Last updated: 2016-12-17
Notice: © 2001 to 2016, 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, in full or in part, requires express prior written permission from the compiler.
Chris R. Burger ZS6EZ
0001 South Africa
Look for an email address on the ZS6EZ home page (zs6ez.org.za) or on qrz.com.
The South African DXCC Gallery has traditionally included a short summary of recent action, having an impact on the standings reported in the Gallery. The summary has always been very dependent on the compiler's own activity levels.
The extracts published below were removed from the Gallery to make that document more readable.
Activity for the current year will still be included in the Gallery.
During 2012-03, M-V Island R1M was deleted, causing all current scores to decrease by one. The current number of entities is now 340, and the Honour Roll entry level is 331.
The new Online DXCC system started working in 2012-04. This system is intended to streamline the submission of paper QSL cards for DXCC credit. With the advent of this system, hybrid applications (partially on paper and partially in LotW) will no longer be accepted. Fill in the list on the Web, print it, submit it to the card checker with the cards and wait. The good news is that data-entry errors should be a thing of the past, and the fees have been lowered to reflect the reduced labour required. ARRL also promises quicker turnaround. So far, most applications have taken around a week after the certification arrived at ARRL. At least three South African applicants have had glitches, where certificates that had been applied for were not issued without a bit of extra coaxing. However, the process is certainly cheaper than the old paper-based process. Between this system and LotW credits, DXCC applications are now relatively effortless.
As of 2012-09, the only South African DXCC-HR member who hasn't submitted all his PJ and ST0R cards is Gary Potgieter ZS5NK. Gary submitted an application in June 2012, covering all but two of the newly-created entities.
In July, ZS6P finally obtained a card from PA3CXC/ST0. He'd worked this now-deleted country two decades ago, but never obtained a card. More recently, with a little help from his friends, he managed to coax a card out of the erstwhile manager. Tjerk moved up to 349 countries on Mixed and Phone, breaking the three-way tie at 348 that existed on Mixed.
Many super-rare countries were active in 2012. 7O6T was an unannounced surprise. 6O0CW showed up at the same time. CY9M was active in July. NH8S provided great excitement in September. They paid lots of attention to ZS, and managed to work around 40 stations on 7 bands (3,5 to 25 MHz). ZS4TX and V51B managed six bands each. For ZS6EZ, NH8S was his last country on Phone, allowing him to join the Top of the Honour Roll on that mode for the first time, and to rejoin the group at the top on Mixed. XU1A was workable on most bands, includng 80 m. 7P8D was lead by ZS2DL, making the second-most QSOs of any DXpedition from Zone 38 ever.
For the immediate future, K6VVA claims to have a foot in the door for an all-CW operation in North Korea. In 2013-04, the Intrepid DX Group announced that they are also working actively to get there. It will be interesting to see if anything comes of all the claims, as North Korea remains as beliggerent as ever. Two South Africans now need only this country on CW, much like over 1000 DXers worldwide do!
The peak of the sunspot cycle has been a disappointment. However, some interesting DX comes and goes. Juicy DX in 2013 has included JD1BMH and JD1BLY, 5X8C, 9U4U, 3D2RO, XT2TT, TX5K from Clipperton (the latter causing excitement in ZS on the low bands), 9M4SLL in the Spratlies, H44G and H40T, 5W0M and VK9LT. ZK3N was on the air, but was very difficult to work with slow rates and extremely wide pileups (> 50 kHz in some cases!). Several stations continue to be active from Afghanistan, signing T6 callsigns.
In 2013-04, Hal Lund ZS6WB finally applied for all the DXCC certificates he was entitled to. He obtained CW, Digital, 10 MHz, 14 MHz, 18 MHz and 25 MHz DXCCs, all in one fell swoop. Hal joined the Top Three on 10 and 18 MHz and became only the third South African to pass the 200 mark on 10 MHz.
Also in 2013-04, the ARRL announced that a workgroup had been established to assess LotW. Your scribe's proposal on making LotW useable for other awards was pooh-poohed, with the remark that the emphasis was now on improving reliability, scaleability and useability. Perhaps one day we'll be able to use LotW for something other than ARRL awards. It really would be nice.
During 2013, Bernie van der Walt ZS4TX finally caught up on long-overdue paperwork and joined the Top of the Honour Roll on Phone. He had already reached the same position on Mixed in 2005. Bernie shares the top spot on Phone with ZS6EZ and ZS6P, just like he does on Mixed. Bernie has also made rapid progress on the WARC bands, moving into second spot on the DXCC Challenge. He has a commanding lead on the low bands, placing him in an excellent position to dominate the all-band scores.
