Working the 7O6T DXpedition to Socotra Island, Yemen

It was just over a week ago that I started seeing tweets and mentions on blog posts of an upcoming DXpedition to Socotra Island, Yemen.  My interest was piqued because I’d noticed Yemen when looking at the DXCC Most Wanted List at ClubLog.  I checked the list and noticed that Yemen is shown at number six on the list.

7O6T DXpedition to Socotra Island, Yemen

7O6T DXpedition to Socotra Island, Yemen

I did some more research and it seems that the last activation of Yemen was back in 2002 and the last time Socotra was activated was by John, G3UCQ in 1964/65.  You can read about his activation by clicking here.

This was clearly going to be a popular DXpedition and once I studied the map I quickly realised that it wasn’t going to be easy to work them.  There’s a huge wall of Europeans and specifically Italians between the UK and Yemen and breaking through that would be difficult.  This demonstrates what I mean…

Direct path between the UK and Socotra Island

Direct path between the UK and Socotra Island

It seems this trip was kept very quiet because news of it only appeared a day or so before they went live.

So come the first day of operation and the bands exploded!  I spent an hour calling on 15m CW with no luck and then tried 17m SSB but the operator was working really slowly and by numbers.  I gave up and went to bed instead.   The following evening I tried for a while and finally managed to work them on 20m CW.  Surprisingly I didn’t tweet about it but my post on a forum simply said “Worked about 45 minutes ago on 20m CW. I’d like some more slots but even if I don’t manage any, I’m happy with the one.”

Working new ones is exciting though.  A couple of evenings later I worked them again on 15m CW and the next day on 15m SSB.  Here’s a recording:

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This was becoming addictive, later the same day I managed a QSO on 12m CW then 17m SSB and 20m SSB!   The next day I worked them on 12m SSB and then 10m SSB.

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(I’m using a Heil Pro-Set Plus headset with the ‘DX’ element, it really removes all the bass in my voice)

Finally I finished up working them on 17m CW and that makes a total of nine slots, five on SSB and four on CW.  The online log courtesy of ClubLog shows all those QSOs confirmed.

Confirmed QSOs between G6NHU and 7O6T

Confirmed QSOs between G6NHU and 7O6T

Those who know me will be well aware that I’m not particularly good at CW.  I can just about manage a contest QSO so it’ll be quite a surprise to see that I’ve had four Morse contacts with 7O6T.  Here’s how I did it.  This is my QSO on 17m.

G6NHU working 7O6T on 17m CW

G6NHU working 7O6T on 17m CW

I largely treat CW as a data mode, especially at those speeds.  The operators on Socotra are regularly transmitting at over 40 wpm and without computer assistance, I’d have absolutely no chance of working them.  I use CwGet and CwType from DX soft.

What I’ve written above makes it sound easy but it really wasn’t.  Each QSO took significant time and lots of calling running a beam and 400 watts.  Things may get less difficult now that we’re into the second (final) week of operations but I’m sure it will never be easy to work 7O6T.

I’m not planing on trying any more QSOs with the operators on Socotra Island, I’ve got my fill and don’t want to take up any of the time they could be using to work other stations, I’m very happy with what I’ve got.

To find out more about Socotra Island and the 7O6T DXpedition, click the logo below.

Addendum – 14th May 2012

I wasn’t planning on trying for any more slots but the uneven chart of worked bands and modes was offending me so I had a bash and managed to work the extra one on 10m CW to give me a total of ten confirmed slots.

Ten slots of confirmed QSOs between G6NHU and 7O6T

Ten slots of confirmed QSOs between G6NHU and 7O6T

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