Band Country Listing for Southern Africa:
A Review of the Year 2001

Last updated: 2002-01-29 (Caution: Links not being maintainted!)

Notice: © 1994 to 2002, Chris R. Burger. This document may be reproduced as required for personal use, and may be freely referenced from other Web sites. However, publication elsewhere requires express written permission from the author.

This listing shows the number of current DXCC countries (or "entities") worked on each frequency band by southern African stations. To level the playing field to the greatest extent possible, the listed scores do not include deleted countries. The total number of possible countries for this list is 334.

Apart from single band totals, we also list a five band total and a ten band total. The five band totals are for 28, 21, 14, 7 and 3,5 MHz. These are the bands that are valid for the major five-band awards like 5BWAC, 5BDXCC, 5BWAZ and 5BWAS. From the tables, it's obvious that the level of competition is much higher on these bands than on the remaining five.

The ten band totals also include 50, 25, 18, 10 and 1,8 MHz.

This Survey has been published regularly since 1994. I decided during 2000, after the SARL started restricting access to the List to members only, that it was time to remove the List from their clutches and publish it independently. Through the kindness of Bernie van der Walt ZS4TX and his partner Frank de Beer at CMS in Bloemfontein, the List found a new home. I then started updating the List as regularly as contributions are received, and added a section describing ongoing activity. I intend to keep this pattern going, provided that inputs are received. Apart from a current version that contains freshly-updated lists and a summary of ongoing activity, I will also publish an annual summary. This document is the second such annual summary.

For this summary, the lists have been extended to a Top Ten (rather than a Top Six) in every category, to give an indication of other activity below the Top Six. Unfortunately, the response to my request for information from those who don't quite make the Top Six was disappointing. As it takes a huge amount of time and effort just to nag those already on the list to keep their scores current, I have not individually approached these individuals. The result is that their information is several years old in some cases.

You can also see a current version of the Top Six on this Site. That document also provides links to previous versions, including a summary for 2000 and a comparable survey in Britain.

Chris R. Burger ZS6EZ
Box 4485
0001 South Africa

50 MHz
128 ZS6WB
126 ZS6AXT
105 ZS6EZ
104 ZS6PJS
88 ZS6XL
82 ZS6LW
65 ZS5DJ
21 MHz
309 ZS6EZ
295 ZS6YQ
291 ZS6WB
284 ZS4TX
275 ZS6AOO
271 ZS5LB
265 ZS6KR
258 ZS6P
255 ZS6IR
248 ZS5K
10,1 MHz
230 ZS6EZ
215 ZS5LB
164 ZS6UT
154 3DA0CA
140 ZS6AVM
122 ZS1EL
71 ZS8IR
62 ZS4TX
1,8 MHz
179 ZS5LB
168 ZS4TX
126 ZS6EZ
105 ZS6UT
76 ZS5K
56 V5/W8UVZ
55 ZS2LL
51 3DA0CA
45 ZS6NW
38 ZS8IR
28 MHz
301 ZS6EZ
272 ZS6WB
269 ZS6AOO
268 ZS4TX
268 ZS6P
259 ZS5LB
235 ZS6IR
229 ZS6KR
228 ZS6AQS
219 ZS6NB
18,1 MHz
268 ZS6EZ
263 ZS6AVM
199 ZS6WB
190 ZS5LB
178 ZS6IR
153 3DA0CA
101 ZS6Y
83 ZS8IR
79 ZS4TX
7 MHz
310 ZS4TX
297 ZS6EZ
243 ZS6P
237 ZS5LB
229 ZS6AOO
229 ZS6KR
220 ZS6AJD
208 ZS6B
208 ZS6WB
168 ZS6IR
5 Band
1456 ZS6EZ
1412 ZS4TX
1321 ZS5LB
1185 ZS6WB
1184 ZS6P
1139 ZS6KR
1130 ZS6AOO
1055 ZS6IR
1045 ZS6AJD
858 ZS5K
24,9 MHz
262 ZS6AVM
262 ZS6EZ
184 ZS5LB
180 ZS6WB
161 ZS6IR
124 3DA0CA
78 ZS4TX
66 ZS5K
57 ZS1EL
14 MHz
330 ZS6YQ
316 ZS6EZ
310 ZS6AOO
308 ZS6AJD
300 ZS5LB
291 ZS4TX
287 ZS6P
274 ZS6IR
272 ZS6KR
259 ZS2LL
3,5 MHz
260 ZS4TX
254 ZS5LB
233 ZS6EZ
146 ZS6WB
144 ZS6KR
127 ZS6P
123 ZS6IR
117 3DA0CA
110 ZS2LL
107 ZS1AFZ
10 Band
2446 ZS6EZ
2093 ZS5LB
1848 ZS4TX
1723 ZS6WB
1397 ZS6IR
1277 ZS6AJD
1276 3DA0CA
1190 ZS6P
1139 ZS6KR
1130 ZS6AOO

Movers and shakers

The following individuals have improved their rankings, or entered the tables for the first time:

ZS1EL: 25 MHz (new).
ZS4TX: 28 MHz (+2), 21 MHz (+2).
ZS6AJD: 25 MHz, 10 MHz (+2), 10 Band.
ZS6AQS: 28 MHz.
ZS6AVP: 50 MHz (new).
ZS6BTE: 50 MHz.
ZS6EZ: 50 MHz, 18 MHz.
ZS6KR: 5 Band.
ZS6P: 21 MHz (new).
ZS6UT: 10 MHz.
ZS6WB: 28 MHz, 25 MHz, 18 MHz.