In 2013-10, Dennis Wells ZS1AU submitted his application for credit for Myanmar to reduce his deficit on the Mixed and Phone Honour Rolls to only one (Mellish Reef VK9). Dennis now equals ZS6BBP's score on Mixed, leaving only ZS6LW and ZS6YQ above him on the All-Time list. Dennis remains the highest active operator on this list. Mellish is set to host a large-scale DXpedition early in 2014, making it possible for Dennis to complete a clean sweep.
In 2013-11, VU7AG put the Lakshadweep Islands in a lot of logbooks. They were worked on nine bands and three modes in South Africa. LotW confirmations showed up within weeks of the operation.
In 2013-12, Jan Pienaar ZS6OB submitted his 144 MHz DXCC application. Jan became the first DXCC holder on this band in Africa, and the second in the southern hemisphere (after ZL3TY). Jan has made good use of a relatively modest station and the advantages of WSJT to move past the 100 mark. 144 MHz became the 11th band on which a South African has earned DXCC, leaving only 432 MHz vacant.
FT5ZM amazed everyone by producing lots of action on 1,8 MHz. They made around 3600 QSOs on the band, and were loud for hours every day in South Africa.
2013 was a bumper year for DXCC in South Africa. At year-end, around 60 applications from at least 23 ZS stations had been listed on the ARRL Web site. Major movement took place on the Digital list, where the top stations have all moved substantially and the Top Three's order was reshuffled several times. ZS2EZ is the clear leader, with ZS1LS, ZS2DL and ZS6EZ all jockeying for a spot in the Top Three. With the high activity that's evident on the Digital modes, the number of participants will soon warrant a Top Six, rather than a Top Three, in the DXCC Gallery.
Early 2014 produced some excitement when the sun suddenly picked up pace, resulting in a second peak for Solar Cycle 24. March produced regular openings on 50 MHz. The vigilant were rewarded with a brief opening into China and several openings to the Philippines. TJ3GN was audible every night for several weeks.
FT5ZM showed up for about two weeks, with a large multi-national contingent and big hardware. EY8MM drove a stellar effort on 1,8 MHz, working over 4000 stations on the band. They were loud in South Africa for several hours every night, and could be worked with even non-resonant antennas. The effort resulted in over 170 000 QSOs.
Vladimir Bykov UA4WHX toured South America, starting early in the year. Destinations included several Chilean islands, followed by HK0 Providencia, HC8 Galapagos, CE0Y Juan Fernandes and ZP9 Paraguay. Vlad continues his quest to put as many countries as possible on the air. At this rate, he should catch DK7PE as the top contender within a year or two. Rudi is now around the 130 mark. True to form, Vlad comes up unannounced and stays for an undetermined period. With his low power and modest antennas, he is normally very weak. However, if you can hear him, you can work him. He normally hears well, and gets you into the log quickly and efficiently.
The equinox season produced lots of action. In the South African context, the two most interesting operations were from Austral and Chatham. Both countries were included in the six that ZS6KR needed on CW, and both are among the ten rarest countries in ZS6EZ's records (with each being confirmed on only two bands thus far). Both locations are propagationally tough, with a difficult trans-polar path. Both teams consisted of five operators and one support staff member. Although the locations are so similar from our point of view, the results could not have been more different.
A British group signing TX6G showed up from Austral Islands, producing consistent signals on the high bands for many hours every day. They were routinely audible on two or three bands simultaneously, and were worked on at least six bands in the first four days. The signals always arrived from the northeast, over a path of almost 25 000 km. They were worked in ZS on all bands from 10 to 28 MHz, and were heard with workable signals on 7 MHz. As could be expected, most of the long-distance stuff happened on CW. Even on RTTY, though, they were workable on 21 MHz for many hours each day. As a bonus, their confirmations quickly showed up on LotW, mostly within 24 hours of the contacts! Many ZS stations made use of the opportunity to instantly bolster their band and mode totals, some by as many as five bands.
First ZL7/OE2SNG and then ZL7AAA showed up from Chatham Island. Despite audible signals for several hours every day, the pileups were impenetrable. For many hours each day, no activity could be detected, either on the air or on the spotting networks. A handful of known contacts with South Africans took place, with many of these via a scheduled DX net. South African DXers who were not part of the scheduled DX net, including both ZS6EZ and ZS6KR, remained empty-handed. However, ZL7AAA met its primary objectives handsomely. If you don't believe me, just punch the operators' callsigns into the log checker.
