Archive - April 2010

SteppIR 30/40M Kit fitted


Well, I finally got around to fitting the new SteppIR 30/40M Kit to my original 2 element SteppIR.

The 30/40M Dipole is simply a driven element which functions as a Dipole from 6.8Mhz to 13.8Mhz and it also acts as the driven element for the main Yagi between 13.8Mhz tand 54.0Mhz.

A normal Dipole for 40M would be approx. 64 feet long whereas this element is 39 feet long, created by looping the element tip back towards the boom. On 30M since the copper tape barely turns the corner back towards the boom, essentially it performs like a full size dipole would.

More information on the SteppIR range of antennas can be found on the website of Vine Antennas. Further reading and images on how I constructed  this & other SteppIR products can be found in the Gallery and also under the Radio Projects page on this website (in the coming days.) Thanks to Ron Stone GW3YDX (Vine Antennas) and John Muzyka G4RCG for their help and advice with the 30/40 Kit.

150,000 Brits still stranded due to Aircraft restrictions


The UK’s emergency committee Cobra has met to discuss the ash cloud chaos and HMS Ark Royal & HMS Ocean of the Royal Navy are on their way to help ferry stranded Britons back home from EU. Travel agents’ association Abta says its “rough estimate” is that 150,000 Britons are currently stranded abroad due to the chaos caused by the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano. UK flight restrictions have been extended until at least 1900 utc today.

Previous eruptions in the area have caused flooding due to the melting of glacial ice but the current eruption is in an area covered by winter snow, not permanent ice. Although some past eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull were followed by larger, explosive eruptions at nearby Katla Volcano, there is currently no sign of activity at Katla.

This image made available by NEODASS/University of Dundee shows the volcanic ash plume from Iceland, top left, to the north of Britain at received by NASA’s Terra Satellite (11.39 GMT Thursday April 15, 2010).

DX Summit – Changes welcomed


After months and in some cases years of waiting, SYOPS of DX Clusters now seem to be tightening up their Security. One of the first to take this step is the most popular site ”DX Summit”.
To cut down on the unwanted traffic such as foul language, DX Summit has taken the stance of now becoming password protected.

To post any ‘spot’ on the cluster via DX Summit, you first have to register and obtain a password which you must enter for each and every spot you send. It is hoped this will tighten up the appalling behaviour by allowing the offenders IP address and email addresses to be more easily found and where necessary, to be reported to authorities

– well done!

Volcano Eyjafjallajokull erupts – UK Airspace closed


Hundreds of flights have been cancelled around the UK and Europe and all UK airports have now closed as a result of a volcano eruption in Iceland. Airports that were open  earlier this morning have now closed having suffered major disruption.

The developments came after the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland yesterday erupted for the second time in a month, spewing massive clouds of ash thousands of feet into the sky. Scientists said the eruption, under a glacier, was 10 to 20 times more powerful than the one last month.  The volcano erupted on March 20 after almost 200 years of silence.

The ash in the atmosphere closed Scottish airspace this morning and forced Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle airports to close. Hundreds of flights have been cancelled at other airports.

Liverpool, Manchester, Stansted, Birmingham, East Midlands, Bristol, Luton, Gatwick and Heathrow are all affected.. It cannot be seen from the ground as it is blowing across Britain around three miles in the sky. Ash can disrupt the engines of an aircraft and reduce visibility as well as affecting landing and navigation gear.

This morning a Heathrow Airport spokesman said 150 flights, both arrivals and departures, had been cancelled – at the busiest time of the day – and more flights were expected to be affected as the cloud of ash moved south. volcanoAt Gatwick, 108 flights have been cancelled, while at least 17 flights are grounded at Stansted.

Birmingham airport has seen 70 flights cancelled, while Bristol has halted around 20 flights. Rivers rose by up to ten feet (three metres) as the ferocious temperatures melted the glacier, turning it to water, which gushed down the mountainside.

Iceland’s main coastal ring road was closed near the volcano, and workers smashed three holes in the highway in a bid to to give the rushing water a clear route to the coast and prevent bridges from being swept away.

Scientists said the eruption under the ice cap was 10 to 20 times more powerful than the one last month, and carried a much greater risk of widespread flooding.

3W6C – News just in….temporarily QRT!

3W6C is temporarily QRT
Due to security political reasons on the island, the 3W6C team is temporarily QRT from Con Co Island, Vietnam. The team hopes for a soon and good solution.

Team leader HB9BXE hopes being QRV again on April 14, 1200 UTC, probably with reduced equipment and thanks for your understanding.

