JANUARY 17, 2021 UPDATE by Antoine, 3D2AG for DX-World

The journey back home was long and getting the cargo out of the ship at the wharf in Fiji seemingly even longer in the intense heat, sweat amongst the human bustle and thrown-about copra bags, but in the end all equipment was retrieved and I am also ok, even if not yet fully recovered from the exhaustion and foot infection.Over the next days I will finalise the log transcriptions and upload to Club Log; also slowly getting to answer the flood of emails but first have many urgent tasks on the domestic and QRL side to attend to after a month’s absence. Thanks to all that persevered until the end and congratulations for all the QSOs, especially on 160m and 60m.

JANUARY 11, 2021 UPDATE by Antoine, 3D2AG for DX-World

The boat is still on schedule arriving on the 15th January. Station dismantling is in progress, with the 6m yagi already packed and the Spiderbeam due to be taken down later this morning. As expected, last night was the first really good short-path opening into Europe on 20m, and if it happens again tonight it will have to be done on the inverted-V antenna facing the beach on a high coconut tree. The 160m conditions were poor again this morning, with just one EU station worked, but last night many JAs came in. North America is still very elusive on 160m from here; the inverted-L will be taken down on the 13th Jan and all operations cease by 0000 UTC on the 14th to pack the equipment. Several thousand QSOs were made so far and the logs (both CW and FT8) will be uploaded to Club Log after my return to Fiji. Sometimes stations might not have received their final RR73 on FT8, but nevertheless if reports were exchanged correctly they will be in the log. Fuel is running low, but should last over the remaining days; my health is slowly recovering despite the extreme heat. VY 73s and see you on the bands, Antoine 3D2AG

JANUARY 9, 2021 UPDATE by Antoine, 3D2AG for DX-World

Conditions have been pretty bad last 24hrs, with very little on 160m and higher bands. On 60m OTH radar smothers the band regularly from about 0900 UTC until late morning here. Today or tomorrow will start taking down the 6m antenna, then the Spiderbeam will follow next day. I am slowly regaining use of my foot but the swelling is still quite bad.

JANUARY 8, 2021 UPDATE by Antoine, 3D2AG for DX-World

With 4 days left, the station will begin to be dismantled on the 12th, with only a multi-band wire antenna left until the 13th UTC, packing ready for departure on the 15th. The past two days have been very harrowing, with extreme heat as well as a minor scratch on my foot incurred during antenna work that within hours developed into a full-blown infection. The pain and swelling were intense, and currently am not able to walk. After calling a transport to visit the only health center on the island, I am now on a course of antibiotics and painkillers and hoping to get well enough in time for the station dismantling work. Conditions on the bands have been very variable, with poor long-haul openings to EU last night on the higher bands and also very poor 160m conditions this morning. A couple of days ago, by public demand I put up a 60m antenna, however conditions are marginal and it takes a lot of power to be heard. Luckily, the linear is still working fine after the emergency on-site repair, allowing low bands work. For 160m to EU, I am on every morning between 1630 to 1830 UTC on 1840 KHz FT8, and if conditions permit on 1845 CW, listening up 1. I am seeing a lot of EU stations on my screen, but we have to remember that this is a zero-noise environment here so two-way QSOs are still difficult.

JANUARY 4, 2021 UPDATE by Antoine, 3D2AG for DX-World

The confirmed boat schedule has moved up to the 15th January, meaning that I will need to start dismantling the station on the 12th or 13th; it takes up to a day to setup each band system (Spiderbeam, 160m, 6m) and almost the same to take down and pack on my own in the extreme heat (over 34 deg C). The 60m band was not yet setup but I will see what can do in next days, Conditions have been quite poor past two days, especially on 160m. With the very low noise environment my screen is full of NA and JA stations from 0500 UTC until 1200 or later on 160m, but it seems that I am not heard, even with 600W into the inverted-L. The only good DX past days was some western and eastern EU stations on 160m FT8 in my mornings, via LP between 1700 to 1830 UTC. Nothing much on 6m as well past days, and I may need to take that down first soon. On 80m, after a couple of very good days last month now again I see heaps of EU stations but very few can copy me, strange one-way conditions. Best openings to EU have been via LP on 40m, 20m, 17m and 15m between 0600 to 0900 UTC. Over the last 6 days left, I will try my best to work more 160m EU while fuel lasts – during the day often I am setting up, repairing or improving antennas so I may run FT8 on solar power at those times. The extremely hot and humid WX is very tiring and I am starting to feel the strain, also with various cuts and sprains that infect quickly with the heat. The shelves of the local shops are almost empty and we rely entirely on island-grown food.

