IOTA  Mini DX-pedition
EU-109 Farne Island Group

Farne eu109 latest
 I would like thank all the stations that I worked over the 2 days for their excellent on-air behavoir. It was a pleasure to work you all

some expedition info
friday worked 100 stations  over 3.5hrs
saturday worked 250 station over 5 hrs

one lesson learnt is do not do this type of activation when there is a contest!!

QSL Info

All QSL cards are completed and ready to go. There has already been demand for direct QSL'ing. I shall put any remaining cards into the Buro system at the end of November 2009.

Antenna  Inverted V Multi Band Dipole

Worked All Britain area   NU23  Island of Inner Farne    
QRA Loc    IO95eo  
Farne Island (Old) ARHLS ENG040    WAB  A2812X
Farne Island ARHLS ENG060     WAB A2812

The Story behind this activation

M0OVL/P and EU-109

2 years ago, I was looking for a new IOTA challange. I had activated 6 islands and wanted to go somewhere where island hunters would like to work a station and perhaps was not in the expense league of some of the exotic coral reefs of the South China Sea's. A look at the 'most wanted list' and my bank balance led me to the Farne Islands. It was at this point that the proverbial spanner was thrown into the works. With true British naivety I contacted the local ferryman to arrange a passage for me, my radio, and a tent. It was then that I discovered that 'Permission' was required. The organisation responsible for the Islands is the National Trust. I tried various departments before hitting on the right office. The outcome was quite dispiriting, no you cannot camp on the islands, no you cant do this, no you cant do that. The one little shaft of light was the mention of Trinity House. For the uninitiated, Trinity House is the Government Agency with responsibility for Lighthouses and Navigational Aids. There is the Longstone Lighthouse located on Longstone Island in the Outer Farne Islands. I was advised to contact Trinity House as they had responsibility not only for the lighthouse but rights of access over some land around the lighthouse. 'Simples' I thought, thinking like a meerkat. A quick phone call and away I go. I eventually had a chat with the Lighthouse Manager for UK. A most helpful gentleman who asked me to put my proposals in writing. I duly sent all the information covering Operating Frequencies, Power, Equipment, Enviromental Statement, and even the now obligatory Health and Safety assessment. I rang back a couple of weeks later and was told, 'No problem, a check with the technical staff revealed no issues, I will just pass the matter over to the Legal Dept and they can sort out a disclaimer'. I was really very pleased with my efforts and felt that everything now was just a formality. Oh dear no. There began a long e-mail correspondence with a member of the Trinity House legal team. I soon became aware that I was fighting against forces and a logic really way beyond my powers of pursuasion. The culmination of this protracted and at times intruiging correspondence was a statement that permission would not be granted as it had been deceided to carry out works/development in the vicinity of Longstone Lighthouse over the coming years. Therefore no permissions or licences to erect antennae/ masts would be given. That was the end of that avenue. The door now firmly slammed in my face. It was apparent that I had failed to make the temporary, and portable nature of my station fully clear to this legal mind. I went back on bended knee to the Property Manager at the National Trust and explained the outcome. To my surprise, an offer of a daytime only operation, outside of the bird breeding season was made subject committee approval.
Holidays were booked, plans made and a date set. I have a 2 week holiday booked with the main event due to take place midway through my break. My long suffering XYL, June, not only wishing to come with me, but stumping up half the cost of the holiday and even offering to help carry the equipment on and off the ferry and to the operating site. That is devotion to the cause, I just wonder if there will be a payback later, hi !

