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7O6T глазами K1ZM
Hi Gang

I promised to relate the 7O6T story as I have time to do so and tonight I will begin the process. I'll do it with a series of segments as it would take a very long message to do it in one fell swoop.


I attended VISALIA for the first time at the end of April and, while there, I saw Hrane Milosovic YT1AD, Paul Ewing N6PSE and Dave Collingham K3LP all speak from the dais at the Saturday night banquet. Little did I know at the time that each of them had just been secretly advised hours earlier that final approvals for a gov't approved license for 7O had just been relayed to them from Dima RA9USU.


It seems that a large measure of the credit for securing approvals for this operation goes to RA9USU who travelled to Sanaa several times over the past two years. A new government and some fresh thinking among ministers led to a few cracks in what for a very long time was a shut door. Others like JY1 King Hussein, OH2BH and A61AJ had tried in the past to secure a license and permits to come operate from Yemen and all had been turned down in the past. But this time there was good news!

It was expected that the window of opportunity was likely to be late May or early June - but out of the blue, the word arrived that it was a GO from May 1 to May 15th 2100z to 2100z exactly - and there was damned little time to get ready on such short notice.

A team had been quietly assembled including - 8 Russians, 4 Americans, JT1CO one LZ and one YU - and you should note that I was not on this initial list....


Like everyone else, just prior to 01 May I opened my Daily DX and read the announcement - and almost fell out of my chair. I read over the list of operators and it sure looked like the familiar names that I have often seen going out together to YI9PSE/ST0R and other places recently. One name curiously was MISSING - this crew did not include Krassy Petkov K1LZ.

I let it go initially but a day later I decided to contact Krassy. I called him up and said "Hey buddy - I see all the boys are going over to 7O and this one surely looks like it should have your name all over it - how come you are NOT going?"

I should have kept my mouth shut as I was saddened by the answer I received "Jeff - I was supposed to go on this one to do the lowbands - but my older daughter Zoe just had cancer surgery and I have to stay here in order to be with her. I got the news of this while at JT5DX for WPX SSB and it has occupied all my time ever since then. But how would you like to go in my place if I can arrange it?"

Now - this was quite an offer - and I had already planned to go to K1ZM in Mass in order to work the boys for my own 160M DXCC. In fact I was planning on leaving the next day for the US so I gave it some real consideration. Also, one of the co-leaders was K3LP whom I had accompanied a year earlier to Palawan on the way to DX0DX - Spratly - and since I knew Krassy would start with Dave for approval, it seemed as if I might be granted permission to join the team. I asked my wife and told Krassy to contact K3LP.

That is how it started. David contacted RA3AUU Harry - and three things were in my own personal CRITICAL PATH in order to make this one work:

1) I needed approval from K3LP, RA3AUU and RA9USU

2) They needed to get me a Yemeni VISA (like ASAP)

3) I needed to find a REASONABLE airfare to get there and back - one that was not going to totally break my budget


It was a YES from Harry and David. Harry asked his support team in Sanaa (Karina) to work with me to get the VISA and I had to send over my US passport pages and my license. It turns out the license was not needed - only the passport was really necessary.

Meantime, I asked David to send me his exact itinerary - because I wanted to DUPLICATE it if I could. Since 7O is not necessarily a routine destination for Americans these days, I preferred to travel WITH K3LP - so each of us could enter Yemen together. My wife actually was quite insistent on this aspect for my being allowed to go from HER SIDE!

A few hours on PRICELINE.com allowed me to find what I needed for a great price - but then I needed to figure out how to get from Sanaa to Socotra. I spoke with David and Karina by email and it seems there is something called FELIX Air which does the routing between Sanaa and Socotra - and by a minor miracle there was seating on David's flights in and out of Sanaa to Socotra and return. It was actually starting to come together.

I left on a Friday at 0200 from PEI and stopped on the way at K1LZ in order to see if I could work 7O6T that next evening. Then I spent a night on Cape Cod to prepare.

Initially I wanted to bring a few accessories that might be needed for 160M including:

My ANC4 Noise Canceller
My Paddle
My Bose noise cancelling headphones
A Beverage Xfmr
A beverage termination
A 160M Preamp
Some interconnecting cables
Some coaxial adapters


An email from RA3AUU quicky dashed these ideas as it read "Jeff - don't bring anything related to ham radio - and DO NOT bring your FCC license either. Doing so risks deportation, incarceration or confiscation! Repeat - bring NOTHING except your clothes and when you and K3LP arrive, all you say is that you are on HOLIDAYS and you are staying at the SUMMERLAND HOTEL in Hadibo, Socotra - I cannot emphasize enough the importance of your doing EXACTLY what I say - and nothing else - you got it???"

