TX9 Chesterfield DXpedition October 2004  
The TX9
Story
The following story about the TX9 DXpedition appeared in Les Nouvelle-Calédonie on Oct 27, 2004 and is the courtesy of Dany, F5CW, with rough translation by Babelfish.com and FreeTranslation.com. Merci beaucoup Dany! The original link was: http://www.info.lnc.nc/caledonie/20041027.LNC1443.html?0252 but is not accessable anymore.  

An expedition of German radio hams in Chesterfield

Eight German radio hams were the origin and object of an international pursuit on the airwaves after two camps were installed in Chesterfield, where they remained a little more than one week. Their goal: to collect the greatest number of contacts in the world from this isolated place.
Coming by plane from Hamburg, Cologne, Nuremberg, Lubeck and Chemnitz, with their equipment, they departed Nouméa, October 11, aboard Bayou catamaran skippered by PP Avron: destination the three islands in Chesterfield, North-West of New Caledonia and two thirds of the way toward Australia. Arriving after three days,, they installed two camps on each end of Long Island. "Between the two points, there was only birds and nests everywhere", explains Heye Harms, DJ9RR. "They did not disturb us. What bothered us were the hermit crabs. They come in great numbers in the evenings to seek their food ". What Heye forgets to say and which the Caledonian guide Jean-Pierre Revercé, tells while bursting out laughing, it is that a part of the team had fun when a large tortoise, in the middle of the night, decided to lay under their tent. Without going into details, the animal traced its furrow on the canvas. A photograph testifies.
The technical means
During their stay, the radio amateurs or OM, according to their jargon, totaled close to 23,000 contacts with about 15,000 different other hams distributed in the whole world. The difference comes from the fact that of the communications sometimes were established with the same person but at different times. For the specialists, the two camps emitted different modes, one in voice (Single Side Band), and the other in Morse Code (CW). The output power varied between 100 and 1000 watts. An RTTY station also worked on the bands of 15, 20 and 30 meters. Three generators furnished power. "Our objective was to make the greatest number of contacts in the entire world, especially with Europe, which is most distant from the New Caledonia area", specifies Heye. "We had mediocre propagation conditions, except during a few favorable hours. Generally, it was best between sunset and sunrise. There were also some contacts during the night when it was dawning in Europe. The communications easiest to establish were with Japan throughout all stay. There were some with the African countries, which are rare generally enough for us, and with some countries of the Pacific."
A rare callsign
The practice of ham radio is very regulated in the world, more or less according to each country, this activity being even prohibited in some. The team had to obtain an authorization from high commission, after which the authorities allotted a special code to them, TX9, valid from 8 to October 30. Fifteen thousand QSL cards carrying this code will be sent in the world by the post office to confirm that the contacts took place. It is a tradition. The callsign TX9, unique for the period given and its geographical location, will become like a rare stamp for those holding the invaluable card. All the more rare because, like a printing error on a stamp, the code given by the high commission did not mention a suffix such as for example TX9C. That was worth many questions about the signals from the Chesterfield team. Upon return to Nouméa, after four days of engine noise to mitigate the absence of wind, the German OM's are still deafened. "It is an exceptional occurrence, an adventure which I had never lived", Heye said. "It is filled with incredible wonder. The birds are not at all aggressive. They are peaceful. That feels well but one ends up accustoming oneself to a little guano."
--The missing amplifier "exploded" by Roissy (France) airport security
A local Caledonian, Eric Esposito (FK8GM), in a way saved the expedition of the German radio amateurs. With their arrival in New Caledonia, their 1000 Watt amplifier was missing. It was the local ham Eric FK8GM, who had been in contact with the team since a long time, that lent them his amplifier as well as an antenna and other materials. The expedition had necessitated six months of preparation. "Eric supported us in an extraordinary way", insists Heye Harms. The epilogue of the equipment delay unfolded upon return to the quay when the Germans learned that their amplifier (a black metal box in a paperboard carton checked with their luggage) had been destroyed with the water cannon used by the security services of Roissy airport. They will ask for an explanation upon their return in Europe.
Herve GIRARD
 
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