MARCH 21, 2017 — 9G5X – Final Day

The crew here at 9G5X are starting to wrap up for our last day here in Ghana. The 5 Band Spiderbeam and 12m mast in the garden area was taken down this afternoon, leaving the HF beams on the roof and our LF aerials.

Tonight (Monday) evening we had the most enormous thunderstorm with torrential rain and the heavy QRN to go with it. Bob, 5B4AGN is doing his best on LF, but sadly 160 and 80m are almost unusable because of QRN. Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do about conditions.

The low band aerials are coming down early Tuesday at first light, but we will be on tomorrow (Tuesday) until about 13z, using the remaining two beams on the roof. At about 14z we all start to take down the rest our HF aerials and pack up for the red-eye flight leaving Accra for London Heathrow at 23:00z.

It has been great fun working all you guys from down here at Aburi, north of Accra. This place is an outstanding radio QTH and we’ve had the run of the garden and the hotel roof for aerials. The only downside has been the regular power outages, which have plagued us from time-to-time.

Sweet Mother Eco Lodge isn’t Five Star, but our hosts have been very accommodating and, of course, we’ve had a great time running the pile-ups and working all you guys. For future 9G operations, this is a good place for a radio DXpedition with ham friendly owners. The food and the accommodation are only just adequate, but for two weeks, we’ve managed very well. The locals Ghanaians are lovely folks, who are convinced that we are all certified, but still treat us as valued guests.

Sure, there are things we could have done better, but this was a holiday DXpedition and we took no donations or requested donations. It was all pretty laid back and a lot of fun. What you see is what you get, and we hope you managed at least one 9G5X QSO. Charles M0OXO has done a great job getting logs into Clublog and on to LoTW. If you have logging queries, we’ll do our best to help, if you drop Charles an email.

Can I say that in our experience, some of the very loud Italians using code readers on CW made working them slow and difficult. There are, without doubt, some top-line Italian ops, but only a few. Working the guys with code readers is a nightmare, requiring us to repeat the exchange and their call multiple times.

The best way to work us, is to call once, then listen, if no response then call once again, then listen. One call only is best, then listen. Don’t all call up 1, but spread out up to say +1 to +3 on CW and. Up to 15 kHz on SSB. Again, call just once then listen and don’t leave a huge time gap with no repeat of your call. We hear summat like “SVD” as we tune over the pile up. It could be Andy or an IK6, but then often we hear nothing for ages. Drop your in call regularly, maybe every 2 seconds, but only once, but time it right!

We really don’t care if you are in MI or FL or Aberystwyth, and we don’t need your name or QTH or inside leg measurement. Once we have your call, we don’t need it repeating four times plus 73 and best DX. Just “599 TU” is good, if you are sure that we have your callsign logged correctly.

The number of casual dupes has shocked us and sometimes yesterday when I was on 17m CW in the late afternoon maybe three out of ten QSOs were duplicates. None of us get this. Clublog tells you which band and mode you’ve worked us, so why keep calling us?

Enough of our thoughts. We just hope we’ve given some of you a new bandslot or mode from Ghana. The pile ups here have been insane, but great fun to run. RTTY was a blast on 18 MHz yesterday with many Gs worked whilst the RDX contest was ongoing. We decided to stick to just one band for RTTY to avoid working the same big hitters over and over again. Quite a few people managed a new one on RTTY with our single band strategy. Of course, others bugged us constantly for other bands.

We have about 29K QSOs in the log up to now. We are not trying to beat other scores since this is a group of only six guys working the radios part-time. Some of the guys have been sight-seeing and enjoying the radio only when they can or when they feel like it. We didn’t have strict shift rotas here, it is was all very free and easy.

We’ve had a fabulous time with a lot of laughs at some of our (bad) habits and frailties, which is about what you would expect from a group of known reprobates. Thank you for the great QSOs and the fine operating skills exhibited by G and EI operators, who to us were among the best. You are all a credit to the hobby.

73 until next time.

Steve Wilson, G3VMW for the 9G5X crew.


MARCH 14 — We had our first brief opening on 10m today and worked a lot of southern EU stations, but propagation was poor further north into EU. The only G worked was G4CCZ.

12m has been quite good at times, but the opening is here is short and at best, only for an hour or two around 12z.

160m and 80m were very good last night and Bob and I plan to be there again tonight from about 21z onwards, although I doubt we will be QRV all night. We worked a couple of ZLs on 80m this morning at around 06:15z, and 80m might be a good bet for the ZLs needing 9G.

G signals generally are really good on all bands with us, but the pile-ups are still quite heavy. However, we do have our G ears turned on, and recognise many of the the calls of our G colleagues calling in the pile-ups.

We plan to try some RTTY tomorrow, probably on 20m to start with. Over the weekend we will be on RTTY and WARC bands, away from the contest activity

Some of the guys have gone off to look at the old slave forts along the Cape Coast at Elmina today, so we are down to only three ops.

We are still troubled with our KAT-500 amplifiers tripping out, either from RF or low volts. This is despite the big voltage regulator we’ve borrowed to stabilize the mains volts, which often drops to 190 volts. We are also experiencing daily power outages and although there is a standby generator here, changeover is not automatic, and very slow.

All of us were delighted with Iain M0PCB’s effort in the Commonwealth Contest, despite poor conditions. A great way to celebrate his 32nd birthday.

This is a fabulous site for radio, high in the hills above Accra, but has very basic accommodation and is still very much work in progress. We have had to put the good resources of Mr. Fred, G4BWP to procure some decent food locally for the cook here to prepare. However, our Dutch host has been very generous in allowing us to rig our many aerials all over the hotel roof and in the grounds.