JANUARY 1, 2021 UPDATE by Antoine, 3D2AG for DX-World

The 160m inverted-L antenna is now operational and SWR is good. Last night many JAs were worked on FT8, and this morning before and just after my sunrise some EU stations were worked. I will keep trying to be on 160m at my sunrise and sunset times for the remaining days. The latest ‘coconut wireless’ news about the boat on the island is that it will be here a week later than anticipated, but we are waiting for official confirmation from the shipping office in Fiji. WX has been extremely hot, above 32 deg C and we are watching out for any tropical depressions. HNY everyone!

DECEMBER 30 UPDATE by Antoine, 3D2AG for DX-World

I have been monitoring 160m on the 80m antenna and I can receive many stations on FT8 with good reports, from NA, JA and southern/eastern EU at my SR and SS. The generator noise is a bit less so am putting up today the 18m Spiderpole for the inverted-L and looking forward to try some 160m for a few days. GL to all and HNY.

DECEMBER 29 UPDATE by Antoine, 3D2AG for DX-World

Greetings from Rotuma. The linear is still working normally, with the external 12V supply fix. Yesterday the 80m/40m antenna was put up and some pileups worked into the night, with some Europe contacts via the longpath. For 160m and 60m, there is still an unforeseen problem because the diesel generator appears to create much QRN (S9+) on those bands, and I have no line filters or chokes here with me. I will try to see if the issue can be remediated, otherwise there will be no operation on those bands. On other bands, there is little to no noise generated.

Concerning FT8, it has been quite frustrating to say the least with stations calling and apparently not copying me well enough to receive a reply, slowing things down very much. To avoid QRM, the FT8 shall now be only as far as possible on the following frequencies, using multi-streaming; 3567, 7067, 10131, 14067, 18095, 21067, 24910, and 28067. Please send reports only, not grids as it is not F/H mode. So far, the 12m and 10m bands have not really opened here. Some LU, CX and PY stations were heard weakly yesterday (27 Dec UTC) on 6m JT65 between 2100 to 2300Z, but no QSOs made.

WX is very hot, but fine. The boat is still on schedule, arriving here on the 10th January and departing the same day.

DECEMBER 27/28 UPDATE by Antoine, 3D2AG for DX-World

Greetings from Rotuma; some good news that the linear is now back into full action, after several days of trying various repairs with available materials here! Many thanks to Val LZ1VB at ACOM for persevering with circuit modifications and bypasses, and to VK3ZRK and John VK3ATQ of the EMCOM Network for enabling HF PACTOR messaging and interfacing to internet to receive instructions on repairs.

There are only 10 days left, but I will try to get an 80m antenna up despite various logistical issues in finding and getting the line up suitable support trees; it remains to be seen if there will be enough time to setup and dismantle a 160m antenna; I have heard some JA activity on TB during my late evenings.

Today, for the first time SA was copied on 6m JT65 and am hoping for some QSOs in the near future.

DECEMBER 26 UPDATE by Antoine, 3D2AG for DX-World

News reached the island that the return boat to Fiji shall be here on the 10th of January; hence operations will cease by the 8th Jan latest. The memorial service for my late son took place yesterday, and once again I wish to thank all the ham community for the fraternal support that helped me cope with the great tragedy that befell us earlier this year.

Unfortunately, the linear is still not working, but I am in contact with ACOM through PACTOR EMCOM messaging and we are trying various makeshift field repairs, with some encouraging progress. Meanwhile, I have been mostly on FT8 barefoot using either solar power or the generator power on higher bands; some good openings to Europe take place in my evenings between 0600 to 1100 mostly via the longpath on, 15m, 17m and 20m. So far there have been no 10m openings except to VK/ZL and a few 6m openings to ZL and VK, but no JA or NA/SA heard on 6m. Between 1800 to 2000 UTC the 20m and 15m bands open via longpath to USA.

Again, thank you for your patience with the QRP signals and please do not send grids when calling on FT8; send reports instead.

DECEMBER 23 UPDATE by Antoine, 3D2AG for DX-World

Reaching Rotuma on the morning of the 14th December after two days of rough seas, it took until the afternoon of that day to unload all the equipment from the boat, including the generator and 200 liter drum of diesel fuel.

