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3B9HA Rodriguez Island flag Rodriguez Island

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QSL: via M0OXO.

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Saturday evening 23 Dec 2017

I am not a stranger to adventure, I rather thrive on challenges and change. But maybe I pushed it one step too far this time.

Following CQWW I started to get pain in my right leg and it started to swell. Being an idiot I was hoping it would go away but it didn't. On Friday midday 8 Dec my family got mad at me and told me to immediately go to a doctor. With the help of local friends Robert 3B9FR and Eduardo I was brought to the nearest health center and was as it turns out wrongly diagnosed with a skin infection. My host Johnson with Robert and Eduardo convinced me that I should get back to Mauritius asap and get a second opinion. With their help I packed all my stuff in a haste and got a seat on the last flight from Rodrigues to Mauritius on that Friday evening. Johnson had arranged transport to the hospital and by midnight I was there and diagnosed with a massive DVT in my right leg.

I spent a week plumbed in at the hospital and am now resting with strict order not to travel for a few weeks and with regular reviews back at the hospital. For the first time ever I am away from family for the holiday season. Internet makes it at least possible to stay in touch.

A pleasant surprise was the visits from local hams while I was at the hospital. Francois 3B9GZ and his wife Helen, Patrick 3B8GF and Jackie 3B8CF came and said hello and gave me an opportunity to get to know them better which was nice.

After CQWW I spent some time on FT8 mainly in order to set it up for Robert, 3B9FR. In total I made some 1000+ QSOs almost all on the low bands. I ought to publish some observations on FT8 as seen from a rare DX location - maybe I get a chance to do that next week somewhere.

In the meantime I note that it looks like I did quite OK in CQWWCW from this far away location with my field-day style poles and simple wire antennas. It was good fun but I probably ought to recognize that I'm not a young boy anymore and stop behaving like one. Spending 40 hours in the chair in 30C heat was obviously not a smart move.

Here from the CQ raw scores: 


Friday morning 8 Dec 2017

M0OXO is now updated with my logs every morning. I have a problem with LOTW - moving to a new computer the procedure I have followed on earlier occasions didn't work and I have not been able to resolve the cryptic error messages or the cryptic advice from the LOTW Help folks but don't worry, the QSOs will be uploaded in the fullness of time.

Suddenly it is Friday morning December 8th and time has passed very fast. With the amplifier out of action on 160 the struggle to work low power from so far away didn't feel quite worth it. But there is more to do, the sun is shining, the cockerel wakes me up, the view over the lagoon is gorgeous, seemingly untouched by the amplifier misery.

CQWWCW this year (2017) went very similar to last year. Conditions were almost identical from here, score and qsos were also close. Losing 160 is not a catastrophe when you are far away in a dx location - you can't run on 80 or 160 because you get overrun by continous calling morons who click on RBN or cluster spots without listening and destroy the fun for everyome.

Last year some free-ranging cows messed up my antennas big way. No cows in sight this year but a flock of friendly sheep. The sheep can't get to my antenna wires or guys because I made them sheep-proof but I was not smart enough to make the radials sheep-proof. Eleven sheep can make a serious mess of my 32 radials. Well, they were 32 to begin with and some have mysteriously disappeared. A small plus: The visiting cards left by sheep are much easier to deal with than cow dung. I ought to add this expertise to my CV.


So, in stead of concentrating on 160 cw outside the contest I started to play with FT8. The plan is to leave FT8 set-up for Robert 3B9FR so he can put 3B9 on the map on the HF bands. To do that I had to learn a bit for myself so I have been doing a fair bit of FT8 from here mainly on 80 and 40. It has been interesting and educational. Combined with PSK-reporter it looks like we have a very good tool to illustrate the basic features of ionospheric propagation on the different bands as the earth rotates over the 24 hour day. In terms of protocol and operating procedure and user interface there is much scope for improvement with the current version of FT8. Anyhow, when I go QRT and withdraw to colder climes in a few days I hope Robert will be QRV on 40m and down including on 30m with a new GP I built for him.