Those marked "new" are new entries to the list, and those marked "+2" moved up by two slots. The others all moved up by a single slot on their respective rankings.

Activity during 2001: The short version

Note: This section is an abbreviated version of the full diary. The original version is available at the end of this document.

January: Mediocre propagation and no large-scale DXpeditions made this a slow month. Oscar 40 awoke from its sleep, and started providing some DXcitement. 3Y0C showed up regularly, but was hard to catch with weak signals, short sessions and chaotic pileups. ZS1FJ, ZS5BBO and another operator showed up from Botswana as A22DX, using SSB on the high bands. Locals showed that the Island Mentality is not the domain of islanders only, by kicking up a fuss about the callsign.

February: YK9A proved relatively hard to work, but did make several ZSs happy with 1,8 and 50 MHz contacts. D68C broke the record for the highest number of QSOs on a DXpedition, with something like 160 000. The ARRL DX Contest's CW leg saw ZS4TX on 7 MHz, and several others played with the excellent propagation to give out some points. JA3AER signed ZS6/GW0RTA from the ZS6Z station, on his way back from the D68C operation.

Andre van Wyk ZS6WPX was very active from Egypt as SU/ZS6WPX, using SSB on the high bands. Many of the Cluster spots had "$$$" in the remarks column, a reference to Andre's insistence on direct QSLs only.

A crew of Czechs at T32RD provided big signals and good ears, putting ZS stations in the log with ease over the trans-polar path. The Yugoslav-led 3D2CI expedition was difficult. They made up for it on their return trip, later in the year. They did, however, provide ZS6YQ with his second-last country, leaving only P5 to go. 3Y0C was regularly working ZS stations at our sunrise, on the low bands. 25 February saw a widespread 50 MHz opening, with UK9AA and two EY8 stations working as far south as Bloemfontein. The ZS2 beacon was spotted in Spain, but no stations were active. ZS1 and ZR1 stations were worked in southern Europe.

March: The ARRL DX Phone Contest attracted operations from C56, 5U and FO, who were worked on exotic bands and modes outside the contest. The contest itself provided fantastic opportunities for running on the high bands, even with a modest station. S79MX was worked on 50 MHz.

Chuck Brady N4BQW, fresh from 3Y0C, showed some slides in Cape Town. He'd made over 20 000 contacts, despite spending much time fixing broken antennas. DK7YY and company showed up from 3G0Y, putting loud signals on all bands. They were worked by several locals on 1,8 MHz.

The SARL VHF Contest during March produced the usual chaotic shambles, with everyone yelling at once on the calling frequencies, and no-one bothering to listen elsewhere. It was interesting to hear ZS4NS calling CQ while ZS6DDX, ZS6MRK and others were fighting for possession of 50,200, quite oblivious of the weak DX signals. The usual few individuals, as always, claimed spectacular totals, but will no doubt, as always, have technical problems that prevent them from submitting logs for objective scrutiny. Seeing is believing!

At the end of the month, the sun became extremely active, raising hopes for a good equinox season on 50 MHz. JA, LU and ZP were heard from Gauteng. A45ZN showed up once, making several ZSs happy.

April: 50 MHz provided excitement in the form of European openings as far south as Cape Town. HZ1MD and A45XR appeared a few times, and ET3VSC could be heard in Gauteng almost every night. A few ZS6 operators continued to display their ignorance of the band plan, by insisting that 50,110 is for SSB only, and jamming CW stations deliberately.

A few strong openings to northern Europe appeared on 50 MHz. No east-west openings resulted. ZS6BTE, ZS6JON and his wife Louisa were heard from Botswana on 50 MHz. ZS6PJS reported receiving his 100th QSL towards 50 MHz DXCC. Only two Africans (ZS6WB and ZS6AXT) had received DXCC at this time.

VK9ML was a scouting party for a large-scale DXpedition, but made several locals happy with 28 MHz contacts.

Tjerk Lammers ZS6P was appointed as DXCC card checker, the culmination of many years of effort. It was hoped that local checking would considerably enhance local participation in the DXCC process.

May: VP8SDX was a Scottish crew from the Falklands. J5X (by DJ6SI) was active on all bands, and was worked on all bands from ZS. A group of FOCers (G3MXJ, G3SXW and G3TXF) signed VK9CXJ, VK9CXW and VK9CXF respectively. As is their habit, they worked mainly CW, and lots of WARC bands. HK3JJH/HK0M produced SSB only. 3D2NV/R on Rotuma was active, as was FO0RTY on RTTY.

ZS6PJS caught Japan for a new one on 50 MHz. ZS6BTE was handing out several locators in northern Namibia. All cards in the outgoing QSL bureau were shipped. 3B6RF was very active on all bands and modes, including Satellite. They had to close down early to avoid a major storm. IV3TDM was 5V7TD, mainly on the WARC bands. Several ZK stations showed up, including DL1EFD as ZK1EFD. A ZL7 was showing up, strictly on weekends.

A draft DXCC membership list for southern Africa appeared, with comments solicited countrywide.

