This trip started for me when Jan, LA5QFA asked me on the N1RZ (now NA1CW) chat page if I wanted to go to JW. At first I thought it was very short notice and I didn't think much more about it until Jan called me on the phone. He is very good at convincing people, and after that, it was settled and I was coming along as well. Our main focus was going to be 50MHz.
Departure was late Sunday evening, January 13th. I flew from Gardermoenup to Tromsø where Jan joined me on the plane; the flight on to Svalbard went very well and we landed early Monday morning. The airport was very small, but we were at 78 degrees north. It was kinda chilly, but I was prepared for that - what can you expect when going to Svalbard in the middle of the winter? Normally people go south to hot places with lots of sun, but as most of you know, radio amateurs are crazy!
We grabbed the bus from the airport and it dropped us a few hundred meters away from the cabin. After struggling with our baggage we were finally able to sit down and relax, it was nice and hot inside. The cabin had electricity, though no running water or toilet.
It wasn't long before the shack was inspected. Jan had been here several times before so he pretty much knew what to expect, but I, on the other hand, didn't have a clue. After a quick check, we found out that the antennas for 160 and 80 meters were not OK.
After we had unpacked the equipment we had brought along, the radios were turned on. Six was dead, but this was to be expected during middle of the night. I started out on 20m, where 9K2GS had a very big signal and he was the first station that made it into my log. The QSOs came quickly and I made about 60 before I went to bed.
The JW4X QSL card. The station is
at the foot of the mountain.
When we got up, we started to rearrange the shack a little bit; we had four HF radios, several amplifiers and lots of other equipment to set up. I started to work some QSOs on 10m SSB and after about half an hour in the pileup IK5YJYcalled to say that he was hearing the JW7SIX beacon.
Six was checked, but the band was still dead at our location so I continued to work 10m for a little while. Then I switched to back to six metres and called CQ on 50145. There was no reply, so I started tuning and heard I6BQI - I called him and he became our first 50MHz QSO. Over the next few hours we logged 24 QSOs, not bad at all although signals were very weak and had lots of QSB. After logging EH7GTF the band was pretty much dead. Some TV transmitters were heard, but no replies to our endless CQs.
Later that day, JW5NM visited us and he drove us to the shop. We bought some food and lots of soda. I continued to work some HF when I got back, I never realized that JW was so wanted on HF - the pileups were very big. I worked 45 states and 460 QSOs on the first day.
The JW4X six metre shack
Next morning I was up pretty early. I worked ZK and KH4 very easily on 20m, it was fun to work into the Pacific with nice signals and I also worked a bunch of JAs. Six metres also opened but only a few stations were worked on F2.
9A7W and 9A1CCY called me, both with a pure auroral tone. We were beaming south, so I have no idea what kind of propagation this was - heavy Doppler that made it sound like aurora? Anyway, when evening came we worked OH, SM and LA on auroral-E, although signals were not too strong here either. On HF I continued to work a big mass of stations from North America.
Jan repaired the antenna for 80m. I climbed the tower to try to turn the four-element yagi for six metres but it was tightened too well. Unfortunately there was no way we could get to the beacon QTH because the roads were closed but the water had no ice so it was not possible to cross that either.
The operating cabin, viewed from up on
After the second day I had worked 848 stations, including several duping stations from USA on 10m SSB.
On Wednesday Jan was up early and he worked some DX on 80m. I was up a little bit later and I worked a few hundred QSOs on 12m CW. Six was not very good this day, only 7 QSOs worked on F2 although we did work UT5JAJ with our yagi beaming to EA. Jan built a seven-element deltaloop beaming at North-America (I did help a little bit, but Jan was the one doing most of the work out in the cold!).
As some of you perhaps noticed, we had no running water so we took a taxi to the hotel for a nice, long shower. They also had a sauna where we spent some time. Afterwards, we went out for dinner and then we walked back to the cabin. It was very cold outside, I think the temperature was around minus 25C. Inside the cabin, ice froze on to Jan's glasses.
I didn't go to bed until very late. I worked KC4AAA on 20m SSB and then went up a few kHz and worked several stations. Last station was logged at 04:24; I was so sleepy that I must have sounded like a drunk. I couldn't speak normally and I almost fell over when I stretched and leaned my head backwards before going to bed.
On Thursday, Jan was once again up early and I think he worked a big JA pileup on10m SSB. I got up several hours later. Six metres opened at 10:20z when UT2IO was worked and a total of 73 QSOs were worked in EU today; the last QSO was with OH8GDY. On HF I focused on 12m and 30m CW where I worked several hundred QSOs.
