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A35GC DXpedition 2022 Organized by Stan, LZ1GC
A35GC DXpedition took place between 2 and 20 November 2022.
This DXpedition is already history!
A35GC DXpedition was planned for October/November 2020, but due Covid – 19, restrict measures and the closed borders, this radio amateur expedition was postponed for November 2022.
A35GC team was from 2 operators: Stan, LZ1GC and Ivan, LZ1PM.
We were planned to Tonga on 30 October 2022, but unfortunately 2 weeks before our departure British Airways canceled our flight from Sofia, Bulgaria to Heathrow, London and offered us a flight to London on 29thOctober 2022. We agreed with this of course, but it cost us 28 hours stay on the Heathrow Airport, awaiting our onward flight to Sydney, Australia which was on 30 October 2022 at 21:45 GMT.
This was unnecessary, an additional burden because with 120 kg of luggage we were not able to hire a taxi and spend the night in a hotel.
Our departure to Tonga began on 29 October 2022 from Sofia, Bulgaria.
We, the team of A35GC traveled to Kingdom of Tonga with British Airways and Air New Zealand. Our journey consisted a few flights as following:
Sofia, Bulgaria (LZ)– Heathrow, England (G) – Changi, Singapore (9V) – Sydney, Australia (VK2).
Sydney, Australia (VK2) – Auckland, New Zealand (ZL1) – Nuku’alofa, Kingdom of Tonga.
After long and hard travel from Bulgaria to Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu Isl., Kingdom of Tonga we arrived on Fuaamoto Airport into Tonga on 02 November 2022.
Here is the place to say that for carrying out this expedition, we received immense help and support from Masato Tamura, JA0RQV, which before our arrive from Tonga was active from there as A35JP.
Mr. Masa contacted with me a month before our departure to Kingdom of Tonga and he helped us to find accommodation which is with good rules for radio activity and enough place for our antennas.
By the way, our accommodation place was with about 1700 square meters free place and only about 100 m from the beach – place a dream for every radio amateur!
Mr. Masa, also helped us with his 13.8 power supply (RPS - 1430) and his 12 m fiberglass pole, which we used during A35GC activity.
We arrived on Fua’amotu Airport, Kingdom of Tonga at 12 PM local time on 2 November 2022.
All our flights on a way to Kingdom of Tonga had delay 1-2 hours.
On the Fua’amotu Airport we had problem on arrived with a corrupt employee (woman ), who insisted, that we must to pay cash money for the equipment with which we arrived, before to letting us through customs.
By the way - It was not for first time for me! I had the same situation in 2016 on my arrival on Solomon Islands for H40GC & H44GC DXpedition 2016.
I said of the employee, that I will be not pay because all with our baggage is OK!
After, I contacted via mobile phone with Mr. Lui Falemaka from Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications – MEIDECC.
Mr. Lui Falemaka talk with this employee and the result was that we were letting through customs without any payment and any other problems!!!
Immediately after that we went with a big car - wan to the local MEIDECC, where we met Mr. Lui Falemaka and after, with our 120 kg baggage traveled to our accommodation place which was in village part of the Nuku’alofa – Sopu, Nukuma’anu.
Arrived there, we immediately began to unpacking our baggage.
Our baggage included 2 big paper boxes where were our linear amplifiers ACOM 1200S and ACOM 700S, 2 pieces laptop bags with our 2 pieces transceivers FT DX 10 and 3 pieces Laptops, 2 big luggage where were our wires antennas, coaxial cables, different cables, tuning box for our 160 & 80 m antenna, our transceiver Kenwood TS 480 SAT and many other things from our equipment. We had also one oversize baggage with 2 pieces 12 m fiberglass pole, 1 piece - 18 m fiberglass pole and 2 pieces 10 m fiberglass poles.
Unpacked the baggage, we began to put up the 160, 80 & 40 m Vertical antenna and the vertical – DX commander from 40 – 10 m.
We put up them, but unfortunately, until nightfall we weren't able to finish installing of the radials and get them set up!
Around already began to dark and we decided to installing the equipments in the radio room at our accommodation.
After a few hours later we decided to take a few hours sleep, because we were so tired from the long and hard travel from Bulgaria, Europe to Kingdom of Tonga in Pacific area.
At dawn, still in the dark, not even 4 hours had passed, we finished the started installation of the Vertical antenna on 160/80/60/40 m and the DX commander Vertical antenna from 40 -10 m bands.
At 21:59 GMT on 02 November 2022, A35GC was already on the Air, on 21074 MHz, FT8. Our first contact was with ZL1BG!
