VK9XGM      Latest news....          Updated 1st November 2023

1st November 2023 - a message from Keith GM4YXI :   

We’ve been contacted by Ben, DL6FBL, who is leading the upcoming 4W8X operation. 4W is in a similar geographic region to us, starts 2 weeks before us but overlaps our entire spell on VK9X, and is altogether, a MUCH bigger operation than we two guys can mount. Ben is obviously concerned about mutual QRM from each other’s pileups. We have certainly had this experience on our previous trips and it can make life very difficult.

We have said to Ben that we will do our best to check the band/mode segment we intend to use in order to try to avoid placing our pileup on top of the 4W8X signal. We expect the 4W guys to respect us and do the same. This is basic courteous operating of course, no one has the right to any frequency. Of course, we cannot control exactly where anyone calling us will actually transmit when we ‘listen up’, but we understand the conventions of how far up the band guys might transmit on CW or SSB. We will NEVER, EVER deliberately place a pileup on top of another expedition. We also understand that sometimes our pileup will inevitably inconvenience other casual operators. We ask for everyone’s patience and understanding.

It has rarely been our policy to pre-announce operating frequencies for CW and SSB; we have never been a big enough operation to imagine we could do that. We will try to appear either ‘low’ or ‘high’ in a band/mode segment, to allow space for 4W8X or whomever, but sometimes these things are just not possible.

We hope to have the means to keep in touch with the 4W guys during our operation, in case anything needs to be discussed.

19th October 2023 - a message from Chris GM3WOJ :   

 Click on the 'Operating plans' button for some info from Keith GM4YXI.

We are less than 4 weeks away from the start of the DXpedition, so we are making sure we have everything sorted - starting from the Australian mains plugs right through to the top of the antennas. We have borrowed some equipment - thanks to Rob GM3YTS for the loan of 9 x W3NQN filters.  Thanks also to John MM0CCC for the loan of his Expert 1.3kFa amplifier.

We have a very detailed Excel inventory of everything we are taking (we've done this for all previous DXpeditions), but of course wherever you go you expect some things to be exactly as you thought they would be, so you need flexible thinking and some ingenuity to overcome possible local problems. We try to make every suitcase/bag we take weigh as close as possible to 23.0kg.

I am responsible for setting up the PCs for internet, logging, LoTW uploads etc. One of our Lenovo S10-3 laptops is refusing to load unsigned drivers for the FTDI USB<>Serial devices we have, so that's a puzzler for me at the moment. As usual you go online and try several different solutions that others have used, but none of these work - yet.

Personally I am looking forward to some time away from a very windy Autumn near Inverness!!

10th August 2023 - a message from Chris GM3WOJ :   

We have added more info to the website.  Some new Menu buttons will appear later today.

I have also sorted out the Security Certificate for this website, which was causing some pages to be blocked, or 'insecure site' messages to be displayed.  Sorry about this - fixed now.

7th August 2023 - another message from Keith GM4YXI :

We had a preliminary review last weekend, of some of the stuff we need to take on the expedition, what we still need etc. Given this will be our 8th DXpedition, we have a fair idea of what is needed but every time is different. Some of our flights may have a baggage restriction that cannot necessarily be overcome by even more $$$ (though we may have to try anyway!!) so we are looking to see if we can survive on 6 x 23Kg instead of seven bags. It is always amusing to think we take 140 Kg of kit, of which about 5 Kg is personal stuff like clothes etc.

We started our preparation on antennas. This will be our first DXpedition for over 10 years where we have not had antennas ‘on the beach’ or even over salt water. The location is, however, on a cliff edge, tens of metres above sea-level. Good take off from NE, through North, West and South. Our SE direction is challenging. (see Maps page on this site for what this means for you) We have decided that vertical antennas with elevated ground plane will be our best bet. There isn’t a lot of space and the ground may not be very antenna friendly, especially for the vertical Moxons we have used in the past.

We experimented and tested our 160 and 80m antenna and we seem to have a reasonably functional solution for a single 18m Spiderbeam pole, taking some inspiration from DJ0IP (https://www.dj0ip.de/antennas/) Thanks Rick. It is one thing to erect this antenna in a clear, flat field in Scotland – it may be another ball game when we try this on site. As ever, the low band antennas are the greatest challenge on a DXpedition. We reckon we cannot manage separate antennas for 160 and 80m on this trip (space, weight, there are only two of us) so we won’t be able to be on 160 and 80m at the same time.

We are investigating making several of our other verticals dual band, to help with operating flexibility. This may assist with inter-station QRM, but paradoxically might also make some band combos worse, so we are looking for tricks to off set that. We will have W3NQN/5B4AGN bandpass filters with us but experience tells us they work, up to a point. Once again, the relative space available means antenna separation may be an issue. It may be that we have to use fewer antenna supports (Spiderbeam and other fibreglass poles) and arrange for flexibility in what these carry at any one time – might mean a delay between band changes!!

More to follow after some of this work is carried out this week.

21st June 2023 - VK9XGM callsign issued !

23rd May 2023 - a message from Keith GM4YXI :

It feels really, really good to be in the planning phase of a DXpedition once again. Our last trip was in November/December 2019. Little did we know then, that a certain virus was beginning to spread around the globe and make international travel completely impossible for most of us until recently.

Our initial plan was to return to the Pacific. We were ZK2V & ZK2X in 2011, A35V & A35X in 2014, and V6Z in 2015 and 2016. The idea of another Pacific DXpedition was very appealing and our plans were well underway for a return to Niue (E6) when we saw announcements for two trips to E6 in April and October this year. There are many possible locations in the Pacific but they all come with their own logistical issues, an especially important one being space for antennas when you are planning to have more than one station QRV. This also made us think more widely. We were resolute in not returning to Cocos-Keeling – we were VK9CZ in 2013, 2017 and 2019. Thoughts then turned to VK9X. We had been on VK9X in transit on each of our VK9C trips but never operated from that entity.

Christmas Island (VK9X) is #78 in the global Club Log Most Wanted list, but is #35 for North America. The Settlement, as it is known, is at the NE corner of the island (see Maps page), in a relatively elevated position. Beaches are hard to access on Christmas Island and the favoured operating locations in the Settlement are on the edge of small cliff/steep slope down to the sea. After some helpful discussion with Mike, G3WPH, who was a member of the last big group to activate Christmas (VK9XG) in 2018, we managed to get accommodation and flights organised.

Our recent DXpeditions have been timed to coincide with one of the CQWWDX contests and this was also our aim this time. Ideally, we would have started on week earlier, and finished with the Contest, but the accommodation was not available. We had to settle with the arrival date of 21st November. This leaves us with 2-3 days to acclimatize, scope the location, erect antennas, troubleshoot and get on the air before the contest starts. We plan to operate the contest as Multi-2. Before and after the contest weekend, we will be QRV as much as is humanly possible for the two of us.

Some other thoughts and issues will appear on these pages in due course.

9th May 2023 - this new website is online.....