The WPX CW contest showed that Bernie van der Walt ZS4TX was serious about his claims that he was now a contester, rather than a DXer. He was pipped at the post by a South American, but claimed the African record on 28 MHz nevertheless.

June: The SARL announced an extension to the Worked All ZS awards programme, to include endorsements for multiples of 100 callsigns. There is a trophy for the first WAZS-500 claimant.

DJ6SI and friends showed up from Somalia as T5X and T5W. HK5QGX/0M did CW, and HK5MQZ/0M SSB, from Malpelo. They were perched on the volcano rim to improve coverage to the West. VK9NS was worked in ZS on the WARC bands.

July: Strong openings to all of Europe were heard on 50 MHz, even with the flux dormant at 110. ZS6PJS indicated that 2001 had produced noticeably less openings than 2000 thus far. ZS4TX fought a cold to claim third place on CW in the IARU Radiosport Championship.

August: 50 MHz TEP to Europe started appearing. ZS6DX worked several stations that no-one else could hear, again. ZS6WB tried to establish regular Meteor Scatter activity, using K1JT's WSJT software.

September: Better high band conditions provided a shot at H40DX for several ZSs. K3J on Johnson Island was very active, but hard to work from ZS. ZS6MG announced that he was joining the 3D2CI crew to Conway Reef. ZS6P shipped a courier shipment of locally-checked DXCC applications to the USA.

October: DL6DQW produced activity as C91RF, 3DA0RF and C98RF. He provided many local 50 MHz operators with new countries, using WSJT. The DL7DF crew showed up as 3DA0DF and 3DA0FR. They were unable to reproduce their normal spectacular low band success, ending with only one contact on 1,8 MHz despite their quarter wave Titanex vertical. 3D2CI and 3D2CY showed up, and were easy to work in ZS. Vlado was the 7 MHz man, and reported working at least three ZS stations. Logistical problems confined them to barefoot radios. C98DC was a German group, and was worked on 50 MHz by backscatter, and on most HF bands. MU/DJ6OI provided a crack at this semi-rare counter. ZS6RI settled in as ZD9IR, with wire antennas. ZS6P entered DXCC Honour Roll territory by working 3D2CY. PA3GIO showed up as VK9LO, on SSB only. He was very active on the WARC bands. Big DXpeditions were in evidence for the CQWW Phone contest, with interesting pickings before and after the contest on several bands. Only ZD9IR is known to have worked the contest seriously. There were good DX pickings to be had, though: ZK1NKP provided a new one on 28 MHz around midnight over the North Pole. Solar activity soared, resurrecting the solar cycle that had been presumed dead. Rumours started doing the rounds that Ducie Island VP6 would provide a new DXCC counter in November. 50 MHz was spectacular in the Upper Half, but down here there was virtually nothing.

November: FO/HG9B in the Australs proved very workable, placing ZS6WB firmly in DXCC Honour Roll territory. T2T was a Japanese group, while FO/SP9FIH handed out Marquesas. ZL3CW (a.k.a. F2CW) showed up as ZM8CW, but was very elusive. A German group activated HK0GU. P5/4L4FR showed up. He operates 14 and 28 MHz SSB, using mainly list operation. No written licence is in hand. ZS4TX tore up 28 MHz with over 3000 QSOs in the CQ World Wide CW contest, becoming only the second zone 38 station to break a million points, single band on CW. ZD9IR also made a respectable showing.

December: OH3JR showed up at 5W0VK. He was very active, but hard to work from here. Rumours started running that YT1AD had a licence for North Korea, and would show up in the new year. If true, this would be good news, as Hrane is a very good operator and has the wherewithall to make it happen. Other rumours indicated that locals were being trained, and that North Korea was bound to become a routine contest multiplier in 2002. Seeing is believing!

Rating your progress

I've written a short piece, describing how one can assess DX achievement a little more accurately than just comparing the numbers. For example, how much better is 280 than 240? How much effort is required to get onto the DXCC Honour Roll once you've passed the 300 mark? How much effort does it take to catch the remaining 9 countries once you're on the Honour Roll? How does your score on a specific band really stack up? The answers may astound you.

An offshore comparison

In these pages, I've often mentioned that I felt that ZS DXers were under-achieving. To impart a notion of why I feel this way, I've included results from a comparable survey in Britain on this Site. Look at them, and see what you think!

Those callsigns listed in the tables

The tables can be very impersonal. I've therefore written a short profile on each of the operators. The intention is not only to put some "faces" to the callsigns, but also to give the reader an indication of how active each of these operators is. Clearly, while a few are retired and have enough time to play radio, the majority hold down jobs, raise families and generally spend time pursuing other interests. The odd spell of DXing certainly doesn't preclude balance!

Activity during 2001: The original diary

Note: This section is being written as a diary, and updated continuously. The present continuous tense is not a product of poor style as much as as byproduct of the fact that each paragraph was written as a blow-by-blow description of the action! Around May, I started dating each paragraph. Incidentally, if you feel that certain callsigns are over-represented, or that certain bands or modes are under-represented, feel guilty. I publish all the news I receive, and will continue to do so, except perhaps if something blatantly parochial is received.