FT8 is slow so you have ample time to multitask. At night there is not much of a view but you can do emails and follow twitter, the latter however miserably depressing nowadays. But daytime you can enjoy the view out over your beautiful antennas. I understand normal folks would rather notice the bougainvillas and the lagoon and wonder what that other crap is.

I find it is most challenging and interesting to work the low bands. To do that you have to be around the radio at local sunrise 0500 and local sunset 1815. I have a reliable alarmclock that wakes me up two hours before sunrise.



It is Friday evening local time Nov 24 and by sunset 1400z the various wire antennas for 6 bands were finally up and seem to be working. It took me three days where the hot sun, some fierce showers, wind gusts, thorny vegetation and my own stupidity made the job much more challenging than hoped for. Then my amp doesn't seem to like 160 in any form so would be just 100w there :-(  .  Now about to configure WinTest and the laptop for CQWWCW.


OK, it is November 2017 and I am on my way back to 3B9, right now enjoying a couple of weeks of holiday on 3B8 with my wife and with the radio gear packed away.

3B9HA could be on the air from local sunset Wednesday Nov 22, 2017 and will need to QRT after local sunrise on Monday Dec 11.

Besides CQWWCW the focus will be on CW on the low bands. If I get bold I might start playing with FT8. No internet in shack but should be able to upload log daily to LOTW and ClubLog. Charles M0OXO is doing the QSLs.

Setup will be very similar to last year, see below.

73 Olof G0CKV


So, my 2016 3B9 adventure has come to an end and I am back in the cold and dark northern winter busy preparing for the family activities during Christmas and New Year.

Plan is to reactivate 3B9HA in 2017 for CQWWCW plus another couple of weeks.

Final QSO numbers in 2016 were:

160:  1079
80:   1175
40:   1306
20:   1006
15:   1361
10:    197

for a total of 6124 QSOs with only a few hours on-the-air every day plus the CQWWCW weekend.

A few pictures below.

Thank you for the QSOs and for your patience when I was trying to dig your calls out of the QRN on 160.

73 and c u nxt yr


Sunday morning December 11th:

Well, that was a different experience. The 80m antenna is lost to a bull and with only 1 night left I am not going to spend a half day taking down the 160m antenna and redo the whole setup so there will be no more 80.

As it turned 1 bull and 3 cows were roaming the property "unlawfully" last night. With condx bad and signals weak and QRN high again it was very frustrating to try to dig signals out of the noise. Then it turned out that the cattle were mooing and bellying and munching all night outside my windows making sleep impossible. Do they never sleep? Perhaps not when they have found fresh flowers and some greenery after months on a diet of almost nothing. I went outside with a spotlight and a stick trying to chase them away but nothing I did made any impression on them. But then I am no cowboy and have obviously no talent for that.

This field-day-style setup has 3 poles with their bases tied to small trees and then 20 light guy lines, 6 dipole ends, 4 elevated radial ends, 4 topband umbrella ends and 1 80m inv L end plus a BOG. It all adds up to quite a spider's web of wires and light rope. It was with trepidation I went outside to check the damage at dawn today. In all, not too bad. Will need to fix a couple of guys, redo most of the radials, fit a new PL259 that was lost when a coax was dragged  by a cow and then of course no 80m antenna. A new item has been added to the take-down todo-list: clean cow-dung off the coax :-(

Might spend some time on 10 today for the ARRL 10m contest then begin to take down HF antennas late afternoon. I am leaving the topband overnight to give the cows another chance to attack it and also to try some more topband overnight. 

As of December11th at sunrise the QSO statistics looks like this (all on CW):

160:  920
80:  1175
40:  1303
20:   890
15:  1361
10:   177

On Tuesday morning I am flying to 3B8, spending the afternoon with Clive 3B8CW and then catching an overnight flight to London.

It has been great fun to play with my radio toys, talk with the locals, spend time with Robert, 3B9FR, and his family, and see a bit more of Rodrigues. Now it will be really great to be reunited with the family over the Holiday Season.

