South African DXCC Gallery Notes

Last updated: 2018-04-01

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
Box 4485
0001 South Africa
Look for an email address on the ZS6EZ home page ( or on


The South African DXCC Gallery has traditionally included a short summary of recent action, having an impact on the standings reported in the Gallery. No pretence of completeness is possible; the summary has always been very dependent on the compiler's own activity levels at the time.

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.

Index: Years

  • 2012
  • 2013
  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017


    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 Analysis

    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

    Back to Index


    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.

    ClubLog Analysis

    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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    In January, an American group showed up from ultra-rare Palmyra Island as K5P. They advertised in advance that no follow-up action is likely for at least a decade. At least they managed to put on a good show, pre-emptively satisfying demand for a while. Your scribe was caught napping, as the station needed some repair work to get back on the air after a break of a few months, and once the station was fully operational, they didn't show up with workable signals on RTTY again like they had in the first few days.

    VP8STI showed up from Thule in the South Sandwich group for a very workable operation. They were worked locally on all nine HF bands and three modes. The news media reflected a series of weather-related disasters, including a sudden evacuation, sans equipment. Fortunately, after a day or two at sea, they were able to collect their belongings before proceeding to South Georgia, another Top 20 location. The more benign conditions enabled them to do even better from the new location.

    The spate of rare countries enabled first Johan Sevenster ZS1A and then Donovan van Loggerenberg ZS2DL to submit successful applications for DXCC Honour Roll status. They are the 15th and 16th South Africans to achieve this distinction, and Donovan is the first ZS2. Johan achieved the honour on both Mixed and Phone, while Donovan is still some distance from the entry level on Phone. However, Donovan is getting close on CW, where only three South Africans have made it so far.

    In February, 7P8C showed up from Lesotho. The F6KOP club group produced good action, to the tune of 50 000 contacts, but amazed the DX world by chasing most of their low-band DX on SSB. Nevertheless, they managed to make over 200 contacts on Top Band.

    PJ6A was a multi-operator contest operation from this semi-rare location. South Africans continue to find their way into the log. Hopefully, all the old-time DXers will soon be able to stop fretting about this relatively new DXCC counter. So far, only one DXCC Honour Roll member is known to still lack a confirmed contact with this entity.

    ON6DX showed up as 5V7TH from Togo. He added to his growing totals, working a lot of RTTY in the process. KG4HF was another appearance by W6HGF, likewise emphasising RTTY, accompanied by KG4WV in the person of W4WV, mostly on SSB.

    LY2IJ and UA4CC showed up on southern Africa in March to work the low bands. They were first in MOzambique as C91IJ and C92CC, followed by a stint from Swaziland as 3DA0CC and 3DA0IJ. They managed around 600 contacts from Mozambique and 400 from Swaziland on Top Band. Although Swaziland has seen some action on the band, these results probably represent the best chance that Top Band DXers have ever had to work Mozambique, and quite possibly Zone 37.

    PJ7AA was a multi-operator American contest group in Sint Maarten. They also continue to add contacts tot their log, but with only a dozen southern Africans so far.

    As the callsign suggests, TX7EU was a team of western Europeans putting Marquesas on the air in March, emphasising contacts back home. They produced limited success in these parts, with only nine stations in the log. FW5JJ continues his activity as a resident, having worked South Africans on nine bands so far (from 7 to 144 MHz!). He continues to fill up vacant slots in local wanted lists, slowly but surely.

    S9BK was a Swiss operator who promised activity on 5 MHz, but ended up only being active on the high bands.

    With a decision to implement a world-wide amateur band at 5 MHz, many nations are now allowing their amateurs onto this part of the spectrum. The latest major country to appear was Belgium, with many stations suddenly active in the international allocation (5351,5 to 5366,5 kHz). South African amateurs continue to be hampered by our non-standard allocation (around 5260 kHz), where very few people listen. Nevertheless, the equinox produced contacts with Europe, the Caribbean and even with K5P on Palmyra Island. The band continues to be very frustrating, with high noise levels and low activity, as well as split-frequency operation. Many wonder whether the ARRL will extend its awards programme (particularly DXCC and WAS) onto the band, and if so, whether previous contacts will count.