Finally, we are being constantly troubled by people making duplicate QSOs. Thankfully, not our G friends, but there seems to be a hardcore of EU stations who feel the need to crack the 9G5X pile-up every day, just because they can. It is very annoying!

Thanks for all the QSOs so far and especially to Charles M0OXO for his good work uploading our logs to Clublog and LoTW.

73 Steve, G3VMW and all the 9G5X crew.

MARCH 11 — We now have all the antennas rigged at 9G5X and have tested the 160m
Inverted L (with about 75ft vertical) last night quite successfully. The
80m 1/4 wave vertical works really well and it was great to work many Gs
last night on 80m. Our beverages are shorter than we would like, but do
help on 160m with the high QRN levels.

This weekend is the Commonwealth Contest and Iain M0PCB is setting up
now to operate in the contest. The rest of us will be on the WARC bands
and will try 12m and 17m as much as possible on CW and SSB, with more
30m operation later today.

We have some big problems with amplifiers tripping out, which looks to
be down to very poor earthing on our incoming mains supply, which is
unbalanced and causing us difficulty. We are still investigating and
hope to find a cure.

Latest logs were uploaded by Charles M0OXO this morning and we will
update again tomorrow.

We will be back to normal operation after the Commonwealth Contest
finishes. Do please call Iain using the 9G5X callsign in the contest,
even if you have worked us already on that band. He needs the points!

73, Steve G3VMW for the 9G5X crew

MARCH 10 — Thanks for all the comments. I appreciate what you are saying about taking a special break for VK/ZL stations and we promise that we will do that. What VK stations I have worked have been loud on 30m, and I believe Bob worked a couple of ZLs on 80m earlier today.

Right now, operation has been intermittent because of long hours spent out in the sunshine setting up antennas. We spent several hours setting up the 80m 1/4 wave vertical yesterday, which seems to work very well. We also rigged the second 10, 15, 20m Spiderbeam on the hotel roof. Just the 160m inverted L today to finish and the beverage RX antenas, then we can concentrate on the pile-ups.

So, please bear with us and we will get try to get you all in the log. At the minute the pile-ups are intense and as Roger has said, human nature is such that you want work as many as possible but especially our G friends back home, whom we are hearing well.

I’ll upload the latest 9G5X log in a few minutes for Charles M0OXO to process, and apologies for the dummy QSOs that crept in there yesterday. All has now been corrected and the log has also been submitted to LoTW. We have about 3,200 QSOs so far with not much time behind the radios. That will change very soon, but antennas must come first.

Good luck in the pile-ups.

73, Steve, G3VMW for the 9G5X crew”

MARCH 9 — We all arrived safely late Tuesday night via Heathrow and spent yesterday building our stations and setting up some of the antennas. As you can appreciate this has meant not much operating, although we managed to rig a temporary 30m dipole late last night and that has worked well on 30m.

Current status: One 5B Spiderbeam rigged, one 17m/12m Moxon rigged, 40m dipole and 30m dipole rigged.

Today we are rigging the 160m and 80m inverted Ls and a second Spiderbeam. We have some of the masts for LF aerials already up in the air with pulleys. We should be completely up and running by tonight with three K3/KPA-500 stations

It is hot at 32C and very humid, but not too unpleasant. The site is good although facilities are a little basic. Signals are enormous on all bands and there is little noise at the QTH, which is quite isolated.

We will upload our logs to Charles M0OXO later today and so far we have about 1,500 QSOs in the log from intermittent sessions to test antennas.

We have a couple of problems with our N1MM+ network, which went brain dead after a power cut last night and one of our USB Winkeyers has also partially stopped working, but they should be fixed today.

Hope to get you all in the 9G5X log in the next days.

JANUARY 25, 2017Website now available

9G5X DXpedition to Ghana 7th to 21st March 2017

We’re pleased to announce that a team of six English operators will be travelling to Ghana in March 2017 and will operate on all modes as 9G5X using three Elecraft K3 and KPA-500 stations. We already have the 9G5X license in hand and believe this is the first single letter suffix issued to a 9G DXpedition.

We will have two Spiderbeams up high on the hotel roof for HF, a variety of LF aerials using 18m and 12m Spiderpoles, plus two Beverage RX antennas for 160 and 80m. The operating QTH is approximately 1,000 ft a.s.l., with a clear take off to EU, NA and Asia, all set in 5 acres of sloping grounds. We will be QRV on all bands 160m to 10m and active on CW, SSB and RTTY.

The experienced operating team, which includes three of the recent C5X DXpedition crew members, is as follows:

  • Alan Ibbetson, G3XAQ
  • Steve Wilson, G3VMW
  • Fred Handscombe, G4BWP
  • Bob Henderson, 5B4AGN
  • Iain Kelly, M0PCB
  • Neil Clarke, G6MC

This is a fly-in, fly-out operation and is entirely self-funded. We will not be asking for donations and our aim is to activate a semi-rare country for the sheer fun of it. There is a reliable 3G Internet connection at the operating site and we hope to upload logs to Club Log at least twice every day.

9G5X will have the Club Log Leaderboard function turned ‘on’, and we encourage everyone to work us on as many bands and modes as possible. We all enjoy pile-ups and we will always work split-frequency, but endeavour to keep the pile-up spread as narrow as possible.

Our QSL Manager, Charles Wilmott, M0OXO will upload logs to LoTW on a daily basis. Charles will offer OQRS facilities for 9G5X cards, either direct or via the Bureau.