Antarctica calling…

2200 UTC Friday night and I’m parked right beside the sea wall at the bottom of Southampton Water.  This is the scene for my biggest ‘DX’ contact yet and a very special one: 9000 miles to the south my friends and former colleagues at Rothera Research Station, Antarctica are about to give me a call on the radio.

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My location is chosen for its close proximity to the sea water which enhances the performance of my very basic helical antenna.  Using the VOACAP online propagation prediction tool shows that at this time of night (and after our signals bounce off the Atlantic ocean twice) the 20m band should have some chance of working between our locations:

VOACAP Southampton Prediction

… and sure enough it was!  VP8ROT came through loud and clear, almost as if they were on the other side of the hill, and after a very happy 20 minutes chatting to the other side of the planet I have a new and very special pin in the map below (the yellow one at the bottom!):

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Amateur radio contacts to date.

And just for good measure, a couple of pictures of the scene at the other end of the contact which I think we can all agree is a lot more interesting than a Ford Mondeo parked by the sea:

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Terri talking to field parties over the radio on a winter evening, 2009.

Antennas at Rothera late on a summer's evening, 2009
Antennas at Rothera late on a summer’s evening, 2010

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