EME From Guinea (2008)

By Ned Stearns, AA7A in 2008

This marks the second year that Ned Stearns, AA7A, and Mike Fulcher, KC7V, have operated EME in West Africa following the efforts of the VooDoo Contest Group in the CQWW DX CW Contest. The VooDoo Contest Group had it beginnings in 1986 when three friends from Phoenix, K5VT, KC7V & N7BG, traveled to St. Thomas, VI with other hams to participate in the CQWW CW Contest. Their group name, VooDoo Contest Group, was coined by Rob GM3YTS in 1995 as they crossed the border between Benin and Togo in West Africa. It is thought that Rob was inspired by a group of Voodoo Priests that they encountered while on the road. The team’s nickname has become “VooDudes”.

This year, the VooDoo Contest Group started its adventure back in Bamako, Mali where they operated in the CQWW DX CW Contest and operated EME as TZ5A in November 2006. The ever-growing pile of contest and EME  equipment was stored in Bamako following last year’s event and this year it was time to move the contest equipment and EME stuff a new venue. The VooDoo Contest Group selected Conakry, Guinea for their operation in 2007 as the next stop since it put the operation at a place in Africa where they could get good, low-angle  propagation out over the Atlantic Ocean. They had been breathing dust for a few years and the idea of a seaside operating location was somewhat appealing. Once they arrived in Bamako on 15 November, 2007, they gathered their things from storage, added some new hardware, and put it all in a bus and took a 900 km trip across the two-lane (sometimes), pot holed roads of West Africa.

After the two- day bus ride to Conakry, they assembled the HF contest station over the next several days. As a last-minute change to the plan, they had been finally issued the more desirable callsign 3X5A for both HF and VHF operation. This year’s CQWW DX CW contest effort was a big success with nearly 15,000 QSOs and 40 million points scored. On Monday morning following the DX contest, the entire HF station was disassembled and packed up ready to go back into storage until 2008. And then, the EME station was quickly assembled for four days of operation by AA7A and KC7V. Mike and Ned completed 125 EME QSO’s combined on both JT65b and CW modes.

Below is the list of stations worked in order during the operation in 3X this year:

