NFDX report, part 1 of 8
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NFDX report, part 1 of 8
This message is sent by WA1ION@xxxxxxxxxxxxx (Mark Connelly )
The October 1995 Newfoundland DXpedition
"Brazil Nuts" or "Of Moose And Men"
Musings by Jean Burnell, Dave Clark, Mark Connelly, Neil Kazaross,
and Jim Renfrew, narrated by Bruce Conti.
Once again, the Lawlor's Hospitality Home in Cappahayden,
Newfoundland was converted into "The DX Inn" as DXers from the
United States and Canada descended upon this north Atlantic coastal
community for a week of unparalleled DX. Plans for this 8 - 15
October DXpedition began taking shape shortly after the results of
a successful Spring '95 NF DXpedition were published. Jean Burnell
of St. John's, NF took care of all the initial arrangements for what
was to be the largest group yet since these DXpeditions began back
in 1991. Much of the planning was facilitated by e-mail communications,
as participants in this and previous NF DXpeditions bounced their ideas
and intentions off each other. The following are the accounts of the
individual October '95 NF DXers in addition to my own comments,
beginning with DXpedition coordinator Jean Burnell.
"This was the fourth "Newfoundland DXpedition" for which I played
"host", but each event has been very different from the others. This
DXpedition had the largest contingent of DXers, and we were active for
longer than before. I am very grateful to my wife, Stephanie Kaiser,
for helping me get everything ready, and for ferrying thousands of
meters of wire, receivers, a table, food, etc. to Cappahayden.
I thought the effort was worth it ! It was a lot of fun to DX
again with the veterans of previous DXpeditions (Neil Kazaross,
Bruce Conti, and Mark Connelly), and it was a pleasure to welcome
two new NewfounDXers (Jim Renfrew and Dave Clark). The quality
of the DX was very good, also. The highlights for me were the
unprecedented numbers of Argentineans and Uruguayans, the ever-
challenging low-powered Brazilians, and the exciting run of Kenyans
we bagged on the last evening. I was pleased finally to have a solid
log of Macedonia on 810 kHz, which was only a very tentative 10-second
log during NF DX II back in 1993. Dave Clark and I also indulged in
an occasional foray into the tropical bands. We were rewarded with
a suite of 60 and 90-meter All India Radio stations, including the
outlet in Gangtok, which "counts" as the DX country Sikkim. I was
once again disappointed by our inability to log Chile, and I was
somewhat surprised that we were unable to receive either Finland
or the Faroe Islands. My hardware-highlight was a new Drake R8A
receiver that arrived during this DXpedition, but it meant that
I was doing a lot of fumbling with the unfamiliar controls during
the last couple of nights. My logbook is evidence that my lack
of familiarity with the Drake affected my DX productivity, but
I don't think I missed any major catches because of this.
Overall, another A-plus outing !"
As Jean mentions, a couple of countries key to reaching the 100-
country goal were missed. The entire team ganged-up on 531 kHz on a
couple of mornings with the hope of hearing the Faroes sign-on.
But the slightly auroral conditions combined with interference from
Spain on 531 kHz and Radio Vision Cristiana on 532 kHz nixed our
chances. Bulgaria is a supposedly easy-to-hear country that never
made the logs. I sat on 1224 kHz a couple of nights hoping to hear
the VOA relay that was logged in '93, or at least something parallel
to a Radio Bulgaria foreign service shortwave frequency; no such luck.
1060 kHz also consumed a lot of my time in the quest for Chile.
Brazil and Venezuela were eventually identified on 1060, and hints
of Mexican-style music occasionally squeaked through, but Chile
remained an unheard target. Despite the missed stations, we still
logged 95 countries, 3 more than our previous (1993) record of 92
Another "hardware-highlight" had to be the ICE active antenna
splitters. First introduced to NF DXpeditioning by the Spring '95
team, these maximized efficiency and flexibility by allowing DXers
to select available antennas without disrupting each others monitoring
activities. When conditions were hot in one direction, all of us
could jump in on the action, sharing the south or the "Euro" wires.
Even phasing and regenerative tuning were performed on shared antennas
without interference. I now consider the active antenna splitters
indispensable tools for all future group mediumwave DXpeditions.