See News Boards on our web site and Twitter later on for the news.

A380 ‘Super-Jumbo’ – Manchester dates released


Emirates have announced that they plan to fly the Double Decker Super Jumbo, the Emirates A380 to Manchester from 1 September 2010, the A380 replacing the existing Boeing 777 that operates flight numbers EK017 & EK018, and will be a daily service.

The Emirates A380 that will operate this Dubai to Manchester Route is expected to be a 517 seat long three class configured aircraft with Emirates Award winning First Class, Business Class and economy class cabin and seats.

Flight Number





Dubai Manchester




Manchester Dubai


0015hrs +1 day

Flying directly over my QTH, the daily carriers from the Far East are an awesome sight as they drop down very low for the runway approach at Manchester and the A380 will just be an amzing addition to the viewing (for all the sad people like me!).

Busy Qsl’in…


..Yes been a busy few weeks getting Qsl cards sorted. I received two rather large deliveries from the ‘Special Events’ Sub-Manager and also from the ‘Short Contest Calls’ Sub-Manager.

I have to say I have enjoyed getting up to date with cards for Michael G7VJR and his trips too. Quite a lot of intrest especially for VP8DMN and requests for all managed stations via the on-line system get more popular each day.

Anyway for any interested parties, here is a brief run down on the cards sent out last 14 days (only the larger, more active callsigns shown) :-
VP8DMN 95 (D) 32 (B), GBØANT 810 (B), GB4IPY 557 (B) MW0JZE 220 (D) 450 (B), MW0RLJ 373 (B), G4RCG 12 (D) 220 (B), MØOXO (plus variations) 17 (D) 275 (B).

It is however worth pointing out that the normally accepted Bureau times is about 2 Years, thats from the time you send to the time you receive back. Therefore, if 2 years hasn’t elapsed since the time you requested a bureau card, please be patient and don’t request another until at least 2 years have passed.

Sadly most of the GB1HI cards I mention above were only received in the last 15 – 20days and most are from 2007/2008 which means a turn around time of 4 years – not good is it? For the system to work well both parties have to be on the ball in processing their cards which I guess can be the major cause?

WFF – GFF / GWFF Directory update


Finally and with the grateful assistance of Steve GW4BKG, I can report that the area in the WFF Directory relating to ‘GFF’ and ‘GWFF’ have been updated.

When WFF first launched, ‘GFF’ was all one entity. However, when the decision was made to split into ‘G’, ‘GM’ & ‘GW’, ‘GFF-015’ in particular had already been activated several times and therefore couldn’t be moved into the ‘GW’ list (as thousands of Qsl Cards had ‘GFF-015’ on them and several logs had also appeared on the ew4dx logsearch system). As well as those, several others appeared in the original list that were now covered by the GMFF team and therefore again, they were not eligible to appear in the ‘GFF’ lists.

The updated entries have been forewarded to WFF HQ and I hope in the near future they will appear on the WFF website for download. Meanwhile you can access the new listings by clicking on the links here – 

How to activate GFF areas



Are you interested in activating areas in the UK, maybe ‘holiday style’ or just fancy a day out ‘playing radio’?
Its very easy to get involved so just read on and see if it intrests you. Each WFF Country will have their own
interpretations of the guidelines to abide by dependant upon different circumstances. The list below is how to
proceed should you wish to activate GFF & GWFF.


1) Check out the list of areas that are valid for WFF in the DXCC entity ‘G’

2) Try to give prior notice of the activation to me in order that I can publise your event on the various reflectors
and to gain maximum support & intrest that your trip will attract from WFF chasers.


3) It will be necessary for you to submit a log of your contacts with valdation by photograph, video or any
other means to legitimise that the operation was authentic. The usual and most appropriate way is to have
photograph taken standing by a sign or other feature that validates you to the area you are activating.

Do not worry if it is not possible to use a computer on your activation, a paper log will suffice in the
first instance. Once the operation has ended, send your log (either paper or electronic) to MØOXO
and I will send it to the relevant WFF checkpoint where it will be added to EW4DX LogSearch.
***Please DO NOT send it directly to EW4DX LogSearch,
it must come via me (for reasons I can explain if you wish!)

(If your log happens to be on paper, I will convert it to electronic format using a fast log entry program.)


4) Special Qsl Card Printing is not necessary. Many of the WFF chasers however do find it desireable to
produce qsl cards for the events. If stations you have worked do ask for a qsl card and you are happy
to send one, then again it is necessary to have the reference number of the GFF area and the
licensed Callsign used, clearly visible on the card either by label or other format thereby avoiding
any attempt to tamper with the details shown.


