Hard-Core-DX.com: Kona, Hawaii Ultralight DXpedition-- Pacific Island DX (Pt. 1)

Kona, Hawaii Ultralight DXpedition-- Pacific Island DX (Pt. 1)

Monday, January 01 2018

>From December 17-20 a Mini-DXpedition was conducted in Kona, Hawaii with a 5 inch (13cm) "Frequent Flyer" FSL antenna and a 7.5 inch (19cm) loopstick C.Crane Skywave Ultralight radio. The FSL antenna was a new type designed to easily pass through TSA security checkpoints at airports, and provide inductive coupling gain roughly similar to that of a 4 foot air core box loop. South Pacific island reception was generally good from 0630-0800 UTC daily, but usually became problematic after that when powerful Asian stations tended to drown out the exotic Pacific island stations.

The new 846-Kiribati on Christmas Island was a star performer as the strongest island DU station, with local-like signals shortly after the Hawaiian sunset each evening. Despite this it had an intermittent transmitter dropout issue, including one stretch with six signal dropouts within one minute, as documented in an MP3 linked below. In addition 846-Christmas Island's programming had a variable time delay with that of distant 1440-Kiribati in Tarawa, with both a 19-second and 35 second time delay noted. This may be related to the transmitter cutout issue, with the time delay changing after a major dropout. Although both 846 and 1440-Kiribati signed off at the usual 0936 UTC time on the first couple days of the trip, they had both switched to a 1009 UTC sign off on the last couple of days. Whether this is a permanent programming change is unknown, but the loud 1000 Hz audio tone is still being broadcast before power is cut, resulting in a very easy way to distinguish the stations at sign off time (even in heavy domestic QRM).

846 and 1440 weren't the only exotic DU's with transmitter issues. 621-Tuvalu came down with distorted audio on December 18th, a problem which got worse and worse on the remaining two days. By the last day it was sounding very garbled-- a fine match for the buzzing 621-Voice of Korea's Japanese service. Whether 621-Tuvalu has repaired its garbled audio is also unknown..

540 2AP Apia, Samoa, 5 kW Christian worship music at a good level through the T-storms at 0751 on 12-17, but not as strong as in April https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/bgnooywkpnt3et7vcnxz0wmx3gdin1o2

621 R. Tuvalu Funafuti, Tuvalu, 5 kW This station had very strong signals until around 0800 on most evenings, when it usually began to be pestered by Asian QRM (China, N. Korea and NHK1). It also came down with a garbled audio issue on December 18th, which continued to get progressively worse until I left Hawaii. Sign off time is still around 1006, but by that time it ran the gauntlet of powerful Asian co-channels.

Local employment offers read by the usual lady announcer at an S9 level at 0750 on 12-18. This was the last undistorted audio signal recorded from the station during this trip https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/8w8ht0f9k2j87dok77ho23msxoidqgy6

Guest speaker in Japanese-accented English, followed by local island-type music at 0835 on 12-18-- the first sign of audio distortion https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/izdocq942897mvdxoa0xjksufztnh46d

Full Radio Tuvalu sign off routine at 1003 on 12-18, but with China QRM initially. Tuvalu's signal prevails during the national anthem, but the audio distortion is quite noticeable. The carrier apparently stays on for over a minute after the audio stops https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/msy64393v8ty1qxq6hi8kixflb32beqx

630 UnID While trying for the Cook islands (Rarotonga) I came across this weak Christmas music with English speech at 0742 on 12-17, although this could just as easily be a west coast domestic station playing the "exotic" to fool a hopeful DXer. https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/53olvqc33py6081jy17qrjwy0ms9mn5c

801 UnID (Guam?) Apparent Christian female vocal music received during Pyongyang BS/ Jammer fade at 0931 on 12-18, but no definite ID clues https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/26c2k3bqxnv0s0qhabsg9xx8518jukdd

846 R. Kiribati Christmas Island, 10 kW This newly rejuvenated station had awesome signals, and was overall the strongest Pacific island station received. Of all the Pacific island DU's it faded in at the earliest time after sunset, and maintained its strength even during strong Asian propagation -- as long as it managed to transmit without its signal dropping out. Unfortunately this seemed to be a pretty common occurrence.

Island-type music at typical S9 strength at 0735 on 12-18 https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/7sb6luietjmx0fdghwqedi9x5splos1n

This segment at 0620 UTC on December 17th features 6 signal dropouts within one minute https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/shqpg3c3yuhz4fzvnhkhkvgzamg4s6do

This segment at 0944 UTC on December 18th is even worse-- 9 dropouts in 90 seconds https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/vxzwv9x8wc9hwqgj4xye2b12fzbtbtsk

After a prolonged 846 transmitter dropout it seemed like the programming time delay between the distant 1440-Kiribati on Tarawa Island and 846-Kiribati on Christmas Island would change. On December 17th I recorded two different time delays-- 19 seconds, as in the following recording (the MP3 starts out on 846 at 0635, switches to 1440 at the 1:02 point, then switches back to 846 at the 1:34 point, with a 19-second time delay evident between the 1440 and 846 programming https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/leyyz3kj8aarsu4gwp24czdwp0onbk22

Later on the same evening there was a 36 second time delay between 1440 and 846, with this MP3 starting off on 1440 at 0645, and switching to 846 at the 11 second point https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/0w1an6509xvgow2aq9i7lxfyfhx1gend