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Old 16-01-20, 09:23   #1
IN3ZNR
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TI9A Cocos Island - interview with Dima RA9USU

Dear DXers,
taking advantage of the friendship I have with Dima RA9USU, I was able to get some anticipation for the readers of HRW, on his next dxpedition to Coco Island that will activate with other 3 operators with the call TI9A. Dima (as you know) is an excellent operator and for CW mode is definitely one of the best Ive seen operating. I had the pleasure of being with him in the team that first activated South Sudan (ST0R) as soon as this country had independence.
But now the word to Dima!!


Greetings Fabrizio!

1) you were in Cocos Is. already (two times). Why the team choose this target again?

Well, we never actually went on Cocos for a real DXpedition. I was working on the license back in mid-2014, when I learned from Costa Rican Telecom that another application is applied for by the Polish group.
I know only one Polish group and I asked Vlodek, SP6EQZ if I can join them, and was surprised to hear that they are not planning to operate from TI9.

Little later I saw the announcement on DX-World that 3Z9DX is planning the last operation from Isla del Coco. So our first operation back in 2015 was more like a teaching lesson, where I invited myself into as a technical specialist, building most of the antennas and installing them along with Jorge, TI2JV.

My second trip to Cocos was not to operate the radio, but only to help Dom 3Z9DX to install the repeater equipment he promised to Rangers, but six days before the trip Dom decided to quit and I had to procure all necessary equipment he asked and had almost zero free time to operate because of all the work had to be done.


2) there was another DXpedition planned to Cocos TI9, the Mexican guy give up?

I usually never announce our operation prior to the operation started. I and Jorge were planning our operation for the last two years. Back in May last year, we received an e-mail from Marc XE1B, asking for help with a TI9 license. We told him that he has to look for another location, but were surprised that he suddenly announced the trip to TI9.

As we knew, that only two timeslots for Amateur Radio operations allowed in a year, and we already have a license for February, there is hardly any chance for a second license to be issued at exactly the same timeframe. Still as of today - there is no mentioning of any TI9C license on SUTEL website being issued.

When we learned that Marc is actually planning to use the very same February trip - we decided that we will take a Chatham Bay location to avoid a possible collision with their team. TI9C announced only SSB operation, therefore, we shouldn't be any interference with them, given that we are taking the location, separated by the 250m high mountain between us and Wafer Bay. Unfortunately, this brings us a lot of issues, as there is no more water generator available in the Chatham. We had to purchase generators on the mainland and arrange shipping with Rangers about a ton of fuel.


3)how is the trip plan (I saw you've rent a boat..from Punta Arenas)


Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to hire the vessel in Costa Rica, which can bring you to Cocos. Only certain boats allowed to go there and hiring the boat in Panama is not an option either, because it is taking two weeks to clear the foreign boat in Costa Rican waters.

We will be using the same Okeanos Aggressor boat, as usual, the only difference is that our gear will be traveling independently, as there are no generators or fuel allowed to be traveling with the passenger's vessel. The license starts on February 2 and ends seven days later.



4) it's an expensive DXpedition?



In the beginning, it was not supposed to be at all. The planned budget was about 20K USD. But because of the changes, we had to make to avoid colliding with Marc's Team we had already neared 40K USD expenses.



5) you think that you' make many FT8 over there? CW and SSB are still alive for you?



Because of the time restraint, we have to make the most out of the seven days on the air. Our main priority is to give fellow hams a chance to get TI9 into the logs. I love CW and our site location will allow us to build a separate camp for FT8 operation. Hopefully, we will be on the band with 4 to 6 radios simultaneously with at least 2 radios on FT8.



6) you think to use more low bands (30-40-60-80-160m)?



Because of the sunspot minimum, we will definitely spend a lot of time on low bands. But we have antennas for all the bands with us. I also see some of the 60m operations in the past from Costa Rica, but I will have to check it again, as I do not believe that the band is officially allowed there. We do not intend to break any rules and will not operate the band illegally. We respect the Costa Rican law, even though we know that many of you need that contact.



7) what're antennas you'll set up on the island?



FT8 camp will have separate VDA antennas right on the beach. The top camp will have at least two RR-33, verticals for 80 & 160, 4SQ for 40m and 30m. I hope that we will have the strength to do it all in one day.



8) equipment, how much power?



Hopefully, each radio will utilize full 1KW power (our amplifiers and generators are capable to provide that). But lately, I hear a lot of complaints regarding the reliability of solid-state amps. I hope that our Expert 1.3 FA's will survive the tropical heat.



9) Looking in the past and for my personal experience, maybe 4 operators in the team is too little. For operation from a Most wanted as Cocos Island of course...


One man can do a lot. Four good men can do four times more. We have a great Team, including Jorge TI2JV, Mats RM2D, and Andy UA3AB. Having a four-man Team on the remote island is better than not having a team at all.



10) What's your advice and recommendations to all DXers, especially Italian operators to work with you?


Stop using the "last two letters" in the pileup. Give only full calls. Sometimes because of the QSB, I have only two seconds to get your call. There is no use of the two letters you repeated fifteen times, as I still don't have your call and will look for another one. When I send two-three letters to the caller, that doesn't mean that he send those two letters. That means that I could've only dug up those few letters from the huge pile of stations. The main idea that everyone else is standing by for at least five seconds to give me a chance to quickly complete that call. I know it's hard, but believe me - there is absolutely no way, I will choose another caller, besides the one I am already copying. This is a matter of principle.

Stop sending your call non-stop in half-duplex mode. I know that many of "newbies" (yes, an "oldies" too) using a remote RX and able to copy/transmit at the same time, but please - it is way too obvious and really pissing a real DXer off...

Stop zero-beating the stations. I usually have a 50-hertz filter and use "shift" to separate the stations and three zero-beat stations making it impossible to copy anything. Most of them have the same signal strength.
And from me personally - rarely I do more than 4 kHz split, usually 2-3 (in CW) going from 3 kHz UP down to 1 kHz UP. Not the opposite.

Most important for SSB - listen. Sometimes I give exact frequency I am listening to.



See you in the TI9A pileups!



Dmitry Zhikharev RA9USU@TI9A
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Old 16-01-20, 10:01   #2
IZ5CML
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Re: TI9A Cocos Island - interview with Dima RA9USU

Grazie Brix... e Dima.

Traduzione in italiano qui.
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Old 16-01-20, 10:39   #3
IK7JWY
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Re: TI9A Cocos Island - interview with Dima RA9USU

Many thanks, Dima and Brix, for the news ! I Hope to work them on 20m CW
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