2m EME Operation in Conakry, Guinea  November 2007

Initial post 14 October 2007

The VooDoo Contest Group is moving its act to Conakry, Guinea (IJ39) in November 2007 to participate in the CQWW DX CW Contest as 3XY5D. This group consists of US and UK amateurs that have been visiting various West African nations and assembling competitive contest stations for over a dozen years. This year, we are expanding the capability of the 2m EME that will be conducted only after the CQWW DX CW contest event (unlike last year where some operation was possible prior to the contest). Ned Stearns (AA7A), Mike Fulcher (KC7V) will be building a significant 2m EME station into the VooDoo Contest Groupís equipment ensemble. Most of the EME hardware will remain in  Africa after this visit and will be available for use in other African excursions by this team for the years to come.

The 2m EME station consists of kW-level power; a pair of 28 element cross-polarized yagi with full AZ/EL; and a mast-mounted, low noise preamp. The current VHF hardware will consist of a Down East Microwave high-power transverter using one of the CQWW DX CW Contest stationís Elecraft K2 ís as the IF. The station is planned to support both WSJT and CW operating modes with plans to operate both modes during this yearís visit. Accurate computer time will obtained using a surplus GPS receiver and GPS Time software. 

One of the more interesting aspects of the VooDoo Contest Group operation is the practice of moving the contest station from site to site throughout West Africa. This year, the team will initially return to Bamako, Mali on 15 November 2007 to start this adventure. We will round up the gear already in Bamako, add some additional hardware we are bringing this year and stow it all in a 35-passenger bus that we are leasing for the 1000 km trek to Conakry, Guinea. We will spend two long days in the bus going overland to our hotel in Conakry, arriving late on Sunday, 18 November 2007. At this point, the contest team will start to assemble the elaborate contest station for CQWW DX CW. We normally have monoband HF yagi's on multiple towers and many LF antennas for this contest, so you can imagine the effort out in the African sun required to put together a world-class HF Contest Station.  When this station is complete and working to our satisfaction, we will then assemble the EME station in whatever space that is still unused by an HF antenna. The primary EME operators have adjusted their stay in Guinea to maximize their time on EME during the times of best lunar conditions. EME operations will be complete at Moonset on 30 November 2007 when we will disassemble the system as well as the last remaining HF antennas. The EME operators will depart Conakry late on 30 November 2007 and sleep until November 2008, or whenever they recover from this radio "vacation".

The callsign for our EME operation is 3XT1. No, that is not a typing error. Guinea does not issue amateur radio callsigns in exact compliance with ITU conventions. This is the call that the VooDoo Contest Group has been assigned with VHF privileges for this year. The WSJT software can still operate when we use this callsign, but there are some steps that you should take to assure that you are obtaining the full capability of WSJT software. Here are the instructions for setting up JT65 to work 3XT1:

A.  Set up JT65 to send 2 callsigns and no grid locator.  JT65 will encode and decode any such message as plain text.

Here is an example QSO between 3XT1 and a station with a call such as WB2ABC. 3XT1 will always start a QSO by sending CQ or completing a previous QSO. The sequence of messages is as follows:

3XT1 message WB2ABC message Notes
CQ 3XT1 IJ39 3XT1 WB2ABC Notice that there is no grid square in WB2ABC's message. This is the preferred message from callers. Sending a standard message with a grid square is also OK, but only a portion of the grid square will be sent and the Deep Search algorithm will not function correctly. The 3XT1 operators will ignore grid square information in general.
WB2ABC 3XT1    I   OOO RO Note that the grid square for 3XT1 was truncated from IJ39 to simply I. This is due to the fact the the JT65 software was attempting to send a 13 character message but filled the maximum message size when it got part way through the IJ39 grid square. WB2ABC should simply disregard the partial grid square message and rely upon having successfully  decoded the callsigns and the OOO message. Grid squares are not essential in making EME contacts. WB2ABC starts using the standard short message RO. If a station has a call that is 9 characters (e.g. A6/RV6LNA), then send calls with no space.
RRR 73 Both stations use standard short messages through contact completion
73 (yahoo!) 3XT1 may call next station rather than 73


A Message like:

 3XT1 WB2ABC FN00

is not recommended to be used, because this will need more than the 13-character limit for a plain text message to fully send the grid square information.