January: The month has started slowly, with mediocre propagation and no DXpeditions being reported active. All eyes are on Oscar 40. It appears to have awoken from its deep sleep and the team is hopeful that the satellite will produce some fireworks shortly. 3Y0C continues to show up regularly, but he has been hard to catch with weak signals, short sessions and chaotic pileups. ZS1FJ, ZS5BBO and another operator showed up from Botswana as A22DX, using SSB on the high bands. Of course, the fact that Botswana is a landlocked country does not preclude the island mentality, and one of the locals (who is actually an expatriate on a medium-term contract!) kicked up a fuss about the fact that a "resident" callsign was issued to this group. One wonders what skin came off his nose...

February showed lots of promise with the YK9A expedition. However, they proved relatively difficult to work. They were often off their advertised frequencies, and towards the end they were listening for US openings only. Still, they were worked on several bands, including 1,8 MHz, from ZS. The cherry on the cake came on their last day. I had been listening to them on 18 MHz for about an hour, hoping to nail them for a new band country and to tell them that there was propagation on 50 MHz. They were not interested, working only US stations. Suddenly, the operator announced that he was going QRT. I suggested to my neighbour, ZS6WB, that he might try a quick CQ on 50,110. Hal did, and YK9A came back after about five minutes! The operator, N7RO, worked about a dozen locals on SSB and CW. All the "regulars" were there. I would imagine that the YK9A crowd would have been almost as excited as we were, as it turned out that they worked only D68C on 50 MHz apart from that group of South Africans.

The bands are awash with D68C signals at present. With more than two dozen operators and more than three weeks of operation, they should be easy to work on all bands. My first exposure was very positive: I managed to work them on six bands in less than fifteen minutes! Unfortunately, D6 is not all that rare, with several recend DXpeditions having provided the necessary counters to locals. Still, they managed to rack up 50 000 QSOs in the first three days. We're hoping that some 50 MHz QSOs might be feasible, provided that strong TEP starts before they go home. Our best bet is probably backscatter from Europe in the evenings. They've been alerted to look for weak ZS callers in the European pileups.

The ARRL DX Contest's CW leg provided reasonable conditions. I was planning a serious Multi-Two effort as ZS6Z with Bernie van der Walt ZS4TX, but that plan didn't work out. Bernie ended up working only 7 MHz. He had over 500 contacts in the log by sunrise on Saturday, but floundered on Saturday night because of local thunderstorm activity. I followed my pattern of previous years and worked QRP. It's always interesting to watch reactions, as most guys do a double take when they hear the exchange! The going was fairly slow all weekend, and something like four hours of operating produced barely a hundred QSOs in the log. Bands were crowded, and I couldn't find a running frequency all the way up to 28,200! All this changed around 19:30 UTC, though. I staked out 28,0004, and managed to work 91 stations in 40 minutes before the local lightning scared me off the air. What a thrill to run a wall-to-wall pileup with only 5 W of output!

One of the operators from D68C showed up in Pretoria for a day, on his way home. JA3AER used ZS6/GW0RTA for a few hours.

Andre van Wyk ZS6WPX is very active from Egypt as SU/ZS6WPX. As always, the activity is mainly on the high bands, and all on SSB. He has promised 50 MHz activity, but nothing has been heard so far. Many of the Cluster spots include a reference to the fact that direct QSLs only will be honoured, and many of them have "$$$" in the remarks column.

Around mid-February, as D68C winds up, two other large-scale operations are making lots of people happy. The Czech crew at T32RD have provided big signals and good ears, putting ZS stations in the log with ease over the trans-polar path. They are tough on the low bands, with no common darkness at this time of year. The Yugoslav-led 3D2CI expedition, on the other hand, has been rather difficult. However, several ZS stations have made it on 21 MHz SSB. ZS6YQ caught his second last country, leaving only North Korea to go. I caught them for a new one on SSB, leaving four to go on that mode. ZS4TX also added a new one to his 310-odd on CW. Meanwhile, 3Y0C showed up very regularly for the ZS boys on 80 and 160. Some mornings he didn't appear, due to repeated breakages in the antennas. ZS1FRC sat on the Cape Point rocks for a few days, hoping for a 50 MHz opening to Bouvet. No contacts resulted.

A massive 50 MHz opening to west Asia and Europe on 25 February provided some excitement all over South Africa. UK9AA made several people in Gauteng happy, while EY8MM and EY8CQ were loud for over an hour. They were worked as far south as Bloemfontein. The ZS2 beacon was spotted in Spain, but no stations were active. Several ZS1 and ZR1 stations were worked in southern Europe. The Cluster shows propagation to Spain, Malta and Italy.

February concluded with the ARRL DX Contest's CW portion. Although several ZS stations were active, only ZS4TX seemed to be taking it very seriously. He worked around 500 stations on 7 MHz on Saturday morning, but a local thunderstorm put paid to further serious efforts. ZS6EZ took the opportunity to try out some QRP, and worked around 400 stations in four hours of operating.

March started off with a bang, as the Phone portion of the ARRL DX Contest rolled around. C56, 5U and FO stations went out for the contest, in addition to the usual assortment of Caribbean stuff. All of them were heard on exotic bands and modes outside the contest. In the contest itself, only ZS6EZ was heard, again working some 400 stations in four hours of QRP operating. The last hour on 21 MHz was an all-time thrill, producing 185 contacts between 20:30 and 21:30 UTC. At times, a howling pileup of perhaps a dozen stations resulted. Signals were unbelievably loud, despite mediocre solar numbers. Also during March, strong back scatter conditions resulted in several locals working S79MX on 50 MHz. Although S79M was worked in the previous cycle, the Seychelles provided a new country to most of the locals.

