DXing Vacation in Caribbean Island

By Jun'ichi Ohgo, VP5/JJ1BMB, re-edited version of the article excerpted from "59" magazine Oct. 24, 1993

This article describes the pleasure of my DXfing vacation in Caribbean Island, called gTurks & Caicos islands*h, partnering with JM1GYQ, Mr. Okamoto, working on 80 m through 10 m band and even satellite communication as well as CW, SSB and RTTY modes.

Turks & Caicos Islands: 573 miles south-east of Miami, Florida,
Link to http://www.interknowledge.com/turks-caicos/

Overall, the 3,346 of QSO was logged in our note by our two-men-operation in Caribbean island from Sept. 16 through 20th f94, on 80 m band through 10 m band including the satellite communication. The HF band opening to JA in the island barely happened, so the number of QSO with JA stations was a few on 17 m and 20 m band in CW and SSB mode. On the other hand, the satellite QSO by AO-13 was made easily and simply even though the antenna stuff was not sufficiently set-up. Over 40% of all the satellite QSO was JAs, since the band is less QRM and QRN than HF bands, and it is distinctively stable, compared to HF band condition in this period. So we have really enjoyed a ragchew-ing in Japanese with JAs via the satellite.

VP5/JJ1BMB is operating 18MHz.@@@‚u‚o‚T‚i‚l Jody and VP5/JJ1BMB (Satellite).


10 & 12m: Both bands were very quiet. The number of QSO made here was only a few, which were South American, North American and European stations.

15 & 20m: Both bands were open in the afternoon through evening. Signals from North America and Europe became strong in this time zone. During this opening, some signals even from Africa came in. Then it became quiet toward the mid night through the morning.

40 & 80m: It was obvious that signals of European stations were popping up out of the noise floor in the mid night, as time goes by, and its gSh level went up. Thus, we had a great pleasure of piling up by a number of European station calls, though, we could not deal with QSO 100%, due to the lack of sleep by all-day-long operation and a jet-lag as well.

In these low bands, such as 75 and 80 m bands, we had scheduled to work on at 0430Z, 0530Z, 0800Z and in 40 m band, 1100Z, and 0430Z, 0730Z, 0900Z and 2330Z, expecting the band opening to Japan. Although we have watched the bands in the above time period, we could not make any QSO with JA stations. This was somehow understood it was too early to make any DX QSO between Caribbean islands and Japan.

In the heavy pile up of US station calls on 75 m band, an US station squeezed into my spot frequency, telling us that a New Zealand station was calling us, though, we could not catch such incoming signal up here unfortunately due to the heavy noise happened on this band.

Even on 80 m band, we wished to make a QSO with JA stations, waking up early in the morning before the sun rise, though, we have listened only a signal that US stations were calling VK9MM. Then, we have called CQ at the adjacent channel, trying to catch signals from JA up here. All of sudden, a US station suggested us to get out of this frequency, since VK9MM is sitting near by our spot, causing QRM. This happening realized me that the QSO between the East Coast and Oceanic countries for US stations is not so easy as the QSO between Caribbean and Japan.

10m/15m/20m Multi Band YAGI. @@@VP5/JJ1BMB and Jody's family.

US stations, particularly the East Coast stations, were always strong and dynamic, holding a 10 dB through 20 dB over S9 all the way on any bands, as well as DX-pedition stations in the Pacific islands bring a strong signal to Japan. The distance of 1.5 hours by a jet plane from Miami, Florida to the island, corresponds to the distance between Tokyo and Kyusyu. So this will give you an easy guess how strong they are.

Satellite communication
First of all, I wished that we were successful on even the satellite communication as well as the regular QSO with enough equipment. To achieve our goal, we got the special lesson to work on the satellite band from JA1CG, Mr. Takahashi. (Special thanks to Takahashi OM!) Owing to his lesson, we were able to get started with the satellite communication here in this island. However, in the beginning, the down-link reception was not good due to some problem of the antenna in the first 2 days. So we had to borrow the other one from Jody, which is a 13 element Yagi by Cushcraft, horizontally-polarized. Owing to this antenna, we got a successful ending of the satellite communication in the heavy pile-up causing us to deal with.

