For about a month I have been trying to work a station in England (G4TRA) who is running a single 11-element yagi and 400-watts. Now that's what I call a Pretty SMALL station for EME. Still, he has had a good deal of success. On 2-M he has achieved WAC, and worked 62 countries and 473 Grid Squares since 2014, using a 30 year old TS790E and that little 11 element antenna. NOT TOO BAD! That just shows what you can do with perseverance. With that small antenna and no elevation provision, he is limited to working at his Moonrise (MR) and Moonset (MS.)
Over the last month I have run schedules with him about 3 times and have watched to see if I could copy him while he was running with several others. On November 10th I copied a full CQ from him and tried to answer but we did not complete although he copied me quite well. So, I looked at the Sked Maker part of the MoonSked program and determined that this morning, Thursday, December 7, from 0930 to 1110 GMT looked like a very good chance for us to work. Degradation was shown to be only 0.7 dB and the Maximum Non-Reciprocity (MNR) between the two of us moved from 2 dB down to 0 dB. That made me think we could possibly work under those conditions. So I told G4TRA that I would be looking for him at that time.
Once my moon came up last night, I got on the air to see how the conditions were. First I saw YO3DDZ calling CQ and worked him easily for a New DXCC. I also made contact with ES3RF for another New DXCC (which has already been confirmed on LoTW.) Then, I ran two or three different times with F5AQX and he copied me fine but I never got a peep from him. He copied me as good as -17 dB and I could not even see a trace from him. Finally, when his Ground Gain kicked in, we made the QSO. That's another New DXCC for me for a total of THREE New DXCC's last night. Also, yesterday morning I had gotten up a little early to run a schedule with VK5APN and worked him for a New DXCC as well. That's FOUR New DXCC's in one day!
That success pumped me up and I kept operating until the point where I realized there was no use in my going to bed if I had to get up at 4:30 a.m. EST (0930 GMT) to run the schedule with G4TRA. As it turned out, I stayed up for a total of 23 hours to continue playing with the Moon.
During the night (not counting the 3 QSO's I made on Friday morning) I completed 17 EME QSO's. Among those QSO's I worked DL1VPL who was running a SINGLE 12-L yagi and 750-watts, G8BCG who was running a SINGLE 12-L LFA Yagi and a kW, and I DID complete with G4TRA and his SINGLE 11-L yagi and 400-watts. That contact with G4TRA is certainly the SMALLEST station I have worked via EME. All together, that makes THREE Single Yagi stations I worked last night! It looks like the calculations in MoonSked are pretty accurate when planning for working EME.
Below is a list of the 17 stations I worked last night. Click on any image to see it larger.
That evening (Thursday) I did not plan to stay up all night again [grin!] but I had seen that HSØZIL from Thailand had been on the moon before I turned on the station Wednesday night. I saw that he was supposed to come back the next night and I figured I would watch what happened with the pileup I expected to occur. Just before my moon came up, HSØZIL announced that he was calling CQ on 144.120 MHz. I tuned to that frequency and looked up what MoonSked had to say about conditions between him and me. It said there was a Maximum Non-Reciprocity (MNR) of 9 dB between us which is a LOT. Add to that I saw that he was running 2x9-element yagis horizontally polarized. That pretty much (to my mind) said there was not a chance I could see him.
Well, imagine my TOTAL SURPRISE when just before my moon elevation reached 1° (that's ONE DEGREE above the horizon!) that I copied:
025800 2 -26 2.5 -409 3 * CQ HS0ZIL OK16 0 10
Say WHAT? Because I just KNEW that I had no hope of hearing him, I had not even turned on the amp. I about broke a fingernail snapping on the amp and waiting for the DC supply to power up. I started calling him about 20 seconds too late so I didn't figure anything would happen. His next transmission I did not decode anything but I still called him the following minute.
Then, I nearly fell out of my chair when he came back to me! My moon elevation was just 0.72° at that time! Since the moon is about 1/2 a degree wide, this means the moon had just barely cleared the horizon for me. AND, at that heading, I'm shooting directly through the trees behind my house!!
030200 1 -25 2.5 -415 2 # W8TN HS0ZIL OK16 OOO 0 10
The QSO proceeded in straight sequences and in just FOUR minutes, I had snagged a New DXCC and THAILAND at THAT! I'm shaking just typing this. Below is the screen shot of the QSO:
Finally, just to put the icing on the cake, I woke up early on Friday morning for a bathroom visit, checked the Chat Page, saw G4PLZ calling CQ and managed to easily work him for another New Initial. Then, I got a report from a VERY small station, GM4VVX, who had copied me when I was working G4PLZ. We decided to run and very quickly I copied calls and his grid. Two periods later I copied the "RO" and I started sending "RRR." But, I never decoded anything again even though I saw the very faintest of traces where the "73" should be in the waterfall. I kept sending the "RRR" as once GM4VVX received that, it would complete the QSO even if no "73" were sent or received. I never saw anything from him on the Chat Page so I continued sending "RRR" until his moonset. I sent GM4VVX an email and got his response a few hours later that his Internet had failed due to heavy snow showers and frost at his QTH. He did indeed receive the "RRR" and sent me the "73" so the QSO was complete. Clive, GM4VVX, now becomes my smallest station I have ever worked as he runs 400-watts into a SINGLE long spaced 10-element yagi with a SSB2000 masthead pre-amp and no elevation! WOW! Simply amazing to me that I can work stations that small under good conditions.
This activity over the last 2 days has brought my 2-M EME numbers up to 100 EME QSO's, 95 Initials, 85 Grids, 21 States, & 31 DXCC's in just 37 days on-the-moon. This has turned out to be so much more fun than I ever really imagined it would be that I just can't stand it!