Jan Mayen on 50MHzClick here to go back to the home page
by Frank E. Dijk, PA3BFM

Did you work JX7DFA in 1994? If you did you are lucky, because Per mostly concentrated on 144 MHz EME and meteor scatter. He wasn’t active on 50 MHz a lot, he just had a handful of openings into western and central Europe. With 10 Watts and a delta loop antenna he was barely readable.

JX7DFA's location - Jan Mayen IslandJX7DFA's location - Jan Mayen Island

At the end of 1995, Per, LA7DFA/JX7DFA announced another tour of duty, this time from April through October 1996. Per expected to be using a dipole and an FT767, 10 Watts output on 50 MHz. This meant he didn’t plan to be very active on Six. Remembering the tragedy that late summer evening in 1994, when I simply could not receive him, I decided I was going to do something about it.

Two things needed to be done. To make operating on 50 MHz more effective, JX7DFA’s 50 MHz capability had to be improved from 10 Watts ERP to 100 Watts ERP or so. More important, however, was to make Per like 50 MHz! You will not succeed in stimulating somebody to be more active on a particular band by just shipping equipment.

To cut a long story short, I showed Per what a nice and intriguing band 50 MHz is. I also sent him a cassette recording with samples of different propagation types and exciting openings. After having listened to that, he wrote to me: "seems like 50 MHz is going to be one of my favourite bands at JX".

In April I mailed a five element Tonna beam to Jan Mayen, packed in a thick wall carton tube. Every month or so, mail and supplies are transported to the island by Hercules C-130. When the antenna arrived, Per had already set up his most of his station. This Tonna is by no means the best possible antenna but it happened to be available and was not expensive. It can be put together quite easily and requires little or no SWR adjustment. Thanks to the UK Six Metre Group for providing the funding for this project.

After the antenna had been installed on a short mast, Per became quite active. The first opening occurred on May 14th and many more were to follow. Most openings were of the ‘late night’ variety, but not all.

A substantial opening on August 11th took place at around noon. Have we always overlooked these daytime openings, or was this an exception? The band was already open on Jan Mayen when JX7DFA switched on. Between 1045 and 1314 UTC, 136 QSOs were made, including: DL (15), EH (1), EI (1), F (3), G (62), GI (2), GJ (1), GM (13), GW (8), HB9 (5), I (9), ON (7), PA (6) and SM (3). JX7DFA’s professional operating style definitely contributed to these results. Quite nice distances were covered also, for instance, it is 3700km between JX7DFA (IQ50OV) and EH7AJ (IM87)!

This experience, and the reception of the JW beacon during the late morning hours, show that daytime openings into the Polar areas occur more often than traditionally thought and can be of good quality. Probably increased meteorite activity at the time improved the quality of the August 11th sporadic-E opening.

Aren’t you wondering what Jan Mayen island looks like and what on earth people are doing there? I was. At the public library I found out that Jan Mayen has quite its own place in history. Take a look at what the Encyclopaedia Britannica has to say: (summary):

"Jan Mayen lies 500 km East of Greenland. It is approximately 35 miles long and nine miles across at its widest point, with an area of 144 sq. miles (373 sq km). It is the peak of a submarine volcanic ridge, and Beerenberg volcano (2277 m), the last major eruption of which was in 1732, forms the north eastern region of the island. The southern region is low and hilly. There are no harbours. The island is bleak and desolate, and its climate is foggy and stormy, with temperatures ranging from -32 Celsius in December to +10 Celsius in July.

"In 1614 a Dutch sea captain, Jan May, claimed territorial rights to the island for his company and Holland. It was initially used as a whaling base, but by 1642 the whales had been exterminated from the surrounding waters.

"A Norwegian meteorological observatory and a radio station were built in 1921, and on May 8th 1929, Norway annexed Jan Mayen. During WW2, the US armed forces maintained a weather station there. In 1958-59 an airstrip and a radio and navigation station were erected on the island by the NATO allies. Apart from the station personnel, the island is uninhabited".

In concluding this article I would like to take the opportunity to say: Per, thank you very much for your 50 MHz activity!

Did you work JX7DFA in 1996? Many more will now be able to say: "Yes I did!"

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