OJØ - OHØ /K7BV
Updated April 7, 2000
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The following provides details of two DXpeditions to Market Reef and the Aland Islands that occurred in May and September 1999 by Dennis Motschenbacher K7BV with generous help from Finnish friends Ari OH1EH, Jukka OH2MAM, Juha OH1JT, Seppo OH1VR, Pasi OH1MM and "The Boss" Lars OHØRJ.
Over 26,000 QSOs were logged during the two trips.
Over 26,000 QSOs were logged during the two trips.
September DXpedition Report
Another omen of trouble ahead occurred at the Mariehamn airport when the helicopter pilot refused to carry the three operators and their gear to the reef in one trip, instead stubbornly demanding that two expensive round-trips would be required. Lars and a lot of the gear went out on the first trip with Seppo and Dennis following with the rest of the gear later.
Disturbed propagation greeted the ops after they rushed through antenna erection work necessitated by the delayed arrival on Market Reef. The propagation gods seriously challenged the operators' attempts to achieve their goal of making 12,000 QSOs. The trip did keep its focus, though, on making as many 160 and 80 meters QSOs as possible. North American contacts were few and far between on all bands with the RF absorbing auroral zone extending deep into southern latitudes. K indexes as high as 6 were copied by the anxious operators. They also received reports of visible aurora as far south as southern Germany.
The inverted L for 160 and the vertical for 80 were erected on the reef as planned but even this effort did not produce the desired contacts with the North American Top Band crowd who so generously financially supported the DXpedition. Dennis concentrated on these two bands each night ignoring openings on the other bands. The antennas did produce QSOs on both bands as far away as VK6 and other distant points. The only NA QSO completed on 160 was almost perdicably made with VE1ZZ. W3UR got the first 80 meter contact but only a small handful of other NA QSOs were logged there. 40 was also a disappointment to NA with only one good pile-up producing opening - and that being during that last 2 hours on the reef.
The September trip low bands effort did produce over 300 160 meter contacts while 800 QSOs were logged on 80.
Slightly over 10,000 total contacts were made on all bands 160 - 10 meters.
The September trip involved use of the following callsigns by the various operators: OJØ/K7BV, OJØVR, OJØRJ, OJØJ, and OJØ/OH1MM. The combined total number of contacts was in excess of 10,000. This is the second 1999 trip to Market Reef by the group. The earlier May DXpedition netted 6,000 OJØ/K7BV QSOs while Seppo OH1VR logged an additional 2,000 QSOs during that trip using OJØVR.
Photos from the May trip are available below for your enjoyment.
The largest island is "Fasta Aland" (the Main Island), where 90 per cent of the population live. It extends over more than 70 per cent of the total land area of Aland, and its greatest distance is 50 km from north to south and 45 km from east to west. In spite of its small land area, Aland can boast 905 km of public roads.
Population. Today Aland has the largest population it has ever had. According to a travel book written by F.W. Radloff in the 18th century, the population of Aland at that time was about 11,000, inhabiting 80 of the islands. In 1905 there were some 22,000 inhabitants, living in 150 islands altogether. In time many of the islands have been joined together or with the Main Island by means of bridges and causeways, while others are depopulated, and the 25,000 inhabitants live in only 65 of the islands. Slightly over 40 per cent of the population now live in the only town, Mariehamn.
There is no vegetation on the rock. A breakwater points to the north trying to stem powerful waves that frequently wash against the lighthouse. The country is just as wide as an 80 meter dipole.
Market Reef (Market Fyr) is a tiny dot of rock at 60 degrees, 18 minutes, 10 seconds north and 19 degrees, 8 minutes, 3 seconds east on most maps and charts is nonexistent on others. The reef is roughly 2 1/2 hours west of the westernmost island of Aland by small boat. It sits astride the Finnish-Swedish border and is of importance for its computerized remotely controlled weather station and because its lighthouse warns freighters plying the nearby shipping lanes of the dangerous rocks which abound in the area.
The lighthouse was erected in 1885 by the Russians, who then ruled Finland. Early records are quite difficult to come by and are written n the Russian language. Wooden barracks were constructed on the reef for the workmen who were to build the light. They began to lay its foundation from the rock quarried on the site. A tremendous storm swept away the barracks and the portion of the foundation that had been completed. Three men were lost to the angry sea. After this disaster, plans were revised and stone for the new foundation was quarried and cut to proper size in the Helsinki area and ferried to Market Reef ready to be set into place. The work crews slept aboard a ship anchored nearby and ferried to and from the construction site daily. Work was completed in a year.
During ensuing years two additional buildings were added and connected to the lighthouse by an elevated catwalk some 15 feet in the air. Access to the catwalk is via a series of iron rungs set in the wall of then furthest building or by a steel ladder at the lighthouse end. The middle building is the power generation site for the complex and houses three aged and unreliable diesel generators.
"The Finnish Coast Guard, through efforts by Lars Nikko, OHØRJ, was kind enough to airlift a new diesel generator in by helicopter and permit us to use it for our operation. Market Reef Power Unlimited (OHØRJ) was like working from commercial mains."
Dennis Motschenbacher - K7BV
Licensed as WV6WTD in 1962 at the age of 13, Dennis is an active DXer and Contester currently living in Carson City, Nevada. Previous calls and DXpedition experience include KZ5M AA7VB 8P C6 CY9 J6 KC6 KH2 KH6 KL7 KP2 KP4 KP5 KP6 OH OHØ OJØ P4 S5 SV9 TI V2 V4 V6 VE VK VP2E VP9 XE YB9 YV.
Dennis has been clocked at QSO rates of 300+/hr on both CW and Phone. Numerous contest certificates and plaques occupy proud space on his wall including two Third Place - World finishes in ARRL DX CW contests and three Top Ten - World IARU HF Radiosport CW finishes. He currently serves as Editor for the National Contest Journal; is an ARRL Life Member and past President of the Texas DX Society.
George Wagner K5KG of recent 3B7RF fame performed Pilot Station duties.
CW and SSB on all bands 160 through 10 meters. Dennis and the operators were on the air with at least one station on the air nearly 24 hours a day except during antenna work.
Dennis took advantage of the new CEPT participation by the USA to operate as OJØ/K7BV and OHØ/K7BV.
The following equipment was used by K7BV in additional to the customary assortment of keyers, paddles, headphones, etc.
OHØ - The OHØZ station has an impressive assortment of antennas to chose from including:
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