In a reality, Jody brought us her antenna, a 13-element Yagi, saved in her house that she used to use that for FM mobile local contacts. Her courtesy saved our DXfing QSO via the satellite to JA stations. She had actually opened the window to JA. To tell the background story, we have slipped our mouth of this trouble in front of her at the dinner table in the last night before this happening, g We could not make any QSO with JA due to the poor antenna set up for the down-link, even though we could catch calling CQ from JAh. She brought us such an antenna and carried that with her at the place where we worked on in the early morning.

Antennas for Satellite.@@ Antenna connector connection.

However, we found the mechanical mismatch between her antenna and my cable connector that I have provided, when setting up the antenna. Her antenna had a UHF connector at the cable end, whereas my cable had a N-type connector. To link together, I instantly chopped off a N connector out of my cable by a knife, and tied the cable end to the antenna connector with a vinyl tape mechanically. After this fixing, and settling the antenna to the right position manually over the hand made wooden arm, so that the antenna would direct to the right angle and direction with a horizontal polarization. After all, a down-link reception became so good to catch any DX signals via the satellite like on 20m band. This set up and our trouble shooting have really amazed Jody, bringing a number of signals via satellites into her ear in front of us.

I was aware of her interests on the satellite QSO, via a telephone conversation prior to the trip. This was certified that even in her notebook PC, TI made TravelMate with gQuick Trackh a satellite tracking software already installed, showed her enthusiasm to enjoy such a satellite communication. Even more than ever, it seemed to me, what she observed our operation with the trouble shooting all the way, raised up her confidence, gI can do it by myself, tooh. While I was looking at her face, I said to myself, gWhy donft I give her my satellite communication stuff, though, I hesitated to think of doing soh. Instead, we promised to have a QSO with her via the satellites in the future, when were back home. We are really looking forward to having a QSO with her.

VP5/JJ1BMB is operating Satellite.@@@VP5/JM1GYQ Mr.Okamoto.

How to get the license in VP5
First of all, the operation in VP5 requires a license for any operator from the outside of VP5. This section describes how to get the license for JA stations. The applicant who wants to get the license must provide, 1) a Xerox copy of JA operator license (So-called gMusen Juhjisya Menkyoh) and station license ( gKyoku-Menh) each, 2) English translation of these license by the communication administer of Japan (so-called gDen-Kanh).

To step ahead, the applicant should get the application form of English translation at JARL in Sugamo, Tokyo. Please note the English translation takes approx. 4 weeks. The purpose of operating, how to use, the place (country) that the applicant would like to QRV, QTH and due must be filled in this form. Now you are all set. With this form, the above copies must be submitted to the administration office in VP5. In general, the acquaintance and/or friend in VP5 might be needed to take care of this application. This situation will be more convenient for the applicant to get the license. This will absolutely save a time to process the paperwork and get you the license.

The application needs US$21 to process. Mr. Okamoto, a partner of this excursion, sent an entire set of application to his friend in VP5, so that he could take care of. In two weeks after mailing out of Japan, we got a fax from the friend, telling gour application was all done.h This fax lead us to make the final decision of this excursion to execute at any rate. We could not make any clear decision until we got this fax, since we were worried about the penalty of cancellation fee of this trip, that is, a big amount of money to the travel agent to be paid. Once we made a decision, we have arranged a flight and hotel reservation as quickly as possible like an arrow. Our major goal was to enjoy DXfing in VP5 rather than a sight seeing up there.

Wow, Nice view of Turks & Caicos Is.@@@@Jody's daughter and her husband Karl.

Piling -up
We have really enjoyed QSO in a big pile up on either 20 m or 15 m band, since a lot of US and European stations were watching in these major DX bands. In a several minutes after we called up gCQh, we got a huge number of callings from them, making a pile up instantly. This heavy piling up did not bother us under the heat of the weather or by a lizard climbing up over my leg sometimes at all, though, getting everyone back a g599++h report in a few hours made us so exhausted and brought us a pain. To decrease the running rate of QSO, we have intentionally turned down the RF output. However, we got the real pleasure of dealing with pile up in Caribbean island in a HAM life.

