W8HC First EME QSO

I arrived at N8RR’s QTH yesterday at 3pm and was greeted by Charlie and our WVDXA El Presidente and inveterate EME’er Clark, W8TN. Dave, W8IW, would soon join us but before going into Charlie’s shack, we took time to admire his awesome 4 x 7el G0KSC LFA array, the centerpiece of the N8RR EME station. I, like many here on the WVDXA reflector, enjoyed following along with Charlie’s progress reports as he shared his EME array “build” project and subsequent EME success stories over the past year. Likewise, I look forward to following along with V2.0 as Charlie prepares to expand his EME experience into the realm of 2 meters and another significant array project now on his schedule. By summer’s end N8RR should have expanded his EME resume’ and well on his way to earning a place alongside the other “Big Gun” EME DX’ers on 2 meters.

Several weeks ago Charlie and Clark had agreed to coach me in the “How To’s” and “Wherefores” of EME…. sort of like giving me the crash course in “EME for Dummies” preparing me for my participation with the VP6R Pitcairn DX’pedition in October. This will be the first time ever for EME at Pitcairn and will be my first DX’pedition where EME is QRV. Yes, we did take both 2-M and 6-M EME arrays and stations with us on our failed 3YØZ attempt. Much of this ‘unused’ EME equipment and antennas remained in the sea container which was returned to the States and now located out in Peoria, IL, in the parking lot of Thompson Electrical, the company owned by Craig K9CT.

When EME DX’pedition veteran Ned AA7A had to drop off the VP6R team for reasons beyond his control, Ralph, KØIR, put out the call to our team inquiring if any of the remaining 13 team members might be willing to take on the EME responsibilities. Mike, WØVTT, a member of our VP6R team and brand new DX’peditioner and I both volunteered for this task. Both of us actually thought we would be helping someone else who had previous EME experience however, Mike and I are “newbies”… we have had NO previous experience with EME.

In addition to learning what we needed to know in order to operate EME one of the other first orders of business was to determine what we actually had in the way of EME equipment in the 40-foot sea container at Craig’s. Mike and I checked our calendars and determined when we could meet at Craig’s. Craig would put us up at his K9CT contest station in Trivoli, IL, for a few days and we would commute the 20 minute drive to Peoria to his business where the container was located. Our plan was to assemble the M2 2-meter cross-polarized array and the M2 6M8GJ used on 6-meters. We would inventory all of the station items to ensure we did have everything necessary for putting both EME stations on the air. Unfortunately, as we began trying to locate the components for the 2 meter EME station, we discovered some were missing. I had flown out to Peoria and with Mike and Craig’s other commitments, we only had 3 days to find and test the stations. After two days when we determined we only had everything we needed for the 6-M station and not everything for 2-M, we consulted with Ralph and the decision was made to drop the 2-meter EME station from our plans. We would concentrate on operating 6-M EME from Pitcairn only.

This was the right decision based on our operational timeline for having ALL of the VP6R DX’pedtion stations, antennas, cables and supplies taken from the 40-foot container and placed into a 20-foot container and shipped from Peoria by June 1 for its eventual arrival in New Zealand. This after inventorying every item, documenting it, palletizing it, shrink wrapping the pallets and preparing the shipping manifest. We simply did not have time to build and test the 2-meter EME system so we have opted to only pursue the 6-meter EME station from Pitcairn.

Prior to traveling out to Peoria, I had met with Clark at his station and he gave me a very good overview and orientation of EME as well as the software that he uses for decoding the JT65A signals off of the moon. He introduced me to the procedural requirements and nuances for making EME QSOs. Because he uses 2-meter EME exclusively, I have to say I am very disappointed that we wouldn’t be doing 2-meter EME from Pitcairn. During my visit at Clark’s the conditions were not that great, so unfortunately and I was unable to make my first EME QSO.

However my EME “training” was to also include some time at N8RR’s EME station to experience the 6-meter side of “moon bounce.” Yesterday was the day set to visit Charlie’s station. This would also coincide with EME DX’peditioner Drago, S59A’s operation from San Marino as T77C. Charlie had used the GJTracker software and determined conditions offered a really good opportunity for me to make my first-ever EME QSO. On Friday Charlie worked the T77C station for a new Challenge point on 6-meters for him and so when I arrived yesterday we had a good feeling that I would also make the T77C log.

Drago was having some problems on his end with power outages of some kind and he posted to the ON4KST board for me to continue trying to call him. Eventually, we began getting decodes from him again and after about a half hour or so and with Charlie and Clark’s help and encouragement, we decoded the “OOO” report to give me not only my first EME Q but a brand New One on 6-meters as well. So it was a great learning experience with an added bonus!

And on top of that, after my QSO, Dave, W8IW, was able to complete his first-ever 6-meter EME QSO. Two new EME’ers are born! I should mention that Clark “did not need” T7 on 6m so he opted to forgo this opportunity… been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

After congratulatory high-fives, we moved the party and had a mini-celebration and post EME tutorial wrap-up session at Los Trancas Mexican restaurant out Southridge way. It was a great way to conclude a successful Saturday afternoon via the moon!

My thanks to Charlie and Clark for their assistance and patience with me. I am really looking forward to operating EME from Pitcairn and giving N8RR another “New One” in his dogged pursuit of the 3,000 medallion for his Challenge Award. Oh, for some reason, I have a feeling Clark might be making another trip up to N8RR’s station next October too. 🙂

73 es DX,
Hal W8HC

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