Having been on six meters now for almost 25 years and seeing Jimmy, W6JKV travel all over the world putting rare countries on six for the first time, I have, like most six meter nuts have wanted to do the same thing. The thought of going to a rare country and operating is exciting to most hams. I have always wondered why no one ever went to CE0Z and CE0X off of the west coast of Chile.
In Southern California we quite frequently get what has become known as CE "elevator" music. It sounds just like elevator music. It is heard all over the world and during the spring and fall peaks it's a daily occurrence into Southern California. I have always thought that CE0Z would have great propagation into this area. Taking all of this into account, when Jack N6XQ said "I'm going to South America this spring", I responded "let's go to Juan Fernandez.....CE0Z" We did and had one of the most fun trips I have ever had.
Roman XE2EED, Jack N6XQ and myself, N6CA went first to Santiago, Chile, endured a grueling taxi ride to a smaller airport, took a 3 hour Cessna flight to Juan Fernandez Archipelago and Robinson Crusoe Island. After a 1 mile hike down to the dock we went to sea and a 2 hour boat (Blanca Luz) ride around the north side of the Island to San Juan Batista in Cumberland bay.
Upon arriving at the dock we were greeted by Eliazar, CE0ZIS. He has been on Robinson Crusoe Island for about 14 years and has never operated six meters. We think he likes the band now.
We walked over to Eliazar's house and Jack pulled out his hand held HF/six meter 2 watt radio, extended the whip and immediately worked some PY stations. We also heard an SV and a EA6! We went into panic mode, Jack pulled out his IC706, we hooked it up to the deep cycle battery we had purchased in Santiago, we threw Jack's six meter Zepp antenna over a tree branch and proceeded to work almost 9H station there was in Malta! That's 7700 miles (12380 km). We were excited and amazed as we had never experienced six meter propagation like this before. As it turns out, South America is probably the "place to be" on the planet for world wide six meter Dxing. We knew we would probably get a southern US opening but the Med? A great surprise for us. Six meter conditions from Elizazar's house are simple: a pipeline into the Mediterranean almost every morning during the equinoxes. Roman worked just about everything from Lebanon to Gibraltar, including Israel, Egypt and Jordan. That's amazing for us coming from Southern California where we would need a flux of 300 + to get a path like that! I had the fun of running a Med pile up into Spain and Malta on CW. Great fun!
We brought with us a six meter yagi made possible by donations from M2, SMIRK and WSWSS and Key, JE6JYT/W6. Ed K6ODV kindly donated an IC551D to Eliazar to put him on six meters after we leave the island. We all participated in assembling the antenna, a M2 5 element six meter yagi and Eliazar climbed the tower to mount it. In the process we changed and shortened several of Eliazar's HF feedlines so he is now back on HF as well.
Roman stayed at Eliazar's house while Jack and I stayed at the hotel "El Pangal" across the bay. Since the road was in bad shape we couldn't get a ride via Rover so we had to walk the 2 miles from the village or take the 15 minute boat ride from the dock. We tried (not by choice) both ways. The hike was a great way to get your heart rate to 160 fast. It was through the residential area of the village and through a really beautiful forest.
There are only a few cars on the island, mostly Land Rovers and 4 wheel. There are no paved roads and a few sidewalks. Everyone walks everywhere on Juan Fernandez. Electricity is provided by 2 diesel generators which are fueled every 45 days by ship. There was very intermittent power at the hotel. Produce and supplies are brought in by large boat as well. Mail (and QSL cards) are delivered to and for by small airplane every day or two from the airport. John CE0ZAM works at the airport and operates HF which is also used to talk to the airplanes from Santiago.
We had six full days to operate from the island and we ran two simultaneous stations on six meters: one at the hotel on 50.102 MHz, 6 element yagi and 100 watts on battery power, the other at Eliazar's house on 50.200 MHz, 5 element yagi and 100 watts. The shot from the hotel favored the Caribbean, the US and North Pacific. Eliazar's house had a clean shot the South America, the eastern caribbean, Europe and Africa. Because of antenna patterns, and frequency separation we were able to operate without bothering each other. To our knowledge it's the first six meter Dxpedition we know of where this was done.
Electrical power at the hotel was very intermittent and availability was directly proportional to the number of guests staying there . . . we burned many candles and we ran a charger on the battery so we always had power for six meters.
Since the sun looked like it was ready to go out right before left I asked my solar astronomer sister (Karen) to do something . . . . She came through as the 10cm flux doubled to 270 while we were there and the biggest x-ray event in history was recorded. It's who you know. Thanks Karen!
We ended up with two very large openings to the US, one on the 1st and the other on the 2nd of April, 4 and 6.5 hours each. Total contacts for the expedition were about 600 QSOs with 420 stations in 40 different countries. We even made WAC (Worked All Continents) in less than 12 hours.
Juan Fernandez gave us more than we hoped for and memories that will last a lifetime. Six meters is an amazing band!
We would like to thank Dianna, KB6NAN and Bill, N6RV our liaisons and webmaster for making this trip such a success.
Pictures and audio files from the trip are up on the website at: http://www.ham-radio.com/ce0z/ce0z.html.
73 .... 3G0Z: Jack, Roman & Chip