    Another rare country showed up in March: The VK0EK team came through Cape Town on the way to Heard Island, making ample use of local help under Paul Johnson ZS1S with the logistics. The opportunity was not missed by some of the other locals, who made good use of the chance to soak up some of the limelight. The VK0EK team has a strong Web presence, and thousands of DXers were chomping at the bit even before they landed on the island. No receiver is necessary to work them, as you can see on the Web as soon as your callsign appears in the log. Yawn... Another effect of the realtime online log is that you can see how inaccurate the log is at times--up to 25% of callsigns logged by some operators being broken!

    VK9CK was active from Cocos-Keeling, proving relatively workable from here. The team originates from Norway.

    Kingman Reef KH5K was deleted at the end of March. Several South Africans suddenly found themselves jumping one notch up the DXCC Honor Roll. Several others found themselves suddenly sliding down the Challenge listings.

    Also at the end of March, P5/3Z9DX was approved for DXCC credit. Dom has promised a larger-scale return operation early in 2016. We all wait with bated breath...

    The next big thing was yet another ultra-rare country in this neighbourhood, in the form of FT4JA from Juan de Nova. As VK0EK was about to land on the island, FH/F2DX and FH/F6BEE showed up from Mayotte, from whence the ship is departing. They spent a week warming up the bands, providing some indication of propagation conditions from the DXpedition location.

    With VK0EK and FT4JA both in full swing, the bands were awash with pileups. FT4JA had up to seven stations running simultaneously, often with two on the same band. For some reason, possibly because of the Cape Town departure and the major Web presence, South African amateurs' imagination was captured by VK0EK (or "Vetkoek" as some were prone to call it). They made almost 700 contacts with Zone 38, of which 170 were on 14 MHz alone! FT4JA made almost 400, with 7 MHz producing 93 of those. Both stations were extremely easy to work on the low bands, and not so easy on the high bands. Your scribe worked FT4JA with QRP on 1,8 MHz on the first call, but made a near-ESP contact on 28 MHz literally within hours of the final curtain. Three business trips obstructed the openings on the first days, resulting in much frantic listening later. FT4JA made around 105 000 contacts, with VK0EK around the 75 000 mark. The difference might be partially attributable to Heard Island's high latitude, with a major solar storm wiping out all the bands at times.

    Yet again, we see that longevity is the most important ingredient in DXCC success. Heard Island was unworkable for more than a decade. DXCC Honor Roll member ZS2DL got his first shot at this country with VK0EK, and managed to work them on all three modes and all nine bands. Even modestly-equipped stations could suddenly work them on several bands and modes.

    With a bit of work, southern Africa stations could contact these stations on all three modes and all nine bands (1,8 to 28 MHz). Because neither station used the ClubLog Leaderboards, a definitive list is not available. However, V51B, ZS1LS, ZS2DL, ZS4TX, ZS5J, ZS5TU and ZS6EZ are known to have made it with VK0EK. V51B, ZS1LS and ZS2DL did the same with FJ4JA. ZS1LS gets the Admirable Restraint Award, making exactly nine contacts with FT4JA, with no band duplicates at all!

    An Italian team was active as E44YL and a German team as JW/DL7DF. Your scribe chased both of them on RTTY without success. They seemed to favour lower frequencies than would work for us, working mostly Europe in the process. However, E44YL is known to have been worked in Pretoria.

    EP2A showed up from northern Iran. They have been making over 5000 contacts per day, but pickings have been slim in this part of the world. After seven days of operation, only six locals and 13 contacts are in the log.

    On Mother's Day 8 May, the sun threw a tantrum. The planetary A index peaked over 70! Aurora was visible in both hemispheres. Shortwave communications were completely wiped out.

    9M0Z chose a bad day to start--8 May! Conditions recovered later in the week. 9V1YC and ZS6EZ made almost 11 000 contacts, mostly on CW. There was almost no propagation to the Americas for the first four days. The last three days were better, but success to that part of the world was still fairly limited. 15 locals made are in the log, making 35 contacts on seven bands.

