyo 1269 already in the box. KBRW-680 very strong. Arnstein had talked to Roland Sandberg at Lemmenjoki, Finland earlier on, he reported NA's from sunrise and many hours on. However, the sun weather was not at all good, with predictions of unsettled to active levels. We knew little of what was to come!!!

Weather: 5-7°C, windy, occasional rain.

Solar weather: Daily A-index 15, low at 6, high at 32.

Friday, October 22nd

Sunrise at 0550 and sunset at 1345. The sun was up 7h55m, with a max. elevation of 8.3 degrees.

We soon found out that the 400m NA wire didn't perform optimally. We removed the 120m NA wire and connected the former to the other coax lead-in. Much better signal. The "Pacific" wire at 035 degrees seemed to perform better than the "Asia" wire at 085 with regard to Far Eastern signals such as Japan. Less interference from Asian stations located further west.

Not much DX during the night, but in the morning we had some mid-west Canada, Alaska and Western US stations. KKBJ Bemidji MN 1360 was probably the best log. Even an Hawaiian was logged, KAOI-1110 with a fair signal. At 0900 UTC we had an extremely early Japan opening when JOWF STV Sapporo came in with a potent QSA 5 signal. The hours ahead gave us a lot of stations from Japan, with an average of 10 reports each. Indeed, this looked promising!

Then we received news from Boulder, Colorado regarding the solar weather...

Weather: Around 4°C, gale force wind and rain.

Solar weather: Daily A-index 87, low at 19, high at 235!!! Planetary K-indices as high as 8! Severe storm conditions...

Saturday, October 23rd

Sunrise at 0555 and sunset at 1340. The sun was up 7h45m, with a max. elevation of 8.0 degrees.

How is it possible to hear anything at all with A-indices close to 240??? Actually, we do, but not much. After a DX-less night and not much more than KBRW to be heard in the morning, and a short Japan opening at around 1300 the afternoon brought typical aurora conditions with tremendous signals from Thailand, India and Pakistan. One example was Radio Kashmir 792 with Urdu stock market talk and a Castrol Motor Oil advert thrown in! It is a pity that local programming is so scarce. A few NWT stations were audible around 2130.

The combined full moon and aurora borealis transformed the evening dark into a greenish glow. A most spectacular view but one we could do without.

Weather: Cooling off with 2-3°C but only light wind.

Solar weather: Daily A-index 26, low at 11, high at 50.

Sunday, October 24th

Sunrise at 0559 and sunset at 1335. The sun was up 7h36m, with a max. elevation of 7.6 degrees.

Around 0100 good signals from Canada's mid-west followed by half-hour long wipe-outs when the band is completely empty. During the peaks one can enjoy some of the stronger Canadians such as CFRN-1260, CFCW-790 a.o. with 8 kHz bandwidth and AM-sync. - a bit of a contrast to having to fight co-channel splatter during "normal" conditions. From 0600 a few continental US stations as well. Odd-Jørgen joins the relatively exclusive league of Norwegians having heard Hawaii on MW as he logs KAOI Kihei 1110.

At around 0900 we headed for Berlevåg for a most deserved shower and to purchase a King crab for our Sunday dinner. It seemed only appropriate to have KING crab for dinner in our DX-ped at KINGs Bay. The meal was accompanied by Hungarian Tokayer white wine and Sapporo Draft beer, one that we heard several adverts for on JOWF Sapporo 1440. Truly an international meal, since the King crab itself was originally "imported" to this area from the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East. Another tremendous afternoon for the Indian stations; even low-power frequencies like 1602 had S-9 signals from All India Radio.

Weather: 1°C, mostly dry but some sleet towards the evening. Calm.

Solar weather: Daily A-index 23, low at 11, high at 41

Monday, October 25th

Sunrise at 0604 and sunset at 1330. The sun was up 7h26m, with a max. elevation of 7.3 degrees.

Departure day for Odd-Jørgen. Unfortunately, the conditions stay more or less the same. Bjarne drives Odd-Jørgen to the airport at 1000 but misses little. Early afternoon brought a number of Philippines, a.o. DYDW Tacloban 1413, and DWCD Dagupan 1161.