Chuck Brady N4BQW returned from his 3Y0C operation during March. He did a public talk at Escom's Oakdale club, during which he showed the pictures he took during his three month stay. Chuck is involved in human factors research for the planned Mars mission, and spent the time on Bouvet to observe interaction between the crew of four in confined quarters in a hostile environment. He spent lots of time on the air, and made over 20 000 contacts. Much of his time was spent repairing storm damage. His Hexbeam started off at 12 m, and ended up at 2 m as the mast was repeatedly shortened by fractures. The show was attended not only by radio amateurs but also by members of the public. There was a fair amount of publicity for ham radio. Let's hope it does some good!

DK7YY and company showed up from 3G0Y, putting loud signals on all bands. They were worked by several locals on 1,8 MHz.

The SARL VHF Contest during March produced the usual chaotic shambles, with everyone yelling at once on the calling frequencies, and no-one bothering to listen elsewhere. It was interesting to hear ZS4NS calling CQ while ZS6DDX, ZS6MRK and others were fighting for possession of 50,200, quite oblivious of the weak DX signals. The usual few individuals, as always, claimed spectacular totals, but will no doubt, as always, have technical problems that prevent them from submitting logs for objective scrutiny. Seeing is believing!

March ended on a high note, as the sun threw a tantrum in the last few days. The flux soared to almost its highest levels this cycle. Timing is impeccable; the solar storm will subside just as we enter the equinox DX season, and most observers are holding their collective breaths to see what east-west propagation will result. Already a JA station has been heard, and faint backscatter could be heard from an LU and a ZP late at night. A sunset opening to A45ZN delighted a few more ZS6 stations with a new country. With several operators crowded close to the entry level on the 50 MHz list, and several new counters likely to be available, we'll probably see the rankings rearranged significantly. Keep watching!

As expected, April started with a resounding bang on 50 MHz as several strong European openings were worked from all over the country. Stations as far south as Cape Town were having a ball. HZ1MD and A45XR appeared to help those that hadn't worked A45ZN, and ET3VSC could be heard in Gauteng almost every night.

50 MHz is getting very crowded in Gauteng. Unfortunately, a few SSB-only brethern have taken it upon themselves to start jamming CW operations. A Pretorian has openly admitted to this practice, stating that CW is "not allowed" on 50,110. Perhaps it would make more sense to actually read the bandplan, rather than to display one's ignorance so publically! Perhaps I should publish the recordings I've made of his public admissions...

Although the expected April east-west openings on 50 MHz have been hampered by severe solar activity, there has been a fair amount of excitement on the north-south path. A particularly violent CME produced a short but spectacular opening to northern Europe. Scandinavia and the British Isles were worked with the loudest signals in recent memory. A few days later, ZS6WPX/SU was worked by ZS6PJS, and briefly heard in Gauteng. Andre reports that he has had to take down his low band antennas, but he is active on all bands from 14 to 50 MHz. He confirms that he will not honour any bureau requests, but rather insists on a US Dollar with every direct request.

As of late April, the equinox season has been a great disappointment for the 50 MHz afficionados. None of the expected east-west propagation materialised, except for some video from Malaysia and environs. ZS6BTE is operating from northern Botswana, and ZS6JON and his wife were also heard in that country. ZS6PJS reported receiving his 100th QSL towards 50 MHz DXCC. Once the paperwork is finalised, Paul could become only the third African to gain DXCC membership on this band.

VK9ML made a brief appearance from this rare counter. They were spotted only on 14, 21, 28 and 50 MHz, but this group was a scouting party for a planned full-blown effort. They were worked on 28 MHz from South Africa, providing several locals with a new band country.

Local checking of DXCC cards is now in full swing. Tjerk Lammers ZS6P, the SARL Awards Manager, has received his credentials and has already commenced card checking. Make prior arrangements with Tjerk, as card checking is a laborious process. Email is probably the easiest way to make those arrangements. Within the next few weeks, I will publish a full set of submission guidelines on this Site.

May started off with a bang, with several large-scale DXpeditions in full swing. A Scottish crew is very active as VP8SDX from the Falklands. They have been elusive in ZS, even though they are working the hordes. Often, we cannot hear their signals as they work Europe over our heads. DJ6SI and friends are active as J5X. They are likewise elusive on the low bands, although they are easy on the higher bands. A handful of ZS stations have managed to attract their attention on 80 m. Three FOCers (G3MXJ, G3SXW and G3TXF) are signing VK9CXJ, VK9CXW and VK9CXF respectively. As is their habit, they are working mainly CW, with lots of activity on the WARC bands. HK3JJH/HK0M remains relatively active on all bands, although the low bands have proved unworkable from here so far. Pedro is on SSB only, leaving quite a few frustrated CW DXers in his wake! Several stations are floating around in the Pacific, with 3D2NV/R on Rotuma being active on all modes and FO0RTY in Polenesia favouring RTTY. It is not known how workable these stations have been in southern Africa.