# Date Call Mode
1 26-Nov-07 PA0JMV JT65b
2 26-Nov-07 DF2ZC JT65b
3 26-Nov-07 OZ1LPR JT65b
4 26-Nov-07 YO9FRJ JT65b
5 26-Nov-07 DK3EE JT65b
6 26-Nov-07 PA3CMC JT65b
7 26-Nov-07 DL8YHR JT65b
8 26-Nov-07 CT1HZE JT65b
9 26-Nov-07 7K3LGC JT65b
10 26-Nov-07 S52LM JT65b
11 26-Nov-07 DL7FF JT65b
12 26-Nov-07 PE1L JT65b
13 26-Nov-07 DK5YA JT65b
14 26-Nov-07 RA3AQ JT65b
15 26-Nov-07 IK1UWL JT65b
16 26-Nov-07 RA6DA JT65b
17 26-Nov-07 I1ANP JT65b
18 26-Nov-07 F6HVK JT65b
19 26-Nov-07 I2RV JT65b
20 27-Nov-07 KB8RQ JT65b
21 27-Nov-07 K9MRI JT65b
22 27-Nov-07 DL8GP JT65b
23 27-Nov-07 SM5CUI JT65b
24 27-Nov-07 UA9YLU JT65b
25 27-Nov-07 RV3IG JT65b
26 27-Nov-07 W5UN JT65b
27 27-Nov-07 WQ5S JT65b
28 27-Nov-07 K6MYC JT65b
29 27-Nov-07 DK3WG JT65b
30 27-Nov-07 W7IUV JT65b
31 27-Nov-07 WA4NJP JT65b
32 27-Nov-07 F6BKI JT65b
33 27-Nov-07 F9HS JT65b
34 27-Nov-07 K7MAC JT65b
35 27-Nov-07 OH7PI JT65b
36 27-Nov-07 PE1BTX JT65b
37 27-Nov-07 PA3CWN JT65b
38 27-Nov-07 K9CT JT65b
39 27-Nov-07 HA6NQ JT65b
40 27-Nov-07 F6FHP JT65b
41 27-Nov-07 DL1RNW JT65b
42 27-Nov-07 EA2AGZ JT65b
43 27-Nov-07 W7MEM JT65b
44 27-Nov-07 SM5CFS JT65b
45 27-Nov-07 OM1BC JT65b
46 27-Nov-07 ES6RQ JT65b
47 27-Nov-07 LY2BAW JT65b
48 27-Nov-07 IK7EZN JT65b
49 27-Nov-07 IW4ARD JT65b
50 27-Nov-07 RU1AA JT65b
51 27-Nov-07 JH0HME JT65b
52 27-Nov-07 PA3ZH JT65b
53 27-Nov-07 HB9Q JT65b
54 27-Nov-07 UA4AQL JT65b
55 28-Nov-07 OK1CU JT65b
56 28-Nov-07 DJ7OF JT65b
57 28-Nov-07 OK2UZL JT65b
58 28-Nov-07 DL9MS JT65b
59 28-Nov-07 EI4DQ JT65b
60 28-Nov-07 DF7KF JT65b
61 28-Nov-07 UA9FAD JT65b
62 28-Nov-07 DL8EBW JT65b
63 28-Nov-07 F8DO JT65b
64 28-Nov-07 DL2NUD JT65b
65 28-Nov-07 OE6IWG JT65b
66 28-Nov-07 ON7UC JT65b
67 28-Nov-07 F6BEG JT65b
68 28-Nov-07 K1JT JT65b
69 28-Nov-07 KD3UY JT65b
70 28-Nov-07 S54T JT65b
71 28-Nov-07 W5UN CW
72 28-Nov-07 KB8RQ CW
73 28-Nov-07 SV1BTR CW
74 28-Nov-07 RN6BN CW
75 28-Nov-07 RA6AX CW
76 28-Nov-07 I3EVK JT65b
77 28-Nov-07 RX1AS JT65b
78 28-Nov-07 W8WN JT65b
79 28-Nov-07 W7GJ JT65b
80 28-Nov-07 DK3BU JT65b
81 28-Nov-07 JH2COZ JT65b
82 28-Nov-07 SV8CS JT65b
83 28-Nov-07 DK5WL JT65b
84 28-Nov-07 JH5FOQ JT65b
85 28-Nov-07 RA4HCN JT65b
86 28-Nov-07 JM1GSH JT65b
87 29-Nov-07 UR5LX JT65b
88 29-Nov-07 PA3FPQ JT65b
89 29-Nov-07 DH3YAK JT65b
90 29-Nov-07 PA3CEE JT65b
91 29-Nov-07 DM1CG JT65b
92 29-Nov-07 EA3BB JT65b
93 29-Nov-07 DJ8MS JT65b
94 29-Nov-07 PA3COB JT65b
95 29-Nov-07 SM5TSP JT65b
96 29-Nov-07 PA3CSG JT65b
97 29-Nov-07 F5GHP JT65b
98 29-Nov-07 DK4TG JT65b
99 29-Nov-07 G4ZFJ JT65b
100 29-Nov-07 W8PAT JT65b
101 29-Nov-07 W0PT JT65b
102 29-Nov-07 K9KNW JT65b
103 29-Nov-07 ES6RQ JT65b
104 29-Nov-07 W5UN CW
105 29-Nov-07 OK1MS CW
106 29-Nov-07 9H1PA JT65b
107 29-Nov-07 HA0HO JT65b
108 29-Nov-07 K1CA JT65b
109 29-Nov-07 UA9SL JT65b
110 29-Nov-07 EA6VQ JT65b
111 29-Nov-07 EB5EEO JT65b
112 29-Nov-07 WP4G JT65b
113 29-Nov-07 RW3AC JT65b
114 29-Nov-07 YU7AA JT65b
115 29-Nov-07 S53J JT65b
116 29-Nov-07 AD4TJ JT65b
117 30-Nov-07 OK1UGA JT65b
118 30-Nov-07 PA1GYS JT65b
119 30-Nov-07 YU7XL JT65b
120 30-Nov-07 JS3CTQ JT65b
121 30-Nov-07 OH4LA JT65b
122 30-Nov-07 DK5EW JT65b
123 30-Nov-07 DM2BHG JT65b
124 30-Nov-07 OK1TEH JT65b
125 30-Nov-07 K4SV JT65b

Here are a few pictures of the setup in Conakry in 2007:

We added a 2nd M2 2M28XPOL to the EME array in 2007. AA7A designed a AZ/EL system that used some new and some existing hardware in the VooDoo Contest Group’s hardware pile. The system performed flawlessly during the four-day EME operation. Working the ropes easily oriented the array at the moon. There were some challenges when the yagis got caught in the guy ropes for the mast, but that only occurred for the short duration when the moon was near zenith. The station operator would need to climb three flights of stairs to the roof to orient the antenna every 30 minutes or so. This aerobic exercise certainly helped to make the operator tired after 12 or so trips to the roof during an operating shift.

The station was spaciously laid out on a large table in KC7V’s hotel room. The large fan was the 3rd op on the team. The hotel’s air conditioning was not operative and the 90+ degree F temp and 90+ percent humidity tended to sap one’s strength quickly. We obtained an internet connection and set up a wireless network for the operation. We used one laptop for operating WSJT and the second laptop for accessing email and chat rooms during EME operation. We used paper logging since the QSO rate was not terribly challenging.

KC7V at the 3X5A EME operating position. Normally one operator worked the station, oriented the antenna and maintained connection to the EME community on the internet while the other operator slept. The moon generally rose after sunset and then set mid-morning the next day. After operating in the CQWW DX CW contest, pulling four straight all-night operations was yet an other test. Every contact was a thrill for these two operators.

View from the street of the EME antenna. There was no obstructions in any direction from this location on the hotel roof. There was some elevated noise at moonrise while looking into the city. At moonset, the antenna was pointed out over the Atlantic Ocean with very low noise.