Weather: 2-3°C, increasing wind to gale, rain, rain, rain, and some rain. At least the clouds hid the aurora borealis.

Solar weather: Daily A-index 18, low at 4, high at 31.

Tuesday, October 26th

Sunrise at 0609 and sunset at 1325. The sun was up 7h14m, with a max. elevation of 6.9 degrees. During the short week of the KONG4 dx-ped, the day shortened by more than 50 minutes!

Typical catches during this period were CKSW-570, CHAK-860, CFYK-1340, and many Alberta and Saskatchewan stations, especially those located north in the provinces such as Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Wetaskiwin, St. Paul, Westlock etc.

This was departure day, and ironically enough this last day produced quite a number of North-West US stations, mainly in Washington but some from Oregon too. Three WA/CA stations on 1550 were heard with around equal strength, but only "Yaddi yaddi Radio", KYCY, bothered to ID. Also equal were KARR and KMWX in WA on 1460. By the time we had to roll in the wires, most of the signals were gone, though.

We drove to the airport at 1000, we all booked in on the same flight; while Rolf and Arnstein headed for Trondheim via Oslo, Bjarne went to attend meetings in Alta.

Weather: 2°C, breeze and mostly dry.

Solar weather: Reflected the improved conditions; Daily A-index 9, low at 3 and high at 14, planetary K-indices between 1 and 3.

So what?

Going on a DX-pedition near a solar maximum is a daring affair. All in all though, we rate this the second-best KONG expedition, especially since we had a couple of fine openings towards Japan. However, we did have time to sleep and cook, which is a clear indication that conditions weren't as good as we wanted them to be. Will we do it again? Yes.

We put up an experimental 120m beverage to compare to the 400m we usually use. Alas, it did not perform very well, so it wasn't used. We won't rule out the possibility of it performing better during quiet conditions (as Bjarne's wires in Berlevåg seem to do). We were surprised to see that the 400m wire played better than the Alaska/Hawaii wire for most Alaskan stations too; however we may have been troubled with less-than-optimal grounding conditions on the latter wire.

One specific trouble-maker we had to consider was a Loran C beacon 14 km away (as the crow flies), it transmits on 100 kHz with 200 kW (and with the 400m NA wire pointing directly to it!). Any poor connection in the devices (switches, splitters etc) between the antenna transformer and the receiver, which in other conditions may not be noticed at all, is severly punished by the Loran tx with an enormous noise level. We learned that all connections had to be more or less perfect, and that more than four people sharing equipment and antennas this close to the Loran C will be very difficult. Also, receivers with poorer designed RF front ends than ours will have big problems with the Loran C.

Equipment

Arnstein: JRC NRD-525G, Wellbrook 1:4 splitter/preamp, Sony MZ-R50 Minidisc-recorder

Rolf: JRC NRD-535D, RF Systems 1:4 splitter, Sony MZ-R30 Minidisc-recorder

Odd-Jorgen: Watkins-Johnson HF-1000A, AOR AR7030+, Wellbrook 1:4 splitter/preamp, two Sony MZ-R50 MD

Bjarne: AOR AR7030+, Kneisner+Doering KWZ 30, Wellbrook 1:4 splitter/preamp, Wikander 1:2 splitter/preamp, Sony MZ-R50 and JE-510 Minidisc-recorders.

Antennas:

1. 120 meters at 310 degrees, bearing to the US/Canadian East Coast. Bidirectional. Discontinued.

2. 400 meters at 340 degrees, bearing to the US/Canadian West Coast. Bidirectional.

3. 450 meters at 005 degrees, bearing to Hawaii. Uni-directional.

4. 580 meters at 035 degrees, bearing to Western Pacific Ocean (targets New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji etc.) on the main lobe; Africa and Southern South America on the back lobe. Bidirectional, but later terminated.

5. 500 meters at 085 degrees, bearing to Japan, Philippines, Australia on the main lobe; United Kingdom, Spain and Latin America on the back lobe. Bidirectional, but later terminated.

All antennas were grounded separately and fed to separate RG58 coax cables via home-made 450:50 ohm transformers.

 

 

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