ARRL DX Bulletin 006: January 29, 1997

DX Bulletin 6 ARLD006
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT January 29, 1997
To all radio amateurs

ARLD006 VK0IR breaks record

VK0IR Breaks Record

The VK0IR Heard Island DXpedition is one for the record books. The DXpedition team left Heard island Wednesday, January 29, after racking up more than 80,000 contacts--a new DXpedition record. The VK0IR team was scheduled to leave Heard Island on January 31, but rough weather and high winds (combined with bone-chilling cold) forced an early shutdown. VK0IR hit the bands running on January 14 and didn't stop until January 27--a few days before the DXpedition's scheduled end. The result was excitement on a level rarely seen among the Amateur Radio ranks. Most of the stations worked were in Europe, the Eastern US and Japan. With 80,673 contacts in its logbooks, the widely heralded Heard Island DXpedition appears to have topped the previous record, held by the 1992 4J1FS DXpedition, which racked up nearly 74,500 QSOs in 15 days. (The ZA1A and 3Y0PI DXpeditions tallied 69,500 and 60,000 contacts, respectively.)

On its final weekend, the team began to dismantle some antennas prior to going QRT. A special effort to give the "small pistols" a chance at putting Heard Island into their logs took a back seat to operator safety and equipment security, as the team awaited the arrival of the ship on January 28. Even so, many US operators with very modest stations enjoyed success. One East Coast station reported working VK0IR on 20 meters with just 4.5 W output. The effort might be considered all the more remarkable because it took place during the sunspot minimum.

The Heard Island DXpedition was reputedly the largest, most well organized and--with a budget of some 320,000 dollars--the most expensive DXpedition ever. Last fall, the ARRL Colvin Award Grants Committee authorized a grant of 5000 dollars for the Heard Island DXpedition.

In a sense, the Internet--often thought of as "competition" for ham radio--has been the medium that helped establish a sense of cohesion and community during the VK0IR operation. The DXpedition has heavily employed the Internet to promote the DXpedition and to spread the latest word from Heard--a territory of Australia located in the South Indian Ocean. The DXpedition's 'net presence also offered an opportunity for hams to get a blow-by-blow account of the DXpedition and to post their comments, success stories and gripes. News and pictures of the operation continue to appear in The Heard Island Tribune, edited on-line by Don Greenbaum, N1DG, another of the DXpedition pilots. John Devoldere, ON4UN, moderated the reflector and issued daily postings about the individual operators, changes in frequencies and tips on operating behavior, while the VK0IR home page offered additional general information. Those who worked VK0IR (or thought they had) have used the VK0IR home page to check the DXpedition's logs, which were forwarded via pacsat to servers in the US and in Europe.

An e-mail note received here at HQ from Jon Jones, N0JK, of Wichita, Kansas, summed up the feelings of many grateful operators: "Thanks to the Heard ops, pilot stations, ON4UN and all the other behind-the-scenes support cast for bringing the magic back to Amateur Radio."

The DXpedition team does plan a brief (one-night) stop at Kerguelen Island on its return trip. It is not certain that any radio operation will take place from Kerguelen, but if it does, Devoldere says it likely will be on the low bands only, and mostly--if not exclusively--on CW.

The QSL address for the VK0IR and the preceding TO0R operation from Reunion Island is INDEXA, c/o W4FRU, Box 5127, Suffolk, VA 23435. QSLs for VK0IR and TO0R should be mailed separately to avoid delays. For more information, check the Heard Island home page at