Early May provided a very brief 50 MHz opening to Japan for ZS6PJS, allowing him to nail down that country for a new one. 50 MHz conditions have been disappointing, with little besides the normal Meditteranean stuff to keep the stalwarts busy. The Top Six on this band shows interesting characteristics: Two stations are vying for the top spot, there is a two-horse race for third, and a dead tie for fifth. Number Seven is very close to the threshold. Obviously, if any of the operators on this list were to miss a major opening to anywhere spectacular, the rankings could very easily be rearranged beyond recognition! ZS6BTE is now active from various squares in northern Namibia. He's probably not too upset by the poor conditions from Gauteng, as he is one of the contenders for the Top Six who might have found himself high and dry if there was a major opening!

05-07: The outgoing QSL bureau is being cleaned out today, and delivered to SARL HQ. All cards have been shipped, regardless of how few there might have been for a specific bureau.

05-07: 3B6RF is now in full swing. The crew is the same one that activated 3B7RF three years ago, and consists mainly of Swiss operators. They are producing a massive quantity of spots, but comments vary. The crew of 18 clearly includes Big Guns and some not-so-big peanut whistles. VP8SDX and J5X continue to be very active, and many problems are being experienced with overlapping pileups. At least the VK9 boys are no longer in the fray.

05-10: VP8SDX has gone home, leaving J5X and 3B6RF to generate pileups on all bands. The DX Summit shows evidence of several occasions where they have even been running the same pileup! The J5X crew is returning to Germany tomorrow. 3B6RF has been worked effortlessly from ZS on almost all bands from 1,8 to 28 MHz, and on satellite. IV3TDM has just fired up as 5V7TD, and has been worked on 18,1 and 24,9 MHz in the first day.

05-11: I've started assembling a list of all known DXCC members in South Africa. If you have a DXCC certificate, please send me the callsign, category (Mixed, CW, Phone, 10 m etc.), date, number and most recent endorsement level. I'll add it to the list.

05-18: The first draft DXCC list has appeared on my Web site. Please check the details listed for you and your friends, and let me know of any outstanding information!

5V7TD has closed down, as has 3B6RF. The latter had to pack up early to avoid an ominous-looking hurricane that approached the islands. Their plans really seemed to have gone awry; they had to hire a ship because their original plans had faltered, and this early departure comes at the end of a long string of mishaps. While they were active, though, they produced much action and were worked from South Africa on at least nine bands and on the satellites.

Several stations have been active in the Pacific. Today, only DL1EFD remains active as ZK1EFD from Rarotonga. The 3D2 and other ZK stations seem to have departed. A ZL7 has been reported, but seems to be active only on weekends. Many South Africans are keeping a beady eye open for him!

05-31: The WPX CW contest produced reasonable high band conditions. Bernie van der Walt ZS4TX finally lived up to his claims that he is now a contester rather than a DXer; he produced around 2400 QSOs on 28 MHz to claim a new African record. Although his score is the highest claimed thus far on the 3830 Reflector, it seems that one or two South Americans may have used their legendary propagation to good effect.

06-03: The SARL has announced an extension to the existing Worked All ZS awards programme. More advanced achievements are now recognised, with the introduction of open-ended endorsements on the basic WAZS in increments of 100. There is also a trophy for the first applicant to win WAZS-500. The highest total at the end of 2001, or the first taker after this date, will win the trophy. Expect some serious QSLing and working of ZS stations to take place in the next few months!

07-02: June is never a great month, and this June was no exception. Propagation was mediocre, with only two openings of note on 50 MHz. Fortunately, those two openings were into central and northern Europe, providing ZS6PJS and ZS6WB with a number of useful new stations. ZS6WB's high antenna (42 m!) really pays dividends, as other Gauteng stations were not able to hear anything. On HF, DJ6SI and friends showed up from Somalia as T5X and T5W, providing a relatively easy shot at this rare country. The low band coverage was not the greatest, but they were worked from ZS6 on most of the high bands. Even RTTY was not too difficult. A hiatus of several years was broken when two HK5QGX/0M showed up from Malpelo on CW. The previous operations by HK3JJH/0M have been on SSB only. HK5MQZ/0M provided some Phone activity. Both operators were perched on the volcano in an attempt to provide better signals. Neither station was very active, and they were never very strong, but they did provide daily activity for several weeks. Several ZS stations made the grade, harvesting a new CW counter in the process. VK9NS has been active on the WARC bands, and has provided a few ZSs with a new one on those bands despite poor propagation and apparent antenna problems.

07-08: The first week in July produced several openings on 50 MHz, with stations all over Europe being heard. The openings appear to be coupled to Es in Europe, with Scandinavia, the British Isles and the Northeast (Poland) all audible. The flux is at its lowest in months, just barely over 110.

07-20: ZS6PJS notes that the number of band openings on 50 MHz reduced from 2000 to 2001. June fell from 13 to 11 openings, with the first ten days of July slipping from 4 to 3. Cycle 22 is definitely on the skids! ZS4TX reports reasonable conditions for the IARU Radiosport Championships. Bernie worked CW only, and despite a bout of the sniffles seems to have eked out a third place so far. Other ZS stations included ZS6DX, ZS6DDX, ZS6WB and ZS6AKV, who made a handful of contacts to hand out his rare R1 multiplier.

