On January the 11th it was once again time to pack radio stuff and move to the West Coast of Flanders to put up our antennas and eavesdrop the airwaves for the most distant signals. Weather was fine so putting up the different antennas was going more or less without major issues. At first sight, the fields where looking fine but still it turned out that the clay sticked tightly to our boots making walking around difficult. This time we opted to move the (80-260°) reversible beverage antenna to 70-250°. It seemed to be not such a good choice while it’s performance was definitely lower than during previous editions of our DX-peditions here. But it just could have been propagation as well. We also had some bad luck with a bad connection caused by a plug.
The North American antenna which we pointed previously to 290° was moved to 325°. We never before heard West coasters here and while solar cycle is at its low end and indices are also low, we would give that a try. Also a real Alaska antenna at 350° was erected and one for Japan at 40°. All were between 300 and 400 meters long. There was also an impressive number of other antennas like a verticals, KAZ, double LZ1AQ loop, Stampfl AD2 and an AN1.
|Plenty of space for Beverage antennas, at least for Central European standards.|
|Newcomers Aart and Han|
But that was just a feeling I presume while as the dxpedition went by we had to reconsider our thoughts. There were not as much signal from the Far East as previously but then a few stations from Japan that were never heard before gave excellent signal. Amongst them JOER RCC Chugoku Hoso on 1350 kHz
On Saturday afternoon Aart yelled “Alaska” via our WhatsApp alarm line. And indeed, bits and traces where audible and we could verify that it really was KBRW on 680 by checking the online stream. But signal stayed unfortunately so low that almost nothing was understandable besides one or two words somewhere, and by the time we reached the top of the hour the Spanish adjacent channels was so strong that all signals on 680 where drowned. So it was clear that propagation wasn’t going to reach the levels it reached 2 or 3 weeks before when KBRW was even heard on an ALA loop antenna in central Europe. Although we had a specific Alaska beverage. But we need a challenge for next time.
No worries, there was still a lot to come. As said above we moved our North America antenna from 290° to 325°. That was a big goal. This direction points to the West Coast, to Vancouver Canada to be precise. During live listening we already found that Spanish stations weren’t disturbing Trans-Atlantic channels as much as before and several stations from the Midwest where found at decent levels. But when analysing files at home later, the big revelation came. Especially Marc Vissers clung to the subject and found almost 40 “First logs” mostly from the Midwest but also several from the West-Coast and a few had really good strength. In fact it was the first time we were able to hear Westcoasters during a DXpedition.
You can take a look at Marc's TA-Logs here.
Several other participant were busy testing other kinds of antennas and comparing software solutions. Trying to keep up with latest SDR-console possibilities is also always impressive.
Frank Huyghe, our FAX guru was a bit disappointed by the results he got in his hobby section.
And besides DXing, there is always time for good food and drinks and exchanging ideas about this most interesting hobby.
Next appointment at Knollehof will be next November.
A lot more about our DXpedition can be found on this FB-group.