Meanwhile - Karina had written saying she would have my VISA the next day - and send it to me via email. I would pay for it on arrival in Sanaa and she booked me on the same FELIX air flights as K3LP. I left the next morning heading South stopping in NYC for lunch with my father in law and a short supper with my daughter in Philadelphia. I called Jon AA1K and asked if I could spend a night there - en route to Dulles/DC airport from which K3LP and I would fly out the next evening.

It was good of Jon Zaimes to put me up and I listened to the 7O6T signal at his place that night. Jon hears extremely well from his place - 7O6T was good copy for almost an hour and Jon let me call from there - and after listening to R7LV answer K1Z? for 10 mins and then get confused as to who he had worked - well I wasn't at all sure if I had a qso or not - but there was no time to worry about that until another day. I actually printed out my VISA at Jon's house that night and now I was finally QRV with all the necessary paperwork in order to make the trip - yippee!

I left the next morning for Maryland and VA - and since I had some time on my hands, I looked up W3UR's place on mapquest and dropped in on Bernie who was finalizing his Weekly DX. He was busy but had a few minutes and I told him where I was going and my plans as to what to expect from me on 160M once I got there. I asked him and Jon to keep a lid on my participation because after the DX0DX fiasco, I just wanted a bit less pressure on me - just in case this did not go well.....

I hooked up with K3LP for a dinner meal at Dulles and both of us immediately came to the same conclusion - that 7O6T had one fairly serious design flaw in its configuration. Since 80m and 160M shared the same antenna, it was not possible to do BOTH bands at the same time. Also, there was RX noise at the Summerland Hotel - and there was also station interaction when xmitting on the lowbands - which locked up keyboards at at least two other operating positions when 80M was keying.

OUCH! This is not roger at all......


While we were travelling, the boys on site realized they needed to make some changes and even as we were in the air, the team was moving the 80m/160M vertical from atop the Summerland Hotel to a remote site on the beach - 13km from town on a totally isolated beach - with a fantastic shot to EU/NA and JA - and while primitive at best - it could be managed complete with two 600 foot beverages - one on EU/USA and one aimed at JA. Both looked out over the open ocean and there was NO NOISE out there - in fact the nearest ANYTHING was about 5km from this site.
We were not aware of this move until we landed in DUBAI and checked out our emails.


Contrary to what appeared on ON4KST, there was NO ON LINE INTERNET anywhere at 7O6T's operating positions. Poor service existed only in the lobby of the Summerland Hotel. There was no SKYPE and connections were abysmal at best to say the least.

The CW and SSB operating positions were 600m apart - and could not talk to each other - so when people started asking " Hey what about RTTY or 10M Moonbounce etc etc - these requests could not be accomodated. We could not talk to each other and out at the beach there was NOTHING. No electricity save for one small generator - no food - no real place to sleep - and it was nearly 100 degrees in the day and close to 90F at night. Operation out there was from a small bunker - it did have a roof and open windows - with mattresses on the sand for sleeping. If you did not remember to bring a roll of toilet paper with you out there, well you were SOL (literally) - if you got caught short!

Also while we were enroute, the team put a second 80m vertical atop the Summerland roof - but it too trashed the other positions - so the Dxpedition never could again operate the lowbands from in town in HADIBO - 80m and 160M operations shared the same antenna out at the beach - which meant operation on 80 was at the expense of 160M and vice versa for the remainder of the expedition.


It was Dulles/IAD to Frankfurt - then a short layover in FKFT and on to DUBAI with about a 6 hour layover. Dave and I hung out in a wine cellar, had a meal and checked out EMAILS for news.

We learned that R7LV and UA3AB had had a better night on the lowbands out at the beach and that the new site seemed to work far better than having the antenna at the SUMMERLAND HOTEL.

I am not sure what they were able to do into NA on Topband - what I was aware of FOR SURE were only a handful of QSO's made with W4ZV/K8PO/K4SV/N4IS/K1UO and perhaps one or two more. VY2ZM was in the log but not yet VE1ZZ....