Thanks to John Bryant for the loaners, and to Jean for his additional
Newfoundland DXpedition alumnus Neil Kazaross was the first to
arrive. Jean and Neil had installed the requisite European and
Brazil Beverages at Cappahayden on Sunday, 8 October, for the
first night of DX. They were both already logging the exotic
by the time I arrived later that night. Neil championed efforts
to log low-power Brazilians, to the extreme of extending the Brazil
Beverage length to over one-mile (2 km) for the following night !
However, poorer than expected performance prompted an inspection
the next morning, whereby it was discovered that the extension
was dragged off-course by a moose during the night. Although Neil
had been quite successful with a mile-long Beverage when he used
to have a residence in Rhode Island, the Brazil Beverage was
restored to its original 1 km length for the remainder of the
DXpedition, fearing that anything longer would once again be
damaged by moose or hunters.
"Once again it was a DX pleasure to travel to Cappahayden and
DX with my old friends Jean, Mark, and Bruce, and meet some new ones,
Dave and Jim. Clearly this is a special DX spot, far, far away from
most locals and resulting in many clear frequencies where very distant
low powered DX could be heard. The combination of long Beverage
antennas up to 3280-feet (1 km) and sea gain is what allows
250-watt Brazilians to be heard on many channels like 1550 and
1590 kHz, and also allows word-perfect arm chair copy of hundreds
of TA's. In the mid 80's I had the pleasure of a seacoast Beverage
home in Ogunquit, Maine. But this site, due to lack of QRM, blows
Maine away. Once again I leave there in awe of seacoast Beverage
antennas and wishing I had a square mile farm here in Illinois,
to put up more antenna length than my 200-meter wires.
"I spent most of my DX time chasing rare and difficult DX like
Brazilian graveyarders and didn't bother to listen to the easy stuff.
For me it's the thrill of the rare log that would be impossible most
anyplace else at a comparable distance. Conditions this time were
not very auroral, but I still think this was the best South American
DX yet, and I loved the many Argentina and Uruguay loggings we got.
African DX was not as good as the first time here (1991 DXpedition),
when a huge aurora wiped out many of the European pests, but it still
was great to Botswana.
"Thanks to the magic of e-mail, I will often be talking to my
friends from this DXpedition, but I doubt I will have the pleasure
of seeing many of them 'til Newfie-5, whenever that may be !"
Neil also experimented with a Byan remote-controlled termination
antenna system I installed in a southerly direction at Cappahayden.
The antenna system is named after its originator, fellow DXer Steve
Byan, who developed a method of being able to vary the terminating
resistance at the end of the wire by remote-control from the DX
shack, using an incandescent vactrol as a termination device.
Some experimentation with ground radials at the termination and
lead-in noise reduction resulted in successful field test of this
concept. Neil fine-tuned the termination from the comfort of the
shack to add to his Brazil loggings, and we both demonstrated
significant nulling of local stations in both day and night
conditions. Expect to see more on this concept in the DX press,
as more DXers become familiar with the system.
I picked up Jim Renfrew at the airport on Monday, the second
official day of the DXpedition. For Jim, it was his first time,
reminding me of the DX overdose I experienced on my first Newfie
"Hearing stations from countries as diverse as India, Belarus,
South Africa, Ascension Island, and Paraguay (not just once but
almost every time we tried for them) reveals the amazing potential
of this Newfoundland site. In just one week, I personally logged
over 300 stations, from almost 90 countries. I have logged half
that many countries in 20 years of DXing from Rochester, NY, so
it was absolutely breathtaking to spin the dial and find rare DX
in almost every direction. It's been a bit depressing returning
to Rochester DXing, because it is almost impossible to recover
the same constant thrill that was present in Newfoundland.
"When I first walked into the DX room and plugged antennas
into my radio, the DX was so overwhelming it was hard to know where
to start ! Should I just methodically work up the dial for an
initial bandscan ? Should I work the TA Beverage or the Brazil
Beverage ? Should I just follow the lead of others as they hunt
for particularly enticing stations ? In practice, I did all
three ! My logbook shows Brazilian logs next to Asian logs and
back again to Brazil. A simple throw of the antenna switch would
produce an entirely new band of unduplicated DX.