However, the expedition has been already beset by a string of bad luck, this year being not over yet. During the first week two low pressure systems formed west of Rotuma and near Samoa, later merging into a category-3 tropical cyclone that passed to the south of Rotuma and then went on to devastate parts of the northern Fiji Islands. Strong gale-force winds and rain prevented any major antenna work during that week, although the six-meter yagi was assembled and eventually put up, as well as a 30m antenna on a Spiderpole to enable some on-air operation while the rest of the station was being setup. By the 21st of December, the weather cleared and the 5-band Spiderbeam was finally erected and ready. However on the same day, the mains filter of the ACOM 600S linear developed a fault when connected to the generator; two inductors burnt and attempts to repair in the field were unsuccessful and still ongoing.

With now most likely only 100W from the IC-7300, operating plans need to be revised and there may be no 160m activity and perhaps only limited 80m and 40m, with emphasis on 20 to 6m using the directional antennas. It is difficult being heard barefoot, so patience will be required. Moroever, multi-stream FT8 with 100W is not very practical and one or two streams only may be used. While I try to use DX frequencies on FT8 (14067, 18095, 21067..) often when I QSY to these slots few to no stations call and I am obliged to go back to normal FT8 frequencies. Also, please call with reports only and no grids, to make things move faster (multi-stream is NOT F/H). To make things worse, the Windows 10 Enterprise laptop often develops issues with the IC-7300 USB driver and CAT connectivity can be lost at any time, requiring a reboot and making operating very frustrating, with no internet available to find a solution. Despite all these continuing challenges, I look forward to make some more barefoot contacts from Rotuma, while the radio and generator are still working and the weather stays calm (anything could happen still…). There have been some good openings on 6m to Oceania, and also to Europe on 20m and 15m via longpath. When conditions are better I will try to be on CW, otherwise it would have to be on FT8.

VY 73s and wishes for the festive season, Antoine 3D2AG.

DECEMBER 19, 2020 — Nice to see Tony, 3D2AG safe and well on Rotuma after the recent cyclone alert.

DECEMBER 11 UPDATE by Antoine, 3D2AG for DX-World

I enquired again today with the shipping office and the boat is on schedule to depart tomorrow at 6pm. I assume that by the time we reach half-way to Rotuma (perhaps late Sunday) the disturbances will have passed, however I am a bit concerned about heavy seas. The generator is already loaded on the ship this afternoon, as well as some other heavier stuff. I will call again in the morning to check if there is any change in the schedule. Packing is continuing here; to make matters worse we have a widespread water cut this part of the island.

DECEMBER 9 UPDATE by Antoine, 3D2AG for DX-World

Preparations for the Rotuma trip are underway, and most of my station is dismantled and being packed for transfer to Rotuma. Operating with minimal antennas and a spare radio tonight, barefoot. Unfortunately the bands are very good, but it is the curse of DXpeditioners…busy packing. We are closely monitoring a tropical disturbance heading towards Rotuma, as this could potentially develop into a cyclone by Friday and delay departure (Media Release No. 6.pdf (met.gov.fj)). I will send more updates as they come to hand.

By Antoine, 3D2AG for DX-World: November 24, 2020

Just to inform you that the Rotuma 2020-2021 “Rehanisi Memorial DXpedition” appears to be on track. Today, I am expected to purchase the boat tickets, while departure has been set to the 12th of December, with a return (no exact date confirmed yet) around the middle of January. I will be taking the memorial tombstone for my son, along with wreaths for a family ceremony planned soon after arrival.

Some news received from the island suggests that the generator I used last time (left by the 3D2EU group) is no longer available for hire, hence I am looking at purchasing a 5KVA diesel generator and fuel here in Suva before leaving, for linear-amp operation on low bands. A few models were found and will try and finalise a purchase soon (cost is about 1,400 USD). Much of the heavier equipment such as coaxial cables, Spiderbeam and 160m antenna poles was left on the island in January, for use this time round. With the rising SFI figures and high sunspot activity, while a low-band focus will try to be maintained, it may turn out that the higher bands (17, 15, 12, 10 and 6m) might have the most conditions.

JANUARY 16, 2020 

We wish to express our most profound gratitude and appreciation to all the radio friends who have shown their overwhelming outpouring of sympathy messages, kind words, moral support and donations to our family after the extremely tragic personal loss we suffered during our last days in Rotuma. To know that we have so many friends all over the world is really a humbling experience and a wonderful tribute to the solidarity of our great hobby in times of crisis. RIP Rehanisi N’Yeurt, 11 Feb. 2009 – 09 Jan 2020 – Forever in our hearts…