    After the customary winter dearth of interesting DX, CY9C came up in August. They were moderately easy on the mid-bands, but many locals were disappointed on the high and low bands. Or perhaps not quite--we should also mention that they worked nine South Africans on 144 MHz, via the moon!

    In September, VP6J was two Japanese guys working lots of CW from Pitcairn. Many locals were actively chasing them, without success. Only two guys on the West Coast worked them on 7 MHz. VP6AH is a German on a long-term visit who started soon after VP6J. He was very active for several months, with a few isolated contacts in southern Africa.

    The VP6J crowd went on to E51Q and E6AC. Again, they proved elusive, with no QSOs in the log from southern Africa. There was considerable activity from islands around Africa in September. S79KB was a lone German; S9BT and S9WL were a husband-and-wife team from Sao Tome; D66D was a Czech team from the Comores. The latter amazed me by running on SSB for more than 20 minutes without identifying. Apart from obviously being illegal, this practice is also counterproductive, as boorish jammers soon start asking pointed questions on the frequency. As one would expect, all these stations were reasonably easy to work from here.

    S9YY also proved reluctant to identify on occasion. They set a new standard by working South Africa on 11 bands, including more than a dozen stations on 2 m EME!

    VK9NZ is the ZL3X contest group, that also laid on YJ0X some years ago. They have been very active, finishing up with 21 000 contacts. Likewise, H44GC by LZ1GC and DL8JJ produced a lot of activity before moving to H40GC. They returned to H44 after their Temotu sojourn. T31T producing intermittent activity while on a humanitarian trip. They departed early due to an approaching tropical storm. Disturbed ionospheric conditions made all these stations very hard to crack from here.

    3W2R was a Spanish team. They promised all-band activity and started off with a bang, but were not available on the low bands.

    The Phone portion of the CQ World Wide DX Contest coincided with weak ionospheric propagation. The sunspot number hit 0 on Sunday, with the A over 15. Nevertheless, some propagation was to be had on all bands. ZS1TMJ was fairly active on 21 MHz, with ZS1DX, ZS3D, ZS5JY, ZS5SAM, ZS6BYT, ZS6CCY, ZS6EZ, ZS6TVB and ZR6K also putting in sporadic appearances, mostly on the higher bands. ZL7G appeared on the air on Friday, crewed by the famous 6G group, headed by G3TXF. During the contest, they stuck to CW. They were inaudible on the low bands, where several ZS stations were actively chasing them. Solar conditions improved during the last few days of their operation, allowing a handful of southern Africans to slip into the log on two middle bands. Hans Kappetijn ZS6KR made it on the last day, reducing his DXCC Honour Roll deficit to only four entities.

    During November, Lee Hanegraaf ZS5LEE submitted his DXCC application on Mixed and Digital, becoming the first ZS5 with a Digital DXCC.

    A few days later, Bernie van der Walt ZS4TX submitted a DXCC endorsement application, becoming the first ZS to hit 330 on each of three different frequency bands (7, 14 and 21 MHz).

    8Q7SP was a Polish team, with most of the action on CW. They were relatively easy to work from here. VK9NF and VK9NX were a boy-and-girl team. As could be expected from the other end of the world, they worked only a handful of locals. VU7MS showed up briefly with two operators. ZL7/W1XGI was audible, but did not hear any of the locals calling. 5Z4/DL2RMC has opened up from Kenya, where he expects to be for about three years. He has worked many locals in his first month. TL8AO was LA7GIA. XZ1A was Zorro and company. XU7MDC was very workable on the middle bands, with a large group of operators handing out contacts.

    As could be expected, the CW World Wide DX Contest produced numerous expeditions to semi-rare places, especially in the Caribbean. Notable was FJ/KO8SCA, who proved very workable for a single-handed expedition. The solar minimum did not produce great conditions, but reasonable success could be had on all HF bands. ZS1C, ZS1EL, ZS1OIN, ZS2DL, ZS2I, ZS2NF, ZS4TX, ZS6BK, ZS6EZ, ZS6JP, ZS6RI and ZS6WN all showed up to some extent. Almost-locally, ZD8W was W6NV (ex ZS6WW) and friend.

