[SUMMARY] – In 2018, on Baker Island in scorching heat, exhausted operators spent a day dismantling 11 tents, 12 antennas, 5 generators, radios, computers, Ethernet stretching hundreds of feet, desks, CHAIRS, trash and hauled it all back to the boat.

On the voyage back to Fiji we wondered if there wasn’t a better WAY. With funding from the Northern California DX Foundation George Wallner, AA7JV, put together a team to create that new way. Welcome to the RIB (Radio in a Box).

VP6A was the first full deployment of the RIB on a rare location.

On 24 June at 16:00 UTC, VP6A went QRT after making just under 62,000 QSOs of which 24%, 15,000 were unique calls. DXCC was obtained on 6 bands.

There were 4 stations on the island. One used by AA7JV, W6IZT and KN4EEI on the boat and 3 others operatated by 34 remote operators from 11 countries. Those operators were: 9V1YC, AA1V, AA7A, CT1BOH, CT1EEB, CT1ILT, DJ4MX, F6EXV, JN1THL, KC1KUG, KY7M, KD4Z, KL7YL, KO8SCA, K1DG, K4NHW, K6GFJ, K6TD, K6UFO, KL2A, K6MM, ND2T, N1DG, N2IC, OH2BH, PB8DX, PY5EG, VE4EA, VE5MX, VK3GK, W0GJ, W1RM, W1VE and W8HC.

Some stats:

  • Set Up Time: Radios 1, 2 and RIB2 4 hours.
  • Radio 3 on the third day.
  • Tear Down: 1 hr 50 min to off the island.
  • Total Op Time: 13 1/2 days.
  • Total Fuel Used: 80 gallons = 0.0013 gallons / QSO (5 ml/QSO)

Attached are two pictures. The first with our fully deployed station. The second 2 hours later.

Mother Nature and satellite latency threw us curve balls but we are extremely happy with the final result. We hope our audience is too.

See you from our next location.

NOTE: The VP6A operation was made possible by the NCDXF funding of the RIB development and construction. Please show your support by donating to the NCDXF so more operations like these can take place along with more innovation.

The VP6A Team. 

[JUNE 24] – After 60,000+ QSOs, the Ducie Radio RIB experiment will come to a close at 16:00 UTC 24 June 2023.

[JUNE 22] – With operations sometimes hampered by rough seas around the island (not helping the team fix antennas), VP6A continues activity. Picture shows Gregg W6IZT operating:

[JUNE 16] – By George AA7JV @ VP6A

VP6A is on the air with four stations. We have started with two remotely operated FT8 stations and one locally operated CW/SSB station. The remote FT8 operation is going well with over 20,000 QSO-s in the log. The local CW and SSB operation has been serious curtailed by the difficult conditions we are operating under.

When we arrived at Ducie, the entrance to the lagoon, where it is easy and safe to land — and where past DXpeditions were operating from — was completely blocked by huge crashing waves. We have established a very precarious hold for the boat on the exposed north shore and landed the RIB boat across the rocky bars and surf.
The three of us — KN4EEI, W6IZT and AA7JV — have been working hard to keep the boat safe and to keep the stations operating. We have only a limited time to operate the local SSB/CW station. We understand that demand for CW and SSB is high. We have just brought on the air the fourth station, which is a remotely operated CW station. We hope this will be able to satisfy the demand for more CW operations.

We continue hanging on under difficult conditions. Forecasts indicate favorable weather for the next two days, followed by some very strong NW winds and the passage of a cold front. This will require us to relocate for one or two days. Once the front has passed, we will be able to return to the north shore, hopefully for the rest of the operation.

This is an entirely self-funded DXpedition, mainly to prove that remote operation is possible with a small support team and a minimal footprint. As environmental restrictions increase, this may be the only future way to activate many much wanted entities. We appreciate the support of the Amateur Radio community in our efforts. 

[JUNE 14] – Courtesy of team VP6A, here’s a first glance of Ducie Island with antennas on shoreline. They hope to be active on 6 & 60m by the weekend. Low bands (80/160m) are not productive; CQ on CW = no response. 3 of 4 stations assembled so far. 

[JUNE 14 @ 0645z] – VP6A has been active approx 36 hours. Log is uploaded to Club Log regularly (currently ~10K QSOs). Bands used so far: 40, 30, 20, 17, 15 & 12m. Recording below of 40 CW signal by EA1DR.

[JUNE 12] – The Magnet has reached Ducie Island. High seas are slowing deployment. Expect to be QRV on 13 June (00:00) UTC. Planned operating frequencies shown below:

[PREVIOUSLY] – VP6A will be on the air from Ducie Island (OC-182) from June 11-24, 2023 (actual dates will be subject to WX). There will be five stations on the air on all bands from 160 to 6 meters, working CW, SSB and FT8.

Following the successful test of remote operations at FO/AA7JV, where over 11,000 remotely operated QSOs were made by five remote operators, VP6A will apply this concept to a full rare island DXpedition.

A total of 14 operators based in North American, Europe and Asia will operate land based remote controlled stations around the clock. There will only be three local operators at Ducie: W6IZT, KN4EEI and AA7JV. This small team will set up and maintain the stations and operate locally from the nearby boat. They will visit the island once a day to refuel the generators and do any necessary maintenance. In line with the minimum foot-print concept, there will be no camping on the island.

This will be the first full DXpedition utilizing the RIB concept that features a large number of remote operators with a small footprint on a remote island. Four RIBs (Radio In a Box) will provide a total of 5 stations capable of 24/7 operation on 10 bands.

The RIBs feature complete stations capable of up to 1 kW in a weather-tight housing that allow remote operation. These RIBs were developed with support from Northern California DX Foundation. The goal is to enable a new, minimum impact operating mode for environmentally sensitive areas. RIBs also speed up the installation of stations. This will enable our small three-person team to build the five stations, including antennas, in a relatively short time.

All donations should be made to the Northern California DX Foundation. Ducie island is No 56 on Club Log’s most wanted list. On the 6 meter band it is No. 26, therefore given we will be active during the E season, a special focus will be placed on 6 meter operation with gain antennas and a power amplifier. Additional details and the list of operators, as well as regular updates will be posted on the VP6A QRZ.com page.