XX9D in Macau: And You Think Your Noise Problem is Bad
From ARRL de WD1CKS@WLARB to QST on Monday, February 18, 2019 17:15:32
The group that's been activating Macau as XX9D for the past week or so reports its biggest challenge is not so much managing the pileups but hearing the pileups in the first place due to high noise levels. Nonetheless, the group has managed some 18,000 contacts on 160 through 6 meters, and the operators credit FT8 with making many of those possible.
"All team members are a little bit disappointed about the high noise level here on all bands," the XX9D team reported on February 18. Levels are mostly around S-7 - 9. It seems that this is man-made noise, which is about 10 dB stronger between 5 PM and 7 AM. You might imagine what problems we have to identify call signs under these lousy circumstances, which we are not able to solve. So, we have to lower our expectations."
The XX9D team also echoed the sentiments of other DXpeditioners regarding the behavior of those trying to work the 93rd most-wanted DXCC entity (according to Club Log).
"We got fair reports from all parts of the world," the XX9D group said in an update on its website. "But it must be hard for the callers to break through the noise wall on our side. Many callers wonder that they don't through even with a kW. But when 90 % of all callers transmit exactly 1 kHz up on CW, it is impossible for us to read anything. Bad comments don't help. It's more a question of bad practice."
The limited-space antennas are installed above the eighth story of a resort hotel, so the noise level was no real surprise, although it's far worse than during the 2014 XX9D DXpedition. On 160, 80, and 40 meters, XX9D is using wire verticals with elevated radials. The 30-meter antenna is a delta loop, and on 20 - 10 meters, the antenna is a wire beam. No receive antennas are possible.
Conditions at or near the low point of the current sunspot cycle aren't helping either. "We are working hard to get as many as possible callers in the log. Because of the lousy conditions we work much more in FT8," the 15-person mostly German team said.
The XX9D operators predict that activating Macau on the lower bands will be an even greater challenge in the future.
On 160, the operators may only transmit from 1,800 to 1,825 kHz, so they tried FT8 on 1,815 kHz with stations asked to transmit higher in the band (1,840/1,908 kHz). "From time to time we have our CQ beacon on 50.105 kHz on CW or 50.313 kHz on FT8 active and asks for listener reports (no log inquiries).
The XX9D operation from Grand Colane Resort is scheduled to continue until February 26. This operation is being called XX9D the Second. The same operators also activated the resort as XX9D in February of 2017.