"Living in a city home, I have had no previous experience
stretching out Beverages, so it was a privilege to see some
experienced DXers do it right. Jean, Neil, and Bruce laid out
the Cappahayden wires before I arrived, but the following day
at Renews I had the chance to work with the team in laying out
two Africa Beverages through the bush, complete with the sound
of gunshots in the near distance, and at least two moose carcasses
along the Beverage lines ! The Renews operations were slightly
disappointing, however, because we got "moosed" the first night,
and then two nights later we discovered that hunters had damaged
the wires. It wasn't too big a problem, because I later heard
just about everything I heard at Renews, at Cappahayden.
"I enjoyed being in the DX "moose-pen" at the Lawlor's with
the others. You should have seen us all attacking a single
tantalizing target with varied approaches. Some played with
all of the receiver buttons to lift up the signal, some busily
consulted various DX lists, others hunted WRTH medium and shortwave
parallels. Some could pick out languages well, some could name
songs, some stuck with the prime frequency waiting to summon others
at ID time, while others roamed to still new targets in the meantime.
DXing by committee is a very efficient process !
"Particular loggings that will long be remembered include
India on 1566 kHz when Dave found a shortwave parallel just before
sign-off; Paraguay on 920 kHz which I heard at 0900 UTC after
everyone else had gone to bed; Kenya on 1044 and 1233 kHz which
caused Dave to jump up and whoop like the home team had scored a
come-from-behind touchdown; Uruguay on the North American graveyard
frequency of 1400 kHz logged after a bunch of others from that
country (when Jean recalled this one had been heard in Europe,
we tuned in and there it was); hearing Brazil and Uruguay on
810 kHz with the same soccer game in different languages (with
Colombia also on 810 kHz featuring its game with Paraguay!);
the list could go on and on . . .
"Little did I know that my equipment situation would dramatically
improve during the course of the week. Bruce installed the Kiwa mods
that I've carried around for two years to my Sony ICF-2010 on the
second day for a vast improvement, and on the last day I became
the proud owner of Mark's Drake R8.
"In the 29 years I have been DXing, I have met a handful of
DXers. My weekend work schedule as a Presbyterian minister keeps
me from attending most gatherings of DX clubs, so it was a real
treat to meet Jean, Mark, Bruce, David, and Neil for the first time.
Thanks, guys, for a memorable experience. And special thanks to
Jean who did so much prep work in advance !"
Wow ! Jim finally got to hear the DX that he's been typing up
from others for DX News over the years as the NRC magazine's
international column editor. Regarding the recovery period after
NF, I believe it's a common experience shared by all NF DXpedition
participants, past and present. This was my second time, and it
was still difficult for me to come down from such a DX high!
ODXA columnist Dave Clark arrived on Wednesday, adding yet
another dimension to the pool of talent as the second Newfie freshman.
When Dave heard something new and exotic, one could imagine the whole
Avalon Peninsula being awakened by his uninhibited outbursts !
"I have DX'ed TP's from the West Coast on several occasions
with John Bryant and others, so in some sense I knew what to expect.
But this opportunity to DX TA's and the deeper South Americans from
this outstanding East Coast site was still very much an eye-opener
and a novelty for me. I must acknowledge that I am grateful that
Jean didn't give up on me, having kept me on his invite list since
these DXpeditions first began in 1991. I finally made it. Now
I can hardly wait for a return engagement of Cappahayden capers !
"I was only able to be on-site from the early evening of
October 11th (again thanks to Jean for picking me up at the airport)
until the early morning of October 15th when I hitched a ride back
to the airport with Bruce. Thus I conveniently circumvented any
duties associated with rolling out or reeling in any of the Beverages
at the two sites that were so important to our collective success.
Next time !
"I came home reflecting not only on some of the marvellous DX
I was able to record and get into my logbook, but also feeling like
I'd only scratched the surface of what might be heard, given more
time under a variety of propagation conditions and with better
advance planning on my part. So much to hear ... so little time.
"I soon became immune to the higher power Europeans rolling
up to local-like strength by 2 PM local time, even in mid-October,
and it was on to more interesting DX signals. A few years ago
from my inland Ontario location, I was lucky enough to log most
of the low-power Radio For The Print-Handicapped stations from
Australia before they moved from their clear channel out-of-band
frequencies of 1620 and 1629 kHz. Yet I was absolutely startled
to hear how any number of 250 watt Brazilians were fighting it
out for dominance on many of the higher in-band graveyard channels.
The manner in which the 500 watt BBC Ascension relay came rolling
in on 1485 kHz was amazing too. An all-water path coupled with
Beverages oriented in the right direction certainly works wonders.
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