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Asian DX League DXpedition 2014 @ Mandarmani

DX Traveler’s Account

The following account is from ADXL’s latest DXpedition to Mandarmani, a coastal town on the  Bay of Bengal coastline some 160 KMs from Kolkata, in West Bengal, India. The dates for the Dxpedition were 17-19 January, 2014.

The Crew –  Swopan Chakraborty (SC), Partha Sarathi Goswami (PSG), Pranab Kumar Roy (PKR), Avijit Mondal (AM) and yours truly Rajdeep Das (RD)

The Travel – We took the early morning train ride from Howrah Jn. to Kanthi (3.5 Hrs) and then a further 1.5 Hrs by a hired 4-wheeler to reach our destination – Samudra Bilas Resort at Mandarmani.

The Gadgets –  AFEDRI SDR + Netbook, ICOM R75 + MFJ  959C Tuner, Tecsun PL 660, Sangean ATS 909X, Sony ICF-SW7600GR, Degen DE 1103, Tecsun PL 310, C.Crane CCRadio-SW and Siemens RK 665.

Day 1 (Jan 17) – Antenna Rigging

Once we unpacked our DX gears the first thing to do was to set up the antennas. We decided to set up 3 long wires – two 90 meter wires one running S by SE targeting Oceania and PNG, the other W by NW targeting Europe & Caribbean and a 60 m wire running S by SW targeting Africa.

 

Once the antennas were up our crew took a quick power nap and started setting up the shack by late afternoon. The DX tour was about to commence and the crew members were sparkling with enthusiasm.

Sound of the Pacific Isles

The first notable success was the log from Solomon Island Broadcasting Corporation from Honiara. SIBC was coming in nicely on PSG’s AFEDRI SDR and reciprocated by SC’s ICOM R75. Next up was a PNG log from New Ireland 3905 kHz. The rest of the crew went busy tracking the same signals but could only manage faint whispers. However, the sheer joy of hearing the pacific nations on our radios was eternal.

African Digest

The African panorama started around 1700 Hrs UTC. Among other stations logged that eventful evening were ZNBC from Zambia, UBC from Uganda, as well as stations from Somaliland, Madagascar, Swaziland, Algeria, South Africa, Rwanda, Egypt, Angola and Ethiopia. Our Africa beverage was really paying off!

Asia and Europe Unbound

Belarus greeted us with lovely pastoral symphony while the Spanish rhapsody transported our senses to the sunny beaches of Ibiza. Our midnight DX trip landed us into the middle of the Romanian hinterland gradually touching the Aegean Isles up to the coast of the Black sea and traveling far north crossing the Urals into the roof top of Asia –the Pamir. We logged all the Central Asian countries that are active on SW. Kyrgyz Radio, Tajik Radio and a handful DX catches from former CIS nations beefed up our tally.

 

The night was young but the tired souls that we were on the 17th, we had to retire to the comfort of our cushions by midnight but with the promise of returning back to our shacks early morning.

Day 2 (Jan 18) – Party Hard…DX Harder

“All work and no play make Jack a dull boy” We followed this word by word. Literally, our DX trip was not just about a group of grumpy people sitting with blank faces robotically copying signals and measuring SIOs. We were a lively bunch all in our mid 20’s to late 30’s bursting with enthusiasm to execute our trip to perfection. You could hear us shouting at the top of our voice with the sheer pleasure of logging a distant DX catch in unison! Yes that was us… the young mariners of the Ether Sea!

Warming Up At the Beach

The crew knew that it was time to plunge into deeper signal crunching and not a single opportunity was to be missed starting that very afternoon. So, we loaded ourselves with some healthy vitamins from the sunshine and packed our lungs with the fresh sea breeze. Most of the morning we strolled on the beach discussing radio and occasional laugh and banter among the crew members added to the jovial atmosphere. When we were thirsty, fresh coconut-water refreshed our souls. The blueprint for the day’s DX was fixed during our beach-stroll and we returned to our shacks early afternoon.

 

Tropical Opening

Among several catches on the 18th, we logged 3 exotic Tropical stations RRI Palankaraya (Kalimantan), RRI Makassar (Sulawesi) and RRI Wamena (Papua). AFN from Diego Garcia in the British Indian Ocean Territory was heard on the SSB band with a booming signal even on portable RXs that our crew members took with them. VL8A Alice Springs from Australia was logged so does Radio New Zealand with their Pacific service signing on. Time signal station RWM from Russia was distinctly heard below the powerhouse BPM and the Middle Eastern souk was unusually verbal that night with logs from Oman, UAE, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain all heard nicely.

On the Tunes of Samba

Yes! The high point of our DXpedition was undoubtedly our farthest log – Radio Nacional de Amazonia transmitting from Brasilia, Brazil, more than halfway across the world from where we were listening! “Thrilling” is a base word as compared to the sheer excitement that we felt on that silent wintry night by the seaside resort. A live sports commentary of an ongoing football match in Portuguese gave us the first glimmer of hope that we have got a prize catch on our DX nets. The ID came and off we went with a roar “Brazil Brazil” stirring the silence of the night on the top of our voice …it was magic!

YouTube Videos >>

1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zotRv7rBCX0

2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNUt2Dtegh8

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Day 3 (Jan 19) – The Last Stand

Before packing up we had just a few hours left to once more explore the airwaves. This time we heard RHC from Habana, Cuba, Caribbean Beacon from Anguilla, Ascension, Sao Tome, as well as some Japanese and Korean clandestine stations. As the first ray of the sun hit the rooftops of Samudra Bilas Resort, our DX haven for the last 2 days, we set out to roll up the long wires and pack in our gadgets and got ready to set out on our homeward trip.

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High Points:

  • The ADXL DX Crew logged a whopping 60+ countries in 48 hours
  • The ADXL DXpedition was cheered up by some noted HAMs in their QSO’s (I should mention here that among our 5 member crew SC & AM are HAM license holders)
  • Insulated copper wire antennas work as better conductors than non-insulated (naked) long wire beverages as considered by some old school DX puritans. Our success proved that proper planning and true knowledge about propagation is essential in order to achieve high DX success in today’s overcrowded ether spectrum.
  • Rebirth of a DXer! The ADXL DXpedition saw the rebirth of a once-regular DX enthusiast Pranab Kumar Roy (PKR). After nearly a gap of a decade he returned to DXing recently and took active part in our DXpedition. At one time he used to publish “Ether Barta” the only DX magazine from West Bengal in Bengali and English at that time which groomed many DX enthusiasts (including yours truly) but had to stop publishing due to lack of funds and contributions. ADXL wishes PKR a heartfelt congrats for his return to world of DXing.

To Sum Up

Nothing in this world is permanent. So does happy times spent with DX buddies away from all our mundane existence. Just eating, sleeping and DXing…it was bliss! But each day ends with the promise of a new sunshine, and that’s where we stand now. ADXL DXpedition 2014 has ended with the promise that the 2015 edition will be bigger, better and even more enthralling than what we achieved this year. 73’s

Rajdeep Das  | Google+  | Facebook

Jan 26, 2014