    As 2016 ends, there is little doubt that we are approaching the doldrums between solar cycles 24 and 25. Conditions have been mediocre at best. However, we can look back at a great DX year. Five of the ten Most Wanted entities were on the air, and most of them were eminently workable. A team under ZS1S supported the large-scale VK0EK expedition in Cape Town, from where their ship departed. If 2015 was the year in which Digital DXCC found its feet, surely 2016 must be the year in which EME started appearing on some mainstream expeditions. With WSJT, antenna requirements at both ends have come into reach of mere mortals. Few of us expected that we would ever see a dozen ZS stations in the 144 MHz log of a major DXpedition!

    With the availability of LotW and local card checking, DXCC participation has grown significantly. With a full suite of single-band DXCC certificates now available, more and more South Africans have qualified. During 2016, both 18 and 25 MHz passed the 18 participants required to earn a Top Six in the Rankings table below. Both 7 and 10 MHz look set to follow suit in 2017 or 2018. In the past decade, the number of Digital DXCC certificates in South Africa has grown from two to 19, almost a tenfold increase!

    2017 promises more of the same.Several DXpeditions to rare locations have been announced, with a sprinkling of rumours promising exotic DX like Bouvet, North Korea and Cocos Island ready for the taking. Let's hope that some of these come to fruition. With the solar conditions the way they are and persistent indications that the next few solar cycles may be as weak as or weaker than Cycle 24, we'll need all the excitement we can get!

    Call         Active   M+B   38Stns   38QSOs   kQSOs  Ops LotW         Remarks
    K5P          2016-01  3+6     40      101      75     9   During op.  US group (K9CT et al)
    VP8STI       2016-01  3+8    >82      245      55    14   During op.  Intrepid DX Group
    VP8SGI       2016-02  3+9    >80      302      83    14   During op.  Intrepid DX Group
    7P8C         2016-02  3+9    >35      101      50    13   Later       F6KOP group
    PJ6A      to 2016-02  3+7     36       79      91   >10   2016-03     ARRL DX Contest operation
    5V7TH     to 2016-02  3+7     35       59      24     1   2016-03     ON6DX
    KG4HF     to 2016-02  2+6     12       21      24     1   During op.  W6HGF (mainly RTTY)
    KG4WV     to 2016-02  2+5     25       28      18     1   No          W4WV (mainly SSB)
    C92CC        2016-03  2+5      6       10       5     1   2016-04     UA4CC
    C91IJ        2016-03  2+5      7        7       5     1   2016-04     LY2IJ
    PJ7AA     to 2016-03  2+6     11       12      23   Multi 2016-03     US group
    3DA0CC       2016-03  1+3      5        6       3     1   2016-04     UA4CC
    3DA0IJ       2016-03  1+3      8       10       4     1   2016-04     LY2IJ
    TX7EU        2016-03  3+4      9       15      48     4   2016-04     Western European group (DL GM PA)
    FW5JJ     to 2016-03  3+9     25       37      67     1   Occasional  Resident
    S9BK         2016-03  2+5     26       31       5     1   Later       Swiss operator
    FH/F2DX      2016-03  1+3     >4        6       6     1   Later       En route to FT4JA
    FH/F6BEE     2016-03  2+2      3        4       5     1   2016-04     En route to FT4JA
    VK9CK        2016-03  2+8     34       60      24     4   During op.  Norwegian group
    VK0EK        2016-03  3+9   >170      695      75    14   During op.  KK6EK and international group
    FT4JA        2016-04  3+9    >93      386     106    10   Later       French team
    EP2A         2016-04  3+6     12       25      68     8   Later       Latvian team with Ukrainians and Iranians
    9M0Z         2016-05  2+7     15       35      11     2   Later       9V1YC and ZS6EZ
    E44QX        2016-05  3+7     12       22      18     3   2016-05     DL7JAN, DL5YWM and DF8DX
    CY9C         2016-08  3+7    >21       71      64    11   Later       US team with one Canadian
    VP6J         2016-09  1+1      2        2      14     2   Later       JA2FJP and JF2MBF
    E51Q         2016-09  0+0      0        0      10     2   Later       JA2FJP and JF2MBF
    E6AC         2016-09  0+0      0        0       7     2   Later       JA2FJP and JF2MBF
    VK9NZ        2016-09  1+1      1        1      21     5   2016-10     ZL3X contest group
    E6AC         2016-09  0+0      0        0       7     2   Later       JA2FJP and JF2MBF
    T2J          2016-09  1+1      2        2       5     2   Later       JA2FJP and JF2MBF
    S9BT         2016-09  2+6     18       25       7     1   Later       EA3BT
    S9WL         2016-09  1+5     17       23       6     1   Later       EA3WL
    D66D         2016-09  3+9     70      198      43     6   Later       Czech group
    H44GC        2016-09  2+3      4        5      18     2   2016-11     LZ1GC and DL8JJ
    H40GC        2016-10  1+4      6        8      18     2   2016-11     LZ1GC and DL8JJ
    S79KB        2016-10  3+7    >13       37       9     1   Later       DL2SBY
    S9YY         2016-10  3+11   >25      118      49     8   Later       German group
    ZL7G         2016-10  2+2      8       15      43     7   During op.  English group
    8Q7SP        2016-11  1+7     14       22      21     7   Later       Polish group
    VK9NF        2016-11  2+3     >2        5       3     1   Later       NL8F
    VU7MS        2016-11  2+4     >4       11       3     2   Later       VU2CPL and VU3NXI
    ZL7/W1XGI    2016-11  0+0      0        0       3     1   Later       JA1XGI
    5Z4/DL2RMC   2016-11  3+5     22+      28+      4+    1   Later       DL2RMC (resident until 2019)
    FJ/KO8SCA    2016-11  2+5     >8       13       7     1   2016-11     KO8SCA
    TL8AO        2016-11  2+7    >22       62      14     1   2016-12     LA7GIA
    XZ1A         2016-11  3+5     >8       22      12     4   Later       JH1AJT + 3
    XU7MDC       2016-11  3+6     36       18      35    24   2016-12     Meditteraneo (mostly Italian)