As the ZL7 operations and TX6G were winding down, VK9MT appeared on the bands. Although not quite as rare as the previous two and not as challenging propagationally, they immediately started providing locals with useful new counters. Most noteworthy was Dennis Wells ZS1AU, who worked them for his very last DXCC country. The paperwork was completed during April, and Dennis became only the fifth ZS ever to reach the Top of the DXCC Honour Roll, both on Mixed and Phone. Dennis joins the group of three operators already occupying the top slot. VK9MT terminated prematurely, due to a threatening tropical storm, leaving low band and RTTY demand largely unfulfilled.
At the end of 2014-02, Johan Sevenster ZS1A submitted his application for 5 Band DXCC. He became the first ZS1 to qualify for this award. After a bit of additional paperwork, Johan also claimed 7BDXCC and a string of new single-band DXCCs, including the first 3,5 MHz DXCC from ZS1.
About a month later, Allan Saul ZS1LS submitted his application for 8BDXCC. He becomes the first ZS1 with 8BDXCC, and the third ZS to pass the 250 mark on the Digital DXCC. He also became the first ZS1 to achieve Challenge-1500. Interestingly, Allan's low-band work was partially completed on digital weak-signal modes, rather than the more traditional CW and SSB. It's not inconceivable that a new trend is emerging. Perhaps it's not a bad thing. Sound cards don't suffer from industrial deafness and tinnitis like old radio hams do!
During 2014-03, Bernie van der Walt ZS4TX became the first South African to reach the DXCC Honour Roll entry level (i.e. needing less than 10 entities) on any single-band DXCC. Bernie received a 340 endorsement for 7 MHz, with only seven current entities outstanding. He also becomes the first South African to reach the 340 level on a single band. The achievement is so much more remarkable as it was not achieved on a "mainstream" band such as 14 or 21 MHz. Bernie made good use of a four element monobander that he had for many years, followed by a three element sharing a boom with his 3,5 MHz Yagi. These days, he is using a simple two element beam to gradually eliminate the last few gaps in his list.
On the subject of single-band scores: The 14 MHz band has traditionally been the primary band for DXers. It is relatively unaffected by the solar cycle and it provides reliable world-wide propagation. Many DXers of days gone by were practically only on this band. Some had big monoband antennas on 14, with much more modest antennas for the other bands. One would therefore almost expect long-time DXers to have huge scores on this band. Indeed, at his death in 2005, Bushy Roode ZS6YQ needed only two of the then 335 countries on the band. Unfortunately, no single-band DXCCs were available at the time, and there was no special recognition for the achievement. Still, the benchmark has been set. As of late 2014, the closest that anyone has come on the single-band DXCCs is five needed (ZS6EZ on 21 MHz).
2014-04 produced lots of action from the South Pacific. A35V and A35X were Scottish DXers, who made lots of contacts and provided quick LotW confirmations. Unfortunately, they were difficult to work from southern Africa, due to unfavourable band choices. No contacts with southern Africa resulted on any of the "fringe" bands. German and Dutch operators showed up from KH8, using their own callsigns (KH8/homecall). Their results showed a similar trend. 3D2SE showed up unannounced, and was workable from here on CW on the high bands, before and after the JIDXC. Only a week later, another German group showed up from Fiji as 3D2RH. Some confusion resulted, as the callsign had previously been used from Rotuma. They were very active on 25 MHz, and were worked from here. Towards the end of the month, 50 MHz was very sporadic, but produced some excitement in the form of C3, ZB and A7. An elusive C5 is active on the band, but has not been easy to hear.
2014-05 started off with lacklustre conditions. However, in the second week, the sun showed some signs of life. A good TE opening coupled with some ES in Europe produced an opening into Scandinavia and the British Isles on 50 MHz. Unfortunately, none of the rare DXCC counters in this area seem to have appeared in ZS logs.
Your scribe took a break of several months from DXing, having to focus on other things. However, it was not all a dead loss from a radio point of view. A July trip to act as referee in the World Radiosport Team Championships provided an opportunity to do some flying and to visit Labrador and St Pierre. VO2/ZS6EZ and FP/ZS6EZ were only active for a day, but the trip has left lasting memories. WRTC itself was unforgettable, with virtually all the world's contesting legends in attendance. The following week was the ARRL's 100th birthday bash, with more of ham radio's stalwarts there. The trip also provided an opportunity to acquire some more hardware, that may lead to more DX action in the future.
