ZD8 land is Ascension Island, located in the
South Atlantic Ocean, some 7° 56' South, 14° 22' West, which equates
to IARU Locator Square I I 22 tb (India India Two Two Tango Bravo).
The island itself is some 34 square miles in area, (90 square km) and is of
volcanic origin. The nearest other habitation is St. Helena (ZD7 land), some
703 miles away. The other major land masses of Africa and South America are
some 1100 miles away, east and west respectively.
I was originally asked by my company of the time if I would travel down to "ASI" and carry out some installation and commissioning work for them. I asked the very nice people who run the BBC World Service Relay Site on ASI if I could stay with them, and they agreed, so I set off for Two Boats village. Once on island and settled into my room, I was able to obtain my local licence from the delightfully helpful folks in the Administrators Office in Georgetown, erect a G5RV at just a few feet above ground level and get the station working. A little later on, I was lent a fantastic beam antenna by Ian, ZD8I, who was resident on the island.
After my initial 3 months or so down there, I was asked to go back in 2006 and continue the work started earlier, which I was happy to do until mid-February 2007.
So the station was operational from the 25th February 2005 until the 8th April 2005 with a variety of antennas, and then again from 2nd November 2006 until 14th February 2007, also with a variety of antennas. Several different locations were used around the island, including a couple of /mobile trips out in the hire car. The station is now QRT until some time in the future, date as yet unknown.
Eventually, this website will hold a complete, detailed record of my trips to ZD8 land, a copy of the logbook files and as many photos as I can reaonably cram in to illustrate the whole thing !
In summary, several thousand contacts were made, and many of those were into the USA, some 5500 - 7500 miles away. Other states worked included Canada, South America, large portions of Europe, Japan and some of the islands in the Indian Ocean, all with 100 watts of RF or less.
I am Andy Digby, a Chartered Engineer, who works for ITT Defence Limited out of our UK Basingstoke offices, currently as a Communications Systems Integration Engineer. I hold full UK Amateur Radio Licence, GØJLX, which I have held since 1988. I also teach the subject at all three UK licence levels ! Contact me if you want more information on Amateur Radio in general, or want to book a place on a Saturday afternoon course.
One of the many facets of this wonderful hobby of ours that
I really enjoy is heading off out to hilltops, remote or otherwise, with a
portable HF antenna and rig (and maybe a portable mains generator of some sort),
some shelter to protect from the elements and then work as many stations as
possible whilst sitting in a deckchair in the sunshine. Wonderful !
So it was a real pleasure to be able to work some of you from a /portable location up at the old NASA site some 1750 feet ASL with the faithful "Buddipole" antenna lashed onto a lump of concrete next to the car.
Here's a couple of pictures of the 'portable station' as set up in Ascension Island, using the beam and the doublet HF antennas. The majority of my 2005, 2006 and 2007 QSO's were made from these two locations.
Here's a picture of the main 9-ele Optibeam antenna I was
very kindly lent by Ian, ZD8I, for most of the duration of my first trip as I
mentioned earlier, closely followed by a picture of the station as it was set up
in my accomodation room originally during my first couple of days on Ascension
and the last week, feeding a G5RV (just 6 feet off the ground outside the
Sadly, in the last few days of the 2005 trip, the main Optibeam antenna had to come down, as it had only been given temporary planning permission to be erected by the authorities, so those last few days of that trip saw some antenna improvisation taking place. I erected the doublet in place of the G5RV from as high a point as I could reach, and fed it with some 450 ohm open twin feeder through the window of my accomodation room, but this ended up being almost a horizontal "Vee" shape, no more than 6 (six) feet off the ground in places as the ground sloped upwards from my room window !! Trees were the main anchor points, as you can see from the picture below, but I have to admit that I did get some startlingly good results with the doublet in this configuration including the USA and Japan. Signals were not as good as with the Optibeam of course, but at least I was on the air.
The other antenna that was used for just a couple of days on all trips was a spiracone (see picture below). This was more a professional grade antenna I managed to borrow with two feeds - one high angle, the other low angle - and as the team were unsure which feed was which, I conducted a few experiments by switching between the two feeds whilst holding QSO's with various stations around the world. We soon learned what we need to know about the Spiracone ! I wonder if the XYL would let me put one up in the back garden ??? She'd probably use it was a washing line !
As with all good things, it's all ended far too soon, and ZD8AD has had to become QRT until next time. . . . . . . . . . .
It has been a real pleasure working you all. There were some really big pileups most evenings but I do hope I managed to work as many of you as reasonably possible. I learned a lot of useful things about being on the other end of a pileup, and shall put these tips to good use next time I head out to some exotic location with my trusty rig.
QSL's : Please do QSL with ZD8AD via GØJLX
(my home call) as QSL manager, either via the bureau or direct. There will be a
100% QSL for all QSO's made during all the trips.
I have now cleared the backlog of direct 2005 QSL's and am starting to send out the bureau cards en-masse. If you have worked ZD8AD between late Feb 2005 and mid February 2007, your card will be coming to you very soon. I regret the delays that some of you have had to endure, but hope you like the card when it arrives.
The reasons for the delays are quite simple : I have changed job twice since getting back to UK from ASI, and I've moved house twice as well. I still have about a container-full of stuff to unload and I just KNOW there are thousands of QSL cards in amongst that lot awaiting action. Add to that my QSL card printer becoming deceased, and you will begin to appreciate the size of this mountain !!
At the moment (17th September 2007), I have 5 QSL's that are not in my log, so you are being held until all others have been exhausted then I'll check again (for the 4th time).
Affected stations to date are : JE3HWO, N6UOZ, KE5BWG, KE4YHY, KG6POG.
Email contact with the station is possible under my home call. Please use andy_digby at hotmail dot com and be patient. There WILL be a 100% QSL for all contacts.
73 and good dx - de Andy, GØJLX / ZD8AD !
Site last updated 27th June 2008