Hermann, DL2NUD and René, PE1L have made it to Rwanda and are active on EME as 9X0EME. After moonrise last night I decided to listen/watch on their 2m frequency for a bit of fun and immediately saw about 12 stations calling in the opposite period.
Unfortunately the frequency the 9X0EME team were using, 144.112MHz, has a couple of noisy spurious carriers here within the JT65B passband. I could see the sync tone from them at around -26, but was failing to get decodes because of the QRM. It was obviously time to kick back and watch the action, rather than join the QRO pile…
The expedition’s signal faded after the Moon went above about 6 degrees elevation, as is usual at this QTH. I knew from past experience that signals normally reach a second peak at around 12 degrees elevation and also that, by then, the mutual doppler would bring 9X0EME’s signal to a better frequency relative to my QRM.
I wasn’t disappointed! True enough, from about 11 degrees up the signal started to appear again and when I saw that a previous QSO was coming to an end I started calling. From the previous traces I’d seen from other callers, I reckoned a lot were calling with their TX set more or less exactly on 144.112MHz, so I decided to set my TX with a shift of -300Hz to put my feeble signal in “clear air” 😉
This is the resulting sequence (9X0EME in bold, EI3KD in italics):
234400 1 -31 199 3 RRR
234500 Transmitting: JT65B 9X0EME EI3KD IO51
234600 2 -25 2.5 194 3 #
234800 2 -30 191 4 RRR
235000 1 -26 2.4 188 3 # EI3KD 9X0EME KI58 OOO 1 10
235100 Transmitting: JT65B RO (Shorthand)
235200 0 -27 2.4 188 3
235400 0 -29 2.5 186 2
235600 0 -27 0.9 183 3
235800 3 -29 182 5 RRR
The first two “RRR” received were for the previous contact. Although I was struggling to get decodes through the QRM every period indicates a decent sync detection, as shown by the DT of 2.4 or 2.5 seconds (equating to how long it takes for the signal to get to the Moon and back) and the constant DF of around 188Hz.
There was some confusion at the end because the team were operating a policy of “two periods of report and if no reply move on”, which is very reasonable for a much sought-after expedition during the initial pile-up. At 23:58 a message appeared in the N0UK EME chat asking me to try again later because they hadn’t seen my reply – but at the same time I was receiving a clear “RRR”? It turned out that they’d typed the message and in the time it took to send to the chat had seen my “RO” – they had already started sending “RRR” which I then received straight away! So the QSO was completed by the skin of my teeth, for what is probably an EI-9X first on 2m (completed at 25/06/13 23:59z).
Thanks again to “The Team” for a brave and adventurous expedition – best of luck and safe journey home.