NEWS UPDATE — We have closed the books on the VP8PJ DX-pedition to the South Orkney Islands. Due to the global pandemic our equipment was returned to California about two months later than planned. Nothing was missing or damaged during the extended journey. Thanks to the worldwide clubs / foundations, the DX community and our corporate sponsors, the project met all operational and financial goals. We appreciate the continued support from the DX community.

Consistent with our commitment to upload the complete VP8PJ log to LoTW six months following the DXpedition, Tim M0URX will upload the complete log on 15 September. Planning for our next project is underway. Exact timing will depend on lifting of the global travel restrictions, issuance of the landing permit and ship scheduling, early 2022 is the plan.

Watch for press releases as this new project unfolds.

73, VP8PJ Leadership Team

MARCH 6 @ 17:30 UTC – Most of the equipment has now been transferred from the island to the Braveheart, with only a few items left to ferry over. Many team members are already on the Braveheart, the remaining team will be aboard within the next two hours. It has been raining most of the day with cold gusty winds. We are all very tired! Everyone will sleep well aboard the Braveheart tonight.

MARCH 5 @ 11:15 UTC — We are pleased to report that we are nearing 70,000 QSOs in the log. Our plan is to remain active on the bands throughout the day. We anticipate ending radio operations and going QRT at or near 23:59 UTC. Our attention overnight and tomorrow will be devoted to the large chore of packing the gear and then dismantling the camp. As stated previously, we will attempt an upload of the log once aboard the Braveheart as we prepare for departure from Signy Island.

MARCH 4 @ 14:45 UTC — After consultation with the Braveheart skipper this morning, we will now leave Signy Island on Saturday March 7th. Improving weather and sea conditions are more favorable for a later departure. We will extend our on air operations by another full day. We will now operate through most of Thursday March 5th. Please disregard the earlier notice on the end of operations being later today.

MARCH 3, 2020 — 80m antenna repaired earlier today. As the day progresses we will be on all open hf bands. Special emphasis tonight on 40m, 80m, and 160m, using both CW and FT-8 modes. Weather depending, Wednesday March 4th will be the last full day of operations. Shutdown time to be announced. We plan to use most of the day Thursday to completely tear down the operating positions and the camp.

MARCH 2 @ 12:00 UTC — Depending on weather and sea conditions, we anticipate the following schedule:

  • Radio operations will continue through March 4th.
  • Teardown remaining equipment / camp on March 5th.
  • Depart Signy Island on March 6th.

Should this schedule change, it will be immediately announced.

MARCH 1 @ 17:30 UTC — The team remains in good spirits. We’re continuing to make ourselves available on the bands. Heavy winds returned last night and today. Several of the verticals have been damaged, the team is out repairing them now. Approaching 51,000 total QSOs in the log. Next log update possibly in the next 24 hours.

FEBRUARY 29, 2020 – After a storm blew through we’re currently experiencing the weather conditions we expected. The antennas are staying up, with only some challenges with the larger verticals. The WeatherPort buildings have performed as expected, even with occasional wind gusts that we estimate at 75 – 80 kph, or higher.

We have reports of missing FT8 QSOs, we can not fix that on the island; Tim M0URX will handle the missing contacts once he has all the FT8 files.

We must depart the island by the afternoon of Thursday, March 6th. Depending on the weather, we expect to begin tearing down the camp on Wednesday, March 4th. We estimate (with reasonable weather) March 4-5 for the tear down, load the ship and be ready to sail on Thursday.

Estimated time at sea is 5 full days, and arrive at the entrance to the harbor on the evening of March 11th.

We will unload the ship on March 13 and turn the equipment over to our Customs Broker.

Braveheart will leave Punta Arenas on March 15th.

FEBRUARY 27 @ 18:00 UTC — Unable to go back to boat today, snow storm and very cold wind. Maybe tomorrow for log upload. The team can only send logs from the Braveheart as the terrain on the island blocks the path to the satellite.

—> VP8PJ LOGSEARCH <—

FEBRUARY 25 @ 21:00 UTC — We are having spotty success getting an adequate signal from the satellite, even from the ship. We’ve been in contact with the service provider and we all agree that the problem is the terrain and the satellite’s low angle in the sky.

That said, we’re here to work DX and will deal with the usual challenges all DX-peditions to the Southern Ocean tend to experience. One of the ship’s crew asked “they make a contact on the radio and need to Internet to confirm they made the contact?”. Interesting observation from a fellow that knows little about ham radio.

We ask that people do not send us or the pilots e-mails asking about logs, if we can get uploads done, we will. If not you’ll have to do your best to get a contact. This is an experienced DX-pedition and Contest team, if you hear them repeat your call you’re in the log.