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    2017 started slowly, with no major DXpeditions to speak of. Perhaps the most interesting development was the sudden increase in activity on 5 MHz, as many countries implemented the recommendation to allocate the 5 MHz band to their amateurs. Many European countries came up for the first time, and many dozens of Germans could be heard every day. Four South Africans were regularly active. ZS6EZ and ZS4TX were occasionally working CW, while ZS6WN and ZS2ACP were mostly active on JT65. There was definitely a lot more DX to be had on the digital modes than on CW. South Africans continue to be hampered by our inability to transmit on the new band, with few stations listening in our channel down below.

    February has produced far more action. The first major splash was from ZC4A by 5B4AGN et al. The day of Bob's arrival, the licence had not been issued, so he used ZC4ZM for just over a day. He was working at high rates and was workable on several bands. ZC4A continued for a few more days, mostly on CW. Your scribe was delighted to tick off the last two remaining bands with ZC4 (3,5 and 7 MHz) after unsuccessfully pursuing confirmation of a few old contacts for many years. The instant LotW confirmations didn't hurt, either.

    E51DWC was OK1DWC showing up from South Cook again. He was very active, but was very hard to work in southern Africa. XX9D made a great showing from Macau, using a location on Coloane Island, somewhat outside the densely populated city. They were readily worked by locals on many bands and all modes. VP6EU showed up on cue. Despite the difficult path, they have had some success into southern Africa on several bands. Locals are keenly waiting for them to appear on various bands and modes, especially on RTTY. As of February, the feeding frenzy on 5 MHz has subsided. We're back to calling CQ for long periods with little or no response, and the ZS regulars have mostly dissipated into the woodwork.