QSO logging & CW operation
Among the stuff that we brought here from Japan, I would like to show you some software tool worked efficiently in this trip. gCT DX Pedition modeh was really useful for logging QSO and CW operation. At my shack, the CT program was loaded into IBM-PC clone using 486/66MHz, as well as CC98 for RTTY and Geoclock running in parallel, showing three independent windows on a 17 inch-color monitor. This configuration works really nice to watch DX signals and to hunt at my shack. Furthermore, this features to make instantly a summary of the total QSO, worked country and zone, allowing us to be fun and to save a lot of time of filing and sorting QSO and duplication of QSO as well. To make it matters good, this software features a printing capability of QSL label and a QSO list. This works really nice. So this software as well as ga electronic Keyh and ga head seth might be the best tools to deal with pile up of QSO.

Suppose if I would get a lap top PC with AT expansion slot, where gDVPh was attached, then I could deal with a more heavier pile up than we have done here in SSB mode. I should bring that with me if I would be here again in the future.

By the way, I enjoyed a shopping in Atlanta on the way back to Tokyo. I bought 5000 QSL labels in a row. The US10$ of price surprised me for 5000. Also I wished I could buy a cheap PC with 383/33MHz dedicating to run gCTh program in addition to my current machine, though I gave up to buy that since I have worried about the excess of check in baggage weight. It was my great regret that I should buy at least a CPU and a motherboard.

All Equipments for VP5/JJ1BMB
(UHF and VHF Tranceiver, UHF Linear Amplifier, Pre-Amplifier,
RTTY TU, Keyer, PC, Antenna Cable, UHF and VHF Antenna).

A life in Caicos Island
Food and drink are the must to prepare daily in this excursion. In a daily basis, we took sandwich and corn frake prepared by Mr. Okamoto, and a boiled water, coke and a beer for a drink instead of a natural water available in the island. During the stay, we enjoyed once to taste a lobster dinner with Jody, her daughter and her husband, which cost only US$20 per person. The taste of lobster, since it is come from Caribbean sea right in front of our shack, was really nice and fresh, and big enough compared to gIse-Ebih, a Japanese lobster which is more expensive than that. You might pay at least US$50 per person for a dish in Japan.

Air conditioned room was not available at our site we explored here, so a steamy night and a mosquito bothered us to sleep well, but awoke up early morning without a alarm clock. Thus, we were never late to miss the chance of the band opening in the morning.

Paul, an employee of Jodyfs home, wondered while he was watching us to enjoy a pleasure of QSO through a radio, and asked us gWhat the hell are you guys doing here, doing some business ?h It seemed him that we were very strange Orientals came from Japan, since we were building an antenna, sitting around the transceiver all day long rather than swimming, relaxing and so on.

In the last evening before going home, we were invited a dinner at Jodyfs home and have chatted with Jody and her family with her home-made gKiwee-Lime Pieh. During this conversation after diner, Jody asked us and wanted us to give her our advise on choosing a comfortable rig and other stuffs for the satellite communication, showing us a catalog. She had a plan to buy some stuff in Dayton next year. Since we are beginners of satellite communication, so I replied her that I will ask JA1CG for you to get his advice. Sorry OM!. In addition to the satellite communication, she would like to build a new tower with a 75m band antenna next year. I wished she could complete such stuff.

QSO Results

160 0 0 0 0
80 116 36 0 152
40 232 1 0 333
30 744 0 0 744
20 369 309 6 684
17 540 0 0 540
15 569 181 0 750
12 11 0 0 11
10 4 0 0 4
SAT 77 151 0 228
ALL 2662 678 6 3346

*2. VP5/JM1GYQ:1,323 QSO¤ VP5/JJ1BMB:2,023 QSO

I greatly appreciate the following people to execute our vacation plan to enjoy DXfing in Caribbean Islands, giving their hospitality, courtesy and their great help;

NW4F, Mr. Tyson & Mrs. Tyson for the stay at their home in Atlanta. VP5JM, Jody for borrowing me a satellite antenna and a dinner. JA1CG, Mr. Takahashi for the special lesson of satellite communication as well as picking us at the station in the heavy rain due to a typhoon. JA1ELY, Mr. Kusano, g59h magazine editor for borrowing me his DC power supply for this DXfing and delivering our plan via his magazine. JA8VE, Mr. Saito & JA1TRC, Mr. Oka of JARL international group for the paper work to get a license in VP5. JR1QQG, Mr. Nose for borrowing me his newly purchased TS-50 and JF1VJW, Mr. E-izumi for tips of travel in abroad.

NW4F Mr.Tyson and JJ1BMB in U.S.A.

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