The pileups have been what we expected, always energetic, sometimes chaotic but no surprises. The team is working under very cold and windy weather conditions, with snow at night. Doing any work outside is challenging anytime and can not be done at night.

FEBRUARY 25 @ 12:20 UTC – Log Uploads. Lots of emails and general angst over log uploads. If and when an upload occurs it will be immediately announced. As mentioned in the earliest days of the operation, having a consistent and stable connection with the available satellites has shown to be a challenge. Thus far, the DXpedition has made itself widely available on many bands and modes. This will continue. Our goal is to provide as many ATNO contacts as possible.

FEBRUARY 23, 2020 — We are unable to find a solid satellite connection on the island. We are waiting to change to a different satellite, but it’s not clear there will be any difference. We know it is not a hardware problem because we have 3 satellite terminals of this model and one of another model. If we can not find a solid connection we will try to upload logs from the ship every day, and even that path to the satellite is very poor.

They are are continuing to install additional antennas today. It’s cold and difficult to use hand tools in the wind.

FEBRUARY 22 @ 22:10 UTC – Look for VP8PJ to become active on 20m, 40m, and possibly 160m in the following hours. Operating positions will slowly come online as antennas and station configurations are completed. In the earliest hours of the operation, there will be NO real-time logging available. Announcement on the real-time logging being active will follow.

FEBRUARY 21 @ 15:30 UTC – The process of assembling the camp continues and is going well, but will continue throughout today and tomorrow. At this juncture, we anticipate being “on the air” sometime on Sunday the 23rd. Announcements regarding this will be forthcoming.

FEBRUARY 21 @ 13:30 UTC— The ice has cleared enough to get the equipment ashore. Twelve team members on the island moving equipment to our preferred site. Two team members on the ship assisting with the off loading. It will take today and tomorrow to set up camp. It’s cold, light winds, but dry at the moment.

FEBRUARY 20  @ 15:00 UTC – After initial survey, we’re waiting for a wind change which is expected tomorrow. If the ice situation does not change significantly, we’ll try an alternate site tomorrow. Currently, cold with occasional snow flurries.

FEBRUARY 20 @ 12:30 UTC – We have ice to contend with regarding our planned landing area. The ice was pushed in during the previous days, but we are expecting the winds to change and blow the ice out. We are currently looking for an alternate site to unload, then move the equipment to the planned site. An alternative camp/operations area is being considered as we evaluate current conditions.

FEBRUARY 20 @ 08:00 UTC – Braveheart & team arrived Signy island. They are anchored offshore. Zodiac trips unloading equipment will commence soon.

FEBRUARY 19 @ 12:20 UTC – The Braveheart is on schedule with the team reporting relatively smooth seas. Arrival to Signy Island expected later today.  Operations to go ashore expected to commence early tomorrow.

FEBRUARY 18 @ 17:00 UTC – Approx 350 miles to run. Few icebergs in the vicinity. Tracker

FEBRUARY 18 @ 0800 UTC – Good progress being made. Seas appear decent.

FEBRUARY 17 @ 1800 UTC Approx 600 miles to go.

FEBRUARY 17 @ 0800 UTC. The team power on towards South Orkney. Winds / seas seem reasonable.

FEBRUARY 15 @ 18:00 UTC – Team now on their way. [tracker]. HyGain vertical installed. Standby for ZL1NA/MM later.

Credit: N7QT)

FEBRUARY 15 @ 12:00 UTC – We’re on schedule to depart Punta Arenas this afternoon (3PM local). In one hour at 10AM local we will leave the hotel and move to the Braveheart with our personal gear. You can track our progress while at sea:

FEBRUARY 14 – This morning’s schedule was reversed due to late arriving fuel trucks. We loaded the team’s equipment first and will take on fuel this afternoon.

Everything looks to be in good order and the crew is busily stowing the equipment in a particular sequence so we can reverse the process and offload in a priority sequence.

The weather is cool, with some periods of rain. We had coffee with Skipper Matt and owner Nigel, then outside to watch the loading process.

We’re on schedule for Saturday afternoon departure.

FEBRUARY 12 – The team will use callsign ZL1NA/MM during the voyage between Punta Arenas to Signy Island. QSL also via M0URX. In addition, Nigel Jolly arrived Punta Arenas. He contacted the freight agent and arranged to load the Braveheart on Friday morning. Team still on schedule to leave for Signy on Saturday.

FEBRUARY 11, 2020 — So far, all on schedule. Most of team arrived in Punta Arenas, Chile with the longest travel time being 40 hours: Perth, Australia => Sydney => Auckland => Santiago, Chile => Punta Arenas. Remainder of the team due on Wednesday. Braveheart expected in on Feb 13th or 14th, we load the ship on the 14th and depart for Signy Island on Feb 15th. Depending on the weather, 6 days travel time to the island.