    ZS6UT's 5 Band DXCC finally arrived in the mail in February. Ed became only the fourth South African to achieve 9BDXCC, with 1,8 MHz in addition to the usual classic and WARC bands. Also during February, ZS1LS finally applied for all the single-band awards that he was eligible for. He already had 8BDXCC, but the new single-band awards place him in the 5-Band and WARC band Challenge tables. Allan has made amazing progress. From a clean slate in 2010, Allan has soared to the joint first place on Digital modes, second place on the WARC bands and Top Six positions on four bands (18, 21, 25 and 28 MHz)! The most interesting aspect of his progress has been his lavish use of digital weak-signal modes rather than the more traditional CW and SSB. His strategy has certainly stood him in good stead, and may well be the way of the future. A very unusual feature of Allan's DXCC scores is the total absence of any deleted entities. The scores shown in these tables are equal to his current scores in all cases. Old timers appearing in these lists have up to dozens of deleted entitities included in their totals. Allan has added another feather to his cap: He becomes the first South African to break 300 on each of the three modes. Barry Murrell ZS2EZ came very close, previously missing this milestone by only two credits on Phone.

    In March, Bernie van der Walt ZS4TX continued his relentless climb to the top on the 7 MHz band by working JG8NQJ/JD1 for a new one. Once the confirmation arrives, Bernie will only need North Korea P5 to complete a full house. If you include his deleted countries, his score will be at 346. This score remains the highest single-band DXCC score on any band by a South African. Although Bernie's March DXCC submission does not yet include the JD1, he has become the first South African to reach a cumulative score of 1600 on the five classic bands, for an average of 320 per band.

    TU5MH was very active in February, being workable on six bands from here. AA9A showed up yet again as PJ7AA, nibbling away at the demand for this relatively-new country. A Latvian and Ukrainian group showed up as S21ZED and S21ZEE, making over 50 000 contacts from this rare location. They changed callsigns in mid-operation, due to demands of the licencing authority. Some North Americans activated TX5T from the Austral Islands.Only one lone QSO resulted with southern Africa. The British "6G" team was active from 9G5X. 9N7EI was an Irish group in Nepal. JD1BLY again stayed for a few weeks, adding to his already impressive numbers. 3B8/G3TXF worked the Commonwealth Contest from Mauritius. The French club station F6KOP activated TU7C with help from Belgian, German and Danish DXers. They were easily worked from here on all modes and HF bands.

    The customary winter doldrums saw only E51DWC from the South Cooks. Around September, activity started again with 5T5OK. As suggested by the callsign, it was a Czech group. October saw lots of action. S9YY was a German group. An Australian group with some help from a solitary American activated VK9XI and VK9CI back-to-back. Locals activated VU7T, with a very high proportion of southern Africans. A5A was a sporting delegation to Bhutan. Due to topography, they were very hard to work from here.

    The two Scots made lots of noise from VK9CZ, with an amazing 126 contacts in Zone 38. 3C1L and 3C0L was a Latvian scouting expedition to pave the way for a larger double-barrel operation in 2018. VK9MA was surprisingly workable from here. 9U4M was very busy. With them being relatively close, many locals hogged out, producing 227 contacts. 5K0T was an Argentinian team. TO2SP made Saint Barts amazingly accessible, with 63 000 contacts in the log. ZA1WW was a joint Kosovar/Albanian operation. They were not easily workable from here. PJ7/UT6UD was a one-man show. 6O6O (say again?) was a two-man crew from this very rare counter, producing reasonable results locally.

    2017 has been a good year for Five-Band DXCC applications. Between August and November, three new ZS callsigns appeared on the 5BDXCC list: Raoul Coetzee ZS1C, André Botes ZS2ACP and Barry Murrell ZS2EZ. Raoul had previously completed 1,8 MHz, so 3,5 MHz was a mere formality for him. As Raoul and Barry had both previously completed the WARC bands, and André had completed 10 MHz, they were able to claim 9BDXCC, 6BDXCC and 8BDXCC respectively. Raoul is only the fifth South African to achieve 9BDXCC.

    In December, Gert Rautenbach ZR6GR submitted an endorsement application for 200 DXCC credits. Gert has broken the 200 mark within his first year of DXing. He has also earned single-band DXCCs on three bands.