5) Do not let the thought of issuing Qsl Cards put you off from activating the area and enjoying your trip to the
National Park or Nature Reserve. I can and I will either help you to sort out the qsl’s or i will provide the
qsl management for you at no cost, I am happy to do that, just ask. I support LOTW, Bureau and Direct
Qsl methods.

There are plenty of Qsl printers out there who will happily print and provide the cards for
you but please also check out UX5UO Print too, he is very cost effective and I am his UK agent
so no hassle whatsoever to deal with him and basic 2 colour cards cost from
£34.00GBP for 1000 delivered – no extra cost just £34.00GBP!
Full Colour (Front) cards from £49.00GBP for 1000 delivered – no extra cost just £49.00GBP!



SOS message – VYØV East Pen Island, Nunavut



31st March 2010 0219utc.

1) Saw this spot about 0330z and went to 10107.5.  VY0V was on frequency, asking for help. Others had marginal copy so I joined and had several QSO’s with Cezar VY0V between.  0330-0500z. He said that rain and wind was fierce, visibility poor, he had no water, no fire, no gas for generator, battery getting low, and native guide had abandoned him 38 hours ago.  He was worried and seemed delirious, rambling on while running down his battery. I got Cezar to give me his GPS coordinates 56″ 44.854 N 88″ 37.812 W and relayed this to Ralph VE7XF who said Frank VE7DP was working to get a rescue and they passed it on to a rescue team coordinator by phone who will get it to them by sat phone next comm they have.  The rescue team supposedly left Fort Severn on a 7/8 hour trek at 4pm EDT which would have been 3PM CDT, so they should have been near him by 10-11PM CDT or 03-0400z.  Cezar said at 0500z he had low visibility and no contact with the rescue team yet.  Told Cezar to conserve battery, get some sleep and try 10107.5 again at 1100z just before his sunrise at 1130z if not rescued.  Later Ralph VE7XF informed me that guys that went to try to get Cezar today had to turn back according to VE7DP, as their ski doo kept bogging down due to the rise in temp in the area.  I tried 10107.5 at 1100 and 1130z  and got no reply from VY0V.  So I started looking on the internet for RCMP phone numbers.  I called RCMP’s Ontario Division HQ 24/7 number at (519) 640-7267.  At 11:45z they patched me through to Jason at the North Bay Comm Center of the Ontario Provincial Police (705) 495-7034.  He said that the Fist Nations Policing team from Fort Severn was working on the rescue and that they were in communication
with North Bay Comm Center.  He said would relay any new information to me for broadcast to the concerned amateur radio community.  At 1215z Jason called me to say that the rescue team hads a visual sighting of Cezar’s
location and should be arriving at his location shortly.  I continue to monitor 10107.5 and 7007.  Let’s hope for a positive outcome.

Skip Cameron W5GAI
Austin, TX

2) At 5:05 CDT/2205z I spoke with Ralph VE7XF who said that last QSO with Cezar he has sighted the rescue team and thought they would reach him within a half hour. If he can get on the radio he will update on 14260 or 7007. Ralph said that the twin otter was delayed from its planned 5pm departure from Fort Severn, and if the rescue team does not arrive soon, the plane’s ETA to Cezar was 7:30 PM local.

At 4:18 CDT/2118z, I talked by phone to Renee at North Bay Comm Center She said RCMP is the lead on the rescue, and she tried but could not raise anyone at Ft. Severn at this time, and she had no new status to relay.  She repeated that the ground team from 4pm yesterday’s departure from Ft. Severn is still searching, and they had said it was 20 hours from Fort Severn to his GPS coordinates, and there were no reports of Cezar yet.  She still could not provide the exact location coordinates of this ground team. With 120km (Cezar’s estimate from Ft. Severn to East Pen) in 20 hours, that’s 6km/hour or about 3.7mph, which seems like walking speed, not snow mobile speed. If the rescue team left at 3PM local yesterday, after 20 hours they would be arriving there by 11AM today. Perhaps they stopped to rest. I am monitoring 14260 and 7007 for any further news.