The equinox season started off with a bang. S01WS became regularly active. Unfortunately, after a spurt of all-band activity, they settled down into a pattern of operating on 5 MHz, and not listening on our channel. ZD9XF and ZD9ZS (Nigel G3TXF on CW and Paul ZS1S on Phone respectively) were very active from Tristan da Cunha. TY1AA was a big Italian multi-operator group from Benin. 50 MHz produced some action, mostly into Europe. ZS4TX/6 became active from the northernmost tip of South Africa, regularly working stuff that even the privileged classes in Polokwane could not hear. He has knocked off contacts with TY, S0, Z8 and a variety of Europeans in quick succession. Bernie is determined to complete his DXCC on the band before the sun enters its next hibernation.
E30FB was Zorro from Eritrea. The purpose of the trip was to open the door to amateur radio and to pave the way for a large DXpedition to follow. Nevertheless, he made around 4500 QSOs, leaving many new DXers happy. OJ0AM was a pair of Old Timers, celebrating 25 years of the OH DX Ring. They provided several locals with a New One on RTTY.
VK9AN from Christmas Island was advertised as a "suitcase expedition", by husband-and-wife team N7QT and AB1UH, but was easily worked on many bands and modes. A dozen DXpeditions popped up in the Pacific. C21CG was LZ1GC, who did a great job on CW with a limited presence on RTTY. T30D was a big German group, very workable considering the path. YJ0X was an Australian group that was very active on RTTY and on the mainstream bands, but eluded us on the fringe bands. ZK3E and ZK3Q were Poles, and not very workable, apparently with modest antennas and low power. VK9DLX was a German group on Lord Howe, with big signals and a presence on all bands. VK9XSP was a Polish group, easily workable from here on all bands. E51NOU was N7OU, on his annual Pacific trip. As always, Bill is very aware of fringe band opportunities to ZS, and has been very workable. He even came up repeatedly on 40 at his sunrise with the specific intention of working ZS. After several days on which the active sun spoiled our chances, his patience was finally rewarded with an opening.
October was a tumultous month on the sun. A series of X-class flares resulted in disturbed propagation conditions. The results were mixed. The numerous DXpeditions experienced great high band conditions with limited low band opportunities. For us, the trans-polar path to VK9DLX was disturbed, providing limited opportunities on the low bands. Combined with the thunderstorm QRN at this end, we didn't stand a chance. They did log a local station on 3,5 MHz, but the fact that Clublog shows the QSO around 13:00 UTC does not seem very kosher...
XX9R appeared in October, with intermittent daily activity. They were difficult to pin down, especially on the fringe bands. At the beginning of November, S01WS continued to be active almost daily, slowly but surely filling the demand.
FT4TA showed up from Tromelin, with lots of activity on all bands. You can hardly miss it from here. Unfortunately, they used up crazy amounts of bandwidth; over 100 kHz on occasion! Their Web site claims that their practice is completely justified, as their pileups are just so much bigger than anyone else's...
Several operators showed up from Mayotte FH on their way to Tromelin, and presumably will on their way back. VK9DLX continued with limited high-band activity, as two operators stayed behind when the main party left. Z21EME appeared from Zimbabwe for a Moonbounce DXpedition, featuring ZS6JON, ZS6NK and two Dutch operators. W1AW/KH8 was extremely active from KH8, but the timing and active sun did not work well for us on the fringe bands.
The ARRL's Centennial QSO Party generated a lot of interest. The Party consists of two activities. Firstly, W1AW showed up from each of the fifty states at least twice, and from most of the US territories. Several locals were chasing W1AW around the bands, attempting to work the callsign from all states. Leading ZS stations, ZS1XG and ZS6WB, have each made over 500 contacts with W1AW and worked W1AW in all fifty states!
Secondly, there is a points structure for working ARRL members and officials. A member is worth one point; a Life Member is worth two points; officials are worth more, depending on their seniority. The President is worth a whopping 300 points. Several "Red Badges on the Air" events have been held. Scores are added up automatically based on LotW submissions. Pending final results, suffice to say that several ZS stations have made over 1000 valid contacts each. ZR9C leads the pack. He is ranked around 120th world wide, with about 6500 valid contacts and 50 000 points. Also, many South Africans have points value because of their association with ARRL. ZS1A, ZS1AU, ZS2DL, ZS2I, ZS5LH, ZS6KR, ZS6RJ, ZS6WB, ZS6ZA and others are worth one point each; ZS6EZ and ZS6P are worth five each, due to their status as Volunteer Examiner and DXCC Card Checker respectively.