= = = = = = = = = =

Quick update Saturday evening December 10th:

Lost 80m antenna today due to free-ranging bull. Did not notice until pitch dark. This also meant 160m antenna had to be retuned. So right now, 160 OK but no more 80.

QRN on 160 bad this evening. Will try again 2100z through my Sunday morning sunrise 0100z and then same the following night.

= = = = = = = = = = 

G0CKV is QRV from Rodrigues as 3B9HA November 23 - December 12, 2016.

Playing with radio is only part-time here - this is not a 24/7 DX-pedition.

Will close down after sunrise on Monday 12th.

10m essentially dead but will check again during the ARRL 10m Contest Dec 10-11

Focusing on top band. QRN level is very high during the night. No problem with a big pile-up but it is a challenge to dig calls out of the noise. Calls have to be pieced together fragment by fragment.

Do it like this on top band:

1. Make sure you can hear me before you transmit

2. Pick a frequency 0.7kHz or more up from my frequency and stay there. Don't move around continously. Don't jump on last station's frequency. Send your call over and over again with a brief pause to check whether I am transmitting. There is no regular pattern in how calls are picked up - it is just the "simple" matter of finding signals that are readable at a particular moment in the QRN. You need luck with the QSB peaks on your side. By the way - your top-band luck would improve considerably with better antennas. 

No internet in shack but I try to upload to LOTW and ClubLog when I go for breakfast and dinner. Uploads OK as of breakfast December 9th.

All QSL via Charles M0OXO OQRS or Direct Mail

Please DO NOT send your cards via the bureau. There was a time when I loved to receive all those cards but there is now not enough time left in my life to collect them. Please use OQRS to request bureau cards.

Apologies for delays in responding to old QSL requests. As from October 2016 Charles has kindly offered to help me and the backlog is already sorted.

3B9HA shack with K3 and SPE 1.3K running 800W:

3B9HA Low-band verticals on a Spiderbeam 18m pole. The 160m antenna is a 16m toploaded umbrella and the 80m antenna is an inverted L in parallel sharing the same pole and radial field:

3B9HA low-band antennas

3B9HA low-band antenna feedpoint. The 160m antenna is prepared for resonance below 1800kHz. Feedpoint impedance is about 21 ohm and with an additional inductive component. A series network with a fixed series capacitor and adjustable inductor takes out the reactance and a hairpin coil to ground is used to raise the impedance to 50 ohm. The 80m inverted L is about right in itself and simply connected in parallel. The coax is very light low-loss 5mm from Messi&Paoli, ideal for traveling.

40m antenna is a vertical on a Spiderbeam 12m pole with 4 elevated radials. Original plan was to do two phased ground-mounted verticals but after having laid out the low-band radials the idea of doing two more sets of radials under the hot Rodrigues sun was not that attractive.

3B9HA 40m vertical
On 10-15-20 an 18m Spiderbeam pole supports parallel (fan) dipoles at 14m. This antenna is 170m from the lagoon over poor ground so is likely to outperform verticals.

3B9HA parallel dipoles for 10-15-20

Spiderbeam poles being cleaned and dried before packing.

Spiderbeam poles being cleaned and dried

Robert 3B9FR enjoying a cup of coffee during a break as he was helping me to take down the antennas.

My host family. From right to left daughter Estelle, Johnson, a teacher and local politician, his wife Mariana with daughter Alice and a cousin in front, Olof 3B9HA, Boulok, fisherman and cook and more and Jennifer who is doing the breakfasts and keeping the place in good order.

Robert, 3B9FR trying out the 3B9HA operating position.

3B9FR in 3B9HA shack

Trespassing cow munching outside my window


A morning's catch. Caught on line outside the reef.


You reach Rodrigues with daily flights from Mauritius. Flying time is around 1h30m. The runway at Rodrigues can't handle jets so the route is served with turboprops ATR72. They are weight-limited so passengers are only allowed one 7kg cabin luggage and one 15kg checked bag. That is tough on traveling radio hams.




8531066 Last modified: 2017-12-23 17:34:08, 18749 bytes

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