EME from West Africa

By Mike Fulcher KC7V

I was visiting Ned’s house, AA7A, back in 2005 and he happened to be on EME at the time. He said “listen to this”. It was RN6BN on 2m SSB via the moon and he was S9. RN6BN ran an array of 64 yagis for EME, the biggest in the world. Still, I was WOW’d and became hooked on getting set up on EME for myself.

I acquired a couple of years experience when Ned and I talked about incorporating EME operations for our upcoming Voodoo Contest Group trip to Mali late 2006. Our first priority is always the contest but we allocated an extra 3 days to stay and do nothing but EME from TZ6NS. We built the dual polarity M2 28 element yagi before the contest.

28 element 2m EME antenna

In the preparation stage, I bought the yagi and packed my Commander 2m amp, a single 3-500Z, in a Pelican case for travel to Africa. Ned acquired a 60 watt transverter and built all the needed cables and connections as well as a GPS device to keep our timing accurate. Ned devised a way to rotate and elevate the yagi so we could follow the moon. We used my old boy scout compass, or when we could not see the moon we used the fist over fist method to determine elevation – and it actually worked. We had a blast at TZ6NS and decided we’d try again from 3X in 2007. We made lots of first ever EME contacts from these countries.

2m EME at 3X5A

For 2007, at 3X5A, we added a 2nd M2 dual polarity 28 element yagi. Now we had to devise a way to mount, rotate and elevate two yagis, not to mention how we were going to get them up in the air. We managed to get them up at 3X5A with some help but discovered a problem with a piece of coax. Unfortunately, it was too high for either of us to reach – we were looking at not being able to get on that evening, as it was already getting late. Using a little ingenuity we found a ladder but that still was not high enough. We had to mount the ladder on a piece of cement and put our tool box on top of the ladder to get close. I still could not reach it. However, Ned is an inch or two taller than me and is a bigger guy so he was elected to climb the ladder, get on top of a relatively unstable tool box and reach, tippy toe, with one hand to get the piece of coax that needed replacing. It worked and we were on the air. The crazy things we do at times to enjoy our hobby!

We were very successful from 3X5A and enjoyed every contact. What an experience! The rest of the Voodudes thought we were crazy but it did not matter to us. To do something from a country that few, or maybe none, have ever done is quite a thrill.