Monday 3 days to go. Having had my order of 450 ohm ladder line returned to a parcel depot 75 round trip miles away from my home, I sourced some more and made arrangments for everyone on my street to watch out for a parcel van outside my front door, they had to surround the driver and insists he/she leaves my ladder line. In the meantime, clear out camper van, sort out camping equipment, sort out radio and antenna. (FT 817, RM KL400 linear, Autotuner, Lightweight multiband Dipole and a Snowdon Radio Company HF vertical. Power was to come from 2 batteries as fuel to run a generator cannot be transported on the passenger ferry (Health and Safety again)

Tuesday 2 days to go. Deceide to have a dry run setting up 10m Telescopic pole with guy ropes and wire antenna. 1st attempt went well then I found a second guying yoke which would give much greater rigidity to the upper sections of the mast. The second attempt ends with disaster. The pole collapses, fatally injured, the midsection snapped beyond repair. A replacement is needed in a hurry, Time is getting on. I ring local fishing shops - nothing in stock. An antenna supplier has got one but I am too late for next day delivery.  Finally find a shop in South London who can supply what i require (50% more expensive than my normal supplier) still too late for next day delivery but will guarantee a before 10am delivery on Thursday. Go out for dinner with friends who know nothing of amateur radio and even less about IOTA. A sumptuous Chinese takeaway later and some rather nice red wine and I am begining to envy them their radio free life

Wednesday 1 day to go. Nothing to be done except wait for the parcel man tomorrow morning. I take out my frustrtion on the garden. Pruning roses most harshly, cutting the grass too, within one millimetre of its life. Whiskey and wine eventually take effect and my constant pacing of the garden is replaced by gentle snoring from the sofa.

Thursday, Travel day.  Crack of dawn I am up. none the worse for the medication i consumed yesterday evening. Nine AM and DHL parcels arrive exactly as planned. I gradually pursuade my XYL that it is time to say farewell to our cats and chickens for a few days.
By 10 am we have hit the A1 north. For six hours we battle with all manner of traffic congestion, most without apparent cause. Eventually we arrive at out destination, Seahouses, located on the Northumberland coast, and the base for our DXpedition. We find our campsite before going into town. Once in town we head for the quayside, useful knowledge for the morning. Just as the sun was setting we came across 2 wardens from the islands stocking up on essentials, bread, water, and a few cans of probably the best lager in the world!!. After greetings were exchanged, I made a mental note of the achoholic currency of  the Farne Islands and vowed to have some with us when we set sail in the morning. Seahouses is a beautiful small seaside holiday town, where every one seems very friendly.

Friday, The big day is upon us. The ferry leaves at 1000 hrs local time. All our kit is aboard and away we go. It is quite windy and I am glad the equipment is packed and dry  The first boat of the day normally makes a tour of the Islands but they set us ashore first, giving us a chance to get set up. It is very windy even in the shelter of the Inner Farne Lighthouse. Great fun setting up the fibreglass pole. Logging on paper is really gong to be fun. Headphones on or off, still a howling gale and difficult to pick out calls. The first QSO is in the log 1042 UTC on 80. after 3 qso's in 10 minutes, I change to 40m. Within 6 minutes I have my pileup which lasts for 90 minutes. Time at 1245 UTC, I QSY to 20 and wait for the zoo to descend. 3 calls later, a very busy band and some stations splattering 10/15 khz means no room for me and my 50 watts. Back to 40m and another 45 minutes of frantic QSO's. At this point, we have to go QRT as the planned last boat has been cancelled. Somewhat dismayed, we leave the island and back to the delights of Seahouses. 2hrs 40mins operating and there are 100 contacts logged on paper. I was concerned by the lack of interest on 20, but 40, which is not a favourite band of mine was really doing well. Still there was always tomorrow, and hopefully a 5 hour operating window.

