XR0YS Easter Island DXpedition

May/June 2016

Operator: Jeff Martin – K5WE

The DXpedition

OP: Jeff Martin – K5WE
Hanga Roa
Easter Island
CQ 12 – ITU 63
Grid – DG52GU

Original XR0YS Announcement:

Jeff, K5WE, will be active as XR0YS from Hanga Roa, Easter Island beginning May 25 through June 8, 2016. I will operate in the WPX CW contest. Before and after the contest, activity will be mostly CW with some RTTY on all bands 80 through 6 meters. I will occasionally check 6 meters for openings, but priority will be low bands. Activity on 160 will depend on room for an antenna. Equipment will include a K3 radio and an Expert 1.3K-FA amp. Antennas will include a Hexbeam for 20-6 meters and Inv. V’s for the other bands. Subject to a reliable internet connection, logs will be uploaded to ClubLog daily. Logs will be uploaded to LoTW upon returning home. QSL via ClubLog OQRS or via K5WE. Hope to put you in the log. Special thanks to the Radio Club de Chile for help with licensing… 73, Jeff

XR0YS DXpedition Update:

Operation did not begin from Easter Island until 1709Z on Friday May 27th. A total of 13,161 QSO’s were made from Rapa Nui in 11 days, 11 hours start to finish operating time. Of those, 12,386 were on CW, 749 were on RTTY, and 26 QSO’s were made on 10 meter SSB. 49.4% of QSO’s were with North America, 30.6% were with Europe, and 17.4% were with Asia. Propagation was generally poor in the mornings, but picked up every day from early afternoon to midnight. I was a little surprised that prop to JA wasn’t as good as expected. The Hexbeam for 20-10 meters was up only 20 feet, but performed well. Inverted V’s for 40 and 30 were also about 20 feet high, hung from short trees, but they seemed to work great in the evenings and early mornings. I quit the WPX contest for awhile both Sat and Sun mornings and went to 17 and 12 meters where the pileups were better. I had an intermittant SWR problem on 12 meters which limited my activity on that band. Logs have been uploaded to LoTW. QSL cards have been ordered. Thanks for all the QSO’s… 73, Jeff – K5WE, XR0YS

XR0YS DXpedition Story:

Officially known as Isla de Pascua and also known as Rapa Nui, Easter Island has a population of 5,800 people, mostly in the town of Hanga Roa in the SW part of the Island. 90% of the island is protected within Rapa Nui National Park. The island is very isolated. The nearest inhabited land is Pitcairn Island, 1,289 miles away with a population of 50. The nearest town with a population of 500 is Rikitea, on the island of Mangareva, 1,619 miles away in the Gambier Islands of French Polynesia. The nearest continental point lies in central Chile, 2,182 miles away. Easter Island is 2,334 miles from Santiago, Chile. Santiago Chile is 5,076 miles from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Easter Island is 8,850 miles from Frankfurt, Germany. Easter Island in 9,861 miles from Moscow, Russia. Easter Island is 8,399 miles from Tokyo, Japan… Easter Island is a long way from anywhere…

The island is about 15 miles long by 7 miles wide; its overall shape is triangular. It has an area of 63 square miles and a maximum elevation of 1,663 feet. There are three Rano (freshwater crater lakes), at Rano Kau, Rano Raraku, and Rano Aroi. The Terevaka volcano is in the NW corner, Puakatiki or Poike Volcano is in the NE corner, and Rano Kau Volcano is in the SW corner of the island. The Moai manufacturing site and quarry is located at the Rano Raraku Volcano in the NE near Poike.

Rapa Nui was first settled by Polynesian people most likely from Marquesas sometime between 700-1100. It had an estimated population of 15,000 by the year 1600. Human activity, the introduction of the Polynesian rat and overpopulation led to gradual deforestation and extinction of natural resources which severely weakened the Rapa Nui civilization. The name “Easter Island” was given by the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen on Easter Sunday in 1722. By 1722, the island’s population had dropped to 2,000-3,000. European diseases and Peruvian slave raiding in the 1860’s further reduced the Rapa Nui population, to a low of only 111 inhabitants in 1877.