The CQWW Contests produced a flurry of activity, not only in the contest, but also before and after. Especially for the CW contest, there was a two-week period in which more than a dozen Caribbean countries could be heard on the air simultaneously. The contest itself produced spectacular propagation. At one point, I could hear ZS4TX on 21 MHz from the northwest and from the southeast. The delay between the two signals indicated that short path backscatter and long path were both active, with signals of around S7 on my little two element Yagi. Unfortunately, Bernie's single-band effort became a victim of load shedding with subsequent equipment failure, and he withdrew from the race halfway through with 2200 QSOs and around 150 multipliers in the log. ZS1EL was very active on 28 MHz. ZS2DL and ZS6EZ patrolled the low bands. Others known to have been active include ZR6NX, ZR9C, ZS2I, ZS2NF and ZS6A. During the contest, both ZS6OB and ZS6WAB were spotted on 144 MHz in Europe, by EME. Choice DX included 7O2A, who showed up with little prior announcement and was workable on most bands; CN2AA, a Russian Multi-Multi that made 23 000 QSOs and were workable on all six bands; VO2CQ from the VO2WL station and VE2IM also from Zone 2; 3B8MU, 8Q7DV and TC0A were easily worked on the low bands. In Zone 38, V55V (a German group) and A25DX (ZS6RJ and co.) were active with multi-operator efforts.
Late November saw VU4CB and VU4KV on the air. The team was the same that had activated VU7AG with success during 2013. VU4CB was a team of two from Nicobar Island, with VU4KV following with a much larger team from Andaman a week later. They were easily worked on RTTY on several bands, but very hard to work on the fringe bands. No contacts were reported from Zone 38 on 80 and 160. Although they made over 4000 QSOs on 25 MHz, they were not easy to work on that band from here.
The Sun produced lots of action during November, with unsettled conditions during most of the month. Interestingly, there was little correlation between the sunspot number and the flux, with wild gyrations in each parameter on occasion without a corresponding change in the other.
December was exciting mostly because of the culmination of the ARRL Centennial QSO Party. W1AW/3 in Pennsylvania and W1AW/0 in Iowa were very busy, shutting down on 30 December and leaving the bands dead quiet. The final day of the year was a Red Badges on the Air event, with ARRL officials in great abundance. Pileups were hard to crack from here, especially on SSB. Final results will not be known until some time in January, when all logs have been uploaded to LotW, but both ZS1XG and ZS6WB exceeded 600 contacts with W1AW Portables. Several ZS stations looked set to achieve the highest award level of 15 000 points in the QSO Party. At this point, ZR9C (a.k.a. ZS6WN) led the pack by a comfortable margin.
The W1AW Portable operations operated from all states and most US territories, resulting in over 3 million QSOs.
1A0C fired up near Christmas for almost two weeks. There was continuous activity with two or three transmitters, but they were not easy to work here. Mostly, they were working loud short-skip signals, or concentrating on Japan or North America.
V5/DL3DXX was active from the V51W antenna farm. His intention was to concentrate on Top Band, but ongoing poor conditions resulted in limited success. He was very active on the other bands, though, only on CW.
In retrospect, 2014 was the great year for Digital modes. Firstly, the top scores jumped significantly. The top score went from 248 to 284 in only one year. Last year's top score would barely make number 6 on this year's list. Also, a significant amount of activity has erupted on the low bands, facilitating QSOs that would not have been possible on CW or SSB. A sound card is much cheaper than a decent low band antenna, and it doesn't incur industrial deafness or tinnitis! ZS6OB obtained a DXCC on 144 MHz towards the end of 2013, and several ZS stations have been regularly heard abroad off the moon. Examples include ZS1LS, ZS2BK, ZS6JON, ZS6OB and ZS6WAB. Also, ZS1NAZ, ZS6BFD and ZS6TW showed up occasionally. Last but not least, several individuals with no (or almost no) knowledge of Morse code have appeared on the CW DXCC list. Those of us of a traditional bent cringe at the thought, but that's definitely the way the world is going!
2015 promises great excitement, with several of the world's most wanted DXCC entities expected to appear on the air. Expected in January and February are E3 Eritrea, EP Iran, KP1 Navassa and TI9 Cocos Island. Later in the year, activity is expected from 3Y Bouvet, 4U1UN at the UN Headquarters, VK0 Heard, VP8 South Georgia and VP8 South Sandwich. ZS1A and ZS2DL may well enter the DXCC Honour Roll in 2015, with both needing less than 15 entities confirmed.