Saturday. 1000 hrs local time, back on the boat, calmer today, hopefully less trouble hearing the calls. 0955 utc 80m for 15 minutes, A bit disapointed that more G stations were not in evidence. By 1018 I am on 40,oh boy, them there varmants were waiting for me. Flat out for 30 mins then a request to QSY from 7.130 down to 7.090 . I had forgotton that France has not yet got the extra 100khz. Sorry France, I didnt do it on purpose!!. At 1300 UTC I QSY back to 80m giving a couple of stations  EU-109 on 2 bands. 1315UTC and off to 20m. Oh no, a contest. Wall to wall splatter. I give in after 2 QSO's on 14260, one QSO is vitally important and that was with Ray N6VR from California. Ray had e-mailed over a year ago when I had gone public with my plans. It was a great moment to pick his call out of the ether. I later worked Fred N6AWD, a friend of Ray and gave him his 998th IOTA. That is some acheivment Fred, fingers crossed you get 2 more this year reach 1000. I move to 14.310mhz, the frequency is clear and another pileup ensues. During this time a local US net has started up and refuse to move despite polite requests. As my pileup grew the Stateside net dug in and were increasing power, I heard mention of 1.5 and 2kw. Still I was being called so I stayed put. I even had  PY (Brazil) in the log. Every 20 mins or so, I called for 'outside of europe only' . Amongst others, I had been e-mailed by JA & VK operators wanting EU-109. This was not to be. By 1420 UTC I had another 260 QSO's in the log  and it was time to pack up and sail back to the mainland. It was a sad moment to leave the island, It is a lovely place, cared for by wardens of The National Trust. These guys really love and care for this island group just off the North East coast of England. They live in spartan conditions for 9 months of the year caring for and monitoring the fauna and flora of these wild islands. As my wife and I boarded the boat back to the mainland, I wondered if I would ever get back here again. I would dearly like to organise a 48hrs dxpedition here for the benefit of DX stations.

Maybe the mangement team can be pursuaded.

All in all, this was a great experience for me. There is clearly a huge demand for EU-109. By the time we  had returned home, the first of the direct QSL requests were waiting for me at my PO Box. I hadnt ordered any cards prior to the Expedition. What if I only had 10 QSO's !

A friend of mine Peter ON3WAB kindly sent me a tape recording of much of my Saturday operation. Very useful for me to review my performance. Sometimes 'happy go lucky' or perhaps even professional, at other times frustrated as someone kindly explains in great detail every last detail of their station. Another occaision when I felt obliged to explain to a newcomer to Amateur Radio exactly what IOTA and Worked All Britain awards were all about. Only a couple of times did I have act like a schoolmaster keeping an unruly class in order. Thank you for the tape Peter, much appreciated !!!

To end, it has been a feature of recent dxpeditions to have been on the receiving end of some terrible operating practices especially from european stations. On this occaision, there was no bad practices that I could hear, I sincerly hope that we have turned a corner and future major expeditions will not suffer as in the past. In closing I would like to thank John Walton (National Trust Property Manager), David Steele and his team of Wardens on the Islands, Billy Sheils and his staff for the ferry crossings. To the members of Wisbech Amateur Radio & Electronics Club for help, advice,and portable sources of power! Perhaps most importantly YOU, because without the QSO's, all this would have been a waste of time. Thank YOU Ladies and Gentlemen.

IOTA Contest 2008 and also 2009 !!!

My planned activation of EU-109 had to be postponed howeverI was able to join the G2F team and so got my fix of IOTA for the year. As I only ever take part in the low power DXpedition class it was a real experience to have an opportunity to operate alongside experienced contesters using maximum legal power and great antennae (Spiderbeam) . Thanks guys.

G2F Spiderbeam
G2F Spiderbeam

IOTA Contest 2007

MM0OVL/P  operated from EU-008 Island of Mull.for the duration of the contest. Walk in activations were made from Ulva and Iona

Unexpected activations
13th June 2007

On 13th June 2007, I unexpectedly had to travel across to EU-038 Terschelling Island in the North Dutch Islands Group. After work and before collapsing into my bunk, I activated the island for 50 minutes on 20M, To all of you with whom I had a QSO, thank you, QSL cards have been prepared and will go to the RSGB Buro within a few days. The great thing about this short period of time was the fact that I also got two new IOTA islands and 3 new DXCC entities incl my first JA and HL The way things are going at the moment I have more chance of acheiving DXCC 100 signing PA/M0OVL/M than using my home call.
And some people say Amateur Radio is boring !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


2006 MM0OVL/P Operation From EU-123 Island of Bute

Rothsay Harbour, Island of Bute                                  MM0OVL/P on the Island of Bute
Rothsay Harbour, Island of Bute                                      MM0OVL/P on the Island of Bute

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