Press release mid-January 2022.
After the permission granted by the TAAF and the DXpedition announcement, time has come to gather the equipment and move forward with the preparations. As you can see on the picture below, talks are extensive!
Dates are now known. The Marion Dufresne will leave Reunion Island on December 8th, with a stopover at Tromelin to resupply the people there (another nice DX), then bound for Crozet. I should get there around Christmas. The ship will come back on March 26th 2023 to pick us up, and after stopovers at Kerguelen and Amsterdam, arrive at Reunion on April 16th 2023. Therefore, I will be on Alfred Faure base for a solid 3 months. These dates may vary slightly depending on weather conditions.
I am in close contact with the TAAF (Many thanks to the man in charge of Crozet, and to Mr Chareyre for their attention) in order to prepare my arrival in the best possible conditions. Some of the main points under discussion are where the antennas (HF and QO-100) will be installed, as well as the shack.
Obviously, I will not start operating the day after my arrival. I will need to install the antennas and the station. For that, other people’s help will be required. The weather will have its role to play, as it would be impossible to climb to the roof, erect a mast under high winds: the base commander will have to give his approval. Starting the operation will not be the top priority of the first day.
In theory, I will stay in the Albatros building. It is next to the Biomar building. It looks like they have arranged it so that I will not be of any nuisance to the other people (night operation for example).
Looking at the picture below will give you a better idea
© Benoît Stichelbaut – www.stichelbaut.com
On the left is the Biomar building, on the right is the Albatros. Thank you to Mr. Stichelbaut for allowing us to use his picture.
The callsign is not issued yet, and I have requested a special call to commemorate the 60 years of the first transmissions made by Mr. Baudelot, first ham operator on the island in the years 61/62. The callsign will be released only hours before the start of the activity by Paul F6EXV and Jean-Michel F6AJA, i.e. after my arrival on the island. Paul will inform via internet and Twitter, Jean-Michel on his DX bulletin. This will be so to avoid pirate activities. Anything not coming from Paul or Jean-Michel will be mere speculation. Be cautious of the FT4Wxxx that might show up !
As for the equipment, things are also progressing. Many sponsors have kindly responded to our solicitations.
Contrary to our initial information, I will not be using K3s. Since Elecraft no longer produces K3S, it was difficult for them to loan or sell some to me. They mentioned a K4 but I do not want to go with only one transceiver, I need at least a second one in case of break down. Considering the procurement problems that all manufacturers are facing, I did not want to take any risk. Consequently, I have decided to use a transceiver that I have at home, as well as used by F6KOP for their DXpeditions, namely the TS-590. It is fully equipped, and has a big advantage: no interface required to operate FT8, a mere USB cable between the rig and the laptop is enough. Antenna plugs, a receiving antenna connector, an RS232 interface, USB, all filters and ATU. So no further options will be required. Furthermore, it has a great receiver, and can be easily found second-hand at very reasonable price.
So, I purchased a TS-590 which is right now being modified by the Kenwood after sale service, to solve the known ALC issue. This modification is covered by the Kenwood warranty. I will soon purchase another 590 that will also be modified.
On the amplifier side, after talks and advice from the Clipperton DX Club and the F6KOP team, I have chosen a 500W tube amp, the Acom 1010, less fragile than solid state amps. It can bear with a 3/1 SWR, which is a great advantage for a place where I will not be in full control of the environment. So I will purchase a 1010 and have another one loaned by the CDXC via F6KOP. Let them be thanked for this.
I also thank Acom company for the discount they are offering for the purchase, but this is not a gift. They are doing the best they can, still, the cost is not negligible in the overall budget.
The antennas will be the subject of another press release, after we have made some tests at Paul’s QTH in the spring. More to come later.
I have asked the TAAF to get permission to send part of the equipment with the previous ship supply mission (leaving in November). It sometimes happens that, because of the weather during landing, not everything can be brought to the island. Imagine being on the island without a station! As I often say, Crozet is not Tahiti !
A lot remains to be done. Going to the TAAF islands for 4 months needs a lot of work, and is to be deserved. One of the next items on the agenda is winter clothing, and organizing skeds with school children’s via QO-100.
Thank you to all the team members as well as to our sponsors, nothing would be possible without them.
s a conclusion, you can see preparations are going well, thanks to the continuous team work. Even if sponsors are helping a lot, expenses go on, and more help will be welcome. I suppose Crozet will be an ATNO for many, and you can’t afford missing it, as nobody knows when the next ham operation will take place from this #3 most needed. Thank you all!
You will find our PayPal info on the Crozet2022 home page.
Thierry Mazel F6CUK
EXPEDITION TO CROZET
It was in October 2019 that, during a meeting with my friend Paul F6EXV, a project of DXpedition to Crozet was first mentioned, Crozet being the #3 most needed entity. It was a difficult challenge, because if Crozet is so high in the most needed list, it’s because there are good reasons for it.
After some research on the web, and with Bernard F6BLK’s help, we built an application document. From the beginning, we wanted to associate the REF to this project. Therefore, the application was introduced to the REF Board of Directors, they validated it and it was consequently sent to the TAAF Prefet under the REF patronage.
We received the first answer from the TAAF in June. Many exchanges followed, mainly on the antenna issue.
One must realize that the Alfred Faure base is fairly small and can only accommodate few people (scientists and maintenance workers), that the climate is fairly severe, that the Crozet Islands are very involved in nature protection (fauna and flora), that the Prefet receives many applications to stay on the islands (not only radioamateurs wish to go there). We had to cross many obstacles.
After several exchanges over the past months, I finally received the permission to stay on Crozet between two rotations of the supplying vessel (Marion Dufresne) between December 2022 and March 2023, i.e. the austral summer, the most adequate period in terms of WX to carry out a DXpedition. This will also be the 60th anniversary of the preliminary mission on Crozet, which took place in December 1961/January 1962.
I will revert with more details about, with a blog and pictures, as well as about the project and its background, on the working conditions that have been imposed on us. An internet page will be set up on the REF website, with a blog and pictures.
In the meantime, a big thank you to all those who secretly helped secure the permission, they will recognize themselves !
Thierry Mazel F6CUK
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