Dave and I arrived in the early AM in Sanaa - our flight out was delayed two hours but we used the time for a guided tour with Karina of the sights of the 2.5 million inhabitant capital city since we had some time to kill. I really liked our driver and I asked him about Al QUAEDA in Yemen. His reply surprised me when he said "WE HATE THOSE GUYS....If I ever ran across one I will kill him!"

So I asked "Okay, I know why we Americans don't like them - why do you hate them?"

Again I was surprised by his logic "He said Jeff - we are a poor country but we are trying to improve. Those guys just want to bring us down. They are not real Islam - and they aren't doing us any good at all!"

I came away with a new perspective - here was a young guy who GETS IT - so there is hope in that part of the world going forward,,,,,


We flew out of Sanaa on an Embraer regional jet making a short stopover in MUKALLA in NE Yemen (near OMAN). From there it was a 90 minute hop to Socotra and from the air one could see it is a LARGE ISLAND - over 100 miles long in fact. Larger than Bahrain A92 even.

Our driver Abdullah met us at the airport with a 7O6T tee shirt on - and it started to rain. On the drive in we saw a lovely rainbow as it was close to sunset. Upon arrival at the SUMMERLAND Hotel, I took off my stinking clothes - had a shave and a shower - and Dave and I looked up RA9USU who was our team leader at supper. Dave and I pleaded with Dima to let me go out to the beach to join RL3FT who was operating out there that night.

Dima was at first reluctant - but in the end said OKAY for ONE NIGHT only as it was not efficient to have two operators out there - since all the bands were open all night long - and they needed one of us in town after that - but for one night only it was okay.


Abdullah's brother took Dima and me out to the beach site and we arrived just as the sun was setting. I got a tour of the antenna, the operating position - walked the beverages and had a short meeting/planning session with Yuri RL3FT who is one of the mainstays at RL3A in Moscow and a WRTC competitor at boot - he is a great operator - and fortunately we knew each other from Moscow 2010.

Yuri was gracious about letting me join him but rejected Dima's request that he go back into the city - he really wanted to stay out there and operate the lowbands (which was understandable) - so my suggestion that we do it together that first night seemed to win the day and that's how it went that first night. So basically we shared operations/split time together and one keyed with the other listening sidecar on a second of phones - I enjoyed pulling familiar calls out of the noise and that seemed to work well - it was a good teamwork approach to getting some NA into the log. There was no second chair - so I sat atop a suitcase with a pillow on it and by morning - my butt and back were pretty sore - but who cares!!

0000Z Arrives - The band was open to EU and near Asia from sunset until NA time - about 2345z it is possible to hear VE1ZZ and sure enough, Jack called in with a rock crushing signal - which sets the stage for the rest of NA to follow - if there is going to be any opening at all.

About 0010z the first American signals appeared and they were BEYOND WEAK. I have all of this on file and even listening again and again to the signals, I can barely detect W3UR/AA1K/W3BGN/AA1V/N1IW and others who made it into the log that first night. Basically, there is VE1ZZ who is consistently 589/599 - and then THERE IS EVERYBODY ELSE!

I think we worked 29 NA stations in all - with the last being K1GUN/W1JR and KV4FZ who I copied at least 10 times that initial night. Most signals were 349 to 449 to 549. - with maybe one or two peaking to 559 for a second or two.


Signals had doppler shift on them, a pulsating kind of fading and as sunrise neared - well it is almost impossible to put into words - you just have to listen to it to appreciate what it was really like.

Signals do NOT weaken and then fade out. They become TRANSPARENT as if a human form were to do a LAP DISSOLVE INTO INVISIBILITY and they start sounding like they are coming from outer space - with all kinds of echo on them to boot.

In the moments before true SR (which I could see out on the ocean as the sun rose between two freighters which was kinda neat), you could hear plenty of 229 CW but to get a callsign out of that noise just was impossible - at least for me. Signals sounded near normal until about 0145z but after that, only a few miracle contacts took place with NA0Y and K0LW (both in Missouri) who were worked right as the sun popped out of the ocean.




Email: K1ZM@aol.com

Категория: Разное | Добавил: us5we (22.05.2012)
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My 2 oldest gaueratdd from 8th and 12th 2 years ago at Summerfield Waldorf School. It was a busy, bittersweet time, endings and new beginnings. Love your ohotos and story!

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