expedition of German radio hams in Chesterfield
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.
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.
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."
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."
missing amplifier "exploded" by Roissy (France) airport
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.