    Around late 2017, rumour had it that several South Africans were within weeks of claiming the second 144 MHz DXCC in South Africa, behind ZS6OB. ZS1LS, ZS4TX, ZS5LEE and ZS6JON were all said to be in the running. In December, Allan Saul ZS1LS submitted LotW and paper applications, claiming 100 credits. The addition of this single-band DXCC promotes him to 9BDXCC. He is the sixth South African to claim 9BDXCC, and the first to include 144 MHz in his list of bands. Allan also claimed the top spot on Digital modes with 305 DXCC credits. When ZS4TX completes his 144 MHz award, he stands to earn the first 11BDXCC in South Africa.

    Call         Active   M+B   38Stns   38QSOs   kQSOs  Ops LotW         Remarks
    ZC4A         2017-02  1+6     11       23      10     2   During op.  5B4AGN and G3VMW
    E51DWC (SC)  2017-02  1+1      1        1      38     1   2017-02     OK1DWC
    XX9D         2017-02  3+8    >18       82      45    11   2017-07     German group
    E51AMF (NC)  2017-02  2+1      3        4      11     2   2017-04     K7ADD and N5EIL
    TU5MH        2017-02  ?+6    >19       45      32     4   2017        German team
    VP6EU (Pitc) 2017-03  3+5     20       32      39     4   2017-03     German/Dutch group
    PJ7AA        2017-03  2+7     11       12      28     1   2017        AA9A (regular visitor)
    S21ZED/'ZEE  2017-03  3+6    <32       57      54     9   2017        Latvian and Ukranian group
    TX5T (Austr) 2017-03  1+1      1        1      24     4   2018        CanAm DXers (USA/Canada)
    9G5X         2017-03  3+7     18       37      29     6   2017        6G team (British)
    9N7EI        2017-03  3+7     13       27      30    12   2017        EI DX Group (Irish)
    JD1BLY (Oga) 2017-03  3+8     54       98      79     1   2017-03     JI5RPT (regular visitor)
    3B8/G3TXF    2017-03  1+8     21       42      11     1   2017        G3TXF for Commonwealth Contest (CW)
    TU7C         2017-03  3+9     21       48      54    15   2017        F6KOP group (French/Belgian/German/Danish)
    E51DWC (SC)  2017-06  ?+3     >3        8      68     1   2017        OK1DWC on extended vacation
    5T5OK        2017-09  3+5     14       20      43     7   2017        Czech group
    S9YY         2017-10  3+8     20       31      18     5   2017-10     German group
    VK9XI        2017-10  3+6      8       20       8     5   2017        Australians and one Yank
    VK9CI        2017-10  2+3      4        5       8     6   2017        Australians and one Yank
    VU7T         2017-10  2+7     27       48      18     5   2017-11     Indian team
    3C0L         2017-10  2+9     17       46      32     2   2017-12     YL2GM and YL3AIW
    A5A          2017-11  ?+4     >2        5      20     4   2017        JH1AJT, JF1IST, DJ9ZB, E21EIC
    VK9CZ        2017-11  2+8     78      126      22     2   2018-01     GM3WOJ and GM4YXI
    3C1L         2017-11  3+8     25       60      44     2   2017-12     YL2GM and YL3AIW
    VK9MA        2017-11  ?+5    >12       28      45     9   2018        N7QT and team (USA/SM/DL/LA)
    9U4M         2017-11  3+9     91      227      55    22   2018        Mediterraneo DX Club (Europe)
    5K0T (SAnd)  2017-11  2+5      8       11      11     5   2018        LU1FM and Argentinian team
    TO2SP (FJ)   2017-11  3+8     23       46      63     6   2018        Polish team and one Yank
    ZA1WW        2017-12  1+4      6        7      14     9   2018-01     Kosovar/Albanian/Finnish team
    PJ7/UT6UD    2017-12  1+6      6       12       8     1   2018        UT6UD
    6O6O         2017-12  ?+6     >9       27      17     2   2018-01     LA7GIA and KO8SCO

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