What are the Most Wanted DXCC entities from South Africa? Because of the relatively small number of DXers in South Africa, a survey with statistically significant outcomes is not easy. I have therefore been thinking about a way of analysing available information in a way that would produce meaningful results. Perhaps the answer is in looking at each DXer's single-band and single-mode scores, thereby producing a much larger sample base. As a start, let me offer my own "Most Wanted" list:
1 Mode, 1 Band: P5 North Korea 2 Modes, 1 Band: FT Glorioso; 3Y Peter I; VP6 Ducie 2 Modes, 2 Bands: BS7 Scarborough Reef; JD1 Minami Torishima; KH1 Baker/Howland; KH4 Midway; ZL7 Chatham 2 Modes, 3 Bands: E6 Niue; KH5 Palmyra; KP5 Desecheo; VK0 Maquarie; YV0 Aves 2 Modes, 4 Bands: 3D2 Conway; A3 Tonga; CE0X San Felix; EP Iran; KP1 Navassa; SV/A Mount Athos; T31 Central Kiribati; TI9 Cocos
Prospects for whittling down this list of 22 are bleak. Operations from EP, KP1 and TI9 have been announced for 2015. JD1 and SV/A are sporadically active but very elusive. A3, E6 and ZL7 can be expected to appear intermittently. The other 14 have been inactive for years, and can be expected to come up seldom if at all. However, hope and longevity are essential ingredients of a monumental DXCC score!
ClubLog has emerged as a powerful tool to assess DXpedition performance. It has also proven to be a very useful aid to DXpeditions. The operators can now upload their logs routinely, facilitating log checking in almost real time. The positive effects are numerous. DXers can keep track of their DX scores with practically no effort, and can order QSL cards painlessly on the Web. DXpeditions can use the OQRS function for direct and bureau cards and receive payments for postage costs without having to build the infrastructure themselves. However, there have also been negative effects.
The biggest single negative effect has been the Leaderboards feature, which shows the leading stations (in terms of number of QSOs with the DXpedition). Unfortunately, the effect has been to allow close-in stations and big guns to make dozens of meaningless contacts, while denying distant and weak stations the opportunity to make even one solitary contact. In the past, pileups would dry up after a week or two of a big DXpedition. These days, pileups remain furious right to the end, making it impossible to crack them from the other end of the world. ZS stations are often victims, as the pileups remain impenetrable right to the end of some Pacific DXpeditions.
As a result, many major DXpeditions now no longer use the Leaderboards feature, hoping to discourage meaningless multiple QSOs.
The only situation where the Leaderboard doesn't do any harm is on really large Mega-Expeditions, where they actually run out of callers in the last few days after hundreds of thousands of contacts.
The Leaderboards can also be viewed for a specific DXCC country, a specific CQ zone, a continent or a radio club. Many local DXers watch the Zone 38 leaderboards in an attempt to see which bands and modes have been workable for a specific DXpedition. Very often, the leading DXers need perhaps one or two bands and perhaps a Digital contact. The Big Guns often make only those contacts, with perhaps another insurance contact or two on critical bands or modes. Others do not show the same restraint. Making dozens of contacts with a DXpedition in the early days does not show prowess. Instead, it is evidence of compulsive behaviour and it robs others of an all-time new counter.
The table below shows the recent DXpeditions with logs on ClubLog as seen from southern Africa. For stations using the Leaderboard, a lot of statistics can readily be seen. For others, some detective work is required. As a result, some of the entries have had to be guessed or inferred. The table gives a good indication of how workable the station was from here. For a close-in station, we would expect an M+B score of 3+9 or so. For distant stations (e.g. the Pacific), 3+6 is probably good going. Something like 2+4 shows pretty poor performance from an all-band and all-mode perspective, even at the other end of the world.
Key: Callsign; Month most active; Modes+Bands worked from Zone 38; Zone 38 Stations worked; Zone 38 QSOs; Total QSOs in thousands; number of operators; LotW posting; "+" means the operation is still in progress, and the numbers could still increase.
Call Active M+B 38Stns 38QSOs kQSOs Ops LotW Remarks FT5ZM 2014-02 3+9 >100 >560 170 >20 2014-10 International team TX6G 2014-03 3+7 17 49 77 5 During op. British team ZL7AAA 2014-03 2+5 >12 28 22 5 No South African/Canadian/New Zealand team 3C0BYP 2014-04 3+6 32 49 13 1 2014-12 EA5BYP A35V 2014-04 3+2 3 4 12 1 2014-05 GM3WOJ A35X 2014-04 2+2 3 4 17 1 2014-05 GM4YXI OJ0AM 2014-09 2+4 >14 22 12 2 2014-10 OH2BH, OH2MM E30FB 2014-09 2+3 >6 10 4 1 Yes JH1AJT VK9AN 2014-09 3+8 >9 39 13 2 2014-10 N7QT and AB1UH T30D 2014-10 3+8 35 105 68 12 Later German team C21GC 2014-10 3+7 >11 51 23 1 2014-11 LZ1GC YJ0X 2014-10 3+3 >7 16 16 4 2014-10 3xZL, 1xG VK9DLX 2014-10 3+8 24 59 112 16 2014-10 Germans VK9XSP 2014-10 3+9 >24 135 52 8 2014-10 Poles XX9R 2014-10 3+6 23 31 7 4 Later Spaniards FT4TA 2014-11 3+10 >71 327 71 7 During op. French J6/DL7VOG 2014-11 2+6 10 17 18 1 Later Germans VU4CB 2014-11 2+4 >18 39 9 2 Later Indians VU4KV 2014-11 3+7 >9 36 45 9 Later Indians
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Early 2015 demonstrated that the peak of Solar Cycle 24 is truly behind us. Weak solar flux with limited high band propagation was the order order of the day. Nevertheless, in February the first signs of 50 MHz trans-equatorial propagation started showing.