08-24: August has started producing TEP into Europe again. There have been rather strong openings from Pietersburg and Gauteng, but nothing spectacular has been heard. ZS6DX amazed friend and foe yet again, by working HA0NAR and a T98 station that no-one else could hear. Rudi's location must be fantastic, especially given that it is on the southern slope of a hill.

ZS6WB has been trying to raise interest in Meteor Scatter work on 50 MHz. Several ZS1 and ZS6 stations have been active, and made regular contacts using WSJT software.

09-11: High band conditions have been improving as equinox approaches. H40DX came and went, giving a few ZSs a crack at this relatively new country. Almost daily openings into Europe are now the order of the day on 50 MHz. Just a few days remain to get DXCC applications to Tjerk Lammers ZS6P. He is sending a courier shipment to the USA shortly.

09-24: K3J on Johnson Island came and went. Although they produced a lot of activity, they were apparently only easy to work from South Africa on the "vanilla" bands (10/15/20). As I was out of town for a few days on business, I had only one crack at them on 17 m SSB. Unfortunately, a control freak was operating, and was absolutely adamant that he would only work Africa at a predetermined time. I tried to convince him that propagation was dying, but he knew better. About four minutes before the assigned time, he faded completely into the noise.

Vlado Karamitrov ZS6MG advises that he is joining the latest 3D2CI operation from Conway Reef. They will be active on all bands and modes, and Vlado will attempt to contact as many ZS stations as possible.

09-27: Vlado is on his way, and has suggested that he will look for ZS around our sunset on 20 m. I don't have a specific time and frequency. Hunt them down and hope that they'll hear us!

10-02: C91RF is DL6DQW, on a short stay in Maputo. Reinhard has been providing amusement to the local VHF guys for some weeks now, having been active as 3DA0RF and C98RF in the past weeks. He is on 50 MHz most mornings, working the ZS boys on WSJT.

The DL7DF crew seems to have opened up from Swaziland on 30 September. They normally have very good low band antennas, and it would be interesting to hear their comments after the operation. Is southern Africa really an LF black hole, or have we been missing something? Spots up to today indicate activity on every band from 3,5 to 50 MHz. Nothing has appeared on 1,8 MHz yet.

3D2AD showed up from Fiji, on the way to Conway. DX Summit spots indicate continuous activity at least from 30 September, and that they are still in Fiji. Presumably, the Conway operation has been delayed. The original schedule showed that they would be active from 1 to 10 October. It is encouraging to see that many spots include comments about their loud signals. All the spots have been on 14, 21 and 28 MHz. Let's hope we can also get in on the action, once they arrive!

10-08: This weekend proved very fruitful for the DXers. 3D2CI is workable on several bands, with concentrated activity. They have been worked at least on 17, 20 and 40 m from this part of the world. C98DC is very active from Mozambique, on all bands. They have even been worked from Gauteng on 50 MHz during late-night backscatter conditions. MU/DJ6OI is active, apparently with multiple operators. They have been worked on the high bands, and on 40. ZD9IR has the amplifier up and running. The Yagi antenna should follow in a week or so, as Chris gets the initial paperwork under control.

10-09: 3D2CY and 3D2CI have been worked locally on the high bands, just after our sunrise. ZS6P caught his tenth last country by working them on 28 MHz at 04:30. Once the paperwork is done, we'll have another brand new DXCC Honour Roll member! The Conway operation has now been worked at least on 7, 14, 18, 21 and 28 MHz from South Africa.

PA3GIO has just opened up as VK9LO. Bert is normally easy to work, and is a reliable QSLer. He generally does SSB on the high bands only.

10-12: The 3DA0DF and 3DA0FR operation is about to pack up and go home. Their Web site contains several complaints about dismal conditions. Just a handful of stations were worked on the low bands.

The Conway Reef operation originally planned to return home on 10-10. They were still active this morning, but spots seem to have ended abruptly around 06:00. They are probably on their way home. They were remarkably easy to work, considering the trans-polar path.

VK9LO shows up on the WARC bands every day, but too late for working South Africans. He's been very active on both 18 and 25 MHz.

10-13: You can check the ZD9IR News Page to see the latest progress on Gough Island. I intend to update that page whenever news breaks, so you might want to check back regularly.

Many big DXpeditions are going out for the CQWW Phone contest at the end of this month, despite the turmoil in the travel industry. The group that I joined two years ago will be active again as IH9P. I'm sure they'd appreciate the multiplier, if not the QSO!

10-19: Last month became one of the best months of Cycle 23, indicating that the cycle may not have rolled over and died as everyone had thought. High band conditions have been good, and if solar activity continues for a few more weeks, the high bands should provide plenty of excitement in the CQWW contests.

The new DXCC country of Ducie Island is likely to appear on the bands in November. It is not clear when the operation will end, but the first day of operation will be 16 November. A VP6 callsign will probably be used. They have announced plans to operate 21 MHz around the clock, and to make regular appearances on 14 and 28 MHz. Some low and WARC band operation and RTTY will appear in the last few days of the operation. This strategy should ensure that everyone has a crack at them on both modes. Presumably, the pileups should subside somewhat after a few days, allowing even the little guys to make it into the log. South Africans should be grateful, as we are not favourably positioned. The signals between us have to traverse the polar regions, and they're likely to be beaming the wrong way. We'll need a clear frequency and a little luck to make it.