In Spanish, “Isla de Pascua” is famous for its monolithic statues called “Moai” created by the early Rapa Nui people. The large stone statues, or Moai, were carved in the period 1100-1680. A total of 887 monolithic stone statues have been inventoried on the island and in museum collections. Almost all (95%) Moai were carved from compressed, easily worked solidified volcanic ash or tuff found at a single site on the side of the extinct volcano Rano Raraku. The native islanders who carved them used only stone hand chisels. The stone chisels were sharpened by chipping off a new edge when dulled. While sculpting was going on, the volcanic stone was splashed with water to soften it. A single Moai took a team of five or six men approximately a year to complete.

Only a quarter of the statues were installed. Nearly half remained in the quarry at Rano Raraku, and the rest sat elsewhere around the island, presumably on their way to intended locations. The largest Moai raised on a platform is know as “Paro”. It weighs 82 tons and is 32 feet long.

I left Tulsa for DFW on the afternoon of Tuesday May 24th. I flew overnight from DFW to Santiago, Chile. I missed my connecting flight from Santiago to Easter Island, spent the night at the airport Holiday Inn, then took a LAN airlines flight to Easter the next day. It’s a 5.5 hour flight. My host on Easter Island was Jose, CE0YHO. I had contacted him by email and rented a cabin on his property. I unpacked and began setup that afternoon/evening, Thursday. I got the station put together and the Hexbeam assembled and installed on a mast up about 20 feet.

I got on the air at 1709Z on Friday the 27th of May. First QSO was with DL6KVA on 17 meters CW. I stopped at 2151Z after 519 QSOs with Europeans and W’s to put up the 40 meter dipole in a small tree up about 20 feet. It worked great. I began working the WPX CW contest Friday evening. I quickly discovered that propagation was POOR every morning from Easter Island. The best band in the mornings was probably 17 meters and it wasn’t great. On Saturday and Sunday of the contest weekend, my rate was so slow on the contest bands I just temporarily quit the contest and went to 17 meters where prop was better and pileups a little better. I also worked some on 12 meters.

From Easter Island propagation was good from about 2PM until midnight every day. I had big pileups. Prop to JA was surprisingly not so good. Evening prop on 20, 40, and 30 meters was great to stateside and Europe. I put up a 30 meter dipole in a tree up about 20 feet. It worked great. 30 or 40 was open daily from 3AM to 5:30AM to JA. Then the bands got poor until after noon. Due to lack of space, I decided not to put up any antennas for 80 or 160.

I had an intermittant 12 meter problem with SWR and with hanging of PTT for a couple seconds. SWR could usually be worked around with the tuner, but a 2-3 second hang after hitting enter in N1MM was a show stopper. End result was less activity on 12 meters. Upon disassembly of the Hexbeam I found about 2 feet of the 12 and 15 meter wires welded together, probably due to rain/wetness and high power RF.

Total results in 11 days 11 hours operating time start to finish was 13,161 QSOs in 111 countries. 94% of QSO’s were on CW. Among the highlights of my operation was a several hour opening on 10 meters into Eastern Europe and Russia. I was working Russians on 10 meters at midnight their local time. Another highlight was just the pileups. They were great. I usually would work a band until the pileup thinned out, then move to another band and start up again…

My last QSO was with LZ3ZX on 8Jun2016 at 04:15Z on 40 meters CW. XR0YS went QRT and began tear down of the station. The next two days were spent traveling home, Easter Island to Santiago to DFW and finally to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

I enjoyed my time on Easter Island. With over 13,000 QSOs in 11 days it was a successful operating event. I would like to thank the Radio Club de Chile, in particular el presidente Dino – CE3PG, for arranging licensing. Also thanks to my host Jose, CE0YHO. Also thanks to all the DXers who worked me. I hope I put on a good show. CU from the next one… 73, Jeff – XR0YS, K5WE