After two weeks of trying, I finally managed to work 9G5EME on 2m, via moonbounce (EME)! The contact was completed at 23:00z on 26th April 2013, for an EI-9G first.
I have to admit I hadn’t really tried too hard at the start of Team Athletico’s expedition, presuming that it wouldn’t be possible to work them with my system (see below). However, after I’d heard the first signals I became seriously motivated! I can only use EME at moonrise, because I have no elevation control on the antenna and moonset is always obscured by a very electrically noisy building, but I listened at every opportunity.
My system is very marginal for EME, with an 11el F9FT at only 6m a.g.l., a fixed elevation of 10 degrees, 400W from a Beko HLV600 sspa, and an SSB Electronics SP-2000 masthead preamp. Past experience has shown that the best signals often occur for me when the Moon is at around 3 or 4 degrees elevation, and then again at around 12 or 13 degrees. Due to the local topography, my largest ground gain occurs when the Moon rises over the north-eastern horizon: I thought the early days of the expedition (when the Moon had a high northerly declination) would be my best chance because of this, but it turned out that I effectively had no common window with 9G at that time because trees were attenuating the moonrise path at their end.
So, apart from a few periods of signals from 9G5EME some days earlier, I had no success up until the final day of the expedition. Even on the final day, with the Moon passing through my first antenna null at 5 degrees elevation, there was nothing other than fleeting (and then lost!) signals both ways. Tom, EI4DQ, was also QRV, and had exactly the same experience. Stress!
I knew that I had one, final, chance. As the Moon starting rising up towards my second antenna peak, there it was – a trace! And then a decode!
225000 1 -26 2.4 57 3 * CQ 9G5EME IJ95 0 10
Ok, quick, get into gear and start calling them. Next period:
225200 0 -26 2.6 54 4
No decode, damn! Still seeing a good sync at -26, keep going… Next period:
225400 1 -27 2.5 54 3 #
Gah! Still no decode, sync is ok but getting weaker, could be disaster… Next period:
225600 1 -26 2.6 54 3 # EI3KD 9G5EME IJ95 OOO 0 7
Yes, a great decode!!! But the QSO is not yet complete: Next, I have to send a R-Report. I start transmitting “RO”. Next period:
225800 0 -27 3.2 51 12
This isn’t easy… again, no decode… come on! Next period:
225800 0 -27 3.2 51 17
It’s not looking good, signals are getting weaker and the QSO is still not complete. But if I look hard enough, I can convince myself that I can see, visually on the trace, what looks like the tones for “RRR”. It’s not decoding but stick at it! Next period:
230000 2 -30 52 3 RRR
There it is! The QSO is complete, although I start transmitting “73” as a formality. On the next period I visually see the tones for 73 coming back on the trace although it doesn’t decode, but it doesn’t matter. Here is one very happy ‘3KD 😀
Many thanks to Team Athletico: Eltje PA3CEE, PE9DX Johan, and PE1L Rene for a fantastic expedition, and for knocking 2 years off my life expectancy…