Thursday, October 25, 2018

VP6D on 30m CW

Odd things happen. During a long DXpedition, like the current VP6D expedition to Ducie Island, they are bound to happen. They happened during the K1N Navassa Island expedition, for example.

Last night I'm trying very hard to put VP6D in as many DXCC slots as I can. I hadn't worked them on 30m, and they were running RTTY. 30m is often tough, since everyone runs 200 watts, tops, and my 100 watt signal doesn't really stand out. RTTY makes it even harder. I called for a half an hour with no luck. And then VP6D disappears.

I continue calling for a little bit. It's a sort of anxious hope that sometimes works. Maybe they had a generator die, and the first thing the operator will hear when the generator comes back to life will be my callsign. Right? Well, it could happen.

After a couple of minutes I stop calling. I'm sitting there with the headphones on. The left ear is listening to 10142 kHz at about 450 Hz wide, the right is listening up around 10144.5 kHz, about 2 kHz wide. And, I'm hearing nothing. Nothing at all.

About three minutes after I stopped calling, I heard a signal. It sounds like a CQ. A CW CQ. It's off frequency, so I can't really tell. I'm not set up for CW. I'm in DATA mode, with settings all flipped around with wide filters. But - there it is again - in my right ear, it sounds like VP6D calling CQ, in CW.

Switch things around to CW, with a narrow filter, and then tune for the right frequency. I'm sure I'm going to miss it, but no, I find him. There he is CQ VP6D UP2. Plain as day on 10144 kHz. That's not where you'd expect him to be at all. No, the published CW frequency is 10105 kHz. This frequency is out of position for CW, but there he is, calling CQ VP6D UP2. And no one is answering. No one.

This is my chance. I go into split, up 2, and give him a call. But, again, CQ VP6D UP2. A couple of times. No answer. So, I figure, hey, maybe he's actually listening up 1 and doesn't realize his memory keyer doesn't match. I dial in up 1, and call. No dice. After a few calls, I wonder where he's listening really. Maybe he's listening up 2 from 10105 kHz. I give him a call on 10107 kHz. Nothing. Perhaps he's listening on his own frequency?

At this point, he's been calling CQ on 10144 kHz for two solid minutes and no one has answered him. I figure it's worth a try without being a DX lid. I turn off split and dump in my call: AA4LR. AA4LR 5NN comes the response. R 5NN TU, I reply.

And bam, quick as that, he's in the log.

He goes back to calling CQ VP6D UP2. I listen for a couple more minutes, but no one is calling him. I post a spot on and listen for a couple more minutes. Still no one. I begin to wonder if he's just clueless to where he is in the band, and that no one is looking for him there. So, I dare to send again on his frequency: FREQ? He responds to my question by sending 10144 twice. So, yeah, he knows where he is. I post another spot, hoping some other DXer will find him, too.

After about 10 minutes of this, he goes silent. A minute after, I find him down on 10105 kHz, once again calling CQ VP6D UP 2. And, people are calling him, and he's answering. Good, that's what's supposed to happen.

Looks like I'll may be the only one who worked VP6D on 10144 kHz CW. Cool.