We continue to put up the other antennas and after 2 hours A35GC was already with 2 working places on the Air, on two different bands and modes.
During A35GC activity we used 3 transceivers - 2 pieces Yaesu FT DX 10, 1 piece Kenwood TS 480 SAT and two linear amplifiers – ACOM 1200S and ACOM 700S.
Our antennas were: a shortened Vertical with a capacitive cap & tuning box, installed on an 18 m fiberglass mast for 160/80/60/40 m, Exp. GP antenna ( prism ) from 40 – 6 m, including WARC bands installed on 12 m fiberglass pole, Vertical – Dx commander from 40 – 10 m, installed on 10 m mast, VDA antennas for 40/20/15/10 & for 17/12 m bands installed on two 12 m fiberglass poles.
Since end of 2 November ( 21:59 GMT ) - 20 November 2022, A35GC was nonstop on the Air on 2 or 3 different bands and modes.
First 10 days we worked on CW and FT8 modes, but after to the end of the expedition, we were active on CW, SSB and FT8.
Usually, we transmitted with 2 stations on different bands and modes, but some days we operated with 3 stations on the Air.
Finally A35GC logged 43332 QSOs on CW, SSB and FT8, on all HF bands, from 160 - 6 m bands. During this period we contacted with 139 different countries from all continents.
A35GC was on the Air to the last possible time. The Bus which transported us to the Airport waited us 30 minutes, we to complete our baggage.
During A35GC we had slept time no more then 2- 3 per a day. Some days, we had not any slept time!
The propagation was poor on low bands ( 160 & 80 m) and good on high bands. However, I think that we made many radio amateurs happy to make contact with A35 and gave them a new one on some bands.
Really, during A35GC we prepared most of our time on the Air from 40m – 10 m bands (40,30,20,17,15,12,10), but we used also a short open on 6 m and we made 300 QSOs, most from them with Japan stations.
The poor propagation on low bands (160 & 80 m) is the reason, we to prepare there no so many time.
However, I think that on low bands, also many radio amateurs were happy, which we gave a new one!
Please, do not thinking that all was so easy there…
During A35GC activity, we experienced a 7,5 magnitude earthquake, as a result, we were evacuated due to the danger of tsunami.
It’s happened on 11. November 2022 at 10:29GMT (23:48 local time). Only then A35GC was QRT for 7 hours, because we were evacuated.
Before the evacuation, we disconnected all the equipments and placed it in the highest part of the room, so that if a tsunami were to form it would be to be equipment on safety place!
Our thoughts at that moment were related to our great hobby – the radio!
Another problem, during A35GC activity was the big (heavy) local noise - sometime with S9 +10db.
On 20 meters distance from our accommodation was a power line.
We thought that this is the reason for the strong noise, but finally 10 days after start of our activity we found and fixed the problem!
Ivan, LZ1PM which is professional electrician, decide to check the power board with fuses in the room.
Really, the dashboard did not give any signs – noise or heating.
When he removed the dash cover, we saw the burnt out bus powering the fuses!
We cleaned the scum and installed the rail.
The noise that has been bothering us for more than a week is gone!
A problem also was that two from our power supplies for the transceivers gone fault - one from them from high temperature, after 14 days without stop work and another one from the condense. The humidity, there is very high.
At the end of this article, a few words about Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu island, Kingdom of Tonga and people there.
The population of Nuku’alofa is about 70 000 inhabitants - more than 70% all Tonga’s population. The people there are friendly, kindly and always smiling! They are not rich, but they are very happy!
Unfortunately, we haven’t so many time to walk in Nuku’alofa, because we were so busy with A35GC activity!
At 17:03 GMT on 20th November 2022, A35GC finished his activity and gone in QRT!
We were so tired, but happy!!!
On 21 November 2022 at 12:00 local time (20 November, 23:00 GMT) with a flight NZ 973 of Air New Zealand, we left from Kingdom of Tonga to Europe and Bulgaria.
On 23 November 2022 at 15:30 in the afternoon, we were already in Sofia, Bulgaria.
We were very tired, but we were happy!!!
We are very thankful of all our Individual Sponsors, Foundation and Clubs Sponsors as:
GDXF, EUDXF, SDXF, LA DX Group, GM DX Group, Clipperton DX Club, MEDITERRANEO DX Club, Clublog, Spiderbeam, ACOM Ltd - Bulgaria, Oklahoma DX Association, KC5WXA - Jake McClain Driver Amateur Radio Club, which supported us to be this expedition successful!
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