B. We will be unable to work someone with a call like PJ2/WB2ABC because the messages

     PJ2/WB2ABC 3XT1      or even
     PJ2/WB2ABC3XT1

need more than 13 characters. If someone has a call longer than 9 characters, we recommend the following exchange that keeps the text messages to 13 characters or less. 

CQ 3XT1 IJ39
                                  DE PJ2/WB2ABC
PJ2/WB2ABC OO
                                  3XT1 RO
RRR
                  73

C. The Deep Search decoder will work for the basic messages

   WB2ABC 3XT1
   3XT1 WB2ABC

if (and only if) the receiving station clears the "Grid" box on his main screen.

D. There is no need to do anything to the CALL3.TXT file.

E. If you are a CW operator, thank you for your patience on this issue. However, a CW operator might be confused with this unexpected callsign without prior knowledge, as well. 

Here is the planned schedule of events related to EME. Deviations from this planned will be posted on the Moon-Net reflector or on the MMF web site as possible. (M/R = moonrise; M/S = moonset) 

M/R Date

Operating Time/Mode Primary activity Frequency, 3X TX 1st
Thu, 22 Nov 1645 - 0515 Z (23Nov) / WSJT & CW Remote possibility of EME operation Post online
Fri, 23 Nov 1745 - 2399 Z / WSJT & CW Remote possibility of EME operation Post online
Sat, 24 Nov   NO EME; Operation in CQWW, only  
Sun, 25 Nov   NO EME; Operation in CQWW, only  
Mon, 26 Nov 0000 - 0830 Z / WSJT Might sleep after CQWW or EME if still wired 144149 TX; RX up 1 to 2
Mon, 26 Nov 2045 - 2359 Z / WSJT JA Window  144084 TX/RX
Tue, 27 Nov 0000 - 0945 Z / WSJT all areas 144149 TX; RX up 1 to 2
Tue, 27 Nov 2200 - 0045 Z (28 Nov) / WSJT JA Window 144084 TX/RX
Wed, 28 Nov 0045 - 1030 Z / WSJT & CW all areas, CW for 2 hours starting 0500 144149 TX; RX up 1 to 2 for WSJT, CW on 144045
Wed, 28 Nov 2300 - 0145 Z (29 Nov) / WSJT JA Window 144084 TX/RX
Thu, 29 Nov 0145 - 1130 Z / WSJT & CW all areas, CW for 2 hours starting 0500 144149 TX; RX up 1 to 2 for WSJT, CW on 144045
Thu, 29 Nov 2345 - 0215 (30 Nov) / WSJT JA Window 144084 TX/RX
Fri, 30 Nov 0215 - 1215 Z / WSJT & CW all areas, CW for 4 hours starting 0500 144149 TX; RX up 1 to 2 for WSJT, CW on 144045

Some operating tips for those chasing us:

1. The operators will focus on working stations in operating windows as listed in the table above. If we decode more than one station, we will respond to the station in our focus window if we need to make a choice.

2. We are scheduling a dedicated time for CW operation this year. We believe that our station is CW-capable and we expect to be at a quieter site than last year in TZ. In order to satisfy as many operators as possible, we are allocating time slots for CW during a lunar window to both USA and Europe. 3XT1 will use 1 minute sequences and will always TX during 1st period (during times of even minutes) and listen on odds.

3. We will not make repeat contacts if we can help it. We will attempt to put a list of stations worked on this page or on a mail reflector daily, if possible. A second QSO on another mode is always accepted. However, please let us try to work as many of the needy as possible, especially those who have limited common lunar window time with 3X.

4. We will operate if we can before 24 November. Starting 26 November, we will be on EME from moonrise to moonset. 

5. 3X appears to be at the antipode to VK/ZL. We found no common lunar window between 3X and VK/ZL. We are sorry for our VK/ZL friends for this celestial shortcoming. 

6. Please have fun. We hope to work everyone. Those we do not work this year, we will try to work next year from 3X or possibly another spot in West Africa. All of the heavy EME equipment will remain in West Africa to support future operations.

73 and GL!

Ned Stearns, AA7A 

Mike Fulcher, KC7V

And the rest of the 3XY5D team

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