EP6T was a Belgian group in Iran. Although Iran is regularly active, locals favour the easy bands and SSB, and demand huge amounts for return postage. EP6T was therefore eagerly awaited. They gave good account of themselves on the high bands. However, their low-band operations were marred by very high local noise levels, including air conditioners and battery chargers in a motorcycle rental shop! As a result, they were not easy to work below 14 MHz. Your scribe suffered the frustration of missing them on 7 and 10 MHz, despite considerable trying.
1A0C showed up briefly in January. HV0A was operated by 9A3A in the CQWW 160 m contest, with some welcome WARC band activity the day before. XW4ZW was K4ZW with another stalwart low-band operation. Unfortunately, he did not make it down here through the summer static. S01WS continues to be active almost daily, on a variety of bands and modes. ZL7/F8FUA showed up in a low-key single-operator operation from Chatham. He was workable from here on the middle bands, despite using simple verticals and a barefoot radio.
K1N showed up from Navassa Island in February. Depending on whom you asked, Navassa was the most wanted or second most wanted DXCC entity. Pileups were fierce, with a generous dose of deliberate QRM thrown in. They stuck to their guns and produced close to 140 000 QSOs, with a reasonable geographic spread. Several local DXers got a brand-new counter, and most of us got at least an assortment of new slots. Unfortunately, they were not easy to work from here, especially on the lower bands. Your scribe repeated the frustration of missing them on 7 and 10 MHz. Ironically, as mega DXpeditions increasingly use directional antennas on the low bands, they are becoming harder to work if you are outside their beams. A request through their pilot network to listen for Zone 38 on the low bands for a few minutes was dismissed on the basis that they had worked many ZS stations on the high bands.
TI9/3Z9DX was a three-man team from this extremely rare DXCC entity. They parked in a ravine on the northern side of the island, effectively blocking all signals in our direction. They were inaudible on most bands, although several locals are known to have made it on 14 MHz SSB, mostly via the long path. ZS4TX managed to work them on 7 and 10 MHz. Once the confirmation shows up, Bernie will be down to only four entities needed on 7 MHz (4U1UN, JD1-MT, P5 and SV/A).
EA9/DL2RNS was very active from Melilla. He was workable from here on the low bands. UA4WHX is back in Africa, starting with an SU9VB operation. More stations showed up from Guantanamo Bay. FP/KV1J was very active, mostly on RTTY. He was workable on the mainstream bands. T88XG and T88XH were active, also making a showing on 3,5 MHz. 50 MHz started showing signs of life again, with TEP openings as far south as Johannesburg.
E30FB appeared in March, with a large multi-national team. They were workable on most bands. 7QAA displayed their weird callsign from Malawi, making a good showing on most bands. They made a special effort on RTTY. Two crews operated in relay fashion, with the first team on CW and the last on SSB. C21EU showed up on the high bands from Nauru, with Dutch and German operators.
During March, ARRL re-calculated all Centennial QSO Party scores and opened for applications. Eight southern African stations reached the entry level of 15 000 points. In order from highest to lowest score, they were ZR9C, ZD9XF, V5/DL3DXX, V55V, ZS4TX, DP1POL, ZS6EZ and ZS2I. ZS1XG and ZS6WB made over 600 contacts with W1AW portable stations, each covering all 50 states. No other ZS broke 100.
The March Equinox produced amazing activity on 50 MHz. ZS4TX/6, with his perch on the Limpopo rivier, continues to make everyone green with envy. Early April produced regular TE openings, sometimes extending into Gauteng. One opening to China and Taiwan resulted, despite mediocre solar conditions. Somehow, great high band conditions don't always seem to need high solar activity.
