A month to go…

Less than 40 days until ZL9HR should be on the air. I was looking today at my list of things to do at work before we depart – pretty scary. The list of dxpedition things to do is pretty long as well, but in general seems under control. We just heard that the equipment shipped from Australia has arrived in Invercargill, close to Bluff, our port of departure. This includes most of the radios, amplifiers and antennas, although a portion of the equipment will come as luggage with the dxpedition ops. I enjoyed listening to tales from the T32C team at Dayton – their equipment did a world tour without ever arriving at Christmas Island, but they still managed to pull off a record-breaking dxpedition with hand-carried equipment. It’s good to know that our gear is already at the port of departure, ready to travel with us from there directly to Campbell Island.
There was some discussion on eham hoping that we might get bad weather while on ZL9 – our landing permit restricts us from spending nights on the island, so we will be returning to our boat anchored in Perseverance Sound each night unless we cannot do so because bad wx makes it unsafe. So, the ideal scenario might be several calm, sunny days for the sail down and to set up antennas, followed by a series of late evening storms which maroon us on the island overnight to operate top band. Of course, the opposite is equally possible – bad wx delaying our departure and slowing down the setup, followed by sunshine and calm so that we have no excuse not to return to the boat at night! In a few weeks we’ll see which of these scenarios plays out. The limitation on overnight stays is the same as that the ZL9CI team faced, and it will likely significantly limit our operations on the low bands, and also our operating times for EU (there will likely be openings on the higher bands to EU during our night, which we won’t be able to take advantage of). Still, there should also be openings around our evening and morning to EU, and during the day for less distant locations – see the propagation page for more details.
Conditions on 10 and 12 have been excellent the last few days, with long-path openings into the Pacific and Asia. I was happy to make a couple of qsos with the XX9THX team – one of their members is David, EB7DX, who is the ZL9HR qsl manager. We’ll have to wait and see whether similar excellent propagation exists in December from ZL9.

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ZL9HR – not a trip to the beach

This site was originally intended to be nothing more than a convenient spot to share some information with a few folks, and try out some ideas for webpages. However, I recently enjoyed reading W8TN’s blog about the lead-up to the recent NH8S dxpedition to Swains Island, and he’s inspired me to add a few similar posts here.

Every trip to distant parts has its inherent risks, and dxpeditions are no exception. It sounds like they had ferocious spiders on Swains Island, and excessive heat. For the ZL9HR team heading to Campbell Island in November, excessive heat is not on our list of concerns. A look at the climatic data for Nov/Dec on Campbell Island indicates that hypothermia is a more probable risk than sunstroke. Cool, wet and windy. This ain’t gonna be a beach vacation…

Weather Event (averages for Nov and Dec, last 10 years) mean +/-SD
Total Rainfall (mm) 118.8 41.7
Wet Days – Number Of Days Per Month With 1mm Or More Of Rain 19.6 4.8
Rain Days – Number Of Days Per Month With 0.1mm Or More 25.5 3.3
Mean Air Temperature (C) 7.9 1.2
Mean Of 9am Temperature (C) 7.8 1.2
Mean Daily Maximum Air Temperature (C) 10.5 1.3
Mean Daily Minimum Air Temperature (C) 5.4 1.2
Days Of Wind Gust >= 24 Knots (44 km/h) 26.6 3.0
Days Of Wind Gusts >= 33 Knots (61 km/h) 19.8 5.1
Days Of Wind Gusts >= 51 Knots (94 km/h) 4.5 4.3
Mean Wind Speed km/h 28.2 4.4
Wind-Gust – Highest Nov/Dec Wind Speed km/h 112.1 18.6

Consequently, the expedition planning discussions have included many non-radio topics such as the best makes of thermal underwear and the merits of different waterproof boots! So far we don’t have a manufacturer of thermal underwear as a sponsor – although that would be a great addition to the list. “Icebreaker” is favored by several team members, perhaps because of the manufacturer’s claim that their merino wool “resists odor for weeks”?  The topic of waterproof boots managed to illustrate the diversity of the English language and the potential for confusion amongst the team members from the so-called English speaking nations: “Wellies” to a Brit, “gumboots” for the Aussies, whilst in the US more prosaic terms like “rainboots” or “muck boots” seem more common. Turns out, if you look at advertisements for Wellies/gumboots/muck boots, manufacturers frequently mention their product is waterproof, comfortable and lightweight. If someone in the gumboot industry can really do this, they could be rich. In the meantime, pick two out of the three attributes… I ended up going for waterproof and comfortable, and expect the airline will stick me with an overweight bag fee!

Over the next couple of months, the occasional post related to ZL9HR will appear here. There are also several pages devoted to topics such as propagation and the siting of the operating site and antennas (see links on the right-hand side of this page). However, for the official ZL9HR website, you should go here.