VHF DXpedition to P4 - Aruba 2024

Latest update: 2024-02-26 23:24 UTC

9el 144 MHz yagi on Aruba

Introduction

From February 12, 2024 to February 16, 2024 I was QRV on 144 MHz and 222 MHz from the island of Aruba as P4/PE1ITR from locator square FK52AM. It is a combined beach holiday and DXpedition.

For radio, the main goal was to make QSO's via TEP radio propagation on 2m. This also worked and I was able to make some nice TEP QSO over distances 5100 - 5300 km! In February there is a high chance of TEP propagation along the path between the Caribbean and South America.
I also brought equipment for 222 MHz. I made 1 QSO with this and tried to make an EME connection. Although I received good signals from the moon myself, the latter was unfortunately not successful but very educational.


Timetable



I have adhered to the timetable below as much as possible. In practice I was qrv on 222 MHz in the morning. Mainly for the 222 MHz EME experiment. There were no other stations on this band. In the evening I was QRV on 144 MHz. I had a good internet connection. During the activities I was available via these chats: 144/222 MHz HB9Q chat or the Region 2 ON4KST Chat.

Station

144 MHz: 9 el yagi antenna. FT817ND + SSPA 150 watt + pre-amp
222 MHz: 12 el yagi antenna. FT817ND + Transverter + SSPA 120 watt + preamp. Details here
QRV mainly with digital modes FT8, Q65b, MSK144 and when necessary SSB/CW.

144 MHz

On February 13 to 15 I was between 23 and 03 UTC and every evening I was able to make TEP qso's. All TEP QSOs were made using the digital mode Q65-15b at 144.180 MHz.
Below is a YouTube video with an example. From Aruba, the number of locator squares in Argentina that can be reached is limited because the TEP propagation path follows the same line in many cases. However, making QSOs over a distance of 5100 - 5300 kilometers on 2m is a special experience.




Electron density 2024-02-16 01:15 UTC at 6 layers: 100, 250, 300, 400, 550 and 800 km height.


Electron density cross section at 2024-02-16 01:15 UTC in the path FK52AM - FF97QB at 6 layers. Height versus Latitude.


Electron density cross section at 2024-02-16 01:15 UTC in the path FK52AM - FF97QB at 6 layers. Density versus Latitude.


Screenshot of some QSO's. The frequency spreading is about 100 Hz

222 MHz

I was disappointed with the activity on 222 MHz, but it was at the other hand an interesting educational experience. Based on this I will adjust the setup. EME appears to be the way to get more QSOs in the log for 222 MHz.
I made one tropo qso with PJ4MM. Furthermore I tried to make an EME qso with K1WHS. K1WHS peaked at -19db for me with Q65-60b. However, my 120 watt output was unfortunately too low for a two-way QSO.

In the simulation I would get good signals in the first groundgain lobe. However, this appeared to occur in the second lobe at a higher elevation. On closer inspection, it turned out that from my location towards the moon the ground was slowly going uphill.
In the end it turned out that I received the best signals when the yagi antenna was elevated. I was not prepared for this and this was achieved with some improvisation. On Arube you have strong winds and it was a challenge to keep the antenna aimed at the moon.



Screenshot of the signal of K1WHS



Information

You can email me on my qrz.com address
Latest info on this website
Also on MMMonVHF

QSO's are uploaded to LoTW


73 de PE1ITR.


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