Skip W5GAI

3) At 9:45PM CDT/0245z April 2, I spoke by phone with Cezar VY0V/VE3LYC’s wife Lucy.
Lucy had convinced RCMP that an air rescue was needed because the ground team was way overdue. She said the 2 man ground rescue team arrived (after 27 hours) about the same time the twin otter plane did around 8PM local. Cezar called Lucy upon arrival back in Fort Severn, about 120km from East Pen Is. NA-231. One of the two guides who took Cezar to the island was aboard the plane to assist in exact location. He was one of the two who abandoned Cezar approximately 8am on Tuesday, saying they had business back in the village of Ft. Severn and would return. Cezar put out his SOS for Rescue Wednesday afternoon after they didn’t return after 38 hours and he had run out of generator fuel, had no fire, battery running low for radio, rain and wind howling.
A good ending to a really tense time!

Skip W5GAI

This is the final version from Cezar VE3LYC:-

Apr 1, 8 UTC: Here is a BRIEF account of VY0V. Left the village at 5:15 pm on Mar 28 (sunset at 8 pm) with one guide – Tommy, and arrived to East Pen at 2:15 am. It took us 9 hours to travel 120 km. The locals build the tents to resist very high winds, but this requires the use of trees. Since there wasn’t room for them in the sled, had to go back to the tree line and cut them. It took about 3 hours to return to the island and at least another hour to finish the camp. Wind picked up very soon from the E, and increased steadily. The mast was extremely bent and when I was running EU #8 it broke in three sections. While ‘thinking’ what to do with the little variety of things we had with us, I placed the antenna on the tent, with the radials less than a foot from the ground – didn’t have much wood for support. I had no problem to work NA, and ever some stations outside NA, but I knew that it wasn’t doing a decent job. Later in the day cut splinters from a piece of plywood and supported the three sections by tieing them up with wire and rope. We did an excellent job, even if the new mast was extremely heavy, so the second day of operation was rewarding. Late morning, Tommy told me that another guide will replace him and is on the way, so he will leave. I wasn’t happy but not that worried, since another guide was supposed to join me in several hours. Not only that Tommy’s departure was against our plan, but wasn’t planed well. The second guide never made it to East Pen, presumably his skidoo died on him and had to return, and so the supplies needed never arrived! After so many trips up north, I knew that polar bears are territorial and curious, but rarely attack humans who mind their business, and virtually never inside the tent. Given also the fact that this was not their season, the bears were the least on my mind. The problem was that it was impossible for me to take the mast down and put it up by myself in order to change the bands. I needed another person. Also, I was only left with little gas for the generator, as new guide was supposed to refuel the camp! As the evening set in, the wind picked up and I was very afraid that the mast will break again, which will be pretty much the end of working outside NA. Consequently, with great effort I brought it down in the wind and fixed it against the wood poles of the tent for increased resistance – also, I could lean it now easily to change the bands. Working the radio kept my thoughts focused on the propagation and the pile-ups, nothing else. Not using the night bands allowed me to sleep more, which helped. Next day though, I imagined that the guide will appear before nightfall but he didn’t. The rain poured intensely, followed by very strong winds, this time from W. As the island is formed of sand banks, I could find it everywhere, including the snow. I had enough of assurances that the guide will soon arrive, never to materialize. Worse, I was told that the rivers and lakes along the word are rapidly thowing, which led to the prospect of being stuck there for a long time! Without supplies, with no scope on the island, and with the prospect of an agonizingly slow search, A little over 36 hours after I remained alone on the island, I decided that a Search & Rescue mission will be required, and launched a distress call. It took the land team of two a total of 26 hours to reach me at 6:30 pm. Meanwhile, my wife pushed and obtained clearance from the Government for an official air mission. However, Tommy must have felt responsible and brought in a friend of him with a plane, who landed on the island at 7pm and extracted me. The ride back to Fort Severn was actually fantastic, just at the sun was setting, as I could see hundreds of small and large rivers thowing.

My guide’s unilateral decision to leave me alone on the island cannot earn him good points with me. I needed him not only to keep me safe, but also to help me out. However, I must confess that he was incredibly unlucky. Nobody in Ft. Severn remembers in their lifetime such an amazingly fast passage from winter to spring. In a matter of three days only, everything went from solidly frozed to thow!

At this time, my thoughts are with the land team, as it will take them (Andrew and James) two days to get back to their village!

Big thanks to all hams who spent numerous hours on the bands on Apr 1 to take my messages further, relay feedback, and keep me company: VE7DP, K1BG, W5GAI, VE7XF, W3HQ, N9NS, VE7WEB. I am indebted to many others who worked hard to coordinate a prompt rescue mission, including my wife Lucia, Debbie, Jason, and last – but not least, Tommy. Finally, I would like to thank all of you who thought of me and sent me messages in this eventful day. I will reply to each of them as soon as possible.

(Tnx to Bernie at Daily DX for the updates).