C21EU was a team of high-energy Dutch and German operators, but not very workable from here. They focused on late-night high band openings to Europe that were not audible here. V6Z is the annual appearance of the two Scots. As always, they were readily workable on a variety of bands and modes, with prompt confirmations on both ClubLog and LotW. PQ0T made a brief appearance from Trinidade. The stay was too short to allow the pileups to subside to the point where they were workable here. 5V7BD and 5V7JH were DJ6SI and DJ8NK, who appeared with one day's notice. One is very active on CW; the other has so far proved elusive on RTTY. VK9AN was N7QT and family from Norfolk, proving relatively workable from here despite simple wire antennas. An Australian group operating as VK9NT proved much harder to work.
ZL7E made up for the recent ghost operations from ZL7. They started immediately with audible signals and high rates, although the pileups were initially impenetrable. After a few days, they took a standby for Africa and were readily workable, even on 28 MHz. They were quickly worked on two modes and five bands. Unfortunately, they stopped listening for Africa after a few attempts, and no further contacts resulted for some days through the huge pileups. On the last day, two ZS1 stations made it on RTTY. LotW confirmations showed up promptly a few weeks later.
In mid-April, Bernie van der Walt ZS4TX obtained his DXCC on 50 MHz. Bernie has been active on the band for more than two decades, but the decisive push came in the past year, after he established a remote station at the northernmost tip of South Africa. He worked 79 countries within a six-month period! Bernie becomes only the fifth South African to achieve DXCC on 50 MHz, and only the second to achieve 10 Band DXCC. His remote station will remain active until the end of May. Bernie has now started working EME to add a few more new countries to his tally.
During May, ZS4TX added another one to his 7 MHz total. This time, it was Mount Athos, in the form of its only inhabitant, Monk Apollo. Once the confirmation shows up, Bernie will only need three countries on the band (4U1UN, JD1M, P5). With JG8NQJ/JD1 showing up occasionally, there is room for even more improvement in the next few months.
Also during May, YL7A announced an operation from Mount Athos, with a multi-operator team and decent antennas. Some Greeks made phone calls to Apollo, and pretty soon it was announced that not only did the Latvians not have operating permission, but that now their entry permits were also being revoked. Some said that they should have known--YLs are not allowed into Mount Athos. Perhaps we should hope for a Slovakian team next time...
PW0F was yet another operation by OH2MM from this location during May, catching the tail-end of the equinox propagation.
After the winter lull, E6GG showed up on the bands, by the same "Six-G" group of TX6G fame. They did not quite live up to the expectations that TX6G raised, working less than a dozen local stations.
During November, ZS4TX added yet another one to his 7 MHz total. The United Nations Headquarters fired up with 4U70UN for a few days, with many operators operating several stations for two eight-hour sessions. Bernie managed to snag them on 7 MHz CW right at the end of their operation. He now needs only two more entities on the band; (JD1M and P5). His score on this low band is the highest of any single band from South Africa--a truly remarkable achievement!
December produced a spate of activity. V5/DL3DXX showed up at V51W's farm for his annual low band stint. PJ6/G3TXF worked the ARRL 10 m contest on CW. P5/3Z9DX showed up from Pyonyang as a precursor to a February operation from the most wanted country. Naysayers immediately started claiming that he wasn't properly licenced. As of March, the follow-up operation hasn't materialised, but a pile of paper has been sent to ARRL and their verdict is awaited. Dom made around 800 contacts, but no-one in southern Africa made it into the log.
Call Active M+B 38Stns 38QSOs kQSOs Ops LotW Remarks EP6T 2015-01 3+8 48 166 68 11 During op. Belgians K1N 2015-02 3+8 >70 152 140 15 2015-02 Americans 7QAA 2015-03 3+9 74 234 67 13 2015-04 ZS6RJ + international team E30FB 2015-03 3+7 >23 92 63 9 Later JH1AJT + international team C21EU 2015-04 2+5 >3 8 25 3 Later DL2AWG DL6JGN PA3EWP V6Z 2015-04 2+8 41 71 23 2 During op. GM3WOJ GM4YXI ZL7E 2015-04 3+5 7 12 28 3 2015-04 ZL1ALZ ZL1BYZ ZL1DK VK9AN 2015-04 3+8 >9 39 13 2 Later N7QT and AB1UH VK9NT to 2015-04 2+3 4 4 10 4 2016-03 Australian group PW0F to 2015-05 2+5 >13 25 20 1 2015-07 OH2MM operation E6GG 2015-09 1+3 11 16 49 7 During op. British group V5/DL3DXX to 2015-12 2+8 8 34 25 1 During op. From V51W station PJ6/G3TXF 2015-12 1+4 14 23 7 1 During op. G3TXF P5/3Z9DX 2015-12 0+0 0 0 1 1 Later Demonstration in Pyonyang
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