HBØ-EME DX-Expedition in October 2007 – a review.
For some time now we had the inclination to plan a DXpedition. Ideally our destination should be within reasonable traveling distance for us and must prove to be a popular selection with as many takers as possible. The choice fell on Liechtenstein HBØ, as I knew of a excellent location 2015 metres above sea level on the Sareiserjoch and also known as /P QTH of the famous radio operator Pierre – HB9QQ†. (please read also here what a great EME pioneer Pierre has been)After quick consultation if this DXCC was in demand ,the decision was finalized. HBØ is mainly sought after out-side off Europe as I made a request on MoonNet. That myself DK5EW and DK5TE as 2m operators it was clear that we could only service this demand only over EME.
A group of 4 times 10 elements yagis was built for the DX Expedition. With 16dB(D) and corresponding QRO it should produce a reasonable signal to the moon . Two weeks before the big day the antenna group in H-frame was tested,and found to be good. The weight and ease of handling was also of great importance ,it should be light and field operative for quick and easy assembly . The rig comprised of my IC-7400, HA1YA (GS35b) PA and a MFG1302 PreAmp. Stephans 600watt BEKO and his IC-746 would be used as back-up.
So Stephan and I met on Saturday morning at 5am and drove with a fully packed Galaxy (my Ford) to Liechtenstein arriving shortly before 9am in Malbun. Once there , we had the small matter of transporting all of our equipment from car , to chairlift, from chairlift to the hut up in the mountain. 2 hours and 7 fully packed chairlifts later we had arrived. We were very kindly allowed the use of the HB9QQ’s antenna mast and by 15.00 hrs we were ready to attempt our first signal.
It was a big surprise when we immediately received an answer from DL8GP after we had only some TX tries – he had been waiting for us on the MakeMoreMilesonVHF announced frequency. It was clear that our QSO had been quickly picked up in Cluster and corresponding chats. The pile up had begun and we had only 1 and a half hours until the moon went down. So already on the first day we could complete 11 EME contacts.
We had the exceptional luck that the weekends weather was ideal. So in the evening we attempted to send via Tropo conditions. The only entirely open direction from Sareiserjoch is in the direction W- NW. The OM’s on the Atlantic coast could be served with 9+20 signals. It quickly became apparent that we were dealing with a typical high inversion layer where the signal cannot connect with lower lying stations. Making the best out of a bad situation, we contacted several stations in F/DL/PA/I/G with HBO bringing them cheer.
After 19.30 in the evening we were alone in the mountain hut. The hostess, who is incidentally an excellent cook, left the QTH for home. In between operating on radio we had enough time to enjoy the wonderful mountain scenery. It was breathtaking. Below us a sea of mist covering low lying valleys while above we enjoyed the sunshine and surrounding peaks. Later the sun was sinking in the west. These moments alone made everything worthwhile. We captured some of the images on camera, and anyone interested can have a look at a few photos my homepage.
On Sunday another early rise at 3.30am as we wanted to serve VK/JA window. That is the part of the world that was mostly requested for HB0. We managed 1 QSO with VK2KU and 3 QSO’s with JA. Unfortunately lots of EU station called in between with the result that a few QSO’s with JA didn’t work.During a pile up it is often easier to simply take the strong stations but we worked hard in trying to fish out some of the quieter signals.
Now and again as with every DXpetition, we were visited by the “funk- devil”, and only after some time realized that we were no longer signaling via the moon as the square pipe had come loose in elevation rotation , and we were merely warming a neighboring mountain up with our high power. Also a malfunction with our antenna plug from our PA cost us somewhat in entrance sensibility. Despite everything, during Sunday we could log 50EME QSO’s and were very satisfied with the result. Stephan, DK5TE was still relatively fit in the evening and made some Meteorscatter operating. MS was only possible with at least 20 degrees elevation, that coupled with poor shooting star activity ,meant that not many QSO’s could be logged, however 12 hard won stations and the ODX with UT6UG with his 1558 km distance was quite impressive. The last EME business would take place on Monday morning as the moon rose. Getting out of bed was NOT EASY, yes, operating on DXpedition is a heavy workload, with guaranteed sleep deprivation. 2 strong coffees later however, Stephan and I was back in action. Firstly ON7EH used his impressive ground gain with his 2M12 and called us with a fantastic signal -19 dB. There after we could getUA9SL, UT2XQ, HA6NQ, PE1BTX and RX1AS logged.
Unfortunately all good things come to an end, but with a total of 65 stations located via the moon, we were very pleased. And here is the log: HB0_LOG
After breakfast we dissembled the antenna and carried all the station equipment to the chairlift ready for transport. Monday afternoon, back home, Stephan and I agreed that it had been a very special experience to sit on the end of the pile ups. So now the only question is ….where to next time??? Of course on again via EME and Meteorscatter on 144 MHz.
To finish off we would especially like to thank MakeMoreMilesonVHF for the supply off their DXBlog where during the DXpedition we could log our QSQ’s via GPRS . Also a big thank you to DF8GH, Claus, club manager of local section P29, who brought us N -T connectors at the last minute.
A big THANKS also to MicroHam company who supported us with the brand new “USB MicroKeyer II” interface