Thursday, October 21, 2010

KONG1 to KONG20 - Highlights

We've come a long way since the first KONG DX-pedition, in January 1997. KONG1 was a chilly affair. The house was in dire need of repairs, the toilet was outdoor with little protection from the wind, and the wind was strong. Temperatures were around -10 Celsius. Blowing snow with zero visibility forced my VW Golf out of the road three times (no damage done but the snowplough driver got tired of towing me back on the road again). The antennas (one? two?)  had no feed lines, no terminations and no splitters. We had one radio and one cassette recorder each. We soon found out that January was not a good month for travelling and DX-ing in this part of the world, so we decided that the next KONG would be in October. And so it has been since.

We've come a long way since 1997. Here are some highlights:

First coax feed line: KONG2, October 1997. Last coax feed line: KONG19. The KONG20 DX-pedition uses only 100 ohm lamp cord (twin-lead) feed lines.

First antenna splitter: KONG2. We needed to get rid of the one-antenna-per-direction-per-person chaos, so we got splitters. Amplified 1:4 splitters and even one 1:8 splitter have been in use ever since.

First Mini Disc recorder: KONG3, 1998. MDs were far superior to cassette recorders both in terms of capacity and ease of use. Especially useful was the pre-recording buffer featured on the Sony MZ-R50. We never had to lose an unexpected ID after that.

First real multi-receiver setup: KONG7, 2002. 11 receivers. With splitters, we could operate more receivers. And with MiniDisc recorders, it was easy to record, so the potential of hearing more stations increased. And we did hear more stations.

First PC recording: KONG8, October 2003. We had finally brought PCs to the site, and TotalRecorder proved to be an excellent replacement to MiniDisc, although the latter continued to be used. KONG8 also was the first KONG with a PC-controlled receiver, with Rolf's Winradio G303i.

First Real Pacific: KONG8. While Hawaii and 4QD 1548 in Australia were common catches, we hadn't heard anything else from the Pacific, until we heard Samoa 540, Kiribati 846 and Tonga 1017 that year. Subsequent KONGs would bring several more Pacific countries.

First (and only) catastrophic KONG: KONG9, November 2003. Arnstein couldn't take part in KONG8, so he and Ole Forr joined forces for an extra KONG in November, hoping to hear more Pacific. On the plane to Berlevag they read about the outbreak of the worst solar storm of that solar cycle... A total of three North American stations, and Peru-1470, were logged.

First KING crab: Probably KONG11, 2004. Records are a bit sketchy on this.

First New Zealand: KONG12, 2005. October 11 was the date of the first NZ catch in Norway. Several more NZ were logged by KONG13 a couple of weeks later. The past years have brought the number of New Zealand logs to well over 50.

Highest number of conventional receivers present in one KONG: 21, at KONG15, 2006. Seven IC-R75, three NRD-525, three Etón E1, two IC-746Pro; one each of IC-703, IC-7000, EK-895, HF-1000A, WJ-8712P and AR7030. A logistic nightmare.

First SDR: KONG17, 2007. A total of 10 RF Space SDR-IQs were present, in addition to 15 conventional receivers. In later KONGs, SDRs like the SDR-IQ, Perseus, and Excalibur have been the receivers of choice. Only one conventional receiver, the R75, is operational during KONG20.

KONG main crew:
Bjarne Mjelde (host, 19 KONGs), Arnstein Bue (15), Rolf Torvik (9), OJ Sagdahl (9).
KONG almost main crew: TJ Bråtveit (6)
KONG guests: Ole Forr (4), Tore B. Vik (3), Jan Alvestad (2), Tore Nilsen (2), Torgeir Woxen (1)
Other guests in Kongsfjord (from 1974 to date): Arvid Frøsland, Per Ingebretsen, Kai M. Mauseth, Dag Leraand, Geir Stokkeland, Torgeir Nyen, Antti Altonen, Håkan Sundman, Hannu Tikkanen, Jim Solatie.

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