The absence of Martti Laine OH2BH from the operators' list has raised some eyebrows. Martti is a long-time close associate of Kan Mizoguchi JA1BK, who is listed as one of the two partners in this operation. Rumours are even doing the rounds that Martti's ongoing footwork in North Korea may finally be yielding results, making him unavailable for the Ducie Island trip. Don't despair; that elusive P5 counter may yet make it into our logs!

The 3DA0DF and 3DA0FR operations closed down last week. I was waiting to meet them at Johannesburg airport, but didn't hear from them. Their Web site (see link above) shows a nice distribution of activity across all bands, but only one solitary QSO on 1,8 MHz. Given their spectacular low-band success in previous locations and their excellent Titanex vertical, this result is interesting. It's probably not a surprise to the locals, though...

10-29: The CQWW proved a mixed experience for locals. My own effort never happened, as I'm still waiting for a rotator from the USA. The existing Orion OR2800P is not big enough to turn the tower. ZS4TX had family commitments, and merely ended up chasing DX. He added a whopping nine band-countries to his tally on Saturday alone! ZS6DX and ZS6P were also heard chasing DX around the bands. Before the contest, I heard a rumour that ZS6EGB would be active in the contest, but I never heard him. Other ZS stations spotted include ZS5NK, ZS2BBG and ZS1JD.

There was a fair assortment of interesting stuff available, including ZK1NCP, whom we worked on 28 MHz over the north pole around midnight. YN2EJ and H6C proved elusive. They were especially interesting to me, as this appeared to be the best opportunity yet to nail down Nicaragua. While many might feel that this country is not especially rare, it was one of only four to have eluded me on SSB! I finally found H6C on 28 MHz, just a few hours before the end of the contest. While YN2EJ (a.k.a. G3UML) was often spotted, and stations working him were often audible, I could never hear even a whisper of signal from him. Could he have been QRP?

50 MHz has been spectacular in the northern hemisphere, with widespread openings between Asia, Europe and the USA. It is not unusual to see stations all over Europe stopping VR, BV, JA. Down here, only the trusty trans-equatorial path produces any action. ZS6WB had a marginal contact with E30GA for a new one. None of the other locals made it.

11-05: The bands have been very busy over the past few days, with several exotic DX stations available for the taking. FO/HG9B has been handing out Austral to all and sundry. ZS6WB worked them for a new one, placing him firmly in DXCC Honor Roll territory. Once Hal has the outstanding cards in hand, he'll need only eight countries. T2T is a Japanese group, and has been fairly easily workable on the high bands. FO/SP9FIH has been very active from Marquesas. ZM8CW was ZL3CW (a.k.a. F2CW), who showed up for a few days. He seems to have stuck only to CW, and only on the high bands. He is not known to have been worked locally. Several of us were disappointed, as ZL8 has not exactly been easy to work in the past. For me personally, ZL8 is one of only three countries unworked on SSB!

Vlado Karamitrov ZS6MG reports that the 3D2CI/3D2CY DXpedition was an adventure second to none. The most interesting news is that the primary generator died on the first day, leaving them with only barefoot radios. Vlado personally worked on 7 MHz, and ended up with 2000 QSOs on CW and 400 on SSB. Three ZS stations made it into his log (ZS4TX, ZS6EZ and ZS6KR). Those of us who know the 7 MHz band must surely agree that running barefoot with a vertical on this band is not the most relaxing of pastimes! Personally I am surprised to hear that they were running barefoot radios, given how easy the expedition was worked from the opposite end of the world. Vlado is preparing a presentation on the outing.

11-15: HK0GU has been quite active from San Andres. Although information is sparse, the crew appears to be German, and favouring CW on the high bands. The big news, though, is that P5/4L4FR has been appearing on the bands. The claim is that he has operating permission, and that he is awaiting written confirmation. He does SSB only. Check 14,205 and 28,575, 14 to 15 and 22 to 23 UTC. And, of course, let me know if you hear him! While we don't know if his licence will materialise, the old motto holds: Work first, worry later!

11-27: The CQ World Wide DX Contest's CW leg was this past weekend. ZS4TX made a serious effort on 28 MHz. Conditions were not as good as last year, but Bernie still came up with over 3000 QSOs, 123 countries and 37 zones for a score of 1,44 M. Bernie is only the second operator in southern Africa to break 2000 QSOs and a million points on a single band on CW. ZD9IR was also active. The 4000 km between us really shows in a contest! Chris had made something like 800 QSOs when I spoke to him late on Saturday.

12-28: December has been relatively uninteresting. Perhaps the one exception has been 5W0VK, who has been very active on all bands. The operator appears to be OH3JR. However, on the few occasions I've heard him, he has been too weak to work through the massive pileups.

Otherwise, the usual assortment of visitors operate from C6, CT3, DU, EA6, EA8, HR and others. P5/4L4FN is out of the country, but lots of spots have appeared for P5/YT1AD. Rumour has it that Hrane has a foot in the door, but he apparently hasn't actually appeared on the air. The spots are jokers who inflict their twisted sense of humour on the unsuspecting masses.

High band conditions continue to be good. I've been testing my radio, repaired after some major lightning damage, and have taken the opportunity to run some stations on 25 MHz. I've been surprised to hear several other ZS stations, including ZS1EL, ZS6AJD and ZS6BAF (at the ZS6BI station).

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