VK9AA - CQWW from Cocos (Keeling)
Bernd Lšnger (vk2ia)
March 1, 2005
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Since migrating to Australia from Germany
with my XYL Claudia in 1997, I have been contemplating about going to the Cocos
Islands for CQWW. Back then you had to
spend at least two weeks on the islands for a contest as flights only departed
Perth on Saturdays/Sundays and my personal circumstances just didn't allow a
two weeks break. Well, a few years have
passed since then, life has settled and NationalJet are now offering flights ex
Perth on Mondays and Thursdays which brought Cocos back onto the agenda.
I left Sydney on Sunday, 21
November to Perth. Stayed at VK6DXI
Mireks place over night. The next
morning when boarding my connecting flight to the islands I bumped into Charlie
(W0YG/VK9XG), his XYL and Burt (W0MY) who were on their way to Christmas Island
on the same flight. Arrived on Cocos
(West Island) after about 6 hours on the plane and 2 stop-overs. The Cocos Keeling Islands
are an Australian Territory located in the Indian Ocean at Latitude 12
deg 10' South Longitude 96 deg 50' East. The islands lie 2,950 km north-west of
Perth, 3,700 km due west of Darwin, approximately 900 km south- west of
Christmas Island and approximately 1,000 km south-west of Java and Sumatra. The islands consist of two atolls,
North Keeling and South Keeling,
comprising 27 low coral islands. Most of the
islands except for two are uninhabited: West Island is the
commercial center with police & customs, airport, dive shop, and
other tourist facilities while Home Island
has about 500 inhabitants of Malaysian descent. The
climate is sub-tropical with mean daily maximum temperatures
ranging from 28.0 C (August) to 29.9 C (February/March) and mean
daily temperatures ranging from 23.4 C (August/September) to
24.9 C (March/April). Relative humidity ranges from 72% to 78%.
The islands are affected by cyclonic conditions, but are rarely
in the direct path of cyclones.
On 6 April 1984, the Cocos community, in a United Nations supervised referendum, voted overwhelmingly to integrate
with Australia. The ABS Census of 2001 recorded a total
population of 618 persons of whom about 80% are resident on Home
My home for the next week was the Cocos
Beach Motel formerly known as the West Island Lodge on West Island. The container with my gear had arrived in the meantime on Home
Island across the lagoon along with the monthly supply for the islands. A public holiday was extending the weekend
so that no progress had been made on shipping the containers over to West
Island. And then there was Cocos time
Eventually managed to get my stuff on Wednesday thanks to the great help of
Alan who is in charge of the Island Co-operative. While waiting for the
container to be unloaded, I had a good look around the island on a push-bike
discovering a few potential sites for a contest station on Cocos, one of them
with two 35m towers, 3 or 4 verticals and plenty of space on the northern tip
of West Island. Im in the process of
finding out more about it
Back to reality, my first job was to assemble
the spiderbeam which I then put on a 7m high telescopic mast. Great portable antenna! For my quarter wave 40m vertical I got some
unexpected help from Des who is NationalJets manager for Cocos and CI. Logically, Des knows of any radio movements
to and from the islands. Got on the air
at around 11 UTC that night with DL9LM being the first contact. It was one of the first times I really had
plenty of time the Friday before the contest.
My strategy for the contest was: Run
Europe whenever you can, work JAs when nothing else is possible and S&P for
low band multipliers a SO2R set-up sure would have been handy. North America is quite a difficult path from
Cocos with most of the continent hidden behind the pole except for a stretch
of the West Coast. Its strategic value
lies mainly in a few multipliers, not in the QSO numbers that you can gain from
other parts of the world (including Australia). JA is the closest ham population from here approx. 7,000 km away,
Perth is almost as far away as Sri Lanka and the distance to Central Europe
still is 11,000 km.
The contest started Saturday morning at
7.30 am local time which is almost perfect as it allows you to get a decent
sleep the night before. Decided that
15m was the band to be for the first couple of hours with the path to W6/7
still open. A few hours into the contest I noticed a fair bit of fast QSB and
half an hour later the band went dead as did all other bands. First I thought it was a faulty antenna
switch or cable connector but after some time of trial and error I went outside
for a stunning discovery: the two ropes which I had used for fixing the
antennas direction (manual rotator) had loosened in the constant sea breeze
causing the antenna to spin around like a vertical windmill. This had lead to a mess of coax, ropes and
aluminium and also had damaged the coax cable.
Sorting out the mess took me almost 3 hours. After settling back in my chair I did enjoy a few good runs into
Europe on 10m which sure brought back the good vibes.
The range of signal strengths
of incoming signals was just amazing. Stayed then on 10m for almost 7 hours
until 1315 UTC working a number of Carribean multipliers before moving down to
15m for one hour and then to 20m.
Strong signals from the Carribean half way around the globe made me to
spend a bit of time back on 15m at around 1600 UTC for some easy new ones
(would have been great to have SO2R in place for these and other moments).
1700 UTC was low band time. Made my one
and only contact on 160, fought QRN and distance on 80 and finally got a EU run
on 40. Things were pretty slow with a
few messy pile-ups and after a few band changes and multipliers I decided to
have a quick nap. Got up again before
our sunrise at 2300 UTC to work new multipliers on 80, exclusively by
S&P. Finished day 1 with 2,000 QSOs
in my log, less than what I had planned.
Day 2 started on 15 and 20m
with good runs into JA. Focussed on 15m
during daytime after the 10m driven (wire) element snapped off the insulator. This time I decided to QSY to 40 and 80
before our sunset for more needed multipliers on these bands. After the sunset peak, 20m was the band of
choice working EU, EU and more EU. The
low bands were as boring as the night before.
Morale and flesh had so much deteriorated by then that I decided to have
another nap. After 3 hours a bit too
long for a micro-sleep I just couldnt get my feet on the ground
anymore. Finished the contest with a
newbie on 10: zone 4!
Contest summary (claimed score):
BAND QSO QSO PTS PTS/QSO ZONES COUNTRIES
160 1 3 3.00 1 1
80 38 104 2.74 17 37
40 284 840 2.96 24 70
20 789 2349 2.98 33 100
15 1395 4149 2.97 36 111
10 1122 3348 2.98 27 92
Tot. 3629 10793 2.97 138 411 => 5,925,357
160 80 40 20 15 10 ALL %
NA 0 0 12 46 99 22 179 4.9
SA 0 0 2 8 9 4 23 0.6
EU 0 15 209 508 727 786 2245 61.4
AS 1 16 51 206 540 298 1112 30.4
AF 0 2 6 16 14 14 52 1.4
OC 0 5 6 9 18 9 47 1.3
Plans for 2005 are shaping up now: I have booked flights and
accommodation (room #28, of course) for CQWW CW in November
2005. Hopefully I will have a new transceiver by then which
would allow me to do SO2R. Charlie, W0YG will be on the island
before my arrival and will leave his low band antennas up which
should give my signal some boost on 40 to 160.
Feel free to email me for
any comments and suggestions.
Thanks everyone for the QSOs. PSE QSL via
73 and see you again from Cocos in 2005!
Bernd VK2IA - VK6AA - VK9AA - DL1VJ -