DXpeditions 01
This article originally appeared in the January 2011 issue of EUDXF. Written by Andy Glaeser, DL9USA and Jan Harders, DJ8NK Bonaire PJ4 Andi DL9USA and Jan DJ8NK formed one of the teams on Bonaire for celebrating the political change of status in mid October 2010. Of course it was a special thrill to participate, when a „new one” for DXCC was created. For the DX chaser it was surely an even greater thrill, because 4 new entities were created in the Caribbean Sea the same day, which was the 10.10.10, the pile-up was immense. Only during this summer we learned, that the 10.10.10 would be the actual date of the change, after a public vote a few years back had already demanded that step. Curacao PJ2 and St.Maarten PJ7 had decided to become independent countries under the Netherlands crown as Aruba P4, ex PJ3 is already since 1986. Bonaire PJ4 , St. Eustachius PJ5 and Saba PJ6, now the so called BES-islands, are not fully independent, but became special municipal districts within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The DXCC desk took a little while before they announced their decision concerning the DXCC status of these islands. The former Netherlands Antilles counted as 2 separate DXCC entities: Curacao/Bonaire and St.Maarten/St.Eustacius/Saba. Those 2 entities were „deleted” and 4 „new ones” PJ2, PJ4, PJ5/PJ6 and PJ7 were added to the DXCC list, which now totals to 340 current entities. In planning and preparation of the trip we contacted one of the permanent licensed hams on Bonaire, Peter PJ4NX. He helped in all kind of matters, in particular to find a QTH, which we could rent, to find a car hire and to address the right persons at the licensing office, so that we finally could book our flights with KLM. Generally speaking it is possible to work under CEPT agreement, but we did not really fancy the idea to use such long calls like PJ4/DL9USA or PJ4/DJ8NK. So we sent applications to the authorities and finally PJ4I and PJ4N were assigned to us. Jan got his license very quickly but Andi had to wait until one day before his flight, but then both of us were granted the special calls for the period of 10.10.10 to 22.10.10. PJ4 calls with a 2-letter-suffix are only issued to local hams, whereas calls with 1-letter-suffix are only issued for special events and for max. 48 hours, such as contest weekends. But for this extraordinary event the very generous and helpful licensing office made an exception: PJ4I and PJ4N was valid for 12 days, with similar periods for the other PJ4 guest calls. Because Jan could only fly into Bonaire on 15. Oct., Andi and his YL flew alone on 08. Oct. The house, which they had rented for a week, was situated in a mere living area, with many neighbours all around. The garden was very small and covered with shrubs and bushes. Therefore there was no chance to put up a 5-band Spiderbeam, but instead only a home made vertical for 30/40/80 meter. On the 9th of October this station was tested for a short time using the call PJ4/KP2I [PJ4/DL9USA was too long and PJ4I was not valid, yet]. The next day the actual operation started under PJ4I. Using the tuner that vertical could be matched on 10 to 40 m. It was impossible to work on 80 m, because the QRN was over S9 at any time, it was the rainy season with thunderstorms all around. The 600 W PA was not used, just to be nice to the neighbours who wanted to watch the television programs HI HI. With 100 W the signal was very weak in Europe but loud in USA, so during the first week mainly north and south America were worked, which was an advantage for the second week, because they were worked already, resulting in less QRM HI. On the 15th there was hardly any activity, because we had to move to the other house, bigger, with a large garden and no neighbours. This house had been used by 3 Dutch hams under the call PJ4W. These 3 hams flew home with the same aircraft which brought Jan to the island. So the change over to that house was very convenient. In tropical areas there is no twilight, minutes after sunset it is pitch dark, the „light is switched off” at 18:30 local time. That did not give us much time for antenna work outside, but inside we could install the 2 stations, two K3s, two 600 W PAs with bandpass filters, coax cables through the windows and then a good glass of local red wine on the veranda at 28°C, good life. Next morning we installed a 5-band Spiderbeam (10–20 m) and two verticals for the low bands. Peter PJ4NX had installed a 5-band Optibeam a week earlier, which had high SWR and no resonance at all on 15 and 20 m. Quick correspondence with Tom DF2BO showed us the correct way for repairing, but we had to take down the beam, which is not all that easy. Three loose bolts were tightened and then that beam was a smashing performer. Then we started the operation with two stations simultaneously. PJ4N worked SSB and RTTY and PJ4I had the CW part. It all went very well and satisfactory, with one big surprise: the unexpected 10 m openings into Europe on two consecutive days, which brought more then 1,200 QSOs into the log. After one week, on the afternoon of the 22nd we had to dismantle the stations, take down all antennas, pack everything and get ready for the return flight to Europe in the evening. We donated the Spiderbeam to Peter PJ4NX, who was just about to set up a local club station, which will be operational shortly. Some more infos about the other ham activities on Bonaire. Prior to the operations some „irritations” were experienced, because from a kind of dominating person a WEB page was set up, which attempted to force all hams, who intended to be active on Bonaire, to become members of one (not existing) team, which should operate under ONE (not nominated) call, use ONE common log and W3HNK as the only QSL manager. Naturally this „steamroller mentality” had no chance to succeed. Instead – spread over the island – seven QTHs were in use, some of them with multiple stations. Mutual consideration, agreements and respect was needed to avoid interference and overlapping pile-ups, which in most of the cases worked out well. We visited all the other sites and enjoyed meeting the other hams. Two active hams live permanently on Bonaire: Hans PJ4LS and Peter PJ4NX, ex PA3CNX. The call PJ4W was operated with a brand new FT5000 at the antennas of Radio Netherlands during the hours without broadcasting. Eight 145 m high towers hold directive curtain antennas with a gain of 21 dB. Fantastic. The call PJ4D was used by a group of 4 Ws and 3 OMs from PA were QRV under PJ4B from a contest station (to be rented) up on the highest hill in the north of the island. Additionally the QTH of PJ4/W9NJY and the one of PJ4I/PJ4N must be mentioned. Bonaire with appr. 16,000 inhabitants and an area of 288 km² is not really a large island, but very lifely and colourful. Several languages are spoken: Dutch, English, Spanish and Papiamentu. The official currency is at present the NAF (Netherland Antilles Florin) or in short „Guilder”, but they will change to US Dollar by 1st Jan 2011. When going shopping in a super market or paying in a restaurant the bill will show 3 currencies: NAF, USD and EUROs, all three of which the change is always given in NAF. Apart from the good looking locals many different kinds of animals live on the island, such as big lizzards, lguanas, parrots, flamingos and plenty of seagals, and many wild donkeys. Nobody needs them anymore, they are replaced by cars and tractors. Not to forget to mention the warm, sunny weather and the crystall clear water with coral reefs, a paradise for snorkling and scooper diving. If somebody plans to operate from Bonaire, please contact Peter PJ4NX, who will assist with house and car rental. Finally we wish to express our sincere thanks to all members of EUDXF for their generous financial support. VY73 de Andi DL9USA and Jan DJ8NK A man should keep his friendship in constand repair (Samuel Johnson (1755).

DXpedition to Bonaire PJ4