The seven-element deltaloop had to be taken down because it was blocking the road. The weather was very cold, around minus 30 C, and the wind was blowing which made it feel like minus 50 C so antenna work was not very pleasant at all. We tried to match a two-element yagi for six metres which had been sitting on the roof but the SWR was not very good. The antenna was set up next to the big tower, beaming to the west. Then Jan started building a seven-ele wire yagi for 50MHz pointing west for North-America. He finished it late at night - now we were ready for the big NA opening.
I continued to work QSOs on HF and I went to sleep around 03:00z, I think, don't remember... When will I ever learn?
The next day was not very good for six metre F2 to EU and the only station worked was UT2IO. I tried 40m and 30m CW and on 40m W1-7, JA, ZL and Europe were all worked at the same time. Propagation is really magic up here!
Jan had arranged for us to borrow a car from some people he knew. First we went shopping and then Jan drove to DL3NRV's setup with about 356 four-ele yagis for 50MHz. They were all pointing straight up! DL3NRV is doing some northern lights research with them; we were tempted to bring a few back, but didn't want to risk getting caught :-)
In the picture of his QSL card you can see some of his antennas.
JW/DL3NRV's QSL card, showing (left) his
experimental vertically-directed 50MHz
SM0KAK alerted us 18:50z that K8MFO was hearing JW7SIX/B. Jan got up and ran to the six metre rig, he called one CQ and K8MFO came back 59+20dB - Jan almost fell off his chair. He continued to work some more stations before I took over and worked some stations on CW. A total of 50 W QSOs were made, including W1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9 and 0. I think the longest distance QSOs were with two stations in Texas. The wire yagi Jan had put up (now only four elements because three fell down) sure did its job. I tried to speak with Jan during the opening but I had to give up, he was in his own world! We finally got the opening we had waited all week for.
Later I got onto 80m but I didn't learn this time either, I went to bed 0600z Saturday morning after working too many stations.
The next morning I got up a bit late, but Jan, as always, was up pretty early. The first station on Six was logged at 11:29z and a total of 87 F2 QSOs were made. At times, Jan had a pileup. There was even an OE station calling CQ JW4X, CQ DX on 50145 - Jan called him, the station said he couldn't believe it.
I walked up to the city to buy some stuff to bring home; I bought some postcards and some other souvenirs.
For me, the first HF QSO was made at 14:45z. 50MHz had an auroral-E opening during evening with 12 QSOs and I went to bed somewhere around 0300z. Jan, as always, had gone to sleep a few hours before.
Sunday was our last day. Six metres was dead so I worked HF. We slowly started to pack our things and clean up after ourselves. I had to climb the tower once more to take down an antenna; it was very cold and my eyelashes had frozen to ice by the time I got down again.
Too bad this was our last day. I wouldn't have minded staying longer, but I know that I'm going to return because it was great fun.
The plane left early Monday morning at 0325z. When I got home, cards had already started coming in...
Some memorable moments:
Running a 20m CW pileup for several hours with the attenuator on. I didn't know the rig, so I had no idea.
Running the six metre beacon for about an hour with no antenna connected. Jan had changed the way the antenna were connected and I didn't realise. The rig was OK after this even though it had been running full power. Quality for sure: JRCJST-245.
Learning the hard way that the CW filter in my Kenwood TS-690 was way too wide to run a full pileup on 30m. I had to go QRT to change to another rig. If you've seen the VK0IR video where they turn the dial over the CW pileup, you know what I am talking about. Of course the pileup wasn't so wide, only a few chaotic kHz.
Propagation was great. In almost every pileup from NA, several JAs would call in as well. The bands were open to several continents at the same time.
Working VP8THU very easily on 20m SSB.
The flight home, where we laughed till we cried...
Thanks go to:
JW5NM for the use of the JW5E Club house.
LA5QFA for convincing me to come with him to JW.
OH3NWQ for SMS info and for sending our info out.
PA1SIX for updating us on six metre propagation via SMS.
SM0KAK for updating us on six metre propagation via SMS and alerting us that USA was spotting JW7SIX/b. Without him, we might have missed the opening where we worked 50 Ws
And finally to all that called me. I sure enjoyed the big pileups I had.
Stations worked by JW4X on 50MHz.
18 DXCCs worked (number of QSOs including dupes): 9A(21), CT(2), DL(5),EA(5), F(55), G(1), I(66), K(50), LA(11), LZ(1), OE(11), OH(12), OK(1),S5(19), SM(6), UR(3), YO(1), YU(2)
50 W QSOs W1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 0
UKSMG Six News issue
74, August 2002